For several years we have watched the political situation in the Middle East deteriorate. As we pulled the majority of our forces from bases in Iraq and Kuwait we left a vacuum that legitimized the terrorist movement in the Arab countries. The mere presence of American troops was a deterrent to expansion of terrorist organizations in countries that had recently gone democratic in governmental structure. Unfortunately this was not realized by our national government and it was more important to fulfil a political promise than it was to satisfy a world commitment to encourage a free world.
Today we are paying the price for this miscalculation. In Iraq ISIS has taken control of large expanses of territory that Americans fought to make free so that innocent Iraqis had an opportunity to experience the freedoms we take for granted in America. Had we maintained a small operating force in Iraq with a large pre-staged depot of arms ready and waiting for quickly deployed American troops if a crisis occurred; the current ISIS situation in Iraq may have never even been attempted. Had we moved to support the revolutionaries in Syria as I discussed three years ago, we would not have the ISIS controlled areas of Syria nor would have the embryo of ISIS grown into the monster it is today.
Iraq and Syria and the ISIS war is only a part of the Mid-East turmoil. While the underlying turmoil in countries such as Egypt and Libya are simmering caldrons that may potentially re-erupt; two other recent situations are quit alarming and could affect the ISIS situation in the Middle East with farther reaching consequences in the West.
Yemen is a country located on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. Unlike its’ neighbors to their north, Yemen is a poor country with no major natural resources. In the mid- 1900s it eventually split into two parts. South Yemen was supported by the Soviet Block while North Yemen was not aligned with the communist. Civil wars happened and I remember one friend, John Bowair a manager for Neighbors Drilling, arming himself as he crossed from Arabia to Yemen to escort a drill rig to safety in Arabia. Eventually the two countries merged but during Desert Storm Yemen protested any foreign forces on Arab soil. Undocumented air incursions occurred during the Gulf war and led to a dog fight over southern Arabia.
Eventually Yemen became friendly to America and despite the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in 2000 that left 19 American Sailors dead, the American alliance grew. Then during the Arab Spring that saw the yokes of oppression being thrown off of old Arab regimes, Yemen became democratic. It also became a nest of terrorism as the Saudi chapter and Yemen chapter of Al Qaida joined into a unified organization. The desert mountains of Yemen was a perfect location for Al Qaida to operate in and American drone strikes were allowed by the government to counter the world threat. One terrorist leader, an American was killed by an American drone while living and operating in Yemen.
Last week Yemeni insurgents caused the Yemen government to fall. America came very close to evacuating the American Embassy staff. America no longer has a launching point against terrorist. What is even worse is that the terrorist may well become the government of Yemen. This would be the first time that an entire country falls under the rule of a terrorist organization and strengthens the Anti-West movement in the Middle East.
North of Yemen lies Saudi Arabia and that country has just lost its’ king. King Abdulla has died and in accordance with the Muslim faith was buried before the sun set on the day of the death. In accordance with the succession of the monarchy his brother became king. This brother, Salman, is the last son of the original king of Saudi Arabia, King Saud, so he will be the end of the original chain of succession. While many felt the end was close for the monarchy of Saudi Arabia, it is still enduring. The new king does have his challenges. Saudi Arabia is composed of many prominent families and these tribes must be included in the decision making processes without showing tribal preference. Also, the Shiite religious sect of the Muslim faith has been suppressed. The ruling family and the majority of Saudi’s are of the Suni sect. Uprisings have happened in the past and this is an opportune time for this to take place again. If there was ever an opportune time for ISIS to use this transition and affect the government of one of our most staunch allies in the Mid-East, now is that time. Both Saudi Arabia and the West must be vigilant.
One thing is certain, 2015 will be pivotal point in our fight against terrorism and we must be decisive and we cannot waiver in this battle.

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