A former official of the U.S. State Department in Yemen says every drone killing by the American military there creates 40 to 60 new enemies of the United States.
In an article posted Wednesday in The Cairo Review, Nabeel Khoury, the deputy chief of mission in Yemen from 2004 to 2007, writes:
Drone strikes take out a few bad guys to be sure, but they also kill a large number of innocent civilians. Given Yemen’s tribal structure, the U.S. generates roughly forty to sixty new enemies for every AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] operative killed by drones.
Khoury, now retired from State and working as a fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, told HuffPost, “My former colleagues are probably going to get upset with me, because the policy now is to do this.” U.S. drone strikes in Yemen have intensified in the years since he left his post there.
Khoury said his estimate, while not “scientifically drawn,” was based on his knowledge of the tribal nature of Yemeni society. His concern over drone strikes is based more than anything else, he said, on the pragmatic question: Should the U.S. be creating this many future enemies?
A report released on Tuesday by Human Rights Watch found that the U.S. policy of not acknowledging drone strikes means innocent victims’ families are without the ability to seek U.S. compensation—further fueling anti-American anger.