The New York Times reports on the US State Department’s use of drones in Iraqi airspace. One month after US troops pulled out of Iraq, the State is operating a small feet of drone for surveillance of the US Embassy and American personnel. Senior Iraqi officials have expressed outrage, saying the drones violate Iraqi sovereignty.
A senior American official said that negotiations were under way to obtain authorization for the current drone operations, but Ali al-Mosawi, a top adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki; Iraq’s national security adviser, Falih al-Fayadh; and the acting minister of interior, Adnan al-Asadi, all said in interviews that they had not been consulted by the Americans.
Mr. Asadi said that he opposed the drone program: “Our sky is our sky, not the U.S.A.’s sky.”
According to the most recent annual report of the department’s diplomatic security branch, issued last June, the branch worked with the Pentagon and other agencies in 2010 to research the use of low-altitude, long-endurance unmanned drones “in high-threat locations such as Iraq and Afghanistan.”The document said that the program was tested in Iraq in December 2010. “The program will watch over State Department facilities and personnel and assist regional security officers with high-threat mission planning and execution,” the document said.