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Obama’s Fourth War?

With US troops still in Iraq, a surge on the way for Afghanistan (where there are already 189000 US troops and US funded contractors ) and the growing drone war in Pakistan, you’d think we were fighting enough wars, but it seems we’ve just joined one more.

On orders from President Barack Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen, administration officials told ABC News …

The Yemen attacks by the U.S. military represent a major escalation of the Obama administration’s campaign against al Qaeda.

And NBC reports the same:

U.S. Navy warships fired missiles at suspected al-Qaida training camps in Yemen, with that government’s support, Pentagon sources tell NBC News.

One U.S. official said President Barack Obama personally ordered the missile strikes in northern Yemen.

Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, is a very messy stuation. Along with poverty and major human rights problems , including “Shi’ite rebels in the north, Yemen faces increasing unrest and separatist sentiment in the south and growing activity by al Qaeda’s regional wing.”

Thursday’s air strikes were cheered by Admiral Mullen and touted by the Yemeni government as attacks on a growing terrorist threat:

Those killed and arrested in Arhab “planned to strike at schools as well as interests at home and abroad,” Yemen’s interior ministry said on Thursday, without elaborating.

However, residents of Abyan said that there was no al-Qaeda training camp in the area and that the raids had destroyed several homes…

Abbas al-Assal, a local human rights activist who was at the scene, said 64 people were killed, including 23 children and 17 women.

“The government wants to show the world that it is serious in pursuing al-Qaeda elements and that the south of Yemen is a refuge for al-Qaeda. That is not true at all,” al-Assal told the Associated Press by telephone.

Video apparently shot at the site of one of the cruise missile attacks shows residents digging a dead child out of the rubble of what was said to be the local market. (You can view that here) and Russia Today has footage showing immense damage and scores of bodies.

More reports from local witnesses raise even more questions:

A provincial security official said “grave mistakes occurred in the operation due to failures of information, which led to a large number of civilian deaths.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said the assault was carried out without consulting with local officials.

Mansour, [a] resident, dismissed claims the site was a training camp, pointing out that the community was only 100 yards off a major highway and 1.6 miles from an army base. He said al-Kazemi,[a reported militant killed in the attacks who had been jailed by  the Yemen government, then released in 2005] had lived there with his family since his release and was not in hiding.

“If he was wanted, why didn’t the authorities come and arrest him all this time?” he said.

Perhaps we should listen more to locals like Mansour before we start a fourth war?

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

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