The former head of the CIA’s counter-terrorism centre has warned that the use of drone strikes in Yemen risks turning militants into “dedicated enemies of the west”.
Robert Grenier, who was director of the intelligence agency’s counter-terrorism unit from 2004 to 2006, said the US risked turning Yemen into the “Arabian equivalent of Waziristan”, a reference to the strife-torn Pakistani region.
His comments came after the resignation of the US ambassador toPakistan, Cameron Munter, who is said to have clashed with the CIA over its drone programme. On Sunday, a US drone attack in Yemen killed a top al-Qaida leader who was on the FBI’s most wanted list.
“One wonders how many Yemenis may be moved in future to violent extremism in reaction to carelessly targeted missile strikes, and how many Yemeni militants with strictly local agendas will become dedicated enemies of the West in response to US military actions against them,” Grenier wrote in a comment article for Al Jazeera.
“[Al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula] and those whom it trains and motivates to strike against civilian targets must continue to be resisted by the joint efforts of the civilised world.
“But the US would be wise to calibrate its actions in Yemen in such a way as to avoid making that obscure and relatively limited and containable threat into the Arabian equivalent of Waziristan,” he wrote.