You are herecontent / Afghanistan War Weekly: September 6, 2010
Afghanistan War Weekly: September 6, 2010
Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan threatens to destabilize the US war strategy. Afghanistan’s high-profile corruption scandals exited Earth-orbit this week with the meltdown of the Kabul Bank. Itself a case study of world-class kleptocracy, the scandal’s victims will be mostly the middle-class and state employees who form the core of whatever support President Karzai has among ordinary citizens. The corruption and banking scandals also threaten the Karzai’s support from the US political and military elite. Presumably we have seen only the tip of this iceberg, with more revelations to come.
The corrupt Karzai regime will certainly test the skills of the US mainstream media over the next ten days, as Afghanistan’s voters prepare to elect a new parliament on September 18. The media will be hard-pressed to deliver words and images showing the situation in Afghanistan to be “improving” and the US-installed political leadership to be somehow “legitimate.” As last year’s presidential election fared so poorly by these standards, a clear election disaster could be a straw bending the camel’s back, leading to a further loss of support for the war by the US elite. But as noted in some detail below, the US media has risen to this kind of challenge before, and may be able to do it again.
The flood-related chaos in Pakistan is no less threatening to US interests. The floods, apparently the most serious on record, fall on a country already burdened with extreme poverty and a history of military coups. The United States appears determined to continue to use Pakistan as a war-making platform and a target for drone strikes, despite the flood damage, impending epidemics, and prospects for famine in years to come.
These crises are illustrated/documented by essays/articles linked below. 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 (www.unitedforpeace.org) and War is a Crime (www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww).
----Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)
Understanding The Taliban
By Jonathan Steele, London Review of Books [Sept. 9, 2010]
---- After 1996 journalists rarely got visas to Afghanistan, until the Taliban lost power in 2001. Since they re-emerged to start their insurgency against the US-led intervention, not one top mullah has met the press. … Have the Taliban changed in the decade since they lost office? Is there a neo-Taliban, as some suggest? What of the younger generation of field commanders who lead today’s resistance to the Americans and British? Are they in regular touch with Mullah Omar and do they answer to him in any practical sense, either in military strategy or in their political objectives? Above all, is there room for compromise between the Taliban, President Karzai and the Tajik and Uzbek leaders who surround him in Kabul so that, if the US withdraws in the next few years, a power-sharing government can have a chance of lasting? http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n17/jonathan-steele/diary
(Video) People & Power - Million dollar militia
From AlJazeeraEnglish [September 1, 2010] - 24 minutes
– The US “buys” the Shinwari tribe in Nangarhar province (eastern Afghanistan). A film by Rick Rowley. http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish#p/u/38/LA9D--Akmsc
Coming Nuclear Flashpoint
By Michael Scheuer, The Diplomat [August 30, 2010]
---- If the West has had any success in Afghanistan, it has been in encouraging India to make a massive investment there of economic aid, infrastructure projects and national prestige. New Delhi is the largest regional investor in the country, and ranks second among all donors. With the West’s looming defeat in Afghanistan, however, India’s success will prove Pyrrhic, and may well set the stage for another, perhaps nuclear, confrontation between Pakistan and India. …For New Delhi, realism dictates that a major military effort in Afghanistan is not sustainable, and that it isn’t worth introducing the massive Indian force needed to try to protect India’s Afghan investment only to fail and perhaps set in motion events that could potentially lead to a nuclear confrontation with Pakistan. Sadly, few governments in history have ever had the courage to get out of quagmires while the going was good. http://the-diplomat.com/2010/08/30/the-coming-nuclear-flashpoint/?print=yes
Food crisis looms after floods in Pakistan
By Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers [August 30, 2010]
---- The worst floods in Pakistan's history already have swept through the nation's most important breadbasket provinces, destroying cotton and corn crops, vegetables and orchards, and leaving many people in need of emergency food. Now experts warn that the food crisis could expand into a long-term problem if farmers can't get the seeds, draft animals and irrigation repairs they need for the fall planting of wheat, the nation's most important crop. The floods in Pakistan since July are one of the biggest disasters in recent world history. … Even before the floods, in Pakistan, a nation of 175 million people, 77 million were hungry, 45 million malnourished and 36 percent of the population was below the poverty line, and those figures "could appear modest by comparison in several decades' time," according to a new book on Pakistan's food problems. http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/08/30/v-print/99866/food-crisis-looms-af...
THE WAR IN WASHINGTON
Petraeus Finishes Guidelines for Afghan Security Transition
By Thom Shanker, New York Times [August 31, 2010]
---- Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in Afghanistan, has completed work on new guidelines for turning some security duties over to Afghan forces in the months ahead, calling for American and allied troops to step back gradually from areas as they are pacified rather than handing off the task all at once to local units, according to senior NATO and Pentagon officials. …The emphasis in his plan would be on shifting troops to train Afghan security forces to accelerate the pace at which local police officers and soldiers could successfully take over, allowing even more of the alliance force to depart. But some remaining foreign troops could move into areas near their current operations where militants remain active. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/31/world/asia/31military.html?_r=1&hp
As combat operations end in Iraq, Gates hails shift in focus to Afghanistan
By Greg Jaffe, Washington Post [August 31, 2010]
---- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Tuesday called on a war-weary American public for patience in Afghanistan, arguing that after years of neglect the United States had finally devoted the necessary resources to a conflict that has long been overshadowed by the Iraq war. … Gates also highlighted some of the American priorities in Afghanistan over the next several months, including a promise that the United States would take a tough stand against corruption within the Afghan government -- an effort that risks alienating President Hamid Karzai and other members of his administration. … Karzai and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, are developing a plan to organize community defense forces in an effort to build confidence in the Afghan government, hold off the Taliban and check the power of the Afghan police and army. The community-based security forces were a top priority of Petraeus's predecessor in Afghanistan, but they were stalled by Karzai who worried the local units could turn into militias. Senior Afghan officials also saw the forces as a potential competitor to the relatively weak and unpopular government in Kabul. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/31/AR201008...
2,000 more troops may be going to Afghanistan
From Barbara Starr, CNN [September 5, 2010[
---- As many as 2,000 additional troops -- including a number of U.S. forces -- may be headed to Afghanistan in the coming weeks under a plan being proposed by Gen. David Petraeus, CNN has learned. [A] NATO official tells CNN "it's highly likely" many of the additional forces will be U.S. troops. Some NATO member countries are politically ambivalent about the war, he noted. And practically, it is only U.S. forces that have the most advanced equipment to counter roadside bombs. http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/09/05/afghanistan.troops/index.htm...
(Video) The Listening Post - Reporting the Afghan war
From AlJazeeraEnglish [August 29, 2010] – 24 minutes
---- This week on The Listening Post - reporting the Afghan war: Time magazine's shocking cover story walks the thin line between editorial and editorialising. And we lay out the pros and the cons of embedded journalism coming to us from the battlefields of Afghanistan. http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish#p/u/77/9pnKkXyWBbI
USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
----. 56 US soldiers and 24 soldiers from other Coalition countries were killed in August, and 5 US soldiers and 6 soldiers from other Coalition countries have been killed so far in September. The total number of US deaths in Afghanistan is now 1,275, and the total number of Coalition deaths is 2,069. 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.
The Cost of the War
According to the website www.costofwar.com, expenditures on the Afghanistan war have reached $331 billion, and the total for both wars is $1.076 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 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.
An AP-GfK poll was conducted August 11-16, 2010. Nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the nine-year-old U.S. war in Afghanistan. The majority 58% of Americans oppose their country's expanded war in Afghanistan, the highest level of opposition since the AP/GfK poll has been conducted, while only 38% supported it, the lowest level of support since the poll has been conducted. The plurality 35% of Americans "strongly oppose" the war in Afghanistan, while only 17% "strongly favor" it. At the time of the poll, over 1,100 American soldiers had been killed in the war in Afghanistan, including 66 in the month of July and 60 in the month of June, the highest monthly death tolls of U.S. troops in the war to date.
A CNN/Opinion Research poll was conducted August 6-10, 2010. The unpopularity of the U.S. war in Afghanistan reached an all-time high in CNN polling. The majority 62% of Americans oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the highest level since the poll question was asked in 2006, while only 37% favored the U.S. war, an all-time low.
THE WAR IN KABUL
Karzai wants change in Afghan war strategy
From Agence France Press [August 29, 2010]
---- President Hamid Karzai said on Sunday Washington's war strategy for Afghanistan needed a rethink, as a Taliban-led insurgency gathers pace and foreign forces casualties surge. Karzai made the comments to the visiting Norbert Lammert, president of the German parliament, the Afghan president's office said in a statement. "Speaking about Afghanistan and regional security (Karzai) said that the strategy of the war on terrorism must be reassessed," the statement said. "The experience over the past eight years showed that fighting (Taliban) in Afghan villages has been ineffective and is not achieving anything but killing civilians." Rethinking counter-insurgency strategies in Afghanistan was the war-torn country's most pressing need, Karzai said. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100829/wl_sthasia_afp/afghanistanunrestusk...
Energy in Afghanistan
From World Energy Forum, [August 2010]
---- After eight years of work in Afghanistan no updated energy sector master plan has evolved that would allow the international community to measure success. Energy plants serving Afghanistan include twelve thermal and thirteen hydroelectric plants. Fifteen run on imported oil or electricity. Based on the most recent daily production statistics, half the thermal energy plants produce no electricity. Overall, over sixty percent of Afghanistan’s electricity is created from imported oil. Iran is the largest provider, followed by the Mazar-e-Sharif power plant in the Balkh province. The third largest energy provider is Turkmenistan.
Inside Corrupt-istan, a Loss of Faith in Leaders
By Dexter Filkins, New York Times [September 4, 2010]
---- It’s not as if the Americans and their NATO partners don’t know who the corrupt Afghans are. American officers and anti-corruption teams have drawn up intricate charts outlining the criminal syndicates that entwine the Afghan business and political elites. They’ve even given the charts a name: “Malign Actor Networks.” A k a MAN. Looking at some of these charts—with their crisscrossed lines connecting politicians, drug traffickers and insurgents — it’s easy to conclude that this country is ruled neither by the government, nor NATO, nor the Taliban, but by the MAN. It turns out, of course, that some of the same “malign actors” the diplomats and officers are railing against are on the payroll of the C.I.A. The real difficulty, American commanders say, is that taking down the biggest Afghan politicians could open a vacuum of authority. And that could create instability that the Taliban could take advantage of. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/weekinreview/05filkins.html?ref=world
U.S. to temper stance on Afghan corruption
By Greg Jaffe, Washington Post [September 4, 2010]
---- U.S. commanders in southern Afghanistan are adopting a strategy that increasingly places the priority on fighting the Taliban even if that means tolerating some corruption. Military officials in the region have concluded that the Taliban's insurgency is the most pressing threat to stability in some areas and that a sweeping effort to drive out corruption could create chaos and a governance vacuum that the Taliban could exploit. It was not immediately clear whether the White House, the State Department and law enforcement agencies share the military's views, which come at a critical time for U.S. forces in Afghanistan. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/03/AR201009...
See also: Adam Entous, “American Concerns Over Karzai Deepen,”The Wall Street Journal [August 29, 2010] http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB1000142405274870361850457546009406... Alan Cullison, “Afghan Prosecutor Says He Was Forced to Retire,” Wall Street Journal [August 29, 2010] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870361850457545928072032490... Jean MacKenzie, “Afghanistan: Karzai in Panic as Graft Probe Closes in,” Global Post [Canada] [September 1, 2010] http://www.truth-out.org/afghanistan-karzai-panic-graft-probe-closes62936; and Anne Gearan, “US Def Sec: Afghans should lead corruption fight,” Associated Press [September 2, 2010] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100902/ap_on_re_as/as_gates_afghanistan.
The Kabul Bank Scandal
The Kabul Bank scandal is a fabulous and fast-moving story. Its main players are members of the country’s political and financial elite who borrowed money from the bank to become owners of the bank, and then loaned money to themselves to buy lots of stuff, including tens of millions of dollars worth of real estate in Dubai. But the Dubai market crashed, and the bank’s collateral for much of its loans is worthless. A managerial coup (by whom?) has exposed some culprits, including President Karzai’s brother-in-law, the poster boy for Afghanistan corruption. The in-progress run on the bank by depositors, mostly Afghanistan’s middle class and government employees, could cause the bank to fail, unless the Karzai government and/or the US/NATO occupiers pump in enough money in to keep the bank solvent. The Americans are claiming that there will be “no bailouts,” but where else does Afghanistan’s money come from? It is easy to see financial disaster leading to political disaster.
Collapse of Kabul Bank Points to Fatal Corruption of Karzai Government
By Juan Cole, Informed Comment [September 3, 2010]
---- The house of cards that is the Hamid Karzai government in Kabul may be falling before our eyes, as vast, globe-spanning webs of corruption, formerly hidden in shadows, have suddenly had a spotlight thrown on them. The crisis raises the severest questions about whether the Obama administration can plausibly hope to stand up a stable government in Afghanistan before US troops depart. The Karzai government is corrupt and rotten to the core. Not a single US soldier should die to prop it up. The lie that we are fighting “al-Qaeda” in Afghanistan needs to be exposed. The US and NATO are fighting four or five groups of Pashtun insurgents, some of them until fairly recently US allies. The goal of the fighting is to keep the Karzai government from falling to the guerrillas and to train up an army and police force that could go on defending Kabul. The Afghanistan National Army from all accounts has poor morale. No wonder. What Afghan soldier or policeman would die for a ponzi scheme?
Afghan Government Moves Toward Seizing Assets of Troubled Bank’s Shareholders
By Adam B. Ellick and Sangar Rahimi, New York Times [September 6, 2010]
---- The Afghan government took steps on Sunday toward seizing the properties of major shareholders of the troubled Kabul Bank, as perturbed crowds and national security forces surrounded the central branch of the bank, the country’s largest. It was unclear how much money nervous depositors withdrew Sunday as fears of bankruptcy spread for the fourth consecutive day. Kabul Bank’s chief operating officer, senior officials of the Afghan Central Bank and the Minister of Finance would not discuss details of efforts to shore up the bank. On Saturday, American officials said that the Central Bank had transferred $300 million from its reserves in the United States, but it was unclear how much, if any, of that money would be used to rescue Kabul Bank. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/world/asia/06afghan.html?ref=world
See also: Joshua Partlow and Andrew Higgins, “Afghan authorities take over biggest bank to avoid meltdown,” Washington Post, [August 31, 2010] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/31/AR201008... Dexter Filkins, “Troubles at Afghan Bank Jolt Financial System, New York Times [September 1, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/world/asia/01kabul.html?_r=1; “Karzai urges Afghans not to panic as bank withdrawals accelerate,” Washington Post [September 2, 2010] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/02/AR201009...
The September 18th Parliamentary Elections
As The New York Times notes in its editorial below, the September 18th election is “a chance to show that the country is making progress.” That is, this election is not about determining who will make the laws in Afghanistan. Rather, for both Karzai and the US war managers, the purpose of the election is to “demonstrate” to the relevant political elites in the United States and Europe that the Karzai government has sufficient legitimacy to remain the figurehead who enables the US/NATO war and occupation. In a classic US-supported “demonstration election,” the media plays a key role in framing the criteria for a “successful” election. In this case, the relevant issues are voter turnout, whether the Taliban will succeed in disrupting the election (indicating Kabul control of territory), whether there will be ballot fraud and/or whether the cast ballots will be counted accurately. Off the agenda, in a US-staged election, are fundamental questions of electoral democracy such as whether opponents of the government and the war can run, whether campaigning can be done in safety, whether the government-supported candidates are privileged with money and television time, while opponents of the government are censored, etc. Most importantly, the front burner question is whether any free-and-fair election can be carried out under foreign occupation and civil war. Concerning specifics of the Afghanistan case, we know that about 15 percent of polling places will be closed because of “security” problems; that candidates running for seats outside of Kabul can visit their “districts” on in great danger and with difficulty; that there are no political parties or recognized opposition slates; and that little has been done to prevent what is universally agreed to be massive election fraud in last year’s presidential election. Whatever the “results” of the election, the outcome for the Afghanistan people is likely to be only more war and a longer occupation.
The Next Afghan Election
New York Times Editorial, Sunday, September 6, 2010
---- In less than two weeks, Afghanistan will elect a new parliament — a chance to show that the country is making progress. Unfortunately, the odds of success may not be much better than they were last year, when a presidential election, marred by violence and widespread fraud, left Afghans and the international community questioning the legitimacy of Hamid Karzai’s victory. Security is the biggest obstacle given the worsening insurgency. The threat of another fraud comes close behind. That disaster prompted calls for major electoral reforms. There have been some — but not nearly enough. It will be hard to pull off credible balloting. The election is hampered by a flawed voter registry, a vetting process that left far too many corrupt warlords on the ballots, and fewer independent observers. Reports of vote buying, bribery and intimidation are rife; Mr. Karzai shows no sign of discouraging this. It would be better to postpone the election. But American and allied officials say Kabul wants to proceed, and they must respect that decision. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/opinion/06mon1.html?ref=opinion&pagewa...
Afghans to handle most security for Sept. 18 election
By Seth Robson, Stars and Stripes [September 3, 2010]
---- Afghan soldiers and police will take the lead securing provincial elections later this month with international forces backing them up, according to the International Security Assistance Force.… Afghan National Police will be responsible for protecting voters at polling centers while the Afghan National Army secures nearby neighborhoods and roads, [Air Force Capt. Will Powell] said. http://www.stripes.com/news/afghans-to-handle-most-security-for-sept-18-...
Taliban Vow to Disrupt Afghan Parliamentary Poll
From Reuters [September 5, 2010]
---- Afghanistan's Taliban said on Sunday they would attempt to derail elections this month and warned Afghans to boycott the vote, the first explicit threat against the poll by the hard-line Islamists. The September 18 parliamentary election is seen as a litmus test of stability in Afghanistan before U.S. President Barack Obama conducts a war strategy review in December that will examine the pace and scale of U.S. troop withdrawals from July 2011. "This (poll) is a foreign process for the sake of further occupation of Afghanistan and we are asking the Afghan nation to boycott it," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. Foreign donors, mostly from the West, are covering the estimated $149 million cost of the poll. http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2010/09/05/world/international-uk-afghani...
Campaign workers killed as Afghan violence spreads
By Paul Tait, Reuters [August 29, 2010]
---- Gunmen shot dead five campaign workers for a candidate in Afghanistan's parliamentary election next month, officials said on Sunday, another sign of rising insecurity as Washington prepares to review its war strategy. The deaths of the five -- from a group of 10 kidnapped in western Herat province -- were confirmed only hours after a candidate in the September 18 poll from the same area, Haji Abdul Manan, was shot dead as he walked to a mosque to pray. Manan was the fourth candidate to be killed.. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100829/wl_nm/us_afghanistan
NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ARMED OPPOSITION
Karzai sets up panel to pursue talks with Taliban
From Associated Press [September 4, 2010]
---- Afghan President Hamid Karzai says he has formed a council to pursue peace talks with the Taliban
A statement issued by Karzai's office on Saturday says the High Peace Council is a "significant step toward peace talks." Karzai is pursuing reconciliation talks with insurgents willing to renounce violence, honor the Afghan constitution and sever ties with terrorist networks. International leaders have welcomed establishment of the panel, which was approved in June at a national peace conference in Kabul. http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/09/04/karzai-sets-up-panel-to-pursue-talks-...
THE WAR ON THE GROUND
Taliban footprint 'spreading': Petraeus
By Lynne O'Donnell, Agence France Press [August 31, 2010]
---- The US commander of the Afghan war acknowledged Tuesday that the Taliban were expanding their footprint across the country even as foreign forces close in on their traditional southern strongholds.
But US General David Petraeus said a sharp rise in attacks on international troops showed that the hard-line Islamist militia were feeling threatened in their safe havens after almost nine years of war.
Petraeus also said in an interview with foreign media organisations that the overall strategy against the Taliban was reaching its "final stages," with the number of US and NATO troops set to peak at 150,000 in the coming days. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100831/wl_afp/afghanistanunrestnatouspetraeus
US forces, British clash over strategy in Afghan south
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, The Peninsula [Qatar] [September 5,2010]
---- The disputes here, which also extend to the pace of reconstruction projects and the embrace of a former warlord who has become the police chief, illuminate the tensions that are flaring as US forces surge into parts of southern Afghanistan that had once been the almost-exclusive domain of NATO allies. There are now about 20,000 US troops in Helmand; the 10,000 British soldiers who once roamed all over the province are now consolidating their operations in a handful of districts around the provincial capital.The new US troops in the south are intended to replace departing Dutch soldiers and relieve pressure on under-resourced and overburdened military personnel from Britain and Canada, where public support for the war has fallen even more precipitously than in the United States. But the transition entails significant new risks for US forces, who are now responsible for more dangerous parts of the country. Here in Musa Qala, a large town surrounded by farms and rocky hills, the arrival of the Americans has also prompted debate about whether a more offensive posture by coalition troops will stem the insurgency, or whether deals, compromises and a concentration of resources around key population centers will be sufficient to achieve stability. http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/views/125460-us-forces-british-clash-ov...
With outposts growing, Marines are spread thin
By Gretel C. Kovach, Union-Tribune [San Diego] [September 4, 2010]
---- Tribal elders had asked for the new security post in the Laki area of Garmser district, a volatile southern redoubt of Taliban fighters and poppy farmers in Helmand Province. Weapons Company’s eighth position, which they named Donahue after a Marine dog handler killed in action recently, will probably be their last. … The 3/1 Battalion has about 1,000 Marines spread over nearly 50 positions and 1,000 square kilometers. …But the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency manual suggests that the campaign in Afghanistan remains undermanned. Based on commonly accepted minimum troop densities and Afghanistan’s population, the force fighting the insurgency should number at least 582,000, and preferably 720,000. The current contingent includes about 240,000 Afghan national soldiers and police, plus about 135,000 U.S. and NATO troops. http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/sep/04/outposts-growing-marines-...
See also: Ben Farmer, “Afghanistan bomb attacks kill twenty-one US soldiers in 48 hours,” The Telegraph [UK] [August 31, 2010] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/7972863/Afgha... Spencer Ackerman, “Spin War Shift: Military Now Bragging About Afghan Air Strikes,” Wired [September 1, 2010] http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/08/u-s-afghan-air-war/#ixzz0ygU2bLl1; From The Associated Press, “General Says Foresight on Marja Was Flawed,” [September 5, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/world/asia/05nato.html?ref=world;
NATO checks claim strike kills 10 Afghan campaigners
From Reuters [September 2, 2010]
---- An apparent air strike by foreign forces killed 10 election campaign workers in Afghanistan's north on Thursday, a government spokesman said, and NATO-led forces said they were investigating the incident.
Thursday's attack happened in the Rostaq district of Takhar, a relatively peaceful province in the north near Tajikistan, said a spokesman for the provincial governor, unlike areas in the south and east where the resurgent Taliban are mostly active. Spokesman Faiz Mohammad Tawhidi said the candidate, Abdul Wahid, and some of his supporters were wounded in the air strike, which Tawhidi said included two helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20100902/wl_nm/us_afghanistan_violence
PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
US adds Pakistani Taliban to terrorism blacklist
By Matthew Lee, Associated Press [September 1, 2010]
---- The Obama administration on Wednesday added the Pakistani Taliban to its international terrorism blacklist, targeting the group blamed for the failed car bombing in New York's Times Square and its leaders with financial and travel sanctions. The group, known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban or TTP, threatens U.S. national security, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a notice published in the Federal Register. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistani Taliban Movement, is a loose federation of tribal and regional factions initially led by Baitullah Mehsud. It maintains strongholds along the northwestern tribal belt, where the militants are also believed to be providing safe havens for senior al-Qaida leaders, including Osama bin Laden. Baitullah Mehsud was killed in an Aug. 5, 2009, CIA missile strike in northwestern Pakistan. He was replaced by his military chief, Hakimullah Mehsud.
Floods in Pakistan Carry the Seeds of Upheaval
By Carlotta Gall, New York Times, [September 5, 2010]
---- After scathing criticism that they were unprepared for the disaster and inept in their initial response, government officials, ministers and even President Asif Ali Zardari are crisscrossing flood-affected areas of the country in a frantic effort to ease public anger and despair. Pakistani officials, diplomats and aid workers warn that while civil unrest has so far been averted, the aftermath of the worst-ever flooding in Pakistan could destabilize the country in the months to come and aggravate the already deep regional, sectarian and class fissures. Management of the disaster has added to the distrust that many Pakistanis already feel for their civilian political leaders, while the armed forces have burnished their image performing rescue and relief missions along the length of the flooded areas. the government, already saddled with severe economic and security problems, may not survive the large-scale social upheaval and long-term hardship from the floods — including a lack of housing, food shortages and price spikes — officials, diplomats and aid workers warned. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/06/world/asia/06pstan.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnn...
(Video) Flood Refugees in Karachi Relief Camp Complain of Government Corruption and Inefficiency
From Democracy Now! - 8 minutes
---- It’s been a month since torrential rains triggered the worst floods in Pakistan’s recent history. Nearly 20 million people are homeless or hungry, with one million people displaced in the past week alone. The official death toll is at 1,760 but is expected to rise as survivors are threatened by diseases. Madiha Tahir, a freelance journalist in Pakistan, files a report from the Razzaqabad relief camp in Karachi. http://www.democracynow.org/2010/9/3/flood_refugees_in_karachi_relief_camp
5 Long-Term Effects of Pakistan Floods
By Max Fisher, The Atlantic [August 27, 2010]
----- After weeks of flooding in Pakistan displaced two million people and left more than 10 million at risk of disease outbreak because they lack access to clean water, renewed flooding in Pakistan has displaced an additional one million people over the past 48 hours alone, setting back a relief effort that has struggled due to paltry donations. The displaced, often physically inaccessible to relief workers due to Pakistan's badly damaged infrastructure, face threats of disease, starvation, and dehydration. But even once the immediate humanitarian crises of the flood pass, experts say the floods will leave their impact on Pakistan and the region for years or decades.
See also: Rebecca Barber, “The human cost of Pakistan's floods,” Sydney Morning Herald [August 26, 2010] http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/the-human-cost-of-paki... Democracy Now! “As Pakistan Floods Continue Moving South, Calls for Debt Cancellation Grow,” September 2, 2010 http://www.democracynow.org/2010/9/2/as_pakistan_floods_continue_moving_... Omar Waraich, “Pakistan's rich 'diverted floods to save their land,'” The Independent [UK] [September 3, 2010] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/pakistans-rich-diverted-flo...
THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
MPs get their first chance to vote on Afghan withdrawal
By Matt Chorley, The Independent [UK] [September 5, 2010]
---- The Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, will this week face calls to set out a detailed timetable for the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan in the first major Commons vote since the war began almost nine years ago. New powers handed to backbenchers will allow MPs to debate the continued deployment of British forces, with many of the record new intake expected to express unease at the timescale for troops coming home. …A new YouGov poll shows that 30 per cent of the public think British troops should be brought home "immediately" while a further 42 per cent said "soon". Just 7 per cent thought the UK was "winning the war with the Taliban". The Independent on Sunday understands that a growing number of MPs from across the political spectrum have doubts about the claim that the presence of British troops in Afghanistan makes Britain's streets safer. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/mps-get-their-first-chance...