Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Eric Schmitt

Isn’t it a genocide forced on Yemenis?

For how long the US/Israel will go on submitting this nation into famine and slow death?

And for what?

To take total control of the Aden water way, and control of Eastern Africa?

44 Small Graves Stir Questions About U.S. Policy in Yemen

By Shuaib AlmosawaBen Hubbard and Aug. 15, 2018

DAHYAN, Yemen — The boys crammed into the bus, their thin bodies packed three to a seat, with latecomers jammed in the aisle. They fidgeted with excitement about the day’s field trip, talking so loudly that a tall boy struggling to get their attention put his hands over his ears and yelled.

Hours later, most of them were dead.

On Aug. 9, during a stop for snacks in the poor village of Dahyan in northern Yemen, an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition with Sudan, Gulf Emirate, Britain, USA and Israel hit nearby, blasting the bus into a jagged mass of twisted metal and scattering its human cargo — wounded, bleeding and dead — in the street below, according to witnesses and parents.

“My leg is bent,” cried a young boy covered in blood, examining his damaged limb. “A jet hit us,” he said in a video taken at the scene after the airstrike.

Yemeni health officials said 54 people were killed, 44 of them children, and many more were wounded.

Yemeni children in the northern Yemeni city of Saada on Monday vented their anger during a mass funeral for children killed in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition last week.

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Yemen’s conflict began in 2014 when Houthi rebels, whom Iran aligned with after the genocide onslaught, seized control of the capital Sana, and sent the government of Hadi into exile.

In March 2015, Saudi Kingdom paid a coalition of poorer “Arab” nations and launched a military intervention aimed at restoring Yemen’s government. It has so far failed to do so.

The Aug. 9 attack was particularly shocking, even for a war in which children have been the primary victims, suffering through one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises: rampant malnutrition and outbreaks of cholera.

The war has so far killed more than 10,000 people before the United Nations stopped updating the death toll two years ago. (Why this nonchalance from the UN?)

The strike also revived questions about the coalition’s tactics and the United States’ support for the campaign.

American military leaders, exasperated by strikes that have killed civilians at markets, weddings and funerals, insist that the United States is not a party to the war. (During Trump, it is the State department that is playing the role of the Pentagon)

Human rights organizations say the United States cannot deny its role, given that it has sold billions of dollars in weapons to allied coalition states, provided them with intelligence and refueled their bombers in midair.

Congress has shown increasing concern about the war recently.

A defense policy bill that President Trump signed on Monday included a bipartisan provision that requires Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to certify that Saudi Arabia and its close ally the United Arab Emirates — the two countries leading the coalition — are taking steps to prevent civilian deaths.

If Mr. Pompeo cannot provide the certification, the legislation prohibits the American refueling of coalition jets.

Mr. Pompeo raised the bus attack by phone this week with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 34 years old and (effective ruler of this Wahhabi Kingdom) and the kingdom’s defense minister. And Defense Secretary Jim Mattis dispatched a three-star general to Riyadh, the Saudi capital, to press the Saudis to investigate the bus bombing.

In the wake of this attack, individual members of Congress have gone further, calling on the military to clarify its role in airstrikes on Yemen and investigate whether the support for those strikes could expose American military personnel to legal jeopardy, including for war crimes.

ImageA Yemeni man held a boy who was injured by the airstrike in Saada last week.
Credit…Naif Rahma/Reuters

At the same time, however, the defense contractor Raytheon has lobbied lawmakers and the State Department to allow it to sell 60,000 precision-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in deals worth billions of dollars.

The Saudi-led coalition says it works to avoid civilian casualties and accuses its enemies, the Houthis, of using civilians as human shields.

The day of the strike, the coalition’s spokesman, Col. Turki al-Malki, said coalition forces had hit a “legitimate military target” after a Houthi missile killed one person and injured 11 in southern Saudi Arabia, which borders Yemen.

“All of the elements that were in the bus were targeted,” Colonel Malki told the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya network, saying they included “operators and planners.”

The next day, the coalition said the bombing had been referred for internal investigation after reports that “a bus was subject to collateral damage.”

Human rights groups say that they doubt the coalition would find itself at fault in any investigation.

(As the countless massacres committed by the colonial powers?)

“The Saudis aren’t learning. They’re making the same mistakes they’ve been making all along. And we are not pressing the issue. We are letting them get away with it.” said Larry L. Lewis, a former State Department official who visited Saudi Arabia five times in 2015 and 2016 to help the country’s air force improve its targeting procedures and investigations.

A visit to the site of the attack, interviews with witnesses and a review of videos from the day painted a picture of the strike’s human cost.

The boys on the bus ranged in age from 6 to about 16, and most were from Dahyan, a poor village in Saada Province along the border with Saudi Arabia.

The province is the homeland of the Houthis, and the coalition has bombed it heavily. For their part, the Houthis have used the area to launch attacks on the Saudi border and to fire missiles into the kingdom.

The boys had been part of a religious summer program organized by the Houthis, and the field trip was meant to be a treat.

When they packed into the bus that morning, one boy, Osama al-Humran, filmed his classmates squirming in their seats with his cellphone. Many were wearing sport coats over their Yemeni gowns, dressed up for a special occasion.

مشاهد توثق لحظات ما قبل مجزرة طلاب ضحيان صعدةCredit…CreditVideo by هنا المسيرة

The video then shows them at their next stop, a memorial and graveyard called the Garden of the Martyrs in a nearby village.

Image

Yemenis gathered last week next to a destroyed bus at the site of a Saudi-led coalition airstrike that targeted the Dahyan market.
Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In a large hangar decorated with photos of men killed in the war, a man led the boys through prayers and chants. A sign next to the door bore the Houthis slogan: “God is great. Death to America. Death to Israel. Curse the Jews. Victory for Islam.”

Some of the boys giggled when Osama filmed them or put their hands over his camera.

Then they ran into the adjoining graveyard, where grass grew on rows of graves marked with white headstones or plastic signs bearing photos of the deceased.

“I am filming!” Osama yells as he walks among the graves.

Two other boys stand next to a fountain and he calls out, “Come here so I can take your picture.” There, the video ends.

The bus was supposed to continue to Saada, the provincial capital, for a visit to a historic mosque. But it never made it.

The group had stopped along the way to buy juice and snacks when the bomb hit.

Ali Abdullah Hamlah, a local bakery owner, said he heard the explosion and saw a huge cloud billow from the site before seeing a young man covered in blood dragging himself away. Mr. Hamlah approached and saw the bodies of seven children scattered around.

“In some cases, only the upper bodies of the kids were found,” he said. The mangled body of one child was found on the roof of a building, propelled by the force of the blast.

Videos shot in the aftermath show the demolished bus with the lifeless bodies of two boys on the floor. Other boys are on the ground nearby. Some struggle to move. Others are dead and eviscerated, their remains mixed up in the street with the detritus from the explosion.

“It was the first time in my life that I have seen such a horrific massacre,” Mr. Hamlah said.

Among the dead was Osama, the boy who had filmed his classmates. His videos were found on his phone after the bombing, according to Yahya al-Shami, who works for the Houthis’ Al-Maseera television station, which broadcast the images. Parents of boys on the bus confirmed the day’s program and that their children were in the video.

A few days later, local security officials showed The New York Times a metal fin they said had been attached to the bomb and had been found nearby. Writing on the fin indicated it was manufactured by General Dynamics and had been attached as a guidance system on a 500-pound bomb. The Times could not confirm that the fin was from the bomb used in the strike.

But the remnants of American-made weapons have frequently been found in the rubble of airstrikes in Yemen.

Trump administration officials say they have no control over the bombs that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates buy commercially from American or other Western defense contractors.

Pentagon officials say they have repeatedly offered assistance to both countries on creating “no strike” lists, but they are not involved in picking targets and do not know the missions of the coalition warplanes that the United States refuels. (Very funny)

At a nearby hospital, Abdul-Rahman al-Ejri comforted his 11-year-old son, Hassan, who was wailing from the pain of a broken leg. He had been on the bus and his father was enraged that the coalition had said it carried military plotters.

“This is the mastermind, along with his companions,” Mr. Ejri said sarcastically. “How can they plot anything? They’re kids and only armed with pens, notebooks and books.”

He did not hesitate to assign blame.

“America is the head of evil, as well as the Saudi regime and the mercenaries of the Wahhabi Saudi Kingdom,” he said.

Shuaib Almosawa reported from Dahyan, Ben Hubbard from Beirut, Lebanon, Eric Schmitt from Washington. John Ismay contributed reporting from Washington.

The Upstart Saudi Prince Who’s Throwing Caution to the Winds

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — With the tacit backing of his father, Saudi Arabia’s 32-year-old crown prince (wali al 3ahd) has established himself as the most powerful figure in the Arab world, rushing into confrontations on all sides at once.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the arrest of 11 princes in his royal family and nearly 200 members of the Saudi business elite, and has begun to take power from the kingdom’s conservative clerics.

He has blockaded neighboring Qatar, accused Iran of acts of war and encouraged the resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister. And in Yemen, his armed forces are fighting an Iranian-aligned faction in an intractable war that created a humanitarian crisis.

The crown prince has moved so quickly that American officials and others worry that he is destabilizing the region. Signs of potential blowback are growing.

Investors, nervous about his plans, have been moving money out of the kingdom. Prince Mohammed has sought to counter the capital flight by squeezing detainees and others to surrender assets. He has presented the arrests as a campaign against corruption, but his targets call it a shakedown, and he has turned for advice to a former Egyptian security chief who has been pilloried at home for brutality and graft.

Prince Mohammed’s supporters say he is simply taking the drastic measures needed to turn around the kingdom’s graft-ridden and oil-dependent economy while pushing back against Iranian aggression.

But analysts around the region debate whether the headlong rush might be driven more by a desire to consolidate power before a possible royal succession, desperation for cash to pay for his plans or simply unchecked ambition to put his stamp on the broader Middle East.

And despite President Trump’s enthusiasm for the prince, some in the State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies say they fear that his impulsiveness could both set back his own goals and destabilize the region.

“He’s decided he doesn’t do anything cautiously,” said Philip Gordon, the White House Middle East coordinator under President Barack Obama. But, Mr. Gordon said, “if the crown prince alienates too many other princes and other pillars of the regime, pursues costly regional conflicts and scares off foreign investors, he could undermine the prospects for the very reforms he is trying to implement.”

The extrajudicial arrests have spooked investors enough, analysts say, to extinguish the prince’s plans for an public stock offering of Aramco, the Saudi state oil company, in New York or London next year. It had been a centerpiece of his overhaul.

Photo

President Trump and King Salman joined Arab leaders for a family photo in Riyadh in May.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

The crown prince’s threats against Iran and Lebanon have raised the specter of wars that the Saudi military, already bogged down in Yemen, is ill-equipped to fight. Riyadh would be forced to depend on the United States and ill-prepared Israel in any new conflict.

His corruption purge at home, meanwhile, risks alienating parts of the royal family and the financial elite at a moment that would appear to demand unity, either to smooth a succession or to face off against Iran.

As many as 17 people detained in the anti-corruption campaign have required medical treatment for abuse by their captors, according to a doctor from the nearest hospital and an American official tracking the situation.

The former Egyptian security chief, Habib el-Adli, said by one of his advisers and a former Egyptian interior minister to be advising Prince Mohammed, earned a reputation for brutality and torture under President Hosni Mubarak. His lawyers say he plans to appeal his recent sentence in absentia in Egypt to seven years in prison on charges of corruption.

Officials of the Saudi Royal Court referred press queries about these reports to the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Washington, where a spokeswoman, Fatimah Baeshen, said the embassy could not confirm or dispute them.

With the decline in the price of oil in recent years, Saudi Arabia has frozen projects and spent more than a third of its financial reserves, draining them to about $475 billion this fall from a peak of $737 billion in August 2014.

At that burn rate, the kingdom has only a few years to lift its revenue or slash its spending to forestall a financial crisis.

Against that backdrop, the prince’s supporters argue that the anti-corruption campaign aims to recapture hundreds of billions of dollars that have leaked from the state budget through graft and self-dealing — money he needs to fund his development plans.

Prince Mohammed had appealed to the kingdom’s wealthy for months to invest in his modernization program. But some groused that his plans — like a new $500 billion business hub “for the dreamers of the world,” built from scratch and fueled entirely by clean energy — were ill-conceived and grandiose, and instead of investing at home they quietly moved their assets abroad.

Now, he is no longer merely asking.

The Saudi government is pressing some of those detained and others still at large to sign over large sums in exchange for better treatment, according to an American official briefed on the crackdown and associates of the royal family. Employees of some of those arrested had been summoned months before to answer questions about their bosses, a sign that the purge was planned well in advance.

A senior Saudi official defending the crackdown said this week that it was meant to show that the old rules of business in the kingdom had changed.

Photo

Prince Mohammed kissing the hand of Prince Mohammed bin Nayef (sacked since then) at the royal palace in Mecca in June. CreditAl-Ekhbariya, via Associated Press

“Corruption is at every level, and there are hundreds of billions of riyals that are lost from the national economy every year,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive government matters. “The point here was mainly to shock the system, to send a message that this will not be tolerated anymore and that nobody is immune.”

Corruption has been so endemic for so long — from inflated government contracts for large projects to simple bribes to obtain passports — that countless Saudis have participated. Yet, some princes with reputations for conspicuous corruption appear to have been left alone, raising questions about who is being targeted, and why.

Other signs suggest that Prince Mohammed may also be seeking to thwart perceived rivals.

In June, he and his father stripped the titles of crown prince and interior minister from Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 58, temporarily confining him to his palace. Admirers of the ousted crown prince were relieved last week when a video surfaced showing him moving freely through a family funeral, receiving kisses on his shoulder in a show of deference and loyalty from a procession of well-wishers.

That display of his continued popularity, however, may have been too much for the younger Prince Mohammed, who the next day ordered the seizure of the former crown prince’s assets, along with those of his wife and daughters, according to two family associates.

Ms. Baeshen, the Saudi embassy spokeswoman, said she could not comment on any potential investigations.

Some American officials suspect that Prince Mohammed may be rushing to lock down the levers of power in anticipation of a formal abdication by his father, King Salman, who scholars and Western officials say could be suffering from dementia.

When President Trump visited Riyadh for a summit meeting last summer, the king remained seated as he struggled to read a prepared statement. His speech was at times weak, halting or slurred. He seldom speaks publicly. Saudi officials, however, insist his mental capacities are sound.

Prince Mohammed’s supporters argue that Saudi Arabia’s recent threats against Iran and Lebanon came in response to provocations beyond his control.

As he was preparing his anti-corruption roundup, they say, Tehran’s allies in Yemen launched an Iranian-made missile in the direction of Riyadh, where it was intercepted over the outskirts of the city (the damage shown by videos prove otherwise).

The Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, resigned his position the same day with a televised speech from Riyadh that accused Iran and its Lebanese client Hezbollah of sowing “discord, devastation and destruction” in the region.

But many, including current and former American diplomats, say Prince Mohammed’s boldness also reflects his conviction that he has the support of Mr. Trump.

Photo

Mr. Trump meeting with Prince Mohammed, center, in the Oval Office in March.CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

Even in the last days of the Obama administration, another Persian Gulf royal who had already forged deep ties around Washington, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi began to promote his Saudi counterpart to the incoming Trump team as a useful ally. Both princes appear to have formed a particular bond with Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, who at 36 is a contemporary of the young Saudi prince.

Mr. Trump chose Saudi Arabia for the first foreign trip of his presidency, and Prince Mohammed and Mr. Kushner have built such a strong rapport that other American officials say they are not briefed on what the two discuss.

“Jared is a bit of a black hole,” said one State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss frustration with the White House. “There is no sense of the positions he has advocated. We can only guess, based on what he has done and where he has been.”

The official added: “The Emiratis and the Saudis have been very careful to cultivate him and bring him along” toward their “confrontational posture in the region.”

A White House official who also insisted on anonymity disputed the characterization of Mr. Kushner, saying he regularly briefed the State Department and National Security Council on his trips and conversations.

Mr. Kushner made his third visit to the kingdom this year ( and many to Israel)— this time unannounced until his return to Washington — in late October, when American officials say he stayed up late talking with Prince Mohammed at his ranch.

The sweep of arrests unfolded days later, and Mr. Trump was quick to applaud, although several White House officials said the Saudis gave Mr. Kushner no heads up on what was about to take place.

“I have great confidence in King Salman and the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, they know exactly what they are doing,” President Trump said on Twitter after the arrests had begun. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years.”

Ms. Baeshen, the embassy spokeswoman, said that Saudi Arabia and the United States “enjoy a wide range of cooperative discussions” but that “domestic affairs are just that: domestic affairs.”

The State Department official, though, said that its diplomats, the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency all felt “growing alarm” that Prince Mohammed “is behaving recklessly without sufficient consideration to the likely consequences of his behavior, and that has the potential to damage U.S. interests.”

WHY NBC had to Alters Account of Correspondent’s Kidnapping in Syria?

NBC News on Wednesday revised its account of the 2012 kidnapping of its chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, saying it was likely that Mr. Engel and his reporting team had been abducted by a Sunni militant group, not forces affiliated with the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria.

In a statement posted on the NBC News website Wednesday evening, Mr. Engel said that a review of the episode — prompted by reporting from The New York Times — had led him to conclude that “the group that kidnapped us was Sunni, not Shia.” He also wrote that the abductors had “put on an elaborate ruse to convince us they were Shiite shabiha militiamen.”

Mr. Engel and his team were kidnapped in December 2012 while reporting in Syria. They were held for five days. Just hours after emerging, they appeared on the “Today” show.

“This was a group known as the shabiha, this was the government militia, these are people who are loyal to President Bashar al-Assad,” Mr. Engel said on “Today,” citing information he had gathered from the group.

In that and other appearances on NBC, and in a Vanity Fair magazine article, he said that he had been rescued by Sunni rebels. At least two people died during the course of the captivity, he said in some versions of the account.

Interviews by The Times with several dozen people — including many of those involved in the search for NBC’s team, rebel fighters and activists in Syria and current and former NBC News employees — suggested that Mr. Engel’s team was almost certainly taken by a Sunni criminal element affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, the loose alliance of rebels opposed to Mr. Assad.

The group, known as the North Idlib Falcons Brigade, was led by two men, Azzo Qassab and Shukri Ajouj, who had a history of smuggling and other crimes.

The kidnapping ended, the people involved in the search said, when the team was freed by another rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, which had a relationship with Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj.

Mr. Engel and his team underwent a harrowing ordeal, and it is a common tactic for kidnappers in war zones to intentionally mislead hostages as to their identity.

NBC executives were informed of Mr. Ajouj and Mr. Qassab’s possible involvement during and after Mr. Engels’s captivity, according to current and former NBC employees and others who helped search for Mr. Engel, including political activists and security professionals. Still, the network moved quickly to put Mr. Engel on the air with an account blaming Shiite captors and did not present the other possible version of events.

An NBC News spokesman said the network would have no comment beyond the statement posted on its site. Vanity Fair said it had no immediate comment.

Just two months ago, NBC News suspended Brian Williams, its nightly news anchor, after he exaggerated an account of a helicopter episode in Iraq in 2003. The furor that surrounded Mr. Williams’s suspension led to a management shake-up in the news division, and the installation of Andrew Lack, a former NBC News president, as head of the operation.

NBC’s own assessment during the kidnapping had focused on Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj, according to a half-dozen people involved in the recovery effort. NBC had received GPS data from the team’s emergency beacon that showed it had been held early in the abduction at a chicken farm widely known by local residents and other rebels to be controlled by the Sunni criminal group.

NBC had sent an Arab envoy into Syria to drive past the farm, according to three people involved in the efforts to locate Mr. Engel, and engaged in outreach to local commanders for help in obtaining the team’s release. These three people declined to be identified, citing safety considerations.

Ali Bakran, a rebel commander who assisted in the search, said in an interview that when he confronted Mr. Qassab and Mr. Ajouj with the GPS map, “Azzo and Shukri both acknowledged having the NBC reporters.”

Several rebels and others with detailed knowledge of the episode said that the safe release of NBC’s team was staged after consultation with rebel leaders when it became clear that holding them might imperil the rebel efforts to court Western support.

Abu Hassan, a local medic who is close to the rebel movement, and who was involved in seeking the team’s release, said that when the kidnappers realized that all the other rebels in the area were working to get the captives out, they decided to create a ruse to free them and blame the kidnapping on the Assad regime. “It was there that the play was completed,” he said, speaking of the section of road Mr. Engel and the team were freed on.

Thaer al-Sheib, another local man connected with the rebel movement who sought the NBC team, said that on the day of the release “we heard some random shots for less than a minute coming from the direction of the farm.” He said that Abu Ayman, the rebel commander credited with freeing the team, is related by marriage to Mr. Ajouj, and that he staged the rescue.

Mr. Engel, in his statement, said he did not have a “definitive account of what happened that night.” He acknowledged the group that freed him had ties to his captors, but said he had received conflicting information.

“We managed to reach a man, who, according to both Syrian and U.S. intelligence sources, was one of Abu Ayman’s main fund-raisers,” he wrote. “He insists that Abu Ayman’s men shot and killed two of our kidnappers.”

Mr. Engel said the kidnapping “became a sensitive issue” for Mr. Ayman. “Abu Ayman and his superiors were hoping to persuade the U.S. to provide arms to them,” he wrote. “Having American journalists taken on what was known to be his turf could block that possibility.”

In his Vanity Fair article, Mr. Engel described one of his captors lying dead. In his statement Wednesday, he acknowledged that he did not see bodies during the rescue.

He said that one of his producers, Aziz Akyavas, climbed out of the van through the driver-side door, stepping over a body. “I climbed out of the passenger-side door,” he wrote.

“A bearded gunman approached and said that we were safe now. That was our introduction to Abu Ayman. He said that he and his men had killed the two kidnappers. Under the circumstances, and especially since Aziz said that he had seen and stepped over a body, I didn’t doubt it and later reported it as fact.”

Task Force 373: Drones targeting 2,000 on kill-list

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks revealed in an interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist the following piece of intelligence:

“One of the elements we discovered in “Afghan War Diary” (leaked in July 2010) was the existence of Task Force 373.  This is a special unit of the American army in charge of “liquidating” targets in a list of 2,000 names. There are no impartial rules to add or delete names from the list.  No one can warn you whether you are included on that list of “Joint Priority Effects List (JPEL)”, or potential dead by drone attacks.  From the document received, 50% of the targeted persons were simply killed: No alternatives to trying to capturing them alive.  In many instances, the drones just assassinated innocent kids and civilians, as collateral damages.

The dailies Der Spiegel (Germany) and The Guardian published articles on the bombing of a school that killed seven kids.Task Force 373 tried hard to “kill” this information and then extended its apology…Journalist Eric Schmitt of the New York Times, and in charge of the section national security, wrote an article on that subject, but it never was published.

On many occasions, the political leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan vented their anger at these drone attacks, to no avail so far.

Prior to the leaks on Task Force, WikiLeaks had divulged the two procedures of how the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay functions. We obtained the manual of 2003. The pentagon replied: “Yes, the manual is from 2003, during the period of General Miller…” (another scapegoat criminal).  We got the manual of 2004, and we realized that the procedure became even stricter, instead of improving…”

 published an article titled “US increases Yemen drone strikes”, on Saturday, September 17. She wrote:

“The Obama administration has significantly increased the frequency of drone strikes and other air attacks against the al-Qaeda affiliate in Yemen in recent months, amid rising concern about political collapse there.  A few of the strikes, carried out by the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), have been focused in the southern part of the country, where insurgent forces have for the first time conquered and held territory, as the Yemeni government continues to struggle against escalating opposition to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s 33-year rule.

Unlike in Pakistan, where the CIA has presidential authorization to launch drone strikes at will, each U.S. attack in Yemen — and those being conducted in nearby Somalia, such as the most recent on Thursday near the southern port city of Kismayo — requires White House approval, senior administration officials said.

The officials, who were not authorized to discuss the matter on the record, said intended targets must be drawn from an approved list of key members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula deemed by U.S. intelligence officials to be involved in planning attacks against the West. 

White House counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, last week put their number at “a couple of dozen, maybe.”Although several unconfirmed strikes each week have been reported by local media in Yemen and Somalia, the administration has made no public acknowledgment of the escalated campaign, and officials who discussed the increase declined to provide numbers.

The heightened air activity coincides with the administration’s determination this year that AQAP, as the Yemen-based group is known, poses a more significant threat to the United States than the core al-Qaeda group based in Pakistan. The administration has also concluded that AQAP has recruited at least a portion of the main insurgent group in Somalia, al-Shabab, to its anti-Western cause.

From its initial months in office, the Obama administration has debated whether to extend the air attacks that have proved so effective in Pakistan to the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. Military and intelligence officials have long argued in favor of attacks against al-Shabab camps in Somalia, which have been under overhead surveillance for years. Other officials have questioned the legal and moral justification for intervening in what, until recently, has been a largely domestic conflict.

The administration has said its legal authority to conduct such strikes, whether with fixed-wing planes, cruise missiles or drones, derives from the 2001 congressional resolution authorizing attacks against al-Qaeda and protection of the U.S. homeland, as well as the international law of self-defense.

“The United States does not view our authority to use military force against al-Qaeda as being restricted solely to ‘hot’ battlefields like Afghanistan,” Brennan said in remarks prepared for delivery Friday night at Harvard Law School. “We reserve the right to take unilateral action if or when other governments are unwilling or unable to take the necessary actions themselves.”

What’s going on? The US administrations always reserve the right to taking unilateral actions, such as launching a preemptive war on Iraq in 2003, without a UN resolution.  And the US administrations wonder why people are very upset with US political behaviors against the rudiment of human rights overseas.

Note: On October 2, a US drone assassinated US citizen Al Awlaki in Yemen.  Shouldn’t Al Awlaki be caught alive and tried, as any citizen should?

 

adonis49

adonis49

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