Blowback Fears Grow over US Drone Program in Yemen

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Common Dreams

Blowback Fears Grow over US Drone Program in Yemen

'Every US attack conducted in Yemen only grows al Qaeda's power'

by
Common Dreams staff

Five U.S. drone strikes killed six suspected al Qaeda militants in the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa on Monday.

In the aftermath of a series of US drone attacks in Yemen  -- which US officials never officially acknowledge (except when they do) --  concern is growing that the airstrikes are strengthening, not hindering, militant networks in the region.  Though 'unnamed' security or military officials in Yemen often claim only "Al Qaeda members" or "militants" are killed, there is rarely media confirmation, especially in the US media, about who or how many individuals are killed.

Fears are growing that the secretive US drone program will create a violent backlash and further destabilize a country teetering on the brink.

"U.S. involvement is far more than ever in Yemen. We have no evidence that all those being killed are terrorists," Abdul Salam Mohammed, director of Abaad Strategic Center, told CNN. "With every U.S. attack that is conducted in Yemen al Qaeda is only growing in power and we have to ask ourselves why that is happening."

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Agence France-Presse reports:

... a suspected US drone strike in Shabwa province killed five Al-Qaeda militants, a local government official said.

The strike was in the Kharama area between the towns of Azzan and Huta.

The deadly raid comes just days after three local Al-Qaeda leaders were killed in an air strike on their car in Bayda, about 210 kilometres (130 miles) southeast of Sanaa.

The defence ministry said Saturday's raid was conducted by Yemeni warplanes, but a security official told AFP a US drone was responsible.

The United States has never formally acknowledged the use of drones against Al-Qaeda in Yemen, considered by Washington to be the most active and deadly branch of the global terror network and a major focus of its "war on terror."

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CNN: U.S. strikes will cause a backlash

Experts are concerned that the growing number of U.S. strikes will cause a backlash and hurt the Yemen's efforts in fighting terrorism.

According to two Defense Ministry officials, at least 11 U.S. attacks were conducted on Yemeni soil over the last week alone.

"U.S. involvement is far more than ever in Yemen. We have no evidence that all those being killed are terrorists," Abdul Salam Mohammed, director of Abaad Strategic Center, told CNN.

"With every U.S. attack that is conducted in Yemen al Qaeda is only growing in power and we have to ask ourselves why that is happening."

On Monday, the Defense Ministry announced that seven al Qaeda militants were killed in Abyan province, where government forces have been clashing with militants for 11 months. Two of the killed were from Somalia, the ministry said.

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