Archive | Afghanistan

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.

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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, Syria0 Comments

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.

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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 & Kashmir0 Comments

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.

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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, Afghanistan0 Comments

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, Afghanistan0 Comments

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, Afghanistan0 Comments

Afghanistan: UN mission condemns killing of at least 15 civilians in airstrike

NOVANEWS
Image result for Afghanistan: UN mission PHOTO
UN News Centre

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan has condemned the killing of at least 15 civilian men and the injuring of at least 13 others, including at least one boy, in an airstrike targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) conducted yesterday in the country’s eastern district of Achin.

In a press statement, the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) reiterated the need for all parties to the conflict to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law.

“UNAMA calls on the Government and international military forces to launch a prompt, independent, impartial, transparent, and effective investigation into this incident,” the mission said.

In the early morning of 28 September, an international military forces unmanned aerial vehicle conducted an airstrike, reportedly targeting members of ISIL/Da’esh, which struck a civilian home, killing the 15 civilians, according to UNAMA.

The civilians had gathered in a village to celebrate the return of a tribal elder from the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and were reportedly sleeping in a guesthouse of the elder when the airstrike occurred. Civilian victims of the strike included students and a teacher, as well as members of families considered to be pro-Government. Government sources report that ISIL/Da’esh personnel also died in the attack, UNAMA said.

The mission highlighted that in a press release issued yesterday, United States Force-Afghanistan acknowledged conducting the airstrike, but refrained from elaborating further, indicating that they “are still reviewing all materials related to the strike.”

UNAMA also expressed condolences to the families of those killed in the incident and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

Afghanistan has been in protracted conflict for almost 35 years, which, in addition to being prone to recurrent natural disasters, has seriously hampered poverty reduction and development, strained the fabric of society and depleted the country’s coping mechanisms.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

Kabul heading for night of the long knives

NOVANEWS
Image result for President Ashraf Ghani CARTOON
By M K Bhadrakumar 

There is, understandably, a degree of triumphalism in Delhi that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani lost no time to follow India’s footfalls and relay to the SAARC that he too cannot attend the planned summit of the grouping in Islamabad in November. But his explanation will raise eyebrows.

Ghani explained that the security situation in his country is acute. Fair enough. But then, he went on to add that that he will be “fully engaged” due to his “responsibilities as the Commander in Chief”. Ghani at least seems certain that he will continue to be the C-in-C six weeks hence. That is, perhaps, the only ray of hope at the present juncture when political uncertainties loom large.

The 2-year term of the Afghan National Unity Government (NUG) headed by Ghani is expiring today. From tomorrow, Afghanistan enters unchartered waters. The compromise deal on co-habitation between Ghani and the present Chief Executive Officer Abdullah, which was literally imposed on them by the US Secretary of State John Kerry two years ago, envisaged that Afghanistan would make political transition to a parliamentary system latest by today on the basis of a new constitution and electoral laws.

But with Ghani and Abdullah caught in the cobweb of factional politics, NUG got paralysed and could not fulfil the expectations placed on it during its 2-year life span. Meanwhile, elections have not been held for the Afghan parliament either, despite its term ending over a year ago. With the executive and the legislative body lacking legitimacy, a constitutional deadlock arises.

What happens now? When the US state department spokesman Mark Toner was asked about the fate of the NUG and whether Obama administration (which is entering lame duck phase) would undertake any further mediatory mission on a constitutional transition, he was evasive, saying,

  • I’m not going to predict what role (US will play), except to say that we’re – we remain committed to working with the Afghan Government and leadership in trying to continue along the reform agenda that they’re working on, but also, as you note, to ensure the smooth democratic transition to the next government.

The US seems to look away from the legitimacy question that hangs above the Ghani government beyond today and prefer to cast its eye on the horizon toward a “smooth democratic transition to the next government”. But, how will the transition be possible? (See the RSIS commentary The Coming Political Crisis in Afghanistan.)

But, by a curious coincidence, today has also been fixed as the date for the formal signing of Ghani’s peace deal with the famous Mujahideen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (‘Butcher of Kabul’) at a ceremony in Kabul. Hekmatyar himself will participate in the ceremony via a video conference from his undisclosed location in Pakistan.

Hekmatyar is not taking chances – nor his Pakistani mentors. After all, you only live once and there is no knowing whether Hekmatyar will be physically safe in Kabul, where his sworn Tajik enemies from Panjshir and various other assorted old Mujahideen war horses who would have old scores to settle with him, are present.

For a start, it will be interesting to see what brave face Abdullah puts on the Ghani-Hekmatyar deal. He is between the rock and a hard place. On the one hand, he knows the deal is intended to get political space for Ghani who lacks a power base of his own. Also, he will be savvy enough to know that Hekmatyar’s entry, a Mujahideen leader who was more than a match for Ahmed Shah Massoud himself in many, is bound to change the Afghan calculus radically and his own prospects of realising his overvaulting presidential ambitions recede significantly.

On the other hand, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai is waiting in the wings to be invited by any Loya Jirga that may be convened, to head the interim government. Abdullah seems to have weighed his options and decided that it is tactically prudent to allow the NUG to limp along for a while, given his congruence of interests with Ghani (as well as with Uncle Sam) to somehow keep Karzai out in the cold.

However, the known unknown is going to be Hekmatyar’s role in the power structure. It is all very well to say his group Hezb-i-Islami will be allowed to function as a political party and the US and UN are preparing to delist him as a dangerous terrorist. But politics, for Hekmatyar, is about power.

And it is improbable he can be kept waiting in a ‘safe house’ in Pakistan for long. He will insist that his due place of habitation is the presidential palace in Kabul; at the very least, he will expect a position that is on par with Abdullah’s (who was after all only Massoud’s English-language interpreter when he himself was the iconic figure of the Afghan jihad who was lionised by both Pakistan and the US.)

To be sure, Hekmatyar’s re-entry will evoke strong feelings among Afghans who see him as an agent of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. There have been demonstrations in Kabul against Ghani’s Faustian deal with him. Afghans have not forgotten the savagery with which Hekmatyar pursued power.

The widely-held belief among Afghans is that Hekmatyar killed more Afghan Mujahideen than he cared to kill Soviet troops. He incessantly lobbed rockets into Kabul City from the surrounding mountain tops and systematically reduced the capital to rubble in his bitter struggle for power with Massoud in the early nineties after the Mujahideen takeover. ((See an excellent piece by Terry Glavin at the National Post, The rehabilitation of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the Butcher of Kabul.)

How could the Mujahideen forget that Hekmatyar waded through a river of Afghan blood? The Afghans will expect an answer to the big question: If Hekmatyar is okay, why not the Taliban, too?

The thought seems to have occurred to Karzai already, who remarked two days ago that if the Taliban control territory in Afghanistan, he doesn’t see anything incongruous because it is, after all, their country, too.

Posted in Afghanistan0 Comments

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