Posts Tagged ‘US Predator drones’

US steps up drone attacks, assassinations in AfPak “surge”

December 28, 2009

By Bill Van Auken, wsws.org,  Dec 28, 2009

Missiles from US Predator drones struck a village in Pakistan over the weekend, killing at least 13 people. The attack coincided with reports of intensified operations by US Special Forces killing squads on the Afghanistan side of the border.

Amounting to targeted assassinations, these forms of warfare are the most evident feature in the first stages of the “surge” ordered earlier this month by President Barack Obama, who is sending at least 30,000 more US troops into Afghanistan.

The methods are indicative of a dirty colonial-style war to suppress resistance to an occupation that is aimed at establishing Washington’s dominance in the energy-rich and strategically vital region of Central Asia.

Continues >>

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US Drone Strikes Kill at Least 60 in Pakistan

July 9, 2009

Twin Strikes Today Bring Total to Four Strikes, Nearly 100 Killed in Less than a Week

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, July 08, 2009

US Predator drones launched a pair of missile attacks at two targets in South Waziristan today, killing at least 60 and wounding an unknown number of others. The attacks are the second and third in less than 24 hours, and the fourth in less than a week.

In the first attack, drones fired six missiles at a mountaintop training camp, killing 10. Later more drones fired missiles at several vehicles 12 miles east, killing at least 50.

Yesterday, the drones had attacked another compound, killing at least 16 and wounding around 30 others. On Friday, another strike killed 17. So far there are no reports that any high profile militants have been killed in any of the strikes.

Though the Obama Administration has dramatically ratcheted up the rate and severity of the strikes since President Obama’s inauguration, the level has risen even further in recent weeks. The latest escalation seems to be coinciding with the Pakistani military’s offensive in South Waziristan, though it is unclear what role, if any, the Pakistani government had in the selection of the most recent targets.

Obama’s Undeclared War Against Pakistan Continues, Despite His Attempt to Downplay It

June 22, 2009

In a new interview, Obama said he has “no intention” of sending US troops into Pakistan. But US troops are already in the country and US drones attack Pakistan regularly.

By Jeremy Scahill, RebelReports, June 22, 2209

Three days after his inauguration, on January 23, 2009, President Barack Obama ordered US predator drones to attack sites inside of Pakistan, reportedly killing 15 people. It was the first documented attack ordered by the new US Commander in Chief inside of Pakistan. Since that first Obama-authorized attack, the US has regularly bombed Pakistan, killing scores of civilians. The New York Times reported that the attacks were clear evidence Obama “is continuing, and in some cases extending, Bush administration policy.” In the first 99 days of 2009, more than 150 people were reportedly killed in these drone attacks. The most recent documented attack was reportedly last Thursday in Waziristan. Since 2006, the US drone strikes have killed 687 people (as of April). That amounts to about 38 deaths a month just from drone attacks.

The use of these attack drones by Obama should not come as a surprise to anyone who followed his presidential campaign closely. As a candidate, Obama made clear that Pakistan’s sovereignty was subservient to US interests, saying he would attack with or without the approval of the Pakistani government. Obama said if the US had “actionable intelligence” that “high value” targets were in Pakistan, the US would attack. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, echoed those sentiments on the campaign trail and “did not rule out U.S. attacks inside Pakistan, citing the missile attacks her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, ordered against Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998. ‘If we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured,’ she said.”

Last weekend, Obama granted his first extended interview with a Pakistani media outlet, the newspaper Dawn:

Responding to a question about drone attacks inside Pakistan’s tribal zone, Mr Obama said he did not comment on specific operations.

‘But I will tell you that we have no intention of sending US troops into Pakistan. Pakistan and its military are dealing with their security issues.’

There are a number of issues raised by this brief response offered by Obama. First, the only difference between using these attack drones and using actual US soldiers on the ground is that the soldiers are living beings. These drones sanitize war and reduce the US death toll while still unleashing military hell disproportionately on civilians. The bottom line is that the use of drones inside the borders of Pakistan amounts to the same violation of sovereignty that would result from sending US soldiers inside the country. Obama defended the attacks in the Dawn interview, saying:

“Our primary goal is to be a partner and a friend to Pakistan and to allow Pakistan to thrive on its own terms, respecting its own traditions, respecting its own culture. We simply want to make sure that our common enemies, which are extremists who would kill innocent civilians, that that kind of activity is stopped, and we believe that it has to be stopped whether it’s in the United States or in Pakistan or anywhere in the world.”

Despite Obama’s comments about respecting Pakistan “on its own terms,” this is how Reuters recently described the arrangement between Pakistan and the US regarding drone attacks:

U.S. ally Pakistan objects to the U.S. missile strikes, saying they violate its sovereignty and undermine efforts to deal with militancy because they inflame public anger and bolster support for the militants.

Washington says the missile strikes are carried out under an agreement with Islamabad that allows Pakistani leaders to publicly criticise the attacks. Pakistan denies any such agreement.

Pakistan is now the biggest recipient of US aid with the House of Representatives recently approving a tripling of money to Pakistan to about $1.5 billion a year for five years. Moreover, US special forces are already operating inside of Pakistan, along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Baluchistan. According to the Wall Street Journal, US Special Forces are:

training Pakistan’s Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force responsible for battling the Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, who cross freely between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the officials said. The U.S. trainers aren’t meant to fight alongside the Pakistanis or accompany them into battle, in part because there will be so few Special Forces personnel in the two training camps.

A senior American military officer said he hoped Islamabad would gradually allow the U.S. to expand its training footprint inside Pakistan’s borders.

In February, The New York Times reported that US forces are also engaged in other activities inside of Pakistan:

American Special Operations troops based in Afghanistan have also carried out a number of operations into Pakistan’s tribal areas since early September, when a commando raid that killed a number of militants was publicly condemned by Pakistani officials. According to a senior American military official, the commando missions since September have been primarily to gather intelligence.

It is clear—and has been for a long time— that the Obama administration is radically expanding the US war in Afghanistan deeply into Pakistan. Whether it is through US military trainers (that’s what they were called in Vietnam too), drone attacks or commando raids inside the country, the US is militarily entrenched in Pakistan. It makes Obama’s comment that “[W]e have no intention of sending US troops into Pakistan” simply unbelievable.

For a sense of how significant US operations are and will continue to be for years and years to come, just look at the US plan to build an almost $1 billion massive US “embassy” in Islamabad, which is reportedly modeled after the imperial city they call a US embassy in Baghdad. As we know very clearly from Iraq, such a complex will result in an immediate surge in the deployment of US soldiers, mercenaries and other contractors.

At Least 31 Killed as US Drones Attack Kurram

February 17, 2009

Taliban Commander Reported Killed in Latest Attacks

Antiwar.com

Posted February 16, 2009

Three US Predator drones attacked a building in the Kurram Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) today, killing at least 31 people. The site was reportedly being used by the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the militant faction with whom the Pakistani government has recently been coming to terms in the Swat Valley. A commander named Bahram Khan Kochi was reportedly killed in the strike.

This is the second major US air strike against Pakistani targets in the past three days, and the fourth since President Obama took office. It is also the first strike in Kurram: so far the attacks have centered almost exclusively around neighboring North and South Waziristan.

The Pakistani government has not yet commented on the latest attack, but Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi denied claims made by Senator Feinstein last week that the US drones were using Pakistani bases for the attacks. Qureshi also denied that any understanding exists regarding the repeated US attacks.

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compiled by Jason Ditz [email the author]


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