Moral Outrage
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Yemen and its wily president know how to spin a war

Yemen desperately needs sustained international help. Getting governments to take the problem seriously, though, was a different matter until Umar Farouk Abdullmutallab lit his underpants on fire aboard Flight 253 last month. Suddenly, Yemen was on the map, and al-Qaida hysteria swept through the American media.

All this must be music to the ears of Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, whose position prior to 25 December had been looking increasingly precarious. But now deliverance may be at hand.

There was further encouragement for the Yemeni president the Wall Street Journal: “Mr Salah [sic] is an unpalatable partner,” it said. “But he is the only partner we have in Yemen.” (As Marc Lynch put it recently in his Foreign Policy blog, “If you like working with Hamid Karzai, you’re going to love Ali Abdullah Saleh.”)

For a wily character like Saleh (and you don’t rule a country like Yemen for 32 years without being extremely wily) he now knows two things. First, that the international community’s main reason for taking an interest in Yemen – and perhaps the only reason – is its fear of al-Qaida and, second, that if he is seen to be putting up a fight against al-Qaida the aid money will come rolling in.

But there’s a snag here. An unscrupulous psychiatrist who charges patients for therapy by the hour can make more money by prolonging their treatment, and it’s much the same with Saleh and al-Qaida. The longer it takes to defeat al-Qaida, the better the aid prospects. The trick, as Saleh well knows, is to spin out the battle while appearing to make progress – and progress against al-Qaida in Yemen is very difficult for outsiders to judge.

Read full article in Guardian


2 Responses to “Yemen and its wily president know how to spin a war”

  1. Consider that back in 2000, the USS Cole was blown up in Yemen (the Port of Aden) and Al Qaeda was held responsible and yet no action took place….despite the loss of life and the seriousness of the incident.

    Now we see a much smaller incident, with no deaths, take center stage, focused on the failed Underwear Bomber.

    The United States has ramped up its counterterrorism aid to Yemen in an intensified campaign to uproot al-Qaeda’s apparent offshoot, which Washington warns has become a “global” threat. Meanwhile U.S. military personnel are already on the ground training Yemeni security forces in the fight, and intelligence cooperation has increased.

  2. […] Western elites have not moved to do away with Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh because they cannot apparently find a thug to put in his place that will garner a modicum of tribal […]

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