Fearful Symmetries

Witness a machine turn coffee into pointless ramblings...

27 December, 2012

No Good Will Towards Yemenis for Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be about gluttony and buying lots of stuff but we also like to make overtures about peace on earth and good will towards men. So much for that. Two drone strikes in Yemen killed at least five people on Christmas Eve. They were carried out by forces led by a Christian and Nobel Peace Prize winner named Barack Obama. The dead were "suspected militants".

Whether these people had links to al-Qaeda remains to be seen. But, as Sudarsan Raghavan noted in the Washington Post the same day as these strikes, "When U.S. drones kill civilians, Yemen’s government tries to conceal it".

A rickety Toyota truck packed with 14 people rumbled down a desert road from the town of Radda, which al-Qaeda militants once controlled. Suddenly a missile hurtled from the sky and flipped the vehicle over.

Chaos. Flames. Corpses. Then, a second missile struck.

Within seconds, 11 of the passengers were dead, including a woman and her 7-year-old daughter. A 12-year-old boy also perished that day, and another man later died from his wounds.

The Yemeni government initially said that those killed were al-Qaeda militants and that its Soviet-era jets had carried out the Sept. 2 attack. But tribal leaders and Yemeni officials would later say that it was an American assault and that all the victims were civilians who lived in a village near Radda, in central Yemen. U.S. officials last week acknowledged for the first time that it was an American strike.

“Their bodies were burning,” recalled Sultan Ahmed Mohammed, 27, who was riding on the hood of the truck and flew headfirst into a sandy expanse. “How could this happen? None of us were al-Qaeda.”

More than three months later, the incident offers a window into the Yemeni government’s efforts to conceal Washington’s mistakes and the unintended consequences of civilian deaths in American air assaults. In this case, the deaths have bolstered the popularity of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network’s Yemen affiliate, which has tried to stage attacks on U.S. soil several times.

Read that again: "the deaths have bolstered the popularity of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula".

Here's a picture from the scene of the crime.

Fortunately I can't discern the four severed heads that rescuers found when they arrived at that hellish scene.

It comes from an article by Letta Tayler at Foreign Policy called "Anatomy of an Air Attack Gone Wrong". In it she describes the devastation wrought by the murders.

The deaths from the September attack have devastated Sabool, a cluster of 120 brick-and-mud homes that residents say has no electricity, no paved roads, no schools, no hospitals, and no jobs apart from khat farming.

"Seven of the victims were breadwinners. Now we have 50 people in our village with no one to care for them," said Awadh, the local sheikh. "Who will raise them? Who will educate them? Who will take care of their needs?"

Sabooli, the farmer whose parents and only sister were killed, said six of his 10 remaining siblings are still too young to fend for themselves. "When I enter our house, my younger brothers still ask, 'Where are my mother, my father, and my sister?'" he said.

About 100 years ago during World War I there was the Christmas truce where soldiers stopped fighting and instead sang carols and exchanged food. Today soldiers go into the office on Christmas Eve, kill some people using a joystick while watching video displays, and then head home to celebrate the holidays. Things have certainly changed.
|| Palmer, 11:32 AM


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