Yemen is a Middle Eastern country bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, Oman to the east, and the Arabian Sea/Gulf of Aden to the south. This tiny Arab country, when compared to Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia has been in the news lately as a hotbed for terrorist activity. Yemen, by most Western analysts, has become a major staging ground for Al-Qaeda’s operations. The Bush administration lent its support to the government of Yemen led by President Ali Abdullah Saleh in part because of concerns Al Qaeda was using remote areas of the country not under government control to plot, plan, and carry out attacks against the United States and other Western targets.
The Yemeni government has been in a battle against Al Qaeda who see the Yemeni government alliance with the United States as getting in bed with the “infidels”. Anything that has to do with the United States has always been a propaganda tool for recruiting would-be jihadists to join in the fight against the United States.
In recent years the Yemeni government has given the United States tacit support to bomb suspected Al-Qaeda bases in the lawless regions of the country. Some of those attacks have caused huge collateral damage, mainly in the form of civilian casualties. The Obama administration has pursued air strikes more aggressively than the hawkish Bush administration, not only in Yemen, but also in Pakistan. This administration’s foreign policy does not differ much from the Bush administration when it comes to terrorism issues. Liberal supporters of the Obama administration cannot be too pleased with what is going on in terms of foreign intervention and the decision making process.
But back to Yemen. Like the wave of protests that have taken place in the Middle East and North Africa, these massive protests have also been taking part in Yemen. The Yemeni government has unleashed a brutal crackdown on protesters and did so even on crowds during a funeral procession for protesters who were killed during the protest. As the Obama administration continues to entangle the United States into a country that is in a civil war militarily, the only way Libyan intervention is justified is if the United States intervenes in Yemen to uphold these very principles that the United States champions all over the world, irrespective of borders and territories: the principles of human rights, freedom of speech, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Yemen’s army and high level cabinet members have, in large mass, defected in protest of the actions taken by their own uniformed government officers. The opposition forces now have tanks and one can only imagine what other weapons they plan to unleash on the government in a bid to overthrow the Yemeni president. During the initial protests in Egypt and Tunisia, President Ali Abdullah Saleh stated he would serve out his term until 2013, and would not run for reelection. To further appease the populace, he also stated he would not have any of his sons on the ballot for the next presidential election. This was apparently not good enough for the Yemeni people as they wanted more freedom, less corruption, higher wages, and lower inflation.
So let me get this straight. It is okay for the United States to intervene in Libya, but not in Yemen where its people have been oppressed and killed by their own government? Ok, President Obama. This is a very easy way to make enemies. So if we do not intervene in Yemen, it is conceivable to think that years from now, if the opposition overthrows the Yemeni government, Al-Qaeda may gain even more ground in Yemen, and the Yemeni people who wanted a U.S. intervention will resent the U.S. for not helping and pursue hostile policies against the United States. The U.S. government has always provided financial assistance to the Yemeni government primarily by upgrading their military; the Yemeni government would not have its vast array of weapons had the United States not provided them with it.
Will we see a U.S. intervention in Yemen? Very unlikely. After all, Yemen is where the underwear bomber who tried to bring down a U.S. airliner originated from. All bets are off that the great U.S. of A, champion of human rights and freedom intervenes because then of course, Al-Qaeda will wield greater control in the Arabian Peninsula.
The situation in Yemen remains tense and dynamic, and would-be jihadists all over the world are waiting for the slightest political vacuum in Yemen to finally establish an Afghanistan-type state in Yemen. Either way, the hypocrisy is quite lucid, and the Obama administration better have a deck of cards that they have not shown the American people and the rest of the world.
Meddling in internal affairs is just not how business should be run. We cannot pick and choose where we intervene if all those principles of human rights are universal.
“We are not going to babysit a civil war,” stated candidate Barack Obama about Iraq war in 2007.