Yemen is a key place to gather intelligence on Al Qaeda. It is a country in distress. Its government is not in charge. It is a dangerous place. Houthi rebels control much of the country. They are allies of Al Qaeda. The U.S. pulled out its advisors in 2015.
President Obama was in office when the planning for a raid began. The raid was to break up an Al Qaeda’s command center in a rural part ofYemen. The famous U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6 was in charge of carrying out the plan. Saudi commandos took part. Obama delayed the plan until conditions were right.They did not to turn out be right until after Trump took office.
Trump saw the plan for the raid five days after he took office. It was at a dinner in the White House attended the military leaders. Trump’s top aides were also there. One report said that Trump approved the mission “fairly quickly.”The Pentagon did not comment on what Trump said.
The raid was not a success. An observer said everything that could go wrong did go wrong. For example, the rebels knew they were coming. A gun battle started. A huge firefight took place. The Al Qaeda fighters used schools, children, a mosque and women as shields. Women took up automatic weapons and surprised the raiding party. They started firing at the commandos.
Al Qaeda gunmen killed a Navy Seal, ‘Ryan’ Owens. There were militant and civilian casualties. The death of the civilians brought criticism. American allies condemned the effort. Everyone is asking if the people at the dinner asked the right questions. Was the intelligence accurate?
Another failure was the crash of a costly Osprey helicopter. U.S. fire destroyed it to keep it out of enemy hands.
So far, no known facts show that the raid was worth the losses. The Pentagon is looking at the information it got. With his usual spin, President Trump said the operation was a success.
Everybody is walking the raid back. Did the Trump people want to show that action was their style? Trump’s aides have said that in the past, planning took too long. It was a hallmark of President Obama to take his time when Americans were not in danger.
A dead sailor; a lost chopper; new enemies. No clear gain.
Source: The New York Times February 1, 2017