Thursday, February 12, 2015

Losing Yemen

Still some confusion over how the Obama administration pulled out of our embassy in Yemen a few days ago.  There was initial reporting by Fox and others that authorities at the airport in Sana'a requested our embassy Marines hand over their personal weapons to the terrorists before boarding aircraft out of the country (embassy vehicles were seized upon departure).

Obviously the symbolism of this did not sit well in all quarters. Everything we do on the world stage sends a message, so what message does it send to have a terror group disarming our Marines?

But the early accounts have been challenged.  State spokesgal Jen Psaki tried to beat back the flames today, reading the Marine Corps' explanation, calling the earlier reporting 'false', which promoted this exchange with reporters (for some reason C-SPAN would not allow embedding).

Notice at the end of the clip she was asked who was in authority at the airport and she passed the question without taking a breath.  That matters to this story.    

AP's Matt Lee wasn't satisfied with Psaki's initial answer and tried again.   Obviously she wasn't going to give away precise details on how we extricate personnel from embassies in hostile territory, but she opened the door by saying it "didn't go according to plan".

So, the Marines say the 'advanced plan' was to go to the airport and destroy the personal weapons, presumably as a condition of flying out.  Psaki wouldn't elaborate but she admitted the operation didn't come off as planned.  Why not?  She wouldn't say.   National security and such.

Nobody bothered to ask whether the plan might have been to have air assets come in and remove the embassy personnel and equipment and fly everything to the waiting ships offshore.  Admiral Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, could have perhaps shed some light on this but alas, there has been no Pentagon briefing the past two days.

So questions remain.  Does this set precedent?  Do we always make these kinds of deals abandoning our facilities?  Who made the actual call to disarm at the airport and why?  Or was it ad-hoc?  Why did the Army and CNN make it sound like our departure was ignominious if it wasn't?  Was any of the planning, either ahead of time or perhaps at the airport, done through negotiations with the Houthis that CNN reported yesterday control the airport and obviously control the capital?  Would this amount to negotiating with terrorists?  Does leaving our guns scattered on the tarmac amount to giving them concessions, which the administration claims we never do?  

Or are the Houthis not actually terrorists, but like the Taliban better classified as "armed insurgents" despite their marching through the streets echoing the Tehran chant

All of these questions need to be answered to determine the truth, but the symbolism will be clear to the street--our Marines were forced out of town and made to give up their weapons in the process, yet another sign of weakness on the international stage.  Bin Laden once called America a "paper tiger", which eventually culminated in 9/11.  Then Bush came in and said "bring it on".  Obama seems to be sending signals everywhere that he'll sue for peace at just about any cost.   After all, we did the Crusades. 

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