U.S.-Backed Assault on Yemen Forces Red Cross to Evacuate

The U.S. shouldn’t be supporting Saudi Arabia’s war crimes in Yemen, a place that due to military assaults has become a nightmare for many of those living there.

In a development revealing just how dire the situation is for Yemeni civilians and threatening to compound the catastrophe, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Thursday announced it is pulling 71 of its staffers out of Yemen—a move the organization admits will cripple its humanitarian efforts.

In response, Amnesty International said it marked a “bleak” new low in the ongoing conflict.

In a statement released Thursday, the ICRC cited “a series of incidents and threats,” including a gunman killing one of its staff members in April. Security for its staff, the group said, is “a non-negotiable prerequisite.”

ICRC director of operations Dominik Stillhart said the group’s activities, including surgical services, clean water initiatives, and food assistance, “have been blocked, threatened, and directly targeted in recent weeks, and we see a vigorous attempt to instrumentalize our organization as a pawn in the conflict.”

Samah Hadid, Amnesty International’s Middle East Director of Campaigns, said such targeting “is a violation of international humanitarian law. In fact, deliberate attacks on humanitarian relief personnel amount to war crimes.”

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The U. N. estimates that over 6,400 civilians have already been killed and more than 10,000 have been injured since the conflict in the impoverished country broke out in 2015. The U.S. has played a key role in fueling the conflict through its backing of the Saudi-led coalition, and recent reporting indicates that role could deepen.

Legislative efforts to stop the U.S.-backed carnage, however, have thus far failed.

U.S.-Backed Saudi Airstrike Killed 8 Women and 2 Girls at a Wedding

These war crimes are acts of state terrorism that must be stopped before more innocent civilians are unnecessarily murdered. Imagine the fear and devastation that weddings being bombed causes people overseas.

Eight women and two children from the same Yemeni family were killed when an air strike by forces of the Saudi-led coalition involved in the country’s three-year-old war hit a wedding party, residents said on Monday.

The 10 people were returning on Sunday evening from a wedding in Marib province, an area east of the capital Sanaa held by the Iran-allied Houthi group, when their vehicle was struck, the sources said.

A spokesman for the coalition, which denies targeting civilians and says that every report of an attack is investigated, did not respond to an email requesting comment.

The residents said the victims, all female, were part of the same family, but gave no further details on their ages or if anyone else was traveling with them.

The coalition has been conducting regular air strikes in Houthi-held areas as part of a campaign to restore President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to power.

The United Nations says that more than 60,000 people have been killed or wounded in the conflict, which also displaced more than two million and triggered a cholera epidemic that has infected about one million people.

Is it any surprise when missiles are then launched at Saudi Arabia? That’s how state terrorism breeds more terrorism.

Obama Administration Officials Admit Some Flaws of the Violent Drone Programs

The officials don’t go far enough, as they fail to admit that the systematic U.S. killings of civilians via drone strikes are egregious war crimes, but I give them some amount of credit for admitting certain shortcomings of the drone programs. Once a lot of people are situated in those high-level governmental environments that direct institutionalized murder, they often internalize truly horrible values. The Obama administration notably had a day of the week referred to as Terror Tuesday, and I have to wonder what that did to the minds of those who sat through those gatherings.

“The Uncounted,”Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal’s groundbreaking piece about the civilians killed in the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State—and the considerable gap between their tally of such deaths and the numbers reported by the Pentagon—is one of them. We cannot speak to the precise data, but their New York Times Magazine piece, and the verified tragedy of the Razzo family at its center, are emblematic of a bigger story that unfortunately rings true.

Basim Razzo was a member of one of the oldest families in Mosul, and the article recounts the night he woke up to find his roof collapsed and home destroyed—the result of an American bomb. Though Razzo himself survived, the attack took from him his wife and daughter, and the story chronicles his investigation into why it occurred. He finds, to his horror, that his house was deliberately targeted; American drones had monitored it for three days before striking, apparently acting on outdated reports that it was an ISIS command center.  The drone footage failed to confirm those reports. It also failed to refute them. That, apparently, was sufficient for the U.S. military to proceed.

The Times story is one of faulty intelligence driving wrong-headed assumptions that decimate innocent lives and embitter survivors. It is a story about how a legal and bureaucratic fog can make it almost impossible for tragic mistakes to come to light, too often leaving instead a false sense of comfort that such mistakes never happened at all. And it is a story about a policy that warrants honest discussion, and change. We both worked with that policy up close. In the Obama White House, one of us was responsible for human rights, the other for coordinating the counter-ISIS campaign. In this respect, we were part of an administration that fell short.

International Criminal Court: U.S. War Crimes Likely Committed in Afghanistan War

A quote delivered in 1990 that is still true today: “If the Nuremberg laws were applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.” — Noam Chomsky

The chief prosecutor of the international criminal court is seeking approval to investigate allegations of war crimes in Afghanistan, including possible torture by US forces and the CIA.

If authorised, the investigation would also look at crimes allegedly committed by armed opposition groups, such as the Taliban, and Afghan government forces.

The ICC chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, said in a report last year that the US military and the CIA may have committed war crimes by torturing detainees in Afghanistan between 2003 and 2014.

Investigation Finds That U.S. Bombings Kill 31 Times More Iraqi Civilians Than Officially Reported

Do you ever imagine the fear that the presence of lethal drones causes in some countries overseas? There are a lot of innocent people that have unfortunately been left heartbroken by U.S. bombing destroying their communities and killing their loved ones. That isn’t stopping terrorism — it’s breeding it, and it’s wasting immense resources that could be used in so many better ways. The policy should be waging peace, not war.

An 18-month investigation by a pair of New York Times reporters reveals far more civilians are killed in the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—particularly in the air war—than the U.S.-led coalition reports.

After visiting nearly 150 bombing sites in northern Iraq between April 2016 and June 2017, as well as the American base in Qatar where decisions are made about coalition air strikes, Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal “found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition.”

Since the U.S.-war against ISIS began in August 2014, the coalition has released monthly reports in which it claims tens of thousands of ISIS combatants and 466 civilians have been killed in Iraq. While the coalition claims civilians have died in only 89 of its more than 14,000 airstrikes in Iraq, Khan and Gopal’s on-the-ground reporting suggests the civilian death toll from coalition bombings in well into the thousands. U.K.-based Airwars estimates at least 3,000 civilians have been killed, but the group’s director told the reporters Airwars “may be significantly underreporting deaths in Iraq” due to lack of reliable reporting.

In addition to touring and satellite mapping the destroyed sites, Khan and Gopal pored over local news reports, and interviewed hundreds of witnesses, survivors, family members, intelligence informants, and local officials. At the air base in Qatar, they “were given access to the main operations floor and interviewed senior commanders, intelligence officials, legal advisers, and civilian-casualty assessment experts.” The also handed over data they collected on 103 air strikes from ISIS-controlled regions and examined analysts’ responses.

“Our reporting,” they write, “revealed a consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate the claims at all,” concluding, “this may be the least transparent war in recent American history.”

In addition to poor record-keeping and neglecting investigations, the reporters point to civlians unexpectedly being near to an ISIS target and “flawed or outdated intelligence that conflated civilians with combatants” as common reasons for civilian casualties.

The coalition and the U.S. Department of Defense post videos of bombings to their websites, which “are presented as evidence of a military campaign unlike any other—precise, transparent and unyielding,” Khan and Gopal write. A Central Command spokesperson insists that “U.S. and coalition forces work very hard to be precise in airstrikes,” and that the coalition is “conducting one of the most precise air campaigns in military history”—but one such clip previously featured on the sites is a bombing of two homes with a caption claiming they were operating an ISIS car-bomb factory.

The homes were in fact owned by Iraqi civilians—Basim Razzo and his brother. The reporters recount the killings of Razzo’s loved ones in vivid detail. Razzo is a 56-year-old who worked as account manager for a Chinese multinational telecommunications company; in the 1980s, while he studied engineering at Western Michigan University, his wife Mayada sold Avon products to their neighbors. A few days after the attack, the badly wounded Razzo wrote on Facebook: “In the middle of the night, coalition airplanes targeted two houses occupied by innocent civilians. Is this technology? This barbarian attack cost me the lives of my wife, daughter, brother, and nephew.”

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Because of his ties to the U.S, Razzo occasionally video conferences with university students about his experiences. “I have nothing against the regular American citizen. I lived among you guys for eight years,” he recently told a Penn State class of about 750 students. “This situation of war, big corporations are behind it.”

U.S. Airstrikes Killing More Civilians Under the Trump Regime

Airwars-reporting

Periodic reminder that the death of those civilians constitute war crimes and cruel, terrorizing militarism.

According to research from the nonprofit monitoring group Airwars, the first seven months of the Trump administration have already resulted in more civilian deaths than under the entirety of the Obama administration. Airwars reports that under Obama’s leadership, the fight against IS led to approximately 2,300 to 3,400 civilian deaths. Through the first seven months of the Trump administration, they estimate that coalition air strikes have killed between 2,800 and 4,500 civilians.

Researchers also point to another stunning trend – the “frequent killing of entire families in likely coalition airstrikes.” In May, for example, such actions led to the deaths of at least 57 women and 52 children in Iraq and Syria.

The vast increase in civilian deaths is not limited to the anti-IS campaign. In Afghanistan, the U.N. reports a 67 percent increase in civilian deaths from U.S. airstrikes in the first six months of 2017 compared to the first half of 2016.

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While urban warfare has increased, Trump’s team has substantially escalated air strikes and bombings. According to CENTCOM data, the military has already used 20 percent more missiles and bombs in combined air operations in 2017 than in all of 2016. One notable airstrike in March, for example, killed 105 Iraqi civilians when U.S. forces dropped a 500-pound bomb in order to take out two snipers in Mosul. In fact, a Human Rights Watch analysis of bomb craters in West Mosul estimates that U.S. coalition forces are routinely using larger and less precise bombs – weighing between 500 and 1,000 pounds – than in prior operations.

Trump Regime to Drop Some Constraints on Drone Strikes and Raids

Unfortunately, this will mean an increase in the U.S. military’s war crimes abroad. The revealed plans of loosening drone restrictions are also noted to be around when Human Rights Watch reported that 84 civilians were killed in a U.S. air strike on a school and market in March.

The Trump administration is preparing to dismantle key Obama-era limits on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields, according to officials familiar with internal deliberations. The changes would lay the groundwork for possible counterterrorism missions in countries where Islamic militants are active but the United States has not previously tried to kill or capture them.

President Trump’s top national security advisers have proposed relaxing two rules, the officials said. First, the targets of kill missions by the military and the C.I.A., now generally limited to high-level militants deemed to pose a “continuing and imminent threat” to Americans, would be expanded to include foot-soldier jihadists with no special skills or leadership roles. And second, proposed drone attacks and raids would no longer undergo high-level vetting.

But administration officials have also agreed that they should keep in place one important constraint for such attacks: a requirement of “near certainty” that no civilian bystanders will be killed.

The proposal to overhaul the rules has quietly taken shape over months of debate among administration officials and awaits Mr. Trump’s expected signature. Despite the preservation of the protections for civilians, the other changes seemed likely to draw criticism from human rights groups.

“Near certainty” contrasted with actual reporting:

A new report by Human Rights Watch says the U.S. military killed at least 84 civilians in Syria in March, when it bombed a school and a marketplace in two towns outside Raqqa. On March 20, U.S. airstrikes hit a school where displaced people were taking shelter in the village of Mansoura. Two days later, U.S. airstrikes hit a crowded market and bakery in the city of Tabqa. Local residents told Human Rights Watch the death toll from the two attacks is likely far higher than 84 civilians, because bodies were still buried underneath the rubble.