Guest post by Blogger PZ, Plank hold Member of The Skiff...
Yemen lurks in the back corner of news bureaus in America due to the sheer discomfort that the subject brings up for the talking heads of D.C. What is it about this remote, yet strategic corner of land at the south east corner of the Arabian peninsula that should captivate the reader's attentions?
Information Bullet # 1
Geography. Like most things, geography will explain a lot to the observant.
Yemen's position is astride the Strait of Mandeb (Bab al Mandeb), which connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. Appropriately, this means “Gate of Tears” ( باب المندب) in Arabic . A narrow passage about 20 miles wide, with small islands interspersed throughout, it hosts two internationally significant shipping channels.
|Graphic courtesy of Iron Mike @ Rapid Republican Blog|
Through this key and narrow choke point, trade flows to and from Europe. It is a major export route for petroleum to Europe, and finished value-added goods from Europe to all points in the East, as the primary shipping route between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian ocean.
The British, French, Ottomans and Portuguese all vied for control of this strategic trade route over time. The basis for that conflict and struggle for control remains the same, although the players may change.
The Houthis have sought to reassure Egypt, over concerns this will have on shipping transiting through the Suez Canal, which Egypt controls and brings it billions of dollars in revenue. However, should the Houthis lose control of the region, all such "assurances" are moot.