M J Akbar
Balloon Boy Sprecial
"Don't mess with America's emotions, America has the emotional instability of a hormonal teenager." - David Lane
“They are demanding unicorns in Kabul.” - Abdul Rashid Dostum
I had written the last few days about the situation in Yemen, thinking that the rebel Houthi clan was a small group radicalized by al Qaeda training, with fighters coming back from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Reading more background and history, I find that the Houthis comprise over one third of the population, and they used to rule Yemen with autocratic authority until 1962. Originally annointed by the British, they were installed to rule as an elite tribe, similar to how the Saudi royalty was formed and selected to rule. They were overthrown in 1962 when more Democratic reforms were created.
The current claim by the Houthis is that they are being persecuted and that they would like an autonomous area to rule, if they can't be in charge of the whole country. The current Yemeni government says damned right, they don't want the Houthis in charge anywhere in this small sliver of sand, and would be happy to eradicate them or have them immigrate to Iran. The Saudis feel they were tricked into guarding their border when the Houthis took over an area in Saudi Arabia and killed a soldier, all for sparking international attention and sympathy to the poor Houthi cause: "The Saudis have stated from day one that they are keen to protect their borders [and] that they are keen to create a buffer zone. These were all public announcements," Iran is happy at any disruption to Saudi power and influence in the region, as they consider them their major persecutors and obstacle in restoring Persian dominance. We have yet so see Hillary visit and speechify her opinions on the conflict... But the besieged Yemeni government is getting attacked from several fronts and it may not hold up, and Saudi Arabia has a definite interest in a strong, stable, non-hostile government from its neighbor: "Riyadh has become increasingly anxious about the stability of the government in Yemen, which is facing opposition from the Shia population in the north, separatist sentiment in the south and a growing threat from al-Qaeda fighters."
the biggest loser...
China forcibly took over Tibet and then made many Han families move to Tibet so they could say that it was a Chinese territory, and have been persecuting anyone who has allegiance to or even smiles at the Dalai Lama. I wonder if we would have the same attitude if we took over Mexico. After all, for years we have been sending many old people to retire there... maybe we could also annex any country where a large ex-pat community has blossomed.. Anyway, Obama will spend more time sucking up to China, because they are our largest lender and could bankrupt us at any moment, instead of hanging out over a beer or two as equals. We could ask the Chinese if it feels nice to rule the world once again...
The largest headline with the biggest impact has been Eric Holder's announcement of the trial set in New York for the 9/11 terrorists.
"How do you defend one of the most notorious terrorist figures in history?"There will be endless discussions on the choice for a civilian trial over a military tribunal, and if they can get a fair trial in New York, or anywhere in the US, for that matter. This could well be the trial of the century, more entertaining than the OJ trial, and the decisions will be far-reaching and set many precedents: "The Obama administration’s decision to try Mr. Mohammed and four other terrorism suspects in a civilian court provoked sharp debate among politicians and lawyers about whether American courtrooms are the proper place for so-called enemy combatants, whose suspected crimes were hatched overseas and who viewed themselves as participants in a war against the United States. Both sides agreed that defense lawyers and prosecutors would face unique problems in what is likely to be a hugely complex and emotion-laden case.
Whatever the case, if it actually makes its way before a jury, it promises to be a trial like no other in memory, an extraordinary clash involving the morality of torture, due process rights of foreign terrorist operatives, and the ability of civilian courts to handle national security cases." Symbolically, it will be a trial of the Bush administration and all of the decision they made, from getting information out of the suspects, including water-boarding a person 183 times for the fun of it, to keeping them for so long without any formal charges. It will be a mockery, with the acting up of the defiant defendants, and a passion play on religious extremism. It will make or break the careers of all of the lawyers involved, and finally, it will be heart-wrenching to hear again the tragedies of each 9/11 victim. I hope they don't limit it to just American victims, but include all of the international ones as well. If you don't have TIVO or a DVR recording device, you'll be able to buy the DVD's after the trial is over, dubbed in 35 different languages... If you thought the backlash against American Muslims was bad already, this will stir folks into a frenzy that will make the fake tea-party protests this Summer look tame. I really feel sorry, because so much of the drama will take place in the middle-schools and high schools, where so much of our parent's hate is demonstrated by the children...