Sunday, May 27, 2012
Leon Panetta: U.S. can deal with spreading militancy in Yemen without boots on the ground.
Everything the U.S. is involved in within Yemen is always described as related to Al Qaeda. While some conflict involves other militant groups they are described as Al Qaeda linked or Al Qaeda affiliated as soon as they come into conflict with the Hadi government. As soon as they are attacked by U.S. drones they do become very much of the same disposition as Al Qaeda even though before their concern was local. The result is that Al Qaeda is said to be spreading throughout Yemen. In effect the U.S. by its own actions contributes to this spread of Islamic militancy in Yemen.
Leon Panetta says that Al Qaeda's spreading presence in Yemen can be handled by targeted operations rather than boots on the ground. Of course Panetta does not add that there are already special forces on the ground in Yemen. In many cases they are active in directing Yemeni forces and providing information for drone attacks. In one event a group were attacked and at least one wounded.
Panetta defended the use of drones as the most precise weapons the U.S. has in the campaign against Al Qaeda. Yet we know that some attacks have been not precise at all. The earliest attack killed almost all women and children in a remote mountain village.At that period the U.S. had the Yemeni government claim responsibility even though it was later proved to be by the Americans. Another attack killed a tribal elder who was traveling to negotiate with a militant. Of course Panetta says nothing of this but says:“Our whole effort there is aimed at going after those terrorists who threaten to attack our country,” He added:“We’ve been successful. We’ve gone after a number of key targets there. We’ll continue to do that.” The U.S. has also been successful in helping spread Islamic militancy and continued drone strikes will further that collateral effect as well.
While the Yemeni armed forces guided by the U.S. have recaptured some ground there are heavy casualties on both sides and a suicide bomber in revenge killed about a hundred Yemeni troops in Sanaa. The new U.S. supported president (vice-president under Saleh) has sworn to defeat Al Qaeda at his swearing in ceremony. This ensures that he will have the help of the US. against any rebellion. Any opposition will be termed Al Qaeda or Al Qaeda linked. Soon the U.S. will not be involved in counter terrorism but counter insurgency. More drones and other weapons will be required and more boots on the ground who will not be described as such since they will be special forces. For more see this article.