Saturday, December 19, 2009

Strikes in Yemen vs. AQAP

The Yemeni internal war has taken yet another turn for the strange. Last time it was the Saudi Arabian military intervention... this time, it was a combination of American cruise missile strikes and Yemeni military action. First reports looked, well, about like the average strike against al-Qaeda assets: a mixed bag of good kills, missed opportunities and some number of unintended dead locals.

The thing is, there is a lot more to this than meets the first examination.

Long War Journal sees it like this. Bill Roggio is most always a quality source, and he may well be this time too, however...

Jane Novak at Armies of Liberation (the source for all things about Yemeni politics and infighting) has been running a vast amount of from-Yemen material, with a very suspicious eye cast on the Government of Yemen's actions and reporting. She has several threads on the topic; here is her latest, as of today. Not a pretty picture.

The official reports are starting to come out, from the U.S.A. and from sources in the region, and to sum them up here is the AFP report from earlier today.

In the finest tradition of the name of this 'blog, I've already formed an analysis matrix of reported results vs. possible explanations. Some things are pointing to the possibility of more foreign airpower than just cruise missiles being involved, and an off-target strike by said airpower... but nothing rules out Yemeni airpower or ground fire being used in an indiscriminate manner... and the ever-present "co-mingling with supporting civilians" still is the Occam's Razor answer as to why so many civilians were killed.

But I just can't buy into the simple answer this time.

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