Unmanned CIA drones strikes have continued this week in Pakistan with seven people killed in a strike on an Afghan refugee camp in North Waziristan on Sunday (10th Oct) , eight killed in a strike on Wednesday (13th Oct) four of whom were alleged to be from Turkmenistan and early reports suggesting between three and six people killed in a strike today (15th Oct). Meanwhile a new report this week from American NGO CIVIC (Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict) challenges the official line that civilian casualties from drone attacks are very low. CIVIC researchers spent a year on the ground interviewing victims of conflict including drone strike victims:
Gul Nawaz, from North Waziristan, was watering his fields when he heard the explosion of drone missiles: “I rushed to my house when I heard the blast. When I arrived I saw my house and my brother’s house completely destroyed and all at home were dead.” Eleven members of Gul Nawaz’s family were killed, including his wife, two sons and two daughters as well as his elder brother, his wife, and his four children. “Yes, the drone strikes hurt the Taliban. Most of the strikes are effective against the Taliban but sometimes innocent people also become the victim of such attacks. Take my case … ” said Gul Nawaz. “I blame the government of Pakistan and the USA … they are responsible for destroying my family. We were living a happy life and I didn’t have any links with the Taliban. My family members were innocent … I wonder, why was I victimized?”
As Middle Eastern history Professor Juan Cole says in a piece this week by Johann Harri of The Independent “When you bomb people and kill their family, it pisses them off. They form lifelong grudges… This is not rocket science. If they were not sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qa’ida before, after you bomb the shit out of them, they will be.”
There continues to be no information released about the use of armed drones in Afghanistan although it is certain that they are being used with pictures of the newest British Reaper drone arriving at Kandahar appearing today.
Drone proliferation also continues with Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) signing a $400m deal this week to supply Russian company Oboronprom with drone ‘kits’ for assembly in Russia.
“The main aim of our project is to develop a centre or competence of world-class unmanned vehicle manufacturing in Russia,” says Oboronprom director general Andrey Reus. “In co-operation with IAI we expect to become a major player in the market within the shortest possible time.”
Writing in the Financial Times this week, just two days before suspended from the parliamentary Labour Party over allegations about his expenses, former European Minister Denis MacShane argued that European governments need to combine to build ‘Eurodrone’ to export around the world.
“The model should be that of a Kalashnikov [machine gun]: a robust, simple to make and easy to use design to which other specifications can be added as needs arise. This will require some surrendering of national military-industrial prerogatives. But just as the Airbus successfully replaced failed national aircraft such as the Comet or Caravelle, a Eurodrone could showcase Europe’s ability to produce a world-class model for worldwide export.”
Hopefully, with MacShane as its advocate, ‘Eurodrone’ will remain stuck on the drawing board.