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US airstrikes in Yemen are ‘criminal’ – political analyst

After a break of nearly a year, America's covert war in Yemen is up and running again, with armed drones and fighter jets hitting a number of suspected militant targets.

With President Ali Abdullah Saleh recuperating outside of the country, the US, Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni opposition are pressing for a formal end to his rule and the formation of a new government.

On June 8, tribesmen collected the bodies of 10 more of their fallen comrades from the streets of their main stronghold, Sanaa's Hassaba district, where most of the battles have taken place.

Sara Flounders from the US-based International Action Center, which opposes American wars abroad, says the US military campaign in Yemen is criminal.

“This is just illegal; it is absolute lawlessness, and this has been going on for weeks,” Flounders declared. “In Yemen the US is there to protect the 33-year dictatorship of Saleh, and potentially bring him back.”

Despite reports that the US recently killed an important Al Qaeda operative, Flounders says there is no way of knowing that such reports are true.

“We have seen the Pentagon claiming such things, and it’s then found out to be a whole village of civilians, 10 or 20 children,” she said.

The campaign in Yemen was halted a year ago because of concerns about poor intelligence leading to bungled missions and civilian deaths.

Political analyst Eric Stoner believes turning a covert war in Yemen into an official foreign campaign is not a wise way to fight terrorism.

“According to surveys, the Yemeni people are extremely opposed to the US,” he said. “I think increased military strikes and the potential of a full-scale war in the country would really inflame the anti-American sentiment in the country, and likely drive many more people into the arms of Al Qaeda.”