Wednesday, January 6, 2010

CIA Incompetent in Afghanistan and Yemen, Russia Largest Arms Dealer to Yemen

Dana Milbank
Mark McKinnon
Marwan Bishara

"Tea is the new Kool-Aid for Republicans. And a lot of candidates and officeholders on the right are drinking from it like a fire hose" - Mark McKinnon
"If Dick Cheney were president today, we might already have invaded Iran to punish al-Qaeda for training the accused Nigerian bomber in Yemen." - Dana Milbank
"Barack Obama, the US president, would be well advised to remember the advice given to his predecessor by General Colin Powell: "If you break it Mr president, you will own it." - Marwan Bishara

yemeni cricket...
Marwan Bishara has a good opinion piece on Yemen and the problems that increased military support for its fragile government would bring, which I agree with: "By offering more military training, arms, naval patrolling, intelligence sharing and possibly shared offensive operations, the West might help prolong and sustain an autocratic regime that faces secessionist movements in the North and South.

Mostly, though, it will aggravate a fragile state of Yemen into a failing state." He also illustrates the fact that we have been sending in covert operations into Yemen for the last 10 years, and haven't affected the region at all.

That's one thing to keep in mind when reading about all of the beefed up CIA activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan: that most of these activites are useless in the long run. Up until 2001 we barely had any operatives in this region and in places like Iraq and Iran, so we had little intelligence information beyond what looking at satellite maps could tell us. Satellites can count the number of hairs on a gnat's ass, as my father liked to say. so that information was pretty good. The problem was always human, how you interpreted and put together information.

Because almost all of the dots connected concerning Saddam Hussein and Iraq turned out to be wrong, there was some hostility towards the intelligence groups by the Bush administration. Many senior analysts quit or took early retirements, and the folks who replaced them hadn't a clue about the countries they were going to be experts in, beyond what they had read in college. This is the core of our new CIA, and it's no wonder that they are hiring mercenaries like Blackwater to help them assassinate bad guys and heavily relying on using drones. And they must drop whatever they are doing if there is information that might lead them to Osama bin Laden or other top al Qaeda leadership, according to a Presidential directive from George Bush.

The latest report from the senior military intelligence operative in Afghanistan says that the best way to go about collecting intelligence is like the way that journalists do, and proposes that they hire a bunch of journalists who have lost their jobs from newspapers to go around to the outposts and collect their information, and bring it back to a central place to write clearly written reports. Guess those recent college grads have problems with their spelling and grammar, being practically illiterate... From al Arabiya: "The U.S. military's intelligence chief in Afghanistan sharply criticized the work of U.S. spy agencies there late on Monday, calling them ignorant and out of touch with the Afghan people as reports revealed that the suicide bomber who killed seven CIA officers at a U.S. base in Afghanistan last week was an al Qaeda double-agent from Jordan."

Unfortunately, the specter of incompetent intelligence analysts  that seem incapable of doing the jobs they've been hired to do may also be a lasting legacy from the eight years of Bush rule. Or it may be an indictment of the East Coast Ivy League colleges from where these folks are highly recruited. Or, it just may be an inherited part of the system, created by bureaucracy. After all, for many years the phrase "military intelligence" has been an oxymoron...

but back to yemen...

President Barack Obama recently announced that we are increasing military aid to Yemen, doubling the amount to $150 million. But this is less than 1% of the new arms that is being bought for them by Saudi Arabia: "According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), one of the world's best-known think-tanks researching arms control and disarmament, Russia accounted for nearly 59% of all major weapons deliveries to Yemen from 2004 to 2008, followed by Ukraine at 25%, Italy at 10%, Australia's 5%, and the United States at less than 1%.

Dr Paul Holtom, director of SIPRI's Arms Transfers Program, said Russian media have reported that Yemen has signed a deal to buy an estimated $1 billion worth of arms from Moscow (with some reports giving figures as high as $2.5 billion).

These weapons, he said, included additional MiG-29 combat aircraft, helicopters, tanks and armored vehicles. Holtom said there were also published reports suggesting these purchases were part of a proposed $4-billion military modernization program."
"Almost everything revolves around Russia".
So, even though the news media is focusing on the relationship between Yemen and the United States, countries like Russia and China have a vested interest in the escalation of hostilities. Its a bit like smoke and mirrors, you focus on the distraction being made in America over their crappy intelligence system and that Nigerian kid, while the real heavy duty arms come in from the other direction. And many of these arms dealers have no problem selling guns to both sides, after all, it's just business, the free market system... Those who can remember the olden days may actually ask the Houthis to take charge of the Yemeni government again, especially if they will pay homage to the Saudi princes, thus ending the problem of a fragile government and an insurrection in one swoop, even if it strikes images of British imperialism all over again...

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