Friday, August 16, 2013

Should We Include Sinai in the List of U.S. Drone Target Zones?

The movement to publicize and bring an end to drone warfare customarily focuses on U.S. actions in four places: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

Is it time to add the Sinai Peninsula to that list, considering drone executions being carried out by Israel there?

Killed by Israeli Drone in Sinai, August 9, 2013 (More photos)

Many people would point to blanket U.S. support for Israel as evidence that the U.S. is complicit in Israel's use of drones. Now, however, there is more and more reason to ask: shouldn't we simply assume that Israel is a direct U.S. proxy anytime it uses drones to kill "Islamic militants"?

The questions that are leading me in this direction are discussed below.

(1) What's behind U.S. reluctance to call a coup a coup?

The Obama administration has gone to Orwellian lengths to avoid calling the military seizure of the elected government of Egypt a "coup." It even claimed that the power seizure was "restoring democracy." (!!)

Looks like a coup . . . smells like a coup . . . (read more)

The administration refuses to call a coup a coup, because under U.S. law that would lead to suspension of $1.3 billion in U.S. aid to Egypt.

Notably, the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace agreement is contingent on that aid.

It may be argued that the Obama administration is simply dodging its responsibility to tell the truth because it doesn't want to rock the boat. But given how rapidly the situation in Egypt is deteriorating, it's clear that Obama and company are holding out for something they want from the generals -- either for themselves, directly, or for Israel, or for both -- right here and now.

(2) What's happening right here and now between Egypt and Israel?

There is a growing awareness that Israel is a major user of armed drones.  The significant development this week between Egypt and Israel is the Israel drone strike on "Islamic militants" in Sinai.  (See Israel’s deadly drones have origins in Sinai occupation by Jimmy Johnson.)

Sinai Peninsula

The Sinai strike has been overshadowed by the brutal massacre by the Egyptian military of Islamic Brotherhood supporters in their encampments in Cairo, and so its significance may not have sunk in yet.

Nonetheless, the fact is: the drone strikes in Sinai were a violation of Egyptian sovereignty by an Israel. And the Egyptian generals are tolerating it.

Moreover, in the context of the battling between Egypt's military and Islamic groups there, it is reasonable to conclude that the Sinai strike went beyond being tactical (direct retaliation for involvement in specific alleged violent acts) to being strategic (part of a high-level strategy aimed at Islamic militancy).

This precisely fits the pattern of U.S. drone warfare in other areas: violations of national sovereignty that are tolerated, for complicated reasons, by the local authorities -- notably by the military -- and are directed at killing a long list of people who collectively represent the "leadership" of the forces opposing the U.S. and their allies/proxies.

Israeli-made Heron drone

(3) Isn't this type of subterfuge dangerous?

Did the Israeli drone strikes take place with the advance approval of the Egyptian generals? (Almost certainly.) Did they plan the operations together? (Hard to know.) Was Israel acting as a proxy for the United States? Was this latest drone execution of "Islamic militants" part of the "global war on terror" that the Obama administration has taken up with such alacrity? (You be the judge.)

Obama and Netanyahu - March 22, 2013

Make no mistake about it: the vagueness, obscurity, contingency, and deniability of these activities -- besides being illegal and wrong -- present huge risk. Nonetheless, this way of operating is just the way the U.S. likes it. The more risk, the more potential for continued conflict; the more conflict, the more, well, the more ways for the conflict to just go on and on and on . . . .

We need to refuse to be buffaloed by the Obama administration's lies and deceit.  Many of us (myself included, I confess) believed that Barack Obama would roll back to the Bush scheme of global conspiracy to foment conflict and commit crimes at will.  It's time for people to start connecting the dots and grasping that the Obama conspiracy makes Bush and Cheney look like amateurs.

Related posts

The use of drones by Israel in the current Gaza crisis is bringing into full view the leading role of Israel in changing the way the U.S. and other countries assert state power against people everywhere.

(See Gaza Crisis Brings Israel's "Dronification" of State Power into Full View on the No Drones Network website)

Amos Guiora, an Israeli "counter-terrorism expert," held forth on the difference between "good" targeted killing -- i.e. the kind Israeli practices (!) -- and "bad" targeted killing -- namely, the kind the Obama administration carries out. But what this talk was really about was conditioning the public to accept the idea that "targeted killing" is a legitimate activity of a government.

(See "Targeted Killing" - The Heart of the U.S.-Israel Relationship )

No Drones Illinois has endorsed the following call by Anti-War Committee – Chicago, Jews for Justice in Palestine, U.S. Palestinian Community Network and 8th Day Center for Justice: Protest Boeing Death Machines in Gaza: Demand Chicago Drop Boeing from Air and Water Show!

(See No Drones Illinois Endorses Call to Drop Boeing from Chicago Air and Water Show)