American jets attacked Yemen a few days ago, according to a story in the New York Times and on The Long War Blog.  They killed, among others, a mid-level Al Qada operative, Abu Ali al Harithi. 

This follows Predator drone strikes in Yemen in May to kill other Al Qaeda operatives.  Is there anywhere safe from an American Predator strike?

And President Obama has been accused of being anti-colonialist.  Perhaps he doesn’t care to engage in the messy business of colonialism, preferring instead to simply project force (i.e., kill people his administration deems no longer fit to live) whenever and wherever he wishes.  Killing with airstrikes anyone that might get in the Empire’s way, Predator drone or otherwise, just doesn’t seem as messy and complicated as actual management of a colony might be.  Besides, who would oversee the colonies?  I suppose the US could recruit its legions of overweight, middle-aged, white males that its economy recently decided (apparently for good)were no longer necessary for its own managerial ranks, but why would they want to live in Yemen?  Does Yemen even have football (of the oblong American variety)? 

Yemen is a small (population: 24 million), exceedingly young (median age: 18), exceedingly fertile (4.63 births per female) country sitting at the southern-most tip of the Arabian peninsula, guarding the Arabian Sea entrance to the Red Sea at the Gulf of Aden, through which passes a lot of oil.  It might be helpful to view a map, from the CIA World Factbook.

Map of Yemen

What a blessing for the Empire Al Qaeda has been.  Given to amorphous definition, Al Qaeda operatives are basically anyone that stands in the way of American expansionism.  Yemen has plenty of them.   As the Yemen civil war has picked up in intensity, American power and presence has oozed in to fill the power void.  Yemen is strategically situated because of its proximity to shipping lanes, but is unfortunately geographically distant from the Empire’s main assets in the region: Iraq, Afghanistan, western Pakistan and Israel.  Saudi Arabia can’t yet be considered completely within the Empire’s fold. 

About Yemen–it was once a British protectorate, which is hardly surprising; here’s a bit more from the Factbook:

North Yemen became independent of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. The British, who had set up a protectorate area around the southern port of Aden in the 19th century, withdrew in 1967 from what became South Yemen. Three years later, the southern government adopted a Marxist orientation. The massive exodus of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis from the south to the north contributed to two decades of hostility between the states. The two countries were formally unified as the Republic of Yemen in 1990. A southern secessionist movement in 1994 was quickly subdued. In 2000, Saudi Arabia and Yemen agreed to a delimitation of their border. Fighting in the northwest between the government and Huthi rebels, a group seeking a return to traditional Zaydi Islam, began in 2004 and has since resulted in seven rounds of fighting – the last ended in early 2010 with a tentative ceasefire. The southern secessionist movement was revitalized in 2008 when a popular socioeconomic protest movement initiated the prior year took on political goals including secession. Public rallies in Sana’a against President SALIH – inspired by similar demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt – slowly built momentum starting in late January 2011 fueled by complaints over high unemployment, poor economic conditions, and corruption. By the following month, some protests had resulted in violence, and the demonstrations had spread to other major cities. By March the opposition had hardened its demands and was unifying behind calls for SALIH’s immediate ouster. Media reports indicated that as many as 100 protesters had been killed and many more injured amid the protests. Domestic and international efforts to mediate a resolution to the political crisis had not yielded a deal as of mid April.