US drone strikes have continued to occur in Yemen since 2002, but the majority of the strikes have happened since 2009. IN 2015 so far, there have been three confirmed drone strikes and one more possible drone strike. There have been 10-13 confirmed deaths reported, and 2-3 possible deaths reported, one of them being a child. Drone strikes are meant to eliminate perceived enemies, like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, with fewer casualties. Drone pilots can allegedly see every move on the ground, but despite official claims of their accuracy, strikes often result in civilian casualties.
In an April 2014 Rolling Stone article, Vivian Salama wrote that “the drone strikes don’t require U.S. troops to be on the ground, and thus are easy to keep out of sight and out of mind.” Yemeni citizens are unaware of who is associated with terror groups. Drone strikes are reported on investigative sites where reporters have visited places in Yemen. The problem with US drone strikes is that civilians get caught up in crossfire. Despite evidence that civilians, including women and children, are regularly killed in US drone strikes, this reality is rarely reported in US corporate media or discussed publicly by policy makers. Salama notes that changes in the distribution of humanitarian aid and increased public awareness are two forces that might lead to changes in US drone strike policies. Outside the US, she notes, because the Yemeni government often knows where militants are hiding, it could make the decision to arrest them instead of coopering with the US in targeting them with drone strikes. Others have said that the drone strikes have fueled recruitment into these terrorist groups and turned allies into enemies. Instead of using drones, build schools, build hospitals and give them food and other supplies they lack, to reassure them that they are human beings and not targets.
US corporate media have provided incomplete coverage of US drone strikes in Yemen. In April 2014, CNN did interview Vivian Salama, who discussed what the strikes’ impact on civilians and solutions that could potentially benefit both the US and Yemen.
Vivian Salama, “Death From Above: How American Drone Strikes Are Devastating Yemen,” Rolling Stone, April 14, 2014, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/death-from-above-how-american-drone-strikes-are-devastating-yemen-20140414.
Jack Serle, “Yemen: Reported US Covert Actions 2015,” Bureau of Investigative Journalism, January 26, 2015, http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2015/01/26/yemen-reported-us-covert-actions-2015/.
Student Researcher: Brandi Giroux (Burlington College)
Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (Burlington College)