Yemen Shuts Down Further Ground Raids


Our adventure in Yemen last week failed to kill its target; caused the death of numerous Yemeni civilians; resulted in one dead American sailor; and ended with the loss of a $70 million helicopter. Now comes another blow:

Angry at the civilian casualties incurred last month in the first commando raid authorized by President Trump, Yemen has withdrawn permission for the United States to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country, according to American officials.

….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.”

This is why decisions about risky operations normally come only after “the kind of rigorous review in the Situation Room that became fairly routine under President George W. Bush and Mr. Obama”—not over dinner, as this one was:

Mr. Trump will soon have to make a decision about the more general request by the Pentagon to allow more of such operations in Yemen without detailed, and often time-consuming, White House review. It is unclear whether Mr. Trump will allow that, or how the series of mishaps that marked his first approval of such an operation may have altered his thinking about the human and political risks of similar operations.

This presents Trump with a dilemma. It sure looks like that detailed White House review is a good idea. On the other hand, we all know that he has nowhere near the patience to sit through regular, hours-long meetings in the Situation Room where he can’t have CNN on in the background. He’s learning that it’s not all fun and games being president, but it’s not clear how he’ll react to that.