Shuaib Almosawa | Foreign Policy
Arfag al-Marwani finished his last minute shopping for the Eid al Fitr holiday by midnight, just enough time to enjoy a few hours of rest before the holiday’s dawn Fajr prayers. A 28-year-old laborer, Arfag had recently returned from working in Saudi Arabia and planned on spending the time with his family. It was August 8.
Just before making his final holiday preparations, he received a troubling phone call. Before the holiday celebrations could begin, he would have to carry out one final task.
There had been some sort of car accident involving his brothers: 24-year-old Abdullah, 17-year-old Hassan and 16-year-old Hussein. They too were on their way to the family home after finishing some last minute Eid shopping. Arfag’s thoughts drifted to news reports of the seven U.S. drone strikes in the past 11 days — one of which already targeted al Qaeda suspects in his home province of Marib. Arfag hoped that his young brothers weren’t somehow caught in the drone crossfire.
Human Rights Watch
The 97-page report examines six US targeted killings in Yemen, one from 2009 and the rest from 2012-2013. Two of the attacks killed civilians indiscriminately in clear violation of the laws of war; the others may have targeted people who were not legitimate military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian deaths.
READ THE REPORT
Geneva/Sanaa – Since the first strike in November 2002, the United States has carried out between 134 and 234 military operations in Yemen in its alleged ‘war on terror’. These include strikes by aircraft and drones as well as missiles launched from warships located in the Gulf of Aden. Estimates of the number of people killed as a result of these ‘targeted killings’ range from 1000 to 2000. Although neither the Yemeni nor the American authorities have put forward official statistics on the number of casualties, the percentage of hit targets, e.g. ‘al-Qaeda combatants and associates’ killed is estimated at 2%, the vast majority of the victims being civilians.
“Yemen – just like Pakistan – has become a testing ground for revolutionary new methods of warfare, not only technically, but also politically and legally.”, said Karim Sayad, Alkarama Regional Legal Officer for the Gulf.
The 94-page report “License to kill; why the American Drone War in Yemen violates international law” released today presents the results of Alkarama’s field research and analysis on the US strategy in its ‘war on terror’ with respect to international, examines the reactions of the US and Yemeni officials and civil society groups in light of the serious violations committed.
6 June 2013
For Immediate Release
Washington DC– This week 7 Americans announced their intention to travel to Yemen from June 11-18 on a peace delegation to meet with victims of US drone strikes and family members of Yemeni Guantanamo prisoners cleared for release. Yemen is the country with the most Guantanamo prisoners (86 of the 166 prisoners) and the most US drone strikes. Delegates are calling for relations between the U.S. and Yemen to be based on diplomacy and adherence to international law, not drone strikes and indefinite detention.
The delegation, organized by the U.S. group CODEPINK, will meet with government leaders, drone victim families, lawyers, academics, representatives of major Yemeni political parties and US officials. The delegation includes a woman who lost her sister in the 9/11 attacks and is a member of 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows; a retired Colonel and State Department official; political analysts; and the founders of CODEPINK. All understand the risks involved in traveling to a dangerous area, but are determined to stand in solidarity with Yemenis who suffer from a militarized U.S. foreign policy.
Vivian Salama | The Guardian
A small house, once made of large cement blocks, is reduced to rubble in a sea of untouched homes and shops in Jaar, a town in South Yemen’s Abyaan governorate. There are no signs of life where that house once stood — no photos, furniture, and certainly no people left behind. In May 2011, the house was struck by a drone — American, the locals say. Some believe the sole occupant, a man named Anwar Al-Arshani, may have been linked to Al Qaeda, although he kept to himself, so no one knows for sure. As Al-Arshani’s house smoldered from the powerful blow, townspeople frantically rushed to inspect the damage and look for survivors. And then, just as the crowd swelled, a second missile fired. Locals say 24 people were killed that day, all of them allegedly innocent civilians.
Eighteen-year-old Muneer Al-Asy was among them. His mother Loul says she knows nothing about America — not of its democracy or politics or people or values. All she knows is that it killed her son. She cannot read and does not own a television. Like many in her village, she says Al-Qaeda is “very bad,” but the thought of her youngest son being killed by an American missile haunts her dreams at night. She screams in fury at the people who took her son: “criminals!” She rocks anxiously back and forth on her sole piece of furniture — a long cushion in her single-room home — recalling the day her son was “martyred” by a U.S. drone. “I am like a blind person now,” says Loul. “Munner was my eyes.”
Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/living-in-terror-under-a-drone-filled-sky-in-yemen/275373/
Noor Mir and Rooj Alwazir | CODEPINK
Noor is the Pakistani-American anti-drone campaign coordinator at CODEPINK.
Rooj is a Yemeni-American activist and organizer with SupportYemen.
We are not here to proffer an analysis. We aren’t academics. We are here as a Pakistani and a Yemeni, as activists, as citizens of this country and as citizens of our homelands. We are dismayed. We are confused. But we are not hopeless.
We had been waiting for this hearing for a long time. With a handful of location and time changes, rumors floating around of Rand Paul as a witness and a push by human rights organizations around the globe to make calls to their senators and ask them to pose the important questions about civilian casualties of the secret war, the momentum had crescendoed by the time the moment finally approached on Tuesday. We were the first in line at noon for the 4 pm hearing, amused by the cameras trained on members of the Intelligence Committee as they were hurried by their staff into their closed meeting on the Boston bombings. One of our colleagues stood in the receiving line and asked senators the same question as they speed-walked past him, undoubtedly avoiding the activist in pink, “What about Abdulrahman Al-awlaki? He was just a boy? Will you ask about why they killed him with a drone strike?” James Risch eloquently responded with a simple “No.”
Hart 216, ironically the same room where Brennan’s first public confirmation hearing was held and that we disrupted, was filled with journalists and activists, many in Amnesty’s black shirts with white targets. Testimonies started with Retired Marine Corp General James Cartwright and moved down the line, each one with a more or less “pro-drone reform” spin. Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown spoke of the antiquity of the AUMF with regards to targets with more and more tenuous links to al-Qaeda such as Somalia’s al-Shabaab. We nodded. Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason, smiled broadly as he explained that enemy combatants on U.S. soil could be lawful drone targets. Retired Col. Martha McSally was introduced as a special guest of Lindsey Graham’s, which became more and more evident as the hearing proceeded and she spoke about how we were better off calling drones “remotely piloted aircrafts or RPAs” (not dissimilar from CEO of pro-drone lobby AUVSI Michael Toscano’s remark at the Judiciary hearing last month that drones have a negative connotation and we are better off calling them unmanned aerial vehicles). We winced. Peter Bergen spoke about calculating the dead and noted that civilian casualties were significantly reduced in 2013. Then Farea al-Muslimi, a friend from Yemen, took the microphone.
When Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, a son-in-law of Osama bin Laden, was taken into American custody at an airport stopover in Jordan last month, he joined one of the most select groups of the Obama era: high-level terrorist suspects who have been located by the American counterterrorism juggernaut, and who have not been killed.
Mr. Abu Ghaith’s case — he awaits a federal criminal trial in New York — is a rare illustration of what Obama administration officials have often said is their strong preference for capturing terrorists rather than killing them.
“I have heard it suggested that the Obama administration somehow prefers killing Al Qaeda members rather than capturing them,” said John O. Brennan, in a speech last year when he was the president’s counterterrorism adviser; he is now theC.I.A. director. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”
In fact, he said, “Our unqualified preference is to only undertake lethal force when we believe that capturing the individual is not feasible.”
Despite Mr. Brennan’s protestations, an overwhelming reliance on killing terrorism suspects, which began in the administration of George W. Bush, has defined the Obama years. Since Mr. Obama took office, the C.I.A. and military have killed about 3,000 people in counterterrorist strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, mostly using drones. Only a handful have been caught and brought to this country; an unknown number have been imprisoned by other countries with intelligence and other support from the United States. Read more