Threats to Yemen prove America hasn’t learned the lesson of history

Threats to Yemen prove America hasn’t learned the lesson of history

We are the Awaleq

Born of bitterness

We are the nails that go into the rock

We are the sparks of hell

He who defies us will be burned

This is the tribal chant of the powerful Awaleq tribe of Yemen, in which they bid defiance to the world. Its angry tone conveys the flavour of Yemeni life and it should give pause to those in the US who blithely suggest greater American involvement in Yemen in the wake of the attempt to destroy a US plane by a Nigerian student who says he received training there.

Yemen has always been a dangerous place. Wonderfully beautiful, the mountainous north of the country is guerrilla paradise. The Yemenis are exceptionally hospitable, though this has its limits. For instance, the Kazam tribe east of Aden are generous to passing strangers, but deem the laws of hospitality to lapse when the stranger leaves their tribal territory, at which time he becomes “a good back to shoot at”.

The Awaleq and Kazam tribes are not exotic survivals on the margins of Yemeni society but are both politically important and influential. The strength of the central government in the capital, Sanaa, is limited and it generally avoids direct confrontations with tribal confederations, tribes, clans and powerful families. Almost everybody has a gun, usually at least an AK-47 assault rifle, but tribesmen often own heavier armament. [continued…]

Yemen ‘can handle al-Qaeda menace’

The Yemeni government has vowed to deal with the “menace of al-Qaeda in Yemen” after the group claimed responsibility for a plot to bring down an aircraft bound for the US city of Detroit on Christmas.

Saying his government would not authorise or co-operate with any potential US strike on its soil, Abdullah Alsaidi, Yemen’s permanent representative to the United Nations, told Al Jazeera that his country “is capable of taking care of its own problems”.

Alsaidi welcomed co-operation with and assistance from the US “with respect to intelligence information”, saying it was necessary to Yemen’s battle against al-Qaeda.

But he added that “we are not encouraging US attacks, we are saying that Yemen will take care of this problem on its own”. [continued…]

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