Yemen Airstrike and National Monuments

Grind for February 15th
“Take care to sell your horse before he dies. The art of life is passing losses on.”
– Robert Frost

Mission Completed

The Headline

Counterterrorism operation in Yemen kills al-Qaida leader

The Grind

President Trump confirmed the death of Qassim al-Rimi, leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), by a US airstrike.

Rimi, a Yemeni national, served as a top lieutenant under Osama bid Laden in Afghanistan before co-founding AQAP, the merging of al-Qaida branches in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. He was a likely candidate to succeed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaida who replaced bin Laden.

The Details

Rimi assumed leadership of AQAP following the death of the organization’s co-founder, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, by US drone strike in 2015.

AQAP recently claimed responsibility for the December 2019 terror attack at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida. The attack was conducted by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, an aviation student from Saudi Arabia.

Rimi has been blamed for attacks on US targets dating as far back as 2008. Before his death, the State Department had offered $10 million for information about his whereabouts.

In February 2017, Rimi evaded a US attack that resulted in the death of one Navy SEAL and 23 civilians and the destruction of a $90 million Osprey aircraft. The attack was considered successful because it killed 14 al-Qaida militants.

Follow Through

The Headline

Trump Administration allows energy developers and ranchers into formerly protected lands in Utah

The Grind

Roughly two million acres of land formerly protected as part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears monuments will soon be open to energy developers and ranchers, announced the federal Bureau of Land Management last week.

“These cooperatively developed and locally driven plans restore a prosperous future to communities too often dismissed and punished by unilateral decisions of those that would not listen to the voices of Utahns,” argues Casey Hammond, the Interior Department’s acting assistant secretary of land, materials, and minerals management.

The Details

The announcement is related to Trump’s 2017 decision to dramatically reduce the size of the two monuments, shrinking the Grand Staircase from 1.9 million acres to 1 million and the Bears Ears National Monument from 1.3 million acres to 228,000.

Both monuments were protected by the Antiquities Act, a law Trump says has been used to deprive Utah residents of their own land.

The Grand Staircase was designated in 1996 by President Clinton and the Bears Ears was created by President Obama in 2016. San Juan County, where Bears Ears is located, is one of the state’s poorest districts. More than 60% of the county’s land is owned by the government.

“President Trump’s decision to reduce these monuments allows us to still protect those areas that need protection, while at the same time keeping the area open and accessible to locals who depend on this land for their daily lives,” says Matt Anderson of the Utah-based Sutherland Institute. “When you designate a large national monument, you restrict access to the land and you block traditional uses of the land.”

Trump’s decision to open up the land is fiercely opposed by environmentalists and indigenous people, who insist the president does not have the authority to shrink national monuments.

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