US May Send Jets to Yemen
But some are worried about a backlash
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2012 9:37 AM CDT
An anti-terrorist unit from the Central Security Forces of the Ministry of Interior trains in the Sarif area on the eastern outskirts of the capital Sana, in Yemen, Jan. 6, 2010.   (AP Photo, File)

(Newser) – The US military is considering sending military aircraft, vehicles, and other supplies to Yemen to help the government in its fight against terrorists. Yemen currently relies on beat-up Soviet-era helicopters and trucks, and some commanders tell the LA Times that upgrading those capabilities will allow them to capitalize on recent battlefield gains. But some officials in the White House, State Department, and the Pentagon itself are worried it will look like the US is taking sides in a civil war.

"This wasn't an American idea. It was a Yemeni idea and one worth considering given our common fight against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," one official said. He stressed that the US would remain in a support role; President Obama won't countenance anything more than that. But some think an increase in what that "support role" means will produce a strong backlash in the Middle East, given the murky, tribal nature of the conflict in Yemen. "It invites a lot of attention that would not be helpful," one official said.