About 100 U.S. Special Operations Forces have been ordered to evacuate Yemen because of a dramatic increase in sectarian violence, sources told NBC News on Saturday.
The U.S. commandos, including Green Berets and Navy Seals, have been training Yemeni military forces in counterterrorism operations, but the Americans have not been involved in direct ground combat maneuvers against militants.
The move comes as al Qaeda fighters captured the capital of a southern Yemen province late Friday, leading to the deaths of about 20 soldiers, Reuters reported. Earlier, four suicide bombers hit a pair of crowded mosques in the capital of Sanaa, killing at least 137 people and injuring more than 300 others, officials said.
The American forces in Yemen have also been gathering intelligence to target al Qaeda-linked terrorists and other militants for U.S. airstrikes in the region.Now we have the government making a last stand in what it has declared the provisional capital of Aden:
The deposed president backed by the Obama administration and Saudi Arabia, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has emerged in Aden. Hadi declared the port city in the west to be the temporary capital of Yemen, and told Yemenis that the Houthis were agents of Iran. With Hadi in the mix — although without any indications of military strength — that makes three separate groups vying for supremacy in a country that had been at least manageable until Obama and the Saudis decided to push out Saleh, who’s now backing the Houthis.Max Boot tweets: "All US SOF evacuating Yemen. Huge win for AQAP, huge defeat for US. How many foreign policy disasters can we handle?" Well, Barack Obama and his laughably-named "national security" team are determined that we should find out.
It’s a mess now, another failed state directly across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, the White House’s other supposed success story for its counterterrorism efforts.
For this story just keeps getting worse: some $500 million dollars in American supplied weapons have been captured by “Iranian-backed rebels or al-Qaeda”. So, we are basically giving weapons to our enemies. Brilliant!
The Obama administration, of course, did not see this coming:
The Obama administration's senior counterterrorism official acknowledged Thursday that the U.S. intelligence community was surprised by the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Yemen.Of course Obama could not see this coming. How can you expect a CIA that actually employed the likes of Marie Harf as an analyst to be good or even semi-competent at its job?
Nick Rasmussen, who directs the National Counterterrorism Center, told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Yemen's American-funded army failed to oppose advancing Houthi rebels in the same way the U.S.-supported Iraqi military refused to fight Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants last year.
What happened in Iraq with the onslaught of ISIS "happened in Yemen" on "a somewhat smaller scale," he said. "As the Houthi advances toward Sanaa took place... they weren't opposed in many places.... The situation deteriorated far more rapidly than we expected."
Rasmussen made the admission under questioning by Sen. Roy Blunt, a Missouri Republican who noted that President Barack Obama recently touted Yemen as a success. Now, it's a "total disaster," Blunt said.
So, for the geostrategically challenged, this means Islamists can now interdict the Red Sea from Somalia and from Yemen. Brilliant!
Richard Fernandez tries to make sense of it all -- and can't:
Trying to make sense of Barack Obama’s foreign policy has become something like a branch of Kremlinology. Opinions vary between whether the president has either cleverly set Iran against Riyadh or he has let loose all the devils in hell. [...]Undoubtedly, the Obama administration will tell us the same thing it always tells us whenever Obama's foreign policy blows up in our faces -- again:
There’s no score keeping system in which Obama is making points unless that scoring system is secret and we’re just too dumb to figure it out.
Losing Iraq, Libya, Yemen; being humiliated by Assad; and having the Taliban call the tune seems to matter not a whit to the president. Like the Black Knight in the Monty Python movie who can endure having his limbs lopped off, these events are apparently costless to the president, who serenely proclaims himself as “winning” every round though nobody knows what the game is; nobody that is, except him.
Did America just lose everything it gave Iraq? Everything it gave Yemen? Every effort it expended in Libya?
One gets the sense that Aden could fall to the Houthi tomorrow or Damascus be overrun the week after without shaking his confidence in the least. Whatever happens, Obama is always only one step from some final, invisible victory. He is laboring toward some deal with Tehran, like a pilgrim stumbling toward the Throne of God yet which to unschooled eyes seems like a gewgaw in a box of Crackerjack for which he is being charged an arm and a leg by some canny ayatollahs.
There must be something there and foreign policy gurus strain their eyes and cudgel their brains trying to figure out what it is. Yet if we cast our eyes forward, it would not be surprising if the day after his stupendous “deal” nothing whatsoever changes except that Tehran goes on cheating. The great roll of drum fanfare will have culminated a low whistle like air being let out of a balloon.
Was that it? Yup. The one thing we can be certain of is that he would take that lack of evident benefit on the day after with total equanimity, as if surprised to think anyone but rubes should want a material outcome from his diplomacy.