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The U.S. and Al Qaeda Are on the Same Side in Yemen

The Wall Street Journal reports [1] that the Saudis’ proxies in Yemen are fighting alongside Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP):

Meanwhile, Saudi-backed militias are spearheading efforts to roll back Houthi gains and reinstate the government that the rebels drove into exile in neighboring Saudi Arabia. But they have turned to Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, for help, according to local residents and a senior Western diplomat. This puts the U.S.-allied Gulf kingdom on the same side as one of the world’s most notorious extremist groups [bold mine-DL].

The U.S.-backed Saudi intervention has been boosting AQAP for months as it has targeted one of their main local enemies and left them free to seize new territory and weapons. Now the Saudis’ local allies are relying on AQAP’s support in their fight with the Houthis. It may have seemed that the war on Yemen could not get worse from the perspective of U.S. interests, but now it has. AQAP is not just the beneficiary of a dangerous U.S.-backed attack, but it is now siding with Saudi-backed forces. The U.S. and AQAP are effectively on the same side in Yemen. The latter lend aid to the same campaign that the U.S. backs, and U.S. client governments rely on American weapons, refueling, and intelligence as they attack the enemies of the jihadists.

This just drives home how contrary to U.S. interests the Saudi campaign has been from the start. The Saudis’ war isn’t just providing AQAP with an opportunity to make new gains, but it is now to some extent depending on AQAP to achieve any successes on the ground. The U.S. is enabling this disaster with its continued support for the Saudis’ unnecessary and indefensible war on Yemen, and things promise to keep getting worse the longer that the U.S. indulges its clients in their recklessness.

15 Comments (Open | Close)

15 Comments To "The U.S. and Al Qaeda Are on the Same Side in Yemen"

#1 Comment By jk On July 17, 2015 @ 4:07 am

ISIS is directly or indirectly working for and funded from the House of Saud.

David Gardner in FT made this keen observation:

“But it was also Prince Saud, Arab officials say, who told John Kerry, US secretary of state, last summer after Isis surged back from Syria into Iraq, that “Daesh [an Arabic acronym for Isis] is our [Sunni] response to your support for the Da’wa”,the Shia Islamist party that has dominated Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s minority Sunni regime — with varying degrees of support from Washington and Tehran.”


#2 Comment By Uncle Billy On July 17, 2015 @ 7:09 am

The middle east is complicated, with very few “good guys” and lots of “bad guys.” The Iranians are usually bad guys, except when they are fighting ISIS in Iraq. Both Assad and ISIS are bad guys in Syria. We really need to think before we plunge into these conflicts, as we might end up fighting for people who are as bad or worse than the so called bad guys.

The Saudis support Sunni fanatics, and the Iranians fight Sunni fanatics. So why are we so anxious to support the Saudis?

#3 Comment By Ron Beasley On July 17, 2015 @ 8:50 am

Even in the 21st century the middle east remains a tribal society and the geographic borders created by the Europeans are meaningless. It even goes deeper than the Shia Sunni divide.

#4 Comment By Captain P On July 17, 2015 @ 9:04 am

You’d think the most powerful nation in the world could find some foreign policy leaders who could understand (a) al-Qaeda and its affiliates are our #1 enemy and (b) Saudi Arabia is not a country we need- it’s a country that needs us. If Saudi Arabia is more opposed to a local Shiite movement in Yemen than an international terrorist organization, we need to “persuade” the Saudis to change their minds or change their leaders.

#5 Comment By CharleyCarp On July 17, 2015 @ 10:02 am

As noted previously, and repeatedly, only one faction in Yemen’s multi-sided civil war has attacking Westerners in the West as not only a long term goal, but a short term objective. To the extent we have any interest at all in the Yemeni war, other than simply humanitarian, it would seem to be combating that faction.

#6 Comment By Essayist-Lawyer On July 17, 2015 @ 11:06 am

This isn’t even a case of not knowing whether we are at war with Eurasia or Eastasia on any given day. More like a case of fighting Eurasia in one theater and Eastasia in another.

#7 Comment By Charlieford On July 17, 2015 @ 11:06 am

“So why are we so anxious to support the Saudis?”

Do you really have to ask?

#8 Comment By Contra Verres On July 17, 2015 @ 11:48 am

We allow the Saudis to in effect support Al Qaeda. We also allow the Saudis to slaughter Yemeni civilians with our weapons and maintain a stranglehold on food, medicines, and other supplies going in and out of Yemeni territory.

We allow the Israelis to in effect support ISIS. We also allow the Israelis to slaughter Palestinian civilians with American weapons and maintain a stranglehold on food, medicines, and other supplies going in and out of Palestinian territory.

In supporting Saudi Arabia and Israel, we support states that harbor and/or cause the terrorism now directed against us.

It is literally madness, the madness of an awkward giant whose inner councils have been penetrated and compromised by corrupt politicians and civil servants, some in the pay of foreign interests, some motivated by the fanatical attachments to foreign countries that George Washington warned against in his Farewell Address.

#9 Comment By SDS On July 17, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

If this weren’t so horrible it would be readily seen by all as the incredible farce that it is…..

#10 Comment By KXB On July 17, 2015 @ 2:23 pm

In fits and starts, the U.S. is abandoning the policy of containing Iran. The “dual containment” policy directed towards Iraq and Iran, started by Bill Clinton, ended when Bush toppled Saddam. The theory was that a demonstration of American strength would get Iran to toe the line.

Of course, it did not work out that way. Iran’s clout increased, although the Sunni states exaggerate by how much. Trying to force Iran to lessen its clout proved to be costly and unworkable. Especially when it became apparent to anyone not on the Israeli or Saudi payroll that our interests with Iran line up in important places. Israel’s main goal is continue West Bank settlements. The Saudis want to remain the pre-eminent Muslim power and oil operator. Neither of these are in America’s interest.

#11 Comment By a spencer On July 17, 2015 @ 10:51 pm

…and so predictable.

Heck, I came across something I posted here a couple years ago about the PDRY, the Huthis on-and-off again conflicts as a separate matter from AQ, drone strikes in Abyan Province, rising secessionist movements in completely different parts of a one-candidate “democracy”, etc.

I have to/want to believe there are people in the US State Dept who know all that and much more and understand how horrific this is. This has to get kicked up to their superiors. Then it stops and no one talks about it?

#12 Comment By Tom On July 18, 2015 @ 2:32 am

“So why are we so anxious to support the Saudis?”

Do you really have to ask?

Yes, we do have to ask. Because the answer cannot possibly be oil.

Saudi Arabia’s top export destinations are: China 18.5%, Japan 18.3%, South Korea 13.3%, India 11.2%, Singapore 5.9%. The United States gets practically no oil from Saudi Arabia.

Ah, but oil is a fungible commodity, and Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter. Well, great. Russia and Iran are the second and third largest oil exporters. Why aren’t we backing up Russia and Iran in everything that they do?

Frankly, it’s way past time to extricate ourselves from the Saudi mess. If the Chinese, Japanese, South Koreans, Indians, and Singaporeans want to back the Saudis, then that’s their business.

#13 Comment By Charlieford On July 18, 2015 @ 3:17 pm

Our long history with them aside, and the fact they’ve never attacked the Israelis, aside, too, the Saudis are the biggest player in OPEC, which produces about 40% of the world’s supply.

The US is close to matching Saudi production, actually, and will soon get most of its oil from this hemisphere, but OPEC still has a huge say in what the price of that oil will be.

As we saw this past year, as the Saudis kept pumping, despite declining prices.

#14 Comment By Tom On July 18, 2015 @ 9:28 pm

Our long history with them aside, and the fact they’ve never attacked the Israelis, aside, too, the Saudis are the biggest player in OPEC, which produces about 40% of the world’s supply.

That’s a reason for Israel to support the Saudis. Not for us. Why should we let Israel be the determining principle of our foreign policy? The Israelis certainly don’t defer to us when determining their foreign policy.

Besides which, Iran and Russia haven’t attacked Israel either.

As for “our long history” with the Saudis, that just says that we’ve been doing stupid stuff for a very long time. Maybe we should stop acting like suckers to these greedy client states.

As for Saudi Arabia being the biggest producer in OPEC, what about the other 25% that’s OPEC but non-Saudi? What about the other 60% that’s non-OPEC?

Any combination of countries that sums up to 15% (the Saudi share of world production) should have an equal claim to a blank check from the United States. We need to stop handing out blank checks.

#15 Comment By Charlieford On July 18, 2015 @ 10:16 pm

There’s what should be, and there’s what is.