NO ADVERTISING, GOVERNMENT OR CORPORATE FUNDING

  • Latest News
  • Pitch a Story
  • Work with a Journalist
  • Join the Blog Squad
  • Afghanistan
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Baltimore
  • Canada
  • Egypt
  • Europe
  • Latin America
  • Middle East
  • Russia
  • Economy
  • Environment
  • Health Care
  • Military
  • Occupy
  • Organize This
  • Reality Asserts Itself
  • US Politics
  • Yemen, the real conflict Pt.2


    Walid Al-Saqaf: Yemen govt and US use fight against al-Qaeda to target opposition movement in South -   February 13, 2010
    Members don't see ads. If you are a member, and you're seeing this appeal, click here

    Audio

    Share to Facebook Share to Twitter




    I support The Real News Network because it is news - David Pear
    Log in and tell us why you support TRNN

    Bio

    Walid Al-Saqaf is a media researcher specializing in Internet censorship. He is a freelance journalist and the former editor of the Yemen Times. He has written for the Gulf News and the Wall Street Journal and is the founder of yemenportal.net. Currently, Walid Al-Saqaf is pursuing his PhD at the Department of Media and Communication at Örebro University, Sweden.


    Transcript

    Yemen, the real conflict Pt.2PAUL JAY: Welcome back to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay, and we're discussing the situation in Yemen with Walid al-Saqaf. He's the former editor of Yemen Times newspaper. He's now based in Sweden, doing a Ph.D., studying Internet censorship. Thanks for joining us, Walid.

    WALID AL-SAQAF: Thank you.

    JAY: Just to recap something from the first segment by way of a question, to what extent does [is] the current crisis in Yemen the product of a history, which was, given Yemen's importance strategically, both United States, Saudi Arabia, perhaps other Western forces, the British, were very, very intent on making sure that southern Yemen was not part of the Soviet sphere, and once the Soviet Union fell, they wanted to make sure any remnants of that kind of political force was, you could say, weakened or demolished. A unified Yemen comes into being, essentially as an ally of the West, of Saudi Arabia, and once that's achieved, nobody really gives a damn what happens to Yemen in terms of the conditions of the people. So is that a fair reading of it?

    AL-SAQAF: I'd say it is. I mean, and it's an unfortunate reality. And people in Yemen do feel it every day. If you look at the statistics and numbers by the World Bank, by the UN, Yemen has always been falling... one of the least developed in the region, —even to the level of gender equality: it's not only the least in the Arab world; it's the least in the whole world. And all of those accumulate over time and make people feel abandoned and neglected. Whenever something like the London conference comes up, these things aren't mentioned much. Most of the talk would be about military aid, about supporting the regime's efforts to, I don't know, do economic reforms. But the real struggles of the people are very little attended to.

    JAY: So what is al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, how did it begin, what size is it, and why is it there?

    AL-SAQAF: Well, there are two stories given right now. I mean, the government of Yemen was trying to undermine the claim that it is real international threat. What is being claimed is that there are a bunch of al-Qaeda sympathizers, or, let's say, members, perhaps, that had fled the jails in Yemen, and that had come from Guantanamo, and who had been trained in Afghanistan. Some were thought to have already abandoned their history in terms of fighting in real armed conflicts and resumed their daily lives as normal, regular citizens, but the reality is that many of those have been given haven in Yemen, because they felt that Yemen is a place where there is very low degree of law. I mean, law enforcement is very, very weak in Yemen. And add to that there are tribal loyalties, there are terrains that are very difficult to maneuver in for government authorities, and the government itself is weak in terms of economy, and it can't pay for administrative districts or employees to follow up with all the services and regions.

    JAY: To what extent is al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and that motion, movement, is that an extension of what's been going on in—now based in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia, coming and fishing in troubled waters in Yemen? Or to what extent is it an indigenous phenomena of—because of the lack of rights and poverty, and this is one form of expression of resistance to that?

    AL-SAQAF: The first point you raised is what is being mentioned in most of the media. The other alternative view is that this al-Qaeda aspect of it is not merely a matter of armed groups coming over and being hosted in Yemen and trying to plan for further attacks; it's more about that the situation in Yemen and the people's level of poverty and the aspects of hopelessness in the country has driven people to join any group that would allow them to make ends meet. And at the same time, Yemen has traditionally been a very solid Islamic country, where conservative values are the norm. Many Islamic scholars come from Yemen and keep a very strong connection to the regime and to the society as a whole. So the country in itself perhaps one of those that are very closely sympathizing with any radical movement that is Islamic.

    JAY: Now, when Yemen was formed, at the time of unification it was modeled after a modern republic, one of, I think, only ten or so republics in the Middle East. So there's a lot of hope, as you were saying in the first segment of the interview, that Yemen would become kind of a model for a new democracy. What is the state now of democratic rights? I know the newspaper that you were editor of, Yemen Times, your father founded that, and you were saying he was killed in a, you said, mysterious car accident. The paper's now run by your sister. What is the situation now in terms of free speech and the right to organize there?

    AL-SAQAF: Just one look at the Committee to Protect Journalists Web site and searching for the keyword "Yemen" would show how disastrous the situation is. It's been going on for many, many years now in last decade, so the situation is not new. But the issue is that whenever there is something to do with al-Qaeda or security, all those problems are set aside, and then the issue of security and armed cooperation with the regime are put into priority. And that's mistaken. I mean, we need to look into the deeply rooted problems of Yemen, and part of it is lack of democracy and lack of freedom. I remembered Obama's statements when he used to mention the need to reform countries like Pakistan and others, to make people's voices heard and bring equality and justice, and those very fancy statements that we used to hear. But now on the ground we see something else happening. Those journalists are still in prison. There are many missing. Some have disappeared without any trial. Currently there are intimidations taking place, Web sites being banned, including my own Web site, YemenPortal.net, who got banned. So there are many problems happening, and part of the real solution is to target human rights elements of the country, trying to see where social injustices happen, trying to track down, see if the government has applied the economic and political reforms that it had promised for so long.

    JAY: So instead of that, what's happening: US policy is to prop up President Ali Saleh with money, and apparently even possibly with cruise missiles (there's been reports that American cruise missiles helped Yemeni forces attack some of what were called al-Qaeda forces). So if this policy is the policy and continues, what do you think we're going to see over the next year or two?

    AL-SAQAF: A failed state. If the situation continues and status quo remains and president remains, the "ally", in quotes, of the West that is going to serve the interests of the US and others in terms of punishing al-Qaeda and tracking down terrorists, while not becoming aggressive in reforms, then the country sooner or later will collapse, and then we'll all have to blame the reasons behind it. And that is mainly because whenever the regime is starting to feel the pressure from the people and starting to find that the opposition is gaining voices and becoming really powerful and strong and supported measures for change, it brings up something like al-Qaeda and then gets the support from the West, and reflects this, unfortunately, in the governmental media, which often says the US is supporting the regime, the US is supporting unity, which is indirectly a reference to the regime.

    JAY: Is al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula? Are they more based in the North or the South?

    AL-SAQAF: I'd say they are distributed, but mostly in the South. The only reason for that, I'd say, is geographical, because the terrain there is easier for them to use and it's less dense in terms of population. But other than that, they have sympathizers all over.

    JAY: And the leadership of the Southern secessionist movement, what's their relationship with al-Qaeda?

    AL-SAQAF: They have been in total odds with it. I mean, you know, any socialist regime would be at odds with al-Qaeda. If we don't say al-Qaeda itself but radical elements that are now part of al-Qaeda, in 1994 they had been fighting along with the regime that's now led by Ali Saleh against the socialists and the Southerners.

    JAY: And to what extent is the military support the Yemenis' government's getting in the name of fighting al-Qaeda being used to actually fight the secessionists, the Southerners?

    AL-SAQAF: There's no accountability. I mean, the problem in Yemen is lack of transparency. We don't know where the money goes, where it comes from come, and we can't hold the president accountable, remarkably, because he is immune of what we call the anticorruption committee that has been established. So we don't know where the money flows. And it could be, I mean, that the money that the president will receive be used against the opposition and against crushing certain elements. And a very clear example is the killing of one leader, so-called al-Qaeda leader, who later turned to be a regular scholar. He's a religious scholar that had not been in harmony with the regime for a while, and they claimed that he was al-Qaeda element. It made a mockery of the government later on when they discovered that he only joined al-Qaeda after his death.

    JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Walid.

    AL-SAQAF: My pleasure.

    JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

    DISCLAIMER:

    Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee complete accuracy.


    More Info


    Comments

    Our automatic spam filter blocks comments with multiple links and multiple users using the same IP address. Please make thoughtful comments with minimal links using only one user name. If you think your comment has been mistakenly removed please email us at contact@therealnews.com

    Comments


    Latest Stories


    The Resegregation of American Schools
    University Sit-In Targets World's Largest Private Coal Company
    The Modern History of Venezuela and the Need for a Post-Oil Economy - Edgardo Lander on RAI (6/9)
    Can Johns Hopkins Afford to Pay A Living Wage? (1/2)
    One Percent of Environmentalists Killings Lead to Convictions
    Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper Attack on Protestors
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Ukraine Transitional Gov't Moves Militarily To Reclaim Seized Buildings
    IPCC Report Flawed By Narrow Focus on Carbon Emissions
    The Modern History of Venezuela: The Bolivarian Revolution - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (5/9)
    Obama Signs Directives to Reduce the Gender Wage Gap
    Eastern Ukraine Lacks Political Representation in Kiev
    Demystifying the Role of Mitigation in the Most Recent IPCC Report
    Hypersurveillance State Won't Prevent Another Boston Marathon Bombing
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1973 to the Caracazo Massacre - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (3/9)
    Univ. of Maine Faculty Reinstated After Students Protest Against Cuts
    The Modern History of Venezuela from 1908 to 1973 - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (2/9)
    IMF Will Address Global Inequality, Says Managing Director Christine Lagarde
    Raising Big Banks' Leverage Ratio Good, But Not Nearly Enough
    TRNN Replay: Austerity Road to 19th Century
    Has Palestinian Maneuvering Revived Peace Talks?
    Late Jackson Mayor Lumumba's Son Wins Primary to Replace His Father, Runoff Election Ahead
    Quebecers Reject PQ and Elect a Liberal Government Representing Big Business
    TRNN Debate: Decriminalization vs. Legalization
    The Beginning of the Chavez Era - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (4/9)
    "Off With His Head": Court Upholds Obama's Power to Kill
    Workers at Nation's Top Hospital Strike For Fair Wages
    From Exile to Radicalization in Venezuela - Edgardo Lander on Reality Asserts Itself (1/9)
    Rwanda 20 Years Later: Genocide, Western Plunder of Congo, and President Kagame
    Ukrainian Protesters in the East Demand More Autonomy From Kiev Government
    Hunger Strikers Demand President Obama Halt His Record 2 Million Deportations
    Indian Parliamentary Elections - A Primer With Vijay Prashad
    West Looks to Carve Up Ukraine & Privatize Industries Held by Kleptocrats
    Where Are Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations Headed?
    The Multiple Kingdoms of Saudi Arabia (5/5)
    Do the Afghan Presidential Elections Signify Progress?
    Republican Presidential Hopefuls Pay Homage to Billionaire Casino Tycoon Sheldon Adelson
    Will Extremist Lieberman Become Israel's Next Prime Minister?
    Why do the Saudis Want the US to Attack Iran? (4/5)
    Immigrant Advocates and Families Tell President Obama 'Not One More'
    Elections, Pipelines, and Protests - The Canada Panel
    Chris Hedges on "Israel's War on American Universities"
    Baltimore Residents Decry Lack of Affordable Housing
    Yellen Talks the Talk But Will She Walk the Walk?
    Hopkins Hospital Workers Speak Out against "Poverty Wages"
    Will Venezuela's New Floating Exchange Rate Curb Inflation?
    The European Central Bank's War on Wages is Pushing Europe's Economy to the Brink
    Supreme Court Decision Opens Floodgates for More Campaign Cash
    Charles Keating, the Financier Behind the Savings and Loan Scandal, Dies at 90
    Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda Monster (3/5)
    Maryland Residents Voice Opposition to Natural Gas Fracking Export Facility
    Supreme Court Ruling Gives Wealthy Individuals More Influence Over Elections
    What are the Saudis Afraid Of? - Madawi Al-Rasheed (2/5)
    Baltimore's MICA Adjunct Professors Set to Vote on Unionization
    Boycott of Israel Moving to Next Level?
    Hypocrisy Dressed Up as "Realism" Justifies American Alliance with Saudi Dictatorship
    Immigration Reform in the Shadows of Cesar Chavez's Legacy
    Leaked Senate Report Shows Use of Torture As "Ineffective"
    UN Report Says Climate Change Will Threaten Food Production Worldwide
    The Hypocrisy of US Calling for Enforcement of International Law
    How the Ecuadorian Economy Grew in a Global Recession
    'Shadows of Liberty' Trailer
    Kristina Borjesson on Why CBS Shut Down Her investigation into Flight 800 (2/8)
    Glen Ford on Racism in the American Media (3/8)
    Paul Jay on What Drives Corporate Media and What Drive The Real News (4/8)
    Creating a New Media Paradigm After Citizens United (5/8)
    Should The Left Engage with the Mainstream Media? (6/8)
    What Is the Financial Backing For The Real News? (7/8)
    Standing up to Character Assassination (8/8)
    Oligarchs, Fascists and the People's Protest in Ukraine
    TRNN Debate: Is Obamacare In the Interest of Workers?
    Too-Big-To-Fail Advantage Remains Intact For Big Banks
    Obama and the Saudi Agenda
    TRNN Replay: Investigating the Saudi Government's 9/11 Connection and the Path to Disilliusionment - Sen. Graham on Reality Asserts Itself pt 1
    The Iraq War's Real Legacy
    Petitions with 100,000+ Signatures Call for Snowden's Passport to be Reinstated
    We Need to Harness People Power - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (4/4)
    BC Pipeline Fight and Quebec Elections - The Canada Panel
    Jonathan Schell - 1943-2014: Board Member of TRNN on Why We Need The Real News
    Teachers on Strike from the UK to Argentina
    Connecticut Poised to Become First State with $10.10 Minimum Wage
    Oil Spill Threatens Wildlife and Local Economy
    DC School Test Scores Up, But Poor Black Kids Are Doing Worse - Andy Shallal on RAI (3/4)
    Obama's Proposal To End NSA Bulk Data Collection Won't Protect Privacy
    How Google, Apple & The Biggest Tech Companies Colluded to Fix Workers' Wages
    An American Should be One that Questions Their Government - Andy Shallal on RAI (2/4)
    What's Driving Putin & Obama's Posturing on Ukraine?
    Hundreds of Students & Faculty Occupy College Campus to Fight Cuts to Public Higher Ed
    Due Process 'Impossible' In Harsh Death Sentencing Of Over 500 Muslim Brotherhood Members
    Has Anglo-American Capitalism Run Out of Steam?
    Being the "Other" in America - Andy Shallal on Reality Asserts Itself (1/4)
    TRNN Debate: Should Baltimore 'Ban The Box'?
    How Fallujah Became the Iraqi Government's New Battleground
    Why I Decided to Blow the Whistle on the NSA
    NASA Climate Predictions Show Serious Threat To Humanity
    Professor Who Teaches Israel-Palestine Conflict Accuses College of Violating His Academic Freedom
    CIA and NSA Wrongdoing Requires Independent Investigation, Says Former Church Committee Staff
    Are Tuition Breaks Enough To Combat High Student Debt And Low Graduation Rates?
    Industries Across the U.S. Are Stealing Wages From Their Lowest Paid Workers
    Who In Ukraine Will Benefit From An IMF Bailout?
    NSA Recording All International Calls From U.S.
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (2/2)
    BP Gets Green Light to Drill in Gulf, But Has Safety Improved?
    Residents Still Not Drinking Tap Water Two Months After West Virginia Spill (1/2)
    Libya's Descent Into Turmoil Three Years After NATO Intervention
    From Pipelines to Peladeau - Canadian Report
    Israel "Making Lives Miserable" for Africans, Hoping They 'Self-Deport' (1/2)
    Congressional Progressive Caucus Budget Strikes Back Against Austerity
    Libya Three Years Later - Chaos and Partition
    Why Was Gaddafi Overthrown?
    Should Ukraine and West Accept De Facto Crimea Joining Russia? (2/2)
    Tony Benn Saw Socialism as the Culmination of Democratization
    Why Didn't Bush/Cheney Attack Iran and Can Obama Make and Sell a Deal? - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (3/3)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi? (2/2)
    Crimea Referendum: Self Determination or Big Power Manipulation? (1/2)
    Sen. Graham: President Must Side with Openness About CIA and 9/11
    Manufacturing a Narrative for War - Gareth Porter on Reality Asserts Itself (2/3)
    Protesters Hit the Streets of Brooklyn to Demand $15 Minimum Wage
    Hammer: 'Moral Bankruptcy' Behind Massive GM Recall
    White House Withholds Thousands of Documents from Senate CIA Probe
    I Grew Up Believing in Time Magazine's Version of America - Gareth Porter on RAI (1/3)
    Western European Banks Vulnerable to Ukrainian Sovereign Debt Crisis
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (2/2)
    CIA vs. Senate: Who Is Obama Protecting?
    Will Tipped Workers Get Excluded Again From Minimum Wage Hike?
    TRNN Debate: What's Driving Inflation in Venezuela? (1/2)
    After Late Mayor Lumumba is Laid to Rest, What's Next for Jackson, Mississippi?(1/2)
    TRNN Replay: A Look at Who's Poised to Become No.2 at the Fed
    How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine (2/2)
    Netanyahu Attacks Boycott As Campaign Enters New Phase
    Moving Towards a Police State - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (7/7)
    Fighting Reagan's Secret, Illegal Wars - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (6/7)
    Puerto Rican Independence Movement and Cuba Further Radicalized Me - Michael Ratner on RAI (5/7)
    The Butcher of Attica - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (4/7)
    MLK and a Radicalizing Moment in American History - Michael Ratner on Reality Asserts Itself (3/7)

    RealNewsNetwork.com, Real News Network, Real News, Real News For Real People, IWT are trademarks and service marks of IWT.TV inc. "The Real News" is the flagship show of IWT and Real News Network.

    All original content on this site is copyright of The Real News Network.  Click here for more

    Problems with this site? Please let us know

    Linux VPS Hosting by Star Dot Hosting