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Yemen: Pentagon's War On The Arabian Peninsula

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opednews.com Headlined to None 12/20/09

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Yemen: Pentagon's War On The Arabian Peninsula
Rick Rozoff

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Yemen will become a battleground for a proxy war between the United States and Saudi Arabia - whose state-to-state relations are among the strongest and most durable of the entire post-World War II era - on one hand and Iran on the other.

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It is perhaps impossible to determine the exact moment at which a U.S.- supported self-professed holy warrior - trained to perpetrate acts of urban terrorism and to shoot down civilian airliners - ceases to be a freedom fighter and becomes a terrorist. But a safe assumption is that it occurs when he is no longer of use to Washington. A terrorist who serves American interests is a freedom fighter; a freedom fighter who doesn't is a terrorist.

Yemenis are the latest to learn the Pentagon's and the White House's law of the jungle. Along with Iraq and Afghanistan which counterinsurgency specialist Stanley McChrystal used to perfect his techniques, Yemen is joining the ranks of other nations where the Pentagon is engaged in that variety of warfare, fraught with civilian massacres and other forms of so-called collateral damage: Colombia, Mali, Pakistan, the Philippines, Somalia and Uganda.
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BBC News reported on December 14 that 70 civilians were killed when aircraft bombed a market in the village of Bani Maan in northern Yemen.

The nation's armed forces claimed responsibility for the deadly attack, but a website of the Houthi rebels against whom the bombing was ostensibly directed stated "Saudi aircraft committed a massacre against the innocent residents of Bani Maan." [1]

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The Saudi regime entered the armed conflict between the (eponymous) Houthis and the Yemeni government on behalf of the latter in early November and since has been accused of launching attacks inside Yemen with tanks and warplanes. Even before the latest bombing scores of Yemenis have been killed and thousands displaced by the fighting. Saudi Arabia has also been accused of using phosphorous bombs.

Moreover, the rebel group known as Young Believers, based in the Shi'ite Muslim community of Yemen which comprises 30 percent of the country's population of 23 million, claimed on December 14 that "US fighter jets have attacked Yemen's Sa'ada Province" and "US fighter jets have launched 28 attacks on the northwestern province of Sa'ada." [2]

The previous day's edition of Britain's Daily Telegraph reported on discussions with U.S. military officials, stating "Fearful that Yemen is in danger of becoming a failed state, America has now sent a small number of special forces teams to improve training of Yemen's army in reaction to the threat."

One unnamed Pentagon official was quoted as saying "Yemen is becoming a reserve base for al-Qaeda's activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan." [3]

The conjuring up of the al-Qaeda bogey, however, is a decoy. The rebels in the north of the nation are Shi'ites and not Sunnis, much less Wahhabi Sunnis of the Saudi variety, and as such are not only not linked with any group of groups that could be categorized as al-Qaeda, but instead would be a likely target thereof.

In service to American designs in the region, the British and American press lately has been referring to Yemen as the "ancestral homeland" of Osama bin Laden. Bin Laden comes from a prominent billionaire Saudi Arabian family, of course, but as his father had been born in what is now the Republic of Yemen over a century ago the Western media are exploiting an insignificant historical accident to suggest Osama bin Laden's active role in the nation and to establish a tenuous link between the South Asian war in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Saudi and American armed intervention in a civil conflict in Yemen.

In 2002 the Pentagon dispatched an estimated 100 soldiers, by some accounts Green Beret special forces, to Yemen to train the country's military. In that instance, coming as it did two years after the suicide bombing attack against the Navy destroyer USS Cole in the southern Yemeni port of Aden, attributed to al-Qaeda, and accompanied by drone missile attacks against identified leaders of the same, Washington justified its actions as retaliation for that incident as well as the attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C. the year before.

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The present context is different and a U.S.-backed counterinsurgency war in Yemen will have nothing to do with combating alleged al-Qaeda threats, but will in fact be an integral part of the strategy to expand the Afghan war into yet wider concentric circles taking in South and Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia and the Gulf of Aden, the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The eagerly awaited departure of President George W. Bush may have led to the end of the official global war on terror, now referred to as overseas contingencies operations, but nothing except the name has changed.

On December 13 the top commander of the Pentagon's Central Command in charge of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, General David Petraeus, told the Al Arabiya television network that "that U.S supports Yemen's security in the context of the military cooperation provided by America for its allies in the region" and "stressed that U.S. ships in the territorial waters of Yemen [are there] not only to control but to impede the infiltrations of weapons to Houthi rebels." [4]

To be recalled the next time the al-Qaeda/bin Laden canard is used to justify expanding U.S. military involvement on the Arabian Peninsula.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/

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