December 13, 2011

US Machine Releases Yemen’s Master Copy

The Obama administration seemingly caught up to the world on Tuesday, releasing the following statement through the State Department:
The United States welcomes the formation of the Yemeni National Consensus Government and the holding of its first cabinet meeting on December 10. We commend Vice President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwah for their efforts in forming the National Consensus Government. This marks another significant step forward as the government and the opposition continue to enact a peaceful and orderly transition of power in Yemen, leading to presidential elections set to take place on February 21.

As the parties work to implement the remaining articles of the political agreement, we strongly encourage all sides to refrain from violence and to work together in good faith and with transparency. The United States is committed to strengthening our partnership with the Yemeni government and people as they implement the agreement and address their political, economic, and security challenges.
A textbook example of back-seat political driving, the Obama administration most likely forwarded a rough version of this statement to the international community. Superficially varying amongst the Arab League, GCC, UN and EU members, the State Department’s script drops some of the more ludicrous claims - “forming in a timely manner.” Yet other phrases remain identical, including “welcomes the formation” and “marks another significant step forward.” The State Department’s statement appears to be the master copy of every other statement distributed over the last three days.

Why the Obama administration chose to act now instead of Monday could be explained by America’s obvious absence.

However the fact that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton skipped Yemen’s rhetorical festivities speaks to the public distance they wish to keep from a murderous tyrant, even as they snuggle closer together. Clinton hosted UK Foreign Minister William Hague on Monday to laud their bilateral relations, so she had ample opportunity to at least touch on Yemen. True to form, Clinton paraded through Egypt, Syria, Libya and Iran before skipping Yemen and Bahrain - where U.S.-UK interests remain tight.

Hague released his version of the U.S. script on Saturday.

At the same time, the White House’s unoriginality and tardiness can be partially attributed to the same apathy that plagues the U.S. media and pubic spheres. Consumed by the economy and select foreign hotspots, Obama and Clinton personally want nothing to do with Yemen. Its revolution probably wasn’t on Jay Carney’s mind when he stepped to the podium for Tuesday’s briefing. The Pentagon has also learned to keep its head down and continue expanding in silence, hoping to preserve America’s low awareness.

Nuland never takes the initiative to address Yemen during her own briefing, and no reporter was interested in following up on her statement or the weekend’s events in general. No one asks why the Obama administration is systemically ignoring Yemen’s protesters and still siding with a dictator.

With estimates of the dead and wounded ranging near 10,000, many Yemenis and observers struggle to find any “significant steps” taken by Saleh’s regime. Apparently the first step was signing the GCC’s initiative in Riyadh; dozens of people have been killed since November 23rd. Although Saleh’s General People’s Congress (GPC) and the oppositional Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) managed to form a “new” government populated by many former officials, the two blocs continue to fight over political and military influence. Ceasefires have yet to permanently hold.

The notion that a cabinet meeting represents progress leads a flagrant finale: “supporting the Yemeni government and people.” Still referring to Hadi as Vice President, the State Department has finally edited Saleh out completely for his crimes, leaving a “strengthening” partnership with his regime. Saleh and his son, Ahmed, intend to remain in Yemen throughout a two-year “transitional” period to a 2014 presidential election.

Compounding this propaganda, the administration once again ignores the resistance of Yemen’s pro-democracy movement, falsely claiming to support the youth. Yemen's Coordinating Council of the Youth Revolution (CCYRC) recently labeled the foreign-sponsored "unity" government as a "junta."

"In May of this year, the neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council came out with an initiative of political engineering to supposedly solve the political crisis in Yemen. During this great uncalled for endeavor (which is really interference in domestic Yemeni political affairs), the GCC and their American and European prodders kept the real vanguard of the peaceful revolt out of their shuttle diplomacy and backroom wheeling and dealing."

Even Prime Minister Basindwah and UN envoy Jamal Benomar concede the reality that Yemen’s nascent pro-democracy movement was left out of the GCC’s political deal. Meanwhile the few reports on Nuland’s statement have included the condition that Yemen’s February “election” will feature Hadi as the sole candidate. The Obama administration won’t feel the real need to alter its militarily-driven policy without innovative action from Yemen’s revolutionaries.

An equilibrium has crystalized down a subservient hierarchy of foreign powers, forcing Yemen’s protest leaders to break this machine and its lifelines to Saleh’s regime.

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