On January 29th, Donald Trump launched a military action in Yemen, not while sitting in the Situation Room and reading intelligence reports, but over dinner with Stephen Bannon, Jared Kushner, and his Secretary of Defense, General Mattis. It was a military raid that, weeks before, President Obama had declined to pursue.
Reports came out almost immediately that just about everything went wrong with the raid. A Navy SEAL was killed, several soldiers were wounded in a shoot-out, and an eight-year-old civilian was killed among 14 other civilians. Sean Spicer and the Trump Administration, nevertheless, insisted it went well.
“The raid that was conducted in Yemen was an intelligence-gathering raid. That’s what it was. It was highly successful. It achieved the purpose it was going to get, save the loss of life that we suffered and the injuries that occurred.”
It wasn’t a success. In fact, according to the Washington Post, not only did people die unnecessarily, but the military didn’t achieve its primary mission: To kill Al-Qaeda leader, Qasim al-Rimi. Over the weekend, Qasim al-Rimi released an 11-minute recording taunting Donald Trump for failing to kill him (U.S. Central Command has since insisted that al-Rimi wasn’t the target, although if he wasn’t, then the military expended a lot of resources and suffered a lot of casualties for a few laptops).
After a classified briefing of the matter, Senator John McCain was unequivocal in his assessment: It was a “failure,” he said.
Yesterday, bad went to worse when Yemen — after seeing “grisly photographs” of children allegedly killed in the raid — decided to bar the United States from Yemen, withdrawing permission to the U.S. from running Special Operations missions against terrorist groups in the country.
From the NYTimes:
The raid stirred immediate outrage among Yemeni government officials, some of whom accused the Trump administration of not fully consulting with them before the mission. Within 24 hours of the assault on a cluster of houses in a tiny village in mountainous central Yemen, the country’s foreign minister, Abdul Malik Al Mekhlafi, condemned the raid in a post on his official Twitter account as “extrajudicial killings.”
And here’s the kicker: President Trump was apparently convinced by Mattis to green-light the mission because Mattis told Trump that Obama never would have been “bold” enough to launch the mission. He said that capturing the raid’s intended target would have been a “game changer.”
The White House continues to insist, however, that it was a success.