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US drones force local residents to stay home

Strikes expose government weakness, analyst says

Image Credit: Reuters
The Predator drone relies on sensors and Hellfire missiles. It has seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq
Gulf News

Seiyun: The spiralling airstrikes by US drones and Yemen warplanes have created a widespread panic in the south-eastern province of Hadramout, local residents told Gulf News.

In the last two weeks, warplanes carried out many strikes, killing many Al Qaida militants .

“In the past, we used to go to mountains in a caravan during Eid and other occasions. We take our guns and food and spend days there. When the US drones began striking in Hadramout, we stopped going on picnics in mountains, fearing that they may hit us. Some even have stopped going on a stroll,” a taxi driver told Gulf News. “I stopped my brother from going with his friends to on an excursion to mountains. US drones may target them.” another man said.

Brigade Fahmi Mahroos, chief security officers of Hadramout province, told Gulf News that there are some elements of Al Qaida in the large province. The security official believes that the terrorist elements are unable to control the province.

“We have a great trust in people of Hadramout who will not drag their cities into a situation similar to what happened in Abyan. We have also taken precautionary measures to protect the province from Al Qaida,” he said.

Saeed Obaid Al Jumahi, leading Al Qaida analyst, believes the Yemeni government is resorting to using airstrikes as it is not capable to fight Al Qaida militants on the ground.

“We must admit that the state is unable to end its war against Al Qaida and using airstrikes, which are mostly carried by US drones, is an example of the state’s inability and weakness.”

In assessing the pros and cons of airstrikes on militants, Saeed maintains drone attacks have many disadvantages.

“Airstrikes have a limited success on ground and cause public resentment and deep anger which falls in the interests of Al Qaida. The airstrikes by US drones allows Al Qaida to justify their war as a crusade war against Muslims which helps them to expand and attract enthusiastic youngsters.”