May 31, 2011
U.S. Blind, Deaf to Yemen’s Revolution
Not even a manufactured civil war, stimulated al-Qaeda takeover of a city, and repeated massacres on peaceful protesters can wake the Obama administration from its slumber. On Memorial Monday, an off-day for media briefings, the U.S. Embassy “condemned” the “unjust attack on peaceful protesters in Taiz.”
Except, “We reiterate President Obama's recent call for President Saleh ‘to move immediately on his commitment to transfer power,’ and we emphasize that the way forward is not through violence. Parties must work together with one another and with the youth, who are the future of Yemen, to build a more peaceful, prosperous and secure nation.”
Apparently Saleh’s “commitment” still stands after massacring the Yemeni people - and the youth are still supposed to work with his ruling party!
As his assault on protesters continued overnight and the brutality began to stack up - upwards of 50 dead in Taiz, some of them burnt alive - the White House escaped comment on Tuesday. Dirty work was pushed into the State Department, however this machine has also jammed. Spokesman Mark Toner disturbingly remarked, “I think there was violence over the weekend in Ta’izz, and we condemn those indiscriminate attacks by Yemeni security forces.” His idea of a “path forward” requires Saleh to “live up to commitments he’s made to accept the GCC’s agreement...”
The administration’s decoy is then asked, “That means you’re asking him to leave power, to leave Yemen?”
“He’s made the commitment to sign this agreement for a transition to take place and a transfer – a democratic transition, rather, to take place,” Toner replies. “He needs to simply, as I said, live up to the commitments that he’s said publicly he would do.”
This commitment, in reality, is a myth perpetuated by Saleh and his political supporters. U.S. officials acknowledge his duplicity to save themselves from total embarrassment, then appeal to his “honest” side out of their own dishonesty. Saleh is actively trying to start a civil war to fracture the peaceful revolution, yet the Obama administration still clings to his “commitment to transfer power” and boasts of such a position on the U.S. Embassy site. This script should have been burned weeks ago.
To repeat now after last week’s chaos has greatly offended Yemen’s pro-democracy protesters.
Yemen as a whole represents a dark era in U.S. foreign policy, and massacres are being committed in silence by a U.S.-supported ally. The Obama administration is acting as though it doesn’t hear the protesters’ cries, who in turn cannot understand America and the international community’s silence. Unfortunately the more likely scenario is worse - the West is ignoring them - and many popular coalitions including The Coordinating Council of the Youth Revolution of Change CCYRC have expressed shock at the mute reaction to Taiz.
“It's a real shame, while Yemen has been crying loud to the world, we see no actions whatsoever from the international community, Yemen partners, UN Security Council or the League of Arab States, and sadly the neighboring GCC countries,” CCYRC said on Tuesday. “The abandonment of the Yemeni people by the international community is disgrace to global world peace.”
By once again backing the GCC’s proposal, the Obama administration has further trapped itself in Saleh’s collapsing regime. Far from “backing away from him” as so many U.S. media outlets report, the White House continues to hold Saleh’s hand by offering a 30-day transition and immunity. Signing the GCC’s proposal will contribute to Yemen’s instability and suffocate the revolution’s demands. The GCC itself has declared the deal dead, as have the oppositional Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) in response to the youth’s pressure. Saleh hasn’t even agreed in the past, instead using party officials as a stalling tactic.
That leaves Washington and Riyadh as the only supporters of their own proposal, more an endless circle than a path forward. Relative to Saleh's hardening position, the Obama administration has actually softened on the besieged ruler.
To be fair the rest of the international community continues to sleep on Yemen as well. With Saudi Arabia failing to act on its “pressure” and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) awaiting orders from the West, the EU isn’t making up for a loss of reason. High Representative Catherine Ashton repeated Washington’s memo on Tuesday by continuing to support a dead proposal from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
'I am shocked and condemn in the strongest terms the use of force and live ammunition against peaceful protesters in the city of Taiz. Reports of attacks on medical facilities are appalling," she said before a session with between EU Foreign Ministers. 'The continued repression by the Yemeni regime and grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law cannot be accepted. Those responsible for such deeds must be held accountable.”
Ashton does request an independent commission from the UN Human Rights Council. However she also falls back on the old position: “I urge again President (Ali Abdullah) Saleh to address the legitimate demands of the Yemeni people regarding political transition, to refrain from violence and to end abuses of human rights... It is now time, without further pretexts, to sign and implement the GCC initiative on political transition.”
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights fell into the same trap.
"Such reprehensible acts of violence and indiscriminate attacks on unarmed civilians by armed security officers must stop immediately,” said Navi Pillay. "Further violence will only yield more insecurity and move the country further away from a resolution to this political crisis.”
Yemen isn’t undergoing a political crisis but a total revolution, a misunderstanding that was intentionally glossed over during negotiations with the GCC. Yet the U.S. above all has failed to lead. Being the world’s police has nothing to do with Yemen’s situation - America fed the monster in Saleh and is now trying to disown him while cleaning up the trail of U.S. collaboration.
That the Obama administration has yet to correct its errors generates a frightening amount of skepticism going forward. Yemen’s events are happening too fast for the administration to process, similar to a drunk driver. Saleh’s “commitment to peacefully transfer power” doesn’t exist, as admitted by U.S. statements deploring his violence assaults. To latch on and not let go suggests a deep fear of the unknown, contrary to President Obama’s fearless front during his “Moment of Opportunity.”
The White House has chosen security over democracy in Yemen, and nearly cost the country both. Fortunately the revolution will prove stronger in the end, but for now Washington has destabilized the very al-Qaeda safe haven it was trying to eliminate. This can be described as nothing other than failed counterinsurgency.
Now Saleh is manipulating AQAP in Yemen's south to "prove" his allegiance to the West. His ruse must be discounted at all costs; it is a hostile act against the Yemeni and American people. He is playing on both peoples’ fears to stave off elimination for another several months. More people will die so he can live another week or three. His end is the height of injustice, and he cannot be allowed to escape under U.S.-Saudi immunity.
Saleh has issued a number of threats throughout the week, so any U.S. statements are unlikely to get through. He’s barricaded himself in Sana’a and isn’t leaving. Abdu Ganadi, spokesperson for the Yemeni Govt said that protesters in Taiz kidnapped security forces and beat them. "We did not attack the Protesters. Reports are all exaggerated. Only two were killed," said Ganadi. "President Saleh is with the youth and their demands so he would never allow their killing."
Saleh doesn’t know the meaning of peace. He actively seeks to destabilize Yemen as much as possible, create as many grievances and distractions as possible. Divisive tactics are all he knows. However the lateness of the hour cannot stop Washington from choosing the revolution’s side.
It is the very reason to join before everyone’s worst fears become reality.