Tuesday, 26 September 2017 03:39 GMT

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US droning to fuel Yemenis’ sympathy for Al-Qaeda

(MENAFN -Arab News) SANAA: A drone-fired US missile struck a car southeast of here on a winter night last year, killing two alleged Al-Qaeda operatives who lived openly in their community. But it also killed two cousins who were giving the men a ride and who the Yemeni government later said were innocents in the wrong place at the wrong time.That incident, and other strikes that have followed, helped fuel anger here over civilian casualties from US drone attacks and what critics say is an even less scrutinized problem: The targeting of suspects who are within the reach of the law.As the strikes continue, public outrage is rising in Yemen, where many people, including government officials, argue that the attacks increase sympathy for Al-Qaeda. In December, after a drone attack killed more than a dozen people in a rural wedding convoy, Yemen’s Parliament passed a non-binding motion to ban the strikes.Drones are “a tool for killing outside of the law,” said Ali Ashal, a member of Parliament who represents a district where US cruise missiles killed 41 people in 2009 but missed their alleged target, a high-ranking Al-Qaeda officer who Ashal said was “moving freely throughout the area and would pass by checkpoints.”Yemeni politicians and experts say the government — which has struggled with domestic turmoil, weakened state institutions and deepening poverty since the 2011 uprising that ended President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule — appears less inclined than ever to set limits on US drones.Yemen’s Foreign Minister Abu Bakr Al-Qirbi told Reuters in September that drone strikes were a “necessary evil” in the country’s fight against terrorism and a “very limited affair.” At least four strikes have been carried out this year, according to local media.The drone program in Yemen, where most strikes take place in remote areas, is cloaked in secrecy. Members of the president’s office refused to be interviewed about it, as did Yemen’s National Security Agency and its Defense and Interior Ministries. The Pentagon also refused to comment.
US droning to fuel Yemenis’ sympathy for Al-Qaeda

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