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Target, Yemen: U.S. War of Terror Expands

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« on: August 27, 2010, 11:34:10 am »

Target, Yemen: U.S. War of Terror Expands

By Kenneth J. Theisen

August 26, 2010

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal Obama administration officials "believe al Qaeda in Yemen is now collaborating more closely with allies in Pakistan and Somalia." The story states that this belief increases "the prospect that the administration will mount a more intense targeted killing program in Yemen." 

Or, in plain English, murder and assassination.
Given the history of the Obama administration this is quite likely. In fact, the U.S., under Obama’s leadership, has already expanded the U.S. war of terror into Yemen, and many other countries.
Obama has sent tens of thousands of additional troops into Afghanistan, and Obama dramatically increased missile strikes into Pakistan. There have been at least 50 such illegal attacks in Pakistan this year alone. The unlawful "targeted assassination program" also was expanded. Last September General Petraeus issued a memo expanding covert operations into nations under his CentCom operation, which includes Yemen. All of this has greatly expanded the areas of actual military assaults by U.S. forces.
CenCom has been lobbying Congress to sharply increase military assistance to Yemen. The Pentagon recently announced that it will have spent $155 million by the end of September on equipment to help Yemen’s army fight al-Qaeda. This is compared to $67 million spent last year for the same purpose. The $155 million does not include an unknown sum for covert U.S. assistance for Yemen which has also increased over the last year.
On August 25th the Department of Defense informed Congress that it will supply four Huey helicopters to Yemen and upgrade10 Russian-made MI-17 helicopters already owned by Yemen. In addition to this, the U.S. will give Yemen 50 military Hummer vehicles, night-vision goggles, and transport aircraft according to a Pentagon spokesman.
The U.S. military has launched several strikes against alleged terrorists in coordination with Yemen's government. But like in other so-called targeted attacks there is "collateral damage". In May of this year one of those U.S. attacks killed a deputy Yemeni governor. Under pressure from the U.S., Yemen forces have also stepped up their own attacks on alleged terrorists. It is not known how many have become casualties of this latest escalation of the U.S. war of terror.
In addition to arming and training Yemeni military forces, the U.S. military's Special Operation Forces and the CIA have been expanding their own presence in Yemen and surrounding nations over the last year or so. U.S. officials have admitted that the U.S. has positioned surveillance equipment, drones, and personnel in Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia to increase the targeting of alleged terrorists in Yemen and nearby Somalia.
According to the Journal story there is a debate within the Obama administration over "whether to try to replicate the type of drone campaign the CIA has mounted with success in Pakistan. The CIA has rapidly stepped up its drone hits in Pakistan under the Obama administration and is now conducting strikes at an average rate of two or three a week…"
If the administration decides to expand its illegal actions into Yemen it will have support on Capitol Hill, according to the Journal. The Journal quoted Democrat Representative Adam Smith. Smith sits on two key committees - the House intelligence and armed services committees. He told the Journal, "The intelligence community, broadly speaking will need to increase its focus on Yemen." He also called for further involvement of the U.S. military there.
While announcing the spending of money for its war of terror, U.S. officials have been rather quiet about the fact that the Yemen government which they are aiding has been named as a human rights abuser by international rights groups and even the U.S. State Department.
Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh has kept his regime in power for 31 years by suppressing all opposition to his rule. His government is known for its corruption, much like that of the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan. Also like those countries occupied by the U.S., his regime is unable to provide basic public services, including water, electricity, security, medical care and education. Seven million Yemenis are malnourished. This is a third of the population. Hundreds of thousands are refugees in their own country. The police and military act as enforcers for corrupt officials. Torture in Yemeni jails is systemic and brutal according to human rights groups.
But why should Yemen be any different from other nations where the U.S. is waging its war of terror? While the excuse for this war is alleged to be a fight against terrorism, the fact is that the government waging it is the biggest terrorist in the world. It allies itself with the oppressors in individual nations because it is the biggest oppressor in the world. In upholding and expanding this oppression it has no other choice than to use the tools of the oppressor – war, torture, assassination, massive surveillance, etc.
But while U.S. imperialism may have no other choices because of its nature, we do. We can choose to oppose its actions. We can band with millions of others to end this war of terror. As people who reside in the belly of the beast we have a special responsibility to do so.

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