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 »
$618 BILLION IN FUNDING
By a Big Margin, House Passes Defense Bill
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

The National Defense Authorization Act passed the House this morning by a 375-34 vote. The bill, which heads to the Senate next week for final consideration, would fund the military to the tune of $618.7 billion, "about $3.2 billion more than the president requested for fiscal 2017. ... The White House has issued a veto threat on both the House and Senate-passed versions of the bill, but has not yet said if it will sign the compromise bill released by the conference committee this week."

Source:
SUCCEEDS UPTON
Walden to Chair Energy and Commerce Committee
1 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Republicans have elected Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) the next chairman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee. Walden defeated Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL) and Joe Barton (R-TX), the former committee chairman, in the race for the gavel" to succeed Michgan's Fred Upton.

Source:
BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
Senators Looking to Limit Deportations Under Trump
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that would limit deportations" under President-elect Donald Trump. Leading the effort are Judiciary Committee members Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is also expected to sign on.

Source:
REQUIRES CHANGE IN LAW
Trump Taps Mattis for Defense Secretary
2 days ago
BREAKING

Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. James 'Mad Dog' Mattis as his secretary of defense, according to The Washington Post. Mattis retired from active duty just four years ago, so Congress will have "to pass new legislation to bypass a federal law that states secretaries of defense must not have been on active duty in the previous seven years." The official announcement is likely to come next week.

Source:
MEASURE HEADED TO OBAMA
Senate OKs 10-Year Extension of Iran Sanctions
2 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