Posts Tagged ‘US-led war in Afghanistan’

Reuters: Civilian casualties rising in Afghanistan

May 13, 2010
Reuters,  May 12, 2010

* Ninety civilians killed in January to April period

* Deaths up from 2009 despite efforts to avoid killings

WASHINGTON, May 12 (Reuters) – The number of civilians killed by U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan has risen this year, despite efforts to limit fallout from the widening war against the Taliban, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.

Citing NATO statistics, the Pentagon said U.S. and NATO forces killed 90 civilians from January to April — a 76 percent rise from the 51 deaths in the same period of 2009.

The increase demonstrates the difficulty of shielding Afghans from violence as the United States pours thousands more troops into Afghanistan to challenge the Taliban, often in strongholds where insurgents hide among the population.

The U.S. military has made reducing civilian casualties an explicit goal of its revised Afghan strategy, given that popular support for NATO and Afghan forces is ultimately needed to isolate the Taliban and win the war.

President Barack Obama restated the goal on Wednesday, saying the United States was doing everything possible to avoid killing “somebody who’s not on the battlefield.” [ID:nN12185754]

“Our troops put themselves at risk, oftentimes, in order to reduce civilian casualties,” Obama told a joint news conference in Washington with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

“Oftentimes they’re holding fire, they’re hesitating, they’re being cautious about how they operate, even though it would be safer for them to go ahead and just take these locations out.”

Many of the deaths appeared to be related to several high-profile incidents, top among them an air strike in February that a NATO official said killed 23 civilians.

The NATO official, commenting on the numbers, stressed the increase in killings must be seen in the context of a larger U.S. fighting force that is directly engaging the Taliban in former strongholds.

The United Nations says foreign and Afghan troops killed 25 percent fewer civilians in 2009 than during the previous year. But civilian deaths rose overall because the number killed by insurgents climbed 40 percent. (Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by John O’Callaghan)

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Afghanistan war: Global opposition grows

September 14, 2009
Trent Hawkins,  Green Left Online, Sep 12, 2009

In the wake of the bombing of two oil tankers by the occupying NATO forces, and farcical elections controlled by warlords, international public opinion is turning against the US-led war in Afghanistan.

The September 4 oil tanker bombings in Kunduz province, in which the September 5 Pajhwok Afghan News said as many as 150 civilians were killed, is just the latest in a constant stream of atrocities against civilians committed by the occupying forces.

This, combined with the increasingly blatant fact that the forces kept in power by the occupation troops are just as brutal and misogynist as the Taliban, which the US and NATO ousted, means the true nature of the Afghan war as an imperial power play is increasingly obvious.

A CNN Opinion Research poll conducted between August 28 and 31 found that 57% of US people were opposed to the war, and 40% believe it can’t be won.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 51% of US people thought the war was not worth fighting for., the Post said on August 20.

The poll of 1000 people, found that only 24% supported sending more troops to Afghanistan.

A September 4 Melbourne Age article said recent Gallup polls showed 42% of US people now think it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan in the first place.

Similar figures have been registered in Australia and other countries with soldiers in Afghanistan.

An March Age/Nielson poll found that 51% of Australians oppose our involvement in the war and two thirds opposed an increase in troops.

An Independent Newspaper poll in August found that 52% of people in Britain want troops out and 58% think “the offensive is a lost cause”.

An Ifop/Le Figaro poll conducted between August 10-18 found that 64% in France oppose their country’s military intervention in Afghanistan, an August 24 Angus-reid.org article said.

One country likely to feel immediate ramifications from its involvement in Afghanistan is Germany, which has parliamentary elections in September.

In July, a poll by the German public broadcaster ARD found that 69% wanted troops to leave as soon as possible.

Chancellor Angela Merkell has been forced to admit the air strike on the two oil tankers, called in by a German commander, had killed civilians.

Initially, defence minister Franz Josef Jung refused to admit any civilians were killed, but Merkell later called for a “quick, complete and open” inquiry by NATO, the September 8 Age said.

The left-wing party, Die Linke, has seen its support increase by four points to 14% in the latest poll from Forsa for Stern magazine, Reuters said on September 9.

Die Linke is the only party to call for the withdrawal of Germany’s contingent of 4200 troops from Afghanistan.

Die Linke also called for Jung’s resignation after his comments and have called rallies in Berlin in response to the recent bombings.

The failure of troop increases this year to have any impact is also generating significant opposition in Britain.

In July, Britain launched Operation Panther’s Claw in order to provide “security” to allow the 80,000 people in the Babaji area the “freedom” to vote in the elections. In a sign of broader military failures in the country, only 150 people turned up to vote, equalling the number of British troops killed or wounded in that period, the September 8 Age said.

In response, Eric Joyce, the parliamentary aid to the British defence secretary, resigned on September 3.

In his resignation letter, Joyce said: “I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets.”

Similar fractures are appearing in the US, with many questioning why Obama, who was elected on a seemingly anti-war platform, is extending Bush’s war.

Democrat congressperson Jim McGovern moved a motion in July demanding an exit strategy from the war, which was supported by a majority of Democrats, despite opposition from the White House.

McGovern has indicated that he will introduce legislation to congress to block any further troop increases, the September 6 Age said.

An August 31 Yahoo News article reported that former CIA official and advisor to Bill Clinton, Bruce Riedel, said: “If the Government of Afghanistan goes into free fall — something like the South Vietnamese Government of the 1960s — then all the troops in the world aren’t going to matter.”

With increasing public opposition to the war, British Stop the War Coalition has called a national march to demand troops out of Afghanistan on October 24.

In the US, a national day of action, themed “Change ≠ War!” to protest Obama’s war policies has been called by United for Peace and Justice for October 7 and mark the eight anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan.

A number of US anti-war organisations are also supporting national anti-war actions on October 17, calling for “Troops Home Now”.

This date also marks the date when Congress passed the “Iraq War Resolution” allowing Bush to invade Iraq.

In Australia activists are organising actions to commemorate the anniversary and call for troops out.

The Sydney Stop the War Coalition is organising a demonstration for October 8. The rally already has support from the NSW Greens, the Fire Brigade Employees, the Maritime Union of Australia (NSW Branch) and the Socialist Alliance. The rally will start at 5.30pm and march to the defence department.

In Melbourne, anti-war activists are planning a rally for October 10. The rally will start at noon at City Square and march to Victoria Army Barracks.

Pakistan’s new president Zardari is a clone of Musharraf

September 15, 2008

Eric Margolis | Edmonton Sun, Sep 14, 2008

The inauguration this week of Pakistan’s new president, Asif Ali Zardari, widower of the slain Benazir Bhutto, should have brought some hope and direction to embattled Pakistan.

It did not. A sense of weary deja vu hung over the event.

Zardari’s first major policy statement was a vow to continue waging the so-called “war on terror” in northwest Pakistan. His choice of the Bush administration’s terminology was a clear message to Washington that he intends to pursue the hated policies of disgraced former U.S.-backed dictator, Pervez Musharraf. Pakistan will continue to dance to Washington’s tune.

In fact, Zardari seems set to inherit the ills of Musharraf’s failed regime. Pakistan is bankrupt, with only 60 days of foreign exchange left to import fuel and food. Half its 165 million people subsist on under $2 daily.

Infusions of $11.2 billion in U.S. aid since 2001, and tens of millions in covert payments, rented the grudging services of Pakistan’s armed and security forces, and halfhearted co-operation of its government.

But 90% of Pakistanis oppose the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, which they, like most Europeans, see as a modern colonial war to secure U.S. domination of Central Asia’s energy. They despised Musharraf for sending 120,000 Pakistani troops to fight pro-Taliban Pashtun tribesmen in northwest Pakistan, killing thousands of civilians in the process, and for enabling the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan.

Now, Zardari, who was helped into power with Washington’s financial and political support, appears set on the same course. Considering only 26% of voters support him, Zardari is heading for major trouble.

Zardari’s refusal to reinstate justices of Pakistan’s supreme court purged by Musharraf is a slap in the face of democracy and further evidence of his fear of indictment over serious corruption accusations that dog him. Widely known as “Mr 10%” from when he was minister of public contracts, Zardari denies any wrongdoing, insisting these charges were politically motivated.

Plans by the U.S. to launch ground attacks inside Pakistan’s Pashtun tribal zone (known as FATA) have ignited a new crisis. Zardari apparently has approved more U.S. raids against his own people. But Pakistan’s powerful chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani, says the nation’s 650,000-man armed forces will not tolerate U.S. violation of its borders. The stage is set for possible head-on clashes between Pakistani and U.S. troops.

Whether Canada will be drawn into fighting in Pakistan’s tribal areas is uncertain. The Harper government’s former defence minister rashly called for Canadian troops to invade Pakistan.

ATTACKING TRUCKS

Truck convoys, upon which the U.S. and NATO depend for fuel, water, and munitions, face increasing attacks by Pakistani pro-Taliban groups as they make their way up to the fabled Khyber Pass.

A vicious cycle is now at play. The U.S. pays Pakistan’s armed forces to attack pro-Taliban tribesmen along the border, and aid the U.S. war in Afghanistan. U.S. and Pakistani warplanes bomb Pashtun villages in FATA.

Furious Pashtuns retaliate by staging bombing attacks against government targets (aka “terrorism”). The government and U.S. launch more attacks as Pakistanis demand their government stop killing its own people.

Musharraf was detested as an American stooge. If Zardari continues Mush’s failed policies, he also will meet the same fate.

The U.S. is about to kick yet another hornets’ nest by ground attacks on Pakistan. Unable to crush growing national resistance to the U.S.-led occupation of Afghanistan and secure planned pipeline routes, the frustrated Bush White House is launching a new conflict when it lacks the soldiers or money to subdue Afghanistan.

Spreading the Afghan War into Pakistan is perilous and foolhardy. It threatens to destabilize and tear apart fragile Pakistan, just as the U.S. has dismembered Iraq. A fragmented Pakistan could tempt India to intervene. Both are nuclear armed.

Asif Zardari is sitting atop a ticking bomb. He needs some new thinking. So do his western patrons, who urgently must end the futile Afghan War before it blows Pakistan apart.

NATO states agree to send more forces to Afghanistan

July 27, 2008

The Peninsula, July 27, 2008

Source ::: Reuters

KABUL • NATO countries have agreed to send more troops to the volatile south of Afghanistan, Canada’s foreign minister said yesterday, and another 200 Canadian troops could also be deployed.

Canada has some 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, most of them stationed in the southern province of Kandahar where they have suffered one of the worst casualty rates fighting a resilient Taliban insurgency.

“We’ve been talking with our NATO allies and in fact we do now have commitments to increase the number of troops particularly in the Kandahar region,” Canadian Foreign Minister David Emerson told a news conference in Kabul.

“We’re really more comforted that the troop support is being increased in an appropriate way,” he said.

Canadian soldiers first came to Afghanistan in late 2001 as part of a US-led Afghan mission to overthrow the hardline Taliban. In 2006, Canadian troops took over operations in Kandahar, the Taliban’s former de-facto capital. Faced with some of the fiercest fighting in Afghanistan, Canada has criticised other countries for refusing to send troops to the south, where the insurgency is strongest.

Asked if Canada was going to increase its own contingent in Afghanistan, Emerson said it could send some 200 soldiers.

“Canada does have 2,500 troops here in Afghanistan and that number could expand to 2,700 as more equipment arrives,” he said.

“We are really talking about a significant increase in the contribution from other countries and that contribution has been forthcoming,” he said.

Emerson, on his first trip to Afghanistan since taking office in May, said he had visited “his team” in Kandahar and Kabul to ensure they were well organised.

Asked if more troops were the only solution in Afghanistan, Emerson said there needed to be a more “complete reconciliation”.

“But it is going to take some military capacity and military activity to get Afghanistan to the point where a more comprehensive, a more permanent solution can take effect,” he said.


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