Trump’s first disastrous airstrike, followed by ‘boots on the ground’

trump-carrier

American broadcasting network NBC was the first to report news from a senior US military official that in the first airstrike and military raid carried out under President Donald Trump, two Americans were killed in Southern Yemen on Sunday. One was a member of SEAL Team 6 a U.S. Navy component of Joint Special Operations Command, sometimes referred to as a Special Mission Unit. The raid, conducted by JSOC, was intended to capture valuable intelligence, specifically computer equipment – but local accounts describe US personnel running amok, reporting a body count of 59 combatants and civilians, including women and children.

The mission involved Trump’s preferred option of “boots on the ground” but “Almost everything went wrong,” the official said. They experienced a hard landing near the site, injuring several SEALs, one severely. The tilt-rotor aircraft had to be destroyed. A SEAL was killed during the firefight on the ground and some Yemeni civilians.

mvosprey

The aircraft involved was the much-vaunted MV-22 Osprey which – a search  reveals – has a really disturbing record of crashes, mishaps and accidents. In December Reuters recorded that the US military had grounded its fleet of Osprey aircraft in Japan after one crash-landed in the sea near Okinawa, in an incident that fuelled further local anger over the US deployment on the island. TV footage showed the main wings of the transport aircraft broken in two and the half-submerged fuselage drifting in the sea.

nawar-anwar-al-awlakiAmong the non-combatants killed in the raid, including several Yemeni women and children, was the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, the New Mexico-born American graduate and al Qaeda leader who was killed in a U.S. drone strike five years ago.

Her grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, Yemen’s former agriculture minister, told NBC News that the girl and her mother had fled the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, where he lives, to escape the heavy shelling and continued:

“My granddaughter was staying for a while with her mother, so when the attack came, they were sitting in the house, and a bullet struck her in her neck at 2:30 past midnight. Other children in the same house were killed.

“They [the SEALs] entered another house and killed everybody in it, including all the women. They burned the house. There is an assumption there was a woman [in the house] from Saudi Arabia who was with al Qaeda. All we know is that she was a children’s teacher”.

Will this chaos and bloodshed cause Trump to rethink ? if only . . .

(UPDATE: varying accounts of the diplomatic reaction are being published. The following sounds the most feasible: “White House spokesman Sean Spicer would not say whether Yemen’s government had requested a ban, but he said the Trump administration is “working through diplomatic channels” with Yemen – read more here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/02/08/reports-yemen-says-must-approve-us-ground-raids/97634368/.)

 

 

 

Posted in Airstrikes, Civilian deaths, Donald Trump, Uncategorized, US government, Yemen | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Accidental civilian drone damage is a hazard: military use is hazardous and lethal

“The FT editorial “A drone is not just for Christmas but for life” – ‘Naïve’ – or worse? writes Paul Miners (Lutry, Switzerland) who takes the un-named writer to task:

“Your editorial “A drone is not just for Christmas but for life (December 24) is naive. Drones are the simplest weapon to bring down planes and drop bombs. They must be banned”.

Advertiser induced profit motive?

drone-near-missEarlier this week, after extolling the cheapness, versatility and lower environmental impact of drones, the writer of FT View deplored the ‘reckless users’ of commercial and hobby drones who might cause this ‘promising technology’ to be grounded:

“The list of ways in which drones have been irritating people is almost endless. Hobbyists have been using drones to deliver drugs to prisoners, to hover over bank cash machines to film people entering their PIN numbers, to snap topless celebrities and, more alarmingly, to buzz aircraft. In the 10 months to October this year, there have been more than 50 near-miss incidents with aeroplanes in the UK.

“Drones are rapidly acquiring an acceptability problem. Just think of the epic resistance to developing a third runway at London’s Heathrow airport. Now imagine the public irritation aroused by thousands of drones buzzing over Richmond Park (the deer certainly would not like it)”.

Industry-related profit motive?

Robert Garbett is Chief Executive and co-founder of SUAS-Global, which ‘provides a hub for operators, industry and regulators to communicate and share best practice’. He explains that ‘under-resourced regulators have fallen behind against an increasingly massive tidal wave of operators seeking guidance, public complaining about every sighting and the government requirements for direction and information’ and hopes to allay misgivings with the news that the International Standards Organisation (ISO) is currently in the process of developing a far-reaching standard for the manufacture and operations of commercial unmanned air systems (UAS), which is expected to provide an integrated safety framework designed to enable manufacturers to produce safe drones and commercial operators to fly said drones in a safe, responsible manner.

The elephant in the room – the greatest unmentioned hazard

drone-damage

Accidents are not the greatest hazard: will the ISO be able to restrain America and its friends from using drones to destroy infrastructure and assassinate people in several countries?

How many readers will agree with Mr Miners, who says (we repeat): ‘Drones are the simplest weapon to bring down planes and drop bombs’ and concludes,

’They must be banned’.

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Endnote

In 2014 Mark Shapiro drew this site’s attention to records obtained by the Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act.

They revealed that more than 400 large U.S. military drones have crashed in major accidents around the world since 2001 due to reasons including mechanical breakdowns, human error, software bugs in the “brains” of the aircraft, poor coordination with civilian air-traffic controllers and bad weather.

Military drones have crashed into homes, farms, runways, highways, waterways and, in one case, an Air Force C-130 Hercules transport plane in mid-air. Search engines also reveal reports of large numbers of accidents caused by commercial and hobby UAVs.

 

 

 

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Iraqi MPs and medics say fifty-five civilians killed in air strike on Qaim

Local hospital sources said air strikes hit a busy tailor’s market in the town of al-Qaim, an Islamic State-held town in Iraq’s Anbar province, killing 55 civilians including 12 women and 19 children, in three air strikes. The bodies of eight militants were delivered to Qaim hospital morgue.

Anbar MP Ahmed al-Salmani also said 55 civilians were killed. Another MP, Mohammed Karbouli, told Reuters that 60 people had been killed, including some of his relatives. Robert Cusack reports that those killed were among a queue of people waiting to receive government pensions and salaries from a municipal office.

Karbouli said it raised questions about the accuracy of intelligence used to target Islamic State fighters, and Salmani demanded that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi  stop the bombing and hold accountable the perpetrators of this massacre.

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Islamic State’s news agency Amaq released footage showing what it said was the aftermath of the strikes it blamed on Iraq’s air force. It showed burning vehicles on a wide main road lined by shops. Corpses, some charred and others bloodied, could be seen on the street, and the bodies of several children were also shown. Several buildings had been wrecked.

A BBC report adds that the US-led multinational coalition supporting the Iraqi government in its fight against IS has also carried out air strikes around al-Qaim.

An official in Anbar, who asked not to be identified, said “Killing dozens of civilians only to target a handful of terrorists is clearly a massacre against innocent civilians.”

 

 

 

Posted in Airstrikes, Civilian deaths, Human rights, Iraq, President Obama, US, US government, USA | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Innocents living under drone flights: depressed, suicidal, massacred

In October last year The Intercept published an eight-piece story on the United States’ use of armed drones around the world, citing leaked documents which appeared to show that nine out of every ten people killed in a US ‘targeted killing’ (drone assassination) between May 1st and September 15th, 2012, had not been the targets of the strike. 

drone killed children

Stories which have included the fate of Mohammed Tuaiman, a Yemeni 13-year-old who died in such a strike as reported by the Guardian, further damaged America’s reputation and are in direct conflict with the political rhetoric about the use of so-called ‘precision weapons’.

The reputation of the British government is also further damaged

. . . especially when a month earlier then prime minister David Cameron announced that he had personally authorised the targeted killing of a British Citizen, Reyaad Khan, by a British Reaper drone in Syria, and  defence secretary Michael Fallon told the BBC that Britain “wouldn’t hesitate to take similar action again”.

Depression and suicide in droned communities

Those living in conflict zones have the added ever-present fear of overhead drones. This is described by Caroline Kennedy, Professor of War Studies and Head of the School of Politics, Philosophy and International Studies. She is currently working on IEDs, Drones and the effects of Drone Strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen and is the author of multiple research papers on drones: “[T]his (is a) feeling of living constantly with the noise and the threat of a strike. But [there is] also the idea that, in what are quite private communities, privacy has been violated… The idea [is] that in these essentially very religious societies, very private societies, the constant surveillance is an intrusion.” She adds:

“We see, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, high rates of depression . . .Suicide rates are worrying in those areas… How do we correlate the presence of drones with these reported rates of depression?”

Read more on this and other aspects of the subject in a detailed briefing by the Oxford Research Grouppart of The Remote Control project , a project of the Network for Social Change hosted by Oxford Research Group. It examines changes in military engagement, in particular the use of drones, special forces, private military companies and cyber warfare.

 

 

 

Posted in Afghanistan, Airstrikes, Armed drones, Civilian deaths, Drone strikes, Human rights, Pakistan, UK, US, Yemen | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barbaric US airstrikes cost $1 billion; add to this the effects of terror, injuries, killings and ruined infrastructure

 us-airstrikes-syria

Japan Times reports today that the Pentagon issued a statement about a U.S. airstrike in Syria last month killed what the Defense Department describes as a senior al-Qaida leader who once had ties to Osama bin Laden.

Full details are given on the US Department of Defense website for those who wish to read them.  

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A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, identified the target as Haydar Kirkan. The spokesman says Kirkan oversaw the planning of attacks against Western targets outside of Syria, including in Turkey.Davis says a U.S. drone carried out the airstrike Oct. 17 in the vicinity of Idlib, in western Syria. A week later they hit al-Qaida targets in Yemen and Afghanistan.

The International Business Times reports that cost of U.S. airstrikes on the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq has exceeded $1 billion, according to multiple media reports citing a Defense Department representative. The U.S.-led coalition has carried out 1,371 airstrikes in the two Middle Eastern countries since its operations began last summer, a Pentagon representative confirmed.

 

 

 

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People from these countries visited the site this week

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The so-called ‘forgotten war’? Forgotten by the media who profit from the guilty aggressors – but highlighted by unsuborned journalists

Yesterday, the Today programme referred to this horror as a ‘forgotten war’ – but it has never been forgotten by investigative journalists like Felicity Arbuthnot, who has written in detail about the savage air strikes carried out carried out by the Saudi led “coalition”, armed by the US and UK and advised by their military specialists. She indicts the collusion and co-operation of both countries which renders them, “equally culpable for the carnage”, writing:

“This heartbreak, fear and destruction has been rained down in commensurate devastation near every twenty-four hours since March 2015, Saudi Arabia is the lead culprit, but in the “coalition” are also Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait”; we note elsewhere news of Britain’s covert assistance in air surveillance of targets and – it is feared – other ‘special operations’, unsanctioned by and undisclosed to parliament”.

yemen-funeral

Air strikes that targeted a funeral gathering in the capital of Sana’a on 8 October, killing over 140 mourners and injuring 500 others attending the ceremony, have renewed international condemnation of the UK’s controversial weapons trade with Saudi Arabia. 

Theresa May defended the arms sales last month, claiming the UK’s relationship with Saudi Arabia,“helped to keep people on the streets of Britain safe

Conservative ministers have repeatedly rejected calls for a pause in weapons sales amid frequent reports of war crimes and the Government refused to give MPs a vote on the issue.

The British Government now says it will consider the terms of its lucrative arms exports to Saudi Arabia after its ally admitted responsibility for killing more than 140 mourners and injuring 500 others at a funeral in Yemen.

A few facts:

A United Nations report on children and armed conflict said the Saudi-led coalition was responsible for 60 per cent of all child causalities – 510 deaths and 667 injuries – in the conflict last year. The UN warned that while international attention has focused on Syria, more than 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen, including at least 4,000 civilians in the past 18 months alone.

Britain sold £3.3bn worth of arms between April 2015 and March 2016 alone – the first year of the Saudi-led coalition’s deadly bombing campaign in Yemen, where it intervened against Houthi rebels at President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi’s request. Tim Farron, Jeremy Corbyn and Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas are among those calling for trade to be suspended.

 

 

 

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