Citing the Arab language Al Masirah TV news site, 20th Century Wire is reporting that some 100 US Army Special Forces have landed recently at the Anad air base in Lahij, Yemen. This deployment is said to augment other Arab forces currently fighting in southern Yemen. It was only just over a year ago that the US was forced to evacuate its forces from Yemen as fighting increased between the deposed Saudi-backed government and a Houthi-led insurgency.
The Saudi war on Yemen which began just over a year ago has not only claimed the lives of thousands of civilians and destroyed what little infrastructure existed in the Arab world’s poorest country, it also created perfect conditions for the expansion of al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP).
The Saudi invasion and destruction of Yemen has gone much further than just boosting al-Qaeda’s prospects in the country, however. According to a recent investigation by Reuters, al-Qaeda has been able to establish a mini-state inside Yemen.
Once driven to near irrelevance by the rise of Islamic State abroad and security crackdowns at home, al Qaeda in Yemen now openly rules a mini-state with a war chest swollen by an estimated $100 million in looted bank deposits and revenue from running the country’s third largest port.
If Islamic State’s capital is the Syrian city of Raqqa, then al Qaeda’s is Mukalla, a southeastern Yemeni port city of 500,000 people. Al Qaeda fighters there have abolished taxes for local residents, operate speedboats manned by RPG-wielding fighters who impose fees on ship traffic, and make propaganda videos in which they boast about paving local roads and stocking hospitals.
Despite the fact that it has proven a godsend to al-Qaeda, the United States has been solidly behind the Saudi attack and invasion of Yemen. The US even provided cluster bombs to the Saudis, who promptly used them against the decimated civilian population.
In fact, according to several reports, including this one from the International Business Times, Saudi Arabia is fighting alongside al-Qaeda in Yemen to restore ousted president Hadi’s government to power.
So let’s recap: the US backs the Saudi invasion of Yemen which produces an al-Qaeda mini-state against which the US decides to send Special Forces back into Yemen to fight. More US-backed Saudi attacks on Yemen further strengthens al-Qaeda which necessitates even more US troops in Yemen. It is a dream come true for the military-industrial complex, something defense analyst Chuck Spinney has termed the “self-licking ice cream cone.”
Analyst Mike Lofgren explains how the “self-licking ice cream cone” works:
…the measures to fight the war on terrorism guaranteed more terrorists, which in turn guaranteed the agencies more money to fight the war on terrorism. The same process was at work with respect to torture and drone strikes. It is a great business model for contractors and bureaucratic empire builders, but far less favorable as a national survival strategy.
That, in a nutshell, is US policy in Yemen. And Syria. And Iraq. And so on. Nice work if you can get it…unless you are on the receiving end.
This article was published by RonPaul Institute.