Washington, Apr 26: The Obama administration has given the Central Intelligence Agency and US military the freedom to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen by allowing them to target fighters whose names aren’t known, but who are deemed to be high-value terrorism targets or threats to America.
The United States gave its forces a greater leeway in response to worries that a new haven is being established in the Islamic nation to mount attacks on the West.
According to some US officials, the White House stopped short of authorizing attacks on groups of lower-level foot soldiers who are battling the Yemeni government, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The US already authorizes drone strikes in Pakistan against those suspected of militant activities, but who haven’t necessarily been identified by name.
According to the paper, the expansion of the drone campaign in Yemen underlines the difficulty the US faces in balancing concerns about Al-Qaeda’s apparently growing foothold in southern Yemen against fears that greater CIA and military involvement could propel the US into another regional conflict.
Yemeni officials said that the US initiated talks about expanding the program there in September, amid the political instability of Yemen’s antiregime uprising.
The talks gained traction after Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi officially took over as head of state, they said.
According to a high-ranking Yemeni intelligence official, the US applied considerable pressure to step up the program, and Yemen’s government insisted on tough limitations, fearing ‘out-of-control’ drone program like the US campaign in Pakistan. (ANI)