This roundup, curated by ReThink Media, looks at how the media is talking about drone warfare (and related topics) and what stories are being told.
With little transparency from governments on this topic, this roundup aims to be as comprehensive as possible, identifying breaking news, trends, developing stories, or interesting narratives. Rethink Media also use media coverage to compile a snapshot of strikes each week. The short version can be read here.
US and allied forces’ continued airstrikes across the Middle East, North Africa, and Afghanistan over the holidays.
December 30: The Taliban told reporters that six civilians died after a drone attacked a house a local resident in the Bala Baluk district, who was hosting his relative, who had recently been released from prison. [Urdupoint / Faizan Hashmi]
On Thursday, AFRICOM reported that it had killed 5 militants, including high-ranking leaders of al-Shabaab in Somalia. [Garowe]
The air campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria continues, as the U.S. withdraws forces from the region and the operation has largely fallen off the public’s radar. Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve on Jan. 6 disclosed that throughout November 2020, the coalition conducted 14 airstrikes consisting of 34 total engagements in Iraq and Syria. In Iraq, this included 22 engagements resulting in 35 ISIS fighters killed and one weapons cache destroyed. In Syria, the coalition conducted seven strikes consisting of 12 engagements, though the results of those strikes were not disclosed. [Air Force Association / Brian Everstine]
January 3rd marked the first anniversary of the US assassination of Iranian Gen. Solemani
Tens of thousands of supporters of Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary groups chanted anti-American slogans in central Baghdad on Sunday to mark the anniversary. [Reuters / Maher Nazeh]
The inside story of how Iran’s top general was followed by his enemies from Damascus to Beirut before meeting his demise in Baghdad. [Middle East Eye / Suadad al-Salhy]
The FBI is investigating the breach of an air traffic control system after someone broadcast a threat to fly a plane into the US Capitol building on Wednesday as revenge for the killing a year ago of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, according to a source familiar with the probe. The threat did not appear credible, multiple sources told CNN. [CNN] [Gizmodo / Brianna Provenzanno]
Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are set to resume as violence continues to increase
Drones become Taliban’s latest weapon in Afghan war [Arab News / Sayed Salahuddin]
What is Biden going to do about America’s post-9/11 wars and the policies resulting from them?
COMMENTARY: “In his memoirs, the former U.S. president seems uninterested in a critical appraisal of his drone policies. Considering the human suffering caused by America’s drone wars, Joe Biden should not make the same mistake.” [FP / Emran Feroz]
Buried inside the massive $2.3 trillion spending package passed by Congress on Monday was a $286 million lifeline for General Atomics that will keep the Air Force buying MQ-9 Reaper drones at least one more year. [Defense News / Valerie Insinna]
COMMENTARY: Why Germany won’t get armed drones [Defense One / Elisabeth Braw]
RELATED: Iran tests drones in military exercises [Reuters]
COMMENTARY: “The world has entered an era of drone wars. In four major interstate wars in the last five years.. armed drones played a dominant, perhaps decisive, role. And yet the debates about drones still center on their use against nonstate actors, such as the Taliban, or speculation about their potential role in wars between the United States and near competitors, such as China.” [Foreign Affairs / Jason Lyall]