WASHINGTON — Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos is “concerned” about al-Qaida in Yemen, where the government says it just foiled a plot by al-Qaida to blow up ports and oil pipelines and capture several key cities in a bid to gain a new foothold there. But with more than a dozen U.S. embassies and consulates still closed worldwide in response to the threat, the nation’s top Marine officer said he does not know what to expect next from al-Qaida, warning the international community to pay close attention to Yemen.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen there and I don’t know what the next – you know, if you could move the book forward a couple chapters – I don’t know what it’s going to look like,” said Amos, in an exclusive interview with Defense One in his Pentagon office.
The intercepted threat prompted the Obama administration to shut down 20 U.S. embassies and diplomatic posts, including in the capital Saan’a, from Africa to South Asia. Military leaders are on edge as the violence in Yemen grows, watching to see if al-Qaida really is on the run or on its back heels, as many top officials at the Pentagon have been claiming.
This new plot, however, has Amos worried about what the future holds for this small but strategic nation that sits on the Gulf of Aden, where al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula has set up its headquarters. And, despite some good intelligence and a strong partnership with the Yemini military, he’s still not sure how it all will turn out.
“I worry that it becomes, to some degree, a breeding ground for al-Qaida,” Amos said on Wednesday. “I think that internationally probably most of the westernized countries in the world should be paying very close attention to what’s happening with AQAP. So, I am concerned about that the same way I think all our nations are. I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, it’s hard to say.”
Amos said Yemen could become like the rugged border mountains of Afghanistan were in 2001, where Osama bin Laden found a place to rally his supporters and plan the Sept. 11 attacks.
“I mean, it’s a strategic part of the world and by virtue of the fact that a large percentage, or some percentage, of the bad guys have migrated there and are trying to get a foothold, it’s in our interest to pay close attention,” he said.
Amos said al-Qaida is fractured but trying desperately to reorganize itself while Yemen continues to try to fight an influx of fighters within its borders with the help of targeted U.S. drone strikes. His comment came as the Daily Beast first reported that 20 of the top al-Qaida leaders orchestrated a conference call to plot their attacks in Yemen. They clearly want a new stomping ground, and Yemen fits that bill.
Amos said the U.S. military is doing what it can to try to contain al-Qaida’s presence in Yemen and in the region, citing the recent French military intervention in Mali as an example of how to successfully achieve that.
“When the French went into Mali, they went into Mali for many of the same reasons. They’re concerned about al-Qaida in that part of the world and so they took it upon themselves to try to help a small, beleaguered country that kind of regained its borders and regained its sense of security. So I think there are other places around the world besides Yemen, but Yemen is in the headlines right now,” Amos said. “It’s a dangerous place.”
Reprinted with permission from Defense One. The original story can be found here.
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."