Would Nawaz Sharif ignore a customized drone if it hit an aircraft?
What has happened to Pakistan’s drone activists… this is not the time to be selective… you are either for or against the use of drones… the silence is shameful!
On Wednesday two missiles from a US drone were reported to have been fired at alleged insurgents at a compound in Datta Khel, Waziristan, the tribal area of Pakistan. No names have been released of the dead through official sources are claiming 7 (alleged) militants.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif claimed several months ago to be against US drone strikes but his failure to speak out in recent times and lack of action suggests he no longer has a problem with a foreign aircraft entering Pakistan’s airspace.
Imran Khan, chairman of opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) usually so outspoken on drones has been remarkably quiet also since the start of military Operation Zarb -e-Asb (named after the sword of the Prophet Muhammad) intended to clear local and foreign militants from N Waziristan.
This prolonged assault has displaced an estimated 1 million locals who have for some time been on the receiving end of drones, other aerial attacks and shelling and are now forced to abandon their homes and all they own. Their anger is no longer so contained as was seen yesterday in a demonstration by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Peshawar that were complaining of being ignored by officials.
Angry IDPs Peshawar, hit by drones, other aerial attacks and now displaced (Photo via Aamir Saeed)
Sharif and the military may be able to turn a blind eye to US drone strikes. They probably have a fair idea who will be the next likely targets within a limited area, Waziristan (and Pakistan may well be sharing intelligence and actively assisting on the ground) but will they be so complacent when drones start hitting Pakistan’s cities?
I have no doubt that this will happen. The next drones may not be US military drones but could be customized “payback” drones as insurgents develop the technology to hit back. There is already claims to suggest Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular may be exploring such possibilities.
On 4th August ABC News highlighted concerns regarding “the potential dangers of drones in the skies over New York, after a string of close calls with passenger jets” referring to 11 incidents in 30 days,. These were not large armed drones but those for personal use. They stated,
“the worry is that those small drones could do big damage to jetliners filled with passengers”
“the biggest worry is that one of these drones can be ingested by a jet engine at high power on takeoff, for instance, and shut the engine down,” (according to aviation analyst John Nance)
So what is to stop an insurgent aiming a small drone armed or unarmed at a plane or building? Is this happened Sharif would not have a moral leg to stand on given his utter complacency when drones attack Pakistan.
Alleged MQ-1 Predator drone filmed over Mosul, Iraq (photo, via David Cenciotti)
On Wednesday the BBC reported that at least 60 people have been killed in an Iraqi air strike on a building under Sunni militant control in the northern city of Mosul, officials say. There was some suggestion a drone may have been used with the intended target being an Islamic court used by jihadists according to a military spokesman for the prime minister. However Medical sources claimed a prison run by the Islamic State (IS) had been hit.
Photographs and a video were posted online earlier on 25th July suggesting that an armed US predator drone had been spotted over Mosul…a warning that strikes would likely follow. Prior to this there was also a media debate mentioned in the Washington Times about the possibility and criteria for America adding IS Caliph Abu bakr al Baghdadi to the list of drone targets (discussed with Washington Defense officials at the Pentagon). It was determined that al-Baghdadi would have to constitute a threat to the US and its interests for a strike to take place.
One more recent article that jumped out at me related to drones and Iraq was the journey of Mark Arabo, CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association in San Diego to deliver a message for President Barack Obama. This gentleman was said to be leading a coalition of people who represent Chaldean Catholics in the Middle East to meet with National Security Advisor Susan Rice and possibly with Secretary of State John Kerry. In his desire to help Christians alleged to be fleeing Mosul to escape persecution from IS, the Times of San Diego reported that Arabo planned to ask for targeted drone strikes against IS.
If Obama has indeed targeted IS by drone, an obvious question would be why is he so active here but not so regarding protecting the majority Muslim population of the Gaza strip that has seen a ferocious onslaught from Israel, (including drones) that have killed and injured thousands of civilians who cannot escape this tiny area of land. Imagine the outrage if Obama targeted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by drone yet he has been labelled a “terrorist” by several Latin American countries for alleged “war crimes”.
Why is alleged “terrorist” Benjamin Netanyahu on US “kill list”?
Any use of drones on IS but not Israel would only demonstrate the gross double standards and bizarre selection process that condemns one person to death but not another. One could argue that Netanyahu is in fact threatening the stability of the US by his actions also, what if the peaceful protests in the US in support of Gaza suddenly turn violent and threatens the safety of Jewish communities? As US terrorism analyst Max Abrahms has been keen to show lately, the incidents of racism and aggression towards Jews since the attack on Gaza have in some areas doubled.
Fox News reported that Bill Reilly of The Reilly Factor in his programme, The Rise of anti–Semitism asked Steve Bucci (Heritage Foundation) “how bad is this current anti-Semitism? Is it a dangerous situation or just an annoyance?”
Bucci replied, “well, I have to say, Bill, it’s way more than an annoyance. As you mentioned in your examples, we have problems with it here, (America), Europe is far worse. They have had major riots that have not just been anti-Israeli policy, but are blatantly anti-Jewish.”
Obama should indeed review his use of drones. If he is not careful he might find himself visited by other community leaders and this time they will be calling for a drone with Netanyahu’s name on the side! Why is is that insurgents are placed on a kill list but state terrorists are left to their deadly devices!
Civilians in Gaza rescue household items after bombardment which includes Israeli drones (photos Rina Andolini)
The very same question could be asked of Prime Minister David Cameron as the UK is so busy killing hundreds of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan by drone to protect British troops as reported in the Mirror this week. So why does the UK drone programme not extend to targeting an Israeli “terrorist” to protect the civilians of Gaza targeted in their homes, schools and hospitals?
I am someone who is totally against the use of armed drones but I feel its important to point out the hypocrisy of these leaders whose double standards are astounding. The drone has become not only a weapon of mass destruction killing many innocent civilians but also a weapon that glorifies racism as the overwhelming majority of those targeted by drone are in fact Muslims! When was the last time you heard of a Jew, Buddhist, Christian or Hindu killed by a drone?
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.