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US Embassy in Yemen attacked, 16 dead

 
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rustyh



Joined: 17 Sep 2006
Posts: 489
Location: A Wonderful World

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:10 am    Post subject: US Embassy in Yemen attacked, 16 dead Reply with quote

Quote:
US embassy in Yemen attacked, 16 dead
22:45 AEST Wed Sep 17 2008

The US embassy in Sanaa has been hit by a car bombing.
By Hammoud Mounassar
Islamist militants attacked the US embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa with a car bomb and rockets, leaving 16 people dead, in the second strike on the high-security compound in six months.

The toll included six Yemeni soldiers, six attackers and four civilians, including an Indian, the interior ministry said.

Witnesses said gunmen raked a Yemeni police detachment outside the heavily fortified embassy compound before a suicide bomber blew up a car at the entrance, setting off what one described as a fireball.

A series of explosions followed as the compound came under rocket as well as small arms fire.

A group calling itself Islamic Jihad in Yemen said in a statement received by AFP that it carried out the attack and threatened similar strikes against the British, Saudi and United Arab Emirates missions in the Yemeni capital.

Briton Trev Mason told CNN from Sanaa that he heard at least three big explosions around the embassy from his nearby residential compound.

"We heard the sounds of a heavy gunbattle going on. I looked out of my window and we saw the first explosion going off, a massive fireball very close to the US embassy," he said.

"The gunbattle went on for a further 10 to 15 minutes followed by two further loud explosions," he said.

After a rocket attack on a residential compound used by US oilmen in April, the US State Department ordered the evacuation of non-essential diplomatic staff, but the order was lifted last month.

"We are very aware that there is a continuing threat here and that we are continuously reevaluating our security status and making sure we are doing the things we need to do make this embassy safe and ... the interests of our American citizens," US embassy spokesman Ryan Gliha told CNN.

In March, a schoolgirl and a policeman were killed and 19 people wounded in a hail of mortar fire that US diplomats said targeted the embassy.

"Embassy employees are not authorised to travel outside of Sanaa and have been advised to avoid hotels, restaurants, and tourist areas and to strictly limit their exposure in public places until further notice," said an embassy statement in April.

In recent years, militants have carried out a string of attacks in Yemen, the ancestral homeland of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and one of the poorest countries on the planet.

In October 2000, al-Qaeda attacked American warship the USS Cole off the southern port of Aden, using a small boat packed with explosives to blow a hole in the side of the vessel, killing 17 US sailors.

al-Qaeda's local wing which calls itself Jund Al-Yemen Brigades has also claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on Belgian and Spanish tourists in Yemen in the past two years.

A group calling itself Jihad, which is not connected to al-Qaeda, has carried out a series of attacks against the security forces and oil installations in the south of Yemen since 2003.

One of its leaders, Khaled Abdel Nabi, was captured after an exchange of fire with police in the town of Jaar last month. He had been on the run for five years.

Yemen is awash with weapons, with roughly three firearms for every citizen, and has become a major focus of the US "war against terror".

Last month, Yemeni security forces announced the arrest of 30 suspected al-Qaeda members, saying they had dismantled an extremist cell as part of a crackdown on the jihadist network in the eastern part of the country.

On August 12, the ministry of defence announced the death of a local chief and four others belonging to al-Qaeda after armed clashes that left two policemen dead.

A group calling itself Islamic Jihad in Yemen later claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened similar strikes against the British, Saudi and United Arab Emirates missions in the Yemeni capital.
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Jerry Fletcher



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 837
Location: Studio BS

PostPosted: Thu Sep 25, 2008 6:06 pm    Post subject: Yemen? Hmmm... Reply with quote

Nice one, Rusty - almost missed this story thanks to the saturation of 'economic armageddon ' coverage.

Yemen, eh?

All I think of when I hear 'Yemen' is the blown out hole in the belly of the USS Cole. I'm pretty sure that's the first time I ever heard of OBL or the idea that there were hordes of pissed off Islamic 'Jihadists' intent on blowing up American shit.

In fact, if it wasn't for the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, I probably wouldn't have had any idea who OBL was in 2001. I guess the Yemen thing was sort of the pre-game show for the war on terror.

What I don't remember is why US Warships were sitting like giant grey ducks off the coast of Yemen, but, eh, whatever... details....
Your article helpfully recaps the things about Yemen I need to know...

Quote:
In recent years, militants have carried out a string of attacks in Yemen, the ancestral homeland of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden and one of the poorest countries on the planet.

In October 2000, al-Qaeda attacked American warship the USS Cole off the southern port of Aden, using a small boat packed with explosives to blow a hole in the side of the vessel, killing 17 US sailors.

al-Qaeda's local wing which calls itself Jund Al-Yemen Brigades has also claimed responsibility for deadly attacks on Belgian and Spanish tourists in Yemen in the past two years.

A group calling itself Jihad, which is not connected to al-Qaeda, has carried out a series of attacks against the security forces and oil installations in the south of Yemen since 2003.

One of its leaders, Khaled Abdel Nabi, was captured after an exchange of fire with police in the town of Jaar last month. He had been on the run for five years.

Yemen is awash with weapons, with roughly three firearms for every citizen, and has become a major focus of the US "war against terror".


Well, that sounds like a lovely place, this Yemen. No wonder Belgian tourists flock to this dirt poor, violent country of three armed citizens - who needs Ibiza? What else is there to know? Let's see...
Quote:
Production History

Yemen has entered the area of oil in the summer of 1984 upon the Hunt Oil Company announced the first commercial discovery of oil in Yemen (Alif Field). The well Alif #1 produced an average of 8000 Barrel Per Day (BOPD). Oil was found in Block 18, Marib. Following that, oil explorations successive in the other fields. They reached more than 14 fields of oil and gas. Then the development of the block was done through building surface plants and constructing a pipeline to the Red Sea.

- In September 1986, the production and export of the first oil shipment was executed from block 18 under the guidance and reign of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the maker of Yemens new renaissance and oil revolution. another oil and gas explorations continued in other blocks.

- In 1987, it was announced that oil was discovered in three fields of Shabwah governorate by a (former) Russian company, Techno-Export. These were West Ayad, East Ayad and Amel fields (block 4). Developing of the block was done through building its plants and construction of pipelines to Belhaf Port on the Arab Sea.

- In 1991, significant oil discoveries were made on Sounah field Masila block (block 14) by Canadian Occidental Petroleum (now Canadian Nexen Petroleum). Such discoveries were followed by more findings. Then, the block was developed by building its plants and construction of the oil pipeline to Al-Dhabah (Ash Shihr) area, Hadhramout governorate, on the Arab Sea.

- In September 1996, oil was discovered in Halewah field Jannah block 5. (It was discovered by a consortium of companies operating in the block). Then plants were built and the produced oil was carried by the pipeline of Hunt Yemen Company, the (former) operator of block 18, Marib . Hunt pipeline delivered oil the port on the Red Sea.

- In 1998, Total E&P Yemen (Total Fina Alf) made a number of oil discoveries in the following fields: Kharir, Atouf, and Wadi Taribah, (East Shabwah block 10). Production was linked with Al-Masila block 14.

- On December 18, 1999, DNO, a Norwegian company as operator of Hwarim block 32, announced the discovery of oil. It started production and exporting oil through Al-Masila pipeline in November 2001.

- On December 20, 2001, announce the oil commercial discovery in E.Saar (Block 53) Dove Energy -British, It started production and exporting oil through Al-Masila pipeline in 2002.

- On October 14, 2003, Vintage, an American company and operator of Damis block S1, announce the oil commercial discovery, It started production and exporting oil through Jannah pipeline in March 29, 2005.

- On December 17, 2003, Nexen Petroleum Yemen Ltd., an Canadian company as operator of E. Al-Hajr block 51, announce the oil commercial discovery, It started production and exporting oil through Masila pipeline in November 9, 2005.

- In July 2005, oil production initiated from Block 43, which operator by DNO a Norwegian Company.

- On October 1, 2005, Calvally a Canadian company as operator of Malik block 9, announce the oil commercial discovery, It started production December 29, 2005.

In addition, in January, 2006, OMV, an Czech company as operator of Al-Uqlah block S2, announce the oil commercial discovery, It started production and exporting oil in 23 December, 2006.

This is Yemen with very humble potentials to serve the people and the homeland.
http://www.pepa.com.ye/Production%20Activities/production%20activities.htm


Hmm... so in addition to all that terrorist activity, it appears that oil companies from Texas have been selling us the oil they've been sucking out of Yemen for over 20 years.

Turns out that Hunt feller knows them Bush fellers purty well too... small world, huh? GHWB even 'inaugurated' the first refinery in Yemen! I'm sure there's no finer refinery inaugurator in the world...


Quote:
Operations in Yemen

Hunt discovered oil in Yemen in 1984, and opened a refinery at Maarib in 1986. The refinery was inaugurated by then Vice-President George H. W. Bush in April 1986.[12]

In November 2005, the government of Yemen attempted to nationalize the operation of the concession, which is known as Block 18. Hunt Oil responded by filing arbitration against the Yemeni government at the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris.[13]

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Hunt_Oil_Company



That was awfully nice of him to go all the way to Yemen like that. But it's not like Mr. Hunt didn't return the favor. In fact, Bushes n' Hunts have a history of doing favors for each other. Like, really big favors.

Quote:
Top-secret cronies

Bush has stacked his foreign advisory board with his Texas business pals, who stand to profit from access to CIA and military intelligence.
By Robert Bryce

No discussion of cronyism in the Bush administration would be complete without talking about PFIAB, short for the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. George W. Bush's latest appointments to the PFIAB, which advises the president on how various intelligence agencies are performing, represent a who's who of the Halliburton-Texas Rangers-oil business crony club that made Bush into a millionaire and helped propel him into the White House.
[...]
Created in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower, the PFIAB is designed -- according to the White House press release -- to give the president "objective, expert advice." In an ideal world, the PFIAB members would analyze the intelligence they get and give the president their unvarnished opinions about the relative merits of the different agencies and the work they are doing. PFIAB members are granted access to America's most secret secrets, known as SCI, for Sensitive Compartmented Information. Members of PFIAB have security clearances that are among the highest in the U.S. government. They have access to intelligence that is unavailable to most members of Congress. They are privy to intelligence from the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the military intelligence agencies and others.

Everything that members do as part of PFIAB is done in secrecy. None of the information that they discuss or view is available to the public. They are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. And unlike other public servants who work for the president, there is no public disclosure of the PFIAB members' financial interests.


In 1999, the PFIAB opened up slightly when it released a report about security at the Department of Energy's nuclear labs. That 1999 report is a prime example of how the PFIAB has -- and could in the future -- play an important role in helping the president deal with intelligence issues. That report bluntly assessed the DOE, saying that a "culture of arrogance -- both at DOE headquarters and the labs themselves -- conspired to create an espionage scandal waiting to happen." That report led to a major reorganization of the labs.

Despite the PFIAB's power, coverage of it by the news media is sparse. Bush's most recent PFIAB appointment was almost completely ignored. The only significant story by the national media on the PFIAB was a snarky item posted on Newsweek's Web site on Nov. 2, which said that after all the recent intelligence failures, "you might think the president would be wary about the appearance of cronyism."

To be fair, the PFIAB has long been stocked with people close to the president in office. Under Bill Clinton, the PFIAB had far more intelligence expertise than it does now. Clinton's PFIAB appointments included former Defense Secretary Les Aspin, former Speaker of the House Tom Foley, and a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. William Crowe. Clinton also appointed a pair of his big money contributors to the PFIAB: New York banker Stan Shuman and Texas real estate whiz Richard Bloch.

For Bush, it appears that campaign cash counts far more than expertise. And few backers have given Bush's campaigns more cash than Ray Hunt, son of the legendary Dallas billionaire bigamist oilman H.L. Hunt. PFIAB membership is a plum position for Hunt, who raised about $100,000 for Bush during the 2000 campaign and also served as the finance chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Nov 17, 2005 | Hunt's position at PFIAB may benefit a familiar entity in the Bush crony network: Halliburton, which is doing billions of dollars' worth of reconstruction and logistics work for the U.S. government in Iraq and on the Gulf Coast. Hunt sits on Halliburton's board of directors. He got his spot on the Halliburton board in 1998 while Dick Cheney was running the company. As soon as Hunt got on the Halliburton board, he was put on its compensation committee, where he helped determine Cheney's pay. Indeed, in 1998, Hunt's committee decided that Cheney deserved a bonus of $1.1 million and restricted stock awards of $1.5 million on top of his regular salary of $1.18 million.

Hunt has been on the PFIAB since 2001. Presumably, months ahead of everyone else, he had access to intelligence indicating that the Bush administration was going to invade Iraq -- information that could have been of value to certain oil service companies with operations in the Middle East
.
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/11/17/pfiab/print.html


So, it looks like what's good for Hunt is good for Haliburton and vice versa, since they both appear to dump oil profits into the same deep pockets.
I wonder what Mr. Bryce is getting at with that last suggestive last sentence, "could have been of value to certain oil service companies...?"

Quote:
Iraq Oil Deal Gets Everybody's Attention

By Michael A. Fletcher
Monday, September 24, 2007; Page A17

The oil deal signed between Hunt Oil and the government in Iraq's Kurdish region earlier this month has raised eyebrows, in no small part because it appears to undercut President Bush's hope that Iraq could draft national legislation to share revenue from the country's vast oil reserves. Making the deal more curious is that it was crafted by one of the administration's staunchest supporters, Ray Hunt.

Hunt, chief executive of the Dallas-based company, has been a major fundraiser and contributor to Bush's presidential campaigns. He also serves on the president's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, putting him close to the latest information developed by the nation's intelligence agencies.

If Hunt is signing regional oil deals in Iraq, critics ask, what does he know about the prospects for a long-stalled national oil law that others don't?

Since the deal was made public, it has drawn the ire of the Iraqi national government, which has called the agreement illegal.

"Any oil deal has no standing as far as the government of Iraq is concerned," Iraq's oil minister, Hussain al-Shahristani, told reporters earlier this month. "All these contracts have to be approved by the federal authority before they are legal. This [contract] was not presented for approval. It has no standing."

[...]

The deal signed by Hunt is a production-sharing contract for petroleum exploration in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. It is one of several the Kurds have signed with foreign oil companies in recent years and the first since they enacted a regional oil law last month. Kurdish officials have said that the deal would benefit all Iraqis through a revenue-sharing agreement.

Whatever people suspect, Bush says he did not know about the deal before it happened. But, he acknowledged, he has some concerns.

"Our embassy also expressed concern about it," Bush said. "I knew nothing about the deal. I need to know exactly how it happened. To the extent that it does undermine the ability for the government to come up with an oil-revenue-sharing plan that unifies the country, obviously I'm -- if it undermines that, I'm concerned."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/23/AR2007092300778.html


Uh huh. I'll bet he's 'concerned'. Concerned that he's gonna have to share some of the revenue with Iraqi citizens.

Because that whole invasion thing had nothing to do with oil, remember? It was all about, uh, oh yeah, the Butcher of Baghdad and terrible Weapons of Magical Disappearance. Oh yeah, and 'liberating' the Iraqi people from the evil regime, and giving them the freedom to starve to death in a true corporate democracy. It's all good.

But this post isn't about Iraq, anyway, it's about Yemen and those pesky Al-Queda masterminds who seem to start blowing things up every time one of Mr. Bush's buddies wants to 'share' some more oil revenue with another dirt poor Muslim country. I'm sure the government of Yemen is thrilled to be 'sharing' their oil revenues with Mr. Hunt, right?

Quote:
2 U.S. oil firms challenging Yemen
Companies seek arbitration over expropriated drilling site
By Eric O'Keefe
Published: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2005

NEW YORK: Two U.S. oil companies, taking an unusual tack, filed arbitration proceedings this week against the government of Yemen for expropriating an oil-producing area with output worth more than $1 billion a year.

A venture owned by Hunt Oil and Exxon Mobil sought arbitration before the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, a rare instance of oil companies taking action in an international forum against a sovereign country.

Last week, the Yemeni government said that a government-owned company would replace the American companies' venture, Yemen Exploration & Production Co., or YEPC, as the operator of the area, known as Block 18.

"Unfortunately, YEPC is now forced to respond to the Yemen government's failure to honor the sanctity of our legal contract by filing this arbitration," Ray Hunt, chief executive of Hunt Oil, said in a statement.

Sarah Tays, a spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil, said by telephone from Austin, Texas, that "Exxon Mobil supports the position of Hunt Oil as the operator of Block 18."

At the Yemeni Embassy in Washington, Mohammed al-Basha, a spokesman, was not available for comment Wednesday. But on the Yemen News Agency, Prime Minister Abdul Qadir ba Jamal said last week that the government company would run the block for the next 20 years.

The partnership and Yemen entered into a 20-year production-sharing agreement in 1982, Hunt Oil said. Two years later, the venture discovered the country's first oil reserves of commercial significance.

A five-year extension to the original agreement was signed in 2004, but the Yemeni Parliament rejected that agreement in April, according to Dow Jones news wires. Hunt Oil, though, contends that the agreement went into effect Nov. 15, the day that its venture was replaced.

"Since 2004, YEPC has invested millions of dollars at the direction of the Yemeni government," said Michael Goldberg, a partner in the Houston law firm of Baker Botts, which is representing the venture. "Up until Nov. 15, we fully expected that they would honor the contract. The government of Yemen had no right to take over this operation, and although we did not want to file an arbitration, they gave us no choice."

The Yemeni decision to replace the Hunt venture with a government-owned company may be linked to the recent surge in oil prices. With production averaging more than 75,000 barrels a day, revenue from Block 18 would total $1.6 billion a year at current prices.

"The present oil price climate can put tremendous political pressure on more populist governments with regard to foreign investors," said James Loftis, a partner at the firm of Vinson & Elkins in Houston. "We've seen that recently in Bolivia and Venezuela, among others, and it may be the reason in Yemen."

Loftis is also the U.S. delegate to the International Chamber of Commerce's Commission on Arbitration.

A decision on an award by the International Chamber of Commerce's tribunal is expected late next year or in 2007. The rise in arbitration cases by private companies against sovereign countries is a recent phenomenon, he said.

"For most of the modern period, it was rare for a private investor to seek arbitration directly with the state," Loftis said.

Although there are hundreds of cases in international arbitration, only a small portion of those are against sovereign countries, and a minuscule part involve oil, a commodity in the ground that a company cannot easily walk away from.


http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/11/24/business/yemen.php


Yeah, I'll bet it's hard to walk away from 1.5 Billion dollars a year, which is what Yemen's Block 18 Concession generates. Turns out, even with the firm of Baker-Botts representing their interests, it appears the oil boys are shit outta luck on this one.

Quote:
International arbitration body rejects lawsuit by Exxon and Hunt Cos. against Yemen

Tuesday, 12-August-2008
Almotamar Net - An arbitration body of the International Chamber of Commerce in London rejected on Monday a lawsuit filed by the Yemeni Company for Explorations and Production, owned by the American Exxon Mobil and Hunt companies against the Yemeni government regarding the alleged extension for five years of a production sharing agreement in oil block Safir after the agreement defined for 20 years. Almotamar.net - An arbitration body of the International Chamber of Commerce in London rejected on Monday a lawsuit filed by the Yemeni Company for Explorations and Production, owned by the American Exxon Mobil and Hunt companies against the Yemeni government regarding the alleged extension for five years of a production sharing agreement in oil block Safir after the agreement defined for 20 years.

The International Arbitration Body approved in its judgment issued Monday that the production sharing agreement concluded between the Yemeni Company for Exploration and production, owned by the American Exxon Mobil and Hunt, and Yemen expired practically on 14 November 2005.
The verdict stipulated rejection of the lawsuit on the alleged extension of the agreement for other five years after the end of the agreement period. The Yemeni government supported its commitment to the judgment of the International Chamber of commerce Court No. 122.

http://www.almotamar.net/en/5187.htm


I'm sure Ray wasn't too thrilled with that ruling. I guess he can't demand that the president send the US Military in there to 'arbritrate' with a few smart bombs and things. Well, I guess since they're buds, he could pick up the phone and try.

But, I guess if the US Military is already in Yemen, you know, uh, fighting terror and stuff, well... I mean we already know full well that...

Quote:
Yemen is awash with weapons, with roughly three firearms for every citizen, and has become a major focus of the US "war against terror".


And if we know, I'm sure Ray Hunt's gotta know, considering he's part of the super secret council on foreign intelligence and whatnot.

Yemen's San'a' government better not go 'soft on terror', or the people of Yemen might soon be enjoying a whirlwind 'Iraqi Liberation'. Should the San'a' government turn out to be a 'terrorist regime' requiring replacement, I'm sure the new government of Yemen won't be so fussy about nationalizing their petroleum resources. That appears to be the pattern, anyway.

And those nutty Islamic terrorists can't seem to get it right no matter what. Every time they 'attack' American interests seeking some sort of 'holy revenge', they end up enriching the very same corporate energy interests and Texas oil yahoos that they hold responsible for their rage. At this point, Islamic terror is simply providing the fuel for further US energy imperialism in the Middle East.

For all their craftiness at eluding US special forces for years, these masterminds don't seem to realize how counter productive their jihad is to their cause. I guess that's why they call it 'terror' - it's not supposed to make sense.

Well, unfortunately, I have a suspicious feeling that Yemen is indeed about to become a 'major focus' of the US war against terror. Thanks to the recent ruling by the International Chamber of Commerce, there may soon be some good ol Texas style liberatin' to do.
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Rumpl4skn



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PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 10:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The way I hoid it, Jerry.... is that the SS Cole had received specific warnings about the port of Yemen, but docked there anyway(s).

It's in a new song of mine. Commercial release imminent - providing anyone has any money left this year for (marginal) indie entertainment. Smile
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Jerry Fletcher



Joined: 21 Jan 2006
Posts: 837
Location: Studio BS

PostPosted: Fri Sep 26, 2008 6:04 pm    Post subject: Game on... Reply with quote

Rump wrote:
The way I hoid it, Jerry.... is that the SS Cole had received specific warnings about the port of Yemen, but docked there anyway(s).

It's in a new song of mine. Commercial release imminent - providing anyone has any money left this year for (marginal) indie entertainment.



First off, will you hurry up and become successful enough so we can simply steal your music like everybody else's? Paying for music is so, like last century, dude. The network is the new industry, haven't you heard? Gratitude is the new food. Just tell your landlord he's gotta get hip, cause Diggs are the new Dollars!

I however, will begin saving my withering FRN's for a copy, as I rely on marginal indie entertainment to keep me distracted from my overwhelming un-hipness. Case in point, here are more of my thoughts regarding Yemen... but good luck with the record!

Ok, a quick glance at the details of the Cole incident available on the internet suggest that this terrorist attack defies any sort of logical explanation, comprehendible logistics, clear motive, anticipated outcome, identifiable perps, or any substantial prosecution or convictions for the murders. Hmm. This seems to be another emerging pattern of Al Queda terror. Whatever - who cares who 'did it', right? We all know who was 'behind it'... might as well just bomb them, or at least people that know them...

As to what the Cole was doing there in the first place (other than a quick stop for gas, fritos, and and a snapple), I believe this explains the presence of US Military off the coast of Yemen. Apparently it's a strategic 'chokepoint' in the global petroleum flow.


Quote:
World Oil Transit Chokepoints
Bab el-Mandab

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. It is located between Yemen, Djibouti, and Eritrea, and connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. Exports from the Persian Gulf must pass through Bab el-Mandab before entering the Suez Canal. In 2006, an estimated 3.3 million bbl/d flowed through this waterway toward Europe, the United States, and Asia. The majority of traffic, around 2.1 million bbl/d, flows northbound through the Bab el-Mandab to the Suez/Sumed complex.

Bab el-Mandab is 18 miles wide at its narrowest point, making tanker traffic difficult and limited to two 2-mile-wide channels for inbound and outbound shipments. Closure of the Strait could keep tankers from the Persian Gulf from reaching the Suez Canal or Sumed Pipeline, diverting them around the southern tip of Africa. This would effectively engage spare tanker capacity, and add to transit time and cost.

The Strait of Bab el-Mandab could be bypassed through the East-West oil pipeline, which crosses Saudi Arabia with a 4.8 million bbl/d capacity. However, southbound oil traffic would still be blocked. In addition, closure of the Bab el-Mandab would block non-oil shipping from using the Suez Canal, except for limited trade within the Red Sea region.

Security remains a concern of foreign firms doing business in the region, after a French tanker was attacked off the coast of Yemen by terrorists in October 2002.








http://www.eia.doe.gov/cabs/World_Oil_Transit_Chokepoints/Bab_el-Mandab.html


The fact that the investigation of the incident was so surprisingly ineffectual is, at this point, not particularly unexpected, but this is certainly shocker - the purported Al Queda goons they did have in custody in Yemen have not received the penalty of death to which they were sentenced, because they've all either escaped or been set free!

This suggests one thing to me - Yemen is starting to look like another 'victim' in the GWOT. (Global War On Terror - fyi because I'm tired of typing it.)
Quote:
Probe of USS Cole Bombing Unravels
Plotters Freed in Yemen; U.S. Efforts Frustrated

By Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, May 4, 2008; A01

ADEN, Yemen -- Almost eight years after al-Qaeda nearly sank the USS Cole with an explosives-stuffed motorboat, killing 17 sailors, all the defendants convicted in the attack have escaped from prison or been freed by Yemeni officials.

Jamal al-Badawi, a Yemeni who helped organize the plot to bomb the Cole as it refueled in this Yemeni port on Oct. 12, 2000, has broken out of prison twice. He was recaptured both times, but then secretly released by the government last fall. Yemeni authorities jailed him again after receiving complaints from Washington. But U.S. officials have so little faith that he's still in his cell that they have demanded the right to perform random inspections.

Two suspects, described as the key organizers, were captured outside Yemen and are being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, beyond the jurisdiction of U.S. courts. Many details of their alleged involvement remain classified. It is unclear when -- or if -- they will be tried by the military.

The collapse of the Cole investigation offers a revealing case study of the U.S. government's failure to bring al-Qaeda operatives and their leaders to justice for some of the most devastating attacks on American targets over the past decade.

A week after the Cole bombing, President Bill Clinton vowed to hunt down the plotters and promised, "Justice will prevail." In March 2002, President Bush said his administration was cooperating with Yemen to prevent it from becoming "a haven for terrorists." He added: "Every terrorist must be made to live as an international fugitive with no place to settle or organize, no place to hide, no governments to hide behind and not even a safe place to sleep."

Since then, Yemen has refused to extradite Badawi and an accomplice to the United States, where they have been indicted on murder charges. Other Cole conspirators have been freed after short prison terms. At least two went on to commit suicide attacks in Iraq.

"After we worked day and night to bring justice to the victims and prove that these Qaeda operatives were responsible, we're back to square one," said Ali Soufan, a former FBI agent and a lead investigator into the bombing. "Do they have laws over there or not? It's really frustrating what's happening."

To this day, al-Qaeda trumpets the attack on the Cole as one of its greatest military victories. It remains an improbable story: how two suicide bombers smiled and waved to unsuspecting U.S. sailors in Aden's harbor as they pulled their tiny fishing boat alongside the $1 billion destroyer and blew a gaping hole in its side.

Despite the initial promises of accountability, only limited public inquiries took place in Washington, unlike the extensive investigations that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Basic questions remain about which individuals and countries played a role in the assault on the Cole.

Some officials acknowledged that pursuing the Cole investigation became less of a political priority with the passage of time. A new administration took power three months after the bombing. Then came Sept. 11.

"During the first part of the Bush administration, no one was willing to take ownership of this," said Roger W. Cressey, a former counterterrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations who helped oversee the White House's response to the Cole attack. "It didn't happen on their watch. It was the forgotten attack."

A Clash of Cultures and Wills

The day after the attack, a planeload of armed FBI agents arrived in Aden. But they quickly ran into resistance from Yemeni officials, who didn't like the idea of foreigners operating on their soil and telling them what to do.

The Cole bombing represented an enormous political embarrassment for Yemen, which had lobbied the U.S. Navy to use the port of Aden as a refueling stop. As the poorest country in the Arab world, Yemen was also unprepared for some of the FBI's demands.

"This is a country that didn't even have fingerprint powder, and now they're dealing with the most sophisticated law enforcement agency in the world," said Barbara K. Bodine, the U.S. ambassador to Yemen at the time. "DNA is a complete fantasy to them."

Bodine said the FBI was slow to trust Yemeni authorities, and kept the U.S. Embassy in the dark as well, hampering the probe. She described the Yemeni government as generally cooperative, but said some officials dug in their heels and "certainly didn't like us."

The FBI was "dealing with a bureaucracy and a culture they didn't understand," she said. "Yemen operates on a different timeline than we do. We had one group working on a New York minute, and another on a 4,000-year-old history."

The FBI and some White House officials, in turn, suspected Bodine was too sympathetic toward the Yemenis. The FBI special agent in charge, John O'Neill, was forced to return to New York after butting heads too many times with the ambassador.

Michael A. Sheehan, then the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator, said both sides were to blame.

"Basically, I was in the middle of this thing," he recalled. "I felt both sides were over the top -- the FBI in demanding complete autonomy in a foreign country and State in being too protective of the host country. And eventually it just turned into a clash of wills."

"Sometimes, when you deal with a host country, you can push too hard and it backfires and you get less cooperation," Sheehan added. "We needed to find a middle ground, and we had difficulty getting there."

Two in U.S. Custody

Amid the friction, U.S. and Yemeni investigators soon identified the ringleader of the attack as Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi national of Yemeni descent who served as al-Qaeda's operations chief in the Arabian Peninsula.

At the time, Yemeni authorities insisted that Nashiri had fled the country before the Cole bombing. But a senior Yemeni official said that was not the case and that Yemeni investigators had located Nashiri in Taizz, a city about 90 miles northwest of Aden, soon after the attack. The official said Nashiri spent several months in Taizz, where he received high-level protection from the government. "We knew where he was, but we could not arrest him," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared retaliation.

Nashiri eventually left Yemen to prepare other attacks on U.S. targets in the Persian Gulf, U.S. officials said. He was captured in the United Arab Emirates in November 2002 and handed over to the CIA. He was detained in the CIA's secret network of overseas prisons until he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in September 2006.

In a hearing at Guantanamo last year, Nashiri said he confessed to masterminding the Cole attack only because he had been tortured.

"From the time I was arrested five years ago, they have been torturing me," he said, according to a transcript. "I just said those things to make the people happy."

Another al-Qaeda leader, Tawfiq bin Attash, who also played an organizing role in the Sept. 11 hijackings, was arrested in Karachi, Pakistan, in May 2003 and confessed last year to overseeing the Cole plot. In a separate appearance before a Guantanamo tribunal, he said he had helped buy the explosives and the motorboat. He also said he had recruited operatives for the plot but was in Afghanistan at the time of the attack.

Bin Attash and Nashiri were both named unindicted co-conspirators in the Justice Department's investigation into the Cole attack. A decision was made not to indict them because pending criminal charges could have forced the CIA or the Pentagon to give up custody of the men, U.S. officials said in interviews.

A Special Deal

After a long trial, a Yemeni court condemned Badawi, the organizer, to death in 2004, although his sentence was reduced on appeal to 15 years in prison. Four other conspirators were given prison sentences ranging from five to 10 years.

The convicts were sent to a maximum security prison in Sanaa, the capital. They didn't stay there long.

On Feb. 3, 2006, prison officials announced that 23 al-Qaeda members, including most of the Cole defendants, had vanished. They escaped by digging a tunnel that snaked 300 feet to a nearby mosque.

It was Badawi's second successful jailbreak. Three years earlier, he had wormed out of another maximum security prison in Aden; Yemeni officials said he had picked a hole through the bathroom wall.

Badawi surrendered about 20 months after his second escape. But Yemeni authorities cut him a deal. They said they would let him remain free if he would help them search for the other al-Qaeda fugitives.

The arrangement was kept secret until Yemeni newspapers reported shortly afterward that Badawi had been spotted at his home in Aden.

U.S. officials said they were stunned. After his first escape, Badawi had been indicted in U.S. District Court in New York for the Cole killings, and the United States had posted a $5 million bounty for his capture. But U.S. officials couldn't get their hands on him. "This was someone who was implicated in the Cole bombing," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said at the time. "He needs to be in jail."

U.S. officials withheld $20 million in aid to Yemen and canceled a visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Yemeni officials said they quickly put Badawi back behind bars. But reports persist that his incarceration remains a day-to-day affair.

In December, a Yemeni newspaper reported that Badawi had again been seen roaming free in public. One source close to the Cole investigation said there is evidence that Badawi is allowed to come and go, despite the periodic requests by U.S. officials to inspect his prison cell.

Diplomatic relations soured further in February, when the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa learned that Fahd al-Quso, another Cole conspirator, had been secretly freed nine months before. Like Badawi, Quso faces U.S. charges in the Cole case and has a $5 million bounty on his head.

'Something . . . Doesn't Smell Right'

U.S. officials have renewed their demands that Badawi and Quso be extradited so they can stand trial in New York. FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III flew to Sanaa last month to deliver the message personally to Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemen has refused, citing a constitutional ban on extraditing its citizens.

"Unfortunately, we now have a stalemate," said Foreign Minister Abubaker al-Qirbi.

Qirbi said the dispute was a politically sensitive one, with many Yemenis opposed to helping the Bush administration. He defended the tactic of allowing the Cole plotters to go free in exchange for help in tracking down other terrorist suspects. "This is a normal practice," he said. "Everybody makes deals with anybody who cooperates, not just in Yemen, but in the United States."

Yemen's interior minister, Rashad al-Alimi, said the deal-cutting was necessary because al-Qaeda has rebuilt its networks in Yemen and is targeting the government.

"Our battle with al-Qaeda is a long one," he said. "It isn't our battle only. Our tragedy -- and what makes things worse -- is that al-Qaeda is united. And our coalition is divided, even though we have a common enemy."

Some Yemenis have questioned whether their government has other motives. One senior Yemeni official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Badawi and other al-Qaeda members have a long relationship with Yemen's intelligence agencies and were recruited in the past to target political opponents.

Khaled al-Anesi, an attorney for some of the Cole defendants, said Yemen had rushed to convict them. But he said he is still mystified by the government's subsequent handling of the case.

"There's something that doesn't smell right," he said. "It was all very strange. After these people were convicted in unfair trials, all of a sudden it was announced that they had escaped. And then the government announced they had surrendered, but we still don't know how they escaped or if they had help."

Hamoud al-Hitar, a former Supreme Court justice, said the trials were fair. But he suggested that the government had turned lenient because the Cole defendants had participated in a "dialogue and reconciliation program" designed to de-radicalize al-Qaeda members.

Hitar, who oversees the program, claimed that 98 percent of graduates have remained nonviolent. Asked about two Cole suspects who escaped and went to Iraq to become suicide bombers, Hitar shrugged. "Iraq was not part of the dialogue program," he said.

A Lawsuit and a Rebuff


Relatives of the 17 sailors who died on the Cole said they are furious at Yemen for releasing the plotters. But they expressed equal disdain for their own government.

The families have fought for years to obtain information from the State, Defense and Justice departments about their inquiries into the attack. "We never really got anyplace," said Andrew C. Hall, an attorney for the relatives.

With few other options, family members filed a civil lawsuit in 2004 against the government of Sudan, alleging that it had provided support for al-Qaeda over the years and therefore was also liable for the Cole attack. Last July, a federal judge in Norfolk, Va., ruled in their favor and ordered Sudan to pay $7.96 million in damages. (Yemen could not be sued because, unlike Sudan, it is not listed as a state sponsor of terrorism by the State Department.)

John P. Clodtfelter Jr. of Mechanicsville, Va., whose son Kenneth died on the Cole, said the families have tried to meet with Bush to press for more action.

"I was just flat told that he wouldn't meet with us," Clodtfelter said. "Before him, President Clinton promised we'd go out and get these people, and of course we never did. I'm sorry, but it's just like the lives of American servicemen aren't that important."

Staff researcher Robert E. Thomason in Washington contributed to this report.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/03/AR2008050302047_pf.html


Boy, that didn't take long... even as I was collecting my conspiratorial musings, apparently journalists were unleashing a flood of stories all pointing toward one inescapable conclusion - Yemen is fucked. Bend over and kiss Djibouti goodbye...
Quote:
Yemen: Qaedas new base
AFP
Wednesday, September 24, 2008 23:39 IST

Mountainous terrain, proximity to Saudi perfect for militants.

PARIS: After being set back by the increased US military presence in Iraq, Islamists are focussing on Yemen as a new territory for their operations, according to experts.

In recent months, Yemen has seen a series of attacks on security services and oil installations claimed by groups linked to Al-Qaeda, with two attacks on US targets in the past six months. On Sept 17, an attack on the US embassy in Sanaa left 18 dead, including an Islamist militant who claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to an editorial published in the daily Arab News, the attack in Sanaa shows that despite the governments efforts, militants, including those from Al-Qaeda, are still active in the country and can hit where they want.

Yemen is attractive to the Islamist militants for a variety of reasons, said Nabil al-Soufi, editor-in-chief of the website NewsYemen. For Al-Qaeda, Yemen provides a fertile environment with a lack of state control in the arid and mountainous regions of the country, where Al Qaeda can establish training camps, without anyone noticing, he said.

Yemens proximity to Saudi Arabia also plays a role, according to Dominique Thomas, an expert in radical Islam. If Yemen has become important for militants, its also due to ... the fierce repression that took place in Saudi Arabia from where many of the jihadists spilled over, said Thomas.

http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1193061


Quote:
Al-Qaeda finds new bastion in Yemen
AFP
Wednesday, September 24, 2008 3:10:10 PM Oman Time


PARIS: After being set back by the increased US military presence in Iraq, Islamists are focussing on Yemen as a new territory for their operations, according to experts.

In recent months Yemen has seen a series of attacks on security services and oil installations claimed by groups linked to Al-Qaeda, with two attacks on US targets in the past six months.

On September 17, an attack on the US embassy in Sanaa left 18 dead, including an Islamist militant who claimed responsibility for the attack.

Experts say the attacks represent both the resurgence and the resilience of Islamist terrorism which, in the years following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, appeared to have quietened.

In the vast and mountainous country with pockets beyond state control, Al-Qaeda followers under a renewed and younger leadership are seeking out the opportunity to create new cells. "...from September 2001 to November 2003, the Yemeni government did a very good job, along with US help, on splintering the leadership of Al-Qaeda," said Gregory Johnsen, a professor at Princeton University.

Until February 2006, there was very little Al-Qaeda activity in Yemen and "with the war in Iraq, many of the younger individuals who wanted to go off and fight were able to do that," said Johnsen.

That month, the escape of 23 Al-Qaeda members from a prison run by the Yemeni secret service unleashed trained Jihadists into the country.

"...they worked harder to re-establish the infrastructure of the organisation within Yemen, and they have been helped by some of the returnees from Iraq," said Johnsen.

According to an editorial published September 20 in the daily Arab News, the attack in Sanaa "shows that despite the government's efforts, militants, including those from Al-Qaeda, are still active in the country and can hit where they want".

Yemen is attractive to the Islamist militants for a variety of reasons, said Nabil al-Soufi, editor-in-chief of the website NewsYemen.

http://www.timesofoman.com/innercat.asp?cat=&detail=19413&rand=kl4LSra7kFBJGjUH78nDEnw2jn



Coincidentally, as Al Queda continues to 'blow up' in Yemen, the US Military is setting up shop a short tomahawk missle's lob away on the coast of Africa. 'Fighting terrorism' and 'protecting oil resources' have become synonyms in the Newspeak dictionary... at least that's a little more, uh, truthier than simply 'fighting terrorism'.

Quote:
US expands military presence in Africa

News, 23 September - While abandoning much of its Cold War-era bases in Europe and Asia, the US military is relocating to Africa and the Middle East to "fight terrorism" and "protect oil" resources. In Africa, US bases are to focus on Uganda, Djibouti, Senegal and So Tom and Prncipe, where flexible, small-scale "jumping off points" exist or are to be built.

The US Pentagon is in a period of major restructuring, in particular regarding American military bases abroad. While enormous bases in Germany and South Korea are abandoned or detracted, new and more flexible bases are constructed or planned all over the world, in particular in the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe.

The concept is creating strategically placed "jumping off points" with very few permanently stationed troops but with the infrastructure in place to rapidly launch major regional operations, according to a report published today by the US new agency Associated Press (AP). Bases are to cover all the world's regions where the US government is concerned over potential instability or terrorism, or simply wants to protect key resources such as oil.

The plans for Africa are more or less developed, according to AP. An existing base in Entebbe, Uganda, is covering East Africa and the Great Lakes region. President Yoweri Museveni has, since he came to power in Uganda in 1986, developed a major US ally in Africa, often celebrated as the first in a "new breed of African leaders" by Washington. The Entebbe airport is already one of the best developed US bases in Africa.

Djibouti has already turned into one of the most important US military bases throughout the world. Here, US forces monitoring assumed terrorist groups in the Middle East, Africa's Horn and East Africa are headquartered. Located only 50 kilometres south-west of the Arabian Peninsula, stable and pro-Western Djibouti is also a major US military safety net in the region as their presence becomes increasingly controversial on Arab soil.

Senegal is the latest focus point of the Pentagon in Africa. The US has achieved a wide range of concessions at a Dakar airfield, which already has been used as a landing point for several military operations in West Africa. These include the large-scale operation in Liberia, but also smaller missions as under the last coup attempt in neighbouring Mauritania. Under President Abdoulaye Wade, Senegal has made a major alliance shift from France towards the US.

According to the AP report, So Tom and Prncipe is likely to become the next US military base. The small archipelago - an upcoming oil producer - is strategically placed in the Gulf of Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa's major oil producing area. Here, the "US military could monitor the movement of oil tankers and protect oil platforms," the news agency quotes high ranking military officers.

Also the bases in Djibouti and Senegal are strategically place to protect US oil interests. Djibouti is located at the narrow Bab el Mandeb Strait at the entrance of the Red Sea, at the "world's busiest shipping lanes and close to Arabian oilfields," according to the CIA. Senegal, at the West African coast is strategically placed in a region with intensive oil explorations, which the US hopes may become a new major oil supplier within some years.

In North Africa, often considered "the backyard" of the European Union, US military presence is still more limited but is in many ways covered by NATO cooperations. The US however has developed a close military and intelligence cooperation with several North African countries, in particular Morocco and Egypt. Cooperation with Algeria and Tunisia is also improving.

In addition to this new strategic network of flexible bases, the Pentagon is known to have signed a large number of military pacts with governments all over Africa during the last years. These include oil producers such as Gabon and Mauritania, but also less significant resource owners such as Guinea Conakry and Rwanda. The US has indeed developed into the principal military partner of most African countries, displacing ex-colonial powers.
By staff writers

afrol News

http://www.afrol.com/articles/14269


Funny how not a single article mentions the fracas between Hunt Oil, Exxon, and the government of Yemen, or the tens of billions of dollars of revenue annually squeezed out of one of the 'poorest countries on Earth'.

I guess that kinda boring shit ain't considered news anywhere... except here.

Regardless, it looks like game on in Yemen.
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