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US Navy seizes weapons in Arabian Sea likely bound for Yemen

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. The U.S. Navy announced Sunday it seized an arms shipment of thousands of assault weapons, machines guns and sniper rifles hidden aboard a ship in the Arabian Sea, apparently bound for Yemen to support the country's Houthi rebels. An American defense official told The Associated Press that the Navy's initial investigation found the vessel came from Iran, again tying the Islamic Republic to arming the Houthis despite a United Nations arms embargo. Iran's mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though Tehran has denied in the past giving the rebels weapons.


Biden Secretly Limits Counterterrorism Drone Strikes Away From War Zones

NYT > Middle East

The Biden administration has quietly imposed temporary limits on counterterrorism drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefield zones like Afghanistan and Syria, and it has begun a broad review of whether to tighten Trump-era rules for such operations, according to officials. The military and the C.I.A. must now obtain White House permission to attack terrorism suspects in poorly governed places where there are scant American ground troops, like Somalia and Yemen. Under the Trump administration, they had been allowed to decide for themselves whether circumstances on the ground met certain conditions and an attack was justified. Officials characterized the tighter controls as a stopgap while the Biden administration reviewed how targeting worked -- both on paper and in practice -- under former President Donald J. Trump and developed its own policy and procedures for counterterrorism kill-or-capture operations outside war zones, including how to minimize the risk of civilian casualties. The Biden administration did not announce the new limits.


How Biden Could Prove His Administration Isn't Just Obama 2.0

Slate

So far, the members of Joe Biden's foreign policy team are all veterans of Barack Obama's administration. They've pledged to revive Obama-era initiatives like the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement that Donald Trump tried to undo, as well as recommit to long-term U.S. alliances. Some U.S. foreign policy critics from the left and the libertarian right are less than fully enthusiastic about this team. They don't particularly relish a return to the approach that led to the intervention in Libya, a ramped-up drone war, and a troop surge in Afghanistan, and are concerned that all the talk of "America is back" broadly suggests an embrace of the interventionist worldview that predated Trump. Progressive concerns about the more hawkish views of Michèle Flournoy (Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna is one representative example), who was thought to be a shoo-in for secretary of defense, are reportedly one reason why that position has not yet been announced.


UAE gets American drones as China ramps up sales

Al Jazeera

The White House's recent decision to allow the sale of advanced weapons systems to the United Arab Emirates highlights the deliberate shift in US policy towards the UAE after it signed "normalisation" accords with Israel. Why would the UAE want American drones as it already has dozens of Chinese armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in its inventory? And why has the United States now agreed to these sales, overcoming its traditional reticence to sell sophisticated weapons to other countries? Chinese armed drones have made a significant effect on the battlefields across the Middle East and North Africa. They have been used to assassinate Houthi rebel leaders in Yemen, kill ISIL-affiliated fighters in the Sinai, and for a time help Khalifa Haftar dominate the battlespace in Libya.


Lawmakers Aim to Prevent Trump From Bypassing Ban on Armed Drone Sales

NYT > Middle East

The move set off a wave of criticism from many Democratic and some Republican lawmakers, who said the decision undermined the pact. By ignoring a part of the agreement it finds inconvenient, they say, the Trump administration is encouraging other nations to do the same. And the sale of advanced armed drones could lead to the proliferation of the technology across the globe. The lawmakers are especially concerned about sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have used American-made weapons to carry out a devastating war in Yemen that has left thousands of civilians, many of them children, dead. "If we allow Trump to start selling drones, we set a dangerous precedent that allows and encourages other countries to sell missile technology and advanced drones to our adversaries," Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement on Wednesday.


US senators want to block drone sales to Saudis

Al Jazeera

Republican and Democratic senators introduced legislation on Thursday that would block international sales of United States-made drones to countries that are not close US allies, mentioning Saudi Arabia in particular. Reuters broke the news in June that President Donald Trump's administration planned to reinterpret the Missile Technology Control Regime, a Cold War arms agreement between 35 nations, with the goal of allowing US defence contractors to sell more drones to an array of nations. Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul, Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Chris Coons, and Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, introduced the measure. It would amend the Arms Export Control Act to prohibit the export, transfer or trade of many advanced drones except to countries that are NATO members and to Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and Israel, they said in a news release. US lawmakers have tried before to rein in Trump administration plans for arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for use in the war in Yemen.


Air Force tech stops drones from being shot down

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Senior Air Force commanders are employing new tactics, technologies and protocols to better safeguard drones from being shot down by enemy fire during missions. Air Force Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of U.S. Forces Europe, recently told reporters that senior U.S. military leaders are now in an effort to increase mission survivability for combat drones operating in high-risk areas. Responding to a question about an MQ-9 Reaper being shot down over Yemen last year, Harrigian emphasized that drone operations need to become less predictable to enemies. "There is something to be said for operating in a manner that offers us an opportunity to not be as predictable as we have been.


Saudi-led coalition hits Houthi-held areas in renewed air raids

Al Jazeera

Fighter jets belonging to a Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Houthi rebels have launched dozens of air raids on several Yemeni provinces, as the kingdom announced the start of a new military operation. The Houthi-run Al Masirah Media Network reported air raids on the capital, Sanaa, as well as Marib, al-Jouf, al-Bayda, Hajjah and Saada provinces throughout Wednesday and into the night. It said an elderly woman and a child were killed and four others wounded in Saada province. In Sanaa, residents described the air raids, which also struck the city's international airport, as "violent". Saudi state television reported earlier on Wednesday that the coalition had begun a military push against the Houthis after the group stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on the kingdom.


Human rights activists want to use AI to help prove war crimes in court

MIT Technology Review

In 2015, alarmed by an escalating civil war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia led an air campaign against the country to defeat what it deemed a threatening rise of Shia power. The intervention, launched with eight other largely Sunni Arab states, was meant to last only a few weeks, Saudi officials had said. Nearly five years later, it still hasn't stopped. By some estimates, the coalition has since carried out over 20,000 air strikes, many of which have killed Yemeni civilians and destroyed their property, allegedly in direct violation of international law. Human rights organizations have since sought to document such war crimes in an effort to stop them through legal challenges.


AQAP confirms death of leader, appoints successor: SITE

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula on Sunday confirmed the death of its leader, Qassim al-Rimi, and appointed a successor, weeks after the U.S. said it had "eliminated" the Islamist militant chief, SITE Intelligence group said. The announcement came in an audio speech delivered by AQAP religious official, Hamid bin Hamoud al-Tamimi, said the group, which monitors jihadi networks worldwide. "In his speech, Tamimi spoke at length about Rimi and his jihadi journey, and stated that Khalid bin Umar Batarfi is the new leader of AQAP," it said. SITE said Batarfi has appeared in many AQAP videos over the past several years and appeared to have been Rimi's deputy and group spokesman. President Donald Trump announced Rimi's death earlier this month, saying he had been killed in a U.S. "counterterrorism operation in Yemen."