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US Drone Strikes in Yemen Horrifically Ineffective; Kill Mostly Innocent Civilians

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Since 2009, the United States has been conducting drone strikes in Yemen to target Al Qaeda. Problematically, these strikes have proven to repeatedly be off-target. Writing for the Associated Press, Maggie Michael and Maad Al-Zirky write that civilian deaths account for “around a third of all those killed in drone strikes so far in 2018.” While the data is sparse, the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, one of the few organizations that covers these issues extensively, estimates that there were “up to 1,020 killed by strikes from 2009 to 2016, under President Barack Obama … Another database, by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, counted 331 killed [in] the past two years.”

Both Democrats and Republicans favor drone strikes to target potential terrorists in the Middle East, but the reality is that these strikes are doing more harm than good in the affected region. The strikes have killed hundreds of innocent people – including children – as a result of overworked drone pilots in confined spaces, bad intelligence which comes from widespread torture tactics, and simply misjudging benign behavior as evidence of terrorism. Yemeni locals say they constantly “live in fear” because “drones don’t leave the sky.” For years, US drone strikes have turned Yemen into a catastrophic war zone.

Yet, corporate media coverage is scant on the horrific impact of drone strikes. Michael and Al-Zirky note in their AP article that “the killing of a single man — Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, slain by Saudi operatives in his own country’s consulate — has raised more international uproar than any of those deaths in a war waged by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the U.S.” Often, if the effects of the drone strikes are reported by corporate media outlets, they emphasize the ‘potential terrorist that was brought down’ and downplay the civilian lives that were erroneously taken, euphemistically referred to as “collateral damage.” As long as the public is blind to the slaughter of innocents happening in Yemen, they will remain quiescent to the ongoing policies that continue to push a failed War on Terror. Michael and Al-Zirky’s report was republished by the Military Times and Fox News online.

Source: Maggie Michael and Maad Al-Zirky, “The hidden toll of American drones in Yemen: Civilian Deaths,” Associated Press, in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, November 14, 2018, https://apnews.com/9051691c8f8a449e8bb6fd684f100863.

Student Researcher: Sakura Rapolu (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)

Daniel Christof

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