The US and Yemen: Protecting US Interests

Last week, we were told that both the US and the UK were closing their embassies and advising non-essential citizens to leave Yemen. Many reports are being released on the Al-Queda connection and Yemen.

Germany and France joined in the fun.  Closed their embassies and non-essential were staff flown home. Did somebody rattle their cage that bad, or are they just preparing for the next episode in the international soap called “War on Terrorism”?

There are also a few all too familiar patterns in the history of Yemen.  Strong support for Iraq in the Iraq-Iran gulf war (which did not sit well with Saudi amongst others), IMF program, officially called the PRGF (poverty reduction and growth facilty) aimed at privatizations, increased taxes, mass lay-offs etc. gone wrong and IMF pulling out, vast oil reserves (an estimated 4 billion barrels of oil), strategic position at the eastern end of the Red Sea (and thus the Suez canal), immediately across the water from those pesky Somali “Pirates”, on the doorstep of the Strait of Hormuz, vital for Iran’s oil exports, not to mention that a “friendly” regime would allow Saudi to bypass the potential threat to its oil exports from Iranian domination of the Strait of Hormuz. etc.   How long before we are told that Yemen has weapons of mass destruction?

The Americans did a study in 2012, estimating the oil reserves in Yemen to be 3 billion barrels. Other studies indicate at least 4 billion, some even higher, not to mention natural gas.Their oil is indeed under the Yemeni sand, and like elsewhere, they will go for it given half a chance. Even if they have to create that chance out of nowhere……D=3&SubID=6796

There have been recent talks about US companies taking an interest in the oil reserves in Yemen but also Shell.…D=3&SubID=6796

Yemen Minister of Oil and Minerals Ahmed Dares met on Wednesday in Houston (Texas U.S.A) with Shell Vice-President for business development, Andy Caltiz to discuss future collaboration.

All in all, in the last 10 days US drones killed over 20 people. Surely, that’s no reason to get cheesed off with the Americans, is it?

The US is reported to be preparing special operations forces for possible strikes against al-Qaeda in Yemen.

BBC news at noon

I wonder, is CNN on the ground to provide live entertainment?

Despite the American sponsored and backed Yemen National Dialogue declaring drones and the use of them illegal in Yemen, one of them killed another load of people today (7th August). Reports speak of 2 cars in the middle of nowhere being blown up by rockets fired from the drone.

Witnesses and local officials in the province of Shabwah said the drone fired at least six missiles at two vehicles in a remote area about 70km north of the provincial capital, Ataq. Both vehicles were destroyed.

“Eye Witnesses” (they do come in handy in the middle of the Yemeni desert) also very conveniently confirmed that some of the charred remains definitely belonged to an Al Queda fighter. So reason enough to hail this is yet another victory in the war against terrorism, but of course no mention that Yemen is the poorest of poor countries in the area, and that any argument with authority may have a lot more to do with the poverty maintained amongst the vast majority of the population, despite the oil and gas dollars rolling in. Instead, anybody who disagrees with the powers that be is accused of acting for personal gain and in order to blackmail the government into freeing jailed relatives…

So far, (in the last ten days) about 29 suspected militants have been killed by unmanned U.S. aircraft

(my emphasis)

What happened to innocent until proven guilty?    Yemeni authorities have offered a five million Yemeni riyals bounty for information leading to the capture of “militants”. I suppose just killing people on sight and declaring them “militants” is one way of bringing down the bill for all the military hardware the US has flogged to them? Just knock the $23K of the bill, is it? Oil and gas would of course be the main currency to pay for the toys, no?

In fact, the actions are, as agreed by the US themselves, very much so illegitimate. The Yemen National Dialogue, recognized by the US, has unanimously declared the whole drone program illegal and ordered it to stop immediately. But the US once again chooses to take or leave as it sees fit, rather than obeying the real legitimate, US recognized bodies in the country itself. Can’t both have your cake and eat it, no matter how hard you try….

People might say that we should rely on the “facts” put out by the US government.  Pity that didn’t apply to the “weapons of mass destruction” scam, it could have saved a lot of innocent lives then, and many more to come, for the whole current mess in the region is a direct result of that “fact”…

I have personal, first hand experience with US foreign policy when it comes to “protecting their interests”. 9 years of it (1981-1988), capped by the downing of flight IR655  by USS Vincennes in July 1988. As a result of that war crime in the Strait of Hormuz, (the crew on USS Vincennes were the only ones of all the many ships and aircraft in the area who very conveniently didn’t hear the broadcast from Bandar Abbas air traffic control) me and my crew spent days fishing bits and pieces of human bodies out of the Strait. Not something I’ll forget in a hurry, and not an experience that will allow me to start trusting US policies. Any country that thinks it has the right to interfere in the politics or economy of another country is, simply by claiming that right, wrong from the outset. No matter what facts (“our interest”) they fabricate.

Everybody is indeed entitled to their own opinion, but nobody, not even the US, is entitled to force their opinion on others, be it by fabricating facts or creating scenarios to manipulate opinion and justify the unjustifiable. When I read/see/hear American foreign policy, I know, from experience, that I’m looking at a pack of lies. And with all that, I do of course not even mention the US support and subsequent tolerance of the Greek Junta, just because it suited them…

It doesn’t justify going blowing up marathon runners in Boston or other crimes like that, far from it. The US foreign policies do however create a very fertile recruiting ground for recruiting the nutters who will do stuff like the Boston bombing. The US policies provide them with the reason, that is a fact, the only fact.

Nothing illustrates the wrong-headedness of the US’ drone programme better than the story of Jaber Salim, a Yemeni scholar known for denouncing al-Qaeda. Jaber’s family always worried he would be targeted by militants, in revenge for his strong denunciations of their actions. But in the end it was a US drone strike in Hadramout last August which ended his life. Jaber was a natural ally for the US in Yemen – yet as a result of the drone programme, he is instead being used as a recruitment tool for extremists.

This is only one of the many examples of how US foreign policy is the maker of its own problems. Flight IR655 is another one. If you want to know why Iranians dig their heels in when it comes to not standing to attention when Uncle Sam says so (How dare they!), there is one of many very good reasons. The SAVAK is another one, as is Saddam Hussein, once a very important American puppet. The Americans may have forgotten because it ain’t on TV any longer, the Iranians haven’t forgotten. A few million deaths later, it’s etched in their memory for ever. That is the difference. Same with the Iraqi’s, Afghani’s, Yemeni’s, and every body else who has been/is being pushed around by US foreign policy.

It would be a very good thing if the American people would simply start thinking a little about things instead of watching the sound and light shows over Bagdad and Tripoli on CNN (in between the important bits like Sex in the City, Oprah and Dr Phil of course), and instead ask a very simple question: “What if somebody did this to us, what would I do?”. The answer to that is enough reason to revise the policy, or should be.

In a nutshell, the problem is that US foreign polices look at what they can do others for, rather than what they can do for others. Modern day history gives many, many instances of this, backed up by many, many deaths… The problem is that the US government consistently invests in governments instead of in people. Governments change as soon as the next psychopath sees his/her chance, or the current psychopath steps out of US dictated line (ie. Saleh in Yemen, or Saddam Hussein in Iraq for that matter). People however evolve. How they evolve depends very much so on how they are treated. And that is where the whole thing miserably fails, time and time again, because they get treated like disposables, in the furtherance of short-term power instead of vital components of a long term, sustainable future for all, including the US..

I will repeat it again, if a fraction of the money invested by the US in propping up corrupt puppet governments with military hardware and military personnel (in return for the protection of “US interests”) would have been spent on people instead of psychopaths, millions of people would not have needlessly died or be living in poverty and fear of their lives. Some of it could, God forbid even have been spent at home, on disadvantaged US citizens.
Governments come and go (or get pushed), headlines are past tense the moment they are printed, but people have very long memories, especially when it comes to remembering those who threat them like crap. Put somebody with such memories with his/her back against the wall, as is happening in the Yemen and elsewhere, and you simply don’t know what will happen next. What you can bet on is that whatever it is, it will not be nice… 9/11 springs to mind.
Like everybody else, the US government must learn that they are not just responsible for their immediate actions, they are also responsible for the consequences of those actions. Unfortunately, those consequences usually mean lots of dead people, including lots of Americans. The continuing short-sightedness that continues to rule foreign policies is mind-boggling.

 “nearly $600 million to Yemen for everything from spy drones to opinion polls to pickup trucks as part of a shadow war to fight terrorism”

Meanwhile, 600 million later, somebody is wondering why it hasn’t paid off. Here’s why.
600 million dollars would have build an awful lot of schools, trained a lot of badly needed teachers, health care professionals, and other very much needed skills which are always sadly lacking in impoverished communities. Instead of threatening the people of Yemen with 600 million worth of military hardware in the hands of a psychotic leader(at what profit to the death merchants back home?), the US could have given the people of Yemen 600 million worth of hope and a possible future to look forward to. But then, such an action would of course deny the US military a testing ground for their new toys, and deny the US politicians back home good looking headlines. After all, who wants to know how many hundreds of adults and children in Yemen were taught to read and write if we can tell them that we again killed 6 “terrorists” today, and publish the gory pictures to go with it?

Nothing has changed, and nothing will, until the US government stops backing every psychopath in the world who steals from his own people and is found prepared to hand the loot over to the US. Be it oil, gas, diamonds, gold, or simply a free training ground with live targets for the next generation of killing machines…

Ephilant   8 August 2013

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