Airstrikes led by Saudi Arabia, and supported by other members of Gulf Cooperating Council and the U.S. government, continued to hit Yemen on Thursday as the situation in one of the world’s most impoverished, yet strategically important countries continues to unravel amid what can only be described now as all-out war.
Reports indicate that a first wave of bombings overnight which resulted in a number of civilian deaths—including entire families trapped in flattened houses—have spurred widespread anger in Sanaa and other targeted cities, even among members of the population opposed to the Houthi rebels who have now wrested control of much of the country from President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, whose whereabouts remain hard to establish.
The White House, reports Reuters, has said it is actively supporting the operation and President Obama has authorized U.S. “logistical and intelligence support” for the bombing campaign. However, according National Security Council spokeswoman, U.S. forces are not involved in direct military action in Yemen.
Just to recap: the President has lined up the United States shoulder to shoulder with a wanted war criminal, al Qaeda and, of course, the world’s primary supporter of violent Islamic extremism, Saudi Arabia.
This is taking place at the same time that Barack Obama is massively escalating U.S. military operations in Iraq, launching a bombing campaign in Tikrit, ostensibly in aid of the Iraqi government’s attempt to recapture the city from ISIS but more likely just to keep Iranian-led Iraqi Shiite militias from retaking the town. (Alternatively, some have suggested, not entirely implausibly, that the bombing is actually a bid to save ISIS from defeat by the Iranians, and keep both sides embroiled in conflict; the same strategy followed by the U.S. in the Iran-Iraq War.) In any case, the American bombing campaign has had the entirely predictable — and no doubt desired — result of making the fiercely anti-American Shiite militias withdraw, at least temporarily, from the battle for Tikrit.
Obama’s intervention in Tikrit is so murderously stupid that even the New York Times — that ever-eager cheerleader for imperial violence — calls it “a dangerous escalation”: “President Obama has escalated America’s involvement in the fight against the Islamic State without providing a shred of evidence showing how it could advance American interests, or what happens once the bombs stop falling. The strikes are part of a campaign that from the outset has been waged without the authorization from Congress required by the Constitution.”
But in some ways, attempting any kind of rational analysis of the situation and its strategic ramifications is pointless. The burning hell that the United States has made of the region with its war of aggression against Iraq and its repeated violent interventions is beyond any sensible comprehension. Washington supported Islamic extremists in Libya — now its trying to combat those same extremists. Washington fights with al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria, and against al Qaeda and ISIS in Iraq. Washington wages war against Iranian-backed militias in Yemen while fighting alongside Iranian-backed militias in Iraq. Washington backed and participated in Ethiopia’s aggressive war that destroyed Somalia’s first stable government in a generation — and now has spent years fighting the extremists who arose in the vacuum … while putting the leader it originally ousted back in power. Washington’s aggressive, repressive military-security apparatus has grown to gargantuan proportions for the ostensible reason of fighting Islamic extremism — while Washington is the strongest ally and chief weapon-supplier to the chief source of Islamic extremism in the world today, Saudi Arabia. Washington (belatedly) backed the overthrow of the military dictator Mubarak in Egypt and now supports the restoration of the Mubarak regime under another military dictator. Washington sanctions and condemns as a war criminal the leader of Sudan — and is now fighting alongside the war criminal leader of Sudan in Yemen.
The one certain thing you can say about this bizarre goulash of iron and blood is that it doesn’t make any rational sense. At least, not in the terms usually used to discuss policy goals, geopolitical concerns and the national interest. Nor in the terms used by the policymakers themselves for their aims: fighting terrorism, national security, advancing democracy, establishing peace and stability, etc. Look at the situation in the region before the “War on Terror” and look at it today: Libya, Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen torn by war and chaos, extremist militias controlling cites and whole regions, the armed forces of many nations on the attack, millions of people displaced, atrocities on every side. The present horror far surpasses the worst case scenarios of those who warned of the wide-ranging disasters sure to come from the invasion of Iraq.
There is no rational way to reconcile the stated goals with the policy outcomes of the War on Terror (or whatever one wants to call the incessant, ever-expanding military campaigns of the United States and its extremist, repressive allies). The War on Terror began as a monstrous hybrid of imperialist adventurism, blood-money boondoggle and psychosexual power trip for the stunted, blunted second-rate souls who hold sway in our corrupt system. Its only real purpose is to perpetuate itself in any way it can, both wittingly and unwittingly. It has become the system, it is now the organizing principle of the American state and its relations to other countries.
Seen in this light — not the light of reason or coherence or consistency, but the shooting flames of a drone-bombed house — American policy makes perfect sense.
It is fair to say that it will be more fun to watch the second generation of House of Saud as they find their way in regional and international politics. King Faysal believed that the stability of the regime and its preservation requires resort to secrecy and caution in pursuing Saudi regime interests around the world. That is why the royal family perfected the art of dissimulation especially in Arab-Israeli issues (it supported Sadat behind the scene while funding the anti-Sadat coalition at some points). This war is also an American war: it is a gift from the US to the GCC countries who didn’t like US policies in Egypt, Syria, and Yemen. The Saudi regime is now pursuing the Israeli option: that it will now be more clearly aligned with the Israeli interests in the region and that it will also be aggressive and violent in pursuing regime interests. Qatar and UAE were the first to openly and officially participate in an open war in Libya, and Saudi royal family didn’t enjoy watching the Qatari prime minister lead the Arab League from 2010 to 2012. The Saudi regime took matters in its own hands and decided to pursue an alternative policies in Egypt. On every issue in Arab politics, the Saudi regime is aligned with Israel. Make no mistake about it: Israel is the secret member of the GCC coalition bombing Yemen. In the 1960s, the Saudi regime ignited the war of Yemen to thwart a progressive and republican alternative to the reactionary immate regime (and Israel supplied weapons to the Saudi side in that war). In this war, the GCC countries are supporting a corrupt and reactionary puppet regime created by Saudi Arabia and the US. Saudi Arabia never allowed Yemen to enjoy independence. It saw in itself the legitimate heir to the British imperial power in peninsula. The Huthis (with whom I share absolutely nothing) are a bunch of reactionaries but who were created due to the very policies and war pursued by the Saudi regime in Yemen and their then puppet, `Ali `Abdullah Salih. South Yemen had the only Marxist state in the Arab wold and the experiment was sabotaged by the reactionary House of Saud. There is an entertainment value to this war as the Saudi regime actively and openly launches war on another Arab country. Who does not want to see, yet again, the Huthis humiliating the Saudi army on the battle field (look up the last battle with the Huthis on Youtube when Saudi soldiers ran for their lives). And who does not want to see a Saudi royal brat leading his army to yet another humiliation on the battle field. In all the Yemeni war, the Saudi regime always sponsored the option that guaranteed more longevity for war and destruction. This is no exception. I have never thought that the demise of the Saudi regime would be expedited by the 2nd generation of Saudi princes. I never thought that there could be a more corrupt and more incompetent prince than Khalid bin Sultan: but think again. Muhammad bin Sultan (seen above leading the battle from his office) is your man, o US and Israel. Enjoy him.