With so much attention now focussed on the war in Libya, the escalating use of predator drone attacks in Yemen has been less widely reported. However, according to an article published on June 8th in the New York Times and entitled “U.S. is intensifying a secret campaign of Yemen airstrikes”:
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.
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.
The article continues:
Concerned that support for the campaign could wane if the government of Yemen’s authoritarian president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, were to fall, the United States ambassador in Yemen has met recently with leaders of the opposition, partly to make the case for continuing American operations. Officials in Washington said that opposition leaders have told the ambassador, Gerald M. Feierstein, that operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula should continue regardless of who wins the power struggle in Sana.
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. Mr. Saleh authorized American missions in Yemen in 2009, but placed limits on their scope and has said publicly that all military operations had been conducted by his own troops.
Mr. Saleh fled the country last week to seek medical treatment in Saudi Arabia after rebel shelling of the presidential compound, and more government troops have been brought back to Sana to bolster the government’s defense.
Click here to read the full article by Mark Mazzetti