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Archive for the ‘Yemen’ Category

Death of a Terrorist: Nasser al-Wuhayshi

Kareem Fahim writes that “Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen released a video statement early on Tuesday [, 16 June 2015] confirming the death of its leader, Nasser al-Wuhayshi, in an American missile strike. Mr. Wuhayshi, 38, who had led Qaeda operations in Yemen since 2002 and was also the global extremist network’s second-ranking leader, was killed along with two other operatives, the statement said. The group said that its military commander, Qassim al-Raimi, had been chosen as Mr. Wuhayshi’s successor”.[1]

In the group’s video statement, a spokesman proclaimed the following: “Let it be known to the enemies of God that their battle is not only with one person or figure, no matter how important. To the infidel America: God has kept alive those who will trouble your life and make you taste the bitterness of defeat”. [2]

In September last year, National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen testified that “Al Qaeda’s official branches in Yemen and Somalia continue to remain extremely active”.[3]  Words of warning apparently proven true by the spectacular Charlie Hebdo attack last January.[4]  And now, Wuhayshi’s execution by drone comes as a belated action of revenge, as confirmed by the NYT’s Fahim claiming that “American counterterrorism officials [appear] certain to view the killing of Mr. Wuhayshi as a major victory. He built the affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, into what was seen as the global organization’s most active branch and the most dangerous threat against the United States, even though its attempts to blow up airliners over American soil have failed. But his death also comes as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has grown more powerful in Yemen, capitalizing on civil war to capture territory and forge new alliances with Sunni tribes to fight the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group that controls large parts of the country. In early April [2015], Al Qaeda seized control of Al Mukalla, Yemen’s fifth-largest city, reportedly capturing millions of dollars from the vaults of the central bank there. Local news media in Yemen said that Mr. Wuhayshi was killed in the city last week by a missile strike that killed three Qaeda operatives by the beach”.[5]

The news agency Reuters’ Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobari add that “Al-Wuhayshi, [was] a charismatic former associate of Osama bin Laden”, while highlighting that “Wuhayshi is the sixth major AQAP leader killed in suspected U.S. bombings this year, despite political turmoil in Yemen that led to the closing of the U.S. embassy and the evacuation of its military and intelligence personnel”.[6]  Browning and Ghobari then provide some background: “Wuhayshi, according to Gregory Johnson, author of a book on AQAP, was born in southern Yemen and traveled to Afghanistan for the first time in 1998 to join al Qaeda. He met bin Laden there and acted as his aide-de-camp until 2001, when the group was scattered after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan following the Sept 11 attacks on the United States. He became head of AQAP in 2009, several years after a daring prison break from a jail in Yemen. In 2013, U.S. sources said that an intercepted communication between Wuhayshi and al Qaeda leader Atman al-Zawahiri – believed to be based in Pakistan – was one component of a broader pool of intelligence that prompted a threat alert closing numerous U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa”.[7]

[1] Kareem Fahim, “Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Confirms U.S. Missile Strike Killed Leader” NYT (16 June 2015). http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/world/middleeast/al-qaeda-arabian-peninsula-yemen-nasser-al-wuhayshi-killed.html?_r=0.

[2] Kareem Fahim, “Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Confirms U.S. Missile Strike Killed Leader”.

[3] “U.S. Officials: Al Qaeda ‘extremely active’ in Somalia and Yemen” Horn Affairs (19 September 2014). http://hornaffairs.com/en/2014/09/19/u-s-officials-al-qaeda-extremely-active-in-somalia-and-yemen/.

[4] C. Erimtan, “The Charlie Hebdo attack: Geo-politics, eurocentrism, Islamophobia, and blowback” RT Op-Edge (09 Jan 2015). http://rt.com/op-edge/221275-charlie-hebdo-attack-france/.

[5] Kareem Fahim, “Al Qaeda’s Yemen Branch Confirms U.S. Missile Strike Killed Leader”.

[6] Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobarim, “Yemeni al Qaeda chief killed in U.S. bombing”Reuters (16 June 2015). http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/16/us-yemen-security-qaeda-us-idUSKBN0OW0FJ20150616.

[7] Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobarim, “Yemeni al Qaeda chief killed in U.S. bombing”

CrossTalk: The Yemen Proxy?

‘Yemen’s agony is without end. While the Saudi-led and American-backed military assault continues unabated, it remains unclear what Riyadh and Washington are really fighting for. Though one thing appears undeniable – Yemen is joining the ranks of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Libya, and Somalia as places where warlords rule in conditions of anarchy. CrossTalking with Gareth Porter, Ross Harrison, and Massoumeh Torfeh (13 May 2015)’.

Yemen Conflict: Shifting Sands, Shifting Loyalties

‘Within hours of announcing the end of its military campaign against Houthi rebels in Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition’s planes bombed the city of Taiz. Fighting is also continuing in the port city of Aden. All this comes despite Riyadh declaring that its month-long campaign, which sought to restore the country’s president, had achieved its goals. But the surprise statement raises more questions than answers, since the deposed leader has not resumed his role as the country’s number one (23 April 2015)’.

Newtown vs Al-Majala: Drone Strikes in Context

“For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn’t be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world.

The container is filled with the humming of computers. It’s the brain of a drone, known as a cockpit in Air Force parlance. But the pilots in the container aren’t flying through the air. They’re just sitting at the controls.”

Innocent women and children were killed by drone strikes in the al-Majala region of Yemen. The United States is responsible for a very high number of innocent civilian deaths from drone strikes; a soldier wracked with guilt told his story of dehumanizing rationalization after killing a child. The senseless deaths of innocent children in Newtown, Connecticut devastated the nation, causing President Obama to cry openly for them. Why are children in places like Yemen or Pakistan not mourned? Cenk Uygur discusses the disparity (19 Dec 2012).

The report Living under Drones, quoted by Cenk Uygur, was earlier this year the subject of another post of mine: “Since 2004, up to 884 innocent civilians, including at least 176 children, have died from US drone strikes in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan. A new report from the Stanford and New YorkUniversity law schools finds drone use has caused widespread post-tramatic stress disorder and an overall breakdown of functional society in North Waziristan. In addition, the report finds the use of a “double tap” procedure, in which a drone strikes once and strikes again not long after, has led to deaths of rescuers and medical professionals”.[1]

[1] “Living under Drones: Stanford-NYU and Brave New Films” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (10 October 2012). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/living-under-drones-stanford-nyu-and-brave-new-films/.

Another Muhammad Controversy: The Innocence of Muslims

A look at the conflicting reports about who’s behind the 14-minute anti-Prophet Muhammad trailer that’s sparked violent protests in the Middle East (13 Sep 2012).

Meanwhile, the rage goes on and on and on . . . so, here is the trailer causing all these diverse Muslims in the Middle East and beyond to shout and protest.

The atrocious clip has led to a lot of mayhem, as recounted by Anne Sewell in the Digital Journal: ‘Protests and outrage are now spreading to Lebanon and Iran, and continue in Yemen and Egypt, over the film “Innocence of Muslims”, released on YouTube, which insults the Prophet Mohammed’.[1]  Going into detail, as follows: ‘Lebanon: On Thursday [,13 September), in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, several hundred people have rallied, and are burning both American and Israeli flags, in outrage over the American-made film mocking Islam’s prophet Mohammed. In Sidon, on Lebanon’s Mediterranean coast men and women carried banners containing slogans like “freedom does not mean insults to religion” and “who are you, you lowlifes, to insult what is good for people.” Meanwhile the Pope visited Lebanon, amidst all the protests. Yemen: In Yemen on Thursday, at least 4 protesters have reportedly been killed, after hundreds of demonstrators stormed the U.S. embassy. According to witnesses, plumes of smoke were seen rising outside the embassy, while protesters chanted “Death to America”. Local media reported that two cars exploded after two bombs were thrown into the embassy compound. Heavy gunfire has also been heard in the area. Libya: As at 08:53 GMT on Friday [, 14 September), a 48-hour no-fly zone has been imposed in Benghazi, Libya, following the attacks on the city’s U.S. consulate that killed the American ambassador and three embassy staffers. All flights to and from the city have been suspended. Egypt: In Egypt this morning, Cairo police are erecting a wall of concrete blocks around the U.S. embassy in an attempt to prevent protesters from entering the compound, as outrage continues in the city’.[2]

Crowds are gathering in the Egyptian capital for a third day of protests against an anti-Muslim movie filmed by a US director (14 Sept 2012).

[1] Anne Sewell, “’Innocence of Muslims’ protests spread further in Middle East” Digital Journal (14 Sep 2012). http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/332793#ixzz26RbrAQhg.

[2] Anne Sewell, “’Innocence of Muslims’ protests spread further in Middle East”.

Drone Wars

Drone warfare has increased dramatically since 2008 and there are over 60 bases across the globe engaging in a US drone missions. US drones are currently deployed in the skies of over 14 different countries, some for surveillance and others for attacking ground targets. The area of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, known as Waziristan is the locus of much of the drone operations. But are these weapons keeping us safe, or do they just incite further terrorist attacks? And is their use a violation of the Geneva Conventions?




As a bonus, here is Al Jazeera’s People & Power talking about the Attack of the Drones: The US government’s growing reliance on aerial drones to pursue its war on al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Yemen, Afghanistan and elsewhere is proving controversial. As governments are increasingly relying on drones, what are the consequences for civil liberties and the future of war? (18 July 2012).

Syrious Revelations: McCain Spills Some Beans, Stuxnet, Flame, and Drones

In the previous presidential election cycle Senator McCain gained notoriety for maintaining that Iraqand Afghanistanappeared to be sharing a border region. Now in 2012, on the other hand, his knowledge of global geography seems to have improved quite a bit. In fact, McCain even went off-script recently: “I’m glad that some of the nations in the Gulf, the Saudis, are providing some weapons [to the Syrian opposition]”, is what he said on CNN on Sunday, 10 June.[1]

As I indicated in earlier entries, the whistle-blower Sibel Edmonds even maintains that the U.S.and Turkeyare providing training for the Syrian opposition, in addition to Saudi and Qatari assistance. The upshot of the conflict in Syriaover the past 15 months has been the loss of at least 10,000 lives, as estimated by the UN. Some opposition groups put the number as high as 14,000.[ii]  Does McCain have some kind of an inside source, or is he merely operating his critical faculties???  As such, the Obama administration has recently had to contend with a number of leaks divulging sensitive information concerning the conduct of U.S. foreign policy. The Privacy and Security Fanatic Ms Smith remarks that the “FBI is investigating who spilled national security secrets, this time about Stuxnet and the classified cyberattack program the U.S. launched against Iran nuclear facilities. Senator Feinstein has called for Capitol Hill hearings into the leak since ‘disclosures of this type endanger American lives and undermine America’s national security”.[3]

In the UK’s The Week, Robert Fox writes that the “book Confront and Conceal and a series of articles in the New York Times by David E Sanger [are primarily responsible for the uncomfortable revelations]. The author appears to have enjoyed the status of court chronicler to the Obama circle, much as Bob Woodward did in writing his series of articles and books about the regime of George W Bush. Obama expanded the Bush drone campaigns, but it is the revelation about his commitment to cyber operations that is most startling. According to Sanger’s account – now available as an ebook, though bizarrely not arriving in print for another month – the new president Obama immediately signed up to a series of cyber initiatives and plans under the codename ‘Olympic Games’. The main target was the nuclear fuel refining programme of Iran, specifically the centrifuges at Natanz. The Stuxnet malicious software – malware – was developed with Israel and inserted physically by human agents on the ground”.[4]

 So, what about the recent Flame malware???  In Wired, Kim Zetter writes that the “sophisticated espionage toolkit known as Flame is directly tied to the Stuxnet superworm that attacked Iran’s centrifuges in 2009 and 2010, according to researchers who recently found that the main module in Flame contains code that is nearly identical to a module that was used in an early version of Stuxnet. Researchers at Russia-based Kaspersky Lab discovered that a part of the module that allows Flame to spread via USB sticks using the autorun function on a Windows machine contains the same code that was used in a version of Stuxnet that was unleashed on computers in Iran in 2009, reportedly in a joint operation between the United States and Israel. The module, which was known as Resource 207 in Stuxnet, was removed from subsequent versions of Stuxnet, but it served as a platform for what would later develop into the full-fledged Flame malware that is known today. The researchers believe the attackers may have used the Flame module to kickstart their Stuxnet project before taking both pieces of malware into different and separate directions. They’ve detailed the similarities between the modules in Flame and Stuxnet in a blog post”.[5]

And then there are also the drone attacks in Pakistanand Yemen. . . Mister Fox poetically says that President Obama’s “use of drone strikes has been far more profligate than had been suspected up to now”, as revealed in Sanger’s new book, adding that “Obama inherited the drone campaign – used extensively in the Afghan-Pakistan borderlands and in Yemen – from his predecessor, George W Bush”.[6]  Or, the more things change, the more they stay the same . . .

[i] “McCain: Gulf states supply arms to Syrian opposition” RT (11 June 2012). http://www.rt.com/news/mccain-gulf-arms-syria-568/.

[ii] “McCain:Gulf states supply arms to Syrian opposition”.

[iii] Ms Smith, “Feds investigate who leaked classified Stuxnet cyberattack details to NYT” Network World (06 June 2012). http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/80765.

[iv] Rober Fox, “Flame and Stuxnet show Obama’s commitment to Chinese cyberwar” The Week (11 June 2012). http://www.theweek.co.uk/defence/47345/flame-and-stuxnet-show-obamas-commitment-chinese-cyberwar.

[v] Kim Zetter, “Researchers Connect Flame to US-Israel Stuxnet Attack” Wired (11 June 2012). http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/06/flame-tied-to-stuxnet.

[vi] Rober Fox, “Flame and Stuxnet show Obama’s commitment to Chinese cyberwar”.

MSM: What about Yemen???

Looks like the Mainstream media decided to skip covering foreign policy today, despite the fact that there was a drone strike in Yemen over the weekend. Oh, but that’s right Yemen is a shadow war so we keep that under wraps (14 May 2012).

Fear and Paranoia: London Conference on Somalia


In the great tradition established by Bush, Jr. the British Prime Minister David Cameron has now issued a warning, insinuating that the UK’s domestic security is at risk from Somali militants. Hyperbole and fear-mongering at its finest, and for good measure the name of that that “catch-all ghost entity” has once again been drummed up to garner support. It seems that Cameron is trying to construct a parallel with Afghanistan, as a way of securing the voting public continuing support, in a fashion similar to Bush’s high popularity ratings in the aftermath of 9/11 and the opening months of the invasion of the Hindu Kush. Will his stratagem work and will the British public be lured into voting Tory again next time around???  The BBC remarks that ‘British Prime Minister David Cameron has told the BBC that radical jihadist islamism in Somalia remains his biggest concern about the country. In an interview with BBC Somali Service editor Yusuf Garaad Omar, Mr Cameron said the international security threat from al-Shabab, which controls large areas of Somalia, is real and substantial. The British government is hosting an international conference on Somalia in London on Thursday [, 23 February] to discuss strategies to tackle the security situation, piracy and aid for Somalia. The conference will be attended by more than 40 political leaders from Africa, the Middle East and other countries’.[1]

The Telegraph’s Damien McElroy informs us that “Britain is to spend £20 million on a new civilian rapid reaction force to secure parts of Somalia wrested from the control of the Islamic militant group al-Shabaab”, once the AU forces have left the country”.[2] Thus, one could argue that Cameron felt compelled to up the ante and sharpen his rhetoric so as to justify this extravagant-looking expenditure to a austerity-struck home public. Like Bush kept on saying that America was battling the terrorists in Iraq, rather than at home in the U.S., Cameron now employs a similar figure of speech to convince his critics that spending millions of Pounds on yet another foreign war is not just justified but necessary to keep Britain safe. The Foreign Secretary William Hague supports the words of his boss: “We want to help Somalis find longer-term political solutions, and a key part of tomorrow will be capitalising on recent security progress on the ground. We can make a huge difference if we get this right”.[3]  Cameron and Hague imply that this £20 million spent on weapons constitutes yet another humanitarian intervention that will secure the West, while immobilizing the threat of radical Islam. Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab have become the latest configuration of evil now that the Taliban are seen as a necessary evil in the Hindu Kush and Al Qaeda elements are primarily conspicuous in their absence in the Af-Pak theatre. Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden, has also been mobilized to present another Islamic threat, necessary for the continuation of the never-ending War-on-Terror. Will the Af-Pak theatre now be replaced by the Somali-Yemen axis as the locus for the West’s military interventionism???  Making his point abundantly clear, David Cameron told the BBC Somali service Al Shabaab “encourages violent jihad not just in Somalia but also outside Somalia. And there is a very real danger of young British Somalis having their minds poisoned by this organisation. So there is a terrorist threat that is current today, and if we are not careful, could get worse”.[4]

David Cameron has now ensured that Britain will stay the course on the ever-lasting War-on-Terror, but other world leaders are also attending the London Conference on Thursday, 23 February. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, and representatives of the World Bank, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) as well as many others will be present too in London. It seems that a number of Yemenis will be able to attend: the ‘Foreign Minister Abu Baker al-Qirbi, who will represents Yemen in the conference, said the conference will discuss the Somali case and its security and political implications on the Horn of Africa and the world in general. The discussions will be based on seven headings: Security, Political Process, Local Stability, Counter-Terrorism, Humanitarian, and International Coordination, according to Al-Qiribi. Senior representatives from over 40 governments and multi-lateral organizations will come together in London with the aim of delivering a new international approach to Somalia. They will discuss how the international community can step-up its efforts to tackle both the root causes and effects of the problems in the country’, as reported by the Yemen Post.[5]

But not just Yemen, also Turkey – which now sees itself as the pseudo-Ottoman champion of the Third World, as clearly evidenced by the charity campaign organized by the Diyanet during last Ramazan – is present at the London conference. In fact, Turkey’s wily Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu abandons an unofficial meeting of G20 foreign ministers in Mexico to be present at the Somalia Conference. David Cameron thus calls upon the international community to endorse his bold moves to perpetuate the never-ending War-on-Terror. The conference organizers have released this statement, already echoed by the Yemen Post higher: ‘The international community hopes to agree a series of practical measures which will be published in the form of a communiqué at the end of the conference. Discussion will be arranged under seven headings:

Security: sustainable funding for the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and support for Somali security and justice sectors. Political Process: agreement to what should succeed the transitional institutions in Mogadishu in August 2012 and the establishment of a Joint Financial Management Board. Local Stability: a coordinated international package of support to Somalia’s regions. Counter-terrorism: renewed commitment to tackle collectively the terrorist threat emanating from Somalia. Piracy: breaking the piracy business model. Humanitarian: renewed commitment to tackling Somalia’s humanitarian crisis. International coordination: agreement on improved international handling of Somalia issues’.[6]

[1] “Cameron on hopes for Somalia conference” BBC News (2 Feb 2012). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17122583.

[2] Damien McElroy, “Britain to spend £20 million on new rapid reaction force for Somalia” The Telegraph (23 Feb 2012). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/somalia/9096795/Britain-to-spend-20-million-on-new-rapid-reaction-force-for-Somalia.html.

[3] Damien McElroy, “Britain to spend £20 million on new rapid reaction force for Somalia”.

[4] Damien McElroy, “Britain to spend £20 million on new rapid reaction force for Somalia”.

[5] “Yemen partakes in London Somalia Conference” Yemen Post (22 Feb 2012). http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=4774&MainCat=3.

[6] “Conference details” Foreign & Commonwealth Office. http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/global-issues/london-conference-somalia/conference-details/.

Jeremy Scahill on Yemen & the Fortunes of the Military-Industrial Complex in 2012

In my previous post, I talked about Yemen’s upcoming elections and the Yemeni population’s addiction to Khat, but from a purely geo-political point of view the small Arab state is extremely important. The U.S. established a base for its drones in Yemen, and the continuation of the War-on-Terror depends on the continuing existence of that “catch-all ghost entity”, employing the Escobarian phrase, Al Qaeda . . . and here is the intrepid Jeremy Scahill giving his opinion on the matter.

(17 Feb 2012)

Even though the mere existence of Al Qaeda as a SPECTRE-like worldwide network has always been in doubt, currently, following the execution of its supposed kingpin Usamah bin Laden, talk of Al Qaeda has been receding. Still, in Yemen, the military U.S. presence and support for Ali Abdullah Saleh (arguably to be replaced by Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi) is explained by the existence of a shadowy group called Al Qaeda in the Arabic Peninsula, even though this fierce terrorist group only boasts about 700 or so members. The Associated Press’ Bradley Klapper lays it out in some detail: the “Obama administration is putting its hopes for Yemen in a vice president long seen as the loyal deputy to strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, confident that at the very least he can shore up a counterterrorism alliance with Washington against Al-Qaeda’s resurgent Arabian Peninsula offshoot. Ushering in democracy may be significantly harder. But American support for Yemen’s transition appears to be as much a matter of US security interests as the lofty ideals of the Arab Spring”.[1]  Klapper’s words seem to indicate that the U.S. administration is hell-bent on continuing its War-on-Terror, thereby perpetuating its financial and moral support for the Military-Industrial Complex,[2] and thus appears equally willing to sacrifice the Yemeni population’s aspirations for democracy and a higher levels of freedom and prosperity (or would that be another Khat-induced state?). In a rather cynical fashion, Klapper appears to concur when he says that the “transition starts next week when Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is rubber-stamped as Yemen’s new leader, ending 34 years of one-man rule under Saleh, a polarizing figure who craftily kept his opponents divided for decades before the protests across North Africa and the Middle East caught up with him”.[3]  Or is he merely being facetious when he calls Yemen’s upcoming elections nothing but an exercise in rubber-stamping???

But Klapper hits the nail on the head when he says that the “United States is keen to see stability prevail in the Arabs’ most impoverished nation”.[4]  Steady as she goes, seems to be Washington’s continuing advice ever since the days of Bush, Jr. who instigated the War-on-Terror and thus forstered the growing fortunes of the Military-Industrial Complex. And President Obama seems eager enough to continue this legacy as well . . .  In addition to safeguarding the flow of oil through the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden as well as pacifying Saudi Arabia, not keen on a too turbulent southern neighbour.

[1] Bradley Klapper, “US looks to regime figure for transition in Yemen” AP (18 Feb 2012). http://arabnews.com/middleeast/article577311.ece.

[2] “President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (01 March 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/03/01/president-eisenhowers-farewell-address/.

[3] Bradley Klapper, “US looks to regime figure for transition in Yemen”.

[4] Bradley Klapper, “US looks to regime figure for transition in Yemen”.