August 29, 2019


Are Yemen's Houthis the Future of War?: Taking a page from T.E. Lawrence and excelling at primitive drone technology, these 'ragtag' insurgents are besting major powers in Yemen. (MICHAEL HORTON, August 26, 2019, American Conservative)
Houthi loyalists chant slogans during a rally held to mark the fourth anniversary of the war on March 26, 2019 in Sana'a, Yemen. (Photo by Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images)
If you want to see the future of war, look closely at the fighting in Yemen. 

There, the Houthis, a rebel group based in the country's northwest, have fought the lavishly funded and equipped militaries of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to a standstill. They have even proven capable of launching attacks deep inside Saudi Arabia. How did this poor, lightly equipped and armed rebel group do it? And what does it mean for the United States, which continues to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in complex, costly, and vulnerable weapons systems?  

First, the Houthis have grasped the algebra of insurgency. In an article penned in 1920, T.E. Lawrence argued that insurgents would be victorious if they understood and applied a set of "algebraical factors." He listed these as mobility, force security, and respect for the populace. The Houthis have refined and applied all three to varying degrees over the last decade. 

The Houthi forces are small and highly mobile, and this, combined with Yemen's mountainous terrain, provides them with force security. Most critically, they and their allies have respected the local populace by providing--at least relative to southern Yemen--high levels of security and predictability. 

Sana'a, the capital of Yemen and a city of at least five million, is relatively crime- and al-Qaeda-free, and some basic public services continue to be provided despite a four-year-long blockade, ongoing aerial bombardment, and no electricity. Sana'a is, by necessity, the first capital city to be almost entirely dependent on solar power. 

It's basically the Revolutionary War and they represent a people who consider themselves a nation.  All you need to know about any such war is what would happen if you held a referendum on the future of the country on that day.  The Houthi are inevitably going to govern themselves eventually. There is no Yemen.

Posted by at August 29, 2019 8:52 AM