According to US officials the Obama Administration is considering deploying a number of CIA Predator drones to Yemen to launch drone strikes against the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) group which is based there.
The sudden desire to escalate the number of US attacks in Yemen, a matter which hadn’t been discussed much since January, comes a day after officials said a CIA assessment had designated the AQAP as a “more urgent threat” than al-Qaeda itself.
But the US launched missile attacks against Yemen in December, including a failed assassination attempt against American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki on Christmas Eve, and Awlaki remains on the official Obama Administration list of people for the CIA to kill.
The previous attacks killed a large number of civilians, and the use of drones in the nation, particularly when such attacks have killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan, will be enormously controversial.
Yemen’s government struggles with support for its multiple civil wars, which have been going on seemingly forever with no end in site. The acceptance of US drone strikes will give the appearance of a government admitting it has lost control and is turning over the fighting of at least one of those wars to a foreign power.
Then again, Yemen may choose to go the Pakistan route, formally condemning the drone attacks while privately encouraging and aiding them. This hasn’t necessarily worked well for Pakistan, however, as the Zardari government’s popularity continues to plummet amid views that they are puppets of the US government.