Just one day after a very public denial that American forces were in the process of attacking sites in Northern Yemen, President Barack Obama ordered multiple cruise missile attacks on sites across the tiny, coastal nation.
The air strikes were coordinated with the government of President Ali Abdallah Saleh and the attacks left 120 killed, many of them civilians according to witnesses. President Obama called Saleh after the attack to “congratulate” him on the killings.
The Yemeni government denied any US role in the attacks, despite American officials’ admissions. This is largely in keeping with the Saleh government’s policy, as they angrily denied reports of Saudi attacks in the north as a myth even as the Saudi government was giving a press conference detailing the attack.
One Yemeni official however claimed that a local al-Qaeda “deputy” named Mohammed Saleh Mohammed Ali Al-Kazemi was slain, and that “scores” of al-Qaeda members were killed in the assorted attacks.
The conflict with al-Qaeda is just one of many conflicts currently going on in Yemen, including an enduring separatist movement in the south and an increasingly violent insurrection in the Shi’ite north. Technically Wednesday’s State Department denials appear to have been accurate, as the missile strikes were in a completely unrelated conflict from the one they were accused of taking part in.