Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Crucial States

Wall Street Journal ($) on the deepening Pentagon / UAE partnership in Yemen --

The American relationship with the U.A.E. has grown stronger under Mr. Mattis, a former Marine general who officials say has long been a fan of the professionalism, discipline and focus of the Emirati forces, particularly in the fight in Yemen. U.S. officials often refer warmly to the U.A.E. “We love them; they are ‘Little Sparta,’” said one official, referring to the warrior city-state in ancient Greece. 

 As strong as those forces are, they still require hand-holding, said one U.S. military official. But another official said the discipline of the Emiratis was on display when they took the fight to AQAP in Mukalla, a coastal city in central Yemen last year. “They were an Arab force who had skin in the game, they were getting into firefights, they were bleeding and not cowering, against the enemies of our country” said another U.S. official. “The U.S. looks at this and says, how could we not partner with them?” 

 The shift comes at a time when the U.S. is trying to get “back into the game” in Yemen, according to another U.S. official, after American counterterrorism operations there were curtailed in 2015 in the wake of the collapse of the Yemeni government. The U.S. and U.A.E. worked closely together during a Jan. 29 U.S.-led ground raid that led to the death of American Navy SEAL, Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens. The new chapter of the relationship between the two countries was teed up by the Obama administration, said a former U.S. official, but the Trump White House is pushing it further.

The Little Sparta meme (now a film!) apparently comes from James Mattis himself (so why it need to be attributed to another official is not clear). But what is clear from the article is the euphemistic language being used in the Washington DC corridors of power about Yemen -- what is on the ground a flattened country on the brink of famine is all about cliches and catchphrases: "skin in the game," "back in the game," and of course "partner" -- who doesn't love partners!

They're probably too polite in Dubai and Abu Dhabi to say that the US has a strange way of showing its gratitude, with the electronic device ban on Etihad and Emirates.

Image: IMDB.

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