The raid by two dozen SEAL Team 6, a dozen Emirati Special Forces, attack helicopters, Marine MV-22 tiltrotor planes, drones, assorted intel assets, a ship off the coast launching Harrier jets, you name it – was a MAJOR operation.
They had loads of intel. Yet they were detected. By a barking dog. They screwed up – and did not abort. Total panic obviously ensued and then – a la Iraq during the occupation – they shot everyone in sight and bombed the shit out of every nearby building.
This was not a “reinforced al-Qaeda base”, as spun. It was a few nondescript houses in a small, rural tribal village, inhabited by a few guys who were hired by the Saudis as anti-Houthi fighters.
Yemen is a clannish maze in perpetual motion. Sometimes men ally with local AQAP outfits which also happen to be “supported” by the Saudis. But that does not mean these people are necessarily “al-Qaeda”.
Local Yemeni sources assure as many as 57 Yemenis were killed – including 8 women and 8 children, and including the 8-year-old girl daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, shot in the neck by a SEAL.
Trump officially declared the op a “success”. He had to. But it was a monster f**k up.
Especially because the key target – Qasim al-Raymi, the 3rd most dangerous terrorist in the world according to the USG – survived, escaped, was tipped off, or all of the above.
He duly released the requisite, subsequent taunting audio, saying, “The fool of the White House got slapped at the beginning of his road in your lands.”
Trump “inherited” the raid from the Obama administration. Months and months of planning and accumulated intel. Mad Dog Mattis, JCS supremo Dunford and “Iran on notice” Flynn all gave the raid the green light. Trump followed their advice. They should have known better.
Pepe Escobar is an independent geopolitical analyst. He writes for RT, Sputnik and TomDispatch, and is a frequent contributor to websites and radio and TV shows ranging from the US to East Asia.