As part of our expanded online presence and making our work more accessible, Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) will be posting occasional updates to our various programs. Our US program is helmed by US Program Director, Daniel R. Mahanty. We hope you find it useful as a snapshot of our work around the world to protect civilians trapped in conflict.

US MILITARY OPERATIONS: IRAQ, SYRIA, AFGHANISTAN

 

Reports from The Intercept and The Washington Post warn of public sentiments among residents of Mosul and Raqqa that the United States destroyed their cities in order to oust the Islamic State, but is unwilling to take responsibility for reconstruction. Both cities remain littered with unexploded ordnance; there are still thousands of reports of bodies buried in the rubble; and rebuilding efforts, particularly in Mosul’s Old City, are “almost non-existent.” Local officials say that failing to engage in rebuilding and governance could allow another insurgency to emerge.

The Coalition carried out thirty strikes across Iraq and Syria between April 13 and 19.

MOST RECENT OIR CIVCAS REPORT (March 28): In the month of February, CJTF-OIR carried over 485 open reports of possible civilian casualties from previous months and received 121 new reports resulting from Coalition strikes (artillery or air) in support of partner force operations to defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria. During this period, the Coalition completed the assessment of 84: 78 were assessed to be non-credible, none were assessed to be duplicates of previous reports, and six were assessed to be credible, resulting in 14 unintentional civilian deaths. To date, based on information available, CJTF-OIR assesses at least 855 civilians have been unintentionally killed by Coalition strikes since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve.

TWEET OF THE WEEK

UPCOMING EVENTS

April 23: New America – ISIS in North Africa: Past and Future Trajectories

April 23: Council on Foreign Relations – Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on US-Iran Relations

April 23: New America – ISIS in North Africa: Past and Future Trajectories

April 24: Brookings Institution – The Battle for the New Libya

April 25: US Institute of Peace – Afghanistan in 2020: Is Peace Possible?

April 26: Brookings Institution – 21st Century Security Forum: The National Defense Strategy and Its Global Impact

May 1: American Red Cross International Services – Far from the Media’s Spotlight: Global Humanitarian Crises Outside the Public Eye

May 1: New America – Iraq After ISIS: What to Do Now

May 7: Wilson Center – The Future of War and Challenges for Humanitarians

May 18: Center for Strategic and International Studies – The Future of Force

May 22: Stimson Center & CIVIC – Taking Aim: A Closer Look at the Global Arms Trade

STATISTICS

Bureau of Investigative Journalism (Total Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen)

Civilians Killed: 737 – 1,551

Children Killed: 242 – 335

Total Killed: 7,361 – 10,677

Minimum Confirmed Strikes: 4,737

Airwars (Total Iraq and Syria)

Minimum Civilians Killed: 6,259

Coalition Strikes: 29,253

Bombs & Missiles Dropped: 107,129

CONGRESS

Congress Considers AUMF Options: U.S. Senators have proposed an alternative to the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force that, unlike the numerous other AUMF reform attempts in the last year, stands a decent chance of passage. The bill, sponsored by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN), aims to reassert Congressional war powers and clarify which terrorist organizations are targetable using military force. However, there are concerns that this legislation does not truly fix the problems created by the 2001 AUMF. One of the biggest complaints against current AUMF law is that ‘associated forces’ of terrorist groups are so ill-defined that it essentially allows a truly global war on terror. This legislation does not seem likely to change that. While it does update the list of viable terrorist targets, the President still has authority to declare new ‘associated forces’ and can veto a Congressional repeal of any group named in this way. Another concern has been the timeframe of the legislation; namely, there are worries that there is no ‘sunset’ to the bill, meaning that it, like its predecessor, could allow future Presidents to wage ill-defined wars ad infinitum.

Human rights advocates have long supported Congressional efforts to reform the AUMF. However, an AUMF “reform” bill that leaves the most challenged parts of the legislation unaltered while expending the political will for change would be worse than doing nothing at all. There are some nominal improvements to transparency and the Congressional review process, but it does not appear that this legislation would increase Congress’s real influence over how war powers are exercised in practice.

ON THE CONGRESSIONAL AGENDA:

DRONE WARFARE AND TARGETED KILLINGS

A new report by Amnesty International examines the European role in the US drone war. As the Trump administration reportedly expands lethal drone operations and rolls back protections for civilians, there is heightened risk that countries providing assistance to US drone operations could be responsible for assisting drone strikes in violation of international law.

The US drone base scheduled for completion in Agadez, Niger later this year represents “the newest front line in America’s global shadow war,” Eric Schmitt writes at the New York Times. The base will be used to launch strikes and conduct counterterrorism raids against extremists in West and North Africa.

SECURITY ASSISTANCE AND ARMS SALES

The Trump administration announced on Thursday new policies designed to slash red tape and increase US arms sales to allies. The administration’s new Unmanned Aerial Systems Export Policy will allow defense contractors to sell directly to foreign governments rather than the Foreign Military Sales program and eliminates rules that require special scrutiny of drones with laser designators – thus allowing the sale of drones to countries that may not have the same safeguards in place to avoid civilian harm.

The State Department approved the sale to Mexico of eight MH-60R Seahawk Helicopters, worth an estimated $1.2 billion.

WHAT WE’RE READING

A new report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Naming the Dead, looks at counting casualties in the US drone wars.

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