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Cassandra’s legacy: Post peak countries: the collapse of Yemen

Cassandra’s legacy: Post peak countries: the collapse of Yemen.

Image from “Our Finite World

When I saw for the first time the data about oil production in Yemen, I was so impressed that I wanted to know more. I found a news source in English – the “Yemen Times” and I placed the link in my feed. For several months, by now, I have been reading the news from a place where I have never been and, probably, will never go, but that I find incredibly fascinating.

The stories in the Yemen Times read as a tragedy written by Shakespeare: for a taste of this feeling, you may read the article titled “Carrying out a death sentence,” but it is just an example of a never ending series of disasters taking place in the country, which include some 4000 people murdered every year, including a fewtaken as target by American drones flying over the country.

Surely, not everything that’s taking place in Yemen is to be attributed straight to crude oil but, surely, with oil production now crossing consumption, with the government getting about 70% of its revenues from oil, and with Yemen producing very little that can be exported apart from the “Qat” drug, then some kind of disaster is to be expected. And consider that population continues to grow: Yemen has now about 25 million people (and 50 million guns).

What is perhaps most startling of the news that you read on the “Yemen Times” is that crude oil is rarely mentioned – except to say that everything is fine and production will soon increase. It seems that the real reason of collapse must remain hidden from those who are experiencing it. Yemen, surely, is not the only case.

Although oil depletion is rarely mentioned in the Yemen Times, sometimes it is and recently an article appeared that does mention oil; actually, barely mentioning it but at least providing a merciless analysis of the Yemen situation. Qais Ghanem defines the future of Yemen as “bleak”, and correctly so. But it is not just about Yemen’s future: living in post peak countries seems to be bleak everywhere.

Yemen’s future looking very bleak

Published on 27 February 2014 in Opinion
Qais Ghanem (author)
Why such a pessimistic headline? Why not speak about hope in order to encourage people in near despair? It is because the situation is dire, and an author has a duty to describe the situation as he or she sees it. Even more so as urgent action is required, if a disaster of monumental proportions is to be avoided.

Multiple disasters are looming for Yemen.

One that is rapidly approaching is that of water shortage. Already, the per capita water availability in Yemen is the lowest in the world. A 2005 study by Al Asbahi estimated the total annual water requirements of Yemen to be 3.4 billion cubic metres. At the same time renewable sources, such as rain, can provide up to 2.5 billion cubic metres. There is, therefore, a deficit of 0.9 billion cubic metres, which has to come from the aquifers deep underground, which are progressively depleting, and may run dry by the time US President Barack Obama finishes his term, and starts writing his autobiography! We know this because wells have to be dug deeper and deeper, many as deep as half a kilometre.

The mismanagement of water resources is shocking. Due to a lack of maintenance, loss from leaking pipes can be as much as 60 per cent. Contamination of water, by sewage seeping into the ground, is difficult to measure but significant. Wasteful flood irrigation is the norm in Yemen, whereas drip irrigation would be 50 per cent more efficient.

As expected, agriculture uses 90 per cent of the available water, but half of that is squandered on growing qat, the infamous mild stimulant of Yemen and the countries of the Horn of Africa, which have a per capita GDP of under $1,000 (Dh3,673), the lowest in the world.

Yemeni farmers grow qat because it sells and has profits that are at least five times higher than other crops. In July 2013, Foreign Affairs website published an article titled ‘How Yemen Chewed Itself Dry’.

Yemen has the occasional floods caused by heavy rains, as happened in 2010. But it does not have the dams or expertise to save such huge quantities of water—for a non-rainy day!

Unlike some countries in the Gulf region, Yemen can neither afford the cost of desalination nor of pumping water uphill from the Red Sea level to the mountains of the capital. Sana’a’s current population of two million is projected to reach four million in a decade.

The consequences are predictably serious. First, food production will suffer, and food prices will skyrocket. When farmlands run out of water, the animals also die of hunger and tourists stop coming. When poverty reaches a critical level, neighbours begin to fight over water resources. In a country that has 25 million people and 50 million guns, civil war is just waiting to erupt. Even today, an estimated 4,000 people are killed every year in disputes over land—many more than the victims of terrorism or drones.

It is not only water that is steadily depleting—oil is too. Foreign aid is very unpredictable, and comes with strings attached, such as a carte blanche to assassinate Yemenis with Obama’s drones.

The prospects are even worse when we factor in the fertility rate in Yemen, one of the highest in the world. Last week, I attended a one-day conference on Yemen at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, where I learned that there would be a huge increase in the teen population over the next 15 years.

Ordinarily, that would be an encouraging development. Not in this case, as these youngsters will be unemployed but will be well-versed in social media, and therefore well connected and presumably well informed — the requirements for riots and revolution.

So, if these dire predictions above are correct, what should Yemenis do?

I would respectfully suggest to my kith and kin that they first and foremost realise that the solution needs to come from them. The international community will only take feeble, temporary and strings-attached actions.

Second, Yemenis must find a way to ban qat. There! I said it! There will be many who might say that I have lost my mind. It won’t be easy. It will require an intensive and extensive educational pan-Yemen campaign, like the one mounted against smoking, and it will need to be a gradual one—over five years.

Yemenis should be watching numerous daily TV ads about how to help themselves, instead of wasting time watching the contrived comings and goings of the president.

Fortunately, qat is not an addictive drug, because it does not cause classic withdrawal symptoms. Many Yemenis who moved to GCC countries abandoned qat and are now very prosperous. Water, thus saved, could be used for human consumption, as well as for tourism and for the growing of vegetables and fruits. Farm animals should then thrive.

If Yemenis are not willing to do that, then let them stop complaining about thirst, diarrheal and liver diseases and ulcers, poverty, the absence of a modern state, and corruption. Let them also stop seeking handouts. It is ironic that the Kingdom of Sheba established its prosperity with the construction of the Mareb dam — 3,000 years ago.

Dr Qais Ghanem is a retired neurologist, radio show host, poet and author. His novels are ‘Final Flight From Sana’a’ and ‘Two Boys from Aden College’. His latest co-authored non-fiction work is ‘My Arab Spring My Canada’ (Amazon.com) and his combined English/Arabic poetry book is ‘From Left to Right’. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/@QaisGhanem

 

Cassandra's legacy: Post peak countries: the collapse of Yemen

Cassandra’s legacy: Post peak countries: the collapse of Yemen.

Image from “Our Finite World

When I saw for the first time the data about oil production in Yemen, I was so impressed that I wanted to know more. I found a news source in English – the “Yemen Times” and I placed the link in my feed. For several months, by now, I have been reading the news from a place where I have never been and, probably, will never go, but that I find incredibly fascinating.

The stories in the Yemen Times read as a tragedy written by Shakespeare: for a taste of this feeling, you may read the article titled “Carrying out a death sentence,” but it is just an example of a never ending series of disasters taking place in the country, which include some 4000 people murdered every year, including a fewtaken as target by American drones flying over the country.

Surely, not everything that’s taking place in Yemen is to be attributed straight to crude oil but, surely, with oil production now crossing consumption, with the government getting about 70% of its revenues from oil, and with Yemen producing very little that can be exported apart from the “Qat” drug, then some kind of disaster is to be expected. And consider that population continues to grow: Yemen has now about 25 million people (and 50 million guns).

What is perhaps most startling of the news that you read on the “Yemen Times” is that crude oil is rarely mentioned – except to say that everything is fine and production will soon increase. It seems that the real reason of collapse must remain hidden from those who are experiencing it. Yemen, surely, is not the only case.

Although oil depletion is rarely mentioned in the Yemen Times, sometimes it is and recently an article appeared that does mention oil; actually, barely mentioning it but at least providing a merciless analysis of the Yemen situation. Qais Ghanem defines the future of Yemen as “bleak”, and correctly so. But it is not just about Yemen’s future: living in post peak countries seems to be bleak everywhere.

Yemen’s future looking very bleak

Published on 27 February 2014 in Opinion
Qais Ghanem (author)
Why such a pessimistic headline? Why not speak about hope in order to encourage people in near despair? It is because the situation is dire, and an author has a duty to describe the situation as he or she sees it. Even more so as urgent action is required, if a disaster of monumental proportions is to be avoided.

Multiple disasters are looming for Yemen.

One that is rapidly approaching is that of water shortage. Already, the per capita water availability in Yemen is the lowest in the world. A 2005 study by Al Asbahi estimated the total annual water requirements of Yemen to be 3.4 billion cubic metres. At the same time renewable sources, such as rain, can provide up to 2.5 billion cubic metres. There is, therefore, a deficit of 0.9 billion cubic metres, which has to come from the aquifers deep underground, which are progressively depleting, and may run dry by the time US President Barack Obama finishes his term, and starts writing his autobiography! We know this because wells have to be dug deeper and deeper, many as deep as half a kilometre.

The mismanagement of water resources is shocking. Due to a lack of maintenance, loss from leaking pipes can be as much as 60 per cent. Contamination of water, by sewage seeping into the ground, is difficult to measure but significant. Wasteful flood irrigation is the norm in Yemen, whereas drip irrigation would be 50 per cent more efficient.

As expected, agriculture uses 90 per cent of the available water, but half of that is squandered on growing qat, the infamous mild stimulant of Yemen and the countries of the Horn of Africa, which have a per capita GDP of under $1,000 (Dh3,673), the lowest in the world.

Yemeni farmers grow qat because it sells and has profits that are at least five times higher than other crops. In July 2013, Foreign Affairs website published an article titled ‘How Yemen Chewed Itself Dry’.

Yemen has the occasional floods caused by heavy rains, as happened in 2010. But it does not have the dams or expertise to save such huge quantities of water—for a non-rainy day!

Unlike some countries in the Gulf region, Yemen can neither afford the cost of desalination nor of pumping water uphill from the Red Sea level to the mountains of the capital. Sana’a’s current population of two million is projected to reach four million in a decade.

The consequences are predictably serious. First, food production will suffer, and food prices will skyrocket. When farmlands run out of water, the animals also die of hunger and tourists stop coming. When poverty reaches a critical level, neighbours begin to fight over water resources. In a country that has 25 million people and 50 million guns, civil war is just waiting to erupt. Even today, an estimated 4,000 people are killed every year in disputes over land—many more than the victims of terrorism or drones.

It is not only water that is steadily depleting—oil is too. Foreign aid is very unpredictable, and comes with strings attached, such as a carte blanche to assassinate Yemenis with Obama’s drones.

The prospects are even worse when we factor in the fertility rate in Yemen, one of the highest in the world. Last week, I attended a one-day conference on Yemen at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, where I learned that there would be a huge increase in the teen population over the next 15 years.

Ordinarily, that would be an encouraging development. Not in this case, as these youngsters will be unemployed but will be well-versed in social media, and therefore well connected and presumably well informed — the requirements for riots and revolution.

So, if these dire predictions above are correct, what should Yemenis do?

I would respectfully suggest to my kith and kin that they first and foremost realise that the solution needs to come from them. The international community will only take feeble, temporary and strings-attached actions.

Second, Yemenis must find a way to ban qat. There! I said it! There will be many who might say that I have lost my mind. It won’t be easy. It will require an intensive and extensive educational pan-Yemen campaign, like the one mounted against smoking, and it will need to be a gradual one—over five years.

Yemenis should be watching numerous daily TV ads about how to help themselves, instead of wasting time watching the contrived comings and goings of the president.

Fortunately, qat is not an addictive drug, because it does not cause classic withdrawal symptoms. Many Yemenis who moved to GCC countries abandoned qat and are now very prosperous. Water, thus saved, could be used for human consumption, as well as for tourism and for the growing of vegetables and fruits. Farm animals should then thrive.

If Yemenis are not willing to do that, then let them stop complaining about thirst, diarrheal and liver diseases and ulcers, poverty, the absence of a modern state, and corruption. Let them also stop seeking handouts. It is ironic that the Kingdom of Sheba established its prosperity with the construction of the Mareb dam — 3,000 years ago.

Dr Qais Ghanem is a retired neurologist, radio show host, poet and author. His novels are ‘Final Flight From Sana’a’ and ‘Two Boys from Aden College’. His latest co-authored non-fiction work is ‘My Arab Spring My Canada’ (Amazon.com) and his combined English/Arabic poetry book is ‘From Left to Right’. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/@QaisGhanem

 

Sleepwalking Again – PaulCraigRoberts.org

Sleepwalking Again – PaulCraigRoberts.org.

February 22, 2014Paul Craig Roberts

On the 100th Anniversary of World War 1, the Western powers are again sleepwalking into destructive conflict. Hegemonic ambition has Washington interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine, but developments seem to be moving beyond Washington’s control.

Regime change in Ukraine for a mere $5 billion dollars would be a bargain compared to the massive sums squandered in Iraq ($3,000 billion), Afghanistan ($3,000 billion), Somalia, and Libya, or the money Washington is wasting murdering people with drones in Pakistan and Yemen, or the money Washington has spent supporting al Qaeda in Syria, or the massive sums Washington has wasted surrounding Iran with 40 military bases and several fleets in the Persian Gulf in an effort to terrorize Iran into submission.

So far, in Washington’s attempt at regime change in Ukraine large numbers of Americans are not being killed and maimed. Only Ukrainians are dying, all the better for Washington as the deaths are blamed on the Ukrainian government that the US has targeted for overthrow.

The problem with Washington’s plot to overthrow the elected government of Ukraine and install its minions is twofold: The chosen US puppets have lost control of the protests to armed radical elements with historical links to nazism, and Russia regards an EU/NATO takeover of Ukraine as a strategic threat to Russian independence.

Washington overlooked that the financially viable part of today’s Ukraine consists of historical Russian provinces in the east and south that the Soviet leadership merged into Ukraine in order to dilute the fascist elements in western Ukraine that fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union. It is these ultra-nationalist elements with nazi roots, not Washington’s chosen puppets, who are now in charge of the armed rebellion in Western Ukraine.

If the democratically elected Ukraine government is overthrown, the eastern and southern parts would rejoin Russia. The western part would be looted by Western bankers and corporations, and the NATO Ukraine bases would be targeted by Russian Iskander missiles.

It would be a defeat for Washington and their gullible Ukrainian dupes to see half of the country return to Russia. To save face, Washington might provoke a great power confrontation, which could be the end of all of us.

My series of articles on the situation in Ukraine resulted in a number of interviews from Canada to Russia, with more scheduled. It also produced emotional rants from people of Ukrainian descent whose delusions are impenetrable by facts. Deranged Russophobes dismissed as propaganda the easily verifiable report of Assistant Secretary of State Nuland’s public address last December, in which she boasted that Washington had spent $5 billion preparing Ukraine to be aligned with Washington’s interests. Protest sympathizers claim that the intercepted telephone call between Nuland and the US Ambassador in Ukraine, in which the two US officials chose the government that would be installed following the coup, is a fake.

One person actually suggested that my position should be aligned with the “sincerity of the Kiev students,” not with the facts.

Some Trekkers and Trekkies were more concerned that I used an improper title for Spock than they were with the prospect of great power confrontation. The point of my article flew off into space and missed planet Earth.

Spock’s mental powers were the best weapon that Starship Enterprise had. Among my graduate school friends, Spock was known as Dr. Spock, because he was the cool, calm, and unemotional member of the crew who could diagnose the problem and save the situation.

There are no Spocks in the US or any Western government and certainly not among the Ukrainian protesters.

I have often wondered if Spock’s Vulcan ancestry was Gene Roddenberry’s way of underlining by contrast the fragility of human reason. In the context of modern military technology, is it possible for life to survive humanity’s penchant for emotion to trump reason and for self-delusion to prevail over factual reality?

The risk of reporting US drone strikes – Features – Al Jazeera English

The risk of reporting US drone strikes – Features – Al Jazeera English.

Yemen researcher says he received a death threat after investigating deadly wedding-convoy attack.

 Last updated: 12 Feb 2014 14:17

A photo of alleged victims killed in a December 12, 2013 drone strike in central Yemen [Reprieve]
The disturbing phone call came after Baraa Shiban investigated a drone strike on a wedding party that killed 12 people in central Yemen in December. A clear message was delivered to the human rights researcher over the phone after a major news network reported the story based on his research.

“The caller refused to identify himself and threatened my life if I continued my investigation of the strike,” Shiban told Al Jazeera, noting he conducted similar studies of US drone operations in the past, but had never before received death threats.

Shiban works for the UK-based human rights group Reprieve and interviewed survivors two days after the attack. His investigation ascertained that 12 people were killed after four missiles were fired at the convoy. There were also 14 victims with severe wounds; some lost limbs, others their eyes.

Along with the eyewitness testimony, Shiban gained access to video and still images of the alleged victims of the drone strike. Photos of the aftermath of drone attacks – whether in the tribal regions of Pakistan, or in the deserts of Yemen – are rarely captured. Most occur in obscure regions with hostile terrain, making access difficult for journalists and activists.

I was in the front car and I heard a huge explosion. I went out to see what happened and suddenly another two missiles hit the place. Everyone in the car behind us got killed.

– Mohammed Abdullah al-Taisi,drone victim

 

On December 12, 2013 , about 60 people were traveling in a convoy to attend the wedding near the city of Radda, in Yemen’s central province of al-Bayda. At about 4:30pm, the drivers halted the vehicles when they heard an aircraft approach.

“I was in the front car and I heard a huge explosion,” recalled victim Mohammed Abdullah al-Taisi. “I went out to see what happened and suddenly another two missiles hit the place. Everyone in the car behind us got killed.”

Equipped with the evidence Shiban went to the media, and a day later he received the call threatening his life.

“Just because the people were in a convoy of trucks, they were assumed to be militants and the decision was made to target them,” he said. “The people who died were shepherds and farmers. There was clearly a wedding party.”

Fear and anger

Drones piloted by the CIA and the Pentagon have operated in Yemen since 2002, killing hundreds of people – mostly members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but also dozens of civilians.

Peter Schaapveld is psychologist who traveled to Yemen to study the programme’s effects. He told British members of parliament in March 2013 that the constant presence of drones in the skies was causing a “psychological emergency” in the country.

“What I saw in Yemen was deeply disturbing,” Schaapveld said . “Entire communities – including young children who are the next generation of Yemenis – are being traumatised and re-traumatised by drones. Not only is this having truly awful immediate effects, but the psychological damage done will outlast any counter programme and surely outweigh any possible benefits.”

Reports of the missile strike, on a seemingly innocent wedding party, have infuriated nearly every sphere of Yemeni society, including many of the country’s top politicians.

Family members of drone strike victim Aref al-Shafee [Abubakr al-Shamahi/Reprieve] 

“The fact that the Yemeni parliament has just passed a resolution banning drones in Yemeni airspace, and that the National Dialogue has criminalised the use of drones for extrajudicial killing, demonstrates that a national consensus has been reached that these brutal and unlawful attacks are unacceptable,” Shiban said.

Reprieve said the US government is now investigating the strike in Radda following Shiban’s work. The human rights group said the Defense Department was targeting Shawqi Ali Ahmed al-Badani , whom the White House accused of organising a bomb plot that led to 19 US embassies being closed last year.

‘US values and policy’

Caitlan Hayden, a spokeswoman for the US National Security Council, noted that Yemen’s government had stated the targets of the operation were “dangerous” senior al-Qaeda figures. She said she couldn’t comment on this specific attack.

“We take extraordinary care to make sure that our counterterrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable domestic and international law and that they are consistent with US values and policy … And when we believe that civilians may have been killed, we investigate thoroughly,” Hayden told Al Jazeera .

But one survivor of the December drone attack, Salam al-Taisi, insisted no one from the wedding party was involved in terrorism. “None of the victims had anything to do with al-Qaeda or any other group. They were all from the area and all were poor villagers,” he said.

The deaths in Baydah have more resonance considering President Barrack Obama’s announcement upholding the “highest standard” when conducting operations using unmanned aerial vehicles.

“Before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured,” Obama said in a speech at the National Defense University on May 23, 2013.

Yemen’s security forces have also scrutinised Shiban’s work on the US drone programme. But it’s not just the Yemeni police that have shown interest in him.

Baraa Shiban from human rights group Reprieve [Al Jazeera]

On September 23 last year, he arrived in the United Kingdom with the intention of speaking at a conference at Chatham House . But at Gatwick Airport he was stopped by police and questioned under Schedule 7 of the British government’s Terrorism Act 2000.

“I was asked about my investigation of the covert US drone attacks in Yemen. When I asked why the question was relevant, I was threatened with further detention,” Shiban said.

Drone-reporting dangers

Apparent attempts to suppress any kind of criticism of US covert operations are not new.

In Pakistan, an anti-drone campaigner set to testify before European parliaments has gone missing in the city of Rawalpindi. Kareem Khan , whose brother and teenage son were killed in a drone attack in December 2009, was picked up at his home by security forces in the early hours of February 5, his lawyer said. He hasn’t been heard from since.

Shiban said he is also well aware that the path he’s on now could lead to the same fate of Yemen-based journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye .

On December 17, 2009, the Yemeni military announced it had successfully destroyed an al-Qaeda camp in al-Majala in Abyan province. But after travelling to the town, Shaye discovered it wasn’t at all an operation carried out by his government, but in fact a US cruise missile strike. And he discovered the people who died weren’t al-Qaeda fighters but innocent civilians. Among the 41 people killed, more than two-thirds were women and children.

Shaye was arrested on August 6, 2010 by Yemeni security forces and charged that October with aiding al-Qaeda by recruiting new operatives for the group. By January 2011, he was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.

International human rights groups condemned his trial as a sham , which couldn’t provide any credible evidence of his alleged al-Qaeda associations. Shaye was being punished for exposing a US covert operation that resulted in a massacre.

After being incarcerated for nearly three years, Shaye was pardoned in July 2013 but one of the conditions of his release is he must not leave the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, for two years.

Asked about Shaye’s case, and the threats he’s received to his own life, Shiban said he’s determined to carry on highlighting the impact of drone strikes.

“This is an issue of vital importance to Yemen’s future, and I and other human rights activists will continue to defend the basic rights and democratic wishes of the Yemeni people,” he said.

Yemen’s main oil pipeline bombed, crude flow stops  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards

Yemen’s main oil pipeline bombed, crude flow stops  |  Peak Oil News and Message Boards.
Yemen’s main oil pipeline bombed, crude flow stops thumbnail

Armed tribesmen bombed Yemen’s main oil pipeline on Saturday, halting crude flow to the country’s main export terminal less than a month after it was repaired, oil and local officials said.

The attack occurred in the Serwah district in the central oil-producing province of Maarib, they said, and caused a huge fire that prompted the closure of the pipeline and stopped oil flow from the Maarib fields to the Ras Isa oil terminal on the Red Sea.

Yemen, which relies on crude exports to finance up to 70 percent of its budget, has suffered frequent bombings of its main pipeline in recent years. The last one took place on Dec. 26 and the pipeline was repaired on Jan. 5.

Disgruntled tribesmen stage these attacks to pressure the government to provide jobs, settle land disputes or free relatives from prison.

Such lawlessness is a global concern, particularly for the United States and its Gulf Arab allies, because of Yemen’s strategic position next to oil exporter Saudi Arabia and to main shipping lanes.

Yemen is also home to one of al Qaeda’s most active wings.

Before a spate of attacks that began in 2011, the 270-mile Maarib pipeline carried around 110,000 barrels per day to Ras Isa.

alarabiya.net

U.N. Asks U.S. To Justify Latest “Cruel, Inhuman” Drone Attack That Killed 15 Yemen Civilians In A Wedding | Zero Hedge

U.N. Asks U.S. To Justify Latest “Cruel, Inhuman” Drone Attack That Killed 15 Yemen Civilians In A Wedding | Zero Hedge.

Imagine, if you will, that you and your 15 closest unarmed, civilian friends are celebrating a young couple who has just started their lives together, and are on your way to their wedding party, when all of a sudden a remote-controlled US killing machine drops several air-to-surface tactical missiles on your group and kills you before you have a chance to blink. Macabre as it sounds, this is precisely what happened in the conflict-torn (courtesy of the CIA) republic of Yemen last month when a US drone mistakenly killed 15 people.

The US justification: the 15 civilians were mistaken for an Al Qaeda convoy (good thing this was not in Syria, where such an Al Qaeda convoy would have received US arms and funding), and in keeping with the US “superpower” walkthrough, the missiles were launched first, and questions would be asked later if ever. And while this happens daily around the globe (remember: they hate America for its freedoms, not because it rains hellfire on civilians without reason), this time the United Nations human rights watch actually had the temerity of calling out the US on its latest act of mass murder.

Reuters has the full story:

United Nations human rights experts told the United States and Yemen on Thursday to saywhether they were complicit in drone attacks that mistakenly killed civilians in wedding processions this month.

The independent experts questioned the legitimacy of drone attacks under international law and said the governments should reveal what targeting procedures were used.

Local security officials said on December 12 that 15 people on their way to a wedding in Yemen were killed in an air strike after their party was mistaken for an al Qaeda convoy. The officials did not identify the plane in the strike in central al-Bayda province, but tribal and local media sources said that it was a drone.

Stressing the need for accountability and payment to victims’ families, the U.N. statement issued in Geneva said that two attacks, on two separate wedding processions, killed 16 and wounded at least 10 people.

If armed drones are to be used, states must adhere to international humanitarian law, and should disclose the legal basis for their operational responsibility and criteria for targeting,” said Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

Poor Yemen, unclear that others’ sovereignty does not matter to the US, voiced a feeble protest: “Yemen cannot consent to violations of the right to life of people in its territory,” he added.” Good luck with non-consenting.

However, it was the UN that surprised onlookers with one of the harshest condemnations of what is essentially unaccountable murder by an American remote-control plane, controlled from thousands of miles away:

Juan Mendez, U.N. special rapporteur on torture, voiced concern about the legitimacy of the airstrikes. Each state was obliged to undertake due investigation into the reported incidents, including their effect on civilians, he said.

A deadly attack on illegitimate targets amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if, as in this case, it results in serious physical or mental pain and suffering for the innocent victims,” Mendez said.

Wait, so cruel, inhuman and degra…. oh look, another all time high for the S&P! Quick BTFATH, and ignore all this irrelevant “stuff.”

 

Suicide attack rocks Yemen’s defence ministry – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Suicide attack rocks Yemen’s defence ministry – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.

The Yemeni Defence Ministry said the attack on its compound had targeted a hospital [EPA]
A suicide bombing has rocked Yemen’s defence ministry complex in the heart of the capital Sanaa, followed by a gun battle that left many casualties, according to the Yemeni Defence Ministry.

“At least 30 people have been killed in the attack” on Thursday, including “most” of the gunmen in the firefight that followed, the ministry said in a brief statement.

The ministry said that the attackers had targeted and badly damaged a hospital inside the complex but that the situation was now under control. Foreign doctors and nurses are reported to be among the ones killed.

The suicide explosion was caused by a bomber who drove a car packed with explosives into the gate, media reports quoted the defence ministry as saying. The blast was followed by another car of gunmen opening fire at the ministry.

Plumes of smoke billowed across the complex, situated on the edge of the Baba al-Yaman neighbourhood.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Fighters emboldened

Yemen has been plagued with a series of violent attacks, as the interim government grapples with southern secessionists, al-Qaeda-linked groups and northern Houthi rebels, as well as severe economic problems inherited from veteran President Ali Abdallah Saleh who was forced out of office following protests against his rule in 2011.

Fighters were emboldened by a decline in government control over the country and seized several southern cities before being driven out in 2012 in an offensive supported by United States and drones.

Al-Qaeda-linked fighters have killed hundreds of Yemeni soldiers and members of the security forces in a series of attacks since then.

In July last year, a suicide bomber wearing a Yemeni army uniform killed more than 90 people rehearsing for a military parade in Sanaa. Al-Qaeda later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Yemen’s defense minister, Major General Muhammad Nasir Ahmad, escaped a car bomb on his motorcade in September 2012 that killed at least 12 other people.

 

Q&A: Privacy implications for aerial drones – Features – Al Jazeera English

Q&A: Privacy implications for aerial drones – Features – Al Jazeera English. (FULL ARTICLE)

New York, US – The Drones and Aerial Robotics conference – a weekend-long event highlighting innovations and uses in civilian drone technology – was a thing to behold.

A certain cognitive dissonance was necessary to ignore what many think of at the mention of the word “drone” (pilotless crafts used to kill thousands in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen). Instead, participants were urged to focus on how small, unarmed crafts carrying a camera and, perhaps, sensors could be used for educational and recreational purposes.

There were, of course, participants at the New York University conference who brought up the consequences of drone warfare, and others who questioned the legal issues surrounding the widespread use of civilian drones.

Woodrow Hartzog, an assistant law professor at Samford University in Alabama, was among those voices. He specialises in privacy, human-computer interactions and cyberlaw.

Al Jazeera: We’re at a conference where the focus seems to be on the whiz-bangery of this technology. What’s being lost in all this when it comes to privacy issues?

Woodrow Hartzog: There’s a fair amount of hand-wringing over drones and privacy, but I think in many instances it’s often dismissed because drones fly in public and they fly in public spaces and the law, as it’s traditionally been conceived, does not protect privacy when you’re walking out in the middle of the street. But I don’t think that’s entirely true….

 

U.S. Embassy Evacuation In Yemen: American Journalist Says Drones Feared More Than Al Qaeda (VIDEO)

U.S. Embassy Evacuation In Yemen: American Journalist Says Drones Feared More Than Al Qaeda (VIDEO).

 

Drone strike kills al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen – Middle East – Al Jazeera English

Drone strike kills al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen – Middle East – Al Jazeera English.

 

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