The world is safer now that there’s one less Al Qaeda terrorist inhabiting it, but Trump’s successful strike against USS Cole bomber Jamal al-Badawi in central Yemen also served several tangential domestic and international purposes, too.
The news just broke that Trump successfully took out USS Cole bomber Jamal al-Badawi after ordering a strike on the terrorist’s position in the mountainous Yemeni heartland, which is a cause for celebration among those who remember the attack that he masterminded in 2000. The world’s definitely much safer with one less Al Qaeda terrorist inhabiting it, but the President also accomplished a few other tangential domestic and international objectives through this assassination even if they weren’t part of the reason why he gave the go-ahead for this strike.
On the international front, Trump showed that the US is still very involved in the Yemeni conflict in spite of the criticism about it coming from some factions of his government in the aftermath of Khashoggi’s killing. Instead of directly aiding the Saudis with their aerial campaign, however, the US is now signaling that its involvement also has a crucial anti-terrorist component to it as well. Importantly, by striking deep in the Yemeni heartland, it’s also showing just how far its military reach extends and reminds everyone that it has intelligence on the ground capable of giving it an accurate idea of what’s happening there too.
There’s a chance that this terrorist’s location in his native country might be seized upon by Trump’s domestic “deep state” rivals and the Saudis’ international enemies to highlight the fact that Al Qaeda has experienced a resurgence in Yemen as a result of the Kingdom’s nearly four-year war on it, therefore adding further pressure on the President to distance himself from his allies. That said, Trump might also have an opportunity to retort that the 2000 USS Cole bombing preceded the country’s civil war by 15 years in an attempt to deflect one of the most popular criticisms of the Saudi campaign.
Either way, Jamal al-Badawi’s assassination brings an “exotic country” to the forefront of Americans’ attention amid the “controversial” government shutdown, potentially serving as a “convenient” distraction for Trump and also allowing him to reassure his people that their international security needs are still being attended do in spite of the budget crisis. This highly symbolic kill will surely be celebrated by both parties because there’s no way that even the Democrats can deny this “victory” to Trump, though they’ll probably try to downplay it for obvious reasons.
All told, Trump will assuredly attempt to leverage his successful anti-terrorist strike in Yemen to his international and domestic advantage to promote his reputation as being “tough on terror”, which can win him political points both at home and abroad, albeit for different reasons. This symbolic event probably won’t remain in the news for long, however, given the multitude of other more important events that are taking place around the world, but it’ll at least give him a temporary respite from the negative news cycle that he regularly has to deal with.
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Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.