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Return of the drones in Yemen

Via the invaluable Waq al-Waq, I see that U.S. drones are once again buzzing over the Yemeni countryside. As the bloggers point out, American drone strikes scored one of their greatest victories on Nov. 3, 2002, with the assassination of al Qaeda's head in Yemen, Abu al-Harithi. Not only was al-Harithi a genuinely bad guy, but his death sparked a long decline in al Qaeda in Yemen's strength which has only recently been reversed.

However, rising instability in Yemen has apparently caused U.S. drones to renew their hunt for al Qaeda. While this has made waves in the Arab press, I still haven't seen it reported in Western media. An interesting question is whether the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh can convince the U.S. to use the drones to provide him with intelligence on the northern Houthi rebellion, which poses an equally grave threat to his hold on power. If the U.S. weighs in on the side of Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni government against the Iranian-supported Houthis, it will take the country another step closer to being embroiled in the proxy war everyone fears and expects it to become.

JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images

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Uganda's Human Rights Hokey Pokey


It seems like Uganda is taking two steps forward and one step backward this week in terms of securing human rights for its citizens. Amid growing debate regarding the national Anti-Homosexuality Bill, the Ugandan parliament unanimously passed a law which not only outlaws the practice of female genital mutilation, but imposes a strict punishments of ten year to life-long sentences for convicted perpetrators.

Not a single parliamentary member spoke against the bill, and Francis Epetait, Uganda's shadow health minister explained the reasoning:

"This practice has left so many women in misery. So we are saying no. We cannot allow women to be dehumanised."
So as gender activists celebrate in Uganda, national rights advocates still cringe as the likelihood of the passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill looms nearer. The Ugandan Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law released a statement yesterday to mark International Human Rights day in which they call the pending bill an "unprecedented threat to Ugandan's human rights:
“Uganda today stands at a crossroads. We can either turn further towards an agenda of divisionism and discrimination, and pay the costs in terms of internal suppression of our own citizens coupled with international isolation and marginalization, or we can embrace diversity, human rights and constitutionalism.”

SHAUN CURRY/AFP/Getty Images