War number 4: Obama attacks Yemen!

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-05-2011
War number 4: Obama attacks Yemen!
Wed, 06-08-2011 - 10:52pm

Looks like our Nobel peace prize winner has started war #4. For a guy who doesn't like war, and hated Gitmo, he's been a study in contrasts. He has renewed the Patriot Act at least twice that I can recall. An act he opposed as a Senator. War seems to be his new passion.

Details of war #4 are hard to get, but here is a story about it


U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes

The Obama administration has intensified the American covert war in Yemen, exploiting a growing power vacuum in the country to strike at militant suspects with armed drones and fighter jets, according to American officials.

The acceleration of the American campaign in recent weeks comes amid a violent conflict in Yemen that has left the government in Sana, a United States ally, struggling to cling to power. Yemeni troops that had been battling militants linked to Al Qaeda in the south have been pulled back to the capital, and American officials see the strikes as one of the few options to keep the militants from consolidating power.

On Friday, American jets killed Abu Ali al-Harithi, a midlevel Qaeda operative, and several other militant suspects in a strike in southern Yemen. According to witnesses, four civilians were also killed in the airstrike. Weeks earlier, drone aircraft fired missiles aimed at Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who the United States government has tried to kill for more than a year. Mr. Awlaki survived.

The recent operations come after a nearly year-long pause in American airstrikes, which were halted amid concerns that poor intelligence had led to bungled missions and civilian deaths that were undercutting the goals of the secret campaign.

Officials in Washington said that the American and Saudi spy services had been receiving more information — from electronic eavesdropping and informants — about the possible locations of militants. But, they added, the outbreak of the wider conflict in Yemen created a new risk: that one faction might feed information to the Americans that could trigger air strikes against a rival group.

A senior Pentagon official, speaking only on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that using force against militants in Yemen was further complicated by the fact that Qaeda operatives have mingled with other rebels and antigovernment militants, making it harder for the United States to attack without the appearance of picking sides.

The American campaign in Yemen is led by the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, and is closely coordinated with the Central Intelligence Agency. Teams of American military and intelligence operatives have a command post in Sana, the Yemeni capital, to track intelligence about militants in Yemen and plot future strikes.

Concerned that support for the campaign could wane if the government of Yemen’s authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, were to fall, the United States ambassador in Yemen has met recently with leaders of the opposition, partly to make the case for continuing American operations. Officials in Washington said that opposition leaders have told the ambassador, Gerald M. Feierstein, that operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula should continue regardless of who wins the power struggle in Sana.

The extent of America’s war in Yemen has been among the Obama administration’s most closely guarded secrets, as officials worried that news of unilateral American operations could undermine Mr. Saleh’s tenuous grip on power. Mr. Saleh authorized American missions in Yemen in 2009, but placed limits on their scope and has said publicly that all military operations had been conducted by his own troops.

Mr. Saleh fled the country last week to seek medical treatment in Saudi Arabia after rebel shelling of the presidential compound, and more government troops have been brought back to Sana to bolster the government’s defense.

“We’ve seen the regime move its assets away from counterterrorism and toward its own survival,” said Christopher Boucek, a Yemen expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But as things get more and more chaotic in Yemen, the space for the Americans to operate in gets bigger,” he said.

But Mr. Boucek and others warned of a backlash from the American airstrikes, which over the past two years have killed civilians and Yemeni government officials. The benefits of killing one or two Qaeda-linked militants, he said, could be entirely eroded if airstrikes kill civilians and lead dozens of others to jihad.

Edmund J. Hull, ambassador to Yemen from 2001 to 2004 and the author of “High-Value Target: Countering Al Qaeda in Yemen,” called airstrikes a “necessary tool” but said that the United States had to “avoid collateral casualties or we will turn the tribes against us.”

Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen is believed by the C.I.A. to pose the greatest immediate threat to the United States, more so than even Qaeda’s senior leadership believed to be hiding in Pakistan. The Yemen group has been linked to the attempt to blow up a transatlantic jetliner on Christmas Day 2009 and last year’s plot to blow up cargo planes with bombs hidden inside printer cartridges.

Mr. Harithi, the militant killed on Friday, was an important operational figure in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and was believed to be one of those responsible for the group’s ascendance in recent years. According to people in Yemen close to the militant group, Mr. Harithi travelled to Iraq in 2003 and fought alongside Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian operative who led the Qaeda affiliate in Iraq until he was killed in an American strike in 2006. Mr. Harithi returned to Yemen in 2004, those close to the militants said, where he was captured, tried and imprisoned in 2006 but released three years later.

Even as senior administration officials worked behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia for a transitional government to take power in Yemen, a State Department spokesman on Wednesday called on the embattled government in Sana to remain focused on dealing with the rebellion and Qaeda militants.

“With Saleh’s departure for Saudi Arabia, where he continues to receive medical treatment, this isn’t a time for inaction,” said the spokesman, Mark Toner. “There is a government that remains in place there, and they need to seize the moment and move forward.”

Muhammad al-Ahmadi contributed reporting from Sana, Yemen, and Eric Schmitt and Scott Shane from Washington.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-18-2000
Thu, 06-09-2011 - 10:10am
Yemen government says 12 al-Qaida militants killed
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Government troops trying to recapture areas held by Islamic militants have killed 12 suspected al-Qaida members in the troubled southern province of Abyan, the Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The fighting comes amid fears of a breakdown of authority in the country as the regime is locked in an uneasy standoff with rebellious tribesmen in the capital, Sanaa, following the departure of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Yemeni leader, who has clung to power in the face of months of massive street protests, is in Saudi Arabia to treat wounds he suffered in a rocket attack against his compound in Sanaa.

The United States fears that this power vacuum will give freer rein to al-Qaida's branch in Yemen — one of the terror network's most active franchises, behind two attempted terror attacks on U.S. targets.

The militants were killed in gunbattles as government troops pressed toward the provincial capital of Zinjibar, which was seized by Islamic militants last week. The Defense Ministry said the 12 were killed in the Doves and Kod areas but gave no more details.

Provincial military officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to release the information, said three soldiers also were wounded.

On Tuesday, the Defense ministry said its troops killed at least 30 militants just outside Zinjibar.

The Yemeni government consistently claims that the militants in Abyan are connected to al-Qaida. But their true identity remains unclear because Yemen has numerous armed Islamic militants and not all are affiliated with the terror network.

The Obama administration has intensified the covert U.S. war in Yemen, hitting militant suspects with armed drones and fighter jets, The New York Times reported late Wednesday.

The report said Yemeni troops that had been battling militants linked to al-Qaida in the south of the impoverished country have been pulled back to the capital to support Saleh's regime.

American officials hope the strikes will help prevent militants from consolidating power.

A drone strike by U.S. special operations forces on May 5 targeted U.S.-born al-Qaida cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, but a malfunction caused rockets to miss him by a matter of minutes, two U.S. officials told The Associated Press. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

The recent operations come after a nearly yearlong pause in American airstrikes, which were halted amid concerns that poor intelligence had led to bungled missions and civilian deaths that were undercutting the goals of the secret campaign.

Saleh authorized secret American missions in Yemen in 2009 but placed limits on their scope and has said publicly that all military operations have been conducted by his own troops.

The military officials said drones believed to belong to the United States have over the past week intensified their sorties over Abyan and the nearby province of Shabwa. Both are suspected to host militants from al-Qaida.



iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
Thu, 06-09-2011 - 11:27am
Thank you for a factual article.


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2011
Thu, 06-09-2011 - 5:34pm
Are you saying that the New York Times doesn't print factual articles?
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-04-2011
Thu, 06-09-2011 - 6:27pm

And without Congressional approval.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
Thu, 06-09-2011 - 6:41pm
Interesting characterization of the operations. Since they're calling it both "covert" and "war", I see a contradiction in terms.

Where are you getting War IV? If you're talking about Libya, that's supposed to be a NATO-run operation now.

One can only hope that the Yemen op doesn't escalate/deteriorate into another Afghanistan. A power-vacuum in a country where Al Qaeda-in-the-Arabian-Peninsula has a strong presence, would not be a good thing.


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2011
Thu, 06-09-2011 - 8:09pm
Yeah, a NATO operation that is costing us broke taxpayers $40,000,000 a month. Possibly even more. Don't you find it weird that Obama didn't bother to get congressional approval for that? Even Bush did that! And his reasoning....because we cannot sit back and let a dictator slaughter his own people. Um....ok. I guess all those Syrians that were gunned down don't really matter.

We are either the policeman of the world, or we are not. Which is it?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
Thu, 06-09-2011 - 11:18pm

My opinion? No, we should not be considered enforcement officers of the world.

While it can be heartbreaking to see the suffering inflicted by tyrants on their people, the fact remains that our interventions tend to be like tar babies. Certainly that happened in Iraq.

That said, given the level of acrimony and disarray in Congress, getting its jockeying members to set aside partisanship and power ploys for the sake of judicious and balanced debating......not in the cards.

Last but not least, you do know that the there was a sizable contingent of conservatives who lambasted Obama for not reacting sooner, with greater force, in Libya. See:


iVillage Member
Registered: 06-07-2011
Fri, 06-10-2011 - 12:15am
Did you ever stop and think that Bush entered Iraq for the same reasons Obama bombed Lybia? Iraq was in clear violation of the U.N. Resolutions. However, Bush actually got congressional approval and many democrats voted for the war. At the time, they had to weigh the risk of inaction and according to all intelligence from all of our allies, Iraq had WMD. So action was taken.

There really isn't a whole lot of difference between the two, except Bush was 100 percent committed. Obama is not.
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2009
Fri, 06-10-2011 - 1:31am
I still don't believe that neither Bush or Cheney had the correct information before the invasion of Iraq. We were lied to. I didn't buy it even back then.

And I'm not happy with the bombings in Libya.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-03-2009
Fri, 06-10-2011 - 9:34am

I never made the mistake of seeing the invasion of Iraq as being anywhere near similar to the situation in Libya.