The hidden origin of the fires burning in the Middle East

Summary: After our many failures in the long war that we began after 9/11, with the Middle East aflame, a few voices ask if our actions during the past few decades contributed to this disaster. They ask us to open our eyes to see our actions in this region — long a centerpiece of US geopolicy — and their bitter fruit. This note by The War Nerd goes to the heart of the matter. {2nd of 2 posts today.}

An alliance led by the US is conducting a vast experiment in the Middle East to …

"Fight the future" by  Ramaelk at DeviantArt
“Fight the future” by Ramaelk at DeviantArt

To help us better understand events in the Middle East today we have an excerpt from an article by the essential War Nerd (red emphasis added). It’s vital reading for anyone wondering how we have with such good intentions set the Middle East afire.

Excerpt from “A Brief History Of The Yemen Clusterf*ck

by Gary Brecher, Pando, 28 March 2015

… Nasser, hope of the Arab world in the 1960s, decided that a modern, Arab-nationalist regime in Yemen would be a big move for him, Egypt, and the Arabs. Arabs were getting very “modern” at that time. It’s important to remember that. You know why they stopped getting modern, and started getting interested in reactionary, Islamist repression?

Because the modernizing Arabs were all killed by the US, Britain, Israel, and the Saudis.

That was what happened in the North Yemen Civil War, from 1962-1967. After a coup, Nasser backed modernist Yemeni officers against the new Shia ruler. The Saudis might not have liked Shia, but they hated secularist, modernizing nationalists much more. At least the Northern Shia kings ruled by divine right and invoked Allah after their heretical fashion. That was much better, to the Saudi view, than a secular Yemen.

And the west agreed. To the Americans of that time, “secular” sounded a little bit commie. To the British, it sounded anti-colonial and unprofitable. To the Israelis, it raised the horrible specter of an Arab world ruled by effective 20th-century executives. States like that might become dangerous enemies, while an Arab world stuck in religious wars, dynastic feuds, and poverty sounded wonderful.

Why do you think the IDF has not attacked Islamic State or Jabhat Al Nusra even once?


Inventing the Future
Quote from Inventing the Future by Dennis Gabor (1963).

So all the factions we call “The West” jumped in to destroy these Yemeni officers: British commandos and pilots, Israeli military advisors, CIA bagmen, NSA geeks, and mercenaries from all over the world. That was the all-star lineup fighting “for Allah and the Emir,” as the idiots at Time Magazine enthused in a a 1963 article.

And of course that lineup won easily, against a clique of officers and a half-trained Egyptian expeditionary force. Egypt lost something like 25,000 soldiers in Yemen; you don’t fight a British/Saudi/American/Israeli/Islamist/Royalist coalition like the one they were facing without losing big. After the Six-Day War in 1967, when it lost the Sinai, Egypt had no interest in bothering about Yemen and called its surviving troops home.

If you look at a control map of Northern Yemen in 1967, when the war ended with Egypt’s total defeat, you see that the Egyptian forces and their Yemeni allies still controlled some of the southern areas around Taiz (which was just taken by the Houthi last week), while the Royalists, the conservatives, controlled all of Saada Province and the north, the areas across from Najran.

The War Nerd
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So the Houthi, whose core strength perfectly maps the Royalists’ areas of control in 1967, draw their strength from these same conservative areas. As for the modernist, secular Yemenis, they’re just gone. Emigrated, or died, or saw their children seduced by the madrassi.

That scenario was repeated all over the Middle East during the Cold War, and it has a lot to do with how messed up the place is now. “For Allah and the Emir”; when Time ran that headline in 1963, that slogan sounded quaint and kind of touching. . . . It sounded like a nice alternative to Nasser, nationalism (and its much more dangerous corollary, nationalization) or, worse yet, Communism.

So the West put its weapons and its money in on the side of “Allah and the Emir” over and over again, against every single faction trying to make a modern, secular Arab world, whether on the Nasserite, Ba’athist, Socialist, Communist, or other model.

It worked very well — or badly, if you prefer. It left Yemen festering, like most of the Arab world, with a weak royalist regime in the north and an even weaker socialist state in Aden. In 1990, after the collapse of the USSR, that southern Yemen state dissolved, taking the last of its fading “socialist” posters and slogans with it. Yemen was reunited, in theory; a poor, sectarian, anti-modern nightmare state.

By that time, “For Allah and the Emir” was pretty much the only slogan anywhere in the Arab countries. It had gone from quaint and quirky to universal. The only option left was to choose which version of Allah, and which corresponding emir, you were going to back.

The Houthi are as conservative and devout as the Saudis who are using every plane they’ve got to bomb them at the moment. In fact, their favorite poster is a devoutly blood-thirsty souvenir of Tehran in the Khomeini years:

Houthis Logo

God is great.
Death to America.
Death to Israel.
A curse upon the Jews.
Victory to Islam.

Of course, the Houthi, as Shia, worship the wrong version of Allah, from the Saudi perspective. But that didn’t bother the Saudis, or the Americans, or the British, or the Israelis, back in the 1960s when they all joined hands (in a very non-peace-and-love way) to wipe out the modernizing Yemeni.

Arabs are reduced to choosing which Allah and which Emir to support because a half-century alliance between the worst oligarchies in the West and the most reactionary elements in their countries wiped out the alternative. That’s why it’s so grotesque to hear right-wingers blaming the Arabs for the lack of commitment to democracy and even more ridiculous that Leftists demand respect for fascist thugs like Islamic State, as if they were the voice of the Muslim people.

These sectarian wars are what’s left when you’ve killed everybody else who was attempting to provide Arabs with an effective, secular, modern existence.

——————- Read the full article! ————————

For More Information

To learn about the war in Yemen, so poorly reported by the US media:

To understand the futility of our assassination by drone campaign in Yemen see Our escalation shows the key US military strategy: FAILure to learn. For the big picture read Andrew Cockburn’s Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins. See all posts about assassination as a tool of war. and drone assassins. Especially see these posts about Islam.

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