From jihad to the stars and stripes

Tariq Alhomayed, editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, has been reflecting on that bizarre incident (reported here last week) when Tariq al-Fadhli, self-appointed leader of Yemen's southern separatist movement, hoisted an American flag at his home in Abyan while sounds of The Star-Spangled Banner drifted through the air.

Alhomayed writes:

At a time that religious fatwas are being issued in Sana'a stating that Jihad will be declared against the US should it intervene in Yemen against the al-Qaeda organisation, Tariq al-Fadli, the man who fought a jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan in the eighties, is flying the American flag over his home in southern Yemen.

... the entire issue is one of political opportunism and power struggle, and so it seems that loyalties in Yemen are seasonal. Therefore we see al-Fadli, who was always proud of his jihad in Afghanistan, a man who fought for Sana'a against the south during the Yemeni civil war, losing no time in joining the southern movement, and flying the American flag over his home in order to demonstrate his innocence of the accusations made against him by the government that he is cooperating with the al-Qaeda organisation. Al-Fadli has forsaken his former comrades in Afghanistan in the same manner that he has forsaken northern Yemen.

I often disagree with Alhomayed's columns but I think he's right about this. Asharq Al-Awsat has also published an interview with Fadli where he talks about al-Qaeda and violence in the south.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 8 February 2010.