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Yemen's Houthis eject pres. Hadi who UK, US, Israel back
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Trustworthy Freedom Fighter
Trustworthy Freedom Fighter

Joined: 13 Jan 2007
Posts: 2296
Location: Westminster, LONDON, SW1A 2HB.

PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The attack on Yemen is not “Saudi-led” but Saudi-fronted. Britain and the United States are concealed behind what Lord Curzon once called an ‘Arab facade’."
Documentation of U.K.-crimes in Yemen
https://britishempireexposed.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/britains-role-in -yemen

Britain’s role in Yemen

10:50 pm · 20 May 2018

Britain’s role in Yemen
Saudi-fronted campaign
https://britishempireexposed.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/britains-role-in -yemen/

The attack on Yemen is not “Saudi-led” but merely Saudi-fronted. Britain and the United States are concealed behind what Lord Curzon once called an ‘Arab facade’. Philip Hammond claimed Britain aren’t directly involved in the Yemen campaign but hinted they could be in the future. He instead states that Britain will support the assault on Yemen “in every practical way short of engaging in combat”. [9] Below is a catalogue of British involvement, based on reporting so far:

Direct involvement by British personnel

British military personnel key in the codes that help select and attack targets. [10]
Britain provides Saudi Arabia with intelligence for targeting. [13]
“[S]ix [British] experts are working with Saudi targeteers who select locations for attack.” [11]
British officials have access to lists of targets. [1]
Targeting training: Britain is providing targeting training to Saudi forces, including for cruise missile attacks. Three three-week courses in targeting for the Royal Saudi Air Force (20 attendees on each). Saudi land forces were trained in targeting and “weapons-locating radar”. [14]
Presence in the command room

British military personnel are in the command room as airstrikes are carried out. [10] [1]
The control room (with the British personnel inside) is in Riyadh. [12]

Sky News reports: “British military experts have joined Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against rebels in Yemen”. [11]
The British military team in Riyadh make battle-damage assessments following bombing raids. [33]
Signing off arms licenses

Government ministers sign off all weapons licenses. [16]
Pilot training

Britain trained the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) in both Britain and Saudi Arabia. [31]
Weapons training

Saudis were trained to use ‘Storm Shadow’ (“an air-launched explosive device designed to destroy buried enemy command centres”). [14]
Britain may host Saudi personnel in the UK for further training. [14]
Other support

Refuelling: Britain/US is helping to provide airborne refuelling for bomber jets. [13]
Intelligence [7]
Logistical support [7]

Weapons sold

Aircraft [7] [9]
Hammond confirmed British-made aircraft were being used in the campaign. [9]
Helicopters [7]
Drones [7]
Bombs [16] [7] [21]
Cluster bombs [19]
Britain is believed to have sold large numbers of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia since the 1990s. [19]
Missiles [13] [16] [7]
Britain agreed to provide hundreds of Paveway IV missiles. [13]
Rockets [16]
Tanks [7]
Armoured vehicles [7]
Grenades [7]
Laser guidance kits [21]
Cash value

Saudi Arabia is Britain’s biggest customer for arms sales. [21]
Britain has agreed £5.6bn arms contracts with Saudi Arabia in the last five years. [11]
Britain agreed orders for £3.5bn of weaponry since the start of 2015 (reported in August 2016). [21]
Since the conflict began Britain has granted arms licenses to Saudi Arabia for £3.3 billion (US$4.4 billion) worth of arms/ammunition in the first year of the war. [15] [7]
Britain licensed £2.8bn of weaponry to Saudi Arabia between March 2015 – April 2016. [14]
£1,066,216,510 of weapons was sold to Saudi Arabia from July to September 2015 [16]
Increase in arms sales

“Over a three-month period in 2015, the value of exports of British-made bombs and missiles had increased by 11,000%, from £9m to £1bn.” [10]
British arms companies increased sales to Saudi Arabia by over a hundred times. [16]
Despite war crimes Philip Hammond said: “We’d always like to do more business”. [16]
Cameron’s belief that there is no military solution to the conflict didn’t affect arms exports to Saudi Arabia. [16]

Britain backed the blockade of Yemen in a UN Security Council resolution (Note – very few articles in the British mainstream press even mention the blockade). [7]
The blockade is being enforced by US/NATO ships. In November 2016 it was reported that Britain had secretly deployed a £1bn ‘Destroyer’ warship to the coast of Yemen. [32]
Britain’s closest ally, the US, has seven combat ships (including the USS Winston Churchill) surrounding Yemen carrying thousands of soldiers. [26]
Diplomatic cover/dishonesty

Denying humanitarian violations

Boris Johnson said the Saudis were not “in clear breach” of humanitarian law. The British Foreign Office corrected this on 21st July 2016: “We have been unable to assess whether there is a breach of international humanitarian law.” [7]
The British Foreign Office said: “The Government is satisfied that extant licences for Saudi Arabia are compliant with this export licensing criteria.” [19]
Britain claims Saudi Arabia didn’t drop a British-made cluster bomb, despite Amnesty evidence. [20]

Misleading parliament
The British government repeatedly misled parliament. [7]
Tobias Ellwood was forced to correct six statements that had previously been given about the conflict. [21]
There is an official blanket ban on comments about ‘Special Forces’ operations or intelligence matters. There is a common practice of ‘seconding’ military personnel to intelligence agencies, bringing them under the umbrella of this ban. Such a tactic allows the British government to outright lie about military involvement in various conflicts. [1]
In January 2016 Cameron said: British “personnel are not involved in carrying out strikes, directing or conducting operations in Yemen or selecting targets and we’re not involved in the Saudi targeting decision-making process.” [1]
13th September 2016 – The British government claims “[t]here are no UK Armed Forces personnel based in Yemen”. [5]
Blocking investigation
Britain helped block an independent investigation of human rights violations at the UN Human Rights Council. [7] [18]
In 2006 Blair prevented an investigation into arms sales to Saudi Arabia. [21]
Calling for self-investigation
Boris Johnson said the Saudis should self-investigate because they have “the best insight”, adding, “[t]his is the standard we set ourselves”. This is obviously an official government line because British Foreign Office official Joyce Anelay said almost exactly the same thing when responding to a question put to the FCO. [7] [22]
Watering down condemnation
The British government watered down a government report relating to arms sales to Saudi Arabia. [7]
Making excuses
Ellwood defended Saudi Arabia’s response to criticism: “It was new territory for Saudi Arabia and a conservative nation was not used to such exposure.” [7]
Ignoring war crimes/human rights violations

There are doubts within the Foreign Office about the legality of the British contribution in Yemen. Foreign Office lawyers, diplomats and advisers to Hammond have warned that Britain could be prosecuted for war crimes because arms sales to Saudi Arabia may breach international humanitarian law. [13]
Human Rights Watch say they have documented 30 examples breaching the international rules of war (Sky News reported this in January 2016). [11]
Amnesty, HRW and other NGOs say there is no doubt British weapons have hit civilians. [13]
At the start of 2016 Human Rights Watch found evidence of British-made bombs and laser guidance kits being used in Yemen. [21]
Britain is aware of reports of airstrikes on medical facilities. [22]
Amnesty documented the recent use of a British-made cluster bomb in Yemen, which has been banned for decades. The cluster bomb was a British-made BL-755, designed to be dropped by British-made Tornado jets (used by Saudi Arabia). [19]
A civilian factory was proven to be destroyed by a British cruise missile, causing civilian loss of life. [13]
A widely-circulated video shows a college being bombed in Yemen (January 2016), which is a war crime. [15]
Since 2014 Britain has trained “either security or armed forces personnel” in Yemen, despite the country being on Britain’s own watchlist of human rights abusers. [8]
Destruction of Yemen
Deaths during the conflict

Total deaths
At least 10,000 Yemenis have died so far (reported January 2016). [11]
The war has killed 10,000 people (reported September 2016). [15]
Civilian deaths
Two-thirds of civilian casualties have been caused by the airstrikes. [16]
Close to 5,000 civilians have been killed (reported in November 2015). [13]
The UN says 3,218 civilians have been killed so far (reported in March 2016). [17]
This article (from April 2016) states 2,800 civilians have been killed in the conflict (700+ children). [14]
UN says the air-bombing of Yemen has killed 2,000 civilians (reported August 2016). [12]
Children deaths
Unicef: 10 children a day are being killed. [13]
Casualties during the conflict
60% of casualties are a result of Saudi-fronted British/US airstrikes. [18]
Targeting civilians

Peter Oborne claims he witnessed evidence of British proxies (Saudi Arabia/GCC) targeting civilians. [7]
Examples of civilian incidents (not exhaustive):
School [12] [15] [14]
630 schools and institutes damaged/destroyed. [7]
A school was bombed killing ten children in an area far from the front-line where there was no active ground fighting. [12]
A college was bombed. [15]
Wedding [14] [16]
Airstrikes killed 130 civilians at a wedding. [16] [14]
Medical facilities [2] [14]
250 health facilities damaged/destroyed. [7]
Airstrikes on medical facilities. [2] [14]
Four MSF hospitals were hit by airstrikes despite MSF giving their GPS coordinates to Saudi authorities. [7]
648 mosques have been damaged/destroyed. [7]
330,000 homes damaged/destroyed. [7]
106 people were killed in an airstrike on a market. UN said there were no military targets nearby. [17]
Civilian infrastructure
A civilian factory was destroyed. [13]
Birth defects

Doctors in Yemen have reported a drastic increase in stillbirths and children born with deformities in areas under heavy bombardment. [34]
Blockade-related suffering

20 of Yemen’s 22 governates are on the edge of famine. [18]
The World Food Programme: most Yemeni provinces are one level below a full famine crisis. [13]
UN: 21 million lack basic life-sustaining services. [13]
Unicef: 6 million face food insecurity. [13]
A doctor estimates there are 25 people dying every day at the Republic hospital due to the blockade alone. [7]

UN: 1.5 million have been displaced from their home [13]
Unexploded munitions

Cluster bombs
Amnesty claims a British-made cluster bomb was dropped in Yemen on 18th or 19th January 2016. [20]
An unexploded cluster bomb containing 147 ‘bomblets’ was found in a Yemeni village. [19]
Villagers have been injured attempting to clear unexploded ‘bomblets’. [19]
Previous British campaign in Yemen, leading into the current conflict

Timeframe (according to reports)

Since 2002 Britain has played “a leading role” in a ‘JPEL’ assassination campaign in a number of countries, including Yemen. [6]
The British Foreign Office has confirmed its “counter-terrorism capacity building support” continued up until the closure of the embassy in February 2015. [1]
Reports have shown that the drone-bombing campaign continues to this day, as does the involvement of British intelligence. [27]
Conducting covert operations

MI6 and British ‘Special Forces’ have been active in covert operations in Yemen. [1]
MI6 have infiltrated AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Britain has a long history of protecting agents in such groups and allowing them to commit atrocities. [2]
British officials took part in “hits”. [3]
Providing military infrastructure

A British base in England (Menwith Hill) is used to aid “a significant number of capture-kill operations” in a number of countries, Yemen included. [7]
Reported: The British government has consistently asserted that operations at this base “have always been, and continue to be” carried out with its “knowledge and consent.” [7]
Providing intelligence for drone-strikes

MI6 and British ‘Special Forces’ identify targets for drone-strikes. [1]
MI6 provided targeting information for drone-strikes. The intelligence for a strike can come from British intelligence personnel embedded in AQAP. [2]
British officials “triangulate[d]” intelligence for target lists. [3]
British officials prepared “target packages” for the assassination campaign. [3]
MI6 helps observe and fix targets ahead of drone-strikes. [2]
The nature of the program

The drone program considers all ‘military-age males’ in a ‘strike zone’ as legitimate targets. [4]
1,147 people have been killed in attempts to target 41 named individuals. [3]
Ex-Foreign Minister of Yemen said Britain had a “blank cheque” to carry out drone operations. [3]
However their consent wasn’t necessary as Tony Blair made clear in 2001: “Our strategy should be to work with the Yemenis if we can, but to leave them in no doubt that if they fail to take the necessary action, they run the risk of others doing it for them”. [28]
The significance of Britain’s role

A former senior CIA official, when discussing a particular drone-strike confirmed: “the most important contribution” to the intelligence for the strike came from “a very important British capability” – British intelligence personnel embedded within AQAP. [2]
British officials played a “crucial and sustained role” in the drone program. [3]
An ex-CIA official said Britain played a “pretty critical” role in the drone program. [3]
Operations Room

In support of drone-strikes, British officials worked in a Yemeni National Security Bureau “joint operations room” with US and Yemeni forces. [3]
An MI6 team mentored Yemenis in a Joint Operations Room, observing and fixing targets ahead of drone-strikes. [2]

As the British government refuses to talk about ‘Special Forces’ operations, they denied their part in the drone program. In 2014 the MoD said: “The UK does not provide any military support to the US campaign of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS) strikes on Yemen.” [1]
In 2014 the British government denied providing any “military support” to the drone program, adding that drone-strikes are “a matter for the states involved”. Britain denied knowledge of an ‘operations room’ for targeting and claimed there were only two British military personnel in Yemen (in 2014). [3]
Britain’s historical role in Yemen


Britain ruled Aden for a century and a half. [23]
Britain recruited sympathetic Arabs into their ‘Special Branch’. [29]
British forces were deployed to Yemen 1947 (Suppression of civil disturbances), 1955-60 (Yemen border incidents), 1962-70 (sided with the Royalists in the Yemen Civil War), and 1964 (Yemen Radfan campaign against socialist-led revolutionaries). [24]
Britain ignored a 1963 UN call to withdraw from Aden. [30]
There is a replica of ‘Big Ben’ there called ‘Little Ben’ and a statue of Queen Victoria. [23]
The so-called ‘Aden emergency’ lasted from 1963 to 1967. [23]
Britain, colluding with Israel’s Mossad and Saudi Arabia, conducted a covert war in 1960s North Yemen in which 200,000 died. [30]
“In the mid-1960s, Britain (in alliance with Saudi Arabia and Jordan) joined royalists trying to quash a republican uprising in North Yemen that coincided with a deadly guerrilla insurgency against the British to the south, in the colony of Aden – the ‘cornerstone of British military policy in the Gulf region’.” [29]
British dirty war

Britain had a ‘Special Ops’ force called the Terrorist Weapons and Tactics Team (known as… ‘TWATTs’). They specialised in “using terrorist weapons and tactics…” [23]
British soldiers had been involved in unprovoked killings in Aden. [29]
One veteran said if he told the truth about Aden, “half the battalion would be done for murder”. [29]
MI6 worked with locals to “direct the planting of bombs” while towns were “shot up” and political figures murdered. [30]
The British government, whilst lying about it, authorised and funded a mercenary operation conducted by dozens of ex-SAS troops, with MI6 and GCHQ providing intelligence and logistics. [30]
The British government privately called for “tribal revolts” so that Britain could initiate “deniable action … to sabotage [pro-Yemeni Republican] intelligence centres and kill personnel engaged in anti-British activities”. [29]
The British Army, including the SAS, operated plain-clothed death squads “disguised as Arabs”. [29] [30]
Tens of thousands fled from RAF bombs that destroyed villages/crops. [30]
“Mad Mitch” Mitchell

Under Lieutenant Colonel “Mad Mitch” Mitchell’s leadership, the British sniper-shot anyone who looked like a threat. He called this “Argyll Law” and said “[i]t was like shooting grouse”. [29]
“Mad Mitch” Mitchell viewed the locals as “dirty, smelly people”. [29]
Lieutenant Colonel “Mad Mitch” Mitchell led the brutality and was later rewarded by being elected to the House of Commons as a Tory MP. [23]
“Mad Mitch” later served in N. Ireland. [29]
British torture

Sexual humiliation
Prisoners were forced to sit naked on a metal pole whilst their weight forced it into their anus [25] [23]
Prisoners had their genitals twisted and crushed by the hands of guards [25] [23]
Prisoners were stripped naked and forced to stay in refrigerated cells – encouraging frostbite and pneumonia. [25] [23]
Prisoners had to stand naked during interrogations. [23]
Guards would stub out cigarettes on prisoners’ skin. [25] [23]
There were frequent physical beatings. [25]
The British army tortured Yemenis with the notorious ‘Five Techniques’ (“wall-standing, hooding, noise, bread and water diet and deprivation of sleep”). [30] [23]
Some prisoners had their eardrums pierced. [30]
A 1966 Amnesty report caused global outrage but the torture centres remained for a full year afterwards and the Red Cross and Amnesty International were denied access to the victims. [25] [30]
Psychological warfare

The British practised “misinformation and psychological warfare”. [23]

In 1964 Prime Minister Douglas-Hume said Britain had a non-interventionist policy towards Yemen, “It is not therefore our policy to supply arms to the Royalists.” But they did. [29]
https://www.theguardian.com/news/defence-and-security-blog/2016/apr/11  /uk-special-forces-and-mi6-involved-in-yemen-bombing-report-reveals
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/apr/7/britains-mi6-provided-c rucial-intel-obamas-drone-w/
http://www.reprieve.org.uk/press/uk-plays-critical-role-in-yemen-drone -war-reports/
https://theintercept.com/2014/11/06/many-countries-islamic-world-u-s-b ombed-occupied-since-1980/
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answe rs-statements/written-question/Commons/2016-09-08/45743
http://truepublica.org.uk/united-kingdom/britains-secret-assassination s-programme-extended-kill-list/
http://medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2016/826-menwith-m enace-britain-s-complicity-in-saudi-arabia-s-terror-campaign-against-y emen.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/britain-trains-soldiers-for-most- regimes-on-its-own-human-rights-abuse-watchlist-a7041086.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/11500518/UK -will-support-Saudi-led-assault-on-Yemeni-rebels-but-not-engaging-in-c ombat.html
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/08/britains-secret-wars-o man
http://news.sky.com/story/exclusive-uk-helping-saudis-yemen-campaign-1 0333596
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08/13/10-children-killed-in-their -classroom-by-saudi-coalition-airstri/
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-could-be-prosecuted-f or-war-crimes-over-missiles-sold-to-saudi-arabia-that-were-used-to-kil l-a6752166.html
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/apr/15/uk-army-officers-provi de-targeting-training-saudi-military
http://www.independent.co.uk/middle-east/british-arms-companies-ramp-u p-bomb-sales-to-saudi-arabia-by-100-times-despite-air-strikes-on
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/19/world/middleeast/yemen-airstrikes-ci vilians-un.html
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/yemen/12171785/Ye men-is-becoming-the-new-Syria-and-Britain-is-directly-to-blame.html
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/british-made-clust er-bomb-found-in-yemeni-village-targeted-by-saudi-led-coalition-a70426 26.html
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/20/britain-cashing-in-middl e-east-weapons-sales-saudi-arabia-yemen
http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/written-questions-answe rs-statements/written-question/Lords/2016-09-05/HL1494
http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/capitalist-crisis/4208-136bm1512 15#sidr-main
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/04/17/navy-has- seven-combat-ships-around-yemen-as-saudi-led-blockade-continues/
https://news.vice.com/article/britains-covert-war-in-yemen-a-vice-news -investigation
Blair-to-Bush memo, 4th December 2001 (released by Chilcot)
Chapter 13 of Anne Cadwallader’s “Lethal Allies” (2013)
Chapter 12 of Mark Curtis’s “Web of Deceit” (2003)
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/saudi-arabia-yemen-confl ict-bombing-latest-uk-training-pilots-alleged-war-crimes-a7375551.html
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/dec/08/theresa-may-cuts-bori s-johnson-adrift-ahead-of-his-visit-to-gulf

'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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Trustworthy Freedom Fighter
Trustworthy Freedom Fighter

Joined: 13 Jan 2007
Posts: 2296
Location: Westminster, LONDON, SW1A 2HB.

PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

U.S. soldiers are secretly fighting Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, report says http://www.newsweek.com/us-soldiers-secretly-fighting-saudi-arabias-wa r-yemen-report-says-910041

U.S. Army Special Forces have been covertly aiding in Saudi Arabia's war against Zaidi Shiite Muslim insurgents in neighboring Yemen, where the rebels control the capital and often fire ballistic missiles, according to a new report by The New York Times.

Citing information provided by U.S. officials and European diplomats, the Times reported Thursday that about a dozen Green Berets were deployed to Saudi Arabia's border with Yemen in December, a month after the Houthi rebels fired a Burkan-2 ballistic missile at Riyadh's international airport. Saudi Arabia claimed to have intercepted the November attack with its U.S.-built MIM-104F Patriot missile defense system, but analysts have cast doubt on this official version of events.

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman reportedly reached out to the U.S. for help in locating and destroying Houthi missile launch sites shortly after, opening what may be a new shadowy front for the Pentagon's operations in the Middle East.

U.S. Special Forces Soldiers, attached to Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, maneuver though a village to gain fire superiority during an operation in the Achin district, Nangahar providence, Afghanistan, October 3, 2016. Green Berets already operate in nearly 70 percent of the world's countries, now they may be escalating their role in Yemen's civil war.

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Yemen's current unrest began with the ouster of longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh amid a wave of regional protests in 2012. Saleh was replaced by his deputy Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who himself faced growing dissent as well as dueling Shiite Muslim and ultraconservative Sunni Muslim insurgencies. The former, allied with Saleh loyalists, stormed Sanaa in 2014 and took control early the following year.

Saudi Arabia accused the Houthis of being a proxy for the kingdom's top regional rival, Iran, and gathered a coalition of Arab allies to begin bombing the rebels and attempt to restore Hadi's rule, which was relegated to the southern port city of Aden. Three years later, Saudi Arabia has helped its local allies gain some ground, but the conflict remains mostly in a stalemate, even after two major schisms within the warring alliances.

'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why Yemen is at war
Angus McDowall JUNE 15, 2018
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nxp-semicondtrs-m-a-qualcomm-mollen ko/qualcomm-ceo-in-the-ring-alone-after-u-s-china-spat-kills-deals-idU SKBN1KH0E3

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The battle for the western Yemeni port of Hodeidah could be an important milestone in the three-year civil war. But analysts say the conflict is so complex that even a decisive outcome there might not bring peace.

Why is Yemen so divided?

Yemen’s internal splits have festered for years. North and south Yemen united into a single state in 1990, but separatists in the south tried to secede from the pro-union north in 1994.

A North Yemeni tank crew takes cover beside their tank May 27, 1994, as a Southern war plane flies above at al-Anad military base. Stringer/REUTERS
Their forces were swiftly beaten, and more power and resources flowed to the northern capital of Sanaa, angering many southerners.

Former president Ali Abdullah Saleh had ruled north Yemen since 1978 and the unified state after 1990. But he alienated many Yemenis. His relatives controlled core parts of the army and economy, and critics said corruption was rife.

President Clinton (R) meets with Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh in the White House Oval Office April 4, 2000. Handout/REUTERS
In the far north, some of the Zaydi sect of Shi’ite Islam also chafed. Zaydis had ruled northern Yemen until the 1962 revolution, but their heartland was now impoverished. In the late 1990s, some Zaydis formed the Houthi group, which fought Yemen’s army and grew friendly with Iran.

Though allied to Saleh, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Sunni Islamists were also gaining strength, particularly under General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, who built a power base in the army.

Taking advantage of factional rivalries, jihadist fugitives set up al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the group’s most powerful wings, and began staging attacks.

How did ‘Arab Spring’ protests lead to war?

Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a rally to demand the ouster of Yemen's President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Sanaa July 24, 2011. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
When mass protests broke out in 2011, some of Saleh’s former allies turned on him. The army split between units loyal to Saleh and those who followed Ahmar. Separatists rallied in the south. The Houthis seized more areas. AQAP attacks increased.

After a year of crisis, including a bombing that nearly killed Saleh, Yemen’s Gulf neighbors persuaded him to step down, but he stayed in Yemen.

Deputy president Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi was elected in 2012 to a two-year term to oversee a democratic transition. A “National Dialogue” meeting of all Yemen’s opposing groups began hashing out a new constitution.

But despite the dialogue, things were falling apart.

Hadi was widely seen as weak and his administration corrupt. Saleh’s allies in the army and government undermined the transition. AQAP set up a mini-state and hit Sanaa with ever bloodier bombings.

A man stands in front of a house destroyed during fighting between the army and al Qaeda-linked militants on a road leading to the southern Yemeni city of Zinjibar June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
In 2014, the Houthis seized Sanaa with help from army units loyal to Saleh, forcing Hadi to share power. When the National Dialogue proposed a federal constitution, both Houthis and southern separatists rejected it for blunting their new-found sway.

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The Houthis arrested Hadi in early 2015, but he escaped and fled to Aden. The Houthis pursued him, battling loyalists of the transitional government.

Days later, Saudi Arabia entered the war on Hadi’s side, backed by a coalition of Arab allies, to prevent Iran from gaining influence via the Houthis on its border and to preserve the Gulf-brokered transition.

They plucked Hadi from Aden and took him to Riyadh, notionally preserving his internationally recognized government and the democratic transition plan.

Why was there deadlock for so long?

The crisis was now a war between two unstable coalitions.

The Houthis and Saleh were old enemies jointly ruling the populous highlands and Red Sea coast.

Read More: Yemen in conflict

Hadi had no personal power base, but became a nominal figurehead for southern separatists, tribes in the northeast, Sunni Islamists and army remnants loyal to Ahmar.

Internal rivalries even emerged in the coalition set up by Saudi Arabia to back Hadi. Riyadh and its main ally, the United Arab Emirates, differed over local allies and tactics.

The Houthis and Saleh’s forces were driven from Aden and its environs in south Yemen, and from central Marib and the desert area to its east in 2015. Years of military stalemate followed.

The Houthis held most of the easily defended highlands. They also held the flat Red Sea coast and its port of Hodeidah - the last entry point for supplying northern Yemen.

A Houthi militia media officer checks a camera next to giant cranes, damaged by Saudi-led air strikes, at a container terminal at the Red Sea port of Hodeidah, Yemen November 16, 2016. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
The coalition kept up intense air strikes, aiming to split the Houthis and Saleh. They imposed a partial blockade to stop Iran arming the Houthis, something it denies doing. But despite this pressure, U.N.-backed talks went nowhere.

How have internal divisions played out?

Then, last year Saleh finally abandoned his Houthi allies, hoping to cut a deal and regain power for his family. But he was killed fleeing Sanaa in December, 2017.

His loyalists turned on the Houthis, helping the advance toward Hodeidah that culminated in this week’s assault.

Divisions widened on the other side too. The UAE supported separatists in the south who sometimes clashed with fighters backed by Saudi Arabia.

In the north, the Saudis brought in Ahmar to command forces around Marib - a red flag for the UAE because of his connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, its biggest bugbear.

Read More: Arab forces seize entrance to airport in Yemen's main port city

Meanwhile, the death toll from air strikes and the near famine aggravated by the partial blockade prompted international outrage, making it harder for Gulf states’ key Western allies to maintain military aid.

If the Hodeidah fighting lasts long, causing big coalition casualties and an outcry over a humanitarian catastrophe, the Houthis may hope the advance will fail.

If the Houthis are driven out and lose all ability to keep supply lines open, they might lose the war. But there is no guarantee the victors could put aside their own divisions and build a real peace.

Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 10, 2018 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AP Investigation: US allies, al-Qaida battle rebels in Yemen
https://apnews.com/f38788a561d74ca78c77cb43612d50da/Yemen:-US-allies-s pin-deals-with-al-Qaida-in-war-on-rebels

ATAQ, Yemen (AP) — Again and again over the past two years, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States has claimed it won decisive victories that drove al-Qaida militants from their strongholds across Yemen and shattered their ability to attack the West.

Here’s what the victors did not disclose: many of their conquests came without firing a shot.

That’s because the coalition cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself.

These compromises and alliances have allowed al-Qaida militants to survive to fight another day — and risk strengthening the most dangerous branch of the terror network that carried out the 9/11 attacks. Key participants in the pacts said the U.S. was aware of the arrangements and held off on any drone strikes.

The black al-Qaida flag is sprayed on the wall of a damaged school in Taiz. (AP Photo)

The deals uncovered by the AP reflect the contradictory interests of the two wars being waged simultaneously in this southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

In one conflict, the U.S. is working with its Arab allies — particularly the United Arab Emirates — with the aim of eliminating the branch of extremists known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP. But the larger mission is to win the civil war against the Houthis, Iranian-backed Shiite rebels. And in that fight, al-Qaida militants are effectively on the same side as the Saudi-led coalition — and, by extension, the United States.

“Elements of the U.S. military are clearly aware that much of what the U.S. is doing in Yemen is aiding AQAP and there is much angst about that,” said Michael Horton, a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a U.S. analysis group that tracks terrorism.

“However, supporting the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against what the U.S. views as Iranian expansionism takes priority over battling AQAP and even stabilizing Yemen,” Horton said.

The AP’s findings are based on reporting in Yemen and interviews with two dozen officials, including Yemeni security officers, militia commanders, tribal mediators and four members of al-Qaida’s branch. All but a few of those sources spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals. Emirati-backed factions, like most armed groups in Yemen, have been accused of abducting or killing their critics.

Coalition-backed militias actively recruit al-Qaida militants, or those who were recently members, because they’re considered exceptional fighters, the AP found.

The coalition forces are comprised of a dizzying mix of militias, factions, tribal warlords and tribes with very local interests. And AQAP militants are intertwined with many of them.

Adnan Rouzek, center, stands with fighters in Taiz. (AP Photo)

One Yemeni commander who was put on the U.S. terrorism list for al-Qaida ties last year continues to receive money from the UAE to run his militia, his own aide told the AP. Another commander, recently granted $12 million for his fighting force by Yemen’s president, has a known al-Qaida figure as his closest aide.

In one case, a tribal mediator who brokered a deal between the Emiratis and al-Qaida even gave the extremists a farewell dinner.

Horton said much of the war on al-Qaida by the UAE and its allied militias is a “farce.”

“It is now almost impossible to untangle who is AQAP and who is not since so many deals and alliances have been made,” he said.

The U.S. has sent billions of dollars in weapons to the coalition to fight the Iran-backed Houthis. U.S. advisers also give the coalition intelligence used in targeting on-the-ground adversaries in Yemen, and American jets provide air-to-air refueling for coalition war planes. The U.S. does not fund the coalition, however, and there is no evidence that American money went to AQAP militants.

A look at al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, its roots, motivations, and role in Yemen’s civil war. (AP Video/Peter Hamlin)

The U.S. is aware of an al-Qaida presence among the anti-Houthi ranks, a senior American official told reporters in Cairo earlier this year. Because coalition members back militias with hard-line Islamic commanders, “it’s very, very easy for al-Qaida to insinuate itself into the mix,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity under the terms of the briefing.

More recently, the Pentagon vigorously denied any complicity with al-Qaida militants.

“Since the beginning of 2017, we have conducted more than 140 strikes to remove key AQAP leaders and disrupt its ability to use ungoverned spaces to recruit, train and plan operations against the U.S. and our partners across the region,” Navy Cmdr. Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, wrote in an email to the AP.

A senior Saudi official commented by saying that the Saudi-led coalition “continues its commitment to combat extremism and terrorism.”

An Emirati government spokesman did not reply to questions from the AP.

But on Monday, Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted that the UAE-backed counter-terrorism strategy is working. He said it had “removed” thousands of militants and deprived them of safe havens.

AQAP is “at its weakest since 2012,” he wrote, adding that the UAE and its allies “have all lost troops in the fight.”

The coalition began fighting in Yemen in 2015 after the Houthis overran the north, including the capital, Sanaa. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are determined to stop what they consider a move by their nemesis, Iran, to take over Yemen, and their professed aim is to restore the internationally recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Al-Qaida is leveraging the chaos to its advantage.

“The United States is certainly in a bind in Yemen,” said Katherine Zimmerman, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. “It doesn’t make sense that the United States has identified al-Qaida as a threat, but that we have common interests inside of Yemen and that, in some places, it looks like we’re looking the other way.”

Within this complicated conflict, al-Qaida says its numbers — which U.S. officials have estimated at 6,000 to 8,000 members — are rising.

An al-Qaida commander who helps organize deployments told the AP that the front lines against the Houthis provide fertile ground to recruit new members.

The black al-Qaida flag and the slogan in Arabic “al-Qaida passed here,” on the right wall, are sprayed on a damaged school that was turned into a religious court in the southern city of Taiz.

“Meaning, if we send 20, we come back with 100,” he said.

The well-known commander communicated with AP via a secure messaging app on condition of anonymity because he had no authorization from the group to talk to the news media.


The Associated Press reported this story with help from a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.



In February, Emirati troops and their Yemeni militia allies flashed victory signs to TV cameras as they declared the recapture of al-Said, a district of villages running through the mountainous province of Shabwa — an area al-Qaida had largely dominated for nearly three years.

It was painted as a crowning victory in a months-long offensive, Operation Swift Sword, that the Emirati ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, had proclaimed would “disrupt the terrorist organization’s network and degrade its ability to conduct future attacks.”

The Pentagon, which assisted with a small number of troops, echoed that promise, saying the mission would weaken the group’s ability to use Yemen as a base.

But weeks before those forces’ entry, a string of pickup trucks mounted with machine guns and loaded with masked al-Qaida militants drove out of al-Said unmolested, according to a tribal mediator involved in the deal for their withdrawal.

The U.S. has killed al-Qaida’s top leaders in a drone strike campaign that accelerated in recent years. But in this victory — as in the others touted by the coalition — the mediator said armed U.S. drones were absent, despite the large, obvious convoy.

Under the terms of the deal, the coalition promised al-Qaida members it would pay them to leave, according to Awad al-Dahboul, the province’s security chief. His account was confirmed by the mediator and two Yemeni government officials.

Al-Dahboul said about 200 al-Qaida members received payments. He did not learn the exact amounts, but said he knew that 100,000 Saudi rials ($26,000) were paid to one al-Qaida commander — in the presence of Emiratis.

Under the accord, thousands of local tribal fighters were to be enlisted in the UAE-funded Shabwa Elite Force militia. For every 1,000 fighters, 50 to 70 would be al-Qaida members, the mediator and two officials said.

Saleh bin Farid al-Awlaqi, a pro-Emirati tribal leader who was the founder of one Elite Force branch, denied any agreements were made. He said he and others enticed young al-Qaida members in Shabwa to defect, which weakened the group, forcing it to withdraw on its own. He said about 150 fighters who defected were allowed into the Elite Force, but only after they underwent a “repentance” program.

A former al-Qaida commander, Harith al-Ezzi, walks through streets destroyed in fighting in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz. (AP Photo)

The clearing of al-Qaida from Shabwa and other provinces did not completely take place without fighting. Clashes erupted in some villages, usually with al-Qaida remnants that refused to play ball.

One former al-Qaida member told the AP that he and his comrades turned down an offer of money from the Emiratis. In response, he said, an Elite Force squad besieged them in the town of Hawta until they withdrew.

Overall, deals that took place during both the Obama and Trump administrations have secured al-Qaida militants’ withdrawal from multiple major towns and cities that the group seized in 2015, the AP found. The earliest pact, in the spring of 2016, allowed thousands of al-Qaida fighters to pull out of Mukalla, Yemen’s fifth-largest city and a major port on the Arabian Sea.

The militants were guaranteed a safe route out and allowed to keep weapons and cash looted from the city — up to $100 million by some estimates — according to five sources, including military, security and government officials.

“Coalition fighter jets and U.S. drones were idle,” said a senior tribal leader who saw the convoy leaving. “I was wondering why they didn’t strike them.”

A tribal sheikh shuttled between AQAP leaders in Mukalla and Emirati officials in Aden to seal the deal, according to a former senior Yemeni commander.

Coalition-backed forces moved in two days later, announcing that hundreds of militants were killed and hailing the capture as “part of joint international efforts to defeat the terrorist organizations in Yemen.”

No witnesses reported militants killed, however. “We woke up one day and al-Qaida had vanished without a fight,” a local journalist said, speaking to AP on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Soon after, another accord was struck for AQAP to pull out of six towns in the province of Abyan, including its capital, Zinjibar, according to five tribal mediators involved in the negotiations.

Again, the central provision was that the coalition and U.S. drones cease all bombings as AQAP pulled out with its weapons, the mediators said.

The agreement also included a provision that 10,000 local tribesmen — including 250 al-Qaida militants — be incorporated into the Security Belt, the UAE-backed Yemeni force in the area, four Yemeni officials said.

For nearly a week in May 2016, the militants departed in trucks. One of the mediators told the AP that he threw the last of the departing fighters a farewell dinner among his olive and lemon orchards when they stopped at his farm to pay their respects.

Another mediator, Tarek al-Fadhli, a former jihadi once trained by al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, said he was in touch with officials at the U.S. Embassy and in the Saudi-led coalition, keeping them updated on the withdrawal.

“When the last one left, we called the coalition to say they are gone,” he said.



To think of al-Qaida as an international terror group is to miss its other reality. For many Yemenis, it is simply another faction on the ground — a very effective one, well-armed and battle-hardened.

Its members are not shadowy strangers. Over the years, AQAP has woven itself into society by building ties with tribes, buying loyalties and marrying into major families.

Power players often see it as a useful tool.

Hadi’s predecessor as Yemen’s president, long-ruling strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, set the model. He took billions in U.S. aid to combat al-Qaida after the 9/11 attacks, even as he recruited its militants to fight his rivals. Hadi’s current vice president, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a military chief for decades, also has been accused of enlisting jihadis.

An explosion raises a cloud as coalition-backed fighters advance on the Red Sea port town of Mocha. (AP Photo)

In that light, it would almost be more startling if the militants were not involved against the Houthis, especially since al-Qaida militants are extremist Sunnis seeking the defeat of the Shiite rebels.

Al-Qaida militants are present on all major front lines fighting the rebels, Khaled Baterfi, a senior leader in the group, said in a previously unpublished 2015 interview with a local journalist obtained by the AP.

Last month, Baterfi said in a Q&A session distributed by al-Qaida that “those at the front lines for sure know of our participation, which is either actual fighting with our brothers in Yemen or supporting them with weapons.”

Al-Qaida has reduced attacks against Hadi’s and Emirati-linked forces because assailing them would benefit the Houthis, Baterfi said.

The branch is following guidance from al-Qaida’s worldwide leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, to focus on fighting the rebels, another top AQAP member said in written answers to the AP.

In some places, militants join battles independently. But in many cases, militia commanders from the ultraconservative Salafi sect and the Muslim Brotherhood bring them directly into their ranks, where they benefit from coalition funding, the AP found. The Brotherhood’s Yemen branch is a powerful hard-line Islamic political organization allied to Hadi.

Two of the four main coalition-backed commanders along the Red Sea coast are allies of al-Qaida, the al-Qaida member said. The coalition has made major advances on the coast, and is currently battling for the port of Hodeida.

Video footage shot by the AP in January 2017 showed a coalition-backed unit advancing on Mocha, part of an eventually successful campaign to recapture the Red Sea town.

Some of the unit’s fighters were openly al-Qaida, wearing Afghan-style garb and carrying weapons with the group’s logo. As they climbed behind machine guns in pick-up trucks, explosions from coalition airstrikes could be seen on the horizon.

An AQAP member interviewed in person by the AP in May viewed the video and confirmed the fighters belonged to his group. His affiliation is known from his past involvement in AQAP’s rule over a southern city.

The impact of the intertwining of al-Qaida fighters with the coalition campaign is clearest in Taiz, Yemen’s largest city and center of one of the war’s longest running battles.

In the central highlands, Taiz is Yemen’s cultural capital, a historic source of poets and writers and educated technocrats. In 2015, the Houthis laid siege to the city, occupying surrounding mountain ranges, sealing the entrances and shelling it mercilessly.

Taiz residents rose up to fight back, and coalition cash and weapons poured in — as did al-Qaida and Islamic State militants, all aimed at the same enemy.

One liberal activist took up arms alongside other men from his neighborhood to defend the city, and they found themselves fighting side by side with al-Qaida members.

“There is no filtering in the war. We are all together,” said the activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He said commanders received weapons and other aid from the coalition and distributed it to all the fighters, including al-Qaida militants.

Abdel-Sattar al-Shamiri, a former adviser to Taiz’s governor, said he recognized al-Qaida’s presence from the start and told commanders not to recruit members.

“Their response was, ‘We will unite with the devil in the face of Houthis,’” al-Shamiri said.

He said he warned coalition officials, who were “upset” but took no action.

“Taiz is in danger,” al-Shamiri said. “We will get rid of the Houthis and we will be stuck with terrorist groups.”

Coalition-backed fighters help a wounded man during an advance on Yemen’s Red Sea port town of Mocha. (AP Photo)

The activist and officials in the city said one of the main recruiters of al-Qaida fighters is Adnan Rouzek, a Salafi member tapped by Hadi to be a top military commander.

Rouzek’s militia became notorious for kidnappings and street killings, with one online video showing its masked members shooting a kneeling, blindfolded man. Its videos feature al-Qaida-style anthems and banners.

Rouzek’s top aide was a senior al-Qaida figure who escaped from a prison in Aden in 2008 along with other AQAP detainees, according to a Yemeni security official. Multiple photos seen by the AP show Rouzek with known al-Qaida commanders in recent years.

In November, Hadi named Rouzek head of the Taiz Operations Rooms, coordinating the military campaign, and top commander of a new fighting force, the 5th Presidential Protection Battalion. Hadi’s Defense Ministry also gave Rouzek $12 million for a new offensive against the Houthis. The AP obtained copy of a receipt for the $12 million and a Rouzek aide confirmed the figure.

Rouzek denied any connection to militants, telling the AP that “there is no presence of al-Qaida” in Taiz.

Another coalition-backed warlord is on the U.S. list of designated terrorists due to his ties to al-Qaida.

The warlord, a Salafi known as Sheikh Aboul Abbas, has received millions of dollars from the coalition to distribute among anti-Houthi factions, according to his aide, Adel al-Ezzi. Despite being put on the U.S. list in October, the UAE continues to fund him, al-Ezzi told the AP.

The aide denied any links to militants and dismissed his boss’s designation on the U.S. terror list. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that “al-Qaida has fought on all the front lines alongside all factions.”

Right after the AP team spoke to him in Taiz, the team saw al-Ezzi meeting with a known senior al-Qaida figure, warmly hugging him outside the home of another former AQAP commander.

Aboul Abbas runs a coalition-funded militia controlling several districts in Taiz. A 2016 video produced by al-Qaida shows militants in black uniforms with al-Qaida’s logo fighting alongside other militias in districts known to be under his control.

A former security official in Taiz said militants and Aboul Abbas’ forces attacked security headquarters in 2017 and freed a number of al-Qaida suspects. The officer said he reported the attack to the coalition, only to learn soon after that it gave Aboul Abbas 40 more pick-up trucks.

“The more we warn, the more they are rewarded,” the officer said. “Al-Qaida leaders have armored vehicles given to them by the coalition while security commanders don’t have such vehicles.”


Wilson contributed from Washington. Keath contributed from Beirut. AP correspondent Desmond Butler also contributed to this report.

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yemeni Children Massacred With US-Made Bomb
https://therealnews.com/stories/yemeni-children-massacred-with-us-made -bomb

August 13, 2018
Thousands have gathered in Yemen for the funerals of the 51 people killed in a Saudi-UAE-US military alliance airstrike, including 40 children traveling on a school bus. Even after a Raytheon-made MK-82 bomb was found in the wreckage, Defense Secretary James Mattis told said that the US is “not engaged in the civil war.” We are joined from Sana’a by journalist Nasser Arrabayee.

AARON MATE: It’s The Real News. I’m Aaron Mate. Thousands have gathered in the Yemeni city of Sa’dah for the funerals of the 51 people killed in a Saudi-UAE-U.S. military coalition’s airstrike last week. The dead included 40 children. A group of boys were traveling on a school bus for a field trip marking their summer school graduation. This video was taken not long before their bus was hit.

Not long after that video was taken out was when that bus was bombed. In addition to those 40 children and 11 adults killed, the bombing also wounded some 79 people, including 56 children. Family members are still searching the bus wreckage for the remains of their children. What has also turned up in the wreckage are the fragments of U.S.-made bombs. Photos from the scene show pieces of a Raytheon MK82 freefall bomb, which theU.S. has sold to Saudi Arabia as part of its vital support for the assault on Yemen. In Washington, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert declined to call for an independent probe.

HEATHER NAUERT: And we call upon all parties in any kind of situation like this to take appropriate measures to try to mitigate the risk of civilian casualties. DOD and other entities put out reports on this after the fact as they all start to investigate. And so we will look forward to any information on that.

SPEAKER: Right. But my question is, you don’t, you don’t see a need for there to be something other than a coalition investigation. You don’t see a need for an independent-.

HEATHER NAUERT: Matt, I’m not going to get ahead- this is something that is fresh, that just happened, so I’m not going to get ahead of any kind of investigation that may take place.

AARON MATE: Joining me from Yemen’s capital of Sana’a is Nasser Arrabyee. He’s a journalist and filmmaker. Welcome, Nasser. We are speaking just as the dead are being buried, a massive funeral procession being held. Tell us what you know about the funerals today, and what you know about what happened during the bombing.

NASSER ARRABYEE: Thank you very much for your interest in Yemen, because what Yemen needs is more attention to such war crimes, Saudi, U.S-Saudi war crimes. For the funeral of today, tens of thousands attended this funeral. Funeral of the children who were killed in their bus on August 9. That is the latest U.S.-Saudi war crimes. It is not the first, and maybe not the last, of course. So people who attended to Sa’dah from many provinces, not only from Sa’dah. And it was a funeral with grandeur and pageantry as a sign of defiance, because defiance, when we say defiance we mean Yemenis are defending themselves. Yemenis are not attacking anyone. These crimes are not against only Yemen humans, but against everyone. These crimes threaten everyone in this globe.

This is why Yemenis were interested, and they prepared very well for this funeral. Not just to exploit, as some people say, no. Not to exploit the blood of children, no. But it’s OK to tell people, because we don’t want these children, Yemenis don’t want these children to, to be killed twice, to be killed wrongly and then to be killed by not talking about them, about their their problem or why they were killed.

So this is why Yemenis were prepared very well for this funeral, just to send a message to the world, too, that U.S. war crimes did not stop for four years, now. It is only one crime of hundreds, and countless U.S. war crimes over the four years, over the last four years.

AARON MATE: And Nasser, in terms of, in terms of the bombing, tell us what you know. You circulated on social media. A photograph taken from the scene of the bomb fragments that appear to show that the bombs were MK82, made by Raytheon, sold to Saudi Arabia as part of the critical U.S. support that has been provided for this war. So tell us what you know about the bombing itself, the bombing scene, and the presence of these U.S.-made bombs.

NASSER ARRABYEE: For the U.S.-made bombs are not only in this, are not only found or were not only found in this in this attack. They were found in many, many, many, many, many more. And everybody saw them. But for this in particular, it was very clear that these remnants that we boasted, that everyone boasted in social media, were from that site. There were many people who are independent, who are not Yemenis, reporters of some international media and also some people, some representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. And I mean, there are some representatives here in Yemen. And now they are collecting these things. And if anyone has doubts about this, what these things are and where they came from, they could also make sure.

And what Yemenis want- what Yemenis want, and I am Yemeni and I want also, we want the international community and anyone who is interested in these things just to say, simply- OK to doubt. We don’t want people to believe us, OK. But we want to be able to say why Saudis, why Saudis don’t want the investigation. The Saudis, you know, refused investigations three times now, as the investigation was demanded by the international community, by the U.N. Security by the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. And Saudis refused it three times now. So why Saudis refused the investigations? We want investigations. This is a simple thing.

AARON MATE: Nasser, finally, let me ask you your response to the head of the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis. He was asked on Sunday about this bombing where U.S. bombs were found, and this is what he said. He said, quote: We are not engaged in the civil war. We will help to prevent, you know, the killing of innocent people. Unquote. And then he went on to say that he will dispatch a three star general to Saudi Arabia to help find out what happened. But I was curious to get your thoughts on the head of the U.S. military, James Mattis, saying that theU.S. is not engaged in the civil war in Yemen.

NASSER ARRABYEE: This is very funny. You know, James Mattis is not talking about Saudis because they, you know, they, Trump loves Saudis, and James Mattis loves Saudis, and they love their dirty money. This is OK. But let me tell you something as Yemeni, an observer, as an observer, as a journalist, I would tell you that what engagement would mean if, if they refueled the airplanes in the middle of the sky, and if they, if they do the surveillance and the reconnaissance, and the minesweeping, and selling their weapons. And so what would- I mean, what more James Mattis wants to say we are engaged? He’s doing all this. He’s doing all these things. And we as Yemenis, we, from day one we are sure that Saudis would not have gone to the war at all if there is no, I mean, without the U.S. approval, without the U.S. consent, without the U.S. support and everything.

So this is very funny. I mean, everybody knows that America is doing this, and America is killing Yemen. Unfortunately. You know, I myself, you know, I myself am, you know, as secular- I’m secularist. I’m not Shiite, I’m not Sunni. But what I’m seeing with my eyes and what I’m hearing is something that, that is, you know, violating everything that I know about America, and about the value, American values, and human rights, and democracy, and all these things. So this is something that is, you know, when we see this senior official saying this, it’s very funny. I mean, it’s, it’s destroying the U.S. values, unfortunately.

AARON MATE: We’ll leave it there. Nasser Arrabyee, journalist and filmmaker, speaking to us from the Yemeni capital of Sana’a. Thank you.

NASSER ARRABYEE: Thank you very much.

AARON MATE: And thank you for joining us on The Real News.

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

American Mercenaries Were Hired To Assassinate Politicians In The Middle East
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/aramroston/mercenaries-assassinat ion-us-yemen-uae-spear-golan-dahlan
“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen. I was running it. We did it.”
Headshot of Aram RostonAram Roston BuzzFeed News Reporter
Posted on October 16, 2018, at 5:53 a.m. ET
Cradling an AK-47 and sucking a lollipop, the former American Green Beret bumped along in the back of an armored SUV as it wound through the darkened streets of Aden. Two other commandos on the mission were former Navy SEALs. As elite US special operations fighters, they had years of specialized training by the US military to protect America. But now they were working for a different master: a private US company that had been hired by the United Arab Emirates, a tiny desert monarchy on the Persian Gulf.

On that night, December 29, 2015, their job was to carry out an assassination.

Their armed attack, described to BuzzFeed News by two of its participants and corroborated by drone surveillance footage, was the first operation in a startling for-profit venture. For months in war-torn Yemen, some of America’s most highly trained soldiers worked on a mercenary mission of murky legality to kill prominent clerics and Islamist political figures.

Their target that night: Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah. The UAE considers Al-Islah to be the Yemeni branch of the worldwide Muslim Brotherhood, which the UAE calls a terrorist organization. Many experts insist that Al-Islah, one of whose members won the Nobel Peace Prize, is no terror group. They say it's a legitimate political party that threatens the UAE not through violence but by speaking out against its ambitions in Yemen.

The mercenaries’ plan was to attach a bomb laced with shrapnel to the door of Al-Islah’s headquarters, located near a soccer stadium in central Aden, a key Yemeni port city. The explosion, one of the leaders of the expedition explained, was supposed to “kill everybody in that office.”

When they arrived at 9:57 at night, all seemed quiet. The men crept out of the SUV, guns at the ready. One carried the explosive charge toward the building. But just as he was about to reach the door, another member of the team opened fire, shooting back along the dimly lit street, and their carefully designed plan went haywire.
Obtained by BuzzFeed News

Drone footage of the operation in Yemen to assassinate a Yemeni leader of Al-Islah, an Islamist political party.

The operation against Mayo ­ which was reported at the time but until now was not known to have been carried out by American mercenaries ­ marked a pivot point in the war in Yemen, a brutal conflict that has seen children starved, villages bombed, and epidemics of cholera roll through the civilian population. The bombing was the first salvo in a string of unsolved assassinations that killed more than two dozen of the group’s leaders.

The company that hired the soldiers and carried out the attack is Spear Operations Group, incorporated in Delaware and founded by Abraham Golan, a charismatic Hungarian Israeli security contractor who lives outside of Pittsburgh. He led the team’s strike against Mayo.
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“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”

The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead an alliance of nine countries in Yemen, fighting what is largely a proxy war against Iran. The US is helping the Saudi-UAE side by providing weapons, intelligence, and other support.

The press office of the UAE’s US Embassy, as well as its US public affairs company, Harbour Group, did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails.

The revelations that a Middle East monarchy hired Americans to carry out assassinations comes at a moment when the world is focused on the alleged murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, an autocratic regime that has close ties to both the US and the UAE. (The Saudi Embassy in the US did not respond to a request for comment. Riyadh has denied it killed Khashoggi, though news reports suggest it is considering blaming his death on a botched interrogation.)

Golan said that during his company’s months-long engagement in Yemen, his team was responsible for a number of the war’s high-profile assassinations, though he declined to specify which ones. He argued that the US needs an assassination program similar to the model he deployed. “I just want there to be a debate,” he said. “Maybe I’m a monster. Maybe I should be in jail. Maybe I’m a bad guy. But I’m right.”

Spear Operations Group’s private assassination mission marks the confluence of three developments transforming the way war is conducted worldwide:

Modern counterterrorism combat has shifted away from traditional military objectives ­ such as destroying airfields, gun emplacements, or barracks ­ to killing specific individuals, largely reshaping war into organized assassinations.

War has become increasingly privatized, with many nations outsourcing most military support services to private contractors, leaving frontline combat as virtually the only function that the US and many other militaries have not contracted out to for-profit ventures.

The long US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have relied heavily on elite special forces, producing tens of thousands of highly trained American commandos who can demand high private-sector salaries for defense contracting or outright mercenary work.

With Spear Operations Group’s mission in Yemen, these trends converged into a new and incendiary business: militarized contract killing, carried out by skilled American fighters.

Experts said it is almost inconceivable that the United States would not have known that the UAE ­ whose military the US has trained and armed at virtually every level ­ had hired an American company staffed by American veterans to conduct an assassination program in a war it closely monitors.

One of the mercenaries, according to three sources familiar with the operation, used to work with the CIA’s “ground branch,” the agency’s equivalent of the military’s special forces. Another was a special forces sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard. And yet another, according to four people who knew him, was still in the Navy Reserve as a SEAL and had a top-secret clearance. He was a veteran of SEAL Team 6, or DEVGRU, the sources told BuzzFeed News. The New York Times once described that elite unit, famous for killing Osama bin Laden, as a “global manhunting machine with limited outside oversight.”
“What vetting procedures are there to make sure the guy you just smoked is really a bad guy?”

The CIA said it had no information about the mercenary assassination program, and the Navy's Special Warfare Command declined to comment. A former CIA official who has worked in the UAE initially told BuzzFeed News there was no way that Americans would be allowed to participate in such a program. But after checking, he called back: “There were guys that were basically doing what you said.” He was astonished, he said, by what he learned: “What vetting procedures are there to make sure the guy you just smoked is really a bad guy?” The mercenaries, he said, were “almost like a murder squad.”

Whether Spear’s mercenary operation violates US law is surprisingly unclear. On the one hand, US law makes it illegal to “conspire to kill, kidnap, maim” someone in another country. Companies that provide military services to foreign nations are supposed to be regulated by the State Department, which says it has never granted any company the authority to supply combat troops or mercenaries to another country.

Yet, as BuzzFeed News has previously reported, the US doesn’t ban mercenaries. And with some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to serve in foreign militaries, whether one is motivated by idealism or money. With no legal consequences, Americans have served in the Israel Defense Forces, the French Foreign Legion, and even a militia fighting ISIS in Syria. Spear Operations Group, according to three sources, arranged for the UAE to give military rank to the Americans involved in the mission, which might provide them legal cover.

Despite operating in a legal and political gray zone, Golan heralds his brand of targeted assassinations as a precision counterterrorism strategy with fewer civilian casualties. But the Mayo operation shows that this new form of warfare carries many of the same old problems. The commandos’ plans went awry, and the intelligence proved flawed. And their strike was far from surgical: The explosive they attached to the door was designed to kill not one person but everyone in the office.

Aside from moral objections, for-profit targeted assassinations add new dilemmas to modern warfare. Private mercenaries operate outside the US military’s chain of command, so if they make mistakes or commit war crimes, there is no clear system for holding them accountable. If the mercenaries had killed a civilian in the street, who would have even investigated?

The Mayo mission exposes an even more central problem: the choice of targets. Golan insists that he killed only terrorists identified by the government of the UAE, an ally of the US. But who is a terrorist and who is a politician? What is a new form of warfare and what is just old-fashioned murder for hire? Who has the right to choose who lives and who dies ­ not only in the wars of a secretive monarchy like the UAE, but also those of a democracy such as the US?

BuzzFeed News has pieced together the inside story of the company’s attack on Al-Islah’s headquarters, revealing what mercenary warfare looks like now ­ and what it could become.
Left to right: Isaac Gilmore, Mohammed Dahlan, and Abraham Gola
Provided to BuzzFeed News

Left to right: Isaac Gilmore, Mohammed Dahlan, and Abraham Golan.

The deal that brought American mercenaries to the streets of Aden was hashed out over a lunch in Abu Dhabi, at an Italian restaurant in the officers’ club of a UAE military base. Golan and a chiseled former US Navy SEAL named Isaac Gilmore had flown in from the US to make their pitch. It did not, as Gilmore recalled, begin well.

Their host was Mohammed Dahlan, the fearsome former security chief for the Palestinian Authority. In a well-tailored suit, he eyed his mercenary guests coldly and told Golan that in another context they’d be trying to kill each other.

Indeed, they made an unlikely pair. Golan, who says he was born in Hungary to Jewish parents, maintains long-standing connections in Israel for his security business, according to several sources, and he says he lived there for several years. Golan once partied in London with former Mossad chief Danny Yatom, according to a 2008 Mother Jones article, and his specialty was “providing security for energy clients in Africa.” One of his contracts, according to three sources, was to protect ships drilling in Nigeria’s offshore oil fields from sabotage and terrorism.
Mohammed Dahlan on a video conference last year.
Said Khatib / AFP / Getty Images

Mohammed Dahlan on a video conference last year.

Golan, who sports a full beard and smokes Marlboro Red cigarettes, radiates enthusiasm. A good salesman is how one former CIA official described him. Golan himself, who is well-read and often cites philosophers and novelists, quotes André Malraux: “Man is not what he thinks he is but what he hides.”

Golan says he was educated in France, joined the French Foreign Legion, and has traveled around the world, often fighting or carrying out security contracts. In Belgrade, he says, he got to know the infamous paramilitary fighter and gangster eljko Ra natovi , better known as Arkan, who was assassinated in 2001. “I have a lot of respect for Arkan,” he told BuzzFeed News.

BuzzFeed News was unable to verify parts of Golan’s biography, including his military service, but Gilmore and another US special operations veteran who has been with him in the field said it’s clear he has soldiering experience. He is considered competent, ruthless, and calculating, said the former CIA official. He’s “prone to exaggeration,” said another former CIA officer, but “for crazy * he’s the kind of guy you hire.”
"For crazy * he’s the kind of guy you hire.”

Dahlan, who did not respond to multiple messages sent through associates, grew up in a refugee camp in Gaza, and during the 1980s intifada he became a major political player. In the ’90s he was named the Palestinian Authority’s head of security in Gaza, overseeing a harsh crackdown on Hamas in 1995 and 1996. He later met President George W. Bush and developed strong ties to the CIA, meeting the agency’s director, George Tenet, several times. Dahlan was once touted as a possible leader of the Palestinian Authority, but in 2007 he fell from grace, accused by the Palestinian Authority of corruption and by Hamas of cooperating with the CIA and Israel.

A man without a country, he fled to the UAE. There he reportedly remade himself as a key adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, or MBZ, known as the true ruler of Abu Dhabi. The former CIA officer who knows Dahlan said, “The UAE took him in as their pit bull.”

Now, over lunch in the officers’ club, the pit bull challenged his visitors to tell him what was so special about fighters from America. Why were they any better than Emirati soldiers?

Golan replied with bravado. Wanting Dahlan to know that he could shoot, train, run, and fight better than anyone in the UAE’s military, Golan said: Give me your best man and I’ll beat him. Anyone.

The Palestinian gestured to an attentive young female aide sitting nearby. She’s my best man, Dahlan said.

The joke released the tension, and the men settled down. Get the spaghetti, recommended Dahlan.
Left: Gilmore. Right: Golan.
Taehoon Kim for BuzzFeed News; Courtesy Abraham Golan

Left: Gilmore. Right: Golan.

The UAE, with vast wealth but only about 1 million citizens, relies on migrant workers from all over the world to do everything from cleaning its toilets to teaching its university students. Its military is no different, paying lavish sums to eager US defense companies and former generals. The US Department of Defense has approved at least $27 billion in arms sales and defense services to the UAE since 2009.

Retired US Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal once signed up to sit on the board of a UAE military company. Former Navy SEAL and Vice Admiral Robert Harward runs the UAE division of Lockheed Martin. The security executive Erik Prince, now entangled in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, set up shop there for a time, helping the UAE hire Colombian mercenaries.

And as BuzzFeed News reported earlier this year, the country embeds foreigners in its military and gave the rank of major general to an American lieutenant colonel, Stephen Toumajan, placing him in command of a branch of its armed forces.
The US draws the line at combat; it does not hire mercenaries to carry out attacks. But that line can get blurry.

The UAE is hardly alone in using defense contractors; in fact, it is the US that helped pioneer the worldwide move toward privatizing the military. The Pentagon pays companies to carry out many traditional functions, from feeding soldiers to maintaining weapons to guarding convoys.

The US draws the line at combat; it does not hire mercenaries to carry out attacks or engage directly in warfare. But that line can get blurry. Private firms provide heavily armed security details to protect diplomats in war zones or intelligence officers in the field. Such contractors can engage in firefights, as they did in Benghazi, Libya, when two contractors died in 2012 defending a CIA post. But, officially, the mission was protection, not warfare.

Outside the US, hiring mercenaries to conduct combat missions is rare, though it has happened. In Nigeria, a strike force reportedly led by longtime South African mercenary Eeben Barlow moved successfully against the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in 2015. A company Barlow founded, Executive Outcomes, was credited with crushing the bloody RUF rebel force in war-torn Sierra Leone in the 1990s.

BuzzFeed News

But over spaghetti with Dahlan, Golan and Gilmore were offering an extraordinary form of mercenary service. This was not providing security details, nor was it even traditional military fighting or counterinsurgency warfare. It was, both Golan and Gilmore say, targeted killing.

Gilmore said he doesn’t remember anyone using the word “assassinations” specifically. But it was clear from that first meeting, he said, that this was not about capturing or detaining Al-Islah’s leadership. “It was very specific that we were targeting,” said Gilmore. Golan said he was explicitly told to help “disrupt and destruct” Al-Islah, which he calls a “political branch of a terrorist organization.”

He and Gilmore promised they could pull together a team with the right skillset, and quickly.

In the weeks after that lunch, they settled on terms. The team would receive $1.5 million a month, Golan and Gilmore told BuzzFeed News. They’d earn bonuses for successful kills ­ Golan and Gilmore declined to say how much ­ but they would carry out their first operation at half price to prove what they could do. Later, Spear would also train UAE soldiers in commando tactics.

Golan and Gilmore had another condition: They wanted to be incorporated into the UAE Armed Forces. And they wanted their weapons ­ and their target list ­ to come from uniformed military officers. That was “for juridical reasons,” Golan said. “Because if the * hits the fan,” he explained, the UAE uniform and dog tags would mark “the difference between a mercenary and a military man.”

Dahlan and the UAE government signed off on the deal, Golan and Gilmore said, and Spear Operations Group got to work.
Standing in front of a UAE military plane are Gilmore (middle l
Courtesy Abraham Golan

Standing in front of a UAE military plane are Gilmore (middle left), Golan (middle right), and two soldiers on their mercenary team.

Back in the US, Golan and Gilmore started rounding up ex-soldiers for the first, proof-of-concept job. Spear Operations Group is a small company ­ nothing like the security behemoths such as Garda World Security or Constellis ­ but it had a huge supply of talent to choose from.

A little-known consequence of the war on terror, and in particular the 17 combined years of US warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan, is that the number of special operations forces has more than doubled since 9/11, from 33,000 to 70,000. That’s a vast pool of crack soldiers selected, trained, and combat-tested by the most elite units of the US military, such as the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers. Some special operations reservists are known to engage in for-profit soldiering, said a high-level SEAL officer who asked not to be named. “I know a number of them who do this sort of thing,” he said. If the soldiers are not on active duty, he added, they are not obligated to report what they’re doing.

But the options for special operations veterans and reservists aren’t what they were in the early years of the Iraq War. Private security work, mostly protecting US government officials in hostile environments, lacks the excitement of actual combat and is more “like driving Miss Daisy with an M4” rifle, as one former contractor put it. It also doesn’t pay what it used to. While starting rates for elite veterans on high-end security jobs used to be $700 or $800 a day, contractors said, now those rates have dropped to about $500 a day. Golan and Gilmore said they were offering their American fighters $25,000 a month ­ about $830 a day ­ plus bonuses, a generous sum in almost any market.

Still, the Yemen gig crossed into uncharted territory, and some of the best soldiers declined. “It was still gray enough,” Gilmore said, “that a lot of guys were like, ‘Ah, I’m good.’ ”

Gilmore himself said he has an imperfect record. During a live-fire training mission he led, back in his Navy days, he says he accidentally shot another SEAL. Gilmore said that’s what prompted him to leave the Navy, in 2011. His last major job before joining Spear was as an executive at an artisanal Tequila company.

That stain on his military career, he said, is also what prompted him to take the risk with Spear: He was an outsider, he wasn’t in the reserves, and he didn’t have a pension to worry about.

By the end of 2015, Golan, who led the operation, and Gilmore had cobbled together a team of a dozen men. Three were American special ops veterans, and most of the rest were former French Foreign Legionnaires, who were cheaper: only about $10,000 per month, as Gilmore remembers it, less than half of what he and Golan said they budgeted for their American counterparts.

They gathered at a hotel near Teterboro Airport in New Jersey. They were dressed in an assortment of military fatigues, some in camouflage, some in black. Some were bearded and muscled, others tattooed and wiry.

When it was time to go, they convinced the hotel staff to give them the US flag flying outside, Gilmore said. In a makeshift ceremony, they folded it up into a small triangle and took it with them.

They also packed a few weeks’ worth of military “meals ready to eat,” body armor, communications gear, and medical equipment. Gilmore said he brought a utility knife with a special crimping tool to prepare the blasting caps on explosives. The team was sure to stock up on whiskey, too ­ three cases of Basil Hayden’s since it would be impossible to get any alcohol in Yemen, let alone the good stuff.

On December 15, they boarded a chartered Gulfstream G550. Once airborne, Gilmore walked to the cockpit and told the pilots that there was a slight change to their flight plan. After refueling in Scotland, they wouldn’t be flying to Abu Dhabi’s main commercial airport but to a UAE military base in the desert.
Left: Business cards for Spear Operations Group; Right: Gilmore
Obtained by BuzzFeed News

Left: Business cards for Spear Operations Group; Right: Gilmore's dog tags

From that base, the mercenaries took a UAE Air Force transport plane to another base in Assab, Eritrea. During that flight, Gilmore recalled, a uniformed Emirati officer briefed them and handed them a hit list ­ 23 cards with 23 names and 23 faces. Each card featured rudimentary intelligence: the person’s role in Yemeni politics, for example, or grid coordinates for a residence or two.

Gilmore said some were members of Al-Islah, some were clerics, and some were out-and-out terrorists ­ but he conceded he couldn’t be sure.

BuzzFeed News has obtained one of the target cards. On it is a man’s name, photograph, telephone number, and other information. At the top right is the insignia of the UAE Presidential Guard.

Obtained by BuzzFeed News

Conspicuously absent is why anyone wanted him dead, or even what group he was associated with. The man could not be reached for comment, and it is not known if he is alive or dead.

Assassinations have historically played a limited part in US warfare and foreign policy. In 1945, “Wild Bill” Donovan, the director of the CIA’s predecessor agency, the OSS, was handed a finalized plan to deploy kill teams across Europe to attack Nazi leaders such as Hitler, Himmler, and Goering, as well as SS officers with a rank of major or above, according to a biography of Donovan by Douglas Waller. But the OSS chief got queasy about the “wholesale assassination” project and canceled it.

During the Cold War, the CIA played a role in plots to assassinate foreign leaders, such as Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, and Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam. Later in the Vietnam War, the US launched the Phoenix program, in which the CIA often teamed up with US military units to “neutralize” ­ or, critics say, assassinate ­ Viet Cong leaders. Even so, targeted killings were not a central pillar of US military strategy in Vietnam. And after Congress exposed CIA activities in the 1970s, the US banned assassinations of foreign leaders.

Then came the war on terror.

Under President George W. Bush, the CIA and the military used drones to kill terrorists, and the CIA developed covert assassination capabilities. President Barack Obama halted the agency’s secret assassination program but drastically ramped up the use of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Somalia. Soon the CIA and the military were using the aircraft ­ piloted remotely using video monitors ­ to kill people whose names the US didn’t even know, through “signature strikes” based solely on a target’s associations and activities. President Donald Trump has further loosened the rules for drone strikes.

But while private contractors often maintain the drones and sometimes even pilot them, there is one action they reportedly cannot take: Only a uniformed officer can push the button that fires the drone’s missile and kills the target.

With organized assassinations having become a routine part of war in the region, the UAE developed its own appetite. The country had begun to flex more military muscle, and by 2015 it had become a major player in the war in Yemen. It quickly targeted Al-Islah, an Islamist political party that won more than 20% of the vote in Yemen’s most recent parliamentary election, held in 2003.

Elisabeth Kendall, an expert on Yemen at the University of Oxford, points out that unlike al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups, which try to seize power through violence, Al-Islah participates in the political process. But, she said, the US rationale for drone strikes has legitimized other countries’ pursuit of their own assassinations: “The whole very watery, vague notion of a war on terror has left the door wide open to any regime saying, ‘This is all a war on terror.’ ”

At the top of the deck of targets they got from the UAE, Gilmore and Golan said, was Mayo, Al-Islah’s leader in Aden. Mayo had close-cropped hair, wire-rimmed glasses, and a wisp of goatee to go with his mustache. He had spoken out against US drone strikes in Yemen, telling the Washington Post in 2012 that rather than stopping al-Qaeda they had instead fueled its growth.

Asked about the ethics and legality of killing unarmed Al-Islah political leaders, as opposed to armed terrorists, Golan responded, “I think this dichotomy is a purely intellectual dichotomy.”
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Golan said he models his assassination business on Israel’s targeted killing program, which has been underway since the country was founded, and which, despite some high-profile errors and embarrassments, he claims is done properly. He argues there are some terrorist enemies so dangerous and implacable ­ and so difficult to arrest ­ that assassination is the best solution.

He insists his team is not a murder squad. As evidence, Golan recounted how, as their mission continued, the UAE provided names with no affiliation to Al-Islah or any group, terrorist or otherwise. Golan said he declined to pursue those individuals, a claim that could not be verified.

The people Spear did target, he and Gilmore said, were legitimate because they were selected by the government of the UAE, an ally of the United States that was engaged in a military action supported by the US. Gilmore said that he and Golan told the UAE they would never act against US interests. And Golan claimed that, based on his military experience, he could tell if a target was a terrorist after just a week or two of surveillance.

Still, Gilmore acknowledged that some of the targets may have been people who merely fell out of favor with the ruling family. Referring to the country’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, Gilmore said, “There is the possibility that the target would be someone who MBZ doesn’t like. We’d try to make sure that didn’t happen.”

Obtained by BuzzFeed News

When they reached Aden, the mercenaries were issued weapons. They were surprised at the low quality ­ * Chinese assault rifles and RPGs, according to Gilmore and Golan.

At some point, they also received their official designation in the Emirati military. Golan was named a colonel and Gilmore a lieutenant colonel, a heady “promotion” for a man who had been discharged from the Navy as a petty officer.

Gilmore still has his UAE dog tag, a rectangle of white gold imprinted with his blood type, AB-negative. His name is in English on one side and in Arabic on the other.

Using sources handed to them by the UAE’s intelligence network, Gilmore said, the team established Mayo’s daily life pattern ­ the home he lived in, the mosque he prayed at, the businesses he frequented.

Christmas passed with the mercenaries sharing their whiskey and plotting how exactly they should kill Mayo. A raid, a bomb, a sniper? “We had five or six courses of action to go after him,” Gilmore said.
Christmas passed with the mercenaries sharing their whiskey and plotting how exactly they should kill Mayo.

After some quick surveillance of the Al-Islah headquarters, they decided on explosives. Gilmore said he drew the mission plan out on the floor of the tent, with a black Sharpie. It showed the angles of approach, the attack, and, most important, the escape route.

After he briefed his colleagues, Gilmore took out his knife, cut through the tough tent fabric, and burned the mission plan. “I don’t want any of that with my handwriting on it floating around,” he said.

Two days later, Gilmore recalled, they got the word that Mayo was in his office for a large meeting.

Golan gathered with Gilmore, another ex-SEAL, and a former Delta Force soldier, for the mission. They had left behind their wallets and all identifying information, and they wore an assortment of motley uniforms ­ Gilmore said he wore a baseball hat and Salomon Speedcross trail-running shoes, with a chest rig full of spare ammunition magazines. All held AK-47s, and one had the bomb loaded with shrapnel.

Gilmore, Golan, and two others climbed into an armored SUV with a plainclothes Emirati soldier at the wheel. The French Foreign Legion soldiers were in another SUV, which would stop a short distance from the attack site, ready to rush in should the Americans get into a jam. The gates of their base opened and they pulled out onto the nighttime streets of Aden.
Golan with a member of his mercenary team.
Provided to BuzzFeed News

Golan with a member of his mercenary team.

It’s unclear exactly what went wrong.

Right before the mercenary reached the front door, carrying the explosive charge meant to kill Mayo, one of his fellow fighters at the back of the SUV opened fire, shooting along the backstreet.

There was a drone high overhead, and the video, obtained by BuzzFeed News, shows gunfire but not what the American is shooting at. The drone video doesn’t show anyone shooting back at the mercenaries.

Gilmore said he himself fired at someone on the street, but his gun jammed. He said he wasn’t sure who was firing at them. In any case, the mercenary carrying the explosive to the building carried on despite the commotion around him ­ for a full 20 seconds, the video shows.

To make their escape, the mercenaries ran into UAE military vehicles. Then suddenly there was an explosion ­ the bomb on the door ­ followed by a second, bigger one. The second explosion was the mercenaries’ SUV. Gilmore and Golan say they booby-trapped it to disguise the source of the bomb, confuse Al-Islah, and add to the destruction.

The team returned to base without something they all knew they needed. US special operations forces call it positive identification, or “PID” ­ proof that Mayo was dead. A photo, for example, or DNA.

“That caused some problems with Dahlan,” Gilmore recalled.

Obtained by BuzzFeed News

Still, Mayo seemed to have vanished. He rarely posted on his Facebook page, and for a time, Gilmore and Golan said, he wasn’t seen in public.

Yet Al-Islah didn’t announce his death, as it would when other members got assassinated. The reason, a spokesperson for Al-Islah said in a phone interview, is that Mayo is alive ­ he had left the building 10 minutes before the attack and as of July was living in Saudi Arabia. No one, the spokesperson said, died in the mercenaries’ assault.

Mayo seems to have reemerged in Yemeni politics. In May he was nominated to a post by the president of Yemen, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, according to Charles Schmitz, a specialist on the Middle East and Yemen at Towson University in Maryland. Schmitz said he found a recent photo of Mayo standing in a group with the UN envoy to Yemen.

Golan maintains that, at the very least, Mayo was neutralized for a time. “For me it’s a success,” he said, “as long as the guy disappeared.”
Soldiers from the United Arab Emirates stand guard as military
Nasser Awad / Reuters

Soldiers from the United Arab Emirates stand guard as military equipment is unloaded from a UAE military plane at the airport in Aden, Aug. 12, 2015.

Even though it failed to kill Mayo, the mercenaries’ bomb attack seems to have ushered in a new phase in the UAE’s war against Al-Islah. “It was the exclamation point that set the tone that Al-Islah was now going to be targeted,” said Schmitz.

The Al-Islah spokesperson who spoke to BuzzFeed News recited the date by memory: December 29, 2015. “It was the first attack,” he said.

As 2016 progressed, those watching the deteriorating situation in Yemen began to notice that members of Al-Islah, and other clerics in Aden, were dropping dead at an alarming pace. “It does appear to be a targeted campaign,” said Gregory Johnsen of the Arabia Foundation, who in 2016 served on a UN panel investigating the Yemen war. “There have been 25 to 30 assassinations,” he said, though a few appear to be the work of ISIS. (Johnsen used to write for BuzzFeed News.)

“There is a widespread belief on the ground,” said Kendall, the University of Oxford expert, “that the UAE is behind the assassination of Al-Islah officials and activists.”
Golan said his team killed several of the dead but refused to give an exact number or names.

When BuzzFeed News read Gilmore the names of some of the dead, he nodded in recognition at two of them ­ “I could probably recognize their faces” ­ and said they were among the team’s targets. But he said he hadn’t been involved in killing them.

Golan said his team killed several of the dead but refused to give an exact number or names. But after their first semi-botched mission, the mercenaries rebooted.

They got rid of the French Foreign Legionnaires, replacing them with Americans. The Emiratis also provided them with better weapons and better equipment, Golan and Gilmore said: C4 explosives, pistols fitted with silencers, and high-end American-made M4 rifles. They were also outfitted with motorbikes they could use to scoot through Aden’s traffic and affix magnetized bombs to cars. All the equipment, they said, came from the UAE military.

Gilmore stayed on for only a short time. He said he left Spear in April 2016. He and Golan declined to say why, but Gilmore said he wishes he had been more aggressive in Yemen. “If I could do it over again we would have been less risk-averse,” he said. “We could have done some amazing things ­ although we also could have done some amazing things and all ended up in jail.”

One new member of the team, hired in early 2016, was the veteran of SEAL Team 6, Daniel Corbett, according to three sources and confirmed by photos. Corbett was a superb soldier, say those who know him, and had served multiple combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was still in the reserves, so the US military could deploy him at any moment; he collected a government salary; and he was supposed to report for monthly drills. And yet he was in Yemen on a private contract to work for a foreign military. It is unclear if he himself was involved in missions to assassinate anyone.

In a mysterious development, Corbett is currently in jail in Serbia, where he is being investigated for illegal handgun possession. The American veteran has been held there since February 2018. Corbett could not be reached, and his lawyer did not respond to calls seeking comment.

As they went about their work in Yemen, the mercenaries stayed in huts, sleeping in cots. Some carried distinctive weapons for potential close-in fighting. One, according to photographs, carried two knives on his belt that he could draw cross-handed. Another carried a small tomahawk.

The team began to develop what Gilmore called “esprit de corps.” They flew a makeshift flag featuring a skull and crossed swords ­ a kind of Jolly Roger on a black background ­ and painted that emblem onto their military vehicles and their living quarters.

Much about the Spear mercenary team remains unknown, and some who participated made clear they have no desire to shed light on what went down. Asked if he’d been deployed in the Yemen mission, one of the Americans replied, “If I was, you know I can’t discuss it.” The former Green Beret who was sucking a lollipop during the mission sent BuzzFeed News a text message: “A big story for you could be a tragic story for the cast of characters; especially if they are good men doing what was right but not necessarily legal.”

For his part, Gilmore said he “would have preferred that this stay off the radar.” But he decided to speak to BuzzFeed News because “once this comes out there’s no way that I’m going to stay out of it, so I’d prefer to own it. And I’m not going to try to hide from what I did.”

“It’s still,” he said, “some variety of the future of warfare.”

Gilmore is out of the mercenary business. He has since found himself in another gray-zone line of work, albeit one that’s far less dangerous. He said he’s with a California company that plans to make cannabis oil for vaporizers.

Jules Darmanin in Paris contributed reporting to this story.

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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Trustworthy Freedom Fighter
Trustworthy Freedom Fighter

Joined: 13 Jan 2007
Posts: 2296
Location: Westminster, LONDON, SW1A 2HB.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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