Gregory D. Johnsen

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A Yemeni soldier in Al Hudaydah. The United Nations says that a planned assault led by the United Arab Emirates on that city and its port, which are held by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, would endanger hundreds of thousands of people. Credit Nabil Hassan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

More than three years into its pitiless war, the specter of more death, displacement and hunger is looming over Yemen. More than 600 people have been killed in the past few days as the forces backed by the United Arab Emirates have come within six miles or so of the Red Sea port of Al Hudaydah and the so-named city of 600,000 people, which is held by the Houthi rebels allied with Iran.

An all-out assault by emirates-backed forces on Al Hudaydah, the primary gateway for getting food, medicines and other essential supplies to Yemen, is expected any moment. The attack on the port and the adjacent city is expected to lead to a protracted and bloody confrontation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Somewhere in Yemen are about two dozen individuals whom the U.S. is looking to capture or kill. These are al-Qaeda’s senior operational leaders, the men administration officials think are plotting to attack the U.S. and its interests abroad.

To kill them, the U.S. has carried out dozens of air and drone strikes -- the most conservative estimate puts the number at 91 -- over the past 3 1/2 years. Few strikes have been successes. They have killed a lot of people but very few of the top commanders.

Since December 2009, the U.S. has killed somewhere between 632 and 1,231 people in Yemen.…  Seguir leyendo »

With the resignation of David H. Petraeus, President Obama now has a chance to appoint a new C.I.A. director. Unfortunately, one of the leading candidates for the job is John O. Brennan, who is largely responsible for America’s current flawed counterterrorism strategy, which relies too heavily on drone strikes that frequently kill civilians and provide Al Qaeda with countless new recruits. Rather than keeping us safe, this strategy is putting the United States at greater risk.

For all of the Obama administration’s foreign policy successes — from ending the war in Iraq to killing Osama bin Laden — the most enduring policy legacy of the past four years may well turn out to be an approach to counterterrorism that American officials call the “Yemen model,” a mixture of drone strikes and Special Forces raids targeting Al Qaeda leaders.…  Seguir leyendo »

Late Thursday night, amid rumors that he was about to resign after almost 33 years in power, a defiant President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen went on national television to criticize demonstrators and declare a general amnesty for soldiers who had gone over to the opposition. His brief remarks were the latest act in a week of tense political drama in which scores of protesters in the capital were killed and Mr. Saleh’s most important military ally defected.

The protests in Yemen have been building since Feb. 11, when Hosni Mubarak stepped down in Egypt. What started small has now grown into a mass movement uniting, at least temporarily, the varied interests of Yemen’s fractured opposition around the single demand that President Saleh leave office.…  Seguir leyendo »

Early last week, as a federal court in Washington was hearing arguments over the Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing of an American linked to Al Qaeda, the man at the center of the case was having his own say. The same day, Nov. 8, Anwar al-Awlaki appeared in a 23-minute video that concluded: “Don’t consult anyone in killing Americans. Fighting Satan doesn’t require a religious ruling.”

The coincidental timing of the video added to the urgency of a case the judge has called “extraordinary and unique.” Unique, indeed. But in truth Mr. Awlaki is hardly significant in terms of American security.…  Seguir leyendo »