Commercial drones are increasingly being employed as a tool of political violence – will they be the new guerilla weapon of choice?
What do the chaos in Venezuela and the breakdown of the ceasefire in Yemen have in common? Both crises witnessed the use of low-tech unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), otherwise referred to as “hobby drones” in assassination attempts by dissidents or non-state actors.
On January 10, a drone assassination by the Houthis killed the Yemeni Intelligence chief, Brigadier General Saleh Tamah, a member of the Saudi-led coalition. The now embattled Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro survived a similar assassination attempt by drone in August 2018.
While the assassinations are minor episodes in the ongoing crises in both countries, they portend a future trend of the weaponisation of commercial drones, a brutal precedent set by Daesh during the battle for Mosul in 2017.