The United States has deployed 1,500 Marines with advanced arms and military equipment to Yemen, says a Yemeni military official.
Some 1,500 Marines were deployed to al-Anad military base in the country’s southern province of Lahij, al-Sharea daily quoted the official as saying on Monday.
Another 200 also arrived in the capital, Sana’a, to join the American forces already stationed in the capital’s Sheraton Hotel.
The official also said that American forces usually enter the country in small groups, but the recent large deployment could be in preparation for a possible imminent incident in the region.
The United States has stepped up its drone operations in Yemen over the past few years, killing many civilians in the Muslim country.
According to the Washington-based think tank, the New America Foundation, the US drone attacks in Yemen almost tripled in 2012.
Qatar which has been a staunch supporter of the Free Syrian Army against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria is now looking to enroll Yemen’s military elite to fight alongside other Arab-backed militias in a bid to offset Assad’s recent advances against the opposition.
Yemen Republican Guards, Yemen’s best of the best, the very units which were meant to ward off former President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s foes are now being bid for by foreign powers in a regional effort to depose Syria’s regime.
Faced with the very possibility that Assad could after all outrun his enemies, strong of the support of Iran and the Hezbollah and restore his hold over the country, the Free Syrian Army has turned to his sponsors for support, awaiting more troops and more weapons.
While regional powers have committed money and military equipment, as well as allowed volunteers to cross over onto Syria to swell the resistance ranks, none has so far agreed to commit men to the conflict, a move which would equate to a declaration of war against the Syrian regime.
Qatar is now looking to by-pass the hurdle by sending Yemen Republican Guards to the front. Of course the men would go in their civilian capacity, hired as mercenaries by the State of Qatar.
According to local newspapers, Qatar would be looking to enroll 10,000 soldiers.
Military officials have warned that such a move would leave Yemen vulnerable, its defenses weakened.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araqchi has strongly rejected recent claims by Yemen’s foreign minister about Iran’s interference in the Arab country’s affairs.
Expressing surprise at Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi’s recent remarks about the smuggling of Iranian arms to Yemen, Araqchi rejected the claims as baseless and said, “Unfortunately, the Yemeni foreign minister talks in the same manner as the previous government that was overthrown by the people of Yemen.”
The Iranian official reiterated Tehran’s respect for Yemen’s sovereignty and unity, adding that Iran has never withheld any effort to help the Arab country’s calm and development.
It is not the first time that Yemen has made unfounded claims about Iranian interference in its domestic affairs.
Earlier in February, Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, a UK-trained field marshal, accused Iran of smuggling arms into the Arab country. The Yemeni government asked the United Nations to probe a seized ship it claimed contained “Iran-made weapons.”
In a letter to President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Zhang Yesui on February 14, Iran’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaei rejected the claim as fabrication.
Khazaei said initial investigations showed that the ship intercepted by the Yemeni government does not belong to the Islamic Republic.
The Iranian official said the ship had been registered in a European country and sailed under the flag of Panama and none of the vessel’s personnel were Iranian.
- What an Anonymous U.S. Official Says About Iranians in Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The Yemeni interior ministry said in its official website that the claim about the seizure of an Iranian ship carrying weapons in Yemeni waters “was not real”.
The ministry apologized for its earlier report released on its official website about the confiscation of the ship, and described it as an “unintentional mistake”, the daily added.
The Yemeni interior ministry’s website had earlier reported that a foreign ship, named Jeihan 2, was confiscated while unloading weapons to a fishing boat near the country’s coasts.
The Yemeni Interior Ministry’s Public Relations Director, Mohamed Al-Qaedi, mentioned “confusion in decoding certain information” as the underlying cause of the mistake.
Iranian officials have categorically denied accusations about arms shipment to Yemen as baseless, reiterating that Tehran respects regional stability and security as well as the regional countries’ sovereignty.
- Diplomat Once Again Denies Claims about Iranian Arms Shipment to Yemen (alethonews.wordpress.com)
TEHRAN – A senior Iranian diplomat once again categorically denied the recent accusations about Iran’s arms shipment to Yemen as “baseless”.
In a letter to President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), Zhang Yesui on Thursday, Iran’s Permanent Representative to the UN Mohammad Khazayee said initial investigations showed that the ship intercepted by the Yemeni government does not belong to the Islamic Republic.
The ship had been registered in a European country and sailed under the flag of Panama, Khazayee said, adding that none of the vessel’s personnel were Iranian.
Referring to similar accusations leveled against Iran by Yemen, a number of which were later rejected by Yemeni officials, Khazayee said no proof about the latest allegation has yet been presented.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman-Parast categorically denied the accusations about arms shipment to Yemen as baseless, and reiterated that Tehran respects the regional stability and security.
Mehman-Parast’s remarks came after several Yemeni officials, including the country’s Interior Minister Abdel-Qader Kahtan, and the Saudi-led Yemeni media claimed that an Iranian ship seized by the Yemeni military contained weapons destined for Yemen’s Houthi Community in the North of the country or as other Yemeni officials claimed for rebels in Somalia fighting the central government.
“We have announced several times that we prioritize the region’s stability and security, and underline the rights and national sovereignty of (other) countries,” the Iranian diplomat said.
Last week, Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi accused Iran of smuggling arms into the Arab country. The Yemeni government asked the United Nations to probe a seized ship it claims contained Iran-made weapons.
Iranian officials on different occasions have strongly refuted Yemeni officials’ allegations, saying that Iran attaches importance to maintaining security and stability of regional countries, specially Yemen.
Today the Washington Post (2/6/13) reported some news that it’s known for years, but had decided not tell us until now: The CIA has a drone base in Saudi Arabia.
Their rationale for withholding this information was simple: The government didn’t want them to. And from what the Post is telling us today, they weren’t the only ones.
After explaining that Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by an attack “carried out in part by CIA drones flown from a secret base in Saudi Arabia,” the paper explains:
The Washington Post had refrained from disclosing the location at the request of the administration, which cited concern that exposing the facility would undermine operations against an Al-Qaeda affiliate regarded as the network’s most potent threat to the United States, as well as potentially damage counterterrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.
So why did the Post finally report this news today?
The Post learned Tuesday night that another news organization was planning to reveal the location of the base, effectively ending an informal arrangement among several news organizations that had been aware of the location for more than a year.
So there was an “informal arrangement among several news organizations” not to report important news because the government felt that it could make things difficult for them.
It would appear that “another news organization” is the New York Times, which reported today:
The first strike in Yemen ordered by the Obama administration, in December 2009, was by all accounts a disaster. American cruise missiles carrying cluster munitions killed dozens of civilians, including many women and children. Another strike, six months later, killed a popular deputy governor, inciting angry demonstrations and an attack that shut down a critical oil pipeline.
Not long afterward, the CIA began quietly building a drone base in Saudi Arabia to carry out strikes in Yemen. American officials said that the first time the CIA used the Saudi base was to kill Mr. Awlaki in September 2011.
The fact that the Post was keeping something secret was known in 2011, as FAIR noted (FAIR Blog, 7/27/11), quoting the paper:
The agency is building a desert airstrip so that it can begin flying armed drones over Yemen. The facility, which is scheduled to be completed in September, is designed to shield the CIA’s aircraft, and their sophisticated surveillance equipment, from observers at busier regional military hubs such as Djibouti, where the JSOC drones are based.
The Washington Post is withholding the specific location of the CIA facility at the administration’s request.
As FAIR also pointed out then, this was reminiscent of another decision by the Post to withhold news. In 2005, the paper delivered an explosive story about “black sites” where CIA was interrogating suspects–places where, in many cases, the agency could reasonably expect the prisoners to be tortured. The Post’s valuable expose was undercut by its decision not to name the countries involved. As the paper explained:
The Washington Post is not publishing the names of the Eastern European countries involved in the covert program, at the request of senior U.S. officials. They argued that the disclosure might disrupt counterterrorism efforts in those countries and elsewhere and could make them targets of possible terrorist retaliation.
This week, a new report from the Open Society Institute documented that more than 50 countries were involved in the CIA “extraordinary rendition” program. It’s certainly possible that some countries might have stopped helping the U.S. government torture people if it had been made known that they were doing so.
Likewise, it’s possible that Saudi Arabia will stop allowing the CIA to use its territory to conduct a secret drone war against a third country now that the secret is out. But the possibility that news might affect the world is not a reason to stop doing journalism. Indeed, it’s the best reason to do journalism.
UPDATE: The Times’ public editor Margaret Sullivan has weighed in on her blog (2/6/13), and what’s most notable is the opinion of the paper’s managing editor Dean Baquet, since it basically confirms the point we were making above:
The government’s rationale for asking that the location be withheld was this: Revealing it might jeopardize the existence of the base and harm counterterrorism efforts. ”The Saudis might shut it down because the citizenry would be very upset,” he said.
Mr. Baquet added, “We have to balance that concern with reporting the news.”
So the Times believes that it should refrain from reporting news that people in Saudi Arabia might object to–especially if it wound up complicating our government’s plans to launch military attacks from their country.
In his essay “A Hanging,” George Orwell recounts, in great detail, the events he witnessed leading up to the execution of a man. It is important to note that before becoming an outspoken critic of the hypocrisy of Governments, George Orwell worked for one. He was a member of the Indian Imperial Police, having served in Burma, a British colony at the time.
The condemned was a small Hindu man who, while apparently resigned to his fate, none the less had irritated the jail superintendent by the fact that he was still alive at 8:00 o’clock in the morning. “The man ought to have been dead by this time” the superintendent said irritably. The slow pace of the execution was disrupting the smooth functioning of the prison, since the other prisoners couldn’t be fed their breakfast until the sentence had been carried out.
We are given a vivid description of how the man walked awkwardly, encumbered by the chains that restrained him, but steadily, to his fate. When the execution party was about forty yards from the hangman’s gallows, Orwell tells us that a most curious thing occurred. The prisoner, in the last few remaining minutes of his life, made the slight effort to step aside as he was walking so as to avoid a puddle that was in his path.
This event shocked Orwell, who candidly reveals to us that until that moment, he had never truly realized what it meant to kill another human being. It took the insignificant act of a man not wanting to get his feet wet on the way to his own execution to make Orwell understand, for the first time in his life, “what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man” and of the “unspeakable wrongness” involved in executing someone.
The US, as part of its “War on Terror,” a war which, conveniently enough, was undeclared and has no expiration date, has been using drones for at least a decade now. And 2013 appears to have gotten off to a spectacular start, with 7 attacks in the first 10 days of January in Pakistan alone. This compares to an average of less than one a week in 2012. One report has as many as 11 civilians being killed so far this year. This figure is, of course, being disputed by U.S. officials. Unfortunately, they declined to provide a figure of their own.
And while their use has grown, President Obama assures us that, “Drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties” and that missile launches have been “very precise precision strikes against al Qaeda and their affiliates, and we have been very careful about how it’s been applied.”
In a direct rebuke to his critics, the President argues, “There’s this perception that we’re just sending a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly. This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans.”
One would be forgiven for disagreeing.
On October 14, 2011, a 16-year-old boy, and American citizen, named Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed in a deliberate drone strike in Yemen (8 other people were also killed). He shared the same fate as his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, also an American citizen, who was killed in a targeted drone strike 2 weeks prior.
And the boy’s crime? According to Obama senior campaign adviser, and former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, it was to have the unfortunate luck of being born to a “radical” Muslim cleric.
In an interview with We Are Change, a self proclaimed non-partisan media organization, Mr. Gibbs tells us that the boy “should have [had] a far more responsible father.” It is not clear if by “responsible father” Mr. Gibbs meant someone with a Nobel Peace Prize, a “kill list” and a fleet of armed attack drones at his disposal.
In defense of the dead boy, it should be noted that his father, an accused member of al-Qaeda who was allegedly plotting to blow up US airliners and poison US citizens, had an honor not given to many radical Muslim clerics.
He had the distinct pleasure of being an invited guest at the Pentagon, dining there in the days following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This is a privilege that not even your faithful correspondent’s father has enjoyed.
But surely the killing of children (even children with horrible fathers or children who were not fortunate enough to have been born American citizens) through drone strikes is something that we can all agree is reprehensible and indefensible, isn’t it?
Not according to Mr. Joe Klein, political columnist for Time Magazine. In comments made on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe” on October 23, 2012, Mr. Klein presents us with the thought provoking question of, “Whose four year old gets killed?” He then goes on to advocate the indiscriminate killing of innocent people in the Middle East and Africa with drone attacks (Mr. Klein’s original question implies that he prefers the people killed be four year children), defending his point by stating, “What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”
To find a similar argument, logic or thought process, I believe, you would have to go back to one of the most morally bankrupt and reprehensible regimes in all of history.
(Author’s Note: while your faithful correspondent is neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, if your thoughts should ever take you to a place where you find yourself justifying the murder of innocent 4 year old children, I suggest you seek the care of a mental health professional immediately)
But all this talk of killed children is surely a moot point, isn’t it? The US government, once more, assures us that drones are used in a responsible manner, and therefore, rarely kill civilians, let alone children. Unfortunately, a study by the Brookings Institute leads us to believe the contrary. It argues that for every “insurgent” killed, there are, on average, 10 civilians killed as well. And the New American Foundation has found that the US government has the habit of repeatedly under-reporting the number of civilians killed and wounded in drone attacks. More troubling still, a study done jointly by Stanford Law School and the NYU School of Law claims that the US government, as a matter of policy, habitually under-reports the number of civilians killed and wounded in drone attacks.
The US is entering its 12th year of war in Afghanistan (longer than the Soviet Union’s campaign). A key component of US strategy in the region is targeted drone strikes. America’s drone policy has reportedly killed between 474 and 881 civilians in the region, including 176 children.
Further compounding all of this is the controversial US policy called the “double tap.” This involves striking an initial target and then, as people arrive to give aid to the original victims, following up with repeated attacks on the same site. It has been reported that, as a result of this policy, innocent bystanders and non-combatants have been intentionally killed. There are also disturbing reports that funerals have been deliberately hit by targeted drone strikes as well. In almost any other case these events would be labelled as war crimes or terrorism. But somehow, in the US, they only raise “contentious legal questions” according to the New York Times.
If we consider ourselves as being part of a just and correct society, Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter should give us reason to pause. It expressly prohibits the threat or use of force by one state against another.
Some proponents of drone attacks have argued that Article 2(4) doesn’t apply, since these attacks are mostly being carried out on militants and insurgents in regions where the rule of law has broken down. Therefore, the phrase “state” doesn’t apply, nullifying that section of the Charter.
This argument is dubious at best. If it were China, Russia, or Iran engaging in this type of behavior closer to US shores, say in the remote regions of Central or South America, there is no doubt that the US government would be in an uproar over the legality, and the morality, of attack drones.
There is also no doubt that we would finally be able to recognize what the killing of innocent men, women and children with drones really is.
Tom McNamara is an Assistant Professor at the ESC Rennes School of Business, France, and a Visiting Lecturer at the French National Military Academy at Saint-Cyr, Coëtquidan, France.
“A Hanging” by George Orwell, 1931
“Abdulrahman al-Awlaki’s birth certificate” The Washington Post. Accessed at:
“Anwar al-Awlaki” October 19, 2012, The New York Times. Accessed at:
“Anwar al-Awlaki killing sparks US travel alert” October 1, 2011, BBC. Accessed at:
“CIA ‘revives attacks on rescuers’ in Pakistan” by Chris Woods, June 4th, 2012, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Accessed at:
“Critics of US drone programme angered by John Brennan’s nomination to CIA” by Paul Harris, January 10, 2013, The Guardian. Accessed at:
“Do Targeted Killings Work?” by Daniel L. Byman, Senior Fellow Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, July 14, 2009, The Brookings Institute. Accessed at:
“Everything We Know So Far About Drone Strikes” by Cora Currier, January 11, 2013, ProPublica. Accessed at:
“George Orwell” BBC History. Accessed at:
“Get the Data: Obama’s terror drones” by Chris Woods, February 4, 2012, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Accessed at:
“Joe Klein’s sociopathic defense of drone killings of children” by Glenn Greenwald, October 23, 2012, The Guardian. Accessed at:
“Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan” the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (Stanford Law School) and the Global Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law), September 2012. Accessed at:
“Morning Joe: Scarborough: Drone program is going to cause US problems in future” MSNBC, Accessed at:
“Obama Defends Drone Use” by Carol E. Lee and Adam Entous, with a contribution from Jared Favole, January 31, 2012, The Wall Street Journal. Accessed at:
“Obama Top Adviser Robert Gibbs Justifies Murder of 16 Year Old American Citizen” WeAreChange.org, video published October 23, 2012. Accessed at:
“Qaeda-Linked Imam Dined at Pentagon after 9/11” By Bob Orr, October 21, 2010, CBSNews /
CBS. Accessed at:
“Robert Gibbs Says Anwar al-Awlaki’s Son, Killed By Drone Strike, Needs ‘Far More Responsible Father’” by ryan Grim, October 24, 2012, The Huffington Post. Accessed at:
“The Charter of the United Nations” June 26, 1945. Accessed at:
“The Moral Case for Drones” by Scott Shane, July 14, 2012, The New York Times. Accessed at:
‘The Year of the Drone: An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2012’ The New American Foundation. Accessed at:
“U.S. airstrike that killed American teen in Yemen raises legal, ethical questions” by Craig Whitlock, October 22, 2011, The Washington Post, Accessed at:
“U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan on rise for 2013” by Greg Miller, January 11, 2013, The Washington Post. Accessed at:
How was Abdulrahman’s targeted assassination initially reported in the media? Some quotes that sound very familiar with the usual semantics of all media coverage on drones and suspects:
“Yemeni officials told reporters that nine members of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula were killed in the strike near the town of Azzan in southeastern Yemen, including Awlaki’s 21-year-old son…” – LA Times, October 15, 2011
“Report: Al-Awlaki’s son among dead in U.S. airstrike on Yemen al-Qaida militants” – headline from Haaretz, October 15, 2011
“Official: Drone attack kills Al-Awlaki’s son in Yemen… The attacks, carried out in the Shabwa district, killed seven suspected militants, the defense ministry said.” – CNN, October 15, 2011
“Awlaki’s son is also among the 24 militants killed in air strikes targeting al-Qaeda in Yemen, local officials said.” – Al Arabiya News, October 15, 2011
“Three drone attacks in Yemen Friday night killed seven suspected militants including Anwar Al-Awlaki’s son, a security official said. Carried out in the Shabwa district, where the younger Awlaki had been holed up for more than eight months” – Business Insider, October 15, 2011
“U.S. drone strike in Yemen kills nine jihadis, including Awlaki’s son” – Hot Air, October 15, 2011
Lie #1: Abdulrahman is a 16 year old American teenager, not a 21 year old militant.
Lie #2: U.S. claimed al-Banna was the actual target. The problem with that excuse is that al-Banna is alive and well, and was never at that site. Since that revelation, the Obama Admin. simply states there is no official record of the death of Abdulrahman, and sweeps the story under the carpet so it doesn’t even have to take accountability that the crime even happened.
Lie #3: The media says Abdulrahman was hiding in the mountains for months. Actually, he left his home a couple weeks before to find out about his father, and even during that time he was living and moving around in the open, far from hiding.
It seems that being a suspected militant is enough to make you a viable target. And the criteria for determining what makes you a suspect is easily adjustable to their convenience it seems.
Barack Obama: the first U.S. president to use targeted assassination against a child.
Yemeni citizens, rights groups and lawmakers have vehemently condemned the presence of US Marine troops on Yemeni soil and the transformation of a five-star hotel in the capital, Sana’a, into a US military base, Press TV reports.
In interviews with Press TV, the legislators and human rights activists harshly criticized the conversion of the capital’s Sheraton Hotel into a military building and said they considered the presence of American forces as an occupation of their country.
The Yemenis argued that the US move to bring in the Marines for the protection of its diplomatic mission is merely a pretext for US domination on the ground.
“American Marines entered the country before the revolution and their numbers have increased… it’s similar to what happened when Britain occupied southern Yemen decades ago. The presence of Marine forces in the large number can only be described as an occupation,” political activist Abdu Ahmed said.
The US embassy in Sana’a reportedly booked all the rooms in the Sheraton Hotel, firing 200 members of the hotel’s staff after paying them a severance payment equal to six months of salary.
“We feel insecure. Anyone who goes up on the rooftop of his building will be targeted with a red light pointed to his chest. So if we can’t feel safe in our own country where can we find security and peace of mind?” said a Yemeni citizen.
The growing US domination has sparked numerous mass demonstrations, particularly in the Sada’a governorate to the north of the capital Sana’a.
The protesters in these demonstrations expressed the peoples’ total rejection of foreign intervention in their country’s affairs.
The increasing number of US assassination drone attacks, which mostly target innocent civilians, were also lambasted by the human rights groups.
The activists said the growing US interference in Yemen’s affairs is considered a flagrant violation of the Middle Eastern country’s sovereignty.
“Giving [approval to] US Marines to violate the country’s sovereignty is treason and those giving approval must be prosecuted. The assassinations are carried out right after the US intelligence apparatus received names of people suspected of being involved in al-Qaeda. There are a number of normal people on these lists, who can be easily arrested and brought to justice if found guilty,” human rights activist Abdulrahaman Barman noted.
Washington uses its assassination drones in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia, claiming that they target the terrorists. The attacks, however, have mostly led to massive civilian casualties.
- Thousands of Yemenis hold anti-US, anti-Israeli Protest in Sana’a (jafrianews.com)
US officials have finally acknowledged responsibility for a September assassination drone attack in Yemen that killed civilians, including women and children, after futile attempts by the Yemeni government to falsely claim blame in a bid to cover-up the American involvement.
The Yemeni government initially announced that “its Soviet-era jets” had carried out the September 2nd attack, killing alleged al-Qaeda militants, but the country’s tribal leaders and officials later admitted that it was an American assassination drone strike that caused the killing and that “all the victims were civilians who lived in a village near Radda, in central Yemen,” The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
US officials, the daily notes, acknowledged last week “for the first time that it was an American strike.”
According to the report, over three months after the deadly US terror drone strike, the incident sheds light into “the Yemeni government’s efforts to conceal Washington’s mistakes and the unintended consequences of civilian deaths in American air assaults.”
Three weeks after the Radda strike, US-sponsored Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi visited Washington and “praised the accuracy of US [assassination] drone strikes” in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, as well as publicly,” the daily notes.
“They pinpoint the target and have zero margin of error, if you know what target you’re aiming at,” Hadi reportedly said to an audience at the US think tank, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Washington played a key role in ousting Yemen’s former President Saleh and installing his ex-defense minister Hadi, the daily further adds, noting that the United States provides the Yemeni regime with “hundreds of millions of dollars” in military and “counterterrorism assistance.”
“US officials regard Hadi as an even stauncher counterterrorism ally than [former US-sponsored ruler Ali Abdullah] Saleh.”
US assassination aerial strikes have murdered numerous civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the world, the daily confirms, adding that “those governments have spoken against the [drone] attacks.”
“But in Yemen, the weak government has often tried to hide civilian casualties from the public, fearing repercussions in a nation where hostility toward US policies is widespread. It continues to insist in local media reports that its own aging jets attacked the truck.”
The US daily also refers to another US terror drone strike in 2009 which the Yemeni regime claimed responsibility for. “We’ll continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours,” said a US Embassy e-mail leaked by the whistleblower Web site WikiLeaks, quoting then Yemeni ruler Saleh as telling the head of US Central Command at the time, General David Petraeus.
This is while the Obama administration has publicly remained silent about the deadly strike, “neither confirming nor denying any involvement, a standard practice with most US airstrikes in its clandestine counterterrorism fight in this strategic Middle Eastern country,” the Post underlines.
The daily further quotes unnamed US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as confirming that “it was a Defense Department aircraft, either a drone or a fixed-wing warplane, that fired on the truck [in the Radda attack].” It notes that the Pentagon, as well as “senior US officials in Yemen and senior counterterrorism officials in Washington,” have declined to comment on the incident.
Meanwhile, the reports reiterated, public outrage is growing in Yemen as demands “for accountability, transparency and compensation go unanswered amid allegations by human rights activists and lawmakers that the government is trying to cover up the attack to protect its relationship with Washington.”
- Thousands of Yemenis hold anti-US, anti-Israeli Protest in Sana’a (jafrianews.com)
- 1000s of Yemenis hold anti-US, anti-Israeli demo (realisticbird.wordpress.com)
US military’s claim that a Yemeni inmate found dead in September at Guantanamo Prison camp had committed suicide by medication drug overdose has been discounted by American and Yemeni officials.
The circumstances surrounding the death of Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif, one of the first men taken captive by American forces after their invasion of Afghanistan, have raised suspicions since the military announced over two months ago that a guard at the notorious prison and torture camp had found him “unconscious and unresponsive” in his cell, The New York Times reported Thursday.
While a US military medical examiner labeled Latif’s death as “suicide,” how he gained access to additional drugs is reportedly still under probe.
Yemeni officials have refused to accept the remains of the inmate until they get answers about the exact cause of his death. This is while a Pentagon official delivered an autopsy report to the Yemeni ambassador in Washington earlier this month, describing Latif’s death as ‘suicide,’ the daily adds, citing a report this week by the Web site, Truth-out.org.
However, Latif’s former lawyer, David Remes, expressed skepticism about how Latif could have saved his daily medications for an overdose without detection considering that he was under “intense scrutiny” by guards and prison cameras.
Remes further suggested that authorities at the military prison may have deliberately given Latif access to too much medication “hoping he would kill himself,” the report adds.
Moreover, Remes reiterated that shortly before Latif’s death, other Guantanamo detainees said guards had told Latif that they were taking him to a disciplinary cellblock, which he resisted. He was then placed in a specific cell which “he hated because of droning noise from an adjacent electric generator,” the report notes.
“Adnan (Latif) was a thorn in their sides,” Remes said. “The guards would ask other prisoners how to handle him. He refused to submit. He wouldn’t allow them to set the terms of his imprisonment. He was a constant problem.”
Latif, was seriously injured in an auto accident in his native Yemen and was in Afghanistan, seeking free or charity medical treatment when he was taken captive by US-led occupation forces.
He had been cleared for transfer back to his homeland before by both the Bush and Obama administrations; however he wasn’t sent home.
In 2010, a federal judge ordered Obama administration to free Latif, arguing that the evidence against him was too weak. However, an appeals court panel reversed that ruling in 2011.
According to the report, executive branch panels under the Bush and Obama administrations had repeatedly cleared the Yemeni inmate for repatriation, but he was still kept at Guantanamo “because both administrations were reluctant to send detainees to Yemen amid an Islamist insurgency.”
The US government is expanding its drone base in the East African nation of Djibouti to escalate its assassination strikes in Somalia and Yemen.
The US military has been flying armed drones over both countries from a base in Djibouti and is planning to build a second base in Ethiopia, a report by the Washington Post says.
The report added that the drones on missions over Somalia and Yemen take off or land at the base an average of 16 times per day.
The Lemonnier base has also become home to a squadron of US F-15 fighter jets, which it reports are flying combat missions over Yemen.
The US is also known to operate drones from two other East African countries — Ethiopia and the Seychelles islands.
The base in the Seychelles that was previously used to fly surveillance drones will now host armed drones capable of flying their lethal payloads the more than 1,500 kms that separate the Indian Ocean island chain from Somalia and the African mainland and back.
However, drone operations from Ethiopia and Seychelles are nothing compared to the one at Camp Lemonnier. According to the report Lemonnier is the centerpiece of an expanding US network of drone and surveillance bases in Africa.
Washington has also been carrying out assassination attacks using the unmanned aircraft in other countries including Afghanistan, Libya and Pakistan.
The United States claims the CIA-run strikes are aimed at militants. But witness reports and figures offered by local authorities indicate the attacks have led to massive civilian deaths.