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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.


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.


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.


U.S. killing of leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula hurts group in Yemen

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The U.S. has killed the leader of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula in war-torn Yemen, raising questions about the jihadi group's operations and its future. President Donald Trump said the United States "conducted a counterterrorism operation" that eliminated Qassim al-Rimi, according to a White House statement released on Thursday. But what does this mean for AQAP and for Yemen, where a five-year war between the government -- backed by a Saudi-led military coalition -- and the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels has crippled the country? Al-Rimi was named AQAP leader after his predecessor, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was killed in a U.S. drone strike on Yemen in June 2015. He was one of the group's founders in 2009 and its first military commander.


White House Confirms Killing of Terrorist Leader in Yemen

NYT > Middle East

The United States killed the leader of Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, the White House confirmed on Thursday. The confirmation came about a week after The New York Times first reported that the United States believed it had killed Qassim al-Rimi, the Qaeda leader, in January after months of tracing him. The C.I.A. carried out the airstrike using an unmanned drone, an intelligence official said. The White House statement had little detail about the operation, but said it was carried out at the direction of President Trump. The statement said Mr. al-Rimi's death will degrade the Yemen affiliate and the global Qaeda movement and "brings us closer to eliminating the threats these groups pose to our national security."


Dronestagram: The Drone's-Eye View

#artificialintelligence

Posting the landscapes of drone strikes to Instagram: Follow Dronestagram (also on Tumblr and Twitter). These are the names of places. They are towns, villages, junctions and roads. They are the names of places where people live and work, where there are families and schools. They are the names of places in Afghanistan and Yemen, which are linked by one thing: they have each been the location of drone strikes in the past couple of months.