US drone attack in Yemen every day this month
The US has conducted more than 15 drone attacks in Yemen since the beginning of June, a Yemen defense ministry official said.
US officials said the CIA would operate in coordination with the US Joint Special Operations Command, which has been flying Predators and other remotely piloted planes over Yemen for much of the past year. The new approach is a significant escalation of the clandestine American war in Yemen and a substantial expansion of the CIA’s drone war.
US officials say the Yemini government has approved the aggressive use of drones. The Yemeni government denies that.
US officials have testified repeatedly in recent months that Yemen’s arm of al Qa’eda – al Qa’eda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – represents the most immediate terrorism threat to American targets. At a hearing before a Senate committee on Thursday, the director of the CIA, Leon Panetta confirmed that the agency had expanded its counterterrorism programs in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.
Salem Sakheer, a Shabwa resident, said that with the Yemeni government in disarray, he expects more drone attacks. “We knew the Yemeni government would allow US to attack our areas after the death of Bin Laden,” he said. “We have a weak government now and the blood of Yemenis will be spilt without any questioning.”
The Yemen defense official, who requested anonymity, said he was worried that US strategy may backfire. “United States is turning Yemen into another Pakistan,” he said. He said relatives of innocent drone-attack victims will seek to avenge the deaths and resort to terror.
Ali Abdul Jabbar, director of Dar Ashraf research centre, said , “The attacks will increase and the US will help in turning Yemen into a terrorist stronghold.”
[Excerpted from The National]