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UAE gets American drones as China ramps up sales

Al Jazeera

The White House's recent decision to allow the sale of advanced weapons systems to the United Arab Emirates highlights the deliberate shift in US policy towards the UAE after it signed "normalisation" accords with Israel. Why would the UAE want American drones as it already has dozens of Chinese armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in its inventory? And why has the United States now agreed to these sales, overcoming its traditional reticence to sell sophisticated weapons to other countries? Chinese armed drones have made a significant effect on the battlefields across the Middle East and North Africa. They have been used to assassinate Houthi rebel leaders in Yemen, kill ISIL-affiliated fighters in the Sinai, and for a time help Khalifa Haftar dominate the battlespace in Libya.


Lawmakers Aim to Prevent Trump From Bypassing Ban on Armed Drone Sales

NYT > Middle East

The move set off a wave of criticism from many Democratic and some Republican lawmakers, who said the decision undermined the pact. By ignoring a part of the agreement it finds inconvenient, they say, the Trump administration is encouraging other nations to do the same. And the sale of advanced armed drones could lead to the proliferation of the technology across the globe. The lawmakers are especially concerned about sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which have used American-made weapons to carry out a devastating war in Yemen that has left thousands of civilians, many of them children, dead. "If we allow Trump to start selling drones, we set a dangerous precedent that allows and encourages other countries to sell missile technology and advanced drones to our adversaries," Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut and a sponsor of the bill, said in a statement on Wednesday.


US senators want to block drone sales to Saudis

Al Jazeera

Republican and Democratic senators introduced legislation on Thursday that would block international sales of United States-made drones to countries that are not close US allies, mentioning Saudi Arabia in particular. Reuters broke the news in June that President Donald Trump's administration planned to reinterpret the Missile Technology Control Regime, a Cold War arms agreement between 35 nations, with the goal of allowing US defence contractors to sell more drones to an array of nations. Republican Senators Mike Lee and Rand Paul, Democratic Senators Chris Murphy and Chris Coons, and Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, introduced the measure. It would amend the Arms Export Control Act to prohibit the export, transfer or trade of many advanced drones except to countries that are NATO members and to Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan and Israel, they said in a news release. US lawmakers have tried before to rein in Trump administration plans for arms sales, particularly to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for use in the war in Yemen.


Air Force tech stops drones from being shot down

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Senior Air Force commanders are employing new tactics, technologies and protocols to better safeguard drones from being shot down by enemy fire during missions. Air Force Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of U.S. Forces Europe, recently told reporters that senior U.S. military leaders are now in an effort to increase mission survivability for combat drones operating in high-risk areas. Responding to a question about an MQ-9 Reaper being shot down over Yemen last year, Harrigian emphasized that drone operations need to become less predictable to enemies. "There is something to be said for operating in a manner that offers us an opportunity to not be as predictable as we have been.


Saudi-led coalition hits Houthi-held areas in renewed air raids

Al Jazeera

Fighter jets belonging to a Saudi-led coalition battling Yemen's Houthi rebels have launched dozens of air raids on several Yemeni provinces, as the kingdom announced the start of a new military operation. The Houthi-run Al Masirah Media Network reported air raids on the capital, Sanaa, as well as Marib, al-Jouf, al-Bayda, Hajjah and Saada provinces throughout Wednesday and into the night. It said an elderly woman and a child were killed and four others wounded in Saada province. In Sanaa, residents described the air raids, which also struck the city's international airport, as "violent". Saudi state television reported earlier on Wednesday that the coalition had begun a military push against the Houthis after the group stepped up cross-border missile and drone attacks on the kingdom.


Human rights activists want to use AI to help prove war crimes in court

MIT Technology Review

In 2015, alarmed by an escalating civil war in Yemen, Saudi Arabia led an air campaign against the country to defeat what it deemed a threatening rise of Shia power. The intervention, launched with eight other largely Sunni Arab states, was meant to last only a few weeks, Saudi officials had said. Nearly five years later, it still hasn't stopped. By some estimates, the coalition has since carried out over 20,000 air strikes, many of which have killed Yemeni civilians and destroyed their property, allegedly in direct violation of international law. Human rights organizations have since sought to document such war crimes in an effort to stop them through legal challenges.


AQAP confirms death of leader, appoints successor: SITE

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula on Sunday confirmed the death of its leader, Qassim al-Rimi, and appointed a successor, weeks after the U.S. said it had "eliminated" the Islamist militant chief, SITE Intelligence group said. The announcement came in an audio speech delivered by AQAP religious official, Hamid bin Hamoud al-Tamimi, said the group, which monitors jihadi networks worldwide. "In his speech, Tamimi spoke at length about Rimi and his jihadi journey, and stated that Khalid bin Umar Batarfi is the new leader of AQAP," it said. SITE said Batarfi has appeared in many AQAP videos over the past several years and appeared to have been Rimi's deputy and group spokesman. President Donald Trump announced Rimi's death earlier this month, saying he had been killed in a U.S. "counterterrorism operation in Yemen."


The U.S. Navy's New Robo-Boat Has No People, But It Does Have a Very Big Gun

#artificialintelligence

One of the most important but generally overlooked missions of the U.S. Navy is port security. While incidents in peacetime are generally rare, the 2000 terrorist attack on the destroyer USS Cole remains a real danger. Now the Navy is experimenting with using one of its newest unmanned boats as a way to protect warships sitting pierside from attack. In October 2000, the guided-missile destroyer USS Cole was refueling at the port of Aden in Yemen when it came under attack by Al Qaeda terrorists. A small boat loaded with explosives sidled up to the 10,000 ton destroyer and exploded, killing 17 U.S. Navy sailors and injuring 39.


Devices found in Houthi missiles and Yemen drones link Iran to attacks

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – A small instrument inside the drones that targeted the heart of Saudi Arabia's oil industry and those in the arsenal of Yemen's Houthi rebels match components recovered in downed Iranian drones in Afghanistan and Iraq, two reports say. These gyroscopes have only been found inside drones manufactured by Iran, Conflict Armament Research said in a report released on Wednesday. That follows a recently released report from the United Nations saying its experts saw a similar gyroscope from an Iranian drone obtained by the U.S. military in Afghanistan, as well as in weapons shipments seized in the Arabian Sea bound for Yemen. The discovery further ties Iran to an attack that briefly halved Saudi Arabia's oil output and saw energy prices spike by a level unseen since the 1991 Gulf War. It also ties Iran to the arming of the rebel Houthis in Yemen's long civil war.


AI in War Means Deepfakes as Well as Killerbots

#artificialintelligence

Since 2014, Russia has played a dominant role in the civil war hostilities in Syria where the testing of technology fresh out of research and development has been applied to measure results, graded by software systems. Such military upgrades launched in Syria and in Yemen include the SS-21 Scarab, the Uran-9 and the Ratnick-4 (robotics). A four day drill was held in December 2019 in the Gulf of Oman and the Indian Ocean. Participants were Russia, Iran, and China whose cooperation, unity, and military exchanges were evident during the drills. Russia's involvement should be considered in the light of a strategy.