Posted by Wordsmith on 26 March, 2015 at 12:04 pm. 6 comments already!


America’s ally in Yemen is gone. Its special forces have been evacuated. A country touted by the president as a counterterror ‘model’ is poised to be an ISIS and al Qaeda playland.

The violence in Yemen entered a new phase Thursday: A regional proxy war, with Saudi Arabia leading a coalition of 10 nations in air strikes against Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran and have forced Yemen’s deposed, U.S-supported president to flee the country. While Yemen had been teetering on the verge of a civil war, foreign intervention, chiefly by Iran’s adversaries in the region, signaled the coming of a conventional military campaign that threatened to engulf the tumultuous region.

The path ahead for the United States, which for years has launched counterterrorism operations and drone strikes on Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen, looked grim. The last U.S. forces in Yemen pulled out earlier this week, leaving the Obama administration with a dramatically diminished capability to combat al Qaeda and ISIS militants who have rooted themselves in the war-torn country and pose a threat to the West, experts and lawmakers said.

In an interview, Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Daily Beast that unfolding events in Yemen portended a dire future for U.S. policy across the region.

“We’re totally out. Forward looking, this is what the region is going to look like if we don’t take care of al Qaeda, we don’t take care of ISIL, we don’t take care of Iran’s involvement with the Houthis,” Burr said, using the government’s preferred acronym for the so-called Islamic State. “Yemen is going to be, in the president’s own words, a ‘model,’ [but] not of success, [instead] of absolute failure of our foreign policy.”

Burr was referring to prior public assurances from President Obama that despite an escalating crisis in Yemen and waning U.S. influence there following the upheaval of the Arab Spring, counterterrorism operations were still a model of success and would inform future missions.

“It’s a big setback,” Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer with extensive experience in the Middle East, said of the rapidly deteriorating security situation in Yemen, which now more than ever seems in the grips of an outright civil war. “Without both a U.S. presence on the ground or a reliable ally, it will be much more difficult to target al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” Riedel told The Daily Beast, referring to the terror group’s Yemeni branch—the one that U.S. intelligence officials say is most capable of attacking in Europe and the United States. “Much of eastern Yemen will be a chaotic no-man’s-land where al Qaeda can operate.”

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