Afghanistan News & Discussion

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Skanda » 08 Sep 2008 16:02

French military presence in Afghanistan under scrutiny
The head of the French military, General Jean-Louis Georgelin, met Thursday with his troops in Afghanistan less than three weeks after 10 French soldiers were killed in a Taliban ambush.

Georgelin arrived in the country Wednesday and spent the night at the Tora base in the Sarobi district about 65 kilometres (40 miles) east of Kabul, a French military official said on condition of anonymity.

An ambush followed by intense fighting in Sarobi on August 18 and 19 left 10 French soldiers dead and 21 wounded.

Paris Match Taliban photoshoot shocks France
Politicians of the right and left blasted the magazine Paris Match today for publishing a photograph of a Taliban guerrilla dressed in the combat uniform of one of the ten French soldiers killed in Afghanistan last month.

The defence minister, Hervé Morin, accused the magazine of taking part in a Taliban "propaganda" exercise. The Green politician, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a leader of the French student revolt 40 years ago, said that Match was guilty of "abject voyeurism".

The photograph was taken by a Paris Match photographer a few miles from the scene of the ambush in which ten French paratroopers were killed 30 miles from Kabul on 18 August. It showed Taliban fighters, who claimed to be part of the force which attacked the French troops. One of them was entirely dressed above the waist in French uniform, helmet, goggles and bullet-proof vest.

Further pictures in the magazine's ten-page spread showed Farouki, the "leader" of the Taliban force amid seven young men holding assault rifles and other "trophies" taken from the bodies of the French soldiers. Anger and revulsion in France at the pictures was deepened when the newspaper Le Monde reported this afternoon that Taliban fighters had cut the throats of four of the French soldiers as they lay wounded on the ground.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Skanda » 08 Sep 2008 16:05

How the Taliban gave a French lesson
French press interviews with survivors of the ambush describe a rapid breakdown in command and communications, with Taliban marksmen taking down French soldiers at will. Among the first to be killed were the deputy section leader and the radioman of the advance unit. The warrant officer in command was shot in the shoulder. Soon afterwards, the paratroopers' radio communication with the RMT broke down.

Heavily outnumbered, the French remained pinned down and under fire from small arms, machine guns and rocket launchers for four hours without reinforcements. Ammunition for all weapons other than their assault rifles ran out as the soldiers were unable to reach supplies still in their vehicles, although a VAB with a section from the 35e Regiment d'Artillerie Parachutiste in the rear of the column was able to deploy the vehicle's machine gun and four 120mm mortars in support.

Some of the wounded alleged that their unit was hit by fire from their Afghan allies and NATO aircraft. Fire from A-10 Thunderbolts was directed by the American special forces while a pair of F-15 fighters passed through without using their weapons because the French and Taliban were too closely intertwined.

An initial attempt by American helicopters to evacuate the wounded failed due to heavy fire. French EC725 Caracal helicopters arrived to provide fire support - one helicopter brought in a doctor and 10 French commandos from the rapid reaction force in Kabul. A group leader from the rapid reaction force who arrived after a 90-minute drive through difficult terrain described the situation on his arrival; "We couldn't see the enemy and we didn't know how many of them there were. We started climbing, but after 20 minutes we started coming under fire from the rear. We were surrounded."

Mortars (81mm) also arrived with the reinforcements but helicopters were unable to evacuate the wounded until 8pm. Six hours after the ambush began, Taliban fighters began to break off, though many remained in the area, launching a last attack at 9am the next day.

Despite official assurances that nearly all the casualties occurred in the first minutes of the ambush, other accounts suggested that four soldiers were captured before being killed by Taliban fighters. An investigative report by French weekly Le Canard enchaine claimed that the column's interpreter disappeared only hours before the operation began, suggesting the French troops were betrayed either by the interpreter or by Afghan troops attached to the column. The report repeated the claim four French soldiers were captured and executed by the Taliban shortly after the ambush began.

During the rescue of the wounded, an armored car of the RMT overturned when the road collapsed and the vehicle fell into a ravine, killing a Kanak trooper from New Caledonia and injuring four others. A medic from the 2eme Regiment Etranger Parachutiste (Foreign Legion) was also killed after making several forays to bring in wounded comrades from the 8th RPIMa.

Unlike the first-hand accounts carried by the press, French Defense Minister Herve Morin insisted that reinforcements were sent within 20 minutes and there were no indications of friendly fire. Pentagon and NATO spokesmen also denied having any evidence of such incidents. The Afghan Ministry of Defense stated that 13 Taliban fighters, including one Pakistani, were killed in the battle. Some French officers claimed 40 to 70 militants were killed, but acknowledged finding only one body. Claude Gueant, general secretary of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, maintained "the majority of the assailants were not Afghans".

A Taliban statement entitled "New and Interesting Information on the Killing and Wounding of the French Soldiers in Surubi" claimed that hundreds of Taliban fighters using heavy and light weapons had overwhelmed a French infantry battalion of 100 men and 18 tanks (APCs?) and other military vehicles. The statement describes the infliction of "hundreds" of French casualties and the destruction of five tanks and eight other military vehicles before locals descended to loot abandoned French weapons.

The region in which the attack took place is considered a stronghold of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami movement, which also issued a claim of responsibility for the attack.

In the aftermath of the attack, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner declared, "Nobody is thinking of leaving Afghanistan," but added a few days later, "We need what is called 'Afghanization', that's to say, to pass responsibilities, all responsibilities, as quickly as possible to the Afghans."

The ambush and recent suicide attacks on American outposts reveal an escalation in the violence and effectiveness of Taliban attacks on Western forces in Afghanistan. Added to the steady attrition of NATO, ISAF and US personnel, these new attacks are intended to remind the West that despite seven years of campaigning, the Taliban are as strong as ever. Since the ambush, the French deployment in Afghanistan has come under sharp criticism from the public, the press and opposition politicians.

This has turned out to be a PR disaster for the French.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 08 Sep 2008 18:41

How to lose friends and win defeat! ... nistan.usa

US air power triples deaths of Afghan civilians, says reportRichard Norton-Taylor The Guardian, Monday September 8 2008

An injured Afghan boy is put on a stretcher at a hospital in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan. Photograph: Nesar Ahmad

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan from US and Nato air strikes have nearly tripled over the past year, with the onslaught continuing in 2008 and fuelling a public backlash, a leading human rights group says today.

The report by Human Rights Watch says that despite changes in the rules of engagement which had reduced the rate of civilian casualties since a spike in July last year, air strikes killed at least 321 civilians in 2007, compared with at least 116 in 2006. In the first seven months of this year at least 540 Afghan civilians were killed in fighting related to the armed conflict, with at least 119 killed by US or Nato air strikes, such as this July's attack on a wedding party which killed 47, says Human Rights Watch.

'Everyday life is ever more difficult'

"There has been a massive and unprecedented surge in the use of air power in Afghanistan in 2008," the report says. It found that few civilians casualties were the result of planned air strikes on suspected Taliban targets. Instead, most were from air strikes during rapid response missions mostly carried out in support of "troops in contact" - ground troops under insurgent attack. Such strikes included situations where American special forces - normally small in number and lightly armed - came under insurgent attack.

"In response to increased insurgent activity, twice as many tons of bombs were dropped in 2007 than in 2006," the report says. "In 2008, the pace has increased: in the months of June and July alone the US dropped approximately as much as it did in all of 2006. Without improvements in planning, intelligence, targeting, and identifying civilian populations, the massive use of air power in Afghanistan will continue to lead to unacceptably high civilian casualties."

"Mistakes by the US and Nato have dramatically decreased public support for the Afghan government and the presence of international forces providing security to Afghans," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. The report criticises the response given by US officials when civilian deaths occur. Before conducting investigations, US officials often immediately deny responsibility for civilian deaths or place all blame on the Taliban, the report says.

US investigations have been "unilateral, ponderous, and lacking in transparency, undercutting rather than improving relations with local populations and the Afghan government".

Last night the US military announced it would reopen its investigation of an air strike last month in which the Afghan government says 90 civilians, mainly women and children, were killed. An initial US inquiry found that up to 35 suspected insurgents and seven civilians died in the attack on Azizabad in Herat province, but General David McKiernan, the senior US officer in Afghanistan, announced a review in the light of "new information". Afghan and western officials say that videos of the bombing's aftermath shows dozens of dead civilians.

Interactive: America's forgotten war

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby sum » 08 Sep 2008 19:06

Heavily outnumbered, the French remained pinned down and under fire from small arms, machine guns and rocket launchers for four hours without reinforcements. Ammunition for all weapons other than their assault rifles ran out as the soldiers were unable to reach supplies still in their vehicles, although a VAB with a section from the 35e Regiment d'Artillerie Parachutiste in the rear of the column was able to deploy the vehicle's machine gun and four 120mm mortars in support.

Were these trapped/executed "paratroopers" from the foreign legion?

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Avinash R » 08 Sep 2008 20:51

India completes strategic Afghan road, vows engagement
Mon, Sep 8 05:05 PM

By Sanjeev Miglani

KABUL (Reuters) - India has completed construction of a strategic road linking landlocked Afghanistan with a port in Iran, India's envoy said, reflecting New Delhi's resolve to remain engaged despite a deadly embassy bombing in July.

The 220-km (135-mile) road in the southwest Afghan province of Nimroz is the centrepiece of New Delhi's $1.1 billion reconstruction effort, which has drawn sniping from Pakistan, worried about its rival's growing influence in Afghanistan.

"We are in the process of handing over the road to the Afghan government," said Ambassador Jayant Prasad in an interview, adding this was a project in which India had invested blood and treasure.

Ten workers have died in attacks, including seven this year, during the construction of the road from Delaram to Zaranj on the Iranian border which connects to the port of Chahbahar.

The road opens up an alternate access route into landlocked Afghanistan, which at the moment relies mostly on Pakistan with goods coming through from ports there and then overland via the Khyber pass.

More than $1.2 billion worth of goods were imported into Afghanistan through Pakistan last year.

New Delhi, denied access through Pakistan, itself hopes to be able to deliver goods to Afghanistan through the Iranian port, and this has triggered fears in Pakistan it is being encircled.

"The road is part of a long-running commitment to the people of Afghanistan and it is something that has been welcomed by the people," Prasad said, citing a survey done by a foreign consultancy which ranked India high among foreign nations operating in Afghanistan because of its involvement in reconstruction work.

New Delhi has no troops and very little involvement in Afghan security except for hosting Afghan National Army officers for courses in military institutions in India.

But the suicide bombing at the Indian embassy in Kabul in July in which at least 58 people, including two Indian diplomats, were killed, underscored the tensions that lay beneath.

New Delhi and the Afghan government blamed Pakistan's Inter- Services Intelligence for the blast, an allegation backed by the U.S. which said there was evidence of involvement. Pakistan angrily rejected the charges.

The attack also stirred fears South Asia's nuclear-armed neighbours had taken their rivalry to Afghanistan in a proxy war.

"Our response to the attack is we will carry on doing what we have been," Prasad said.

"We were attacked for that reason, we were certainly not attacked because people were hostile to us here."

He said there had been an outpouring of sympathy from Afghans following the bombings, with one provincial governor calling him to say Afghans and Indians, "united by a bond of sweat earlier, were now united in blood."

The envoy also defended India's decision on running missions in Mazar-I-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Jalalabad, which Islamabad says have been established to carry out hostile activities.

"Can five or six people in a consulate de-stabilise a whole nation, is that possible?" Prasad countered.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Avinash R » 10 Sep 2008 16:24

Taliban trying al-qaeda tactics. after the madrid bomb blasts aq successfully made spain withdraw from iraq. the party which sent spanish troops to iraq lost elections. similar intimidation tactic on the eve of canadian elections being tried.
Taliban tells next Canadian PM to abandon US
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Toronto: As Canadians get set to elect a new government next month, the Taliban has asked the next prime minister to stop following the US and pull his troops out of Afghanistan.

Warning Canada not to follow the US any more, Taliban spokesman Qari Muhammad Yussef Tuesday said: "Yes, I know that the election is being held in Canada. That is why our attacks on Canadians have increased. My suggestion for the next prime minister is to withdraw Canadians from Afghanistan."

Canada, which has 2,500 soldiers fighting insurgents in Afghanistan's Kandahar province, has lost 97 soldiers so far. It plans to send 200 more to man newly inducted surveillance equipment. The spokesman said the Taliban knew the stand of the current prime minister on Afghanistan but was clueless about where other parties stood

"When any of these party leaders come to power, the first thing they must do is ask the Canadians to come from Afghanistan to Canada," he said. The Taliban spokesman refused to make a similar appeal to the next American president. "American elections are just a fixed game. Their policies were made 20 years ago. Whoever will be the leader, he will be playing the same role - I mean a negative role," said Yussef.

Just three weeks ago, the Taliban had issued an open letter to the Canadian public, warning that either they force their government to quit Afghanistan or face increased attacks on their troops and aid workers in the insurgency-wracked country. The threat was issued after the killing of two Canadian aid workers in an ambush near Kabul.

In that open letter, the Taliban had said: "The Afghans did not go to Canada to kill the Canadians. Rather, it is the Canadians who came to Afghanistan to kill and torture the Afghans. "Therefore, you have to convince your government to put an end to the occupation of Afghanistan, so that the Afghans are not killed with your hands and so that you are not killed by the hands of the Afghans."

The insurgent outfit had added that "Afghanistan has to try to have good relations with you. But if your government continues a reversed policy, the Afghans will be obliged to kill your nationals, in revenge for their brothers, their sisters, and their children. Events such as Lugar will happen again".

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 10 Sep 2008 16:39

Bush is withdrawing troops from Iraq order to send them to Afghanistan,which is the real prize.The call last year for its fighters to return to Afghanistan from Iraq,where the Taliban/AlQ were making major gains,has seen the fortunes of the US/NATO dramatically decline.Losses have been mounting and US air raids have been so indiscriminate and criminal,that hundreds of innocents,mainly women and children have been killed.This has weakened the govt. of Karzai too,which can control only Kabul-that too with difficulty,as the attack on the Indian embassy showed us.

The global community has to "win" in Afghanistan for the sake of defeating international Islamist terrorism.However,these ungodly species in the Afghan region have huge strategic depth that is "Pakistan"!The whole of Pakistan,thanks to the ISI and Paki army have heretofore been winking at the acts of the jihadis and Taliban.The tightening of the screws on Gen.Musharrat saw the absurdity of the situation,with the Paki army lacklusterly attacking the ungodly in the tribal areas,while secretly supporting it against US/NATO forces in Afghanistan! How the new Pak Pres.Zardari will handle this absurdity is going to be a treat to watch.His chief adviser is US ambassador,Zalmay Khalizad,whose CV indicates that he has long been a troubleshooter serving CIA interests,especially being the highest ranking Muslim in the State Dept.With such friends,Uncle Sam's fatal "kiss of death" might very well strike down Zardari as he attempts to bring the army and the ISI to heel and consolidate his power also fighting off the challenge from an embittered Nawaz Sharif who has got so far from Zardari only broken promises.The Afghan situ is going to get more exciting in the days to come as the grunts gather to battle.
Bush limits Iraq troop withdrawal to 8,000 and orders 'quiet surge' in Afghanistan·
Obama says president's move 'comes up short'
· US commander warned against bigger cuts

Ewen MacAskill in Washington

US troops conduct a foot patrol along the Tigris river south of Baghdad, Iraq. Photograph: David Furst/AFP/Getty images

President George Bush punctured hopes of a big reduction in US troops in Iraq yesterday when he announced the withdrawal of 8,000 troops by February, and only a small troop increase for Afghanistan.

Although he acknowledged that the Taliban and al-Qaida are posing more of a threat in Afghanistan, Bush ordered only an extra marine battalion and army combat brigade, amounting to just a few thousand troops, into the country. He described the reinforcements as "a quiet surge".

In what will probably be his last big decision about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars that have defined his presidency, Bush basically left a decision about deployments to the next president, who takes office on January 20.

Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, described Bush's moves as "modest" and "coming up short". He said that Bush had failed to recognise the urgency of the situation in Afghanistan because the new brigade was not due to arrive until February.

Bush's speech to the National Defence University, in Washington, dashed speculation over the last few months that he planned a huge reduction of US forces in Iraq before he left office so he could go out on a high note.

Bush said there had been improvements in security in Iraq over the last year. "Here is the bottom line: while the enemy in Iraq is still dangerous, we have seized the offensive, and Iraqi forces are becomingly increasingly capable of leading and winning the fight." He cited Anbar province, once one of the centres of unrest, as a success, with violence down 90%, and said that violence in the country as a whole was at its lowest since spring 2004.

Bush and the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, would have liked to have seen tens of thousands of troops brought home. But Bush was forced to rethink his plans after a briefing from the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, that such a huge reduction would be premature and would endanger the improved security. Petraeus advocated keeping troops at the same level until June. But Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said the risk posed by withdrawing some troops earlier than that was minimal.

McCain had wanted significant reductions in order to blunt Obama's pledge to pull all US combat troops out of Iraq within 16 months of becoming president. Obama has also said that Bush and McCain underestimate the threat posed by the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has promised a significant reinforcement of US troops in Afghanistan.

There are 157,000 US troops in Iraq and Kuwait, of whom 146,000 are in Iraq. The withdrawal announced yesterday will reduce the total in Iraq to 138,000, more than when Bush ordered an extra 31,000 troops to Iraq in January last year, which he said would be a year-long deployment.

A marine battalion, numbering about 1,000 troops, is to go home from Iraq in November and not be replaced. An army brigade of between 3,500 and 4,000 troops will leave in February. About 3,400 support troops are also to be withdrawn before February.

A marine battalion, numbering about 1,000, is to go to Afghanistan to join the 34,000 US troops there. Although Bush did not specify numbers, the army brigade that will arrive in February could amount to about 3,000-4,000.

The Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives armed services committee, Ike Skelton, welcomed the reduction but said Bush was deferring the strategic decision until the next presidency.

"More significant troop reductions in Iraq are needed so that we can start to rebuild US military readiness and provide the additional forces needed to finish the fight in Afghanistan," he said.

The Democratic senate leader, Harry Reid, who has been pressing for an early withdrawal of all US combat troops from Iraq, said he was "stunned" so few troops were being brought home and over the failure to address the danger posed in Afghanistan. "As Democrats have been saying for years and as I saw with my own eyes last month, violence in Afghanistan has surged because Bush-McCain Republicans have all but ignored the true central front of the war on terror while keeping the bulk of our troops tied down in Iraq."

Petraeus may have planned, as the US media has reported, to recommend a bigger cutback in US forces in Iraq. But events may have forced him to alter this, such as Georgia pulling its 2,000 troops out of Iraq to confront the threat posed by Russia.

PS:How the Russians must be laughing! During the last two centuries,the "Great Game" was played between Imperial Britain and Imperial Russia.Later on during the Cold War,the Soviets got bogged down there making their Afghan misadventure their equivalent of the US's folly in Vietnam."Back to the future",was Britain's sterling cry,as with imperial splendour and marching to the wail of the pipes and the rattle of the drums,Blair piggybacked a ride on Crusader Dubya's shoulders into old "Mespot" ,now Iraq, and back even into Afghan's plains that outed the poet in Kipling.Crusader Dubya's evangelical call to arms has had fatal attraction for his posse partners,who in the form of the onward "Christain soldiers" of NATO,Canadian,Korean troops and an assortment of fellow believers, have heard his version of the "Sermon on the Mounts (Kush and Karakorum)"! No miraculous baskets of bread and fishes for his camp followers and no victory over the evil angel Osama either.The Rev. Dubya has provided them with only blood and tears and is still "surging" ahead with his mission,even as he prepares to exit the House of White for his promised land in Texas!

Did I hear the cry the "Russian are coming"? Sorry,that was in Georgia!

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby putnanja » 11 Sep 2008 05:13

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby ashish raval » 11 Sep 2008 13:05

Nice find.

Ancient 'sleeping Buddha' found in Afghanistan
2 days ago

KABUL (AFP) — An Afghan archaeologist has discovered the remains of an ancient 19-metre-long (62-foot) "sleeping Buddha" in central Afghanistan's Bamiyan a government official said Monday.

A team led by Zameryalai Tarzi had been searching for a fabled lying statue that measures 300 metres when they made the discovery, information and culture ministry advisor Mohammad Zia Afshar told AFP.

"The team found an 18- to 19 metre-long sleeping Buddha statue and 89 other relics, among them three coins from Greek, Bactrian and Islamic eras," he said.

A book written by a Chinese pilgrim who visited Afghanistan centuries ago suggested there existed a 300-metre-long Buddha in a sleeping posture in Bamiyan, which was once a centre for Buddhism.

Archaeologists had renewed their search for it after the collapse of Taliban regime in late 2001, which bombed and destroyed two giant standing Buddhas that were believed to be around 1,600 years old.

"The team excavated areas southeast of the 35-metre-tall destroyed Buddha and discovered the neck and right shoulder of a sleeping Buddha statue," said Afshar. He did not say when the discovery was made.

Bamiyan, about 140 kilometres (90 miles) northwest of Kabul, is on the ancient Silk Route between Europe and Central Asia.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Raghz » 12 Sep 2008 13:06

Posted in full as somethings have to be...

LEADER ARTICLE: Keep Up The Good Work
12 Sep 2008, 0105 hrs IST, G PARTHASARATHY

On June 24, the Afghan authorities informed the Indian embassy in Kabul that a suicide bombing of the embassy premises was imminent. Within hours, work to barricade the embassy began. Given the location of the embassy in the middle of a crowded shopping area and directly opposite the Afghan passport office, completely blocking the thoroughfare was impossible. Then as we all know a suicide bomber struck on July 7.

Unfortunately, the gates of the embassy had just opened for a car carrying two officials. Both these officers, two security personnel and 54 others died in the bomb attack. But thanks to the barricading work undertaken earlier, the entire embassy was saved from destruction.

Preliminary investigations reportedly revealed that the bomber was from Manshera in Pakistan and that the explosives used were manufactured in the Pakistan Ordnance Factory in Wah. Though investigators are tight-lipped, there appears to be evidence of involvement of the Pakistan consulate in Kandahar and ISI outfits within Pakistan in the bomb blast. Outraged that despite their presence, such a bombing had taken place in Afghanistan's capital, the Americans reportedly provided transcripts of communications between the ISI and the perpetrators to the Pakistan government.

The New York Times reported on September 7 that American officials had confirmed that the ISI had helped Taliban commander Jalaluddin Haqqani's fighters to bomb the Indian embassy in Kabul. The attack on the embassy followed attacks on Indian consulates in Kandahar and Jalalabad and on road construction crews building the strategic

Delaram-Zaranj road, which will link landlocked Afghanistan to the Iranian port of Chah Bahar, depriving Pakistan of being Afghanistan's sole outlet to the sea. The Americans and NATO could become more effective if Iran and Russia augment their efforts to stabilise Afghanistan.

Undeterred by the bombing, India's ambassador in Kabul, Jayant Prasad, and his colleagues set about their work. Within six days the embassy began issuing visas to the public.

Despite being told that those who so wished could leave Afghanistan, not a single embassy official chose to do so. Moreover, the estimated 3,700 Indians now working across Afghanistan in development projects with minimal security made it clear that they would not be deterred by terrorist violence. They are our unsung heroes in one of the most effective foreign economic assistance programmes India has ever undertaken. It is because of their efforts that in a recent poll in Afghanistan, 80 per cent of those polled expressed "strong approval" of India and its assistance programme - a development that the Taliban and its mentors in Rawalpindi evidently find unbearable.

India's imprint in Afghanistan is visible across the country. Over 400 Tata buses and 200 minibuses gifted by India ply in major towns and cities. Over one million children benefit from high-protein biscuits supplied by India through the World Food Programme. The Indira Gandhi hospital in Kabul, destroyed by the Taliban, has been reopened. Five Indian medical teams provide medical care to thousands of Afghans across the country. Afghanistan has restarted its airlines with three Indian Airbus aircraft.

Indian engineers from the Power Grid Corporation have braved the cold and terrorist attacks to construct a 220 KV transmission line to Kabul across rugged mountainous terrain.

Indian engineers are reconstructing the 42 MW Salma dam project in the Herat province. Indian technicians have restored and modernised telecommunication networks across Afghanistan. Over 2,000 Afghan nationals have undergone training in India in diverse fields. The Indian assistance programme is today internationally recognised as the most people-oriented and cost-effective programme in Afghanistan, an achievement New Delhi can be proud of.

One senses deep anger across Afghanistan at what is perceived as unwarranted Pakistani assistance to the Taliban. Not just Afghans, but even the UN, US and NATO officials in Afghanistan are angry at having been "double-crossed" by Pervez Musharraf. Equally, while there is recognition that Afghanistan would collapse and see the return of the Taliban if American and NATO forces leave, there is growing anger at casualties from indiscriminate use of air power and crude house-to-house searches by US forces.

The Americans have belatedly commenced arming and equipping the Afghan National Army, which is becoming an increasingly effective national force. The Afghan army could, over the next six to eight years, take on the bulk of anti-Taliban operations.

But, other institutions like the Afghan National Police remain ineffective, corrupt and unpopular. The Taliban controls large areas of rural Afghanistan. With Afghanistan headed for presidential elections in 2009, this exercise could hardly be called democratic as the constitution excludes political parties from participation in national life.

The main worry for Afghanistan is across the border. Tensions along Afghanistan's borders with Pakistan are set to escalate as the Americans appear determined to hit at Taliban and al-Qaeda hideouts and bases in Pakistan's tribal areas. Pakistani forces, which continue cross-border support to the Taliban, would also face American retribution. But for the international effort in Afghanistan to succeed, it is imperative for Indians to continue the good work they are doing. At the same time, as evidence grows of ISI involvement in the embassy bombing of July 7, India should prepare the ground to get the Pakistan army and the ISI declared as international terrorist organisations by the UN Security Council.

The writer, who was India's high commissioner to Pakistan, was recently in Afghanistan.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Singha » 12 Sep 2008 15:22

No matter what the global differences with US, it would be insane for Russia to make life
difficult for NATO in afghanistan. if the ISAF cuts and runs, the Kabul govt will last for 2 weeks
before it becomes the pre-taliban era for 2 more weeks followed by a pakiban advance to the
old frontlines near Tajik border.

uzbekistan and CAR region will feel the heat in 10 milisecs.

instead, wild tribes and CAR nomads must be gathered and trained into the vostok/zapad
type militias under the rein of charismatic pro-Rus/pro-NATO warlords and paid a cash
bounty in gold or dollars for every pakiban head they bring back in bag - in x-border raids
if they want to.

and ISAF has to expand and increase the ferocity of x-border incursions to wipe off the
pakibans rear areas - drive them into the towns and cities where they will fall upon the
FC, PA, civilians and the Pak govt in anger.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Skanda » 12 Sep 2008 16:09

Pentagon admits Afghan strategy not succeeding
The U.S. military conceded it was not winning the fight against an increasingly deadly insurgency in Afghanistan and said on Wednesday it would revise its strategy to combat militant safe havens in Pakistan.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee success in Afghanistan would require more civilian effort beyond the military fight.

"Frankly, we're running out of time," Mullen said.

"I'm not convinced we are winning it in Afghanistan. I am convinced we can," he said, offering a sober assessment nearly seven years since U.S.-led forces toppled the Taliban after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Skanda » 12 Sep 2008 16:09


Avinash R
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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Avinash R » 14 Sep 2008 19:22

Afghanistan blames vendetta for civilian deaths
By JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writer 1 minute ago

KABUL, Afghanistan - An American military operation that killed up to 90 civilians was based on false information provided by a rival tribe and did not kill "a single Taliban," the president's spokesman said Sunday.

Afghan police arrested three suspects accused of giving the U.S. military false information that led to the bombardment of the village of Azizabad, the Afghan Interior Ministry has announced.

"There was total misinformation fed to the coalition forces," Humayun Hamidzada, the spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, told The Associated Press.

The Aug. 22 bombing has strained the U.S.-Afghan relationship, Hamidzada said. An Afghan government commission found that up to 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, a finding backed by a preliminary U.N. report.

The operation, conducted by U.S. Special Forces and Afghan soldiers, hit Afghan employees of a British security firm and their family members — the reason the military recovered guns during the operation, Hamidzada said.

The U.S. has said the raid targeted and killed a known militant commander named Mullah Sidiq, but villagers of Azizabad say their homes were targeted because of false information provided by a rival tribesman named Nader Tawakil.

An Afghan parliamentarian has said Tawakil is in the protective custody of U.S. forces; the coalition has declined to comment.

"How the information was gathered, how it was misfed, and their personal animosity led to trying to use the international forces for their own political disputes, which led to a disastrous event and caused a strain on the relationship of the Afghan government and international forces," Hamidzada said. He said not "a single Taliban" was killed.

"So it was a total disaster, and it made it even worse when there were denials, total denials."

The U.S. at first said that 30 militants and no civilians were killed in the operation. A formal military investigation into the incident found it killed up to 35 militants and seven civilians.

But after video images showing at least 10 dead children and up to 40 other dead villagers surfaced last week, the U.S. said it would send a one-star general from the United States to investigate the strike.

Afghanistan's Interior Ministry on Friday said three suspects had been arrested for allegedly giving false information to the American military, but it did not say who was arrested. Hamidzada and the Interior Ministry spokesman have also declined to say who was arrested.

A U.S. military spokeswoman did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the arrests.

Villagers had gathered for a memorial ceremony in Azizabad on Aug. 22 to honor a tribal leader named Timor Shah, who was allegedly killed by Tawakil, the rival tribesman, about eight months ago. Villagers said families had traveled to Azizabad from around the region for the ceremony, one of the reasons why so many children were killed.

The top NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Richard Blanchette, has said the U.S. coalition, U.N. and Afghan government would hold a joint investigation, but Hamidzada said the Afghan government would not take part.

"The Afghan government did not agree to a three-way investigation, because we have already completed two investigations," he said. "We have the facts. There is no need to go around to the village and actually harass people one more time and remind them of the terrible ordeal they went through. We have the facts straight, we have all the information."

Karzai has long pleaded with international forces to reduce the number of civilians killed in operations, and now the government is studying its "status of force" agreement governing U.S. and NATO operations in the country. Afghan officials are also reviewing the use of airstrikes by international forces.

Hamidzada said there are ways of killing Taliban without hurting civilians.

"If we only rely on air raids, we know these are not accurate, we know the potential for civilian casualties is extremely high," he said. "So there has to be a combination of ground forces and the use of Afghan military forces. But you cannot just conduct operations from the air alone, because you hurt civilians."

In violence on Sunday, a suicide bomber in a vehicle attacked a convoy carrying Afghan doctors working for the United Nations in southern Afghanistan on Sunday, killing two doctors and their driver, officials said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Also in the Afghan south, a British soldier was killed in an explosion on Saturday, the Ministry of Defense said.

Elsewhere, seven children died after ordnance they were playing with exploded, and militants ambushed and killed seven police, officials said.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 16 Sep 2008 17:22

Gen.Petraeus,the intellectual general who it must be admitted has reduced the level of conflict in Iraq,though not able to defeat it ("only 11 US deaths last month!),is moving to Afghanistan to save the war there.Perhaps the main reason for the reduced level of conflict in Iraq is due to the call made by the leadership of Al Q,for their fighters and sympathisers to rush back to Afghanistan which was their former unassailable HQ.Al Q has been handicapped severly by losing its base and HQ of Kabul,thanks to the US led invasion to oust the Taliban and Al Q after 9/11.The US administration of Bush & Co. took their eyes off the Afghan War in order to complete its long desired neo-con wish to conquer Iraq and all its petro reserves,the world's second largest.But it was unable to control Iraq effectively and sending Gen.Petraeus there was a last ditch attempt to stem the rot.Al Q meanwhile with its reinforcements from Iraq have made merry in Afghanistan and have deftly based themselves in the badlands of Pak ,the FATA and NWFP areas,thanks to Paki assistance from local sympathisers and recruits and the ISI.Combining forces,these ungodly elements have a common cause,the defeat of US/NATO forces and their perceived puppet,Karzai amd the re-establishment of Taliban rule over Afghanistan along with Al Q. ... 761445.ece

General David Petraeus takes on Afghanistan
Iraqi soldiers play at a farewell ceremony for General David Petraeus, who was hailed a hero for his success in Iraq

Tim Albone in Baghdad
He is credited with taming the violence in Iraq, rewriting American counter-insurgency strategy and salvaging the reputation of the US military.

When General David Petraeus steps down today as the commander of US forces in Iraq however, he will have little time to savour the plaudits from fellow soldiers and the Bush Administration.

Instead the politically savvy paratrooper will swap the Iraqi frying pan for the Afghan fire. General Petraeus will take command of all US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia and with it the unenviable task of turning round the increasingly desperate fight faced by US and Nato forces in Afghanistan — a war that he conceded was “headed in the wrong direction”.

The general was hailed as “the hero of the hour” by the US Defence Secretary, Robert Gates, for appearing to have pulled Iraq back from the brink of civil war after he successfully oversaw a surge of 30,000 extra US troops into the country.

Petraeus reveals plans to scale back Iraq troops
US Iraq general wants indefinite troops freeze
When General Petraeus took on his role almost 19 months ago Iraq was heading towards sectarian civil war. “The violence was horrific and the fabric of society was being torn apart,” he said.

The general developed an approach to counter-insurgency and was responsible for expanding combat outposts — platoon-sized bases in areas where insurgents previously had freedom of movement. He said: “You can't secure the people if you don't live with them.”

It remains to be seen if he can have the same impact in Afghanistan, where violence has increased since the Taleban were overthrown in 2001.

The outgoing Bush Administration and both US presidential candidates promised to send thousands of US reinforcements to the country, although the nature of the conflict was very different.

“We've got a situation in Afghanistan where clearly there have been trends headed in the wrong direction,” General Petraeus said. “Military action is absolutely necessary but it is not sufficient.”

“Political, economic and diplomatic activity is critical to capitalise on gains in the security arena,” he told the BBC.

At a ceremony in Baghdad today the general will hand command of US troops in Iraq to his former deputy, Lieutenant-General Ray Odierno who, on acceptance, will be promoted to general.

General Petraeus gave warning that US troops still faced a “long struggle” to rid Iraq of violence. Despite violence being at its lowest since 2004 the volatile security situation was illustrated yesterday by two simultaneous suicide bombs in Baghdad and another in Baquba. The attacks claimed 32 lives.

As a deputy to General Petraeus, General Odierno was one of the chief architects of the surge and first proposed it to a resistant Pentagon in 2006.

“Just as important as the surge was the change in our tactics: techniques and procedures got us back out in the neighbourhoods,” General Odierno said at the end of his 15-month tour in March.

At 6ft 5in the large frame and shaved head mark out General Odierno as a military man. He served in the Gulf War in 1991 and was a deputy commander of an army task force in Albania during the Nato air war over Kosovo in 1999. His greatest achievement was when his troops captured Saddam Hussein.

During this time he was criticised for alienating much of the population. It is believed that his troops paid little attention to hearts-and-minds operations, often under-taking massarrests and cordoning off whole villages, alienating Sunni villagers.

One of the first tasks for General Odierno will be to oversee the scaling-back of America's 146,000 troops. By January 8,000 would have left the country and further cutbacks are likely as focus shifts to Afghanistan.

Another potential problem is that the Sons of Iraq, a Sunni militia group paid by the US to help to keep the peace and hunt al-Qaeda, could be disbanded when the Shia-dominated Iraqi Government takes control of it. If disbanded, the former insurgents could go back to fighting US and Iraqi forces.

Petraeus’s command


January 11 Surge of US troops announced

February 10 David Petraeus appointed commander of the Multinational Force in Iraq

May 126 US deaths, most in one month since 2004

August The Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr calls for ceasefire


February 22 Al-Sadr extends ceasefire

April 8 Petraeus describes “significant but uneven” progress in Iraq

July Petraeus confirmed as head of Central Command in Iraq, month ends with 11 US deaths, lowest ever

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 18 Sep 2008 18:32

Afghanistan's forgotten frontline ... 33979.html

So often overshadowed by Nato losses, the Afghan National Army is also suffering casualties says Terri Judd.

By Terri Judd in Garmsir, Helmand.
Thursday, 18 September 2008

Sergeant Abdul Nassir, 22, insisted: "We are here to serve our country. We will die for freedom. We want to clean our country from terrorists. We want to clean our country from Pakistan."

US seeking sole command of Nato's war against the Taliban
US drone strikes in Pakistan hours after sovereignty pledge

Five weeks ago Private Noorulah gave a string of prayer beads to his commanding officer as a token of friendship and respect.

A few days later he was standing sentry at a patrol base when a 14-year-old suicide bomber approached. The 25-year-old Warrior – as the Afghans call their lowest rank - shot the teenager but not before another boy, believed to be just nine, remotely detonated the explosives killing Noorulah and a fellow soldier.

"He worked in my office for me. He was a very good man. He saved a lot of lives that day," said Lieutenant Colonel Abdulhai Neshat. Clutching an invisible set of beads with a pained, guilt-ridden look, he explained that he had searched high and low for this precious memento from his dead soldier, but somehow it had disappeared.

Lt Col Neshat has grown used to coping with loss of his soldiers. He keeps their photographs but does not display them for fear of harming morale amongst his remaining troops.

"My first loss was ten months ago, Sergeant Anwar. He was quiet and calm, a very brave man. The day before he died he was near Gereshk and he called me and told me ‘Don't worry I will stay here and I will look after things'. The next day he was killed by a mine," he explained, adding that the 30-year-old had a wife and three children in Kabul.

"It is always very difficult when you see the wife and children and they are crying and looking at you, hoping you will say their father or brother is alright. It is very difficult to upset them," continued the commanding officer.

Daily the western press details the deadly toll on Nato soldiers battling in Afghanistan, highlighting the suffering of families left without a husband, father or son. But the Afghan National Army (ANA) troops who perish alongside them are rarely more than a statistic in print. Isaf headquarters cannot seem to provide complete figures for their losses since being formed two years ago. In the last five months the ANA has suffered almost 100 casualties in Helmand province alone - of which 27 were deaths.

The ANA has a current strength of 70,000 nationally and the US has recently endorsed a further 10 billion pounds to build its force up to 122,000 - but it lacks armour, air power or medical support. Last week during flying visit to the country, Gordon Brown said he believed the army would have to be even larger. The Prime Minister also promised Britain would provide more resources for training in Helmand.

A recent article in the Daily Afghanistan, Kabul, said: "Ultimately after seven years, foreign forces have realised that instead of enduring heavy expenses and bearing the brunt of fighting, it will be better to train the Afghan national army to resist against the Taliban and carry out the task of foreign forces in the country."

Lt Col Neshat's battalion – the 3rd Kandak, 4th Brigade – stands at 250, less than half its proposed strength of 600 thanks to training commitments or soldiers going absent without leave. In the past five months they have had eight men killed and 27 seriously injured.

In their immaculately tidy accommodation block within the remote British outpost of Forward Operating Base Delhi in Garmsir, the enthusiastic faces of the ANA Warriors mirror the ethnic diversity of the country. The broad, oriental features of the Hazaras mix in alongside Pashtu and Tajiks, the paler faces of the northern soldiers with the darker skin of their southern brethren – all fighting for one country despite the cacophony of different dialects. Some, older soldiers who once trained under the Russians, are worn by experience and the sun. Others are shockingly fresh faced.

Bashfully grinning as he was pushed to the front, Warrior Kabir Mohammad, shifted from foot to foot in his vastly oversized combat trousers as he explained he was just 15.

But with the bravado of a teenager, he insisted: "Yes, my mother worries about me. But I am in competition with the enemy and I will win."

While many are drawn by the meager $160 monthly salary, Sergeant Abdul Nassir, 22, insisted: "We are here to serve our country. We will die for freedom. We want to clean our country from terrorists. We want to clean our country from Pakistan."

"After 35 years we want to bring peace to our country," added Warrior Myosin Ali, 23.

Major Rob Armstrong, of the 1st Battalion, the Royal Irish, officer commanding the British mentoring team which has been working alongside one of seven Afghan Kandaks in Helmand for the past four months, insisted they had made dramatic progress. Some were ferociously brave and fatalistic, others might cower but slowly they were learning to rely on skill and tactics, not just Allah, to get them through a fight.

"We have been teaching them to be medics but when it happens they run to kill the Taliban," explained Major Armstrong. "They feel it is the will of Allah to decide if a man is injured. We have tried to say maybe Allah wants you to stop him from dying."

Despite an outwardly stern, pragmatic approach to death and injury, the Afghan soldiers admitted to grief at the loss of their men.

Sergeant Major Mohammed Khalid said: "I have lost three men and more are in the hospital at (British Camp) Bastion. I pity my soldiers who have injuries. Every operation I pray to god all my men will come home safe. That is my greatest wish."

Each coffin has been draped in an Afghan flag as it is put on a Hercules plane home, in a poignant repatriation ceremony similar to those for British forces.

"When they get to their home town a defence ministry official will tell the people of their sacrifice. Their family will still be paid their salary," explained Lt Col Neshat, who after 23 years with the Afghan army - bar a break working for a mine charity during the Taliban era - has trained at both a Soviet military academy and an American staff college.

The bond between the Irish mentors and Afghans is obvious in a camp where banter flies between the two armies and "No worries, no curry" has become a catchphrase.

"Their soldiers are exactly the same as ours. Sometimes the men moan about the pay, sometimes they moan about the work," explained Company Sergeant Major Dominic "Brummie" Hagans.

Their fiercest fighting took place this summer when they took over a former Soviet school as a patrol base in Marjah for two days. Seven weeks later they were still battling the Taliban daily, having suffered 27 casualties including Warrior Jamah, 25, who lost his leg in a roadside bomb. With far less protection than their Nato counterparts, their Ford Rangers are an even greater prey to the increase in terrorist roadside bombs.

At one point morale was so low amongst the Afghans that Major Armstrong's team of 100 had been reduced to 66 with many hiding in the back of vehicles leaving the base.

As an officer, he explained, the three keys to commanding were lead by example, compassion and compulsion. The latter he explained did not work with the local army though their officers could be ferocious with their own men.

"It was almost at the point when they were refusing to go on patrol. All the Brits down there were scared and all the ANA were scared. The difference is my British guys were spurred on by a sense of duty. But they know that at the end of six months they can go home. The ANA has to deal with it month in, month out and there is no way out."

Their common sacrifice was brought sharply into focus four weeks ago with the death of 25-year-old Sergeant Jonathan Mathews (or Hubas "excellent" John as the Afghans called him), of the 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, attached to the Royal Irish. Another young Ranger in the Royal Irish lost both legs in a mine strike.

Describing the death of Sergeant Matthews as the worst day of his life, Major Armstrong said he was moved by the number of Afghan officers who came to pay their condolences and ask to be present at the repatriation ceremony.

"They said ‘We have lost soldiers but this one matters to you.' They seemed to acknowledge that we would feel differently at the loss of a British soldier," explained Major Armstrong.

Lt Col Neshat explained that he was grateful to the British for helping him fight "our common enemy. He added: "We just want to send our children to schools, to have hospitals. We just want a normal life like you do."

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 20 Sep 2008 20:31

Robert Fisk's World: Why does the US think it can win in Afghanistan? ... 36185.html
The Taliban are better trained, and – sad to say – increasingly tolerated by the local civilian population

Saturday, 20 September 2008
Poor old Algerians. They are being served the same old pap from their cruel government. In 1997, the Pouvoir announced a "final victory" over their vicious Islamist enemies. On at least three occasions, I reported – not, of course, without appropriate cynicism – that the Algerian authorities believed their enemies were finally beaten because the "terrorists" were so desperate that they were beheading every man, woman and child in the villages they captured in the mountains around Algiers and Oran.

And now they're at it again. After a ferocious resurgence of car bombing by their newly merged "al-Qa'ida in the Maghreb" antagonists, the decrepit old FLN government in Algiers has announced the "terminal phase" in its battle against armed Islamists. As the Algerian journalist Hocine Belaffoufi said with consummate wit the other day, "According to this political discourse ... the increase in attacks represents undeniable proof of the defeat of terrorism. The more terrorism collapsed, the more the attacks increased ... so the stronger (terrorism) becomes, the fewer attacks there will be."

We, of course, have been peddling this crackpot nonsense for years in south-west Asia. First of all, back in 2001, we won the war in Afghanistan by overthrowing the Taliban. Then we marched off to win the war in Iraq. Now – with at least one suicide bombing a day and the nation carved up into mutually antagonistic sectarian enclaves – we have won the war in Iraq and are heading back to re-win the war in Afghanistan where the Taliban, so thoroughly trounced by our chaps seven years ago, have proved their moral and political bankruptcy by recapturing half the country.

It seems an age since Donald "Stuff Happens" Rumsfeld declared,"A government has been put in place (in Afghanistan), and the Islamists are no more the law in Kabul. Of course, from time to time a hand grenade, a mortar explodes – but in New York and in San Francisco, victims also fall. As for me, I'm full of hope." Oddly, back in the Eighties, I heard exactly the same from a Soviet general at the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan – yes, the very same Bagram airbase where the CIA lads tortured to death a few of the Afghans who escaped the earlier Russian massacres. Only "terrorist remnants" remained in the Afghan mountains, the jolly Russian general assured us. Afghan troops, along with the limited Soviet "intervention" forces, were restoring peace to democratic Afghanistan.

And now? After the "unimaginable" progress in Iraq – I am quoting the fantasist who still occupies the White House – the Americans are going to hip-hop 8,000 soldiers out of Mesopotamia and dump another 4,700 into the hellfire of Afghanistan. Too few, too late, too slow, as one of my French colleagues commented acidly. It would need at least another 10,000 troops to hope to put an end to these Taliban devils who are now equipped with more sophisticated weapons, better trained and increasingly – sad to say – tolerated by the local civilian population. For Afghanistan, read Irakistan.

Back in the late 19th century, the Taliban – yes, the British actually called their black-turbaned enemies "Talibs" – would cut the throats of captured British soldiers. Now this unhappy tradition is repeated – and we are surprised! Two of the American soldiers seized when the Taliban stormed into their mountain base on 13 July this year were executed by their captors.

And now it turns out that four of the 10 French troops killed in Afghanistan on 18 August surrendered to the Taliban, and were almost immediately executed. Their interpreter had apparently disappeared shortly before their mission began – no prizes for what this might mean – and the two French helicopters which might have helped to save the day were too busy guarding the hopeless and impotent Afghan President Hamid Karzai to intervene on behalf of their own troops. A French soldier described the Taliban with brutal frankness. "They are good soldiers but pitiless enemies."

The Soviet general at Bagram now has his amanuensis in General David McKiernan, the senior US officer in Afghanistan, who proudly announced last month that US forces had killed "between 30 and 35 Taliban" in a raid on Azizabad near Herat. "In the light of emerging evidence pertaining (sic) to civilian casualties in the ... counter-insurgency operation," the luckless general now says, he feels it "prudent" – another big sic here – to review his original investigation. The evidence "pertaining", of course, is that the Americans probably killed 90 people in Azizabad, most of them women and children. We – let us be frank and own up to our role in the hapless Nato alliance in Afghanistan – have now slaughtered more than 500 Afghan civilians this year alone. These include a Nato missile attack on a wedding party in July when we splattered 47 of the guests all over the village of Deh Bala.

And Obama and McCain really think they're going to win in Afghanistan – before, I suppose, rushing their soldiers back to Iraq when the Baghdad government collapses. What the British couldn't do in the 19th century and what the Russians couldn't do at the end of the 20th century, we're going to achieve at the start of the 21 century, taking our terrible war into nuclear-armed Pakistan just for good measure. Fantasy again.

Joseph Conrad, who understood the powerlessness of powerful nations, would surely have made something of this. Yes, we have lost after we won in Afghanistan and now we will lose as we try to win again. Stuff happens.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 29 Sep 2008 13:00

As mentioned earlier,the Taliban are gunning for all the top leaders and administrators of the Karzai regime in a bid to paralyse the functioning of the govt. and make it unable to counter the ever advancing Taliban mujahids. ... 45288.html

Taliban murders Afghanistan's top policewoman

By Kim Sengupta
Monday, 29 September 2008

Malalai Kakar was shot dead outside her home in Kandahar

The most prominent female police officer in Afghanistan has been murdered by the Taliban, the latest victim in a vicious campaign against women in public life by Muslim fundamentalists.

Malalai Kakar, who specialised in rescuing abused women, was shot dead outside her home in Kandahar in an attack which also left her 15-year-old son, one of her six children, critically injured.

"We killed Malalai Kakar," said a Taliban spokesman, Yousuf Ahmadi "She was our target, and we successfully eliminated our target." The Islamist group had previously carried out several unsuccessful attacks on her life, and those of her female colleagues, before yesterday's lethal ambush.

Ms Kakar, 41, carried a pistol underneath her burqa, which she wore on the way to report for duty at Kandahar's central police station in an attempt not to be recognised by the enemy. However, she had no chance to defend herself or her son when gunmen opened fire as she was leaving for work at around 7.30am, security officials said.

She was killed instantly but her son survived and was in a coma last night.

The Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, described the killing as "an act of cowardice by enemies of peace, welfare and reconstruction in the country". The European Union mission described the act, against someone who was an "example" to her fellow citizens as "particularly abhorrent".

Women's rights groups have, however, repeatedly complained that they have received little protection from either the government or Western forces as they have been subjected to a systematic campaign of intimidation and terror from Muslim hardliners.

At the official end of the Afghan war, America's first lady, Laura Bush, was among those who declared that one of the most important achievements in overthrowing the Taliban was the emancipation of women. However, in the seven years since the "liberation" by invading US and British forces, Afghanistan has seen a steady erosion of womens' rights and the killing of female activists.

Commander Kakar is the second female police officer to be killed in recent months. At the end of June, Bibi Hoor, 26, a lieutenant in the western province of Heart, was shot down after warnings that she must leave her job and leave the area with her family.

But Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, has experienced the most violent backlash. Of five women in public life interviewed by The Independent five years ago, three are now dead and one, the local MP, Zurghana Kakar – no relation to Commander Kakar – has only recently returned to the city after an attack in which her husband was killed.

Commander Kakar had earned particular enmity from the zealots for leading a female team of 10 officers who would carry out raids to free wives and daughters being held captive by their male relatives. Her office became a refuge for women being threatened and mistreated and she regularly challenged orders from conservative judges to force them to return to their families.

During one meeting at the police station she said: "We are trying to apply the law and the constitution is supposed to protect women's rights. But I fear that we are going backwards. More and more obstacles are being put in our path. Instead of becoming more confident, women are becoming more afraid of the threats," she said.

A few months later, one of Commander Kakar's closest friends, Safia Amajan, one of the most senior workers for female rights in the country, was murdered as she was on her way to work. Her execution had been ordered by a mullah in Pakistan and carried out by two men in return for money.

The next time I met Commander Kakar, she said: "We caught the men because they went to the grave to get a lock of Safia's hair because the mullah in Pakistan had wanted proof that she was really dead." She added: "These are the kind of people we are having to fight. They hate any thought of women having freedom. None of us can be safe from such hatred."

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 02 Oct 2008 15:24

The Pentagon and now Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan that "US strategy is failing".Heartening news indeed to the ears of the Taliban,AlQ and the ISI !

Our man in Kabul says "US strategy is failing" and described the ISI as "historically and institutionally complicit" in Taliban activities in Pakistan's tribal areas.

• French weekly reveals ambassador's dispatch ... eignpolicy

• Jihadis flooding into Afghanistan, says generalJulian Borger, diplomatic editor and Simon Tisdall in Washington The Guardian, Thursday October 2 2008

Britain's ambassador to Afghanistan believes the US strategy there is failing, Nato reinforcements would be counter-productive and that it would be better if "an acceptable dictator" came to power in Kabul in the next few years, a French satirical weekly reported yesterday.

The comments attributed to Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles were included in a diplomatic dispatch from a French diplomat in Kabul published by the French weekly, Le Canard Enchaîné, which combines investigative journalism and satire.

Reporting on a meeting on September 2, the French diplomat, Jean-François Fitou, quoted Cowper-Coles as saying: "The American strategy is destined to fail.

"The coalition presence - particularly the military presence - is part of the problem, not the solution," Cowper-Coles is quoted as saying. More Nato troops would have "a perverse effect".

"It would identify us even more clearly as an occupying force and multiply the number of targets [by insurgents]."

According to the published memo, he also says the elected Afghan government of Hamid Karzai had lost all trust, and that it would be a "positive thing" if in five to 10 years, after the departure of British troops, the country was governed by "an acceptable dictator".

A Foreign Office statement issued yesterday said: "It is not for us to comment on something that is presented as extracts from a French diplomatic telegram, but the views quoted are not in any way an accurate representation of the British government's approach. We work closely with our US allies in all aspects of decision making and regularly review our approach."

British officials have expressed deep concern over the security situation in Afghanistan, and have clashed with the US over elements of policy, such as counter-narcotics. The leaked memo has emerged at a time of deepening gloom over the security situation in Afghanistan. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said it had "deteriorated markedly" over the past six months, and pointed to the increasing attacks on aid workers. At least 30 have been killed so far this year.

General David McKiernan, the top US commander in Afghanistan, warned yesterday that militant Islamist jihadis were flooding into the country from all corners of the Muslim world to join the Taliban's fight against the Nato alliance, mostly via Pakistan. "They are very well trained. They are good at attacks on soft targets. They are Uzbeks, Chechens, Punjabis, Arabic [sic], Europeans," he said.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington, McKiernan said efforts were underway to improve cooperation with the Pakistani military and intelligence services to halt the flow of jihadis. While he welcomed recent changes at the top of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, he described the ISI as "historically and institutionally complicit" in Taliban activities in Pakistan's tribal areas.

McKiernan confirmed he was seeking an additional three US combat brigades - approximately 10,500 soldiers - to reinforce the 40-country Nato International Security Assistance Force mission. He said the troops should be deployed as quickly as possible.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby sum » 06 Oct 2008 08:53

Coming to terms with resurgent Taliban

M.K. Bhadrakumar

For the bulk of the Indian strategic community, the unthinkable is happening — the prospect of an Afghan settlement involving the Taliban is increasing.

A sensational expose by an investigative journalist, based on highly sensitive cable traffic last month between the French embassy in Kabul and Quai d’Orsay in Paris, has thrown light on the Afghan war. For us in India, it is especially helpful in spotting the war, otherwise hidden behind the global banking meltdown and the India-United States nuclear deal.

Claude Angeli, veteran journalist of Le Canard Enchaine, got hold of a copy of a coded cable by the French Deputy Chief of Mission in Kabul, Francois Fitou, based on a briefing by the heavyweight British diplomat, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, who serves as ambassador to Afghanistan. What Sir Sherard told Mr. Fitou in confidence is worth recalling:

— “The current situation [in Afghanistan] is bad; the security situation is getting worse; so is corruption and the Government [of Hamid Karzai] has lost all trust.”

— “The foreign forces are ensuring the survival of a regime which would collapse without them … They are slowing down and complicating an eventual exit from the crisis, which will probably be dramatic.”

— “We [NATO allies] should tell them [United States] that we want to be part of a winning strategy, not a losing one. In the short term, we should dissuade the American presidential candidates from getting more bogged down in Afghanistan … The American strategy is doomed to fail.”

— Britain aimed to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan by 2010.

— The only realistic outlook for Afghanistan would be the installation of “an acceptable dictator” and the public opinion should be primed for this.

For the bulk of the Indian strategic community, the unthinkable is happening — the prospect of an Afghan settlement involving the Taliban. From all accounts, the Taliban appears edging closer to the Afghan capital and tightening its control in the provinces ringing Kabul.

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Karzai has appealed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to mediate with the Taliban. To request the Saudi King to stake his prestige is serious business. Mr. Karzai couldn’t have acted alone. Alongside there are reports that the British intelligence has been talking to the Taliban envoys in London. The influential Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported that senior Taliban functionaries who travelled to Saudi Arabia in the recent days have put forward 11 conditions, which include the withdrawal of foreign forces, political accommodation of the Taliban in key Ministries and the drawing up of a new Constitution that affirms Afghanistan as an Islamic state.

The Indian policymakers, who are bogged down in the labyrinthine passage of the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, need to take note that the ground is dramatically shifting. Regional security is set to transform. Several factors call for reckoning. First, there is cause to worry about Washington’s attention span in the period ahead to press ahead with the Afghan war.

The big issue in America is the bailout of the economy. As well-known columnist Alexander Cockburn summed up, the Americans are indifferent to whether Sarah Palin is capable of waging a nuclear war or frying ‘Afghan terrorists.’ Their sole concern today is that in the political tier in Washington, they have someone “who sounds somewhat like a human being with the same concerns as them, starting with the fear that their local bank will lock its doors in the morning.”

That is truly an extraordinary recalibration of national priorities for a world power. Barack Obama and John McCain, during their debate on September 26, paid lip service to Afghanistan but were preoccupied with the new priorities. Both took the easy way out, agreeing that they would take troops out of Iraq and put them in the Hindu Kush. But is it that simple? Surely, there is a vague sense of bipartisan enthusiasm in the U.S. for an Afghan “surge.” The new U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David McKiernan, says he could do with three additional brigades to the one promised by the Pentagon, which will add at least 15,000 troops to the current 35,000.

But the total allied force level in Afghanistan stands at just above 70,000 including the U.S. troops. The NATO allies are reluctant to commit more troops. After much U.S. persuasion, French President Nicolas Sarkozy chose to be helpful, adding a measly 100 troops to the French contingent, while opinion polls show that two out of every three French citizens disapprove of the war. The outgoing NATO commander estimated that 400,000 troops are needed to defeat the Taliban. An optimal troop level is impossible to be met. The U.S. and its NATO allies simply do not have the capacity to deploy the troops necessary to force a military settlement or to pacify and occupy Afghanistan.

Even with additional troops, to quote the new head of the U.S. Central Command, David Petraeus, “wresting control of certain areas from the Taliban will be very difficult.” Mr. Petraeus’ approach is to repeat his tactic in Iraq, to bribe the Pashtun tribesmen and to turn them against the pro-Taliban groups — in other words, hire Pashtun mercenaries to fight the war. Given the Pashtun character and tribal ethos, the strong likelihood is that the tribal belt will become anarchic and the war will spread to Pakistan. Its effect on Pakistan will be catastrophic but the expansion of the war is unlikely to stem the tide within Afghanistan, which has gone badly wrong for the western forces.

The Taliban today operates in virtually every Afghan province. It has the capacity to mount sustained offensives. It has created a parallel government structure. Pamela Constable, correspondent of The Washington Post and old hand on the South Asia beat, wrote recently: “In many districts a short drive from the capital, some of them considered safe even six months ago, residents and officials said the Taliban now controls roads and villages, patrolling in trucks and recruiting new fighters.”

Meanwhile, a new dimension has appeared. The incoming U.S. administration in January may not consider doubling down in Afghanistan as an option at a time when its attention is riveted on putting together a rescue package for the American economy that may involve up to $11.3 trillion. How would this scenario play out in the tangled Afghan mountains — precisely, how would the protagonists of the Afghan resistance view Washington’s difficulty in financially sustaining the open-ended war effort?
‘Deep, rich chuckle’

The irrepressible British columnist, Neil Lyndon, obviously made a point when he wrote last week: “Whenever the wind stops howling over the mountains of Tora Bora, a deep, rich chuckle can presumably be heard echoing down the valleys. If he is still alive, nobody will be enjoying the plight of America more than Osama bin Laden. The anarchic carnage in the American financial and political system brings in sight a humiliating withdrawal and defeat in Afghanistan and Iraq. It even raises the possibility of the final collapse of the evil empire which Osama forecast.”

Gloomy but entirely plausible. A perception is growing that with the U.S. government taking responsibility for $5 trillion in liabilities in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and under compulsion to pledge billions to support the financial system, there is bound to be difficulty in bearing the combined cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which the U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimated could total $2.4 trillion over the coming decade. No wonder, a feeling is gaining ground in Afghanistan and Pakistan that it is a matter of time before Washington makes a deal with the Taliban for a coalition government.

The interplay of these various factors will accelerate as Afghanistan gears up for the presidential election in 2009. The election year will be highly divisive. There is challenge to Mr. Karzai from other Afghan groups. His political base in the Pashtun areas remains fragile. The U.S. and its allies are yet to decide whether Mr. Karzai is their best choice to hold the reins of power for another five years. Britain, in particular, has had public spats with Mr. Karzai. The failure of the war is blamed on him.

But the failure of the war is not personal. A U.S.-style presidential system does not suit Afghanistan. The country needs a decentralised system of power-sharing and a constant search for intra-Afghan compromise. Most certainly, it means bringing the Taliban into the political process. The cardinal mistake has been that the Taliban movement is entirely conflated with the Al-Qaeda, whereas, to quote Tariq Ali, “If NATO and the U.S. were to leave Afghanistan, their [Taliban’s] political evolution would most likely parallel that of Pakistan’s domesticated Islamists.”

Tariq Ali didn’t mention Maulana Fazlur Rahman but New Delhi knows how farcical it would be to remain in the grip of paroxysms of nervousness about the redoubtable Islamist leader. Our apprehensions withered away once the Maulana, variously described as the ‘father of the Taliban,’ began visiting India. Equally, we need to do some ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking about the Taliban.

(The writer is a former ambassador and Indian Foreign Service officer.)

Tricky times ahead for India...

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 06 Oct 2008 11:45


British troops in Afghanistan have "surrendered" to the Taliban,in effect at least,by their commander 's defeatist statements.As predicted many moons ago,eventually,western military prowess will fail and we will see a retreat as in Vietnam with tails well tucked between western legs.In order that the retreat be a dignified one,with another "Paris" agreement" at some point in time to officially ditch karzai!

At a time when Pakistan's new Pres. is trying to cut the Taliban down to size and rein in the terrorists,these words from the military commander of America's closest ally is simply a kick between the legs for those all round the world fighting Islamist extremism,especially in Afghanisatn,where Al Q and Bin Laden have still not been caught for 9/11.Thanks to the cretinous policies of Bush,who forgot to finish the job in Afghanistan while embarking upon the Iraq catastrophe,the a Taliban have "re-surged" in the region ,putting enormous pressure upon the much smaller international alliance that is desperate to run for cover.Depending upon who wins the US election-looking like Obama right now,thanks to the economic meltdown,the retreat will happen sooner rather than later.

It is inconceivable that the West should even contemplate such action as the utter fundamentalism of the taliban is anathema to moderate Muslims worldwide and will only encourage such extremists to further detsaibilise modern democracies that have a large Islamic population. ... n.military

Talks with Taliban the only way forward in Afghanistan, says UK commander• Britain urges allies to use diplomacy to end conflict
•There will be no decisive victory, says brigadierRichard Norton-Taylor The Guardian, Monday October 6 2008

Britain is stepping up pressure for a political and diplomatic settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, a move set in sharp relief yesterday by the commander of UK troops who warned that the war against the Taliban was not going to be won.

The message is being delivered with increasing urgency by British military commanders, diplomats and intelligence officers, to Nato allies and governments in the region, the Guardian has learned.

"We're not going to win this war," Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said yesterday. "It's about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army. We may well leave with there still being a low but steady ebb of rural insurgency."

Carleton-Smith, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, which has just completed a six-month mission in southern Afghanistan during which 32 of his soldiers were killed and 170 injured, said his forces had "taken the sting out of the Taliban for 2008". But he warned that the public should not expect "a decisive military victory". It was necessary to "lower our expectations" and accept it as unrealistic that multinational forces can entirely rid Afghanistan of armed bands.

He said the aim should be to change the nature of the debate in Afghanistan so that disputes were settled by negotiation and not violence.

"If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that's precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this," Carleton-Smith said. "That shouldn't make people uncomfortable."

Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghanistan's defence minister, expressed disappointment at the comments.

But Carleton-Smith's warnings were echoed by a senior defence source yesterday, who said "the notion of winning and losing the decisive battle does not exist". Carleton-Smith added that all the Nato-led international military force could do in Afghanistan was provide the "parameters of security".

The deepening concerns reflect what British defence chiefs are saying privately. The conflict with the Taliban has reached "stalemate", they say. They also express increasing frustration with the weakness and corruption of President Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul.

Britain has denied that it believes the military campaign in Afghanistan is doomed to failure after the French weekly Le Canard Enchaîné reported that Sherard Cowper-Coles, UK ambassador to Kabul, told a French official that foreign troops added to the country's problems.

The newspaper reported that Cowper-Coles had said Afghanistan might best be "governed by an acceptable dictator", that the American strategy was "destined to fail", and the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan was "part of the problem, not the solution". The French foreign ministry said the newspaper report did not "correspond at all with what we hear from our British counterparts in our discussions on Afghanistan".

Writing on his website on Friday, David Miliband, the foreign secretary, described the report as "garbled" and insisted that Britain did not support a Kabul dictatorship.

"The future of Afghanistan is not about appointed dictators or foreign occupation, it is about building Afghan capabilities with the confidence of the Afghan people," he wrote.

A Foreign Office official was reported to have described the claim that Cowper-Coles advocated a dictatorship in Afghanistan as "utter nonsense", and that the comments attributed to the ambassador were likely to have been a distortion of what he had said in the meeting.

British officials are exasperated with the Karzai administration, the slowness in building up a national army and corruption in the Afghan police force.

Violence in Afghanistan has risen to its worst level since 2001, when US-led forces overthrew the Taliban.

Aid agencies say the Taliban and associated groups are controlling more territory and it is increasingly difficult to provide the population with their humanitarian needs, let alone physical security.

After months of indecision and attacking western diplomats and military officials for approaching Taliban forces and their local commanders, Karzai said last week he had asked the king of Saudi Arabia to mediate in negotiations. ... 887371.ece

Can King David bring order to the mountains of Afghanistan?
The troop surge in Iraq was a great success. But General David Petraeus will find pacifying the Taleban a tougher job still

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Avinash R » 06 Oct 2008 12:15

If the western forces leave afghanistan in the hands of taliban are they going to safe in their respective countries? no. the wtc attack came from afghanistan under taliban. if they are going to do the same mistake then nothing to argue about, just wait for the next 9/11.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby vavinash » 06 Oct 2008 13:21

Serves them right for letting the taliban top leadership and paki army generals escape during the Northern alliances advance to kabul. But make no mistake...if US and west loose and flee from afghanistan Russia, India and Iran will have to come together again and destroy taliban and their paki brethren.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby RajeshA » 07 Oct 2008 19:17

A fatal flaw in Afghan peace process by M K Bhadrakumar: Asia Times Online

With the reported intra-Afghan talks under the mediation of Saudi Arabia in Mecca on September 24-27, attention inevitably shifts to the hidden aspects of the "war on terror" in Afghanistan - the geopolitics of the war. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who has committed to pulling out Canadian troops from Afghanistan in 2011, let the cat out of the bag last week when he said that some Western leaders wrongly believed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) troops could stay there forever.

"One of the things I disagree with some other Western leaders is that our [NATO] plan can be somehow to stay in Afghanistan militarily indefinitely," Harper said during a televised election campaign debate in Ottawa. What lends particular importance to Harper's statement is that he has shifted from his earlier position that Canada wouldn't leave Afghanistan until that country was able to cope for itself.

He stressed the importance of a timeline for the NATO presence in Afghanistan, "If we are to truly pacify that country and see its evolution ... we won't achieve such a target unless we actually set a deadline and work to meet it ... If we never leave, will the job ever get done?" Harper revealed he had made this point to both US presidential candidates, Democratic Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain.

The Saudi role in mediating the intra-Afghan talks will bring to the fore the geopolitics of the Afghan war. This is already evident from the contradictory reports regarding the talks in Mecca.

There is acute embarrassment in Kabul that any premature leak may only help undercut further the credibility of the political edifice housing President Hamid Karzai. Kabul took the easy route by refusing to acknowledge that any talks took place during the Iftar in Mecca.

CNN broke the story in a London datelined report on Monday quoting authoritative sources that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia hosted high-level talks in Mecca between the Afghan government and Taliban who "are severing their ties with al-Qaeda".

The quibbling by the Kabul spokesman is typically Afghan. Can a get-together in the nature of the Iftar, the meal that breaks the fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, be construed as "peace talks"? The answer is "yes" and "no". On one plane, the gathering was a "guest celebration", as explained by the colorful former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan and a Guantanamo Bay detainee, Abdul Salam Zaeef, who sat in the important religious meal in Mecca.

But on the other hand, the hard facts are the following. Saudi Arabia is a leader of the Sunni Muslim world. It was one of the handful of countries to have recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It was the Saudi king who hosted the religious meal, which was attended by Taliban representatives, Afghan government officials and a representative of the powerful mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Former Afghan Supreme Court chief justice, Fazel Hadi Shinwari, was among the government representatives at the Iftar. The Afghan army chief of general staff, General Bismillah Khan, also "happened" to be in Saudi Arabia at this time.

Furthermore, as CNN put it, quoting sources, the meal in Mecca took two years of "intense behind-the-scenes negotiations" to come to fruition and "US-and-Europe-friendly Saudi Arabia's involvement has been propelled by a mounting death toll among coalition troops amid a worsening violence that has also claimed many civilian casualties".

Besides, media reports have spotted that behind the Saudi move lingers the recognizable shadows of the controversial former Saudi spy chief and nephew of the king, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who is an old "Afghan hand", having headed Saudi Arabia's al-Mukhabarat al A'amah (General Intelligence Directorate) during the 25-year period from 1977 until shortly before the September 11, 2001, attacks on the US. Some even say Turki secretly negotiated with Taliban leader Mullah Omar in 1998 in a vain attempt to have Osama bin Laden extradited to Saudi Arabia.

Above all, there has been a spate of statements in recent days underscoring the futility of the war in Afghanistan. Karzai himself has invited Mullah Omar to step forward as a presidential hopeful in elections slated for next year.

Britain's military commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier General Mark Carleton-Smith told the Sunday Times newspaper of London that the war against the Taliban cannot be won. He specifically advised the British public not to expect a "decisive military victory", but to prepare for a possible deal with the Taliban. "We're not going to win this war. It's about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that's not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army," the British commander said.

The British army top brass is not known to speak out of turn. His stark assessment followed the leaking of a memo detailing a gloomy statement attributed to the British ambassador in Kabul, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, that the current war strategy was "doomed to fail". To say the least, the timing of these statements is highly significant. According to the influential Saudi newspaper Asharq Alawsat, British intelligence is ably assisting the Saudi efforts at mediation.

Longtime observers of the Afghan civil war will recollect the tortuous diplomatic and political peregrinations culminating in the Geneva Accords in April 1988 that led to the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Informal negotiations began as early as 1982. That is to say, claims and counter-claims, constant streams of denials, statements attributed to faceless or anonymous sources, even stony silence if not outright falsification - all this promises to be the fare in the Afghan bazaar in the coming weeks.

However, what is beyond doubt is that inter-Afghan peace talks have finally begun. There is a readiness to admit that the legacy of the Bonn conference in December 2001 must be exorcised from Afghanistan's body politic and stowed away in history books. The recognition seems to have dawned that peace is indivisible and victors must learn to share it with the vanquished.

Several factors have contributed to this realization. One, the seven-year war is in a stalemate and time favors the Taliban. Two, the US is increasingly focused on the bailout of its economy, which leaves little scope both in terms of time and resources for Washington to indulge in the extravaganza of undertaking on its own open-ended wars in faraway badlands. Three, the US is having a hard time persuading its allies to provide troops for the war effort and even faithful allies like Britain seem fatigued and appear uneasy about the US's war strategy. Four, whatever little popular support the puppet regime in Kabul headed by Karzai enjoyed so far is fast declining, which makes the current setup unsustainable. Five, the Taliban have gained habitation and name on the Afghan landscape and no amount of allegations regarding Pakistan's dubious role can hide the reality that the Taliban's support base is rapidly widening. Six, the regional climate - growing instability in Pakistan, tensions in US-Russia relations, NATO's role, Iran's new assertiveness, including possible future support of the Afghan resistance - is steadily worsening and the need arises for the US to recalibrate the prevailing geopolitical alignments and shore up its political and strategic assets created during the 2001-2008 period from being eroded.

Against such a complex backdrop, Washington could - and perhaps should - have logically turned to the United Nations or the international community to initiate an inter-Afghan peace process. Instead, it has almost instinctively turned to its old ally in the Hindu Kush - Saudi Arabia.

The US and Saudi Arabia went a long way in nurturing al-Qaeda and the Taliban in their infancy in the late 1980s and almost up to the second half of the 1990s. Al-Qaeda turned hostile in the early 1990s, but the US's dalliance with the Taliban continued up to the beginning of the first term of George W Bush as US president in 2000.

It is possible to say that Washington has no real choice at the present juncture but to turn to the Saudis for a helping hand. The Saudis precisely know the Taliban's anatomy, how its muscles and nerves interplay, where it is at its tender-most, where it tickles. The Saudis undoubtedly know how to engage the Taliban. Now, they can almost do what Pakistan, which had similar skills, was capable of doing until it began losing its grip and its self-confidence and became increasingly worn out. Islamabad tended to linger in the shade and watch as the Taliban began taking its performance seriously and didn't seem to need mentors.

Washington is also unsure to what degree Islamabad can be trusted with the central role in any such sensitive mission to finesse or harness the Taliban. All said, while President Asif Ali Zardari is a predictable figure who can be trusted to dance to just about any American tune, far too many imponderables remain in the post-Pervez Musharraf power structure in Islamabad for the US to be confident that it holds all the controlling strings.

Arguably, the Saudis, too, would have their own sub-plots in the Hindu Kush, given the al-Qaeda factor and al-Qaeda's unfinished business in the Middle East, but, on balance, Washington has to pitch to a mediator whom the Taliban leadership and mujahideen leaders like Hekmatyar and sundry other commanders will listen. A final clincher is that the Saudis have no dearth of resources to bankroll an intra-Afghan peace process and money is power in today's impoverished Afghanistan.

Beyond all these considerations, from the US perspective, a big gain out of the Saudi involvement would also be that Iran's efforts to build bridges with the Afghan resistance would be checkmated.
Afghanistan has always been in the cockpit of great power rivalry. The backdrop of US-Russia tensions is of great significance. On October 10, NATO defense ministers are scheduled to gather in Budapest, Hungary, and they are expected to take stock of the souring NATO-Russia ties. The US is advancing the idea of a NATO "defense plan" against Russia.

Any such plan invoking the centrality of Article 5 of the NATO charter regarding collective security for the newly inducted countries of Central Europe and the Balkans will need to be based on threat perceptions to the alliance emanating from post-Soviet Russia. In other words, the US is trying to propel NATO into an adversarial stance with regard to Russia on lines similar to the Cold War era.

But there is a catch. Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is not peddling any pernicious ideology of "expansionism" threatening Western security. On the contrary, Russia is allowing NATO to transport its supplies for Afghanistan via its airspace and territory. Despite tensions in the Caucasus, Moscow has not called off such cooperation, especially involving NATO countries like Germany and France, which are skeptical about the US strategy of pitting the trans-Atlantic alliance against Russia. The US dislikes the prospect of Moscow using its equations with Germany or France within an overall NATO framework as a trump card in its relations with Washington.

Paradoxically, Washington will be relieved if Russia-NATO cooperation over Afghanistan altogether ceases. There is simply no other way that NATO can cast Russia as an adversary. But Russia is not obliging. Russian officials have recently alleged that Washington has prevailed on Karzai to freeze all cooperation with the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) on the vital front of combating drug trafficking. But Russia has failed to react and instead has began fortifying its own mechanism within the framework of CSTO (and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization) to counter drug-trafficking.

The main challenge for NATO is that its dependence on Moscow for logistical support in the Afghan war cannot be terminated as long as there is uncertainty about the supply routes via Pakistan. Here the Saudis can be of help. Their involvement in the Afghan peace process will discourage the Taliban from seriously disrupting the supply routes through Pakistan.

From the US perspective, the immediate political advantage of the Saudi involvement will be two-fold: its impact on Pakistani public opinion and, secondly, in countering expanding Iranian influence within Afghanistan. The Saudi role will hopefully temper the stridency of "anti-Americanism" in Pakistan. The US can learn to live with the Pakistani people's "anti-Americanism" provided it remains at an acceptable level and in the realm of political rhetoric. This is where the Saudis can be of help, given their considerable influence on the Islamic parties in Pakistan, especially the Jammat-i-Islami, which makes political capital out of anti-American rhetoric, and a range of Pakistani leaders, both civilian and military.

Interestingly, CNN has quoted Saudi sources to the effect that "perceived Iranian expansionism is one of Saudi Arabia's biggest concerns" in Afghanistan, which is what motivates them to mediate a peace process involving the Taliban.

It is worth recalling that one of the attractions underlying the US-Saudi sponsorship of the Taliban in the early and mid-1990s was the movement's manifestly anti-Shi'ite stance and its infinite potential to be pitted against Iran on the geopolitical chessboard.

The Taliban had killed nine Iranian diplomats in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif in August 1998. The Iranian Foreign Ministry said at that time that "the consequences of the Taliban action is on the shoulders of the Taliban and their supporters". Then-Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani viewed the incident as part of "a very deep conspiracy to occupy Iran at its eastern borders".

Given the ebb and flow of the US-Saudi-Pakistani role in promoting the Taliban in the 1990s, Tehran and Moscow are bound to sit up and take note of the current trends. On the face of it, neither Tehran nor Moscow can take exception to the Saudi role in Afghanistan as that would run against the grain of their recent years of sustained efforts to foster relations with Saudi Arabia at the bilateral level. Tehran, in particular, will be keen to maintain the current semblance of cordiality in its complicated, multi-layered ties with Riyadh and will be averse to playing into the hands of the US to turn Afghanistan into yet another turf of Sunni-Shi'ite (Iran-Saudi) antipathy like Lebanon or Iraq.

But Iran and Russia will be deeply concerned about the US strategic designs. What will perturb the two countries most will be the US's continued plan to keep the Afghan peace process within a tiny, exclusive, charmed circle of friends and allies, which betrays Washington's resolve not to let Afghanistan go out of its tight grip any time in the foreseeable future. Clearly, they would take note that the US strategy, as it is unfolding, is only to make the war in Afghanistan "cost-effective" and not to cut and run.

A Pentagon official was recently quoted as suggesting that "[NATO] countries that have had a reluctance to contribute forces, in particular combat forces, may be able to take part in this mission through a financial contribution". As the official put it, there are "those who fight and those who write checks". The NATO meet in Budapest on Thursday will be discussing these issues of the alliance's mission in Afghanistan.

Apart from the cost-effective methods that ensure the war doesn't tax the US financially, the new head of the US Central Command, General David Petraeus, can also be expected to make the war more "efficient". He followed a somewhat similar strategy in Iraq with what he labeled a policy of "awakening" Sunni tribes. The strategy's Afghan variant, which Petraeus will now spearhead in his new capacity as the head of the Central Command, can be expected to involve hiring Pashtun mercenaries to fight the war so that Western casualties are reduced and NATO's continuance in Afghanistan doesn't get imperiled due to adverse public opinion in the West.

The strategy requires making inroads into the Taliban camp and playing havoc with its unity. In the US military jargon in Iraq, this was called "non-kinetic activities", which helped reverse the spiral of violence for the US troops. It may bring "new hope" to NATO's war in Afghanistan.

Evidently, Washington expects that a clever operator like Prince Turki acting with the blessing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques will do a neat job in regard to splitting the Taliban and separating them from al-Qaeda. (Turki also served as the Saudi ambassador in Washington.) Turki's brief will contain an almost near-optimal mix of the godly and the worldly, which is useful for finessing a movement like the Taliban that crisscrosses religion and politics.

The Saudi involvement is a desperate gamble by the Bush administration in its dying months. In immediate terms, if Turki makes headway, Taliban violence against Western troops may diminish, which would give an impression that Afghanistan is finally coming right for the US.

But it will not remain so for long. Afghanistan is far more fragmented ethnically than Iraq. The Saudis with all their sovereign wealth funds out of petrodollars cannot bridge the hopelessly ruptured Afghan divides. At the very least, much time is needed to heal the deep wounds. Saudi involvement will almost certainly be resented by several Afghan groups, which viscerally oppose the Taliban, such as the Hazara Shi'ite groups. As it is, things were poised to come to a boil in 2009, which is an election year in Afghanistan.

Petraeus beat his war drum and claimed victory in Iraq, but that is not the final word. Political events are seldom what they seem. The heart of the matter is that Iran's cooperation made Petraeus' "victory" in Iraq possible. A peace process predicated on the exclusion of Iran and Russia - leave alone any "Islamization" of Afghanistan on Wahhabi lines - will not succeed.

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.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby RajeshA » 07 Oct 2008 19:30

Look who came to dinner ... by Syed Saleem Shahzad: Asia Times Online

KARACHI - Although the Taliban and al-Qaeda have consistently rejected overtures to make peace with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces until they leave Afghanistan, the latest initiative led by Saudi Arabia, and approved by Washington and London, is on track.

Reports emerged this week that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia recently hosted high-level talks in Mecca between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban. If a middle road is found, next year's elections in Afghanistan could be held under the supervision of peacekeeping forces from Islamic countries, rather than those of NATO.

The first move in the peace process was made by Saudi Arabia last year when a Saudi consul based in Islamabad secretly visited the North Waziristan tribal area and met the al-Qaeda leadership. His mission was to convince them of the necessity of a peace process in Afghanistan and provide them with assurances of an amnesty. (See Military brains plot Pakistan's downfall Asia Times Online, September 26, 2007.) Al-Qaeda refused the consul access to its senior leaders, and anyway rejected the initiative.

Undeterred, Riyadh pitched the idea to the Taliban rank and file that if the forces of Islamic countries were involved in peacekeeping operations for the elections, it would create a climate of reconciliation in which both the Taliban and NATO would not lose face. The Taliban also did not accept this idea, but the proposal did generate low-profile debate and in this sense a peace process had begun.

Like the Taliban, the Western coalition was divided over peace formulas but decided to at least initiate a political process to resolve the seven-year conflict in Afghanistan. The British Embassy in Kabul sent some people to Helmand province to initiate talks with the Taliban, but the procedure backfired as the Taliban dismissed their commanders involved in the negotiations. And the Afghan government, under instructions from the US Embassy in Kabul, expelled European Union officials from Afghanistan for their involvement in the dialogue process.

Pakistan, meanwhile, despite American pressure, kept open channels of communication with the Taliban. All the while, the conflict in Afghanistan escalated, reaching new heights this year.

Kabul is virtually under siege and the Taliban have established pockets in Wardak (30 kilometers from Kabul) and Sarobi (50 km from Kabul) as well as in neighboring Kapisa and Parwan provinces. More ominously, the Taliban-led insurgency has spread to Pakistani territory where vast areas have been brought under its control, especially in the tribal areas that border Afghanistan. From a military standpoint, this is particularly worrying for NATO as most of its supplies pass through this area.

Against this backdrop of a seemingly unwinnable war, as Britain's senior commander in Afghanistan has commented, the stalled pace process was revived.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan was used as a cover for revived backchannel diplomacy in the Saudi holy city of Mecca. Afghan officials, former Taliban leaders and leaders of mujid Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan shared an Iftar fast-breaking meal with King Abdullah. Separate meetings were held with other top Saudi officials, including Saudi intelligence chief Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz.

One person who was present at the king's table was former Taliban foreign minister Wakeel Ahmed Muttawakil. He spoke to Asia Times Online by telephone from Kabul.

Asia Times Online: Did you meet King Abdullah?

Wakeel Ahmed Muttawakil: I traveled to Saudi Arabia to perform umra [pilgrimage] in the holy month of Ramadan ... and it is true [I met King Abdullah]. You know, the Islamic Emirates of Afghanistan [as the Taliban's regime was known from 1996 to 2001] had good relations with Saudi Arabia and therefore I know everybody over there.

ATol: Your meeting with Saudi intelligence chief Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz is believed to be the real beginning of a dialogue process between the Taliban and Saudi Arabia over a truce between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

WAM: As I said, I met with many people during my stay in Saudi Arabia, but it had nothing to do with politics. Our reason to travel was to perform pilgrimage and prayers in Ramadan. Since I am known to the Saudi government, they invited me for Iftar.

ATol: Then was it a coincidence that immediately after your visit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai stepped up efforts to engage the Taliban and mentioned a Saudi role in that regard?

WAM: I said earlier that Saudi Arabia had very good relations with the Taliban in the past, therefore the Afghan government expects the Saudi government to play a role. Not only with the Taliban, Saudi Arabia had very good relations with Sheikh Osama bin Laden and other jihadi movements. So its role would be very effective.

ATol: Hizb-e-Islami Afghanistan has also been approached by the Saudis. Do you have any knowledge in this regard?

WAM: I don't know anything in this regard, but I can guess that since the Taliban and Hizb-e-Islami are both part of the present insurgency, but still keep separate commands, Hekmatyar would have been approached separately. Like the Taliban, Hekmatyar also keeps very good relations with Saudi Arabia and with his connections with the Ikwanul Muslemeen [Muslim Brotherhood] he is even closer to the Saudis.

An earlier Taliban statement said:

The mainstream media is reporting about a "peace process" between the Taliban and the Kabul puppet administration which is being sponsored by Saudi Arabia and supported by Britain, and that there are "unprecedented talks" involving a senior ex-Taliban member who is traveling between Kabul and the alleged bases of the Taliban senior leadership in Pakistan. The Afghanistan Islamic Emirate leadership council considers such as baseless rumors and as failed attempts of the enemy to create mistrust and concerns among Afghans and other nations and mujahideen.

No official member of the Taliban is currently or has in the past negotiated with the US or the puppet Afghan government. A few former officials of the Taliban who are under house arrest [Mullah Zaeef, former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan] or have surrendered [Wakeel Ahmed Muttawakil] do not represent the Islamic Emirate.

The Taliban's denial and Muttawakil's reticence apart, it cannot be denied that something is afoot. This is no better illustrated than by Washington-backed Karzai at the weekend asking "terrorist" Mullah Omar to join the political process and saying that he would convince the international community about him.

Syed Saleem Shahzad is Asia Times Online's Pakistan Bureau Chief. He can be reached at

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Sanjay M » 09 Oct 2008 03:23

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Nayak » 09 Oct 2008 12:08

On July 7, 2008, the Indian Embassy in Kabul was hit by a massive suicide bomb attack, which resulted in the death of four embassy staffers including the Defence Attaché, a Brigadier of the Indian Army, and an IFS officer. The IAF was called upon by the Government of India, to provide immediate assistance by way of launching a relief mission. Air Force Station, Chandigarh responded with alacrity and efficiency and dispatched an IL-76 aircraft to Kabul via Delhi with medicines and rescue personnel in less than two hours. The aircraft returned to Palam at midnight the same day. ... Day/371234

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby NRao » 09 Oct 2008 19:07

U.S. Study Is Said to Warn of Crisis in Afghanistan

October 9, 2008

WASHINGTON — A draft report by American intelligence agencies concludes that Afghanistan is in a “downward spiral” and casts serious doubt on the ability of the Afghan government to stem the rise in the Taliban’s influence there, according to American officials familiar with the document.

The classified report finds that the breakdown in central authority in Afghanistan has been accelerated by rampant corruption within the government of President Hamid Karzai and by an increase in violence by militants who have launched increasingly sophisticated attacks from havens in Pakistan.

The report, a nearly completed version of a National Intelligence Estimate, is set to be finished after the November elections and will be the most comprehensive American assessment in years on the situation in Afghanistan. Its conclusions represent a harsh verdict on decision-making in the Bush administration, which in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks made Afghanistan the central focus of a global campaign against terrorism.


Allauddin Khan/Associated Press
Afghan policemen operating in Kandahar Province on Wednesday discovered cans of acid that could be used to make explosives.


Beyond the cross-border attacks launched by militants in neighboring Pakistan, the intelligence report asserts that many of Afghanistan’s most vexing problems are of the country’s own making, the officials said.

The report cites gains in the building of Afghanistan’s national army, the officials said. But they said it also laid out in stark terms what it described as the destabilizing impact of the booming heroin trade, which by some estimates accounts for 50 percent of Afghanistan’s economy.

The Bush administration has initiated a major review of its Afghanistan policy and has decided to send additional troops to the country. The downward slide in the security situation in Afghanistan has also become an issue in the presidential campaign, along with questions about whether the White House emphasis in recent years on the war in Iraq has been misplaced.

Inside the government, reports issued by the Central Intelligence Agency for more than two years have chronicled the worsening violence and rampant corruption inside Afghanistan, and some in the agency say they believe that it has taken the White House too long to respond to the warnings.

Henry A. Crumpton, a career C.I.A. officer who last year stepped down as the State Department’s top counterterrorism official, attributed some of Afghanistan’s problems to a “lack of leadership” both at the White House and in European capitals where commitments to rebuild Afghanistan after 2001 have never been met.

Mr. Crumpton, who was in charge of the C.I.A. teams that entered Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks but who said he had not seen the draft report, said that Afghanistan was “bad and getting worse” and that officials in Washington were just beginning to wake up to the problem.

“It’s taken them a long time to realize it, but now they know it’s pretty grim,” he said.

A National Intelligence Estimate is a formal document that reflects the consensus judgments of all 16 American intelligence agencies. Although the Bush administration has made public the crucial findings from some recent N.I.E.’s on Iraq and terrorism, most remain classified. The assessment on Afghanistan is the first since the Taliban regained strength there beginning in 2006 and launched an offensive that has allowed them to seize large swaths of territory.

The draft intelligence report was described by more than a half dozen current government officials who had read its conclusions. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the report remains classified and has not been completed.



Richard Willing, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which produces the national intelligence assessments, declined to comment for this article. A White House spokesman, Gordon D. Johndroe, also declined to comment on the report’s conclusions but said: “Everyone understands that the current situation in Afghanistan is a tough one. That’s why the president ordered additional troops there. That’s why we’re increasing the size of the Afghanistan Army.”

Both major presidential candidates, Senators Barack Obama and John McCain, have called for American troop increases in Afghanistan even beyond those the White House has ordered. Mr. Obama has accused the White House of paying too little attention to Afghanistan as it poured the vast bulk of American military resources into the war in Iraq, while Mr. McCain has defended the administration’s decision, saying that Iraq remains the more important front in the battle against terrorism.

In Tuesday’s presidential debate, Mr. Obama said he told Mr. Karzai during a visit to Afghanistan in July that the Afghan leader had “to do better by your people in order for us to gain the popular support that’s necessary.”

“We have to have a government that is responsive to the Afghan people, and frankly it’s just not responsive right now,” Mr. Obama said.

American officials said that intelligence agencies were also working to produce an assessment on Pakistan, and that both were to be completed after next month’s elections. They said the draft findings had already begun to influence the recommendations of the White House-led review of Afghanistan policy, which was scheduled to be completed this month but has now been postponed several weeks.

The administration is considering whether the United States should devote more effort to working directly with tribal leaders in far-flung provinces, and possibly arming tribal militias, to fight the Taliban in places where Afghanistan’s army and police forces have been ineffective.

The Bush administration had long resisted making tribal elders a centerpiece of American strategy in Afghanistan. American officials had hoped instead that strong national institutions like the Afghan Army could protect the Afghan population, but the escalating violence this year has forced a reassessment of the value of the tribal system for counterinsurgency operations.

“In order to have an effective counterinsurgency strategy, you need to have strong local governance in the districts and the provinces,” said a senior State Department official who has been briefed on the report’s broad conclusions, and who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In a sign of the seriousness of the administration’s policy review, the White House’s top coordinator for Afghanistan policy, Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute of the Army, will lead a team of specialists who will go there to assess the situation, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Administration officials say the review is examining how and where the nearly $6 billion in annual American assistance to Afghanistan is being spent; how to improve the effectiveness of small teams of American and European civilians and troops seeded throughout the Afghan provinces to spur economic growth; and how to strike the right balance between taking military action against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan and providing more development aid to that country.

Senior American commanders have recently been blunt in their assessment of the security trends in the country. “In large parts of Afghanistan, we don’t see progress,” Gen. David D. McKiernan, the top American officer in Afghanistan, told reporters last week. “We’re into a very tough counterinsurgency fight and will be for some time.”

It is not just American officials who offer a grim prognosis. A French diplomatic cable leaked to a French newspaper last week quoted the British ambassador to Afghanistan as forecasting that the NATO-led mission there would fail.

“The current situation is bad, the security situation is getting worse, so is corruption, and the government has lost all trust,” the British envoy, Sherard Cowper-Coles, was quoted as telling the French deputy ambassador to Kabul, who wrote the cable.

British officials have said the comments attributed to Sir Sherard were distorted and do not reflect official British policy.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Purush » 09 Oct 2008 22:31

Some good photos of ISAF ops in Afghanistan ... _isaf.html

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Nayak » 10 Oct 2008 10:37

When we shopped for a few items, such as the material for the shawal kameez, there was none of the hard selling or pushy shopkeepers that can be found in many Asian countries. The atmosphere was altogether peaceful. One shopowner was a Sikh, and I asked if he was from India, but he was Afghan. In India and the U.S., I’ve always had good luck with Sikhs. They tend to be honest and straightforward.

This Sikh man was selling shoes.

There are even some Hindus here. Interestingly, down south in Kandahar, Helmand, Oruzgan, up in Kabul, and out here in Nangarhar province, most everyone seems to hate or at least greatly distrust the Pakistanis. Yet when I ask Afghans what they think of Indians, every Afghan I have asked, and that would be many, express affection for Indians. I ask the Afghans, “You don’t care that most Indians are Hindus?” “No, no, we don’t care. We are Muslims and they are Hindus, but we like India. The Indian people are welcome here.” Yet the Muslims in Afghanistan do not like the Muslims in Pakistan, while the Hindus in India, in my experience, equally despise Pakistan. Yet Americans who travel to Pakistan (I have yet to go myself), have always given me positive reports about the people. From a distance, it looks like all Pakistanis hate all Americans. Yet, again, the Pakistanis I meet around Asia have always been hospitable and even gracious to me. I am convinced that we often go to war based on mostly false perceptions of each other.

We kept strolling around the market. Dozens more people smiled, while many wanted their photos taken, or wanted to shake hands quickly and walk away.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby ramana » 10 Oct 2008 20:09

There was a good news report from Kunar province about the Pashtun refugees from Bajaur in TSP. Seems there is quite abit of eviction going on on TSP side claiming people are Taliban. Most of those speaking were educated in English. So under GOAT ethnic cleansing is going on in Bajaur. But not stated like that by the honlbe reporter.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 11 Oct 2008 14:39

The real cost of the wars said to have cost a few trillion.Just days after condemning the British Commannder in Afghanistan for his "deefetist" views,US Def. Sec. Robert Gates has done a bufoonish somersault and has endorsed the same view! Any wonder then that the US/NATO are losing the war in Afghanistan,they have already lost it in the hearts and minds! India had better be prepared for the worst. ... AB2112C2C5

U.S. considers support for Afghan tribal militias, talks with Taliban
UN Wire | 10/10/2008

Facing the prospect of mission failure in Afghanistan, the U.S. is considering changing tacks and training tribal and government forces directly rather than supporting a central government that provides security. The strategy could establish a rivalry between militias led by empowered warlords and government forces. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that NATO may ultimately consider negotiating with the Taliban. Los Angeles Times (10/09)

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby rocky » 11 Oct 2008 18:33

Canada's Parliamentary Budget Officer released a report on the 9th of October on the war costs in Afghanistan. Apparently, all three authors are desis!

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Neshant » 11 Oct 2008 23:10

> U.S. considers support for Afghan tribal militias, talks with Taliban

I'm surprised no political party has slammed the govt in the US for talks with Taliban.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby RajeshA » 11 Oct 2008 23:17

For US only those guys are evil or rogue, who are against US. If sections of the Taliban or Gulbuddin Hekmatyar are willing to work with USA, why would US object to that. The ideology is "with us or against us". Those who work together, would then by Pushtoon tribals with a funny sense of dress, and not some evil group.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Vivek_A » 12 Oct 2008 01:29

Purush wrote:Some good photos of ISAF ops in Afghanistan ... _isaf.html

In Photo # 18, why are the bullets coded green and red?

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Avinash R » 12 Oct 2008 12:05

British Chief of Defence Staff sees no end to Afghan fight

London, Oct 11 (ANI): British Chief of the Defence Staff Sir Jock Stirrup has said that the international military mission in Afghanistan had "no end point".

He said that both in Iraq and Afghanistan British troops were on a "journey that never finishes".

"These things are more complicated In both cases it's a journey. If you're talking about the development of a country, it's a journey that never finishes. There's no end point," he added

Stirrup's comments come a week after Britain's top military commander in Afghanistan Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith said that the public should not expect a "decisive military victory" in Afghanistan.

The 58-year-old air chief marshal said that the mission in Afghanistan, where Britain has 7800 troops fighting Taliban insurgents, was not a win or lose battle. Britain's 4100 troops in Iraq are likely to leave within a year with Iraqi forces "very close" to being able to handle the security situation alone, The News quoted Stirrup as saying.

Warning that Afghanistan would be a "longer operation" than Iraq, he said: "Afghanistan is a very backward country (militarily) it's going to be some years before we finish that project."

He said people should change their expectations of what could be achieved in Afghanistan. "We should avoid the use of words like 'win' and 'lose' in the context of Afghanistan. It's not that sort of enterprise," he added.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Avinash R » 12 Oct 2008 19:51

100 dead. air strikes are being used literally for every other counter-attack. burning money and wasting resources to kill talibanis who get killed by hundreds and still keep coming for more. till the infilitration from pakistan is stopped there maybe no letup in attacks.

Taliban launch surprise attack on Afghan town, scores killed

October 12, 2008

Kandahar: Taliban militants launched a surprise attack on a key southern Afghan town, sparking a battle that killed about 60 insurgents, an Afghan official said on Sunday. A second clash in the same region killed another 40 militants.

Taliban fighters used rockets and other heavy weapons to attack Afghan forces on the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, provincial governor spokesman Daud Ahmadi said.

Militants attacked the city from three sides starting just after midnight and were pushed back only after a battle that involved airstrikes, Ahmadi said. Rockets landed in different parts of the city but there were no civilian casualties, he said.

Nato said its aircraft bombed insurgents after they observed them gathering for a major attack, killing "multiple enemy forces," the military alliance said in a statement.

Gen. David McKiernan, head of the Nato-led force in Afghanistan, told reporters in Kabul that hundreds of insurgents had gathered for the attack.

Authorities recovered the bodies of 41 Taliban fighters on the city's outskirts, from where the attack was launched, he said. He estimated the bodies of another 20 fighters were taken from the battle site by the militants, citing intelligence reports.

In a second battle in Helmand province, Afghan and international troops retook the Nad Ali district centre - which had been held by militants - during a three-day fight, Ahmadi said. That battle, which also involved airstrikes, ended on Saturday, he said.

Afghan police and soldiers were now in control of the district centre. There were no casualties among Afghan or Nato troops, Ahmadi said.

Nato said it was aware of fighting in Helmand but could not provide any information.

A roadside bomb, meanwhile, struck a civilian vehicle traveling in the Shamulzai district of Zabul province on Sunday, killing five people, said Ghulab Shah Alikheil, a provincial official.

Alikheil blamed Taliban militants for planting the bomb.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Avinash R » 12 Oct 2008 19:52

Afghan prison attack plot foiled
October 11, 2008

Kabul: Afghanistan's intelligence service said on Saturday it broke up a Taliban plot to attack the country's most notorious prison with a wave of suicide bombers.

The thwarted attack on the Pul-i-Charki prison on the outskirts of the capital, Kabul, was meant to free Taliban and criminal prisoners, the Afghan intelligence service said in a statement.

The attack would have mirrored a massive assault in June on a prison in Kandahar - the country's second largest city and the spiritual home of the Taliban - that freed almost 900 prisoners, including about 400 Taliban fighters.

Three police who worked at Pul-i-Charki were arrested, the intelligence service said. They were allegedly paid off by militants to help carry out the attack.

The three officers smuggled explosives and mobile phone batteries and chargers into the prison so two Taliban prisoners could make suicide vests, it said, adding the officers confessed their roles in the plot.

The intelligence service did not say when the arrests took place or when the attack was to be carried out. The commander of the prison, Major General Abdul Baqi Basody, said the three were arrested about two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the head of Britain's armed forces told a newspaper out yesterday said the international military mission in Afghanistan has "no end point",

Sir Jock Stirrup's comments come a week after Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, Britain's top military commander in the war-torn country, said the public should not expect a "decisive military victory" in Afghanistan.

Stirrup, the chief of the defence staff, told The Times that in both Iraq and Afghanistan, British troops were on a "journey that never finishes".

The 58-year-old air chief marshal said the mission in Afghanistan, where Britain has 7,800 troops fighting Taliban insurgents, was not a win or lose battle. Afghanistan would be a longer operation, he warned.


US-led coalition and Afghan troops killed nine militants in overnight clashes in southern and central Afghanistan, the US military said yesterday. Violence has surged in Afghanistan with some 3,800 people, a third of them civilians, killed by the end of July this year.

In the latest fighting, US led coalition troops killed four militants including two Al Qaida and Taliban commanders in Ghazni province on Friday, about 200km southwest of Kabul. Two other suspects were detained.

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Re: Afghanistan News & Discussion: Part IV

Postby Philip » 14 Oct 2008 11:51

The US's indiscriminate bombing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan has resulted in perpetuationg the spiral of terrorism and new recruits to the anti-western forces trying to win the so-called "war on terror",the calamitous plicy of the Bush/Cheney regime.The latest issue of Frontline has a cover feature on the "Matrix of Death",by Marc W.Herold,with an in-depth study of what has gone wrong in prosecuting the war on terror through this aerial bombing campaign.It is a must-see feature.

This article goes into the heart of the US/NATO's surreal,cretinous campaign,that has alllowed theTaliban,once hated by Afghans for its extremist Islamic laws,to be seen as liberators from the hated US/west,who are killing more innocents in that country than actual Taliban fighters.We now understand why the Taliban is winning and the "defeatist" statements emanating from British and other western commanders on the ground.Another important point,not noted by the author but is being suppressed by western media ,is the massive aid that India is giving the Afghan govt.,which concentrates upon development and reconstruction projects,making a difference to the lives of ordinary Afghan civilains.From the author's figures,the US is spending a fraction of the amount that it uses in the military campaign for development work. ... 100400.htm

A new dossier on the (im)precision of U.S. bombing and the (under)valuation of Afghan lives.

Some Excerpts:

Close air support (CAS) air strikes now account for about 80 per cent of all Afghan civilians who perish at the hands of the U.S. and NATO.

Senator Barack Obama has staked out a political position by claiming that he will increase United States’ troop strength in Afghanistan by at least one-third, will permit U.S./NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) forces to engage in hot pursuit into Pakistan’s tribal areas and increase U.S. bombing and Special Operations Forces raids into Pakistan. Caesar-like, he proclaims that Afghanistan is a “war on terror” we must and can win. He appears to be completely ignorant that Pashtun nationalism (Taliban) and Al Qaeda jehad are two very different things.1

In effect, Obama proposes to continue and escalate the military policies of the Bush administration if he can draw down the U.S. occupation forces in Iraq. I have argued that these actions are doomed to fail on their own terms, will cement a deadly alliance between the Taliban and radical Islamists, and will further destabilise a nuclear Pakistan.2 And whom did Obama visit on his very first day in Afghanistan in July 2008? He met none other than Gul Agha Sherzai, favourite of George Bush’s General Dan ‘Bomber’ McNeill and the ex-governor/warlord of Kandahar infamous for his cruelty, trafficking in drugs, corruption, and pederasty with young boys.3 On the following day, he spent time with the U.S. occupation forces and the “Mayor of Kabul” who was in his Kabul fortress (and not off mourning somewhere or on an international junket raising monies). Obama fails to admit that recent U.S./NATO aerial bombing has been extremely deadly to Afghan civilians, which when combined with the negligible value attached to Afghan lives reveals that U.S. politicians and military hold little interest in Afghanistan proper other than in a geopolitical sense.4

While the U.S. military is currently spending $100 million a day in Afghanistan, aid spent by all donors since 2001 is on average less than a tenth of that – just $7 million a day.5

In other words, what actually takes place in the realms of the economic and the social on-the-ground in Afghanistan is at best of marginal concern; furthermore, many point to the ineffectiveness of aid.6 I shall argue herein such marginal stress upon improving the everyday life of common Afghans is paralleled by a callous disregard for Afghan civilians in the carrying out of military operations (especially close air support strikes) and in the paltry compensation (when offered at all) for innocent Afghans killed by U.S. or NATO actions.

The subterfuges employed by the U.S./NATO to excuse killing innocent Afghan civilians

When we assemble the different pieces of the media jigsaw puzzle, clear patterns emerge. Western victims are presented as real, important people with names, families, hopes and dreams. Iraqi and Afghan victims of British and American violence are anonymous, nameless. They are depicted as distant shadowy figures without personalities, feelings or families. The result is that Westerners are consistently humanised, while non-Westerners are portrayed as lesser versions of humanity (from “Militants and Mistakes,” Media Lens (July 22, 2008)). While Afghans killed by U.S./NATO forces are completely invisible as human beings in the U.S. mainstream media, contrast the efforts undertaken by the same media to give humanity to U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan, as for example in The Washington Post at

A major aim of this report is to provide real figures on Afghan civilians killed by U.S./NATO actions since 2006, thereby undermining the common claim that such numbers cannot be obtained. We often hear glib statements about the “fog of war” or “war is hell” or “we don’t do body counts”. My numbers are admittedly underestimates for reasons discussed herein (an incomplete universe of recorded deaths, a propensity of the Pentagon and its Afghan client to label as militants what were civilians, the injured who later die from wounds, censorship by omission, etc). Not counting or estimating means playing into the hands of those who market the U.S. war in Afghanistan as a “clean” war, a “precision” war and the like. The latter is routinely trotted out by the apologists of aerial bombing; “It’s sort of the immaculate conception to warfare,” was how Professor of Strategy, Col. (retired U.S. Marine) Mackubin Owens at the U.S. Naval War College (Newport, R.I.) described the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan in November 2001.

The liberal British scholar of peace studies, Paul Rogers, wrote in a recent article about Afghanistan

…the impulses of sympathy with these radical forces (Taliban militias, Al Qaeda forces) are fuelled by the detailed reporting by Al Jazeera and other media outlets of the many civilian victims of western air strikes and other calamities in Afghanistan. This ensures that Muslims across the rest of the world are becoming as aware of what is happening in Afghanistan as they have been regarding Iraq since 2003.10

A reader in the post-9/11 world might conclude that since reporting of “the many civilian victims of Western air strikes” fuels the Muslim resistance, the next step is to ignore, disparage or silence such detailed reporting (which is, of course, precisely what the U.S. government has been doing). Sadly, we have come to live in a post-9/11 culture where silencing the messenger is acceptable. One recalls the U.S. bombing of the Al Jazeera office in Kabul on November 12, 2001. For the Pentagon and its many media boosters, there are good bodies (civilians killed by “our enemy”) and bad bodies (civilians killed by “our” militaries), respectively in the Western mainstream labelled accidental collateral damage and (Afghan civilians transformed by the click on a keyboard into) “militants” or “insurgents”.

Two main subterfuges have been used by the U.S. and NATO militaries, the compliant corporate media and organisations like HRW to excuse the killing and wounding of innocent Afghan civilians. The first is to express self-righteous anger over “them” killing civilians intentionally whereas “we” never intentionally target civilians. The second is to assert that the dastardly Taliban and their Muslim or Arab associates employ civilians as human shields.

A third means examined elsewhere 13 has been simply to suppress whenever possible written reports and especially photos of the victims of U.S./NATO military actions (“bad” bodies) in Afghanistan, all the while amply publishing stories and photos of Afghan civilians killed by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) or suicide bombers (“good” bodies). Photos of civilians whose death was caused by U.S. or NATO bombs are virtually non-existent.14 One might call this censorship by omission.15 News magazine photo coverage of the “war on terrorism” in Afghanistan most often supports U.S. government narrative and versions of events.16 The policy of embedding reporters with U.S. or NATO occupation forces is an obvious attempt at removing independent reporting, which, sadly, most often succeeds.

U.S. human rights lawyers charged on July 20, 2008, that U.S. military prisons were “legal black holes” and that force was employed to “shut people up” about activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Many people in Afghanistan and in Iraq who have been targeted for detention are local journalists covering the conflict in their own country,” said another prominent U.S. human rights lawyer, Barbara J. Olshansky.

“When the United States detains reporters, photographers, camera operators and holds them for long periods without charge for any offence and without trials and without any evidence, we know that part of the goal is to just shut people up,” she said.17

The mainstream U.S. corporate media led by Fox News largely has sought to present the Afghan invasion as a simple war of good versus evil.18 Texts or images that might have raised questions have been censored. Fox News has gone far beyond the call of duty in parroting U.S. military interpretations.19 Others in the U.S. corporate media have followed suit; for example, Laura King of A.P. has been a notorious under-counter of Afghan civilian deaths.20

A new twist in Pentagon/NATO news management has been introduced recently. As of August 2008, the U.S. Air Force no longer releases daily reports about missions over Afghanistan. On the British side, Britain is funding a surge in spin doctors in Afghanistan to construct and present pro-NATO/U.S. media reports.21

The intentionality argument is often couched in the language of justifiable collateral damage, regrettable but necessary. Since the killing was collateral, it cannot be intentional, goes the story. The overarching problem is the criminal nature of the offensive war first waged by the U.S. and Britain upon an entire sovereign country after 9/11. The collective group of “Afghans” has de facto been targeted for seven years as lives and countryside have been laid to waste; anyone who opposes the U.S./NATO occupation is by definition an “enemy” and can be justifiably killed collaterally. As pointed out by others, “[we] can’t possibly judge the morality of collateral damage while leaving out the question of the war itself… it is the immorality and illegality of a war that makes collateral damage a crime.”22

As I wrote in late 2001:

The absolute need to avoid U.S. military casualties means flying high up in the sky, increasing the probability of killing civilians:

“…better stand clear and fire away. Given this implicit decision, the slaughter of innocent people as a statistical eventuality is not an accident but a priority – in which Afghan civilian casualties are substituted for American military casualties.”24

Today, the aerial bombing in Afghanistan is more related to close air support (CAS) called in by ground forces as a means to defeat the enemy without having to fight him on the ground and possibly suffer casualties. Both high-level bombing and midnight ground attacks served to shift the burden of casualties upon Afghan civilians. The doctrine that ‘war is hell’ seeks to transfer any responsibility for the cruelty of war to the enemy.27 The U.S./NATO war managers and their handmaidens in the defence and corporate media establishments dredge out the tired old “intent” argument. As Edward Herman noted:

…it is claimed by the war managers that these deaths and injuries are not deliberate, but are only “collateral” to another end, they are treated by the mainstream media, NGOs [non-governmental organisations], new humanitarians, and others as a lesser evil than cases where civilians are openly targeted. But this differential treatment is a fraud, even if we accept the sometimes disputable claim of inadvertence (occasionally even acknowledged by officials to be false, as described below). Even if not the explicit target, if collateral civilian deaths are highly probable and statistically predictable they are clearly acceptable and intentional. If in 500 raids on Afghan villages alleged to harbour Al Qaeda cadres it is likely that civilians will die in 450 of them, those deaths are an integral component of the plan and the clear responsibility of the planners and executioners. As law professor Michael Tonry has said, “In the criminal law, purpose and knowledge are equally culpable states of mind.” 28

What also needs to be made very clear is that Afghan civilian casualties are not accidents or mistakes. They result from careful calculation by U.S. commanders and military attorneys who decide upon the benefits of an air strike versus the costs in innocent civilian lives lost. These are calculated predicted deaths.29

Aerial bombing in the name of liberating Afghans will continue with little regard for Afghan civilians who for Western politico-military elites remain simply invisible in the empty space which is an “increasingly aerially occupied Afghanistan”.30 The compliant mainstream media perpetuate the myth by serving as the stenographer of the Pentagon’s virtual reality. Patrick Coburn of The Independent got it dead-on:

The reaction of the Pentagon to the killing of large numbers of civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Pakistan has traditionally been first to deny that it ever happened. The denial is based on the old public relations principle that “first you say something is no news and didn’t happen. When it is proved some time later that it did happen, you yawn and say it is old news.”31

When details of Afghan civilian deaths finally leak through the U.S./NATO news management efforts, a Lt. Col. at the Bagram Air Base offers “sincere regrets” or the promise of an investigation and by the next day all is forgotten. They are, after all, just Afghans “we” killed. Theirs are bad bodies, not good bodies like those on “our” side that were killed.

A myth has circulated since the beginning of the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan in October 2001. It is endlessly repeated by the U.S. occupation forces, corporate media, the Pentagon, defence intellectual pundits, HRW, the Cruise Missile Left, the humanitarian interventionists, and even some in the United Nations: Afghan insurgents hide amongst civilians whom they use as human shields.32

To begin with, the assertion is never empirically documented but just merely stated as a self-evident truth. Secondly, the implication is that an insurgent or Taliban fighter, resisting the U.S./NATO invasion, should stand alone on a mountain ridge, his AK-47 raised to the sky, and engage in a “fair” act of war with an Apache attack helicopter or an A-10 Warthog and see who prevails. Should resistance fighters stand out in an open field or on a mountain ridge? Thirdly, what is conveniently omitted is that the insurgents often live in the area and have friends and families in the communities, and that such a local support base is precisely what gives a guerilla insurgency (along with knowledge of the local terrain) its classic advantage.33 Such local connection means that the insurgents will (unlike the U.S./NATO occupation forces) go to great lengths not to put local people in danger. Purveyors of the line about the “Taliban’s execrable tactic of using civilians as human shields”34 are either themselves unaware of classic guerilla strategy or, more likely, seek to manipulate the general public’s ignorance about the same. Using the language of guerilla warfare, can a “fish” swim outside of the “sea”? One recalls the U.S. military’s campaign in Vietnam to drain the sea by creating strategic hamlets (translate, concentration camps), seeking to deny the Vietnamese resistance access to sympathetic villagers.

Simon Jenkins pointed out that massacres committed by infantry men are subject to courts marital. He wrote, “If soldiers enter a house by the front door and kill civilians inside, then they are hauled before world opinion and condemned. If a dropped bomb enters the same house through the roof and has the same effect, it is dismissed as collateral damage.”80 Lastly, presumably after some months at Harvard, Arkin concluded: “We do not have enough reliable data even to gauge the level of civilian deaths (at U.S. hands, moreover), let alone the “responsible party within the U.S. military”. In other words, the Harvard Fellow dismisses outright numbers and accounts compiled by the United Nations in Kabul, the A.P. and myself.

A conservative estimate would be that during 2006, half the deaths were caused by aerial attacks and in 2007 and 2008, two-thirds.

... in direct proportion to a nation’s level of average material development. Afghanistan figures at the bottom along with the victims of Bhopal. When presented in PPP $’s a clear hierarchy is revealed: Euro-Americans are worth most followed by East Asians whereas Central/South Asians figure last. Were an Afghan compensated for according to the traditional practice of the diyat, the amount would approach that paid out (in PPP $’s) by the U.S. to the family of a victim of the Iranian Airbus shooting down. Instead, the U.S. military distributes a condolence payment one-fifteenth the amount offered to the family of an Iranian victim. Approximately $80,000 was spent on the rehabilitation of every sea otter affected by the Exxon Valdez oil spill,124 that is, 10 times the condolence amount offered by the U.S. military to the family of an Afghan killed.

Bombs away! U.S./NATO bombs kill about 10 times more Afghan civilians with a tonne of “precision” bombs than they killed Serbs in 1999.125 They (Afghans) are only worth one-tenth of an Alaskan sea otter rather than 40 camels.

The U.S. spends $10 on the military in Afghanistan to pursue its geostrategic aims and $1 on reconstructing the everyday lives of Afghans destroyed by 30 years of war.126 For (most) Americans, Afghans truly are lesser versions of humanity. Lest we forget, what did “America” do for Afghans when its geostrategic goal of defeating the Soviets was achieved in 1989? America cut and ran.

Conclusion: Obama’s Afghanistan as a surreal hunting estate

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

– Albert Einstein

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