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US in Quandary over Yemen Crisis

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TEHRAN, April 4 (ICANA) – Yemen continues to struggle with a standstill amid a massive public uprising seeking crucial economic and political reforms.
Monday, April 04, 2011 1:21:58 PM
US in Quandary over Yemen Crisis

Violence by forces of Yemen's embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh has increased on the back of US encouragement in its focus on protecting Saudi Arabia stability.

In an interview with Press TV, Michael Malouf, former Pentagon official in Washington, identifies one common objective that underpins the bankrupt US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Q: In regard to the situation that is occurring in Yemen in comparison with other countries in the region in the process of uprisings, it exposes a double standard or hypocrisy from the West. How likely is it that this will backfire on Washington? We see various western countries acting one way toward Yemen, another way toward Libya and another way toward Bahrain.

Michael Malouf: I think the US is really in a quandary and I think it's because of the lack of leadership from Washington that Saleh of Yemen continues to hold on. He's been encouraged for some time now from Washington to hang in there whereas the opposition has been forming, they want to set up a national transitional council; they want to have a special commission to set up reforms.

Even though the younger demonstrators want Saleh removed immediately, the opposition as a whole is trying to form something that is very much along the lines of what Egypt has done. The US is in a very serious quandary from this standpoint and that has to do with Saudi Arabia.

From a geopolitical standpoint, what is happening in Yemen and in Bahrain has really upset the strategic balance vis-à-vis the US standpoint in basically trying to protect Saudi Arabia.

And the Saudis are very concerned, they've sent in troops to Yemen and also Bahrain. So the US gives Saleh encouragement on the one hand, but in doing that it emboldens him and as a consequence it's leaving the opposition with no following or backing from the West with the US, which has other equities involved here like going after al-Qaeda and dealing with terrorism. It's a real mess for Washington and they don't have an answer.

I think if Washington starts showing some leadership and backs the opposition and lets the demonstrators know that not only Washington but the West support their efforts, it's going to pan out in the long term and I think it's going to help the US.

The US has done everything wrong in the Middle East from Egypt to Libya to Bahrain; they're supporting the monarchy in Bahrain to the detriment of the majority of the Shia population in that country. Washington's influence in the Middle East has fundamentally evaporated as a consequence of the way they're demonstrating their activities right now.

It's a serious problem for the US in trying to protect Saudi Arabia, I think that is what Yemen is all about and why the US is continuing to support Saleh at this point.

Q: There is call to the American people to hold their representatives responsible for what they are doing in the Middle East and Africa, but in the US itself this is being avoided. Do you see any connection with protests in America that started in Wisconsin where more and more people are taking to the streets regarding hypocritical policy that is being attempted inside the US? In other words, policy that professes to support the people with individual rights and happiness, but at the same time is chipping away at the individual rights the average US citizen.

Michael Malouf: The average American knows and understands when you take away their bargaining rights at the local level. But the American people are not aware of -- or fail to understand -- international affairs because they are so focused internally. And what's happening now in the Middle East is something that they are so confused about that they don't really take a position. They are following what the US leadership is saying, which is governed by the Israelis. The US Congress is guided by the Israeli lobby.

I think what is worse is not Saudi Arabia and the focus on oil, but US policy from a geopolitical standpoint and a strategic standpoint in its support for the Arab countries against Iran.

We should have been talking to Iran a long long time ago, and we're not doing that still. And as a consequence, we're continuing to back a bankrupt policy because now the Arab countries in the Persian Gulf, that is the GCC countries, are thinking about cutting off diplomatic relations with Iran and this is just mindless when you think about it.

So the whole policy of the US is coming unraveled because the underpinnings of it has been in support of the Arab countries, in support of the Sunni majority of Saudi Arabia not only because of oil, but because the US views as its nemesis Iran. And they will do anything they can to go after and support countries that oppose Iran.

Iran to them is threatening because of the influence it has in Lebanon; the US is totally out of the picture when it comes to dealing with the internal politics of Lebanon. And as a consequence we're seeing this spread all throughout the Middle East and it reflects a geopolitical problem that's based on a policy [of] years ago, which is now bankrupt and as a consequence US influence has evaporated.

The American people don't even begin to understand the complexities of what's going on in the Middle East. They do follow the leadership from the Congress, which is basically orchestrated from the Israeli lobby.

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