Archives for posts with tag: Drones

“Drones as Air Proscription? The case of South Arabia and Yemen in comparative perspective”: Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security: 6 June 2016, 3:00: Muirhead Tower Room 417

Speaker: Clive Jones, Durham University Clive Jones is Professor of Regional Security (Middle East) in the School of Government and International Affairs (SGIA), University of Durham. He specialises in the politics and security of the Middle East with a particular focus upon Israel and the Arab Gulf states. Read on here.

The use of airpower to subdue often ‘restive natives’ across the Middle East marked the development of aerial policing by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the aftermath of World War One. The extent to which the use of RAF bombers should enforce control over the hinterlands of Empire – most notably across the tribally based entities across what was then Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, Palestine and South Arabia – certainly has echoes with how Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Drones are used against comparable targets and often in the same geographical vastness.

Indeed, as more than one commentator has noted, even issues surrounding the moral rectitude of ‘remote killing’ stand comparison: the dropping of bombs on tribesman from 3000 feet with the technology then at hand was about as distant as it could get in the 1920s.

The concentration on ethical norms, human rights and the violation of state sovereignty that has come to dominate debates over the use of airpower (and drones in particular) has however obscured other lines of enquiry that offer alternative perspectives on the impact – operational, legal as well as moral – over the use of airpower in and among tribally based societies.

children drone killed

The most evident is how effective are such drone strikes and do they necessarily alienate the target populations – not least when collateral damage and deaths to civilians ensue – thereby driving support for a rebellion or insurgency?

The obvious answer, and in some cases the correct one – might be an unambiguous yes. Equally however, our implicit understanding of the political (and normative) context in which such strikes take place are informed by a Weberian construct of the State.

The proposition to be put forward here is that this state-centric construct offers only a partial understanding over how airpower has impacted upon polities where identity and legitimacy are more clan or tribally based than grounded in any wider allegiance to an established state order.

By comparing and contrasting the development of aerial policing by the RAF across South Arabia over several decades, with the use of Drones across Yemen since 2001, this paper makes the case that a more nuanced understanding of this ‘tribal landscape’ remains integral to how we should conceptualise the practical use of drones in shaping regional order across the Middle East.





On Mon 6th July, the space around an Israeli Arms factory in Shenstone will be transformed – converted from a site of destruction into a creative and child-friendly environment.

The Elbit factory was occupied last year, causing its operations to grind to a halt. This was a response to last summer’s assault on Gaza, which killed over 2,200 Palestinians, in part carried out using drones manufactured by the Israeli arms company Elbit Systems.

elbit factory

On 6th July this year, to mark the first anniversary of last year’s assault on Gaza, groups and campaigners from across the UK are going back to Elbit’s factory, to demand that the UK stops arming Israel. We want as many people to come as possible – if you can bring a group on the day, let us know!

This action has been endorsed by London Palestine Action, the Boycott Israel Network, Scottish PSC, NUS Black Students’ Campaign, West Midlands PSC, Drone Campaign Network, Coventry Friends of Palestine, Smash EDO, Manchester Palestine Action, Glasgow Palestine Action, Campaign Against Arms Trade, Stop The Arms Fair coalition, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, War on Want and others. It promises to be a great chance for groups to come together and make links.

  • palestinian foodCould your group run a kids’ space there?
  • Lead a mass lock-on?
  • Set up a craft tent?
  • Run a tranquil space?
  • Coordinate a Palestinian food picnic?
  • Make paper wind turbines – not drones?
  • Buddy up with wheelchair users?
  • Think lively, think fun, think educational.

This is the link to the website where you can see the public call out and all the details of the action:

And here’s the Facebook event people can join:

See the factory on a map here:

It’s not long to go until the action, so please do get in touch with any questions or ideas as soon as possible:


The Hubb2The Hubb is in Sparkbrook, Birmingham, the ‘big blue building in the Aldi Car Park’. 

It was launched in 2010, a collaboration between ISRA Feed the Poor and Soul City Arts. Bringing art to the community is something that both organisations felt passionate about, so the space was set up in Sparkbrook, bringing artists, educationalists, and activists right into the community, using the art as a new language for change. We are open to the public between 11am and 4pm.

drone for general use

Birmingham Stop the War Coalition is holding an Oppose the Drone Wars Public Meeting on 31st Jan 2013 at 7 pm: The Hubb, Stoney Lane Sparkbrook, B’ham B12 8DL. For details ring Birmingham STW on  0777 156 7496


Chris Cole Drone Wars UK &
Yvonne Ridley Journalist & Human Rights Activist


Drones have enabled the US to ratchet up its military intervention around the globe. The speed with which they have become tactical weapons of choice, rather than surveillance tools, has alarmed senior military commanders and theorists. Some, like a former chief of Britain’s Royal Navy, question their legality. Others ask whether their use challenges the basic chain of command that goes into critical military decision making. See news of Hansard debate introduced by  Birmingham MP, Gisela Stuart.

The US and Israel are the main manufacturers and purveyors of all things drone, while Asia is the fastest-growing market in the world. Israel is the world’s leading exporter of drones with more than 1,000 sold to different countries. Israel’s primary combat drones, the Hermes, and the Heron have been in action recently over Gaza where, along with F-16s, they launched a huge number of airstrikes, killing over 150 Palestinians and causing immense damage and destruction.

The UK’s shameful role

UK currently rents Israeli drones for use in Afghanistan, while it is also jointly building the new Watch keeper drone with Israeli company Elbit systems. On average seven British drone strikes take place each month and this is likely to increase as another five drones have been purchased from the US and will be controlled from a new British drone base in Lincolnshire.