Obama’s ‘Model’ For Combating Extremism Collapses
In a damning report Tuesday, the Associated Press described the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen as “all but collapsed” as U.S. officials concede that the country is rapidly descending into “chaos.” In January, President Obama called the operation in Yemen the “model” for his administration’s approach to combatting extremism.
The operation in Yemen is guided by the core strategies of President Obama’s anti-terrorism approach, which seeks to avoid putting U.S. troops on the ground by relying on airstrikes and U.S.-supported foreign governments to combat terrorist forces. When the situation in Yemen began to deteriorate in January, the president maintained that Yemen was the “model” that his administration was determined to employ in the region.
“It is the model that we’re going to have to work with, because the alternative would be massive U.S. deployments in perpetuity, which would create its own blowback and cause probably more problems than it would potentially solve,” said Obama.
After the U.S.-backed government fell to Iran-linked Houthi rebels in September, American personnel were withdrawn from the region, while the Yemeni branch of Al Qaeda gained an even stronger foothold, events officials say have created a “safe haven” for Islamic State militants. As AP makes clear, it is a devastating turn of events for the Obama administration:
It’s a swift and striking transformation for an anti-terror campaign Obama heralded just six months ago as the template for efforts to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The shift has left Obama open to criticism that he failed to anticipate the risks of a light footprint strategy that aims to put fragile governments and beleaguered local security forces, not the U.S. military, at the forefront.
Barbara Bodine, a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, said even the most optimistic regional experts did not share Obama’s view that the Yemen campaign was a model of success.
Iran’s connection to the Houthi rebel group that overthrew the America-backed Yemeni government in September is also another black eye for the Obama administration, which continues to press for a nuclear deal despite Iran’s openly hostile actions and rhetoric. Monday, Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated his government’s intention to destroy America. The Obama administration quickly dismissed the leader’s “death to America” statement as simply “intended for a domestic political audience.” More