Washington D.C. (GPA) – The Pentagon finally acknowledged last week that US troops have carried out “multiple ground operations” in Yemen. The details and future, however, remain ambiguous.
Dubbed the “secret war,” Washington’s military activity in Yemen has remained dubious since the war began in March of 2015. On paper, the US has a small number of special forces in Yemen assisting Emirati and Saudi-backed troops against Yemen’s resistance. The US also carries out operations against al-Qaeda in Yemen (AQAP) which included 120 airstrikes this year. The targets of these airstrikes, however, aren’t certain.
Additional Troops Enter Yemen. But What’s Their Role?
In August, the Pentagon announced that an unspecified number of additional US troops had entered Yemen for ground operations against AQAP. Emirati forces greeted US troops at an airport in Yemen’s Shabwah province to expel AQAP from local oil fields.
Not much is known about this operation which seemed to take place suspiciously fast. The speedy success led many to believe that the UAE and US directly coordinated with AQAP to leave the oil fields and advance on Ansarullah (Houthi) troops.
At that time, the Pentagon hadn’t ruled out sending, even more, US forces into the war-torn country.
It isn’t unheard of for special forces to aid Saudi-backed troops on the front lines against Ansarullah (aka “The Houthis”) or other non-AQAP actors.
In May, Yemeni media reported that about 30 American and Gulf troops were killed or injured by tribal fighters on the ground in Marib province. Western media, on the other hand, stuck to their story that the fighters who attacked the invading US troops were AQAP militants.
Reuters began its story by stating, “Seven militants were killed during an intelligence-gathering raid by US Special Forces troops against an al-Qaeda compound in Yemen on Tuesday morning.” However the article later states “They [local sources in Marib] said that five members of their al-Moradi clan, a main tribe in Marib, had died in the operation and six others were wounded, adding that they were all civilians.”
After the death of late Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the US and Saudi coalition scrambled to embrace disgruntled actors to strengthen their alliance against Ansarullah. Recently, the UAE set aside their differences with Yemen’s Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, al Islah, to bring them into the fold. Al Islah enjoys considerable support from Riyadh but has historically been at odds with the UAE.
It’s unclear whether or not US forces were actively engaged in operations along Yemen’s western coast against Ansarullah. However, it remains likely that American troops are far more involved in this war than Washington and the Western press lead the public to believe.
US Support for the Deadly Saudi Coalition and the Supposed ISIS Threat
In the same statement released last week admitting to ground operations in Yemen, the Pentagon also claimed the number of ISIS fighters in the country has doubled.
As the world, and US Congress, grows weary of US support for Saudi Arabia, Washington must find other routes for securing their control. Enter ISIS.
H.Con. resolution 81 — if passed — would essentially end US military support for Saudi Arabia. This would not, however, end US presence in Yemen against “terrorist” groups such as ISIS or AQAP.
The Saudi-led and US-backed war against Yemen has killed over 13,000 people from airstrikes and military operations alone. These devastating operations typically target homes, funerals, weddings, schools, hospitals, offices, factories, cars, markets, and much more.
Tens of thousands more have died as a result of the ongoing siege and blockade which restricts land, sea, and air imports, exports, and the flow of movement. The blockade has triggered an unprecedented cholera outbreak and seems to be part of the Saudis plan to beat Yemen into submission for daring to resist.
The United States provides weapons, arms, refueling, and other military equipment to Saudi Arabia. US troops train and assist Saudi and Emirati forces on the ground and in control rooms providing intelligence support.
Air strikes have intensified against civilian targets since the death of Ali Abdullah Saleh in early December. Yemen’s resistance forces killed Saleh as he fled Sana’a. Just days before, Saleh announced a coup against his former allies in Ansarullah and effectively sold out to the Saudi coalition. Days of fighting ensued with Saudi Arabia providing air support for Saleh’s supporters. Ansarullah now has complete control over the capital and most northern territory.
Also published on Medium.