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In the War in Yemen, the United States supplies the planes, arms, and logistical support to Saudi Arabia, it trained the pilots and it refuels the planes in the bombing runs against Yemen (Pawlyk, 2018; Turse, 2011; Wickenden, 2018). According to the United Nations, Yemen now has the "the worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time". Yemen faces the fastest growing cholera epidemic ever recorded (Nikbakht & McKenzie 2018; Carey & Algethami, 2018).

US Senate: No military support for Saudi war in Yemen. Pentagon: LOL

Just 16 days after a bipartisan group of US senators approved a resolution to end military support for Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the civil war in Yemen, the Trump administration is doing what appears to be exactly the opposite.

The Dec. 19 measure passed 56-41, and was the first time the Senate has invoked the War Powers Act of 1973, which requires the president to consult with Congress “in every possible instance” before sending troops into conflict. The four-year-old conflict in Yemen broke out when the Houthis, a rebel group backed by Iran, seized the capital city of Sana’a. A Saudi-led coalition intervened and an estimated 50,000 people have died since. Nearly 12 million are reported to be on the verge of starvation.

“Today we declare we will not long participate in the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen which has caused the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth, with 85,000 children starving to death,” Bernie Sanders of Vermont said on the Senate floor. “Today we tell the despotic regime in Saudi Arabia that we will no longer be part of their military adventurism.”

The resolution was largely symbolic (GOP leaders blocked the House from taking up any Yemen-related legislation for the rest of the year), and the US Air Force today (Jan. 3) issued a request seeking suppliers to provide airplane parts—horizontal stabilizers, fuel lines, circuit-card assemblies, air inlets—to keep Saudi F-15 jet fighters flying.

“This solicitation provides a direct counter to the claims the US makes at times, that if the US didn’t sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, Russia and China will,” Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch, told Quartz. “But these weapons systems are all from US manufacturers and they require US parts, and they can’t get those from Russia or China. It’s useful for people to understand that even if Congress were to ban sales [to Saudi] tomorrow, it wouldn’t significantly alter the defense industry’s relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

Saudi Arabia has the third-largest fleet of F-15s in the world, behind only the US and Israel. Since March 2015, Saudi and coalition aircraft have carried out over 16,000 air strikes according to human-rights groups, nearly one-third of which have hit civilian sites including hospitals, weddings, and water-desalination plants. In August, a Saudi-led coalition warplane bombed a school bus in northern Yemen, killing 51 people, 40 of them children. The coalition blamed “mistakes in compliance to the rules of engagement.”

“The Saudis have prosecuted the war in Yemen with little regard for the United States’ views while simultaneously demanding the Pentagon’s logistical support and the uninterrupted flow of munitions,” Steven Cook of the Council on Foreign Relations wrote recently. As of November, US tankers no longer refuel coalition aircraft over Yemen. Yet the US military continues to provide maintenance, tech support, and training to the Royal Saudi Air Force, as investigative journalist Ken Klippenstein has reported.

It would be difficult to impose restrictions on Saudi Arabia use of US-supplied materiel writ large, said Scott Paul, Oxfam America senior humanitarian policy advisor.

“If your existing contract is for horizontal stabilizers for F-15s, how do you legislate that? Yes, it’s OK to provide horizontal stabilizers for F-15s if they’re not fighting in Yemen?” he told Quartz. “Members [of Congress] have been uneasy writing off entire defense contracts with the Saudis. They would rather find a more precise way to extract the US from its role in the conflict in Yemen.”

The public conversation around the US-Saudi defense relationship has made it out to be an all-or-nothing proposition. The F-15 procurement notice shows a bit of the “humdrum, everyday foundational piece that isn’t really entering the conversation,” Paul said. Military cooperation with Saudi Arabia will certainly continue in a broad sense, especially as the US has five strategic bases in the kingdom. However, he continued, “there are a lot of people who take exception to the fact that this alliance is uncontroversial.”

In September, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was “undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure.” Pompeo’s statement drew an immediate rebuke from California Democratic congressman Ro Khanna, who called it “a farce.”

Rep. Ro Khanna ✔ @RepRoKhanna

Pompeo’s ‘certification’ is a farce. The Saudis deliberately bombed a bus full of children. There is only one moral answer, and that is to end our support for their intervention in Yemen.

If this executive will not do it, then Congress must pass a War Powers Resolution.

John Hudson ✔ @John_Hudson A month after a Saudi-led airstrike bombed a bus with children in it, Secretary Pompeo certifies today that Riyadh and UAE are "undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians"

Some legislators are now “trying to reshape the defense relationship around shared interests as opposed to a blank check,” said Paul.

Nevertheless, said Andrea Prasow, “This administration doesn’t intend to change its relationship with Saudi Arabia.”

How Yemen Became a Humanitarian Nightmare: Untangling a Complex War

June 13, 2018

When a civil war in Yemen erupted more than three years ago, it fractured what was already the poorest Arab nation and eventually plunged it into the planet’s worst humanitarian disaster.

While the world has turned its gaze from the prolonged conflict, it has ground on without easing and grown increasingly complex.

An assault by the Saudi-led coalition that has been battling Iran-backed Yemeni rebels for more than three yearsbegan Wednesday on the city of Al Hudaydah, which has a port that serves as a vital route for humanitarian aid and other vital supplies to the bulk of Yemen’s population. It was the latest turn in a situation moving toward catastrophe for millions of civilians.

The war has already killed thousands of civilians and left three million people internally displaced.

Who are the main parties to the conflict?

The conflict began as a fight between armed Houthi rebels from the north of the country and the government, then led by President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi. The Houthis are part of the Shiite Muslim minority in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia and its neighbor and close ally, the United Arab Emirates, intervened in 2015 because of perceived Iranian support for the rebels. The Sunni Muslim monarchy of Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran are rivals for power and influence across the Middle East, and Yemen has become a battlefield for one of the proxy wars between them.

Iran has denied supporting the Houthis, but Iranian-made missiles have been used by the group during the fighting.

Still, Yemen’s war stems more from a dispute about national political influence than sectarian conflict, analysts say.

The conflict has carved the country up into Houthi-controlled zones in much of the northwest, including the capital, Sana, and large parts of the south and east controlled by pro-government Saudi-led coalition forces.

How did Yemen’s conflict reach this point?

The conflict has its roots in Yemen’s Arab Spring uprising, which began in 2011 and forced the longtime authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, an ally of the United States, from power. Though Mr. Saleh had led a unified Yemen since the 1990s, competing interests loosened his grip on the nation. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most potent offshoots of the global terrorist network, thrived in large parts of the country, and Houthi rebels gained power in the north.

A demonstration calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down in Sana in 2011.CreditSamuel Aranda for The New York Times

Then, months after the Arab Spring protests began, Mr. Saleh handed leadership of Yemen to his deputy, Mr. Hadi, and stepped down. But Mr. Hadi struggled to control a nation already deeply divided, and Mr. Saleh continued to wield power by aligning with the Houthis.

By 2014, the Houthis and their supporters — including sections of the Yemeni military loyal to Mr. Saleh — stormed the capital and forced Mr. Hadi and his internationally recognized government into exile in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and several allied Arab states, including the United Arab Emirates, intervened in 2015. Backed by the United States and Western allies, they launched airstrikes on Houthi forces and drastically escalated the conflict. The Houthis responded by firing missiles into Saudi territory.

Civilians, mostly those in Houthi areas, were increasingly caught in the crossfire. Then Mr. Saleh, the former president, was killed by Houthis late last year after he abruptly abandoned the alliance with them.

For millions under Houthi control, the Red Sea port of Al Hudaydah is the only supply route for humanitarian aid — including food and medicine — and other vital materials. An estimated two-thirds of the population relies on it.

A ship carrying food aid docked at the port of the Yemeni coastal city of Al Hudaydah in 2017.CreditAbdo Hyder/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The city is home to about 400,000 people, and with just two main routes in and out, a prolonged siege could leave hundreds of thousands cut off, unable to flee. Many aid groups pulled staff members out of the city in anticipation of the battle.

Wednesday’s offensive was carried out by Yemeni troops, trained and funded by the United Arab Emirates. Both the Emiratis and the Saudis have accused the Houthis of using the city to smuggle Iranian weapons into Yemen. United Nations monitors say it’s unlikely that weapons are being smuggled through Red Sea ports, and are most probably coming across land borders.

A humanitarian crisis threatens to worsen.

Yemeni women holding their malnourished children during treatment at a hospital in Sana.

The United Nations and aid agencies have warned that an attack on Al Hudaydah could exacerbate an already out-of-control humanitarian crisis and called for a cease-fire.

“They must act now to secure a cease-fire before the people in Hodeidah city suffer the same fate as those in Aleppo, Mosul or Raqqa,” David Miliband, the president and chief executive officer of the International Rescue Committee, said in an email statement, likening the potential outcome to long-term sieges in Syria and Iraq. ' Relentless airstrikes have already shattered the infrastructure in many Houthi-controlled areas, with bombings damaging hospitals and sewage facilities.

Preventable diseases have run rampant. A 2017 cholera epidemic in Yemen was the largest and fastest outbreak of the disease on record. The United Nations has said both the Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis have carried out actions thatcould amount to war crimes, and both sides have been accused of intentionally targeting dozens of hospitals and health care facilities as well as civilian centers.

Even before the most recent offensive, millions of Yemenis were teetering on the brink of famine, with about 60 percent of the population of 29.3 million categorized as food insecure, according to the World Food Program.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said that it had stockpiled food, medicine and water purification systems in the area in anticipation of the battle, but that the aid could not be distributed while fighting is underway.

“Real people, real families, will suffer if no food is getting in, and we are concerned that ongoing military operations continue to hamper the arrival of essential goods,” said Robert Mardini, the regional director of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The Economist: How Yemen became the most wretched place on earth

The new Gulf war

How Yemen became the most wretched place on earth

A report from a conflict zone the world ignores

Print edition | Briefing

Nov 30th 2017 | ADEN, HODEIDA AND SANA’A

ALONG the road from the port city of Hodeida to Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, rugged mountains rise sharply from a coastal plain, then level off, giving way to a raised plateau. Old stone farmhouses overlook terraced fields, fed by mountain rains. To the south are lush forests, where baboons and wildcats live. Yemen’s vast deserts spread to the east. The diversity of the landscape is breathtaking. But amid all this natural beauty, there is misery.

Yemen was the poorest country in the Middle East even before the outbreak of war in 2014 between Houthi rebels and government forces. The conflict has heaped devastation upon poverty. Since fighting began Yemen has suffered the biggest cholera outbreak in modern history and is on the brink of the harshest famine the world has seen for decades. The conflict has shattered the water, education and health systems. The UN says that it is the world’s worst current humanitarian crisis. Three-quarters of the population of 28m need help.

The war in Yemen, and looming humanitarian catastrophe, has gone largely unnoticed beyond its borders. The fighting is rooted in old conflicts and now involves many groups, sucking in Yemen’s neighbours. But no single force has emerged that is strong enough or competent enough to hold the entire country together, making the prospects for peace dim.

Yemen’s infrastructure has been crumbling for years, so it is difficult for a visitor to tell between buildings that are falling down through neglect and those half-levelled by explosions. But locals point out the damage wrought by a bombing campaign led by Saudi Arabia, part of an international coalition that supports the government. Although American and British military advisers have helped the Saudis to choose targets, and their governments have provided them with precision-guided munitions, or “smart bombs”, the air strikes often seem to miss their mark.

The Houthis, a group of Shia rebels, are the main target. Unhappy with reforms to the state and their share of power, they swept out of their northern stronghold in 2014 and overran Sana’a. With the support of Iran and the forces of a former dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Houthis then moved south, taking control of most of the rest of Yemen. The president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, fled—first to Aden, a southern port, then to Saudi Arabia, where he remains. At his request, the Saudis stepped in and, with local forces, pushed back the Houthis to the north of the country.

Coalition air strikes have targeted factories and food-storage warehouses, as well as the airport in Sana’a. The road from the capital to Hodeida is pockmarked with craters. At the port, the cranes used to unload ships have been put out of action. Once the lifeline of the north, it now operates at well under its former capacity. For months America tried to supply new cranes, but they were turned back by Gulf members of the coalition.

Ships and planes carrying food, fuel and medicine are monitored by the UN to ensure that arms are not entering the north. But the coalition still holds up shipments. In November it cut off northern ports completely for over two weeks. Even the more limited blockade has created a cycle of suffering. A lack of fuel has crippled water-pumping stations, so locals have resorted to drinking from dirty sources. Cholera is often the result. The medicine to treat it is also held up by the coalition.

Nowhere is safe

Nothing seems out of bounds for the bombers. About 40 health centres were struck by the coalition over the first six months of the war. Amnesty International, a pressure group, has accused it of deliberately targeting civilians, hospitals, schools, markets and mosques; and of using imprecise weapons, such as cluster bombs, which most countries have outlawed. A spokesman for the coalition once declared the entire city of Saada, home to about 50,000 people, a military target.

That is where Ali Marhad (see picture) lived before fighting about a decade ago forced him to flee. He moved into a camp for displaced people in Mazraq. But it was bombed in 2015 by the coalition, killing 40 people, including his two sons, he says. He then moved to a camp in Hajjah. Earlier this year another bomb fell near his home, a collection of sticks and tarpaulin. It is exceedingly difficult for ordinary Yemenis to escape the fighting.

This is home for Ali Marhad

At least 10,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed by bullets and bombs. Around 40 times more people have died in Syria’s war, which also sent a wave of refugees to Europe. Perhaps that is why it has gained international attention, while the conflict in Yemen is overlooked. Less than half of the British public is aware of it. The death toll is anyway misleading. Many more Yemenis have died from a lack of food and medicine than from the fighting, of which the shortages are a direct result. The war continues, though the front line has hardly budged in the past year.

Fighting is not unusual in Yemen. Sitting at the south-western tip of the Arabian peninsula, on important trade routes, the land has long been coveted by foreign powers. In the past century it has seen about a dozen conflicts, involving over half a dozen countries.

Some seeds of today’s fighting were sown in battles in the 1960s—a civil war in the north and an insurgency against British colonial forces in the south. Two distinct Yemeni states arose. Leaders in the north turned to religious authority for their legitimacy, enlisting the support of Islamic clerics. The more secular south adopted Marxism and aligned itself with the Soviet Union. Political feuding led to further wars in 1972 and 1979, but economic hardship and the end of the cold war brought the sides together. After a series of failed agreements in the 1970s and 1980s, north and south at last agreed on a new constitution in 1990, in the hope that a show of unity would attract foreign investment and increase the extraction of Yemen’s oil.

Money briefly flowed in and oil out. But simmering ill-feeling erupted into civil war in 1994 in which Mr Saleh’s northern forces were victorious. In the aftermath his General People’s Congress (GPC) dominated parliament, then set about consolidating power. Parliamentary elections in 2003 were postponed and critics detained. Mr Saleh and his henchmen are thought to have stolen billions of dollars of state funds, while most Yemenis got by on less than $3 a day. Resentment of his rule grew.

The Zaydis, a Shia sect, who make up perhaps 40% of the population, felt particularly marginalised by Mr Saleh (though he is one of them). The Houthis emerged from this group in the 1990s, bristling at the growth of the Saudis’ conservative religious influence and Yemen’s alliance with America in its war on terror. Mr Saleh, in turn, accused the group of wanting to overthrow his government. Hundreds of people died in fighting between the Houthis and pro-government forces between 2004 and 2010—including Hussein Badruddin al-Houthi, the group’s leader, from whom it takes its name.

Opposition to Mr Saleh’s rule came to a head during the Arab spring of 2011, when tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets. With a push from the Gulf states, he stepped down in 2012 and was succeeded by Mr Hadi, his vice-president. Thus began a short-lived period of hope. Talks overseen by the UN led to a plan in 2014 for a new constitution enshrining a federal system and a parliament split between northerners and southerners.

The Houthis, however, continued to distrust the government. They boycotted an election won by Mr Hadi in 2012 and opposed the agreement of 2014, on the grounds that it stuck most of them in a region with few resources and no access to the sea. Nor had they received positions in the government that they wanted. Their frustration was shared by Mr Saleh, who sought to undermine the transition in the hope of regaining the presidency or, at least, handing it to his son.

Resentment towards Mr Hadi and disquiet over the growing power of Islah, an Islamist party affiliated to the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s main Islamist group, brought the Houthis and Mr Saleh into an unlikely alliance in 2014. In September of that year their forces entered Sana’a—and were welcomed by many Yemenis who had become disenchanted with Mr Hadi’s ineffective leadership. A power-sharing deal between the Houthis and the government was brokered by the UN—and then ignored. In early 2015 the rebels seized full control of the capital. By March they had made it to Aden.

Muhammad fears a Houthi

But it was also becoming clear that the Houthis, motivated by grievances, did not have a plan for ruling Yemen. In areas under their control, rubbish is piling up, cash is hard to get hold of and the lights have gone out. “My sense of it is that they never really had a clear political agenda, both during the wars with Saleh and after,” says April Longley Alley of the International Crisis Group, a think-tank.

The incompetence of the Houthis has been compounded by the involvement of Saudi Arabia. Saudi meddling in Yemen is nothing new. In 1934 Saudi soldiers retook towns seized by the Zaydis. Prince Saud, their leader, would later become king. Today Prince Muhammad bin Salman is first in line to the throne. But his adventure in Yemen, which seemed designed to build him a reputation as a strong leader, has led Saudi Arabia into a quagmire.

Responding to Mr Hadi’s call for help, Prince Muhammad organised a coalition that included Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain. They began striking Yemen from the air and the sea in March 2015. A month later the Saudis declared the air campaign over. It had “achieved its military goals”, officials said. A new operation would supposedly focus on finding a political solution in Yemen.

In reality, the war was just beginning. Over the next months, local forces backed by coalition air strikes (and later soldiers) pushed the Houthis back. However, they have not been able to drive them out of territory seized in the north, including Sana’a. So instead the coalition seems intent on starving the north.

The Saudis have created much of the misery that blights Yemen, but blame falls on others, too. The Houthis and Mr Saleh’s forces have also carried out indiscriminate attacks in cities such as Taiz and Aden. They have held up aid and are accused of war profiteering. Mr Hadi says the Houthis looted around $4bn from the central bank to pay for the war (the Houthis say the money was used for food and medicine). So he moved the bank from Sana’a to Aden in 2016 and stopped paying the salaries of public servants in the north. Schools and hospitals have closed and many northerners face destitution.

For Saudi Arabia, the region’s Sunni champion, the failure of its campaign in Yemen is twofold. Not only was it designed to reinstate Mr Hadi’s government—it was also supposed to send a signal to Iran’s Shia regime. The two powers are locked in a struggle for regional dominance that has spilled over into Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. The Saudis fear that, in the Houthis, Iran is nurturing a Shia proxy, akin to Hizbullah, the Lebanese militia that it backs. Yet again Yemen is the playground of bigger powers.

America has concluded that Iran does not exert “command and control” over the Houthis. But there is little doubt that it is arming the group. It appears to have supplied missiles the Houthis have fired. America’s most senior admiral in the region told the New York Times in September that Iran is providing anti-ship and ballistic missiles, mines and exploding boats that the rebels have used to attack coalition ships in the Red Sea. When the Saudis shot down a missile fired from Yemen on its way to Riyadh on November 4th, they called it an “act of war” by Iran.

The possibility that the war might end soon is slender. The Saudis have powerful backing to continue their fight. President Donald Trump has nothing but praise for them. When he visited Riyadh in May he applauded their “strong action” against the Houthis and agreed to sell them $110bn worth of “beautiful” arms. The war has also been a blessing for Britain’s defence industry, which has hugely increased sales of missiles and bombs to Saudi Arabia since the start of the war. As the European Parliament approved a non-binding arms embargo against the Saudis in 2016, David Cameron, then the prime minister, sounded almost Trumpian, praising the “brilliant” weapons that Britain was selling to the kingdom. His successor, Theresa May, at least expressed her concerns over the war.

America and Britain not only support Saudi Arabia but have blocked other countries from putting pressure on it. Along with France, which also sells weapons to the Saudis, they undercut a UN resolution in 2015 that would have set up a panel to examine abuses in the war. When urging the creation of a new panel earlier this year, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, condemned “the reticence of the international community in demanding justice for the victims of the conflict”. The panel was approved—but only after America, Britain and France had watered it down.

The UN has organised three rounds of peace talks. But Mr Hadi’s government insists that the Houthis lay down their arms and withdraw from the areas they have seized. The Houthis complain that they are the only group that UN resolutions ask to give ground. In May a convoy led by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the UN envoy to Yemen, was attacked by demonstrators in Sana’a. “There will be no more contact with [him] and he is not welcome here,” said Saleh al-Samad, a Houthi leader, a month later.

As the war drags on, both sides appear unsteady. In the south the Saudis along with the Emiratis, who are the largest foreign force on the ground, have built an unwieldy alliance of Salafists, southern secessionists and other militias. “Whatever Gulf money can buy,” says an observer. Some of these groups are accused of working with jihadists, such as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, though the Emiratis have pushed back al-Qaeda. No one thinks Mr Hadi has a long-term future.

North-south divides

In the north the Houthis accuse Mr Saleh of negotiating secretly with the coalition (though they have done the same). Mr Saleh, who is the weaker partner, fears being left out of any settlement. Things came to a head in August, when clashes between Houthis and supporters of Mr Saleh led to deaths on both sides. They have since made up but tension remains high. And there is a split within the Houthis, between hardliners and moderates. The group’s leader, Abdel-Malik al-Houthi, is seen as willing to negotiate. However, analysts say that, the longer the war goes on, the stronger the hardliners become.

Some spy an opening. Ms Alley reckons that the divisions, as long as they do not develop into open conflict, are an opportunity for some kind of deal. “Carrots have to be offered to those willing to compromise—right now it is all sticks,” she says. Yet the Saudis, under little pressure from abroad, do not look like backing down and seem to hope that the population in the north will rise up against the Houthis. Frustration with Houthi rule is growing, something Mr Saleh seems keen to exploit, but so far the streets are mostly quiet.

Others may not want peace. Warlords profit from extortion or by selling looted aid on the black market. Mr Hadi’s government and other combatants are accused of creating shortages so that they can sell items, such as fuel, at a big mark-up. Even if the Saudis were to withdraw, many analysts think that the fighting within Yemen would continue—between northerners and southerners, the Houthis and Mr Saleh or Islah and any number of parties.

Ordinary Yemenis are less interested in such divisions. A crowd gathers around Ali Marhad’s tent as he dispassionately recounts his hardship. They come from Houthi territory, but they say they have no tribe, no money, no home, “just Allah”. Do they care who wins the war? “No!” they cry. They just want it to end.

This article appeared in the Briefing section of the print edition under the headline "From bad to worse"

The Economist: The war the world ignores How—and why—to end the war in Yemen

A pointless conflict has caused the worst humanitarian crisis in the world

Print edition | Leaders

Nov 30th 2017

YEMEN lost the title of Arabia Felix, or “Fortunate Arabia”, long ago. It has suffered civil wars, tribalism, jihadist violence and appalling poverty. But none of this compares with the misery being inflicted on the country today by the war between a Saudi-led coalition and the Houthis, a Shia militia backed by Iran.

The UN reckons three-quarters of Yemen’s 28m people need some kind of humanitarian aid. Mounting rubbish, failing sewerage and wrecked water supplies have led to the worst cholera outbreak in recent history. The country is on the brink of famine. The economy has crumbled, leaving people with impossible choices. Each day the al-Thawra hospital in Hodeida must decide which of the life-saving equipment to run with what little fuel it has.

Perhaps the worst of it is that much of the world seems unperturbed (see Briefing), calloused by the years of bloodshed in Syria and other parts of the Middle East, and despairing of its ability to effect change. To be cynical, Yemen is farther away from Europe than Syria is; its wretched people do not, on the whole, wash up in the West seeking asylum.

Yet the world ignores Yemen at its peril. Set aside for a moment the obligation to relieve suffering and protect civilians. Hard security interests are also at stake. The world can ill afford another failed state—a new Afghanistan or Somalia—that becomes a breeding-ground for global terrorism. Yemen, moreover, dominates the Bab al-Mandab strait, a choke-point for ships using the Suez canal. Like it or not, the West is involved. The Saudi-led coalition is fighting with Western warplanes and munitions. Western satellites guide its bombs.

Slippery Saleh

Like so much else in the Arab world, Yemen’s agony can be traced to the Arab-spring uprisings of 2011. Mass protests, a near-assassination of the then president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and a shove from neighbouring petro-states forced him to step down in 2012 in favour of his vice-president, Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi. A draft constitution in 2015 proposed a federal system and a parliament split between northerners and southerners. But the Houthi rebels, who had fought Mr Saleh, rejected it. The Houthis, who follow the Zaydi branch of Shiism (as do perhaps 40% of Yemenis), complained that, among other things, the constitution stuck them in a region with few resources and without access to the sea.

Now allied with Mr Saleh, who spotted an opportunity for a comeback, the Houthis ousted Mr Hadi from Sana’a, the capital, and chased him all the way to Aden. Saudi Arabia gathered a coalition of Arab states and local militias—among them Islamists, Salafists and southern separatists—and forced the Houthis to retreat partway. For the past year, the battle-lines have barely moved. The Houthis are too weak to rule over Yemen but too powerful for Saudi Arabia to defeat.

As a result, Yemenis have become the pawns in the regional power-struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Alarmed by Iran’s spreading influence, the Saudis have begun to speak of the Houthis rather as Israelis refer to the Lebanese militia, Hizbullah: a dangerous Iranian proxy army on their border. Indeed, the Saudis have much to learn from Israel’s experience. Even with the most sophisticated weapons, it is all but impossible to defeat a militia that is well entrenched in a civilian population. The stronger side is blamed for the pain of those civilians. For the weaker lot, survival is victory.

So, even though the Houthis are primarily responsible for starting the war and capable of great cruelty, it is the Saudis who are accused of war crimes. Often the accusation is justified. In their air campaign, they have been careless and incompetent at best, and probably cynical. Human-rights groups say bombs have been aimed at schools, markets, mosques and hospitals. And the blockade raises suspicion that the Saudis are using food as a tool of war.

The longer the war goes on, the more Saudi Arabia’s Western allies are complicit in its actions. President Donald Trump has given Saudi Arabia carte blanche to act recklessly (see article). He may think it is all part of confronting Iran; or he may want to support the liberalising reforms of the Saudi crown prince, Muhammad bin Salman; or he may hope to profit by selling the Saudis “lots of beautiful military equipment”. Whatever the case, he is damaging America’s interests. Precisely because of the importance of Saudi Arabia—the world’s biggest oil exporter and home to Islam’s two holiest places—the West should urge restraint on the impetuous prince and help disentangle him from an unwinnable war.

How? Peace talks led by the UN have begun with the demand that the Houthis surrender. That is unrealistic. Better to freeze the conflict and find another mediator, such as Oman or Kuwait. A deal should involve a phased withdrawal of Houthi fighters from Sana’a and the Saudi border, and the end of the Saudi blockade. Yemen needs an inclusive government, elections and a new structure for the state. Saudi Arabia will need guarantees that Iranian arms are not flowing into Yemen. Then it will have to cough up the cash to rebuild the country.

None of this will be easy. But a reasonable peace offer is more likely to crack the Houthis than more bombing. Without the cover of fighting Saudi aggression, the Houthis will have to answer for their failures. The public is increasingly turning against them, the alliance with Mr Saleh is fraying and the Houthis themselves are divided.

Stop the war

Right now, far from halting the spread of Iran’s influence, the war has deepened the Houthis’ reliance on Iran, which has an easy and cheap means of tormenting the Saudis. And because Saudi Arabia is bogged down in Yemen, Iran has a freer hand to set the terms of a settlement in Syria. The war is a drain on the Saudis at a time of austerity and wrenching economic reforms at home. They should therefore learn another lesson from Israel’s experience of fighting Hizbullah. If wars are to be fought at all, they should be short, and have limited aims. Deterrence is better than debilitating entanglement.

This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "The war the world ignores"

The Economist: Donald Trump’s Muddled East

America’s neglect and confusion aggravate problems in the Arab world

Giving free rein to Saudi Arabia is destabilising the region

Print edition | Middle East and Africa

Dec 2nd 2017| CAIRO

WHEN it is finished, America’s imposing new embassy in Lebanon will be its second-biggest in the world. Yet it was France, not America, that stepped in to resolve Lebanon’s latest political crisis. Speaking from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, on November 4th, Saad Hariri, the Lebanese prime minister, abruptly announced his resignation. What followed was a bizarre two-week saga in which he seemed to be under house arrest in the kingdom. Though America’s State Department criticised the move, it fell to France to negotiate Mr Hariri’s return to Beirut. He has since suspended his resignation.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Donald Trump’s Middle East policy could best be characterised as one of neglect and confusion. His term coincides with a period of radical change in Saudi Arabia. King Salman and his son, Muhammad, the all-powerful crown prince, have abandoned the Al Sauds’ plodding caution in favour of a more aggressive foreign policy. Their actions have unsettled friends and neighbours. Even Israeli diplomats, no fans of Mr Hariri, use words like “reckless” to describe the Saudis’ pressure tactics in Lebanon, which risked upsetting its delicate sectarian balance.

Yet the Saudis have found a receptive audience in the White House, particularly in Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. Team Trump thinks that it has helped to kindle the liberalising economic, social and religious reforms of Prince Muhammad. Mr Trump has not evinced any concern about the Saudi-led war in Yemen that has, with American support, laid waste to the region’s poorest country (see Briefing). He has enthusiastically praised a Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, and a recent wave of anti-corruption arrests in the kingdom, even though American diplomats have deep doubts about both policies.

Many Syrians cheered in April when America bombed a Syrian air base in response to a chemical attack in Idlib province. Since then Mr Trump seems to have lost interest. Russia and Iran have filled the vacuum, helping Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, to reconquer lost territories. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, gave Mr Assad a warm welcome in Sochi last month, and then hosted the presidents of Iran and Turkey, both of whom support Mr Assad’s continued rule.

As The Economist went to press, Syrians were gathered in Geneva for another round of UN-backed peace talks. The opposition delegation is now stacked with figures willing to leave Mr Assad in power, a shift engineered by the Saudis. Under Saudi pressure Riyad Hijab, a former Syrian prime minister and a resolute critic of the regime, has resigned as head of an opposition umbrella group. The Saudis may be hoping, implausibly, to split Russia from Iran. America, which has long demanded Mr Assad’s departure, said nothing.

Other allies feel similarly confused. Mr Trump is cutting military aid to the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that paid a heavy price fighting the jihadists of Islamic State. Asked whether America would name a special envoy to mediate a dispute between Iraq’s Kurds and the central government in Baghdad, the State Department demurred. “They can probably work it out on their own,” a spokeswoman said. Even Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has been disappointed. He is unhappy with the latest “de-escalation” agreement in southern Syria, negotiated by America and Russia, which allows Iranian-backed militias within 5km of his northern border. Despite warm contacts with the Trump administration, Jordan, too, feels left in the lurch by American plans to halt financial aid to Arab rebels in southern Syria next month.

Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian president, met Mr Trump during the campaign, and was the first foreign leader to congratulate him on his victory. But he was stunned in August when America slashed $100m in aid to Egypt, and withheld another $195m until it saw “progress on democracy”. The move also astonished American diplomats in Cairo. “I had to explain this to my Egyptian counterparts the next morning, and I had no guidance from Washington on why we did it,” says one.

Spread the blame around

Mr Trump does not deserve all the blame for meek and muddled American policy. Barack Obama, though he called for Mr Assad’s removal, did little to support the Syrian opposition. The war in Yemen started on his watch, too. And, to be fair, Mr Trump is engaged in one area: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After much shuttle diplomacy by Jason Greenblatt, his special envoy, the president is preparing to unveil a peace plan in early 2018.

This is a rite of passage for American presidents. The last three tried, and failed. There is no reason to think Mr Trump will succeed, either. Israel is still led by a far-right coalition loth to make concessions, and the divided Palestinians by a government that lost its legitimacy years ago. But the Saudis have egged him on, knowing that the president is eager to strike what he calls “the ultimate deal”. By supporting Mr Trump’s efforts in Jerusalem, they hope to win a free hand in Yemen and elsewhere.

Mr Trump never misses a chance to criticise his predecessor. Yet he is repeating some of his mistakes. Mr Obama was accused of pursuing a nuclear agreement with Iran at all costs, and ignoring Iran’s meddling in Syria and Iraq. Now Mr Trump seems obsessed with reneging on the deal, which would weaken the curbs on Iran’s ability to make a nuclear bomb, and is doing little (apart from a few more sanctions) to contain Iranian influence.

He is enabling autocrats in Egypt, and losing the confidence of close allies, such as Israel and Jordan. Meanwhile the Saudis are free to pursue destabilising policies, and the future of Syria is largely in Russian and Iranian hands. “This is not a time for the US to be absent,” says another Western diplomat. “We need some supervision.”

This article appeared in the Middle East and Africa section of the print edition under the headline"Donald Trump’s Muddled East"

Conflict in Yemen: From Ethnic Fighting to Food Riots

Gros A., Gard-Murray A.S., Bar-Yam Y. (2015) Conflict in Yemen: From Ethnic Fighting to Food Riots. In: Fellman P., Bar-Yam Y., Minai A. (eds) Conflict and Complexity. Understanding Complex Systems. Springer, New York, NY, pp 269-280. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-1705-1_15

Yemen is considered a global terrorist base for Al-Qaeda and in recent years rampant violence is threatening social order. Here we show that the socio-economic origins of violence recently changed. Prior to 2008, violence can be attributed to inter-group conflict between ethnically and religiously distinct groups. Starting in 2008, increasing global food prices triggered a new wave of violence that spread to the endemically poor southern region with demands for government change and economic concessions. This violence shares its origins with many other food riots and the more recent Arab Spring. The loss of social order and the opportunities for terror organizations can be best addressed by directly eliminating the causes of violence. Inter-group violence can be addressed by delineating within-country provinces for local autonomy of ethnic and religious groups. The impact of food prices can be alleviated by direct food price interventions, or by addressing the root causes of global food price increases in US policies that have promoted conversion of corn to ethanol and commodity speculation. Addressing the food prices is the most urgent concern as a new bubble in food prices has been projected to begin before the end of 2012.

Conflict in Yemen: From Ethnic Fighting to Food Riots

Andreas Gros, Alexander Gard-Murray and Yaneer Bar-Yam

New England Complex Systems Institute

238 Main St. Suite 319 Cambridge MA 02142, USA

(Dated: July 24, 2012)

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Violence has been common in Yemen since the founding of a modern state in the southern Arabian peninsula nearly 100 years ago [1, 2], but recent attacks and social disruption are particularly severe [3–5]. Yemen is one of the global bases of Al-Qaeda [6–10], with the attacks on the USS Cole in 2000 and American Embassy in 2008 as the most well known local incidents. Yemeni Al-Qaeda has also been involved in global terror activities including an alleged attempt to bomb a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day of 2009. At the beginning of that year, Yemeni Al-Queda joined with the smaller Saudi Al-Queda to form Al Queda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The current social disruption increases concerns that Yemen may become an even stronger terrorist base, threatening security worldwide.

Here we show that the nature of violence in Yemen has changed between 2005 and 2011 from being ethnically and religiously based to being dominated by the effects of increases in food prices on an impoverished population. During the period of ethnic and religious inter-group violence, geographical locations of incidents are consistent with a theory that predicts areas of violence based upon the geographical composition of the population [11, 12], building on a tradition of geographic analysis in social science [13–15]. In contrast, the later period of violence begins at the time of globally increasing food prices in 2007, and spread from areas of ethnic conflict in the north to the endemically poor southern part of Yemen.

Our results have immediate implications for strategies to reduce violence and limit the growth of terrorist influence. Rather than direct military and security operations, effective interventions may require eliminating the primary economic and social drivers of violence. First, the immediate economic drivers can be relieved by addressing the problems of the global food market, which has been implicated more broadly in the revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East [16–18]. Second, by providing partial internal autonomy to ethnic and religious groups, the origins of the longer term inter-group violence can also be alleviated [12].

The interventions we identify would not only address the growing security risks, but also improve the living conditions of millions of people, reducing severe poverty, social disruption and endemic violence. Indeed, these two goals are directly linked as the social and economic conditions are the origins of social disorder, in whose shadow terrorist activities can grow.

Our analysis of violence in Yemen begins from an understanding of the role of geography in conflict between distinct self-identifying groups defined by properties like ancestry, culture, language, and religion [11, 12]. In this paper we use the term ethnic violence to describe this

kind of inter-group conflict. Such violence is typically though not exclusively directed against or by civilians. When self-identifying groups are either sufficiently separated or sufficiently well-mixed, violence is unlikely. Separation limits inter-group friction, while integration inhibits inter-group alienation. Ethnic violence occurs most frequently in areas that have a certain intermediate degree of population separation, but in which control of the area is not separated accordingly, i.e. neither political nor physical boundaries exist to allow for local autonomy. In places where self-identifying groups separate into geographical patches of a critical size, in the range of 20-60 km, a group is able to impose its cultural norms, religious values, language differences and in-group social signaling within public spaces. These spaces may include public squares, markets, restaurants, places of worship and schools. However, when social expectations are violated because of the proximity of other ethnic domains, the resulting friction is likely to cause radicalization of some members of the population. Even a small radicalized minority is enough to lead to endemic conflict, and the propensity for violence becomes high. The violence may engage political and military components. Still, the origin of the conflict in the self-identity of the groups is likely to be manifest in violence directed against those who are not politically or militarily powerful. For patches larger than the critical geographical size individuals remain largely within their own domains and de facto local sovereignty exists. If patches are smaller than the critical size, ethnic groups cannot impose their own norms and expectations about behavior in public spaces, allowing for the peaceful coexistence of the multiple ethnic groups that are present. Natural and political boundaries can increase autonomy to allow for separation that can prevent violence in areas where it would otherwise occur. Tests of ethnic violence in various parts of the world have indeed shown that ethnic violence occurs in the vicinity of patches of a critical size without well-defined boundaries [11, 12].

In contrast to ethnic violence, social unrest reflecting socio-economic despair is often directed against authorities that fail to satisfy the most basic needs of the population, especially available or affordable food. Indeed, the relationship between food prices and social unrest has been demonstrated [16, 19–22]. Food riots around the world in 2007-8 and 2010-11 were triggered by steep increases in food prices. Since Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the Arab World [23], increases in food prices severely impact a large portion of the population [24]. According to the World Bank’s 2007 Poverty Assessment Report, 35% of the country’s population is classified as poor [25].

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In order to perform a more detailed and quantitative analysis we start by considering the ethnic geography of Yemen. There are four commonly described self-identifying ethnic and religious groups in Yemen: Zaydi Shiites, Ismaili Shiites, mainstream (Shafi’i) Sunnis and Salafi (Wahhabi) Sunnis. Together these groups are estimated to represent 99% of the population (55% Sunni and about 44% Shiite) [26]. Yemen’s societal structure has a strong tribal aspect, especially in rural areas [1, 27]. While neither tribal allegiances nor political attitudes necessarily align with their members’ religious denomination [6], it is nevertheless reasonable to assume as a first approximation that conflict arises between self-identified ethnic and religious groups. Obtaining data about the geographical distribution of these groups is difficult as there is no direct census and the distribution has changed in recent times, especially due to the spread of Salafism [28]. Moreover, since political and religious affiliations may be linked, various movements including the Moslem Brotherhood may have both political and religious connotations. For our analysis of ethnicity and violence we use spatial demographic data from 2004 [29] to identify the populated areas and an approximate map of the spatial distribution of the four major groups in 2000 obtained from a compilation of sources [30] to identify ethnic compositions, as shown in Figure 1. The approximate nature of the available data limits the precision of the calculations we perform. Demographic dynamics, specifically the spread of Salafism in recent years changed the sectarian associations across Yemen. Our conclusions only depend on very general features of spatial geography, specifically the presence of groups of a given geographic size in a region of the country. The conclusions are therefore robust to all but very specific localized changes relative to surrounding areas. This is a strength of our method, especially in application to areas where data is poor and changes are ongoing. Data on violent incidents was obtained from the Worldwide Incident Tracking System (WITS) [31] from which we selected the incidents that involved civilian casualties.

We calculated the propensity for violence in any given populated area by identifying patches of ethnic groups of a critical size of 56 km. This size is consistent with the value that provides predictive success in other countries [11, 12]. Mathematically we use a wavelet filter [11] that weighs the presence of ethnic types in a circular area around a focal point against the presence of ethnic types in the surrounding area. If ethnic types are well mixed or the whole area is populated uniformly by only one type, the output of the filter is small. However, if the inner area is populated by a different type than the surrounding area, forming

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Figure 1: Estimated spatial distribution of major self-identifying groups in Yemen in 2000 [30];

Zaydi Shiite: magenta, mainstream Sunni: yellow, Ismaili: cyan, Salafi: black an ethnic island or peninsula, the output will be high. We perform this analysis for focal points on a fine regular mesh throughout Yemen with results shown in Figure 2. Actual incidents of violence involving civilians are indicated for each year from 2005 through 2011.

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Figure 2: Propensity for violence (color bar) and incidents of violence (black dots) in populated areas of Yemen. Dashed vertical line delineates the western part of Yemen that we consider in the correlation analysis (Figure 3). Much of the area to the east has a population density of less than 1 person per square km.

[GRAPH] 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011


Figure 3: Correlations between shortest distances to locations of predicted and actual violence; the confidence values for the years 2005, 2006, and 2007 are 98.00%, 96.58%, and 99.23%, respectively.

We quantify the level of agreement between our prediction and the data on violent inci-dents by correlating maps of shortest distances to locations of violent incidents and locations of predicted violence. We calculate the distance to the closest violent incident and the clos-est location of predicted violence at every point on the spatial mesh for a given year. We consider a location of predicted violence to be any point where the violence potential is above a threshold of 0.48 (the average propensity to violence plus two standard deviations).

We performed the analysis for the western part of Yemen, in which most of Yemen’s population resides (see vertical dashed line in Figure 2). Figure 3 shows the correlations between shortest distances to actual and predicted locations of ethnic violence in the west

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over time. The correlation values are approximately 0.70 for 2005, 2006, and 2007, and drop to between -0.2 and 0.20 for 2008 through 2011, showing a distinct shift away from ethnically-motivated conflict. The confidence values for the correlations in years 2005, 2006, and 2007 are 98%, 97%, and 99%, respectively. We calculate confidence intervals using 100,000 trials with random placement of the same number of predicted locations of violence within the western part of Yemen and compare the correlations between the corresponding maps of shortest distances. The correlation values for the years 2005, 2006, and 2007 are lower than reported in previous studies [11, 12], perhaps due to the limitations of the geographic ethnic data and reporting of incidents in the Worldwide Incident Tracking System for these years. However, the confidence values for 2005, 2006, and 2007 are still well above 95%. Our results are consistent with reports that ethnic violence plays a significant role in Yemen resulting in the deaths of more than 2,000 people annually [32]. Some violence is politicized in the form of the Houthi rebellion, but it also has sectarian roots and manifests in violence against civilians in a manner characteristic of ethnic conflict [33–35].

The marked drop in correlations after 2007 indicates that the nature of the conflict changed and was no longer solely ethnically motivated. In order to identify the origins of violence after 2007 we turn to an understanding of social unrest in which food prices are a key component [16]. Figure 4 shows the global Food Price Index over time and the occurrence of food riots and revolutions associated with the Arab Spring [16]. The dates of the food riots in Yemen in early 2008 and 2011 are marked in red and coincide with similar events in many other countries. The co-occurrence of global food riots with large spikes in food prices is consistent with a causal role of food prices in social unrest. (An alternative hypothesis positing that the spread of Salafism caused the violence in the south is not supported by direct analysis, indicating they were not particularly involved [28].) Figure 4 shows that food riots in 2007-08 and 2010-11 were not a local phenomenon, but affected a broad spectrum of regions in Africa and the Middle East as well as Haiti and India. We can therefore understand the appearance of social unrest at these times based upon a hypothesis that widespread unrest is not necessarily related to governmental activities, or, in the case of Yemen, to terrorist actions. Instead, social unrest is induced by the government’s perceived failure to provide food security to the population [16]. The poverty prevalent in Yemen [3], and southern Yemen’s dependency on imported wheat [6, 24, 36], similar to Egypt and Tunisia [37], in combination with rising food prices, are very likely to have been

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[GRAPH] 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012

Figure 4: Global food price index and the occurrence of food riots (number of casualties in brackets); food riots in Yemen are marked red; reproduced with permission from [16] the underlying trigger for violent incidents in 2008 and later.

Geographically, the violence in 2008 expanded from the north to the south. The southern violence can be understood from the recent political and economic history of Yemen. From 1967 through 1990 South Yemen existed as an independent state. The separation between North and South Yemen is partially, but not completely, according to ethnic regions. After unification in 1990, the north dominated and the south was economically marginalized. Ownership of resources was transferred to northern individuals and organizations [38–40]. The corresponding political disaffection manifested in a brief civil war in 1994. In 2007, during the first food price peak, political discontent coalesced into the Southern Movement, which was reenergized by food riots in 2010 to demand a wide range of economic and social concessions [41, 42]. While the expansion of violence to the south is a key change, poverty

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is also widespread in the north. An increase in violent activity in 2008 and 2010 in the north can be attributed to food based riots overlaid upon the preexisting ethnic conflict. Similar to other countries associated with recent revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, the unrest based on food riots developed into a broader revolutionary process based upon persistent economic and social conditions, with implications for both local political instability and global terror.

Our work has identified two major sources of violence in Yemen: partial ethnic separation with poorly defined boundaries and unreliable food security for a vulnerable population. These conclusions have direct implications for policy.

The most urgent socioeconomic problem driving violence is high food prices. Recent work has shown that there is likely to be another food price bubble by the end of 2012 [43]. Based on this prediction conditions in Yemen will deteriorate if no mediating policy changes take effect to lower food prices. Current political efforts to broaden the governmental basis through assembling a National Dialogue Conference aim to tackle political grievances but do not address the problems of food prices. The most direct method to achieve food price stability is to provide subsidies as have been implemented in many countries in the face of the inability of the population to afford available food. Such subsidies are, however, difficult to afford for impoverished countries and would require external financing. More fundamentally, while many different factors have been considered for causing the rise of global food prices, a quantitative analysis has shown that the drivers of food price increases originate in US agricultural policies that are affecting food prices globally. These include two distinct domains of domestic policy. The first is subsidies for corn-to-ethanol conversion, which resulted in growth over less than a decade from negligible rates to 40% of the US corn crop being converted to ethanol [44]. More recently, concerns about their impact has led to the elimination of these subsidies as of December, 2011 [45]. However, regulations that specify the amount of ethanol to be produced continue [46] The second is the elimination of constraints on commodity speculation in 2000 [47], which led to rapid growth of speculative activity through commodity index funds that do not follow supply and demand, and result in speculative bubbles [48, 49]. The Commodity Future Trading Commission is in the process of reimposing constraints on commodity trading to avoid speculative bubbles [50, 51]. However, the market participants are seeking to dilute the impact of these new regulations [52–56] These examples show that increased attention to the impact of food prices and their role

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in global social unrest necessarily links global security planning and domestic agricultural policy.

The violence that is ethnic in nature could be dramatically reduced by increasing political independence by establishing internal country boundaries between ethnic groups [12]. The paradigmatic example of the use of internal political boundaries to successfully promote peace is that of the Cantons in Switzerland which were established to separate Catholic and Protestant populations at a time when conflict was prevalent. The success of this approach of internal autonomous regions can be considered a model for other areas of the world. The value of a federal system of governance to reduce the propensity for violence in Yemen has been recently suggested [57]. More political self-determination has been demanded by the Southern Movement [42] and would most likely be easier to implement than separate nations. One form of potential boundary is the implementation of road blocks, which are currently used by the government as well as by tribes [58], Al-Qaeda, and Ansar al-Sharia [59]. However, access control is met with hostility where the authority over group territories is not legitimized or established historically. Legitimizing partial autonomy in a context of central government power, in regions determined by the geographical distribution of the main ethnic groups, would be effective according to our analysis.

We have shown that science can directly analyze social disruption and violence and iden-tify their causes, as well as provide recommendations about policy changes to mitigate them. Our framework enables us to consider violence within its socioeconomic context. Terrorist organizations proliferate in the power vacuum in countries in which the government is in-herently unable to provide order. For the specific case of Yemen, insurgents benefit from and amplify existing social disruption as the government and military are caught up in con-flicts stemming from food insecurity and ethnic differences. Food prices and ethnic conflict can be seen to play a direct role [60]. We recommend the implementation of jointly de-fined internal political boundaries, within which the different groups can enjoy a degree of self-determination, in addition to lowering food prices through within-country subsidies and global food policy actions, as these measures have the greatest chance of stabilizing Yemen.

We thank Jeb Boone and Charles Schmitz for helpful comments on the manuscript. This work was supported in part by AFOSR under grant FA9550-09-1-0324.

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Wikipedia: Famine in Yemen


Sources for first paragraph, full article found here.

May 1787 (Archive) • Peace

Peace:Psychological Research Explains Why People Protest * Peace:Russian Peace * Peace:Russian Peace
Regions of the World with American Wars

"The loud little handful will shout for war. The pulpit will warily and cautiously protest at first…The great mass of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes, and will try to make out why there should be a war, and they will say earnestly and indignantly: ‘It is unjust and dishonorable and there is no need for war.' Then the few will shout even louder…Before long you will see a curious thing: anti-war speakers will be stoned from the platform, and free speech will be strangled by hordes of furious men who still agree with the speakers but dare not admit it...Next, statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."

--Mark Twain