News Release

Iraq: Is Yemen the Model?

President Obama stated yesterday in his remarks about sending troops to Iraq: “You look at a country like Yemen — a very impoverished country and one that has its own sectarian or ethnic divisions — we do have a committed partner in President Hadi and his government. And we have been able to help to develop their capacities without putting large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground, at the same time as we’ve got enough CT, or counterterrorism, capabilities that we’re able to go after folks that might try to hit our embassy or might be trying to export terrorism into Europe or the United States.

“And looking at how we can create more of those models is going to be part of the solution in dealing with both Syria and Iraq. But in order for — for us to do that, we still need to have actual governments on the ground that we can partner with and that we’ve got some confidence are going to pursue the political policies of inclusiveness — in Yemen, for example, a wide-ranging national dialogue that took a long time but helped to give people a sense that there is a legitimate political outlet for grievances that they may have.”

FAREA AL-MUSLIMI, falmuslimi at gmail.com, @almuslimi
Al-Muslimi, a Yemeni youth activist, writer, and consultant who testified at a Senate hearing last year about U.S. policy in Yemen put out a series of tweets today taking exception to President Obama’s remarks, including: “Immunity 4 murderers, zero election, infinitely powerful militias, war on media, 14.5 m starving, etc. is solution 4 Iraq? cz thts Yemeni model” and “How can president obama even say yemen can be a model for iraq? doesnt he see it here? a model to hell.”

See “Yemeni Testifies at Senate Drone Hearing on Human Cost of U.S. Drone Wars.” Al-Muslimi said at the hearing: “In the past, what Wessab villagers knew of the U.S. was based on my stories about my wonderful experiences here (in U.S.). The friendships and values I experienced and described to the villagers helped them understand the America that I know and that I love.

“Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time.

“What the violent militants have previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger against America in Wessab. This is not an isolated instance, the drone strikes are the face of America to many Yemenis.”

CHRIS WOODS, [in London] freelance.woods at gmail.com, @chrisjwoods
Woods is an investigative reporter who set up and ran until recently the award-winning Drones Team at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. He was awarded the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism 2013 and is currently writing a book on the U.S. drone wars.

JUDY BELLO, jb.papillonweb at gmail.com
Bello is a member of Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, a group which has led a series of protests outside the Hancock Air Base, a control center for MQ-9 Reaper drone attacks. She is also with the group United National Antiwar Coalition. She said today: “Yemen as a model for Iraq; wouldn’t that just be lovely! Quietly remove an intractable puppet and replace him with one that is compliant; support a public discourse on progressive issues for those who will enjoy it; and use drones to bomb any emergent resistance around the critical issues of power sharing and basic distribution of resources. Sounds like a perfect recipe for pacification to me.”