Sunday, March 22, 2015

Chaos! All U.S. Personnel Leave Yemen as Country Descends Into Bloody Anarchy

You know, because the "tide of war is receding," and all that.

At the Los Angeles Times, "U.S. forces leave Yemen amid concerns it is safe haven for terror groups":

All remaining U.S. government personnel withdrew from Yemen over the weekend as fighting erupted near the last safe haven for American special forces there and an Iran-backed militia took control of key locations in the country’s third-largest city.

About 100 American special operations troops evacuated Al Anad airbase in the southern part of Yemen on Saturday, as Al Qaeda militants fought house-to-house in a nearby town. The withdrawal comes a month after the U.S. embassy in the capital of Sana was vacated, after months of Shiite rebels clashing with government forces there.

“Due to the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, the U.S. government has temporarily relocated its remaining personnel out of Yemen,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said in a statement.

The U.S. departure from Yemen as it further descends into chaos is likely to hobble the American counterterrorism campaign against two potent extremist groups, the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The Islamic State militants who control large swaths of Iraq and Syria are extending their reach into both North Africa and Yemen, where intelligence officials are concerned they can take advantage of the lawlessness to expand their influence and recruit fighters, as they have elsewhere. And AQAP, the most resourceful and dogged of Al Qaeda's affiliates, has repeatedly used Yemen to plot and stage attacks against the West.

The U.S. plans to continue to fly armed drones over Yemen and strike at leaders of cells plotting to attack Western targets, officials said. But without Americans on the ground and no friendly local intelligence service to turn to for help, the U.S. will have much less information about the location of militant leaders.