Obama's War On Yemen
By Stephen Lendman
04 January, 2010
Besides waging direct or proxy wars on multiple fronts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, the Philippines, Sudan, Eastern Congo, elsewhere in Africa, and likely to erupt almost anywhere at any time, Yemen is now a new front in America's "war on terror" under a president, who as a candidate, promised diplomacy, not conflict, if elected.
In 2008, he told the Boston Globe that:
"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."
None exists, yet he's done the opposite and much more. He:
-- reinvented a "Cold War" with Russia;
-- is encircling it and China with military bases, and proceeding with provocative plans to install interceptor missiles in Poland (for offense, not defense) and advanced tracking radar in the Czech Republic;
-- escalated war in Afghanistan;
-- appointed a hired gun assassin to lead it, General Stanley McChrystal, infamous for committing war crime atrocities as former head of the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC);
-- authorized death squad assaults to pursue it, including extrajudicial assassinations, torture, and indiscriminate bombing of Afghan communities without regard for civilian lives;
-- expanded the war into Pakistan and now to Yemen;
-- is militarizing Latin America using Colombia and the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curazao to fly unmanned surveillance/attack drones over Venezuela and perhaps elsewhere in the region;
-- plans to use Colombian insurgents to commit "false positive" border incidents blaming Venezuela as a pretext for a retaliatory attack, supported, of course, by Washington as a way to target and perhaps remove Hugo Chavez;
-- failed to subvert Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's reelection; continues destabilization tactics for regime change; and may, preemptively without cause, attack Iran's nuclear facilities;
-- ousted the democratically elected Honduran president, installing a fascist regime to replace him;
-- supports the worst of Israeli war crimes and oppression against Palestinians;
-- governs America under police state laws to resist unrest if it arises in the wake of outlandish administration policies; and according to some
-- plans a major false flag US attack to enlist popular support, divert attention from the deepening economic crisis, and provide a pretext for new fronts in the "war on terror" with unlimited funding to pursue them at the expense of neglected homeland needs.
Journalist Patrick Cockburn calls Yemen:
"a dangerous place. Wonderfully beautiful, the mountainous north of the country is guerrilla paradise. The Yemenis are exceptionally hospitable....humorous, sociable and democratic, infinitely preferable as company to the arrogant ignorant playboys of the (rich regional) oil states."
Sana'a is the capital, home to the central government and largest city, an ancient one dating back to the 6th century BC Sabaean dynasty. However, it's power is limited, given the strength of tribes, clans, and influential families in a society very much a gun culture and prone to direct action.
On average, Yemenis own three guns per person in a nation of 21 million people, including one or more automatic weapons, like an AK-47 as well as heavier arms. Yemeni Professor Ahmed al-Kibsi once told a British reporter: "Just as you have your tie, the Yemeni will carry his gun," and isn't at all shy about using it.
As a result, Cockburn says "Yemen has all the explosive ingredients of Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan," so entanglement there may become another quagmire, besides the others in the region already. "It is extraordinary to see the US begin to make the same mistakes in Yemen as it previously made in Afghanistan and Iraq" - overextending and getting too involved to exit.
William Hartung, Arms and Security Initiative director at the New York-based New America Foundation, calls the Yemeni government one of the most unstable in the world, so weapons, training, and direct intervention may backfire if an anti-Washington regime replaces it.
Cockburn says America doesn't "learn from past mistakes and instead....repeats them by fresh interventions in countries like Yemen." Perhaps not, however, since part of Washington's scheme is to keep fighting, divert people from more pressing issues at home, and enrich thousands of war profiteers with public money, leaving future generations with the bill.
The UN says poverty in Yemen is widespread with about 45% of the population living on less than two dollars a day. The New York Times calls Yemen one of the world's oldest civilizations and poorest Middle East country (ignoring Occupied Palestine), "as well as a haven for Islamic jihadists:" to wit, the ubiquitous Al Qaeda, a 1980s CIA creation always trotted out whenever "war on terror" efforts need stoking and a convenient enemy to be blamed.
According to The Times:
"Yemen gained new attention in 2009 from American military officials, who are concerned about Al Qaeda's efforts to set up a regional base there."
In December, US officials claimed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian citizen, traveled to Yemen, was trained by Al Qaeda, obtained explosive chemicals (PETN), and tried using them to blow up an Amsterdam-Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.
According to Webster Tarpley in a December 29 Russia Today interview, Abdulmutallab is a CIA "protected patsy (for the) provocation designed to facilitate US meddling in (Yemen's) civil war (pitting) the Saudi-backed central government against the Iranian-backed Shiite Houthi rebels," being bombed by US and Saudi air strikes.
He was denied a UK entrance visa, wasn't on a No Fly List, paid cash for a one-way ticket to Detroit, checked no luggage, had a US visa but no passport, and was helped on board by a "well-dressed Indian" to facilitate what appears to be a Washington false flag plot using Abdulmutallab as a convenient dupe.
The Wayne Madsen Report adds more calling the airliner incident a false flag operation "carried out by (the) intelligence tripartite grouping of CIA, Mossad, and India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW)." Earlier they "worked together along with former Afghan KHAD intelligence agents to assassinate former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto....to destabilize Pakistan" for planned balkanization, the same scheme planned for Afghanistan.
Madsen added that Abdulmutallab's PETN "was weak (exploding like a fire cracker), technically deficient (and failed to go off properly)."
What's at stake? At most, Yemen has four billion proved barrels of oil reserves and modest amounts of natural gas, hardly a reason for war. More important is its strategic location near the Horn of Africa on Saudi Arabia's southern border, the Red Sea, its Bab el- Mandeb strait (a key chokepoint separating Yemen from Eritrea through which three million barrels of oil pass daily), and the Gulf of Aden connection to the Indian Ocean.
Tarpley believes Washington is:
"play(ing) Iran against Saudi Arabia so as to weaken both the pro-Moscow Ahmadinejad government in Iran, and also those Saudi forces that are fed up with their status as a US protectorate. The US is openly now sponsoring a regroupment of Al Qaeda in Yemen, including by sending fighters direct from Guantanamo. The new CIA-promoted synthetic entity is Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsule (AQAP), a gaggle of US patsies, dupes, and fanatics which is claiming credit for the (Abdulmutallab) incident."
Washington's usual tactics are at work:
-- create a false flag incident;
-- heighten fear through the complicit media;
-- ride to the rescue with popular support;
-- keep oil prices high;
-- boost market opportunities for security equipment manufacturers;
-- weaken civil liberties through new police state measures;
-- erode Iranian and Russian influence; and
-- gain greater control over the region's southern portion, the entire Middle East and all of Eurasia.
Coming next may be another enlisted or unwitting stooge to take down an airliner, blame it on Iran, Yemeni rebels, or Al Qaeda and provide an excuse for greater intervention, mass slaughter and destruction in another country, then on to the next one as part of an offensive to expand regional war and destabilization toward the ultimate goal of global "full spectrum dominance.
At Washington's behest, the Saudis began bombing and using tanks against Yemen in early November. So far, hundreds have been killed or wounded and thousands displaced. In addition, a rebel group called the Young Believers claims US jets launched multiple attacks in Yemen's northwest Sa'ada Province. Britain's Daily Telegraph also reports that US Special Forces (meaning death squads like in Afghanistan) are training Yemen's army, and likely operating covertly on their own.
On December 29, Iran accused Washington, the UK, and other western countries of fomenting the week's anti-government protests. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Hahmanparast claimed a complicit minority in the country was involved with outside support, saying:
"This is intervention in our internal affairs. We strongly condemn it," after president Obama praised "the courage and the conviction of the Iranian people (and condemned the government's) iron fist of brutality."
Iranians have long memories of US meddling. In 1953, CIA operative Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin's cousin, engineered a successful coup ousting democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq (the country's most popular politician) after he nationalized the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company following a dispute about revenue sharing. Now it's all about terrorism, Islamic extremists, and the ubiquitous Al Qaeda as convenient excuses Washington uses to threaten or attack anywhere.
It's no wonder that legitimate commentaries accuse America of fanning the flames of war with rhetoric, new troop deployments to Afghanistan, and General McChrystal naming the country's major insurgent group threats as the Qjetta Shura Taliban, the Haqqani Network (closely aligned with the Taliban), and the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG, linked to Afghanistan's Hezbi Islami Party) - the latter two former CIA assets in the 1980s, and the Taliban an ally before 9/11.
They're now claimed to be active in Pakistan and mortal enemies in America's "war on terror," about to consume Yemen in Washington's fury, helped by headlines like the December 29 Times Online saying:
"Hundreds of al-Qaeda militants planning attacks from Yemen," according to its Foreign Minister, Abu Bakr al-Qirbi, appealing for help to equip counterinsurgency forces.
"Of course there are....al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen and some of their leaders," he said. "We realize the danger. They may actually plan attacks like the one we have just had in Detroit."
On December 30, The New York Times published a Reuters report headlining, "US Seeks to Boost Yemen For Expanded Al Qaeda Fight," saying America plans:
"to expand military and intelligence cooperation with the government of Yemen to step up a crackdown on al Qaeda militants believed to be behind a failed plot to blow up a US passenger jet," according to unnamed US officials.
President Obama vowed "to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle, and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us - whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the US homeland."
Without elaborating, Pentagon spokesperson Bryan Whitman said "We are going to work with allies and partners to seek out terrorist activity, al Qaeda....This is not new."
Increased US-Saudi attacks and military aid are part of the effort - up from $4.6 million in FY 2006 to $67 million in FY 2009, and according to the Wall Street Journal, citing an unnamed senior Pentagon official, to as much as $190 million in FY 2010. Included also are unknown black budget amounts, greater numbers of US Special Forces on the ground for training and covert death squad activities, and stepped up air attacks.
Whitman explained that Yemen is now America's second largest recipient of overt counterterrorism aid, after Pakistan, a sign of the area's importance to Washington. US Special Forces operated there in 2002, and according to The New York Times, the CIA sent in many counterterrorism operatives in 2008 along with other US forces for overt and covert purposes.
Reports in the US and foreign media suggest larger scale US-backed Yemeni attacks are imminent, and according to CNN, citing two unnamed senior US officials:
"The US and Yemen are now looking at fresh targets for a potential retaliation strike. The effort is to see whether targets can be specifically linked to the airline incident and its planning....the agreement would allow the US to fly cruise missiles, fighter jets or unmanned armed drones against targets in Yemen with the consent of that government," that's, of course, gotten and will proceed with or without it.
Inflammatory US media reports and commentaries now promote war by portraying Yemen as a hotbed of terrorism, citing ubiquitous Al Qaeda forces creating chaos throughout the country, and saying unless America acts, conditions will worsen and spread.
According to The New York Times on December 27:
Washington "has quietly opened (a) largely covert front against Al Qaeda in Yemen," using CIA operatives and Special Operations commandos, according to an unnamed Agency official. Writers Eric Schmitt and Robert Worth call the country:
"a refuge for jihadists, in part because (the) government welcomed returning Islamist fighters who had fought in Afghanistan during the 1980s. (These) militants have made much more focused efforts to build a base in Yemen in recent years, drawing recruits from throughout the region and mounting attacks more frequently on foreign embassies and other targets."
Washington has close relations with Field Marshall Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's ruling despot. From 1978 - 1990, he was president of the Yemen Arab Republic, and since then headed the united Republic of Yemen. During the Cold War, America backed the Islamist regime in the North against southern secular nationalists aligned with the Soviets. In the country's 1994 civil war, former Yemeni Afghan fighters helped Saleh secure the power he still holds.
Washington recruited him for its expanded regional wars. They cause great loss of lives, wider instability, an unsustainable expense, and leave vital homeland needs unmet, but are a bonanza for the war profiteers fueling them and others to follow for a sure-fire stream of blood money.
Up the ante in Afghanistan and Pakistan, entanglement in Yemen, then perhaps confront Iran with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs saying on November 27:
"Our patience and that of the international community is limited, and time is running out. If Iran refuses to meet its obligations, then it will be responsible for its own growing isolation and consequences." Apparently a "package of consequences" are planned, according to another unnamed official.
Air attacks may be one of them with New York Times support. On January 10, chief diplomatic correspondent, David Sanger, reported on US - Israeli talks over the past year about possibly striking Iran's nuclear sites as well covert sabotage efforts "to undermine electrical systems, computer systems and other networks on which Iran relies."
Like Judith Miller's press agent role for the Pentagon in the run to the Iraq war, Sanger is a notorious Pentagon and State Department conduit, so his reports read more official propaganda than legitimate journalism - a longstanding Times pro-war, pro-business, anti-labor bias going back decades, and very evident now.
On December 23, The Times gave Alan Kuperman, Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program director at the University of Texas, op-ed space to headline, "There's Only One Way to Stop Iran," and he doesn't suggest diplomacy.
He says Obama should welcome Iran's rejection of his nuclear deal because it "did not require Iran to halt its enrichment program," even though it's in full compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) giving Washington and other nations no right to stop it.
Yet Kuperman insists Iran will likely divert its surplus higher-enriched fuel to weapons, and President Ahmadinejad "initially embraced the deal because he realized it aided Iran's bomb program."
However, "peaceful carrots and sticks cannot work, and an invasion would be foolhardy, (so Washington) faces a stark choice: military air strikes against Iran's nuclear facilities or acquiescence to Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons."
IAEA inspections show no proof of a secret nuclear weapons program, and former IAEA director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, said in February 2009 said "many other countries are enriching uranium without the world making any fuss about it."
Five days before he retired on November 27, he told Reuters:
"We have no indication that there are other undeclared facilities in Iran. I want to be very clear about that." He also urged patience because Iran posed no imminent threat, and said "people should stop threatening the use of force because that simply....creates a justification or pretext for countries....to go underground because (they're) threatened."
He stressed that the IAEA found no evidence that Iranians had technology needed to assemble a nuclear warhead or that they're even trying.
Kuperman isn't convinced and accuses Iran of "suppl(ying) terrorist groups in violation of international embargoes. (So, if it) acquire(s) a nuclear arsenal, the risks would simply to too great that it could become a neighborhood bully or provide terrorists with the ultimate weapon, an atomic bomb."
Never mind that America's 2002 and 2006 National Security Strategy (NSS) and 2001 Nuclear Policy Review authorize the development of new type nuclear weapons, and the right to use them in first-strike preventive wars under the doctrine of "anticipatory self-defense."
Iran threatens no one, but Kuperman recommends military strikes anyway, regardless of the law, whether they'll succeed, and no matter the potentially horrific consequences, including inflaming the whole region, disrupting oil supplies, harming world economies when they're most vulnerable, and making America more hated than ever.
Still he says:
"Postponing military action merely provides Iran a window to expand, disperse and harden its nuclear facilities against attack. The sooner the United States takes action, the better."
In other words, two fronts aren't enough so add Yemen. Then make it a foursome with Iran, the sooner America does it the better, and The New York Times promotes this view after expressing caution in its January 3 editorial headlined, "No delusion of bombing Iran" and saying:
"Fortunately, President-elect Barack Obama says his approach to Iran will include 'a new emphasis on respect and a new emphasis on being willing to talk....' "
This approach "may or may not work," says The Times. "But it is a road that (should be tried and) should have been taken years ago."
Not now apparently or earlier, in fact, as Times writers play an indispensable role feeding misinformation to the world and supporting imperial wars with the rest of the dominant media. They'll have plenty to say as a new Yemen front unfolds and maybe an Iran one to follow.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.