[Originally presented at a Panel Discussion entitled: Revolutionary Upheavals in Mid-East & N. Africa held in Washington, DC on June 3, 2011]
This presentation consists of two parts. The first part is to show how the U.S. so-called war on terrorism is a project for subduing other governments, assimilating their intelligence and armed forces into those of the U.S. and finally turning a part of other country's territories into one of a series of U.S. bases in the region and in fact around the world.
The second part intends to show that the U.S. war on terrorism is a plan for the militarization of the Indian Ocean and control of the world’s critical waterways, especially related to the transportation and control of oil and gas resources.
For the U.S. to penetrate into a countless number of economically, politically and militarily vulnerable countries, such as Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, (UAE), Djibouti, Oman, Somalia and Yemen, it has to impress and ultimately dictate upon them that their countries are invaded by some alien agents, like Al-Qaeda, or infected by some domestic terrorist groups which need to be eradicated, for they present dangers to world peace and national security and interests of the U.S. in the region. To control these alien and undesirable groups, U.S. says a unified and integrated intelligence and operational military bases are needed, towards which Washington would provide intelligence and military trainers of the local population, the logistics, the aerial bombers, including unmanned drones that can target the villages along with its residents.
Among a group of small countries, in the Arabian Peninsula, Yemen with 50.2% illiteracy rate, annual per capita income (ppp) of $2600 and 45.2% of the population below the poverty line was chosen to be an ideal prey for the U.S. plots of dependency, control and exploitation. Although Yemen is a country in which more than 10 million people are threatened by starvation, where thousands risk their lives trying to sneak into neighboring countries in search of better opportunities, and where children are forced into labor markets, it is a fertile land with beaches that stretch for more than 1100 miles.
At the same time, the fierce competition between the CIA Operations Directorate, the Special Operations Forces (SOF) and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) for receiving a greater share of the covert and drone wars, which go hand in hand with a bigger share of the war budget and larger defense industry kickbacks, have exposed the devious intention of the administration in extending and widening the wars in Asia as approved by President Obama last year. According to Gareth Porter of Inteldaily.com, the CIA Directorate and Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley McChrystal urged Obama in 2009 to expand covert operations to a dozen countries in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia. On the basis of the Obama directive, Gen. Petraeus on September 30, 2009 issued an order to form a Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force for gathering intelligence to be used in covert military operations across the entire United States Central Command (CENTCOM) area.
On December 17, 2009, about 2 ½ months after the Gen. Petraeus order, a cruise missile was launched against what was supposed to be an al Qaeda military base in Abyan province in South Yemen. But the strike that killed 41 members of two families, including 17 women, one man and 23 children was based on arbitrary and fabricated intelligence.
On May 27, 2010, another cruise missile killed a deputy province head who was negotiating between Yemeni authorities and opposition leaders. Consequently, the local population responded by attacking an oil pipeline in the area. After these inhumane and provocative strikes against the people of Yemen, the White House was urged to take control of the drones away from the generals and hand them over to the CIA, a long time violent counter-revolutionary organization.
The U.S. selfish, arbitrary and heavy-handed policies of support for the puppet regime of Saleh has been at the cost of holding the Yemeni society back from independent and self-reliant development in such vital arenas as its economy, domestic and foreign political direction and relevant institutions and necessary civic society foundations.
For many reasons including its long border with Saudi Arabia, its strategically-located position linking the Mediterranean Sea to South Asia and the Far East, through the Suez Canal, Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, Yemen occupies a very special place in the U.S. strategy for easy and convenient access to 41.7% of the world's oil exports from the Persian Gulf and exercising its military muscle over a long stretch of the Indian Ocean in support of world capitalism, the exploiters and its Western Allies.
From Terrorism to Building Military Bases
Receiving its first hand messages from the public relations desks of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of State (DOS), the U.S. mainstream media sees as its role to inflate and dramatize the fictitious news of terrorist activities in other countries – in this case in Yemen or by some stretch of imagination its extension with some unsubstantiated alleged activities of American citizens of Muslim background in the West. The natural and normal reaction of a rational individual or a human society is to avoid coming into contact with such communities whose residents would prefer us to refrain from meddling into their domestic affairs. But diametrically opposed to rational responses, the U.S. begins showing its strong desire to intervene and challenge the societies too far from home, and prepare the ground for confrontation and another full-scale war.
For the U.S. ruling class, politically and administratively, symbolized in the U.S. Congress and the White House, the news of terrorist activities in any one of the oil-rich Middle Eastern countries is a cause celebre for building another military base on one of the "chokepoints" along major sea lanes connecting the sources of oil supply to the world markets.
Legacies of North and South
Any analysis of Yemen today would be incomplete without, at least, mentioning the evolution of the country in the last few decades. Until 1990 Yemen was split into two separate countries: the socialist and secular People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen in the south that identified itself with the then socialist camp and the pro-capitalist, conservative and Saudi-dominated Yemen Arab Republic in the North. Prior to their unification in 1990, for two decades the northern government centered in Sanaa received all sorts of financial and military aide from the U.S. and Britain to undermine the South that finally went down with the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Being aware that the socialist aspirations among the people in the South may receive an impetus from the current popular struggle against president Ali Abdullah Saleh, the U.S. is raising its stake and is doubling its efforts to consolidate its military base in the islands of Socotra in the Indian Ocean. The islands are located some 50 miles off the horn of Africa (Somalia) and 236 miles south of the Yemeni coastline. These islands are a wildlife reserve to many sea animals, and recognized by (UNESCO) as a World Natural Heritage Site.
But the U.S. Navy has a different plan for the islands. "The Pentagon and the CIA have spent the past several years training a 'new guard' within the Yemeni security apparatus – mainly National Security Bureau, Special Forces and Central Security Forces…," writes Scott Stewart in the Security Weekly of Stratfor on March 31, 2011.
"Whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene." (U.S. Navy Geo-strategist Rear Admiral Alfred Thayus Mahand (1840-1914)). Among Washington's strategic objectives in the world is the militarization of space and essential seaways. A military base in Socotra could be used to monitor and if necessary control the movement of oil tankers and warships in and out of the Gulf of Aden.
According to a new report by Amjed Jaaved in the Pakistan Observer on July 1, 2009, "The Indian Ocean is a major sea lane connecting the Middle East, East Asia and Africa with Europe and the Americas. It has four crucial access waterways facilitating international maritime trade, that is the Suez Canal in Egypt, Bab-el-Mandeb (bordering Djibouti and Yemen), the Strait of Hormuz (bordering Iran and Oman), and Straits of Malaaca (bordering Indonesia and Malaysia). These "chokepoints" are crucial to world oil trade as huge amount of oil pass through them."
Militarily, the Socotra archipelago is at a strategic maritime crossroads. The U.S. objective is to police the Gulf of Aden waterway from the Yemeni to Somalian coastline. There is a distance of 1860 miles between Socotra and the U.S. naval base of Diego Garcia, which is one of the largest American overseas bases.
Patreaus-Saleh Jan. 2, 2010 Meeting
A year and a half ago, on Jan. 2, 2010, General David Petraeus and President Saleh met to finalize U.S. military engagement in Yemen, including the establishment of a full-fledged military base on the island of Socotra. A day before the Patreaus-Saleh meeting in Sanaa, the U.S. general confirmed in a Baghdad press conference that "security assistance" to Yemen would more than double, from $70 million to more than $150 million, which shows a 14-fold increase since 2006. To our amazement, the establishment of U.S. air force and intelligence bases on the island of Socotra was described in the U.S. media, shamelessly, as part of the "Global War on Terrorism". The U.S. military buildup in Socotra is not limited to only an air force base. The construction of a naval facility is also part of the plan. Just a few days before the Petraeus-Saleh meeting, the Yemeni cabinet was informed of a $14 million loan offer from Kuwait's sheiks to support the development of the Socotra seaport project. According to the opposition newspaper, al-Haq, "a new civilian airport built on Socotra to promote tourism had conveniently been built to conform to U.S. military specifications."
I would like to say that the Socotra archipelago military build up in the heart of Asia is part of the Great Game to check the freedom of Iran, Russia and Latin America's naval movement.
About the Author: Ardeshir Ommani is an Iranian-born writer, political economist and president of the American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC) www.iranaifc.com in the USA. He has two Masters Degrees in the fields of Political Economy and Mathematics Education, and was a Doctoral Candidate in Economics at the New School For Social Research. He has written tens of articles documenting U.S. foreign policy toward Iran, and translated a number of books and articles into Farsi (Persian) language, which have been published inside Iran. He can be reached at: [email protected]