Showing posts with label AFGHANISTAN. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AFGHANISTAN. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 8

MASSONERIA E CIARLATANI. DURO ATTACCO A ROMA


Roberto Galullo scrive: "Excusatio non petita, accusatio manifesta" dicevano i latini che poi, tradotto terra terra, in italiano suona cosi: "se non hai nulla di cui scusarti, non scusarti". Nel caso di specie, mi sembra che questa traduzione vesta meglio che non il proverbiale “chi si scusa si accusa”. Qual è il caso di specie? Presto detto.

Ieri il Gran maestro della Gran loggia d’Italia degli Antichi liberi accettati muratori (in acronimo: ALAM) Antonio Binni ha sentito l’esigenza – in vero non avvertita perché si era già espresso a botta calda il 1° marzo dopo il sequestro degli elenchi dei fratelli siciliani e calabresi da parte della GdF, su ordine della Commissione Parlamentare Antimafia.

«Ci sono momenti per manifestare la propria correttezza e la propria lealtà verso lo Stato – ha infatti detto ieri con un lunghissimo comunicato stampa – e momenti per riflettere ed esprimere le valutazioni necessarie per tutelare i propri diritti. La Gran loggia d’Italia degli ALAM ha ottemperato gli obblighi che le derivano dall’ordine di consegna degli elenchi dei propri iscritti calabri e siciliani emesso dalla Commissione antimafia con grande correttezza, nel rispetto delle Leggi dello Stato che la massoneria pone fra i suoi valori fondanti e fondativi».

Ora – sia ben chiaro – nemmeno sotto tortura Binni spiegherà il vero motivo che lo ha mosso ad emettere un nuovo comunicato stampa che nulla aggiunge alla logica e al buon senso. La correttezza e il rispetto delle leggi – richiamate nella penultima riga – sono scontate. Cos'altro avrebbero potuto fare? Essere scorretti e irrispettosi?

Ecco allora che, proseguendo con la lettura del comunicato, si capisce (almeno questo intuiscono le mie limitate capacità intellettive) che c’era bisogno di spiegare bene (all’interno e tra le obbedienze massoniche di rango e peso) le ragioni di quello «spirito collaborativo» con la Commissione, che non andava scambiato per accondiscendenza. «Rispettare l’ordine non significa condividerlo» ha detto infatti ieri Antonio Binni e questo suona tanto come un messaggio a chi, innanzitutto tra gli 8 mila fratelli della sua obbedienza massonica, si aspettava ferrea determinazione. Accontentati.

C’è però un’altra e distinta parte del comunicato della Gran loggia d’Italia che apre uno scorcio interessantissimo e condivisibile. E’ la parte in cui, dopo aver ovviamente difeso i diritti di associazione e riservatezza dei suoi associati, invita la Commissione antimafia a «rivolgere lo sguardo altrove», vale a dire sui «gruppuscoli sedicenti massonici definiti nel tempo dalla stessa magistratura come massoneria deviata».

Qui – a modesto avviso di questo umile e umido blog – il tema è centratissimo, anche se di «sedicente» a volta non c’è nulla anche perché nella galassia massonica ciascuno rivendica primazia e supremazia.

So infatti per certo – me lo dice la logica, me lo insegna l’esperienza e me lo suggeriscono le indagini attuali e passate della magistratura – che è in quel pulviscolo massonico deviato e fuori dai parametri, che si annida il potere marcio di questo Paese. La storia della P2 ha insegnato a chi vuole delinquere con maggiore raffinatezza anche questo: oltre a provare o riuscire ad infiltrare le obbedienze massoniche, come fu proprio il caso Propaganda 2 con il Grande oriente d’Italia, è ancor più redditizio costruire ex novo (o sulle rovine) centri di potere massonici deviati.

Di più – al momento – non posso scrivere ma in Sicilia il quadro (con le cosiddette “logge selvagge” di cui ho scritto nel passato) che sta emergendo è devastante, come del resto in Calabria. Cosa diversa è dunque il potere esercitato come pressione politica lobbistica e come esercizio di mutuo soccorso  – checché ne dicano le obbedienze massoniche che anzi le negano ad ogni piè sospinto – dalle stesse obbedienze massoniche. 

Se non si infrange la legge, nulla questio. Cosa ancora diversa, infine, sono quei fili sottilissimi – che anche in questo caso sembrano emergere da diverse indagini delle DDA – tra singoli fratelli iscritti alle principali obbedienze massoniche e logge segrete di ben altra natura.

Non so invece (e di conseguenza), quali e quanti nomi (in tutte le obbedienze massoniche sottoposte a sequestro, sia chiaro) la Commissione antimafia troverà di interesse in quello che è lo scopo dichiarato, vale a dire il «rischio di infiltrazione da parte di Cosa Nostra e della ‘ndrangheta di settori della massoneria», a seguito dei preoccupanti elementi emersi «nel corso di missioni in Calabria e Sicilia, di documentazione acquisita ed audizioni finora svolte» (cito testualmente il comunicato stampa della Commissione antimafia).

E se li troveranno anche solo parzialmente (e ne dubito per 1001 motivi come ho già scritto nel passato), che usano possano farne, con una legislatura traballante che non ha tempo per inseguire i grembiulini. Anzi! Esattamente il contrario. Visto mai che dalle parti di Arezzo e Firenze si adirino! 

Tra l’altro – a modesto avviso di questo umile e umido blog – alla luce della probabile scarsa aderenza tra ciò che si cerca e ciò che forse si troverà, molto interessante sarebbe invece vedere quanti e quali dipendenti pubblici e servitori dello Stato sono iscritti alle logge e non lo hanno mai denunciato ai superiori (contrariamente a quanto previsto per legge, checché ne dicano anche in questo caso le Obbedienze stesse e ribadito anche dalla Commissione antimafia).

Di questo secondo filone, però, non c’è traccia alcuna negli impegni proclamati il 1° marzo dalla Commissione antimafia, mentre erano in corso i sequestri degli elenchi. Ma se di quegli elenchi sequestrati (solo di due regioni, e anche questo è a dir poco grottesco), obbligatoriamente per legge, non si può rivelare nulla all’esterno (dunque restano segretati nei cassetti della Commissione antimafia), quale scopo potranno mai soddisfare?

Domande legittime di una situazione che si sta fantozzianamente aggrovigliando e che, ribadisco anche questo, vedrà prima o poi le obbedienze (come avvenuto nel caso della documentazione sequestrata dal pm Agostino Cordova negli anni Novanta) risarcite con le scuse.

Ora non credo, come scrive Binni, che «la richiesta indiscriminata degli elenchi dei nostri iscritti è il segno evidente della vaghezza degli “elementi” di cui dispone la Commissione». Credo, invece, purtroppo, che sia il frutto di una “mescolanza” indotta da un filo della matassa perso nonostante fosse lì a disposizione, sotto gli occhi dei commissari.

Proprio le missioni a Trapani e a Reggio Calabria in primis, e a seguire le audizioni di magistrati delle regioni Sicilia e Calabria, avrebbero dovuto far capire che, alla luce della premessa dalla quale la Commissione si è mossa (condivisibile o meno), la mossa sulla scacchiera era una e una sola: la Commissione doveva sequestrare tutti gli elenchi e di tutte le Obbedienze non solo senza annunciarlo (che più o meno è come dire al sorcio che sta per arrivare il gatto affamato) ma tenendolo doverosamente segreto. 

Poi avrebbe potuto cercare all’interno degli elenchi stessi e d’intesa con la DNAA e le DNA quelle tracce che, al di là della responsabilità penale che è sempre personale, rivelano eventuali aspetti giuridici e penali di diversa e più profonda natura. 

Questa unica e obbligata mossa avrebbe permesso di tener fede alla premessa della Commissione, vale a dire ricercare quelle «relazioni e convergenze tra uomini delle cosche ed esponenti delle classi dirigenti e imprenditoriali appartenenti a logge massoniche finalizzati al perseguimento di comuni interessi illeciti» (cito ancora testualmente il comunicato stampa dell’organismo presieduto da Rosy Bindi).

Insomma se tra i massoni ci sono crepe, la Commissione Parlamentare Antimafia rischia di vorticare intorno ad un profondo buco nell’acqua.

Sunday, October 11

"GENOCIDE OR DEMOCRACY"ARE FAKES' N.A.T.O. PRETEST

Organizers and participants in the “Creating a Workable World” conference (held this weekend at the University of Minnesota) are undoubtedly sincere. No one wants to live in an unworkable world. 

The sponsoring World Federalist Movement has historically exercised a strong attraction on progressives, appealing to their generous sentiments and wish for world peace, as Coleen Rowley and Diana Johnstone, describe.

“Human rights” organizations have become purveyors of bloody chaos as they advocate Western big-power military attacks on weak countries in the name of “responsibility to protect” – one of several purportedly well- intentioned strategies gone awry such a grand, overarching ideal as world federalism or global democracy must be evaluated in light of current circumstances and its track record.

At the end of World War II, it was widely believed that nationalism was the main cause of the horrors that had just devastated much of the world. It was easy to imagine that abolishing nation states would be a step toward ending wars by removing their cause. 

This sentiment was particularly strong in Western Europe, forming the ideological foundation of the movement that led to European integration, now embodied in the European Union. In that same period, there was a historic movement going in the opposite direction: the national liberation movements in various colonized countries of the Third World

The political drive for national liberation from European powers —Britain, France, the Netherlands— contributed to establishing national sovereignty as the foundation of world peace, by outlawing aggression

Newly liberated Third World countries felt protected by the principle of national sovereignty, seeing it as essential to independence and even to survival. But today, 70 years after the end of World War II, experience has provided lessons in the practice of these two contrary ideals: supranational governance and national sovereignty

Not surprisingly, the official voices of the hegemonic world power and its allies tend to cite internal conflicts, especially in weaker Third World countries, as proof that national sovereignty must be violated in order to defend “human rights” and bring democracy. The danger from “genocide” has even become an official U.S.-NATO pretext for advocating and launching military intervention. With disastrous results

It’s therefore not surprising that Workable World’s keynote speaker, W. Andy Knight, was a supporter of the infamous regime-change war that virtually destroyed Libya, under the guise, paradoxically, of the U.S. and NATO’sresponsibility to protect.” 

That is not just a side issue: It signals the dirty business of wars and regime-change intrigues currently underway behind the scholarly façade of “global governance”. We fear that opposing arguments in favor of national sovereignty will probably not be discussed much during this conference. 

And yet, the European Union has served as an experimental laboratory testing what happens when a large and growing number (now 28) of sovereign states turns over a major part of their rights to supranational governance. Unified institutionally, the weaker members find themselves dominated by the powerful

Despite decades of speeches proclaiming that “we are all Europeans,” when it comes to the crunch, people revert radically to their national identity. Germans resent Greeks for being debtors; Greeks resent Germans for keeping them in debt

All the more so in that there is no way out. Elections are increasingly meaningless within the member states, because major economic decisions are taken essentially in Brussels, by the E.U. institutionsThis is causing increasing disillusionment and de-politicization in Europe

Europeans take virtually no interest in the European Parliament. They do not feel represented by it, and indeed they are not. Democracy works best in small circumscriptions: Greek city states, Iceland, villages. 

The bigger it gets, the less “democratic” it can be. Half a century ago, the functioning ideal was to bring eternal peace to Europe through unity. Today, that institutional unity is creating new divisions and hostility

To put it simply, experience is in the process of killing the ideal and showing why “worldwide parliamentary democracy” may bring more harm than good, at least in the real world as it exists today and will for some time to come.

Tuesday, October 7

TARGET N.° 01 IN SYRIA E IRAQ

Il primo "target", sui cui sono puntati -da giorni- i missili a guida infrarossa americani (tra i tanti in "commander list"), sono contro un francese esperto di esplosivi. O per meglio dire: "un francese del DGSE" (Servizi segreti militari francesi). Un agente che ha tradito, ed é passato con i sunniti jihaddisti, non con al-Qaeda. L'uomo é sopravvissuto alla prima serie di bombardamenti aerei/droni statunitensi (47 missili Cruise in un giorno).

Se si pensa che il francese è il primo della lista di eliminazione, Muhsin al-Fadhli il secondo e Abū Bakr al-Baghdādī il terzo, da qui si può valutare perché in un solo mattino siano stati lanciati su di lui 47 missili "Cruise" dagli aerei americani.

Secondo fonti russe, si tratterebbe del transfuga di più alto livello che abbia mai deciso di unirsi ai jihaddisti sunniti del gruppo dell'IS, e rappresenta una conseguenza "esplosiva" per il suo notevole "know-How".  L'identità dell'agente francese resta top-secret. Certo é che due gole profonde, ognuna indipendente dall'altra, hanno fornito l'ìdentico nome.

I ribelli siriani (filo-americani legati a CIA e John McCain) che combattono contro il presidente Bashar al-Assad, riferirono che poco prima dei bombardamenti aerei, la CIA li aveva avvertiti che stavano tenendo sotto controllo gli spostamenti dell' agente segreto. Gli stessi ribelli espressero forti perplessità sul modo di agire della CIA. Affermandogli, di non comprendere perché proprio l'Agenzia americana, così vicina al loro movimento rivoluzionario, non gli abbia dato mandato di sequestrare quell'uomo. Anche perché era stato localizzato in un'area sotto il loro controllo.

Solo giorni dopo, le stesse fonti russe, spiegarono che la decisione del presidente Obama di voler tenere segreta l'esistenza di questo personaggio, presumibilmente, poteva essere suscitata anche dal fatto che il francese fosse a conoscenza di quanto "realmente accaduto", all'alba del primo maggio del 2011 in Afghanistan

Motivo per cui, é indispensabile che certi "uomini" necessitano sotterrarli -profondamente- sotto un grande cumulo di macerie fumanti".

Tuesday, September 4

AFGHANISTAN: perdono fiducia, si ammutinano.

Dice Newsweek, che questa settimana lo intervista, che Ryan Crocker è "la superstar della diplomazia americana" e il più esperto e apprezzato nel suo campo. A luglio Crocker ha lasciato l'incarico di ambasciatore in Afghanistan e poco dopo, il 14 agosto, è stato arrestato a Washington per guida in stato di ebbrezza perché ha causato un incidente leggero, è scappato e quando è stato preso dalla polizia in un parcheggio aveva nel sangue un tasso alcolico doppio rispetto al limite.

Che la testa più ammirata dell'Amministrazione americana in Afghanistan incorra in questo tipo di esaurimento personale da fine carriera è di malaugurio per la guerra. Sabato è arrivato un segno concreto di crisi: il comandante delle forze speciali americane, il generale Tony Thomas, ha interrotto l'addestramento di mille nuove reclute afghane perché è diventato troppo rischioso.

I soldati locali sparano senza preavviso agli istruttori occidentali e poi scappano tra le braccia dei talebani, che li celebrano come eroi e li fanno protagonisti di video su Internet. Nel codice militare si chiama "green on blue" (il verde sono gli alleati, il blu indica i propri uomini) e quest'anno ci sono già stati 45 morti, senza contare i ferimenti su cui non arrivano dati ufficiali dall'esercito.

Gli scontri a fuoco tra militari che convivono nelle stesse basi e che in teoria sono chiamati a combattere assieme sono la causa del 15 per cento delle perdite nei primi otto mesi di quest'anno per il contingente Isaf. Quando succede, l'ufficio stampa scrive dichiarazioni che tradiscono tutta la perplessità del co- mando davanti alla nuova situazione: "Oggi un uomo con indosso la divisa dell'esercito afghano ha sparato contro... ".

La frequenza dei green on blue minaccia la fase più delicata dell'intera strategia del ritiro che dovrà compiersi entro il 2014: senza addestramento, non ci saranno forze locali capaci di ereditare la battaglia contro i talebani. Il comando delle forze speciali adesso sostiene che l'interruzione durerà soltanto un mese, ma non c'è una data precisa.

Prima, squadre di istruttori erano mandate nei villaggi, anche remoti, per lavorare con le reclute della polizia e con gli anziani locali e insegnare loro a difendersi dagli attacchi e dalle intimidazioni dei guerriglieri. Questo tipo di cooperazione è considerato essenziale per far sentire l'influenza del governo afghano in tutto il paese. E ora? Thomas ha ordinato di riaprire i file personali degli ultimi 27 mila arruolati, anche se il problema nel caso degli afghani seguiti dalle forze speciali non è il "vetting" - il processo di scrutinio sulle aspiranti reclute - perché gli istruttori pretendono che sia fatto in modo rigoroso, ma quello che succede dopo. I soldati locali cedono alle avance della guerriglia, perdono fiducia nel governo centrale, si ammutinano.

Secondo il Washington Post, con le altre reclute - quelle non affidate alle cure delle forze speciali, ma affiancate agli altri corpi - va ancora peggio: il vetting è stato fatto per finta o non è stato proprio fatto. Colpa dell'ansia di avere subito grandi numeri di truppe afghane, dicono alcune fonti anonime della Nato al giornale americano, perché è importante poter dire che l'esercito di Kabul è quasi pronto ad assumersi la responsabilità sul paese e che quindi i contingenti occidentali possono andarsene senza problemi entro il 2014 e anche prima.

Un Ryan Crocker di ritrovata sobrietà fa notare su Newsweek: "E' necessario considerare quali saranno le conseguenze di un nostro ritiro troppo rapido. Perché sono sempre i nostri nemici quelli che approfittano dell'anarchia" - e però minimizza la questione dei green on blue - "dobbiamo mantenere la prospettiva, ogni giorno ci sono decine di migliaia di interazioni tra americani e afghani senza che succeda nulla".

L'esercito americano sta mandando il doppio dei soldati rispetto al passato a training linguistici intensivi per apprendere il dari e il pashto, i due linguaggi più parlati in Afghanistan, nella speranza che capiscano più in fretta i segnali di pericolo prima di un ammutinamento. Un po' per levigare le differenze culturali e un po' perché, come ammette candidamente uno di loro intervistato alla radio: "Non si aspetteranno che io capisca quello che dicono".

Se il programma di addestramento subisce un infarto non definitivo, a Kabul il presidente Hamid Karzai esce ancora una volta da un'impasse politica con manovre al limite dell'impudenza totale. Costretto a rimuovere Bismillah Mohammadi dal ministero dell'Interno ad agosto per la pressione del Parlamento, lo ha ieri nominato ministro della Difesa, sollevando grida di oltraggio nella capitale.

Ma Mohammadi è un signore della guerra tagico la cui alleanza è vitale nella lotta contro i talebani. Nel rimpasto di Kabul, oltre a quattro ministri, è stato sacrificato anche il capo dei servizi segreti, che ha dimostrato un'efficienza straordinaria contro i talebani - ma non nei corridoi di Palazzo. Una perdita grave.

Monday, June 25

Afghanistan: Future Energy Corridor?

Afghanistan remains largely dependent upon the international system for energy supplies. In 2008, for example, Afghanistan imported 120 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity and has imported 4,800 barrels of oil per day (bpd) since 2010. If Kabul is going to bring stability and a better standard of living, then increased energy production will prove critical to President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to win ‘hearts and minds’.

Afghanistan’s post-Soviet Central Asian neighbors - in particular Turkmenistan - are looking at Afghanistan as a prime energy transit corridor for natural gas. The crown jewel of the proposed projects is the $7.6 billion, 1,040 mile-long Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India natural gas pipeline (TAPI). The idea of a pipeline was first floated before the Taliban captured Kabul. In 1995, Turkmenistan and Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding regarding the TAPI project. With an annual carrying capacity of 33 billion cubic meters of Turkmen natural gas, the pipeline was projected to run from Turkmenistan’s Dauletabad gas field across Afghanistan and Pakistan and terminate at the northwestern Indian town of Fazilka.

In 2011 Afghanistan’s security situation seemed to be sufficiently stable enough to revive TAPI under the auspices of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). As a result, Afghanistan’s Minister of Mines and Industries Wahidullah Shahrani declared that, “This huge project is very important for Afghanistan. Five thousand to seven thousand security forces will be deployed to safeguard the pipeline route.”

But how does Afghanistan stand to benefit from the TAPI? Projections suggest the country would receive nearly $400 million in annual transit fees as well as 14 million standard cubic meters per day of natural gas.Yet TAPI is not Afghanistan’s only energy transit corridor option. On 7 June, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated that Iran is ready to deliver oil to China with the construction of pipelines through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ambitious as these projects are, the important question remains as to whether Afghanistan is sufficiently stable to support them.

When it comes to supplying electricity to Afghanistan, Uzbekistan’s Uzbekenergo has quickly emerged as a major player. By 2010 the company was transmitting about 150 megawatts of power to Afghanistan. Uzbek media is now reporting that Uzbekistan provides an uninterrupted supply of 1.2 billion kWh of electricity a year to Afghanistan, with Kabul receiving electricity 24 hours a day. The electricity costs Afghanistan roughly $9 million per month at an average rate of 6 cents per kilowatt hour, on a sliding scale ranging from industrial rates of 10 Afghanis (20 cents) per kWh for industrial consumers, to residential fees for those consuming less than 300 kWh of 1.5 Afghanis (about 3 cents) per kWh. In neighboring Pakistan, rates for electricity are roughly 7.5 cents per kWh.

Farther east, Tajikistan is also considering starting exporting electricity to Afghanistan. However, one of the country’s major stumbling blocks – corruption - is impacting upon proposed energy export deals. In February 2012 Tajik journalists uncovered a document regarding the country’s electricity distribution. The report, signed by Prime Minister Akil Akilov, noted that the country received only half the domestic electricity supply compared to the same period in the previous year. The Prime Minister also outlined that about 5.5 billion kWh -- roughly one-third of the country’s electrical output -- was simply "lost."

Such discrepancies are likely to continue in the short term, even though on 17 May Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a memo on the CASA-1000 project. This project aims to export surplus Tajik and Kyrgyz hydroelectric power to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The World Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the US Agency for International Development are supporting CASA-1000. Russia also intends to finance almost half of the project, the total cost of which is estimated at nearly $1 billion.

Beginning in 2009, the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the Afghan Geological Survey and the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations began a two-year effort to identify Afghan mineral resources. In December 2011 the results of the surveys were released, covering 24 areas of prime mineral development for Afghanistan.

The study updated a 2006 energy survey conducted by the USGS with assistance from the Afghan Geological Survey and the US Trade and Development Agency, which resulted in the first-ever assessment of undiscovered Afghan oil and natural gas resources. The survey estimated that the country contained potentially exploitable reserves of 1.596 billion barrels of oil and 36.462 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. All of the known crude oil and natural gas reserves are situated in the north of the country - at the Amu Darya Basin to the northwest and the Afghan-Tajik Basin to the northeast.

The two basins cover roughly 200,000 square miles for those portions that lie within Afghanistan and USGS geologists concluded that the two geological basins hold 18 times the oil and triple the natural gas resources previously thought. The news clearly elated Karzai, who said that the estimates were “very positive findings.” He added that “knowing more about our country's petroleum resources will enable us to take steps to develop our energy potential, which is crucial for our country's growth.”

But while the United States has effectively led the projects that discovered these reserves, for the time being China is showing the most interest in investing in them. Last year Afghanistan approved China National Petroleum Corporation’s (CNPC) bid to drill for oil and natural gas in Sari Pul and Faryab provinces, the first energy concession granted to a foreign firm. Karzai and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed a deal allowing China to pursue mineral resources, energy development and agricultural opportunities. Government media quoted Hu as saying that China planned to "provide sincere and selfless help to the country." CNPC worked out a deal to begin pumping 5,000 barrels of oil a day from newly discovered Afghan reserves later this year.

And the CNPC has big plans: On 15 June Karzai met with CNPC Chairman Jiang Ziemin to discuss a feasibility study for the proposed Turkmenistan-China gas pipeline through Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Karzai subsequently directed the Afghan Mining Ministry to prepare a comprehensive framework agreement for Sino-Afghan cooperation.

Accordingly, China’s interest in Afghanistan’s natural resources reflects Beijing’s commitment to diversifying its sources of energy in order to reduce its dependency on the Middle East. Because of the perceived vulnerability of supply lines via the Indian Ocean and the Straits of Malacca, Central Asia’s land-based pipelines have now assumed increased importance.

Once again however, security issues are impacting the proposed project, as militia loyal to the ex-warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum have been disrupting CNPC’s oil exploration activities. Dostum now holds the largely ceremonial office of chief of army staff. Two Afghan government officials said that supporters of Dostum were demanding a share of the proceeds and a top aide to Karzai said, “Armed men belonging to General Dostum are intimidating the Chinese engineers in the area and creating obstacles to exploring the oil block.” As China has no military forces in Afghanistan, their security falls by necessity to ISAF and Afghan National Army (ANA) forces.

In an interview with the Global Times, Jeffrey Reeve of Griffith University noted that of the Afghan Geographical Survey's 22 identified priority minerals, “the majority are in areas outside of ISAF and Afghan control”. Dostum’s recent actions are an ominous indicator of potential future security issues surrounding them.

Afghanistan’s future prosperity seems increasingly to rest upon the US concept of military security balanced against China’s ‘soft’ economic power. That Washington has long-range (primarily military) strategic interests in Afghanistan post-2014 was underlined by the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed by Presidents Obama and Karzai on 1 May. In contrast, on 8 June -- following talks between Presidents Hu and Karzai -- China announced that it will provide a 150 million yuan ($23.8 million) grant to the Afghan government this year within the framework of the Joint Declaration between China and Afghanistan on Establishing Strategic and Cooperative Partnership.

China’s strategy for maintaining its own territorial integrity is to establish control on both sides of its borders -- in the case of Afghanistan, with ‘soft’ fiscal power in the form of investment. Accordingly, it is unclear at this point whether Washington’s or Beijing’s model for future Afghan development will prevail. But as the above survey of developments shows, peace is essential for any of these grandiose projects to succeed. Pipeline construction and oil and natural gas exploration depends upon a stable Afghanistan and all interested potential stakeholders being involved in the projects’ successes. This is no small task in a country as deeply tribal as Afghanistan.

That said, any solution must necessarily be primarily political and not military. Whether Kabul and the ANA will be up to the task remains uncertain. Given the track record of the Karzai administration and its lack of success in battling corruption, success seems problematic at best despite the obvious benefits of pipelines and energy production to the Afghan government.

Saturday, June 9

U.S. Effort Stokes Friction in Afghan War

U.S. tensions with Afghanistan and Pakistan over American action against militants flared on Thursday as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta assailed Islamabad for its lack of cooperation and the Afghan president denounced an airstrike that United Nations officials said killed civilians.

Mr. Panetta, on a brief visit to the Afghan capital, said the U.S. was "reaching the limits of our patience" with Pakistan for not doing enough to crack down on the Haqqani network, the Taliban-affiliated group based in Pakistan that has been blamed for staging attacks on American targets in Afghanistan.

"It is extremely important that Pakistan take steps to prevent…terrorists from using their country as a safety net in order to conduct attacks on our forces," Mr. Panetta said during a news conference with Afghanistan's defense minister, Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak.

Pakistan's government has said it doesn't have the resources for a full offensive against the Haqqanis. Islamabad has also been critical of the U.S.'s use of drones to target terrorists on Pakistani soil, which Islamabad says violate sovereignty and endanger civilians.

After the U.S. reported that a drone strike in Pakistan this week killed al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, Abu Yahya al-Libi, Mr. Panetta has been defending the drone campaign and warning of further attacks.

In a talk with members of the U.S. military ahead of the meeting with Afghanistan's Mr. Wardak, Mr. Panettas said the U.S. would defend itself against the Haqqani network and "take the battle to them."
Mr. Panetta has declined to say explicitly that the U.S. would step up drone attacks against the network in Pakistan.

Also Thursday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai criticized the U.S.-led coalition for an airstrike that United Nations and Afghan officials said killed 18 people, most of them women and children, early Wednesday in Logar province south of Kabul.

Coalition "operations that inflict human and material losses to civilians can in no way be justifiable, acceptable and tolerable," Mr. Karzai said in a statement from China. Mr. Karzai cut short a visit to a regional summit there so he could return home to deal with the fallout from the airstrike, according to the statement.

Mr. Karzai has repeatedly criticized airstrikes that kill civilians. On Thursday, Afghan officials blamed U.S. forces for ordering the Logar airstrike, which targeted a suspected meeting of Taliban commanders.
The coalition says it sent investigators to Logar to investigate reports of civilian deaths and is taking the allegations seriously. Mr. Panetta made no public mention of the incident during his Kabul visit.

Afghan and U.S. officials said the joint Afghan-U.S. forces team encountered small-arms fire as it approached the house. The joint force called on civilians to come out, but Taliban fighters warned the Afghans that they would be shot by the Americans if they did, according to a Western official investigating the incident.

0607afpanetta01

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta spoke Wednesday at the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi before flying on to Kabul Thursday.
Three American and two Afghan soldiers were wounded before the U.S. force ordered the airstrike, according to Afghan officials.

A U.N. official said the airstrike killed at least 16 civilians—two men, five women, and nine children, including a 10-month-old.

It remained unclear if the other two men reported killed in the strike were militants, the official said.
Wednesday marked the most deadly day yet of 2012 for civilians in Afghanistan, the U.N. said. Along with the deaths in Logar, more than 22 others were killed by a pair of suicide bombers in Kandahar province.
Western officials took note that Mr. Karzai's Thursday statement condemning the U.S.-led coalition remained silent on the Kandahar attack by insurgents.

The U.N. mission in Afghanistan condemned both attacks in the same statement on Thursday, and called on the U.S.-led coalition and Taliban fighters to protect Afghan civilians.

Mr. Panetta said the latest spike in violence hadn't led the U.S. to consider altering its plans to withdraw 23,000 surge forces over the summer. He said U.S. Marine Gen. John Allen, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, told him he has the forces to deal with the violence as he winds down the surge.

Mr. Wardak, the Afghan defense minister, called on U.S. troop levels to be dependent on the level of violence in the country, and said the current plan could be adjusted if needed.

"I would like to reiterate what you have said, that there is enough flexibility…to review the security situation periodically and not to become detached from the realities of the ground," Mr. Wardak said.

Thursday, June 7

NATO will leave Afghanistan with ‘wounds’.

Afghan officials have once again accused NATO of a deadly strike resulting in civilian casualties. Ahmed Quraishi, from the PakNationalists Forum, says that in last decade Afghanistan has lost more civilians than the US on 9/11. On Wednesday, a deadly NATO strike reportedly killed 18 people, some of them women and children. RT spoke to Ahmed Quraishi, the president of the PakNationalists Forum, who says the US military and NATO are inciting chaos in the region. RT:It's only a week since a UN report said the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan by NATO is too high – and now another deadly air strike.

What impact is this going to have? Ahmed Quraishi: I would not take into account the denial of NATO. The Afghan government does not have a reason to lie, and of course they have the reputation to protect their own people, they are answerable to their people.

So I would go with what the Afghan government is saying, and they are saying that civilians have been killed today. Without exaggeration it would be safe to say that the vast majority of the Afghan people have really rebelled against the foreign occupation of their country… In everything you hear frankly winning the hearts and minds is a really ancient history. The Americans have absolutely lost it as far as Afghan peoples' hearts and minds are concerned.

RT:The mission was to protect the wider Afghan population, wasn’t it? In another event, 22 civilians were killed in twin terrorist bombings earlier in the day as well – this protection of the Afghan people is not going too well, is it?
AQ: The Afghan people have lost more of their civilians Afghanistan in the first decade of the 21st century people than the US lost on 9/11. It was a tragic event on 9/11, but this is no lesser tragedy. And we don’t see any justice in this – that the Afghan people could lose this many and of course NATO and the US military in Afghanistan are very quick to condemn the Taliban for their bombings in various cities when civilians are killed. But how is the US military and NATO any different? They kill as many civilians there. Any future government in Afghanistan, after the Americans are out, in order to reclaim credibility, they will have to initiate some reconciliation process where they would have to move some legal cases, maybe go as far as the UN or the International Court of Justice and ask for compensation for what happened. Afghanistan will be left with wounds that would take decades to heal. Thousands and thousands of civilians have been killed. Who will look after the orphans, who will look after the psychological and the other social problems resulting from these endless deaths of civilians. And there is no accountability whatsoever on the US military and the NATO.

RT:Let`s talk about Pakistan a little bit. Pakistan's formally complained about the U.S. drone strikes there on Tuesday, saying the alliance acts "against international law." Sounds markedly similar to what Western leaders accuse Syria's president of doing. Are there some double standards here?
AQ: No one has undermined the international system in the 21st century more than NATO and the United States, and this is very dangerous. If we go back a hundred years ago, the early years of the 20th century, the very reason the world went on to extreme armament and weaponization and of course endless wars is because of the mistakes committed by Western powers. And we are very concerned to see these very same Western powers messing up and planting chaos in our region, and we will pay the price for what these people are doing here. The major powers in this region – Russia, China, Pakistan and others – should really step in and try to contain some of the mess the Western powers are leaving behind.

Panetta admits that US is at war in Pakistan

Hold the phone, anti-war activists. President Obama says that American troops are done with Operation Iraqi Freedom and their episode in Afghanistan is almost over. Now, though, it looks like the US is calling its operation in Pakistan an actual war. ­Only one day after American officials announced that US troops executed an alleged al-Qaeda higher-up with a drone strike in Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters on Wednesday that America’s fair-weather ally is indeed serving as a battlefront in the War on Terror.

 “We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” Secretary Panetta said this week. Panetta was referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a region in northwest Pakistan that is currently the scene of American airstrikes. Since well before the top-secret raid and execution of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden brought US troops into Pakistan, the American military has tried time and time again to sugarcoat its activities overseas. Despite being an at-one-time top ally of the United States, Pakistani officials have continuously condemned the US over Uncle Sam’s continuing air strikes with unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

Now after years of trying to re-develop those deteriorating ties with Pakistan, the United States’ top military man flatly called his country’s operations in FATA an actual war. To put it simply, this might not be good news for anyone. While Panetta’s comment came only a day after the Pentagon confirmed that al-Qaeda’s “number-two in command,” Abu Yahya al-Libi, was executed with a drone strike in the FATA region, it also coincides — coincidently — with a statement made by another former CIA official. Robert Greiner, the one-time head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, tells reporters this week that America’s mishandling of drone attacks is creating a safe haven for terrorists.

In a report published this week by the UK’s Guardian, Greiner says that ongoing attacks that target a broad and often unspecific range of targets is causing anti-American sentiments to increase faster than the US can actually combat terror. After the US has increased its air strikes in locales such as Pakistan and Yemen, says Greiner, insurgency has only become more rampant. Because the Obama administration has gone on the record to say that all military-age men in strike zone are considered combatants, Greiner believes that unrest with the US is adding up at a rate that repeated strikes won’t help.

 "We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield. We are already there with regards to Pakistan and Afghanistan," says Greiner. "That brings you to a place where young men, who are typically armed, are in the same area and may hold these militants in a certain form of high regard. If you strike them indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount of popular anger. They have tribes and clans and large families. Now all of a sudden you have a big problem … I am very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”

Friday, June 1

La Nato lascia il Paese in mano alle milizie locali

Il 21 maggio scorso, i Paesi della Nato impegnati in Afghanistan uscirono dal vertice di Chicago con le idee apparentemente molto chiare: il trasferimento di responsabilità della sicurezza alle forze afgane in tutto il Paese sarà completato entro la fine del 2013, mentre le truppe internazionali rimarranno con "compiti di sostegno" fino al 31 dicembre del 2014.

Dopo quella data, assicurano comunque i Paesi dell'Alleanza, la comunità internazionale continuerà a sostenere il governo afgano contribuendo in maniera importante a pagare gli stipendi di soldati e poliziotti. La matematica e la realtà sul campo, però, sembrano smentire questo quadro idilliaco. Intanto le truppe Nato stanno passando le consegne alle forze di sicurezza di Kabul in zone dove neanche loro hanno il controllo completo del territorio. In oltre dieci anni di guerra, infatti, le centinaia di migliaia di soldati Nato non sono riusciti a piegare gli insorti, e già adesso talibani e altri gruppi di miliziani controllano ampie zone del Paese, specialmente fuori dalle poche grandi città.

Non a caso il presidente afgano Hamid Karzai è chiamato dai critici il "sindaco di Kabul". E difficile pensare che dove ha fallito la Nato possa riuscire l'esercito nazionale afgano (Ana), che finora ha brillato più che altro per corruzione, analfabetismo, consumo di droga, infiltrazioni e tassi record di diserzione. E anche una questione di numeri. Secondo i progetti Nato, entro la fine di quest'anno le forze di sicurezza di Kabul, tra esercito e polizia, dovrebbero raggiungere le 352mi1a unità, ma già a cominciare dal 2014 questo numero dovrebbe cominciare a calare, arrivando a 23omila nel 2017.

Il problema è finanziario. Mantenere 35omila soldati e poliziotti costa oltre 4 miliardi di dollari l'anno, pagati in gran parte dagli Usa e dagli altri donatori internazionali. Una cifra inarrivabile per il governo di Kabul, che attualmente contribuisce con appena 500 milioni di dollari l'anno e ha un bilancio annuale intorno a 1,5 miliardi in tutto. E le nazioni contribuenti hanno già i loro problemi economici interni.

Secondo i membri della Nato, quindi, 23omila poliziotti e militari non estremamente efficienti come quelli afgani — anche se supportati da qualche migliaio di soldati Nato che potrebbero rimanere nel Paese dopo il 2014 — dovranno tenere testa all'agguerrita resistenza afgana, oltre che alle ambizioni di potere dei diversi signori della guerra, galvanizzati dalla "fuga" delle truppe straniere.

Per avere un'idea di quanto è utopistico questo progetto, basti pensare che in Iraq, che ha più o meno la stessa popolazione dell'Afghanistan (circa 31 milioni di abitanti), le forze di sicurezza irachene raggiungono le 67omila unità. Senza contare che, dal punto di vista dell'insorgenza, la situazione afgana si presenza decisamente più complicata di quella irachena.

Anche per questo motivo i tentativi dei generali Nato di esportare in Afghanistan alcune tecniche sperimentate in Iraq si stanno rivelando un pericoloso boomerang. Come la creazione delle milizie locali in funzione anti-insorti, addestrate, equipaggiate e foraggiate dalle forze statunitensi e non inquadrate nelle forze di sicurezza governative. Una prassi portata avanti dal generale Petraus in Iraq, dove sembra aver avuto un discreto successo, pur alimentando le tensioni settarie.

La teoria è apparentemente semplice: invece di inviare gli uomini a combattere lontano da casa nei ranghi dell'esercito o della polizia di Kabul, armiamoli e stipendiamoli affinché difendano i propri villaggi dai talibani e dagli insorti. In Afghanistan, però, le squadre della Afghan Local Police (Alp), si stanno già distinguendo per diversi casi di gravi violazioni dei diritti umani. Estorsioni, saccheggi, pestaggi e persino omicidi sembrano essere il modus operandi di molti di questi gruppi.

"Sì, ci aiutano a cacciare i talibani. Ma, in un certo senso, li rimpiazzano", spiegava al Los Angeles Times Sami Sadaat, ex consulente politico al ministero dell'Interno afgano, sottolineando che, in alcune zone della provincia dell'-Helmand, la polizia locale "sta prendendo la legge nelle proprie mani, picchiando le persone ed estorcendole denaro". Già nel settembre del 2011 Human Rights Watch pubblicò un rapporto sul coinvolgimento di alcuni membri dell'Alp in gravi abusi, compreso lo stupro e l'omicidio.

A marzo di quest'anno lo stesso segretario generale dell'Onu, Ban Ki-moon, espresse delle riserve sulle violazioni dei diritti umani compiuti dalle forze di sicurezza afgane, in particolare i membri dell'Alp. Ciò nonostante, i vertici militari Usa e Nato sembrano intenzionati ad implementare le milizie della polizia locale afgana, che dovrebbero passare da 15mila a 3omila uomini, con la possibilità di crescere fino a 40 mila.

Saturday, March 31

AFGANISTAN: massacre investigation blocked by US

The defense lawyer for Robert Bales, who is accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians, is blaming the US for blocking his team’s fact-finding mission into the Kandahar incident. He says he can’t interview witnesses and prosecutors won’t cooperate.

­John Henry Browne claims US forces in Afghanistan obstructed him and his associates from reaching the injured civilians at a hospital in Kandahar province to interview them on the matter, Reuters reports. He added that other possible witnesses were allowed to get away, with little possibility of finding them now. According to Browne, after investigators interviewed those injured, they let them go freely without leaving any contact information, and they are not sharing data they obtained from the witnesses with his team. He says Bales' defense has only managed to talk to US soldiers in Afghanistan, but no witnesses.

Bales’ lawyer also regretted that investigators withheld images captured by a surveillance camera on a blimp above the base, which the Army says shows Bales returning after the alleged shooting.

Browne explains that the military prosecutors who filed the charges against Bales have been unwilling to cooperate, and that “they are concerned about the strength of their case.”

The lawyer complained of an “almost complete information blackout from the government, which is having a devastating effect on our ability to investigate the charges preferred against our client.”

For the time being Bales will have his psychological condition examined. Officials also say that due to security concerns, Bales is likely to remain at the Fort Leavenworth military base in Kansas, and will not be transferred to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center outside Washington, DC. The exam, officially called “board 706,” is routine for mass murder cases such as Bales’. Bales is charged with multiple counts of premeditated murder, a crime that could be punishable by death. The Kandahar shooting spree earlier this month sparked outrage among Afghan lawmakers, who demanded that Bales be tried in an Afghan court.

Wednesday, March 14

AFGHANISTAN: La guerra passa alla CIA

In un momento delicato, quando si erano appena assopite le tensioni per il rogo del Corano dello scorso febbraio, gli americani si trovano ad affrontare uno dei peggiori incidenti con la popolazione afghana dall'inizio dell'operazione Enduring Freedom. Il massacro dei civili compiuto nei due villaggi del distretto di Panjiwai nella provincia di Kandahar infatti non è dovuto a un danno collaterale per uno sgancio errato di un missile o di una bomba, ma a una strage mirata. Una strage portata a termine da un americano.

A prescindere dall'esito delle indagini avviate dai comandi statunitense e ISAF, l'eccidio di Kandahar è ovviamente destinato a lasciare una profonda impronta morale in un conflitto ormai al tramonto complicando non poco 1'exit strategy voluta da Obama e ponendo pesanti interrogativi su come gli americani la potranno gestire. Questo nell'ambito della cornice di un accordo strategico che Washington e Kabul starebbero per ratificare per consentire agli americani di lasciare nel paese fino al 2024 alcune migliaia di soldati per supporti logistici, forze speciali e un maggior numero di droni, le piattaforme operative che stanno un po' a simboleggiare la strategia di Obama per contrastare il terrorismo.

Il Pentagono si trova ora ad affrontare quali scelte fare nei prossimi mesi per accelerare il ritiro dall'Afghanistan previsto per il 2014 e garantire la necessaria sicurezza a Kabul e quindi deve ridisegnare la sua strategia "scaricando" buona parte dell'attività sul terreno alle forze speciali. Nell'ottica del Pentagono le special forces diventeranno non più un moltiplicatore di forze a supporto delle unità di fanteria ma il cardine centrale delle operazioni in Afghanistan con una maggiore "sintonia" con la CIA al fine di creare uno strumento militare estremamente flessibile e rapido nell'esecuzione di missioni a sostegno delle forze afghane la cui preparazione e affidabilità, tranne pochi esempi, è tutta da dimostrare.

La maggiore collaborazione con la Cia non sarà semplice perché molti responsabili del Pentagono non hanno dimenticato le frizioni avute in passato con l'agenzia, a cominciare dal lungo conflitto vietnamita per poi passare all'affaire Iran-Contras fino all'Afghanistan, anni di incomprensioni non sempre risolte. Ma è la particolarità di questa strage che getta una luce sinistra sulle intenzioni dei comandi militari americani che si trovano di fronte ad una realtà con cui non avevano fatto i conti e cioè l'odio che sembra avvitare i loro soldati in una spirale senza fine che sembrerebbe denotare una certa fragilità di fronte allo stress da combattimento e agli attentati, squilibri seri che potrebbero aver armato la mano omicida del sergente a Kandahar.

Il velo del silenzio sembra essersi ormai strappato facendo emergere allarmanti segnali di crisi presenti nel personale combattente, una sindrome psicotica dovuta alle pessime condizioni operative presenti in Afghanistan. Si tratta però di un fenomeno troppo spesso sottovalutato quello che spinge un soldato a volersi fare giustizia da solo operando fuori dalle regole come era già accaduto ai tempi del conflitto vietnamita (strage di My Lai nel marzo 1968) e che dal 2001 (Iraqi Freedom) ha visto la crescita esponenziale di militari affetti da disordini della personalità: in altre parole sia in Iraq che in Afghanistan il fenomeno non è stato un episodio isolato ma ricorrente.

Per gli esperti del Pentagono non è facile riuscire a tracciare dei profili psicologici per le truppe presenti nel teatro afghano eppure dei segnali preoccupanti erano già emersi nelle operazioni in Iraq; tra l'altro sembra anche evidente che il militare americano medio non venga mai preparato adeguatamente al contesto sociale e culturale del teatro operativo dove verrà inviato specie nei paesi islamici e questo crea una spirale di incomprensioni che spessissimo sfociano in odio con relative conseguenze. Ricordiamo che ?operazione Enduring Freedom iniziata nel 2001 ha già fatto registrare circa 1.880 caduti ed oltre 15mila feriti, caduti in un contesto operativo "liquido' e sfuggente fatto di agguati, imboscate e attentati senza una precisa linea del fronte, un contesto che può aggredire la mente dei più fragili.

Monday, March 12

US soldier opens fire on Afghan civilians killing 16



A US soldier has killed at least 16 civilians after opening fire on them near a US military base in Kandahar. There are nine children among the victims, Afghan authorities say.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai qualified the incident as an “assassination” and demanded an explanation from Washington, reports the Associated Press.

"This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven," Karzai said in a statement.

US defense secretary Leon Panetta has condemned the Afghanistan shooting and offered his condolences to President Karzai.

The White House has also issued a statement expressing its concern over the incident.

"We are deeply concerned by the initial reports of this incident and are monitoring the situation closely," said White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden.

An official from the Panjwai district of Kandahar told The New York Times that the US soldier broke into three houses near the military base, killing 11 in the first and four in the second. He wounded a further five.

According to one of the villagers the soldier acted alone and there was no fighting, adding that one of the houses raided belonged to a tribal elder.

The serviceman allegedly handed himself in to US authorities following the incident. The motive behind the attack remains unclear.

NATO forces spokesman Capt. Justin Brockhoff has confirmed that a US serviceman has been detained and is currently being held at a military base pending a joint US-Afghan investigation into the "deeply regrettable incident.”
The suspect has been identified as an Army staff sergeant from Fort Lewis, Washington, the Associated Press reports, citing US officials.

Brockhoff said those wounded in the incident were receiving treatment at a NATO medical facility.

Friction has been building between the allied forces and Afghan government after US soldiers burned copies of the Koran triggering uproar throughout the country last month.

The ensuing protests killed 30 people, including six American soldiers.

US President Obama made a formal apology to the people of Afghanistan for what NATO dubbed a “tragic blunder.”

NATO Secretary General Anders Gogh Rasmussen has extended his “heartfelt condolences” to the families of the victims and the Afghan people and government.

"I want to express my shock and sadness at the tragic shooting incident in Kandahar province, where it is reported that several people, including women and children, have been killed or wounded," he said in a statement on Sunday.

The US embassy in Kabul warns of anti-American reprisals. After Americans burnt Muslim holy books on a base in Afghanistan in February, some 30 people, including six US service members, died in violence that has only just begun to calm down.

NATO pulled out all of its advisors from Afghan government organizations after two US officers were shot dead by an Afghan colleague.

Violence between the two allied forces has been on the up recently with 18 per cent of the 60 NATO personnel deaths this year thought to be the work of Afghan compatriots.

Lindsey German from the Stop the War Coalition told RT the incident will certainly affect the US position in Afghanistan.

“The Americans will try to say well this is just an isolated incident but we have to remember there are 100,000 occupying troops there. There have been many demonstrations over the burning of the Koran and it is not just about offence of Islam it is also about the occupation itself,” she explained.

German also said that every night in Afghanistan up to 40 houses are looking for alleged terrorists.

U.S. Sergeant Is Said to Kill 16 Civilians in Afghanistan

PANJWAI, Afghanistan — Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan early on Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said.

Residents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks in which the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. At the first, the man gathered 11 bodies, including those of four girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said.
Coming after a period of deepening public outrage, spurred by the Koran burning by American personnel last month and an earlier video showing American Marines urinating on dead militants, the apparently unprovoked killings added to a feeling of siege here among Western personnel. Officials described a growing sense of concern over a cascading series of missteps and offenses that has cast doubt on the ability of NATO personnel to carry out their mission and has left troops and trainers increasingly vulnerable to violence by Afghans seeking revenge.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, calling it in a statement an “inhuman and intentional act” and demanding justice. Both President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called Mr. Karzai, expressing condolences and promising thorough investigations. “This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
American officials in Kabul were scrambling to understand what had happened, and appealed for calm, at a moment when the United States and Afghanistan are in tense negotiations on the terms of the long-term American presence in the country.
The officials gave no details about the suspected killer other than to describe him as an Army staff sergeant who was acting alone and who had surrendered himself for arrest. “The initial reporting that we have at this time indicates there was one shooter, and we have one man in custody,” said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a NATO spokesman.
A senior American military official said Sunday evening that the sergeant was attached to a unit based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Wash., and that he had been part of what is called a village stabilization operation in Afghanistan. In those operations, teams of Green Berets, supported by other soldiers, try to develop close ties with village elders, organize local police units and track down Taliban leaders. The official said the sergeant was not a Green Beret himself, and had been deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan at least once before his current tour of duty.
In Panjwai, a reporter for The New York Times who inspected bodies that had been taken to the nearby American military base counted 16 dead, and saw burns on some of the children’s legs and heads. “All the family members were killed, the dead put in a room, and blankets were put over the corpses and they were burned,” said Anar Gula, an elderly neighbor who rushed to the house after the soldier had left. “We put out the fire.”
The villagers also brought some of the burned blankets on motorbikes to display at the base, Camp Belambay, in Kandahar, and show that the bodies had been set alight. Soon, more than 300 people had gathered outside to protest.
At least five other Afghans were wounded in the attacks, officials said, some of them seriously, indicating the death toll could rise. NATO said several casualties were being treated at a military hospital.
One of the survivors from the attack, Abdul Hadi, 40, said he was at home when a soldier broke down the door.
“My father went out to find out what was happening, and he was killed,” he said. “I was trying to go out and find out about the shooting, but someone told me not to move, and I was covered by the women in my family in my room, so that is why I survived.”
Mr. Hadi said there was more than one soldier involved in the attack, and at least five other villagers described seeing a number of soldiers, and also a helicopter and flares at the scene. But that claim was unconfirmed — other Afghan residents described seeing only one gunman — and it was unclear whether extra troops had been sent out to the village after the attack to catch the suspect.
In a measure of the mounting levels of mistrust between Afghans and the coalition, however, many Afghans, including lawmakers and other officials, said they believed that the attack had been planned and were incredulous that one American soldier could have carried out such an attack without help. In his statement, Mr. Karzai said “American forces” had entered the houses in Panjwai, but at another point he said the killings were the act of an individual soldier.
Others called for calm. Abdul Hadi Arghandihwal, the minister of economy and the leader of Hezb-e-Islami, a major Afghan political party with Islamist leanings, said there would probably be new protests. But he said the killings should be seen as the act of an individual and not of the United States.
“It is not the decision of the Army officer to order somebody to do something like this,” he said. “Probably there are going to be many demonstrations, but it will not change the decisions of our government about our relationship with the United States.”
Elsewhere, news of the killings was spreading only slowly. Other than the protest at the base in Kandahar, there were no immediate signs of the fury that fueled rioting across the country after the burning of Korans by American military personnel in February.
Both the United States Embassy in Kabul, which immediately urged caution among Americans traveling or living in Afghanistan, and the military coalition rushed to head off any further outrage, deploring the attack, offering condolences for the families and promising the soldier would be brought to justice. Brig. Gen. Carsten Jacobson, the NATO spokesman, expressed his “deep sadness” and said that while the motive for the attack was not yet clear, it looked like an isolated episode.
“I am not linking this to the recent incidents over the recent days and weeks,” he said. “It looks very much like an individual act. We have to look into the background behind it.”
Adding to the sense of concern, the killings came two days after an episode in Kapisa Province, in eastern Afghanistan, in which NATO helicopters apparently hunting Taliban insurgents instead fired on civilians, killing four and wounding another three, Afghan officials said. About 1,200 demonstrators marched in protest in Kapisa on Saturday.
The quick American move on Sunday to detain the gunman could help to avoid a repeat of last month’s unrest. The reaction to the Koran-burning case revealed a huge cultural gap between the Americans, who saw it as an unfortunate mistake, and the Afghans, who viewed it as a crime and wanted to see those responsible tried as criminals.
Both the Afghans and Americans agreed on the severity of Sunday’s killings, and General Jacobson said the case would be aggressively pursued by American legal authorities.
It was less clear how the attack would affect the talks between Kabul and Washington, known as strategic partnership talks, which will define the American presence and role in the country after the drawdown of combat troops. The upheaval provoked by the Koran burnings led to a near-breakdown in those talks, but they appeared tentatively back on track after a deal struck on Friday for the Afghans to assume control of the main coalition prison in six months.
The strategic partnership talks must still address differences over the American campaign of night raids on Afghan houses. The attack on Sunday may complicate that issue, because it bore some similarities to the night raids carried out by coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The shootings also carried some echoes of an attack in March 2007 in eastern Afghanistan, when several Marines opened fire with automatic weapons, killing as many as 19 civilians after a suicide car bomb struck the Marines’ convoy, wounding one Marine.
Panjwai, a rural suburb of Kandahar, was traditionally a Taliban stronghold. It was a focus of the United States military offensive in 2010 and was the scene of heavy fighting. In recent weeks, two American soldiers were killed by small-arms fire on the same day, March 1, in the area, and three died in a roadside bomb attack in February.

Thursday, February 23

Families of slaughtered children to sue the CIA

President Barack Obama condoned America’s drone program last month, dismissing allegations that it's caused more harm than good. In Pakistan, the families of civilians killed in these strikes are pleading with the UN to tell America otherwise.

Reprieve, a legal action charity based out of London, UK, has delivered a complaint to the United Nations on behalf of the families of slain Pakistani civilians. More than a dozen families in Pakistan have appealed to Reprieve for assistance after their own pleas for the abandonment of drone use in their country have been ignored by the US. Now with the aid of the British-based organization, they hope that the UN will intervene and put an end to American drone attacks.

Drone strikes have taken the lives of as many as 775 civilians so far, the authors of a Bureau of Investigative Journalism warned in a report made last year. American officials insist, however, that the strikes are necessary to continue fighting the War on Terror.

Last month, the topic of drones was addressed to President Obama during a virtual town hall meeting that was broadcast live over the Internet on YouTube. Defending the program, Obama said that unmanned aircraft strikes were imperative if the US wanted to continue tackling insurgency without sending any more troops on the ground.

"For us to be able to get them in another way would involve probably a lot more intrusive military action than the ones we're already engaging in,” insisted Obama.

The president would also use the engagement to dispute claims that the death toll of the innocent was not substantial enough to stop the US from continuing its drone program. Drones had "not caused a huge number of civilian casualties,” said the president, who added that it’s "important for everybody to understand that this thing is kept on a very tight leash.”

Pakistanis, on the other hand, say that the regular air raids that have leveled their land and killed their families are too intrusive as it is, and disagree that Americans are controlling those craft to the best of their ability. In the statement sent to the UN by Reprieve this week, the group demands for intervention, saying that the strikes violate an established treaty that guarantees the protection of their rights.

What’s more, says Reprieve, is that the US penned and ratified that treaty themselves. It’s the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR), and Pakistanis say that the US has violated it by killing their loved ones.

Reprieve charges that under the ICCPR, civilians should be protected from these strikes that continue to take the lives of innocents. The group cites six provisions in particular that they say the US has violated with drone attacks, which includes items such as “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life,” “No one shall be subjected to torture” and “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.”

“If the US is not prepared to face up to the reality of the suffering the strikes are causing, then the UN must step in,” insists Shahzad Akbar to Reprieve. “The international community can no longer afford to ignore the human rights catastrophe which is taking place in North West Pakistan in the name of the ‘War on Terror’.”

“If President Obama really believes the drone strikes have ‘pinpoint’ accuracy, it has to be asked where the deaths of kids like Maezol Khan’s eight-year-old son fit into the CIA’s plan,” continues Akbar, who is a human rights lawyer for the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, which is also representing the families backed by Reprieve.

Khan’s son was indeed only eight when he was killed by a missile fragment while sleeping in Pakistan. The father of the deceased boy is among those appealing to Reprieve, along with the families of an eight-grade student rendered blind and deaf by a drone strike and the son of a man executed while attending a peaceful town hall meeting.

In all, 18 Pakistanis have signed their name to the complaint, which was this week sent to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council.

“There is no plausible legal basis for the attacks,” reads the complaint, “There is no declared war between the United States and Pakistan. Pakistan has not – and, indeed, could not – given legally effective ‘consent’ for the killing of its own innocent civilians by American drones. The US has taken no steps to claim self-defense, and the facts would anyway not fit such an argument.”

Reprieve adds that the drone casualties are not isolated, “but are a part of a consistent pattern of strikes by the United States.”

“Because innocent citizens of Pakistan continue to be killed in the illegal CIA drone war in Pakistan, it is respectfully suggested that this application be considered with the utmost urgency,” adds the group.

The UN has not publically responded to Reprieve’s complaint yet. In recent weeks, however, the United States has acknowledged that, under its new Department of Defense budget, the US is looking to spend $23 billion over the next few years on expanding its drone program.

Separately, Reprieve also represented 15 prisoners held at the US military prison at Guantanamo Bay. If you had any doubt, there are indeed a few provisions in the ICCPR that only begin to touch on violations there.

Thursday, February 16

Iran says it will "strike back" if attacked

RIA Novosti is reporting that the diplomat stated that "the United States would be making a mistake if it attacked. "If they hit us from any location we will strike back from any location,” Sajjadi said. Western powers suspect that Iran's enriched uranium program is seeking to create a nuclear bomb,while Tehran says it only wants to produce its own energy.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Wednesday "major advances in the country's nuclear program." Ahmadinejad presided over the loading of Iran’s first domestically-made nuclear fuel rods into a research reactor in a ceremony broadcast on television. The United States reacted by downplaying Iran's claims of advances in its nuclear program, VOA reported.

Tehran is feeling the pressure of international sanctions and wants to distract from its growing diplomatic isolation said a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, describing the announcement as "hype": "We frankly don't see a lot new here. This is not big news. It seems to have been hyped. The Iranians have, for many months, been putting out calendars of accomplishments, and based on their own calendars, they are many, many months behind. This strikes us as calibrated mostly for a domestic audience."

Friday, February 10

Mossad hit-squads behind Iran scientists.

Israel’s Mossad trained and financed a terrorist group that carried out a series of Hollywood-style assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, unnamed US officials have revealed. Iran, however, believes the CIA was also sponsoring the killings.

­Two senior US officials confirmed to NBC that People’s Mujahideen of Iran dissident group (MEK) was to blame for the killing of Iranian scientists. “All your inclinations are correct,” said one of the officials in an interview, while speaking about MEK’s involvement in the assassinations and Israel’s support for the group.

At the same time the officials have denied US involvement with the group. After the latest attack on January 11, 2012, Iran’s Foreign Ministry claimed that it has evidence that the CIA provided “guidance, support and planning” for the operation.

The MEK is included in the official US Foreign Terrorist Organization list, which makes it prohibited for US intelligence units to co-operate with and gives them a solid pretext to disclaim any relation to it.

Since 2007 the assassination spree has left five top Iranian nuclear scientists dead and delivered a massive blow to the Iranian nuclear program. A suspicious blast at the Iranian missile R&D site that killed the director of missile development for the Revolutionary Guard also seems to be a part of the pattern, even though Iranian officials have declared it to be an accident.

After one of the attacks in 2010 was prevented and the Iranian government had a chance to interrogate the assassin, Iran has no doubts that the MEK, which is financed and trained by Israel, is behind the terror campaign against Iranian nuclear program.

“The relationship [between Israel and the MEK] is very intricate and close,” Mohammad Javad Larijani, a senior aide to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, said in an interview with NBC.

Mossad is secretly training MEK agents in Israel, preparing them to carry out sophisticated operations, Larijani said. For one of the previous attacks Mossad had even replicated the house of a nuclear scientist to prepare MEK assassins, Larijani added.

In January’s attack, the assailants used a small motorcycle to squeeze through the traffic and place a magnetic bomb on the vehicle of a deputy director of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. A shaped charge killed only Mostafa Ahamdi Roshan and his driver, leaving no doubts that secret services were involved in the operation.

While the MEK is still listed in the US official terrorist group list, the group has managed to lobby for its removal from the terrorist lists of the UK and EU. And a number of former US high-rank officials, including former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former FBI Director Louis Freeh, support idea of the MEK’s removal from the US terrorist list.

Tuesday, February 7

Afghanistan: Moving Toward a Distant Endgame

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta suggested last week that the United States could wrap up combat operations in Afghanistan by the end of 2013, well before the longstanding 2014 deadline when full control is to be ceded to Kabul. Troops would remain in Afghanistan until 2014, as agreed upon at the 2010 Lisbon Summit, and would be engaged in two roles until at least 2014 and perhaps even later. One role would be continuing the training of Afghan security forces. The other would involve special operations troops carrying out capture or kill operations against high-value targets.

Along with this announcement, the White House gave The New York Times some details on negotiations that have been under way with the Taliban. According to the Times, Mullah Mohammad Omar, the senior-most leader of the Afghan Taliban, last summer made overtures to the White House offering negotiations. An intermediary claiming to speak for Mullah Omar delivered the proposal, an unsigned document purportedly from Mullah Omar that could not be established as authentic. The letter demanded the release of some Taliban prisoners before any talks. In spite of the ambiguities, which included a recent public denial by the Taliban that the offer came from Mullah Omar, U.S. officials, obviously acting on other intelligence, regarded the proposal as both authentic and representative of the views of the Taliban leadership and, in all likelihood, those of Mullah Omar, too.

The idea of negotiating with the Taliban is not new. Talks, as distinct from negotiations, in which specific terms are hammered out, have gone on for some time now. Several previous attempts have ended in failure, including one instance when the supposed representative proved to be a fraud. However, according to the Times report, the negotiations took on a degree of specificity last summer. They began in November 2010, initiated by a man named Tayyab Agha, who claimed to speak for Mullah Omar. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama regards authenticating the present offer as unimportant and the intermediary as having authority; the question on the table is the release of Taliban captives as a token of American seriousness.

The Taliban see themselves as already having made a major concession. Their original demand was the complete withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan as a precondition for negotiations. The talks have continued in spite of the U.S. refusal to comply. The Taliban shifted their position to a very specific timetable for withdrawal, something Panetta may have been hinting at last week, though not on a timetable to the Taliban's liking. Two more years of combat operations -- not to mention an unspecified time in which U.S. special operations forces will continue working in Afghanistan -- is a long time. In addition, the United States has not delivered on the release of the Taliban, an issue that has not emerged as a campaign issue in the U.S. presidential election.

Still, U.S. operations have become less aggressive. This is in part due to the season: It is winter in Afghanistan, a time of year when large-scale operations are not practical in many areas. At the same time, we are not seeing the level of operations we have seen in previous winters after Obama increased the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. This in part reflects a realization of the limits of U.S. military power in Afghanistan. Regardless of the motive, the Taliban interpret it as a signal -- and it is understood in Washington as a signal, too.
The Pakistani-Taliban Channel

To get negotiations going, the United States had to reach two conclusions. The first was that negotiations could not happen without Pakistani involvement. U.S. accusations that current and former military figures in Pakistan maintained close ties with the Taliban undoubtedly were true. Conversely, this meant Pakistan represented a clear channel the United States could use to reach the Taliban. That channel permitted the Obama administration to conclude that it had no hope of meaningfully dividing the Taliban.

Certainly, the Taliban are an operationally diffuse group. Even so, Mullah Omar is at their center, with the political operatives surrounding him representing the political office of the Taliban. The line of communications with the Taliban runs through Pakistan and terminates with Mullah Omar. This means that U.S. hopes of splitting the Taliban politically and conducting factional negotiations are not realistic. Particularly after a series of attacks and suicide bombings in Kabul last fall, it also became apparent that the United States would not be able to manage negotiations at arm's length using Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his advisers as the primary channel.

The Pakistanis and the Taliban also had to face certain realities. The Taliban had claimed that the United States and its allies in Afghanistan had lost. This underpinned their demand for an immediate U.S. withdrawal; their offer to permit this without harassment was made under the assumption that the United States had a defeated military force at risk.

The reality was that, while the United States had not won the war in Afghanistan and in all likelihood could not defeat the Taliban militarily, it was far from defeated. The United States remained, and remains, able to conduct operations in Afghanistan as and where it wishes. The Taliban have not reached the point where they can operationally defeat the forces arrayed against them. Where large Western forces exist, the Taliban must decline combat and disengage or be annihilated. As important, there is no overwhelming pressure from the American public to withdraw -- something not true of some U.S. allies. However, in this election, Obama is likely to be challenged by candidates supporting his position in Afghanistan or wanting a more aggressive stance. Mitt Romney, for example, not only rejected the idea of releasing Taliban fighters, but also said in response to a question that his strategy in Afghanistan was to "beat them."

The United States could hypothetically remain in Afghanistan indefinitely given the current cost and force structure. But we would argue that defeating a guerrilla force with sanctuary and support across the border in Pakistan, an excellent intelligence capability and units able to operate independently is unlikely. But neither, for that matter, can the Taliban defeat the coalition forces.
Stalemate in Afghanistan

This makes for a stalemate, one the Americans hope to solve by creating an Afghan state under Karzai and a security and military force able and willing to engage the Taliban. As I have argued in the past, the core problem with this plan is the same problem that existed during the Vietnamization phase of the Vietnam War. The Afghan military must recruit troops, and some of the most eager volunteers will be Taliban operatives. These operatives will be indistinguishable from anti-Taliban soldiers, and their presence will have two consequences. First, the intelligence they will provide the Taliban will cause the Afghan army offensive to fail. Second, shrewd use of these operatives will undermine the cohesion and morale of the Afghan forces. Surprise is crucial in locating, engaging and destroying a guerrilla force. Afghan security forces will face the same problem the South Vietnamese army did; namely, they will lack the element of surprise and at least some of their units will be unreliable.

Accordingly, the U.S. strategy of using the stalemate to construct a capable military force accordingly looks unlikely to succeed even leaving aside the issue of the fragmentation of the Afghan nation and the Karzai government's internal problems. The Taliban are intimately familiar with the U.S. dilemma and are positioned to choose from two strategies. One is to increase their tempo of operations and so increase American casualties prior to the November elections. But this strategy would see Taliban casualties increase even more dramatically, and its impact on the elections would be unclear to say the least. The Taliban are more likely to pursue the second strategy, which involves accepting the stalemate and permitting the United States to try to build an Afghan military.

Like the Taliban, the United States is aware of the difficulty of building an Afghan army. It also understands that deploying troops in Afghanistan is unlikely to lead anywhere. It does not have to flee defeat in Afghanistan, but there are strategic reasons for leaving, beginning with the fact that the military situation is about as satisfactory as it likely ever will be. Improving the situation would incur costs without yielding anything like victory. With the United States reducing its military budget, serious issues emerging in Iran and throughout the Arab World, and a new emphasis by the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force on the Pacific, the world is moving on. A violent yet frozen conflict in Afghanistan simply does not benefit the United States.

This, of course, leaves a crucial question: Will Afghanistan become a base for al Qaeda or follow-on transnational jihadist groups in the event of a U.S. withdrawal? It is true that these groups can form anywhere, but the fact is that they did form in Afghanistan while Mullah Omar was in charge. The negotiators undoubtedly have promised that, in exchange for withdrawal, they will take responsibility for suppressing jihadist elements. But trusting the Taliban, or trusting those in Pakistan who took violent offense at the killing of Osama bin Laden, poses obvious risks for the United States. In truth, it does not increase the risk much: Afghanistan is not necessary for the jihadists, but it is naturally fragmented and the threat of its re-emergence as a sanctuary is always there. Even so, the issue will remain a sticking point in the negotiations. The United States will want a residual force to deal with the jihadist threat, something the Taliban and Pakistan will oppose.
The Pakistani Role

In this sense, the negotiations really come down to Pakistan and the burden it is willing to undertake in the event of a U.S. withdrawal.

The United States does not trust the Taliban or many of those Pakistani officials speaking to and for the Taliban. But the United States also knows two things. First, that the future of Afghanistan is of fundamental interest to Pakistan. Instability or Indian or Iranian influence in Pakistan is not in Pakistan's interest. Therefore, the Pakistanis will play a leading role in Afghanistan as they did after the end of the Soviet occupation. Second, the United States knows that India remains Pakistan's major adversary. The Pakistanis have tried to play the China card to make the United States nervous about Pakistan. But the fact is that the Chinese People's Liberation Army does not have the training and logistics to support Pakistan against India, and the last thing Pakistan wants is a large Chinese military deployment in Pakistan. Indeed, that is the last thing China wants.

The issue over time will boil down to this: The United States will want a coalition government in which Taliban elements take Cabinet positions in the current structure of the Karzai regime. The Taliban will want an entirely new government in which elements of the existing power structure (Karzai has promised not to seek a third term when his current one ends in 2014) might have a position but that would be an altogether new regime. In either case, the Taliban assume, as the North Vietnamese assumed a generation ago, that a political settlement followed by a U.S. withdrawal would, after a "decent interval," result in a Taliban-dominated regime.

Ultimately, the United States could remain in Afghanistan indefinitely and there is nothing the Taliban could do about it. But the United States cannot defeat the Taliban. The Taliban have nowhere to go and no desire to leave. The United States has other issues to attend to and no overriding strategic interest in Afghanistan. From the American point of view, its presence in Afghanistan does not reduce Islamist threats to the homeland but it does absorb military resources.

What the United States is engaged in now, as it was in 1971, is the complex process of crafting a political path from the current situation to the inevitable end. This isn't easy, since the manner in which the United States withdraws will influence its position in the region as much as its indefinite presence would. This is why the administration is so eager to pursue the current initiative and prepared to release prisoners as a gesture. It is also why the Taliban will accept a coalition government for a while, and why Pakistan will make and likely honor guarantees.

However this war is brought to an end will be a complex and time-consuming process, during which the fighting will continue. But then the how is never trivial in ending a war.