American drones have intensified their operations against al-Qaeda militants in Yemen. Hundreds of strikes have targeted Yemeni and non-Yemeni victims, including civilians. This week’s editorial is not about the bad or good of drone strikes, which regularly fly over Yemen and kill Yemenis. The Yemeni government, and many other actors, including American ones, cannot change the American Congress’ plan for fighting al-Qaida’s spread in Yemen.
My thoughts are about how the drones have changed the mentalities of mothers in Yemen, as well as those of friends in public, and at the workplace itself. As an expression of anger, a mother may chase after a drone to take the soul of her daughter, son, or husband after missiles hit their targets. The drones themselves may drive them crazy. In the past, the mother used to call on the devil to do this, but now, drone is the closest word for evil.
The drone does not only kill. It morphs culture, and brings anti-American sentiment to Yemen, planting as many enemies as it cuts down. Even now, as the American government trains the Yemeni military in Al-Anda, the drones will undercut their efforts. Negative effects will remain for generations, as the victims turn into martyrs, and stories to be read.
Drones are a bad technology, and they keep threatening the psychological stability of people in Yemen, just as much as their physical safety. Life and death under them are both terrible. It is a nightmare for Yemenis, which comes through a one-sided military cooperation, that finds a triangle of effort with the drone and Yemeni victim.