Complete Chaos in Yemen Doesn’t Mean the Strategy Isn’t Working


The U.S. is engaged in two proxy wars. The administration is assisting the fight in Saudi Arabia against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, but in Iraq, we are providing air cover for forces fighting ISIS that are one-third Iranian Revolutionary Guards and one-third Iranian-backed militias.

We wouldn’t help Jordan and Egypt when they were bombing ISIS, but we will help Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The U.S. released confidential Israeli documents proving they have a nuclear bomb probably in revenge for their having given details of the secret Iranian deal to Congress.

The only thing that is clear about the Obama Middle East strategy is that from day-to-day, we don’t know what the administration will do.

The White House has held up strategies used in Yemen and Somalia as examples of successful counterterrorism strategies. When asked about Yemen, the administration said it is still successful.

During the White House briefing yesterday, Jonathan Karl asked spokesperson Josh Earnest about the complete chaos in Yemen.

“Now that we essentially have complete chaos in Yemen, does the White House still believe Yemen is the model for counterterrorism,” Jon Karl asked. Jon Karl is the White House correspondent for ABC News.

“Jon, the White House does continue to believe that a successful counterterrorism strategy is one that will build up the capacity of the central government to have local fighters on the ground to have local fighters take the fight to extremists in their own country,” Earnest said. “That is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat in Yemen and Somalia.”

“That’s astounding,” Karl replied. “You’re saying, you still see Yemen as a model? Building up a central government, which has now collapsed? A president who has apparently fled the country? Saudi troops massing on one border, the Iranians supporting the rebels? You consider this is a model for counterterrorism?”

Earnest tried to convince Karl that what they have done in Yemen has reduced terror threats against the U.S. and put us in a good position to fight insurgents.

The U.S. is “supporting the U.N.-led process,” Earnest reassured Karl. That alone could strike fear in anyone paying attention to how effective the U.N. is.

“We do continue to enjoy the benefits of a sustained counterterrorism security relationship with the security infrastructure that remains in Yemen,” Earnest said. “There are elements of the Yemeni government that we continue to be in touch with that continue to further our efforts to apply pressure to extremists that seek to operate in that country.”

Wednesday, when State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki was asked about President Obama still thinking Yemen is a success, remarkably, she said, “…we stand by that.” She also believes counterterrorism operations in the country will continue even though they obviously won’t.