War on Terror in Yemen Collapses; Libya in Shambles
• Obama gets a surprise when anti-U.S. group orchestrates coup against Western puppet.
By Richard Walker —
In yet another sign President Barack Hussein Obama’s interventionist foreign policy in the Middle East is falling apart, his secret drone war against rebel fighters in Yemen is now in jeopardy after a surprise coup in late January threw out the entire pro-West government there.
Since 2011, Yemen has been at the epicenter of Washington’s sanctioned killing program, using drones and Special Forces teams operating out of bases in Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and Yemeni military bases. The aim has been to degrade a Yemeni militia known as AQAP, or al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
The American war in Yemen has been going on for nearly 12 years. When former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited the Lemonier base in Djibouti in 2002, he boasted it was an area where “there was a lot of action and we need to be where the action is.”
Washington’s increasing involvement in Yemen can be traced back to the Bush-Cheney era when it got into bed with Yemen’s corrupt leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had been in power since 1962. Saleh was forced out of power in 2013, but his control over the military remained. It is still a military backed by money and training from Washington, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Washington got involved in Yemen at the behest of the Saudis and the Israelis. Both nations had a vested interest in keeping the Saleh regime in place, even if it meant suppressing the rights of the country’s Shiites, who made up almost 40% of the population. The Israelis and Saudis made the case Yemen overlooked the narrowest part of the Red Sea where it entered the 20-mile waterway called the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, known in Arabic as the “Gate of Grief.”
It is through the Mandab that most Israeli imports and Saudi oil are transported.
Saudi Arabia had another agenda—a secret one. The Sunni Muslim leadership in Saudi Arabia has been suppressing Shiites in its territory and wanted its neighbor, Yemen, to do likewise. Yemen turned a blind eye when the Saudis sent forces into Yemen to kill Shiites. The move did not bother Washington or Israel, who saw the Shiites in Yemen as pro-Iranian and therefore enemies.
After the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Yemeni Shiites became anti-American and began agitating for more autonomy. Yemen’s military suppressed them and a decade later killed their leader, Hussein al-Houthi. After his assassination, they became known as the Houthis.
Today, the Houthis control large swaths of Yemen, including the capital. They forced Saleh out of power as well as his successor. The country is now leaderless, a fact that worries Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh.
Washington, however, still has influence within the Yemeni military, which has a poor human rights record. Yemen’s Special Forces have been trained by the U.S. Special Forces Command in camps in Saudi Arabia and nearby Djibouti.
The Houthis, while they are anti-Washington, have fought terrorists in Yemen and have expressed no desire to attack America or U.S. forces operating in Yemen and elsewhere in the region. While the Saudis and Israelis brand them as pawns of Iran, there is no proof that is the case. They are simply an offshoot of that brand of Islam.
However, if there is one country that could influence their thinking it is Iran, and Washington may have to go cap-in-hand to Tehran to seek its help in forming an alliance with the Houthis if the drone war against Arab revolutionaries across the Middle East is to continue, unhampered.
The other alternative is for Washington to conspire with the Saudis and Israelis to encourage the Yemeni military to seize power and suppress the Houthis. That would likely send the country into an even more deadly spiral.
Libya Still a Shambles After Four Years
By Richard Walker
Every several months, this newspaper likes to take a look at Libya to see whether America’s nation building is working. So far, the news has not been good. It’s been almost four years since the United States, England and France helped radical groups overthrow the Libyan government and assassinate its leader, Muammar Qadaffi, and to this day the north African country has been unable to establish a stable government and begin rebuilding the devastated country.
Ironically, in 2011, British Prime Minister David Cameron described Libya as a beacon of democracy just before it descended into complete chaos.
Those who have since fought to control the country have been militias armed by the West or by way of looting the country’s military arsenal.
The United Nations has been brokering a ceasefire between rival groups while trying to find a solution to Libya’s intractable issues. Meanwhile, the Libyan Army, run by former Qadaffi acolytes, recently admitted it was holding the money that had once been in the vaults of the central bank. No one is sure, however, what the army intends to do with the cash.
Nevertheless, it is not Libya’s conflict that has been attracting attention, but secret files of Qadaffi’s intelligence service looted during his overthrow in 2011. They ended up in the hands of London lawyers who have been studying them to make a case against the British government.
The files expose the duplicity and hypocrisy of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his dealings with Qadaffi, going back to 2007, a mere four years before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization decided to bomb Libya.
In a 2007 letter from the prime minister’s office at 10 Downing Street, Blair addressed Qadaffi as “Dear Muammar” and wished him and his family well. He had already welcomed him back into the international fold, thereby enabling British and U.S. oil corporations to negotiate big deals with Libya, including one for $15 billion.
The facts were staring the lawyers in the face when they examined the files. They found details about five British citizens and seven Libyans that British intelligence helped Qadaffi’s spies locate and torture. Blair even encouraged the British courts to approve the deportation of dissidents wanted by Libya.
The Saudis, whom Blair was close to, arrested Libyans and tortured them, too. In some instances, British intelligence agents were in Libya and Saudi Arabia during interrogations that led to torture.
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.