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CIA operating drone base in Saudi Arabia_ US media reveal

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					6 February 2013 Last updated at 12:29 ET



CIA operating drone base in Saudi
Arabia, US media reveal




Drones reportedly carry out strikes without Yemeni government permission

Continue reading the main story


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The US Central Intelligence Agency has been operating a secret airbase for unmanned drones
in Saudi Arabia for the past two years.

The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is
based in Yemen.

A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric
who was alleged to be AQAP's external operations chief.

US media have known of its existence since then, but have not reported it.
Senior government officials had said they were concerned that disclosure would undermine
operations against AQAP, as well as potentially damage counter-terrorism collaboration with
Saudi Arabia.

'High-value targets'

The US military pulled out virtually all of its troops from Saudi Arabia in 2003, having stationed
between 5,000 and 10,000 troops in the Gulf kingdom after the 1991 Gulf war. Only personnel
from the United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) officially remain.


Continue reading the main story


Analysis




                  Bill Law Gulf analyst, BBC News



The revelation that US drone strikes against militants in Yemen have been launched from a
secret base inside Saudi Arabia will be an embarrassment for the government in Riyadh.

King Abdullah has embarked upon a gradual process of reform in the face of a conservative
religious elite who strongly object to the presence of foreign non-Muslim troops in the country.

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's two holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there in the
1990s was seen as an historic betrayal. The campaign for their withdrawal became a rallying cry
for al-Qaeda and its late Saudi-born leader, Osama bin Laden.

The Washington Post reported that President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism adviser, John
Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, played a key role in negotiations with the
government in Riyadh over building the drone base.

Senators are expected to ask Mr Brennan about drone strikes, the memo and the killing of
Awlaki when he faces a confirmation hearing on his nomination to become the new CIA director
on Thursday.

The location of the secret drone base was not revealed in the US reports.

However, construction was ordered after a December 2009 cruise missile strike in Yemen,
according to the New York Times.

It was the first strike ordered by the Obama administration, and ended in disaster, with dozens
of civilians, including women and children, killed.
US officials told the newspaper that the first time the CIA used the secret facility was to kill
Awlaki.

Since then, the CIA has been "given the mission of hunting and killing 'high-value targets' in
Yemen" - the leaders of AQAP who government lawyers had determined posed a direct threat
to the US - the officials added.

The New York Times published its report on Tuesday night, ending an "informal arrangement"
among several news organisations not to disclose the location of the base.




                                                  The Obama administration's drone doctrine has been
shrouded in secrecy

News organisations had been complying with a request from Obama administration officials,
who said it might undermine operations and collaboration with Saudi Arabia, the Washington
Post reported.

Two other Americans, including Awlaki's 16-year-old son, have also been killed in US strikes in
Yemen, which can reportedly be launched without the permission of the country's government.

Kristian Coates-Ulrichsen, an expert on Gulf politics at the London School of Economics, told
the BBC that Saudi anxieties about the growing threat of AQAP would have been behind the
government's decision to allow the US to fly drones from inside the kingdom.

"The Saudis see AQAP as a very real threat to their domestic security," he said. "They are
worried about attacks on their energy infrastructure and on the royal family, so it fit their strategy
to allow the drone attacks."

The existence of the base was likely a "sensitive issue" for both Washington and Riyadh, Mr
Coates-Ulrichsen added.

Leaked memo

A source close to the Saudi Interior Minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, declined to
comment when contacted by the BBC.
                                                Anwar al-Awlaki was among three Americans killed in
drone strikes in Yemen in 2011

Saudi Arabia is home to some of Islam's holiest sites and the deployment of US forces there
was seen as a historic betrayal by many Islamists, notably the late leader of al-Qaeda, Osama
Bin Laden.

It was one of the main reasons given by the Saudi-born militant to justify violence against the
US and its allies.

The revelation of the drone base came shortly after the leaking of a US justice department
memo detailing the Obama administration's case for killing any American abroad who is
accused of being a "senior, operational leader" of al-Qaeda or its allies.

Lethal force is lawful if they are deemed to pose an "imminent threat" and their capture is not
feasible, the memo says.

The threat does not have to be based on intelligence about a specific attack, since such actions
are being "continually" planned by al-Qaeda, it adds.

NBC News said it was given to members of the US Senate intelligence and judiciary committees
as a summary of a classified memo on the targeted killings of US citizens prepared by the
justice department.

The latter memo was written before the drone strike that killed Awlaki.

Under President Obama, the US has expanded its use of drones to kill hundreds of al-Qaeda
suspects in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. It says it is acting in self-defence in accordance
with international law.

Critics argue the drone strikes amount to execution without trial and cause many civilian
casualties.


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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-21350437



CIA has been operating a SECRET UNMANNED DRONE AIRBASE in Saudi Arabia for
TWO YEARS. MEDIA KNEW ABOUT IT BUT DIDNT REPORT IT!!!

[link to www.bbc.co.uk]

The US Central Intelligence Agency has been operating a secret airbase for
unmanned drones in Saudi Arabia for the past two years.

The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,
which is based in Yemen.

A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born
cleric who was alleged to be AQAP's external operations chief.

US media have known of its existence since then, but have not reported it.

Senior government officials had said they were concerned that disclosure would undermine
operations against AQAP, as well as potentially damage counter-terrorism collaboration with
Saudi Arabia.
Senators are expected to ask Mr Brennan about drone strikes, the memo and the killing of
Awlaki when he faces a confirmation hearing on his nomination to become the new CIA
director on Thursday.

The location of the secret drone base was not revealed in the US reports.

However, construction was ordered after a December 2009 cruise missile strike in
Yemen, according to the New York Times.

It was the first strike ordered by the Obama administration, and ended in disaster,
with dozens of civilians, including women and children, killed.
US officials told the newspaper that the first time the CIA used the secret facility was to kill
Awlaki.




The revelation that US drone strikes against militants in Yemen have been
launched from a secret base inside Saudi Arabia will be an embarrassment for the
government in Riyadh.

King Abdullah has embarked upon a gradual process of reform in the face of a conservative
religious elite who strongly object to the presence of foreign non-Muslim troops in the
country.

The Washington Post reported that President Barack Obama's counter-terrorism
adviser, John Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, played a key
role in negotiations with the government in Riyadh over building the drone base.

Since then, the CIA has been "given the mission of hunting and killing 'high-value targets' in
Yemen" - the leaders of AQAP who government lawyers had determined posed a direct
threat to the US - the officials added.

The New York Times published its report on Tuesday night, ending an "informal
arrangement" among several news organisations not to disclose the location of the base.

The Obama administration's drone doctrine has been shrouded in secrecy
News organisations had been complying with a request from Obama
administration officials, who said it might undermine operations and collaboration
with Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reported.

Last Edited by J&V on 02/06/2013 03:59 PM


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