Tag Archives: Yemen

Lessons and Propaganda From the Botched Raid on Yemen, by William J. Astore

The Trump administration has yet to offer a convincing rationale for why US special forces are in Yemen, or why the US is aiding Saudi Arabia in its war on that impoverished and starving country. From William J. Astore at antiwar.com:

Nora al-Awlaki, 8 years old, killed in the Yemen raid

Nora al-Awlaki, 8 years old, killed in the Yemen raid

The Trump administration’s first “kinetic” military action, last weekend’s raid on Yemen that killed a Navy SEAL as well as fifteen women and children, was an operational failure. Aggravating that failure has been the aggressive propaganda spin applied by the White House. According to White House spokesman Sean Spicer, the operation was a major success:

“Knowing that we killed an estimated 14 AQAP [Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] members and that we gathered an unbelievable amount of intelligence that will prevent the potential deaths or attacks on American soil – is something that I think most service members understand, that that’s why they joined the service.”

Later, Spicer doubled down, accusing Senator John McCain (and other critics of the raid) of defaming the dead Navy SEAL when he suggested the raid had been something less than a towering success. McCain, Spicer said, owed the dead SEAL an apology.

Trump himself then joined the fray, accusing John McCain in a tweet of emboldening the enemy and suggesting he’d “been losing so long he doesn’t know how to win anymore.”

Yet, by Spicer’s logic, President Trump himself owes an apology to all U.S. troops killed in the Iraq and Afghan wars, since Trump has criticized these wars as either unnecessary or botched in execution. Recall here that Trump said he was against the Iraq invasion in 2003, but once the US invaded, he said the US government botched it by not taking Iraq’s oil, which, he claimed, would have prevented the rise of ISIS.

To continue reading: Lessons and Propaganda From the Botched Raid on Yemen

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Trump’s Hard Line on Iran Will Give Saudis Free Hand in Yemen, by Gareth Porter

Why has the US repeatedly condemned, sanctioned, and isolated Iran, while Saudi Arabia gets a free pass doing the exact same things for which Iran stands accused? From Gareth Porter at antiwar.com:

The Trump administration’s truculent warning last week that it was putting Iran “on notice” over its recent missile test and a missile strike on a Saudi warship off the coast of Yemen appears calculated to convince the American public that the current administration is going to be tougher on Iran than the Obama administration was.

However, despite the tough talk from National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and other senior officials, the new administration appears to be focused primarily on aligning US policy more closely with that of Saudi Arabia – especially in its war in Yemen and its broader conflict with Iran. The Saudis have been leading a coalition of Sunni Gulf regimes in bombing most of the Yemeni territory controlled by Houthi rebels since March 2015, with US support.

An unidentified senior administration official speaking at a February 1 press briefing, a transcript of which Truthout has obtained, indicated that, apart from economic sanctions, the administration was considering options “related to support for those that are challenging and opposing Iranian malign activity in the region” – meaning the Saudis and Israel.

During the briefing, the senior officials signaled clearly that the Trump administration will unconditionally support the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen. In response to the question of whether the administration was “reassessing” US support for the Saudi war in Yemen, the unnamed senior official answered with one word: “No.”

The Trump administration’s lack of public reservation about the indiscriminate Saudi-led bombing campaign, as well as its lack of interest in exerting pressure on the Saudis to end the war by accepting a compromise with the Houthis and the forces of former Yemeni president Saleh, significantly increases the likelihood that the Saudi bombing will continue indefinitely. That means that the food shortage that is killing thousands of Yemeni children will probably become far worse in the coming months.

To continue reading: Trump’s Hard Line on Iran Will Give Saudis Free Hand in Yemen

 

The Coming Clash With Iran, by Patrick J. Buchanan

The US picking a fight with Iran does not sound like noninterventionism. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

When Gen. Michael Flynn marched into the White House Briefing Room to declare that “we are officially putting Iran on notice,” he drew a red line for President Trump. In tweeting the threat, Trump agreed.

His credibility is now on the line.

And what triggered this virtual ultimatum?

Iran-backed Houthi rebels, said Flynn, attacked a Saudi warship and Tehran tested a missile, undermining “security, prosperity, and stability throughout the Middle East,” placing “American lives at risk.”

But how so?

The Saudis have been bombing the Houthi rebels and ravaging their country, Yemen, for two years. Are the Saudis entitled to immunity from retaliation in wars that they start?

Where is the evidence Iran had a role in the Red Sea attack on the Saudi ship? And why would President Trump make this war his war?

As for the Iranian missile test, a 2015 U.N. resolution “called upon” Iran not to test nuclear-capable missiles. It did not forbid Iran from testing conventional missiles, which Tehran insists this was.

Is the United States making new demands on Iran not written into the nuclear treaty or international law — to provoke a confrontation?

Did Flynn coordinate with our allies about this warning of possible military action against Iran? Is NATO obligated to join any action we might take?

Or are we going to carry out any retaliation alone, as our NATO allies observe, while the Israelis, Gulf Arabs, Saudis and the Beltway War Party, which wishes to be rid of Trump, cheer him on?

Bibi Netanyahu hailed Flynn’s statement, calling Iran’s missile test a flagrant violation of the U.N. resolution and declaring, “Iranian aggression must not go unanswered.” By whom, besides us?

The Saudi king spoke with Trump Sunday. Did he persuade the president to get America more engaged against Iran?

To continue reading: The Coming Clash With Iran

Yemen: America’s Shame, by Justin Raimondo

Most Americans couldn’t find Yemen even if told it was on the Arabian peninsula (many of them couldn’t find the Arabian peninsula). For anyone interested in finding out about the most obscure nation on Trump’s seven, here is both a good background article and an account that should shame the US government, if that were possible. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Why are we helping the Saudis to commit war crimes?

The ridiculous truth is that the imposition of a travel ban on Yemen – in addition to six other countries – has evoked more anguish than America’s major role in making that country unlivable. Here’s a very sad story about the plight of a young Yemeni girl who is being blocked from entering the US – but where is the outrage about what’s being done to her homeland with our tax dollars and in our name?

And make no mistake: the Saudi invasion of Yemen on behalf of a “government” that has no popular support and was kicked out of office by its disgusted citizens is one of the worst atrocities in recent history. More than 25,000 have died, many more have been grievously wounded, and the country is being swept by famine. The result has been the empowerment of America’s worst enemies – and by that I mean not just al-Qaeda.

Yemen has been in turmoil since the end of the cold war, with a many-sided civil war making normal life nearly impossible. Yet things have gotten much worse since the 2015 Saudi invasion, which aims at installing a puppet government and crushing the Houthi insurgency in the north. The Saudis and Yemeni government troops have generally ignored al-Qaeda, which controls a swathe of territory in the southeast, instead concentrating their efforts on bombing civilians in Houthi areas.

To continue reading: Yemen: America’s Shame

 

Riptide, by Robert Gore

If President Trump is to put America first, he must end its offensive wars.

For most of human history, the costs of waging offensive war have been roughly equivalent to the costs of defending against it. Since World War II, costs have shifted dramatically in favor of defense. Ironically, during this time the US has waged more offensive wars than any other nation. Although members of the military recognize the shift, it is seldom acknowledged by the civilian command structure. Even those who understand generally assume that greater US resources and wealth make up for the cost disparity.

In football or basketball, if your team has the ball, you are the offense. In warfare, if you are in another country, you are the offense. An invasion, difficult as it may be, is invariably the easy part. Anyone who knew military history winced when President George W. Bush gave his 2003 Iraq victory speech, Mission Accomplished banner stretched behind him on an upper deck of an aircraft carrier. If, to give the neoconservatives their stated case, the mission was to convert Iraq to a thriving, peaceful, multicultural democracy, fourteen years later that mission remains unaccomplished, the prospect just as remote as it was before the US invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein.

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The US “victory” in Iraq created winners and losers. Previously marginalized Shiites who formed the new government were the winners. Ousted Sunni Ba’athists who had stocked Hussein’s government and military were the losers, and set about upending the new order. In their war against the US and its newly installed Iraqi government, they had every advantage defenders have playing on their home territory. They knew the territory and the language, drew on local Sunni support, blended in with the “civilian” population, and used women and children operationally, pages straight from the Viet Cong playbook.

Which brings up “asymmetric warfare,” modern code for the perpetual invader lament that the other side doesn’t play by the rules. (Dating back to at least the American revolution, when British formations were decimated by “terrorist” revolutionaries hiding behind trees.) In the Middle East there are no enemy tank brigades, regular combat units, air forces, or navies in which the US can engage decisive battles a la World War II. It’s guerrilla warfare: the enemy plants IEDs or land mines; shoots down expensive tanks and helicopters with shoulder-fired missiles; inflicts random terror and mayhem; petrifies opponents with beheadings and torture; amasses for battles in which they fiercely fight and often inflict costly losses, and if they ultimately lose, a month or two later return to contest the same territory with the same ferocity.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the home field defenders have staying power; it’s their country and they aren’t going anywhere. As Vietnam and the Middle East demonstrate, invaders get tired of wasting blood and treasure. Their populations reject the government’s tired assurances of just-around-the-corner victory and political support evaporates. A substantial portion of the population the invaders are supposedly liberating doesn’t support them. The governments that host the invaders are invariably corrupt puppets. The guerrillas may never win a straight-up battle (the US has batted a thousand in straight-up battles in Vietnam and the Middle East), but if they inflict enough pain, the invaders eventually leave.

It is a mistake to assume the outcomes of US interventions are different from the real, as opposed to the stated, intentions of their proponents. The military and intelligence sector has become the biggest annex of the welfare state, enjoying the advantage that most people don’t even realize it feeds from that trough. US military and intelligence budgets are huge in comparison to other nations’, far in excess of what would be necessary if the “defense” function was limited to defense of our country, and President Trump has vowed to increase them. Long-lasting offensive wars are the ultimate crony socialist boondoggle and jobs program.

Then there are the lucrative opportunities interventions present for corruption, extortion, theft, and other criminal enterprises (US drug dealing was rife during the Vietnam war). That the military-industrial-intelligence complex is willing to sacrifice the lives of US soldiers and innocent civilian populations to line their own pockets tells you all you need to know about its morality. That’s an ethic compatible with residence on Death Row, not a free, peaceful, and just society.

In his first few days in office, President Trump has perhaps avoided one interventionist pitfall, but not another.

First, as I wrote about in my last column, the initial draft of the executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Attacks From Foreign Nationals” contained a section raising the possibility of creating “safe zones” in Syria. The final version omits this dangerous plan. This is significant: what it means is that the Trump administration is going to resist calls by the interventionist media to “do something” about the Syrian civil war and is opting instead to keep its footprint in the region lighter than the War Party would prefer. “Safe zones” are off the table, at least for now.

Justin Raimondo, “Spare Us the Theatrics,” (1/30/17, antiwar.com

This is encouraging, but if Trump does disengage from the Middle East, it’s likely to be two steps forward, one step back. The administration has still not entirely renounced the Syrian safe zone idea. And the first US soldier killed on Trump’s watch was with a special forces commando team in Yemen, on an operation Trump authorized. What are special forces doing in Yemen? It’s a country of no strategic importance to the US embroiled in essentially a Shiite-Sunni sectarian war, the local factions serving as proxies for Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia (to which the US has supplied billions worth of armaments). The US is grabbing the same tar baby on which it’s stuck in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia

Those last five countries (and Yemen and Iran), are on Trump’s executive order banning travel by their citizens to the US. In the weird world of John McCain and his neoconservative cohorts, the ban will stoke terrorism against the US, but commando raids, bombs, and drone strikes are met with no-blowback equanimity by the raided, bombed, and droned. The thousands protesting the ban have shown a similar unconcern for all the non-immigrating victims, alive or dead, of US offensive wars. These wars were perhaps questioned by some of the protestors when they were Bush’s, but endorsed or silently acquiesced to when they were Obama’s. They have left the US caught in the riptide of a historic shift in the relative costs of offensive and defensive warfare.

The only way to avoid being carried further out to sea is to quit waging offensive wars. The marker of his foreign policy success will be the extent to which President Trump frees the US from its many tar babies and avoids getting stuck on new ones. If he fails and adds to the blood and treasure the US has already lost, he will have failed to put America first.

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After Warning US With “Retaliation” Iran Plans Russian Fighter Jet Purchase, Naval Bases In Syria, Yemen, by Tyler Durden

The US relationship with Iran will be one of the trickier foreign policy issues Donald Trump will face. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

As tensions once again grow between Iran and the US, with both countries unsure if Donald Trump will extend Barack Obama’s landmark “nuclear deal” which in January 2016 lifted Iran’s sanctions (imposed previously by the same Obama regime) and allowed Iran to export three times as much crude oil as the country did one year ago, Iran has fallen back to the same diplomacy that marked the darker periods of diplomacy between Tehran and Washington.

As a result, earlier this week Iran explicitly warned the Trump administration, that extending U.S. sanctions on Iran for 10 years would breach the Iranian nuclear agreement, with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei warning that Tehran would retaliate if the sanctions are approved. The U.S. House of Representatives re-authorized last week the Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, for 10 years. The law was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in Iran’s energy industry and deter Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Iran measure will expire at the end of 2016 if it is not renewed. The House bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law.

Iran and world powers concluded the nuclear agreement, also known as JCPOA, last year. It imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in return for easing sanctions that have badly hurt its economy. “The current U.S. government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions,” Khamenei said, addressing a gathering of members of the Revolutionary Guards, according to his website. “The latest is extension of sanctions for 10 years, that if it happens, would surely be against JCPOA, and the Islamic Republic would definitely react to it.”

To continue reading: After Warning US With “Retaliation” Iran Plans Russian Fighter Jet Purchase, Naval Bases In Syria, Yemen

 

U.S. Fires Cruise Missiles Into Yemen in Serious Escalation of American Involvement in Another Pointless War, by Michael Krieger

Another perpetual war, make-work project for the military: subdue the Yemeni rebellion. This should go about as well as similar projects in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Lebanon, and Libya. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

The geopolitical situation across the world continues to deteriorate to a very worrisome degree.

The New York Times reported the following earlier today:

WASHINGTON — An American warship stationed off the coast of Yemen fired cruise missiles on Thursday at radar installations that the Pentagon said had been used by Yemeni insurgents to target another American warship in two missile attacks in the last four days.

The strikes against the Houthi rebels marked the first time the United States has become involved militarily in the civil war between the Houthis, an indigenous Shiite group with loose connections to Iran, and the Yememi government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni nations. The strikes were approved by President Obama, said Peter Cook, the Pentagon spokesman, who warned of more to come if American ships were fired upon again.

“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” the Pentagon said in a statement. “The United States will respond to any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic.”

Until Thursday, the Obama administration had tried to navigate a treacherous course in Yemen, publicly pushing for a peace deal while quietly providing military support to a Saudi Arabia-led bombing campaign against the rebels since last year. Yet the main goal of the administration has often appeared to be keeping the United States from being dragged too deeply into a conflict that has shown little signs of abating, and instead continues to grow deadlier.

Really? You could’ve fooled me.

That changed in the past four days with two separate missile attacks on an American destroyer, the Mason, that was sailing off the coast of Yemen in the southern end of the Red Sea. In both the first attack, which took place on Sunday, and the second one on Wednesday evening, missiles were fired from areas under Houthi control.

Oh please. Let’s not act as if our navy ships are just sitting there on the coast handing out candy to maritime wanderers. As I noted in a post earlier this week, U.S. Government May Be Guilty of War Crimes Due to Support for Saudi War in Yemen:

The Obama administration went ahead with a $1.3 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia last year despite warnings from some officials that the United States could be implicated in war crimes for supporting a Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen that has killed thousands of civilians, according to government documents and the accounts of current and former officials.

U.S. government lawyers ultimately did not reach a conclusion on whether U.S. support for the campaign would make the United States a “co-belligerent” in the war under international law, four current and former officials said. That finding would have obligated Washington to investigate allegations of war crimes in Yemen and would have raised a legal risk that U.S. military personnel could be subject to prosecution,at least in theory.

Since March 2015, Washington has authorized more than $22.2 billion in weapons sales to Riyadh, much of it yet to be delivered. That includes a $1.29 billion sale of precision munitions announced in November 2015 and specifically meant to replenish stocks used in Yemen.

U.S. refueling and logistical support of Riyadh’s air force – even more than the arms sales – risked making the United States a party to the Yemen conflict under international law, three officials said.

To continue reading: U.S. Fires Cruise Missiles Into Yemen in Serious Escalation of American Involvement in Another Pointless War