The news coming out of Yemen, a place now uncomfortable as dinner party conversation, but still client of the United States, where the death toll is now nearing 50, is as horrific as any of the events of the last period. Groups of snipers, security forces of one kind or another we assume, on roof tops aiming head shots into massed crowds of protesters leaving Friday prayers and heading for the occupied activists’ camp. Scores fell dead, dozens more wounded. A massacre by any criteria, this.
Since the United States has (overtly, at the least) supplied “more than $250 million in military and security aid to Yemen in the past five years, until 2009”. In just 2010 aid went to $300 million (for arms sales in for go to the for more numbers that never fail to shock got to the Arms Trade page of the Global Issues site). I think we’re pretty safe in assuming those were American equipped and developed soldiers (that would be the Yemeni Army or security services), American guns firing American bullets into the bodies of Yemen’s glorious young in defense of a despot (or, if you’re Hillary Clinton a ‘moderate voice in the region’).
Here’s Hillary the last time she visited Yemen in mid-January ‘”We face a common threat posed by the terrorists and al-Qaida, but our partnership goes beyond counterterrorism,” she told reporters after a nearly three-hour meeting with Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh. “We’re focused not just on short-term threats but long-term challenges,” like how to head off the mass uprising that is sweeping his despots lair.
That and the big cash-in on the perks of the War on Terror; Yemen supplies the dark holes filled with torture chambers and the torturers and doesn’t sweat the ‘rights’ business; The United States provides the to-be-tortured and 300 million greenbacks which the Yemenis return to American hands by way of contracts with Boeing or McDonnell-Douglass etc. for loads of weapons needed to fight…a mythical Al Qaeda…it’s a racket. The Yemeni Army became a pet project of Petraeus. Contract after contract of the Military Industrial Complex was to be had in Yemen and not for the piddly-shit money they used to do business for. The game, Al Qaeda, was in town and the big money was coming in.
But for those angry, those dispossessed, those masses of Yemen so that the threat of the myth being made real is enough to be a real threat…or to look real, at least. Or at least something like that. It’s all in the dance, really. The dance of the deeply hypocritical; an ugly dance. Between the realpolotik of (neo)liberal ‘humanitarian’ imperialism and a stone cold dictator and his cronies (along with some House of Saud considerations) it can be, for anyone with a taste for principle and basic honesty, let alone a passion for social justice, lean one to feel a little queasy. And from those worlds, nothing but more misery. But the masses of Yemen are finding their own voice and developing their own demands, demands that do not follow those dance moves…at all. Clinton has called for the snipers to restrain themselves and urged Saleh to respect his promise to allow demonstrators to meet. And then she asked for the people to dialogue with the government that is assassinating them. And today 50 dead.
Clinton shamelessly held out her hand to the bereaved; ‘We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who have lost their lives and call on President Saleh to uphold his promise to protect peaceful demonstrators. All perpetrators of violence should be held accountable and brought to justice.’ Meanwhile, the support continues unabated for the Saleh regime. The dance is really quite deadly. It’s an ugly dance all around.
The people of Yemen would thank Hillary Clinton with wild cheers themselves for her support of ‘democracy’ (forgetting all that other stuff), except she is not hitting Yemen this trip. There was that embarrassing fall last time and there’s these riots and mass killings this time and that Gadaffi is a real son-of-a-bitch and Tahrir was great! but just not this trip. That and the people are too busy mourning their dead children and, perhaps, a little angry, oh let’s split the difference and call it ‘frustrated’, for the niceties demanded by high diplomatic parlance on an empty stomach and an aggrieved heart.
Long Live The Yemeni Revolution!