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.
VICE World News got their hands on formerly secret plans that, combined with a recent Pentagon report, detail the failures of US Commandos in Africa over the past two years. The report shows a 43 percent spike in militant Islamist activity and sharp increases in violence in 2020 as part of a steady and uninterrupted rise over the last decade. Just days before this story dropped, US special operations troops announced they had launched a mission to assist counterterrorism forces in Mozambique. Nick Turse looks into the shadowy world of US Special Operations programs and questions whether President Biden will shine light about what commandos are doing and where they’re doing it.
Happy Sunshine Week! Rights groups called on the Biden administration to reinstate transparency measures and reveal the civilian death toll from its covert drone program. Bloomberg’s Editorial Board echoed that call, saying the “government’s obfuscation about drone strikes harms the national interest.” Task & Purpose examined the Pentagon’s misleading statements on troop levels, airstrikes and COVID vaccinations and shows how the Pentagon continually fails at transparency.
Saudi and Yemeni officials said recent moves by President Biden to disentangle the U.S. from the grinding six-year civil war appear to have emboldened Houthi fighters. Last month, the Houthis launched more drone and missile strikes than in any other month during the conflict, U.S. officials say. [WSJ / Dion Nissenbaum]
Airwars released a new report on the 10th anniversary of NATO’s intervention in Libya. The report shows that Gaddafi forces were responsible for the great majority of locally reported civilian harm, killing between 869 and 1,999 civilians in the 105 incidents examined by Airwars. NATO may have killed far more civilians than previously understood, according to local Libyan reports. In total, Airwars has identified between 223 and 403 likely civilian deaths linked to NATO airstrikes. Almost none of those who lost family members have received compensation or condolences from either Libyan officials or NATO member states. [Airwars]
COMMENTARY: “It’s been ten years since the first NATO airstrikes targeted Gaddafi’s forces during the “Arab Spring,” turning the tide in the country’s civil war and helping bring down the brutal dictator. In that decade there have been intermittent periods of calm, but the threat of often arbitrary death from the skies has never disappeared.” [Responsible Statecraft / Oliver Imhof]
India will buy 30 armed drones worth $3 billion from US under major defence deal [National Herald India]
Combat Drones Made in China Are Coming to a Conflict Near You [Bloomberg]
Made-in-Canada airstrike gear used in Armenian – Azerbaijani conflict was earmarked for Turkey [Public Radio of Armenia / Siranush Ghazanchyan]
COMMENTARY: “Failure to think about new military technologies makes it more likely that these systems could be used in reckless ways and, if used, could lead to unplanned escalation. It is important to take this problem seriously, because we are in the early stage of a long- term arms race with advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, hypersonic missiles, cyber weapons, drones and the like.” [The Hill / Paul Bracken]