Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Yemen Seeks Tighter Coordination After U.S. Raid
But officials denied a report that they had withdrawn permission for such operations

By SALEH AL-BATATI in Aden, Yemen, and  ASA FITCH in Dubai
Feb. 8, 2017 3:40 p.m. ET

Yemeni officials pushed for stronger counterterror cooperation with the U.S. after an American commando raid last month on an al Qaeda stronghold in Yemen resulted in casualties, but denied a report that they had revoked permission to conduct such raids.

Ahmed Bin Mubarak, Yemen’s ambassador to Washington, said Wednesday his government hadn’t withdrawn permission for the U.S. to carry out ground missions but had “made clear our reservations about the last operation.”

“We said that in the future there needs to be more coordination with Yemeni authorities before any operation and that there needs to be consideration for our sovereignty,” he added. “We are a partner with the United States in fighting terrorism.”

Two other officials in the internationally recognized government of Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi echoed those sentiments, saying they were looking for closer coordination with the U.S. rather than a suspension of raids.

The New York Times had earlier reported that Yemen withdrew permission for the U.S. to conduct raids on its soil, citing American officials.

The White House wouldn’t say Wednesday whether the U.S. had been asked to halt operations, saying it is working with Yemen “through diplomatic channels.”

“Yemen more than most countries fully appreciates the fight that we have against ISIS,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

Officials with the military’s U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces across the Middle East, said they have received no request to halt operations. “We haven’t been told or been ordered from the Pentagon to stop any planning or operations that we have at this time,” said Maj. Josh Jacques, a spokesman.

Pentagon officials referred questions to the State Department. Mark Toner, the State Department spokesman, said he was aware of the reports about the suspension and Yemen’s denial of those reports.

“The United States conducts operations consistent with international law and in coordination with the government of Yemen,” he said.

One American Navy SEAL and at least two dozen Yemenis were killed during a U.S. special operations forces raid on Jan. 29 in the remote village of Yakla in Yemen’s al-Bayda province, according to residents and Yemeni officials.

Among the dead were senior leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terror group’s potent Yemeni offshoot, according to residents, the U.S. military and AQAP leader Qasim al-Raymi, who urged retaliation after the raid.

It was the first such operation authorized under President Donald Trump, who put counterterrorism near the top of his agenda after taking office in January. Despite the Navy SEAL’s death and the U.S. military’s conclusion that civilians were likely killed in the operation, the Trump administration has defended the operation and called it a success.

The U.S. is continuing to carry out operations against AQAP in Yemen, including drone strikes, amid the country’s political turbulence.

Mr. Hadi has been fighting a war for almost two years against the country’s Shiite Muslim Houthi rebels, who control the capital, San’a. He is backed by a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia, the region’s leading Sunni Muslim power.

AQAP and other Sunni extremists oppose the Houthis, but have also carried out attacks targeting Mr. Hadi’s government.

—Felicia Schwartz and Carol E. Lee in Washington contributed to this article.

Write to Asa Fitch at

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