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The War Room => Afghanistan / Iraq => Topic started by: bigron on July 26, 2010, 01:11:15 pm

Title: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 26, 2010, 01:11:15 pm
Taliban seize key district in Afghan east


July 25, 2010

KABUL (Reuters) – Taliban guerrillas have captured a strategic district from the Afghan government after days of clashes in eastern Nuristan province, officials said on Sunday.

Separately, the Afghan government said it was checking reports by locals saying some 40 Afghan civilians were killed in a raid by foreign forces in Sangin district of southern Helmand province on Friday.

In Nuristan's Barg-e Matal, dozens of Taliban fighters and up to six Afghan police were killed during days of clashes before the district fell to the Taliban overnight.

Barg-e Matal is important for the government and militants because of its location and has regularly changed hands.

Lying near the border with Pakistan, the rugged district has been used as a supply route for arms and fighters for the Taliban in three provinces, most importantly for Badakhshan where the Taliban have mounted a series of deadly attacks recently.

Afghan police forces withdrew from Barg-e Matal to avoid high casualties and in the face of sustained Taliban pressure after days of skirmishes, interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashary told reporters.

"Right now the police forces in Nuristan are working to recapture it," he said.

The Taliban have yet to comment about the fall of the district and the reported losses in their ranks.

In Helmand province, where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, Bashary said provincial authorities were checking reports by residents that dozens of civilians were killed in a raid by foreign forces on Friday.

Further details were not immediately available.

(Reporting by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by Sugita Katyal)


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 26, 2010, 01:24:33 pm
Nato probes reports raid killed 45 Afghan civilians

By David Loyn, BBC News

July 25, 2010


International forces in Afghanistan say they are urgently investigating reports as many as 45 civilians died in an air strike in Helmand province on Friday.

Nato's initial investigation found no evidence, but a BBC journalist visiting Regey village spoke to several people who said they had seen the incident.

At the time, dozens were sheltering in the village from nearby fighting.

A significant civilian loss of life would be rare this year as a new policy of restraint has reduced casualties.

'Lying asleep'

Witnesses said the attack had come in daylight as dozens sheltered from fighting in nearby Joshani.

Mohammed Khan, a boy aged about 16, said helicopters had circled over the village before the incident. He said that he had warned other children to take cover.

But his mother told him not to worry them. He went further away and was shielded by a wall that saved his life when the attack started.

"I heard the sound of the rocket land on our house. I rushed in screaming with my father and saw bodies lying in the dust… I found I was even standing on a dead body."

One of the bodies was his brother.

"He had been lying asleep in the afternoon when they were killed," Mohammed said.

After the attack relatives and neighbours came to assist in digging out the dead and taking the injured to hospital.

Sher Mohammed said that the owner of the house had been his cousin. He said it had taken until late into the night to dig out the bodies. Rescuers buried 39 and believed six were left under the rubble, he added.

The bodies were buried at daylight. Haji Rahim could not contain his tears. He said that after a sleepless night, he and other villagers had gone to talk to a Nato patrol.


Rescuers said they had buried 39 victims from the attack

He said: "They can see something as small as an insect just four inches on the ground, so how were they not able to see all of those women and children when they bombed them?"

For several months there has been a significant reduction in civilian casualties and very few air strikes under a new policy of restraint ordered by Gen Stanley McChrystal.

He was forced from his post recently after talking too frankly to journalists.

A spokesman for the international forces, Lt Col Chris Hughes, said: "A preliminary investigation by [Nato's] Isaf forces and the provincial governor, which included a meeting with local elders, gives no indication of a mass casualty incident caused by coalition forces in Sangin."

But he added: "We take allegations of civilian casualties very seriously. We go to great measures to avoid civilian casualties in the course of operations. The safety of the Afghan people is very important to the International Security Assistance Forces."


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 26, 2010, 02:24:41 pm
Afghanistan casualty rate highest of war

By James Cogan

WSWS, July 26, 2010

Eight months after the Obama administration announced a "surge" of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to crush the Taliban-led insurgency, the rate of US and allied casualties has soared to the highest level of the nearly nine-year war and is beginning to match the bloodiest stages of the occupation of Iraq.

Five more American soldiers were killed on Saturday, four in a single roadside bomb blast in an unspecified area of southern Afghanistan. The fatalities were announced amidst a desperate aerial and ground search by American forces to locate two missing Navy personnel.

The pair, whose identity and unit have not been made public, allegedly drove out of a base in the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday evening and, according to Afghan government sources, was stopped at a checkpoint on the edge of the Charkh district in the neighbouring province of Logar. Like numerous areas of southern Afghanistan, Charkh is largely under the control of the Taliban.

On Sunday, Taliban representatives claimed that the pair had been ambushed in Charkh and one captured and one killed. No explanation has been provided for the actions of the sailors apart from that given by a Logar provincial government representative, who told the Washington Post that a security guard at the checkpoint said they were "drunk" and "not normal."

The body of the slain man has reportedly been recovered by US forces. The US military has not confirmed that the other sailor is being held by the Taliban. Private Bowe R. Bergdahl, an American soldier who allegedly walked out of his base in eastern Afghanistan in June 2009 and was captured, is still being held by the Taliban due to the US military’s refusal to agree to a prisoner exchange.

The six fatalities over the weekend have pushed the total July death toll to 77, of whom 56 have been US personnel. The occupation forces suffered their largest monthly loss of the entire war last month with 102 killed, 60 of whom were American.

2010 will almost certainly be the most costly year of the entire war for the US-led occupation. The death toll has already reached 399, compared with the last year’s toll of 521.

The number of deaths, however, is only one aspect of the mounting crisis facing the 100,000 American and 30,000 NATO and other allied troops in Afghanistan. The number of soldiers being wounded has increased exponentially.

Figures released in early July showed that four times as many American troops were wounded in the first six months of 2010 as in the same time period last year. As of June 30, some 1,922 had been injured compared with 2,139 in all of 2009. In other words, for every soldier killed, close to 10 are being wounded, many of whom will be disabled for life due to the horrific injuries inflicted by bomb blasts.

The 10,000-strong British contingent, much of which is operating in the southern province of Helmand and has been used in the offensives intended to break the grip of the Taliban over the area, is taking even higher casualties. This year alone, 50 British troops have been killed and some 650 British troops have been admitted to hospital, over 300 for battlefield wounds and the others for "non-battle" injuries or disease. The British death rate has essentially doubled over recent weeks to 14 deaths per 1,000 troops deployed. The US rate is currently 6.8 deaths per 1,000 personnel.

The rise in dead and wounded is the direct outcome of Obama’s surge and escalation of the war. Thousands of American and British troops have been sent into operations in areas of southern provinces such as Helmand and Kandahar that have effectively been under Taliban control since the initial October 2001 invasion. They are coming up against well-organised insurgents who clearly have the support of the civilian population in their struggle against a foreign military occupation and the corrupt puppet government it has installed in Kabul under President Hamid Karzai.

A July 21 Reuters profile on a 17-strong platoon of the 101st Airborne Division that was sent into the Arghandab district near the key southern city of Kandahar underscores the scope of resistance. Just three weeks after moving in the area, the unit had lost seven wounded. Three had lost one or both of their legs in bomb blasts. The platoon commander told Reuters: "As we’ve been taking casualties, we’ve not been able to push out, and they’ve been coming in closer. It’s been tough going for us."

The US-led occupation faces the same strategic quagmire as that experienced by the Soviet military during its failed attempt to subjugate the Afghan people from 1979 to 1988. Even with 130,000 troops, tens of thousands of mercenary private contractors and sophisticated weaponry—more forces than the Soviets deployed—it cannot control vast swathes of the country and has been unable to cut off the movement of insurgents between Afghanistan and safe havens in the tribal regions of North West Pakistan.

Over the weekend, the Taliban allegedly recaptured the Barg-e Matal area in Nuristan province, which borders Pakistan and is an important supply route for their fighters. Occupation forces had been pulled out in order to bolster troop strength around the country’s major urban centres. The Afghan government forces left to hold the territory reportedly suffered large casualties before fleeing and abandoning it to the insurgency.

The attempt to construct a functioning Afghan puppet army and police to relieve the pressure on the US-led forces has effectively failed. Every level of the local security forces is riddled with corruption and demoralisation. Several recent incidents in which Afghan soldiers or police have killed their US or British trainers point to the resentment of the occupation and the likely infiltration of the Kabul government security forces by Taliban sympathisers.

Hamid Karzai claimed at last week’s international conference in Kabul that his government would be able to take over the conduct of the counterinsurgency by 2014. Even if one assumes that this optimistic and barely credible scenario is realised, it means that US and allied forces face the prospect of between 2,000 to 4,000 more dead and as many as 40,000 wounded.

The Obama administration is nevertheless determined to realise the US imperialist objective of using Afghanistan as a base to exert dominance over the energy-rich Central Asian region. The removal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal as commander of the occupation forces has been followed by moves by the new commander, Gen. David Petraeus, to lift the few limitations McChrystal had imposed on the use of force against the Afghan civilian population.

At the same time, immense political pressure has been brought on the European and Australian governments taking part in the occupation to commit to keeping their troops in Afghanistan indefinitely, despite overwhelming domestic opposition to an ever more murderous neo-colonial war.

The chairman of the US Joints Chief of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, flew into Afghanistan on Sunday and bluntly told a press conference, "As we continue our force levels and our operations over the summer… we will likely see further tough casualties and levels of violence."


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 26, 2010, 03:13:12 pm
It’s No Secret: Afghanistan Is a Quagmire
Posted on Jul 26, 2010

By Eugene Robinson


The tens of thousands of classified military documents posted on the Internet Sunday confirm what critics of the war in Afghanistan already knew or suspected: We are wading deeper into a long-running, morally ambiguous conflict that has virtually no chance of ending well.

The Obama administration, our NATO allies and the Afghan government responded to the documents—made public by a gadfly organization known as Wikileaks—by saying they tell us nothing new. Which is the problem.

We already had plenty of evidence that elements within Pakistan’s intelligence services were giving support and guidance to the Taliban insurgency inside Afghanistan, even though Pakistan is supposed to be our ally in the fight against the terrorists. The newly released documents don’t provide conclusive proof, but they do give a sense of how voluminous the evidence is. “American soldiers on the ground are inundated with accounts of a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators,” according to The New York Times, one of three news organizations—along with The Guardian and Der Spiegel—with which Wikileaks shared the documents in advance.

We already knew that U.S. and other coalition forces were inflicting civilian casualties that had the effect of enraging local villagers and often driving them into the enemy camp. The documents merely reveal episodes that were previously unpublicized—an October 2008 incident in which French troops opened fire on a bus near Kabul and wounded eight children, for example, and a tragedy two months later when a U.S. squad riddled another bus with gunfire, killing four passengers and wounding 11 others.

We knew that U.S. and allied special forces units were authorized to assassinate senior Taliban or al-Qaida figures. The leaked documents sketch the activities of the secret “kill or capture” unit named Task Force 373—and in the process, according to The Guardian, “raise fundamental questions about the legality of the killings ... and also pragmatically about the impact of a tactic which is inherently likely to kill, injure and alienate the innocent bystanders whose support the coalition craves.”

The Guardian highlights a 2007 incident in which Task Force 373, operating in a valley near Jalalabad, set out to apprehend or kill a Taliban commander named Qarl Ur-Rahman. As the commandos neared the target, someone pointed a flashlight at them; they called for air support, and an AC-130 gunship strafed the area. Later, they discovered that they had killed seven Afghan National Police officers and wounded four others.

A few days later, according to the documents, a Task Force 373 unit fired rockets into a village where they believed a foreign jihadist fighter from Libya was hiding. They killed six Taliban fighters—but also seven civilians, all of them children. One was alive when allied medics arrived. “The Med TM immediately cleared debris from the mouth and performed CPR,” the incident report states, but after 20 minutes the child died.

We knew that the Afghan government was spectacularly corrupt. The documents let us glimpse a bit of that corruption—how commonplace it is and how it destroys public trust.

The documents do tell us some things that we didn’t know—for example, that the Taliban apparently used a heat-seeking missile to shoot down a coalition helicopter in 2007, at a time when U.S. officials were pooh-poohing the threat to allied aircraft from insurgent forces. Underestimating the enemy is rarely a good idea.

And the “Afghan War Diary,” as Wikileaks calls the documents, brings into clear focus the Catch-22 absurdity of trying to wage counterinsurgency warfare in a nation with a 2,000-year tradition of implacable resistance to foreign invaders. As the White House was quick to point out, the documents cover the period before President Barack Obama ordered an escalation and a change of strategy. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Obama’s chosen commander, tried his best to limit civilian casualties—but soldiers complained, with some justification, that they were not being allowed to fully engage and pursue the enemy. Gen. David Petraeus, put in charge after McChrystal’s dismissal, is under pressure from the ranks to relax the rules of engagement—which would surely lead to more civilians killed, and more grieving relatives transformed into Taliban sympathizers.

Overall, though, the most shocking thing about the “War Diary” may be that it fails to shock. The documents illustrate how futile—and tragically wasteful—it is to send more young men and women to fight and die in Afghanistan.

But we knew this, didn’t we?

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 27, 2010, 06:07:27 am
Published on Monday, July 26, 2010 by Al Jazeera English

'Scores Die in Afghan Village Raid'

by Al Jazeera English

A rocket attack on an Afghan village has killed at least 45 civilians, including women and children, a spokesman for Afghan president Hamid Karzai said.

A US soldier frisks an Afghan villager during a patrol in Dand district of Kandahar Province. A rocket attack on an Afghan village killed up to 45 civilians, a spokesman for President Hamid Karzai told AFP on Monday, as leaked documents laid bare the civilian toll of the US-led war.(AFP/Manpreet Romana)

An investigation is underway to determine who was responsible for the reported attack in Sangin district of southern province Helmand on Friday.

"Our understanding is yes, there was a rocket launched. Yes, it hit a civilian house where many people sought refuge and yes there were around 45 to 50 people killed," Waheed Omar said.

Asked if the attack was carried out by NATO forces, Omar said: "We will need to wait until we have a final report before we have the source as to what happened and who did it."

Karzai ordered the National Security Council to investigate the incident, Sediq Sediqqi, head of media relations at the presidency, said earlier.

Helicopter attack

Reports surfaced on Saturday that a helicopter gunship fired on villagers who had been told by insurgents to leave their homes as a firefight with troops from NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was imminent.

According to witness accounts, men, women and children fled to Regey village and were fired on from helicopter gunships as they took cover.

Abdul Ghafar, 45, told the French press agency, AFP, that he lost "two daughters and one son and two sisters" in the attack.

He and six other families fled to Regey, about 500 meters from their village of Ishaqzai, after being warned about the imminent battle, he said.

Men and women took shelter in separate compounds, he said, ahead of an expected firefight between Taliban and NATO troops.

"Helicopters started firing on the compound killing almost everyone inside," he said, speaking at the Mirwais hospital in Kandahar city.

"We rushed to the house and there were eight children wounded and around 40 to 50 others killed," he said.

He took three girls and four boys to the Kandahar hospital, he said, adding: "Three of the wounded are my nephews and one is my son.

"One of the wounded children is four years old and has lost both parents."

The BBC said it sent an Afghan reporter to Regey to interview residents, who described the attack and said they buried 39 people.

Civilian casualties are an incendiary topic in Afghanistan, though surveys have shown that most are caused by Taliban attacks.

ISAF spokesman Colonel Wayne Shanks said the location of the reported deaths was "several kilometers away from where we had engaged enemy fighters".

ISAF forces had fought a battle with insurgents, he said, but an investigation team dispatched after the casualty reports emerged "had accounted for all the rounds that were shot at the enemy", Shanks said.

"We found no evidence of civilian casualties," he said.


But leaked documents carried by the web whistleblower Wikileaks on Sunday pointed to under-reporting of civilian casualties, which Omar said were a cause of concern for the Afghan government.

The Pentagon files and field reports spanning the period from January 2004 to December 2009 detail hundreds of unreported civilian deaths caused by NATO and Taliban attacks.

"We have continuously stated that the Afghan government and Afghan people were upset about civilian casualties," he told reporters, adding that Karzai had found nothing new in the leaked documents.

The White House condemned the leaks, saying the information could endanger US lives but also pointed to the administration's long-held concerns about alleged links between Pakistani intelligence agents and Afghan insurgents.

 Source: Agencies
© 2010


Article printed from

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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 27, 2010, 06:32:24 am
South Asia
Jul 28, 2010 
Obama's Afghanistan strategy under siege

By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - Monday's release by WikiLeaks of tens of thousands of classified documents detailing the travails of the United States military in Afghanistan and Pakistan's secret support for the Taliban from 2004 through 2009 comes amid a growing crisis of confidence here in the nearly nine-year-old war.

Coming on top of the steady increase in US and North Atlantic Treaty organization (NATO) casualties in Afghanistan - July may yet exceed June as the highest monthly death toll for US and NATO forces since the war began in late 2001 - the unprecedented leak can only add to the pessimism that has spread from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party to the heart of the foreign policy establishment, and even to a growing number of Republicans.

What hope was generated by President Barack Obama's appointment last month of General David Petraeus, whose counter-insurgency (COIN) tactics are widely credited with curbing Iraq's rapid descent into all-out civil war three years ago, to command US forces in Afghanistan has largely dissipated as a result of the steady flow of bad news - of which the WikiLeaks document dump and the weekend capture by the Taliban of two US seamen in a remote part of the country were only the latest examples.

Even before the latest events, key figures in the foreign policy elite were breaking with the prevailing consensus of just a few months ago: that Obama's strategy of combining classic COIN military tactics - notably, prioritizing the protection of the population - with building the capacity and extending the reach of the central government through a "civilian surge" could indeed reverse the Taliban's momentum and force them to sue for peace.

In one widely noted column published by Politico in mid-July, Robert Blackwill, a senior national security official in the administrations of both George H W and George W Bush, called for "partitioning" Afghanistan between the Taliban's stronghold of the mostly Pashtun south, and the multi-ethnic northern and western parts of the country where the US and like-minded nations would continue to base a sizeable force.

"Such a de facto partition would be a profoundly disappointing outcome to America's 10 years in Afghanistan," wrote Blackwill, who dismissed concerns that such a move risked creating a "Pashtunistan" that could threaten the territorial integrity of Pakistan, in another column in the Financial Times last week. "But, regrettably, it is now the best that can be realistically and responsibly achieved."

At the same time, Richard Haass - like Blackwill a key official in both Bush administrations and president of the influential Council on Foreign Relations for most of the past decade - offered a variation of that stratagem which he called "decentralization", in last week's Newsweek cover story, entitled "We're Not Winning. It's Not Worth It."

Under Haass' vision, Washington would reduce its efforts to build up the central government and the Afghan army and security forces. Instead, it would provide "arms and training to those local Afghan leaders throughout the country who reject al-Qaeda and who do not seek to undermine Pakistan", including Taliban leaders willing to accept those conditions, while maintaining sufficient US forces at the ready to enforce them.

While fighting would likely continue in Afghanistan for years, Washington could reduce its troop levels there significantly, according to Haass.

While Haass has for some time been skeptical of Obama's nation-building strategy in Afghanistan, other influential supporters of the effort are also calling for major adjustments in policy.

In the New Republic, Steve Coll, a veteran regional expert who also serves as president of the New America Foundation, implicitly took Haass and Blackwill to task, suggesting that their approach would essentially abandon the south to the Taliban and the rest of the country to local warlords.

Instead, he called for Washington to follow the strategy followed by the last communist ruler of Afghanistan, Mohammad Najibullah, after the Soviet collapse when he sought - albeit unsuccessfully - to forge the broadest possible alliance against the Islamist mujahideen insurgency.

Washington must now - hopefully, with President Hamid Karzai's cooperation - work to reinforce "a national consensus to prevent the Taliban or any other armed faction from seizing power as international troops gradually pull back from direct combat," according to Coll, who argued that, under current circumstances, "the Afghan body politic is in increasing danger of fissuring," very possibly into civil war as US and NATO forces withdraw.

While the urgency with which these alternative strategies are being floated reflects the foreign policy elite's disunity over what is to be done, recent polls suggest that public confidence in the current strategy is in steady decline.

Growing - although hardly overwhelming - majorities believe that the Afghan war, currently funded at about US$100 billion a year and which last month took the lives of 102 NATO soldiers, has not been worth the cost. Much larger majorities believe the war is either stalemated or being lost.

Public disillusionment is increasingly reflected in the US Congress where a $37 billion emergency war bill has been held up for nearly a month amid doubts about US strategy, doubts that even Petraeus appears unable to dispel.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, whose loyalty to Obama's foreign policy in general and Afghanistan strategy, in particular, has been much appreciated by the White House, has become increasingly uneasy in recent weeks.

He will hold hearings this week on the administration's policy toward possible negotiations between Karzai and the Taliban, one of the areas on which the administration - and its NATO allies - appear to be in considerable disarray.

That unease was evident Monday after the WikiLeaks release.

"However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan," Kerry said in a prepared statement. "Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent."

The committee's ranking Republican, Senator Richard Lugar, who supported Obama's decision last November to increase US troops levels to 100,000 by this autumn, has also expressed growing doubts about where the strategy is headed. He warned last week that Washington could continue "spending billions of dollars each year without ever reaching a satisfying conclusion".

And while most Republicans remain hawkish on Afghanistan, severely criticizing Obama's decision to set a July 2011 deadline for beginning the drawdown of US forces from Afghanistan, some in their rank and file, including several figures associated with the populist "Tea Party" movement, are calling for an earlier date.

Indeed, when the controversial Republican Party chairman Michael Steele argued that Afghanistan was Obama's "war of choice" and suggested that it was being waged in vain, calls for his resignation by party hawks were rejected by a number of right-wing activists.

"America is weary," Representative Jason Chaffetz told Newsweek. "We're fast approaching a decade [of war] and no end in sight."

Jim Lobe's blog on US foreign policy can be read at

(Inter Press Service) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 27, 2010, 06:50:02 am
US Afghan war to persist after 2011

Tue, 27 Jul 2010 07:37:41 GMT

Admiral Mike Mullen says the US mission in Afghanistan will not end with a scheduled July 2011 withdrawal deadline.

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen has concluded his visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan, amid doubts over Washington's war strategy in the region.

Mullen said Monday that a mid 2011 deadline for the start of a withdrawal of US troops from the war-torn Afghanistan did not signal a retreat from the region.

"I want to be very clear about one thing … America's military mission there will not end in July of 2011… No one is looking for the door out of Afghanistan or this region," he told a news conference in the Pakistani capital Islamabad on Monday.

Mullen further added that the United States and its allies would, however, begin the process of transition of security responsibilities to the Afghan National Security Forces in July 2011.

"But whether that will happen, how much of it will happen, will be completely depended on conditions on the ground," the senior US military official stressed.

He also once again reiterated Washington's commitment to dismantling and defeating al-Qaeda and its extremist allies, as well as preventing Afghanistan from ever becoming a haven for them again.

Mullen's remarks come not long after the whistle-blower Website Wikileaks released thousands of secret US military documents on the Afghan war during the period from 2004 to 2009.

Many of the files detail how the US-led forces killed or wounded Afghan civilians in unreported attacks. Wikileaks says the reports contain information that could amount to war crimes in Afghanistan.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 27, 2010, 09:39:52 am
US forces hit target 'with no civilian deaths' – but Afghans tell different tale

Special forces ensured 'no innocent Afghans in area', but villagers say up to 300 civilians died in attack

by David Leigh

July 26, 2010

On 2 August 2007, a US special forces team mounted what they hoped would be an assassination spectacular in the Baghni valley, in the mountains of northern Helmand. They called it Operation Jang Baz.

Special operations troops, the war logs report, "tracked and fixed 2 senior Taliban commanders" to the remote spot. The files reveal their names were Mullah Ikhlas, and his deputy, known as Qalandari. Both were listed as "High Value Individuals tier 2", putting them near the top of the US "kill or capture" list. Ikhlas was believed to run the entire Taliban fighting machine in southern Afghanistan.

The special forces command claimed that Ikhlas was "conducting a major Shura" – a conference of top Taliban. After dropping six 2,000lb GBU-31 guided bombs on the meeting from a B1 jet, the coalition reported "effectively destroying the primary target location" and killing 50 "Taliban senior commanders, security and fighters". Lt Gen John Mulholland, of the special operations command, later claimed "over 150 Taliban fighters" had been killed.

It was later realised that despite "multiple forms of positive identification" Ikhlas had in fact probably never been there at all. The US was to claim to have killed him again in another air strike on 2 December 2007, and subsequently arrested a Mullah Ikhlas many months later, on 7 May 2008, in Garmsir, further south in Helmand.

A statement released from Bagram air base on the day of Operation Jang Baz said the bombs had been dropped "after ensuring there were no innocent Afghans in the surrounding area".

Within 24 hours, however, villagers were telling a very different story from the one presented in the war logs. Locals told Reuters that up to 300 civilians – as well as a number of Taliban – were killed in the air strike after they had been rounded up to watch a Taliban-organised public hanging of two suspected spies. No mention of such a "Taliban court" appears in the official war logs , where it might have flagged up the prospect of civilian deaths.

The local police chief was reported as claiming more than 20 wounded civilians were sent to a hospital in Lashkar Gar and others transferred to hospitals in Kandahar. A doctor at the Lashkar Gar hospital was quoted as saying he was treating at least 18 civilians, including an eight-year-old.

According to reports, the Taliban denied there were hangings taking place, or insurgents present, claiming that the air strikes killed only civilians gathering at a local shrine for a religious ceremony.

But the coalition dismissed claims of civilian deaths. "It is interesting there were no females," said Lieutenant-Colonel Charlie Mayo, a British spokesman. "We are very confident we hit a large meeting of Taliban, and they are very sore about it."


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 27, 2010, 09:45:41 am
52 civilians killed by NATO rocket fire in S. Afghanistan: official


KABUL, July 26, 2010 (Xinhua) -- More than 50 non-combatants were killed by NATO troops in the troubled Helmand province in south Afghanistan on Friday, a spokesman to Presidential Palace said on Monday.

"Fifty-two civilians were killed in Sangin district on Friday as NATO forces fired a rocket," Siamak Heravi told Xinhua.

However, he did not give more details, saying a statement would be released in this regard.

Early on Saturday locals in Sangin district said that more than 50 civilians including women and children were killed as NATO's aircraft dropped bomb.

Abdul Ghafar, 60, who took four injured children of his family to Kandahar's Mir Wais hospital, told Xinhua on Saturday that the incident occurred during a battle between NATO-Afghan troops and Taliban insurgents.

He said members of six families gathered in a house in Regi village of Sangin district when the attacks from air and ground happened as a result between 50-60 people with majority of them civilians were killed.

President Hamid Karzai on Sunday ordered concerned authorities to investigate the case.

Spokesman for Helmand's provincial administration Daud Ahmadi said earlier that investigation team had been sent to the site of the incident and the exact figure of the casualties would be made public after completion of the investigation.

NATO forces on Saturday rejected the claim, saying no operation has been carried out in Sangin district.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 27, 2010, 03:14:09 pm
UK soldier: Jail better than Afghan war

Tue, 27 Jul 2010 15:35:02 GMT

Anti-war soldier Joe Glenton has spoken at several rallies about his refusal to go back to war in Afghanistan.

A former British soldier who was previously jailed for refusing to fight in Afghanistan has told an anti-war rally that every second he spent behind bars was worth his decision.

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton, 27, told a gathering of anti-war campaigners in Central London that public opinion is decisively against the war and that British soldiers must be brought home, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Earlier in 2009, Glenton wrote a letter to then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, explaining that the occupation of Afghanistan was immoral and illegal.

He went on to warn that the invasion was "antagonizing the entire Muslim world."

The former soldier was sentenced to nine months in prison in March after going absent without leave from the army in 2007 and refusing to fight in Afghanistan.

However, Glenton was released for good behavior after serving four months of his nine-month sentence.

His public appearance comes as the documents leaked by whistle-blower website Wikileaks revealed the detail of the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2009.

The files include many accounts of how US and British soldiers killed or wounded Afghan civilians in unreported attacks.

Britain has about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, mostly based in the south of the country. Since the start of the war in 2001, 325 British soldiers have lost their lives in the war-torn country.

The rising number of foreign casualties has sparked anger in the countries which are allied with the US in its war in Afghanistan.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 28, 2010, 05:46:33 am
House GOP helps Obama fund war

Democrats give up efforts to tie in more spending

HELP ON THE WAY: An Afghan soldier fighting alongside U.S. troops launches a grenade during a clash in Kandahar. President Obama will get a $59 billion emergency war-spending bill to sign to fund his U.S. troop surge. (Associated Press)

By Stephen Dinan
8:38 p.m., Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Republicans came to President Obama's rescue Tuesday, providing him the votes needed for quick passage of a $59 billion emergency war-spending bill to fund his 30,000 Afghanistan troop surge.

The bill cleared the House by a vote of 308-114, or well more than the two-thirds needed under expedited rules. It now heads to Mr. Obama for his signature after House Democratic leaders acceded to the administration's demand for action and gave up their hopes of tacking on billions of dollars in new stimulus spending.

Handing Mr. Obama another victory just before approving the war spending, the House overwhelmingly rejected a measure introduced by Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, to remove any U.S. armed forces operating in Pakistan.

"Denying terrorists a safe haven in Iraq and Afghanistan is critical to the safety and security of our country. As our troops continue their fight, it is imperative that Congress continue to provide the resources they need and support their mission," said House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.

Lawmakers were not swayed by the recent publication of a trove of leaked documents depicting a tough slog in the war in Afghanistan.

But it took the strength of Republican votes to deliver the money — one of just a few times Mr. Obama has had to rely on his political opponents. Voting for the bill were 160 Republicans and 148 Democrats, while 102 Democrats and 12 Republicans opposed it.

Mr. Obama first requested the money in February, but for months the House, Senate and administration have been sparring over the size and shape of the package. On Tuesday, though, Democrats said they needed to "get this behind us" and move on to the rest of their agenda, including the regular spending bills to keep the government running in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

Republicans said the bill could have been passed two months ago but for Democrats' desire to add more domestic stimulus spending to the measure.

"Our first job as members of Congress is to support our troops and the men and women who are in harm's way protecting our country," said Rep. Jerry Lewis of California, the ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee.

Ahead of the vote, Mr. Obama made his own plea, telling the House to follow the lead of the Senate, which passed the bill unanimously last week.

Still, the bill deeply split House Democrats. The chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. David R. Obey, Wisconsin Democrat, voted against it, saying he doesn't have confidence that the war is still the right solution. He pointed to a recent statement by the CIA director that fewer than 100 members of al Qaeda are still in Afghanistan as evidence that the war effort there is wasted.

"I cannot look my constituents in the eye and say this operation will hurt our enemies more than it hurts us," he said.

But one of his chief deputies, Rep. Norm Dicks, Washington Democrat and chairman of the defense spending subcommittee, said the administration needed the money, and urged his colleagues to support it.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Ike Skelton of Missouri, also backed the spending, saying without it, the Defense Department could have to furlough employees and cut programs just to keep paying the troops.

The bill became a lightning rod for various fights, including war policy and stimulus spending. Emergency spending bills are considered must-pass legislation and are considered to be good vehicles to tack on other priorities.

Mr. Obey's initial version of the bill included tens of billions of dollars in stimulus spending, including money for states and localities to keep or hire teachers.

He proposed redirecting some of last year's $862 billion stimulus package to pay for the new spending, but that prompted a veto threat from the White House, which said the original Recovery Act should not be altered.

Mr. Obey's version also included hundreds of millions of dollars to fund Mr. Obama's pledge to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, and to pay for more technology to catch illegal immigrants. Congressional aides said that money might be passed as a stand-alone bill.

Democrats accused Republicans of blocking the extra funding.

"They need to understand that they are obstructing our economic recovery, as well," said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, Maryland Democrat. "However, because it is so important to fund our troops before leaving for the August district work period, I am pleased that a majority of my colleagues chose to vote yes."

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 28, 2010, 06:00:30 am
Afghanistan questions U.S. silence over Pakistan's role

KABUL | Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:06am EDT
By Sayed Salahuddin

A soldier with an injured ankle from the US Army's 1-320 Field Artillery Regiment, 101st Airborne Division is assisted past his burning M-ATV armored vehicle after it struck an IED on a road near Combat Outpost Nolen in the Arghandab Valley, July 23, 2010. None of the four soldiers in the vehicle were seriously injured in the explosion. Credit: Reuters/Bob Strong

KABUL (Reuters) - The United States has pursued a contradictory policy with regard to the Afghan war by ignoring Pakistan's role in the insurgency, the Afghan government said on Tuesday, following the leak of U.S. military documents.

The classified documents released by the organization, WikiLeaks, show current and former members of Pakistan's spy agency were actively collaborating with the Taliban in plotting attacks in Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, in its first reaction to the leak, Afghanistan's National Security Council said the United States had failed to attack the patrons and supporters of the Taliban hiding in Pakistan throughout the nine-year conflict.

"With regret ... our allies did not show necessary attention about the external support for the international terrorists ... for the regional stability and global security," the council said in a statement.

Afghanistan has long blamed Pakistan for meddling in its affairs, accusing the neighbor of plotting attacks to destabilize it. Islamabad, which has had longstanding ties to the Taliban, denies involvement in the insurgency and says it is a victim of militancy itself.

The National Security Council did not name Pakistan, but said use of terrorism as an instrument of state policy was a dangerous **** and had to be stopped.

"Having a contradictory and vague policy against the forces who use terrorism as a tool for interference and sabotage against others, have had devastating results," it said.

At a news conference later on Tuesday, council head Rangeen Dadfar Spanta was more specific, questioning the billions of dollars in cash aid and military assistance Washington has given to Pakistan over the years.

"It is really not justifiable for the Afghan people that how come you give to one country $11 billion or more as help for reconstruction or strengthen its security or defensive forces, but from other side the very forces train terrorism," he said.

He warned that the war would not succeed unless there was a review of Afghan policy by Washington that focuses on Taliban sanctuaries and bases in Pakistan and their supporters.

Those supporting militants should be punished rather than be treated as an ally, said Spanta, who served for years as foreign minister in President Hamid Karzai's government until last year.

The White House has condemned the WikiLeaks disclosures, saying it could threaten national security. Pakistan said leaking unprocessed reports from the battlefield was irresponsible.

The documents numbering tens of thousands also said that coalition troops had killed hundreds of Afghan civilians in unreported incidents and often sought to cover up the mistakes that have shaken up confidence in the war effort among many in Afghanistan.

On Monday, the Afghan government said it had spoken in private and in public meetings with its Western allies about the need to stop civilian deaths.

"In the past nine years (since Taliban's fall) thousands of citizens of Afghanistan and from our ally countries have become victimised," it said.

(Editing by Sugita Katyal)

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 28, 2010, 06:08:54 am
South Asia
Jul 29, 2010 
Plan B for Afghanistan

By Brian M Downing

It is becoming increasingly clear that US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) efforts to develop a stable political system and growing economy in Afghanistan are failing. The government of President Hamid Karzai has little support in or out of the country. The Taliban have recovered from their sudden ouster in late 2001 and now control or have a strong presence in much of the Pashtun regions of the south and east.

One option would be for the US and its allies to withdraw from the Pashtun regions and concentrate on political and economic development in the northern areas, where the insurgency is weak and anti-Taliban sentiment is strong. Retrenchment in the north would confer considerable flexibility and advantages.

Immediate prospects
At present, the Taliban are deeply embedded in many if not most parts of the Pashtun regions in the south and east. Through parley or threat, they have won local support and brought levies of local men into their forces.

Western forces are unable to garner intelligence from locals or get them to serve effectively in militias; they are being attrited by roadside bombs; and they are operating in smaller and smaller enclaves in the south and east. Seeking to reverse this state of affairs will be painstakingly slow and will take many years and many hundreds of US casualties per year.

The recent firing of General McChrystal as the top US commander in Afghanistan, though apparently unrelated to the conduct of the war, has emboldened insurgent groups. They see his departure as stemming from their successes over the years, especially in countering counter-insurgency (COIN) operations. Insurgents can look back on the past few years and feel justifiable confidence.

General David Petraeus has taken command and this has led to optimism that he can repeat his successes in Iraq where tribal parleys won over Sunni Arab insurgents. But too much adulation may have been heaped on the general by a public that knows little about Iraq or counter-insurgency, and perhaps too much is expected of him.

And a general does not go twice into the same insurgency. A principal reason for the Sunni Arab volte face lay in their hopeless strategic position - at once fighting qualitatively superior coalition forces and quantitatively superior Shi'ite militias. Sunni Arabs saved themselves by allying with the US and turning on al-Qaeda forces, which in any event had become arrogant nuisances.

Furthermore, foreign powers helped quell the insurgency. Saudi diplomats and intelligence personnel prevailed on the tribes of al-Anbar province (especially the Dulayim who straddle the Iraq-Saudi border) to ally with the US. Similarly, Iran used its considerable influence with the Shi'ite militias and political parties to end the fighting.

For similar help from abroad, Petraeus will have to contend with the Taliban's chief supporter - Pakistan. Earlier in 2010, Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) arrested several important Taliban figures - a move thought to have been the result of US pressure on Pakistan to force the Taliban into negotiations. Though Pakistan's intentions remain unclear, the arrests of the Taliban figures, who were thought to be in talks with the Karzai government, might be an ISI effort to block Taliban negotiations with Karzai so as to ensure that Pakistani intelligence shapes any settlement.

The recent leaked classified US military documents point to Pakistan's ongoing involvement in Afghanistan. (See Pakistan has its own battle to fight Asia Times Online, July 28, 2010.)

Unlikelihood of a complete withdrawal
The war is seasonal. Many insurgent fighters return to their homes in the autumn to help with crops and herds, then return in the late spring. This leads to variations in casualties, which in turn affects support in the US public and that of NATO partners.

The return of part-time fighters to their insurgent bands and the initiation of US/NATO operations in the south will lead to higher casualties - and greater debate. Support is waning in European countries, where mythic notions of war perished amid two world wars and where more recently politicians and generals have become unhappy with unfolding of events. Several countries with sizeable commitments will likely begin to leave within a year, triggering more intense debate in the countries that remain.

Distractions abound in the US public, but higher casualties and the attention brought on by the US commander's awkward comments on his civilian authorities. Opposition to the war may become statistically stronger yet remain politically weak. Casualties are not borne by the public at large, rather chiefly by working-class and rural Americans with greater respect for the military and war service than found in the rest of America - large portions of which are silently thankful that family members have nothing to do with military service.

Republican opposition to the war is muted. It was a Republican president in George W Bush after all who opted to occupy Afghanistan, and President Barack Obama has followed military counsel in the last year. Still, in the event of withdrawal or defeat, Republicans are prepared to pounce on their political opponents for "losing Afghanistan". Democrats in the public, convinced they elected a non-warlike president, are increasingly restive.

Most of the public - as noted, untouched by the war - are given to oscillation and indecision. A Vietnam-era poll might be recalled here. In May of 1969, with opposition to the war over 60%, only 9% of the public favored withdrawal if it meant that South Vietnam would fall, as it surely would (and as it surely did). They wanted neither war nor defeat, neither casualties nor withdrawal without victory.

Formidable currents against withdrawal permeate American political culture. There is a belief that withdrawal or defeat in Afghanistan will lead to renewed al-Qaeda sanctuaries and another wave of terrorism in the US. This is unlikely, as an al-Qaeda return to Afghanistan would offer nothing it doesn't have in Pakistan and it is clear that al-Qaeda can never operate openly anywhere. Any major base or center, regardless of the host country's disposition, will be destroyed. If they build one, the drones will come.

Global presence is a basic part of America's self-image and will not be relinquished easily. A military presence in some 84 countries around the world came as a surprise to Americans born before World War II; it became a fundamental part of the national identity to those born after the intoxicating victory of 1945. The American identity of prosperity and virtue became infused with global power and mission. The September 11, 2001, attacks charged the nation with defending itself through campaigns across the world. Relinquishing this mission, and the national identity behind it, will be difficult, especially now that terrorism is returning to America.

Recently, the Department of Defense released a geological study that reported a wealth of mineralogical deposits throughout Afghanistan. Among these deposits are considerable amounts of rare earths, which are critical to many hi-tech instruments with military and civilian applications. They are also critical to many "green" technologies, such energy-producing windmills. There is also promising oil and gas wealth in Kunduz province in the north.

Withdrawal to the north
The war as it is being fought shows little promise. The Kabul government has no meaningful support. Support in the US and elsewhere is on the wane, yet no consensus on withdrawal is likely. Another way to fight the war is needed or the US faces a lengthy, inconclusive war lasting a decade or more with a likely disagreeable outcome.

An alternative lies in recognizing and seizing on the geographical realities of the insurgency and withdrawing from the south and east - large portions of which have been left to insurgents already - and consolidating in the north and west. A diagonal line - based on centuries-old ethnic distributions, not drawn by an arbitrary outsider - could provide the basis for a more promising outcome.

The Taliban insurgency is based almost exclusively around the Pashtun tribes in the south and east. Outside those areas, in the north and west, there are almost no Pashtuns - and almost no insurgency - save for a pocket of Pashtun in the north-central area near the border with Tajikistan.

The north and west are inhabited chiefly by Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and a miscellany of other peoples who compose 45% to 50% of the Afghan population. Having suffered under Taliban rule and in cases endured massacres at their hands, they vehemently oppose the Taliban. It will be remembered that it was the Tajiks and Uzbeks who composed the bulk of the Northern Alliance, which held onto their redoubt throughout the Taliban period (1996-2001) and which with US help drive the Taliban into Pakistan in 2001.

The northern peoples have maintained their own military formations which pose a serious deterrent to a Pashtun incursion into lands in which they have no indigenous support. These militaries are well-disciplined and well-armed - the legacies of Ahmad Shah Massoud's and Abdul Dostum's forces that fought the Russians in the 1980s and the Taliban. This is a welcome contrast to the Afghan National Army, which has demonstrated little fighting spirit.

The people of the north and west, though divided on many matters, have a common heritage in opposing foreign invaders and overreaching rulers in Kabul as well. They have fought the Taliban and remained suspicious of the inept efforts of Karzai to form a polity, though they are granted symbolic positions as vice presidents in his government. The Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara peoples could form a more viable and effective government than the one ensconced in Kabul today.

A "Northern Afghanistan" would enjoy a great deal of regional support in state-building, economic development, military training and generally in opposing the Taliban. Russia, Iran, India, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan all oppose Islamist militancy and are concerned by its growth in Afghanistan and spread into the Ferghana Valley that winds from eastern Afghanistan into Kyrgyzstan.

By contrast, the Taliban have only the dubious support of Pakistan, which is nearing dangerous instability by any measure, and Pakistan's distant geopolitical partner, China. Economic development would lag behind that of the north. Politically, the contrast would be between a consensual formula based on
Afghan tradition in the north and to the south, a zealous theocracy based on notions of Islam brought in from distant Deobandi and Wahabbi sects.

Further, though often called by a single name, the insurgency comprises numerous, disparate groups: the Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami, the network of Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani, and numerous clan-based militias. They are reasonably united today in the face of foreign occupation and corrupt administration, but with a Western withdrawal from the south and east the unity would collapse, large-scale desertions would ensue, and infighting would break out, all of which took place when the Soviet Union withdrew in the late 1980s.

Militarily, the Taliban are tenacious fighters who knew well the advantages of the terrain. They were effective in defeating the scores of warlords that cropped up after the Soviet Union left and the Mohammad Najibullah government failed. They were also effective in defeating the various rival movements that came and went in the early 1990s. But these successes were greatly helped by their enemies' internal divisiveness and lack of reliable foreign aid - neither of which obtains today.

Controlling the south and east would greatly alter the Taliban's political and military situation. No longer would it be the evasive guerrilla band that attacks police stations, sets up improvised explosive devices, and rallies support against corruption and foreign occupation before vanishing into the hills. It would have to maintain a presence and govern a large, disparate and war-shattered region populated by people who expect an age of renewal and growth to come their way. The Taliban would have to build popular support after the charges of corruption and occupation begin to ring hollow, or face eroding popular support and perhaps even an insurgency of its own.

Further, the Taliban would have to be able to defend the south. Events of 2001 attest to the feebleness of the Taliban's political support and military prowess against a disciplined enemy with a modicum of airpower.

A new US position
The US would have strategic options and benefits that it does not have as long as it fights the war as it currently does. Perhaps most importantly, it would allow the US to reduce its bloody, expensive, and counter-productive presence in Central Asia.

The US could hold out the carrot of economic aid to Taliban-controlled regions. There already is a great deal of US infrastructure there in the form of hydroelectric dams, irrigation systems and road networks. This could lead to moderation within the Taliban, a complete break with al-Qaeda (to include turning over its leadership), and perhaps someday even to reconciliation and reintegration of the two parts of the country, perhaps after an agreement hammered out by a loya jirga (grand council).

Alternately, the US could pursue a stick policy. The US could support insurgencies in the south based on numerous Pashtun tribes which have longstanding hostility toward the Taliban. Further, Taliban behavior could be moderated by the threat of small-scale airstrikes from drones and fighter aircraft.

In an even less accommodating form, the US could prevent the Taliban from ever occupying an administrative center and becoming a government. The Taliban would have to remain a ghost-like guerrilla movement, unable to govern, spouting slogans that no longer resonate in the hearts and minds of Pashtuns.

It is particularly relevant to political considerations in the West that any of these policies could be pursued with a greatly reduced US/NATO troop presence.

The US would realize other benefits from withdrawing to the north. Domestic support for the effort would firm as Americans saw themselves no longer backing an inept and corrupt government and as working with a credible coalition of northern leaders, perhaps led by Abdullah Abdullah, who finished second to Karzai in last year's fraud-ridden elections.

Americans would see more political and economic development - signs of progress frustratingly absent today. Leaving the core insurgent areas and retrenching in other areas would greatly reduce US casualties and Afghan civilian casualties. Indeed, the US could greatly cut its troop levels, perhaps even reducing them by half in two years.

Regional cooperation in North Afghanistan would have long-term positive influences on the geopolitics and economic development of the area and large parts of Central Asia as well. There would be a closer working relationship with Russia, which for all its wily moves along its expansive periphery has been helpful with US/NATO logistics into Afghanistan as it shares an opposition to Islamist terrorism.

Other cooperative arrangements will present themselves. Iran has built up western Afghanistan as a glacis against the Taliban, which slaughtered its officials and cruelly oppressed its Shi'ite co-religionists, the Hazaras. India, too, shares a concern with terrorism in the region and has embarked on significant aid programs in the north.

The US could rethink its uneasy and dubious partnership with Pakistan. Its assistance was critical in supplying the mujahideen bands during the Soviet war. It led to a Soviet exit but also to a hypertrophied military intelligence service that has become the hub of terrorist and insurgent groups in Afghanistan and India. Over the years, US policy has sought to detach Pakistan from such groups - to no avail. Pakistan is perhaps the strongest state sponsor of terrorism and yet enjoys generous aid packages and trade relations.

Recognition of the two states' differing interests in Afghanistan would make US supply lines through Pakistan even less reliable than they are now. Presently, the Pakistani Taliban attack convoys on the roads between Peshawar and the Khyber Pass and the large Pashtun population in Karachi is poised to endanger logistical depots there. The reduction of US troop levels allowed by withdrawal from the south would make Pakistan less important logistically and also reduce its leverage in Washington.

Russia has maneuvered about in Central Asia but has not sought to endanger Western supply lines into Afghanistan. It has used its influence along its periphery to facilitate supply lines from the Baltic to Kyrgyzstan and has recently authorized US polar flights to use Russian air space. Russia shares the US's concern with the Taliban and its support is more dependable than Pakistan's.

A reduced presence in Afghanistan would enable the US to wage the "war on terror" in a less expensive, more adroit and perhaps more successful manner. The heavy US footprint from Iraq to Afghanistan has provided a rallying cause for jihadis throughout the Islamic world. The US could establish partnerships with local intelligence services and respond not with large operations but with rapid insertions and extractions of special forces or with the use of small-scale airstrikes. This would certainly be the case with any return of al-Qaeda bases to Pashtun parts of Afghanistan or even south of the frontier.

Withdrawal from the Pashtun parts of Afghanistan would be seen by many as tantamount to defeat - "cutting and running" in American political discourse. Such claims would undoubtedly be made and would resonate strongly in the media and public, but they display little understanding of strategy or military history.

In 1942, Colonel Dwight Eisenhower and General George Marshall determined that reinforcing the Philippines would be a misallocation of men and materiel and chose instead to fall back on Australia. Nine years later, their fellow five-star general Douglas MacArthur withdrew from positions near the Yalu River in Korea and consolidated to the south. None of these generals was thought unwise, craven or unpatriotic - and neither war ended in defeat.

As noted, withdrawing from the south and east need not be a permanent state of affairs, diplomacy and unfolding events could bring the two parts of the country back together. But should the division stand, the line would better recognize the ethnic realities of the land far better than the one Mr Henry Durand drew between Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1893.

Brian M Downing is a political/military analyst and author of The Military Revolution and Political Change and The Paths of Glory: War and Social Change in America from the Great War to Vietnam. He can be reached at


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 28, 2010, 06:12:53 am
South Asia
Jul 29, 2010 
Thousands of reasons to leave

By George Friedman

On Sunday, The New York Times and two other newspapers published summaries and excerpts of tens of thousands of documents leaked to a website known as WikiLeaks. The documents comprise a vast array of material concerning the war in Afghanistan. They range from tactical reports from small unit operations to broader strategic analyses of politico-military relations between the United States and Pakistan. It appears to be an extraordinary collection.

Tactical intelligence on firefights is intermingled with reports on confrontations between senior US and Pakistani officials in which lists of Pakistani operatives in Afghanistan are handed over to the Pakistanis. Reports on the use of surface-to-air missiles by militants in Afghanistan are intermingled with reports on the activities of former Pakistani intelligence chief Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, who reportedly continues to liaise with the Afghan Taliban in an informal capacity.

The WikiLeaks
At first glance, it is difficult to imagine a single database in which such a diverse range of intelligence was stored, or the existence of a single individual cleared to see such diverse intelligence stored across multiple databases and able to collect, collate and transmit the intelligence without detection. Intriguingly, all of what has been released so far has been not-so-sensitive material rated secret or below.

The Times reports that Gul's name appears all over the documents, yet very few documents have been released in the current batch, and it is very hard to imagine intelligence on Gul and his organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, being classified as only secret. So, this was either low-grade material hyped by the media, or there is material reviewed by the selected newspapers but not yet made public. Still, what was released and what the Times discussed is consistent with what most thought was happening in Afghanistan.

The obvious comparison is to the Pentagon Papers, commissioned by the Defense Department to gather lessons from the Vietnam War and leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the Times during the Richard Nixon administration. Many people worked on the Pentagon Papers, each of whom was focused on part of it and few of whom would have had access to all of it.

Ellsberg did not give the Times the supporting documentation; he gave it the finished product. By contrast, in the WikiLeaks case, someone managed to access a lot of information that would seem to have been contained in many different places. If this was an unauthorized leak, then it had to have involved a massive failure in security. Certainly, the culprit should be known by now and his arrest should have been announced. And certainly, the gathering of such diverse material in one place accessible to one or even a few people who could move it without detection is odd.

[US Army intelligence analyst Private First Clas Bradley E Manning, 22, who was charged in May with illegally downloading classified material in relation to leaked video of a deadly helicopter attack in Baghdad, is believed to have had access to the leaked Afghan reports that were posted on the WikiLeaks website this week, according to the Los Angeles Times and other reports. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell described Manning as a "person of interest" in the most recent WikiLeaks disclosures, the LA Times reported.]

Like the Pentagon Papers, the WikiLeaks (as I will call them) elicited a great deal of feigned surprise, not real surprise. Apart from the charge that the Lyndon Johnson administration contrived the Gulf of Tonkin incident, much of what the Pentagon Papers contained was generally known. Most striking about the Pentagon Papers was not how much surprising material they contained, but how little. Certainly, they contradicted the official line on the war, but there were few, including supporters of the war, who were buying the official line anyway.

In the case of the WikiLeaks, what is revealed also is not far from what most people believed, although they provide enormous detail. Nor is it that far from what government and military officials are saying about the war. No one is saying the war is going well, though some say that given time it might go better.

The view of the Taliban as a capable fighting force is, of course, widespread. If they weren't a capable fighting force, then the United States would not be having so much trouble defeating them. The WikiLeaks seem to contain two strategically significant claims, however. The first is that the Taliban are a more sophisticated fighting force than has been generally believed.

An example is the claim that Taliban fighters have used man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) against US aircraft. This claim matters in a number of ways. First, it indicates that the Taliban are using technologies similar to those used against the Soviets. Second, it raises the question of where the Taliban are getting them - they certainly don't manufacture MANPADS themselves.

If they have obtained advanced technologies, this would have significance on the battlefield. For example, if reasonably modern MANPADS were to be deployed in numbers, the use of American airpower would either need to be further constrained or higher attrition rates accepted. Thus far, only first- and second-generation MANPADS without infrared counter-countermeasures (which are more dangerous) appear to have been encountered, and not with decisive or prohibitive effectiveness. But in any event, this doesn't change the fundamental character of the war.

Supply lines and sanctuaries
What it does raise is the question of supply lines and sanctuaries. The most important charge contained in the leaks is about Pakistan. The WikiLeaks contain documents that charge that the Pakistanis are providing both supplies and sanctuary to Taliban fighters while objecting to American forces entering Pakistan to clean out the sanctuaries and are unwilling or unable to carry out that operation by themselves (as they have continued to do in North Waziristan).

Just as important, the documents charge that the ISI has continued to maintain liaison and support for the Taliban in spite of claims by the Pakistani government that pro-Taliban officers had been cleaned out of the ISI years ago. The document charges that Gul, the director general of the ISI from 1987 to 1989, still operates in Pakistan, informally serving the ISI and helping give the ISI plausible deniability.

Though startling, the charge that Islamabad is protecting and sustaining forces fighting and killing Americans is not a new one. When the United States halted operations in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Soviets in 1989, US policy was to turn over operations in Afghanistan to Pakistan.

United States strategy was to use Islamist militants to fight the Soviets and to use Pakistani liaisons through the ISI to supply and coordinate with them. When the Soviets and Americans left Afghanistan, the ISI struggled to install a government composed of its allies until the Taliban took over Kabul in 1996.

The ISI's relationship with the Taliban - which in many ways are the heirs to the anti-Soviet mujahideen - is widely known. In my book, America's Secret War, I discussed both this issue and the role of Gul. These documents claim that this relationship remains intact. Apart from Pakistani denials, US officials and military officers frequently made this charge off the record, and on the record occasionally. The leaks on this score are interesting, but they will shock only those who didn't pay attention or who want to be shocked.

Let's step back and consider the conflict dispassionately. The United States forced the Taliban from power. It never defeated the Taliban nor did it make a serious effort to do so, as that would require massive resources the United States doesn't have. Afghanistan is a secondary issue for the United States, especially since al-Qaeda has established bases in a number of other countries, particularly Pakistan, making the occupation of Afghanistan irrelevant to fighting al-Qaeda.

For Pakistan, however, Afghanistan is an area of fundamental strategic interest. The region's main ethnic group, the Pashtun, stretch across the Afghan-Pakistani border. Moreover, were a hostile force present in Afghanistan, as one was during the Soviet occupation, Pakistan would face threats in the west as well as the challenge posed by India in the east. For Pakistan, an Afghanistan under Pakistani influence or at least a benign Afghanistan is a matter of overriding strategic importance.

It is therefore irrational to expect the Pakistanis to halt collaboration with the force that they expect to be a major part of the government of Afghanistan when the United States leaves. The Pakistanis never expected the United States to maintain a presence in Afghanistan permanently. They understood that Afghanistan was a means toward an end, and not an end in itself. They understood this under George W Bush. They understand it even more clearly under Barack Obama, who made withdrawal a policy goal.

Given that they don't expect the Taliban to be defeated, and given that they are not interested in chaos in Afghanistan, it follows that they will maintain close relations with and support for the Taliban. Given that the United States is powerful and is Pakistan's only lever against India, the Pakistanis will not make this their public policy, however. The United States has thus created a situation in which the only rational policy for Pakistan is two-tiered, consisting of overt opposition to the Taliban and covert support for the Taliban.

This is duplicitous only if you close your eyes to the Pakistani reality, which the Americans never did. There was ample evidence, as the WikiLeaks material shows, of covert ISI ties to the Taliban. The Americans knew they couldn't break those ties. They settled for what support Pakistan could give them while constantly pressing them harder and harder until genuine fears in Washington emerged that Pakistan could destabilize altogether.

Since a stable Pakistan is more important to the United States than a victory in Afghanistan - which it wasn't going to get anyway - the United States released pressure and increased aid. If Pakistan collapsed, then India would be the sole regional power, not something the United States wants.

The WikiLeaks seem to show that, like sausage-making, one should never look too closely at how wars are fought, particularly coalition warfare. Even the strongest alliances, such as that between the United States and the United Kingdom in World War II, are fraught with deceit and dissension. London was fighting to save its empire, an end Washington was hostile to; much intrigue ensued.

The US-Pakistani alliance is not nearly as trusting. The United States is fighting to deny al-Qaeda a base in Afghanistan while Pakistan is fighting to secure its western frontier and its internal stability. These are very different ends that have very different levels of urgency.

The WikiLeaks portray a war in which the United States has a vastly insufficient force on the ground that is fighting a capable and dedicated enemy who isn't going anywhere. The Taliban know that they win just by not being defeated, and they know that they won't be defeated. The Americans are leaving, meaning the Taliban need only wait and prepare.

The Pakistanis also know that the Americans are leaving and that the Taliban or a coalition including the Taliban will be in charge of Afghanistan when the Americans leave. They will make certain that they maintain good relations with the Taliban. They will deny that they are doing this because they want no impediments to a good relationship with the United States before or after it leaves Afghanistan.

They need a patron to secure their interests against India. Since the United States wants neither an India outside a balance of power nor China taking the role of Pakistan's patron, it follows that the risk the United States will bear grudges is small. And given that, the Pakistanis can live with Washington knowing that one Pakistani hand is helping the Americans while another helps the Taliban. Power, interest and reality define the relations between nations, and different factions inside nations frequently have different agendas and work against each other.

The WikiLeaks, from what we have seen so far, detail power, interest and reality as we have known it. They do not reveal a new reality. Much will be made about the shocking truth that has been shown, which, as mentioned above, shocks only those who wish to be shocked. The Afghan war is about an insufficient American and allied force fighting a capable enemy on its home ground and a Pakistan positioning itself for the inevitable outcome. The WikiLeaks contain all the details.

We are left with the mystery of who compiled all of these documents and who had access to them with enough time and facilities to transmit them to the outside world in a blatant and sustained breach of protocol.

The image we have is of an unidentified individual or small group working to get a "shocking truth" out to the public, only the truth is not shocking - it is what was known all along in excruciating detail. Who would want to detail a truth that is already known, with access to all this documentation and the ability to transmit it unimpeded? Whoever it proves to have been has just made the most powerful case yet for withdrawal from Afghanistan sooner rather than later.

(Published with permission from STRATFOR, a Texas-based geopolitical intelligence company. Copyright 2010 Stratfor.) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 28, 2010, 06:20:12 am
South Asia
Jul 29, 2010 

The opposites game

By Tom Engelhardt

Have you ever thought about just how strange this country's version of normal truly is? Let me make my point with a single, hardly noticed Washington Post news story that's been on my mind for a while. It represents the sort of reporting that, in our world, zips by with next to no reaction, despite the true weirdness buried in it.

The piece by Craig Whitlock appeared on June 19 and was headlined, "US military criticized for purchase of Russian copters for Afghan air corps." Maybe that's strange enough for you right there. Russian copters? We all know, at least vaguely, that by year's end, US spending on its protracted Afghan war and nation-building project will be heading for US$350 billion. And those dollars do have to go somewhere.

Admittedly, these days in parts of the US, state and city governments are having a hard time finding the money just to pay teachers or the police. The Pentagon, on the other hand, hasn't hesitated to use at least $25-27 billion to "train" and "mentor" the Afghan military and police - and after each round of training failed to produce the expected results, to ask for even more money, and train them again.

That includes the Afghan National Army Air Corps which, in the Soviet era of the 1980s, had nearly 500 aircraft and a raft of trained pilots. The last of that air force - little used in the Taliban era - was destroyed in the US air assault and invasion of 2001. As a result, the "Afghan air force" (with about 50 helicopters and transport planes) is now something of a misnomer, since it is, in fact, the US Air Force.

Still, there are a few Afghan pilots, mostly in their forties, trained long ago on Russian Mi-17 transport helicopters, and it's on a refurbished version of these copters, Whitlock tells us, that the Pentagon has already spent $648 million. The Mi-17 was specially built for Afghanistan's difficult flying environment back when various Islamic jihadis, some of whom we're now fighting under the rubric of "the Taliban", were allied with us against the Russians.

Here's the first paragraph of Whitlock's article: "The US government is snapping up Russian-made helicopters to form the core of Afghanistan's fledgling air force, a strategy that is drawing flak from members of Congress who want to force the Afghans to fly American choppers instead."

So, various congressional representatives are upset over the lack of a buy-American plan when it comes to the Afghan air force. That's the story Whitlock sets out to tell, because the Pentagon has been planning to purchase dozens more of the Mi-17s over the next decade, and that, it seems, is what's worth being upset about when perfectly good American arms manufacturers aren't getting the contracts.

But let's consider three aspects of Whitlock's article that no one is likely to spend an extra moment on, even if they do capture the surpassing strangeness of the American way of war in distant lands - and in Washington.

1. The little training program that couldn't: There are at present an impressive 450 US personnel in Afghanistan training the Afghan air force. Unfortunately, there's a problem. There may be no "buy American" program for that air force, but there is a "speak American" one. To be an Afghan air force pilot, you must know English - "the official language of the cockpit", Whitlock assures us (even if to fly Russian helicopters). As he points out, however, the trainees, mostly illiterate, take two to five years simply to learn the language. (Imagine a US Air Force in which, just to take off, every pilot needed to know Dari!)

Thanks to this language barrier, the US can train endlessly and next to nothing is guaranteed to happen. "So far," reports Whitlock, "only one Afghan pilot has graduated from flight school in the United States, although dozens are in the pipeline. That has forced the air corps to rely on pilots who learned to fly Mi-17s during the days of Soviet and Taliban rule." In other words, despite the impressive Soviet performance in the 1980s, the training of the Afghan air force has been re-imagined by Americans as a Sisyphean undertaking.

And this offers but a hint of how bizarre US training programs for the Afghan military and police have proven to be. In fact, sometimes it seems as if exactly the same scathing report, detailing the same training problems and setbacks, has been recycled yearly without anyone who mattered finding it particularly odd - or being surprised that the response to each successive piece of bad news is to decide to pour yet more money and trainers into the project.

For example, in 2005, at a time when Washington had already spent $3.3 billion training and mentoring the Afghan army and police, the US Government Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report indicating that "efforts to fully equip the increasing number of [Afghan] combat troops have fallen behind, and efforts to establish sustaining institutions, such as a logistics command, needed to support these troops have not kept pace". Worse yet, the report fretted, it might take "up to $7.2 billion to complete [the training project] and about $600 million annually to sustain [it]".

In 2006, according to the New York Times, "a joint report by the Pentagon and the State Department ... found that the American-trained police force in Afghanistan is largely incapable of carrying out routine law enforcement work, and that managers of the $1.1 billion training program cannot say how many officers are actually on duty or where thousands of trucks and other equipment issued to police units have gone." At best, stated the report, fewer than half of the officially announced number of police were "trained and equipped to carry out their police functions".

In 2008, by which time $16.5 billion had been spent on army and police training programs, the GAO chimed in again, indicating that only two of 105 army units were "assessed as being fully capable of conducting their primary mission", while "no police unit is fully capable".

In 2009, the US Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction reported that "only 24 of 559 Afghan police units are considered ready to operate without international help". Such reports, as well as repeated (and repetitive) news investigations and stories on the subject, invariably are accompanied by a litany of complaints about corruption, indiscipline, illiteracy, drug taking, staggering desertion rates, Taliban infiltration, ghost soldiers, and a host of other problems. In 2009, however, the solution remained as expectable as the problems: "The report called for more US trainers and more money."

This June, a US government audit, again from the Special Inspector General, contradicted the latest upbeat American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) training assessments, reporting that "the standards used to appraise the Afghan forces since 2005 were woefully inadequate, inflating their abilities".

The usual litany of training woes followed. Yet, according to Reuters, President Barack Obama wants another $14.2 billion for the training project "for this year and next". And just last week, the Wall Street Journal's Julian Barnes reported that new Afghan war commander General David Petraeus is planning to "retool" US strategy to include "a greater focus on how Afghanistan's security forces are being trained".

When it comes to US training programs then, you might conclude that Afghanistan has proved to be Catch-22-ville, the land where time stood still - and so, evidently, has the Washington national security establishment's collective brain. For Washington, there seems to be no learning curve in Afghanistan, not when it comes to "training" Afghans anyway.

And here is the oddest thing of all, though no one even bothers to mention it in this context: the Taliban haven't had tens of billions of dollars in foreign training funds; they haven't had years of advice from the best US and NATO advisors that money can buy; they haven't had private contractors like DynCorp teaching them how to fight and police, and strangely enough, they seem to have no problem fighting.

They are not undermanned, infiltrated by followers of President Hamid Karzai, or particularly corrupt. They may be illiterate and may not be fluent in English, but they are ready, in up to platoon-sized units, to attack heavily fortified US military bases, Afghan prisons, a police headquarters and the like with hardly a foreign mentor in sight.
Consider it, then, a modern miracle in reverse that the US has proven incapable of training a competent Afghan force in a country where arms are the norm, fighting has for decades seldom stopped, and the locals are known for their war-fighting traditions. Similarly, it's abidingly curious that the US has so far failed to train a modest-sized air force, even flying refurbished Italian light transport planes from the 1980s and those Russian helicopters, when the Soviet Union, the last imperial power to try this, proved up to creating an Afghan force able to pilot aircraft ranging from helicopters to fighter planes.

2. Non-exit strategies: Now, let's wade a little deeper into the strangeness of what Whitlock reported by taking up the question of when we're actually planning to leave Afghanistan. Consider this passage from the Whitlock piece: "US military officials have estimated that the Afghan air force won't be able to operate independently until 2016, five years after President Obama has said he intends to start withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan. But [US Air Force Brigadier General Michael R] Boera said that date could slip by at least two years if Congress forces the Afghans to fly US choppers."

In other words, while Americans argue over what the president's July 2011 drawdown date really means, and while Karzai suggests that Afghan forces will take over the country's security duties by 2014, Whitlock's anonymous "US military officials" are clearly operating on a different clock, on, in fact, Pentagon time, and so are planning for a 2016-2018 target date for that force simply to "operate independently" (which by no means indicates "without US support".)

If you were of a conspiratorial mind, you might almost think that the Pentagon preferred not to create an effective Afghan air force and instead - as has also been the case in Iraq, a country that once had the world's sixth-largest air force and now, after years of US mentoring, has next to nothing - remain the substitute Afghan air force forever and a day.

3. Who are the Russians now?: Okay, let's move even deeper into American strangeness with a passage that makes up most of the 20th and 21st paragraphs of Whitlock's 25-paragraph piece: "In addition," he reports, "the US Special Operations Command would like to buy a few Mi-17s of its own, so that special forces carrying out clandestine missions could cloak the fact that they are American. 'We would like to have some to blend in and do things,' said a senior US military official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the clandestine program."

No explanation follows on just how - or where - those Russian helicopters will help "cloak" American special operations missions, or what they are to "blend" into, or the "things" they are to do. There's no further discussion of the subject at all.

In other words, the special op urge to Russianize its air transport has officially been reported, and a month later, as far as I know, not a single congressional representative has made a fuss over it; no mainstream pundit has written a curious, questioning, or angry editorial questioning its appropriateness; and no reporter has, as yet, followed up.

As just another little factoid of no great import buried deep in an article focused on other matters, undoubtedly no one has given it a thought. But it's worth stopping a moment and considering just how odd this tiny bit of news-that-won't-ever-rise-to-the-level-of-news actually is. One way to do this is to play the sort of opposites game that never quite works on this still one-way planet of ours. Just imagine a similar news item coming out of another country.

Hot off the wires from Tehran: Iranian special forces teams are scouring the planet for old American Chinook helicopters so they can be well "cloaked" in planned future forays into Afghanistan and Pakistan's Balochistan province.
The People's Daily reports: Chinese special forces operatives are buying relatively late model American helicopters so that ... Well, here's one problem in the opposites game, and a clue to the genuine strangeness of American activities globally: why would the Chinese need to do such a thing (and, in fact, why would we)? Where might they want to venture militarily without being mistaken for Chinese military personnel?

That might be a little hard to imagine right now, but I guarantee you one thing: had some foreign news source reported such a plan, or had Whitlock somehow uncovered it and included it in a piece - no matter how obscurely nestled - there would have been pandemonium in Washington. Congress would have held hearings. Pundits would have opined on the infamy of Iranian or Chinese operatives masking themselves in our choppers. The company or companies that sold the helicopters would have been investigated. And you can imagine what Fox News commentators would have had to say.

When we do such things, however, and a country like Pakistan reacts with what's usually described as "anti-Americanism", we wonder at the nationalistic hair-trigger they're on; we comment on their over-emotionalism; we highlight their touchy "sensibilities"; and our reporters and pundits then write empathetically about the difficulties American military and civilian officials have dealing with such edgy natives.

Just the other day, for instance, the Wall Street Journal's Barnes reported that US Special Operations Forces were expanding their role in the Pakistani tribal borderlands by more regularly "venturing out with Pakistani forces on aid projects, deepening the American role in the effort to defeat Islamist militants in Pakistani territory that has been off limits to US ground troops". The Pakistani government has not been eager to have American boots visibly on the ground in these areas, and so Barnes writes: "Because of Pakistan's sensitivities, the US role has developed slowly."

Imagine how sensitive they might prove to be if those same forces began to land Russian helicopters in Pakistan as a way to "cloak" their operations and blend in? Or imagine just what sort of hair-trigger the natives of Montana might be on if Pakistani special operations types were roaming Glacier National Park and landing old American helicopters outside Butte.

Then consider the sensitivities of Pakistanis on learning that the just-appointed head of the Central Intelligence Agency's National Clandestine Service turns out to be a man of "impeccable credentials" (so says CIA director Leon Panetta). Among those credentials are his stint as the CIA station chief in Pakistan until sometime in 2009, his involvement in the exceedingly unpopular drone war in that country's tribal borderlands, and the way, as the director put it a tad vaguely, he "guided complex operations under some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable".

Here's the truth of the matter, as Whitlock's piece makes clear: we carry on in the most bizarre ways in far-off lands and think nothing of it. Historically, it has undoubtedly been the nature of imperial powers to consider every strange thing they do more or less the norm.

For a waning imperial power, however, such an attitude has its own dangers. If we can't imagine the surpassing strangeness of our arrangements for making war in lands thousands of kilometers from the US, then we can't begin to imagine how the world sees us, which means that we're blind to our own madness. Russian helicopters, that's nuthin' by comparison.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's He is the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of the Cold War and beyond, as well as of a novel, The Last Days of Publishing. He also edited The World According to TomDispatch: America in the New Age of Empire (Verso, 2008), an alternative history of the mad Bush years. His latest book is The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's (Haymarket Books),

(Used by permission Tomdispatch)

(Copyright 2010 Tom Engelhardt.) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 28, 2010, 06:40:31 am
Associated Press

 - July 28, 2010

Packed bus hits roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan killing 25 people, 20 others wounded

   KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A packed bus hit a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday killing 25 people aboard, as NATO announced another U.S. service member died in a rapidly rising monthly death toll.

The passenger bus was traveling in Nimroz province on a main highway toward the capital, Kabul, when it struck the explosive about 7 a.m., said Nazir Ahmad, a provincial government spokesman. Another 20 people were wounded, he said.

The explosion occurred near Delaram — a volatile area close to the borders of Helmand and Farah provinces.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack. "The criminals who did this are the enemies of Muslims," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, NATO forces said a U.S. troop was killed in an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, without giving further details.

July is already one of the deadliest months for U.S. troops in the nearly nine-year Afghan war, with 59 service members killed so far. That's just shy of the 60 that died in June — the deadliest month for U.S. forces. Altogether, 80 NATO troops have died in July. In June, 103 NATO forces were killed.

The rising death toll comes as U.S. forces continue the search for a missing Navy sailor believed captured last week by Taliban forces when he and a colleague drove into an insurgent-held area of eastern Afghanistan. One of the sailors was killed in a firefight with militants, and the Taliban has said they seized the other.

NATO officials were unable to say what the two service members were doing in such a dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan.

The Navy identified the missing sailor as Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, a 25-year-old from the Seattle area. The Pentagon lists Newlove as "whereabouts unknown," and did not confirm he was captured.

The service member killed in the firefight was Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley — a 30-year-old father of two from Wheatridge, Colorado. NATO recovered his body Sunday.

The sailors were instructors at a counterinsurgency school for Afghan security forces, according to senior military officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case. The school was headquartered in Kabul and had classrooms outside the capital, but they were never assigned anywhere near where the body of the sailor was recovered, the officials said.

U.S. forces have pushed into southern Taliban strongholds in recent months and weeks in an attempt to squeeze insurgents out of the area where they have long functioned as a de-facto government. Along with the surge, attacks on military forces and Afghan supporters of the government have increased. Many civilians have also been killed or wounded in incidents such as Wednesday's bus bomb or caught up in the crossfire.

On Monday, the Afghan government said 52 civilians, including women and children, died when a NATO rocket struck a village in southern Afghanistan last week — a report the international coalition has disputed.

Karzai's office said an investigation by Afghan intelligence officers determined a NATO rocket slammed into Rigi village in Helmand province, one of the most violent areas of the country.

The U.S.-led command also said an investigation was under way but reports of mass civilian casualties in Rigi were unfounded.

NATO said investigators determined alliance and Afghan troops came under attack Friday about 6 miles (10 kilometers) south of the village and responded with helicopter-borne strikes. Coalition forces reported six insurgents killed, including a Taliban commander.

Gulam Farooq, deputy commander for the Afghan National Army in the south, said he too sent investigators to Rigi. Eyewitnesses said 14 civilians from three families were killed in the fighting.

Abdul Whab, who lost seven members of his family, told Afghan army investigators his mother, holding a copy of the Quran, pleaded with insurgents to leave the area so civilians wouldn't be hurt, Farooq said.

Whab told investigators coalition fire killed 60 militants suspected of being foreign fighters, because they didn't speak the local Afghan language of Pashtu, said Farooq.

In central Uruzgan province, meanwhile, three Afghan soldiers were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb Wednesday, said Gulab Khan, deputy provincial police chief.

German Army Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz told reporters Wednesday in Kabul the Taliban's senior leadership ordered the assassination of multiple tribal elders in an area of Uruzgan.

"This follows the kidnapping and execution of two tribal elders for cooperating with the coalition," he said, alleging recent attacks can be traced to instructions issued by Taliban leader Mullah Omar in June to attack anyone who supports the Afghan government.

During the past 90 days, 350 Taliban figures have been captured or killed by coalition forces, Blotz said.



Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 29, 2010, 06:38:43 am
South Asia
Jul 30, 2010 
US accused of raising local Afghan militias

By IWPR-trained reporters

International forces in Afghanistan have rejected allegations that they have funded new militias in the western district of Shindand in Herat province. Instead, they say they have provided initial training to volunteer defense units, and dismiss claims by Afghan officials that they were not consulted beforehand.

United States Special Forces last year rolled out the Village Stability Program, a scheme that aims to train rural residents to provide their own security. But officials in Herat complain they were not involved in the decision to set up an armed group in Shindand district's Zerkoh Valley.

Lal Mohammad Omarzai, the local government chief in Shindand, said foreign forces did not consult him when they went ahead with establishing the village defense forces, which he said included men of suspect loyalties.

"Some of those who are active in this group previously fought on the Taliban side against Afghan and foreign forces," he said, adding that the force was unreliable, lacked leadership and was widely disliked by local people.

Nur Khan Nekzad, spokesman for the Afghan security command center for Herat province, said the armed groups had been deployed without coordination with local police.

"Herat security command has no militias or tribal units within its structure," he said, adding that the formation of armed groups had never been good for Afghanistan.

In a telephone interview, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zmarai Bashari said he was unaware of the existence of the village force in Shindand, and declined to comment further.

Amir Mohammad, 60, says he played an active part in setting up the Zerkoh force, which he said received a month's training in military tactics and search techniques from US Special Forces.

He said the force had been operating in a number of villages in the Zerkoh area for several months and now numbered around 100 young men. They patrol in civilian clothing, distinguished only by three red stripes on their shoulders, and are paid US$160 a month.

Bob Coble, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), denied that members of the Shindand force were being armed and paid by international troops.

"There is a Village Stability effort there, and coalition special operations forces work with the volunteers who have formed the self-defense organization," he said. "We do not supply weapons to the group; they use their own in defense of their village, and that effort is voluntary. We do not pay them to defend their homes."

Coble insisted that the creation of the militias had been done with full coordination with the regional government. "Local officials are aware of all programs we are involved with in Shindand," he said. "Special operations forces personnel are in regular, even routine, contact with local officials."

The spokesman said dedicated funds were being provided for rural development projects in Shindand as part of the same village stability initiative.

He pointed to one recent incident in which an insurgent weapons cache was discovered following a tip-off from residents in a village called Assis Abad, saying this was a sign of the success of the project and the growing local trust in the international forces.

Some residents of the Zerkoh valley have hailed the scheme as a great success. "Ever since the group started operating, security has been ensured in the area, the armed opposition fighters have left the area, and the robberies and abductions which had made people's lives difficult have been eliminated," Amir Mohammad said.

Ismail, a resident of the village of Bakhtabad, said that security had improved because of the defense units.

"Before the group was set up, there were robberies and abductions, and people were worried about Americans operations and bombardments," said. "Now they don't worry when they hear the sound of foreign jets or bombing, because the foreign forces are cooperating with armed units in the area."

Others fear that the emergence of any new armed force can only spell trouble, given Afghanistan's bitter history of conflict among rival militias.

The early 1990s saw the mujahideen groups that had fought the Soviets turn on one another in a civil war for control of the country. Units formerly loyal to the communist government, principally those commanded by General Abdul Rashid Dostum, also entered the fray. Kabul in particular suffered intense bombardment and atrocities.

Leaders of these factions still hold positions of power, and are accused of retaining links to the old militias despite efforts to disarm these units since 2001.

Shindand resident Solaiman, 40, said he had been unhappy to hear of the creation of militias, a move that reminded him of the years of internal conflict.

"Do you think someone who isn't part of the government framework, does not obey any laws, carries arms and is confident that he can do anything he wants, is going to work to ensure the people's safety, or to further his own interests?" he asked.

"Our government isn't aware of what the foreigners are up to; they don't recognize this government and they do whatever they want. Can we say we are a free country?"

Political analyst Ahmad Sayedi agreed that history had shown that militias had no interest in peace. "These groups know that when there is no war, bloodshed and uncertainty in the country, there will be no need for them to exist," he said. "Therefore, they try to create crises in order to make money, because they receive salaries and privileges through war, not by ensuring security."

Like many Afghans, Sayedi suspects international forces actually want instability to persist as a way of controlling Afghanistan.

The Taliban have warned that they will target anyone cooperating with foreign troops, and the village defense force in Shindand has already suffered casualties.

A number of its members were killed in May when they took on Taliban forces which were about to attack a US checkpoint. Hajji Amir, a commander of the defense force, said six of its men and 10 insurgents died in the clash.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yusuf Ahmadi told the Institute for War and Peace Reporting by phone that the insurgents would fight to the death with anyone who opposed them or who collaborated with international forces.

"To us, those who cooperate with the foreigners are no different from the foreigners themselves," he said. "People who fight against us alongside foreign forces lose twice over, first because they get killed, and secondly because they lose out on entering the next world, as they count as infidels."

President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly voiced objections to the Village Stability Program. When he met incoming ISAF commander General David Petraeus in early July, he raised the same concerns. An unnamed Afghan official quoted by The Washington Post said Karzai was worried by the prospect of "a force that will be viewed as a private militia".

However, by mid-July a deal had been struck under which the village defense units will be subsumed into a new Local Police Force, which will still consist of grassroots units but will be controlled by the Afghan Interior Ministry.

(This article originally appeared in Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Used with permission.) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 29, 2010, 06:45:25 am
Eight killed in Afghanistan blasts

Thu, 29 Jul 2010 10:50:34 GMT   
Two powerful blats have killed at least eight Afghan security contractors in Afghanistan amid rising militant attacks against the foreign and government forces in the war-torn country.

The contractors were killed in two separate incidents in Ghazni province.

Initial reports say several others were injured in the fatal explosions.

Taliban have claimed the responsibility for the bomb attacks, saying that eleven security forces have lost their lives in the attacks.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 29, 2010, 06:48:07 am
Afghans angry over Quran desecration

Thu, 29 Jul 2010 06:38:05 GMT

Afghan police keep order after a protest in the country (file photo).

People in southern Afghanistan have protested against US-led NATO forces over desecration of the Muslim holy book of Quran.

The rally was held in Trinkut city of Oruzgan province on Thursday morning, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The protesters chanted slogans and called on the Afghan government to put those who desecrated the Quran to trial.

Afghan police opened fire to disperse the demonstrators. There have been no immediate reports of any casualties.

According to protesters, the US-led soldiers tore the holy book when Afghan women brought the book in front of them, asking the soldiers not to attack them.

The international troops have reportedly insulted Quran several times since the United States invaded the country in 2001.

Women and children have been the main victims of the war in Afghanistan, particularly in the country's troubled southern and eastern provinces.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 29, 2010, 07:54:44 am
Karzai orders Wikileaks investigation

Thu, 29 Jul 2010 06:59:05 GMT 

Afghan President Hamid Karzai

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered an investigation into revelations about the Afghanistan war made by the whistleblower website Wikileaks.

The Afghan president made the remarks at a press conference in the capital city of Kabul on Thursday, the Associated Press reported.

He was also asked about the Afghan informants who allegedly helped foreign troops in their operations against the Taliban.

Karzai described the release of the Afghans' names in the documents released by Wikileaks as shocking and irresponsible, saying the move has endangered their lives.

Karzai also noted that he was particularly interested in the papers that address civilian casualties and militant sanctuaries across the border in Pakistan.

The Whistleblower website has published some 90,000 files containing highly confidential information about the war in Afghanistan.

The files reportedly include the identity of Afghans, who are said to have provided US forces with intelligence.

After going over the report, Press TV was able to find the names of some of the locals, who have been identified by their names along with their places of residence and in some cases by their father's name.

In one case from 2007, a man named Amon Gull turned in weapons to US troops including eight Russian anti-aircraft rounds and six AP mines.

In another case from 2008, a man identified as Rokmat, son of Meermat, was arrested with a suicide vest at Park Hotel in the city of Khost.

It is feared that the Taliban would use the leaked information to identify and target those who cooperate with the US-led forces or their families.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 29, 2010, 10:44:39 am
Britain to launch Afghan war inquiry

Thu, 29 Jul 2010 13:11:42 GMT

A member of the House of Commons' defense committee said the inquiries would have nothing to do with the Wikileaks documents.

Britain will launch two new inquiries to investigate the country's role in the war in Afghanistan, the House of Commons has announced.

The House of Commons' defense committee announced the new inquiries Wednesday, after previously secret documents leaked to the media shed new light on the civilian casualties of the Afghan war.

Commons' defense committee said in a statement that the first inquiry would examine whether it was justifiable for Britain to remain involved in the nine-year-old unpopular war. It will also examine reports of civilian casualties and a timetable for withdrawal.

The statement said the second inquiry would consider ways to find a political settlement in Afghanistan.

The performance of the US-led foreign troops in the Afghan war was further undermined this week after whistleblower site Wikileaks published thousands of secret military documents unveiling that foreign armies fighting in Afghanistan indiscriminately killed civilians and tried to cover up civilian casualties.

The British parliament's defense committee is an influential panel whose inquiries are aimed at scrutinizing the government's performance.

A committee member said the inquiries would have nothing to do with the Wikileaks documents, adding that the discussions to conduct the probes had begun before the disclosure of the leaked documents.

A public inquiry into the war in Iraq is already underway in Britain.

In a testimony given on Wednesday, former head of the army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, told the so-called Chilcot Inquiry that former premier Tony Blair bounced military commanders into deploying large number of British troops to Afghanistan while they were facing a growing insurgency in Iraq.

Dannatt said he only heard of the UK's leading role in Helmand province when Blair announced it at a 2004 summit.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 29, 2010, 11:18:30 am


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on July 30, 2010, 10:37:02 am
US embassy vehicles torched in Afghan capital

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, July 30th, 2010 -- 11:24 am


Rioting erupted in Kabul Friday when scores of Afghan men set fire to two US embassy vehicles after one collided with a civilian car killing a number of occupants, officials and witnesses said.

Television pictures showed the vehicles in flames and young Afghan men throwing stones at them.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said it had despatched a quick reaction force to the area, outside the American embassy and near US and Afghan army bases in the centre of the city.

An ISAF official said the vehicles involved belonged to the US embassy.

"We don't know yet how many people were killed in the accident," interior ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashery said.

Witnesses said four passengers of the civilian car died when it was hit by one of two armoured vehicles moving in convoy.

Police fired shots in the air to quell the violence, an AFP reporter witnessed.

Afghan security forces cordoned off the area, closing the road to Kabul's international airport, he said.

Local resident Saleh Ahmed said the accident happened when the civilian vehicle attempted to drive onto the main road from a side street and was hit by one of the two armoured vehicles.

"The civilian vehicle was trying to get into the main road when the two foreign vehicles hit it and killed all four occupants," he said. "People gathered around the crash site to see what had happened, got angry and started attacking the foreigners."

The AFP reporter on the scene said police helped the foreigners leave as the riot continued for about an hour before people started to disperse.

Young Afghan men threw stones and shouted "death to foreigners" and "death to Karzai," referring to President Hamid Karzai, he said.

A similar traffic incident led to massive riots that shook the capital in May 2006, leaving at least 14 people dead.

Deployments by the United States and NATO are nearing their peak of 150,000, concentrated in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar, where a nearly nine-year Taliban insurgency is at its most intense.

A motorcycle bomb targeting a candidate in upcoming parliamentary elections killed a woman and a child in the southern city of Kandahar on Friday, police said.

The explosives-laden motorcycle was parked in a city centre alley used by the candidate, and detonated minutes after he passed by, provincial deputy police chief Fazel Ahmad Shairzad told AFP.

He blamed the attack on "enemies of Afghanistan," a term often used to refer to the Taliban.

The parliamentary election was originally scheduled for May but postponed until September 18.

Candidates appear to be the latest targets of the Taliban, who have stepped up a campaign of roadside bombs, suicide attacks and assassinations in recent months.

Candidate Sayedullah Sayed died after a mosque in the southeastern province of Khost was bombed last Friday as he was campaigning, injuring 20 people.

Also in the south of the country, NATO said that three foreign soldiers had been killed in two separate Taliban-style bomb attacks on Thursday. An ISAF spokeswoman confirmed all three were American.

A total of 408 foreign troops have died in the Afghan war so far this year, according to an AFP tally based on that kept by the website.

The toll for July is 86, compared with 102 in June, the worst month for foreign military casualties since the end of 2001.

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 02, 2010, 07:54:15 am
'Modest goal' set for war

Obama targets terrorists, forgoes nation-building


ASSOCIATED PRESS LOSING HEARTS AND MINDS: During a protest in Kabul on Sunday, hundreds of Afghans carry posters of civilians said to have been killed by U.S. and NATO forces.

By Sean Lengell - The Washington Times
8:18 p.m., Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Obama administration and leading Democrats are dialing back expectations for the Afghanistan war, saying that their goal is to root out terrorists, not engage in a major nation-building project.

"Nobody thinks that Afghanistan is going to be a model Jeffersonian democracy," Mr. Obama said during an interview broadcast on CBS' "Sunday Morning" program.

"What we're looking to do is difficult, very difficult, but it's a fairly modest goal, which is, don't allow terrorists to operate from this region; don't allow them to create big training camps and to plan attacks against the U.S. homeland with impunity."

Mr. Obama said his goals for Afghanistan can be accomplished.

"We can stabilize Afghanistan sufficiently and we can get enough cooperation from Pakistan that we are not magnifying the threat against the homeland," he said. "If I didn't think that it was important for our national security to finish the job in Afghanistan, then I would pull them all out today."

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said the U.S. is "not there to take on a nationwide reconstruction or construction project in Afghanistan."

Mr. Gates said in an appearance on ABC's "This Week" program that the U.S. instead must focus "on those civilian aspects and governance that help us accomplish our security objective."

"We are in Afghanistan because we were attacked from Afghanistan, not because we want to try and build a better society in Afghanistan," he said.

"But doing things to improve governance, to improve development in Afghanistan, to the degree it contributes to our security mission and to the effectiveness of the Afghan government in the security arena, that's what we're going to do."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, when asked on "This Week" what the U.S. would to do protect Afghan women from brutal attacks by the Taliban, responded that the central U.S. mission in the country is "our own national security - to stop terrorism, to increase global security."

The California Democrat said that she and Congress are concerned that Afghan women and children receive proper health care and education, but "that can't happen without security" and the end of political corruption in the country.

Yet on Capitol Hill last week, 102 House Democrats voted against a war-spending bill - 70 more than did so last year - suggesting that Democrats are growing weary of the war.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, acknowledged that public support for the war has waned.

"They have the impression that things are not going well now, at least the majority" of the public, he said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "But I think the public does want us to succeed."

But Mr. Levin said that tangible progress is being made, particularly a strengthening Afghan army.

"It's a mixed picture. But the most important thing that is happening as far as I am concerned is that the Afghan army is well respected, is now going to be taking the lead," Mr. Levin said. "And these are very important words for the American public to understand."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry said it would be wrong to force a modern, centralized form of government in Afghanistan.

"That would be a big mistake if that were the pattern we were trying to follow," the Massachusetts Democrat said Sunday on CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" program. "And I don't believe that's what the administration is trying to do.

"I think the administration has a pretty good sense, darned good sense, as a matter of fact, of exactly how difficult it would be to create this centralized model. And they don't want that."

Mr. Kerry also said that it would be a mistake if only a "trivial" number of U.S. troops left Afghanistan leading up to July's deadline to start pulling out forces in Afghanistan, though he added that it would be "folly" for a mass exodus of troops next summer simply to meet an arbitrary deadline.

"The president is not going to suddenly pull the rug out from under the very efforts that we've all been engaged in over these years," he said.

Some U.S. allies aren't waiting. On Sunday, the Netherlands became the first NATO country to end its combat mission in Afghanistan, which had little domestic support there. Canada and Poland have announced planned withdrawal dates in 2011 and 2012, respectively.

While the loss of about 1,900 Dutch troops likely won't be militarily significant, it is a political bellwether as doubts about the Afghanistan war continue to grow in Western countries, though NATO forces are starting what might be the war's decisive campaign.

A surge of mostly U.S. forces recently has taken over responsibility for key areas in Helmand and Kandahar provinces from British and Canadian forces and begun a more aggressive campaign against the Taliban in recent months that has led to increased casualties among Western militaries and Afghan civilians, as well as the Taliban enemy.

The fighting has provoked discontent from Afghan civilians, and more than 200 participated in a Sunday march in Kabul to protest a NATO rocket attack that they blamed for the deaths of more than 50 civilians. NATO disputes that accusation, saying a preliminary investigation shows at most three civilian deaths.

According to the Associated Press, protesters carried photos of dead and wounded children and shouted, "Death to America! Death to NATO!"

"We should not tolerate such attacks. The Americans are invaders who have occupied our country in the name of fighting terrorism," said 22-year-old Ahmad Jawed, a university student who also blamed the Afghan government. "We don't have a strong enough government to protect the rights of the Afghan people."

Meanwhile on Sunday, Mr. Gates said that the website WikiLeaks is morally guilty for releasing classified U.S. documents on the Afghanistan war, saying that he was "mortified" by the leak and its potential to harm U.S. troops and their Afghan allies.

Mr. Gates said that while the government is investigating the legal ramifications of the leaks, WikiLeaks also faces "moral culpability," a charge that he and uniformed military officials also made last week.

"And that's where I think the verdict is guilty on WikiLeaks," he said on ABC's "This Week." "They have put this out without any regard whatsoever for the consequences."

Mr. Gates said the information puts "those in Afghanistan who have helped us at risk. It puts our soldiers at risk because our adversaries can learn a lot about our techniques, tactics and procedures from the body of these leaked documents."

The secretary added that "protecting your sources is sacrosanct" in a war theater.

The Taliban has said it will use the documents to hunt down people who have cooperated with U.S. forces.

WikiLeaks recently posted more than 75,000 secret U.S. military reports. Mr. Gates said the soldier accused of leaking the documents, who was working as an Army intelligence officer in Iraq, wouldn't have been able to do so if he weren't stationed in the field.

"Had whoever did this tried to do it at a rear headquarters overseas or pretty much anywhere in the U.S., we have controls in place that would've allowed us to detect it," he said.

Changes in intelligence gathering in recent years that have focused on putting "as much information in intelligence as far forward to the soldiers [in the field] as we possibly can" has created potential security-breach problems, Mr. Gates said.

But he said that while the Pentagon will review the policy, placing too many restrictions on access to classified intelligence could deny front-line troops critical information.

"My bias is against that," he said. "I want those kids out there to have all the information they can have."

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 03, 2010, 06:06:19 am
South Asia
Aug 4, 2010 
Battle for upper hand in Marjah continues

By IWPR-trained reporters

Residents of Marjah, the focus of a major operation by North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led coalition forces earlier this year to rid the Helmand district of Taliban forces, have spoken of growing insecurity and fear the insurgents could re-establish themselves there.

Some 15,000 foreign and Afghan forces took part in "Operation Moshtarak" ("together") in January, battling 2,000 Taliban fighters for control of the area, a major drug production hub in Helmand. Though sporadic clashes with Taliban fighters continue, international troops say Marjah is now stable and point to significant improvements in the local economy and development.

But locals told the Institute for War and Peace Reporting that they feel too frightened to go to work and are concerned that reconstruction projects are failing.

Mir Wali, a shopkeeper in the Loya Chareh bazaar, complained that he had never seen Marjah so insecure and he believes the Taliban will take over the area if things don't improve.

"I saw with my own eyes sometime back that the Taliban attacked the governor and Americans on this intersection," he said, referring to a triple suicide bombing in the center of Marjah last month which targeted a visit by Richard Holbrooke, the special United States envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Insurgents also shot at his flight as it prepared to land, although they failed to injure his party, which included Helmand governor Gulab Mangal, US ambassador Karl Eikenberry and General Stanley McChrystal, then commander of US forces and the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF.

Other businessmen say they are too frightened to open their shops.

"I have not gone to my shop for 10 days," said shopkeeper Haji Abdul Samad. "There, bullets drop like rain from the sky. The cattle and sheep die like flies. I swear there is no humanitarianism or humanity."

Gul Ahmad, another Loya Chareh shopkeeper, said he had kept his premises shut for a long time due to Taliban threats.

"The Taliban number has increased and they have worsened the conditions for the people," he said. "They warn us to shut the shops. They are very cruel, and if I do not shut the shop, they will beat me to death."

However, a US army spokesman said that the vast majority of the shops in the town of Marjah were now open and functioning normally, a sign of what he described as improved security.

"Two weeks after we initially entered Marjah, there were few, if any, shops open in the bazaars," he said, adding that now more than 600 traders were active in the various markets around the town, accounting for over 80% of all businesses in the bazaars.

"The bazaars normally see several hundred locals shopping there daily, showing significant trust in the security situation within the bazaars," he said.

While there were still clashes with insurgents in Marjah, these were "not to the point where it [will] fall to the Taliban or that locals fear opening their shops - as seen in the numerous shops open daily".

The US army spokesman also emphasized that coalition forces had numerous projects underway within Marjah, including the construction of schools and roads.

"We also conduct daily Quick Impact Projects, where locals clean the bazaars, dredge canals, and numerous other small daily projects," he said.

Locals insist that development efforts have slowed down and that Taliban attacks have deterred people from taking part in reconstruction projects. Marjah resident Asadullah said he had been employed in a Cash for Work project but abandoned it due to the threat of violence.

"I worked in a project for one month," he said. "We were cleaning the streams and drains and they paid 250 afghanis [US$5] per day, but the number of Taliban fighters increased so much that every day they were conducting attacks. The attacks increased and I left the work.

"There are Taliban on every road and intersection, but few of them carry guns. Some are monitoring the situation, collecting intelligence and information about the movement of the American patrols. And some armed Taliban stay at home and prepare for attacks."

An employee of the development organization the International Relief and Development, IRD, said he had been working on the distribution of water pumps to 300 farmers in Marjah district for the past two months.

Declining to give his name, he said that it was proving difficult to give the equipment out. "The people are afraid," he said. "The Taliban burn the water pumps and if they find them, they kill the farmers."

IRD spokeswoman Melissa Price said irrigation pump distribution in the district, which began in May, had been "impeded by a persistent intimidation campaign from the Taliban and concerns from the district government that the distribution would not be adequately monitored due to security conditions".

However, the project had stepped up its efforts in July, and pumps would be now be distributed from three separate locations in the district "in an effort to alleviate farmers' security concerns during travel and pump transportation".

Helmand officials also accept that there are problems, but say the situation is not as grave as some Marjah residents claim.

"No doubt there are problems in Marjah, we face Taliban attacks, but people support us and there are improvements in Marjah," district chief Mohammad Zaher told IWPR in a telephone interview. "The situation is not so bad. [The negativity] is propaganda."

Dawood Ahmadi, spokesman for Governor Mangal, said the problems in Marjah were evident elsewhere in the region as the Taliban's Quetta shura, its Pakistan-based leadership council, had decided to focus its efforts on increasing insecurity in the whole of Helmand.

"This is not only the problem of Marjah," he said, but insisted that "soon everything will come under control".

After returning from a 10-day visit to Marjah where he consulted with local elders, Helmand deputy governor Sattar Marzakwal said he had decided to create a special police unit to combat Taliban intimidation of locals.

"The rapid response battalion consists of 200 national army, national police and American army officers," he said. "They will get to any location in a few minutes if people inform them of the presence of insurgents."

But Mohamad Aqa Takra, a former officer in the communist regime and now a military specialist, said this initiative would not bring security to Marjah.

"If the Quetta shura puts its main focus on Helmand, as officials claim, the Marjah district cannot be secured by 200 or 300 men - even 10,000 American and Afghan soldiers couldn't do it," he said.
Jabir, a police officer in Marjah, said that the district was extremely insecure, and feared the Taliban could soon be back in charge unless something was done.

"Everything has changed here," he said. "We are afraid of every farmer, and think that there might be a Taliban fighter behind every stone and every tree."

He said that the only way that Afghan police can patrol is with American soldiers. "The Taliban are very audacious and brave. They have very new machine guns and every day they conduct more than 10 attacks on us in Marjah. It is completely horrifying."

The Taliban claim that their success is due to the help and cooperation of local people.

Taliban spokesman Qari Usuf Ahmadi said the insurgents are very powerful in Marjah and will never concede defeat to the US and Afghan forces. "People help us, they give us food and support us and that is why our operations go so well," he said.

But Marjah district chief Zaher maintained that the area would never come under Taliban control again. "It is impossible to lose Marjah," he added. "Marjah will never fall."

(This article originally appeared in Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Used with permission.) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 03, 2010, 12:33:26 pm
Taliban claims US base raid killing 150

Tue, 03 Aug 2010 15:52:22 GMT

Taliban claim some 150 US-led troops have been killed in the attack on Kandahar Airfield.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for killing 150 US-led troops in an attack on the main US base in southern Afghanistan.

A gun battle erupted after the Taliban attacked the military base in Afghan province of Kandahar, a Press TV correspondent reported Tuesday.

Explosions had been reported in the vicinity of the air base before a fire-fight started between the militants and the US-led forces.

The fight lasted for more than two hours. NATO has confirmed the attack but offered no details on the possible casualties.

However, according to a statement by the provincial governor's office, only one foreign soldier was killed and several civilians were injured after two rockets struck inside the base.

Meanwhile, NATO-backed Afghan soldiers reported to have killed six militants that attacked the base.

A Taliban spokesman, however, insisted that the militants managed to infiltrate the largest US base in Kandahar and killing at least 150 foreign troops there.

If accurate, the latest casualties would bring to over 2,000 the number of US-led troops killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion of the war-ravaged country.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 10, 2010, 05:49:32 am
Published on Monday, August 9, 2010 by

U.S. Supersizes Afghan Mega-Base as Withdrawal Date Looms

by Spencer Ackerman

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - Anyone who thinks the United States is really going to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011 needs to come to this giant air base an hour away from Kabul. There's construction everywhere. It's exactly what you wouldn't expect from a transient presence.


Perhaps the most conspicuous change of all: fresh concrete T-walls fortifying the northern and southern faces of the base.

Step off a C-17 cargo plane, as I did very early Friday morning, and you see a flight line packed with planes. When I was last here two years ago, helicopters crowded the runways [1] and fixed-wing aircraft were -- well, if not rare, still a notable sight. Today you've got C-17s, Predators, F-16s, F-15s, MC-12 passenger planes ... I didn't see any of the C-130 cargo craft, but they're here somewhere.

More notable than the overstuffed runways is the over-driven road. Disney Drive, the main thoroughfare that rings the eight-square-mile base, used to feature pedestrians with reflective sashes over their PT uniforms carrying Styrofoam boxes of leftovers out of the mess halls. And those guys are still there.

But now the western part of Disney is a two-lane parking lot of Humvees, flamboyant cargo big-rigs from Pakistan known as jingle trucks, yellow DHL shipping vans, contractor vehicles and mud-caked flatbeds. If the Navy could figure out a way to bring a littoral-combat ship to a landlocked country, it would idle on Disney.

Expect to wait an eternity if you want to pull out onto the road. Cross the street at your own risk.

Then there are all the new facilities. West Disney has a fresh coat of cement -- something that's easy to come by, now that the Turkish firm Yukcel manufactures cement right inside Bagram's walls.

There on the flightline: the skeletons of new hangars. New towers with particleboard for terraces. A skyline of cranes. The omnipresent plastic banner on a girder-and-cement seedling advertising a new project built by cut-rate labor paid by Inglett and Stubbs International.

I haven't been able to learn yet how much it all cost, but Bagram is starting to feel like a dynamic exurb before the housing bubble burst. There was actually a traffic jam this afternoon on the southern side of the base, owing to construction-imposed bottlenecks, something I didn't think possible in late summer 2008.

Perhaps the most conspicuous change of all: fresh concrete T-walls fortifying the northern and southern faces of the base. Insurgents have launched a number of futile attacks on the base recently, mostly inaccurate small-arms fire and the odd rocket-propelled grenade. They've mostly irritated their targets instead of killing them.

But a definite legacy is the abundance of huge barriers at the most-obvious access points to Bagram. Much of the eastern wing remains surrounded by chicken fencing topped with barbed wire, but the more sensitive points of entry are now hardened.

So, apparently, are the sentiments of local Afghans nearby [2]. Troops here told me of shepherd boys scowling their way around Bagram's outskirts, slingshotting off the occasional rock in hopes of braining an American. Again, something else I wouldn't have believed two years ago.

By next year, the detention facility that's spirited away on a far corner of Bagram [3] is supposed to revert to Afghan control. And maybe someday the Afghan National Army will inherit the entire base.

But two years ago there were about 18,000 troops and contractors living here. Now that figure is north of 30,000, all for a logistics hub and command post that the United States didn't ever imagine possessing before 9/11.

In 2011, the U.S. military probably won't be thinking about turning over the keys to a new, huge base. It'll be thinking about how it can finish up the construction contracts it signed months ago -- if not some it's yet to ink.

© 2010 Wired


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 12, 2010, 06:17:30 am
Published on Wednesday, August 11, 2010 by

Army Weak: Soldiers Expose Deployment of Unprepared Troops

by Clare Bayard

Army Reserve members facing imminent deployment to Afghanistan are publicly charging that their company is not properly trained or mentally fit for battle. Several members of the Indiana-based 656th Transportation Company, which is due to activate August 22nd, are requesting a Congressional inquiry into the unit's lack of readiness. Alejandro Villatoro, a sergeant in the company, is amongst those coming forward.

Sergeant Villatoro says, "The main reason I am doing this is that I want people to know the lack of training and education our soldiers been receiving, and the focus on the mission is just not adequate to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. All I am asking is more time to reevaluate the training and mental health of these soldiers before sending them into war."

At risk to themselves, these soldiers are going public with firsthand experiences of failures in military training, mental healthcare, and leadership, which many veterans charge are problems endemic to the military.  This comes as the Afghanistan War falls under increased scrutiny in the wake of the Wikileaked "War Logs" information.

Untrained and Unsupported

Three members of this company, Sgt. Villatoro and two reservists who wish to remain anonymous (referred to here as Private First Class A and Specialist B), have come forward to expose a crisis.

They tell of inadequate mental healthcare, scant and inappropriate training, and incompetent leadership distrusted by the rank and file.

Troops set to deploy to Afghanistan are given only a rudimentary briefing on Iraq--not Afghanistan. This transportation company has not even been trained on the vehicles and weapons their assignment depends upon, according to these servicemembers. Some mentally ill soldiers are able to keep their diagnoses secret from the military, which is not screening before deployment, while those with known mental illnesses are deployed regardless. 

The 656th has been assigned to convoy security operations in Afghanistan.  Yet, only 10% of its soldiers qualified on the .50 caliber guns that will be their primary weapon. Most have not learned to operate the  heavy Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAPs) vehicles they will be driving in Afghanistan, and Villatoro fears a repeat of his experience invading Iraq in 2003, with gun truck drivers who had never learned to drive a stick shift.

The company's mandatory trainings have been cut from the required 40 hours down to two-hour PowerPoint presentations. Officers told the soldiers that funding cuts were the reason that their recent two-week training at Indiana's Camp Atterbury, scheduled to be run by a privately contracted company, was reduced to some hastily improvised sessions with almost none of the equipment necessary for training.

"We're part-time soldiers, we only train once a month, and when we do actually have trainings that are supposed to last any significant amount of time, we don't do anything that seems useful." says  Private A, a 21 year-old reservist.

Training inadequacies go beyond the issue of equipment. "Most of the things we're being taught are being applied specifically from Iraq and from Iraq vets. Afghanistan is a whole different ballgame. The only thing that's the same is IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. The language, the landscape,  the situation... everything is different" says Private A.

While U.S. and European diplomats have recently admitted they are floundering in the immensely complex social and political landscape of Afghanistan, Private A describes the level of preparation his company was offered: a single cultural awareness class focused, again, on Iraq rather than Afghanistan. "Everything they mentioned pertained to Iraq, so people were asking, 'Well, in Afghanistan, what's this like?' And they'd say, well, we can't really tell you. Or just make up facts. It's not making me feel any more comfortable about my first time deploying."

"I Fear that My Chain of Command Will Fail Me"

The company has experienced numerous changes in leadership, including the transfer of their first sergeant after the disastrous Camp Atterbury training, where morale plummeted to a new low and one servicemember attempted suicide. Months of changing leadership have created insecurity and instability for members of the company, who have not had time to train together or build trust with the leadership they'll be serving under in Afghanistan.

Even some top military brass acknowledge that poor mental health in the ranks is compounded by failures of leadership. Suicide is at "crisis level" in the military, declared Navy Adm. Mike Mullen in an Aug. 2nd speech to the National Guard Family Program Volunteer Workshop in New Orleans. Mullen said, "A big part of the solution is tied to leadership and how we do the training."

"Without stable enlisted leadership, unit commanders are unable to properly assess the training, mental health, and personal needs of their troops or effectively implement their training plans. This leaves soldiers vulnerable to inadequate training and pre-deployment preparation which could lead to disastrous outcomes on the battlefield." wrote Iraq War veteran Aaron Hughes, in a July letter on behalf of the 656th  arguing to delay deployment.

Specialist B, a 20 year-old from Indiana, says "I would like to believe that I'm fully prepared to go to war, but that is just not the case. I don't know what my mission will be, I feel as if I have to defend my very close battle buddies and not my chain of command. I fear that my chain of command will fail me in the ultimate end and as a result my life will be on the line, or one of my buddies' lives will pay the price for the lack of leadership."

Willful Negligence?

Two weeks out from their activation date, Sgt Villatoro explains "It's just not possible to be sufficiently trained in this time frame, let alone broadly enough for not knowing what our mission will be."

"It just doesn't make sense. And it's dangerous. I just don't understand why they'd put us in that much danger, to the point where it doesn't make sense cause we're unprepared for anything." says Private A.

Clearly, the 656th cannot be prepared to successfully complete a mission it has not been trained for. But the question of inadequate training cannot be divorced from context. In every branch of the military, servicemembers continue to question the legitimacy of the mission, and whether they can in good conscience participate in these projects.

Sgt. Villatoro says, "That's the part I struggle with, that we don't have to do this. It's kind of hard to convince a soldier that they do have a choice. That the mission we were given, we believe it's not effective.

"Sit down and look at the effectiveness of trying to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. Sending 30,000 more soldiers with weapons doesn't make sense to me. We don't know anything about the culture, diplomacy; they train us on how to conduct traffic checkpoints."

These servicemembers also express concern about the effects on the Afghan people of deploying unprepared soldiers, untrained on their weaponry and equipment, and many in need of mental health support.

"What I'm afraid is that the rules of engagement might go out the window. That's what happened when I went [to Iraq], they told us that as soon as you feel threatened you're able to shoot. I'm afraid soldiers are going to forget the rules of engagement, go by their emotions, their anger and frustration, and take matters into their own hands."  says Sgt. Villatoro.

Unfit for Deployment

Lack of training on guns and vehicles makes soldiers a danger to themselves as well as others. The 656th will be operating top-heavy MRAP vehicles on Afghanistan's difficult terrain, without having practiced driving these rollover-prone trucks even on Indiana's flat roads.

"Whether we run off the road and kill somebody, or it's somebody who snaps... If you don't get mental help, that's what is probably going to happen. And when you don't have prepared soldiers, you're going to have accidents," says Private A.

Many soldiers diagnosed with a mental illness by a civilian doctor don't report their diagnosis to the Army. They fear that they will be either immediately discharged, or deployed without treatment and possibly barred from carrying weapons. Private A was diagnosed as bipolar 3 years ago and has kept this information secret.

"Mental health screening is a little embarrassing on the Army's part-- the fact that they haven't done it," says Private A. "There are several people here who I know of including myself with a diagnosed mental illness and the Army hasn't caught it or done anything about it."

During the Camp Atterbury training, a young servicemember slit his wrists with a number of others present. The military's minimal response didn't include mental health screening for the witnesses, the friends who intervened in the suicide attempt, or other company members shaken by the incident. Villatoro explains that the only mental health screening offered to this unit has been an anonymous online survey.

"The lack of screening could be a good thing to keep our numbers up as a unit," says Private A, who has learned to manage his stability without medication over the last two years, after losing health insurance. "But God forbid something happens to those people or for some reason they can't get medication over there. That could be the last time they see home. Any of those people could turn a gun on us or themselves."

The experiences of these servicemembers reflect the escalating mental health crisis in the military, with rising deployments and redeployments of soldiers suffering from trauma, mental illnesses, and physical wounds. A third of troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan report mental problems, according to a study by the RAND corporation. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), military sexual assault (MST), depression and anxiety disorders have carved holes in the ranks.

Army suicide attempts peaked this past June. The Army reports that in the last year, 239 soldiers killed themselves, (including 160 on active duty) and 1,713 people attempted suicide. Studies that include veterans in their statistic show even more horrifying numbers, like a CBS News study of state-by-state data in 2007 that revealed about 120 veteran suicides a week. The military does not acknowledge responsibility for many post-service suicides by veterans, who are two to four times more likely to commit suicide than civilians of the same age.

"It's not enough for Obama to say that it's not weak to ask for help, " says Maggie Martin, an organizer with Iraq Veterans Against the War who works on issues of stopping deployment of soldiers with trauma and mental health needs. "We have to create a community where people know that. What the 656th is doing, in trying to delay the deployment and call attention to these issues-- that is really important in helping soldiers know that they have to stand up for themselves and let people know what's happening,"

Soldiers Fill the Leadership Gap

Alejandro Villatoro enlisted as a high school senior in 2000 for economic reasons. Six months ago, he told his command he was applying for conscientious objector status. He avoided thinking about his participation in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 until entering non-commissioned officer training three years later.

"As a leader, I wanted to take initiative and learn more about the war...It took me about two years to learn and decide what we were doing was ineffective and immoral."

When Sgt. Villatoro learned that his unit was slated to deploy to Afghanistan this fall, he decided to drop the conscientious objector application to go through deployment with his soldiers. "I wanted to be with them to educate them about the wars, what's worth fighting for, what it really is to be a soldier."

"They know my situation, that I wanted to get out and am only doing this for them" says Sgt. Villatoro. In conversations with soldiers in his unit, Villatoro found that many soldiers shared these concerns, and some felt ready to risk speaking out. Even more have indicated their agreement through informal surveys made by Villatoro, but stay quiet for fear of retribution.

Specialist B says "I have too many concerns with the 656th deploying to Afghanistan," echoing the basic sentiment of many others in the company. Private A says "If we can't even get little stuff like trainings scheduled, how are we supposed to nail down a complex mission in Afghanistan?"

Others appear comfortable or even enthusiastic about deployment. Villatoro says, "There's a lack of knowledge; the motivation is money or medals, coming back with ribbons and hoping to have war stories. It's not about the Afghan people, or thinking this will end the war. They don't think that's going to happen."

"You have a bunch of people who want to go just for the experience and for the money. I think that a lot of it is the money. That's the only thing that's keeping me from saying OK, thanks and goodbye; there's not a lot of jobs out there," says Private A, who is from a small farming town and enlisted at 17.

"The only thing that's making me go is that I need the money. When I get back, I want to start school again and didn't have money to do that before. That's essentially the only thing that's  keeping me there."

Sgt. Villatoro says he feels a sense of responsibility to help younger soldiers to recognize where they may need more experience to understand of their own lack of preparation.

"You can ask some of these soldiers if they're satisfied with the training so far, and they'll say yes. But you ask, Is it sufficient for you to conduct a mission in Afghanistan? That's where the confusion sets in."

After his own experiences in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Sgt. Villatoro names a key fear of sending out young, unprepared soldiers, many on their first deployment, without clarity about what they are expected to do and how they're going to survive.

"As a young soldier, there's a lot of insecurity," he says. "You're scared, you're not going to remember the rules of engagement or what you're supposed to do. You just want to get through the firefight."

Private A sums it up: "It just doesn't make sense to send an unprepared soldier into battle. It's like brushing your teeth without toothpaste."

Fending For Themselves

After his command denied him an audience (and declined to comment for this article), Sgt. Villatoro and an increasing number of servicemembers from the 656th are looking to elected officials for assistance. Villatoro visited the office of Chicago's Representative Luis Gutierrez to underline the need for soldiers to be properly trained and mentally fit before deploying; Gutierrez has acknowledged the severity of these concerns and is taking the matter under advisement. He was accompanied by allies including veterans of the Navy, Marines, Army and Illinois National Guard, representing service in Vietnam, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Sgt Villatoro and several soldiers from his unit met last week to discuss the matter with Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), an advocate for mental healthcare for soldiers and veterans. Durbin's office offered to forward a letter from Sgt Villatoro to the military liason in Congress. Recently, Sgt. Villatoro filed an official request with his office to open a Congressional inquiry into the 656th's unfitness for deployment.

With only a couple weeks left before their activation date, these soldiers are taking multiple courses of action to address this situation. On why he decided to speak out, Private A says, "I just want future soldiers to realize you have to take this stuff into your own hands."

More and more soldiers are stepping up to join Sgt. Villatoro in speaking up about the concealed chaos of the 656th. Their perspectives, politics and hopes span a wide range; they unify behind lack of faith in their company's preparation and leadership, and a common belief that the Afghanistan war is only getting worse.

An Unwinnable Mission

"I ask soldiers: what do you hope, do you really think this last push will end this war? A lot of them say no, because they know they're not there to help the Afghan people." says Sgt. Villatoro.

Private A says "No, absolutely not. There's no reason we're even there. I'm going overseas to fight people where I have no idea that they did anything wrong. We're not even fighting al-Qaeda, we're just over there picking a fight, driving around and seeing who shoots at us, then shooting them. I don't even understand the reason we're over there."

"The mission as a whole in Afghanistan has lost its purpose," says Specialist B. "The government can say whatever and do whatever and get away with it, with very little justice to the American people."

Over 150 soldiers have publicly refused orders or deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan. There is precedent for a unit to successfully delay its deployment, as another National Guard unit and family members managed to do in 2007. Servicemembers, families, allies, and groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War organize resistance both publicly and under the radar. The Under the Hood G.I. Coffeehouse in Killeen, TX held a march to publicize opposition to the deployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR)  from Fort Hood, Texas, scheduled for August. Soldiers, military families and civilian organizers demanded an end to the occupations, cancellation of this deployment, and for an end to the 3rd ACR's policy of deploying traumatized soldiers.

"There is a strong history in this country of G.I.s taking a stand, confronting and exposing unjust and illegal military practices," says Sarah Lazare, an Illinois-based organizer with the Civilian-Soldier Alliance, a group of non-veterans supporting and collaborating with servicemembers and veterans who resist orders and wars they view as unjust and illegal. "By courageously speaking out about the problems with their unit, soldiers in the 656th are strengthening the movement of service members taking stands of conscience against military actions they oppose."

Despite his principled objection to the Afghanistan War, Sgt. Villatoro is prepared to deploy with the soldiers in his charge if they are unable to delay the 656th's activation. "I ask myself why I feel so responsible. I put a lot of blame on myself because of mistakes I made as a young naïve soldier, and I don't want to do it again or see other young soldiers make those mistakes."

Sgt. Villatoro says, "This war has never ended for me. I feel bad a lot about the soldiers, how they keep re-enlisting. My war, my fight will never end until every soldier is home."

Clare Bayard is an organizer with Catalyst Project ( [1]) for demilitarization and racial and economic justice. Clare builds support for war resisters, and has worked in solidarity with Gulf Coast Reconstruction movements since Katrina.


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 12, 2010, 07:19:36 am

Afghanistan's serious questions

By Clayton Swisher in  Asia on August 11th, 2010


Picture from AFP

Are there any chances for success by the US-led coalition in Afghanistan?

Reflecting on my coverage of the latest UN report released on Tuesday showing a 31 per cent increase in overall Afghan civilians casualties, a couple of questions raised in my mind about the overall chances for success by the US-led coalition.

Number-crunchers from the UN’s Assistance Mission Afghanistan (UNAMA) now say the Taliban and other "Anti-government elements" are responsible for 76 per cent of civilian deaths logged in 2010.  The increased use of roadside bombs by insurgents has plenty to do with that. 

But so too does the increase in US forces President Obama has sent here since the "surge" strategy was announced last year.  More fighters equals more fighting.  And based on my last three embeds in the past year, there is no doubt in my mind the Taliban is winning by greeting the newly arrived troops and their first-world hardware with the easy-to-make, increasingly undetectable homemade bombs—the same form of asymmetrical warfare used with devastating effect in Iraq.

It's unconscionable the level of Afghan civilian deaths caused by these IED’s—including a 155 per cent increase in child IED deaths in 2010 from the same period in 2009.  So too are the Isaf strikes that killed 12 per cent of Afghans in the first half of this year, even though civilian casualties caused by coalition air strikes plummeted by 64 per cent.

But talking with some folks familiar with the Taliban thinking, it is even more distressing to ponder that maybe a large number of the population here just might accept the Afghan civilians killed by fellow Afghans in the name of expelling the foreign occupier. 

And it's not just foreign soldiers being gunned down, as we saw just a few days ago in the tragic case of the 10 NGO workers killed in Badakshan province (previously thought a "safer" area from insurgent attacks).   Foreigners are increasingly targets—whether aid workers, private security companies, diplomats, or even us journalists.

So what if, in spite of American military hardware and domestic political fears of losing this war, there is no realistic chance of defeating the Taliban?  No way of unscrambling the egg.  Not getting the toothpaste back in the toothpaste container.  Take your pick.

After 9 years of war, President Obama inherited a conflict that was poorly fought and under resourced.   Much of the goodwill Afghans showed around 2002 has since evaporated in the wake of Isaf civilian casualties. Coupled with a tired American military—many of whom served several exhausting tours in Iraq, understood Afghanistan to be only a sideshow in President Bush’s priorities, and arrived here in no mood to strike up friendly relations in yet another tribal society they hardly understood—its more than possible to see that for many the coalition has worn out its welcome.

Thanks to this video compiled by Huffington Post, it is also clear these were worries on the prescient  mind of then US Senator Barack Obama, whose rhetoric on Afghanistan and the American mission has shifted considerably since becoming Commander-in-Chief.

When asking coalition forces how they saw their mission ending, I got several different answers, almost none of which were establishing a lasting democracy here.   

Never once mentioned by American G.I.’s I talked with was the "removing Al Qaeda" mantra.  Even the CIA Director talked openly that Al Qaeda’s presence here might only be "50-100 fighters, maybe less"—hardly a figure that justifies over 100,000 forces.  One Special Forces soldier even told me that they were there to have a presence in the event of a confrontation with neighbouring Iran.  Indeed, especially long airstrips have been constructed in this country that just might allow for that contingent.

While Isaf changes leadership and muddles through problems with the many problems crippling the Karzai Government, concerns grow that this country could be heading toward civil war or splitting along ethnic lines.   

One senior US Army officer told me last month in Kandahar his "worst fear" of how that might happen.  He said that he and his fellow officers could imagine a scenario where the Taliban captures Kandahar, the country’s second largest city, which is dominated by ethnic Pashtuns. 

He said that all it would take for a "game over" scenario is for the Taliban to capture the Kandahar District Government Headquarters (which they’ve bombed and attacked in the past).  And once the Taliban raises their black flag, gathers journalists, and makes their appeal to the world and United Nations for temporary statehood recognition, that some in the international community, especially European countries, who are anyhow weary of how this war is being fought from Kabul, just might concede.

I don’t know how likely that possibility is—pretty hard, I would guess, given its heavy fortification and closeness to quick reaction forces at Kandahar Air Field.  But the UN also showed how assassinations of civilians and those daring to seek employment by the Afghan government increased by more than 95 per cent.  That's a statistic that can just as easily render a government building ineffective, as one that has few employees can hardly do work.  That certainly hit home in the Arghandab District of Kandahar area where I was last month, as its District Governor had just been killed by the Taliban, in addition to two other senior tribal elders working with the coalition.

All of this adds up to an outcome that no one seems to be seriously debating, which has me wondering if maybe, beneath the veneer of it all, Isaf is planning an exit based on mitigating its damages, trying to bloody the Taliban nose into negotiation, and waiting for the first opportunity to get out of Dodge.

After all, it is hard to see Isaf's strategy of "protecting the population" work, particularly if the population does not want it and is content with losing many more times Afghan civilians to drive the foreigners away.

So is the US and Isaf giving this the attention it deserves?  Sadly, the only ones apart from them who may know work for Wikileaks.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 13, 2010, 06:32:13 am
Published on Thursday, August 12, 2010 by FireDogLake

The Coming Military Offensive Against the July 2011 Timetable

by David Dayen

The military has put together a game plan, set up their strategy and deployed their troops into the field. They are ready to storm with full-spectrum pressure to achieve their objective.


American and Afghan soldiers on a joint patrol last week in Kandahar Province. Military officials say the counterinsurgency strategy needs time to work. (Yuri Cortez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)

I’m not talking about winning the war in Afghanistan, whatever that means these days. I’m talking about winning the war on the end of the war in Afghanistan [1].

American military officials are building a case to minimize the planned withdrawal of some troops from Afghanistan starting next summer, in an effort to counter growing pressure on President Obama from inside his own party to begin winding the war down quickly.

With the administration unable yet to point to much tangible evidence of progress, Gen. David H. Petraeus, who assumed command in Afghanistan last month from Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, is taking several steps to emphasize hopeful signs on the ground that, he will argue, would make a rapid withdrawal unwise. Meanwhile, a rising generation of young officers, who have become expert over the past nine years in the art of counterinsurgency, have begun quietly telling administration officials that they need time to get their work done.

“Their argument,” said one senior administration official, who would not speak for attribution about the internal policy discussions, “is that while we’ve been in Afghanistan for 9 years, only in the past 12 months or so have we started doing this right, and we need to give it some time and think about what our long-term presence in Afghanistan should look like.”

No military commander in the history of armed conflict has asked for less battlefield resources. The drive from the military for a longer, stronger, deeper commitment should be baked into the cake of the Administration’s thinking on the July 2011 transition point.

But, the offensive appears to already be working. Both Joe Biden and Robert Gates have sought to minimize the importance of July 2011, saying that any withdrawals would be limited, perhaps as few as a few thousand troops. You can be sure General David Petraeus will join them in that assessment this Sunday, when he appears on Meet the Press.

Remember, this would be a total reversal of Petraeus’ own word. In Jonathan Alter’s book The Promise, he describes a meeting [2] between Obama, Petraeus and former Afghan commander Stanley McChrystal:

OBAMA: “I want you to be honest with me. You can do this in 18 months?”

PETRAEUS: “Sir, I’m confident we can train and hand over to the ANA [Afghan National Army] in that time frame.”

OBAMA: “If you can’t do the things you say you can in 18 months, then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?”

PETRAEUS: “Yes, sir, in agreement.”

MULLEN: “Yes, sir.”

The July 2011 transition date was the necessary concession by the military commanders in exchange for getting a larger commitment of forces in December of last year. It wasn’t something to be thrown over because “we need to give the counter-insurgency some time.” In December 2009, David Petraeus said affirmatively that the military would be able to hand over operations to the Afghan National Army, and if they couldn’t, they should leave. That was the agreement. That was the deal.

Petraeus is already breaking it. And it’s because the war hasn’t gone well. Petraeus hopes to scrounge up whatever progress he can find to justify staying longer.

So far the White House is staying neutral in this debate, with a formal assessment to come in December. Their top officials have vacillated between affirming a continued commitment to the region and stressing that such a commitment would not be open-ended.

By the way, we have a new Friedman Unit:

At the core of the timetables, they say, is what White House officials call the “two-year rule.” During the review of Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy, Mr. Gates made the argument, according to one participant in the White House Situation Room discussions, that “in any particular location you should be able to clear, build, hold and transfer” to the Afghan forces within two years. Military officials said two years was roughly how it took to make headway in difficult places, once troops were in place.

“If it takes longer than that,” the official said, “there’s a problem, and you have the temptation to drift.”

Those two years are rapidly approaching. The counterinsurgency policy has actually been in place since March 2009, with more resources, from an initial escalation of 21,000, than during the Bush Administration. The White House starts the two-year clock in June 2009. But either way, nobody, not even Petraeus, can say that the time frame has been rushed.

© 2010 FireDogLake

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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 13, 2010, 07:10:15 am
Afghan offensive turns into a debacle

By ROD NORDLAND, New York Times

The operation was not coordinated with NATO, which came to the rescue.

August 12, 2010

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - An operation that Afghan officials had expected to be a sign of their growing military capacity instead turned into an embarrassment, with Taliban fighters battering an Afghan battalion in a remote eastern area until NATO sent in French and U.S. rescue teams.

The operation, east of Kabul, was extraordinary in that it was not coordinated in advance with NATO forces and did not at first include coalition forces or air support. The Afghans called for help after 10 of their soldiers were killed and perhaps twice as many captured at the opening of the operation nine days ago.

"There are a lot of lessons to be learned here," said a senior U.S. military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "How they started that and why they started that."

The Afghan National Army now has 134,000 soldiers, and on Wednesday, the new U.S. commander, Gen. David Petraeus, complimented the Afghans on reaching that target three months ahead of schedule. Still, the Afghan National Army runs relatively few operations on its own, particularly large-scale ones. They take a little more than half as many casualties as coalition military forces, who now have roughly the same number of troops in the country. (In 2009, according to NATO figures, 282 Afghan soldiers were killed, compared with 521 coalition soldiers.) U.S. advisers are included in most Afghan operations. It is not clear whether any were present in this one.

Plan was betrayed

The operation began when the Afghan Army sent a battalion of about 300 men into a village called Bad Pakh, in Laghman Province, which is adjacent to the troubled border province of Kunar. Their operation, which began on the night of Aug. 3, was to flush out the Taliban in a rugged area where they had long held sway. First, using the Afghan Army's own helicopters, a detachment was inserted behind Taliban lines, while the main part of the battalion attacked from the front.

But, according to an official of the Afghan Defense Ministry, the plan was betrayed. Taliban forces were waiting with an ambush against the main body of troops. Then the airborne detachment was cut off when bad weather grounded its helicopters, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In the confusion, corps commanders lost contact with the battalion. The battalion's Third Company -- 100 men -- took particularly heavy casualties, the official said, although he did not have a number. He said many of the company were killed, captured or missing, and as of Wednesday at least, the status of the rest of the battalion remained unclear.

However, the senior U.S. military official said the battalion had not been lost. "We know exactly where that battalion is," he said, "although there are several soldiers unaccounted for and several killed." He estimated that "about 10" soldiers had been killed and that no more than a platoon were missing, meaning up to 20 soldiers.

An official of the Red Crescent in the area said that casualties were heavy on the government side and that the Taliban had destroyed 35 Ford Ranger trucks, the standard Afghan Army transport vehicle, which typically carry six or more soldiers each.

Both Afghan and U.S. officials said that many Taliban fighters were killed and that the insurgents continued to take casualties through Thursday.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 13, 2010, 09:54:07 am
'US kills civilians to intimidate people'

Thu, 12 Aug 2010 18:01:29 GMT

Writer and radio host Stephen Lendman

A US writer and radio host says that the country's killing of civilians in Afghanistan serves the purpose of public intimidation.

"There have been many, many thousands of Afghan civilians, men, women and children deliberately targeted, deliberately killed to intimidate the population," Stephen Lendman told Press TV on Thursday.

"Things go back, I believe, to World War II, to intimidate the opposition. We did it ruthlessly in Vietnam, and the most well-known Operation Phoenix, with the estimated number of civilians that we killed, numbered maybe 80,000. The number could have been doubled," he added.

He said the United States military presences in Iraq and Afghanistan is tantamount to war crime.

"There is no question of war crimes being committed … our presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan is a war crime; both wars are illegal. We violated international law. We violated US law. We violated the US Constitution by being there. These are war crimes. Every day by being there, we have committed war crimes, because we have committed crimes against humanity. We deliberately target civilians. There is nothing about random civilian killings," he added.

Lendman is a prolific writer on domestic and international issues with damning pieces of criticism on the American military interventions and Israeli acts of violence.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 14, 2010, 09:50:15 am
Bringing Freedom and Prosperity to Afghanistan

by James Bovard, Posted August 12, 2010

The Obama administration is seeking to rechristen the Afghan debacle it inherited from the Bush administration. Obama’s efforts to legitimize the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan simply ignore the previous record of American actions in that nation. But the past debacles ensure the failure of Obama’s ramped-up interventions.

Afghanistan was recently judged to be the second most corrupt nation on Earth. According to Transparency International, the only place in the world that is more corrupt is Somalia — a nation best known for its pirates. The Washington Post reported last November that one of Afghanistan’s top ministers took a $30 million bribe to give a special deal to a Chinese mining company. The New York Times reported, “Everything seems to be for sale: public offices, access to government services, even a person’s freedom.”

And yet, Americans are supposed to believe that sending in more troops will morally redeem the Karzai regime. Unfortunately, that is the message that the American media often trumpet — following the White House script, the way they have done since 2001.

U.S. government handouts have enabled the Afghan government to increase repression of the Afghan people. The U.S. government has poured billions of dollars into building up the Afghan army. But Afghan soldiers are often a pox on their countrymen. Human Rights Watch reported that government

troops and police in many parts of the [southeast] region, and parts of Kabul itself, are invading private homes, usually at night, and robbing and assaulting civilians. By force or by ruse, soldiers and police gain entry into homes and hold people hostage for hours, terrorizing them with weapons, stealing their valuables, and sometimes raping women and girls. On the roads and at proliferating official and unofficial checkpoints, local soldiers and police extort money from civilians under the threat of beating or arrest.

U.S. aid is supposedly going to generate the prosperity that leads to Afghan freedom. And yet, even within a couple years after the U.S. invasion, foreign aid was floundering in Afghanistan, just as it almost always does elsewhere.

On December 16, 2003, dignitaries from the U.S. government, the Afghan provisional government, the United Nations, and other organizations gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. President Bush issued a statement from Washington bragging that

the first phase of paving the Kabul-Kandahar leg of the highway is completed under budget and ahead of schedule. This new road reduces travel time between Kabul to Kandahar to five hours. It will promote political unity between Afghanistan’s provinces, facilitate commerce by making it easier to bring products to market, and provide the Afghan people with greater access to health care and educational opportunities.

Though the announcement and the ceremony were widely portrayed in the U.S. media as a triumph for the Bush administration, the reality was less cheery. The Los Angeles Times reported that “it took hundreds of U.S. and Afghan troops, backed by attack helicopters, antitank weapons, snipers and bomb-sniffing dogs, to make it safe for President Hamid Karzai to cut the ribbon on the Kabul-to-Kandahar highway.” Prior to the signing ceremony, “troops set up roadblocks to stop traffic in both directions for more than three hours. That was just long enough for dignitaries to arrive in heavily guarded convoys and on Chinook helicopters, celebrate a job well done and rush back to safer ground in Kabul, the capital, 25 miles northeast.”

The trip from Kabul to Kanda-har is faster now — unless a person gets killed or kidnapped along the way. Andrew Natsios, the director of the U.S. Agency for International Development, bragged, “We built this road right through a war zone.” But the road is doing nothing to end the war. Though the road itself is a vast improvement over the horribly potholed road first built by the United States in the 1960s, the Chicago Tribune noted that “all but about 40 miles of it are off-limits to the United Nations agencies and international aid workers” because of the high risk of attacks. The soaring crime rate can make the road too perilous even for Afghan taxi drivers.

Despite the dismal failure of U.S. foreign aid to Afghanistan during the Bush administration, the Obama administration’s promises of redemptive aid are usually taken at face value by most of the American media. Neither the media nor the White House has shown a learning curve.

The blessings of liberty?

Another defense of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan is that it will bring the blessings of freedom to the long-suffering Afghan people. But that is the same charade that the Bush administration used — very successfully for his 2004 reelection campaign.

In a February 5, 2004, speech in Charleston, South Carolina, Bush declared, “Thanks to the United States and our friends, thanks to the bravery of many of our fellow citizens ... Afghanistan is a free country.” Bush also asserted that the United States “liberated the ... Afghan people from oppression and fear.” But it takes more than the abolition of weekly public executions in the Kabul soccer stadium to make Afghans free. If freeing people were as simple as toppling a bad government, almost all of the people in the world would have long since been free.

Bush’s proclamation that Afghans were free provides more insight into his concept of freedom than it does into the daily sufferings of Afghans at the hands of their government. The U.S. State Department noted in 2004,

Arbitrary arrest and detention are serious problems.... Procedures for taking persons into custody and bringing them to justice followed no established code.... Limits on lengths of pretrial detention were not respected....

... There were credible reports that some detainees were tortured to elicit confessions while awaiting trial.

On the bright side, the State Department noted that “defendants ... were permitted attorneys in some instances.”

Unfortunately, the Afghans were receiving the same type of freedom that Bush was creating for Americans. The Afghan government created a National Security Court to try terrorist cases and other cases but did not disclose any details on how the court would actually function. The new court provided the appearance of a judiciary while permitting maximum political manipulation of charges and verdicts. The Karzai government also expanded the number of judges on the Afghan Supreme Court from 9 to 137. Even Franklin Roosevelt’s 1937 scheme to pack the U.S. Supreme Court was timid in comparison.

Freedom has been flattening for some Afghans unlucky enough to live near high-ranking government officials. The State Department reported, “Government forces demolished homes and forcibly removed populations from and around the homes of high government officials and other government facilities, without any judicial review. Police officers, led by Kabul Chief of Police Salangi, destroyed the homes of more than 30 families in Kabul.” The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has “investigated and registered” hundreds of cases of “police arbitrarily destroying homes.”

Freedom of speech and freedom of press are sparse in many parts of Afghanistan. The government and political forces have a stranglehold on broadcast media and also dominate much of the print media. The State Department noted, “The State owned at least 35 publications and almost all of the electronic news media. All other newspapers were published only sporadically and for the most part were affiliated with different provincial authorities. Some government officials through political party ties maintained their own communications facilities.” Considering the high rate of illiteracy in Afghanistan, the government broadcast media monopoly ensures that few Afghans will hear a discouraging word — at least regarding their rulers.

The Bush administration followed the usual pattern of touting to the heavens meaningless reforms by its foreign lackeys. In 2004, Bush gushed about the provisional constitution recently approved by a meeting of Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga. Bush bragged that “the people of Afghanistan have written a constitution which guarantees free elections, freedom, full participation in government by women. Things are changing. Freedom is powerful.”

But the new Afghan constitution has thus far had about as much effect on the average Afghan as Stalin’s 1936 constitution, which generously proclaimed a panoply of freedoms, had on the typical Soviet citizen. The Afghan constitution is largely a list of positive-sounding aspirations — the type of public relations slogans that Washington lobbies emit all the time for their foreign clients. The new constitution did little more than provide an applause line for Bush’s speeches.

The Obama administration is following in Bush’s footsteps in its portrayal of the Karzai regime as a legitimate elected government. The election last summer in Afghanistan was one of the most corrupt in the world since the fall of the Soviet bloc. But after it became clear that Karzai was not going to budge from power, the Obama administration decided to treat him as if had won fair and square. That was the same folly that the Johnson administration fell into regarding its South Vietnamese lackeys in 1967. But in the same way that the Vietnamese people were not fooled, the Afghan people are increasingly bitter about both Karzai’s abuses and the fact that the United States is sanctioning their oppressor.

There will be no happy ending to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. By vesting himself in one of Bush’s greatest follies, Obama is destroying his credibility both with Americans and with the world. Who will be the last American soldier to die so that the U.S. president can continue denying his Afghan follies?

James Bovard is the author of Attention Deficit Democracy [2006] as well as The Bush Betrayal [2004], Lost Rights [1994] and Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave-Macmillan, September 2003) and serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email.

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 16, 2010, 06:22:28 am

Afghanistan's serious questions (part 2)

By Clayton Swisher in  Asia on August 15th, 2010


Photo by AFP

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This installment focuses on some problems fighting this war from within the senior US military leadership.

This installment focuses on some problems fighting this war from within the senior US military leadership.

Back in December 2009, I covered General McChrystal’s briefing on the Obama Afghan Surge inside a tent filled with senior US, Afghan, and ISAF officers at Kandahar Air Field.   

Since this week has been about reflection, a couple things stand out in my mind, starting with the awkwardly long moment of silence among the military’s top brass when McChrystal finished his presentation and asked the standing room only crowd if there were any questions on the future of the war (more on that in a moment).

A single McChrystal sound bite from that night has since proven memorable. “I believe that by next summer, the uplift of new forces will make a difference on the ground significantly,” McChrystal said. 

Too bad he’s not here anymore to see that what connotation “significant” turned out to mean. 

To make it clear: a 31 per cent spike in Afghan civilian casualties from January to June 2010, according to the UN.  More public animus against American and Coalition forces—now numbering over 130,000—regardless if they themselves did not commit the majority of those losses.  The deadliest year of coalition casualties since the war began 9 years ago—434 deaths according to the latest stats at

That’s a rate of one coalition soldier killed for every 5 Afghan civilians by the Taliban in 2010—is that significant enough?

I won’t impugn General McChrystal as some others have in recent weeks, including the mother of Pat Tillman [Army Specialist Pat Tillman was a former NFL football player-turned special forces Ranger who volunteered for service in Afghanistan only to be killed by his own men.  The Army’s shameful handling of the investigations (read: cover up) was under the direction of none other than Stanley McChrystal, commander of Joint Special Operations Command in 2004).

In that same package I had also interviewed Canadian Brigadier General Daniel Menard, who at the time was the Commander of ISAF forces for Kandahar City, which would see the brunt of America’s surge in the spring-summer 2010.   Kandahar is Afghanistan’s second largest city, the heart of the Pashtun majority in this country, a historical Taliban stronghold, and the most difficult beat in this war.

On the Afghan surge, General Menard confidently added “The intent is to ensure that around [Kandahar] City, and when I say around the city I mean right from Arghandab to Maiwand, we create a ring of stability. This ring of stability is essential to be created by May next year (2010) so we have a true buffer zone of people that believe in something else than the insurgency.” 

Having gone on an embed to the Arghandab District of Kandahar last month, I’d say that’s a premonition that was about as far off as one could get.  Menard should either have fired his magic 8 ball, or get fired himself (Whoops!  That’s right, he did get fired in May, for two other reasons, including allegedly not keeping his hands off a) a junior subordinate and b) the trigger of his automatic weapon).

The shakeup of General officers has had a detectable effect on senior officers here in Afghanistan, and not in a good way.  Us journalists call it “the McChrystal effect.”  That is, highly decorated grown men of rank are scared out of their wits to speak with journalists—the misguided lesson many took away from the whole McChrystal kerfuffle that led to his termination.

For the junior warfighters in Regional Command South (the area where fighting is heaviest, including Kandahar and Helmand), it has proven musical chairs of rank-heavy command leadership and differing philosophies, coupled with the coming and goings of normal troop rotations (ranging from 7 months to 1 year).   Any wonder there is lack of a steady vision?

We may soon learn the latest iterations in US-Afghan strategy changes when General Petraeus breaks his vows of silence in a media blitz—starting with the for-domestic-consumption only “Meet the Press.”  Many will be keenly watching to see what change in strategy ISAF’s new Commander might proclaim, including hints that the Obama timeline for withdrawal in 2011 is just too premature.

In the backdrop of these PR efforts, there is perhaps one important move made by the Obama Administration that will affect the officer-heavy US Armed Forces, but only in the long run.  That was Secretary Gates pledge this week to drastically cut the amount of senior officers and generals from the Pentagons payroll—a real shock and awe for the officer lobby and military-industrial complex, corporations owing their existence to the legions of retired Generals who flock there to trade inside access to secure billion dollar contracts. 

There is something about the breed of today’s top military brass that makes them come off more like politician/cheerleaders as opposed to the cigar chomping Generals George Patton and Chesty Puller who told the truth, regardless of who it offended.

How a generation that grew up—or in some cases, served—in the Vietnam conflict—with all its lies, manipulations, and cover-ups to continue a losing conflict—could today replay those sordid events upon assuming power and rank is beyond me.

But what is more chilling is the effect it has on some (but not all) in the US military’s junior officer corps. What’s the right thing to do? Whatever order/choice/outcome/assignment seems most popular, likely to please, and lead to self-promotion.

It's gotten so noticeable on embeds that, though officers often volunteer to speak, I almost always prefer to seek out the real story from enlisted soldiers and senior Non Commissioned Officers—troops who seem to value truth and being honest in the eyes of their peers above political correctness and looking good on TV.

One recent afternoon on patrol sticks out in my mind.  I was walking alongside a young officer who remarked of his Afghan Police counterparts “I don’t trust them worth a ****—nothing more than Taliban with a badge.” 

Naturally, I asked him to share that assessment with our 220 million viewers who want to understand how the “partnering up” aspect of the U.S. mission is going. He readily agreed, but what I instead got 2 minutes later—which I refused to use—was “Oh, the Afghan Police have a lot of potential, they’re getting better, there are challenges we’re working to overcome.” 

A little posturing is one thing, but come on.  No wonder the bite that did make our story was given by an enlisted Army Sergeant named Ryan Gloyer, replayed on Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central. Why? My guess is because he gave a credible, albeit amusing opinion (though he did not know, backed by this video footage) about his experiences witnessing the Afghan Police use drugs.

If only that candor could be replayed at the senior levels, when briefing the leadership and American public who are entitled to make informed choices about which direction to head in the Afghan war.

If the senior officers here in Afghanistan continually get it wrong, use this country as a petri dish for counterinsurgency (protect the population from themselves, Hoorah!), or muddle through each year hoping a deus ex machina from Washington will intervene, its time to consider replacing them too without waiting for the Pentagon’s reforms, which will anyhow take years.   

Even though for Democrats it harkens the humiliating experience President Bush had to undergo when the Iraq adventure turned upside down (“Iraq Study Group”), perhaps in this context Congressman Frank Wolf’s calls for an “Afghan Study Group” is not such a bad idea.

Rather than advise the president on what’s working—and clearly the Afghan surge has not, in spite of Pollyannaish predictions I mentioned earlier—the American brass will anyhow wait until Washington think tanks, Congress, the White House, and outside study groups give them guidance on how to best mitigate America’s damages.

So let’s skip a few steps and have the Congress promote the civilian brain trust of this war to General rank.  We could even turn the sacked officers into civilian military contractors—you know, to advise their replacements on how to wear a uniform, perform award ceremonies, salute, march, etc.

A sarcastic stretch, I know, but if so many from today’s officers corps are going to more resemble wannabe policy wonks and future Congressmen (presidents?) in uniform, why use a disguise? 

It would be funny if only so many people weren’t dying.

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 16, 2010, 07:04:17 am
Low al Qaeda count stirs new debate on war


Afghans gather at the scene of an attack on a presidential adviser in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Aug. 2. CIA Director Leon Panetta said fewer than 100 al Qaeda operatives remain in Afghanistan, a number officials hope will restore American optimism in the ongoing war. (Associated Press)

By Rowan Scarborough
The Washington Times
7:53 p.m., Sunday, August 15, 2010

With the American public growing more pessimistic about Afghanistan, war proponents are renewing their case in the face of new estimates that say no more than 100 al Qaeda operatives remain in the country.

In one of his first statements to Congress after being picked in June to command war operations, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus explained why nearly 100,000 troops are in Afghanistan nine years after the conflict began.

"In short," Gen. Petraeus said, "we cannot allow al Qaeda or other transnational extremist elements to once again establish sanctuaries from which they can launch attacks on our homeland or on our allies."

CIA Director Leon E. Panetta fueled the debate this summer by disclosing that his agency can count only 100 al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan. He said the number may be as low as 50.

Couple that with remarks by the former commander, retired Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who said, "I do not see indications of a large al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan now," and the question arises about why the U.S. is in Afghanistan, given it was al Qaeda that attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Why aren't U.S. troops fighting in Pakistan, where the al Qaeda leadership, including Osama bin Laden, fled and regrouped?

James Jay Carafano, a military analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, said a U.S. exit from Afghanistan would bolster al Qaeda throughout South Asia.

"If you don't have an Afghan government that can stand by itself, the Taliban will be back," he said. "That means civil war and maybe genocide. Al Qaeda will be back and so will camps that could lead to the next 9/11, plus a resurgence of terrorism across South Asia and huge propaganda victory for al Qaeda."

An al Qaeda resurgence also could lead to increased violence in the Kashmir region, he said, "meaning nuclear-armed Pakistan and India come to blows."

"NATO fails and crumbles" and "U.S. prestige and credibility crumbles," Mr. Carafano added.

Some pro-war analysts dispute the estimates on al Qaeda.

Bill Roggio, an analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who edits the, said his sources, the enemy's martyrdom statements and a reading of command press releases indicate that many more al Qaeda operatives are in Afghanistan.

"I've been doing my own investigation on this, looking for al Qaeda cells in Afghanistan," Mr. Roggio said. "A thousand would be my estimate. A lot are low-level fighters. But they are members of al Qaeda."

A military intelligence source told The Washington Times that commanders think at least 600 al Qaeda members are fighting in Afghanistan.

For Mr. Roggio and other war supporters, the key issue is not just the numbers, but what would happen if the U.S. leaves now.

"The Taliban and al Qaeda already have safe havens inside Afghanistan, despite a U.S. presence," Mr. Roggio said. "If we walk away from Afghanistan, instead of keeping them occupied with fighting us, they are going to be free to do what they did prior to 9/11, which is plan attacks against the U.S.

"From a straight propaganda and recruiting standpoint, if we lose there, if we show them we are what bin Laden called the 'weak horse,' then their recruiting is going to go through the roof," he said. "If they can show they are successful there, that is an incredible propaganda boon.

"Also, al Qaeda's donors and supporters love a winner. If al Qaeda can show them they can win there, their coffers will fill up from their big donors," Mr. Roggio said.

Douglas Feith, who as the Pentagon's top policy official at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks was an architect of the war on terror, said leaving Kabul would hurt the counterterrorism campaign worldwide.

"There are many serious bad consequences of losing the war," Mr. Feith said. "The Taliban will gain in Afghanistan and may help terrorists against us again. The Taliban would gain Pakistan and may destabilize the government there, which has nuclear weapons.

"Jihadists worldwide and other U.S. enemies would be emboldened by our defeat," he said. "Afghans who cooperated with us would suffer. Others in the world would be reluctant to cooperate with us in the future."

Mr. Panetta said the war's mission is to prevent more attacks.

"Our purpose, our whole mission there is to make sure that al Qaeda never finds another safe haven from which to attack this country," he told ABC News. "That's the fundamental goal of why the United States is there."

Fewer Americans are buying that argument. A recent CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey found that 41 percent of Americans support the war, down 9 percentage points from May 2009.

In August 2009, as President Obama was sending reinforcements to Afghanistan and Gen. McChrystal was asking for even more troops, a Washington Post poll detected growing disenchantment. Fifty-one percent said the war was no longer worth fighting, up 6 percentage points from previous month. Two months ago, the number grew to 53 percent.

A new NBC poll found that 70 percent of Americans do not think the U.S. will win in Afghanistan.

Three factors seem to drive the numbers: the war's length, now in its 10th year; the number of casualties, including the 125 Americans killed in June and July; and the cost of war-related spending for Afghanistan, which the Congressional Budget Office says will reach $300 billion this year.

The House this year delayed for months a vote on a war-funding bill as a growing number of Democrats voiced opposition. When a vote was taken on July 28, 102 Democrats, more than double the number of a year ago, voted no.

The number of congressional Democrats abandoning Mr. Obama on the war has not yet translated into a groundswell of opposition nationwide.

Still, grass-roots anti-war groups are active. One is Veterans for Peace, a 7,500-member group based in St. Louis that also criticizes Israel and is supporting Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst suspected of providing thousands of pages of classified State Department and military reports on Afghanistan to

"VFP is opposed to the war in Afghanistan for several reasons, but the primary one is that it is an illegal war of aggression which has killed thousands of innocent people," said Leah Boyer, the group's vice president and a retired Navy commander who is now is now a full-time peace activist.

"The people and the government of Afghanistan did not attack the United States," she said. "There can be no justification for killing innocent people, and the problems of Afghanistan cannot be solved militarily."

Regarding the "safe haven" argument, Ms. Boyer said, "al Qaeda is everywhere. It is absurd to think that we can attack any country in which there is an al Qaeda presence. Our weapons do not kill just the 'bad guys.' Let's imagine that we could kill every single member of al Qaeda. Would the problem be solved? We will never achieve peace through killing."

Gen. Petraeus views the stakes differently. One of his first chores after he landed in Afghanistan on July 2 was to pen a message to the troops:

"Together, we can ensure that Afghanistan will not once again be ruled by those who embrace indiscriminate violence and trans-national extremists, and we can ensure that Al Qaeda and other extremist elements cannot once again establish sanctuaries in Afghanistan from which they can launch attacks on our homelands and of the Afghan people."

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 16, 2010, 07:13:29 am
5 Radical Ideas to Transcend Washington's War Mentality

Construction at Bagram Air Base tells the real, ugly story about the future of the Afghan war.

By Tom Engelhardt,
Posted on August 15, 2010, Printed on August 16, 2010

A helicopter lands at Kandahar airport in southern Afghanistan. NATO says four soldiers were killed in Afghanistan -- taking the number of foreign troops killed this year to 105 and more than double those killed in the first two months of 2009.Photo Credit: AFP/Pool/File - Rick Loomis

The other day I visited a website I check regularly for all things military, Noah Shachtman’s Danger Room blog at Wired magazine.  One of its correspondents, Spencer Ackerman, was just then at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, the sort of place that -- with its multiple bus routes, more than 30,000 inhabitants, PXes, Internet cafés, fast-food restaurants, barracks, and all the sinews of war -- we like to call military bases, but that are unique in the history of this planet.

Here’s how Ackerman began his report: "Anyone who thinks the United States is really going to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011 needs to come to this giant air base an hour away from Kabul. There’s construction everywhere. It’s exactly what you wouldn’t expect from a transient presence.”  The old Russian base, long a hub for U.S. military (and imprisonment) activities in that country is now, as he describes it, a giant construction site and its main drag, Disney Drive, a massive traffic pile-up.  ("If the Navy could figure out a way to bring a littoral-combat ship to a landlocked country, it would idle on Disney.”)  Its flight line is packed with planes -- "C-17s, Predators, F-16s, F-15s, MC-12 passenger planes” -- and Bagram, he concludes, "is starting to feel like a dynamic exurb before the housing bubble burst.”

I won’t lie.  As I read that post, my heart sank and I found myself imagining Spencer Ackerman writing this passage: "Anyone who thinks the United States is really going to stay in Afghanistan after July 2011 needs to come to this giant air base an hour away from Kabul where buildings are being dismantled, military equipment packed up, and everywhere you look you see evidence of a transient presence.”  To pen that, unfortunately, he would have to be a novelist or a fabulist.

For almost nine years, the U.S. military has been building up Bagram.  Now, the Obama administration’s response to the Afghan disaster on its hands is -- and who, at this late date, could be surprised? -- a further build-up.  In my childhood, I remember ads for... well, I’m not quite sure what... but they showed scenes of multiple error, including, if I remember rightly, five-legged cows floating through clouds.  They were always tagged with a question that went something like: What’s wrong with this picture?

As with so much that involves the American way of war, the U.S. national security state, and the vast military and intelligence bureaucracies that go with them, an outsider might well be tempted to ask just that question.  As much as Washington insiders may periodically decry or bemoan the results of our war policies and security-state procedures, however, they never ask what's wrong.  Not really.

In fact, basic alternatives to our present way of going about things are regularly dismissed out of hand, while ways to use force and massive preparations for the future use of more force are endlessly refined.

As a boy, I loved reading books of what-if history and science fiction, rare moments when what might have happened or what might someday happen outweighed what everyone was convinced must happen.  Only there did it seem possible to imagine the unimaginable and the alternatives that might go with it.  When it comes to novels, counterfactuality is still a winner.  What if the Nazis had won in Europe, as Robert Harris suggested in Fatherland, or a strip of the Alaskan panhandle had become a temporary homeland for Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, as Michael Chabon suggested in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, or our machines could indeed think like us, as Philip Dick wondered in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Such novels allow our brain to venture down strange new pathways normally forbidden to us.

Here, then, are five possibilities, five pathways, that -- given our world -- verge on the fictional.  Consider them not "what-if history,” but "what if Washington...?”

1.  What if Washington declared a ceasefire in Afghanistan, expressed a desire to withdraw all its troops from the country in good order and at a reasonable pace, and then just left?  What would happen?  The answer is: as with the four questions below, we simply don’t -- and won’t -- know; in part because few of the 854,000 people with "top-secret” security clearances, and so perhaps capable of accessing Washington's war planning, are likely to think seriously about what this might mean.  (It would be hell on a career, and there’s no money in it anyway.)

On the other hand, after nine years of grim experimentation, we do know what has happened and is happening in the world’s second most corrupt, fifth poorest country.  If you’ve been following the Afghan War story, even in the most cursory manner, you could already write the next news report on Afghanistan’s hapless American-trained police and its no less hapless American-trained army, the next set of civilian casualties, the next poppy harvest, the fate of the next round of counterinsurgency plans, and so on.  These are, as our previous Secretary of Defense used to say, the "known knowns” of the situation and, unfortunately, the only subjects Washington is comfortable exploring further.  No matter that the known road, the well-worn one, is the assured road to nowhere.

No serious thought, money, or effort goes into imagining how to unbuild the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan or how to voluntarily leave that country.  In a terrible moment in the Vietnam War, Vermont Senator George Aiken suggested that the U.S. just declare victory and get out.  But that sort of thing was, and remains, beyond Washington’s normal imagination; and what Washington can’t imagine, it assumes no one else should.

The American peace movement, such as it is, shouldn’t wait for President Obama.  It should convene its own blue-ribbon commission and put some effort into planning how to get out of Afghanistan voluntarily -- and, having already done much harm, how to leave in the least harmful and quickest way possible.  It’s true that we don’t know what would happen afterwards: Would the Taliban (or its various groupings) take over part or all of the country, or would they leap for each others’ throats once a unifying opposition to foreign invaders disappeared (as happened in Afghanistan in the early 1990s)?  Or, for that matter, might something quite unexpected and unpredictable happen ?

The future is, by definition, an unknown unknown, and Washington, whatever its pretenses to control that future, has a terrible record when it comes to predicting it.  Who knows how long it would take the Afghan people to deal with the Taliban without us, given the woeful inability of such a crew -- second only to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's -- to govern the country effectively (or less than brutally).

2. What if a blue-ribbon commission appointed by the president surveyed the 17 intelligence agencies and organizations that make up the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), the 263 intelligence task forces and other new intelligence groupings that have come into being since September 11, 2001, alone, the labyrinthine "community” that is drowning in 50,000 or more "intelligence” reports a year, and decided that we had 16 too many of them?  The last time such a commission met, after the 9/11 attacks, the result was that the seventeenth member of the IC was added to the roster, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, which, while proving remarkably ineffective by all accounts, has become a little bureaucracy of its own with about 1,500 employees.

What if such a panel were then to consider the obvious: that 17 competing intelligence agencies are a sign of madness when it comes to producing usable "intelligence”; that, while capable of being intrusive and oppressive, eating up more than $75 billion annually, contributing to a national atmosphere of fear, and throwing a penumbra of secrecy over the nation, they are incapable of doing their job.  What if it were to suggest that we need only one, or for competitive purposes, at most two such agencies, and that they should be geared to assessing the world and providing actual "intelligence” to the president and Congress, not to changing it by subverting foreign governments, assassinating foreign leaders or assorted terrorists, kidnapping citizens from the streets of global cities, and the like?  What if Congress agreed?  Would we be better off?  Is there really safety in a bloated intelligence bureaucracy and the dollars it eats, in all those satellites and all that surveillance, in a maturing culture of all-enveloping secrecy that is now a signature aspect of our way of life?

3. What if the president and Congress agreed to get rid of all secret armies, including the CIA, which Chalmers Johnson once dubbed the president’s "private army,” and the military’s secret military, its special operations forces, 13,000 of whom are now on duty in 75 countries?  What if, in addition, we were to demobilize the tens of thousands of armed private contractors and assorted rent-a-guns the Pentagon and the State Department have taken on to supplement their strength?

4. What if the president and Congress really went after the Pentagon budget, projected to top $700 billion next year, including war-fighting costs (and that’s without all the long-term costs of our military even added in)?  Right now, proposed Pentagon budget "cuts” fill the headlines and yet represent nothing more than a reshuffling of military money in the midst of ongoing increases in defense spending.  What if, instead, we actually cut that budget not by 25%, but in half or more, and used that money to promote our long-term safety through the creation of new jobs to work on the country’s aging infrastructure?  That would still leave us putting more money into our military than any other nation on Earth.

What if, in addition, we stopped pouring money into planning breakthrough generations of weapons for 2025 and beyond?  What if, while we’re at it, we decided to toss out the post-World War II definition of our mission as "national security,” a phrase which helped pave the way for the full-scale garrisoning of the globe and the repeated dispatching of U.S. forces to the far reaches of the planet, and went back to the idea of "national defense.”  What if, in the same spirit, the Pentagon once again became an actual department of defense?

5. What if the Department of Homeland Security were abolished (and along with it, that un-American post-9/11 word "homeland” were banished from the language)?  What if its pre-2002 constituent parts were reassigned to non-national security duties and the rest of it to the trashbin of history, ensuring that we no longer had two defense departments?

In Washington’s world, each of these what-ifs is, by definition, an absurdity, the sort of thing that only a utopian peacenik with his head in the sand could conjure up.  And however badly our world seems to go, however misplaced our priorities and our moneys seem to be, Washington looks like it has all the facts and those who might raise such questions none, because no one ever seriously explores such ideas, no less tests them out (even in more modest ways).

As a result, they exist not in the realm of policy, but in the realm of fiction, and comments on the strangeness of those five-legged cows floating through distant clouds near Hellfire-armed Predator drones are left to marginal characters like me.  What, after all, would we do without our national security wars, our ever-burgeoning intelligence bureaucracy, our secret armies, our advanced weaponry, a Pentagon the size of James’s giant peach, and a special department to protect our "homeland” security (accompanied by its own mini-homeland-security-industrial complex and attendant lobbyists)?  How would we know what was coming at us next?  How could we be safe?

Right now, as a nation, we find it remarkably difficult to imagine ourselves as anything but what we now believe ourselves to be -- and Washington counts on that.  We find it almost impossible to imagine ourselves as just another nation (even perhaps, a more modest and better one), making our way on this disturbed planet of ours as best we can.  We can’t imagine ourselves "safe” without being dominant, or being dominant without killing others in distant lands in significant numbers to ensure that safety; nor can we imagine ourselves dominant without that full panoply of secret armies, global garrisons, overlapping spy agencies, fear manias, and all the money that goes with them, despite the abundant evidence that this can’t be safety, either for us or for the planet.

We no longer know what a policy of cautious peace might look like, not having put a cent into envisioning such a project.  War and an aggressive global national security state (and the language that goes with it) are all Washington knows and all it cares to know.  It is completely invested in the world it now so shakily oversees, and cares for no other.

Worlds end, of course, and they regularly end so much uglier when no one plans for the unexpected.  Maybe one of these days, what-if fever will spread in this country and, miraculously, we’ll actually get change we can finally believe in.


Tom Engelhardt, editor of, is co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The American Way of War: How Bush's Wars Became Obama's.
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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 16, 2010, 02:30:24 pm
Monday, August 16, 2010
19:37 Mecca time, 16:37 GMT   
Karzai bans private security firms  

Karzai has repeatedly called for the banning of private security companies in Afghanistan [GALLO/GETTY]
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has given private security firms working in Afghanistan four months to end their operations.

Karzai has repeatedly called for banning private security companies, saying they undermine government security forces.

"Today the president is going to issue a four-month deadline for the dissolution of private security companies," Waheed Omer, Karzai's spokesman, said on Monday.

Omer gave notice last week that the president intended to act over private security firms, calling it "a serious programme that the government of Afghanistan will execute".

"It's not about regulating the activities of private security companies, it's about their presence, it's about the way they function in Afghanistan ... all the problems they have created," Omer said.

US support

Omer said more than 50 private security companies, roughly half of them Afghan and the other half international, employ 30,000 to 40,000 armed personnel in Afghanistan.

He said Karzai had spoken to his Western backers as well as leaders of the US and Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) who contract the companies, to safeguard many aspects of their work, including supply convoys.

"Since [Afghan security forces] are not quite at the stages of capability and capacity to provide all the security that is needed, private security companies are filling a gap", Margaret Boor, US army official
The US military responded on Monday saying it supported the plan and was tightening oversight of its own armed contractors in the meantime.

"Certainly we understand President Karzai's statements that he is determined to dissolve private security companies," Brigadier General Margaret Boor, head of a new task force to better regulate and oversee private security operations, said.

"We are committed to partnering with the government in meeting that intent," she said.

However, Boor declined to give a timeline, saying private security contractors can only be phased out as the security situation improves.

That could be a long time given worsening security in recent months in areas of northern and central Afghanistan that had previously been relatively safe.

Protecting convoys

About 26,000 armed security contractors work with the US government in Afghanistan, including 19,000 with the US military, Boor said.

The majority of military contractors protect convoys, though some also provide base
security, Major Joel Harper, a spokesman for Nato forces, said.

Karzai has said such responsibilities should fall to either enlisted military or police, though it is unclear how soon Afghan forces would be ready to take on additional jobs.

Boor said private contractors were needed right now to keep development projects and military operations running.

"Since the Afghan army and the Afghan police are not quite at the stages of capability and capacity to provide all the security that is needed, private security companies are filling a gap,'' Boor said.

'Behaviour questioned'

Al Jazeera's Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Kabul, said the conduct of private security personnel had caused "a lot of uproar among the Afghan population".

"Their behaviour has always been questioned. Many of them were involved in accidents on highways where innocent Afghan civilians were killed," she said.

"[To ban those firms] is certainly a move that will be widely accepted by the Afghan people and it's certainly a move that comes at a very good time for the Afghan president.

"Parliamentary elections are expected to be held here next month and certainly a this is a move that could could garner some support for the president."

Contractors in Afghanistan have been in the spotlight on several occasions.

In February, US senate investigators said the contractor formerly known as Blackwater hired violent drug users to help train the Afghan army and declared "sidearms for everyone'', even though employees were not authorised to carry weapons.

The allegations came as part of an investigation into the 2009 shooting deaths of two Afghan civilians by employees of the company, now known as Xe.

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 17, 2010, 06:07:19 am
South Asia
Aug 18, 2010 
Bizarre bedfellows rally to Afghanistan

By Brian M Downing

The war in Afghanistan, now almost nine years on, is reaching an important juncture. The conflict itself is plodding along as the insurgency spreads, but public support in Europe and the United States is waning. The Dutch have withdrawn. Canada will have most of its troops out at the end of 2011. The British, French and German publics are increasingly uneasy about the war and seem to be searching for a graceful exit that will not greatly alienate the US.

The American public is also restive. The Barack Obama administration is weighed down with economic problems and has not made a serious effort to rally support for the war. The president's address on the surge in Afghanistan last year was deliberate and analytic rather than emotional and hortatory. There is no meaningful anti-war movement, only the occasional grumblers and growlers just before a war-funding vote that wins by a wide margin. Nonetheless, a public debate has been underway for quite some time.

Disparate groups in the pro-war camp
Three disparate groups are making efforts to bolster support for the war - the military, neo-conservatives and human-rights groups, especially feminist organizations. Politics makes strange bedfellows; foreign policy makes bizarre ones.

Over its long history, the US military has built an institutional culture of confidence - finishing what it sets out to do, seeing things through. This culture was firmly established in the heady aftermath of World War II, gravely damaged during the Vietnam War, but painstakingly rebuilt in the decades that followed. Defeat and attendant weakened prestige make the military even more determined to succeed in Afghanistan.

Furthermore, the military seeks to consolidate a prominent position for itself in the post-Cold War world. Success in Afghanistan will obviously help achieve that. Abandoning Afghanistan will be seen as dishonorable, a concession to world terror, and a diminution of the military's prestige and role in US foreign policy. It is significant that it was the military that made public the geological survey results showing mineralogical wealth in many parts of Afghanistan. And General David Petraeus, the US's top man in Afghanistan, is reminding the public of this in interviews.

The generals will make their case for standing in Afghanistan in cool, professional presentations before the US Congress and on public affairs programs - as will many of their retired colleagues. They will have the appearance of straightforward presentations unsullied by partisan, institutional or corporate interests.

Neo-conservatives also support the war. They see American military power as a sign of national might and virtue and as an instrument of spreading US beliefs and ideals around the world. Afghanistan was not part of the neo-conservative plan to transform the Middle East into a free-market, democratic region on good terms with the US and its allies, but defeat in Afghanistan will be a setback to its agenda, discredited though it is in many quarters now.

Neo-conservative prominence in television, radio and print media affords them the opportunity to present their case repeatedly - daily, if need be. And should the effort in Afghanistan fail, the neo-conservative media will argue that failure stemmed from lack of resolve in the current administration and that a return to the neo-con agenda is needed.

Neo-conservatives and the military have a long working relationship. In the chaotic aftermath of Vietnam, neo-cons saw the nation imperiled by immorality at home and accommodation with the Soviet Union. A revitalized military was the answer to both problems: the military would once more become a respected bastion of moral vision inspiring the nation and standing up to communism and other evils around the world.

Human-rights groups have opposed muscular foreign policy in preference for aid programs and examples as instruments of world change. In Afghanistan, however, they find themselves in the same camp as long-standing opponents in the military. The brutality of the Taliban, while they were in power and as they wage the insurgency, has alarmed human-rights activists in the US and elsewhere in the world. The Taliban destroyed the statues of Buddha that had stood in Bamiyan province for 1,500 years, imposed a harsher understanding of Islamic law than most scholars call for, and killed thousands of Shi'ite Muslims.

Prominent in human-rights arguments is the Taliban's oppression of women and girls. They oppose the education of girls (a contested issue in Afghanistan since reforms in the 1970s) and attack schools built for that purpose. In recent weeks, the cover of Time featured a young woman whose face had been disfigured by the Taliban. Reports circulate of a pregnant woman executed for adultery. Emotional issues such as these are more powerful than dry analyses.

The anti-war camp

Opponents of the war are less organized and less passionate than most counterparts in the pro-war factions. Afghanistan is not like Iraq, which was widely considered a war initiated by a cabal of special interests. Few doubt that the invasion and initial occupation of Afghanistan stemmed from legitimate security concerns after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

A protracted presence and a growing insurgency have made the public uneasy, but only parts of it are adamantly opposed to continued presence. There is no anti-war movement as seen a few years ago regarding Iraq, let alone what took place amid the Vietnam War. And thus far the casualties in Afghanistan are significantly lower than those incurred at the height of the insurgency in Iraq.

Political analysts and more than a few retired officers make the case, in print and over the airwaves, that there is no national security issue at stake in Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda, they contend, has been driven out and can never operate there as it once did. The US presence only serves to inspire Islamist militancy in Afghanistan and throughout the Islamic world.

Emotional tacks are also in evidence in the anti-war camp. The war is causing the senseless deaths and injuries of hundreds of US and allied forces every month. Combat-related mental issues are prevalent and suicide rates are appallingly high. Even far more casualties have been inflicted on Afghan civilians.

Anti-war positions are prevalent in the public; as noted, polling data show 56% of the public oppose the war. But the intensity of that position is weakened by the lingering fear - however unfounded - that al-Qaeda could well return there and strike again on US soil. And there is the long-standing concern of almost all wars that the US cannot withdraw, as that would mean that many Americans would have died in vain.

The balance of power in the public mind
What are the merits and more importantly the effectiveness of each side's arguments? Clearly, a majority opposes the war, but at least thus far their intensity, organization and prevalence in the media lag behind their rivals. Accordingly, anti-war sentiment is unlikely to force change in the country's position in Afghanistan, especially since most people opposed to the war support the Democratic president on many other issues.

It is significant (perhaps even regrettable) that American casualties do not figure more highly in the discussion. When they do, it is usually in a transparently manipulative and off-putting manner. The war is being fought by working-class and lower-middle-class Americans, mainly from small towns and rural areas. In contrast to World War II and even Vietnam, few Americans know anyone in the military today, resulting in a "moral hazard" whereby the consequences of an action do not affect the public at large.

The neo-conservatives and human-rights activists who support the war are as unfamiliar with military service as they are with the topography of the Moon. The US officer corps is also supportive of the war - and they know military service and have dedicated their careers to it. Yet many in the American public, especially veterans of past wars, wonder if generals adequately consider the lives of young men and women in their war calculus any more than the public does.

Brian M Downing is a political/military analyst and the author of The Military Revolution and Political Change and The Paths of Glory: War and Social Change in America from the Great War to Vietnam. He can be reached at

(Copyright 2010 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 17, 2010, 06:12:05 am
South Asia
Aug 18, 2010 
Petraeus marches out of step


General David Petraeus, the commander of United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan, has cast doubt on US President Barack Obama's July 2011 deadline to start withdrawing troops from the country, saying it depends on conditions on the ground.

His comments threatened to create a rift with the Obama administration after Defense Secretary Robert Gates contradicted the general by insisting that the withdrawal date is definite.

In an interview on US television's Meet The Press on August 15, Petraeus said the battle against Taliban militants was an "up-and-down process" and it remains too early to determine how successful it will be.

Asked about the deadline for a phased US troop pullout, he said Obama had defined withdrawal as "a process, not an event" and emphasized that meeting the president's start date for withdrawal would be "conditions-based".

"This is a date [July 2011] when a process begins that is conditions-based," he said. "As the conditions permit, we transition tasks to our Afghan counterparts and the security forces and in various governmental institutions, and that enables a responsible drawdown of our forces."

'Pivotal moment'

Petraeus conveyed the same message in several other media interviews, telling The New York Times that he did not plan to preside over a "graceful exit" and declaring that the Taliban were wrong if they believed they simply had to wait for American forces to withdraw before prevailing.

"Clearly, the enemy is fighting back, sees this as a very pivotal moment, believes that all he has to do is outlast us through this fighting season," Petraeus said. "That is just not the case."

But Gates took a different tack in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, saying: "There is no question in anybody's mind that we are going to begin drawing down troops in July of 2011." Gates also told the magazine Foreign Policy that he intended to retire sometime in 2011.

Obama's mid-2011 deadline has been strongly criticized by some who believe it encourages the Taliban to fight on by sending the message that the United States is not in the fight for the long term.

Petraeus told Meet The Press that the American commitment to Afghanistan would be lasting, although he fell into line with administration policy by accepting the principle of a phased withdrawal.

"We will have an enduring commitment here in some fashion, the character of which may change over time as our Afghan partners can do more and we're more able to do less in certain areas," Petraeus said.

Petraeus, the former commander of American forces in Iraq, was giving his first media interviews since assuming charge of the 140,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan from General Stanley McChrystal, who was fired in June for making disparaging comments about senior administration figures in a magazine interview.

Copyright (c) 2010, RFE/RL Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036

(To view the original, please click here.)

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 17, 2010, 06:31:28 am
Living with the Taliban on the Afghan Frontline

By Alex Thomson

Channel 4 News has obtained rare film of Taliban fighters on the Afghanistan frontline, including footage of their attacks on US forces. Channel 4 News Chief Correspondent Alex Thomson looks at what the film tells us about the insurgents and their tactics.

Even if I did want to do it, I would not be allowed to by ITN. Nor would anybody here. But out there in the wide open world of the freelancer, Paul Refsdal did it. He did it brilliantly well.

If he hadn't slightly overplayed his hand at the last moment, he would have got away with it unscathed and pulled the whole thing off. But even as it is, he has emerged from Afghanistan with footage the like of which has not been seen I will bet, in nine years of war.

Because that's what it's like if you want to seek out the Taliban or other insurgent groups across Afghanistan and set up what the west would call an "embed" with them. It's a helluva risk.

Paul is at least alive to tell the tale and sell his story. Though not without a six day kidnapping under murky circumstances. The Norwegian cameraman insists that no ransom was paid.


Armed fighters
It all starts with the moment when you move beyond the point of return. When the RV finally takes place up some distant mountain track in the east of the country in this case, Kunar Province.

Unsmiling, heavily armed fighters suddenly materialise and then there you are, out there, on your own, with nothing but trust to keep you going. From behind their turban-masked faces they are smirking, saying quietly to each other, "He's really scared of us, isn't he?" And so it went on for the whole of the first day as they trekked back up to their command post.

Day two and things had calmed a little. Commander Dawran - who set the whole thing up - made it plain that Refsdal is a guest. And that is that. Under Afghan custom they will now pretty much lay down their arms to protect him. Rather, on this occasion, than shoot or behead him as a suspected spy.

And by the second day the faces are being revealed, they are laughing around and joking: "If I appear in this people are going to say 'Who's the country boy?’" His mate laughs and adds: "He's filming us all to say look here - these are the bad guys." And things begin to fall into something of a routine.

 The men have a heavy machine gun of fairly ancient origin placed to cover an ambush point on a road used almost daily by the US military. There is no problem filming them as they discuss ambush plans, set it up and execute it. There is much celebration when they claim to hit an American vehicle with a short burst from their primitive gun emplacement high above the snaking mountain road.

But, try as I do, I see no vehicle hit on the camera, at any rate. Commander Dawran lectures his men saying: "During the Russian invasion, someone asked me when the victory will come? The answer was, if the holy warriors are honest and fight only for the sake of God, then victory will come soon. If not, it will take more time."

He compares the motives for the insurgents fighting with those of the west, the Americans - for this is both a US dominated war and they are in a US area of operations: "We fight for our freedom, our religion and we fight for our holy land. We are fighting for these goals. What are their goals? For what are they fighting us? Are they oppressed? Have they been treated unfairly? Are they living in a dictatorship?"

With their trust in their God, their belief is absolute that their day will come against the Americans as it did against the Russians. History, they sense, is on their side. Time, they know, certainly is. But with shortages of weaponry and ammo there is plenty of time, up here in the hills of Kunar, for Commander Dawran to be with his wife and their three children.

Or to play their favourite pastime of rock throwing - see who can hurl the boulder the furthest. Commander Dawran of course, seems to win all the time, though not without loud allegations of cheating. With every day comes the ambush. It is almost routine. And ultimately that is their problem. You can obviously only ambush the Americans for so long until their Special Forces or air attack will seek you out.

So many Nato soldiers on the other side have been puzzled at the insurgents' habit of going for the same ambush points time after time after time. The dangers of this are obvious. And so it happened. One night they had to get out and run up the mountains immediately for cover. Special Forces duly attacked Assad - their second in command - the fighters said he, several soldiers and 13 family members were killed. The game was up. Their war in this area had ended.

Those same Special Forces would surely come calling at another of their houses that night, or the night after. They had to leave that day and Paul had to get out, back to Kabul. Just before he left, Omar, one of this group's up and coming fighters, gave Paul his mobile number and said to call in two weeks and he could come and film with him at another location.

It proved to be a trap. Omar would then kidnap Paul Refsdal, holding him for six days. As ever with these things, precisely what happened is murky and mysterious. Though Paul insists no ransom was paid after he converted to Islam.

As for Commander Dawran, his prediction was deadly accurate. The Americans did subsequently attack his house. He survived. Two of his three young children, did not.

Posted August 16, 2010

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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 17, 2010, 06:34:58 am
Why Petraeus Can't Make The Sale

By Dan Froomkin

August 16, 2010 "Huffington Post" -- As Gen. David Petraeus kicks off an extended media blitz intended to make Americans feel better about the war in Afghanistan -- or at least give him some more time to fight it -- he faces a foe more implacable than al Qaeda, or even the Taliban: Reality.

That reality, increasingly obvious to national security experts and the general public alike, is that no amount of good intentions or firepower is going to advance our fundamental interests in Afghanistan -- and that as much as Petraeus might be able to achieve in the next six months, or a year, little to none of it is sustainable and most of it is, even worse, counterproductive.

U.S. taxpayers are spending vast amounts of money on the war -- over $200 million a day for military operations alone. Our troops work tirelessly, fight and die to protect and build up the people and institutions of Afghanistan.

But how that turns into success remains wildly unclear. And even more importantly, the relationship between what we're doing on a day to day basis and our ostensible goal -- keeping America safe from al Qaeda -- seems increasingly tenuous.

In the first of many planned interviews, Petraeus will tell NBC's David Gregory on "Meet the Press" on Sunday that his intention is "to show those in Washington that there is progress being made" and to persuade decision-makers "that we've got to build on the progress that has been established so far."

But what Petraeus can't do is say with any confidence that this "progress" can be sustained. Nor can he connect it to an actual threat to our national security.

By contrast, in a reflection of an emerging new consensus in the national security community, a self-styled "Team B" on Afghanistan strategy is advocating much narrower goals and reduced military commitment in the region.

According to an advance copy of the group's forthcoming report, "the war in Afghanistan has reached a critical crossroads. Our current path promises to have limited impact on the civil war while taking more American lives and contributing to skyrocketing taxpayer debt. We conclude that a fundamentally new direction is needed."

The report represents the views of about 40 influential national security figures from academia, think tanks and the business community. Organizer Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation said the group is varied in its makeup, but unified by its doubts about the current course.

Its survey of the landscape concludes: "We are mired in a civil war in Afghanistan and are struggling to establish an effective central government in a country that has long been fragmented and decentralized. No matter how desirable this objective might be in the abstract, it is not essential to U.S. security and it is not a goal for which the U.S. military is well suited. There is no clear definition of what would comprise 'success' in this endeavor, and creating a unified Afghan state would require committing many more American lives and hundreds of billions of additional U.S. dollars for many years to come."

"General Petraeus is a smart man and he attracts smart people and I know that since he's been given this onerous duty, he's been looking at at least tactical and operational shifts," said Patrick Cronin, a South Asian expert at the Center for a New American Security and one of the contributors to the report. "But what he isn't addressing is the need for a new political strategy."

Cronin said Petraeus's target audience "shouldn't buy into this military incrementalism. 'Six months more' is not a strategy."

Brian Katulis, a national security expert at the Center for American Progress, said he is worried that members of the Obama administration have lost sight of what he calls the fundamental question: "Are we actually keeping Americans safe?"

"Are we actually preventing people from flying planes into our buildings?"

"Some of the most striking arguments for continuing the conflict are actually sunk costs and national pride and honor," Katulis said. We keep going because "we've spent so much and it would be such an awful thing not to justify the costs and lives."

The war's goal at this point seems to be establishing overall stability in the country. But among the many other problems, Katulis said, there's no good way to measure that; officers on the ground are reduced to tallying things like the number of stores open at night, or the number of shoppers at a market.

That sort of metric leads Katulis and other national security experts to wonder: What does that have to do with the security of our own country? And to the extent that it does, is it really the best use of our resources? What about the threats to our homeland developing in other parts of the world?

Cronin said Petraeus should be forced to explain not just what he intends to do, but how it can be sustained. If he drives the Taliban out of one region -- "if we do sacrifice those lives to do that" -- it still "doesn't put us on a sustainable glidepath," he said.

"Petraeus wants to buy more time, because he needs time to demonstrate that what he's doing can have a positive effect," Cronin said. "But it doesn't have a large enough positive effect, and it's too costly in terms of blood and treasure."

"Yes, there are different views of this war," he added, "but if you look at enough of the evidence, you can't be sanguine that we are indeed winning hearts and minds" -- which is a critical goal of Petraeus's counter-insurgency strategy. In fact, Cronin said, the evidence suggests that we are making ourselves "even less popular than the Taliban... we are making them stronger, and what we're doing is not effective enough."

With al Qaeda essentially gone from Afghanistan, "the original purpose has largely dissipated," Cronin said. "This strategy is actually being counterproductive for our interests."

Katulis also notes that the administration's plan still lacks a clear, positive goal. "If you go through all of the senior administration officials' talking points, they often define the goal as a negative."

The most senior administration official is fond of saying things like: "I've set a clear and achievable mission -- to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda and its extremist allies and prevent their return"

But, said Katulis, "that doesn't actually tell us what it is we actually have to leave behind."

Petraeus is said the be starting to hedge on President Obama's promised deadline of July 2011 for withdrawing American troops.

That's hardly surprising. As I reported two weeks ago, the timeline for an American troop withdrawal has steadily been growing longer for some time, with Obama's deadline looking more and more hollow, and the real timeline for significant troop withdrawal -- barring a change in course -- now extending at least to 2014, if not far beyond.

But from Cronin's perspective, Obama had a year to turn things around, and it's already over. "That's enough empirical evidence to know if there is something that can be salvaged here," he said.

Cronin said the "Team B" solution is "something in between what we've been doing and complete abandonment. It's not that it's a guarantee of success, but we've got to recognize that what we're doing now is not succeeding, either."

Cronin said U.S. national security does not depend on the military defeat of the Taliban, or on a strong central government. The plan instead calls for power-sharing, and for a smaller military presence that focuses on keeping al Qaeda at bay.

So if it's increasingly clear outside the military and the executive branch that a radical reassessment of the war is necessary, why isn't it clear inside?

"If there's one thing that drives the current officer corps in our military it's that they want to avoid the sense of a loss, and perception of another Vietnam," Katulis said.

As for inside the White House, "there's the political and rhetorical box that they themselves have set," Katulis said.

It's also possible that Obama is thinking things he just can't say out loud.

"Our Afghan partners are just not up to the task of what we would like to see," said Cronin. "You can't say that as a government when you're knee deep in a war. But at the end of the day, you have to be realistic about U.S. interests."

And as long as the war is being fought, "the president can't afford to look incoherent on this," Cronin said. "This president in particular, because he'll be attacked from the right, has to look strong on this issue."

Obama "can't afford to have Joe Biden and others leading an ongoing critique of the war" which is why he "put a lid on that last year," Cronin said. Nevertheless, "I think the reality is that inside the administration there continue to be serious people with serious doubts about where this is heading."

But there's yet another force preventing Obama from pivoting, according to Katulis: The possibility that, after he reduces the military footprint in Afghanistan, someone from that country then comes to the U.S. and commits and act of terror.

Staying in Afghanistan for that reason, however, is strikingly reminiscent of former Vice President Cheney's notorious "One Percent Doctrine," as described in the Ron Suskind book by that name. Cheney's basic view was that if there's even a one percent threat of a "high-impact" terrorist event, then the government should respond as if it were a certainty. That led to a lot of overkill.

Cronin said he thinks the president doesn't have much choice. "I think there are fewer and fewer people who are willing to give just a blank check for what's going on," he said.

And Cronin said he thinks Obama "can find a way to make this politically more palatable" by following through with his promised July 2011 drawdown, continuing to make the case for a pivot toward a more diplomatic, less military-intensive strategy. And he can make the case that "there are plenty of other threats out in the world that we're ignoring because of this."

Afghanistan is overkill in the wrong place, Katulis said. "We're really running a risk of having a national security strategy that is not in balance globally."

Dan Froomkin is senior Washington correspondent for the Huffington Post. You can send him an e-mail, bookmark his page; subscribe to RSS feed, follow him on Twitter, friend him on Facebook, and/or become a fan and get e-mail alerts when he writes.

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 17, 2010, 07:23:53 am
Published on Monday, August 16, 2010 by The Real News Network

Battle for Kandahar is On

Muhammad Junaid: US troops may be able to control Kandahar for a time, but can not control the countryside


© 2010 The Real News Network


Article printed from

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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 19, 2010, 06:28:01 am
What if Washington…? 

19/08/2010 06:30:00 AM GMT
We no longer know what a policy of cautious peace might look like. War and an aggressive global national security state are all Washington knows and all it cares to know.

( Anyone who thinks the U.S. is really going to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011 needs to come to this giant air base an hour away from Kabul.

Five absurd things that simply can’t happen in wartime Washington

The other day I visited a website I check regularly for all things military, Noah Shachtman’s Danger Room blog at Wired magazine. One of its correspondents, Spencer Ackerman, was just then at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, the sort of place that -- with its multiple bus routes, more than 30,000 inhabitants, PXes, Internet cafés, fast-food restaurants, barracks, and all the sinews of war -- we like to call military bases, but that are unique in the history of this planet.

Here’s how Ackerman began his report: “Anyone who thinks the United States is really going to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011 needs to come to this giant air base an hour away from Kabul. There’s construction everywhere. It’s exactly what you wouldn’t expect from a transient presence.” The old Russian base, long a hub for U.S. military (and imprisonment) activities in that country is now, as he describes it, a giant construction site and its main drag, Disney Drive, a massive traffic pile-up. (“If the Navy could figure out a way to bring a littoral-combat ship to a landlocked country, it would idle on Disney.”) Its flight line is packed with planes -- “C-17s, Predators, F-16s, F-15s, MC-12 passenger planes” -- and Bagram, he concludes, “is starting to feel like a dynamic exurb before the housing bubble burst.”

I won’t lie. As I read that post, my heart sank and I found myself imagining Spencer Ackerman writing this passage: “Anyone who thinks the United States is really going to stay in Afghanistan after July 2011 needs to come to this giant air base an hour away from Kabul where buildings are being dismantled, military equipment packed up, and everywhere you look you see evidence of a transient presence.” To pen that, unfortunately, he would have to be a novelist or a fabulist.

For almost nine years, the U.S. military has been building up Bagram. Now, the Obama administration’s response to the Afghan disaster on its hands is -- and who, at this late date, could be surprised? -- a further build-up. In my childhood, I remember ads for... well, I’m not quite sure what... but they showed scenes of multiple error, including, if I remember rightly, five-legged cows floating through clouds. They were always tagged with a question that went something like: What’s wrong with this picture?

As with so much that involves the American way of war, the U.S. national security state, and the vast military and intelligence bureaucracies that go with them, an outsider might well be tempted to ask just that question. As much as Washington insiders may periodically decry or bemoan the results of our war policies and security-state procedures, however, they never ask what's wrong. Not really.

In fact, basic alternatives to our present way of going about things are regularly dismissed out of hand, while ways to use force and massive preparations for the future use of more force are endlessly refined.

As a boy, I loved reading books of what-if history and science fiction, rare moments when what might have happened or what might someday happen outweighed what everyone was convinced must happen. Only there did it seem possible to imagine the unimaginable and the alternatives that might go with it. When it comes to novels, counterfactuality is still a winner. What if the Nazis had won in Europe, as Robert Harris suggested in Fatherland, or a strip of the Alaskan panhandle had become a temporary homeland for Jewish refugees from the Holocaust, as Michael Chabon suggested in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, or our machines could indeed think like us, as Philip Dick wondered in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Such novels allow our brain to venture down strange new pathways normally forbidden to us.

Here, then, are five possibilities, five pathways, that -- given our world -- verge on the fictional. Consider them not “what-if history,” but “what if Washington...?”

1. What if Washington declared a ceasefire in Afghanistan, expressed a desire to withdraw all its troops from the country in good order and at a reasonable pace, and then just left? What would happen? The answer is: as with the four questions below, we simply don’t -- and won’t -- know; in part because few of the 854,000 people with “top-secret” security clearances, and so perhaps capable of accessing Washington's war planning, are likely to think seriously about what this might mean. (It would be hell on a career, and there’s no money in it anyway.)

On the other hand, after nine years of grim experimentation, we do know what has happened and is happening in the world’s second most corrupt, fifth poorest country. If you’ve been following the Afghan War story, even in the most cursory manner, you could already write the next news report on Afghanistan’s hapless American-trained police and its no less hapless American-trained army, the next set of civilian casualties, the next poppy harvest, the fate of the next round of counterinsurgency plans, and so on. These are, as our previous Secretary of Defense used to say, the “known knowns” of the situation and, unfortunately, the only subjects Washington is comfortable exploring further. No matter that the known road, the well-worn one, is the assured road to nowhere.

No serious thought, money, or effort goes into imagining how to unbuild the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan or how to voluntarily leave that country. In a terrible moment in the Vietnam War, Vermont Senator George Aiken suggested that the U.S. just declare victory and get out. But that sort of thing was, and remains, beyond Washington’s normal imagination; and what Washington can’t imagine, it assumes no one else should.

The American peace movement, such as it is, shouldn’t wait for President Obama. It should convene its own blue-ribbon commission and put some effort into planning how to get out of Afghanistan voluntarily -- and, having already done much harm, how to leave in the least harmful and quickest way possible. It’s true that we don’t know what would happen afterwards: Would the Taliban (or its various groupings) take over part or all of the country, or would they leap for each others’ throats once a unifying opposition to foreign invaders disappeared (as happened in Afghanistan in the early 1990s)? Or, for that matter, might something quite unexpected and unpredictable happen ?

The future is, by definition, an unknown unknown, and Washington, whatever its pretenses to control that future, has a terrible record when it comes to predicting it. Who knows how long it would take the Afghan people to deal with the Taliban without us, given the woeful inability of such a crew -- second only to Afghan President Hamid Karzai's -- to govern the country effectively (or less than brutally).

2. What if a blue-ribbon commission appointed by the president surveyed the 17 intelligence agencies and organizations that make up the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), the 263 intelligence task forces and other new intelligence groupings that have come into being since September 11, 2001, alone, the labyrinthine “community” that is drowning in 50,000 or more “intelligence” reports a year, and decided that we had 16 too many of them? The last time such a commission met, after the 9/11 attacks, the result was that the seventeenth member of the IC was added to the roster, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, which, while proving remarkably ineffective by all accounts, has become a little bureaucracy of its own with about 1,500 employees.

What if such a panel were then to consider the obvious: that 17 competing intelligence agencies are a sign of madness when it comes to producing usable “intelligence”; that, while capable of being intrusive and oppressive, eating up more than $75 billion annually, contributing to a national atmosphere of fear, and throwing a penumbra of secrecy over the nation, they are incapable of doing their job. What if it were to suggest that we need only one, or for competitive purposes, at most two such agencies, and that they should be geared to assessing the world and providing actual “intelligence” to the president and Congress, not to changing it by subverting foreign governments, assassinating foreign leaders or assorted terrorists, kidnapping citizens from the streets of global cities, and the like? What if Congress agreed? Would we be better off? Is there really safety in a bloated intelligence bureaucracy and the dollars it eats, in all those satellites and all that surveillance, in a maturing culture of all-enveloping secrecy that is now a signature aspect of our way of life?

3. What if the president and Congress agreed to get rid of all secret armies, including the CIA, which Chalmers Johnson once dubbed the president’s “private army,” and the military’s secret military, its special operations forces, 13,000 of whom are now on duty in 75 countries? What if, in addition, we were to demobilize the tens of thousands of armed private contractors and assorted rent-a-guns the Pentagon and the State Department have taken on to supplement their strength?

4. What if the president and Congress really went after the Pentagon budget, projected to top $700 billion next year, including war-fighting costs (and that’s without all the long-term costs of our military even added in)? Right now, proposed Pentagon budget “cuts” fill the headlines and yet represent nothing more than a reshuffling of military money in the midst of ongoing increases in defense spending. What if, instead, we actually cut that budget not by 25%, but in half or more, and used that money to promote our long-term safety through the creation of new jobs to work on the country’s aging infrastructure? That would still leave us putting more money into our military than any other nation on Earth.

What if, in addition, we stopped pouring money into planning breakthrough generations of weapons for 2025 and beyond? What if, while we’re at it, we decided to toss out the post-World War II definition of our mission as “national security,” a phrase which helped pave the way for the full-scale garrisoning of the globe and the repeated dispatching of US forces to the far reaches of the planet, and went back to the idea of “national defense.” What if, in the same spirit, the Pentagon once again became an actual department of defense?

5. What if the Department of Homeland Security were abolished (and along with it, that un-American post-9/11 word “homeland” were banished from the language)? What if its pre-2002 constituent parts were reassigned to non-national security duties and the rest of it to the trashbin of history, ensuring that we no longer had two defense departments?

In Washington’s world, each of these what-ifs is, by definition, an absurdity, the sort of thing that only a utopian peacenik with his head in the sand could conjure up. And however badly our world seems to go, however misplaced our priorities and our moneys seem to be, Washington looks like it has all the facts and those who might raise such questions none, because no one ever seriously explores such ideas, no less tests them out (even in more modest ways).

As a result, they exist not in the realm of policy, but in the realm of fiction, and comments on the strangeness of those five-legged cows floating through distant clouds near Hellfire-armed Predator drones are left to marginal characters like me. What, after all, would we do without our national security wars, our ever-burgeoning intelligence bureaucracy, our secret armies, our advanced weaponry, a Pentagon the size of James’s giant peach, and a special department to protect our “homeland” security (accompanied by its own mini-homeland-security-industrial complex and attendant lobbyists)? How would we know what was coming at us next? How could we be safe?

Right now, as a nation, we find it remarkably difficult to imagine ourselves as anything but what we now believe ourselves to be -- and Washington counts on that. We find it almost impossible to imagine ourselves as just another nation (even perhaps, a more modest and better one), making our way on this disturbed planet of ours as best we can. We can’t imagine ourselves “safe” without being dominant, or being dominant without killing others in distant lands in significant numbers to ensure that safety; nor can we imagine ourselves dominant without that full panoply of secret armies, global garrisons, overlapping spy agencies, fear manias, and all the money that goes with them, despite the abundant evidence that this can’t be safety, either for us or for the planet.

We no longer know what a policy of cautious peace might look like, not having put a cent into envisioning such a project. War and an aggressive global national security state (and the language that goes with it) are all Washington knows and all it cares to know. It is completely invested in the world it now so shakily oversees, and cares for no other.

Worlds end, of course, and they regularly end so much uglier when no one plans for the unexpected. Maybe one of these days, what-if fever will spread in this country and, miraculously, we’ll actually get change we can finally believe in.

-- Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's His latest book, The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books), has just been published. You can catch him discussing it on a TomCast video by clicking here.

-- Middle East Online


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 19, 2010, 08:22:07 am
Civilian Control? Surely, You Jest.

by Andrew J. Bacevich

Visit page for links!


The principle of civilian control forms the foundation of the American system of civil-military relations, offering assurance that the nation’s very powerful armed forces and its very influential officer corps pose no danger to our democracy. That’s the theory at least, the one that gets printed in civics books and peddled to the plain folk out in Peoria.   

Reality turns out to be considerably more complicated. In practice, civilian control—expectations that the brass, having rendered advice, will then loyally execute whatever decision the commander-in-chief makes—is at best a useful fiction.

In front of the curtain, the generals and admirals defer; behind the curtain, on all but the smallest of issues, the military’s collective leadership pursue their own agenda informed by their own convictions of what is good for the country and, by extension, for the institutions over which they preside. In this regard, the Pentagon’s behavior does not differ from that of automakers, labor unions, the movie business, environmental groups, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Israel lobby, or the NAACP.

In Washington, only one decision is considered really final—and that’s the one that goes your way. Senior military officers understand these rules and play by them. When the president or secretary of defense acts in ways not to their liking—killing some sought-after weapons program, for example—they treat that decision as subject to review and revision.

To overturn or modify a policy they judge objectionable, military leaders forge alliances with like-minded members of Congress, for whom the national interest tends to coincide with whatever benefits their constituents. Senior officers also make their case by working the press, not infrequently by leaking material that will embarrass or handcuff their nominal superiors.

Sometimes, the military strikes preemptively, attempting to influence decisions not yet made. A classic example occurred in 1993: Led by General Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the senior uniformed leadership mounted a fierce and very effective campaign to prevent President Bill Clinton from acting on his announced intention to allow gays to serve openly in the military. Powell and his confreres prevailed. A humiliated Clinton beat a hasty retreat and, thereafter, took care not to court trouble with an officer corps that made little effort to conceal its lack of fondness for him.

A more recent example occurred just a year ago. With President Obama agonizing over what to do about Afghanistan, The Washington Post offered for general consumption the military’s preferred approach, the so-called McChrystal Plan. Devised by General Stanley McChrystal, who had been appointed by Obama to command allied forces in Afghanistan, the plan called for a surge of U.S. troops and the full-fledged application of counterinsurgency doctrine—an approach that necessarily implied a much longer and more costly war.

The effect of this leak, almost surely engineered by some still unidentified military officer, was to hijack the entire policy review process, circumscribing the choices available to the commander-in-chief. Rushing to the nearest available microphone, members of Congress (mostly Republicans) announced that it was Obama’s duty to give the field commander whatever he wanted. McChrystal himself made the point explicitly. During a speech in London, he categorically rejected the notion that any alternative to his strategy even existed: It was do it his way or lose the war. The role left to the president was not to decide, but simply to affirm.

The leaking of the McChrystal Plan constituted a direct assault on civilian control. At the time, however, that fact passed all but unnoticed. Few of those today raising a hue-and-cry about PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeak-er, bothered to protest. The documents that Manning allegedly made public are said to endanger the lives of American troops and their Afghan comrades. Yet, a year ago, no one complained about the McChrystal leaker providing Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leadership with a detailed blueprint of exactly how the United States and its allies were going to prosecute their war.

The absence of any serious complaint reflected the fact that, in Washington—especially in the press corps—military leaks aimed at subverting or circumscribing civilian authority are accepted as standard fare. It’s part of the way Washington works.

Which brings us to the present and to what is stacking up to be an episode likely to reveal a great deal about how much or how little actual civilian control currently exists. In adopting the McChrystal Plan, Obama added this caveat: U. S. troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan by July 2011. Before the president or anyone in his administration had explained exactly what that July 2011 deadline signifies, General McChrystal departed the scene, having violated the dictum that calls on senior officers to sustain, in public at least, the pretense of respecting civilians.

To replace McChrystal—and to forestall the growing impression that things in Afghanistan are falling apart—Obama appointed General David Petraeus, an officer possessing in abundance the finesse and political savvy that McChrystal lacks. Having now sacked two successive commanders in Afghanistan, Obama can hardly afford to fire a third, least of all someone of Petraeus’s exalted stature. It would be akin to benching Tom Brady or trading Derek Jeter. You might be able to pull it off, but not without paying a very severe price. You might even find yourself out of a job.

Within the past week, complaints dribbling out of Petraeus’s headquarters in Kabul—duly reported by an accommodating press—indicate growing military unhappiness with the July 2011 pullout date. Now, Petraeus himself has begun to weigh in directly. This past weekend, he launched his own media campaign, offering his “narrative” of ongoing events. Unlike the ham-handed McChrystal, who chose a foreign capital as his soapbox, Petraeus sat for a carefully orchestrated series of interviews with The New York Times, The Washington Post, and NBC’s “Meet the Press,” each of which gratefully passed along the general’s view of things.

In the course of sitting for these interviews, Petraeus placed down a marker, one best captured by the headline in the Times dispatch: “Petraeus Opposes a Rapid Pullout in Afghanistan.” Or, as The Daily Beast put it, adding a twist of hyperbole, Petraeus told “David Gregory that he has the right to delay Obama's 2011 pull-out target for troops in Afghanistan." A bit over the top, but you get the drift.

Dexter Filkins of the Times interpreted Petraeus’s comments as “a preview of what promise to be an intense political battle over the future of the American-led war in Afghanistan.” The operative word in that statement is “political,” with the stakes potentially including not only the ongoing war, but an upcoming presidential election.

At the center of that battle will be a very political general, skilled at using the press and with friends aplenty on Capitol Hill, especially among Republicans. To have a chance of winning reelection in 2012, Obama needs to demonstrate progress in shutting down the war. Yet it is now becoming increasingly apparent the general Obama has placed in charge of that war entertains a different view.

One, but not both, will have his way. Between now and July 2011, when it comes to civilian control, even the folks in Peoria will have a chance to learn what the civics books leave out.

Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor of international relations at Boston University and author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War.

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 19, 2010, 08:47:23 am
Taliban unity call:
Afghans should heal rifts with each other to defend their country against occupation forces

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

August 18, 2010

Afghans have, throughout their history, lived in brotherhood and exhibited intense integrity, solidarity and unity as a single nation under the name Afghanistan. The people in Afghanistan, whether Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Hazarah, Baluch or Nooistani, have always joined common causes in safeguarding their common interests, standing up for their rights and have jointly resisted every invading force to defend their country against the enemy and played a central role in independence, development and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.

In view of the Russians’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, all the ethnic groups collectively lay down their lives for the freedom of our country and played a key role to present a united front in chasing the Russians away from Afghanistan.

The US invasion of Afghanistan threatened the unity and integrity of the Afghans as a single nation, sowing the seeds of disunity among the Afghan masses that ended up turning one Afghan against another. Regrettably, the recent Fitnah (evil) created by the US, among a lot of misfortune, misery and evils, is the chaotic upheaval of (Kochi and Hazarah) between two ethnic groups.

Some of the country’s parts have been affected by this Fitnah ( Kochi and Hazarah) or US-created evil, if not stopped now, may rapidly spread across the country.

However, the differences between two ethnic groups are not so profound that cannot be composed.

It is a commonly recognized fact that Afghanistan is under the clutches the Super Evil’s tyranny, the bottom line is, the Afghans should sow the seeds of integrity, solidarity and brotherhood to heal the rifts with each other in order to get the freedom of our beloved country which is destined to be free from the occupation of invading forces and get our home grown differences and disputes resolved in the light Islamic Sharia and Afghan tradition and values.

One can find the exemplary list of cases settled during the period of the rule of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: Dok on August 22, 2010, 12:38:50 pm
Military Deaths in Afghanistan under Obama Top Those under Bush

In less than two years, the United States has suffered more combat deaths in Afghanistan under President Barack Obama than it did during the two-term presidency of George W. Bush. The latest casualty figures show 577 American soldiers have died in the war from January 20, 2009, the date of Obama’s inauguration, until now. The U.S. suffered 575 deaths from October 2001 to January 19, 2009, according to figures computed by Robert Naiman, of Just Foreign Policy from figures provided by Three U.S. deaths on August 17 put the Obama total ahead of the Bush total. The names of the three have not yet been released, pending notification of next of kin.

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 24, 2010, 06:45:18 am
Published on Monday, August 23, 2010 by

Islamo-Gangsterism: In a Deteriorating Afghanistan, a New Breed of Terror

by Ted Rall

KABUL -- "In squads of roaring dirt bikes and armed to the teeth," Joshua Partlow reports in The Washington Post, "Taliban fighters are spreading like a brush fire into remote and defenseless villages across northern Afghanistan."

Two other cartoonists and I were a day away from heading to Faryab--a remote, rural, Uzbek-dominated province in the northwest known for its brutally entertaining matches of buzkashi--when Partlow's piece appeared. He described a phenomenon that deploys novel tactics out of a bizarre 1970s action flick.

It was years after the 2001 U.S. invasion before the Afghan national police began to take control of the country's major highways. Now there are government-run gun nests every few kilometers.

Insurgents have responded to government control of the highways by basing themselves in rugged villages far away from the freshly-paved asphalt. Riding Pamir motorcycles supplied by Pakistani intelligence--thus paid for by American taxpayers--Taliban bike gangs swoop across the desert, taking one village after another.

"They move constantly on unmarked dirt roads outside the cities to ambush Afghan police and soldiers and to kidnap residents. They execute those affiliated with the government and shut down reconstruction projects," wrote Partlow.

They now control every district in Faryab province, a vast region that borders Turkmenistan. But Afghan sources across the country say their reach is far broader. Talibikers control the center of the country in a north-south axis that begins with Faryab and Baghlis and runs all the way down to Helmand and Nimruz.

Their checkpoints and raids along the three main east-west traffic arteries have effectively bifurcated the country. Whether it's government officials, members of NGOs or the media, you have to fly if you want to get from Kabul to Herat or vice versa.

Partlow's article, and his personal feedback, prompted us to cancel our plan to travel to Herat via Faryab. We left Mazar-i-Sharif for Kabul. Now we're looking for a driver willing to take us via the Central Route to Herat: a scenic, bucolic, previously calm stretch of unpaved road that begins at Bamiyan, site of the ruined Buddha statues, and runs west via Ghor province. So far, no luck.

"I wouldn't take you there for $10,000," is a typical response. "Why do you want to die?" runs second.

The average Afghan earns $40 a month.

South of Mazar we noticed our driver nervously scanning the desert. Several recently charred trucks testified to the presence of the Taliban. "The Taliban," our driver said, "here they come on motorcycles."

I asked: Even during the day?

"Even during the day," he confirmed.

Like "Mad Max."

What's really worrisome is the behavior of these self-described Talibs. Like the Taliban regime that ran Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, they enforce an extreme form of Sharia law. In village after village, they have been stoning people accused of adultery and shooting those accused of working for the Karzai puppet regime. But the similarity stops there.

The first-gen Taliban led by Mullah Omar practiced what they preached. They were scrupulously honest. Living ascetic lives, they didn't tolerate corruption or dishonesty among their own ranks.

The so-called neo-Taliban were the second generation: the madrassa kids, many of them orphans, who grew up in the refugee camps in Pakistan during the war. Less worldly and completely uneducated, this coarse bunch came to dominate the anti-U.S. resistance from 2003 to 2009.

Here comes Taliban Mark 3: the Taliban biker gangs from hell. They're still radical Islamists. But they're also gangsters, brazen thieves who have adopted the thuggish behavior of the warlord class during the so-called "mujahedeen nights" of the early 1990s.

These aren't your father's Taliban. They don't follow the rules: certainly not the Koran.

Like the "moojs," Talibikers set up checkpoints and ambush points to catch motorists. They're yanked out of their cars, robbed at gunpoint, and sent on their way--if the victims are lucky. Many have been shot to death.

"Taliban" and "bandit"--once mutually exclusive, even opposite terms--are now used interchangeably.

Everyone expects the Taliban to control most, if not all, of Afghanistan by next year. Whether it happens then or it takes longer the question is, which Taliban? As the U.S. presence wanes and influence of the Karzai regime fades even further, I foresee a clash, perhaps even a civil war, between the "real Taliban" (sales pitch: we're tough but honest) and these self-branded Talib-cum-robbers (motto: shut up and pay up).

In the meantime, this new breed of fanatically religious desperadoes goes to prove something Afghans have always known. As bad as things seem, they can always get worse.

Copyright 2010 Ted Rall, Distributed by Universal Uclick/Ted Rall
Ted Rall is in Afghanistan to cover the war and research a book. He is the author of "The Anti-American Manifesto," which will be published in September by Seven Stories Press. His website is [1].


Article printed from

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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 27, 2010, 06:41:43 am
We will stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 says Australian Chief of Defence

by Ian McPhedran

August 26, 2010

AUSTRALIAN troops will stay in Afghanistan well beyond the 2014 deadline set by the Government, the nation's top military commander says.

Chief of Defence Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said Diggers would remain in Oruzgan Province after the two to four-year mission to train local Afghan security forces had expired.

"We will still be there supporting them beyond the two to four years, for a period of time," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

He refused to be drawn on whether it was helpful for politicians to announce possible exit dates, after a US Marine Corps General criticised the US Administration for its plan to begin withdrawing forces next July.

"The coalition will continue to fight very, very hard for a long time to come, certainly beyond 2011 and certainly well into the future," said Air Chief Marshal Houston.

The military is waiting for guidance from a new federal government with the Abbott-led coalition already committed to a possible increase in troop numbers.

Greens leader Bob Brown has demanded that the troops be brought home immediately and he has won support from all sides for a fresh debate on the war.

The defence chief's comments yesterday came as a Melbourne mum told how her soldier son - a comrade of four Diggers killed in Afghanistan in recent weeks - tells her from the front line that morale remains strong in his regiment.

The soldiers of 6RAR, who along with special operations troops are the sharp end of Australia's force in Afghanistan, are paying a bloody price in the campaign against terrorism with four killed in the past few weeks and more than 20 wounded since February.

"(He) said last night morale is quite high among the troops, which I thought was good because they've lost quite a few. They are getting on with their job," said the mother, whom the Herald Sun will not identify.

She added: "We are quite stressed about it, but we are very proud.

"He and his colleagues all believe they are doing some good, they are the ones out among the children, the villages and the families who are thanking them," she said.

Five days ago, Privates Grant Kirby, 35, and Tomas Dale, 21 - part of 6RAR's mentoring and reconstruction taskforce - were killed and two mates wounded when a bomb exploded near their patrol vehicle.

On the same day two comrades were seriously wounded in a separate incident. Pte Nathan Bewes, 6RAR, was killed by a bomb on July 9.

On Tuesday, Lance-Cpl Jared MacKinney, 28, became the latest casualty when he was killed in action, leaving a wife, daughter and an unborn son.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 27, 2010, 06:45:29 am
Fears Taliban expanding in Afghan north, west


August 26, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — Eight Afghan police gunned down at a checkpoint. Campaign workers kidnapped. Spanish trainers shot dead on their base.

A spurt of violence this week in provinces far from the Taliban's main southern strongholds suggests the insurgency is spreading, even as the top U.S. commander insists the coalition has reversed the militants' momentum in key areas of the ethnic Pashtun south where the Islamist movement was born.

Attacks in the north and west of the country — though not militarily significant — demonstrate that the Taliban are becoming a threat across wide areas of Afghanistan even as the United States and its partners mount a major effort to turn the tide of the nearly 9-year-old war in the south.

The latest example occurred Thursday when about a dozen gunmen stormed a police checkpoint at the entrance to the city of Kunduz, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Eight policemen were killed, provincial police chief Abdul Raziq Yaqoubi said.

Also Thursday, a candidate in next month's parliamentary elections said 10 of her campaign workers were kidnapped while traveling in the northwestern province of Herat, 450 miles (725 kilometers) west of the capital.

The candidate, Fawzya Galani, said villagers told her armed men had stopped the group Wednesday and drove them off in their two vehicles.

Those incidents followed Wednesday's fatal shooting of three Spaniards — two police trainers and an interpreter — at a training base in Badghis province about 230 miles (370 kilometers) northwest of Kabul.

The shooter, who was also killed, was a police driver who local officials said was a brother-in-law of a local Taliban commander.

Earlier this month, 10 members of the Christian medical team — six Americans, two Afghans, one German and a Briton — were gunned down in Badakhshan, a northern province that had seen little insurgent activity. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

In an interview aired Monday by the British Broadcasting Corp., top U.S. and NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus said NATO forces had reversed the momentum which the Taliban gained in recent years in the southern provinces of Helmand and Kandahar and in the Kabul area. He said coalition forces would regain momentum in other areas later although tough fighting lies ahead.

Taliban influence in the north and west is not as pervasive as in the south, the insurgency has been slowly expanding its presence in areas such as Kunduz, Faryab and Baghlan since 2007, mostly among Pashtuns who are a minority in the north.

A member of parliament from Herat said security in the province could be worse but it's not ideal, especially in remote villages far from the provincial capital.

"There are a lot of reasons — political reasons, factional reasons, tribal reasons — so together the situation is not so good," the lawmaker, Ali Ahmad Jebraili, said. "I hope the government puts professional and proper security measures in place to search vehicles and people for attackers and bombers. When we travel to remote areas, we have to be careful."

In establishing a northern foothold, Afghan authorities believe the Taliban use veterans from southern battlefields to help organize local groups, sometimes with help from the al-Qaida-linked Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which provides recruits from among the Uzbek minority.

"The situation is very bad and dangerous in Kunduz but unfortunately the security officials keep saying things are alright." said Mabubullah Mabub, chairman of the Kunduz provincial council. "Over the last two years, the situation has been getting worse."

A study published last spring by the Afghan Analyst Network, an independent policy research organization, said that expanding into the north and west strengthens the Taliban claim to be a legitimate national government fighting on behalf of the Afghan people and not simply the Pashtun community.

It also enables the Taliban to threaten NATO supply lines coming south from Central Asia. Those routes were established to reduce reliance on supply lines from Pakistan which come under attack from fighters on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.

"Furthermore, there is no doubt that the psychological impact of the north's destabilization upon Western Europe and the U.S. would be considerable, overstretching resources as well as reducing the recruitment pool of Afghan army and police by enabling the Taliban to intimidate the families of volunteers," the study said.

The psychological impact was evident in the reaction in Spain to the killing of the two trainers and the interpreter, a Spanish citizen of Iranian origin.

The leader of the small but important Catalan party — Convergence and Union — complained that Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has avoided appearing in parliament as promised to hold a full-blown debate on the Spanish mission and must do so now.

The smaller United Left party called on Zapatero to bring Spain's troops home, saying the NATO effort to defeat the Taliban and stabilize the country had achieved nothing.

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo published a cartoon Thursday showing President Barack Obama and Zapatero standing chest-deep in a pool of quicksand labeled Afghanistan. Obama tells Zapatero: "It's best to sit still, because if you move you sink even more."

Also Thursday, NATO reported that three Afghan civilians were killed the day before by a homemade bomb in Kandahar's Arghandab district, a Taliban stronghold near Kandahar city.

Two Taliban commanders were among a dozen militants killed Wednesday in fighting with a joint Afghan-coalition force in Uruzgan province, the Afghan National Police reported. Four insurgents were captured in the operation, the police said.

Associated Press Writers Daniel Woolls in Madrid, Mirwais Khan in Kandahar, Amir Shah and Christopher Bodeen in Kabul contributed to this report.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 28, 2010, 07:59:52 am
Taliban attack US bases in Afghanistan

Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:57AM

An aerial view of the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman in Khost Province

Two US-run bases in eastern Afghanistan have been attacked by Taliban militants, Afghan officials say.

Afghan officials said that at least 11 Taliban members were killed after the militants launched overnight attacks on the US-run sites, named the Forward Operating Base Salerno and nearby Camp Chapman, in Khost Province near the southeastern border with Pakistan, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Meanwhile, Taliban militants claim they have killed several US soldiers during the attack.

"Already 18 American troops were killed and a US helicopter as well as an Afghan police vehicle were damaged" during the attack, claimed Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman.

"There is ongoing activity there, but it is fresh and I can't give more details," Lieutenant Commander Katie Kendrick told Reuters on Saturday.

The attack began overnight at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Chapman in Khost Province near the southeastern border with Pakistan.

The report says more than 30 Taliban militants attacked the base.

Local police chief, Adbul Hakim Is'haqzai, also told AFP that the militants had first raided the military base before retreating to occupy a secondary school in Khost city.

In December, seven CIA agents were killed after Taliban militants targeted FOB Chapman.

The attack was the worst attack on US intelligence officials since 1983 when the US embassy in Beirut was bombed.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 30, 2010, 06:18:01 am
The Secret Killers: Covert Assassins Charged With Hunting Down and Killing Afghans

Capture/kill teams leave a trail of dead civilian bodies and recrimination in their wake, undermining any goodwill created by U.S. reconstruction projects.

By Pratap Chatterjee,
Posted on August 29, 2010, Printed on August 30, 2010

A US soldier belonging to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) patrols Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. Thirteen NATO soldiers have been killed in two days in Afghanistan, one of the deadliest bouts for the alliance this year that underlines a growing Taliban momentum in defiance of calls for peace talks. Photo Credit: AFP - Shah Marai

"Find, fix, finish, and follow-up" is the way the Pentagon describes the mission of secret military teams in Afghanistan which have been given a mandate to pursue alleged members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda wherever they may be found. Some call these “manhunting” operations and the units assigned to them “capture/kill” teams.

Whatever terminology you choose, the details of dozens of their specific operations -- and how they regularly went badly wrong -- have been revealed for the first time in the mass of secret U.S. military and intelligence documents published by the website Wikileaks in July to a storm of news coverage and official protest.  Representing a form of U.S. covert warfare now on the rise, these teams regularly make more enemies than friends and undermine any goodwill created by U.S. reconstruction projects.

When Danny Hall and Gordon Phillips, the civilian and military directors of the U.S. provincial reconstruction team in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, arrived for a meeting with Gul Agha Sherzai, the local governor, in mid-June 2007, they knew that they had a lot of apologizing to do. Philips had to explain why a covert U.S. military “capture/kill” team named Task Force 373, hunting for Qari Ur-Rahman, an alleged Taliban commander given the code-name “Carbon,” had called in an AC-130 Spectre gunship and inadvertently killed seven Afghan police officers in the middle of the night.

The incident vividly demonstrated the inherent clash between two doctrines in the U.S. war in Afghanistan -- counterinsurgency (“protecting the people”) and counterterrorism (killing terrorists). Although the Obama administration has given lip service to the former, the latter has been, and continues to be, the driving force in its war in Afghanistan.

For Hall, a Foreign Service officer who was less than two months away from a plush assignment in London, working with the military had already proven more difficult than he expected. In an article for Foreign Service Journal published a couple of months before the meeting, he wrote, “I felt like I never really knew what was going on, where I was supposed to be, what my role was, or if I even had one. In particular, I didn't speak either language that I needed: Pashtu or military.”

It had been no less awkward for Phillips. Just a month earlier, he had personally handed over “solatia” payments -- condolence payments for civilian deaths wrongfully caused by U.S. forces -- in Governor Sherzai's presence, while condemning the act of a Taliban suicide bomber who had killed 19 civilians, setting off the incident in question. “We come here as your guests,” he told the relatives of those killed, “invited to aid in the reconstruction and improved security and governance of Nangarhar, to bring you a better life and a brighter future for you and your children.  Today, as I look upon the victims and their families, I join you in mourning for your loved ones.”

Hall and Phillips were in charge of a portfolio of 33 active U.S. reconstruction projects worth $11 million in Nangarhar, focused on road-building, school supplies, and an agricultural program aimed at exporting fruits and vegetables from the province.

Yet the mission of their military-led “provincial reconstruction team” (made up of civilian experts, State department officials, and soldiers) appeared to be in direct conflict with those of the “capture/kill” team of special operations forces (Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Green Berets, together with operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency's Special Activities Division) whose mandate was to pursue Afghans alleged to be terrorists as well as insurgent leaders.  That team was leaving a trail of dead civilian bodies and recrimination in its wake.

Details of some of the missions of Task Force 373 first became public as a result of more than 76,000 incident reports leaked to the public by Wikileaks, a whistleblower website, together with analyses of those documents in Der Spiegel, the Guardian, and the New York Times. A full accounting of the depredations of the task force may be some time in coming, however, as the Obama administration refuses to comment on its ongoing assassination spree in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A short history of the unit can nonetheless be gleaned from a careful reading of the Wikileaks documents as well as related reports from Afghanistan and unclassified Special Forces reports.

The Wikileaks data suggests that as many as 2,058 people on a secret hit list called the “Joint Prioritized Effects List” (JPEL) were considered “capture/kill” targets in Afghanistan. A total of 757 prisoners -- most likely from this list -- were being held at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility (BTIF), a U.S.-run prison on Bagram Air Base as of the end of December 2009.

Capture/Kill Operations

The idea of “joint” teams from different branches of the military working collaboratively with the CIA was first conceived in 1980 after the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw, when personnel from the Air Force, Army, and Navy engaged in a disastrously botched, seat-of-the-pants attempt to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran with help from the Agency. Eight soldiers were killed when a helicopter crashed into a C-130 aircraft in the Iranian desert.  Afterwards, a high-level, six-member commission led by Admiral James L. Holloway, III recommended the creation of a Joint Special Forces command to ensure that different branches of the military and the CIA should do far more advance coordination planning in the future.

This process accelerated greatly after September 11, 2001.  That month, a CIA team called Jawbreaker headed for Afghanistan to plan a U.S.-led invasion of the country. Shortly thereafter, an Army Green Beret team set up Task Force Dagger to pursue the same mission. Despite an initial rivalry between the commanders of the two groups, they eventually teamed up.

The first covert “joint” team involving the CIA and various military special operations forces to work together in Afghanistan was Task Force 5, charged with the mission of capturing or killing "high value targets" like Osama bin Laden, senior leaders of al-Qaeda, and Mullah Mohammed Omar, the head of the Taliban. A sister organization set up in Iraq was called Task Force 20. The two were eventually combined into Task Force 121 by General John Abizaid, the head of the U.S. Central Command.

In a new book to be released this month, Operation Darkheart, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer describes the work of Task Force 121 in 2003, when he was serving as part of a team dubbed the Jedi Knights.  Working under the alias of Major Christopher Stryker, he ran operations for the Defense Intelligence Agency (the military equivalent of the CIA) out of Bagram Air Base.

One October night, Shaffer was dropped into a village near Asadabad in Kunar province by an MH-47 Chinook helicopter to lead a “joint” team, including Army Rangers (a Special Forces division) and 10th Mountain Division troops.  They were on a mission to capture a lieutenant of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious warlord allied with the Taliban, based on information provided by the CIA.

It wasn't easy. “They succeeded in striking at the core of the Taliban and their safe havens across the border in Pakistan. For a moment Shaffer saw us winning the war,” reads the promotional material for the book. “Then the military brass got involved. The policies that top officials relied on were hopelessly flawed. Shaffer and his team were forced to sit and watch as the insurgency grew -- just across the border in Pakistan.”

Almost a quarter century after Operation Eagle Claw, Shaffer, who was part of the Able Danger team that had pursued Al Qaeda in the 1990s, describes the bitter turf wars between the CIA and Special Forces teams over how the shadowy world of secret assassinations in Afghanistan and Pakistan should be run.

Task Force 373

Fast forward to 2007, the first time Task Force 373 is mentioned in the Wikileaks documents. We don’t know whether its number means anything, but coincidentally or not, chapter 373 of the U.S. Code 10, the act of Congress that sets out what the U.S. military is legally allowed to do, permits the Secretary of Defense to empower any “civilian employee” of the military “to execute warrants and make arrests without a warrant” in criminal matters. Whether or not this is indeed the basis for that “373” remains a classified matter -- as indeed, until the Wikileaks document dump occurred, was the very existence of the group.

Analysts say that Task Force 373 complements Task Force 121 by using “white forces” like the Rangers and the Green Berets, as opposed to the more secretive Delta Force. Task Force 373 is supposedly run out of three military bases -- in Kabul, the Afghan capital; Kandahar, the country’s second largest city; and Khost City near the Pakistani tribal lands.  It’s possible that some of its operations also come out of Camp Marmal, a German base in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Sources familiar with the program say that the task force has its own helicopters and aircraft, notably AC-130 Spectre gunships, dedicated only to its use.

Its commander appears to have been Brigadier General Raymond Palumbo, based out of the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Palumbo, however, left Fort Bragg in mid-July, shortly after General Stanley McChrystal was relieved as Afghan war commander by President Obama. The name of the new commander of the task force is not known.

In more than 100 incident reports in the Wikileaks files, Task Force 373 is described as leading numerous “capture/kill” efforts, notably in Khost, Paktika, and Nangarhar provinces, all bordering the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of northern Pakistan. Some reportedly resulted in successful captures, while others led to the death of local police officers or even small children, causing angry villagers to protest and attack U.S.-led military forces.

In April 2007, David Adams, commander of the Khost provincial reconstruction team, was called to meet with elders from the village of Gurbuz in Khost province, who were angry about Task Force 373's operations in their community. The incident report on Wikileaks does not indicate just what Task Force 373 did to upset Gurbuz’s elders, but the governor of Khost, Arsala Jamal, had been publicly complaining about Special Forces operations and civilian deaths in his province since December 2006, when five civilians were killed in a raid on Darnami village.

"This is our land,” he said then. “I've been asking with greater force: Let us sit together, we know our Afghan brothers, we know our culture better. With these operations we should not create more enemies. We are in a position to reduce mistakes."

As Adams would later recall in an op-ed he co-authored for the Wall Street Journal, “The increasing number of raids on Afghan homes alienated many of Khost's tribal elders.”

On June 12, 2007, Danny Hall and Gordon Philips, working in Nangarhar province just northeast of Khost, were called into that meeting with Governor Sherzai to explain how Task Force 373 had killed those seven local Afghan police officers.  Like Jamal, Sherzai made the point to Hall and Philips that “he strongly encourages better coordination… and he further emphasized that he does not want to see this happen again.”

Less than a week later, a Task Force 373 team fired five rockets at a compound in Nangar Khel in Paktika province to the south of Khost, in an attempt to kill Abu Laith al-Libi, an alleged al-Qaeda member from Libya. When the U.S. forces made it to the village, they found that Task Force 373 had destroyed a madrassa (or Islamic school), killing six children and grievously wounding a seventh who, despite the efforts of a U.S. medical team, would soon die. (In late January 2008, al-Libi was reported killed by a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone strike in a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan in Pakistan.)

Paktika Governor Akram Khapalwak met with the U.S. military the day after the raid. Unlike his counterparts in Khost and Nangarhar, Khapalwak agreed to support the “talking points” developed for Task Force 373 to explain the incident to the media. According to the Wikileaks incident report, the governor then “echoed the tragedy of children being killed, but stressed this could've been prevented had the people exposed the presence of insurgents in the area.”

However, no military talking points, no matter in whose mouth, could stop the civilian deaths as long as Task Force 373’s raids continued.

On October 4, 2007, its members called in an air strike -- 500 pound Paveway bombs -- on a house in the village of Laswanday, just six miles from Nangar Khel in Paktika province (where those seven children had already died). This time, four men, one woman, and a girl -- all civilians -- as well as a donkey, a dog, and several chickens would be slaughtered. A dozen U.S. soldiers were injured, but the soldiers reported that not one “enemy” was detained or killed.

The Missing Afghan Story

Not all raids resulted in civilian deaths.  The U.S. military incident reports released by Wikileaks suggest that Task Force 373 had better luck in capturing “targets” alive and avoiding civilian deaths on December 14, 2007. The 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) was asked that day to support Task Force 373 in a search in Paktika province for Bitonai and Nadr, two alleged al-Qaeda leaders listed on the JPEL. The operation took place just outside the town of Orgun, close to U.S. Forward Operating Base (FOB) Harriman. Located 7,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, it hosts about 300 soldiers as well as a small CIA compound, and is often visited by chattering military helicopters as well as sleepy camel herds belonging to local Pashtuns.

An airborne assault team code-named “Operation Spartan” descended on the compounds where Bitonai and Nadr were supposed to be living, but failed to find them. When a local Afghan informant told the Special Forces soldiers that the suspects were at a location about two miles away, Task Force 373 seized both men as well as 33 others who were detained at FOB Harriman for questioning and possible transfer to the prison at Bagram.

But when Task Force 373 was on the prowl, civilians were, it seems, always at risk, and while the Wikileaks documents reveal what the U.S soldiers were willing to report, the Afghan side of the story was often left in a ditch.  For example, on a Monday night in mid-November 2009, Task Force 373 conducted an operation to capture or kill an alleged militant code-named “Ballentine” in Ghazni province. A terse incident report announced that one Afghan woman and four “insurgents” had been killed. The next morning, Task Force White Eagle, a Polish unit under the command of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division, reported that some 80 people gathered to protest the killings. The window of an armored vehicle was damaged by the angry villagers, but the documents don’t offer us their version of the incident.

In an ironic twist, one of the last Task Force 373 incidents recorded in the Wikileaks documents was almost a reprise of the original Operation Eagle Claw disaster that led to the creation of the “joint” capture/kill teams. Just before sunrise on October 26, 2009, two U.S. helicopters, a UH-1 Huey and an AH-1 Cobra, collided near the town of Garmsir in the southern province of Helmand, killing four Marines.

Closely allied with Task Force 373 is a British unit, Task Force 42, composed of Special Air Service, Special Boat Service, and Special Reconnaissance Regiment commandos who operate in Helmand province and are mentioned in several Wikileaks incident reports.


“Capture/kill” is a key part of a new military “doctrine” developed by the Special Forces Command established after the failure of Operation Eagle Claw. Under the leadership of General Bryan D. Brown, who took over the Special Forces Command in September 2003, the doctrine came to be known as F4, which stood for "find, fix, finish, and follow-up" -- a slightly euphemistic but not hard to understand message about how alleged terrorists and insurgents were to be dealt with.

Under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the Bush years, Brown began setting up “joint Special Forces” teams to conduct F4 missions outside war zones.  These were given the anodyne name “Military Liaison Elements.” At least one killing by such a team in Paraguay (of an armed robber not on any targeting list) was written up by New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Thom Shanker. The team, whose presence had not been made known to the U.S. ambassador there, was ordered to leave the country.

“The number-one requirement is to defend the homeland. And so sometimes that requires that you find and capture or kill terrorist targets around the world that are trying to do harm to this nation,” Brown told the House Committee on Armed Services in March 2006. “Our foreign partners… are willing but incapable nations that want help in building their own capability to defend their borders and eliminate terrorism in their countries or in their regions.” In April 2007, President Bush rewarded Brown's planning by creating a special high-level office at the Pentagon for an assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities.

Michael G. Vickers, made famous in the book and film Charlie Wilson's War as the architect of the covert arms-and-money supply chain to the mujaheedin in the CIA’s anti-Soviet Afghan campaign of the 1980s, was nominated to fill the position. Under his leadership, a new directive was issued in December 2008 to "develop capabilities for extending U.S. reach into denied areas and uncertain environments by operating with and through indigenous foreign forces or by conducting low visibility operations."  In this way, the “capture/kill” program was institutionalized in Washington.

"The war on terror is fundamentally an indirect war… It's a war of partners… but it also is a bit of the war in the shadows, either because of political sensitivity or the problem of finding terrorists," Vickers told the Washington Post as 2007 ended. "That's why the Central Intelligence Agency is so important… and our Special Operations forces play a large role."

George W. Bush's departure from the White House did not dampen the enthusiasm for F4.  Quite the contrary: even though the F4 formula has recently been tinkered with, in typical military fashion, and has now become “find, fix, finish, exploit, and analyze,” or F3EA, President Obama has, by all accounts, expanded military intelligence gathering and “capture/kill” programs globally in tandem with an escalation of drone-strike operations by the CIA.

There are quite a few outspoken supporters of the “capture/kill” doctrine. Columbia University Professor Austin Long is one academic who has jumped on the F3EA bandwagon. Noting its similarity to the Phoenix assassination program, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the U.S. war in Vietnam (which he defends), he has called for a shrinking of the U.S. military “footprint” in Afghanistan to 13,000 Special Forces troops who would focus exclusively on counter-terrorism, particularly assassination operations. “Phoenix suggests that intelligence coordination and the integration of intelligence with an action arm can have a powerful effect on even extremely large and capable armed groups,” he and his co-author William Rosenau wrote in a July 2009 Rand Institute monograph entitled” “The Phoenix Program and Contemporary Counterinsurgency.”

Others are even more aggressively inclined. Lieutenant Colonel George Crawford, who retired from the position of “lead strategist” for the Special Forces Command to go work for Archimedes Global, Inc., a Washington consulting firm, has suggested that F3EA be replaced by one term: “Manhunting.” In a monograph published by the Joint Special Operations University in September 2009, “Manhunting: Counter-Network Organization for Irregular Warfare,” Crawford spells out “how to best address the responsibility to develop manhunting as a capability for American national security.”

Killing the Wrong People

The strange evolution of these concepts, the creation of ever more global hunter-killer teams whose purpose in life is assassination 24/7, and the civilians these “joint Special Forces” teams regularly kill in their raids on supposed “targets” have unsettled even military experts.

For example, Christopher Lamb, the acting director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, and Martin Cinnamond, a former U.N. official in Afghanistan, penned an article for the Spring 2010 issue of the Joint Forces Quarterly in which they wrote: “There is broad agreement… that the indirect approach to counterinsurgency should take precedence over kill/capture operations. However, the opposite has occurred.”

Other military types claim that the hunter-killer approach is short-sighted and counterproductive. “My take on Task Force 373 and other task forces, it has a purpose because it keeps the enemy off balance. But it does not understand the fundamental root cause of the conflict, of why people are supporting the Taliban,” says Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department contractor who resigned from the government last September. Hoh, who often worked with Task Force 373 as well as other Special Forces “capture/kill” programs in Afghanistan and Iraq, adds: “We are killing the wrong people, the mid-level Taliban who are only fighting us because we are in their valleys. If we were not there, they would not be fighting the U.S.”

Task Force 373 may be a nightmare for Afghans.  For the rest of us -- now that Wikileaks has flushed it into the open -- it should be seen as a symptom of deeper policy disasters.  After all, it raises a basic question: Is this country really going to become known as a global Manhunters, Inc.?

Pratap Chatterjee is managing editor of CorpWatch and the author of Halliburton's Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War (Nation Books, 2009).

© 2010 All rights reserved.
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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 30, 2010, 08:26:10 am
Taliban spokesman's suggestions concerning recent claims of Gen. Petraeus

by Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

The Islamic Emirate spokesman's suggestions concerning recent claims of Gen. Petraeus
August 29, 2010

Gen. Petraeus, the US and NATO invaders commander’s propaganda machine is going about its deceitful business in Afghanistan. His new organized propaganda, a war zone within the media is to spread disinformation, negative spin and propaganda against the Mujahideen and the current situation of the country, in the hopes of clouding the truth and keeping the public especially Afghan masses disillusioned about the ground realities.

Gen. Petraeus, in his interviews with the mainstream media outlets has reiterated over and over again that the invading forces have made considerable progress in the central and southern parts of the country over the past few months and that they have pushed the Mujahideen back, limiting the areas in which they were operating and reducing the number of Mujahideen operations.
The Islamic Emirate, in an attempt to provide the world with the awareness of the facts and figures and what the reality is, invites reporters to Afghanistan to survey the overall situation, particularly in those areas in which Gen. Petaeus has claimed to have made progress.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan guarantees the safety of the media personals and offers any help in this regard providing that the invaders may do the same. We believe it is a good opportunity to surface the facts, so the propaganda of Gen. Patraeus can be exposed, who is bent on tricking the world.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 31, 2010, 06:18:32 am
Published on Monday, August 30, 2010 by Al Jazeera's Empire

The US Between Two Wars


The US stands at a historic crossroads, redeploying its combat troops out of Iraq and surging them in Afghanistan. But are they really leaving Iraq - or just rebranding the occupation? Why is Iraqi Lieutenant General Zibari requesting a decade-long US military presence?    Meanwhile, in their other war, in Afghanistan, military escalation runs alongside political deterioration. Will Barack Obama's troop surge really offer any hope of winning in Afghanistan? Has the US realised that Western values cannot be forced through the barrel of a gun?

As the fiascos continue, surely Western governments should rethink war as a means of securing interests. And yet, war is being reinvented with the development of new deadly toys like the drone, allowing the privilege to fight freely and globally from the comfort of home base. Where will the US go next?    The US'  invasion and occupation of these two countries aimed to solidify its global leadership, and when it all started to go wrong, the election of Obama was meant to slow the US' decay and restore its credibility around the world. But two years into his presidency there have been no breakthroughs.

As the US licks its wounds, counts its losses, intensifies its secret wars and contemplates its next moves in the Muslim world, has its superpower status been eroded? Empire searches for the answers.


  Colonel Richard Kemp Former British commander in Afghanistan
  Christopher Dickey Middle East editor, Newsweek
  Alain Gresh Editor, Le Monde Diplomatique
  Seumas Milne Associate editor, The Guardian


© 2010


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 31, 2010, 07:57:38 am
South Asia
Sep 1, 2010 
Petraeus: Hook, line and sinker

By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON - In an effort to introduce a story of "progress" into media coverage, General David Petraeus' command claimed last week that the Taliban are suffering from reduced morale in Marjah and elsewhere, despite evidence that the population of Marjah still believes the Taliban control that district.

But the news media ignored the command's handout on the story, which did not quote Petraeus.

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) August 25 news release quoted German Brigadier General Josef Blotz, the ISAF spokesman, as citing intelligence reports of "low insurgent morale, which is affecting their capability across the country".

The release claimed that the Taliban commander in Marjah district, Mullah Niamat, "openly acknowledged to his fellow insurgents that the Taliban is losing Marjah and their chances of winning are poor."

The release cited "intelligence reports" as saying the Taliban leader's assessment was "based on battle losses" and "increased resentment of the insurgent methods by average Afghans".

In response to a request from Inter Press Service (IPS) for details that would substantiate the claim, however, ISAF was unwilling to do so.

The allegation about Marjah is contradicted by a report of a survey conducted by the London-based International Council on Security and Development (ICOS) showing that the population of Marjah still regarded the Taliban as being in control of the district five months after US troops began occupying it.

The ICOS report, is based on 522 interviews with men in Helmand and Kandahar provinces in July - 97 of which were in Marjah district. It shows that 88 of the 97 interviewed in Marjah believe the Taliban-controlled the district, whereas only nine perceive the government as being in control.

If the population of Marjah is "resentful" of Taliban tactics, moreover, they are evidently far more resentful of US tactics in the district. Asked whether the military operation by US-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in their area was "good or bad for the Afghan people", only one of the 97 people said it was good; the other 96 said it was bad.

The ICOS is an international policy think-tank focused on issues security, development, counter-narcotics and health.

In response to an IPS query about exactly what Mullah Niamat is alleged to have said, Lieutenant Colonel John Dorrian, an ISAF public affairs officer, declined to provide any further information about just what Niamat had actually said. He cited the need to protect "our counter-intelligence tactics and techniques".

Dorrian claimed there was other evidence, obtained from discussions with detainees, among other means, to support the claim of reduced Taliban morale. He declined, however, to provide any further details.

Even though the news media have thus far refrained from challenging any of Petraeus' claims of progress, not a single news outlet thus far has picked up the ISAF press release's claim of lower insurgent morale.

The alleged admission of incipient defeat by Mullah Niamat and the refusal to provide any direct quotes or other specifics recall another alleged statement by an adversary used by Petraeus' staff in Iraq to make a key political point.

On July 2, 2007, Petraeus' spokesman in Iraq, General Kevin Bergner, told reporters that a Hezbollah detainee, Ali Musa Daqduq, had revealed to interrogators that he been tasked with organizing "special groups" in Iraq for Iran.

The story of Daqduq's alleged admission was part of a larger charge by the US command in Iraq that Iran had organized and was arming and training Shi'ite militia groups that had allegedly broken away from Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.

But Bergner provided no direct quotes from Daqduq to reporters. And in May 2008, another public affairs officer, Colonel Donald Bacon, told Associated Press in an e-mail that the Hezbollah operative had actually told interrogators that his role in Iraq was to "assess the quality of training and make recommendations on how the training could be improved".

In fact, as military and intelligence officials privately admitted to pro-war blogger Bill Roggio, the term "special groups" was not an Iranian designation at all; it was created by the US command and applied to any Mahdi Army military commanders and troops who refused to cooperate with the US military.

Both episodes illustrate efforts by the military command to shape the media narrative surrounding the war, as advocated by Petraeus in his 2006 army manual on counter-insurgency.

Noting that the media "directly influence the attitude of key audiences toward counter-insurgents", Petraeus referred to "a war of perceptions between insurgents and counter-insurgents conducted continuously using the news media".

Petraeus urged counter-insurgency war "leaders" to carry out "information operations" to "obtain local, regional and international support for COIN operations".

The decision to promote a story that was likely to encounter skepticism in the press corps in Afghanistan appears to be a response by Petraeus to a looming crisis over his ability to convince the Barack Obama administration that progress is being achieved in the war.

The claim came two days after Petraeus asserted in a BBC interview that the US-NATO war had "already reversed the momentum which the Taliban had built up in the last few years in Helmand and Kandahar provinces and around Kabul".

In fact, however, US operations in Marjah had failed to expel the Taliban fighters or to reduce their political influence in the district. Nor has Petraeus claimed that Kandahar will be secured by the end of this year as previously vowed by his predecessor, General Stanley McChrystal - or even by the mid-2011.

To make matters worse for Petraeus, over the past six months, the Taliban have continued to establish a politically dominant presence in more areas of northern Afghanistan which had previously been judged relatively secure.

The Washington Post's Joshua Partlow reported on August 15 - the same day Petraeus was making his claim of progress - that Taliban fighters were "spreading like a brush fire into remote and defenseless villages across northern Afghanistan".

Two weeks earlier, Alissa J Rubin of the New York Times had quoted the chairman of the provincial council in Baghlan province as saying the situation there was "very serious and day by day it is getting worse and worse".

The bad news about Taliban gains in control of territory in the northern provinces is likely to be reflected in the next Pentagon assessment of the war due to be published in late November - just before Petraeus' pivotal December review of progress in the war.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.

(Inter Press Service) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on August 31, 2010, 07:59:37 am
South Asia
Sep 1, 2010 
Taliban noose around Wardak tightens

By IWPR-trained reporters

Mohammad Nader, the head of the Dra Construction Company in Wardak, says he has paid a heavy price for working for the authorities in the central Afghan province.

Earlier this year, he signed a contract to asphalt 17 kilometers of road between the Sayed Abad and Jaghato districts. But soon after his firm started work on the project, the Taliban burnt all his equipment, killed one of his workers and injured three more.

"In this attack, I lost a total of US$900,000, but no one has helped me," he said. "In Wardak province, there is no government, and the only real authority is the Taliban, who impose on people whatever they wish."

Just 35 kilometers west of the Afghan capital Kabul, Wardak is quietly falling under the sway of the Taliban, according to many residents.

A senior security official in the local government who spoke to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) on condition of anonymity said the insurgents were effectively in control of nearly all villages in Wardak, apart from district centers, where officials exercised ever-diminishing authority from heavily guarded offices behind fortified walls,

He said that despite the presence of international forces, the Afghan army and police, officials had little reach beyond the district centers, while the Taliban had set up a parallel administration across the province, complete with their own governor, district chiefs and judges.

"Government officials cannot go outside the walls of their offices and people don't ask them to deal with their issues, preferring the Taliban," he said. "This shows that the government has no authority and that more than 80% of the region is under Taliban control."

The security official said the Taliban had such a grip on the region that the local authorities struggled to transport goods and equipment to district centers by road.

However, Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Gilleran, spokesman for Task Force Bayonet, the US Army force in the area, insisted the security situation in Wardak was improving with the help of relatively new initiatives like the Afghan Public Protection Program, in which local men are asked to help protect their villages.

“The ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] set in motion a program that recruited young men to serve as 'guardians' for their villages after a three-week training program," he explained. "The guardians secure key community sites, roads, bridges and buildings. They carry AK-47 rifles for protection, however they do not have arrest authority. The guardians operate out of checkpoints throughout Wardak province."

He added that the US military continued to be optimistic about the progress made by Afghan security forces, adding, "We are confident that the security improvements that our Afghan partners are making in Wardak will result in lasting improvements for the citizens in the province."

Shahedullah Shahed, spokesman for the governor of Wardak, admitted that the security situation in the province was a concern, but insisted it was not as bad as some claimed.

He maintained that local politicians standing for re-election in the parliamentary poll next month spread rumors about the growing strength of the Taliban to deflect from their own failure to deliver improvements for local people.

"It is true that the situation is not so good, but this isn't only a problem in Wardak - it's the same for most provinces. We have our police, army and district governors ... and they are active," he said.

Haji Mohammad Muss Hutak, a member of parliament from Wardak, rejected Shahed's assertions, claiming that legislators had conveyed local concerns about the encroachment of the Taliban to central government, but to no avail.

"There are police and district chiefs but they can only look after their own security, and there is no contact between them and the people," he said.

Gul Rahman, a local government employee, said he and other colleagues had fled to Kabul because of Taliban intimidation in Wardak. He said that some civil servants were now unable to return to their villages because the insurgents had issued letters threatening to kill them unless they resigned from their jobs.

"There's evidence that the Taliban will kill government employees and that the government cannot protect them ... [so] we were compelled to flee," Rahman said.

Wadod, a resident of Shash Kala, said the insurgents had burnt scores of vehicles belonging to locals they suspected of transporting government or American military consignments. "They have warned us that no one can drive vehicles without Taliban permission," he added.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed, in a telephone interview with IWPR, warned that "anyone who supports the [foreign forces] and their puppet government, the Kabul government, are enemies of [Islam] and the country, and we will [fight] against them".

Mujahed claimed that local people welcomed the Taliban because they were tired of "corrupt government".

Assadullah Wahidi, a political analyst and chief editor of the Sarnawisht Daily newspaper, said the growing insurgent menace in the province was a result of failed policies. "The government was unable to work for the people of Wardak and it lost their support. The gap between the people and the government is widening every day," he said.

Wahidi believes Wardak is being targeted by the Taliban because of its proximity to Kabul, allowing them to demonstrate their power and reach to the government and international community.

For local people, there is little doubt about who is calling the shots in Wardak. Mirwais, a shopkeeper in the Salar bazaar, said the Taliban recently killed a driver who had been transporting material for American forces, but no one dared bury the body for fear of incurring the insurgents' wrath.

"His body just lay there and neither the police nor the army took it away. Local people wouldn't remove it either. Is that not power?” he asked.

(This article originally appeared in Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Used with permission.) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 01, 2010, 06:26:02 am
South Asia
Sep 2, 2010 


Throw these infidels in jail

By Pepe Escobar

Dear reader: let's sit back, relax, and take a trip down memory lane to prehistoric times - the pre-9/11, pre-YouTube, pre-Facebook world.

Ten years ago, Taliban Afghanistan - Talibanistan - was under a social, cultural, political and economic nightmare. Arguably, not much has changed. Or has it?

Ten years ago, New York-based photographer Jason Florio and myself slowly crossed Talibanistan overland from east to west, from the Pakistani border at Landi Kotal to the Iranian border at Islam Qillah. As Afghan aid workers acknowledged, we were the first Westerners to pull this off in quite a while.

Those were the days. Bill Clinton was enjoying his last stretch at the White House. Osama bin Laden was a discreet guest of Mullah Omar - hitting the front pages only occasionally. There was no hint of 9/11, or of the invasion of Iraq, or of the "war on terror", or of the rebranding of the AfPak war, or of a global financial crisis. Globalization ruled, and the United States was the undisputed global top dog. The Clinton administration and the Taliban were deep into Pipelineistan territory - arguing over the tortuous, proposed Trans-Afghan gas pipeline.

We tried everything, but we couldn't even get a glimpse of Mullah Omar. Osama bin Laden was also nowhere to be seen. But we did experience Talibanistan in action, in close detail. So why revisit it now? Blame it on the lure of archeology and history. This is both a glimpse of a long-lost world and a window to a possible future in Afghanistan.

If schizophrenia defined the Taliban in power, US schizophrenia still rules.

Will the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization reach a "Saigon moment" anytime soon - and leave? Not likely. As General David "I'm always positioning myself to 2012" Petraeus, like his predecessor General Stanley McChrystal, advances his special forces-led, maximum-force Murder Inc to subdue the Taliban, the same Petraeus - no irony intended - may tell Fox News, as he did last week, that the war's "ultimate goal" is the "reconciliation" of the ultra-corrupt Hamid Karzai government with the Taliban.

This in fact means that while "favorable" conditions are not created on the ground, government-sanctioned drug trafficking mafias and US defense contractors will continue to make - literally and metaphorically - a killing. As for the PR-savvy Petraeus, he will pull out all stops to sell his brand of Afghan surge to Americans as some sort of "victory" - as he managed to sell the rebranded Iraq war. And as for the (rebranded) umbrella of fighters conveniently labeled "Taliban", who seem to eat surges for breakfast, they will bide their time, Pashtun-style, and trust Allah to eventually hand them victory - the real thing, and not a PR fantasy.

Now let's go back to the future.

KABUL, Ghazni - Fatima, Maliha and Nouria, whom I used to call The Three Graces, by now are 29, 28 and 24 years old. Ten years ago, they lived in an empty, bombed house next to a bullet-ridden mosque in a half-destroyed, apocalyptic theme park called Kabul - by then the world capital of the discarded container (or reconstituted by a missile and reconverted into a shop); a city where 70% of the population were refugees; where legions of homeless kids carried bags of cash on their backs ($1 was worth more than 60,000 Afghanis) and sheep outnumbered rattling 1960s Mercedes buses.


Under the merciless Taliban theocracy, the Three Graces suffered triple discrimination - as women, Hazaras and Shi'ites. They lived in Kardechar, a neighborhood totally destroyed in the 1990s by the war between Commander Ahmad Massoud, The Lion of the Panjshir, and the Hazaras (the descendants of mixed marriages between Genghis Khan's Mongol warriors and Turkish and Tajik peoples) before the Taliban took power in 1996. The Hazaras were always the weakest link in the Tajik-Uzbek-Hazara alliance - supported by Iran, Russia and China - confronting the Taliban.

Every dejected Kabuli intellectual I had met invariably defined the Taliban as "an occupation force of religious fanatics" - their rural medievalism totally absurd for urban Tajiks, used to a tolerant form of Islam. According to a university professor, "their jihad is not against kafirs; it's against other Muslims who follow Islam".

I spent a long time talking to the Dari-speaking Three Graces inside their bombed-out home - with translation provided by their brother Aloyuz, who had spent a few years in Iran supporting the family long-distance. This simple fact in itself would assure that, if caught, we would all be shot dead by the Taliban V&V - the notorious Department for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Taliban religious police.

The Three Graces' dream was to live "free, not under pressure". They had never been to a restaurant, a bar or a cinema. Fatima liked "rock" music, which in her case meant Afghan singer Natasha. She said she "liked" the Taliban, but most of all she wanted to get back to school. They never mentioned any discrimination between Sunnis and Shi'ites; they actually wanted to leave for Pakistan.

Their definition of "human rights" included priority for education, the right to work, and to get a job in the state sector; Fatima and Maliha wanted to be doctors. Maybe they are, today, in Hazara land; 10 years ago they spent their days weaving beautiful silk shawls. Education was terminally forbidden for girls over 12. The literacy rate among women was only 4%. Outside the Three Graces' house, almost every woman was a "widow of war", enveloped in dusty light-blue burqas, begging to support their children. Not only was this an unbearable humiliation in the context of an ultra-rigid Islamic society, it contradicted the Taliban obsession of preserving the "honor and purity" of their women.

Kabul's population was then 2 million; less than 10%, concentrated in the periphery, supported the Taliban. True Kabulis regarded the Taliban as barbarians. For the Taliban, Kabul was almost as remote as Mars. Every day at sunset, the Intercontinental Hotel received an inevitable Taliban sightseeing group. They'd come to ride the lift (the only one in town) and walk around the empty swimming pool and tennis court. They'd be taking a break from cruising around town in their fleet of imported-from-Dubai Toyota Hi-Lux, complete with Islamic homilies painted in the windows, Kalashnikovs on show and little whips on hand to impose on the infidels the appropriate, Islamically correct, behavior. But at least the Three Graces were safe; they never left their bombed-out shelter.

Doubt is sin, debate is heresy

Few things were more thrilling in Talibanistan 10 years ago than to alight at Pul-e-Khisshti - the fabled Blue Mosque, the largest in Afghanistan - on a Friday afternoon after Jumma prayers and confront the One Thousand and One Nights assembled cast. Any image of this apotheosis of thousands of black or white-turbaned rustic warriors, kohl around their eyes and the requisite macho-sexy stare, would be all the rage on the cover of Uomo Vogue. To even think of taking a photo was anathema; the entrance to the mosque was always swarming with V&V informants.


Finally, on one of those eventful Friday afternoons, I managed to be introduced into the Holy Grail - the secluded quarters of maulvi (priest) Noor Muhamad Qureishi, by then the Taliban Prophet in Kabul. He had never exchanged views with a Westerner. It was certainly one of the most surreal interviews of my life.

Qureishi, like all Taliban religious leaders, was educated in a Pakistani madrassa. At first, he was your typical **** Deobandi; the Deobandis, as the West would later find out, were an initially progressive movement born in India in the mid-19th century to revive Islamic values vis-a-vis the sprawling British Empire. But they soon derailed into megalomania, discrimination against women and Shi'ite-hatred.

Most of all, Qureishi was the quintessential product of a boom - the connection between Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) party during the 1980s anti-Soviet jihad, when thousands of madrassas were built in Pakistan's Pashtun belt. Afghan refugees had the right to free education, a roof over their heads, three meals a day and military training. Their "educators" were semi-illiterate maulvis who had never known the reformist agenda of the original Deobandi movement.

Reclined on a tattered cushion over one of the mosque's ragged carpets, Qureishi laid down the Deobandi law in Pashto for hours. Among other things, he said the movement was "the most popular" because its ideologues dreamed that Prophet Muhammad ordered them to build a madrassa in Deoband, India. So this was Islam's purest form "because it came directly from Muhammad". Despite the formidable catalogue of Taliban atrocities, he insisted on their "purity".

Qureishi dabbled on the inferiority of Hindus because of their sacred cows ("why not dogs, at least they are faithful to their owners"). As for Buddhism, it was positively depraved ("Buddha is an idol"). He would have had a multiple heart attack with Thailand's Buddhist go-go girls, dancing **** at night and offering incense at the temple the morning after.
Doubt is sin. Debate is heresy. "The only true knowledge is the Koran". He insisted that all "forms of modern scientific knowledge came from the Koran". As an example, he quoted - what else - a Koranic verse (the Koran, by the way, in its neo-Deobandi, Talibanized version, forbade women to write, and allowed education only up to the age of 10). I could not help being reminded of that 18th century French anonymous writer - a typical product of the Enlightenment - who had written the Treaty of the Three Impostors - Moses, Jesus and Muhammad; but if I tried to insert the European Enlightenment into (his) monologue I would probably be shot dead. Basically, Qureishi finally managed to convince me that all this religious shadow play was about proving that "my sect is purer than yours".

Play it again, infidel

Talibanistan lived under a strict Kalashnikov culture. But the supreme anti-Taliban lethal weapon was not a gun, or even a mortar or rocket-propelled grenade. It was a camera. I knew inevitably that day would come, and it came in Kabul stadium, built by the former USSR to extol proletarian internationalism; another Friday, at 5pm, the weekly soccer hour - the only form of entertainment absent from the Taliban's Index Prohibitorum apart from public executions and mango ice cream.

Jason and I were lodged at the VIP tribune - less than 10 US cents for the ticket. The stadium was packed - but silent as a mosque. Two teams, the red and the blue, were playing the Islamically correct way - with extra skirts under their trunks. At half time the whole stadium - to the sound of "Allah Akbar" - ran to pray by the pitch; those who didn't were spanked or thrown in jail.

Jason had his cameras hanging from his neck, but he was not using them. Yet that was more than enough for a hysteric V&V teenage informant. We were escorted out of the stands by a small army of smiling, homoerotic brotherhood, those who were then referred to as "soldiers of Allah". Finally we were presented to a white-turbaned Talib with assassin's eyes; none other than Mullah Salimi, the vice minister of the religious police in Kabul - the reincarnation of The Great Inquisitor. We were finally escorted out of the stadium and thrown into a Hi-Lux, destination unknown. Suddenly we were more popular with the crowd than the soccer match itself.


At a Taliban "office" - a towel on the grass in front of a bombed-out building, decorated with a mute sat-phone - we were charged with espionage, our backpacks thoroughly searched. Salimi inspected two rolls of film from Jason's cameras; no incriminating photo. Then it was the turn of my Sony mini-DV camera. We pressed "play"; Salimi recoiled in horror. We explained that nothing was recorded on the blue screen. What was really recorded - he just needed to press "rewind" - would have been enough to send us to the gallows, including a lot of stuff with the Three Graces. Once again, we proved that the Taliban badly needed not only art directors and PR agents but also info-tech whiz kids.

In Taliban anti-iconography, video, in theory, might be allowed, because the screen is a mirror. Anyway, later we would know from the lion's mouth - the Ministry of Information and Culture in Kandahar - that TV and video would remain perpetually banned.

At that time, a few photo-studios survived near one of the Kabul bazaars - only churning out 3X4 photos for documents. The owners paid their bills by renting their Xerox machines. The Zahir Photo Studio still had on its walls a collection of black and white and sepia photos of Kabul, Herat, minarets, nomads and caravans. Among Leicas, superb Speed Graphic 8 X 10 and dusty Russian panoramic cameras, Mr Zahir would lament, "photography is dead in Afghanistan". At least that wouldn't be for long.

So after an interminable debate in Pashto with some Urdu and English thrown in, we were "liberated". Some Taliban - but certainly not Salimi, still piercing us with his assassin's eyes - tried a formal apology, saying what happened was incompatible with the Pashtun code of hospitality. All tribal Pashtun - like the Taliban - follow the Pashtunwali, the rigid code that emphasizes, among other things, hospitality, vengeance and a pious Islamic life. According to the code, it's a council of elders that arbitrates specific disputes, applying a compendium of laws and punishments. Most cases involve murders, land disputes and trouble with women. For the Pashtun, the line between pashtunwali and sharia was never very clear.

The V&V obviously was not a creation of Mullah Omar, the "Leader of the Faithful"; it was based on a Saudi Arabian original. In its heyday, in the second half of the 1990s, the V&V was a formidable intelligence agency - with informers infiltrated in the army, ministries, hospitals, United Nations agencies, non-governmental agencies - evoking a bizarre memory of KHAD, the enormous intelligence agency of the 1980s communist regime, during the anti-USSR jihad. The difference is that the V&V only answered to the orders - issued on bits and pieces of paper - of Mullah Omar himself.

Rock the base

The verdict echoed like a dagger piercing the oppressive air of the desert near Ghazni. A 360-degree panoramic shot revealed a background of mountains where the mineral had expelled all the vegetal; the silhouette of two 11th century minarets; and a foreground of tanks, helicopters and rocket launchers. The verdict, issued in Pashto and mumbled by our scared official translator imposed by Kabul, was inexorable: "You will be denounced in a military court. The investigation will be long, six months; meanwhile you will await the decision in jail".

Once again, we were being charged with espionage, but now this was the real deal. We could be executed with a shot on the back of the neck - Khmer Rouge style. Or stoned. Or thrown into a shallow grave and buried alive by a brick wall smashed by a tractor. Brilliant Taliban methods for the final solution were myriad. And to think this was all happening because of two minarets.


To walk over a supposedly mined field trying to reach two minarets was not exactly a brilliant idea in the first place. Red Army experts, during the 1980s, buried 12 million mines in Afghanistan. They diversified like crazy; more than 50 models, from Zimbabwe's RAP-2s to Belgium's NR-127s. UN officials had assured us that more than half the country was mined. Afghan officials at the Mine Detention Center in Herat, with their 50 highly trained German shepherd dogs, would later tell us that it would take 22,000 years to demine the whole country.

My objects of desire in Ghazni were two "Towers of Victory"; two circular superstructures, isolated in the middle of the desert and built by the Sassanians as minarets - commemorative, not religious; there was never a mosque in the surroundings. In the mid-19th century scholars attributed the grand minaret to Mahmud, protector of Avicenna and the great Persian poet Ferdowsi. Today, it is known that the small minaret dates from 1030 and the big one from 1099. They are like two brick rockets pointing to the sheltering sky and claiming the attention of those travelling the by then horrific Kabul-Kandahar highway, a Via Dolorosa of multinational flat tires - Russian, Chinese, Iranian.

The problem is that, 10 years ago, right adjacent to the minarets, there was an invisible Taliban military base. At first we could see only an enormous weapons depot. We asked a sentinel to take a few pictures; he agreed. Walking around the depot - between wrecks of Russian tanks and armored cars - we found some functioning artillery pieces, a lone, white Taliban flag, and not a living soul. This did look like an abandoned depot. But then we hit on a destroyed Russian helicopter - a prodigy of conceptual art. Too late: soon we were intercepted by a Taliban out of nowhere.

The commander of the base wanted to know "under which law" we assumed we had the right to take photos. He wanted to know what was the punishment, "in our country", for such an act. When the going was really getting tough, everything turned Monty Python. One of the Taliban had walked back to the road to fetch our driver, Fateh. They came back two hours later. The commander talked to Fateh in Pashto. And then we were "liberated", out of "respect for Fateh's white beard". But we should "confess" to our crime - which we did right away, over and over again.

The fact of the matter is that we were freed because I was carrying a precious letter hand-signed by the all-powerful Samiul Haq, the leader of Haqqania, the factory-cum-academy, Harvard and MIT of the Taliban in Akhora Khatak, on the Grand Trunk Road between Islamabad and Peshawar in Pakistan. Legions of Taliban ministers, province governors, military commanders, judges and bureaucrats had studied in Haqqania.

Haqqania was founded in 1947 by Deobandi religious scholar Abdul Haq, the father of maulvi and former senator Samiul Haq, a wily old hand fond of brothels and as engaging as a carpet vendor in the Peshawar bazaars. He was a key educator of the first detribalized, urbanized and literate Afghan generation; "literate", of course, in Haqqania-branded, Deobandi-style Islam. In Haqqania - where I saw hundreds of students from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan indoctrinated to later export Talibanization to Central Asia - debate was heresy, the master was infallible and Samiul Haq was almost as perfect as Allah.

He had told me - no metaphor intended - that "Allah had chosen Mullah Omar to be the leader of the Taliban". And he was sure that when the Islamic Revolution reached Pakistan, "it will be led by a unknown rising from the masses" - like Mullah Omar. At the time, Haq was Omar's consultant on international relations and sharia-based decisions. He bundled up both Russia and the US as "enemies of our time"; blamed the US for the Afghan tragedy; but otherwise offered to hand over Osama bin Laden to the US if Bill Clinton guaranteed no interference in Afghan affairs.

Back in Ghazni, the Taliban commander even invited us for some green tea. Thanks but no thanks. We thanked Allah's mercy by visiting the tomb of Sultan Mahmud in Razah, less than one kilometer from the towers. The tomb is a work of art - translucent marble engraved with Kufic lettering. Islamic Kufic lettering, if observed as pure design, reveals itself as a transposition of the verb, from the audible to the visible. So the conclusion was inevitable; the Taliban had managed to totally ignore the history of their own land, building a military base over two architectural relics and incapable of recognizing even the design of their own Islamic lettering as a form of art.

Next: The degree zero of culture

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 02, 2010, 06:20:32 am
South Asia
Sep 3, 2010 

The degree zero of culture

By Pepe Escobar

This is the second article in a three-part report.

PART 1: 'Throw these infidels in jail'

Ten years ago, Taliban Afghanistan - Talibanistan - was under a social, cultural, political and economic nightmare. Ten years ago, New York-based photographer Jason Florio and myself slowly crossed Talibanistan overland from east to west, from the Pakistani border at Landi Kotal to the Iranian border at Islam qillah.

Those were the days. Bill Clinton was enjoying his last stretch at the White House. Osama bin Laden was a discreet guest of Mullah Omar – hitting the front pages only occasionally. There was no hint of 9/11, or the invasion of Iraq, or the "war on terror", or the rebranding of the AfPak war.

We tried everything, but we couldn't even get a glimpse of Mullah Omar. Osama bin Laden was also nowhere to be seen. But we did experience Talibanistan in action, in close detail. This is both a glimpse of a long-lost world, and a window to a possible future in Afghanistan. Arguably, not much has changed. Or has it?

Now let's go back to the future again.

KANDAHAR - The art direction at the ministries of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan seemed to come courtesy of an involuntary Salvador Dali; lopsided paintings, dossier-free desks but with a walkie-talkie on, mute telephones, maps in psychedelic prints. Schizophrenia was the rule; the embassy of the Emirate in Islamabad, for instance, had a map of the "Democratic Republic of Afghanistan".

Abdul Haiy Mutmain's office was true to form. Ten years ago, Mutmain was the Minister of Information and Culture in Kandahar - the Taliban Central. In the absence of the loquacious, peripatetic Ahmad Wakil - Mullah Omar's official spokesman - Mutmain was the real game in town. "Elections? What elections? They are incompatible with sharia. Thus we reject them."

Like the handful of Western correspondents immersed in Talibanistan 10 years ago, a long time before 9/11, I was dying to meet the one-eyed legend Mullah Omar. Fat chance; he was more mysterious than The Shadow, even in Kandahar. He had only been to Kabul twice - and left in a hurry. His three wives still lived in Singesar, his native village, a dusty basket of mud-hut compounds where no girls had ever been to school - after all there was no school; only Omar's own madrassa, little else than a tent with a soiled floor filled with mattresses for the pupils.

He had never been photographed, never had met with foreign diplomats (and that is still true to this day). His famous "orders" still came on pieces of wrapping paper or cigarette matches. Beside his working desk, he kept an aluminum trunk full of Afghanis, and another one with US dollars; these constituted the Afghan Federal Reserve.

It was easy to feel in Kandahar how the Taliban initial agenda was to restore peace in the country, disarm the population, impose sharia law and defend the country's "Islamic integrity". Kandahar felt like a giant madrassa. The French cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard - still alive at the time - would have called it the degree zero of culture (the Islamic remix). The key cultural activity was to drink mango juice. A giant billboard on Martyr's Square - Kandahar's Times Square - exhibited a Mullah Omar dictum: "Don't be divided between tribes and ethnic groups; this is like the division between Jews and Christians".


Every conversation with a Taliban higher-up at the time implied the recurrence of the same theme; we don't have money because we're victims of an international conspiracy; thus, we cannot develop the country. It did not help to point out that for the price of a tank they could easily pave the horrendous Kabul-Kandahar highway.

The Taliban official line in 2000 was to fight for international recognition (only Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates had really recognized them; even Saudi Arabia had backed down). Mutmain used to complain non-stop about the threat of sanctions, and about the "negative" role of both the US and Russia; Mullah Omar had vented that "America and Russia have got together to form an anti-Afghan alliance". Mutmain insisted, "The UN does what the White House wants." And contrary to all evidence, he also insisted, "We don't have any prejudice against Shi'ites."


This was his notion of democracy; "The term 'democracy' has many meanings. In our country it means to protect the lives, property and culture of our people. Our country wants this type of government." And that led to the Taliban definition of culture; "People here are Muslims, this is a religious country. We are against customs that go against the religion of Islam. We protect Islamic and Afghan culture." He always refused to elaborate.

The work ethic on Taliban ministries was monolithic. Bill Clinton might launch a showering of missiles, Iran might threaten to invade, drought might exterminate most of the population; but the ministries only worked from 8 am to 12 am. Then there were prayers and a long siesta. And in late afternoon, a major Turban Get Together in front of Mullah Omar's White House in Kandahar. No sign of Omar himself, of course, or of his famed guest, America's Public Enemy Number One, Osama bin Laden.

Where is Osama?

Over a year before 9/11, Bin Laden was already a mass hero. For a Syrian businessman, a Malaysian student or a Pakistani entrepreneur, he was a fanatic; but for the poor, urban, radicalized youth across AfPak, he was iconic - a corrected version of Muhammad as Warrior-Prophet, a supposed Antichrist capable of defying America. I had seen Osama bin Laden images, T-shirts, videos and cassettes all the way from Peshawar in Pakistan, the Islamic Rome, to Kandahar; they were also being smuggled from Kashmir to Java, from Palestine to the southern Philippines.

I had learned everything to be learned about Bin Laden in Peshawar, the Mecca of Afghan exiles and Pashtun fierceness, through endless kebab and Kabuli rice dinners sitting cross-legged over tribal carpets washed with endless coups of green tea. Those solemn Pashtun elders reclined over cheap made-in-China velvet cushions were real Scheherazade masters at weaving a hypnotic narrative - a lethal, high and low-tech version of the Thousand and One Nights.

They would dabble on how Bin Laden was tall, shy, charming, generous, eating sparsely, sleeping even less, lending his clothes and distributing suitcases full of cash. How Bin Laden first fell in love with Peshawar in late 1979, right after the Red Army had entered Kabul. How he came to live in 1982 and soon set up the first hostel for the Arab jihad warriors, along with his former master Abdullah Azzam. How they had recruited a true Islamic Foreign Legion. How this was the best of possible worlds - where no one thought of fighting the Saudi monarchy or the American Grand Satan.

How in 1988 he set up his data bank including all the jihad warriors and the nebulae of volunteers who flowed through the training camps; that was "al-Qaeda" ("the base"). How Bin Laden fired his first anti-American projectile in Somalia, in 1993. How he moved to Sudan, then to Afghanistan. How he issued his declaration of jihad against America, in 1996. And how delocalized, interconnected cells across the world had adopted the spectacle of terror to seduce sections of those poor masses deserted from the Great Capitalist Banquet.


Over a year before 9/11, America was already imposing to the world's psyche the image of Osama bin Laden as an inexplicable, pathological criminal; the degree zero of terror. But the Peshawar elders were already telling me, in their own way, that Bin Laden, recluse as a hermit, was in fact more like the degree zero of the Reconquista, Islam's shot at reconquering its primacy. I could not help feeling both versions were false.

And then, in Kandahar, he might be just around the corner, sharing a kebab dinner at the White House with Mullah Omar...

Even in Kandahar it was clear that for the Taliban what really mattered was not a pan-Islamic jihad; it was to control their land. It was also more than evident that Talibanistan had no system. Everybody monopolized authority. Nobody accepted alien authority. Deobandi culture hates the public sphere; it is only interested in the meticulous respect of dogma. After all, the state is considered impious ever since the British conquered India in 1857.

So minimalist exceptions were positively delicious. Such as the young, polite and well-educated official at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Kandahar - little more than a brick shack in the city's suburbs, close to the airport whose claim to fame at the time was as landing site for the hijacked Indian Airlines at the turn of the millennium; the official insisted the best thing I could do in Kandahar was "to get out of here as soon as possible".


Well, I had already seen the degree zero of culture at the University of Kabul as well - once one of the 12 best in the world, as many professors reminded me. There were absolutely no women students; that was "anti-sharia".

In fluent Spanish, the extraordinary man responsible for the library, Muhamad Kabir-Nezami, guided me through an archive whose names - in this wasteland - sounded like jade idols: Marx, Freud, Gibbon, Spinoza, Bernard Shaw. Kabir-Nezami told me that after much Taliban blood and fury, the library had managed to preserve only 20% or maybe 30% of its books; he could not say how many were left.

A group of eminent professors gave me the full extension of the tragedy. The university had been literally demolished. “We started the reconstruction from scratch - books, electrical system, water supply”. Some non-governmental organizations had helped. But there was no international help for the reconstruction. Nothing happened because of the United Nations Security Council sanctions imposed at the end of 1999.

The university was managed at the time by - who else - a maulvi (priest), Muhamad Monin. When he insisted that "the professors teach the meaning of a free press", the professors themselves - present at our meeting - looked at each other with infinite melancholy. But then one of them finally contradicted the maulvi. A real debate, in Pashto, raged on - an unnamable heresy as far as the Taliban are concerned. Pressed by the professors, the maulvi finally had to admit, "the university is affected by the current political situation."

I felt depressed for days. This was what the degree zero of culture was all about; a group of eminent professors at what was once one of the best universities in the world subjected to the sermons of a mediocre madrassa student who never finished the equivalent of primary school.

Next: Married to the mob

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 02, 2010, 06:32:45 am
Published on Wednesday, September 1, 2010 by

Two Wars Don’t Make a Right

by Robert Scheer

The carnage is not yet complete, and President Barack Obama's attempt to put the best face on the ignominious U.S. occupation of Iraq will not hide what he and the rest of the world well know. The lies that empowered George W. Bush to invade Iraq represent an enduring stain on the reputation of American democracy. Our much-vaunted system of checks and balances failed to temper the mendacity of the president who acted like a king and got away with it. 

It is utter nonsense for Obama, who in the past has made clear his belief that the Bush administration's case for this war was a tissue of lies, to now state: "The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people." We paid a huge price simply to assuage the arrogance of a president that was unfettered by the restraints of common sense expected in a functioning democracy. Particularly shameful was the betrayal by the Congress and the mass media of the obligations to challenge a president who exploited post-9/11 fears to go to war with a nation that had nothing whatsoever to do with that attack. 

With hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Americans dead and maimed and at a cost of $3 trillion to American taxpayers, the U.S. imperial adventure in Iraq has left that country in a horrible mess, controlled by a corrupt and deeply divided elite that shows no serious inclination to effectively govern. Nor can there be a claim of enhanced U.S. security when the real victors are the ayatollahs of Iran, whose influence in once bitterly hostile Iraq is now immense. The price in shattered lives and dollars will continue, as Iraq remains haunted by ethnic and religious conflict that we did so much to provoke.

Remember when most of the once respected mass media, and not just the obvious lunatics on cable, bought the Bush propaganda that democracy in Iraq, a harbinger of a new Middle East, was just around the corner? They based that absurd expectation on the fact that an Iraqi ayatollah disciple of the ones ruining Iran could order millions of his followers to hold up purple fingers. What a joke we have made of the ideal of representative democracy when Iraq is operating under an incomprehensible constitution, which our proconsul ordered, and is still without a functioning government six months after an election that our media once again dutifully celebrated.

Mark the obit on this disaster by John Simpson, the highly regarded BBC world affairs editor, writing Tuesday from Baghdad that "nowadays it is hard to find anyone who sees America as a friend or mentor." Dismissing the original American expectation that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein would expand democracy in the Middle East, Simpson concludes: "On the contrary, America's position in the Middle East has been visibly eroded. ... America seems to have shrunk as a direct result of its imperial adventure in Iraq."

The one positive outcome is that with the formal end of the U.S. occupation many Americans have finally learned the lesson that imperialism does not pay. While Bush fiddled with a nonexistent terrorist threat from Iraq, the U.S. economy burned and the oil loot that some thought would make it all worthwhile never materialized. Remember when the neoconservatives were riding high and Paul Wolfowitz assured a supine Congress that Iraqi oil would pay for it all?

Nor did the invasion even make more secure our access to Mideast oil while competitors like China were busily securing foreign energy rights to shore up their bustling economies. Obama acknowledged this reality in his speech when he stated, "We must jump-start industries that create jobs, and end our dependence on foreign oil." 

For all his talk about turning our attention homeward, Obama reveals his obsession with the imperial adventure in Afghanistan, where "because of our drawdown in Iraq, we are now able to go on offense." Once again there is the expectation that the occupied will embrace the occupiers and that the deployment of massive military power "will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida," as if that is any longer relevant to our deep involvement in a treacherous civil war in which we have no reliable partners.

Al-Qaida was never present in Iraq before we invaded, and according to Obama's own national security adviser, there are fewer than a hundred members of the group left in Afghanistan, unable to coordinate any actions. Obama deserves credit for extracting this country from a war in Iraq that he inherited, but it is mind-numbing that in his nation-building efforts in Afghanistan he is now repeating the same errors that were made in Iraq.

© 2010
Robert Scheer is editor of [1] and a regular columnist for The San Francisco Chronicle.


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 02, 2010, 06:38:34 am
Published on Wednesday, September 1, 2010 by The Age (Australia)

Afghan War Unwinnable Quagmire, Ex-CIA Man Says

by Dylan Welch

THE war in Afghanistan is an unwinnable quagmire and poor US intelligence is leading to the deaths of Australian soldiers, a visiting former CIA officer says.


"They're all stuck behind the wire; they don't get out ... it's like the crusades where you're stuck on your castle imagining what the natives are doing," said Robert Baer, a decorated CIA field officer of two decades experience who had spent years in the Middle East. (AFP/File/Yuri Cortez)

Robert Baer, a decorated CIA field officer of two decades experience who had spent years in the Middle East, said any chances the US and its allies had of defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan had already been squandered. The Coalition was fighting an unwinnable war, he said, and this was the case because victory required reliable intelligence.

''[US intelligence agencies] have the same problem they had before 9/11. It is a system that doesn't work.''

That system sees CIA operatives and allied intelligence officers unable to gather reliable information because security concerns do not allow them to travel widely. And most do not speak the local language. ''They're all stuck behind the wire; they don't get out ... it's like the crusades where you're stuck on your castle imagining what the natives are doing,'' he said.

Describing Washington DC as a ''blank spot on the map'', he said that despite the massive growth of the intelligence agencies post September 11, 2001, there remained systemic failings.

''American intelligence after 9/11 has been unable to co-ordinate ... the FBI will not share with the CIA. CIA has operational databases which they won't share with even others inside the CIA.''

All of this led to a dysfunctional intelligence community unable to provide reliable, contemporary intelligence that could allow the Coalition to win in Afghanistan.

''Twenty-two American soldiers have been killed since Friday, and Australia has lost 21 men ... Afghanistan is a quagmire and it can only be fought with an effective counter-insurgency. It cannot be fought with Abrams tanks and F16s,'' he said.

The author of four books and a film consultant, he has previously described how the CIA's role as a provider of human intelligence - on-the-ground intelligence gathering by field officers - has been steadily degraded under poor management.

Earlier this week Mr Baer said the Australian government should confront Washington with the poor intelligence on Afghanistan that was recently released by WikiLeaks.

''The Australians should take the WikiLeaks information to the US [administration] and say: please tell us you have better information than this,'' Mr Baer said.

Mr Baer is in Australia to speak at the Australian Security Industry Association Limited conference in Sydney.

Copyright © 2010 Fairfax Media


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 03, 2010, 05:48:58 am

Afghanistan: Offensive in Kandahar underway

By Tom Peters

WSWS, September 2, 2010

The coalition’s offensive in Kandahar, touted as the centrepiece of the "surge" in Afghanistan announced by US President Obama last December, is now well underway. With barely any coverage in the media internationally, as many 50,000 foreign and Afghan Army troops have deployed in and around the city.

Kandahar, which has a population of around 500,000, is under a state of military siege. The presence of the armed forces is felt everywhere, with constant patrols and expanding military bases. There are now 30,000 more US soldiers than a year ago and increased military police numbers.

Over the past four months, checkpoints have been established at all the main routes into the city, and thousands of tall concrete blast walls have been installed around police stations and government buildings. At the checkpoints, thousands of residents are daily subjected to population control measures by Afghan and foreign military police, including searches and biometric eye scans, which are checked against a list of around 25,000 suspected insurgents. Tens of thousands of residents have been issued with new identity cards.

Outside Kandahar city, in the western districts of Panjwai and Zhari and the northern district of Arghandab, occupation troops are conducting major "clearing" operations, using overwhelming and indiscriminate force against so-called Taliban "strongholds". Hundreds of alleged insurgents have been killed or arrested.

The Taliban fighters themselves are poorly armed and stand little chance in direct engagements with foreign troops. Canada’s National Post described a recent attack in Panjwai in which "two Canadian Griffon helicopters flew overhead and fired a hailstorm of bullets at insurgents. A US aircraft then dropped a bomb. Canadian soldiers watching and listening from a nearby combat outpost cheered."

Such accounts are reminiscent of attacks in Iraq which resulted in substantial civilian deaths, including the infamous 2007 massacre of civilians from an Apache helicopter in Baghdad which was revealed by WikiLeaks in April.

The increased killing in Kandahar and throughout Afghanistan is being overseen by General David Petraeus, the architect of the former Bush administration’s "surge" in Iraq. Petraeus was appointed by Obama to replace General Stanley McChrystal in June. McChrystal, while ostensibly fired for comments to Rolling Stone criticising the administration, was removed after he delayed the assault on Kandahar due to the failure of thousands of troops to secure the Marjah area in Helmand province.

Since taking command, Petraeus has ordered the start of the offensive despite the significant fighting still taking place against the occupation forces in Helmand and other areas. The same strategies used by Petraeus to crush the Baghdad insurgency in 2007 are now being used in Kandahar. During the Baghdad offensive, entire areas of the city were turned into what the US military termed "gated communities", with blast walls, checkpoints and control measures used to imprison the population and facilitate the targeted killing of insurgents.

Reports from Kandahar indicate widespread hostility to the "surge". Thomas Johnson, an adviser to Canada’s Task Force Kandahar, told reporters last week that he was amazed by the number of children throwing rocks and tomatoes and making obscene gestures at passing foreign troops. "I think that might be a leading indicator of other thoughts and conversations that are occurring in families . . . that we’re being viewed as the occupier".

Tor Ghani, a taxi driver, told the Canadian Press that the new checkpoints reminded him of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s, adding that the corrupt Afghan National Police used them to collect bribes. A majority of respondents to a US Army survey earlier this year identified army and police checkpoints as the biggest threat to their security while travelling in Kandahar.

Foreign troops are widely seen as propping up the corrupt and illegitimate provincial government of Ahmad Wali Karzai, brother of Afghan puppet president Hamid Karzai, as well as the local government of Kandahar mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi. During a visit to the city last month, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was bluntly told by three tribal elders that "the voice of ordinary people doesn’t reach this government".

The elders also criticised the escalating military operations. One asked: "Are you bringing security here or are you bringing violence?" When Mullen responded that in the past month the Taliban had killed 45 civilians, while coalition forces had killed five, one of the men pointed out that none would have died "if you weren’t here".

Many terrorised villagers in the Kandahar area have been forced to flee their homes. A taxi driver from a village in Panjwai told reporters last week that "security is getting worse day by day. …We are not able to see our land because of IEDs [improvised explosive devices] and fighting. We are just alive. Our children cannot sleep due to the sounds of aircraft and fighting. It’s terrible being out there." He added: "Every person is thirsty for peace and now everyone lost his hope, because we don’t believe the current administration will ever restore it."

While US and Afghan military officials insist that the population is being terrorised by the Taliban, comments from residents demonstrate that their main fear is being killed by an occupation air strike or night-time raid. One Zhari farmer, Habibullah, told reporters: "If they carry out an air raid at our homes because the Taliban are there, or send soldiers at night, what will happen to us?" A villager from Malajat said he was "scared of an air strike, because we can have casualties there". He added that he had seen many civilians killed this way.

The occupation forces have repeatedly sought to blame civilian casualties inflicted by foreign troops on the insurgents. Last month, the Washington Post reported that Lieutenant Campbell Spencer from the Civilian Casualty Tracking Cell had "said that the Taliban has taken to holding Afghan civilians as hostages to make it more difficult for the forces to attack without killing innocent people."

Support for the insurgency is growing as more and more civilians are killed. Despite the troop buildup, Taliban fighters still move freely in villages surrounding Kandahar. In June, a survey by the International Council on Security and Development of 552 men in the Helmand and Kandahar provinces found that 70 percent opposed recent foreign military actions in their area, while only one percent believed that foreign troops were rebuilding the country. In Helmand, 83 percent of respondents said that the recent military surge there had been bad for the Afghan people.

A survey of 1,994 people in Kandahar in March, commissioned by the US Army, found that 94 percent of people supported a peace conference with the Taliban and 85 percent viewed the Islamist fighters as "our Afghan brothers."

Petraeus and other top US and NATO commanders insist that the nine-year Afghan war is entering its "final stages", and that a victory in Kandahar will bring them closer to defeating the insurgency. Others in the US military establishment, however, have voiced concerns that the surge could be in vain, since the Taliban has now spread to virtually every province in the country.

Marc Sageman, an analyst from the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a former CIA agent, told the Washington Post last week: "You can pacify Kandahar and you’ll still lose the war because Afghanistan remains a highly decentralised society, and in the countryside, the Kabul government has little legitimacy".

The February offensive in the largely rural area of Marjah in Helmand province ultimately failed to uproot the Taliban. Now, under Petraeus, the US-led forces are resorting to even more bloodshed and repression as they desperately attempt to crush the resistance to the neo-colonial occupation of the impoverished country.

In response, insurgent attacks on foreign troops have increased. On August 31, another six US soldiers died—four of them in a roadside bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan, and two in gunfights with insurgents in the south—bringing the total killed in the past four days to 23. The total number of foreign troops to die this year is 489, compared to 521 for all of 2009.

Coalition attacks throughout the country are also increasing, resulting in more civilian deaths. On August 22, NATO commandos massacred eight civilians, including two women and a child, and injured 12 more during a raid in the village of Naik in Baghlan Province. An air strike in Kunar Province last week killed six children between the ages of six and 12. Another was seriously injured.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 03, 2010, 06:01:10 am
South Asia
Sep 4, 2010 

Married to the mob

By Pepe Escobar

This is the conclusion of a three-part report.

PART 1: 'Throw these infidels in jail'

PART 2: The degree zero of culture

Ten years ago, Taliban Afghanistan - Talibanistan - was under a social, cultural, political and economic nightmare. Ten years ago, New York-based photographer Jason Florio and myself slowly crossed Talibanistan. Those were the days. Bill Clinton was in the White House. Osama bin Laden was a discreet guest of Mullah Omar, and there was no hint of 9/11, the invasion of Iraq, or the "war on terror", or the rebranding of the AfPak war.

We experienced Talibanistan in action, in close detail. This is both a glimpse of a long-lost world, and a window to a possible future in Afghanistan. Arguably, not much has changed. Or has it?
If schizophrenia defined the Taliban in power, US schizophrenia still rules.

Will the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization reach a "Saigon moment" anytime soon - and leave? Not likely. As General David "I'm always positioning myself to 2012" Petraeus, like his predecessor General Stanley McChrystal, advances his special forces-led, maximum force Murder Inc. to subdue the Taliban, the same Petraeus - no irony intended - may tell Fox News, as he did last week, that the war's "ultimate goal" is the "reconciliation" of the ultra-corrupt Hamid Karzai government with the Taliban.

This in fact means that while "favorable" conditions are not created on the ground, government-sanctioned drug trafficking mafias and US defense contractors will continue to make - literally - a killing. As for the PR-savvy Petraeus, he will pull all stops to sell his brand of Afghan surge to Americans as some sort of "victory" - as he managed to sell the rebranded Iraq war. And as for the (rebranded) umbrella of fighters conveniently labeled "Taliban", who seem to eat surges for breakfast, they will bide their time, Pashtun-style, and trust Allah to eventually hand them victory - the real thing, and not a PR fantasy.

Now let's go back to the future again.

HERAT, SPINBALDAK, BALOCHISTAN - Arriving in Herat after a hellish journey from Kandahar, I thought I had smoked prime Afghan opium and was on a non-stop trip to Persian fantasy. I had met Scandinavian non-governmental organization women intellectuals stranded right in the middle of Taliban theocracy, but in Herat they seemed to be in the right place. Because Herat seemed to be absolutely impervious to tyranny.

The oasis of Herat - established 5,000 years ago - is the cradle of Afghan history and civilization. It boasts the richest soil in Central Asia; Herodotus dubbed it "Central Asia's granary". For centuries it was a crucial crossroads between the Turkish and Persian empires. The whole population was converted to Islam in the 7th century. When I entered the grand mosque - built in the 7th, rebuilt in the 12th century - I felt I was really in Persia.

During the Middle Ages, Herat was a great Sufi center - mystical and profoundly spiritual Islam. Not by accident the city's patron saint is Khawaja Abdullah Ansari, an 11th-century Sufi poet and philosopher. Genghis Khan conquered Herat in 1222 and spared only 40 of its 160,000 inhabitants. Less than two centuries later the city recovered its glory when Tamerlan's son and his wife - queen Gowhar Shad - transferred the capital of the empire from Samarkand to Herat.

Tamerlan's empire was the first to mix the nomadic culture of the Turkish steppe with the extreme sophistication of Persian culture. At the bazaar, septuagenarian traders told me - the first foreigner they had seen in almost two years - how at the beginning of the 15th century the city was as wealthy as Venice, producing the finest carpets, jewelry, weaponry and miniatures as well as mosques, madrassas, public baths, libraries and palaces.

Herodotus might be having a blast with the historical irony of the Taliban - with their pathological horror of the female sex - now ruling a Persian city where once reigned one of the most seductive humanists and feminists of Asia. Gowhar Shad - the female, Persian version of Lorenzo de Medici - used to marry her "ruby-lipped" ladies-in-waiting with the Taliban of their time.

The queen built a fabulous complex including mosque, madrassa and her own tomb in the outskirts of Herat. The tomb - blue Persian tiles with floral decoration, a blue dome decorated with vertiginous Koranic inscriptions - is unanimously recognized by art historians as one of the masterpieces of Islamic architecture. The inscription on the tomb is a simple "the Bilkis of her time"; "bilkis" stands for "Queen of Sheba".

What is left of the complex are five elegant minarets, a few marble slabs and something from Gowhar Shad's tomb. The British Empire demolished almost everything by the end of the 19th century and the Soviets mined the area during the 1980s to repel the mujahideen. Heratis would comment that when the Soviets bombed the city in 1979, they wreaked more havoc than Genghis Khan.


The Taliban had no idea of the prodigious cultural, literary and political history of Herat. What mattered for them was Herat as a golden goose - the crossroads through which passed the non-stop smuggling of second-hand vehicles, consumer electronics and computers from Dubai and Bandar Abbas on the way to Pakistan. The taxes paid by the hundreds of lorries crossing Herat every day fed the Taliban central bank and financed the war to conquer the north of Afghanistan still escaping their control.

Unlike the rest of Talibanistan, there was no mass poverty in Herat. Pakistani Pashtun moneychangers insisted business was great. In two sprawling bazaars, eight-year-old kids crammed in small rooms were weaving for 12 hours a day the carpets that would flood all Asian markets (not anymore; now they are synthetic, or made in China). Before curfew, at 10pm, the bazaars were booming, as well as the juice and ice-cream shops.

Intellectually, this miniature of Persia was buried when the Taliban conquered it in 1995; the painters, poets and professors crossed the border to Iran. The Taliban locked all women behind closed doors; forbade visits to Sufi sanctuaries; imposed the degree zero of education closing down all schools; segregated hospitals; closed down public baths; and banished women from the bazaar.

They rebelled. Every day, from 8am to 11am, for the past three years, Latifah - a graduate of Herat's Medical Institute - had been conducting her own, homemade primary school, teaching math, Persian, Pashto, English, biology, physics, chemistry and Koranic studies. This was a two-year course, with a month's holiday. Officially, this school "didn't exist". But "they know", she would tell me. There had been no repression. But she was very anxious about the future.


For her beloved students, Latifah - one of the six daughters of an upper-middle-class Herati family - was none other than a reincarnation of Gowhar Shad. Her father, an engineer trained in the former Soviet Union, used to make thousands of dollars a month before the Taliban. Latifah was part of a sprawling west Afghan network of underground resistance - confiding that there was practically "one school in every street" and a few hundred teachers, although they never tried to communicate with each other.

Apart from teaching, she gave medical attention to anyone who needed it, and had worked for a de-mining organization. She used to say that when she got married, she would want "a person like me, who gives me permission to teach". That's what she may be doing in Herat nowadays.

By that time I had crossed Talibanistan from east to west. It was enough to share two certainties. For all that I saw, the tribalization of urban Afghanistan did not seem inevitable - even though it was accelerated by the rustic Taliban theocracy. And the talibanization of the whole of Central Asia - so much feared by Washington, Moscow and Beijing - also was a non-starter. Because of the strength of spirit of people like Latifah, Gowhar Shad, the indomitable humanist, would certainly give it the seal of approval with her ruby lips.

Free trade, here we come!

A horizontal canyon of containers fries in the Balochistan desert, casually watched over by a turbaned army. Inside, a Babel of conspicuous consumption, from Japanese video cameras to English knickers, from Chinese silk to computer parts from Taiwan.

In this Taliban version of Ali Baba's cave you can buy anything - cash; no major credit cards accepted. A few yards away, monster hauls of heroin, Eastern European Kalashnikov replicas and Iranian oil converge in an apotheosis of free trade. Yes, because 10 years ago "free trade" was not in the World Trade Organization in Geneva; it was here, in Spinbaldak - a ringside seat to the largest smuggling ring on the planet, involving the Taliban, Pakistani smugglers, drug lords, tribal chiefs owning transport mafias, bureaucrats, politicians, the police and selected army officials.

This low-tech version of the Silk Road - where lorries replaced 5,000-camel caravans - was the Taliban's real golden goose. The Silk Road linking China to Europe via Afghanistan and Central Asia was controlled by the same tribal chiefs and nomads who today roll in Mercedes.


This free-trade boom could only be a consequence of the interminable civil war in Afghanistan - linked to the expansion of the drug business and the overwhelming corruption in Pakistan. At the same time, this far west coincided with a consumer boom all across Central Asia.

Drug and transport mafias - all across what today the Pentagon calls AfPak - united in merry convergence. The Taliban, since taking power in 1996, were encouraged by transporters to open roads for mass smuggling. It was the Quetta (Balochistan's capital) transport mafia that forced the Taliban to capture the Persianized Herat, and thus totally control the way to Turkmenistan. What a Pakistani diplomat had told me in Islamabad still rings true to this day; "It's this mafia that ultimately controls the fate of governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan."
The border "control" between Chaman, in Balochistan, and Spinbaldak, in Afghanistan, was a joke (and remains so to this day); a monster frat party drenched in endless cups of green tea. Everybody knows everybody else. Up to 400 trucks and lorries used to cross the border every day. Most of the Bedford and Mercedes trucks were stolen - with fake license plates. There was no invoice for anything inside them. The drivers would have crossed as many as six international borders with a fake driver's license, no road permit and no passport. Nobody paid customs or taxes of any kind.

Obviously, this was not a recommend spot for Westerners. We were met with accusations of being "UN spies". Only after a handful of altercations in Urdu were we "adopted" by some clans - who immediately started to peddle their wares. I could have bought a Toyota Corolla 92 for only $3,000, a Nihonkkai Japanese fire truck for less than $5,000, a Toyota Land Cruiser 96 for $10,000 or a Yamaha bike as good as new for only $700.

Abdul Qadir Achkazi was a key figure in the family of a terribly influential local warlord. He was a cosmopolitan - he'd been to Tokyo, Singapore, Dubai and had a "martyr" bother in the anti-USSR jihad. Reclined on a cushion over the dusty carpet inside his container office, serving the umpteenth cup of green tea, he laid down the free-trade law.

All this stuff came by ship from Yokohama to Bandar Abbas in Iran, via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The transport of a container full of dodgy goods was $4,000, maximum. In Bandar Abbas, the container paid a harbor tax. From Bandar Abbas, it crossed the Iran-Afghan border and arrived in Spinbaldak on top of a lorry. Entering Afghanistan, the importer paid the Taliban up to $7,000 in taxes per container, or $3,000 if these were toys. For each imported Toyota, the Taliban got a cool $1,000. From Bandar Abbas to Spinbaldak, transport expenses would run to $600, paid before entering Herat - the Taliban's golden goose.

Abdul told me that all clients in this free-trade special were Pakistanis. And almost all traders had double nationality. Best-sellers at the time were cassette players, CDs and computers (nowadays it must be iPhones).

The absolute majority of traders confirmed that most deliveries were in Quetta - but they could deliver wherever the client wanted; after all they controlled their own transport networks. In this case, there would be an extra of 30%. If the merchandise was apprehended by police, the client would get all his money back. But anyway in Spinbaldak, as Abdul said, "Everything is legal. There's no Taliban interference because all taxes have been paid." In front of a container selling a pile of good old Sony Trinitrons, a group told me, "We fought the Russians. Today we support the Taliban."

The border with Iran, in Islam qila, a wasteland battered by endless sandstorms worked in the same register. Iranian lorries got rid of their containers, immediately lugged on to Afghan trucks that inevitably would fall prey to the sandstorms. The layout of Afghan "customs" was a row of transportation companies' offices. Faced with a few questions, the Iranian officials were as polite as a mortal Pasdaran enemy of still living Saddam Hussein.

It was only in 2000 that Pakistan actually woke up to the billions of dollars in taxes it was losing in this free-for-all. The informal economy at the time was 51% of gross domestic product (not much has changed). Smuggling was - and remains - an immense network trespassing Central Asia, Iran and the Persian Gulf (that's one of the reasons why sanctions against Iran will never work).

Already in 2000 it was pure wishful thinking to believe that powerful tribal lords could not live without Pakistan - to which they were and remain interlinked by trade and property they bought outside of the tribal areas. Tribal chiefs raved about this huge, illegal duty-free corridor - and they still profit from it.

The porosity of Pakistan's borders - from the Khyber pass to Balochistan - benefited the Afghan mujahideen during the anti-USSR jihad, but at the same time allowed the infiltration all across Pakistan of the Kalashnikov culture. The Hindu Kush as much as the Durand Line, natural or human barriers, nothing has prevented a continuous flux of horrors to flow from Central Asia to South Asia.

So what was the purpose of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan? Well, I did learn that Talibanistan was conditioned by three "values": war, trade and pious morality. The Taliban did manage to recreate in almost the whole country the mindset of a madrassa.

Those taxes over free trade filled their coffers. And an internal jihad - against Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras - justified the regime. The legitimacy of the state and politics was absolutely zero; that is, any notion of citizenship or freedom was also absolutely zero. Only belief and obedience were legitimate. Ten years later, I still think this is a demented, (non)political experiment for the history books.

Well, we finally hit the Balochistan border, between pyramids of multinational tires and a traffic jam of donkey carts piled up with stereos. The Taliban control post was a small, fly-infested room. The official was asleep. When he awoke, he asked for exist visas. We improvised – showing him a letter from the Foreign Ministry in Kabul. It took him an eternity not to read our letter. But he eventually stamped our passports. We hit the main street like Gary Cooper in High Noon. A black-turbaned Taliban passed by. I couldn't resist; "Welcome home." We grabbed a Mad Max cab and burned rubber in the dust of this 7th-century black hole - and the time-machine brought us back to the year 2000.

Where's my refugee Buddha?

"Oh, I have Buddhas from Bamiyan."

The news - as cool, calm and collected as a Taliban rocket launch - took a while to sink in. The Cousin of the Mine King of Balochistan was still smiling. We had been in Quetta, frontier capital of the Pakistani side of Balochistan, only for a few hours.

In Afghanistan, we had been arrested (twice), menaced with a trial by a military court, accused of being UN spies. We were exhausted, and as far as Bamiyan was concerned, frustrated. Taliban officials in Kabul had denied us a visa do visit Bamiyan, allegedly because of "security reasons". At the time I lived in Buddhist Thailand. Apart from trying to understand what makes a warped madrassa worldview tick in the beginning of the Third Millennium, I had always longed to see the Bamiyan Buddhas.

But I never made it to Bamiyan. Instead, Bamiyan came to me.

At the Quetta Serena Hotel - a plush compound straight from Santa Fe, New Mexico - the Cousin of the Mine King showed up in style: chauffeur-driven in a Toyota Hi-Lux. This could only foment our paranoia: Toyotas Hi-Lux constituted the entire Taliban motorized Walhalla, and when we were arrested by the religious police in Kabul stadium in the middle of a soccer match for (not) taking photos, we were taken to interrogation in the back seat of a Toyota Hi-Lux. But the Cousin of the Mine King had other plans.

"Let's go meet some nomads."

A few hours later, we were in a tent sipping tea with a family of Balochistan borderland nomads. Compared to the destitute Ghazni nomads we had seen in Afghanistan, fleeing from the worst drought in the past 30 years, these ones were positively de luxe. The head of the family even tried to sell me a falcon: customers from the United Arab Emirates were snatching them at the time for as much as 1 million rupees.

The head nomad reveals himself to be an Afghan trader in the Punjab. His take on Afghanistan is extremely self-assured: the Taliban are falling apart, and the country has now split into three factions. All of them are responsible for the widespread destruction, as much as the whole population.

Back in Quetta, after the nomad warm-up, we are taken through a mud-brick labyrinth to a house in the middle of a desert wasteland. Kids swarm in the dusty "streets". One of them disappears inside a shack and emerges with a statue. And another. And then another. We are now contemplating the private collection of the Cousin of the Mine King. It features astonishing Greco-Buddhist boddhisatvas, hellenic arhats with their ribs protruding, and even part of a frieze. Some could be 3rd or 4th century, some even older. They are all pre-Bamiyan Buddhas.

The Cousin of the Mine King is naturally evasive. He would love to sell his collection to a Western museum - but can't get it out of the country. The Guimet Museum of Asian Arts in Paris had recently reopened after lavish restoration work worth $50 million; they would kill for this "private collection". He "obtained most of the statues from the Bamiyan valley". Some of them "came from the Kabul museum". The methods were effective: "We just went there and took them".

With the boddhisatvas still in our minds, the Cousin of the Mine King take us to meet the Great Man himself. We are ushered into his living room, decorated with a silk Qom almost the size of a tennis court, and worth the gross domestic product of whole Afghan provinces. The Mine King is a Baloch from the borderlands - a member of the Sanjirani tribe. He controls coal, onyx, marble and granite mines. And he goes straight to the point.

"Afghanistan is a tribal society. We should leave it like that." For him, the only solution for the country would be the return of King Zahir Shah: "But that was already proposed in the early 1990s. Now itดs too late." The Mine King regards the Taliban as "very nice people". But he worries about the future, considering the vast amount of weapons in the country: "If there is a total collapse in Afghanistan, the ashes will be coming straight to Pakistan" (how prophetic was he, 10 years ago?)

The Mine King waves us goodbye, dreaming of enjoying New York City nightlife. Then a few months passed. I always thought that somewhere in the wasteland outskirts of Quetta, a few Afghan Buddhas were still sleeping half-buried in the sand. Then in March 2001 I knew for sure they had escaped the fate of the Bamiyan Buddhas, bombed to ashes by the Taliban. But as the Mine King himself remarked, these ashes, brought by the winds, headed straight into Pakistan.


Ten years ago, and even by March 2001, not many people were fully aware that a geopolitical New Great Game was already unraveling in Central Asia. The Taliban were - and remain - just one of the (minor) players. They could obliterate Buddhist art that predates Islam itself. But Buddhism teaches us that everything is impermanent.

Ten years ago the Cousin of the Mine King could be the target of a few accusations; a few months later, he could be seen as a man who saved a significant part of the world heritage from the Taliban smashing ****. And more impermanence: considering Central Asian volatility, the bombers themselves, sooner rather than later, were reduced to ashes in the New Great Game.

Or were they? Ten years later, they seem to be stronger than ever. Against all the firepower of the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, they seem to believe they may even get their Talibanistan back. General Petraeus, go back to the future and eat your heart out.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 05, 2010, 07:34:36 am
Afghan progress slower than first hoped, general says

04 Sep 2010 14:42:27 GMT
Source: Reuters
By Paul Tait

KABUL, Sept 4 (Reuters) - International forces in Afghanistan have at times overstated the progress being made this year, the deputy commander of the NATO-led force said on Saturday, with advances coming slower than originally expected.

British Lieutenant-General Sir Nick Parker, second-in-command of the International Security Assistance Force behind U.S. General David Petraeus, said progress had been slowed by the complexity of the mission.

Petraeus has said in a range of interviews in recent weeks that progress was being made and that the Taliban's momentum had been checked, though violence across the country is at its worst since the hardline Islamists were ousted in late 2001.

Progress made is coming into sharper focus, with U.S. President Barack Obama to conduct a strategy review in December and public support for the war sagging amid record casualties.

For the past year, principally U.S. and British NATO forces have been pushing through Taliban strongholds in southern Helmand and Kandahar provinces, making painstaking progress through a network of valleys and mountains and seeking to counter a growing Taliban-led insurgency from all sides.

ISAF troops have faced stiff resistance since Operation Moshtarak began in late February, particularly around the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in the Helmand River valley.

"If you were to go back and listen to the sort of things we said in January and February, before Moshtarak started, I think we were probably a little bit over-enthusiastic," Parker told a small group of reporters in Kabul.

"I was, in some of the things I said, a little bit too positive in some respects," he said.


Military casualties have risen as the number of operations have grown, with more than 490 killed so far this year compared with 521 in all of 2009.

Parker said it had proven more difficult than expected to establish lasting government and development agencies, despite hopes for a new "government in a box" strategy to follow military operations in Marjah.

"That's nobody's fault, that's just the complexity of the environment we're operating in," Parker said.

On Tuesday, Petraeus said in an interview that his forces had taken a heavy toll on the Taliban leadership, but also acknowledged that the Islamists were fighting back and that their "footprint" had spread this year.

Petraeus commands close to 150,000 troops, most of them American, with the last elements of a surge of an extra 30,000 ordered by Obama now in place.

As part of the decision to send the extra troops, Obama also said U.S. forces would begin a gradual withdrawal from July 2011 if conditions on the ground -- primarily the readiness of Afghan forces to take over -- allowed.

U.S. commanders lately have sought to temper expectations of large withdrawals. Petraeus said the process would likely begin with a "thinning out" rather than any large-scale reduction and that the transition would initially be made at the district level rather than by province, as NATO members had discussed.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has also set an ambitious target of 2014 for Afghan forces to assume total security responsibility from foreign troops.

"It's entirely reasonable for us to work within that kind of guideline," Parker said.

He said that, despite the difficulties, ISAF troops were slowly beginning to establish secure areas that would allow government and development institutions to move in.

"We've got to be on the balls of our feet, ready to react properly as these trends start to manifest themselves," said Parker, who finishes his assignment at the end of September.

(Editing by Ralph Boulton)

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 05, 2010, 07:37:21 am
Outgoing NATO deputy rues early optimism on Marjah

Burned once, NATO second-in-command refuses to predict success in troubled Afghan province

AP News

Sep 04, 2010 10:32 EDT

NATO commanders were overly optimistic when they predicted quick success taking the key Taliban-held town of Marjah last winter, the outgoing deputy commander said Saturday.

There are now fledgling signs of a turnaround, but burned once by Marjah's unpredictability, the military will be more restrained in forecasting success, British Lt. Gen. Nick Parker told reporters at the headquarters of the NATO-led force.

U.S. Marines and Afghan troops overran Marjah, a major Taliban logistics center and opium poppy-growing community, last February and announced plans to stand up an effective Afghan administration. The idea was to develop Marjah as a model for counterinsurgency techniques in hopes other communities in Helmand province and elsewhere in the south would turn against the Taliban.

Instead, the Taliban have fought back with hidden bombs, ambushes, assassinations and intimidation, undercutting NATO's efforts to win public support. That has fueled doubts on Capitol Hill and among the American public that the Afghan war can be won.

Parker, who leaves his post at the end of this month, said it was "nobody's fault" that the Marjah campaign has gone slower than expected, but is simply a product of the "complexity of the environment we're operating in."

"I think we were probably a little bit over-enthusiastic," Parker said. He acknowledged that he himself was "a little bit too positive," because he wanted to stiffen the resolve of troops doing the fighting. "You want to convince people that what you're doing is right," he said.

He said only now is security beginning to take hold in a "persistent" way that allows the Afghan government to start functioning there. But he said no one should be drawing conclusions, or raising expectations that the positive security trends will continue.

"We've got to stay on the balls of our feet and react properly," to whatever happens, Parker said.

Nonetheless, Parker said it was reasonable to expect the Afghans will take charge of their own security in the next four to five years. President Hamid Karzai has said he wants Afghanistan's own forces to be in full charge nationwide by 2014.

President Barack Obama has promised to begin withdrawing American troops next July, although the administration says the pace will depend on security conditions then.

Parker said he "absolutely accepts that there would be a national debate" within the United States and other troop-continuing countries about their role in Afghanistan. The Dutch withdrew their combat troops last month and the Canadians plan to pull out next year.

Parker served as acting commander of the NATO-led force between the dismissal of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, whom Obama fired after comments by his staff critical of the White House appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, and the arrival of the new top commander, Gen. David Petraeus.

Parker said the turnover went remarkably smoothly, because McChrystal's "plan was so good," that it remained in place, with the addition of what he called, "Petraeus nuances."

Source: AP News

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 08, 2010, 05:59:57 am
South Asia
Sep 9, 2010 

AfPak and the new great game

By Pepe Escobar

Nine years ago - one day before Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, Lion of the Panjshir, was killed by two al-Qaeda jihadis disguised as journalists; and three days before 9/11 - who would have thought that Afghanistan would still be mired in a war of 150,000 United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops against 50 or 60 al-Qaeda jihadis plus a horde of Pashtun nationalists vaguely bundled up as "Taliban"? Not even the Bearded One upstairs who, by the way, according to Stephen Hawking, had nothing to do with creating this valley of tears we all inhabit.

Another year. Another 9/11 anniversary. The same Afghanistan war. It may not be the "war on terror" anymore - rebranded "overseas contingency operations" by the Barack Obama administration. It may have become Obama's "good war" - rebranded as AfPak and costing US taxpayers US$100 billion a year (and counting). But Obama still wallows in the mire of being a hostage to George W Bush's wars.

As much as Washington may entertain the illusion that it's in command, it's actually Hamid Karzai, the wily Afghan president, who is playing an attacking game in this latest installment of the New Great Game in Eurasia. And, as usual, there's never a mention anywhere of the key Pipelineistan game.

Round up the usual suspects
As it must be clear by now, Pakistan is essentially an army/intelligence establishment disguised as a country. The army/Inter-Services Intelligence tandem has been and will always be pro-Taliban. Anyone who believes the tandem will "reform" - with or without billions of dollars of US aid - believes in the Easter bunny.

For Islamabad it's still - and will always be - about "strategic depth", the doctrine that rules Afghanistan as a privileged Pakistani-controlled backyard (that's exactly what it was between 1992, at the start of the intra-mujahideen wars, till the end of the Taliban "government" in 2001).

Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kiani - a darling of the Pentagon - has been granted a three-year extension to his mandate. Karzai took no time to duly note the obvious: Kiani will continue to pull all stops to be the top dog in Kabul. So he must be accommodated.

All of this, considering that the utmost objective for the Pakistan army remains to collect more nuclear weapons in view of that particular South Asian version of Armageddon - a do-or-die confrontation with visceral enemy India.

For all his infinite shenanigans, Karzai has - correctly - concluded that US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) firepower and General David Petraeus' COIN-drenched operations will never defeat the resistance-to-foreigners fighting umbrella commonly described as "Taliban".

Karzai has also sensed that Obama's Afghan strategy is in tatters. Inside the US, Republicans - with their eyes on capturing congress in November's elections - will go on overdrive to portray the president as a non-military wimp, while the Pentagon will force him to back off his imposed July 2011 deadline for the beginning of a transition to a measure of Afghan sovereignty. And all this while Petraeus sells the current Afghan surge as a "victory", as he did with the Iraqi version, thus burnishing his CV with a view to a run for the White House in 2012.

As more than anything he is committed to perpetuating himself in power, Karzai saw which way the wind was blowing and has decided to cultivate his own garden, and improve relations with his two key neighbors east and west - Pakistan and Iran. He has seen the future as a power-sharing deal in Kabul with no Americans involved.

Thus Karzai's formal announcement this past weekend of a High Peace Council tasked with engaging in peace talks with the Taliban. The idea had been approved three months ago by a jirga in Kabul including 1,600 tribal, religious and political leaders from a few Afghan provinces. Karzai basically wants to seduce Taliban foot soldiers with cash and job offers in the administration machine, and Taliban leaders with asylum in selected Muslim countries.

One is bound to expect all the usual suspects engage in the travesty of being peace council members. They include former mujahideen leader Burhanuddin Rabbani (to whom Massoud was subordinated); former Saudi-connected mujahid Abdul Rasul Sayyaf (suspected until today of having a role in Massoud's assassination); and certainly a higher-up from the Hizb-i-Islami, led by former mujahid Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the only prime minister in history (in the mid-1990s) to have bombed his own capital.

Hizb-i-Islami and the Taliban - although extremely suspicious of each other - are more or less fighting for the same objective, ie the expulsion of the "foreign invaders". The Taliban are more predominant exactly where US and NATO troops are concentrating - in Helmand and Kandahar provinces, while Hizb is strongest in the north and eastern provinces.

What's left of this Karzai-engineered gambit is the Taliban agenda. Taliban leader Mullah Omar - invisible somewhere near Quetta, capital of Pakistan's Balochistan province - wants the invaders out immediately, and his unlimited power back. There's no chance in heaven - or hell - he'll fraternize with Karzai over a goat's head/Kabuli rice banquet.

Moreover, Karzai certainly won't seduce what remains of al-Qaeda. There are no more than 60 Arab al-Qaeda jihadis in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal area, along with a few Uzbeks, Chechens and Turks. And there are around 50 Arab al-Qaeda jihadis who have crossed the border to Afghanistan - more or less the same estimate expressed by US Central Intelligence Agency supremo Leon Panetta over two months ago.

So essentially Washington is spending tsunamis of cash to fight a bunch of Arab jihadi instructors. Worse; what the US/NATO are actually fighting is a remixed version of the anti-Soviet 1980s jihad - a liberation war against foreign invasion.

Then there's the complicating factor of the Pakistani Taliban. There's hardly a day when their top spokesman, Qari Hussain Mehsud, does not issue threats. He has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed at least 50 Shi'ites in Quetta last Friday. He has insisted "targets" now comprise not only the "foreign invaders" but Shi'ites as well, and has promised attacks inside Europe and the US.

What is certain is that attacks in Peshawar, Quetta and Lahore (which, for the Pakistani Taliban, is like New York for al-Qaeda) are bound to intensify. For Islamabad, the riddle is how to dismantle the collaborative network involving al-Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban, the anti-Shi'ite Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the anti-Iran, Balochistan-based Jundallah. But Karzai is not worried about any of this; he believes he now has a masterplan to "secure" Afghanistan.

All about Pipelineistan
What the Islamabad establishment wants for Afghanistan is diametrically opposed to India's interests. So no wonder India is counter-attacking - by improving its relations with both Russia and Iran.

For Russia, the key national security challenge in Afghanistan is not so much the spread of Talibanization to Central Asia; rather it's the massive heroin trafficking that is corrupting and devastating Russian youth. Moreover, instead of just gleefully watching the US flounder in its own quagmire - Afghanistan as a new Vietnam - Russia has also decided to unleash its own version of nation-building in Afghanistan, investing in infrastructure and natural resources while making some money on the side.

As for the India-Iran rapprochement, it is inevitable even with the avalanche of cumulative United Nations/US/European Union sanctions against Tehran - as New Delhi is actively encouraging Indian companies to invest in the Iranian energy sector, and the Foreign Ministry has made it a priority to engage Iran diplomatically. Russian, Indian and Turkish companies - they have all spectacularly ignored Western sanctions and will continue to trade with Iran.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Team B-style outfits such as the Afghanistan study group - which releases its report on Wednesday [1] - multiply their efforts in trying to find a way out of the Afghan quagmire. But for all their intellectual firepower, there is not a word about one of the absolutely key reasons for the US to be in Afghanistan: Pipelineistan (the other key reason is of course the Pentagon's crush on maintaining bases to monitor/survey both "strategic competitors" China and Russia).

We're back once again to the TAPI vs IPI Pipelineistan "war"; TAPI as the natural gas pipeline from Turkmenistan crossing Afghanistan to Islamabad and then India, and IPI as the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline.

In a few days, as Turkmenistan officials are spinning, there may be a potentially crucial meeting in Ashgabat, when TAPI officials from all four countries may lay down the basics for a pipeline deal (if built only as TAP, the pipeline would be 2,000 kilometers long and cost $7 billion).

But while TAP or TAPI is an eternal pipe dream, the $7.5 billion, 1,100-kilometer-long IP is already rolling. That's what Iran and Pakistan announced over two months ago, with operations starting in 2014. This proves, once again, that Western sanctions against Iran also don't mean a thing to Pakistan - as its energy needs are a vital matter of national security trumping Washington's designs.

And the same applies to India. New Delhi's pragmatic leaders cannot possibly believe that TAPI will ever see the light of day. It's also crucial to remember that IP was originally IPI - the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline, widely dubbed in Southwest Asia as "the peace pipeline". India pulled out because of - what else - relentless Washington pressure. But now India is back on the table - discussing not only IPI but a second, although remote, possibility - an underwater II (Iran-India) pipeline.

New Delhi very well knows that China is salivating with the prospect of a northern extension of IP, alongside the Karakoram highway, towards Xinjiang in western China. Already Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has suggested that if India keeps on wobbling, this will be the Iran-Pakistan-China pipeline.

The next contours of the New Great Game in Eurasia widely reside on who will win in these Pipelineistan wars involving Central Asia, South Asia and Southwest Asia. Considering the accumulated Western package of sanctions/blockades/embargoes, the ball would be on Iran's court to fight tremendous odds and upgrade its technology, build IP or IPI, and guarantee natural gas flowing non-stop.

Any moves against Iran will be seen all across Asia as an attack against the Asia Energy Security Grid; a classic, Pipelineistan-configured, war of Washington against Asian integration. As for the competing option, it's pure surrealism; who can possibly believe Karzai will convince the Taliban not to profit from the same pipeline the Americans wanted to build before they decided to bomb the Taliban out of power?

1. Click here.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 08, 2010, 07:20:49 am
The American Occupation of Afghanistan and the Birth of a National Liberation Movement

By Prof. Marc W. Herold
Global Research, September 7, 2010

Edited Transcript of a Public lecture by professor Marc Herold, Massachussetts Institute of Technology M.I.T., Cambridge, Mass. August 2010


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 08, 2010, 07:35:23 am
Al-Qaida and Taliban threat is exaggerated, says security thinktank

Strategy institute challenges idea that troops are needed in Afghanistan to stop export of terrorism to west

BY  Richard Norton-Taylor,
Tuesday 7 September 2010 15.49 BST


Taliban fighters in the northen Afghanistan province of Baghlan. Photograph: Ghaith Abdul Ahad for the Guardian

The threat posed by al-Qaida and the Taliban is exaggerated and the western-led counter-insurgency campaign in Afghanistan risks becoming a "long, drawn-out disaster", one of the world's leading security thinktanks warned today.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the west's counter-insurgency strategy has "ballooned" out of proportion to the original aim of preventing al-Qaida from mounting terrorist attacks there, and must be replaced by a less ambitious but more sensible policy of "containment and deterrence".

The critique of the US- and British-backed military policy is contained in the latest strategic survey from the IISS, a respected but usually uncontroversial body. IISS officers made clear today they have departed from their normal practice because of the serious threat to the west's security interests in pursuing the current Afghan strategy.

In an effort to ignite a fresh debate and bring about a new approach towards Afghanistan, they challenge claims, not least from David Cameron, that the presence of thousands of British troops in Afghanistan is necessary to prevent al-Qaida from returning and thus increasing the threat to the UK.

"It is not clear why it should be axiomatically obvious that an Afghanistan freed of an international combat presence in the south would be an automatic magnet for al-Qaida's concentrated reconstruction," the IISS director-general, John Chipman, said.

Al-Qaida is now "engaged in Pakistan in very small numbers", not remotely comparable to the situation in Afghanistan pre-September 2001, Nigel Inkster, an IISS director and former deputy chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, said. No such threat is likely to come from al-Qaida elsewhere, including Yemen and Somalia, he added.

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 09, 2010, 06:02:24 am
Published on Wednesday, September 8, 2010 by The Washington Post

Finding A Way Out of Afghanistan

by Katrina vanden Heuvel

Team B efforts have long played an influential role in determining the outcome of intra-elite debates on critical national security issues. In the 1970s, the CIA's Team B report on Soviet military capabilities, together with the work of the Committee on the Present Danger, encouraged the Carter administration away from détente and toward an arms race with Moscow. And the Project for the New American Century, led by William Kristol and a passel of neo-cons, was influential in swaying the Bush administration toward the invasion of Iraq.

A Team B report to be formally released tomorrow by the Afghanistan Study Group [1] -- an ad hoc group of former government officials, well-known academics and policy experts assembled by the New America Foundation [2] -- has the potential to be similarly influential. At a moment when the administration and too many members of Congress have failed to explore alternatives to Gen. David Petraeus's counterinsurgency strategy, the importance of this clear and cogent report can't be overstated.

The report offers a thorough analysis of why and how we must dramatically reduce America's footprint in our nation's longest and most expensive war. Although the war is justified by its proponents as an effort to eradicate al-Qaeda, the report notes that "there are only some 400 hard-core al-Qaeda members remaining in the entire Af-Pak theater, most of them hiding in Pakistan's northwest provinces."

Meanwhile, the war costs U.S. taxpayers approximately $100 billion a year -- about seven times Afghanistan's annual gross domestic product of $14 billion and more than the cost of the Obama administration's health-care plan. Considering that price tag alongside the number of troops killed or seriously wounded, the report concludes that "the U.S. interests at stake in Afghanistan do not warrant this level of sacrifice."

Matthew Hoh, a former U.S. Marine and Afghanistan-based State Department official who resigned his post in protest [3] last year and now serves as director of the study group, elaborated on the flawed strategy in a conversation with me. "Since 2005, as we put more troops and money into this effort, the U.S. and NATO have been expanding their presence throughout Afghanistan and trying to expand the reach of the Afghan central government," Hoh said. "But since then, all we have seen is more casualties, more combat, increased support for the Taliban and decreased support for the Karzai government."

The study group encourages policymakers to reconceptualize the conflict. Rather than a struggle between Hamid Karzai's central government and a Taliban/terrorist insurgency, it is in fact a civil war about power-sharing across ethnic, geographic and sectarian lines. With that in mind, the report recommends a strategy that downsizes and eventually ends U.S. military operations and keeps the focus on al-Qaeda, while at the same time encouraging political power-sharing, economic development and diplomatic engagement by other countries in the region.

Rep. Michael Honda (D-Calif.), chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus's Afghanistan Taskforce, told me this report is critical, "given Washington's near-silence on alternatives to" the current strategy. Honda and his taskforce colleagues have called for the creation of a congressionally mandated Af-Pak Study Group [4].,92&lnk=b&ItemID=643

Indeed, Hoh said the goal of the report is to lay the groundwork for funding of a bipartisan congressional study group by March, ensuring that an alternative to the Pentagon's strategy is available when the administration's flexible deadline to begin withdrawing troops arrives in July 2011. In these next critical months, the study group will focus on establishing itself as a counterpoint to the status quo approach to the war, reaching out to legislators across party lines in an effort to develop a bipartisan consensus. Members will also make themselves available to news media, which have in their coverage of the war too often failed to include the views of experts who oppose the White House/Petraeus strategy. I hope this report will also be used as an organizing vehicle by peace and justice groups who have been calling for a similar change in course.

It seems certain that Petraeus's December report to Congress and the administration will argue that his counterinsurgency strategy is new and must be given time. The study group's members challenge that notion.

"People have to understand this is not a new strategy from Gen. Petraeus," Hoh said. "We don't 'finally have it right.' We've been saying that for years now. All we're doing is adding more troops, which is just making the problem larger. Just because Gen. Petraeus got there a couple months ago doesn't mean the clock should be reset."

The administration's strategy is flawed and is costing too much in treasure and lives. This report offers a clear alternative that is in our national security interest.

© 2010 The Washington Post
Katrina vanden Heuvel is editor of The Nation [5].



Article printed from

URL to article:

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 09, 2010, 06:28:36 am
South Asia
Sep 10, 2010 
There's another side to Obama's COIN

By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON - Amid continued high levels of violence and a steady stream of reports of high-level government corruption in Kabul, a growing number of foreign policy specialists are urging United States President Barack Obama to reconsider his counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy in Afghanistan.

In a new report released on Wednesday, a bipartisan group of three dozen former senior officials, academics, and policy analysts argued that the administration's ambitious "nation-building" efforts in Afghanistan were costing too much in US blood and treasure and that, in any event, "prospects for success are dim".

Calling for an accelerated timetable for reducing the US military presence, the "Afghanistan Study Group", which also urged intensified efforts to reach a negotiated solution with the Pashtun-based Taliban, echoed many of the points made in the latest strategic survey that was released by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London on Tuesday.

"As the military surge reaches its peak and begins to wind down, it is necessary and advisable for outside powers to move to a containment and deterrence policy to deal with the international terrorist threat from the Afghan/Pakistan border regions," said IISS's director general John Chipman in introducing this year's report.

"At present, the COIN strategy is too ambitious, too removed from the core security goals that need to be met, and too sapping of diplomatic and military energies needed both in the region and elsewhere," he noted. "For Western states to be pinned down militarily and psychologically in Afghanistan will not be in the service of their wider political and security interests."

The two reports come amid growing public skepticism both in the United States and its European and North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners - two of which, Canada and the Netherlands, have just withdrawn all of their troops - about the course of the war, which will soon mark its ninth anniversary. Currently costing US taxpayers US$100 billion a year, the Afghan war became the longest in US history this summer when it exceeded the Vietnam conflict.

Despite the appointment in June of General David Petraeus, the author of the US COIN strategy in Iraq, to head US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, two out of three respondents in a recent CNN poll said they believed Washington was "not winning" the war. Half said the war could not be won.

Sixty-eight percent of respondents in a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll taken last month said they were "less confident" that the war would be brought to a "successful conclusion" - a striking increase from the 58% who took that view last December. Only 23% said they were "more confident".


The increasingly sour mood is no doubt due in part to the preoccupation with the economy and growing political support in both parties for cutting the yawning government deficit, of which the $100 billion spent on Afghanistan is not an insignificant part.

But the persistent high casualty rates - this year's total US military death toll, 331, already exceeds 2009's high of 317 - has also contributed to the growing popular conviction that the war is simply not worth the cost.

Meanwhile, the virtually daily reports of high-level corruption in the government of President Hamid Karzai - this past week, major stories have featured the run on the politically well-connected Bank of Kabul - have persuaded a growing number of people, including members of the foreign policy elite and even a number of normally hawkish Republicans, that Washington simply lacks the kind of local partner that any true COIN campaign requires to prevail.

Released as congress returns to Washington after the long August recess, the Afghanistan Study Group's report, entitled "A New Way Forward: Rethinking US Strategy in Afghanistan", appears designed to provoke debate about US policy during the mid-term election campaign and in the run-up to a formal review in December by the Obama administration of how its COIN strategy is faring.

On the advice of Petraeus and the Pentagon, Obama has increased the number of US troops deployed to Afghanistan from some 35,000 when he took office in January 2009 to about 100,000 today. He has vowed to begin withdrawing troops in July 2011, although the pace at which they will be withdrawn has not yet been determined and remains a source of considerable contention within the administration.

The administration has been split for some time. The so-called COINistas have argued for a major "nation-building" effort combined with a military campaign directed against the Taliban that they depict as inseparable from al-Qaeda. Others within the administration, reportedly led by Vice President Joseph Biden, have argued for a less ambitious counter-terrorism campaign (CT) aimed more narrowly against al-Qaeda on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border.

In that respect, the Study Group, whose membership spanned the political spectrum from the Democratic left to the libertarian right but was weighted most heavily towards "realists" who until George W Bush generally dominated the post-World War II foreign policy elite, is aligned more closely with the CT advocates.

Quoting former US statesman and arch-realist Henry Kissinger, the report noted that "Afghanistan has never been pacified by foreign forces" and that "waging a lengthy counter-insurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarrelling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the US economy, and prevent the US government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems."

"We've been creating enemies faster than friends," noted Paul Pillar, who served as the US Central Intelligence Agency's national intelligence officer for the Middle East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, at the report's release at the New America Foundation (NAF). Complaining of a "disconnect" between the conduct of the war and the US aim of destroying and disabling al-Qaeda, he described the US intervention in Afghanistan as "a nine-year-long mission creep".

The report called instead for a five-pronged strategy that would "fast-track a peace process designed to decentralize power within Afghanistan and encourage a power-sharing balance among the principal parties"; intensify diplomatic efforts with Afghanistan's neighbors and others "to guarantee Afghan neutrality and foster regional stability"; and lead an international effort to develop the country's economy.

Obama, it said, should "firmly stick to his pledge to begin withdrawing US forces in the summer of 2011 - and earlier if possible. US force levels should decline to the minimum level needed to help train Afghan security forces, prevent massive human-rights atrocities, resist an expansion of Taliban control beyond the Pashtun south, and engage in robust counter-terrorism operations as needed."

In particular, US forces should maintain their capabilities "to seek out known al-Qaeda cells in the region and be ready to go after them should they attempt to relocate elsewhere or build new training facilities," the report said. "Al-Qaeda is no longer a significant presence in Afghanistan, and there are only some 400 **** al-Qaeda members remaining in the entire Af/Pak theater, most of them hiding in Pakistan's northwest provinces."

Besides Pillar, other signers of the report included Gordon Adams, a top White House budget official for national security under the Bill Clinton administration who is currently with the Stimson Center; Steve Clemons, the head of NAF's American Security program; Patrick Cronin, a senior adviser at the Center for a New American Security; W Patrick Lang, who served as the top Middle East/South Asia officer in the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency during the 1990s; Selig Harrison, an Afghan specialist at the Center for International Policy; and Stephen Walt, a Harvard University scholar considered a leader of the "realist" school of international relations.

Jim Lobe's blog on US foreign policy can be read at

(Inter Press Service) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 09, 2010, 06:31:43 am
South Asia
Sep 10, 2010 
Taliban winning hearts - and more

By Habiburrahman Ibrahimi

Abdullah, 27, sings under his breath as he waters his pomegranate farm, his face shining with sweat and happiness.

Explaining the reason for his good mood, Abdullah says that after years of struggling financially, he is looking forward to getting married at last.

Three years ago, he leased out his land to get the US$5,000 he needed to pay for the engagement ceremony. That left him with no money for the actual marriage. He went to Iran to look for work, but was arrested as an illegal immigrant and imprisoned for four months before being deported.

Now his money worries have been resolved thanks to a local decree from the Taliban restricting the cost of weddings.

"With God's grace, the Taliban have imposed a new rule that the bride-price rate should not exceed $3,800," he said. "I have already gathered that much money and if God wills it, I will sell my pomegranates and get married.

"Now my father-in-law can't charge me too much because this Taliban order isn't like one from the [Hamid] Karzai government - it's a strict order which no one can disobey.”

Grooms in Afghanistan are customarily required to pay money to the bride's family, the amount typically varying from $2,000 to $20,000. The husband's family also has to pay for the engagement and marriage ceremonies, often costing $4,000 or $5,000 each.

Such sums are difficult to find in this cash-strapped society, and many young men go abroad to work, risking imprisonment, deportation and even death.

The Taliban edict, issued some two months ago in the Tagab district of Kapisa province, north of Kabul, reflects the growing presence of the insurgent movement in areas that until recently were deemed relatively secure.

As in other areas, the Taliban are seeking to boost their credibility by offering their own form of Islamic justice and governance as an alternative to the Western-backed government.

The marriage payment edict has gone down well in an impoverished area where most people survive by growing pomegranates.

Walking on crutches, Gul Ahmad, 25, recounts how he tried to cross illegally to the Gulf in search of work. "When I got engaged, the girl's father demanded a bride price of $7,000 and I decided to go to Dubai [in the United Arab Emirates], like many other young men. We faced lots of problems - hunger, thirst and illness. One of my colleagues died in the desert, and I broke my leg."

Sighing deeply, he said, "Now, thanks to the Taliban, they have decided that no one can demand more money. This is a very big help that the Taliban have given young people."

As well as setting the highest allowable bride-price at $3,800, with offenders facing a $2,000 fine - the Taliban have banned other costly practices surrounding marriage, including one known locally as takbir, where up to 50 people visit the bride's family to receive food and presents, and the gahwara or "cradle" custom by which the bride's family offer expensive gifts when she has her first child.

"In the Sifder area, a family decided to take gifts to the girl's family on Shab-e Barat [Muslim holiday, this year July 26]," said Tagab resident Mohammad Idris. "They took a big healthy sheep with them, but on the way the Taliban stopped them, destroyed the gifts, fined the family $50 and told them to go and eat the sheep in their own home."

Idris added, "A family living near the center of Tagab district practiced the old custom of takbir. The Taliban sent them a warning and the family paid $100 and apologized for violating the new rule."

Local government chief for the Tagab district Abdul Hakim Akhundzada said that even if the Taliban ruling was not strictly in line with sharia or Islamic law, there were benefits in curbing excessive customs.

"I too believe that eliminating certain unnecessary customs that create problems for people is a good thing," he said.

Mohammad Akbar, a religious scholar, said that Islamic law did not prescribe maximum limits for the bride price.

"The lower limit for the payment in Islam is 10 dirham or $150," he said. "But the top limit is not defined. It isn't a sin if both families agree on a higher payment, but the money should be given to the girl, not to her family. If the family gets the money, that's against sharia."

A Taliban representative in Tagab, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision was made after consultations with religious leaders.

"We saw that many young people were unable to get married because of the high bride price, and were therefore getting involved in criminal activities like gambling, adultery, robbery murder and so on," he said. "So we placed a limit on the bride price to ease the burden on people."

Habibullah Rafai, a political and social affairs analyst, argued that whatever the social impact of the Taliban ruling, it was essentially a tactic to build local support.

"This move by the Taliban also has a political aspect to it," he said. "They want to gain the support of unmarried young men and thus win over the hearts of the people," he said.

Rafai said the Taliban ruling could have been pre-empted if the Afghan government had taken the initiative and clamped down on superfluous traditions.

For some Afghan men, the high cost of weddings means they can never marry.

Abdul Ahmad, now 70, is among them - after his father's death, it was left to him to raise his brothers and sisters. By the time they were grown up, he says, it was too late for him to marry.

"I still harbor huge regrets in my heart about marriage," he said. "I wish everyone was able to get married."

Abdul Ahmad has lived in his brother's home ever since, but it is not his own. "If I'd married and had my own home, my own son and daughter, I wouldn't be at such a disadvantage now," he said. "It's over for me, but let other young people's wishes come true. I wish there had been Taliban like this in our day."

Habiburrahman Ibrahimi is an IWPR-trained journalist.

(This article originally appeared in Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Used with permission.) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 09, 2010, 07:55:55 am
US soldiers 'killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies'

by Chris McGreal

Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield are four of the five Stryker soldiers who face murder charges. Photograph: Public Domain

September 8, 2010

Soldiers face trial over secret 'kill team' which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war

Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.

In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.

According to investigators and legal documents, discussion of killing Afghan civilians began after the arrival of Staff Sergeant Calvin Gibbs at forward operating base Ramrod last November. Other soldiers told the army's criminal investigation command that Gibbs boasted of the things he got away with while serving in Iraq and said how easy it would be to "toss a grenade at someone and kill them".

One soldier said he believed Gibbs was "feeling out the platoon".

Investigators said Gibbs, 25, hatched a plan with another soldier, Jeremy Morlock, 22, and other members of the unit to form a "kill team". While on patrol over the following months they allegedly killed at least three Afghan civilians. According to the charge sheet, the first target was Gul Mudin, who was killed "by means of throwing a fragmentary grenade at him and shooting him with a rifle", when the patrol entered the village of La Mohammed Kalay in January.

Morlock and another soldier, Andrew Holmes, were on guard at the edge of a poppy field when Mudin emerged and stopped on the other side of a wall from the soldiers. Gibbs allegedly handed Morlock a grenade who armed it and dropped it over the wall next to the Afghan and dived for cover. Holmes, 19, then allegedly fired over the wall.

Later in the day, Morlock is alleged to have told Holmes that the killing was for fun and threatened him if he told anyone.

The second victim, Marach Agha, was shot and killed the following month. Gibbs is alleged to have shot him and placed a Kalashnikov next to the body to justify the killing. In May Mullah Adadhdad was killed after being shot and attacked with a grenade.

The Army Times reported that a least one of the soldiers collected the fingers of the victims as souvenirs and that some of them posed for photographs with the bodies.

Five soldiers – Gibbs, Morlock, Holmes, Michael Wagnon and Adam Winfield – are accused of murder and aggravated assault among other charges. All of the soldiers have denied the charges. They face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.

The killings came to light in May after the army began investigating a brutal assault on a soldier who told superiors that members of his unit were smoking hashish. The Army Times reported that members of the unit regularly smoked the drug on duty and sometimes stole it from civilians.

The soldier, who was straight out of basic training and has not been named, said he witnessed the smoking of hashish and drinking of smuggled alcohol but initially did not report it out of loyalty to his comrades. But when he returned from an assignment at an army headquarters and discovered soldiers using the shipping container in which he was billeted to smoke hashish he reported it.

Two days later members of his platoon, including Gibbs and Morlock, accused him of "snitching", gave him a beating and told him to keep his mouth shut. The soldier reported the beating and threats to his officers and then told investigators what he knew of the "kill team".

Following the arrest of the original five accused in June, seven other soldiers were charged last month with attempting to cover up the killings and violent assault on the soldier who reported the smoking of hashish. The charges will be considered by a military grand jury later this month which will decide if there is enough evidence for a court martial. Army investigators say Morlock has admitted his involvement in the killings and given details about the role of others including Gibbs. But his lawyer, Michael Waddington, is seeking to have that confession suppressed because he says his client was interviewed while under the influence of prescription drugs taken for battlefield injuries and that he was also suffering from traumatic brain injury.

"Our position is that his statements were incoherent, and taken while he was under a cocktail of drugs that shouldn't have been mixed," Waddington told the Seattle Times.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 09, 2010, 08:07:14 am
Eid Message from Mullah Omar

by Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid

Message of Felicitation of the Esteemed Amir-ul-Momineen, on the Eve of Eid-ul-Fitr

September 8, 2010

Praise be to Allah in whose hands is the dominion and all affairs, the Creator, the Evolver, the Giver of life and death. We sincerely believe in His Oneness and Him alone, we worship. He has no partners. We ask Allah to shower His blessing and favors on the prophet, the generous one who was sent as a mercy for all creations. We witness that he conveyed the Message and fulfilled the mission and ameliorated the Ummah; dispelled the cloud and left the Ummah on a white screen. No one deviates from it but annihilates himself. May Allah (SwT) reward the prophet, the best rewards ever given to any prophet on behalf of his followers? Blessing of Allah and peace be upon him, his descendants and his companions, the chosen ones.

After this, I would like to say:

Peace , mercy and blessing of Allah be on the Muslim Mujahid nation, the suffering families of martyrs, and prisoners, the gallant Mujahideen of the path of Jihad and sacrifice, all those who have been detained by the invading infidels on charges of their struggling for independence and on all Islamic Ummah,.

I extend my felicitation to you all on the eve of Eid-ul-fitr and pray to Allah (SwT) to accept in His sight your fast, worship and sacrifices in the way of Truth.

Availing myself of this opportunity of the auspicious occasion, I want to share with you some specific points regarding the current Jihad, the political situation and my ensuing actions and policies.

1. a) O Muslim Mujahid Nation of Afghanistan!

The current Jihad and resistance in Afghanistan against the foreign invaders and their puppets, is a legitimate Jihad, being waged for the defense of the sovereignty of the Islamic country and Islam. The expansion, momentum and success of this Jihadic resistance rightly signify that it is a country-wide, independent and holy resistance of the masses and has now approached close to its destination of victory thanks to the help of Allah (SwT) and your innumerous sacrifices. So you should strive to lay aside all your internal differences, agrarian and residential lands disputes and other grievances. Put all your strength and planning behind the task of driving away the invaders and regaining independence of the country. The history has it that whenever invading forces face defeat, they sow seed of differences in the occupied territories before their pull-out and leave behind various conflicts. The Americans now are passing through this stage. Therefore, robustly focus on foiling all conspiracies of the enemy which are aimed at creating mistrust and separation between Mujahideen and the people or igniting the fire of internal fighting through formation of militias or launching fake process of elections with the prior knowledge that every thing has already been decided and finalized in Washington or the convening of the spurious Jirga by gathering some sycophant government employees or other similar conspiracies, Convince all those who are involved in these conspiracies unknowingly or lured by financial incentives. Strictly prevent them from perpetrating such activates.

I assure you, our days of sufferings and hardship will not prolong furthermore. Soon, if God willing, our grieved hearts will find solace as the invading enemy is ousted and the Islamic sovereignty is established. All our noble country men, whether be they an engineer, a doctor, a student of a school or of a religious Madrassa, whether he is a teacher or a cleric, a professor or religious scholar hailing from any tribe and ethnicity, will all work together like brothers in an independent country with strong Islamic government established on the basis of the aspirations of the people.

"Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power) as He granted it to those before, them, that He will establish in authority their religion- the one which He has chosen for them, and that He will change (their state) after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace. They will worship me (alone) and not associate aught with me. If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked. ( S. 24. A 55. )

1. b) Mujahid Brothers!

Through your strong determination and faith, you succeeded to foil all conspiracies and machinations of the global infidel power. The Almighty Allah has favored you with victory over all your invading enemies thanks to your steadfastness and perseverance, effacing the aura of shock and awe of the powerful enemy. This was made possible due to your sincere Jihad and sacrifices. Today, America is regarded as a most hated force and faces humiliations and disgrace. We see now that the more you gain the upper hand over the enemy forces, the more their ranks and files become disarrayed and disorganized. Those military experts who have framed strategies of the invasion of Afghanistan or are now engaged in hammering out new strategies, admit themselves that all their strategies are nothing but a complete failure. All those experienced and sophisticated generals who were sent to the battle field, now are being sent back disgracefully and humiliatingly because of their incompetence and even they are given various nicknames. Other foreign forces which have come here for occupation of our country under the American umbrella are now under pressures from their people due to the growing and heavy military expenditures, casualties and the fruitlessness of the war. Each of them is hastily seeking ways of exit from Afghanistan. Therefore, my Mujahid brothers, if you want to gain more success in the field of the battles, you should try to reform your conduct and deeds; respect your Jihadic goals and pay attention to all-sided welfare and prosperity of your suffering but brave people. By maintaining an ever-growing unity and brotherhood among yourself, you shall not permit any one to set the stage for discord and differences among you on the instruction of the enemy. Do not waste your time on maligning each other but , on the contrary, direct all your efforts for improvement of Jihadic affairs, defense of Islam and the country; the thrashing of the enemy, serving and protecting your people. Take every caution to protect life, property of people and public installations. Do not regard people as an entity separate from you; respect all former pious Mujahideeen; strictly implement the book of the code of conduct which has already been given to you; use successful and complicated tactics during confrontation with the enemy; be aware to pay attention to the protection of Mujahideen; obey your superiors and conduct affairs through mutual consultation. Try to nip in the bud all plans and conspiracies and propaganda of the enemy. Do not allow any one to commit activities under the name of a Mujahid that malign the name of Mujahideen and be cautious not to harass people on mere pretexts and baseless reports. It is a part of the enemy plan to create problems and distrust between Mujahideen and the people. Encourage all soldiers, policemen and employees in the enemy administration to leave their ranks and, instead, stand with their Mujahid people. Give warm welcome to heroic youth like Talib Hussain, Gulbuddin and Ghulam Sakhi who killed many invaders in Gereshk, Nad Ali, Badghis and Mazar Sharif and committed heroic deeds by resorting to tactical attacks. Persuade others to strike the infidel enemy by following their steps. However, be aware of intentions of your inner self as you do this and make the pleasure of the Almighty Allah as your sole goal in all your Jihadic activities.

1. c) To Religious Scholars, Statesmen, Teachers, Writers and Poets.

You are the very caste of the society that have the capacity to portray the wants and aspirations of the people. It is your Islamic and national duty to expose the atrocities of the invaders and put them before human rights organizations and public of the world. Enlighten people on the American invasion by unveiling the realities and facts. Inform them about the overt and covert conspiracies of the enemy; explain to them the fundamentals and benefits of Islamic system; educate the new generation in a constructive way, saving them from the impact of foreign dogmas and culture; teach them unity and harmony; inform the local leaders of Jihad of the grievances of people and convey the intentions of Mujahideen to the people. You are a bridge between the Islamic Emirate and the people. So it must be. Because through such a mechanism, , all errors and mistakes should be corrected whenever they crop up. I call on you to assist the Islamic Emirate to bring about a blemish-free Jihadic and Islamic atmosphere.

1. d) To Former Mujahideen and Employees who Work in the Kabul Administration.

In these auspicious days of Eid-ul- Fitre, I invite you once again to come and stand with your nation like other former gallant Mujahideen have , and with their help, participate in the glory of repelling the American invasion and regaining the independence. Come and ponder over the conduct of the invading Americans in the light of your conscience, sagacity and insight that what they do with your so-called elected president , members of parliament, with you and in short, with the suffering people. They call you as warlords and unscrupulous persons. You may have heard that the officials in the presidential palace directly receive payments from CIA. Then what is the rational behind your working under their command.

If you claim that you have joined the ranks of the invading Americans( under duress) because there were flaws and faults in the manner of the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate, then come and correct those faults yourself after joining the ranks of your Mujahideen brothers. Thus, by forming a strong cemented Jihadic rank, yourselves become a participant in the (great) task of forcing out the invading infidels. Do you think that your responsibility to defend your country and the holy religion’s rituals was only limited to Jihad against the Russians? But today, instead of resistance, you have chosen to stand with the invaders against your Muslim nation in a time that your country has been invaded by the Americans and other 48 infidel countries, harassing, debasing and threatening you and the Afghan people. Could this be the decision of your conscience and the product of your Afghan honor-loving character? Know that the Americans have come here to colonize Afghanistan and plunder its natural resources. They would never become your friends. Had there not been the fear of Mujahideen hovering over them, they would have debased you and humiliated you more than that you are now.

All those who work in the stooge Kabul Administration should hear with open ears that the invading enemy is about to leave Afghanistan due to the Jihad of the Afghan Muslim people, so before you have to face the fate of Najib, Babrak and Shah Shuja on charges of collaboration with the foreigners or in order to save yourselves from the said humiliating destiny, you should abandon the support of the invaders and join the ranks of Muajhideen by repenting of your past deeds.

If you are not able to join them, then by abandoning the support of the infidel, choose a peaceful life along with your children in your houses, taking advantage of the amnesty and security offered ( to you) by the Mujahideen. Thus save yourselves from shame in this world and the world to come.

e) Regarding the Upcoming System of the Country.

The victory of our Islamic nation over the invading infidels is now imminent and the driving force behind this is the belief in the help of Allah (SwT) and unity among ourselves. In the time to come, we will try to establish an Islamic, independent, perfect and strong system on the basis of these principles – a system with economic , security, legal, educational and judicial aspects being based on the injunctions of Islam and conducted through a consultative body joined by persons with experience, knowledge and expertise. All God-fearing, experienced and professional cadres of the Afghan society will be part and parcel of this system without any political, racial and lingual discriminations. Administrative responsibilities will be devolved on them according to their talent and honesty. We will respect the Islamic rights of all people of the country including women; will implement Sharia rules in the light of the injunctions of the sacred religion of Islam in order to efficiently maintain internal security and eradicate immorality , injustice, indecency and other vices ; will strictly observe the law of punhishement and reward and auditing in order to bring about administrative transparency in all government departments. The violators will be dealt with according to the Sharia rules.

1. f) Regarding policy with Foreign Countries

Our upcoming system will be based on mutual interactions with neighboring, Islamic and non-Islamic countries. We want to frame our foreign policy on the principle that we will not harm others nor allow others to harm us.

Our upcoming system of government will participate in all regional and global efforts aimed at establishing peace and stability , human prosperity and economic advancement on the basis of the Islamic laws and will cooperate with regional countries in all common problems of the region like ( finding solution to ) narcotics, environment pollution, commercial and economic problems.

1. g) To the Islamic World and the Muslim Ummah!

O Muslim Ummah!

I avail myself of this auspicious opportunity of Eid, to share with you some bitter facts. Today, some arrogant and biased countries are exerting various pressures on Muslims. Religion and culture of some Muslims is threatened while life, property, independence and sovereignty of some other Muslims are in danger. Today Muslims are victims of different discriminations and hardships. The most notorious prisons of the world are packed with Muslims where they are being tortured and humiliated and their countries are under occupation.

O Muslim Ummah!

Is the problem today facing the suffering people of Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine, only their problem? Does our common Book, the Holy Quran, permit (you) to remain neutral in these circumstances? You should understand that the American plan is never limited to the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq but they want to change the whole map of the world by having invaded Afghanistan and Iraq in the heart of the Islamic World. But the Afghans, as defenders of the Islamic Ummah and destroyers of colonialist plans, have a well-known history behind. They have offered colossal sacrifices in the way of throwing out the invaders. As such, they have repelled all invasions beginning from Alexander of Macedonia to the American invasion in this 21st century. Unequivocally, these sacrifices have given victory to the Afghans and salvation to the Islamic Ummah. Therefore, Muslim brothers, not only we have a common religion, faith, values, culture and interests but also common distress, joy, friends and enemies. So come and share the grief and distress of your suffering Muslims brothers and assist them with your persons and wealth by turning to an honest policy.

1. h) To the Coalition Forces Stationed in Afghanistan and to their People

The invading Americans have invaded Afghanistan for achievement of their interests and realization of their expansionist policy. They have allied with other 48 countries but still have failed to thwart the growing Jihad resistance of the Afghan Mujahid nation despite using their combined military, political and financial cooperation. This means the resistance being put up by this nations is a legitimate one and the invasion by the global coalition under the leadership of America is unlawful and brutal aggression. The pretexts concocted by the Americans to keep you engaged in Afghanistan are only fallacies that want to obtain their illicit interests. There is no veracity in their claims. In the past nine years, you may have come around to know the essence of the American fatuous claims, that only they want to use your power in the way of achievement of their impractical colonialist goals. It is not appropriate for you to sacrifice your sons for American ambiguous interests and defame your name in the history of nations and become criminals of war as a result of your killing and harassing the Afghan people. Each day, hundreds of innocent Afghans are martyred by the Americans; houses are destroyed and unconventional weapons which are banned on international level, are being used by them. These weapons will have negative impact on the next generations of our nation. Their use is an unforgivable crime against humanity. But your forces commit this crime against miserable people every day on the behest of the Americans. Furthermore, the Americans have imposed restrictions on independent media. Only reports palatable to America and NATO are allowed to be published. No one, neither the invaders nor their puppets address the grievances of the victims of war. They clamp down on publications of the Islamic Emirate, whether in the shape of electronic media like internet or printed materials. Hundreds of innocents Afghans have been suffering in Guantanamo and Bagram prisons for the past nine years. Even old men of 70-80 years are kept under detention in these prisons. They are constantly deprived of their legal rights and are not presented before a legal court and denied to have access to their human rights. In short, America, has taken hostage our country and people due to your assistance. Some members of the American coalition and their people have realized this reality and have started withdrawal of their forces from Afghanistan and some are intending to follow.

Our message for those countries which still want to continue their military occupation of Afghanistan, merely relying on the irrational pretexts of America, is that you should consider withdrawal of your forces from Afghanistan at your earliest.

I) To Americana Rulers and the Misinformed American People.

You tested all your might i.e. military, political and economic for the past nine years to maintain your occupation over the Afghan Islamic and independent country but you achieved nothing except a dashing defeat at the hands of the sagacious Afghan Muajhideen. Though your general worked out strategies (after strategies) and committed military surge, but still your soldiers are captured alive but your government is not ready to agree to an exchange of prisoners as in the case of the Bobragdal nor they are concerned about him as a US citizen. Even they try to perish them instead of adhering to the recognized way of exchange of prisoners as what they did in Logar with your two prisoners. Our Mujahideen constantly shoot down your advanced military and reconnaissance aircrafts and destroy your military hardware. With the passage of each day, the number of your soldiers’ dead bodies are ascending but your rulers instead of admitting their wrong policies, and seeking a rational exit, want to try the hackneyed and failed process once more as an effort to compensate for their defeats and distract your attention and that of the public of the world from their debacles. These foiled process include the formation of the tribal militias, holding the so-called consultative Jirga, usage of the words radicals and moderates for Mujahideen, holding fruitless conferences, launching black propaganda campaign against Mujahideen with the help of affiliated stooge media, giving the helms of affairs to some most hated, corruption-infested and criminal figures time and again. They guess, in this lies the solution of the problem. But with the help of Allah, (SwT) and the good Jihadic planning of Mujahideen, these ventures failed like their other military endeavors. The Afghans have still further patience to defend their country. They have added new experiences of warfare to theirs after nine-year long confrontation with your soldiers. What we want to convey to you through this message is that withdraw your soldiers from our country unconditionally and as soon as possible. This is in your interest and in the interest of your people and the best option for regional stability.

After nine years of show of muscles by you and your global military coalition, it has become clear for all the world that the policy of might and coercion has no effect on the Afghans. The subjugation of this free people as per your envisaged plans is impossible. Still if you want to make the "impossible" possible by extending your stay in Afghanistan, then, as its price, be ready to lose the sovereignty of your vast empire. You should know that your rulers have continuously told you lies since the beginning of the aggression on Afghanistan until this very day. They have wasted hundreds of billion of dollars of your tax money in the shape of financial expenditures and your man power in Afghanistan and have still been wasting them. You shall be witness to another economic melt-down. You should use your parliamentary pressures and street power to prevent your rulers from pushing you into the pit of perdition and destruction at world level. Therefore, they should abandon their headlong stubborn policy. Otherwise, the Americans will themselves face humiliation and disgrace before any one else does that.

To end, I extend my deep condolence to all those who have been affected by the recent floods and other natural disasters in Afghanistan , Pakistan and other parts of the Islamic world and ask Allah ( SwT) to lessen the sufferings of these people as a result of this gigantic trial and bestow patience on those who have been devastated by the floods.

I call on all beneficent persons to give their all-sided assistance to the affectees of the floods, to the families of martyrs, prisoners and orphans and have a conduct of mercy and grace with them in these auspicious days of joy of Eid as you usually have with your families and children.

Once again I felicitate all Muslim on this occasion of Eid and pray to Allah (SwT) to give them perseverance versus the American invasion and accept their sacrifices in His sight. I pray to Allah, the Almighty to bestow independence on all occupied countries in view of the selfless sacred sacrifices of this suffering Ummah through realization of an Islamic sovereignty. May Allah, the Almighty, accept in His Sight the offering of the Muajhideen being presented in the shape of their pure blood. Amin.


Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid Servant of Islam


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 10, 2010, 05:21:42 am
South Asia
Sep 11, 2010 

Taliban and US get down to talks

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - United States President Barack Obama has pledged to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011, and as a part of the initial outlines of this exit strategy the Taliban are for the first time in serious negotiations with the US.

The Pakistan military and Saudi Arabia are acting as go-betweens to facilitate the talks, a top Pakistani security official directly involved in the negotiation process has told Asia Times Online.

According to the official, the Pakistan army has already been in contact with top Taliban commanders, including Sirajuddin Haqqani. Information is then passed onto the Saudis, who in turn liaise with the Americans.

At this stage, no direct contact has been made with Taliban leader Mullah Omar, although he characteristically does not involve himself personally in such talks; they are handled by close associates.

The security official indicated, however, that unlike in the past nine years since the ouster of the Taliban and the US-led anti-insurgency operations in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar has shown a positive and flexible attitude.

The Taliban have previously insisted that all foreign troops - currently numbered at 150,000 - leave Afghanistan before any peace talks could begin. Separately, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has set up a High Peace Council to facilitate talks with Taliban leaders.

The initial talks have covered two main areas - the issue of about 60 Pakistanis in the US's Guantanamo detention facility, and al-Qaeda.

"A delegation of Pakistani officials will soon visit the Guantanamo Bay prison to personally interview the Pakistani prisoners. [Their release] would be a goodwill gesture from the American side, and also set the stage for negotiations between the Taliban and Washington," the Pakistani official told ATol.

Another element touched on in the talks is the American demand that it maintain a military presence in northern Afghanistan, while agreeing to give control of the south to the Taliban. The Taliban do not agree with this - they want a complete US withdrawal. This remains a point of major disagreement.

The al-Qaeda factor
A key problem remains al-Qaeda - the US has no interest in any deals with the group and wants to specifically separate the Taliban from al-Qaeda.

The US has always insisted that any future Taliban government would have to expel al-Qaeda from Afghanistan. The Taliban agree on this, but want al-Qaeda to be given "honorable treatment". It was the presence of Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda in Afghanistan that led the US to invade the country in late 2001 in retaliation for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US.

On its part, al-Qaeda, armed with new allies, has its own agenda regardless of whether the Taliban make peace with Washington or continue their war.

Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani, is fully cognizant of the sensitivities of the issue. The army does not want to shove anything under the rug, it aims to address every issue so that when more advanced negotiations begin with the Taliban, all irritants will have been resolved.

The Pakistani military has established a system of backchannel communications in which issues are discussed with Taliban leaders. Notes are then shared with Washington and Riyadh simultaneously. In this process, Saudi Arabia plays a central role.
In view of the al-Qaeda problem - which has the potential to derail any peace efforts - Kiani recently went to Riyadh and spent five days in discussions with King Abdullah, intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz and other officials. The central theme was how to rehabilitate bin Laden and other Saudi citizens, beside arranging refugee status for other al-Qaeda members. Bin Laden was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in the 1990s.

The director general of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, was sent to Washington regarding a proposal for al-Qaeda to shift from Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia.

Al-Qaeda's struggle is entering a decisive phase, one in which it does not necessarily need the protection and support of the Taliban - unlike in 2002, when al-Qaeda was badly beaten as a result of US attacks and reduced to a few thousand members in a rag-tag militia. It had also lost a number of leaders in the "war on terror", either killed or arrested by Pakistan from 2002 onwards.

Since then, the organization has revived its fortunes, from the Caucasus to the Pakistani tribal areas, from India to Iraq and Somalia.

In Afghanistan, the southwest is controlled by Mullah Omar's Kandahari clan, while the southeast is completely under the command of pro-al-Qaeda commanders such as Qari Ziaur Rahman and Sirajuddin Haqqani. Their forces include thousands of non-Pashtun linked with the anti-Iran Jundallah and the powerful 313 Brigade of Ilyas Kashmiri. They also draw support from the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi and last but not least the Pashtun Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban).

Recently, al-Qaeda launched Chechen and Uzbek fighters from the Pakistani tribal areas back into the Central Asian republics and Russia. In the latest attack, on Thursday, 18 people were killed and more than a hundred injured in a suicide bombing in the North Ossetian capital of Vladikavkaz.

Under the command structure of Laskhar al-Zil, a shadowy army comprising various al-Qaeda-linked groups, al-Qaeda is reasserting itself in Iraq, Yemen and Somalia, and at the same time planning to open up a new and constant front in India.

According to ATol contacts in the militant camp, al-Qaeda has no objection if the Taliban strike a deal with Washington that paves the way for an American withdrawal from Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda would simply leave Afghanistan and jack up its operations in Pakistan and India. Al-Qaeda has already escalated attacks in Pakistan to create space for itself.

In the past few weeks, al-Qaeda-linked groups like Tariq Afridi have struck deals with local warlord Mangal Bagh to target major cities in restive Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa province, including Kohat and the capital Peshawar.

Commander Badr Mansoor has been tasked to increase activities in cities near the tribal areas, including Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu and Lucky Marwat. Sabir Mehsud of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been asked to escalate attacks in the main urban centers of Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta, while commander Bin Yameen has been ordered to mobilize cadre in the Swat Valley.

While the Taliban-Washington dialogue process is in its early stage, al-Qaeda is well on the way to setting up an infrastructure to prove that it - not any state, army or the Taliban - is the real player of the upcoming game.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 10, 2010, 05:37:51 am
South Asia
Sep 11, 2010 
Petraeus spin on roadside bombs belied

By Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON - General David Petraeus claimed limited success this week in the war within a war over the Taliban's planting of roadside bombs, but official Pentagon data show the Taliban clearly winning that war by planting more bombs and killing many more United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops since the troop surge began in early 2010.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal published on Tuesday, the United States commander in Afghanistan asserted that the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by the Taliban had "flattened" over the past year and attributed that alleged success to pressures by the US military, and especially the increased tempo of Special Operations Forces raids against Taliban units.

Data provided by the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO), however, show that IEDs planted by Afghan insurgents killed nearly 40% more US and NATO troops in the first eight months of 2010 than in the comparable period of 2009.

The data also show that Taliban IEDs wounded 2,025 US and NATO troops in the first eight months of this year - almost double the 1,035 wounded in the same months last year.

In the Journal interview, Petraeus said that the data on violent incidents in Afghanistan indicate a slowly improving security situation.

Without putting his statement in quotation marks, Journal reporters Julian E Barnes and Matthew Rosenberg reported Petraeus as claiming that the use of IEDs "has generally flattened in the past year". While crediting US military operations with this alleged improvement, Petraeus said it is too soon to say that they are the sole reason for this alleged flattening of IED incidents.

But the data for 2009 and 2010 provide no support for Petraeus' "flattened" description.

The 12-month moving average of IED incidents, provided in a report in July by the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the basis of JIEDDO data, shows a continuing and sharp increase from 250 in June 2009 to more than 900 in May 2010, for an average increase per month of 54 incidents.

The total number of IED incidents in Afghanistan began to rise steeply in March 2010 to a new high of 1,087 and then continued to climb to 1,128 in May and again to 1,258 in August.

In a related effort to spin the IED issue more favorably to the war effort, Major Michael G Johnson, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commanded by Petraeus, was quoted in a USA Today story published on Tuesday as saying that there had been a "dip" in deaths and injuries from IEDs over the previous 12 weeks compared to the same period in 2009.

But the JIEDDO figures on deaths and injuries to US and NATO forces from IEDs from June through August 2010 total 271 casualties - a 30% increase over the total for those months a year ago.

In response to a query from Inter Press Service (IPS), however, Johnson said he was including deaths and injuries to Afghan security personnel and civilians as well.

Killing and wounding foreign troops is generally understood to be the objective of the Taliban's IED war and the reduction of those casualties is the objective of Petraeus' command.

Petraeus had previously been more cautious about claiming success in the IED war. In an interview with Spencer Ackerman of the website Danger Room on August 18, Petraeus only referred to growing pressures on the Taliban organizing for IEDs from both US intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems and from SOF units.

But when Ackerman pointed out that IED attacks were rising, Petraeus asserted that the increase could be because US and coalition forces are "on the offensive taking away areas that matter to the enemy, safe havens and sanctuaries".

Challenged by Ackerman on an interpretation that turned an obvious indicator of a failing war effort into an indicator of progress, however, Petraeus retreated, saying, "That's fair enough."

Both the Ackerman interview and Johnson's statement illustrate the Petraeus tactic of making statements that mislead by omission or tendentious interpretation rather than making statements that could be proven false.

The Petraeus statement to the Journal about "flattened" IED figures, however, appears to go beyond that tactic.

The JIEDDO data on IED incidents by month also provide evidence that the US and NATO forces had failed to win the trust of the population in the Pashtun provinces where the Taliban have been strongest. The JIEDDO figures show that the proportion of IEDs turned in by the population has continued to fall with each passing year since the NATO military buildup in Pashtun areas began in 2006.

In late 2005, the civilian population was informing US and NATO troops of about 15% of all IEDs planted. That proportion fell to just over nine percent in 2006, to less than 7% in 2007 to about three percent in 2008, and again to 2.8% in 2009.

In the first six months of 2010, that ratio dropped to 2.6%, and in May and June it fell to 1.4% and 1%, respectively.

A paper by four authors, including former Petraeus adviser David Kilcullen, published by the pro-war Center for New American Security in June 2009 highlighted the importance of the proportion of IEDs turned in by the population as an indicator of good relations between US and NATO military units and the local population.

A rise in the proportion of IEDs found and cleared, especially because of tips from the population, would be a "sign of progress", the authors concluded.

The head of JIEDDO, Lieutenant General Michael Oates, appears to agree with that analysis. In an interview with USA Today published last March, Oates said winning the trust of the Afghan population is "a key ingredient" in protecting US troops from IEDs.
The steep decline in the proportion of IEDs turned in by the population as more US and NATO troops intruded on the Pashtun countryside is another reliable indicator - supporting opinion surveys in Helmand and Kandahar provinces - of the deterioration of relations between foreign troops and the population.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006.

(Inter Press Service) 

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 10, 2010, 06:04:42 am
"Why America Cannot Win In Afghanistan"

By Guns and Butter

Interview with Pakistani General Hamid Gul.

Posted September 09, 2010


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 11, 2010, 10:25:00 am
America's Fake "War for Democracy" in Afghanistan

By Danny Schechter
Global Research, September 10, 2010

Oh, Hamid, Oh Hillary: How your worlds converge and diverge.

The Secretary of State was shuttling between Washington where peace in the Middle East remains elusive to New York to where the poobahs and her protégés at the Council on Foreign Relations welcomed her as the second coming.

She has now has enunciated her own “doctrine” in the footsteps of thosei n our ‘inDOCTRINE-ated’ history of intervention over the centuries. (Remember James’s Monroe’s earlier imperial doctrine claiming Latin America as ours?)

Imagine the trumpets blowing as the Daily Beast sounded a triumphalist note: “The secretary of State delivered the best speech of the Obama administration this morning,” hyped Tunku Varadarajan writing on her “new American moment”—and why she’s better than her boss.”

“Behold the Hillary Doctrine. And heap abundant gratitude—and rose petals if you have them on hand—on the firm, unfussy, deeply reassuring woman who has just offered it up to the world.”

In her charge to the foreign policy elite, she spoke of the need for “a new global architecture, “built to last and withstand stress.” And in a muscular departure from the way in which this administration—for fear of seeming Bush-like—has been shrinking from the unembarrassed propagation of American values, she uttered these plainspoken, unadorned words: “Democracy needs defending.”

Off in Iraq and Afghanistan where trillions have been spent/wasted? to promote US style “democracy”, time is running out for that “New Dawn” that President Obama spoke wistfully of, and Hillary backed with generous appropriations when this “reassuring woman” stalked the halls of the Senate.

Now, her State Department is taking over the occupation of Iraq and no doubt, soon, Afghanistan. Hill gushes that we are on the verge of, “a new American moment—a moment when our global leadership is essential.” The report again: "There was no bowing from her to potentates in robes; there was, instead, a promise that “we will do everything we can to exercise the traditions of American leadership at home and abroad.”

Oh, those “traditions!”

In this period, our man Hamid Karzai, usually seen wearing a Karakul hat, something that has been worn by Afghan kings in the past, is quaking in his boots as a bank run erupted after a $300 billion loss was detected threatening the instability of his already unstable role, more as the Mayor of Kabul that as president of the country.

(Mullah Omar boasted Thursday that the Taliban is on the verge of winning but focused on the economic consequences, saying, "They have wasted hundreds of billion(s) of dollars of your tax money in the shape of financial expenditures and your manpower in Afghanistan and have still been wasting them. You shall be witness to another economic melt-down.")

Karzei’s ties with the United States have been deep. He has six brothers, reports Wikipedia, including Mahmood Karzai and Quayum Karzai, who are both Afghan-American restaurant owners in the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area of the United States, The family owns and operates several successful Afghan restaurants in the East Coast of the United States as well as in Chicago.”

What qualifications for leadership!

He is on the record anyway, as just a man of the people. “According to a declaration of his assets by an anti-graft body, Karzai earns $525 monthly and has less than $20,000 in bank accounts.  Karzai does not own any land or property.”


Hillary seems to be doing much better. She has also had her share of financial scandals. Remember her days in Arkansas when she ordered 10 cattle futures contracts with only $1K [normally a $12K investment], and reaped $100,000 in 10 months of trading.  Her bid for the Senate in 2000 resulted in high FEC election fines.

She and Bill just bought a new mansion in Westchester after shelling out a couple of mill for daughter Chelsea’s glitzy nuptials.

These people don’t stand by traditions. They all know the benefits of conversions. Bill converted to Republican-lite programs to get re-elected. Hillary seems to have converted from liberalism. Chelsea converted to Judaism while Hamid abandoned Islam for Christianity.

Karzai is a cat with many lives. Again from his bio: “In October 2001, Hamid Karzai and his group of fighters survived a US friendly fire missile attack in southern Afghanistan. The group suffered injuries and was treated in the United States; Karzai received injuries to his facial nerves as can sometimes be noticed during his speeches.  On 4 November 2001, American forces flew Karzai out of Afghanistan for protection,” protecting him for his next assignment, of course

Soon he became the front man for American aspirations and was first selected and then elected President., In 2004 he was backed by President Bush who also was reelected.

By that time, the war was pumping in billions alongside a very profitable  dope business. With the Taliban on the run and Al Qaeda in hiding, he became the beneficiary of earlier American architects who were turning Kabul into a mirror image of the USA.

Reported Jason Burke for the Observer wrote at the time that it was a time of “new prosperity” for the “elite” and the gangsters and sometimes the two were indistinguishable.

“This is the new Kabul…There is a downside, of course. The new prosperity has brought crime. Theft, according to senior officers from the ISAF peacekeeping force, is endemic. Without the European military patrolling in their box-like armoured cars, 'anything not nailed down would go', they say. Murders and assaults are more common than under the Taliban”

When there are tons of money oozing around, you always need a bank to manage it all, don't you?  Banks are the cornerstores of our modern financial engineering and architecture. So, in that same year of his elevation, in 2004. the Kabul Bank was born with another Karzai brother playing a key role.

Today it has collapsed, thanks to massive fraud. Sound familiar? It brings back memories of BCCI, the Pakistan bank that was unmasked as a criminal enterprise.

None of the foreign “architects” who looked on approvingly when it started thought about how to contain this swamp of sleaze. Where were its auditors? It's hard to believe that the Wall Street bigs didn't have a finger in the pie.

Reports the NY Times:

“Now, Kabul Bank sits at the center of a financial crisis that has exposed the shadowy workings of the country’s business and political elite, and how such connections shielded the bank from scrutiny. The panic surrounding Kabul Bank is threatening to pull down the Afghan banking system and has drawn in the United States.”

Is this or should this be a surprise to anyon?

The Washington Post reported months earlier,  on February 25, 2010, ”Officials puzzle over millions of dollars leaving Afghanistan by plane for Dubai) that it represented only a portion of the looting of donor nations.

The total volume of departing cash is almost certainly much higher than the declared amount. A Chinese man, for instance, was arrested recently at the Kabul airport carrying 800,000 undeclared euros (about $1.1 million).

Cash also can be moved easily through a VIP section at the airport, from which Afghan officials generally leave without being searched. American officials said that they have repeatedly raised the issue of special treatment for VIPs at the Kabul airport with the Afghan government but that they have made no headway.”

Why no headway? Could it be because “the headmen” were all deeply involved? At the same time, the US cheerleaders who work with the very same Council on Foreign Relations that kow-towned to  Hillary don’t want to know about the sleaze, or do anything about it, as Fraud specialist and former Bank regulator Bill Black points out:

“U.S. officials and defense analysts say that challenging local power brokers and criminal syndicates, many of which depend on U.S. reconstruction contracts and ties to the Afghan government for support, would likely add to the unrest in southern Afghanistan and produce a higher U.S. casualty rate.

“Putting an end to these patronage networks would not come cheaply,” said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who has advised U.S. commanders in Afghanistan. (Bidddle was a professor at the Army College.)

“By contrast, allowing some graft among Afghan power brokers on the condition that they agree to limit their take and moderate predatory activities, such as their use of illegal police checkpoints, could promote near-term improvements,

So these “architects” of empire rationalize the massive corruption—which also, incidentally, helps fund the Taliban with whom Karzai has been secretly negotiating with according to Wikileaks.

Says Black: “He is wrong about corruption, fraud, and predation. Biddle finds it necessary to create this euphemism for corruption (“patronage networks”). He believes that he can calibrate graft and dial his desired level of corruption as if he were using a rheostat to change the intensity of a light.

“He thinks he can get them to “limit their take” and “moderate” “their “predatory behavior.” He thinks he can get Karzai to “defund” his political cronies. His appeasement strategy has never worked. It will fail and the failure will “not come cheaply.” It will kill and maim Afghans, NATO troops, and foreign aid and construction workers.”

There was not a whiff of this debate at the Council on Foreign Relations about this scandal where Hillary was greeted in language that harkened back to the praises the Red Army conferred on Chairman Mao.
He was, at least, “a Great Helmsman.”  Hillary is on her way of being anointed the “great architect” in the battle for fraudulent democracy.

How far we have come!

News Dissector Danny Schechter directed Plunder The Crime Of Our Time, a film and companion book about the financial crisis as a crime story. ( Comments to

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 14, 2010, 06:48:25 am
For the People of Afghanistan, Things Have Gone from Bad to Worse

For years, American leaders have hailed the way Afghans are supposedly benefiting from the U.S. role in their country. They're not.

By Nick Turse,
Posted on September 12, 2010, Printed on September 14, 2010


With the arrival of General David Petraeus as Afghan War commander, there has been ever more talk about the meaning of “success” in Afghanistan.  At the end of July, USA Today ran an article titled, “In Afghanistan, Success Measured a Step at a Time.” Days later, Stephen Biddle, a Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, held a conference call with the media to speak about “Defining Success in Afghanistan.”  A mid-August editorial in the Washington Post was titled: “Making the Case for Success in Afghanistan.”  And earlier this month, an Associated Press article appeared under the headline, “Petraeus Talks Up Success in Afghan War.”

Unlike victory, success turns out to be a slippery term.  As the United States approaches the tenth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan, pundits have been chewing over just what “success” in Afghanistan might mean for Washington.  What success might mean for ordinary Afghans hasn’t, however, been a major topic of conversation, even though U.S. officials have regularly promised them far better lives and trumpeted American efforts to reconstruct that war-torn land.

Between 2001 and 2009, according to the Afghan government, the country has received $36 billion in grants and loans from donor nations, with the United States disbursing some $23 billion of it.  U.S. taxpayers have anted up another $338 billion to fund the war and occupation.  Yet from poverty indexes to risk-of-**** assessments, from childhood mortality figures to drug-use stats, just about every available measure of Afghan wellbeing paints a grim picture of a country in a persistent state of humanitarian crisis, often involving reconstruction and military failures on an epic scale.  Pick a measurement affecting ordinary Afghans and the record since November 2001 when Kabul fell to Allied forces is likely to show stagnation or setbacks and, almost invariably, suffering.

Almost a decade after the U.S. invasion, life for Afghan civilians is not a subject Americans care much about and so, not surprisingly, it plays little role in Washington's discussions of “success.”  Have a significant number of Afghans found the years of occupation and war “successful”?  Has there been a payoff in everyday life for the indignities of the American years -- the cars stopped or sometimes shot up at road checkpoints, the American patrols trooping through fields and searching homes, the terrifying night raids, the imprisonments without trial, or the way so many Afghans continue to be treated like foreigners, if not criminal suspects, in their own country?

For years, American leaders have hailed the way Afghans are supposedly benefiting from the U.S. role in their country.  But are they?

The promises began early. In April 2002, for instance, speaking at the Virginia Military Institute, President George W. Bush proclaimed that in Afghanistan “peace will be achieved through an education system for boys and girls which works.”  He added, “We're working hard in Afghanistan: We're clearing mine fields. We're rebuilding roads. We're improving medical care. And we will work to help Afghanistan to develop an economy that can feed its people without feeding the world's demand for drugs.”

When, on May 1, 2003, President Bush strode across the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver his “mission accomplished” speech, declaring an end to “major combat operations in Iraq,” he also spoke of triumph in the other war and once again offered a rosy picture of Afghan developments.  “We continue to help the Afghan people lay roads, restore hospitals, and educate all of their children,” he said.  Five years later, he was still touting American aid to Afghans, noting that the U.S. was “working to ensure that our military progress is accompanied by the political and economic gains that are critical to the success of a free Afghanistan."

Earlier this year, President Barack Obama seemed to suggest that efforts to promote Afghan wellbeing had indeed been a success: “There is no denying the progress that the Afghan people have made in recent years -- in education, in health care and economic development, as I saw in the lights across Kabul when I landed -- lights that would not have been visible just a few years earlier.”

So, almost 10 years on, just what are the lives of ordinary Afghans like?  Has childhood mortality markedly improved?  Are women, if not equal in terms of civil rights, at least secure in the knowledge that men are not able to **** them with impunity?  Have all Afghan children -- or even most -- started on the road to a decent education?

Or how about a more basic question?  After almost a decade of war and tens of billions in international aid, do Afghans have enough to eat?  I recently posed that question to Challiss McDonough of the United Nation’s World Food Program in Afghanistan.

Food Insecurity

In October 2001, the BBC reported that more than seven million people were "at risk of malnutrition or food shortages across Afghanistan.”  In an email, McDonough updated that estimate:  “The most recent data on food insecurity comes from the last National Risk and Vulnerability Assesment (NRVA), which was conducted in 2007/2008 and released in late October 2009.  It found that about 7.4 million people are food-insecure, roughly 31 percent of the estimated population.  Another 37 percent are considered to be on the borderline of food insecurity, and could be pushed over the edge by shocks such as floods, drought, or conflict-related displacement.”

Food insecurity indicators, McDonough pointed out, are heading in the wrong direction.  “The NRVA of 2007/08 showed that the food security had deteriorated in 25 out of the 34 provinces compared to the 2005 NRVA.  This was the result of a combination of factors, including high food prices, rising insecurity and recurring natural disasters.”  As she also pointed out, “About 36 percent of the population lives below the poverty line and cannot afford basic necessities.  Staple food prices remain higher than they are in neighboring countries, and higher than they were before the global high-food-price crisis began in 2007.”

Recently, the international risk management firm Maplecroft put together a food security index -- using 12 criteria developed with the United Nations’ World Food Program -- to evaluate the threat to supplies of basic food staples in 163 countries.  Afghanistan ranked dead last and was the only non-African nation among the 10 most food-insecure countries on the planet.

Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons

During the Soviet occupation of the 1980s and the grim years of Taliban rule in the later 1990s, millions of Afghans fled their country.  While many returned after 2001, large numbers have continued to live abroad.  More than one million registered Afghans reportedly live in Iran.  Another 1.5 million or more undocumented, unregistered Afghan refugees may also reside in that country.  Some 1.7 million or more Afghan refugees currently live in Pakistan -- 1.5 million of them in recently flood-ravaged provinces, according to Adrian Edwards, a spokesman for the U.N.'s refugee agency.

Many Afghans who still remain in their country cannot return home either.  According to a 2008 report by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), there were 235,833 internally displaced persons nationwide.  As of the middle of this year, the numbers had reportedly increased to more than 328,000.

Children’s Well-Being

In 2000, according to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), mortality for children under five years of age stood at 257 per 1,000.  In 2008, the last year for which data was available, that number had not budged.  It had, in fact, only slightly improved since 1990, when after almost a decade of Soviet occupation and brutal warfare, the numbers stood at 260 per 1,000.  The figures were similar for infant mortality -- 168 per 1,000 in 1990, 165 per 1,000 in 2008.

In 2002, according to the U.N., about 50% of Afghan children were chronically malnourished.  The most recent comprehensive national survey, done two years into the U.S. occupation, found (according to the World Food Program’s McDonough) about 60% of children under five chronically malnourished.

Childhood education is a rare area of genuine improvement.  Afghan government statistics show steady growth -- from 3,083,434 children in primary school in 2002 to 4,788,366 enrolled in 2008.  Still, there are more young children outside than in the classroom, according to 2010 UNICEF numbers, which indicate that approximately five million Afghan children do not attend school -- most of them girls.

Many youngsters find themselves on the streets.  Reuters recently reported that there are no fewer than 600,000 street children in Afghanistan.  Shafiqa Zaher, a social worker with Aschiana, a children’s aid group receiving U.S. funds, told reporter Andrew Hammond that most have a home, even if only a crumbling shell of a building, but their caregivers are often disabled and unemployed.  Many are, therefore, forced into child labor.  “Poverty is getting worse in Afghanistan and children are forced to find work,” said Zaher.

In 2002, the U.N. reported that there were more than one million children in Afghanistan who had lost one or both parents.  Not much appears to have changed in the intervening years.  “I have seen estimates that there are over one million Afghan children whose father or mother is deceased,” Mike Whipple, the Chairman and CEO of International Orphan Care, a U.S.-based humanitarian organization that operates schools and medical clinics in Afghanistan, told me by email recently.

Increasingly, even Afghan youngsters with families are desperate enough to abandon their homeland and attempt a treacherous overland journey to Europe and possible asylum.  This year, UNHCR reported that ever more Afghan children are fleeing their country alone.  Almost 6,000 of them, mostly boys, sought asylum in European countries in 2009, compared to about 3,400 a year earlier.

Women’s Rights

In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush told Congress: "The last time we met in this chamber, the mothers and daughters of Afghanistan were captives in their own homes, forbidden from working or going to school. Today women are free and are part of Afghanistan's new government."  Last year, when asked about a new Afghan law sanctioning the oppression of women, President Obama asserted that there were “certain basic principles that all nations should uphold, and respect for women and respect for their freedom and integrity is an important principle.”   

Recently, the plight of women in Afghanistan again made U.S. headlines thanks to a shocking TIME magazine cover image of Bibi Aisha, an Afghan whose ears and nose were sliced off after she ran away from her husband’s house.  “What Happens When We Leave Afghanistan” was TIME’s headline, but reporter Ann Jones, who has worked closely with women in Afghanistan and talked to Bibi Aisha, took issue with the TIME cover in the Nation magazine, pointing out that it was evidently not the Taliban who mutilated Aisha and that the brutal assault took place eight years into the U.S. occupation.  Life for women in Afghanistan has not been the bed of roses promised by Bush nor typified by the basic rights proffered by Obama, as Jones noted:

“Consider the creeping Talibanization of Afghan life under the Karzai government. Restrictions on women's freedom of movement, access to work and rights within the family have steadily tightened as the result of a confluence of factors, including the neglect of legal and judicial reform and the obligations of international human rights conventions; legislation typified by the infamous Shia Personal Status Law (SPSL), gazetted in 2009 by President Karzai himself despite women's protests and international furor; intimidation; and violence."

Her observations are echoed in a recent report by Medica Mondiale, a German non-governmental organization that advocates for the rights of women and girls in war and crisis zones around the world.  As its blunt briefing began, “Nine years after 11 September and the start of the operation ‘Enduring Freedom,’ which justified its commitment not only with the hunt for terrorists, but also with the fight for women’s rights, the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan still is catastrophic.”  Medica Mondiale reported that 80% of all Afghan marriages are still “concluded under compulsion.”

The basic safety of women in Afghanistan in, and well beyond, Taliban-controlled areas has in recent years proven a dismal subject even though the Americans haven’t left.  According to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), for instance, 87% of women are subject to domestic abuse.  A 2009 report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) found that **** “is an everyday occurrence in all parts of the country” and called it a “human rights problem of profound proportions.”  That report continued:

"Women and girls are at risk of **** in their homes and in their communities, in detention facilities and as a result of traditional harmful practices to resolve feuds within the family or community... In the northern region for example, 39 percent of the cases analyzed by UNAMA Human Rights, found that perpetrators were directly linked to power brokers who are, effectively, above the law and enjoy immunity from arrest as well as immunity from social condemnation."

Afghan women are reportedly turning to suicide as their only solution.

A June report by Sudabah Afzali of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting noted that, according to officials in Herat Province, “cases of suicide amongst women… have increased by 50 per cent over the last year.”  Sayed Naim Alemi, the director of the regional hospital in Herat, noted that 85 cases of attempted suicide recorded in the previous six months had involved women setting themselves on fire or ingesting poison.  In 57 of the cases, the women had died.

A study conducted by former Afghan Deputy Health Minister Faizullah Kakar and released in August gave a sense of the breadth of the problem.  Using Afghan Health Ministry records and hospital reports, Kakar found that an estimated 2,300 women or girls were attempting suicide each year.  Domestic violence, bitter hardships, and mental illness were the leading factors in their decisions. “This is a several-fold increase on three decades ago,” said Kakar.  In addition, he found that about 1.8 million Afghan women and girls between the ages of 15 and 40 are suffering from “severe depression.”

Drug Use

Rampant depression, among both men and women, has led to self-medication.  While opium-poppy cultivation on an almost unimaginable scale in the planet’s leading narco-state has garnered headlines since 2001, little attention has been paid to drug use by ordinary Afghans, even though it has been on a steep upward trajectory.

In 2003, according to Afghanistan's Public Health Minister Amin Fatimie, there were approximately 7,000 heroin addicts in the capital city, Kabul.  In 2007, that number was estimated to have doubled.  By 2009, UNAMA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC) estimated that the city was home to up to 20,000 heroin users and another 20,000 to 25,000 opium users.

Unfortunately, Kabul has no monopoly on the problem.  "Three decades of war-related trauma, unlimited availability of cheap narcotics, and limited access to treatment have created a major, and growing, addiction problem in Afghanistan," says Antonio Maria Costa, the Executive Director of UNDOC.  Since 2005, the number of Afghan opium users nationwide has jumped by 53%, while heroin users have skyrocketed by 140%.  According to UNODC’s survey, Drug Use in Afghanistan, approximately one million Afghans between the ages of 15 and 64 are addicted to drugs.  That adds up to about 8% of the population and twice the global average.

AIDs and Sex Work

Since the U.S. occupation began, AIDS and HIV, the virus that causes the disease, have reportedly also been on the rise.  In 2002, only eight people tested positive for HIV.  In 2007, Public Health Minister Fatimie reported 61 confirmed cases of AIDS and 2,000 more suspected cases.

Fatamie blamed intravenous drug use for half the cases and the NGO Médecins du Monde, which works with intravenous drug users in Kabul, found that HIV prevalence among such users in the cities of Kabul, Herat, and Mazar had risen from 3% to 7% between 2006 and 2009.  A 2010 report by the Public Health Ministry revealed that knowledge about HIV among intravenous drug users was astonishingly low, that few had ever been tested for the virus, and that of those who admitted to purchasing sex within the previous six months, most confessed to not having used a condom.   

This last fact is hardly surprising, given the findings from a recent study by Catherine Todd and colleagues of 520 female sex workers, almost all mothers, in the Afghan cities of Jalalabad, Kabul, and Mazar-i-Sharif.  Only about 30% of the women surveyed reported clients had ever used a condom with them and about 50% had received treatment for a sexually transmitted infection in the three months prior to being interviewed.

The same study also sheds light on the intersection between high-risk behaviors, socio-economic conditions, and the freedom and opportunities promised to Afghan women by Presidents Bush and Obama.  The most common reasons Afghan women engaged in sex work, Todd and colleagues found, were the need to support themselves (50%) or their families (32.4%).  Almost 9% reported being forced into sex work by their families.  Just over 5% turned to prostitution after being widowed, and 1.5% were forced into the profession after they were sexually assaulted and, consequently, found themselves unable to marry.

A Decade of Progress?  

In the near-decade since Kabul fell in November 2001, a sizeable majority of Afghans have continued to live in poverty and privation.  Measuring such misery may be impossible, but the United Nations has tried to find a comprehensive way to do so nonetheless.  Using a Human Poverty Index which “focuses on the proportion of people below certain threshold in regard to a long and healthy life, having access to education, and a decent standard of living,” the U.N. found that, comparatively speaking, it doesn’t get worse than life in Afghanistan.  The nation ranks dead last in its listing, number 135 out of 135 countries.  This is what “success” means today in Afghanistan.

The United Nations also ranks countries via a Human Development Index which includes such indicators of wellbeing as life expectancy, educational attainment, and income.  In 2004, the U.N. and the Afghan government issued the first National Human Development Report.  In its foreword, the publication cautioned:

“As was expected, the report has painted a gloomy picture of the status of human development in the country after two decades of war and destruction. The Human Development Index (HDI) value calculated nationally puts Afghanistan at the dismal ranking of 173 out of 178 countries worldwide. Yet the HDI also presents us with a benchmark against which progress can be measured in the future.“

The only place to go, it seemed, was up.  And yet, in 2009, when the U.N. issued a new Human Development Report, Afghanistan was in even worse shape, ranking number 181 of 182 nations, higher only than Niger.

Almost 10 years of U.S. and allied occupation, development, mentoring, reconstruction aid, and assistance has taken the country from unbearably dismal to something markedly poorer.  And yet even worse is still possible for the long-suffering men, women, and children of Afghanistan.  As the U.S. war and occupation drags on without serious debate about withdrawal on the Washington agenda, questions need to be asked about the fate of Afghan civilians.  Chief among them: How many more years of “progress” can they endure, and if the U.S. stays, how much more “success” can they stand?

Copyright 2010 Nick Turse

Nick Turse is the associate editor of  An award-winning journalist, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Nation,and regularly at TomDispatch. His latest book, The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Verso), which brings together leading analysts from across the political spectrum, will be published later this month.  He is currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute. You can follow him on Twitter @NickTurse, on at, and on

© 2010 All rights reserved.
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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 15, 2010, 06:17:00 am
Published on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 by

Afghan War Myths

by Ted Rall

SOMEWHERE IN AFGHANISTAN - There's an exception. It is a limited set of circumstances. If the armies of another nation invade your country, there is no need to resort to lies to sell war. The battle is already joined. The threat is palpable. Anyone with a smidgen of patriotism and/or the instinct of self-preservation will rush to enlist.

Mostly, this does not happen. It sort of happened in 1941, with Pearl Harbor. But Hawaii, itself recently seized by U.S. marines without the thinnest veneer of legality, was merely a distant possession. It sort of happened in 1848 when Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande (after being deliberately provoked by the Americans). It definitely happened in 1812. But you see the point: every war the United States has fought, at least since 1945 (really since 1814), has been just for fun.

Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq--the U.S. didn't have to fight any of them. They were optional. At minimum, they were wars of imperialism. Mostly, they were wars of aggression: undeclared, immoral, violations of international law.
Lies and spin are essential tools of "leaders" who want to convince the public to support wars for fun and profit.

The war against Afghanistan is no exception. I have previously discussed the Big Lies about Afghanistan: 9/11 came out of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda's training camps were there, bin Laden was there, oil has nothing to do with it, etc. Now let's talk about the little lies.

Lie #1: The war could have been won.

You know the narrative: the Bush Administration never sent in enough troops, then "took their eye off the ball" by invading Iraq and transferring military resources there from Afghanistan.

The truth: More troops would merely have postponed the inevitable defeat, while costing more Afghan and American lives. Remember General Shinseki, fired for telling Congress that Iraq needed at least 300,000 to 400,000 U.S. troops to establish command and control?

Afghanistan is about the same population and area as Iraq, but with much tougher terrain: some of the biggest, baddest mountains on the planet. U.S. forces would have had to permanently station at least 500,000 to 600,000 soldiers there. We didn't have them. Still don't.
Sure, we could run up the deficit even higher, hire and train more troops, and pack them off to the Hindu Kush. But Afghan resistance forces would wait us out. Even the U.S. military colossus can't bleed forever. We would have to pare down. Then we'd be back where we are now: humiliated, defeated, broke, morally bankrupt.

Lie #2: Karzai isn't perfect, but he's the best of a bunch of bad alternatives.

The mainstream media began questioning America's backing of the corrupt, incompetent and unpopular Karzai regime after he brazenly stole the most recent presidential election. But they refuse to call for the end of U.S. aid, or for fair elections. Mainly this is because they don't know squat about Afghanistan. But there were always better alternatives.

The best option for a nation that pretends to promote democracy would have been to actually promote democracy. Let the Afghan people choose between any candidates they want--yes, including the Taliban--and pledge to work with the winner no matter what. (This is what the U.S. ought to have done after Hamas won the election in Gaza.) The definition of integrity is doing the right thing even when it hurts; that's also what's required of the U.S. when it's playing Captain Democracy.

Moreover, there were always more palatable choices than Karzai. The exiled king, for example, was far more popular in 2001 than the dapper ex-Talib who fled the country after being accused of embezzlement.

Lie #3: We've got the right strategy/general now.

Now it's Petraeus. Every time the White House shuffles the military brass, they claim that this time it's different. The old strategy that didn't work in 2004, or 2006, or whatever, is dead. We'll use more drones. No, fewer drones. Wait, more.

No general, no matter how brilliant, can save a doomed military campaign. Anyway, neither Petraeus nor the other stuffed uniforms who've paraded in and out of Bagram in recent years are geniuses. Where are the Eisenhowers and Pattons of 2010? They're hedge fund managers.

Lie #4: Nation-building wouldn't have helped.

Bush promised a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan. Now Vice President Biden admits what Afghans have known all along: we're not there to nation-build. We are there to nation break.

Nine years into America's longest war, it's painful to contemplate how the billions poured into Afghanistan--much of which has been siphoned off by Halliburton and other contractors, not to mention flown out of the country by the Karzai clan, might have been better spent.
In 2001 Afghans didn't need much to lay the foundations for a viable nation-state. I asked them. The answers were always the same: they involved infrastructure. Good roads. Electricity. Running water. Government offices. Connect the country's far-flung provinces to the capital, and Afghans would resume their historical role as traders. Security would necessarily follow commerce.

If we were determined to occupy Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, it ought to have been with construction equipment, not tanks. Even if the Taliban had come to power, it would have been hard for them to talk smack about the U.S. in a nation covered with road signs that read: "Unconditional Gift of the People of the United States to the People of Afghanistan."

Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East? [1]," and "The Anti-American Manifesto," to be published in September by Seven Stories Press. His website is [2].


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 16, 2010, 06:13:15 am
Published on Wednesday, September 15, 2010 by Inter Press Service

Doubling of SOF Night Raids Backfired in Kandahar

by Gareth Porter

WASHINGTON - During a round of media interviews last month, Gen. David Petraeus released totals for the alleged results of nearly 3,000 "night raids" by Special Operations Forces (SOF) units over the 90 days from May through July: 365 "insurgent leaders" killed or captured, 1,355 Taliban "rank and file" fighters captured, and 1,031 killed.

Those figures were widely reported as highlighting the "successes" of SOF raids in at least hurting the Taliban.

But a direct correlation between the stepped up night raids in Kandahar province and a sharp fall-off in the proportion of IEDs being turned in by the local population indicates that the raids backfired badly, bolstering the Taliban's hold on the population in Kandahar province.

Night raids, which are viewed as a violation of the sanctity of the home and generate large numbers of civilian casualties, are the single biggest factor in generating popular anger at U.S. and NATO forces, as Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal conceded in his directive on the issue last March.

Nevertheless, McChrystal had increased the level of SOF raids from the 100 to 125 a month during the command of his predecessor, Gen. David McKiernan, to 500 a month during 2009. And the figures released by Petraeus revealed that McChrystal had doubled the number of raids on homes again to 1,000 a month before he was relieved of duty in June.

The step up in night raids has been overwhelmingly concentrated on districts in and around Kandahar City. It began in April as a prelude to what was then being billed as the "make or break" campaign of the war.

The response of the civilian population in those districts can be discerned from data on the Taliban roadside bombs and the proportion turned in by the population. Increasing the ratio of total IEDs planted found as a result of tips from the population has been cited as a key indicator of winning the trust of the local population by Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, head of the Pentagon's Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).

But JIEDDO's monthly statistics on IED's turned in by local residents as a percentage of total IEDs planted tell a very different story.

The percentage of Taliban roadside bombs turned in had been averaging 3.5 percent from November 2009 through March 2010, according to official statistics from JIEDDO. But as soon as the SOF raids began in Kandahar in April, the percentage of turn-ins fell precipitously to 1.5 percent, despite the fact that the number of IEDs remained about the same as the previous month.

The turn-in ratio continued to average 1.5 percent through July.

There is a similar correlation between a sudden increase in popular anger toward foreign troops in spring 2009 and a precipitous drop in the rate of turn-ins.

In the first four months of 2009, turn-ins had averaged 4.5 percent of IED incidents. But in early May 2009 a U.S. airstrike in Farah province killed between 97 and 147 civilians, according to the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission. As popular outrage over the biggest mass killing of civilians in the war spread across the country, the ratio of turn-ins fell to 2.1 percent of the total for the month, even though IEDs increased by less than 20 percent.

Then McChrystal took command and ordered a quadrupling of the number of night raids. The turn-in ratio continued to average just 2.2 percent for the next five months.

In Kandahar, as elsewhere in Afghanistan, popular anger at foreign troops was undoubtedly stoked by the inevitable killing and detention of the innocent people that accompanies SOF night raids.

According to the figures released by Petraeus, for every targeted individual killed or captured in the raids, three non-targeted individuals were killed and another four were detained.

Based on past cases of false reporting by SOF units, a large proportion of the 1,031 killed in the raids and identified as "insurgents" were simply neighbours who had come out of their homes with guns when they heard the raiders.

Gen. McChrystal referred to that chronic problem in a statement on his directive on night raids last March. "Instinctive responses" by an Afghan man to "defend his home and family are sometimes interpreted as insurgent acts, with tragic results," McChyrstal said.

SOF units have routinely reported those killed under such circumstances as insurgents rather than as innocent civilians.

When an SOF unit raided the home of a low-level commander in Laghman province on Jan. 26, 2009, 13 men came out of nearby homes. They were all killed and later included in the tally of Taliban reported killed in the raid.

The problem of false reporting was brought to light most dramatically after a botched SOF raid in Gardez Feb. 12, when two men who emerged from buildings in the compound targeted by an SOF unit were shot and killed. Within hours of the raid, ISAF issued a statement describing the two men as "insurgents".

That falsehood was later revealed only because the two men happened to be a police official and a government prosecutor. In the same incident, the SOF unit accidentally killed three women, two of whom were pregnant, but reported to headquarters that the women had been found tied up.

McChrystal defended the SOF unit against charges by eyewitnesses that its members had tried to cover up the killing, even after the head of the Afghan interior ministry investigation of the incident publicly declared that the testimony was credible.

The figure of 1,355 insurgents "captured" in the raids given out by the International Security Assistance Force is also highly misleading. In response to an IPS query about the figure, ISAF public affairs officer Maj. Sunset R. Belinsky confirmed that the figure "reflects insurgents or suspected insurgents captured during operations".

In fact, the vast majority were simply swept up because they happened to be present in a house or compound targeted in a raid.

An ISAF press release Sep. 8 illustrates how such a larger number was accumulated. In a raid on the compound of a suspected "insurgent commander" in Paktika province Sep. 7, the SOF unit ordered all occupants to leave the compound and detained "several suspected insurgents" after "initial questioning".

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have never released figures on what proportion of Afghans detained as suspected insurgents were eventually released because of lack of evidence. Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone, who reviewed U.S. detainee policies in early 2009, was reported by The Guardian Oct. 14, 2009 to have concluded that two-thirds of the detainees still being held by the U.S. military as Taliban insurgents were innocent.

The claim of 365 "insurgent leaders" killed or captured is also highly misleading.

At his confirmation hearing in June, Petraeus referred to the targets of SOF raids as "middle and upper level Taliban and other extremist element leaders".

That terminology was later abandoned, however. When questioned about the figure last month, an ISAF official, speaking on condition of anonymity, conceded that it was not clear what authority the targeted "leaders" had. There is no organisational diagram for the Taliban, the official told IPS, and Taliban fighters are not organised in military units.

The vast majority of those "leaders", it appears, were low level Taliban personnel who are easily replaced.

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam [1]", was published in 2006.

Copyright © 2010 IPS-Inter Press Service


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 16, 2010, 06:17:07 am
South Asia
Sep 17, 2010 
Loaves, not bombs, pose significant threat

By Matthew C DuPee and Ahmad Waheed

Afghanistan faces a serious food crisis, especially through the southern, eastern and central regions, which is adding to the burden for a war-ravaged nation blighted by protracted insurgency, political instability and an entrenched illicit narcotics industry.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture confirmed a shortfall of 700,000 tons of wheat due to a nationwide decrease in wheat output - suggesting an estimated 4.5 million tons of wheat will be produced this year, insufficient to meet projected demand for 5.2 million tons, as extraordinary consumption makes Afghanistan vulnerable to price spikes from exporters it relies on to fill the gap.
''The government of Afghanistan needs to act quickly to control the food crisis,'' said Mohammad Eshaq Zeerak, director for the Ghazni Rural Support Program (GRSP) in the eastern province that was hit by flooding in August. ''National strategic food stocks need to be completed before the winter months because remote provinces like Ghor, Daikundi, Bamyan, Badakhshan, Nuristan, and even Ghazni will be desperate following the weather-related closure of the roads two-months from now.''

Flooding has destroyed agricultural plots and food stocks in nine out of 12 provinces in the central region of Afghanistan, and the possibility of the total loss of Afghanistan's wheat industry from fungal infection looms large, with grave implications for security, stability and economy. While Afghan officials are confident in obtaining wheat imports to make up this year's projected national shortfall, traditional suppliers - Pakistan, Kazakhstan and Russia - are hard-pressed.

Severe drought has cut output in Russia, the world’s third-largest wheat producer, by one third of last year's harvest, hit production in Kazakhstan, the largest supplier to Afghanistan, while floods in Pakistan’s breadbasket left more than 3.2 million hectares of farmland underwater or destroyed.

Regional food shortages can have devastating effects because Afghanistan does not have a well-developed transportation network. Parts of the country are already dependent on food aid, so the global and regional crimp on wheat production will ultimately pose an additional socio-economic problem and affect the international community’s involvement in Afghanistan.

Domestic wheat production has suffered this year due to recent flood and locust swarms but officials from the United States Agency of International Aid (USAID) do not expect the food security conditions to be as severe as the 2008 crisis. However, regional agricultural experts have warned that recent flooding, especially in Ghazni, has led to a decrease in local wheat output by 50%.

Consequently, in the south, the price of a loaf of wheat bread increased from 10 to 14 Afghanis last month. The price of wheat has increased from 70-80 Afghanis per seer ($1.40-1.6 per 7 kg) to 120 to 130 Afghanis per seer in there north, an Afghan resident from Kunduz told Asia Times Online. This 40% increase in price came into play after local traders heard about the effects of the Russian wheat crises on world food security.

Residents and agriculture experts want the Afghan government to fix wheat prices and are upset by its inaction. "Residents are very angry about the high prices and blame the government for not doing anything to fix it," Azizullah, a resident in Kandahar province told Asia Times Online.

If price increases continued, he added, people would definitely react strongly against the government. ''This crisis will only exacerbate the current distrust of a government unable to provide basic services to its citizens."

The average Afghan gets 60% of total calorific intake from wheat, according to surveys conducted by the US Department of Agriculture, and with 162 kilograms needed for every person annually it relies heavily on wheat imports. In 2008, the supply network broke down due to deficiencies in domestic and Pakistani wheat production and the tightening ban on Pakistani wheat exports.

Afghan wheat production rose substantially in 2009, thanks to good weather conditions and a stagnant market price for opium. But the conundrum facing Afghan farmers this year is hedging bets on a profitable and reliable crop of illicit "poppy" or growing more difficult wheat.

High opium prices and ongoing instability throughout the poppy belt of southern Afghanistan will leave opium as an enticing cash crop for many farmers. In 2009, Afghanistan had its second consecutive annual decline in nationwide opium output, to 6,700 tons from an estimated 7,700 tonnes in 2008. The downward trend has continued in 2010, with a plant disease destroying large portions of the opium crop.

The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime has estimated that Afghanistan stands to lose a third, or 2,300 tonnes, of its opium output this year. However, despite repeated claims that wealthy traffickers and insurgent syndicates possess a suspected 10,000 tonne oversupply of raw opium, the market price has soared since May and is now hovering around $325 per kilogram, the highest market price in over six years.

Undoubtedly, in light of the agricultural destruction in Pakistan and the crimp in wheat supply from Kazakhstan, the demand for domestic wheat will be substantial. Afghanistan’s underdeveloped transportation infrastructure will also continue to hinder its ability to diversify its sources of imported grain.

Prior to the monsoon disaster that struck Pakistan in July, Pakistan’s government allowed the All Pakistan Flour Mills Association (APFMA) to export wheat to Afghanistan, fixing the export quota at 200,000 tons. This may change however in light of the recent monsoons. Pakistan produced an estimated 23.687 million tons of wheat during the 2009-2010 seasons and has a 3.5 million carry-over stock from 2008. Pakistan’s domestic wheat consumption hovers around 23 million tons. The monsoons have destroyed an estimated 600,000 tons of wheat and that number is likely to increase.

Afghanistan itself is not immune to the various natural catastrophes ravaging this year’s wheat output. In northern Samangan province, located in Afghanistan’s traditional wheat belt, a locust swarm destroyed thousands of hectares of wheat in the first two weeks of August. Torrential floods destroyed farm plots throughout eastern Afghanistan near the Pakistani border where monsoons laid waste to wheat fields. In the first nine days of August, flash floods and heavy rains destroyed agricultural plots and food stocks in nine out of 12 provinces in the central region of Afghanistan, resulting in the destruction of thousands hectares of agricultural land and inflicted human losses.

Additionally, current projections tracking the devastating plant virus Ug99, a black stem fungus that leeches the nutrients from the crop and kills it, has moved steadily eastward from its origin in Uganda and into the Middle East. Due to its lightweight and ability to travel for miles after becoming airborne, scientists discovered Ug99 in Iranian wheat fields in 2007; a full two years earlier than they projected the strain to hit.

With little access to sophisticated farming equipment such as fungicides and herbicides, Afghanistan’s domestic wheat industry will be severely damaged once Ug99 penetrates the farmland of northern and southern Afghanistan. Scientists familiar with the Ug99 fungus have projected a 90% to 100 % loss in Afghanistan’s wheat production if the fungus arrives before so-called ''rust resistant'' wheat seed varieties are introduced into at least 10% of Afghanistan’s sown wheat fields.

''While an outbreak of Ug99 in Afghanistan has not been reported yet, it’s very likely that the fungus will reach Afghanistan very soon because of the ineffective quarantine system of Afghanistan,” Abdul Saboor Jawad, an agricultural expert working in Kabul, told Asia Times Online.

The threat of Ug99 and this year’s devastating poppy blight, a plant-eating disease that destroyed upward of 2,200 tons of Afghan opium output, further exasperates the challenges associated with improving Afghanistan’s rural economic infrastructure. In this sense, environmental factors and agricultural challenges like virulent fungi may indeed pose a more significant threat to a greater swathe of the Afghan population than bullets or bombs. The growing discontent over government inefficiency and is growing by the day.

"Some agriculture and economic experts had warned the Afghan government to be prepared with the right means to face this huge challenge, but all their warnings fell into the deaf ears of the government authorities," Nasrullah Aman, an Afghan Fulbright scholar from Kunduz province told Asia Times Online.

"Now the problem is here. The most serious impact of the wheat crisis in Afghanistan is the further widening of the gap between the government and the people. People have already lost faith in this government due to the widespread corruption and absence of law and order. So, this crisis will exacerbate the situation and may even take things to the exploding point."

With wheat representing between 2.1 and 2.5 million hectares of farmland in Afghanistan, or nearly 60% of the country’s entire farm plots, securing Afghanistan's wheat industry is critical in stabilizing the country over the long term. The United States and the international community may be under considerable pressure to make headway against a burgeoning Taliban-led insurgency, but a vigorous and serious attempt must also be made to stabilize Afghanistan’s rural and agricultural sectors.

Matthew C DuPee is a senior research associate and Afghan specialist at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Ahmad Waheed is an Afghan Fulbright scholar and research analyst for the Program of Culture and Conflict Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 17, 2010, 06:14:46 am
South Asia
Sep 18, 2010 
An Afghan bone for Obama to chew on

By M K Bhadrakumar

When Robert Blackwill, who was former United States secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's deputy as national security adviser and George W Bush's presidential envoy to Iraq, took the podium at the International Institute of Strategic Studies think-tank in London on Monday to present his "Plan B" on Afghanistan, readers of the Wall Street Journal would have wondered what was afoot.

Blackwill is wired deep into the bowels of the US establishment, especially the Pentagon headed by Robert Gates. And the IISS prides itself as having been "hugely influential in setting the intellectual structures for managing the Cold War". Thus, the setting on Monday was perfect.

Blackwill has remarkable credentials to undertake exploratory voyages into the trajectory of US foreign policy. In a memorable opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal in March 2005 titled "A New Deal for New Delhi", he accurately predicted the blossoming of the US-India strategic partnership. He wrote:

The US should integrate India into the evolving global non-proliferation regime as a friendly nuclear weapons state ... Why should the US want to check India's missile capability in ways that could lead to China's permanent nuclear dominance over democratic India? ... We should sell advanced weaponry to India ... Given the strategic challenges ahead, the US should want the Indian armed forces to be equipped with the best weapons systems ... To make this happen, the US has to become a reliable long-term supplier, including through co-production and licensed manufacture arrangements.
Blackwill's construct almost verbatim did become US policy. Again, in December 2007 he penned a most thoughtful article titled "Forgive Russia, Confront Iran". He wrote:

To engage Russia, we need to substantially change our current policy approach to Moscow ... This is not to underrate the difficulties of interacting with Moscow on its external policies and its often-raw pursuit of power politics and spheres of influence ... But there are strategic priorities, substantive trade-offs and creative compromises that Western governments should consider. The West needs to adopt tactical flexibility and moderate compromise with Moscow.
Again, he hit the bull's eye in anticipating the US's reset with Russia. So, an interesting question arises: Is he sprinting indefatigably toward a hat-trick?

There can be no two opinions that the crisis situation in Afghanistan demands out-of-the-box thinking. Blackwill's radically original mind has come up with an intellectual construct when hardly 10 weeks are left for US President Barack Obama to take the plunge into his Afghanistan strategy review.

Blackwill foresees that the US's Afghan counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy is unlikely to succeed and an accommodation of the Taliban in its strongholds becomes inevitable in the near future. The current indications are that the process is already underway. (See Taliban and US get down to talks Asia Times Online, September 10, 2010.)

The Blackwill plan probes the downstream of this "accommodation". Blackwill flatly rules out a rapid withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan as that would be a "strategic calamity" for regional stability, would hand over a tremendous propaganda victory to the world syndicate of Islamist radicals, would "profoundly undermine" the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and would be seen as a failure of US leadership and strategic resolve.

Therefore, he proposes as a US policy goal a rationalization of the tangled, uneven Afghan battlefield so that it becomes more level and predictable and far less bloody, and enforcement of the game can come under new ground rules.

Prima facie, it appears scandalous as a plan calling for the "partition" of Afghanistan, but in actuality it is something else. In short, US forces should vacate the Taliban's historic strongholds in the Pashtun south and east and should relocate to the northern, central and western regions inhabited by non-Pashtun tribes.

Blackwill suggests the US should "enlist" the Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras to do more of the anti-Taliban resistance, instead of COIN. And the US should only take recourse to massive air power and the use of special forces if contingencies arise to meet any residual threats from the Taliban after their political accommodation in their strongholds.

A striking aspect of the Blackwill plan is that it is rooted in Afghan history and politics, the regional milieu and the interplay of global politics. Since 1761, Afghanistan has survived essentially as a loose-knit federation of ethnic groups under Kabul's notional leadership. The plan taps into the interplay of ethnicity in Afghan politics. The political reality today is that the Taliban have come to be the best-organized Afghan group and they are disinterested in a genuinely broad-based power-sharing arrangement in Kabul.

Unsurprisingly, the non-Pashtun groups feel uneasy. Their fears are not without justification insofar as the erstwhile anti-Taliban Northern Alliance has disintegrated and regional powers that are opposed to the Taliban, such as Russia, Iran and India, have such vastly divergent policy objectives (and priorities) that they cannot join hands, leave alone finance or equip another anti-Taliban resistance.

The Kabul government headed by President Hamid Karzai is far too weak to perform such a role. (Blackwill, curiously, doesn't visualize Karzai surviving.) According to Blackwill's plan, the US offers itself as the bulwark against an outright Taliban takeover. It envisages the US using decisive force against any Taliban attempt to expand beyond its Pashtun strongholds in the south and east, and to this end it promises security to non-Pashtun groups.

If it works, the plan could be a geopolitical coup for the US. It quintessentially means the US would hand over to the Taliban (which is heavily under the influence of the Pakistani military) the south and east bordering Pakistan while US forces would relocate to the regions bordering Central Asia and Iran.

The US would be extricating itself from fighting and bloodshed, while at the same time perpetuating its military presence in the region to provide a security guarantee to the weak Kabul government and as a bulwark against anarchy and extremism - on the pattern in Iraq.

The US's and NATO's profile as real-time providers of regional security and stability can only boost their influence in Central Asian capitals.

Seemingly recent random "happenings" mesh with Blackwill's plan, including:

-A base to be built for US special forces in Mazar-i-Sharif.

-The expansion of the air bases at Bagram and Shindand.

-The overhaul of the massive Soviet-era air base in Termez by the US and NATO.

-An agreement between the German Bundeswehr and the Uzbek government regarding Termez as a stop-off point for NATO military flights.

-Fresh deployments of US special forces in Kunduz.

-The US's parleys with non-Pashtun leaders in Berlin.

-Mounting pressure on Hamid Karzai's brother Ahmed Wali Karzai to vacate Kandahar

(Blackwill said in an interview with the British Telegraph newspaper last week, "How many people really believe that Kandahar is central to Western civilization? We did not go to Afghanistan to control Kandahar.")

As a seasoned diplomat, Blackwill argues that China and Russia will choose to be stakeholders in an enterprise in which Washington underwrites Central Asia's security. True, China and Russia will be hard-pressed to contest the US's open-ended military presence in Afghanistan that is on the face of it projected as the unfinished business of the "war on terrorism". Central Asian states will be delighted at the prospect of the US joining the fight against creeping Islamism from Afghanistan.

The Blackwill plan brilliantly turns around the Taliban's ascendancy since 2005, which had occurred under Pakistani tutelage and, in retrospect, thanks to US passivity.

Blackwill admits that his plan "would allow Washington to focus on four issues more vital to its national interests: the rise of Chinese power, the Iranian nuclear program, nuclear terrorism and the future of Iraq".

Without suffering a strategic defeat, the US would be able to extricate itself from the war while the drop in war casualties would placate US opinion so that a long-term troop presence (as in Iraq) at the level of 50,000 or so would become sustainable. This was exactly what General David Petraeus, now the top US man in Afghanistan, achieved in Iraq.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 17, 2010, 06:18:12 am
South Asia
Sep 18, 2010 
Diplomatic flurry over peace talks

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

ISLAMABAD - Afghan President Hamid Karzai has a love-and-hate relationship with Pakistan's military establishment. In the late 1990s, he stood up against the Pakistan army-supported Taliban regime in Afghanistan and as a consequence he lost his father and was forced to take refuge in an upscale neighborhood of the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi.

Everything changed with the United States-led invasion of Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban in late 2001, thrusting Karzai back into the spotlight. Under American pressure, Pakistan did not have any choice but to support him. In 2004, Islamabad rallied support for Karzai's election campaign in Pakistan's Afghan refugee camps. Similar support came in 2009.

With the Afghan war at a critical stage and US President Barack Obama due to give an official review of Afghan strategy in December, Washington and the allied Pakistan military cannot afford to change horses in mid-stream. Washington will therefore be hoping for a sizeable pro-Karzai constituency in the parliament that is due to be elected on Saturday.

As in the past, the Pakistan army will use its connections with the Taliban to press for as little election violence as possible - if not a ceasefire - in the Pashtun-dominated south to smooth the way for pro-Karzai candidates.

Diplomats keeping busy
The Afghanistan Study Group, a gathering of 46 foreign-policy experts including critics of the war and some who until recently supported US policy, is due to meet in the US on Friday. It has invited some mediators from the Afghan resistance. Karzai, along with the US's top man in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, recently met Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani to work out measures to prevent poll violence.

Immediately after the elections, all key international players will meet in Pakistan to help the US make a decision ahead of December on whether it will begin a withdrawal from Afghanistan as planned for next year or continue fighting.

Earlier, as a part of the diplomatic flurry, United States special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke visited Pakistan, followed by Karzai and Petraeus. One of the main topics was to reinforce Karzai's position in Kabul so that he will be in a position to deal with whatever emerges, be it peace with the Taliban or war with them. Kiani and the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, were also involved.

The next key person to visit Pakistan will be Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, Saudi Arabia's intelligence chief who is also a special envoy of King Saud assigned to deal with the Taliban. Aziz is expected within the next few days.

Contacts familiar with the process have told Asia Times Online that "high-profile" meetings have been lined up for Aziz in safe houses during which he will try his level best to make a breakthrough in the nascent peace process between the Taliban and the US. Asia Times Online has exclusively reported that preliminary talks between the Taliban and the US have begun, with the Pakistan military and Saudi Arabia acting as go-betweens. (See Taliban and US get down to talks September 10, 2010.)

On September 25, former United Arab Emirates ambassador to Pakistan Ali Mohammad al-Shamsi, who enjoyed personal relations with the Taliban leadership and who is now the UAE's envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, will arrive in Pakistan. He will spend two days in the country to deliver his feedback on the most recent talks with the Taliban. He will also have some "high-profile" meetings with his erstwhile Taliban friends.

Shamsi will then travel to Afghanistan to give his input to Petraeus and Karzai. This interaction will be reflected in a new report by the Afghanistan Study Group, which in turn will play a part in the US's December strategy review.

With time running out, Washington is gradually agreeing to major concessions with the Taliban. A previous distinction between "reconcilable Taliban" (non-ideological or less ideologically motivated) and "irreconcilable Taliban" (the ideologically motivated **** led by Mullah Omar) has been simplified into "Taliban" and "al-Qaeda-linked Taliban".

Despite these peace moves, Taliban attacks in Afghanistan continue unabated. A visibly nervous Washington is aware that the next steps will become increasingly tougher, and that in Mullah Omar they have a stubborn and possibly capricious adversary who could easily take the whole process back to square one.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 17, 2010, 06:20:37 am
South Asia
Sep 18, 2010 
Afghan vote a foregone conclusion

By Aunohita Mojumdar

KABUL - As Afghans go to the polls to elect a new parliament, the result is already a foregone conclusion. Far from handing power to one political party, voters will return 249 individuals who must act as a de facto and fragmented opposition with little hope of setting out viable alternatives to the government's agenda.

In the country's party-less system, political allegiances are ever shifting - changing from policy to policy - and groups of MPs have often used their spoiler ability to extract concessions rather than shape administrative agendas. Realizing that the only leverage is their ability to block the government, MPs have come together to oppose sections of the budget, appointments to high office, including the cabinet, and critical legislation that the government wants to pass.

The legislative body has been a thorn in Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's side. He will be looking for the September 18 polls to help consolidate his power after reports that prominent opposition leaders have been co-opted by the government in recent months, analysts say.

''While pre-election politicking […] has generated a prominent (and very public chasm) between the Wolesi Jirga [lower house of parliament] and the Karzai administration, under the surface exist connections between MPs and the executive that threaten to strip the parliament of any monitoring or oversight capacity that it currently has,'' Anna Larson wrote in a report by the Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit (AREU).

Major government initiatives - such as the move towards negotiations with the Taliban or the cross-border peace jirga - have completely bypassed parliament for a "wider" consultation with the people, inherently implying its non-representative nature.

Former President Burhanuddin Rabbani, a key member of the Northern Alliance, which includes Karzai challenger Abdullah Abdullah, have made peace with Karzai. Though Abdullah was sharply critical of the peace jirga held in June, Rabbani agreed to chair it, taking the steam out of opposition to the event. In the week preceding the election, another Northern Alliance member, the current speaker of the lower house of parliament, Younus Qanooni, was forced to deny he had struck a deal with Karzai in return for continuing in the post. Qanooni is a sharp political operator whose skills have honed parliament’s oppositional tactics.

Several key players may be considering their political options since no one is quite sure what the elections will throw up. Insecurity, fraud, and doubts over Afghan voters' eagerness and ability to exercise their right to vote, all present a range of unpredictables.

The country's Independent Election Commission, which has distributed 17.5 million voter registration cards for Saturday's ballot, puts the voting population at about 12.5 million, while the UN says the eligible voters number 10.5 million, based on past voting. Added to that uncertainty is that 15% of voters have been potentially disenfranchised by the pre-polling decision not to open more than 1,000 polling stations which cannot be secured due to the ongoing conflict.

The difficulty of arriving at anything more than a guesstimate of the voting population is not merely statistical trivia but at the heart of the challenge of mounting elections in a complex situation. There is no method of cross-checking a voter registration card against a voter roll to eliminate fraud. This makes it impossible to gauge the real voter turnout, so there is no available measure of participation in the democratic exercise.

Unlike most elections, where the candidate tries to meet as much of the electorate as possible, for many of Afghanistan's prospective parliamentarians, campaigning has meant their going into hiding or leaving their constituencies to safeguard themselves from kidnapping and attacks by anti-election elements. Yet enthusiasm for the election is high, with more than 2,500 candidates seeking seats including tailors, newscasters, singers and businessmen.

A new crop of influential militia commanders has also entered the fray, according to Noah Coburn, writing for the AREU. Having chosen not to run in 2005, they have now seen the ''clear financial benefits of securing a seat and feeling reassured by a continued culture of impunity,'' Coburn said.

According to reports, some candidates have sought support from insurgents or even asked them to target their opponents. Direct violence between one candidate against a rival has also been reported.

Equally problematic is the issue of how free and fair the contest will be, a year after the 2009 presidential elections that were characterized by widespread fraud. Last year, ballot boxes in many areas were stuffed, while areas of high insecurity saw "ghost" polling stations that did not open or see any voters yet returned full ballot boxes.

Electoral fraud was not limited to ballot-box stuffing. The counting stage provided many steps that could be compromised. These included tamper-proof bags to transport votes that were tampered, tally sheets that did not tally, and triggers to alert to suspicious voting patterns that failed to be triggered during counting, according to Martine van Bijlert of the Afghan Analysts Network, who has dissected incidents of fraud in a recent report.

There is a high likelihood of fraud repeating itself due to a lack of any punitive measures put in place following last year's elections. The maximum penalty imposed was the blacklisting of some election officials, so the cost of attempted fraud in the current ballot is extremely low.

The crowning absurdity of the Afghan elections however is the voting system. Neither the preferential list system, nor the single-non transferable vote, it combines the worst of both, preventing political consolidation. The result is a fragmented and weak polity. Supporters of the system say Afghanistan first needs stability, while critics say the fragmented polity is one of the causes of continuing instability as it prevents the growth of a healthy democracy.

Either way, the final result is not political groups, agendas, manifestos or visions for Afghanistan's future within the parliament, but a collection of 249 individuals unbound by allegiance to any group.

Aunohita Mojumdar is an Indian freelance journalist based in Kabul. She has reported on the South Asian region for the past 19 years.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 17, 2010, 06:34:39 am
Afghan resistance statement

Why Defection is so High Among the Police and Army?

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Shawwal 06, 1431 A.H, Thursday, September 16, 2010

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

American generals who train Afghan police and soldiers admit, they have problems in recruiting and training policemen and soldiers. Security circles of the stooge Kabul Administration also confirm these reports. One of the problems is the growing trend of defection among the ranks of the Afghan security forces, which is now reaching at more than 20%. American General William Kalduwil, who heads police and soldiers training program, says, the accelerating rate of defections among the recruits has had a negative impact on endeavors to meet training and recruitment goals.

Spokesmen of the Kabul Administration Defense Ministry admits the trend, but says the number is insignificant. On the other hand, those policemen and soldiers who have deserted police and army, speak of high rate of defections. They confirm that many policemen and soldiers want to join the forces of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. They say, their deployment at the frontlines of battles and low salaries are main reasons for their defections.

Zabiullah Bukhari and Kamal, former soldiers of the so-called National Army, who have now deserted, say: fear of Taliban, low salary, armed clashes with Taliban and security problems during commuting to the site of duty, were reasons that compelled them to quit the duty. Americans are trying to distort facts surrounding the events of defections among the stooge security forces, but the Afghan Mujahid and Muslim people know and the military experts of the West and the world are now of the opinion that America and her allies are facing defeat in the war of Afghanistan. They have two options: either to defect or face death. There is no third option left for the stooge forces.

It is also a matter of pondering that how can the soldiers and policemen trained by the Americans who are themselves facing defeats at the hands of the Mujahideen, be expected to excel in combat than their trainers, the Americans. Furthermore, there are some committed and faithful soldiers among the ranks of the enemy that time and again turn barrels of their guns towards the invading Americans and other aggressors. Through killing or injuring the invaders, they themselves either lay down their lives during the bout or escape the scene scotch free.

The Mujahideen are no match with the invading Americans in terms of weapons and logistics but still the most sophisticated army of the world retreat in battle fields versus the empty- handed Mujahideen. The invaders see no capability in themselves to outface the lions of the path of Truth, nor their surrogate soldiers and police men are in a position to turn the tide. This means only material power is not enough for victory. Rather, belief, determination, legitimate cause and stand contribute to victory over a powerful foe even if the devoted combatants are weak from the point of material facilities.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 17, 2010, 06:45:59 am
Taliban Could Defeat NATO in 30 Days

Logistics is the Achilles heel of Western forces

by Matthew Nasuti


Kabul Press, September 16, 2010

Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s announcement on September 8, 2010, that the Taliban was close to victory against NATO should not be dismissed. The Taliban have the military capacity to shut down the NATO supply links to Pakistan and other adjoining countries. NATO and American forces have such exorbitant daily supply needs that the Taliban could force some or potentially most Western forces to retreat from Afghanistan within 30 days.

Western military supplies (other than ammunition, weapons, communications gear and some spare parts, which apparently are all air-lifted) filter into Afghanistan through a small number of mountain passes and then are internally redistributed through a poorly constructed and insecure "ring road" system. On June 20, 2009, Major-General Michael Tucker, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations of ISAF in Kabul, told Philip Smucker of the Asia Times (for his story Afghanistan’s Road to Somewhere), that: "Security in Afghanistan is ultimately defined by our ability to build and defend the ring road."

He was correct and the Taliban know it. As seen in the daily military incident reports, the Taliban have spent years practicing and perfecting their road interdiction tactics. NATO and American forces do not possess the manpower to patrol 3,000+ kilometers of primary roads. In contrast, the Taliban possess the capacity to cut, block and disrupt this road system. The bridges, overpasses, tunnels and passes are especially vulnerable to sabotage during the winter months.

In 1761, the "father" of Afghanistan, the great Pashtun leader Ahmed Khan Abdali/Ahmed Shah Durrani defeated the Maratha army at Panipat, in Haryana State, about 120 kilometers north of New Delhi. He succeeded for two reasons. First, he was able to bring together a number of disaffected groups (Pashtuns, Balochi, Sindhi, Jats and Rajputs), which is exactly what the Taliban is doing. Second, he understood that he could not launch a conventional attack on fortified Maratha positions. The Maratha army was armed with French heavy rifled artillery and all the other components and equipment of a modern 18th century army. It was a heavy, road-bound force. The Pashtun forces, on the other hand, were mainly light cavalry. Ahmed Shah Durrani decided on a siege strategy and was successful in cutting the Maratha supply lines for two months. In January 1761, the Maratha had had enough and left their fortified bases only to suffer defeat at the hands of the Pashtun and their allies. This battle, and its tactics and strategy are well known to Taliban leaders. It may be the model for their future efforts.

The paradox for NATO and the Americans is that in September, 2010, they will have deployed the largest number of troops they ever had in Afghanistan, and yet that is when they are the most vulnerable, as the supply needs for this huge force are potentially crippling.

Western armies have logistics systems which are excessively and unnecessarily complex. American forces alone reportedly require a million gallons of fuel per day and all of it has to be trucked into Afghanistan. Consider this comparison:

1942: A German Panzer Division needed from 30-70 tons of supplies per day.

1968: A North Vietnamese Army Division needed less than 10 tons of supplies per day.

2010: An American Army Division needs in excess of 3,000 tons of supplies per day.

Western bases have all the comforts of home, including gyms and restaurants, and an army of contractors to serve all the needs of the troops. The Western way of war is expensive, wasteful and inefficient.

General David Patraeus needs to act immediately and decisively to reduce his vulnerabilities. He needs to take revolutionary steps to reduce the logistics needs of NATO and American forces. This includes eliminating all private contractors, and removing equipment and troops that are duplicative and unnecessary. The military needs to be relatively self-sufficient. He needs to have contingency plans which will permit Western forces to operate for up to 90 days based on only air resupply.

Finally, General Patraeus needs to consider a new deployment strategy for his surged forces by reducing his footprint in Afghanistan during the winter months. 30,000+ troops should be withdrawn by November and returned to Afghanistan in late spring to deal with any new Taliban offensive. There is no reason to winter-over all of these forces.

Sadly the Pentagon and NATO will do none of these things. If and when the Taliban elect to strike, Western politicians and military officials will claim that they could not have anticipated such a military tactic as cutting off supply routes, even though the Viet Minh used this tactic very effectively at Dien Bien Phu. There will be excuses and finger-pointing and inevitably a scapegoat chosen. The West has adopted a "prayer strategy" for Afghanistan; officials are praying that their supply lines will not be cut. That is a recipe for disaster.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 21, 2010, 07:12:24 am
Afghan resistance statement

Statement of the Islamic Emirate of Regarding the American Process of the Misleading Elections

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

September 20, 2010

Viewing that the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan foiled the so-called elections process of the parliament on September 18, as they have already foiled other conspiracies with the help of Allah (SwT) and the help of the Mujahid people of Afghanistan, Therefore, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan congratulates the Mujahid nation particularly the heroic Mujahideen on this victory and the resulting disgrace to the enemy. Hence, it declares as follows:

1. The wake and brave nation of Afghanistan positively responded to the call of the Islamic Emirate not to participate in the misleading elections under the American process. Avoiding participation in this process, the majority people of Afghanistan unquestionably rejected the elections. Therefore, the results of the elections are not acceptable to them.

2. Polling stations remained closed in 162 districts out of almost 400 districts. 1260 polling stations closed before 11 o’clock of the day. Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate, entirely attacked 480 polling centers. Only in capital Kabul and provincial cities of Mazar-e-sharif, Herat and other few provincial cities, some government employees went to the polling stations to cast votes. So these elections were only limited to the administrative employees of the Kabul stooge administration and which, ironically, the pro-government media still calls as elections. Therefore, the outcome of the so-called elections has no legal credibility.

3. The freedom-loving people of Afghanistan practically showed that they are against the foreigners and their flunkeys by not participating in the so-called elections process conducted by the invaders and their surrogates. So the invading forces should take a lesson from this fiasco and should put an end to the occupation of Afghanistan and their hostage-taking our people.

4. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan reaffirms to the public of the world that neither the invading forces nor their stooge administration has hold over vast areas of the country, nor they are able to conduct fraud-free elections. Only, they want to pave the way for the most unscrupulous and corruption-ridden elements to grab power time and again.

Therefore, all the public of the world should reject all anti-Afghan intrigues of the invaders, particularly, their foiled and misleading elections process and should not recognize the would- be selected surrogates as the genuine representatives of our nation.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 23, 2010, 05:49:27 am
South Asia
Sep 24, 2010 
Afghan militia policing role under fire

By Mustafa Sarwar and Ron Synovitz

Amir Mohammad is among a handful of tribal leaders to remain in Kandahar province's Arghandab district since the Taliban sent threatening letters to elders this summer.

The letters - hand-delivered in late July and carrying the seal of the Taliban - warned specific tribal elders to leave Afghanistan within five days or be killed. Mohammad says most of the targeted elders fled the central district after receiving the notices.

"Our elders have gone to the city [of Kandahar], leaving the district empty," Mohammad says. "So when the villages are left empty the security gets worse. If you stay in the villages then


security will come on its own accord, but if [elders] are outside of the district and villages, security deteriorates."

Now, under a new decree from Afghan President Hamid Karzai, local militia fighters in the Arghandab district are being given police uniforms, salaries, guns and ammunition to fight against the Taliban.

Arghandab is one of eight districts across southern and western Afghanistan where the first phase of Karzai's so-called Local Police Initiative is being implemented. Other districts are in the provinces of Herat, Paktika, Paktia and Oruzgan. Authorities in Kabul say the plan eventually will be expanded to include parts of eastern and northern Afghanistan.

But Michael Hanna, an expert on Afghanistan at The Century Foundation in New York, warns that the plan could have negative consequences if it isn't implemented with an understanding of local tribes and their historic rivalries.

"You could think of specific areas - perhaps in Paktia province or others - where village defense forces would be a positive initiative, but other areas where you could imagine this would fuel conflict and rapacious activity on the part of warlords," he says.

Hanna also says empowering militias from one Afghan tribe could plant the seeds of future conflict with rival Afghan clans.

"It's a very controversial proposition simply because of the country's history with the militias," Hanna says. "People are concerned that you have people under arms [who are] outside of the control of any governmental authority. That obviously creates serious concern among many."

Potential risks
For years, experts have warned that arming and paying Pashtun militia fighters in southern Afghanistan would lead powerful ethnic Tajik commanders in northern Afghanistan to take similar steps and empower their own loyal militia fighters.

Since Karzai signed his Local Police Initiative decree, some militia fighters have been deputized by provincial authorities as "village defense forces" in several volatile districts of Balkh province. Those forces are, in fact, independent militia groups led by their former mujahideen commanders.

Balkh province governor Atta Mohammad Noor, an ethnic-Tajik former Northern Alliance commander who has a shaky relationship with Karzai, says he mustered those militia fighters in August to add security ahead of September's parliamentary elections.

In a recent Time magazine interview, the Balkh governor admitted he acted independently of Karzai when he empowered militia fighters as "village defense forces". He also insisted that the local commanders were loyal to both Kabul and "the people who have selected them."

Former Afghan deputy interior minister Abdul Hadi Khalid says he thinks empowering militia fighters as police could lead to future conflicts between rival militia. Khalid says the Local Police Initiative also could empower groups that support the interests of foreign countries rather than the central government in Kabul.

"If you arm one side, then the other side will get the opportunity to be armed too," Khalid says. "If [United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization] forces decrease their presence in the country, there will be tribal clashes and confrontation."

He continues: "Look at the region. There are Iranian, Pakistani and Central Asian regimes. The Russians, India and China all have interests in Afghanistan. There also are certain parties and groups that support the interests of foreign countries. Therefore, in my view, [empowering Afghan militia fighters as local police] will have negative implications that cannot be controlled."

Ensuring accountability
But Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemarai Bashari says steps have been taken to ensure that those who receive salaries and weapons under the Local Police Initiative are not Taliban sympathizers or militia fighters whose allegiances lie more with a local warlord than the central government.

"We have taken a number of initiatives in order to prevent the infiltration of saboteurs and enemies in this force," Bashari says. "The young men who will be recruited will be guaranteed by the local elders, and influential and local councils. Also, they will be registered. The intelligence department of the Interior Ministry, along with the National Intelligence Directorate, are part of a special commission that will regularly cooperate with [local] police during both the recruitment process and later, when it will enable them to carry out their tasks in first instance and prevent the infiltration of bad people or those with a past criminal record in the force."

Hanna says the Afghan government made an effort to ensure there are some mechanism of accountability and some level of control to ensure that the Local Police Initiative doesn't create police forces that essentially are independent militia.

"We will see how it works in practice - whether there is, in effect, real accountability and real monitoring, and what sort of responses there will be for abuses," Hanna says.

International human rights groups that have documented abuses by warlords and Afghan militia factions in the past - like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International - are closely watching how Afghanistan's Local Police Initiative is implemented.

Those non-governmental organizations say they will document cases of rights abuses by militia fighters who are given police uniforms, weapons, and salaries by Afghanistan's central government.

(RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan contributed to this report from Kandahar and Kabul.)

Copyright (c) 2010, RFE/RL Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036

(To view the original, please click here.)


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 24, 2010, 06:26:27 am
South Asia
Sep 25, 2010 

It's Obama vs infinite war

By Pepe Escobar

One may be tempted to evaluate American foreign policy as concocted by some deviant disciple of cinema exploitation genius Russ Meyer - of Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill! fame - minus the profusion of breasts, of course.

And so as that self-appointed court stenographer Bob Woodward reveals in his latest court opus Obama's Wars - conveniently leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times - the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is shelling out the moolah for its own, 3,000-assassin-plus Murder Inc to roam in AfPak. These paramilitary - brigade-size - outfits, "elite and well trained", have been branded Counter-terrorist Pursuit Teams (CPT).

Much is being made in US corporate media that this shady CPT posse is able to "cross-over" to the tribal areas in Pakistani territory and, like in that famous Heineken ad campaign, reach the parts US intelligence are not able to reach. Aware Latin Americans - with a shrug - will see this as Bad Joke redux: the "Salvador option" is back. As much as these Afghan assassins have been flown to the US for training, the infamous School of the Americas in the 1970s and 1980s trained death squads of natives to kill their compatriots from Chile to El Salvador. The CIA not exactly excels on thinking outside the box.

Old Afghan hands will also be thrilled; this is a small-scale remix of the Afghan mujahideen fighting the anti-Soviet 1980s jihad. Everyone knows what happened afterwards to those bad asses Ronald Reagan called "freedom fighters"; they turned against the US. Maybe some enterprising CIA analysts should share a kebab with their old pal on a payroll, former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin "bomb, bomb Kabul" Hekmatyar, an eternal mujahid today on Washington's most wanted list.

Calling Jack Bauer

Every grain of sand in the Hindu Kush has known since 2001 that the Americans, be they Pentagon, CIA - some Pakistanis say even the Federal Bureau of Investigation - employ a "secret army" in AfPak. The Pentagon's Murder Inc was unveiled by Wikileaks only three months ago. Now it's Woodward unveiling the CIA's. What next? A Jack Bauer unit, serialized on cable?

Civilian "collateral damage" by the Pentagon's Murder Inc has been splashed on the news virtually every week. As for the CIA's, still there are no numbers. The Hindu Kush grains of sand are also aware that the concept of Pakistani "sovereignty" is a myth. Everyone should expect from now on another rainfall of denials from Islamabad - notwithstanding the fact of Pentagon and CIA killer drones raising hell over large swathes of Pakistani territory (more than 70 strikes in 2010 alone).

If this is a war against al-Qaeda, as the George W Bush/Barack Obama continuum insists, Langley, we got a problem; there's fewer than 50 Arab al-Qaeda jihadis in Afghanistan, as every US intelligence agency proclaims. And there are fewer than 100 jihadis in the Waziristans. If Washington really wants to know where the leadership is, the easiest way is to bribe mid-level Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence operatives in Rawalpindi/Islamabad. The ISI-al Qaeda-Taliban connection is and will remain unbreakable - part of Islamabad's obsession with "strategic depth". This is the connection that killed Northern Alliance commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, the Lion of the Panjshir, on September 9, 2001, two days before 9/11 - thus precluding a true Afghan nationalist from reaching power instead of that Zalmay "Bush's Afghan' Khalilzad asset, Hamid Karzai.

Across what is in effect Pashtunistan, the "border" does not exist - after all the Durand Line was a British invention to split the Pashtuns; everyone has interwoven webs of Pashtun "cousins", everyone is "family". Some family members may rat on others for financial gain, but nothing extremely substantive will come out of it.

I was in Tora Bora in late 2001 when US Special Forces were bribing and advising local commanders on how to attack al-Qaeda. The commanders gleefully took US money, made a pose of throwing a few shells with their outdated Soviet tanks, and helped al-Qaeda - Osama bin Laden included - to escape the other way, to Parachinar, towards the Pakistani tribal areas. They even "advised" the American B52s to bomb the wrong mountains…

Washington is now deploying its full metal jacket - from the Pentagon and CIA secret armies to killer drones to special forces commando raids to Blackwater-conducted "snatch and grab" commandos. All these special effects for what? To kill a few tribal Pakistani Taliban commanders - replaced the same week by a blood relative - and a few jihadis, replaced the same week by a steady stream from the Gulf.

Neither Woodward nor the CIA are volunteering where the Afghan warriors for this Murder Inc are coming from. If they are Tajiks or Uzbeks or Hazaras they cannot crossover to Pakistan's tribal areas without being detected. So they must be Pashtuns from rival tribes. And they're only in it for the money. It's also interesting to consider that the CIA pays for yet another Pashtun militia in Kandahar led by none other then drug business warlord Ahmed Wali Karzai, President Hamid's brother.

Never lose sight of the spectrum

This whole scheme is essentially what passes for General David "I'm always positioning myself to 2012" Petraeus' grandiose COIN strategy; co-opted locals ranged in death squads and paid with Samsonites full of cash (plus a drone war as "back up"). It worked for Petraeus in Iraq - leading him to boast to a gullible corporate media he had "won" the war. Petraeus believes he can pull a remix in AfPak. The Pentagon seems to be at least a bit wary of warlords - as warlord-hostage Hamid Karzai cannot rule even over his throne in Kabul. But the CIA doesn't care about warlords - it goes for broke.

Nothing will change on the ground in terms of the ISI-Taliban nexus. But the game gets much more interesting when one factors what enlightened Pakistani public opinion - in the major urban centers - already fed up with Islamabad's subservience to Washington, will make of Woodward's disclosure.

The key - one may say tragic - point of Woodward's book is that Obama not only cannot end the Afghan war; he cannot even downscale it to target only the fewer than 100 jihadis and the Pakistani Taliban sheltered in the tribal areas without incurring blowback. Woodward says that Obama is seriously betting on his exit strategy - he wants by all means a progressive withdrawal from Afghanistan starting next summer. But "his" general, Petraeus - the Pentagon in fact - wants infinite war.

What Woodward's book - and the corporate media orchestrated narrative - will never tell is "why" infinite war. Because of the New Great Game in Eurasia. Because of the need of military bases to spy on strategic competitors Russia and China. Because of the US's obsession with Pipelineistan in Central Asia bypassing both Russia and Iran. Because of the Pentagon's full spectrum dominance doctrine - which justifies infinitely ballooning military budgets.

If Obama has really admitted, "I can't lose the whole Democratic Party", he knows he is really in a jam; Obama thought he had 2011 and 2012 to wrap-up some kind of AfPak "victory" before US public opinion turned against him. Well, public opinion is already against him (Bill Clinton is encouraging the president to "embrace people's anger" ...) As for wily Petraeus, he has now unleashed a media blitz revolving around one single theme - he won't be rushed, and the war could go on until 2020. In the book, Obama is quoted as saying, "I'm not doing 10 years ... I'm not doing long-term nation-building. I am not spending a trillion dollars".

So what should Obama do? He could call his backers in Hollywood - which after all won the Vietnam war on film. Hollywood also won the Iraq War - via The Hurt Locker. The president could even win an Oscar - much cooler than a Nobel.

Now seriously. In real life, history eschews Hollywood. AfPak may swallow this president, the next president, the CIA and row after row of full spectrum dominance-decorated generals faster than one can say "Faster CIA! Kill! Kill!" Goodbye Kabul? More like Good morning, Vietnam.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 28, 2010, 10:32:22 am
Afghan resistance statement

The Afghans’ Moments of Victory Around the Corner

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

September 27, 2010

President Obama, in an interview with BBC Persian Service, on Friday last, reneged on his promise to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan in July 2011. According to him, The American invading forces will remain in Afghanistan until they achieve their colonialist and regional objectives.

Following the end of the war-mongering and anti-human policy of former president Bush, the public of the world were expecting Obama that he would put an end to this vicious trend; would end occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and close down all notorious and brutal prisons which had , openly and secretly, been set up in Afghanistan, Iraq, Cuba and other parts of the world by the malicious Bush to expand the war and torture the noble sons of the Islamic Ummah. Gaining the helms of affairs, Obama repeated his promise to quit Bushe’s policy and posed himself as flag-bearer of peace and stability. He reiterated frequently that he would close down the notorious prisons; will withdraw troops from Iraq within a year and would draw down forces in Afghanistan in July 2011. But when the time approached, he brazenly retracted on his promise. Neither he closed down the prisons; nor completely withdrew troops from Iraq, nor worked for reconstruction and stability of Iraq. Now even he has backed up from his words to pull American forces out of Afghanistan in July next year. Contrarily, he said in his interview that the American troops would remain in Afghanistan until the fulfillment of their so-called job.

It is crystal clear like the broad day light that in the past nine years, the invading Americans and their coalition allies shed the blood of more than 100,000 innocent Afghans; put thousands of them behind the bar, and committed desecration of the holy Quran on this sacred land and soiled mosques with the blood of worshippers. They did other abhorrent acts which their devilish desires and whims stirred them to do. But still this arrogant and only super power of the world has never been able to have a hundred percent control over any district or area of Afghanistan or that the residents of a given area support the Americans or the Kabul stooge Administration all in a body. The practical proof of this is the recent parliamentary elections which were limited only to a few cities. Less than 10% voters showed up at the polling stations all over the country. Even that 10% turn-out was the result of extensive bribery and paying-offs on the part of the invaders, trying to show that the fake process was going with flying colors.

We ask Obama, his strategist and executors of the failed strategies that even two million out of the thirty million Afghans all over the country were not willing to show up on the polling day despite the passage of nine years of the occupation; presence of 300,000 foreign and local forces and outlay of $200 million, then how can it be possible that the Americans will achieve their objectives in Afghanistan or in the word of Obama, reach a rationale victory.

Obama and his team should understand that the victory is the fate of the Afghans. Your war machine and sophisticated technology has failed in the face of the strong determination of the Afghans. The deserts, mountains, rocks and plants of Afghanistan are ringing with the voice of onslaught to strike. Now it is up to you to see whether you have the capacity to confront the country-wide upheaval of the Afghans or attempt to secure your future destiny from crumbling.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on September 29, 2010, 01:06:29 pm
Afghan resistance statement

Reaction of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to the Remarks of General Petraeus

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

September 29, 2010

The Commander-in-chief of the foreign invading forces in Afghanistan , General Petraeus, has claimed that some high-ranking officials of Taliban (Islamic Emirate) have contacted the Karzai Administration. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, while rejecting the claim of General Petraeus, believes, that such baseless claims by the enemy portray their jittery and fiasco in face of the Mujahideen.

How can it be possible for the officials of the Islamic Emirate to initiate clandestine contacts with the powerless and stooge government while they have already turned down the misleading demands and proposals of the weak Kabul Administration for commencement of negotiation? In fact, the Americans and their coalition have no gains versus the Mujahideen and have nothing on hand to show to the public of the world. They implemented all conspiracies which they had conceived to weaken Mujahideen or eliminate them but they all went awry. Similarly, the enemy resorted to convening the so-called national consultative Jirga; the holding of the Kabul conference which was aimed at handing over responsibility to the weak Kabul Administration; instituted the peace high council and launched the recent process of parliamentary election for the purpose of attaining the said goals. However, all these endeavors faced debacle thanks to the initiatives of Mujahideen and the help of the Almighty Allah. Thus gained nothing from their attempts. The public of the world are witness to the fact that the current year was the most fatal for the enemy according to their own admission and acknowledgement despite the conspiracies which they frequently hatched and the efforts which they got under way.

These gains of the Mujahideen have had negative impacts on the morale of the invading enemy. Their forces suffer from fear and jittery as a result. Some allies of America have withdrawn their forces from Afghanistan and some are seeking means and ways to leave the country. So in this critical situation, contrary to the claims by the morale-sagging General Petraeus, Mujahideen want to further organize and speed up their programs rather than kicking off contacts with the crumbling Kabul Administration.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan believes that the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is the main cause of the current tragedy and it has been struggling to force the invaders to pull out of the country. The Islamic Emirate reaffirms once again that the solution of the Afghan issue lies in the withdrawal of foreign invaders from Afghanistan , not in initiating secret contacts with the powerless stooges of the invaders. The unfounded propaganda launched by General Petraeus or any other circle about existence of secret contacts is, in fact, a part of the defeated enemy's war of words. It is not the demand and decision of the leadership of the triumphing Mujahideen.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 06, 2010, 05:43:28 am
Published on Tuesday, October 5, 2010 by Agence France-Presse

Amid Soaring Deaths, Obama Affirms Afghan Strategy

by Agence France-Presse

No 'Adjustments' Needed on War Fronts: Obama

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama has told lawmakers that no current changes are needed to his Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy, as US forces escalate operations against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.


This year's foreign troop death toll is the highest on record since the war began in late 2001. (AFP)

Obama delivered the verdict, which had previously been voiced by senior members of his national security staff, as he handed over his administration's latest classified report on the conduct of the war mandated by Congress.

"We are continuing to implement the policy as described in December and do not believe further adjustments are required at this time," Obama wrote in the assessment, delivered Monday.

"As the Congress continues its deliberations on the way ahead in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I want to continue to underscore our nation's interests in the successful implementation of this policy."

At the end of an exhaustive policy review in December, Obama announced plans to surge 30,000 troops into Afghanistan to seize the momentum in the long-running war but warned some soldiers would begin to withdraw by July 2011.

The president is expected to mount a fresh review of strategy on Afghanistan by the end of the year, but again, no major adjustments are expected.

The NATO-led strategy is designed to push Taliban insurgents out of major towns in the south and east while building up Afghan government security forces so that American troops can start withdrawing by July 2011.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and top commanders say there are tentative signs of progress in Afghanistan, where nearly 150,000 US and allied troops are trying to turn the tide against a resilient Islamist insurgency.

The White House said late Monday that Obama held a 30-minute videoconference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, discussing "a number of topics, including the strategic vision for long term U.S.-Afghan relations, the recent Afghan parliamentary elections, and regional relations."

"The two leaders agreed that they should continue routine engagements to refine a common vision and to align our efforts to support President Karzai's goal of completing transition to Afghan lead security responsibility by 2014," the White House said.

Obama released his report Monday amid fresh evidence of an escalation of US activity in the lawless region between Pakistan and Afghanistan

A US drone strike on Monday killed eight militants, including German nationals in Pakistan near the Afghan border, local security officials said.

The attack came hours after Japan and Sweden joined Washington and London in issuing an alert warning of a "possible terrorist attack" by Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups against their citizens travelling in Europe.

Fresh bombings, shootings and violence meanwhile underscored the heavy toll on US and allied forces, as five NATO soldiers died Monday.

The new deaths took to 561 the number of foreign troops killed in the Afghan war so far in 2010, according to a tally by independent website [1], as the toll from the nine-year Taliban-led insurgency worsens.

This year's toll is the highest on record since the war began in late 2001 with a US-led invasion toppling the Taliban regime after it refused to hand over Al-Qaeda leaders following the September 11 attacks.

© 2010 Agence France-Presse

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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 06, 2010, 06:57:06 am
Killing Each Taliban Soldier Costs $50 Million

Killing 20 Taliban costs $1 Billion / Killing all the Taliban would cost $1.7 Trillion

By Matthew Nasuti

October 05, 2010 "Kabul Press" - --  The Pentagon will not tell the public what it costs to locate, target and kill a single Taliban soldier because the price-tag is so scandalously high that it makes the Taliban appear to be Super-Soldiers. As set out in this article, the estimated cost to kill each Taliban is as high as $100 million, with a conservative estimate being $50 million. A public discussion should be taking place in the United States regarding whether the Taliban have become too expensive an enemy to defeat.
Each month the Pentagon generates a ream of dubious statistics designed to create the illusion of progress in Afghanistan. In response this author decided to compile his own statistics. As the goal of any war is to kill the enemy, the idea was to calculate what it actually costs to kill just one of the enemy. The obstacles encountered in generating such a statistic are formidable. The problem is that the Pentagon continues to illegally classify all negative war news and embarrassing information. Regardless, some information has been collected from independent sources. Here is what we know in summary and round numbers:

1. Taliban Field Strength: 35,000 troops

2. Taliban Killed Per Year by Coalition forces: 2,000 (best available information)

3. Pentagon Direct Costs for Afghan War for 2010: $100 billion

4. Pentagon Indirect Costs for Afghan War for 2010: $100 billion

Using the fact that 2,000 Taliban are being killed each year and that the Pentagon spends $200 billion per year on the war in Afghanistan, one simply has to divide one number into the other. That calculation reveals that $100 million is being spent to kill each Taliban soldier. In order to be conservative, the author decided to double the number of Taliban being killed each year by U.S. and NATO forces (although the likelihood of such being true is unlikely). This reduces the cost to kill each Taliban to $50 million, which is the title of this article. The final number is outrageously high regardless of how one calculates it.

To put this information another way, using the conservative estimate of $50 million to kill each Taliban:

It costs the American taxpayers $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban

As the U.S. military estimates there to be 35,000 hard-core Taliban and assuming that no reinforcements and replacements will arrive from Pakistan and Iran:

Just killing the existing Taliban would cost $1.75 Trillion

The reason for these exorbitant costs is that United States has the world’s most mechanized, computerized, weaponized and synchronized military, not to mention the most pampered (at least at Forward Operating Bases). An estimated 150,000 civilian contractors support, protect, feed and cater to the American personnel in Afghanistan, which is an astonishing number. The Americans enjoy such perks and distinctions in part because no other country is willing to pay (waste) so much money on their military.

The ponderous American war machine is a logistics nightmare and a maintenance train wreck. It is also part-myth. This author served at a senior level within the U.S. Air Force. Air Force “smart” bombs are no way near as consistently accurate as the Pentagon boasts; Army mortars remain inaccurate; even standard American field rifles are frequently outmatched by Taliban weapons, which have a longer range. The American public would pale if it actually learned the full story about the poor quality of the weapons and equipment that are being purchased with its tax dollars. The Taliban’s best ally within the United States may be the Pentagon, whose contempt for fiscal responsibility and accountability may force a premature U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan as the Americans cannot continue to fund these Pentagon excesses.

If President Obama refuses to drastically reform the Pentagon’s inefficient way of making war, he may conclude that the Taliban is simply too expensive an enemy to fight. He would then have little choice but to abandon the Afghan people to the Taliban’s “Super-Soldiers.” That would be an intolerable disgrace.

The problem is not simply within the Pentagon.
The hapless U.S. State Department is equally to blame. It:

1. Continues to sit on the sidelines of this war;

2. Refused for nine years to deploy an adequate number of civilian experts;

3. Continues to hire abusive and disreputable security contractors;

4. Failed to fight for the needs of Afghan civilians; and

5. Has made little effort to win their hearts and minds.

A crucial statistic that demonstrates this is to compare military and security expenditures by the United States in Afghanistan with expenditures for civilian aid, such as reconstruction. That statistic is as follows:

Money spent on Military/Security: $365 billion Money spent on Afghan civilians: $8.5 billion

This latter number spells out “FAILURE.” U.S. diplomats and USAID officials have failed to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans and as a result they have accomplished the impossible. Their lack of resolve and interest has made an increasing number of disillusioned Afghans view Taliban rule as potentially an improvement.

Appendix (Supporting Information)
Taliban Field Strength:

The figure of 35,000 is based on an interview given by General Stanley McChrystal earlier this year.

Taliban Soldiers Killed:

The Pentagon refuses to disclose the total number of Taliban killed each month in Afghanistan by coalition forces, special operations personnel and the CIA. One reason became obvious during Operation Moshtarak in Marjah earlier this year. The Pentagon and NATO refused to specify the actual number of Taliban casualties in Marjah because the number was embarrassing low. American, NATO and Afghan forces reportedly suffered more casualties (killed and wounded) than they inflicted on the Taliban, making Marjah a military defeat for the West (if casualties determine victory or defeat).

To fill the gap created by Pentagon silence on this issue, media groups have published their own Taliban casualty count based on official and press reports. That count is inflated as the U.S. military labels everyone it kills a “Taliban militant,” even if they are criminals, drug traders, war lords or civilians defending their homes. As a result of the Pentagon’s lack of credibility on this issue, this author assumes that only 50% of those labeled as Taliban actually are.

The Associated Press has reported that 3,800 militants were killed in 2008, and 4,500 in 2009. Pro-NATO blogs, such as the web site “Terrorist Death Watch,” have calculated that 3,667 terrorists have been killed in Afghanistan since January 1, 2006, (about 700 per year). The author assumes that an average of 2,000 hard-core Taliban are killed each year

U.S. Military Costs:

Total military expenditures in Afghanistan are not clear as the Pentagon does not release all of its direct and indirect cost for the war. While most direct costs are known, billions of dollars in CIA and special operations costs are improperly classified and remain hidden. In addition, the indirect costs for the war (i.e., military regular pay, equipment depreciation, wear & tear, long term health costs, Pentagon support costs within the U.S., USTRANSCOM transportation costs, transport hub costs such as Manas air base, costs for borrowing funds etc.) are not precisely known. Independent studies conducted of the Iraq war are available and they calculate that the indirect costs equal or exceed the direct costs.

What we know about Pentagon direct costs is as follows:
- From 2001, to April 2009, the Pentagon directly spent $171.7 billion in Afghanistan.
 From May 2009, to the present, the Pentagon directly spent an additional $166.3 billion. This is an incredible increase over the past 17 months.

Monthly expenditures have also seen a staggering increase.
 October 2009, the Pentagon was directly spending $3.6 billion a month.
 February 2010, the Pentagon was directly spending $6.7 billion a month.
 October 2010, with the addition of 35,000 more combat and support troops into Afghanistan, the number must be close to $8 billion a month.

Some estimates place direct Pentagon Afghan war costs for all of 2010, at $105 billion.
U.S. State Department Costs:

Officially the State Department and USAID have expended about $35 billion in Afghanistan since 2001. According to most audits, about 75% or $27.5 billion has been spent on training, housing and equipping the Afghan security services, and road construction with the balance ($8.5 billion) being spent on civilian projects. Much of this $8.5 billion has been wasted on dilapidated schools and minor “trophy” projects in Kabul.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 08, 2010, 06:01:45 am
Afghan resistance statement on the Ninth Anniversary of American Invasion of Afghanistan

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Statement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan on the Ninth Anniversary of American Invasion of Afghanistan

Shawwal 27, 1431 A.H, Thursday, October 7, 2010

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Nine years ago, the brutal Americans attacked Afghanistan in contradiction of all human and moral norms, under the leadership of the most disgustful president G. W. Bush in the name of furthering the Crusade. At the outset, no one believed that the Afghans, who had already passed through hardships because of long wars, would ever be able to confront the attack launched by the most arrogant and highly-trained forces of the 21st century.

Based on these predictions, former US Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield, who was wallowing in his wishful delusions due to his arrogance, announced the end of the American military operations after six months of the invasion, thinking that the Afghans’ capability to face the invaders have come to and end.

But today, 9 years after that announcement, the strongholds of Jihad and resistance against the invading Americans and their allies are as strong as ever. Every day, tens of foreign invaders lose their lives. Throughout the past nine years, neither they have been able to implement their empty slogans nor could they stop the Jihadic activities of the Muslim Afghans. During that period, the invading Americans spent hundreds of billions of dollars in order to continue this illegitimate war; lost thousands of soldiers, with tens of thousands of them being injured, and faced heavy losses in terms of military hardware, but now after all that, they have only reached the conclusion to admit to the American public and to the public of the world that the current year 2010 was the most fatal year for the foreign forces. Nothing new they offered.

The invading Americans and their coalition allies have put to use all their military and economic capability to maintain their brutal occupation over Afghanistan and bring it to a successful end. Even they implemented different strategies; appointed the most sophisticated and veteran generals and launched various conspiracies with the help of their surrogates to stymie the popular resistance but, all that notwithstanding, we can make a cursory comparison regarding the achievements of both sides of the wars on this occasion of the ninth anniversary of the Americans invasion of Afghanistan as under:

1. All American rulers including Obama are disappointed of the results of the war in Afghanistan.

2. Internal differences have arisen among the rulers of the White House regarding the poor results of the failed Afghanistan war.

3. A number of coalition countries have pulled out of the military mission in Afghanistan because of the prolongation of the failed nine-year long war and the emergence of the atmosphere of lack of confidence.

4. All Americans and NATO military strategies have failed in face of the resistance of the Mujahideen.

Last but not least, the American arrogance and reputation plummeted at world level in view of the fact that the highly-trained American and NATO forces failed to wipe out the resistance of the empty-handed Afghan Mujahideen. Similarly, the American economy faced unprecedented melt-down.

Now the Achievement of the Mujahideen:

1. Mujahideen have control over 75% of land in Afghanistan according to the admission made by the Americans.

2. Mujahideen are able to target all American military bases, ranging from the gates of the presidential place to the Bagram military Base, to Kandahar and Nangarhar airports etc.

3. The public of the world, particularly the people of Afghanistan, have enhanced their support to the current Islamic resistance against the invaders.

4. Mujahideen now control all high ways of the country.

5. Mujahideen have obtained (new) military experiences and capability in killing and wiping out the American invaders.

On the basis of the above comparative statement, now every one can predict the Americans and their allies chance of success in Afghanistan. Only the confused rulers of the White House, due to their arrogance and stubbornness, are bent on continuing the occupation of Afghanistan and adding to the sufferings of the miserable Afghans.

Considering defense of the territorial integrity of the Islamic country and Jihad against the invading Americans as an Islamic obligation, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan advises the confused American rulers: come to yourselves and have mercy on your people by immediately pulling out of Afghanistan. The Mujahid Afghans consider every sacrifice including martyrdom at the strongholds of Jihad and defense as a pride, even now after nine years of continuous Jihad and resistance. However, the American people will not have the patience to see corpses of their dead soldiers who have lost their lives for the protection of the personal interests of the American capitalists.

"Those who have done wrong, will soon know how ( bad) come-back they will have (at the doomsday)" Al-Quran.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 08, 2010, 06:21:25 am
Published on Thursday, October 7, 2010 by

The Long War: Year Ten

Lost in the Desert with the GPS on the Fritz

by Andrew J. Bacevich

In January 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s charge to a newly-appointed commanding general was simplicity itself: “give us victories.”  President Barack Obama’s tacit charge to his generals amounts to this: give us conditions permitting a dignified withdrawal.  A pithy quote in Bob Woodward’s new book captures the essence of an emerging Obama Doctrine: “hand it off and get out.”

Getting into a war is generally a piece of cake.  Getting out tends to be another matter altogether -- especially when the commander-in-chief and his commanders in the field disagree on the advisability of doing so.

Happy Anniversary, America.  Nine years ago today -- on October 7, 2001 -- a series of U.S. air strikes against targets across Afghanistan launched the opening campaign of what has since become the nation’s longest war.  Three thousand two hundred and eighty five days later the fight to determine Afghanistan’s future continues.  At least in part, “Operation Enduring Freedom” has lived up to its name:  it has certainly proven to be enduring.

As the conflict formerly known as the Global War on Terror enters its tenth year, Americans are entitled to pose this question: When, where, and how will the war end?  Bluntly, are we almost there yet?

Of course, with the passage of time, where “there” is has become increasingly difficult to discern.  Baghdad turned out not to be Berlin and Kandahar is surely not Tokyo.  Don’t look for CNN to be televising a surrender ceremony anytime soon.

This much we know: an enterprise that began in Afghanistan but soon after focused on Iraq has now shifted back -- again -- to Afghanistan.  Whether the swings of this pendulum signify progress toward some final objective is anyone’s guess.

To measure progress during wartime, Americans once employed pins and maps.  Plotting the conflict triggered by 9/11 will no doubt improve your knowledge of world geography, but it won’t tell you anything about where this war is headed.

Where, then, have nine years of fighting left us?  Chastened, but not necessarily enlightened.

 [1]Just over a decade ago, the now-forgotten Kosovo campaign seemingly offered a template for a new American way of war.  It was a decision gained without suffering a single American fatality.  Kosovo turned out, however, to be a one-off event.  No doubt the United States military was then (and remains today) unbeatable in traditional terms.  Yet, after 9/11, Washington committed that military to an endeavor that it manifestly cannot win.

Rather than probing the implications of this fact -- relying on the force of arms to eliminate terrorism is a fool’s errand -- two administrations have doggedly prolonged the war even as they quietly ratcheted down expectations of what it might accomplish.

In officially ending the U.S. combat role in Iraq earlier this year -- a happy day if there ever was one -- President Obama refrained from proclaiming “mission accomplished.”  As well he might: as U.S. troops depart Iraq, insurgents remain active and in the field.  Instead of declaring victory, the president simply urged Americans to turn the page.  With remarkable alacrity, most of us seem to have complied.

Perhaps more surprisingly, today’s military leaders have themselves abandoned the notion that winning battles wins wars, once the very foundation of their profession.  Warriors of an earlier day insisted: “There is no substitute for victory.”  Warriors in the Age of David Petraeus embrace an altogether different motto: “There is no military solution.”

Here is Brigadier General H. R. McMaster, one of the Army’s rising stars, summarizing the latest in advanced military thinking:  “Simply fighting and winning a series of interconnected battles in a well developed campaign does not automatically deliver the achievement of war aims.”  Winning as such is out.  Persevering is in. 

So an officer corps once intent above all on avoiding protracted wars now specializes in quagmires.  Campaigns don’t really end.  At best, they peter out.

Formerly trained to kill people and break things, American soldiers now attend to winning hearts and minds, while moonlighting in assassination.  The politically correct term for this is "counterinsurgency."

Now, assigning combat soldiers the task of nation-building in, say, Mesopotamia is akin to hiring a crew of lumberjacks to build a house in suburbia.  What astonishes is not that the result falls short of perfection, but that any part of the job gets done at all.

Yet by simultaneously adopting the practice of “targeted killing,” the home builders do double-duty as home wreckers.  For American assassins, the weapon of choice is not the sniper rifle or the shiv, but missile-carrying pilotless aircraft controlled from bases in Nevada and elsewhere thousands of miles from the battlefield -- the ultimate expression of an American desire to wage war without getting our hands dirty.   

In practice, however, killing the guilty from afar not infrequently entails killing innocents as well.  So actions undertaken to deplete the ranks of jihadists as far afield as Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia unwittingly ensure the recruitment of replacements, guaranteeing a never-ending supply of hardened hearts to soften.

No wonder the campaigns launched since 9/11 drag on and on.  General Petraeus himself has spelled out the implications: “This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives.”  Obama may want to “get out.”  His generals are inclined to stay the course.

Taking longer to achieve less than we initially intended is also costing far more than anyone ever imagined.  Back in 2003, White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey suggested that invading Iraq might run up a tab of as much as $200 billion -- a seemingly astronomical sum.  Although Lindsey soon found himself out of a job as a result, he turned out to be a piker.  The bill for our post-9/11 wars already exceeds a trillion dollars, all of it piled atop our mushrooming national debt.  Helped in no small measure by Obama's war policies, the meter is still running.

So are we almost there yet?  Not even.  The truth is we’re lost in the desert, careening down an unmarked road, odometer busted, GPS on the fritz, and fuel gauge hovering just above E.  Washington can only hope that the American people, napping in the backseat, won’t notice.

Copyright 2010 Andrew J. Bacevich
Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University.  His bestselling new book is Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War [1].  To catch Bacevich discussing how the U.S. military became specialists in quagmires in a Timothy MacBain TomCast audio interview click here [2] or, to download it to your iPod, here [3].


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 13, 2010, 12:10:29 pm
In Afghanistan, the Handwriting Is on the Wall

by John Prados
Senior Fellow, National Security Archive
Posted: October 11, 2010 07:05 PM

Thank God the Pakistanis have reopened the Khyber Pass to the trucks that carry United States and NATO supplies from Indian Ocean ports to Afghanistan. The Pakistani border closure, which took place in response to an American air strike in the border area that killed a couple of Pakistani soldiers, was lifted after eleven days, following a series of private but official U.S. apologies. For the short term, General David Petraeus gets his supply flow restored. But this incident was no momentary inconvenience. Rather, it is an ominous warning: evidence, if any were needed, of the very thin base of support among the nations vital to sustain the American effort in Afghanistan. When the true volatility of this situation is revealed, the U.S. and NATO war effort will be plunged into a crisis of unprecedented proportion.

The difficulties of war -- any war -- in Afghanistan are immutable and rooted in physical reality. These problems dogged Soviet armies in the 20th Century and British ones in the 19th. They are more deeply embedded in the fabric of the situation than the headaches of Afghan politics, the divergent goals of the Karzai government, rampant corruption, military ineffectiveness, Taliban determination, or the features of a harsh land. Intractable as those things may be, and any one of them could lead to stalemate or defeat in the Afghan war, geography is an equal or larger problem because it limits every facet of American and allied activity -- not only the geography of Afghanistan, but the simple fact that the country has no access to the sea. Afghans live in a landlocked nation nestled in the remote fastness of South Asia.

Every bullet, every artillery shell, all the combat vehicles and helicopters, every MRE, must be brought into the country. The combat zone is not merely thousands of miles away from the United States, it can be accessed only by crossing other countries: Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, or Tajikistan. (China also shares a short length of border with Afghanistan but there are no transportation routes there, and Iran, hostile to the U.S., can be excluded.) More to the point, there are but a few road entries into Afghanistan. Similarly, the number of airports in the country that can handle large, long-haul transport aircraft can be counted on the fingers of one hand -- and those too are accessed only by flying over other nations' airspace.

At the other end of the equation, modern armies and sophisticated equipment consume huge quantities of everything from peanut butter to electric batteries. All that body armor and those computer consoles, not to mention shells and rockets, adds up to great weight and volume. Many posts can be reached only by helicopter. Aviation fuel is at a premium, gasoline an equally daunting necessity -- not just for vehicles but for the electric generators that power American bases. Requirements in fact rule out certain kinds of equipment -- few Abrams tanks are in the theater, for example -- vehicles that measure gas consumption in gallons per mile. Concerned about the price of gas for your car? It costs $400 to put one gallon of gas on the ground in certain places in Afghanistan. In 2009, according to Pentagon estimates, allied forces were consuming over half a million gallons of gasoline per day, a figure that nearly doubled before the new "surge" troops began reaching the country. During the Vietnam war the Pentagon calculated that every soldier in-country represented $7,000 in the war budget. For Afghanistan that figure is $1,000,000.

For years, American logistics experts have been wrestling with this conundrum. They have developed a northern route that accounts for slightly less than a third of deliveries to Afghanistan. There are road connections from Turkmenistan, road and rail through Uzbekistan, and air links that depend on Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Of course, goods have to reach the front line countries before they can be transshipped. Those nations have their own economies and needs -- restricting spare capacity -- and the inadequacy of the links into Afghanistan poses another constraint. For example, the sole rail line into the combat zone tops out at 4,000 tons per month of capacity, less than 5 percent of the U.S./NATO requirements before they began to increase in early 2009. At that time, approximately 16,000 tons per month were being delivered by air. Contracts have been let for new rail tracks and more airbases in Afghanistan but the earliest these can be finished is late in 2011. The Pakistani road network accounts for half of logistics throughput. Capacity there cannot be much expanded because the roads enter Afghanistan through difficult mountain passes. Given physical upper limits on transport, tonnage requirements constrain the size of any force that can be sustained in Afghanistan. The troop surge will nearly double NATO tonnage requirements. Thus its net effect will be to put GIs in Afghanistan at the very edge of a red zone of supply failure.

Diplomats naturally had to negotiate deals with the front line countries to permit transit of supplies. Most of those averaged a year in preparation. The arrangements with the "stans" largely restrict transit to non-lethal items. That is also true for air overflight rights, and transport of U.S. supplies across intervening nations like Russia, Georgia, Kazakstan, and Azerbaijan. Pakistan then assumes even greater importance because it has countenanced all manner of deliveries. But the truth is that the United States and its allies are at the mercy of a host of uninvolved nations with their own interests--and a major involved one (Pakistan) that has certain purposes which conflict with the American. Already Kyrgyzstan has terminated an American contract for a key airbase on the supply line, relenting only at the price of new aid offers. Others can play at that game too. And the Pakistani road closure demonstrates just how fragile is this support network.

And then there is the opposition. The Taliban have taken to raising a portion of their war budget by charging "safe passage" fees to the truckers who carry American loads through Pakistan. Or the truckers can hire warlord armies--"private contractors"--(some of whom are Taliban or fellow travelers) to guard their convoys. No pay, no play. Taliban attacks regularly destroy a portion of the trucks on the routes north from Karachi. In a major strike on the logistics net, at the end of 2009 the Taliban wrecked 160 of these trucks--only a few more than were destroyed during the period of road closure just ended. The scope for corruption is virtually unlimited, but imagine the ignominy of the United States paying the Taliban to secure the delivery of supplies, money that fuels the fight against GIs who use those supplies to attack the Taliban.

Decades ago, during the transition to John F. Kennedy's presidency, the United States stood at the brink of military intervention in Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia. Outgoing President Dwight D. Eisenhower took Kennedy aside and told him quite directly that Laos was the biggest conflict on his plate. President Kennedy, who could not see any way to conduct war in Laos, instead encouraged negotiations and became a proponent of agreements reached at Geneva in 1962 that neutralized Laos.

An even more disturbing parallel is that of the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842), which bears many similarities to present circumstances. A British army entered Afghanistan from India and installed a friendly ruler in Kabul, only to be sucked into the political and security commitments required to prop up their puppet. When Afghans rose up against the imposed ruler, the British decided to withdraw from the country. At that point, the inability to supply their forces and the harsh land worked against the British-Indian army, which was almost entirely massacred before they could escape.

In the American military, the saw is that captains and majors study tactics, colonels do strategy, and generals plan logistics. But in Afghanistan, American generals have created a logistics nightmare incapable of solution, and then compounded the dilemma by demanding a surge that pushes the deployed force to the very edge of the abyss. Every indication is that the generals are already laying the groundwork to demand that deteriorating security necessitates that the Afghan withdrawal set for 2011 be cancelled or postponed. The Bush administration was happy to start the Afghan war, then sat complacently as the commitment soured. President Obama trapped himself on this dangerous path. To the recklessness of starting the Afghan war, we are in danger of adding the stupidity of not ending it. This conflict has reached the point where the failure modes are many and obvious, and the path to success obscure, under conditions where Americans are at risk. The handwriting is on the wall. To proceed further under these circumstances is to march into folly.

John Prados is a senior fellow of the National Security Archive in Washington, DC, who assists on its Afghanistan Documentation Project. His current book is Vietnam: The History of an Unwinnable War, 1945-1975 (University Press of Kansas).

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 14, 2010, 07:17:50 am
Afghan resistance statement Regarding the Baseless claims and futile Propaganda

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Statement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Regarding the Baseless claims and futile Propaganda

Zul Qadah 04, 1431 A.H, Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

A few days ago, Washington Post made a claim on the basis of unauthenticated and unfounded report that some high-ranking officials of the Islamic Emirate, consisting of 15 persons, held secret talks with the Kabul regime on the instruction of the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Following that, some Afghan and world media outlets reported that talks between the delegation of the Islamic Emirate and the officials of the Kabul regime were in progress in Serena Hotel in the capital Kabul.

Last Monday, the Head of the Kabul puppet regime, Hamid Karzai, in an interview with the American TV network, CNN, repeated the said futile rumors, saying he had held talks with the delegations of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan for the past few months and that the process was still continuing.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as in the past, refutes these futile claims and baseless propaganda and believes that it is a part and parcel of a regular psychological warfare of the enemy. The Islamic Emirate wants to make it clear once again that such propaganda is usually projected and circulated by media outlets. Practically, the enemy has never contacted the leaders of the Islamic Emirate, let a lone holding any kind of talks with them. Nor any effort has been made by the enemy directly or indirectly to initiate contacts with the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan assures the Muslim and Mujahid people of Afghanistan and all the Ummah that the Islamic Emirate will not accept any kind of negotiation or ceasefire with the invading enemy until and unless the invaders have not pulled out of Afghanistan. The Islamic Emirate has always explained its unwavering stance regarding the negotiation and versus the futile and hackneyed propaganda of the Americans and their surrogates.

If the talks have really taken place, then you should produce evidence to prove the participation of the delegates of the Islamic Emirate in the negotiation. But if you think that a minuscule numbers of former officials of the Islamic Emirate who have already surrendered to you, are the representatives of the Islamic Emirate or those who were at first detained by you and now are living in Kabul under surveillance are representatives of the Islamic Emirate and you usually present them for such purpose in public gatherings, then you should know that they are not the representatives of the Islamic Emirate nor the Islamic Emirate has given them permission to participate in these meetings or are authorized to represent the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

We urge the Mujahid people of Afghanistan and the Mujahideen, the vanguards of the strongholds of Truth, that you should have trust in your leadership and assure you that your leadership will not allow any one to trade on your blood and sacrifices by reaching any clandestine deal (with the enemy).

Similarly, the Islamic Emirate once again announces its posturing regarding the peace council constituted by the enemy. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan believes it is a contemplated endeavor by the enemy to distract attentions from the Afghan issue and mislead the opinions of the public because the Afghans and the public of the world have already shown their negative reactions and mistrust against the said maneuvering of the enemy.

We would like to make it clear that the stance of the Islamic Emirate is unequivocal and final regarding the negotiation—that is, holding negotiation with the enemy in conditions of their military presence in Afghanistan, is a waste of time. It is not only harmful for achievement of the goal of independence of Afghanistan and establishment of a true Islamic government but gives legitimacy to the current (military) occupation of Afghanistan, thus it is a historical disloyalty with the Mujahid people of Afghanistan and the beloved country.

If the foreign invaders and their local surrogates really want to come out of this losing war; if they want to save their reputation and sleigh off the heavy economic burden from their shoulder, to put an end to the sufferings of the Afghans and end the war, then they should consider withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan. If the enemy, on the one hand, practically insists on continuation of the war in the battle fields but, on the other hand, merely disseminates propaganda and contradictory claims, about high level talks, then it will only contribute first and foremost to the enemy’s already losing credibility and authenticity in the eyes of the Afghans and the people of the world. Nothing more than this, they will achieve.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 16, 2010, 09:38:34 am
Afghan resistance statement

Reaction of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Regarding the
Security Council’s Decision to Extend the foreign invasion

Zul Qadah 05, 1431 A.H, Thursday, October 14, 2010

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

The UN Security Council has once again issued a resolution, extending the unjustified foreign invasion in the country for one more year as it allowed aggression against the miserable Afghanistan nine years ago, by interpreting and explaining anew, article 7 of the Charter of the United Nations.

Similarly, the UNSC has raised the issue of civilian casualties in Afghanistan in its recent statements and has put the blame on the Mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate in an effort to please Washington. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan believes, the resolutions and decisions of the Security Council are the main cause behind the current nine-years long tragedy and the flames of war in Afghanistan, therefore, the Islamic Emirate, as usual, condemns the recent decision of the Security Council.

The I.E. is of the opinion that the one-sided stand of UNSC is a great and unforgettable betrayal with the miserable people of Afghanistan. It is pity that the UNSC, as a universal body, adds fuel to the flames of war and gives legitimacy to the extension of the mission while it should have worked for world security and human prosperity.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan believes the UNSC's judgment about civilian casualties in Afghanistan is partial and biased.

The Islamic Emirate on its part and for elucidation of the matter, has called on all human rights organizations and entities to constitute a joint comprehensive team to carry out impartial survey in the whole country and declare the realties but unfortunately, the world’s organizations, particularly, the UNSC, instead of conducting investigation into the matter, passes decision that do not stand on facts. It seems the UNSC wants to distract the attention of the public of the world from the ground realities in Afghanistan by its resorting to blind judgments and accusations.

In our view, the UNSC, on the basis of its principles, should not contribute to the prolongation of war in Afghanistan by passing such decisions but should work for ending the war and occupation in the country by using its caliber. This will restore its lost credibility and meanwhile, save the Afghans from the fire of the unjustified and imposed war.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 18, 2010, 06:56:42 am
Dirty War in Afghanistan

by Douglas Valentine


Parents and villagers with the bodies of eight boys between 12 and 17 years old killed in a night raid on the village of Ghazi Khan by US and Afghan government forces

October 17, 2010

On the morning of Dec. 30, 2009, I listened in disbelief as an NPR "terrorism" expert disingenuously explained how the suicide bombing that killed seven CIA employees in Afghanistan was especially hideous, because the CIA victims were spreading economic development and democracy through a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT).

CIA Director Lou Panetta issued a statement saying, "Those who fell yesterday were far from home and close to the enemy, doing the hard work that must be done to protect our country from terrorism." President Obama likewise glorified the CIA officers, calling them "part of a long line of patriots who have made great sacrifices for their fellow citizens, and for our way of life."

On New Year’s Day, Washington Post staff writers Joby Warrick and Pamela Constable began to fill in some of the blanks that the initial propaganda had ignored. Warrick and Constable reported that the seven CIA officers were "at the heart of a covert program overseeing strikes by the agency's remote-controlled aircraft along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border."

In the past year, those strikes have killed more than 300 people (perhaps as many as 700) who are invariably described by the U.S. news media as suspected insurgents, or militants, or terrorists, or jihadists – or as collateral damage, people killed by accident. There is never any distinction made between Afghan nationalists fighting the U.S. occupation of their country and real terrorists who have inflicted intentional violence against civilians to achieve a political objective (the classic definition of terrorism).

Likewise, the U.S. news media describes the Dec. 30 attack on the CIA officers as "terrorism," although it doesn’t fit the definition since the CIA officers were engaged in military operations and thus represented a legitimate target under the law of war, certainly as much so as Taliban commanders far from the front lines.

One such commander, Jalaluddin Haggani, was said to have ordered the suicide attack from his base in North Waziristan in retaliation for drone strikes on his forces. Haggani, a former CIA ally during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, also has close ties to Pakistani intelligence. Curiously, the bomb used in the suicide attack has been linked to the Pakistani intelligence service. It is unclear, however, if Haggani arranged for the bomb to be delivered to suicide bomber Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, the Jordanian agent whom the CIA summoned in the belief that he had information as to the whereabouts of a top Al Qaeda official.

What is clear is that Al-Balawi sacrificed his life to help to drive Americans from Islamic nations like Afghanistan, where they cause so much death and misery. The mainstream media describes people like Al-Balawi as irrational "jihadists" with no appreciation for the fact that Americans are merely "defending" their "interests" in the region.

In the broadest sense, Al-Balawi’s suicide attack was retaliation for the murder of thousands of innocent Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, including ten civilians in Ghazi Khan Village in Narang district of the eastern Afghan province of Kunar. The ten civilians were executed during a midnight raid on Dec 27 by what NATO called "non-military" (meaning CIA) American commandos.

CIA commandos, often Green Berets and Navy SEALs hired into the CIA’s Special Activities Division, do not wear uniforms in violation of international rules of land warfare. Instead they grow long beards and wear traditional Afghan garb and appear to be civilians. During the post-9/11 "global war on terror," these teams have engaged in widespread kidnappings and executions.

CIA commandos are "America’s Einsatzgruppen", similar to the notorious Nazi death squads that hunted and terrorized partisans in the Russian countryside in World War Two. Other CIA commandos function like the Gestapo, terrorizing the resistance cells in urban areas. In both cases, their mission is to terrorize the civilian population into submission.

CIA Terrorism

NATO spokesmen initially labeled the ten victims in Ghazi Khan as "insurgents" belonging to a "terrorist" cell that manufactured improvised explosive devices used to kill occupation troops and civilians. But later reports from Afghan government investigators and townspeople identified the dead as civilians, including eight students, aged 11 to 17, enrolled in local schools. All but one of the dead came from the same family.

According to a Dec. 31 article published by the Times of London, the CIA death squad flew by helicopter from Kabul, landing about two kilometers from the village. The commandos snuck up to the residence, taking the inhabitants by surprise as they slept. The commandos entered the first room and shot two of their victims – a guest and a student – then entered the second room and handcuffed seven other students, whom they executed in cold blood. When the farmer with whom the students were staying heard the shooting and came outside, the commandos killed him too.

Protests over the killings erupted throughout Kunar Province, where the deaths occurred, as well as in Kabul. Hundreds of protesters demanded that American occupation forces leave the country, and that the murderers be brought to justice.

A NATO spokesman claimed there was "no direct evidence to substantiate" the claims of premeditated murder. And yet, the record of American forces engaging the first degree murder of unarmed people in Afghanistan and Iraq is a long one, with testimony about premeditated executions even emerging in U.S. military disciplinary hearings.

These types of "unilateral" (done without informing any Afghan nationals) CIA "covert actions" are increasing in frequency with Obama’s surge of 30,000 additional U.S. troops into Afghanistan. Of course, this ratcheting up of the cycle of violence will only incite more and more revenge killings. Indeed, the CIA immediately vowed to avenge the murder of its colleagues. Typically, a public statement of revenge such as this is an invocation of the notorious 100-to-one rule employed by the Nazis: anytime the partisans killed a member of the Gestapo or Einsatzgruppen, the Nazis killed 100 innocent civilians as punishment.

In the meantime, the surviving CIA personnel at Forward Operating Base Chapman have barricaded themselves inside their compound and are grilling the Afghan employees who were on duty at the time of the Dec. 30 bomb attack. Afghans who worked with the CIA on the outside are locked out.

Given their elevated status and class prerogatives, CIA officers do not perform menial tasks, and every chauffeur, maid, and vendor will now be seen as a potential "double agent." This apprehension will spread (as the suicide bomber and his masters intended) from the bottom to the top: Afghan officials in the US-backed government knew little about unilateral CIA operations at FOW Chapman to begin with, but now, as mutual mistrust reaches unprecedented levels, they will have less input and the war will enter a bloodier phase reminiscent of the pacification of Iraq.

The Face of Terrorism – Provincial Reconstruction Teams

The events of the past week are instructive in explaining how CIA covert operations are conducted in concert with the U.S. news media.

Few Americans were aware that FOB Chapman was a CIA base camp. The local Afghans, however, were well aware of this fact. They also knew that the CIA used the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) based at Chapman as a means of gathering – from informants, secret agents, and field interrogations – intelligence upon which to coordinate super-sophisticated drone attacks and crude paramilitary operations.

Composed of Afghan and US forces, the PRTs have been a foundation stone of the CIA’s secret government in Afghanistan since they were instituted in 2002 under the imprimatur of Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzadin. As with all the entities the CIA has created in Afghanistan, the PRTs are entirely funded by the CIA, and staffed with collaborators under CIA control.

Naturally, the suicide bombing has cast doubt on the integrity of the intelligence the PRTs produce for the CIA. Agents of the resistance have infiltrated the program and the PRTs are certainly going through an internal review. But they will not be abandoned, and so it is instructive to know how they are organized and how they operate.

The PRTs provide CIA agents – usually Afghans working in the PRTs – with a covert way to recruit and meet sub-agents (informants) in the field. CIA "officers" run "agents" in the field and these Afghan agents in turn run "sub-agents" – people in villages like Ghazi who spy on other people in the villages.

The CIA managers of the PRTs also rely on interpreters, as well as Afghan "counter-parts" in the secret police and military to determine if the intelligence given about "suspects" in a particular village is reliable. This leap of faith carries considerable risk. If a sub-agent in a village or an agent in the PRT is a double, a CIA death squad can easily be misdirected against innocent civilians. Likewise, a drone strike could be directed against an enemy of Jalaluddin Haggani’s within the resistance.

The PRT "counter-terror" mission is to identify members of the resistance. The sub-agent tells the PRT agent where the suspect lives in the village, how many people are in his house, where they sleep, and when they enter and leave the house. He also provides a picture, if possible. Other times a PRT agent will attempt to blackmail the suspect into becoming an informant, if there is reason to believe that is possible.

The PRT also has a "foreign intelligence" mission, which involves collecting intelligence on Taliban leaders and their Al Qaeda contacts in foreign nations, like Pakistan.

Obviously, al Qaeda and the Afghan resistance are aware of the CIA’s activities, and this fact casts suspicion on the CIA’s interpreters and counter-parts in the Afghan police and military. All of this puts increasing pressure on the CIA to separate itself entirely from the untrustworthy, ungrateful Afghans it has come to liberate.

The CIA’s Provincial Reconstruction Teams are at the center of this dilemma. Although it bills the PRTs as a means of spreading economic development and democracy, the CIA is not a social welfare program: its job is gathering intelligence and using it to capture, kill or turn the enemy into agents. The PRTs are a means to achieve these goals – but only as long as the CIA can plausibly deny that it does so. Thus, the two main purposes of PRTs are 1) maintaining the fiction that the US is a force for positive change and 2) providing the CIA with cover for its dirty business.

As the CIA tightens its security measures, and as the Obama administration moves to reactivate some of the most brutal and corrupt warlords who fought the Soviets in the 1980s, the PRTs and their "community defense forces" will become increasingly reliant on criminals and sociopaths – agents who have no compunctions about pursuing unilateral CIA policies and goals that are antithetical to Afghanistan’s national interests. And that spells trouble for the CIA.

The Origins of PRTs in Vietnam

Much of this bloody strategy was tested during the Vietnam War. In the early 1960s in South Vietnam, the CIA’s Covert Action Branch developed the programs that would, in 1965, be grouped within its Revolutionary Development Cadre program. The standard Revolutionary Development Team was composed of North Vietnamese defectors and South Vietnamese collaborators advised by U.S. military and civilian personnel under the management of the CIA.

The original model, known as a Political Action Team, was developed by CIA officer Frank Scotton. The original PAT consisted of 40 men: as Scotton told me, "That's three teams of twelve men each, strictly armed. The control element was four men: a commander and his deputy, a morale officer, and a radioman."

"These are commando teams," Scotton stressed, "displacement teams. The idea was to go into contested areas and spend a few nights. But it was a local responsibility so they had to do it on their own."

"Two functions split out of this," Scotton added. First was pacification. Second was counter-terror. As Scotton noted, "The PRU thing directly evolves from this."

The PRU, for Provincial Reconnaissance Unit, was the name given in 1966 to the CIA’s "counter-terror" teams, which had generated a ton of negative publicity in 1965 when Ohio Sen. Stephen Young charged that they disguised themselves as Vietcong and discredited the Communists by committing atrocities, including murder, **** and mutilation.

Notably, propagandists like Mark Moyar, a professor of national security affairs at the Marine Corps University, advocate for the expansion of PRU-style counter-terror teams in Afghanistan. [See’s "A Bad Vietnam Lesson for Afghanistan."]

Staffing is a crucial element of this "political action" strategy, and to this end Scotton developed a "motivational indoctrination" program, which is certainly used today in some form in Afghanistan and Iraq. Scotton’s motivational indoctrination program was modeled on Communist techniques, and the process began on a confessional basis.

"On the first day," according to Scotton, "everyone would fill out a form and write an essay on why they had joined." The team’s morale officer "would study their answers and explain the next day why they were involved in a special unit. The instructors would lead them to stand up and talk about themselves." The morale officer's job, he said, "was to keep people honest and have them admit mistakes."

Not only did Scotton co-opt Communist motivational techniques, but he also relied on Communist defectors as his cadre. "They could communicate doctrine, and they were people who would shoot," he explained, adding, "It wasn't necessary for everyone in the unit to be ex-Vietminh, just the leadership."

Indeed, the Vietnamese officer in charge of Scotton's PAT program, Major Nguyen Be, had been party secretary for the Ninth Vietcong Battalion before switching sides.

In 1965, Scotton was transferred to another job, and Major Be, with his new CIA advisor, Harry "The Hat" Monk, combined CIA "mobile" Census Grievance cadre, PATs, and Counter-Terror Teams into the standard 59-man Revolutionary Development (RD) team.

Census Grievance Teams were the primary way RD agents contacted sub-agents in the villages – by setting up a portable shack in which civilians could privately complain about the government. The PRTs very likely have this Census Grievance element in their intelligence unit.

Major Be's 59-man Revolutionary Development teams were called Purple People Eaters by American soldiers, in reference to their clothes and terror tactics. To the rural Vietnamese, the RD teams were simply "idiot birds."

In mid-1965 the RD Cadre Program was officially launched and teams were sent across South Vietnam. With standardization and expansion came the need for more advisers, so Thomas Donohue, the CIA officer in charge of Covert Action in South Vietnam, began recruiting military men. Most came from US Special Forces, though the regular army, navy and marines also provide support personnel as "detailees" to the CIA.

"We got to the point," Donohue told me, "where the CIA was running a political program in a sovereign country where they didn't know what the hell we were teaching. But what kind of program could it be that had only one sponsor, the CIA, that says it was doing good? It had to be sinister. Any red-blooded American could understand that. What the hell is the CIA doing running a program on political action?

"So I went out to try to get some cosponsors for the record. They weren't easy to come by. I went to [USIS chief] Barry Zorthian. I said, `Barry, how about giving us someone?' I talked to MACV about getting an officer assigned. I had AID give me a guy."

But all of it, Donohue said, "was window dressing. We [the CIA] had the funds; we had the logistics; we had the transportation."

The same can undoubtedly be said for the PRTs in Afghanistan and Iraq.

PRTs in Iraq

The CIA’s RD Cadre program in Vietnam has been cloned into the Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan and Iraq. The PRT program started in Afghanistan in 2002 and migrated to Iraq in 2004.

PRTs consist of anywhere between 50 and 100 civilian and military specialists. The standard PRT has a military police unit, a psychological operations unit, an explosive ordinance-demining unit, an intelligence team, medics, a force protection unit, and administrative and support personnel.

Like Scotton’s teams in South Vietnam, they conduct terror, political, and psychological operations, under cover of fostering economic development and democracy. Long ago the American people grew weary of the heavily censored but universally bad news they got about Iraq, and are now quiet happy to believe that PRTs have put Iraq back on its feet. Americans are quite happy to forget about the devastation they wrought.

But few Iraqis are fooled by the "war as economic development" shell game, or by the deceitful standards the US government uses to measure the success of its PRT program.

In his correspondence with reporter Dahr Jamail, one Iraqi political analyst from Fallujah (a neighborhood that was destroyed in order to save it) put it succinctly when he said: "In a country that used to feed much of Arab world, starvation is the norm."

According to another of Jamail’s correspondents, Iraqis "are largely mute witnesses. Americans may argue among themselves about just how much "success" or "progress" there really is in post-surge Iraq, but it is almost invariably an argument in which Iraqis are but stick figures – or dead bodies."

In a publication titled "Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience," the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction describes its mission as the largest overseas rebuilding effort in U.S. history.

In some places in Iraq unemployment is at 40–60 percent. Repairing war damage was the policy goal, but little connection was made between how the rebuilding would – or even could – bring about a democratic transition. As in Iraq, the PRTs in Afghanistan are a gimmick to make Americans feel good about the oppressive occupations conducted for their benefit. The supposed successes of the PRTs are cloaked in double-speak and meaningless statistics.

After all, achieving statistical progress is not hard in nations whose infrastructures were destroyed by invasion and occupation, and where entire neighborhoods have been leveled in the name of security. The hard truth is that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq always have been less about combating Islamic "terrorism" and "protecting the homeland" than about projecting the dark side of the American collective psyche.

Protecting the People from the Knowledge of CIA Terrorism

Protecting Americans from any knowledge of the horror their government inflicts, is the job of the mainstream media. Its propagandists will not tell you that the CIA has a policy of targeting civilians for recruitment as agents and informants, or that it intentionally detains, without charge, and interrogates civilians as a means of coercing information from them about the Islamic resistance to American aggression. Civilians are knowingly killed and maimed in drone attacks, as well as raids by CIA commandos, as a means of terrorizing the people from associating in any way with the resistance.

It is the job of mainstream propagandists to disguise this policy and characterize these civilians as either members of the enemy infrastructure, or jihadists, and thus legitimate military targets.

Another thing you will not read about is the accommodation that normally exists between the opposing elites in any war. This accommodation exists in the twilight zone between reality and imagination, in the fog of war. It is why officers are separated from enlisted men in POW camps and given better treatment. It is why officers of opposing armies have more in common with one another than they have with their own enlisted men.

Officers are trained to think of the lower ranks as canon fodder. Officers know when they send a unit up a hill, some men will be killed. That is why they do not fraternize with the lower ranks. This class distinction exists across the world, and is the basis of the accommodation. It is why the Bush family flew the bin Laden family, and other Saudi Royals, out of the United States in the days after 9-11. If anyone was a case officer to the 9-11 bombers, or had knowledge about the bombers or any follow-up plots, it was these "protected" people.

CIA officers too are among the Protected Few. Blessed with false identities and bodyguards, they fly in private planes, live in villas, eat fancy food and enjoy state-of-the-art technology. CIA officers tell army generals what to do. They direct Congressional committees. They assassinate heads of state and innocent children with equal impunity and indifference.

In Afghanistan they manage the drug trade from their hammocks in the shade. They know the Taliban tax the farmers growing the opium, and they know that Karzai’s warlords convert the opium into heroin and fly it to the Russian mob. They are amused by the antics of earnest DEA agents, who, in their patriotic bliss, cannot believe such an accommodation exists.

CIA officers are trained to exist in this moral netherworld, for the simple reason that the CIA in every conflict has a paramount need to keep secure communication channels open to the enemy. The CIA, as part of its mandate, is authorized to negotiate with the enemy, but it can only do so as long as the channel is secure and deniable. The mainstream media makes sure that no proof will ever exist, so the American public can be deceived.

But every once in a while, something disrupts the accommodation. Take Iran Contra, when President Reagan publicly vowed never to negotiate with terrorists, then secretly sent a team of spies to Tehran to sell missiles to the Iranians and use the money to buy guns for the drug dealing Contras.

There are stated and unstated policies, and the CIA exists to pursue the government’s unstated policy. And without an accommodation in Afghanistan, the CIA would not have a secure channel to the resistance to negotiate on simple matters like prisoner exchanges.

The exchange of British journalist Peter Moore for an Iraqi in CIA custody is an example of how the accommodation works in Iraq. Moore was held by a Shia group allegedly allied to Iran, and his freedom depended entirely on the CIA communicating secretly and in good faith with America’s enemies in the Iraq resistance. The details of such prisoner exchanges are never revealed by complicit assets in thee media, but the same channels of communication are used to discuss issues of strategic importance vital to any eventual reconciliation.

The Afghanis want reconciliation. Apart from US policy, Karzai and his clique at every level have filial relations with the resistance. And no matter how powerful the CIA and its doppelgangers in al Qaeda are, they cannot overcome that.

Ed Brady, an Army officer detailed to the CIA in Saigon in 1967 and 1968, explains how the accommodation worked in Vietnam.

While Brady and his Vietnamese counterpart Colonel Tan were lunching at a restaurant in Dalat, Tan pointed at a woman eating noodle soup and drinking Vietnamese coffee at the table next to them. He told Brady that she was the Viet Cong province chief’s wife. Brady, of course, wanted to grab her and use her for bait.

Coolly, Colonel Tan said to him: "You don’t understand. You don’t live the way we live. You don’t have any family here. You’re going to go home when this operation is over. You don’t think like you’re going to live here forever. But I have a home and a family and kids that go to school. I have a wife that has to go to market…. And you want me to go kill his wife? You want me to set a trap for him and kill him when he comes in to see his wife? If we do that, what are they going to do to our wives?"

"The VC didn’t run targeted operations against them either," Brady explains. "There were set rules that you played by. If you went out and conducted a military operation and you chased them down fair and square in the jungle and you had a fight, that was okay. If they ambushed you on the way back from a military operation, that was fair. But to conduct these clandestine police operations and really get at the heart of things, that was kind of immoral to them. That was not cricket. And the Vietnamese were very, very leery of upsetting that."

The CIA relies on such clandestine operations in Afghanistan, but only among working and middle class families, in an effort to rip apart the fabric of Afghan society, until the Afghan people accept American domination, through its ruling class. And that, ultimately, is why CIA officers were targeted. It has played a double game, violating the accommodation on the one hand, and exploiting it on the other.

The CIA is utterly predictable. As programmed, it will go on a killing spree until its vengeance is satisfied. But at the end of the day, the Afghan people will only hate the Americans more. And that spells defeat for the CIA and America.

Douglas Valentine [send him mail] is the author of four previously published books: The Hotel Tacloban (Lawrence Hill, 1984), The Phoenix Program, (William Morrow, 1990), TDY (, 2000), and The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs (Verso, 2004). His latest book is The Strength of the Pack (TrineDay, 2009). For more information about the author and his works, please visit his websites at and


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 18, 2010, 07:04:52 am
The war on Afghanistan: a crime against humanity

Socialist Alliance

October 17, 2010

The following statement was released by the Socialist Alliance on October 8.

* * *

On October 17, 2001, the Liberal/National Coalition government of John Howard deployed Australian troops to Afghanistan, just nine days after the US had begun bombing one of the most poverty-stricken and war-weary nations on Earth.

The then newly-formed Socialist Alliance responded to this attack and its reputed catalyst, the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, by noting the US' hypocrisy and pledging to campaign against then president George W. Bush's "war without end".

"We are ready to play a part in mobilising the broadest possible opposition to any attempt by US policies and their global allies to use the tragedy as a pretext for military aggression", we said.

Since then, the Socialist Alliance has maintained its opposition to Australia's commitment to the US-NATO occupation of Afghanistan. We have continued to seek ways to build community opposition to this war and the Iraq war — an opening that could become greater when federal parliament starts its debate.

This October marks the 10th year since the US and its allies, including Australia, invaded Afghanistan. The bombing of the poorest country in the world by some of the richest is a crime against humanity. The real purpose of this crime is to further US power in the region.

Its initial legal justification has been called into question since the US and Britain’s use of United Nations Article 51 prevents any self-defence that continues after an attack.

Furthermore, the right of self-defence relates to attacks by other nation states, not criminal activity, such as terrorism.

Despite what Western leaders have claimed, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan did not sponsor the 9/11 attacks. The Al-Qaeda leadership was based in Afghanistan, but the terrorists who carried out the attacks (none of whom were Afghan) were residents of Germany and the US.

Recent reports even suggest the Taliban may have tried to warn of the 9/11 attacks and curtail the activities of Al-Qaeda.

Ironically, the US has engaged in state-sponsored terrorism against Afghanistan since the 1970s. Al-Qaeda is a US-created terrorist outfit that went rogue.

Afghanistan has been called "the graveyard of empires". In the past, insurgent groups in Afghanistan have defeated all invaders. The same will happen with the current war — the longest for Australia since Vietnam.

The Taliban is part of the blowback from the Russian war in Afghanistan. Even Hillary Clinton admits it was one of the jihadist groups, which, as ally, was "emboldened, trained and equipped" and not deemed a security risk to the US or its allies.

Taliban expansion will continue, often with complicity of the Afghan people as a result of their increasing disgust with the brutal and corrupt Kabul government, the rising civilian deaths from the US-led forces, particularly though air strikes, and their own dispossession and hopelessness.

Al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan does not pose as great a threat to the Afghan people as does the suffering caused by the occupiers, or the constant bombings by unmanned predator drones launched from bases in the US.

Al Qaeda has greatly reduced its numbers in Afghanistan. In a June interview on US ABC TV, CIA chief Leon Panetta said the number of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan was "at most … 50-100".
Insurgent groups continue to form to fight the occupying armies’ support for the corrupt Hamid Karzai government, lawless warlords and their connection to the venal Pakistani Intelligence Agency. (See the Wikileaks Afghanistan War Diaries for more evidence of this.)

The brave Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan (RAWA) links the current rise in fundamentalism, lawlessness, poverty and **** directly to the occupation.

Besieged by extreme weather, in a country whose infrastructure has been smashed by conflict, many Afghan people have little chance of surviving past the age of 43.

Apologists for Australian troops remaining in Afghanistan claim they are there to "finish the job". This, apparently, means training the Afghan army and police so they can maintain the corrupt and drug-lord linked Karzai government, which was installed undemocratically by the US and allied invaders. This dubious "job" may never be finished.

The Karzai regime is protected by foreign troops and private mercenaries rather than by the ragged Afghan army or police. These forces are either the private warlord militias (in new uniforms) or people looking for some pay to feed their families. Many desert. Others shoot their "mentors".

Rosy views of Australia’s involvement as helping the Afghan people are now being challenged by the September decision to court-martial members of an Australian Special Operations Task Group for the murder of two adults and four children near the village of Sarmorghab in Oruzgan province in 2009.

Labor and the Coalition insist Australia's national security would be at stake if the troops were withdrawn. But Afghanistan has never threatened Australia.

However, protracted Western wars of aggression, occupation and terror against poor Muslim nations like Afghanistan will continue to provoke the level of resentment that can lead to terrorism by groups and individuals in many countries.

These wars are acts of sustained state terror, which are provoking individual acts terror of in response. This is why defence commentators admit the troop surge and endless war of occupation not only helps to destabilise Afghanistan and Pakistan, but are a threat to global security.

Life for Afghan women, whom supporters of the war claim to want to protect, continues to deteriorate in Taliban and non-Taliban areas. Karzai has made it legal for husbands to **** their wives, and recent reports indicate a rising number of attempts at self-immolation.

A September report by the World Health Organisation and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Trends in Maternal Mortality said that after nearly a decade of donor-funded health projects, there has been only a small reduction in maternal and child mortality.

Last year, UNICEF ranked Afghanistan the worst of 202 countries in terms of maternal, infant and child mortality.

We must force the Australian government to withdraw the troops. Sixty-one percent of Australians want them brought home. The views of most Australians should not be ignored for the sake of the US-Australia Alliance.

But Australia should not walk away from this war-ravaged country. The Gillard government must provide funding and aid to the people of Afghanistan (not the corrupt bureaucrats — Afghan or Western). War reparations would allow the Afghan people to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.

Australia must also open its doors to those Afghan refugees who want to come here. This is the least this country can do after having helped create mass dislocation and displacement.

Finally, politicians must stop politically manipulating this ongoing tragedy. The debate — which the ALP has been forced to have — must extend well beyond parliament. It will not be a debate if, as PM Julia Gillard wants, it is framed within a call for "support for the troops".

The purpose of framing the "debate" this way is to use blind and misplaced nationalist sentiment to silence any argument that exposes the Australian and other foreign military intervention in Afghanistan as the criminal and anti-people war that it really is.

It’s time for the silent majority to make their views known, and force an end to this bipartisan madness in which tens of thousands, if not more, have been killed for no good reason.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 28, 2010, 05:55:56 am
Afghan resistance: The untold reality of Kandahar Operation (Part 1)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

October 27, 2010

As all the readers of Alemarah website might know that a major enemy operation is taking place in Kandahar province which has been ongoing since the last one and a half month. Lately the enemy, through its biased media, claims to have ridded the surrounding districts of Mujahideen presence and also claims to have gained substantial ground against Mujahideen in the areas. Alemarah website has recently had the opportunity to interview the district commander of Dand district, Mullah Abdullah Mubarak and ask him questions regarding the untold reality of the situation.


Alemarah: Firstly could you tell us about the ongoing enemy operations in Dand district and why did they come about?

Mullah Abdullah Mubarak: Dand district is located at a very close proximity to Kandahar city and it has a large number of Mujahideen operating inside so the enemy became frightened that it might, just like Dand, lose the entire city to Mujahideen and hence started their preparatory operation firstly in this district in the month of Ramadan. The enemy soldiers entered Mahlajat, Chalghor, Nakhoni, Khanjakak, Zila Khan and Salawat area by helicopters and in huge numbers. Mujahideen, due to a tactical maneuver, did not want to engage them in normal battle but decided to use guerilla warfare in order to cause them maximum damage. We decided to mine all the main roads and when the enemy could not make any inroads, they decided to bulldoze local’s farms and fields so to gain at least some ground but that attempt also proved futile as they suffered massive casualties due to Mujahideen also mining those ways, ambushes and missile attacks. To put it bluntly, a day hasn’t passed so far that at least 4 to 10 blasts do not detonate on their patrols. Due to their immense suffering, the enemy decided to bomb the area randomly using cruise and other missiles from which civilians were killed, their houses and fields wrecked and many were forced to flee the district. After this criminal act, the enemy turned the local’s houses into their military barracks. So far the enemy has abandoned most of those barracks and in the areas which they do exist, they have neither come out nor can they due to heavily mined areas and Mujahideen waiting in ambushes. But even these bases are located in such places that providing of logistics will be a big problem in the future.

Alemarah: It is said that the civilians are the only ones who have been affected by this operation. Could you elaborate on this?

Mullah Abdullah Mubarak: Yes, to sum up the genocidal behavior of the enemy in one sentence, it would be that this kind of crime against civilians has not been done in the entire history. I swear by Allah that so far only 5 of our Mujahideen have been Martyred, 3 have been injured and none have been captured but the prison of Kandahar has been filled by civilians. I would like to summarize the crimes against civilians of Dand by giving a few examples:

1.       When the enemy came to Mahlajat in the morning, the blocked all the main roads and blind folded all those who came their way. Nearly all the locals of Dand have shops in the city where they sell fruits and vegetables so throughout the day the barbarians handcuffed and imprisoned around 300 civilians by the name of Taliban.

2.       A few days earlier, the American invaders besieged Ghra and Mahi Village located in Zila Khan area of Dand district. Most of the people had emigrated from these villages except 97 people which were village elders and children who had come to collect some o their belongings but even those were not spared as they were stripped naked, blind folded and then imprisoned. They were released 12 days after enduring many hardships.

3.       All their new barracks are built inside civilian houses and on their lands. They have bulldozed local’s lands, fields, farms and houses as they try to make inroads against Mujahideen. Some 500 homes and shops have been bulldozed due to this process in Nakhoni area alone. Similar crime has been carried out in Khanjakak, Chalghor and all the other areas. They recently blew up locals raisin houses in Chalghor. Nearly all incidents involve the demolition of homes with the owners belonging inside them.

Alemarah: The enemy says that they have killed and captured many Mujahideen, their leaders and many of their bases have been destroyed. How much of this is true?

Mullah Abdullah Mubarak: The American invaders decided that they would make check posts in very close proximity to the next one by destroying the homes and fields of civilians and that would rid Mujahideen from the area but did not realize that Mujahideen were going to use guerilla tactics. Now the enemy has barracks in various areas but don’t have control 50 meters beyond their posts and thus cannot come out. As for our casualties, only 5 of our Mujahideen have been Martyred and 3 wounded and none of our leaders have been either killed or captured.

Alemarah: How has this operation affected the Mujahideen and what do you say about the claims of Ahmad Wali Karzai that Mujahideen bases have been destroyed throughout Dand and Kandahar?

Mullah Abdullah Mubarak: I don’t know how Ahmad Wali can make such claims when in fact he cannot even peacefully sleep in his own house due to constant Mujahideen attacks on it. If he was really honest in his claims then he should just once, walk freely in Kandahar city let alone Dand and Panjwaee districts. All these claims are false. As for the number of our groups and bases, they have not decreased compared to spring and summer time. Due to the enemy operation we decreased the number of Mujahideen but now that the enemy has become tired and lost morale, those Mujahideen are coming back to carry out operations because their enemy numbers have become vast and much easier to target.

I want to congratulate the Afghan nation in particular for this victory of Mujahideen because we have not suffered any serious damage and the enemy has lost because they cannot sustain this large force for long especially that their newly built bases and barracks are becoming harder and harder to supply with logistics.

(to be continued)


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 29, 2010, 05:16:18 am
South Asia
Oct 30, 2010


Taliban peace talks come to a halt

By Syed Saleem Shahzad

Efforts to begin a process of reconciliation with the Taliban have completely failed as Washington has refused to give any of the guarantees demanded by the Taliban as a prerequisite to sitting at the negotiation table, a Taliban representative has told Asia Times Online.

Should the breakdown prove permanent, the coming year promises to be a very tough one in Afghanistan as well as in Pakistan's tribal areas, home to militants and al-Qaeda.

The recent strategic dialogue between the United States and Pakistan that renewed a US$2 billion five-year security assistance package for the Pakistani army is aimed specifically at effectively fighting against al-Qaeda bases situated in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The al-Qaeda response, Asia Times Online has learned, will be to activate sleeper cells around the world, orchestrated by a fresh team in place in border areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Talks fall flat
The moves towards reconciliation with the Taliban began in late 2008. Saudi Arabia was named in the Western media as the main component of the process; it invited some former Taliban and Hezb-e-Islami Afghanistan members for dinner during the annual hajj (pilgrimage).

This became the first regular process of indirect American and Taliban interaction, with messages conveyed through various third parties. Interestingly, this period saw the beginning of the US's stepped-up drone war against al-Qaeda's sanctuaries in the tribal areas, with almost daily missile strikes, especially in North Waziristan.

By this October, at least two dozen important al-Qaeda members had been killed, as well as a sizeable number of newly recruited and trained European nationals. Regional franchises of al-Qaeda, including the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (Pakistani Taliban), also suffered losses, as did the Uzbek militia.

Extensive spy networks in the tribal areas ensured that the Americans fully understood the dynamics of al-Qaeda and the ground situation in North Waziristan. A case in point is Nasrullah Khan, a former member of the Laskhar-e-Taiba jihadi group who joined forces with Ilyas Kashmiri's al-Qaeda-linked 313 Brigade.

Before the beginning of the Commonwealth Games that ended on October 14 in Delhi, Khan had been selected to head a unit of the brigade to carry out an operation against the Games.

However, on September 20, he and five other men were killed in a drone attack in the town of Mir Ali in North Waziristan. Khan had an extensive network of operatives in India and Indian-administered Kashmir and his death disrupted the ground operations in India to such an extent that no operation could be undertaken.

Similar drone missile attacks in September and October brought al-Qaeda's European operational branches in North Waziristan to a halt.

Even as death was raining from the skies in the tribal areas, the peace process with the Taliban was gathering pace, with fresh overtures in August. For the first time, all parties noted some flexibility in the Taliban's approach, and it appeared they would at least sit down for negotiations with the Americans or with the Afghan government. (See Taliban and US get down to talks Asia Times Online, September 11, 2010.)

The process drew on all international players to solicit the student militia to resolve the nearly 10-year conflict. (See Taliban soften as talks gain speed Asia Times Online, September 15, 2010.) To establish rapport with the Taliban and further the process of dialogue, the Taliban's commander in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, was released. (See Pakistan frees Taliban commander Asia Times Online, October 16, 2010.)

The US's top man in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, while saying that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) would remain tough in Afghanistan against the Taliban, said the peace process was welcomed. He also disclosed that NATO had even gave safe passage to a senior Taliban commander to go to Kabul for talks - a hint over the release in Pakistan of Baradar.

Publicly, though, the Taliban did not acknowledge that talks were taking place. A recent handout read:
No Taliban official has spoken to the Americans or their puppet Afghan government ... those who were arrested [Baradar], those who changed their loyalties [former Taliban foreign minister Abdul Wakeel Muttawakil and Senator Arsala Rahmani] or those who are living under Afghan government surveillance [former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Zaeef] are not Taliban representatives. Their interaction does not have any meaning for the Taliban.
Due to the extraordinary surveillance against the Taliban, no senior leader would agreed to come forward to give the real Taliban side of the story; however, eventually a middle-cadre member was sent to meet with Asia Times Online, and he confirmed the public statement.

"The much-hyped reconciliation strategy was a trap and we never actually considered it as an option," the Taliban envoy - who had traveled from Kandahar in Afghanistan - said.

"The Americans never wanted reconciliation with the Taliban. They never approached us directly. If we were approached by third parties, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan or the UAE [United Arab Emirates], we did not consider it anything serious," the envoy said.

This did not fit with a general understanding that Naseeruddin Haqqani, the son of commander Jalaluddin Haqqani and brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani of the most powerful Taliban network, had been at the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad in September. Further, the embassy had arranged for him and his family to go on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. (Naseeruddin Haqqani had been arrested in 2009 by the Pakistani security forces and then released in exchange for Pakistani soldiers. The swap was brokered by now slain Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud.)
I gave my understanding, "That was the real clandestine interaction of the Haqqani network with the American or the Afghan government through Saudi Arabia, not the contacts mentioned in the Western media."

I continued, challenging the envoy's version of events, "The fact of the matter is that the Taliban did show flexibility for talks, so I wonder why they abruptly failed?"

The Talib responded, "On the one hand they were offering an olive branch and from the another hand they were tightening the noose around us. We could see that the whole game of reconciliation was not aimed at offering us power, but on inflicting serious damage on us."

He explained, "On the one side they were looking to establish a channel of communication with the Haqqanis, yet now [in October] they are gathering troops in Khost [province in Afghanistan across the border from North Waziristan]. There has been extraordinary troop mobilization in Khost. For what?" he asked, then answered the question.

"Pressure is mounting on Pakistan to carry out a military operation in North Waziristan against the Haqqani network. It is clearly evident that they want to place the Haqqani network between a hammer and a hard rock [NATO forces in Khost and the Pakistan army in North Waziristan]."

The Talib concluded, "There is more. For the first time, we see extraordinary movement in Chaman [a border town in Pakistan's Balochistan province across from the Spin Boldak-Kandahar area in Afghanistan]. This makes us wonder what the reconciliation process is really all about. In this whole situation, Pakistan's role is central. If it takes NATO's side, the Taliban will have a tough time as we see a serious battle ahead behind this smokescreen of the reconciliation process."

Ali al-Shamsi, a special envoy of the UAE for Pakistan and Afghanistan and the main person who arranged high-profile Taliban meetings in Dubai at the US's behest to initiate the dialogue process, submitted his resignation this month. (Shamsi was the UAE's ambassador to Pakistan during Taliban rule in Afghanistan - 1996-2001.)

However, the UAE government requested him to continue his assignment until a peace conference in Dubai on Afghanistan scheduled for late next month. The conference is an initiative by the Afghan government.

Shamsi's move followed the Americans stating that Washington could not give any guarantees for meeting any conditions set by the Taliban in the leadup to dialogue and that it backed out of earlier promises. (See Taliban and US get down to talks Asia Times Online, September 11, 2010.)

Al-Qaeda, meanwhile, realizing all along that it is the US's main target, is regrouping after all the losses it has sustained.

Early this year, al-Qaeda finally had 16 of its members released by Iran. (See How Iran and al-Qaeda made a deal Asia Times Online, April 30, 2010. Prominent among them were Saad bin Laden (one of Osama bin Laden's sons), Saiful Adil, Suleman al-Gaith and Abu Hafs al-Mauritani.

They settled in the tribal areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan. However, since they had spent almost eight years in detention in Iran, al-Qaeda kept them away from operations, they were not even allowed to attend shura (council) meetings.

In the face of al-Qaeda's losses, though, al-Qaeda decided to embrace them for operations. Saiful Adil is likely to be the new face of al-Qaeda in 2011, with operations emanating in Pakistan and spreading to Somalia, Yemen and Turkey to pitch operations in Europe and India.

As matters stand now, going into 2011, the Taliban will continue the struggle in Afghanistan with the help of al-Qaeda's new team, which in turn will also plan attacks in Europe and India.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 29, 2010, 05:24:21 am
Central Asia
Oct 30, 2010

Uncle Sam, energy and peace in Asia

By M K Bhadrakumar

In the Orient, offspring don't rebuke parents, even if the latter are at fault - especially in the post-Soviet space where Marxian formalism continues to prevail as political culture. The sort of stern public rebuke bordering on short shrift that Ashgabat administered to Moscow is extraordinary.

But then, Moscow tested Turkmen patience by trying to create confusion about Ashgabat's policy of positive "neutrality" - building energy bridges to the West alongside its thriving cooperation with Russia and China.

On Thursday, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry bluntly rejected any role for Russia in the proposed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project, commonly known as TAPI. Ashgabat alleged that Moscow is spreading calumnies and expressed the hope that "future statements by Russian officials will be guided by a sense of responsibility and reality".

The reference was to a friendly and seemingly helpful statement by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin (who accompanied President Dmitry Medvedev to the Turkmen capital last weekend) that Russian participation in the TAPI figured in the latest Russian-Turkmen summit talks and "Gazprom may participate in this project in any capacity - builder, designer, participant, etc ... If Gazprom becomes a participant, then we will study possibilities of working in gas sales."

The Turkmen Foreign Ministry said, "Turkmenistan views such statements as an attempt to hamper the normal course of our country's cooperation in the energy sector and call into question its obligations to its partners." It added that there was "no agreement whatsoever" regarding Russian participation in the TAPI.

The TAPI presents a knot of paradoxes and the Russians who hold the pulse of the Central Asian energy scene would have sensed by now that Uncle Sam is close to untying the knot, finally, after a decade-and-a-half of sheer perseverance. The TAPI falls within the first circle of the Caspian great game. When it appears that Russia all but checkmated the United States and the European Union's plans to advance trans-Caspian energy projects bypassing Russia, a thrust appears from the south and east opening up stunning possibilities for the West.

Russia promptly began slouching toward the TAPI - which, incidentally, was originally a Soviet idea but was appropriated by the United States no sooner than the USSR disintegrated - against the backdrop of renewed interest in the project recently among regional powers amid the growing possibility that Afghan peace talks might reconcile the Taliban and that despite the Kashmir problem, Pakistan and India wouldn't mind tangoing.

The TAPI pipeline runs on a roughly 1,600-kilometer route along the ancient Silk Road from Turkmenistan's fabulous Dauletabad gas fields on the Afghan border to Herat in western Afghanistan, then onto Helmand and Kandahar, entering Pakistan's Quetta and turning east toward Multan, and ending up in Fazilka on the Indian side of Pakistan's eastern border. An updated Asian Development Bank (ADB) estimate of 2008 put the project cost for the pipeline with an output of 33 bcm annually at $7.6 billion.

The signals from Ashgabat, Kabul, Islamabad and New Delhi in recent weeks uniformly underscored that the TAPI is in the final stage of take-off. India unambiguously signed up in August. On Wednesday, the Pakistan government gave approval to the project at a cabinet meeting in Islamabad. The ADB is open to financing the project and is expected to be the project's "secretariat".

As things stand, there could be a meeting of the political leaderships of the four participating countries in December to formally kick-start the TAPI.

The commencement of the TAPI is undoubtedly a defining moment for Turkmenistan (which is keen to diversify export routes), for Afghanistan (which hopes to get $300 million as transit fee annually and an all-round economic spin-off) and for Pakistan and India (which face energy shortages).

However, the geopolitics trumps everything else. For the first time in six decades, India and Pakistan are becoming stakeholders in each other's development and growth - and it is taking place under American watch. The rapprochement would positively impact the Afghan chessboard where Pakistan and India are locked in a futile, utterly wasteful zero-sum game.

NATO enters energy business
The most important geopolitical factor, perhaps, is that the US is the "ideologue" of the project and its Great Central Asia strategy - aiming at rolling back Russian and Chinese influence in the region and forging the region's links with South Asia - is set to take a big step forward.

India and Pakistan, traditional allies of Russia and China, are in essence endorsing the Great Central Asia strategy. It signifies a tectonic shift in the geopolitics and immensely strengthens the US's regional policies. India and Pakistan are becoming stakeholders in a long-term US presence in the region.

Equally, NATO is set to take on the role of the provider of security for the TAPI, providing the alliance an added raison d'etre for its long-term presence in Central Asia. NATO's role in energy security has been under discussion for some time. Russia used to robustly contest the concept, but its thoughts are mellowing as the reset with the US gains traction.

Broadly, the NATO position was outlined by the alliance's former secretary general Jaap de Hoop Schaffer in January last year when he said:
Protecting pipelines is first and foremost a national priority. And it should stay like that. NATO is not in the business of protecting pipelines. But when there's a crisis, or if a certain nation asks for assistance, NATO could, I think, be instrumental in protecting pipelines on land.
Clearly, the long-term "strategic cooperation" agreement between NATO and Karzai's government which is expected to be signed at the alliance's summit in Lisbon on November 19 now assumes an altogether profound meaning.

Besides, the TAPI is also a "Western" project, as several NATO countries involved in Afghanistan's stabilization - the US, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Norway - are also members of the ADB and TAPI is piloted by the US and Japan, two major shareholders in the ADB.

More important, the BP Statistical Review 2009 puts Turkmenistan's known gas reserves so far at a staggering 7.94 trillion cubic meters (TCM). A 2008 audit of the gigantic South Yolotan-Osman field in western Turkmenistan by the UK firm Gaffney, Cline & Associates estimated the reserves of this field alone at anywhere between 4 to 14 TCM of gas. Many more fields in Turkmenistan are yet to be audited. Without doubt, the propaganda that Turkmenistan lacks gas reserves to supply markets beyond Russia and China stands exposed.

And the curious part is that South Yolotan-Osman - and the gas reserves in Uzbekistan and northern Afghanistan - can be linked to the TAPI and a TAPI branch line can be very easily extended from Quetta to the Pakistani port of Gwadar, in which case Europe can finally tap Central Asian energy reserves directly, dispensing with the Russian middleman.

Obama has style
Quite obviously, the TAPI meshes well with the Afghan endgame. Karzai used to work for Unocal before he surfaced in Kabul as a statesman in 2001, and Unocal originally promoted TAPI in the mid-1990s. "Good" Taliban were all along enthusiastic about the TAPI project provided the US traded with them as Afghan interlocutors.

The US initially warmed up to the Taliban in the early 1990s as a stabilizing factor that could put an end to the chaotic mujahideen era and help facilitate the transportation of the Caspian and Central Asian energy to the world market via Pakistani ports. Senior Taliban officials were hosted by the US State Department and things were indeed going spectacularly well until militant "Arab fighters" began influencing the Taliban leadership and spoiled everything.

The Americans dithered far too long in according recognition to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden grabbed the window of opportunity. Nonetheless, there is reason to believe that the contacts continued all the way up to the eve of the al-Qaeda's 9/11 attacks.

The "good" Taliban are in business again. NATO aircraft ferry them to Kabul so that they can urgently talk peace.

From the beginning, the US saw the TAPI's potential to bring Pakistan and India together and also bind the two South Asian adversaries to it, thus providing an underpinning to its overall Asian strategy. Moscow and Beijing would have a sense of unease about what is unfolding. The recent Moscow commentaries display some irritation with New Delhi. Last weekend there was an unusually preachy opinion-piece on India's "Chechnya" - Kashmir.

The plain truth is that the TAPI revives the Silk Road, which can also unlock Afghanistan's multi-trillion dollar untold mineral wealth and transport the hidden treasures to Gwadar port for shipment to faraway lands.

If George W Bush were handling Barack Obama's job today, he would probably thread into his forthcoming November visit to New Delhi a regional summit where the TAPI gets formalized as a historic American initiative in regional cooperation.

But that isn't Obama's style - descending from the skies wearing a windbreaker and proclaiming premature victory from the deck of an aircraft carrier. He trusts "smart power".

Obama would intellectualize the TAPI as the harbinger of peace in one of the most destitute regions on the planet - which it indeed is. He would then probably sit down and explain that what seems a setback in the Caspian great game is ultimately for China's and Russia's larger good. A "stable" Afghanistan is in their interests, after all.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 29, 2010, 05:43:40 am
Published on Thursday, October 28, 2010 by The Nation

Killing Reconciliation: How US Policy Undermines Peace in Afghanistan

by Jeremy Scahill

On March 26, 2009, Mullah Sahib Jan, a militant Taliban imam from the Mohammed Agha district in Afghanistan's Logar province, walked into the office of the Independent National Reconciliation Commission, the main body encouraging the Taliban to lay down their weapons and work with the government. He was escorting fifty Taliban fighters who, he said, had committed to ending their fight against the Afghan government and entering the process of integration. To the government, Sahib Jan was a shining example of how reconciliation with the Taliban is supposed to work. But less than a year later, the former militant's story would stand as a devastating symbol of how the actions of US Special Operations Forces are sabotaging the very strategy for reaching a political settlement that US officials claim to support.

Throughout Afghanistan, large billboards line the major roads encouraging Taliban fighters to do what Sahib Jan did—reconcile with the government. The billboards show red silhouettes of Kalashnikov-carrying Taliban fighters walking across a line, after which they transform into civilians and join white silhouettes of unarmed Afghans dressed in traditional garb. The message is clear: lay down your weapons and rejoin the family.


The US killing of civilians--often in deadly night raids--combined with a widely held perception that the Afghan government exists only for facilitating the corruption of powerful warlords, drug dealers and war criminals, is producing a situation in which the Taliban and the Haqqani network are gaining support from the Pashtun heartland in communities that would not otherwise be backing them. (AFP/Getty image)

When Sahib Jan walked into the reconciliation office, he publicly announced that he and his Taliban colleagues had agreed to work with the government on a peace process after the commission assured him that it would restrict US-led NATO forces from conducting night raids and killing civilians. "If the killing and arrests of people were not stopped," he said, "we would withdraw our support to the government and the foreign forces."

Reconciliation officials in Logar province say that making allies out of figures like Sahib Jan is the centerpiece of their work. Logar and its neighboring provinces, Paktia, Wardak and Ghazni, contain a strong presence of not only the Taliban but also the Haqqani network, the insurgent group portrayed by US officials as having the closest ties to Al Qaeda and a cozy relationship with Pakistan's ISI spy organization. Logar is also home to several tribes that say they have spent the past two years trying to make peace. A crucial part of this, they say, is building enough trust with the Taliban to make a serious case for ending their insurgency. Soon after his initial trip to the reconciliation office, Sahib Jan left his calling as an imam and took a position as a religious adviser to the reconciliation commission. As part of his work, reconciliation officials say, he traveled to **** Taliban areas.

"He was preaching to the Taliban, encouraging them to come to the government, telling the fighters there were a lot of benefits to laying down their arms," says Mohammed Anwar, director of Logar's reconciliation commission and an adviser to a local tribal council. Council officials credit Sahib Jan with putting Taliban fighters on the road to reconciliation.

But on the morning of January 14, Sahib Jan's bullet-riddled body lay on the ground outside his family's mud-brick compound in Logar's Safed Sang village. According to local officials and his family, he was killed in a night raid by US Special Operations Forces. "At 1 or 1:30 in the morning, US soldiers pulled up to the gas station in front of our house. We were sleeping in our rooms at that time," recalls Sahib Jan's 18-year-old son, Haider. "They broke down the doors of our house. My father was in one room, and we were in another. We don't know exactly when the US soldiers entered our house, we just know that they took our father and killed him. They killed our father outside our house, a short ways away. We don't know if they killed him from a helicopter or if commandos killed him."

According to Haider, US forces entered the compound with ladders and corralled the men into one room, where they handcuffed and blindfolded them. They moved the women to a separate room. "They tied all of our hands and roughed us up a little bit. They were beating us with both weapons and their hands," recalls Haider. "I was tied up from 1 or 1:30 in the morning until 6 in the morning." The family says that during the raid much of their property was damaged or destroyed. As Sahib Jan's sons were tied up, they had no idea of their father's fate until the Afghan translator appeared with US soldiers. They showed them a picture and said, "This is the man we killed."

"It was my father," Haider recalls. The soldiers then escorted the surviving men of the family to their father's body, where they saw about six bullets in it. With that, the Americans left; they have never contacted the family since.

"We have checked our logs and with our units that conduct these types of mission profiles. There is no record of the operation," US Lt. Commander Thomas Porter wrote in an e-mail to The Nation. But an eyewitness to the raid named Azmuddin, who works at the gas station in front of Sahib Jan's home, says, "US forces told me the next morning that they killed him because he had shot at them." Azmuddin says the morning after the raid he was arrested by US forces and taken to the classified Tor Prison, or "black jail," for fifteen days before being locked up at the Bagram prison for four months. In response to NATO's statement, government officials in Logar reacted angrily and swore that Sahib Jan was killed by US forces.

"There was a false report claiming that Sahib Jan was a Taliban, and the Americans conducted a night raid and killed him even though he had been working with us for months," says Anwar, the head of Logar's reconciliation commission. "During the entire time he worked with us, he hadn't participated in any attacks against the government. He worked with us as a religious adviser. Only the US soldiers know why they killed Sahib Jan. We don't know why." The local district chief, Abdul Hameed, says US forces carried out the raid without the cooperation of provincial security personnel. Anwar says that when he tries to contact US forces about these deadly incidents, they won't let him on their base, and the guards always tell him the appropriate officials are too busy or not there.

Officials at the reconciliation office point to several night raids over the past year, which they say targeted former Taliban who entered the process of reconciliation, as devastating to their work. "We are trying to build bridges between the Taliban and the government and trying to find jobs for them. We are working to get them decent housing in return for leaving the Taliban," says Anwar. "We are also trying to ensure that once they turn themselves in, they are not arrested again. How can we encourage reconciliation in good faith in the face of these American raids against the very people who agree to disarm?"

Meanwhile, US and NATO officials proclaim that the Taliban are on the ropes and will eventually be forced to make a deal. "The insurgency is under pressure, under pressure like never before in Afghanistan," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on October 22. "Our aim for this year was to regain the momentum. Now we have it." In recent weeks, such rhetoric has been bolstered by a flurry of reports about senior Taliban officials engaging in direct talks with the Karzai government, and US officials portray Washington as open to some form of a political settlement. But there is an enormous disconnect between the image projected by the US and Afghan governments and reality. On the ground the Taliban seem to be gaining traction and increasing membership despite, or perhaps because of, intensified US targeted-killing operations and night raids.

Two senior officials of the former Taliban government have told The Nation that the Taliban will not engage in any meaningful talks until foreign troops are expelled from Afghanistan and that reports that the Taliban are engaged in serious negotiations are false. "There is nothing going on, no negotiations between the Taliban and the Americans or the Taliban and the [Afghan] government," says Abdul Salam Zaeef, who served as the Taliban government's ambassador to Pakistan, in an interview at his home in Kabul. He says if anyone claiming to be Taliban is negotiating, they are essentially nobodies to the movement. "There was no 'peace meeting' because the Taliban reject it."

Privately, US officials have acknowledged that reports in US media outlets of senior Taliban negotiating are propaganda aimed at sowing dissent among the Taliban leadership. "This is a psychological operation, plain and simple," a US official with firsthand knowledge of the Afghan government's strategies told the McClatchy news service. "Exaggerating the significance of it is an effort to sow distrust within the insurgency."

The story of Sahib Jan raises a complicated question: was he really an influential Taliban figure? A current Taliban commander from Kunduz told The Nation that there is no evidence of the reconciliation program's success and that rural people are sometimes used as pawns in a game to elevate the status of tribal leaders with the Afghan government by "reconciling" Taliban fighters. "These are people who are just getting salaries from foreign powers or Afghan officials. You and I just invent a group and give them turbans and weapons and they go and say, We are Talibs and we surrender," says the Taliban commander, who goes by the nom de guerre Salahuddin. It is not clear whether Sahib Jan was an example of this, but in terms of public perception in Logar, that is irrelevant. What is not in dispute is that he publicly announced he was a Taliban mullah on the path to reconciliation and was killed in a night raid ten months later.

The US strategy seems to be to force the Taliban to the table through a fierce killing campaign. According to the US military, over a ninety-day period this past summer, US and coalition Special Operations Forces killed or captured more than 2,900 "insurgents," with an estimated dozen killed a day. Between July 4, when Gen. David Petraeus assumed command in Kabul, and early October, according to the military, US and Afghan Special Operations Forces killed more than 300 Taliban commanders and more than 900 foot soldiers in 1,500 raids. "This is precisely the kind of pressure we believe will lead to reconciliation and reintegration" of the Taliban, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said recently.

Zaeef, the former senior Taliban official, who spent four years in Guantánamo prison, confirmed that the American targeted-killing campaign of Taliban leaders has been successful, but he believes that the strategy will backfire for both the US and Afghan governments. "If these people, important, known people, disappear from the [Taliban] movement, what will happen? Who should [the Afghan government] make a dialogue with?" he asks. "The fighting will not stop. I know the new generation is more extremist than the last generation. The new generation will not listen to anyone. This is a dangerous thing. It will be bad for the Americans, but it will be worse for the people of Afghanistan."

Evidence of this can be found in a recent incident in Paktia province, when the Taliban leadership in Quetta, Pakistan, sent a representative to "reprimand a group of young commanders who were breaking the organization's rules," according to veteran Afghanistan journalist Anand Gopal. "But the defiant young commanders killed the cleric. While such incidents are still isolated, the danger is that as the Taliban undergo a massive demographic change in the coming years, this trend will accelerate, and the ability of Quetta to enforce decisions on its rank and file will be diminished."

Zaeef says the night raids and the targeted killings are strengthening the Taliban and inspiring more people "to become extremist against the Americans." US political and military leaders, he says, "are thinking, 'When we scare the people, they should be quiet.' But this is a different nation. When you are killing one person, four or five others rise against you. If you are killing five people, twenty, at least, are rising against you. When you are disrespecting the people or the honor of the people in one village, the whole village becomes against you. This is creating hatred against Americans."

The US killing of civilians, combined with a widely held perception that the Afghan government exists only for facilitating the corruption of powerful warlords, drug dealers and war criminals, is producing a situation in which the Taliban and the Haqqani network are gaining support from the Pashtun heartland in communities that would not otherwise be backing them. Since 2005, when Zaeef was released from Guantánamo, "the Taliban have become stronger," he says. "Are the Taliban coming from the sky?" Zaeef asks. "No, it's new people."

Zaeef and Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, the former Taliban foreign minister, insist that the Taliban is still the umbrella under which all of the insurgent forces operate. But at the same time they acknowledge that smaller, localized militias not loyal to Mullah Mohammed Omar or the Quetta-based Taliban leadership are popping up more and more. "By killing leaders, the war will not come to an end, but on the contrary, things will get worse, which will give birth to more leaders," says Muttawakil. "Many people might not like Taliban but join them because they are being harassed by powerful Afghans or foreigners and want to get revenge." Many of these newer insurgents live in rural areas of Afghanistan and, for now, fight in their own communities rather than as part of a cohesive national rebellion. "The nature of this kind of war is that it starts from the rural areas, as it started against the Soviet Union. Gradually the war spreads to district centers and then to the center of small provinces," Muttawakil says. "The war has started in rural areas and gradually will spread to big cities."

On a practical level, the discontent in those rural areas with the corruption of the Afghan government and the consistent killing of civilians by US forces is raising the prospect that Afghans offering assistance to the Afghan government and NATO forces—such as allowing safe passage to key supply convoys—may withdraw that support.

* * *

One community leader in Logar, Hajji Showkatt, works with a network of tribal leaders across Logar and its neighboring provinces who broker complex deals with the Taliban and Haqqani network forces to refrain from attacking oil and supply convoys headed to and from Kabul. Part of this involves paying bribes to the Taliban, but the deals also rely on assurances from Showkatt and the reconciliation commission to insurgent forces that they are working to end the night raids and arrests.

In the weeks leading up to Sahib Jan's killing, Logar officials say, there had been three other night raids in the area. Sahib Jan's killing was the final straw. "At the funeral everyone was so emotional when we took his body to be buried. We cursed the Americans," Showkatt says. In response, local people—not aligned with the Taliban—attacked an oil convoy, blowing up more than a dozen trucks, according to local officials. The scorched earth left by the attack can still be seen on the highway running through Logar. "Here is the bottom line: the US is conducting actions that are killing innocent people," Showkatt says. "The Taliban use this as propaganda and say to the people, 'This is what America is about.' It makes them more powerful."

Showkatt, who fought as a mujahedeen against the Soviets, continues to protect supply convoys for the United States and Afghan governments along key routes, but he says that this is becoming increasingly difficult to justify. Showkatt and other leaders say they cannot guarantee they will continue to offer convoy protection. "In the mujahedeen times, we stopped all of the Russian convoys in this area," Showkatt boasts.

"We fought the Russians when they were here and we expelled them," adds Showkatt's friend Azrat Mohammed, a former mujahedeen commander from Logar. "Americans are not stronger than the Russians. If they continue with these actions, disrespecting our women, killing the wrong people, inshallah, we will rise up to defeat them too."

Throughout the Pashtun heartland of southern Afghanistan, police officials and civilians alike tell stories about personal grudges being settled through death by US night raids, where false intelligence is deliberately passed on to NATO forces to get a rival or enemy killed or captured.

Mohammed is living in a refugee camp in Pakistan, he says, for that very reason. He says he has been warned he is on a list for kill or capture. "I am too afraid to even sleep in my own home at night, so I spend most of my time in the camps in Pakistan. I am afraid the Americans will kill me," he says. "The way the Americans rely on bad intelligence to target people like me, the night raids we keep witnessing, the arrests and the torture and the killing is all making me want to pick up a weapon again. We are not by our nature against the government, but what they are doing is encouraging people to rise up against them."

In Afghanistan, Taliban commanders are fond of characterizing their fight to expel the United States and its allies with the phrase, "You've got the clocks, we've got the time." While US leaders are struggling to define what victory would look like in Afghanistan, the forces they are fighting are not. "We have two goals: freedom or martyrdom," says Taliban commander Salahuddin. "If we do not win our freedom, then we'll die honorably for its cause." The continuing US targeted-killing campaign and renewed airstrikes ordered by General Petraeus seem only to be further weakening the already fragile Karzai government. In plain terms, the United States' own actions in Afghanistan seem to be delivering the most fatal blows to its counterinsurgency strategy and its goal of winning hearts and minds. "I think that the Americans are already defeated in Afghanistan, they are just not accepting it," says former Taliban official Zaeef.

"If the US pulls out, my heart will be very sad because there will be a civil war," says Asif Mohammed, a young driver who escorts supply convoys to Kabul. "If they stay, they will continue killing our women and children." In the end, there could be the worst of both worlds: an escalation in raids by US Special Operations Forces, with their heavy toll on civilians, and a failed counterinsurgency campaign incapable of stopping a civil war.

© 2010 The Nation


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 29, 2010, 05:48:00 am
Published on Thursday, October 28, 2010 by McClatchy Newspapers

US Can't Untangle Billions in Bush-Era Afghan Spending

by Marisa Taylor

WASHINGTON - The U.S. government knows it's awarded nearly $18 billion in contracts for rebuilding Afghanistan over the last three years, but it can't account for spending before 2007.

Thousands of firms received wartime contracts, but the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction found it too difficult to untangle how billions of additional dollars had been spent because of the U.S. agencies' poor recordkeeping.

"Navigating the confusing labyrinth of government contracting is difficult, at best," the inspector general says in a report that was released Wednesday.

The finding raises doubts about whether the U.S. government ever will determine whether taxpayers' money was spent wisely in Afghanistan.

"Data got better from 2007 on," said Susan Phalen, a spokeswoman with SIGAR, "but it remains to be seen whether we'll ever know how much U.S. agencies spent overall."

Overall, the U.S. has set aside about $55 billion for rebuilding Afghanistan, but that includes agencies' budget for staff salaries, operations and security. SIGAR couldn't parse how much was spent on contractors alone.

SIGAR recommended that the Pentagon, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development create one database to track wartime contracts. As it stands, the Pentagon has four contracting agencies that oversee contracts, but none of them is sharing information. SIGAR found a lack of coordination among all the U.S. agencies that oversee contracting in Afghanistan, not just the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, a handful of companies received a majority of the contracts, auditors found.

USAID, for example, awarded almost half of the $2 billion it set aside for Afghanistan projects to two companies, Louis Berger and Development Alternatives Inc. Overall, the agency doled out contracts to 214 companies.

Of 6,600 firms that have received contracts from the Pentagon for Afghanistan, 44 of them received more than half the military's business there. One contractor, DynCorp International, accounted for about 75 percent of all the contracts for Afghanistan that two State Department bureaus awarded.

The military's joint contracting command acknowledged problems with its tracking, but it told auditors that it's trying to improve it.

Although the State Department and USAID received drafts of the report from SIGAR so they could comment on it, they didn't respond.

The report is the latest to criticize the U.S.'s handling of contracts in Afghanistan. A SIGAR audit released Wednesday concluded that six police stations in a dangerous stretch of southern Afghanistan were so poorly constructed by the Afghan contractor that they can't be occupied. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers didn't detect the problems and paid the firm almost $5 million of the $5.5 million contract price.


Special inspector general's report on U.S. spending in Afghanistan [1]

© 2010 McClatchy Newspapers


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Post by: bigron on October 29, 2010, 05:56:01 am
Published on Thursday, October 28, 2010 by

Is the Pentagon Deliberately "Degrading" Afghanistan's Capacity for Peace?

by Robert Naiman

On Wednesday, the Washington Post carried a remarkable article [1] reporting that according to U.S. government assessments, the U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan has failed.

The Post's Greg Miller reported that

An intense military campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency

Miller explains why this is so:

Escalated airstrikes and special operations raids have disrupted Taliban movements and damaged local cells. But officials said that insurgents have been adept at absorbing the blows and that they appear confident that they can outlast an American troop buildup set to subside beginning next July.

"The insurgency seems to be maintaining its resilience," said a senior Defense Department official involved in assessments of the war. Taliban elements have consistently shown an ability to "reestablish and rejuvenate," often within days of routed by U.S. forces, the official said, adding that if there is a sign that momentum has shifted, "I don't see it."


So, since the policy of military escalation has failed, according to the U.S. government's own assessments, we should expect that in December, when President Obama promised that the policy will be reviewed, we should see a fundamental change in policy. Right?

But, according to the same Washington Post report, "no major change in strategy is expected in December."

How could it be, that the policy has failed, according to official U.S. government assessments, and yet no change is expected when the promised review occurs?

One possible explanation would be that while the policy is failing according to stated Pentagon objectives, it is succeeding according to unstated Pentagon objectives. The Pentagon is not succeeding in degrading the Taliban's military capacity. But the Pentagon is, apparently, succeeding in degrading the Taliban's political capacity: in particular, the Taliban's political capacity to strike a deal that ends the war and enforce the deal on its mid-level commanders and footsoldiers. This would be dangerously counterproductive if your goal were to end the war, but if your goal is to make a peace deal more difficult in order to facilitate a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan, maybe you don't think this is counterproductive, because a feasible peace deal almost certainly implies a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces.

An op-ed in Tuesday's New York Times by anthropologist Scott Atran notes that [2]

The United States claims to have killed thousands of Taliban in recent months, mostly foot soldiers and midlevel commanders. But those 25-year-old foot soldiers are being replaced by teenage fighters, and the 35-year-old midlevel commanders by 20-something students straight out of the religious chools called madrasas, which are the only form of education available in many rural areas.

These younger commanders and their fiercely loyal fighters are increasingly removed from the dense networks of tribal kinship and patronage, or qawm, and especially of friendship born of common experiences, or andiwali, that bind together the top figures in the established insurgent groups like the Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network. Indeed, it is primarily through andiwali -- overlapping bonds of family, schooling, years together in camps, combat service, business partnership -- that talks between the adversaries, including representatives of Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, and Mullah Omar, the Taliban's ultimate leader, have continued over the years.

These new Taliban warriors, however, are increasingly independent, ruthless and unwilling to compromise with foreign infidels and their associates.


Atran notes that "recently the Quetta Shura sent a Muslim scholar to chastise a group of youthful commanders in Paktia Province who were not following Mullah Omar's directives; they promptly killed him."
The Afghanistan that the Pentagon is producing with its current policy is one in which a peace deal will be more difficult to reach and to enforce; that we know. The question is whether this is a deliberate result of Pentagon policy. If there is a meaningful review of the policy in December that leads to a significant change towards deescalation and serious negotiations, then one will be able to plausibly argue that the current policy was merely a disastrous, deadly and counterproductive mistake which killed many Americans and Afghans for no reason. But if the review is fake and the escalation policy continues, even though the result of current policy is clear, the more sinister explanation -- that the Pentagon is making peace more difficult on purpose -- will be much more plausible.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy [3]


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 29, 2010, 06:01:33 am
Published on Thursday, October 28, 2010 by This Can't Be Happening

What Are They Hiding? Obama Administration Defending Black Site Prison at Bagram Airbase

by Dave Lindorff

A victory for the government in a federal court in New York City Monday marks another slide deeper into Dick Cheney’s “dark side” for the Obama Administration.

In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been seeking to force the Pentagon to provide information about all captives it is holding at its huge prison facility at Bagram Airbase outside Kabul in Afghanistan, Federal District Judge Barbara Jones of the Southern District of New York has issued a summary judgement saying that the government may keep that information secret.

The lingering question is: Why does the US government so adamantly want to hide information about where captives were first taken into military custody, their citizenship, the length of their captivity, and the circumstances under which they were captured?

Says Melissa Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, “The military says that they can’t release the information because it would be a threat to national security, but they provided that information for the prisoners at Guantanamo.”

And of course, as our leaders informed us repeatedly, those captives at Guantanamo, who hailed from all over the globe, including Afghanistan, were allegedly “the worst of the worst” -- at least until it turned out that many of them were wholly innocent of anything. had been framed and turned in for a bounty, or were mere children when picked up, like Omar Khadr, the 24-year old Canadian man who just copped a guilty plea to avoid a sham tribunal before 7 officers and potential life imprisonment, after being captured at 15, tortured at Bagram, and held for nine years at Guantanamo (on a charge of killing an American soldier in battle).

The court ruling keeping the information about the thousands of prisoners held at Bagram secret may be a victory for the government, but it is hardly a victory for America’s image in the world, or for the troops battling in Afghanistan, who will be attacked all the harder by people induced to fight to the death to avoid capture and consignment to the hellhole in Bagram (now known as Parwan Prison), which has become Afghanistan’s Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo rolled into one.

One of the things that concerns the ACLU is that by not even making public the circumstances under which Bagram detainees were brought into the prison, it appears likely that the administration is hiding the reality that many “probably don’t deserve to be there,” says the ACLU’s Goodman. She explains, “There could be plenty of people sitting there who were just caught up in house sweeps in Kabul, for instance.”

As well, she says that by withholding information about citizenship and about the place of initial capture, the government may be hiding the fact that it is using Bagram as it used to use Guantanamo, as a so-called “black site” for “rendering,” or bringing, people captured all around the world.

Making matters worse is a string of continuing reports from people released from Bagram, including some which are very recent, that it is a site where torture is routinely applied to prisoners.

Significantly, a second part of the court’s ruling was that the CIA does not have to confirm or deny whether it too is holding captives at Bagram. This is a serious blow too to America’s reputation and to democratic values, since when President Obama, early in his presidency, signed an executive order outlawing torture by the military, he left some major loopholes. Most significantly, he applied that order only to persons captured during “armed conflict.” Since the US doesn’t consider captives in the loosely-defined “War on Terror” to be legitimate combatants, that means many of the people held at Bagram may be considered outside of the president’s ban. The order also says captives in counterterror operations do not have to be reported to the Red Cross.

Goodman says, "Despite concerns that Bagram has become the new Guantánamo, the public remains in the dark when it comes to basic facts about the facility and whom our military is holding in indefinite military detention there. The public has a right to know how long the U.S. has kept people locked up in military detention and under what circumstances. The lack of transparency about these key facts is even more disturbing considering the possibility that the U.S. will continue holding and interrogating prisoners at Bagram well into the future. Unfortunately, today's ruling will allow the government to continue hiding this vital information."

When the ugly sadistic goings on at Abu Ghraib were exposed, it caused massive damage to the US, and, according to government statements at the time, ended up helping recruit more future terrorists. It seems the Obama adminstration is heading down the same road now at Bagram, with the blessing of a Judge Jones.

Copyright © 2010 This Can't Be Happening
Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run online alternative newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues John Grant, Linn Washington and Charles Young, can be found at


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Post by: bigron on October 29, 2010, 06:15:09 am
October 29, 2010

U.S. And NATO Drag Asia Into Afghan Quagmire

by Rick Rozoff

On October 7 the American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization war in Afghanistan entered its tenth year and in slightly over two months will be in its eleventh calendar year.

There are currently more than 150,000 foreign troops in the nation and the number is steadily rising.

As examples, this February Germany raised its troop numbers in Afghanistan from 4,500 to a post-World War Two overseas high of 5,350.

Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa recently pledged 1,200 more troops for the war, bringing the nation’s total to 4,000, during a meeting with commander of all U.S. and NATO forces General David Petraeus. This month Italy also announced it was sending three new military helicopters to the war theater and La Russa stated that he was considering authorizing bombings by Italian fighter jets in Afghanistan.


Newer NATO members in Eastern Europe have authorized comparable increases in troop deployments, with the senate of the Czech Republic voting on October 27 to boost its nation’s contingent to 720 troops and Bulgaria confirming it will raise its figure to 600 by the end of the year. Moreover, the Czech Republic will redeploy special forces to Afghanistan and Bulgaria will shift from security duties to combat operations.

Not only are NATO member states continuing to enlarge the amount of troops for a war without a foreseeable end, but Washington and Brussels are intensifying joint efforts to recruit troops from nations that have until now avoided being pulled into the Afghan imbroglio.

Earlier this year Armenia, Montenegro, Mongolia, South Korea and Malaysia became the 43rd-47th official Troop Contributing Countries for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. On October 8 the diminutive South Pacific nation of Tonga was recruited by Britain as the 48th and will deploy “more than two hundred troops to Afghanistan” as – to believe British and NATO accounts of the agreement – Tonga “wants to show its support to the alliance.” [1]

A few days before, the U.S.’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke pressured the foreign minister of Bangladesh to supply combat troops to serve under NATO in Afghanistan. Four days later, on September 30, the charge d’affaires of the US mission in Dhaka, Nicholas Dean, stated, “The United States has intensified its discussion on Bangladesh’s engagement in Afghanistan….” [2]

In the past week new disclosures indicate that the U.S. and NATO are broadening their Afghan war recruitment campaign throughout Asia.

A Kyodo News report of two weeks ago revealed that Japan is to deploy ten or more Self-Defense Forces medical officers and nurses to Afghanistan by the end of the year, according to sources in the nation’s Ministry of Defense and military. The medical personnel would be the first members of the Self-Defense Forces stationed in the Afghan war zone, the second violation of the nation’s constitutional prohibition against stationing troops in a war theater, the first being in Iraq in 2006.

According to the Japanese press, with the new mission “Japan intends to demonstrate its personnel contributions to Afghanistan through the planned dispatch when the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is expected to decide on fresh support measures in November,” at the military bloc’s summit in Portugal.

“The United States, which is engaged in fighting the Taliban, has called for its allies to provide more physical support and Tokyo has determined ‘it is necessary to meet such expectations,’” according to the sources. [3]

However, to indicate that Japan has been no stranger to NATO’s operations in Afghanistan, earlier in the month an explosive device was set off at a NATO Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) camp in the capital of Ghor province. “The majority of the personnel in the [contingent] have been deployed to multinational missions in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan previously. Representatives of Denmark, Georgia, Japan, the USA, Poland, Finland and Ukraine serve together with Lithuanian military and civilian personnel in the Ghor PRT camp in Chaghcharan.” [4]

On October 25 President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, who had earlier provided troops for the Polish-led and NATO-supported Multinational Division Central-South in Iraq, met with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Brussels, after which the Kazakh head of state announced that “Several Kazakhstani troops will serve at the headquarters of the international coalition in Afghanistan,” and the NATO chief “called Kazakhstan a ‘leading partner’ of the coalition.” [5]

Since shortly after Washington launched Operation Enduring Freedom, NATO forces have been based in other Central Asian nations: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Including the Middle East and the South Caucasus, NATO’s Asia-Pacific roster in the Afghanistan-Pakistan war theater consists of (and soon may) a growing number of nations: Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Georgia, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Tonga and the United Arab Emirates, in addition to Afghanistan (and Pakistan).

With all 28 NATO members and nine European members of the Alliance’s Partnership for Peace program already having supplied troops – and only six European states to date not having done so (Belarus, Cyprus, Malta, Moldova, Serbia and Russia) – the U.S. and NATO necessarily have to look beyond the Euro-Atlantic region for more troops. In doing so the war in Afghanistan has become an Asian war in two senses: The first prolonged war in the continent the U.S. has waged since that in Vietnam and the first Asian war in NATO’s history, and a conflict that is pulling more and more Asia-Pacific countries into its bloody grip.

As of October 28 the U.S., its NATO allies and partnership countries had lost 605 soldiers this year, compared to 521 for 2009, itself the highest annual total until now. The combined death count for 2009-2010 – 1,126 – is over half of all foreign soldiers killed since the war began on October 7, 2001, which is 2,175. Seventeen NATO soldiers were killed in three days, October 13-15, alone.

Afghan civilians have fared even worse. Last month, two months after General David Petraeus took over command of all U.S. and NATO forces from Stanley McChrystal [6], American and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan had increased to 700 from 257 in September of 2009 according to U.S. Air Force statistics. [7]

Although nominally targeting insurgents, the bombings and missile strikes have left scores of Afghan civilians dead. Recent reports include:

Early this month a NATO air strike killed at least 18 people in an attack on a residence in Helmand province.

A week later, October 11, at least 20 civilians were killed by a Western rocket attack in the same province. [8]

A U.S.-NATO air strike in Baghlan province killed at least 18 people and wounded several others on October 17, with “eyewitnesses and local sources [saying] all those killed in the attack were civilians.” [9]

On October 23 Afghan government officials accused NATO troops of firing indiscriminately at civilians in Wardak province, causing the deaths of two schoolchildren. “The attack prompted a brief demonstration by angry villagers, demanding an explanation from NATO forces over the killing.” [10] The following day it was reported that four Afghan civilians, including a child, were killed by a U.S.-NATO air strike in the same province.

Regarding the overall, cumulative effect of the Western war and occupation in Afghanistan, on October 10 – the United Nations-supported World Mental Health Day – Afghanistan’s Dr. Suraya Dalil, Deputy Minister for Policy and Planning and Acting Minister of the Ministry of Public Health, stated that “More than 60 percent of Afghans are suffering from stress disorders and mental problems,” a figure substantiated by the World Health Organization. [11]

Seventeen days afterward Saleem Kunduzi, Acting Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, told a gathering marking World Food Day that “Two years ago, five million people in Afghanistan lived in extreme poverty, but now the number has increased to nine million,” [12] almost a third of the population.

In the nine years since the U.S. and NATO invaded Afghanistan, opium cultivation has expanded by 40,000 percent and now accounts for over 90 percent of the world’s supply.

On June 9-10 of this year an international forum called Drug Production in Afghanistan: A Challenge to the International Community was held in Moscow and was addressed by among others President Dmitry Medvedev and Viktor Ivanov, Director of the Federal Drug Control Service of the Russian Federation. The second had stated earlier at a similar conference in Berlin that “Revenues derived from smuggling the ‘white death’ to Europe, Asia and America are estimated to score billions of dollars. In fact, the production and illegal trafficking of Afghan drugs should be classified as a threat to international peace and security.” [13]

The U.S. and NATO have also escalated attacks inside Pakistan. Last month witnessed the largest amount of unmanned aerial vehicle (drone) missile strikes inside the country since their inception in 2004, with at least 20 attacks – many involving the firing of several missiles – causing the deaths of at least 140 people.

NATO also launched four helicopter gunship attacks inside Pakistan in September and killed three Pakistani soldiers in the last, on the 30th.

A minimum of 14 drone strikes by the 28th of this month have killed close to 90 people.

On October 12 two NATO helicopters violated Pakistani airspace in the province of Balochistan and a week later “NATO warplanes and helicopter gunships entered up to 15 kilometers inside Pakistani airspace” in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. [14]

A South Asian news source recently wrote that “US officials may [be planning] raids into Balochistan….Indeed the attacks would be even more controversial than the previous ones, as the earlier helicopter attacks were in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), while military officials are now seeking raids into Pakistan proper, into the Balochistan province….” [15]

A full-scale incursion by U.S. and NATO troops into Pakistan appears to be only a matter of time.

The U.S. led its allies into three wars in less than four years – from March 24, 1999 to March 20, 2003 – in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Along the way the Pentagon has acquired dozens of new military bases in the Balkans, the Middle East, and Central and South Asia, including future strategic air bases in Bulgaria, Romania, Iraq and Afghanistan.

It has also recruited a permanent “coalition of the willing” to wage wars and conduct military occupations in campaigns that have moved inexorably to the east, from Southeastern Europe to the Persian Gulf to the Afghan-Chinese border.

Almost all the 48 nations contributing troops for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan also provided troops for NATO’s Kosovo Force from 1999 to the present and the Multi-National Force – Iraq from 2004-2008. The vast majority have supplied forces for all three missions. In Iraq twenty graduate and current members of NATO’s Partnership for Peace transitional program sent troops: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. All 12 countries absorbed into NATO since the war cycle began in 1999 have deployed troops to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Nine out of 15 former Soviet republics had troops in Iraq.

Non-European and non-former Soviet nations that currently have troops in or headed to Afghanistan also had troops in Iraq: Australia, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Tonga. Others that have troops in Afghanistan also assigned troops to NATO’s Kosovo Force: Malaysia, Mongolia and the United Arab Emirates.

In 2002 U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld “put forward a proposal to create a NATO rapid reaction force,” which was endorsed at the 2002 Alliance summit in the Czech Republic and launched at the 2004 summit in Turkey to conduct “Any mission, anywhere in the world.” [16]

With partners on every populated continent – Colombia has been tapped for troops to be deployed to Afghanistan and Egypt, a NATO Mediterranean Dialogue partner, has security personnel there – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has proven an effective vehicle for the U.S. to establish, train, deploy and integrate a global expeditionary military force which has been used in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, with increasing emphasis on the last.

1) BNO News, October 8, 2010
2) Indo-Asian News Service, October 1, 2010
3) Kyodo News, October 15, 2010
4) Baltic Course, October 11, 2010
5) Central Asia Online, October 27, 2010
6) Afghan War: Petraeus Expands U.S. Military Presence Throughout Eurasia
Stop NATO, July 4, 2010

West’s Afghan Debacle: Commander Dismissed As War Deaths Reach Record Level
Stop NATO, June 25, 2010

7) ABC News Radio, October 13, 2010
8) Press TV/Afghan Islamic Press, October 12, 2010
9) Press TV, October 18, 2010
10) Reuters, October 23, 2010
11) Agence France-Presse, October 10, 2010
12) Pajhwok Afghan News, October 27, 2010
13) Russian Information Agency Novosti, June 6, 2010
14) Asian News International, October 19, 2010
15) The Nation/Asian News International, October 15, 2010
16) North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 29, 2010, 01:08:26 pm
Afghan resistance statement

US war in Afghanistan unjustifiable, unwinable and intolerable

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

October 29, 2010

The US invasion of Afghanistan,extending over a period of more than 10 years, has had nothing' to offer the Afghans and the world throughout this prolonged span of time but darkness of terrors, tortures, bloodshed and massacres.

It is an indisputable fact that the US, despite its all ploys, maneuvers and dirty tricks has been unable to win the heart and minds of the Afghan masses, on the contrary, hundreds of thousands of Afghans, from every part of the country, have stunningly turned to Jihad bringing about noticeable improvements and anti-American situations in every corner of the country.

If armed and given the opportunity, such people would inflict irreparable blows on the US invading forces and its allies and attack the enemy in their homes, fields, roads and bazaars every single moment which have undoubtedly put the US and its allies in a shocking panic that, in spite of high-tech weaponry and billions of dollars at their disposal and exercising any kind of brutality and oppression, neither have been able to capture an inch of Afghan soil nor have they prevented the Afghan masses from taking vengeance and doing Jihad alongside Mujahideen.

There is much to be learned from the undeniable fact that Mujahideen’s strong spirit of faith is not merely a theoretical fact but it is practically seen that the intense chase and the strong resistance against the enemy in the northern Afghanistan are much the same as in southern Afghanistan and those provided with the opportunity by Mujahideen to do Jihad keep carrying out their mission without regional, racial and linguistic prejudice and stand shoulder to shoulder with Mujahideen supporting them and taking part in the operations against the enemy besides giving the Mujahideen shelter during the night which leads up to the conclusion that all the claims by the enemy and their puppets that the Kabul puppet regime is winning the confidence of the Afghan people day by day are proving to be merely unfounded propaganda and lies.

The Afghan nation have realized the fact that the only cause of the deviation of the new generation and destabilization of the Afghan national integrity and sovereignty is the continuation of the US invasion, whereas the withdrawal of the US invaders and their allies is the only way to save and maintain the Islamic values by forming a united Afghan nation.

On the other hand, there is a growing pessimism against the Afghan war under the US leadership and people are openly showing their dislikes and reactions to the US invasion of Afghanistan. Last week, in a debate on the current Afghan war, the Australian parliamentary members strongly opposed to the war representing the views of the majority of the voters and described the Afghan war as "unwinable and unjustifiable".

From the standpoint of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, the US forces do not only seem to have suffered defeat at the hands of Mujahideen on the ground in Afghanistan but are also faced with a defeat in the home country and the west as there are increasing criticism worldwide and the world posses anti-US views and is willing to help Afghans end the war and achieve their independence.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on October 31, 2010, 06:39:08 am
Afghan resistance : The untold reality of Kandahar Operation (Part 2)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

October 30, 2010

Zhiri district is located to the south of Kandahar-Herat main highway and has been a solid base and under the control of Islamic Emirate Mujahideen for the past 9 years. Previously the invaders only had outposts on the main highway but due to the recent operations have expanded those to Pashmool and Sanzari areas. For recent information on the situation in the district, Alemarah interviewed the Military commander for this district, Mullah Ateequllah Agha.

Alemarah: Can you please give us information about the recent enemy operation and on the situation in the district?

Mullah Ateequllah Agha: As you might already know that Zhiri is known as the most hostile district for the enemy for the past 9 years and especially Sang-e-Sar and Pashmool areas where the enemy has not been able to take over and has proved very deadly for its forces. The southern parts of the districts have been completely under our control which the enemy has never even attempted to enter.

The enemy was real frustrated due to the constant attacks by Mujahideen on the main highway which immensely disrupted the movement of their military and logistical convoys and therefore started the huge push towards Sang-e-Sar, Pashmool and Sanzari areas by bringing hundreds of tanks, foot soldiers bombing the areas by Jets, cruise missiles etc. Due to their cruel and barbaric blind bombings, the residents of Pashmool and Sanzari have fled during a time when they were supposed to collect their harvests. Mujahideen countered their strategy by adopting guerilla warfare from which the enemy has suffered more damage than at any other time. You might have heard through the media of the tanks being blown up every day in Pashmool and Sanzari areas and the retaliatory ambushes and attacks against their foot patrols. Similarly the invaders arrested civilians after forcing their way into their homes at night.

So due to our resistance, the enemy has not gained any ground in some parts and in others where they have gains some ground, it has come after much suffering and deadly losses. Overall the enemy’s force is winded up, they have only added 2 outposts each in Pashmool and Sanzari areas and the Mujahideen numbers which were decreased for the initial enemy push have returned back to their normal levels.

Alemarah: How much new ground has the enemy gained from this operation?

Mullah Ateequllah Agha: The enemy has not gained an inch of territory in Sang-e-Sar, which is only 100 meters away from the main highway. They have gained some ground in Sanzari but after intense bombing and making headway by demolishing people’s homes, fields and other property. They also made ground towards the south of Pashmool up to Rod area but in all areas the advance has been short term because they have all returned to the 4 new outposts made in civilians homes and all their military equipment has also been vacated from the rest of the regions.

Alemarah: It is said that the enemy has severely bombed the areas bringing huge destruction to the civilians?

Mullah Ateequllah Agha: Like in the rest of Kandahar province, Zhiri has also experienced enormous destruction to civilian property from the barbaric enemy. Although the exact facts and figures have not been compiled but I will summarize some of the damage done that we have witnessed in a few points.

1.       Nearly 80% of civilians have become homeless due to the ruthless bombings from cruise missiles, canon rounds and other types of bombs dropped in all of Zhiri from Kandahar airfield. The civilians have also suffered deaths and nearly all of the people’s homes and other property have been completely destroyed.

2.       Hundreds of homes have been utterly demolished in the area between the main highway and Wyala of Sang-e-Sar as the enemy claims that their convoys and bases are always attacked from this area.

3.       The barbaric enemy has filled streams with dirt, demolished homes and blown apart all the greenery in Pashmool, Sanzari, Syachowi and also the other areas to make new roads due to the other roads being completely mined.

4.       In all these areas, the enemy has destroyed homes with all its belongings inside. The homes were either already abandoned and if they weren’t, they would force its owners to leave by bulldozing the property’s walls.

5.       The enemy has dropped types of bombs which have created massive craters and which have also burnt people’s fields and plants so to make an alternative way to enter due to fear of mines being placed on the main roads.

6.       In this process, the enemy has Martyred, wounded and imprisoned countless civilians but we don’t have their exact figures.

Alemarah: The enemy claims to have caused Mujahideen many casualties, killed their leaders and also broken their hold on the district?

Mullah Ateequllah Agha: So far 10 Mujahideen have been Martyred which includes a group’s leader and he was not Martyred in Zhiri but rather in Reag district by a night raid. In contrast, the enemy has suffered immense casualties as you might also have heard from the media.

Alemarah: How do you see the result of the current situation and the operations result?

Mullah Ateequllah Agha: The current situation does not differ a lot from the situation before the operation began. Our groups in Pashmool and Sanzari have become active like before and like before, the enemy is always attacked as they come out of their newly built outposts in these areas and also the ones built on the main highway. The only result coming out of the operation is the death and destruction caused to the civilians which deplorably, the foreign and domestic media have been silent about.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 05, 2010, 06:34:54 am
Afghan resistance : The untold reality of Kandahar Operation (Part 3)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

November 4, 2010

Arghandab district is located to the north of Kandahar city which has also taken center stage in the enemy operation and the enemy has also made bold claims of routing Mujahideen from the area in their recent propaganda reports. These reports have surfaced at a time when they enemy has neither made any considerable progress and neither has the situation of the district seen any change. To shed light on what has taken place in the district and its recent situation, Alemarah interviewed one of the district leaders, Mullah Muhammad Yasir.


Alemarah: Could you please shed light on Arghandab district’s current situation?

Mullah Muhammad Yasir: As you might already know that Arghandab is situated very close to Kandahar city and in the past few years Mujahideen extended their presence and took control of more areas in the district from which the enemy feared a great danger and therefore it also included this specific district in their push for the control of Kandahar but their assaults have been few, sporadic and very ineffective.

They started their campaign from North-eastern area, where they had already established a huge base, into Khasro and Tarako Kala and similarly in Char Kot and Char Gholbi through Baba Sahib area but their operation did not yield any result in weakening Mujahideen or taking control of any of their strategically important areas but rather the only thing they did achieved was that of harming and causing damage to the lives and properties of civilians however they did build 2 new bases in close proximity to their old ones. The operation in Arghandab was not like that of the other districts as it was carried out for only a couple of days and the situation right now is no different than it was before the operation took place.


Alemarah: What do you say about the claims of the enemy of completely taking control of Arghandab?

Mullah Muhammad Yasir: Like all their other baseless claims this is also false. As a matter of fact, we invite journalists to come and check out the district for themselves, so they can see who controls majority of the district. The enemy only controls Baba Sahib, Nagahan and Manara which were also previously under their control but Mujahideen have been carrying out guerilla attacks in it on a regular bases. As for Char Gholba, Tabinan, Khasro, Shahtori, Shinan and the rest of areas, they are fully under our control. The enemy only has outposts on the road which comes from Uruzgan then leads to Herat and similarly the road which leads towards the north from Baba Sahib area. All the rural areas are under our control like how they were under our control before and we have a very powerful presence in those areas.

Alemarah: Can you give us information about what took place in the operation?

Mullah Muhammad Yasir: The enemy started a campaign of heavy bombardment using cruise missiles and other means at night in Khasro’s Tarko Kala village and other places for 3 days. The bombing campaign was continued because their tanks and foot soldiers were hit by IED explosions in every meter of entering from the North and South of the district.

The civilians lost most of their property due to the enemy’s bombings and cruise missiles. More than 20 houses were destroyed in Tarko Kala village alone. Arghandab is also covered with pomegranate trees and since this was the time of harvest, the civilians also faced a huge economic burden as their fields and trees were completely destroyed. The reason why civilians were not killed is because they had either already fled their homes or were forced by the repeated enemy warnings to vacate the district.

The enemy arrested more than 70 civilians by the name of Mujahideen when in fact they would only come from the city and surrounding areas to collect some of the pomegranates so they can feed their families by selling these fruits. Similarly more civilians were also arrested in the other areas but they were later released. Only 2 of our Mujahideen brothers have been Martyred in these operations but the enemy has suffered major losses due to the deadly IED explosions.

Alemarah: The enemy plans to make militias in the district. Do you see that happening?

Mullah Muhammad Yasir: These are just rumors spread by their propaganda machines. Nearly all the people of Arghandab are Mujahideen and are even helping us right now. The enemy cannot even leave their bases and they have been trying to implement such strategies in the last few years but without any effective outcome. The people of Arghandab hate the enemy and have therefore embraced us with open arms. There is no possibility that the enemy can take control of Arghandab by implementing such useless strategies.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 08, 2010, 12:27:58 pm
Afghan resistance statement

The occupying forces are the main factor behind the recent assault and all other adversities.

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Sunday, November 7. 2010

Media outlets, both at home and abroad, admitted that at the end of last week, on Thursday in the suburbs of Eastern province of Ningarhar, the Russian and American forces raided some heroin-producing factories, destroying some of them, according to their report.

It is not quite clear till now whether they really targeted the narcotics centers or carried out the attacks for some other common imperialistic objectives. The facts behind the foray into the centers, will come to the open later, but one thing is quite clear that for the last decade, the Americans have not only given themselves the right to commit every crime and cruelty but also provided opportunity to other countries to exploit the Afghan soil and resources for their military, political, economic and cultural interests and quests.

The Americans have allowed member states of their unholy alliance to pound Afghan villages and hamlets to evaluate their weapons; to test their bullets and rockets in order to know their range of destruction.

If some of the countries had the ambition to target the Afghan civilian by their tanks and helicopters; just for the sake of sport; they did repeatedly commit this brutal crime.

Countries that were fond of looting and plundering the mineral and other vital resources of Afghanistan, the Americans provided them the opportunity to build military bases and barracks over there.

Countries desiring to appoint their Afghan agents in the higher ranks of Kabul administration i.e. the so called parliament, the peace council etc; they did this with great impudence.

Countries longing for preaching Christianity and propagating obscenity and irreligiousness have carried it out openly.

Countries trying to import their culture and civilization to Afghanistan, these enemies of our Islamic and national culture have succeeded to a great extent.

It seems that now it is the Russians’ turn. To safeguard their regional and global interests from the claws of the Russians, the Americans opened the Afghan airspace for them and provided them the chance to participate preliminarily in the assault against narcotics.

The Russians should not have taken the audacity to violate the Afghan sanctuary; because in the eighties, when the former Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan and fought with their full strength and brutality for a decade, the result was quite clear, i.e. the collapse and disintegration of the former Soviet Union. It should have been an exemplary lesson for the present Russia.

Some analysts are of the opinion that the intention behind the recent co-operation is that Russians want the Americans not to evacuate earlier so that the American imperialism is also engraved in Afghanistan just like the former Soviet Union met the fate.

Whatever the objectives might be, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan strongly condemns the recent operation carried out by the Russians in the Achin district of Ningarhar province, and calls upon the Afghans to react strongly and focus on avenging themselves on Americans and their mercenaries for the recent operations.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 08, 2010, 12:39:29 pm
Open Letter of Qari Mohammad Yousaf Ahmadi,
Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,
to Members of the American Congress

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

November 7, 2010

Zul Qadah 29, 1431 A.H, Sunday, November 07, 2010

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Open Letter of Qari Mohammad Yousuf Ahmadi, Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, to Members of the American Congress

To Members of the American Congress:

Availing myself of this opportunity, I am pleased to share with you my views about certain issues that have become a cause of concern and resentments for many peace-loving people, not only in America, Afghanistan but for all people at the region and the world. They now openly say that the status quo is unbearable and that drastic measures must be taken to change it.

Messrs American Congressmen!

You certainly know that on June 7, the current year, the war of Afghanistan, surpassed that of Vietnam in terms of longevity--thus becoming the longest war in the history of America. Ironically, this war began on the basis of an event which in itself is a mystery to many people. But your government is bent on continuing the war further more on the same basis. However, we have made it clear from the day one that we have no role in this event, nor participation in operations on foreign soil is part of our policy.

It is also worth mentioning that, no neutral entity which is acceptable to all sides, has ever carried out investigation into the September Event. In short, the war started as you resorted to the usage of most sophisticated, lethal and latest weapons available at your arsenal. To confront this, our people had to put up resistance to your offensive out of sheer feeling of patriotism to defend the country and the religious sanctity. From the beginning of the war, your army, your coalition allies, the regional sycophants and proxies turned a blind eye to all universal norms and principles of the war, seeing that the Afghans were miserable and friendless.

Hence, a new trend set in where murdering, capturing, harassing and insulting the Afghans became not only legal but a commendable work. Entire villages of Afghanistan were razed to ground as a result of your heavy bombardment, ostensibly under the name of mopping-up havens of so-called terrorists. Not only that. Orchards were burnt down to ashes; mass murders were committed in northern and central Afghanistan, not once but recurrently. Houses of local people were destroyed, women raped and green field scorched by using daisy-cutter bombs. People were put under detention in the notorious Jouzajan, Guantanamo, Bagram and Kandahar prisons for many years on mere suspicions. All these were done under the name of war on terror!

Throughout the past nine years, the Afghans have been festering in the vortex of an imposed war. They have remained deprived of the delight and solace of a normal life. The apparition of mass murder, imprisonment, night house raids and plundering which has become the order of the day, constantly haunts them. Every morning, as the Afghan wake up from the bed, they do not know whether he or she will see the next sunset, thinking that they might fall prey to your blind bombardment or straying bullets. Some times, media reports highlight these events. But the real and gruesome picture of these horrendous events remains stored in the chests of our people. In face of all these adversities, our people remained firm as they were in the right. Ultimately, casualties of your troops and your material losses began to spiral up as the war hauled along with the passage of time. This naturally sparked off hot discussions among common Americans about the worthiness of this unjustified war. The worry and concern of people presumably found way to the echelons of the representatives of the people in your country and now it has become one of the most critical issues pending before you.

As we monitor the developments, we see that, after every few days, a military official submits you distorted information about Afghanistan. They want to keep you snarled up in an environ of a misleading optimism and are trying to give vent to their own grudges. By doing so, they want to show themselves victorious, to obtain financial gains and add fuel to the fire of the war.

Your defense Secretary, Robert Gates, whenever he takes the floor at the podium, he speaks of military advancement in Afghanistan. General Petreous says, the initiative of the war is in our hands. But in fact, in the last two years, your military high-ups implemented different strategies including troop’s surge, construction of new military bases, forming militias, boosting the Kabul mercenary army etc. However, all these steps have been taken without considering the ground realities. It is why they all failed. The resistance of our people easily thwarted all efforts of your military brasses. Last year, on the basis of Obama’s new strategy, the south of our country saw rise in troop’s deployment, but, on the contrary, we opened new fronts in the north and east of the country and beefed up our operations there.

You launched operations for the capture of rural areas, we infiltrated into different cities including the cities of Kandahar and Kabul, expanding our operations there. You intended to reverse the resistance but we extended the jihad to become a country-wide resistance. Now your troops are not able to take a breath of relief in any part of Afghanistan. Last, you launched military operations dubbed as Dagger’s Strike in Helmand province, considering it as your experimental initiative to test your fortune. But it only brought in casualties and failures.

Resistance has increased comparatively in areas wherever you have carried out operations. Your troops have the highest life losses in these areas. In the east of the country, the successful operations of Mujahideen forced General Crystal to waive the rural areas protection strategy by announcing a new strategy of concentration of forces at most populated urban areas. Then you launched the Marja operations with great fanfare but only turned out to entangle you in a deadly and crippling battles. Every day, brings new fatality to your ranks and files. Similarly, in this current year, your generals wanted to launch Kandahar operations but Mujahideen took initiative in their hands as they always do so. They launched tip-and run attacks there instead and have been forging ahead with the tactic successfully.

The formation of militias as a part of civilian support program and the boosting of the Kabul administration’s army was your most prominent plan, propagated with most fanfare, prior to launching it. But this plan also went awry. Soldiers in the army and in military uniform targeted you with their own weapons. Still, instead of pondering over their mistakes, your military officers are bent on continuing the war. They irresponsibly give you distorted information about a losing war, trying to conceal from you, their failures.

Your generals and intelligence high-ups claim that the current resistance in Afghanistan is the result of interference by neighboring countries. However, by doing so, they want to justify the prolongation of the war. Sometimes, they ascribe the resistance to foreign elements and are trying to show the current armed Jihad by the Afghans as being a war waged only by Taliban or they intentionally portray it as an insurgence being put up by a given tribe and ethnicity of Afghanistan-- whereas, in fact, the current armed Jihad is a country-wide resistance against you . Men and women, old and young from every tribe, ethnicity, caste and area have arisen to oppose you. Thus by your intending to wipe out the resistance, you have chosen the way of committing genocide of the whole nation.

Think, can a few militants stand up to armed forces of 40 countries including the strongest countries of the world—still more in circumstances that the initiatives of the war is in the hands of the invaders, as your generals claim? Can a clandestine and weak intervention (by foreigners) be able to confront these troops? Can only Taliban i.e. students, confront these large number of forces? Can a certain race in a multi-ethnicity nation of Afghanistan, be able to resist such a strong and well-equipped military coalition? If the intervention had been a decisive factor for the maintenance of stability, then the Karzai would have been able to achieve that goal by now?

If you claim that the current resistance is being put up by non-Afghan elements, then your government and the coalition should produce concrete evidence for all to see. Following your occupation of Afghanistan and the inception of armed Jihad against you, you have undoubtedly detained not only tens of people, or hundreds of them, or thousands of them, but tens of thousands of them, would your military generals produce only one hundred non-Afghans from among those thousands of detainees to prove their case? If they did so, we would accept your claim that non-Afghan Mujahideen had been fighting against you all these years? Otherwise, the claim is a mere assumption.

If you are not willing to act on our suggestion, then how about another experiment? Send a team to Afghanistan on fact-finding mission. But members of the team should have freedom of movement, and should be allowed to remain far from the clutches of your intelligence agencies. Then they should see for themselves whether the military generals give them permission to go out of military barracks and hotels or they try to keep them in barracks and hotels as distinguished detainees? Presume, if they permit you to go out to find the ground realities, would you be able to travel to other areas beyond the vicinity of the few limited streets of Kabul? Even if you venture out of Kabul, do you believe, you will come back safe? The fact of the matter is that you will hardly find any area in all Afghanistan beyond proximity of two kilometers of the military bases where you can walk freely and openly.

On the other hand, when Mujahideen captured your soldier Bergh dal, they traveled with him 500 km on foot. Berg dal himself says that no government soldier ever stopped him on the way during that long journey. But still if you are not willing to put to experiment our proposal, then you should listen to my words , however, they may be bitter but are the ground realities. By feeling the burden of the issue, as responsible persons, you should not plunge your nation into perdition furthermore.

Moreover, the fear that Afghanistan may turn out to be a threat to the world peace must be put out of your minds as it is a mere baseless propaganda and a lie fabricated by your rulers to justify and continue their illegal, unjustified and irrational war, the so-called war on terror.

You had better know the ground reality that the war of Afghanistan is a losing war, being fought by the indigenous people, not just by a given faction, a tribe but by an entire nation which has over 5,000 years old history; a nation that considers both victory and martyrdom in the war against your forces as a cherished wish of success not only in this world but in the world to come as well.

Your modern and advanced military warfare and arms with state-of the-art technology have failed against Mujahideen. Your tanks, the military hardware and your soldiers that you have been spending billion of dollars on them to keep, are simply and inexpensively wiped out by ordinary Afghans. For example, 69 year-old Saleh Jan Aka along with his 18 year-old son, destroyed 32 tanks of the coalitions and 9 ranger vehicles in Helmand, by spending just $2500 —the only amount paid to him for the purpose.

Sale Jan Aka who has never been trained in any military academy, neither he left his farming work nor his village to do this. Besides, he has never asked for any reward as quid pro que. Meantime,. All the items which he used to blow up the US and its allies tanks and vehicles has been bought from Lashkar Gah, while the seller not knowing what he bought them for?

According to him, his house has been searched four times so far by the US and its allies but nothing was found to prove that he was involved in such activities. He says, once after destroying the coalition forces tanks by using IED's, he gave some cold water to the wounded soldiers to brush away their suspicions and to cause their injuries to get worse.

It is worth to consider whether your forces in Afghanistan with all the advanced hardware and modern military equipments that they have and your various operations such as Expectation, Mountain, Dagger, Dragon which cost you billion of dollars and the media war by you, will ever be able to prevent people like Saleh Jan Aka and many thousands others from carrying out their mission or even slow down the tempo of their mission? Not at all.

Is it that, that your force have come all the way to Afghanistan, expecting the Afghan people stand for them in ovation and keep watching while your forces will do what they wish to do? Or just the Afghans be sitting hand on hand while your forces will be busy building military bases, barracks, airbases and so forth? Or are you under the illusion that the Afghan nation would ever tolerate the presence of your forces and military interference in their country? You will only come around to know it when the Afghans rise to show their response.

Come and think, a moment for the sake of pondering. Suppose, a foreign force invades your country and tries to build military bases there, would you and your nation tolerate all these? or would you be convinced that the invasion was a fair and just act and the forces in your country were there for security purposes?

Anyway, on the basis of the principle of your universal slogan( democracy), the decision by parliament is considered final because it is the parliament that approves fund for each and every mission. So all relevant affairs and events are referred to the parliament for decision.

I would like to bring one last point to your notice, what was your goal to come to Afghanistan? what have you achieved so far (through the war) and what will possibly you achieve in future? Will you be able to obtain your long-term goals in the region only through the war in Afghanistan?

You are representatives of people and are an authorized entity to take decision about the Afghan issue, therefore, I presented you with a true picture of the ground realities of Afghanistan-- say, another side of the coin, more different from the one which is submitted to you by your generals, time and again.

Qari Mohammad Yousuf Ahmadi

Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 12, 2010, 04:46:51 am
An indepth interview with Haji Ahmad Saeed,
head of resistance operations in Kandahar city

Alemarah (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan)

November 11, 2010

The recent operations in the province of Kandahar, by the enemy I.S.A.F forces are viewed by the western-orientated media, as the last military push against the Mujahideen. The majority of them are of the opinion that should these operations fail as well; the Americans would have no other option but to leave Afghanistan.

The enemy admits, that the essential objective of this operation is to prevent the collapse of Kandahar city (which is Afghanistan’s second largest city) to the Mujahideen forces. To achieve this, the enemy, besides conducting operations in the districts surrounding Kandahar city, has now also started military operations in the city centre as well. To find out exactly what impact these operations have had on the Mujahideen forces, we talked to Haji Ahmad Saeed, who is in charge of Mujahideen military operations in Kandahar city. This detailed interview is presented below.

Alemarah: First of all, please give us some general information of the recent operations of the invading forces: what are some of the activities the invaders have undertaken?

Haji Ahmad Saeed: All Praise is to Allah, Kandahar city, which has in the past many years, bore witness to some of the Mujahideen’s greatest operations and bravery, has seen sustained attacks by Mujahideen warriors. These attacks have caused our internal and external enemies’ to panic, to the point of admitting that could very well fall to the banner of Islamic Emirate’s soldiers. Since then, the enemy has completely revised its strategy, focussing almost exclusively on Kandahar city and its surrounding regions. In line with this strategy, the enemy has increased its presence in the region considerably. This increase has been witnessed in the city centre as well, where the enemy has increased its infantry and motorised battalions. They have also carried out large scale raids against civilian population by surrounding entire districts, then carrying out house to house searches for weapons and Mujahideen. They have also started operations in regions that are under Mujahideen control. They have infested the city centre with numerous foreign and army outposts, besides the normal police stations. They have set up more and more check points on the roads and increased their intelligence gathering spy-rings. All this has given Kandahar city the appearance of a city under siege.

The enemy has caused all this commotion and carried out these measures to stop our activities in the region but Alhamdulillah and again Alhamdulillah, as our recent operations in the heart of the city have shown, the enemy has utterly failed in this objective. Even the westerners’ own governmental and non-governmental agencies confirm our success by stating that Mujahideen activities in Kandahar, instead of decreasing, have increased by over twenty-four percent.

Alemarah: The enemy invaders claim that they have set up a belt our Kandahar city to choke the movements of Mujahideen into and out of the city. What information do you have regarding this?

Haji Ahmad Saeed: It is true that the enemy has set up various check points on the roads leading into the city and on the main highways and constructed some ten large army stations. One of these army posts is on the Panjwaee road near Kobai; another is one the way from Khanjakak towards Soop; another is on the Heart road near Seelo; another is on the Arghandab road near Mir Ahmad Khan’s Kalachi; one near Kotal, one on Shah Wali Kote road, on Kabul road near Ainoominy; on the Boldak road from Shurandam towards the city. They have also set up two new army posts on the roads leading from Mahlajat. All these outposts have some of the most high-tech detection and identification tools available to the west. Yet despite this they have never captured any of our Mujahideen, nor detected any explosive-laden vehicle. Everyday our explosive filled vehicles pass over these army checkpoints and army posts without being detected or captured. This is all by the Grace of Allah who has favoured us in all opportunities. The enemy’s so called 'belt’ has achieved no other purpose besides harassing the local populace. As you can see, our attacks on the city have increased rather than decrease. Therefore this belt is no impediment to the Mujahideen operations and its purpose has been inflated far beyond its capabilities.

Alemarah: How are Mujahideen’s operations inside Kandahar city?

Haji Ahmad Saeed: In the city, as of old, as soon as darkness spreads the stooge governments rule comes to an end, our battalions start their patrols and our operations begin. At night, we set up our ambushes on all the major roads, sealing the enemy inside their outposts. Due to our ambushes, now the enemy has accepted that they cannot provide support to their other outposts if and when they get attacked. Similarly, the Mujahideen always watch their activities during day time. Everyday enemy spies and soldiers are shot dead by our snipers. Several days ago, on the Kandahar bypass road, Mujahideen conducted searches of cargo trucks finding and subsequently burning those trucks carrying supplies to enemy soldiers. All this proves that the Mujahideen have the capabilities and willingness, to conduct operations in the city according to their own initiative, while the enemy has lost all morale and determination to fight.

Alemarah: It is said that since this new operation was launched, many innocent residents have gone missing, some of whom have subsequently been found and have reported to have been kidnapped by American and puppet government officers. What information do you have regarding this?

Haji Ahmad Saeed: It is true that the enemy has arrested many innocent people, the majority of whom are still suffering in prisons. These people have been arrested by government intelligence services as well as by various local militias. Many of them have been arrested due to personal or tribal rivalries. These incidents require a thorough investigation because many of these innocent arrestee’s have often been tortured to death without any legal process. These are all innocent Afghan civilians whose death should be investigated by all Afghan and global societies.

Alemarah: Enemy has been announcing recently that they have captured a large cache of weapons, explosives and mines from the Mujahideen. What is your information regarding this?

Haji Ahmad Saeed: This is yet another of the enemy’s baseless claims. We have not yet faced a situation where the Mujahideen’s weapons or mines have been captured due to the enemy’s intelligence gathering. However, it has sometimes happened that some of our mines have failed to explode due to some technical or electronic failure. These have subsequently fallen into enemy hands further inflating their egos.

Alemarah: The issue of civilian casualties is hotly debated in Kandahar. The enemy propaganda claims that civilians are often killed in Mujahideen operations. What do you have to say about this?

Haji Ahmad Saeed: I, as the head of Kandahar operations, feel very sensitive to this issue, first in front of Allah and then in front of our Afghan people. If we did not fear for causing harm to our own people then our operations in Kandahar would be ten times more than they are today. We have always tried our best to completely end any civilians casualties on our part. We often have had to cancel our operations when we fear the possibility of civilian casualties. On the other hand, the enemy always seeks to stay and move in our population centres so that if Mujahideen attack them, any resulting civilian damage would be blamed on the Mujahideen. As much as we want to attack the enemy, we know that they want to use our people as human shields for their protection and therefore we abstain from confronting them in these areas.

Alemarah: Partly as a result of the recent operations and partly due to the targeted killings of government workers, some people in Kandahar are beginning to think that these shootings and bombings are random and indiscriminate. For this reason these people are very fearful of the present situation. What is your message to these people?

Haji Ahmad Saeed: I want to tell these people that if they are not government workers then they should be completely calm and relaxed. The operation in Kandahar are not random and spirit of the moment operations, instead each step is thoroughly planed and meticulously executed. The Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate first conduct thorough background research into their targets and when their relationship with the puppet government and their foreign paymasters is fully confirmed, do they proceed to punish these collaborators. Only once during my term has one of our Mujahids mistaken an innocent person (who fully resembled the intended target and was present in the same neighbourhood) for an intended target and killed him. On that occasion we contacted the family of the deceased and resolved the matter under the law of Shariah. Other than that no innocent person has been killed in these targeted assassinations. I want to console my fellow countrymen that the valiant Mujahideen would never steep to randomly killing their own countrymen. It is quite possible that the puppet government and the foreign invaders have put some moles in the city that terrify the populace by defaming the name of the pious Mujahideen. We have provided a contact number to the people of Kandahar to seek our help if ever confronted by these stooge government bandits.

Alemarah: How would you describe the Kandahar government?

Haji Ahmad Saeed: The government in Kandahar is barely capable of defending itself. We can see that the Kandahar government has no staff or functioning bureaucracy. Its only functioning organs are the police stations, which are run by the American invaders. On the other hand, the Mujahideen have set up various different committees which are always busy resolving the daily disputes of the local people in Kandahar.

Alemarah: To end, if you would like to say something or send a message, feel free.

Haji Ahmad Saeed: I, as a Mujahid and Muslim Afghan, would like to outline three issues which, if acted upon, will Inshallah bring success in this world and the one to follow.

My first message is to the puppet government workers. I say to them as a Muslim Afghan to leave this government. The government they work for is neither lawful nor Shar’ee (which applies the rule of Allah) but is a slave institution set up by the Americans to further their imperial goals. It does not befit a Muslim to work for the infidels in such an institution. They should hasten to leave this institution, and the Mujahideen will uphold all their rights.

My second message is to the various different contractors responsible for working for the Americans in exchange for money. I tell them that even if your collaboration with the foreigners brings you wealth; it also increases the misery of Afghanistan under foreign occupation. For this reason you must give up on earning such unlawful wealth and give up your collaboration with the American invaders.

My third message is to the various militias around Kandahar that are set up and run by the American invaders. Most of the commanders and soldiers in these militias are those same bandits that infested Kandahar before the inception of the Islamic Emirate. These bandits were once disarmed after the invasion but have once more been re-armed to serve as the shovels of Americans. I ask these men to consult their consciousness. How the Americans used them at the start of the invasion and then denounced them as bandits and miscreants. Now that they are again knee-deep in the mud, they invoke you to do their dirty deeds. Is it not enough for you to learn from your previous mistakes. You should not involve yourself once again in this dangerous war.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 12, 2010, 12:31:31 pm
Afghan resistance  "What do the Americans want to achieve in Afghanistan?"

by Hunzala Mujahid, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

November 11, 2010

In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent

In October 2001, when the invading American aerial attacks on Afghanistan began, they had predicted an easy victory by dent of their technological ascendancy and thought that the subsequent armed clashes at the battlefields would be as easy as the initial aerial onslaughts.

Being under the delusion of their own propaganda, the Americans believed that they had advantage over the Russians, English, Mongols, Macedonians and Persians who had already faced route in this ancient land. The Afghan nation’s habitual prudence in testing the strengths and capabilities of their new enemies before embarking on a full scale struggle was mistaken for being signs of weakness of the Afghans. This emboldened the enemy to take on the Afghans on their own land and focused on building grand military bases in the country. Not since the days of Akbar of the Moghul’s India, had anyone been so foolish to bring their armies to the precipitous heights of our heartlands. However, the inevitable defeat and tremendous losses quickly taught the American generals how futile their venture was. So they abandoned the rural area operations strategy and embarked on another strategy--concentrating on the main population areas. They gave priority to taking control of the southern provinces of Afghanistan. But all praises be to the Almighty Allah, the Mujahideen have foiled their plan.

The brutal I.S.A.F’s failure to hold Marjah and their inability to gain any significant ground in Kandahar or Helmand illustrates utter defeat of the invaders’ strategy. Seeing that they can’t succeed militarily, the enemy has resorted to a new stratagem instead: sowing dissension in the ranks of the Mujahideen by spreading rumors of talks and negotiations between the Afghan puppet government and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. By such deception, they hope to create a split within the Mujahideen or alternatively draw away some of the Mujahid combatants from the armed struggle, or at least to demoralize Mujahideen. A thousand thanks to Allah, this ploy of the enemy also went awry. Rather than benefiting the enemy, it exposed how weak the enemy was. In light of the U.S. military’s failures to achieve any tangible results in Afghanistan, naturally, the U.S. public is asking why they went into Afghanistan in the first place and what do they want to achieve?

After the 9/11 attacks in the U.S., Washington reacted like a mad dog, threatening every government on earth on the basis of the evidence that only existed in the figments of their imagination. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, which wanted to put an end to the chaotic situation created by warlords, was attacked in the most barbaric manner and forced to defend its country and people. The U.S. government never bothered to identify the underlying causes of the 9/11 attacks on its territory nor sought to formulate a rational response to it. Instead it emptied its resources, and now seeks to somehow extricate itself from the quagmire it got itself into. To date, America has never clarified its goals that are hidden behind attacking Afghanistan except the so-called apparent slogan of war on terror which is a well-known prefabricated pretext. According to a survey conducted among US soldiers in Afghanistan, majority of them do not know what they fight for in Afghanistan and why they are stationed there. It is also not clear, that the American military presence in Afghanistan will ever serve the cause of peace and stability in the region and the world.

It is worth mentioning that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has never carried out any attack against the U.S. nor any other county. For the Afghans, Afghanistan is their land where they live. The people of Afghanistan simply wish to live peacefully according to our Islamic principles and have no higher aspiration than to live and die in defense of our land and our religion. We will continue to defend our honor and land, until any and all foreign forces leave Afghanistan. As for America, it clearly needs to re-evaluate its objectives in Afghanistan because its presence in Afghanistan serves no valuable purpose for its security and every extra day it stays in Afghanistan, paves the way for its financial melt-down and decline in political stature. America would be far better off if it withdraws its forces from Afghanistan, and instead, engage with people of countries like Afghanistan, on a mutually beneficial and constructive way.


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 16, 2010, 05:13:18 am
Message of Mullah Omar on the occasion of Eid-ul-Odha

Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Mullah Mohammed Omar

November 15, 2010

Message of Felicitation of the Esteemed Amir-ul-Momineen on the Occasion of Eid-ul-Odha

Praise be to Allah. We praise Him and seek His help, forgiveness and guidance.

We seek His refuge from the whims of our inner-self and from our transgressions. Whoever Allah guides, no one can deviate( him/her); who ever goes astray, can find no one as a friend and guide (except Allah to guide him). We testify that there is no god but Allah. Alone is He and no partner He has. We also testify that Mohammad (peace be upon him) is His servant and messenger. Having said that, I would like to further say:

To the suffering Mujahid people of Afghanistan; to all believing ethnicities in all parts of the world; to all nearly and remotely- situated Muslims and to the Muslim Ummah: Peace, Mercy and Blessing of Allah be upon you all. My heart-felt felicitation to you on this great day of joy, selflessness and sacrifice. May Allah (swt) accept in His Sight the worship and offerings of all Muslims. Similarly, may Allah (swt) accept the pilgrimage of the pilgrims who are now visiting the Kabba Sharifa and the struggles and toils of the Mujahideen of the way of truth and of their supporters. May Allah (swt) bestow blessing, salvation and victory on the Ummah as a result of the endeavors of the Mujahideen.Ameen

Meanwhile, I would like to share with you some viewpoints concerning the current situation of the country and the world.

Regarding the Internal Developments of the Country:

The moments of defeat of the invaders have approached now due to the special victory and the sincere sacrifices of the Mujahideen. The enemy has been defeated at the battle field. Now they rely on media hypes and portray themselves as if making advancement but the ground realities are what you and we are witnessing. The enemy is retreating and facing siege in all parts of the country day in and day out. Their life casualties are spiraling up. It is because of this pressure that the enemy has resorted to spreading the misleading rumors of peace talks. Thus, they want to reduce the military pressure which is being exerted on them. But it was the enemy in the first place, who invaded our country, imposing the war on us, so the sole way for our salvation is the armed jihad in the way of Allah (swt). Our Mujahid people will never feel exhausted in the sacred path of Jihad, because it is a divine obligation and a great worship. Fatigue can have no way into it. It is a matter of pride that the Mujahideen and the people, like brothers, lay down their lives in the defense of their religion, honor and independence of their country. They do not give chance to the enemy to create split among them through propaganda and other covert machinations. The enemy wants to protect itself from the attacks of Mujahideen by creating local militia units and utilize them as a shield; we have paid special attention to this task and obtained spectacular achievements. Similarly, some internal and external enemies are now speaking of disintegration of the beloved country. They should know that the patriotic countrymen and the Islamic Emirate will never allow any one to put into practice their wicked plan.

Regarding the Puppet Kabul Regime:

The situation of the Afghan people and the beloved country is going from bad to worse during this reign of the surrogate Karzai regime. Hardships, starvations, poverty, homelessness, civilian casualties, various diseases, aberrations of the youth and cultural and social deviation in the name of democracy are touching its climax. A few hoarders in the high government slots have control over all items including the daily consumption items. This is being carried out under the title of the open market system. They are determiner of the prices. We witness this hard fact, that many miserable families of the country have been forced to resort to beggary. Corruption is at its epic. This is not what we say but the founders and masters of this regime admit that their puppet regime ranks 2nd at the index of the most corrupt regimes of the world. This is because the rulers of the regime have been installed by others and they are not interested in the future and prosperity of the country. They are only hankering after filling their pockets with money and fleecing the masses. Many of them have foreign nationality and do not consider Afghanistan as their own country.

The Americans are intending to keep in the country, a regime installed under the leadership of some westernized elements-- a regime which is extremely bereft of any resolve and determination; a surrogate only relying on foreign aid. Thus the invaders want to prolong their presence in the region and extend their occupation. Every Afghan in this corrupt regime has obligation to desist from supporting the invaders because of the current ordeals and tribulations that the Afghan Muslim people are passing through. They should not help their enemies of faith to destroy their home. There is no moral and religious justification to work in a regime, being puppet and traitor to its people. If they are not able to join the ranks of Jihad, at least, they can desist from cooperating with them. Thus they would perform their patriotic and ideological obligation. They should take care, less they may not stand shameful before their people and history and Allah (swt) on the Day of Resurrection.

The number of those who have left the ranks of the enemy has increased following our previous call to do so. This is a commendable phenomenon. We have instructed all Mujadeen to favor them with special incentives and acclamations.

Regarding the Rumors of Peace Talks by the Americans:

The Islamic Emirate still holds its previous stand regarding the current issue of the country. Islamic Emirate believes that the solution of the issue lies in withdrawal of the foreign invading troops and establishment of a true Islamic and independent system in the country. The cunning enemy which has occupied our country, is trying, on the one hand, to expand its military operations on the basis of its double standard policy and, on the other hand, wants to throw dust into the eyes of the people by spreading the rumors of negotiation. Claims about negotiation, flexibility in the stance of the Islamic Emirate, are mere baseless propaganda. The enemy wants to cover up its failure in Afghanistan by wrongfully raising hollow hopes in the hearts of their respective people. The believing people of Afghanistan and the public of the world should not trust any news report or rumor about the stance of the Islamic Emirate disseminated by any one rather than the leadership of the Islamic Emirate or the designated spokesmen, because such new reports are spread by the intelligence agencies of the hostile countries. Then the media outlets affiliated with these espionage entities, irresponsibly publish them with great fanfare. The aim is to play down the defeat ( of the enemy) at the military field through media warfare. But these conspiracies will never prove effective against our brave people and mujahideen as these experiences have already been tested.

The former Jihadi leaders and influential based in Kabul should know that, as the invading Americans already used you against the Mujahideen in the framework of peace council, they will again use you for their illegitimate objectives besides the puppet regime of Kabul. We can’t figure out why you are unilaterally coopering with the invaders? Can the present regime reflect your objectives of former jihad? Was the aim behind your 14-years long Jihad to let the place of the Russians to be occupied by the Americans?

If you want to extricate yourself of this dilemma and lead a life like a proud Muslim Afghan, the only way of honor and dignity is the way of the sacred Jihad and independence of the country. Come and compensate for your mistakes of the previous years by honestly embarking on the path of struggle against the invaders. This does not mean that every one has to join the stronghold but every one should utilize his capability in support of the current resistance. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has comprehensive policy for the efficiency of the future government of Afghanistan; about true security, Islamic justice, education, economic progress, national unity and a foreign policy based on norms to protect itself from the harms of others and convince the world that the future Afghanistan will not harm them.

Regarding the Military Situation of the Country:

Our coming military programs will forge ahead on the basis of the climate of the country and the geographical locations as per the plans now at the disposal of the Mujahideen. The aim is to entangle the enemy in an exhausting war of attrition and wear it away like the former Soviet Union. This will force it face disintegration after dealing a crushing and decisive blow at it that it would not be able to hold itself thereafter. To achieve this, we have hammered out short term and long term plans. We are optimistic about the results of these plans. Our strategy is to increase our operations step by step and spread them to all parts of the country to compel the enemy to come out from their hideouts and then crush them through tactical raids. This experiment was effective in Marja, Kandahar and some other areas. Therefore, the Mujahideen should focus on their jihadic efforts more than ever and expand their jihadic operations on the basis of the given plans. They should try their best to compel the moribund enemy to flee from our soil. They should constantly and unremittingly remember Allah during the performance of their tasks and be sure that Allah is the ultimate creator and conductor of all affairs; and must have the conviction that their achievements are the result of the exclusive blessings and victory from Allah; should increase their worship and recite the prayers during jihad which the holy prophet (peace be upon him) usually recited. This will bestow on them solace and consolation and will strengthen in them the essence of trust, sincerity, humbleness and the desire to seek the pleasure of Allah (swt). These characteristics of a believer are an asset which even in worse conditions lead to a blessing and victory from the Almighty Allah. Similarly, do not forget the Islamic moral conduct, even for a while, during your journey on the path of the sacred Jihad. You should study the Jihad related affairs in the books of the Sayings of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and in the laws of religious jurisprudence. Pay attention to the life and property of the civilians so that, may Allah (swt) forbid, your Jihadic activities will not become a cause for destruction of property and loss of life of people. Any thing that is not permissible in Islam, has no place in our military policy. Spread fraternity among yourselves and help each other during the time of distress and ordeal. Maintain close contact with the people, seek the advice of local influential and hear their constructive advice and consultation and put them into practice.

To the Young Educated Generation and Men of Letters of the Country and the Students of Universities:

As a young educated generation and men of letters (writers) of our Islamic country, you are the leaders of tomorrow of the country. Our enemy is turning every stone to spread their cultural and ideological influence over the young generation of this Muslim country and thus jeopardize our history, religious values and our future. Our religious and historical enemy has cunningly launched a propaganda drive, spending huge amount of money in order to gradually strip our young generation of their Afghan and Islamic identity. As a young generation of this Islamic country, you have an Islamic and Afghani responsibility to confront these hostile anti-Islamic and anti-Afghan endeavors of the enemy with all your capability of tongue and pen and indefatigable struggle. Do not let your historical, religious and cultural enemy succeed. You should know that the cunning enemy financially and extensively fund some sold-out Afghan circles in a surreptitious manner to flare up a domestic war on the basis of language and geographical locations. Thus they want to harm the identity and integrity of the country and take avenge on the Afghans. You, the young educated generation, should not become part of these negative movements. Instead, solely focus on serving the cause of dissemination of Islamic culture, independence of the country and unity. The honor of a Muslim lies in Islam and Islamic unity. It is you that are able to protect the pillars of Islamic culture and Afghani identity from crumbling down. The Islamic Emirate is your flank of battle and a stronghold.

The Islamic Emirate is proud of your support; your Jihad of words and pen and holds you in high esteem and praise. This resistance will increasingly boost through your scholarly cultural efforts.

To Peoples and Governments of the Islamic World:

On this occasion of Eid-ul-odha and on behalf of the Islamic Emirate and as a member of the world Islamic family, I would like to remind the governments and people of the Islamic world to forget the issue of the occupied Afghanistan and the miserable condition of the people of this country. You should remember that the Afghan people have played prideful role for the defense of Islam and Islamic world, offering numerous sacrifices in this way throughout different stages of the history. This nation stood as a wall of iron in front of the invasions of Genghis, Britons and the communist colonialists, saving the Islamic world. Today, this nation is entangled in a complicated trial and an imposed war on the charges of their professing (Islamic) ideology. Every day, men and women of this nation, fall prey to the bombardment of the invaders and their children become orphans; miserable people are displaced internally due to the operations and fear of bombardment of the enemy. The people are grappling with hardship and poverty. But the Afghans have embraced all these sufferings out of commitment to the great cause of establishment of rules of the Holy Quran and the defense of the Islamic faith. So the Muslims of the world should share and feel (their pain) and have conduct with them on equal terms as pious Muslim. Perform your obligation of fraternity( towards them) in your material wealth. The countries of the Islamic world should not feel as being a lien to the issues of Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine and should not spare any effort in this regard in the framework of their foreign policies. They should consider the pains and hardship of these suffering people as their own pain and problem and play positive role in the solution of their problems.

To American and European Peoples and to Members of Parliaments:

Afghanistan is an independent Islamic country. It has a prideful history and freedom-loving people at the level of the region and world. This nation has not harmed the independence of other countries and, throughout the history, has not permitted any one else to take their independence. Now when your forces have invaded this territory for the achievement of some colonialist objectives and goals, so it is the religious and humane obligation of the Afghans to stand up to your forces. Think, if your country is invaded by some one else, would you remain indifferent in such circumstances? What do you think, should our people allow the invasion and aggression in their country and remain insouciant vis-avis the invaders? And should not they show any reaction in front of the aggression against their honor religious values, national dignity and independence.?

If you are an impartial judge, you would yourself give us the right to keep up the path of resistance against the invaders and even shore it up more than ever.

Availing the limited resources at their disposal and because of their firm determinations and conviction in their being in the right, the Afghans showed to your military chiefs and political leaders in the past nine years, that you, invaders, are not able to force this nation to accept your occupation. The troops surge made no change in the status quo and never will they be able to turn the tide, if God willing. Body counts of your troop’s causalities have spiraled up but still your political leaders and military chiefs stubbornly persist in their failed politics.

First of all, you should find for yourselves the ground realities and then study them. Ponder over them impartially. How long the governments and people of the world will tolerate your tyrannical policy and your demeanor of taking hostage the people. To relieve yourselves and the Afghan people from the weariness of this unjustified war, you have to put an end to the war as soon as possible. The more the war prolongs, the more causalties of your troops increase and the more its economic burden become heavier. Nothing more than this, you will achieve.

This is the country of the Afghans. The Afghan will not relinquish of it. The resistance will continue as long as the invaders are stationed there. You should review the historical facts to learn some essential points from them. It is more rationale to stop adding fuel to the flames of war by leaving this region. The presence of foreign forces on our soil, paves the way for intensification and aggravation of the war--consequent upon which you will have to face colossal financial and life losses.

To the Neighboring and Regional Countries of Afghanistan:

As an independent country, Afghanistan has been forced to wage a sanguinary war for the attainment of its identity. The colonialist countries led by America, want to turn our historical and independent country into a military base under various pretexts. It has persuaded some other countries to align with them and even have compelled the World Body of the United Nations to issue resolutions palatable to the USA. It has turned the World Body, defacto, into personal entity of America.

I urge you to find for yourselves the ground realities instead of listening to the futile propaganda of the colonialists. Do not forget your responsibilities in the way of independence of our oppressed country.

On the basis of its hypocritical policy, America wants to project our legitimate mission to defend our country and the current resistance as a threat to the world whereas they have no convincing proof and evidence on hand in this regard.


To end, I urge all Muslims to remember the families of Muahideen, the prisoners, martyrs and IDPs in these day of sacrifices and selflessness; they have sacrificed themselves in the defense of this venerable religion (Islam) and the country. Remember their orphans and heirs and behave with them like you behave with your children, particularly, favor them with a share in the joy of the Eid.

Once again congratulations on the occasion of Eid and may Allah protect you from grief and anguish.

Peace be on you all

The servant of Islam
Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid



Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 16, 2010, 05:35:06 am
Taliban Leader Mullah Omar: The US and NATO Are Being Defeated in Afghanistan

by Jeremy Scahill

The Nation, November 15, 2010

In a communiqué marking the beginning of the Muslim holiday, Eid-al-Adha, the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, claimed his forces were making gains against US and NATO forces in Afghanistan and announced a new plan to increase attacks aimed at delivering a "crushing and decisive blow" against the presence of foreign forces. "The aim is to entangle the enemy in an exhausting war of attrition and wear it away like the former Soviet Union," declared Omar in his address on the "Festival of Sacrifice." Omar wrote that his forces had developed new short and long term strategies, saying overall "our strategy is to increase our operations step by step and spread them to all parts of the country to compel the enemy to come out from their hideouts and then crush them through tactical raids."
Omar's declaration comes amid reports that leaders at this week's NATO summit in Portugal plan to set 2014 as an end date for "combat" operations.
Omar portrayed the ongoing battle with US forces in Marjah and, more recently, in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar--where US-led forces code-named their operation "Dragon Strike"-- as victories. Noting the surge in US and NATO casualties and deaths in Afghanistan, Omar wrote. "The moment of defeat of the invaders has approached," adding: "The enemy has been defeated on the battlefield. Now they rely on media hype and portray themselves as if making advancement but the ground realities are what you and we are witnessing. The enemy is retreating and facing siege in all parts of the country day in and day out. Their life casualties are spiraling up."
Current Taliban commanders and former senior officials of Omar's Taliban government recently told The Nation that while the US Special Operations Forces' targeted killing campaign against Taliban commanders has been successful, the strikes were actually producing a more radical generation of fighters and commanders. In his communication, Omar did not address the issue of the targeted killing campaign, but he did claim that morale among the Taliban remained high. "Our Mujahid people will never feel exhausted in the sacred path of Jihad, because it is a divine obligation," he wrote. "Fatigue can have no way into it."
Omar is never seen publicly and US officials believe is hiding in Quetta, Pakistan. In interviews with The Nation in Afghanistan, several former and current Taliban leaders suggested that Omar was currently residing in Afghanistan. In the nine years since US forces toppled the Taliban government analysts have questioned the extent of his control over insurgent forces fighting to expel the US and NATO. On the ground in Afghanistan, anti-US fighters tell different stories. Many say they are loyal to Omar and proclaim him the leader of the jihad, while other reports paint a picture of a fractured resistance with multiple groups. Omar "is the main figure and a powerful person and the emir of the Taliban," says Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Taliban government's ambassador to Pakistan. Speaking at his home in Kabul where he is closely monitored by Karzai's security forces, Zaeef said, "Nobody knows where is he. If I know, the [Afghan] government should know, the Americans should know. It would be not safe. Nobody knows where is he, but he is alive." As for reports Omar has been captured, Zaeef laughs and says, "He was already captured so many times by the American media."
In his Eid-al-Adha communiqué, Omar blasted the Karzai government as a corrupt "puppet Kabul regime" subservient to Washington and rejected as "baseless propaganda" reports that senior Taliban officials have engaged in any negotiations with the Karzai government or US/NATO forces. "The cunning enemy which has occupied our country is trying, on the one hand, to expand its military operations… and, on the other hand, wants to throw dust into the eyes of the people by spreading the rumors of negotiation," Omar wrote.
The Taliban leader's allegations mirror those of a US official who told McClatchy News Service in October that reports of senior Taliban meeting with Afghan or US officials were propaganda aimed at sowing dissent among the Taliban leadership. "This is a psychological operation, plain and simple," said the US official with firsthand knowledge of the Afghan government's strategies. "Exaggerating the significance of it is an effort to sow distrust within the insurgency."
In his declaration, Omar wrote:
"The enemy wants to cover up its failure in Afghanistan by wrongfully raising hollow hopes in the hearts of their respective people. The believing people of Afghanistan and the public of the world should not trust any news report or rumor about the stance of the Islamic Emirate disseminated by any one rather than  the leadership of the Islamic Emirate or the designated spokesmen, because such new reports are spread by the intelligence agencies of the hostile countries. Then the media outlets affiliated with these espionage entities, irresponsibly publish them with great fanfare. The aim is to play down the defeat (of the enemy) at the military field through media warfare. But these conspiracies will never prove effective against our brave people and mujahideen."
Omar also delivered his counter-point to the US counterinsurgency doctrine, instructing his forces not to target civilian populations and to build ties in local communities, calling on his followers to ensure that their "Jihadic activities will not become a cause for  destruction of property and loss of life" of civilians, adding, "Anything that is not permissible in Islam, has no place in our military policy."

Watch :

Briefing: Jeremy Scahill

Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 16, 2010, 05:45:12 am
The Stimulus Package in Kabul

(I Was Delusional -- I Thought One Monster “Embassy” Was the End of It)

By Tom Burghardt

Tomdispatch, November 15, 2010

You must have had a moment when you thought to yourself: It really isn’t going to end, is it?  Not ever.  Rationally, you know perfectly well that whatever your "it" might be will indeed end, because everything does, but your gut tells you something different.

I had that moment recently when it came to the American way of war.  In the past couple of weeks, it could have been triggered by an endless string of ill-attended news reports like theChristian Science Monitor piece headlined "U.S. involvement in Yemen edging toward 'clandestine war.’"  Or by the millions of dollars in U.S. payments reportedly missing in Afghanistan, thanks to under-the-table or unrecorded handouts in unknown amounts to Afghan civilian government employees (as well as Afghan security forces, private-security contractors, and even the Taliban).  Or how about the news that the F-35 "Joint Strike Fighter," the cost-overrun poster weapon of the century, already long overdue, will cost yet more money and be produced even less quickly?

Or what about word that our Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has officially declared the Obama administration "open" to keeping U.S. troops in Iraq after the announced 2011 deadline for their withdrawal?  Or how about the news from McClatchy’s reliable reporter Nancy Youssef that Washington is planning to start "publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Barack Obama's pledge that he'd begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011"?

Or that bottomless feeling could have been triggered by the recent request from the military man in charge of training Afghan security forces, Lieutenant General William Caldwell, for another 900 U.S. and NATO trainers in the coming months, lest the improbable "transition" date of 2014 for Afghan forces to "take the lead" in protecting their own country be pushed back yet again.  ("No trainers, no transition," wrote the general in a "report card" on his mission.)

Or it could have been the accounts of how a trained Afghan soldier turned his gun on U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan, killing two of them, and then fled to the Taliban for protection (one of a string of similar incidents over the last year).  Or, speaking of things that could have set me off, consider this passage from the final paragraphs of an Elisabeth Bumiller article tucked away inside the New York Times on whether Afghan War commander General David Petraeus was (or was not) on the road to success: "'It is certainly true that Petraeus is attempting to shape public opinion ahead of the December [Obama administration] review [of Afghan war policy],' said an administration official who is supportive of the general. 'He is the most skilled public relations official in the business, and he’s trying to narrow the president’s options.'"

Or, in the same piece, what about this all-American analogy from Bruce Riedel, the former CIA official who chaired President Obama’s initial review of Afghan war policy in 2009, speaking of the hundreds of mid-level Taliban the U.S. military has reportedly wiped out in recent months: "The fundamental question is how deep is their bench." (Well, yes, Bruce, if you imagine the Afghan War as the basketball nightmare on Elm Street in which the hometown team’s front five periodically get slaughtered.)

Or maybe it should have been the fact that only 7% of Americans had reports and incidents like these, or evidently anything else having to do with our wars, on their minds as they voted in the recent midterm elections.

The Largest "Embassy" on Planet Earth

Strange are the ways, though.  You just can’t predict what’s going to set you off.  For me, it was none of the above, nor even the flood of Republican war hawks heading for Washington eager to "cut" government spending by "boosting" the Pentagon budget.  Instead, it was a story that slipped out as the midterm election results were coming in and was treated as an event of no importance in the U.S.

The Associated Press covered U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry's announcement that a $511 million contract had been awarded to Caddell Construction, one of America’s "largest construction and engineering groups," for a massive expansion of the U.S. embassy in Kabul.  According to the ambassador, that embassy is already "the largest... in the world with more than 1,100 brave and dedicated civilians... from 16 agencies and working next to their military counterparts in 30 provinces," and yet it seems it’s still not large enough.

A few other things in his announcement caught my eye.  Construction of the new "permanent offices and housing" for embassy personnel is not to be completed until sometime in 2014, approximately three years after President Obama’s July 2011 Afghan drawdown is set to begin, and that $511 million is part of a $790 million bill to U.S. taxpayers that will include expansion work on consular facilities in the Afghan cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat.  And then, if the ambassador’s announcement was meant to fly below the media radar screen in the U.S., it was clearly meant to be noticed in Afghanistan.  After all, Eikenberry publicly insisted that the awarding of the contract should be considered "an indication... an action, a deed that you can take as a long-term commitment of the United States government to the government of Afghanistan."

(Note to Tea Party types heading for Washington: this contract is part of a new stimulus package in one of the few places where President Obama can, by executive fiat, increase stimulus spending.  It has already resulted in the hiring of 500 Afghan workers and when construction ramps up, another 1,000 more will be added to the crew.)

Jo Comerford and the number-crunchers at the National Priorities Project have offered TomDispatch a hand in putting that $790 million outlay into an American context: "$790 million is more than ten times the money the federal government allotted for the State Energy Program in FY2011. It's nearly five times the total amount allocated for the National Endowment for the Arts (threatened to be completely eliminated by the incoming Congress). If that sum were applied instead to job creation in the United States, in new hires it would yield more than 22,000 teachers, 15,000 healthcare workers, and employ more than 13,000 in the burgeoning clean energy industry."

Still, to understand just why, among a flood of similar war reports, this one got under my skin, you need a bit of backstory.

Singular Spawn or Forerunner Deluxe?

One night in May 2007, I was nattering on at the dinner table about reports of a monstrous new U.S. embassy being constructed in Baghdad, so big that it put former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s grandiose Disneyesque palaces to shame.  On 104 acres of land in the heart of the Iraqi capital (always referred to in news reports as almost the size of Vatican City), it was slated to cost $590 million. (Predictable cost overruns and delays -- see F-35 above -- would, in the end, bring that figure to at least $740 million, while the cost of running the place yearly is now estimated at $1.5 billion.)

Back then, more than half a billion dollars was impressive enough, even for a compound that was to have its own self-contained electricity-generation, water-purification, and sewage systems in a city lacking most of the above, not to speak of its own antimissile defense systems, and 20 all-new blast-resistant buildings including restaurants, a recreation center, and other amenities.  It was to be by far the largest, most heavily fortified embassy on the planet with a "diplomatic" staff of 1,000 (a number that has only grown since).

My wife listened to my description of this future colossus, which bore no relation to anything ever previously called an "embassy," and then, out of the blue, said, "I wonder who the architect is?"  Strangely, I hadn’t even considered that such a mega-citadel might actually have an architect.

That tells you what I know about building anything.  So imagine my surprise to discover that there was indeed a Kansas architect, BDY (Berger Devine Yaeger), previously responsible for the Sprint Corporation's world headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas; the Visitation Church in Kansas City, Missouri; and Harrah's Hotel and Casino in North Kansas City, Missouri.  Better yet, BDY was so proud to have been taken on as architect to the wildest imperial dreamers and schemers of our era that it posted sketches at its website of what the future embassy, its "pool house," its tennis court, PX, retail and shopping areas, and other highlights were going to look like.

Somewhere between horrified and grimly amused, I wrote a piece at TomDispatch, entitled "The Mother Ship Lands in Baghdad" and, via a link to the BDY drawings, offered readers a little "blast-resistant spin" through Bush’s colossus.  From the beginning, I grasped that this wasn’t an embassy in any normal sense and I understood as well something of what it was.  Here’s the way I put it at the time:

"As an outpost, this vast compound reeks of one thing: imperial impunity. It was never meant to be an embassy from a democracy that had liberated an oppressed land. From the first thought, the first sketch, it was to be the sort of imperial control center suitable for the planet's sole 'hyperpower,’ dropped into the middle of the oil heartlands of the globe. It was to be Washington's dream and Kansas City's idea of a palace fit for an embattled American proconsul -- or a khan."

In other words, a U.S. "control center" at the heart of what Bush administration officials then liked to call "the Greater Middle East" or the "arc of instability."  To my surprise, the piece began racing around the Internet and other sites -- TomDispatch did not then have the capacity to post images -- started putting up BDY’s crude drawings.  The next thing I knew, the State Department had panicked, declared this a "security breach," and forced BDY to take down its site and remove the drawings.

I was amazed.  But (and here we come to the failure of my own imagination) I never doubted that BDY’s bizarre imperial "mother ship" being prepared for landing in Baghdad was the singular spawn of the Bush administration.  I saw it as essentially a vanity production sired by a particular set of fantasies about imposing a Pax Americana abroad and a Pax Republicana at home.  It never crossed my mind that there would be two such "embassies."

So, on this, call me delusional.  By May 2009, with Barack Obama in the White House, I knew as much.  That was when two McClatchy reporters broke a story about a similar project for a new "embassy" in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, at the projected cost of $736 million (with a couple of hundred million more slated for upgrades of diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan).

Simulating Ghosts

Now, with the news in from Kabul, we know that there are going to be three mother ships.  All gigantic beyond belief.  All (after the usual cost overruns) undoubtedly in the three-quarters of a billion dollar range, or beyond.  All meant not to house modest numbers of diplomats acting as the face of the United States in a foreign land, but thousands of diplomats, spies, civilian personnel, military officials, agents, and operatives hunkering down long-term for war and skullduggery.

Connect two points and you have a straight line.  Connect three points and you have a pattern -- in this case, simple and striking.  The visionaries and fundamentalists of the Bush years may be gone and visionless managers of the tattered American imperium are now directing the show.  Nonetheless, they and the U.S. military in the region remain remarkably devoted to the control of the Greater Middle East.  Even without a vision, there is still the war momentum and the money to support it.

While Americans fight bitterly over whether the stimulus package for the domestic economy was too large or too small, few in the U.S. even notice that the American stimulus package in Kabul, Islamabad, Baghdad, and elsewhere in our embattled Raj is going great guns.  Embassies the size of pyramids are still being built; military bases to stagger the imagination continue to be constructed; and nowhere, not even in Iraq, is it clear that Washington is committed to packing up its tents, abandoning its billion-dollar monuments, and coming home.

In the U.S., it’s clearly going to be paralysis and stagnation all the way, but in Peshawar and Mazar-i-sharif, not to speak of the greater Persian Gulf region, we remain the spendthrifts of war, perfectly willing, for instance, to ship fuel across staggering distances and unimaginably long supply lines at $400 a gallon to Afghanistan to further crank up an energy-heavy conflict.   Here in the United States, police are being laid off.  In Afghanistan, we are paying to enroll thousands and thousands of them and train them in ever greater numbers.  In the U.S., roads crumble; in Afghanistan, support for road-building is still on the agenda.

At home, it’s peace all the way to the unemployment line, because peace, in our American world, increasingly seems to mean economic disaster.  In the Greater Middle East, it’s war to the horizon, all war all the time, and creeping escalation all the way around.  (And keep in mind that the escalatory stories cited above all occurred before the next round of Republican warhawks even hit Washington with the wind at their backs, ready to push for far more of the same.)

The folks who started us down this precipitous path and over an economic cliff are now in retirement and heading onto the memoir circuit: our former president is chatting it up with Matt Lauer and Oprah; his vice president is nursing his heart while assumedly writing about "his service in four presidential administrations"; his first secretary of defense is readying himself for the publication of his memoir in January; and his national security advisor, then secretary of state (for whom Chevron once named a double-hulled oil tanker), is already heading into her second and third memoir.  But while they scribble and yak, their policy ghosts haunt us, as does their greatest edifice, that embassy in Baghdad, now being cloned elsewhere.  Even without them or the neocons who pounded the drums for them, the U.S. military still pushes doggedly toward 2014 and beyond in Afghanistan, while officials "tweak" their drawdown non-schedules, narrow the president’s non-options, and step in to fund and build yet more command-and-control centers in the Greater Middle East.

It looks and feels like the never-ending story, and yet, of course, the imperium is visibly fraying, while the burden of distant wars grows ever heavier.  Those "embassies" are being built for the long haul, but a decade or two down the line, I wouldn’t want to put my money on what exactly they will represent, or what they could possibly hope to control.

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project, runs the Nation Institute's  His latest book is The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s (Haymarket Books). You can catch a Timothy MacBain TomDispatch video interview with me on our "stimulus" spending abroad by clicking here or download it to your iPod, here.

[Note:  For those still interested, some of the BDY sketches of the Baghdad embassy remain up at  Click here to see them.  And while I’m at it, let me make a heartfelt bow to, without which TomDispatch research would truly be hell and, in particular, Jason Ditz, whose daily updates are must-read fare for me.  Other crucial must-read sites for collecting war info include Juan Cole’s Informed Comment, Paul Woodward’s the War in Context, and Noah Shachtman’s Danger Room.]

Copyright 2010 Tom Engelhardt


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 17, 2010, 05:01:47 am
South Asia
Nov 18, 2010 

Have (infinite) war, will travel

By Pepe Escobar

Anyone aware enough to think that Washington's goal is not to "win" the unwinnable AfPak quagmire but to keep playing its bloody infinite war game forever is now eligible for a personal stimulus package (in gold).

Let's review the recent evidence. All of a sudden, the White House, the Pentagon and the United States House of Representatives have all embarked on a new narrative: forget major US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011; let's move the goalpost to 2014.

Then wily Afghan President Hamid Karzai tells the Washington Post he does not want all these US troops roaming around "his" country no more, adding please, stop killing my people with special-forces night ops - a euphemism for Pentagon terrorism.

General David “I'm always positioning myself for 2012” Petraeus is "astonished". How could he not be? After all, Karzai wanted to give the boot to private contractors - undisputed AfPak champions of false-flag black ops - then he gave up, as he might give up again on the night raids. As for Petraeus, he only wants the best of both worlds; kick up the hell-raising, as in drone hits and night ops (who cares about collateral damage?) and sit back and talk with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence-created Taliban.

Incidentally, Petraeus' counter-insurgency myth has been buried in the plains south of the Hindu Kush (not that many in the US noted). The counter-insurgency (COIN) myth implies that Washington, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and what passes for "Afghan security forces" could "take, clear, hold and build" areas previously controlled by the Taliban. They could not accomplish any of this even in Marjah, insistently sold by the Pentagon and compliant corporate media as a success, not to mention much bigger Kandahar.

Former US secretary of state Colin Powell has just weighed in on CNN, admitting the US won't be "pulling out 100,000 troops. I don't know how many troops we'll pull out." Powell also said that "inside the national security team", the whole thing is "conditions-based". Thus "conditions" may be bent to suit any narrative. Sharp noses may immediately detect a whiff of Vietnam, and Powell had to insist that Afghanistan is not that country. Well, whether Karzai is increasingly becoming the new Ngo Dinh Diem is beside the point; his assassination would not solve anything anyway.

And all this while a 71-page Council on Foreign Relations report written by 25 "experts" gets a lot of traction in Washington. The report finds that the war costs a fortune, may not serve US interests and it's not "clear that the effort will succeed". Do people get paid to conclude this? The report also meekly suggests that depending on President Barack Obama's December strategic AfPak review, the US "should move quickly to recalculate its military presence in Afghanistan". It won't.

Let's try following the money. The AfPak war costs roughly US $7 billion a month - money that Washington needs to borrow from Beijing. Afghanistan in itself costs $65 billion a year - not counting NATO and humanitarian aid. Afghanistan's gross domestic product is only $22 billion. So Washington is spending three times the wealth of a whole country just to occupy it. Money for nothing. Properly invested, by this time Afghanistan would be the new Singapore.

AfPak costs nearly $100 billion a year. Surrealist as it may seem, polls indicate that for most Americans the US federal budget deficit is not a priority. No wonder no election candidates on November 2 emitted a peep about the ridiculously expensive quagmire.

Let's face it. Whoever is writing this screenplay deserves an Oscar.

All you need is NATO
According to the official narrative, technically NATO only left its (cavernous) building in Europe for Afghanistan under the organization's Article 5 (emphasizing collective defense) to help Washington fight George W Bush's "war on terror" against al-Qaeda. Yet even somnolent diplomats in Brussels know that Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri crossed from eastern Afghanistan to Pakistan in early December 2001, and disappeared into a black void.

This would never prevent NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen - ahead of the NATO summit this weekend in Lisbon - stressing that the war, well, goes on forever, as in "there is no alternative to continuing military operations". NATO's council secretary Edmund Whiteside didn't mince his words, "Afghanistan will be a very long military venture." And German Brigadier General Josef Blotz insists: "No timetable has been set for withdrawal of coalition troops."

The "strategy" of the 152,000-soldier, 50-nation, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan ranks as a thesis on Monty Python geopolitics; to pledge a tsunami of euros for Karzai's shenanigans while forcing member countries to unleash ever more troops into the Taliban meat grinder - even though public opinion all across Europe says out loud "we can't take this anymore".

At least the commander of British forces in southern Afghanistan, Major General Nick Carter, was sensible enough to stress that NATO would only know if it was "winning" by June 2011, "when the fighting season begins again" and everyone can "compare Taliban attacks with this year". Wait for another eight months and pray for 2014; that's the "strategy". Talk about on-the-ground intelligence.

NATO is absolutely useless at infiltrating the historic Taliban - also known as the Quetta shura, based in Balochistan (they cannot even point a drone to where Mullah Omar is). NATO cannot infiltrate the Haqqani network in North Waziristan. And NATO cannot infiltrate the Hezb-i-Islami network, controlled by former prime minister and bomber of Kabul (in the mid-1990s) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, based in and around the strategic Khyber Pass.

The Pakistani ISI will always align with the Taliban under any circumstances - because this is Islamabad's way of protecting its "strategic depth" against India. The ISI will always insist on having the Taliban at the same table with Washington, otherwise any semblance of "talks" will be dead on arrival.

Islamabad's dream scenario is the Taliban, the Haqqanis and Hezb-i-Islami controlling southern and eastern Afghanistan. That would also be instrumental in preventing another one of Islamabad's primal fears - that disgruntled Pashtuns will unite and go all out to form an across-the-artificial-border Pashtunistan.

The key to all this mess is not Obama, Karzai, the Pentagon or NATO. It's which way General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani, number 29 on Forbes' list of the most powerful people in the world, will see the wind blowing. As much as during the Bush "war on terror" years, when Islamabad was ruled from Washington, during the Obama AfPak years the White House is a hostage of Islamabad.

But for the Pentagon/NATO axis, Pakistan is just a drop in the ocean. Next Friday and Saturday, at the Lisbon summit, the world will be presented with a NATO-goes-global narrative. Team Pentagon/NATO will be convinced to abandon its privileged outpost of infinite war - Afghanistan - over its dead nuclear bombs. After all, Washington/Brussels has implanted a precious foothold in the heart of Eurasia - arguably for life.

The Lisbon summit, moreover, will see NATO formally adopting a new strategic concept - which essentially means keeping its nuclear arsenal in perpetuity, including US nuclear bombs stationed in Europe. You know, those nuclear bombs that Iran does not have (but Pakistan and India, not to mention Israel, do). Paraphrasing the great Burt Bacharach, what the world needs now, is NATO sweet NATO.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and RedZone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obamadoes Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 17, 2010, 05:27:50 am
The 2014 Timetable for Afghanistan

Robert Dreyfuss | November 15, 2010

If you're an antiwar activist, the news from Afghanistan ought to be somewhat encouraging. Not only is the Obama administration sticking to its guns concerning the July, 2011, deadline for the start of a drawdown, but the NATO summit this week in Portugal will fix 2014 as the end point for US and NATO combat forces, a deadline that President Karzai of Afghanistan has endorsed vociferously. That's not good enough, of course, since it still means four more years of war and, even then, an uncertain timetable for removing residual (i.e., "non-combat") troops. (See: Iraq, where there are still 50,000 troops in the country and renewed talk about extending their deployment past the deadline of 2011 for complete withdrawal.)

But the good news embedded in all of this is that the discourse on Afghanistan is built around when to end the fighting and transition to the use of Afghan forces to do the fighting. And it's not about "winning" the war, nation-building and village-by-village, valley-by-valley, Petraeus-style counterinsurgency. That's a shift that Obama's White House has engineered, and it was laid out in detail in Bob Woodward's recent book, Obama's Wars.

If you're General Petraeus, the news from Afghanistan is disheartening. Disheartening enough, in fact, that according to the Washington Post Petraeus was sounding a bit like an insulted child, dropping hints that he might resign over Karzai's latest outburst.

Over the weekend, Karzai gave an extended interview to the [1]Post [1] in which he renewed much of his critique of the war. Last spring, you'll remember, Karzai launched a strong attack on US policy in his country. As I wrote for The Nation [2] in April:

In a series of angry, frustrated outbursts, Karzai has declared that the United States is acting like an invader and occupier, that ‘there is a thin curtain between invasion and cooperation-assistance,' that the heavy-handed US and NATO military operations could transform the insurgency into a "national resistance" and that he himself might throw in his lot with the Taliban. He said, not without reason, that the Obama administration was trying to undercut his efforts to reach a settlement with the Taliban. And an Afghan who attended a meeting with Karzai told the New York Times, "He believes that America is trying to dominate the region, and that he is the only one who can stand up to them."

In his latest interview, Karzai lambasted American "mistakes," criticized private security firms, renewed charges that the United States was trying to rig Afghanistan's elections, and, when asked if the US government was "well-intentioned" in Afghanistan, said: "That has to be proven."

He also said that the United States must halt its night raids, the central plank of Petraeus' vaunted counterinsurgency plan for sending death squads against Taliban leaders, saying: "The raiding homes at night. Terrible. Terrible.… I don't like it in any manner, and the Afghan people don't like these raids in any manner. We don't like raids on our homes. This is a problem between us, and I hope this ends as soon as possible." Karzai added that the war on terrorism shouldn't be fought on Afghan soil, since the actual terrorists are elsewhere. And he renewed calls for talks with the Taliban.

All that didn't make Petraeus too happy, and the Post reports today that the general expressed "astonishment and disappointment" [3] with Karzai's remarks. Though he probably isn't going to quit over this, aides to Petraeus weren't ready to say it's impossible, but they went as far as to hint at it [3], according to the Post: "Officials discounted early reports Sunday that Petraeus had threatened to resign."

For months now, both Karzai and NATO have been trying to highlight 2014 as the year that the war ends, and now, it appears, the Obama administration is on board with that. Though it's too distant—the war can certainly end before that, and in fact now is a good time for a cease-fire [4] to jumpstart peace talks—it's good that the administration is talking now about an end to the war. The role of the opposition is put pressure on the White House to accelerate its timetable, and to focus on diplomacy—not just talks with the Taliban, but with all of the key international players, including India, Pakistan, Iran, Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.

Like this blog post? Read all Nation blogs on the Nation's free iPhone App, NationNow. [5]


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Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 20, 2010, 12:20:39 pm
Afghan resistance statement

The Americans can no longer conceal their defeat in the Kandahar Operations

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

November 20, 2010

The White House has determined July 2011 as the deadline to begin withdrawing their defeated invader forces from Afghanistan. It is therefore necessary for them to justify this withdrawal in front of their civilians and the world at large by achieving some meaningful or tangible gain in Afghanistan.

To this end they have stationed over 150,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan along with all the military technology they can muster. The Americans have chosen Kandahar as their battleground both for its sentimental and strategic importance.

For the past nine months the Americans have been attempting their utmost to achieve some sort of military or political gain in Afghanistan. They employed all the propaganda tools at their disposal to turn the people away from the Mujahideen. However, failing to win the support of the people, the invaders resorted to the indiscriminate carpet bombings of the people’s lands and the mass murders of the innocent civilians. All this has caused the displacement of thousands of families from their lands and villages. However, despite all their trickeries and force, the battle for Kandahar has settled steadily in the Mujahideen’s favour.

The Mujahideen were, from the start of these operations, to carry out precise Commando-led operations against the nerve centres of the foreign forces and their puppet partners, thus seizing the initiative from the foreign occupiers. Not only did the Mujahideen conduct these operations in Kandahar city, but also extending to surrounding areas such as the airport, Dand, Arghandab, Zhiri, Panjwaee, and Maiwand districts. The head of the foreign barbarian forces, Nick Carter, last month, could not give any information on these operations to the media. This is mostly because the enemy neither knows the military strength of the Mujahideen nor their main bases. The Mujahideen, profiting from the Dagger and Marjah operations, were able to introduce several new tactics that have completely demoralised the invader forces. These tactics are the main reason why the Mujahideen have not abated their operations in the area in the winter season. These new tactics have placed the foreign invaders under significant military and domestic pressure.

Their failure in the Kandahar operations was also the main reason behind Obama’s supporters, the Democrats, defeat in the mid-term elections. Also due to their failures in the Kandahar operations, Obama’s approval ratings in America have sunk to 46% while the myth of America’s military superiority globally has been shattered. This Friday’s NATO meeting in Portugal will also address how the foreigners can prevent the escalating death toll of their soldiers in Afghanistan.

Though the eleventh month in Afghanistan is generally very cold and naturally impedes any military undertakings, the Mujahideen have been so active in Afghanistan that midway through the month, the invaders (who hide 90% of their real casualties in Afghanistan) by their own count have lost over 23 soldiers in this month. In summary it has become clear that after nine years of occupation, the invaders are doomed towards the same fate as those that tread this path before them. Their troop surges, their new strategies, their new generals, their new negotiations, and their new propagandas have been of no avail.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan opines that the Americans have exhausted themselves in Afghanistan over the last nine years, and now will not stay long in our beloved country. What they could not gain in the last few months with their, then, fresh troops, they will not be able to gain in Kandahar, with their, now, demoralised and fearful troops. It is becoming manifest that the Americans will not be able to conceal their defeat in Afghanistan for too long. Therefore, the White House, instead of counting their mounting casualties in Afghanistan, would be better advised to formulate a withdrawal plan, to at least save those troops, which are still alive.



Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on November 22, 2010, 04:49:37 am
Afghan resistance statement

Response of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as regards Lisbon Meeting

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Zilhajj 13, 1431 A.H, Saturday, November 20, 2010

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

On 20.11.2010 ended the meeting of 28 NATO member countries which had been held in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Participants of the meeting passed some decisions about Afghanistan. In response, the Islamic Emirate issue its stance concerning the decision as follows:

1. Seeing that the USA failed to get additional military assistance of the NATO member countries in Lisbon Meeting for prolongation of the war in Afghanistan despite her all-out efforts or at least get commitment to ensure long-term continuation of the present military power of the NATO member countries in Afghanistan, therefore, it is a good news for the Afghans and all freedom-loving people of the world and it is a sign of failure for the American government. In the past nine years, the invaders could not establish any system of governance in Kabul and they will never be able to do so in future.

2. The real solution of the Afghan issue lies in withdrawal of the foreign forces. Hence the NATO decision to start withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan in 2014 is an irrational decision because until then, various untoward and tragic events and battles will take place as a result of this meaningless, imposed and unwinning war. The bottom line for them is to immediately implement what they would ultimately have to implement though after colossal casualties. They should not postpone withdrawal of their forces even be it for one day.

3. As far as the Mujahid people of Afghanistan are concerned, they are not ready to tolerate foreign invasion and occupation of their country even if it is for one day because of their firm determination. Nor they feel exhausted in the way of the sacred Jihad and the struggle of independence. So they will not remain silent even for a single night until and unless the goal of complete freedom and formation of an independent government is achieved. They will not wait for the time of implementation of a given decision or timetable of withdrawal.

4. Seeing that the invading forces which have come here from far-flung places, thousands of kilometers away, and want to set a timetable for withdrawal but still want to continue presence of their forces at the regional countries, therefore, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls on the neighboring and regional countries to take drastic measures for a bright future of Afghanistan, the Afghans, and all the region, for good relationship and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

5. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has formulated comprehensive policy for the future Afghanistan, for efficient governance, security, Islamic justice, education, economic advancement, national unity, and a foreign policy that will ensure protection of the country against any harm of others and convince the world that the future Afghanistan will not harm them. The Islamic Emirate wants to take strong step in collaboration with all countries and in the framework of mutual respect to maintain bilateral corporation with all countries; ensure economic progress and bright future.

We consider the whole region as our home against colonialism and as a responsible force, want to play a role for peace and stability of the region in future.



The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan


Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on December 03, 2010, 06:03:22 am
Afghan resistance statement

Remarks of the Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Regarding the Usage of Poisonous Chemical Weapons in Afghanistan by the Invading Americans

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

December 2, 2010

On the basis of evidence, the American invaders have used banned weapons like thermo baric and bunker buster bombs against defenseless civilian Afghans in various parts of he country in the past few years under the pretext of eradicating Mujahideen. Many congenital deformities have occurred in infants in every part of the country as a result of the usage of the chemical weapons. Furthermore, the residents have been suffering from various diseases.

As a proof, we would like to refer to the following documents:

1. An Afghan investigative research scholar, Dr. Mohammad Daud Miraki conducted field research in the southern provinces of the country. He accumulated enough empirical evidence regarding the use of poisonous weapons in the area.

2. In 2002, a research team of Canadian Medical Research Center visited southern provinces of Afghanistan and found that the magnitude of uranium isotopes in the inhabitants was soaring between 300 and 2000 nanograms while the accepted limit is 10 nanograms.

3. The Al-alam TV website has posted a video report about newly-born infants suffering from deformities and abnormal body parts caused by the usage of biological weapons. See

4. A Senior official of the Kabul Regime’s Ministry of Health told media some times ago that they had obtained evidences, indicating that the Americans had used depleted uranium munitions and phosphorus bombs in Tora bora in east Afghanistan in 2001. Deformed infants have been born in the area or some have deformed body parts or suffering from weightlessness or mental retardation. Diseases like leukemia( blood white cells disease) is widespread in the area. Sperms " infertility" malfunction in males have been noticed. Many persons have died without an open wound.

All Americans military and civilian rulers are held responsible for these anti-human crimes. Ironically, still, the crimes have been continuing in Afghanistan at the hands of the invading Americans and their coalition forces, in a time that many human rights organizations including those of the United Nations and the Human Rights Watch have presence in the country.

To fulfill its responsibility, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls on all human rights organizations and other relevant entities, organizations and independent personalities to take steps, as a part of their responsibility, to impede those who are involved in human rights violations and bring them to human rights crimes tribunals. Moreover, speed up efforts aimed at disseminating awareness and unearthing more cases of crimes against humanity.

Qari Muhammad Yousaf Ahmadi
Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan



Title: Re: AFGHANISTAN: Daily stuff here please....
Post by: bigron on December 06, 2010, 07:34:47 am
Afghan resistance statement

The Negotiation Ploy Boomerangs on the Enemy

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

December 4, 2010

The esteemed Amir-ul-Mumineen, Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid, in his Eid ul Adha message, re-affirmed the stance of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan regarding talks with the puppet Kabul regime and the American invaders.

He made it clear that the solution of the Afghan issues lies only in full withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. The recent developments as regards our country show the far-sightedness of the Amir-ul-momineen, by not responding to the war stratagem being launched by the enemy time and again under the name of peace talks overtures. With the passage of time, it becomes more and more exposed that the enemy is only trying to create rifts among the ranks of Mujahideen through their publishing false reports of peace talks with the senior officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

On 22nd Nov. 2010, the New York Times wrote: "the so called "high -ranking member of Taliban" was actually a lowly shop keeper from Quetta. He had introduced himself as Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour to the British Intelligence MI6; His credentials had been confirmed by US intelligence agencies. Then, he was flown by NATO to Kabul to meet with Hamid Karzai who gave him large amount of money. The man apparently had long talks with the M16 for several days before he was whisked away to Kabul. In fact, the enemy has no clear strategy for diplomatic solutions of the issue. Instead, they resort to some hypocritical tactics aimed at weakening the Mujahideen. A western writer writes: "But wait. If we did want to weaken Taliban resolve—and surely we do—and if individual Taliban leaders aren't really sure what the others are doing, then even a fake Taliban talker might do the trick. Isn't it possible the false Mansour served our interests--by putting the real Taliban leaders "on edge," worried that some of their colleagues might be cracking? If the fake Mansour didn't exist, it might be worth paying someone take the role, no?"

After flaunting its military surge and much publicized operations in Helmand and Kandahar, the enemy has realized that their increased military presence has actually backfired by inciting resistance to their presence even in areas that were relatively peaceful in the past. By their own admission, attacks on the foreign forces from April to October 2010 have increased by 300% compared to the same period in 2009. By the Grace of Allah, the Operation Al Fath (Operation Victory) has successfully been forging ahead. Next phase of the Mujahideen operations, as pointed out by the Commander of the Faithful, will deal dashing blows at the enemy, Inshallah.

In the recent Nato summit in Lisbon, the occupying Nato forces confirmed the end of 2014 as their final withdrawal date from Afghanistan. Since the invaders has proved unable to defeat the

Mujahideen militarily (as they themselves admit), they are trying fatuously to create dissension and distrust among the ranks of Mujahideen by spreading the rumor of talks. After the 9/11 attacks on America, the United States did not bother to open a comprehensive and neutral investigation of the 9/11 event to find the real culprits but instead of presenting concrete evidence, the Americans simply said that the Afghans should give in to their demands or they will invade our country. Soon, they started a barbaric aerial bombardment of Afghanistan, without regard to any principle of International law. The Nato allies, repeating mistakes of past empires, considered Afghanistan as a weak nation that they could invade and utilize for their designs in the region.

After the fall of Kabul, the Amir ul Mumineen, Mullah Muhammad Mujahid, in an interview with BBC Radio had predicted that Afghanistan would prove as a graveyard of the American Empire. Today, the Americans have been in Afghanistan for more than nine years, the same length of time that the Soviets had been in Afghanistan, and they are in no better condition than the Soviets. Their puppet regime is weak and corrupt and holds no sway beyond Kabul. They have displaced hundreds of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians; tens of thousands of Afghans have fallen prey to the enemy’s indiscriminate bombing, and an even higher number have been wounded by them. Their brazen lies about the ground realities have spiraled to such an extent that even their puppet President does not believe in them anymore. But most important of all, the myth of American supremacy has been shattered. America has been demoted from a supposedly "hyper-power" or "super-power" to just another regional power, unable to impose its will on other nations without the backing of other regional powers. The irony is that America was instigated into attacking Afghanistan by other regional powers, and Americas presence in the country served their interests more than it served America’s interests. And today, because of their military and political losses in Afghanistan, America does not have the strength and stomach to confront their real enemies. America’s invasion of Afghanistan will be judged as a unique moment in history when America abandoned its own principles of "Realpolitick" and decided to pull someone else’s chestnut out of the fire. The longer it stays in this fire, the more it will be burnt.