The US Senate Judiciary Committee held the first ever congressional public hearing on Obama’s secret drone strikes revealing a powerful testimony from Farea al-Muslimi, a Yemeni youth activist and journalist. After being born and raised in the poor agricultural Yemeni village of Wessab Mr. Muslimi received an education in America, which he expressed great appreciation for the opportunity and financial aid provided by the US. Unfortunately, just a few days before the hearing the village of Wessab was struck by drones sand Mr. Muslimi expressed his personal accounts of the psychological fear and terror changing the face of America for Yemenis.
Yemenis are far to familiar with the buzzing sound over their heads from American drones. The escalations of al-Qaida territorial power along side US counterterrorism efforts using drone strikes has left Yemeni civilians caught in crossfire. The public resentment has grown and emerging protest call for an end to the strikes. The US counterterrorism methods in the country have led Yemenis to contemplate joining al-Qaida because they feel their innocent differentiation appears unnoticed as US drone strikes continue and justice for the deaths remains unseen. Many tribal leaders confirm the strikes only strengthen public support of al-Qaida and recommend alternative mechanism to resolving the issue. With the most powerful branch of al-Qaida already laying within Yemen borders the unnecessary risk of future expansion as a result of drone strikes not only threatens the US but also neighboring countries in the region.
Mr. Muslimi describes his concern for these villages and their reactions to the drone strikes along with his own personal sense of insecurity. The drone attacks have dramatically increased in Yemen under the Obama administration shifting the previously dominated missions in Afghanistan and Pakistan led by President Bush. In 2012 Yemen experienced more drone attacks than any other country and the US claims they are filling the gap due to the weak central government control.
The lack of political authority and terrorism remains a major problem in Yemen and Jones explains in The Mirage of the Arab Spring how the uprising increased the countries instability and fractured state as al-Qaeda and other groups attempt to fill the power vacuum across the region. Jones also claims all signs indicate that violence and economic despair will continue to ravish Yemen.
Yemen’s President Abd-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the southern successor to Mr. Saleh, has continued the pro-drone campaign claiming to sign off on each attack in Yemen himself. Historically the alliance between Yemeni government officials and US military presence has been uncontested by the local populations but the increased drone warfare across the country has spread a new wave of anti-American sentiment in the region.
The paradoxical nature involving the use of drones to fight terrorism remains a controversial debate. The extreme fear over the weapons buzzing above haunts the effected locals and drives their participation into the very terrorist organization the weapons target. Fighting radicalism with radicalism will only further fragment the fragile state of Yemen and drive conflicting interest in the region.
Farea al-Muslimi’s testimony stole the stage at the US congressional hearing and became a viral news clip revealing his moving first hand account of the damage caused by drone strikes in Yemen. Mr. Muslimi created a presence for the victims of drone strikes detailing personal complications associated with his US-Yemeni relationship and the widespread anti-American sentiment accumulating across Yemen. The testimony received international attention and will hopefully inspire less counterproductive measure against terrorism in Yemen and other counties in the region.
Al-Shamahi, Abubakr. “BBC News - US Drones Strain on Yemeni’s Dual Loyalties.” Accessed May 2, 2013. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22340837.
As Obama Shuns Hearing, Yemeni Says U.S. Drone War Terrifying Civilians, Empowering Militants, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PelxKNvl-ds&feature=youtube_gdata_player.