Archive for the 'War Rumors' Category

15,000 Russian Troops Contracted for Security on US Soil?

Aug 15 2013

Subversive, undercover infiltration has been a feature of American history from the start of the Revolutionary War. As such tactics have proven effective for the United States, one cannot help but wonder whether these same tactics are being used against us as well, and to what extent? Thus, rumors arise, and conspiracy theories feed the fire of misinformation. Theories that suggest a hostile take-over is imminent and implementation of martial law will soon erase our rights and freedoms. Many rumors have suggested that foreign troops will be deployed in the United States, and be at the ready for action when the country is weakened by natural disasters or distracted by major national events. These theories are not new phenomena, nor are they spawned out of thin air.

There were two separate Red Scares over the course of the first half of the 20th century, during which extreme suspicion and fear led to the belief that communists were infiltrating the military and government at every level, with Soviet and Chinese military forces ready to move whenever the central powers gave the word. Throughout the 1990s, groups claimed that the United Nations had troops training with the US military in preparation for the creation of One World Government. After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, fear spread through rumors that multinational groups directed by the UN would sweep through towns and round up gun-owners to create FEMA concentration camps and officially start a police state. It is not surprising that this line of paranoia continues to this day, as distrust of government and suspicions of foreign interventions persists, and modern communication tools help spread intriguing rumors like wildfire.

One of the more recent stories concerns the proposition that Russia will be providing troops to help the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) handle security at “mass events” in the United States. The email text is lifted directly from an article that appeared at the following link: whatdoesitmean.com Sorcha Faal, who is an outlandish, sensationalist conspiracy theorist, started the email chain that has ended up in our box with a posting on his or her aesthetically displeasing, out-of-date website.

Stories put forth by Faal are considered ridiculous even by conspiracy theorists standards, which does not favor the credibility of this story. This original email chain led to other spin-offs of the story, which suggested that the Russian soldiers would be used to provide security at mass events in the US, described as large scale, high human density, and popular events such as the “Super Bowl, international summits,… and presidential inaugurations.”  The basis of these presumptions is a meeting between US and Russian officials on June 25th, 2013, wherein a “deal” was made to exchange knowledge and resources for mass events. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones further publicized this meeting through his popular libertarian website infowars.com by suggesting that this agreement is a precursor to an exchange of 15,000 Russian soldiers for security purposes at those previously mentioned mass events.

This story became so popular and spread so rapidly because the idea of foreign troops being deployed on American soil understandably makes many American citizens uneasy. Moreover, the story proposed that it would be such a large number of soldiers deployed, and at premier American events, that any subscriber surely raised a red flag after simply reading the headline. Through the different versions of the story, a general theme exists that President Obama’s administration has requested 15,000 Russian soldiers for security support at times when Americans are most vulnerable and distracted, which implies that there are subversives currently working in our government agencies.

This story is referred to as a rumor for a very simple reason – it lacks verifiable proof. After doing some research, it appears that the purpose of this routine meeting between the US and Russia has been largely misconstrued. The Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defense sent their minister for Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters (EMERCOM) to Washington, D.C. to meet with FEMA officials to discuss a potential exchange of experts in the event of a disaster that requires cooperation between the two countries.  In other words, the partnership envisions the mutually beneficial sharing of experience, which shows that both nations have an interest in gaining supplemental expertise through observation opportunities with first responders and emergency managers. The official report on the meeting did not mention that an agreement had been reached to allow Russians to provide security on US soil, but rather noted that both nations want to study and learn about security at mass events from each other, which was the seed for the idea that became our conspiracy of interest. Furthermore, neither party in the meeting has authority to direct security personnel at the mentioned mass events, let alone armed soldiers. FEMA is a management agency, and EMERCOM is a civil defense ministry, both of which handle the consequences of natural disasters.

This story was fabricated and completely distorted a practical and diplomatic exchange of information. This sort of meeting is not a novel idea, but rather the seventeenth meeting of its kind since the creation of the U.S.-Russia Cooperation Committee on Emergency Situations in 1996. In regards to prior meetings, FEMA has stated the following:

“Unbeknownst to many, building and strengthening our partnerships with the international community is a large focus for us at FEMA. We are an increasingly global society, and the many disasters that have struck our friends and colleagues around the world [in recent years], from the horrific earthquake and tsunami in Japan to the earthquake that struck New Zealand are a reminder that we are all in this together… We are part of the same team, and we will all be more resilient and well-equipped to deal with emergencies if we tap into each other’s knowledge, experiences and resources. We thank our Russian partners for joining us… and look forward to continuing to build this critical partnership.”

On July 2, a FEMA spokesperson explicitly stated that there will be “no exchange of security or military personnel” when asked about this internet-driven speculation.  The United States holds such meetings and joins similar alliances with nations around the world in hopes of being capable of addressing any conceivable disaster situation. Learning the procedures other nations successfully employ in disaster situations can be beneficial to the United States in strengthening our resiliency. Russian troops will not be landing on our soil in the foreseeable future, but natural disasters surely will, and being prepared is no international conspiracy, but an exercise of sound judgment.

 

Additional Resources

http://www.factcheck.org/2013/07/no-russian-troops-in-u-s/

http://www.snopes.com/politics/conspiracy/russiansecurity.asp

http://www.africom.mil/Newsroom/Article/8901/us-partners-to-promote-disaster-resilience-in-horn

http://www.fema.gov/blog/2011-07-20/talking-emergency-management-our-international-partners

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Is President Obama honoring Jane Fonda?

Sep 14 2012

This email rumor has received a little lipstick and been re-circulated due to the announcement that Jane Fonda will play Nancy Reagan in a new movie.  The majority of the content has been around for over 10 years and is mostly false.  This one has been around for so long a lot of people can get tricked into not researching it.  If you remember reading the same email rumor 10 years ago does not mean that it is true.

The version that we received:

THE “QUEEN” OF TRAITORS

She has now been chosen to play Nancy Reagan in her life story. I am sending this one out because so many do not know this truth… and also because she was on 3 times this week talking about her new book… And how good she feels in her 70′s… she still does not know what she did wrong.. her book just may not make the best list if more people knew… also…

Barbara Walters said: Thank you all. Many died in Vietnam for our freedoms. I did not like Jane Fonda then and I don’t like her now.

She can lead her present life the way she wants and perhaps SHE can forget the past, but we DO NOT have to stand by without comment and see her “honored” as a “Woman of the Century.”

(I remember this well)

For those who served and/or died. . . NEVER FORGIVE A TRAITOR. SHE REALLY WAS A TRAITOR!!

and now President OBAMA wants to honor her……!!!!

In Memory of LT. C.Thomsen Wieland who spent 100 days at the Hanoi Hilton [Famous North Vietnam Prison]

IF YOU NEVER FORWARDED ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE FORWARD THIS SO THAT EVERYONE WILL KNOW!!!!!!

A TRAITOR IS ABOUT TO BE HONORED. KEEP THIS MOVING ACROSS AMERICA

This is for all the kids born in the 70′s and after who do not remember, and didn’t have to bear the burden that our fathers, mothers and older brothers and sisters had to bear.

Jane Fonda is being honored as one of the ’100 Women of the Century.’

BARBARA WALTERS WRITES:

Unfortunately, many have forgotten and still countless others have never known how Ms. Fonda betrayed not only the idea of our country, but specific men who served and sacrificed during the Vietnam War.

The first part of this is from an F-4E pilot. The pilot’s name is Jerry Driscoll, a River Rat.

In 1968, the former Commandant of the USAF Survival School was a POW in Ho Lo Prison the ‘ Hanoi Hilton.’

Dragged from a stinking cesspit of a cell, cleaned, fed, and dressed in clean PJ’s, he was ordered to describe for a visiting American ‘Peace Activist’ the ‘lenient and humane treatment’ he’d received.

He spat at Ms. Fonda, was clubbed, and was dragged away. During the subsequent beating, he fell forward on to the camp Commandant ‘s feet, which sent that officer berserk.

In 1978, the Air Force Colonel still suffered from double vision (which permanently ended his flying career) from the Commandant’s frenzied application of a wooden baton.

From 1963-65, Col. Larry Carrigan was in the 47FW/DO (F-4E’s). He spent 6 years in the ‘ Hanoi Hilton’…the first three of which his family only knew he was ‘missing in action’. His wife lived on faith that he was still alive. His group, too, got the cleaned-up, fed and clothed routine in preparation for a ‘peace delegation’ visit.

They, however, had time and devised a plan to get word to the world that they were alive and still survived. Each man secreted a tiny piece of paper, with his Social Security Number on it, in the palm of his hand. When paraded before Ms. Fonda and a cameraman, she walked the line, shaking each man’s hand and asking little encouraging snippets like: ‘Aren’t you sorry you bombed babies?’ and ‘Are you grateful for the humane treatment from your benevolent captors?’ Believing this HAD to be an act, they each palmed her their sliver of paper.

She took them all without missing a beat.. At the end of the line and once the camera stopped rolling, to the shocked disbelief of the POWs, she turned to the officer in charge and handed him all the little pieces of paper…

Three men died from the subsequent beatings. Colonel Carrigan was almost number four but he survived, which is the only reason we know of her actions that day.

I was a civilian economic development advisor in Vietnam , and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam in 1968, and held prisoner for over 5 years.

I spent 27 months in solitary confinement; one year in a cage in Cambodia ; and one year in a ‘black box’ in Hanoi . My North Vietnamese captors deliberately poisoned and murdered a female missionary, a nurse in a leprosarium in Banme Thuot , South Vietnam , whom I buried in the jungle near the Cambodian border. At one time, I weighed only about 90 lbs. (My normal weight is 170 lbs)

We were Jane Fonda’s ‘war criminals….’

When Jane Fonda was in Hanoi , I was asked by the camp communist political officer if I would be willing to meet with her. I said yes, for I wanted to tell her about the real treatment we POWs received… and how different it was from the treatment purported by the North Vietnamese, and parroted by her as ‘humane and lenient.’

Because of this, I spent three days on a rocky floor on my knees, with my arms outstretched with a large steel weight placed on my hands, and beaten with a bamboo cane.

I had the opportunity to meet with Jane Fonda soon after I was released. I asked her if she would be willing to debate me on TV. She never did answer me.

These first-hand experiences do not exemplify someone who should be honored as part of ’100 Years of Great Women.’ Lest we forget….’ 100 Years of Great Women’ should never include a traitor whose hands are covered with the blood of so many patriots.

There are few things I have strong visceral reactions to, but Hanoi Jane’s participation in blatant treason, is one of them. Please take the time to forward to as many people as you possibly can.. It will eventually end up on her computer and she needs to know that we will never forget.

RONALD D. SAMPSON, CMSgt,

USAF 716 Maintenance Squadron,

Chief of Maintenance DSN: 875-6431 COMM: 883-6343

PLEASE HELP BY SENDING THIS TO EVERYONE IN YOUR ADDRESS BOOK. IF ENOUGH PEOPLE SEE THIS MAYBE HER STATUS WILL CHANGE.

 In an effort to help our readers separate the wheat from the chaff I am including a little extra analysis of this email to help everyone become more email rumor savvy.  Clearly someone decided to push our Patriotic Buttons when they created the original version of this email rumor.  The many versions of this email prove that invoking the name of Prisoners of War (POWs) is one way to accomplish that.

The Movie

Starting at the top, the email claims that Jane Fonda is playing Nancy Reagan in her life story.  The movie in question is called The ButlerThe Butler is about a White House butler who served eight American Presidents over the course of three decades.  This movie is not Nancy Reagan’s life story.  You can find information on this movie on the Internet Movie Data Base. 

Barbara Walters Quotes

Barbara Walters said: Thank you all. Many died in Vietnam for our freedoms. I did not like Jane Fonda then and I don’t like her now.

Barbara Walters has not made any public statements disparaging Jane Fonda.  Barbara Walters has interviewed Jane Fonda several times and had her on The View.  You can see clips of some of their interviews on YouTube.

Woman of the Century

President Obama has not honored Jane Fonda in any way.  There has been no announcement or media coverage for any Women of the Century event hosted by or involving President Obama.  It is a little premature for the President to honor anyone as Woman of the Century with almost 90 years to go before the century is over.

Jane Fonda did appear on a 1999 Barbara Walters ABC special titled A Celebration: 100 Years of Great Women.  Barack Obama was not in any way involved with this broadcast. 

The special was based on a 1998 book 100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century.  The author of the book was Kevin Markey.  A Ladies Home Journal panel selected the women who appear in the book. 

Not all of the women from the book were used for Barbara Walter’s special.  Meaning, if Barbara Walters truly had negative feelings toward Jane Fonda she could have easily left her out of the televised special.

More Email Inconsistencies

The beginning of the email discusses Jane Fonda’s TV appearances for her book and claims that President Obama is honoring her as a Woman of the Century. This would be the lipstick that I was talking about.  It was added to an old email rumor long after the fact. 

Then there is an “in memory” statement referring to LT. C. Thomsen Wieland.  LT Carl Wieland was a POW during the Vietnam War.  But there is no other information about him in the email. LT Carl Wieland died in 1987.  It appears that the author tried to legitimize the email by adding the name of another POW. 

Then there is a reference to Jane Fonda honored as one of the ‘100 Women of the Century’. It is not clear if the author meant the book or the Barbara Walters special.  Either way she was included in a list of 100 women of the 20th century and it is now the 21st century.

The next section of the email starts with “BARBARA WALTERS WRITESimplying that she is the author of part of the email.  Several paragraphs later you see “I” as if the author of the email was giving a first-hand account of events in at Hỏa Lò Prison (Hanoi Hilton).  Barbara Walters was not a POW. “I” is not clearly identified.  I will discuss the signature block later.

Events at the Hanoi Hilton

This is the tricky part.  It is a documented fact that Jane Fonda went to Vietnam in 1972.  It is also a fact that Colonel Jerry Driscoll and Colonel Larry Carrigan were POWs at Hanoi Hilton.  Neither man met Jane Fonda during her visit.  Jane Fonda did not receive any slips of paper from the American POWs that she did meet during her visit.  If these events did happen there would be actual news stories and interviews. If you do an internet search for Jane Fonda betrayed POWs you will find articles from several fact checking sites followed by reposts of the different versions of this email but no actual news stories.

 

A Google Result for 'Jane Fonda Betrayed POWs'

A Google Result for ‘Jane Fonda Betrayed POWs’

 Now we get back to “I”

I was a civilian economic development advisor in Vietnam , and was captured by the North Vietnamese communists in South Vietnam in 1968, and held prisoner for over 5 years.

I spent 27 months in solitary confinement; one year in a cage in Cambodia ; and one year in a ‘black box’ in Hanoi .

This section of the email is actually content from a letter written by Michael D. Benge and posted online in 1999.  The letter was a response to the Barbara Walters special.  The content is presented as if it was a first-hand account of the author. 

http://www.pownetwork.org/fonda/fonda_benge_letter.htm

Some of the actual letter was edited out and other statements were added. 

Signature Block

RONALD D. SAMPSON, CMSgt,

USAF 716 Maintenance Squadron,

Chief of Maintenance DSN: 875-6431 COMM: 883-6343

CMSgt Sampson did not send this email to us.  He was not a POW during the Vietnam War.  He did not originate this email. His name only appears on versions of the email starting in 2004.  The two most likely reasons for this are 1. The signature block was made up to add legitimacy to this email or 2. CMSgt Sampson forwarded this email without removing his contact information and someone else decided that it added legitimacy to the email. 

Please be careful what you forward.  Your name, rank and title could be attached to falsehoods.  Once you hit send, you cannot take it back.  You lose control over how someone else decides to use your information.

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Taliban Leader Captured in Pakistan, Marines Continue Offensive

Feb 16 2010


Good News From Pakistan

Multiple reports coming out of Pakistan that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Afghan Taliban’s second in command and military leader, was captured on or about February 6th. Baradar was Afghanistan’s deputy defense minister when the Taliban controlled the country, as reported by CNN today. His capture, although it preceded the current offensive in Helmand province, is a welcome and potentially crucial event in the fight against the Taliban. And the announcement of his arrest comes on the same day that Marines seized the police headquarters of Marjuh, a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan. The second in command to Mullah Omar and associate of Osama Bin Laden may have some very useful information to share.


A Major Catch

From MSNBC:

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the No. 2 behind Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar and a close associate of Osama bin Laden, was captured in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, two Pakistani intelligence officers and a senior U.S. official said. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

One Pakistani officer said Baradar was arrested 10 days ago with the assistance of the United States and “was talking” to his interrogators.

Baradar is the most senior Afghan Taliban leader arrested since the beginning of the Afghan war in 2001. His arrest is seen as victory against insurgents as U.S. troops push into their heartland in southern Afghanistan.


Taliban Denial

Just as the Taliban are denying that Operation Mushtarak is having any success on the ground in Afghanistan, they are denying that Baradar has been captured:

A Taliban spokesman in Afghanistan told The Associated Press that Baradar was still free, though he did not provide any evidence.

“We totally deny this rumor. He has not been arrested,” Zabiullah Mujahid told the AP by telephone. He said the report was Western propaganda aimed at undercutting the Taliban fighting against an offensive in the southern Afghan town of Marjah, a Taliban haven.

“The Taliban are having success with our jihad. It is to try to demoralize the Taliban who are on jihad in Marjah and all of Afghanistan,” he said.


Why Now?

The operation to seize Baradar in Karachi was a joint CIA and Pakistani effort, which may signal an increase in cooperation between the two groups, who have had a history of friction over operations on Pakistani soil. CNN is already calling it a possible turning point in the war. But some analysts are questioning the timing of the announcement, and what the effects will be on future endeavors. From Time Magazine’s Tim McGirk and Omar Waraich in Islamabad:

Some Taliban contacts suggest that Pakistan may have had no option but to cooperate this time, since the CIA may have tracked down Baradar in Karachi on its own and pressured Pakistani spy agency the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) to help pick him up. A senior Pakistani official told TIME that the CIA “pinpointed the general area” and that Pakistani intelligence on the ground made the arrest in the night between Feb. 10 and 11. Baradar was arrested in the slum town of Baldia, just outside Karachi, which is teeming with migrant Afghans and Pashtuns. The Pakistani official insisted that “this shows that Washington and Islamabad’s priorities are starting to match up.” U.S. officials have complained that past efforts to tip off the ISI to the locations of Taliban commanders yielded no action. Until Baradar was seized, no significant Taliban fighter had been arrested in two years in Pakistan. “All of the major Taliban commanders are in Pakistan,” a source close to the Taliban told TIME — an allegation that Islamabad loudly and persistently denies.

Regardless of the way this capture came about, it is undoubtedly a good sign, along with the success of Operation Mushtarak in its opening stages. We send our hopes and prayers to our troops and allies in this endeavor.


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Ahmadinejad Warns of “Harsh Blow” to West on Feb 11

Feb 01 2010

“Mad is the man who is forever gritting his teeth against that granite block, complete and changeless, of the past” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Anniversary Boasting

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told his cabinet yesterday that the upcoming 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution will “deliver a harsh blow to the “global arrogance””.

The Press TV article, which is a semi-official Iranian news outlet, stated:

“The Islamic Revolution opened a window to liberty for the human race, which was trapped in the dead ends of materialism,” Ahmadinejad said during a cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“If the Islamic Revolution had not occurred, liberalism and Marxism would have crushed all human dignity in their power-seeking and money-grubbing claws. Nothing would have remained of human and spiritual principles,” he added.


Vague Threats, Hatred

While these threats are usually precursors to new missile tests, enrichment milestones or just general rhetoric, the language carries with it a sort of apocalyptic ring to it. As Ahmadinejad is a firm believer of the return of the Muslim savior, the 12th Mahdi, incredibly stupid actions such as striking out at neighboring states or carrying out a nuclear test can not be out of the question.

With the nation in the midst of a popular uprising since last summer’s disputed presidential election, this is in all likelihood just an attempt to divert attention away from the problems at home. Using the veiled references to Israel and the United States in his ‘power-seeking and money-grubbing claws’, the rhetoric could not be more clear to the Iranian people. He is stating that outside forces, not ruinous internal policies, has led to the troubles they are now experiencing. There is nothing new in this claim, and February 11th should pass with heated demonstrations and celebrations in Tehran.

But, vague messages like this should give Israel and the world pause. If he is insane enough to launch a pre-emptive strike against Israel or other neighbors, especially with nuclear weapons that our intelligence says Iran does not have the capability of producing yet, the world will be in for some dark days ahead. What’s worse is the possibility that Israel may take the threat as a justification to launch an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and launch sites, sparking a regional war.


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War on Terror Escalates in Yemen

Jan 06 2010

“From a pound of talk, an ounce of understanding” - Yemeni Proverb


Security Failure and Luck

Following the Christmas day attempt by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to take down Delta Air flight 253 on approach to Detroit, the Obama administration has been meeting with top security and intelligence members to figure out what went wrong in the process. Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian citizen who received bomb making material and training in Yemen, was unsuccessful in what would have been a disastrous act of terror when the powder/liquid mixture he was carrying in his underpants failed to ignite. A Christmas miracle, to be sure, but a complete breakdown in screening procedures and common sense. The flight originated in Amsterdam and Abdulmutallab carried no luggage and bought a one way ticket in cash. President Obama said that the U.S. “Failed to connect the dots” and that “We dodged a bullet but just barely. It was averted by brave individuals, not because the system worked and that is not acceptable.” The incident, in addition to increasing airline precautions and re-sparking the debate over full body scans and profiling, has also caused the world to take a close look at Yemen, where Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula reportedly provided the training for the mission and are planning more attacks. Nearly a decade after the attack on the USS Cole which took the lives of 17 U.S. sailors, a look at the current situation in Yemen shows a deeply troubled nation and one that has the potential to become the next major focus in the war on terror.


Modern Yemen’s Violent History


Although it is one of the poorest countries in the world, Yemen is in an extremely important geographical location when it comes to shipping lanes and oil exports.

Yemen-map

The nation we know of as Yemen has only existed in its current state since 1990, when North Yemen, which had been ruled by the Ottoman Empire until 1918 and became a republic in 1962, formally merged with South Yemen, which had until 1967 been occupied by Great Britain. North Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh became president of the nation and remains in power today, following two democratic elections. The unification process has not been a peaceful one, however. The nation fought its first civil war in 1994 between the northern and southern factions, with the south receiving significant support from Saudi Arabia. The south seceded from the country and formed the Democratic Republic of Yemen, but failed to gain international recognition and the fighting dissipated.


Yemen’s Battle with Militants

Internal relations were shaky until 2004 when the second civil war broke out. This time, Yemeni government forces were fighting a minority Shiite rebel movement called the Houthis, named after their leader Hussein Al Houthi, in northern Yemen. The war started when the government attempted to arrest Al Houthi, a leader of the Shiite sect (actually he is a member of an offshoot of the Shiite sect called Zaidi). This battle continues to rage today, with the Houthis dug in to mountain positions and occasionally striking out against the government. On top of the rebel fighting, a southern secessionist movement has been a constant problem for the government, although the issue has died down some recently due to the northern war. During this time, Al-Qaeda has supported the Houthis and sent hundreds, if not thousands, of their militants into the region. With the nation on the verge of collapse (unemployment is over 40% and popular support for the central government is eroding), the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh is finding it increasingly difficult to fight an insurgency and maintain order. This has led to several nations getting involved through various channels, including military action. This threatens to turn an internal war into a regional one.


Proxy War?

Saudi Arabia has been the nation most directly affected by the second Yemeni civil war. In August of 2009, Muhammad bin Nayef, a member of the Saudi royal family and ironically the country’s top counter-terrorism official, was injured in a suicide bombing attributed to a member of the Houthi movement. On November 3rd, Houthi rebels briefly captured two villages in Saudi territory. The Saudi response has been strong, with numerous air strikes and ground operations taking aim at the Houthis in support of the central government and out of fear of further incursions or attacks. The Saudi attacks have been starkly criticized by Iran, whose leaders have spoken out feverishly against the Saudi involvement. Iran has been accused of providing tactical and military assistance to the Houthis, raising the tensions across the region. With a growing U.S. involvement in the war, these tensions will only continue to rise. Iran’s objection to Saudi actions are based on their disgust of Muslims spilling the blood of other Muslims, in an obvious attempt to make Saudi Arabia’s influence in the Arab world reduced as Iran continues in its efforts to become the regional superpower.

The majority Sunni Saudi Arabia is in a difficult position. They face internal strife from elements of Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups that are opposed to the royal family’s grip on power, and have seen in the past decade a rise in Iranian influence in the region, from Shiite majority Iraq and Iran’s sponsorship of Hizbollah in Syria and Lebanon. A Shiite state to its south would not bode well for the Kingdom.


American Military Actions

On December 17th and again on the 24th, cruise missiles struck Al-Qaeda bases in rebel provinces and caused considerable loss of life to the militants (as well as civilians, according to Yemeni sources). Admiral Mike Mullen praised the strikes but did not say that the U.S. had any active role in the operation. After the Christmas day attempted terrorist attack, President Obama stated that “our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred”, and that Al Qaeda in Yemen “will be held to account”. This will mean more support for the Yemeni government in the form of more than doubling the amount of aid sent to the nation to use to fight terror (a figure that could run as high as $150 million), continued drone air attacks, deeper intelligence cooperation and special forces operations. The New York Times ran a story on December 27th detailing America’s expansion of the war on terror to Yemen:

A year ago, the Central Intelligence Agency sent several of its top field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country, according a former top agency official. At the same time, some of the most secretive Special Operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counterterrorism tactics, senior military officers said.

President Obama laid out his intentions on December 28th:

“We will continue to use every element of our national power to disrupt, to dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us, whether they are from Afghanistan or Pakistan, Yemen or Somalia, or anywhere where they are plotting attacks against the US homeland,” Mr Obama said.

As the center of operations for Al-Qaeda shifts to Yemen, we can expect more U.S. involvement in overt and covert operations to help the government there rid the scourge of terrorists in the strategic nation.


The Outlook

Yemen has all of the ingredients and hallmarks of a growing terrorist safe haven. An active rebellion against a weak central authority, a poor population base to draw in new recruits and access to some of the most critical shipping lanes in the world. The potential for another terrorist attack originating from Yemen is extremely high, and as the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and the Christmas airline plot have demonstrated, Americans are the prime target. While the Houthi movement and Al-Qaeda may have differing immediate objectives, their cooperation represents a clear and present danger to American interests. With our overstretched military engaged in multiple locations around the world fighting Muslim terrorists, the importance of regional engagement by Yemen’s Arab neighbors has never been more pressing. If the government falls, the safe haven will expand and become much like Afghanistan in the late ’90′s. That can not be allowed to happen.


Additional Resources

Qatar’s Peninsula Online
Qatar’s History (wikipedia)
Reuters Analysis
Washington Post’s Report of President Obama’s Statement
Center for American Progress



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