At Defense One’s “D-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…