Archive | South Asia

Afghanistan’s Opium Trade: A Free Market of Racketeers

NOVANEWS

A visit to Afghan opium fields challenges the notion that the Taliban controls the lucrative trade.

Featured image: A man in an opium-yielding poppy field, Dara-i Mazor, Nurgal district, Kunar province, Afghanistan (May 2017) (Source: Franz J. Marty)

DARA-I MAZOR, NURGAL, KUNAR, AFGHANISTAN — It is only a short drive into a side valley just off the busy main road between Jalalabad and Asadabad, the capitals of Afghanistan’s eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar. The narrow dusty road passes fields of golden blades of wheat that slightly sway in the light breeze. Beyond the fields and the scattered verdant trees, barren craggy hills frame the valley called Dara-i Mazor in Kunar’s district of Nurgal. Across the small river, some of the traditional mud houses resemble tiny bulky castles, hinting at the fact that Afghanistan’s violent past dates much further back than the U.S. or Soviet-led invasions.

Behind a low farm house that lies quietly in the shadows of surrounding trees, there is yet another wheat field. But next to it several patches of land are covered in other plants whose single green stems topped by golf-ball sized pods rise above the bushy leaves at their roots. It is opium-yielding poppy.

Opium has an analgesic effect and is the base for morphine, heroin, and other opioids that are used for medical purposes, but also for illegal drug consumption. Afghanistan accounts for some 70 percent of the global opium production, according to the World Drug Report 2016 of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Although poppy cultivation is concentrated in southern Afghanistan, it can be found throughout the country. And while opium production is more prevalent in ungoverned areas like Dara-i Mazor, it also exists in government-controlled zones, as security forces, often struggling to keep insurgents at bay, are hardly able to prevent poppy cultivation.

In Kunar, early May was the end of the short harvest season, which takes places right after the white or dark pink poppy flowers have withered and only the green capsules remain. This can be earlier or later in other regions of the country, depending on the local conditions.

The harvest itself is a labor-intensive task. Every single poppy pod has to be lanced with a tool with several tiny blades at its end. Once lanced, the opium latex immediately leaks out of the razor-thin scratches (in Dara-i Mazor the sap is a light pink, but experts say that it is usually white at first before it oxidates in the air, quickly turning to a pink and later dark brown color). The valuable latex is just liquid enough to drip out, but still gooey enough to stick to the pod and to not drop to the ground. Normally, the capsules are then left until the next day. However, given my short visit, the locals showed me right away how they skim the leaked-out opium from the pod with another tool that looks like a broad sickle.

Skimmed opium latex in a field in Dara-i Mazor (May 2017)

One farmer, a young man with a neatly trimmed beard and pitch black, greasy hair, stated that about 60 percent of his fields are poppy. And this is not an exception. Asked for his reason to plant poppy, he said that he is forced to do it because other crops would yield little profit. This was also asserted by other farmers in Nurgal and Shigal, another district of Kunar. However, they don’t claim that other crops would yield no profit, raising the question of whether they are only engaging in poppy cultivation for the higher profits that no licit crop can possibly generate.

But according to Dr. David Mansfield, a senior researcher for the London School of Economics and the Afghan Research & Evaluation Unit who has worked on opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan for almost two decades, profit-maximization is not the driving force behind the decision. Afghan farmers would rather try to balance their livelihoods, secure a certain degree of food self-sufficiency, use their soil sustainably (which also means changing or rotating different crops), and mitigate risks of crop failures. Thus, the monetary profit is only one of many factors in the farmers’ decisions.

In any event, Mansfield asserted that – in his years of experience across Afghanistan and despite allegations to the contrary – he has never met a single farmer that was physically coerced into cultivating opium. Reports also often suggest that farmers are de facto forced to sow poppy as they are dependent on advance payments that they can obtain for the future opium harvest or have no other choice than to produce opium to repay loans. However, sources explained that the system of advance payments on future harvests has dramatically decreased in past years and also exists for other crops. And although economic pressure plays a role, according to UNODC, “having outstanding loans did not emerge as a differentiating factor for cultivating opium since the percentage of farmers under debt or with outstanding loans were similar [whether they grew poppy or not].”

Hence, the often-portrayed image that insurgents or mafia-like groups exploit the farmers’ weaknesses, forcing them to cultivate opium, does not match the reality. The decision to sow poppy is rather  – sometimes more, sometimes less – freely taken by the farmers themselves.

Man skimming opium latex from a poppy capsule, Dara-i Mazor (May 2017)

In the subsequent sale of raw opium the farmers are far from being at the mercy of a cartel. Farmers in Nurgal and Shigal stated that numerous merchants come separately to the farms to buy opium and that they would usually only buy a very few kilograms – which is, even for a small farmer, only a fraction of his whole yield (according to the UNODC Afghanistan Opium Survey, in 2016 “the average opium yield amounted to 23.8 kilograms per hectare”). This makes opium even more attractive for farmers, as – contrary to other crops – they don’t have to transport their harvest over often underdeveloped and sometimes dangerous roads to a market.

Asked about the merchants, farmers described them as independent actors that try to make a profit by reselling the narcotic for a higher price, but assert that they do not belong to any specific group or cartel. This was confirmed by an opium trafficker who asked to not be identified. It was also confirmed by two experts, who added that – while there are certain regional differences – the sale of small portions of the opium yield to several independent merchants is the norm across Afghanistan.

This does not exclude the involvement of some larger, more powerful dealers or even criminal networks. But they don’t control the market and are just some among many actors. In this regard, the opium trafficker even asserted that bigger networks would usually only play a larger role once the raw opium is processed to heroin. This is, however, further down the chain and does not affect the farmers directly.

Given the above, the fluctuating price of opium at the farm-gate is not unfairly dictated by the buyers, but set according to various conditions of a rather free market. And even though it is a fraction of heroin prices on the end markets, it is still a small fortune by Afghan standards. UNODC put the average price of one kilogram of dry opium at the farm-gate in eastern Afghanistan in 2016 at $239. Farmers in Nurgal and Shigal as well as the opium trafficker claimed to sell dry opium even for 25,000 to 35,000 Pakistani rupees (about $240 to $335) per kilogram (the indication of Pakistani rupee is not out of the ordinary, as in parts of eastern Afghanistan, Pakistani rather than Afghan currency is the norm).

Raw opium from Dara-i Mazor (May 2017)

Such prices are hard to verify though and might be flawed. Moreover, setting this into perspective is difficult. Compared to the monthly salary of an average Afghan worker in the capital Kabul, which amounts to around $200, opium sales prices appear very high. However, it has to be taken into account that those prices are qualified by significant production costs and that the farmers live in a different socioeconomic setting.

Be that as it may, farmers sometimes even hold back raw opium, which does not spoil, in order to wait for better sales prices — yet another sign of a free market.

In view of all this and contrary to common perception, the opium sale at the Afghan farm-gate is not in the iron grip of the Taliban or powerful cartels, but rather a loose open market in which numerous independent farmers and racketeers try to get their share of this profitable illicit trade.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

Taliban Attacks NATO Convoy ”Video” 

NOVANEWS

On Friday, a Taliban suicide bomber driving a car bomb slammed into a convoy of NATO forces near Kandahar Airbase in Trank Pul area of Kandahar province.

Kandahar provincial governor spokesperson, Fazal Bari Baryalai, said the attack “totally destroyed” one of the vehicles carrying Romanian soldiers.

NATO’s spokesperson confirmed a “small number” of soldiers were wounded. However, the Taliban news agency Voice of Jihad claimed that at least seven NATO soldiers were killed in the attack.

According to Afghan sources, Afghan Army bases in Abgarmak and Chinaee areas in Ghormach district of Faryab province in northern Afghanistan are under the Taliban siege for two months now.

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said that the Afghan army is now working to reopen the way to the bases. Meanwhile, the Afghan military airdrops supplies to the besieged soldiers.

The Taliban is expanding rapidly in northern Afghanistan, especially in Faryab province. On Thursday, Voice of Jihad announced that the Taliban captured 5 villages – Qarai, Chakna, Balai Bam and Jawdana – in the province.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

Afghan protesters – US killing women and children

NOVANEWS

Will Afghanistan remain locked into this time warp of warlord feudalism?

[ Note: You just can’t make this stuff up. The US, after all these years and countless billions, has air-dropped leaflets asking Afghans to report Taliban positions, but used one of the most degrading images for Afghans possible, putting an Afghan face on a dog as it is being lead around by the Taliban.

This is the classic “shoot yourself in both feet” deal. We will never learn, as it seems we don’t want to. So this is another example of why America is not exceptional in the tradition sense. A case could be made for its being exceptionally brazen, rude, aggressive and insensitive.

Sure we give out a lot of money, but much of it with ulterior motives, and all of it now is borrowed money that will be on the backs of our current grandchildren. Nobody lets me give away money that someone else has to pay back. I fear that could be rather corrupting.

The main case I make in this interview is that if the US really wanted to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, then it would be going after a political settlement with the Taliban, which it is not. So one must assume that it wants the ongoing war to continue.

The biggest reason for the war seems to be that the Deep Staters do not want Afghanistan’s natural resources brought onto the market any time soon. But I think they are fine with the heroin traffic, as they are getting a cut of that unholy pie, year after year.

This all goes back to 9-11, and makes the case as to why it was done, that and our $20-trillion debt now, and whose pockets do you thinks that money went into? They are the number one suspects… Jim W. Dean ]

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What a huge mistake these stupid leaflets were!

–  First published  …  September  12, 2017  –

In Afghanistan, people have rallied against the presence of U-S troops in their country. The rally near the Bagram airbase came after U-S troops spread leaflets that the protesters deemed offensive toward Muslims. The demonstrators set tires on fire and waved placards slamming U-S president Donald Trump.

They said Washington had been bombing Afghans and killing women and children throughout the country. Earlier this month, Trump ordered a troop surge in Afghanistan. The country has been witnessing insecurity years after the U-S attacked it in 20-01.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

GM Mustard and the Indian Government: The Game Is up, the Emperor Has No Clothes!

NOVANEWS

The next stage of the case involving the commercialisation of genetically modified (GM) mustard in India is to be heard on 15 September in the Supreme Court (SC). GM mustard could be India’s first commercially cultivated GM food crop, which could very well open the floodgates to the commercialisation of various other food crops that are in the pipeline.

Lead petitioner Aruna Rodrigues is seeking a moratorium on the environmental release of any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in the absence of comprehensive, transparent and rigorous biosafety protocols in the public domain and biosafety studies conducted by independent expert bodies the results of which are made available in public domain.

The petitioners argue that the present circumstances warrant a prohibition on commercial release of DMH-11 mustard in view of the fact that:

  • Mustard is a crop of origin/diversity in India
  • DMH-11 and parental lines contain herbicide tolerant (HT) traits
  • DMH11 has failed to satisfy the prior requirement of ‘need’ of this crop as evidenced from the results of the open field trials
  • The conduct of Biosafety Research Level (‘BRL’) trials were comprehensively flawed and are invalid

In this ongoing saga, two government ‘additional affidavits’ were recently submitted to the SC, following the recommendations of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to permit the environmental release of DMH-11 and its transgenic parental lines.

The government says that only 15 kilograms of DMH-11 would be planted in the upcoming winter season (beginning from Oct 2017) to demonstrate its yield potential and commercial viability. It has revealed plans for hybrid seed production in preparation for commercial use in approx. two years.

It also reiterates its claims that DMH-11 is not a HT crop. It claims it has been developed through ‘hybridization technology’. The government averred that DMH-11 does not pose any risk to human/animal health or the environment. Furthermore, it urged that the DMH-11 and other hybrids using this technology are necessary to improve yields in mustard in India which has been ‘stagnant around 7-8 MT for the last 20 years’.

The government has not only projected the hybrid seed production of DMH-11 as an innocuous and harmless procedure, but also revealed its predisposed mind to permit commercialisation of GE Mustard.

Exposing the government’s claims

In response to this, Aruna Rodrigues has submitted a 45-page ‘Addtional Affidavit Reply’ (citing all relevant sources and in-depth arguments) to the SC to rebut the claims by the government.

The basis of the rebuttal is stated on pages 3 and 4:

“At the outset, it is stated that the above [government] Affidavits hide more than they reveal. The stand of the Central Government reflects a high degree of technical incompetence and a deliberate intent to obfuscate science. The claims made are also straightforwardly untrue; broad statements, without evidence, presented as fact.”

Based on the Report on Assessment for Food & Environmental Safety (AFES) submitted by the Sub-Committee of GEAC, the government argues that DMH-11 does not pose any risk to human/animal health or the environment.

In response to this, Rodrigues states:

“As such, the AFES Report is not a detailed scientific description of the biosafety of HT DMH-11. The dossier with the raw biosafety data submitted by CGMCP [Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at the University of Delhi, which has developed DMH -11] running into thousands of pages is still concealed, for which the Petitioners were constrained to initiate contempt proceedings against the Respondents which is currently pending for consideration by this Hon’ble Court.”

While Rodrigues expresses deep concern about the government’s attempts to confuse and even mislead on matters of core importance to biosafety, she is also concerned about minutes of a crucial GEAC meeting being suppressed.

The affidavit then discusses the recent report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science & Technology, Environment and Forests: ‘Genetically Modified Crops and its Impact on Environment’.

The report is scathing in its criticism of the regulation and risk assessment of GMOs, including GM HT mustard. It finds relevant high-level agencies as shockingly casual in their approach to GMOs in agriculture and “takes serious note of the apathy of the concerned government agencies” about the impact of GMOs on the environment (including agriculture) and on human and animal health. It finds the current regulatory framework to lack rigour, expertise, transparency and is seriously ‘conflicted’ (conflict of interest).

The Committee strongly believes that unless the bio-safety and socioeconomic desirability is evaluated by a participatory, independent and transparent process and a retrieval and accountability regime is put in place, no GM crop should be introduced in the country. The report states that with GM mustard being an herbicide tolerant GMO, there is clear evidence on the adverse impacts of such GMOs from elsewhere in the world.

The Committee argues that the government should reconsider its decision to commercialise GM crops in the country and recommends that the whole process of evaluation should be carried out by an independent agency consisting of the people of impeccable credentials in the relevant field to ensure that there is no violation of the existing regulations in this regard.

The above findings are entirely in agreement with four previous official government reports. A short description of these reports is contained in the affidavit, followed by a discussion of the history of regulatory delinquency with special reference to events surrounding GM brinjal. Regrettably and alarmingly, in HT mustard DMH-11, India faces a repeat of the disastrous regulatory history of Bt brinjal, which was eventually prevented from being commercially cultivated.

The affidavit then goes on to deconstruct each aspect of the government’s case for GM mustard. It exposes a catalogue of deceptions and misrepresentations, not least the government’s newly concocted claim that HT stands for ‘hybridisation technology’ and not ‘herbicide tolerant’, which – given the evidence set out by Rodrigues in the affidavit – appears to be a desperate attempt to backtrack given the massive dangers and impracticalities associated with HT crops in a country like India.

As in previous court documents and in various other literature, it is made clear that GM mustard does not improve yields and that there is in fact no need for it. Much is also made of the field trails that were based on invalid tests, poor science and a lack of rigour and is supported by a good degree of technical data and argument. The conclusion is there has been a “regulatory vacuum” and the SC is being misled by the government.

Rodrigues is scathing in her criticisms, not least in the proven dangers posed by the herbicide glufosinate and the contamination of India’s mustard germplasm. The government’s actions indicate:

“a disregard for India’s priceless biodiversity, a heritage that we must ferociously guard and also status as a biodiversity ‘hot spot’… lip service is paid to the certain contamination of India’s germplasm from HT DMH 11. This is outstanding issue that Petitioners emphasise repeatedly, because it is critical. If the GM ‘genie’ escapes, it cannot be bottled again.”

Rodrigues adds:

“In reality, the ruse is to obtain the authorisation of this Hon’ble Court now, to ‘creeping commercialisation’ which will be undertaken in 2 stages. This first stage, (limited to 15 kg of seed), will be the backdoor entry to eventual full commercial release sometime in the future, when there is sufficient seed produced from this first stage for full commercial planting.”

Given the conflicts of interest at work in the regulatory process, the invalid field tests, the lack of transparency, the proven lack of need, the threat to India’s mustard biodiversity and the dangers of glufosinate to health and to agriculture in a nation of small farmers using a multi-cropping system, isn’t it time for the government to come clean? Isn’t it time to follow the recommendation set out in numerous high-level reports.

The developers at Delhi University, the government and the GEAC have been found out.

No one wants GM mustard. Not farmers, not the various states. And do we hear the public speaking out in favour of it?

The game is up. The emperor has no clothes. The fraud has been exposed.

For those who have not been following the issue of GM mustard in India and its implications, additional insight may be obtained by accessing Colin’s previous articles on the matter here.

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The People of Afghanistan Have Had Truly Enough of Western Imperialist Barbarism

NOVANEWS

Interview with Andre Vltchek by Alessandro Biancchi, Chief Editor of Anti-Diplomatico

 

Alessandro Bianchi: The geographic location of Afghanistan has always occupied a central role. The April peace talks between Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Russia and China seemed to have put an end to the persistent and dominant American presence in the country. What’s your opinion?

Andre Vltchek: What you have mentioned is extremely important, but I’m not ready to celebrate, yet. This could be, at least in theory, the first step towards the end of one of the most destructive and brutal occupations in NATO’s history, or in what the US mainstream press likes to describe as “the longest American war.”

Let us also not call it only the “American presence”. I know some Europeans lately love to portray themselves as some kind of victims, but they are definitely not. Europe is at the core of this entire global nightmare. And the US is nothing else other than its creation: it is Europe’s offspring. In many ways, the United States is Europe.

The UK is now well behind this horror through which Afghanistan is being forced to go through, at least theoretically; a sadistic revenge for all former British defeats in the country. The UK is responsible for more massacres worldwide than any other country on Earth. And now it is shaping the US and in fact the entire Western imperialism, ideologically. Its Machiavellianism, its propaganda machine is second to none.

What I can confirm from my first-hand experience is that by now the people of Afghanistan have had truly enough of this Western imperialist barbarism. They are exhausted after 16 years of the horror invasion. They dislike the West; mistrust the West… But most of them are silent, because they are constantly being frightened into submission. And also remember: collaboration with the Western occupation forces is now the greatest ‘business’ in the country. Afghan diplomats, many politicians, countless military commanders, Western-funded NGOs, even thousands of educators, are all serving the occupiers. Billions of dollars are being made from such shameful collaboration.It is all one huge business, and the mafia of servile Afghan ‘journalists’, diplomats, governors and ‘educators’ will never leave their lucrative positions voluntarily.

Western colonialism corrupts! It corrupts one generation after another in all conquered, occupied countries.

Afghans who are pure, Afghans who are proud, true patriots with beautiful hearts (and there are still many of such people in this country that became one of my favorite places on Earth) have presently no power, no say.

Fortunately, even the elites are now realizing that there is no way forward under the present regime, and under the present foreign rule.

In Kabul and in the provinces, people are beginning to look towards Russia, China, but also Iran, even India. Despite its terrible past track record in this part of the world, even Pakistan cannot be ignored, anymore. Anything is better than NATO.

AB: Like in other parts of the world, the presence of American troops does not fully explain the long-term goals of military planners. Afghanistan in some respects resembles a similar situation to Southeast Asia. In South Korea, the American presence has persisted since 1950, and with it the destabilization of the Korean peninsula. The American surge will not change the delicate balance negotiated between the parties back in April and it will not affect the efforts of Moscow and Beijing to stabilize the country. How do you define the US presence today in Afghanistan?

AV: I define it as inhuman, barbaric and thoroughly racist. And I’m not talking about the US presence only, but also about the European presence, particularly the British one.

There could be absolutely no doubts regarding how deep once-socialist Afghanistan has sank under the NATO cruelty. It is enough to go even to the sites of the UNDP or the WHO and it all there, in details: Afghanistan is now the least ‘developed’ (using HDI criteria) country in Asia. Afghan people have the lowest life expectancy on their continent.

The US alone claims that it has managed to spend, since the invasion in 2001, between 750 billion and 1.2 trillion dollars. That’s huge, an astronomical amount, even bigger than the entire Marshall Plan after WWII (adjusted to today’s dollar)! But has it been spent to help the Afghan people? Of course not! It has gone mainly into corrupting of ‘elites’ and their offspring, into the military, into the salaries of foreign contractors. Huge military bases were built; some were at some point decommissioned, others were moved somewhere else. Airports were constructed – all of them military ones. Private Western security firms are having a ball. I once calculated that if all that money were to be equally divided between all Afghans, the country would have had a much higher income per capita than relatively affluent Malaysia, for 16 consecutive years!

What the West has done to Afghanistan is insane! It is Orwell meeting Huxley, and all mixed with the worst nightmares of painters like George Grosz and Otto Dix.

Old trolley bus lines built by the former Czechoslovakia are gone; only stumps are left. But so much is still surviving. Soviet apartment buildings, so-called Makroyans, are still standing and flats there are in great demand to date. Water ducts in the countryside were built by Soviet Union, and so were irrigation canals around Jalalabad and elsewhere. India built dams. China constructed public medical facilities. What did the West create? Nothing else other than total misery, armed conflicts and above all–countless military barracks, tall concrete walls and fences, the drug trade, intellectual prostitution and as always, dark and complete nihilism!

In 2007, around 700 Afghan civilians were killed by Western airstrikes alone, a great increase even when compared with 2006.

Georgian military contractors who are working for the US occupation army recently told me: US have total spite for Afghan people. They even destroy unused food at its military bases, instead of giving it to starving children.

People of Afghanistan know perfectly well who are their friends, and who are enemies.

AB: The world is changing, and more and more fruitful efforts to replace the chaos wrought by US policies can be seen. The road to economic prosperity and a re-established unity among the Afghan people is still a work in progress, but once the country manages to establish its independence, Washington will have a hard time dictating conditions. Will countries like Russia, China and India be able to prevent a dangerous escalation in Afghanistan?

AV: Many people in Afghanistan are actually dreaming about true independence, and most of them remember with great love, all the kindness and internationalism given to them by the Soviet people. Unlike the Westerners, the Soviets came here first as teachers, doctors, nurses and engineers. They shared with the locals all that they had. They lived among them. They never hid behind fences. To date, in Afghanistan, you say you are Russian, and dozens of people will embrace you, invite you to their homes. It is all in stark contrast to the Western propaganda, which says that Afghans dislike Russians!

When it comes to Russia and China, yes, both countries acting in concert would be able to bring economic prosperity and social justice to Afghanistan. I’m not so sure about India, which is, until now, clearly sitting on two chairs, but definitely China and Russia are ready and able to help.

The problem is that Afghanistan is still very far from any sort of independence. The West has occupied it for 16 years, that’s terrible enough. But the country has also been sacrificed for the even more sinister designs of the US and NATO, for much longer than that: Afghanistan has been, for decades, a training ground for the pro-western jihadi cadres, starting with Al-Qaeda/Mujahedeen (during the ‘Soviet War’ and the war against Afghan socialism). Now the Taliban is ruining the country, but also, increasingly, ISIS are murdering all in sight here. Recently, ISIS have been arriving from Syria and Lebanon, where they are in the process of being defeated by the Syrian army, by the Russians, but also by the Lebanese forces and Hezbollah. The ISIS was, as is well known, created by the West and its allies in the Gulf.

This is essential to understand: two countries that the West wants to fully destabilize are Russia and China. In both of them, Islamist fundamentalists have been fighting and bringing horrible damage. The West is behind all this. And it is using and sacrificing Afghanistan which is absolutely perfect for the Western imperialist designs due to its geographical location, but also because it is now fully destabilized and in a state of chaos. In Afghanistan, NATO is maintaining ‘perpetual conflict’. Jihadi cadres can be easily hardened there, and then they can be ‘exported’; to go and fight somewhere in Northwest China or in the Central Asian parts of Russia.

The destruction of Afghanistan is actually a well-planned genocidal war of the West against the Afghan people. But the country is also a training ground for jihadists who will eventually be sent to fight against Russia and China.

AB: While the United States exhales the last breaths as a declining global power, no longer able to impose its will, it lashes out in pointless acts like lobbing 60 cruise missiles at Syria or sending 4,000 troops to Afghanistan. Such acts do not change anything on the ground or modify the balance of forces in Washington’s favor. They do, however, have a strong impact on further reducing whatever confidence remains in the US, closing the door to opportunities for dialogue and cooperation that might have otherwise got on the table.

AV: Here I have to strongly disagree. I’m almost certain that the West in general, and the United States in particular, are clearly aware of what they are doing. The US has some of the most sinister colonial powers as its advisers, particularly the United Kingdom.

The US will not simply go down the drain without a great fight, and don’t ever think that Europe would either. These two parts of the world were built on the great plunder of the planet. They still are. They cannot sustain themselves just from the fruits of their brains and labor. They are perpetual thieves. The US can never be separated from Europe. The US is just one huge branch growing from an appalling trunk, from the tree of European colonialism, imperialism and racism.

Whatever the US, Europe and NATO are presently doing is brilliantly planned. Never under-estimate them! It is all brutal, sinister and murderous planning, but from a strictly strategic point of view, it is truly brilliant!

And they will never go away on their own! They will have to be fought and defeated. Otherwise they are here to stay: in Afghanistan, in Syria, or anywhere else.

AB: What is the role of Italian troops that you have seen in your last visit to Afghanistan?

Italian troops took over ancient Citadel in Herat City (Source: Andre Vltchek)

AV: It is a usual cocktail consisting of what Italian fascism has been made of throughout its colonialist, fascist and NATO eras: a medley of cruelty, hypocrisy, as well as some great hope in Rome that Italy could finally become a competent and ‘respected’ occupier… I saw the Italian troops in Herat… They occupied an ancient citadel of the city, jumping like members of some second-rate ballet troupe all around, just because some high-ranking Italian officer was bringing his family to visit the site. It was all tremendously embarrassing… I still have some photos from that ‘event’. But the best thing about Italians as occupiers is that they can hardly be taken seriously; they are disorganized, chaotic, and hedonistic even during war.

I actually love to see them in such places like Afghanistan, because they do very little damage. They are true showoffs. The French, Brits, and the US – they are efficient and brutal, true killing machines. Italians are still better at making movies, writing poetry and cooking, than murdering locals in occupied foreign countries.

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Foreign Capital Dictates India’s Development Agenda

NOVANEWS

Foreign Capital Dictates India’s Development Agenda: Cultural Imperialism and the Seeds of Catastrophe, Ripping Up India’s Social Fabric

 

Foreign capital is dictating the prevailing development agenda in India. The aim is to replace current structures with a system of industrial agriculture suited to the needs of Western agribusiness, food processing and retail concerns (see this). The plan is for a fraction of the population left in farming working on contracts for large suppliers and large chain supermarkets offering a diet of highly processed, denutrified, genetically altered food based on crops soaked with chemicals and grown in increasingly degraded soils according to an unsustainable model of agriculture that is less climate/drought resistant, less diverse and unable to achieve food security.

Unfortunately, India’s political elites seem to be hellbent on capitulating to the needs of foreign players and their mindset that implies ‘poorer’ nations must be helped out of their awful ‘backwardness’ by the West and its powerful corporations and billionaire ‘philanthropists’. As with Monsanto and the Gates Foundation in Africa and the ‘helping’ of Africans by imposing a controlling system of agriculture, there is more than a hint of ethnocentricity and the old colonialist mentality at work.

The type of ‘development’ or ‘globalisation’ being rolled out by Washington and the World Bank is based on a need to homogenise cultures, production and consumption across the world because powerful transnational corporations’ business models rely on fast profits and global uniformity.

We need look no further than farming to see this at work. To understand what has happened to agriculture, whether in the West or in India, we must begin with the most basic element: how seeds have become increasingly uniform, less genetically diverse and subject to the control of corporate interests.

Eradicating seed diversity

In his report for The Ecologist, Oliver Tickell notes that for millennia, cereals were grown as ‘landraces’. Every field would include maybe half a dozen separate cereal species, divisible into as many as 200 varieties. Each would embody considerable genetic diversity. During the 19th century, however, farmers began to pick out specific lines that yielded higher returns under ideal agronomic conditions. Then, in search of greater stability and uniformity, crop breeders selected single seeds from these lines, bulked them up over successive plantings, then named and marketed them as distinct varieties.

Shortly before the first world war, these named varieties were hybridised in search of the ideal combination of agronomic qualities, putting together, for example, traits for large seed heads and short straw to increase yields yet further (under ideal conditions) and increase profitability for ‘efficient’ farmers.

As a result, plant breeders eradicated genetic diversity. As crops are genetically uniform, they can no longer evolve in the field to withstand insects and fungi and have to be constantly sprayed with pesticides. Moreover, the short straw length means that more of the plants’ energy goes into the grain – but then they can’t grow up above the weeds, so the system relies on repeated use of herbicides.

The use of these proprietary seeds and synthetic chemical inputs used to make them develop is a huge money-spinner for agribusiness companies. While in certain cases, yields have increased, there have been massive environmental, social and economic costs for the type of Green Revolution agriculture that has been rolled out, not least in terms of bad food and diets, degraded soils, water pollution and scarcity, poor health and the destruction of formerly largely self-sufficient rural communities and an increasing dependence on fossil fuels (transportation of food across greater distances, reliance on oil/hydrocarbon-based inputs) with all the implications that entails for climate change.

And as for climate change, genetically diverse crops are now needed more than ever; crops that have evolved to meet changing conditions, producing reliable yields all the time, rather than maximum yield when everything is just right but with the risk of total crop failure when you get flood, or drought, or some new insect or fungus or virus.

The eradication of seed diversity went much further than merely prioritising corporate seeds: it deliberately sidelined traditional seeds kept by farmers that were actually higher yielding. For example, the scientist R.H. Richharia was the director of the Central Rice Research Institute in Cuttack at the time of the Green Revolution in India.

Richharia’s research showed that several indigenous rice varieties gave high yields without the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. Unfortunately, these traditional varieties were ignored in favour of the newer corporate seeds. These traditional different varieties are ideal needed for different conditions. Richharia documented the existence of indigenous high-yielding varieties, early-maturing varieties, drought-resistant varieties, scented varieties, special flavour varieties and the like.

Once we began to see genetic diversity being eradicated in the field, what we also saw was a change in farming practices towards chemical-intensive monocropping, often for export or for far away cities rather than local communities, and ultimately the undermining or eradication of self-contained rural economies, traditions and cultures.

Cultural imperialism and the eradication of indigenous culture

Green Revolution technology and ideology imported from the West has merely served to undermine an indigenous farming sector that once catered for the diverse dietary needs and climatic conditions of India and it has actually produced and fuelled drought, degraded soilsillnesses and malnutrition, farmer distress and many other issues.

Environmental scientist Viva Kermani locates India’s traditional farming practices within the framework of deep-seated cultural and spiritual meaning. She notes that centuries before the appearance of the modern-day environmental movement, the shruti (Vedas, Upanishads) and smruti (Ramayana, Mahabharata, Puranas, other scriptures) instructed people that the animals and plants found in India are sacred; that like humans, our fellow creatures, including plants have consciousness; and, therefore, all aspects of nature are to be revered.

The Vedic deities have deep symbolism and many layers of existence. One such association is with ecology. Surya is associated with the sun, the source of heat and light that nourishes everyone; Indra is associated with rain, crops, and abundance; and Agni is the deity of fire and transformation and controls all changes. There was also Vrikshayurveda – an ancient Sanskrit text on the science of plants and trees. It contains details about soil conservation, planting, sowing, treatment, propagating, how to deal with pests and diseases and a lot more.

On the other hand, Kermani notes that the Western religions, especially Christianity, viewed this nature worship as paganism, failing to recognise the scientific and spiritual basis of the relationship between man and nature and how this is the only way to sustain ecological balance.

Similarly, Vandana Shiva outlines the traditional knowledge of women and the biodiversity that protects the earth are threatened by the monocultures, intensive chemical input, and large processing factories that come with GM Mustard – the next push in the treadmill of Green Revolution technology. Women’s caretaking of the seed, food and sacredness of mustard is to be stripped away, while local oil mills are shut down and corporations take over the value chain from seed-to-oil.

In trying to displace a traditional pre-existing system of production with one that is controlled by Western corporations (which, as Kermani implies, regards nature as something to be dominated and subjugated by corporations in a quest for power and profit), there is an underlying assumption that the Indian farmer is backward, ignorant and in need of ‘help’. This type of cultural hegemony helps legitimise the increasing economic domination of Indian food and agriculture by foreign interests.

But nothing could be further from the truth. As described in this paper in the Journal of South Asian Studies, for thousands of years farmers experimented with different plant and animal specimens acquired through migration, trading networks, gift exchanges or accidental diffusion. By learning and doing, trial and error, new knowledge was blended with older, traditional knowledge systems. The farmer possesses acute observation, good memory for detail and transmission through teaching and story-telling.

Moreover, the papers’s authors Marika Vicziany and Jagjit Plahe argue that smallholder farmers (the backbone of Indian agriculture) have traditionally engaged in risk minimising strategies. They took measures to manage drought, grow cereals with long stalks that can be used as fodder, engage in cropping practices that promote biodiversity, ethno-engineer soil and water conservation, use self-provisioning systems on farm recycling and use collective sharing systems such as managing common resource properties.

Farmers know their micro-environment, so they can plant crops that mature at different times, thereby facilitating more rapid crop rotation without exhausting the soil. By contrast, the authors argue that large-scale industrially-based agricultural production erodes biodiversity by depleting the organisms that live in soil, and making adverse changes to the structure of the soil and the kind of plants that can be grown in such artificially-created environments.

Vicziany and Plahe note that many of the practices of small farmers which were once regarded as primitive or misguided are now recognised as sophisticated and appropriate. For instance, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that globally just 20 cultivated plant species account for 90 percent of all the plant-based food consumed by humans. This narrow genetic base of the global food system has put food security at serious risk.

It is no surprise that various high-level reports have thus called for agroecology and smallholder farmers to be prioritised and invested in order to achieve global sustainable food security. Instead, what we see is (despite progress in Sikkim and Andhra Pradesh) the marginalisation of organic agriculture by corporate interests, not least in India by the powerful agrochemical lobby.

The authors conclude that traditional food production systems depend on using the knowledge and expertise of village communities and cultures in contrast to prioritising imported, industrial–commercial inputs. The widespread but artificial conditions created by the latter work against the survival of traditional knowledge, which creates and sustains unique indigenous farming practices and food culture.

Given that India is still very much an agrarian-based economy with the majority still employed in agriculture or agriculture-related activities, what we continue to see in India is an attack by foreign capital on the social, economic and cultural fabric of the nation.

Whether it is fuelled by Bill Gates, the World Bank’s neoliberal-based rhetoric about ‘enabling the business of agriculture’, or The World Economic Forum’s ‘Grow’ strategy, the implication is that the world’s farmers must capitulate to the West and its powerful corporations and a globalised, corrupt system of capitalism that will funnel profits to these companies while hooking farmers on a chemical treadmill.

What we currently see is the capturing of markets and global supply chains for the benefit of transnational corporations involved in food production. We see the destruction of natural habitat in Indonesia to produce palm oil. We see the use of cynical lies (linked to palm oil production) to corrupt India’s food system with genetically modified seeds. We witness the devastating impact on farmers and rural communities. We see the degradation of soils, health and water resources.

And, in places like India, we also see the transnational corporate commercialisation and displacement of localised productive systems: systems centred on smallholder/family farms that are more productive and sustainable, produce a healthier and more diverse diet, are better for securing local and regional food security and are the life-blood of communities.

Farms worked by farmers who Viva Kermani says have

“legitimate claims to being scientists, innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridisation experts are being reduced to becoming recipients of technical fixes and consumers of the poisonous products of a growing agricultural inputs industry.”

The same farmers whose seeds and knowledge was stolen by corporations to be bred for proprietary chemical-dependent hybrids, now to be genetically engineered.

We also see the ripping up of India’s social fabric all for the bottom line of corporate profit.

Posted in India0 Comments

Iran, India seem to be parting ways on long coveted giant gas field

NOVANEWS

Indian PM Narendra Modi

Press TV

Iran’s Ministry of Petroleum says it has started preliminary talks with Russians to develop Farzad B but negotiations also continue with the Indians who have long coveted the giant gas field.

“For the development of the Farzad B field, we are pursuing three separate paths in parallel, but none of the options is definite yet,” director of the integrated planning at the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) Karim Zobeidi said on Monday.

The third path is the implementation of a development study plan in cooperation with a foreign consultant and Iran’s Petropars company, the official explained.

Zobeidi said negotiations with the Indians have not achieved satisfactory results but they have not stopped either and that Iran was pursuing preliminary talks with a Russian company as the second path.

“Along these two routes, the study of the development of Farzad A and B and the feasibility of the injection of gas from these fields into Aghajari (oil field) in cooperation with a foreign consultant and Petropars company is in progress,” he added.

Indian companies discovered the Farzad B gas field in Iran in 2008 and have bid several times for the development rights.

The Indians were supposed to develop the field after its exploration, but they stopped their activities after the West intensified sanctions on the Islamic Republic in 2012.

With the lifting of the sanctions, India once again called for the development of Farzad B by ONGC Videsh which is the overseas investment arm of the country’s biggest energy exploration firm.

According to an agreement, the Indians were first to submit a technical plan and then a financial proposal for the development of the field, but Iran did not agree with the other side’s financial proposals.

In the absence of an agreement between Iran and India, the development plan for Farzad B will be put to international tender.

In May, Minister of Petroleum Bijan Zangeneh announced that Iran had signed a basic agreement with Russia’s energy giant Gazprom over the development of Farzad B.

Indians shift attention to ‘Israel’

On Monday, Reuters cited India’s Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan as saying that state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corp planned to bid for disputed Israeli offshore oil-and-gas exploration blocks.

A high-ranking Indian delegation visited Israel last month to discuss taking part in the tender for blocks in the Mediterranean Sea, the news agency reported.

“We will definitely bid for ‘Israel’s’ oil-and-gas blocks,” Reuters quoted Pradhan as saying.

New Delhi has deep military ties with Tel Aviv but they reportedly seek to expand their relationship to other sectors such as energy and technology following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to ‘Israel’ in July.

According to Reuters, ‘Israeli’ officials were pleased with the visit by the Indian economic team, while many oil majors have been hesitant to enter the ‘Israeli’ market, fearing a backlash from oil-rich Arab states.

Lebanon has a long-standing dispute with ‘Israel’ which stands accused of stealing Arab resources.

Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has said ‘Israel’ was overtly stealing Lebanon’s underwater oil and gas reserves off the coast of south Lebanon. Hezbollah has warned that it would use force to protect Lebanon’s resources.

The gas discoveries have created a new source of friction between Lebanon and ‘Israel’, which have clashed repeatedly.

Lacking in natural resources, ‘Israel’ has said it had discovered two fields thought to contain about 24 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, enough to make it energy self-sufficient for decades. Lebanese leaders have said the reserves were a “golden opportunity” for Lebanon to service its huge debt and rebuild its economy.

Posted in India, Iran0 Comments

Endless Regional Chaos: American Presence in Afghanistan

The geographic location of Afghanistan has always occupied a central role in many geopolitical studies. Donald Trump’s reasons for reinforcing US troops in the region are driven by the continuing US need to prevent a complete Eurasian integration among regional powers.

The April peace talks between Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Russia and China seemed to have put an end to the persistent and dominant American presence in the country. In Washington, following fifteen years of war and a series of failures, many had come to the conclusion that the time had come for the United States to return home.

Trump had throughout his electoral campaign criticized the foreign policy of his predecessors, giving the indication that he would be looking to leave Afghanistan once he assumed the presidency.

The road plan for Afghanistan laid out by the April peace talks seemed to offer the prospect of national reconciliation between the Taliban and the central authority in Kabul, assisted by parties with great interest in the country like India and Pakistan, given their geographic proximity, as well as Russia, China and Turkey.

The first talks in April 2017 capitalized on America’s absence at the conference as well as on the will of the protagonists to reach an agreement after fifteen years of war and terror. Afghanistan is a key crossroad in the eastward expansion strategy that illustrates the special partnership between Russia and China, as seen with the steady progress of the Silk Road 2.0 initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union. Given Afghanistan’s geographic position, sharing boundaries with Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, it is useful to emphasize the role the country could play as a commercial and energy hub in the not too distant future.

Due to incompetence or perhaps due to facing insurmountable pressures, Donald Trump is undergoing a gradual and inexorable diminution with the elimination of all the most representative members of his administration. At the same time, the appointment of military personnel to civilian roles has pushed the administration into unexplored directions not foreshadowed in the electoral campaign. Trump spoke of less US military presence in the internal affairs of other nations. But as we shall see, nothing could be further from the truth.

The appointment of Generals McMaster, Kelly and Mattis (Mattis perhaps being the most powerful US defense secretary since the end of World War II) is Trump’s attempt to withstand and bargain with the most significant elements of America’s deep state. A strong military component in the White House helps ensure continuity in US foreign policy. Contrary to what was professed during the elections, Donald Trump immediately traded American foreign policy in exchange for explicit GOP backing for key legislation that will help secure a 2020 re-election. Without bills on health, tax and immigration reform being passed, there will be no arguments in favor of the GOP and Trump during the midterm and presidential elections in 2018 and 2020 respectively.

The deep state in Washington has slowly but inexorably taken over Trump’s presidency, a task made all the simpler by Trump’s character, which dismisses his lack of experience with an overweening self-confidence. The military component of the deep state, in concert with GOP leaders, took less than six months to quash Trump’s electoral promises and turn the president’s foreign policy into a dangerous reprise of the Obama and Bush years.

More and more frequently, American intervention in foreign lands lead to situations of uncontrollable chaos, with no real central authority able to govern and obey Washington’s orders. The current state of the Middle East is reflective of this. In Afghanistan, Washington, especially Mattis, is cognizant of the country’s rebirth under Sino-Russian leadership after fifteen years of America’s presence. This is a scenario that the US deep state is not willing to tolerate.

Leaving aside Afghanistan’s huge amounts of natural resources (about one trillion in precious metals), as well as its strategic location linking east and west, a peaceful Afghanistan led by a single central authority would hardly cohere with US objectives in the country. The US loves to consider itself the indispensable nation for peace in Afghanistan, when actually it is the main obstacle to peace.

For American foreign policy continuity, Afghanistan needs to remain in a chaotic situation. Above all, the US military industrial complex is not willing to surrender its political and military power in the country, only to be substituted by Moscow or Beijing. With these unofficial motives, General Mattis announced a surge of several thousand American troops to the country. It is immediately clear that numerically and tactically, four or five thousand soldiers will make no difference. The intent is purely demonstrative, as seen in Syria with a few missiles lobbed at an empty airbase. The purpose is to send a clear and unambiguous message to Russia, China, Pakistan and even India, to the effect that without American consensus, no strategic reorganization is permissible in Afghanistan.

General Mattis and all those who for decades have been constantly thinking of MacKinder’s geopolitical theory (Heartland Theory) are aware of the strategic importance of keeping Afghanistan hostile towards regional powers like China and Russia. The USSR’s war in defense of the country, and the socialist superpower’s subsequent collapse, offers a historical warning.

In April, Moscow and Beijing, with the tacit approval of New Delhi and Islamabad, launched a peace process in Kabul that should have facilitated talks between the central authority and the Taliban to bring about a truce that would bring to an end the violence and destruction that had over fifteen years left the country bleeding in endless poverty and suffering.

The American surge will not advance American interests in the country. It will not change the delicate balance negotiated between the parties back in April. It will not affect the efforts of Moscow and Beijing to stabilize the country. It will only buy Washington more time by bombing and killing civilians, always viewed by American generals as an acceptable and privileged option available to them.

Like in other parts of the world, the presence of American troops does not fully explain the long-term goals of military planners. Afghanistan in some respects resembles a similar situation to Southeast Asia. In South Korea, the American presence has persisted since 1950, and with it the destabilization of the Korean peninsula. As in Asia, the central purpose of the American presence in Afghanistan is to occupy geo-strategic zones in order to prevent Eurasian integration between powers like India, China and Russia. Secondly, it is the constant presence of troops and military bases in locations close to or around the two major powers of China and Russia that aims to overburden and thereby diminish the defensive capabilities of these two strategic threats. In 1962, when the USSR did something similar in response to the US deployment of patriot missiles in Turkey, it started building up its offensive capability in the Western Hemisphere using Cuba as a military base. The US was willing to go to war to halt this domestic threat and for weeks the world was on the verge of a nuclear conflict. Only dialogue between American and Soviet leaders averted this threat to human existence.

Conclusions

Washington cares for nothing other than its own interests. But twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War, the world is changing, and more and more fruitful efforts to replace the chaos wrought by US policies can be seen with peaceful, mutually beneficial cooperation increasingly being the order of the day. The road to economic prosperity and a re-established unity among the Afghan people is still a work in progress, but once the country manages to establish its independence, Washington will have a hard time dictating conditions. Countries like Russia, China and India have every intention of using diplomacy and peacekeeping to prevent a dangerous escalation in Afghanistan.

India and China have some divergence over the future of the region, but by the start of the 2017 BRICS conference, they had already resolved a border dispute that lasted over two months. The ability to create diverse organizations like BRICS, AIIB and SCO provides the opportunity to begin any kind of negotiation with a legal and economic foundation. This represents a commendable example of overcoming differences through diplomacy and economic benefits.

While the United States exhales the last breaths as a declining global power, no longer able to impose its will, it lashes out in pointless acts like lobbing 60 cruise missiles at Syria or sending 4000 troops to Afghanistan. Such acts do not change anything on the ground or modify the balance of forces in Washington’s favor. They do, however, have a strong impact on further reducing whatever confidence remains in the US, closing the door to opportunities for dialogue and cooperation that may otherwise have offered themselves.

Trump promised isolationism. His generals, behind the scenes, have managed to make this electoral promise come true, leaving Washington alone in the international arena in the near term.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

Fighting drugs, the most forgotten in new US Afghan strategy

NOVANEWS
16 years after the US invasion on the pretext of ousting Taliban, not only the group has not been destroyed in Afghanistan, but the poppy cultivation in the war-torn country has reached record high, creating an alarming situation for the whole world.

__________
IRNA
Fighting drugs, the most forgotten in new US Afghan strategy

Despite the presence of thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan to secure the country and bring peace and development for Afghans, it has changed into the world’s main producer of opium.

By November 2001, the collapse of the economy and the scarcity of other sources of revenue forced many of the country’s farmers to resort to growing opium for export.

According to a data released by US departments in media almost 60,000 US citizens died from drugs in the year 2016 most of which comes from Afghanistan.

The US government in last 16 years has spent more than seven billion dollars on stopping heroin from Afghanistan whereas more than 5 billion US dollars every year are earned by mostly the Taliban in Afghanistan from this illicit and deadly drug.

According to the EU agencies, Afghanistan has been Europe’s main heroin supplier for more than 10 years.

Experts believe that the fight against Taliban can never be won unless the heroin producing crop, poppy is not eliminated in Afghanistan. It is financial capability which empowers Taliban to buy sophisticated weapons each year.

Some countries want to have more trade with Afghanistan to help their economy, but they are afraid of drugs which means during tracking is a hurdle for boosting Afghan trade.

Assisted by some other countries, Afghanistan has been trying to fight opium cultivation, including eradicating the crop before harvesting, but the efforts have so far achieved success.

Till this date not a single big drug dealer has been arrested in Afghanistan on charges of Heroin smuggling.

Fierce fighting in poppy-growing regions shows the Taliban’s determination to protect their trafficking routes and from government forces under orders to eradicate the crop.

While announcing his new strategy for Afghanistan and South Asia, US President Donald Trump had said that more troops would be sent to Afghanistan for bringing peace in Afghanistan, but he failed to reveal any mechanism to deal with the poppy cultivation and drug trafficking in the country which is a threat not only for the US, but the whole world.

The increase in poppy cultivation under US presence in Afghanistan has become a serious concern. It may be correct to say that presence of the US in Afghanistan is adding fuel to the afghan problem and the example of increasing poppy production is clear example of that.

If the US is sincere in its claims to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan, the most useful thing it can do, is leaving the poor country immediately and let Afghan people and other regional countries to find a peaceful solution to issue of Afghanistan.

Posted in USA, Afghanistan0 Comments

Taliban Leader Claims that Group Controls Over Half of Afghanistan.

NOVANEWS
Taliban Leader Claims that Group Controls Over Half of Afghanistan. “Taliban Not Connected to Terrorist Attacks”

Featured image: Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada (Source: South Front)

Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada in a message on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha announced that the departure of all American and NATO forces from Afghanistan is the only solution to end the war and violence in Afghanistan.

He also denied any Taliban links with terrorist attacks and declared that the Taliban controls more than half of the country. However, this claim contradicts to the info provided by the US military.

Gen. John Nicholson, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said that government forces control 62% of the country and the Taliban controls only 10%. The rest of the area is contested, according to the general.

The Pentagon has also confirmed that there are about 11,000 US troops in Afghanistan, including regular troops and special forces. The US is going to send about 4,000 more troops to Afghanistan under the newly declared strategy in the country.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

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