Two Yemeni weddings, two deadly airstrikes

Two Yemeni weddings, two deadly airstrikes
Comment: Two airstrikes on Yemeni weddings in less than two years highlight the disregard shown to the lives of Yemeni civilians, writes Abubakr Al-Shamahi.
3 min read
30 Sep, 2015
A US drone strike also targeted a wedding convoy in December 2013 [Abubakr al-Shamahi]

The idea of one wedding being struck by a missile plummeting out of the sky is harrowing enough - a gathering of celebration and joy, two people starting a new life together, being turned into a nightmare.

It is therefore an apt demonstration of how worthless Yemeni lives have become to those firing the missiles that such terror has been visited upon Yemenis twice in less than two years.

The misfortune of a country where half of the population lived below the poverty line - even before the outbreak of war - is such that even weddings getting destroyed from the air does not shock as much as it should.

On Monday, just outside Mocha, a town that in better times exported coffee to the world, a suspected Saudi-led coalition air raid on a wedding party left at least 130 people dead, a disgustingly high number.

Not even two years earlier, this time in a rural mountainous part of al-Baydha province, a US drone strike hit a wedding convoy, leaving between 12 and 17 people dead.

Visiting the site of that strike was a sobering experience.

The families there were desperately poor, and their village lacked the most basic amenities. There was not even a school to provide the children with hope that their future could be different.

Family after family recounted the story of their dead loved ones, and how much the loss would affect them, both emotionally and materially.

They spoke of how they had dreams that their country would actually change for the better following the 2011 revolution, bandying around words like "democracy" and "elections".

     The lives of those who have died are not considered worthy of investigation

And all while they were speaking, they were providing their guests with a full lunch - their terrible situation not preventing them from maintaining their traditions of honour and hospitality.

All that they wanted was to be regarded as humans, to have recognised that their lives were valuable and not liable to be killed at the whim of someone pushing a button on the basis of shaky intelligence.

The Mocha wedding deaths are the same.

The Saudis have rejected the accusation that the attack was a coalition airstrike - despite numerous sources saying otherwise.

This has been the usual response throughout the war from the Saudis, and from their opponents.

The lives of those who have died are not considered worthy of investigation; the blame is shifted onto someone else even when the cause is glaringly obvious, and life goes on.

Except that for those on the receiving end, it does not.

Lives are destroyed, and not just for those who have died.

In Yemen, civilian life has simply been disregarded and, if it is ever acknowledged, is belittled as collateral damage.

Whether with the Mocha wedding strike in 2015, or the al-Baydha wedding strike in 2013, Yemeni life has proven to be cheap to those who have multi-million dollar weapons and faraway command centres.

From one wedding to another, a joyous occasion became a scene of death at the blink of an eye. The culprits will deflect the blame, the news cycle will move on, and the victims will mourn, forgotten.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.