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article imageOp-Ed: Reports conflict about ban on U.S. commando raids in Yemen

By Ken Hanly     Feb 8, 2017 in World
Aden - According to the New York Times, Yemen withdrew permission for the U.S. to mount Special Operations ground missions against terrorist groups in Yemen.
The article claims that the action was a result of anger at civilian casualties incurred in the first raid authorized by President Donald Trump. The mission caused many civilian casualties as well as killing a number of Al Qaeda fighters. One Navy Seal was killed and three wounded and a helicopter destroyed. The eight-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki was among the children killed.
The White House continues to call the attack a success. There have been many reports that suggest that the attack failed in many ways including the main aim of the raid to capture or kill a prominent Al Qaeda leader al-Rimni. He consequently released an audio clip calling Trump a fool. If there were actually a suspension of the commando operations this would be a setback for Trump who wants to carry out more aggressive warfare against Islamic militants such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)
Many Yemenis are opposed even to drone strikes. As long ago as December 2015, the Yemeni parliament voted against drone strikes. However, the U.S.-backed president Mansur Hadi approves them and they did not stop. Hadi is disliked my many in Yemen even those who are opposed to the Houthi rebels. Some Sunni tribes ally themselves with Al Qaeda groups to fight the Houthis. However, AQAP also opposes the Hadi government. Hadi may have decided to impose the ban in order to increase his political popularity. However, more recent reports deny that their is any ban at all. Both the Washington Examiner and the Press TV deny that a ban has been imposed.
Sean Spicer, White House press secretary denied that the raid was intended to capture an specific Al Qaeda leader saying: “The raid that was conducted in Yemen was an intelligence-gathering raid.That’s what it was. It was highly successful. It achieved the purpose it was going to get, save the loss of life that we suffered and the injuries that occurred.” In its report the New York Times noted that neither the Yemenis nor the White House publicly announced the suspension. I suspect what happened is that when Hadi suggested he would declare a suspension he was promptly informed who was boss. Hadi is a joint production of the Gulf Cooperation Council(GCC) and the U.S. in effect. He would have been gone long ago had his government not been able to go into exile in Saudi Arabia. With the military support of Saudi Arabian and GCC allies the Hadi government has been able to return and set up government in Aden but it is still engaged in costly civil war with the Houthi"s who control much of the north. The Houthis are supported by Iran. The U.S. supports the Saudis with refueling, intelligence, and a supply of weapons. It has carried on drone attacks on Al Qaeda(AQAP) and the Islamic State(IS) all throughout the civil war. Many argue that the attacks simply serve as a good recruiting tool for AQAP and IS. The International Crisis Group said: “The use of U.S. soldiers, high civilian casualties and disregard for local tribal and political dynamics, plays into AQAP’s narrative of defending Muslims against the West and could increase anti-U.S. sentiment and with it AQAP’s pool of recruits.”
Yemenis are also angry that Trump has included Yemen on his travel ban list. The Times article claims that the ban did not extend to drone attacks or to U.S. advisers providing intelligence for the fight against the Houthis. Some Yemeni officials claim that the US did not fully consult with the Yemenis before the operation. Foreign Minister Abdul Al Mekhlafi condemned the raid on his twitter account calling them "extrajudicial killings". The U.S. may not have consulted widely on the raid in case AQAP might receive advance notice of the raid.
A recent article quotes Yemen Foreign Minister Abdul al-Meckhlafi as saying: "Yemen continues to cooperate with the United States and continues to abide by all the agreements." He said that Yemen was involved in talks with US officials about the raid but that no ban on commando raids had been issued. Press TV an Iranian news outlet confirmed the denial. The outlet quotes a Yemeni official in Aden as saying: “It’s not true what’s being said." It also repeated the claim that the Yemeni Foreign Minister had denied the ban.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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