The United States may not have boots on the ground but that has not stopped the government from implementing fatal strikes in Yemen using drones. Saudi Arabia also recently used a double agent to foil an attack plot birthed in the country . From what I can tell it looks like Yemen in the new Afghanistan as far as being a lawless place for radicalized terrorist groups to congregate.
(The Atlantic) America’s Third War is escalating quickly in the skies over Yemen. Despite previous rebuffs from the White House, last month the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the CIA–which both run parallel drone campaigns in Yemen–were granted broad authority to conduct “signature strikes” against anonymous suspected militants, who are determined to support al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) based on the observed “patterns of suspicious behavior” from multiple intelligence sources.
A senior Obama administration official described the enlarged scope of targets as “broadening the aperture” for JSOC and CIA drones. By one estimate, there have been more drone strikes in the past month (seventeen, including two on Saturday) than in the preceding nine years, since the first strike on November 3, 2002. Meanwhile, there have been between ten and fifty other U.S. attacks on militants in Yemen using manned aircraft or naval platforms.
It is difficult to understand the scope of the campaign, as Yemeni officials claim to conduct the vast majority of the strikes. This is highly unlikely, however, given that many its pilots have been intermittently on strike since January, and Yemen’s Air Force capabilities are dismal–despite receiving $326 million in (overt) U.S. security assistance between 2007 and 2011, when a large chunk of military aid was suspended in response to the government’s violent crackdown against unarmed civilian protestors. As Air Force General Ali Abdullah Saleh Al Haymi told journalist Sharon Weinberger in March, “U.S. assistance was used to kill Yemeni people, not to kill al-Qaeda.”