Moon of Alabama — April 29, 2017
Will the U.S. leave Syria if doing so prevents a Russian fleet in Yemen?
The question seems weird but if Russia succeeds with its negotiations in Yemen it will soon have to be asked.
A U.S. neoconservative outlet recently published an interesting but mostly unsourced bit about Yemen:
Russia is mediating negotiations for a political solution to the Yemen conflict outside of UN channels as a means to secure naval bases in Yemen. Russia is pursuing political negotiations with the UAE and former Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh by beginning to discuss the future consensus Yemeni government. Saleh’s support for the Houthis is critical for the al Houthi-Saleh bloc to retain its influence across northern and central Yemen. The UAE may see this settlement as a way to halt the expansion of Iran’s influence in Yemen and to limit bearing further costs associated with the Yemeni war. Saleh previously expressed willingness to grant Russia military basing rights in Yemen. This basing would allow Russia to project power into one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the Bab al Mandab strait, a global maritime chokepoint.
Back in August 2016 the former Yemeni president Saleh had indeed made an offer to Russia:
“In the fight against terrorism we reach out and offer all facilities. Our airports, our ports… We are ready to provide this to the Russian Federation,” Saleh said in an interview in Sanaa.
No one (but Russia?) took Saleh serious at that time. He was not, and is not, in a position to achieve control over Aden in southern Yemen nor any other relevant Yemeni port.
I also doubted the recent report. Yes, until the early 1990s the Soviet Union had bases in southern Yemen and thousands of military advisers and trainers worked in the country. But Russia currently does not have the naval resources, nor the immediate interest, to open a new base in the area. Or so I thought.
The red lights must be flashing at CENTCOM, the Pentagon and the National Security Council. For the last twenty-five years the Arab Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea were largely U.S. controlled waters. That China recently opened an “anti-piracy” base in Djibouti has already led to concerns. Now the Russians are coming!!!