The danger in the drone program is the potential for U.S. intelligence and airstrikes to be manipulated by Yemenis seeking to weaken the competing clans and political factions. For example, Obama and his top generals felt misled in 2010 when Obama signed off on an airstrike against a senior militant that killed six people, including the deputy governor of Mareb province. The strike was based entirely on intelligence provided by the Yemenis, who had not told the U.S. that the governor would be there, a former senior U.S. official said…

“We have entered politics. Do you think the U.S. will leave us alone to choose our own leaders and way of life?” Saeed asked. “Our party is close to Al Qaeda. We’re trying to get them to lay down their weapons. Yemen doesn’t need this violence now. We just need protection from drones. I may be a target myself.”

Hadi, who took over when Saleh stepped aside amid international pressure, has praised the drone strikes as a key to defeating terrorists. That has upset tribal scions who see their internal problems as being exploited by American interests.

“The drones have not killed the real Al Qaeda leaders, but they have increased the hatred toward America and are causing young men to join Al Qaeda to retaliate,” said Ahmed al Zurqua, an expert on Islamic militants. “President Hadi is distorting and violating Yemen’s sovereignty by cooperating with the Americans.”