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Yemen Parliament Bans Drone Strikes after US Kills 15 Civilians in Wedding Procession


December 16, 2013
AntiWar.com & The International News & Agence France-Presse & National Yemen News

Yemen's Parliament has called for a ban on US drone strikes after a December 12 attack on a wedding procession killed 11 civilians, leaving bodies charred and blasted beyond recognition. Three more were killed while being taken to Rada city and 11 others were injured. A similar attack in 2012 killed 12 civilians including women and children. Following angry protests, Yemen's government offered the families of the survivors 15 million riyals and 100 guns as compensation.

http://news.antiwar.com/2013/12/15/yemen-parliament-bans-drone-strikes/

Yemen Parliament Bans Drone Strikes
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(December 15, 2013) -- The Yemeni parliament has passed a resolution today banning all strikes by unmanned aerial drones. The new law says the strikes needed to be banned to maintain the sovereignty of Yemeni air space.

The resolution came amid major protests by victims of last week's US drone strike, which killed at least 15 civilians in a wedding procession. President Hadi's government issued a statement saying that the strike meant to hit an "al-Qaeda leader," but made no mention of the victims.

The Yemeni government did announce "compensation" for the victims of the attack, however, paying them $150,000 and providing the family with 100 guns.

The US has yet to address the ban on drone strikes officially, but did launch another strike against a car in Hadramaut Province over the weekend, suggesting they don't plan to abide by it.



Yemen Parliament Bans Drone Attacks
The International News & Agence France-Presse

SANAA (December 16, 2013) -- Yemen's parliament passed on Sunday a law banning drone strikes, Saba news agency said, days after one such attack reportedly hit a wedding motorcade and killed civilians.

"Lawmakers have voted to ban drone strikes in Yemen," Saba reported after a parliamentary meeting.

The US military operates all unmanned aircraft flying over Yemen in support of Sana's campaign against Al-Qaeda, and has killed dozens of militants in an intensified campaign this year.

Saba said lawmakers Sunday stressed "the importance of protecting all citizens from any aggression" and "the importance of preserving the sovereignty of Yemeni air space."

On Thursday a drone attack in Rada, in the central province of Bayda, killed 17 people, mostly civilians, in a wedding motorcade, triggering protests in the impoverished Arabian peninsula country.

The Supreme Security Committee, headed by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi, issued a statement Friday insisting that the strike had targeted a car belonging to a leader of Al-Qaeda.

In the car "were top leaders who plotted several terrorist attacks against the armed forces, police, civilians and vital government installations," it said.

The statement did not give a death toll for the strike, nor refer to any civilian casualties or acknowledge that the attack was launched by a US drone.

Security sources and witnesses said two missiles were fired, and that mostly civilians had died.

Amnesty International said confusion over who was behind the raid "exposes a serious lack of accountability for scores of civilian deaths in the country."

"Even if it turns out that this was a case of killing based on mistaken identity or dodgy intelligence, whoever was responsible needs to own up to the error and come clean about what happened in this incident," said Philip Luther, Amnesty?s Middle East and North Africa director.

Relatives of the dead staged protests to denounce the killings and demanded an official apology as well as compensation.

Hundreds of people also blocked the road between Rada and Sanaa at Friday's funeral of 13 people but reopened a day later after reaching agreement on compensation with local military authorities.

"If the government fails to stop American planes from… bombing the people of Yemen, then it has no rule over us," tribal chief Ahmad al-Salmani told AFP on Saturday.

Two of the dead whose names were released -- Saleh al-Tays and Abdullah al-Tays -- had figured in the past on Yemeni government lists of wanted Al-Qaeda suspects.

But most of those killed were civilians of the Al-Tays and Al-Ameri -- which are part of the large and heavily armed Qayfah tribe.

Yemen is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden and the home base of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which the United States views as the global jihadist network's most dangerous franchise.(AFP)


32 Million YR and 100 Guns
Given as Compensation to Victims'
Families of the Drone in Qaifah

National Yemen Team

SAANA (December 15, 2013) -- Yemeni authorities offered 32 million YR and 100 guns as compensation to victims' families as a result of Air raid that took place in Qaifah in the al-Baida governorate, leaving 25 killed and wounded last Thursday.

The announcement came hours after a source's announcement of High Security Committee that the air raid was aimed at a car belonging to one of al-Qaeda's leaders with a number of al-Qaeda's members inside it.

Those members are considered among the most dangerous leaders behind recent terrorist operations targeting men in the armed and security forces, citizens, installations and the vital interests of the country, according to the source. Local sources, however, have denied that those targets were among the victims.

The compensation is being offered following an airstrike that took place on 12 December on a wedding procession in Qaifah, leading to the death of 15. Eleven of this number were killed immediately, their bodies charred and torn into pieces beyond recognition. Three were killed while being taken to Rada city. Eleven others were injured and also taken to Rada city, among them Sheikhs of the al-Awamer and al-Taues tribes, Sheikh Abdullah al-Tesai and Sheikh Ali Abdullah al-Ameri.

The compensation for the victims' families was offered after the intervention of tribal mediation. The mediation team consisted of Sheikhs from Rada after dozens of gunmen from the Qaifah tribes entered Rada city carrying bodies of those killed in the strike. The gunmen met near Rada's primary Court, then blockaded the main street, forcing shop owners to close their shops as well.

The Mediation Committee was led by Sheikh Mohammed Nasser al-Thaiev, Sheikh Ali Saleh al-Tiri, Sheikh Qaúd al-htam, Sheikh Salim Sarhani, and Sheikh Zabin Allah Krish. They convinced victims' families to open the street and bury the victims after giving them two cars, two janbya and two Kalashnikov pieces, the common "blood price" in tribal tradition in order to open the street, bury the victims, and give a chance to a mediation committee to contact concerned parties in the state.

On 13 December, 11 victims were buried in Rada Cemetery while four of the victims were buried in Yecla region.

On the same day, the mediation committee traveled to Sana'a to meet with a number of officials, returning the next morning to Rada city with al-Bayda governor Shaddadi and Commander of the Seventh Military Region Major General Ali Mohsen Muthanna to deliver the arbitration result to victims' families.

A member of the mediation committee, Sheikh Mohammed Nasser al-Thaiev, explained to Mareb Press that victims' families agreed to the State's arbitration, which provided 100 guns for dead people's families and 32 million YR for both dead and wounded, two million for each dead person and ten thousand each for wounded people.

The arbitration was submitted through a meeting held on Saturday afternoon, 14December. The meeting included al-Bayda governor Shaddadi, the Commander of the Seventh Military Region, Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen Muthanna, the mediation committee and victims' families who are from al-tayus and Amer tribes in Qaifah area.

The victims' families accepted the arbitration, also demanding an end to flyovers in Kifah airspace, saying that it's not the first time in which innocent victims have died in an airstrike. Governor Shaddadi and the Commander of the Seventh Region joined their voice to the voice of the victims' families, demanding to transfer this request to higher authorities.

Through the meeting, Governor Shaddadi and the Commander of the Seventh Region expressed their deep regret for losing innocent lives in the air raid that targeted the wedding procession last Thursday, emphasizing their solidarity with victims' families.

The governor Shaddadi said to victims' families that "we came to you as comforters and arbitrators to convey condolences represented by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

He recalled in his remarks the honorable attitudes of Qaifah's people through the history, calling them to preserve their oriental history by refusing any actions outside of the law or system. Shaddadi added that the security forces would not stand handcuffed in front of the abusers for the security and stability of the region.

Commander of the Seventh Region Muthanna praised the efforts of the mediation committee and Sheikh Mohammed Nasser al-Thaiev, Sheikh Ali Saleh al-Tiri, Sheikh Qaúd al-htam, Sheikh Salim Sarhani, and Sheikh Zabin Allah Krish at its head. Muthanna spoke to the victims' families, as well, saying, "we came to you as supporters and with deep sadness for what happened."

In the Mediation Committee, a tribal source emphasized the withdrawal of the armed protesters from Rada's main street after receiving the arbitration, while a number of gunmen refused to withdraw and continued to block the street. This led to clashes and damage to the security point commander's car, and then machine gun exchange between soldiers and Rada gunmen. The fighting stopped yesterday.

Hundreds of tribal gunmen flocked to Rada city on Friday morning, carrying personal weapons, machine guns, RPG missiles, and other medium-weapons. They then closed the road leading to the door of the government complex in the center of the city as well as the road leading to the headquarters of the public security and special security forces, or "the former central security."

Protesters lifted slogans and banners decrying the intervention of the US in Yemen through air raids that target innocent civilians, pointing out that this was not the first attack in which innocent civilians victims were killed in the region.

A similar incident took place in September of last year, when a drone targeted a civilian car from al-Sabol in Kifah and more than 12 civilians, including women and children were killed. The victim's families of that attack were given 15 million riyals and 100 guns as compensation.


Voicing the People's Anger, Yemen Parliament Calls for Drone Ban
Latest attack on wedding party, that left many civilians dead, shows destabilizing impact of US campaign

Jon Queally / Common Dreams

(December 16, 2013) -- In its most assertive rebuke yet to its own president and the U.S. government, the Yemen Parliament on Sunday demanded an end to U.S. drone bombings in the country just days after a missile strike on a wedding party killed at least fifteen people and left many more wounded.

"Members of parliament voted to stop what drones are doing in Yemeni airspace, stressing the importance of preserving innocent civilian lives against any attack and maintaining Yemeni sovereignty," the state news agency SABA reported.
Though the nearly unanimous vote is considered "non-binding" under Yemeni law, a government official told CNN that the legislative move should be seen as "a strong warning" to Yemeni President Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

"The Yemeni public is angered by the drone strikes," said the official, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to talk to reporters. "The people's representatives reflected on the tone of the streets."
Anti-drone activists in Yemen and abroad have been joined by foreign policy experts who all agree that the U.S. drone campaign in the country is have a counter-productive and destabilizing effect.

The US government has so far refused to comment on the attack or take responsibility for the civilians killed, though a statement by the Hadi's Supreme Security Committee said the bombing targeted al-Qaeda leadership.

As Agence France-Presse reports:
In the car "were top leaders who plotted several terrorist attacks against the armed forces, police, civilians and vital government installations," it said.

The statement did not give a death toll for the strike, nor refer to any civilian casualties or acknowledge that the attack was launched by a US drone.

Security sources and witnesses said two missiles were fired, and that mostly civilians had died.

Amnesty International said confusion over who was behind the raid "exposes a serious lack of accountability for scores of civilian deaths in the country."

"Even if it turns out that this was a case of killing based on mistaken identity or dodgy intelligence, whoever was responsible needs to own up to the error and come clean about what happened in this incident," said Philip Luther, Amnesty?s Middle East and North Africa director.

Relatives of the dead staged protests to denounce the killings and demanded an official apology as well as compensation.

Hundreds of people also blocked the road between Rada and Sanaa at Friday's funeral of 13 people but reopened a day later after reaching agreement on compensation with local military authorities.

"If the government fails to stop American planes from... bombing the people of Yemen, then it has no rule over us," tribal chief Ahmad al-Salmani told AFP on Saturday.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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