What is going on here?

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Yemen

Saudi Arabia's disastrous ground war in Yemen grinds on to some obscure end.  The news is filled with catastrophe for Saudis+allies+mercenaries.  At the same time the Saudi air force continues to delight in killing civilians in the towns in a sort of knee-jerk spasm of traditional Saudi hatred and fear of the Yemenis.

I find this picture featured on the South Front site to be intriguing.  Where is this place?  It is undoubtedly northern Yemen.  The fat slob in a  futa (sarong), the dazed young'un with a cheek full of qat, the general scruffiness of the scene all point to that.  But there are interesting features to the photo.  That tan colored vehicle seems to me to be an armored G model Mercedes SUV with a factory built mount for a .50 cal. or 20mm. gun.  The character on top has stuffed the bore with something to keep dust out.  I would like to see what happens if he fires the piece without removing the obstruction.  This is yet another nice north Yemeni touch.  The vehicle looks fairly new.  Are these Yemenis allied to Saudi Arabia?  If not, then how would the Houthis get this automotive beast and who would be paying for it and other s like it?  Mercedes is now manufacturing factory built "technicals?"

The same sort of question applies to the SRBM ground to ground missile systems that the Yemeni Army is using to good effect against the Saudis.  Where do these things come from and who pays for them?  the Yemeni Army had some experience with Soviet systems like the SCUD but these are different. 

And the in the background we have an NGO facility belonging to Mother Teresa's order of nuns.  Say what?  pl

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46 Responses to What is going on here?

  1. Linda Lau says:

    Yemen continues to amaze. It would be comical were it not all so deadly.

  2. turcopolier says:

    Linda Lau
    It was heaven for me, a blend of Kipling and Evelyn Waugh. pat

  3. Jonathan House says:

    Is that a woman with red hair woman standing behind the front of the SUV? If so, is that puzzling/significant in any way?

  4. turcopolier says:

    JH
    IMO that is a Yemeni man with a rag on his head. pl

  5. b says:

    The place is in Aden, South Yemen. Four Mother Teresa nuns were killed there recently.
    http://www.theinsider.ug/16-killed-in-a-retirement-home-in-yemen/
    The armored vehicle is a Al-Shibl-1 or 2 from Saudi Arabia. It is likely operated by some Yemeni mercenaries. Notice that the rear tire replacement does not really fit.

  6. LG says:

    When were you there sir?
    I worked there four years ago. It was as if I had wandered back home. My former boss, a new York Jew (ethnically very different from me) said the exact same thing about the country. Hr had worked there in the seventies.

  7. Nightsticker says:

    Col Lang,
    I first read Kipling’s “Kim” in 1950
    at boarding school in England. It was a prize
    for attention to my studies in reading class. Looking
    back it was an Epiphanic event; I never outgrew wanting
    to be like Kim. Not sure I ever fully achieved it, but
    I like to imagine that Cantonese/PRU/the Bu was pretty
    close to Urdu/hill people/the Department.
    Nightsticker
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  8. Amir says:

    Would the Russians payback the Saudi’s support for radicals, with SRBM for Houtis?

  9. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All:
    From Abdullah al-NafisiKuwaiti Professor of Political Science in Kuwait:
    http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-and-Israel-face-the-same-strategic-dilemma-Kuwaiti-political-analyst-says-449291

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Col. Lang:
    The abject failure of Muslim charity is also on display: The Catholic Christians are there helping Muslim Arabs while the various Islamic Charities are absent.
    Nay, it is Muslim Arabs that are killing and maiming fellow Muslim Arabs; not Hindus, not Jews, and not Shia.

  11. Mark Pyruz says:

    That is a Saudi-assembled Al Shibl 2 (“Cub 2”) armored vehicle. RSLF operates this vehicle type; here is a knocked-out and abandoned example at Jizan region, Saudi Arabia, from 24AUG15:
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-9l1eSngWqz0/VdrPSA5GeAI/AAAAAAAASXw/eDppWazEJ1M/s1600/image69.jpg
    SRBM types include Yemeni Army OTR-21 Tochka (NATO: SS-21 Scarab) mobile missile launch system, and R-17 Elbrus/Hwasŏng-5/6 (Scud-B) using MAZ-543 TEL.

  12. turcopolier says:

    LG
    I was DATT/ARMA in San’a in the early ’80s. pl

  13. bth says:

    According to the article a total of 16 people counting the four nuns and one priest were murdered in the single attack by gunmen pretending to visit their mothers in the retirement home.

  14. turcopolier says:

    Mark Pyruz
    When did the Yemenis acquire the missile systems? Thanks for the clarification. pl

  15. turcopolier says:

    All
    I would be willing to bet some of my own money that the men in the photo are from the former North Yemen. pl

  16. BraveNewWorld says:

    I would add to that the company formerly known as Black Water arranged for a bunch of Columbian mercenaries to be brought over. But it is the Sunni UAE that are footing the bill for that largess.
    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-31/recruiting-mercenaries-for-middle-east-fuels-rancor-in-colombia
    Mean while the former founder of Black Water under investigation for douchebaggery.
    https://theintercept.com/2016/03/24/blackwater-founder-erik-prince-under-federal-investigation/

  17. Outrage Beyond says:

    Around the time the Saudi attack started, when the first Tochka SRBM was launched, I recall seeing an article saying that the Yemeni army had around 19 of them on hand. (Wikipedia says they used them in 1994, so they’ve apparently had them on hand for a while.) There have been ongoing reports of launches every few months, perhaps a half dozen reports or something in that range. (Wikipedia lists 5 launches.) Which would leave around a baker’s dozen left. Of course, some might have been destroyed by the Saudi bombing, but even so, one suspects some remain.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OTR-21_Tochka

  18. turcopolier says:

    Babak
    The Catholic in me says that they have gone to their reward based on their faith and works. The crusader in me hungers for the blood of the killers. pl

  19. The Beaver says:

    Colonel,
    Syria not Yemen: Have you seen this latest one?
    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/obama-nixed-cia-plan-could-have-stopped-isis-officials-n549111
    ” The CIA in 2012 proposed a detailed covert action plan designed to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power, but President Obama declined to approve it, current and former U.S. officials tell NBC News.
    It’s long been known that then-CIA Director David Petraeus recommended a program to secretly arm and train moderate Syrian rebels in 2012 to pressure Assad. But a book to be published Tuesday by a former CIA operative goes further, revealing that senior CIA officials were pushing a multi-tiered plan to engineer the dictator’s ouster. Former American officials involved in the discussions confirmed that to NBC News.”
    I guess they wanted another “vacuum” à la Libya and contrary to what they believed ( or still believe) ISIS would have flourished.
    IIRC : back during Pres Clinton administration circa 1996 , there was a plan like this ( CIA covert op) to take down Saddam Hussein – it was another Silver Bullet Coup (manqué)

  20. Degringolade says:

    Sorry about the off-topic….but when you take a look at this, it isn’t all that off-topic.
    https://www.occrp.org/en/panamapapers/overview/under-scrutiny/

  21. Brunswick says:

    The Popular Commitee ( Ansruallah Movement) has form months made claims that the Yemen Airforce members, lacking aircraft to fly, have converted large numbers of obsolete SAM-3’s into Surface to Surface missiles.
    http://www.janes.com/article/57411/yemeni-s-75-sam-reportedly-back-in-action

  22. Chris Chuba says:

    Here is a link that I found that says that the Yemeni’s were able to convert the Russian SA-2 from a surface to air missile into what they call a Qahir-1, surface to surface missile.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qaher-1
    https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/yemeni-missile-strike-devastates-saudi-army-mareb/
    I first heard about it from http://www.almasdarnews.com, btw thanks for mentioning the website Col, it is now on my regular reading list. On a happy note, I read that the SAA liberated Quraytayn from ISIS, another Sunday liberation. Little or no mention in our MSM of course.
    Getting back to Yemen, I wonder if the Houthi’s have any capability of manufacturing Qahir-1,’s or other missiles? I don’t know the complexity of these things. If they were able to convert and operate the missile then they definitely have some technical capability. I hope so. The Saudi’s claim that they have budgeted $700M per month for this war which is 6 times more expensive per month than the Russian operation in Syria. I guess it’s expensive having to import mercenaries.

  23. Abu Sinan says:

    It gets even more interesting with the news that Bahah has been removed from his post and replaced by Alli Muhsin al Ahmar. This would indicate a growing rift between UAE and the Saudis and leaves al Ahmar in a very strong position because Hadi has very little support and al Ahmar would end up being the prime candidate to replace him. I see this pretty much as a Salafiyah coup instigated and supported by the KSA. It doesn’t bode well for peace as the hate between Saleh and al Ahmar are well known. I also wonder what the many southerners who have been supporting KSA actions in Yemen think about this? As things heat up along the Saudi border again, it looks like the south have been willing tools in a bid to fill the Yemeni government with Salafiyah leaders.

  24. Brunswick says:

    By many accounts, they are modified from obsolete SAM-3’s, by former Yemen Air Forces members,
    In which case, they would have an inventory of several thousand to build from.
    The key thing really is to change and increase the warhead, and the guidance system from radar guided, to possibly gps guided.

  25. turcopolier says:

    Brunswick
    SAMs convert well to surface to surface missiles. The Nike Hercules was, I believe, quite effective if it had ever been used that way. pl

  26. turcopolier says:

    KHarbaugh
    Yes, I can see that ASA would have been interested in judging what the methodology of a WP advance would be. Having the right capability to support 7th Army in the field would have been important. I was always a consumer of SIGINT products and never interested in the work itself. pl

  27. LeaNder says:

    Maybe, considering the larger SST debate, this is not completely off topic.
    “While Israel is occupying Palestine, Iran is occupying the Ahwaz region, which is 16 times bigger than Palestine. 90% of Iran’s natural resources are located in this region,” he added.”
    Interesting, Babak. What is the Ahwaz region allusion about?
    Some type of in-a-nutshell-answer would be appreciated.

  28. LeaNder says:

    “Notice that the rear tire replacement does not really fit”
    it sure does not, on first sight.
    From a rather superficial net-i-zen look quite a few standard brands in the market seem to be involved in matters.
    On the other hand, concerning Mercedes, it doesn’t seem so easy to get visuals of their defense arm. Thus good luck.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Nutshell answer is this: “Gulfies are plain stupid.”
    The Dog barks, the moon shines, and the caravan has moved on…

  30. BraveNewWorld says:

    >”Nafisi stated that the operation is “a turning point in the history of the Arabian Peninsula,” hailing the Saudi kingdom for initiating it.”
    Sounds like a nut job to me.

  31. BraveNewWorld says:

    It certainly doesn’t pass the smell test that with all the people supposedly involved the only person that supposedly did any thing wrong was Putin.

  32. LeaNder says:

    Seriously off topic – but without doubt top news at this point in time.
    Simply one angle among a larger business as usual?
    forbid the mailbox companies off-shore or in Europe for instance and watch the rise of other legal constructs. One possible one that comes to mind–to this economical nitwit–are shell corporations. I am sure there will be other legal tools in a larger rather lucrative servant-market.
    Since Putin’s closer circles are apparently implicated too, I wonder, considering my above statement, to what extend we witness some type of modern pillory via necessarily rather arbitrary leaks that do not really tell us about the larger space of business as usual. Which no doubt must be pretty complex nowadays.

  33. LeaNder says:

    Fully satisfactory. 😉
    Hopefully the caravan has moved on, as some type of afterthought.

  34. Babak Makkinejad says:

    This one is even better:
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/one-year-later-why-we-saudis-went-to-war-in-yemen-1458943065
    “We rape to preserve chastity.”

  35. Medicine Man says:

    It really looks like the CIA have a talent for coming up with terrible ideas.

  36. Valissa says:

    Thanks for the link! I watched the intro video https://panamapapers.icij.org/video/ and was immediately suspicious as the it starts off talking about the Syrian Air Force raining down barrel bombs. This is a key Western propaganda point, and the rest of the 4 min. video was very R2P in nature.
    I agree with BNW that it doesn’t pass the smell test.
    Greenwald claims that the “the U.S. was oddly missing from the initial reporting, though journalists vow that will change shortly” but given the list of funders that Murray indicates I don’t expect much.
    Especially given that Omidyar (founding funder of The Intercept) has donated extensively to NED the National Endowment for Democracy which is a key player in color revolutions. Looking at the major reporters that have bailed from the Intercept I am very skeptical about what games Omidyar is playing.

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    All:
    From Centre for Strategic and International Studies
    “Syria and Iraq: How Should These Wars End?”
    http://csis.org/publication/syria-and-iraq-how-should-these-wars-end
    “War has been given its chance and it is not enough.”

  38. Tigermoth says:

    Some other articles re Panama papers psyops:
    http://www.moonofalabama.org/
    Selective Leaks Of The #PanamaPapers Create Huge Blackmail Potential
    Off Guardian:
    http://off-guardian.org/2016/04/04/panama-papers-revealing-details-live-in-the-gaps-between-the-lines/
    “Certain species of lizard – when threatened, cornered or in danger of being eaten – have the ability to “drop” their tail. This process, “Autotomy” (from the Greek, auto=self, tome=severing), enables the lizard to flee whilst the predator gets a brief distraction and small meal. The lizard survives. Tails grow back.
    A simple, efficient survival method. The body ejects a replaceable part in protection of the vital whole. Easily adapted for the “Grand Chess Board”. Pinochet, the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein. All have played their part, only to be dropped when it became convenient. Despots and puppets grow back, too.”
    http://off-guardian.org/2016/04/03/panama-papers-cause-guardian-to-collapse-into-self-parody/
    In reference to President Putin’s image being used in the Guardian article:
    “The only important, or even true, phrase Harding uses appears at the very top of this article:
    …the president’s name does not appear in any of the records…”

  39. Tigermoth says:

    Regarding the missile conversions from surface to air, to surface to surface; would there be enough explosive charge to do significant damage on a ground target? Isn’t an anti-aircraft missile detonation relatively small in comparison to a surface targeted one? Maybe I’m thinking of air to air.

  40. Brunswick says:

    Acadami pulled out, too many casualties,
    DynaCorp has the UAE Contract for Merc’s now.

  41. Brunswick says:

    Wikileaks apparently has a full copy and will be releasing it in a seachable database soon

  42. Brunswick says:

    SAM’s generally use some kind of proximity fuse, along with rods wrapped around the explosive, ( think shotgun).
    With aircraft, close counts.
    The key issue with large SAM’s are:
    – radar guidance needs to be replaced with some kind of point to point guidance like inertial, GPS, or something like the WWII pathfinder system, or you can just “lob and hope”. The Yemeni strikes on the Saudi bases suggest a guidance system.
    – the next issue is the warhead. You need more explosives, no “shrapnel”, the strike will generate it’s own shrapnel from impact debris. This affects the ballance of the missile, so, it’s “trickey” which the Yemeni’s seem to have mastered,
    – the third thing is range. SAM’s are designed to “chase” aircraft, maneuver and overtake, (speed) so a converted SAM, launched on a “ballistic” trajectory would have much greater range than as a SAM, because from the apex of the flight, it’s just “falling”.

  43. cynic says:

    Here’s an article from Fort Russ suggesting one should look at who compiled that database. An organization with immense IT resources:
    file:///G:/Internet26/Panama%20%20Forget%20the%20reporter%20collective%20–%20Who%20built%20the%20database%20%20-%20Fort%20Russ.htm
    ‘The organization that produced the revelations has the capability to feed a database effectively, that is to say by spying and tapping, classifying billions of real-time data, and has powerful tools for extraction. The contenders at this level of expertise are few, especially if one takes into account that no American – or at least no known American – is cited in the dossier.
    The distribution of this colossal work was done by a group of journalists. Maybe so, but it is still rare to find actual philanthropy in organizations funded by patrons such as USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and Open Society. We all know the disinterestedness of such donors to the journalist collective.’

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