That the United States supported former Yemenite strongman and fierce dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh for many years is no great secret. Members of Saleh’s family received U.S. military training, and a number of elite Yemen Army units they headed were responsible for instances of savage repression and gross violations of human rights.
Saleh was a “star pupil” in America’s anti-terrorism school, and Washington was only too glad to underwrite his harsh counter-insurgency methods. All of this was done in the name of fighting al Qaida and other Islamic militant groups.
Saleh is gone, but his influence lingers inside Yemen. America continues to conduct drone air strikes against what it calls “suspected al Qaida cells,” and Saleh’s successor has made it plain that his foremost aim is to crush all resistance to central government rule.
What this amounts to, essentially, is enforcing the desires of the U.S. and Saudi Arabia for a Yemen that does nothing to upset the pro-Western applecart on the Arabian Peninsula.
Yemen’s people are frightfully poor and afflicted with the sorts of maladies that invariably accompany poverty, but that amounts to little or nothing in our superpower eyes when stacked up against our goal of wiping out every last vestige of Islamic militance, terrorism and ideology.
Are we truly making war on “terrorism,” or are we simply repressing very poor people?