Top U.S. Marine Amos on Yemen: “˜I Don’t Know How It’s Going to Turn Out’

Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
Add to Briefcase
Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
Aug. 8, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

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 »
TEN SAILORS MISSING
USS John McCain Collides with Merchant Ship in Pacific
32 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"The USS John McCain, a destroyer in the U.S. Navy, collided with a merchant ship east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca." The Navy said ten sailors are missing and five more are injured. The ship is sailing back to port under its own power.

Source:
HAS BEEN HINTING AT A TROOP DRAWDOWN
Trump to Make Prime Time Address on Afghanistan
32 minutes ago
THE LATEST

After hinting lately that he'd prefer to draw down U.S. troops in Afghanistan and give the Afghan people more responsibility for their security, President Donald Trump will address the issue 9:00 p.m. from Fort Myer in Arlington on Monday night.

TRUST FOR NATIONAL MALL SET TO REFURBISH SITE
New Jefferson Memorial Exhibit Will Acknowledge His Owning of Slaves
33 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

"An exhibit alongside the nation's chief memorial to Thomas Jefferson will receive an update that reflects 'the complexity' of his status as a founder of the United States and a slaveholder, according to stewards of the National Mall." The Trust for the National Mall, which works with the National Park Service to maintain the Mall, "has been planning to raise money to refurbish the National Park Service exhibit accompanying the memorial, which has deteriorated since its installment about 20 years ago." An official with the Trust told the Washington Examiner: "We can reflect the momentous contributions of someone like Thomas Jefferson, but also consider carefully the complexity of who he was. And that's not reflected right now in the exhibits."

Source:
WILL TEST THE NORTH’S STANDDOWN
Joint U.S., South Korea War Games Set to Begin
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A new cycle of escalation on the Korean Peninsula looks set to begin this week when the U.S. and South Korea kick off annual military exercises that have a history of enraging Pyongyang." The long-planned drills, set to last ten days, "will test whether North Korea’s apparent easing of its immediate threat to Guam proves durable—or if the de-escalation was really a backdown at all."

Source:
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
3 days ago
THE LATEST
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login