Beyond Intractability
Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
My Neighbor Is A Terrorist
Peacebuilding, Drones, and America's Presence in Yemen


By
Allyson L. Mitchell

This Case Study was written by Allyson L. Mitchell, School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR), George Mason University, in November 2012.

This piece was prepared as part of the S-CAR / Beyond Intractability Collaborative.

Sam McKinney acted as a peer reviewer on this piece.

 

The poorest country in the Middle East, Yemen remains a volatile region of the world. This is largely attributable to a number of civil wars that have continuously plagued the nation over the last 20 years. The United States' War on Terror and military policies towards Yemen has aided in the country's battle against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP); a known enemy of the U.S. and Yemeni Forces. Specifically, the drone strike assassination of U.S. born Anwar al-Awlaki has further exacerbated tensions creating ill sentiments towards the U.S. and inadvertently fueling AQAP's presence in Yemen. Increased drone attacks, with an escalating number of civilian casualties, have called into question the use of unmanned weapons. In recent discussionsit had been agreed that surprise attacks obstruct peacebuilding efforts and undermine the social fabric of Yemeni society. In light of these findings, the United States still has yet to reevaluate its warfare strategies. In essence, preliminary peacebuilding efforts in Yemen require the elimination of U.S. launched drone strikes and the formation of stabilizing political and economic structures.

In the aftermath of September 11th 2001, the United States launched a vendetta against terrorism worldwide with a vow from then-President George W. Bush, to "rid the world of evil-doers".[1] Current U.S. President Barack Obama has silently echoed this sentiment by endorsing an escalating defense budget each year since his inauguration. Furthermore, Mr. Obama has personally signed off on numerous targeted killings against suspected terrorists in a number of conflict hotspots; nearly all of which are located in areas laden with Al-Qaeda combatants. One such killing, the assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, has highlighted an ongoing debate over targeted killings and the use of drones to perform the U.S. military's dirty work. These debates have raised questions about U.S. involvement in Yemen and America's justification for using such lethal tactics in a country which it has not formally declared war upon.

This paper aims to address the legitimacy of the Anwar al-Awlaki case and the lingering implications such targeted killings have on both the tormentor and the society being tormented; the aggressor and the aggressed. This paper contends that the United States deployment of unmanned hi-tech weaponry further exacerbates ill sentiments towards U.S. policies creating a perpetual cycle of recruitment of candidates for Al-Qaeda's militia. Lastly, this paper argues that a surprise attack, irrespective of lawfulness, obstructs peacebuilding efforts and undermines the social fabric of Yemeni society.

To reach these conclusions, this paper analyzes the relationship between the United States, Yemen, and AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Part I provides background information on Anwar al-Awlaki, AQAP, Yemen, and the legal issues surrounding the United States' newly condoned practice of targeted killing. Part II addresses casualty aversion and the United States' increased funding of unmanned weapons systems. Part III analyzes exactly how current U.S. policies are thwarting economic and political progress in fragile societies such as Yemen.

I. Background
Yemen

After years of hostilities, the Republic of Yemen was formed in 1990 with the unification of the pro-Western North and the pro-Marxist South. Then-Northern President Ali Abdullah Saleh was appointed president of the new republic. In 1991, Yemen conveyed allegiance to Iraq during the Persian Gulf War. Out of discontent, Saudi Arabia exiled more than 850,000 Yemeni workers from its borders. Soon after, Saudi Arabia began the construction of a separation barrier in order to prevent unauthorized movements between the two countries. Although an International Borders Treaty was signed in 2000, armed rebel groups have continued to instigate clashes along the northern border shared with Saudi Arabia.[2] Since 2004 Yemeni Forces have been involved in a civil conflict with Shiite Houthi rebels in the north who are seeking autonomy from the Yemeni government.[3]

The southern regions of Yemen have also seen their share of instabilities since the union. In 1994, civil war broke out in the south due to rebel leaders' dissatisfaction towards the Yemeni government's control over the southern capital, Aden. Over the years, lingering Marxist tendencies coupled with high unemployment and a growing population has ignited resentments towards the Yemeni government. Where more than 42% of the population lives on less than $2 a day, Yemen ranks 154 out of 187 on the Human Development Index (HDI).[4] In areas where the Yemeni government has failed, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has picked up the pieces by providing daily necessities and security to the Yemeni people.

In the midst of the Wikileaks epidemic in December 2010, files revealed a secret deal brokered between the United States and Yemen. This arrangement allowed for the United States to use bombs and missiles to neutralize suspected AQAP targets in an agreement that then-President Saleh would bear full responsibility for the air assault. [5] In what appeared to be a mutually beneficial contract for both parties involved, the U.S. maintained surveillance of Al Qaeda's operations within Yemen and the Yemeni government cast the illusion that it had control of the uprising.

With the secret exposed, an outbreak of rioting and protests against government corruption took place in 2011; mirroring the Arab Spring revolution that swept throughout the Middle East. In October 2011, after months of clashes between rebel groups and the Yemeni Forces, the UN Security Council issued Resolution 2014 urging both sides to end the fighting. President Saleh stepped down, transferring power to Vice President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi. Elections were held in February 2012 and President Hadi ran unopposed. Although Hadi won the election with close to 99% of the votes, sources indicated that there was only 50% participation from the populous as a whole.[6]

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

In 2009, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) was formed from the union of Al Qaeda's Yemeni and Saudi Arabian branches. Longtime inspirational Islamic speaker, Anwar al-Awlaki, was suggested to have assumed power as the regional commander of the newly established AQAP. This was seen as a critical turning point, as "the merger effectively transformed al-Qaeda from a local chapter to a regional franchise" capable of global action. AQAP's mission is "consistent with the principles of militant jihad, which aims to purge Muslim countries of Western influence and replace secular 'apostate' governments with fundamentalist Islamic regimes operating under sharia law." [7] Specific objectives included the overthrow of Saleh, elimination of western nationals in Yemen (including their allies), targeted assaults on western interests such as embassies or oil enterprises, and finally directly attacking the United States.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula first struck U.S. soil in June 2009 with a drive-by shooting in front of a military recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas. Killing one and wounding another, the shooter Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, admitted that he was an affiliate of AQAP and that the organization had orchestrated the incident.[8] Only months later in December 2009 the Christmas Day Underwear Bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, boarded a plane headed for Detroit with intentions of bringing down the carrier and the 200+ persons onboard. Abdulmutallab was said to have received his explosives in Yemen where he was trained by AQAP. A year later, in October 2010, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took credit for the printer cartridge bomb that was planted on a UPS cargo plane headed for the United States. Although the bomb was discovered through an anonymous tip out of Saudi Arabia[9], experts stated that the cellphone-detonated bomb could have taken down the aircraft if left undetected.

AQAP has not only been terrorizing the United States, but its Yemeni hosts as well. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula aided non-governmental parties in the struggle and ultimately successful overthrow of President Saleh. With AQAP's focus on using soft targets to incite fear and chaos, it has effectively dismantled the Yemeni government. This has left the country in a state of disarray, essentially AQAP's for the taking.

Anwar al-Awlaki

Born in New Mexico, Anwar al-Awlaki was arguably known as the "most prominent English-speaking advocate of violent jihad against the United States".[10] He spent his childhood in Yemen studying Islam and earned a bachelor's and master's degree while attending universities in the United States. Mr. Awlaki made a career change in the early 90's and pursued his religious aspirations to become an imam. He worked as a spiritual leader at mosques in California and Virginia; however he is most well-known for the fierce sermons he presented to his followers via internet in both English and Arabic. His seemingly perfect English made him even more dangerous to U.S. interests, as he could appeal to a western audience. The FBI has revealed he had a close relationship with two of the 9/11 hijackers when he was the imam at a renowned mosque in Virginia. Before they could complete their investigations, in 2002, he left the United States and eventually returned to Yemen.[11]

It is unclear exactly when or why Mr. Awlaki became radicalized, but it became evident in early 2009 that he had transformed from an "inspirational to operational"[12] figure in the Islamic world. Regarded as the leader of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Mr. Awlaki had known ties and indirect involvement in a number of attacks on the United States. He had exchanged multiple emails with Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist who shot 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas in November 2009.[13] Among others, Mr. Awlaki is also linked to the Christmas Day Underwear Bomber, the UPS Print Cartridge Aircraft Bomb, and the Times Square Car Bomb. Although Mr. Awlaki had never had hands-on participation in these assaults, he was seen as the mastermind; providing the expertise and tools necessary to execute such violence. Because of this direct relationship to the attacks, he was placed on the United States undisclosed targeted kill list in 2010.

On September 30th, 2011, Anwar al-Awlaki was gunned down by hellfire missiles from drones controlled by the CIA. The missiles were shot at a vehicle carrying him and other top operatives of AQAP, including American-born extremist Samir Khan who was the editor in chief of Inspire AQAP's internet magazine. The drone attacks were said to have been part of a clandestine Pentagon program created to hunt members of AQAP.[14] After two years of hunting Awlaki, and a failed attempt on his life in May 2011, the United States was able to assassinate Mr. Awlaki in northern Yemen with minimal collateral damage.

The American government may see the death of Awlaki, who was known for his excessive security precautions, as a step towards instilling fear into AQAP members. Since tracking down Osama bin Laden and now Awlaki, the U.S. has adopted a "we got him, so we can surely get you" attitude. In stark contrast, Islamic scholar and Londoner, Anjem Choudhry forewarned, "The death of Sheik Anwar al-Awlaki will merely motivate the Muslim youth to struggle harder against the enemies of Islam and Muslims." He added, "I would say his death has made him more popular." [15] If Choudhry is correct in his assessment, Americans should be concerned with the level of backlash they could be facing from Al-Qaeda in the near future.

U.S. Legal Implications

Once wary of the use of targeted killings, the United States became an advocate of targeted warfare after 9/11. According to a 2010 United Nations report, targeted killings are defined as, "the intentional, premeditated and deliberate use of lethal force, by States or their agents acting under colour of law, or by an organized armed group in armed conflict, against a specific individual who is not in the physical custody of the perpetrator."[16] Under the rules of International Humanitarian Law, targeted killing is only lawful when met by three requirements; (1) The target is directly participating in the hostilities, (2) The use of force is proportionate, and (3) Precautions were taken to minimize harm to civilians. Under the Law of Inter-State Force, a targeted killing directed by a State in a territory of another State does not violate the second State's sovereignty if (A) the second State gives consent, or (B) the first State is using force in an act of self-defense. This act of self-defense is warranted when "the second state is unwilling or unable to stop armed attacks against the first State launched from its territory".[17] In both these cases the United States has legal authority to use lethal force against AQAP in Yemen; President Saleh had given the U.S. government permission to attack AQAP members and the United States' claim of self-defense is justified due to the previous assaults coordinated by AQAP that Yemeni authorities were unable to prevent.

Although the United States appears to have followed the correct guidance in accordance with international laws, U.S. Constitutional Law was called into question because of Mr. al-Awlaki's American citizenship. To validate its claim, the U.S. government rationalized that Mr. Awlaki presented an imminent threat to civilians, that he was working hand-in-hand with the enemy (Al Qaeda), and that there was no feasible way to arrest and extradite him to the U.S. for trial. The justification for the kill order came from a secret memorandum written by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel which concluded "Mr. Awlaki was covered by the authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda that Congress enacted shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001".[18] The document also alluded to the fact that there was future risk of Mr. Awlaki attacking the United States at any given time and this risk posed a significant threat to Americans' safety.

II. Casualty Aversion and the Age of Unmanned Weapons
What are Drones? Where DID they come from?

By infusing billions of dollars each year into the defense budget, the United States has remained on the forefront of research, design, development, and ultimately deployment of hi-tech military weapons. This has allowed the United States military to maintain an unprecedented stronghold on these technologies. Drones, such as the Predator drone that was used to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, have unique built-in features that extend beyond human capabilities. Major funding for these types of programs comes from DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), a U.S. defense agency that was established in 1958 to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military.[19] DARPA awards hundreds of grants and contracts each year for the advancement of military weaponry.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as Drones, were initially deployed for surveillance and detection. Drones were first utilized to track movements of terrorist cells and gain intelligence as to the location of enemy strongholds. This ability "enabled the U.S. military for the first time in history to engage in persistent surveillance over large, distant areas of the globe".[20] The well-known Predator drone can spend up to 24 hours in the sky, at altitudes of 26,000 ft., while taking real-time footage of the scene below.[21] In the search for Osama bin Laden through Afghani foothills, military officials were able to spot enemy targets through information derived from the Drones. However, by the time a Special Forces team was deployed to the location — the enemy had moved. It became clear that the intelligence data captured by the drones was not enough.

Tactical failures, and close encounters led to the evolution of unmanned military platforms from informational support devices to weapons systems armed to target and kill. Predator drones are presently equipped with laser-guided Hellfire missiles and they have the ability to take out a target through orders issued from a comfortable office in Langley, Virginia thousands of miles away. A UN Human Rights report suggests, "the appeal of armed drones is clear: especially in hostile terrain, they permit targeted killings at little to no risk to the State personnel carrying them out, and they can be operated remotely from the home State".[22] Within months of this monumental shift, the market for military robotics increased tenfold. Currently, the U.S. military is being supplied devices that bear resemblance to futurist sci-fi movies; MAVs (miniature UAVs) that look like every day insects, Big Dog pack mules that can regain their balance after slipping on ice or falling on other unleveled terrain, and even personal body armor that is designed to give soldiers superhuman strength. Like never before, robotics technologies on today's battlefields hold position and power.

What Happened to Person to Person Combat?

With unhealed wounds from Vietnam and horrific memories of 9/11, Americans seem to have contracted what some scholars are calling a casualty phobia or fear of the body bag syndrome. This concept suggests that seeing body bags creates a visual aversion to causalities, which strongly affects domestic policies. Schornig and Lembcke indicate, "there seems to be a consensus that the United States is most casualty averse (in comparison to other nations)...but the scope of the relevance of the casualty aversion hypothesis is under debate, both horizontally (between countries) and vertically (within a country-over time)".[23] Part of the Soldier's Creed, to leave no man behind, is cemented in the minds of U.S. soldiers. An ode to return for the dead satisfies emotional reactions of loyalty, fear, vengeance and honor. Furthermore, knowledge of the enemy's practice of mutilating bodies in recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq certainly plays a role in the decision-making process of when and where soldiers are sent into battle.[24] The human body is a concrete concept while the principles behind humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping, and pursuing terror are far more abstract.[25]

Casualty aversion driven policies are a logical response to rationalize the United States' trend in pursuing hi-tech weaponry. Given that conflict is at times, unavoidable "a technical advantage over the enemy and the extensive use of distance weapons therefore seems to be the silver bullet for Western democracies for satisfying their genuine urge to protect their citizens if they see at least a slim chance of having to fight a war in the foreseeable future".[26] As retired Major General Charles Dunlap Jr. warns, "The impetus to seek technological solutions to virtually every human dilemma — even the costly viciousness of war — is quintessentially American".[27] It may be that Americans have become casualty averse simply because America now has the power to avoid certain ills of war. In short, the expectation going forward is that soldiers are not expected to die in wars any more.[28] It has been demonstrated through overwhelming political support in Washington that Americans encourage the use of hi-tech devices over human combatants in order to keep American soldiers safe and promote low-casualty sustainment.

III. The Impact of Drone Attacks on Yemeni Civilians
A Hard Reality

The assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki is just one example of a great number of drone attacks that the U.S. has exercised in Yemen. And although it is unlikely to be spoken of by U.S. media outlets, Mr. Awlaki and his circle of subordinates were not the only individuals murdered in the Fall of 2011. Two weeks later, Mr. Awlaki's 16 year old son (a U.S. citizen) and his 17 year old nephew were also killed by a drone attack that was allegedly targeting other AQAP operatives. The two boys were said to have not been the intended targets in the assault and were written off as collateral damage.

A recent research study issued by the Bureau of Investigative studies in London found that in Yemen from 2001-2012 there have been between 31-68 attacks resulting in 294-673 deaths; of which 55-105 were civilians, including 24 children.[29] The visual below represents all deaths that have been confirmed; absolute minimum number of casualties.[30]

Courtesy of TIBJ[31]

The most deadly U.S. sponsored civilian strike in Yemen occurred on December 17th, 2009 in the southern province of Al-Majala. A U.S. Navy ship launched a Tomahawk cruise missile, intended for known militant Saleh Mohammed al-Anbouri, who had recently been released from prison. Al-Anbouri had told residents that he was preparing to start a new life there and was said to have brought his entire family to the area. He was digging a well with a number of the local men when the missile hit. 41 civilians were killed in the attack, including 22 children ranging from one year old to 17 years. A handful of the women slain were also said to have been pregnant. Additionally, three other civilians' lives were taken after stepping on cluster munitions following the initial blast. This raised the death toll to 44, excluding al-Anbouri and 13 other militants.

In the days that followed, the U.S. worked feverishly to cover-up their role in the massacre but Wikileak released cables between General David Petraeus and then-President Saleh confirmed the source of the execution. Yemen's parliament sought answers and established a commission to investigate the slaughter. The commission published its findings on February 7th, 2010 which included the names, ages, relationships, and genders of all 44 civilians killed. The parliament accepted the findings, in full, and called for the government to open a judicial investigation. The same day the Yemeni government is said to have issued a statement apologizing to the survivors, calling the incident a 'mistake' and offering the families monetary compensation for the lives lost and land destroyed.[32] To date, the United States has made no effort to acknowledge its part in the attack, nor express regret for the families that were destroyed.

In denial of the aforementioned realities of drone warfare, Chief Counterterrorism Advisor, John Brennan, provided an indication of events to come: "Going forward, we will be mindful that if our nation is threatened, our best offense won't always be deploying large armies abroad but delivering targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us."[33] Modern day warfare has altered the guidelines of war and changed the way combatants fight; conflicts have been relocated from the classic battlefield location to populated urban centers amongst the daily lives of civilians. This has a tendency to blur the boundaries between civilians and hostiles in a combat environment. That said, the U.S. still has no moral ground to knowingly and purposefully take the lives of the innocent. As Robert Paarlberg, Professor of International Affairs, discovered, "victories that bring resentment will breed resistance, most easily expressed in the form of asymmetric threats against soft targets, including homeland targets".[34] Moreover, by operating drone warfare and murdering civilians, America is creating new enemies that otherwise would not have been a threat.

The latest U.S. policy developments raise additional concerns as to the true agenda of the United States. On April 24th, 2012 President Obama approved the use of "signature" attacks following a CIA request to expand their clandestine drone operations in Yemen. Until now, strikes were only sanctioned against known terrorist leaders who appear on the secret targeted kill list and whose locations could be confirmed. This new authority gives the CIA and JSOC (U.S. Joint Special Operations Command) the ability to open fire on targets based exclusively on patterns of behavior; their "signature". The administration's decision has initiated a hot debate in Washington. In particular, "Congressional officials have expressed concern that using signature strikes would raise the likelihood of killing militants who are not involved in plots against the United States, angering Yemeni tribes and potentially creating a new crop of al-Qaeda recruits."[35] This new policy, which has already increased the average number of drone strikes per month, will surely amplify the probability of civilian causalities in future altercations with AQAP.

Economic Implications

The ongoing civil unrest in Yemen has fractured an already fragile economy. Yemen has relied heavily on its declining oil resources which accounts for roughly 25% of GDP and 70% of total government revenue.[36] In 2006, an economic reform project was set in motion in order to promote direct investment and strengthen non-oil sectors of the economy. This program facilitated the production of liquefied natural gas, which was first exported in 2009. In the past five years, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have had to suspend disbursements of aid numerous times due to political and economic instability.

Yemen has found itself in what economist Paul Collier describes as the Conflict Trap. Collier found that the poorest nations of the world are at the greatest risk of violent civil conflict. In his calculations, once a country partakes in a civil war it experiences 'development in reverse'; meaning the world's poorest are more likely to begin civil wars and those wars further impoverish the people.[37] To substantiate his claim he also studied the middle-income countries of the world and found that they are at almost zero risk of civil war. He argues that the only way out of the Conflict Trap, is through vigorous economic development. Unfortunately, natural resources serve as an important function in development efforts, and Yemen has very few of them. Outside of petroleum, Yemen's strongest resources include fish, rock salt, and marble.[38]

During the 2011 unrest in Yemen, strikes on oil pipelines and electrical facilities created severe shortages and electrical outages throughout the nation. To aid, in April 2012, the IMF granted Yemen a $93.75 million interest-free emergency loan to "cushion foreign exchange reserves and maintain macroeconomic stability, while scaling up social and capital expenditures".[39] The Yemeni government has announced it would use these funds to fix the infrastructural issues, create jobs, and reduce poverty. This is a tall order for a nation with 43% of its population under the age of 14 years and 45% of the total population below the poverty line.[40] However if a steady and persistent amount of aid can be delivered without delay, there is hope that Yemen can break the Conflict Trap and reach a state of peace without war.

Political Implications

As discussed above, Collier provides a clear picture of the benefits of economic development and the economy's role in sustaining peace. International peacebuilding and political development expert, Richard Ponzio takes the idea of conflict prevention one step further by arguing that before economic development can occur, a strong political structure must be in place. During conflict situations, when state institutions fail to provide basic human needs for its people, "power is diffused — and exerted through informal or incoherent means".[41] Extreme mistrust of the Yemeni government has led many Yemenis to join tribes and rebel factions like AQAP in order seek out alternative means for security, food, shelter, and work. Ponzio explains, "Without building trust and cooperation in post conflict societies through effective democratic legal authority, even the most generous provisions of humanitarian or longer-term reconstruction assistance may not lead to sustainable peace."[42] It has been proven that citizens will accept authority if it is deemed legitimate. Therefore structural changes are necessary in order to develop confidence within the community and implement an institutionalized democratic legal authority.

Ponzio elaborates:

"Besides institutional checks and balances within the formal state structure, democratic authorities can be held accountable through the actions of influential non-state actors, such as the media, civic groups, and the private sector. Such arrangements allow authority to command the respect that is required for effective action by curbing the dangers of excessive corruption or power seeking."[43]

Since Abd Rabbuh Mansur Al-Hadi's presidential selection in February 2012, he has been struggling to convince the Yemeni people that transformations are underway. On a positive note, there have been leadership changes within the Yemeni Security Forces as well as the Supreme Judiciary Council. However, with few exceptions, the leadership within the administration remains unchanged. In addition, cities across the country remain divided into zones controlled by a wide range of paramilitary, military, and tribal forces. Efforts to reorganize the zones under a central command have been delayed due to complications.

When Mr. Hadi took office he vowed to achieve a number of milestones before the Parliamentary elections which are scheduled for 2014. As part of these objectives, Yemen is seeking to draft a new constitution, reform electoral laws, and create a national dialogue. More critical of present concerns, Hadi declared that a Truth Commission would be created in order to deliver transitional justice to citizens. This commission is evaluating the 2011 protestor attacks and ensuring compensation for victims harmed under Saleh's regime. To date, no investigations have been completed, but many citizens are seeking justice for abuses committed during peaceful protests that killed more than 270 demonstrators in 2011.

Unfortunately, this positive progress towards peacebuilding has been masked by a 2012 Yemeni Parliament decision to grant full immunity to Ex-President Saleh. The decision also concedes immunity to those who served with Saleh during his 33-year rule for all political crimes, bar terrorism.[44] This language, which could encompass any major human rights violation committed by representatives on official duty, discounts the integrity of the Truth Commission. President Hadi has failed to take the necessary steps towards executing an institutionalized democratic legal authority in Yemen, triggering a growing lack of confidence towards the new administration.

Conclusion: My Neighbor Is a Terrorist

So what does it actually mean to live among terrorists? For the 44 civilians killed in Al-Majala, it meant their lives. All in all, for many Yemenis, it signifies living in a constant state of fear. Yemenis fear AQAP and its known allegiances to Al Qaeda's mission. They also fear the Yemeni government, as the shortcomings of the political system have failed them time and time again. And finally, they fear the United States for engaging in sudden and destructive drone strikes that are unknown to the populous until the moment they touch ground. All of these trepidations can be easily morphed into anger which "will only increase the hatred locals have for the United States, and turn residents into al Qa'eda sympathizers."[45]. If the mission of the United States is to rid the world of Al-Qaeda, drone attacks are far from the solution.

There are many lessons to be learned from U.S. military policy in Yemen, but the most profound lesson is one of change. "Over the past decade the focus has shifted visibly from restraining violence to legitimizing it"[46] and at what point will it stop? U.S. policy in Yemen is creating nothing more than a perpetual cycle of violence that has a tendency to breed more terrorists than it can exterminate. The bottom line is that the United States should not be meddling in another country's affairs through closed door dealing and secret killing missions.

With the United States barred from undermining peacebuilding efforts, the world might bear witness to an entirely new Yemen. Although there is no perfect model for peacebuilding, Collier and Ponzio provide noteworthy guidance on the actions needed for creating political and economic foundations that aid in the stabilization of a state. If achieved, Yemenis may no longer need to look towards terrorist networks, such as AQAP, for support. Confidence in the system and empowerment of the Yemeni people is perhaps the answer to kicking the terrorists out of the neighborhood.

References

Almasmari, H. (2011, June 15). US Makes a Drone Attack a Day in Yemen. The National. Retrieved May 6, 2012, from http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/us-makes-a-drone-attack-a-day-in-yemen

Alston, P. (2010). United Nations Human Rights Council: Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions (Rep. No. A/HRC/14/24/Add.6). Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.24.Add6.pdf

Anwar al-Awlaki. (2012, March 5). The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/a/anwar_al_awlaki/index.html

Bar-Tal, D. (2000). From Intractable Conflict through Conflict Resolution to Reconciliation: Psychological Analysis. Political Psychology, 21(2), 351-365. Retrieved May 1, 2012, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3791795

Beard, J. M. (2009). Law and War in the Virtual Era. The American Journal of International Law, 103(3), 409-445. Retrieved September 16, 2011, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40283651

Credeur, M., Bliss, J., & Dolmetsch, C. (2010, October 29). Obama Says Packages Bound for U.S. Had Explosives. Bloomberg. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-29/ups-planes-in-new-jersey-philadelphia-probed-after-suspicious-items-found.html

Eriksson, J., & Giacomello, G. (2006). The Information Revolution, Security, and International Relations: (IR)releveant Theory? International Political Science Review, 27(3), 221-244. Retrieved May 12, 2011, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20445053

Hosenball, M. (2011, October 05). Secret Panel can put Americans on Kill List' Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/05/us-cia-killlist-idUSTRE79475C20111005

Legum, J. (2011, April 11). Top Ten Shares of U.S. Military Expenditures 2010 [Chart]. In Think Progress: Report U.S. Military Spending Has Almost Doubled since 2001. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/military_spending_big.png

Levine, M. (2009, December 24). Imam Linked to Ft. Hood Rampage Believed to Be Among 30 Al Qaeda Killed in Airstrike | Fox News. Fox News. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,581053,00.html

M, R. (2011, December 1). Biggest Military Spenders [Chart]. In Defense Spending: Always More, or Else. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/12/defence-spending

Masters, J. (2011, December 7). Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved May 3, 2012, from http://www.cfr.org/yemen/al-qaeda-arabian-peninsula-aqap/p9369

Masters, J. (2012, April 30). Targeted Killings. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved May 6, 2012, from http://www.cfr.org/counterterrorism/targeted-killings/p9627

Mazzetti, M., Schmitt, E., & Worth, R. (2011, October 1). American-Born Qaeda Leader is Killed by U.S. Missile in Yemen. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/world/middleeast/anwar-al-awlaki-is-killed-in-yemen.html

Miller, G. (2012, April 25). White House Approves Broader Yemen Drone Campaign. Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2012, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/white-house-approves-broader-yemen-drone-campaign/2012/04/25/gIQA82U6hT_print.html

Our Work. (n.d.). Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Retrieved March 10, 2012, from http://www.darpa.mil/

Paarlberg, R. L. (2004). Knowledge as Power: Science, Military Dominance, and U.S. Security. International Security, 29(1), 122-151. doi: 10.1162/0162288041762959

Perez-Rivas, M. (2001, September 16). Bush vows to rid the world of 'evil-doers' CNN. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/09/16/gen.bush.terrorism/

Ponzio, R. (2011). Democratic Peacebuilding: Aiding Afghanistan and other Fragile States. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ramsbotham, O., Miall, H., & Woodhouse, T. (2011). Chapter 5: Preventing Violent Conflict. In Contemporary Conflict Resolution: The Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts (pp. 131-132). Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Republic of Yemen. (2012, March 5). UNDP in Yemen. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from http://www.undp.org.ye/

Saeed, A. (2012, February 11). Houthis Look to Establish Shiite State Along Saudi Border. Yemen Times. Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://www.yementimes.com/en/1524/report/369/Houthis-look-to-establish-Shiite-state-along-Saudi-border.htm

Samet, E. D. (2005). Leaving No Warriors Behind: The Ancient Roots of a Modern Sensibility. Armed Forces & Society, 31(4), 625. doi: 10.1177/0095327X0503100409

Santoro, D. (2005). Defining Proliferation: Past and Present Perspectives. AQ: Australian Quarterly, 77(2), 28-40. Retrieved October 5, 2011, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20638328

Schornig, N., & Lembcke, A. C. (2006). The Vision of War without Casualties: On the Use of Casualty Aversion in Armament Advertisements. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(2), 204-227. doi: 10.1177/0022002705284827

Serle, J. (2012, March 29). Yemen Strikes Visualised. TBIJ: The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved May 5, 2012, from http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/03/29/yemen-strikes-visualised/

Singer, P. W. (2009). Robots at War: The New Battlefield. The Wilson Quarterly, 33(1), 30-48. Retrieved October 5, 2011, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40262238

Singer, P. W. (2010). Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the Twenty-First Century. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

SIPRI Military Expenditure Database. (2011). SIPRI: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Retrieved December 10, 2011, from http://www.sipri.org/databases/milex

Slater, E. (2012, April 30). Yemen: Reported US Covert Actions Since 2001. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved May 5, 2012, from http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/03/29/yemen-reported-us-covert-actions-since-2001/

Smith, H. (2005). What Costs Will Democracies Bear? A Review of Popular Theories of Casualty Aversion. Armed Forces & Society, 31(4), 507. doi: 10.1177/0095327X0503100403

Smith, T. W. (2002). The New Law of War: Legitimizing Hi-Tech and Infrastructural Violence. International Studies Quarterly, 46(3), 355-374. doi: 10.1111/1468-2478.00237

Suspect in Soldier Slaying Claims Al-Qaida Ties. (2010, January 22). MSNBC US News. Retrieved March 19, 2012, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/

Wikileaks Files Reveal Secret US-Yemen Bomb Deal. (2010, December 4). BBC News. Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11918037

Woods, C. (2012, March 29). The Civilian Massacre the US neither Confirms nor Denies. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved May 5, 2012, from http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/03/29/the-civilian-massacre-the-us-will-neither-confirm-nor-deny/

World Factbook Yemen. (n.d.). CIA-The World Factbook. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

Yemen: Amnesty for Saleh and Aides Unlawful. (2012, January 23). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved May 7, 2012, from http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/01/23/yemen-amnesty-saleh-and-aides-unlawful

Yemen Gets $93 Million Emergency Loan from IMF. (2012, April 5). IMF Survey. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2012/CAR040512A.htm

 

[1] Perez-Rivas, M. (2001, September 16). Bush vows to rid the world of 'evil-doers' CNN. Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/09/16/gen.bush.terrorism/

[2] World Factbook Yemen. (n.d.). CIA-The World Factbook. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

[3] Saeed, A. (2012, February 11). Houthis Look to Establish Shiite State Along Saudi Border. Yemen Times. Retrieved April 28, 2012, from http://www.yementimes.com/en/1524/report/369/Houthis-look-to-establish-Shiite-state-along-Saudi-border.htm

[4] Republic of Yemen. (2012, March 5). UNDP in Yemen. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from http://www.undp.org.ye/

[5] Wikileaks Files Reveal Secret US-Yemen Bomb Deal. (2010, December 4). BBC News. Retrieved December 17, 2012, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11918037

[6] World Factbook Yemen. (n.d.). CIA-The World Factbook. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

[7] Masters, J. (2011, December 7). Al Qaeda Arabian Peninsula. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved May 3, 2012, from http://www.cfr.org/yemen/al-qaeda-arabian-peninsula-aqap/p9369

[8] Suspect in Soldier Slaying Claims Al-Qaida Ties. (2010, January 22). MSNBC US News. Retrieved March 19, 2012, from http://www.msnbc.msn.com/

[9] Credeur, M., Bliss, J., & Dolmetsch, C. (2010, October 29). Obama Says Packages Bound for U.S. Had Explosives. Bloomberg. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-29/ups-planes-in-new-jersey-philadelphia-probed-after-suspicious-items-found.html

[10]Anwar al-Awlaki. (2012, March 5). The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/a/anwar_al_awlaki/index.html

[11] Levine, Mike. "Imam Linked to Ft. Hood Rampage Believed to Be Among 30 Al Qaeda Killed in Airstrike | Fox News." Fox News. FOX News Network, 24 Dec. 2009. Web. 21 Mar. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,581053,00.html

[12] Hosenball, M. (2011, October 05). Secret Panel can put Americans on Kill List' Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/05/us-cia-killlist-idUSTRE79475C20111005

[13] Anwar al-Awlaki. (2012, March 5). The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/a/anwar_al_awlaki/index.html

[14] Ibid.

[15] Mazzetti, M., Schmitt, E., & Worth, R. (2011, October 1). American-Born Qaeda Leader is Killed by U.S. Missile in Yemen. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/world/middleeast/anwar-al-awlaki-is-killed-in-yemen.html

[16] Alston, P. (2010). United Nations Human Rights Council: Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions (Rep. No. A/HRC/14/24/Add.6). Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.24.Add6.pdf

[17] Ibid.

[18] Anwar al-Awlaki. (2012, March 5). The New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2012, from http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/a/anwar_al_awlaki/index.html

[19] Our Work. (n.d.). Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Retrieved March 10, 2012, from http://www.darpa.mil/

[20] Beard, J. M. (2009). Law and War in the Virtual Era. The American Journal of International Law, 103(3), 409-445.
Retrieved September 16, 2011, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40283651. pg. 415.

[21] Singer, P. W. (2009). Robots at War: The New Battlefield. The Wilson Quarterly, 33(1), 30-48. Retrieved October 5, 2011, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/40262238 pg. 35

[22] Alston, P. (2010). United Nations Human Rights Council: Report of the Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions (Rep. No. A/HRC/14/24/Add.6). Retrieved March 17, 2012, from http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/docs/14session/A.HRC.14.24.Add6.pdf

[23] Schornig, N., & Lembcke, A. C. (2006). The Vision of War without Casualties: On the Use of Casualty Aversion in Armament Advertisements. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(2), pg. 205

[24] Samet, E. D. (2005). Leaving No Warriors Behind: The Ancient Roots of a Modern Sensibility. Armed Forces & Society, 31(4), 625. doi: 10.1177/0095327X0503100409

[25] Ibid., p. 643.

[26] Schornig, N., & Lembcke, A. C. (2006). The Vision of War without Casualties: On the Use of Casualty Aversion in Armament Advertisements. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(2), pg. 205.

[27] Ibid., p. 210.

[28] Smith, H. (2005). What Costs Will Democracies Bear? A Review of Popular Theories of Casualty Aversion. Armed Forces & Society, 31(4), 507. doi: 10.1177/0095327X0503100403

[29] Slater, E. (2012, April 30). Yemen: Reported US Covert Actions Since 2001. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved May 5, 2012, from http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/03/29/yemen-reported-us-covert-actions-since-2001/

[30] The ranges are a result of inconsistencies within the data set. For example if one news source states that there were 9 fatalities for a particular strike but local tribesmen argue to have counted 25 bodies, the range is documented as 9-25; a minimum of 9 dead with a potential for the actual dead to have reached 25.

[31] Serle, J. (2012, March 29). Yemen Strikes Visualised. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved May 5, 2012, from http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/03/29/yemen-strikes-visualised/

[32] Woods, C. (2012, March 29). The Civilian Massacre the US neither Confirms nor Denies. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Retrieved May 5, 2012, from http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/03/29/the-civilian-massacre-the-us-will-neither-confirm-nor-deny/

[33] Masters, J. (2012, April 30). Targeted Killings. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved May 6, 2012, from http://www.cfr.org/counterterrorism/targeted-killings/p9627

[34] Paarlberg, R. L. (2004). Knowledge as Power: Science, Military Dominance, and U.S. Security. International Security,
29(1), 122-151. doi: 10.1162/0162288041762959. pg. 126

[35] Miller, G. (2012, April 25). White House Approves Broader Yemen Drone Campaign. Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2012, from http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/white-house-approves-broader-yemen-drone-campaign/2012/04/25/gIQA82U6hT_print.html

[36] World Factbook Yemen. (n.d.). CIA-The World Factbook. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

[37] Ramsbotham, O., Miall, H., & Woodhouse, T. (2011). Chapter 5: Preventing Violent Conflict. In Contemporary Conflict Resolution: The Prevention, Management and Transformation of Deadly Conflicts (pp. 131-132). Cambridge, UK: Polity.

[38] World Factbook Yemen. (n.d.). CIA-The World Factbook. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

[39] Yemen Gets $93 Million Emergency Loan from IMF. (2012, April 5). IMF Survey. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/survey/so/2012/CAR040512A.htm

[40] World Factbook Yemen. (n.d.). CIA-The World Factbook. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/

[41] Ponzio, R. (2011). Democratic Peacebuilding: Aiding Afghanistan and other Fragile States. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pg. 3

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid., p. 35.

[44] Yemen: Amnesty for Saleh and Aides Unlawful. (2012, January 23). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved May 7, 2012, from http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/01/23/yemen-amnesty-saleh-and-aides-unlawful

[45] Almasmari, H. (2011, June 15). US Makes a Drone Attack a Day in Yemen. The National. Retrieved May 6, 2012, from http://www.thenational.ae/news/world/middle-east/us-makes-a-drone-attack-a-day-in-yemen

[46] Smith, T. W. (2002). The New Law of War: Legitimizing Hi-Tech and Infrastructural Violence. International Studies Quarterly, 46(3), 355-374. doi: 10.1111/1468-2478.00237. pg. 368

Post a comment or suggestion about this page or topic...
(If you have a comment or suggestion about the system in general, please post it on our Comments and Suggestions page instead.)

 

Beyond Intractability
Copyright © 2003-2016 The Beyond Intractability Project, The Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado;
All rights reserved. Content may not be reproduced without prior written permission.
Inquire about affordable reprint/republication rights.

Homepage Photo Credits

Beyond Intractability is a Registered Trademark of the University of Colorado
Contact Beyond Intractability
Privacy Policy

The Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base Project
Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess, Co-Directors and Editors

c/o Conflict Information Consortium (Formerly Conflict Research Consortium), University of Colorado
580 UCB, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA -- Phone: (303) 492-1635 -- Contact
University of Colorado Boulder