Scott talks to Bas Spliet about the state of the ongoing war in Yemen, in which America continues to support Saudi Arabia in its victimization of the Yemeni people. Spliet describes the true situation that American media is loath to tell you: America is fighting on the side of al Qaeda, arguably America’s only real enemies, simply because the Houthi “rebels” have a possible connection with Iran. America could end the war tomorrow, but instead continues to let thousands of civilians die needlessly.
Discussed on the show:
- “In Yemen, Western Foreign Policy Is Empowering al-Qaeda” (Antiwar.com Original)
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The following is an automatically generated transcript.
For Pacifica radio, June 21 2020. I’m Scott Horton. This is anti war radio.
All right, y’all welcome it’s Scott Horton Show. I am the director of the Libertarian Institute editorial director of antiwar.com, author of the book Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan. And I’ve recorded more than 5000 interviews going back to 2003, all of which are available at ScottHorton.org. You can also sign up to the podcast feed. The full archive is also available at youtube.com/ScottHortonShow. Introducing Bas Spliet. He has written quite a few articles for us now at antiwar.com dot com, including this extremely important one from last week in Yemen. Western foreign policy is empowering al Qaeda. Welcome back. The show Bas, how are you doing, sir?
Bas Spliet 1:02
Very good, sir. That’s
Scott Horton 1:06
great. Very happy to have you here. And it is such an important story. It’s sort of the Forgotten War in real time, America’s war in Yemen. We’re leading from behind as the Obama is put it, in the war in Libya. Same kind of thing here. The Obama government started it with the Saudis in 2015. Trump has continued it, of course, throughout his presidency. And even though if you just asked a man on the street, you know, who do you think were fighting in Yemen? They might guess well, Al Qaeda, right. Maybe the guys that bomb Nicole tried to blow up the plane over Detroit, and I think they would be shocked to find out that Actually, no, we’re fighting a war for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, against their local enemies. But how could that be that sounds crazy Bas, please take us through it here.
Bas Spliet 1:58
Yeah, definitely. Sounds crazy. And it’s probably results of the fact that they make the war seem very complex. And they give very little information about it, and they don’t really tell people about it. So people just go along with this. But let me just see where I started seeing investigation in late April, after reports came out on the American news sites. alternative media sites, means press news, concerning some very disturbing revelations that a Yemeni journalist had uncovered. That in the fights between the Hootie forces recharged Shiite insurgents that took over the government in 215, and have held the Capitol ever since they took over two desert villages on the front line in the war against the forces of doublemint. So heady, which is the deposed president, which saw you that coalition is trying to reinstall and which are our allies. Which as we’ve said, We are leading from behind. And from these reports, he was clear that there were video shares, spontaneous videos that we made. After the Moody’s took over these villages. And videos clearly showed that in the underground bunkers of these forces, they found documents with the official logo of al Qaeda with the face of I’m sorry, on its, as well as graffiti sprayed flags of the Islamic State on the wall, which clearly revealed seem to reveal the true allegiances of the forces, which are our allies, basically. And yeah, there is some information about this relationship and I read, we I read something like left and right about this relationship, but I wants to find out how is this more of a superficial thing? Is this an exception? Or is there a more deeper relationship from which we can say that’s the There is two, can we actually say like, as that title claims that Western foreign policy is directly aiding and abetting al Qaeda or suppose number one enemy, at least in the Middle East. So that’s what I set out to do. I looked at all the evidence I could find, also with the help of someone you’ve interviewed, it’s quite a few times. So yeah, internist, by the name of NASA IRB. And it’s probably impossible to go into all the details, but I think we can summarize findings in four layers, if you will, that peel the onion. So if you allow me I’ll do just that.
Scott Horton 4:37
Yes, do please go ahead.
Bas Spliet 4:38
First of all, on the most basic level, finding what’s revealed by a new investigation by the Associated Press in 2018, which found that the coalition claimed in 2018 that was advancing on Al Qaeda, which had some actual territory on the front But they claimed that they had made some real advances. And they took over certain villages and strategic points from Al Qaeda. But as the investigation of the Associated Press reveals, actually, there was no real fighting. But they were the result of secret deals made between al Qaeda and Saudi coalition and the heavy government’s in which actually the al Qaeda militants were were allowed to retrieve from the cities and areas they controlled with their stolen goods, which included stolen money, and weapons, and this kind of stuff. And the Associated Press also said that key participants in this deals, told them that’s the US was often part of this deal. And they agreed to stop their drone bombing while the deal was happening. So the US was involved in this in this deal. So that’s the first layer if you will But it still gives the ID that there is some clear distinction between to delineate its parties in the conflicts on the one hand, the head of government in exile, and its forces and on the one hand and other hands up kinda. But if we deeper, we actually found if you look at the weapons that are produced in the West in the United States in several European countries, which include my country, Belgium, where they end up in the conflicts, we find that actually, a lot of the Western produce weapons have ended up in the hands of al Qaeda and ISIS as well. And we know this from from from the research of Egyptian journalists, which was published on among other places on CNN, and it’s revealed that Yeah, you if you actually look at material The videos of this if this jihadists that are online, so in the in the open, open source, there was an open source investigation, you can see that Western produced weapons ended up all the time in in Al Qaeda hands. And this is part of the Bonanza, of course, in which us and its allies, they produce weapons and they sell them to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia and they give them on to war Lords part of the Saudi led coalition and part of the head of governments and they appear to have relationship relationships with cozy relationships with with al Qaeda forces in the doing, just give through the weapons. So there is a clear chain of custody in which we are empowering our number one enemy there. A third layer is something that was also discovered by the Associated Press, but in the meantime, it has also been backed up by Emirati officials which is revealed that actually it even goes further. Sometimes, oftentimes, as also, as I said, in the beginning, it looked like in these desert villages, the Qaeda militants were fighting alongside the howdy governments. This is a pattern that is discovered in several cases in which Academy religions are recruited into the fight against the Houthis. And this, yeah, they do this because supposedly, the Houthis are the bigger evil, if you will, because Gulf propaganda depicts them as even worse than al Qaeda. They won’t say that, but they suggest that and thus, even though Iran is not really involved very deeply in this conflict and the Houthis are forced in their own rights, which are not puppets of Iran. They literally recruit all kinds of balances into the fights. And finally, it’s very clear. That’s it Some of the people that are literally on the United States official lists by the Treasury Department’s of global designated terrorists in Yemen. There are several people that are just very connected to the head of governments. I’ll just give two examples. Maybe the most illustrative one is Abdul Wahab McCarney, he’s kind of Salafi preacher turned politician. He looks pretty modern. I saw photos. So it might appeal to extremist Islamic elements. And after the previous president present, not the post heavy present, but the guy before that ruled him and for 33 years, saw that when he was the posting 2012 there were a lot of conferences, power transition conferences, sponsored by the Gulf monarchies, and he participated in that and through some in some reports, he’s They say these, these are very prominent participants in these conferences, but still at the United States in 2013, the end of 2013. They designated him as a terrorist, and they put him on their terrorist list. And because and this is almost literal quote, he does business for arcada. He travels throughout the Arabian Peninsula freely Saudi Arabia, mainly and, and Yemen, and he conducts business for Al Qaeda. I funnels weapons and all kinds of stuff and money. So pretty startling, you would think. But still, this was students routine. In 2015, he participated in a conference sponsored by the UN in Geneva, Switzerland, where he participates in the capacity of delegation of the head of government. So you can literally find that is actually part of the heavy government’s going to be stocks at the same time that he’s on. The US terrorists list. And you can even find photos of him shaking banky moon the Secretary General of the UN, the boss of the world’s if you will. Yeah, pretty startling. Yeah. Did you start? Maybe a last one that I can mention mention is up to mosquitoes in Danny, who was also preacher and was involved with, with the Muslim Brotherhood. I think he even set up, founded the Yemeni branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. And it’s also a leading member of the Islamic party which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and as far back as students for United States doesn’t need him as a global terrorist. They put him on his list they sanction him because according to the press statements, he is a loyalist of some bin Laden, and he even they even say that he is one of the spiritual leaders have some villain, but even then in 2011, and we’re alive Lucky which is a US citizen that when radicalized and went to Yemen and he ended up dying in a drone strike by the United States he was extra judicially kills, which should be mentioned he like according to an Egyptian newspaper he sheltered at the house have as in them. But still in 2018, this guy, this, Abdul Majeed as in Danny a terrorist, according to the United States, he met our president in Yemen heading and he talked and he appears to advise them on some on some issues. So in these are just two examples. There are at least six people and you can refer to that are on the United States terror terrorists list of Yemen and this is not a list of hundred people or something. It’s just maybe 20 people or something on this list and several one several of these people are directly to tied back to the heavy governance.
Scott Horton 13:02
Yeah. Well, it really is something else. And I don’t mind bragging a little bit that you heard that here first on this show years ago from Nasr. rb, that go and look at the terrorist list. These are the very same men that we’re talking about, that the State Department has designated as enemies of the American people are the very same people that are allies in this war against the Houthis, in Yemen, and for, you know, the general public in the audience who might not understand how that could possibly be right? You have to remember that the reason that al Qaeda hates us is because and always has, is because we’re too close of allies with their governments that they want to overthrow. And so they’re not from Iran, Iraq and Syria. They’re from Saudi and Egypt, mostly countries that are friendly with the United States. And so when it comes to our overall strategic position in the region, America’s on the Sunni side. And that means that the al Qaeda guys are our strategic allies if they blew up the coal and tried to blow up a plane over Detroit, and if they help coordinate the September 11 attack, and if they harbored Anwar Al aulaqi, who inspired the Fort Hood attack, and all of this stuff, well, oh, well, don’t you know that the Houthis are rumored to be backed by Iran to some slight degree. And so therefore, the enemy of the American people who are the enemy of America’s strategic rival in the region, are our friends.
Bas Spliet 14:37
Maybe that’s most clear, if you look at the records of the Yemeni governments, we have supported the Sunni one not even Sunni but like the the governments that were previously in power in Yemen, solid was overthrown in the Arab Spring, go look at his records in fighting al Qaeda like on the one hand, he’s allowing the United States to to once in a while While performing drone strike that kills some al Qaeda neither, but on the other hands, according to the Yemeni government, at some point, there were two masterminds of the cold bombing in of 2000s. And they were convicted and put on the death sentence. But before they were put to death, they miraculously escape order. They’re their deals. There’s one guy by the name of Oh, by the way, one of the two, he escaped two different maximum security facilities, one in Samoa and one in the island. And then he was captured a third time, but then he made a deal with the governments in which he agreed that he would help find other senior more senior al Qaeda members if but he was supposedly the mastermind of one of the most deadly terrorist attack in that country. So it’s just a total farce. And it’s true that like, and they’re also very recently there are drone bombings that killed senior kind of people, but I use the phrase I don’t think it’s just Very common phrase in the United States, mopping up the floor without turning off the faucets. So on the one hand, they’re doing their war on terror, which in their United States bombing bombing al Qaeda caters and when they do that will receive a lot of media attention, but on the other hands to a very greater degree. They are literally supporting a car in all kinds of way over there. So it’s important and it doesn’t make any sense and it’s one of the many reasons we should just get out.
Scott Horton 16:35
Now I want to talk about something that you highlight in this piece again called in Yemen Western foreign policy. Empowering al Qaeda at anti war calm by Bas Spliet. And you talk here about General Michael Vickers and his statement about America working with the Houthis when they first took over the capital city at the end of 2014, beginning of 2015, that CENTCOM said, Great, we can use these guys to hunt down and murder al Qaeda guys. And then it was just two months later, that Barack Obama turned around and took al Qaeda side against them. And that, to me, is really something else.
Bas Spliet 18:34
Yeah. They quite understandably, saw the cooties, whatever they thought of them. I don’t think there were Iranian puppets at the time, running through 915 after they had overthrown present that was clearly very unpopular. And as I just mentioned, like the records of the Yemeni government in fighting al Qaeda is dubious at best, very bad at the worst. And they looked at these routines come to power. And you have this is a pretty, pretty senior guy within the Defense Department who admitted that they had an ongoing intelligence relationship with the Hutus because they figured that these guys will probably be way better in finding out guy that because not only are they supposed to sue nice, but they might have better records because they fighting corruption already easily saving they would. But then that was I think, in January 2015. Just author had he had resides under the pressure of the hoodies, of course, he fled to the south, but the hoodies advanced on the south, and then he fled. Second time, but this this time to Riyadh to Saudi Arabia. He was he was still young, but then also young. Hamad bin Salman would just come onto the scene political scene in Saudi Arabia. He set up a coalition and said I will reinstate this guy. He, he got 10 Sunni countries together and he started waging the war on them. And Saudi Arabia is our allies. So the United States said, well, we’ll go along, and then also the Saudis and their allies start saying, Yeah, this Iranians to justify the war, these these royalties, rather, they are puppets of Iran. And this of course, if you say this, Washington, Warhawks will be like, oh, we’ll drill down for death because they hate Iran to the core, of course. And then they indeed just turned around and it should be noticed that it was this was under Obama Pepsi, and now, Trump is in office of coke. So it’s the same thing there. The President changes but the policy doesn’t. And that’s, that’s very sexy indeed.
Scott Horton 20:46
Yep. And now, you mentioned Michael Horton there, no relation to me. He’s a real expert on Yemen. And when this were started back in March of 2015, he talked to mark Perry, the great Pentagon reporter, Mark Perry, and he was at that time quoting john mccain and said, well, john mccain’s complaining. Well, this is during the Iraq War Three, right the war against the Islamic State. And john mccain’s complaining that we’re flying as Iran’s Air Force in Iraq, which is, of course all McCain’s fault. But anyway, but we’re flying as Al Qaeda is Air Force now in Yemen. That was how he put it right, then as soon as the war started. It’s not like this was hard for anyone to understand if they were taking a critical look at it, that we are fighting against al Qaeda, his worst enemies, at the very least, we are de facto siding with them by helping accomplish their same goals. That was just the very beginning. Of course, as you talked about, since then, we’d have almost direct aid and comfort in the sense of American supplies going to al Qaeda through the United Arab Emirates. and so forth.
Bas Spliet 22:01
Yeah, but it bears repeating. I talked about ways in which restaurant foreign policy is directly strengthen al Qaeda, but it’s also on the face of it. It’s also just very easy to see that by instigating the war, which could never happen without our sports, the Saudis have created a power vacuum, they’ve created instability. And in this instability in this power vacuum, are kind of seized on that and that’s why they took control in the first place in the first few years of the war, and then they were supposedly pushing them back, but they were making the deals that were recruiting them. So on a very prima facia level, but also on a very deep level. We’re involved in so many ways, and it’s, it’s I really had to dig deep for some of these things. You know, the Associated Press investigation and CNN reports. These ones are available online and people refer to them but the facts Like the very easy to verify fact that several people on the designated global terrorist list of terrorists in Yemen these same people are in bed with arella it’s just insane if you think about it, and I really had to go to I had to step up my Arabic and re to arabic news reports to verify these kind of things. It’s really not reported them and the moments this would be reported for and whites then people would really clearly see that they would they wouldn’t have to they will need a complicated explanation how we’re backing Okay, if you’re interesting from perspective of the US government, these are terrorists and at the same time, they are in bed with our allies, so we should switch allies maybe
Scott Horton 23:48
or just have none. And And listen, I’m sorry, cuz this is slightly off topic, but it’s the most important point for people to understand here is that this is absolutely the worst thing happens. anything in the world right now? Is America and Saudis war against the people of Yemen. It’s very deliberately designed to be a campaign against the civilian population there. And there’s no question at least the UN has admitted, it’s almost certain that the number is higher. That UN has finally admitted that a quarter of a million people have been killed in the last five years, they’re in this war. And then again, this is not the war against aq AP, but the war for them. And so this war is genocide and treason and goes again, as you’re talking about, they’re almost completely unremarked upon, it’s absolutely as bad as Iraq War Two, and yet goes without notice. It’s it’s almost unbelievable, but it is what it is. But um, I just wanted to throw that in. I know that’s not the focus of your piece here, but I wanted to Make sure that we mentioned that, that civilians are suffering. Of course, it’s children under five who are dropping dead of starvation in this thing. It’s just an absolute atrocity. But I wanted to ask you finally here as we wrap up about the overall strength of aq, AP, because, you know, if you talk about the USS Cole, or you know, their participation in helping to arrange the September 11 attack, back then you think of a pretty small group of guys, even in the days of the war against aq AP, Obama’s drone war from 2009 through 2015 still seem like we’re in and of course, that war only grew them, they only got more and more powerful in response to that drone war, but still, it seemed like we’re talking about what at most a few hundred guys or something like that tops. But so I wonder if there’s a real good study of just how much strength al Qaeda and or the Islamic State groups in Yemen have gained here. As the result of this war, are we talking about 10s of thousands of guys in their militias now or what? Exactly?
Bas Spliet 26:07
Fortunately, I there’s no way to answer that question just because the information is so low, and the lines are so blurred, that same Michael Horton that the Yemeni experts mentions, in response to dissociate the press piece, it’s very easy for a guy to insert itself into the mix. And there there are so many parts of the conflicts and people change sides all the time, militants will maybe fights for whoever pays the best, you know, so maybe the one point it’s the heavy government’s and another point is all Qaeda. So in fighting power, it’s not easy to see, but maybe ideologically. First of all, maybe you should just get out like if you draw away all the funds coming from Saudi Arabia and these very wealthy Gulf monarchies that clearly like they have a lot of people rich people that funds, these kind of groups return into what kind of ISIS? If they weren’t pumping the money in it’s the interest in joining these groups would want to be decreased, firstly, and secondarily, that just bombing country turns people against the country that is bombing them. So that’s probably another very satisfactory answer. But it’s difficult to say, but it’s easy to diminish their numbers, I think in a very simple policy, and that is wrong. Yeah. Well, and
Scott Horton 27:34
if you look at the examples from Syria and Iraq, you know, most of the guys who would fight and been last night groups are really just militia men, rather than international terrorist types. But at the core, they’re still the overall the watery eyed mission of the war against us, the far enemy. And so if the numbers grow from a core group of 20 to a quarter group of 100 that’s still a lot you know, when it only takes a few to carry out spectacular taxes we saw with Charlie Hebdo and so many others by these guys,
Bas Spliet 28:11
let me just mentioned that like back into runs and turn a CIA and other counter terrorist officials, they start to say that actually the al Qaeda branch in Yemen is now the biggest branch of archives after we destroyed one in Afghanistan. So, yeah, then the war starting to run 15 and like until 2015, you have some terrorist attacks, which are Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is involved and with with the Shan the mo tech, of course, Interim 15 January, and then they had to assume they had to turn their attention towards the conflict, but the what is the whatever the conflict ends with all their with the ideology, upon which the breeding grounds upon which they can foster the new weapons that come from our country. The battleground experience all these things I, it would be hard to imagine if they are not more strong than they were. They were before the war. That’s that’s what I can tell you. Yeah.
Scott Horton 29:10
Yeah. Aren’t you guys that is Bas Spliet. He is a master’s student at the University of Ghent, Belgium. And is has now been writing for us regularly at antiwar.com. This one is called in Yemen. Western foreign policy is empowering al Qaeda. Thank you again very much for your time, Bas.
Bas Spliet 29:34
You will, anytime.
Scott Horton 29:36
Aren’t you guys and that has been anti war radio for this morning. I’m your host, Scott Horton on the author of the book fool’s errand time to end the war in Afghanistan and editorial director of anti war calm. The Scott Horton show, Antiwar Radio can be heard on kpfk 90.7 FM in LA, APSradio.com antiwar.com ScottHorton.org and libertarianinstitute.org
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