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“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

NOVANEWS

The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War”.

 
"The War is Worth Waging": Afghanistan's Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

Author’s Note

US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than 16 years ago in October 2001. It’s has been a continuous war marked by US military occupation.

The justification is “counterterrorism”.  Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism, allegedly responsible for attacking America on September 11, 2001. 

The war on Afghanistan continues to be heralded as a war of retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks. US troops are still present and deployed in Afghanistan.

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The legal argument used by Washington and NATO to invade and occupy Afghanistan under “the doctrine of collective security” was that the September 11 2001 attacks constituted an undeclared “armed attack” “from abroad” by an unnamed foreign power, namely Afghanistan. 

Yet there were no Afghan fighter planes in the skies of New York on the morning of September 11, 2001. 

This article, first published in June 2010, points to the “real economic reasons”  why US-NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.  

Under the Afghan-US security pact,  established under Obama’s Asian pivot, Washington and its NATO partners have established a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, with military facilities located within proximity of China’s Western frontier.  The pact was intended to allow the US to maintain their nine permanent military bases, strategically located on the borders of  China, Pakistan and Iran as well as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

In recent developments, President Trump in his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of  Congress vowed to “demolish and destroy” terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq as well as in Afghanistan under a fake counter-terrorism mandate.

According to Foreign Affairs, “there are more U.S. military forces deployed there [Afghanistan] than to any other active combat zone” and their mandate is to go after the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS (which are supported covertly by US intelligence). 

There is both a geopolitical as well as an economic agenda in Afghanistan requiring the permanent presence of US troops.

In addition to its vast mineral and gas reserves, Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the World’s supply of opium which is used to produce grade 4 heroin.

US military bases in Afghanistan are also intent upon protecting the multibillion narcotics trade.  Narcotics, at present, constitutes the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy.

The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

“The highest concentration of NATO servicemen in Afghanistan is being accompanied with the highest concentration of opium poppy, ….  That situation causes doubts about the anti-terrorist mission and leads to the conclusion about catastrophic consequences of the eight-year stay [of coalition forces] in Afghanistan,” (Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov, January 2010)

Michel Chossudovsky,  March 25, 2017

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“The War is Worth Waging”: Afghanistan’s Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas

The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven “Resource War”.

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

October 2010

The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a “Just War”, a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate “Islamic terrorism” and instate Western style democracy.

The economic dimensions of  the “Global War on Terrorism” (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 “counter-terrorism campaign” has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.

The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder,  ”a resource war”.

While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.

According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess “previously unknown” and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).

The previously unknown deposits — including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium — are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.

An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.

The vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.

While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.

“There is stunning potential here,” Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said… “There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant.”

The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan’s existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.

“This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy,” said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)

Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times “the Saudi Arabia of lithium”. “Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car.” At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. “The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. “Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia” (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan – NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

“Previously Unknown Deposits” of Minerals in Afghanistan

The Pentagon’s near one trillion dollar “estimate” of previously “unknown deposits” is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate:  “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)

Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan’s mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan’s mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.

The US Administration’s acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan’s vast mineral wealth  following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan’s mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America’s business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).

Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of  vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal,  June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars “estimate” intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study.

More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: “It’s no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas,” (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002):

“Afghanistan has never been anyone’s colony – no foreigner had ever “dug” here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known.

It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.

Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.

However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else – the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).

The war is worth waging. … (Olga Borisova, “Afghanistan – the Emerald Country”, Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)

While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.

The issue of “previously unknown deposits” sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan’s vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World’s most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail:

… Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits … The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly,  Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)

Afghanistan’s Natural Gas

Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control  over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.

Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a “crucial transit corridor”. (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the ‘good and necessary’ war; it’s about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington’s agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.

What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal  and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed “Afghanistan’s ‘explored’ (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5  trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag’s initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf.” (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).

The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan’s natural gas reserves are “substantial”:

“As northern Afghanistan is a ‘southward extension of Central Asia’s highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,’ Afghanistan ‘has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.’ (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan’s untapped energy, October 24, 2008)

From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington’s objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.

The Golden Crescent Drug Trade

America’s covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen “Freedom fighters” (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1

Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America’s covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is “Good for Your Health”: Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, Global Research, April 29, 2007)

Towards an Economy of Plunder

The US media, in chorus, has upheld the “recent discovery” of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth as “a solution” to the development of the country’s war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates.

The war on Afghanistan is  a profit driven “resource war”.

Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led “war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country.” (Borisova, op cit).

Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan’s reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.

Note

1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan’s export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan  has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually.

In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resulting from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America’s War on Terrorism”, Global Research, Montreal, 2005)

ORDER DIRECTLY FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

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America’s “War on Terrorism”

Michel Chossudovsky

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“Afghanistan – As Only Love Could Hurt”

NOVANEWS

Notes From A Broken Land

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Afghanistan

WINTER

It is now winter in Kabul, end of February 2017. At night the temperature gets near zero. The mountains surrounding the city are covered by snow.

It feels much chillier than it really is.

Soon it will be 16 years since the US/UK invasion of the country, and 16 years since the Bonn Conference, during which Hamid Karzai was “selected” to head the Afghan Interim Administration.

Almost everyone I spoke to in Afghanistan agrees that things are rapidly moving from bad to rock bottom.

Afghans, at home and abroad, are deeply pessimistic. With hefty allowances and privileges, at least some foreigners based in Kabul are much more upbeat, but ‘positive thinking’ is what they are paid to demonstrate.

Historically one of the greatest cultures on Earth, Afghanistan is now nearing breaking point, with the lowest Human Development Index (2015, HDI, compiled by the UNDP) of all Asian nations, and the 18th lowest in the entire world (all 17 countries below it are located in Sub-Saharan Africa). Afghanistan has also the lowest life expectancy in Asia (WHO, 2015).

While officially, the literacy rate stands at around 60%, I was told by two prominent educationalists in Kabul that in reality it is well below 50%, while it is stubbornly stuck under 20% for women and girls.

Statistics are awful, but what is behind the numbers? What has been done to this ancient and distinct civilization, once standing proudly at the crossroad of major trade routes, influencing culturally a great chunk of Asia, connecting East and West, North and South?

How deep, how permanent is the damage?

During my visit, I was offered but I refused to travel in an armored, bulletproof vehicle. My ageing “horse” became a beat-up Corolla, my driver and translator a brave, decent family man in possession of a wonderful sense of humor. Although we became good friends, I never asked him to what ethnic group he belonged. He never told me. I simply didn’t want to know, and he didn’t find it important to address the topic. Everyone knows that Afghanistan is deeply divided ‘along its ethnic lines’. As an internationalist, I refuse to pay attention to anything related to ‘blood’, finding all such divisions, anywhere in the world, unnatural and thoroughly unfortunate. Call it my little stubbornness; both my driver and me were stubbornly refusing to acknowledge ethnic divisions in Afghanistan, at least inside the car, while driving through this marvelous but scarred, stunning but endlessly sad land.

KABUL

One day you and your driver, who is by then your dear friend, are driving slowly over the bridge. Your car stops. You get out in the middle of the bridge, and begin photographing the clogged river below, with garbage floating and covering its banks. Children are begging, and you soon notice that they are operating in a compact pack, almost resembling some small military unit. In Kabul, as in so many places on earth, there is a rigid structure to begging.

After a while, you continue driving on, towards the Softa Bridge, which is located in District 6.

Where you are appears to be all messed up, endlessly fucked up.

You were told to come to this neighborhood, to witness a warzone inside the city, to see ‘what the West has done to the country’. There are no bullets flying here, and no loud explosions. In fact, you hear almost nothing. You actually don’t see any war near the Softa Bridge; you only see Death, her horrid gangrenous face, her scythe cutting all that is still standing around her, cutting and cutting, working in extremely slow motion.

Again, as so many times before, you are scared. You were scared like this several times before: in Haiti, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kashmir, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Iraq, and Peru, to name just a few countries. In those places, as well as here in Kabul, you are not frightened because you could easily lose your life any moment, or because your safety might be in danger. What dismays you, what you really cannot stomach, are the images of despair, those of ‘no way out’, of absolute hopelessness. Lack of hope is killing you, it horrifies you; everything else can always be dealt with.

People you see all around can hardly stand on their feet. Many cannot stand at all. Most of them are stoned, laying around in rags, sitting in embryonic positions, or moving aimlessly back and forth, staring emptily into the distance. Some are urinating publicly. Syringes are everywhere.

Drug dealers living in holes

There are holes, deep and wide, filled with motionless human bodies.

First you drive around, photographing through the cracked glass, then you roll down the window, and at the end, you get out and begin working, totally exposed. You have no idea what may happen in the next few seconds. Someone begins shouting at you, others are throwing stones, but they are too weak and the stones just hit your shoulder and legs, softly, without causing any harm.

Then a bomb goes off, not far from where you are. There is an explosion in the 6th District, right in front of a police station. You cannot see it, but you can clearly hear the blast. It is a muffled yet powerful bang. You look at your phone.

Explosion in District 6

It is March 1st, 2017, Kabul. Later you learn that several people died just a few hundred meters from where you were working, while several others perished in the 12th District, another few kilometers away.

The smoke begins rising towards the sky. Sirens are howling and several ambulances are rushing towards the site. Then countless military Humvees begin shooting one after another in the same direction, followed by heavier and much clumsier armored vehicles. You are taking all this in, slowly; photographing the scene, and then snapping from some distance a monumental but still semi-destroyed Darul Aman Palace.

And so it goes.

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Tall concrete walls are scarring, fragmenting the city. In Kabul, almost anything worth protecting is now fenced. Some partitions and barriers are simply enormous, almost unreal. There are walls sheltering all foreign embassies and government buildings, palaces, military bases, police stations and banks, as well as the United Nations compounds, even most of the private schools and hotels. The Hamid Karzai international airport is encompassed by perimeters that could put to shame most of the Cold War lines: from the parking area one has to walk almost one kilometer to the entrance of the international terminal, with luggage and through the countless security checks.

Of course Western institutions and organizations have the most impressive fences, as well as the Afghan military and military bases and government offices.

Enormous surveillance drone-zeppelins are levitating above the city.

It could all be seen as thoroughly grotesque, even laughable, but no one is amused. It is all very serious, damn serious here.

Afghanistan has been gradually overtaken by something absolutely foreign: by the Western-style security apparatus. Tens of thousands of highly paid North American and European ‘experts’ have been getting extremely busy, fulfilling their secret wet dream: fencing everything in sight, monitoring each and every movement in the capital city, building taller and taller barriers, while installing the latest hi-tech cameras at almost every intersection, and above each gate.

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Not far from the Embassy of the United States of America (or more precisely, not far from the Great Chinese Wall-size fence encompassing it), I noticed a familiar complex of buildings, reminding me of those that used to be constructed in all corners of Eastern Europe and Cuba. I asked my friend to drive into one of the compounds.

This is how I entered “Makroyan”.  We killed the engine, and everything around us was suddenly quiet, almost dormant. Time stopped here. There was a certain mild decay detectable all around the area, but upon a closer look, those old apartment buildings were still looking decent and strong, with very impressive public spaces in between them. Here I felt that I was allowed a rare glimpse of an old, socialist Afghanistan.

I stopped in between two entrances of Block 21: No.2 and No.3. I looked up to the 4th floor. Who is living there now? Who used to live here before, some 25, even 30 years ago?

Makroyan Block 21

A destroyed office chair was standing aimlessly in the middle of a parking lot, and an old, disabled man was crawling desolately on all fours, moving away from the block. There was a Soviet-built school right next to Block 21. It used to be known as Dosti primary school, and I was told that during the war, it was bombed a couple of times and lots of kids died inside it. Now the school is private and it has a new name – it is ‘Alfath’, a high school.

Apart from a few loose, rusty wires and fences, everything looks decent and semi-neat. This is where many members of the diminishing Kabul middle class still prefer to live. Blocks of Makroyan are reassuring; they radiate safety and permanency, while being surrounded by a volatile and frightening universe.

All of a sudden, I imagined a boy and a girl, who perhaps used to live here, so many years ago. As children in all other parts of the world do at that age, they were just slowly beginning to discover life, starting to formulate their dreams and expectations. In those days, the new leafy neighborhood would have been like a promise of a brighter future, of a much better country.

Then suddenly, full stop.

A war. A sudden end to all that the future was promising. Collapse of optimism, or enthusiasm, of confidence. Only death and destruction, and shattered dreams, remained. For those who were at least somehow lucky: a bitterness and then a hasty flight, instead of ultimate misery and death. Full stop. Total reset. Everything collapsed. But life never stops, it goes on, it always does. Things re-composed, somehow, not idyllically, but they did.

For a long time, I kept staring at Block 21. Memories kept coming, as if I used to live there myself, many years ago, when I was a child. I hardly noticed that it was getting very cold. I began to shiver. I didn’t want to leave, but I had to. Fresh pomegranate juice at a local street stall brought me back to reality, it woke me, but it didn’t managed to warm me up.

GREAT HISTORY, CHANGING CULTURE, AN ON-GOING OCCUPATION AND FEAR

A renowned Afghan intellectual, Dr. Omara Khan Masoudi, who used to be, among many other things, the former head of the National Museum, is now bitter about the changes invading the culture of his country:

In the past, we had also many ethnic groups living in this country, but they used to coexist in harmony. Then, our culture got influenced by conflicts and violence.

Before the war, it was the culture that used to represent us in the world. However, during and after the war, our cultures were used to justify the conflict.

Dr. Masoudi told me that he thinks it is wrong when culture falls into the hands of divisive politicians. “If culture is politicized, it loses its essence”, he declared.

I asked him whether he thinks it also applies to Latin America, to the former Soviet Union and China, where (at least to a great extent) ‘politicized culture’ has been playing an extremely important role, determining the course of development. He smiled, replying:

To be precise, politicizing cultures is not always such a bad thing… When it’s done, for instance, in order to achieve social progress or equality, I have nothing against it. But I am outraged when people like some religious leaders; Shia, Sunni or even some extremists, do it… Culture is very broad, and religions are only a part of it. But in Afghanistan, religious leaders have been using the culture for their narrow-minded interests.

In a coffee shop, which is lost somewhere inside the wilderness of an international and United Nations compound called ‘The Green Village’, my Japanese friend and Head of the Culture Unit of UNESCO, Mr. Masanori Nagaoka, explained:

Afghanistan or Ancient Ariana, as many ancient Greek and Roman authors referred to the region in antiquity, can be acknowledged as the multi-cultural cradle of Central Asia, linking East and West via historically significant trade conduits that also conveyed ideas, concepts and languages as a cultural by-product of fledgling international commerce. As a result, contemporary Afghanistan is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual society with a complex history stretching back many millennia. The numerous civilizations are attested to in the archaeological record, both indigenous and foreign….

However, he is well aware of the complexities faced by the country and the culture torn apart by lethal conflicts of the last decades and centuries.

Afghanistan is unfortunately also a nation fragmented by a history of protracted conflict, exacerbated by geographic isolation for many communities and limited or unequal access to infrastructure and resources, both regionally and demographically. As a nominal starting point, the ongoing rehabilitation process in Afghanistan needs to address these issues if the nation is to unify under a common objective, fostering a veracious society free from conflict and where ethnic diversity is recognized for its social, cultural and economic benefits rather than, as is often the case, seen as a hindrance to particular developmental objectives. Part of the solution to this problem lies in the campaign of a positive public discussion to promote inter-cultural understanding and to raise awareness of the potential that such discourse has to contribute to the broader goals of rapprochement, peace-building and economic development in Afghanistan.

I flew to the city of Herat, where I witnessed tremendous masterpieces of architecture, from the marvelous and recently restored Citadel (as valuable as the citadels of Aleppo and Erbil), to the Friday Mosque and amazing, unique minarets rising proudly towards the sky.

How familiar all those architectural treasures appeared! On several occasions I approached Nasir, my local friend who was always eager to share the impressive history of his region: “Look, this could be in Delhi… and this in Samarkand!”

Sure enough, the most visited world heritage site in India, Qutub Minar, situated right outside New Delhi, is perhaps the greatest symbol of the Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture, while both Herat and Samarkand were connected by the Silk Road and historically kept influencing each other.

In Afghanistan, the history, the occupation and the on-going conflict: everything seems to be thoroughly intertwined.

Italian troops took over ancient Citadel in Herat City

During my work there, the Citadel of Herat was literally taken over by Italian troops. I was told that some high-ranking NATO officer was visiting the site, and with no shame, a fully armed Italian commando was roaming around, “securing” every corner of the vast courtyard. As if Afghans had lost control of their own country!

De-mining work in Herat

On closer examination, the madrassa of Hussein Baiqara is, in reality, still a minefield. In between four stunning minarets, a de-mining team from local “Halo Trust” was manually searching for unexploded ordinances. I was allowed to enter, but only as a war correspondent and at my own risk, definitely not as a ‘tourist’.

“On this site, we already found two mines and 10 unexploded ordinances”, I was told by one of the Halo Trust experts. “Now this entire area is off-limits to the public. Not long ago, one child was badly injured here; he lost his leg.”

Nothing is peaceful in Afghanistan, not even ancient historic sites.

*

Not much is questioned here.

Positive talk about the ancient history and culture is generally encouraged, but to discuss dramatic changes in modern Afghan culture, those that occurred as a result of the US/UK invasion and the present on-going NATO occupation of the country, is almost entirely off-limits. In fact, even the word itself – ‘occupation’ – could hardly be heard. Instead, such jargons as ‘protection’, ‘defense’ and ‘international help’ have been implanted deeply and systematically into the psyche of most Afghan people.

The culture that was known for long centuries for its passion for freedom and independence seems broken. While Afghans resisted heroically against all past British invasions, while some of them fought the Soviet incursion, there is presently no organized and united (national, not religious) opposition against the Western occupation of the country.

I met academic Jawid Amin, from the Academy of Social Sciences of Afghanistan, in a small guardroom in front of the Museum of Modern Arts in Kabul.

I asked him, whether there is any art, or any group of intellectuals openly critical of the United States, and of the occupation. He replied, sincerely:

We don’t have anyone openly critical of the US or the West here, because it is simply not allowed by the government. I personally don’t like the Americans, but I can’t say more… Even I work for the government. My brother and sister are living in the United States. And about critical arts: nothing could be exhibited here without permission from the government and since Karzai, the government is controlled by the West…

A prominent Afghan intellectual, Omaid Sharifi, explained over the phone: “In the provinces, you can still see paintings depicting killing of civilians by the US drones… but not in Kabul.”

I’m trying to work as fast as possible, meeting people who are helping to shed light on the situation. Eventually, a dire picture begins to form.

I met a Japanese reporter who has been living in Afghanistan for almost a quarter of a century. Her assessment of the situation was to a large extent pessimistic:

Afghans had very little choice… It is 100% true that behind Karzai’s government was the US… Afghans didn’t want to accept foreign intervention, but soon they learned how money plays an important role.  The entire Afghan culture is now changing, even some essential elements of it like hospitality: people don’t want to spend money on it, or they don’t have any that they can spare…

I asked Dr. Masoudi why Afghan culture did not accept Soviets and their egalitarian, socially oriented ideals, while it seems to be tolerating the Western invasion, which is spreading inequality, desperation and subservience. He replied, passionately:

The biggest mistake the Soviet Union made here was to attack religion out rightly. If they’d first stick to equal rights, and slowly work it up towards the contradictions of religion, it could perhaps work… But they began blaming religion for our backwardness, in fact for everything. Or at least this is how it was interpreted by the coalition of their enemies, and of course by the West.

Now, why is the Western invasion ‘successful’? Look at the Karzai regime… During his rule, the US convinced people that Western intervention was ‘positive’, ‘respectful of their religion and cultures’. They kept repeating ‘under this and that UN convention’, and again ‘as decided by the UN’… They used NATO, a huge group of countries, as an umbrella. There was a ‘brilliantly effective’ protocol that they developed… According to them, they never did anything unilaterally, always by ‘international consensus’ and in order to ‘help Afghan people’. On the other hand, the Soviet Union had never slightest chance to explain itself. It was attacked immediately, and on all fronts.

“Opposition to Western occupation? Anti-Western art?” A Russian cultural expert in Kabul was clearly surprised by my question.

First of all, the Taliban destroyed most artistic traditions of this country. But also, the economic and social situation in this country is so desperate, that hardly anyone has time to think about some larger picture. More than 60% of Afghans are jobless. One thing you also should remember: Afghan people are very proud and very freedom loving, as the history illustrated, but they are also extremely patient. Go and see The British Cemetery. It was built in 1879 to hold the dead of the second Anglo-Afghan War, but despite all that the UK did to this country, and despite all recent wars and conflicts, it was never attacked, never damaged.

It is true. I never heard anyone discussing this topic. All horrid British crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan seem to be forgotten, at least for now.

But that’s not all: nobody here seems to have any appetite for recalling those horrors of the last decades, triggered by Western imperialism. Not once I observed any discussion addressing the main topic of modern Afghan history: how the West managed to trick the Soviets into invading Afghanistan in 1979, and how it created and then armed the vilest bunch of religious fanatics – the Mujahedeen. And how, subsequently, both countries – Afghanistan and the Soviet Union – were thoroughly destroyed in the process.

All was done, of course, with “great respect” for the Afghan nation, for its culture and traditions, as well as (how else) religion.

I’d love to be an invisible witness in a modern history class at the American University of Afghanistan, a ‘famed’ institution that is literally regurgitating thousands of collaborators, manufacturing a new breed of obedient pro-Western ‘elites’.

As we drive past Jamhuriat Hospital (Republic Hospital), which had a new 10- story building, with capacity for 350 patients, constructed by China in 2004, my driver, Mr. Tahir, sighs: “This was really a great gift from China to us… the Chinese really work hard, don’t they?”

“They have plenty of zeal and enthusiasm”, I uttered carefully. “Socialist fervor, you know. They sincerely believe in building, improving their country and the world. It is quite contrary to Western nihilism and extreme individualism…”

“They must love their country…”

“They do.”

“Afghanistan is poor”, Mr. Tahir’s face became suddenly sad. “Our people don’t love their country, anymore. They don’t work to improve it. They only work for themselves now, for their families…”

“Was it different before? You know…” I made an abstract gesture with my hand. “Before all this…”

“Of course it used to be very different”, he replied, grinning again.

NOTHING SOCIAL LEFT, NOTHING SOCIALIST WANTED

I stopped several people who were just walking down the street, in various parts of Kabul. I wanted to understand some basics: was there anything social left in Afghanistan? Did Western ‘liberation’ bring at least some progress, social development and improved standards of living?

Most answers were thoroughly gloomy. Only those people who were working or moonlighting for the Western military, for the embassies, the NGOs or other ‘international contractors’, were to some extent optimistic.

I was explained that almost everyone in the countryside and provincial cities were out off work. Unemployment among university graduates stood at over 80%.

In Herat, a city of almost half a million inhabitants, a long and depressing line was winding in front of the Iranian embassy. I was told that tens of thousands have already migrated to the other side of the border. Now Afghans who were attempting to visit their relatives living in Iran were told to leave a 300-euro deposit, in case they decide not to return.

I asked what Herat is producing, and was told, without any irony: “mainly just some washing powder and biscuits”. Tourism from Iran stood at only about 150 people a year! The area between the city and the border has been dangerous, and there are frequent kidnappings.

In most provincial cities, a regular family has to get by on 2.300 – 2.500 Afghanis per month, which is not much more than US$30.

Government supplies run water mainly to the government housing projects. People living elsewhere have to dig their own wells.

Electricity is expensive, and an average family in Kabul is now expected to pay around US$35 per month. Even in the capital, many people have to get by without electricity. Indian ‘investors’ are in partnership with the government. Electricity supplies, and even water, are perceived as ‘business ventures’, not as basic social services.

Counting on a decent public transportation in the past, Kabul is now forced to rely on private vehicles, and on those few ‘city buses’ that are ‘pro-profit’ and mainly privately owned and operated.

There are government schools in Afghanistan, and in theory they are free, but books, pencils, uniforms and other basics are not.

In fact, perhaps the most impressive modern structure in Kabul, is actually the 10-story building to Jamhuriat Hospital, a gift from the People’s Republic of China, not from the West.

One wonders where is that fabled great ‘assistance’ from the United States and Europe really going? Perhaps to the millions of tons of concrete, used for construction of the massive fences? Perhaps money sponsors’ purchases of high-tech cameras and surveillance systems, as well as the high-life of thousands of Western ‘contractors’ and ‘security experts’?

I spoke to more than hundreds of Afghan people. Almost no one was ready to mention socialism. As if this wonderful word disappeared, was erased from the local lexicon.

“They actually remember socialism very fondly”, my Japanese acquaintance based in Kabul once told me. “However, talking about it is not encouraged. It may cause all sorts of problems.”

WESTERN (TEMPORARY) VICTORY

While in Kabul, I was told by one of the local experts working for an international organization:

The National Education Strategic Plan (NESP) for Afghanistan was just drafted… The funding came from the West. Many meetings were held directly at the US embassy and at the offices of the World Bank. The Afghan Ministry of Education had very little say about the curriculum, which was basically dictated by the Western countries…

I cannot quote the source of this information, as she would most probably lose her position for expressing such views.

She later clarified further:

The policy decisions on education are proposed by donor parties, which are mostly Western countries. The Ministry of Education, with limited capacity, has a lesser role in drafting the NESP III policy. Instead of building the capacity of the government, donor countries are taking the leading role in changing the education system and this does not ensure a sustainable education for Afghanistan whatsoever.

As in all client states of the West, education in Afghanistan is manipulated and geared to serve the interests of the West. It is expected to produce obedient and unquestioning masses. Instead of determined and productive patriots, it is regurgitating butlers of the regime, which is in turn serving predominately foreign interests.

Almost all information flows through the channels that are at least to some extent influenced from abroad: social media, television networks as well as the printed media.

The fabled Afghan spirit of resistance and courage has been (hopefully only temporarily) brutally broken, under the supervision of highly professional foreign indoctrinators and propagandists.

Those who are willing to collaborate with the occupation forces are suddenly not even hiding it, carrying their condition proudly as if a coat of arms, not as a shame. Many are now delighted to be associated with the West and its institutions.

In fact, the occupation is not even called occupation, anymore, at least not by the elites who are well rewarded by the system for their linguistic and intellectual somersaults and pirouettes.

And Afghan people keep leaving.

Afghanistan is shedding its most talented sons and daughters, every day, every month, irreversibly.

Ms. Yukiko Matsuyoshi, a former Japanese diplomat, presently a UN education expert, is worried about the current trends in Afghanistan, a country where she spent several years:

Now the social classes have been re-created after the fall of Taliban, but the country seems to have no ideology. People just follow trends that are thrown their way. There is corruption, there is that huge poppy business, and there are palaces. And there is misery in the countryside, hardly any access to information. Afghans are leaving their country. Whoever can, goes: good people, government people…it seems like everyone tries to escape.

All of a sudden, the West is perceived like some Promised Land. Those who make it there are bragging about their new ‘home’, sending colorful images through social media: Disneyland, Hollywood, German castles…

I have seen the other side of the coin, in terrible refugee camps in Greece, in the French Calais camps; people drowning while attempting to cross the sea from Turkey to the European Union.

There is no discussion whether Afghanistan should be capitalist or socialist, anymore. Debate has stopped. The decision has been made, somewhere else, obviously.

The faces of Northern Alliance leaders are ‘decorating’ (or some would say, ‘scarring’) all major roads on which I drove. Ahmad Shah Massoud became a national hero, during the Karzai regime.

I travelled more than 100 kilometers north, to see Massoud’s grave, or a thumb, or whatever that monstrosity they erected above the splendid Panjshir Valley really is. Hordes of people drive there on weekends, some all the way from Kabul, and there are even those who pray to the ‘leader’.

The former “anti-Soviet” and anti-Communist fighter, he is certainly a perfect ‘hero’, whose memory is groomed by the pro-Western regime.

Driving through the Panjshir Valley, I saw several Soviet tanks and armored vehicles, rotting by the side of the road. I also saw a destroyed village, an eerie reminder of the war. It is called Dashtak. Clay houses look like a cemetery, like a horrid monument.

Village in the North destroyed during the war

I took photos and sent them to Kabul, to my friends, for identification. I want to know, I felt that I had to know, who razed this town by the river, surrounded by such stunning mountains.

The answer came in a just few minutes: “I think it was in 1984, by the Soviet Union”. What followed was a link leading to a book published in the West, quoting some former Ukrainian, Soviet adviser to an Afghan battalion commander. The name of the book was “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”.

The quote did not sound too convincing. “Let’s go back”, I asked my driver and translator. “Let’s talk to people on the other side of the river’.

We found three inhabitants, in three different parts of the village; three people old enough to remember what took place here, some 30 years ago. All three testimonies coincided: Massoud’s forces brought refugees from several other parts of the valley. Before the battle began, all of them left. During the combat, clay houses were destroyed, but no civilians died inside.

There are always many different interpretations of the historic events. However, the analyses of modern Afghan history disseminated by the West and the Afghan regime among the Afghan people, are suspiciously unanimous and frighteningly one-sided. I am definitely planning to revisit this point during my next trip to the country. I see it as essential. The future of Afghanistan certainly depends on understanding the past.

*

There are huge zeppelin-drones, vile-looking airborne surveillance stuff, hovering over the US air force base near Bagram. The same drones could be seen levitating over Kabul, but in the Bagram area, with the dramatic backdrop of the mountains, they look particularly dreadful.

The air force base is huge. It appears even bigger than Incerlik near Adana in Turkey. It is an absolute masterpiece of military vulgarity, with watch towers everywhere, with barbed wire, several layers of concrete walls, surveillance cameras and powerful lights. If this is not an occupation, then what really is?

Again, my driver is totally cool. I want to photograph this monstrosity, and he drives me around, so we can identify a truly good spot. I’m ‘calculating light’, looking for the correct angle, so during the sunset, those who would be observing us from inside the ‘castle’, would be blinded, and we could get at least a few decent images.

I’m aware of the fact that in Afghanistan, the Empire often kills anything that moves, at the slightest suspicion or without any suspicion at all, as for them human lives of the local people count for almost nothing.

Once the sun goes down, I begin working fast.

Somehow I feel that my visit to Afghanistan would be incomplete, without getting at least some images of the base – one of the most expressive symbols of the occupation.

So this is what Afghanistan became under the Western ‘liberating’ boots! Barbed wires, foreign jet fighters, concrete walls everywhere, battles with the religious fundamentalist elements (invented and manufactured by the West), grotesque savage capitalism, ignorant or shameless collaboration, and guns, guns and guns, as well as misery in almost every corner, and one of the lowest life expectancies and standards of living on Earth! And of course, people escaping, leaving this beautiful country behind – a country, which is suddenly unloved, humiliated, abandoned by so many!

This is all happening only roughly four decades after the heroic attempts to build some great social housing projects, after the implementation of a well-functioning public transportation network, public education and medical care, as well as an attempt to introduce secularism, while building a decent, egalitarian society.

The glorious victory of Western imperialism over one of the oldest and greatest cultures seems to be complete. The Brits tried, on several occasions; they murdered and tortured, but were defeated. They never forgave. They waited for decades, and then returned with their muscular and aggressive offspring. And here they are, all of them, now!

Afghanistan appears to be exhausted and defeated. It is badly injured, and it has been dragged through unimaginable dirt.

But I don’t think it is crushed, by the West or by the religious fundamentalists, or by these two historical allies.

Deep inside, Afghanistan knows better. It already experienced many years of hope; it knows the taste of it. During long centuries and millennia of its existence, it survived several dreadful moments, but it always stood up again, undefeated and proud. I’m certain that it will rise again.

Flying, driving or walking through its magnificent mountains, I often felt that Afghanistan is like a living organism, it was winking at me, letting me know that it is alive, that it sees everything that goes on, that it is not futile at all to struggle for its future.

*

I watched the stubs of the electric contacts that used to hold, some decades ago, those long wires used by the legendary Kabul trolley bus network.

“Those beautiful vehicles came from former Czechoslovakia”, a man, an office worker, whom I stopped in the center of the city, told me. “They were beautiful, and do you know who used to drive them? Some young girls; optimistic women who were for some reason always in a good mood.”

Apparently Kabul had three trolleybus lines, one of them originating (or ending) at the ‘Cinema Pamir’. What color were Kabul trolleybuses? I saw some photos, but those I could find were black and white. When I was a child, growing up in Czechoslovakia, ours were red. The ones in Leningrad, the city where I was born, were blue and green, some red as well. When they were accelerating, it was as if they’d be singing a simple song, or whining, complaining mockingly about their hard life.

I imagined a strong-minded, professional woman, boarding these trolleybuses. Perhaps eager to catch one of those old great Soviet movies at the Cinema Pamir, perhaps “the Dawns are Quiet Here”, or going to work or to visit different parts of the city.  She would snuggle into a comfortable seat in the electric vehicle. It was getting dark, but the city was safe. A woman behind the wheel was really smiling. There were flags flying all around the city. There was hope. There was a future. There was a country to build and to love.

 

Afghanistan can still fly

I had suspected that the Kabul trolleybuses were actually light blue. I have no idea why. It was just my intuition.

*

Suddenly I heard a loud bang, and then the squeaking of brakes.

“Roll up the window!” my driver was shouting. We were getting into a slum inhabited by IDPs. We left the road. Dust everywhere, absolute misery. Bagrani town, now Bagrani slums, just a few kilometers east from Kabul, on the Jalalabad Highway.

I grasped the heavy metal body of my professional Nikon.

My dream about Afghanistan of the 70’s, a gentle and enthusiastic country, abruptly ended. Now all around me were children suffering from malnutrition. I heard excited, accusatory voices of men and women who were forced to come from all corners of Afghanistan. We drove on a bumpy road, towards numerous half-collapsed clay structures and dirty tents.

“We escaped fighting in Shinwar, Helmand Province, from around Jalalabad and Kandahar”, several internally displaced persons living in Bagrani were shouting at me:

We have 1.000 families from Helmand and more than 1.000 families from Kandahar, living here. We lost our houses back in our villages and towns… People around Jalalabad lost their homes, too. Daesh (ISIS) is operating in several parts of the country… Taliban fighters are frequently changing sides, joining Daesh. There is fighting going on everywhere: Daesh, Taliban and the government forces confronting each other.

How involved is NATO in general and the US in particular, I ask, through my interpreter.

Americans are there, of course. Mostly they are fighting from the air, but sometimes they are on the ground, too.

Do they kill civilians?

“Yes, they do… Our sons, our husbands are regularly murdered by them”, shouts a woman clothed in a blue burqa, holding a small child in her arms.

Misery is everywhere, destroying the country, I’m told. And there is almost no help coming from the corrupt and the near bankrupt state.

Ms. Sidiqah, an elderly lady, is shouting in desperation and anger: “We have nothing left, but no one helps us! We don’t know what to do.”

As I photograph, a small cluster of people begin to rock the car. Things are getting tense, but I don’t feel that we are facing any immediate danger. I continue working. This is all becoming very personal. I don’t understand why, but it is…

Then, silently, a small group of people approaches us. Among them are a man with a very long beard, and a girl, with a beautiful and tragic face. She is wearing a t-shirt depicting several cute white mice, but the right sleeve is empty. She is missing her entire arm.

A girl without arm

Her face is striking. She stares directly into my camera, and when I lower the lens, I feel her eyes begin to pierce mine. Without one single word uttered, I sense clearly what she is trying to convey:

“What have you done to me?”

I try to hold her glance for at least a few seconds, but then I lower my eyes. Now I‘m in panic. I want to embrace her, hold her, take her away from here, somewhere, somehow; to adopt her, airlift her from here, give her a home, but I know that there is no way I would be allowed to do it. My glasses get very foggy. I mumble something incoherent. I am tough, I witnessed dozens of wars, I faced death on various occasions. I try to keep calm whenever I’m in places like this; whenever working. What is happening to me here and now happens very rarely, but it does happen.

It is March 4th 2017, Afghanistan. My flight is schedule to depart the next day, late in the afternoon. I know that I will take it. But I also realize, and I silently make my pledge to this tiny girl with the cute mice and an empty sleeve, that I will never fully leave her country.

*

What will happen later is predicable: yet another sleepless night. Everything will be back, play itself like a film inside my brain. Bagrani provisional camp, another camp that is housing evacuees from Kunduz, some active mine fields in the middle of Herat, those hundreds of living corpses vegetating in the middle of District 6 in Kabul, then several explosions, innumerable rotting carcasses of Soviet tanks, the eerie and enormous US air force base near Bagram, Massoud’s bizarre grave, white zeppelin-drones, concrete walls, watch towers, security checks, and hollow muzzles of various types of guns pointing in all directions.

Air force Bagrani base

I’ll be tired, exhausted, but I’ll be well aware that I have no right to rest, not now, not anytime soon.

I’ll keep thinking about Cinema Pamir, about Kabul trolleybuses, and Block 21 in the socialist-style neighborhood of Makroyan … 4th floor, entrance 2 or perhaps 3… I’ll keep imagining what could have taken place there, if life had not been so abruptly and so brutally interrupted.

Afghanistan, a stunning but terribly scarred and injured land has been suffering from a concussion. It has been dizzy and disoriented. It can hardly walk. Still it being Afghanistan, it has been walking anyway, against all odds!

Later that night, I’ll recall what one great Cuban poet and singer Silvio Rodriquez once wrote about Nicaragua. And at one point, only a few moments before the dawn would begin returning bright colors to the world, I’ll replace Nicaragua with Afghanistan, and suddenly realize that it is exactly what I feel towards this beautiful and shattered nation: “Afghanistan hurts, as only love does.”

It hurts like love…

It hurts… terribly. Therefor, it is love.

All that would happen later, hours later. At the end I’ll stop fighting it, and simply accept.

But now, the old Toyota climbs back on the paved road. I can hardly keep my eyes open. The last several days I slept very little.

Mr. Tahir, my driver and now my comrade, looks surprisingly composed and unworried. After all this time working with me, he is clearly ready for any adventure, or any nightmare.

He hands me a bunch of tissues. My left wrist is bleeding, although not too badly. Most likely I hit or scratched something in the slums, without realizing it. My cameras feel increasingly heavy and my notebook looks filthy; I keep dropping it on the floor. My clothes look dirty, too. But we are going, we are moving forward, and that is good!

“It is all fucked up, Mr. Tahir”, I inform him, politely.

“Yes, Sir”, he replies, with an equal doze of respect. We are a good team.

“But we are going”, I remind him and myself.

“We are going, sir.”

Again my head drops on my chest. I open my eyes just a few minutes later. It is already very dark. Kabul all around me; Afghanistan. It feels good to be here. I’m glad I came.

“Where to now, sir?”

“Jalalabad, Mr. Tahir.”

“Sir? Jalalabad is behind… And at this hour…”

He is not saying no. He never says ‘no’ to any of my requests, during all those days. He is just informing me. If I was really crazy enough and insisted, he’d just take me. He knows we’d get fucked, perhaps even killed, but he would not refuse. He’s my comrade and I feel safe with him.

“Sorry, I fell asleep… What I mean: we’ll go to Jalalabad soon, when I return to Afghanistan.”

I am thinking for a few seconds. This drive, just being here, all of it feels right, exactly as it is supposed to be. I’m not certain where exactly I want to go right now, but one thing I know for sure: I have to keep going.

“Please, just drive, Mr. Tahir.”

“Forward?” He asks, intuitively. I know that he knows. We both know, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

“Yes, please. Drive forward. Always forward!”

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

The Afghan Connection of Terrorism in Pakistan 

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat for Veterans Today

Pakistan’s Armed Forces have broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists by the successful military operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has also been extended to other provinces of the country. While, Pakistan’s law-enforcing agencies, especially primary intelligence agency, ISI has broken the network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of terror attempts. But, the new wave of terrorism which started in the beginning of this year, having connection in Afghanistan has, again, enveloped Pakistan.

In this regard, at least 88 people were martyred and 343 were injured on February 16, this year when a suicide bomber attacked the crowded Sufi shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, Sindh province of Pakistan. 

Terrorist organisation, the Islamic State group (Also known as Daesh, ISIS, ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack.

On February 15, three suicide bombers targeted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and the adjoining tribal areas leaving around seven people dead. One of the incidents occurred in Peshawar where a suicide bomber riding a motorbike hit a vehicle carrying civil judges, while two other suicide bombers blew themselves up at separate locations in Mohmand Agency.

At least 13 people were killed on February 13, this year when a suicide bomber struck outside the Punjab Assembly on the Mall Road in the eastern city of Lahore during a peaceful protest of the chemists and pharmacists against a new law.

The affiliated faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA also known as JuA) took responsibility for the deadly suicide bombing in Lahore.

Terror attack in Lahore coincided with the incident in Quetta-the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where at least one policeman was killed and five people were injured on February 13, 2017 in an explosion occurred on Sariab road.

Besides, more than 24 people had been killed in an explosion which ripped through a crowded marketplace in Parachinar Kurram tribal agency on January 21, 2017. Soon after the incident, Afghan-based TTP claimed responsibility for the blast in Parachinar.

At least 65 people were killed when a blast struck at the shrine of the Sufi saint Shah Noorani in Balochistan’s Hub Tehsil on November 12, 2016. ISIL had accepted responsibility for the attack via Amaq, its affiliated news agency.

Earlier, the affiliated group of the TTP, TTP-JA took responsibility for a deadly suicide bombing in Quetta, which killed at least 74 people on August 8, 2016 in a assault at the government-run Civil Hospital.

However, the suicide bombing at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar is the worst single attack since the TTP militants massacred about 150 students at an army school in Peshawar in December 2014. Pakistan’s military and civil high officials strongly condemned the attack and recent terror attacks by pointing out their connection in Afghanistan.

In this respect, a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that senior Afghan diplomats were summoned to the General Headquarters (Of army) over the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and asked to ensure that immediate action was taken against the Pakistani terrorists living in safe havens in their country.

The army, which took the lead in dealing with Afghanistan over the terrorist sanctuaries there, had soon after the Sehwan shrine attack announced closure of the border crossings with Afghanistan citing security reasons.

According to the statement of the DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, on February 17, 2017, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa appealed to the nation to stay calm by saying, “our security forces shall not allow hostile powers to succeed…each drop of nation’s blood shall be revenged, and revenged immediately…no more restraint for anyone.”

Gen. Javed Bajwa had called Gen John Nicholson, commander of the US’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan through telephone to protest continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan perpetrated from Afghanistan, saying that they were testing Pakistan’s policy of cross-border restraint.

Gen. Bajwa told Gen. Nicholson that recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan had been claimed by terrorist organisations whose leadership is hiding in Afghanistan, and asked him to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.

In a terse message, during the conversation with Nicholson, Gen. Bajwa also informed him of the list of 76 “most wanted” terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier—operating from Afghan territory or hand them over to Pakistan for trying them over their involvement in terrorism.

Taking note of the terror assault in Sehwan, including the recent ones, Pakistan Army targeted a training camp of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and militant hideouts located close to the Pak-Afghan border in areas adjacent to Mohmand and Khyber agencies.

In a similar message to Kabul, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz called Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar to call for strong action against JuA and terrorist’s sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan said that Afghanistan had been asked to address concerns about presence of terrorist groups on its soil, which are behind the latest wave of terrorism in the country.

It is notable that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, while addressing a press conference on February 17, this year claimed that the suspects involved in planning and carrying out the Feb 13 suicide bombing on a protest at Lahore’s Charing Cross (Mall Road) belonged to Afghanistan. Sharif also announced the arrest of the facilitator of the attacker, Anwar-ul-Haq who he said belonged to Fata’s Bajaur Agency which neighbours Afghanistan. The suspect’s confessional statement was aired during the briefing. The suspect stated, “I was associated with Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and they trained me”, adding that he has visited Afghanistan around 15 to 20 times.

The police officers involved in the investigation into the incident of Mall Road, Lahore revealed that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is an offshoot of the Tehreek-i-Taliban.

Nevertheless, Pakistan has been hit by a series of terrorist attacks since Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) announced its ‘Operation Ghazi’. The Afghanistan-based JuA had in the announcement also hinted at unification of TTP splinter groups.

As regards the terror assault on the Police Training College in Quetta, IG FC Major General Sher Afgun had informed the press that the attackers acted on directions from Afghanistan and the initial investigation suggested that the terrorists were affiliated with the outlawed Lashkar-e- Jhangvi Al Almi militant group. He elaborated, “We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan.”

Notably, as part of the dual strategy, CIA, RAW and Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. With latest capture of six NDS supported terrorists in Balochistan, the number of NDS backed terrorists arrested and killed by Pakistani intelligence agencies has crossed over 126. These external secret agencies are particularly supporting the TTP which is hiding in Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan. Reportedly, Mullah Fazlullah led TTP was being prepared to carry out a fresh wave of terror activities inside Pakistan, as the latter has become center of the Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan.

Located on the southwestern coast of Pakistan, Balochistan’s Gwadar seaport is close to the Strait of Hormuz from where more than 17 million barrels of oil passes every day. Its location among South Asia, the oil-rich Middle East, and oil and gas-resourced Central Asia has further increased its strategic significance. Besides, Balochistan’s abundant mineral resources irritate the eyes of the US, India and Israel which intend to weaken Pakistan for their collective aims, as the latter is also the only nuclear country in the Islamic World.

In case of Balochistan, every Pakistani knows that the militant outfits like ISIS and separatist groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and their affiliated groups, including Jundollah (God’s soldiers) and Lashkar-i-Janghvi which have been creating unrest in the Balochistan get logistic support from RAW and Mossad with the tactical assistance of CIA. In the recent years, these terrorist outfits massacred many persons through suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted killings and sectarian violence. These externally-supported insurgent groups had kidnapped and killed many Chinese and Iranian nationals in Pakistan including Iranian diplomats. They have claimed responsibility for a number of terror assaults, including those on Shias in Balochsitan and Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan.

As a matter of fact, like Syrian war, as part of the dual strategy of their countries, CIA, RAW and Mossad are especially using ISIS terrorists who are behind the latest blasts in Balochistan to obtain the covert aims of their countries against Pakistan, China and Iran.

It is of particular attention that arrest of the Indian spy Kulbushan Yadav in Balochistan has exposed Indian undeclared war against Pakistan. While addressing a joint press conference with the then Federal Minister for Information Pervaiz Rasheeda and former Director General of ISPR Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said on March 29, 2016, “Kulbushan Yadav’s arrest is a rare case that does not happen very often.” He disclosed that Yadav was an active officer of the Indian Navy prior to his joining RAW. He also served as a scrap dealer and had a jewelry business in Chahbahar, Iran, after he joined RAW in 2013.

A video was also shown during the press conference in which Yadav confessed that he spied for India. Yadav admitted that he was assigned with the task to create unrest in Karachi and Balolchitan by stating, “I supported the individuals who worked to destabilize Pakistan…I promoted the criminal mindset that was there in Balochistan.” Another task assigned to him was to target the Gwadar Port. Yadav also confessed—funding Baloch separatists along with other terrorists. During investigation, RAW agent Yadav admitted that during his stay, he contacted various Baloch separatist leaders and insurgents, including Dr Allah Nazar Baloch, to execute the task to damage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s security agencies uncovered another ring of Indian spies in the country, working as under covert agents, found involved in subversive activities to destabilize Pakistan. In this connection, on November 2, last year, Islamabad disclosed that five Indian diplomats who were serving at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad found to be part of the RAW spy network and were involved in subversive activities by facilitating and funding terrorism. They were declared as persona non grata and expelled from the country.

Undoubtedly, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially have their connection in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures strong border, control management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this respect.

Taking cognizance of the anti-Pakistan intruders, Pakistan’s army had decided to build a fence along the border, and to control the border crossings. The strategic project of 1,100-kilometre-long trench with the cost of Rs14 billion which was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan by Frontier Corps in 2013 has been completed last year. In the next phase, the project will be extended to the entire long border with Afghanistan which had opposed this plan.

While, from time to time, controversy arises between Afghanistan and Pakistan when Afghan officials refused to recognize the Durand Line which is the 2640 kilometer long and porous border, situated between both the countries.

The issue again came to the limelight on June 12, 2016 when Afghan security forces started unprovoked firing at Torkham border crossing, resulting in injuries to more than 16 Pakistani citizens, including the martyrdom of some Pakistani security personnel. The aim was to stop Pakistan from construction of a gate.

Durand Line has not been drawn by Pakistan, but it was declared border line by British representative Sir Durand and Afghan Ameer Ghazi Amanullah Khan in 1919. People of Pakistan’s province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (Tribal Areas) opted to join Pakistan in 1947. So, it is a declared border line and Afghan government has no right to object on any construction along with the Durand line.

There is no doubt that escalation of tension at Pak- Afghan border is deliberately engineered by the elements opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

Pakistan is committed to tackle the problem of terrorism mainly emanating from Afghanistan. Therefore, the effective border management becomes imperative to control all the terrorism-related infiltrations, drug smuggling etc.  Moreover, effective border management will also facilitate both countries to come out of blame game, as it would offer a strict check on both sides to counter the free movement of terrorists and drug mafia lords, who are the important factors of deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and its obvious backlash on Pakistan.

Besides, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality despite of its slow pace and continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and Kabul raised alarm-bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have previously suggested many initiatives to resolve their differences. However, as fast as these solutions had emerged, they have disappeared due to lack of follow-up. Afghanistan and Pakistan have no other option, but to cooperate and resolve their differences through political and diplomatic dialogue. And there is a huge lack of trust between the both sides. Hence, it is imperative for both the countries to develop a framework for strategic dialogue, focused on short, medium and long term solutions. As a trust building initiative, an effective border management mechanism will be beneficial for the two countries. Such an establishment will also plug in many loop holes, being manipulated by the terrorist outfits to conduct cross border terrorism.

We may conclude that besides the previous terror-events, the recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan have connection in Afghanistan.

Posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on The Afghan Connection of Terrorism in Pakistan 

Thousands of US airstrikes unaccounted for in Syria, Iraq & Afghanistan

NOVANEWS

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US Central Command has been misleading the public in its assessment of the overall progress in the war on terror by failing to account for thousands of airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria, a Military Times investigation reveals.

The investigation revealed that open source data of US Air Force strikes does not contain all the missiles fired. That incomplete data, however, continues to be used by the Pentagon on multiple occasions in official reports and media publications.

The publication says that in 2016 alone, American aircraft conducted at least 456 airstrikes in Afghanistan that were not recorded in the database maintained by the US Air Force.

The investigation also revealed discrepancies in Iraq and Syria where the Pentagon failed to account for nearly 6,000 strikes dating back to 2014, when the US-led coalition has launched its first airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS,ISIL) terrorist targets.

According to the Air Force, coalition jets conducted 23,740 airstrikes through the end of 2016. The US Defense Department, however, puts the number at 17,861 until the end of January 2017.

“The Pentagon routinely cites these figures when updating the media on its operations against the Islamic State and al-Qaida affiliates in Iraq and Syria,” the publication says.

Military Times remains especially puzzled by a statement made by an Air Force official in December who assured the publication that its monthly summary of activity in Iraq and Syria “specifically” represents the entire American-led coalition “as a whole, which is all 20-nations and the US branches.”

“It’s unclear whether this statement was intentionally misleading, or simply indicative of widespread internal ignorance, confusion or indifference about what’s contained in this data,” Andrew deGrandpre, Military Times’ senior editor and Pentagon bureau chief, said in the article.

Military Times says that the “most alarming” aspects of the investigation are that the discrepancies in numbers go back as far as 2001, when the US, under George W. Bush’s administration, struck Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 attacks on American soil.

The publication reveals that the unaccounted-for airstrikes in all three war zones were allegedly conducted by US helicopters and armed drones which are overseen by US Central Command.

“The enormous data gap raises serious doubts about transparency in reported progress against the Islamic State, al-Qaida, and the Taliban, and calls into question the accuracy of other Defense Department disclosures documenting everything from costs to casualty counts,” deGrandpre wrote.

The Pentagon and Army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Those other key metrics include American combat casualties, taxpayer expense and the military’s overall progress in degrading enemy capabilities,” the publication added, wondering whether the military wanted to mislead the American public.

READ MORE:

US report on civilian casualties in Iraq & Syria: ‘Figures plucked out of thin air’

Pentagon acknowledges just 5-10% percent of actual civilian casualties in Syria – Amnesty to RT

Posted in USA, Afghanistan, Iraq, SyriaComments Off on Thousands of US airstrikes unaccounted for in Syria, Iraq & Afghanistan

US withdrawal, the only hope for peace in Afghanistan

NOVANEWS
Press TV 

The best case scenario for peace in Afghanistan is US withdrawal of forces from the country and multilateral negotiations between main stakeholders to establish a national unity government, according to Professor Dennis Etler, an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs.

Etler, a professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California, made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Saturday while commenting on a US military announcement which says the Pentagon will deploy a new task force of approximately 300 Marines to Afghanistan’s restive Helmand Province, marking the return to a region where hundreds of troops were killed in fierce combat.

The forces with a unit called Task Force Southwest will deploy this spring to advise the Afghan army and police, senior Marine officers said Friday. The deployment will last nine months and is expected to evolve into a series of similar rotations for the Marines, officials said.

us-military-bases-surround-iranThere are approximately 8,500 US troops in Afghanistan, with most being located at major installations in the capital, Kabul, and at the US airfield in Bagram.

Professor Etler said, “With the lame duck Obama administration quickly coming to an end the question of the US/NATO presence in Afghanistan comes to the fore.”

“The Afghan war which began in 2001 has been the longest that the US has fought. After thousands of casualties and billions of dollars Afghanistan is less secure than any time since the US invasion with one third of the country under Taliban control and a plethora of Takfiri terrorist groups infiltrating the territory,” he stated.

“As things now stand the interminable US/NATO occupation of Afghanistan appears to be headed for another round of escalation,” the analyst noted.

Will Trump follow through on his vow to leave Afghanistan?

Professor Etler said that “there is a new administration set to be installed in Washington.”

“Trump has vociferously stated time and time again that Afghanistan is a rat hole into which the US has heedlessly sent thousands of US soldiers and spent billions of dollars to little if any effect. Trump in a tweet from 2013 succinctly said, ‘Let’s get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA,’” he stated.

“The question is will Trump once he’s in the White House live up to his words? And if he does what will happen to Afghanistan? Will it become a hot bed of Takfiri terrorism like Iraq and Syria? The Taliban are an indigenous force motivated by nationalist fervor to expel foreign occupiers of whatever sort. They have demonstrated that they will unrelentingly persist in their resistance no matter how long it takes,” he said.

“The only way out is multinational negotiations in which the Taliban participate as fully vested members. Russia and China, hoping to stem the tide of Takfiri terrorism gaining a foothold on their borders, have already stepped into the breach,” he said.

“Late in 2016, Russian, Chinese and Pakistani officials met in Moscow calling for a flexible approach towards working with the Taliban to foster a peaceful dialogue,” the researched argued.

“The Taliban have also maintained strong links to China, having sent a delegation to discuss the situation in Afghanistan in July 2016 and declaring that they will protect Chinese interests in a $3 billion copper mining project in the northern part of the country,” he stated.

“The best case scenario for peace in Afghanistan is multilateral negotiations between the Afghan government, the Taliban, Pakistan, Russia and China to establish a government of national unity in which the Taliban are full participants,” the analyst noted.

“As with the recently brokered ceasefire in Syria there is no need for US/NATO involvement. In fact, as Trump has previously stated, it’s time for the US to get out and go home. Let the adults resolve the issues that the US and its NATO allies have only exacerbated,” he advised.

“But will Trump do as he says? Will he let others succeed where the US has failed? Only time will tell,” he concluded.

Posted in USA, AfghanistanComments Off on US withdrawal, the only hope for peace in Afghanistan

leaders Moved to Afghanistan from Pakistan

NOVANEWS

Image result for balochistan photos

By Sajjad Shaukat

The armed forces of Pakistan have broken the backbone of the Taliban and other militant outfits

by the successful military operation Zarb-e- Azb, which has also been extended to other parts of

the country, including Balochistan. And Pakistan’s intelligence agency, ISI has broken the

network of these terrorist groups by capturing several militants, while thwarting a number of

terror attempts.

Since the government of the Balochistan province announced general pardon and protection to

the Baloch militants as part of reconciliation process, many insurgents and their leaders have

surrendered their arms and decided to work for the development of Pakistan and the province,

peace has been restored in Balochistan. In these circumstances, Taliban leaders have moved to

Afghanistan from Pakistan.

This fact has also been verified by a feature story of the Associated Press (AP), under the

caption, “Leaders of the Taliban may have moved to Afghanistan from Pakistan,” Published on

November 26, 2016.

The AP wrote, “After operating out of Pakistan for more than a decade, the leaders of

Afghanistan’s Taliban movement may have moved back to their homeland to try to build on this

year’s gains in the war and to establish a permanent presence…if confirmed, the move would be

a sign of the Taliban’s confidence in their fight against the US-backed government in Kabul. It

could also be an attempt by the militants to distance themselves from Pakistan.”

The AP reported, “The Taliban’s leaders have been based in Pakistani cities, including Quetta,

Karachi and Peshawar, since their rule in Afghanistan was overthrown in the 2001 US invasion

after the 9/11 attacks.”

According to this news agency, “Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid who said that the

leadership shura, or council, relocated to Afghanistan “some months ago,” although he would not

say to where…one Taliban official said that the shura had moved to southern Helmand province,

which the insurgents consider to be part of their heartland and where most of the opium that

funds their operations is produced. The official refused to be identified because of security

reasons…other Taliban sources said the justice, recruitment and religious councils had also

moved to southern Afghanistan. The statements could not be independently

confirmed…Mujahid, however, said Kabul officials were aware of the moves, prompted by

battlefield gains that the insurgents believed would put them in a strong position once talks with

the Afghan government aimed at ending the war were restarted. Dialogue broke down earlier this

year.”

The AP wrote, “The insurgents have spread their footprint across Afghanistan since international

combat troops scaled down in 2014. They have maintained multiple offensives and threatened at

least three provincial capitals in recent months: Kunduz, in northern Kunduz province; Lashkah

Gar, in Helmand in the south; and Tirin Kot in Uruzgan…the US military has conceded the

insurgents have gained ground, although definitive breakdowns are difficult to verify. This year,

Afghan security forces are believed to have suffered their worst losses since 2001, with the

military estimating 2016 fatalities at more than 5,000 so far.”

It added, “A permanent Taliban presence in Afghanistan would send a message to followers and

fighters that the insurgents now control so much territory that they can no longer be dislodged by

government security forces, said Franz-Michael Mellbin, the European Union’s ambassador in

Kabul…but such a move could also be part of the Taliban’s attempt to try to create a more

independent position, as parts of the Taliban would like to be under less direct pressure from

Pakistan.”

The AP reported, “Ghani has failed to bring them into a dialogue aimed at peace. After a year-

long diplomatic offensive, Ghani in late 2015 cut ties with Islamabad and has since openly

accused Pakistan of waging war on Afghanistan, using the Taliban as its proxy. Pakistani

authorities deny accusations that their powerful ISI intelligence agency supports the

insurgents…with the major councils based in Afghanistan.”

It said, “If the move is confirmed, it could also indicate a unity among leaders, who have recently

been portrayed by some observers, including the US military, as suffering widening divisions

and struggling for cash—even though the opium production under their control has an annual

export value of $4 billion, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.”

The news agency mentioned, “The Taliban’s leadership shura consists of 16 elected officials

who oversee activity across Afghanistan, give permission for any changes in planning and

strategy, and mediate disputes among military commanders…the military commanders include

Mullah Yaqoub, the son of the movement's founder, Mullah Mohammad Omar—who was

declared dead last year—and Sirajuddin Haqqani, leader of the brutal Haqqani network and a co-

deputy leader with Yaqoub…the Afghan Taliban are led by Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada,

who took over after the death of Mullah Omar’s successor, Akhtar Mansoor, in a US drone strike

this year. High-ranking Taliban officials say Haibatullah is not engaged in day-to- day decision-

making. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to

reporters.”

The AP disclosed, “A senior Taliban commander, Asad Afghan, told The Associated Press the

move would consolidate the insurgents’ military gains and help lay the ground for a dominant

position if and when peace talks resume…we are in the last stages of war and are moving

forward, said Afghan, who is closely involved in formulating the insurgents' war strategy..we are

the real government in Afghanistan, he said. The move across the border would give the

movement more focus at a time it needs to be quick, clear and more secure about our decisions.”

However, almost all the terrorists or terrorist groups and insurgency in Pakistan, especially

Balochistan have their connections in Afghanistan. The porous border between Pakistan and

Afghanistan is frequently used by human and drug traffickers, criminals and terrorists. Their

easy access through unguarded porous border provides opportunity to miscreants to cause havoc

inside Pakistan and Afghanistan. For effective counter terrorism measures, strong border-control

management is vital at Pak-Afghan border. But, Afghan rulers are using delaying tactics in this

respect by rejecting Islamabad’s positive proposals.

Notably, as part of the dual strategy, based in Afghanistan, American CIA, Indian RAW and

Israeli Mossad are in connivance with the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of

Security (NDS) and other terrorist groups. Based in Afghanistan, operatives of these foreign

agencies who are well-penetrated in the terrorist outfits like Islamic State group (Also known as

Daesh, ISIS, ISIL), Tehreek-e- Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and their affiliated Taliban groups are

using their militants to destabilize Tibetan regions of China, Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan and

Pakistan’s Balochistan by arranging the subversive activities. In this connection, the China-

Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is their special target. The militant groups have conducted

several terror attacks in various regions of Pakistan, especially the recent ones in Balochistan

province which has become center of the Great Game owing to the ideal location of Balochistan.

There is no doubt that as part of the double game of their countries, escalation of tension at Pak-

Afghan border is deliberately engineered by the elements such as CIA, RAW and Mossad which

are opposed to peace talks and improvement of bilateral relations between Pakistan and

Afghanistan. Hence, their countries always shift the blame game to Pakistan.

Undoubtedly, Afghan peace and reconciliation process is a reality, despite of its slow pace and

continual interruptions. The positive trajectory of constructive relations between Islamabad and

Kabul raised alarm-bells amongst the US-led adversaries who are attempting to affect the

progressive Pak-Afghan relations through smear and sinister scheming.

Although Taliban leaders have moved to Afghanistan from Pakistan, yet especially America,

India and puppet rulers of Afghanistan will continue blame game against Islamabad, because,

despite the prolonged war of more than 15 years, the US-led entities or NATO have failed in

coping with the resistance of those Taliban who are fighting for the liberation of their country.

America, India, Israel and some Western countries are also against Pakistan, as the latter is the

only nuclear country in the Islamic World.

Posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on leaders Moved to Afghanistan from Pakistan

Reality Check: Ted Cruz Says Middle East Was Better Off Before War On Terror

NOVANEWS

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“The Middle East was better off with Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi in power.”

Those words are from Republican presidential candidate and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

But is he right? What do the numbers show in the years since the Iraq war?

This is a Reality Check you won’t see anywhere else.

“We’ve seen a consistent mistake in foreign policy, we’ve seen Democrats and a lot of establishment Republicans in Washington get involved in toppling Middle Eastern governments, and it ends up benefiting the bad guys,”  Cruz said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “It ends up handing them over to radical Islamic terrorists.”

In that statement, the senator explains how he believes American intervention since the start of the Iraq war has led from one disaster to another.

“Was the world in fact a better place the middle east a better place when Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein was in power and when Assad wasn’t fighting for his life in Syria?,” Cruz asked. “Of course it was. That isn’t even a close call.”

Well, without question the senator is correct. The Middle East was without question a safer and more secure place under Gaddafi, Hussein and when Assad wasn’t fighting for his life. But to really get that point, here are some numbers to consider.

According to reports from our own U.S. government, reports of deaths from terrorism in the Middle East between 2002 and 2014 have increased 4,500 percent.

But lets go a little deeper. Take for instance just the country of Iraq. Before the 2003 U.S. invasion, do you know how many suicide attacks there were in Iraq? None. In the country’s history there had never been one. But since the 2003 invasion, there have been 1,892.

In Iraq, prior to the start of the Iraq war, there were reportedly just over 1.5 million Christians living in that country. And yet shortly after the war started, more than one million of them fled to Syria. That didn’t work out well. Today fewer than half a million Christians remain and yet are being exterminated by groups like ISIS.

And what about Afghanistan? Just last year alone, insurgents killed 2,643 civilians last year—the highest number since U.N. records began.

How about Pakistan? In the 14 years prior to 9/11 there was one suicide attack on Pakistani soil. In the 14 years since, there have been 486 suicide attacks.

The same is true in the past 14 years in Somalia (88), Yemen (85), Libya (29), Nigeria (91), and Syria (165).

So what you need to know is that 14 years after this so-called war on terror began, the United States is on track to have spent $6 trillion on just the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To put that into perspective, that means we have spent $75,000 per American household—most of it borrowed money.

What’s more, nearly 7,000 U.S. military personal have died. Tens of thousands more are being lost, as every day 22 U.S. veterans commit suicide.

If we are to be honest, the only thing the war on terror seems to have brought us and the rest of the world, is more war and more terror.

Posted in Middle East, USA, Afghanistan, Iraq, SyriaComments Off on Reality Check: Ted Cruz Says Middle East Was Better Off Before War On Terror

Will the US Actually Be Tried in An International Court for Afghanistan War Crimes?

NOVANEWS
US soldiers in Afghanistan

After reports emerged alleging that the US may be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over war crimes in Afghanistan, Radio Sputnik host Brian Becker discussed the possibility of such a scenario with international criminal lawyer Christopher Black.

Black, who is on the list of counsel at the ICC, told Loud & Clear that the initial report by Foreign Policy, suggesting Washington’s actions in Afghanistan may be investigated, appeared at a tough time for the organization. Prior to the publication three African nations — South Africa, Gambia and Burundi — withdrew from ICC over its alleged bias toward the continent.

Listen to Christopher Black:  ”ICC Opens Afghanistan War Crimes Investigation: Could the U.S. Actually be Tried?” on Spreaker.

“It’s something to reestablish [ICC’s] prestige and credibility, because it’s in a state of collapse at the moment,” Black commented on the occasion, adding that there’s little evidence that the US will actually appear before court.

Citing the ICC report from the last year, Black stressed that potential inquiry into Afghanistan’s war crimes will be referred to every party involved in the conflict, including the Taliban, Afghan government and other forces. But it won’t concern the states that investigate the purported war crimes on their own, he added.

“[The report] says that the US has disciplinary procedures set up. People are being investigated [by US courts] and [ICC] may have to assess whether it is a serious investigation on that. Because the ICC won’t charge a country with war crimes if its own internal procedures are in place and they are pursuing people who commit crimes.”

In case of Afghanistan, Washington largely justifies its actions in the country, Black said.

“They said they made that attack, aggression against Afghanistan, in order to go after the Taliban government, which was ‘harboring Osama bin Laden’,” he said. “But remember the history, the Taliban said ‘we do have bin Laden here and will hand him over if you present evidence of his crimes.’ All they received was bombs.”

Moreover, Black highlighted, the US is not a member of ICC and has its federal protection act in place that prevents American personnel and officials from being charged by international courts, which means it’s unlikely the ICC will ever charge any American with war crimes.

“I don’t see them [US] accepting anything from the ICC, if it had an independent prosecutor,” Black said, adding that the ICC, under its two prosecutors, has done nothing to deal with war crimes committed by NATO forces in Libya or Yugoslavia.

The ICC ultimately is a tool for extension of American power worldwide Black explained, adding that Washington controls the prosecution staff in the ICC, “by placing its personnel in key positions or by persons that can control key positions.”

“The NATO tribunals have three purposes: to demonize governments that they want to crush, to cover-up their role in those wars and to make sure those people will never come back to governments. And the rest is propaganda.”

Since its establishment in 2003, it has opened 10 investigations and has found guilty 39 people, all from Africa.

“The US and its Western allies are using the ICC to go after who are standing their way, But they do not go for people [Uganda’s President Yoweri] Museveni who commit war crimes on the daily basis all over the Congo. Their client-leaders are left away and the rest are targeted,” he said.

Posted in USA, AfghanistanComments Off on Will the US Actually Be Tried in An International Court for Afghanistan War Crimes?

US Congress’s Take on the Heroin Epidemic. 6400 tons Produced in US-Occupied Afghanistan

opium_heroin

A heroin epidemic is on fire all across America. Heroin deaths shot up from 1,779 in 2001 to 10,574 in 2014 as Afghan opium poppy fields metastasized from 7,600 hectares in 2001 (when the War in Afghanistan began) to 224,000 hectares currently.

The Taliban outlawed opium in Afghanistan in 2000 and within a year it was all but gone, demonstrating that Afghan opium can be eradicated quickly for any administration that chooses to do so. Afghanistan is, by far, the number one source globally of both opium and heroin.

In 2014, 7,554 tons of raw opium were produced worldwide, including 6,400 tons in US-occupied Afghanistan and 173 tons from Mexico and Colombia. Opium plus chemicals (like acetic anhydride) produce heroin. US-occupied Afghanistan produces 85% of the world’s heroin. Mexico and Colombia produce only 2% of the world’s heroin. Mexico and Colombia produce enough heroin for only 115,000 heroin addicts.

Other countries such as Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam produce the remaining 13% of the world’s heroin. Heroin from Southeast Asian (Golden Triangle) countries go along heroin trade routes to other parts of Asia, Australia and Europe.

Most heroin in the US is coming from US-occupied Afghanistan. There is no other mathematical possibility. There is no other physical possibility.

There were 189,000 heroin users in the US in 2001, now there are 4,500,000 (2.5 million heroin addicts and 2 million casual users).

The heroin epidemic is big enough now for Congressional Hearings to be called. Congressional Hearings can be authorized by Chairs of various committees. Senator Johnson, Chair of the Homeland Security Committee, for example, can call hearings. There is no greater threat to national security at the moment than tons of Afghan heroin flooding into US each week, killing over 10,000 Americans a year.

Senator Grassley, Chair of the Judiciary Committee can also call hearings.

Basic questions can be asked like 1) how did Afghan opium spread from 7,600 hectares to 224,000 hectares, 2) why did US heroin deaths shoot up from 1,779 in 2001 to 10,574 in 2014, 3) how did the Taliban eradicate Afghan opium (from 93,000 hectares in 1999 to 7,600 hectares in 2001), 4) why hasn’t the current Administration done likewise, and 5) why did President Obama stop all US opium eradication efforts in US-occupied Afghanistan in 2009, effectively green lighting the Afghan opium and heroin trade.

I contacted all 535 US Congresspeople and several hundred opposition candidates to find out Congress’s take on this deadly epidemic.

Seven incumbents responded as did thirty-three opposition candidates. Answers varied from “close the CIA” to ‘beef up the border with Mexico’ to ‘decriminalize drugs’ to ‘more treatment’ to ‘eradicate Afghan opium crops.’

In a show of bipartisan unity not seen for a long time, the US Senate passed S.524, The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016, by a vote of 94-1 in 2016. This bill proposes modest improvements in treatment and prevention efforts.

The corresponding bill in the US House of Representatives is still pending in the Judiciary Committee as is allocation of $725 million in funding for this bill.

Senator Ron Johnson (REP – WI) responded to inquiries with facts about work he has done as Chair of the Homeland Security and Government Oversight Committee to beef up border security to more effectively combat drug trafficking and on getting the Addiction and Recovery Act passed and funded.

Senator Johnson has also taken a lead in the fight against sex trafficking, a predicament many heroin users find themselves in, stating that “the degradation is sick.” Senator Johnson added amendments onto the Addiction and Recovery Act “aimed at helping Veterans, the Tribes in Wisconsin, and others.”

Former Senator Feingold (DEM – WI) declined to comment.

Heroin from Afghanistan has killed more people than the 55,000 Americans killed in the Vietnam War. An American now gets killed every 32 minutes by Afghan heroin. With US heroin deaths tripling every four years, an American will get killed by heroin every 16 minutes by 2020. Since 2009, American policy has been to permit Afghan opium growing and the heroin trade, to minimize US troop casualties in Afghanistan and to maximize US civilian heroin casualties here in the USA.

Senator John Cornyn (REP – TX) spoke candidly about how:

the abuse of heroin and prescription painkillers is devastating families and communities. The truth is, the problem is getting worse. Deaths due to heroin overdoses and prescription drug overdoses have even surpassed car accidents as the #1 cause of injury-related deaths nationwide. So it’s time for Congress to do something significant to begin to address this disturbing trend. This (Addiction and Recovery Act) bill is a good example of how Republicans and Democrats working on a bipartisan basis can zero-in on a problem that’s harming our nation and work together to address it, and I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation.

While this bill touches on how to battle drug addiction, we need to do more to cut the source of drugs off and to keep them from getting into our country in the first place. Unfortunately, even while the production and demand of these illegal drugs has been growing, we have simply not done enough to combat it.

Senator Cornyn:

introduced several amendments that would help focus our resources to interdict these shipments and to help stem the growing tide of illicit drugs entering the U.S. I’m glad that we are making some progress on this legislation. I’m optimistic that we will be able to complete it in a bipartisan fashion, which is the only way you get things done around here. 

Senate Chuck Grassley (REP-IA), who marshaled the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act to final passage, stated:

The heroin and opioid epidemic is taking lives and shattering families in Iowa and across our country, so I’m grateful that my colleagues have come together to pass the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. This bill will help to combat the scourge that affects all walks of life through expanded access to life-saving overdose reversal drugs, increased prevention education, a renewed focus on addiction recovery. Fighting addiction is a bipartisan issue, and requires bipartisan consideration, which is why we included the viewpoints and amendments of many senators. The House of Representatives should now move swiftly to get this bill to the President’s desk so we can begin to provide relief for American families.

Senator Grassley added:

More than 120 Americans die each day from drug overdoses. The Addiction and Recovery Act would help to stem these tragedies by expanding law enforcement and first responders’ access to naloxone, a fast-acting medication that can reverse the deadly effects of opioid overdoses … to treat addiction and assist in recovery, the bill launches an evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and intervention program to expand the use of best practices nationwide. It also establishes a medication assisted treatment demonstration program, and helps to identify and treat non-violent individuals struggling with addiction who encounter the criminal justice system.

Senator Grassley (REP-IA), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the Caucus on International Narcotics Control and Senator Feinstein (DEM-CA), Co-Chair of the Caucus on International Narcotics Control, both praised Senate passage of their Fight Transnational Drug Trafficking bill. The US Senate passed the bill in Fall 2015 by unanimous consent.

“Since drug cartels are continually evolving, this legislation ensures that our criminal laws keep pace,” said Grassley, adding “the bill closes a loophole abused by drug traffickers who intend for drugs to end up in the United States, but supply them through an intermediary. The Justice Department needs every legal tool to help crack down on those who ship these substances into our country.”

“International drug traffickers continue to find new ways to circumvent our laws,” said Feinstein “to reduce the flow of drugs into the US, the federal government needs the legal authority to aggressively pursue transnational criminal organizations and drug kingpins in any country. This bill gives law enforcement the authority they need to go after these criminals.”

Senators Johnson and Grassley have not yet responded to a follow up inquiry asking when their Committees will hold hearings about the surge of Afghan opium since opium growing was permitted by American policy in 2009, leading to an increase to 224,000 Afghan opium hectares, simultaneous with the surge in American heroin deaths from 3,036 in 2010 to 10,574 in 2014 and the surge in heroin users from 189,000 Americans in 2001 to 4,500,000 Americans in 2015, how all that Afghan heroin is getting to US, what (if anything) Congress will do about the role of people working for the federal government in trafficking heroin, what can be done about it, how the Taliban eliminated opium growing in Afghanistan within a year (mid-2000 to mid-2001) and why hasn’t the current Administration done likewise.

“Close the CIA” was one of the first responses I got from an opposition candidate, Scott Jameson, a Libertarian Congressional candidate in Texas’s 3rd Congressional District (CD). In a previous election, Mr. Jameson earned 20.9% of the vote in a State Senate campaign.

Chris Aguayo, Veteran’s Party candidate for US Senate in Illinois, stated:

First, we as a country need to accept the fact that we have a growing epidemic. We also have to be honest about how the drugs are actually making it into the country past customs. We have to hold those in charge and involved accountable. So how do we do that? We already know that the CIA and DEA are involved. We also know that the CIA uses Mexican cartels to funnel drugs into the US. The CIA involvement with cartels isn’t new knowledge. When elected I will push for legislation to end the CIA involvement with cartels and terrorist organizations. I would also push to have the Afghanistan government outlaw opium like they did in the past. We have to stop the issue at the source. When I say that I am going to put a target on my back for my constituents and take a stand for them in Washington DC I mean ever word.

Second, I firmly believe communities need more resources to help those with addictions. I’m appalled at how many mental health treatment facilities have been shut down. This has forced an over-growth in our prison systems without the proper treatment for those in need. The big question is where is that funding going to come from? How are we going to pay for it without raising taxes? We need the State of Illinois to pass a balanced and Constitutional budget. We need to look into cutting funding for unnecessary programs. We also need to provide law enforcement with the tools necessary to find drug smugglers and dealers providing the heroin on the streets of our cities. Community leaders and their communities need to come together to find possible solutions as well. Ending this epidemic will take the combined effort of the federal government, states, and local communities.

Mike Kolls, a Libertarian candidate in Texas implored that:

Government should not act to supply currently illegal drugs, or anything else. Government officials and other influential people should not personally benefit financially from government action. Private organizations and concerned citizens should provide recovery programs, provide necessary assistance to the addicted, and distribute informational materials. Parents and guardians should teach their values to the children. Each person must then choose.

Mr. Kolls added if indeed government officials are proven to be part of the international drug trade then “stop its operations and involvement, force officials and their friends who benefited to give back their ill-gotten booty, seek felony charges and damages from officials whose action directly caused a death or a disabling medical condition and give the sovereign states the regurgitated booty for recovery programs, assistance and public service announcements.”

Billy Hart, a candidate in the Texas Republican Primary election for Congressional candidates, declared:

I am fully aware that the U.S. Government is behind drug trafficking via big pharma companies that elected politicians own stock in. With opiates being purchased worldwide by publicly traded companies in which elected officials are invested in; seemingly the only time there is a war on drugs is when elected officials are not profiting off of it. My opponent (Congressman) Will Hurd is a backbone in this corruption and this activity is the reason I am running against him.

Mr. Hart added that:

Under Oath, former Secretary State Clinton did admit that ISIS was created by the CIA; and knowing Hurd was in Afghanistan, he (epitomizes) the reason we have a war on terror. This is not a party issue to me being that with peace, elected officials cannot profit off of their invested stock in Dept. of Defense funded companies. Our own Democratic Secretary of State Kerry is the largest profiteer off of war earning hundreds of millions of dollars off of seeding international conflict via the CIA, then selling weapons and soldiers overseas as bullet sponges in the name of terror … every one of our elected politicians is driven by the greed of money and corruption.

In conclusion, Mr. Hart described his candidacy against Congressman Hurd (a self-described former CIA operative in Afghanistan) as “a David and Goliath story considering my opponent is sitting on over a million dollars in special interest campaign funds.”

Michael Coblenz, a Democrat campaigning for Congress in Kentucky cited “the increased use of heroin is due to authorities limiting prescriptions of opioid painkillers. So addicts have turned to heroin.” Mr. Coblenz added “drug use tends to increase as the economy sours and that price of heroin has decreased dramatically.”

Mr. Coblenz, if elected, would “improve the economy. The recent recovery has been very uneven across the country and some areas have barely recovered. Invest in improving our crumbling infrastructure as one way to pump money into the economy” and he added “increase drug treatment, treat users as people with a problem and not as criminals. Obviously some are and should be treated as such, but the vast majority are not and should not have their future destroyed with a criminal conviction or prison sentence.”

Mr. Coblenz concluded “improve border control, improve the economic conditions of those regions of the country that produce heroin, allow farmers to return to growing other crops. I would certainly do what I could to examine allegations (of government involvement in the heroin trade) and if true to stop this behavior.”

Geoff Young, another Democratic candidate in Kentucky’s 6th District stated:

America’s military-industrial complex needs to be reduced significantly. Fund infrastructure, not useless weapons. 50% of our military and “intelligence” budgets could be carefully cut in such a way that our nation’s security would actually improve. We would then be able to afford investments in infrastructure, health care, and education that would benefit all Americans.

Mr. Young added:

It’s possible that I would propose cuts of more than 50% in the annual secret budgets of the CIA and NSA. I believe that such cuts would reduce the supply of heroin being produced in Afghanistan and would improve our national security and the stability of our financial system. I would also demand the immediate and permanent withdrawal of all US troops and CIA agents in Afghanistan.

Matt Maxwell, a Republican candidate in Connecticut stated “corruption is at the heart of it. We must root out those entities that facilitate the status quo.” Mr. Maxwell added that he has had “a number of friends who died from overdosing.”

Bob Fitrakis, Green Party candidate for Franklin County, Ohio Public Prosecutor said:

It is a well established fact that the CIA has long allowed narcotics trafficking among US allies in order to finance so-called covert operations. The massive flow of opium which is processed into heroin is a direct result of the US military, the CIA and covert operations being stationed in Afghanistan. This is the famed “Golden Crescent.” As Professor McCoy established in “The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia” the CIA did the same thing during the Vietnam War in Laos. It’s well documented that there was a long-standing agreement between the OSS-CIA and the Mafia to look the other way on organized crime narcotics running into the US. This was done in exchange for intelligence concerning espionage on US docks, information on the invasion of Sicily in WWII and cooperation against the Soviets during the Cold War.

The so-called French Connection was another obvious example of the CIA allowing the Corsican Brotherhood to traffic heroin into New York City in exchange for aiding CIA activities against Communists in France.

The first thing we need to do to stop heroin trafficking is to invest in scanning all cargo coming into the US, particularly by air and ship. Estimates are as low as only 3% of the custom sealed containers being scanned. We clearly need to search all flights coming into military bases like Rickenbacker here in Columbus.

We need to revoke the CIA’s de facto license to be the Cocaine-Importing Agency. Any commercial fronts be they textile companies or fruit importers that are involved in bulk trafficking of heroin need to have their assets confiscated.

I would end all prosecution for personal possession of narcotics and move resources away from street level dealers and focus all resources on the major distributors flooding our streets with heroin. I would use the criminal justice system to assist in getting treatment for those addicted who will accept treatment.

Bob is an attorney, a college professor, a journalist and a superhero crime fighter.

Darryl Cherney, a Green Party primary candidate for President, had this to say:

The war in Afghanistan is a continuation of the opium wars commenced by the British and US back in the 1800’s and continuing on right through World War 2 and Vietnam. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s father, William Delano, was an opium trader as was Robert Forbes. The Taliban came down on the opium trade (in 2000). This could have been one of the many reasons to restart warfare in the land known as “The Graveyard of Empires.”

Afghanistan has had the name Graveyard of the Empires from the time Alexander the Great’s empire was ended there long ago through the ending of the Soviet empire in 1991 to present. One way or another the Afghani people figure out how to destroy empires that have attacked them.

Mr. Cherney, a Fordham University graduate (as is CIA Director John Brennan), added:

We know that nations throughout history have funneled drugs into civilizations they want to conquer, such as our nation’s supplying tribes with alcohol and the aforementioned opium into China by the British, primarily. It’s a tactic of warfare. Which brings us to what I call “the war on people” in this country.

While I (Cherney) fully believe the articles uncovering drug funneling into communities across our nation, I have also seen it first hand. I’ve watched first-hand the cops stop a meth or heroin dealer and then let them go, only to watch one deal to a 10 year old five minutes later. I watched our local DA in Eureka, CA release on no bail an undocumented foreign national who was caught with 2 pounds of methamphetamine, never to be seen again. I see the cops and military occasionally get caught with large quantities of these hard drugs in their possession. In other words, law enforcement allows these drugs into our community and even becomes part of the problem. It serves the powerful to have the middle class terrified by the drug addicted class, which I do see as becoming their own class.

The prison industrial state compliments this nightmare. People coming out of prison destitute with no job possibilities, leaving behind families with the same plight, are more likely to turn to substance abuse and dealing. Pardoning all non-violent drug offenders is in my purview. Working to end unnecessary sentencing will assist as well. It’s a holistic approach.”

Cherney then added:

The culture of corruption and the money involved is colossal, with the banks playing roles laundering money for the cartels. Dismantling and rebuilding the DEA might be in order. Border checks are important, but many hard drugs are made in the USA, one of the last things we actually make here, besides weaponry. Delisting cannabis will be necessary, because falsely labeling it as a Schedule I dangerous drug contributes to the cartels and even small time dealer’s profit margins. Drug rehabilitation and education is a start. There’s no discernible media campaign to address this epidemic. It’s one easy place to start – taking out television, radio, internet and print ads, as well as billboards and posters. Before and after pictures of addicts, I believe, could be helpful. We won’t know until we try.

What I (Cherney) do know is that the streets of towns large and small are filled with the “walking dead,” people who have essentially lost their souls or at least their personalities, not to mention their health, to meth and heroin. Crime and violence that accompanies that, are making even small town America, where you used to not need to lock your car or your doors, more dangerous. Ending these wars is key. We fight some of them, in part, to keep the opium trade going.

David (Dew) Williams III, an Independent Congressional candidate in Illinois’s 9th District had this to say:

It’s becoming common knowledge that drugs such as heroin magically do not appear on U.S. soil, or just because of the Mexican drug cartels and Islamic terrorist cells. The CIA in the past have been caught in purposely allowing the drugs into Black communities such as in Los Angeles in the early 1990s to continue their cycle of incarceration for the prison industrial complex. I feel that as Americans, we need to hold our government accountable for their corrupt actions from the local to federal level – from investigations to prosecuting those involved in such illegal activities that are ruining our moral structure.

Mr. Williams, a Veteran, added:

We have enough laws as it is when it comes to heroin. People will still find ways to break those laws. I feel we as a nation should take a holistic approach by caring for those with over coming such bad habits. Rehabilitation and education is the key to defeat this heroin epidemic, while we’re at it, I firmly believe it starts at home too. Parenting needs to be stronger, and the parents speaking to their children about the real world is a start.

Sean Jackson, a Republican candidate in Maryland’s 1st Congressional District, is both a Veteran and a Police Officer. Mr. Jackson stated:

“I would address the heroin drug war as a “health issue” that is plaguing Americans and a “national security issue”:

Domestically – The U.S. spends billions of dollars each year combating illegal drugs. We need to concentrate our drug prevention efforts on poisonous illegal drugs (e.g. heroin, meth, etc.) that destroy the body (resulting in overdose deaths), tied to the increase in crime (robberies, thefts, etc. … desperation to seek money for withdrawal needs) and devastates families and communities. As long as there is a demand for heroin, drug cartels (some with ties to governments and/or terrorist organizations) will supply. The U.S. needs to re-focus our war on drugs. The legalization of marijuana is a start. The U.S. will never stop the insatiable demand for marijuana. The U.S. can address the issue as fiscal benefit by regulation and taxation of marijuana. The taxation proceeds can be earmarked directly towards health education and treatment programs dealing with heroin. All forms of governments are woefully inept to combat the heroin epidemic. According to health reports, once an individual becomes a heroin addict, only 3% are successful at recovery. During recovery, the addict will spend the rest of their life in turmoil to avoid recidivism.

National Security/International Involvement – Afghanistan is the largest producer of heroin in the world. The U.S. can not take on this battle alone. IF, the World (including the U.S.) is truly serious about combating heroin, they need to convene and strategize a unified military effort (to include economic sanctions) to permanently destroy those organizations/governments/countries that condone the manufacturing/distribution of this poison for financial gain and ultimately the self-destruction of western society. The unified front should include U.S. allies in the region (Israel & India) that book-end the Middle East to stem the distribution routes out of the region.

The U.S. (with its Allies) may need to consider a military invasion or military strikes against Mexican drug cartels that are strategically and safely positioned along the U.S./Mexico. According to intel, the cartels have concentrated their efforts in producing heroin and meth (rather than marijuana) due to the increased profit margin and user demand.”

Many opposition candidates, such as Mr. Jackson, had the most detailed and insightful (proposed) solutions to the problem.

Johnny Slavens, a Republican candidate in Texas said:

The only chance we really have to beat things like this is to inspire people to believe in something bigger than themselves. Our founding fathers called that God and so do I.

Mr. Slavens added:

We also need to secure our border. The federal government has a constitutional obligation to secure our border of which they are dramatically failing. Career politicians don’t care about securing the border. The Democrats see it as votes and the Republicans see it as cheap labor (i.e. crony capitalism). The drug trafficking, human trafficking, sex trafficking, the threat to our national security, we must secure the border as our highest priority.

Chris Mason, a Republican candidate in Maryland and a Veteran  declared “we simply need to secure our borders and all these problems are solved.” Simon Winston, a Republican candidate in Texas’s 1st District, echoed “that a more secure border would be a good step in the right direction.”

Darrel Smith, Jr., the Green Party candidate in Texas’s 6th District stated:

We should be focusing on rehabilitation programs with proven track records and expand them. We should look at local programs like Los Angeles County’s Substance Abuse Prevention and Control and the Massachusetts Opioid Abuse Prevention Collaborative, and implement their successes nationwide while also understanding and modifying those programs to work with specific communities.

Joe Demare, Green Party candidate for US Senate in Ohio, said “heroin sucks” and added two points:

First, massive increases in addiction treatment, drug abuse prevention, and education funding and second, follow the strategy put forward by Bob Fitrakis, Green Party candidate for Franklin County Prosecutor. He points out that in most cases, the identity of the largest regional heroin importers are known to authorities. However, they are not pursued for prosecution because of fear. I would support prosecutions and work to ensure that there is enough federal support to protect our judges and law enforcement officials pursuing heroin importers.

A former Congressional Staffer, who is not campaigning for public office, and who did not want to be identified for this article, stated that “it’s an open secret on the Hill that the CIA prompted the spread of narcotics in Afghanistan and is flying it into the USA. They made Afghanistan a narco state. It’s killing Americans in droves, no doubt. It’s just, most everyone on the Hill is too afraid of the CIA to do much of anything about it.”

Ed Rankin, a Texas Libertarian candidate (32nd CD) began:

The system is totally corrupt. It’s indeed interesting that opium production has risen so dramatically in Afghanistan following the US invasion isn’t it?

He then added:

First, in order to address the drug addiction problem, we need to stop the drug war and begin to treat addiction as a social problem and not a criminal one. If we’re going to seriously continue the drug war, then we should prosecute executives of the banks laundering the drug money not simply fine the institutions a relatively paltry amount. Longer term, stopping US military interventionism is the key to addressing many of our domestic and international problems. The trillions of dollars wasted on our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could certainly be used to address issues like drug addiction at home. I’d introduce legislation repealing all federal drug laws. That would eliminated drug laundering. Prohibition has never worked. Legalize drugs and it all goes away.

Ruben Corvalan, another Texas Libertarian candidate (23rd CD) echoed Mr. Rankin, stating:

I would legalize all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, marijuana, etc.

Then he added:

Once legalized, we can control it, tax it, and distribute it in approved retailers. The money collected in purchase taxes would be used in an aggressive educational campaign (similar to cigarettes). Americans are adults, they should be responsible for their actions. The government is not and should not be the caretakers of adults. Adults should have the dignity of free choice. Free choice comes with a price. The price of freedom is responsibility and accountability.

Dorian Myrickes, a Democratic Party candidate in Illinois (2nd CD) advocates legalization. Mr. Myrickes stated:

The reality of the drug industry in America is that it provides thousands of jobs through law enforcement, social services, and rehabilitation programs, unfortunately. These drugs destroy our communities and America has never had a true plan on the war of drugs. It is disheartening to think America may never have a divisive plan on the war on drugs. Until legislators come with real sensible bills and laws, sentencing drug transporters, and rehabilitation for heroin users, the problem will remain. People are going to consume, transport and sell drugs regardless of laws, bills, etc. The heroin epidemic is not new. Alcohol, cocaine, lottery, and marijuana at one point were all illegal vices. I say educate, legalize and tax drugs, this will remove the mystique of any illegal activity and perhaps close the gap on America’s debt ceiling. Distributors, facilities and customers should pay a premium tax of 35% on drugs. Those tax funds could be utilized to rejuvenate the proper monetary disbursements and reopen hospitals, rehab’s and educational facilities.

Dominique Michelle Garcia, a Democratic candidate in Texas (29th CD) said:

Drug use and abuse is a mental illness. As a society we need to stop treating the symptoms and start nipping at the cause. Our current method of declaring war on everything is flawed and outdated. We are treating people who are victims as if they are criminals. We need to decriminalize drugs and use the money for treatment.

Jeff Kender, a Democratic candidate for US Senate in Kentucky, stated “First it needs to be stopped at its core. Rehabilitation to help users, who are non-violent.”

Calvin Sidle, a Democratic candidate in Kentucky (4th CD), stated:

The heroin epidemic is one of the biggest challenges facing this area. We absolutely must put a stop to any imports of heroin, regardless of the source. We must step up efforts to limit supply at the same time as we learn new strategies to curb demand. We need to make a stronger push for medically-assisted treatment to help those people who are caught in a deadly cycle of addiction.

Joe Sestak, a former Congressman, Admiral, Anti-Terrorism Director and currently in a tight re-match with Senator Toomey in Pennsylvania referred me to his ‘opiate contrast’ pdf file. Sestak supports R & D for a new generation of non-addictive painkillers, drug courts which send non-violent users to rehab, V.A. funding for substance abuse programs, requiring all health insurance to cover substance abuse recovery programs, more prevention efforts and a greater availability of treatment for drug users. Senator Toomey’s record shows he voted against V.A. budgets, against drug courts, against more prevention and against more treatment.

Sestak prefaced his statements with a heartfelt acknowledgment that ‘1 of every 4 families has a loved one suffering from addiction and that the opiate epidemic touches all types of communities, large and small, rich and poor.’

Senator Toomey (REP-PA) declined to comment for this article.

Sestak did not reply to follow up emails asking what, if elected, he would do about the source of most heroin, US-occupied Afghanistan.

Bill Fraser, an Independent candidate in Illinois (8th CD) is campaigning on a platform of Swiss style direct democracy so voters can vote directly on issues and spending. Mr. Fraser, a high school teacher, stated “the constituency would be called upon to vote on all legislation and I would vote the way the majority wants me to vote.”

Direct voting on legislation and spending or at least nationwide ballot referendums would be a giant leap forward towards democracy in the USA. In international rankings, the USA currently ranks #62 for democracy and #49 for freedom of the press.

Andrew Straw, an attorney and Republican candidate in Illinois (8th CD) stated:

Afghanistan has always grown poppies. We must think about the other uses for this substance besides heroin, which is a scourge, despite the fact that President Obama admitted using it in his autobiography.

Mr. Straw added:

My brother was a critical care trauma nurse and he served in Afghanistan. He patched together and saved the lives of our soldiers who were blown up and amputees. They used a lot of morphine.

Mr. Straw concluded:

There is a worldwide shortage of morphine. Morphine is made from opium. The world community should be buying the opium and using it to create morphine. Morphine is a very important drug needed in every country, every community, every hospital. While the United States has a presence in Afghanistan, it needs to regulate the opium and purchase it for use in making vital pharmaceutical drugs, there is no reason the opium has to turn into heroin illegally or destroyed. It has other, legitimate uses.

An opium crop buying program may be a win win situation, although it might also spark bidding wars for raw opium and higher prices leading to an even greater expansion of Afghan opium crops.

Rob Shaver, a Republican Congressional candidate in New York and a Veteran, stated:

I feel NY State is entirely at the crossroads of devastation in our rural area’s to inner cities from this epidemic. Worse then crack cocaine was in the 1980s and early 1990s. Children and adults are loosing their lives both in reality and figuratively by the addictions they face from the first time shooting up.

Mr. Shaver added “to the victims, I do believe they are victims from a weakened border and policy we allowed for decades now.” Mr. Shaver mentioned “the dark world of funding off book operations” and elaborated “it’s been around for a long while as we the USA been the main drug trafficker for decades to fund National Security operations and other agendas we the people wouldn’t understand in their minds.”

If elected, Mr. Shaver would:

Create bills that amend or repeal current international drug enforcement statues to put pressure on the US government to stop this destruction to our citizens. Most of the tribal leaders and members of Afghan Parliament are in on the illegal sale of opium so we have corruption to deal with as the first task. The US Congress needs to do some reform on our foreign appropriations spending and the Executive branch with Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense focusing on the stop of distribution with the current Minister of Interior and President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his executive branch members of justice in joint task force we have trained and jointly funded now for a decade. DEA and ATF has been tasked with this for years now making small dents, but not enough to stop the sale of heroin in the western world. The Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs who oversees this work will again be on the new POTUS and Executive Branch to propose appropriations and Congress to approve the funding that warrants stronger US Border enforcement and trafficking that many politicians do not want to support. Case in point Senator Kristen Gillibrand (NY) when Congresswoman supported stronger borders and now as US Senator has flip flopped under Senator Chuck Schumer and her DNC associates to vote against Sen McCain’s amendment to H.R. 4899, the 2010 Emergency Supplemental bill to send National Guard troops to add more Right of Entry guards into Arizona to stop drug trafficking levels that were scorching our southwestern front.

Mr. Shaver concluded by stating:

New York State and the Department of Justice needs to be proactive with more ear marked funding to develop county task forces with both State and Federal support to not only make arrest and prosecutions but treatment faculties and half-way homes with vocational training to get all victims of this drug back into society with our support.

Dr. Donald May, a former Air Force Major and Republican primary candidate in Texas (19th CD) highlighted the Democratic Party’s role for entry into war after the September 11th terrorist attacks. Dr. May began by stating:

Due to Obama, the U.S troops have no control over much of anything in Afghanistan, our border is wide open to anything and everything, guns have been supplied to the Mexican drug criminals, and drug dealers plead down their cases and go free. You really need to blame the evilDemocrats for starting the rumors that led to the invasion of Iraq. The Democrats claimed that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s) and a nuclear weapons program. It was Bill Clinton who repeatedly warned George W. Bush of Saddam’s WMDs.

Dr. May then supplied 16 quotes from Democratic Party officials such as Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Madeline Albright, Sandy Berger, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, Henry Waxman, Jay Rockefeller, Robert Byrd and others.

For example, Dr. May stated that then Senator Hillary Clinton (DEM-NY) said on October 10, 2002:

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The reasons for entry into wars, the lingering 15+ year occupation of Afghanistan and the flood of Afghan heroin devastating America all have roots that need to be better investigated and reported on.

99% of incumbents and close to 95% of opposition candidates contacted did not respond to inquiries.

A few incumbents, 1%, did reply, but refused to answer any questions about the heroin epidemic, the devastation being caused by the epidemic or about Afghanistan.

Sam Carpenter’s campaign for Senate in Oregon replied a few times to ask which outlet the report would be published in and if Senator Wyden (DEM-OR) had responded, but he refused to answer any questions about Afghanistan or the heroin epidemic.

vog.etanes.nedyw@nedyw_rotanes (email not signed) responded on March 1, 2016 “You will be receiving a more detailed response via email in the near future.” That was months ago and a detailed response via email has not been sent. I followed up with both of these Senate candidates, but they didn’t respond. Neither appeared to have any sense of urgency regarding the heroin epidemic killing an American every 32 minutes.

Congressman Lee Zeldin’s Press Secretary replied to ask about the article’s deadline. I replied then never heard back again. I followed up several times, but there was no further response from anyone in Zeldin’s office to questions about the heroin epidemic or the explosive spread of Afghan opium since 2001 simultaneous with the mushrooming increase in US heroin fatalities from 1,779 in 2001 to 3,036 in 2010 to 10,574 in 2014.

Zeffin Hardin, a Republican candidate in Texas (28th CD), emailed a couple times to state he would not be commenting or answering any questions about the heroin crisis.

Many of these candidates, incumbents and non-incumbents alike, might as well have auto-replied “let them eat cake” because that’s how many of their non-responses seemed.

The House can vote this week, if they care to, to pass HR953, the companion bill to S.524 to make a baby step forward of more treatment possible. Amy Bos in Congressman Senserbreener’s Office stated that “the bill is still pending in multiple committees. We’ve been told the bill is a priority for leadership but have been given no indication on timing for a vote.”

Current treatment cannot provide for even 1/8th of the surge in drug abusers. If both the Senate and House bills were passed and funded, they would not provide enough for even 3% of current need.

$25 billion, however, would construct 100,000 new in-patient treatment beds and $10 billion annually would provide another 1,000,000 seats in out-patient treatment. $35 billion is needed immediately for treatment. The opiate problem has gotten that big in the USA since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The Senate and House bills both call for less than $1 billion in funding.

Congress can also call Congressional hearings into how Afghan opium fields have spread from 7,600 hectares to 224,000 hectares as US heroin deaths shot up from 1,779 in 2001 to 3,036 in 2010 to 10,574 in 2014.

Why is it that the Taliban administration in 2000 outlawed opium and within a year it was all but gone (from 93,000 hectares in 1999 to 7,600 hectares in 2001) and why exactly has the current administration not done that too? What have different agencies (e.g. DEA, FBI, CIA, DoD) been doing in Afghanistan since 2001? The AOK’ing for Afghans to grow opium and the transporting of Afghan heroin into the US “green lighted” in 2009 was for what exactly?

I contacted the DEA several times in Spring 2016, for answers about how Afghan opium metastasized to 224,000 hectares, what has the DEA been doing since 2001, why have American heroin deaths mushroomed to 10,574 a year and continue to spiral up out of control? What arrangements does the DEA have with the CIA regarding CIA agents (officers, contractors, etc.) dealing drugs? What has been done since 2001 to interdict acetic anhydride into Afghanistan?

Barbara Carreno and Russell Baer, who has top secret clearance, dodged most of my questions, but did answer a few questions about acetic anhydride stating that was the job of Afghanistan’s government to deal with.

Mexico with 10,500 hectares of opium could not possibly supply even 1/20th of the heroin demand in the US.  What has the DEA been doing about the vast majority of heroin which is coming in from Afghanistan?

Congresspeople can demand the various agencies come clean and tell all about Afghan heroin, 2001 to present.

Harold Pfleiderer at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stated that 90% of the heroin in Canada comes from Afghanistan.

Barbara and Russell at the DEA claimed, incredibly, that only 4% of the heroin in the US is from Afghanistan and they refused to answer any questions about why they claim most heroin is coming from Mexico since Mexico cannot produce enough heroin for 1/20th of the US heroin demand. Every opium producing nation on Earth, except Afghanistan, cannot produce enough heroin for even 1/2 of the heroin demand in the USA.

Barbara and Russell refused to answer most questions. Barbara and Russell at the DEA emailed on April 1st, 2016:

Unfortunately, we are a small press office with many queries to answer, and your line of questioning is expanding. I’m sorry to have to say that we will not able to assist you further on these stories.

Is the heroin epidemic, which is killing over 10,000 Americans a year, an April Fools Day joke to these DEA people?

Looking at facts and figures regarding the heroin epidemic, it becomes obvious that the DEA has been a colossal failure and they refuse to answer most questions asked of them. Perhaps, the DEA would answer questions (or plead the 5th) at Congressional Hearings.

Since Afghan opium spread to 224,000 hectares in 2014, since heroin deaths in the US shot up to 10,574 in 2014, several narratives have been rolled out to try to draw attention away from where most heroin comes from (US-occupied Afghanistan) and how most of that heroin gets to US.

First, ‘the Mexicans did it” which is to say that the 173 tons of raw opium from Latin America (from 10,500 hectares in Mexico and 1,500 hectares in Colombia) were converted into 17.3 tons of heroin and all 17.3 tons were imported into the US, where it would not supply even 5% of the US heroin demand.

If all countries on Earth growing opium, except Afghanistan, were to convert their opium to heroin and send it to the US, it wouldn’t be enough for even half of the current US heroin demand.

Most heroin in the US is coming from US-occupied Afghanistan.  There is no other mathematical possibility possible.  There is no other physical possibility possible.

Second, ‘Myanmar did it’. Myanmar does grow 50,000 hectares of opium, not even 1/4th of what Afghanistan does. Myanmar heroin could not provide even half of the US heroin demand and most heroin from Myanmar is known (e.g. by the UN) to travel heroin trade routes to Europe, Asia and Australia.

Thirdly, ‘Fentanyl did it’. Fentanyl accounts for less than 15% of total opioid deaths in the US. The heroin epidemic is not due to Fentanyl. The heroin epidemic is due to heroin.

Fourthly, ‘doctors did it’. Doctors prescribe painkillers then patients ramp up to heroin. Only 3.6% of people who abuse prescription painkillers then go on to heroin. Doctors prescribing painkillers did not cause the heroin epidemic. The flood of Afghan heroin since 2001 has caused the heroin epidemic.

Fifthly, the false claim that there are only 250,000 heroin users in the USA so back to 1) ‘the Mexicans did it’. (If there were only 250,000 US heroin addicts, then Mexico’s puny 10,500 hectares of opium still couldn’t provide most of the heroin demand in the US.)

There are many more American heroin addicts than 250,000. The White House stated there were 1,500,000 heroin addicts in the US in 2010. That figure has shot up since 2010, to 2,500,000 regular heroin users currently plus another 2 million casual users.

Mexico cannot supply even 1/20th of the heroin demand in the US. All nations on Earth that grow opium combined, except Afghanistan, could not physically provide even half of the heroin used in the US. Only Afghanistan grows enough opium to provide the current US demand for heroin.

And only eradication of Afghan opium crops will stop the heroin epidemic. The Taliban outlawed opium in 2000 and within a year it was all but gone, so we know that eradication of Afghan opium is totally doable within a year.

Before writing this article, I hadn’t gotten “no comments” by email before. I’ve gotten “no comments” in person. I’ve gotten “no comments” on the phone. But, not by email. Usually, when someone doesn’t want to comment, by email, they simply ignore the email (i.e. about 99% of incumbents and 95% of opposition candidates). 

On March 14th, I got an email from David Nunes (DEM-CA), the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee stating: “I’m sorry, we have no comment on this one.”

The following day, March 15th, came this email from Brad Wenstrup (REP-OH) in one of the states hardest hit by the heroin epidemic, Ohio: “Thank you for your email. Congressman Wenstrup does not have a comment at this time.”

With an American getting killed every 32 minutes by heroin, when will the Members of House Intelligence Committee feel like responding to this highly lethal epidemic of Afghan heroin flooding into the USA?

What can be done about the heroin epidemic? Eradicate Afghan opium as the Taliban administration did in 2000-2001, search US government (and US government chartered) planes and ships, ban precursor chemicals to make heroin, buy crops not yet eradicated (then sell those crops to make medical morphine), hold Congressional hearings to find out how Afghan opium spread more than 25 fold since the US invasion in 2001 (from 7,600 hectares to 224,000 hectares), how it’s getting to US and why hasn’t eradication been done (as the Taliban did in 2000-2001), $25 billion for 100,000 more in-patient treatment beds, $10 billion a year for 1,000,000 more outpatient treatment slots, decriminalize personal possession and focus on the big dealers (i.e. dealers of Afghan heroin).

Without cutting off (i.e. eradicating) the source of most heroin, Afghan opium, the heroin epidemic will get worse to over 20,000 American heroin deaths a year, crime levels not experienced since the 1980’s (or worse), deadly infections (e.g. HIV, HCV) shooting up, way up, costing taxpayers an extra $25 billion a year or so (e.g. Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare subsidies) to care for the increases in diseased people.

Congress needs to know where the heroin is coming from. Congress also needs to acknowledge where most of the heroin is coming from (i.e. US-occupied Afghanistan), how it is getting from US-occupied Afghanistan to US and they need to investigate (e.g. Congressional Hearings), then act in their capacity to do oversight, to adjust budgets and to legislate.

Senator Moynihan (DEM-NY) introduced a bill, in 1991 and again in 1995, to abolish the CIA and to give their tasks to the State Department.

The Taliban outlawed opium in Afghanistan in 2000 and within a year it was all but gone. Outlaw opium in Afghanistan just like the Taliban did in 2000 and within a year Afghan opium will be all but gone and the American heroin epidemic will be all but gone as well.

Posted in USA, AfghanistanComments Off on US Congress’s Take on the Heroin Epidemic. 6400 tons Produced in US-Occupied Afghanistan

US probe into Kunduz bombing leaves too many questions, independent inquiry needed

NOVANEWS
Image result for Doctors Without Borders (MSF) LOGO
RT 

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) are still not able to reopen the hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz a year after it was bombed by American planes as a US investigation has failed to ensure the tragedy won’t repeat itself, the head of MSF Office in Brussels told RT.

The infamous US airstrike on October 3, 2015 killed 42 people, including three children, at the Doctors Without Borders or Medecins Sans Frontieres hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz.

MSF informed the Americans that the hospital was targeted 11 minutes into the attack, but the airstrike continued for another half an hour.

The head of the MSF Office in Brussels, Michael Hoffman, described the bombing as “severe,” saying that it “completely destroyed the hospital building.”

“Ever since that attack we’ve been trying to figure out from the parties in this conflict – the Afghan government and the international force, led by the US, why this hospital was attacked,” Hoffman told RT.

Doctors Without Borders had “clear agreements in place with the warring parties: Taliban, Afghan government and the US that they knew that this hospital was there and they agreed with it,” Hoffman stressed.

The US carried out its own investigation into the incident, calling it an “honest mistake,” apologizing before the aid group and providing cash to reconstruct the medical facility.

But the MSF isn’t satisfied with the results of the American enquiry as they were only allowed to see a “quite heavily redacted report – 890 pages from a 3,000-page paper – that was accessible to the general public.”

According to Hoffman, the US investigation into the attack on the hospital left a number of key questions unanswered.

“There’s nothing in this report that gives any insight into the role of the Afghan military forces. They were the ones doing the operation [against Taliban] in Kunduz city and they were the ones who called in air support from the US,” he said.

“The second thing that we really don’t understand from this report is how this building lost its protected status, why it was decided that it was legitimate target,” the MSF official said.

Doctors Without Borders believe that that only “an independent investigation” will be able to clarify the reasons for the tragedy, Hoffman stressed.

“Right from the start, we stated that in our view the most relevant international body to investigate those issues is the Independent Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) based in Switzerland,” he said.

“IHFFC sent a request to the governments of Afghanistan and the US. As far as we know, they have not received a response. We are just assuming that this means ‘no,’ but we don’t know,” the MSF official added.

Posted in USA, AfghanistanComments Off on US probe into Kunduz bombing leaves too many questions, independent inquiry needed

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