September 30, 2011

Al-Awlaki’s Poisonous Bait: Saleh “Proves” That America Needs Him

According to statements from Yemen’s Defense Ministry, the New Mexican-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed in a U.S air-strike on a suspected convoy. Anwar serves as a propaganda and operational planner inside al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and is one of America’s main targets in Yemen. AQAP’s presence has justified U.S. support for Ali Abdullah Saleh’s murderous regime, and his death would be a boost for these joint counterterrorism efforts.

So as the Western and Arab medias go haywire with this information and plaster it on their front pages, briefly consider a few recent events:
  • On May 6th, days after Saleh refused to sign the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) “power transfer” for a second time, reports surface that al-Awlaki has been targeted by U.S. assets and “nearly killed.” The Wall Street Journal confirms through Yemeni sources that Saleh has begun feeding new information to keep himself useful. U.S. counterterrorism support continues as air-strikes escalate.
  • On August 28th, with Saleh periodically announcing his return amid the shadowy battle for Zinjibar, AQAP leader Nasir Abdel Karim al-Wuhayshi is reported killed by government officials. His body is never confirmed and fighting continues.
  • Having returned to Sana’a from his medical leave in Riyadh, Saleh immediately holds the opposition responsible for Yemen’s "criminal" uprising and the recent outburst of violence in Sana’a, accusing his political enemies of collaborating with AQAP. Saleh then conjures up a flimsy fatwa from a group of Yemeni scholars, which declares protests to be “ungodly” and gives Saleh another excuse to crack down on the revolutionaries. The collective message of his speeches is that Saleh isn’t stepping down before a presidential election is held, at an indefinite point in the future. Then, on the eve of al-Awalki’s purported death, he accuses the U.S. of pressuring an “ally” in the war against al-Qaeda - and presto.
Journalists received a text on Friday morning - as mass rallies are being prepared against Saleh - from the Yemeni Defense Ministry claiming, "The terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki has been killed along with some of his companions.” The Yemeni Observer, a front for the government, issued a similarly vague but coordinated statement. A Defense Ministry official told CBS News he was killed without offering further details, although 9:55 AM is offered as a time of operation. CBS News' Khaled Wassef points out that Al-Awlaki “was reported dead following U.S. air strikes on southern Yemen in December 2009 and November 2010.”

Anwar may in fact be eliminated from Yemen’s equation - several local U.S. journalists have tentatively confirmed - but recent history suggests otherwise. Some sources put his death between the al-Jawf and Ma'rib governorates, while others report a battle in Shawbah governorate, an odd divergence. The final conclusion, however, is that al-Awlaki’s death accomplishes little to nothing on the U.S. side. His tribe has vowed retaliation in the event of an extrajudicial killing and his position will be swiftly filled, if not his unique skill-set. U.S. policy will hoist its trophy but continue hammering Yemen’s southern territories in search of AQAP’s other leaders. Protesters will continue viewing U.S. policy as irreversibly immoral and short-sighted.

And the main beneficiary of al-Awlaki’s death, through no coincidence, would be Ali Saleh, who stands ready to crush the revolutionary spirit out of Yemen.



  2. There is one more winner.
    Mr Drone.
    He will now be justified as an eliminator of the wicked.
    As far as I have seen from before.
    Al-Awlaki was never high on the A/Q totem pole.
    He was not considered to take over the OBL position.

  3. Like all targeted victims of the US he has been talked up big time by the securocrats with their willing dupes in the media regurgitating for all they are worth.

  4. There is some evidence that AQAP command offered to elevate al-Awlaki as chief in order to capitalize on his relative popularity. OBL supposedly refused. I think al-Awlaki falls somewhere in middle-upper leadership, valuable but not invaluable.

    The Obama administration's response is of great concern. Contrary to the developing line of group think, al-Awlaki's death will only harden U.S. political and military support for his regime:

    "Working with Yemen and our other allies and partners, we will be determined, we will be deliberate, we will be relentless, we will be resolute in our commitment to destroy terrorist networks that aim to kill Americans, and to build a world in which people everywhere can live in greater peace, prosperity and security."

    Al-Awlaki's death is being immediately used to whitewash U.S. support for Saleh. The UNHRC's report on his human rights abuses is blown away.

  5. I say again: Bring back the troops! Send in the drones!