Yemen’s descent into political chaos makes it the latest Mideast nation too dangerous for U.S. officials to operate in — a development intelligence sources say will dangerously limit America’s ability to track and target al Qaeda and other extremist terror movements in the region.
While some Obama administration critics see the military triumphs of Shiite Muslim Houthi rebels in Yemen as a victory by the region’s Shiite powerhouse, Iran, others say the more dangerous fallout will be the loss of real-time intelligence and on-the-ground assets following the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from a Yemeni air base that has long played a key role in the battle against Sunni extremist al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Yemen is the home base of the Sunni terrorist group, which U.S. intelligence officials have described as the most likely among jihadi organizations around the world to “attempt transnational attacks against the United States.” Despite the value of the base, the administration ordered the pullout of all U.S. forces from Yemen’s Al Anad air base on March 20 after AQAP forces and aligned tribal fighters briefly took control of the nearby city of Houta.
While military and intelligence officials are mum on the role the base has played in hundreds of drone strikes carried out against AQAP operatives during recent years, the sudden American pullout underscores the extent to which the administration’s counterterrorism strategy has collapsed in the region. A year ago, President Obama pointed to Yemen as a model for his strategy and a success story in the counterterrorism fight.
A few more successes like this and we’ll be in real trouble. But just another’s day work for the most anti-American president in American history. Hey! Maybe Obama’s middle name, “Hussein,” should have been a dead giveaway.