Former U.S. Official Says Every Drone Attack in Yemen Creates 40 to 60 New Enemies

Sunday, October 27, 2013
Yemeni Children Look for Drones (photo: Reuters)

Killing suspected terrorists in Yemen with drone strikes has created even more enemies for the United States, according to former State Department official.


Nabeel Khoury, deputy chief of mission in Yemen from 2004 to 2007, says that for every al-Qaeda operative killed by a U.S. drone, another 40 to 60 new enemies are created as a result of this strategy.


“Drone strikes take out a few bad guys to be sure, but they also kill a large number of innocent civilians. Given Yemen’s tribal structure, the U.S. generates roughly forty to sixty new enemies for every AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] operative killed by drones,” Khoury wrote in an article for the Cairo Review.


Khoury, who now works as a fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, says drones cannot substitute for coherent foreign policy in Yemen. The current approach by the Obama administration towards the Middle Eastern country “reflects ambivalence, uncertainty and conflicting goals,” he wrote.


Khoury’s criticism was echoed in a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that said the U.S. policy of not acknowledging drone strikes has left innocent victims’ families without the ability to seek U.S. compensation, which in turn only fuels anti-American sentiments in Yemen.


HRW spent six weeks in Yemen interviewing more than 90 people about the drone strikes. It focused on just six of the attacks in the report.


“But those six killed 82 people, at least 57 of them civilians. They include a U.S. drone-assisted attack in September 2012 in Sarar, central Yemen, that unlawfully struck a passenger van, killing 12 civilians,” according to HRW.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Every Yemen Drone Strike Creates 40 To 60 New Enemies, Former U.S. Official Says (by Matt Sledge, Huffington Post)

In Yemen, Drones Aren’t a Policy (by Nabeel Khoury, Cairo Review of Global Affairs)

US: Reassess Targeted Killings in Yemen (Human Rights Watch)

Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda (Human Rights Watch)

Does U.S. Pay Compensation when it Kills Innocent Civilians in Yemen? It’s None of our Business (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 

Yemeni Journalist Jailed for Exposing U.S. Killing of Civilians Finally Released from Prison (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Senate Debate: Are Drone Attacks Creating More Enemies than They Kill? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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