Political Analysis

US drones driving Yemenis into al-Qaeda arms: Reprieve

Legal action charity Reprieve says US assassination drone strikes in Yemen are illegal under international law and they are driving people into the arms of al-Qaeda,Press TV reports.

The UK-based charity, which also has organizations in the United States, Australia and the Netherlands, organized an event in the Yemeni capital Sana’a on Tuesday to highlight the effects of the US drone policy.

Several human rights activists and campaigners attended the gathering.

Reprieve legal director Kat Craig censured the administration of US President Barack Obama for continuing the illegitimate terror drone program, saying it is fuelling extremism and terrorism in the country.

“We are finding from the evidence what we are gathering that many civilians have been killed and that the strikes are counter-productive. They drive people into the arms of al-Qaeda. So we hope to use this evidence through the courts through parliament and through media in the West to tell the story of (the sufferings of) the Yemeni people,” Craig told Press TV.

“And through law and through political pressure we hope that in due course the drone strikes would end,” she added.

The activists also condemned the Yemeni government for not strongly opposing the controversial drone program, which has reportedly killed hundreds of innocent people this year.

Baraa Shiban, who is a member of Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference, Reprieve’s Yemen project coordinator and works to investigate US drone strikes in Yemen, called on the upcoming Yemeni government to protect its people from the drone attacks.

On Friday, Yemenis took to the streets of a northern town to denounce the US and Israel for interfering in the country.

They also expressed anger over assassination drone attacks by the US inside the country.

The US has come under fire for increasing its drone attacks in Yemen, where the people have held many demonstrations to condemn the violation of their national sovereignty.

Washington claims it is targeting militants but witness reports and figures provided by local officials indicate that civilians are the main victims of the attacks.

In last week’s rally, the demonstrators also chanted slogans against the Yemeni government.

“People demand the fall of the regime,” shouted the protesters.

Yemenis have been staging anti-regime demonstrations since the revolution that erupted in early 2011.

Yemeni ousted dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh handed power to Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, a UK-trained field marshal, under a power transfer deal backed by the US and Saudi Arabia. The deal also granted immunity from prosecution to Saleh and his close affiliates.

GJH/MHB/MAM