The first counterterror operation carried out under Donald Trump’s approval also brought about the first-known combat death under his presidency. Only a few more days passed before U.S. military officials revealed that everything went wrong in the ground operation. Now, the New York Times reveals that Yemen is so upset about the botched raid that they’ve shut down future U.S. ground ops in the country, even for counterterror purposes.
Despite the deaths of several non-combatants (including an 8-year-old American girl), the White House has maintained that the operation was “successful,” which isn’t anything new coming from the land of alternative facts. Meanwhile, U.S. military officials characterized the raid as ill-prepared, and Senator John McCain has slammed the entire operation as “a failure.” As for Yemen, the country has had suddenly had its fill of U.S. ground ops for the foreseeable future:
Angry at the civilian casualties incurred last month in the first commando raid authorized by President Trump, Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country, according to American officials. Grisly photographs of children apparently killed in the crossfire of a 50-minute firefight during the raid caused outrage in Yemen.
The suspension of commando operations is a setback for Mr. Trump, who has made it clear he plans to take a far more aggressive approach against Islamic militants. It also calls into question whether the Pentagon will receive permission from the president for far more autonomy in selecting and executing its counterterrorism missions in Yemen, which it sought, unsuccessfully, from President Barack Obama in the last months of his term.
All of this conflicting information also meets the recent revelation that the raid’s targeted Al-Qaeda leader is not only still alive but taunting Trump in audio messages. Although Sean Spicer continues to insist that the raid had no target and only meant to collect “intelligence,” this seems a little far fetched.
The NY Times does add that Yemen hasn’t specifically called out Trump while retracting ground permissions, but the timing speaks volumes. In addition, the outlet hints that this hastily approved operation reflects poorly on Trump’s decision-making skills, which are being observed across the globe. Meanwhile, The Independent has suggested that Trump was easily convinced to approve the raid after General James “Mad Dog” Mattis and other military officials called the operation a “game changer” (and something Obama would never do) in the war against terrorism.
Wouldn’t that be something? If this Yemen operation was simply the result of a new president trying to “one-up” his predecessor with some chest beating, it’s no wonder that that this raid — which the NY Times says was approved over the course of one dinner — may prove to be a wake-up call.