We help our sinister friends to commit war crimes in Yemen

A Saudi-led coalition air strike hit a hospital operated by Medecins Sans Frontieres in northern Yemen on Monday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 19, the aid group said. And who is in the coalition?

US and Britain have deployed their military personnel in the command and control centre responsible for Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen, having access to lists of targets.

Fighter jets from Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain also took part in the operation. Djibouti and Somalia made its airspace, territorial waters and military bases available to the coalition. The United States provided intelligence and logistical support, including search-and-rescue for downed coalition pilots. It also accelerated the sale of weapons to coalition states.

Pakistan is to be congratulated: it was called on by Saudi Arabia to join the coalition, but its parliament voted to maintain neutrality.

A Reuters witness at the scene of the attack in the Abs district of Hajja province said medics could not immediately evacuate the wounded because war planes continued to fly over the area and emergency workers feared more bombings.

3rd attack MSN hospitalThe 3rd airstrike

“This is the fourth attack against an MSF facility in less than 12 months. The location of the hospital was well known, and the hospital’s GPS coordinates were repeatedly shared with all parties to the conflict, including the Saudi-led coalition,” Doctors Without Borders said in a statement. Even with the recent United Nations resolution calling for an end to attacks on medical facilities and high-level declarations of commitment to international humanitarian law, nothing seems to be done to make parties involved in the conflict in Yemen to respect medical staff and patients.”

“This is the fourth attack against an MSF facility in less than 12 months,” said Teresa Sancristóval, MSF emergency program manager for Yemen (More here). “People in Yemen continue to be killed and injured while seeking medical care. The violence in Yemen is having a disproportionate burden on civilians. We want to express our outrage at having to send condolences once more to the families of our staff member and 10 patients, who should have been safe inside a hospital.”

In the foreword to Medea Benjamin’s book, Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, Barbara Ehrenreich writes:

drone 2 warfare text

 

How can this barbarity be ended?

 

 

 

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Medact research and report into the health impact of armed drones

News of this 2013 report is being reported now for those who – like the writer – missed it at the time. As this site was set up in 2014, there is no reference to this significant work apart from a reference to the fact that Medact is a member of the Drones Campaign Network, a UK-based network of organisations, academics and individuals working together to share information and coordinate collective action in relation to military drones.

Medact was formed by health professionals to harness their expertise, mandate and ethical principles to raise awareness and speak out on health issues.

tomasz drones (2)The author of the report is Tomasz Pierscionek (left), who was born in Australia and moved to the UK aged 12. He is a doctor specialising in psychiatry (Academic Clinical Fellow in Psychiatry) and works in Newcastle, UK, interested in politics, current affairs and global health and – currently – editor of the online current affairs journal the London Progressive Journal (LPJ), which is not affiliated to any political party or lobby group. He served on the board of the charity Medact for two years before stepping down in June 2013 but is still involved in Medact activities as a member of the organisation).

With a few colleagues from Medact, he worked on a paper whose aim was to compare civilian death rates in conflict caused by various weapons (ranging from small arms fire to aerial bombardment). One of the key points of the paper was the finding that the proportion of civilian to combatant deaths was much higher when artillery was used or when bombs were dropped from the sky compared to when small arms were used. The reason for this is that bombardment and shelling tends to occur predominantly in urban areas where there are higher concentrations of civilians. For example, a building where alleged militants are holed up may be in a densely packed urban area. Hence, if a bomb is dropped on the ‘militants’ (and even it actually hits the intended target) there are still likely to be numerous non combatant casualties.

medact_drones coverIn the process of writing this paper, they started to learn about the use of a new weapon of war, armed drones. After realising that the use of armed drones was a major issue in itself and one which warranted further investigation, he suggested to his fellow Medact board members that they publish a report looking just at the health effects of these weapons.

This inspired Tomasz to start reading and researching about the use of armed drones. He led an initiative whilst on the board of Medact, aiming to raise awareness of the health effects of armed drones by producing a report (with fellow Medact board members). The report was called Drones: The Physical and Psychological implications of a Global Theatre of War.

He intends to continue to work with other individuals and organisations who are raising awareness of the proliferation of armed drone and the ethical moral and legal aspects associated with their use.

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The full Medact Drone Report can be read and downloaded here: http://www.medact.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/report-dronesupdate-2013.pdf

 

 

 

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Drone killing of grandmother in Afghanistan leads Army chaplain to resign

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Mark Shapiro has forwarded a link to an article by Andrea Germanos reporting the resignation of an Army chaplain with the 354th Transportation Battalion at Fort Totten, New York. The Army Times relates his growing unease here.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Rev. John Antal, now a Unitarian Universalist Church minister in Rock Tavern, New York, wrote:

“The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any tie, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials.”

Zubair gran pakistan usaidIronically, as a USAID-funded program enables a grandmother in Pakistan to learn to grow vegetables and preserve food, US drone strikes kill another over the border.

Antal served as a chaplain from September 2012 to February 2013 at the Kandahar Airbase in southern Afghanistan. “While deployed,” he wrote in February last year, a the Times Herald-Record, “I concluded our drone strikes disproportionately kill innocent people. Less than a month after I deployed to Afghanistan, on October 24th, 2012, a grandmother who lived over the hill from our base camp was out gathering okra in a field when she was killed by a U.S. drone strike . . . I didn’t see her, or anyone else, die. All I saw were the drones, taking off, landing, and circling around. I did not even hear the explosion . . .

At a US congressional briefing 13-year-old Zubair Rehman described how he saw his grandmother blown to bits by two hellfire missiles on the day in question, asking his American audience: “Why?” They didn’t have an answer”. Official sources claimed they killed “militants” that day. Rev. John Antal continues:

Zubair gran okra“From the perspective of both religious wisdom and military values, drone warfare, as conducted by the United States today, is a betrayal of what is right.

“Military leadership has a responsibility to advocate for a method of war-fighting consistent with military values like respect, integrity, and personal courage. Too often, I worry, our program of drone warfare falls short of these ideals.

“I resign because I refuse to support U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy, and global power projection”.

His letter of resignation may be seen on the Portside website

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Drone warfare dehumanises those doing it and the people they kill: the collateral damage

In 2013 Lesley Docksey wrote ‘Old and New Wars’ – an article published in Global Research. After analysing the complexities of the ‘new wars’ she moves on to stress that the tools and training of modern warfare are dehumanising combatants – and those they kill: 

drone dehumanizing war headerFor further reading see: http://drones-and-war.weebly.com/dehumanizing-war.html

“Take drones. It is hard to believe that the first armed drones were used in Afghanistan in 2001.  In less than ten years they have become an essential part of fighting war.

“They are controlled from half a world away by people who have never been to the country they are targeting; who have no knowledge of the way of life, the culture of the little blobs of humanity they track in their monitors; who have no understanding of the political and corporate background to the ‘war’ they are fighting; and, most importantly, by people who are in no danger of having their own blood spilt.

“The deaths they cause are meaningless to the hand that presses the button.  They have meaning enough for the people on the ground, gathering what they can of shattered bodies for burial, and unsurprisingly their use creates more so-called terrorists.

“Killing at a distance dehumanizes those doing it – it is not killing but a computer game.  Scoring a ‘hit’ that involves no blood, no entrails, no broken lives brings no guilt, no remorse and no proper awareness of the hurt inflicted on others . . .” – though we add that there does seem to be a delayed reaction: the New York Times reported, “In the first study of its kind, researchers with the Defense Department have found that pilots of drone aircraft experience mental health problems like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress at the same rate as pilots of manned aircraft who are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan”.

Lesley continues: “Using drones also dehumanizes the people they kill.  These are not fellow humans but terrorists, not civilians but collateral damage, not 8-year-old boys or old men of eighty but potential combatants.  The enemy becomes nothing more than a fly to be swatted, a worm to be stepped on.  President Obama has to personally authorise US drone strikes, more than 300 of them in his first four years of office.  That many of the deaths were of children cannot be disputed, regardless of the fact that the US insists that only ‘combatants’ are killed.

drone killed childrenBut at the beginning of December last year a senior US army officer speaking to the Marine Corp Times said that troops in Afghanistan were on the lookout for “children with potential hostile intent” – in other words, children could be deliberately targeted.  Lesley ends:

“Yet a few days later, there was Obama weeping on camera over the shocking deaths of the Connecticut school children.  Afghan children obviously don’t rate tears . . . “

Read ‘Old and New Wars: “Dehumanizing” War. Armies facing Armies no longer happens?’ here: http://www.globalresearch.ca/old-and-new-wars-dehumanizing-war-killing-at-a-distance/5318115.

 

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Our government continues to support Saudi Arabia despite its ‘crimes against humanity’ (UN), challenged by US Senator Chris Murphy

The global charity Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) told Reuters news agency that more than 40 civilians, including an eight-year-old in a critical condition, were admitted to Abs Hospital after an air strike in the Mustaba district, a region largely controlled by the Iran-allied Houthi militia.

yemen bombed civilians 3.16Saudi-led air strikes had killed 41 civilians and wounded 75 others on Tuesday in Yemen’s northwestern province of Haja, according to a senior provincial health official, Ayman Mathkour, director of the Haja health department. He told Reuters that relatives gathered the bodies and took the wounded to Abs and Mustaba hospitals.

The coalition entered the conflict a year ago to stop Houthi forces and others loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh from seizing the country, and has fought to restore the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Saba Net, a Yemeni news agency controlled by the Houthis, reported that in the three air raids 65 people had been killed and 55 wounded in the strike on an outdoor market and restaurant in Mustaba.

According to the United Nations, entire neighbourhoods have been obliterated and more than 6,000 people, half of them civilians, have been killed in Yemen’s conflict since the Saudi-led intervention began in March 2015.

In January, a UN panel found that air strikes had targeted civilians, assessed that some of the attacks could be crimes against humanity and recommended the U.N. Security Council consider establishing an investigation.

PRI reports that Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asks why the US has stood by while the Saudi-led coalition of Arab air forces has pounded Yemen daily since March 26, 2015. When will a senior conservative challenge our government on its military and diplomatic support for Saudi Arabia?

 

 

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FT: “A part of the civilisation process” – air-strikes kill over 148* in Pakistan/Afghanistan last month, Cameron undeterred

Incredibly, “the steady withdrawal of actual human flesh from the battle zone” is described as being a part of the civilisation process

According to the un-named writer of FT view, a part of the civilisation process “is the steady withdrawal of actual human flesh from the battle zone, with front lines gradually pulled apart by the advent of long-range artillery and air power, and the decline in the public’s tolerance for casualties”.

drone killed childrenBut ‘other’ human flesh has been – and is being destroyed – by robotic and conventional air strikes.

After the UK opposed an international ban proposed at a United Nations conference on the development of autonomous weapons, more than 1,000 high-profile artificial intelligence experts and leading researchers signed an open letter calling for a ban on developing lethal autonomous weapons.

Meanwhile, the Times reports that David Cameron is to announce a £1.5 billion deal with the French government to develop the next generation of long-range attack and surveillance drones.

*To see details of the deaths, go to: https://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2016/01/07/get-the-data-a-list-of-us-air-and-drone-strikes-afghanistan-2016/

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Elect a Corbyn government and redirect skills from offensive technologies

Steve Schofield summarises, “Through invasion by ground forces and through air-strikes involving missiles and drones, the US/UK military axis has been responsible for the collapse of societies that has left hundreds of thousand of civilians dead or injured and millions more as refugees.

droneA Moseley reader sent a link to an article reporting that four former US air force service members who had extensive experience in operating military drones wrote an open letter to Barack Obama.

In it, they warned that the program of targeted killings by unmanned aircraft has become a major driving force for Isis and other terrorist groups. The letter, addressed to Obama, defense secretary Ashton Carter and CIA chief John Brennan, links the signatories’ anxieties directly to the terror attacks in Paris:

“We came to the realization that the innocent civilians we were killing only fueled the feelings of hatred that ignited terrorism and  groups like ISIS, while also serving as a fundamental recruitment tool similar to Guantanamo  Bay

They ended: “This administration and its predecessors have built a  drone program that is one of  the most  devastating  driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around  the  world”

Schofield looks ahead: “The UK could re-orientate its policy to UN peacekeeping and peacebuilding”:

“The Labour movement needs a much more ambitious arms conversion programme to challenge the embedded power of the military-industrial-complex with a broader critique of UK security policy and the subordination to the United States in global power projection to secure oil supplies and other natural resources.

“Substantial savings could be made in the arms budget, in turn providing a major source of funding for an ambitious arms conversion programme. Assuming savings of 50-75% in the arms budget, the government could provide at least £10 billion a year to an arms conversion fund that contributes to the new industrial regeneration policy.

“Employment in these new sectors far exceeds that from arms production – for example the German renewable energy industry employs 380,000 people and this is expected to rise to 600,000 by 2030 as the country increases the proportion of electricity generated from renewable sources.

“A combination of publicly-funded, national and regional investment banks for industries in the civil sector like offshore wind and wave power would channel these funds, ensuring an equitable distribution that also benefits the small group of arms-dependent communities, including Barrow-in-Furness, Glasgow, Preston, Aldermaston and Plymouth.

“The Labour movement has a strong and proud record of internationalism and it can offer a different vision of security where the UK has a progressive role in the world, signalled by deep cuts to military spending, and by a comprehensive arms conversion programme that creates new opportunities for socially-useful work . . .”

To read Dr Schofield’s paper, go to http://www.lessnet.co.uk/docs/arms-conversion.pdf

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