Effects of Trump’s “Highly Successful” Yemen Raid

Yemen BoyAccording to residents of the village of al Ghayil, in Yemen’s al Bayda province, the first to die in the assault was 13-year-old Nasser al Dhahab. The house of his uncle, Sheikh Abdulraouf al Dhahab, and the building behind it, the home of 65-year-old Abdallah al Ameri and his son Mohammed al Ameri, 38, appeared to be the targets of the US forces, who called in air support as they were pinned down in a nearly hourlong firefight.

With the SEALs taking heavy fire on the lower slopes, attack helicopters swept over the hillside hamlet above. In what seemed to be blind panic, the gunships bombarded the entire village, striking more than a dozen buildings, razing stone dwellings where families slept, and wiping out more than 120 goats, sheep, and donkeys.

Three projectiles tore through the straw and timber roof of the home where Sinan slept. Cowering in a corner, Sinan’s mother, 30-year-old Fatim Saleh Mohsen, decided to flee the bombardment. Grabbing her 18-month-old son and ushering her terrified children into the narrow outdoor passageway between the tightly packed dwellings, she headed into the open. Over a week later, Sinan’s aunt Nadr al Ameri wept as she stood in the same room and recalled watching her sister run out the door into the darkness.

Nesma al Ameri, an elderly village matriarch who lost four family members in the raid, described how the attack helicopters began firing down on anything that moved. As she recounted the horror of what happened, Sinan tapped her on the arm. “No, no. The bullets were coming from behind,” the 5-year-old insisted, interrupting to demonstrate how he was shot at and his mother gunned down as they ran for their lives. “From here to here,” Sinan said, putting two fingers to the back of his head and drawing an invisible line to illustrate the direction of the bullet exiting her forehead. His mother fell to the ground next to him, still clutching his baby brother in her arms. Sinan kept running.

His mother’s body was found in the early light of dawn, the front of her head split open. The baby was wounded but alive. Sinan’s mother was one of at least six women killed in the raid, the first counterterrorism operation of the Trump administration, which also left 10 children under the age of 13 dead. “She was hit by the plane. The American plane,” explained Sinan. “She’s in heaven now,” he added with a shy smile, seemingly unaware of the enormity of what he had witnessed or, as yet, the impact of his loss. “Dog Trump,” declared Nesma, turning to the other women in the room for agreement. “Yes, the dog Trump,” they agreed.

–Iona Craig
Death in al Ghayil (The Yemen Raid)

4 thoughts on “Effects of Trump’s “Highly Successful” Yemen Raid

  1. Wrote a whole post about this (https://firedirectioncenter.blogspot.com/2017/02/yakla-arabic-for-dieppe-normandy.html) but IMO the bottom line is that the whole business of “highly successful” is that We the People have NO idea what “success” means in context so choosing to use terms like “success” or “failure” is both meaningless and misleading.

    That these people died in agony and fear is awful. So were the deaths of the innocents in the fire raids of Dresden and Tokyo…but we don’t usually grieve over those deaths because of the larger context. In both cases the people’s homelands had launched aggressive wars, and the horrible deaths (and they WERE horrible; the general that ran the USAF firebombing campaigns said later that had Japan won the Pacific War he fully expected that he would have been hanged for war crimes…) were directly related to the original aggression.

    In this case, though, it’s the US that launched aggressive war (in Iraq) that helped set off this chain-reaction of rebellion and civil war. And it’s fairly apparent – to me, anyway – that the US government has little or no idea of what it “wants” or is trying to do in the Middle East (other than ridiculously impossible “objectives” like “crush radical Islam”…) So there’s little or no way to actually determine what the heck this raid, and the deaths of these people, “mean”.

    Are they just more ruin and merciless hatred? Will these deaths lead to MORE chaos, more killing, more anger and revenge? Or not? Did this raid gather enough intelligence to lead to the capture and death of Al Qaeda cadres? Will those captures and deaths lead to a more peaceful, more content and stable Yemen?

    Right now, not only do we have no idea about how this affects the endstate…we don’t even know what short- or medium-term effects it will have…if any.

    Other than the horrific deaths of innocents.

    • How did I not know you had a blog?! (Because I’m an idiot is my working hypothesis.) I’ll put you on the sidebar this evening!

      As for what you wrote: I agree. Although I do grieve over the deaths in Germany and Japan in WWII. This is why I’ve become all but a pacifist. I don’t get so hung up on war crimes, since I think war is a crime itself. Just War Theory is a joke — philosophy to be used to justify any way you want. I think I wrote earlier that libertarians (if ever in power) would quickly see that interrupting commercial supply chains was the same act of aggression as invading a country.

      I used the “highly successful” quote because it came from the article. What I was thinking was the early claim by the military that no new intelligence was found. And then Trump claimed that wasn’t true.

      As Chomsky points out: every empire in history claimed it was just trying to help the people it was killing. We are no different. It’s surprising how many Americans think we are.

      • I think that a LOT of that has to do with Americans in general – on both sides of the political aisle – internalizing the notion that “war works” combined with the ridiculously long-lasting hangover from The Good War.

        That is to say, that using military force has the inevitable effect of producing the endstate that the user claims to be the object of the force…AND that said military force is ALWAYS applied for a “good cause” (indeed; that the mere application of said force implies the goodness of the cause…)

        If that’s true, then the inevitable deaths of innocents are just “collateral damage”, the regrettable-but-inevitable-cost of defeating Nazis. And the whole “good war” thing means that We the People have a REALLY hard time grasping the concept of “limited” or “cabinet” war; that it’s entirely possible that U.S. military force will be applied, not to Nazis, but in the pursuit of often-incomprehensible policy goals that may, in fact, be unachievable through military force.

        Hence the whole “fighting for your freedom” thing. Let’s face it; the last time American soldiers “fought for freedom” (of U.S. citizens) was probably 1781 or, arguably, 1945. You could possibly make a case for defending Korean freedom in 1953 (tho the victims of Syngman Rhee would argue that)…but since then? Ridiculous. But the image of GI Joe, handing out candy to ragged German kiddies, is harder to kill than a cornered rat. The default mode of Joe and Mary Lunchpail is to think that every time a GI shoots someone they’re shooting “in defense of our (fill in the blank)”.

        My personal theory is that a hell of a lot of this is on the cowardice of the press. Nobody at CNN or the NYT or WaPo is willing to come flat out and say “I don’t know who the hell our guys are killing in Yemen, or why, and, frankly, I don’t see that they know, either!”. Probably because they know how hard the shit rain would fall on them.

        So we’re kinda stuck with this toxic, self-licking imperial ice-cream cone. I don’t know how to trash it. I don’t know if, at this point, it IS trashable.

        • The Good War had a bad hangover. For the loved ones of hundreds of thousands who died, it was a tragedy; also for the many who were physically or emotionally damaged forever.

          For the majority of Americans, WWII was largely a plus. The massive increase in government spending finally ended the Depression. The shortage of white male factory workers kickstarted stagnant women’s rights and civil rights movements. There were stirring movies made about heroic battles.

          Oh, we do feel sorry for Beth & Floyd three doors down, they lost their son. And Molly says, when she’s had too much wine, that Paul isn’t the same since he came back. Awful things. But us — well, I just got promoted to factory foreman! And the little woman, here, she’s having a baby shower next Tuesday for our third, all the girls who held down the fort at her munitions plant will be there!

          We didn’t experience Dresden, Tokyo, the siege of Leningrad. We got all the glory of a Great Victory and, compared to other countries, far less of the hardships. (So, too, did Britain & France — the 70mm, IMAX film of “Dunkirk” will be in a theater near you this July.)

          It’s easier to worship war if it hasn’t brutally affected you. This is what makes Trump’s refugee ban so ridiculous — for the most part, these refugees are people trying to escape war. They have more fear & loathing of violence than most Americans.

          I think a change is coming. I cannot say how soon, or where it will fire up the fastest. But I do believe some Americans are starting to realize that war is serious shit, not a Sunday football game to be played by politicians looking for rah-rah fans. We’re getting there. Slowly, because we’re not a culture that likes rapid change. That change is in the air, though. I smell it.

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