The war in Yemen has begun in earnest now

After years of slowly building chaos, The Houthi force is moving against Aden, the government-in-the-south has fled the country, and — as of tonight — the Royal Saudi Air Force has launched an operation into Yemen under the GCC (or possibly the Arab League) at the request of the fallen government.

Flag of Yemen

Flag of Yemen

10 countries are participating in the operation already: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, and Sudan are all said to be participating, with logistical and intelligence support from the United States.

The involvements of Egypt, Pakistan, Morocco, and Sudan are very unexpected and indicate a much wider operation than anticipated. It also strongly suggests that Saudi Arabia was leaning heavily on every government in the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, and South Asia to whom it has given a lot of money previously. Saudi Arabia is cashing in every favor for a blistering war against the quasi-Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen, unlike with the rather lackadaisical coalition to support the United States against ISIS in Syria. Qatar, which sent no jets at all in the Syria campaign, sent 10 tonight.

Bahrain, which only participated minimally on the first day of the Syria raids, also sent 15 jets. Bahrain’s Sunni monarchy also “owes” Saudi Arabia for brutally suppressing their own Shia uprising in 2011 (during the Arab Spring) with GCC shock troops.

The UAE and Jordan also sent plenty of bombers over Yemen in the initial hours, in a marked contrast from their wavering in the Syria campaign.

This massive undertaking should, in my opinion, also be taken as a clear signal that Saudi Arabia firmly prioritizes the “threat” from Iran and Iranian proxies (which include the Houthis in Yemen but also 100,000 anti-ISIS fighters across Iraq and Hezbollah anti-ISIS units in western Syria) well above the threat from ISIS, despite tough talk on the latter some months ago.

Meanwhile, Iran has countless military advisers and trainers on the ground assisting the huge Iraqi campaign to re-take Tikrit from ISIS, has been providing close-air support and bombers against ISIS all over the Iraqi skies, and reportedly may even have 30,000 regular troops fighting in Iraq directly.

If I’m looking at the facts and figures, Saudi Arabia and the Arab League in general — the purported American allies — are doing far less to combat ISIS than Iran, even if you buy the theory that Iran’s support for Assad accidentally helped create ISIS in the first place.

This war in Yemen against the Houthis, which Saudi Arabia has been stirring up violently for years, seems essentially to be more of an indirect war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

And this doesn’t even begin to touch the actual al Qaeda presence in Yemen.

Could Be Worse: Immigration Reform Edition

Tonight I clicked on a BBC headline with a meaning so opaque to me it might as well have been a string of wingdings characters:
Kuwait ‘has Comoros plan for Bidun’

I also clicked because I had been researching Comoros the other day so it caught my attention. But I was actually even more astonished and bemused once I read through the article.

Here’s the problem it turns out Kuwait’s government needs to solve: There are about 100,000 people — referred to as “Bidun” — living unlawfully and long-term in Kuwait without documents from any country. This has been an issue ever since the oil boom started quite a few decades ago. Complicating things, many born there are considered genuinely “stateless” people, since Kuwaiti citizenship is not automatic to every person born on the country’s soil, unlike in the United States and many other countries. A governmental review claims that only 34,000 could already qualify to receive Kuwaiti citizenship. Thus they still needed to figure out what to do with the remaining two thirds.

Kuwait’s solution for that remainder is … to give them all citizenship from the African islands nation of Comoros (off Madagascar). Comoros is a tiny and dirt-poor Arab League member state located in the southern Indian Ocean. It is best noted for having had 20 attempted or successful coups since July 1975 (which is why I was researching the country).

Perhaps even more puzzling in this already oddly capricious and arbitrary plan is that the Bidun wouldn’t actually move to Comoros, they would just receive Comoran citizenship and documents and would be able to stay in Kuwait on economic and other visas … unless deported “home” for criminal activity.

Another fun twist in this plan: Comoros doesn’t even have an embassy in Kuwait yet from which to distribute citizenship papers to all their new patriots.

I mean, I suppose this plan is better than mass deportations, mass enslavement, or mass slaughter — things other countries have employed before for similar problems — but in terms of a comprehensive plan for absorbing a large population of stateless migrants and native-born peoples this has to be one of the most bananas.

It really puts U.S. dysfunction on settling the status of undocumented immigrant populations in a much more charitable light. At least we haven’t tried to solve the issue by making millions of U.S.-born Latinos citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia…yet.

Adapted from Wikimedia by Arsenal For Democracy

Adapted from Wikimedia by Arsenal For Democracy