US raid in Yemen

US raid in Yemen

On 28 Jan 17, US Special Forces carried out a raid in central Yemen, targeting the house of a suspected Al Qaeda leader. Initially, US military reported that 14 militants and one US Navy commando were killed. However, later US authorities acknowledged that several civilians may have also been killed.

Can the humanitarian tragedy still be averted? 

On 28 Jan 17, US Special Forces carried out a raid in central Yemen, targeting the house of a suspected Al Qaeda leader. Initially, US military reported that 14 militants and one US Navy commando were killed. However, later US authorities acknowledged that several civilians may have also been killed.

 Many photographs were posed on Social Media of alleged victims of the US raid. Apparently the family of Anwar al-Aulaki, an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist, who was killed in a drone strike in 2011, were also amongst the victims.

 What happened?

The clandestine raid was the first operation authorised by US President Donald Trump. US sources suggest that it was intended for acquisition of intelligence about AQAP, by capturing live human sources. The Seal Team 6 force was dropped by helicopters but soon got involved in a fierce fight with militants. Faced with an adverse situation, aerial support from the gunships were called in. Four US Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey military helicopters were used in the raid and one was apparently downed by the militants. The engagement reportedly lasted 50 minutes, after which the Seal Team was successfully extracted with the body of the slain Navy commando. US Military sources say the force was also engaged by female militants, as well.

 Why was the Raid Conducted?

It was also reported that this operation was planned months earlier, during the Barak Obama Presidency but handed over to the Trump administration. Hundreds of Yemen nationals have been killed in drone strikes, during the Obama administration. American drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Yemen have faced international criticism because of inadvertent collateral damage. The American movie, ‘The Good Kill’, directed by Andrew Niccol calls to question the morality of executing no-risk drone strikes, with little accountability. If the Yemen raid with US boots on ground, were intended as an alternative to done strikes, it was a poor beginning for the new administration.

What is the UN Perspective?

The UN has repeatedly pointed out that the crisis in Yemen, is unfortunately being overshadowed by wars in Syria and Iraq. Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the region and since 2015, being devastated by civil war; waged between forces loyal to an ousted government supported by Saudi Arabia & US and those allied to the Houthis, allegedly supported by Iran.

 Yemen has a population of 27 millions of whom 3.3 million (12%) have been internally displaced, 14.1 million (52%) are food insecure and 19.4 million (72%) have no access to safe drinking water or sanitation.

 Assessment

It appears that Yemen has unfortunately become a victim of power-play between Saudi Arabia and Iran. It is unlikely that the proxy war will be resolved through a bloody civil war. It may therefore be best, if world powers and regional powers, actually left Yemen to their own plight.

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