– How Drones Help Al-Qaeda, Ibrahim Mothana (via eastafrodite)
The first known drone strike in Yemen to be authorized by Mr. Obama in late 2009 left 14 women and 21 children dead in the southern town of Al-Majala, according to a parliamentary report. Only one of the dozens killed was identified as having strong Al Qaeda connections.
Misleading intelligence has also led to disastrous strikes with major political and economical consequences. An American drone strike in May 2010 killed Jabir al-Shabwani, a prominent sheik and the deputy governed of the Marib province. The strike had dire repercussions for Yemen’s economy. The slain sheik’s tribe attacked the country’s main pipeline in revenge. With 70% of the country’s budget dependent on oil exports, Yemen lost over $1 billion. The strike also erased years of progress and trust-building with tribes who considered it a betrayal given their role in fighting Al Qaeda in their areas.
Yemeni tribes are generally quite pragmatic and by no means a default option for radical religious groups seeking a safe haven. However, the increasing civilian toll of drone strikes is turning the apathy of tribal factions into anger.
The strikes have created an opportunity for terrorist groups like Al Qaeda in the Arab peninsula and Ansar al-Sharia to recruit fighters from tribes who have suffered casualties, especially in Yemen’s south, where mounting grievances since the 1994 civil war have driven a strong succession movement.