Obama, who is traveling in India, said that approach “is not neat and it is not simple, but it is the best option we have.”
“The alternative would be massive U.S. deployments in perpetuity, which would create its own blowback and cause probably more problems than it would potentially solve,” Obama said during a joint media appearance with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The president said that while he was concerned about the fragility of Yemen’s central government following the resignation last week of the U.S.-backed president and Cabinet, the country “has never been a perfect democracy or an island of stability.”
The instability in Yemen has raised concerns among some lawmakers about Obama’s broader anti-terror strategy. Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that more special operations forces may be need in countries battling extremists.
McCain, the new chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, accused the administration of being “delusional” in thinking that its strategy in the Middle East was working and said Iran was “on the march.” The Shiite rebels, known as Houthis, who now control Yemen’s capital of Sanaa are widely believed to be backed by Iran, though they deny having any support from the Islamic republic.
“We need more boots on the ground,” said McCain, R-Ariz. “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. It means forward air controllers. It means special forces, it means intelligence, and it means other capabilities.”