Jasenovac – Holocaust promoted by Vatican

January 26, 2010

The UN General Assembly chose January 27 as the official day for the commemoration, as it was on this day in 1945 that Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz extermination camp, the last such camp still functioning. Throughout Europe, tributes will be paid to the 53 million people who died during World War II, of whom 31 million were civilians. Commemoration has linked usually also to International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was the largest extermination center created by the Nazis. It has become the symbol of the Holocaust and of wilful radical evil in our time. Few people know that 3rd biggest extermination center was Jasenovac. Two reasons maybe explain this: 1st it is located in Croatia and 2nd the main part of victims were Serbs. The death tolls in extermination centres vary but rough estimations are following (source Wikipedia):

  • Auschwitz II 1,400,000

  • Belzeg 600,000
  • Chelmno 320,000
  • Jasenovac 600,000
  • Majdanek 360,000
  • Maly Trostinets 65,000
  • Sobibor 250,000
  • Treblinka 870,000


Background

Upon the occupation of Yugoslavia, the German Nazis and the Italian Fascists formed an “independent” state in Croatia, which was basically a Nazi puppet state. Immediately upon the establishment of its puppet government, the Ustashe set up militias and gangs that slaughtered Serbs, Jews, Romas and their political foes. Catholic priests, some of them Franciscans, also participated in the acts of slaughter. The cruelty of the Ustashe was so great that even the commander of the German army in Yugoslavia complained. The partisans, led by the Croat Communist Josip Broz Tito, and the Chetniks – Nationalist Serb royalists – fought the Ustashe.


Under the leadership of the Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic’s right-hand man Andrija Artukovic, who earned the nickname “the Himmler of the Balkans,” the Ustashe set up concentration camps, most notably at Jasenovac. According to various estimates, about 100,000 people were murdered at the camp, among them tens of thousands of Jews (it is interesting to note that some of the heads of the Ustashe were married to Jewish women). Throughout Croatia about 700,000 people were murdered.

Jasenovac

Located in Croatia 62 miles south of Zagreb, Jasenovac was Croatia’s largest concentration and extermination camp. Jasenovac, was a network of several sub-camps, established in August 1941 and dissolved in April 1945. Jasenovac was not the only place where Serbia’s neighbour Croatia ran several concentration camps where Jews, Serbs and Roma have been murdered. Bosnian Muslims and Kosovo Albanians were allies of Hitler as well. (More about Jasenevac in my document library under headline Croatia )

In April 1945 the partisan army approached the camp. In an attempt to erase traces of the atrocities, the Ustaša blew up all the installations, killed most of the internees and tried to hide all evidence about brutalities in Jasenovac, all material evidence disappeared as if there had not been any camp in that place. Later – during Tito’s time – the state and the authorities tried to implement “Brotherhood and Unity” motto, with the aim of creating tolerance between the nations and the crime had to be forgotten as soon as possible.

Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, edited by Yisrael Gutman, vol. 1, 1995, pp. 739-740 gives following description about problems to find exact numbers:

It is difficult to establish the number of victims killed in the Jasenovac concentration camp, since many documents were destroyed. The prisoners’ files were destroyed twice (at the beginning of 1943 and in April, 1945) and even if they had been preserved, they would have been of little help discerning the truth, because the Ustasha often killed the newly arrived prisoners immediately, without putting their names into the files. This is particularly true of those who arrived from Slavonia, Srem and Kozara, because it was only noted down that 9,830, or 155 wagons had arrived. For instance, a very small number of Gypsies was filed, only a few hundred, while it is known that all 25,000-35,000 of them from the NDH were killed in Jasenovac. The Jewish community in Yugoslavia has established the number of 20,000 Jews that were killed in Jasenovac. The numbers of killed Serbs are truly varied. The sources from abroad mention numbers from 300,000 to 700,000. Be that as it may, most of the people killed in Jasenovac were Serbs. Exact number being still unknown, but it surely amounts to several hundreds of thousands. The National Committee of Croatia for the investigation of the crimes of the occupation forces and their collaborators stated in its report of November 15, 1945 that 500,000-600,000 people were killed at Jasenovac. ”

The Yad Vashem center claims that over 500,000 Serbs were killed in the NDH (now Croatia), including those who were killed at Jasenovac, where approximately 600,000 victims of all ethnicities were killed.

A documentary film “Jasenovac – the cruellest death camp of all times” can be found from here!


Religious aspect

While for Nazi-Germany Jasenovac was more a tool for ethnic cleansing for Ustashe religious aspect played crucial role. The aim and its implementation efficiency is described differently by people who actually were in Balkans during that period. Ustashe leaders declared they would slaughter a third of the Serb population in Croatia, deport a third and convert the remaining third from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. Anyone who refused to convert was murdered.


One may claim that the religious motivation and the brutality of butchers were leading principles in Jasenovac. The fact that 743 Roman Catholic priests were members of the Ustashi and personally murdered Serbs, Jews and Gypsies. Jasenovac was for a time, run by Fr. Filipovic-Majstorovic, a Catholic priest who admitted to killing “40,000 Serbs with his own hands.” So at one point, a Franciscan monk was camp commandant of what the second largest concentration camp of the war.

The Jasenovac system of Croatian camps also included a camp for children run by Catholic nuns who used toxic soda to save bullets.

Roman Catholic priests who participated in the killing of tens of thousands of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies and the running of Jasenovac escaped Europe through the “Vatican Ratline” run by Fr. Draganovich, a Croatian Catholic priest who helped morons like Clause Barbe escape from Europe. Those Catholic priests escaped to Argentina where they also escaped justice.


Vatican connection


In 1999 a class action law suit was filed at a court in San Franciso against the Vatican Bank (Institute for Religious Works) and against the Franciscan order, the Croatian Liberation Movement (the Ustashe), the National Bank of Switzerland and others to recover $100 million in damages for the Vatican’s participation in these war crimes and money laundering the proceeds from their Serb, Jewish and Roma victims. The suit was filed by Jewish, Ukrainian, Serb and Roma survivors, as well as relatives of victims and various organizations that together represent 300,000 World War II victims. The plaintiffs demanded accounting and restitution.

Franciscans in Rome helped smuggle the Ustasha Tresury and assisted Ustasha war criminals in escaping justice. The Vatican Bank is alleged to have laundered a portion of the Ustasha Treasury. The Vatican not only hoarded the gold the Croats looted, it also helped them escape – with a nod and wink from the OSS and MI6. In 1986 for example, the US government released documents that revealed the Vatican had organised the Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic’s safe-flight from Europe to Argentina, along with 200 senior officials of his regime. Pavelic was given refuge by the Vatican, fascist Spain, and Peronist Argentine. The Ustasha Minister of the Interior, Artukovic, lived openly in California from 1949-1986 when he was finally deported to Yugoslavia and convicted of murder. Thousands of Ustasha escaped justice for their crimes due to their wealth and influence and the backing of the Roman Catholic Church and who along with certain rogue elements in the US and UK governments portrayed these war criminals as anticommunist freedom fighters.

As the war ended, it is now known that the Vatican Bank and other world banks helped to launder and transfer funds out of the Reich, and helped many war criminals to escape justice in what is now nicknamed the “Vatican Ratline”


The Vatican Bank has claimed ignorance of any participation in Ustasha crimes or the disappearance of the Croatian Treasury. The Vatican has refused to open its wartime records despite requests from the US government, Jewish and Roma organizations. My main source about Vatican connection has been “Vatican Bank Claims

A class action law suit against the Vatican Bank to recover $100 million in damages for the Vatican’s participation in these war crimes and money laundering the proceeds from their Serb, Jewish and Roma victims is still ongoing. Vatican lawyers have three times tried to get this case thrown out of court. The Supreme court has rejected their claims.

In US District Court the case against the Vatican Bank (but not the Franciscan Order) was dismissed on grounds the Vatican Bank is an organ of a sovereign entity, the Vatican, which is immune from lawsuits. The just filed appeal however argues that the Vatican Bank is not sovereign and engages in commercial activity in the United States and therefore should be held accountable in a United States Federal Court.


Memory today

On Summer 2008 Israels ambassador to Croatia, Shmuel Meirom, harshly criticized the funeral given to a head of a WWII Jasenovac concentration camp in Zagreb, saying also that it insulted the memory of those killed in the camp run by Croatia’s Nazi-allied Ustasha regime.“I’m convinced that the majority of the Croatian people are shocked by the way the funeral of the Jasenovac commander and murderer, dressed in an Ustasha uniform, was conducted,” ambassador Meirom said in a written statement. “At the same time, I strongly condemn the inappropriate words of the priest who served at the funeral and said that Sakic was a model for all Croats” Meirom said. (More about this in my article “Nazi’s funeral shadows Croatias past” )

Yearly commemoration is important remainder for fair picture of history. At least one day per year is good to think what ultra nationalism can be at its worst level, what kind of interests, power game, attitudes and hidden motivations are creating possibilities for murdering civil populations or ethnic groups.




Croatia’s President gave a hint of attack to Bosnia

January 24, 2010

I wonder how many readers saw anything in western mainstream media related to informal statement of outgoing Croatian President Stjepan Mesic – published on 19.1.2010 – which he gave during informal meeting with journalists .

Here quote:

If Milorad Dodik (head of Republica Srpska, AR) scheduled a referendum for secession of Republika Srpska from Bosnia and if I were the president…I would send the army,” and would ‘break the Bosnian Serb region in half’.

The Serbian half of Bosnia is split in two and connected by a narrow corridor that runs along the River Sava on the border with Croatia. Militarily cut off the corridor in Bosnia’s Posavina region would split Republika Srpska in two.

It is quite sensational that the president of country

  • which joined Nato 2009 and
  • is soon to be an EU member-state aims to attack neighbour country and
  • split its province
  • due that he does not like possible democratic referendum.

Sure Bosnia-Herzegovina is a quasi-state, an artificial creation of Dayton agreement, which has been administrated nearly 15 years by international community. However this kind of threads are not good for any “European perspective” (More Bosnia background e.g. in article “Bosnia Collapsing?” )

President Mesic has his office still nearly one month. Promising is that the new president – Ivo Josipovic – is not so warmongering saying in VoA interview following:

Problems must always be solved through negotiations and with the agreement of all interested parties,”.

Hopefully Croatia’s President-elected will bring more stability to Balkans and hopefully he can keep his peaceful position under pressure of Croatian Nazism. (more about Croatian elections in “Croatians voted for Change” )

Milorad Dodik said in a statement.

This is a disturbing threat by a man who started his political career with a war and now wants to end it with a war … It is a classic call to war and it is dramatic because Mesic is still president of Croatia and supreme commander of its army,” he added, calling on international community and political leaders in the region to condemn the threats “by the false peacemaker.”

Mr Dodik plans to hold a referendum on Bosnian Serbs’ support for Dayton, which he claims is under threat from western-backed efforts to strengthen Bosnia’s federal powers at the expense of its ethnic “entities”, Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation. The referendum will taken place earliest mid-February.


Ukraine: Choosing a New Way

January 17, 2010

When we get Russian gas, the problem is not the supplier, but the fact that 80 percent of the pipeline is located in the Ukraine. We should look for independence not from Russia, but from such transit schemes,” (Gerhard Schroeder)

Just after 2004 Orange Revolution Ukraine took course towards Nato and EU, the new leadership had popular backing to fulfil fast forward hopes its policy. Instead of the fast forward progress scenarios the outcome has been a totally different crisis scenarios including possible confrontation between Ukraine and Russia in Crimea due the Black Sea Fleet, a new dispute over the supply of Russian natural gas to and via Ukraine, different ethnic tensions with minorities and of course declining economy with all social impact.

The dominant factor in Ukrainian political life has been the inability of political leaders – President Victor Yushchenko and his prime ministers – to work together to promote high-flown ideas. Now however the course is changing again in January elections. According different opinion polls President Yushchenko will lose the game already on first round and the winner of second round early February will probably have a pragmatic approach towards Russia and potential to implement more balanced policy. Ukraine is likely to pursue a more modest pace in developing its relations with NATO, a more measured tone on support for Georgia, and more moderate relations with Russia.

Ethnic tensions

Internally Ukraine has a big divide between the Russian friendly and ethnic Russian regions against the more westward looking regions. There is ethnic tensions also between central government and the (Trans-Carpathian) Rusins – an East Slavic people that is the indigenous population of the Carpathian Mountains; the Crimean Tatars and nowadays also with supporters of radical Islam. An of course there is some 9-17 million Russians in country total population of 46 million.

During Yushchenko’s presidency Ukraine has been eager towards Nato membership; same time there has been speculations what will the near future foresee after 2017 for the Russian fleet in Sevastopol? In the worst case the situation might even instigate or support an effort by Crimea to break away from Ukraine. The new president probably is ready to end these speculations.

It is also possible that despite results in election separatist movements are gaining more support and one compromise can be creation some kind of federation with strong minority rights which also can block Ukraine’s former western dreams.

From Subject to Object

From my viewpoint Ukraine has during last presidency lost its regional importance mostly due the geopolitical energy game. GUUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova) Group was founded 1999 with help of US to foster favourable conditions conducive to economic growth through development of an Europe-Caucasus-Asia transport corridor. GUUAM was dominated by Anglo-American oil interests, ultimately purports to exclude Russia from oil and gas deposits in the Caspian area, as well as isolating Moscow politically.

Now GUUAM is coming to end of its short road. Already earlier Uzbekistan withdraws from it leaving behind a stump GUAM. Then Georgia started its aggressions with false idea of western support leading today’s situation. Moldova was aiming towards Nato and EU but after conflict in Georgia it started to look other alternatives. Political attitudes of Azerbaijan and Russia have approached each other. Russia again took the initiative acting as a mediator between Armenia and Azerbaijan to solve long term conflict of Nagorno-Karabakh. The last piece of GUUAM is Ukraine and also this last fortress has degenerated to stagnation. More e.g. in article “Is GUUAM dead?

The adventure after Orange revolution in foreign policy issues finally lead to situation where Ukraine turned from a subject of politics into an object of (geo)politics.

Energy game

One of the real parts of Euro-Asian Oil Transportation Corridor is the Odessa-Brody oil pipeline from Ukraine to Poland for transportation oil from Caspian Sea region to Baltic Sea. However completed in 2001 up to Brody near the Polish border, that pipeline remained empty for three years. In 2004, Russian oil companies began to transfer oil from Brody to Odessa instead of original from East to West plan. However, Ukraine still looks to extend this pipeline so that it can carry Azerbaijani oil arriving from the Georgian port of Supsa to Odessa and then take it to the Polish refinery at Plock and potentially to the port of Gdansk. Some 500 kilometres of pipeline have to be built for that to happen. Meantime other players have been taken more and more Azerbaijan’s energy resources for other markets.

The latest gas dispute made it clear that Ukraine is not reliable transmitter of Russian gas to Europe. This boosted EU’s Nabucco –plan to new level. The same is true also with Russia’s South Stream pipe line. The both pipelines are bypassing Ukraine. When implemented – probably until 2015 – the new line(s) are invalidating the significance of Ukraine as transit route of energy. Turkey is taking this role as most important energy hub for Europe. More e.g. in article “The Nabucco-South Stream race intensifies”.

Declining economy

For a short-sighted and selfish political motivation (the weakening of Russia and its sphere of influence) of West has helped divide and devastate Ukraine. However the EU can’t afford Ukraine economically, geographically and politically, nevertheless in an attempt to weaken Russia EU attempted to lure it away form the Kremlin’s sphere of influence. The result has been economic catastrophe for Ukraine which has seen significant rises in its gas and oil bills along with other economic misfortunes.

The unsolved economic and social difficulties accompany the young state since its declaration of independence. The outbreak of the world economic crisis in 2007/08 with its financial and industrial breakdown accelerated and deepened these problems such as a general credit crunch, an enormous devaluation of the currency, a decline of production following the decline of steel-prices on the world-market and a remarkable reduction of foreign-trade which effects are reflecting from one side the integration of the country into the market economy and Ukraine’s peripheral position from the other side.

Despite the greatest media freedom Ukraine has position 155 in press freedom and is described as partly free in Freedom House survey. Threats, harassment, and attacks against the media continued as the country’s weak and politicized criminal justice system failed to protect journalists from regional politicians, businessmen, and criminal groups. Ukraine would definitely be an interesting case study in criminal justice degree courses.

One of the main tasks of the new political leadership is to provide a balanced position between Brussels and Moscow. This may be realistic when the EU same time is searching a possible “third way” between EU member- and non-membership with some innovative model of “privileged partnership” discussed especially with case of Turkey. The model – when first created – could be copied also with some other countries which now are in enlargement process or included in Eastern Partnership program like Ukraine.

Conclusions

Ukraine tried play important role in U.S. backed GUUAM to create East-West transport corridor for energy blocking Russia from Caspian Sea energy resources and isolating Moscow politaically. However Russia implemented its own initiatives making North-South energy corridors stronger and helping to transfer East-West corridor some hundreds of kilometres southwards. As a result GUUAM is nearly dead, both EU’s and Russia’s new pipelines are bypassing Ukraine, Turkey is coming the main energy hub to Europe.

I wait that during this election Ukraine will finally get rid off Mr. Yushchenko already in first round, which will be won by Mr. Yanukovich. However last round will bring victory to Mrs. Timoshenko and so the country will get both pragmatic and charismatic new leader.

The new president in Ukraine will probably have more pragmatic approach towards cooperation with Russia. Ukraine is likely to pursue a more modest pace in developing its relations with NATO, a more measured tone on support for Georgia, and more moderate relations with Russia. The outcome can very well be easing tensions not only in energy policy but with ethnic and military fields too.



Croatians voted for Change

January 14, 2010

The last election in Croatia can bring a refreshing change with new President Ivo Josipovic – a university law professor and a composer of classical music – but he will find a much tougher struggle ahead of him. This struggle not only due economical problems (national debt and unemployment) but also problems related to Croatia’s past. These problems are highlighted when Croatia is on final round to come next EU member state.

President elected Mr Josipovic took already new direction towards Croatia’s neighbour Serbia. Croatia and Serbia have filled genocide lawsuits against each other in international court about events during the war of the 1990s. Mr Josipovic told that he is ready to find common solution by direct negotiations with Serbs without trial. “I will negotiate with Belgrade about the missing persons, war crimes trials and the return of cultural treasures. If they accept these conditions there is no reason to proceed with the genocide suit,“ said new Croatian president. (More in my articleCroatia’s and Serbia’s ‘Genocide’ Case to Proceed”)


Historical burdens

However, in Croatia’s accession process, one trial still is left related to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). ICTY wants access to important documents on the use of artillery by Croatian forces during the Balkan war in the 1990s. These are needed in relation with the trial of general Ante Gotovina, indicted by ICTY for war crimes while expelling Krajna Serbs from Croatia in 1995 under the “Operation Storm”. This ethnic cleansing caused innocent victims, and caused around 200,000 Serbs to flee the former Yugoslav republic at the end of the 1991-1995 war. (More about topic in my article “Operation Storm – Forgotten Pogrom”)


Between 1991 and 1995, 220,000 ethnic Croats and subsequently up to 300,000 ethnic Serbs were displaced by armed conflict in Croatia. Since then almost all the Croat IDPs have returned to their homes, while most of the Serbs displaced have resettled in Serbia or in the majority-Serb Danube region of Croatia. Since the end of the conflict, only one third of Croatian Serb IDPs and refugees have been able to return. (More e.g. in article “Forgotten refugees – West-Balkans”)


Croatia & EU-membership

The fact Greece exists in the EU means that we do not have to do anything else in terms of judicial reform, and the fact that certain Baltic states are members means that we have nothing to do in the realm of minority policies. (President of the Croatian Helsinki Committee Žarko Puhovski)

Croatia is suffering due the massive political corruption. During early years of independency Croatia has been transforming itself into a mafia state; ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) have presided over a creeping authoritarian kleptocracy, bribery, kickbacks and cronyism are ubiquitous. Last European Commission progress report of Croatia highlighted the need need to pursue its reform efforts, in particular on the judiciary and public administration, the fight against and organised crime, and minority rights. (EC Croatia 2009 progress report can be found from my Document library)

Government has been also cracking down on the independent media. The regime controls state television and radio, suppressing dissent – especially, any investigations into high-level HDZ corruption – and also recently some journalists have been killed and physically assaulted.


Ironically the Croatian population is not any more so interested about EU, according Gallups mentioned earlier among the Western Balkan countries, Croatia shows the lowest percentage of people convinced that EU accession would be good for their country (29%) the largest group of people in the country (38%) felt that EU membership would neither be good nor bad. The amount of EU Scepticism in Croatia is big despite or because Croatians feel most sufficiently informed about EU in Western Balkans. (Source: “Gallup Balkan Monitor-Focus on EU Perceptions”)


Only 39% thought that a majority supports EU accession, while 45% thought that most Croats are opposed to entering the EU. Opinions about this issue are unevenly distributed: support for the EU is higher among the urban population (35%) and people with a university education (51%).


Differences can also be observed between the different regions of Croatia: support for the EU is highest in the urban region around Zagreb (Zagrebacka Regija, 36%), while rather rural areas such as Istocna Regija and Središnja Hrvatska have rather low support with, respectively, 21% and 22%.


Nationalism

One concern related to Croatia’s joining to the EU could be Croats’ strong identification with their own country: 65% of interviewees (Gallup mentioned earlier) identified very or extremely strongly with Croatia; this was one of the highest percentages in the region. This might indicate that, 17 years after independence, residents in Croatia are still more interested in establishing their national identity than in looking towards Europe.

One very alarming trend is (over)emphasizing Croatia’s Nazi past. During WWII Croatia was created and supported by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. It thus adopted their racial and political doctrines as well practices. Jasenovac was Croatia’s largest concentration and extermination camp. From total 600,000 murdered ones some 25,000 were Gypsies, some 25,000 Jews and over half a million Serbs. From time to time some symptoms of this past are occurring also today ad even with support of government (More e.g. in my article “Nazi’s funeral shadows Croatians past )


One aspect influencing Croatian patriotic feelings is the situation of Croats in neighbouring Bosnia-Herzegovina. Some time ago a Croatian NGO Libertas made public statement in which it says that Croatians in Bosnia are victims of Bosnian Muslim terror and are asking Bosnian Croat political leadership to initiate a plan that will break up the Bosnian Federation entity and form a Croatian one. Do possible three entities (each of them with Bosniak, Croat or Serb majority) of have any reason to hang together in same state or are more alluring prospects other side of the borders?


Bottom line


I believe that Croatia’s road to EU came with elections easier than before e.g. because

  • Josipovic declared that the struggle for justice and against corruption would be his absolute priority;
  • As clean person Josipovic has good credibility with his anti-corruption struggle unlike his opponent had;
  • With landslide victory the voters made a clear choice so appreciating the values and program of new president;
  • New president has already showed his readiness to ease (ethnic) tensions with neighboring Serbia and the same will probably happen also with Bosnia-Herzegovina (his opponent hinted support to create and possible separate Croat dominated region from BiH); the border dispute with Slovenia is already solved;
  • Economical cooperation with Serbia will probably develop e.g. when Croatia is taking more active role with implementation of South Stream gas pipeline project.

The country is expected to complete its accession negotiations in 2010 and join in 2012. With new president this is very realistic.



Is Yemen the next target for the War on Terror?

January 7, 2010

Somebody in our government said to me in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act pre-emptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.” (Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.)

On December 25 US authorities arrested a Nigerian named Abdulmutallab aboard a Northwest Airlines flight from to on charges of having tried to blow up the plane with smuggled explosives. He was “suspected” of having been trained in for his terror mission in Yemen. A new target for the “War on Terror” has been found. Is it really so that a guy who burnt his trousers with some powder hidden there has so big influence to geopolitics – I have some doubts. More than from trousers of this desperate Nigerian wannabe terrorist the hidden agenda may be found again from great energy game and from interests of military-industrial complex.

Yemen has a population 23.8 million is located at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula , bordered by Saudi Arabia to the north, Oman to the east, Red Sea to the west and Gulf of Aden to the south. It is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world. Per capita GDP estimated at $2,500; 45% live below the poverty line, and 35% are unemployed. The Republic of Yemen was created in 1990 when North and South Yemen united. President is Ali Abdallah Saleh became the first elected President in reunified Yemen in 1999 (though he had been President of unified Yemen since 1990 and President of North Yemen since 1978). 53% of the Muslim population is Sunni and 47% is Shi’a. Among Yemen’s natural and cultural attractions are four World Heritage sites.


The fight now

Yemen’s southern provinces have recently been the scene of US air strikes which Washington claims to be aimed at uprooting an al-Qaeda cell operative in the Persian Gulf state. But the residents of the area dismiss the claims that al-Qaeda members are being targeted in the US-sponsored air strikes, while Yemen’s government says the strike targeted militants and their relatives.

The Yemen-based group, which claims to be affiliated with Osama bin Laden’s organisation, had earlier claimed responsibility for the failed attack and called for strikes on embassies in Yemen.

The US operation in southern Yemen comes on top of a joint Saudi-Yemeni military campaign in the country’s war-weary north where Sana’a and Riyadh forces are engaged in a fierce fighting against the Houthi fighters. The Houthis, who accuse the Sunni-dominated Sana’a government of discrimination and repression against Yemen’s Shia minority, were the target of the army’s off and on attacks before the central government launched an all-out fighting against them in early August. Saudi Arabia joined the operation later following alleged clashes between its border guards and the Houthis, carrying out regular air strikes and ground incursions against the fighters.

One presumption is that US has gave the Saudis a green light to militarily intervene in Yemen to defend the Sunnis against Shias. It remains to see if this outsourcing of US foreign policy to the Saudis is enough or will escalation occur.

The Oil

The actual reason for planned U.S. involvement can be the fact that the U.S.-backed dictator, Yemen’s President Saleh, increasingly is losing control after two decades as despotic ruler of the unified Yemen. Economic conditions in the country took a drastic downward slide in 2008 when world oil prices collapsed. Some 70% of the state revenues derive from Yemen’s oil sales. The central government of Saleh sits in former North Yemen in Sana’a, while the oil is in former South Yemen. Yet Saleh controls the oil revenue flows. Lack of oil revenue has made Saleh’s usual option of buying off opposition groups all but impossible. The government has little control outside the capital, leaving a power vacuum in large swaths of the mountainous, impoverished nations.

For U.S. Yemen is important for two energy related issues: one is Yemen’s geopolitical location as one of the world’s most important oil transport routes and the other is undeveloped – some say one of the world’s largest – petroleum reserves in the territory.

The U.S. Government Energy Information Agency states that “closure of the Bab el-Mandab could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal/Sumed pipeline complex, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa. The Strait of Bab el-Mandab is a chokepoint between the horn of Africa and the Middle East, and a strategic link between the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean.”


Important World Oil Transit Chokepoints

In addition to its geopolitical position as a major global oil transit chokepoint, Yemen is reported to hold some of the world’s greatest untapped oil reserves. Yemen’s Masila Basin and Shabwa Basin are reported by international oil companies to contain “world class discoveries.”

The US military-industrial-complex

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” (Dwight Eisenhower)


The same forces that steered the Bush Administration still seem alive and well today. The Military-Industrial-Complex (MIC) has its decisive say in U.S. foreign policy. Why so? The explanation can be found from picture above describing spending in U.S. federal budget.

The military industry is a dominant player in the US economy. Military orders drive America’s manufacturing sector. More than one-third of all engineers and scientists in the US are engaged in military-related jobs. Several sections of the country and a number of industrial sectors, particularly shipbuilding and aerospace, are greatly dependent upon military spending or foreign arms sales. The Department of Defense (DoD), together with the top defense corporations – or what is known as the “military-industrial complex” – controls the largest coordinated bloc of industry in the US. Roughly 75% of federal research and development expenditure is devoted to military projects.

While military contractors are looking for new markets, the Pentagon is seeking a new mission. Pentagon and U.S. intelligence are moving to militarize a strategic chokepoint for the world’s oil flows, Bab el-Mandab. The Somalia piracy incident, together with claims of a new Al Qaeda threat arising from Yemen, are serving as good excuse to this campaign.


Citing an unnamed former top CIA official, the New York Times wrote that a year ago the Central Intelligence Agency sent many field operatives with counterterrorism experience to the country. At the same time, some of the most secretive special operations commandos have begun training Yemeni security forces in counter-terrorism tactics, the report said. The Pentagon will be spending more than 70 million dollars over the next 18 months, and using teams of special forces, to train and equip Yemeni military, Interior Ministry and coast guard forces, more than doubling previous military aid levels, the paper noted.


Without doubt, the military-industrial complex has a stake in expanding areas to be exploited for oil as well as protecting U.S. oil sources. This is good news to the weapons industry. While many sectors in the US are suffering from the economic crunch, top weapons manufacturers are awaiting new orders, hiring new people, looking for new investments and gaining attention on the stock market. Political connections are also helpful in ensuring business and creating new markets. This connection helped influence overthrows of several foreign governments perceived as unfriendly to American business. It also allowed the companies to be at the right place at the right time to take advantage of new business opportunities with puppet regimes.


Military Industrial Complex is much more than only developing, producing and marketing weapons. One part is hired guns – private armies – like DynCorp and Xe (formerly Blackwater USA) costing tens of billions of dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Lack of oversight so scandalous that rampant waste, fraud, and abuse plus war crimes go unmonitored. While U.S. troops are implementing COIN strategy in Afghanistan these companies like the infamous Blackwater, now called Xe, are at work for the CIA, which is spearheading the covert Pakistan war, and this all costs money, big money. Fortunately, the agency still has the opium crop to cover the shortfalls in budget or cash.


War vs. Solution

Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi warned that the United States

should learn from its experiences in Pakistan and Afganistan and not repeat the mistakes in Yemen, both in dealing with the government of Yemen and confronting al-Qaeda. The United States and other Western powers need to provide long-term economic development to reduce poverty and raise educational standards, which can help combat terrorism in a more effective fashion than just using military force.

Recently in his interview to Al Jazeera al-Qirbi stated that

Yemen is going to deal with terrorism in its own way, out of its own interests and therefore I don’t think it will counterfire, … The negative impact on Yemen is if there is direct intervention of the US and this is not the case.

One task is to prevent exaggeration of problem. The “war on terror” can be used as Yemen’s internal policy instrument when the President tries to transfer his power to his son by stamping the opposition as supporters of al Qaeda. In overall Yemen’s fragile government is in a delicate balancing act between its allegiance to the United States and tribal, political and religious forces that resent U.S. interference in Yemen and sympathize with al-Qaeda’s ideology.

From my point of view this the core question which often seems to be forgotten while U.S.MIC tries to secure its quarterly bonuses. I hope that at least EU understands that for solution one needs to take account sociological, religious, tribal and political aspects.

U.S. Coin strategy in Afghanistan tries to be more comprehensive than pure military attack, but it also can fail if presumptions are false – or moderated to get political acceptance. More about this in my article “Will Coin work in Afghanistan?


Sure also civil crisis management operation can fail like it has been case in Balkans Some examples in my articles “Bosnia collapsing?” and “Kosovo update” . However this failure probably does not cost so many lives than failed or even successful military operation.


With these kind of economical interests it is easy to understand that a guy with burning trousers serves only as part of marketing plan to gain public acceptance. The planning of war started much earlier and probably MIC has already started planning of next invasion options after Yemen.



Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 144 other followers

%d bloggers like this: