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Trump Is Said to Be Preparing to Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia

NYT > Middle East

But the president's aspirations have long run into resistance, as his own national security officials argued that abandonment of such troubled countries could have catastrophic consequences -- such as when the United States pulled out of Iraq at the end of 2011, leaving a vacuum that fostered the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Mr. Trump has also repeatedly pushed to withdraw from Syria, but several hundred U.S. troops remain stationed there, partly to protect coveted oil fields held by American-backed Syrian Kurdish allies from being seized by the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The current deliberations over withdrawals would not affect those in Syria, officials said. The plan under discussion to pull out of Somalia is said to not apply to U.S. forces stationed in nearby Kenya and Djibouti, where American drones that carry out airstrikes in Somalia are based, according to officials familiar with the internal deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Keeping those air bases would mean retaining the military's ability to use drones to attack militants with the Shabab, the Qaeda-linked terrorist group -- at least those deemed to pose a threat to American interests.


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.


US military says Russian air defenses shot down unarmed drone near Libyan capital: report

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines for Dec. 7 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com The U.S. military believes the unarmed drone that went missing over the Libyan capital last month was actually shot down by Russian air defenses. The U.S. Africa Command is demanding the return of the aircraft's wreckage, which had been part of an operation conducted in Libya to assess the area's security and monitor for violent extremist activity. The command didn't give a reason for the drone loss after the Nov. 21 incident, but they had been investigating, Reuters reported.


US military drone disappears over Libyan capital, officials say

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines for Nov. 23 are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com The U.S. military announced Friday it lost an unarmed drone over Tripoli, the Libyan capital -- the site of a months-long battle between the Libyan National Army and militias allied with the United Nations-supported government. The U.S. Africa Command said the remotely piloted aircraft was part of an operation conducted in Libya to assess the area's security and monitor for violent extremist activity. They didn't give a reason for the drone loss on Thursday, but the command will be investigating.


Google's artificial intelligence ethics won't curb war by algorithm

#artificialintelligence

On March 29, 2018, a Toyota Land Cruiser carrying five members of the Al Manthari family was travelling through the Yemeni province of Al Bayda, inland from the Gulf of Aden. The family were heading to the city of al-Sawma'ah to pick up a local elder to witness the sale of a plot of land. At two in the afternoon, a rocket from a US Predator drone hit the vehicle, killing three of its passengers. One of the four men killed, Mohamed Saleh al Manthari, had three children aged between one and six. His father, Saleh al Manthari, says Mohamed was the family's only breadwinner.


U.S. soldier killed, four wounded during operation against al-Shabab Islamists in Somalia

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – One U.S. special operations soldier was killed and four U.S. service members were wounded in an "enemy attack" Friday in Somalia, the U.S. military said -- casualties that are likely to put renewed scrutiny on America's counterterrorism operations in Africa. It was the first public announcement of a U.S. military combat death on the continent since four U.S. service members were killed in a militant ambush in the west African nation of Niger in October. President Donald Trump paid tribute on Twitter on Friday night, offering "thoughts and prayers" to the families of the soldier who was killed and those who were wounded. "They are truly all HEROES," he tweeted. U.S. Africa Command said in a statement that U.S. troops with Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire in Jubaland, Somalia, at around 2:45 p.m.


1 US soldier killed, 4 wounded in attack in Somalia

FOX News

WASHINGTON – One U.S. special operations soldier was killed and four U.S. service members wounded in an "enemy attack" Friday in Somalia, the U.S. military said -- casualties that are likely to put renewed scrutiny on America's counterterror operations in Africa. It's the first public announcement of a U.S. military combat death on the continent since four U.S. service members were killed in a militant ambush in the west African nation of Niger in October. U.S. Africa Command said in a statement that U.S. troops with Somali and Kenyan forces came under mortar and small-arms fire in Jubaland, Somalia, at around 2.45 p.m. local time. One member of the "partner forces" was wounded. One of the wounded U.S. service members received sufficient medical care in the field, and the other three were medically evacuated for additional treatment.


American Drone Strike in Libya Kills Top Qaeda Recruiter

NYT > Middle East

An American military drone strike over the weekend in southern Libya killed a top recruiter and logistics specialist for Al Qaeda's branch in northwest Africa, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, and a senior military official warned of more attacks on extremists there. The military's Africa Command said in a statement that the attack killed two militants, one of whom was identified as Musa Abu Dawud, a high-ranking official in Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, known as AQIM. Mr. Dawud trained Qaeda recruits in Libya for strike operations in the region, and provided logistics, money and weapons that enabled the group to threaten and attack American and Western interests, the military statement said. Until now, the Pentagon had focused its counterterrorism strikes in Libya -- eight since President Trump took office -- almost exclusively on Islamic State fighters and operatives farther north. Over several months in 2016, the military conducted nearly 500 airstrikes in the coastal city of Surt to destroy the Islamic State's stronghold there.


U.S. Strikes Qaeda Target in Southern Libya, Expanding Shadow War There

NYT > Middle East

The United States military carried out its first ever drone strike against Qaeda militants in southern Libya this weekend, signaling a possibly significant expansion of the American counterterrorism campaign in the North African nation. Until now, the Pentagon had focused its counterterrorism strikes in Libya almost exclusively on Islamic State fighters and operatives farther north -- eight since President Trump took office. In 2016, the military conducted nearly 500 airstrikes in the coastal city of Surt over several months to destroy the Islamic State's stronghold there. But the attack on Saturday that the military's Africa Command said had killed two militants -- later identified by a spokeswoman as belonging to Al Qaeda's branch in northwestern Africa -- took place in the country's southwest, a notorious haven for a deadly mix of Al Qaeda and other extremist groups that also operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad, Mali and Algeria. "This appears to be the continuation of expanding AFRICOM activity in Libya's ungoverned areas," said Deborah K.


Trump must make known 'deadly' changes to US drone policy: NGOs

Al Jazeera

A group of nongovernmental organisations called on the Trump administration to clarify its policy on drone use, saying they are concerned about reported changes to US rules and a lack of transparency in the decision-making process. "We are deeply concerned that the reported new policy, combined with this administration's reported dramatic increase in lethal operations in Yemen and Somalia, will add to an increase in unlawful killings and in civilian casualties," a joint statement said. The organisations include Amnesty International, the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights, Human Rights Watch, the ACLU and others. President Donald Trump signed the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act in December. The act funds the US military but also requires Trump to make known to Congress any changes to previous drone policies by March 12.