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five years later: poverty, violence, misery
The hard-line Islamic Taliban that appeared down and out
has returned, taking control of large swaths of countryside.
Widespread poverty has smoothed its way, shaking what little
confidence Afghans have in their democratically elected government.
. . . More than 3,000 people have been killed in rising violence
this year. Suicide bombers are targeting ordinary Afghans
and Western troops. Militants are assassinating key political
figures, burning down schools and using roadside bombs to
deadly effect. . . . The 40,000 U.S. and NATO troops appear
further from bringing stability than they did three years
ago when their number was 2 ½ times smaller. And
Osama bin Laden, whose presence here was a trigger for the
U.S.-led attack, is still at large, possibly hiding in the
mountains along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. . . . "This
is likely to be a long war," said Seth Jones, an
analyst with the U.S.-based RAND Corp. . . . Drug production
that was all but wiped out by the Taliban by 2001 has shot
up. Afghan farmers grew enough opium in 2005-06 to make 610
tons of heroin more than all the world's addicts consume
in a year. . . . Profits go to Taliban supporters and
to corrupt government officials and police who, like teachers
and soldiers, make only $70 a month. . . . Large areas
of southern and eastern provinces near the Pakistan border
are under Taliban control, said Ayesha Khan, an Afghanistan
expert in Britain. Abdul Salaam Rocketi, a legislator and
former Taliban commander, ticks off the militant strongholds:
Kandahar, Helmand, Uruzgan, Zabul, Paktika, Khost, Kunar and
Ghazni provinces. . . . When 8,000 NATO troops moved to the
border area this year to extend the government's control,
they were surprised by the intensity of the resistance, often
in pitched battles. . . . More than 3,000 people, mostly
militants, have been killed nationwide in 2006, according
to an Associated Press count. The tally, also including Afghan
security forces, officials and civilians, is about 1,500
more than the toll for all of 2005. . . . Western
casualties have been rising, too 152 foreign troops
killed this year, according to icasualties.org. That's almost
triple the number of deaths in 2003 or 2004. . . . Of the
280 U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001, 69 have
died in nine months this year. NATO countries Britain and
Canada are reeling from recent losses, including 10 Canadians
killed last month. . . . The war's cost for U.S. taxpayers:
$97 billion, and Congress just appropriated $70 billion more
for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
NATO backing out of Afhaanistan?
(BBC News, 13 September 2006)
No formal offers have been made by Nato states in response
to requests by commanders in Afghanistan for 2,500 extra
troops, Nato says. . . . Differing rules of engagement between
Nato states are creating difficulties. . . . However,
a Nato spokesman said there were "positive indications"
some might consider sending forces in the future. . . . There
are at least 18,500 foreign, mainly Nato soldiers in Afghanistan
in addition to about the same number of US troops deployed.
. . . Half of them are in the south where Canadian and British
forces are sharing the burden with US aircraft support and
special forces on the ground. . . . "The Canadians,
Brits and many others are fighting very, very hard and
they're stretched thin, and they need overall support,"
Mr Appathurai said. . . . The Dutch, Australians and Estonians
are also in southern Afghanistan but correspondents say many
other countries have been reluctant to commit troops to what
is currently the most dangerous part of the mission. . . .
Last month, Nato commanders took over from US-led coalition
forces but there has been a resurgence of Taleban attacks,
above all in the south.
of Taliban assault police post
(AMIR SHAH, Associated Press, July 24, 2006)
Hundreds of Taliban fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades
on Monday attacked a district headquarters in southwestern
Afghanistan, killing three police and wounding seven, amid
of a flurry of suicide attacks, roadside bombings and shootings
that claimed lives across the country. . . . A car bomb seriously
wounded two U.S.-led coalition soldiers near Kandahar, and
in another incident, four suspected suicide attackers riding
two motorcycles died in a confrontation with Afghan police.
In the west, gunmen killed two Afghans working for international
aid agency World Vision who had been delivering medicine.
. . . It was the latest in a bloody wave of violence between
resurgent Taliban-led rebels and Afghan and foreign troops
. . . Afghanistan is experiencing its worst spate of violence
since late 2001, when the Taliban regime was overthrown in
a U.S.-led invasion. . . . The most intense fighting has
been in the south, where NATO is bolstering its presence as
it prepares to take over the security of the region from U.S.-led
coalition by the end of July with troop numbers increased
to 16,000 from 9,700. . . . It's one of the biggest and most
dangerous missions in NATO's history, and has been met with
stiff resistance from Taliban-led fighters who increasingly
appear to adopt methods used by militants in Iraq.
crash sparks Afghanistan riot
(BBN News, 29 May 2006)
Riots have broken out in the Afghan capital, Kabul, after
at least seven people were killed in an accident involving
a US military convoy. . . . The incident sparked angry scenes
in which crowds shouting anti-US slogans began throwing stones
and burning cars, police said. . . . The BBC's Alastair
Leithead in Kabul says he can hear the sound of machine-gun
fire which suggests that US troops may have returned fire.
. . . Staff at the US embassy have been moved to a secure
location, a spokesman says. . . . The unrest began after a
US military vehicle apparently lost control and smashed into
other vehicles, reports say. . . . "There was a military
flatbed truck which had a mechanical failure, maybe a break
problem, and it crashed into some civilian vehicles,"
a US-led coalition spokeswoman, Lieutenant Tamara Lawrence,
is quoted as saying by AFP. . . . Hundreds of Afghans gathered
in the wake of the accident chanting "Death to America"
and "Death to Karzai", referring to Afghan President
Hamid Karzai. . . . They pelted the US military vehicles
with stones before the shooting began, forcing them to scatter.
civilians killed by US forces'
(BBC News, 18, April, 2006)
Six people, including a mother and her newborn baby, have
been injured in two incidents in eastern Afghanistan, reportedly
by American forces. . . . Both the incidents took place in
Khost province. A six-year-old boy was also injured in one
of the incidents. . . . The reports come as President Hamid
Karzai has ordered a probe into the killing of seven civilians
by coalition forces over the weekend. . . . The mother
was travelling home from a clinic with her newborn baby after
midnight in the Yaqubi district of Khost in the east of Afghanistan
when they were fired upon by US forces, a family member told
the BBC. . . . The mother, the baby and two other women
in the car were injured. One of had gunshot wounds in her
mouth, doctors said. . . . Wakil Ahmed, a family member, told
the BBC: "We were on our way back home from the clinic.
The American patrol was driving and as they stopped, we stopped.
They started driving, we did the same. . . . "As we
got close to our house they stopped, and we started driving
towards our house. They opened fire on us. Minutes later
a translator came to us and asked who we were." .
. . Then in Khost city a few hours later, another car
was shot at by a US patrol - a young man and a six-year-old
boy were wounded. . . . The civilians were reportedly
killed in "friendly fire" incidents during fighting
President Orders U.S. Base Closed
(Alex Rodriguez, Chicago Tribune, November 22, 2005)
The US military yesterday closed its air base in Uzbekistan
that was used for Afghanistan operations, a shutdown ordered
by Uzbek President Islam Karimov after the United States joined
calls for an international inquiry into the authoritarian
leader's handling of the Andijan uprising. . . . The shutdown
of the air base at Karshi-Khanabad leaves a US air base at
Manas, Kyrgyzstan, as the Pentagon's primary staging point
in Central Asia for combat and humanitarian missions in Afghanistan.
. . . Continued US access to Manas became crucial after Karimov
announced in late July that he was giving the United States
six months to shut down its operations at Karshi-Khanabad.
US and Western European leaders had been pressing Karimov
to allow an international investigation into his regime's
bloody crackdown on demonstrators May 13 in the eastern Uzbekistan
city of Andijan. . . . Human rights groups have said that
up to 700 or more people died that day. Eyewitnesses said
most of the dead were unarmed demonstrators shot by Uzbek
soldiers. Karimov has maintained that his troops fired solely
on armed protesters. He put the death toll at 187. . . . The
United States has maintained air bases in northern Kyrgyzstan
and southern Uzbekistan since 2001, when American troops invaded
Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime. The Taliban collapsed
by December 2001, but insurgents have kept up attacks on US
troops and Afghan authorities. . . . Shortly before Karimov
ordered the United States out of Karshi-Khanabad, Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek
Bakiyev in July to win assurances for continued access to
Manas. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with Bakiyev
in October and secured a written commitment from the Kyrgyz
leader. . . . The Russian news agency Interfax reported
that the last US military plane left the base yesterday afternoon
after a short ceremony. The Pentagon also has agreed to
pay Uzbekistan $23 million for use of the base. Some US lawmakers
bristled at the idea of paying an authoritarian government
with a long history of human rights abuses.
Pat Tillman Murdered to Keep His Anti-war Position a Secret?
(Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle, September 25,
As [Mary Tillman] pores through testimony from three previous
Army investigations into the killing of her son, former
football star Pat Tillman, by his fellow Army Rangers
last year in Afghanistan, she hopes that a new inquiry launched
in August by the Pentagons inspector general finally
will answer the familys questions: Were witnesses allowed
to change their testimony on key details, as alleged by one
investigator? Why did internal documents on the case, such
as the initial casualty report, include false information?
When did top Pentagon officials know that Tillmans
death was caused by friendly fire, and why did they delay
for five weeks before informing his family? . . . "There
have been so many discrepancies so far that it's hard to know
what to believe," Mary Tillman said. "There are
too many murky details." . . . A Chronicle review of
more than 2,000 pages of testimony, as well as interviews
with Pat Tillmans family members and soldiers who served
with him, found contradictions, inaccuracies and what appears
to be the militarys attempt at self-protection. . .
. For example, the documents contain testimony of the first
investigating officer alleging that Army officials allowed
witnesses to change key details in their sworn statements
so his finding that certain soldiers committed "gross
negligence" could be softened. . . . Interviews also
show a side of Pat Tillman not widely known a fiercely
independent thinker who enlisted, fought and died in service
to his country yet was critical of President Bush and opposed
the war in Iraq, where he served a tour of duty. . . .
The soldier next to him testified: I could hear the
pain in his voice as he called out, Cease fire, friendlies,
I am Pat fing Tillman, dammit. He said this over
and over until he stopped, having been hit by three
bullets in the forehead, killing him. . . . The soldier
continued, I then looked over at my side to see a river
of blood coming down from where he was
I saw his head
was gone. Two other Rangers elsewhere on the mountainside
were injured by shrapnel. . . . Tillman's death came at a
sensitive time for the Bush administration just a week
before the Army's abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq
became public and sparked a huge scandal. The Pentagon immediately
announced that Tillman had died heroically in combat with
the enemy, and President Bush hailed him as "an inspiration
on and off the football field, as with all who made the ultimate
sacrifice in the war on terror." . . . Not until five
weeks later, as Tillmans battalion was returning home,
did officials inform the public and the Tillman family that
he had been killed by his fellow soldiers. . .
. "The administration clearly was using this case for
its own political reasons," said the father, Patrick
Tillman. "This cover-up started within minutes of Pats
death, and it started at high levels. This is not something
that (lower-ranking) people in the field do," he said.
. . . The files show that many of the soldiers questioned
in the inquiry said it was common knowledge that the incident
involved friendly fire. . . . A soldier who on April 23 burned
Tillmans bullet riddled body armor -- which would have
been evidence in a friendly-fire investigation -- testified
that he did so because there was no doubt it was friendly
fire that killed Tillman. Two days later, Tillmans uniform
and vest also were burned because they were soaked in blood
and considered a biohazard. Tillmans uniform also was
burned. . . . The officer who led the first investigation
testified that when he was given responsibility for the probe
the morning after Tillmans death, he was informed
that the cause was "potential fratricide." Yet
other Tillman family members are less reluctant to show Tillman's
unique character, which was more complex than the public image
of a gung-ho patriotic warrior. He started keeping a journal
at 16 and continued the practice on the battlefield, writing
in it regularly. (His journal was lost immediately after
his death.) Mary Tillman said a friend of Pat's
even arranged a private meeting with Chomsky, the antiwar
author, to take place after his return from Afghanistan
-- a meeting prevented by his death. She said that
although he supported the Afghan war, believing it justified
by the Sept. 11 attacks, "Pat was very critical of
the whole Iraq war."
Elections: US Solution to a US Problem
(Jim Ingalls and Sonali Kolhatkar, October 6th, 2004)
Afghanistan will undergo the first presidential elections
in the country's history on October 9, 2004. As if surprised
by the fact that Afghans could want a voice in their country's
future, George W. Bush touted the fact that over 10 million
Afghans registered to vote as "a resounding endorsement for
democracy." The real surprise is that, despite rampant anti-election
violence and threats of violence, so many people were brave
enough to register. This certainly indicates that Afghans
are desperate for a chance to control their own lives. But,
even though many will risk their lives to vote, the majority
of Afghans played no part in decisionmaking regarding the
schedule and structure of the elections, and will not benefit
from the results. This election process was imposed by
the United States to solve "Afghan problems" as defined by
the United States. In reality, the problems facing Afghans
are the results of decisions made in Washington in the 1980s
and 1990s. . . . Violence against election workers and
politicians is on the rise...Hardly anyone expects the voting
to meet international standards." A commonly cited statistic
indicating voter fraud is the estimated 10% over-registration
countrywide. According to Business Week, "some areas have
registration rates as high as 140% of projected eligible voters."
This is definitely disturbing, and is a blow to Bush's own
election propaganda, since he uses the "over 10 million registered"
figure in campaign speeches as an example of the success of
his foreign policy. . . . In reality the Afghan presidential
elections will be a test not of "Afghan democracy," but of
Bush's ability to impose his political order on a country.
. . . Women are Pawns in Election . . . The Bush administration
constantly calls attention to the fact that 4 million of those
who registered to vote in Afghanistan were women. . . . the
Afghan political environment, controlled by US-backed warlords
and a US-backed president, remains extremely hostile to women.
Women comprise 60% of the population but only 43% of registered
voters. Additionally, sharp differences in literacy between
men and women put women at a huge disadvantage. Only 10%
of Afghan women can read and write. While school attendance
of girls has increased to about 50% nationwide, it is too
early to affect women voters. Furthermore, under Karzai's
presidency, married women were banned from attending schools
in late 2003. . . . only one dollar out of every $5,000
($112,500 out of $650 million) of US financial aid sent to
Afghanistan in 2002 was actually given to women's organizations.
In 2003, according to Ritu Sharma, Executive Director of the
Women's Edge Coalition, that amount was reduced to $90,000.
At the same time, women have increasingly been the targets
of violence. New studies by groups like Amnesty International
reveal that sexual violence has surged since the fall of the
Taliban, and there has been a sharp rise in incidents of women's
self-immolation in Western Afghanistan. Amnesty International
has documented an escalation in the number of girls and young
women abducted and forced into marriage, with collusion from
the state (those who resist are often imprisoned). . . . US
policy has empowered extreme fundamentalists who have further
extended women's oppression in a traditionally ultra-conservative
society. In a public opinion survey conducted in Afghanistan
this July by the Asia Foundation, 72% of respondents said
that men should advise women on their voting choices and 87%
of all Afghans interviewed said women would need their husband's
permission to vote. On International Women's Day this
year, Hamid Karzai only encouraged such attitudes. He implored
men to allow their wives and sisters to register to vote,
assuring them, "later, you can control who she votes for,
but please, let her go [to register]." Most of the candidates
running against Karzai have mentioned rights for women in
some form or another as part of their campaign platforms.
While this is obligatory in post-Taliban Afghanistan, it is
little more than lip service. Latif Pedram, a candidate
who went slightly further than others by suggesting that polygamy
was unfair to women, was barred from the election and investigated
by the Justice Ministry for "blasphemy". . . . "warlords
and local commanders are the main sources of instability in
the country." While most women may need the permission of
their husbands to vote, their choices will be extremely limited,
since most Afghans are being intimidated by US backed warlords
into voting for them. According to Brad Adams, Asia Director
at Human Rights Watch, "Many voters in rural areas say the
[warlord] militias have already told them how to vote, and
that they're afraid of disobeying them." . . . To preserve
control, or at least validate the propaganda that Afghanistan
is a victory for the US "war on terror," the Bush administration
is actively lobbying Karzai's opponents to not run. According
to the Los Angeles Times, thirteen of the 18 candidates, including
Qanooni, have complained about interference from Zalmay Khalilzad,
the U.S. Ambassador. Khalilzad has reportedly "requested"
candidates to withdraw from the race, attempting to bribe
them with a position in the cabinet. . . . Post election Afghanistan
will look very much as it does today, if not worse. If Karzai
wins with the backing of some or all Northern Alliance factions,
their leaders will be awarded high-level positions, further
entrenching and legitimizing them. If Karzai wins without
enough support from his opponent warlords, the losing parties
may attack the central government, reverting the country to
civil war. If Karzai loses, the warlords might form an alliance
government, a horrible thought to contemplate considering
the 1992-1996 "coalition government" of many of the same factions.
woes plague Afghanistan
(Malcolm Garcia, Knight Ridder Newspapers, April 14, 2004)
With the United States preoccupied by the insurgency in Iraq,
Afghan and Western officials are warning that rebellious warlords
and a rise in crime are threatening the security of Afghanistan
and could undermine efforts to hold national elections in
the fall. . . . The violence still plaguing Afghanistan
almost three years after coalition forces toppled the hard-line
Taliban regime illustrates the kinds of problems that the
United States could face in Iraq, even if it subdues the current
insurgency and transfers power by the end of June. With the
United States preoccupied by the insurgency in Iraq, Afghan
and Western officials are warning that rebellious warlords
and a rise in crime are threatening the security of Afghanistan
and could undermine efforts to hold national elections in
the fall. . . . militias associated with warlords are
a growing presence, particularly in Kabul's western suburbs.
Soldiers with the international security force in Kabul regularly
find heavy weapons and ammunition hidden throughout the city.
To date, they have destroyed more than 200,000 antitank weapons,
guided missiles, mines and other explosives. . . . January
was a deadly month in Kabul. A suicide bomber drove into a
security patrol killing one British soldier and injuring several
others. A few days later, two people were killed and several
others injured by another suicide bomber. . . . "These
attacks are a shock to the system in Kabul, especially politically,"
said Nick Downie, project coordinator for Afghanistan's NGO
Security Offices. "The expectation was Kabul was not
in a war. This was thought to be a protected area." .
. . Areas just outside Kabul are opposed to the central
government, which makes it unsafe to travel even short distances,
especially at night. Letters threatening the international
community are routinely found in Logar province, a former
Taliban stronghold, less than an hour from Kabul. . .
. A poorly paid police force -- wages average about $50 a
month -- lacks the motivation to crack down on crime. Demonstrations
by officers for higher pay are common. Many police remain
employed by warlords. Those who are assigned to work in the
provinces are often rejected by the regional warlord and sent
back to Kabul. . . . In west Kabul, residents regularly report
being robbed by troops of the former fundamentalist mujahideen
leader Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, whose headquarters in the Paghman
district are less than an hour from Kabul.
Worried Afghanistan Falling Apart
Two influential U.S. senators questioned the stability of
the Afghan government on Wednesday and warned the U.S. envoy
and ambassador-designate to Kabul that the country may fall
apart on his watch. . . . "We are in jeopardy of losing
Afghanistan to become a failed state again," Sen.
Joseph Biden told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at
a hearing on the nomination of Zalmay Khalilzad as ambassador
to Kabul. . . . Lugar and Biden, a Delaware Democrat and ranking
minority senator on the committee, have long urged a greater
U.S. commitment to Afghanistan, which the United States invaded
in 2001 to overthrow the ruling Taliban. . . . The Bush
administration has given Afghanistan a lower priority than
Iraq, as reflected in its request that the U.S. Congress approve
$20 billion for rebuilding Iraq and about $1 billion for Afghanistan.
. . . The United States has also pressed other members of
NATO to provide most of the troops for an international peace
force in Afghanistan. Until recently, it showed little enthusiasm
for the idea of expanding the NATO force to areas outside
Kabul. . . . Biden said that even after NATO approved an expansion,
he was not sure that the Bush administration fully backed
it. . . . Biden also quoted a report by the Vienna-based U.N.
Office on Drugs and Crime as saying that Afghanistan was in
danger of falling into the hands of drug cartels. . . . "Either
major surgical drug-control measures are taken now or the
drug cancer in Afghanistan will keep spreading and metastasize
into corruption, violence and terrorism," the U.N. agency's
director, Antonio Maria Costa, said in the report.
[COMMENT: It seems to me that the Bush administration
is creating more terrorists than it is capturing. ... Lorenzo]
on Edge of Chaos
(Robyn Dixon, The Los Angeles Times, 04 August 2003)
The May attack on the Afghanistan Development Agency car in
Wardak province, south of Kabul on the road to Kandahar, injured
Kahn but killed the driver. . . . "They weren't robbers
or thieves," said Kahn, 46. "They just wanted to
kill us. They're people against the government. They thought
that maybe there would be some foreigners or some officials
from aid organizations in the car. That's why they shot us."
. . . U.S. forces have their hands full trying to subdue
attacks in Iraq. But with the slow buildup of a national Afghan
army, an inadequate U.S. and coalition presence and poor progress
on reconstruction projects, Afghanistan is spiraling out of
control and risks becoming a "narco-mafia" state,
some humanitarian agencies warn. . . . If the country
slips into anarchy, it risks becoming a haven for resurgent
Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. And the point of U.S. military
action here could be lost - a major setback in the war against
terrorism. . . . U.S. promises of a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan
raised Afghan expectations, but security and reconstruction
woes are undermining support for the coalition among ordinary
Afghans. Their disappointment and disillusionment plays into
the hands of anti-government militants. . . . There are 8,500
U.S. military personnel leading the 11,500 anti-terrorist
coalition forces in Afghanistan. An additional 5,000 international
troops secure the capital city, Kabul. A key missing piece
is an Afghan army, but with only 4,000 troops trained so far,
it will take many years to reach the planned 70,000-strong
force. It won't be ready in time to ensure free and fair elections
scheduled for June. Some of the 4,000 trained soldiers
have already defected because of poor salaries and low morale.
. . . The security vacuum outside Kabul has emboldened Taliban
fighters, who constitute the bulk of anti-government militants,
some who cross from Pakistan, others based in the east and
south. U.S. officials say the Taliban controls part of the
opium business, a rich source of funds to attract fighters.
the US needs the Taliban
(Ramtanu Maitra, Information Clearing House, 07/29/03)
US troops in Afghanistan are now encountering more enemy
attacks than ever before, and clashes between Pakistani
and Afghan troops along the tribal borders have been reported
regularly. . . . the Taliban and its allies have regrouped
in Pakistan and are recruiting fighters from religious schools
in Quetta in a campaign funded by drug trafficking. Hagenbeck
also said that these enemies of US and Afghan forces have
been joined by Al-Qaeda commanders who are establishing new
cells and sponsoring the attempted capture of American troops.
One other piece of news of import from Hagenbeck is that the
Taliban have seized whole swathes of the country. . . . Among
Americans, only the special envoy of the US president to Afghanistan
and a good friend of President Karzai, Zalmay Khalilzad, has
shown any concern about the recent developments. Khalilzad
has little choice but to keep up a bold front to the Afghans,
telling them how his bosses in Washington are doing their
best to rebuild Afghanistan, and attributes the present crisis
to the security situation. Like everyone else, Khalilzad has
little in reality to offer and, given the opportunity, falls
back on what "must be done" and "should be
done". . . . To begin with, it was clear from the outset
that the United States never really wanted to be in Afghanistan.
It was basically a jumping-off point for the "big enchilada",
the re-shaping of the Middle East's politics and regimes.
The Afghan reconstruction talk was mostly wishful thinking.
For anyone familiar with present-day Afghanistan - its security
situation, the drug production and trafficking, its destroyed
infrastructure, its rampant illiteracy and poverty - its
reconstruction by foreigners is either a dream or a string
of motivated lies. . . . the Bush administration has come
to realize that it is impossible to keep Pakistan as a friend
and simultaneously keep the Northern Alliance-backed government
in power in Kabul. The "puppet" Pashtun leader in
Kabul, Hamid Karzai, does not have the approval of Pakistan
and the majority of the rest of the Pashtun community straddling
both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. So, either
one has Pakistan as a friend with an Islamabad-backed Pashtun
group in power in Kabul, or one gets Pakistan as an enemy.
There should be no doubt in anyone's mind how the Bush administration
would act when confronted with such a choice. . . . "Russia
remains involved with the major warlords [of Afghanistan].
One such warlord, Rashid Dostum, was recently on a shopping
spree for arms and equipment from Moscow. Russia believes
it has its own experience and expertise in Afghanistan and
must reestablish its interests. Given the history, Pakistan
is very uncomfortable with this development." . . . .It
was evident in October 2001, when the United States went pell-mell
into Afghanistan with the help of the Northern Alliance, that
America's hastily-organized arrangement there was unsustainable.
It was clear that no matter what Islamabad says, or how much
pressure is brought to bear on it, Pakistan has absolutely
no reason whatsoever to agree to such an arrangement. . .
. Washington came to appreciate the non-sustainability of
this arrangement when Musharraf, in a sleight of hand, brought
the Muttahida Majlis-e Amal - the MMA, also known as "Musharraf,
Mullahs and the Army" - to power in the two provinces
bordering Afghanistan. At that point, Karzai's tenure as president
of Afghanistan shrank abruptly, and Washington deemed it
time to give up the "Marshall Plan for Afghanistan"
and settle for next best - Taliban rule in Afghanistan under
Pakistani control, once again.
WHY AFGHANISTAN WAS INVADED
(William Thomas, May 26, 2003)
The Caspian Sea basin's 200 billion barrels of untapped "black
gold" appeared to offer Washington a strategic counterbalance
equal to Saudi Arabia's immense oil reserves. At least those
were the Central Asian oil estimates in 2001 when the Bush
administration ignored UN sanctions against the Taliban and
began crude negotiations with murderous misogynist mullahs
for a pipeline deal. [The Forbidden Truth: U.S. -- Taliban
Secret Oil Diplomacy, Saudi Arabia and the Failed Search for
Now, after war crimes that included the slaughter of thousands
of unarmed prisoners, and cluster bomb and radioactive cruise
missile attacks against thousands more defenseless civilians,
the return to rapacious rule by warlords worse than the Taliban
is being overlooked by American occupiers preoccupied with
three exploratory oil wells.
Guess what? These new findings shrank the Caspian oil ocean
to a more modest subterranean lake of just 10 to 20 billion
barrels of poor quality, high-sulphur crude. According to
top oil experts interviewed by Mike Ruppert, several "majors"
have already abandoned their post-war pipeline plans.
Oops! With the planet's biggest polluters and oil consumers
set to import 90% of their addiction by 2020, Bush and his
Enron backers quickly turned their attention to Iraq's awesomely
estimated oil reserves. As Ruppert remarks, "Our greatest
nemesis, Bin Laden, was quickly replaced with our new public
enemy #1, Saddam Hussein" -- whose brutal regime had
been virtually ignored for decades by the government which
put him in power. [From The Wilderness 10/19/02, 12/5/02]
Still no peace in Afghanistan
(Seumas Milne, The Guardian, Thursday April 10, 2003)
On the streets of Baghdad yesterday, it was Kabul, November
2001, all over again. Then, enthusiasts for the war on terror
were in triumphalist mood, as the Taliban regime was overthrown.
The critics had been confounded, they insisted, kites were
flying, music was playing again and women were throwing off
their burkas. In parliament, Jack Straw mocked Labour MPs
who predicted US and British forces would still be fighting
in the country in six months' time. . . . Seventeen months
later, such confidence looks grimly ironic. For most Afghans,
"liberation" has meant the return of rival warlords,
harsh repression, rampant lawlessness, widespread torture
and Taliban-style policing of women. Meanwhile, guerrilla
attacks are mounting on US troops - special forces soldiers
have been killed in recent weeks, while 11 civilians died
yesterday in an American air raid - and the likelihood of
credible elections next year appears to be close to zero.
Peaceful transition in Afghanistan?
A letter to the LA Times, 12/17/01:
Re "Interim Afghan Leaders Sworn In," Dec. 23:
After hearing a similar claim on TV, I was flabbergasted to
read in The Times that the ceremony swearing in Interim Prime
Minister Hamid Karzai marked "the first time in 28 years
that power has been transferred to a new Afghan government
without the use of guns."
Excuse me? In what universe does the dropping of 15,000-pound
"daisy cutter" bombs, three months of tribal fighting
and thousands dead not constitute the "use of guns"?
Truly, if The Times wishes to propagandize it should at least
wait until the fighting has ceased before it rewrites history.
Van Nuys, CA
VU IN AFGHANISTAN
(Eric S. Margolis, ForeignCorrespondent.com, December 19,
It took Soviet forces only a few days to occupy Afghanistan.
They installed a puppet ruler, Babrak Karmal. Moscow proclaimed
it had invaded Afghanistan to 'liberate' it from 'feudalism
and Islamic extremism,' and 'nests of terrorists and bandits.'
. . . Soviet propaganda churned out films of Red Army soldiers
playing with children, building schools, dispensing medical
care. Afghan women were to be liberated from the veil and
other backwards Islamic customs. The Soviet Union and its
local communist allies would bring Afghanistan into the 20th
Century. . . . Two years later, Afghans had risen against
their Soviet 'liberators' and were waging a low-intensity
guerilla war.Unable to control the countryside, Moscow
poured more troops into Afghanistan. . . . Fast forward to
December, 2002 and a disturbing sense of dj vu.
A new foreign army has easily occupied Afghanistan, overthrown
'feudal' Taliban and installed a puppet regime in Kabul. Western
media churns out the same rosy, agitprop stories the Soviets
did about liberating Afghanistan, freeing women, educating
children. The only real difference is that kids in today's
TV clips are waving American instead of Soviet flags. Invaders
have changed; the propaganda remains the same.. . . America's
Afghan adventure has gotten off to as poor a start as that
of the Soviet Union. The US-installed ruler of Kabul, veteran
CIA 'asset' Hamid Karzai, must be protected from his own people
by up to 200 US bodyguards. Much of Afghanistan is in chaos,
fought over by feuding warlords and drug barons. . . .
There are almost daily attacks on US occupation forces. My
old mujihadin sources say US casualties and equipment losses
in Afghanistan are far higher than Washington is reporting
- and rising. . . . CIA is trying to assassinate Afghan
nationalist leaders opposed to the Karzai regime in Kabul,
in particular my old acquaintance Gulbadin Hekmatyar. . .
. The Chief of the Russian General Staff and head of intelligence
directed the Alliance in its final attack on Taliban last
fall. Russia then supplied Alliance forces with $100 million
of arms, and is currently providing $85 milion of helicopters,
tanks, artillery, spare parts, as well as military advisors
and technicians. Russia now dominates much of northern Afghanistan.
. . . Anti-American Afghan forces - Taliban, al-Qaida,
and others - have regrouped and are mounting ever larger attacks
on US troops and, reports the UN, even re-opening training
camps. Taliban mujihadin are using the same sophisticated
early alert system they developed to monitor Soviet forces
in the 1980's to warn of American search and destroy missions
before they leave base. As a result, US troops keep chasing
shadows. . . . The ongoing cost of Afghan operations is a
closely guarded secret. Earlier this year, the cost of stationing
8,000 US troops, backed by warplanes and naval units, was
estimated at US $5 billion monthly! . . . CIA spends millions
every month to bribe Pushtun warlords. Costs will rise as
the US expands bases in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan,
Tajikistan, Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan - all placed along the
planned US owned pipeline that will bring Central Asian oil
south through Afghanistan. . . . The UN reports Taliban
and al-Qaida on the offensive, Afghan women remain veiled,
and the country in a dangerous mess. Declaring victory in
Afghanistan may have been premature.
It isn't Viet Nam . . . yet.
Afghan war is young; it may get a lot messier
(Fergal Keane, The Independent , 23 March 2002)
The allied operation in Afghanistan is not Vietnam. Not yet.
But there are similarities that any political and military
leader would do well to consider. The foreigners and their
Afghan allies hold the towns, but even here, as in Afghanistan,
much of the power is in the hands of powerful local figures.
The central government is weak and riven with discontent .
. . The guerrillas roam across a difficult terrain, sucking
in ever larger numbers of troops and then vanishing. Tonnes
of bombs fall from a great height but, like the airstrikes
in Vietnam, they cannot destroy the enemy. . . . I read of
an American soldier who expressed shock at these "guys
who come out and shoot at us and then vanish". He shouldn't
just study the Vietcong but go back to the British military
archive of the 19th century Afghan wars. . . . True the technology
available to attacking forces has improved dramatically over
the past decade, and the élite forces deployed by the
Allies are better trained and equipped than their Soviet predecessors.
But the Taliban and al-Qa'ida fighters have many advantages.
They know the terrain and they have numerous escape routes
along the porous border with Pakistan. They have a vast constituency
of support in the tribal areas on the border and the renegades
within Pakistan intelligence provide them with information
and matériel. . . . They also have a great deal of
time. Winters and summers will pass and the guerrillas will
wait and wait. They don't have to do very much. An ambush
here and there, and they can tie down huge numbers of troops.
. . . George Bush may have pledged an endless war against
terror. But I doubt the American people will thank him if
their sons are still dying in Afghanistan in 10 years.
quick pullout from Afghanistan - More U.S. ground troops to
(Roland Flamini, UPI, 3/21/2002)
"We would be misleading our publics if we said our peacekeeping
force was going to be out of Kabul by the end of 2003,"
a senior European official in Washington said Thursday. At
the same time, he said, the United States "is preparing
itself for a massive longer-term effort in Afghanistan, with
a lot more ground troops." . . . The United States has
about 5,000 troops inside Afghanistan, and a total force of
60,000 involved in the Afghan offensive, mostly on ships.
. . . European commentators have said that there would then
effectively be two parallel but separate peacekeeping forces
in Afghanistan -- ISAF in Kabul, and a U.S. peacekeeping force
in the rest of the country.
US troops pulled out of battleground, rescued by Afghan fighters
(Catherine Philp, Times Onlie, March 12, 2002)
HUNDREDS of American troops were pulled out of the ground
battle with al-Qaeda forces because they failed to adapt to
the guerrilla tactics required for fighting in the mountains,
according to their Afghan allies. . . . More than 1,000 Afghan
troops rushed to the front line yesterday to take up the slack
after the withdrawal of 400 US troops from the mountains of
eastern Afghanistan. . . . The American military has described
the withdrawal as a tactical reappraisal of their battleplan,
but Afghan commanders told a different story of inexperienced
American soldiers unable to advance through the unfamiliar
mountains to track down al-Qaeda and Taleban foes. . . . Shah
Mahood Popal, their deputy commander, believed it was self-preservation
that stopped the Americans from launching a more decisive
attack. "They didn't want to risk losing lots of fighters.
Afghans don't care if they lose lots of fighters, so we are
better suited for the task. They should stick to bombing,"
he said. . . . The new troops were dispatched from Kabul last
week after it became clear that the Americans had underestimated
the number of militants still left hiding up in the mountains.
Afghan commanders believe that the US has exaggerated the
number of casualties in the bombing campaign, saying that
at least several hundred al-Qaeda forces are up in mountain
caves ready to fight back. . . . "We have been very close
to their positions and we have seen no dead bodies,"
Commander Mohammed said.
Muslims call U.S. 'ruthless, arrogant' (CNN, February
Most Muslims surveyed expressed the view that the September
11 terrorist attacks on the United States were not justified
morally, but larger majorities labeled U.S. military action
in Afghanistan "morally unjustifiable." . . . Sixty-one
percent said they did not believe Arab groups carried out
the September 11 terrorist attacks. . . . Most respondents
said they thought the United States was aggressive and biased
against Islamic values. Specifically, they cited a bias against
Palestinians. . . . On Bush, 58 percent of those surveyed
had unfavorable opinions, compared with 11 percent who had