“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Incoherent US Role In Yemen


Obama Disastrously Backed the Saudis in Yemen, Now He's Deploying US Troops to Deal with the Fallout

The U.S. says it is fighting the same Al Qaeda affiliates that are allied with elements of the coalition America is backing.

In fact, when he briefed reporters last week, Pentagon spokesperson Navy Capt. Jeff Davis would not even say how many U.S. troops had been deployed, for what exact length of time and under what legal authority (Obama has not held a congressional vote over the Yemen war). Davis only said the U.S. is sending a “very small number” of forces to support United Arab Emirate’s ground combat against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

This development goes hand-in-hand with an escalation in U.S. intelligence and aerial refueling to back the UAE, as well as the deployment of U.S. assault ships off the coast of Yemen. Meanwhile, Central Command announced last week that the American military “has conducted four counterterrorism airstrikes against the [AQAP] terrorist organization in Yemen in recent weeks.” At least a dozen countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United States and Britain) are participating in or backing the military coalition.

Amid the Obama administration’s relative silence, brief comments made by state department press spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau to reporters on Tuesday shed light on the incoherent justifications that underlie the ramping up of America’s role.

Asked by an unidentified reporter whether the U.S. deployments are part of a “grander plan to bring about stability,” Trudeau replied: “So, no, this was limited support. So the Department of Defense has actually spoken to this. U.S. Central Command provided limited support to an anti-al-Qaida of the Arabian Peninsula operation led by Yemeni, Saudi, and Emirati forces in and around Mukalla. We remain concerned about AQAP and we welcome the operations taken by the Yemeni forces with the support of the Emirati and the Saudi forces to address this. It was limited.”

In fact, the Saudi-led campaign has significantly strengthened AQAP, as well as ISIS. Thanks to the war, AQAP has been able to seize nearly 400 miles of Yemen’s southern coast and significantly boost its ranks. As Yara Bayoumy, Noah Browning and Mohammed Ghobari put it in a Reuters investigation published last month, “The campaign, backed by the United States, has helped [AQAP] to become stronger than at any time since it first emerged almost 20 years ago.”
The state department does not dispute this fact, as revealed by the following excerpt from Tuesday’s briefing:
QUESTION: Right. As far as the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is concerned, it was really one of the showcases of this Administration, because they basically decimated al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. But then this war brought them back, by and large due to, let’s – to the war that is being waged --
MS TRUDEAU: It’s true.
QUESTION: -- by Saudi Arabia and others. So it’s like a – it’s kind of...
MS TRUDEAU: Al-Qaida has taken advantage of the instability in Yemen. This was an operation. And again, we thank the Saudis and the Emiratis as well as the Yemenis for moving forward on this operation.
So the U.S. admits that it is ramping up a war that has strengthened the forces it claims to be fighting. However, reality is even more nefarious. A recently-released PBS Frontline documentary by journalist Safa Al Ahmad reveals that combatants from the Saudi-led coalition are fighting alongside militants affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Yemeni city of Taiz.

The BBC acknowledged that Al Ahmad’s film provides evidence “that troops from a Saudi-led coalition force and Al Qaeda militants are both fighting Houthi rebels in a key battle. On a visit to the frontline near the city of Taiz, a documentary maker filmed jihadists as well as UAE-supported pro-government militiamen.”
This is not the first report of its kind. Last July, Maria Abi-Habib and Mohammed Al-Kibsi wrote in the Wall Street Journal that “local residents and a senior Western diplomat” all testify that Saudi-backed militias have “turned to Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, for help.”

The current Yemen war, meanwhile, is not the first time that the U.S. has directly or indirectly cooperated with Al Qaeda affiliates around the world.

So AQAP is not only growing in strength because it is “taking advantage” of the chaos, as Trudeau characterized it. Rather, some of its forces are fighting alongside elements of the coalition. Whatever the extent of this collaboration, the fact that Al Qaeda affiliates are growing in strength as a result of the coalition’s war is indisputable. What evidence suggests that an escalation of this failed war will somehow yield a different result?

Yet, in the name of fighting Al Qaeda, the United States increasing its participation in a coalition that has unleashed extraordinary bloodshed on ordinary people throughout the country. The coalition has targeted densely populated urban centersfactoriesweddings and a center for the blind

American-made cluster bombs have rained down on civilian villages. More than 3,000 civilians have been killed and, in February alone, two-thirds of the innocent people slain died by coalition air strikes, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Relentless bombings and a naval blockade have pushed the entire country to the brink of famine, with the UN estimating that half of Yemen’s population—14.4 million people—“urgently need food security and livelihood assistance.”

But the U.S. military’s war against Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen goes back further. Since 2002, the U.S. has launched up to 137 drone strikes on Yemen, killing as many as 101 civilians, among them 9 children, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. This covert bombing campaign has unleashed untold psychological terror on some of the poorest areas of Yemen.

Now U.S. troops appear to be fighting in alliance with forces that are, in fact, associated with Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, the mission continues to creep with little debate within the United States. While it is not apparent whether the incoherent American role in Yemen is the product of confusion or sinister calculation, one thing is clear: this war comes at the expense of ordinary people in Yemen, who are being robbed of their well-being, food security and lives.

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.


  1. FROM:“clinical-insanity”-yemen-14598
    December 2015

    The United States is supporting the war in Yemen by providing weapons and sharing intelligence. This has helped induce a humanitarian disaster. A Saudi blockade at major ports has left Yemen, already the poorest country in the Middle East, woefully short on petroleum, water, and food, with the United Nations warning last week that half the country is at risk of famine and 82 percent is in need of urgent aid.

    The UN is also worried extreme weather could trigger a locust plague next year, a crisis of literally biblical proportions.

    Arab nations, led by Saudi Arabia, have been pummeling Yemen from the sky, resulting in a death toll of 5,700 between March and mid-November, the vast majority of them killed by airstrikes. The destruction of a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan by American aircraft dropped jaws across the Western world; less publicized has been the bombing of a DWB clinic in Yemen that wounded nine people and was conducted despite the Saudi coalition having been regularly provided with the facility’s coordinates. A report from Human Rights Watch investigated ten coalition attacks in Yemen, and found that in every case there was either no target of military value or no effort made to distinguish between civilians and armed forces. And with America a party to the conflict, the “U.S. could share responsibility for indiscriminate attacks,” it warned.

    1. Tie this with the US Senate unanimously passing a vote allowing US citizens to sue Saudi Arabia for 911.

    2. The only near logical conclusion is that US foreign policy in the ME isThe Neocon and Israeli policy of keeping the entire region in chaos and at each other’s throats.

    3. Who can deny that your assertion is nearly logical ?

    4. Yeah its ALL the JEWS doing right Deuce??

      You have become one sick ass puppy..

    5. EURO NEWS

      Euronews met one of the most important leaders of the Ansar Allah movement, Mohamed Ali Al Houthi, who heads the revolutionary committee, which is the highest leading authority in Yemen. He rejected suggestions his movement is a puppet force in the hands of Tehran and insisted that its true opponents are Israel and the United States of America.

      “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with the US congress about the serious danger of the situation in Sanaa, and what he called the Houthi rebels getting into the Yemeni capital. This was followed by western statements expressing their concern about the situation in Yemen.

      “One of the most important Israeli statements said that the Strait of Bab El Mandeb is more threatening to them than the Iranian nuclear programme, and with that statement the real target of this war against us was revealed. All the reasons and justifications that have been said, like our relations with Iran and us being a part of their plan to expand in the region has been simply proven incorrect,” he said.

      Despite the intensive airstrikes launched by the Saudi-led Arab Allies against Houthis, they still have a tight grip over the capital Sanaa after they took over government departments, the military and financial institutions.
      The Houthis’ reportedly control at least 70% of the Yemen’s military capability, in addition to running civil and military airports.

  2. .

    And people ask how al Qaeda in Yemen can be growing so fast.

    Count on it, we will be sending troops to Libya soon.


  3. Well the interesting news of course is that the USA is bombing folks in syria and saving the ass of hezbollah and the republican guard of Iran.

    Russia cuts back?

    Obama sets in to prop up Assad, Iran and Hezbollah...

    It's your crap hole Deuce, not mine.


    Eight years of Western training not only failed to build a military that could defend the state, but led to a myopic focus on counterterrorism that accelerated its implosion. The mistakes made in Yemen — where military trainers were deployed without consideration for local political dynamics — provide a clear demonstration of the unintended consequences of a military-centric approach to the war on terror. Throughout the period of U.S. and U.K. military assistance to Yemen, al Qaeda expanded both its territory and membership year on year.

    The initial battle against al Qaeda in Yemen was remarkably successful. Between 2001 and 2005, U.K. and U.S. special forces, in conjunction with the Yemeni government, rapidly shut down jihadist training camps and imprisoned al Qaeda leaders. Deeming the mission accomplished, policymakers in Washington and London severely curtailed military assistance to Yemen, and turned their attention to democratization. This infuriated President Saleh, who lost access to considerable funds and opportunities for patronage. Then, in 2006, 23 senior al Qaeda militants escaped from a Yemeni jail. Al Qaeda had returned — and with it came renewed Western military aid.

    The response set the worst possible precedent. It effectively tied millions of dollars in aid — and the corresponding support for President Saleh — not to al Qaeda’s elimination, but to its continued presence. From that moment, Yemeni efforts to confront the insurgency lost their previous vigor.
    “I went in thinking that we had a reasonable partnership with the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh,” explained Stephen Seche, U.S. Ambassador to Yemen from 2007-2010. “He was an extraordinary manipulator. He was continuously sounding the alarm, [warning] that al Qaeda was encroaching further in territory that was thought to be secured. That captured the imagination of CIA and Department of Defense officials who would go back to Washington with a firm determination to provide more assistance, more training.”

    1. ☐ Britain deployed a training team to the capital of Sanaa to work alongside Yemen’s paramilitary Central Security Forces (CSF), and another team to Aden to mentor the coast guard. U.S. trainers were responsible for the Yemeni army and special forces.
      The training program was comprehensive, covering weapons skills, logistics, intelligence procedures, and urban and desert warfare maneuvers. “We brought it back to first principles,” one of the British trainers told us. “We started teaching them our targeting cycle: find, fix, finish, exploit and analyze.”

      Under British guidance, the CSF set up a Counterterrorism Unit (CTU) and an Intelligence Fusion Center, recruiting the first female section in the Yemeni military to track down al Qaeda fixers and facilitators.

      But as the unit expanded, the number of missions undertaken was cut back to around two per month, baffling Western officials.
      “There was a real reluctance to use them. I never got to the bottom of why,” one officer recalled.


      In the first place, eradicating al Qaeda would have removed the justification for these units’ existence. The second reason was that the government lacked the political capital to conduct extensive operations across the rural hinterland without coming into conflict with Yemen’s tribal groups, which locally hold much of the political power.


      ☐ “The coalition between extremist groups and tribal units made it difficult to fight the terrorists,” said Colonel Yahya Saleh, nephew of then-President Saleh, who commanded the CSF until 2012. “Some tribes sympathized with the terrorists.”
      Tribal sympathies not only caused the tribes to oppose the Yemeni military but also caused problems within the CSF. “As soon as they knew they were going [on an operation], the members of the Counterterrorism Unit who had family connections with the target were already on the phone to tell them that they were being scrambled,” one British soldier recalled. “So when the CSF actually got there, the target had done a runner!”

      ☐ Frustrated by the reluctance of Yemeni units to confront al Qaeda, U.S. and British forces began to conduct their own operations. Initially these were highly secretive. “As soon as they’d done the hit,” explained a British soldier involved in the operations, “they’d scramble the [Yemeni] Counterterrorism Unit, who’d turn up and claim the kill.”


      The futility of the Western training program is reflected in the bitter recollection of some British personnel who took part. One lamented the fact that “most of the guys we were mentoring are dead now. There are two who I know are working for Yemeni headquarters in Saudi, but the rest of them are dead.”

      “What happened in Yemen,” explained another British official, “was just a lot of money spent, a lot of time wasted, and nothing whatsoever was achieved.”

  5. Israel hasn't had anything to do with Yemen.

    And couldn't even if they wanted to as most of their troops are tied down in occupying Annexed Gaza.

    1. I’ll defer to the brilliant Andrew Bacevich’s comment in a discussion about the absurd militarization of US policies in the Middle East:

      “There is this assumption that these deals and relationships with countries—Saudi Arabia, Egypt—can never be reconsidered. And this is certainly the case in Saudi Arabia and I think it’s also the case with the state of Israel, even when it’s patently obvious that those governments are taking actions contrary to U.S interests. And yet we have to pretend that they are allies, that they are friends. It’s heresy to insist that there are alternatives.”

      I would dump the three of them in a heartbeat.

  6. I added a video of a bomb, dropped by the Saudis in Yemen. This bomb itself, dropped in an area of civilians has to be a war crime in itself.

  7. It's also a war crime to use human shields, I once read. If they are using human shields as they might very well be doing.

    The Yemenis can sue Saudi Arabia as we are going to do, if Obama doesn't veto the bill and Congress can't overcome the veto.

    I advise we stay out of Yemen.

  8. Gen. Clark’s revelation about “7 countries in 5 years"?

  9. Israel and the Neocons wanted chaos and that is what we have. Mission accomplished.

    1. Iran has to fall, then we can celebrate.

    2. “We”, being you, the Neocons, Likud, radical right wing Zionist fanatics and your new best friends, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey

  10. EgyptAir is reporting that a plane has disappeared from radar, according to a Facebook post on the airliner’s website.


    EgyptAir said the plane was flying at 37,000 feet 80 miles outside Egyptian airspace when contact was lost around 8:45 p.m. EDT.

    1. This will never end until the chaos ends.

    2. Damn aircraft just ain't as reliable as they used to be in the good old days.

    3. I always fly El Al and I've never had a problem.

    4. We will not have order until the chaos ends.

  11. No one in the conservative Commentariat has beaten up on poor Bill Kristol more than I during the past dozen years. I read David Horowitz' excoriation of Kristol as a "renegade Jew" with chagrin;


    I feel no schadenfreude at Bill Kristol's embarrassment. The neo-conservatives built the closest thing that America has had to a conservative intellectual movement, and it is sad that it has failed.

    Throwing a Tantrum

    1. (Horowitz) choice of words was churlish.


      Kristol's an Asshole.

    2. "Kristol is so absorbed in the cultish self-adoration of the neo-conservative clique, and so insecure about the perception of his manifold policy blunders (for example, his naive endorsement of the Arab Spring as near-equivalent to the American Founding), that his judgment of late has been dreadful. His third-party proposal will go nowhere.

      Kristol makes the mistake of thinking that he still matters. The neo-conservatives enforced party discipline in the media and foundations they control with the same inquisitorial zeal that the Left applies to the persecution of conservatives at American universities. They crushed dissent ruthlessly, and declared anathema upon anyone who questioned them.

      Now the American people have vomited them out. No candidate who took ownership of the Bush Freedom Agenda got past first base in the Republican primaries."

  12. Google's Hero of the Day.
    This Hate Filled Cunt Joined any and every anti-American movement she could find.

    Yuri Kochiyama

    1. In 1971, Kochiyama secretly converted to Sunni Islam, and began travelling to the Sankore mosque in Greenhaven prison, Stormville, New York, to study and worship with Imam Rasul Suleiman.[10]

      Over the years, Kochiyama dedicated herself to various causes, such as the rights of those she regarded as political prisoners. She worked on behalf of Mumia Abu-Jamal, an African-American activist convicted and sentenced to death in 1982 for the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, nuclear disarmament and reparations for the internment of Japanese Americans. Through her activism—starting in the 1960s and continuing into the mid-2000s—Yuri participated in the Black, Asian-American, and Third World movements for civil rights, human rights, Black liberation, political prisoners, ethnic studies, anti-war, and other social justice issues.

      Kochiyama was a friend and supporter of Assata Shakur, an African-American activist and member of the former Black Liberation Army (BLA), who has been convicted of several crimes including first-degree murder before escaping from U.S. prison and receiving asylum in Cuba. She stated that to her Shakur was like "the female Malcolm [X] or the female Mumia [Abu-Jamal]." [11]

    2. 1 small chapter, the hate went on from beginning to end, and took many forms.

    3. Sounds like one really fucked up broad.

  13. I'm beginning to think The Donald is going to win.

    And, yes, I am aware of my track record.

    1. Juanita Broaddrick for Veep.

    2. She's been busy:

    3. She isn't backing down. Have to admire her. She may be the pivot on which the fate of our nation turns....she is dogging death I hope....

  14. Giving Rufus a little grief with his morning grapefruit -

    Poll: Trump leads Clinton by 3

    posted at 10:41 pm on May 18, 2016 by John Sexton

    The latest poll from Fox News shows Trump leading Hillary Clinton by 3 points. Fox News reports:

    Trump has a 45-42 percent edge over Clinton, if the presidential election were held today. That’s within the poll’s margin of sampling error. Last month, Clinton was up by 48-41 percent (April 2016).

    Clinton is ahead by 14 points among women (50-36 percent). Yet Trump leads by a larger 22 points among men (55-33 percent)…

    Overall, Trump is preferred by 24 points among whites (55-31 percent). He’s even ahead by nine among white women (47-38 percent).

    Clinton has a commanding 83-point lead among blacks (90-7 percent), and is up by 39 among Hispanics (62-23 percent).

    The fact that this lead is within the margin of error means it probably won’t set off a panic in the Clinton camp. However, the fact that Clinton was up by 7 points in the last poll and now trails by 3 seems like a trend that could be cause for some concern.

    There’s also another problem for Hillary Clinton in this poll. Bernie Sanders would do better against Trump, beating him in a hypothetical matchup by 46 to 42 percent. So Clinton is down 3 but Bernie is up four. Given the growing anger in the Sanders camp that result will only add fuel to the fire of those who say Sanders would make the better candidate.

    Perhaps one reason Clinton does poorly in this poll: People overwhelmingly believe she is not honest and trustworthy. Trump is underwater here too by 17 points but look at these results for Clinton. Fox News notes the 31% honest is a new low and the 66% not honest is a new high. Again, another trend that might be causing some constipation at Clinton HQ.

    1. More morning grief and grapefruit -

      What If Clinton Gets Indicted?

      It would scramble the campaign if Hillary or her aides lose the vital FBI primary

      Karl Rove

      May 18, 2016 6:39 p.m. ET

      Despite losing the Oregon primary while barely eking out a win in Kentucky, Hillary Clinton emerged with 51 of Tuesday’s delegates to Bernie Sanders’s 55. To reach the 2,383 needed for the nomination, Mrs. Clinton now needs only 92 of either the 890 still-to-be-elected delegates or the 148 still-unpledged superdelegates. This is because she is already supported by 524 superdelegates—the Democratic Party’s unelected overclass—to Mr. Sanders’s 40.

      Still, she must be concerned about losing the FBI primary. If the bureau recommends that the Justice Department indict Mrs. Clinton or close aides like Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin or Jake Sullivan for acting with gross negligence—disregard of known or easily anticipated risks—in sending classified information over a private email server, the campaign could be completely scrambled.

      The FBI may not recommend indictments, or the Justice Department could refuse to issue them. The latter could result in high-profile resignations like those in 1973 with the Watergate “Saturday Night Massacre,” when several top Nixon officials were fired or resigned. Only this time, the turmoil would be covered on cable TV and in high-def....

    2. More grief and grapefruits- (need a morning Bud yet?) -

      Clinton Scandals: Is The Family’s Charitable Foundation A Fraud?

      The Clinton Foundation, pictured here, has become embroiled in charges that its charitable operations are really a cover for a questionably legal business that exists to line the pockets of the former president and his family. (Archipreneur)
      The Clinton Foundation, pictured here, has become embroiled in charges that its charitable operations are really a cover for a questionably legal business that exists to line the pockets of the former president and his family. (Archipreneur)

      Corruption: With each new revelation, the murky world of the Clinton family finances only seems to get murkier — and dirtier. And a new report suggests it’s no accident.

      We wrote last week about how the Clinton Foundation gathered some $100 million from a variety of Gulf sheikhs and billionaires, not to mention taking in millions of “donations” from private businesses that later benefited from their supposed “charitable” largesse. Some of those who gave big bucks to the Clintons had interests that were, to put it mildly, not in keeping with U.S. interests.

      That prompted a key question: Just what do these assorted nations, foreign officials, satraps, global fixers and top corporate execs expect in return for their money?

      And now comes a more serious, far-reaching question: Is the entire Clinton Foundation so full of conflicts of interest and questionable dealings that it amounts to little more than a massive fraud intended solely to enrich its presidential namesake and his family?

    3. Charles Ortel, a Wall Street financial analyst, who pored over the Clinton Foundation’s books, filings and records, thinks so. He concluded that “a substantial portion of Clinton Foundation activities is certainly not ‘charitable’ or ‘tax-exempt’ in the accepted legal senses, so I wonder why state, federal, and foreign regulators have allowed the Clinton Foundation to continue operating as it has done, illegally, for so long.”

      Following a 15-month investigation, Ortel says that major questions “remain concerning the roles that Bill Clinton and others played in guise of charity right from the beginning in 1997, all the way to the present, and particularly before December 2009.”

      He added, “Larger issues surround inconsistencies and errors in multiple state, federal, and foreign filings for Clinton Foundation entities, that remain uncorrected and defective even after most recent submissions at federal level on 16 November 2015.”

      The Clinton Foundation last year was forced to refile its tax returns for the years from 2010 to 2013 to correct “errors in the report of donations from foreign governments,” the Foundation noted. As we reported before, the nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator removed the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation from its list of charities because of its “atypical business model.”

      This might all sound technical, but it isn’t.

      Remember, Hillary Clinton said she and Bill were “dead broke” upon leaving the White House. But the Washington Post estimated that the Clintons cleared close to $137 million from 2001 to 2012. In 2014, USA Today put Bill Clinton’s net worth at about $55 million. And that doesn’t include the estimated $22 million or so that Hillary took home in speaking fees after she left the State Department in 2013.

      Getting rich isn’t a crime. But it might be if you did it in the guise of being a tax-free humanitarian charity, interested only in the betterment of humankind.

      Peter Schweizer, in his 2015 book “Clinton Cash,” documented how “during Hillary’s years of public service, the Clintons have conducted or facilitated hundreds of large transactions (either as private citizens or government officials) with foreign governments, corporations and private financiers.”

      These deals put millions in the Clintons’ pockets through lucrative speaking arrangements or by donations to the Clinton Foundation. And the sums, says Schweizer, were “staggering.”

      More troubling, Schweizer noted, is the apparent link between major U.S. diplomatic initiatives during Hillary’s years as secretary of state and the dealmaking by the Clintons. Among the more suspicious, he said, are “the Russian government’s acquisition of American uranium assets; access to vital U.S. nuclear technology; matters related to Middle East policy; the approval of controversial energy projects; the overseas allocation of billions in taxpayer funds; and U.S. human rights policy, to name a few.”.....