MILITARY

Once Obama's model for fighting extremists, US counterterrorism strategy collapses

FILE - In this March 21, 2015, photo, Members of a militia group loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, known as the Popular Committees, chew qat as they sit next to their tank, guarding a major intersection in Aden, Yemen. Once hailed by President Barack Obama as a model for fighting extremism, the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen has all but collapsed as the country descends into chaos, according to U.S. and Yemeni officials. (AP Photo/Hamza Hendawi, File)

FILE - In this March 21, 2015, photo, Members of a militia group loyal to Yemen's President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, known as the Popular Committees, chew qat as they sit next to their tank, guarding a major intersection in Aden, Yemen. Once hailed by President Barack Obama as a model for fighting extremism, the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen has all but collapsed as the country descends into chaos, according to U.S. and Yemeni officials. (AP Photo/Hamza Hendawi, File)  (The Associated Press)

U.S. and Yemeni officials say the U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Yemen has all but collapsed as the country descends into chaos.

Operations against militants have been scaled back dramatically amid the fall of the government and evacuation of U.S. personnel. What had been consistent pressure on Yemen's al-Qaida affiliate has been relieved, the officials say, and a safe haven exists for the development of an Islamic State offshoot.

It's a swift transformation for an anti-terror campaign President Barack Obama heralded just six months ago as the template for efforts to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The shift has left Obama open to criticism that he failed to anticipate the risks of a strategy that aims to put fragile governments and beleaguered local security forces at the forefront.