By Sputnik News
As Saudi Arabia and its allies have begun the bombing campaign against Yemen, in the south, a separatist movement calling for a “State of South Arabia” is emerging. Fostered by the US, it will leave the Houthis with two hostile states at their borders and locked access to the sea, if it succeeds.
Welcome to┬áphase two of┬áUS regime change operations. After Yemen’s 2011 revolution failed and Houthi militias overthrew President Hadi, forces trained and sponsored by┬áthe US government are being activated as┬áa separatist movement.
The Southern People’s Committees (SPC), founded around┬á2007 although USAID has been conducting political workshops as┬ápart of┬áa $695,000 project and actively grooming leadership in┬áYemen since┬á2005. (Also in┬á2007, weekly protests began, organized by┬áwomen’s organizations, fostered by┬áthe workshops.) The SPC were similar to┬ámany color revolution movements such as┬áSerbia’s Otpor in┬áthat they did not have a central leadership, but┬árather an autonomous cell-based organization. In addition, they were very capable in┬áthe use of┬ásocial media technologies, text messaging and the circumventing the government’s internet censorship to┬áorganize protests.
Meanwhile, the Yemen Center for┬áHuman Rights Studies, which received $193,000 from┬áthe EU and US-funded Foundation for┬áthe Future in┬á2009, conducted a poll in┬áJanuary 2010, which found that 70 percent of┬ásouthern Yemenis favored secession.
Another USAID-funded project, the $43 million Responsive Governance Project (RGP), launched in┬áMay 2010, conducted “New Social Media training for┬áYouth leaders to┬áequip Yemeni youth groups in┬áthe use of┬ámedia to┬áenhance their participation in┬áformulating public issues.” The project focuses on┬áestablishing contacts with┬áthe Yemeni government and providing “leadership and civic education training to┬áyouth NGOs.”
At the same time, USAID funded a $3.58 million project called Promoting Youth for┬áCivic Engagement (PYCE) to┬átrain Aden youth ” in┬áPACA [political activity training], first aid, self-defense, photography, calligraphy and various other topics,” including “media skills,” according to┬áan evaluation report of┬áthe PYCE Project, conducted in┬á2012. The project was constrained to┬áAden and did not conduct workshops in┬áthe northern capital, Sanaa, after┬áreportedly receiving threats.
The project is presented as┬áa youth “sports program,” and although it does include basketball, handball and chess, these were not the primary goal, as┬áthe report shows. At the same time, first aid, self-defense, photography and calligraphy (making protest signs) sound a lot more like┬áprotest tactics than┬ásports. The program, initially planned to┬álast for┬átwo years, did not make any progress reports after┬áMarch 2012, when President Hadi assumed power.
After the 2011 revolution, the SPC became more of┬áa military outfit and took part in┬áa fight against┬áal-Qaeda in┬áYemen, which coincided with┬áthe CIA’s expanded drone campaign in┬áthe area. This is also where the organization fades from┬ápublic view when it comes to┬áUSAID expense reports, as┬áthe organization appeared to┬álose interest in┬ádeveloping democracy in┬áthe country. In a June 4, 2012 a field commander of┬áthe People’s Committees gave an interview to┬áthe Yemen Times, in┬áwhich he described the group’s fight against┬áthe Ansar al-Sharia Islamists together with┬áthe government.
However, the group reappeared in┬ápublic view on┬áSeptember 23┬á2014, two days after┬áHouthis took control of┬áSanaa, and issued a statement in┬áwhich they call on┬ásecurity forces to “undertake its historical role in┬áproviding security and maintaining people’s property because it is in┬áorder to┬ápreserve the revolution, which is the most important accomplishment achieved by┬áthe Yemeni people.”
At the same time, in┬ásouthern Yemen, the People’s Committee has been very active on┬áFacebook and Twitter since┬áaround October 2014. The Facebook and Twitter pages publish slick anti-Houthi propaganda and call for┬áseparatism and a “State of┬áSouth Arabia,” within┬áthe bounds of┬áformer South Yemen, and using South Yemen’s flag.
Since mid-March, the SPC have been fighting against┬áHouthis and see Saudi Arabia as┬áan ally of┬áconvenience, although some of┬átheir social media accounts, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and other royal family figures are glorified. However, the splitting of┬áYemen benefits Saudi Arabia, as┬áit secludes the Houthis to┬áa smaller Northern Yemen, which would be surrounded by┬átwo hostile states, with┬áSaudi Arabia to┬áthe north and the new South Arabia to┬áthe south, which would also control access to┬áthe sea at┬áthe Gulf of┬áAden.
The current situation has considerable parallels with┬áUkraine, which has led the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to┬ácall the situation one of “obvious double standards, but┬áwe clearly did not want neither what is happening in┬áUkraine, nor what is happening in┬áYemen.”
Indeed, while Russia has been repeatedly accused of┬áhelping Donbas independence supporters, the US has openly fostered the south Yemen separatist movement. At the same time, while Ukraine’s President Yanukovych was called illegitimate by┬áthe US after┬áfleeing the country, Yemen’s Hadi has remained “legitimate” and has even called for┬áa Saudi Arabian military operation against┬áthe people who ousted him.
The ongoing conflict in┬áYemen is currently at┬áthe second phase of┬áUS regime change operations, rebel conflict. The first stage, the color revolution, has failed, and now the last stop, foreign intervention and ground invasion remains. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies have already begun the airstrikes, and the South Arabia movement has begun its separatist campaign.
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