Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Ali Abdullah Saleh

Any facts on Yemen conflict?

Saudi Arabia most obscurantist Wahhabi monarchy is directly launching a preemptive war on the Yemenis.

Since its creation in 1925 with the help of Britain, the Saudi monarchy (growing to over 5,000 princes) was the archenemy of every Arab State that demanded independence from the colonial powers.

The Saudi emirs had direct connections with the emerging Zionist movement since 1920, as if the Wahhabi Islamic sect is the twin sect with orthodox Jewish religion: No pictures, no dancing, no music, female are of much lower ranks than males… all these crappy dogmatic belief system.

The strategy of the Saudi monarchy (which suited well with the colonial powers and Israel) was simple:

1. decapitate Egypt, the head of the Arabic civilization, the arch enemy of the Saudi monarchy

2. Take the heart out of Syria: The bastion of Arabic culture and steadfast hotbed for revolutionary movements against monarchic systems

3. Never allow Syria to link up with Iraq, under any condition

Saudi monarchy fought all the wars in the Arab world using third parties mercenaries and agents with plenty of cash money to execute its destabilizing plans.

Now, Saudi monarchy made the strategic faux-pas by waging a war directly against Yemen. Why?

Yemen thwarted Saudi dominion on Yemen’s social and political structure and wants real independence from this Evil neighbour.

The main other reason is to enlist the vast pool of the poor people in Saudi Arabia into the army in order to absorb the vast discontent of the youth who are getting bored to death.

A patriotic war for a change might absorb the youth restlessness and despair.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates are saying to their “citizens”:

 Listen, we are not collecting taxes from you. electricity and oil are very cheap.  In return you have no rights to voice your opinion, vote or be represented in any political institution… There is no democracy of any kind and our power is given by God to rule over you…”

A few facts you need to know about Yemen and its conflicts

Published time: March 27, 2015 04:46
Followers of the Houthi movement demonstrate to show support to the movement in Yemen's northwestern city of Saada March 26, 2015. (Reuters/Naiyf Rahma)

Followers of the Houthi movement demonstrate to show support to the movement in Yemen’s northwestern city of Saada March 26, 2015. (Reuters/Naiyf Rahma)

One of the poorest and most violent countries in the Middle East, Yemen is also an area of strategic importance for regional players – and home of a few world’s most dangerous terror groups.

RT explains the underlying reasons behind the nation’s conflicts.

LIVE UPDATES: Gulf coalition launches airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen

Strategic location

The territory that lies within Yemen’s borders is one of the most ancient cradles of civilization in the Middle East, once known as ‘Arabia Felix’ – Latin for “happy” or “fortunate” – in ancient times. The lands of Yemen were more fertile than most on the Arabian Peninsula, as they received more rain due to high mountains.

But because of declining natural resources, including oil, Yemen and its population of about 26 million are now very poor.

Still, the country boasts a strategic location on the southwestern tip of Arabia.

It is located along the major sea route from Europe to Asia, near some of the busiest Red Sea shipping and trading lanes. Millions of barrels of oil pass through these waters daily in both directions, to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal and from the oil refineries in Saudi Arabia to the energy-hungry Asian markets.

The Yemeni transport hub of Aden was one of the world’s busiest ports in the 20th century.

North & South Yemen, plus the tribes

Although the history of the lands of Yemen date back thousands of years, modern Yemen itself is a young nation, with its current borders having taken shape in 1990, after North and South Yemen united.

Before that, both parts were involved in conflicts of their own.

Read more 

Northern Yemen was established as a republic in 1970, after years of civil war between royalists and republicans, with the first supported by Saudi Arabia and the latter by Egypt.

Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, rose to power through the military and held power for decades. Although Southern Yemen agreed to merge with Saleh’s northern republic in 1990, they soon became unhappy about the move.

The north and south became embroiled in a new civil war, resulting in thousands of casualties, while Saleh’s power prevailed.

Outside big Yemeni cities, there are a number of tribal areas that are effectively self-governing.

With a large number of civilians being in possession of arms – it is believed there are more guns in the country than citizens – local tribal militias often repress the national army and apply their own laws, based on traditions rather than the state’s constitution. Houthis have risen to be one of the most powerful militias in Yemen.

Sunni-Shia rift

The majority of Yemen’s population is Muslim, but it is split between various branches of Islam – mainly Sunni or Zaidi Shia.

The divisions between the Sunnis and the Shia are based on a long-running religious conflict that started as a dispute about the Prophet Mohammed’s successor.

While Shia Muslims believe the prophet’s cousin should have filled the role, Sunnis support the picking of Muhammad’s close friend and advisor, Abu Bakr, as the first caliph of the Islamic nation.

Read more 

That said, Zaidi Shias – making up about 40 percent of Yemen’s population – are the only Shia Muslim sect that do not share the belief in the infallibility and divine choice of imams, strongly revered as spiritual leaders among Shias. This causes them to align closer to Sunni practices.

At the same time, over the past decades, strict and puritanical Salafi and Wahhabi ideas of Sunni Islam – coming from neighboring Saudi Arabia – have become increasingly influential in Yemen.


Houthis represent the Zaidi branch of Shiite Islam from the far north of Yemen, adjacent to the Saudi border. The name of the group comes from a leading family of the tribe.

Its member – a Zaidi religious leader and former member of the Yemeni parliament, Hussein Badreddin al-Houthi – was accused by the government of masterminding a Houthi rebellion, including violent anti-Israeli and anti-American demonstrations, in 2004.

The Yemeni regime ordered a manhunt for al-Houthi, which ended with hundreds of arrests and the death of the Zaidi leader, with dozens of his supporters also killed.

Read more 

Since then, the Houthis have been actively fighting with the central power, demanding greater political influence and accusing the government of allying with mainly Wahhabi Saudi Arabia while neglecting national development and the needs of the traditional Zaidi tribes.

While Yemen’s now embattled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi has claimed that Houthis are supported by Hezbollah – the Lebanese Shia militia – some Western officials have alleged that Iran, one of the few Muslim nations of the Shia branch, financially supports Houthis in an effort to control Yemen’s Red Sea coast.

A totally ridiculous allegation denied by both  the Houthis themselves and Hezbollah.

Al-Qaeda & ISIS

Since 2009, Yemen has been an operational base of Al-Qaeda militants.

After the Yemeni and Saudi branches of Al-Qaeda merged to form Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group became one of the world’s biggest exporters of terrorism, with the US considering it the most dangerous branch of Al-Qaeda.

Osama bin Laden’s family lived in southern Yemen before emigrating to Saudi Arabia.

READ MORE: Yemeni Al-Qaeda says France replaced US as ‘main enemy of Islam’

Yemen’s fight against AQAP has been largely supported by the United States.

Since 2007, the US has supplied more than $500 million in military aid to Yemen through programs managed by the Defense Department and State Department, and conducted controversial drone strikes targeting terrorists in the country.

Read more 

Al-Qaeda’s ideology is based on radical Sunni Islam and thus is hostile to Houthis, who have also been at war with AQAP militants.

With several forces fighting in the country – including the official government, Houthis, and AQAP – the Yemeni chaos provided a fertile ground for extremism.

Extremist groups affiliated with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) now operate in Yemen, conducting terror acts against both the military and civilians.

In the latest March 20 attack, over 100 people were killed and some 250 injured in suicide bomb attacks on mosques in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, with ISIS militants claiming responsibility for the assault.

READ MORE: ‘Yemen crisis: clearly a failure of US foreign policy’


A funny UN Proposal: Sanctioning Peace Spoilers?

The British-drafted resolution, obtained Monday by The Associated Press, does not name any individuals or entities that should face a freeze of their assets and travel ban.

A proposed U.N. Security Council resolution would authorize sanctions against individuals and organizations threatening peace, security or stability, like in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Somalia, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan…

EDITH M. LEDERER, from the Associated Press, published this Feb. 24, 2014

UN Proposal Would Sanction Peace Spoilers in Yemen

Instead, the British-drafted resolution would establish a committee to decide who should face sanctions and to monitor their implementation, and a panel of experts to assist the committee.

Yemen has been struggling with a transition to democracy since the “Arab Spring” protests in 2011 that forced longtime ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down after 33 years as president.

A transitional government led by President Abed Rabbu Mansour Hadi is trying to deal with insecurity and terrorist attacks, promote national reconciliation, draft a new constitution and hold elections.

As a months-long national dialogue aimed at mapping out the country’s future ended on Jan. 25, Hadi pledged to form commissions to draft a constitution and work out details of a new federation for the country.

When British rule ended in 1967 southerners formed an independent state, but in 1990 the south joined a unified Yemen.

A 1994 attempt by southerners to regain independence was crushed in a three-month civil war, but many in the south still support independence.

While Hadi’s government is battling al-Qaida militants, several Yemeni security officials say supporters of ex-president Saleh with links to the country’s security and intelligence agencies have quietly backed al-Qaida fighters to undermine the government.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press.

The proposed Security Council resolution condemns the growing number of attacks carried out or sponsored by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group’s Yemen branch. (A too general statement, given it is Saudi Arabia who is funding and supporting all of Al Qaeda factions everywhere, and particularly in Yemen, Syria and Iraq and cooperating very closely with Israel in the planing and execution of the terrorist operations)

It welcomes the road map for a Yemeni-led political transition agreed on by all political parties at the national dialogue conference and expresses strong support for the next steps: drafting a constitution, poll reforms including the drafting of a new electoral law, holding a referendum on the draft constitution, reforming the government to move from a single to a federal state, and timely general elections.

A resolution adopted by the Security Council in June 2012 threatened non-military sanctions against those trying to undermine Yemen’s transition to democracy. (It is the military shipments that should be sanctioned)

The proposed new resolution determines “that the situation in Yemen constitutes a threat to international peace and security in the region.”

It authorizes an asset freeze and travel ban under Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter, which can be enforced militarily, against those “engaging in or providing support for acts that threaten the peace, security or stability of Yemen.”

The draft states that those subject to sanctions may include — but are not limited to — individuals or entities undermining completion of Yemen’s political transition, engaging in acts of violence or terrorism or attacks on essential infrastructure, and planning or committing human rights abuses.

Note: A few proposals are indulging in the absurd.

How the poor and troubled countries can reform within economical and financial sanctions?

How societies with over 50% unemployment can get out of this morass when the unemployed and unemployable youth are roaming the streets and finding no opportunities to maneuver within their stagnating life?

How these “down on their luck youth communities” can expect any earning potentials when the only deals with the powerful States are mainly weapon transactions?

take 7 INSIGHT: Youth Unemployment in Middle East, North Africa

Data are from ILO’s Global Employment Trends for Youth 2013 report.

Regional data are from ILO’s 2012 preliminary estimates; U.S. and E.U. data are from the OECD’s second quarter 2012 data.

No Win-No Win’ conditions in Yemen?

Do you believe elections will be held in Yemen next February?

It is unlikely, and yet without elections, the demands for reforms that were inspired by the Yemeni revolution would become devoid of any real value.

Yemenis might find themselves back on the street, repeating the original demands that echoed in the country’s many impoverished cities, streets and at every corner.

It is not easy to navigate the convoluted circumstances that govern Yemeni politics, which seem to be in a perpetual state of crisis.

When millions of Yemenis started taking to the streets on January 27, 2011, a sense of hope prevailed that Yemen would be transformed from a country ruled by tribal elite classes, and mostly beholden to outside regional and international powers, to a country of a different type that responds to the collective aspirations of its own people.

Ramzy Baroud published this Dec. 8, 2013 on Mideast Post:

Yemen’s Future: It’s A ‘No Win-No Win’ Situation For All

After a long stalemate that pinned most of the country and its political representatives against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his supporters, Gulf countries brokered a power transfer deal. The deal however sidelined Saleh, but not his family and their proponents.

It is of little help that interim President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who was elected to guide the transition for a two-year period in 2012, is no revolutionary.

He seemed sincere in his attempt to curb Saleh’s still prevailing influence over many of the country’s institutions, but that is hardly enough. Saleh’s supporters are still powerful and the former ruling class is fighting back for relevance and influence.

This results from a combination of deepening poverty and a failure to translate any of the revolution’s demands into any tangible solution that could be felt by the country’s poor and marginalized classes.

The target of Saleh’s supporters is the Conference of National Reconciliation (CNR). It convened on March 18 to explore common ground between all strands of Yemeni society, draw-up a new constitution and organize national elections.

The 565 members of the conference found out that their differences were too many to overcome. Exploiting Yemen’s political woes, tribal and sectarian divisions, the old regime used its own representatives at CNR, and sway over the media to derail the process.

In remarks before the Security Council, Jamal Benomar, the United Nations envoy to Yemen, sounded the alarm to the staged comeback. A statement of his remarks was made available to the media on Nov 28.

The statement said that there was a “well-funded, relentless and malicious media campaign” to undermine Hadi, so that he either prolongs his mandate or leaves offices. “Some elements of the former regime believe they can turn back the clock,” the envoy said. These elements have become a “persistent source of instability.”

The dialogue itself has been extended, with little evidence that anything concrete is on the way. What is even worse is that 85 delegates representing south Yemen, which until 1990 was a state of its own, decided to permanently leave the conference. The separatist movement in south Yemen has grown massively in recent months. The country is more vulnerable than ever before.

If Hadi leaves, a political vacuum could spark another power struggle. If he stays by extending his term in office, the dialogue is likely to falter even more. There can be no win-win situation, at least for now.

Considering that Benomar himself played a key role in shaping the current transitional period, his gloomy reading of the situation in Yemen is hardly encouraging.

As talks are derailed and the prospects of a compromise are at an all-time low, the Southern separatist movement Al-Hirak continues to gather steam. The movement grew increasingly more relevant following the Oct 12 rallies, when tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of Eden, mostly demanding secession from the north.

What is happening in Yemen these days is in complete contrast to the collective spirit that occupied the streets of the country nearly three years ago.

In Jan 2011, a large protest took place in the Yemeni capital Sana’a demanding immediate reforms in the country’s corrupt family and clan-based politics. Within a week the rest of the country joined the initial cry for reforms.

On Feb 3, both Sana’a and Eden (Aden) stood united under one banner. It was a momentous day because both cities once served as capitals of two warring countries. The youth of Yemen were able to fleetingly bridge a gap that neither politicians nor army generals managed to close despite several agreements and years of bloody conflicts.

However, that collective triumph of the Yemeni people was only felt on the streets of the country, overwhelmed by poverty and destitution, but also compelled by hope. That sentiment was never truly translated into a clear political victory, even after Saleh was deposed in Feb 2012.

The Gulf-brokered agreement under the auspices of the UN and other international players stripped the revolution of its euphoria. It merely diverted from the massive popular movement that gripped the streets for many months, allowing politicians, representatives of tribes and other powerful elites to use the NDC to simply achieve its own interests, be it to maintain a handle on power – as is the case of the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC), or to ignite old hopes of secession.

The party that was closest to the collective demands of ordinary Yemenis was the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), representing the opposition. However, conflict soon ensued between members of the JMP themselves, especially between the Islamic-leaning Yemeni Congregation for Reform (Islah) whose core supporters are based in the North, and the secularist Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP), based in the South.

Considering the mistrust in the very process that is meant to lead the country towards permanent reforms and democracy, and in the very representatives guiding the transition, it is no wonder that Yemen is once more at the brink of tumult.

The country’s unity, achieved in May 1990, after bitter struggle and war between a Marxist-Leninist South Yemen, and North Yemen, is now at risk. Equally as dangerous is that the south, although represented by the all-encompassing Al-Hirak, hardly speaks in one voice.

Al-Hirak itself is divided and at times seems incapable of taking one solid political stance. Following a statement in which Al-Hirak announced that they “completely withdraw from the conference (holding) all the parties that placed obstacles in our path responsible for this decision,” another statement surfaced on Nov 28, also attributed to Al-Hirak “denying the walkout and affirming that the Southern movement remains committed to the national dialogue,” reported Asharq Al-Awsat.

Yemen’s divisions are copious and growing, allowing the old regime to find ways to once more dominate the country. It could easily re-brand itself as the party capable of uniting all Yemenis and saving Yemen from complete economic collapse and disintegration.

Still empowered by the spirit of their revolution that underscored the resilience and discipline of one of the world’s poorest nations, Yemenis might find themselves back on the streets demanding freedom, democracy, transparency and more, demands of which nothing has been accomplished, nearly three years on.

Note 1: Devastating-civil-war

Note 2: Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-American journalist, author and former Al-Jazeera producer.

Ramzy Baroud taught Mass Communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, and is Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle.

Baroud’s work has been published in The Washington Post, The International Herald Tribune, The Christian Science Monitor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and is regularly published in newspapers across the Middle East.

Chilling anger in Yemen: And the “Muhammad Film” reaping more coverage…

And very few have seen the film yet. I didn’t even see the trail on Youtube, and I think millions of Moslems didn’t either, and might never see it. And the producer Sam B. is in hiding, somewhere in California?

And it doesn’t mean that because the film is not seen that it is not outrageous, and totally political in nature. Even Sam said that the film was political…And why right now on the “anniversary” of 9/11?

So far, the US embassies in the Moslem World are the direct targets, and might extend to Israel embassies wherever they are established in the Islamic World: In any case, it is getting obvious that Israel has funded the film (500 Jews contributed their money) and the director is Israeli, and the actors have at least Israeli passports…One of the actors is a new convert to Christianity and the son of a Hamas leader…

Hezbollah uncovered a long series of demonstrations this week in almost every large town in Lebanon. Starting Monday afternoon in Dahieh, Wednesday in Tyr (Sour), Thursday in Bint Jbeil, Friday in Baalbek, Saturday in Hermel…and expecting more demonstrations next week as the program is fine tuned…

Adam Baron, a freelance journalist based in Sanaa, published on September 15, 2012:

SANAA, YEMEN—As a mob of angry demonstrators descended on the heavily guarded United States Embassy in Sanaa, many observers seemed stunned into disbelief: The breach of the Embassy itself was unthinkable.

And the sheer anger displayed by the demonstrators, even according to many Yemenis, was chilling. But even if a video regarded as blasphemous prompted Thursday’s events, the factors at play involve much more than a movie.

Ostensibly, what sparked the siege on the US Embassy were statements by a number of religious leaders—amplified by social media and word of mouth—who condemned the film and called for protests.
While many in politically contentious Sanaa seemed eager to tie the protests to a prominent figure or faction, the truth was far less simple. Most of those taking part in the demonstrations lacked any obvious signs of religiosity: rather than bearded men or tribesmen in traditional garb, the bulk of those at the embassy were young men in western clothes, united, if anything, by their rage.

Vowing to sacrifice themselves for the honor of the Prophet Mohamed, they marched towards the embassy, and upon arriving at the walls surrounding the compound, apparently had little difficulty overwhelming the troops guarding the building.

Scaling walls, they moved to break glass, set cars alight and loot whatever they could, leaving graffiti expressions of “God is Great” and “Death to America” as testaments to their sentiments prior to being pushed out by Yemeni security forces about an hour later.

As word spread of the siege, few were surprised that protests against the video had occurred.  The logistics of the attack on the embassy compound left many Yemenis incredulous.  Among the most secure buildings in the capital, the American Embassy bears greater resemblance to a fortress than the sumptuous diplomatic residences of less volatile capitals.

In the context of Yemen’s contentious political scene, it was hard to believe that the breach of the embassy merely represented a security failure.

Although current president Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who formally replaced former president Ali Abdullah Saleh in accordance with an internationally backed power transfer agreement this February, Saleh is still a major player behind the scenes, as his relatives control key branches of the Yemeni Armed Forces.

Most of the troops guarding the embassy hailed from the Central Security Forces, a branch of the Yemeni military led by Yahya Mohamed Saleh, a nephew of former president Saleh. And in the wake of Thursday’s events, local observers expressed suspicions that the former president had a hand in the attack, or at least allowed it to happen.

“It’s nearly impossible to imagine that the Embassy could be breached with such ease,” said one Yemeni analyst, commenting the evening after the demonstration. “It’s not hard to suspect that something beyond incompetence was involved.”

But while tensions within Yemen’s divided military may have played a contributing role in allowing for the embassy breach itself, the origins of the anti-American rage displayed by demonstrators lie elsewhere.

Thursday’s events were not solely a response to the controversial film, which few Yemenis—including those taking part in the demonstrations—have seen. Rather, the film struck a nerve in Yemen because of long-simmering resentment of American policy.

Specifically, Yemenis resent what they characterize as the United States’ persistent meddling in Yemen’s internal affairs.  Even as government forces cracked down on peaceful anti-government demonstrations last year, the United States appeared reluctant to drop support for Saleh, who American officials viewed as a key ally in the battle against Yemen’s local Al Qaeda franchise.

Faced with the choice between siding with the Yemeni people and siding with the corrupt government, hundreds of thousands took to the streets to topple what they believe to be the US chose for Saleh oligarchical system.

Since Saleh ceded power, resentment over the United States’ past alliance with the former president has lingered.

Even today, many powerful opponents of Saleh claim that the United States still has not done enough to force the former president’s allies from power.

One opposition politician, while condemning the siege, commented that the CSF’s failure to protect the embassy was ironic payback for the United States’ hesitation to make a full break with the Saleh family.  After all, CSF commander Yahya Saleh was once a favored US commander.

At the same time, factions outside of Yemen’s political establishment have said that American reliance on traditional elites has contributed to their marginalization.

Beyond political issues, many Yemenis have expressed deep resentment over the ongoing American drone campaigns against local Al Qaeda (AQAP) figures. While the Yemeni government has permitted the strikes, many Yemenis see drone attacks as an infringement of the nation’s sovereignty and a violation of the rule of law, and they bristle at the way civilian casualties are brushed off as “collateral damages.”

Some Yemeni politicians and tribal leaders have long quietly argued that the drone strikes have led to a hardening of anti-American sentiment in Yemen. The recent deaths last week of 10 Yemeni civilians in an apparent US drone strike further inflamed popular anger over the drones.

Today is your day, oh Ambassador,” shouted the youthful crowd as it triumphantly ran through embassy property, mentioning Ambassador Gerald Feierstein by name.

Feierstein is largely praised by policy makers in Washington and he has held his post since September 2010. Feierstein is viewed in Yemen as a deeply controversial figure and profiled as Yemen’s “new dictator” by a prominent Yemeni journalist. 

Feierstein has come to personify unpopular American policies. The United States may have moved past its previous relationship with Saleh, providing important backing for his successor, but few Yemenis have forgotten that Feierstein himself stood by Saleh’s side, and a number of the ambassador’s apparent gaffes continue to resonate—most infamously, his characterization of the “Life March,” a 155-mile protest march undertaken by unarmed demonstrators in December, as an effort to “generate chaos.”

Activists charged that Feierstein’s statement effectively gave government forces a green light to launch a deadly crackdown on the march that left nine dead.

Ali al-Kamaly, a Yemeni youth activist, said: “The American administration has to rethink its foreign policy as the world has changed. The ambassador chose to oppose the aspirations of the Yemeni people during the life march last year. The movie was just the drop that inundated the beaker…peoples’ beliefs, rights and lives are the true redline.”

Note: So far, president Obama has executed Bush Jr foreign policies in the Middle-East, as if he was mind-reading what Bush Jr. might have decided…and making a policy to decapitate the “leaders” of Al Qaeda using drone attacks…Why?

Obama wants to prove to the US citizens that whoever is elected president will invariably follow the Middle-East foreign policies, even if the counsellors and political analysts in the CIA and State department have demonstrated to be incompetent and totally biased against Arabs and Moslems…

Note 2: I keep wondering: Why most US ambassadors in the Middle-East have to have a Jewish last name?

U.S. Blurs Fact With Fiction Stories In Yemen

The US is heavily involved militarily in Yemen, particularly in south Yemen on the basis that al Qaeda is making serious inroad in that impoverished region. Drone attacks are daily occurrences, and civilians are dying like flies as “collateral damage“.

 posted on April 2 (with slight editing):

Instead of holding Ali Abdullah Saleh (deposed Yemeni President)  internationally accountable as the strongman openly defies the UN/GCC-led “transition” process, the Obama administration has organized another information campaign to muffle Saleh’s commotion and defend U.S. policy in Yemen.

The latest strike was just transmitted through The Los Angeles Times, but it seems to have missed its mark again. The report’s misleading main body ends with a refutation of U.S. counter-terrorism and illustrates how far the administration is willing to exaggerate in order to conceal a foreign policy meltdown. CENTCOM’s new chief, General James Mattis, told Congress that the virtual standstill of operations in Yemen is a lull… What is Washington’s Definition of “Lull”?

CENTCOM’s new chief, General James Mattis visiting with deposed Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh
General James Mattis isn’t the first individual to make such a claim, but he may be the most powerful. Mattis inherited David Petraeus’s transactional relationship with Saleh when he took command in August 2010, and he now oversees Special Forces and CIA coordination on the Arabian Peninsula.
The Times’ journalists fall into the administration’s trap when they write: “The U.S. effort in Yemen was brought to a virtual standstill, a “lull”, by Saleh’s yearlong effort to cling to power.” The Wall Street Journal provided an accurate assessment when reporting on Mattis’s early March testimony, clarifying that “he said there had been a ‘lull’ in some U.S. programs, but they hadn’t stopped all U.S. operations.”
Army Lt. Col. Jim Gregory, Pentagon spokesman, said: “The U.S. military suspended training activities in Yemen last year due to political instability. However, given Yemen’s critical needs, we are exploring the possibility of resuming our suspended military assistance to help Yemen confront the common threat of al Qaeda.”
As the WSJ points out, the CIA has expanded its operations since Yemen’s revolution caught fire in January 2011. The number of drone strikes spiked in May and June, when Saleh first left the country for medical aid, and have continued throughout the “transitional” process that began in November.
This strategy is designed to wow American voters, who generally demand a cheap, far-off war against al-Qaeda, and create distance between Saleh’s corrupt and murderous regime.
Whether U.S. training operations were truly suspended at any point is difficult to conclude:  State and Pentagon officials have given contradictory statements on the issue. However the manufactured divide between programs is superficial.  Saleh’s U.S.-trained Republican Guard and Central Security Organization (and funded by the absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia)  spearheaded his assaults against Yemen’s revolutionaries, at times using U.S. weapons to kill protesters.
Pentagon officials insist that no equipment bled over into the streets, but WikiLeaks revealed Saleh’s misappropriations against the north Houthis (hawthi tribes that checked Saudi Arabia occupation attempts in 2009) and Southern Movement before the revolution.
Training and arming his personal guard, then suspending operations during a year of carnage, is an absurd alibi.
Despite a bloody crackdown that killed hundreds of peaceful protesters, Saleh has kept himself useful by intermittently cooperating on the intelligence front, in turn producing the death of public enemy US citizen from New Mexico Anwar al-Awlaki.
As a direct consequence of Saleh’s notoriously duplicitous behavior (exposed by WikiLeaks, among other sources), Washington also assists with the logistics and supplying of Yemen’s army as it battles al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the south.
Residents of Abyan governorate and one of Saleh’s own generals accused his counterterrorism units of withdrawing for months, a reality later confirmed by John Brennan himself. The White House’s counterterrorism chief has assumed diplomatic duties in a politically volatile environment, to many Yemenis’ displeasure, and Brennan subsequently claimed that Saleh’s cooperation had since improved by the time of al-Alwaki’s death.
After AQAP overran Rada’a, located southeast of Sana’a, with suspicious ease in January 2012, Yemeni officials reported that U.S. Special Forces were participating in the recovery operation.
These developments have created a vicious cycle of instability that is currently drowning out Yemen’s revolutionaries. Disturbingly, the Obama administration wants to get every program back online and, more importantly, boosted to higher levels before the revolution achieves its objectives. Washington continues to entertain the payoff of a smaller war, but Yemen’s battleground will only expand under the current U.S. policy.
“Not supporting Saleh?”
According to named and unnamed officials, training operations with Saleh’s regime were suspended once the administration became fearful of the safety of U.S. personnel. This notion jars with Washington’s eagerness to “restart” counterterrorism training by deploying personnel already sleeping inside the country.  False.
More flagrantly false is the White House’s claim that America “isn’t backing a repressive ruler.” The administration had grown unsustainably close to Saleh’s personal “counterterrorism” units, more often deployed against the Houthis and Southern Movement than AQAP.
The administration did support the opposition Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) prior to the revolution, when Saleh attempted to stretch his five-year term to seven, but Washington simply hoped to run a counterterrorism campaign under Saleh through 2014.
A billion dollar aid package was earmarked to sustain Saleh until then. From here Saleh’s son Ahmed, or another pro-American official (possibly Hadi) would assume nominal control of the presidency as Saleh worked from the background.
Yemen’s revolution essentially accelerated this plan: Western and Gulf powers still intend to guide Yemen down a controlled path of political, military and economic hegemony. Saleh himself received a medical vacation in New York City before returning to Sanaa, where he receives preferential treatment under the guise that he must be removed slowly.
Hollow threats to freeze his assets or evoke his UN-approved immunity are nowhere close to materializing (because some of his assets and potential war crimes trace back to Washington). Yet this narrative has been successfully built up stateside as the U.S. and GCC attempt to restructure Yemen’s military, an urgent process that subverts a genuine political transition.
A majority of Yemenis already perceive the U.S. as of Saleh’s only allies, and efforts to manipulate the revolution continue to expand the country’s pre-existing antagonism towards America.
“Not interfering with internal conflicts?”
The Obama administration would like Americans and Yemenis to be believed, in one official’s words, “We don’t want to become involved in the country’s internal battles.” Unfortunately the administration has accelerated far past this point of return.
Turning “every anti-government fighter against the United States” could be an exaggeration, but Washington has made enemies with every anti-regime bloc outside of the JMP. From the Houthis in the north to Yemen’s urbanized revolution to the south’s secessionist campaign, each area is negatively affected by U.S. and Saudi policy.
Pentagon officials counter these fatal flaws by raising the profile of Abd Mansur Hadi, Saleh’s replacement and former vice president. The less egoistic Hadi represents an upgrade from Saleh’s autocratic personality and, if left to his own decisions, could serve as a passable transitional figure. A senior Defense official told the LA Times that Hadi “has shown the will and ability to make the changes…It’s a matter of getting the right focus and the right plan and someone to lead it.”
However Washington and the GCC didn’t author “the right plan” to resolve Yemen’s multidimensional conflict – they wrote with their own interests in mind. Saleh kept Hadi around for a reason and the new president has found himself predictably obstructed by loyalists – all a byproduct of the GCC’s terms.
Although cautiously accepted by the revolutionaries as the lesser of two evils, Hadi is viewed as a puppet by Saleh and Washington alike.
The country’s geopolitical significance partially explains the relentless nature of counterrevolutionary forces. What accounts for the mystery is the fact that America’s pre-revolutionary policy would create a more dangerous AQAP by 2014.
The revolution should have triggered a strategic realignment that emphasizes relations with Yemenis, not sacrifices them to maintain counterterrorism operations with the remnants of Saleh’s regime.
Until the full spectrum of Yemen’s popular grievances are addressed by an objective party, U.S. policy will remain a source of instability with limited sustainability in Yemen’s future.

Yemen National Crisis: We have no water, no electricity, no food…

I edited a published piece from Sanaa, Yemen on October 1, 2011.

“I don’t know why Anwar al-Awlaki was important,. The US says he is a terrorist from Al Qaeda,” said Belal Masood, who works in a restaurant in Sana’s old city. “But maybe this will create a problem for us Yemenis (US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was assassinated by a US drone in Yemen), because when you strike Al Qaeda they normally strike back later and at larger scale. Really, we wish they could have killed him in another country. We Have Bigger Problems Than Al Qaeda”

Many Yemenis had not even heard that Awlaki had been killed, even by Friday night. And most had only a faint sense of why the United States considered him a highly significant target. If anything, Yemenis thought his death would only increase their woes.

Walid Seneb is sitting on a street curb with three friends on Friday night. Walid  was the only one of the four men who had heard of the cleric’s death. and he said: “We don’t like these terrorists who make problems for us. But right now, there are worse problems than Al Qaeda. Our national crisis is the biggest problem. There is no water, electricity, everything administrated by the government has stopped.”

Eight months of anti-government protests tore the Yemen’s government apart. The armed forces are divided between those loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh and those who follow a rebel military commander. Conflict between the two sides turned into urban warfare in Sana two weeks ago, with over 100 people being killed.  There are fears of the breaking out of a large-scale civil war.  The debilitating economic crisis has absorbed Yemenis daily concerns and worries: They lack the attention span to devote to the death of a man who was most known for reaching out to the English-speaking world of Muslim extremists.

Nadwa al-Dawsari, who works for a nonprofit organization in Sana, said: “Awlaki’s life or death doesn’t matter for Yemenis. It is not a priority for us. Not many Yemenis know who Awlaki was anyway. It doesn’t matter how many Al Qaeda members are killed as long as the underlying causes that makes extremism thrive are resolved.”

Yemenis in the opposition suspect that the Saleh family provided information to the United States on Awlaki’s whereabouts to gain political favor.  Saleh’s family controls the security apparatus responsible for counter-terrorism activities. (As if terrorist and counter-terrorist activities have not converged to be simply similar in terrorism mentality and consequences)

Is the Obama administration working diplomatically to find a way to ease President Saleh out from office? Many doubt this alternative and the US intentions. Nader al-Qershi, a youth organizer at Sana’s large antigovernment demonstration, said: “Now Saleh is going to tell the people that he can kill al Qaeda, and who can kill them except Ali Abdullah Saleh? Saleh administration has a lot of intelligence pieces on the members of Al Qaeda.”

It was widely assumed in Yemen that Saleh’s government must have been aware of Mr. Awlaki’s whereabouts l, but was reluctant to hand over that information to the Americans or kill Mr. Awlaki, because he is from a powerful tribe in southern Yemen that might seek retribution if he was killed.

“Saleh wanted to show the world that he is a hero against Al Qaeda,” said Hussein Mohammed, who runs a small hotel in Sana’s old city. Mohammed, like many people here, did not think that Mr. Awlaki’s death would alter the political dynamic in their country. He said it was not al Qaeda, but the struggle among Yemen’s political elites that poses the greatest risk to the country’s future.

Tribesmen loyal to Saleh’s main political rival, Hamid al-Ahmar, have engaged in almost daily street warfare with the government’s security forces in a northern district of Sana over the past few weeks. The sound of artillery fire echoing through the capital has become commonplace.

“They struck Anwar al-Awlaki, why don’t the Americans strike Ali Abdullah Saleh and Hamid al-Ahmar?” Mohammed asked.




June 2023

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