Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hodeidah, Mosul & the "Generosity" of the U.S. Military

Yemen is almost never covered by The New York Times anymore. But recently posted on LobeLog is a dynamite assessment by James Spencer of current Saudi plans for the country. Every paragraph in "What Does Victory in Yemen Look Like?" is rock solid, but try this one out. It pertains to the often spoken of Hodeidah offensive, the one Deputy Crown Prince Salman wants direct U.S. (Special Forces) help with.
The first, and most pressing, problem with this operation is that even if everything goes as hoped, it is likely to have a very severe impact on the flow of food to the majority of Yemen’s population. Putting Hodeidah—through which nearly 90% of Yemen’s food imports pass—out of action even for the minimum four weeks would be catastrophic, let alone if the plan is at all disrupted. Further, even after displacing the Houthi-Salehis from the ports of Aden and Mokha, it has taken a long time for the coalition to provide or enable food supply: those areas held by the coalition are now the worst affected by famine. Given the slow going to capture Aden, Mokha, and Ta’iz, even six weeks is probably not accurate. Mosul, a town of similar population, has taken the Iraqis six months so far, required the active involvement of UK and US Special Forces, and is still far from secure.
Speaking of Mosul, there is a terrific piece called "The Baghdad Road" by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, published in the last issue of London Review of Books, about the Iraqi Special Operations Forces fight to take the western part of the city from the Islamic State. It's gritty war reporting that readers of the prestige press almost never get nowadays since all U.S. wars are being fought under a cloak of secrecy with the support of the mainstream media monopoly. Abdul-Ahad provides an interesting abbreviated history of Daesh's control of Mosul. Once again, indicators point to a foreign intelligence service at the core of the Caliphate:
‘I have to be honest,’ he added. ‘When the Islamic State first entered Mosul everyone was happy. People started clapping for them. They allowed us to remove the concrete blocks the army had installed to close the neighbourhoods. Before, it would take an hour to go from one area to the other, afterwards the roads were open and we felt free. They let the people alone and didn’t mind if people smoked, if people prayed or not. You could go anywhere, do anything you wanted, as long as it didn’t hurt them. I would go to the woods with a friend, sit in a cafĂ©, smoke a nargileh, and they would turn up. Tall, muscled and mostly foreigners, they wouldn’t dare say a word to you. In the early days we said this was the life.’
Not to leave legacy media completely out of the picture, there was this obligatory reference to the beneficence of G.I. Joe from an account by Choe Sang-hun of South Korea's newly elected president, Moon Jae-in:
Mr. Moon’s parents fled Communist rule during the Korean War and were among tens of thousands evacuated from the North Korean port of Hungnam by retreating American Navy vessels in the winter of 1950. They often told him about the Christmas sweets that American troops handed out to those packed into the ships during the journey.
For an excellent primer on the bestial savagery of the U.S. military during the Korean War see Moon of Alabama's "How Bio-Weapons Led To Torture ... And North Korean Nukes."

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