After an attack on a Saudi frigate, mounted by Houthi rebels, the US has decided to redeploy a familiar destroyer off the coast of Yemen. The USS Cole, which fell victim to an al-Qaeda bombing in 2000 off the same coast, will recommence its patrols of the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. The destroyer will serve as protection for all American interests on the water.
The repositioning of the USS Cole comes just after President Trump’s ground mission in Yemen: a raid on an al-Qaeda camp conducted by Navy SEALs. The goal was to retrieve valuable intel from the compound, but instead saw the death of one SEAL, three more injured, and the killing of numerous civilians, including an American girl; the daughter of a deceased al-Qaeda leader. The mission had complications from the start, including a hard landing made by an Osprey helicopter.
William Ryan Owens was the SEAL Team Six member who fell during combat in Yemen, the first American casualty under President Trump. Nawar al-Alwaki, also known as Nora, was the US-born daughter of al-Qaeda radical Anwar al-Alwaki, who was killed in a drone strike in 2011. Nora was killed during the firefight between SEAL raiders and al-Qaeda forces.
Yemen has been subjected to an onslaught from nearly every front: Iranian-backed Houthi rebels resist coalition and pro-government fighters with their back against the Red Sea, which keeps them well supplied. Government forces, on top of combatting the rebels, suffer internal attacks by al-Qaeda terrorists. Such turmoil has garnered the interest of President Trump, who’s military efforts seem to be focused on Yemen.
US and Saudi Arabian cooperation has made for a relentless series of bombings and skirmishes throughout the country, but has yet to root the rebels from their fortresses. Until coalition troops can liberate the ports to the Red Sea from rebel control, the Houthi movement will stay fed and armed. Under a new presidency, US involvement may step up from arms sales and support to legitimate ground presence. Al-Qaeda terror sects, who have a strong hold on Yemen, would likely remain the American focus, while Saudi fighting forces would continue with their offense against the Houthi resistance.
Reports state that the Houthi militia members who attacked the Saudi frigate believed they were attacking an American ship. The USS Cole returns to rectify its original assault, and could perhaps serve as a foothold for more immediate US military action along the coast, after such claims have come through.