By Bill Van Auken in the USA:
17 May 2012
Missile strikes by US drones claimed the lives of at least a dozen civilians in Yemen’s southern Abyan province Tuesday, as Washington escalated its military intervention in the impoverished Arab country.
The attack took place in the town of Ja’ar, which together with the provincial capital of Zinjibar and several other towns was seized by Islamist insurgents during the protracted popular uprising against the US-backed regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was forced to relinquish his post last February.
Saleh’s former vice president and successor, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, has aligned himself even more closely with Washington, taking his orders from the US embassy and American special operations “advisers” who have been sent back into the country after being withdrawn during the recent popular upheavals.
According to Yemeni officials, Tuesday’s drone strikes followed a familiar pattern used to lethal effect in the CIA campaign in Pakistan. A first missile was fired against alleged insurgents meeting inside a house. The explosion drew a crowd to the scene as people sought to aid victims trapped in the rubble. These civilians then became the target for a second missile, which killed at least 12 people. Another 21 civilians were wounded in the second attack.
These latest casualties are part of a growing death toll as the Yemeni military, backed by US warplanes and directed by American special forces troops, wages a bloody campaign to retake the areas that came under the control of the Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) militia.
The US and Yemeni governments have claimed that the militia is merely another name for Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), while other Yemeni analysts insist that it includes both Al Qaeda elements and local groups and tribal factions. By branding all armed opposition as Al Qaeda, Washington is providing the justification for an open-ended war in Yemen against multiple opponents of the regime, including Shia rebels in the north of the country and those in the south seeking separation or autonomy from the central government.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva issued a statement Wednesday declaring: “Over the past few days, an escalation in fighting has resulted in scores of civilian casualties in Ja’ar.” Eric Marclay, the ICRC representative in Yemen, expressed particular concern about reports of “air strikes in civilian locations” and appealed to all sides to “protect civilians and allow health care workers to do their job safely.” The Red Cross said that it had distributed food and other items to some 100,000 internally displaced persons in Abyan province.
Both the US military’s Joint Special Operations Command and the CIA are waging drone missile campaigns in Yemen, where the number of strikes over the past month has exceeded all previous attacks in the country carried out over the past nine years.
Spy drone could have almost brought down a plane in Colorado: here.
Aid agencies rang the alarm on Wednesday over the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where one million children are malnourished: here.