US drone warfare has become a global phenomenon in last decade: Rick Rozoff

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A political commentator says the United States’ deadly drone warfare has become a global phenomenon in the last decade, adding that the CIA drone strikes inside Pakistan could continue for many years to come.

Rick Rozoff, a member of the Stop NATO International, made the remarks in a telephone interview with Press TV on Tuesday, commenting on reports saying that an end to the US occupation of Afghanistan would complicate the CIA drone war in neighboring Pakistan.

“Recently, reports have indicated that the United States’ federal government, but particularly the Central Intelligence Agency, which is in charge of drone warfare in South Asia and Afghanistan and Pakistan, is concerned that with the governmental transition in Kabul and  with the prospect of a bilateral security agreement not looking as good as Washington would like them to look, and with eventual drawdown of the US and allied NATO troops from Afghanistan,   that the US’ ability to continue conducting deadly drone warfare inside neighboring Pakistan could be severely affected, could be diminished,” Rozoff said.

“Since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, particularly since the advent of the Barack Obama administration in Washington, for the last five years or so, the intensification of the drone warfare inside Pakistan has reached unprecedented levels,” he added.

“By some estimates, including those linked to the Pakistani military and intelligence services, somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 percent of the victims of the US drone attacks have been the Pakistani civilians,” Rozoff stated.

“And of course we know that the drone warfare has become a global phenomenon in the past decade, with the US also launching lethal drone attacks in Afghanistan as well as Pakistan, earlier for a brief period in Iraq, and fairly extensively in Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and no doubt in Africa, perhaps about being acknowledged in countries like Mali, the Central African Republic,” he noted.

“But the foundation upon which the program was built, the precedent, was of course and is Pakistan largely where the larger amounts of drone strikes have been conducted and where the larger amounts of civilian deaths have been registered.  So there is a discussion at with the ascension to power of a new government in Afghanistan, and with the US eventually, if in fact it truly does, withdraws its military from Afghanistan, the ability of the Central Intelligence Agency working in the unison with the military to conduct the drone strikes inside Pakistan could be affected,” Rozoff said.

“However, there’s also discussion that the US, which’s upgraded and modernized substantially airbases in Afghanistan, in Bagram, in Kandahar, in Shindand, and in other locations, could continue to wage effectively secretive drone warfare  either unannounced to the incoming government in Afghanistan or with their silent complicity or connivance. And this would represent a continued threat of course to the lives of Pakistani nationals, civilians in the first place in northwest Pakistan, and perhaps in Baluchistan,” he stated.

The US military has used the unmanned aircraft in several Muslim countries, including Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Washington claims that its airstrikes target militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims of the attacks. The UN has called the US drone attacks targeted killings that flout international law.

Last month, a UN human rights investigator said that the death toll of civilians in US drone strikes in Afghanistan and Yemen continues to rise.

Ben Emmerson made the remarks during a press conference in Geneva on March 12 after he presented a report on dozens of US drone strikes where civilians allegedly perished to the UN Human Rights Council.

He stated that there was a threefold increase in drone-related civilian deaths between 2012 and 2013 in Afghanistan.

Emmerson also warned that the escalation in drone strikes and civilian casualties in Yemen is a cause for concern.

“And the picture in Yemen remains cause for serious concern. The frequency of armed drone strikes appears to have intensified, particularly during the closing months of 2013, with a sharp escalation in the number of reported civilian casualties,” he stated.

Emmerson said the US has de-escalated the use of drone strikes in Pakistan as a result of growing criticism in Pakistan and abroad.

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