Yemen votes to ban US drone strikes

Yemeni lawmakers voted to ban all American-led drone strikes inside the country, days after more than a dozen civilians were killed in an errant strike in the southern part of the country. 

Members of Yemen's Parliament overwhelmingly voted on Sunday to end the country's approval for for unmanned drone strikes against al Qaeda factions based in the country. 

During the debate, Yemeni lawmakers emphasized "the importance of protecting all citizens from any aggression" and "the importance of preserving the sovereignty of Yemeni air space," according to reports by Agence France Presse. 


While the parliamentary vote will likely not receive approval from Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, it is a sign of growing discontent for the leader's public support of the controversial U.S. counterterrorism tactic. 

A group of Pakistani lawmakers have already shut down critical U.S. and NATO supply lines along the Pakistan-Afghan border, in protest of ongoing drone strikes in the country. 

The lawmakers from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, which abuts the Afghan-Pakistan border, voted to cut off the supply lines by Nov. 20 unless Islamabad and the United States can reach a deal to end armed American drone operations. 

More than 80 percent of all U.S. armed drone strikes are targeted in Pakistan and Yemen.

The Obama administration claims its armed drone operations have been invaluable to decimating senior leaders within al Qaeda and other Islamic militant groups in those regions. 

Previous American-led drone strikes in Yemen have often targeted and taken out individual vehicles or small groups of vehicles suspected of ferrying al Qaeda fighters across the country. 

Those U.S. strikes have only accelerated since Hadi came to office in 2012, after the president launched a massive counterterrorism campaign against al Qaeda safe havens in southern Yemen. 

The group's Yemeni cell, known as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), is considered by U.S. military and intelligence officials as the best funded and most dangerous of all al Qaeda operational factions. 

In August, Hadi requested Washington hand over a number of armed drones to his forces, to combat al Qaeda forces based in the south. 

"I have discussed the issue of helping us acquire this technology with the U.S. administration," Hadi reportedly told local media outlets, ahead of a visit to Washington at the time. 

But the death of 13 Yemeni civilians in an errant drone strike in the country on Thursday has enraged the country and inflamed tensions between Washington and Sanaa. 

Roughly 10 civilians were killed immediately in the strike, after U.S. drones mistook the group traveling through al-Bayda province in central Yemen for an al Qaeda convoy. 

Ten other members of the group, which Yemeni officials say were en route to a wedding party nearby, were injured during the attack. 

Of those 10 Yemeni civilians hurt in the attack, five later died from their injuries after being evacuated to a nearby hospital, according to reports at the time. 

The al-Bayda strike took place two days after U.S. unmanned aircraft killed three suspected members of al Qaeda's Yemeni cell traveling in the volatile Hadramawt province in southern Yemen.