After President Donald Trump’s first raid ended with at least 30 civilians and a member of Seal Team Six dead as well as a village left severely damaged, Yemen has pulled permission for the U.S. military to conduct ground operations against terror suspects on its territory, according to a report from CNN. That is, in short, not good.
The U.S. military would have to secure its permission first before conducting future operations, as Yemen government officials told CNN. One of the officials, who spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity, said that Yemen did not want to lose America as an ally,“but their actions and killing of innocent civilians are putting us in the hot seat in front of our people.”
What’s worse is that one of the sources said its military officials weren’t aware the raid was taking place:
That’s what happens when a mission goes wrong. From the intelligence we have, conducting a raid was the wrong option and failure was written all over it. The only side that gained is al Qaeda.
While White House officials said the primary goal of the raid was to gather intelligence, military officials told CNN on Monday that Qassim al-Rimi, head of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was also a target. Women and children including al-Rimi’s 8-year-old daughter, Nawar Anwar al-Awlaki, however, were the ones hit.
Another setback this suspension in Yemen presents is that it hampers the U.S. military’s ability to fight Al Qaeda’s growing presence in the country, where an ongoing civil war is causing political instability.
Malcolm Nance, executive director of the Terror Asymmetric Project and retired U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officer, told Foxtrot Alpha that the raid’s non-combatant casualties reminded him of Trump’s 2015 vow to kill terrorists’ families. He says that number of civilian deaths is unusually high and that something more sinister may be at play.
“The fact that this was a hard house with the wives of these people, my first though was they have removed the rules of engagement on civilians,” Nance said. “And they have added that rule of engagement, just like Trump promised. ‘We will kill the families of terrorists.’”
Nance isn’t the only one who recalls Trump’s vow.
J.M. Berger, a fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism—The Hague, told the Daily Beast that Nawar’s death may convince al Qaeda’s to refocus on the United States, “which had taken a backseat to more local conflicts”:
“This situation, which would be terrible under any circumstances, is tremendously aggravated by President Trump’s campaign promise to target the families of terrorists,” Berger said. “While I would hope U.S. military personnel would disobey an illegal order to intentionally kill civilians, the fact that the president made that promise during the campaign means that people around the world will assume this was an intentional act.”
Another downside is that civilian deaths like the ones that took place in Yemen give al Qaeda material with which to recruit more terrorists, as the International Crisis Group wrote in a report after the raid:
The use of US 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-US sentiment and with it AQAP’s pool of recruits.
It also doesn’t help that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer clearly doesn’t appreciate how fucked up the botched raid was and what’s at stake now. During a press conference today, Spicer tried to divert attention from criticism of his boss for approving a shitty raid to exploiting the Seal Team Six member who died as a result.
“It was an absolute success, he said. “And I think any who would suggest it was not a success does a disservice to the life of chief Ryan Owens. He fought knowing what was at stake in that mission. And anyone who would suggest otherwise doesn’t fully appreciate how successful that mission was.”
Spicer is full of shit and everyone knows it, which is precisely why Yemen pulled the plug on special operations without their permission.