The US military has deployed a team of elite commandos to the Yemeni border to help Saudi Arabia in its military aggression against the impoverished Arab country.
“…late last year, a team of about a dozen Green Berets arrived on Saudi Arabia’s border with Yemen, in a continuing escalation of America’s secret wars,” according to a report carried by the New York Times on Thursday.
“With virtually no public discussion or debate, the Army commandos are helping locate and destroy caches of ballistic missiles and launch sites that Houthis in Yemen are using to attack Riyadh and other Saudi cities,” it said.
Details of the Green Beret operation, which has not been previously disclosed, were provided to The New York Times by United States officials and European diplomats.
They appear to contradict Pentagon statements that American military assistance to the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen is limited to aircraft refueling, logistics and general intelligence sharing.
There is no indication that the American commandos have crossed into Yemen as part of the secretive mission.
But sending American ground forces to the border is a marked escalation of Western assistance to target Houthi fighters who are deep in Yemen.
Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia and a member of the Armed Services Committee, on Thursday called the Green Berets mission a “purposeful blurring of lines between train and equip missions and combat.” He cited the report in The Times and called for a new congressional vote on the authorization for the use of military force — a war powers legislation used by three successive presidents in conflict zones around the world.
Enjoying strong support from the US and the UK, the Saudi regime and a group of its allies unleashed the military campaign against Yemen in March 2015 in the hope of crushing the Houthi movement and reinstalling a former Riyadh-friendly government.
Taking advantage of the Saudi war on Yemen, Washington has significantly stepped up its weapons sales over the past years.
A February report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Saudi Arabia has increased its arms purchases by 225 percent over the past five years, importing 98 percent of its weapons from the US and EU countries.
Washington’s weapon sales to Saudi Arabia include a $110-billion deal signed last May when US President Donald Trump visited the kingdom in his maiden foreign visit.
In March, when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the US, the State Department approved the sale of an estimated $670 million in anti-tank missiles in an arms package that also included spare parts for American-made tanks and helicopters previously bought by Riyadh.
Besides its complicity in the Saudi war, the US military is also engaged in a separate mission in Yemen, where Washington has been conducting airstrikes against what it claims to be al-Qaeda militants. Reports, however, say civilians have been the main victims.