The other day both Bobby here and Ryan Goodman at Just Security here picked up on news reports that DOD may be willing to provide additional military cooperation (including logistics and direct fire capabilities) to the Yemeni government.

Ryan then takes the opportunity to ask: what type of force is the U.S. government undertaking in Yemen already? Is it only attempting to capture or kill “two dozen of al Qaeda’s most dangerous operatives, who are focused on attacking America and its interests,” as the NY Times reports? Or, as Ryan (and Long Wars Journal) suggest, is the USG already targeting (or directly helping Yemen target) low level fighters and commanders that pose serious security threats to the Yemenis?

It is troubling that we don’t – this many years down the road – have clear answers to those questions. But what also has been little discussed is the international legal basis for the United States to help Yemen target its own local enemies: consent to the use of force by the Yemeni Government.

Ashley S. Deeks, Targeting Non-Al Qaeda Members in Yemen (?): The Role of Consent, Lawfare (May 15, 2014).