Afghanistan, endless war


This video says about itself:

22 February 2017

Tariq Ali reminds us of Afghanistan’s years of war, subsequent US and NATO occupation and the inter-ethnic division which these wars have caused. He introduces extracts from the documentary “From I through We to Community” which, with the support of AHRDO, sees young people addressing issues of ethnic discrimination head-on in order to find a way out of the ethnic tensions.

United States airstrike kills Afghan women, children


This video says about itself:

13 February 2017

The United Nations has concluded that US-led forces are responsible for last week’s airstrikes in Afghanistan that resulted in 18 civilian deaths-nearly all women and children.

The world body voiced its grave concern over the mounting civilian deaths in Helmand province. The airstrikes took place on Thursday and Friday targeting Sangin district. This is while Afghan officials put the number of fatalities at 22. Washington has confirmed its warplanes have conducted around 30 airstrikes in Helmand province in the past week. The UN says civilian casualties from American airstrikes in Afghanistan increased dramatically last year.

From Reuters news agency:

U.S. Airstrikes In Afghanistan Kill At Least 18 Civilians: UN Report

The U.S. military says it is investigating the allegations.

KABUL, Feb 12 – At least 18 civilians were killed last week in air strikes by international forces in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, an initial United Nations inquiry has concluded.

American military officials say their aircraft have conducted around 30 air strikes in Helmand in the past week. …

American aircraft and special forces have also provided combat support, with at least one U.S. soldier wounded in recent fighting.

On Thursday and Friday air strikes in Helmand’s Sangin district killed as many as 18 civilians, mostly women and children, according to a U.N. statement released on Sunday.

The U.N. said the strikes had been conducted by “international military forces,” but only U.S. aircraft have been involved in recent coalition strikes, according to military officials.

Family members of victims at the regional hospital in Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah, demanded explanations.

“How could women and children be Taliban?” Majnoon, a resident of Sangin, who said 11 people were killed in his brother’s house in a strike on Thursday, told Reuters. …

Civilian casualties from both American and Afghan air strikes increased dramatically last year, according to the U.N.’s most recent report on threats to civilians.

British government deporting refugee to Afghan war


This video says about itself:

3 November 2016

At least 30 civilians have been killed in a NATO air strike in Afghanistan‘s volatile northern province of Kunduz.

Women and children are among those killed in the operation – which was called in to protect US and Afghan Special Forces battling the Taliban.

At least two US soldiers have died and four others were injured in the fighting.

Al Jazeera’s Richard Martin reports.

Warning: you may find some of the images in report disturbing.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Bid to stop deportation of Afghan national fails

Friday 27th january 2017

A BID to stop the deportation of an Afghan national from the Welsh city he has called home for a decade appeared to have failed last night.

Bashir Naderi, 20, has lived in Cardiff since he was 10, after his mother paid traffickers to bring him to Britain.

The case against his deportation became a cause celebre with senior politicians and high-profile individuals, including local MP Jo Stevens and singer turned DJ Cerys Matthews who gave Mr Naderi their backing.

His deportation was temporarily halted by a judge at the 11th hour in October and opposition was further bolstered by a 14,000-signature petition handed to the Home Office in January.

Mr Naderi’s partner Nicole Cooper said they were “devastated” his leave to remain has been refused.

She said the couple’s solicitor delivered the news on Wednesday but that they were still waiting to see the Home Office documents.

Mr Naderi fled Afghanistan after his father was killed by the Taliban.

Some 393 refugees & migrants locked up in the UK tried to take their lives in 2015: here.

German demonstration against deportation to Afghan war


This video from Germany says about itself:

Activists March Against Deportation of Afghan Refugees

24 January 2017

Activists staged a demonstration at Frankfurt airport on Monday to protest the recent deportation agreement between Germany and Afghanistan.

In a joint operation carried out by federal and state authorities, 26 Afghan refugees were deported on 23 January with officials putting them on a plane in Rhein-Main airport in Frankfurt, Germany and flying them to Kabul. This was the second mass deportation of this kind, following the deportation of 34 Afghan refugees on 14 December: here.

We killed Afghan civilians, Pentagon admits


This video says about itself:

3 November 2016

At least 30 civilians have been killed in a NATO air strike in Afghanistan‘s volatile northern province of Kunduz.

Women and children are among those killed in the operation …

Al Jazeera’s Richard Martin reports.

Warning: you may find some of the images in report disturbing.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Kunduz Attack in November Killed 33 Civilians, U.S. Military Says

By MUJIB MASHAL

JAN. 12, 2017

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United States military investigation into claims of civilian casualties during a joint operation by Afghan and American forces found that 33 civilians were killed and 27 others were wounded during a firefight and airstrikes in Kunduz Province last year, American military officials said on Thursday. …

After the battle in Kunduz, a New York Times reporter counted 22 bodies being brought into the city on the way to the hospital there. Among them were 14 children, four women, two older men and two men of fighting age. They were accompanied by a large group of protesters from Boz Qandahari, the village that was hit.

Kunduz is also where a United States military gunship mistakenly

Mistakenly? Doctors Without Borders don’t believe that.

targeted a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in October 2015, killing at least 42 people and destroying much of the hospital.

German demonstration against deportations to Afghan war


Pro-Afghan refugees rally at the Opernplatz in Frankfurt, Germany

By Marianne Arens in Germany:

Demonstration in Germany against deportations to Afghanistan

12 January 2017

More than a thousand people protested last Saturday in Frankfurt against the German government’s deportation of refugees to Afghanistan. After a rally at the central Opernplatz square, a growing number of people joined the peaceful demonstration in the downtown area.

On December 14, 34 Afghan refugees were deported in a special charter plane from the Rhein-Main Airport, and additional group deportations to Kabul are planned later this month. Last year, a total of 25,000 people were deported from Germany, primarily from the Frankfurt Airport.

The rally in front of the old opera house was called on January 7 by the Frankfurt Afghan Hindu Cultural Association and other associations of Hindus and Sikhs. Their placards read “Stop Deportation and Persecution,” “We are human beings and not numbers!” “Equal Rights for Refugees,” “Keep families together,” and “I would like to live as a human being instead of dying as a Sikh in Afghanistan.”

Before 1980, up to 220,000 Hindus and Sikhs lived in Afghanistan, according to a spokesperson of the organizers. However, their number has fallen to 1,300 because under neither the Taliban nor the current NATO-supported government has it been possible for them to live a peaceful life, free of physical threat. In reality, the country is highly unsafe for all civilians today.

“We came to Germany with high hopes,” continued the spokesperson. “We have settled down and become a part of the society and support newcomers whenever we can. But that belongs to the past.” The group deportations into a land of crisis have struck refugee communities from Afghanistan at the heart, he said: “The war in Afghanistan has caught up to us. Once again, families will be torn apart, we must once again fear for our relatives.”

Janine Wissler spoke for the Left Party in Hesse and called briefly and perfunctorily for a halt to the deportations: “The group deportations to Afghanistan must be ended,” said the deputy Left Party president …

Immediately after Wissler spoke, two refugee aid personnel sharply criticized the practice of “voluntary departure” … . Tina and Daniel of the Wiesbaden Refugee Council said that anyone who gives credence to the official line about “safe” countries of origin and pressures the refugees to return voluntarily is acting hastily and irresponsibly. This practice places the refugees in enormous danger, they said.

As several speakers emphasized, the security situation deteriorated massively in Afghanistan last year. The foreign office has warned German tourists and business people against even short-term travel in the country. Afghanistan is anything but a “safe country of origin”: random raids by the Taliban and NATO air attacks endanger people day in and day out. A spokesperson reported that last week a Sikh representative in Kunduz was shot openly in the street: “Hindus and Sikhs are being sent to their deaths with eyes open.”

Many German youths also participated in the demonstration

Many German opponents of deportations, above all young people, took part in the demonstration. The mass deportation of refugees has provoked widespread horror and the plans for central deportation centres remind many of the Nazi concentration camps. …

Since last fall, the German federal government, which has called Afghanistan a safe country of origin, has maintained a cynical agreement with the government in Kabul concerning rejected asylum applicants. Parallel to this, the federal parliament has prolonged the engagement of the federal army in Afghanistan.

Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière is preparing new deportation centres near the large German airports as part of his plans to centralize the entire security apparatus, and Chancellor Angela Merkel is supporting this course with her injunction “deport, deport, deport.”

The Hesse Minister President Volker Bouffier (Christian Democratic Union) suggested several days ago that refugees picked up in the Mediterranean should be sent back to Africa. In addition, special intake centres should be built in Tunisia or Egypt, he said. Bouffier added that he completely supported a similar suggestion from the Christian Social Union, one of Merkel’s coalition partners at the federal level.

Federal President of the SPD Sigmar Gabriel criticized Thomas de Maizière’s police-state plans from the right, downplaying them as purely “symbolic politics.” And Federal Minister of Justice Heiko Maas (SPD) spoke of a “preventive offensive” and demanded changed laws, so that detention pending deportation would also be possible when the countries of origin do not cooperate.

Canadian Afghan war veteran kills family, himself


This video from Canada says about itself:

‘Lost my mom and my niece were gone too’

5 January 2017

Lionel Desmond’s sister Cassandra describes how she found out members of her family had been killed.

Read more here.

Not only does the bloody Iraq war come home to the USA as bloodbaths at Fort Lauderdale airport and elsewhere.

The bloody war in Afghanistan comes home to Canada as well.

By Laurent Lafrance in Canada:

Canadian Afghan war veteran commits suicide after killing family

11 January 2017

A tragedy that took place at the beginning of January in Upper Big Tracadie, a small and isolated town in northeastern Nova Scotia, has shed light on the consequences of the increasingly aggressive domestic and foreign policies of the Canadian ruling elite.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) confirmed last Friday that 33-year-old Afghan war veteran Lionel Desmond shot himself after killing his mother, Brenda, 52; his wife, Shanna Desmond, 31; and their 10-year-old daughter, Aliyah. The murder-suicide has left the community, located some 200 miles from Halifax, in shock.

Relatives confirmed that Desmond suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after he came back from Afghanistan, where he was deployed from January to August of 2007 as an infantry soldier in the Royal Canadian Regiment. He joined the armed forces in 2004 and was released 18 months ago.

This latest tragedy is an indictment of the entire ruling class and military apparatus that have used young men as cannon fodder to advance Canada’s imperialist interests around the globe. When these men come back home, usually traumatized by the cruelty of war and the atrocities inflicted on the civilian population—often with their own participation—they are left with inadequate health care and other vital services due to decades of budget cutting by all of the establishment political parties.

Desmond wrote on his Facebook page last month that he had hit his head on a light armoured vehicle and suffered back spasms after falling off a wall while in the military. He said he had been told he had post-concussion disorder as well as PTSD. Desmond’s sister-in-law explained that he recently decided to stay at his grandparents’ house because he was “getting so out of control,” and that he was verbally aggressive with his wife.

Rev. Elaine Walcott, another relative, said, “Lionel loved his mother, his family, and he was a victim of post-traumatic stress disorder and the memories he didn’t want to have.” Lionel’s sister, Cassandra Desmond, told CBC News: “My brother suffered in silence for 10 years fighting demons that we don’t even know, seeing things, replaying events in his head…”

According to Shanna Desmond’s aunt, Catherine Hartline, when Lionel Desmond returned from Afghanistan he sought treatment in Montreal but did not get the adequate assistance. “The poor guy needed help and they sent him up to Montreal and put a little Band-Aid on him and sent him back.”

It was also revealed that Desmond tried to check himself into a mental health facility at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish the day before the tragedy, but he was apparently told there were no beds and that the hospital did not have his files.

This revelation prompted Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil to claim that his government, in conjunction with health authorities, would find out “what may or may not have happened” at St. Martha’s. In another token gesture, the Canadian government announced that it would pay the costs of the funeral of Desmond and his family members.

The government is clearly seeking to wash its hands of the situation and cover up the fact that the lack of services at St. Martha is the result of years of austerity measures imposed on public services by successive Liberal, Conservative and NDP provincial governments.

An emergency room doctor who works at the hospital, Dr. Maureen Allen, told CBC how budget cuts had impacted the services provided. Allen said emergency rooms “are inundated” with people struggling with mental health and addiction issues, and that the facility no longer has a dedicated budget for mental health services.

Under both the previous Harper Conservative government and the current Liberal Trudeau government, Veteran Affairs Canada has slashed millions of dollars, translating into hundreds of job cuts, closed offices that previously provided assistance to veterans and cut back on medical marijuana. In power, the Conservatives eliminated lifetime pensions for Afghanistan veterans and clawed back benefits. The number of VA employees shrank 21 percent between 2008 and 2014, resulting in the department’s smallest workforce since 1998.

Many ill and injured ex-soldiers must wait for months to find out if they qualify for benefits. Documents obtained by The Canadian Press show that just over half of the 6,000 veterans who applied for disability benefits between April and July last year received a decision within 16 weeks.

Veteran services have also been targeted for privatization. The most recent job cuts imposed by the Liberals will now force veterans to deal with Medavie Blue Cross, a for-profit private insurance company, for their benefit claims.

According to reports, Desmond received treatment from a joint personnel support unit for a year prior to his release from the military in July 2015. The JPSU, which is meant to provide support to physically and mentally ill soldiers, is severely under-funded.

The horrific event in Upper Big Tracadie is the latest in a string of similar tragedies involving war veterans. According to a Globe and Mail investigation, at least 72 soldiers and veterans have killed themselves after serving on the dangerous Afghanistan mission. The most recent reported case took place in 2015, when Robert Giblin, a veteran of two Afghanistan tours, repeatedly stabbed his wife before they fell from a high-rise apartment in Toronto.

Nearly one in 10 Canadian military personnel who took part in the mission in Afghanistan (about 3,600 out of 39,000) are now collecting disability benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder. However, experts say the prevalence of the illness is likely much higher among Canada’s combat troops. There are probably many ex-soldiers who have not reached out for benefits, and others who have never been diagnosed.

Calls by the media and politicians for better help for veterans are highly hypocritical. Above all, they seek to obscure the real cause of the Upper Big Tracadie tragedy: Canada’s participation in imperialist carnage in Central Asia and around the globe. In fact, after wiping their crocodile tears, the Canadian ruling class and the media will continue to push for a more aggressive foreign policy.

The Afghan war played a critical role in the reassertion of aggressive Canadian militarism. It marked the definitive end of a period in which, for their own geopolitical interests, the Canadian ruling class presented itself on the global stage as a “peacekeeping” nation.

Military strategists and government advisers celebrated the Afghan intervention, which saw the Canadian Armed Forces assume the leadership role in counter-insurgency operations in Kandahar. In the words of one official, this was a “revolution” in Canadian foreign policy. The ruling class is not about to allow what it views as collateral damage to the lives of veterans and their families to get in the way of the ruthless assertion of its interests.

Desmond’s fate—and the high number of soldiers suffering from PTSD—points to the real character of the Afghan war. Launched in 2001 shortly after September 11 as part of the US-led so-called “war on terror”, the Afghan war has revealed itself as a neocolonial war in which the major powers sought to destabilize and dominate the entire energy resource-rich region.

The Conservatives and the liberals both supported Canada’s participation in the war. For its part, the union-backed New Democratic Party, which made the withdrawal of Canadian troops from Afghanistan one of its main “progressive” policy planks, made an about-face in the 2008 election campaign when it sought a coalition with the Liberals and pledged to back Canada playing a leading role in the conflict through 2011.

Since then, the Canadian government has joined every military adventure led by the United States. Far from backing down from this war drive, the Trudeau government will soon announce a new deployment of Canadian troops in Africa to join US and French-led counter-insurgency missions and has already sent Canadian forces to Eastern Europe to menace Russia.