By: Hassan O. Horri
Somalilandsun – In an adamant campaign to attack al-Qaeda outside US soil, a range of secret drone bases were assembled in the Horn of Africa. It has been mounted in Ethi¬o¬pia, Kenya, Seychelles and Djibouti. Recently, US newspapers revealed another secret CIA drone base in SA. Drones have been used to carry out lethal attacks in at least six countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.
Cross-border strikes by the Predator and Reaper drones are never discussed overtly but the clandestine war met a rare flash of public scrutiny on Thursday, Feb.7, when its chief architect, John Brennan, the White House counterterrorism adviser, faced a Senate confirmation hearing as President Obama’s nominee for the 21st director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
The white house has stooped to the load from Congress to release its legal way of thinking for the killing of US citizens by armed drones. A 50 page legal validation was finally dispatched to the Senate Intelligence Committee. But this time the assassination of an American teenager is involved, not like the secretive US airstrikes that have killed thousands in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.
Loss of 16 year old, Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, a Denver native intensified the legal and moral darkness of the campaign to kill alleged “enemies of the state” outside of conventional war zones. On September 2012 Last year, the youngster was eliminated in Yemen by the US drones.
A confidential Justice Department memo wraps up that the U.S. government can order the killing of American citizens, if they are believed to be “senior operational leaders” of al-Qaida or “an associated force”. A 16-page memo, a copy of which was obtained by NBC News, bestow with new details about the legal justification of Obama’s most secretive and notorious policy.
The targeted killing program is popular amid USA and has won bipartisan patronage. It is the only national security policy that Mitt Romney didn’t squabble about and promptly endorsed it during his last debate with President Obama. The CIA director-designate, as well, preserves it as a more humane outline of warfare. He said that “extraordinary care” is taken to ensure it conforms to the “law of war principles.”
Though it denies the rights of others to live in peace and dignity, the new order for the warfare protects US combatants from recurring back with dead bodies, missing limbs and posttraumatic stress.
The designer of the project, John Brennan, ran the national counter-terrorism centre under President Bush. He initiated the strategy to combat the terror. On June 2011, speaking at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Brennan told the audience, “This is the first counterterrorism strategy that designates the homeland as a primary area of emphasis in our counterterrorism efforts.” Drone strikes are a range of military convenience with no foots in the ground and no American casualties. The US system protects this technology that guarantees combatants to come back home safe.
The entire blueprint and the regulations surrounding the “war on terror” persist under cynical state of affairs. The new command allows US to select and reduce targets, handcuff and blind off prisoners, and maneuver on any foreign soil, at any time, without consents. Hence, USA is the claimant, witness, jury, judge and executioner at the same time.
Now, 11 years after the September 11 attack and 21 months behind the death of Osama Bin laden, it is a high time to argue how long is America defensible in using drones in periling the lives of an innocent people?
Last week, UN rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights pronounced a major investigation into drone strikes. They will scrutinize the extent of casualties caused to the civilians, and the long run consequences of drone smacks.
For years several states requested The UN to enquire what was going in the ground, but it could have never been facilitate but for the killing of the American citizens. Now the toothless UN will officially look into the cases of Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Palestine.
An independent organization, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, estimates that over 500 “CIA drone strikes” in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have killed between 3,000 and 5,000 people. The Bureau registered 10-23 US strikes with a total of 58-170 killed in Somalia. The sudden increase of using drone attacks, during first term of President Obama, drags horde of scratchy concerns. One of the most insightful has to make with outshine the verge to use force on civilians in a friendly country.
US, UK and France operate clandestine operations in Somalia. In a confidential Letter dated 27 June 2012, members of the Monitoring Group on Somalia and Eritrea, the UN monitors, recorded 64 unauthorized flights over Somalia between June 2011 and April 2012. Almost a quarter of the flights were either US drones or ‘unidentified’ aircraft.
The UN Monitors exposed that The US has carried out covert operations in Somalia as early as September 2001. From 2007 selected troops from the Pentagon’s JSOC took advantage of Ethiopia’s incursion to carry out a number of targeted killings. In 2011, US armed drones began operating in Somalia.
Operations may accidentally encompass attacks on civilians and breached the existing international laws. Both ICRC and MSF-Switzerland have protested against illegal air intervention in Somalia. They uttered their grievances to the UN after airstrikes targeted respectively an IDP camp in Jilib, Middle Jubba, and a nutritional centre in Baardheere, Gedo of Somalia.
Terrorists are a threat to all of us and more menace to their countrymen and hosting nations. People in targeted countries denounce anyone who offers their home as safe space for tribulations. In fact they are willing to join forces with whoever is affianced in fighting the terror. But, they are seeking a different approach that might spare the lives of native innocent children and responsible parents.
With apparent impunity, regrettably, drones defy the sovereignty of nations which alienate the locals to turn against the identity and the interests of US. A joint Stanford University-NYU demonstrates that the “drones presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities.
Let us evoke the words of President Obama upon his acceptance of the Nobel Award:”I believe that all nations—strong and weak alike—must adhere to standards that govern the use of force.”Does he?
Hassan O. Horri is a Somali journalist and commentator on African/Middle East Issues based in Hargeisa, Somaliland. Follow @horrimania. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org