As the US-backed Saudi bombing of Yemen enters its second week, more than 500 people — including many civilians — have been killed, what infrastructure existed in the impoverished country has been destroyed, and the ousted president cheers on the destruction of his country within the protective embrace of the country that is bombing his own.
What is less reported in US mainstream media is that one group in Yemen seems to be making out quite well in the US-backed and Saudi-created chaos: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Yes, al-Qaeda. The group that the US has been droning in Yemen since 2010. The drone strikes that set the population and especially various tribes like the Houthis against the US-accommodating Hadi. The Houthis who had been fighting al-Qaeda in Yemen before they started being bombed by Saudi Arabia. That al-Qaeda.
A Thursday prison raid by al-Qaeda operatives in the port city of Mukalla freed one of their commanders, “emir” Khaled Batarfi. Barfi celebrated his freedom by taking up residence in the abandoned regional governor’s palace as Saudi planes continued to bomb al-Qaeda’s enemy in Yemen, the Houthis. Barfi even used the palace telephone apparently to issue orders to his minions. It must have been hard for him to believe his incredible good luck!
The Saudis are said to have air-dropped weapons to supporters of ousted president, Mansur Hadi, in the battleground port city of Aden. How long before al-Qaeda shows up with these gifts from the Saudis by way of the US military-industrial complex?
So why is the US backing the Saudi attack on its neighbor? It is complicated. According to US government logic, when Yanukovych was chased by a mob from his office in Ukraine, by leaving the country he lost legitimacy. In Yemen, on the other hand, when president Hadi was chased by a mob from his office he retained his legitimacy and Saudi airstrikes were approved and coordinated by the US to put him back in office.
It had something to do with democracy, it was said. However, Hadi was “elected” after overthrowing his predecessor in a coup and standing for office as the only candidate on the ballot. Not surprisingly in the circumstance, he “won” more than 99 percent of the vote. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was effusive in her praise, claiming the Soviet-style election and inauguration “were promising steps on the path toward a new, democratic chapter in Yemen’s history.”
Yanukovych, in contrast, was elected in a contested election judged to be “free and fair” by international monitoring bodies.
Watching State Department Spokesman Jen Psaki defend these double standards is one of those golden comedy moments that makes you laugh and then cry.
So the US backs Saudi attacks on Yemen in the name of democracy even though neither country is remotely democratic, and even though none except al-Qaeda and the US military-industrial complex seems to be benefitting. Is this incompetence, arrogance, ignorance, or something darker?
I am on Twitter.1:00 am on April 5, 2015 Email Daniel McAdams