November 16, 2011

VOA Bombs Yemen’s Revolutionaries

U.S. officials are skilled at softening their condemnation of ‘“friendly” regimes, and the Voice of America’s new editorial on Yemen provides a blueprint of the Obama administration's duplicity. All of the usual rhetorical tricks are on display, illustrating a line by line meltdown of U.S. foreign policy.
For the past ten months a popular uprising seeking to oust President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been underway in Yemen. Pro-Saleh forces regularly engage in deadly clashes with armed tribesmen and military defectors who support the protesters in Yemen's largest cities. In the south, al-Qaida-linked militants have occasionally taken control of entire towns. The many months of violence have forced more than 80,000 residents of Zinjibar to flee to neighboring provinces.
The VOA’s opening paragraph sets the tone for marginalizing Yemen’s revolutionaries. A peaceful uprising by youth and civil movements transitions immediately into clashes between Saleh’s security forces and armed elements affiliated with the oppositional Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). While the ongoing conflict between these forces is a key battleground inside Yemen’s revolution, Saleh and the international community both seek to elevate the threat of “civil war” above Yemen’s revolution.

al-Qaeda is then thrown into the mix without framing Saleh’s plot in the southern governorates. The only reason AQAP managed to “occasionally taken control” of Zinjibar and Jaar is because Saleh’s security forces redeployed to crackdown on protesters. This threat was then successfully leveraged to maintain U.S. support.
According to the Yemen Observatory for Human Rights, about 400 people have been killed since the protests that began in February, although group spokesman al-Jalil Waddah said the numbers of those killed in the south and Arhab region could be much higher. He added that his organization has documented many cases of political prisoners alleging abuse at the hands of government security forces in Sana'a and the country's second largest city, Taiz.

The United States is deeply troubled by reports of attacks against civilians in Yemen. The U.S. condemns violence by all parties and calls for all sides to exercise maximum restraint.
With respect to the YOHR, Yemen’s casualty figures have been consistently reported above 1,000 by local groups and media counts. YOHR does mention that the true death-toll is obscured by the government’s practice of hiding the wounded and dead, but VOA picked some of the lower statistics that it could find. Most noticeably, VOA uses YOHR as a proxy to document government abuses and condemns violence by “all parties,” not Saleh’s regime specifically.

No watering down occurs in VOA’s editorials on Syria.
President Saleh's refusal to transfer power has further destabilized Yemen, denying the country the opportunity to restore peace and ultimately elect a new government. Economic conditions also continue to deteriorate under the pressure of growing protests and increasing division throughout Yemen. Widespread inflation, including rising commodity prices, affects every Yemeni. International and domestic investors are deterred from investing or expanding their operations in Yemen due to a deteriorating security situation. Ongoing political instability and uncertainty over the status of Yemen’s leadership have also undermined expected reforms related to responsible economic management, anticorruption efforts, taxation, and subsidy reduction.

If President Saleh cares about Yemen's future and the well-being of the Yemeni people, he must immediately initiate a full transfer of power that allows early presidential elections to be held within the framework of the Gulf cooperation Council transition initiative. The U.S. calls on him to fulfill his promises without delay. Only then can the Yemeni people come together to address the enormous challenges facing their country.
These paragraphs are particularly duplicitous. Although Saleh’s past and present actions are responsible for Yemen’s current destabilization, his “refusal to transfer power” functions as a crutch for preexisting and ongoing U.S. support. Yemen’s humanitarian crisis is enabled by the international community’s unbroken favoritism towards Saleh’s regime; the strongman manipulates Yemen’s fuel and electricity supplies, turning them on and off depending on the arrival of foreign diplomats.

Closing with support for the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) initiative speaks for itself, and demonstrates the Obama administration’s level of insensitivity towards Yemen’s revolutionaries. VOA concluded its previous editorials on Yemen, spaced months apart, with the same propaganda: “The United States again urges President Saleh to initiate a full transfer of power without delay and arrange for presidential elections to be held before the end of the year within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative.”

The GCC’s initiative is condemned daily in Yemen’s streets and abroad, viewed as a monster spawned by imperialist powers. A “full transfer of power... within the framework of the Gulf cooperation Council transition initiative” will obstruct Yemen’s revolution, ultimately destabilizing its political and economic spheres. Saleh doesn’t care about the well-being of most Yemenis, only the few.

This redundancy captures the essence of America’s failed policy in Yemen.


  1. If the people of Yemen are not careful.
    There will no longer be a Yemen.
    Rather it will be swallowed up by Saudi Arabia.
    IMO this is their ultimate goal.

  2. I don't think the KSA is aiming for that much control. Riyadh's interest in stability is low; it would rather undermine Yemen's territory and political environment with impunity. The King is aware of Yemenis' hostility towards his interference, and a satellite or weak neighbor is more advantageous.

    Not that big of a difference between outcomes though.