If you had told us on Thursday that Yemen was a dangerous Al Qaeda stronghold we would have been like, "Who or what is a 'Yemen'?" Now we've got Lieberman painting cross-hairs on the place. Here we go again!
You of course know about, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed Northwest Airlines pantsbomber, who claims to have connections to Al Qaeda in Yemen. Plus, there was the Fort Hood Shooter's connection to radical Yemeni cleric Anwar Aulaqi. Both these incidents have focused attention on the impoverished middle-eastern country in a disturbingly familiar way.
Lieberman, who helms the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said on "Fox News Sunday" that the U.S. will have to take an active approach in Yemen after multiple recent terrorist attacks on the U.S. were linked back to the Middle Eastern nation.
The Connecticut senator said that an administration official told him that "Iraq was yesterday's war, Afghanistan is today's war. If we don't act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow's war."
It just makes a guy kind of nervous!
We agree that all of the "DANGER: YEMEN" articles coming out make Yemen seem like a pretty scary place. (The Guardian wins for best headline: "Yemen: the international jihadi's destination of choice.") To wit:
"Administration officials and American lawmakers said Yemen could become Al Qaeda's next operational and training hub, rivaling the lawless tribal areas of Pakistan where the organization's top leaders operate." -NYT
"U.S. officials say al Qaeda's activities in Yemen are now second only to operations in their safe haven in Pakistan." -WSJ
"In short, Yemen has become the international jihadi's destination of choice from which to prepare, plot and launch future terror attacks. "Only Pakistan's tribal regions rival Yemen as a terrorist Shangri-La", the Wall Street Journal said this year, citing American estimates that up to 1,500 al-Qaida-linked fighters are based there. -Guardian
But it's just—and, granted, this is coming from someone probably less informed about Yemeni affairs than even Lieberman is—it's just, here were are at the dawn of a new decade which is ours to fuck up, and Lieberman's leading with this warmongering bullshit that was hacky even back in 2003? As Firedoglake points out, we have already been preemptively bombing the shit out of Al Qaeda via cruise missile strikes, and even killing some of them. Plus, the US is spending more than $70 million to train and equip Yemeni military. So what are you even talking about, Lieberman? Especially given that we do not yet know what level of training/material support Abdulmutallab actually got from "Yemen"?
Even if it turns out Yemeni Al Qaeda had strapped the bomb to Abdulmutallab's crotch themselves then bought his plane ticket on Travelocity, it doesn't change the fact that Lieberman is talking out of his ass. And, sure, there is probably a near-zero chance at this point of some Iraq-style invasion. But it's disheartening to see Lieberman follow that same, sad Global War on Terror program we hoped had been deleted along with Bush, but which had apparently just been minimized, ready to pop up at a moment's notice like an idiotic Microsoft Word paperclip whose little speech bubble is full of words we know way too well.