Drone Strike Success in Yemen May Actually Be Failure
Atlantic Council — 19 May 2014
Observers may cheer from afar when the body count of extremists is rising, but given the lack of transparency and disclosure, it is hard to know if the drone strikes are actually achieving US security goals. To begin with, the recent uptick in the number of drone strikes and civilian deaths calls into question the very premise of President Obama’s speech outlining his counterterrorism policy at the National Defense University in May 2013—that a drone strike would only be deployed when the target presents an imminent danger to US lives, where they cannot be captured by local security forces, and where there is near certainty that civilians will not be hit. Recent reports indicate that this threshold is not being upheld, and without the increased disclosure that the president pledged in his speech, there is no way to know if the attacks are even hitting the right targets.
Economist — 22 May 2014
THE anniversary of Yemeni unity on May 22nd usually passes quietly in Sana’a, the capital. But this year the government Abd Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, the president, is keen to build on patriotic sentiment fired up by a recent military campaign against al-Qaeda. Fairy lights adorn the central bank and roads are lined with bunting in the red, black and white of the Yemeni flag. The celebrations are due to culminate in a fireworks display. The sentiment is not shared across Yemen. A day earlier, on May 21st, thousands of people took to the streets in Aden, a port town that was once the capital of the separate southern state, to demand independence (pictured above). “Twenty years of repression and resistance,” they chanted.
US Cluster Bombs Keep Killing Civilians in Yemen
VICE — 16 May 2014
The continued presence of hundreds if not thousands of bomblets in the area has devastated the largely agricultural economy. “We are afraid to go to our farms, to take our sheep out to graze,” Mohammed says. “We can’t work because we are afraid of this. I lost my father and my brother. What if I come across another bomb?”Gabish says that the affected farmland is reverting back to wilderness because farmers are afraid to return. In March, he says, a shepherd in the north of the province became the latest victim of a cluster bomb, more than four years after the Saudi planes first crossed into Sa’dah. Cluster bombs are often used as “denial weapons,” which make the areas on which they’re dropped inaccessible, and it is possible that Saudi Arabia dropped them where they did in part to seal the border with Houthi-controlled Sa’dah. That would mean the Saudi Air Force effectively targeted civilians — a possible violation of human rights law. Continue reading
Qaeda Affiliate Steps Up Video Propaganda Push
New York Times — 12 May 2014
After years of Western condemnation for the civilian casualties of terrorist attacks, Al Qaeda’s affiliate here is trying to turn the tables in a stream of online videos arguing that Washington and its Yemeni Army allies are the ones carelessly killing innocent bystanders in their drone attacks and military campaigns targeting suspected militants. The videos, Al Qaeda’s latest response to the drone assassinations of many of its leaders, seek to capitalize on growing anger over the killings of an undisclosed number of noncombatants in drone strikes. But the campaign has now taken on new resonance here since the disclosure last week that an American commando and a spy killed two armed Yemenis who had tried to kidnap them while the Americans were in a barbershop in Sana, the capital. The Americans were later whisked out of the country with the blessing of the Yemeni government.
Aden region could serve as basis for a thriving Yemen
As-Safir via Al-Monitor — 11 May 2014
The Aden region boasts the qualifications of a full state. Previously the capital of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, the city of Aden has all the facilities and infrastructure necessary to build a state government, not just a regional government. Therefore, it will not suffer the potential ailments of some other regions in terms of lack of facilities needed by their governments. The region has the required development resources in industry, trade, tourism, agriculture and fisheries. At the level of foreign trade, throughout its history, Aden has been open to the foreign world. When Capt. S.B. Haines occupied the Port of Aden in February 1839, most of its traders had been foreigners. The city preserved its commercial standing during the rule of the British administration. The first chamber of commerce in the Arabian Peninsula was established in Aden in August 1886. After the expansion of Tawahi Port in the early 1950s, Aden became the most important economic region in the Middle East. Its port was ranked second most important port in the world after New York, and the third most important port in terms of loading and unloading among Commonwealth countries, after London and Liverpool. The Yemeni unification took place on May 22, 1990, and at that time the people of Aden hoped their city would regain the commercial standing it had lost during the period of 1967-1990 when the state in the south monopolized foreign trade.
Despite new era, anti-corruption agenda struggles in Yemen
IRIN — 29 April 2014
The 2011 street revolts that drove Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh from office and spurred an internationally-monitored democratic political transition were considered a boon for anti-corruption activists, who had spent the past decade trying to foster good governance reforms in a prevailing system of graft to little effect. But more than two years into the process and despite the impetus given to the new democratization era by interim President Abd Rabu Mansur Hadi, the anti-corruption agenda is still grappling with a culture of impunity in which people are reluctant to blow the whistle out of fear of losing their jobs, donor funding or worse. Continue reading