But U.S. officials may have a hard time selling the concept to the Yemeni government in Sanaa, where reports of the potential use of drones has already touched off controversy.
Drones would be a “nonstarter,” Yemen’s ambassador to the United Nations told the AP earlier this year.
“To even posit this theory about U.S. drones only builds support for radicalization,” Abdullah al-Saidi said at the time. “Yemen will not allow it.”
Meantime, Amnesty International criticized (JURIST) methods used by the government of Yemen in counter-terror operations as violations of human rights. In a report, “Yemen: Cracking Down Under Pressure,” the rights group accused the government of perpetrating numerous human right abuses in attempting to quell the rebel movements of the Zaidi Shi’a in the north and the Southern Movement, in addition to its US-sponsored actions against al Qaeda.
These alleged abuses include arbitrary arrests, torture, extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances (already denounced in 2008 by Human Rights Watch), among other actions taken by security forces. These forces, according to AI, are accountable only to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The report also cited the rising number of executions in the country after convictions for links to al Qaeda or the rebel movements. AI also pointed to the actions of the US and Saudi Arabia in promoting these actions by Yemeni authorities following the attempted bombing of Northwest Airlines Flight 253 in December.
AI went on to criticize the role of the special counter-terrorism courts that have been used by Yemeni authorities to convict journalists and opposition figures critical of the government.