June 3, 2011 – This week Afghan President Hamid Karzai once again demanded that NATO attempt to reduce the amount of civilian and non-combatant casualties and victims that are caused by foreign operations in the country. It seems as if the call from Afghanis to NATO to please stop killing civilians is made every week and every week there are more non-combatants dead. This week Karzai made the specific demand that NATO cease all air attacks on homes.
“This should be the last attack on people’s houses. Such attacks will no longer be allowed,” Karzai demanded following a weekend airstrike in Helmand Province that Afghani officials said killed 14 civilians, 11 of them children.
About a year ago Karzai demanded that NATO cease all night raids in local villages – NATO agreed and then three days later killed twelve civilians in a night raid on a local village. This time Karzai has asked NATO to stop all air attacks – drones and manned – on Afghani homes. The only change in NATO’s response to the latest request to show some respect for civilians’ lives is that they politely declined.
In Brussels, the Associated Press reported that Oana Lungescu, a NATO spokeswoman said that the airstrikes would continue as NATO needed.
Clearly, it’s not the Afghani people who have created the impression of disrespect and irrelevance for Hamid Karzai – it is the reality of how the entire country and its civilians are regarded and used by NATO. With the latest round of Afghani civilian deaths and NATO’s reaction to it, it seems that military arrogance has reached such a point in the world today that entities like NATO are killing the very people for whom protecting is the justification used for engaging in foreign lands with an expense account budget from home.
-Perhaps as part of the fallout from not consulting with Pakistani intelligence before launching the Bin Laden assassination in Pakistan, the United States has learned that three of its intelligence “fusion” cells in Pakistan have been shut down by government authorities. The three US intelligence cells, one in Quetta and two in Peshawar, were set-up by the United States as intelligence-gathering cells for American operatives and Special Forces. However, according to a 2009 cable, they had never been granted official permission by the Pakistani military to engage in ground maneuvers with the Pakistani military – only to share in training and intelligence.
Pakistani tolerance for unilateral military decisions and actions taken in the region is finished. Not just as a result of incidents such as the shooting of two men by CIA operative Raymond Davis, who was then airlifted out of the country before having to face charges – but also as a result of what Pakistanis see happening to Afghani civilians who are at the mercy of NATO’s self-perceived impunity.
After the Davis incident, Pakistan expelled twelve US diplomats in response. Now, after the US attack on Bin Laden without Pakistani consent, permission or acknowledgment, Pakistanis look at these intelligence “fusion” cells, supposed to be for sharing intelligence information and have to ask “What are they there for?”. The closure of these “fusion” cells has effectively stopped the US training at these facilities; however, Pakistani intelligence will allow US experts to go over some of the documents and materials found at the Bin Laden compound.
-Maybe one of the reasons that Pakistan and other countries throughout the world are no longer willing to trust the United States with free hand in their lands anymore is because of how the United States shares information with its own people and handles its own resources. When President Obama deployed 30 000 additional troops to Afghanistan last year he announced that withdrawal would begin in July 2011.
CBS news first reported about a year ago, “It’s become increasingly clear that the July 2011 deadline is more about politics than policy”. As we’ve suggested all along here at Weekly Update the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will be co-ordinated to win Obama back support from the US peace vote – just in time for his re-election campaign. This will be done in much the same way that adding troops in Afghanistan was done in time to win Obama support from the military establishment in Washington.
-House Democrats met with Obama at the White House on Thursday to discuss Afghanistan options and to lobby for an end to the war. Jim McGovern, from Massachusetts, was part of a recent Bill amendment designed to end the war in Afghanistan. The Bill only lost by twelve votes but will be re-introduced and passed this summer when Obama needs it.
“We need to get out of Afghanistan,” McGovern told the President yesterday morning, “we’re broke and the American people want an end to it”. Apparently, the President was sympathetic but gave no assurances. “I told (the President) that if it’s just a token drawdown, I think people will be pretty outraged by that. The American people want an end to this war,” explained McGovern.
-Despite last week’s commitment from Gen. David Petraeus to maintaining a military strategy in Afghanistan at basically any cost, it is clear that such a strategy has already failed. The acknowledgement of this failure and the removal of military personnel in Afghanistan is what the majority of American people are waiting for. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that recommendations on the widely expected withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan will come in the next few weeks and move rapidly after that.
-The problem with peace efforts in Afghanistan that everyone knows about but no one feels they can say out loud is the same problem as peace efforts in Iraq and with countless others: Those for whom profit and livelihood depend on war simply increase the amount of random attack chaos the closer the country gets to peaceful resolution.
This can come in all forms – in Iraq this was done by countless mercenaries with no allegiances (except to their own bank accounts) simply attacking any and all sides of the population in attempts to cut off communication between the different communities within the society. In Afghanistan the problem is the same. Even with Obama’s surge of official troops last year, there are still more mercenaries (104,000) in Afghanistan then soldiers (100,000) and they hold the country hostage while they use it as their setting in which to play war games. The ability of the mercenaries to de-stabilize the host society is measured by the amount of money the American government can then divert from public funds in the name of “re-stabilizing” the host society. Basically both sides receive their funding from the same source – the American military establishment; however both sides will also suck up anything they can get from the taxpayers through the public treasury as well.
As both American and Afghani sources last week confirmed that German and Qatari-led efforts to peaceful negotiations between the US and Taliban had led to already three successful meetings between the two sides over the last several months, it is no surprise that the mercenaries were once again in action this week to surge an increase in civilian and non-combatant violence.
On Thursday afternoon unknown insurgents attack and killed 27 members of the Pakistani military and on Wednesday, a group of 300-400 unknown insurgents stormed a Pakistani border-checkpoint. Considering that this came a week after Pakistan shut down US intelligence cells in Pakistan and Taliban-US peace talks were confirmed, there would be absolutely no reason for any Afghani, Taliban or otherwise, to attack any segment of Pakistan or its military. So who would be responsible for the attacks? I would say those who have the most to lose from a peaceful settlement in the region and those who have the least regard for civilian and non-combatant life – namely the same mercenaries whose strategy of applying random chaos to overcome all human efforts to live peacefully is the only operational mandate of what they have done to Latin America and the Middle East over the last fifty years.
Canada’s Role in Afghanistan – June 3, 2011
-The whole kit and caboodle of Canadian Government bigwigs was in Afghanistan this week for their requisite flak-jacket photo opportunities. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter McKay were lodged in the Horn of Panjwa’i. They spoke of hope to members of the Van-Doos, the Royal 22nd Regiment stationed in Southern Afghanistan – although whether they hoped for an extension of military funding or a chance for the soldiers to return to their families at home was unclear.
-Meanwhile, Opposition Defence Critic Jack Harris re-iterated calls for the Canadian government to release all the documents pertaining to the Afghani-Detainee Issue which have already been vetted by a judicial panel now that the Canadian election is over.
“What has changed since the election?” Harris asked. “We’re now supposed to wait for a House and maybe wait for another committee and maybe something else? This is all just part of the same process to hide the facts from the Canadian public”.
The New Democrats are therefore calling for a public inquiry to find out if members of the Canadian Forces consciously handed over detainees to abuse and torture from Afghani security forces.
The NDP said the Conservative government has the ability to release the information immediately.
-If anyone is wondering why we, as Canadians deserve a full public inquiry into what we are responsible for in Afghanistan, it is because of testimony that has made it through the stalling tactics and censors – such as from former army translator Ahmad Malgarai that Canadian intelligence officers in Afghanistan deliberately sent prisoners to be interrogated under torture by that country’s secret police:
“There was no one in the Canadian military with a uniform who was involved in any way – at any level – with the detainee transfers that did not know what was going on and what (Afghanistan National Security) does to their detainees.”
“I saw Canadian military intelligence sending detainees to the (Afghanistan National Security).”
-Thomas Walkom summed it up most succinctly in his analysis from one of his columns over a year ago:
“It would have made more political sense for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to blame the previous Liberal government that set up the transfer system, announce he had fixed everything and made all of the relevant memos public. But if these memos show that the reason for Canada’s cozy relationship with the Afghan secret police was to circumvent this country’s laws against torture, then a good many senior officials — and senior politicians — could face serious criminal charges.”
Maybe Thomas Walkom, Ahmad Malgarai and the NDP know something that we don’t and it’s about time we found out what, for the good of the country.
-It’s time to shift the debate about Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan from “Is this strategy working?” to “Can we still afford this?” Domestically, the Canada Health Act will expire in 2014 and the Conservatives are showing that they intend on privatizing Canadian health care. By maintaining a 7million dollar per day expenditure in Afghanistan the Conservatives can then claim a low budget barrel is the reason behind privatizing and cutting back on Canada’s healthcare service. If we, as Canadians, do not want to see our social services cut in 2014 then we have to call for a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan today.
The Weekly Update into the Afghanistan Situation and Canada’s Role in Afghanistan have returned and are published every Friday at www.jeeroburkhan.wordpress.com You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org