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UK doubles armed drone fleet in Afghanistan

The MoD have announced today (3 July 2014) that the additional five armed Reaper drones purchased as an urgent operational requirement (UOR) in December 2010) have begun operations in Afghanistan.  Questions have been asked about why equipment bought urgently has... Read More ›

Audio on Afghanistan and Iraq on the Coy Barefoot Show

GUEST: David Swanson, author, activist, and blogger. His books includes Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union and War is a Lie and When the World Outlawed War. Follow him on Twitter.

TOPIC: David reacts to the news that Bowe Bergdahl has been released— and that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue.

ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Friday, June 6, 2014.

Listen.

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Under Cover of Secrecy, Detainees Moved From Afghanistan’s ‘Forgotten Guantanamo’

Estimated 38 detainees left to languish in Bagram prison notorious for torture and abuse The United States has moved a dozen people held at Afghanistan's...

5 Americans allegedly killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

A US Defense Department official has anonymously confirmed to AP that five ISAF servicemen killed by friendly fire in southern Afghanistan were actually American...

3 Ways the Destructive War On Afghanistan Will Continue Post-2014

The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan will continue for at least two more years. And the occupation’s core facets–Special Operations raids and reliance on brutal...

Afghanistan: Permanent US Occupation Planned

Afghanistan: Permanent US Occupation Plannedby Stephen LendmanAmerica came to stay. Obama saying "(w)e will bring America's longest war to a responsible end" is false. It's his latest Big Lie.His Monday statement included many others. "The United State...

Obama in Afghanistan

Obama in Afghanistan

by Stephen Lendman

He left Washington Saturday. He arrived in Afghanistan Sunday. It was his fourth visit. He stayed less than four hours.

Earlier trips were in March 2010, December 2010 and May 2012.

Obama addressed US troops. He did so at Bagram Air Base. It houses one of America's notorious torture prisons. 

Dozens of others operate globally. Guantanamo is the tip of the iceberg.

Bagram is called the Parwan Detention Facility (aka Bagram Theater Internment Facility). 

It's next to Bagram's air field. It was formerly called the Bagram Collection Point.

In mid-2011, it held 1,100 political prisoners. Maximum during Bush years was 600. None have POW status. All are political prisoners. They illegally held.

Abuse continues. It's notorious. It's not reported. It's out of sight and mind. Former detainees describe horrendous treatment. Not far from where Obama spoke. It includes:

  • painful extended period shackling;

  • exposure to extreme heat and cold;

  • abusive treatment while naked, hooded or blindfolded;

  • waterboarding numerous times;

  • isolation in tiny cells;

  • other times in overcrowded ones forcing detainees to sleep in shifts;

  • permanent trauma-creating torture and ill-treatment;

  • severe beatings;

  • continuous blaring noises or music;

  • 24-hour bright light or total darkness;

  • extended sleep deprivation periods;

  • painful stress positions for long periods;

  • being sodomized;

  • denied food, too little, or inedible kinds;

  • painful force-feeding for hunger strikers;

  • prisoners experiencing it call it torture;

  • denied medical care;

  • forced confessions for crimes not committed;

  • hung from steel bars in cells or metal hooks in interrogation rooms for extended periods;

  • kept in tubs of ice water creating hypothermia;

  • threatened with or attacked by dogs;

  • electro-shocking; and

  • other physical and psychological cruel, abusive and degrading treatment.

Investigative Journal Andy Worthington does extensive research on US torture prisons. He co-directed a documentary titled "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo."

One of his many articles is titled "Dark Revelations in the Bagram Prisoner List." He discussed foreign prisoners held.

He explained secret Bagram CIA operations. A subsequent "UN Secret Detention Report Ask(ed) 'Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?' "

Obama could end prisoner abuse by executive order. He could free every prisoner illegally held the same way. 

He could order torture prison closures. He could do it straightaway. He ignored Bagram international law violations during his stay.

He addressed about 3,000 US troops. He lied saying "Americans stand in awe of you."

"For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan. America's war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end."

"That progress is because of you, and the more than half a million Americans - military and civilian - who've served here in Afghanistan."

(Y)ou are completing our mission…(Y)ou've helped prevent attacks and save American lives back home."

"Al Qaeda is on its heels in this part of the world, and that's because of you."

"We said that we were going to reverse the Taliban's momentum. And so you went on the offensive, driving the Taliban out of its strongholds."

"(J)ust look at the progress that you've made possible. Afghans reclaiming their communities, and more girls returning to school, dramatic improvements in public health and life expectancy and literacy. That's your legacy."

Fact: "Prevent(ing) attacks and sav(ing) American lives back home" is rubbish.

Fact: Afghanistan didn't attack or threaten America.

Fact: Washington's Afghan war had nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

Fact: Waging it was lawless.

Fact: No Security Council authorization was gotten.

Fact: No congressional one.

Fact: War was never formally declared.

Fact: No state of war exists.

Fact: It's raged since October 2001.

Fact: It shows no signs of ending.

Fact: It could continue for another decade or longer.

Fact: All post-WW II US wars were lawless.

Fact: America hasn't won a war since WW II.

Fact: Afghanistan is a lost cause.

Fact: Pentagon commanders know it.

Fact: Lt. Col. Daniel Davis' unclassified report and more detailed classified one explained ongoing disastrous conditions.

Fact: America can't win, he said.

Fact: Official statements conceal hard truths.

Fact: Davis visited Afghanistan.

Fact: He witnessed "the absence of success on virtually every level," he said.

Fact: Every area he observed firsthand "all over Afghanistan (showed) the tactical situation was bad to abysmal."

Fact: Taliban forces prevailed for over a decade.

Fact: They do now.

Fact: They're a force to be reckoned with.

Fact: They show no signs of quitting.

Fact: They want US forces and coalition partners out of Afghanistan.

Fact: They want their country back.

Fact: Washington's legacy is criminal.

Fact: 12 and a half years of war left millions dead.

Fact: Violence, displacement, deprivation, starvation and diseases killed them. 

Fact: Millions of Afghans suffer horrifically.

Fact: More than half of Afghan children suffer severe malnutrition.

Fact: An entire generation is affected.

Fact: Hunger is a national disease.

Fact: Unemployment affects millions.

Fact: Millions live in squalor.

Fact: In deplorable conditions.

Fact: With inadequate shelter, water, health care, and education.

Fact: Millions remain internally or externally displaced.

Fact: Thousands of women and girls continue to be beaten, raped and/or murdered. 

Fact: Humanitarian aid is woefully inadequate.

Fact: One in five children die before age five.

Fact: War claims some.

Fact: Most perish from preventable diseases, malnutrition or both.

Fact: Millions of Afghans are on their own.

Fact: It's hard imagining a more long-suffering people anywhere.

Fact: America abandoned them.

Fact: Obama lied claiming otherwise.

Fact: If hell on earth exists, it's in Afghanistan.

Fact: Coverup and denial don't wash.

Obama called horrific Afghanistan conditions "progress."

"Tomorrow (Monday) is Memorial Day," he said. "(W)e'll pay tribute to all those who’ve laid down their lives for our freedom." 

"And that includes nearly 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice…We will honor every single one of them - not just (Monday), but forever."

Memorial Day is commemorated on the last Monday in May. It honors America's war dead. They fought and died in vain.

To benefit America's privileged. To advance its imperium. To make it safe for bankers, war profiteers and other corporate favorites.

Crimes of war, against humanity and genocides are small prices to pay. So is ravaging and destroying one country after another.

Conquering, colonizing, and plundering them. Exploiting their people. 

Claiming humanitarian intervention. Responsibility to protect. Democracy building rubbish.

One Big Lie follows others. Memorial Day warrants special condemnation. It reflects Washington's permanent war policy.

It discards peace as a viable option. It's an American tradition. Notably since WW II. Lincoln's words long ago went unheeded, saying:

"(W)e here resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Imagine inventing enemies. Imagine sending one generation after another of US youths to war for false reasons. 

Imagine destroying them physically and emotionally. Imagine pledging peace while waging war. 

Imagine duplicitous leaders like Obama saying one thing and doing another. He's back home in Washington.

On Wednesday, he'll address West Point cadets. He'll lay out what deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes calls his broad vision "interventionist and internationalist" agenda.

Expect typical Obama demagogic boilerplate. Duplicitous doublespeak. Beginning-to-end rubbish.

A follow-up article will discuss it. US policy won't change. Imperial lawlessness reflects it. 

Expect more of the same. Expect propaganda, political, financial and hot wars to continue. It's the American way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Obama: US Role in Afghanistan Will Extend Beyond 2014

President made statement during surprise visit to Bagram Air Base Sarah Lazare During a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday, President Barack Obama said the U.S. military...

Afghanistan Rant

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Talk Nation Radio: Military Families Demand Zero Troops in Afghanistan

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-military-families-demand-zero-troops-in-afghanistan We speak with Pat Alviso and Paula Rogovin of Military Families Speak Out about their campaign for Zero Troops in Afghanistan. See http://mfso....

Everybody’s Got Afghanistan Wrong

This goes deeper than the usual war lies. We've had plenty of those. We weren't told the Taliban was willing to turn bin Laden over to a neutral nation to stand trial. We weren't told the Taliban was a reluctant tolerator of al Qaeda, and a completely...

Analysis: Where are British Reaper drones heading after Afghanistan?

As the December 2014 Afghan drawdown deadline approaches the UK government has accepted that it can’t bring its fleet of ten armed Reapers back to the UK except packed up in boxes. Due to safely concerns Reaper drones will not... Read More ›

Afghanistan–A Nightmare of Failure

Ron Jacobs  The war and occupation of Afghanistan by US-led forces has gone on for almost thirteen years. The current war was preceded by another...

Heroin Production Hits Record Levels in Afghanistan — Study

America’s war on drugs is failing in Afghanistan, with opium production at record levels, despite spending $7.5 billion to tackle the problem. Over 200...

Rep. Hurt Confuses Iraq and Afghanistan

Congressman Hurt just wrote below:"I have unconditional support for our brave men and women serving America overseas, as well as for their families.  As our military commanders have said, we must remain steadfast in a clear strategy to defeat t...

US War Has Littered Afghanistan with World’s Deadly Garbage

Afghan children and poorest citizens most vulnerable to unexploded bombs and toxic materials of thirteen-year war Jon Queally RINF Alternative News As in the abandoned battle fields...

How NGOs Failed Afghanistan

Patrick Cockburn  RINF Alternative News An Afghan acquaintance who had worked for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) told me several years ago how...

The Escalation of Drone Warfare in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa

Chris Cole  RINF Alternative News Over the past decade the use of armed drones has dramatically increased and spread with drone strikes reported to have taken place...

Pausing at the crossroads — drones in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa

Over the past decade the use of armed drones has dramatically increased and spread with drone strikes reported to have taken place in up to ten countries. Although the US use of drones in Pakistan and  Yemen has been most controversial and... Read More ›

Civilian Drone Deaths Triple in Afghanistan, UN Agency Finds

Alice K Ross  RINF Alternative News Civilian drone deaths in Afghanistan tripled last year, according to a report by a UN agency. Forty-five civilians died in drone...

British drone strikes in Afghanistan using borrowed US drones revealed — strikes not reported...

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has admitted that British RAF pilots have borrowed USAF Reaper drones more than 250 times in Afghanistan, launching weapons on at least 39 occasions. However the numbers of strikes by RAF pilots using US Reapers drones is likely to be... Read More ›

America’s Criminal Afghanistan Legacy

America's Criminal Afghanistan Legacyby Stephen LendmanOver 12 years of war left millions dead. Violence, displacement, deprivation, starvation and diseases killed them. Many others suffer horrifically. Media scoundrels ignore high crimes of war, ...

Pentagon unveils plan to keep 10,000 troops in Afghanistan

Bill Van Auken  RINF Alternative News The US military has proposed keeping 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after the formal withdrawal of American “combat forces” at the...

US Accused of Killing Woman, Seven Children in Afghanistan Airstrike

While US, Karzai's versions of incident conflict, both indicate civilians were again collateral damage Andrea Germanos  RINF Alternative News Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has accused the U.S. of killing...

Afghanistan accuses US of killing woman, 7 children in airstrike

RTJanuary 15, 2014 Afghan President Hamid Karzai has strongly condemned the US airstrike that killed 7...

Obama ignoring troops in Afghanistan

Rep. McKeon says Obama is ignoring troops in AfghanistanA lack of communication has created confusion about US military objectives in Afghanistan.The chairman of the...

What We Did to Afghanistan

A few years ago in Kabul, I was listening to a spokesman for an Afghan government organisation who was giving me a long, upbeat...

Obama’s Politics of War Cannot Continue in Afghanistan

Rep. Jim BridenstineBreitbartJanuary 10, 2014 As a Navy pilot who flew combat missions in Afghanistan (2002)...

Terrorism as an Instrument of Imperial Conquest. From Afghanistan to Syria, America Supports Al...

“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!” — President Woodrow Wilson, Paris Peace Conference, 1919 The horrors reported each day...

US Gen.: No plans to leave Afghanistan

A senior US commander in Afghanistan says Washington has no plans to leave the country while Kabul has not yet signed a security deal...

US has ‘cynical policy’ in Afghanistan

The Unites States has a Å“cynical policy” in Afghanistan, continuing to kill Afghan civilians and causing Å“vast destruction,” a peace activist said in an...

Acute child malnutrition has doubled in Afghanistan since 2012

By Mark Church 7 January 2014 A recent New York Times report on child malnutrition in Afghanistan further exposes the ongoing social catastrophe produced by the US-led...

Why the US Wants to Stay in Afghanistan

The U.S. is supposed to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by the end of this new year. But despite public opinion polls to...

US warns Afghanistan over security deal

The United States has warned Afghanistan to sign a bilateral security agreement within weeks in order not to withdraw American troops from the country. "Our...

US seeks ‘long-term interests’ in Afghanistan

PressTVJanuary 1, 2014 America's pressure on Afghanistan to sign a bilateral security deal, which authorizes an...

US ‘long-term interests’ in Afghanistan

America's pressure on Afghanistan to sign a bilateral security deal, which authorizes an enduring US military presence, indicates that the US invaded the country...

What the End of 2013 Didn’t Bring: An End to the Occupation of Afghanistan

2013 is drawing to a close, but the war in Afghanistan–now in its 13th year–continues, with the prospect of a 23-year occupation being added...

CNN/ORC Survey: 82 Percent Want U.S. Out of Afghanistan

A CNN/ORC International survey released on December 30 indicates that 82 percent of Americans are opposed to U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, with only...

War in Afghanistan Most Unpopular Ever?

A U.S. Marine and his translator pictured in Kirta, in remote southwest Afghanistan, March 23, 2009. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)American support for the war...

War in Afghanistan Most Unpopular War Ever?

A U.S. Marine and his translator pictured in Kirta, in remote southwest Afghanistan, March 23, 2009. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)American support for the war...

Another Vietnam? American support for War in Afghanistan hits historic new low

American support for the war in Afghanistan is shrinking to unprecedented levels, even sliding below the lowest points seen for the Iraq and Vietnam...

Understanding Karzai’s Role in Determining Afghanistan’s Future

The controversy surrounding the bilateral Security Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan is more complex than a stubborn Afghan president. President...

Understanding Karzai’s Role in Determining Afghanistan’s Future

The controversy surrounding the bilateral Security Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan is more complex than a stubborn Afghan president. President...

US Court: Military’s Prisoners in Afghanistan Have No Rights

Afghanistan's Bagram prison. (Photo: File)In a Christmas Eve ruling that passed with little fanfare, three U.S. Appeals Court Judges gave their legal stamp of...

US aims to keep air bases in Afghanistan

The United States insists on maintaining a military presence in the region by keeping its air bases and troops in Afghanistan, says Rick Rozoff...

War Without End? Obama Pursues “Occupation-Lite” in Afghanistan

The president wants to cement a...

Majority of Americans: Invading Afghanistan Was ‘Wrong Thing to Do’

Members of Afghans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and allies lead a thousands-strong march against a NATO summit in Chicago in May...

Majority of Americans: War in Afghanistan Was ‘Wrong Thing to Do’

Afghan peace activists and members of Iraq Veterans Against the War lead a thousands-strong march against a NATO summit in Chicago in May 2012....

When NATO Leaves Afghanistan

Local Afghan elder standing near US traffic checkpoint in Afghanistan. (via The Atlantic)JALALABAD, Afghanistan - Afghanistan's 30 million people are deeply divided over whether...

Does Obama Want to Stay in Afghanistan to Harvest Its Opium?

Is the real reason President Obama would like to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2024 to allow the CIA to cash in on...

Who’s Excited About Another Decade in Afghanistan?

With 196 nations in the world and U.S. troops already in at least 177 of them, there aren't all that many available to make war against. Yet it looks like both Syria and Iran will be spared any major Western assault for the moment.  Could this bec...

US stays in Afghanistan to control region

The Obama administration hopes to keep US forces in Afghanistan in order to maintain its military bases there and control the region�™s oil and...

US ‘nowhere near’ Afghanistan decision

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan says the White House is "nowhere near” deciding to pull out all troops from Afghanistan at...

US has ‘ulterior motives’ in Afghanistan

The US government has �œulterior motives” for the military occupation of Afghanistan and wants to extend its military presence in the country for its...

The Phony Pullout from Afghanistan

Eric Margolis RINF Alternative News Those wondering what lies in store for Afghanistan need only look at the way the British Empire ruled Iraq in the...

US, Afghanistan at impasse over deal

The US and Afghanistan are at an �œimpasse” over a stalled security agreement a political commentator told Press TV on Sunday. Afghan President Hamid Karzai...

Hagel backs US presence in Afghanistan

US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says that he supports a NATO force in Afghanistan beyond 2014. Hagel made the comment in a meeting with...

Tighter rules of engagement contributed to US casualty rate in Afghanistan — report

US military directives enacted in Afghanistan after President Obama took office in 2009 could be to blame for an increase in casualties according to...

US propaganda fails in Afghanistan

A British expert says US commanders are routinely conned by propaganda contractors. US propaganda efforts in Afghanistan have failed because of poorly designed programs by...

The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and the Establishment of US-NATO Military Bases in...

The Iranian Foreign Ministry statement on Tuesday advising Kabul not to proceed with the signing of the proposed status of forces agreement with...

US aims to stay in Afghanistan for heroin

The United States wants to stay in Afghanistan in order to keep its profitable heroin business in the country, a political analyst says. "The only...

Army general’s report defends decision to build $36 million headquarters in Afghanistan

Rajiv ChandrasekaranThe Washington PostDecember 4, 2013 This past summer, the Army began investigating why the military spent nearly $36 million to construct a well-appointed 64,000-square-foot...

US seeks ‘carte blanche’ in Afghanistan

The United States is putting pressure on Afghanistan in order to continue its military presence in the country for �œthe indefinite future”, said Rick...

‘US facing defeat in Afghanistan’

The United States is facing defeat in Afghanistan after years of US military assaults on Afghan homes and villages, an anti-war and social justice...

Thanksgiving in Afghanistan: Drone Strike, Dead Child

Hamid Karzai has condemned the air strike that killed a child. (Photograph: S Sabawoon/EPA)As most Americans sat down to eat a large Thanksgiving feast...

US ‘not leaving’ air bases in Afghanistan

The United States is ratcheting up pressure against the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai because it has no intentions of leaving major air bases,...

Happy Thanksgiving from Occupied Afghanistan

Infowars.comNovember 28, 2013 Here's how U.S. soldiers spend their Thanksgiving… As you celebrate #Thanksgiving, take a moment to remember those who are not home with their...

Obama’s Ludicrous Afghanistan Declarations — Killer Teams Redefined as “Advisors”

President Obama thinks he can make war appear to be peace with a wave of “his semantic magic wand.” U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including...

Audio: David Swanson on Afghanistan for 10 More Years

Go here and play the 11/27 show.

US role in Afghanistan to be ‘diminished’

The role of the United States in Afghanistan will be �œgreatly diminished” in the near future, a political commentator in Washington says, adding that...

US ultimatum on permanent occupation of Afghanistan

27 November 2013 Susan Rice, the Obama administration's national security adviser, issued an ultimatum Monday to Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai: either sign a bilateral...

A Citizen’s Apology To Afghanistan

Excellency Hamid Karzai President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan Dilkoshah Palace, a.k.a The ARG Kabul Dear President Karzai, I am very, very sorry that my government won't say...

US ‘Zero Option’ for Afghanistan Arrives as Ultimatum to Karzai

National security adviser Susan Rice. The US insists the deal must be finalised by the year's end. (Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)A full and complete...

10 More Years in Afghanistan

When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are...

10 More Years in Afghanistan

When Barack Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later.  Measured in financial cost, or death and destructio...

Afghanistan considers public stoning for adulterers

AFPNovember 25, 2013 Afghanistan is considering bringing back stoning for adultery, Human Rights Watch and the justice ministry said today, possibly restoring a punishment in...

On Not Leaving Afghanistan

Actually, we're not leaving. That is confirmed by the news this week of Washington's having reached agreement with President Hamid Karzai on the terms...

Pakistan’s Illegal Nuclear Procurement: U.S. Aid to Pakistan Supported the Mujahidin in Afghanistan

Arriving in Washington on 6 December 1982, Pakistani dictator General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq meet Secretary of State George Shultz, a steady supporter of aid to...

Not Sorry: Washington Will Not Apologize for Destroying Afghanistan

A top White House official says Washington does not need to apologize to Afghanistan for over a decade of killing and injuring civilians in...

Permanent US Afghanistan Occupation to Control Oil, Gas and the World’s Largest Opium Supply

Washington didn't attack, invade and occupy Afghanistan to leave. Permanent occupation is planned. NBC News headlined “Endless Afghanistan? US-Afghan agreement would keep troops in place...

Permanent US Afghanistan Occupation

Permanent US Afghanistan Occupationby Stephen LendmanWashington didn't attack, invade and occupy Afghanistan to leave. Permanent occupation is planned. NBC News headlined "Endless Afghanistan? US-Afghan agreement would keep troops in place and fun...

Pact provides for permanent US occupation of Afghanistan

By Bill Van Auken22 November 2013 A draft agreement reached late Wednesday night between Washington and the puppet regime of President Hamid Karzai calls...

In Afghanistan, ‘Security Deal’ Means US Occupation Forever

Days before the so-called bi-lateral security agreement heads to an Afghan council of elders and political leaders for a final decision, the U.S. is...

Whose Interests Do the US Serve in Afghanistan?

I've been a guest in Colorado Springs, Colorado, following a weeklong retreat with Colorado College students who are part of a course focused on...

Surprise! The US Isn’t Leaving Afghanistan

If a draft agreement between the Obama administration and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is finalized, U.S. troops will remain in that country indefinitely...

War Without End in Afghanistan?

U.S. participation in the war in Afghanistan will be renewed, not ended, next year if the draft of a new security agreement is accepted...

In Afghanistan, ‘Security Deal’ Means US Occupation Forever

The U.S. Army's Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment on patrol in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Burton)Days before the so-called...

US to Afghanistan: ‘Security’ Deal Means We Continue Raiding Your Homes

The U.S. Army's Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment on patrol in Maiwand District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan (Photo: Reuters/Andrew Burton)Days before the so-called...

U.S.-Afghan deal would keep American troops in Afghanistan for years

Richard EngelNBC NewsNovember 19, 2013 While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a...

‘US occupation of Afghanistan must end’

Disagreements over a security deal between the US and Afghan governments can never �œbe brought to a just resolution as long as the US...

The bloody disaster of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan is laid bare

Simon JenkinsThe GuardianNovember 18, 2013 Forty-three people died on Friday in clashes between militias in Libya, as did 22 on Sunday from bombs in Iraq....

A Proposal for Peace in Afghanistan

For more than twelve years massive military and civilian forces from the US and NATO and Non-NATO countries along with close to a trillion...

Billions of Taxpayer Dollars Funding Insurgents in Afghanistan

Raven Clabough thenewamerican.com November 15, 2013 Data reveal that billions of American taxpayer dollars continue to fund questionable or openly corrupt contractors in Afghanistan. The findings underscore...

Opium Crop in Afghanistan Up 36 Percent, Says UN Report

A November 13 press release issued by the UNODC — the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime — stated that opium poppy cultivation...

How Opium Greed Is Keeping US Troops in Afghanistan | Brainwash Update

Abby Martin takes a look at a shocking statistic that puts opium production in Afghanistan at a record high, and puts into perspective the...

How Opium Greed Is Keeping US Troops in Afghanistan | Brainwash Update

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qME6Ta9InY4] Abby Martin takes a look at a shocking statistic that puts opium production in Afghanistan at a record high, and puts into perspective...

US Atrocities and War Crimes Cover-Ups in Afghanistan

US drones murder Afghan civilian men, women and children. American grounds forces do it up close and personal. US inflicted death, torture and other atrocities...

US Atrocities in Afghanistan

US Atrocities in Afghanistanby Stephen LendmanUS drones murder Afghan civilian men, women and children. American grounds forces do it up close and personal.US inflicted death, torture and other atrocities reflect daily life. Ordinary Afghans suffer mos...

Afghanistan Opium Crops at All-Time High Despite Western Intervention

The opium trade is alive and well in Afghanistan, despite the efforts of Western nations to control it — At least according to NPR....

Gunmen kill senior leader of Al Qaeda-linked militant group fighting U.S. troops in Afghanistan

Associated PressNovember 11, 2013 Gunmen on the outskirts of Islamabad shot dead a senior leader of one of the most feared Al Qaeda-linked militant groups...

Australian PM visits Afghanistan to mark troop withdrawal

By James Cogan30 October 2013 Recently elected Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten flew together to Afghanistan on Monday...

‘US forces losing in Afghanistan’

An American antiwar activist says the US military forces are losing the war in Afghanistan, so they are looking for “new tactics” to back...

$2.1 million per US troop in Afghanistan

The average cost of each American soldier on the ground in Afghanistan is set to nearly double to $2.1 million in 2014, at a...

Collateral damage: Cost of each US soldier in Afghanistan soars to $2.1 mln

Published time: October 25, 2013 12:51 US army soldiers march from the Forward Base Honaker Miracle at Watahpur District in Kunar province during...

Each U.S. Troop In Afghanistan Now Costs $2.1 Million

Defense One October 24, 2013 For the past five years, the average troop cost had held steady at roughly $1.3. million. The average cost...

The Afghanistan Military Pull Out: The Longest War in American History

As the US and NATO begin to pull out of Afghanistan what might wonder and attempt to fathom what they have achieved by invading...

US to leave Afghanistan without immunity

Lawrence Korb of Center for American Progress believes that the United States will not stay in Afghanistan unless its troops are granted immunity from...

US seeks troop immunity in Afghanistan

The United States insists that any US troops left in Afghanistan after the 2014 withdrawal of foreign forces from the country must enjoy legal...

Twelve Years of Occupation in Afghanistan. Commemoration in Ireland

Tens of thousands of lives have been lost in Afghanistan over the last twelve years, and hundreds of thousands more have been destroyed because...

Twelve Years of Occupation and War Crimes in Afghanistan. Commemoration in Ireland

Tens of thousands of lives have been lost in Afghanistan over the last twelve years, and hundreds of thousands more have been destroyed because of the direct consequences of war and the war-induced breakdown of public health, security, and infrastructure. Shannon has had a central role in all this….

shannon

The twelfth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan was marked by a peace vigil at Shannon on Oct 13th that was attended by close to 40 people. Gardai maintained an overt presence, despite the peaceful nature of this and all previous vigils. They were reminded of their responsibilities to uphold the law by those attending the vigil, and to end the practice of turning a blind eye to the warplanes passing through Shannon. As always, they maintained a stony silence when asked if they were concerned in any way about who or what might be on those planes.

Tens of thousands of lives have been lost in Afghanistan over the last twelve years, and hundreds of thousands more have been destroyed because of the direct consequences of war and the war-induced breakdown of public health, security, and infrastructure. Shannon has had a central role in all this, as over the last twelve years millions of armed troops have turned the airport into a staging post for U.S. military operations abroad. The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, for which Shannon provided logistical support, have been characterised by war crimes, human rights abuse (including kidnapping and torture by the U.S. authorities) and costs mounting to trillions of dollars. And these costs have of course been borne by the people of the U.S., Ireland and every other country now suffering the pain of austerity.

Support for today’s anti-war demonstration at Shannon was evident as passers-by acknowledged and encouraged those taking part. This was hardly surprising, given the findings of the recent PANA poll which showed that over three quarters of Irish people believe Ireland should have a policy of neutrality.

Given the behaviour of the Gardai at Shannon over the last twelve years, and given the numerous references by members of the force to “advice” and “instructions” and “protocols” relating to the searching of planes and the policing of anti-war demonstrations, their attitude was sadly also not surprising. For the duration of the vigil they erected barriers at an arbitrary point before the airport entrance, and refused to let demonstrators past it. When asked why they were doing so, they simply refused to answer.

What was even more bizarre was the spurious arrest of two members of Shannonwatch prior to the vigil today, under the Public Order Act. They were at the airport taking photographs, which is not illegal, but were handcuffed, taken into custody and released around an hour later. There were no U.S. military aircraft evident at the airport at the time, so the bizarre behaviour of the Gardai may have more to do with the presence of two luxurious Middle East VIP jets, registrations N777AS and N757MA.

If the Airport Police and Gardai had anticipated a security risk from someone taking photos of one of these aircraft someone in authority could have declared the car park in which the arrests took place to be a temporarily restricted area. They are entitled and empowered to restrict certain areas for a limited time but they didn’t do that, Nonetheless the arresting officer did his best to convince the Shannonwatch members that the place was permanently restricted (which it isn’t) and that they had broken the law by being there (which they hadn’t).

It’s not the sort of security that the U.S. military would expect at one of their airbases, but it’s what they’ve got at Shannon.

About the authors: Shannonwatch is a group of human rights and anti-war activists based in the mid-West of Ireland. Email: [email protected]

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Twin bombings kill 5 in Afghanistan

Afghan policemen are seen at the site of a blast in Afghanistanâ„¢s Helmand Province, July 11, 2013.At least five people, including two police officers,...

1,900 more UK troops leave Afghanistan

Britain will withdraw 1,900 of its total 7,900 forces from Afghanistan by the autumn, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond says. The pull-out follows the British governmentâ„¢s...

UK ‘made matters worse’ in Afghanistan

A new report says that early military misjudgements by British commanders in Afghanistan made the insurgency worse and actually won over recruits to the...

Pentagon spends $34 million on unused military base in Afghanistan

The US military has raised a $34 million building in southwestern Afghanistan, which it initially planned to use as its headquarters. But as the...

Heroin Track Marks Are the Scars of War in Afghanistan

July 9, 2013  | ...

Slovak soldier killed in S Afghanistan

A Slovakian soldier serving with US-led forces has been killed and six others have been wounded in an attack by an Afghan soldier in...

Roadside bomb kills 17 in Afghanistan

A powerful roadside bomb explosion has claimed the lives of at least 17 people in the troubled Western Afghanistan, security sources say. Republished with...

29 militants killed in Afghanistan

Twenty-nine Taliban militants have been killed in joint military operations by Afghan forces and US-led soldiers in Afghanistan. According to a statement released by the...

‘19 US soldiers killed in E Afghanistan’

Nineteen US soldiers have been killed in an attack in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Ghazni, the Taliban militants say. Republished with permission from: Press...

US agent detained in Afghanistan

File photo shows Afghan security forces in Kabul.Senior provincial officials in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar say they have detained a US agent who...

'Violent clashes kill 80 in Afghanistan'

Afghan security forces conduct a large-scale security operation in an area of Afghanistan (file photo)Nearly 80 people have been killed and dozens more injured...

US airstrike kills 2 in east Afghanistan

At least two people have been killed when American forces launched an airstrike in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Paktia, Press TV reports. Republished with...

Attack kills 12 police in S Afghanistan

File photo shows Afghan security forces in Kabul.At least a dozen policemen have been killed after a bomber detonated his explosives-packed vest in an...

Roadside bombs kill 9 in Afghanistan

People gather at the site of a bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan. (File photo)At least nine people, including four children, have been killed in...

US-led airstrike kills 20 in Afghanistan

A US-led airstrike has killed at least 20 people and injured nine others in Afghanistan's eastern province of Khost, the country's army says. Republished...

Australian soldier dies in Afghanistan

  By ...

Permanent Occupation: Imperialism in Afghanistan, Past and Present

 Fraidoon Amel I. Reform, Revolution, Reaction (1919-1929, 1979-1992) History of Afghanistan is full of war, conflict and violence. It is also filled with revolutions; the...

US-led airstrike kills 4 in Afghanistan

US fighter jets conduct an airstrike in an area of Afghanistan. (File photo)US-led forces in Afghanistan have launched a deadly airstrike in the southern...

“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than eleven years ago. Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism. The war on Afghanistan...

Unfinished Portraits: Iraq and Afghanistan

My anti-war memorial Unfinished Portrait attempts to bring audiences face-to-face with the human costs of the US-led invasions and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan–to...

‘US-led soldier killed in E Afghanistan’

A US-led soldier has died of injuries in eastern Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says. According to ISAF, the unidentified soldier died of...

US-led soldier dies in Afghanistan

A US-led soldier has died of injuries in eastern Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says. Republished with permission from:: Press TV

Roadside bomb kills 4 in N Afghanistan

At least four people, including an Afghan police commander, have been killed in a roadside bomb attack in Afghanistanâ„¢s northern Baghlan province. According to provincial...

Canada in Afghanistan: We Stand on Guard for Empire

LISTEN TO THE SHOW Length (59:30) Click to download the audio (MP3 format) In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, there was relatively little opposition to...

‘Bomb blast kills 3 in Afghanistan’

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul. (File photo)A roadside bomb blast has killed three civilians and injured...

UK PM discusses peace in Afghanistan

British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a press conference at the Prime Minister's house in...

UK govt., army disagree on Afghanistan

David Cameron has breakfast with British troops in Afghanistan.The UK government has ruled out any involvement in providing extensive logistical advice to Afghanistan until...

UK PM visits Afghanistan unannounced

British Prime Minister David Cameron has made an unannounced visit to troops stationed in the Afghan province of Helmand, telling troops that the campaign...

US-led airstrikes kill 8 in Afghanistan

Afghan villagers gather near a house destroyed in a US-led airstrike in Logar province on June 6, 2012. (File photo)At least eight people have...

US-led airstrikes kill 8 in Afghanistan

Eight people have been killed in airstrikes carried out by US-led forces in Afghanistan's provinces of Paktia and Kandahar, Press TV reports. Republished with...

‘6 foreign forces killed in W Afghanistan’

The Taliban militants in Afghanistan claim they have killed six US-led foreign forces in an attack in the western province of Farah. Republished with...

US-led soldier dies in Afghanistan

A foreign soldier serving with the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has died in eastern Afghanistan as a result of a non-battle injury. The...

US-led soldier dies in Afghanistan

A foreign soldier serving with the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has died in eastern Afghanistan as a result of non-battle related injury....

Roadside bomb kills 5 in E Afghanistan

Afghans gather at the site of a bomb attack in the eastern province of Laghman province on June 3, 2013.At least five people have...

UK rapped for Afghanistan drugs policy

A senior Iranian lawmaker has slammed Britain for letting drugs production rise four-fold in Afghanistan compared to the figures under Taliban in Iranâ„¢s eastern...

‘US to blame for tension in Afghanistan’

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has blamed the United States for tensions in his country by allowing the opening of a political office for Taliban...

Afghanistan unhappy with UK-run jail

British military vehicles are parked in a compound in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. (file photo)Senior Afghan officials in Kabul have once again denounced the British-run...

4 Polish soldiers killed in Afghanistan

US-led soldiers stand guard by a road in Ghazni Province. (File photo) Four US-led Polish soldiers have been killed and two others wounded in...

4 Polish soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Four US-led Polish soldiers have been killed and two others wounded in an attack in Afghanistan's central-eastern province of Ghazni. This article originally appeared...

6 police killed in attack in Afghanistan

Afghanistan security forces are seen in Kabul on June 25, 2013, after an attack by Taliban militants.At least six Afghan policemen have lost their...

‘Bomb kills near a dozen in Afghanistan’

Afghan security force keep watch near the entrance gate of the Presidential palace in Kabul on June 25, 2013. Police say a roadside bomb...

Ron Paul: What We Have Learned From Afghanistan

Ron PaulInfowars.comJune 24, 2013 Last week the Taliban opened an office...

The Spoils of War: Afghanistan’s Multibillion Dollar Heroin Trade

Author’s Note In the course of the last three years, there has been a surge in Afghan opium production. The Vienna based UN Office on...

US envoy in Afghanistan amid tensions

The US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan has arrived in Kabul to hold talks with Afghan officials, amid recent tensions over the opening...

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria: Chear-leading Another Blood Bath in the Name of...

“Any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terrorism.” President Barack Obama 15th February 2013. (Re Boston bombings.) Having...

US-led soldier killed in east Afghanistan

An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldier in Afghanistan (file photo)A foreign soldier serving with the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been...

US-led soldier killed in east Afghanistan

A foreign soldier serving with the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been killed in a bomb attack in eastern Afghanistan, Press TV...

Aussie soldier killed in S Afghanistan

A soldier serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (file photo)An Australian soldier serving with the US-led International Security Assistance...

‘Drug production in Afghanistan up 40%’

Drug production in Afghanistan up 40% since foreign invasion of country: OfficialA top Iranian Judiciary official says the production of narcotics in Afghanistan, Iranâ„¢s...

US-led soldier killed in south Afghanistan

A soldier serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan (file photo)A foreign soldier serving with the US-led International Security Assistance...

US-led airstrike kills 30 in Afghanistan

US fighter jets conduct an airstrike in an area of Afghanistan. (File photo)At least 30 people have been killed after US-led forces launched an...

US-led soldier slain in south Afghanistan

A foreign soldier serving with the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) has been killed in a militant attack in the troubled southern Afghanistan,...

US-led airstrike kills 30 in Afghanistan

At least 30 people have been killed in an airstrike carried out by US-led forces in southeastern Afghanistan. This article originally appeared on: Press...

‘Taliban behead 4 people in Afghanistan’

Taliban militants have beheaded four people, including two civilians, in Afghanistanâ„¢s northern province of Parwan, officials say. Å“Taliban militants beheaded an Afghan intelligence officer along...

US, Afghanistan lock horns over Taliban

The Afghan government has expressed serious concerns about the ongoing US-led peace process with Taliban militants in Qatar. On Thursday, Afghan Foreign...

Supply trucks attacked in Afghanistan

An Afghan police stands near a destroyed NATO oil tanker on April 6, 2012.Taliban militants have attacked two trucks in Afghanistan's eastern province of...

Supply trucks attacked in Afghanistan

An Afghan police stands near a destroyed NATO oil tanker on April 6, 2012.Taliban militants have attacked two trucks in Afghanistan's eastern province of...

3 US soldiers wounded in Afghanistan

Three American soldiers have been injured in heavy gunfire with Taliban militants in Afghanistan's eastern province of Wardak, Press TV reports. According to local officials,...

5 militants killed in E Afghanistan

At least five Taliban militants have been killed and three US-led troopers injured in violent clashes in Afghanistan's eastern province of Wardak. Afghan security...

Afghanistan frees Bagram prisoners

US troops walk down a pathway at the Parwan Detention Facility in Parwan province, Afghanistan. (file photo)Afghan authorities have released more than 2,156 prisoners...

Afghanistan frees Bagram prisoners

US troops walk down a pathway at the Parwan Detention Facility in Parwan province, Afghanistan. (file photo)Afghan authorities have released more than 2,156 prisoners...

Six policemen found dead in Afghanistan

Afghan police officers stand guard at the entrance to police headquarters in Kabul. (file photo)At least Six Afghan policemen are found dead and two...

Georgia to shut two bases in Afghanistan

Georgian honor guards carry the coffins of Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan during a ceremony at an airport near the capital Tbilisi on June...

US-led airstrike kills 10 in Afghanistan

File photo shows Taliban militants in Afghanistan.Local Afghan officials say at least 10 people have been killed in eastern Afghanistanâ„¢s Paktika Province in a...

US air strike kills 10 in Afghanistan

Local Afghan officials say at least 10 people have been killed in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktika Province in a US airstrike targeting Taliban militants Press...

NATO convoy attacked in Afghanistan

Taliban militants have targeted a NATO convoy in an area of Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people and injuring several others, security sources say....

NATO convoy attacked in Afghanistan

Taliban militants have targeted a NATO convoy in an area of Afghanistan, killing at least 10 people and injuring several others, security sources say....

US-led soldier killed in Afghanistan

Polish soldiers stand guard by a road in Ghazni Province. (File Photo) A US-led soldier has been killed in a roadside bomb explosion in...

US-led soldier killed in Afghanistan

A US-led soldier has been killed in a bomb explosion in eastern Afghanistan,Press TV reports. This article originally appeared on: Press TV

Seven die in Afghanistan bomb attack

Afghan policemen are seen in the capital, Kabul, June 10, 2013.Seven people including a police officer have been killed in a bomb explosion carried...

Seven die in Afghanistan bomb attack

Afghan policemen are seen in the capital, Kabul, June 10, 2013.Seven people including a police officer have been killed in a bomb explosion carried...

108,000 Private Contractors in Afghanistan and “We Have No Idea What They’re Doing”

by Aubrey Bloomfield Two recently released reports, one by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and one by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), show that not only...

Italian soldier killed in Afghanistan

Italian soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force help a wounded comrade.(file photo)An Italian soldier has been killed, and three others wounded in...

Italian soldier killed in Afghanistan

An Italian soldier has been killed and three others wounded in an attack in Afghanistan. This article originally appeared on: Press TV

7 Georgian soldiers die in Afghanistan

The US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan have confirmed the death of at least seven Georgian soldiers in a car bomb attack in the restive...

Explaining Afghanistan’s Future

Email is a wonderful medium for communication, but there are drawbacks, one of which is the deluge of spam that hits our inboxes. We’ve...

7 Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Georgian soldiers attend a departure ceremony before deployment to Afghanistan at the Vaziani military base outside Tbilisi, Georgia. (file photo)Seven Georgian soldiers serving with...

Georgian soldiers killed in S Afghanistan

Seven Georgian soldiers serving with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have been killed in a bomb attack on their base in the southern...

Blast hits US-led base in Afghanistan

A powerful car bomb explosion rocks a US-led military base in Afghanistan's southern Helmand Province. This article originally appeared on: Press TV

Afghanistan alarmed by civilian deaths

A child stands at the site of a car bomb explosion in Laghman Province, Afghanistan. (File photo)The chief of the Afghan Independent Human Rights...

Justice Served in Afghanistan?

The New York Times recently reported that Staff Sgt. Robert Bales will plead guilty to the murder of 16 Afghan civilians. It is believed...

Hotel bombing kills 1 in Afghanistan

Afghan soldiers are seen at the site of a bomb attack in Afghanistan. (File photo)At least one civilian has been killed and 15 others...

Bomb blast in Afghanistan hotel kills 1

At least one civilian has been killed and 15 others injured in a bomb blast that hit a hotel in northern Afghanistan. This article...

US drone kills 3 in NE Afghanistan

At least three people have lost their lives in an airstrike carried out by a US assassination drone in Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunar....

US drone kills 3 in NE Afghanistan

At least three people have lost their lives in an airstrike carried out by a US assassination drone in Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunar....

ICRC pulls out staff from Afghanistan

An Afghan policeman stands guard beside the burnt wreckage of vehicles belonging to the International Red Cross after an attack in Jalalabad on May...

UK Merlin choppers leaving Afghanistan

Britain is pulling out its fleet of Merlin choppers from Afghanistan in another sign of Londonâ„¢s phased withdrawal of troops from the Asian country. The...

4 killed in Afghanistan bomb blast

People carry a wounded student school boy to hospital in Pakita province, Afghanistan, on June 3, 2013. A roadside bomb blast has claimed the...

Australian military halts all prisoner transfers amid torture concerns in Afghanistan

Australia is refusing to hand over captured prisoners to Afghan authorities, citing reports of detainee torture. The UK has also been holding on to...

US soldier killed in Afghanistan blast

A US trooper and an Afghanistan National Army soldier patrol in Kalinoum village, west of Garmsir, Helmand Province. (File photo)An US-led soldier has been...

Australian military halts all prisoner transfers amid torture concerns in Afghanistan

Australia is refusing to hand over captured prisoners to Afghan authorities, citing reports of detainee torture. The UK has also been holding on to...

US soldier killed in Afghanistan blast

An American soldier has been killed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan's southwestern Nimruz Province, Press TV reports. This article originally appeared on: Press...

Australian military halts all prisoner transfers amid torture concerns in Afghanistan

Australia is refusing to hand over captured prisoners to Afghan authorities, citing reports of detainee torture. The UK has also been holding on to...

Bomb blast kills 7 in east Afghanistan

A child stands at the site of a car bomb explosion in Laghman Province, Afghanistan. (File photo)Seven people have died in a roadside bomb...

Afghanistan slams UK prison in Helmand

British military vehicles are parked in a compound in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. (file photo)The Afghan government has denounced the British-run prison in Helmand Province,...

Afghanistan slams UK prison in Helmand

The Afghan government has denounced the British-run prison in Helmand Province, saying the detention of Afghans by British forces is unacceptable, Press TV reports....

Landmine blast kills 4 in Afghanistan

Afghan security forces examine the site of a bomb attack in Parwan Province. (File photo)A landmine explosion has killed at least four civilians, including...

3 ISAF soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Three foreign soldiers and a security contractor working with the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan have died in three separate attacks...

Roadside bomb kills 3 in Afghanistan

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul. (File photo)At least three people have been killed in Afghanistan after...

WH asked about Afghanistan troop level

US retired Gen. John AllenFormer top US commander in Afghanistan has called on the White House to announce how many troops will stay in...

US, NATO agree on Afghanistan summit

US President Barack Obama and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen have agreed to hold a NATO summit on the withdrawal of international troops...

Obama, NATO’s Rasmussen discuss end of combat in Afghanistan

upi.comMay 31, 2013 NATO members must keep working with Afghan counterparts to ensure they’re ready to...

Red Cross halts work in Afghanistan

An Afghan policeman stands guard beside the burnt wreckage of vehicles belonging to the International Red Cross after an attack in Jalalabad on May...

Afghanistan: Is It Really the End Game?

“Gunmen in Pakistan on Monday set ablaze five trucks carrying NATO equipment out of Afghanistan as the international military alliance winds down it combat...

US-led soldier killed in Afghanistan

US-led soldiers patrol an area of Afghanistan. (file photo)A US-led foreign soldier has been killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in eastern Afghanistan,...

US-led soldier killed in Afghanistan

A US-led foreign soldier has been killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) in eastern Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says. This...

US Army sergeant behind Afghanistan atrocity makes bid to avoid execution

The American soldier behind one of the worst atrocities during the war in Afghanistan, which resulted in the deaths of 16 villagers during a...

US Army sergeant behind Afghanistan atrocity makes bid to avoid execution

The American soldier behind one of the worst atrocities during the war in Afghanistan, which resulted in the deaths of 16 villagers during a...

US Army sergeant behind Afghanistan atrocity makes bid to avoid execution

The American soldier behind one of the worst atrocities during the war in Afghanistan, which resulted in the deaths of 16 villagers during a...

Taliban attack Red Cross in Afghanistan

Afghan policemen stand guard at the entrance to police headquarters in Kabul. (file photo)At least one security guard has been killed and several others,...

Taliban attack Red Cross in E Afghanistan

At least one security guard has been killed and several others, including a foreign national, have sustained injuries after Taliban militants targeted a Red...

10 die in Afghanistan bomb blasts

Afghan security forces examine the site of a bomb attack in Parwan Province. (File photo)Ten people including Afghan security forces have died and six...

The Afghanistan War Comes Home to Philadelphia

Maple Glen War Zone Although I have been a journalist now for 40 years, I have, by design, never sought an assignment as a war...

Two local officials attacked in Afghanistan

Afghan soldiers inspect the wreckage of a car destroyed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan's Khogani District of Nangarhar Province. (File photo)At least...

Two local officials attacked in Afghanistan

Afghan soldiers inspect the wreckage of a car destroyed by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan's Khogani District of Nangarhar Province. (File photo)At least...

US-led soldier killed in E Afghanistan

A US-led soldier has been killed in eastern Afghanistan following a militant attack, as foreign fatalities continue to rise across the war-torn country. This...

US-led forces attacked in Afghanistan

The Taliban militants say they have attacked a convoy of US-led forces in Afghanistanâ„¢s western province of Farah and five Italian soldiers have been...

Afghanistan wants its Gitmo inmates out

Afghanistan has once again renewed its call on the United States to close the notorious Guantanamo prison and immediately hand over the Afghan prisoners...

‘Foreign forces to stay in Afghanistan’

Foreign forces to stay in Afghanistan for long time: Retired US General John AllenRetired US General John Allen has said that foreign forces will...

US-led soldier killed in E Afghanistan

A US-led soldier has been killed in an attack by militants in eastern Afghanistan as foreign fatalities continue to rise across the country. The US-led...

'US-led soldier killed in E Afghanistan'

A US-led soldier has been killed in an attack by militants in eastern Afghanistan, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says. This article originally...

Afghanistan begins voter registration

IEC staff with Afghans at a voter registration centre in Jalalabad on May 26, 2013. Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) says the registration of...

‘Haqqani leaders killed in E Afghanistan’

File photo shows the leader of the Haqqani terror network, Jalaluddin Haqqani (C), and two of his comrades.The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) claims...

'5 killed in E Afghanistan bombing'

A wounded Afghan receives treatment at a hospital in Ghazni Province, east Afghanistan, on May 22, 2013. At least five people have been killed...

‘5 killed in E Afghanistan bombing’

At least five people have been killed and 20 others wounded in a bomb attack in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Ghazni, local media say....

India pledges aid to Afghanistan

New Delhi has vowed to increase its reconstruction aid to Kabul as Afghan President Hamid Karzai wraps up a three-day visit to India. Å“India is...

Bomb explosions hit Afghanistan

US-led foreign forces and Afghan security personnel inspect the site of a car bombing attack in Kandahar on February 20, 2012.Two powerful bomb explosions...

Iran, UN envoy discuss Afghanistan

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Asia and Pacific Affairs Seyyed Abbas Araqchi (file photo)The UN special representative on Afghanistan has met with Iranian...

Attacks kill policemen in Afghanistan

Afghan policemen stand guard at the entrance to police headquarters in Kabul on December 24, 2012.Two separate attacks have claimed the lives of at...

US drone attack kills 8 in Afghanistan

File photo shows a US killer drone.At least eight people have been killed and several others severely injured in a strike by a US...

US drone attack kills 8 in Afghanistan

At least eight people have died in an airstrike by a US killer drone in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Kapisa. This article originally appeared...

Iran, Afghanistan sign judicial agreement

Iranâ„¢s Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Amoli Larijani and his Afghan counterpart Abdulsalam Azimi have signed an agreement to bolster judicial and legal cooperation between...

Bomb blast kills 11 in Afghanistan

The site of a bomb attack in Afghanistanâ„¢s western province of Herat (file photo)Nearly a dozen people including a senior local Afghan official have...

The Afghanistan War May End by 2024 … Maybe

Hamid Karzai has let the Pentagon’s cat out of the bag – to the displeasure of the Obama Administration. The Afghan president revealed inside...

Did 9/11 Justify the War in Afghanistan?

There are many questions to ask about the war in Afghanistan. One that has been widely asked is whether it will turn out to...

Powerful blast hits northern Afghanistan

Afghan policemen inspect the site of a car bombing in front of the police chief's office in the southern city of Lashkar Gah in...

Powerful blast hits northern Afghanistan

Several people are feared dead or injured after a huge explosion rocked a governor's compound in northern Afghanistan, security sources say. This article originally...

Blast kills 1, injures 12 in Afghanistan

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a bomb attack in Khost city, eastern Afghanistan. (File photo)At least one person has been killed and...

Blast kills 1, injures 12 in Afghanistan

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a bomb attack in Khost city, eastern Afghanistan. (File photo)At least one person has been killed and...

Powerful blasts kill 9 in S Afghanistan

Afghan security forces at the site of a bomb explosion in Kandahar on March 14, 2012.Twin bomb explosions have killed at least nine people...

Powerful blasts kill 7 in S Afghanistan

Powerful explosions have killed at least seven people and injured dozens in the troubled southern Afghanistan, security sources say. This article originally appeared on...

Taliban commander killed in Afghanistan

A senior Taliban commander has been killed in a joint military operation by Afghan security forces and US-led forces in Afghanistanâ„¢s northern province of...

Six US-led troops killed in Afghanistan

A powerful bomb explosion has ripped through a US military convoy in Kabul, killing at least six US-led soldiers and several Afghan civilians. The...

<em>The Kill Team</em>: The murderous reality of the US war in Afghanistan

  San Francisco International Film Festival 2013–Part one ...

Bomb hits US-led convoy in Afghanistan

A car bomb blast has hit a convoy of vehicles carrying US-led foreign forces in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Afghan police sources said the...

Bomb hits US-led convoy in Afghanistan

A car bomb has hit a convoy of vehicles carrying US-led foreign forces in the Afghan capital, Kabul, police say. This article originally appeared...

US-led airstrike kills 3 in Afghanistan

A US-led assassination drone attack leaves three people dead in Herat Province. (File photo)A US-led airstrike has killed at least three people in the...

US-led airstrike kills 3 in Afghanistan

A US-led airstrike has killed at least three people in the town of Shindand in western Afghanistan’s Herat Province, Press TV reports. This article...

UK seeks longer stay in Afghanistan

British Royal Marine Commandos in the town of Barikju, Northern Helmand, Afghanistan.The British Defense Minister Philip Hammond has said London will extend its military...

Blast kills 4 US-led troops in Afghanistan

US Army soldiers carry a wounded comrade injured in an improvised explosive device (IED) blast during a patrol near Baraki Barak base in Logar...

Blast kills 4 US-led troops in Afghanistan

A powerful bomb explosion has killed at least four US-led soldiers and injured several others in the troubled southern Afghanistan, NATO sources say. This...

‘2 US troopers wounded in Afghanistan’

US soldiers carry a wounded comrade near Baraki Barak base in Logar Province, Afghanistan, October 13, 2012.Afghan officials say at least two US soldiers...

‘2 US soldiers wounded in Afghanistan’

Afghan officials say at least two US soldiers have been injured in a bomb attack by the Taliban in Afghanistan's eastern Kapisa Province, Press...

‘Blast kills at least 13 in Afghanistan’

Afghan officials look on as a vehicle is moved from the site of an attack in Kabul. (File photo)A roadside bomb explosion has killed...

Afghanistan demands arrest of ‘American’ death squad leader

The US and Afghanistan are at loggerheads again after new accusations that an American citizen has ‘disappeared’ fifteen people in the province of Wardak,...

3 Georgian soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Georgian soldiers attend a departure ceremony to mark their deployment to Afghanistan at the Vaziani military base outside Tbilisi, Georgia. (File photo)Three Georgian soldiers...

Bomber hits US-led base in Afghanistan

A heavily-armed bomber has attacked the main gate of the largest US-led military base in Afghanistan's violence-plagued southern province of Helmand, local officials say. Provincial...

Bomber hits US-led base in Afghanistan

A heavily-armed bomber has attacked the main gate of the largest US-led military base in Afghanistan's violence-plagued southern province of Helmand, local officials say...

‘Taliban frees four Turks in Afghanistan’

Turkey says the Taliban militants have released four of the eight Turkish nationals they had kidnapped in a helicopter crash landing in Afghanistan in...

Danish prime minister in Afghanistan

Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt has travelled to Afghanistan to meet Denmarkâ„¢s forces in the countryâ„¢s south. The premierâ„¢s office said in a Sunday statement...

Permanent US Military Bases in Afghanistan

Afghan President Hamid Karzai Thursday revealed that Washington wants to maintain nine US military bases scattered across the country after the formal deadline for...

German Chancellor Merkel in Afghanistan

German Chancellor Angela Merkel chats with military officials upon arrival at the German military base in Kunduz, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013.German Chancellor Angela Merkel...

Pentagon Demands To Keep Nine Bases In Afghanistan After 2014

KABUL: The United States has demanded nine permanent military bases in Afghanistan, something that has long fuelled concerns among regional countries, President Hamid Karzai...

How the Pentagon’s Military Industrial Complex Corrupted Afghanistan

America’s post-9/11 conflicts have been wars of corruption, a point surprisingly seldom made in the mainstream media. Keep in mind that George W. Bush’s administration was a monster of privatization.

US-led soldier killed in E. Afghanistan

A US-led foreign soldier has been killed in a blast in the troubled eastern Afghanistan as foreign fatalities continue to rise across the war-ravaged country. MAM/SS

Polish trooper killed in Afghanistan

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Bomb blast kills 10 in NE Afghanistan

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul.

At least 10 people including eight policemen and two civilians have lost their lives in a roadside bomb attack targeting a vehicle packed with police officers in northeastern Afghanistan.

According to local authorities, the incident took place in Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunar on Thursday.

Following the incident, Provincial Governor Fazlullah Wahidi issued a statement saying that “Unfortunately eight of our policemen and two civilians have been martyred and one woman critically injured in the incident.”


Reports say that the injured woman was transferred to a nearby hospital for medical treatment.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but Afghan officials put the blame on Taliban militants who had carried out similar assaults in the past.

Roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are by far the most lethal weapon Taliban militants use against Afghan forces, foreign troops, and civilians.

On January 26, eleven people were killed in a roadside bomb attack targeting an Afghan police truck packed with officers and detainees in the southern province of Kandahar.

In December 2012, a roadside bomb explosion killed three Afghan civilians in the country’s western province of Farah.

In the first six months of 2012, over 1,140 Afghan civilians were killed and around 2,000 were wounded, mostly by roadside bombs, according to statistics released by the United Nations. Thirty percent of the casualties were women and children.

MAM/HN

War Crimes and the Global War on Terrorism: US Arms Al Qaeda in Syria,...

America's Delusional Democracy. Don’t Mute Newt

AFP has reported that a recent NATO airstrike in Afghanistan has killed over 10 civilians in an all-too-familiar headline glossed over by the Western media in an exercise of both depravity and hypocrisy. RT’s article, “NATO airstrike kills 10 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children – officials,” notes in particular that up to 11,864 civilians were killed in Afghanistan between 2007 and 2011, and that civilian deaths before 2007 were not even tracked by the UN.

Such facts reveal alarming hypocrisy as the UN keeps almost daily, inflated tallies of civilian deaths elsewhere, in particular, in nations like Libya and Syria where Western interests have been heavily involved in regime change and in dire need of manipulating public perception worldwide. The United Nations had in fact pieced together a dubious report crafted from “witness accounts” compiled not in Syria, or even beyond its borders in a refugee camp, but instead, in Geneva by “witnesses” supplied by the so-called Syrian “opposition.”

Worse yet, that UN report was co-authored by Karen Koning AbuZayd, a director of the US Washington-based corporate think-tank, Middle East Policy Council. Its board of directors includes Exxon men, CIA agents, representatives of the Saudi Binladin Group (Osama Bin Laden’s family business), former ambassadors to Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar, US military and government representatives, and even the president of the US-Qatar Business Council, which includes amongst its membership, Al Jazeera, Chevron, Exxon, munitions manufacturer Raytheon (who supplied the opening salvos during NATO’s operations against Libya), and Boeing.

In other words, the very underwriters of the armed militancy that is consuming Syria are sitting along side the head of the UN commission producing reports portraying the Syrian government as guilty of “war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The hypocrisy does not end there. The pretense the US and NATO have used for over a decade to occupy, subjugate and slaughter the people of Afghanistan – in a conflict increasingly creeping over both Afghanistan’s borders with Pakistan and Iran – is supposedly to fight “terrorism.” Western interests have been allowed to fight this “war on terrorism” with impunity, and even without UN monitoring for years, while Syria was immediately condemned for fighting against Al Qaeda terrorists overtly flooding into their nation with NATO assistance.

Indeed, as NATO claims to fight terrorism in Afghanistan, it has already handed over the North African nation of Libya to Al Qaeda terrorists, specifically the the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). The US in particular oversaw the rise of the Al Qaeda terror-emirate Benghazi, even having a US ambassador slain there by the very terrorists it had armed, funded, trained, provided air support for, and thrust into power.

These same terrorists have been documented extensively as spearheading the invasion of northern Syria via NATO-member Turkey, with NATO cash and weapons in cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The glaring hypocrisy of so-called “international law” and “international institutions” is on full display. Nations like Russia, China, Iran, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil, and many others should give serious thought to peeling away from the United Nations, the compromised International Criminal Court, and other corrupt, Western-serving institutions that will, and in many cases already are, being turned against them, their interests, and national sovereignty.

For the people of the world, we must realize that these institutions were created for and by big-business special interests, and the legitimacy they are portrayed as having is a mere illusion created by the corporate media. We must begin identifying these special interests, boycotting and replacing them permanently at a local level. If it is peace we want, it is clear that the UN, NATO, and all institutions in between, sow only death and destruction amidst a myriad of hypocrisy, double standards, and immeasurable corruption, and we must move into the future without them.

SOTU: Obama Poses as Dove while Civilians Bombed in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON - February 13 - KATHY KELLY, [email]
Just back from Afghanistan, Kelly is co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. She said today: “Obama is a ‘hawkish’ president who likes to sound ‘dovish.’ He spoke of ending the U.S. war in Afghanistan, and yet the Pentagon has already told the Afghan government that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan till 2024 and beyond. The Pentagon plans to keep U.S. Special Operations troops in Afghanistan. Just outside of Kabul, the former Blackwater firm, now called ‘Academi,’ is building a 10-acre base, ‘Camp Integrity,’ that will be used to train Special Forces for night raids, drone attacks and aerial bombardments.

“In Afghanistan, on Tuesday evening, February 12, at 10:00 p.m. U.S./NATO forces bombed two homes in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, claiming to attack Taliban forces. According to the Washington Post, nine civilians were killed.

“The Taliban has already responded to announcements about troop withdrawals, saying that troop levels don’t matter — they will continue fighting until the foreign troops leave. Continued U.S. military and security contractor fighting in Afghanistan will prolong the Taliban justification for fighting. The war will continue, and President Obama will force President Karzai to agree to immunity for all U.S. troops in Afghanistan, no matter what crimes they commit.

“U.S. war and development aid have not improved life for the majority of Afghans. The most recent U.S. ‘SIGAR’ [Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction] report said that the U.S. development aid to Afghanistan is now approaching a sum of $100 billion. Yet close to a million Afghans under five are acutely malnourished, according to a UN-backed survey.

“Mainstream media has begun to question ‘drones’ and the ‘kill list’ — U.S. citizens should healthily question everything they have presumed to be ‘acceptable’ — for example, they should question the acceptability of ‘immunity’ for U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.”

NORMAN SOLOMON, [email]
Available for a limited number of interviews, founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and author of War Made Easy, Solomon just wrote the piece “What Obama Said — and What He Meant — About Climate Change, War and Civil Liberties,” which critiques Obama’s statements (in bold):

“After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home.”

How’s that for an applause line? Don’t pay too much attention to the fine print. I’m planning to have 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan a year from now, and they won’t get out of there before the end of 2014. And did you notice the phrase “in uniform”? We’ve got plenty of out-of-uniform military contractors in Afghanistan now, and you can expect that to continue for a long time.

“And by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.”

If you believe that, you’re the kind of sucker I appreciate — unless you think “our war in Afghanistan” doesn’t include killing people with drones and cruise missiles.

“Beyond 2014, America’s commitment to a unified and sovereign Afghanistan will endure, but the nature of our commitment will change. We’re negotiating an agreement with the Afghan government that focuses on two missions: training and equipping Afghan forces so that the country does not again slip into chaos, and counterterrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.”

We’re so pleased to help Afghan people kill other Afghan people! Our government’s expertise in such matters includes superb reconnaissance and some thrilling weaponry, which we’ll keep providing to the Kabul regime. And don’t you love the word “counterterrorism”? It sounds so much better than: “using the latest high-tech weapons to go after people on our ‘kill lists’ and unfortunately take the lives of a lot of other people who happen to be around, including children, thus violating international law, traumatizing large portions of the population and inflicting horrors on people in ways we would never tolerate ourselves.”

Last week, Solomon debated Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, on “Democracy Now!” Solomon wrote the piece “Washington’s War-Makers Aren’t ‘in a Bubble,’ They’re in a Bunker” based on the debate.

Pakistan eyeing UK arms in Afghanistan

The Pakistani government has called on Britain to give it military equipment in Afghanistan, which the country would leave behind after the withdrawal of its troops before the end of 2014. The issue was discussed during talks between Prime Minister Da...

From Afghanistan: My Voice Is Not Political, It Is Human

It’s hard for me, an ordinary citizen of Singapore, a medical doctor engaged in social enterprise work in Afghanistan and a human being wishing for a better world, to write this from Kabul.Raz, Abdulhai and the author in Kabul, Afghanistan. (Photo: Voices for Creative Nonviolence)

But people are dying.

And children and women are feeling hopeless.

 “What’s the point in telling you our stories?” asked Freba, one of the seamstresses working with the Afghan Peace Volunteers to set up a tailoring co-operative for Afghan women. “Does anyone hear? Does anyone believe us?”

Silently within, I answered Freba with shame,” You’re right. No one is listening.”

So, I write this in protest against my government’s presence in the humanitarian and war tragedy of Afghanistan, as a way to lend my voice to Freba and all my Afghan friends.

I do so in dissent, against the global security of imprisoned minds.

I thought, “If no one listens as humans should, we should at least speak like free men and women.”

Singapore’s complicity in the humanitarian and war tragedy of Afghanistan

It is clear that the Taliban, the many Afghan and regional warlords, militia groups and the Afghan government are responsible for the current humanitarian and war tragedy of Afghanistan.

But Singapore is also responsible because it is one of the fifty U.S. /NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) coalition countries working with the corrupt Afghan government (rated the most corrupt country in 2012).

While the Singapore government would never support any corrupt Singaporean leader even for a day, they have sent troops to support the most corrupt leaders on earth! If accountability is at all important, we cannot say, ‘Oh…never mind!”

Moreover, Singapore has inadvertently become a minor accomplice of the self-interests of the U.S. government in Afghanistan ; The U.S. Vice President , Joe Biden, spoke at the Munich Security Conference recently, "The United States is a Pacific power. And the world's greatest military alliance ( NATO ) helps make us an Atlantic power as well. As our new defense strategy makes clear, we will remain both a Pacific power and an Atlantic power." 

American power and economic interests naturally do not include the best interests of ordinary Singaporeans or Afghans.

The Afghan humanitarian tragedy

In the normal, logical world, it should inspire the doubt and curiosity of Singaporeans that while the U.S. /NATO coalition was spending billions of dollars every week on the Afghan war ( the U.S. alone was spending two billion dollars every week ), Afghans have been perishing under one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the world. At least 36% live below the poverty line and 35% of Afghan men do not have work . The UN calls the acute malnutrition of nearly one million children in the Afghan south ‘shocking’ . Almost three quarters of all Afghans do not have access to safe drinking water .

On several occasions in the past few years, Afghanistan was declared the worst country for children and women, and yet, many of us still hold this warped presumption, “Afghanistan is the worst country for children and women but whatever we are doing over there MUST somehow be right!”

The Afghan war tragedy

In the normal, logical world, it should at least matter to ‘result-orientated’ Singaporeans that the very expensive Afghan/U.S. coalition’s ‘war against terrorism’ has increased rather than decreased ‘terrorism’, with the Global Terrorism Index reporting that terrorist strikes in the region have increased four times since the start of the Iraq war in 2003.

Even President Karzai said in the UK recently that the security situation in southern Helmand province of Afghanistan was better before British troops were deployed.

Adding to this cynical mess of increased ‘terrorism’ at the hands of global superpowers, the U.S. has established an epicenter of drone warfare in Afghanistan, with Afghans and Pakistanis and other ‘insurgents’ as their ‘targets’, and Singapore as one of their many allies. Singapore has had teams helping in drone reconnaissance operations, reconnaissance that may have eventually ended up with a U.S. /NATO decision to kill someone without trial.

I had raised this personal concern once in a meeting room at Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs ; I was appreciative of the attentiveness given to this issue, but sensed that there was no great interest in ‘investigating’ how Singapore’s co-operation in the drone operations in Afghanistan may be violating international law, as was suggested by the ex-UN Special Rapporteur on Extra Judicial, Summary or Arbitrary Killings, Mr Philip Alston.

A recent New York Times article highlights these ‘fears  for U.S. allies’, reporting on a lawsuit in the British courts that ‘accuses British officials of becoming “secondary parties to murder” by passing intelligence to American officials that was later used in drone strikes.’ My life has been changed by listening to Afghan friends like Raz Mohammad tell how ‘drones bury beautiful lives’.

The U.N. is finally living up to its charter to ‘remove the scourge of war’ by duly investigating drone warfare. Major U.S. newspapers are also asking for more transparency over Obama’s weekly, premeditated ‘kill lists’. There has been concern over unchecked Powers getting even more out of all jurisdictions with the appointment of ‘drone justifier’ John Brennan as Obama’s CIA Director nominee.

Even the UN Committee on the Rights of a Child has been "alarmed" at reports of the deaths of hundreds of children from US attacks and air strikes in Afghanistan since the committee last reviewed U.S. practices in 2008.

Singapore should be alarmed too.

Singapore’s own identity as a militarized, authoritarian country

Deep within, like most human beings, Freba yearns for a decent livelihood without war. Abdulhai and the Afghan Peace Volunteers wish for friends from all 195 countries of the world, a better world without borders!

What kind of identity do Singaporeans wish for their country, a peaceful and friendly country or otherwise?

Again, I’m concerned. We like pictures of be-medaled soldiers more than unsung ‘Mother Teresa’ heroines. Our government has a significant number of ex-military commanders.

According to the Global Militarisation Index released by the Bonn International Centre for Conversion (BICC), Singapore has been the second most militarized nation in the world for years. The latest ranking puts Singapore just second to Israel and one brutal position more militarized than Syria.

The world is awakening, the human race is revolutionizing, and so is Singapore’s electorate. Most ordinary folk in the world don’t want to send missiles or guns to kill strangers in other places! Human beings have always preferred otherwise.

What also worries me is that this militarized mindset may be behind Singapore’s enthusiasm in the drone show-business, and in ‘unintentionally’ being part of the U.S.’ ‘Asia pivot’ by hosting four U.S. littoral combat ships.

Even on the economic front, while Singapore has one of the higher Gini coefficients of income inequality in the world, not many people in Singapore are aware of or debating Singapore’s participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, again a partnership that corporate America is pushing for.

What Singapore has aligned herself with in Afghanistan is militarized authoritarianism that concentrates profit and power in the hands of a few. While this follows global norms, such a system works mainly for the wealth and power of the 1% in the short term, but not for the daily needs of the 99% in either the short or long term.

I personally think that both the democratic and socialist practices of today are ‘non-progressive’ vehicles for the rule of the few ‘Kings, Emperors, Presidents, and Prime Ministers’ over the many presumably ‘ignorant, helpless and sometimes lazy’ subjects. These elitist systems tend to maintain control by ‘pacifying the masses’ through formal education, mainstream media and force.

I hope Singapore can steer itself away from this ‘norm’, an ugly ‘norm’ in which war becomes fun, like when Prince Harry described his combat pilot job in Afghanistan as "a joy … because I'm one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think I'm probably quite useful."

I believe that for effective defense and genuine security, we ought to be friends with neighbours and all peoples of other lands rather than militarists with superior weapons.

Perhaps these are differences in opinions which can be included in Our Singapore Conversation.

It’s hard for me to write this, but I am sincerely ashamed to be a citizen of the 2nd most militarized nation on earth, a country that has participated in the legally-questionable drone warfare in Afghanistan.

Thankfully, I have hope in Singaporeans like I have hope in humanity. There are alternatives. The world is awakening, the human race is revolutionizing, and so is Singapore’s electorate. Most ordinary folk in the world don’t want to send missiles or guns to kill strangers in other places! Human beings have always preferred otherwise.

My voice is not political. My voice is human.

Afghans are hurting very badly.

And I am hurting too.

Hakim

Hakim (weeteckyoung@gmail.com) is a mentor for the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul. www.ourjourneytosmile.com

Dunford takes charge of NATO in Afghanistan

US General Joseph Dunford assumed command of NATO forces in Afghanistan on Sunday, taking over from General John Allen as the coalition prepares to withdraw the bulk of its combat troops by next year. Marine General Dunford will likely be the last com...

Scary Flashes of Iraq and Afghanistan Wars in the LAPD’s Manhunt for Chris Dorner

The shootings were reminiscent of horrific incidents at Iraqi checkpoints.

Photo Credit: Sadik Gulec / Shutterstock.com

February 8, 2013  |  

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On Thursday, police hunting for Chris Dorner, a veteran and former LAPD officer who allegedly launched a killing spree on Sunday, opened fire on a blue pickup truck driving without its headlights in the early morning hours. Two short Latina women delivering newspapers – 71-year-old Emma Hernandez and her 47-year-old daughter, Margie Carranza – were hit in the hail of gunfire. Hernandez was shot twice in the back and is in intensive care as of this writing.

Chris Dorner, who is a large black man bearing no resemblance to the victims, was reportedly driving a blue pickup.

Nearby, officers also opened fire on a black pickup truck. Fortunately, the innocent driver wasn't hit in that shooting.

The first thought that came to my mind when I read about these incidents was that they reminded me of the accounts veterans returning from Iraq shared with me about what it was like manning check-points in Baghdad.

Our wars always come home to us. That's been notably apparent in recent weeks. First, Eddie Ray Routh, an Iraq vet who was suffering from PTSD allegedly gunned down famed American Sniper Chris Kyle. (Kyle was lauded as a hero despite writing that, “our ROEs [rules of engagement]... were pretty simple: If you see anyone from about sixteen to sixty-five and they’re male, shoot ’em. Kill every male you see.") Then, this week, Dorner allegedly went bonkers.

It's important not to demonize military vets as crazy and dangerous – that kind of stigma results in veterans who end up in the criminal justice system  getting two more years in jail, on average, than non-veterans convicted of the same offense. But the reality is that we've seen a number of similar incidents in recent years: an Iraq war vet was  accused of killing six people in Orange County last March; that same month, another  killed his 11-year-old sister before turning his gun on himself; and another  killed a park ranger in Washington last January.

Most people are at least somewhat aware of the struggles some veterans have readapting to normal society. But a question that's rarely asked is how the wars we've fought for over a decade may be affecting our domestic policing. Police departments provide a lot of jobs to former vets. According to  GI Jobs.com, a Web site for veterans seeking civilian employment, 80 percent of the Dallas Police Department's hires over a two-year period were military vets; approximately 20 percent of LAPD officers have military backgrounds.

The image of the truck Hernandez and Carranza were driving brought to mind the terrifying accounts relayed to me in 2008, when I interviewed more than a dozen returning Iraq war vets, many of whom had served multiple tours. Several told me how the Rules of Engagement had shifted between their first and last tours; early on, they were told to fire only on people who posed an immediate threat – Iraqis carrying weapons. Later in the conflict, “force protection” became the overarching principle, and several soldiers told me they were ordered to open fire on Iraqis caught walking in the wrong area or carrying tools that might be used to bury a roadside bomb.

None of the vets I interviewed told me that they'd killed innocent civilians at checkpoints, but several said it was a relatively common occurance, and that it was a product not of monstrous soldiers run amok, but rather the nature of the beast in a war fought in densely populated urban environs: a car approaches, the occupants don't understand a soldier's hand-signals or don't respond quickly enough, and a horrible tragedy ensues.

US-led copter crashes in Afghanistan

A helicopter belonging to the US-led forces in Afghanistan has crashed in the east of the Asian country, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) says.

An ISAF spokesman said on Thursday that the NATO helicopter crashed in the eastern province of Kapisa.

“I can confirm an International Security Assistance Force helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan today,” the ISAF spokesman stated.

“The cause is under investigation but initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time. The reporting we have at this time is that there were no casualties.”

Meanwhile, the Taliban said the helicopter had been shot down by rocket fire in the Tagab district of Kapisa. The militant group claimed that all the personnel abroad were killed.


Kapisa provincial governor Mehrabuddin Safi confirmed the incident and said, “We are investigating what caused the crash and possible casualties.”

Taliban have usually claimed responsibility for such crashes in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion of the country.

In 2011, the Taliban militants downed a US helicopter in the eastern province of Wardak. Thirty-one members of the US Special Forces were killed in the attack, which was the biggest single loss of life for American forces since 2001.

MSH/HSN

“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

"The War is Worth Waging": Afghanistan's Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than eleven years ago. 

Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The war on Afghanistan continues to be heralded as a war of retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks. 

This article, first published in June 2010, points to the “real economic reasons”  why US-NATO forces invaded Afghanistan eleven years ago. 

The legal argument used by Washington and NATO to invade and occupy Afghanistan under “the doctrine of collective security” was that the September 11 2001 attacks constituted an undeclared “armed attack” “from abroad” by an unnamed foreign power.

Michel Chossudovsky,  February 5, 2013

*      *      *

The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a “Just War”, a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate “Islamic terrorism” and instate Western style democracy.

The economic dimensions of  the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 “counter-terrorism campaign” has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.

The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder,  ”a resource war”.

While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess “previously unknown” and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said… “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)

Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”. “Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car.” At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. “The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. “Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia” (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

“Previously Unknown Deposits” of Minerals in Afghanistan

The Pentagon’s near one trillion dollar “estimate” of previously “unknown deposits” is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate:  “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)

Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan’s mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan’s mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.

The US Administration’s acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth  following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America’s business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).

Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of  vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal,  June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars “estimate” intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study.

More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: “It’s no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas,” (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002):

“Afghanistan has never been anyone’s colony – no foreigner had ever “dug” here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known.

It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.

Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.

However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else – the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).

The war is worth waging. … (Olga Borisova, “Afghanistan – the Emerald Country”, Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)

While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.

The issue of “previously unknown deposits” sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan’s vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World’s most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail:

… Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits … The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly,  Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)

Afghanistan’s Natural Gas

Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control  over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.

Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a “crucial transit corridor”. (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the ‘good and necessary’ war; it’s about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington’s agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.

What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal  and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed “Afghanistan’s ‘explored’ (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5  trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag’s initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf.” (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).

The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan’s natural gas reserves are “substantial”:

“As northern Afghanistan is a ‘southward extension of Central Asia’s highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,’ Afghanistan ‘has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.’ (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, October 24, 2008)

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington’s objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

America’s covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen “Freedom fighters” (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1

Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America’s covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is “Good for Your Health”: Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, Global Research, April 29, 2007)

Towards an Economy of Plunder

The US media, in chorus, has upheld the “recent discovery” of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth as “a solution” to the development of the country’s war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates.

The war on Afghanistan is  a profit driven “resource war”.

Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led “war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country.” (Borisova, op cit).

Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan’s reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.

Note

1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan  has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually.

In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resulting from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism”, Global Research, Montreal, 2005)

US trooper injured in west Afghanistan

In this night exposure US soldiers prepare their weapons and equipment before boarding a Chinook military helicopter in Zahri district, Kandahar province. (File photo)

One member of the US Special Forces has been injured during a nighttime operation in Afghanistan's western province of Herat, Press TV reports.

The incident took place Monday night when the American forces attacked a home in Shindand district, local police chief Ghulam Sakhi Hussian said on Tuesday.

He added that two militants and two women have been killed during the attack. Three children and an Afghan trooper also have been wounded during the operation, he said.

Earlier Tuesday, local Afghan officials said that at least six Afghan civilians were killed in a military operation carried out by US-led troopers in the district.


Security officials also said that ten gunmen also were killed in the operation.

Civilian casualties have long been a source of friction between the Afghan government and US-led foreign forces and have dramatically increased anti-US sentiments in Afghanistan.

Similar incidents in the past have led to violent public protests.

The United States and its allies entered the war in Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 11 years, the foreign troops have still not been able to establish security in the country.

AZA/DB/HN

‘Western Forces Have Realised Intervening In Afghanistan Was A Mistake’

Afghan president Hamid Karzai has suggested Western forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan because "they feel they were fighting in the wrong place" and that security in southern Helmand was better before Western troops arrived. Afghan's president H...

Iran, Afghanistan sign energy coop deal

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Counting Down to 2014 in Afghanistan: Three Lousy Options, Pick One

Don’t let the forces of regression dominate the media in 2013 - click here to support brave, independent reporting today by making a contribution to Truthout.

Compromise, conflict, or collapse: ask an Afghan what to expect in 2014 and you’re likely to get a scenario that falls under one of those three headings. 2014, of course, is the year of the double whammy in Afghanistan: the next presidential election coupled with the departure of most American and other foreign forces. Many Afghans fear a turn for the worse, while others are no less afraid that everything will stay the same.  Some even think things will get better when the occupying forces leave.  Most predict a more conservative climate, but everyone is quick to say that it’s anybody’s guess.

Only one thing is certain in 2014: it will be a year of American military defeat.  For more than a decade, U.S. forces have fought many types of wars in Afghanistan, from a low-footprint invasion, to multiple surges, to a flirtation with Vietnam-style counterinsurgency, to a ramped-up, gloves-off air war.  And yet, despite all the experiments in styles of war-making, the American military and its coalition partners have ended up in the same place: stalemate, which in a battle with guerrillas means defeat.  For years, a modest-sized, generally unpopular, ragtag set of insurgents has fought the planet’s most heavily armed, technologically advanced military to a standstill, leaving the country shaken and its citizens anxiously imagining the outcome of unpalatable scenarios.

The first, compromise, suggests the possibility of reaching some sort of almost inconceivable power-sharing agreement with multiple insurgent militias.  While Washington presses for negotiations with its designated enemy, “the Taliban,” representatives of President Hamid Karzai’s High Peace Council, which includes12 members of the former Taliban government and many sympathizers, are making the rounds to talk disarmament and reconciliation with all the armed insurgent groups that the Afghan intelligence service has identified across the country. There are 1,500 of them.

One member of the Council told me, “It will take a long time before we get to Mullah Omar [the Taliban’s titular leader].  Some of these militias can’t even remember what they’ve been fighting about.”

The second scenario, open conflict, would mean another dreaded round of civil war like the one in the 1990s, after the Soviet Union withdrew in defeat -- the one that destroyed the Afghan capital, Kabul, devastated parts of the country, and gave rise to the Taliban.

The third scenario, collapse, sounds so apocalyptic that it’s seldom brought up by Afghans, but it’s implied in the exodus already underway of those citizens who can afford to leave the country.  The departures aren’t dramatic.  There are no helicopters lifting off the roof of the U.S. Embassy with desperate Afghans clamoring to get on board; just a record number of asylum applications in 2011, a year in which, according to official figures, almost 36,000 Afghans were openly looking for a safe place to land, preferably in Europe.  That figure is likely to be at least matched, if not exceeded, when the U.N. releases the complete data for 2012.

In January, I went to Kabul to learn what old friends and current officials are thinking about the critical months ahead.  At the same time, Afghan President Karzai flew to Washington to confer with President Obama.  Their talks seem to have differed radically from the conversations I had with ordinary Afghans. In Kabul, where strange rumors fly, an official reassured me that the future looked bright for the country because Karzai was expected to return from Washington with the promise of American radar systems, presumably for the Afghan Air Force, which is not yet “operational.” (He actually returned with the promise of helicopters, cargo planes, fighter jets, and drones.) Who knew that the fate of the nation and its suffering citizens hinged on that?  In my conversations with ordinary Afghans, one thing that never came up was radar.

Another term that never seems to enter ordinary Afghan conversation, much as it obsesses Americans, is “al-Qaeda.” President Obama, for instance, announced at a joint press conference with President Karzai: “Our core objective -- the reason we went to war in the first place -- is now within reach: ensuring that al-Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against America.”  An Afghan journalist asked me, “Why does he worry so much about al-Qaeda in Afghanistan? Doesn’t he know they are everywhere else?”

At the same Washington press conference, Obama said, “The nation we need to rebuild is our own.” Afghans long ago gave up waiting for the U.S. to make good on its promises to rebuild theirs. What’s now striking, however, is the vast gulf between the pronouncements of American officialdom and the hopes of ordinary Afghans.  It’s a gap so wide you would hardly think -- as Afghans once did -- that we are fighting for them.

To take just one example: the official American view of events in Afghanistan is wonderfully black and white.  The president, for instance, speaks of the way U.S. forces heroically “pushed the Taliban out of their strongholds.” Like other top U.S. officials over the years, he forgets whom we pushed into the Afghan government, our “stronghold” in the years after the 2001 invasion: ex-Taliban and Taliban-like fundamentalists, the most brutal civil warriors, and serial human rights violators.

Afghans, however, haven’t forgotten just whom the U.S. put in place to govern them -- exactly the men they feared and hated most in exactly the place where few Afghans wanted them to be.  Early on, between 2002 and 2004, 90% of Afghans surveyed nationwide told the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission that such men should not be allowed to hold public office; 76% wanted them tried as war criminals.


In my recent conversations, many Afghans still cited the first loya jirga, an assembly convened in 2003 to ratify the newly drafted constitution, or the first presidential election in 2004, or the parliamentary election of 2005, all held under international auspices, as the moments when the aspirations of Afghans and the “international community” parted company. In that first parliament, as in the earlier gatherings, most of the men were affiliated with armed militias; every other member was a formerjihadi, and nearly half were affiliated with fundamentalist Islamist parties, including the Taliban.

In this way, Afghans were consigned to live under a government of bloodstained warlords and fundamentalists, who turned out to be Washington’s guys.  Many had once battled the Soviets using American money and weapons, and quite a few, like the former warlord, druglord, minister of defense, and current vice-president Muhammad Qasim Fahim, had been very chummy with the CIA.

In the U.S., such details of our Afghan War, now in its 12th year, are long forgotten, but to Afghans who live under the rule of the same old suspects, the memory remains painfully raw.  Worse, Afghans know that it is these very men, rearmed and ready, who will once again compete for power in 2014.

How to Vote Early in Afghanistan

President Karzai is barred by term limits from standing for reelection in 2014, but many Kabulis believe he reached a private agreement with the usual suspects at a meeting late last year. In early January, he seemed to seal the deal by announcing that, for the sake of frugality, the voter cards issued for past elections will be reusedin 2014.  Far too many of those cards were issued for the 2004 election, suspiciously more than the number of eligible voters.  During the 2009 campaign, anyone could buy fistfuls of them at bargain basement prices.  So this decision seemed to kill off the last faint hope of an election in which Afghans might actually have a say about the leadership of the country.

Fewer than 35% of voters cast ballots in the last presidential contest, when Karzai’s men were caught on video stuffing ballot boxes.  (Afterward, President Obama phoned to congratulate Karzai on his “victory.”) Only dedicated or paid henchmen are likely to show up for the next “good enough for Afghans” exercise in democracy. Once again, an “election” may be just the elaborate stage set for announcing to a disillusioned public the names of those who will run the show in Kabul for the next few years.

Kabulis might live with that, as they’ve lived with Karzai all these years, but they fear power-hungry Afghan politicians could “compromise” as well with insurgent leaders like that old American favorite from the war against the Soviets, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who recently told a TV audience that he intends to claim his rightful place in government. Such compromises could stick the Afghan people with a shaky power-sharing deal among the most ultra-conservative, self-interested, sociopathic, and corrupt men in the country.  If that deal, in turn, were to fall apart, as most power-sharing agreements worldwide do within a year or two, the big men might well plunge the country back into a 1990s-style civil war, with no regard for the civilians caught in their path.

These worst-case scenarios are everyday Kabuli nightmares.  After all, during decades of war, the savvy citizens of the capital have learned to expect the worst from the men currently characterized in a popular local graffiti this way: “Mujahideen=Criminals. Taliban=Dumbheads.”

Ordinary Kabulis express reasonable fears for the future of the country, but impatient free-marketeering businessmen are voting with their feet right now, or laying plans to leave soon. They’ve made Kabul hum (often with foreign aid funds, which are equivalent to about 90% of the country’s economic activity), but they aren’t about to wait around for the results of election 2014.  Carpe diem has become their version of financial advice.  As a result, they are snatching what they can and packing their bags.

Millions of dollars reportedly take flight from Kabul International Airport every day: officially about $4.6 billion in 2011, or just about the size of Afghanistan’s annual budget. Hordes of businessmen and bankers (like those who, in 2004, set up the Ponzi scheme called the Kabul Bank, from which about a billion dollars went missing) are heading for cushy spots like Dubai, where they have already established residence on prime real estate.

As they take their investments elsewhere and the American effort winds down, the Afghan economy contracts ever more grimly, opportunities dwindle, and jobs disappear.  Housing prices in Kabul are falling for the first time since the start of the occupation as rich Afghans and profiteering private American contractors, who guzzled the money that Washington and the “international community” poured into the country, move on.

At the same time, a money-laundering building boom in Kabul appears to have stalled, leaving tall, half-built office blocks like so many skeletons amid the scalloped Pakistani palaces, vertical malls, and grand madrassas erected in the past four or five years by political and business insiders and well-connected conservative clerics.

Most of the Afghan tycoons seeking asylum elsewhere don’t fear for their lives, just their pocketbooks: they’re not political refugees, but free-market rats abandoning the sinking ship of state.  Joining in the exodus (but not included in the statistics) are countless illegal émigrés seeking jobs or fleeing for their lives, paying human smugglers money they can’t afford as they head for Europe by circuitous and dangerous routes.

Threatened Afghans have fled from every abrupt change of government in the last century, making them the largest population of refugees from a single country on the planet.  Once again, those who can are voting with their feet (or their pocketbooks) -- and voting early.

Afghanistan’s historic tragedy is that its violent political shifts -- from king to communists to warlords to religious fundamentalists to the Americans -- have meant the flight of the very people most capable of rebuilding the country along peaceful and prosperous lines.  And their departure only contributes to the economic and political collapse they themselves seek to avoid.  Left behind are ordinary Afghans -- the illiterate and unskilled, but also a tough core of educated, ambitious citizens, including women’s rights activists, unwilling to surrender their dream of living once again in a free and peaceful Afghanistan.

The Military Monster

These days Kabul resounds with the blasts of suicide bombers, IEDs, and sporadic gunfire.  Armed men are everywhere in anonymous uniforms that defy identification.  Any man with money can buy a squad of bodyguards, clad in classy camouflage and wraparound shades, and armed with assault weapons.  Yet Kabulis, trying to carry on normal lives in the relative safety of the capital, seem to maintain a distance from the war going on in the provinces.

Asked that crucial question -- do you think American forces should stay or go? -- the Kabulis I talked with tended to answer in a theoretical way, very unlike the visceral response one gets in the countryside, where villages are bombed andcivilians killed, or in the makeshift camps for internally displaced people that now crowd the outer fringes of Kabul. (By the time U.S. Marines surged into Taliban-controlled Helmand Province in the south in 2010 to bring counterinsurgency-style protection to the residents there, tens of thousands of them had already moved to those camps in Kabul.)  Afghans in the countryside want to be rid of armed men.  All of them.  Kabulis just want to be secure, and if that means keeping some U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base near the capital, as Afghan and American officials are currently discussing, well, it’s nothing to them.

In fact, most Kabulis I spoke to think that’s what’s going to happen.  After all, American officials have been talking for years about keeping permanent bases in Afghanistan (though they avoid the term “permanent” when speaking to the American press), and American military officers now regularly appear on Afghan TV to say, “The United States will never abandon Afghanistan.”  Afghans reason: Americans would not have spent nearly 12 years fighting in this country if it were not the most strategic place on the planet and absolutely essential to their plans to “push on” Iran and China next.  Everybody knows that pushing on other countries is an American specialty.

Besides, Afghans can see with their own eyes that U.S. command centers, including multiple bases in Kabul, and Bagram Air Base, only 30 miles away, are still being expanded and upgraded.  Beyond the high walls of the American Embassy compound, they can also see the tall new apartment blocks going up for an expanding staff, even if Washington now claims that staff will be reduced in the years to come.

Why, then, would President Obama announce the drawdown of U.S. troops to perhaps a few thousand special operations forces and advisors, if Washington didn’t mean to leave?  Afghans have a theory about that, too.  It’s a ruse, many claim, to encourage all other foreign forces to depart so that the Americans can have everything to themselves.  Afghanistan, as they imagine it, is so important that the U.S., which has fought the longest war in its history there, will be satisfied with nothing less.

I was there to listen, but at times I did mention to Afghans that America’s post-9/11 wars and occupations were threatening to break the country.  “We just can’t afford this war anymore,” I said.

Afghans only laugh at that.  They’ve seen the way Americans throw money around.  They’ve seen the way American money corrupted the Afghan government, and many reminded me that American politicians like Afghan ones are bought and sold, and its elections won by money. Americans, they know, are as rich as Croesus and very friendly, though on the whole not very well mannered or honest or smart.

Operation Enduring Presence      

More than 11 years later, the tragedy of the American war in Afghanistan is simple enough: it has proven remarkably irrelevant to the lives of the Afghan people -- and to American troops as well.  Washington has long appeared to be fighting its own war in defense of a form of government and a set of long-discredited government officials that ordinary Afghans would never have chosen for themselves and have no power to replace.

In the early years of the war (2001-2005), George W. Bush’s administration was far too distracted planning and launching another war in Iraq to maintain anything but a minimal military presence in Afghanistan -- and that mainly outside the capital.  Many journalists (including me) criticized Bush for not finishing the war he started there when he had the chance, but today Kabulis look back on that soldierless period of peace and hope with a certain nostalgia.  In some quarters, the Bush years have even acquired something like the sheen of a lost Golden Age -- compared, that is, to the thoroughgoing militarization of American policy that followed.

So commanding did the U.S. military become in Kabul and Washington that, over the years, it ate the State Department, gobbled up the incompetent bureaucracy of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and established Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in the countryside to carry out maniacal “development” projects and throw bales of cash at all the wrong “leaders.”

Of course, the military also killed a great many people, both “enemies” and civilians.  As in Vietnam, it won the battles, but lost the war.  When I asked Afghans from Mazar-e-Sharif in the north how they accounted for the relative peacefulness and stability of their area, the answer seemed self-evident: “Americans didn’t come here.”

Other consequences, all deleterious, flowed from the militarization of foreign policy.  In Afghanistan and the United States, so intimately ensnarled over all these years, the income gap between the rich and everyone else has grown exponentially, in large part because in both countries the rich have made money off war-making, while ordinary citizens have slipped into poverty for lack of jobs and basic services.

Relying on the military, the U.S. neglected the crucial elements of civil life in Afghanistan that make things bearable -- like education and health care.  Yes, I’ve heard the repeated claims that, thanks to us, millions of children are now attending school.  But for how long?   According to UNICEF, in the years 2005-2010, in the whole of Afghanistan only 18% of boys attended high school, and 6% of girls.  What kind of report card is that?  After 11 years of underfunded work on health care in a country the size of Texas, infant mortality still remains the highest in the world.

By 2014, the defense of Afghanistan will have been handed over to the woefulAfghan National Security Force, also known in military-speak as the “Enduring Presence Force.”  In that year, for Washington, the American war will be officially over, whether it’s actually at an end or not, and it will be up to Afghans to do the enduring.

Here’s where that final scenario -- collapse -- haunts the Kabuli imagination.  Economic collapse means joblessness, poverty, hunger, and a great swelling of the ranks of children cadging a living in the streets.  Already street children are said to number a million strong in Kabul, and 4 million across the country.  Only blocks from the Presidential Palace, they are there in startling numbers selling newspapers, phone cards, toilet paper, or simply begging for small change. Are they the county’s future?

And if the state collapses, too?  Afghans of a certain age remember well the last time the country was left on its own, after the Soviets departed in 1989, and the U.S. also terminated its covert aid.  The mujahideen parties -- Islamists all -- agreed to take turns ruling the country, but things soon fell apart and they took turns instead lobbing rockets into Kabul, killing tens of thousands of civilians, reducing entire districts to rubble, raiding and raping -- until the Taliban came up from the south and put a stop to everything.

Afghan civilians who remember that era hope that this time Karzai will step down as he promises, and that the usual suspects will find ways to maintain traditional power balances, however undemocratic, in something that passes for peace.  Afghan civilians are, however, betting that if a collision comes, one-third of those Afghan Security Forces trained at fabulous expense to protect them will fight for the government (whoever that may be), one-third will fight for the opposition, and one-third will simply desert and go home.  That sounds almost like a plan.

Counting Down to 2014 in Afghanistan: Three Lousy Options, Pick One

Don’t let the forces of regression dominate the media in 2013 - click here to support brave, independent reporting today by making a contribution to Truthout.

Compromise, conflict, or collapse: ask an Afghan what to expect in 2014 and you’re likely to get a scenario that falls under one of those three headings. 2014, of course, is the year of the double whammy in Afghanistan: the next presidential election coupled with the departure of most American and other foreign forces. Many Afghans fear a turn for the worse, while others are no less afraid that everything will stay the same.  Some even think things will get better when the occupying forces leave.  Most predict a more conservative climate, but everyone is quick to say that it’s anybody’s guess.

Only one thing is certain in 2014: it will be a year of American military defeat.  For more than a decade, U.S. forces have fought many types of wars in Afghanistan, from a low-footprint invasion, to multiple surges, to a flirtation with Vietnam-style counterinsurgency, to a ramped-up, gloves-off air war.  And yet, despite all the experiments in styles of war-making, the American military and its coalition partners have ended up in the same place: stalemate, which in a battle with guerrillas means defeat.  For years, a modest-sized, generally unpopular, ragtag set of insurgents has fought the planet’s most heavily armed, technologically advanced military to a standstill, leaving the country shaken and its citizens anxiously imagining the outcome of unpalatable scenarios.

The first, compromise, suggests the possibility of reaching some sort of almost inconceivable power-sharing agreement with multiple insurgent militias.  While Washington presses for negotiations with its designated enemy, “the Taliban,” representatives of President Hamid Karzai’s High Peace Council, which includes12 members of the former Taliban government and many sympathizers, are making the rounds to talk disarmament and reconciliation with all the armed insurgent groups that the Afghan intelligence service has identified across the country. There are 1,500 of them.

One member of the Council told me, “It will take a long time before we get to Mullah Omar [the Taliban’s titular leader].  Some of these militias can’t even remember what they’ve been fighting about.”

The second scenario, open conflict, would mean another dreaded round of civil war like the one in the 1990s, after the Soviet Union withdrew in defeat -- the one that destroyed the Afghan capital, Kabul, devastated parts of the country, and gave rise to the Taliban.

The third scenario, collapse, sounds so apocalyptic that it’s seldom brought up by Afghans, but it’s implied in the exodus already underway of those citizens who can afford to leave the country.  The departures aren’t dramatic.  There are no helicopters lifting off the roof of the U.S. Embassy with desperate Afghans clamoring to get on board; just a record number of asylum applications in 2011, a year in which, according to official figures, almost 36,000 Afghans were openly looking for a safe place to land, preferably in Europe.  That figure is likely to be at least matched, if not exceeded, when the U.N. releases the complete data for 2012.

In January, I went to Kabul to learn what old friends and current officials are thinking about the critical months ahead.  At the same time, Afghan President Karzai flew to Washington to confer with President Obama.  Their talks seem to have differed radically from the conversations I had with ordinary Afghans. In Kabul, where strange rumors fly, an official reassured me that the future looked bright for the country because Karzai was expected to return from Washington with the promise of American radar systems, presumably for the Afghan Air Force, which is not yet “operational.” (He actually returned with the promise of helicopters, cargo planes, fighter jets, and drones.) Who knew that the fate of the nation and its suffering citizens hinged on that?  In my conversations with ordinary Afghans, one thing that never came up was radar.

Another term that never seems to enter ordinary Afghan conversation, much as it obsesses Americans, is “al-Qaeda.” President Obama, for instance, announced at a joint press conference with President Karzai: “Our core objective -- the reason we went to war in the first place -- is now within reach: ensuring that al-Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against America.”  An Afghan journalist asked me, “Why does he worry so much about al-Qaeda in Afghanistan? Doesn’t he know they are everywhere else?”

At the same Washington press conference, Obama said, “The nation we need to rebuild is our own.” Afghans long ago gave up waiting for the U.S. to make good on its promises to rebuild theirs. What’s now striking, however, is the vast gulf between the pronouncements of American officialdom and the hopes of ordinary Afghans.  It’s a gap so wide you would hardly think -- as Afghans once did -- that we are fighting for them.

To take just one example: the official American view of events in Afghanistan is wonderfully black and white.  The president, for instance, speaks of the way U.S. forces heroically “pushed the Taliban out of their strongholds.” Like other top U.S. officials over the years, he forgets whom we pushed into the Afghan government, our “stronghold” in the years after the 2001 invasion: ex-Taliban and Taliban-like fundamentalists, the most brutal civil warriors, and serial human rights violators.

Afghans, however, haven’t forgotten just whom the U.S. put in place to govern them -- exactly the men they feared and hated most in exactly the place where few Afghans wanted them to be.  Early on, between 2002 and 2004, 90% of Afghans surveyed nationwide told the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission that such men should not be allowed to hold public office; 76% wanted them tried as war criminals.


In my recent conversations, many Afghans still cited the first loya jirga, an assembly convened in 2003 to ratify the newly drafted constitution, or the first presidential election in 2004, or the parliamentary election of 2005, all held under international auspices, as the moments when the aspirations of Afghans and the “international community” parted company. In that first parliament, as in the earlier gatherings, most of the men were affiliated with armed militias; every other member was a formerjihadi, and nearly half were affiliated with fundamentalist Islamist parties, including the Taliban.

In this way, Afghans were consigned to live under a government of bloodstained warlords and fundamentalists, who turned out to be Washington’s guys.  Many had once battled the Soviets using American money and weapons, and quite a few, like the former warlord, druglord, minister of defense, and current vice-president Muhammad Qasim Fahim, had been very chummy with the CIA.

In the U.S., such details of our Afghan War, now in its 12th year, are long forgotten, but to Afghans who live under the rule of the same old suspects, the memory remains painfully raw.  Worse, Afghans know that it is these very men, rearmed and ready, who will once again compete for power in 2014.

How to Vote Early in Afghanistan

President Karzai is barred by term limits from standing for reelection in 2014, but many Kabulis believe he reached a private agreement with the usual suspects at a meeting late last year. In early January, he seemed to seal the deal by announcing that, for the sake of frugality, the voter cards issued for past elections will be reusedin 2014.  Far too many of those cards were issued for the 2004 election, suspiciously more than the number of eligible voters.  During the 2009 campaign, anyone could buy fistfuls of them at bargain basement prices.  So this decision seemed to kill off the last faint hope of an election in which Afghans might actually have a say about the leadership of the country.

Fewer than 35% of voters cast ballots in the last presidential contest, when Karzai’s men were caught on video stuffing ballot boxes.  (Afterward, President Obama phoned to congratulate Karzai on his “victory.”) Only dedicated or paid henchmen are likely to show up for the next “good enough for Afghans” exercise in democracy. Once again, an “election” may be just the elaborate stage set for announcing to a disillusioned public the names of those who will run the show in Kabul for the next few years.

Kabulis might live with that, as they’ve lived with Karzai all these years, but they fear power-hungry Afghan politicians could “compromise” as well with insurgent leaders like that old American favorite from the war against the Soviets, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who recently told a TV audience that he intends to claim his rightful place in government. Such compromises could stick the Afghan people with a shaky power-sharing deal among the most ultra-conservative, self-interested, sociopathic, and corrupt men in the country.  If that deal, in turn, were to fall apart, as most power-sharing agreements worldwide do within a year or two, the big men might well plunge the country back into a 1990s-style civil war, with no regard for the civilians caught in their path.

These worst-case scenarios are everyday Kabuli nightmares.  After all, during decades of war, the savvy citizens of the capital have learned to expect the worst from the men currently characterized in a popular local graffiti this way: “Mujahideen=Criminals. Taliban=Dumbheads.”

Ordinary Kabulis express reasonable fears for the future of the country, but impatient free-marketeering businessmen are voting with their feet right now, or laying plans to leave soon. They’ve made Kabul hum (often with foreign aid funds, which are equivalent to about 90% of the country’s economic activity), but they aren’t about to wait around for the results of election 2014.  Carpe diem has become their version of financial advice.  As a result, they are snatching what they can and packing their bags.

Millions of dollars reportedly take flight from Kabul International Airport every day: officially about $4.6 billion in 2011, or just about the size of Afghanistan’s annual budget. Hordes of businessmen and bankers (like those who, in 2004, set up the Ponzi scheme called the Kabul Bank, from which about a billion dollars went missing) are heading for cushy spots like Dubai, where they have already established residence on prime real estate.

As they take their investments elsewhere and the American effort winds down, the Afghan economy contracts ever more grimly, opportunities dwindle, and jobs disappear.  Housing prices in Kabul are falling for the first time since the start of the occupation as rich Afghans and profiteering private American contractors, who guzzled the money that Washington and the “international community” poured into the country, move on.

At the same time, a money-laundering building boom in Kabul appears to have stalled, leaving tall, half-built office blocks like so many skeletons amid the scalloped Pakistani palaces, vertical malls, and grand madrassas erected in the past four or five years by political and business insiders and well-connected conservative clerics.

Most of the Afghan tycoons seeking asylum elsewhere don’t fear for their lives, just their pocketbooks: they’re not political refugees, but free-market rats abandoning the sinking ship of state.  Joining in the exodus (but not included in the statistics) are countless illegal émigrés seeking jobs or fleeing for their lives, paying human smugglers money they can’t afford as they head for Europe by circuitous and dangerous routes.

Threatened Afghans have fled from every abrupt change of government in the last century, making them the largest population of refugees from a single country on the planet.  Once again, those who can are voting with their feet (or their pocketbooks) -- and voting early.

Afghanistan’s historic tragedy is that its violent political shifts -- from king to communists to warlords to religious fundamentalists to the Americans -- have meant the flight of the very people most capable of rebuilding the country along peaceful and prosperous lines.  And their departure only contributes to the economic and political collapse they themselves seek to avoid.  Left behind are ordinary Afghans -- the illiterate and unskilled, but also a tough core of educated, ambitious citizens, including women’s rights activists, unwilling to surrender their dream of living once again in a free and peaceful Afghanistan.

The Military Monster

These days Kabul resounds with the blasts of suicide bombers, IEDs, and sporadic gunfire.  Armed men are everywhere in anonymous uniforms that defy identification.  Any man with money can buy a squad of bodyguards, clad in classy camouflage and wraparound shades, and armed with assault weapons.  Yet Kabulis, trying to carry on normal lives in the relative safety of the capital, seem to maintain a distance from the war going on in the provinces.

Asked that crucial question -- do you think American forces should stay or go? -- the Kabulis I talked with tended to answer in a theoretical way, very unlike the visceral response one gets in the countryside, where villages are bombed andcivilians killed, or in the makeshift camps for internally displaced people that now crowd the outer fringes of Kabul. (By the time U.S. Marines surged into Taliban-controlled Helmand Province in the south in 2010 to bring counterinsurgency-style protection to the residents there, tens of thousands of them had already moved to those camps in Kabul.)  Afghans in the countryside want to be rid of armed men.  All of them.  Kabulis just want to be secure, and if that means keeping some U.S. troops at Bagram Air Base near the capital, as Afghan and American officials are currently discussing, well, it’s nothing to them.

In fact, most Kabulis I spoke to think that’s what’s going to happen.  After all, American officials have been talking for years about keeping permanent bases in Afghanistan (though they avoid the term “permanent” when speaking to the American press), and American military officers now regularly appear on Afghan TV to say, “The United States will never abandon Afghanistan.”  Afghans reason: Americans would not have spent nearly 12 years fighting in this country if it were not the most strategic place on the planet and absolutely essential to their plans to “push on” Iran and China next.  Everybody knows that pushing on other countries is an American specialty.

Besides, Afghans can see with their own eyes that U.S. command centers, including multiple bases in Kabul, and Bagram Air Base, only 30 miles away, are still being expanded and upgraded.  Beyond the high walls of the American Embassy compound, they can also see the tall new apartment blocks going up for an expanding staff, even if Washington now claims that staff will be reduced in the years to come.

Why, then, would President Obama announce the drawdown of U.S. troops to perhaps a few thousand special operations forces and advisors, if Washington didn’t mean to leave?  Afghans have a theory about that, too.  It’s a ruse, many claim, to encourage all other foreign forces to depart so that the Americans can have everything to themselves.  Afghanistan, as they imagine it, is so important that the U.S., which has fought the longest war in its history there, will be satisfied with nothing less.

I was there to listen, but at times I did mention to Afghans that America’s post-9/11 wars and occupations were threatening to break the country.  “We just can’t afford this war anymore,” I said.

Afghans only laugh at that.  They’ve seen the way Americans throw money around.  They’ve seen the way American money corrupted the Afghan government, and many reminded me that American politicians like Afghan ones are bought and sold, and its elections won by money. Americans, they know, are as rich as Croesus and very friendly, though on the whole not very well mannered or honest or smart.

Operation Enduring Presence      

More than 11 years later, the tragedy of the American war in Afghanistan is simple enough: it has proven remarkably irrelevant to the lives of the Afghan people -- and to American troops as well.  Washington has long appeared to be fighting its own war in defense of a form of government and a set of long-discredited government officials that ordinary Afghans would never have chosen for themselves and have no power to replace.

In the early years of the war (2001-2005), George W. Bush’s administration was far too distracted planning and launching another war in Iraq to maintain anything but a minimal military presence in Afghanistan -- and that mainly outside the capital.  Many journalists (including me) criticized Bush for not finishing the war he started there when he had the chance, but today Kabulis look back on that soldierless period of peace and hope with a certain nostalgia.  In some quarters, the Bush years have even acquired something like the sheen of a lost Golden Age -- compared, that is, to the thoroughgoing militarization of American policy that followed.

So commanding did the U.S. military become in Kabul and Washington that, over the years, it ate the State Department, gobbled up the incompetent bureaucracy of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and established Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in the countryside to carry out maniacal “development” projects and throw bales of cash at all the wrong “leaders.”

Of course, the military also killed a great many people, both “enemies” and civilians.  As in Vietnam, it won the battles, but lost the war.  When I asked Afghans from Mazar-e-Sharif in the north how they accounted for the relative peacefulness and stability of their area, the answer seemed self-evident: “Americans didn’t come here.”

Other consequences, all deleterious, flowed from the militarization of foreign policy.  In Afghanistan and the United States, so intimately ensnarled over all these years, the income gap between the rich and everyone else has grown exponentially, in large part because in both countries the rich have made money off war-making, while ordinary citizens have slipped into poverty for lack of jobs and basic services.

Relying on the military, the U.S. neglected the crucial elements of civil life in Afghanistan that make things bearable -- like education and health care.  Yes, I’ve heard the repeated claims that, thanks to us, millions of children are now attending school.  But for how long?   According to UNICEF, in the years 2005-2010, in the whole of Afghanistan only 18% of boys attended high school, and 6% of girls.  What kind of report card is that?  After 11 years of underfunded work on health care in a country the size of Texas, infant mortality still remains the highest in the world.

By 2014, the defense of Afghanistan will have been handed over to the woefulAfghan National Security Force, also known in military-speak as the “Enduring Presence Force.”  In that year, for Washington, the American war will be officially over, whether it’s actually at an end or not, and it will be up to Afghans to do the enduring.

Here’s where that final scenario -- collapse -- haunts the Kabuli imagination.  Economic collapse means joblessness, poverty, hunger, and a great swelling of the ranks of children cadging a living in the streets.  Already street children are said to number a million strong in Kabul, and 4 million across the country.  Only blocks from the Presidential Palace, they are there in startling numbers selling newspapers, phone cards, toilet paper, or simply begging for small change. Are they the county’s future?

And if the state collapses, too?  Afghans of a certain age remember well the last time the country was left on its own, after the Soviets departed in 1989, and the U.S. also terminated its covert aid.  The mujahideen parties -- Islamists all -- agreed to take turns ruling the country, but things soon fell apart and they took turns instead lobbing rockets into Kabul, killing tens of thousands of civilians, reducing entire districts to rubble, raiding and raping -- until the Taliban came up from the south and put a stop to everything.

Afghan civilians who remember that era hope that this time Karzai will step down as he promises, and that the usual suspects will find ways to maintain traditional power balances, however undemocratic, in something that passes for peace.  Afghan civilians are, however, betting that if a collision comes, one-third of those Afghan Security Forces trained at fabulous expense to protect them will fight for the government (whoever that may be), one-third will fight for the opposition, and one-third will simply desert and go home.  That sounds almost like a plan.

‘Polish soldier killed in Afghanistan’

US-led soldiers protect a wounded comrade from dust and smoke flares after an explosion during a patrol in Logar Province on October 13, 2012.

Taliban militants say they have killed a Polish soldier serving with the US-led NATO forces in a bomb attack carried out in central Afghanistan.

According to reports, the bomb explosion occurred in the war-torn country’s central province of Ghazni, killing the soldier who was on patrol in Shelgar area.

Two other Polish soldiers were reportedly wounded in the attack.

On January 23, Captain Krzysztof Wozniak, who was a member of Poland’s Elite Special Forces Unit (GROM), succumbed to his injuries hours after a gunman opened fire on a group of Polish soldiers on patrol in the same province.

The new casualty brought to nearly 40 the number of Polish troops killed in the war-torn country since March 2002 when Poland deployed its troops to Afghanistan.


The increasing number of military casualties in Afghanistan has caused widespread anger in the US and other NATO member states, undermining public support for the Afghan war.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains high across the country.

MKA/HGH

Georgia soldiers injured in Afghanistan

Georgian soldiers are seen in a military base in Afghanistan. (File photo)

Three Georgian soldiers have been injured in attacks carried out in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand, Press TV reports.

Georgian military officials said on Friday that Corporal Erekle Kharshiladze and Junior Sergeant Iago Kakulia came under fire during a patrol in Helmand the previous day. The two were reportedly taken to a hospital in Landstuhl in Germany.

In a separate incident, Private Guram Chimakhidze was also injured in an anti-personnel mine explosion while patrolling, the officials added.

Reports say Georgia has about 1,600 soldiers in Afghanistan, mainly in Helmand.

Eight Georgian troops lost their lives in Afghanistan in 2012. The Georgian Ministry of Defense says over 90 soldiers were wounded in the country in 2010-2012.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains across the country.

AZA/SAB/HSN

Hammond Admits Afghanistan ‘Messy’ After Pullout

Afghanistan is likely to be "messy" after western troops pull out in 2014, Defence Secretary Philip Hammond admitted today. Mr Hammond said there was little prospect of the Kabul-based government defeating the Taliban "outright", and the most it could...

Prince Harry Arrives In UK From Afghanistan

Prince Harry has arrived back at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire after his second tour in Afghanistan. In his first interview since returning home, the 28-year-old Apache co-pilot gunner, said he was "very happy to be back" and is "longing to see his ...

Mali: France’s New Afghanistan

Since France launched military strikes against Mali rebels on January 11, the little-known West African country, which has been mired in a crisis for over a year, suddenly came under the media spotlight and made headlines around the world.In view of the developing situation on the ground, the high-profile move by French forces has directly turned the tables and objectively enhanced France’s influence in Africa while at the same time boosting its international status.

Mali was one of the first sub-Saharan countries to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China, and Sino-Malian relations have been good. In addition to this, China has certain interests in Mali through its investment projects.

[T]here is one possible cause for alarm – French forces’ involvement in Mali will provide the case for legalization of a new interventionism in Africa.

Although France became involved in Mali under the banner of anti-terrorism, it is not entirely accurate to say that Malian rebels are terrorists. The nature of the Mali issue is more akin to that of a civil war among different political groups.

Compared with other regions across the world, Africa is a special continent where a majority of nations gained independence after World War II, and the borders of each nation were mostly demarcated by its former colonial masters.

Therefore, Africans’ sense of national identity and concept of sovereignty is quite weak, while their sense of ethnic and religious identity is much stronger. This creates opportunities for Western and other outside forces to intervene in the internal affairs of African countries.

Africa is a region where France has had the deepest impact and operated for the longest period of time. Former president Charles de Gaulle and successive governments have all seen Africa as a “forward base” to support France’s leadership, regard maintaining France’s special interests in French-speaking African countries as a core of African policy, and stress that France would become a second-rate country without Africa.

Moreover, France’s direct economic interests in Mali cannot be underestimated. That’s why President François Hollande, who is said to have “the least interest in Africa,” reversed his low-key image and decided to actively intervene in the continent.

Of course, France’s involvement in Mali is still a risky business. One of the drawbacks of this action is that it brings back memories of the “African gendarmerie” – France’s colonial status.

Although France explained its move as a request from the current government, the same request from the president of the Central African Republic, which also faced an offensive from rebels, failed to get help due to France’s own interests. France then bears the blame for acting with double standards in African affairs as an African gendarmerie. In addition, committing troops to Mali brings added burdens to the stagnant French economy.

As a result, international opinion is beginning to suspect that France may be repeating the missteps of the US in Afghanistan. Whether France can create long-term stability in Mali is far from certain.

The author is a director of African Studies under the Institute of West Asian and African Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Edited by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO

NATO drone crashes in Afghanistan

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Prince Harry: I Killed Taliban In Afghanistan

Prince Harry has confirmed he killed Taliban insurgents during his latest tour of Afghanistan, saying: "We fire when we have to - take a life to save a life." The third-in-line to the throne is on his way home after a five-month tour of the war-torn c...

‘Cold kills 17 in Afghanistan camps’

An internally displaced Afghan boy from Helmand province walks past piled snow outside mud shelterS for the displaced at the Charhi Qambar refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul. (File photo) At least 17 people, including children, have been killed by ...

US-led drone attack kills 2 in Afghanistan

At least two people have been killed in a US-led drone attack in Kunduz Province in northern Afghanistan, Press TV reports.

The US-led drone strike claimed the lives of the two Afghans in Adam Khan region of Khan Abad town in Kunduz Province late Sunday.

Earlier on Saturday, at least five people were killed in another US assassination drone attack in the northeastern province of Kunar.

Kunar is located near the border with Pakistan and has been the scene of frequent US-led drone strikes.

Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are al-Qaeda militants, but local officials and witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of the attacks over the past few years.


The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues to rise across the country, despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led troops.

AZA/AO/HJL

America’s “Lili-Pads” in Afghanistan and Central Asia: Pentagon to Increase the Number of “Small...

by  J. Nasibova

US have many small military bases in Central Asia and can add to them more, Professor of Anthropology, Central Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at Indiana University, USA, Nazif M. Shahrani, told Trend.

“Since the first Gulf War of the 1990′s US security policy has been one described as the “Lily-Pad” policy of keeping small military presence in very large numbers of places around the world, but no large military bases in any particular area. The land based Lily-Pads are complemented by the US navy on the high Seas. Yes, US already has many small military contingents in Central Asia and may add to them, but will not ask for establishing long-term military bases in the region including in Afghanistan. With the widespread use of drones, long-range missiles and extremely mobile US military force, establishing large military bases are not cost effective, so small lily pads-i.e., a military foothold in various places in Central Asia will suffice”, Shahrani said.

Expert: US may extend number of small military bases in Central Asia after 2014

As he mentioned, most but not all of US troops will leave Afghanistan by 2014 for a number of reasons. First of all, the cost of keeping every American service men in Afghanistan is very high-estimated now at $1.2 million a year per soldier – and President Obama is searching for ways to reduce the cost to the US tax payers who are getting tired of the longest US war, especially in light of very unpromising accomplishment in Afghanistan during the last eleven years. More importantly the country is facing trillions of dollars budget deficit in the midst of economic crises.

According to Shahrani, the second reason is increasing cost of the Afghan war in blood-over 3000 dead so far in battle and some are killed by the so called “Blue on Green” (Afghan soldiers killing their US trainers). More importantly it is reported today that in 2012 suicide among US military personnel in Afghanistan has surged to the record number with some 349 US army personnel taking their own lives in Afghanistan. This number far exceeds American combat deaths according to Associated Press in Afghanistan during last year.

“The numbers of seriously injured, both physically and mentally, among the Afghan war casualties are also very high and they require long term care and there are estimates that the long-term cost of US-Afghan war may run more than two trillion dollars in decades to come,” the professor said.

“The third reason is that US want to Afghanize the war and that is why they have established security force of more than 350,000.00 for the Kabul regime. Now they have to take over from the US. Some Afghans, especially President Karzai wants reduction in the US troops because he will not be the President after 2014. If the conditions should deteriorate under his successor, he could then argue that his role as leader of the country was and is indispensable. He has always thought of himself and hardly ever of the country or the nation,” the professor mentioned.

According to Shahrani, in Afghanistan there are a range of reactions to the talk about US ending combat role for the US-ISAF/NATO forces and pulling out by the end of 2014. The range includes-denial by some that US will never completely leave the country or the region because of her own interest in CA; extreme anxiety by many that after US withdrawal Afghanistan government will fold and another round of regional proxy wars may return to Afghanistan and the region.

As he mentioned, these include women and the non-Pashtun ethnic groups in western central and northern parts of the country.

“However, the US and Europeans are unlikely to allow such a disaster from happening; and great many in Afghanistan whose expectation of the international community bringing better and more effective governance and economic reconstruction have been thoroughly crushed, they are disappointed and no longer see the presence of US and European armies and promises of any consequence to them,” Shahrani mentioned.

Currently, there are 50,000 U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan. In early May of last year, U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed a long-term strategic partnership between the two countries. The document provides for the signing of an agreement on safety, better known in diplomatic circles as the “protocol on troops.” It is this agreement that will govern the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

The author can be contacted at agency@trend.az

‘Mali a potential long-term, Afghanistan-like conflict for France’

Al-Qaeda plans to use North Africa as a stepping stone to Europe and France may witness an Afghanistan-like backlash with the US entering another war, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT.

A lot of the terrorists the French are battling in Mali were well-trained by the US and know how US special forces operate, and can use that knowledge against American troops, Maloof said.

The US will likely assist with troops transportation to the region, which could eventually lead to a coup in the country. The situation may soon become a potential Afghanistan for France, Maloof warned.

RT: Militants have killed two foreigners and are holding foreign hostages at a gas field in Algeria. This is an apparent retaliation for the French offensive in Mali. Is this what Paris has been warned against?

Michael Maloof: Paris was fully aware, and I think the US is aware too. This demonstrates how Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb basically is coordinating their activities. This is a part of the overall Al-Qaeda plan to basically take that northern part of Africa as a stepping stone into Europe itself – and there have been threats in Paris already by Malians.

What is really tragic is the fact that the US trained a lot of these now-terrorists, who basically defected from the government and know many of our activities, and know how we operate from a special forces standpoint and can use them against us.

RT: Why did that training initiative go so badly wrong there?

MM: The training went great at the time when it happened. What happened is that they defected. The man who led the coup, [Capt. Amadou Sanogo], was a military man who was actually trained by the US forces. He has insight, and I think General [Carter F.] Ham, one of our top commanders [in Africa], basically declared that this is a disaster that we’re confronting this problem right now.

These troops are very well-trained. They were involved not only in Libya, but also in Mali. They basically turned: They were Tuaregs [nomadic tribes], now they’ve joined forces with AQIM, which is Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

RT: Before asking more about the rebels and their makeup, because it is so easy to call them Al-Qaeda, what about the fact that the US, should it not be obliged now to help France more, as people say it is the US fault? Or is Washington distancing itself from what is going on in Mali?

MM: Not at all. They are involved and providing intelligence and probably will be committing transport to bring in African Union’s troops from African countries. But this could be a double-edged sword, given the uncertainty and volatility within in Mali itself. Many of the foreign troops coming could actually stage their own coups and take over the country. So this is a very dicey situation. It also represents a potential long-term Afghanistan-like effect for France itself, and inadvertently it could suck the United States back yet into another war.

RT: So these groups are actually homegrown in Mali? Or has there has been an element of importation of Islamism coming from other countries?

MM: Both internal and external. They have foreign fighters who have been part of AQIM for some time and as I said earlier this is a part of the grand Al-Qaeda central strategy out of Pakistan these days. I think it’s laying a foundation to lay more attacks into Europe, ultimately. The EU is very concerned about it, I may add.

RT: What’s happening in Mali is provoking possible attacks from elsewhere. The French seem to want to stamp out Islamism and stop Islamists from taking not just the north of Mali, but also the rest of the country. Just bombing them and using a military exercise against them – does that really get rid of the ideology and the actual threat?

MM: No I don’t think so, because after doing something similar for 10 years in Afghanistan we’re ready to pull out and Taliban is ready to move back in. There’s just a question of how effective this approach is going to be. I think that is something the French have to weigh for themselves. This could bring other countries back into a long-drawn conflict. Already Germany is beginning to show some resistance to this and is concerned about the amount of help that they give simply because they see protracted effort such as the experience in Afghanistan.

RT: That is exactly what the rebels are saying. That France is falling into a trap and could be experiencing another Iraq, Afghanistan or another Libya. So you think they may be right here: France is taking on a challenge that it may not be able to cope with along with other countries?

MM: It is almost like a strategy on the part of the rebels to draw them in. I have to add that Russia has a lot to be concerned because it has investments in this region to protect. They of course agreed to the UN Security council resolution to provide assistance to the French. It’s a dicey situation and larger than Mali, per se. It could affect the entire North Africa and enter Europe. I think it is a concern from geostrategic and political standpoint.

RT: So this conflict is going a lot longer, France is ambitious and positive this is going to be over very quickly. What about François Hollande? We start seeing troops with their first combat battles on the ground, 2,500 troops could be engaged on the ground there. If casualties start coming back and retaliate on French soil, what does that do for Hollande in the political situation there?

MM: I think it puts him ill-at-ease politically. Even though he put a strong stand that he’s going to fight them, to resist them, he has been just a recently elected president so he has ways to go. So, he will quickly see if Malian rebels would be able to do something in France, that could make citizens very concerned or they may just say ‘get out’ altogetherto avoid the conflict. He is in a very precarious situation now.

US gives Afghanistan fleet of drones

A US army soldier with the 101st Airborne Division Alpha Battery 1-320th tries to launch a drone outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the village of Jellawar in The Arghandab Valley (AFP Photo / Patrick Baz)

A US army soldier with the 101st Airborne Division Alpha Battery 1-320th tries to launch a drone outside Combat Outpost Nolen in the village of Jellawar in The Arghandab Valley (AFP Photo / Patrick Baz)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his recent meeting with US President Obama gave him nearly everything his country hoped for – including a fleet of aerial surveillance drones that Afghan officials have long been requesting.

Karzai held a news conference on Monday in which he proudly announced the promised fleet of drones, as well as an upgraded fleet of aircraft including 20 helicopters and at least four C-130 transport planes. The Afghan president noted that the surveillance drones would be unarmed, but will nevertheless help spy on enemy combatants and watch over coalition forces. Western forces will train Afghans to fly, use and maintain them before giving complete control to the Karzai government.

The US will also provide Afghanistan with intelligence gathering equipment “which will be used to defend and protect our air and ground sovereignty,” Karzai said. The US has also pledged to speed up the handover of detainees currently imprisoned and held by American forces. Karzai has previously called this a violation of promised Afghan sovereignty and the issue has built up tension between the two nations.

“We are happy and satisfied with the results of our meetings,” the Afghan president told journalists at the presidential palace. “We achieved what we were looking for.”

American officials refused to confirm or deny the details of the agreement made between Afghanistan and the US regarding aircraft, the New York Times reports. But since his meeting with Obama, Karzai had repeatedly expressed his satisfaction with the outcome.

The US has long demanded that Afghanistan grant immunity to any US forces staying in the country after the 2014 withdrawal. Karzai has sternly opposed this measure, but conceded after Obama granted him many of his own wishes.

“This is a decision that should be made by the Afghan people in a Loya Jirga: whether they are granting immunity to them or not; if yes, how and under what conditions” he said in an interview with CNN.

But this might not even matter if Afghans have their way when it comes to post-withdrawal troops. Top Afghan officials have expressed their desire for Special Operations forces to leave the country at the same time as US military troops. These forces currently train the Afghan local police and US officials have assumed that the withdrawal would only apply to traditional military troops, the Washington Post reports.

The Washington meetings between Karzai and Obama have resulted in numerous benefits for the Afghans and Karzai’s news conference was the first mention of American drones being handed over to the Afghan government. Negotiations between the US and Afghanistan are still ongoing, with the two countries trying to determine details regarding the US presence in Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal.

Afghanistan’s Forgotten Refugees

In 2008, Seyed Hasan, a father of 6, fled his home in the Wardak province of eastern Afghanistan. Hasan and his family were targeted by the Taliban for resisting their demands. It had been seven years since the United States had intervened to oust the group, but the Taliban was still acting with impunity in broad swaths of the country.

Hasan’s family applied for refugee status in Turkey, but their initial claim was rejected, leading them to seek assistance from the Istanbul-based Helsinki Citizens Assembly Refugee Advocacy and Support Program (HCA-RASP), an NGO for which I work. Over four years later, the family was finally granted refugee status. But their situation did not improve. Employers continued to exploit Hasan when he was lucky enough to find work, multiple family members were in need of medical assistance, and the children young enough to enroll in school lacked the resources to do well. 

Years of living life at an impasse led Hasan to recently ask me, his legal adviser, “Why do they treat us Afghans this way?” 

Turkey is not the worst place in the world to be a refugee, but nor is it the best. When signing the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol, Turkey applied a “geographical limitation,” or reservation whereby only individuals fleeing European countries would be recognized and afforded full rights as refugees. As a result, non-European asylum-seekers are granted access to “temporary asylum” while they await a determination of their status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Once recognized as refugees, they are allowed residence in Turkey while the UNHCR attempts to have them resettled to third countries. Permanent legal residence, or local integration, is not an option. 

Hasan’s question arose from having watched many newly arrived Iranian and Iraqi refugees pass through the asylum system with relative ease, spending sometimes as little as one year in Turkey before having an opportunity for a fresh start in the West. Meanwhile, Afghans did not seem to be going anywhere. Young Afghan men lost prime years of their lives practically begging for access to education while others established informal refugee camps in public parks. Many took notice of the government’s generous provision of camps and other services for Syrian refugees. Conditions lead Hasan’s eldest son to attempt an illegal crossing to Greece, only to end up back with his family after being detained, returned, and fined. 

The New York Times and New American Media each recently featured compelling pieces highlighting the predicament facing thousands of Iraqis who have sacrificed their own personal safety cooperating with American service members and contractors, but face enduring obstacles in their ability to gain protection in the United States. Is the very same thing happening as the United States plans its withdrawal from Afghanistan?

The Refugee Admissions Program, administered by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), is the mechanism that allows for recognized refugees in other parts of the world to start new lives in the United States. As the world's top receiver of refugees by far, the United States has set a ceiling for overall refugee admission at 80,000 for each of the last several years. In reality, only about 58,000 are actually admitted annually. The fact that over 20,000 spots have gone unfilled each year is indeed a problem, but not the only one. 

Only 428—or 0.8 percent of the total refugees admitted to the United States in 2011—were from Afghanistan. The U.S. government had allocated 35,500 of the yearly available spots for refugees from the Near East and South Asia, including Iraq, Bhutan, and Afghanistan. Almost 20 percent of the overall 2011 admissions, or 9,388 persons, were Iraqi. The recent articles advocate for an increase in this number and an ease in access to the system, but even a cursory look at the statistics should elicit a double-take at the tiny number of Afghans admitted. 

Hasan and other Afghans in Turkey represent only a small fraction of the over 2.6 million Afghan refugees worldwide, most of whom live in neighboring Pakistan and Iran. As new sanctions cripple Iran's economy, Afghans are crossing the border into Turkey in increasing numbers and are expected to surpass Iranians to form the second-largest group of refugees in Turkey next year. 

Certainly responsibility for these refugees must be shared by various actors, not just the United States. Only 26 countries currently have resettlement programs, and those that do should increase their quotas. Turkey itself must open up local integration as a durable solution. But for now, Hasan must await an answer from the nation that put boots on the ground in his country in 2001.    

What response can our NGO give to Hasan? Is there anything more to it than the apparent brutal truth: among the already unwanted, you are the least favored? The standard explanation by UNHCR-Turkey that refugees from countries sharing a border with Turkey get priority due to security considerations has lost credibility, particularly since three times as many Somalis have left Turkey in the last seven years than Afghans. Although they may not know the specific name of the American law (the Lautenberg Amendment), Afghans know from experience that Iranian religious minorities are given priority in the resettlement system.

The recent attention to Iraqi refugees and their resettlement plight provides an opportunity to take stock of the broader inequities and inefficiencies of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program. If our generous resettlement program is in fact an indication of our commitment to international law and humanitarianism, then we should establish a system that is transparent and does not favor specific religious groups while others wait endlessly. 

Resettlement quotas should reflect the size of each refugee group in first-countries of asylum like Turkey—and barring major vulnerability, referrals should be made according to the date of refugee recognition, so that new arrivals do not jump ahead of others. Simplifying the system will also lead to more resettlement for Afghans. In doing so, we will gain back the confidence and trust of many, like Hasan, who have lost their home and their future, at least in part to American geopolitical adventures.

© 2012 Foreign Policy In Focus

Zaid Hydari is an American attorney and currently the co-coordinator of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly Refugee Advocacy and Support Program’s (HCA-RASP) Refugee Status Determination Legal Assistance Unit in Istanbul. He is also the founder and chair of the board of directors of the Refugee Solidarity Network, a start-up American non-profit organization that aims to bring together American and Turkish refugee rights advocates.

A Voice from Afghanistan: ‘US Drones Bury Beautiful Lives’

The interview that follows was conducted by Kathy Kelly and Maya Evans, members of the US- and UK-based chapters of Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCVN).

Raz Mohammad, an Afghan Peace Volunteer, is a Pashtun from Maidan Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan.

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Voices for Creative Nonviolence: Raz Mohmmad, what do you think about drones?

Raz Mohammad : I think drones are not good. I remember how, in my village, a drone attack killed my brother-in-law and four of his friends. It was truly sad. A beautiful life was buried and the sound of crying and sorrow arose from peaceful homes. I say that this is inhumane. Today, the idea of humanity has been forgotten. Why do we spend money like this? Why don’t we use an alternative way? The international community says that drones are used to kill the Taliban. This is not true. We should see the truth. Today, it’s hard to find the truth and no one listens to the people.

VCVN: How have drones impacted Wardak Afghanistan?

RM: Drones have a negative impact on the lives of the people of Wardak and other provinces in Afghanistan, because drones don’t bring peace. They kill human beings. Drones bring nothing but bombs. They burn the lives of the people. People can’t move around freely. In the nights, people are afraid. Drones don’t improve people’s lives, they limit the people’s lives. The people are not happy with drones. When they hear the sound of drones, they feel sad. Those who live in Kabul and those who live in the provinces especially in Pashtun areas feel differently about drones.  Those in Kabul don’t feel the pain of those in the provinces where there’s war and family members are being killed. It is those families of victims who should be asked and whose voices should be heard. 

VCVN: Are drones making Afghanistan safer?

RM: No. Drones don’t protect the people of Afghanistan. Instead, drones kill the people of Afghanistan. You hear in the news and reports that every day, families, children and women are killed. Do you call this safety?

VCVN: Is there a mental impact on Afghans from the presence of drones?

RM: Yes, drones have a negative impact on the mind. For me, when I go home, I recall the incident with my brother-in-law which affected me a lot and changed my life. I don’t have a peaceful mind. When I’m home and study at night, my father & mother are very worried and tell me not to stay up too late because they may make a mistake and bomb the house. When my younger brother knows of a drone incident, he says he won’t go to school or get out of bed early today because the drones may come. See, how it affects the mind of a 5 or 8 year old child.

VCVN: What do you think about the use of drones after the 2014 withdrawal?

RM: I think that the use of drones today or in 2014 is inappropriate. Why has the international community sent drones to wage war in Afghanistan? Why have we forgotten the concepts of humanity and the love of humanity? War is not a solution. We can see this from the past 30 years of war in Afghanistan. Wars bring killing and enmity. Drones after 2014 will cause enmity between Pashtuns, Tajiks and Hazaras because those in government use the people for their own benefit. For their own power and lives, they drop bombs on the people, and bring division and inhumanity. As I see it now and after 2014, innocent human beings will be killed.

VCVN: Do you have any other message to give?

RM: My message to the ordinary people of the world is to listen, and become aware of drone warfare because what international governments say about using drones to kill terrorists is not true. Friends who come here can see that innocent people and women are killed. We should listen to the voices of Afghans and promote and defend humanity and humane relations. My message to the governments of the world is : Why have you forgotten humanity and the love of humanity? You are killing human beings for your own monetary benefit. I demand that this ( drone warfare ) be stopped, especially the spending of so much money on drones in Afghanistan and the killing of so many innocent people. Isn't it appropriate for you to help the people in alternative ways? We are human beings and are always your friends, thank you.

Permanent Afghanistan Occupation Planned

 America came to stay. Accelerated withdrawal claims reflect subterfuge. Washington officials and media scoundrels don’t explain. Msinformation and illusion substitute for reality.

Reuters headlined “Obama, Karzai accelerate end of US combat role in Afghanistan.”

“Obama’s determin(ed) to wind down a long, unpopular war.”

The New York Times headlined ‘Obama Accelerates Transition of Security to Afghans.”

Obama is “eager to turn a page after more than a decade of war.”

“(B)eginning this spring American forces (will) play only a supporting role in Afghanistan.”

The Washington Post headlined “Obama announces reduced US role in Afghanistan starting this spring.”

Plans are “for a small troop presence in the country after the American mission formally ends there in 2014.”

On January 11, Obama and Karzai’s joint press conference was more surreal than honest. Duplicitous doublespeak substituted for truth.

“(T)ransition is well underway,” said Obama. Plans are for Afghan forces to replace Americans. By yearend 2014, they’ll “have full responsibility for their security, and this war will come to a responsible end.”

At the same time, US forces will “continue to fight alongside (Afghans) when necessary.” Obama didn’t say what troop strength will remain.

Drone wars continue daily. US Special Forces and CIA elements came to stay. Search and destroy missions are prioritized.

By spring 2013, “our troops will have a different mission – training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty.”

“Afghanistan (has) a long-term partner in the United States of America.”

It’s Washington’s longest war. Iraq and Afghanistan are its most costly ones.

Iraq boils out of sight and mind. Afghanistan rages. Experts agree. The war was lost years ago. It continues. Why US officials don’t explain.

A previous article discussed Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis. He assessed conditions accurately. His 84-page unclassified report called them disastrous.

“How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding,” he asked? His report’s opening comments said:

“Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable.”

“This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan.”

His classified report was more explicit.

“If the public had access to these classified reports,” he explained, “they would see the dramatic gulf between what is often said in public by our senior leaders and what is actually true behind the scenes.”

“It would be illegal for me to discuss, use, or cite classified material in an open venue, and thus I will not do so.”

He traveled thousands of miles throughout the country. He spoke to US commanders, subordinates, and low-ranking soldiers. He talked at length with Afghan security officials, civilians and village elders.

What he learned bore no resemblance to rosy scenario official accounts. Insurgent forces control “virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a US or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.”

Everywhere he visited, “the tactical situation was bad to abysmal.”

Afghanistan’s government can’t “provide for the basic needs of the people.” At times, local security forces collude with insurgents.

Davis hoped to learn something positive. He “witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.” One senior enlisted leader spoke for others. He hoped to get out alive in one piece.

Why war continues remains for Obama to explain. He dissembles instead.

Afghanistan is strategically important. It straddles the Middle East, South and Central Asia. It’s in the heart of Eurasia.

Occupation projects America’s military might. It targets Russia, China, Iran, and other oil-rich Middle East States. It furthers Washington’s imperium. It prioritizes unchallenged global dominance.

China and Russia matter most. Allied they rival US superpower strength. Beijing is economically robust. Russia’s nuclear capability and military pose the only threat to America’s formidable might.

Russia is also resource rich. Its oil reserves are vast. Its natural gas supply is the world’s largest. Expect neither country to roll over for Washington. They’re a vital last line of defense.

More on Washington’s plans below. A previous article discussed Afghanistan’s troubled history.

In his book titled, “Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire,” John Pilger addressed it, saying:

“Through all the humanitarian crises in living memory, no country has been abused and suffered more, and none has been helped less than Afghanistan.”

 For centuries, Afghans endured what few can imagine. Marauding armies besieged cities, slaughtered thousands, and caused vast destruction.

Great Game 19th century struggles followed. Wars, devastation, and deplorable human misery reflect daily life for millions. America bears full responsibility now.

Wherever US forces show up, mass killings, destruction and incalculable human misery follow. After over 11 years of war and occupation, Afghans perhaps suffer most of all.

Living conditions are deplorable. Millions remain displaced. Makeshift dwellings substitute for real ones. Little protection from harsh Afghan weather is afforded. People freeze to death in winter.

Dozens of children die daily. Millions have little or no access to clean water. Life expectancy is one of the world’s lowest. Infant mortality is one of the highest. So is pre-age five mortality. Electricity is scarce.

Extreme poverty, unemployment, human misery, and constant fear reflect daily life. Afghans worry about surviving. Many don’t get enough food. Forced evictions affect them. They lack healthcare, education, and other vital services.

Occupation related violence harms innocent men, women, children and infants. Civilians always suffer most. Washington prioritizes conquest, colonization, plunder and dominance. War without end rages. Human needs go begging.

Displaced Afghans lack virtually everything necessary to survive. Included are proper housing, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, education, employment, enough income, and sufficient food to avoid starvation.

America and Afghanistan’s puppet government don’t help. Karzai is a pathetic stooge. He’s a caricature of a leader. He wasn’t elected. He was installed. He’s a former CIA asset/UNOCAL Oil consultant.

He’s little more than Kabul’s mayor. He’s despised. He wouldn’t last five minutes unprotected anywhere.

Afghanistan is the world’s leading opium producer. During the 1990s, Taliban officials largely eradicated it. Washington reintroduced it.

Crime bosses and CIA profit hugely. So do major banks. Money laundering is a major profit center. An estimated $1.5 trillion is laundered annually. Around $500 billion reflects elicit drug money.

Obama lied about ending combat operations by 2014. America came to stay. Permanent occupation is planned. Washington’s empire of bases reflect it.

During WW II, Brits complained that Americans were “overpaid, overfed, oversexed, and over here.” They virtually everywhere now. Planet earth is Washington occupied territory. Bases vary in size.

They include large main operating bases to medium and smaller-sized ones. Covert ones supplement them. US Special Forces operate in over 120 countries. CIA elements are everywhere.

National sovereignty rights are violated. America’s malevolent agenda is hostile. Public land is expropriated.

Toxic pollution, environmental damage, intolerable noise, violence, occupation related criminality, and unaccountability reflect Washington’s presence.

It’s hugely destructive. Afghanistan’s dystopian hell reflects it. Status of forces (SOFA) agreements establish a framework under which US forces operate abroad.

They provide an illusion of legitimacy. Nations are pressured and bullied to accept what harms their national interest.

In his book, “The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic,” Chalmers Johnson explained SOFAs as follows:

“America’s foreign military enclaves, though structurally, legally, and conceptually different from colonies, are themselves something like microcolonies in that they are completely beyond the jurisdiction of the occupied nation.”

“The US virtually always negotiates a ‘status of forces agreement’ (SOFA) with the ostensibly independent ‘host’ nation.”

They’re a modern day version of 19th century China’s extraterritoriality agreements. They granted foreigners charged with crimes the right to be tried by his (or her) own government under his (or her) own national law.

SOFAs prevent local courts from exercising legal jurisdiction over American personnel. Murder and rape go unpunished unless US officials yield to local authorities. Offenders are usually whisked out of countries before they ask.

America’s total number of SOFAs is unknown. Most are secret. Some are too embarrassing to reveal. America has hundreds of known, shared, and secret bases in over 150 countries.

Johnson said they “usurp, distort, or subvert whatever institutions of democratic (or other form of) government may exist with the host society.”

Their presence is troubling. Locals lose control of their lives. They have no say. There’s virtually no chance for redress. Permanent occupations harm most.

America built city-sized Iraq and Afghanistan super bases. They weren’t established to be abandoned. Washington came to stay. Both countries are US occupied territory.

Tens of thousands of private military contractors supplement military forces. Their skills range from technical to hired guns.

Obama suppressed Washington’s agenda. Permanent occupation is planned. America came to stay. Abandoning what’s strategically important won’t happen. How much longer Americans will tolerate war without end, they’ll have to explain.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

 Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/permanent-afghanistan-occupation-planned-2/

White House weighing full withdrawal from Afghanistan next year

U.S. soldiers prepare to board a C-130 plane in Afghanistan. (Reuters)

U.S. soldiers prepare to board a C-130 plane in Afghanistan. (Reuters)

White House officials said Tuesday that they were considering a full pull-out from Afghanistan once the NATO combat mission there finishes next year. It comes ahead of a Friday meeting between the two countries' presidents.

­It was the first time Washington had publicly said it was weighing a zero-troop presence in Afghanistan any time in the near future, and goes against statements by Pentagon officials, who advocate leaving a thousands-strong American force in the country to train local army and law enforcement and keep Al-Qaeda under control.

At different points in time, the Obama administration has made various estimates regarding what it might do following the end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. One option was to leave a residual troop presence as small as 3,000, with another option leaving as many as 15,000 depending on various factors and military goals.

“The US does not have an inherent objective of ‘X’ number of troops in Afghanistan,” said deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.

There are currently 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan, down from the all-time high of roughly 100,000 in 2010.

In response to a journalist's question over whether zero troops would be an option, Rhodes said it was something the Obama administration "would consider."

The statement comes three days before Afghan President Hamid Karzai is set to visit the White House to meet with US President Barack Obama. The leaders are expected to discuss their partnership following troop withdrawals in 2014, but they are known to disagree over several other issues likely to come to the table. One is the American demand that US troops remaining in Afghanistan after combat comes to a close would be immune to prosecution there. With Karzai resisting this demand, the White House has been trying to trade troop immunity for a stabilizing post-2014 US presence.

White House military advisor Doug Lute told reporters Tuesday that Kabul would have no choice but to allow US forces certain "authorities" if it wanted them to stay and help law enforcement. The comment was taken to be referring to the immunity issue.

“As we know from our Iraq experience, if there are no authorities granted by the sovereign state, then there’s not room for a follow-on US military mission,” he continued, referring to Iraq's 2011 refusal to grant US troops immunity from the law that resulted in a full American pull-out from that country.

White House weighing full withdrawal from Afghanistan next year

U.S. soldiers prepare to board a C-130 plane in Afghanistan. (Reuters)

U.S. soldiers prepare to board a C-130 plane in Afghanistan. (Reuters)

White House officials said Tuesday that they were considering a full pull-out from Afghanistan once the NATO combat mission there finishes next year. It comes ahead of a Friday meeting between the two countries' presidents.

­It was the first time Washington had publicly said it was weighing a zero-troop presence in Afghanistan any time in the near future, and goes against statements by Pentagon officials, who advocate leaving a thousands-strong American force in the country to train local army and law enforcement and keep Al-Qaeda under control.

At different points in time, the Obama administration has made various estimates regarding what it might do following the end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. One option was to leave a residual troop presence as small as 3,000, with another option leaving as many as 15,000 depending on various factors and military goals.

“The US does not have an inherent objective of ‘X’ number of troops in Afghanistan,” said deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes.

There are currently 66,000 US troops in Afghanistan, down from the all-time high of roughly 100,000 in 2010.

In response to a journalist's question over whether zero troops would be an option, Rhodes said it was something the Obama administration "would consider."

The statement comes three days before Afghan President Hamid Karzai is set to visit the White House to meet with US President Barack Obama. The leaders are expected to discuss their partnership following troop withdrawals in 2014, but they are known to disagree over several other issues likely to come to the table. One is the American demand that US troops remaining in Afghanistan after combat comes to a close would be immune to prosecution there. With Karzai resisting this demand, the White House has been trying to trade troop immunity for a stabilizing post-2014 US presence.

White House military advisor Doug Lute told reporters Tuesday that Kabul would have no choice but to allow US forces certain "authorities" if it wanted them to stay and help law enforcement. The comment was taken to be referring to the immunity issue.

“As we know from our Iraq experience, if there are no authorities granted by the sovereign state, then there’s not room for a follow-on US military mission,” he continued, referring to Iraq's 2011 refusal to grant US troops immunity from the law that resulted in a full American pull-out from that country.

U.S. doesn’t rule out complete pullout from Afghanistan after 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration does not rule out a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after 2014, the White House said on Tuesday, just days before President Barack Obama is due to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai. ...

‘US military base attacked in Afghanistan’

A military base, used by American forces in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar, has come under rocket attack, Press TV reports. Unknown attackers on Tuesday fired eight to 10 rockets on the airport in Kandahar from multiple directions.There h...

Soldier shot dead in Afghanistan

A British soldier has been killed by a suspected member of the Afghan National Army (ANA) in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence said. The suspected ANA member used small arms fire first on his colleagues, before turning his weapon on the Internation...

Drones: From Afghanistan to Your Own Backyard

Adrienne Erin | The Pentagon just loves its drones, unmanned planes ranging in size from passenger planes to ̶ if rumors are correct ̶ tiny...