US runs 'secret' military operations in Yemen
Wed, 27 Jan 2010

Washington has involved in secret joint operations in Yemen after President Barack Obama approved US military and intelligence teams to be dispatched to the country, the Washington Post revealed Wednesday.

The operations begun six weeks ago, involving troops from the US military's clandestine Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose main mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists, the Post reported.

The American agents are helping the Yemeni army develop tactics and providing Sana'a forces with electronic and video surveillance, as well as three-dimensional terrain maps, the report said.

In addition to "highly sensitive intelligence," the US is sending weapons and munitions to be used against what the White House describes as an al-Qaeda cell operating in the Arabian Peninsula, it added.

In late December, President Obama even approved a strike against a compound in southern Yemen where US citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi was allegedly meeting with regional "al-Qaeda leaders," the report added.

"We are very pleased with the direction this is going," the Washington Post quoted an unnamed senior administration official as saying of the cooperation with Yemen.

Washington has also been sending a steady stream of high-ranking officials to visit Sana'a, including the rarely seen JSOC commander Vice Adm. William McRaven, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, and head of US Central Command Gen. David Petraeus.

Earlier in January, the White House pledged $121 million in aid to help the unpopular Yemeni government crush uprisings.

However, amid rising concerns over the US role in military operations in Yemen, the government continues to its offensive against the country's Shia minorities in the north.

Backed by the Saudi military, the operation has left hundreds killed and tens of thousands displaced in the battle zone, prompting repeated warnings of a humanitarian disaster in the making from international organizations.


Is the War Against Terrorism Going to Save Yemen?

Mohammad Mekhlafi

Lawyer and member of the "Yemeni Joint Committee"
Arab Reform Iniative Press

Since the re-unification in 1989, foreign fighters from throughout the Arab world have entered Yemen. The number of "Afghan Mujahedeen" reached over 60,000 people. They were led by Usama bin Laden, and participated in the 1994 war against the country's south and the socialist party. President Ali Abdullah Saleh used them to break the society's resolve and to weaken the different political forces. His objective was to rule alone and transform the structure of power into a kin system. "Afghan Mujahedeen" were able to infiltrate Yemeni society and state apparatuses, including military and security bodies. Since this time, it is not clear if any distance between the Yemeni power structure and these terrorist organizations has been established. The ruling elite- in the name of the "War against Al-Qaeda" - is now trying to win support from abroad in order to annihilate political forces, continue accumulating power, and eventually ensure the succession of Saleh's son. The ruling power clearly suffers from a lack of popular legitimacy. The war in the north has become even further reaching and has taken on a regional dimension with the entrance of Saudi Arabia into the scene, as well as with the participation of the American armed forces in air strikes. These interventions will not lead to security or stability in the region; on the contrary, they will lead to a collapse of Yemeni national cohesion. These interventions are deepening the Yemeni crisis in two ways. First, the ruling power is using the war as a source of legitimacy, and will use foreign intervention to prolong the conflict and profit from it. It will seek to continue to encourage a widespread civil war by giving support to armed tribal and regional factions, such as the Committee in Defense of Unity, the Phalanges of Jihad, and the Popular Army. Even if the Houthi rebellion in the north were to accept a truce in the coming days, it would only be temporary. There is every reason to believe that the conflict will flare up again even more dramatically and expand.

Second, the February 2009 agreement between the government and the political opposition alliance to delay elections for two years and prolong the mandates of the current government and parliament was designed to prepare a national consensus among all Yemeni political forces. The government is now using the war in order to free itself of dialogue and existing accords. The opposition, as represented by the Joint Committee and the Pacific Mobilization of the South, will be treated with more violence, and the ruling power will free itself of its responsibility towards development and the fight against poverty and unemployment. This will incite new ingredients for further uprising and will render the country more likely to enter into a total civil war. The destruction of terrorist organizations can only take place via national consensus and a common political strategy with all political parties of Yemen participating. However, national consensus requires serious dialogue with no group excluded. Today, the ruling power - strengthened by international support - refuses to continue such a process. Yemen is entering into a vicious cycle.