Afghan women demand liberation, reject being used as pretext for war

[This article describes the oppressive conditions faced by Afghan women under the Karzai regime, whose main source of support is fundamentalist warlords who are just as reactionary and anti-woman as the Taliban. This article expresses the common view that Afghan women have made significant strides forward since the US invasion in 1991 in the areas of education, health care and political life. In reality, these advances have been concentrated among more privileged sections of women, and they do not extend beyond Kabul’s city limits. The article also raises the question of what kind of political arrangement could replace US-backed politicians like Karzai and exclude the Taliban after the US/NATO occupation forces withdraw.—Frontlines ed]

Kabul--Afghan women demand the government take action against the murderers of five women.

Afghan Women Demand Liberation, Not Lip Service

 

By Kanya D’Almeida

UNITED NATIONS (IPS) – Afghanistan will not know peace until women are equal participants in negotiations, stresses a report released  by the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

“We don’t want the world to see us as victims,” said Afifa Azim, general director of the Afghan Women’s Network, which is working in collaboration with the Kroc Institute. “Afghani women must be at the table if the peace process is to move forward. No women, no peace.”

Co-authored by David Cortright and Sarah Persinger, the report entitled “Afghan Women Speak: Enhancing Security and Human Rights in Afghanistan” was presented as part of the week-long Peace Conference commemorating the 10th anniversary of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. The report includes some 50 interviews with women leaders, parliamentarians, activists, school principals, NGO and health workers, army officials and police officers in the field in Kabul, Afghanistan, from April to May of 2010.

Since United States-led forces overthrew the Taliban in 2001, critics say Washington has dangled the question of women’s emancipation over the head of the international community, using it to justify prolonged military occupation. Pundits and policy-makers in the West have largely swallowed this argument, taking up the fight for Afghan women with great gusto while continuing to support U.S. and NATO troops in the Middle East. Continue reading

Report from Afghanistan: Behind Enemy Lines

The Independent (UK), November 14, 2010

The prospect of a negotiated peace is dismissed almost outright. . . . “There are no al-Qa’ida fighters in Afghanistan any more.”

James Fergusson

The sound of a propeller engine is audible the moment my fixer and I climb out of the car, causing us new arrivals from Kabul to glance sharply upwards. I have never heard a military drone in action before, and it is entirely invisible in the cold night sky, yet there is no doubt what it is. My first visit to the Taliban since 2007 has only just begun and I am already regretting it. What if the drone is the Hellfire-missile-carrying kind?

Three years ago, the Taliban’s control over this district, Chak, and the 112,000 Pashtun farmers who live here, was restricted to the hours of darkness although the local commander, Abdullah, vowed to me that he would soon be in full control. As I am quickly to discover, this was no idle boast. In Chak, the Karzai government has in effect given up and handed over to the Taliban. Abdullah, still in charge, even collects taxes. His men issue receipts using stolen government stationery that is headed “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan”; with commendable parsimony they simply cross out the word “Republic” and insert “Emirate”, the emir in question being the Taliban’s spiritual leader, Mullah Omar.

The most astonishing thing about this rebel district and for Nato leaders meeting in Lisbon this week, a deeply troubling one is that Chak is not in war-torn Helmand or Kandahar but in Wardak province, a scant 40 miles south-west of Kabul. Nato commanders have repeatedly claimed that the Taliban are on the back foot following this year’s US troop surge. Mid-level insurgency commanders, they say, have been removed from the battlefield in “industrial” quantities since the 2010 campaign began.

And yet Abdullah, operating within Katyusha rocket range of the capital and with a $500,000 bounty on his head has managed to evade coalition forces for almost four years. If Chak is in any way typical of developments in other rural districts and Afghanistan has hundreds of isolated valley communities just like this one then Nato’s military strategy could be in serious difficulty. Continue reading

Afghans say US/NATO forces ‘as bad as the Taliban’

If the US-led Nato counterinsurgency strategy depends on winning civilian ‘hearts and minds’, they’re losing badly

Guardian UK,  12 October 2010

Many Afghan civilian deaths have involved British troops opening fire on unarmed drivers or motorcyclists near convoys. Photograph: Ministry of Defence/AP

Last week marked the ninth anniversary of the United States’s invasion of Afghanistan, and the beginning of the 10th year of the current international engagement there. In the coming months, the US, Nato and its international allies will take a hard look at the current military counterinsurgency strategy, and the prospects for peaceful reconciliation. Both strategies are likely to be challenged by the absence of key ingredient to their success – Afghan trust in international efforts.

My organisation, the Open Society Foundations, recently asked 250 Afghans across Afghanistan who or what they thought was contributing to the escalation of conflict in Afghanistan, and, in particular, whom they blamed for the high civilian casualties and other civilian losses that have been such a flashpoint among the Afghan population.

Despite statistics suggesting insurgents are disproportionately responsible for civilian harm, our analysis found that Afghans blamed international forces as much, if not more, than insurgents. Few spoke warmly about the Taliban. But the vast majority described international forces as equally brutal toward civilians, and equally, if not more responsible for civilian casualties, detention abuses and other concerns.

They said international forces were often indiscriminate, and that many civilian deaths could have been prevented through better targeting, intelligence or coordination. “When an accident happens, or there is an attack against Nato troops, then Nato troops react and start firing on people. They never think about those around them as human. They think every person on the street is their enemy,” said a man from western Herat province. Continue reading

Germany considers scrapping the draft for a professional army (US model)

[Imperialist armies are being re-designed and re-organized for new strategic purposes and alliances.  Deployments of NATO forces in the US-led coalition in Afghanistan have tested the German Army’s limits and bolstered arguments to scrap the draft and build a smaller, more professional volunteer force.  The fact that a non-conscript army is less subject to popular anti-war politics is certainly one of the important reasons for this move.-ed]


By Isabelle De Pommereau, Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
posted September 8, 2010 at 5:30 pm EDT

Frankfurt, Germany —

Temp Headline Image

German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg (third from right) sits in a helicopter on an unannounced trip to Kunduz, Afghanistan, to visit with German troops there. (Michael Kappeler/Reuters)

The young man playing with kids at the Main Krokodile preschool here isn’t your typical caregiver. He’s among the tens of thousands of Germans who fulfill their military service by working with children, the elderly, or the disabled. The head of the school, Berndt Niedergesäss, is all for it: “The children love dealing with men,” he says.

When Germany rebuilt its armed forces after World War II, it let conscientious objectors perform civic duties. Now, those civilians outnumber regular recruits, 91,000 to 68,000, and are an essential part of the social service landscape.

But Defense Minister Karl-Theo­dor zu Guttenberg has now called for ending conscription. The plan, if approved, would pose a challenge for groups like Mr. Niedergesäss’s school. It would also, however, be a milestone in the Bundeswehr’s transformation from an army designed to protect peace to one sending its sons and daughters into global conflicts.

Ending the draft is part of what many observers say is a bold modernization plan for the armed forces. Aimed at making the Army “smaller and finer,” and better equipped for a broader spectrum of missions, the plan also envisions cutting ranks by one-third, to 163,000 soldiers, and closing many of the country’s 403 bases. Continue reading

Pentagon’s New Global Military Partner: Sweden

2 August 2010

Swedish Soldier in AfghanistanThe longest war in U.S. history and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s first armed conflict outside Europe, as well as its first ground war, is nearing the beginning of its tenth year.

Over 120,000 troops are serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in addition to 30,000 under American command, and the Western military bloc recently confirmed that Malaysia has become the 47th official Troop Contributing Nation (TCN) for the war effort.

Never before have forces from so many nations served under a common command in one country, one war theater or one war.

All 28 full NATO member states have supplied soldiers for the campaign, as have over 20 Alliance partners in Europe, the South Caucasus, the South Pacific, Asia, Africa and South America. With the inclusion of contingents deployed and pledged by nations such as Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Colombia and Tonga as well as the 47 official troop contributors, there are military personnel from every populated continent assigned to the West’s war in Afghanistan. Continue reading