March 26, 2011

U.S. Sounds Terror Alarm in Yemen

For the third straight day, reports of Ali Abdullah Saleh’s willingness to resign have been contradicted by his own defiance. Yemen’s president wants to cede power, he claims, but “to whom, and how?” Apparently Saleh is growing particularly concerned with acquiring immunity from prosecution.

Maybe he should have worried about that before committing so many crimes against his own people.

Washington predictably continues to play along with Saleh’s stall tactics. State spokesman Mark Toner welcomed Saleh’s “dialogue” on Friday: “I think that he’s obviously reached out to the Yemeni people, but obviously, we’re also waiting for his – for further action on both sides. As I spoke about the other day, I think we’ve got to – that both sides, both the government and the demonstrators, need to come together and decide for the best way forward for Yemen.”

It’s always Yemen’s opposition that’s not doing enough, reaching out enough, etc.

Saleh reportedly met with opposition representatives on Saturday, including the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) and his former general turned protester, Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar. Neither represent the youth movement, which only sees them tools in their revolution. Both sides reportedly gave no ground either, yet the White House maintains its vain hope that people will trust him.

"We stand steadfast, firm as mountains, and will not be shaken by the events," Saleh told tribal chiefs on Saturday in a typical example of double-speak.

So ready is he to leave power that Saleh also warned, "The legitimate authority is firm and steadfast in [the] face of challenges, and we shall not allow a small minority to overcome the majority of the Yemeni people. Yemen is a ticking bomb and if the political system collapses and there's no constructive dialogue there will be a long civil war that will be difficult to end.”

And so willing is Washington to release him that it just issued a new terror threat. The timing of this “non-public warning” must be coincidental...
WASHINGTON — The Yemen-based branch of Al-Qaeda could be close to launching an attack, according to US spy agencies which said the group may be seeking to capitalize on unrest roiling the Middle Eastern country, The Washington Post said Saturday.

Citing unnamed US officials, the newspaper said agencies have gathered only "fragmentary information" on a possible plot from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and have yet to assemble detailed intelligence that would prompt a public warning or take to specific action to counter the threat.

"We're always at a very high level of alert and have been for some time with AQAP," an official told the Post. The intelligence however points to "more than that they are bent on attacking the West and continuing to plot," implying an operation beyond the planning phase, according to the official.

The rising threat comes as Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh hangs on to power amid months of street protests -- which have disrupted his counterterrorism operations -- and high-profile defections in the ranks of top military and tribal leaders just in the past two weeks.

Saleh, in power for more than 30 years, has been a key US ally in its fight against the active Al-Qaeda branch operating out of his country. The group last year launched a failed plot to dispatch parcel bombs on US-bound cargo planes.

National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told the Post in response to the recent intelligence the United States continues "to take very seriously the threat posed by AQAP... They are the most active (Al-Qaeda) franchise, and we are working diligently with our partners to disrupt their activities."

Alongside drone attacks targeting AQAP, the United States over the last 18 months has also dispatched "dozens" of CIA operatives and even Special Operations military troops to operate alongside Yemeni forces to counter and disrupt the group's operations, the Post said.
The Obama administration isn’t walking a “fine line,” or pursuing a “realistic” policy in Yemen. Support for Saleh in defiance of the Yemeni majority is destabilizing the country, not creating “order.” U.S. officials threaten that AQAP is expanding in the power vacuum, then continue to voice open support for Saleh’s version of a transition. U.S. policy in Yemen was not bigger than one man, but constructed entirely on a dictator. And U.S. military assistance has been repeatedly misappropriated against the Houthis and Southern Movement, two groups Saleh steadfastly hopes to freeze out.

Washington’s ongoing response in Yemen isn’t pragmatic as it yields neither short nor long term benefits. Only one realist policy exists, and that is support for a free and open society. Such an outcome isn’t possible if Saleh has anything to do with it.


  1. It's not unusual Islamists would be of service, to a regime like the one in Yemen. New documents uncovered by Egyptian revolutionaries, showed Mubarak forces being behind Islamist attacks on Christians. They fear revolution as much as the regimes.

  2. Islamists are going to have to evolve as much as anyone during the revolution, or become obsolete over time. Smart Islamists will be able to survive, others won't be so fortunate.