Mark Collins – Bloody Yemen Friday Update–Note “shit-hot” Brit Spookery

At Defense One’sD-Brief“:

The war in Yemen is getting a little less foggy—and bringing some joint U.S.-British intelligence capabilities into sharp focus, according to a Vice News investigation. “Following interviews with more than two dozen current and former British, American, and Yemeni officials, VICE News can reveal that the UK played a crucial and sustained role with the CIA in finding and fixing targets, assessing the effect of strikes, and training Yemeni intelligence agencies to locate and identify targets for the US drone program.” Given the difficulty of placing and safely concealing Westerners in Yemen, “Networks of human intelligence — sources on the ground — were therefore invaluable in locating targets, and this is where the British came in.”

As one British intel official said: “Our station people were pretty shit-hot [would a Brit really speak thus?].” Read exactly how, here.

But it’s not all good news for the U.S. and its pals in Yemen: an investigation by Human Rights Watch “found remnants of a GBU-31 satellite-guided bomb, which combines a 2,000-pound MK-84 bomb with a [J]DAM satellite guidance kit,” Vice reports. “The team [also] reviewed footage and photographs taken by British TV journalists two days prior, which it said showed ‘remnants of an MK-84 bomb paired with a Paveway laser guidance kit.’”

Why this matters: at least 97 civilians on March 15 were killed in the strike where the remnants were found, while only 10 Houthi fighters were believed to have died in the airstrike on that Yemeni market in the northwestern village of Mastaba.

Your Friday #LongRead: the war in Yemen has made al-Qaeda more powerful and more wealthy, a Reuters investigation reveals: “If Islamic State’s capital is the Syrian city of Raqqa, then al Qaeda’s is Mukalla, a southeastern Yemeni port city of 500,000 people. Al Qaeda fighters there have abolished taxes for local residents, operate speedboats manned by RPG-wielding fighters who impose fees on ship traffic, and make propaganda videos in which they boast about paving local roads and stocking hospitals.”

As a result, the group has reportedly “extorted $1.4 million from the national oil company and earns up to $2 million every day in taxes on goods and fuel coming into the port.” Read the full report, here


Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


7 thoughts on “Mark Collins – Bloody Yemen Friday Update–Note “shit-hot” Brit Spookery”

  1. Saudi, UAE and gov’t forces doing well vs AQAP–at Defense One’s “D-Brief” (further links at original):

    The Saudi-led coalition says it killed 800 al-Qaeda fighters from its Yemeni branch’s “main stronghold” in the south-central coastal city of Al Mukalla, where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula had “established [an] unprecedented level of governance” after more than a year of holding the city and gaining the acquiescence of the locals. The offensive on Mukalla began early Sunday with a hail of airstrikes as Saudi and Emirati special forces, along with supporters of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, advanced into Mukalla. “Yemeni and U.A.E. troops advanced to the outskirts of the city of some 300,000 Sunday before mediation by Islamic clerics led to a withdrawal by AQAP fighters who fled westward,” the WSJ reported.

    Gloating. “A coalition-allied commander in Al Mukalla told Saudi-owned Al Arabiya television later Sunday that the forces ‘made progress in record time’ against AQAP, considered one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous branches. The commander, Maj. Awad Salmeen, said the forces had taken over the local airport and an oil terminal, and that the city’s seaport was close to being under control.”

    Let’s do the numbers: “The United Nations estimates that more than 6,200 people have died as a result of the conflict. Millions more have been forced to move from their homes, and the U.N. considers much of the country to be on the brink of famine,” WSJ adds…’

    Mark Collins

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