Monday, 1 November 2010

UK 'will not send troops to Yemen' (Yet)

Yemen must not become another Afghanistan but Britain's role is to "stay close" and offer it assistance rather than send in troops at this stage, the new head of the UK's Armed Forces said.

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards said the military's concentration needed to remain on Afghanistan - to prevent that country becoming a "second Yemen".

Global attention has once again been focused on Yemen, the country which spawned al Qaida, after it emerged as the source of ink cartridge bombs found on aircraft last week.

Asked if an Afghan-style military intervention was the right approach, Gen Richards told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on Monday: "It might be but right now it is not considered to be the case and clearly the Yemeni government does not believe it needs our help and they are extremely on-side, like most Islamic nations are actually."

He said: "Clearly, the primary agency dealing with this are our intelligence and security agencies. But the military are already helping with their training.

"I don't think we want to open up another front there and nor do the Yemenis want us to do that. So we have to find other ways of doing these things and in the meantime making sure Afghanistan doesn't revert to becoming, if you like, a 'second Yemen' - that is the Army's primary duty at the moment.

"Our role is to remain very close to them, to help them where they most need it and in the meanwhile focus our efforts on Afghanistan and assisting Pakistan to ensure they don't become the threat Yemen is beginning to be.

"When people say Yemen is worse than Afghanistan or Pakistan, one reason is that many of al Qaida's leaders and operatives spend most of their time thinking about their own security rather than planning how to attack us."

Gen Richards, who succeeded Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup on Friday, said there were "reasons to be cautiously optimistic" about progress in Afghanistan where the allied effort was "just beginning to" turn the tide.

He said he was "pretty relaxed" about Prime Minister David Cameron's 2015 target for withdrawing combat troops, saying the timescale "sharpens our attention" and helps ensure resources are put in.

Copyright © 2010 The Press Association. All rights reserved.

(Editors note) I expect the real reason is that there is no gas pipeline that needs securing and protecting in the Yemen:

The much-vaunted Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) gas pipeline which runs through much of Afghanistan has been given the green light for December this year.

Although virtually unreported in the West it has recently been announced in the Asian media that the governments of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) are putting the final touches to agreements for the construction of the strategically important gas pipeline.

The TAPI pipe will transport vast quantities of natural gas from Turkmenistan to India and Pakistan, through Afghanistan — yet the big issue remains as to how it will be protected from “insurgent” attacks and the implications for British service personnel.

According to Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister, the pipeline deal will come into force in December.
The multi-billion dollar, one thousand mile pipeline will transport natural gas from the Dauletabad field in Turkmenistan, whose resources are credited as containing more than 40 trillion cubic feet of gas.

The pipeline, which was first proposed in the early 1990s, has suffered continuing delays arising from political, economic and security issues.The principal concern presently is that of security as the proposed pipeline's route will takes it through both Helmand Province in Afghanistan and Balochistan in Pakistan.Both these regions are considered “unstable” areas “requiring” Western military intervention to combat “terrorism.”

Curiously, Afghanistan's inept puppet-government has promised to “guarantee” the pipeline's security.One bizarre proposal is to bury long stretches of the pipeline underground, supposedly to take it out of reach of the “insurgents.”Another proposal involves bribing warlords through whose fiefdoms the pipeline will pass, to guard it against attackHowever, few doubt that the only effective, acceptable and reliable long term security will be that provided by the presence of British and other Allied troops.

This in turn suggests British military involvement in that country for the decade-plus economic lifetime of the project.A secondary issue of interest relates to the as yet undisclosed composition of the international consortium of multinationals that will “win” the contracts to build and maintain the pipelineIt is thought likely that US giants such as Haliburton, which has done very nicely out of “reconstructing” Iraq, will be awarded the lion's share of the work.

In view of the geopolitical and economic importance of the pipeline and the rather obvious requirement for British forces to participate in its protection, the failure of the British media to report on this important and politically sensitive development does appear more than a little remiss.

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