Mq-9 armed with two gbu-12 226kg laser-guided bombs and four hellfire air-to-ground missiles "reaper" in afghanistan. Image: u.S. Air force
One report lists the number of civilians killed. The numbers are considered implausible, drone strikes in afghanistan, syria and iraq were not taken into account
Last friday, the white house released for the first time figures on civilian casualties killed in the course of the drone war during barack obama’s presidency. According to the three-page paper, 473 drone attacks took place in pakistan, libya, somalia and yemen from 2009 to 2015. In the process, between 2.372 and 2.581 "terrorist fighters" and 64 to 116 civilians killed.
The figures released have been strongly questioned by observers and critics alike. The reason for this is that even the most conservative estimates of civilian drone casualties exceed the white house figures. According to the bureau of investigative journalism (tbij), a london-based journalism group, more than 800 civilians were killed by u.S. Drone strikes in the aforementioned states during the period. If the bush administration was included, the civilian death toll was over 1.000 were.
Further, the tbij concluded that only four percent of the identified drone victims from pakistan had been members of al qaeda. The narrative of the precise drone that only kills terrorists is therefore still a myth that exists in the minds of western politicians and is illustrated once again by the paper that has now been published.
"The publication of this data is a welcome step towards more transparency. However, we still do not have information on individual attacks, especially those that we have observed to have killed a high number of civilians. This makes it impossible for us to compare our figures with those of the white house", says jack serle of the tbij.
"The weibe house has not even sorted its data by year or country. As a result, we are still unable to assess the extent to which the drone war has been waged since obama’s first strike on january 23. January 2009, in which at least nine civilians were killed", serle adds.
"They don’t know themselves who they are killing"
The question also remains open as to what makes a civilian or a "terrorist fighter" makes out. It became known several years ago that, according to the u.S. Administration, every able-bodied male in the vicinity of the attack area had killed an enemy combatant "enemy combatant" represents. This practice degrades every afghan, somali, yemeni or any other man who is hit by a drone strike to a terrorist.
"The numbers published are too low. They are not different and they are not new. The cia has published inaccurate figures before. And why are they talking about 64 to 116 casualties at all?? In my opinion, this only shows that they themselves do not know who they are killing", says mirza shahzad akbar, a pakistani lawyer. Akbar has become known for legally representing drone victims.
Woman’s house: failed transparency over drone warfare
mq-1a "predator" with hellfire air-to-ground missiles. Image: u.S. Air force
"The figures cited concern four states. However, in 2006 alone, at least eighty schoolchildren were killed by a single drone attack in pakistan", stresses akbar, who works with the british human rights organization reprieve, among others. Akbar has already been denied entry to the u.S. Three times. Exact reasons never given. However, it is obvious that the actions of u.S. Authorities have to do with akbar’s work.
There is no data on iraq, syria or afghanistan in the report now made public. In all three countries, drone attacks are part of everyday life. Afghanistan remains the most drone-bombed country in the world. In this context, the u.S. Administration points out that these landers are considered so-called "conventional war zones" apply.
U.S. Has set precedent
A few days ago, u.S. Journalist bilal abdul kareem became the target of a drone attack near aleppo. Abdul kareem, one of the last western reporters on the scene, survived the attack but still does not know who was responsible.
Armed drones are being used in syria by the u.S. As well as russia, iran and the u.K. However, abdul kareem holds the usa mainly responsible for the attempted assassination. These, according to abdul kareem, have after all set the precedent for such assassination attacks.