I3: Integrated International Intervention – The Future of Stability & Security Operations Using Yemen & Somalia as Success Models

By Brandon Scott

Written in 2014

The 21st Century has shown that the Core; connected countries that are predominantly stable and progressive with regards to security, governance & development are affected by what happens in the Non-Integrating Gap (or just Gap); countries that are disconnected, unstable, and not progressive with governance, security & development.[i][ii] Historically the transaction has been unidirectional, though with this evolution the Core was forced to change their methods of engagement with Gap regions. This evolution in foreign affairs is the new paradigm for engagement. Reviewing Yemen and Somalia as extreme examples will provide evidence of the new paradigm and its successes. Read More

OSINTSUM 20JAN2016

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OSINTSUM 19JAN2015

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Bagram, Afghanistan

 

OSINTSUM 18JAN2015

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10 Gitmo detainees from Yemen sent to Oman

Egypt extends participation in Yemen conflict

After 25 years, Saudi Embassy officially reopens in Baghdad

Three Qaeda suspects ‘killed in Yemen drone strike’

AQIM takes Australian couple hostage in northern Burkina Faso

US confirms Americans kidnapped in Baghdad

It’s been 25 years since the start of Operation Desert Storm

Al Qaeda Attacks in Burkina Faso Kill at Least 30

Oil slides to lowest since 2003 as Iran sanctions lifted

Sanctions lifted after Iran found in compliance on nuclear deal

OSINTSUM 14JAN2015

Sanaa Cityscape

Sana’a, Yemen

Worry not; the world is still falling apart. BBC reported an original attack in Jakarta: Jakarta attacks: Bombs and gunfire rock Indonesian capital Which is particularly ironic following the fanfare that The Atlantic’s article “ISIS in the World’s Largest Muslim Country- Why are so few Indonesians joining the Islamic State?” got.

As the SOTU played out Iran was detaining 10 US Navy Sailors as a near PR stunt. And as such they were released soon after: Iran releases 10 US Navy sailors after boat drifted in Persian Gulf. If half of your Facebook friends are like mine there much anger and social media promises to seek revenge against Iran once social media comment at a time.

OPSEC being what it is, the US announced that “Special U.S. targeting force ‘now in place’ in Iraq.” Good thing they are not ya know, like a secret force.

In the wake of the continued Iran-Saudi Charlie Foxtrot, Saudi has called in its chips from Sunni allies, including the nascently stabilizing Somalia. And as such Iran received some blow back when an Iranian Aid Agency Looted In Somalia After African Nation Cuts Ties With Tehran.

As Nigeria continues to face security troubles with Boko Haram, it is reported that UK Sends Troops To Train Nigerian Soldiers.

Russia is continually nervous about the implosion of Afghanistan and as such decided that sending more guns will help: Russia to send small arms to Afghanistan

Turkey already pinned between a Europe and a hardplace and just facing a notable terrorist attack, has seen yet another attack in there southern region: Deadly car bomb hits police HQ near Diyarbakir, Turkey.

In case you thought Al Qaeda was gone – wait who is Al Qaeda? Yeah, they are still around releasing podcasts in the glorious shadow of ISIL: Al Qaeda releases 3 new messages from Ayman al Zawahiri

Recent reporting has illustrated an increase of instability coming out of India. The small yet potent Islamic minority there continues to produce some unsavory extremists as of late: Arrested in Syria, four Indian youths ‘planning to join ISIS’

OSINTSUM 13JAN2016

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Kabul, Afghanistan

 

#Yemen – An Open Letter to Dr. Steve Caton of @Harvard regarding Charlene Anne’s @AJEnglish Article

Dar al Hajar

Dear Dr. Steve Caton of Harvard,

I would expect wiser sentiments from an established Harvard professor with notable experience in Yemen but alas Dr. Steve Caton’s closing comment in Charlene Anne’s Al Jazeera article about Yemen states “I am not sanguine about the immediate future of Arabic language studies in Yemen, not until the drone programme is stopped and western countries get really serious about helping Yemen to reconstruct, instead of focusing narrowly on terrorists.”

Steve, let’s talk about Yemen for a moment. First I have a question for you, which problem does the drone program cause? Is it the water scarcity problem in Yemen? The Southern Secessionist issue? Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula attacks? The Sa’ada conflict and Houthi de facto coup d’etat? Perhaps the extensive food scarcity problem? Corruption in the Sana’ani government? Oppression of Yemeni female livelihood? Did we blow up a power plant causing the electricity to go out every day from early to mid-afternoon? Did a Hellfire missile hit a text book factory causing pandemic illiteracy across the nation? Do Hellfire missiles stop students from studying abroad in Yemen at CALES, YIAL or YCMES?

Sorry buddy but it was none of those. I was there during extensive drone strikes and students still came. The only thing that made students leave was fear from kidnapping or the paranoid Yemeni government themselves. Tying the drone program to the overall issues of Yemen is amateur and politicized. Feel obliged to ramble on about innocents killed by the drone program – though that is being done extensively already so it is kind of a moot point. But do not target the drone program as cause for the lack of foreign students studying abroad in Yemen. All the ones I know who just fled in the last few months were leaving due to the Houthi advancement on the capital. Having sat in the Sa’ada Working Group at the NDC I assure you, the Houthis have not a problem with the drone strike. So please spare us your politics.

I am also thrown off by your assertion that the future of Arabic language studies in Yemen is also doomed until “western countries get really serious about helping Yemen to reconstruct, instead of focusing narrowly on terrorists.” To begin with, reconstruction and western government focusing on counterterrorism has little to no effect on foreigners going to Yemen to study Arabic. When I moved to Yemen to study Arabic during the embassy evacuations in 2013 my friends in disbelief never once said “Yemen?! But we do not support reconstruction there!” nor did anyone ever say “Why would you go to Yemen, Western countries target Al Qaeda there.” Nope. Not one. To be sure, what everyone did say however was “Dude you’re gonna get kidnapped or shot.” So your assumption is just that, an assumption, and an ignorant political one at that.

I say ignorant because I wonder if you even track the “reconstruction” efforts by Western countries in Yemen or if this is just your go-to sound bite. Shall I remind you of the notable efforts by USAID in Yemen? Perhaps you have forgotten of the “reconstruction” support Yemen receives from the World Bank to which the U.S. is the largest shareholder? Did you even conduct research into western reconstruction efforts before you made those comments? Let me pull from a previous post of mine for your edification:

[…] look at the assistance package from the US to Yemen from 2012. CNN’s Security Clearance Blog reported at the time that:

“In the new assistance package, the State Department will provide roughly $47 million in security assistance. The Pentagon will provide an additional $112 million to train and equip the Yemeni security forces to conduct counterterrorism operations. On the civilian side, the United States will provide $178 million for humanitarian aid, development and assistance to help Yemen transition to democracy.”

Yes that is right, the math shows that the Civilian side of the assistance was greater than the amount of Military aid…by $20 Million. That is “$337 million in assistance in the 2012 fiscal year, up from $147 million provided in the previous fiscal year.” Now because there are many different avenues of funding for many types of aid let’s take a look at what the US is doing for the political transition of the country. In March 2013, the US Department of State reported:

“In coordination with the international community, including the United Nations, the United States plans to provide $10.4 million in technical and operational assistance to support the Yemeni-led National Dialogue process, slated to begin March 18. We plan to contribute $1.2 million to support constitutional reform and referendum projects. We also plan to provide $8.4 million in technical assistance to prepare for national elections in February 2014, including for reforms to Yemen’s voter registry. We are also supporting the efforts of Yemeni women to ensure their voices and perspectives contribute to Yemen’s transition.”

Looking at the Civilian/Humanitarian side of the aid alone for the 2012 fiscal year, Nabeel Khoury, (former Deputy Chief of Mission 2004-2007) stated “this is more than ten times what U.S. assistance to Yemen was during the 2004-2007 period.” So not only do we provide a ridiculous amount of aid to Yemen – we have exponentially increased it.

It is not just the government that provides a great amount of assistance either. The large mega American corporation of Proctor & Gamble donated millions of vaccinations to the Yemen people, reported TradeArabia.com:

“In total over five million vaccines were donated by P&G to Unicef campaign for use in Yemen. These vaccines were distributed and used by Unicef and the Yemeni Government to vaccinate up to two million mothers of child-bearing age over a period of several weeks in 2011.”

The international community overall is pouring assistance into Yemen. Look at the efforts to better education in Yemen by UNICEF, who recently signed a $72.6 Million agreement to support educational needs in Yemen.

Steve, your comments are a disgrace us Yemeniphiles. They are unfounded, unresearched and far below the professional-grade standard that should come from a man of your caliber. It is this blame culture in foreign affairs that does more damage than good. Throwing blame on the U.S. instead of acknowledging that first, the U.S is not inherently responsible for Yemen’s issues, secondly regional neighbours have done far more damage to Yemen than “western countries” could begin to. Thirdly, “western countries” have poured aid of all types into Yemen over the years while select Yemenis continue to play tribal power politics with corruption, provide tacit and overt support to AQAP or have joined AQAP themselves. Fourthly, people such as yourself whom continue to dispense this faulty logic are in my opinion causing more harm to Yemen than anyone because they provide excuses that let those who are really to blame, off the hook. I expect better from you Steve.

Respectfully,

Brandon Scott

My Return to #Afghanistan After 11 Month Sabbatical in DC & #Yemen

For those of you who track my movements a bit (hopefully all fans and not terrorists and spies) I have returned to Afghanistan. I left Eastern Afghanistan in mid-2013 to study in Yemen. What was supposed to be a brief 90 day visit became a 1 month delay (hiding out in DC & Colombia) then a 5 month move to Sana’a, Yemen. I left in early January 2014 when most expats began picking up and leaving as most of us faced deportation, fear from increased security threats (the kidnapping of American Journalist Luke Somers & the Ministry of Defense attack) or the general feel that the Yemeni government was really riding most of us in some way. The feeling that either the Yemeni government was going to detain and deport us or we were going to get shwacked by AQAP was a bit pressing I felt. Either way I left on my own accord to continue my academic sabbatical studies in Washington, DC.

I expected to be in DC for merely a matter of days to weeks, however this ballooned into about 6 months. My move back to DC was unexpected and in a very short period of time I had to acquire an entire American life after nearly 2.5 years overseas. Boom: Car, Apartment, Girlfriend, Income, Cable (side note: DirecTV sucks) and everything that goes along with returning after years abroad.

I laid low in DC for several months until in May when I completed my studies and immediately took another gig back in Afghanistan where I have been for a week now. I look forward to keeping you informed of the International Security Environment with special focus on Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and all critical hotspots the world over. Stay Tuned for some great analysis and increased activity.

I am More Yemeni Than You: Spook Fashion in #Yemen

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In Jeb Boone’s Vice News article, The CIA’s Bro Culture Is Doing Yemen No Favors Jeb provides a sort of humorous critique of the US Intelligence & Defense Community’s “bro culture”. To begin with, I actually thought the article was pretty-damned entertaining and I laughed a good bit and subsequently shared it with a few associates in this small community that I have been a member of for nearly 15 years. I also particularly found it a fun read as it is about Yemen, where I recently spent several month living on an academic sabbatical (unrelated to my work) when I had left Afghanistan after nearly two years working and fled to Yemen to improve my Arabic.

I carried a knife with me everywhere I went in Yemen. When I got haircuts (which was often 2-3 times a month), I always kept one hand on my knife. Getting haircuts in unstable countries is one of the moments where you find yourself particularly vulnerable. Leaving out the notion that if the barber is using a straight razor (which is enough to keep you on your toes) you are in a small room with easy access to the street, sitting, with a sheet over you, often with your eyes closed but for sure not facing the street entrance. This is the worst kind of tactical situation you can find yourself in.

One American friend of mine in Yemen when getting his first haircut in Yemen asked me to come with him because he was so nervous. I was not able to, however I did stop in and check on him to reassure him. I also informed him that it is not in the barber’s best interest to conduct or accept an act of violence to a foreigner in their shop. He felt better. I think.

Back to the point. The critique is that people of my business, are basically cliché as shit in their method of dress and that it does more harm than good when trying to protect yourself. I pondered this extensively when I showed up to Yemen. Having worked in Afghanistan my entire wardrobe consisted of that described by Jeb. To be more specific it is Merrill shoes. 5.11 pants (this has changed over the years to include a few other brands), a beard, button up shirts from 5.11 or Exofficio or Columbia or any of the myriad assortment of brands available. In addition, the Oakley glasses.

Let me school you in this topic a little further. When operating in environments that may be prone to violence, heat and harsh weather you must select your wardrobe carefully. The pants, shoes and shirt brands do not matter. You want stuff that is moisture-wicking, dry-weave, wrinkle-free, many pockets, a lot of venting, UV blocking, insect repellant covered and very durable (often times also flame resistant). Footwear is similar: comfortable, protective, durable, moisture-wicking yet water repellant and great traction. Eyewear (or EyePro [eye protection as we call it]) is about staying on your head in times of rapid three-dimensional movement, comfortable to wear for 12-18 hours at a time, full-cover (unlike traditional RayBan like glasses that let dust and sun in from the sides) and most importantly: Ballistic. You want EyePro that will protect you from flying debris, particularly shrapnel. This leaves about a dozen key brands that make ballistic glasses with Military Specifications. For the record, only SEALS and douches wear Oakleys. I prefer Revision and WilleyX Roamer II.

So, this is why we wear this stuff. Whether to wear it in Yemen where you are not in an open conflict zone is left open to interpretation. My civilian friends in Yemen laughed about my apparel all the time and so did I. I like jokes. I was not sure if sporting my usual outfit was the wiser decision over investing in a Thobe, Shawl, Jambiya and sandals. I looked at the decision as purely tactical and functional. First I looked at the threat: Kidnapping. Most of the foreigners who were kidnapped – from what I read and analyzed myself (and keep in mind Luke Somers was taken about a month after I arrived) – were surveyed for a while and specifically targeted. Based off this analysis, if you are kidnapped as a foreigner in Yemen it is not because you were walking down the street and “looked American”. It is because you were watched and identified as a target for some time.

So if sticking out does not facilitate the threat towards you then you should make your decision based off what apparel is best to have to resist the attack, i.e. tactical functionality. Compare how well you can run and fight in a thobe or even the highly comfortable man-skirt versus tactical pants. I own all three personally, but when I was walking the streets of Sana’a I preferred to have mobility over appearing as if I was “respecting the culture” by wearing clothes that were not ever in my culture. The love of wearing local garb when living abroad is commendable, but not when it becomes done so in a non-pragmatic way in order to exhibit some kind of “I am more Yemeni than you” it is highly pretentious.

As for the beards, we just think we look cool with them – in Yemen, Afghanistan or DC.

Yemen: The Failure of Expat Journalists

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(Sana’a Cityscape)

In the recent post at womanfromyemen.blogspot.com titled Are you sure there are no more journalists in Yemen? The author provides phenomenal commentary on the plight that expat journalists in Yemen deal with.

I particularly like these parts:

[W]hile it’s admirable that some journalists leave the luxuries of their homes to work in less comfortable societies, it is important to remember that this is entirely their choice, and they do get something in return.

Once someone lives in “dangerous” Yemen, he/she is automatically given the “brave” award.

[P]lease don’t make us feel like you are doing us a favor by being here. Please give us the respect and spare us the brave altruistic hero persona. It is not a favor you are bestowing on us to be living here.

While in Yemen from August 2013 to January 2014, I was friends with a number of journalists and those who worked in the journalism field. I also extensively followed the reports coming out of Yemen and international reports regarding Yemen from outside of Yemen. These associates of mine never knew as a matter of fact the level that I followed their work, the fact that I had followed journalists in Yemen since 2011 because of personal connections (two of my ex-girlfriends were friends with Laura Kasinof) nor were they aware as a matter of fact of who I was – professionally. This let me keep my finger on the pulse of the small closed clique of expat journalists in Yemen over the course of years since 2011; while simultaneously remaining a fly-on-the-wall, if you will. This provided me with a good amount of insight into the social circles and written work.

What particularly always bothered me while I read the works coming from expat journalists was the fact that none of these journalists seemed to have much expertise in the field they were reporting – International Security, Foreign Affairs, Intelligence, Counterterrorism, Stability Operations, etc. This led to the bulk of the work seemingly being regurgitated hyperbole and expat “subject matter expert” commentary. However, just being on the ground in Yemen does not make you a subject matter expert of these affairs.

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(Fresh Printing, Yemen Times)

While I greatly respected those that I knew on a personal level, and greatly admired the risks of those who worked in unstable regions, I often questioned to myself whether these people were the right people for the job. Working in a place like Yemen was a sure way to go from unknown to global overnight due to the sheer lack of Western journalists available in Yemen. I understand from a professional growth perspective why this would be such a critical move for budding writers, however the fact that their words often went unquestioned due to their geographical location always struck me as dangerous. It seemed to me there was a near consensus between the reporting that left all reporting coming out of Yemen, to be synchronized monotonous reporting. One could summarize the opinions as “Drones are not the solution, Hadi is not the solution, Saleh is not the solution, America is not the solution, the NDC is not the solution”

I cannot recall one writer who supported any policy from anyone. Even given that this is accurate, never did I see a solution provided by these writers – and by solution I mean something with more specificity than just saying cop out lines such as “we need a comprehensive policy” or “Drones are not the answer to poverty”. These are not solutions. These are symptoms of people who have not worked in stability and security operations before and have never had to develop actual solutions to complex problems.

Despite Iona Craig’s declaration that there are no more journalists in Yemen (and yes we know you meant journalists with journalist visas) there are still several unofficial reporters in Yemen. More so, I hope this reset of the voice coming from Yemen provides space for local journalists (actually Yemeni) and budding unofficial journalists to step up and provide a fresh look at Yemen to include actual solutions. For those who have left Yemen, perhaps now your work will be viewed in the construct of integrity and not accepted simply because you are able to get invites to chew khat with wasta-full Sanaanis.

@Yemen deports journalist Adam Baron @adammbaron

@Yemen deports journalist Adam Baron @adammbaron

When things heat up, Yemen has the tendency to expel foreigners – everything from journalists to students. In late 2013 those of us in Yemen saw an increase in our expat circles of students being deported and journalists having issues with their visas. I myself was told if I was not leaving on my own accord I was going to be deported. After I left several associates of mine were deported and it seems this is continuing today.