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Afghanistan War Weekly: September 27, 2010
Several of the most important indicators of the success of the US “counterinsurgency” campaign in Afghanistan crumbled still further last week. The parliamentary election, intended to display to US and European audiences the legitimacy of Afghanistan’s government, has been revealed to be as corrupt as the recent presidential election, with an even higher level of violence. President Karzai’s older brother has been indicted for corruption in a New York federal court. And newly released figures show the very high death rate of US-trained Afghanistan police, thus discouraging recruitment and raising questions about the likelihood that Afghanistan will be able to provide its own security in the near future.
The publication of Bob Woodward’s book, Obama’s Wars, has few revelations beyond catty junior high school gossip, but news about a previously unknown assassination squad and more details about how the Generals pressured Obama to authorize the “surge” have brought renewed criticism of the war managers. Andrew Bacevich is among the analysts linked below.
Ongoing stories from Pakistan about the escalation of drone attacks and the disasters to come from the recent floods are complemented this week with stories stemming from the conviction of US-trained scientist Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. This case is truly weird, now compounded by a sentence of 86 years for (allegedly) pointing a rifle at CIA interrogators. The case has led to large anti-US demonstrations in Pakistan. Several good articles linked below explore these events.
The assault against the Taliban in Kandahar seems to be really, really underway this week, after a string of postponements and hesitations. News stories about firefights show both cases of sustained battles and others in which the Taliban simply leaves the area under assault. There are some excellent stories about on-the-ground fighting linked below.
In addition to the “featured essays” linked just below, I especially encourage you to look at the several articles about negotiations with the armed opposition; the news that civilian contractor deaths are exceeding the casualties taken by soldiers; the excellent series from Stars and Stripes (part 1 linked below) about the war being fought by a battalion of the 101st Airborne; and the 60 Minutes segment on the attempt of a US force to hold 10 square miles of territory.
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)
The Future’s Not Ours -- and That’s Good News
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch
---- Here was the polling question you’re least likely to see discussed in your local newspaper or by Washington-based pundits: “Do you think America is in a state of decline, or do you feel that this is not the case?” Sixty-five percent of respondents chose as their answer: “in a state of decline.” Meanwhile, Afghan war commander General David Petraeus was interviewed last week by Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Asked whether the American war in Afghanistan, almost a decade old, was finally on the right counterinsurgency track and could go on for another nine or ten years, Petraeus agreed that we were just at the beginning of the process, that the “clock” was only now ticking, and that we needed “realistic expectations” about what could happen and how fast. http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175298/
Newly Disclosed Documents Shed More Light on Early Taliban Offers, Pakistan Role
By Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal [September 20, 2010]
---- U.S. government documents …shed some additional light on talks with the Taliban prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, including with regard to the repeated Taliban offers to hand over Osama bin Laden, and the role of Pakistan before and after the attacks. The threshold of evidence required for waging a war is apparently much lower than that to issue an indictment in a court of law. http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/09/20/newly-disclosed-documents...
"Afghaniscam": Is US "Aid" Making Things Worse?
By Robert Naiman, t r u t h o u t [September 22, 2010]
---- Is US "aid" to Afghanistan doing more harm than good? If so, is more harm than good likely to change or persist? If more harm than good is likely to persist, should we not move decisively in the direction of doing much less in terms of aid specifically? This is a key question raised by Linda Polman's new book, "The Crisis Caravan: What's Wrong With Humanitarian Aid?" As Polman recounts, there is a longstanding debate in the aid community over whether some major Western aid interventions have done more harm than good, and in the examples that she recounts, the presence of armed conflict - a frequent cause of humanitarian disasters - and the question of whether Western aid actually contributed to the armed conflict which brought about the humanitarian disaster to which the aid was supposedly responding, make a regular appearance. http://www.truth-out.org/linda-polman-afghaniscam-is-us-aid-making-thing...
"Risk Free" Warfare? When Machines Kill
By Joanne Mariner, Counterpunch [September 22, 2010]
----What does it mean for a machine to "decide" to kill someone? The international trend toward warfare using unmanned weapons systems has accelerated rapidly over the past decade. Government reliance on armed drones, in particular, has expanded dramatically. At present, more than 40 countries have access to drone technology, and a sizeable number of them, including Israel, the UK, Russia, Turkey, China, India, Iran, and France, either have equipped or are seeking to equip their drones with laser-guided missiles. And drones seem to be just the beginning. Unmanned ground vehicles—robots with evocative names like the Crusher, the Raptor, and the Guardian—may also be equipped with weapons in the future. Already, South Korea has employed armed robotic sentries to protect its northern border. http://counterpunch.org/mariner09222010.html
THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
Prisoners of War: Bob Woodward and All the President’s Men (2010 Edition)
By Andrew J. Bacevich
---- Obama’s Wars contains hints of another story, the significance of which seems to have eluded Woodward. The theme of that story is not whether Dick likes Jane, but whether the Constitution remains an operative document. The Constitution explicitly assigns to the president the role of commander-in-chief. Responsibility for the direction of American wars rests with him. According to the principle of civilian control, senior military officers advise and execute, but it's the president who decides. That's the theory, at least. Bluntly put, the Pentagon gamed the process to exclude any possibility of Obama rendering a decision not to its liking. http://www.tomdispatch.com/archive/175300/
See also: “Woodward Book Says Afghanistan Divided White House,” New York Times [September 22, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/22/world/asia/22policy.html?ref=worl; and Bob Woodward, “ Military thwarted president seeking choice in Afghanistan,” Washington Post [September 27, 2010] [FB – This is the first of three articles adapted from "Obama's Wars" by Bob Woodward] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/26/AR201009...
(Video) Riz Khan - Richard Holbrooke
From AlJazeeraEnglish [September 22, 2010] – 23 minutes
The US' war in Afghanistan has entered its ninth year, making it the longest in US history. Now, as the US triples its ground forces, we ask Richard Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan: What does the US hope to achieve and how long will it stay?
... (more info)
USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
---- 56 US soldiers and 24 soldiers from other Coalition countries were killed in August, and 35 US soldiers and 14 soldiers from other Coalition countries have been killed so far in September. The total number of US deaths in Afghanistan is now 1,304, and the total number of Coalition deaths is 2,107. 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 the Afghanistan Ministry of the Interior, during the past six months 1,119 civilians were killed and 2,473 were wounded, while 959 police were killed and 2,473 were wounded. The Ministry claimed 4,012 insurgent attacks during the six-month period. Also, 3,098 insurgents were killed, 2,800 were arrested, and 632 were wounded. [FB - The “killed” to “wounded” insurgent ratio raises some questions.] http://www.juancole.com/2010/09/afghan-villagers-demonstrate-against-us-...
---- According to a study by the New America Foundation, the United States has launched 75 drone strikes in northwest Pakistan this year, bringing the total number of such strikes since 2004 to 175. The study states that between 1,149 and 1,758 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 were “civilians.” The report states that the number of civilians killed in 2010 is between 26 and 59. 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 $336.8 billion, and the total for both wars is $1.086 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.
THE WAR IN KABUL
Brother of Afghan Leader Is Subject of Wiretapping
By James Risen, New York Times [September 28, 2010]
---- The National Security Agency has been conducting electronic surveillance of a brother of the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, as part of a corruption investigation into his business dealings in Afghanistan, according to United States officials. The National Security Agency’s wiretapping of Mahmoud Karzai, an older brother of President Karzai, appears to be part of a larger criminal investigation now under way by federal prosecutors in New York. While the new joint anticorruption unit in Kabul has its own wiretapping capability, the fact that the N.S.A. has been involved in conducting surveillance of Mr. Karzai underscores the secrecy and sensitivity surrounding the investigation. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/world/asia/28inquire.html?_r=1&ref=world
AFGHANISTAN’S PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
Evidence Shows Widespread Fraud in Afghan Vote
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [September 24, 2010]
---- The evidence of voter intimidation and ballot stuffing in last week’s Afghan vote has grown to almost ridiculous proportions, dwarfing even the embarrassing fraud in last year’s presidential vote. In fact the evidence now points to fraud that could be large enough to alter the results in roughly a third of the provinces in Afghanistan. Given that one in five polling locations never even opened on Saturday, ostensibly for security concerns, the level of fraud is staggering. And the efforts to curb the violence, once lauded as successful, turned out to be a complete falsehood, as the data eventually released by NATO conceded that there was actually considerable more violence than in last year’s vote. Which brings the questions of the election’s legitimacy, and by extension the legitimacy of the government. A number of lawmakers and candidates have directly accused President Hamid Karzai and his half-brother Wali or roles in the rigging of the vote for their favorite candidates, and as the counting gets under way in earnest complaints are expected to grow. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/09/24/evidence-shows-widespread-fraud-in-af...
Afghanistan elections 'more violent' than last year's presidential poll
By Jon Boone, The Guardian [UK[ [September 23, 2010]
---- The US-led coalition force in Afghanistan has conceded that last week's parliamentary elections were far more violent than it first claimed and that the country was rocked by many more insurgent attacks than during last year's presidential election. The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said there were about 100 more attacks compared with the roughly 280 attacks during last year's election. The figures are an embarrassment for the international community which cited a decrease in violence as proof of the greater capacity of the Afghan army and police to guarantee security during Saturday's election. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/23/afghanistan-election-violence
(Video) Afghan vote-rigging videos emerge
From AlJazeeraEnglish [September 26, 2010] – 3 minutes
The integrity of Afghanistan's recent parliamentary election has been plunged into fresh doubt with the emergence of amatuer videos that appear to show police officers tasked with stopping fraud allowing vote-rigging to occur. The videos, obtained by Al Jazeera, cannot be independently verified but appear to show Afghan police involvement in electoral fraud, dealing a blow to official claims that any dishonesty that occurred was the work of independent fraudstars and was not carried out on a massive scale. http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish#p/u/2/sITk_rO8taw
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ARMED OPPOSITION
Talk to the Haqqanis, before it's too late
By Tom Gregg, Foreign Policy [September 22, 2010]
---- Having spent the past six years talking with members of the network, including some of its senior members, it would appear that the Haqqani's door is currently open for talks but may soon be firmly shut. The Haqqani network is in the midst of a generational power shift from father to son, which if completed will all but rule out any future talk of peace. the very elements that have contributed to the success of Maulavi Haqqani's activities in eastern Afghanistan (and that could be used to assist in a peace process) -- his personal influence as a tribal leader, mujahideen commander and religious elder -- will be lost after he dies or passes control to Siraj. http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/09/22/talk_to_the_haqqanis_bef...
See also: Conn Hallinan, “Does the U.S. Really Want Talks With the Taliban to Succeed?” Foreign Policy in Focus [September 22, 2010] http://www.zcommunications.org/does-the-u-s-really-want-talks-with-the-t... and Robert Dreyfuss, “Afghanistan: It's Time for a Ceasefire, and Negotiations,” The Nation [September 24, 2010] http://www.thenation.com/blog/155016/afghanistan-its-time-ceasefire-and-....
Contractor Deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan Outnumber Service Member Deaths
By Rogene Fisher Jacquette, New York Times [September 23, 2010]
---- More private military contractors than uniformed service members were killed while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan between January and June of this year, marking the first time that corporations have lost more personnel on America’s battlefields than the United States military, according to ProPublica, the nonprofit investigative reporting group. More than 250 civilians working under American contractors were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the first six months of 2010, while 235 soldiers died in that same period, according to the latest report in ProPublica’s Disposable Army series. http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/p/private_m...
See also: Steven L. Schooner and Collin D. Swan, “Disposable Army: Civilian Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Contractors and the Ultimate Sacrifice” [June 2010]. The report shows that between 2001 and June 2010, contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered high casualties. For Iraq, 12, 766 were killed and 36,023 were injured. For Afghanistan, 3,444 were killed and 8,129 were injured.
TRAINING THE AFGHAN ARMED FORCES
Afghan Government: 100 Police Killed in Average Month
By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [September 26, 2010]
---- Though most reports on the struggling Afghan police force center around the failures in training or the large numbers who desert their posts after their first couple of paychecks, the latest Afghan government report centers on what a dangerous job this actually is, perhaps the biggest reason why it is so hard to fill the massive number of positions the NATO forces want filled. In the past six months in Afghanistan, the average death toll for police is about 100, with 595 killed and 1,345 wounded over that period. The job has been an extremely dangerous one, with police receiving little training and low pay to serve as what amounts to front line soldiers in an ongoing war. …Between desertions, deaths and serious injuries, NATO continues to struggle in training people to replace losses, let alone to increase the size of the force according to plans. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/09/26/afghan-govt-100-police-killed-in-aver...
THE WAR ON THE GROUND
A nervous night, then a brutal battle in unrelenting summer heat
By Dianna Cahn, Stars and Stripes [September 20, 2010]
---- For many of the men in the 2nd Battalion, 327 Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, the opening volleys of Operation Strong Eagle on June 27 marked their first foray into battle — a combat baptism meted out by an entrenched enemy. The battle would last far longer than anyone imagined, ranking as the longest and largest fight that this battalion could recall since Vietnam. It would turn young soldiers into warriors, cost men their lives and leave a newborn girl without a father. And the fight would lay bare every major challenge that U.S. troops face in the ninth year of America’s longest war: a committed enemy, a terrified local populace and wavering Afghan security forces still unable or unwilling to defend their own nation. http://www.stripes.com/a-nervous-night-then-a-brutal-battle-in-unrelenti...
(Video) A Relentless Enemy
Lara Logan, 60 Minutes [September 26, 2010] - 3 minutes
---- This report takes viewers to the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where she and her crew came under enemy fire from fighters who the U.S. military says keep coming from their sanctuary in Pakistan. http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6902810n&tag=related;photovideo
IEDs killing fewer troops in Afghanistan
By Walter Pincus, Washington Post [September 25, 2010]
---- A 30 percent rise in the planting of improvised explosive devices by Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan this year has resulted in more wounded American and coalition troops, according to newly compiled Pentagon statistics. But fewer of them are dying from the attacks. Through August, there have been 1,062 effective IED attacks against coalition forces that killed 292 and wounded 2,178 others. In the first eight months of 2009, there were only 820 such attacks that killed 322 and wounded 1,813, according to the latest figures released by the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO). Anti-IED program figures from last month show attempted IED attacks in Afghanistan dropped from their record highs in July, with the numbers of coalition forces killed and wounded from the bombs last month also falling from the previous month. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/25/AR201009...
Army Reveals Afghan Biometric ID Plan; Millions Scanned, Carded by May
By Noah Shachtman, Wired [September 24, 2010]
---- Scanning prisoners’ irises is just Step 1. In Afghanistan, local and NATO forces are amassing biometric dossiers on hundreds of thousands of cops, crooks, soldiers, insurgents and ordinary citizens. And now, with NATO’s backing, the Kabul government is putting together a plan to issue biometrically backed identification cards to 1.65 million Afghans by next May. The idea is to hinder militant movement around the country, and to keep Taliban infiltrators out of the army, NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan commander Lt. Gen. William Caldwell tells Danger Room. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/09/afghan-biometric-dragnet-could-s...
THE KANDAHAR OFFENSIVE
American and Afghan Troops Begin Combat for Kandahar
By Rod Nordland, New York Times [September 27, 2010]
---- American and Afghan troops began active combat last week in an offensive to drive the Taliban out of their strongholds surrounding the city of Kandahar, military officials said Sunday. Sixteen Americans have died in the push so far, including two killed by a roadside bomb on Sunday. The combat phase began five or six days ago in the Arghandab, Zhari and Panjwai Districts, Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, a NATO spokesman in Kabul, said, defining the current phase for the first time. “We expect hard fighting,” he said of the offensive, whose objective is to clear the Taliban from three districts to the west and south of the city. Some of the heaviest fighting has been in Zhari, where troops have been told to avoid contact with local people because of widespread hostility toward foreign forces there. Journalists from The New York Times, during a weeklong stay there, observed that every time soldiers left their bases, they were either shot at or hit with bombs, often hidden or booby-trapped. Frequently, the Taliban did not — as they normally would — stop shooting once air support arrived. Along with the military buildup has come a similar effort to increase the presence of State Department employees, along with aid contractors paid by the Americans, who would serve as stabilization teams in those areas. Although some 300 American civilian staff members have arrived in Kandahar Province, at the district levels there are only a few, mainly because of security concerns. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/world/asia/27afghan.html
See also: Miguel Marquez, “The Surge Moves Into High Gear in Kandahar,” [September 25, 2010] http://abcnews.go.com/News/surge-moves-high-gear-kandahar/story?id=11725660. (This link includes a good 3-minute video.)
Call for 'Gaza style' inquiry on Afghan deaths
Mark Townsend, The Observer [September 26, 2010]
---- A United Nations investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan should be launched to identify and prosecute individuals responsible, says a former top-ranking UN official on extrajudicial killings.
Philip Alston called for the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the "conduct of the war" in Afghanistan amid rising concern over the level of civilian casualties caused by coalition forces, including Britain, and by the Taliban. It should be modelled, he said, on the inquiry into Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip. http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2010/sep/26/afghanistan-demand-war-crimes-...
Laghman civilian deaths spark protest
By Abdul Mueed Hashm, Pajhwok Afghan News [September 25, 2010]
---- Protestors in eastern Laghman province said on Saturday civilians were also among 30 people killed in an ongoing coalition operation in the Alishang district. … However, more than 200 civilians took to the streets on Saturday afternoon, chanting slogans against NATO for killing several civilians in the inaccurate bombardment. Sharifullah, one of the protestors, claimed no militant had been killed in the operation and that all the victims were non-combatants. A resident of Alingar district, Rahmatullah, said most of those killed in the joint operation were civilians. http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2010/09/25/laghman-civilian-deaths-spark-protest
PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
As Floodwaters Recede, a Crisis Emerges
---- Two months after flooding began in the northern reaches of Pakistan, the waters of the Indus River continue to flood low-lying areas of Sindh, the country’s southernmost province. The flooding killed about 1,800 people, and more than 20 million people, or around 14 percent of the country’s population, have been affected. The United Nations estimates that 12.4 million people are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance, meaning they have no access to clean water and are living in temporary shelters. Millions do not know when they will be able to return home. A majority of the displaced are farmers, and the flooding has destroyed not only their homes but their fields, herds and livelihoods. The complexity of the situation, combined with the instability in the country, makes it the worst natural disaster the United Nations has ever responded to in its 65-year history, according to a recent report by the organization. [FB – Several excellent maps are included.]
See also: “Fatima Bhutto on the Floods in Pakistan,” Democracy Now [September 24, 2010]
The Case of Dr. Aafia Siddiui
The mystery of Dr Aafia Siddiqui
By Declan Walsh, The Guardian [UK] [November 24, 2009]
---- [FB – Excellent background story] A Pakistani neuroscientist and mother of three is to stand trial in New York for attempted murder. But shadowy questions about her life remain – including her links to al-Qaida and her five 'lost' years. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/24/aafia-siddiqui-al-qaida
(Video) US jails Pakistani scientist
From Aljazeera [September 23, 2010] – 3 minutes
---- Aafia Siddiqui, dubbed "Lady al-Qaeda" by media, gets 86 years in jail for trying to kill US officers in Afghanistan. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/09/2010923171548585802.html
The Siddiqui sentence: 86 years for pointing a weapon
By Paul Woodward, War in Context [September 24, 2010]
---- The details of a bizarre incident at an Afghan National Police facility in Ghazni, eastern Afghanistan, on July 18, 2008, are still in dispute. Even so, the woman at the center of the story will probably spend the rest of her life in jail. Without any evidence being produced that she had fired a shot from a gun she reportedly grabbed while being held under arrest, Dr Aafia Siddiqui, an MIT-educated Pakistani neuroscientist, was convicted of attempted murder in February. On Thursday, District Court Judge Richard Berman sentenced the 38-year-old to 86 years in prison. In response, protesters took to the streets in Pakistan. http://warincontext.org/2010/09/24/the-siddiqui-sentence-86-years-for-po...
See also: Chad Bray, “Judge Gives Pakistani Woman 86 Years in Attack,” Wall Street Journal [September 23, 2010] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870338420457551000051061619... and Chris McGreal and Declan Walsh, “Pakistan neuroscientist given 86 years for shooting at US agents,” The Guardian [UK] [September 23, 2010] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/sep/23/pakistan-scientist-86-years-...
The Independence Movement in Kashmir
Kashmir braces for more violence
By Jason Burke, The Guardian [September 26, 2010]
---- The troubled Indian state of Kashmir was braced for renewed violence as separatist leaders rejected a government bid to defuse mounting civil unrest. Indian ministers had pledged to work to release hundreds of young protesters arrested in recent unrest and to review the massive deployment of security forces in the disputed Himalayan territory. Syed Ali Shah Gilani, a hardline leader who has considerable authority over youths who have been rioting for several months in Kashmir, described the package of measures offered by New Delhi as "a time-gaining exercise, unrealistic and mere eyewash".
India Calls for Easing of Security in Kashmir
By Jim Yardley and Hari Kumar, New York Times [September 26, 2010]
---- The Indian government announced a major policy shift in Kashmir on Saturday, calling for the release of jailed student protesters, easing security strictures in major cities, reopening schools and universities, and offering financial compensation to the families of the more than 100 civilians killed since the restive region erupted in protests in June. …The protests have steadily escalated into a major crisis. Mr. Chidambaram said at least 108 Kashmiris had died; 194 students were in custody for throwing stones and 51 for violating the Public Safety Act, one of the special laws that grants broad purview to soldiers and security officers. Mr. Chidambaram said he would advise the state government to free the imprisoned students as well as people jailed under the Public Safety Act, making their release a seeming certainty. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/26/world/asia/26kashmir.html?ref=world
Use of Drones Way Up
C.I.A. Steps Up Drone Attacks in Pakistan to Thwart Taliban
By Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, New York Times [September 28, 2010]
---- The C.I.A. has drastically increased its bombing campaign in the mountains of Pakistan in recent weeks, American officials said. As part of its covert war in the region, the C.I.A. has launched 20 attacks with armed drone aircraft thus far in September, the most ever during a single month, and more than twice the number in a typical month. This expanded air campaign comes as top officials are racing to stem the rise of American casualties before the Obama administration’s comprehensive review of its Afghanistan strategy set for December. According to one Pakistani intelligence official, the recent drone attacks have not killed any senior Taliban or Qaeda leaders. Many senior operatives have already fled North Waziristan, he said, to escape the C.I.A. drone campaign. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/world/asia/28drones.html?_r=1&hp=&adxn...
Pakistan drone attacks kill scores
From Aljazeera/English [September 21, 2010]
---- Three strikes by US drones have killed at least 28 people in the tribal region in South Waziristan.
The first attack took place near Angor Adda along the Pakistan Afghan border. "We have reports that at least seven people, who were killed in that strike, were moved to another location in the Azam Warsak region, where a funeral was arranged and that funeral also came under attack," said Hyder. "This was the second strike." He said the US forces were apparently in "hot pursuit" of targets, and that there were also reports of a third strike that killed multiple people. Anti-drone rallies were recently held in North Waziristan, where drone attacks hit Newey Adda village in the Datta Khel area on September 12, killing at least four. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/09/2010921181212227907.html
CIA used 'illegal, inaccurate code to target kill drones'
By Chris Williams, The Register [September 24, 2010].
NATO COUNTRIES AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
British Cuts to Military Concern U.S. Officials
By Michael R. Gordon and John F. Burns, New York Times [September 23, 2010]
---- Plans by the British government to make significant cuts in defense spending have spurred concerns among American military experts about Britain’s ability to carry out its role as the United States’ most dependable ally. American and British officials said that they did not expect any cutbacks to curtail Britain’s capabilities to fight in Afghanistan over the next five years. But some American military experts question whether the British military will be capable of undertaking future ground operations that are as demanding as those in Afghanistan or to carry out simultaneous operations, including risky humanitarian missions, effectively. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/world/europe/24allies.html?ref=world
See also: Andy Bloxham, “Britain tells US 'we cannot fight another Afghanistan,’” The Telegraph [UK] [September 24, 2010] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/defence/8021906/Brit... and John Burns, “Britain’s Fourth Afghan War, Through the Lens of Three Others,” [September 24, 2010] http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/25/britains-fourth-afghan-war-thr...