24 thoughts on “Canadian soldiers dying in Afghanistan for mining bosses

  1. Canadian mining firm among companies shortlisted for Afghan iron deposit

    January 20, 2011 – 04:30

    Steve Rennie, The Canadian Press

    KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – A Canadian mining company has made the shortlist to bid for Afghanistan’s giant Hajigak iron ore deposit.

    Toronto-based Kilo Goldmines Ltd. (TSX-V: KGL) is one of the companies the Afghan Mines Ministry invited this week to bid on what it claims is Asia’s largest unmined iron deposit.

    Fifteen of the shortlisted companies are from India, two are from Iran, and the rest are from the United States, Turkey, China, Britain and Australia.

    “We are very happy with the group of companies that have been shortlisted. They represent the high level of international interest in developing Afghanistan’s mineral wealth,” Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani said in a statement.

    Kilo Goldmines has gold and iron ore properties in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    The U.S. Geological Survey and the Pentagon estimate Afghanistan is sitting atop nearly $1 trillion in untapped deposits of iron, copper, cobalt and gold. Thick veins of industrial metals such as lithium, a key component in batteries for laptops and smart phones, also run through the country.

    The Afghan government estimates the Hajigak deposit, in the country’s mountainous Bamyan province, has some 1.8 billion tons of iron ore.

    The mines ministry has set an early-August deadline for bids, and exploration is expected to begin next year.

    “We look forward to a successful bid round and to the eventual development of Hajigak,” Shahrani said.

    “The development of Hajigak will involve major infrastructure improvements and will stimulate the local economy and improve the lives of the citizens of Bamyan province and beyond.”

    Most of the deposit is in Bamyan province, 130 km west of the capital, Kabul. The rest of the deposit spills over into neighbouring Parwan and Wardak provinces.

    Violence has flared recently in those areas as insurgents mount attacks away from their southern strongholds, including Kandahar province, where the bulk of Canada’s soldiers are deployed.

    Aside from the violent attacks that discourage foreign investment, Afghanistan’s mining industry can charitably be described as fledgling. The country lacks much of the basic infrastructure needed to tap its supposedly vast mineral resources.

    Another impediment is Afghanistan’s government. Corrupt officials routinely line their pockets with ill-gotten money.

    The mines ministry is no stranger to allegations of graft. In 2009, the mines minister of the day was accused of taking a $30 million bribe to award a multi-billion contract for a copper mine to a Chinese company. He denied the charges, but President Hamid Karzai sacked him anyway.

    Another Canadian company, Hunter Dickinson, had bid on the Afghan copper mine.


  2. Originally published Thursday, January 20, 2011 at 5:33 AM

    NATO: Italian soldier killed by Afghan counterpart

    An Italian soldier who was killed this week in western Afghanistan was shot by an Afghan soldier, not by insurgents as originally reported, NATO said Thursday.

    The Associated Press

    KABUL, Afghanistan —

    An Italian soldier who was killed this week in western Afghanistan was shot by an Afghan soldier, not by insurgents as originally reported, NATO said Thursday.

    Italy’s defense minister said at the time that one Italian soldier was shot to death and another wounded Tuesday in Bala Murghab district of Badghis province. NATO called the incident an “insurgent attack.”

    On Thursday, the coalition issued a new statement correcting the account, saying that the two soldiers were cleaning their weapons at a combat outpost when an Afghan soldier approached them with an M16 rifle and asked to use their equipment to clean his gun.

    The Italians saw that the Afghan soldier’s rifle was loaded and asked him to unload it, at which point the Afghan soldier shot the two Italians and escaped from the base, NATO said.

    Such turncoat shootings are uncommon among the Afghan forces fighting alongside coalition troops, but they have appeared to increase over the past year as both NATO and Afghan forces work more closely together. In some cases, such shootings have been a result of arguments that turned violent; in others, the Taliban has claimed that Afghan shooters were sleeper agents.

    Last week, a Marine shot and killed an Afghan policeman after a dispute at a patrol base in southern Helmand province. In November, An Afghan border police officer opened fire on NATO troops during a training mission in Nangarhar province, killing six NATO service members before he was shot dead.

    Meanwhile, insurgent attacks killed two NATO service members – one Thursday in the north and another Wednesday in the south, the alliance said. It did not identify their nationalities or give further details.

    It was not clear if the NATO death in the north was related to the fighting in Faryab.

    More than 20 NATO troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far this month – a bloody start to a year that NATO officials have said they expect to be particularly violent. NATO forces are pushing deeper into insurgent strongholds to try to undermine the strength of the Taliban enough to allow troops to start drawing down.


  3. Dear Friend,

    Would you like to star in an upcoming Rethink Afghanistan video?

    Next month will mark the one-year anniversary of the launch of President Obama’s escalated military campaign in Afghanistan. One year later, violence is still getting worse and costs are skyrocketing. After more than nine years, it’s time to end this war.

    Today, we’re launching “Because It’s Time” on Rethink Afghanistan to help Americans who oppose this war to make their voices heard. On this page, you can post your photo and a reason why it’s time to bring troops home.

    Starting next Wednesday, you’ll have the chance to vote on your favorite comments. Those who get the most votes will get to star in an upcoming Rethink Afghanistan video.

    Take a strong public stand against the war by posting your picture and comment now.


    Derrick Crowe, Robert Greenwald
    and the Brave New Foundation team

    P.S. If you haven’t done so already, please join Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook and Twitter.


  4. Friday, January 21, 2011

    Pakistani tribesmen rally against US drone strikes

    MIRAN SHAH, Pakistan — Some 2,000 Pakistanis in a tribal region pummeled by U.S. missile strikes demonstrated Friday under the watchful eye of Taliban fighters, calling for an end to the attacks and the arrest of the U.S. officials behind them.

    The covert, CIA-run missile program is a source of deep resentment in Pakistan, where many believe large numbers of civilians are killed and maimed in the drone-fired strikes. U.S. officials insist the strikes are precise and kill primarily Taliban and al-Qaida militants hiding along the Afghan border.

    Friday’s demonstration occurred in North Waziristan, the target of nearly all the U.S. missiles. The northwest tribal region is home to several militant groups focused on attacking U.S. and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan.

    Shop owners, students and other residents shouted anti-American slogans, and called for U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the former CIA station chief in Islamabad be brought to justice. “They should be arrested and punished by the courts in America,” said Abdul Khan, a student leader.

    Around 150 armed Taliban militants watched the rally in North Waziristan’s main town of Miran Shah. It was not immediately clear whether they had helped organize it.

    Pakistan officially protests the strikes as violations of its sovereignty, but Pakistani security agencies are believed to secretly cooperate with the program. Last year, the U.S. fired around 115 missile strikes into Pakistan in a major escalation of the campaign.

    One reason the U.S. has targeted North Waziristan may be because Pakistan’s military has held off on staging an offensive in the rugged, lawless region. Pakistani military commanders say that’s because the army is too stretched fighting militant groups elsewhere. But some analysts believe that Pakistan wants to avoid upsetting militant groups in North Waziristan that it may view as future allies against India once the U.S. leaves the region.

    In Pakistan’s southwest on Friday, gunmen torched two tankers carrying fuel for U.S. and NATO forces, wounding two drivers.

    Police official Abdul Zahoor says one tanker was attacked in the Qilat area of Baluchistan province, where gunmen over the weekend burned 14 NATO tankers. The other tanker was hit in the Mastung area.

    Militants and criminals in Pakistan frequently attack trucks carrying supplies for U.S. and NATO troops. The supplies first arrive in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi and from there they travel overland to Afghanistan.

    The U.S. is relying more on other routes, including through Central Asia, due to security concerns in Pakistan.

    (Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


  5. Dear WSWS,

    I read with great interest your article concerning the report of the US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan authored by the International Crisis Group. While the article clearly points out that the ICG report thoroughly contradicts the Obama administration’s views on the occupation, I think the article failed to cover one important aspect of the story. Specifically, it failed to provide context regarding the ICG itself. While I am in agreement with their findings, I doubt I would probably agree with their agenda.

    The ICG, according to their website, is “an independent, non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly contact”. While claiming to be non-governmental, they report that 54 percent of their funding comes from governments, so one wonders how “non-governmental” they truly are. Of the remainder of their $17 million budget, 26 percent comes from institutional foundations (Carnegie, MacArthur, Rockefeller, etc.) and 20 percent from individual and corporate donors (Chevron, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, etc.). Their CEO is a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and their board of trustees is populated with former ambassadors, ministers, secretaries, and other prominent former government members, as well as CEOs and board members of corporations. Among their other trustees and advisors are people such as Zbigniew Brzezinski, Wesley Clark, George Mitchell, and others, many of whom have actually played a role in the initiation of “deadly contact” rather than its prevention. So while I can applaud the ICG report for highlighting the lies and misinformation of the Obama administration regarding the Afghanistan occupation, I believe it is a mistake to accept the agenda of this report issued by this bourgeois think tank at face value. It is difficult to evaluate the findings of this ICG report independent of its class context.

    Please keep up the unparalleled reporting, and I hope you will all keep trying to raise the bar too.

    California, USA
    5 July 2011



  6. Harper Stirs Controversy With Military Name Change

    Published: August 21, 2011 at 12:33 PM ET

    TORONTO (AP) — Canadians were thrilled when Prince William and Kate traveled across the country on their first official trip as a married couple. They barely noticed when their pro-monarchy Conservative prime minister appointed Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s husband, an honorary admiral on his 90th birthday.

    But Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to restore the royal name to the Canadian armed forces and other recent moves to embrace the monarchy have raised hackles in this former British colony that has largely been indifferent to the fact that the queen remains the titular head of state.

    It’s reflective of Harper’s broader agenda to shift the country’s ideological bearings from center-left to center-right — a project that lays greater stress on such traditional symbols as the monarchy, military, ice hockey and Arctic sovereignty. And there has been resistance to such moves in a traditionally liberal and increasingly diverse country.

    Last week’s decision by Harper to restore the word “Royal” to Canada’s air force and navy angered Canadian nationalists who say Harper is out of touch with modern-day Canada even though he received a stronger mandate by gaining a coveted parliamentary majority in May’s elections.

    Former Defense Minister Paul Hellyer, who removed the royal labels from the armed forces in 1968 when he served in Liberal Prime Minister Lester Pearson’s government, accused Harper of trying to turn back the clock to a day that doesn’t exist anymore.

    “I’m incredulous,” Hellyer said. “Canada should be for Canadians at this stage of our development and we should emphasize our achievements whether they be in the field of art or in the field of armed forces and no longer just try to be a pale imitation of somebody else.”

    Hellyer, 88, said if they were still alive Pearson would be appalled and former Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau would “probably say something that wouldn’t be printable.”

    But the current defense minister, Peter MacKay, defended restoring the royal connection as correcting a 43-year-old mistake. He said veterans’ groups actively lobbied Harper’s government to restore the former navy and air force names.

    “It’s a recognition of historic ties to England that simply exist. It’s a historic fact,” MacKay said.

    Retired Lt. Gen. Angus Watt, a former chief of the air force, said the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Canadian Navy were once special names under which men and women fought and died during World War II and the Korean War. He said Harper’s name restoration is simply a matter of recognizing the great pride the military took in those names.

    “It’s just a nice thing to do that really doesn’t cost very much. It doesn’t change any command relationships, it doesn’t alter the operational complexion of the Canadian Forces,” Watt said.

    “It gives men and women in uniform and those who are retired a little bit of a pat on the back that we not only treasure their service but those that went before them.”

    Decades have passed since Canadians abandoned the British Union Jack for the Maple Leaf flag and replaced “God Save the Queen” with “O Canada” as the national anthem. But Harper’s Conservatives represent the most pro-monarchy Canadian government since the 1950s, and the prime minister’s ambition is to foster a national identity that is more conservative and more aware of its historical roots.

    Gerry Nicholls, who worked under Harper at a conservative think tank, said the prime minister’s long-term goal is to kill the widely entrenched notion that the Liberal Party is the natural party of government in Canada. The Liberals made Canadian independence and autonomy from Britain a key message since World War II — particularly Trudeau’s government in the 1970s which fostered pride in Canadian nationalism.

    “He’s trying to roll back the Trudeau revolution,” Nicholls said. “Trudeau did a lot of things that upset traditional minded Canadians, introducing more socialism, making government bigger and going after traditions like the military and the monarchy.”

    Pearson’s Liberals removed the royal label from the military in 1968 when Hellyer controversially melded the navy, army and air force under a single command called the Canadian Forces. The Royal Canadian Navy became Maritime Command, the Royal Canadian Air Force became Air Command and the Canadian Army became Land Force Command. The changes led to resignations and caused a severe blow to morale. Military personnel from all three branches were forced to wear the same green uniform.

    “Paul Hellyer completely stomped on the history and heritage,” Watt said. “Everybody hated those green uniforms. The air force and the navy in particularly absolutely hated it. Hellyer went too far. He put green uniforms on the navy.”

    Former Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney reversed the single uniform in the 1980s but the traditional names of the navy, air force and army were not reinstated until this week.

    MacKay said the old names will be restored to the three military branches, resulting in some changes to uniforms, such as the addition of the letter “R” to navy and air force shoulder patches. He said new letterheads and other symbols will be phased in.

    In Britain, Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said there has hardly been any coverage of Canada’s military name changes in the U.K., but noted that the Daily Telegraph attributed the move to a renewed interest in the monarchy in Canada following William and Kate’s wedding and their highly successful tour last month.

    Hugo Vickers, a royal historian in London, thinks it’s great that Canada wants to be more closely linked with the monarchy.

    “The one thing that Canada really has over the United States is the queen, and if you didn’t have the queen or the monarchy there would be a possibility that Canada would almost be a sub-state of America, that it would lose its identity,” Vickers said.

    But the military name changes have not gone over well with Canadian nationalists, French-speaking Quebeckers with long-standing resentment of the British crown, and new citizens of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

    Military historian Jack Granatstein, who supports Harper on most issues but believes Canada should have its own distinctive identity, called the move regressive. “Canada is not British anymore,” he said.

    In Quebec, Yves-Francois Blanchet, a separatist Parti Quebecois member in the provincial assembly, said it shows that Harper’s Conservative government doesn’t care about Quebec.

    “They believe they don’t need us,” Blanchet said. “It’s a lack of consideration, a lack of respect. They simply don’t care about how we feel. Maybe they are just more honest than others.”

    Ameya Pendse, 18, of Toronto, a member of the anti-monarchy group Citizens for a Canadian Republic, said many new Canadians taking the oath of citizenship wonder why they are pledging allegiance to the British queen rather than to Canada.

    Pendse, who was born in the U.S. to Indian parents and is now a Canadian citizen, said Harper is pushing his luck with the recent changes.

    “It’s totally gone too far now. Canadians are noticing. They are overdoing it,” he said.


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  8. Submitted on 2011/12/19 at 5:52 pm

    Nato to continue killer night raids

    AFGHANISTAN: Nato snubbed President Hamid Karzai today by insisting it would continue to carry out nocturnal capture-and-kill raids on suspected insurgents.

    Mr Karzai has repeatedly protested at the raids, which cause high numbers of civilian casualties.

    “Afghan citizens cannot feel secure if armed soldiers might burst into their houses in the middle of the night,” he has said.

    But Nato spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson said the raids were “the safest form of operation to take out insurgent leaders.”



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