What passes for a government in Yemen has prohibited any more US special forces ground operations in their benighted country after a bungled raid left dozens of civilians dead and wounded last week.
According to The New York Times, which sourced the story to unnamed officials, “the suspension of commando operations is a setback for Mr. Trump, who has made it clear he plans to take a far more aggressive approach against Islamic militants.”
President Donald J. Trump launched the raid at the urging of his generals “without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.”
Rather than restraining the president, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, encouraged him to do what Barack Obama would not.
The resulting debacle, which took the life of a US Navy SEAL and an eight year-old American citizen, has understandably angered Yemenis and destabilized an already-fragile society. NYT:
The raid stirred immediate outrage among Yemeni government officials, some of whom accused the Trump administration of not fully consulting with them before the mission. Within 24 hours of the assault on a cluster of houses in a tiny village in mountainous central Yemen, the country’s foreign minister, Abdul Malik Al Mekhlafi, condemned the raid in a post on his official Twitter account as “extrajudicial killings.”
The star of ‘Celebrity Commander-in-Chief’ threw America’s best warriors, best allies, and most expensive aircraft straight into the teeth of prepared defenses, but couldn’t be bothered to watch his disaster unfold in the Situation Room.
It was emblematic of the Trump administration’s aggressive approach to Yemen. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn wants to devolve responsibility for high-risk operations from the White House to theater commanders, enlarging the war against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
But those plans ultimately hinged on Yemen’s cooperation, which is no longer forthcoming. NYT:
Mr. Trump will soon have to make a decision about the more general request by the Pentagon to allow more of such operations in Yemen without detailed, and often time-consuming, White House review. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump will allow that, or how the series of mishaps that marked his first approval of such an operation may have altered his thinking about the human and political risks of similar operations.
To be sure, American operations in Yemen have always produced varying levels of backlash. The government in Sanaa has prohibited drone strikes at times, with the first ban ending in 2010 after a Tomahawk missile attack on the town of Al Majallah killed 35 women and children. A 2014 rescue attempt of two hostages ended in failure with both men dead; it was the last time President Obama authorized a raid in Yemen.
Trump’s predecessor was far more analytical and skeptical, not to mention humble. This president prefers to delegate the details and the hard work, then claim credit for a great success — no matter how badly things turn out.
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