Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

Fostering and countering terrorism in Yemen

Filed under: Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, Diplomacy, Military, USA — by Jane Novak at 7:48 am on Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The US CT industry in Yemen is sketched out in the following excerpts from Inside Yemen’s Shadow War Asenal at Foreign Policy BY GORDON LUBOLD, NOAH SHACHTMAN

Since November of 2011, the United States has pledged nearly $600 million to Yemen for everything from spy drones to opinion polls to pickup trucks as part of a shadow war to fight terrorism there. But how much Washington is getting for its money is an open question, even within U.S. government circles…

Only a portion of the $600 million committed since late 2011 goes directly to fight terrorism — about $250 million, according to State Department officials. The rest goes towards “helping to strengthen governance and institutions on which Yemen’s long-term progress depends,” as then-White House counterterrorism czar (and unofficial envoy to Yemen) John Brennan explained last year. That includes cash to “empower women,” “combat corruption,” and provide “food vouchers, safe drinking water, and basic health services,” Brennan added.

But even that non-military aid can sometimes come with a hard edge. Last year, the State Department paid out $2.2 million to Griffin Security, a Yemeni contractor specializing in “close protection,” “surveillance systems,” and “maritime security services,” according to the company’s website. On June 26, Foggy Bottom sent another $3.1 million to Advanced C4 Solutions, a Tampa-based business with strong military and intelligence community ties, for an unspecified “administrative management” contract. Six days later, the State Department executed a second, $1.3 million deal with the same firm — which publicly declares itself a specialist in computer network attacks — for “translation and interpretation services.”

(JN-The US Air Force suspended Advanced C4 in 2011 for shoddy and unfinished work, and the firm was nearly excluded from any more work for the US gov’t.)

Overt security assistance was put on hold for about a year when former President Ali Abdullah Saleh brutally cracked down on his people. But that ban has been lifted, and the spigot is once again open. The Pentagon is outfitting the Yemenis with weapons, short takeoff and landing spy planes, night vision goggles, and even Raven drones to help Yemeni security forces to strengthen their effectiveness against internal threats and extremist activity, according to defense officials…

“We need to remember that we have done at least as badly in planning and managing aid as the worst recipient country has done in using it,” said Tony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Nonetheless, a variety of programs aim to directly achieve American security objectives in Yemen. During 2012, for instance, the Pentagon spent about $14 million on a single U.S. Special Operations Forces counterterrorism enhancement program in which a limited number of American military personnel provided training and equipment — from small arms and ammo to radios to rigid hull inflatable boats to night vision goggles to navigational systems — to Yemen’s counterterrorists. Another program, referred to in Pentagon briefing papers as the “Fixed-Wing Capability Program,” spends about $23 million “by providing equipment and training to improve the operational reach and reaction time of Yemen’s CT forces,” including two short take-off and landing aircraft. The United States spends another $75 million on building the counterterrorism unit of Yemen’s Central Security Forces.

During 2013, the Pentagon spent nearly $50 million on what’s called an “integrated border and maritime security” program to help the Yemenis be more effective with aerial surveillance and ground mobility, according to a defense official. That helped the Yemenis build up the capacity to monitor threats along the country’s nearly 1,200 mile coastline. The program includes 12 short take-off and landing aircraft, each with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities, as well as flight and maintenance crews.

The United States has spent other money on Yemen, including $24 million the Coast Guard spent to build two 87-foot coastal patrol boats, and another $11 million for about 340 F-350 Ford pickup trucks, according to publicly-available contracting data. Another $27 million was spent for a contract with Bell Helicopter for four Huey II helicopters within the last three years.

Two years ago, the polling firm Gallup, Inc. was paid more than $280,000 for a “Yemen Assessment Survey.” Around the same time, Yemen was part of a major contract to provide crew-served weapons, gun mounts, and stands for .50 caliber weapons. Last year, the Army paid $3 million to Harris Corporation for radios for the Yemenis, and the Navy paid $5.4 million for aircraft engines and spare parts for CASA 235 transport planes. Also last year, the Army paid $1.9 million for tactical UAVs in both Kenya and in Yemen.

Ties into my 2012 article State Dep’t ends Yemen arms embargo

UN SC res 2051 Yemen

Filed under: Diplomacy, Donors, UN — by Jane Novak at 7:43 pm on Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Its so contradictory

June 12, 2012

UN diplo.de:

Security Council: Text of Resolution 2051 (2012) Resolution on Yemen
Jun 12, 2012

The Security Council,

Pp1 Recalling its resolution 2014 (2011) and presidential statement of 29 March 2012,

Pp2 Expressing grave concern at the political, security, economic and humanitarian situation in Yemen,

Pp3 Reaffirming its strong commitment to the unity, sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Yemen,

Pp4 Welcoming the Secretary-General’s statement of 21 May 2012 encouraging all sides to play a full and constructive role in implementing Yemen’s political Transition Agreement in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2014,

Pp5 Noting the co-chairs’ statement following the Friends of Yemen Ministerial meeting in Riyadh on 23 May 2012 and the support expressed for the political Transition Agreement in accordance with the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative and Implementation Mechanism, including the proposal by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to host a donor meeting in late June 2012,

Pp6 Expressing grave concern at the security situation and continuing terrorist attacks, in particular by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, within Yemen, and reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable regardless of their motivations,

Pp7 Condemning all terrorist, and other, attacks against civilians, oil, gas and electricity infrastructure and against the legitimate authorities, including those aimed at undermining the political process in Yemen, including the attack in Sana’a on 21 May 2012,

Pp8 Noting the formidable economic and social challenges confronting Yemen, which have left many Yemenis in acute need of humanitarian assistance,

Pp9 Welcoming the Government of National Unity’s focus on short term stabilisation of the economy through implementation of the IMF Rapid Credit Facility programme,

Pp10 Stressing that the best solution to the situation in Yemen is through a peaceful, inclusive, orderly and Yemeni-led political transition process that meets the legitimate demands and aspirations of the Yemeni people for peaceful change and meaningful political, economic and social reform, as set forth in the GCC Initiative and Implementation Mechanism and in resolution 2014 (2011),

Pp11 Recalling that the transition process requires the involvement and cooperation of all sides in Yemen, including groups that were not party to the GCC Initiative and its Implementation Mechanism,

Pp12 Expressing concern at the recent deterioration of cooperation among some political actors and actions that could adversely affect or delay the political transition process,
Pp13 Reiterating the need for comprehensive, independent and impartial investigations consistent with international standards into alleged human rights violations and abuses, to ensure full accountability,

Pp14 Welcoming the continuing engagement of the Secretary-General’s good offices including the visits to Yemen by his Special Adviser, Mr Jamal Benomar,

Pp15 Mindful of its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security under the Charter of the United Nations, and emphasizing the need for progress in the implementation of the GCC Initiative and Implementation Mechanism to avoid further deterioration of the humanitarian and security situation in Yemen that threatens peace and security in the region,

Op1 Reaffirms the need for the full and timely implementation of the GCC Initiative and Implementation Mechanism in accordance with resolution 2014 (2011);

Op2 Calls upon all sides in Yemen immediately to reject the use of violence to achieve political goals;

Op3 Notes that in line with the Implementation Mechanism the second phase of the transition process should focus on:

(a) convening an all-inclusive National Dialogue Conference,

(b) restructuring of the security and armed forces under a unified professional national leadership structure and the ending of all armed conflicts,

(c) steps to address transitional justice and to support national reconciliation

(d) constitutional and electoral reform and the holding of general elections by February 2014;

op4 Supports the efforts of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi and the Government of National Unity to move the transition process forward, including through security sector reform and changes in senior appointments in the security and armed forces, and the launch of the preparatory process for convening the National Dialogue Conference;

op5 Emphasizes the importance of conducting a fully-inclusive, participatory, transparent and meaningful National Dialogue Conference including with the youth and women’s groups and calls upon all stakeholders in Yemen to participate actively and constructively in this process;

op6 Demands the cessation of all actions aimed at undermining the Government of National Unity and the political transition, including continued attacks on oil, gas and electricity infrastructure, and interference with decisions relating to the restructuring of the armed and security forces, and obstructing the implementation of the Presidential Decrees of 6 April 2012 concerning military and civilian appointments, and expresses its readiness to consider further measures, including under Article 41 of the UN Charter if such actions continue;

op7 Stresses that all those responsible for human rights violations and abuses must be held accountable, and underlining the need for a comprehensive, independent and impartial investigation consistent with international standards into alleged human rights abuses and violations, to prevent impunity and ensure full accountability;

op8 Notes with concern that children continue to be recruited and used by armed groups and certain elements of the military, and calls for continued national efforts to discourage the use and recruitment of child soldiers;

op9 Reminds the Yemeni Government and other actors of the need to release immediately those protesters unlawfully detained during the crisis;

op10 Urges the Yemeni Government to pass legislation on transitional justice to support reconciliation without further delay;

op11 Calls on all parties to comply with applicable international law including international humanitarian law and human rights law;

op12 Calls for the international community, including the UN and GCC, in particular through the Friends of Yemen, to provide active and increasing support to help the Yemeni government meet the forthcoming political, security, economic and humanitarian challenges;

op13 Encourages the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to Yemen and calls for the full funding of the 2012 Humanitarian Response Plan, and in this regard requests all parties in Yemen to facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to ensure the delivery of assistance to populations in need;

op14 Emphasises the importance of Government of National Unity finalising and agreeing their two year development plan to set out priority policy areas and funding modalities, as well as to identify key areas for reform, and requests all donors to support the development plan through established funding modalities and to contribute to the forthcoming donor conference;

op15 Expresses its concern over the growing number of attacks carried out or sponsored by Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, and its determination to address this threat in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and international law including applicable human rights, refugee and humanitarian law;

op16 Requests the Secretary-General to continue his good offices role, including through the efforts of his Special Adviser, Jamal Benomar, stresses the importance of their close co-ordination with international partners in order to contribute to the successful transition in Yemen, and in this regard welcomes the political engagement of the United Nations through a small presence in Yemen consisting of a team of experts to support the implementation of the transition process, and to provide advice to the parties in conjunction with the government of Yemen, in particular in support of the National Dialogue process;

op17 Requests the Secretary-General to continue to coordinate assistance from the international community in support of the National Dialogue and transition, as stipulated in the Implementation Mechanism of the GCC Initiative;

op 18 Requests the Secretary-General to continue to report on developments in Yemen every 60 days;

op19 Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.

US Attorney General Holder affirms “lawful” use of drones (no attacks targeting civilians)

Filed under: Air strike, Counter-terror, Diplomacy, South Yemen, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 9:59 am on Thursday, March 8, 2012

In a speech this week, the US Attorney General Eric Holder laid out the Obama administration’s legal criteria for drone use and in particular for assassinating American al Qaeda members abroad. The criteria is summarized below by the Lawfare blog. More importantly than the targeting of Anwar Awlaki and Samir Khan for me, and for the residents of Abyan, Marib, Shabwa, etc., AG Holder reaffirmed the Obama administration’s firm commitment to act within the “international rules of war.”

With the recent uptick in AQAP activity and growing territorial occupation, people too poor to flee al Qaeda are terrified of both AQ and drone attacks. Hopefully this statement by AG Holder represents a real and ongoing commitment by the Obama administration to the principle of civilian immunity and US respect for the value of Yemeni lives.

AQAP does not follow the rules of war, and uses human shields, sheltering in civilian populated areas. The US has been targeting vehicle convoys, not towns. The shelling in Zinibar was from the Yemeni military, not US drones.

After grave US errors like al Mahfad (and the utterly shameful US statement that nearby Bedouins and their children were guilty of material support for selling vegetables, although the villagers had appealed to local authorities to expel the terrorists) and Saleh’s murder of his political enemy Sheik al Shabwani via US drone, visible US drones make parents very concerned. At the same time, the drones have been visible in Marib and many other locations since 2010, and I would think they are collecting surveillance photos.

I think/hope/pray the US understands that these are unwillingly occupied towns, that intel from the Saleh family is entirely unreliable, the CT units have been partially subverted by AQ and that in all cases, children under 14 cannot be terrorists.

The attitude of Yemenis is that al Qaeda should be captured, given a fair trial and imprisoned if there is actual evidence of crimes. They do not oppose counter-terror operations per se but summary execution without trial, just like many Americans who raised objections over Awlaki and Khan.

Boston Herald: Speaking at Northwestern University law school, Holder gave the most complete explanation to date of the Obama administration’s legal rationale for killing people like U.S.-born Anwar al-Awlaki, who was targeted in an airstrike in Yemen last year.

Such killings can be ordered “in full accordance with the Constitution” but require “at least” an imminent threat in a situation where capture is not feasible, and when the strike is “conducted in a manner consistent” with the rules of war, Holder said.

The lawfare summary brings up another issue though, “a senior operational role,” which presupposes that the US knows who it is droning. While the criteria Holder outlined is for deliberate targeting of US citizens, it would be nice to think that the US has some clue as to the names of its Yemeni targets and doesn’t just look for random gatherings of bearded men. In Yemen, the most accurate fatality listing of US drone strikes comes from al Qaeda itself, and the Yemeni government announced Qasim al Reimi was dead four times.

While I imagine there are vast challenges to intelligence gathering on AQAP, it is this imprecision that can lead to collateral damage or more accurately, dead children. I still haven’t gotten over the photos of the crucifixion of the “spies,” but logically a modicum of respect for southerners as southerners in general would go a long way. The language of SD spox Victoria Nuland’s Press Briefing 3/5/12 blew southerners minds, and she probably had no clue how very poorly and furiously it would be received.

via Lawfare’s summary: That is, the speech asserts that Due Process permits targeting of a citizen at least when the target is:

(i) located abroad rather than in the United States,

(ii) has a senior operational role

(iii) with al Qaeda or an al Qaeda-associated force,

(iv) is involved in plotting focused on the death of Americans in particular,

(v) that threat is “imminent” in the sense that this is the last clear window of opportunity to strike,

(vi) there is no feasible option for capture without undue risk, and

(vii) the strike will comply with the IHL principles of necessity, distinction, proportionality, and humanity.

What is the acceptable metric of civilian causality per each suspected al Qaeda targeted? Much, much lower than Afghanistan I hope. Its a very volatile situation.

US to resume military training in Yemen prior to restructing military

Filed under: Counter-terror, Diplomacy, Donors, UN, Military, Security Forces, USA, state jihaddists — by Jane Novak at 11:25 am on Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hows that going to work? Clearly the Yemeni forces are not up to the challenge without support considering yesterday’s bloodbath. But how to offset the AQAP subversion, root out the corrupt and purge the murderers while training is ongoing, (it didn’t work so well in the past), al Qaeda is attacking and restructure the Yemeni military simultaneously. Southerners, Houthis and other excluded groups have to be integrated into the new military for balance. Meanwhile its been AQAP’s goal to draw in US military forces.

US officials’ statements alienating southerners en masse (al Qaeda’s unwilling captive and nearby communities) isn’t helping overall efforts.

US and Yemeni officials have agreed to restart a controversial military-training program to help the new president tackle Al Qaeda militants as part of planned enhanced counter-terrorism relationship.

While President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi has openly turned to Washington as he attempts to get the upper hand over the terrorist group, his policy may have a key drawback — upsetting the delicate political balance of power in the country and complicating the sensitive task of overhauling the nation’s fractured security forces.

Dozens of US special operations forces already on the ground are set to resume training of counterterrorism forces after a lull last year amid a wave of new sophisticated assaults by the Yemeni branch of the terrorist group and loosely linked jihadi groups. FOX

US cannot increase drone use in Yemen without providing shelter for civilians

Filed under: Abyan, Aden, Air strike, Al-Qaeda, Counter-terror, Diplomacy, GCC, South Yemen, USA, Yemen, shabwa — by Jane Novak at 6:43 pm on Thursday, February 2, 2012

Yemenis are fleeing (not joining) al Qaeda where ever they appear. However the vast majority of civilians lack the funds to rent an apartment or to buy food once they leave their farms and possessions behind to be looted by AQAP. But if they stay, they are subject to both al Qaeda dictatorship and US drones. The US may label those who don’t flee as collateral damage or as providing material support (as the Bedouins were in the Dec 2009 US strike in Abyan that killed 43 women and children when General Patraeus implied they were acceptable deaths because they selling vegetable to AQAP, despite the fact the villagers had appealed twice to local authorities to expel the group.)

Certainly AQAP bears the responsibility for sheltering in populated areas in the first place but people in the al Qaeda occupied territories of Yemen want to know where the refugee camps are. Seriously, where are they supposed to go? And it is a US problem when an al Qaeda presence means the potential of US drone strikes. The 120,000 who fled Zinjibar last May are still in the schools of Aden. I know Yemenis’ rights are very low on Obama’s priority list, but there must be a part of the plan to increase US drone use that will deal with the public panic and mass displacement that will occur as US drones follow AQ from province to province threatening people’s lives and homes. Over 15,000 fled Raada within days of Tariq al Dhahab’s (and al Wahishi’s) appearance. They were escaping both the al Qaeda fanaticism and the threat of US drones.

While the Obama administration may try to maintain the myth in the US that they know exactly who they are hitting, and its always a precise targeting, the non-lethal impact on civilians must be considered as well. The US is playing right into al Qaedas hands with nearly every policy from the re-imposition of a dictatorship through the GCC deal to Saleh’s visit to increased drones. The US is focused on vulnerable land when it should be focused on vulnerable people.

Basically, the US is going to bomb Yemen in order to pull off an uncontested election that nobody wants (except the US, the GPC and Islah elites) in the interest of “stability.” If the expired parliament gave Saleh immunity, it can appoint Hadi. The bogus show election isn’t worth more Yemeni lives or the displacement of tens of thousands, and it certainly wont confer legitimacy when there’s only one candidate that was selected by the US. The most politically disenfranchised are going to boycott anyway: civil minded protesters, southerners and Houthis.

The National: Yemen will increasingly rely on US drone strikes to target Islamist militants threatening to disrupt a transfer of power this month, Yemeni government officials said.

The president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is meant to hand over power to his vice president, Abdurabu Mansur Hadi, on February 22.

The run up to the transfer is being overshadowed by growing protests, including within the military, which have grounded Yemen’s air force across much of the country.

Two aides in Mr Hadi’s office said they expected a rise in drone attacks against Al Qaeda militants.

The strikes will be intensified only if necessary, to ensure that militant groups do not expand in vulnerable areas, said one of the aides. Both asked to remain anonymous. (Read on …)

Yemeni protesters calls for US Ambassador’s dismissal

Filed under: Diplomacy, Protest Fatalities, Taiz, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 4:37 pm on Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The CCYRC issued a letter reminding the US President that the Yemeni protesters oppose and are not a signatory to the GCC deal. the group calls for an official apology from the US as they say Ambassador Feierstein uniformly rude, disrespectful and insulting to the Yemeni people and has acted as the Saleh regime’s advocate and protector and with flagerant disregard for democratic principles. In particular the CCYRC condemn Feierstein’s most recent inflammatory statement wherein the Ambassador said the Life March was not a inherently peaceful as it was designed to provoke violence. Within hours, state forces killed 12 marchers.

The ambassador’s statement is below and I was waiting for an English transcript issued by the embassy but there doesn’t appear to be one coming. I find it unbelievable that the US Ambassador would demand political passivity from the Yemeni public. He blamed the peaceful marchers for any violence and chaos that the march triggers, which is akin to calling Dr. Martin Luther King an instigator of chaos and implying that the US civil rights marchers should have stayed home or that Medger Evans was responsible for his own murder because of his activism.

Al-Ariky Al-Mohammed By: توكل كرمان Tawakkol Karman
// translated from Arabic

The U.S. Ambassador in Sana’a is a devil’s advocate and friend of the criminal thugs!!
—–
Online social and news networks lately have been talking about the comments made by the U.S ambassador in Yemen on the violence that accompanied the march of life that came from the city of Taiz on foot which led to the killing of more than thirteen and injuring hundreds. The U.S ambassador said that the march of life « was not peaceful »; He added “the protester had no intention of a peaceful march and they intended to reach Sana’a and cause trouble which would provoke and lead the security forces to respond with violence”. (Read on …)

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