Yemen’s Saleh plays the al Qaeda card
At first glance, the FOX News headline, “al Qaeda: Yemen province now an Islamic Emirate,” is pretty disturbing. But it’s not remotely true. The US media is getting played by the King of Spin, President Ali Abdullah Saleh and his legion of Baghdad Bobs, again.
As anti-government protests calling for Saleh’s ouster engulfed Yemen and military commanders defected, the Saleh regime pulled back its remaining military and security forces and distributed weapons to proxies. In Abyan, state-jihaddists looted an ammo factory and took over the building housing a radio station. The terrorist mercenaries made an announcement on the radio that the city of Ja’ar in Abyan was deemed an Islamic Emirate and women were confined to their homes without a guardian. Later over 150 villagers, mostly women and children, scavenging the factory were killed in a horrific explosion. Yemenis claim the blast was remotely detonated.
Yemen’s state-jihaddists are al Qaeda types who work as mercenaries for the regime. The Saleh regime is very good at “cloning,” a tactic to undermine the opposition and confuse the west. The state has created look-alike newspapers, governmental non-governmental organizations (GONGO’s), and fake opposition parties. Beyond deploying security thugs in civilian clothes, as Mubarek did, the Saleh regime has a large contingent of jihaddist mercenaries on the payroll. Many of these “state-jihaddists” were released from jail after a pledge of loyalty to Saleh.
After the tragedy in Abyan, Yemenis across the nation accused Saleh of playing the Al Qaeda card to spin the western media and US, a frequent practice. They say that the state fosters and deploys al Qaeda mercenaries to elicit counter-terror funds, equipment and training, which are then used against internal opposition. As the Senate found last year, Saleh diverted US trained counter-terror units and US supplied equipment to the Saada War. (Indiscriminate bombing displaced over 300,000 residents in the northern Saada province as the state withheld food and medicine in a pattern that constituted collective punishment, Human Rights Watch found.) Beyond the 150 killed in the Abyan blast, dozens of others are suffering severe burns with little medical support.
The leaders of the raid on the ammo factory, Khaledabdul Nabi and Sami Dhayan, have worked for the state for years. Nabi, of the Abyan Aden Islamic Army, trained and led jihaddists into battle on behalf of the Saleh regime during the Saada Wars (2004-2010) against northern Shia rebels who claim religious discrimination. Nabi’s group, not AQAP, made the radio announcement. The residents in Ja’ar formed a local security committee which now has control of the area.
Yemenis are bewildered at the stance of the Obama administration in light of Saleh’s chicanery. Secretary Gates has repeatedly stated that the Saleh regime is an important partner to the US and the protests are an internal affair. At the same time, the US Ambassador in Sanaa is lobbying to keep Saleh’s sons and nephews in charge of the counter-terror units. A former Foreign Minister, Abdullah al Asnag, long in exile, detailed the regime’s duplicity from the USS Cole bombing to the 2010 US airstrikes in Yemen. Watan, the Coalition of Women for Social Peace, appealed directly to the American people yesterday,
Our stance depends on evidences proved that Selah is using al-Qaeda, and the American war against terrorism to receive generous financial support, and intensive training for the Special Forces, Central Security, and National Security, which all headed by his son and his nephews and use to suppress the Yemeni for more than a decade.
The last American stance, which was expressed by Robert Gates, reinforces our belief that the U.S. government is not serious in fighting terrorism and promoting democracy. The money is used in the name of the American people and the fight against terrorism to support dictatorial regimes and Al-Qaeda, against nations’ choices and demands for democracy. Yemen comes at the forefront of these nations.
American people, the hands of Yemeni people who have been in the streets in a peaceful revolution since two months, still rose demanding the elimination of the dictatorial regime and establish a modern civil state. However these hands are facing your weapons, your money, and the shameful attitude of your government, which we know that they do not reflect the spirit of the American nation which based on principles of freedom and human dignity.
Lift up your hands against your government that on your behalf and via your money is supporting the repression of peoples, democracy and peace.
Yesterday in Hajjah, 230 were wounded when Saleh’s thugs opened fire from rooftops on the peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators, echoing last Friday’s massacre when snipers killed 53 during a protest in Sanaa, largely by head shots.
Yesterday protesters issued a video statement to US Ambassador Feierstein along with a draft list of demands that represents a consensus among all the protesters around the county. Unlike in Egpyt where protests were centered in Cairo, Yemen is witnessing large sustained anti-government protests in nearly every province and even on the island of Socotra.