Monday, April 09, 2007

Yemen and the Action in Iraq - Part of the GWOT

Jane Novak, who covers Yemeni issues at her blog Armies of Liberation has a piece in The Weekly Standard titled Training Day on Yemen's connection to Iraqi insurgents:
Presidential assistant Frances Townsend has described the Yemeni regime as an "inconsistent" partner in the war on terror, but Yemen has been quite consistent in its appeasement and facilitation of al Qaeda and related jihadi groups, and, as a result, has played a significant role in the destabilization of Iraq.

Yemeni jihadists are found in Somalia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Lebanon. Yemenis also comprise one of the largest contingents of foreign fighters in Iraq. 1,289 Yemeni men had traveled to Iraq for jihad by mid-2006, and 153 of them had been killed, according to the Yemeni weekly Al Tajamo. Other reports place the figure as high as 1800. Most were teenagers, the paper found, and were swayed by extremist religious rhetoric. The majority went to Iraq during 2006, indicating an uptick in the flow.

Yemenis and North Africans perpetrate the bulk of suicide bombings in Iraq, a U.S. official reported. Yemenis Khaldoun al-Hukaimi and Saleh Mana escaped from an Aden prison in 2003 where they were held in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole. They committed suicide attacks in Baghdad in July 2005.
And that recent surge of chlorine gas attacks in Iraq may also be linked to Yemeni practice:
A number of sources reported that Yemen was using chlorine gas against the Shiite rebels in 2005, a full year before foreign fighters in Iraq adopted the same tactic.
Jane also makes some serious charges:
The extent of the Yemeni regime's commitment to the jihadist mentality became apparent in October 2000. The bombing of the USS Cole in the port of Aden was accomplished with the assistance of high level Yemeni officials and the government largely stonewalled the FBI's investigation. After 9/11, the regime grudgingly signed on to U.S. counter-terror efforts. However, many of the operatives thought complicit in the Cole bombing were later released, given light sentences, or managed to escape multiple times. With Yemen currently teetering on state failure, intensified U.S. pressure for administrative reform in Yemen, a mafia-like kleptocracy, may be too little, too late.
Read the whole thing. And then tell me why we should do away with the "Global War on Terrorism" thing...

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