US strikes in Yemen can be game changer

Tuesday's air strikes came after a long pause, and took the dreaded militia by surprise.

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Published: Thu 24 Mar 2016, 5:51 PM

Hours after militants struck Brussels, Washington came down hard on Al Qaeda in Ye-men and flew sorties, which reportedly killed more than 70 fighters. Though there is no link between the two incidents, the common denominator is that the war against terrorism is undeterred.
Tuesday's air strikes came after a long pause, and took the dreaded militia by surprise. Pentagon says the target was an Al Qaeda training camp near the city of Mukalla.
The US had previously conducted drone attacks and air strikes in Yemen, but the long lull had provided militants with an opportunity to regroup and reconnect with their affiliates in Yemen and abroad. Since the fall of Iraq and Afghanistan, militants had swiftly moved into Yemen and the strife-torn Arab country had become a breeding ground for terrorists in the Middle East and Africa.
At least 7,000 people have been killed in Yemen after the Houthi aggression in 2015, which tore apart the country on sectarian lines. This has come as an opportunity for Al Qaeda and its affiliates, including Daesh, which has been digging its heels deep in the warzone. The question is will these US air strikes against Al Qaeda, and the like, make any difference on the security mosaic of the Middle East? Washington is widely criticised by its allies for taking a backseat, as the region is in a meltdown at the hands of terrorists and unscrupulous elements. President Barack Obama's failure to act in Syria, and allow Iraq go down the drain, as Daesh marched across its territory, is being seen as a sign of weakness.
In such a scenario, America's renewed involvement in Yemen has raised many eye-brows. Russia's proactive involvement in the region has negated the traditional role that Washington had played in the Middle East and Asia. Pentagon should specifically take care that its action is soundly backed by intelligence, and doesn't come to bleed the civilians, as it did in Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is no room for collateral damage, anymore. It goes without saying that the US has to lead from the front in taking out the extremist network, and at the same time reengage itself constructively in the region.

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