It has now been made public that the CIA was operating a secret US drone base in Saudi Arabia for the last two years in order to to hunt down and eliminate potential threats as reported in bbc.com of dated 6th of February 2013.
The location of the base is, even now, a secret but, it had been set up to hunt down members of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
One of the first targets was Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who was the external operations chief of the AQAP – that was in September-2011.
Later, the CIA was given permission to hunt down and kill high-value targets in Yemen and one of its targets was the son of Anwar al-Awlaki.
The basic logic in taking such decisions to kill hundreds of al-Qaeda suspects was to ensure survival and all such acts were in self-defense and in accordance to existing international laws.
During the tenure of President, the drone bases have been expanded and have been used in operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.
While critics argue that use of drones to target and eliminate any person is tantamount to execution without any trial and results in unwanted civilian casualties, the use of drones to tame the militants appear to continue unabated.
Incidentally, the US had positioned from 5,000 to 10,000 troops in the Gulf after the 1991 war and had withdrawn its troops from Saudi Arabia in 2003 – only a skeleton staff of the United States Military Training Mission (USMTM) remained.
How the discontent grew - Saudi Arabia is home to a number of holy sites in the Arab world and, deployment of US troops there was not taken kindly by the Islamists – that was a major bone of contention for Osama bin-Laden.
It seems John Brennan, the counter-terrorism advisor of President Barack Obama's and a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia was instrumental in negotiating with Riyadh to build the drone base.
John Brennan is tipped to be the new director of the CIA.
Why did Saudi Arabia allow US drones to operate from its territory – in the opinion of Kristian Coates-Ulrichsen, an expert of the London School of Economics on Gulf politics, it was all about the threat perception of the AQAP on the Saudis.
Saudi Arabia felt that the AQAP was a major obstacle to their domestic security and were worried about possible attacks on their Royal family – hence Riyadh's dependence on Washington.
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