Reprinted from Strategic Culture Foundation
Yemen's army has launched a major offensive against al-Qaeda strongholds in the country
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Significantly, Yemeni sources report that alongside the fallen troops from the Gulf states are allied mercenaries belonging to Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militia. The mercenaries are believed to have been infiltrated into Yemen after receiving training set up in Saudi Arabia.
Given that the United States and Britain are openly supplying the Saudi-led Gulf coalition with fighter jets, bombs and logistics, the array of forces makes for a stark conclusion: the Western states are working in Yemen in direct alliance with jihadist mercenaries. Why this alarming reality is not more readily recognized is simply because Western news media are obfuscating the situation in Yemen.
Yemen can therefore be seen as illustrating the fullest expression yet of the covert relation between Washington and its Western allies and the proxy role of Islamist terror groups.
In the overthrow of the Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi at the end of 2011, the US and other NATO powers provided the air force that assisted the jihadist groups on the ground. In the ongoing regime-change war in Syria, the Western powers and their regional allies have funnelled Islamist mercenaries into that country to destabilise the government of President Bashar Al Assad.
In both cases, Libya and Syria, the Western nexus with the jihadists is vicarious and diffuse, allowing for a degree of official denial of any such collusion.
However, what is emerging in Yemen is that the Western states and their Arab client regimes are openly being seen as on the side of the Al Qaeda-linked terror network.
The US, Britain and to lesser extent France claim that they are supporting the "internationally recognized government of Yemen." They are referring to the deposed puppet-president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi who fled in exile to Saudi Arabia earlier this year. The country was subsequently over-run by remnants of the Yemeni army and Houthi rebels, collectively known as "Popular Committees."
On March 26, a coalition of Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, and including Egypt, Jordan and the four Persian Gulf monarchies of Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and United Arab Emirates, launched an aerial bombardment campaign on Yemen. That bombardment has continued for nearly six months, resulting in over 5,000 deaths. The bombing coalition is instrumented primarily by the US and Britain, with the supply of F15, F16, Tornado and Typhoon warplanes.
In recent weeks, the Western, Saudi-led coalition has extended its operations with a ground-war front, involving up to 10,000 foreign troops based in the central Yemeni province of Marib, east of the rebel-held capital, Sanaa. The mainly Arab foreign troops have been suffering heavy losses from the Yemeni Popular Committees. Up to 45 Emirati soldiers and five Bahraini military personnel were killed in one rocket attack earlier this month.
The Western media have barely reported on the escalating violence in Yemen and the involvement of their governments alongside Saudi and other Arab forces in an increasingly bloody war of dubious legality against a sovereign country. The Western-backed coalition does not have a UN Security Council mandate for its actions, which therefore constitute foreign aggression.
Virtually blacked out too, from the Western media coverage is the fact that serving alongside the Western, Saudi-led forces are jihadist mercenaries. This aspect has, however, been reliably reported by Saba news agency, Al Manar and Press TV, among others.
Occasional Western media reports claim that Islamist extremists are gaining ground in Yemen amid the chaos of Western-backed Arab coalition forces fighting against Houthi rebels. A New York Times report in April headlined: "War In Yemen Is Allowing Qaeda Group To Expand." While the Reuters news agency reported at the end of June that: "In Yemen chaos, Islamic State grows to rival al Qaeda."
However, rather than this development being a mere accidental consequence, Yemeni sources claim a very different scenario. They say that the Islamist groups are being activated and supplied by the Western-backed Saudi coalition to help prosecute the counterinsurgency war against the rebels. The rebel Popular Committees are calling for a pluralist democratic government in Yemen, which would mark a dramatic change from decades of Western and Saudi-backed dictatorships in the country.
Western media reports have obliquely acknowledged at least a tacit relationship between the Western-backed coalition and the jihadist mercenaries. Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have noted how during the past six months the Western-assisted bombing coalition has not once targeted Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) or the Islamic State (IS) group.