More British drone strikes in Afghanistan

This video from the USA is called Drone Strikes Kill Numerous Civilians.

From AFP news agency, September 6, 2013:

Sharp rise in British drone use in Afghanistan

In 2012 British drones flew 892 missions over Afghanistan — firing missiles on 92 occasions

The British military fired nearly seven times as many missiles from unmanned drones in Afghanistan last year as it did five years earlier, according to official data released on Friday.

In 2012 British drones flew 892 missions over Afghanistan — firing missiles on 92 occasions — more than 10 percent of all sorties, junior defence minister Andrew Robathan said in a written statement to parliament.This compares to 2008 when the hi-tech unmanned Reaper aircraft flew 296 missions, firing weapons just five percent of the time, on 14 occasions.Used to target suspected insurgents in Afghanistan, Britain’s Reaper drones are capable of carrying laser-guided Hellfire missiles.

Heavy use of drones by the United States has been one of the most controversial aspects of its fight against Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and beyond.

Drone fire has killed top leaders from both Islamist networks, but it has also been blamed for scores of civilian deaths.

Yemen’s revolution and drone war

This video is called Drone attacks in Yemen mostly hit civilians.

By Ramzy Baroud:

The crisis in Yemen

Monday 12 August 2013

The US panic and embassy closure in Yemen last week drew eyes towards this poverty-stricken country.

Although it is much less discussed than the crippling political upheavals in Egypt or even the unfolding crisis in Tunisia, Yemen’s ongoing conflict – complete with regular US drone killings – is as complex as either.

Since the 2011 revolution deposed strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh, a “transition” under Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi with the backing of the motley tyrannies of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) has been underway.

But a real transition would involve sincere efforts at reconciliation between the army, tribal militias and other forces battling it out in the country, as well as a rigorous challenge to the undeclared US war in the south. Alas, none of the parties of the Yemeni establishment has the sway, desire or moral authority to lead such an effort.

In one fortnight – from July 27 to August 9 this year – 34 people were killed in Yemen in US drone attacks.

The US mechanically considers all those killed to be al-Qaida terrorists, even when civilians are confirmed among the dead and wounded.

The media sometimes qualifies such statements by describing victims as “suspected militants.”

But it’s left to international human rights groups and the enraged Yemeni people themselves to try to count the civilian dead.

Entire Yemeni communities are in a constant state of panic because of the buzzing metal monsters that operate with complete disregard for international law or the country’s own sovereignty.

Frankly, it is hard to think of Yemen as either a sovereign or territorially unified nation. The country’s foreign policy has long been held hostage to the whims of outsiders.

There is a lack of trust in the central government, which has historically been corrupt and inept, and indeed has often allowed non-state actors to move in and fill the economic and security vacuums in large swathes of the country.

Prior to the January 2011 rebellion the US was the most influential outside power in Yemen. Its goal was to conduct its so-called war on terror unhindered by such irritants as international law, or even objections from the government in Sana’a.

Then president Saleh, Yemen’s dictator for 30 years, obliged. He too had his personal wars to fight and needed US consent for his family-controlled power apparatus.

Just weeks before the revolt US secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited Sana’a. She applied gentle pressure on Saleh to dissuade him from trying to eliminate term limits on his presidency, but the point of her mission was something else.

The US was seeking expansion of its “counter-terrorism” campaign. This bloody US venture involving the Pentagon and CIA has been under-reported in the West. It’s never classified as a war, partly because it is conducted under political cover from the Yemeni government and presented as mere military co-operation by two countries against their common enemy, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (Aqap).

The reality is slightly different. Much of Saleh‘s supposedly anti-Aqap efforts were in fact channelled against revolutionary forces and the political opposition that would assemble in their millions to overthrow him.

In fact, Aqap expansion was unprecedented during Yemen’s revolution – though not because of the revolution itself.

Saleh seems to have made a decision to withdraw troops from much of the country, allowing al-Qaida to launch a sudden drive to acquire territory.

Within a few months Aqap was occupying large areas in the southern governorates. This helped to strengthen Sana’a’s official line that the revolution was simply an act of terrorism. Crushing it could be part of the US “war on terror.”

The revolution persisted despite the many massacres but Saleh‘s plan did allow for increased US military involvement in the country.

Unlike in Egypt, the US in Yemen does not simply buy loyalty with a fixed subsidy and sustain a friendly rapport with the country’s army.

It requires greater control so it can conduct whatever military strategies it deems necessary. But unlike Afghanistan, Yemen is not an occupied country.

So the US has to strike a balance between military firmness and political caution. This explains the leading role it has played in negotiating a safe path for the central government, army and ruling elite – with the cosmetic exception of Saleh himself, though his son retains enormous power – to elude the uncompromising demands of the revolutionaries.

So far, the US has largely succeeded. Part of this success is due to the existing political and territorial fragmentation of Yemen.

Large parts of the north are controlled by the Houthi Shi’ite rebels. Much of the south is in the grip of the Haraki separatists.

Aqap militants have infiltrated the bulk of the country, and the political opposition in the capital lags behind the better organised and much more progressive politics of the streets.

More perhaps than with any of the other countries hit by the great upheavals of 2011, Yemen’s revolution was not treated as an opportunity for real change but as a crisis that needed management.

The GCC-brokered “power transfer initiative” was the supposed road map out of this crisis, but it hasn’t done much except replace Saleh with Hadi and open the National Dialogue Conference, which has been underway since March 18.

All this takes place under the watchful eyes of the “Friends of Yemen,” so that the process leading up to scheduled elections in 2014 needs the blessing of those foreign players with an interest in the country.

It hardly helps that the opposition is almost irrevocably split, with widening differences between the coalition partners in the Joint Meeting Parties. The army’s overthrow of Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi, for example, met with protests from the Islah Party which is considered an ally of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, but public celebrations from the other members and the Houthis.

Even if the revolution has yet to reap tangible results, the national mood is unlikely to accept half-baked solutions of the sort the US seeks.

The revolutionaries are still unbowed, the militants are regaining strength and the US intervention and drone war are escalating.

All contribute to burgeoning discontent and anti-US sentiment.

Yemen seems likely to embark on a new struggle. One whose consequences will be too serious for any disingenuous political “transitionists” to manage.

Since July 28, the US has launched nine drone strikes against targets in Yemen, killing at least 3 dozen people. The US carries out operations from bases surrounding Yemen, including installations in Saudi Arabia, Djibouti and the Seychelles. Washington has carried out 79 drone attacks against Yemen since 2002: here.

Did an 8-Year-Old Spy for America? When U.S. allies in Yemen needed help targeting an alleged al-Qaeda operative for an American drone strike, evidence suggests they turned to one of the people closest to him: here.

Yemeni journalist, jailed for drone report, freed

Democracy Now! in the USA writes about this series of two videos:

Yemeni Reporter Who Exposed U.S. Drone Strike Freed from Prison After Jailing at Obama’s Request

Prominent Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye has been released from prison after being held for three years on terrorism-related charges at the request of President Obama. Shaye helped expose the U.S. cruise missile attack on the Yemeni village of al-Majalah that killed 41 people, including 14 women and 21 children in December 2009.

Then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh announced his intention to pardon Shaye in 2011, but apparently changed his mind after a phone call from Obama. In a statement, the White House now says it is “concerned and disappointed” by Shaye’s release.

“We should let that statement set in: The White House is saying that they are disappointed and concerned that a Yemeni journalist has been released from a Yemeni prison,” says Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation, who covers Shaye’s case in “Dirty Wars,” his new book and film by the same name. “This is a man who was put in prison because he had the audacity to expose a U.S. cruise missile attack that killed three dozen women and children.”

We’re also joined by Rooj Alwazir, a Yemeni-American activist who co-founded the Support Yemen media collective and campaigned for Shaye’s release.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

Letter to Obama and Hadi on Yemeni drones: here.

US drones have been attacking targets in Yemen almost every day since intensified operations began on July 27: here.

The Drone Gender Gap: Big Differences in How Men and Women View Strikes: here.

Amnesty against drone strikes

This video says about itself:

May 24, 2013

In Pakistan alone, it is estimated that more than 3,000 people have died in drone attacks since 2003 – many of them civilians.

Pakistan’s Government has repeatedly condemned drone strikes and the man poised to become the next Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, has called on Washington to end strikes inside the country.

Shahzad Mirza Akbar, a human rights lawyer based in Pakistan, speaks to Al Jazeera about US drone strikes.

He says Sharif has to convince the US to stop the use of drones, otherwise he will be facing legal consequences for not protecting his own citizens.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Amnesty: US drone strikes seem illegal

Thursday 23 May 2013

Amnesty International has delivered a damning indictment of the Obama administration’s use of drone strikes overseas and questioned its legality.

Amnesty said on Wednesday that US drone policy, which is shrouded in secrecy, appears to carry out extrajudicial killings that violate international rights laws.

“Our view is that the legal basis is quite unclear,” said secretary general Salil Shetty.

“We have issues with how the US defines the ‘theatre of war,’ a very broad definition which allows it free rein to use drones and other weapons under a very wide set of circumstances.”

Mr Shetty said its researchers found that people in Pakistan are “living in constant fear even in very remote areas.”

In a wide-ranging report on civil rights, Amnesty said that “available information, limited by secrecy, indicated that US policy permitted extrajudicial executions in violation of international human rights law under the US theory of a ‘global war’ against al-Qaida and associated groups.”

President Obama defended his administration’s reliance on drone strikes in a speech at the National Defence University today.

On the eve of the speech, US Attorney-General Eric Holder acknowledged for the first time that four US citizens had been killed by drone strikes since 2009.

The US government has targeted and killed one US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, and three other US citizens killed by drones were not targeted.

They were Samir Khan, who was killed in the same drone strike as Mr Awlaki, Mr Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman, and Jude Kenan Mohammed, who was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan.

Civil liberties groups and an unusual coalition of Democrats and Republicans have criticised the White House for keeping details of the drone programme secret.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed lawsuits against the government over the drone attacks that killed the three US citizens in Yemen in 2011.

A vast majority of Pakistanis resent American drone strikes, which they believe have killed hundreds of innocent citizens since the program began in 2004: here.

Killing Americans: Jeremy Scahill on Obama Admin’s Admission 4 U.S. Citizens Died in Drone Strikes: here.

Obama makes limp drone attack pledge: here.

Yemen dictatorship supporters dismissed

This video says about itself:

Yemen Opposition Calls for Massive Campaign to Oust Dictator

Sep 7, 2011

Walid Al-Saqaf: Opposition has united with students to intensify campaign to overthrow President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Protesters pack up camps after victory

Friday 19 April 2013

by Our Foreign Desk

Traffic returned to city centres across Yemen for the first time in more than two years today as activists decided to call time on their protest camps.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis took to the streets on the day Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak resigned in February 2011, calling for their own President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down.

Mr Saleh agreed to give up his 33-year grip on power in November 2011 following daily protest marches and rallies across numerous cities in Yemen.

His vice-president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi was elected unopposed the following February.

Protesters stayed in their their camps, dubbed Freedom and Change Squares, calling on Mr Hadi to push for full-scale reforms and purge the state of Mr Saleh’s relatives and supporters.

They held a “Friday of Victory” rally last week following a shake-up of the military that removed Saleh loyalists from key positions.

The Organisational Committee of the Popular Youth Revolution and Youth Groups announced the dismantling of the camps on Thursday.

Committee member Habib al-Ariqi said the groups would commit themselves to “revolutionary oversight” of the National Dialogue – a six-month series of talks involving most sections of Yemeni society aimed at redrawing Yemen’s political map. But he warned that the option to return to the squares was “open.”

Nobel peace prize-winning “mother of the revolution” Tawakol Karman said protests were starting a new phase.

“We declare that we toppled the rule of the family forever and we have a new revolution to cleanse the state from corruption,” she said.

United States wars, new film

This video from the USA says about itself:

Jan 22, 2013 – Premiering this week at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, the new documentary, “Dirty Wars: The World Is a Battlefield,” follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill to Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen as he chases down the hidden truths behind America’s expanding covert wars. We’re joined by Scahill and the film’s director, Rick Rowley, an independent journalist with Big Noise Films.

“We’re looking right now at a reality that President Obama has essentially extended the very policies that many of his supporters once opposed under President Bush,” says Scahill, author of the bestseller “Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army,” and a forthcoming book named after his film.

“One of the things that humbles both of us is [when] you arrive at a village in Afghanistan and knock on someone’s door, you’re the first American they’ve seen since the Americans that kicked that door in and killed half their family,” Rowley says. “We promised them that we would do everything we could to make their stories be heard in the U.S. — finally, we’re able to keep those promises.”

Watch this interview uninterrupted: