Thursday, 7 January 2010

Obama and Brown offer "undie bomber" as pretext for aggression in Yemen

Hat tip to the "NO to Military Action in Yemen!" Facebook group

On Christmas Day, Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. The attempt failed, the only casualty being Abdulmutallab's pubic hair. However, the reaction to the "undie bomber's" antics has been considerable.

Security at airports worldwide was "stepped up," whilst Barack Obama ordered a thorough security review. Gordon Brown soon followed suit by ordering a similar review in the UK. This has led to fierce debate over security measures and their impact on civil liberties. The Independent told us how "the explosive device smuggled in the clothing of the Detroit bomb suspect would not have been detected by body-scanners set to be introduced in British airports," whilst the Guardian posited that their introduction "threatens to breach child protection laws which ban the creation of indecent images of children." Further issues of racial profiling and civil liberties were also called into question.

Such issues are important, of course, and they need to be addressed. However, whilst debate has raged over race and freedom in the wake of this attack, other developments appear to have gone unnoticed by many.

In the Guardian report on Obama's review order, it was noted that "officials are investigating the suspect's links with terrorists based in Yemen, a major stronghold for al-Qaida." Gordon Brown has called "for an international summit to discuss ways to combat extremism in Yemen," which "will be aimed at identifying Yemen's counterterrorism needs, coordinating assistance for areas at high risk for radicalization, and helping Yemen with wider challenges." Hilary Clinton has said that "instability in Yemen is a global as well as regional threat," and "the Yemeni government had to take measures to restore stability or risk losing Western support."

As Richard Seymour notes at The Comment Factory;
Until the so-called underpants bomber failed to strike, you would have been hard pressed to find much information on the Yemen insurgency outside of Press TV. Of the Anglophone media, only the wire services seemed to pay much attention to the Houthi rebellion, and Saudi air strikes against it. US involvement in the Saudi air strikes, some of them ostensibly against ‘Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’, started to be reported this month. Now this clueless bampot/false flag (take your pick) and his combustible loin cloth have been taken into custody (I’ll let you riff on how it could have been a ‘dirty bomb’), the former reported as saying that he was trained by ‘Al Qaida’ in Yemen. So, Obama has his opportunity to come out openly and demand more US attacks in Yemen.
Noting that, "once again, the British ruling class has become the first to line up full-square behind the latest military provocation being prepared by Washington," WSWS arrives at a similar conclusion;
The prime minister’s readiness to back Washington’s threats against Yemen comes despite serious questions over the attempted airline bombing. Not least of these is how it was that Abdulmutallab managed to board the flight, given that he was on a security watch list and his father had reported him as a potential terrorist threat to Nigerian and American authorities.

Brown’s response confirms that no real change in policy was involved in the transfer of power from Tony Blair to himself. The UK continues to function as something akin to a European proxy of Langley, Virginia, and the White House.
More is involved than mere electioneering on the part of Brown in advance of a national election, or simply bowing to the demands of the UK’s more powerful ally. What has been exposed by Brown’s flurry of announcements is the extent to which Britain and the US are already involved in Yemen.

The prime minister initially claimed he had decided to participate in a joint anti-terror programme with Washington after a personal phone conversation with Obama. Interviewed by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday, Brown conceded that the operation was already underway. “The truth is we've been doing this for some time,” he admitted.
Once again, contrl over strategic markets and resources comes into play. "Aden, a valuable deep water port, sits directly on the main world shipping lane that links the Far East to Europe and America" and "controls access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal." As such, "the real target of the US and UK military is not Al Qaeda, but the Yemeni civilian population" in "a modern version of the British tactic of bombing the villages of rebel tribes." This so that the US can "extend its colonial control over this strategic region," whilst Britain is "intent on securing its share of the spoils."

Further analysis of the situation is offered by Patrick Cockburn at Counterpunch.

What is clear, however, is that this latest act of aggression by the US and Britain must be opposed as readilly as Iraq and Afghanistan were. Whatever the benefits of this action for those in positions of power, it is clear that ordinary people will suffer. As the Economist reported last November, "for five years the Houthis have been rebelling against the government in Sana’a, the capital," but with outside involvement "the conflict is now taking on a more dangerous regional hue." As the conflict worsens "the people of Saada, in the north, are suffering and suffocating."

"Life in the camps and in makeshift tented villages nearby looks set to worsen," and unless people are willing to make a stand and say no to western aggression in the region, then the tens of thousands of people displaced by the conflict "have little hope of returning home any time soon."