Afghanistan: False promise of withdrawal, is now long term US troop plan

AFP Photo / Shah Marai
[Obama’s election promises notwithstanding, the Afghan troops trained by US and NATO forces cannot be trusted by imperialism to be loyal and effective gendarmes of the post-occupation neo-colonial system.  So, it is now announced, the US will carry on its training and counterinsurgency operations, indefinitely.  — Frontlines ed.]
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10k US troops to stay in Afghanistan past 2014 deadline

26 November, 2012

Ten thousand US troops will stay in Afghanistan past 2014, senior officials say, despite earlier demands from President Barack Obama to end the war during the second year of his upcoming term.

Most of the 66,000 or so troops currently positioned in Afghanistan will be removed by Pres. Obama’s predetermined deadline, the sources say, but a substantial amount of Americans will be asked to remain indefinitely to conduct training and counterterrorism operations after allied North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops are expunged in late 2014.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Gen. John Allen, the top US commander overseeing the war in Afghanistan, proposed that anywhere from 6,000 to 15,000 troops remain overseas following the end of the current NATO operation occurring there. A number closer to 10,000 was established after top Obama administration officials reached a compromise with the Pentagon, the paper reports. Continue reading

Between the US bombs and Taliban fighters: The Children Under Attack in Pakistan and Afghanistan

October 18, 2012

Infanticide as Policy?

by DAVE LINDORFF, Counterpunch

Six children were attacked in Afghanistan and Pakistan this past week. Three of them, teenaged girls on a school bus in Peshawar, in the tribal region of western Pakistan, were shot and gravely wounded by two Taliban gunmen who were after Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl who has been bravely demanding the right of girls to an education. After taking a bullet to the head, and facing further death threats, she has been moved to a specialty hospital in Britain. Her two wounded classmates are being treated in Pakistan.

The other three children were not so lucky. They were killed Sunday in an aerial attack by a US aircraft in the the Nawa district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, not so far from Pakistan. The attack, described by the military as a “precision strike,” was reportedly aimed at several Taliban fighters who were allegedly planting an IED in the road, but the strike also killed three children, Borjan, 12; Sardar Wali, 10; and Khan Bibi, 8, all from one family, who were right nearby collecting dung for fuel.

Initially, as is its standard MO, the US denied that any children had been killed and insisted that the aircraft had targeted three “Taliban” fighters, and had successfully killed them. Only later, as evidence grew indesputable that the three children had also been killed, the US switched to its standard fallback position for atrocities in the Afghanistan War and its other wars: it announced that it was “investigating” the incident and said that it “regretted” any civilian deaths.

There are several questions that arise immediately from this second story. First of  all, if the three kids were close enough to be killed by this “precision” attack, they were surely also close enough to have been visible to whatever surveillance craft was monitoring the activities of the Taliban fighters, and if they were seen, there should have been no air strike called in. Second, the US, allegedly trying to reduce civilian casualties, is supposedly now operating its air attacks under rules of engagement that only allow strikes where there is “imminent danger” to US or allied forces. How is planting an IED an “imminent” danger? If the location is known, troops in the area can be alerted, and the IED removed or detonated. An identified IED is not an imminent threat. Continue reading

What the drones protest march in Waziristan aims to achieve

Sports star turned politician Imran Khan and civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith will highlight US drones’ innocent victims

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 4 October 2012

A family from South Waziristan flee the battle zone

[A 2009 Brookings Institution report found that US drone attacks kill 10 civilians for every one militant in heavily targeted regions like Waziristan. Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images]

The British civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith and international cricketer turned politician Imran Khan will begin a peace march on 7 October into Pakistan‘s Waziristan region. Their aim is to highlight the plight of innocent people killed or injured by US drones.

Smith took the precautionary measure of writing to President Obama and his CIA director, David Petraeus, informing them about the march. In the letter, he requested that the president ensure the names of him and the other marchers would not be on the weekly kill list the president reviews, along with security officials, in the White House situation room. Smith wrote:

“Please remember that you and I are both lawyers from the same tradition, and it would be unseemly (as well as being both illegal and upsetting for my family) if you were to authorize my assassination.”

Like the sealed corridors in which the top secret kill list nomination process occurs – an account of which was reportedly leaked by the Obama administration to the New York Times – Waziristan has, until now, remained in the shadows, a place about which very little is known or reported. It is hoped the march will help open the area to public scrutiny by taking media there to gather independent information. Continue reading

Afghan Army: “Please Tolerate the US Soldier’s ‘Cultural Insensitivities’ — ‘No Offense’ intended”

October 04, 2012
Turning the Tables in Afghanistan — The Humiliation of Can-Do American Boys
by WILLIAM BLUM

In Afghanistan, the US military has tried training sessions, embedded cultural advisers, recommended reading lists, and even a video game designed to school American troops in local custom. But 11 years into the war, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous lack of cultural awareness, officials say, contributing to a string of attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their military partners. Fifty-one coalition troops have been killed this year by their Afghan counterparts. While some insider attacks have been attributed to Taliban infiltrators, military officials say the majority stem from personal disputes and misunderstandings.

So the Afghan army is trying something new, most likely with American input: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it’s likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge. The pamphlet they’ve produced includes the following advice:

“Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her nose in front of you.”

“When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement by patting one another on the back or the behind. They may even do this to you if they are proud of the job you’ve done. Once again, they don’t mean to offend you.”

“When someone feels comfortable in your presence, they may even put their feet on their own desk while speaking with you. They are by no means trying to offend you. They simply don’t know or have forgotten the Afghan custom.” (Pointing the soles of one’s shoes at someone is considered a grievous insult in Afghanistan.)

The guide also warns Afghan soldiers that Western troops might wink at them or inquire about their female relatives or expose their private parts while showering — all inappropriate actions by Afghan standards.

Early in 2012, a video showed US soldiers urinating on dead Taliban fighters

Demonstrators show copies of the Koran allegedly set alight by US soldiers serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan, during a protest at the gate of Bagram airbase on Feb. 21, 2012. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Hmmm. I wonder if the manual advises telling Afghan soldiers that urinating on dead Afghan bodies, cutting off fingers, and burning the Koran are all nothing more than good ol’ Yankee customs, meaning no offense of course.

And does it point out that no Afghan should be insulted by being tortured in an American military prison since the same is done at home to American prisoners.

Most importantly, the Afghan people must be made to understand that bombing them, invading them, and occupying them for 11 years are all for their own good. It’s called “freedom and democracy”.

I almost feel sorry for the American military in Afghanistan. They’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, habituated to thinking of themselves as the best, expecting the world to share that sentiment, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? … They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home; employing media experts, psychologists, even anthropologists … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality, health or environment. They’re can-do Americans, used to playing by the rules — theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell. Continue reading

Afghans hold anti-U.S. rally on eve of war anniversary

Reuters, October 6, 2011

“No to occupation” said another placard, as a U.S. flag was set on fire

By Ahmad Masood & Akram Walizada

Afghans attend a protest in Kabul October 6, 2011. Hundreds of Afghans from the Hmbastagi party (Solidarity Party of Afghanistan) staged a protest to condemn the U.S.-led invasion, which will mark its 10th anniversary on October 7. (Photo: Reuters)An Afghan woman carries a poster of an injured boy reads: ” What if Karzai’s son had the same destiny” during an anti U.S. rally organized by ” Afghanistan Hambastegi” party in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday Oct. 6, 2011. (Photo: AP)

Afghans attend a protest in Kabul October 6, 2011. Hundreds of Afghans from the Hmbastagi party (Solidarity Party of Afghanistan) staged a protest to condemn the U.S.-led invasion, which will mark its 10th anniversary on October 7. (Photo: Reuters)

Hundreds of Afghans marched through Kabul on Thursday, the eve of the 10-year anniversary of the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, to condemn the United States as occupiers and demand the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops.

About 300 men and women gathered early in the morning with placards and banners accusing the United States of “massacring” civilians while denouncing President Hamid Karzai as a puppet subservient to Washington.

“Occupation – atrocities – brutality,” read one sign, held aloft by two women with scarves covering their head and face.

“No to occupation” said another placard, as a U.S. flag was set on fire. Another banner featured a caricature of Karzai as a glove puppet holding a pen and signing a document entitled “promises to the USA.”

The rally, near a shrine and river in downtown Kabul, lasted around three hours, and ended peacefully.

An Afghan woman carries a poster of an injured boy reads: " What if Karzai's son had the same destiny" during an anti U.S. rally organized by " Afghanistan Hambastegi" party in Kabul, Afghanistan, Thursday Oct. 6, 2011. (Photo: AP)

Karzai became Afghanistan’s leader in June 2002, seven months after Northern Alliance forces supported by the United States entered Kabul and drove the Taliban regime from power.

Karzai won subsequent elections in 2005 and 2009.

“Ten years since the invasion, all we have seen is suffering, instability and poverty in our country,” said protest organizer Hafizullah Rasikh.

One picture that featured prominently was that of U.S. soldier Andrew Holmes posing with the corpse of an unarmed teenage Afghan villager who he had gunned down. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for the 2010 murder.

This year has seen record levels of civilian casualties and although about 80 percent were caused by insurgents, killings by foreign forces, tend to spark more vocal public anger.

The United States bears the brunt of criticism of the Western presence in Afghanistan.

“The bloodshed I see in this country is the result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. After the invaders leave, our country will be peaceful,” shouted one man on a loudspeaker.

(Reporting by Akram Walizada and Mohammad Aziz; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Emma Graham-Harrison and Sugita Katyal)

Petition to Obama: WE WANT YOU OUT! Time to listen to the people of Afghanistan!

Commander-in-Chief Obama delivering a speech aimed at "keeping hope alive" among demoralized American foot-soldiers

Global Day of Listening – “We want you out” petition

To all the leaders of our world, the leaders of the US-led coalition, the Afghan government, the ‘Taliban/Al-Qaeda’ and  regional countries:

We are intolerably angry.

All our senses are hurting.

Our women, our men and yes shame on you, our children are grieving.

Your Afghan civilian-military strategy is a murderous stench we smell, see, hear and breathe.

President Obama, and all the elite players and people of the world, why?

America’s 250-million-dollar annual communications budget just to scream propaganda on this war of perceptions, with its nauseating rhetoric mimicked by Osama and other warlords, is powerless before the silent wailing of every anaemic mother.

We will no longer be passive prey to your disrespectful systems of oligarchic, plutocratic war against the people.

Your systems feed the rich and powerful. They are glaringly un-equal, they do not listen, do not think and worst, they do not care.

We choose not to gluttonize with you. We choose not to be trained by you. We choose not to be pawned by you.

We henceforth refuse every weapon you kill us with, every dollar you bait us with and every lie you manipulate us with.

We are not beasts.

We are Afghans, Americans, Europeans, Asians and global citizens. Continue reading

Afghanistan: Measuring what the US/NATO occupation and Karzai regime have done to women

This young woman was violently attacked for appearing in public without a male--a violation of the strict Sharia law enforced by the US-supported Karzai regime.

29 November 2010, A World to Win News Service

Recent  reports by both human rights groups and Afghan officials indicate that violence against women in Afghanistan is on the rise and that this has been the trend since the beginning of the occupation of Afghanistan by the U.S. and other Nato countries.

A report published in April 2009 by the women’s rights organisation Womankind said that 80 percent of Afghan women suffer from domestic violence. Other reports put this figure as high as 87 percent. Afghan minister of women’s affairs Hassan-Banu Ghazanfar recently said that it effects 90 percent.

November 25 marked the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. This violence is global and not particular to Afghan women. In the world as a whole the vast majority of women face violence in one or another serious form during their their lifetime. The facts about violence against women even in the most developed countries are shocking. Rape, physical and sexual abuse by the husband or boyfriend, harassment and worse at work places, the trade in women and sex slavery are only some of forms of anti-woman violence. These facts suggest that this is not just a remnant of the past but that world capitalism even in its most developed stage is a source of oppression, discrimination and violence against women.

So there is not single country in the imperialist-dominated  world where women have escaped from oppression and violence. This article focuses on Afghanistan not only because these women have suffered severe oppression by the various fundamentalist rulers over the last three decades, and not only because the level of violence and other sorts of oppression is so extreme, but also because the imperialist powers have occupied the country under the pretext of liberating Afghan women. Continue reading