This week marks six months since the parliamentary vote that committed Britain to a new war in Iraq. British and US air strikes continue to take place on a daily basis though now virtually unmentioned in parliament and the press. In the past, national media poured over every detail of British military campaigns, evaluating progress, printing maps and eye-witness accounts, even having breathless reporters on the evening news counting aircraft out and counting them back in. In parliament MP’s questioned ministers and senior commanders in committee rooms while debating strategy from the back benches. By stark contrast today’s war in Iraq receives little such attention seemingly because it is being waged by strike aircraft and remote-controlled drones after politicians vowed not to deploy troops. With less ‘skin in the game’ it seems that war in Iraq is yesterday’s news. Read more
Originally published by The Guardian
For anyone concerned about the use of drones, or ‘remotely piloted aircraft’ as the industry insists on calling them, the nature of recent coverage has been somewhat perturbing. With the normalisation of the use of military drones, media interest has waned and reporters now seems far more interested in writing about toy drones landing on the White House lawn than the White House’s use of drones for targeted assassination. Just this week much ink has been spilt covering the arrest of an amateur pilot for thoughtlessly flying a drone near Parliament while the use of armed British drones in Syria – breaching absolute assurances by the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon against mission creep – has not received a mention. Read more
The use of armed drones to launch lethal strikes around the globe is rapidly becoming normalised. Despite widespread ethical, political and legal misgivings and the danger to global peace and security from the precedent that such strikes set, US, British and Israeli drones carried out numerous strikes in the first few weeks of 2015. Pictures of an apparent Chinese armed drone that had crashed in Nigeria also surfaced in a worrying sign of the further spread of such systems. Read more
Five years ago the suggestion that within a decade drone strikes would be taking place on a regular basis in multiple countries with little notice by the mainstream media or the general public seemed far-fetched to many. Today, with drone strikes being undertaken in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Iraq and Syria, and no doubt Libya again too soon (and not to forget the regular sporadic bursts of Israeli strikes in Gaza) such a prediction looks a lot more likely, if not a certainty. Read more
As NATO military operations come to an end in Afghanistan and the MoD faces a judicial review over its refusal to detail where UK drones will next be sent, Drone Wars UK is publishing a new briefing on the dangers of re-deploying UK armed drones.
The UK has used armed drones to undertake airstrikes since 2004, either in conjunction with the US or utilizing its own fleet of armed Reapers acquired in 2007. And increasingly it seems the UK is relying on its Reaper drones to undertake airstrikes, with Ministry of Defence figures showing the percentage of British airstrikes in Afghanistan undertaken by drones rising from 52% in 2009/10 to 82% in 2013/14.
Although the UK has committed to continue to operate its Reaper drones, due to air safety regulations they would simply not be allowed to fly in British airspace. So far the MoD have refused to reveal where their long-term home will be – locations in the Middle East or Africa are the most likely option – but it is difficult to be certain without Read more
Today’s Sun calls for the deployment of British drones to attack ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Rupert Murdoch thus joins a small but vocal chorus (including Liam Fox and Jack Straw) calling for the UK to join in with US airstrikes.
Over the past few weeks many commentators and campaigners and indeed senior politicians and military officials have argued, as the PM David Cameron did again on Radio 4 this morning that there is no simple military solution to the crisis in Syria/Iraq. Indeed, as many have stated, military intervention in Iraq help to create ISIS and caused the situation that we now face. Nevertheless we are beginning to see more and more voices calling for the use of armed drones. Read more