Does the international community have a “responsibility to protect” civilians in pariah-state Libya but not counterterrorism partner Yemen?
President Obama issued a statement saying he “strongly condemn[s]” today’s violence and says those responsible for it “must be held accountable.” Huh? He’s giving those very people cash and weaponry in the name of fighting terrorism. It’s doubtful that the helicopters and night-vision goggles the U.S. supplies Yemen was used on the demonstrators. But in the case of Yemen, the least the U.S. could do would be to threaten to turn off the money spigot. Obama stopped well short of that.
But the government of Ali Abdullah Saleh is disinclined to show similar restraint. Saleh declared a state of emergency, the typical regional prelude to mass detentions, torture and killing. Unless the Obama administration does something to stop Saleh, al-Qaida’s Yemeni branch will have its next wave of propaganda footage written for it. If Egypt demonstrated that nonviolent revolution can undercut al-Qaida by rendering it irrelevant to social change, Saleh is all but inviting the terrorists back into the game.
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