Afghan war bloodier and bloodier

This video from London is called Caroline Lucas M.P. 1(of2) – Afghanistan Time to Go! – Stop the War Coalition, Houses of Parliament.

Part 2 is here.

Violence has reached record levels in Afghanistan, and the resistance to the US-led occupation is more widespread than ever, according to a report issued by the Pentagon: here.

Australia: The Defence Force says a third soldier has been formally charged in relation to civilian deaths in Afghanistan: here.

Report: Gen. McChrystal approved talks with fake Taliban leader: here.

Afghan Children Face Everyday Deprivations: The Guardian: here.

Karzai governement accused of vote interference: AFP: here.

International Crisis Group says NATO’s war in Afghanistan is failing: here.

The War in Afghanistan is About Perpetual War, Not Afghanistan: here.

Video Shows Apparent Afghan [Election] Bribe: Wall Street Journal: here.

Afghan gold mine raises spectre of “resource curse”. “The people are angry at the government, at the company and we have decided that no excavation will take place until our demands are met”: here.

You might be interested in what Malalai Joya has to say about immediately ending the Afghanistan war: here.

New Afghan war plans could cost US taxpayers an extra $125 billion: here.

7 thoughts on “Afghan war bloodier and bloodier

  1. British intelligence ‘promoted Taliban impostor’

    1 hour, 40 minutes ago

    LONDON (AFP) – British intelligence agents were responsible for promoting an impostor who they believed was a senior Taliban commander key to the Afghan peace process, according to reports on Friday.

    Agents paid the man several hundred thousand dollars, convinced he was a top militant with the authority to negotiate with US and Afghan officials on behalf of the insurgents, The Times and the Washington Post reported, citing Afghan officials.

    It is now believed that the man whom they believed to be senior Taliban figure Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour was in fact either a minor rebel or simply a conman who ran a shop in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

    In an interview with the Post, Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s chief of staff Mohammad Umer Daudzai said the British brought the man purporting to Mullah Mansour to meet Karzai in July or August.

    But an Afghan at the meeting knew “this is not the man,” the Post quoted him as saying.

    “This shows that this process should be Afghan-led and fully Afghanized,” Daudzai said.

    “The last lesson we draw from this: International partners should not get excited so quickly with those kind of things… Afghans know this business, how to handle it.”

    The Times said Britain’s foreign intelligence agency MI6 flew the man to Kabul on numerous occasions believing he was Mansour, an ex-Taliban government minister and, in some accounts, second to Mullah Omar in its leadership.

    A senior Afghan government official told the Times: “British intelligence was naive and there was wishful thinking on our part.”

    Afghan officials told The Times that a meeting took place with Karzai in his Kabul palace, although Karzai denied on Tuesday that the meeting had never occurred.

    It was believed that the US had helped Britain check the man’s bona fides using signal intelligence, The Times reported.

    The former US representative in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, Bill Harris, told The Times that the embarrassing mistake was not Britain’s alone, saying “something this stupid generally requires teamwork.”

    The US Central Intelligence Agency was reportedly sceptical of British claims. In June, CIA director Leon Panetta said that no serious approaches had been made.

    US officials were sceptical about the man claiming to be Mansour because “this visitor was a few inches shorter than their intelligence indicated Mansour is, and he didn’t come with the people he said he would bring,” Panetta said.

    After the story broke Tuesday in the New York Times, General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, told a press briefing in Germany he was not surprised.

    “There was scepticism about one of these all along and it may well be that scepticism was well-founded,” he said Tuesday.

    Petraeus, however, had in October been the first US official to openly say that NATO forces had “facilitated” the passage of what he said were senior Taliban leaders to Kabul.

    Doubts began to arise last month when an Afghan official, who had met the real Mullah Mansour, claimed it was not the same man, the New York Times reported. The man who had been posing as Mullah Mansour then disappeared.

    “It should have been the Afghans themselves who should have pointed out the almighty cock-up,” a source told The Times. “Sometimes NATO doesn’t know one bearded, turbaned Taliban leader from another.”


  2. Posted on Fri, Nov. 26, 2010

    Afghan arrests may signal move to alter election results

    By Deb Riechmann

    Associated Press

    KABUL, Afghanistan – The Afghan Attorney General’s Office on Thursday announced four arrests in its investigation of fraud during the controversial September parliamentary election – a move some Western officials fear is part of efforts by the political elite to overturn the results of certain races.

    The arrests are the latest development in the Sept. 18 ballot that was plagued by irregularities and voter intimidation. Election officials discarded 1.3 million ballots – nearly a quarter of the total – for fraud and disqualified 19 winning candidates for cheating.

    Deputy Attorney General Rahmatullah Nazari told reporters that two employees of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission and two people working in the money-transfer business had been arrested and that an arrest warrant had been issued for a third commission employee.

    The election flap, heating up just ahead of President Obama’s December Afghan review, comes at a time when NATO and its allies need President Hamid Karzai’s government to be seen as a strong partner in the war.

    The international community views the election as a test of his commitment to reforming his corruption-ridden government since he was reelected last year in a vote that was itself tainted by fraud.

    Election officials announced final vote totals Wednesday for 33 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. About 2,500 candidates ran for 249 seats in the lower house of the Afghan Legislature, leaving hundreds of losers. Many have staged demonstrations across the country, claiming they were victims of phony vote tallies.

    Releasing the final results now has irked Attorney General Mohammad Ishaq Alako, who claimed election officials should have waited until prosecutors finished investigating criminal allegations of ballot manipulation. Alako said earlier this week that money from well-connected Afghans, many of whom bank their riches in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, heavily influenced the election results.

    Once the investigation is completed – hopefully within a month – the results will be handed to the Supreme Court, Nazari said. A Western diplomatic official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the delicate political issue, said the Supreme Court had the authority to issue rulings that could change the outcome of certain races.

    The prospect of the Supreme Court hearing election cases has raised speculation among Western diplomats who allege that Karzai or his advisers are behind the attorney general’s investigation and would pressure the Supreme Court to rule in favor of candidates backed by the palace.

    Other Western officials maintain that while the Afghan prosecutor was being pressured by hundreds of people unhappy with the election results, they had seen no evidence that Karzai was employing this strategy.

    The deputy attorney general denied that Karzai was behind the election investigation. He said the Attorney General’s Office operated independently and was obligated to investigate election-related crime.


  3. The West should get out of Afghanistan

    National Post · Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010

    Let’s put the conflict in Afghanistan into current perspective: 1,400 dead Americans, 150 Canadians, 345 British, and many hundreds more Western troops maimed — and for what? An ill-conceived and ultimately futile attempt to prop up a corrupt narco-syndicate in thrall to a shariah-based constitution in a Third World backwater.

    Mr. Gardner is quite correct– continued Canadian engagement with Afghanistan, in any form, is simply pointless and endless.

    Bruce McMinn, Cressy, Ont. [Canada]


  4. Coalition ramps up air war over Afghanistan

    Associated Press

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – Once sharply curtailed because of complaints over civilian casualties, U.S. and NATO forces have ramped up the air war in Afghanistan since this summer.

    Coalition aircraft dropped 1,000 bombs and missiles in October – one of the highest monthly totals of the 9-year-old war. Despite large increases in sorties and weapons fired, the number of civilians killed in air operations is slightly down this year – NATO officials say – because of coalition restrictions on engaging insurgents.

    Top NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus’ counterinsurgency strategy calls for securing population centers and bolstering governance and economic development, but at the same time he’s unleashed heavy force on the battlefield. The international force is trying to kill and capture insurgent leaders to pressure the Taliban to give up the fight and reconcile with the Afghan government.

    The air war in Afghanistan, which began on Oct. 7, 2001 when President George W. Bush ordered strikes on Taliban targets, has accelerated every month since July as 30,000 U.S. troops have streamed into the country and coalition forces have penetrated deeply into Taliban strongholds.

    “We’re seeing about a 20 percent increase in sorties over last year,” Col. James Sturgeon, chief of the air operations control center in Kabul, said in an interview. “In the last couple weeks, it’s dropping off a little bit as we get into the winter months” when military operations traditionally decline.

    So far this year, coalition aircraft have used 4,615 bombs and Hellfire missiles, already exceeding the 4,184 dropped in all of last year.

    The escalation of the war comes as Afghan President Hamid Karzai is publicly calling for a smaller military footprint. Karzai says he wants international troops to be less disruptive of daily Afghan life.

    “I’m not a pro-gun person,” Karzai said in a recent interview with The Washington Post. “I don’t like guns or airplanes so I can never talk in favorable terms about planes that are shooting people or bombing people.”

    Karzai has repeatedly called on NATO to do more to protect civilians during stepped-up military operations. In response, former NATO commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal severely limited the circumstances in which troops could call in an airstrike or fire into buildings where civilians might be inside.

    The revised rules, which are classified, never prevented U.S. troops from calling in air support, but some officers were exerting excessive caution, fearing career damage if civilians were mistakenly killed. Analysts said the rules were being interpreted and implemented unevenly across the country.

    When Petraeus arrived in July, he reiterated the tactical directive, but emphasized that officers in the field should not add restrictions to his rules.

    “We have seen a little bit of loosening of the reins, but in terms of making sure there are no civilians in an area where we want to strike offensively, it’s a very disciplined process,” Sturgeon said.

    Fifty-nine civilians were killed during sorties flown by airplanes and helicopters between Jan. 1 and Nov. 18 this year. That’s about 5 percent lower than the 62 killed during the same period last year, according to figures provided by the coalition.

    “Civilian deaths are slightly down this year despite an enormous increase in the number of weapons dropped and sorties run,” said Lt. Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition. “The increase in air operations are often in support of troops on the ground who are pushing into historic insurgent safe havens – dangerous operations, very tough fighting that is intended to push them aside and protect the civilian population.”

    This fall, coalition aircraft destroyed housing compounds that insurgents had turned into bomb factories in Arghandab, Zhari and Panjwai districts surrounding the southern city of Kandahar.

    “Many times those compounds will be bobby trapped with IEDs,” Sturgeon said. “If we can seize them we will, but if they are laced with IEDs, then usually we’ll just go ahead and blow the whole compound rather than expose our troops to those kinds of dangers.”

    Since the beginning of the war, U.S.-led forces have made extensive use of airpower because of a shortage of troops, Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain and the sheer size of the country.

    However, airstrikes were widely blamed for the rise in civilian casualties as the tempo of the war accelerated in 2005 and 2006, prompting Karzai as well as international human rights groups to call on the coalition to cut back on the use of airpower.

    A September 2009 airstrike on two fuel tankers seized by the Taliban killed up to 142 people, many of them civilians, and led to the resignation of the top commander of the German army and a deputy defense minister.

    Nevertheless, use of airpower provides a major tactical advantage to coalition forces, especially in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan where insurgents frequently attack isolated combat outposts which are difficult to resupply and defend.

    The largest number of sorties in October were flown in the east, where the coalition is targeting militant leaders, including those with the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction affiliated with al-Qaida.

    Mohammad Rahman Danish, a former district chief in eastern Afghanistan, said he’s noticed a recent increase in air operations in parts of Kunar province. He said the bombings take place both day and night, targeting individual insurgents or militants on the move.

    “Unfortunately there has been an increase in Pech Valley and other parts of Kunar as well,” Danish said. “The people in the area are very angry at both sides. The Taliban are coming and influencing the residents and the Americans are conducting operations. The local people are suffering. Houses are destroyed. The land is destroyed in the operations. This is the reality.”

    Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.


  5. Fort Carson soldier accused of killing Taliban leader

    DAN ELLIOTT Associated Press

    12:06 p.m. CST, November 30, 2010

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A fellow solider of an Army private accused of shooting and killing a Taliban leader said Tuesday he feared the private would kill the prisoner and maybe even himself.

    The testimony came during a court hearing at Fort Carson to determine whether there is enough evidence to try Pfc. David Lawrence in the Oct. 17 slaying.

    Lawrence’s lawyer says the Indiana native is taking medication for schizophrenia and isn’t mentally fit to stand trial.

    On Tuesday, Lawrence appeared to repeatedly nod off during the hearing. At one point, he stood up and started to walk away before an officer pulled him back.

    One of the soldiers from Lawrence’s platoon, Pfc. Dimitri Andre Jenkins, testified by speaker phone from Afghanistan about Jenkins’ unsettling behavior before the prisoner was shot.

    Jenkins, a medic, said Lawrence acted strangely, saying sometimes he was upset about a friend who had died back home and sometimes he laughed and joked with other soldiers.

    Jenkins testified that he reported his concerns about Lawrence to superiors. Jenkins said he feared the prisoner would be killed when “for the most part, he said he was going to do something that had to be done.”

    Jenkins also said that before the prisoner was shot, “I felt like it was going to be some kind of murder-suicide deal.”

    Sgt. Jaroslab Diaz, who had served as Lawrence’s platoon leader at one time, also testified that two other soldiers told him that Lawrence had reported having homicidal and suicidal thoughts before the shooting. Also speaking by phone from Afghanistan, Diaz testified that Lawrence said he shot the leader.

    Lawrence was serving with the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division in Afghanistan.


  6. Pingback: US soldiers used Afghan civilians’ corpses as trophies | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  7. Pingback: Death penalty for Christians in Bush’s ‘new’ Afghanistan? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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