Sana’a, Yemen – (GPA) For the second day in a row, the United States and Saudi Arabia devastate huge swathes of Yemen with air strikes and internationally-banned cluster bombs.
US Airstrikes Continue for Second Day
The United States has been conducting air strikes over a mountain range that appears to contain a combination of al-Qaeda and Houthi controlled territory. These strikes are officially part of Washington’s offensive against al-Qaeda in Yemen. There’s no word on casualties just yet.
But instead of focusing on the large portions of land al-Qaeda controls in Southern Yemen, the US chose instead to focus on suspected al-Qaeda positions closer to Northern Yemen. At this point, Geopolitics Alert is unable to verify from our local sources whether or not the US strikes are actually hitting al-Qaeda positions. The black triangle in the image below represents the estimated area hit by US airstrikes over the past two days.
The United States isn’t shy about calling the Houthis or Ansarullah forces a nuisance. (Half the time calling them an “Iranian-backed militia” and the other half simply referring to them as “rebels.”) But the United States isn’t openly at war with the Houthis either– Saudi Arabia is.
These air strikes would be a great way for the United States to clear out land as preparation for a Saudi-coalition offensive on the ground. Using that momentum, Saudi-backed forces could attempt to retake land from Houthi allies.
Saudi Cluster Bombs & Ground Offensive
In what seems to be a coordinated effort, Saudi Arabia carried out attacks dropping cluster bombs on Yemen along the Saudi-border yesterday. At least four people are dead according to local sources. Cluster bombs are internationally banned due to their high risk of civilian casualties. At the same time, Saudi-backed forces on the ground continue attempts to retake Mokha and other port cities from Houthis and their allies.
At this point it’s important to stress that many (likely most) Saudi-backed fighters in Yemen are foreigners. Sudanese and UAE forces have both been spotted fighting on the ground in Yemen. In fact, the first batch of UAE-trained militias will hit the ground in Yemen soon.
A few months back, prior to this inflamed ground offensive, local sources spotted a Turkish plane dropping off what they said were Syrian rebels leaving the recently liberated Aleppo. If true, these fighters would of course be entering Yemen to fight on Saudi Arabia’s behalf.
Media Lies About al-Qaeda in Yemen
At the end of any mainstream news article about al-Qaeda in Yemen, you’ll see the outlet explain that al-Qaeda exploited the chaos in 2011 to gain territory and power. This is extremely misleading and essentially untrue.
Al-Qaeda has a presence in Yemen that for all intents and purposes dates back to the 1980’s when the US was first arming mujahideen fighters in Afghanistan. Since then, al-Qaeda has been a thorn in the side of any Yemeni government and a constant simmering threat. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that al-Qaeda in Yemen has caused– not simply exploited– the chaos we see today.
The mainstream outlets will go as far to explain that the US operation in Yemen dates back to post-911 attacks on al-Qaeda, but they won’t explain why or how. And as long as the Saudi Arabia is fighting the Houthis and their allies, al-Qaeda in Yemen is essentially an ally to the Saudi-backed coalition.
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Image: Flickr – Airman Magazine