Saudi Won’t Allow Pentagon to Control Drone Base Near Yemen Border, Times Says

The New York Times reports that the US government has not changed its policy on drone strikes despite promises President Barack Obama gave two months ago. That includes a formerly secret drone base in southern Saudi Arabia:

Some of those operations originate from a C.I.A. drone base in the southern desert of Saudi Arabia — the continued existence of which encapsulates the hurdles to changing how the United States carries out targeted-killing operations.

The Saudi government allowed the C.I.A. to build the base on the condition that the Obama administration not acknowledge that it was in Saudi Arabia. The base was completed in 2011, and it was first used for the operation that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical preacher based in Yemen who was an American citizen.

Given longstanding sensitivities about American troops operating from Saudi Arabia, American and Middle Eastern officials say that the Saudi government is unlikely to allow the Pentagon to take over operations at the base — or for the United States to speak openly about the base.

Last February major news organizations in the US ended an informal agreement to keep the airbase secret at the request of the Obama administration. Saudi government and media remained silence regarding the existence of the base.