May 25, 2010

Glimpse of U.S. Future in Yemen

Proof of why America should let Yemen handle the air-strikes and commando raids, if they’re resorted to at all. Al Jazeera reports:
"A botched air raid has killed a provincial official in Yemen, and tribesmen have blown up an oil pipeline in retaliation, according to local press reports and the Reuters news agency. Jaber al-Shabwani, the deputy governor of Maarib, was killed in the attack early on Tuesday morning, along with three of his bodyguards.

Al-Shabwani was reportedly traveling to meet an alleged member of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the al-Qaeda offshoot in Yemen. Local sources said the missile attack also killed the al-Qaeda offshoot member, Bin Jamil, whom al-Shabwani had reportedly gone to meet.

Members of Jaber al-Shabwani tribe responded to his killing by attacking the pipeline that carries oil from Maarib to Ras Isa, a terminal on the Red Sea coast. Tribesmen also tried to occupy the presidential palace in Maarib, but they were repulsed by Yemeni soldiers and army tanks. Local government offices have been shut down throughout the province.

Yemen's supreme security committee issued a statement apologizing for the botched raid. Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, said he would form a panel to investigate the incident in Maarib."
The death of Bin Jamil is easily outweighed by the immediate and lasting collateral damage of killing al-Shabwani. Now imagine Maarib as Anwar al-Awlaki's tribal heartland - and multiply.

[Update: America surely had its hands in yesterday's botched air-strike. The question is one or two. Dovetailing the leak of General Petraeus's world surge, Al Arabiya quotes a US intelligence official as saying, "There is a tremendous amount of focus on that country."

Al Arabiya reports of yesterday's strike, "Washington continues to play a supporting role by helping Yemeni forces track and pinpoint targets - suggesting Tuesday's strike was not carried out by a U.S.-controlled drone.


That's not how reading between the lines works though. Said one US military official, "We continue to support the Yemenis as they go after this threat inside their border." Another acknowledged there was an increasingly "fine line" between playing a supportive role and taking the lead. Sounds like two hands, one to lace the target another to fire.

For all we know a Predator killed
Jaber al-Shabwani, the deputy governor of Maarib governorate.]

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