The world’s bastion of peace is packing up its bombs and tanks in a humiliating retreat from the desert of Yemen. How could this be? After all, the US has been directing events in Yemen, more or less, since WWII, dominated by US dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh. After the collapse of the Arab world’s only communist state, South Yemen, in 1991, it looked like clear sailing. But sadly, fantasy and reality have little in common in the intractable Middle East.
Yemen is most celebrated as the fatherland of jihadist Osama Bin Laden (his father was a Yemeni-born Saudi construction billionaire with close ties to the Saudi royal family). Osama was energized in his tender youth in the 1970s to travel the Middle East exhorting independence fighters to fight the kufar with increasingly alarming tactics—and success. But that is ancient history now. He was gunned down unarmed by US special forces in Pakistan in 2011 and dumped unceremoniously in the ocean, in yet another US insult to the Muslim world.
Hillary got into gear shortly after in 2011, visiting Yemen to explain the anomaly of the Arab Spring as due to a “youth bulge”, not anything to do with assassinating the local folk hero, dropping hundreds of bombs on innocent civilians, etc. To pare down the “bulge” Obama provided a soupcon of US-style democracy, including an end to Saleh’s dreams of lifetime dictatorship, passing his legacy on to the equally corrupt but spineless vice president Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi.
“We support an inclusive government,” Clinton replied when asked how the Obama administration could support Saleh’s government and human rights at the same time. “We see that Yemen is going through a transition. And you’re right: it could one way or the other. It could go the right way or the wrong way.” (I’m not making this absurd statement up.)
Hillary just made it home in time to read CNN reports of Yemen’s mass uprising, which Obama petulantly hailed not as a yearning for freedom, but as “an obstruction to be neutralized”. Al-Qaeda capitalized on Saleh’s distraction in the cities to expand its ranks and territorial control in Yemen’s southern governorates; Saleh’s US-trained counter-terrorism forces made things worse by targeting revolutionaries and tribesmen eager to rid Yemen of the US, rather than any pesky al-Qaeda terrorists. After all, what use is Yemen if it becomes independent and kicks out the real sponsors of terrorism—Washington and its allies, namely Saudi Arabia and European partners?
Hadi of course approves of US drone strikes in Yemen, as part of the White House and State Department’s “Partnering with the People of Yemen”. Yemen’s revolution is effectively over in the eyes of UN, EU and GCC powers, and they have stopped at nothing to control its current “transition”. There has been mounting violence by rival armed groups in Yemen, including Houthi rebels, al-Qaeda and IS. The UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting, perhaps hoping for a Pascal resurrection of a peaceful Yemen (long ago crucified by US lust). President Hadi already fled to the southern port city of Aden after the capital was taken over by Houthis last month.
Late on Saturday, US State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke confirmed the start of the US Stalingrad retreat: “Due to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, the US government has temporarily relocated its remaining personnel out of Yemen,” though it would continue to support Yemen’s “political transition” and monitor terrorist threats emanating from the country, adding in a Hillaryesque nonsequitur: “There is no military solution to Yemen’s current crisis.” On Friday, President Hadi resolutely demanded that the rebels withdraw from Sanaa in his first televised address since fleeing the city.
The Muslim world has had more than its share of US-backed coups—Syria (1949+), Iran (1953), Turkey (1960, 1971, 1980), Iraq (1963), Libya (1969), Pakistan (1977), Yemen (1978). And they all backfired. Yemen’s travails are merely the latest in this sordid litany.
Just as communism arose out of the contradictions of imperialism a century ago, Islamic revolution is the inevitable result of today’s version of imperialism. IS may be harsh and uncompromising, but it should be treated with respect, not vilified. The caliphate project, implementing sharia, the determination to overthrow the Saudi monarchy, the rejection of fiat money—these are legitimate goals and deserve serious analysis. The caliphate project is now on track after almost a century of Muslim humiliation; the corrupt Saudi Arabia is identified as the Muslim world’s ‘enemy at home’. Given the continually exploding financial crises in the West, ISIS says the new gold-backed currency will take the group out of “the oppressors’ money system”, and return control over the money supply from bankers to the state.
They are the bottom line for Muslims.
Eric Walberg is the author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games.