day 6: yemen, libya, and mexico
by New York Times:
It was Jan. 31, just a few weeks after a young Nigerian trained and equipped in Yemen had tried to blow up an airliner as it approached Detroit. The wave of attention to Al Qaeda’s Yemen branch and its American-born propagandist, Anwar al-Awlaki, might not do much for tourism, but paradoxically it did give the Yemeni leader more influence.
The cables do not substantially alter the public picture of Mr. Saleh (pronounced SAH-leh), 68, a former military officer who has led Yemen for three decades. But with direct quotations from private meetings, the cables are like crisp color photographs of what was previously in fuzzy black and white.
Yemen, long an arid, impoverished afterthought for the United States, now draws high-level American attention far out of proportion to its size. In October, militants in Yemen sent off printer cartridges packed with explosives to Chicago addresses. The bombs were intercepted, but the plot set off a furor and prompted the latest in a series of phone calls between President Obama and his Yemeni counterpart about counterterrorism and aid.
When the first two American missile strikes against Qaeda camps in Yemen took place in December 2009, Mr. Saleh publicly claimed that they were Yemeni strikes to avert any anti-American backlash. Gen. David H. Petraeus flew to Yemen to thank the president, who promised to keep up the ruse. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” Mr. Saleh said, according to a cable.
A deputy prime minister, Rashad al-Alimi, had already assured the Americans that “U.S. munitions found at the sites” of strikes “could be explained away as equipment purchased from the U.S.”
Moreover, Mr. Alimi implied that Yemeni officials accepted as inevitable that the missiles had killed civilians along with militants. They were Bedouin families — “poor people selling food and supplies to the terrorists” and thus “acting in collusion with the terrorists and benefiting financially,” he said.
Yemen had become a magnet for would-be jihadists from around the globe, and a January cable listed 23 Australian citizens and residents to be added to terrorism watch lists because of activities in Yemen or connections to Mr. Awlaki, the radical cleric hiding there. Many of the Australians were women, and Qaeda operatives in Yemen were seeking “to identify a female for a future attack,” the cable said.
The cables report on American and Yemeni attempts to track down and destroy stocks of the shoulder-fired missiles known as “manpads,” for man-portable air-defense systems. Their lethality against aircraft make them a major counterterrorism concern.
Yemen’s Defense Ministry insisted that it had no stocks of such missiles, but Yemen’s National Security Bureau — a newer agency that works closely with the United States — told the Americans that the Defense Ministry “does indeed have MANPADS, but would never speak of them because they are considered a state secret.”
A close ally in the counterterrorism efforts, the cables make clear, is Prince Muhammad bin Nayef, the deputy interior minister in neighboring Saudi Arabia, who in October tipped off American officials about the parcel bomb plot. Shortly after the attempted bombing of the airliner bound for Detroit, Prince Nayef told Gen. James L. Jones, then President Obama’s national security adviser, that the only way to combat Al Qaeda in Yemen was to “keep them on the run” and that Yemeni and American strikes on Al Qaeda were proving effective.
by New York Times:
A small stockpile of spent nuclear fuel destined for disposal in Russia remained behind in a lightly guarded research center, apparently because of a fit of pique by Libya’s mercurial leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. In a frantic cable back to Washington, American officials in Tripoli warned of dire consequences unless the carefully brokered deal to remove the 5.2 kilograms (11.4 pounds) of highly enriched uranium stored in seven five-ton casks was quickly resurrected.
If the enriched uranium “is not removed from the casks within three months, its rising temperature could cause the casks to crack and to release radioactive nuclear material,” the American Embassy in Tripoli reported, according to cables made public by WikiLeaks. “Security concerns alone dictate that we must employ all of our resources to find a timely solution to this problem, and to keep any mention of it out of the press.”
The seeds of what appeared to be the demise of the secret deal were planted weeks earlier in New York, when Colonel Qaddafi expressed unhappiness that he was not permitted to set up his tent in Manhattan or to visit ground zero during a United Nations session.
Colonel Qaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi told the American ambassador on Nov. 27 that Libya balked at its promise to ship its final enriched uranium stockpile because it was “fed up” with the slow pace of improved relations with Washington. Libya had agreed in 2003 to dismantle its unconventional weapons program in exchange for greater military, security and economic cooperation.
By late December, the Russian aircraft was back on the tarmac in Tripoli. Visiting United States Energy Department officials reported that the loading of the casks overnight on Dec. 20-21 was carried out without a hitch. Libyan officials at the Tajoura Nuclear Center offered no insights into the reasons behind the government’s about-face.
At 5:15 a.m. on Dec. 21, the Russian-chartered plane took off. Energy Department officials confirmed several hours later that the flight — and its secret cargo — had arrived in Russia.
by New York Times:
“We have 18 months and if we do not produce a tangible success that is recognizable to the Mexican people, it will be difficult to sustain the confrontation into the next administration.”
The summary of Mr. Gutiérrez’s comments, written by the United States ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, continued: “He expressed a real concern with ‘losing’ certain regions. It is damaging Mexico’s international reputation, hurting foreign investment, and leading to a sense of government impotence, Gutiérrez said.”
The documents released by WikiLeaks capture a moment at the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 when Mexican officials were forced to acknowledge — despite their public claims of progress — that their military strategy was not producing the results they had hoped for in the drug war.
A year later, there have been some notable successes in capturing or killing cartel leaders and their violent lieutenants. Police intelligence appears to have become more effective. But the military continues to play the top role in the drug war, and the violence that so worried Mexican officials at the end of last year has spread, becoming more entrenched than ever.
The diplomatic cables present a picture of such intense rivalry among Mexico’s civilian law enforcement agencies and its military that little gets done.
In his account, Mr. Feeley said that “Mexican security institutions are often locked in a zero-sum competition in which one agency’s success is viewed as another’s failure, information is closely guarded, and joint operations are all but unheard of.” Mr. Feely continued: “Prosecution rates for organized crime-related offenses are dismal; 2 percent of those detained are brought to trial. Only 2 percent of those arrested in Ciudad Juárez have even been charged with a crime.”
The documents also show how anxious the Mexican government was to contain the bloodshed in Juárez, which has intensified this year.
Yemen and Libya are playing a very dangerous game of politics. Why would Yemen not eradicate terrorism when they have the U.S resources willing to do it for them? And the fact that they have missiles hidden in their ‘Top Secret’ file scares me. And is it me, or was Libya trying to play chicken with the U.S? Would the government really allow for enriched uranium to leak in a government research facility? Would they really risk civilian lives to prove a point?
The leaders in the Middle East seem to be becoming more dangerous as the tide turns.
The Mexican cartels will only hurt in their pockets of drug sales which marijuana contributes a large bulk to. Legalizing marijuana will permit dispensaries to grow the crop in their facilities like medical marijuana growers.