Posts Tagged ‘Karzai’

Why Are We in Afghanistan – Still?

December 7, 2010

by Tom Gallagher, CommonDreams.org, Dec 7, 2010

You have to wonder what it might take to get the man in the White House to acknowledge just how absurd the current U.S. military effort in Afghanistan has become. Would the president of Afghanistan himself telling us to start getting our troops out do it? Nah. How about the leader of the last country to send its army there telling us “Victory is impossible in Afghanistan”? Nope. Finding out that some of the guards who protect NATO bases were Taliban — but the top Taliban guy we’d been negotiating with actually wasn’t? Neither. A Hollywood agent might push this story as farce. But it’s real life and that qualifies it as tragedy.

Given that candidate Obama was so widely seen as a man of “new thinking,” one to deliver the country from tired old debates and morasses, one hoped President Obama would listen hard to what Mikhail Gorbachev had to say about the damage that a fruitless nine-years-plus war in Afghanistan can do to a country. But if so, no evidence yet.

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Scott Ritter: Our Murderers in the Sky

December 12, 2009

Scott Ritter, Truthdig.com, Dec 12, 2009

War is hell, as the saying goes. Murder, on the other hand, is a crime. In this age of the “long war” pitting the United States against the forces of global terror, it is critical that the American people be able to distinguish between the two. The legitimate application of military power to a problem that manifests itself, directly or indirectly, as a threat to the legitimate national security interests of the United States, while horrible in terms of its consequences, is not only defensible but mandatory.

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Afghanistan is now Obama’s war

December 2, 2009

By upping the stakes and sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, Obama dons the mantle of wartime president

Olivia Hampton, The Guardian/UK, Dec 2, 2009

US soldiers in Afghanistan, where they will soon be joined by 30,000 additional troopsUS soldiers in Afghanistan, as President Obama announces plans to send 30,000 reinforcements. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

In announcing his long-awaited Afghanistan troop decision on Tuesday night, Barack Obama donned the mantle of wartime president for good with the escalating conflict threatening to overshadow his tenure in the White House.

As part of the careful and treacherous balance he straddled in unveiling his revamped strategy, involving the accelerated deployment of 30,000 more troops on top of the 21,000 he dispatched shortly after taking office earlier this year, President Obama was careful to outline his plans to “finish the job” and finally extricate the US from one of its longest wars, starting in July 2011. To avoid being sucked into a quagmire in a war he did not start, the president must take heed of the lessons of history, where infusing more forces has yet to grant victory for the occupier in Afghanistan, that graveyard of empires.

Obama, who was swept to power in part on his promise to end one war – Iraq – is now escalating another. Does this make him a man of war, or a man of peace?

His primetime address from the halls of the West Point military academy, capping more than three months of protracted deliberations and hours spent huddling with his war council, comes just a week before he receives his Nobel peace prize. When Obama finally holds up that heavy medal, it may be an honour that he, and the Nobel committee that awarded it, have come to regret for its political liability.

The wave of goodwill that blessed his historic election, the very aspirations the Nobel nod rewarded, all of that has now subsided as scepticism and disillusionment have settled in, the greying president now down in his job approval ratings and bruised by almost a year of political battles. The messy deliberative process on Afghanistan, punctuated by a flurry of leaks and counterleaks, showed hesitation and second-guessing at a defining moment of his presidency, tarnishing the image built during the campaign of a White House fully in control of its message.

And it’s only the beginning. The drums of civil war among the Democrats and partisan fights are already rolling, with Pentagon chief Robert Gates, the country’s top military officer Admiral Michael Mullen and secretary of state Hillary Clinton kicking off on Wednesday a series of hearings on the deeply unpopular war. Now in its ninth year, the “war of necessity,” as Obama calls it, has failed to cripple a reinvigorated Taliban-led insurgency, and neither made a dent in the booming Afghan drug trade nor brought stability to a country still reeling from decades of war and two occupations. It is also killing more foreign troops and more Afghan civilians than ever before.

In the midst of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s, some of Obama’s fellow Democrats have already proposed a war surtax, with the US troop level now set to reach 100,000 at a cost of $1m per soldier, per year. Including contractors and military personnel, this means the US presence will be larger than that of Soviet forces at the height of its occupation in the 1980s. Factoring in hoped-for pledges from allies, around 150,000 forces are set to operate in Afghanistan, approximately the same number as US troops in Iraq after the 2007 surge.

Eager to tame restive Democrats while also reassuring Republicans he is not the naive peacenik they make him out to be, Obama made clear the “off-ramps” of US engagement in the years to come, with troop strength carefully calibrated to the Kabul government’s progress in battling rampant corruption and increasing the size and efficiency of Afghan security forces.

To close the gap between the president’s military orders – issued on Sunday – and the request for 40,000 additional boots on the ground from top US and Nato commander General Stanley McChrystal, the Obama administration is seeking another 5,000 to 10,000 troops from its allies. But with Britain, the second-largest contributor of military forces, only mustering a 500-troop increase so far, all does not spell well for that goal. Six others have promised reinforcements, while Canada and the Netherlands have already announced they are pulling out. Hillary Clinton heads to Europe next in a bid to secure commitments from governments also struggling to sell the war to their deeply sceptical publics.

The president is also facing dilemmas with a weak central government in nuclear-armed Pakistan, with Osama bin Laden believed to be hiding in its mountainous badlands along its border with Afghanistan after managing to evade the most powerful military in the world, and Afghan president Hamid Karzai seen as illegitimate by a large portion of his population. Iran, China and others also have entangled interests in the war-torn nation.

To the Pakistanis, Obama is vowing not to abandon them in a repeat of 1989, but the very talk of US exit strategies for Islamabad translates into growing influence from its arch-rival, India. While Pakistan’s own fight against militants is a key part of the plan, Washington keeps quiet about its involvement there because it is largely covert, mainly in the form of special forces operations and CIA-managed drone strikes targeting al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents, and out of fear of further destabilising an already fragile government. Last night Obama stressed that Pakistan’s stability was one of his main aims, with the need for a “strategy that works on both sides of the border” to eradicate the “cancer” of violent extremism.

In Karzai, back for a second term after fraud-marred elections, Washington has placed at the centre of its war strategy a mercurial partner. But Obama did not outline the consequences should Karzai fail to deliver, out of fear of further rattling an already tense relationship. That may signal a lowering of the bar on what defines success, the US satisfied perhaps with an Afghan government that can survive on its own. But even that’s a challenging objective.

For now, a war-weary US is braced for more flag-draped coffins and deeply scarred loved ones returning home.

Afghan human rights commission: US troops are committing war crimes

September 3, 2008

RINF.Com,Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

By Parwiz Shamal

AN AFGHAN human rights organisation has accused the United States army of committing war crimes in Afghanistan.

The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said on Tuesday that, according to their own investigations, civilians are killed in most operations conducted by US forces.

AIHRC expressed strong concern about the death of innocent Afghans during military operations and urged those responsible for the killings to face trial.

“According to our investigations, 98% of civilian casualties caused by the coalition forces in Afghanistan are intentional,” the head of the AIHRC, Lal Gul, said.

“The actions of the coalition forces, especially the American forces, are not only against the human rights laws, but are considered war crimes. Therefore, these forces have committed war crimes in Afghanistan,” he said.

Foreign forces maintain that they try their best to minimise civilian casualties in their operations.

They also accuse the Taliban of using civilians as human shields by taking shelter in residential homes and areas.

A spokesman for the AIHRC, Nadir Nadiri, said: “Whenever a military force, or one of the two sides in a war, kill innocent people intentionally, it has broken the international human rights law, and according to the human rights law, such people must be tried.”

NATO and the US-led coalition have come under fire from Afghan politicians, ordinary people and the local media for killing innocent civilians in recent weeks.

On Monday, residents accused foreign troops of killing four members of the same family during a midnight raid in Kabul, a claim the international troops strongly deny.

On August 22, a coalition raid on a village in the western province of Herat killed as many as 90 civilians, 60 of them children, a United Nations investigation into the ground and air operation revealed.

Karzai, who has also chided western generals for their failure to minimise civilian casualties, says the death of innocent Afghans only plays into the hands of the Taliban, who use the killings to turn people against the government.

More than 500 civilians have been killed during operations led by foreign and Afghan forces against militants this year, according to the Afghan government and some aid groups.

The UN says the civilian death-toll has increased “sharply” this year on last.

Afghanistan Anti-US demonstrations in Afghanistan

August 25, 2008

Euronews, 24/08 09:33 CET

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Angry protests have broken out in Afghanistan following the deaths of scores of civilians in an air attack by US-led coalition forces on Friday. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has condemned the air strike.

The father of some victims said the coalition forces should come and see that all those killed were children and not Taliban.

The US military said only armed Taliban militants were killed in Friday’s attack in Shindand district of Herat province. Province police official, Ekramuddin Yawar put the number of dead following the coalition operation at 76.

Hundreds of angry villagers have reportedly attacked Afghan soldiers with stones who were bringing aid to the families of those killed in the attack.The United Nations says nearly 700 civilians were killed in the first six months of this year, the majority of them by Taliban militants.

US-led forces kill more Afghan civilians

July 23, 2008
By Jerry White | World Socialist Web Site, 22 July 2008

US and NATO forces killed at least 13 Afghans over the weekend, adding to the toll of civilian deaths as the military intensifies efforts to crush opposition to the nearly seven-year-old US occupation.

The two latest incidents occurred as Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama visited Afghanistan and called for more US troops to be sent to the war-ravaged country.

On Sunday, US-led coalition forces killed four Afghan police officers and five civilians in the Anar Dara district in the western province of Farah, near the Iranian border. Coalition forces, which entered the area around midnight, waged a four-hour firefight and called in air strikes after reportedly receiving small arms fire from a group of local policemen.

Provincial Deputy Governor Younus Rasuli said the US-led convoy of troops never informed local police or officials of their plans to be in the area, and the policemen mistook them for Taliban fighters.

The US military issued a perfunctory statement justifying the action against what it described as a “non-uniformed hostile force.” Coalition forces, the statement said, had “engaged the enemy with precision close air support.”

In a separate incident Saturday night, NATO forces killed at least four civilians in eastern Paktika province when International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) fired two mortar rounds that landed nearly half a mile short of their target. The Associated Press reported that NATO was investigating whether three other civilians were also killed in the attack, which occurred in the Barmal district, an area made up mostly of Sunni Pashtun people.

The ISAF issued a statement saying it “deeply regrets this accident” and would investigate the incident. The alliance acknowledged it was providing medical aid to four others who were wounded in the attack.

As has been the case in previous such incidents in which, all told, thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed by US-led forces, military commanders insisted they were taking every precaution to prevent civilian deaths, which they said, were ultimately the fault of the insurgency.

The slaughter of innocent men, women and children, however, is inevitable given the neo-colonial character of the war and the counter-insurgency methods the US and NATO forces are using against growing popular resistance.

The number of attacks launched against the occupation forces has jumped by over 40 percent this summer. For the first time last month, US and allied casualties in Afghanistan surpassed those in Iraq.

In response to the deteriorating military situation, 646 bombs were dropped in June—the second highest total for any month of the war. In the first half of 2008, 1,853 bombs and missiles were used, 40 percent more than the same period last year.

The escalating violence took place as Obama visited Kabul on Sunday. In the morning he met with US troops at Camp Eggers, a heavily fortified military base in the city, praising them for their “excellent work.”

Later, in a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, he pledged additional military support to the puppet regime. Karzai’s spokesman said Obama was “committed to supporting Afghanistan and to continue the war against terrorism with vigor.” He said Democrats and Republicans “are friends of Afghanistan and no matter who wins the US elections, Afghanistan will have a very strong partner in the United States.”

In an interview from Kabul broadcast by CBS News on Sunday, Obama said the situation in the country was “precarious and urgent” and reiterated his position that Afghanistan had to become the focus of US military action, as opposed to the “strategic mistake” in Iraq that had diverted the US from the so-called “war on terror.”

Obama said as US troops left Iraq, at least 7,000 should be sent to the Central Asian country and that plans to increase US presence should not wait until the next administration takes office.

The massacre of Afghan civilians exposes the brutal, neo-colonial reality of US imperialist policy that is supported by both parties and both presidential candidates.

US ‘killed 47 Afghan civilians’

July 11, 2008

BBC NEWS, July 11, 2008

Medical staff help a boy injured in Sunday's attack

Medical staff help a boy injured in Sunday’s attack

A US air strike in eastern Afghanistan on Sunday killed 47 civilians, 39 of them women and children, an Afghan government investigating team says.

Reports at the time said that 20 people were killed in the airstrike in Nangarhar province. The US military said they were militants.

But local people said the dead were wedding party guests.

Correspondents say the issue of civilian casualties is hugely sensitive in Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai has said that no civilian casualty is acceptable.

Demand for trial

Mr Karzai set up a nine-man commission to look into Sunday’s incident.

The commission is headed by Senate deputy speaker, Burhanullah Shinwari whose constituency is in Nangarhar province. He told the BBC: ”Our investigation found out that 47 civilians (were killed) by the American bombing and nine others injured.

Map showing Nangarhar province

“There are 39 women and children” among those killed, he said. The eight other people who died were “between the ages of 14 and 18”.

A spokeswoman for the US coalition, Lt Rumi Nielson-Green told the AFP news agency that the force was also investigating the incident and regretted any loss of civilian life. “We never target non-combatants. We do go to great length to avoid civilian casualties,” she said.

At the time the US said that those killed were militants involved in previous mortar attacks on a Nato base.

The incident happened in the remote district of Deh Bala, close to the Afghan border.

Mirwais Yasini, deputy speaker for the lower house of parliament, also has his constituency in Nangarhar. ”We are very sad about the killings in Deh Bala. People should be compensated,” he told the BBC.

“These operations widen the gap between the people and the government.”

He said that those who passed on intelligence to the US military ahead of the air strike should be tried, “as well as those who carried out the bombing”.

Mr Yasini demanded that “all operations should be conducted in full co-operation with our security forces in the future”.

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250 Afghan civilians killed, injured in last 6 days

July 10, 2008

Alarm over Afghan civilian deaths

British troops in Afghanistan

Troops and militants are blamed for civilian deaths

At least 250 Afghan civilians have been killed or wounded in insurgent attacks or military action in the past six days, the Red Cross says.

It has called on all parties to the conflict to avoid civilian casualties.

Nato said separately that more than 900 people including civilians had died in Afghanistan since the start of 2008.

On Monday a suicide bombing in Kabul killed more than 40 people, while officials say two coalition air strikes killed dozens at the weekend.

The issue of civilian casualties is hugely sensitive in Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly urged foreign forces to exercise more care.

‘Constant care’

The statement released by the International Committee of the Red Cross say that civilians “must never be the target of an attack, unless they take a direct part in the fighting”.

The coffin of an Indian official killed in Monday's Kabul suicide attack

More and more civilians are being killed in Afghanistan

The organisation’s chief representative in Kabul, Franz Rauchenstein, made his findings public following Monday’s suicide car bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul and reports that a US-led coalition air strike had killed members of a wedding party in the east of the country.

“We call on all parties to the conflict, in the conduct of their military operations, to distinguish at all times between civilians and fighters and to take constant care to spare civilians,” Mr Rauchenstein said.

His report said that parties to the conflict “must take all necessary precautions to verify that targets are indeed military objectives and that attacks will not cause excessive civilian casualties and damage”.

The statement also expressed concern “about the reportedly high number of civilian casualties resulting from the recent [coalition] air strikes in the east of the country”.

The Taleban has denied involvement in Monday’s bombing, which killed 41 people, while the US-led coalition has disputed claims that its recent airstrikes killed civilians.

Mr Karzai has ordered an investigation into one of the bombings, in eastern Nangarhar province. Locals there said at least 20 people had been killed on Sunday at a wedding party.

US forces rejected the claims, saying those killed were militants involved in previous mortar attacks on a Nato base.

The UN said recently that the number of civilians killed in fighting in Afghanistan had jumped by nearly two thirds compared to last year.


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