Thursday, October 13, 2016

U.S. Ship Fires Missiles at Yemeni Rebel Sites

The following excerpts are taken from the NY Times article "U.S. Ship Fires Missiles at Yemeni Rebel Sites" (Oct 12, 2016)



>> WASHINGTON — An American warship stationed off the coast of Yemen fired cruise missiles on Thursday at radar installations that the Pentagon said had been used by Yemeni insurgents to target another American warship in two missile attacks in the last four days.

The strikes against the Houthi rebels marked the first time the United States has become involved militarily in the civil war between the Houthis, an indigenous Shiite group with loose connections to Iran, and the Yememi government, which is backed by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni nations. The strikes were approved by President Obama ...

[...] Until Thursday, the Obama administration had tried to navigate a treacherous course in Yemen, publicly pushing for a peace deal while quietly providing military support to a Saudi Arabia-led bombing campaign against the rebels since last year. Yet the main goal of the administration has often appeared to be keeping the United States from being dragged too deeply into a conflict that has shown little signs of abating, and instead continues to grow deadlier.

That changed in the past four days with two separate missile attacks on an American destroyer, the Mason, that was sailing off the coast of Yemen in the southern end of the Red Sea...

The missiles fell well short of the ship in both attacks. But American commanders believed that the attack posed a real threat.

[...] Up to now, the Obama administration put limits on its support for the Saudi-led coalition, providing intelligence and Air Force tankers to refuel the coalition’s jets and bombers. The American military has refueled more than 5,700 aircraft involved in the bombing campaign since it began...

This American role has drawn criticism from human rights groups who condemn the campaign as reckless. More than 4,000 civilians have been killed since the bombing began ...

That number includes at least 140 people who were killed in an airstrike on a funeral ceremony last weekend in the Yemeni capital, Sana. The strike prompted the administration to promise a review of the American military assistance to the Saudis...

[...] The senior American military official described the weapon used in the attack on Wednesday on the Mason as a coastal defense cruise missile, designed to be used against ships. The official said the missile came from an area under rebel control...

[...] The Saudi-led campaign began in March 2015, about a year after the Houthis and army units loyal to Yemen’s former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, began battling to oust the country’s current president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Despite skepticism in Washington about the wisdom of the campaign, the Obama administration threw its support behind the Saudis...

Besides providing intelligence and refueling help, the Pentagon sent a team of military personnel to Saudi Arabia to assist the planners of the air campaign.

Yet the Saudi campaign has failed to dislodge the Houthis from Sana. Much of Yemen is now on the brink of famine, and reports of civilians’ being killed in airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition have become routine. In August, the aid organization Doctors Without Borders said it was withdrawing its personnel from the country after the coalition bombed several of its medical facilities.

Despite international condemnation of the campaign, the White House pushed ahead this year with a $1.15 billion arms deal for Saudi Arabia that includes tanks and other heavy military equipment. A Senate resolution in September to block the sale failed, but 26 senators voted for it, signaling growing congressional concern about the Saudi alliance.

“We are complicit and actively involved with war in Yemen,” Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who worked to block the arms deal, said at the time.“There’s been no debate in Congress, really no debate in the public sphere over whether or not we should be at war in Yemen.” <<

(source: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/13/world/middleeast/yemen-rebels-missile-warship.html)

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