June 14, 2011
The CIA is operating drones over Yemen’s mountainous south where Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has had a virtual free hand since the civil war began in that country 2 months ago. As President Saleh has withdrawn troops who were fighting the terrorists to urban areas where they are used to quash the revolt, AQAP has been free to set up camps and training sites for their growing terrorist army.
In response, the CIA, who was assisting the army in flying unarmed drones in the region, will now apparently us armed Predators to conduct operations against the terrorists.
U.S. officials said the CIA would operate alongside, and in close coordination with, the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command, which has been flying Predators and other remotely piloted planes over Yemen for much of the past year.
Because it operates under different legal authorities than the military, the CIA may have greater latitude to carry out strikes if the political climate shifts in Yemen and cooperation with American forces is diminished or cut off.
The expanded drone campaign will make use of “a mix of U.S. assets,” said a U.S. official familiar with the plan. “It’s not like you’re going to have a change of command ceremony that goes from U.S. military to CIA.”
The new tasking for the agency marks a major escalation of the clandestine American war in Yemen, as well as a substantial expansion of the CIA’s drone war.
This basically makes it war #4 – #5 if you count Pakistan as a seperate conflict from Afghanistan. I think this means that Obama will not be in the running for a two-peat on the Peace Prize.