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Afghanistan War Weekly: January 24, 2011
The US “surge” in Afghanistan has failed on three major counts. Despite thousands more soldiers, the US/Afghanistan government has not increased the amount of territory it controls, except where there is overwhelming force on the spot. And US/NATO forces are far too few to actively occupy more than a small part of the country. Second, the attempt to establish a seemingly legitimate and/or effective government in Kabul has failed. The parliament/assembly that may or may not convene this week is the product of electoral fraud even more blatant than last year’s presidential election. “Nation-building” is not happening. Thirdly, there is little prospect that the training missions intended to create an effective Afghan army and police force will succeed. After more than a year, there remains a shortage of trainers, the programs appear to be ineffective, and NATO officers themselves express skepticism that a “hand-off” of security responsibilities will ever be possible. Each of these failures is the subject of articles linked below.
As another set of articles linked below shows that instability is increasing in Pakistan. The latest flash points occurred when the government’s coalition neared collapse when it attempted to comply with IMF and US orders to discontinue energy subsidies, and when an Islamist murdered a leading political figure of the ruling party/coalition murdered. In the latter case, subsequent demonstrations against secularism and in support of the politician’s murderer forced the government to distance itself from the victim and his secularism. There appears to be little that the United States can do to prevent Pakistan’s collapse, and efforts to engage Pakistan more deeply in the war only accelerate instability.
The difficulties facing US war strategies in Central Asia will likely be compounded by this week’s dramatic events in Tunisia and the Middle East. Though Tunisia is 3,000 miles from the Afghanistan, the ripples from this revolution threaten the conservative and cooperative Arab regimes on whom US regional diplomacy depends. Demonstrations for “bread and democracy” à la Tunisia took place this week in Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen. Way below I’ve pasted in links to some background reading about the Tunisia revolution. Also, yesterday’s release by Aljazeera of the “Palestine Papers”– implicating the Palestinian Authority in a massive sell-out of its people in negotiations with Israel – may damage/destroy Fatah and the PLO to such an extent that they are no longer useful to the US “road map” and “peace process.”
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 email@example.com. 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)
Afghanistan: Losing the Afghan People
By Nir Rosen and Marika Theros, Open Democracy [January 18, 2011]
---- This unfolding narrative of progress simply does not match the security experiences of ordinary Afghan citizens or their increasing perception that the future remains dark. The year 2010 witnessed a significant spike in violence both in the south, with offensive military operations triggering greater Taliban intimidation and assassinations of civilians, and in the north in heretofore ‘stable areas’ where international neglect and government abuse provide fertile ground for insurgent expansion. As American and NATO forces enter their tenth year in Afghanistan, Afghan communities find themselves increasingly caught in a complex system of violence generated by insurgents, criminal gangs, drug lords, corrupt officials, US-allied local strongmen, and aggressive international forces. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/01/18-8
(Video) The War You Don't See
A feature-length documentary by John Pilger, including Iraq and Afghanistan. - 100 minutes
Obama’s War, One Year Later: 195 Million Say No to War
By Robert Greenwald, Aljazeera [January 20, 2011]
---- After more than nine years, it’s time to end this war. Today, we’re launching “Because It’s Time” on Rethink Afghanistan to help Americans who oppose this war to make their voices heard. On this page, you can post your photo and a reason why it’s time to bring troops home. Starting next Wednesday, you’ll have the chance to vote on your favorite comments. As the one-year anniversary of “Obama’s War” approaches, please take a moment to call for our troops to come home–because it’s time.
THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
Afghanistan: Killing Peace
By Conn Hallinan, Antiwar.com [January 14, 2011]
---- In spite of a White House report that "progress" is being made in Afghanistan, by virtually any measure the war has significantly deteriorated since the Obama administration surged troops into Kandahar and Helmand provinces. This past year has been the deadliest on record for U.S. and coalition troops. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, security has worsened throughout the country. Civilian casualties are on the rise. U.S. allies are falling away, and the central government in Kabul has never been so isolated. Polls in Afghanistan, the United States, and Europe reflect growing opposition to the nine-year conflict. So why is the White House pursuing a strategy that is almost certain to accelerate a descent into chaos and runs counter to the administration’s stated goal of a diplomatic solution to the war? http://original.antiwar.com/hallinan/2011/01/13/afghanistan-killing-peace/
Richard Holbrooke’s Lonely Mission
From Newsweek [January 16, 2011]
---- Richard Holbrooke’s last official title was “special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Holbrooke was the diplomatic point man supposed to be sorting out the most complicated, most costly, and most dangerous of the wars that the United States is fighting. It involves so much more than Taliban bombs by the side of the road, or boots on the ground, or poppies raised for opium in Afghan valleys. At bottom, it’s about nuclear-armed Pakistan, which is sometimes an ally, sometimes an enemy, of the American effort in Afghanistan. http://www.newsweek.com/2011/01/16/richard-holbrooke-s-lonely-mission.htm
U.S. keeps funneling money to troubled Afghan projects
Marisa Taylor and Dion Nissenbaum, McClatchy Newspapers [January 12, 2011]
---- In the rush to rebuild Afghanistan, the U.S. government has charged ahead with ever-expanding development programs despite questions about their impact, cost and value to America's multi-billion-dollar campaign to shore up the pro-Western Afghan president and prevent Taliban insurgents from seizing control. McClatchy found that U.S. government funding for at least 15 large-scale programs and projects grew from just over $1 billion to nearly $3 billion despite the government's questions about their effectiveness or cost. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/01/12/v-print/106681/troubled-us-afghan-...
Obama May Slash Afghan War Cash While War Rolls On
By Spencer Ackerman, Wired [January 21, 2011]
---- For the upcoming fiscal year, which begins in October, Defense Secretary Robert Gates wants $117 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s down about a quarter from the $159 billion that Gates requested for fiscal 2011, already underway. In some ways, the dip makes sense; all American troops are supposed to pull out of Iraq during the upcoming fiscal year. But even so, that means funding for the Afghanistan war starts to drop in October. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/01/obama-may-slash-afghan-war-cash-...
USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
---- 711 Coalition soldiers were killed in 2010, including 499 US soldiers. 53 US soldiers were killed in November, 30 were killed in December, and 20 have been killed so far in January. In total, 2,308 Coalition soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the war, including 1,466 soldiers from the United States. The number of US soldiers wounded in November 2010 was 501, 323 were wounded in December, and 187 have been wounded so far in January. The total US wounded during 2010 was 5,178, and the number wounded since the war began is 10,140. 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=... See also Susan G. Chesser, “Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians,” Congressional Research Service [August 11, 2010] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41084.pdf; and (for an extensive listing of casualty estimates since the war began): 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 $371 billion and the total for both the Afghanistan and the Iraq wars is $1.142 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
---- “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...
---- “ABC News/Washington Post Poll: Record Six in 10 Say it's 'Not Worth Fighting' “ - A record 60 percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, a grim assessment -- and a politically hazardous one -- in advance of the Obama administration's one-year review of its revised strategy. Public dissatisfaction with the war, now the nation's longest, has spiked by 7 points just since July. Given its costs vs. its benefits, only 34 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll [December 16, 2010] say the war's been worth fighting, down by 9 points to a new low, by a sizable margin. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/abc-news-washington-post-poll-exclusive-a...
---- “[Dutch] Poll shows dissent on Afghanistan mission.” -- The new training mission to Afghanistan advocated by the government has the support of just 34% of the Dutch population. 58% are opposed. The poll shows the majority of Christian Democrat voters are for the mission, while Labour, Socialist Party, GroenLinks, Liberal VVD and PVV voters are against. – January 6, 2011. http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/01/poll_shows_dissent_on_afgh...
-- For earlier polls: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_...
DAMAGED SOLDIERS, BROKEN ARMY
National Guard, Reserve Suicides Soar
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [January 19, 2011]
---- Military officials are attempting to downplay the significance of the massive increase in suicides amongst Army National Guard and Reserve soldiers, insisting that the near doubling of the rate at which they make their lives has nothing to do with the military as such. Major General Ray Carpenter termed it a “young white male problem,” insisting that the increase could be attributed almost entirely to “relationship problems” with the reservists’ wives or girlfriends. http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/19/national-guard-reserve-suicides-soar/
THE WAR IN KABUL
Afghan underworld shows challenges for stability
By Elena Becatoros, Associated Press [January 17, 2011]
---- "In a growing number of areas in the country, we are entering a new, rather murky phase in the conflict in which the proliferation of armed groups threatens the ability of humanitarian organizations to reach the people who need their help," the ICRC said recently. Some experts say one reason may be NATO's effective policy of targeting midlevel Taliban commanders. Once they are killed or captured, the area they controlled might splinter among lower-ranking fighters in charge of smaller areas. Or they might be replaced by either younger, potentially more radical commanders, or outsiders who care less about those living in the area — and don't feel accountable to them. A top concern for many civilians is the frequent inability of police to deal with the groups. Many others — including residents, local officials and researchers — claim the armed groups often have allies inside the security forces. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110117/ap_on_re_as/as_afghan_militias
Afghan officials cite security firms with U.S. ties for violations
By Joshua Partlow and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post [January 22, 2011]
---- The Afghan government has accused several prominent private security companies, including some that work with the U.S. government, of committing "major offenses," a move that U.S. officials fear could hasten their departure from the country. A list compiled by Afghan officials cites 16 companies, including several American and British firms, for unspecified serious violations and seven others for having links to high-ranking Afghan officials. A decision to ban the major violators and those that have relationships with senior Afghan officials would affect firms that provide about 800 guards for the U.S. Agency for International Development projects and about 3,000 who work on military construction projects for the coalition, said a senior U.S. official. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/22/AR201101...
See also: Ray Rivera and Sharifullah Sahak, “Afghan Report Revives Concerns About Scrutiny of Private Security Firms,” New York Times [January 23, 2011] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/24/world/asia/24afghan.html?adxnnl=1&ref=...
Afghan Govt Struggles to Tax US War Contractors
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [January 17, 2011]
---- The Afghan government is threatening to begin arresting US military contractors and confiscating their goods if they continue to refuse to pay long-overdue tax bills. The effort has enraged contractors, who insist that they have tax-exempt status by virtue of working with the US-led occupation forces, and both Pentagon and State Department officials have been advising them to “just ignore” the tax bills they receive. http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/17/afghan-govt-struggles-to-tax-us-war-c...
Afghan opium production could rise in 2011 - UN report
From Monsters and Critics [January 20, 2011]
---- Rising opium prices could drive up Afghanistan's production area in 2011 for the first time in four years, while eradication efforts have stalled, according to a United Nations drug agency report. Although the total harvest was nearly halved in 2010 because of bad weather conditions and a plant disease, this pushed up prices of harvested opium by 164 per cent. http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/southasia/news/article_1613211.ph...
Karzai wins Russian backing on milestone visit
By Dmitry Zaks, Agence France Press [January 21, 2011]
---- Moscow has allowed NATO to conduct non-military transports across its territory and further sought to boost the number of lucrative trade deals it signs with Kabul in exchange for Russia's technological know-how. The blooming relationship has been periodically clouded by Russian misgivings over Karzai's inability to curb the flow of opium and other drugs to former Soviet lands in Central Asia and Russia.
Officials in Afghanistan Begin Investigation Into Possible Fraud at Troubled Bank
By Alissa J. Rubin and Rod Nordland, New York Times [January 15, 2011]
---- Afghan officials have begun an investigation into possible fraud at Kabul Bank, four months after irregularities there led to a weeklong run on the bank by depositors. In early September, the Central Bank replaced the management at Kabul Bank, Afghanistan’s largest, with its own officials after revelations that it had made $300 million in questionable loans to its own shareholders. Several of its shareholders were politically influential. The International Monetary Fund is seeking an overhaul of the entire Afghan banking system and has delayed its renewal of its main credit program for Afghanistan. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/15/world/asia/15afghan.html?ref=world
Afghan Panel and U.S. Dispute War’s Toll on Property
By Taimoor Shah and Rod Nordland, New York Times [January 14, 2011]
---- An Afghan presidential commission has determined that military operations in the Kandahar area have caused more than $100 million in damage to homes and farms over the past six months. Those findings were disputed at a news conference here on Thursday that included the provincial and district governors for the areas where most of the damage occurred. The American military commander in the area, Maj. Gen. James Terry, estimated the damage at only $1.4 million and said officials were rapidly processing and paying claims for compensation. The issue is a delicate one because rapid recompense for damage caused by the fighting is an important part of the American counterinsurgency strategy. Commission officials, for instance, put the number of homes deliberately destroyed by coalition troops as high as 900. General Terry said only 81 residential houses had been destroyed.
The election saga in Afghanistan – from voting to counting to declaring winners to constitutional crisis – may have entered its final stage. Following September’s election, the US/UN etc. viewed the election as rife with fraud, while the Karzai people maintained that it was free and fair. When many Karzai candidates were excluded because of voting fraud, however, and Karzai’s support in the next parliament was severely diminished, it was Karzai who demanded that voting fraud be investigated further, while the US/UN maintained that the election was good enough to put the new legislature in gear. The Afghanistan parliament may (or may not) officially convene on Wednesday. Needless to say, the hope/expectation that the election would give some democratic cover to Karzai’s government and legitimacy to the US war project has been derailed.
U.N. envoy scrambles to save deal over Afghanistan's parliament
By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers [January 23, 2011]
---- Legislators on Saturday thought they had a deal with Karzai that would allow the new parliament to begin work on Wednesday. Karzai had wanted the start of the parliamentary session, which had been scheduled for Sunday, delayed for a month while disputed results from last September's election are resolved. But by Sunday morning the deal to allow parliament to start meeting appeared to be crumbling. … Late Sunday, there was still no word from the presidential palace on whether the revised agreement proposed by the lawmakers was acceptable, keeping the international community hanging, with no certainty that parliament would indeed be inaugurated this Wednesday. Adding to the intrigue was news that Karzai planned to meet on Monday with some of the 2,500 candidates who had lost the parliamentary election. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/01/23/107267/un-envoy-scrambles-to-save-...
See also: Joshua Parlow, “Karzai delays parliament’s inauguration as court investigates fraud,” Washington Post [January 19, 2011] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/19/AR201101... Saeed Shah, “Kabul showdown: Afghan lawmakers threaten to defy Karzai,” McClatchy Newspapers [January 21, 2011] http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2011/01/21/107243/afghan-lawmakers-threaten-t... and Jason Ditz, “Despite ‘Deal,’ Doubts Remain on Afghan Parliament,” Antiwar.com [January 23, 2011] http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/23/despite-deal-doubts-remain-on-afghan-...
TRAINING THE AFGHAN ARMY AND POLICE
White House ‘Not Ready’ to Endorse Another Afghan Military Boost
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [January 20, 2011]
---- Officials with the White House confirmed that they are “not ready” to endorse the latest plan to dramatically increase the size of the Afghan military, citing concerns about the major amounts of money it takes to support the large, but not particularly effective fighting force. The current plan eyes the creation of a 305,000-soldier security force by October, but traditionally whenever the deadline for a goal is close officials just push it back another year and add a bunch more troops. The new targeted officials are floating is 378,000. Each new goal dramatically increases the amount of money the US and other nations pump into the training program, and encourages Afghan officials to accept even less battle-ready recruits to meet their goals. This has made the force even less reliable and more prone to shooting their allies. http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/20/white-house-not-ready-to-endorse-anot...
Costly coalition plan to recruit thousands more Afghan forces draws concerns
By Joshua Partlow and Ernesto Londo, Washington Post [January 17, 2011]
---- A U.S.-backed plan to hire an additional 73,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers has raised concern among diplomats in Kabul about the quality of recruits and the sustainability of an increasingly costly security apparatus financed almost entirely by international donors. The plan represents a 24 percent increase over an initial American goal. It would cost the United States an additional $6 billion next year, roughly twice as much as previously planned, and could saddle the United States and other countries with heftier Afghan security costs for years, if not decades, to come. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/17/AR201101...
Afghan official sees big hurdles to capable army
By Mohammed Abbas, Reuters [January 19, 2011]
---- The Afghan national army has a long way to go before Western forces can hand over responsibility for security in the country, a senior Afghan military official said on Wednesday. Brigadier General Sherin Shah said logistics, a shortage of medics, weapons, and a lack of competent police were the biggest obstacles to an independent Afghan security force, and he repeatedly emphasized the youth and inexperience of his forces. Shah works with British forces in Helmand province, and while he lauded progress in the development of Afghan forces, his comments on the difficulties ahead contrast with highly upbeat British assessments of Afghan military ability. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110119/wl_nm/us_britain_afghanistan
THE WAR ON THE GROUND
In Afghanistan, Insurgents Let Bombs Do Fighting
By Michael Kamber, New York Times [January 17, 2011]
---- The remote district of Sangin in Helmand Province may be the deadliest spot in the hardest-fought province for Marines leading the American offensive in Taliban territory. Marines took over full responsibility for the area in September from badly bloodied British troops who had often kept to defensive positions. The Americans have been more aggressive in their four months in Sangin, but this has resulted in heavy casualties: of at least 120 confirmed Marine deaths across the huge surrounding province since a new troop rotation in mid-April, 27 have been in this tiny corner. The way they have been forced to adapt highlights the intense challenges that Americans face as they try to root out an enemy that knows the terrain, can find support and shelter in many villages, and is patient enough to let booby traps do most of the fighting. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/world/asia/18helmand.html
See also: Tony Perry, “Marines pay a price trying to secure an Afghan hot spot,” Los Angeles Times [January 22, 2011] http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghanistan-marines-... ; and Josh Boak, “Mariines of Operation Godfather see stark improvement in deadly Helmand province,” Washington Post [January 18, 2011] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/18/AR201101...
Petraeus Blames 75% Increase in Violence on Mild Afghan Winter
From Outlook Afghanistan [January 16, 2011]
---- General David Petraeus now claims the reason the level of violence in Afghanistan has shot up 75% in 2011 versus 2010 is because of the unseasonably warm weather. Supposedly, it allows Taliban fighters more freedom of movement. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told ambassadors in Kabul earlier this week that the violence level so far this winter was "higher than we expected.” According to NATO statistics, there were about 700 "security incidents," in the first week of January, including bombs that exploded and those found before detonation, as well as grenade, mortar and gunfire attacks. Last January, the numbers hovered around 400 a week. The January levels in 2009 were about 200 a week; in 2008, about 100. http://www.outlookafghanistan.net/news_Pages/main_news.html#02
(Video) Modest gains against Taliban
From Aljazeera [January 20, 2011]
---- It has been two years since Barack Obama took over the US presidency. In that time the war in Afghanistan has stayed at the top of his foreign policy agenda. But is his strategy of transferring power to Afghan policy and the army working? Al Jazeera's Sue Turton went out on patrol with one local commander who says that he is gaining ground against the Taliban. http://english.aljazeera.net/video/
PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Pakistan's political crisis: The limits of U.S. leverage
By Nancy Birdsall, Wren Elha,i and Molly Kinder, Foreign Policy [January 20, 2011]
---- A very bad start to 2011 in Pakistan has left the country shaken and thrown the politics of reform into even greater doubt. Gilani's decision to jettison energy and tax reforms jeopardizes Pakistan's IMF program and raises questions about how the United States aid package should move forward. The hard realities of Pakistani domestic politics have trumped and will trump any pressure from external donors. Any strategy grounded in realism requires knowing first what money can and cannot buy. http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/01/20/pakistan_s_political_cri...
See also: Tom Wright, ” Setbacks Plague U.S. Aid to Pakistan,” Wall Street Journal [January 21, 2011] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870358340457608011398080435...
Pakistan awaiting the clerical tsunami
Farooq Sulehria interviews Pervez Hoodbhoy, Znet [January 22, 2011]
---- Even without winning elections, the mullah parties are immensely more powerful in determining how you and I live than election-winning parties like the PPP and ANP. For a long time the religious right has dictated what we can or cannot teach in our public and private schools. No government ever had the guts to dilute the hate materials being forced down young throats. They also dictate what you and I can wear, eat, or drink. Their unchallenged power has led to Pakistan’s cultural desertification because they violently oppose music, dance, theatre, art, and intellectual inquiry. http://www.zcommunications.org/pakistan-awaiting-the-clerical-tsunami-by...
The Truth Left Behind: Inside the Kidnapping and Murder of Daniel Pearl
By an International Cosortium of Investigative Journalists
ASSASSINATION BY DRONES
Mass Protests in North Waziristan Against US Drone Strikes
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [January 21, 2011]
---- There was a general strike in the town of Miramshah in North Waziristan Agency today, as thousands of protesting tribesmen took to the streets to protest the continued US drone strikes against the region.
Shopkeepers closed their stores, tribesmen and religious leaders rallied with students, and speakers condemned the attacks, noting that they are killing large numbers of innocent civilians. http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/21/mass-protests-in-north-waziristan-aga...
See also: Jason Ditz, “After Protests, US Drones Kill 13 Pakistanis,” Antiwar.com [January 23, 2011] http://news.antiwar.com/2011/01/23/after-protests-us-drones-kills-13-pak...
Pakistan’s Failure to Hit Militant Sanctuary Has Positive Side for U.S.
By Eric Schmitt, New York Times [January 17, 2011]
---- Pakistan’s refusal to attack militants in a notorious sanctuary on its northwest border may have created a magnet there for hundreds of Islamic fighters seeking a safe haven where they can train and organize attacks against NATO forces in Afghanistan. But theirs is a congregation in the cross hairs.
A growing number of senior United States intelligence and counterinsurgency officials say that by bunching up there, insurgents are ultimately making it easier for American drone strikes to hit them from afar. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/18/world/asia/18terror.html?hp=&pagewante...
THE WIKILEAKS LEAK – WEEK EIGHT
Sources for Cables and Media Coverage
---- WikiLeaks’ new home is at www.wikileaks.ch , courtesy of the Swiss Pirate Party. As of today, 2,628 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. 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 .
Some Comments and Analysis
Juan Cole, “ Bradley Manning and Mohamed Bouazizi,” Informed Comment [January 24, 2011]
(Video) Julian Assange in conversation with John Pilger, Znet [January 21, 2011] – 68 minutes http://www.zcommunications.org/julian-assange-in-conversation-with-john-...
John Pilger, “WikiLeaks Defies the “War on Hi-Tech Terror,”” The New Statesman [January 21, 2011] http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/01/21-9
(Video) “WikiLeaks, the internet and democracy,” A 2-hour panel discussion sponsored by Real News Network, including Daniel Ellsberg [January 22, 2011] http://warincontext.org/2011/01/22/wikileaks-the-internet-and-democracy/
Greg Mitchell, “ Why WikiLeaks Matters,” [January 13, 2011] http://www.thenation.com/print/article/157729/why-wikileaks-matters
Glenn Greenwald, “ Obama officials caught deceiving about WikiLeaks,” Salon [January 19, 2011]
John Pilger, ”The War on WikiLeaks,” Antiwar.com [January 14, 2011]
MIDDLE EAST/NORTH AFRICAN CRISES
As noted at the top of this mailing, the revolution in Tunisia and now the release of the Palestinian Authority’s negotiating papers have explosive potential. Dramatic changes in North Africa and the Middle east, especially as they destabilize “moderate” Arab regimes, could affect US policy in the region and thus affect it’s strategy/war-fighting ability in Afghanistan. Here are some links to these new developments.
The Palestine Papers
More than 1,600 documents obtained by Aljazeera about the Palestinian Authorities’ negotiations with Israel over the past decade reveal a PA team willing to give away a great many traditional/historic Palestinian demands (e.g. on East Jerusalem or the “right of return”). They also reveal the United States acting as anything but an “honest broker.” Some commentators think the damage to the Fatah faction (Arafat’s) of the PLO could be fatal, benefiting Hamas. The documents are available on the Aljazeera website ( www.aljazeera.net/english ), and the network is broadcasting informative video and talking heads footage all week. Additionally, The Guardian [UK] has been given the full set of documents, which is available, along with much commentary, at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/palestine-papers .
The Revolution in Tunisia
Tunisia has been one of the most reliable US allies in North Africa. For fans of revolution, the videos of the day-to-day progress are truly inspiring. 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 ) and War in Context ( www.warincontext.org ) have linked/published many good essays. One source of the Tunisian mobilization is the sky-rocketing price of basic foods; the Mike Klare article linked below shows how this will be a chronic condition in poorer countries for the foreseeable future. “Bread and democracy” demonstrations, having indigenous roots but sparked/accelerated by the events in Tunisia, have already taken place in Algeria, Jordan, and Yemen. Both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are also vulnerable, according to some of the commentators linked below.
Some background on the sources/prospects for the revolution
Laila Lalami, “Tunisia Rising,” The Nation [January 20, 2011] http://www.thenation.com/article/157897/tunisia-rising
Democracy Now! Tuesday, January 18, 2011 – whole show
Nadia Marzouki, “Tunisia’s Wall Has Fallen,” Middle East Reports [January 19, 2011] http://www.merip.org/mero/mero011911.html
“The role of Al Jazeera and the internet in the Tunisian revolution”
An NPR interview w/Mark Lynch [January 21, 2011]
Juan Cole, “New Wikileaks: US Knew Tunisian Gov. Rotten Corrupt, Supported Ben Ali Anyway,” Informed Comment [January 16, 2011] http://www.juancole.com/2011/01/new-wikileaks-us-knew-tunisian-gov-rotte...
Some larger implications
Stephen Zunes, “The United States and the Prospects for Democracy in Islamic Countries.” Foreign Policy in Focus [January 22, 2011] http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/01/22-8
Rami G. Khouri, “ Tunisia’s message to the Arab world,” The Star [Lebanon] [January 17, 2011] http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/923366--tunisia-...
Mark LeVine, “ Tunisia: How the US got it wrong.” Aljazeera [January 16, 2011]
Michael T. Klare, “The Year of Living Dangerously: Rising Commodity Prices and Extreme Weather Events Threaten Global Stability,” TomDispatch [January 24, 2011] http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175345/tomgram%3A_michael_klare%2C_resou...