US military advisors return to Yemen

Isn’t it interesting how different news outlets can take exactly the same facts and come up with completely opposite headlines? It seems that the US military advisors in Yemen, pulled out last year due to human rights abuses by the crumbling regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, are set to return now that Saleh has been ousted and (sort of) democratic elections held. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, questioned whether this could be a prelude to a greater commitment of ground troops, said: “There’s no consideration of that.” So The Hill, in its portentously named “defense blog” DEFCON Hill, heds its story, “Panetta guarantees no US troops headed to Yemen.” The Christian Science Monitor, perhaps hoping an alarmist hed will result in more hits, opts for, “US sends troops to Yemen as Al Qaeda gains ground.” Cute, huh? We hope both these publications will emulate the example of World War 4 Report in future, and give heds that accurately represent the facts. We note with chagrin that neither account actually bothers to tell us how many advisors are being dispatched, what branch of the armed forces they are from, or any other such details.

Meanwhile it appears that the indefatigable Ali Abdullah Saleh was trying to set himself up as the power behind the new interim government. Or at least it was so widely perceived in Yemen, that the Gulf states, which brokered the power-sharing plan, applied pressure on him to leave the country once again. (He had recently returned after medical treatment in New York.) He has now apparently taken “temporary” refuge in the United Arab Emirates. This comes after UN envoy envoy Jamal bin Omar met with Saleh to discuss accusations that he was trying to extend his control over the security forces via his relatives, who continue to by highly positioned in the military and intelligence services. Saleh has also apparently agreed to relinquish his position as head of the long-ruling General People’s Congress (GPC). The party is sharing power with opposition groups over a two-year transition period under the Gulf-brokered plan. (AP, May 1; Zee News, April 30; BBC News, April 27)

US drone strikes of course continue. The latest such attack on May 10 targeted a convoy carrying “senior leaders” of the Ansar al-Sharia militant network, described as “an offshoot of al-Qaeda,” in the Jaar district of Abyan province. Eight were killed. The drone attack was followed by a string of air strikes by Yemen’s air force. The US has apparently carried out 15 drone strikes on Yemen this year, targeting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and related entities. (CNN, May 10)

See our last posts on Yemen, the Arab revolutions and the drone wars.

Please leave a tip or answer the Exit Poll.