The war in Yemen was already being waged with US weapons, including mostly-banned cluster bombs via Saudi Arabia, but now American special forces of an undisclosed number are going to participate in combat operations. The Saudis have been widely condemned for using those US weapons and other US military equipment on civilian areas and locations such as schools and hospitals.
The Pentagon says the special forces in Yemen will serve in advisory capacity, but for how long is unknown. Department of Defense spokesman Peter Cook admitted there is no exit strategy: “It’s going to be a limited period of time, but I don’t have a particular deadline.”
That sounds a lot like the open-ended special forces commitment in Iraq that recently led to a Navy SEAL getting killed in Northern Iraq. At some point, saying “special” in front of forces has to be recognized as not meaning much. US service members are fighting and dying in a war.
It would be fair to call US involvement in Yemen counter-productive, if not an outright disaster for the War on Terror. The US’ use of practically unrestricted drone warfare has led to numerous civilian casualties or “collateral damage,” when targets are misidentified or a bombing kills or wounds more than just those targeted.
The resentment and hatred created by the drone strikes has empowered the local Al Qaeda affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which has grown in strength through the violence.
If the mission in Yemen was to form a lasting alliance against terror, the US has failed completely. Whatever goodwill the US had with the people of Yemen, that wasn’t blown away in a drone strike, has been cluster-bombed by Saudi Arabia.