Wednesday Jan 23, 201305:35 PM GMT
Yemeni minister condemned US drone war
Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:34PM
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A Yemeni cabinet minister on Tuesday criticized the U.S.’s drone war in Yemen, a tactic that is supposed to eliminate alleged al-Qaeda threats, but which often kills civilians and generates outrage among the local population.


“To have an innocent person fall, this is a major breach,” Yemeni Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashhour told Reuters.


“I am in favor of changing the anti-terrorism strategy, I think there are more effective strategies,” she said, that “can be applied on the ground without harming civilians and without leading to human rights violations.”


Washington bribes the Yemeni regime of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi with money and military aid in exchange for allowing the U.S. to relentlessly bomb the country with drones.


The Washington Post reported last month that the Yemeni government as a policy tries to conceal when U.S. drones kill civilians, instead automatically and systematically describing the victims as al-Qaeda militants, regardless of the truth.


It is rare for members of the Yemeni government to speak out against the drones, but a member of parliament similarly denounced the drone war last October.


“At first people didn’t talk, but after Radaa, things have changed,” said parliamentarian Ali Abd-Rabbu al-Qadi, referring to a drone strike in September that killed 12 civilians in the town of Radaa. “These air strikes prepare the ground for al-Qaeda and terrorism.”


The expanding drone war in Yemen, which often kills civilians, does in fact cause blowback and help al-Qaeda recruitment - as attested to by numerous Yemen experts, investigative reporting on the ground, polling, testimony from Yemen activists, and the actual fact that recent bungled terrorist attacks aimed at the U.S. have cited such drone attacks as motivating factors.


After another September drone strike that killed 13 civilians, a local Yemeni activist told CNN, “I would not be surprised if a hundred tribesmen joined the lines of al-Qaeda as a result of the latest drone mistake. This part of Yemen takes revenge very seriously.”


“Our entire village is angry at the government and the Americans,” a Yemeni villager named Mohammed told the Post. “If the Americans are responsible, I would have no choice but to sympathize with al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda is fighting America.”


Many in the U.S. intelligence community also believe the drone war is contributing to the al-Qaeda presence in Yemen. Robert Grenier, who headed the CIA’s counter-terrorism center and was previously a CIA station chief in Pakistan, told The Guardian in June that he is “very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”


“We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield,” he said regarding drones in Yemen.


On Tuesday, reported that U.S. drones killed 17 people in Yemen in four straight days.


Strikes against Yemen escalated dramatically in 2012, and the large number of strikes so far in January suggest this will continue to be a growing target for U.S. drones going forward.


U.S. drone strikes have also become a permanent feature of life for people of Pakistan and Afghanistan.


A report by researchers at the Stanford and NYU schools of law found in September that the drone program is “terrorizing” the people of Pakistan and that it is having “counterproductive” effects.


"The number of 'high-level' militants killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low -- estimated at just 2% [of deaths]", says the Stanford/NYU report.


The United States carried out more drone strikes last year in Afghanistan than it has during its eight-year-long air war in Pakistan, launching 447 strikes and killing thousands. RT


AFP reported that new Pentagon plans would heighten the U.S. reliance on drones in Afghanistan.


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