Afghanistan – Pride & Prejudice – Part IX

Part IX of a ten-part series…

31st December 2012

Emma Graham-Harrison in the Guardian: The only clue that a base that dominated Pashengar village for years had been abandoned for good was the midnight rumble of a convoy of trucks. In the morning, locals found guards gone, buildings blown up and, scattered around what had been a forbidding military encampment, piles of detritus from years of western living in a remote, mountainous valley. Rows of air conditioning units stuck out of a damaged wall, a giant, dilapidated generator was marooned near shipping containers and twisted, dented vehicles remained. But there was no sign of a cheque for a landlord who said years of rent, running to hundreds of thousands of dollars, was owing to him. “They stayed six years and only paid rent for one year,” said Haji Najibullah Khan…

20th December 2012

John J Connolly in the Baltimore Sun: “The State Department revealed this month that the United States has detained more than 200 children at its military prison in Afghanistan. I represent one of them, a boy who left his parents’ home in Karachi, Pakistan in July 2008, when he was 14, on a trip to his grandparents’ house in western Pakistan. He was allegedly captured in Afghanistan a few weeks later and has been ‘detained’ at Bagram Air Force Base ever since. What frustrates me about the State Department report is not the number of children detained, but that the U.S. won’t let me or other lawyers make a case that these children should be released”.

19th December 2012

Joe Glenton in the Independent, “What is clear is that the Afghans, portrayed as feckless and needy each time the occupation needed to be re-justified, are still, as ever, capable of controlling their own territory and their own lives and driving occupiers out of both. Defeat has been a steady drip-drip for the west, but it is defeat nonetheless”.

10th December 2012

Peter James Spielmann in HuffingtonPost: The U.S. military has detained more than 200 Afghan teenagers who were captured in the war for about a year at a time at a military prison next to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, the United States has told the United Nations…If the average age is 16, “This means it is highly likely that some children were as young as 14 or 13 years old when they were detained by U.S. forces,”

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, said Friday. “I’ve represented children as young as 11 or 12 who have been at Bagram,” said Tina M. Foster, executive director of the International Justice Network, which represents adult and juvenile Bagram detainees…

6th December 2012

Emma Graham-Harrison in the Guardian: Nato forces stormed into a clinic in central Afghanistan, damaging doors, windows and medical equipment, before using it as a jail and military command centre, in violation of the Geneva conventions, according to the aid group that runs the facility.

6th December 2012

Richard Norton-Taylor and Nick Hopkins in the Guardian: The defence secretary, Philip Hammond, has been asked to launch an urgent inquiry into claims that British forces led a counter-insurgency operation in Afghanistan during which a 12-year-old boy and three teenagers were shot dead while they were drinking tea.

16th November 2012

British forces must withdraw from Afghanistan as quickly as possible before any more troops are killed, former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Ashdown has said. In a damning assessment of the campaign in Afghanistan, he said allied forces had failed to build a sustainable state and establish a government which was untainted by corruption.

6th November 2012

Emma Graham-Harrison and Mokhtar Amiri in the Guardian: “Prosecutors say Bales slipped out of a tiny, remote base that he shared with special forces troops in the early hours of 11 March. Armed with an assault rifle, he then allegedly headed into two poor villages in Kandahar province, the Taliban’s heartland, and went on a murderous rampage in which six people were also injured. The atrocity was the worst committed by US forces in Afghanistan since they helped topple the Taliban government in 2001. If found guilty, Bales, a 39-year-old father of two, could be executed”.

29th October 2012

Methodist, Baptist and URC Joint Issues team: “… acting with restraint and in conformity with universally agreed legal principles, is a far surer path to security, and more likely to stem anger and resentment than acting without legal justification. The US and UK are the two largest contributors to ISAF forces in Afghanistan and cooperate closely in intelligence operations in northern Pakistan. There is evidence that the US operations in northern Pakistan encourage extremism and result in increased recruitment to terrorist groups….”

23rd October 2012

Reuter reports, “Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Tuesday condemned a NATO operation that he said killed four children in the country’s east, a claim the coalition said was possible. The operation took place in the Baraki Barak district of Logar province on Saturday, a statement released by Karzai’s office said, adding: ‘It resulted in the killing of four innocent children’ who were tending to livestock”.

12th October 2012

Nick Hopkins in the Guardian: “Seven Royal Marines have been arrested on suspicion of murder after one of their colleagues came forward and claimed an insurgent had been killed in a manner that broke the military’s strict rules of engagement…The incident happened in Afghanistan’s Helmand province last year, but it is thought investigators only began an inquiry in recent weeks when the ‘code of silence’ among the marines was broken by one of those who is said to have witnessed the alleged crime.”.

2nd October 2012

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian: “Afghanistan has become another war of the Spanish succession, its cause long forgotten by the opponents but an unending parade of pride, money, heroism and national prestige. It is no longer a war of retribution for 9/11, no longer a war of democratic nation building. It is merely a place where soldiers are sent by politicians to pretend to win, even as they die….”

British soldiers are dying in Afghanistan to win the war of Whitehall

1st October 2012

Ian Traynor in the Guardian: “The retreat of western forces from Afghanistan could come sooner than expected, the head of Nato has said as he conceded that the recent Taliban strategy of ‘green on blue’killings had been successful in sapping morale.”

20th September 2012

James Jeffrey in the Guardian: “I was minutes from ordering a drone strike on a Taliban insurgent – until I realised I was watching an Afghan child at play…Political theorist Hannah Arendt described the history of warfare in the 20th century as the growing incapacity of the army to fulfil its basic function: defending the civilian population. My experiences in Afghanistan brought this issue to a head, leaving me unable to avoid the realization that my role as a soldier had changed, in Arendt’s words, from ‘that of protector into that of a belated and essentially futile avenger’. Our collective actions in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 were, and remain, futile vengeance – with drones the latest technological advance to empower that flawed strategy.”

18th September 2012

Chris McGreal, Emma Graham-Harrison and Haroon Siddique in the Guardian: “The Nato-led military strategy in Afghanistan has been thrown into disarray after joint on-the-ground operations were suspended because of a collapse in trust over the killings of Americans and other Nato soldiers by Afghan government forces…The decision, which was announced in Washington, took the UK government by surprise, coming just a day after the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, spoke in defence of Nato’s continued work with Afghan troops in parliament. Whitehall sources said British commanders were unaware the announcement was going to be made.”

13th September 2012

Nick Hopkins in the Guardian: “The UK has closed 52 of its military bases and checkpoints in Helmand province over the last six months, leaving 34 still operating, he [Defence Secretary Hammond] revealed…Britons would have to ‘get used to the idea’ that any peace in Afghanistan will need to involve ‘reaching out Northern Ireland-style to at least the moderate part of the insurgency, to try to bring it inside through reconciliation and integration’…Accommodating the Taliban in the peace and reconciliation process was vital, he said’.”

12th September 2012

Emma Graham-Harrison in the Guardian: Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, has condemned the film that sparked violence in Libya and Egypt as an abhorrence and insult to all Muslims, warning that it would damage inter-faith relations.

10th September 2012

RUSI News: “The discussions revealed for the first time the emerging consensus of the Taliban leadership, a far more pragmatic picture of the Taliban than has previously been made public, with the Taliban willing to take part in peace negotiations in exchange for political leverage after 2014…”

3rd September 2012

Patrick Coburn in the Independent: ”
The British media likewise gives little sense of the extent of Britain’s military failure in Afghanistan. The problem about denying that a disaster has happened is that it becomes difficult to stop it happening again”.*censored*burn-the-day-a-*censored*burn-set-the-white-house-aflame-8100581.html

2nd September 2012

Reuters reports: US Forces in Afghanistan said on Sunday they have suspended training new recruits to the Afghan Local Police (ALP) amid a spike in the number of insider attacks which are damaging trust between Afghans and their allies.

24th August 2012

A US drone attack has killed at least 16 suspected militants in Pakistan’s north-western tribal area, Pakistani security officials have said….The attacks came a day after Pakistan’s foreign ministry summoned a senior US diplomat in protest at such strikes.

23rd August 2012

The Pentagon paid $47,000 to destroy 9,500 copies of the book, called Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan and the Path to Victory.

18th June 2012

Nick Hopkins in the Guardian: “The British military is increasingly relying on unmanned drones to wage war against the Taliban, and has fired more than 280 laser-guided Hellfire missiles and bombs at suspected insurgents, new figures reveal…”

9th June 2012

Matt Williams in the Guardian: “The Afghan government has hit out at the US for failing to consult with local forces ahead of an airstrike that killed 18 civilians, suggesting future such raids would be viewed as a breach of its pact with Washington…investigators told the president Afghan forces had surrounded the house prior to the airstrike. But the US troops decided not to wait for them to try and flush out the militants, opting instead for aerial bombardment. It was only later that they discovered that women, children and old men were inside the house. On Friday, the senior American commander in Afghanistan apologised over the incident. ”

3rd June 2012

AP report in the Guardian: “Ten more people have been killed by a US drone strike against suspected militants in Pakistan, with the aircraft firing its missiles into a gathering mourning one of two fighters killed in a similar atttack the previous day.”

27th May 2012

Emma Graham-Harrison in the Guardian: “A Nato air strike has killed eight members of one family at their home in a part of eastern Afghanistan …[President Karzai] warned earlier this month that the deaths could undermine a deal laying the framework for ties with the US after 2014, when most foreign combat forces will have left Afghanistan”.

26th May 2012

Rory Stewart MP in the Independent: “It’s a story of how, with all our good intentions, with all our wealth and guns and erudition, we find it so difficult to resist exaggerating our fears, and inflating our pride: we find it so difficult to acknowledge the limits of our knowledge and power. How difficult we find it, however often we are humiliated, to achieve humility.”