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US ‘Fights al Qaeda’ in Yemen, But Refuses to Do the Same in Syria

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, Military, National Defense, News You Can Use, War by Advocates HQ Comments are off

US ‘Fights al Qaeda’ in Yemen, But Refuses to Do the Same in Syria

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon acknowledged sending American troops to Yemen for the first time since the beginning of the Yemeni civil war. According to Navy spokesman Captain Jeff Davis, a “very small number” of American military personnel has joined Yemeni and Arab coalition forces to “release” the port city of Mukalla from the hands of Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

MarineBut while the US military justifies this move with claims that having “a terrorist organization in charge of a port city” in a foreign land is not “of great interest to us,” it continues to refuse to go along Russia’s call to join them in an air strike campaign against al Qaeda’s Nusra Front militants in Syria.

According to Captain Davis, the United States does “not collaborate or coordinate with the Russians on any operations in Syria,” but are willing to not only provide weaponry and intelligence to Saudi Arabia, but also send in troops to help the oil rich kingdom as well as the United Arab Emirates carry out one of the most disastrous military campaigns in the Middle East in recent history.

In March of 2015, the Saudi Arabia, UAE coalition launched a military campaign attacking the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, a group that had taken control over portions of the country. As the country became even more deeply embattled by war, a report from UNICEF claims, an estimated 14.1 million people, including about 7 million children, were left in need of health assistance. The Saudi Arabia-led blockade in the region has been tied to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region, but the United States seems oblivious of the consequences of its involvement.

While the US military justifies its involvement by claiming to be fighting al Qaeda in the region, the current administration showed no signs of regret for having had armed rebel groups in Syria that pledged allegiance to al Qaeda in the past.

While the current administration seems out of step with the realities of the Middle East’s embattled nations and the taxpayers who foot the bill of its destructive campaigns abroad, it continues to claim to be fighting a war on terror while aiding groups responsible for mass hunger and deaths.

As Congress works on passing legislation that would enable the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to sue Saudi Arabia, one question is left unanswered: Will the victims of US-led and backed military campaigns abroad ever be able to sue the United States officials who have led preemptive and intrusive campaigns abroad in the name of homelands security?

I think you know the answer to that question.

America’s Ally is Decimating the Yemeni Population, What’s Behind the Silence?

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, News You Can Use, War by Comments are off

America’s Ally is Decimating the Yemeni Population, What’s Behind the Silence?

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Saudi Arabia, a United States ally in the Middle East, has been leading a heavily interventionist policy in Yemen for the past year. The war between factions claiming to represent the Yemeni people has led to a “catastrophic” crisis in the region, but Saudi Arabia, along with America, have played important roles.

Airstrike So far, over two million people have been displaced from their homes while countless others lack access to basic services and necessities such as water and food. According to The American Conservative’s Daniel Larison, most of the damage caused by war over the last year in Yemen is due to Saudi Arabia and their allies.

Prior to the military intervention, most Yemenis depended on humanitarian aid. As the war deepened, their needs have only grown. As aid groups struggle to help in any way, they are also faced with challenges brought about the blockades placed and enforced by Saudi Arabia since 2015. While both the United States and the United Kingdom governments have allegedly attempted to persuade the Saudis by urging them to change their tactics, Saudi officials continue to have access to American weapons.

In 2015, the United States sold $33 billion in weapons to Gulf allies, including Saudi Arabia. According to the State Department, the deal between the US government and Saudi Arabia allows Saudi officials to purchase everything from attack helicopters to ballistic missile defense systems, despite the fact Saudi Arabia continues to uphold a blockade that is effectively decimating the Yemeni population.

At the moment, about 19 million people in Yemen lack access to water and sanitation while over 14 million Yemenis also require urgent health services. Out of the 14 million Yemenis requiring medical attention, at least 2 million are children, pregnant, and lactating women who are also malnourished.

As Saudi Arabia continues to uphold the blockade while targeting insurgents, Yemen slips into a much greater crisis. In the meantime, America remains complicit. Not only because it has been virtually silent over the past 12 months, but also because it continues to sell heavy weaponry to the Gulf state.

As the same administration that claimed to have a “responsibility” to protect Libyans turns a blind eye to the crisis in Yemen, the Saudis are effectively starving Yemenis to death.

In an article for the Cato Institute, A. Trevor Thrall and John Glaser argue that America should distance itself from Saudi Arabia, especially after the Yemen civil war began. “Yemen,” the authors begin the article, “is the latest U.S. foreign policy disaster.”

According to the Cato report, Saudi Arabia’s “ruthless” military campaign in Yemen has been enabled by the United States from the get-go.

The initial conflict started when Ali Abdullah Saleh, a long-time US-Saudi ally, was overthrown. Following the deposition, Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi became the president of the transitional government. Hadi was the only candidate on the ballot and he counted with the support of both the United States and Saudi Arabia. In 2014, however, Yemen’s Shiite Houthi rebels launched an insurgency, taking control of the capital city, Sanaa. Once Saudi Arabia started a bombing campaign in March of 2015 to contain the Houthis, Glaser and Thrall write, the civil war “morphed into an intractable proxy war.”

Since the Saudis see the Houthis as Iran proxies, the United States’ nuclear deal with Iran may seem as stab in the back to Saudi Arabia. According to the Cato scholars, “U.S. officials have apparently felt obliged to reassure Saudi Arabia by supporting its war in Yemen.” In light of these issues, we must ask ourselves: Why is America still supporting Saudi Arabia while also calling for the removal of Bashar al-Assad in Syria?

Without a Clear War Strategy, White House Wants to Increase Spending to Fight ISIS, Boost Surveillance State

in Foreign Policy, Liberator Online, Middle East, National Defense, News You Can Use, War by Comments are off

Without a Clear War Strategy, White House Wants to Increase Spending to Fight ISIS, Boost Surveillance State

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

As the country focused on Iowa, the email server scandal, and Kanye West’s last Twitter feud, the Barack Obama administration geared up for a significant defense budget request.

The factor behind pushing the country further into debt? ISIS.

ISIS

According to Reuters, the current administration wants to add over $7 billion to its 2017 defense budget. The additional funding would provide support to this administration’s military campaign against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/Daesh). The additional request represents a 35 percent increase from past year’s defense budget.

While Reuters broke the story early Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter had already planned on discussing the current spending priorities publicly during an address to the Economic Club of Washington. The White House will only release the full budget proposal on February 9th.

If approved by Congress, the 2017 defense budget would cost taxpayers $583 billion.

Since 9/11, military spending has risen sharply. But in 2013, military spending declined, going from $671 in 2013 to $619 in 2014.

To critics, the current administration has done everything in its power to “gut” military spending. These critics often suggest that the lack of an inflated military budget will leave America vulnerable, increasing the risk of terrorist attacks on US soil. But in reality, this administration is everything but fiscally conservative when it comes to the defense budget. Despite its strategical shortcomings.

According to Reuters, the current request to increase defense spending by $7 billion is mostly due to the administration’s campaign against ISIS. Despite the lack of details concerning the administration’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State, experts like former US ambassador to Syria Robert Ford have been vocal in their opposition to one of this administration’s most questionable strategies: to arm and train rebels in Syria.

To Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) who was also against the strategy to arm Syrian rebels, the current administration’s efforts against ISIS are insufficient. Mostly because the so-called war against the militant group was never authorized by Congress. Putting the issue up for discussion first could have helped the administration find a different approach to its campaign in Syria and Iraq.

To Russian President Vladimir Putin, the focus in Syria should have always been to target ISIS. Instead of telling the Syrian people who their leader should be, Putin told CBS’s “60 Minutes,” world powers should come together to eliminate ISIS. But for most of the past year, the Obama administration reassured the media that the only way to make Syria safe was to make sure President Bassar al-Assad was out of the picture.

While the White House’s most pressing concern is ISIS, the militant organization is not the only issue listed as a priority in the 2017 defense budget proposal. According to Reuters, the administration also hopes to increase spending to “reassure European allies following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.” Former Republican congressman Ron Paul has been warning against further intervention in the region since the first signs of turmoil in Ukraine hit the news.

The 2017 defense budget proposal also includes a request to fund a new Air Force bomber, which has replaced the Ohio-class submarines used to carry nuclear weapons. If Congress approves the proposal, the Obama administration is also hoping to use the extra funding to increase cybersecurity, electronic warfare, and US satellite security.

Could that mean that the surveillance state will get a boost?

“Home to Their Families”

in Communicating Liberty, Foreign Policy, Liberator Online by Sharon Harris Comments are off

(From the One-Minute Liberty Tip section in Volume 19, No. 5 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

Bring them homeIn a statement this week  — featured in the Intellectual Ammunition column in this issue — the Libertarian Party called for the U.S. to “immediately withdraw all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and bring them home to their families.”

“Bring them home to their families.” That’s very powerful wording.

Libertarians often use wording like “bring our troops home.” And that’s a very useful phrase.

But adding “back home to their families” makes that far, far Home to their familiesstronger.

“Bring our troops back home to their families.”

The use of “back home” and “to their families” creates a vivid and heartwarming picture of returning husbands and fathers, back from the wars at last, greeted and embraced by tearful, loving wives and children. Of sons and daughters welcomed by their happy and relieved moms and dads and brothers and sisters.

This phrasing has an emotional appeal, something we libertarians need to do more often.

“Bring our troops back home to their families.”

That’s exactly what we want to do. That’s where American soldiers belong — defending America, not carelessly flung abroad to fight in vague wars without constitutional legitimacy and without national defense purposes. It’s a great way libertarians can demonstrate they — to use an oft-heard phrase — truly “support our troops.”

And many Americans — especially those with friends, relatives and loved ones in the military — will respond positively to this wording.

Try it and see.