More Drone Deaths Since Obama Promise to Rein In Strikes
In May, President Obama responded to critics of the US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen by saying that the program would be reined in, have new rules, and more oversight. While the number of drone strikes has, indeed, fallen in six months since, the number of people killed in drone strikes has increased.
One of the keys in Obama’s plan to rein in drone strikes was to merge the CIA and the Pentagon drone programs to ensure military higher-ups approve all strikes. Instead, the CIA continues to operate their fleet of drones without any outside oversight.
The number of drone strikes in Pakistan did drop from 18 between December 2012 and May 2013 to 13 since the May speech but each strike has killed an average of five people. Around the time of the speech, the average drone strike killed 3.5 people. In 2013, there have been a total of 25 drone strikes in Pakistan, killing anywhere between 109 to 204 people and injuring another 39 to 78.
On Monday alone, 12 people were killed in a single drone strike in Yemen while dozens of Pakistani lawmakers protested US drone strikes in their country outside of the U.S. consulate.
Sirajul Haq, the KPK province Minister of Finance and one of the lawmakers who took part in the protest, told media that “Drone attacks are a violation of the U.N. Charter.” He went on to say that they were all gathered “on behalf of hundreds of thousands of residents of KPK Province, and indeed on behalf of millions of Pakistani people. We have handed a memorandum demanding an immediate end to drone attacks on our sacred soil.”
While it’s unclear whether the US military or the Yemeni government is behind any given drone strike in Yemen, there were eight confirmed US drone strikes in the country since the speech. The strikes all came in a two-week period in July and August after an alleged threat to US embassies around the world. Those attacks killed at least 29 people, most of whom were identified as members of al-Qaeda but only three were high ranking.