Using the extra-judicial liquidation of Anwar al-Awlaqi as a point of departure, Patrick Seale provides very useful and important survey of the strategic and grand strategic implications of the expanding U.S. conflict in what now might be called the Yemen Theater of Operations (YTO) in what is rapidly mutating into a U.S. Jihad against the Islamic world. The United States is now in involved militarily in wars encompassing at least six theaters of operations in the Islamic world, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia, with possible expansions into the Sahel and Nigeria, not to mention Iran and who knows where else.
Badalona, Catalunya (part of Spain according to some)
by Patrick Seale
Agence Global, 4 Oct 2011
On Friday, 30 September, Yemen announced that a Hellfire missile fired from a CIA-operated drone had killed Shaykh Anwar al-Awlaqi, in the north of the country. His grief-stricken father, once a minister of agriculture in a Yemeni government, went to the scene to collect and bury the pieces of what remained of Anwar’s body. It was the seventh U.S. strike in Yemen this year.
Anwar al-Awlaqi was a virulent critic of American foreign policy in the Arab world, and a passionate advocate of al-Qaida’s form of Islamic jihad. He was also a U.S. citizen, born in New Mexico, with an engineering degree from Colorado State University. His internet sermons, delivered in fluent English, had a devoted following, especially among young Muslims in the West.
His killing inevitably aroused a storm of controversy in the United States about its legality. In an article in The National Interest, Paul R. Pillar, a former senior CIA officer now a university professor, described it as “essentially a long-range execution without judge, jury or publicly presented evidence.” This is a subject which must be left to the Americans to debate.
What are its probable consequences? The most obvious is that it is likely further to inflame some Muslims against the United States, drawing fresh recruits into the jihadist struggle. “Why kill him in this brutal, ugly way?” a member of his Awalik tribe was quoted as saying. “Killing him will not solve the Americans’ problem with al-Qaida. It will just increase its strength and sympathy in this region.”
A key question, therefore, is whether al-Qaida — including its Yemen-based offshoot, “Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula” — is an organisation or a cause.