US Focused on Counterterrorism in Yemen, Lacks Strategy -Former CIA Officer

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The United States has blundered in Yemen by narrowly focusing on counterterrorism and ignoring the complicated political and regional dynamics, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer William Murray told Sputnik on Thursday.

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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States had focused on counterterrorism operations in Yemen because al-Qaeda is known to have a stronghold in the country, as well as ties to other terror organizations in the region, according to US officials.

In its attempts to bring stability to Yemen, following years of conflict and the unity government transition of 2011, the US has put its efforts and resources primarily toward counterterrorism, Murray explained.

“I think we [the United States] have made huge mistakes in this, incredibly focusing on counterterrorism. We’re looking at things through a drinking straw,” Murray said. “I don’t think we have a real strategy, a developed view of the whole area, the whole region,” he added.

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Prior to the ouster of Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi in September 2014 by Houthi rebels, the United States has been actively engaged in counterterror operations in Yemen, including drone strikes, backed by Hadi.

Rather than understanding the region, the people, and the politics, “we just deal with these manifestations [of terrorism] as they pop up,” he said.

The political impact of terrorist groups within Yemen, including al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State group, have very little impact on the outcome of the state as a whole, Murray argued.

“I don’t think [al-Qaeda] has any real relevance in Yemen… It’s a minor player,” he said.

Since Wednesday, Yemen's Houthi-controlled capital Sanaa has been under assault by a coalition of Arab and Gulf states led by Saudi Arabia. Members of the coalition stated that they are responding to requests from Hadi to protect him and the people of Yemen from the Houthis.

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