Civil war in Yemen?

I was watching middle east news show and they were describing a civil war in Yemen now spilling over into Saudi Arabia. Is this about to get big? We don’t get a lot of coverage about it in our news. The Saudis are using their air force to try to contain it. Anybody over there that can provide a heads up?

Old as the hills in some senses. Northern Yemen is the functional equivalent to northwest Pakistan in Arabia - lawless, tribal, blood feud and bandit-riven and virtually ungovernable. Now add to that religiously distinct - they are Zaydi Shi’a and were ruled theocratically until 1962.

The current rebellion, far as I can tell, is just a continuation of a long tradition of struggle against the central government - any central government. It isn’t even about religious repression - the current president of Yemen is also Zaydi ( albeit not a terribly devout one ). Even were it successful and re-established a theocratic state, it is not about to expand anywhere - there aren’t really any substantial numbers of Zaydi Shi’a anywhere outside of Northern Yemen. It would just become more of a stagnant backwater than Yemen already is.

So, no - becoming “big” probably isn’t an issue. The actual area of contention is tiny even by Yemeni standards - Sa’dah. Worst case scenario would be the establishment of a Taliban-like state and terrorist haven in Yemen, but frankly that seems unlikely from my corner. If it did occur it would probably be only a fragment of present-day Yemen anyway.

Saudi Arabia got drawn in by a combination of cross-border raiding, worries over Iranian meddling and the specter of a hostile Taliban-like Zaydi state on their border.

I edited the thread title to change “way” to “war.”

General Questions Moderator

I was going to ask you to do that but I just got back from walking the dogs. Thanks According to Al Jazeera it seems a bit uglier than normal. Not a lot of refugees yet, but the Saudis have abandoned 240 village in front of the conflicts.

I’ve been to Yemen and have lived in the region for a while. I can see this expanding a little bit, but not into central/south Yemen. Remember than most Yemenis think of their tribal identity before their Yemeni one. It could spill a bit into Saudi, but is really a proxy war between the Saudis and Iranians, with Yemen caught in the middle… much like US/USSR in Afghanistan or Israel/Syria in Lebanon.

What connection do the people of Yemen feel with the government?
Why do the Saudis and Iranians want to hurt each other. They are both oil producers .

One’s Sunni and the other’s Shiite. Saudi Arabia is, somehow, the more dominant player in the region (Egypt’s important too sure), primarily due to their custodianship of Mecca and Medina, and billions in $$$ from the US to a military that sucks. Iran, on the other hand, is soon to be the dominant player in the region and would politely like to have custodianship of Mecca and Medina. They also want to remind everyone that it is called the Persian Gulf for a reason.

Do you have a cite that Iran wants control of Mecca and Medina? I’m skeptical.

I think the reason for their taking sides in the conflict is in your first sentence. The Iranians see themselves as protectors of their Shia co-religionists (which was their original reason for funding Hezbollah, as well), while the Saudis wish to keep the current status quo of a Middle East largely dominated by Sunni (and do not treat their own Shia minority very well).

Eh, it’s more of a Robert Baer assertion. The Devil We Know, so since it’s Robert Baer take however you feel about him. Hooman Majd doesn’t really cover the topic much, but does express sentiment that Mecca/Medina would be off in better hands than the wahhabi ones currently there. And I’m sure Thomas Friedman has “met” a cab driver or two with an opinion on the subject, heh.

While not doubting Iran’s interests in stirring up trouble in SA’s backdoor, one should keep in mind that Yemeni Shi’a are overwhelmingly of a different sect than that practiced in Iran. The Zaydi of Yemen and Ithna’ashari of Iran ( and elswhere ) have been distinct since more or less the 8th century and have some significant variance between their respective theologies. Their natural affinities are less than the general term “Shi’a” may seem to imply.