Armies of Liberation

Jane Novak's blog about Yemen

Obama’s UN speech

Filed under: USA — by Jane Novak at 2:49 pm on Tuesday, September 25, 2012

As much as I’m critical of the Obama administration’s Yemen policy, I thought it was very good speech Obama gave yesterday at the UN. He explained the US government is prohibited from restricting free speech or meddling in religious affairs and why the First Amendment is so essential to the US. Also he highlighted the US’s religious diversity and said that the same rabid intolerance directed towards the US is more often directed toward diverse groups internally and is the antithesis of equal rights. And he said that we as a people believe the way to answer hateful speech is with not violence but better speech, which is self evident here but obviously is not abroad.

OBAMA: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to begin today by telling you about an American named Chris Stevens. Chris was born in a town called Grass Valley, California, the son of a lawyer and a musician.

As a young man, Chris joined the Peace Corps and taught English in Morocco, and he came to love and respect the people of North Africa and the Middle East. He would carry that commitment throughout his life.

As a diplomat, he worked from Egypt to Syria, from Saudi Arabia to Libya. He was known for walking the streets of the cities where he worked, tasting the local food, meeting as many people as he could, speaking Arabic, listening with a broad smile.

Chris went to Benghazi in the early days of the Libyan revolution, arriving on a cargo ship. As America’s representative, he helped the Libyan people as they coped with violent conflict, cared for the wounded, and crafted a vision for the future in which the rights of all Libyans would be respected.

And after the revolution, he supported the birth of a new democracy, as Libyans held elections, and built new institutions, and began to move forward after decades of dictatorship.

Chris Stevens loved his work. He took pride in the country he served, and he saw dignity in the people that he met.

Two weeks ago, he travelled to Benghazi to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital. That’s when America’s compound came under attack. Along with three of his colleagues, Chris was killed in the city that he helped to save. He was 52 years old.

I tell you this story because Chris Stevens embodied the best of America. Like his fellow Foreign Service officers, he built bridges across oceans and cultures, and was deeply invested in the international cooperation that the United Nations represents.

He acted with humility, but he also stood up for a set of principles: a belief that individuals should be free to determine their own destiny, and live with liberty, dignity, justice and opportunity.

The attacks on the civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America. We are grateful for the assistance we received from the Libyan government and from the Libyan people.

There should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.

And I also appreciate that in recent days the leaders of other countries in the region — including Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen — have taken steps to secure our diplomatic facilities and called for calm, and so have religious authorities around the globe.

But understand, the attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They’re also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded: the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully, that diplomacy can take the place of war, that in an interdependent world all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity and security for our citizens.

If we are serious about upholding these ideals, it will not be enough to put more guards in front of an embassy or to put out statements of regret and wait for the outrage to pass. If we are serious about these ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of the crisis, because we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart and the hopes that we hold in common.

Today we must reaffirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens, and not by his killers. Today we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our united nations. (Read on …)

Saleh’s office says no US visa in order to continue USS Cole cover-up

Filed under: USS Cole, deposed pres — by Jane Novak at 7:53 am on Monday, September 24, 2012

Its not wise to believe whats in any of the Yemeni partisan papers without a strong dose of skepticism, but the articles are usually half true if not more, and always well spun. The challenge is figuring out which half is fact and which half is fiction and spin.

The following article in the Yemen Observer is quoting an article in the pro-Saleh Yemen Today reporting that Saleh’s office said the US denied him a visa to protect him from questioning related to the 2000 al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole which the US would find embarrassing. Saleh’s office also says President Hadi was concerned for his health and asked Saleh to go to the US for treatment.

So either: 1) the US denied the visa for other reasons and Saleh is lying and trying to appear under the protection of the US, or 2) the embassy denied the visa for their own reasons and told Saleh they were protecting themselves or 3) the embassy denied the visa to save the US from embarrassment as he said. And what a disaster the timeline of the Cole attack is, from well before the attack up to 9/11, from President Clinton through the two Bush terms to the current Obama/Clinton stewardship.

If Saleh is being protected by the US in order to keep his mouth shut, as repugnant as that would be, it would explain the entire US Yemen policy from the beginning of the 2011 revolution until today which otherwise makes little sense. The immunity clause for Saleh and his government is unheard of in international law, yet the US strong armed all the parties into accepting it and Saleh’s continued presence in Yemen. No one in their right mind would ever expect Saleh to give up power quietly and fade away. His disrupting the transition was the sure bet.

There’s more secrets beyond the Cole like the disappearing CT funds, weapons and equipment, and the diversion of US trained CT units to Saada and against unarmed protesters. There’s also the head of the CT unit’s multi-million dollar condos in DC, referring of course to Ahmed Saleh, deposed president Ali Saleh’s son. So even freezing Saleh’s assets might be embarrassing. Returning Saleh’s funds to the Yemeni treasury remains a top demand of the protesters and it would have been the logic first step in dis-empowering him.

Saleh would not leave Yemen for any reason Yemen Observer, Written By: Nasser Arrabyee, Article Date: Sep 23, 2012

The Yemeni former President Ali Abdullah Saleh would not leave Yemen now, nor in the future, said sources in his office on Friday.

“The former President Ali Abdullah Saleh has not any desire to leave his homeland for any reason whatsoever,” said Yemen Today daily, quoted the sources as saying. Yemen Today is one of Saleh’s party newspapers.

“Yemen needs Saleh in such circumstances, so he should not leave now nor in the future,” the paper said.

Earlier in the week,the US ambassador to Yemen Gerald Feierstien said that the American embassy delayed a visa request for Saleh and a number of his companions. Mr Feierstein said in a press conference earlier this week in Sanaa, that the time was not appropriate for Saleh to visit US for further treatments.

The Saleh ’s office told the paper,however, that Feierstein justified the delay of Saleh’s visa by saying the time of the visit would coincide with the trial of the Yemeni Guantanamo detainee Abdul Rahim Al Nashiri who is accused of bombing the USS Cole in Aden Harbor in 2000 in which 19 American sailors were killed. The American court may recall Saleh for testimony over the Cole issue, Feierstein justified according to the paper.

Saleh’s testimony would cause embarrassment to the US Administration, the paper said.

Earlier this year, the American court asked Saleh, when he was in a treatment trip in US, and wax still in power, to attend for testimony over the Cole issue, but he refused.

Saleh’s office also said that Saleh had never asked for the visa, but Mr Feierstein and President Hadi insisted on him to go to United States for further treatments. Respecting that insistence for his health, Saleh handed his passport and passports of his companions for visa process.

Good luck to Yemeni President Hadi!

Filed under: Donors, UN, Investment, Pres Hadi, UK, USA — by Jane Novak at 8:47 am on Sunday, September 23, 2012

President Hadi arrived today in the UK, its his first stop due to the two nations’ long historic ties. The Yemeni interim president is facing monumental challenges and hopefully the trip will garner real support for a civil state in Yemen and cement a self-development strategy beneficial to all Yemenis.

SANAA, Sept. 22 — Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi will head to the United States next week, as the first trip to the U.S. since taking power in February, a Yemeni government official said on Saturday. (Read on …)

US Amb at Yemen National Dialog prep meeting prompts Houthis withdrawal, Updated: Southerners to withdraw over replacements

Filed under: National Dialog Committee, Sa'ada, Saada War, USA, War Crimes — by Jane Novak at 9:45 am on Monday, September 17, 2012

9/22: FNA: Following disputes last week between members of the Technical Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue, first over Presidential Decree of 17 September and then over the presence of the US ambassador during an ordinary meeting with the Group of 10, the ordinary meeting for Saturday 22 September was suspended Friday evening.

A member of the Committee indicated other matters added to the reasons given to suspend the ordinary meeting. One reason was the failure to secure a meeting with President Hadi prior to his departure for London this week. Ms. Basha also indicated due to some members boycotting Committee meetings since last week the Saturday meeting would have lacked quorum.

Update 1: the replacement of the southern representative with Abdullah Hassan has or will prompt withdrawal of the southern delegation. More broadly, many southerners believe that north/south discussions is distinct, and dialog among northerners doesn’t concern them. I think if they came as a unified group who had the interests of southern citizens at the forefront, they could accomplish a lot of good, but there is the perpetual political posturing some of which is a holdover from the 1980’s.

Update 2: Wow, Feierstein tries public diplomacy for once and remarks on the arrival of the Marines; its a protection team for the embassy with a limited deployment in time and space, below.

Original: Today especially, when the entire Middle East is protesting the US, Feierstein decides he’s going to ride roughshod on the Houthis, in person. He could have at least asked before barging into the room. Its obvious his presence would prompt a response from the Houthis who marched against him yesterday from Change Square to Hadi’s house, and avoided the US embassy altogether. The main thing its to get the Houthis enfranchised and make the dialog happen, not to exert US hegemony over every step.

Things will be a lot less tense once Feierstien completes his term, and an extension would be a very bad idea. Also its a good idea to get a set of fresh eyes in the embassy, because Feierstein is factually wrong in certain areas and one driver of the disastrous US policy in Yemen.

Just a point, the Clinton State Department was extremely laid back when Saleh-paid thugs besieged several ambassadors including Gerald Feierstein for four hours in the UAE’s embassy where they gathered prior to signing the GCC agreement in May 2010. Finally they were flown out by helicopter, and Feierstein laughed and joked about it the same day. It was likely the same type of paid thugs who stormed and looted the US embassy this week.

Related: YT, Parliament rejects additional US Marines at embassy. At some points, diplomacy is actually called for. I think the position went to his head.

FNA: #Yemen – - Houthis withdraw from Technical Committee meeting FNA 17.09.2012 – Houthis withdrew from a meeting held by the Technical Committee, charged of preparing Yemen’s National Dialogue, in Sana’a this Monday morning, after U.S. ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein enter the room; arguing the diplomat was “overstepping national sovereignty boundaries.” Sharaf al Din and Mohammed al Bokhaiti – both representatives of Houthis on the Committee – expressed concerns over other factions’ lenience regarding the admission “of a foreign entity” at a meeting where “national security issues” were being discussed.

السفير الأمريكي بصنعاء جيرالد فايرستاين:
- أود أن أُعرب عن تقديري العميق للشعب اليمني لدعمهم السخي ورفضهم الواسع للعنف الذي وُجه ضد السفارة الأمريكية بصنعاء يوم الخميس الموافق 13 سبتمبر.
- بعد إجراء مشاورات وثيقة بين الولايات المتحدة والسلطات اليمنية، سيعمل عدد قليل من القوات الأمنية الإضافية وبشكلٍ مؤقت على المساعدة في جهود الأمن وإعادة الترتيب في السفارة. وتقتصر مهمة هؤلاء الأفراد على تقديم المساعدة في مرافقنا الدبلوماسية وحماية الدبلوماسيين الأمريكيين من العنف، ويعدُ التكليف المؤقت للقوات الإضافية لمساعدة البعثات الدبلوماسية الأمريكية التي تواجه تحديات أمنية شيئاً طبيعياً.
- تُكلف مثل هذه المجموعة على مدى قصير وبعد مشاورات وثيقة مع الحكومات المضيفة، كما أنها تعمل وفقاً للقانون الدولي.
-تم إتخاذ قرار إستخدام هذه المجموعة الصغيرة عقب مشاورات وثيقة أُجريت بين الولايات المتحدة والسلطات اليمنية.
- سنبقى صامدين، ليس فقط بالتزامنا في مساعدة الشعب اليمني، بل أيضاً في التزامنا بالصداقة الدائمة التي تطورت بين بلدينا وشعبينا. ومعاً، سنستمر في البناء على ذلك الأساس الذي وضعه أولئك الذين ضحوا كثيراً من أجل تحقيق تحولٍ سياسي سلمي ويمنٍ أكثر أمناً وديمقراطيةً وازدهاراً في المستقبل.

Polish intel warning to CIA on USS Cole attack was ignored: top Polish spy

Filed under: USS Cole, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 12:48 pm on Thursday, September 6, 2012

More weird stuff to go with all the other weird stuff regarding US govt actions and policy prior to and after the USS Cole bombing. The story here is that starting in 1999 Polish intel gave the CIA information for nearly a year on an impending al Qaeda attack on a US warship. The CIA investigated and didn’t find any corroborating evidence, and downplayed the likelihood of an attack to the Poles. Then al Qaeda blew up the USS Cole in the port of Aden. So what happened, the CIA missed it, despite the Polish intel and NSA’s constant surveillance of the Yemen hub? And then in the aftermath, the CIA withheld info on the suspects including two in the US who turned out to be 9/11 highjackers. The more you look at the Cole, the less it makes sense.

Makowski—who spent 20 years in the Polish espionage service and rose to the rank of colonel—also blames the CIA for the suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in October 2000, which claimed the lives of 17 American sailors.

“Beginning in 1999, for almost a year, we started giving information that bin Laden had made a decision to prepare an operation to attack U.S. warships in the Gulf,” Makowski told McClatchy. “There was a 27-person team… We told them who its leader was, his passport number [and] his Dubai identity card.”

About three months before the attack, according to Makowski, the CIA said they thought “such an attack is impossible.”

Gutman notes that Makowski’s former colleague Gromoslaw Czempinski—a legend at the CIA for leading the rescue of six U.S. intelligence officers from Iraq in 1990—vouched for his story.

Read more: Business Insider

(Read on …)

MEPC lists US’s drone policy in Yemen blowback potential

Filed under: Abyan, Air strike, USA, Yemen — by Jane Novak at 10:44 am on Tuesday, August 28, 2012

In a seven page article, the Middle East Policy Council questions whether signature strikes in particular result in creating a population more prone to accepting an Emirate. I have some quibbles, for example state authority didn’t disappear- it never existed- and much of the local population in Abyan saw Ansar al Sharia as an occupation not a welcome vehicle of lawfulness. But its an interesting report in that the authors extrapolate six distinct negative patters of drone blowback as indicated by earlier events in the FATA region:

Executive Executions and Signature Strikes

Currently, the United States engages in two types of drone strikes, and neither is the surgical excision of HVTs on which the American public’s enthusiasm for drones depends. Until early 2012, the United States only conducted “personality strikes,” in Yemen. These are authorized by the president in a form of executive execution. The targets have not been indicted for a crime, let alone convicted, and have been identified as enemy combatants through an opaque process. A significant percentage of the targets and victims of this type of strike in Yemen have been U.S. citizens (Ahmed Hijazi, Anwar al-Awlaki, Samir Khan and Abdul Rahman al-Awlaki). Their families have recently brought a civil suit in U.S. courts that will help clarify the obscure de facto parameters for executive executions.18

While there have been successful HVT strikes on non-U.S. citizens in Yemen, they probably follow the Pakistani pattern, alienating parts of the local population and increasing the insecurity that often fosters organizational recruitment. In fact, Yemen may provide a more significant example of this effect than FATA because of its complex internal situation, noted above. According to our calculations, only four HVTs have been killed out of 230-270 total deaths. This is roughly a 1:60 ratio of HVT to total deaths, comparable to the ratio in FATA under the Bush administration (before the proliferation of signature strikes).

In early 2012, the White House authorized the use of “signature strikes” in Yemen. This type of targeting allows for wider parameters, quicker response and authorization at a lower command level. Signature strikes have also been used in FATA. They are based on categories of possible target groups and patterns of movement rather than on identified individuals. For example, a group of militant-age men carrying weapons and moving towards a known militant area can be targeted under this practice. As some reports from Yemen note, the populace is not opposed to the use of drones when they target and hit known AQAP members.19 However, the introduction of signature strikes will likely change this dynamic, as it has in FATA. With signature strikes, accuracy in targeting will likely decrease, and more Yemenis unconnected to AQAP will be killed. (Read on …)

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