On January 29, in the pre-dawn darkness, Navy Seal Team 6 Special Forces and commandos from the United Arab Emirates were helicoptered into central Yemen, the small impoverished country at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula. They landed near a tiny farming village in the Yakla district of al-Bayda province. Plans for the attack were drawn up under President Obama, and now was launched by the Trump-Pence regime. It was reportedly the regime’s first military operation.
The U.S. military had “visited” this village before. In 2013, under Obama, a U.S. drone struck a wedding party there, killing 12 civilians.
On January 29, with U.S. drones flying overhead, 50 soldiers and their military dogs walked toward the village, supposedly on a mission to capture a “high value” member of Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and gather intelligence. The killing began when Sheikh Abdelilah Ahmed al Dahab’s 11-year-old son heard something and looked outside to see what it was. He was shot dead instantly. “No one thought that marines would descend on our homes to kill us, kill our children and kill our women,” al Dahab told the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ), which detailed what happened during this surprise U.S. assault.
Two tribal leaders and an 80-year-old also came out to find out what was happening. They, too, were executed. The Seals surrounded one of the several small brick homes that make up this village and opened fire indiscriminately, even gunning down those trying to escape. “The villagers say the 38-year-old mother of seven, Fatim Saleh al Ameri was fatally shot by special operators while trying to flee with her two-year-old son Mohammed. ‘We pulled him out from his mother’s lap. He was covered in her blood,’ said 11-year-old Basil Ahmed Abad al Zouba, whose 17-year-old brother was killed.” (BIJ)
Villagers began returning fire. Soon U.S. helicopter gunships arrived and shot at everything, including homes and people fleeing, BIJ reports. A missile hit Fahad Ali al Ameri’s home; his three-month-old daughter was killed in her crib. Members of the reactionary jihadist Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula had been camped nearby and joined the battle, which raged for another two hours.
When the fighting ended, 25 Yemeni civilians were dead. Nine were children—from three months to 13 years old. Fourteen Al Qaeda members were reportedly killed along with one Navy Seal.
Among the dead, in what investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald described as “a hideous symbol of the bipartisan continuity of U.S. barbarism,” were:
Abdallah Mabkhout al Ameri, a subsistence farmer who was too old to work himself. He’d survived the 2013 wedding party massacre which had killed his eldest son. On January 29 he was killed “alongside his 25-year-old daughter Fatima and 38-year-old son Mohammed. Three of Mohammed’s four children also died—Aisha, 4, Khadija, 7, and Hussein, 5,” BIJ reports. “A further nine members of the extended family were killed.”
Another innocent victim, whose relatives had been executed by the U.S., was eight-year-old Nawar al-Awlaki. Her father, the Islamist Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was assassinated by an Obama-approved U.S. drone strike in 2011—and her 16-year-old half-brother, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, also an American citizen, was executed by another U.S. drone two weeks after his father. Nawar was hiding inside when a bullet struck her in the neck. With no medical assistance possible given the U.S. assault, she bled out and died two hours later.
“It is true they were targeting [al-Qaida] but why did they have to kill children and women and elderly people?” Zabnallah Saif al-Ameri told BIJ. “If such slaughter happened in their country, there would be a lot of shouting about human rights. When our children are killed, they are quiet.”
Why Should Anyone Want U.S. Imperialism to “Succeed”?
Trump and his fascist minions immediately declared the Yemen slaughter “absolutely a success.” Why? Because, according to Trump’s press spokesman Sean Spicer, it “prevented future loss of life here in America.” Trump, who promised to kill the families of suspected “terrorists” during his campaign, issued a statement mourning the loss of life… of one American, a Seal Team 6 mass killer: “Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism.”
No one with a heart and a conscience should accept the sick, putrid logic of justifying mass murder for empire in the name of saving American lives—whether the crime is done by more “mainstream” Republicans or by Democrats like Obama or fascists like Trump.
Where does that logic lead? To justifying the hundreds of U.S. drone strikes in Yemen since 2002 which have likely killed well over 1,000 people, including civilians… to U.S. backing (under Obama and Trump) for Saudi Arabia’s barbaric terror-bombing campaign targeting markets, schools, hospitals, and residential neighborhoods—a bombing campaign that has caused most of Yemen’s 10,000 war-related civilian casualties… and to U.S. support for the Saudis’ land and sea blockade aimed at starving Yemenis into submission, a blockade which has already put more than 12 million people on the brink of starvation.
This is the logic of carrying out genocide and burning down the world to save America—in reality, to attempt to “save” American imperialism.
No one with a shred of concern for humanity should want any of this to succeed. Wishing for America to succeed is wishing for a murdering empire of global enslavement and oppression that threatens the planet and future of humanity to “succeed.”
No. We should welcome our rulers’ failures and defeats, because the actions they are carrying out are for imperialism and are totally unjust, totally immoral, and totally illegitimate. The failures and defeats of the rulers can weaken their hold on power and domination over the masses, and make it more difficult for them to carry out further crimes. And they heighten the possibilities for an actual communist revolution that could replace this criminal, outmoded system with something radically different and far better.
(For a deeper discussion of the centrality of internationalism and revolutionary defeatism, readers should dig into “Internationalism—Revolutionary Defeatism,” “Internationalism and an International Dimension,” and “Internationalism—Bringing Forward Another Way,” pp. 264-277 in Bob Avakian’s THE NEW COMMUNISM.)
As part of preparing the ground for a real revolution, there’s an urgent need for much more mass opposition (or “vehement opposition,” as Glenn Greenwald says, writing for The Intercept), to U.S. crimes around the world—crimes that the Trump-Pence regime is now threatening and preparing to escalate as a key part of its fascist agenda. Many thousands are rightly outraged by Trump’s lying, his deportations, his Muslim and refugee bans, his attacks on the press, and more. A question for you: Why shouldn’t you be equally outraged by, and protest just as vigorously, Trump’s crimes and abuses directed at the millions and potentially billions of people living outside U.S. borders?