Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What War Brings: drone bombings

WHAT WAR BRINGS: drone bombings that kill civilians

I was not going to include this in my series originally, because drone bombs have not been a part of most prior wars and occupations – they have only been around since the US-led NATO war in the former Yugoslavia. But they are a big part of today’s wars and occupations since about 2006, and I believe they always will be from now on. So, I am going to try to cover what these drones and their bombings do to ordinary civilians.

It is a very ugly picture. When we think of drone bombings, it is Pakistan that first comes to mind.

This past April, I did a post on the civilians killed by drone attacks in Pakistan.

Of the 60 cross-border predator strikes carried out by the Afghanistan-based American drones in Pakistan between January 14, 2006 and April 8, 2009, only 10 were able to hit their actual targets, killing 14 wanted al-Qaeda leaders, besides perishing 687 innocent Pakistani civilians. The success percentage of the US predator strikes thus comes to not more than six per cent.

Figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities show that a total of 701 people, including 14 al-Qaeda leaders, have been killed since January 2006 in 60 American predator attacks targeting the tribal areas of Pakistan.

Of course, not much has changed since April 2009. They are still sending drone to bomb in Pakistan. There have not been any further reports from inside Pakistan on how many were militants and how many were civilians – that I am aware of. So, in the following reports, the dead will be called militants by the US and international press, just like they were in the bombings prior to April 2009. And their claims are, most likely, just as wrong. Most likely, the majority of the dead people are unarmed civilians.

The AP reported in July that 45 militants were killed in a drone bombing in Pakistan.

The first strike took place before dawn. A suspected U.S. drone fired six missiles at a mountaintop training camp in the Karwan Manza area of South Waziristan, killing 10 militants, the intelligence officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media. The nationalities and the identities of the slain men were not immediately known. Hours later, 12 miles (20 kilometers) to the east, missiles believed fired from a U.S. drone hit four vehicles carrying Taliban militants, killing at least 35, including a key Taliban commander, one intelligence official said. He did not disclose the commander's identity. Other intelligence officials put the death toll as high as 50.

This next report from June 2009 does indicate that there were non-combatant killed.

At least 80 killed as US drones attack funeral procession

On Thursday, US drones launched an attack on a compound in South Waziristan, and when locals rushed to the scene to rescue survivors, they launched more missiles at them, leaving a total of 13 dead. The timing and target of the attack were controversial, as was the tactic of luring locals in with a first strike to maximize the kill count. Today, locals were involved in a funeral procession when the US struck again.

Pakistan: US drone strike kills at least five

A missile allegedly fired by a United States drone hit a village in Pakistan's troubled northwest border region on Friday killing at least five suspected militants and injuring others. The missile reportedly hit a house in the town of Razmak in North Waziristan tribal area, 30 km south of the district's main city, Miranshah. Including Friday's attack, 48 suspected drone air strikes have been carried out by the US since last September in the militant hotbed of northwest Pakistan. District government officials and Pakistani intelligence agencies have recorded the deaths of around 465 people as a result of the attacks.

Yeah, we’re really ‘winning those hearts and minds’ with are repeated bombings that kill hundreds and injure hundreds more. And here are a couple of reports from August, 2009:

US drone attack in South Waziristan.

Ten persons have been killed in US missile attack in South Waziristan. According to sources, US drone fired missile at militants in Kani Karam area killing ten persons. Several reportedly wounded in the attack.

Toll from Pakistan missile strike rises to 21

Nine more bodies were pulled from the rubble of houses hit by a suspected U.S. missile strike targeting a Taliban commander in northwestern Pakistan, bringing the total number of dead to 21 on Saturday. The airstrike in North Waziristan on Friday near the Afghan border was aimed at Siraj Haqqani, a Taliban commander with suspected close ties to al-Qaida who is blamed for masterminding ambushes on American troops in Afghanistan. It was unclear whether he was among the dead, intelligence officials said. Local tribal elder Safdar Khan said those killed included six children.

Too bad for the dead kids.

The number of strikes, and therefore the number of dead people (mostly civilians) has been going up under the Obama administration. Usually, there is no western reporter on the ground to document what has happened, because the area is too unsafe. The Pakistani people have been taking note, and you can bet the images have shown up on their TVs and in their newspapers. And that is why they are so adamant against these bombings and growing to hate the US more and more.

And here are some more recent reports of drone attacks in Pakistan.

This was the fourth drone attack during the last 24 hours in Waziristan. The US drone attacked in Danda Darpakhel near Miranshah – NWA’s headquarters. An earlier report had said that at least three people were killed and several others injured in an attack by US surveillance plane in North Waziristan Agency (NWA) area of Danda Darpakhel. Earlier, the US plane attacked in South Waziristan Agency’s area of Srarogha, in which five people were killed.

The overall civilian-to-militant kill ratio is estimated to be 10 to 1 or 15 to 1. Of course, this would be improved if we had better intelligence, but we never do have that, it seems.

Here is what the Pakistani Interior Minister had to say about the drone attacks:

“They’re getting mid-level people not big fish,” he said. “And they are counterproductive because they are killing civilians and turning locals against our government. We try to win people’s hearts, then one drone attack drives them away. One attack alone last week killed 50 people.”

He also claims that OBL is not in Pakistan, but in Afghanistan. The article says that 40 drone attacks have been carried out in the last 10 months, and have killed hundreds of people. And a Chief Minister in Balochistan says that drone attacks there will ‘jeopardize US interests’. This part of Pakistan is not considered part of the tribal areas, so drone bombs are going to face even more objections than they had in the tribal areas.

Drone attacks in Balochistan will jeopardise US interests’

Drone attacks in Balochistan will hamper the flow of goods and logistics to NATO troops in Afghanistan, Balochistan Chief Minister Aslam Raisani said, adding they will also jeopardise US interests in the region, a private TV channel reported on Wednesday. Talking to the channel, Raisani said there was no “Taliban shura” in Quetta and reports in the US media were “baseless and devoid of truth”. He said attacks in the area would jeopardise American interests.

And another warning:

Pakistan warns US against drone attacks

Lieutenant-General Talat Masood, a retired senior Army officer and influential strategic analyst, said drone attacks in Balochistan would be a serious breach of Pakistan's sovereignty and a threat to the alliance between the two countries.


And while drone attacks are routine in Pakistan these days, there has not been reports of drone bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan recently. That does not mean the drones are not there. The report below tells us that the CIA is setting up a drone base in Afghanistan, and it also indicates that the highest level of the Pakistan government is condoning the drone attacks that have happened so far – in spite of what they say publicly. I don’t think this can be good for the stability of the Pakistan government, to condemn actions by foreign agents that kill their own citizens while allowing the bombings to continue.

CIA sets up another drone base in Afghanistan

"Officials said the CIA now conducted most of its Predator missile and bomb strikes on targets in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region from the Jalalabad base, with drones landing or taking off almost hourly," The New York Times reported. The base in Pakistan is still in use. But officials said that the United States decided to open the Afghanistan operation in part because of the possibility that the Pakistani government, facing growing anti-American sentiment at home, might force the CIA to close the one in Pakistan," it said.

It is reportedly Blackwater who is putting the bombs on the drones in Pakistan. All part of their agenda to kill for fun and profit.

But, hey, we are going to give the Pakistani people some more ‘aid’ in the hopes that this will buy them off.

Drone targets militant stronghold

The US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, said the aid commitment approved by the Senate could help redress anti-American sentiment. "We recognize that Pakistani public opinion on the United States is surprisingly low given the tremendous effort the United States is making to lead in the international coalition in support of Pakistan," Mr Holbrooke said.

I wonder if the ‘aid’ will be non-military at least. It generally is not.

And over in Iraq, drone bombings were once common, but now seem to have stopped. But recently a drone crashed in Iraq, into the building of the Iraqi Islamic Party – the country’s largest Sunni political party. This is reported as coincidental, and that the drone was not shot down. This happened in Mosul last week.

The overall list of countries that the US has bombed over the years is quite extensive.

And our US Senate even holds discussions on how many civilian deaths are acceptable in our bombing runs. Of course, they don’t bother to actually COUNT how many they have killed on any kind of regular basis. But the number touted for the Iraq invasion was “50” and we don’t know if that has increased or decreased under the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, they are building a new drone called the Avenger. This article claims that there are 35 drones in the air at any one time.

More dead kids.

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: drone bombings that kill civilians.

GRIT TV on murdering drones

Anti-US feeling still high in Afghanistan

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