London has become a no drone zone this week for the U.S. president’s visit to the capital. Fresh from shoulder-rubbing with Saudi Arabia, President Obama and his wife Michelle will arrive in Britain on Thursday. They will join the Queen in celebrating her 90th birthday.
Domestic drones have become increasingly popular as toys and aerial photography tools, and weaponized versions have become an integral — albeit reckless — element of American foreign policy. Consequently, restrictions in the skies, both in and around the capital, will be in place between Thursday and Sunday. Kites and balloons will also be prohibited. Aviation officials said the ban on drones is part of the overarching security plan for the presidential visit. The announcement comes days after a suspected drone collided with a plane as it approached Heathrow airport.
The U.S. president is well-known for his use of military drones in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen — and many easily caught the irony.
Britain 2016: Where Govt & Queen welcome peace prize winner & murderer by drone Obama & ironically ban drone use in London during his stay.
— Wake Up UK (@wake_uk) April 20, 2016
— Peter Lote (@Peter_Lote) April 20, 2016
While the president gets the protective treatment, U.S. Air Force data has revealed that for the first time in Afghanistan, drones are firing more weapons than conventional aircraft — and the ratio is rising. Further, the Pentagon has raised the level of civilian casualties allowed in airstrikes in Iraq and Syria as part of its war against the Islamic State. In some cases, as many as 10 civilians can be killed in an airstrike if the target is deemed strategically important enough to destroy.
Meanwhile, in Britain, the Ministry of Defence has refused to detail the number of armed Reaper drones carrying out operations in Iraq and Syria. Additionally, the U.K. continues to arm Saudi Arabia, further contributing to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.
With Western media set to spend days saturated with the Queen’s birthday celebrations and the Obamas’ red-carpet treatment, millions of innocents abroad must be hoping for a similar ban on drones — if only for a few days respite from living under the daily hum of the remote-control killing machines.