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Drone Strikes Cause Fierce Blowback In Yemen

by Oui Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 06:08:56 AM EST

In addition to recent comments - Obama administration authorized recent drone strikes in Yemen - The Washington Post.

In Yemen lies the roots of Al Qaeda, the Base, and a long history of militancy and Saudi Arabia intervention. BBC reporter Yalda Hakim in an Our World documentary: Yemen, America's New Front Line. She went undercover in an AQ invested region inside Yemen. With a local team she talked to the Yemeni people living under constant fear of a helicopter or drone strike. The area was extremely dangerous and she had to move swiftly without staying in one location for more than ten minutes. Her story in a BBC article ...

Why drone attacks in Yemen are like 'trying to hit a ghost'

(BBC News) -  US drone strikes have been effective in killing senior al-Qaeda leaders in Yemen but innocent civilians have also died, raising tensions in the impoverished and fragile country.

The streets of the coastal town of Zinjibar in southern Yemen are reduced to rubble. Buildings are bombed out. This town was on the front line of a battle between the Yemeni army and al-Qaeda in June 2012.

Government forces prevailed and one of al-Qaeda's most dangerous offshoots - al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) - slunk into the shadows. But it remains dangerous. Al-Qaeda cells still operate here and there is also the risk of bandits who rob and kidnap.

Drones don't differentiate, they kill people

Continued below the fold ...

Drones don't differentiate, they kill people

In a safe house with guards stationed outside, Mohammed Ahmad Bagash, a mechanic from the nearby town of Jaar, tells me his story.

During the fighting, al Qaeda fighters stored ammunition in the local hospital against the wishes of the doctors. After the hospital was hit by a missile strike, Mohammed and his two children ran to a school and hid in the basement. But then the school was hit in a suspected drone strike ...

And then another man joins the conversation. I ask him who he blames for the destruction of his town. "Al-Qaeda are responsible for this and the nations that fund them."

    "But also the drones, they are killing our people, killing our children and destroying our homes. The drones don't differentiate between people. They kill people."

There is little public support for al-Qaeda on the streets of Zinjibar, but plenty of anger over the strategy used to fight them.

    "Show the world. Show the world what the government has done. They bomb here but they're trying to hit a ghost."

Questions of legitimacy

And a young Yemeni democracy campaigner has a worrying message for Washington. Farea al-Muslimi said:

"The US thinks it understands Yemen but the drones have been one of the most effective tools for AQAP to succeed in Yemen. A big part of al-Qaeda power at the moment is convincing Yemenis that they are in a war with America, (that) America is attacking the sovereignty of Yemen and this government is non-legitimate."

Farea al-Muslimi is one of the most pro-American voices in Yemen. He testified in front of a US Senate committee in a personal capacity after his own village was struck by a drone. He thinks the US is wrong to stay silent when civilians are being killed in targeted strikes. Testimony on video - YouTube.

"You're killing civilians for no reason," said Mr al-Muslimi. "And you're not even going to say sorry after that or admit it, or issue an apology, or pay compensation?"

US drones strain on Yemeni's dual loyalties

Nobel prize winner Tawakkol Karman in 2011 protests against dictator Saleh

Back in January, when the Arab Spring didn't even have a name, Yemeni authorities threw Tawakkol Karman in jail for two days for helping stage a rally in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital.

When I called Karman after her release to ask what happened, she replied in her usual, breathless fashion. "We're organizing a peaceful revolution to topple the president, just like in Tunisia," she said, as if it were the easiest plan in the world. An impossible quest, I thought. A few hundred students and activists would be no match for Yemen's wily and repressive President Ali Abdullah Saleh. But Yemen's protest movement quickly swelled to hundreds of thousands.

Obama has deplored the attacks in Yemen and called for Saleh's immediate resignation. But like other world leaders, he has been reluctant to seek sanctions against Saleh, who has been a fickle yet close partner in combating Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Indeed, Yemeni officials have decried Obama's continued insistence that Saleh must go following Yemen's cooperation in a controversial U.S. drone strike last month that killed the Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Obama describes Awlaki as an al-Qaeda leader. [see my diary of US cruise missile attack in late 2009 killing 120 people]

Like many Yemeni women who have joined the protests, Karman has been beaten, harassed and threatened with jambiyas, the traditional Yemeni daggers that many men carry in their belts. She and her relatives have received death threats. She expects the threats against her will subside now that she is in the spotlight.

Child brides and forced marriages are widespread -- judges are not even required to ensure girls' free consent before notarizing marriage contracts. In August, a 12-year-old bride required emergency medical treatment after being drugged and raped by her 50-year-old husband. When women are murdered in Yemen, their families receive half the sum allotted for men who are killed.

In this climate, women's participation in protests in Yemen is an act of exceptional bravery. In April, President Saleh himself admonished women for joining the protests, saying "divine law does not allow" public mingling of the sexes. Women responded with further protests. With Karman as a Nobel laureate, perhaps even more Yemeni women will come out of the shadows.

Yemen: sectarian battle between Zaydi Shia Houthi insurgents and Salafist militants

See my diary - Yemen: Birthplace of Osama and Roots of Al Qaeda.

Some additional information after I posted diary:

US Air and Drone strikes in Yemen

Looking at air strike (not a drone) on Christmas Eve in 2009, Peter Bergen listed as number of dead 30. He uses early newspaper accounts as reference: NY Times and The Guardian. My diary and accounts I read, it was a cruise missile(s) attack killing 120 members of the Al-Awlaki tribe and failed to kill Anwar Al-Awlaki. The Yemeni journalist Abdulela Shaye who reported US complicity in the incident was jailed. President Saleh granted him a pardon, which was revoked after Saleh received a call from the Oval Office in Washington. Just like George Bush, the president doesn't appreciate investigative journalists telling the story of US transgressing the sovereignty of a nation. Shame!

From all accounts it was a revenge strike on the Al-Awlaqi tribe in Yemen for the Ford Hood killings by Major Hasan. The secrecy of the strike was imperative and Yemen claimed their Air Force executed the attack. That turned out to be a big lie. Already the Christmas bomber left Lagos, Nigeria to travel via Amsterdam (Israeli security services) with final destination Detroit.

 « click for story
Yemenis protest in Radfan, southern Yemen, against the government's dawn raid on suspected al-Qaida members that apparently left more than 30 militants dead. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)

Cross-posted from BooMan's fp story - We are drone-blasting the ever-loving shit out of Yemen. I hope it works.

'Sapere aude'

by Oui (Oui) on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 06:13:00 AM EST
Checking the situation after the Arab Spring:

Yemen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As a result of the Yemeni revolution, the constitution of Yemen is expected to be rewritten, and then new elections held in 2014. The national government administers the capital and largest cities, but some other regions are outside of its grasp, governed by armed militant groups which expanded their control during the chaos of the 2011-12 uprising. The two major groups are Ansar al-Sharia (a branch or affiliate of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), which has declared several "Islamic emirates" in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwah, and the Houthis, a Shiite rebel group centered in Sa'dah province.

And the guy supposed to lead the democratisation is the former vice-president Hadi, elected president with 99.8% of the votes (if anyone believes that). And the former presidents son and intended successor, General Ahmed Saleh is still around. So messy and unstable.

Can't find it right now, but Bob the angry flower had a comic from the Iraq war about how enough bombs would create love. Still relevant.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 06:42:10 AM EST
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 07:37:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yemen in fact is a failed state like Somalia, Mali, Northern Nigeria and now Iraq/Syria. South Yemen has a history of strife and interference by foreign powers from the era of the Soviet Union, People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, to present day intervention by Iran, Saudi Arabia and the US. I personally never understood the attack on the USS Cole. My first reaction was: "wtf who commanded a US Navy warship to anker in Yemen? A rogue state with Islamic militants running all over the place." Washington just never seems to learn and understand the mess they have created in their foreign policy. Ms Clinton included. Yemen is also divided along Shia/Sunni sectarian lines and is a battlefield between Iran and Saudi Arabia. I'm not sure what role the Salafists (Ansar al-Sharia), Wahhabists and the Muslim Brothers (Qatar) play in Yemen. Nobel laureate Tawakkol Karman was not permitted to enter Egypt just recently as a MB supporter.

Yemen uprising a colour revolution

Yemeni protesters wore pink ribbons to symbolise the "Jasmine Revolution" and indicate their non-violent intent. Shawki al-Qadi, a lawmaker and opposition figure, said pink was chosen to represent love and to signal that the protests would be peaceful. The preponderance of pink ribbons in the demonstrations showed the level of planning that went into the protests.

Domestic political strife in capital Sana'a turns violent

On 23 May, a day after Saleh refused to sign the transition agreement, Sheikh Sadiq al-Ahmar, the head of the Hashid tribal federation, one of the most powerful tribes in the country, declared support for the opposition and his armed supporters came into conflict with loyalist security forces in the capital Sana'a. Heavy street fighting ensued, which included artillery and mortar shelling. Saleh and several others were injured and at least five people were killed by a 3 June bombing of the presidential compound when an explosion ripped through a mosque [named after dictator Saleh] used by high-level government officials for prayer services.

VP Hadi was sole candidate in presidential election, to unite the military

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 08:54:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Report Documents the Human Cost of U.S. Drone Strikes in Yemen

(Rolling Stone) - There are more than 80 names at the end of a human rights report published online this week. Each one is said to belong to a civilian killed or maimed as a result of U.S. missile strikes in Yemen since 2009. They were mothers, fathers, children and grandparents - and they stand in contrast to claims that the United States does not launch missiles into Yemen unless there is a "near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured," as President Obama told the nation in May.

The names are preceded by 25 pages of detailed descriptions of U.S. airstrikes in Yemen and their consequences, offering a rare level of information on specific attacks and their physical, psychological and financial impacts on individual Yemeni civilians.

"For me, its power is in the totality," says Gregory D. Johnsen, a former Fulbright Fellow in Yemen and author of the book The Last Refuge: Yemen, Al Qaeda, and America's War in Arabia. "We tend to hear about these strikes in drips and drabs over the course of months and years, but the report is the most comprehensive one I've seen on U.S. strikes in Yemen."

 « click for anti-Saudi protest
Yemeni protesters in Sana'a burn a model of a US drone (EPA)

The innocents caught under the drones: For fearful Yemenis the US and al-Qa'ida look very similar

(The Independent) - The al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) plot, described vaguely by President Obama as a "threat stream", and the subsequent US embassy closure in Sana'a were far from the minds of most Yemenis. Most were more preoccupied with the approaching conclusion of Ramadan, the Eid al-Fitr celebrations and the political direction of the nation, most notably the United Nations-backed National Dialogue Conference, which aims at drafting a new constitution before elections in February.

Then, the calm and pre-Eid excitement in Sana'a was punctured on Tuesday morning, two days before the end of Ramadan. Sana'a residents were shocked and terrified by the strange buzzing sound that accompanied an unfamiliar aircraft hovering above the capital, which followed a morning drone strike in the Hadramaut region.

The buzzing induced terror in residents, and speculation between friends and family as well as on social media. The capital was abuzz with concern about drone strikes in different sections of the city. The terror was unquantifiable.

The resumption of US drone strikes in late July unleashed terror in the regions that were most affected: Hadramaut, Abyan and Ma'rib. Photos of the plane circulated on social media. In response, experts from around the world assured me and other Yemenis that this was "merely" a US P3 surveillance plane and not an actual drone. It was remarkable to witness foreigners assure us that an actual strike drone was not overhead, as if that was meant to provide some comfort.  

'Sapere aude'
by Oui (Oui) on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 01:55:13 PM EST

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