Tag Archives: yemen

Jeremy Scahill, the National Security correspondent for The Nation, has written a series of remarkable essays (here, here and here) on Yemen and U.S. counter-terrorism operations. Or rather as the series of articles detailing and documenting how the U.S. operations in Yemen are in fact promoting-terrorism.

There are some startling findings in these articles:

1. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Listed by Washington as the single most dangerous terrorist threat facing the United States is made up of no more than 700 militants in the south of Yemen. Scahill makes clear that this group is not a significant threat to the US. And  should not be provoking the hysteria in Washington or elsewhere. Indeed, journalist Casey Combs went and visited al-Qaeda in the south of Yemen and you can see his photo essay here.

2. Intelligence? U.S. intelligence agencies have very little intelligence, on Yemen. But this has not stopped them from planning direct and inderct attacks.

3. Blowback. Counter-terrorism operations have increased hatred against America and the threat that groups such as AQAP pose. Indiscriminate drone attacks and U.S. funding to the Yemeni military have incited tribal groups to join the cause of radical groups, such as AQAP.

4. Saleh. The former President of Yemen has played the U.S. again and again and again. The United States “should have never made counterterrorism a source of profit for the regime, because that increased terrorism,” an analyst told Scahill.

The key quote: “What was almost entirely undiscussed was whether US actions—the targeted killings, the Tomahawk and drone strikes—caused blowback and whether some of AQAP’s attacks were motivated by the undeclared war the United States was fighting in Yemen.”

The US army has changed its approach globally in its military occupations and operations around the world, recognising that governance is key to reducing terrorism. Hence, the contemporary nexus of development and security. However, in Yemen the US has continued to neglect Yemen’s civil society and development:  “focusing instead on a military strategy aimed at hunting down terrorists.”

Scahill has makes clear that targeted killings anything but a counter-terrorism strategy.


Yemeni fever is everywhere at the moment and while there is a lot of reactionary talk there is also a lot of great commentary being written so here is a short list of some of the stuff that I have recently come across:

Sean over at the Human Province has produced some great posts on Yemen lately (see here and here). He created a list of fantastic articles on Yemen ; I particularly recommend the articles by Fred Haliday who I am a huge fan of. The article that Sean links to is about his book Arabia Without Sultans that he wrote in the 70s and although not really about Yemen it is a article on the essential issues of the region. Haliday has written elsewhere specifically about Yemen: Yemen Travails of Unity. This is a fantastic article that he did in June 09 that pretty much predicts the fever pitch over Yemen that has occurred over the recent weeks:

Barack Obama – and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton – may at present think that they have no reason to think about Yemen. But it has held surprises before: for its Arab neighbours, for America, and for the world. It may well do again. Indeed, it has. Yemen is in trouble, and needs the world’s constructive and engaged attention as never before.

Marc Lynch has written a extensive piece on his blog warning the public  not to get too excited over Yemen. As he puts it:

Direct American military intervention in Yemen is so obviously ludicrous that it shouldn’t even need to be said.

Even the usual imperialist war mongers in the US are not beating the drum for war at the moment but it could of course start at any time. Lynch also has a series of great links in the article. In particular the horribly titled think tank The Centre for a New American Security (I cringe every time I say that title so writing it is painful!) has done an extensive briefing paper on Yemen that is worth a dip into but far to military heavy for my lefty heart. Lynch also links to Joost R. Hiltermann of the ICG who writes an interesting piece on Saudi’s war on Yemen. The best bit of the piece is the hip-hop inspired title “Disorder on the Border”! But Hiltermann also makes some beautiful rhetorical sweeps that get right to the heart of the problem:

The conflict can only be permanently solved by addressing the social, political, and religious grievances that motivate the rebels — not by defeating them on the battlefield. In fact, sending soldiers (whether they be Yemeni, Saudi, or even tribal) and opening a new front would likely further destabilize Yemen, causing chaos that would be costly for all: al Qaeda would find fertile ground, and hundreds of thousands of refugees would put pressure on the borders of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, risking a humanitarian disaster. Many Yemenis resent the Saudis, whom they often portray as opportunistic and corrupt, and the more Saudi support the Yemeni government receives, the more domestic legitimacy it loses. Foreign backing only makes Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Salih’s government appear more incapable of effectively ruling the country.