Archive | Afghanistan

Re-shaping the Taliban Leadership? Sustaining “America’s War on Terrorism”

NOVANEWS
Global Research

Is this a way to send back to Afghanistan five top Taliban leaders who have been “re-conditioned” and “turned” in Guantanamo and are now working for the US? Is this a move against the “unloyal” President Karzai & his successors? The Taliban leadership has been, reportedly, decimated by the drones assassinations. It is not difficult to imagine what will happen with the arrival of five of the very top Taliban political leaders after many years of detention in Guantanamo: The creation of a new leadership.

Why would the US do that after having spent so much money and blood trying to decapitate the Taliban elite and, reportedly, succeeding? You need terrorists to sustain the “war on terrorism”?

Officially, the sudden decision was taken by President Obama to rescue Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who has been in the hands of the Taliban since 2009 and who allegedly left voluntarily to the point that many of his fellow colleague are accusing him of “desertion”. There are reports that Bergdhal did not want to leave his captivity.

If the reason of the exchange was to spare the sergeant further pain and suffering, or to give a signal that no US soldier is left behind — then why wasn’t Bergdhal freed before? Why are now – right now – the five Taliban leaders returned to an Afghanistan deprived of leaders? Is there any connection with the increasing Afghanistan willingness to forge closer links with BRICS, China, and Russia? Is there any connection with the recently established good contacts between Pakistan and Russia to the point that Russia lifted his arms embargo on Pakistan immediately before the announced Five Taliban liberation?

Is this a [desperate] way to keep some form of “strategic” presence in an area where both India and Pakistan are taking the distances from the Anglo-Americans and are looking at the BRICS instead? Is this a way to slow down the recognition that Brzezinski & Co. have lost Central Asia’s Great game?

Who are the Five Taliban?

The Freed Taliban are: Mullah Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Khairullah Khairkhwa and Mohammed Nabi Omari. They were all top political leaders of the Taliban regime originally installed in Afghanistan with the US help.

Actually, one of them – Abdul Haq Wasiq – has been reportedly working for the US forces since US invasion in 2001. He was deputy minister of intelligence, while his cousin was the head of intelligence.

Wasiq was the deputy chief of the Taliban regime’s intelligence service. His cousin was head of the service Reportedly Wasiq cooperated with U.S. forces in Afghanistan promising he would lead to the capture of Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Muhammad Omar. In a meeting with US representatives he asked for a global positioning system (GPS) and the necessary radio frequencies to pass information back to the Americans in order to help locate the Taliban leader. Strangely enough, shortly after the meeting, US forces arrested him. (https://wikileaks.org/gitmo/pdf/af/us9af-000004dp.pdf)

An administrative review in 2007 cited a source as saying that Wasiq was also “an al Qaeda intelligence member” and had links with members of another militant Islamist group, Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin. Wasiq claimed, according to the review, that he was arrested while trying to help the United States locate senior Taliban figures. He denied any links to militant groups. (http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/31/us/bergdahl-transferred-guantanamo-detainees/)

Another of the Guantanamo prisoners - Khairullah Khairkhwa - is the former Interior Minister and the former Taliban governor of Heart, was considered by the Pentagon’s 2008 dossier to be one of the controllers of the heroin traffic .

The young Khairkhwa had been trained during the US sponsored war against the pro Russians government in Afghanistan, in a religious school at the border with Pakistan.

At that time, Osama Bin Laden was openly an instrument of the “Muslim Fundamentalism Card” strategy of Brzezinski, the National Security adviser of President Carter. In the context of this anti Russian alliance with the Mujahedeen/ freedom fighters embraced by President Ronald Reagan, young Afghani were sent to a series of western financed Wahhabi fundamentalist religious school located in Pakistan along the borders with Afghanistan. Talib. Here under Western and Pakistani intelligence sponsorship the future Taliban leadership (such as Khairkhwa) was created. That dossier also says he likely participated in meetings with Iranian officials after 9-11 to help plot attacks on U.S. forces following the invasion.

The future Taliban Interior minister and Guantanamo prisoner was also trained in a camp of Abu Musab al Zarqawi in North Iraq. Zarqawi known as the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, established a terrorist operation in Northern Iraq, after the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein lost completely control of that area following the No-fly zone interdiction imposed by the US. Various western intelligence became extremely active in that area but the Zarqawi operation was not disturbed and actually flourished.

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War Hero or Deserter?

NOVANEWS
By Patrick J. Buchanan
 

“We needed to get him out of there, essentially to save his life.”

So said Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, an Army sergeant in Vietnam, of Barack Obama’s trade of five hard-core Taliban leaders at Guantanamo for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a Taliban prisoner for five years.

The trade speaks well of America’s ‘s resolve to leave no soldier behind. And the country surely shared the joy of Bergdahl’s family on learning their son was alive and coming home.

But this secret swap, as well as the circumstances of Bergdahl’s capture and captivity, are likely to further polarize our people and poison our politics.

First, the price the Taliban extorted from us is high. We could be seeing these killers again on a battlefield after their year’s detention in Qatar. Other Americans may have to suffer and perhaps die for our having freed these five from Guantanamo.

Taliban leader Mullah Omar is proclaiming a “big victory” over the Americans, and it is a morale boost for the Taliban we are fighting.

As for the Afghan government, it was kept in the dark.

The message received in Kabul must be: The Americans are taking care of their own, cutting deals behind our back at our expense, packing up, going home. We cannot rely on them. We are on our own.

But as for the claim that we “never negotiate with terrorists,” it is not as though we have not been down this road before.

During Korea, we negotiated for a truce and return of our POWs with the same Chinese Communists who had tortured and brainwashed them. During Vietnam we negotiated for the return of our POWs with North Vietnamese and Viet Cong who massacred 3,000 civilians in Hue in the Tet Offensive.

Jimmy Carter negotiated with the Ayatollah’s regime to get our embassy hostages out of Iran. The Iran-Contra scandal was about Ronald Reagan’s decision to send TOW missiles secretly to Iran, for Iran’s aid in getting hostages released by Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Bibi Netanyahu today insists that America not recognize a new Palestinian government that includes Hamas, for Hamas is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction.

Yet Bibi released 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in 2011, many of them guilty of atrocities, in exchange for a single Israeli soldier held by Hamas in Gaza, Pvt. Gilad Shalit.

Yasser Arafat, Menachem Begin and Nelson Mandela were all once declared to be terrorists heading up terrorist organizations — the PLO, the Irgun and the ANC.

And all three have something else in common: All became winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. Today’s terrorist may be tomorrow’s statesman. The remains of Lenin and Mao rest in honor in their capitals. Jomo Kenyatta, founding father of Kenya, was once the chieftain of the Mau Mau.

When it comes to negotiating with domestic hostage-takers, do we not, along with training SWAT teams to take them out, train men to negotiate with them? How many of us, with a family member held by a vicious criminal demanding ransom, would refuse to negotiate?

Yet, if those released Taliban are indeed “hardened terrorists who have the blood of Americans … on their hands,” as John McCain charges, why were they not prosecuted and punished like the Nazis at Nuremberg?

America has sent a message to its enemies by trading five war criminals for Sergeant Bergdahl: The nation with a preponderance of the world’s hard power has a soft heart.

And though America rejoiced with the parents of Sgt. Bergdahl this weekend, other troubling issues have begun to be raised.

Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, said on ABC that Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction” and “was an American prisoner of war, captured on the battlefield.”

But is this true? His fellow soldiers say Bergdahl was not missing in action, and not wounded. Disillusioned with the war, he walked away from his post.

In an email to his parents three days before he went missing. Bergdahl wrote, “I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of U.S. soldier is just the lie of fools. … I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

For days, Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers were out searching for him, risking their lives to prevent his Taliban captors from taking him into Pakistan. U.S. soldiers may have been wounded and some may have died in the attempt to rescue their lost sergeant.

Did Sgt. Bergdahl defect, did he desert, did he collaborate with the enemy? We do not know. But these charges will have to be investigated.

For if they are not, or if they are proven true and Bergdahl evades all punishment, it would be a blow to Army morale and widen the gulf between the Army and commander in chief that was on display at West Point a week ago.

Sergeant Bergdahl, one suspects, is about to become a famous and representative figure of his country’s divisions in the Obama era.

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Ten Things You Should Know About Dams

NOVANEWS

1. 50,000 Large Dams Are Clogging the World’s Rivers:

About 50,000 dams with a height of 15 meters or more and millions of smaller dams have been built on the world’s rivers. Some of them date back centuries, but most were built after World War II. About 5,000 dams have a height of 60 meters or more; another 350 such giants are currently under construction.

2. Dams Are Changing the Face of the Earth:

Dams have fragmented two thirds of the world’s large rivers and flooded a land area the size of California. Their reservoirs contain three times as much water as all the world’s rivers, and constantly lose close to four Niagara Falls to evaporationDams trap 40 cubic kilometers of sediment severy year, and starve deltas of the silt that protects them against the intruding sea.

3. Dams Provide Important Services:

Dams generate 16% of the world’s electricity and irrigate food crops for 12-15% of the world’s population. To a lesser extent, dams have also been built for water supply, flood protection, navigation and tourism purposes. Most dams have been built for irrigation, but 80% of the water they store is used for hydropower.

4. Dams Kill Fish:

Dams block the migration of fish, deplete rivers of oxygen, and interfere with the biological triggers that guide fish. They also reduce the ability of rivers to clean themselves. Due to dam building and other factors, the population of freshwater species declined by 37% between 1970-2008 – more than the populations of any other ecosystems. Tropical freshwater populations declined by a stunning 70%.

5. Dams Are Changing the Climate:

Dams are not climate-neutral. Particularly in the tropics, organic matter rotting in their reservoirs emits methane, an aggressive greenhouse gas. Scientists have estimated that reservoirs account for 4% of all human-made climate change, equivalent to the climate impact of aviation. The floods and droughts caused by climate change in turn make dams less safe and less economic.

6. Dams Displace People:

Dams have displaced an estimated 80 million people, with 23 million alone in China. Displacement robs people who are already poor and marginalized of their resources, skills and cultural identity, and impoverishes them further. Dams have also negatively impacted about 500 million people living downstream. The benefits of dams often bypass the people who sacrifice their livelihoods for them.

7. Dams Can Put Human Rights at Risk:

Most dams that displace large populations are being built by authoritarian governments. In Burma, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Sudan and other countries, dam builders have often responded to opposition with serious human rights violations. In the worst dam-related massacre, more than 440 indigenous people were killed to make way for Guatemala’s Chixoy Dam in 1982.

8. Dams Are Expensive:

Large dams belong to the most expensive investments many governments have ever made. An estimated 2000 billion dollars has been spent on dams since 1950. Due to planning errors, technical problems and corruption, dams experience average delays of 44% and  cost overruns of 96%. Such massive overruns make them uneconomic.

9. Dams Don’t Last Forever:

Sooner or later reservoirs silt up, and the cost of maintaining dams becomes bigger than their benefits. In the United States, more than 1000 dams have been removed at great cost. When dams are not properly built or maintained, they can break. In the world’s biggest dam disaster, the failure of China’s Banqiao Dam killed an estimated 171,000 people in 1975.

10. Better Solutions Are Usually Available:

In 2012, governments and businesses installed 75 gigawatt of wind and solar power, compared with 30 gigawatt of hydropower. Such alternatives fare even better when social and environmental impacts and transmission costs are included. The International Energy Agencyhas proposed that 60% of the funds needed to achieve energy access for all should go to local renewable energy projects.

Posted in Afghanistan, Pakistan & Kashmir, USA, Yemen0 Comments

Obama Vision of “Ending” Afghan War Includes 10,000 Troops

NOVANEWS

Despite repeated calls to end the war completely, president lays out plan for continued US presence well beyond 2014

- Lauren McCauley

President Obama announcing plans to keep nearly 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. (Screenshot via MSNBC)

In comments made Tuesday afternoon at the White House, President Obama laid out his plan to draw down the number of occupying forces in Afghanistan, indicating that his vision of succcess in terms of U.S. foreign policy is that in 2015, nearly ten thousand U.S. troops would remain “in harms way” overseas.

According to President Obama, the number of troops will be cut from its current level of 32,000 to 9,800 by 2015.

“This is how war ends in the 21st century,” the president said, adding that after the protracted war, “Afghanistan will not be a perfect place.”

Anti-war advocates were quick to criticize Obama’s plan to extend even further what is already the nation’s longest-running war.

“Americans are tired of war. It’s time for the longest U.S. war in history to be over. Instead, the Obama Administration wants to leave nearly 10,000 troops and untold contractors in Afghanistan after the end of year costing billions of dollars,” observed Paul Kawika Martin, political director of grassroots peace organization Peace Action, in a statement ahead of the official announcement. The group cited polling which has repeatedly shown that Americans think the war in Afghanistan is a “mistake.”

And The Nation‘s George Zornick tweeted:

“Over the course of next year, the number of troops would be cut in half and consolidated in the capital of Kabul and at Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan,” AP reported ahead of the announcement, after an anonymous senior official leaked the contours of Obama’s plan. “Those remaining forces would largely be withdrawn by the end of 2016, with fewer than 1,000 remaining behind to staff a security office in Kabul.”

During the speech, Obama explained that U.S. forces will be deployed to train Afghan forces and support in terror missions against the remnants of Al Qaeda.

The news comes two days after the president paid a surprise visit to troops stationed at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, during which he alluded to the continued presence of the U.S. in the country.

Obama’s plan is contingent on the Afghan government signing the Bilateral Security Agreement, which current president Hamid Karzai has refused to sign. On June 14, Afghans will vote in the second round of presidential elections, and U.S. officials say they are “confident” that Karzai’s successor will sign the agreement. The two front runners, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, have both vowed to sign the BSA if elected.

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From Jeju and Afghanistan, an Asia Peace Pivot

NOVANEWS
by Hakim

Mi Ryang, standing with Gangjeong Village Association members and Gangjeong’s mayor, outside the Jeju Courts, to refuse paying fines for protests against the U.S. naval base construction. (Courtesy of the author)“Don’t you touch me!” declared Mi Ryang.

South Korean police were clamping down on a villager who was resisting the construction of a Korean/U.S. naval base at her village.  Mi Ryang managed to turn the police away by taking off her blouse and, clad in her bra, walking toward them with her clear warning.  Hands off!  Mi Ryang is fondly referred to as “Gangjeong’s daughter” by villagers who highly regard her as the feisty descendant of legendary women sea divers.  Her mother and grandmother were Haenyo divers who supported their families every day by diving for shellfish.

Since 2007, every day without fail, Mi Ryang has stood up to militarists destroying her land.

In doing so, she confronts giants: the Korean military, Korean police authority, the U.S. military, and huge corporations, such as Samsung, allied with these armed forces.

Mi Ryang and her fellow protesters rely on love and on relationships which help them to continue seeking self-determination, freedom and dignity.

Jeju Island is the first place in the world to receive all three UNESCO natural science designations (Biosphere Reserve in 2002, World Natural Heritage in 2007 and Global Geopark in 2010). The military industrial complex, having no interest in securing the Island’s natural wonders, instead serves the U.S. government’s national interest in countering China’s rising economic influence.

The U.S. doesn’t want to be number two. The consequences of the U.S. government’s blueprint for ‘total spectrum dominance,’ globally, are violent, and frightening.

I recently attended a conference held at Jeju University, where young Korean men told participants about why they chose prison instead of enlisting for the two-year compulsory Korean military service.  “I admire these conscientious objectors for their brave and responsible decisions,” I said, “and I confess that I’m worried.  I fear that Jeju Island will become like Afghanistan, where I have worked as a humanitarian and social enterprise worker for the past 10 years.”

“Jeju Island will be a pawn harboring a U.S. naval base, just as Afghanistan will be a pad for at least nine U.S. military bases when the next Afghan President signs the U.S./Afghanistan Bilateral Security Agreement.

When the Korean authorities collaborated with the U.S. military in 1947, at least 30,000 Jeju Islanders were massacred.

How many more ordinary people and soldiers will suffer, be utilized or be killed due to U.S. geopolitical interests to pivot against China?

As many as 20% of all tourists to Jeju Island are Chinese nationals. Clearly, ordinary Jeju citizens and ordinary Chinese can get along, just like ordinary Afghans and citizens from the U.S./NATO countries can get along.   But when U.S. military bases are built outside the U.S., the next Osama Bin Ladens will have excuses to plan other September 11th s!

A few nights ago, I spoke with Dr Song, a Korean activist who used to swim every day to Gureombi Rock, a sacred, volcanic rock formation along Gangjeong’s coastline which was destroyed by the naval base construction. At one point, coast guard officials jailed him for trying to reach Gureombi by swimming. Dr. Song just returned from Okinawa, where he met with Japanese who have resisted the U.S. military base in Okinawa for decades.

The Okinawan and Korean activists understand the global challenge we face.  The 99% must link to form a strong, united 99%. By acting together, we can build a better world, instead of burning out as tiny communities of change. The 1% is way too wealthy and well-resourced in an entrenched system to be stopped by any one village or group.

‘We are many, they are few’ applies more effectively when we stand together. Socially and emotionally, we need one another more than ever, as our existence is threatened by human-engineered climate change, nuclear annihilation and gross socioeconomic inequalities.

The governments of South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan and even my home country Singapore, have dangerously partnered with the U.S. against China, in Obama’s Asia pivot, dividing human beings by using the threat of armed force, for profit.

The non-violent examples of the people of Gangjeong Village should lead people worldwide  to make friendships, create conversations,   build alternative education systems, promote communally beneficial, sustainable economies , and create peace parks where people can celebrate their art, music, and dancing.  Visit Gangjeong Village and you’ll see how residents have created joyful ways to turn the Asia War Pivot into an Asia Peace Pivot, as you can watch in this video.

Alternatively, people can choose the “helpless bystander” role and become passive spectators as oppressive global militarism and corporate greed destroy us.  People can stand still and watch  destruction of beautiful coral reefs and marine life in Jeju, Australia and other seas; watch livelihoods, like those of Gangjeong and Gaza fishermen, disappear;   and watch, mutely, as fellow human beings like Americans, Afghans, Syrians, Libyans, Egyptians, Palestinians. Israelis, Ukrainians, Nigerians, Malians, Mexicans, indigenous peoples and many others are killed.

Or, we can be Like Mi Ryang. As free and equal human beings we can lay aside our individual concerns and lobbies to unite, cooperatively, making our struggles more attractive and less lonely.  Together, we’re more than capable of persuading the world to seek genuine security and liberation.

The Afghan Peace Volunteers have begun playing their tiny part in promoting non-violence and serving fellow Afghans in Kabul. As they connect the dots of inequality, global warming and wars, they long to build relationships across all borders, under the same blue sky, in order to save themselves, the earth and humanity.

Through their Borderfree effort to build socioeconomic equality, take care of our blue planet, and abolish war, they wear their Borderfree Blue Scarves and say, together with Mi Ryang and the resilient villagers of Gangjeong Village, “Don’t touch me!”

“Don’t touch us!”

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Americans Want to End Afghanistan War

NOVANEWS

Despite polling that Americans think that the Afghanistan War was a mistake and is definitely not worth fighting, the Obama administration is poised to announce its plans to leave 9,800 troops and an unknown amount of contractors in the country after the end of this year.

“Americans are tired of war. It’s time for the longest U.S. war in history to be over. Instead, the Obama Administration wants to leave nearly 10,000 troops and untold contractors in Afghanistan after the end of year costing billions of dollars,” observed Paul Kawika Martin, the political director of Peace Action — a group founded in 1957 and the largest grassroots peace organization in the U.S. His comments came after news reports of an immanent announcement by President Obama.

Experts agree that the long-term cost of the Afghanistan War may reach trillions of dollars and it’s unclear that troops in the country will really help with stability.

It is known that the administration will only finalize the decision about troop presence when a bilateral agreement is reached with the Afghanistan government. Presently, President Karzai refuses to sign but the two candidates embroiled in a runoff election say they will sign when the take office sometime late in the summer.

Republican House leadership block a recent amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would of required congressional approval to leave troops beyond 2014. Congress may still weigh in on this issue with several other bills they have on their docket. It’s possible that Congress would not approve the President’s troop levels if it came to a vote.

“No strong evidence suggests that the cost of blood and treasure of leaving troops and contractors in Afghanistan after this year will make Americans safer or the region more stable,” concluded Martin who traveled to the country in 2010.

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How the US Created the Afghan War—and Then Lost It

NOVANEWS

The Unreported Story of How the Haqqani Network Became America’s Greatest Enemy

It was a typical Kabul morning. Malik Ashgar Square was already bumper-to-bumper with Corolla taxis, green police jeeps, honking minivans, and angry motorcyclists. There were boys selling phone cards and men waving wads of cash for exchange, all weaving their way around the vehicles amid exhaust fumes. At the gate of the Lycée Esteqial, one of the country’s most prestigious schools, students were kicking around a soccer ball. At the Ministry of Education, a weathered old Soviet-style building opposite the school, a line of employees spilled out onto the street. I was crossing the square, heading for the ministry, when I saw the suicide attacker.

He had Scandinavian features. Dressed in blue jeans and a white t-shirt, and carrying a large backpack, he began firing indiscriminately at the ministry. From my vantage point, about 50 meters away, I couldn’t quite see his expression, but he did not seem hurried or panicked. I took cover behind a parked taxi. It wasn’t long before the traffic police had fled and the square had emptied of vehicles.

Twenty-eight people, mostly civilians, died in attacks at the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Justice, and elsewhere across the city that day in 2009. Afterward, U.S. authorities implicated the Haqqani Network, a shadowy outfit operating from Pakistan that had pioneered the use of multiple suicide bombers in headline-grabbing urban assaults. Unlike other Taliban groups, the Haqqanis’ approach to mayhem was worldly and sophisticated: they recruited Arabs, Pakistanis, even Europeans, and they were influenced by the latest in radical Islamist thought. Their leader, the septuagenarian warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, was something like Osama bin Laden and Al Capone rolled into one, as fiercely ideological as he was ruthlessly pragmatic.

And so many years later, his followers are still fighting.  Even with the U.S. withdrawing the bulk of its troops this year, up to 10,000 Special Operations forces, CIA paramilitaries, and their proxies will likely stay behind to battle the Haqqanis, the Taliban, and similar outfits in a war that seemingly has no end. With such entrenched enemies, the conflict today has an air of inevitability — but it could all have gone so differently.

Though it’s now difficult to imagine, by mid-2002 there was no insurgency in Afghanistan: al-Qaeda had fled the country and the Taliban had ceased to exist as a military movement. Jalaluddin Haqqani and other top Taliban figures were reaching out to the other side in an attempt to cut a deal and lay down their arms. Tens of thousands of U.S. forces, however, had arrived on Afghan soil, post-9/11, with one objective: to wage a war on terror.

As I report in my new book, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes, the U.S. would prosecute that war even though there was no enemy to fight. To understand how America’s battle in Afghanistan went so wrong for so long, a (hidden) history lesson is in order. In those early years after 2001, driven by the idée fixe that the world was rigidly divided into terrorist and non-terrorist camps, Washington allied with Afghan warlords and strongmen. Their enemies became ours, and through faulty intelligence, their feuds became repackaged as “counterterrorism.” The story of Jalaluddin Haqqani, who turned from America’s potential ally into its greatest foe, is the paradigmatic case of how the war on terror created the very enemies it sought to eradicate.

The Campaign to Take Out Haqqani: 2001

Jalaluddin Haqqani stands at about average height, with bushy eyebrows, an aquiline nose, a wide smile, and an expansive beard, which in its full glory swallows half his face. In his native land, the three southeastern Afghan provinces known collectively as Loya Paktia, he is something of a war hero, an anti-Soviet mujahedeen of storied bravery and near mythical endurance. (Once, after being shot, he refused painkillers because he was fasting.) During the waning years of the Cold War, he was beloved by the Americans — Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson called him “goodness personified” — and by Osama bin Laden, too. In the 1980s, the U.S. supplied him with funds and weapons in the battle against a Soviet-backed regime in Kabul and the Red Army, while radical Arab groups provided a steady stream of recruits to bolster his formidable Afghan force.

American officials had this history in mind when the second Afghan War began in October 2001. Hoping to convince Haqqani (who had backed the Taliban and al-Qaeda in the post-Soviet years) to defect, they spared his territory in Loya Paktia the intense bombing campaign that they had loosed on much of the rest of the country. The Taliban, for their part, placed him in charge of their entire military force, both sides sensing that his could be the swing vote in the war. Haqqani met with top Taliban figures and Osama bin Laden, only to decamp for Pakistan, where he took part in a flurry of meetings with Pakistanis and U.S.-backed Afghans.

His representatives also began meeting American officials in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, and the United Arab Emirates, and the Americans eventually offered him a deal: surrender to detention, cooperate with the new Afghan military authorities, and after a suitable period, he would be free to go. For Haqqani, one of Loya Paktia’s most respected and popular figures, the prospect of sitting behind bars was unfathomable. Arsala Rahmani, an associate of his, who would go on to serve as a senator in the Afghan government, told me, “He wanted to have an important position in Loya Paktia, but they offered to arrest him. He couldn’t believe it. Can you imagine such an insult?”

Haqqani declined the American offer, but left the door open to future talks. The prevailing ethos in the U.S., though, was that you were either with us or against us. “I personally always believed that Haqqani was someone we could have worked with,” a former U.S. intelligence official told journalist Joby Warrick. “But at the time, no one was looking over the horizon, to where we might be in five years. For the policy folks, it was just ‘screw these little brown people.’”

In early November, the U.S. began bombing Loya Paktia. Two nights later, warplanes attacked Haqqani’s home in the town of Gardez, near the Pakistani border. He was not present, but his brother-in-law and a family servant died in the blast. The next evening, U.S. planes struck a religious school in the village of Mata China, one of many Haqqani had built in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which provided room, board, and education to poor children. Malem Jan, a Haqqani family friend, showed up the next morning. “I had never seen anything like it,” he said. “There were so many bodies. The roof was flattened to the ground. I saw one child who was alive under there, but no one could get him out in time.” Thirty-four people, almost all children, lost their lives.

Haqqani was in his primary residence in the nearby village of Zani Khel, a dusty cluster of mud houses that had once been an anti-Soviet stronghold. “We heard the blast, and then the sound of planes in the sky,” a cousin, who lived next door, told me. “We became very afraid.” Haqqani retreated to the house of Mawlawi Sirajuddin, a village chief. Not long after, the house shook violently from a direct airstrike. Haqqani was grievously wounded but managed to climb out of the rubble and escape. Sirajuddin, though, was not so lucky: his wife Fatima, three grandsons, six granddaughters, and 10 other relatives were killed.

The next morning, Haqqani sent word to his subordinates and former sub-commanders advising them to surrender. The Americans, however, had already found the local ally in Loya Paktia that they’d been looking for, a would-be warlord and supporter of the exiled Afghan king named Pacha Khan Zadran. With a thick uni-brow and handlebar mustache, PKZ (as he came to be known to the Americans) looked something like an Afghan Saddam Hussein. Flamboyant, illiterate, and quick-tempered, he was in many ways the opposite of Haqqani, under whom he had briefly fought during the anti-Soviet jihad. He had arrived in Loya Paktia shortly after the Taliban fled in mid-November and promptly declared himself governor of the three provinces. In no time, he had sealed his ties to the Americans by promising to deliver the man they now wanted most: Jalaluddin Haqqani.

“The last time I saw him,” Malem Jan said, “he was worried and upset. He told me to save myself and leave, because Pacha Khan would not allow us to live.” One early morning in late November, Haqqani slipped across the border into Pakistan. He would never be seen in public again.

An Attempt at Reconciliation Up in Flames: 2001 

On December 20, 2001, the American-backed Hamid Karzai was preparing for his inauguration as interim president of Afghanistan. Nearly 100 of Loya Paktia’s leading tribal elders set out that afternoon in a convoy for Kabul to congratulate Karzai and declare their loyalty, a gesture that would go far in legitimizing his rule among the country’s border population. From Pakistan, Haqqani sent family members, close friends, and political allies to participate in the motorcade — an olive branch to the new government.

About 30 vehicles long, the convoy drove through the desert for hours. Near sunset, it reached a hilltop and was forced to stop: PKZ and hundreds of his armed men were blocking the road. Malek Sardar, an elder from Haqqani’s tribe, approached him. “He was demanding that the elders should accept him as leader of Loya Paktia,” Sardar told me. “He wanted our thumb prints and signatures right then and there.” Sardar promised to return after the inauguration to discuss the matter, but PKZ would not budge, so the convoy backed up and headed off to find a different route to Kabul.

On his satellite phone, Sardar called officials in the Afghan capital and at the U.S. consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, looking for help, but he was too late.  PKZ, who had the ear of key American military figures, had informed them that a “Haqqani-al Qaeda” cavalcade was making its way toward Kabul. Shortly thereafter, amid deafening explosions, cars started bursting into flames. “We could see lights in the sky, fire everywhere. People were screaming and we ran,” Sardar said. The Americans were bombing the convoy. The attacks would continue for hours. As Sardar and others took cover in a pair of nearby villages, planes circled back and struck both locations, destroying nearly 20 homes and killing dozens of inhabitants. In all, 50 people, including many prominent tribal elders, died in the assault.

It was now late December, and in Qale Niazi, a village that had been a Haqqani stronghold in the 1980s, the bombing had frightened elders into taking control of a decades-old weapons dump. “We did not want Pacha Khan to take these weapons and use them,” said elder Fazel Muhammad. “They should belong to the government of Karzai, so we guarded it until they came.”

He was on his way to the village one night for a wedding party when he heard the American planes. A moment later, mud houses ahead of him exploded in a direct hit. A second bomb struck the weapons depot, setting off a series of eruptions. The night sky lit up, illuminating fleeing women and children. “Some helicopters came,” Muhammad said, “and then these people were no more.”

In the morning, Fazel Muhammad went looking for the house of his relatives, where the wedding party had been, but all he found there were pulverized mud bricks, twisted picture frames, deformed pots, a child’s shoe, a scalp with braided hair, and severed human fingers. Later, a tribal commission set up to investigate the massacre determined that PKZ had fed the Americans “intelligence” that Qale Niazi was a Haqqani stronghold. According to a United Nations investigation, 52 people had died: 17 men, 10 women, and 25 children.

Reconciliation and Flames: 2002

In six weeks, America’s campaign to kill Jalaluddin Haqqani had resulted in 159 dead civilians, a flattened village, 37 destroyed homes, a fractured tribal leadership, and the ascendancy of one man, Pacha Khan Zadran, as the most important player in Loya Paktia. Meanwhile, Haqqani and his followers were in hiding in Pakistan, watching the three provinces in which they had enjoyed prestige and riches slip out of their grasp. Life inside Pakistan proved little better. While Haqqani hid in Peshawar, his family had retreated to a suburb of Miram Shah, the capital of the tribal agency of North Waziristan. The Pakistani military was, at that point, working closely with Washington to round up al-Qaeda and Taliban suspects. In December, its troops raided the Miram Shah home, arresting his son Sirajuddin. Weeks later, they stormed the Peshawar hideout, with Haqqani barely escaping.

In the following months, U.S. Special Forces teams staged secret incursions into Pakistan to raid Haqqani homes and seminaries, inciting anger in the local community. “We will never allow anybody to destroy our religious institutions,” said Hajji Salam Wazir, a tribal elder. “I am surprised how the Americans use the Muslims,” he added. “Until yesterday, Haqqani was a hero and freedom fighter for the U.S., and they sent their own military experts to train him. Now he is a terrorist.”

Caught between the threat of Pakistani arrest and American assassination, Haqqani decided to reach out again to the new Afghan government. In March 2002, he dispatched his brother Ibrahim Omari to Afghanistan in a bid to reconcile with Karzai. In a public ceremony attended by hundreds of tribal elders and local dignitaries, Omari pledged allegiance to the new government and issued a call for Haqqani followers to return from Pakistan and work with the authorities. He was then appointed head of Paktia province’s tribal council, an institution meant to link village elders with the Kabul government. Soon, hundreds of Haqqani’s old sub-commanders, who had been hiding in fear of PKZ, came in from the cold.

Malem Jan was one of them. With long, curling eyelashes, daubs of kohl under his eyes, and polished fingernails, he had a taste for dancing, which he often performed solo to the delight of his comrades. He was also an accomplished commander, having fought under Haqqani during the early 1990s against the Communist government. In the spring of 2002, he rounded up his old fighters and soon they were working for the CIA as a paramilitary unit, providing security for American missions in search of al-Qaeda.

“It was a good time,” Malem Jan recalled. “We were working closely together, sharing meals, sharing gossip.” The CIA militias, of which there were a half-dozen in Loya Paktia, would soon enough grow into a 3,000-man shadow army, collectively called Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams, which operates to this day outside of the Afghan government’s jurisdiction and answers only to U.S. forces.

Contacts between Haqqani and the CIA were rekindled, with his brother Omari acting as the intermediary. Plans were made for a meeting between Haqqani himself and Agency representatives. Key to a deal was the assurance that he would be allowed to return to Afghanistan and take part in Loya Paktia politics. The trouble was PKZ, who viewed such maneuverings with jealousy and was still angling to control the three provinces outright. “I must be allowed to take over as governor,” he declared to the Austin American-Statesman. “If it’s not me, it will be someone from al-Qaeda.”

When Karzai appointed a new man to head Paktia province, PKZ made his move, laying siege to the governor’s mansion and killing 25 people. At the same time, he convinced American military officers to clamp down on the Haqqanis. One evening, as Omari was visiting the house of a government official near Kabul, U.S. Special Operations forces showed up — without the CIA’s knowledge — and arrested him. That week, similar arrests of Haqqani followers took place across Loya Paktia.

As soon as Malem Jan realized what was happening, he fled to Pakistan, but a number of his subordinates were rounded up and dispatched to the new American prison at Bagram Air Base, a quickly expanding military command center. Swat Khan, his deputy, said that in his initial questioning he was hung by his wrists from the ceiling. Later, he was beaten. Finally, he was shipped to Guantanamo, where, a few years later, he attempted suicide. “It’s all there when I close my eyes,” he told me after his release. “The nightmare never leaves me.”

It took the CIA months to realize that Omari was in an American lockup. When he was finally released, he looked like a different man. It was a cold autumn day, on a hilltop near the town of Khost, when hundreds of tribal elders and government officials came to receive him. There were dignitaries from villages that had been bombed and attacked by American planes and PKZ’s forces, elders who had survived the disastrous convoy, farmers whose sons had been sent to Guantanamo.

“At first I couldn’t even recognize him,” said tribal elder Malek Sardar. “He wouldn’t talk about what they had done to him. It seemed too painful to ask.” Slowly, his voice quivering, Omari addressed the crowd. There was no hope in this government or the Americans, he told them. Some elders shouted insults at Karzai. Others said the Americans were no different from the Russians. Omari swore he would never set foot on Afghan soil again until it was free of “the infidels.” Not long after, he left for Pakistan.

The Haqqani Network: 2004-2014

In the summer of 2004, Malem Jan was sitting with Sirajuddin Haqqani, the second son of Jalaluddin, in their Pakistani base in the North Waziristan town of Miram Shah when they heard their names on the BBC. The Americans were offering $250,000 and $200,000, respectively, as rewards for information leading to their capture. Introverted, religious, and fiercely intelligent, the younger Haqqani was rapidly taking over the reins of his ailing father’s network, and he smiled at the thought of his deputy, Malem Jan, fetching a larger reward than him. “They say he who has the highest bounty on his head is the closest to God,” he joked.

The Haqqanis were now in open war against the Americans. Whereas his father had presided over Loya Paktia with popular support, Sirajuddin ruled from the shadows through fear — assassinations, kidnappings, extortion, and roadside bombings. Miram Shah had become the world capital of radical jihad, home to al-Qaeda and an assortment of Chechens, Uzbeks, and Europeans fighting under Haqqani’s banner. The ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service, was now supporting the Haqqanis as way of influencing events inside Afghanistan, even as Islamabad publicly allied with Washington.

By classifying certain groups as terrorists, and then acting upon those classifications, the U.S. had inadvertently brought about the very conditions it had set out to fight. By 2010, the Haqqani network was the deadliest wing of an increasingly violent insurgency that was claiming the lives of countless civilians, as well as American soldiers. It was hard, by then, even to recall that, back in mid-2002, U.S. forces had been without an enemy: the remnants of al-Qaeda had fled to Pakistan, the Taliban had collapsed, and the Haqqanis were attempting to reconcile.

If Pacha Khan Zadran was able to convince his American allies otherwise, it was because of the logic of the war on terror. “Terrorism” was understood not as a set of tactics (hostage taking, assassinations, car bombings), but as something rooted in the identity of its perpetrators, like height or temperament. This meant that, once designated a “terrorist,” Jalaluddin Haqqani could never shake the label, even when he attempted to reconcile. On the other hand, when PKZ eventually broke with the Karzai government and turned his guns on the Americans, he was labeled not a terrorist but a “renegade.” (He eventually fled to Pakistan, was arrested, turned over to the Afghan government, and later was elected to parliament.)

In recent years, the U.S. has waged an intense drone campaign against the Haqqanis in their North Waziristan stronghold. Dozens of their commanders have been killed, including their top military chief, Badruddin Haqqani. Many others have been arrested. Today, the Haqqani network is a shadow of its former self.

The group’s influence, however, lives on. In 2012, I received a phone call from the family of Arsala Rahmani, the Afghan senator with whom I’d become friendly. That morning, a gunman had pulled up alongside Rahmani’s vehicle, idling in a crowded intersection, and shot him point blank. Later, I learned that a former Haqqani-aligned commander named Najibullah was the culprit; he had launched his own faction, Mahaz-e-Fedayeen, whose ruthlessness made the Haqqanis look like amateurs.  Now in the crosshairs of U.S. counterterrorism forces, his group is but the latest enemy in a war that never seems to end.

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War Crimes Committed Against Afghan Villagers

NOVANEWS

To the Honorable Navanethem Pillay High Commissioner for Human Rights Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Palais Wilson  52 rue des Pâquis  CH-1201 Geneva, Switzerland.

RE: War Crimes Committed Against Afghan Villagers

Dear High Commissioner Pillay:

The genocide, massacring, torturing, raping, slaughtering, several hundred thousand of innocent Afghan villagers are war crimes and human rights violations.

zpfile000

The United States, NATO, the puppet Karzai government and others have committed war crimes in Afghanistan during these past thirteen years.  It includes former President George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, President Obama, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmusson, and other top officials and military leaders in their administrations who are the real terrorists.

zpfile001

Muslims around the world are watching the United Nations to see if it brings justice for the Muslim victims in Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries. It is time that the United Nations takes action and moves to have those responsible for these war crimes and human rights violations prosecuted and held responsible. For the past thirteen plus years, the Afghan villagers have suffered and not received any justice.  Please stop blaming the victims, the Afghan villagers.

I believe the United Nations must have the courage to prosecute these crimes and not bow down to the superpowers, which are responsible for these war crimes and cover up these crimes. At the end of the Soviet Union’s war in and occupation of Afghanistan in 1989, the United Nations did not convene and prosecute the Soviet communist and Afghan communist war criminals, who committed war crimes against the Afghan civilians. They did not receive justice then. Shame on the United Nations.  Now, it is happening again. Another super power, the United States and the corrupt Karzai government are committing war crimes against the Afghan villagers and thus far there has been no international tribunals to prosecute these war criminals, such as Rashid Dostum and Vice President Fahim Qasim. Again, the United Nations is covering up these crimes for the superpowers.

There can be no peace in Afghanistan without justice. The Afghan people deserve justice just as much as the Bosnians, the Rwandans, the Jewish victims in World War II, etc, who received justice through international tribunals. Please show me that as an individual dedicated to human rights, you will see that the Afghan villagers who are victims of war crimes and human rights violations receive justice.  Please work with your United Nations’ colleagues to help these Afghan villagers receive justice.

It is time that the war and occupation must end, and all U.S. and foreign troops must leave, including the special operation forces and other U.S. hired mercenaries.  I believe that the United States sets the example in the world and must always follow the rule of law and go above and beyond it. However, based on much documentation of scholars, journalists, lawyers, human rights groups, forensic specialists, other professionals and those on the ground, that has not occurred during the past thirteen plus years when it comes to our involvement in Afghanistan.

As many opine and as I believe, the facts show that the United States has been operating like a rogue nation above the law in Afghanistan with its full scale invasion and occupation of Afghanistan (which was not responsible for the tragic events of 9/11) with its use of carpet bombs, experimental weapons, and remote drone assassination strikes, with its destruction of Afghan villages around the vast REE deposits in the Pashtun areas, with its use of JSOC command of special operations forces in cooperation with CIA operators and Blackwater CIA mercenaries, who raid villages, terrorize and kill civilians, and snatch, grab, render, and torture those Afghans who oppose and who have opposed the war/occupation and the corrupt drug-trafficking Karzai government.

The Afghanistan Freedom Fighter is the majority of ordinary Afghan villagers, who have been the victims of this U.S. led war and corrupt puppet government. These Afghans who resist are not war profiteers, war lords, war criminals, corrupt government officials, or drug traffickers. I believe it is time that U.S government stop the propaganda. I believe many in our government, especially top officials, know who is “really” profiting from the drug trafficking and this war, and why our country “really” was invaded, and who occupies and wants to continue to have nine permanent military bases in Afghanistan along with another Afghan puppet elected president.

It is not really about counter terrorism or true democracy (that is just the propaganda needed to justify our country’s actions to the T.V.-watching American people). Rather, it is about establishing and maintaining our military presence in Afghanistan, the heart of Central Asia, to control the flow of gas, oil and REEs in the Caspian Sea Region, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is about having a military staging ground to launch small attacks and drone attacks in the area against those who oppose the war/ occupation and military-based U.S. foreign policy.

It is about, after the end of the Cold War, (the defeat of the Soviet Union by the Afghan Freedom Fighters) the United States’ rebuilding its defenses and establishing its bases away from Europe and now in Central Asia as the new buffer or outer security perimeter.  It is about allowing the CIA- sponsored restoration of the drug trafficking, which makes a few Afghans and Americans, government officials, defense contractors and others wealthier and also funds the secret operations of the CIAs and JSOC’s dirty war.  I believe the good citizens in America and the world are beginning to awaken and realize that the real terrorizing of the Afghan people is being committed by the bullying superpower, the United States, NATO and their agents and puppets.

IN addition, the Afghan majority is awakening and realizing that this proposed bilateral security agreement that United States government is trying to force the Afghan government to execute is in reality a way to allow JSOC through its special operations forces, in cooperation with the private, now wealthy mercenaries such as Blackwater and CIA operatives, to continue to terrorize the Afghan villagers.

The Bilateral Security Agreement will allow the continuation of the flow of drug trafficking and the control of the Afghan people’s REEs, and the oil and gas rich Caspian and greater region. The Afghan villagers will continue to be terrorized and subjected to suffering. Let’s be honest the U.S. Government really does not care about the ordinary Afghan people. It cares about attaining its national interests in Afghanistan at whatever cost. It cares about the Afghan war lords, drug traffickers, Afghan communists, war profiteers, and Afghan government puppets, which will help it achieve these national goals and implement its militaristic foreign policy in that region at any cost and by any means. I do believe the United Sates can achieve its goals in the region by following the law and doing it the right way.

It is a fact that since the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan the opium drug trade has soared. The United States has restored such drug trafficking. The United States’ foreign policy in Afghanistan, which is driven by the decision-making of the CIA, Pentagon, and military think tanks such as RAND, supports the thriving drug trafficking.  What is even better in their eyes, our government and the drug trafficking Karzai government and Northern Alliance can blame the soaring drug trade on the so – called “Taliban”.

The U.S. government has managed through propaganda in the media to blame, scapegoat and collectively punish the Afghan people for the tragic events of 9/11, even though they are not responsible for the tragedy.  It is a fact that under the Taliban government rule, the drug trafficking and poppy production was almost completely eradicated. Even the United Nations General Assembly in October 2001 acknowledged this fact when it referenced the Taliban’s 2000 Opium Eradication Program.

Every Afghan knows that historically the Northern Alliance has always been the drug traffickers in Afghanistan. Every Afghan knows that presently it is top officials in the Karzai government, such as the Karzai family, the Vice President Fahim Qasim, and the Governor of Nungarhar Gul Agha Sherzai who are the drug traffickers.

I believe it is also common knowledge that the CIA and JSOC fund their dirty, secret operations through dirty money that comes from laundering that drug money through CIA shell companies and banks in the Middle East and off-shore.  It is common knowledge that JSOC does not report to Congress. The CIA started this type of funding for its operations back in the 1980s. As many have discovered, unfortunately heroin has become part of the war agenda.

I believe the United States is responsible for making Afghanistan a narco-state with a corrupt puppet Afghan government with many top officials involved in this drug trafficking. The war profiteers are becoming richer and the U.S. war machine grinds on at the expense of the ordinary Afghan majority, who suffer and will continue to suffer due to a military/intelligence controlled foreign policy.

This war and occupation in Afghanistan, with JSOC special operation forces, CIA operatives and private mercenaries is beyond the rule of law, outside congressional oversight and fits the definition of terrorism. The Afghan villagers, who are the majority, are the victims of these terrorist acts. They are the victims of these war crimes.

These war criminals, Afghan and American, whoever they are and whatever positions or jobs they hold, including the executive office, must be prosecuted in lawful tribunals for these crimes. Afghan victims, just like the Bosnians, Rwandans, the Jewish people etc, have a right to justice. Unfortunately, as we have witnessed in Afghanistan during these past four decades, without justice there can be no peace.

We need true peace in Afghanistan, which will not occur unless all foreign troops including U.S. special operation forces and hired mercenaries leave Afghanistan. We will not have true peace unless the war criminals are brought to justice in lawful tribunals- criminal and monetary justice. I hope you have the courage to help bring justice for these Muslim victims of war crimes.

Sincerely

Abdul Kadir Mohmand

Former Representative of the Afghan Mujahideen for North America during the 1980s

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Salt and Terror in Afghanistan

NOVANEWS
Rising Above Vengeance

Afghanistan

 

by KATHY KELLY

In late January in a room in Kabul, Afghanistan, I joined several dozen people, working seamstresses, some college students, socially engaged teenagers and a few visiting internationals like myself, to discuss world hunger. Our emphasis was not exclusively on their own country’s worsening hunger problems.  The Afghan Peace Volunteers, in whose home we were meeting, draw strength from looking beyond their own very real struggles.

With us was Hakim, a medical doctor who spent six years working as a public health specialist in the central highlands of Afghanistan and, prior to that, among refugees in Quetta, Pakistan.  He helped us understand conditions that lead to food shortages and taught us about diseases, such as kwashiorkor and marasmus, which are caused by insufficient protein or general malnutrition.

We looked at UN figures about hunger in Afghanistan, which show malnutrition rates rising by 50 percent or more compared with 2012. The malnutrition ward at Helmand Province’s Bost Hospital has been admitting 200 children a month for severe, acute malnutrition — four times more than in January 2012.

A recent New York Times article about the worsening hunger crisis described an encounter with a mother and child in an Afghan hospital: “In another bed is Fatima, less than a year old, who is so severely malnourished that her heart is failing, and the doctors expect that she will soon die unless her father is able to find money to take her to Kabul for surgery. The girl’s face bears a perpetual look of utter terror, and she rarely stops crying.”

Photos of Fatima and other children in the ward accompanied the article. In our room in Kabul, Hakim projected the photos on the wall. They were painful to see and so were the nods of comprehension from Afghans all too familiar with the agonies of poverty in a time of war.

As children grow, they need iodine to enable proper brain development.  According to a UNICEF/GAIN report, “iodine deficiency is the most prevalent cause of brain damage worldwide.  It is easily preventable, and through ongoing targeted interventions, can be eliminated.” As recently as 2009 we learned that 70 percent of Afghan children faced an iodine deficiency.

Universal Salt Iodization (USI) is recognized as a simple, safe and cost-effective measure in addressing iodine deficiency. The World Bank reports that it costs $.05 per child, per year.

In 2012, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) announced a four-year projectwhich aimed to reach nearly half of Afghanistan’s population – 15 million Afghans – with fortified foods. Their strategy was to add vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, folic acid, Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin A to wheat flour, vegetable oil and ghee, and also to fortify salt with iodine.  The project costs $6.4 million.

The sums of money required to fund delivery of iodine and fortified foods to malnourished Afghan children should be compared, I believe, to the sums of money that the Pentagon’s insatiable appetite for war-making has required of U.S. people.

The price tag for supplying iodized salt to one child for one year is 5 cents.

The cost of maintaining one U.S. soldier has recently risen to $2.1 million per year.  The amount of money spent to keep three U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in 2014 could almost cover the cost of a four-year program to deliver fortified foods to 15 million Afghan people.

Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Stein, who is overseeing the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, has referred to the operation as “the largest retrograde mission in history.”  The mission will cost as much as $6 billion.

Over the past decade, spin doctors for U.S. military spending have suggested that Afghanistan needs the U.S. troop presence and U.S. non-military spending to protect the interests of women and children.

It’s true that non-military aid to Afghanistan, sent by the U.S. since 2002, now approaches $100 billion.

Several articles on Afghanistan’s worsening hunger crisis, appearing in the Western press, prompt readers to ask how Afghanistan could be receiving vast sums of non-military aid and yet still struggle with severe acute malnourishment among children under age five.

However, a 2013 quarterly report to Congress submitted by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan shows that, of the nearly $100 billion spent on wartime reconstruction, $97 billion has been spent on counter-narcotics, security, “governance/development” and “oversight and operations.”  No more than $3 billion, a hundred dollars per Afghan person, were used for “humanitarian” projects – to help keep 30 million Afghans alive through 12 years of U.S. war and occupation.

Funds have been available for tanks, guns, bullets, helicopters, missiles, weaponized drones, drone surveillance, Joint Special Operations task forces, bases, airstrips, prisons, and truck-delivered supplies for tens of thousands of troops. But funds are in short supply for children too weak to cry who are battling for their lives while wasting away.

A whole generation of Afghans and other people around the developing world see the true results of Westerners’ self-righteous claim for the need to keep civilians “safe” through war.  They see the terror, entirely justified, filling Fatima’s eyes in her hospital bed.

In that room in Kabul, as my friends learned about the stark realities of hunger, and among them, I know, were some who worry about hunger in their own families, I could see a rejection both of panic and of revenge in the eyes of the people around me. Their steady thoughtfulness was an inspiration.

Panic and revenge among far more prosperous people in the U.S. helped to drive the U.S. into a war waged against one of the poorest countries in the world. Yet, my Afghan friends, who’ve borne the brunt of war, long to rise above vengeance and narrow self-interest.

They wish to pursue a peace that includes ending hunger.

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British snipers killed Afghans in pointless ‘turkey shoot’ and boosted support for the Taliban, says major who revealed how troops died due to lack of equipment

NOVANEWS
  • Major Streatfeild commanded a company of riflemen fighting the Taliban
  • Says many shot and killed as a result posed no risk to British forces
  • Streatfeild condemns ‘turkey shoot’ tactics that led to ‘repetitive slaughter’
  • Says British soldiers pointlessly killed hundreds of armed villagers  
    

By MARK NICHOL

terrorism

British soldiers pointlessly killed hundreds of armed villagers in Afghanistan who posed no imminent threat, a former officer has claimed.

In a sensational new book, Major Richard Streatfeild condemns the ‘turkey shoot’ tactics that led to the ‘repetitive slaughter’ of people that UK troops were supposed to protect.

Soldiers based in Helmand from 2006 to 2009 were permitted to open fire on anyone approaching their bases while carrying a weapon.

But Major Streatfeild, who commanded a company of riflemen fighting the Taliban, said many of those shot and killed as a result posed no risk to British forces, in what amounted to ‘a turkey shoot masquerading as professional soldiering’.

While the actions of these British Forces were legal, and met the Rules of Engagement enforced by top brass, the former officer has revealed how the incidents turned locals against British troops and persuaded more Afghans to support the Taliban.

Major Streatfeild, 41, caused outrage last week when the MoS reported his claims that many British troops died in Afghanistan due to a woeful lack of equipment.

The officer, who presented a series of emotional Radio 4 dispatches from the frontline, The Sangin Diaries, admitted misleading the public in his broadcasts by playing down the full scale of the kit crisis affecting troops. 

An exclusive extract from his memoir, Honourable Warriors, appears below.

Last night he said: ‘The repetitive slaughter of local people forced by the Taliban to take up arms against us was pointless and counter- productive. 

British soldiers patrolling Sangin, Afghanistan

British soldiers patrolling Sangin, Afghanistan

Under fire: The soldiers were working in Sangin province, pictured, one of the most dangerous places on Earth

Under fire: The soldiers were working in Sangin province, pictured, one of the most dangerous places on Earth

Claims: Major Streatfeild said there were not enough armoured vehicles, which the MoD denied

Claims: Major Streatfeild said there were not enough armoured vehicles, which the MoD denied

These men, who lived in the villages surrounding our bases, did not want to fight us. Instead, they were forced by the enemy to join the battle, over issues such as their failure to pay a tax demanded by the Taliban.

Sadly, there were many occasions when these men approached our bases and, as they were carrying a weapon, they were shot dead.

‘But the truth was they posed very little threat to us, in particular if no British patrols were out on the ground at the time. 

Major Richard Streatfeild before he gave evidence in the inquest into the death of Lance corporal Michael Pritchard, which he claims was caused by a lack of proper equipment and training

Major Richard Streatfeild before he gave evidence in the inquest into the death of Lance corporal Michael Pritchard, which he claims was caused by a lack of proper equipment and training

‘These men were not hard-core or “Tier One” Taliban and they should have been spared.

‘By killing them, we made enemies of the local communities because they were honour-bound by their cultural codes of behaviour, to avenge the deaths.

‘We also handed the Taliban a propaganda victory; the insurgents were able to say to the locals “look, this is how the British treat you, come with us”.’

Horrified by the damage done by the ‘turkey shoot’ tactics, Streatfeild, of A Company, 4th Battalion, the Rifles (4 Rifles), ordered his riflemen only to take aim at Afghans carrying weapons in situations when those gunman posed a definite threat to British troops or local civilians.

Streatfeild, who served in Sangin district, Helmand Province, in 2009-2010, urged his riflemen to fire warning shots when they saw Afghans carrying weapons or preparing Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).

But while community leaders thanked Streatfeild for the restraint displayed by his troops, his approach fell foul of top brass from the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) based in Kabul.

He said: ‘In March 2010, after I had seen the benefits of warning shots in order to de-esculate a potentially fatal situation, an order was passed down from ISAF banning their use.

‘Apparently the inaccurate firing of warning shots by international troops had caused civilian casualties in other parts of Afghanistan.

‘While the ISAF dictat was well intentioned, removing the option of warning shots forced soldiers to either shoot to kill or not intervene at all.’

Streatfeild told last night how, after the ISAF dictat, one of his riflemen spotted a child laying an IED on the 611 highway, a main road through Helmand Province used by British troops.

The soldier could not bring himself to shoot dead the child. 

Major Streatfeild, left, replaces Major Ian Moodie in Sangin in 2009

Major Streatfeild, left, replaces Major Ian Moodie in Sangin in 2009

Michael Pritchard in Afghanistan, the young soldier who was accidentally shot dead by a comrade while on active service by a sniper who thought he was a Taliban fighter. Streatfeild claims 'battlefield beacons' could have been used to save Pritchard's life

Michael Pritchard in Afghanistan, the young soldier who was accidentally shot dead by a comrade while on active service by a sniper who thought he was a Taliban fighter. Streatfeild claims ‘battlefield beacons’ could have been used to save Pritchard’s life

‘He said to me afterwards that he had fired a single shot to kill the child but had simply missed the target. I didn’t believe the soldier.

‘It was clear to me that he’d fired a warning shot, just as I would have wanted him to in that situation. The child was no older than ten years old.

‘Because of the ISAF dictat, the soldier felt he had to lie  to me. Afterwards, I told all my troops to ignore the ban and to fire warning shots in situations when this would save lives.’

In his book, Streatfeild also launches a sensational attack on former service chief General Sir Mike Jackson, who he accuses of waiting until his ‘splendidly rewarded retirement’ before calling on the MoD to improve soldiers’ welfare.

Lance Corporal Michael David Pritchard 22, of the 4th Regiment, Royal Military Police, who was killed as a result of small arms fire in Afghanistan

Lance Corporal Michael David Pritchard 22, of the 4th Regiment, Royal Military Police, who was killed as a result of small arms fire in Afghanistan

Sir Mike, 69, Head of the Army from 2003 to 2006, was popular among troops and a formidable leader. But Streatfeild said last night: ‘Let’s look at the record of Sir Mike.

‘He waited for his pension then burst into print. He had the rank and position to do more before then.’

Following his retirement in 2006, Sir Mike wrote a memoir in which he accused the MoD of failing to value the contributions of soldiers and their families.

He described the wages paid to soldiers at the time – just over £1,000 a month while they were serving on operations – as ‘hardly an impressive figure’ while he added that the standard of some accommodation for troops was ‘frankly shaming’.

In Honourable Warriors, Streatfeild describes the moment in 2007 when Sir Mike’s book arrived at the MoD’s public relations department, where Streatfeild was then working.
Streatfeild writes: ‘The newshound [press officer] in the MoD put it well on getting a copy of Mike Jackson’s book: “One hundred thousand reasons why I didn’t resign.”

‘Many a true word said in jest. The reality is that they [Sir Mike and other senior officers] needed to stand up for the right thing when they had the chance, not bleat in splendidly rewarded retirement.’

Streatfeild, who left the Army in 2012, added: ‘I spoke my mind while commanding troops in Afghanistan and never kept my powder dry.

‘After the death of Lance Corporal Michael Pritchard, who was shot by a British sniper following a communication breakdown, I wrote a memo accusing the Army of criminal negligence over the lack of radios.’

Last night, an MoD spokesman said: ‘Our troops have shown extraordinary courage protecting the lives of civilians.’

I ONLY LEARNED OF MY DEAD SON’S INJURIES FROM OFFICER’S BOOK

A grieving mum has expressed her fury after reading in Richard Streatfeild’s book that her teenage son lost his legs in a Taliban bomb blast – despite his assurances that the book would not contain any shocks for her.

Insead, says Caroline Aldridge, 46, she was devastated to read about her son Rifleman Peter Aldridge’s injuries.

 

Mrs Aldridge had been told her 19-year-old son had remained ‘intact’ when he died in January 2010 – an assurance by Army counsellors  which gave her comfort.

Now she feels betrayed by Major Streatfeild, who has also been attacked over ‘misleading’ comments about the Government’s failure to provide life-saving equipment to troops.

She said: ‘I never read my son’s  post-mortem report and his injuries were not described at his inquest.

‘Every document we’ve received from the Army has been edited for sensitivity reasons. Major Streatfeild assured me I’d only read what I’d been told before.

‘To see that Peter’s legs were blown off was horrific.

‘I haven’t stopped crying since. “Intact” meant so much to me. Now I must start the grieving process again.’

The book also shocked Lisa Inns, whose son Rifleman Martin Kinggett, 19, was shot dead after heroically saving a colleague’s life in a brutal Taliban battle in February 2010.

She said: ‘Streatfeild made misleading comments about kit on the radio.

‘Reading his book has brought back painful memories. I’m looking into the detail and wondering what’s true. It is very distressing.’

Last night Major Streatfeild said:  ‘I inferred that Peter Aldridge lost  his legs in the blast. I have spoken to Mr Aldridge, his father, and he has accepted my explanation and apology.’

‘Furgie’ lost his legs and an eye, but radio nearly cost his life

In this exclusive extract from Major Streatfeild’s memoir, Honourable Warriors, he describes how morale in the Upper Sangin Valley was high, despite a crippling lack of equipment, until a horrific turning point . . .   

In the early hours of January 13, 2010, Corporal Ricky Furgusson stepped on an improvised explosive device. 

Corporal Ricky Furgusson, 24, from Telford, who serves with the 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 Rifles), is seen at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire

Corporal Ricky Furgusson, 24, from Telford, who serves with the 4th Battalion The Rifles (4 Rifles), is seen at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire

Both his legs were missing; five of ten digits from his hands were gone or partly gone, as was a good deal of the flesh from his wrists.

Where the force of the IED had picked him up and smashed his head against a wall, his left eye was a gaping hole; his lips and most of the left side of his face were badly mangled.

Sergeant ‘H’ Henry charged down the road on his quad to pick him up. He was still alive, by a thread.

The prospects for his continued survival were appalling. I began to wonder if death might not be more merciful.

In the aftermath, I finally shouted as loudly as I could about the acute deficiency of radios.

The lack of radios had almost caused a critical delay in getting Furgie treatment.

By luck, a rifleman on a personal radio had been able to relay to a guard post that was able to relay to the ops room what was going on. 

It was mid-February by the time I was home on leave and could see Furgie again.

He had taken days to become medically stable, then flew back to Birmingham in a medically induced coma from which he had been woken some time in late January.

We got to Birmingham after 1pm; no time for lunch just straight in. Bad idea. I glanced over at Ricky lying on the bed.

‘Holy s***,’ I thought, as I turned away to take off my jacket and compose myself.

‘Alright, Corporal F?’ I said.

‘Al’iit iir’. Ricky was speaking through a tracheotomy halfway up his neck. The hole where his mouth might have been was on his right cheek. 

Among Streatfeild's revelations into the problems facing the army was that they lacked proper equipment for the field of battle, a claim that the MoD rejects

Among Streatfeild’s revelations into the problems facing the army was that they lacked proper equipment for the field of battle, a claim that the MoD rejects

Damage: Cricket ball sized hailstones also punched holes in Hercules transporter planes like the one pictured

Damage: Cricket ball sized hailstones also punched holes in Hercules transporter planes like the one pictured

‘And the doctors had planted a large graft on his left cheek for use in later cosmetic surgery. His right eye, glazed, and looking frankly pretty manic, stared out following the conversation.

‘The other empty socket was covered in gauze. The bed lay flat where his legs should have been. He proffered his available semi-digitised hand to shake, which I carefully held.

Hypersensitivity kicked in. I was in trouble. I made it downstairs into the fresh air.

‘Bugger me.’ I thought it might be different. I lit a fag. Another bad idea. I began to walk back inside. Light-headed from the cigarette, I went down in a dead faint.

I was soon back in the land of the living, feeling rather embarrassed. Still, better to have come than not. 

Eleven months later, Ricky climbed aboard his full prosthetic legs for the first time to have his Military Cross pinned to his chest by the Queen.

It was, and still is, a remarkable story of survival and recovery. 

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