Saturday, June 18, 2016

Declaring Victory and Going Home

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has declared the major combat operations phase of their role in the war in Yemen over:

The United Arab Emirates said Wednesday that the "war is over" for its troops in Yemen, though it may continue to keep them there for counterterrorism operations.

The war doesn't appear to be over, however:

Continued fighting on several fronts killed at least 48 people over the past day, according to Yemeni security officials. Another 65 people were wounded in combat between rebels and government forces around the besieged city of Taiz as well as in Shabwa, Jawf and Marib provinces.

And we are involved in targeting jihadis, of course.

So the war is hardly won, though the UAE wants to responsibly end its major role.

Still, I can't rule out that the UAE really has achieved enough to scale back to counterterrorism. As I wrote when the UAE went into Yemen:

If the Saudi-led coalition succeeds in smashing up the Iranian-supported Shia Houthi and seizing the capital, it will be an embarrassing contrast to our slow-motion build-up that I assume values production of PowerPoint presentations more than production of results on the ground.

And the ongoing ground offensive against Ramadi in Iraq is painfully slow--more than a month after I noted how painfully slow it is.

Not that smashing up the Houthi or ISIL in Iraq ends the war. But putting friendly forces back in charge of the ground and moving on to the COIN phase of rooting out enemies who no longer own the ground would be major progress.

Plus, Sunni rebels will remain a problem in Yemen.

And we'll have to get back to killing al Qaeda in Yemen as we did back when President Obama boasted that our drone camapign in Yemen was a model of American anti-terrorist efforts.

We'll see how that works out for them.