Yemen: U.S. drone attacks may target opponents of regime who are not Al Qaeda
While the U.S. official goal in Yemen attacks is to strike Al Qaeda the attacks are escalating and may be directed against those simply opposed to the present regime rather than being Al Qaeda groups aiming to attack the U.S. However, the U.S. actions may very well causing militant groups to decide to link with Al Qaeda and contemplate attacking U.S. targets.
While the official justification for extra-judicial killings in these attacks is that the groups attacked represent an imminent threat to the U.S. and hence the attacks are self-defense. However groups such as Ansar Al Sharia who control parts of several provinces were not clearly threats to the U.S. as contrasted with AQAP but they are now characterized as Al Qaeda linked whatever that means. No doubt they may be now they have been subject to U.S. attacks!
Saleh's former vice-president Major Abdu Mansour Hadi is now president and seemingly very supportive of the U.S.surge in drone attacks. In return Hadi receives aid and fulsome praise from the U.S. in spite of the fact he was a fixture in the Salah regime and ran unopposed for the presidency. He is a model figure for democratic transition according to U.S.. authorities.
Jeremy Scahill writes in the Nation that the drone strikes and support for the Yemen government is producing more anti-Americanism and garners recruits for international terrorist acts. As Charles Schmitz a Yemen expert said:: ”The more the U.S. applies its current policy, the stronger Al Qaeda seems to get.”
A former U.S. ambassador to Yemen said:“Drones are a weapon of terror in many ways, and the kind of hostility this is going to breed may not be worth the counter-terrorism gains,” However no one in the Obama administration pays the slightest heed to these warnings. The same type of statement has been made about attacks in Pakistan and with the same results. For more see this article..
Stars and Stripes the U.S. military newspaper also has an excellent account of these drone attacks. The newspaper is often a source of solid information often ignored by the regular press. Here is a snippet from their article:
"" Hadi "has shown the will and ability to make the changes. ... It's a matter of getting the right focus and the right plan and someone to lead it," the senior Defense official said.
Heavily armed American soldiers have begun appearing in large numbers at the Sheraton Hotel in the capital, Sana, a Yemeni official said. ""
It is clear that Hadi is being coached to go in the direction that the U.S. wants. Clear too is the presence of U.S. special forces on the ground in Yemen.