Via the invaluable Waq al-Waq, I see that U.S. drones are once again buzzing over the Yemeni countryside. As the bloggers point out, American drone strikes scored one of their greatest victories on Nov. 3, 2002, with the assassination of al Qaeda’s head in Yemen, Abu al-Harithi. Not only was al-Harithi a genuinely bad guy, but his death sparked a long decline in al Qaeda in Yemen’s strength which has only recently been reversed.
However, rising instability in Yemen has apparently caused U.S. drones to renew their hunt for al Qaeda. While this has made waves in the Arab press, I still haven’t seen it reported in Western media. An interesting question is whether the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh can convince the U.S. to use the drones to provide him with intelligence on the northern Houthi rebellion, which poses an equally grave threat to his hold on power. If the U.S. weighs in on the side of Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government against the Iranian-supported Houthis, it will take the country another step closer to being embroiled in the proxy war everyone fears and expects it to become.
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