Thursday, January 28, 2010

US military involvement in Yemen - keep an eye out!

Excellent report from Dana Priest in the WaPo - that US military and intelligence (specifically, several dozen troops from the Joint Special Operations Command) are "deeply involved" in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops.  According to Priest, these guys aren't actually out doing raids.  Still, it's one more "Greater Middle East" theater where US troops are now on the ground.  How this spins out over the months to come bears watching.  But Priest makes an excellent point - one that (again) is going to undercut Obama's already shredded credibility as an advocate of democracy in the region:
The far-reaching U.S. role could prove politically challenging for Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, who must balance his desire for American support against the possibility of a backlash by tribal, political and religious groups whose members resent what they see as U.S. interference in Yemen. . . .

Republican lawmakers and former vice president Richard B. Cheney have sought to characterize the new president as soft on terrorism after he banned the harsh interrogation methods permitted under Bush and announced his intention to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Obama has rejected those two elements of Bush's counterterrorism program, but he has embraced the notion that the most effective way to kill or capture members of al-Qaeda and its affiliates is to work closely with foreign partners, including those that have feeble democracies, shoddy human rights records and weak accountability over the vast sums of money Washington is giving them to win their continued participation in these efforts.

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