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Afghanistan War Weekly: September 20, 2010
Now that the election in Afghanistan is over, the election-interpretation battle begins. More than three million people voted. Fraud was detected and reported on a very large scale. The Taliban’s military actions disrupted polling in many places. Intimidation by the Taliban and rival candidates lowered turnout significantly. The Beltway question is, “Was Saturday’s election half full or half empty?" Ordinarily the US media would support the home team by stressing long lines of voters braving threats of death to vote for democracy, and would claim that the rebels had been unsuccessful in thwarting the vote, thereby showing that Afghanistan was on the path to democracy and the sacrifices of the United States would ultimately be “worth it.”
The fact that this media message is now so feeble is another indication that the US project in Afghanistan has already been lost. As some articles linked below show clearly, both the Afghan electorate and foreign observers essentially boycotted the election, regarding it as a dangerous charade and a lost cause. The outcome of the election – a Lower House uncritical of Karzai and his cronies – will be yet another PR problem for the Obama team when it comes to selling the legitimacy of Karzai’s government and the prospect of things “getting better” anytime soon. Not surprisingly, polls show US support for the war falling slowly, and support in Europe falling rapidly.
As the long-awaited, long-stalled “offensive” in Kandahar begins, questions arise about “Who is controlling the war?” Below, Gareth Porter proposes that the US military managers, Petraeus et al., have blindsided Obama with promises of success and the start of a “drawdown” by next summer, promises that they neither can, nor plan to, keep. Will Obama stand up to the Pentagon’s insistent requests for more troops as the 2012 election approaches? Has Afghanistan become the Generals’ war?
Other pieces of good/useful reading below include stories about a dramatic development in the ”drone protesters’ trial” in Nevada; an update on the rogue US military assassination squad; a deeper look at the Kabul Bank scandal, notes about the impact of the Pakistan floods on the military’s anti-insurgent campaign; some interesting news about US-Taliban negotiations; two very interesting pieces about the deeper roots of the uprising in Kashmir; and our weekly, updated section on “useful facts about the war.”
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 (www.unitedforpeace.org) and War is a Crime (www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww).
----Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
Banning Slaughter: Death By Remote
By Kathy Kelly, Counterpunch.org [September 14, 2010]
---- The United States isn’t at war with Pakistan. U.S. leaders repeatedly stress that Pakistan is our ally. Nevertheless, U.S. operated drones are used for targeted killing in North and South Waziristan. The Pentagon claims that the drone attacks are an ideal strategy for eliminating Al Qaeda members. Yet in the name of bolstering security for U.S. people, the U.S. is institutionalizing assassination as a valid policy. Does this make us safer? With the usage of drones, the U.S. populace can experience even greater distance and less accountability because U.S. armed forces and CIA agents, invisible to the U.S. populace, can assassinate targets without ever leaving a U.S. base. Corporations that manufacture the drones and technicians who design them celebrate cutting edge technology and rising profits. http://counterpunch.org/kelly09142010.html
Digging Deeper into Wikileaks Afghan Files
By Nick Turse, Asia Times [September 17, 2010]
---- In addition to insights into Afghan activism and drug use, American military methods, propaganda and cultural faux pas as well as the Afghan response to them, there's much more to be learned from the Wikileaks Afghan War Diary. While the Guardian did an admirable job in focusing on civilian casualties catalogued in the files, there is still a great deal of material in the document dump about the everyday suffering of ordinary Afghans and the day-in-day-out hardship of living under foreign occupation - subjects that have been much neglected despite almost a decade of news coverage of the American war in Afghanistan. This is the real secret story of the war that, even at this late date, has yet to be investigated in any exhaustive or comprehensive sense. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/09/17-
A Planet at War With Itself
By John Vidal, The Guardian [UK] [September 14, 2010]
---- Sala Khan Khel, 40 miles outside Kabul, looks like a rural paradise at harvest time. Women and children play behind the high mud walls of the old houses, the men thresh the wheat, teenagers pick walnuts and the water coming straight off the snowy mountains high above the village gurgles through the irrigation canals. A shortage of clean water and no proper sanitation are two of the most severe problems affecting refugees living in the Parwan-e-duo slum, Kabul, Afghanistan. But the rural idyll hides conflict, deep poverty and growing environmental degradation. Most families here say they have been uprooted by war in the last 20 years, and that climate change means the seasons have become shorter. Also, the population has grown so much there's not enough land to grow food for everyone. On top of that, they say, the water is polluted and is now a source of conflict. http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/09/14
THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
Obama envisions no major changes in Afghan strategy
By Karen DeYoung, Washington Post [September 18, 2010]
---- Despite discouraging news from Afghanistan and growing doubts in Congress and among the American public, the Obama administration has concluded that its war strategy is sound and that a December review, once seen as a pivotal moment, is unlikely to yield any major changes. This resolve arises amid a flurry of reports from outside experts and former officials who are convinced that the administration's path in Afghanistan is unsustainable and its objectives are unclear. Lawmakers from both parties are insisting that they be given a bigger say in assessing the war's trajectory. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/17/AR201009...
The Petraeus Bait and Switch
By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [September 19, 2010]
---- In interviews in recent weeks, Gen. David Petraeus has been taking a line on what will happen in mid-2011 that challenges President Barack Obama’s intention to begin a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by that date. This new Petraeus line is the culmination of a brazen bait-and-switch maneuver on the war by the most powerful military commander in modern U.S. history. It represents a new stage in the process by which Petraeus, abetted by his allies in the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, has appropriated much of the power over decisions on war policy that rightly belongs to the commander in chief. …The Petraeus bait and switch is a yet another fire-bell in the night – a warning that Petraeus has gained unprecedented power over U.S. war policy. By drawing Obama into a deepening of U.S. military involvement in an unnecessary and self-destructive war on the false pretense that he supported Obama’s policy and then turning on that November 2009 policy once he became commander, Petraeus is acting as though he intends to prevent the president from carrying out the policy on which he had decided. Unless Petraeus’s bait and switch is decisively rebuffed by the White House, the country’s descent into de facto military control over war policy will continue and accelerate. http://original.antiwar.com/porter/2010/09/19/the-petraeus-bait-and-switch/
5 U.S. Soldiers Accused of Killing Afghan Civilians
By William Yardley and Eric Schmitt, New York Times [September 20, 2010]
---- The brutal, premeditated killings of three Afghan civilians — allegedly at the hands of American soldiers — are expected to be detailed in military court near here this fall, potentially undermining efforts by the United States as it tries to win support among Afghans in fighting the Taliban. Army officials say the Army’s senior leadership in Washington is watching the cases closely, fearing that the negative publicity any hearings will generate as well as photos and other evidence might anger Afghan civilians while the United States is trying to win support for a counterinsurgency campaign against the Taliban. They worry the cases could be a propaganda boon for the Taliban. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/us/20soldiers.html?ref=world
See also: Craig Whitlock, “Members of U.S. platoon in Afghanistan accused of killing civilians for sport,” Washington Post [September 18, 2010] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/18/AR201009...
A Peace Movement Victory in Court
By John Dear, CommonDreams [September 18, 2010]
---- "Fourteen anti-war activists may have made history today in a Las Vegas courtroom when they turned a misdemeanor trespassing trial into a possible referendum on America's newfound taste for remote-controlled warfare." That's how one Las Vegas newspaper summed up our stunning day in court on Tuesday, when fourteen of us stood trial for walking on to Creech Air Force Base last year on April 9, 2009 to protest the U.S. drones. … [At the conclusion, defendant] Brian Terrell stood up and delivered a short, spontaneous closing statement. It was one of the most moving speeches I have ever heard. As he finished, Brian burst into tears and sat down. Many in the courtroom wept. Then Judge Jansen stunned us by announcing that he needed three months to "think about all of this" before he could render a verdict. He marked twenty five years on the bench just the day before, he said, and this was his first trespassing case and he wanted to make the best decision he could. There is more at stake here than the usual meaning of trespassing, he noted. The prosecutors were clearly frustrated and disappointed. With that, we were assigned a court date of January 27, 2011 to hear the verdict. As he left, he thanked the fourteen of us and the audience, and then seemed to give a benediction: "Go in peace!" Everyone applauded. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/09/18-0
U.S. contractor accused of fraud still winning big Afghan projects
By Marisa Taylor and Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers [September 18, 2010]
---- On July 31, 2006, an employee of The Louis Berger Group, a contractor handling some of the most important U.S. rebuilding projects in Afghanistan, handed federal investigators explosive evidence that the company was intentionally and systematically overbilling American taxpayers. Neither the whistle-blower’s computer disk full of incriminating documents nor a trail of allegations of waste, fraud and shoddy construction, however, prevented Louis Berger from continuing to reap hundreds of millions of dollars in federal contracts. http://www.kansascity.com/2010/09/18/2233583/us-contractor-accused-of-fr...
USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
---- 56 US soldiers and 24 soldiers from other Coalition countries were killed in August, and 13 US soldiers and 15 soldiers from other Coalition countries have been killed so far in September. The total number of US deaths in Afghanistan is now 1,282, and the total number of Coalition deaths is 2,086. The number of US soldiers wounded in July 2010 was 576, the highest monthly total so far. The total US wounded since the war began to 7,266. To learn more go to www.icasualties.org.
---- Between January 1 and June 30, 2010, 1,271 civilians were killed and 1,997 injured. This brings the total number of civilians killed since January 1, 2007 to 7,324. Between January 1 and June 30, 2010, 214 members of the Afghan National Army were killed, bringing the total killed since January 1, 2007 to 1,043. Between January 1 and June 30, 2010, 289 members of the Afghan National Police were killed, bringing the total killed since January 1, 2007 to 2,340. From Susan G. Chesser, “Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians,” Congressional Research Service [August 11, 2010] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41084.pdf, where the sources for the figures can be found.
---- According to a study by the New America Foundation, the United States has launched 62 drone strikes in northwest Pakistan this year, bringing the total number of such strikes since 2004 to 158, of which 109 were launched by the Obama administration. The study states that between 1,087 and 1,679 people have been killed, according to “reliable press accounts.” Of these, the study estimates that two-thirds of the deaths have been “militants” and about one-third (311 to 530) were “civilians.” The report states that the number of civilians killed in 2010 is between 26 and 55. NB the “estimating” and labeling is usually done by local government and/or military personnel; local civilians often give much higher numbers for civilian deaths. The study can be read at http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones.
The Cost of the War
---- According to the website www.costofwar.com, expenditures on the Afghanistan war have reached $334.7 billion, and the total for both wars is $1.082 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
These are the most recent polls from the useful Wikipedia site, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_public_opinion_on_the_war_in_...
---- A New York Times/CBS News poll wasa conducted on September 10-14, 2010. The majority 54% of Americans think the U.S. should not be involved in Afghanistan, while only 38% think it should. 55% of Americans think things are going badly for the U.S. in Afghanistan, while 38% believe things are going well. The poll results represented the highest level of opposition to the U.S. war, and lowest level of support, measured by the poll in the 5 times the question was asked beginning one year ago.
---- A CBS News poll was conducted August 20-24, 2010.The plurality 48% of Americans oppose U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, while only 43% think their country should be involved in that nation. In the continued partisan split, the majority of Republicans think the U.S. should be involved in that country, while the majority of Democrats think their country should not be involved there. 52% of Americans think things are going badly for the U.S. in Afghanistan, while 37% believe things are going well.
Americans Want Smaller World Role
By Jim Lobe, Antiwar.com [September 17, 2010]
---- Battered by two lengthy wars and a two-year-old economic crisis, the U.S. public appears increasingly reconciled to Washington’s playing a declining global role in the coming years, according to the latest in a biennial series of major surveys released here Thursday by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA). The public also appears increasingly doubtful about the benefits of economic globalization and skeptical that Islamic and Western civilizations can live together peacefully, compared to how it felt in 2002, according to the survey of nearly 2,600 respondents who were interviewed in June. http://original.antiwar.com/lobe/2010/09/16/americans-want-smaller-world...
Only Americans Remain Upbeat About Afghanistan: Poll
From Outlook Afghanistan [September 16, 2010]
---- Confidence in Afghanistan's prospects is crumbling in the West, with only Americans showing prevailing optimism about stabilizing the war-ravaged country, a poll showed Wednesday. While 51 per cent of Americans said they were confident that Afghanistan could be stabilised in the coming years, down from 56 per cent in 2009, Europeans were far less upbeat with only 23 per cent sharing that view. The European figure, down from 32 per cent last year, was based on an average of opinion polls in 11 European Union member states.http://www.outlookafghanistan.net/news_Pages/Main%20news3.html#03
THE SEPTEMBER 19TH ELECTION
Violence, fraud and cronyism keep millions away from Afghan poll
By Julius Cavendish, The Independent [UK] [September 20, 2010]
---- Almost as quickly as the international community rushed to praise Saturday's parliamentary elections in Afghanistan, complaints of widespread irregularities began pouring in, echoing the protracted wrangle over vote-rigging that returned President Hamid Karzai to power last year. Representatives from the US, UN and EU hailed the bravery of Afghans for heading to the polls on Saturday despite pre-election violence and Taliban attacks on polling day that killed 18 people. However evidence was mounting yesterday of polling stations opening late, intimidation of voters, and the widespread use of fake voting cards. There were also reports that there were not enough ballot papers and that children had cast ballots. But the courage of many ordinary Afghans notwithstanding, what the evidence suggests so far is that power is disbursed across Afghanistan not by universal suffrage but through coercion, bullying, bribery, cronyism, patronage and fear. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/violence-fraud-and-cronyism...
(Video) Inside Story - Afghanistan: Credible elections?
From AlJazeeraEnglish, [September 20, 2010] – 24 minutes
---- Votes are being counted in Afghanistan after the country held its parliamentary elections over the weekend. But do Afghanistan's people believe in democracy? Guests include Peter Galbraith, fired by the UN for his strong criticisms of the last election, and no less critical about this one. http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish#p/u/4/grQInLBHYOA
Ballot-stuffing witnessed amid troubled Afghanistan vote
By Anand Gopal, Christian Science Monitor [September 18, 2010]
---- When campaign aide Qais showed up at a polling center in the troubled province of Wardak Saturday morning, he found that guards would not allow him to enter. When he tried to peer through the windows, he found that workers had erected huge cardboard sheets to block the view. Inside, election workers were busy stuffing ballots on behalf of a candidate named Hajji Wahedullah Kalimzai. Although only about 20 men had come to vote thus far, hundreds of ballots were being marked in favor of Mr. Kalimzai.
It was a scene repeated throughout the province. The elections in Wardak were marred by widescale fraud, violence, and an extremely low turnout, casting doubt on the legitimacy of the new class of lawmakers that will represent the province. “There were almost no elections in Wardak,” said Ghulam Hassan, a local elder. “The votes were stolen right in front of our eyes.” The turn of events in Wardak likely represents a larger trend in a number of restive areas throughout Afghanistan, where Taliban threats limit the ability of election monitoring teams to visit many polling centers.
See also: Elisabeth Bumiller, “In Marja, Violence and Intimidation Depress Vote,” New York Times [September 18, 2010] http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/18/in-marja-violence-and-intimida... Matthias Gebauer and Hasnain Kazim, “Election Angst: Survey Shows Afghans Are Expecting an Unfair Vote,” Der Spiegel http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,718053,00.html; Rod Nordland, “Afghan Votes Come Cheap, and Often in Bulk,” New York Times [September 17, 2010]
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/18/world/asia/18vote.html; and Matthew Green, “Afghans lose faith as fraud claims hit poll,” Financial Times [September 18, 2010] http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/4be3429a-c32c-11df-9a83-00144feab49a.html
THE WAR IN KABUL
Dozens injured in Kabul protest over Koran-burning threat
By Laura King, Los Angeles Times [September 15, 2010]
---- A violent protest that left dozens of people injured in the Afghan capital Wednesday points to concerted efforts by the Taliban to keep alive the controversy over an American pastor's discarded plans to burn copies of the Koran, Afghan authorities said. White Taliban flags flew above a crowd of about 800 people who burned tires, shouted anti-American slogans and pelted security forces with stones. Police fired assault rifles into the air to break up the early-morning protest on the outskirts of Kabul. The organizing of a protest in the capital itself appears to mark an escalation from previous demonstrations, most of which have taken place in rural areas. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-protest-20100...
See also: Rod Nordland, “2 Afghans Are Killed in Protests Over Koran,” New York Times [September 17, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/17/world/asia/17koran.html
Kabul Bank crisis followed U.S. push for cleanup
By Andrew Higgins, Washington Post [September 17, 2010]
---- Interviews with Afghan and American officials as well as Kabul Bank's principal shareholders make clear that the United States played a key role in persuading Afghan authorities to finally rein in Kabul Bank at the end of August, a move that many Afghan businessmen viewed as long overdue but which also triggered a run on the bank. The current mess and months of earlier indecision about how to deal with Kabul Bank illustrate the perils created by a deeply distrustful but mutually dependent relationship between Washington and Kabul. What pushed Kabul Bank to the brink of collapse, and why did it take so long for both Afghan and American officials to try to get a grip on a critical financial institution whose unorthodox practices had been an open secret in Afghanistan for years? http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/17/AR201009...
See also: Alissa J. Rubin, et al., “Regulators Ignored Warnings About Afghan Bank,” New York Times, [September 19, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/world/19kabul.html?ref=world
U.S. Shifts Afghan Graft Plan
By Adam Entous, et al., New York Times, [September 20, 2010]
---- Critics said the administration is backing off the fight against high-level corruption because it lacks the political will to confront Mr. Karzai and risks sending inconsistent messages that undercut U.S. standing and underline its shrinking war aims. The debate over corruption is tacit acknowledgment that the administration's approach to combating corruption in the central government wasn't working. One U.S. official who works with Afghan investigators said he believed that the idea of drawing a distinction between corruption in the Karzai administration and corruption at the local level was a "false dichotomy." The graft is all part of the same continuum, the official said. "To ignore what the top people are doing is to say to the small timers that it is OK," the official said. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870441690457550181026176503...
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ARMED OPPOSITION
Taliban soften as talks gain speed
By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times [September 15, 2010]
---- Asia Times Online has learned that the back channel talks have to date resulted in the Taliban agreeing to issue a policy statement on their relationship with al-Qaeda. They will clarify that they provided protection to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in line with Afghan traditions of being hospitable. The Taliban will spell out their position of decrying international terrorism and of not supporting violence in Muslim countries. Above all, they will clearly state that the Taliban are an indigenous movement struggling against foreign occupation forces with no agenda outside Afghan boundaries. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LI15Df02.html
Can the US Negotiate Peace in Afghanistan?
By Robert Naiman, CommonDreams [September 17, 2010]
---- A major contribution of the "inside experts" Afghanistan Study Group report released last week to spur Washington debate towards de-escalating the war at the next fork in the road is that its very first recommendation is this:
1. Emphasize power-sharing and political inclusion.
The U.S. should fast-track a peace process designed to decentralize power within Afghanistan and encourage a power-sharing balance among the principal parties.
The fact that this is a commonplace among knowledgeable people and the fact that this is already Administration policy - at least at the level of rhetoric - do not mean that insisting that the U.S. must aggressively promote national political reconciliation in Afghanistan is an irrelevant activity. On the contrary, making national political reconciliation the central political goal of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, around which all other policy is organized, as opposed to the mere rhetorical salute that exists today, is the central U.S. policy change needed to end the war and bring the troops home. http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/09/17-12
The Case for a New Way Forward in Afghanistan
Matthew Hoh, Director of the Afghanistan Study Group, Huffington Post [September 14, 2010]
TRAINING THE AFGHAN ARMED FORCES
U.S., NATO Look to Use Local Police in Afghanistan
By Juliann E. Barnes and Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal [September 15, 2010]
---- U.S. and NATO military commanders across Afghanistan are preparing plans for village-based defense forces that will receive arms and funds in a bid to beat back Taliban insurgents in rural towns where President Hamid Karzai's government has scant control. The Pentagon has requested congressional approval to divert an initial $35 million from the budget for the Afghan security forces to form the new local police groups. Critics say local militias could pose a security threat without careful monitoring. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870428510457549153272943679...
THE WAR ON THE GROUND
Worsening Outlook in Afghanistan
Gilles Dorronsoro, Carnegie Endowment [September 9, 2010]
---- Security in Afghanistan is clearly deteriorating. When I arrived in Afghanistan this summer, I didn’t anticipate a major change in the safety conditions since my last trip in April. Even with the surge of U.S. troops, I expected things to have stayed mainly the same within the short window of time between trips. I was wrong. There was a palpable regression. The conditions have only gotten worse since the new U.S. counterinsurgency strategy was rolled out.
Indicators of Worsening Security in Afghanistan
[FB - Interactive maps, interesting and useful.]
U.S. Takes Over Fight in Helmand
By Michael M. Phillps, Wall Street Journal, [September 13, 2010]
---- After four bloody and frustrating years trying to secure the most dangerous town in Helmand Province, the British are pulling out with, at best, a draw. Over the coming months, U.K. forces will leave Sangin and turn it over to the U.S. to finish the job. Neither British nor U.S. officers describe it this way aloud, but it's hard to avoid the conclusion that U.S. Marines are being sent in to complete what the undermanned British couldn't, in a province once known as Helmandshire for the U.K.'s dominance here. "The concentration of force is something we haven't been able to bring in here," says Royal Marine Maj. Aldeiy Alderson, chief of staff of Combined Force Sangin. Almost one-third of the 335 British troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001 have died in this single town of 20,000 people. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870485510457546934014048641...
THE KANDAHAR OFFENSIVE
U.S. begins long-awaited assault on Taliban stronghold
Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers, [September 15, 2010]
---- U.S. forces launched a major operation in southern Afghanistan early Wednesday in the district that gave birth to the Taliban movement, in what could be one of the most important offensives of the war.
Thousands of U.S. and Afghan troops encircled and swooped into a belt of lush farm land in Zhari district, a sanctuary and staging post for the Taliban just west of Kandahar city known to foreign soldiers as “the heart of darkness.” Key insurgent-held villages such as Mukuan, Pashmul and Singesar are the target, areas essentially untouched by coalition forces since they entered Afghanistan in 2001. The government has minimal presence in Zhari, with the new district governor, Karim Jan, against whom there was an assassination attempt last week working out of a coalition military base with just three staff. Jan needs more elders to come forward to join him, said Col Arthur A. Kandarian, brigade commander for the 101st Airborne. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/09/15/100588/us-launches-major-assault-o...
See also: Saeed Shah, “U.S.-led forces meet little resistance in Kandahar operation,” McClatchy Newspapers, [September 15, 2010] http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/09/15/100641/us-led-forces-meet-little-r... Karin Brulliard and Greg Jaffe, “U.S.-led troops push into rural Kandahar,”
Washington Post [September 18, 2010] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/18/AR201009... and Todd Pitman, “US forces advance in Taliban green belt stronghold,” Associated Press [September 15, 2010] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100915/ap_on_re_as/as_afghan_green_belt
Doubling of Night Raids Backfired in Kandahar
By Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service [September 15, 2010[
---- During a round of media interviews last month, Gen. David Petraeus released totals for the alleged results of nearly 3,000 "night raids" by Special Operations Forces (SOF) units over the 90 days from May through July: 365 "insurgent leaders" killed or captured, 1,355 Taliban "rank and file" fighters captured, and 1,031 killed. Those figures were widely reported as highlighting the "successes" of SOF raids in at least hurting the Taliban. But a direct correlation between the stepped up night raids in Kandahar province and a sharp fall-off in the proportion of IEDs being turned in by the local population indicates that the raids backfired badly, bolstering the Taliban’s hold on the population in Kandahar province.
PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Pakistan Relief Efforts
By Yasmin Qureshi and Abira Ashfaq, The Progressive Voices [September 19, 2010]
---- More than 20 million people are impacted by the floods in Pakistan and more than 1.2 million homes destroyed. The media has highlighted a growing concern that the floods could strengthen militant groups that are engaged in relief efforts. However, the Pakistani military is in a greater position to benefit, particularly in the absence of a strong democratic leadership as their rescue efforts are glorified over the work of progressive organizations, and even the government. It is for these reasons the international community must support the work of progressive grassroots Pakistani groups. …Instead of an unceasing focus on the corruption of top level bureaucrats and politicians, there is a need to build grassroots institutions. http://www.zcommunications.org/pakistan-relief-efforts-by-yasmin-qureshi
Floods Stunt Pakistani Fight Against Insurgents
By Carlotta Gall, New York Times [September 13, 2010]
---- The destruction caused by the recent floods and the huge relief effort undertaken since by the Pakistani Army have forced it to alter plans to combat Taliban and Qaeda militants, Pakistani military officials here said. Troops who have been fighting Islamist militants in the Swat Valley for the last two years will have to stay here for six months longer than planned, army officers here said. While the changes do not appear to involve any major retrenchment in the nation’s counterinsurgency strategy, they are the first sign of the strain the countrywide flooding has put on Pakistan’s armed forces, which are overstretched in dealing with a virulent insurgency. The Pakistani military has already delayed operations against North Waziristan, the central hub of militancy and Al Qaeda, because it says its forces are overextended.http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/14/world/asia/14swat.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&pagewanted=print&adxnnlx=1284920602-MAOlanBthpdP/cLLim4d7A
The Uprising in Kashmir
Kashmir: Youth in revolt
By Peter Goodspeed, National Post [Canada] [September 18, 2010]
---- It is being called a “cyber-intifada” — a violent rebellion in which youths, armed only with stones and cellphone cameras, are challenging Indian rule in the Himalayan valley of Kashmir. Day after day for three months, thousands of angry, disenchanted young people have clashed with heavily armed Indian security forces, taunting the soldiers with chants of “India Go!” and “Freedom for Kashmir!,” while bombarding them with stones and insults.The soldiers regularly respond with volleys of tear gas and rifle fire.The youths record and photograph the clashes, posting images of the dead, sobbing mothers and funerals on Facebook and other websites.The deadly cycle of rage and retaliation began June 11, when Tufail Mattoo, 17, died after being hit in the head with a tear gas canister as he walked home from a tutoring centre in Srinagar. By this week, Kashmir’s summer of rage had claimed 96 lives. http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/09/18/battle-for-kashmir-youth-in-revo...
(Video) Inside Story - Taking on the Kashmir issue? = 24 minutes
From AlJazeeraEnglish [September 16, 2010]
---- Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister, said that dialogue is the only way forward to defuse the ongoing tension in Kashmir. The Indian government is under growing pressure to scrap emergency law in this troubled region and address the population's many woes. So, is India prepared to take on the Kashmir issue? And what are the strategic risks in a highly volatile region? http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish#p/u/48/XmJOutQc914