Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says the Obama administration failed to anticipate that Iranian-backed Houthis rebels could, or would, oust the Yemeni government which had been a strong U.S. counter-terrorism ally.
“With respect to the Houthis in Yemen, I think our assessment is that no one anticipated, probably even the Houthis themselves, the success that they had, success defined from their point of view, in causing the toppling of the government and the subsequent humanitarian disaster that has occurred in Yemen,” Mr. Carter said, after meeting this week with Saudi Arabian rulers as part of a Middle East tour to ease concerns about the new nuclear agreement with Iran.
The U.S. had to make a hasty retreat from Yemen, with images of U.S. military personnel boarding rushed flights to safety.
Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim state, says the Shiite Muslim Iran is trying to dominate the region, including Yemen on its southern boarder and the gateway from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf. The kingdom has launched air strikes against Houthis targets and condemned Iran’s interference.