A Terrific Day For U.S. Target Intelligence In Syria And Yemen – Moon Of Alabama
The U.S. military and intelligence groups involved with Central Command in the Middle East celebrated May 1 with a little competition and two terrific target selections:
US-led air strikes targeting the Islamic State group killed at least 52 civilians in a village in northern Syria, a monitoring group said on Saturday.
“Air strikes by the coalition early on Friday on the village of Birmahle in Aleppo province killed 52 civilians,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“Seven children were killed, and 13 people are still trapped in the rubble,” he said.
Abdel Rahman told AFP that Kurdish militiamen and Syrian rebel fighters were clashing with IS in a town roughly two kilometres (1 mile) away.
“But Birmahle is only civilians, with no IS positions and no clashes,” he said.
Abdel Rahman said “not a single IS fighter” was killed in the strikes on the village,…
Well done. But the CentCom military intelligence group supporting the Saudi war on Yemen showed that it could do better:
A series of Saudi airstrikes hit a hospital and medical camp in southwestern Yemen on Friday, killing at least 58 civilians and injuring at least 67, two local Yemeni government officials said.
Most of the dead and injured were medics and patients, they said.
Raheda Hospital is one of the largest and busiest in the area. The medical camp is part of the hospital.
Three local Yemeni government officials said the hospital was not being used by Houthi rebels and that none of the dead was a rebel fighter.
Seems like the war on Yemen targeting group won the sixpack.
The best overall briefing on the war of Yemen comes in today’s Independent. It is a bit speculative on the Saudi motive though when it suggest that King Salman and his son saw the war on Yemen “as a way of securing their power and removing rival factions in the royal family from power.” That may be a side motive but the real is more likely the one suggested by Hillary Mann Leverett:
[W]hat we’re seeing is a product of Saudi disorientation and terror at a region that could become more representative in terms of its governance, more independent in terms of its foreign policy. The Saudis are trying to prevent that kind of independence in foreign policy from emerging in Yemen, and they have yet again gone down this road with the United States to a war that has no end.
That description fits the fact that the Saudis started the bombing just in the moment a UN brokered power sharing deal in Yemen was about to be signed. As the Independent piece describes it:
[T]he beginning of the Saudi air war five weeks ago put a stop to negotiations which were about to succeed in establishing a power sharing government in the capital Sanaa according to the UN envoy Jamal Benomar. He told The Wall Street Journal in an interview that “when this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis.”
The U.S. supported the bombing from the very beginning by giving the Saudis the necessary intelligence. This stopped the peaceful solution of the political competition in Yemen. No wonder that the UN envoy resigned in protest. From March 26:
Saudi Arabia told the Obama administration and Persian Gulf allies early this week that it was preparing a military operation in neighboring Yemen, and relied heavily on U.S. surveillance images and targeting information to carry it out, according to senior American and Persian Gulf officials.
Since than the U.S. intelligence support for the Saudis has increased. From April 10:
The United States is expanding its intelligence-sharing with Saudi Arabia to provide more information about potential targets in the kingdom’s air campaign against Houthi militias in Yemen, U.S. officials told Reuters.
The U.S. officials said the expanded assistance includes sensitive intelligence data that will allow the Saudis to better review the kingdom’s targets in fighting that has killed hundreds and displaced tens of thousands since March.
What will those Yemenis who’s relatives were killed in the hospital strike yesterday think about such U.S. targeting support?
The Independence piece linked above also includes this sentence which is I believe as a first in the main stream media:
[King Salman] has not only started an air war in Yemen but has given stronger backing to Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qa’ida affiliate, and other jihadi groups in Syria. These have recently won several victories in Idlib province over the Syrian army and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The Saudis are also supporting Al Qaeda in Yemen and are even pushing others to join them:
Haykal Bafana @BaFana3
Journalists need to wake up & write about the pressure being applied by Saudi Arabia on tribes & leaders in Hadhramaut to accept AQ rule.
The Saudis rush more support to Al Qaeda and U.S. intelligence is selecting civilian targets to be bombed.
Is there anyone who believes that this will end well?