US Strikes Fueling al-Qaeda Sympathy in Yemen

As US Drones Pound Towns, Tribesmen Switch Sides

It’s an old story, but one that officials never seem to see coming. As the US dramatically escalates its war in Yemen, pounding cities in and around the southern Abyan Province, the Yemenis being attacked are starting to take it personally.

“These attacks are making people say, ‘We now believe that al-Qaeda is on the right side,” one Yemeni noted, adding that both of his brothers, a school teacher and a cellphone repairman, had been killed in US attacks in March.

Long a US client state, the installation of US-backed ruler Major General Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi in a single candidate election has given everything the regime does the taint of a US imprimatur. Yemeni troops are constantly attacking tribal areas, shelling towns and insisting that everyone killed is “al-Qaeda.

And while those reports from the Defense Ministry play well in the international media, they are less impressive in Abyan itself, where the civilian population knows that they’ve lost relatives in this war, and that whatever else they may think about the militant zealots in their midst, they aren’t the ones dropping bombs on them.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.