Obama administration will not admit that its Yemen strategy failed because it doesn't like alternative

Washington Examiner Editorial:
If only the Obama White House could bring itself to admit that its strategy in Yemen has failed. Then Obama and his mouthpieces would look substantially less foolish.

As matters stand, they cling to the myth that their "small footprint" strategy against terrorism in Yemen — cooperate loosely with local authorities and blow up terrorists with drones on occasion — is a successful one in the war against terrorism.

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said as much this Wednesday, even as the Yemeni state was collapsing and its president fled for his life. The so-called Yemen model, Earnest said, once singled out for praise by President Obama, "is a template that has succeeded in mitigating the threat that we face from extremists in Yemen and Somalia."

Yemen is now in the midst of sectarian violence between two sets of mutually-hostile Islamic paramilitaries, both of which are proven enemies of the United States. It appears likely to degenerate into the next failed state in the region, after Iraq, Syria, and Libya.

Unlike Iraq, Yemen is a poor desert country which America never occupied or invaded. It is now the locus of Iranian regional aggression by the Houthi, who are Shiites, and it has long suffered the presence of Sunni terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda and more recently the Islamic state.

When the Houthis captured the capital city of Sana'a earlier this year, forcing the formation of a new government, Obama reached out to them for help, hoping to become their partner in facing the apparently more dangerous Sunni terror groups. They refused. In retrospect, Obama probably should have recognized that cooperation was unlikely, given that the group's slogan contains the phrase "death to America."

If that doesn't seem absurd enough, consider how Obama is straddling the region, trying to play both sides of a deeply-divided Islamic world. In Iraq, he is helping Iranian-backed Shiite paramilitaries fight the Islamic State (to the extent that they are willing to cooperate). In Yemen, he is helping the Saudis fight Iranian-backed paramilitaries. All the while, his negotiations with Iran appear highly likely to leave the Islamic Republic in a position to develop nuclear weapons in a relatively short period of time, much to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia. This is a balancing act he cannot maintain.
Obama came into office with the invalid assumption that he could talk Iran out of its expansionist and terrorist polices.   He has failed at that while heavily involved in facilitating Iran's nuclear ambitions under the guise of trying to control them.  He has also demonstrated his inept negotiating "skills."  Giving away the store to get a deal for deal's sake is no way to control despots and religious bigots.  It is called appeasement.


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