CENTCOM Chief Insists ‘Vital’ US Interests at Stake in Yemen War

Adds to Mattis Call to Escalate Direct Involvement

Defense Secretary James Mattis has been reported recently to be pushing for deeper direct US military involvement in the Saudi invasion of Yemen, and it seems he’s getting backing from top Pentagon brass as well, with the Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel today arguing that the US has “vital interests” in participating in the war.

Officials are falsely presenting the US as basically uninvolved to this point, despite US in-air refueling operations and naval participation in the blockade of ships to Yemen. Votel also focused heavily on the idea of Iran being involved in the war, despite no real evidence that is the case.

Votel’s argument was split into two parts, with one arguing that Iran is “destabilizing the region” and that the US has to confront them militarily, even if in this case it just means attacking Shi’ites with little but tangential ties to Iran’s own brand of Shi’a Islam. He also argued for more US involvement to disrupt to local al-Qaeda faction, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Which doesn’t make much sense either, since the Saudi invasion all but ignored AQAP for most of its invasion, and has instead focused on fighting Shi’ites to the exclusion of everything else. It was this invasion that resulted in Shi’ite factions losing substantial territory to AQAP in the first place, territory the Saudis largely have not recovered yet.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of Antiwar.com.