A report from The Washington Post, which highlights the increasing number of Afghan children who are being killed by unexploded ordnance on abandoned NATO/ISAF firing ranges. The report says that ‘of the casualties recorded by the United Nations, 88 percent were children’, with ‘most of the victims . . . taking their animals to graze, collecting firewood or searching for scrap metal’. A bare minimum of 77 people have been killed in this fashion since 2012, but the number is likely higher.
Scandal in Europe over NATO Officers Wearing Nazi Symbols in Afghanistan (November 2009)
The head of Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service has blamed the US-led NATO forces for the surge in Afghanistan's drug production. On Wednesday, Russia’s drugs tsar accused the US and its NATO allies of helping a surge in Afghanistan's heroin production. Viktor Ivanov from the Russian Drug Control Service says NATO forces are directly responsible for a boost in narcotic cultivations in Afghanistan. He also noted that US-led troops have in fact helped create a catastrophic surge, while refusing to check on farmers there.
Alfred W. McCoy: Can Anyone Pacify the World's Number One Narco-State?
The United Nations says the number of children killed and injured in the US-led war on Afghanistan increased by 34 percent in 2013. The UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) said in its annual report released on Saturday that 2,959 civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year — including 561 children and 235 women. UNAMA added that more than 5,600 others, including 1,195 children and 511 women, were also wounded in 2013. “
It is the awful reality that most women and children were killed and injured in their daily lives — at home, on their way to school, working in the fields or traveling to a social event,” said Georgette Gagnon, director of human rights for the UN mission.
The Karzai government has repeatedly taken the US military to task for killing large numbers of civilians in the occupation, but they may just be the tip of the iceberg, as Afghan officials say a case is being made suggesting the US has also engaged in “insurgent-style” attacks which were blamed on the Taliban. The officials didn’t discuss the evidence in much detail, but the belief is that many of the attacks were timed to undermine the Karzai government, or in some cases to immediately follow up civilian deaths with a story to distract attention. There is a fairly substantial list of “suspected” incidents, and incredibly enough it even includes the recent attack on a Kabul restaurant in the diplomatic district, though officials conceded there was no concrete evidence of that one yet, and its inclusion is based on timing.
The following are psychological operations (PSYOP) leaflets dropped over Afghanistan and Iraq during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. The leaflets are taken from a booklet released commercially by Giovanni Carmine and Christoph Büchel in 2006. The leaflets are written in Arabic, Dari and Pashto. Accurate translations are welcome.
Peter Hart: Erasing Obama's Record on the Afghan War
At least nine people have been killed in a US assassination drone attack in eastern Afghanistan, Press TV reports. ● Local sources said on Saturday that the airstrike hit an area in the province of Nuristan. The victims were members of the Taliban militant group, the sources said. The Taliban, however, have made no comments on the fatal incident so far. On January 14, a similar US airstrike in Parwan Province killed seven children and one woman. Many people have lost their lives in US-led airstrikes and operations in various parts of Afghanistan since the invasion of the country in 2001, with Afghans becoming increasingly outraged at the deadly assaults. The United States claims the airstrikes target militants, but local sources say civilians have been the main victims.
Rick Rozoff/John Robles ■ In a review of NATO and US military activity for the year 2013, Voice of Russia regular Rick Rozoff stated that 2013 saw a slowing of, if not the beginning of a reversal of a 22 year US/NATO/Western drive to assert global dominance economically, politically, culturally and militarily. Among the most important events of the last year, if not the last 20, was the stopping of the invasion of Syria by Russia. According to Mr. Rozoff as US/NATO “slinks away with its tail between its legs” from Afghanistan, the only accomplishment they can claim after 13 years of occupation is that opium cultivation has increased by 40 fold. The military monolith of NATO is having a bad time of late and no matter what they say, the fact of the matter is, they have failed. This is part one of a much longer year end interview with Mr. Rozoff. [IM]
16 Others to Remain Pending Further Review ● Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has confirmed that 72 of the 88 detainees the Obama Administration is trying to keep in Bagram are now entirely cleared for release, with 45 of them totally cleared of any wrongdoing and 27 others lacking sufficient evidence to hold them. The other 16 aren’t facing trial either, with officials saying there’s not enough to prosecute, but they have enough evidence that they will continue to be held pending further review. That 88 were initially slated for release by the Afghan Review Board, which sparked US complaints that the board was never meant to have the power to release anybody, but was only meant to decide between prosecution and indefinite detention.
The Guardian: Afghanistan orders release of 72 Bagram jail prisoners
US troops in Afghanistan have shot and killed a young child in Helmand province, leading to a fresh rebuke from President Karzai just as America is trying to persuade him to allow Western forces to stay in the country after the end of this year. As the stand-off over a long-term security pact continues, The Times has learnt that the boy, aged about 4, was killed in an incident involving US Marines in Nad-e Ali district on Tuesday.
An appeals court in the United States has approved the indefinite detention without trial of prisoners held by the US military in Afghanistan. ● The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in a 44-page decision on Christmas Eve that habeas corpus petitions filed by five prisoners who are held by the US military at the Bagram prison in Afghanistan are “beyond the reach” of the US Constitution. The petitions invoked the prisoners’ right to challenge unlawful detention. While the right is not fully implemented in practice, it is recognized by the US Supreme Court for prisoners held at the notorious US-run Guantanamo prison in Cuba. However, the US appeals court rejected on Tuesday Bagram prisoners’ petition citing administration claims that there are differences between Guantanamo and Bagram, which is also known as “Afghanistan’s Guantanamo.”
Washington’s Blog — It is well-documented that the U.S. government has – at least at some times in some parts of the world – protected drug operations. (Big American banks also launder money for drug cartels. See this, this, this and this. Indeed, drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis. And the U.S. drug money laundering is continuing to this day.)
USAID and CIA “Ghost Money” program to install West-backed technocrats in Afghanistan. ● The chief of staff to Afghanistan’s president drew a salary from two U.S. government contractors in 2002 and early 2003 as he was managing President Hamid Karzai’s office, serving as his spokesman and advising him on foreign affairs, according to documents reviewed by The Daily Beast and subsequent interviews. The contractor salary provided to Said Jawad was part of a U.S. initiative to directly pay high salaries to Western-educated Afghans who helped rebuild a government from scratch in the midst of an ongoing civil war and foreign occupation. While some current and former U.S. officials say these measures were necessary in the first months and years of the Afghan reconstruction to attract top talent to a daunting project, other experts say it’s no different from the kind of corruption the Bush and Obama administration have publicly criticized inside the Afghan government.
Nearly 20 people have been killed in several US airstrikes, including drone attacks, across Afghanistan in the past 48 hours, Press TV reports. ● On Saturday seven people were killed in a US assassination drone attack in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar Province while four lost their lives in a similar assault in southeastern province of Logar. On Friday, an air raid in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar Province claimed one life, while another airstrike in Kandahar's Shah Wali Kot district left seven people dead, according to local officials. Afghan authorities said the victims of the airstrikes were all members of the Taliban militant group. The Taliban have not yet commented on the reports.
The lifeless bodies of Afghan children lay on the ground
before their funeral ceremony, Kunar, eastern Afghanistan.
Last week’s civilian deaths in a drone strike in southern Afghanistan have added new immediacy to the public opposition to allowing the US to continue to use drones in the country, but civilian deaths have been a problem for a long time. Miya Jan, an Afghan farmer, detailed his own drone calamity, when a September attack on his village hit multiple targets, including the pickup trick carrying his brother, his sister-in-law, and their 18-month-old son. “There were pieces of my family all over the road,” noted Jan, saying the strikes killed 14 across the village, all civilians and in similar situations. NATO would admit to only three civilian casualties in the incident, saying that they counted 11 dead overall, and that eight are “suspected insurgents.” Maj. Gen. Ken Wilsbach blamed the Taliban for the civilian deaths, accusing them of living “intermixed with the civilian population.”
VoR: Obama depicted as messiah in book for young schoolchildren ● A book for young schoolchildren, titled "Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope" is now widely discussed on the Web, although the book was written as early as before the November 2008 election that brought Obama to power for the first time.
At least six people are killed in the latest US assassination drone strike in the central eastern part of Afghanistan, Press TV reports. ● According to Afghan officials, the airstrike was conducted in Maidan Wardak Province, late on Tuesday. The identity of the victims have yet to be revealed, though Taliban militants are said to be among the dead. Three other Afghans were also killed in the US-led airstrike in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nuristan, on Tuesday. Washington has repeatedly claimed that its drone strikes target militants, but reports on the ground suggest that civilians are the main victims of such attacks. The unrelenting US air raids across the`2 war-torn country come as the pressure is mounting on Washington over the assassination drone attacks in several Muslim countries, mainly Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Pepe Escobar: Digging in: Why US won’t leave Afghanistan ■ We came, we saw, we stayed. Forever. That’s the essence of the so-called Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to be struck between the Obama administration and Afghanistan – over 12 years after the start of the never-ending War on Terror. All about pivoting to Asia: The Maliki government in Baghdad had the balls to confront the Pentagon and veto the immunity for US forces – effectively kicking out the occupying force in Iraq. Hamid Karzai, for his part, caved in on virtual every US demand. The key question in the next few months is for what; Mob-style protection if he stays in Afghanistan, or the equivalent of the FBI’s witness protection program if he moves to the US? Even assuming the Loya Jirga endorses the BSA (not yet a done deal) and Karzai’s successor signs it (with Karzai removing himself from the tight spot), to say this opens a new Pandora’s box is an understatement. The occupation, for all practical purposes, will continue. This has nothing to do with fighting the War on Terror or jihad. There’s no Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. The few remnants are in Waziristan, in Pakistani territory. The US is – and will remain - essentially at war with Afghan Pashtuns who are members of the Taliban. And the Taliban will keep staging their spring and summer offensives as long as there are any foreign occupiers on Afghan soil. The drone war will continue, with the Pentagon and the CIA using these Afghan bases to attack Pashtuns in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Not to mention that these US bases, to be fully operational, need unrestricted access to the Pakistani transit routes from the Khyber Pass and the Quetta-to-Kandahar corridor. This means Islamabad keeps profiting from the scam by collecting hefty fees in US dollars. No one knows yet how the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will respond to this.
Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday that the United States and Afghanistan had finalized the wording of a bilateral security agreement that would allow for a lasting American troop presence through 2024 and set the stage for billions of dollars of international assistance to keep flowing to the government in Kabul. The deal, which will now be presented for approval by an Afghan grand council of elders starting on Thursday, came after days of brinkmanship by Afghan officials and two direct calls from Mr. Kerry to President Hamid Karzai, including one on Wednesday before the announcement. Just the day before, a senior aide to Mr. Karzai had said the Afghan leader would not approve an agreement unless President Obama sent a letter acknowledging American military mistakes during the 12-year war. But on Wednesday, Mr. Kerry emphatically insisted that a deal was reached with no American apology forthcoming. “President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology. There was no discussion of an apology,” Mr. Kerry said. “I mean, it’s just not even on the table.”
Perpetual occupation of Afghanistan: US to keep troops in place and funds flowing, perhaps indefinitely
While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a key U.S.-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces. The wide-ranging document, still unsigned by the United States and Afghanistan, has the potential to commit thousands of American troops to Afghanistan and spend billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. The document outlines what appears to be the start of a new, open-ended military commitment in Afghanistan in the name of training and continuing to fight al-Qaeda. The war in Afghanistan doesn’t seem to be ending, but renewed under new, scaled-down U.S.-Afghan terms.
Simon Jenkins: The bloody disaster of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan is laid bare: Bombs and militia violence make clear the folly of Britain's wars – the removal of law and order from a nation is devastating ■ In each case – Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan – it was easy to see evil in the prevailing regime. These are bad guys that we need to go after, said the Americans. Yet the removal of law and order from a nation is devastating, however cruel that order may have been. Iraqis today repeat that, whatever the ills of Saddam Hussein, under his rule most ordinary citizens and their families could walk the streets at night without fear of murder or kidnap. Religious differences were tolerated. Iraq should have been an oil-rich modern state. Even the Kurds, scourged by Saddam in the past, enjoyed autonomy and relative peace. In each of these cases Britain and its allies, chiefly America, intervened to overthrow the army, disband government, dismantle the judiciary and leave militias to run riot. Little or no attempt was made to replace anarchy with a new order. "Nation building" was a fiasco. The British bombs that flattened government buildings in Kabul, Baghdad and Tripoli did not replace them, or those who worked in them. Those who dropped them congratulated themselves on their work and went home.
Abby Martin takes a look at a shocking statistic that puts opium production in Afghanistan at a record high, and puts into perspective the different corporate interests that could be keeping US forces in Afghanistan well beyond 2014.
Afghan opium cultivation has reached a record level, with more than 200,000 hectares planted with the poppy for the first time, the United Nations says. ● The UNODC report said the harvest was 36% up on last year, and if fully realised would outstrip global demand. Most of the rise was in Helmand province, where British troops are preparing to withdraw. One of the main reasons the UK sent troops to Helmand was to cut opium production. The head of the UN office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Kabul, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, said that production was likely to rise again next year, amid uncertainty over the withdrawal of most foreign troops and the presidential election. He said that the illegal economy was taking over in importance from legitimate business, and that prices remained high since there was a ready availability of cash in Afghanistan because of aid.
Russia Today: Record opium output boosts Afghan warlords’ power base
At least 18 people have been killed in an airstrike carried out by US-led forces in southern Afghanistan, Press TV reports. ● The attack was launched on Saturday in the Arghandab district in the restive southern province of Zabul. Local officials said the victims of the airstrike were all members of the Taliban militant group. The Taliban have not yet commented on the report. On October 31, six people died in a US-led airstrike in Afghanistan’s southeastern province of Paktia. Three people had lost their lives in a similar incident in the eastern province of Wardak on October 28. Afghans have become increasingly outraged at the seemingly endless number of the deadly US airstrikes.
Human Rights Watch has called on the US government to investigate thoroughly and impartially the deaths of 18 people allegedly killed by American forces in Afghanistan. ● “The Nerkh incidents should be investigated rigorously, impartially, and transparently,” Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel and advocate at Human Rights Watch, said on Wednesday. “While it is clear that crimes occurred, US authorities need to establish what exactly happened and who is responsible,” Prasow added. Rolling Stone magazine earlier on Wednesday reported that US forces were implicated in the killings in Nerkh district, Wardak province in late 2012 and early 2013. In November 2012, many local residents claimed they were connected to operations by a new US Special Forces unit in the district, known as ODA 3124. In February, the body of a man named Nasratullah was found in Nerkh with his throat slit. His family said that US forces had earlier arrested him.
In Washington, 13 year old Zubair Rehmen along with his 9 year old Nabeela, spoke with members of Congress in a briefing organized by Alan Grayson, to send a message to our elected representatives who authorize our blowback inducing bull in a geo-political china shop of military budget what the rest of the world can see as plain as day: Drone attacks in countries that have not declared war on us and pose no threat to us are illegal, immoral, and create more enemies then they kill.
From Huffpo: He thought little of the U.S. drone buzzing over his family's house one day last year, its incessant sound just one more addition to the rhythm of daily life in northwest Pakistan. As he walked home from school, his grandmother told him to eat a snack before coming to the field to help her pick okra. It was the eve of one of the holiest holidays in Islam, when they would gather for a favorite family dish. He went outside. Dum, dum -- the sounds of missiles pierced the air.
"All of a sudden things became very dark," Zubair Rehman, 13, remembered. The next thing he knew, his grandmother, Mamana Bibi, was gone. "It was like she was exploded to pieces."
Zubair traveled from his home in mountainous North Waziristan with his father, Rafiq ur-Rehman, and sister Nabeela, 9, to Washington for a grim first on Tuesday. The drone victims will appear before Congress to explain for the first time the human fallout of the U.S. program. The briefing was organized by Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.). The Rehmans' story, documented extensively in a report released last week by Amnesty International and in a new documentary from filmmaker Robert Greenwald, serves as a wrenching, first-hand rebuke to the Obama administration's frequent claims that drone strikes have caused few if any civilian casualties. Bibi was the only person killed in the strike. Nine people, including the two children, were hurt.
Medea Benjamin: Drones Have Come Out of the Shadows
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