‘Yemen instability represents failed US policy throughout region’
Despite the Pentagon’s claims that the deployment of US forces in Yemen has to do with fighting Al-Qaeda, their main objectives there are to prevent and contain the influence of Iran, said Abayomi Azikiwe, editor at Pan-African News Wire.
The US sends so-called advisers to Yemen. Pentagon officials claim that the move is aimed at tackling Al-Qaeda, which has been quietly gaining strength there.
RT:Washington is again avoiding the term “boots on the ground,” and now goes for “advisers” and “limited support.” Why is that?
Abayomi Azikiwe: There has been this denial in regard to escalating a military intervention by the Pentagon in various Middle Eastern states due in large part to the disasters over the last 25 years. We can look at Iraq, we can look at Afghanistan, we can look at the situation in Libya and also the situation in Syria, and of course in Yemen. The US some 14 months ago withdrew special forces; they evacuated their embassy in Yemen. That signaled the Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] coalition to begin a bombing campaign, which has continued for over the last 14 months not against Al-Qaeda and other Islamist extremist organizations, but against the [Jund] Ansar Allah. The Houthi movement… is in alliance with Islamic Republic of Iran – their objective is to stop the Houthi movement across Yemen. If you look at the alliances that were formed against the advances of the Houthi, [they] have nothing to do with the fight against Al-Qaeda. In fact, Al-Qaeda- linked organizations in Yemen were allying with the Saudi GCC forces – and that has been the case now since last year.
RT:The State Department confirmed that the rise of Al-Qaeda in Yemen is being caused by the chaos on the ground. But what contributed to this instability in the first place?
AA: It’s been a failed US policy in Yemen. It’s been several years that they have been carrying out this so-called targeted associations against Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula. But mostly people who have been killed were not the Al-Qaeda operatives – many of them were innocent civilians, or people who could not be directly linked to Al-Qaeda. What we have in Yemen is a representation of a failed US policy throughout the region. It’s absurd for Peter Cook, the spokesperson for the Pentagon, to even suggest that this redeployment of US forces has anything to do with fighting Al-Qaeda. Their main objectives there are to prevent and contain the influence of Iran. This ties in with their foreign policy in Syria, where they’ve backed these extremist organizations which have caused tremendous death and destruction in Syria, and of course they are reentering Iraq. They have deployed additional troops to Syria. As well, they are jockeying for another deployment into Libya in North Africa. So this is a representation of the same policy that emanates from successive US administrations – both Democratic, as well as Republican.
RT:The news about sending the military into Yemen quietly emerged on Friday evening. The decision was taken without public debate or the approval of Congress. What do you think about the timing and the way the decision was taken?
AA: These are the tactics that are utilized now. They don’t want this in the public view. It could prompt debate among newspaper, editorial boards, among public, intellectuals, independent media personnel. So these are the people they do not want to inform about the actual policies in Yemen.
At the same time there is an election here in the US. Most of the corporate media and the government-controlled media are covering what is going on with Donald Trump, with Hillary Clinton. That is a diversion from the actual foreign policy that is taking place. And foreign policy hasn’t been a major point of discussion in the debates or in the overall campaign over the last several months.
RT:The UN has described what's going on in Yemen as a 'humanitarian catastrophe' as a result of the Saudi-coalition air campaign there. How do you assess the fact that America actively supports the Saudis’ bombardments of Yemenis, while at the same time tries to support Yemen in fighting Al-Qaeda?
AA: Well, I don’t believe they are supporting the Yemenis against Al-Qaeda, because Al-Qaeda has been supported by Saudi Arabia and its allies. The US is providing intelligence to the Saudi GCC coalition, which has been bombing Yemen for the last 14 months, resulting in the deaths of at least 10,000 people, the displacement of two million people inside the country... And they are also providing refilling technology to the GCC air campaign, which is utilizing US-made F-16 fighter jets and other forms of Arab bombardment technology against the people of Yemen. These are the people on the ground who’re being targeted by this US-backed and coordinated coalition, and that is the real struggle as far as US imperialism is concerned in Yemen.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.