Focus: The Yemen Raid (Part 2) - Feb 5, 2017
The Yemen raid was a tragedy, and not by accident. Mistakes were made during the conception, planning, decision making and execution of the mission. Trump was ill-advised and, I guess, deeply regrets to have approved the mission. Civilians, including children, were killed and an American soldier died. It was also costly because multiple units were deployed; Harrier jets, Apache helicopter gunships and drones were involved, and a a $70 million MV-22 Osprey destroyed. The fact that an estimated 14 Al Qaeda members were killed does not make a difference.
The core question is: Do this kind of raids prove effective in defeating Al Qaeda in Yemen? The International Crisis Group says no: "The raid ignores the local political context, to the detriment of an effective counter-terrorism strategy. The tribesmen targeted had links to AQAP/AAS, yet many, if not most of them, were motivated less by AQAP’s international agenda, including targeting the West, and more by a local power struggle." Through the use of social policies Al Qaeda in Yemen has embedded with local tribes who are armed, well-organized and able to collect intelligence and detect drone activities. The US commando found itself surrounded and shot by all sides, to extricate itself called aerial support which, according to the Pentagon, triggered civilian casualties. Raids are perceived by the locals as an unwanted foreign military interference and "the high number of civilian casualties ... are deeply inflammatory and breed anti-American resentment across the Yemeni political spectrum that works to the advantage of AQAP,”
An effective strategy to defeat Al Qaeda in Yemen must address the internal civil war which created a power vacuum. US should stop siding with the Saudi who are conducting an indiscriminate bombing campaign destroying residential areas, hospitals and crowded places. US should act as a neutral peacemaker promoting a negotiated political settlement of the dispute between the Hadi government and the Huthi/Saleh alliance. It is worth to revisit the "Kerry plan” which called for the formation of a national unity government and offered security guarantees to both parties. The conflict will not be resolved by a military victory. It’s the art of diplomacy.