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US Is Increasing Secret Yemen Airstrikes

From a seemingly unfazed New York Times:

U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes

By MARK MAZZETTI
June 8, 2011

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has intensified the American covert war in Yemen, exploiting a growing power vacuum in the country to strike at militant suspects with armed drones and fighter jets, according to American officials.

Notice that we are hearing that the US is "intensifying" a covert war we never heard about in the first place. Where is the outrage?

The acceleration of the American campaign in recent weeks comes amid a violent conflict in Yemen that has left the government in Sana, a United States ally, struggling to cling to power. It’s not clear. Are we on the side of the American ally or not? Unfortunately, given our past experiences with Egypt and Libya, we have to ask.

Yemeni troops that had been battling militants linked to Al Qaeda in the south have been pulled back to the capital, and American officials see the strikes as one of the few options to keep the militants from consolidating power.

So we guess we’re on the side of the Yemeni government – at least for now.

On Friday, American jets killed Abu Ali al-Harithi, a midlevel Qaeda operative, and several other militant suspects in a strike in southern Yemen. According to witnesses, four civilians were also killed in the airstrike. Weeks earlier, drone aircraft fired missiles aimed at Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric who the United States government has tried to kill for more than a year. Mr. Awlaki survived.

This is pretty outrageous. Last we heard, Mr. Awlaki was under the personal protection of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The recent operations come after a nearly year-long pause in American airstrikes, which were halted amid concerns that poor intelligence had led to bungled missions and civilian deaths that were undercutting the goals of the secret campaign

And because the ACLU objected to our targeting one of their own.

A senior Pentagon official, speaking only on condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday that using force against militants in Yemen was further complicated by the fact that Qaeda operatives have mingled with other rebels and antigovernment militants, making it harder for the United States to attack without the appearance of picking sides

We haven’t picked sides?! Well, we suppose that makes sense. We certainly don’t want to appear to be backing an ally. That could send the wrong signal.

The extent of America’s war in Yemen has been among the Obama administration’s most closely guarded secrets, as officials worried that news of unilateral American operations could undermine Mr. Saleh’s tenuous grip on power…

Given that the New York Times would never leak an Obama administration secret, this must mean that the White House now wants this information made public.

Edmund J. Hull, ambassador to Yemen from 2001 to 2004 and the author of “High-Value Target: Countering Al Qaeda in Yemen,” called airstrikes a “necessary tool” but said that the United States had to “avoid collateral casualties or we will turn the tribes against us.”

Of course one problem is that the terrorists are ‘civilians,’ except when they are terrorizing.

Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen is believed by the C.I.A. to pose the greatest immediate threat to the United States, more so than even Qaeda’s senior leadership believed to be hiding in Pakistan…

Then they have nothing to fear. Not from this administration.

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, June 9th, 2011. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “US Is Increasing Secret Yemen Airstrikes”

  1. NoNeoCommies says:

    Why are they still calling it ‘secret’?

  2. tranquil.night says:

    It’s a tough balancing act trying to do what’s necessary to prevent any election-killing terrorist attack on the one hand, while in the broader picture encouraging the regional ascendency of radicalism. Very gutsy.


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