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Protecting civilians, or protecting Al-Qaeda?

Protecting civilians, or protecting Al-Qaeda?

Yemen’s parliament passes resolution which bans any future drone strikes within its borders. 

Last week, a drone strike carried out by the United States mistakenly targeted a wedding caravan, instead of what they thought was a militant linked convoy maneuvering between locations. As a result, several innocent civilians were killed and many more injured. This latest mishap involving a U.S. airstrike has prompted Yemen’s parliament to act, and in the process, may be offering al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), unintended protection from this preferred and lethal method for fighting terrorism. 

The U.S. has been actively and aggressively battling al-Qaeda linked groups in the tribal areas of Yemen for the past decade, using cruise missiles fired from U.S. Navy destroyers and submarines from the Gulf of Aden, as well as, drones (UAVs) launched from U.S. bases in Djibouti, Africa; with relatively successful results. AQAP has been known to use human shields in the past and that is why the United States government refuses to acknowledge or take responsibility for any airstrikes carried out in the country. The consequences from our government’s latest blunder is polarizing moderate Muslims in the region, and creating backlash for an already weak and unstable government in Sana’a. 

AQAP uses incidents like this latest one as their primary recruiting tools for militants around the world, and they tend to exaggerate the human costs to gin up support and hatred towards the United States and our allies. According to research done by the New American Foundation and the United Nations’ general assembly report on human rights, five to twenty percent of all drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan result in civilian deaths. Additionally, most of these targeted strikes are carried out in areas wrought with large numbers of militants and areas where al-Qaeda linked groups operate openly. The innocent human costs of these strikes are deplorable and anytime innocent civilians become the victims of airstrikes meant for terrorists, questions of accountability should be asked. 

Airstrikes carried out in sovereign nations without congressional approval or a declaration of war by the United States will continue to raise questions of legality, and groups like Human Rights Watch will continue to monitor these attacks. Recently, Human Rights Watch released a report titled, “Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda”, highlighting the civilian toll of drones strikes in Yemen, where the study implies the United States fires missiles indiscriminately in militant controlled areas. The United States government considers the lawless tribal regions of Yemen as battles zones in the war on terrorism (overseas contingency operations), and our government, specifically our elected leaders will continue to support the hostile nature of these counter-terrorism operations around the world in the name of national security. 

What future implications do attacks on civilians have in relation to national security? Is the cost in innocent lives and treasure, worth fueling anti-American sentiment around the world? Are we helping or hurting al-Qaeda? These are just a few of the questions we must ask ourselves when analyzing world affairs involving our tax dollars and our name. (12/15/2013)

(Adam Miller, Staff Writer – The Torch Media)  

The Torch Media's facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/thetorchnews


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