Sharif Abdel Kouddous writes: Ayman al-Sanabani beamed as he entered his family’s home on his wedding day. He was greeting his new bride, Gamila, who was in a bedroom surrounded by friends. Ayman sat beside her for several minutes, receiving warm words of congratulations.
It would be the young couple’s first and only encounter as husband and wife.
The terrifying power of a bomb is how it can alter life so dramatically, so completely, so instantaneously. How it can crush concrete, rip apart flesh, and snuff out life. The moments before the pilot pulls the trigger and sends the missile screeching down choreograph the final dance with fate: another step forward into a room, a turn around a corner, a walk outside to get some air — trivial actions that determine everything afterward.
This power is a fact of life in Yemen now. It is brought forth by a coalition of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia and supported by the United States. The airstrikes have been relentless since March, a period now of eight months. They are supposed to be targeting a local rebel group, but appear largely indiscriminate, regularly hitting civilian targets. Thousands of people have been killed. Human rights groups say some of these strikes amount to war crimes.
The al-Sanabani home sits on the crest of a small hill overlooking this village some 90 miles south of the capital, where low-slung houses are clustered near plots of yellowed farmland that are dotted by small trees. In the near horizon, reddish-brown mountains loom over the landscape. On any given day, it’s a beautiful place.
It was Oct. 7. Ayman and two of his brothers were all getting married in a joint ceremony. Hundreds of relatives and neighbors had come to take part. Their three-story house was brightly decorated. Colored lights draped down from the roof toward two large tents, which were erected to accommodate the vast numbers of guests. Children scampered outside, shooting fireworks into the night sky.
Fighter jets roared overhead but the guests paid little attention to the menacing sounds. Sanaban had never been targeted before. It was considered a safe place.
Shortly before 9:30 p.m., the three grooms — 22-year-old Abdel Rahman, 24-year-old Ayman, and 25-year-old Moayad — greeted their brides, who had just arrived in a large convoy from a nearby village.
Ayman left the bedroom where his new wife was sitting with her friends. He was climbing up to the second floor landing with his older brother when the missile struck. [Continue reading…]