Al-Qaeda, Yemen, and the Great Game

By Larry Chin
Online Journal Associate Editor

In the wake of numerous reported terror attacks, officials now proclaim that Yemen to be a new “axis of terror”. The Al-Qaeda splinter group, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and US-born cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki are the targets of a new “war on terrorism” escalation.

While mainstream media seeds mass hysteria, full-scale military operations intensify throughout the Arabian Sea region.

Target: Yemen

The “war on terrorism” in Yemen is the pretext for the execution of long-running imperial plans. The Arabian Sea region has been the arena for superpower conflict for decades. It is the center of the West’s 21st century war for control of Middle East oil. It has been an obsession of elites such as Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski for decades.

Yemen, neighboring Saudi Arabia, at the gate of the Red Sea, is situated in the very center of the hot spot, at one of the world’s most vital oil transportation “choke points.”

The background for the current crisis in Yemen is sharply detailed in an analysis by William Engdahl: The Yemen Hidden Agenda: Behind the Al-Qaeda Scenarios

In this piece, Engdahl states, “The strategic significance of the region between Yemen and Somalia becomes the point of geopolitical interest. It is the site of Bab el-Mandab, one of what the US Government lists as seven strategic world oil shipping chokepoints. The US Government Energy Information Agency states that “closure of the Bab el-Mandab could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal/Sumed pipeline complex, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa. The Strait of Bab el-Mandab is a chokepoint between the horn of Africa and the Middle East, and a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean . . .

“An excuse for a US or NATO militarization of the waters around Bab el-Mandab would give Washington another major link in its pursuit of control of the seven most critical oil chokepoints around the world, a major part of any future US strategy aimed at denying oil flows to China, the EU or any region or country that opposes US policy. Given that significant flows of Saudi oil pass through Bab el-Mandab, a US military control there would serve to deter the Saudi Kingdom from becoming serious about transacting future oil sales with China or others no longer in dollars, as was recently reported by UK Independent journalist Robert Fisk.

“It would also be in a position to threaten China’s oil transport from Port Sudan on the Red Sea just north of Bab el-Mandab, a major lifeline in China’s national energy needs.

“In addition to its geopolitical position as a major global oil transit chokepoint, Yemen is reported to hold some of the world’s greatest untapped oil reserves. Yemen’s Masila Basin and Shabwa Basin are reported by international oil companies to contain “world class discoveries.” France’s Total and several smaller international oil companies are engaged in developing Yemen’s oil production. Some fifteen years ago I was told in a private meeting with a well-informed Washington insider that Yemen contained ‘enough undeveloped oil to fill the oil demand of the entire world for the next fifty years.’”

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula

The emergence of AQAP in Yemen coincides with intensifying militarization , ramped up covert operations, and a heavy CIA presence.

Engdahl wrote: “Al Qaeda, the alleged global terrorist organization created by the late CIA-trained Saudi, Osama bin Laden, has opened a major new branch in Yemen for both Yemen and Saudi operations.

“Al Qaeda in Yemen released a statement through online jihadist forums Jan. 20, 2009 from the group’s leader Nasir al-Wahayshi, announcing formation of a single al Qaeda group for the Arabian Peninsula under his command. According to al-Wahayshi, the new group, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, would consist of his former Al Qaeda in Yemen, as well as members of the defunct Saudi Al Qaeda group. The press release claimed, interestingly enough, that a Saudi national, a former Guantanamo detainee (Number 372), Abu-Sayyaf al-Shihri, would serve as al-Wahayshi’s deputy . . .

“The curious emergence of a tiny but well-publicized al Qaeda in southern Yemen amid what observers call a broad-based popular-based Southern Movement front that eschews the radical global agenda of al Qaeda, serves to give the Pentagon a kind of casus belli to escalate US military operations in the strategic region.[my emphasis-LC]

“Indeed, after declaring that the Yemen internal strife was Yemen’s own affair, President Obama ordered air strikes in Yemen. The Pentagon claimed its attacks on December 17 and 24 killed three key al Qaeda leaders but no evidence has yet proven this. Now the Christmas Day Detroit bomber drama [in 2009-LC] gives new life to Washington’s “War on Terror” campaign in Yemen . . .”

Lending further propaganda power to the pursuit of AQAP, Yemen is also the birth place of Osama bin Laden, and the scene of the bombing of the USS Cole.

Yemeni Prime Minister Ali Muhammed al-Mujawar said that al-Qaida is a “western made” group, and was never created by his country. According to another report, the threat is exaggerated in relation to the massive military and political resources now being devoted to Yemen.

To quote Engdahl: ”Perhaps there is more to Washington’s recent Yemen concern than a rag-tag al Qaeda whose very existence as a global terror organization has been doubted by seasoned Islamic experts.”

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