Yesterday, the New York Times ran an article headlined In Yemen, Militants Are Increasingly Isolated. Reading down, we read
It was not clear why the Western countries closed their embassies now, because they have been left open during much more violent times in the capital
Hmmm. Why indeed?
Back to the headline, the wording gives a clue. It refers to ‘militants’, not ‘Houthis’ or ‘rebels’. Last summer, the government made a deal with Houthis who had flooded the capital city in peaceful protests. Long disenfranchised under previous president Saleh, the Houthis of Yemen had brought forward valid complaints. Shia Muslims, they have also suffered cross border attacks from Saudi Arabia, and under attack by local Al Qaeda franchises for years.
When the deal was made, the Houthis went home and waited. But the government never honored their commitment. So, in December, the Houthis returned to state their case more strongly. This time they were armed, and interestingly, backed by ex-president Saleh, a Houthi himself, and supposedly a long time US ally though not as compliant as Mr. Hadi. Surprising at first, but not so much in light of 21st century post-colonial imperialism. Maybe he wants his old job back.
In any case, this time the Houthis meant business. Even so, they demanded the formation of a unity government and have not taken the initiative to install themselves to replace the government. Weeks ago, the Houthis placed President Hadi under house arrest and demanded the formation of a unity government. Instead, Yemen’s Parliament was dissolved and Yemen’s western puppet masters now have closed shop and gone home. The United Nations has negotiators there, attempting to bring about a reconciliation.
On the 11th, the New York Times ran with, U.S. Embassy Shuts in Yemen, Even as Militant Leader Reaches Out, The title is certainly more honest, like one I just discussed, it makes little sense. This article frames the Houthis as violent Iranian proxies. I could go through a (rather long) history lesson to undermine this assertion, but in the space at hand, suffice it to say that every Shia Arab organization, tribe, and country is framed as an Iranian proxy and and a threat by the extreme Wahhabi Sunni Saudi establishment and their American.patrons. It’s kind of like saying that the Catholics in America are threat because they are all Venezuelan or Italian proxies trying to take over from the beleaguered protestants who have earned the right to rule. If that doesn’t make any sense to you, you got it right. It doesn’t make any sense.
Reading further, one sees that the UN negotiations are not going all that badly, as these things go. Could it be that is why the U.S. has decided to get out and take their friends with them? The article quotes an anonymous Western diplomat who says a January 19 attack at a Houthi checkpoint on an armored car carrying a U.S. diplomat was much worse than previously admitted. ” 87 automatic rounds” hit the car but none penetrated and no one was hurt. Wow, that’s some armored vehicle. Notice it doesn’t say a Houthi attack, just at a “Houthi checkpoint.” Anyway, this occurred nearly a month ago in an admittedly more violent context than exists in Sana’a today. So it doesn’t clearly explain why they are leaving now.
Now that negotiations look like they might bear fruit, the U.S. has to get out. The U.S. wants no part of political solutions. They are too risky. The people might not want what is in the best interest of the imperial overlords of the globe. And actually, it’s a little frightening that they have strongly encouraged all U.S. nationals to leave. Is there something they know that we don’t? Do they or their Saudi vassals have a ‘plan B’ to further disrupt Yemen? One can only hope they have run out of tricks and will allow the reconciliation process set in motion to proceed.
Earlier, I was going to say the U.S. ‘picked up their toys’ and went home. But then I remembered that – they haven’t done so. The drones are still there, and still bombing. According to the New York Times article yesterday, U.S. officials say that the Houthis have complained but “they have made no move to stop them”. One wonders what the U.S, expects this isolated band of rebels to do to stop them. They came to town to get a seat at the table, and found themselves alone in an empty hall. Now they are supposed to manage a renegade international ‘super power’ that closed it’s embassy while it continues to conduct bombings outside the framework of Yemeni sovereignty, and the laws of war against the will and the welfare of the people.
So maybe the Houthis in Sana’a are not so isolated after all. Despite an ongoing process to bring democracy to Yemen under western tutelage, the Houthis had not found a forum for their concerns or an invitation to participate. They had progressed from peaceful protests to militancy. But now, they have international support for the integration they have desired and a path to achieve it. Meanwhile, the US and her allies have abandoned a Yemen that isn’t simple and acquiescent, for now.
Author Judy Bello is a blogger and administrator of UpstateDroneAction.org. She works with the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, and with the United National Antiwar Coalition, and blogs at DeconstructedGlobe.com Her email is