"South Yemen and the United States have only one thing in common: they were the only British colonies that won independence through a guerrilla war and that remained in conflict with their former colonizers for years afterward. Both waged struggles rooted in a political radicalism that prevented any easy reconciliation with the imperial power. The United States seems to have forgotten its early radicalism. (...) It has taken Britain's place as protector and guarantor of the conservative monarchies."
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Quote of the day for January 10, 2010
From: Fred Halliday: Proxyland for Cold Warriors. The Nation, May 26, 1984, p.640 (pp.638-640.)
The regime in what used to be South Yemen or the PDRY (People's Democratic Republic of Yemen) was in deep conflict with Saudi Arabia which sought to turn the Yemeni Arab Republic (the "North") into a buffer zone against influence from the South. The conflict with Britain that is referred to in the text was the Dhofari insurgency in Oman, supported by the PDRY, which ended in 1975.
This region altogether was one more battleground of ideas where Marxism and conservatism as well as Islamism clashed, with the U.S. joining the struggle on the anti-Marxist side, supporting the Saudi monarchy, tribes and even madrasa networks, with its Cold War priorities.
This involvement preceded U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, but 1979 was an equally important year for the region of the Yemens. President Carter approved 415 million dollars worth of emergency assistance to "North" Yemen as its conflict, including cross-border insurgencies, intensified with South Yemen (in the same year when support to Afghan insurgents, of about 500,000 dollars, was approved by him, during the summer).
Yemen clearly matters, and what is happening there does have significance. As these random historical reflexions show, it has significance connected to Afghanistan even, especially as there is a myriad of personal connections through the Afghan jihad (beyond the Yemeni origins of Osama bin Laden's family) which globalised the fight for Yemeni Islamists, too (see, merely for illustration, for example Abdul Majeed al-Zindani's interesting story here - he was in Afghanistan/Pakistan till 1987, as he states in this interview, and was an important associate for bin Laden at least up till then; and he is founder and leader of the Iman University*, or the University of Faith, in Sana'a, and also one of the leaders of the Islah Party).
But those who point out that AQAP seems to receive an improportionate amount of attention because of the failed Detroit plane bomber, compared to AQ core that has just successfully attacked a major CIA outpost in Khost, Afghanistan, certainly seem to be right.