Ibrahim Mothana: How Drones Help Al Qaeda

An Op-ed in The New York Times from Ibrahim Mothana attempts to explain to supporters of President Obama’s drone wars why civilian casualties are hurting their cause:

“DEAR OBAMA, when a U.S. drone missile kills a child in Yemen, the father will go to war with you, guaranteed. Nothing to do with Al Qaeda,” a Yemeni lawyer warned on Twitter last month. President Obama should keep this message in mind before ordering more drone strikes like Wednesday’s, which local officials say killed 27 people, or the May 15 strike that killed at least eight Yemeni civilians.

Drone strikes are causing more and more Yemenis to hate America and join radical militants; they are not driven by ideology but rather by a sense of revenge and despair. Robert Grenier, the former head of the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center, has warned that the American drone program in Yemen risks turning the country into a safe haven for Al Qaeda like the tribal areas of Pakistan — “the Arabian equivalent of Waziristan.”

Mr. Mothana goes on to write:

Misleading intelligence has also led to disastrous strikes with major political and economic consequences. An American drone strike in May 2010 killed Jabir al-Shabwani, a prominent sheik and the deputy governor of Marib Province. The strike had dire repercussions for Yemen’s economy. The slain sheik’s tribe attacked the country’s main pipeline in revenge. With 70 percent of the country’s budget dependent on oil exports, Yemen lost over $1 billion. This strike also erased years of progress and trust-building with tribes who considered it a betrayal given their role in fighting Al Qaeda in their areas.

Yemeni tribes are generally quite pragmatic and are by no means a default option for radical religious groups seeking a safe haven. However, the increasing civilian toll of drone strikes is turning the apathy of tribal factions into anger.

Read more here.

Obama administration pushing for extension of troop presence in Afghanistan until 2024

Afghan and American officials are hoping to sign an agreement before the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan in December that would see U.S troops remain in Afghanistan until 2024. Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai agreed last week to escalate the negotiations and their national security advisers will meet in Washington in September.

Rangin Dadfar Spanta, President Karzai’s top security adviser, told The Daily Telegraph that “remarkable progress” had been made. US officials have said they would be disappointed if a deal could not be reached by December and that the majority of small print has been agreed upon.

Dr Spanta said a longer-term presence is crucial to build Afghan forces and to fight terrorism.

“If [the Americans] provide us weapons and equipment, they need facilities to bring that equipment,” he said. “If they train our police and soldiers, then those trainers will not be 10 or 20, they will be thousands.

“We know we will be confronted with international terrorists. 2014, is not the end of international terrorist networks and we have a common commitment to fight them. For this purpose also, the US needs facilities.”

Afghan forces would still need support from US fighter aircraft and helicopters, he predicted. In the past, Washington officials have estimated a total of 25,000 troops may be needed.

Dr Spanta added: “In the Afghan proposal we are talking about 10 years from 2014, but this is under discussion.” America would not be granted its own bases, and would be a guest on Afghan bases, he said.

The agreement would allow not only military trainers to stay to build up the Afghan army and police, but also American special forces soldiers and air power.

The impending deal has already been met with anger among Afghanistan’s neighbors including Iran and Pakistan and risks being rejected by the Taliban, derailing any attempts at negotiations, according to one senior member of Hamid Karzai’s peace council.

A withdrawal of American troops has already begun following an agreement to hand over security for the country to Kabul by the end of 2014, but some Afghans are wary of being abandoned and would like America to remain after the deadline. Many analysts also believe the American military would like to retain a presence close to Pakistan, Iran and China.

Andrey Avetisyan, Russian ambassador to Kabul, said: “Afghanistan needs many other things apart from the permanent military presence of some countries. It needs economic help and it needs peace. Military bases are not a tool for peace.

“I don’t understand why such bases are needed. If the job is done, if terrorism is defeated and peace and stability is brought back, then why would you need bases?

“If the job is not done, then several thousand troops, even special forces, will not be able to do the job that 150,000 troops couldn’t do. It is not possible.”

A complete withdrawal of foreign troops has been a precondition for any Taliban negotiations with Karzai’s government and the deal would wreck the currently distant prospect of a negotiated peace, Mr Avetisyan said.

Abdul Hakim Mujahid, deputy leader of the peace council set up by Mr Karzai to seek a settlement, said he suspected the Taliban had intensified their insurgency in response to the prospect of the pact. “They want to put pressure on the world community and Afghan government,” he said.

Al Qaida confirms Osama Bin Laden’s death…

The world’s most notorious terrorist organization released a statement about the death of their infamous leader. The statement, dated May 3, was the first by the group since Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy SEALS in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

“We stress that the blood of the holy warrior sheik, Osama bin Laden, God bless him, is precious to us and to all Muslims and will no go in vain,” the statement said. “We will remain, God willing, a curse chasing the Americans and their agents, following them outside and inside their countries..Soon, God willing, their happiness will turn to sadness, their blood will be mingled with their tears.”

The statement also called on the people of Pakistan “where Sheik Osama was killed” to rise up in revolt against its leaders.

The authenticity of the statement could not be confirmed, but was posted on websites where the group traditionally puts its messages. Bin Laden’s successor has not been named but many experts believe his deputy Ayman al-Zawahri will likely take his place.

Ding dong the bitch is dead, now meet the house that fell on him…

Osama bin Laden finally, nearly a decade after the September 11th terrorist attacks, met his demise in a pre-dawn raid on his compound by a group of elite Navy SEALS from the Joint Special Operations Command. Soldiers from SEAL Team Six, also known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group are considered to be the most elite warriors in the US military.

JSOC is headquartered at Pope Air Force Base and Fort Bragg in North Carolina. It’s made up of the Army’s Delta Force, SEAL Team Six, Army Rangers and the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. JSOC performs strike operations, reconnaissance in denied areas and special intelligence missions. For much of the Bush administration, JSOC was run by Gen. Stanley McChrystal. JSOC’s primary function was to eliminate individuals considered to be “High Value Targets.” McChrystal’s successor at JSOC, Vice Admiral William McRaven, is himself a former SEAL.

Retired Special Forces officer Col. W. Patrick Lang described JSOC’s forces as “sort of like Murder, Incorporated.” In an interview with The Nation magazine he said “Their business is killing al Qaeda personnel. That’s their business. They’re not in the business of converting anybody to our goals or anything like that.” He also said JSOC’s operators are the “most dangerous people on the face of the earth.”

General Hugh Shelton former Chair of the Joint Chiefs said of JSOC “They’re the ace in the hole. If you were a card player, that’s your ace that you’ve got tucked away,” and that they are “a surgical type of unit, if you need someone that can sky dive from thirty miles away, and go down the chimney of the castle, and blow it up from the inside, those are the guys you want to call on.”…”They are the quiet professionals. They do it, and do it well, but they don’t brag about it. Someone has to toot their horn for them, because they won’t, normally.”

From Ghazi Air Base in Pakistan, modified MH-60 helicopters flew to the suburb of Abbottabad, where Bin Laden’s acre-large million dollar compound was located, about 30 miles from the center of Islamabad. Aboard these helicopters were Navy SEALS, tactical signals, intelligence collectors, and navigators using highly classified hyperspectral imagers. After a 40 minute firefight, 22 people were killed or captured and the face of terror, Osama bin Laden, was shot dead. He took two shots to the left side of his face. His body was placed aboard the choppers that made the trip back. His DNA was later matched to DNA taken from one of his sisters who had died of brain cancer in Boston. There were no injuries or casualties among the SEAL team.

New Delhi water found to contain multi drug resistant “superbug”

A study in The Lancet Medical Journal states that the New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase 1 (NDM-1) producing bacteria was found in 51 out of 171 samples taken from water pools and two out of 50 tap water samples taken in the city. First discovered in 2009, NDM-1 is a gene that enables certain kinds of bacteria to be highly resistant to a majority of antibiotics. While doctors called for urgent global action to prevent the spread of the “superbug” in the most recent research paper, the Indian Council of Medical Research called for calm in the capital city which is home to 16 million residents.

ICMR director-general V. M. Katoch told the Press Trust of India “Hospitals should follow appropriate safety norms, If the report applies to India, then it applies to Europe also.”

The World Health Organization called for monitoring after independent researchers conducted studies in September and October last year and cases of infection were reported around the globe, despite the Indian government dismissing the research as scaremongering. Researchers say the presence of NDM-1-producing bacteria has important implications for New Delhi residents because of their reliance on public water supplies. The transfer of NDM-1 between different bacteria was highest at 30 degrees Celsius which is within the range of temperatures in New Delhi for seven months of the year. The report states that “This period includes the monsoon season, when floods and drain overflows are most likely, which potentially disseminates resistant bacteria,”. The authors also say that “Oral-fecal transmission of bacteria is a problem worldwide, but its potential risk varies with the standards of sanitation. In India, this transmission represents a serious problem because 650 million citizens do not have access to a flush toilet and even more probably do not have access to clean water.” Pakistan and Bangladesh have also been identified as sourcesof NDM-1.