‘Into the Fire: The dangers of redeploying British armed drones after Afghanistan’

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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

The danger of ‘sending in the drones’

sun-sendinthedronesToday’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

Drones and the EU: a ‘solution’ looking for a problem

Guest post by Ben Hayes and Chris Jones.

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Today the Transnational Institute and Statewatch are jointly publishing a new report on the European Union and drones, entitled Eurodrones Inc.  Our report examines the considerable economic and political support given to the drone industry by the European Union, which has now reached a level at which we can speak of an emerging EU drone policy based on two interlinked principles. First, an urgent need to develop and use drones in Europe for a wide and as yet unlimited range of purposes. Second, the various barriers – chiefly regulatory and technical – to the introduction and routine use of drones in EU airspace must be overcome. Read more

Flawed questions undermine new UK drone poll data

questionnaireToday the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and the University of Surrey’s Centre for International Intervention (cii) have published Hitting the Target? How New Capabilities are Shaping International Intervention.  The report examines the technological, ethical and legal issues of unmanned warfare; a detailed assessment of targeted killing as a strategy as well as issues of media and public perceptions of the use of armed drones.  I shall write more on this report after I have had the chance to read it properly. Read more

If you think like Paddy Ashdown on drones, then think again

PaddyAshdownPaddy Ashdown – or Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon – to give him his proper title, former Royal Marine, intelligence service officer and leader of the Liberal Democrats has an opinion piece in the Times entitled ‘If you’re opposed to drones, then  think again’ (paywall).

Ashdown rehashes what are probably the top three pro-drone arguments.  Firstly that drones are not indiscriminate like cluster munitions so can’t be objected to because they deliver ‘smart’ bombs; if we don’t use drones our citizens and soldiers will be killed; and finally there is nothing new about remote warfare, indeed he suggest “it goes back to the Roman trebuchet.” Read more

Will UN Drone Inquiry get to the heart of the matter?

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Ben Emmerson announces UN inquiry into use of drones

The UN inquiry into the use of armed drones for targeted killing, announced yesterday by London-based UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, Ben Emmerson,  is very much to be welcomed.

Undertaken at the direct request of several states, the inquiry is also in response to what Mr Emmerson called “the increasing international concern surrounding the issue of remote targeted killing through the use of UAVs.” Read more