I just returned from an Al Qaeda stronghold in Yemen

posted by GhaithAbdulAhad to /r/IAmA on Wed, 30 May 12 15:07:16 +0100

I'm a reporter for the Guardian who recently snuck into Southern Yemen with my director dressed as a local couple to make contact with an Al Qaeda contact for a Frontline PBS film. Then, we managed to film in Al Qaeda controlled territory, interviewed Al Qaeda fighters, and saw their prisoners.

Yemen is at the center of Al Qaeda's ongoing operations.

I recently got back, and a film based on my experiences aired last night on Frontline. It's online: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/al-qaeda-in-yemen/

I'll be on at 10:30 am ET to take your questions. Looking forward to it.

The original poster hasn't replied to any of this threads comments. Click here to show unanswered comments.

"The truth is, there is no Islamic army or terrorist group called Al Qaida. And any informed intelligence officer knows this. But there is a propaganda campaign to make the public believe in the presence of an identified entity representing the 'devil' only in order to drive the 'TV watcher' to accept a unified international leadership for a war against terrorism. The country behind this propaganda is the US and the lobbyists for the US war on terrorism are only interested in making money." - Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook

I feel like this AMA should be redone, with the OP getting some basic instruction from the mods as to how to reply

Because this is interesting enough to deserve a real proper AMA

Also, OP only made like 12-15 replies. That's super lame.

Why wasn't the documentary longer? It's incredibly short.

Can someone please post another source for that video? I can't seem to watch it from my country. Or is anyone else having problem watching this at the moment?

Were there any Black Africans in the cells you saw there? Why do you think they join Al Qaeda?

Able to get another source for the video? Doesn't work in the UK.

How long did it take to cross into Yemen?

I doubt as a journalist for Al-Guardian you had to do much sneaking, as generally your coverage has been biased in favour of Islamic Fundimentalists. Choosing instead to focus on Israel-Palestine then the core issue of the state of the Arab world. All to pander to pro-arab european sensibilities. Al-Queda will have appreciated this PR.

I doubt as a journalist for Al-Guardian

HAHAHAHA, GET IT?

YOU MADE THE GUARDIAN SOUND ARAB!

HAHAHA YOU'RE TOTALLY NOT RACIST OR ANYTHING!

How do you feel going into these situations knowing that you might not come out? Or is it not really that dangerous. How do you psych yourself up? Do you ever go "oh shit, I wish I hadn't done this?" Is it an adventure like you read in books, except for realistic?

Define quite what you mean by "Al-Qaeda".

I watched your documentary the other night. Very interesting.

Al Qaeda? You actually still believe that crap?

Were you risking yourself to a random air strike? Or did the military know of your presence there?

This will probably be buried, in accordance with how many questions are here, but....

As someone who sneaked into Yemen, pretend you were caught, do you feel as if you should have been punished in the way,according to their values, as they see fit? Do you think you should be held according to their standards, or to your own? Who do you think should be the dominant enforcer, as a man who risks his life to report?

edit for grammar

That this is more than 1000 upvotes below the guy from Scooby Doo says something terrible about us.

Did they threaten to kill or harm you? I remember that in one documentary where the journalists came to interview/live along with Al Qaeda or the Taliban fighters, some of the terrorists threatened the journalists, wanting to kill them, while others prevented it.

I've heard that due to their killing of civilians, the Al Qaeda name is ruined and nobody wants to do business with them. How much truth is there to this?

Hey there, just wanted to say i saw that program last night on PBS, good stuff!

I am curious, if you are allowed to discuss, can you let us know how do you manage to infiltrate, why would Al Qaeda even let you film them and reveal their hideout, if US is so sure of the Al Qaeda base and operations why hasn't it taken drastic measures to eliminate the threat?

Ah, the Guardian? Based on your articles about israel, I had already assumed you were an Al Qaeda mouthpiece.

first i though you were a navy seal, this is equally impressive

How strong we're they at holding you?

I am an aspiring photographer, with a heavy interest in photojournalism (my dads an old-breed journalist). Do you work with Reporters Without Borders before these trips? I've seen that they loan out bulletproof vests, emergency locators, and things of that like.

What is the preparation before your trip like? Do you work similarly to the BBC with a risk management team (I think that's their term)? How would a still photographer get into a position to accompany someone like you? Do military connections help?

The videos were worth watching. Al Qaeda = what happens when you take people straight from the Middle Ages and give them modern automatic weapons.

What do you think of the situation in Syria?

Surely already asked, but why would they talk to you? Do they believe Western Civ will fear them more if we understand their reach and power? Are you sure you are not getting used as hard as you feel you are using them? Not trying to be a dick, just curious.

Could you hear the predators buzzing above your head?

So, what was its ICBM address, again?

Don't you think that slapping the brand "Al Qaeda" around doesn't help understand the fact that most of those organizations are actually fighting because of local reasons, and not because of some kind grand international scheme to make a world wide caliphate?

It's the same with Al Qaeda in the Maghreb. They just took the name for its fame, but groups between regions don't have the same fight. They share their know-how for sure though...

i watched this yesterday, and told myself "holy crap these guys have big balls", seriously i am glad you guys made it back safe

How did you manage to infiltrate such an organisation?

Have you given the location to allied forces yet?

Obviously a question posed in sarcasm, but it would be terrible if they did. Reporters are supposed to be neutral. Getting your interview subjects killed =/= not neutral.

How did you ever fool these geniuses?

Those were some really bleak landscapes, great cinematography.

I still don't buy the claim that Al Qaeda was anything other than 1 group of guys. Terrorists are not a network. Each has it's own motives and beginnings.

I'll be called a conspiracy nutjob, but the weirdest part is that I'm right. Yemen is destabilized, the US has been bombing it, and wants to keep everyone thinking the boogey man is there.

Why can we trust you?

Did you get to drink coffee with any of the Americans there?

That's an incredible experience. What was the most surprising thing you learned on your journey?

Where you going next?

Hard to top Yemeni Al Qaeda.

Also, what video and audio equipment did you guys carry on such a trip?

That was an excellent piece!

How likely is it that the tribes will actually rise up against Al Qaeda? Is what happened to the town at the end sustainable?

If you were to bump into Osama would you greet him with a sup or yoo what it do?

Well...seeing as how he's dead and all...

I'm a journalist as well and was wondering how you identified yourself to your contacts? Did you mention you were working for an American outlet?

Is your video mirrored on any other sites? Player is down on pbs

After speaking with the fighters, what was your final impression of their motives (were they simply brain washed soldiers, disillusioned, freedom fighters etc.) and did it change the way you had viewed them prior to interviewing?

I graduated last May and have been writing for a local paper for about a year now, any advice for someone just starting in journalism?

I just returned from an Al Qaeda stronghold in Yemen

Proof?

Thank you for posting this AMA, we need more middle eastern journalists that can truly express the struggles that Yemen faces. Any long term solutions that you can think of based on your observations of the situation?

Who gives a shit? can we just carpet bomb this shit hole of a country please? surely we can do something with the land. Landfill? yes, international landfill. Wipe em all out and turn their country into a landfill.

Do they honestly believe that they are doing God's work? Or is it blatantly seen objectively as a tactic?

what are the al qaeda fighters like?

Do you think that the U.S. is doing more harm than good in its wars in the Middle East? What would happen if we pulled out and Al-Qaeda and the Taliban took root there? Would it be a threat to the security of the Western world?

The film didn't show any commerce in the Al Qaeda territories. Were there any basic food markets, clothing stores and/or land owners?

Of the men you interviewed, do you think the majority were genuinely committed to the al-Qaeda ideology? Or was the a mixture, with some fighters left without any other options for food, shelter, protection, etc.

this title seems redundant. am i correct?

Where was it and how many of them were there? Did you see any weapons? Just wondering...

I am not a writer or especially good at grammar, if you are a reporter you should know the irregular verb you want is sneaked not snuck. Just saying.

So- I watched the Frontline episode last night. Thank you for your work, b/c I had no idea about the extent AlQuaeda's influence in Yemen. Questions: 1)DO you think that the USA money and weaponry given to the Yemeni army is the way to go? There was suggestion in the episode that the money went into someone's pockets...Also the Yemeni's were captured in that fortress. 2)Do you think training is a better solution? 3) Why did the drones hit houses? Bad intel?

"drone attacks are escalating lately and they are killing may of the commanders but also civilians and I personaly don't think that the drones are the solution, they carry the risk of antagonising the population and driving many more recruits to join the al Qaeda" - GhaithAbdulAhad

I agree completely with this. Either the US fails to realise this (which is possible!) or it's a deliberate tactic to accelerate instability.

I heard they all smell like they had sex despite nobody out there having sex. Is this true?

Was there an apparent U.S. presence in the region besides the "drone strikes"? and how did the locals perceive the foreign intervention generally? Who is providing the tribesmen with the arms and ammunition and why do you believe that the Al Qaeda have more fininacial backing as of the last few years?

Great frontline production! I have a question regarding the Guardian more than this specifically. How unbiased is the organization? These days it's so hard to know which news sources are pushing some kind of agenda. While they all are in some way, would you consider the Guardian a fair news organization?

Ok so here is my question: Are Ansar -Al Sharia and Al Quaeda in the Islamic Maghreb really one and the same with Alquaeda proper or is this just a propaganda tool used by the west to oversimplify things so there is always someone to hate?

I am very much lookin forward to your reply! And thanks

I watched your Frontline show last night on PBS. Nice work.

Hard you on NPR yesterday, interesting interview.

Now that you have seen and met first hand with some of "America's Enemies" first hand, do you feel it is possible for apeaceful outcome with this situation overall? If so, what would be the necessary steps to create this, on a national and personal level.

Thanks for your time and dedication to this story

everyone is shitting on you for not replying properly. i think this is one of the best AMA's i have seen so far. bollocks the haters, mate.

How did you convince them to not kidnap you? Seems it would be easy to hold you for ransom. Were you scared about that?

How do you feel about the drone strikes? Do you think they are working?

Your Wikipedia article says that you trained as an architect in Baghdad. You can't study architecture without being a little connoisseur of history, culture, and the arts. Do you think that when things are finally peaceful Iraq will regain some of its standing as a cultural powerhouse?

I would love to visit, and hopefully in the next 40 years the circumstances will be such that I can.

This somehow became one of the funniest AMAs I've ever read.

I saw the Frontline piece last night and it completely changed my view on US interventionism in the area. I have few questions to ask though.

  1. Did you see any blatant human rights violations Yemen?
  2. Do you Al Qaeda might just try to hold on the land they have now and create their own independent nation.
  3. And do you think Al Qaeda could form a internationally recognized government in South/North Yemen.

Great work, one of the best reporting I've seen on Yemen.

Hi everyone - this is Nathan over at Frontline.

Ghaith had to run -- he wanted to thank you for all the great questions, and was sorry he couldn't get to more.

But here's an idea:

We're working with the Guardian to host a live chat with Ghaith and Jamie TODAY at 2:30 pm ET.

We'll take as many of the unanswered questions from you guys as we can and call you out in the chat:

The chat's right here : http://ow.ly/bftBZ

Really enjoyed hearing you on Talk of the Nation yesterday. During your time, you spoke a great deal about the Yemeni army's ineptitude and the efficacy of the tribesmen in regard to fighting Al Queda:

Why is it that the United States is neglecting talks with these tribesmen?

Do you believe that there is any chance of peace or an end to hostilities at the very least?

What would have happened if you had been caught? Did you ever come close to being caught?

Do you feel that Al Qaeda is becoming more powerful globally or are they still mostly a non threat to western nations?

Does their hatred for western countries have to do with the occupation of Muslim countries or is it more so a thats just the way they were raised kind of thing?

God, when are the Russians gonna leave Afghanistan. Hasn't it been long enough already?

Watched your show last night. Very interesting!

Do you understand that it was the CIA that created AQ and in fact, taught the mujahideens that Russia were invading them because they hated Islam, In effect creating what we today call radical Islamism? Or is part of being a journalist having to ignore these uncomfortable truths?

Truth and facts are not good for ratings.

edit: sp

Is it now inevitable that US troops will occupying Yemen by 2014?

This is hero reporting. You deserve the highest reward in journalism for this bravery. Just want to say thank you and I bow..

I watched your episode last night and was impressed. My question:

Why do these men agree to be filmed on camera. Showing their faces just makes it easier for US operatives on the ground to identify, track, and later kill them. For a group that is "on target" nearly 24/7 I feel like a clandestine lifestyle would be most fitting. Did any of the fighters you interviewed express any concern about this?

You said you had been detained before? What happened? Thank you for doing this and risking your freedom/life.

Was there a well defined hierarchical structure to how everything worked within the orginization?

Do you have any idea why the media insists on calling Al Qaeda "Al Qaeda" in Yemen and "opposition activists" in Syria?

Are you saying that the activists asking for a regime change in Syria are Al Qaeda members?

If by "asking" you mean indiscriminately blowing up civilians, then yes.

I think your mistaking the activists with the Government. Day after day do we get reports of the Syrian Army bombarding and massacring civilian protesters. The activists garnered support in the army and many left so that they could take the fight to the army that is massacring thousands of civilians every day.

Day after day we get reports of the Syrian Army engaging in battle with Salafists armed and backed by foreign powers, including Al Qaeda. The "activists" garnered some support from the army because they have substantial foreign backing.

Syria is a geopolitical playground for Obama, Israel, the Russians etc. It's a shame because so many innocents will ultimately perish as a result of the recklessness of these powers.

Because the U.S. political elite likes al-Hadi and dislikes Assad.

Are you going to show it in the UK because we would like to watch it also please?

Listen bro, no matter how hard you may try, you cannot fly a plane into reddit.

What do they actually call themselves? What are they fighting for?

"...Do your research" I'm pretty sure a journalist working for an internationally published newspaper can be trusted to do their research.

Which al Qaeda? There are like two dozen.

I have always wondered, now that Al Qaeda has moved into cities, is it easier to find them. Also what was the American (or other) armed forces presence there like? As in, was there a threat of bombing or raiding at any point?

Thank you for doing this IAmA!

  • Did the individuals you met with seem to hold any stronger scorn for Bush over Obama - military over civilians - or did they hold resentment towards any and all Americans/allies of America equally?
  • The commonly-perpetrated belief is that Al Qaeda and other forces are primarily against America for moral reasons, however most legitimate sources can prove otherwise - that they are retaliating against American foreign policy decisions, primarily. Are the Yemenite fighters any different in this regard?

What makes them Al Qaeda other than calling themselves Al Qaeda? Do they call themselves Al Qaeda?

Well, since you seem to have been around these guys, maybe you will know: who or what is Al-Qaeda? Or if you can't answer that, where are they based out of? Who is their leader? Here I was thinking that only westerners believed in Al-Qaeda, simply because western politicians use the term as the Islamic boogieman who is out to kill us all.

I'm curious as to whether these militants were actually going around calling themselves Al-Qaeda, or if maybe you have misrepresented that aspect.

Most (if not all) of the answers from GhaithAbdulAhad (updated: May 31, 2012 @ 09:08:04 pm EST):


Top-level Comment:

the situation in jaar is not different from the rest of yemen same poverty same wretchedness. al Qaeda is trying to portray it as a perfect utopia where merchants leave thier shops unattended and people hurry to go pray, but that's mainly because of the presence of religious police and the fear they have managed to install in the local population


(continued below)

(page 2)


Top-level Comment:

I think te most surprising thing in this trip was how al Qaeda has changed its strategy from working in caves and underground into openly controling cities and towns


Top-level Comment:

when I asked the prisoners about their treatment they said "we are being treated like prisoners, like prisoners" but I guess being a prisoner of al Qaeda is a really scary thing even if they treated you well


Top-level Comment:

I think the locals' attitude to Qaeda is somewhere between apathy and hostility. many of the seperatist see al Qaeda as something that might hamper their struggle for independence from the north.


Top-level Comment:

the situation in jaar is not different from the rest of yemen same poverty same wretchedness. al Qaeda is trying to portray it as a perfect utopia where merchants leave thier shops unattended and people hurry to go pray, but that's mainly because of the presence of religious police and the fear they have managed to install in the local population


Top-level Comment:

drone attacks are escalating lately and they are killing may of the commanders but also civilians and I personaly don't think that the drones are the solution, they carry the risk of antagonising the population and driving many more recruits to join the al Qaeda


Top-level Comment:

@bordertrooper, how do they recruite? brilliant question. there are te usual methods using religion, ideology ... but also in the south of yemen there is so much anger towards the corrupt government in the north and that can be exploited. "the young are angry and they are looking for someone to help them vent their anger." one elder told me in Aden


Top-level Comment:

the prisoners were captured when alqaeda attacked their base. they were held as a bargaining chip against yemeni government. to visit them and film them was a very difficult moral question. I was with their captors and I was free and they weren't. I had been in their situation before and I could only imagine thier fear and anxiety. my only consultation was in filming them I will be able to document their situation. it was horrible being there


Top-level Comment:

@moneybaby. tribesmen are mostly pro independence now, Sharia is not an alien ideology imposed on them and they don't mind it or at least can't say they are against it, yet they don't want to be ruled by a Foriegn entity be it the Qaeda, the north yemen government or the Americans.


Question (sirernestshackleton):

Just a tip, it's easier to hit 'reply' under the question.

Answer (GhaithAbdulAhad):

thanks : ))


Question (AgentDaedalus):

Did they respect you as a human?

Answer (GhaithAbdulAhad):

Yes


Question (LBJforUSA):

Ghaith, excellent frontline piece. Did you have to notify the American military of your excursion so that you would avoid a potential drone strike? Were you concerned that a strike might occur while you were in one of the towns? Thanks for your time!

Answer (GhaithAbdulAhad):

Yes that was a major concern and of course not i dont notify any one we are independent journalist not embedded


Question (bakingsoda1212):

You say Yemen is at the center of ongoing operations. How long has it been like that? Did it move to Yemen after the death of Bin Laden?

Western media says that the number 1 and number 2 of Al Qaeda are Zawahiri and Al Libi, but speculate that they're hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Do the Yemeni operations even listen to these supposed leaders when they're reportedly so far away from each other?

Answer (GhaithAbdulAhad):

Yemen been going on for a while, the way i see th organisation in the past two three years (even before the killing if bin laden) as independent from the leadership in af-pak region more like local franchises


Question (1Ender):

What are your feelings on the current situation in iraq? Do you still live there and has the situation become safer for you?

Answer (GhaithAbdulAhad):

Iraq now is a mafia/police state not that different from syria, yemen or even iraq under sadddam, a political sectarian elite with monopoly over resources massive corruption and brutal security forces... Sounds familiar no?


this bot's mind is being melted.

Yemen is at the center of Al Qaeda's ongoing operations.

If by that, you mean, any inconvenient group is very conveniently re-labeled as "Al Qaeda" by our "intelligence" community.

Do they know that we call them Al Qaeda (do they have their own name that's different?)

Is there any connection between this group and the original group of mujahadeen from soviet occupation of afghanistan. Originally we were told that Al Qaeda was a database of these mujahadeen. (source - 'The Power of Nightmares')

This film is not available in your region because of rights restrictions. We apologize for the inconvenience.

ಠ_ಠ

My wife and I watched the show last night, and commend you and your enormous balls. It was a great insight into a mostly unknown war on Al-Qaeda, and how fragile the balance is in that nation.

HOLY FUCK! DUDE, YOU ARE MY FUCKING HERO.

all you pansy ass big mouth whitebread tough ass wanna be's could learn more about being a in with 5 mins with this guy than anywhere else in firstworld.

This crazy motherfucker jumped on the back of a dirtbike in Afghanistan and rode away to go film al-qaeda, as soon as anyone with real connections showed up they started talking about cutting his head off.

holy shit, you are my hero!!!!

why does it say when i try to play the video 'the selected item currently is not available'?????

Hey, you SIR, are a badass.. let me be the 4577th person to tell you.. And thank you for your.. brinksmanship.

Thank you for pushing the journalism envelope. So far it's just been Vice.

Ghaith, what nationality are you?

He's Iraqi. if you've never watched frontline, do so immediately,

this guy is amazing.

people tell him EVERYTHING because they assume he agrees with/ is one of them.

unreal

We want to thank you guys for all of your comments and questions but we will have to sign off for now as Ghaith has been called away suddenly. For any more information on Clover Films and our other projects, visit www.clover-films.com

This was very brave and very informative, at least in my mind. Thank you.

Haven't seen any answers to questions in quite a while. is this still going on?

I'm a young aspiring photojournalist/documentary filmmaker and want to break into conflict photography-what should I do?

Yeah don't bother taking 5 minutes to figure out how reddit works first. Great publicity here.

Was there a moment when you were almost exposed?

Yes that was a major concern and of course not i dont notify any one we are independent journalist not embedded

Hrm. An honest journalist. I like this.

Yea if he did end up getting hit then this would of been another of those military fault articles. As someone who spent two years in Afghanistan I can say journalist/reporters just don't know their limits till its to late.

I would be interested in hearing more about your opinion on this situation. The OP was traveling legally (I presume) in a country which is nominally a US ally and with whom the US is not at war. To what extent is it a journalist's responsibility to clear travel anywhere in the world with the US military?

Too be honest too many journalist's end up in harms way because they just don't know the dangers of being where they are and interacting with the people that are around them. Going into the heart of the beast pretending to be someone will get you killed fast.

Most of the time anyone who is from the media out there is back by some political figure, I can't tell you how many times we would be waiting on supplies for weeks at our FOB but yet a reporter somehow can make it out to us but food and water never can. Just annoying really.

The US military shouldn't be in the middle east fucking shit up in the first place...

Right well I can assure you 96% of the Afghan locals disagree with you.

People seem to forget that the insurgency would rape and pillage the secluded Afghan villages, we came in and stopped that from happening.

Ha sorry don't label myself on any side. The reason our politics is so fucked up is because people act like kids and take sides.

I couldn't agree more, people seem to vote for political parties like they support football teams these days.

Yea we totally created a RELIGIOUS insurgency.

So there was just an insurgency, chilling, before we invaded?

There has been civil wars based on religion for years before we even knew anything about it.

I hope you're American. I wish more Americans would think this.

I'm actually a New Zealander but im in the US at the moment.

American military member here... believe this whole heartedly... in fact i have no problem thinking that tomahawk cruise missles are more expensive and far more deadly than hiijacked planes, and missplaced agression in retaliation for cruel acts is more cruel than the original acts themselves.

Or even if they weren't injured a nearby strike could be bad for them. It might make the fighters think the reporters were spies calling in strikes and kill them.

Holy balls. Thank you sir, you are truly an invaluable member of society.

Be careful!!! If you are an American citizen Under NDAA you can now be detained indefinitely for the interview you just did

You say Yemen is at the center of ongoing operations. How long has it been like that? Did it move to Yemen after the death of Bin Laden?

Western media says that the number 1 and number 2 of Al Qaeda are Zawahiri and Al Libi, but speculate that they're hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Do the Yemeni operations even listen to these supposed leaders when they're reportedly so far away from each other?

Yemen been going on for a while, the way i see th organisation in the past two three years (even before the killing if bin laden) as independent from the leadership in af-pak region more like local franchises

note to reader : don't believe everything you read on reddit.

his association to Frontline might check-out - but the production of his work could be funded by anyone. Of all the independent journalism to explore the conflict, how did he end up with coverage on Frontline?

propaganda is a real thing, budgets are allocated for people like this to feed their stories into places like live-leak and reddit, posing as the counter-culture to spread dis-information.

All it takes is for an arms dealer to fund a public relations firm (from within government or not) to keep both sides misinformed of the reason for occupation.

People die and tempers flare, money is made and power becomes allocatable with the resulting need for change.

To me this person is being deliberately incoherent with inconsistency in spelling and ignoring requests to make use of the reply function, while replying to queries from others competently enough.

Try Google'ing: "there is no such thing as al-qaeda" ,, see for yourself.

Edit: in this case i think he is trying to shape our perspective to better justify a greater military presence in the area (within range of India/China)

Congratulations on mastering the reply button!

What are your feelings on the current situation in iraq? Do you still live there and has the situation become safer for you?

Iraq now is a mafia/police state not that different from syria, yemen or even iraq under sadddam, a political sectarian elite with monopoly over resources massive corruption and brutal security forces... Sounds familiar no?

What about Kurdistan? Are things any better there?

I lived in Chicago my whole life. It's not so bad.

And this will be the result of every Middle Eastern country we try to "democratize." We'll ultimately break them up into feuding mini-states run by competing gangs. The most successful will be those which facilitate imperialist desires for resources. Call me crazy, but it's already happening in Libya, which so many seem to have forgotten about now that we've done our deed. Just watch, just watch.

"We'll ultimately break them up into feuding mini-states run by competing gangs. The most successful will be those which facilitate imperialist desires for resources."

America has been doing this since 1880's , see Japan as an Example.

It's funny that you think that Western intervention actually makes these places net worse. They are going to be shitty for a long time (with respect to standard of living, sense of justice, and rights that Westerners are used to) regardless of whether or not there is Western interference.

Downvote without rebuttal if you agree.

I hope I don't get down voted too badly here... But that's kind of what the US government wants. It's more profitable when there's instability, just the sad truth.

UK colonialism did the same thing !

What oil has the USA taken from Iraq?

Go on...

The idea was to install a sympathetic regime who would allow US oil Majors to bid on lucrative contracts (and presumably give them preferential treatment). It would have been a win-win. Lucrative oil contracts for US companies and increased oil supply to the market to help keep a lid on prices which hurt the US economy.

The original plan was a short war costing less than $100Bn. I think Rummy was quoted as saying $60Bn and 6 months! We spent $700Bn on importing oil in 2008 alone so it would have been a pretty good investment had it worked. Obviously we still would have imported oil even only with lower prices - over time it would have more than payed for the war and made the US oil majors a lot of money too.

Instead both assumptions were wrong. It cost way more - about 20 times more! and the resulting regime didn't have any sympathy for US majors over Chinese or other national oil companies. Hence oil contracts were not very lucrative, the oil never really got flowing all that fast to help prices (due to poor security) and many contracts went outside the US.

http://imgur.com/yP1aK

You can see how under Saddam the oil flow was slowing down. Since the war it has slowly picked up but not nearly as fast as the US wanted. the hope was to quickly ramp it up to 4 Million Barrels per day and eventually much higher (over 10). And of course for that to come through sweetheart contracts with US majors (Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco etc...)

Hot off the AP wires today:

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2012-05/D9V30K3O1.htm

Iraq still isnt welcoming foreign investment with the open US-friendly arms we hoped for - almost 10 years after the invasion.

All the information we need is out there, we just need to join the dots, the cable news networks wont do it for you.

I can't for the life of me see why this would get downvoted.

You mean they didn't steal the oil and parade it through Washington DC and then parcel it out to give everyone an equal share? That is the point of our empire, it doesn't steal equally for Americans, I could almost support that kind of craziness, what we do is even sicker we send Americans as IED-fodder to terrorize countries enough they sell their oil to American companies. No competition. Chinese companies aren't getting Iraqi oil, and been pushed out of Libya. Not because they are chinese, but because they aren't paying bribes to our government.

Youre right about the intent just not the results. Some competition does exist, we have failed to sufficiently terrorize Iraq into selling the oil only to US majors (or British BP and Shell). Some contracts have gone to Chinese national oil companies and also Petronas. The important part though has been that poor security has hindered development and also the contracts are not as lucrative as the vultures oil companies hoped for.

That's why the new imperial style works so well. In exchange for not having 100% control of their resources we don't have to send Americans there to drill, transport and constantly shoot the remaining natives. We give them the illusion of local control, they sell a little on the side to the (formerly American1) corporation's competitors to prove to their public autonomy exists. The local leaders blame their problems and failures on America, Israel, mercury being in capricorn, and other idiotic things to keep their people from realizing their rulers are their real enemies. While at the same time cooperating on just about everything the empire demands of them.

This deniability also helps keep the profits private while the corporations foist the costs of the war and occupation on the American tax payers (ie not the 1%).

1 - sorry I can't just ignore the multinationality of the plutocrats and their corporations. They are as American as the President of the Peoples Republic of China, even though the corporations have essentially stolen control the American political system from its citizens.

Well, the Bushes and the Saudi royal family run in the same circles. If the price of oil goes up (less secure because one of the sources, Iraq, is getting bombed/invaded, so speculators/OPEC raise the oil price), then the Saudi royal family makes money. So as long as someone at the top benefits, then it's really all good.

Oil was in the picture when we invaded; but IMHO we largely invaded in order to coerce Iraq in to the American financial system

Heard of this before, any citation on it ?

Disaster Capitalism in the book Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein

This doesn't even make sense. Why would we want to do that?

Baghdad lies between China and Europe on a trucking route, an old world center of commerce. Without it's participation undue influence was handed to Russia

the question is, is the current statis quo even worse or pretty much the same?

yes it sounds familiar, but here in the west we have institutionalized corruption so it's all ok.

hmm, ok, well

Mission Accomplished....

I was just over in the Middle East teaching. My Iraqi students all thought it was better with Saddam than now. They have a little more freedom now, but less security.