Sunday the news hit most major news outlets that earlier in the day US Navy Seals had carried out a raid in Yemen killing 14 Al-Qaeda members.
Usually special forces actions are not made public so it was clear this had come from the Trump administration eager to advertise its terrorism combating credentials that supposedly set it apart from the previous Democratic leadership.
Except that soon afterwards other, less convenient details started to trickle in.
First we learned the raid had cost the life of one Navy Seal. 14 to 1 is not a bad score, but then the training of a single Seal costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, while Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula fighters are just guys with rifles.
Moreover three more US commandos were wounded, and another three were injured when their V-22 tilt rotor transport crashed trying to evacuate US troops.
The disabled machine was put out of its misery in a US airstrike to keep it from falling into enemy hands.
So in the final tally US military suffered 7 casualties and lost an expensive $70 million tilt-rotor.
It gets worse.
First AP reported a local official was saying that scores of civilians were also killed in the raid including eight women and eight children.
Now any “local officials” in Al-Qaeda controlled Yemen are obviously going to be under the thumb of the group so their reports could easily be propaganda.
Except then Pentagon itself begun to change the story. First it said that yes women were also killed in the raid, they were among the 14 enemy combatants slain.
Now it is also saying that civilians were indeed “highly likely” to have been killed when US strike craft tore apart nearby buildings in support of the under fire Seals.
Now I don’t know about you, but I have never heard of “female Al-Qaeda fighters”. There have been female suicide bombers, but never before fighters. Rural Yemen is also just about the last place in the world where you would expect such an innovation to pop up.
It all looks so bad that now even the foreign minister of Yemen’s Saudi puppet government in Aden has condemned the raid:
Yemen’s foreign minister, Abdul Malik Al Mekhlafi, appeared to take issue with the American military’s account on Monday, condemning the Special Operations raid on his official Twitter feed: “The extrajudicial killings and killing civilians are condemned acts that support terrorism.”
So to sum up in the space of two days we’ve gone from Trump getting widespread applause for an operation that :
- got some dusty hard drives from one of the most remote and isolated places in the world — supposedly of great intelligence value
- killed one Al-Qaeda “leader” nobody has ever heard of
- and another 13 unspecified, unnamed fighters in an organization that has thousands
To, two days later, having good evidence the raid nearly went awry in military terms and was a massacre of civilians in human terms.
Also let’s entertain one curious thing. Since Trump’s travel ban all Yemenis without exception are barred from entering the US even just to peacefully visit or emigrate. Americans meanwhile even have the “right” to barge into rural Yemen in order to blow up buildings and shoot up its civilians. Can Yemenis issue a similar entry ban to American raiders, drones and bombers and will Trump respect it?