July 27, 2011

U.S. Launches New EU Strike on Yemen

On Monday the Obama administration released the first of two statements denouncing the crackdown on Syria’s revolution. First Victoria Nuland, a spokeswoman in the State Department, condemned, “the ongoing violence in Syria, particularly the brutality practiced by the Syrian Government against its own citizens.” Her remarks would rebound at Tuesday’s Open Security Council Debate on the Situation in the Middle East, where Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo singled out Israel, Lebanon and Syria in addressing the council.

“Mr. President, let me say a few words about the ongoing crisis in Syria,” the U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative segued her testimony. “The world has been inspired by the courage of the peaceful protestors who have taken to the streets across the country to demand their universal rights. The regime has responded with violence, brutality, and mass arrests.”

Many other areas warrant coverage but somehow only Israeli interests made it into her remarks. Two for Syria, none for Egypt, Bahrain or Yemen, revolutions that apparently don’t inspired the world.

Taking full advantage of the 2-10% of Americans paying “serious attention” to Yemen - and 3% news coverage - the Obama administration continues to deploy Europeans to mop up a toxic spill of U.S. foreign policy. Nearly two weeks of transitional councils and government violence (committed by U.S.-trained forces wielding U.S. equipment) have elapsed without a single response from the White House. We covered the British and German strikes last week, before the UN unloaded over the weekend. Now UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has been sent back into the fray after several weeks of R&R, a cycle that mimics troop rotations on the front-lines.

Echoing Britain's fresh support for the despised Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) “30/60” initiative, Ashton released a statement claiming, "The Yemeni people should not be the prey of political conflicts and humanitarian crises which have grave impacts at regional and international levels.”

This statement reeks of collusion - the hunter preying on its victim while simultaneously feigning concern. Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime isn’t solely responsible for Yemen’s political gridlock and humanitarian crises, nor is the revolution a mere “political crisis.” America, Europe, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia have all trapped Yemen’s revolutionaries between Saleh’s regime and the oppositional Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), primarily by supporting the GCC’s “power transfer” to the ruling General People’s Congress (GPC). Meeting with Yemeni Foreign Minister Abubakr al-Qirbi in Brussels, Ashton told him to “transmit” a message to Saleh that he must sign the GCC’s initiative, even clarifying that he would be given an additional 30 days to resign.

Hosting al-Qirbi on European turf further legitimized a “power transfer” run through Saleh’s regime.

In addition to low public awareness and the corresponding lack of pressure, the White House has grown increasingly afraid of pushing a futile agreement on Saleh. Yet instead of changing policy, Washington has contracted out doomed missions to the EU in advance (the secondary objective of blocking regime change is still being achieved). The day after Tuesday’s meeting, Ashton and al-Qirbi would quickly part ways as Yemen’s Foreign Minister responded with a message from Saleh.

"President Saleh made this very clear,” al-Qirbi told Reuters in an exclusive interview. “He repeatedly said he is ready to transfer power anytime, but through early elections, through the ballot box and by adhering to the constitution. Now the issue is for the ruling party and the opposition parties to agree on a date for early elections.”

In other words Saleh’s regime still agrees to the GCC’s initiative “in principle,” but wants more time to “address the mechanism.”

"This time schedule has proven to be difficult to implement,” al-Qirbi argued. “Elections cannot take place in 60 days. Therefore, if President Saleh resigns after 30 days and no election can take place in 60 days we will run into a constitutional vacuum in the country. The president is not scrapping the agreement. It is just the timetable for the implementation that need to be readdressed.”

Back in reality, an election mandated by the GPC and JMP would greatly obstruct the revolution, who in turn require months of independence to organize. Demanding an election under such conditions also implies a corrupt electoral process. An early election on the GPC and JMP’s terms would prove disastrous for the revolution, although the possibility of a boycott could negate this scheme. Nevertheless, that outcome would jam the revolution in perpetual stalemate rather than move it forward.

The Obama administration and European Union have no respect for Yemen’s revolutionaries. At the geopolitical level, Syria’s revolutionaries have been embraced while Yemen’s peaceful uprising has been quarantined. At the street level, the same brutalities committed by Syrian forces pass under Western silence. On Wednesday “security forces and loyalists with sticks attacked a group of female protesters as they rallied in front of the U.S. Embassy in Sana'a.” Did Washington “condemn” this assault? No, the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a “regretted” it.

Just like Washington will eventually regret alienating the entire Yemeni populace as it tries to open its front against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

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