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Monday, December 28, 2009

What the Hell is going on in Yemen and what does it have to do with Iran?

Nothing in the Middle East comes easy, nor is full and accurate coverage of events there usually easy to come by.

Note: the following is not meant to give answers, but rather to raise questions, what the Hell is going on in Yemen and what does it have to do with Iran? As it turns out, there is a marked confluence of events that may very well be connected.

What is occurring now in Yemen is the latest in subterfuge vis a vis Middle East turmoil.

Looking back over the last few months, Yemen first came on the US news scene regarding the Fort Hood shooting. It was explained to the American public, that Dr. Hassan, the Muslim psychiatrist due to be deployed to Afghanistan who went berserk killing 13 military personnel, had been in email contact with a radical Muslim (American born) cleric in Yemen, Anwar Al-'Awlaki. Thus far, the American public has been told that the correspondence had been tracked by government authorities, but was deemed to fall within the purvue of Dr. Hassan's "research". CBS News however reports differently as to the nature of this email correspondence between Dr. Hassan and the imam. What we do know, is that for some reason these emails, whatever their nature, did not cause the authorities to call Dr. Hassan in for any sort of questioning. The result was tragedy. What *some* are insisting was not the action of a lone man gone berserk, but part of a larger terror attack on the US. This being said without any proof whatsoever being given to us by our government.

The next time for Yemen to appear on the US news radar concerned a cruise missile attack on "Al Qaeda" forces in Yemen ordered by Obama. (although Yemen insists their air force carried out the strikes) Referring to Glenn Greenwald's Dec. 21st article in Salon:

In addition to our occupation of Iraq, war escalation in Afghanistan, and secret bombings in Pakistan, President Obama late last week ordered cruise missile attacks on two locations in Yemen, which "U.S. officials" say were "suspected Al Qaeda hideouts." The main target of the attacks, Al Qaeda member Qasim al Rim, was not among those killed, but: "a local Yemeni official said on Sunday that 49 civilians, among them 23 children and 17 women, were killed in air strikes against Al-Qaeda, which he said were carried out 'indiscriminately'." Media reports across the Muslim world -- though, not of course, within the U.S. -- are highlighting the dead civilians from the U.S. strike (one account from an official Iranian outlet began: "U.S. Nobel Peace Prize laureate President Barack Obama has signed the order for a recent military strike on Yemen in which scores of civilians, including children, have been killed, a report says").

For many people, the mere assertion by anonymous U.S. Government officials that these attacks targeted "suspected al-Qaeda sites" will be sufficient to deem them justified. All credible reports confirm that there is indeed a not insignificant Al Qaeda presence in Southern Yemen, so that claim, at least, seems at least grounded in reality. Yet arguments about justification to the side for the moment, here we have yet another violent attack by the U.S. which -- even under the best-case scenario -- has killed more Muslim civilians than it did "Al Qaeda fighters," and failed to kill the main target of the attack. When it comes to undermining Al Qaeda -- both in Yemen and generally -- isn't it painfully obvious that the images of dead Muslim women and children which we constantly create -- and which we again just created in Yemen -- will fuel that movement better than anything else we can do?

Next item in the news regarding Yemen: the Yemeni air force WITH the aid of US and Saudi intelligence engaged in a bomb attack in which the Dec 24th headlines read, "Sources: Air Strike in Yemen May Have Killed Imam Who Inspired Fort Hood Shooter, Two Top Al Qaeda" This was indeed big news which inspired many in the media to call the entire incident a mini-911, "terrorist attack"(Fort Hood)--this time we got the bad guy. Only as it turns out, the bad guy, Imam Anwar Al-'Awlaki wasn't struck after all according to his family. He's still out there. (so is Osama Bin Laden)

Next, give Yemen only one day to appear in our news again with the apparent "terrorist plot" on board an airliner by a man who has "confessed" he was acting on Al Qaeda's orders. As it turns out, our government alreaddy *knew* about this 23 yr old's suspicious activities prior to this plane incident (just as they knew about Dr. Hassan's email correspondence with the radical imam in Yemen) Apparently after Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab's father, a well known Nigerian banker, visited the US embassy in Nigeria in November asking for help in finding his son because of his fears of him going radical, Umar had been placed in the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE) but did not make the cut to go on to be placed on the no-fly list. His visa to the US had not been revoked according to Ian Kelley, State Department Spokesman because...........

The secretary of state can unilaterally revoke a visa but usually does that for foreign policy and diplomatic, not national security, reasons, Kelley said.

"This has to be done in consultation with other agencies," Kelley said.

So much for that official statement. Al Qaeda has taken credit for the failed bomb attempt aboard the "jihadi express"(so called by the right wing). It just so happens the plot was *planned* by two former GITMO detainees. On another odd note, this news report states that the explosives on the suspect would have been extremely difficult to ignite.

Introduced after World War I, PETN is in the same chemical family as nitroglycerin and among the most powerful of explosives. It was the same explosive that Richard C. Reid tried to detonate in his shoes during an American Airlines flight in December 2001.

But one characteristic of PETN is that it does not easily detonate, and that apparently thwarted Mr. Abdulmutallab, officials said. Dropping it or setting it on fire will not typically detonate it, explosive experts said.

Usually, a shock wave from a blasting cap or an exploding wire detonator is needed to set off PETN. Mr. Abdulmutallab was reported to have used a syringe to try to inject a liquid into the explosive.

It sounds like he was trying to cause a chemical reaction that would initiate it, and that didn’t work out so well,” said Jimmie C. Oxley, an explosives expert and professor of chemistry at the University of Rhode Island


Boy that sure was a dud of a plan by Al Qaeda if you ask me.

Update: Wednesday Dec 30: The has a statement from Dutch Interior Minister Guusje Ter Horst on the explosive which would be plane blower upper Umar Farouk AbdulMutallab used:

Ter Horst said Abdulmutallab apparently assembled the explosive device, including 80 grams of PETN, in the aircraft toilet, then planned to detonate it with a syringe of chemicals. She said the explosives appeared to have been professionally prepared and had been given to Abdulmutallab, but did not elaborate.

"If you want to detonate it, you have to do that another way than he did. That is why we talk about amateurism," she said.

So I guess his bosses for the terrorist organization that took down the Twin Towers and piloted a plane into the Pentagon have fallen down on the job this time. Those "professionals" that prepared it left out the proper directions. Thank God. Kismet.

Moving on, which for a moment means looking slightly back. In this case to Obama's Nobel Prize acceptance speech in Oslo which noted that Yemen has become a new front on the war on terror. Yes, Yemen has indeed become a focus. Just this Sunday Senator Joe Lieberman went on FOX News calling for the United States to do all it can possibly do, pull out the stops when it comes to fighting the "war on terror" in Yemen.

So what else is going on in Yemen that the US media is NOT reporting widely if at all?

Little at all is being reported that the Saudi military has been engaging in ground and air attacks on Houthi rebels in Yemen, accusing them of being backed by Iran. Who are the Houthi rebels? They are Shiaa who have been fighting in opposition to the Yemeni government who the Houthi claim have been discriminating against them for years.

In June 2004, the Houthis, a group of rebels in the Sa'dah governorate of northwest Yemen, began taking up arms against the Yemeni national army. They claimed, and continue to claim, to be defending their own specific branch of Shia Islam -- Zaydism -- from a Yemeni regime they say is too dependent on its northern neighbor, Saudi Arabia, and its partner in the war on terrorism, the United States. Yemen's political and military leaders have labeled the Houthis a terrorist group supported by Iran. This smoldering civil war attracted little outside attention until last month, when, on November 5, Saudi Arabia sent its warplanes to bomb Houthi positions around the border, both on Saudi territory and inside Yemen. It was Saudi Arabia's first cross-border military intervention since the Gulf War in 1991. (Source)

Just how far has Saudi involvement gone in fighting the Houthis? From a Dec 23 AFP report:

Fighting between Saudi forces and the rebels kicked off on November 3, when the kingdom accused the rebels of killing a border guard and occupying two villages in its territory.

Saudi jets began bombing rebel positions the following day.

Prince Khaled said on Tuesday that the fighting has killed 73 Saudi soldiers, wounded 470 and left 26 missing.

So, as you are reading here are you beginning to see the implications of what is going on in Yemen? That as the US is ratcheting up it's involvement there, Saudi Arabia which has not been a nation to become involved militarily directly is now doing so in Yemen because they claim that there is a threat to their southern border by rebels backed by Iran? Do you understand that Saudi Arabia is flying US jets piloted by US trained pilots targeting Yemeni SHIAA rebels whom they claim are Iranian backed? Are you understanding that not only has Israel been rattling it's sabers against Iran for quite a while but many in our own government have been rattling their sabers at Iran also? Which is it? Al-Qaeda (the Saudi regimes arch enemy) or Iranian backed rebels who are the target of Saudi Arabia? Which is it, Al-Qaeda or Iranian backed rebels who are the target of the US? Is it both? Why hasn't OUR media reported what is going on there YET? Is this a conditioning process the American public is going through to prepare us for further deployment of our troops elsewhere in the Middle East or a strike on Iran?

NO strike on Iran by either Israel or the US can be undertaken without Saudi cooperation. Keep that in mind.

On a slightly different note, as 175,000 Yemenis have been forced from their homes due to the strife in their country, UNDispatch ominously opines:

This sudden escalation alarmed analysts in the United States and the European Union, as well as those in the Middle East. The conflict, they fear, could evolve into a proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which perceive themselves as the contemporary standard-bearers of the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam, respectively. Equally worrying is that the latest attack could further destabilize the already fragile Yemeni state, which is confronted by a series of crises and a structural inability to govern its territory and population. In recent years, Yemen has rightfully gained a reputation as a safe haven for violent groups linked to al Qaeda.

"Proxy war" or build up to what the hawks have long been calling for: just more reasons given to attack Iran which again could never occur without Saudi cooperation.


TUESDAY DEC.29th UPDATE: If the following is true this situation on the Saudi-Yemeni border perpetrated by who the Saudis deem are IRANIAN backed rebels is a friggin POWDER KEG!!!

Houthis seize full control of Saudi border post

Houthi fighters in northern Yemen say they have seized control of a Saudi military post along the border between the two countries where Saudi and Yemeni forces are waging a campaign to uproot them.

According to a report released by Hezbollah's al-Manar television network, Houthis have seized "full control of the Al-Jamrah Saudi military post" as well as weapons, communication material, military vehicles and surveillance equipment.

The report added that the northern Yemen's Shia fighters overran the Saudi post on Monday and forced soldiers to flee. The post is said to be located in close proximity to al-Khoba in Saudi Arabia's southern province of Jizan. Read further>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

AGAIN a strike on Iran by either Israel or the United States CANNOT occur without Saudi cooperation. What kind of mood do you think the Saudis are in if an act of war-the seizing of their military post within their borders has been accomplished by the Houthis who are supposedly Iranian backed?

Their mood would certainly be worse than it was in July when the article "The Houthi Thorn" was published in Asharq Alawsat!


I wondered how long it would take for someone high up in Israel to jump in. Here we go, Danny Ayalon, former ambassador to the US and current Israeli Deputy Interior Minister writes for Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

Hamas is almost exclusively supported by Iranian funds, training, and equipment. The same is true of Hizbullah and other terror organizations through which Iran is seeking to undermine Sunni governments in the region. So to achieve better prospects for dialogue with Palestinians - without the threats of terror, extremism, and incitement - it is critically important to curb local Iranian influence. Indeed, today all the worst threats to the Middle East originate in Iran. Lebanon is a case in point. The most urgent threat to the Lebanese people comes not from Israel or the West, but from Hizbullah - an Iranian organ which represents Iranian interests, not Lebanese ones. Other countries in the region are similarly affected. Large terror rings operated by Hizbullah have been discovered in Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia.

Yes, that is the problem Mr. Ayalon. Israeli policy has nothing to do whatsoever with the Palestinian issue, it is IRAN who is the Middle East boogy man. Hizbullah in your crosshairs again heh? Itching to make that strike on Iran you have been salivating over for eons now? Pleased as pie that Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam is using their military to plummet Shiaa Houthis in Yemen? Waiting for them to allow their airspace to be used by you?

Here's an interesting article in YNet, conveniently it leaves Saudi Arabian military involvement in Yemen out of the report. Toss in some hasbara concerning the plane plot as well which is totally contradicted by explosive experts.

The fears stem from the fact that the terror group was able to develop explosives capable of blowing up a plane out of common liquid materials that are difficult to detect.

Hello YNet-guess you missed the memo on that "professionally prepared" explosive that couldn't be detonated with LIQUID. Good to know though that the radio station funded by the US Congress reports AQ in Lebanon now too.

*****Angry Arab News December 9: Notice that Naharnet and NowHariri peddles and highlight daily Israeli propaganda stories. What could be one of those reports AAN is referring to? Secret Meeting in Yemen between Iran, Houthi, Hizbullah Officials.

Yes, it's all coming together in a neat package with the bow being tied.

Edit to add: September 16,2009 General James B. Smith was sworn in as the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia. His joint experience includes serving as the CSAF chair at the National War College and as vice director of operations for North American Air Defense Command (source). He was serving as International Business Development Executive for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems when Obama appointed him to be ambassador to Saudi Arabia, to which Raytheon has been providing weapons and services since 1966 (source)


Robin said...

is this working

Clo said...

Thanks for that, Robin-- here are 2 more interesting articles I just read:

Changing the Narrative for War
By Philip Giraldi

Published 12/29/09


Israel Rules
December 29, 2009
by Paul Craig Roberts

A Cat said...

Great analysis. Yes, the Houthis are the real enemy of USA in this hidden war in Yemen. General David Patreus knows it, saying US warships patroling red sea to prevent arms smuggle to Houthis:

"He emphasized that U.S. ships found in Yemeni waters are not only there for monitoring but for also for stopping the flow of arms to the Houthi rebels."

If you look foor videos in liveleak you see, that Houthis seem to know very well how to fight. They hold their ground, managed to recurse tank incursions and shot down several Yemeni fighter jets.

What's missing, is analysis of possible economic interests behind the hidden war against the shia houthis.

Have a look for the region near the Saudi town Qatif. Have a look what BBC is writing about that region: "Saudi Arabia's Shia press for rights"

What else is going on in Qatif? Have a look to "Qatif project" in wikipedia:

"The Qatif Producing Plants are the largest crude increment built in recent times, and the world's largest crude production facility."

And further: "The field development services were provided by Halliburton."

What would it mean for US interests and the royal Saudi, if antiamerican shia Houthi control a border region with Saudi Arabia? Just imagine, Houthi would provide shia brothers in Qatif with weapons for armed resistance. The battle with shia resistance in Saudi Arabia would take place on the largest oil fields of the world.

Robin said...

Hi Cat,
I lived in Damman-Khobar 1977-1980 and actually got on a plane to return there the day Khomeni returned triumphantly to Iran. If you only knew how much KSA changed for the worse after the Iranian revolution, becoming absolutely more dictatorial and fundamentalist than where it was headed prior to that.
We would often drive to Qatif on Fridays to get out of town. Jubail was even still a sleepy little fishing village then, before the huge port and refineries were built there. You would need to know the Eastern Province then, to see that from what I know, Damman-Khobar got all the modern updates while from what I am reading, Qatif is still a small little town.

A couple of years ago my ex was camping in the desert not far from Jubail when an attempted Al-Qaeda attack was made on the refinery there. I am really trying to decipher here between the true Al-Qaeda threat to KSA itself, the Houthi threat on the southern border and now what you are raising-the Eastern Province Shiia unrest which predates Al-Qaeda's existence by years. One simply cannot leave the fact that Al-Qaeda's nemesis is Saudi Arabia itself out of the equation, but how does Saudi Arabia achieve it's real goal in the case at hand now? Say they are fighting the mutual enemy AQ.
Does this mean AQ isn't in the midst of the troubles? No-absolutely not. The question is HOW are they involved. There have been reports that the Yemeni government has hired AQ mercenaries to fight the Houthi. Now wouldn't that just be peachy?

What I haven't updated with is the fact that many are stating that Prince Bandar is behind this (we all remember him now don't we?) But here's the interesting twist. Although the king renewed his position as the head of the National Security Council in September for four more years, he has not resumed his duties in that position for months now. Presstv reported he had been under house arrest for an attempted coup which failed but he's out there running around now. It seems his father, Sultan, the crown prince who has been in Morocco since Nov 2008 is trying to solve the "Bandar issue" Unfortunately I haven't been able to definitively find what the "Bandar issue" is. Perhaps it was the legal problems he has been facing with the arms kick-back deal but just last week the US court tossed out here and back to Britain.

Bottom line Cat, KSA is walking a very dangerous line here. I updated with the info on the new US ambassador to KSA for a reason. Google the wiki for the list of former ambassadors there. None are of the same ilk as James Smith. IF Saudi Arabia is working up to allowing Israel to use their airspace for their desired attack on Iran, boy, the new US ambassador would sure be able to coordinate things from his own expertise wouldn't he? You've also read I am sure that Gordon Brown has called a summit on Yemen. OH, and to report Hezbollah is meeting with the Houthis? What is this that is going on here? Justification for WHAT?