Top Obama counter-terrorism aide John Brennan today defended the ongoing assassinations in Yemen, claiming that after high profile killings like that of US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki he hasn’t seen evidence of anti-US sentiment.
That statement may technically be true, but is misleading. While the assassination of Awlaki has not spawned a huge reaction in Yemen, him being a US citizen and all, the constant US drone strikes against Abyan Province have been a key recruitment point for Ansar al-Sharia.
Beyond that, Brennan claimed that the killing had even had a positive effect, citing Yemen’s new government’s improved cooperation with the US. Of course this had nothing to do with Awlaki’s death, as the US simply installed a pro-US general as the new dictator in a single-candidate vote and is now bragging about how compliant he has been. This is surely great news for the administration, but the results of a single-candidate vote can’t be attributed to an assassination months prior.
Anwar Awlaki was the first US citizen to be added to the “kill list,” and President Obama ordered his assassination, eventually killing him in September. The assassination of a US citizen without charges has sparked a protracted legal battle between Obama and Awlaki’s relatives, with Obama’s Justice Department claiming there is no legal recourse when the president decides to kill somebody.