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Afghanistan War Weekly: February 6, 2011
As Washington and the world’s media focus on the revolutionary events in Egypt, news about the war in Afghanistan all but vanished. Nevertheless, articles about several important subjects are linked below, including further developments in the Afghanistan banking scandal; new reports about joblessness and brain injuries among veterans; some coverage of President Karzai’s visit to India, a major investor in Afghanistan and an important player in whatever endgame finally emerges; and a link to the new UFPJ fact sheet on civilian casualties in Afghanistan.
Further below I’ve linked (too) many good/useful articles and analyses about the events in Egypt, and about the implications of these events for other countries in the region and for US policy. How might the events in Egypt affect the war in Afghanistan? For openers, the revolution in Egypt is pretty dramatic evidence that the United States may have locked in too many resources into Afghanistan, leaving them unavailable for “defending” core US interests, e.g. in the Middle East. The US response to the events in Egypt is also a clear refutation that one of its priorities is “democracy,” sometimes still used to justify the Afghanistan war. The “contagion” of events in Egypt may even reach as far as Pakistan, as one article linked below suggests. Perhaps the question about Egypt and Afghanistan could be discussed on the UFPJ Afghanistan list serve.
So it doesn't get lost, I'd like to link here an inspiring music video from the Cairo acoustic rock group Digla called “Tamam Ya Fandim – A Tribute to the Heroes of the Revolution.” It’s at http://www.youtube.com/diglaofficial. Another good one is at Mondoweiss, and it's called “The World Supports You, Egypt” - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQnrHAKN4a8&feature=player_embedded.
Once again, if you find this newsletter useful, I would appreciate your help in expanding circulation. I would also appreciate suggestions about good articles to link here, and also comments (pro & con) that would help to make this newsweekly better. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. This “issue” and some previous editions of the Afghanistan War Weekly are posted on the websites of United for Peace and Justice (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=4111) and War is a Crime (www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww).
----Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
FEATURED ESSAYS [Egypt]
Mubarak's Last Gasps:From Counter-Attack to Departure Day
By Esam Al-Amin, Counterpunch [February 4, 2011]
Top Ten Accomplishments of Egypt Demonstrators
By Juan Cole, Informed Comment [February 5, 2011]
By Gilbert Achcar and Farooq Sulehria, ZNet [February 5, 2011]
USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
---- 711 Coalition soldiers were killed in 2010, including 499 US soldiers. 24 US soldiers were killed in January. In total, 2,318 Coalition soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the war, including 1,472 soldiers from the United States. 273 US soldiers were wounded in January; the total US wounded during 2010 was 5,178, and the number wounded since the war began is 10,226. To learn more go to www.icasualties.org and to http://tomhayden.com/downloads/Wounded.pdf. On US wounded soldiers, see the important article by C.J.Chivers, “In Wider War in Afghanistan, Survival Rate of Wounded Rises,” New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/world/asia/08wounded.html?_r=1&hp
---- “Afghan civilian toll up 20 percent-U.N. report,” by Jonathon Burch, Reuters [December 21, 2010] states that “Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 20 percent in the first 10 months of this year compared with 2009, the United Nations said, with more than three-quarters killed or wounded as a result of insurgent attacks. In a quarterly report on Afghanistan this month, the United Nations said there were 6,215 civilian casualties from conflict-related incidents, including 2,412 deaths and 3,803 injuries, between January and the end of October this year.” http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-53709120101221?rpc=401&feedType=... For an extensive listing of casualty estimates since the war began, go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civilian_casualties_of_the_War_in_Afghanist...
The Cost of the War
---- According to the website www.costofwar.com, expenditures on the Afghanistan war have reached $375 billion and the total for both the Afghanistan and the Iraq wars is $1.148 trillion. For a useful resource on the costs of war, go to “Bring Our War $$ Home” at www.bringourwardollarshome.org/index.html
Public opinion about the war in Afghanistan
---- According to the Afghanistan Study Group, two-thirds of self-identified conservative voters and Tea Party supporters call for either a reduction of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan (the 39% plurality) or a complete withdrawal "as soon as possible" (27%). 24% think that the current levels of troops should be maintained. The majority 71% of conservative voters, including over two-thirds of Tea Party supporters, are worried that the war's cost to American taxpayers - $120 billion spent on the war in 2010 - will make it more difficult to reduce the U.S. deficit next year and balance the U.S. federal budget in the next decade. http://www.afghanistanstudygroup.org/2011/01/12/afghanistan-study-group-...
---- “63 Percent of Americans Oppose War In Afghanistan.” Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is at an all-time high, with 63 percent of the public now opposed to U.S. involvement there, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey. Just 35 percent of survey respondents say they still support U.S. involvement. The increase in opposition to U.S. involvement comes as pessimism about how the war is going is rising. According to a poll done Dec. 17-19, 56 percent of the public believes that "things are going badly for the U.S. in Afghanistan." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/30/63-percent-of-american-public-o...
For earlier polls: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_...
DAMAGED SOLDIERS, BROKEN ARMY
Lawmakers Demand Treatment For Troops With Brain Injuries
By Daniel Zwerdling and T. Christian Miller, NPR [February 4, 2011]
--- A bipartisan group of 74 lawmakers issued a letter Friday demanding that the Pentagon's health plan cover a treatment for brain injured soldiers known as cognitive rehabilitation therapy. Official Pentagon figures show that nearly 200,000 troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries since 2001, though our investigation found evidence suggesting the true toll is far higher. Although the majority of soldiers recover from the most common form of head trauma, known as mild traumatic brain injury or concussion, some suffer lifelong mental difficulties, with trouble remembering words or following directions. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/02/04/133500606/lawmakers-deman...
Jobless rate among veterans highest in five years
By Wendell Marsh, Reuters [February 4, 2011]
---- More than 15 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans were unemployed in January, far higher than the national jobless rate and the highest since the government began collecting data on veterans in 2005, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday…. The government said 15.2 percent of veterans were out of work in January, up from 12.6 percent the same month a year ago. This compares with an overall U.S. unemployment rate of 9.0 percent seasonally adjusted and 9.8 percent without adjustment. The government data for veterans is only presented without adjusting for seasonal differences. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110204/us_nm/us_jobs_veterans
THE WAR IN KABUL
Afghans resist IMF pressure to sell off bank
By Matthew Green, Financial Times [February 3, 2011]
---- The International Monetary Fund wants Afghanistan to wind down and sell off Kabul Bank to stabilise the financial system, according to the governor of the country’s central bank. Afghan officials fear, however, that any move to place the country’s largest bank into receivership may trigger renewed panic in the banking sector, which was rocked by Kabul Bank’s near-collapse amid corruption allegations five months ago. The scandal at the bank, in which a coterie of businessmen and politicians took out huge loans, has become an emblem of the crony capitalism that has flourished in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. A protracted dispute over the lender’s fate could complicate attempts by donors to boost aid flows to shore up the government of Hamid Karzai, president, against a spreading insurgency, while further straining its ties with the west. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/1f18ad50-2fb9-11e0-91f8-00144feabdc0,dwp_uuid=7f...
See also: Matthew Green, “Afghan ministers implicated in loans scandal,” Financial Times [February 1, 2011] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/8c8a0468-2e26-11e0-8733-00144feabdc0.html#axzz... and Matthew Rosenberg, “Afghan Minister Denies Allegations of Bribery,” Wall Street Journal [February 3, 2011] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870477560457612022295187162...
UN: Reputation of Afghan police worsening in south
By Heidi Vogt, Associated Press [February 3, 2011]
---- The reputation of the Afghan police has deteriorated in the south of the country in the past year, according to a U.N. survey released Thursday. Countrywide, 79 percent of Afghans have a favorable view of the police — unchanged from a year ago — and 34 percent say their confidence in the police has grown in the past year, the survey said. Improved public opinion about police in relatively safe central provinces and the capital were offset by a significant drop in the five southern provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan and Nimroz. In the south, only 48 percent of respondents said they had a "somewhat favorable" or "very favorable" opinion of the police in their area. That's down from 67 percent a year ago. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110203/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ARMED OPPOSITION
Karzai won't offer Taliban 'power-sharing,' top aide says
Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers [February 1, 2011]
---- Afghanistan won't offer a share in the government to Taliban insurgents in return for a peace deal, and they'll have to lay down their arms and contest elections to gain power, a top aide to President Hamid Karzai declared in an interview. National security adviser Rangeen Dadfar Spanta told McClatchy that no changes to the Afghan Constitution will be used to entice the Taliban into a negotiated settlement. The statement by Karzai's national security adviser quashed speculation that as part of a peace accord, the extremist movement would be given ministries and provincial governorships and the Afghan Constitution would be modified to allow the dominance of religious law. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/02/01/v-print/107886/karzai-wont-offer-t...
Afghan Taliban members seek guarantees for peace talks
By Dawood Azami, BBC World Service [February 1, 2011]
---- Taliban commanders in Afghanistan have told the BBC that they are willing to explore peace talks.
They say they will do so if they can have more solid guarantees about their own future and safety. The Afghan government and its foreign allies say they are making contact with members of the Taliban - but no formal talks are under way. In public, the Taliban have repeatedly rejected talks, saying there can be no progress until foreign troops leave. But in what appears to be a significant new development, more than a dozen senior and mid-level Taliban commanders have told the BBC that they are interested in a peaceful settlement. www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12336294
THE WAR ON THE GROUND
In the Taliban’s Heartland, U.S. and Afghan Forces Dig In
By Carlotta Gall, New York Times [February 5, 2011]
---- If the commander of coalition forces, Gen. David H. Petraeus, has sounded triumphant lately — telling his officers they have their teeth in the enemy’s jugular — this newly conquered patch of southern Afghanistan is one reason for that. Three months ago the area was an uninhabited war zone where Taliban fighters roamed freely. A Taliban flag flew over the village. But since mid-November the Taliban have retreated, punched hard by the influx of thousands of American and Afghan forces into the area, and Zhare has enjoyed more than two months of calm. American and Afghan forces are setting up joint bases across the district, in a strategic and deeply symbolic victory that they hope is part of a turning point in the war. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/05/world/asia/05afghanistan.html?ref=world
This Is Not a Place for Life
By Mike Ferner, War Is A Crime [February 3, 2011]
---- The NGO’s offices were sparse and well worn, but they bustled with a palpable sense of purpose. Our host’s hospitality was unerring. For reasons that will become obvious, we will call him Dr. Ahmed Hasan. He said he coordinates an agriculture and livestock project, midwifery services, immunizations, women’s empowerment, women’s shelters and a “weatherization” program that consists primarily of distributing firewood and small, tin heating stoves to people living in mud huts that have blankets for doors. The doctor describes one of the three camps in his charge, housing about 1,000 families averaging 7 to 8 people each. The weatherization process provides each family a firewood ration of 120 kilos per month, during the coldest months of the year only. This equals about 10 pounds of wood per day per family for all cooking and heating. http://warisacrime.org/content/not-place-life
A new UFPJ fact sheet on “civilian casualties” is hot off the press. It is available at http://www.unitedforpeace.org/downloads/UFPJ%20Afghanistan%20Civilian%20...,
PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Many in Pakistan Fear Unrest at Home
By Jane Perlez, New York Times [February 3, 2011]
---- Protests over crippling prices and corrupt leadership are sweeping much of the Islamic world, but here in Pakistan this week, the government blithely dismissed any threat to its longevity or to the country’s stability. … But while Mr. Gilani appeared unruffled, diplomats, analysts and other Pakistani officials admitted to unease, and conceded that Pakistan contained many of the same ingredients for revolt found in the Middle East — and then some: an economy hollowed out by bad management and official corruption; rising Islamic religious fervor; and a poisonous resentment of the United States, Pakistan’s biggest financial supporter. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/04/world/asia/04pakistan.html?ref=world&p...
India committed to rebuilding Afghanistan: Singh
From The Associated Press [February 3, 2011]
---- Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pledged India’s help in securing Afghanistan during wide-ranging talks with visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai, India’s ministry of external affairs said in a joint statement issued at the end of the talks. India and Afghanistan have had strong diplomatic and trade ties since the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.Over the past decade, India has spent more than $1 billion to help rebuild Afghanistan’s war-damaged infrastructure by building roads, schools, hospitals and dams. India is also involved in training the country’s police forces, lawmakers and its diplomatic corps.
See also: Mark Magnier, ”Invested in ‘soft power,’ India awaits Karzai visit,” Los Angeles Times [February 2, 2011] http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-india-afghanistan-20...
U.S. General Sees Success Even if Pakistan Doesn't Act
From The New York Times [February 1, 2011]
---- Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the No. 2 commander in Afghanistan, said Tuesday that the United States and NATO could succeed in the war even if Pakistan refused to shut down a lawless frontier sanctuary that militants use for staging attacks on forces across the border in Afghanistan. General Rodriguez’s comments are at odds with recent remarks by Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said last month that “we cannot succeed in Afghanistan without shutting down those safe havens.” A White House strategic review of Afghan policy in December came to much the same conclusion. Two classified United States intelligence reports late last year similarly concluded that there was a limited chance of success unless Pakistan hunted down the insurgents near the border. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/world/asia/02military.html?_r=1
THE WIKILEAKS LEAK – WEEK TEN
Sources for Cables and Media Coverage
---- WikiLeaks’ new home is at www.wikileaks.ch, courtesy of the Swiss Pirate Party. As of today, 3,278 cables have been released. They can be searched (e.g., for “Afghanistan” or “corruption”) at http://cablesearch.org/. Another useful site is WikiLeaks Central: “An unofficial WikiLeaks information resource”: http://wlcentral.org// The Wikipedia entry on WikiLeaks is comprehensive and up-to-date: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_diplomatic_cables_leak. The best WikiLeaks archives in the mainstream media are at The Guardian [UK] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/the-us-embassy-cables and Aljazeera http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/spotlight/usembassyfiles/. The New York Times’ site is at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/world/statessecrets.html?hp. Energy Intelligence, a publication specializing “information of geopolitical importance to the world of energy,” has set up a “WikiLeaks Watch” for energy-related cables posted on WikiLeaks: http://new.energyintel.com/WikileaksWatch. Of the several blogs about the cables and the controversy surrounding them, the best one imo is by Greg Mitchell at The Nation - http://www.thenation.com/authors/greg-mitchell.
New this week
Greg Mitchell, “Bradley Manning and the Tomb of the Well-Known Soldier,” The Nation [February 5, 2011]
THE REVOLUTION IN EGYPT AND TUNISIA
Tunisia and Egypt have been among the most reliable US allies in North Africa. The best source for news (including videos) about the Tunisia revolution is Aljazeera. http://english.aljazeera.net/category/country/tunisia. The websites of Juan Cole (www.informedcomment.org), War in Context (www.warincontext.org), and www.antiwar.com have linked/published many good essays. Aljazeera has 24-hour news coverage of the events in Egypt; outstanding. Their English-language service can be accessed at www.livestation.com. Democracy Now! (www.democracynow.org) had good news stories and video throughout the past week. The website mondoweiss.net also has lots about Egypt, and a long list of interesting links can be found at http://mondoweiss.net/2011/02/mubarak-unleashes-his-thugs-and-it-backfir.... Here are some good/useful essays giving a broad overview of these exciting events:
Uprising in Egypt: A Two-Hour Special on the Revolt Against the U.S.-Backed Mubarak Regime
From Aljazeera, [February 6, 2011]
---- The story of five days in January when the people of Egypt broke through a barrier of fear and rose in revolt. http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/2011/02/2011267047178387.html
Into Egypt’s Uncharted Territory
By Hesham Sallam, Joshua Stacher and Chris Toensing, Middle East Reports [February 1, 2011]
This is the Most Remarkable Regional Uprising that I Can Remember
By Noam Chomsky, Democracy Now! [February 3, 2011]
Reflections on the Arab 1848
By Rahul Mahajan, Empire Notes [February 05, 2011]
The God That's Failing
By Alexander Cockburn, Counterpunch [February 4, 2011]
Our New Man in Egypt: Swapping a Dictator for a Torturer
By James Ridgeway, Counterpunch [February 4, 2011]
Democracy, Capitalism and Technology: Understanding Social Unrest in Egypt and Tunisia
By David Correira, Counterpunch [February 4, 2011]
Winter of Discontent
By Laila Lalami, The Nation [February 3, 2011]
The Egyptian Uprising Is a Direct Response to Ruthless Global Capitalism
By Nomi Prins, Alternet [February 06, 2011]
The Poetry of Revolt
Elliott Colla, Jadaliyya [January 31, 2011]
The US Role
U.S. defense contractors with the most at stake in Egypt
From Southern Studies [February 2011]
Critical Connections: Egypt, the US, and Israel
By Alison Weir, Antiwar.com [February 05, 2011]
Egypt's military-industrial complex
By Pratap Chatterjee, The Guardian [February 4, 2011]
Three Decades With Egypt’s Military Keep U.S. in Loop
By Viola Gienger - Feb 2, 2011 6:48 PM ET
The War on the Ground
The Egyptian Revolution: First Impressions from the Field
By Mohammed Bamyeh, Jadaliyya [February 06, 2011]
Blood and fear in Cairo's streets as Mubarak's men crack down on protests
By Robert Fisk, The Independent [February 3, 2011]
Where Egypt military's loyalties lie remains unclear
By Craig Whitlock and Greg Jaffe, Washington Post [February 5, 2011]
Exhausted, Scared And Trapped, Protesters Put Forward Plan For Future
By Robert Fisk, The Independent [UK] [February 05, 2011]
The Wrong Mubarak Quits. Soon the Right One Will Go
By Robert Fisk, The Independent [UK] [February 6, 2011]
2 Detained Reporters Saw Secret Police’s Methods Firsthand
By Souad Mekhennet and Nicholas Kulish, New York Times [February 4, 2011]
Food Price/Supply Crisis
Egypt's unrest may have roots in food prices, U.S. Fed policy
Kevin G. Hall, McClatchy Newspapers [January 31, 2011]
Food, Egypt and Wall Street
By Robert Alvarez, Counterpunch [February 4, 2011]
Other Countries in the Region
Arab regimes brace for ‘days of rage’
By Simeon Kerr, Financial Times [February 3, 2011]
Region's Leaders Gamble on Subsidies
---- By Joe Parkinson, Wall Street Journal [February 5, 2011]
Now Gaza Begins to Shake
Sunday 06 February 2011
By Pam Bailey | Inter Press Service | Report
Thousands of Yemenis protest against Saleh
By Abigail Fielding-Smith, Financial Times [February 3, 2011]
Clamor for change now reaches Iraq
By Salar Jaff and Raheem Salman, Los Angeles Times [February 6, 2011]
Jordanians seek reform without revolution
By Tobias Buck, Financial Times [February 2, 2011]