Two U.S. senators – a Republican and a Democrat – called for an increased American presence in Yemen this morning on CBS’ Face the Nation.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Cali., both said that an increase in American presence in Yemen might be necessary to stop Iranian influence in the country.
McCain said that “Iran is on the march in Yemen.”
He said that the White House’s version of events “is contradicted by the situation on the ground,” and that they lack a strategy to defeat the threat.
“We have got to have boots on the ground. We have got to have training capability,” said McCain. “We need more boots on the ground. I know that’s a tough thing to say, and a tough thing for Americans to swallow, but it doesn’t mean the 82nd airborne.”
Last week, Shiite rebel militiamen seized Yemen’s presidential palace, forcing the country’s American-supported president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, to resign.
The militiamen — known as Houthi rebels — oppose al-Qaeda but carry anti-American sentiment and are backed by Iran.
Feinstein said that she agreed with McCain about Yemen, and that the “future [there] is unknown, which really should not be the case.”
Feinstein said Obama is in a difficult position because “the American people don’t want another war.”
“Where McCain is right, is that we need some special operations in these countries, on the ground, more than just advisors,” she said.
She added that we need to “be more pronounced” about protecting our allies such as Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
According to the Associated Press, President Obama has refused to increase the number of U.S. military personnel in Yemen “despite the deteriorating security condition in that country.”
McCain leads the Senate Armed Services Committee, and Feinstein is the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.