Wednesday 17th of October 2018

exit strategy...

obama war cabinet

 

U.S. President Barack Obama has held another high-level strategy session on Afghanistan, as he reviews the U.S. approach to the war there and considers whether to send more troops.

President Obama met Thursday with Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the White House. One day earlier -- on the eighth anniversary of the war, the president met with his senior military and political advisers for a review that focused on Afghanistan's neighbor, Pakistan, a key component of Mr. Obama's strategy.

U.S. casualties in Afghanistan have risen sharply in recent months amid more aggressive operations against the Taliban and other militant groups. Opinion polls show the war is steadily losing support among the American public.

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Hello,? Dubya?...

The call wouldn't be for strategic advice — Obama has kept much of the Bush military team in place, and he can hear from them directly. But there's only one other person on the planet who has an understanding of what Obama is going through—the conflicting military advice, the squabbling advisers, the condolence letters to the families. Obama's liberal allies are still cataloging Bush's strategic failures including the neglect in Afghanistan that has made the situation so bad there. They'd cringe at the idea of the president's choice of counsel. But Obama is smart enough to know that you can learn from the mistakes of your predecessors. (That's why he talks to the Clintons about health care reform.)

It was during the inauguration that Obama told Bush that he hoped he'd be able to call on him from time to time.

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Obama to Consult Magic 8 Ball for Afghanistan Strategy
WASHINGTON- Amidst growing pressure to declare a comprehensive plan for the war in Afghanistan, President Obama has made an unexpected decision: using a childhood toy to decide what to do with major policies.

The toy, a Magic 8 ball given to him when he was nine, is still usable, the President said in a press conference on Sunday night. "You see," President Obama explained, "you ask the ball a question and shake it like so." The President then shook the ball he had at his podium.

"Uh oh, it says ask again later," the President concluded.

In a press release, the White House detailed how the toy would be used, and how exactly the President came to his decision to use it.

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We, cartoonists, have no heart... and we make fun out of the good work the good people try to do in the most difficult situation... But so be it...

So far things are going south...

extra troops...

On the war's front lines
Why Obama needs to send more troops to Afghanistan

By David Ignatius
Friday, October 30, 2009

 

KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN Here's what you would see if you traveled this week to Kandahar and Helmand provinces, the two big battlegrounds of the Afghanistan war: a conflict that is balanced tenuously between success and failure. The United States has deployed enough troops to disrupt the Taliban insurgency and draw increasing fire, but not enough to secure the major population centers. That's not a viable position.

I visited four U.S. bases in the two provinces this week, traveling with the military. I was able to hear from local commanders and talk with a few Afghans. I'll describe what I learned, positive and negative, so readers can weigh this evidence from the field. Then I'll explain why my conclusion is that President Obama should add some troops.

We began in Kandahar city, at the headquarters of what's known as Regional Command South, which oversees the battle in the two provinces. It's a city on the edge of the desert, surrounded by jagged, slate-gray mountains. Just over the border to the east are the Taliban's supply lines in Pakistan.

America's NATO allies have been running the war in Kandahar province, but they have been badly outgunned. So several months ago, the United States sent an Army brigade of about 4,000 troops with Stryker armored vehicles. That disrupted the Taliban insurgents, but they have responded with more roadside bombs along Highway 1, the main route that connects Kandahar to Afghanistan's other major cities.

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If this was the only province where there was problems, one could say: alea jacta est... But the recent attack of UN staff in Kabul is changing the focus... Rarely a day goes by in Kabul without an explosion of sort designed to kill. US troops have lost more than 50 troops this month — including serious accidental deaths — and the allies "control" about 30 per cent of Afghanistan — mostly the cities... The Afghani people are good people. But they are divided as to what to do next.

The brother of the president is on the CIA payroll, and the elections were a sham of cheating. Corruption is often second nature. Rebuilding is so slow it could be going backwards... The many poor and the helpless are not helped. Survival is dire — if one lives past 44 in Afghanistan, one has overtaken life's expectancy there...

Something important needs to be done... Extra troops may not be the solution.

congratulations...

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's election by default Monday confirms at least a week earlier than expected that the Obama administration will continue for the foreseeable future to have the same mercurial partner in Afghanistan.

Karzai was expected to win the Nov. 7 runoff election easily and continue in the role he has held for nearly eight years, just as President Obama enters the final stage of deciding whether to escalate U.S. involvement in the war.

But the departure of Karzai's chief rival, former foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah, deprives him of a genuine win at the polls and potentially undermines the Obama administration's goal of building a legitimate government in Kabul.

Obama, congressional leaders and the U.S. commander on the ground, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, have made clear that the success of any strategy the White House eventually settles on will depend on the Afghan government's ability to improve its credibility among the people.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Obama planned to telephone Karzai shortly since the runoff election was called off.

Senior administration officials were encouraged last month when Karzai accepted a second round of voting following the deeply flawed August election. He won that vote with more than the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff, but a U.N.-backed review later determined that nearly a third of his votes were fraudulent.

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see toon at top...

fakin' it .....

NATO's operation in Afghanistan has descended into farce.

Gordon Brown & Barack Obama have both congratulated Hamid Karzai - the former Unicol oil man who bushit installed as Afghanistan's ruler in the first place - for winning an election that they themselves have condemned as corrupt.

Neither of these intellectual giants has tried to explain how anyone can 'win' a race in which there is only one competitor.

Talk about 'democracy on the nose' ... what a joke.

digging-in strategy

US President Barack Obama has met his national security team to discuss strategy in Afghanistan as speculation mounts over a decision on troop levels.

White House officials said Mr Obama discussed timeframes for four options presented at the meeting but took no decisions on them.

The president said the US commitment should not be open-ended and governance there must improve, they added.

UK PM Gordon Brown told parliament he expected a decision soon.

"I have spoken to President Obama and I expect him to announce in a few days what his numbers for Afghanistan will be," Mr Brown told British MPs on Wednesday.

Arlington ceremony

Wednesday's closed-door meeting is the eighth in a series aimed at refocusing Afghan policy.

Before heading into the meeting, Gen Petraeus told CNN a decision would be made soon on troop levels.

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see toon at top

hell is paved with good intentions...

November 25, 2009
Obama Says He Intends to ‘Finish the Job’ in Afghanistan

By JEFF ZELENY and DAVID STOUT

WASHINGTON — President Obama said on Tuesday that he will announce his decision on how many more troops to send to Afghanistan next week, and that it is his intention to “finish the job” that began with the overthrow of the Taliban government in the fall of 2001.

Mr. Obama, offering a tantalizing preview of what looms as one of the momentous decisions of his presidency, said he would tell the American people about “a comprehensive strategy” embracing civilian and diplomatic efforts as well as the continuing military campaign.

While he avoided any hints of the new troop levels he foresees in Afghanistan, the president signaled that he will not be talking about a short-term commitment but rather an effort muscular enough to “dismantle and degrade” the enemy and ensure that “Al Qaeda and its extremist allies cannot operate” in the region.

A round of White House meetings on Afghanistan, which concluded on Monday night, included discussions about sending about 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, administration officials said. There are about 68,000 United States troops there now.

The president commented during an appearance at mid-day Tuesday with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India after what Mr. Obama called a “detailed discussion” of regional issues with the Indian leader, including Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama said there had been “some progress” in efforts by the Pakistan military to root out extremists. Al Qaeda members are widely believed to travel freely between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Good luck to him and see toon at top...

the money or the pox...

From the independent

Britain and the US are backing a new strategy to buy off "soft" supporters of the Taliban in a radical attempt to end nine years of war in Afghanistan. The plan, to be approved at a 60-nation conference in London today, comes amid unexpected signs of growing political support for the equally high-risk idea of talks leading to a political settlement with the Taliban leadership.

In a telling move, on Tuesday night the UN Security Council bowed to pressure from the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, to lift sanctions imposed on former officials who served in the Taliban government driven from power by the US-led invasion of 2001.

The multimillion-pound "peace and reintegration" fund would seek to lure low ranking Taliban fighters, who join out of poverty rather than ideology, by giving them jobs, schooling or land for farming. An effective amnesty for these men, now believed to make up 75 per cent of the insurgency's ranks, means that even those who took part in attacks involving the deaths of British or US soldiers would be rehabilitated.

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see toon at top

Barack the torturer...

From the Independent

Osama bin Laden's favourite son, Omar, recently abandoned his father's cave in favour of spending his time dancing and drooling in the nightclubs of Damascus. The tang of freedom almost always trumps Islamist fanaticism in the end: three million people abandoned the Puritan hell of Taliban Afghanistan for freer countries, while only a few thousand faith-addled fanatics ever travelled the other way. Osama's vision can't even inspire his own kids. But Omar bin Laden says his father is banking on one thing to shore up his flailing, failing cause – and we are giving it to him.

The day George W Bush was elected, Omar says, "my father was so happy. This is the kind of president he needs – one who will attack and spend money and break [his own] country". Osama wanted the US and Europe to make his story about the world ring true in every mosque and every mountain-top and every souq. He said our countries were bent on looting Muslim countries of their resources, and any talk of civil liberties or democracy was a hypocritical facade. The jihadis I have interviewed – from London to Gaza to Syria – said their ranks swelled with each new whiff of Bushism as more and more were persuaded. It was like trying to extinguish fire with a blowtorch.

The revelations this week about how the CIA and British authorities handed over a suspected jihadi to torturers in Pakistan may sound at first glance like a hangover from the Bush years. Barack Obama was elected, in part, to drag us out of this trap – but in practice he is dragging us further in. He is escalating the war in Afghanistan, and has taken the war to another Muslim country. The CIA and hired mercenaries are now operating on Obama's orders inside Pakistan, where they are sending unarmed drones to drop bombs and sending secret agents to snatch suspects. The casualties are overwhelmingly civilians. We may not have noticed, but the Muslim world has: check out Al Jazeera any night.

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see toon at top..

never really worked for CIA or Jordanian intelligence...

CAIRO – An al-Qaida double agent that killed seven CIA operatives and a Jordanian spy called for jihad in Jordan and attacks on its intelligence agency in a posthumous video message posted on extremist Web sites Sunday.

Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi also described Sunday in the 43-minute video his recruitment by Jordanian intelligence and how he double crossed them after they sent him to Afghanistan to spy on al-Qaida.

The video was apparently filmed shortly before the 32-year-old al-Balawi blew himself up at a CIA facility on Dec. 30 in Afghanistan's eastern province of Khost where he'd been invited to reveal information on al-Qaida No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahri.

Al-Balawi said he only expected to kill his Jordanian handler, Ali bin Zaid, but the addition of the CIA members was a windfall.

"We planned for something but got a bigger gift, a gift from Allah, who brought us, through His accompaniment, a valuable prey: Americans, and from the CIA. That's when I became certain that the best way to teach Jordanian intelligence and the CIA a lesson is with the martyrdom belt," he said in the video.

The secretive eastern Afghan CIA base was reportedly used as a key outpost in the effort to identify and target terror leaders, many of whom were taken out by the drone-fired missile strikes.

It was one of the worst losses for the CIA ever and revealed the cooperation between the American and Jordanian intelligence services.

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Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi

 

After his death his wife Defne Bayrak was interrogated for almost 5 hours by Istanbul Security Directorate (Turkish police).[14][15]. Istanbul Security Directorate denies any CIA involvement [16] Later she gave extensive interviews to Newsweek Turkey and CNN[17][18][19][20][21][22][23] She also complained to The Association of Human Rights and Solidarity of Oppressed People in Turkey about being constantly bothered by reporters. Acorrding to the leaked information the first question asked during the interrogation was how they met each other to which she replied that they met in a chat room on a website that she accesses to learn Arabic. It is also said that CIA officials brought a file, containing information on al-Balawi and questions to ask during interrogation, and gave it to Istanbul Anti-Terror Branch Directorate

Her main point during interviews was that al-Balawi never really worked for CIA or Jordanian intelligence and wasn't their agent and only used them by pretending to work for them. In the interviews al-Balawi comes out as someone who was obsessed about Jihad and felt guilty for not doing anything despite constantly writing on the subject. He was very affected by the occupation of "Islamic lands" by United States. She said that he might wanted to go to the conflict areas before but was unable because Jordanian intelligence strictly controls access of suspicious people to these areas. According to her he wasn't tortured during the 3 day arrest and was given Quran to read but was prohibited from reading it out loud. She says it is probable that it was during interrogation that he convinced the intelligence agencies and gained easy exit to Pakistan. She denies knowing anything about his connection to intelligence services but admits concealing from his parents that he was in Pakistan and not in Turkey.

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The Jordanian triple agent behind the December suicide bombing that killed eight CIA agents in Afghanistan claims in a new video that he lured American and Jordanian intelligence officers into a fatal trap by sending them misleading information about terror targets, and videotapes he had made of senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor who killed seven CIA agents and his Jordanian handler in the attack also claims in the posthumous tape that he intended to kidnap only one Jordanian intelligence officer. However the unexpected opportunity to attack a large group of Americans appears to have been too good to resist.

"It wasn't planned this way," al-Balawi says in an undated, 44-minute videotape released on Sunday by as-Sahab, the media arm of al-Qaeda. According to The Washington Post, al-Balawi attributes the change to "the stupidity of Jordanian intelligence and the stupidity of American intelligence" services that invited him to Afghanistan to help set up a strike against al-Qaeda targets.

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see whatever toon at top...


repeat business...

Afghan Guards Face an Inquiry Over Ties to Insurgents

By DEXTER FILKINS

MAIDAN SHAHR, Afghanistan — For months, reports have abounded here that the Afghan mercenaries who escort American and other NATO convoys through the badlands have been bribing Taliban insurgents to let them pass.

Then came a series of events last month that suggested all-out collusion with the insurgents.

After a pair of bloody confrontations with Afghan civilians, two of the biggest private security companies — Watan Risk Management and Compass Security — were banned from escorting NATO convoys on the highway between Kabul and Kandahar.

The ban took effect on May 14. At 10:30 a.m. that day, a NATO supply convoy rolling through the area came under attack. An Afghan driver and a soldier were killed, and a truck was overturned and burned. Within two weeks, with more than 1,000 trucks sitting stalled on the highway, the Afghan government granted Watan and Compass permission to resume.

Watan’s president, Rashid Popal, strongly denied any suggestion that his men either colluded with insurgents or orchestrated attacks to emphasize the need for their services. Executives with Compass Security did not respond to questions.

See toon at top.

coordination of insurgency tactics...

New evidence has emerged of strong political and financial links between the Taliban and Pakistan's ISI intelligence service.

A report based on a series of face-to-face interviews with Afghan insurgents, published by the London School of Economics, alleges that the Pakistani government helps the Taliban in strategic decision-making and coordination of insurgency tactics.

The report says the ISI provides Taliban fighters with training, cash and sanctuary as they fight Western troops in Afghanistan.

It also claims that Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari made a secret visit to 50 high-ranking Taliban prisoners in a Pakistani jail earlier this year to arrange their release.

The Pakistani government has dismissed the report as "rubbish".

But author Matt Waldman, a Harvard researcher, says he drew his conclusions from interviews with nine Taliban field commanders in Afghanistan.

"I think [what is] significant firstly is the scale and extent of the support form Pakistan's intelligence service for the insurgency," he said.

"The interviews suggest the support is extensive and is in a range of areas, including arms and ammunition.

"The interview suggests that it is official ISI policy. This is not the work of just one or two or another small number of rogue individuals or retired officers. The interviews strongly indicate that this is official ISI policy.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/14/2926379.htm

a double cross or crossed wires?...

Document leak part of U.S. plot, says Pakistani ex-general with ties to Taliban

 

By Karin Brulliard
Wednesday, July 28, 2010; A08

 

RAWALPINDI, PAKISTAN -- From the deluge of leaked military documents published Sunday, a former Pakistani spy chief emerged as a chilling personification of his nation's alleged duplicity in the Afghan war -- an erstwhile U.S. ally turned Taliban tutor.

Now planted squarely in the cross hairs, retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul seems little short of delighted.

In an interview Tuesday, Gul dismissed the accusations against him as "fiction" and described the documents' release as the start of a White House plot. It will end, he posited, with an early U.S. pullout from Afghanistan -- thus proving Gul, an unabashed advocate of the Afghan insurgency, right.

President Obama "is a very good chess player. . . . He says, 'I don't want to carry the historic blame of having orchestrated the defeat of America, their humiliation in Afghanistan,' " said Gul, 74, adding that the plot incorporates a troop surge that Obama knows will fail. "It doesn't sell to a professional man like me."

That sort of theory makes Gul an incarnation of some of the United States' greatest challenges in dealing with Pakistan, a U.S. ally. Here, prominent figures closely linked to the security establishment not only trumpet what they view as vast American scheming but also, U.S. officials and the leaked documents allege, provide support to Afghan rebels.

Gul did that in an official capacity as head of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency from 1987 to 1989, when he helped the CIA funnel Islamist fighters into Afghanistan to fight the Soviets. Eloquent and polished, he was viewed by his American partners as pro-Western and moderate, while his Saudi benefactors saw him as a pious, conservative Muslim.

After the Soviet withdrawal, the Saudis' characterization seemed to prevail. Gul continued to support the rebels in a semiofficial capacity, as did other elements of Pakistan's security forces that view the Taliban as a tool for influence in Afghanistan, U.S. officials say.

With the greatest detail yet made public, the leaked documents depict American views of Gul as a murderous terrorist agent. According to some of the documents, he possessed dozens of bombs for Taliban fighters to detonate in Kabul, instructed militants to kidnap United Nations workers, hatched a plan for a suicide bombing in Afghanistan to avenge an insurgent and assured fighters that Pakistan would provide them haven.

The reports are unconfirmed. But they are hardly surprising to those closely following the Afghan war, or to Gul himself. On Monday, he described himself as a "whipping boy" for the United States.

killing "an amazing number of people"...

Leaky Vessels: Wikileaks "Revelations" Will Comfort Warmongers, Confirm Conventional Wisdom

Written by Chris Floyd

"I am shocked -- shocked! -- to find gambling is going on in here" -- Captain Renault at the gaming tables in Casablanca.

The much ballyhooed dump of intelligence and diplomatic files concerning the Afghan War has been trumpeted as some kind of shocking expose, "painting a different picture" than the official version of events -- revelations that are sure to rock the Anglo-American political establishments to their foundations.

The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel were given 92,000 reports by Wikileaks, including thousands of pages of raw "human intelligence" (i.e., uncorroborated claims and gossip from interested parties and anonymous sources pushing a multitude of agendas), and diplomatic notes passed between the promulgators of the occupation in Washington and their factotums "in country" -- reports which you might imagine also purvey a multitude of agendas ... not least the supreme agenda of all officials involved in a dubious enterprise: ass-covering.

Yet these reports are being treated as if they are the "grim truth" behind the shining picture of official propaganda. But what do these stories in the NYT and Guardian actually "reveal"? Let's see:

  • That the occupation forces kill lots of civilians at checkpoints and botched raids, then lie about it afterward.
  • That these killings make Afghans angry and fuel the insurgency.
  • That elements of Pakistani intelligence are involved with some elements of the many resistance groups known collectively (and incorrectly) in the West as the Taliban.
  • That the Americans are using more and more robot drones to kill people.
  • That the Americans are running death squads in Afghanistan aimed at Taliban leaders.
  • That Afghan officials are corrupt, and that Afghan police and military forces are woefully inadequate.


Is there anything in these breathless new recitations that we did not already know? For example, the NYT offers a few short vignettes from the leaked documents concerning botched raids and errant missiles that slaughter civilians. But in almost every case, these have already been extensively reported -- in the Times itself and other mainstream venues -- in much greater detail, with quotes and evidence from the victims and local eyewitnesses, and not just the self-interested, ass-covering perspective of official occupation reports. And the "revelation" that occupation forces are killing "an amazing number of people" who have "never proven to be a threat" at checkpoints was confirmed months ago by no less than Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the erstwhile commander of the whole shebang.

The West can only contain not defeat...

The West can only contain not defeat militant groups such as al-Qaeda, the head of the UK's armed forces has said.

General Sir David Richards, a former Nato commander in Afghanistan, said Islamist militancy would pose a threat to the UK for at least 30 years.

But he told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper a clear-cut victory over militants was not achievable.

The BBC's Frank Gardner said the comments reflect a "new realism" in UK and US counter-terrorism circles.

Our security correspondent said such an admission five years ago might have been considered outrageous and defeatist.

Gen Richards, 58, took over as chief of the defence staff last month, after a spell as head of the British army.

'Secure lives'

He is due to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph in London later as part of the UK's Remembrance Sunday commemorations.

In his Sunday Telegraph interview, Gen Richards expressed confidence that al-Qaeda could be contained to such an extent that Britons could lead secure lives.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11751888

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Gus: have you noticed though that since the little shit Bushit has gone, no new wars, no new massive cock-up has deliberately happened in the world — or in the USA... Sure we can see there is the continuation of some conflicts but things have fizzled for the US, say, in Iraq (still keeping 50,000 troops there mind you) and Afghanistan is still like a boil on a bum, but there has not been, say, a 9/11 or a desire to destroy another country outright. Iran is still in the line of sight, North Korea is still being frothed up... but there no serious sabre-rattling from the empire, just a bit of bad weather here and there...

And the "Katrina" of Obama's presidency was an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico due to you've guessed it no other than Halliburton, though Shell footed the bill for more than US$25 billions... To say the least, the US government did all it could to help solve this problem, without fear or favours... There is still more to be done but it's now being attended to without fanfares or spectacular somersaults...

Let's hope the spirit of cooperation slowly simmering in the Obama's Administration continues and that all the crap from the Bush is extinguished, including Guantanamo...

slash 'n' burn...

To Save Lives, NATO Is Razing Booby-Trapped Afghan Homes By TAIMOOR SHAH and ROD NORDLAND

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — In the newly won districts around this southern city, American forces are encountering empty homes and farm buildings left so heavily booby-trapped by Taliban insurgents that the Americans have been systematically destroying hundreds of them, according to local Afghan authorities.

The campaign, a major departure from NATO practice in past military operations, is intended to reduce civilian and military casualties by removing the threat of booby traps and denying Taliban insurgents hiding places and fighting positions, American military officials said.

While it has widespread support among Afghan officials and even some residents, and has been accompanied by an equally determined effort to hand out cash compensation to homeowners, other local people have complained that the demolitions have gone far beyond what is necessary.

It would also seem to run counter to Gen. David H. Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy, which calls for respecting property as well as lives, and to run up against recent calls by President Hamid Karzai for foreign forces to lower their profile and avoid tactics that alienate Afghan civilians. There have been no reports of civilians casualties from the demolitions.

General Petraeus, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, has recently pointed to progress in routing the Taliban in Kandahar, thanks to 30,000 additional troops, although the insurgents have countered that they have simply gone into hiding to wait out the American push.

What they have left behind are vacant houses and farm buildings so heavily rigged that soldiers have started referring to them as house-borne improvised explosive devices.

In recent weeks, using armored bulldozers, high explosives, missiles and even airstrikes, American troops have taken to destroying hundreds of them, by a conservative estimate, with some estimates running into the thousands.

“We don’t know the accurate number of homes destroyed, but it’s huge,” said Zalmai Ayubi, the spokesman for the Kandahar provincial governor, Tooryalai Wesa, and who with the governor visited on Oct. 21. “It’s the insurgents and the enemy of the country that are to blame for this destruction, because they have planted mines in civilian houses and main roads everywhere.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/world/asia/17afghan.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

see toon at top...

permanence...

KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that he was in talks with the United States about the possible establishment of permanent US military bases in his war-ravaged country.

"From the statements made by US officials, US senators to the media and from what they have told us, yes, they have this desire," he said.

"This is an issue that we're in talks with them about."

But Karzai insisted that Afghanistan would have the final say on whether such bases would be allowed.

In January, influential US senator Lindsey Graham reportedly suggested permanent US bases in Afghanistan. At that time, Karzai's spokesman Waheed Omer said the issue had not been discussed with the United States.

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jlvyZ01KOoPnN8Xxsk6T1OoQljXA?docId=CNG.ca75d68733ba56c6dff1582ac6bf480a.31

see toon at top...

family feud...

At a time of unprecedented tension between the west and Hamid Karzai over the killing of civilians, Nato has accidentally shot dead one of the Afghan president's own family members during a botched night raid.

Officials in the southern province of Kandahar said Haji Yar Mohammad Karzai, a second cousin of the president, was killed during an operation by US special forces in Karz, the ancestral Karzai home on the outskirts of Kandahar city.

In what appears to have been a major intelligence failure, the 63-year-old tribal elder was mistaken for the father of a Taliban commander.

This week the UN released figures showing the total number of civilians killed last year by the coalition and the Taliban reached an all-time high of 2,777, reflecting an escalation of violence by both sides.

Mahmoud Karzai, one of the president's brothers, said he "smelled a very deep conspiracy" over the killing of Haji Yar Mohammad and said he feared Nato had been fed false information by someone from within the Karzai family.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/10/hamid-karzai-cousin-nato-death-conspiracy-afghanistan

pulped book...

The entire print run of a highly critical and embarrassing account of Britain's role in southern Afghanistan has been bought and pulped by the Ministry of Defence at a cost of more than £150,000.

A new edition, with some 50 words taken out, will be published this week despite continued opposition from within the ministry, officials said on Monday.

Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Real Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan, by Toby Harnden, says Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, the most senior soldier killed in war since the Falklands, lacked adequate equipment – including anti-IED protection – and sufficient manpower to do the job his soldiers were asked to do.

Thorneloe, a family friend of the author and commander of 1st Welsh Guards, was killed on 1 July 2009. The book draws from memos he sent to his commanders, including criticism of the British strategy.

The Guardian has obtained a copy of the book, which includes accounts of how civilians were killed by British forces. It describes a farmer being killed by a Javelin missile at night, how seven civilians, including six children, were killed by a 500lb bomb – an incident described by the Guardian from classified US material passed to WikiLeaks – and how eight civilians, including five children, were killed by a 500lb bomb fired by a French Mirage plane called in by British troops.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/mar/15/afghanistan-war-book-bought-pulped

Gus: is there no glory in war anymore?...

talking to the enemy...

Afghan president Hamid Karzai says the United States is holding talks with the Taliban, in the first official confirmation of such contacts after nearly 10 years of war.

But the US has declined to confirm or deny Mr Karzai's claims, made in a speech in Kabul.

Mr Karzai said an Afghan push towards peace talks had not yet reached a stage where the government and insurgents were meeting, but their representatives had been in touch.

"Peace talks are going on with the Taliban. The foreign military and especially the United States itself is going ahead with these negotiations," Mr Karzai said.

"The peace negotiations between [the] Afghan government and the Taliban movement are not yet based on a certain agenda or physical [meetings], there are contacts established."

The Afghan president is known for dropping headline-making remarks into speeches, but this is the first time he has publicly made these claims.

The US State Department is not saying whether the claim is true, only acknowledging a "broad range of contacts" in support of reconciliation.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/06/18/3247493.htm

 

 

see toon at top...

treason... for finding the brother...

The governor of Afghanistan's central bank, Abdul Qadeer Fitrat, has resigned and fled the country, saying his life is in danger for investigating fraud.

He said the government had interfered in his efforts to pursue those responsible for corruption at the privately-owned Kabul Bank.

Mr Fitrat was speaking from the US where he has residency. He says he will not return to Afghanistan.

An Afghan government spokesman said the resignation amounted to treason.

Waheed Omar, Afghan President Hamid Karzai's spokesman, also added that Mr Fitrat was himself under investigation.

The embezzlement at Kabul Bank, Afghanistan's largest private bank, almost led to its collapse last year.

Investigators say that the bank made hundreds of millions of dollars of inappropriate loans. It handles most of the government payroll, including salaries for policemen and teachers.

It was bailed out in September, which is when the central bank also took control of its finances. President Karzai has previously pledged to fully investigate those involved in the crisis.

'High profile figures'

"It was information from credible sources that my life was in danger and I cannot name any specific source for that but it was a credible information," Mr Fitrat told the BBC on Monday.

"During [the] last 10 months during Kabul Bank crisis, I continuously pressed for the creation of a special prosecution, for the creation of a special tribunal to investigate and prosecute those who were involved in Kabul Bank's fraud," he said.

He said he realised his life was in danger after he spoke to parliament and "exposed some people who are responsible for the crisis of Kabul Bank".

Earlier this year, Mr Fitrat publicly named in parliament high-profile figures who were allegedly involved.

Some of President Karzai's relatives, including his brother, Mahmoud Karzai, were among those named in connection with the scandal.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13935876

fragile country...

Karzai Adviser Is Killed at Kabul Home


By and ABDUL WAHEED WAFA


KABUL, Afghanistan — A close adviser to President Hamid Karzai who had been a fierce foe of the Taliban in Afghanistan’s south was killed Sunday night after a small team of gunmen stormed his walled home here in the capital.

The slain aide, Jan Mohammed Khan, was a former governor of the southern Oruzgan Province who had been one of Mr. Karzai’s trusted allies and a regular presence inside the presidential palace. He was killed alongside a member of Parliament from Oruzgan, Mohammed Hosham Watanwal.

The men’s deaths were confirmed by Gen. Mohammed Zahir, a police official in Kabul.

The killings marked another potentially heavy blow for Mr. Karzai, coming just days after his powerful half-brother was assassinated by a close associate in southern Afghanistan.

About 90 minutes after the attack began at 8:30 p.m., Afghan security forces still had not captured or killed all of the gunmen. It was unclear whether anyone else had been killed or wounded, or whether the assailants had taken hostages.

“The terrorists are still inside, in one of the rooms,” General Zahir said. “We are trying our best.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/18/world/asia/18afghanistan.html?hp=&pagewanted=print

outta there...

Facing a tough race in November, even though the Republican opposition is monumentally awful, President Obama has decided to declare victory in Afghanistan and get the hell out by the end of next year.

US defence secretary Leon Panetta made the announcement early yesterday. Downing Street later confirmed that British troops would step back from their lead combat role by the end of next year also.    
 
About time too.


Read more: http://www.theweek.co.uk/world-news/afghanistan-war/44974/terrible-truth-about-our-wasted-sacrifice-afghanistan#ixzz1lJJgy8kv

afghan tragedy...

 

TALIBAN insurgents launched a series of co-ordinated attacks across eastern Afghanistan today. In Kabul, the targets included the British and other embassies, the Afghan parliament and the Nato headquarters.

The strikes mark the biggest attack on the Afghan capital for six months and follow renewed pledges by both President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron to withdraw western troops and hand over security to Afghan forces.
 
The Taliban have admitted responsibility for today's attacks, which included "tens of suicide attackers" striking in the provinces of Logar, Paktia and Nangarhar as well as the capital city. In a statement they called the wave of attacks the start of their "spring offensive" which had been planned for "months".

The level of fatalities was not immediately clear, though several insurgents were reported dead in running street fights.

Read more: http://www.theweek.co.uk/world-news/afghanistan/46310/wests-afghan-policy-crisis-after-wave-taliban-attacks#ixzz1s9dNqcUo

see toon at top...

 

quitting the cuisine in afghanistan...

 

France took a major step toward winding down its activities in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan Dec. 8 with a ceremony for 153 returning combat soldiers — part of President François Hollande’s pledge to bring the nation’s fighting troops home by the end of 2013. Though the arrival of a final contingent of combat soldiers in France in the next few days will fully close that chapter, Saturday’s moving commemoration by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian thanking the nation’s military for the Afghan effort was designed to emphasize that France’s combat role has drawn to a close.

“It’s with the sentiment of a duty fulfilled that you’re returning to France…(and) being reunited with those you love and have missed so much,” said Le Drian on a tarmac in Cyprus beside a government Airbus waiting to take the soldiers back to Paris. “This was the promise that the President of the Republic made to the French people. It’s a promise fulfilled.”



Read more: http://world.time.com/2012/12/08/ceremony-for-returning-troops-closes-french-combat-mission-in-afghanistan/#ixzz2EXcFIsOl

 

See toon at top...

 

the withdrawing method...

AMERICAN and British troops are to ''accelerate'' the withdrawal from front-line fighting in Afghanistan by adopting an advisory role starting this northern spring, the US President, Barack Obama, and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai announced.
''It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty,'' Mr Obama told a joint news conference at the White House on Friday.
Coalition troops had been expected to give up their combat role this northern summer before a ''responsible'' withdrawal of the remaining 66,000 troops from Afghanistan in 2014. But that has been pushed forward after talks between Mr Obama and Mr Karzai.


Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/coalition-troops-to-accelerate-afghan-withdrawal-20130112-2cmfb.html#ixzz2Hnw5jHTN

still in it...

America has now passed the 17-year mark in Afghanistan. U.S. troops have been fighting there for longer than the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, and World War II combined. Yet Washington is further away than ever from anything that might pass for victory.

More than 2,300 American military personnel and 3,500 contractors have died in Afghanistan. The latest death occurred last week—Specialist James A. Slape from Morehead City, North Carolina. Another 1,100 allied soldiers have been killed, almost half of them from the United Kingdom. More than 20,000 Americans have been wounded. The direct financial cost has amounted to $2 trillion, with another $45 billion budgeted for this year.

And for what?

After so many years of senseless combat, Erik Prince’s proposal to turn the conflict over to contractors almost sounds reasonable. His lobbying efforts in Kabul have not been notably successful, but some day American personnel will come home. And then Washington’s friends in Afghanistan will find themselves on their own.

 

Read more:

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/americas-disastrous-occ...

 

See also:

US war, at perpetuity... forever... non stop... continually... uninterrupted...

 

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