More Drones in Yemen
Last week, following a Mareb Press story, I wrote a bit about the possibility of US drones patrolling the skies over Marib looking for AQAP members
The story, it seems, has legs. One of my favorite Yemeni reporters and a good friend, Muhammad al-Ahmadi, had a lengthy story in al-Ghad yesterday on the drones. He quotes a source close to al-Qaeda – which appears to be Ghalib al-Zayidi – as saying that AQAP is aware of the development and is taking appropriate steps to avoid a repeat of Abu ‘Ali al-Harithi’s fate.
(Al-Zayidi is an intriguing case, and while he himself has denied being a member of al-Qaeda, he even goes so far as to publicly criticize al-Wahayshi and al-Raymi in previous interviews, he certainly keeps in contact with the group and espouses some of the same goals and, most importantly, for al-Ahmadi’s story, he is in the same tribal region as the one many of the drones seem to be focused on. I hate to be so cryptic and vague, but al-Zayidi’s case is one that I have written about extensively in a project that is not yet ready for publication, so I have to restrain myself from revealing too much pre-publication.)
Unlike much of the reporting that one sees in the Arabic press, al-Ahmadi does an excellent job placing the drone story in context. He talks about the difference between the drones currently rumored to be overhead in Marib and those mini-drones that were used by the US to monitor pirates in the Gulf of Aden. He also traces the re-appearance of drones in Marib to two visits by US commanders in recent months. The groundwork, he suggests, was done by General Petraeus in his July visit while the agreement – if there was one – was done in October during a visit by Vice Admiral William McRaven of US Joint Special Operations Command.
The whole story is well worth your time.