free water and electricity: Al Qaeda embraces civic duties and courts hearts and minds in South Yemen.
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A country, blighted by poverty, political strife and a weak corrupt government, being bombed by US drones which target ‘terrorists’ but killed civilians. ‘An army’ of young men ready take up arms for some global cause. Sound familiar?
The Guardian spent two months in the country, travelling to the tribal regions of Abyan and Shabwa, where al-Qaida has set up shop and where suspected US drone attacks have killed scores of civilians and few insurgents. Speaking to jihadis, security officials and tribesmen, it became clear how a combination of government alliances, bribes, broken promises and bungled crackdowns has allowed Islamists to flourish and led to the emergence of the country as a regional hub for al-Qaida.
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‘Al-Qaida in Yemen’:
The market at Jaar, a small city in Abyan province in southern Yemen, is on a filthy, dusty road strewn with garbage, plastic bottles, cans and rotten food. Plastic bags fly on the hot wind and feral dogs sniff around the vegetable stalls. Minibuses and donkey carts jostle for space on the crowded street.
Standing in the middle of the chaos is one of the jihadi gunmen for whom the town has become famous. Thin, short, with a well-groomed beard and shoulder-length hair, he is dressed in the Afghan style: shalwar kameez, camouflage vest and an old Kalashnikov. He is either a bandit imposing a protection racket on the merchants or a rebel protecting them from the corrupt regime – and most probably a bit of both.
Note the following quote:
“I agree with George Bush in one thing,” he said, pulling at his beard. “He gave us a really accurate wisdom: you are either with us or against us, you are either with Islam or with the crusaders. I tell the Muslim clerics in the whole world you are either with the flag of the mujahideen and God is great or you are with the flag of the cross … there is no other option.”
According to Marc Ambinder, the Obama Administration will send Mohammed Odaini back to Yemen, honoring the court ruling in which he won his habeas corpus petition, and in which the Obama Administration to the eternal shame of all involved in the case, argued that Odaini was being lawfully held, an argument which they knew to be false. They also knew at the time and continue to know that Odaini was no threat to anyone, and as Ambinder notes, would not have sent Odaini back to Yemen, regardless of the decisions of any courts, if the CIA and DIA had not signed off on this.
Amnesty International has released photographic evidence that Obama and his military used cluster bombs in the missiles they fired into a Yemeni village last December, killing 52 people including 21 children and 14 women.
An official of the Yemeni opposition party says attempts to ban child marriage are part of a ‘Western agenda’.
The official, Sheik Mohammed Hamzi, is quoted as saying:
“I am against the child marriage law because it restrains the freedom of others. When a certain age [for marriage] is set, it violates the rights of others. For example, imagine a young man of 13 or 14 years of age who wants to have sex. … This is a violation of his rights…”
The Yemenization of Theo
Do the Yemeni newspaper’s revelation make Padnos uneasy? “Slightly. Yes,” he says with a nervous chuckle on a recent phone interview from Paris. “But not totally. I want to have a civilized debate with these [Salafists]. I feel that what they’re doing is not correct, and it’s bad.”
In the wake of threats by al Shabaab to send fighters to Yemen to assist Al Qaeda there, the Yemeni government is cracking down on Somali refugees and keeping them locked in camps.
This follows reports earlier this week in Kenya that authorities there swept through Somali neighborhoods and rounded people up by the hundreds after protests on behalf of Abdullah al Faisal.
Apparently, Somali refugees are being unfairly tainted with the reputation of al Shabaab and viewed more widely in Africa with suspicion and mistrust. Consequently, they are being targeted for greater persecution.
One of the bloggers at Waq al-Waq has been testifying at a US Senate hearing about Yemen. His co-blogger has been live-blogging it. A sample:
Daniel Benjamin, Coordinator for Counterterrorism US state dept: we have very specific conditions on the end use of whatever [military aid] we give them [Yemen], with mechanisms to check how they do so. I like this, and it seems that we learned from Musharraf. If US bombs or bullets are used against the Huthis or in the south, we might as well just depose Salih ourselves and say “have at it, Qaeda!”
To be clear, that would be a bad idea.