A new study by the New America Foundation's National Security Studies Program found President Barack Obama has dramatically accelerated the United States' covert war in Yemen, carrying out approximately 20 air and drone strikes from March through May, compared with just 18 in the previous two years combined.
Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland found the Obama administration has launched an estimated 28 drone strikes and 13 air strikes in Yemen, according to data compiled from reliable news reports. By contrast, the administration of George W. Bush launched one drone attack in Yemen. (The data was gathered from media outlets that include the Associated Press, Reuters, CNN and the Yemen Post.)
To view the numbers for yourself, click here. Key findings from the study include:
* Between Jan. 1, 2002 and June 6, 2012 drone strikes and airstrikes killed an estimated 531 to 779 people in Yemen, 509 to 713 of whom were identified in media reports as militants. Of these deaths, 99 percent occurred during Obama's presidency.
* The civilian casualty rate from these strikes is estimated to be between 4 to 8.5 percent, roughly comparable with the civilian casualty rate from the U.S. drone program in Pakistan, which averaged 5.5 percent in 2011.
* During the Obama administration, U.S. drones have killed at least 16 key al Qaeda militants in Yemen, including the Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki on September 30, 2011, and Fahd al-Quso who was suspected of involvement in the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole.
* Since the longtime Yemeni strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh stepped down in February, the American drone strikes and airstrikes have increased. In just three months, the United States launched an estimated 20 strikes. By comparison, there were 18 attacks in the previous two years combined.
To interview Peter Bergen or Jennifer Rowland, please contact Clara Hogan at 202-596-3368 or Hogan@newamerica.net.