Rev Dr Jude

Sent to me from the Arkansas Green Party – What the US has done to Yemen!
May 22, 2012, 3:50 pm
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In the late winter of 2011, like Tunisia and Egypt before it, the youth of Yemen went into the streets of the capital Sana’a. It started small but escalated steadily and spread to other cities. They demanded the regime of President Saleh end immediately. He had ruled for 30+ years, acquired immeasurable wealth, placed family members at the top of every key economic, military and intelligence structure. The protestors saw the corruption and demanded an end. One thing allowed him to cling to power, the backing of the USA. Because he pledged to fight Al Qaeda, the US provided him assistance of all types.

The protests gained strength. But, like the Occupy movement, the protestors did not represent an existing political party. The weak and emasculated opposition sat back and watched. They did not provide their support to the demonstrators until late in the game, by then, the people in the street held more power than the opposition parties ever dared dream of. The US stepped in to broker a deal and keep Yemen from plunging into civil war of some type. (Considering Yemen started and remains fractured in so many ways, civil war always stands to the fore.)

Who did the US deal with? Well, the President and the Opposition parties. They chose to ignore the protestors for the most part. Unfortunately, the pro-western and pro-democracy sentiments resided in the crowds at Change Square at Sana’a University and in the Taiz’s renamed Change Square. The US dismissed the protestors as a nuisance and ultimately an impediment to the negotiation process. Meanwhile, the Saleh regime attacked and killed peaceful protestors with impunity. They even used US provided weapons meant to fight Al Qaeda. Instead, Saleh turned them on his people and the USA stood by and watched. Each time a deal got close, and invariably the protestors howled with derision at the proposals, the opposition would ask the protestors for a blessing and would not get it. After agreeing to something, they wisely bowed to the protestors and backed out.

The USA grew furious. They blamed the protestors for blocking their aims. The USA continued to back a transition while supporting Saleh’s basic requirements: 1) he could remain in Yemen, 2) he could keep all his wealth, 3) he would be immune from prosecution, 4) he could continue to run for office, 5) his family would all keep their positions (head of intelligence, head of army, head of telecom, head of airlines, etc.), 6) his family would get immunity from prosecution, 7) his family could run for office, and 8) his family could reside in Yemen.

This kept Saleh virtually in command of everything and still around if he so chose. (His health ultimately decided otherwise for him.) The protestors howled. The USG directed US-funded projects to push the demonstrators to accept the deal. They never did but the opposition and Saleh finally agreed. The legitimacy of the deal remains in dispute considering a sizable portion of the population refuses to accept it.

Saleh resigned and his Vice-president took over. The Saleh family remained firmly entrenched in key positions through the lifeblood of Yemen. The USA quickly arranged an election to confer legitimacy on the new regime. In an extremely democratic gesture (note irony), befitting the Politburo of the USSR, the election provided one candidate and a yes or no vote. Imagine the wrath and anger of all the souls who placed their life on the line and lost so many stalwart hearts in this struggle.

The USA got their way. A Yemen still controlled by Saleh’s family and a President chosen by a single candidate vote. Imagine if anyone tried that in the US itself. The protestors feel utterly betrayed. The tribes sense the weakness of the new regime and Yemen continues to fracture. Today, Al Qaeda re-appeared in Sana’a itself with scores dead and hundreds wounded.

What has the US really gotten? A weak illegitimate state with little or no control over huge swaths of the country. A huge youth movement no longer interested in the USA as a beacon of democracy and hope; they now see through the pipe dream. We made enemies where we had a great number of friends. The youth bulge is enormous in Yemen. How will they feel about the USA when they finally grow into power? And now, instability reaches the very streets of downtown Sana’a. All because we chose expediency over democracy and the hopes and aspirations of the people of Yemen.

At least, for the moment, we still have unlimited ability to launch extremely unpopular unmanned drones that violate the very sovereignty of Yemen. But at the rate Yemen free falls, can that luxury continue much longer?

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