Afghan security at a seven-year low
Afghanistan demands 'timeline' for end of military intervention
His corrupt government of warlords, opium growers, and former Taliban, have made no inroads in developing real governance over the country. So facing the simple fact that Kandahar is the Pashtun stronghold, and Karzai is Pashtun, he is calling on us to all leave. Heck that's what the NDP and the left in Canada has been saying for the past two years.
Karzai says US, NATO created 'parallel' government
This is a phony war. The supposed development of a liberal capitalist economy, with liberal bourgoise enlightment ideals like education for women and girls, human rights, the end of torture and capital punishment, freedom of speech and religion, none of this exists in this failed Islamic State.
So what the heck are we there fighting for? Simply put so that this U.S. puppet the Mayor of Kabul can keep his job and keep his crony goverment in power sharing the spoils of war and international aid. And of course once again Karzai bleames others while the reality is that his is a corrupt regime.
Karzai fires prominent minister
'Nobody supports the Taliban, but people hate the government'
Mr. Karzai also blamed Afghanistan's endemic corruption in part on foreign contractors who "contract, then subcontract, and then another subcontract and then perhaps another subcontract." The process "means immense possibilities of major corruption."
The problems of Afghanistan are immense, at the heart of which lies the issue of trust. Time and again, in interviews with senior Western officials, I heard deep scepticism voiced about the ability of Karzai's government to use aid money wisely and effectively. As even the Afghan economics minister, Muhammed Jalil Shams, candidly admitted to me, for every $100 of Western aid given, only $40 finds its way to the intended projects. The rest disappears into the pockets of unscrupulous government officials. It is worth noting too that corruption surrounding the heroin trade, worth $3 billion a year, has further paralysed the government. A recent New York Times report identified the president's brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, as a major beneficiary of the illegal trade. 'Corruption is the biggest problem facing Afghanistan,' Shams said. He went on to make the point that giving money to the Afghan government is still better than giving it to Western contractors to perform reconstruction jobs, when only 25 per cent of the money finds its way into the local Afghan community, but that is a tough argument to make to nervous aid donors and potential investors.
A recent survey conducted by the Asia Foundation is a good place to start. More than 6,500 Afghans were interviewed from all 34 of the country's provinces. It was the fourth public opinion poll conducted by the foundation since 2004, so it provides valuable perspective of the national mood of Afghans over time. Three quarters of those polled cite corruption as a major problem, especially at the highest levels of government. Fifty percent say it affects their daily lives. President Hamid Karzai's recent re-shuffling of his cabinet was intended to address this concern, which has undermined public confidence in his leadership.
Situation normal, all fouled up
Kabul businessman Nasrullah Rahmati rarely travels without a bodyguard but says his biggest security threat is not suicide bombers. "I have been robbed at gunpoint by our own police and I am more scared of them than I am of the Taliban," he said in his factory, where 250 workers make uniforms.
Afghanistan's politicians and government officials are as corrupt as the police, locals say, and a striking feature of Kabul is the "poppy palaces", mansions being built by strangely wealthy locals in a country that ranks behind only Somalia on the UN's list of the poorest and most dysfunctional countries. A British official working against the heroin trade jokes that the mansions are triumphs of "narchitecture". What is not so funny is the corrosive effect open corruption and poor governance have on the Afghan Government's legitimacy.
It seems to be conventional wisdom in Kabul that President Hamid Karzai's brother Ahmed Wali Karzai is an important drug dealer, a view many US officials privately share. Installed by the Americans, then endorsed in national elections, Hamid Karzai is likely to retain US support in elections due next year despite his ineffective rule. Karzai certainly has been a disappointment to the relatively few educated liberals in Afghanistan, who say he is not the champion of liberal democracy that he seems to many in the West. He has not championed women's rights with any great vigour and local journalist union officials say he warned them some time ago that his support for free speech did not extend to issues relating to the Islamic faith. When death sentences were pursued against two men for publishing unapproved translations of the Koran, the President offered only a muted response.
Despite all the vain glory announcements by those who support this war, and by our Government and military, we are not defending a liberal capitalist state, women still wear burkhas, child brides (female and male) are still traded amongst villagers, local patriarchs rule and dominate the culture, Islamic courts jail Christians as well as editors who speak out,
women are attacked for going to school, girls schools are burned, attacks on women have increased, opium production has increased, Pashtuns are fighting against our troops and will continue to as they see us as invaders.
Strict Islamic rules creep their way back into Afghans' lives
In Afghanistan, Islamists' influence widens
A woman's lot
Violence and other abuse of Afghan women is enough to make you wonder what we're there fighting for, reports Paul McGeough from Kabul.
International human rights officials in Kabul are privately explosive about what they see as a marked slide in human rights generally, but for women in particular - especially in light of demands by officials that they must play the glad game. "Can't be all doom and gloom," a senior foreign official regularly exhorts his frustrated staff. Amid the many mistakes in Afghanistan, there have been two constants. One is the Western obsession with winning a war while forgetting the welfare of the Afghan people - particularly women. The other is reducing the equation to a simplistic contest between the "good" President Hamid Karzai and the "bad" Taliban. For women, this pincers grip has knocked their rights to the bottom of the agenda. "Karzai operates like a mafia crook. His regime is corrupt, brutal and repressive and it is based on the President's umpteen deals with the devil - fundamentalists, warlords and criminals," a senior human rights figure told me privately this week. "But Karzai never acts alone. His regime was supposed to be different to the Taliban… and the Australian and the French and all the other governments [still] back him."
Karzai lurches from one crooked or corrupt power base to the next - one day pardoning brutal rapists and saying nothing about it; the next celebrating the execution of small-time criminals while the Mr Bigs of the criminal and political worlds are untouchable.
The Pashtun are delibertely identified by the Western forces and their media as Taliban, when in fact they are not. But they are fighting us as Karzai well knows, which is why he has called for peace talks and has called for U.S. and NATO forces to stop doing reconstruction, invading villagers homes and demanding a time line for so called victory over the Taliban. Which will never happen. Because the Taliban do not exist, who we are fighting are the Pashtun peoples of Southern Afghanistan.
Opium war impasse
About 250 of them had come to hear Governor Asadullah Hamdam's arguments about why they should give up growing opium poppies which, for many, were their primary source of income.
Then one elder from the village of Sorkh Murgab stood up and said what many of the farmers must have been thinking.
"The people don't have jobs," he said, according to notes taken by US government field officer Eric Bone during the November 26 meeting last year.
"The (Government) promised projects but we haven't seen them," the elder said. "The (Government tells us) there is not enough security to do projects. In the daytime the ISAF (the International Security Assistance Force, comprising Australian and Dutch troops) is around but at night the Taliban come and force us to cultivate poppy. We have the poorest region, who can we listen to?"
Another elder stood up and joined the fray. "Assistance in the past two years has only been to the provincial administration, not to us. The people have not received assistance ... when people don't have jobs they go to the Taliban."
These exchanges, contained in a series of confidential documents written by anti-narcotic officials in Tarin Kowt and obtained by The Australian, reveal the magnitude of the task faced by Australia and the West in seeking to kill Afghanistan's opium trade, which reaps more than $4billion a year, almost half of Afghanistan's total income.
Karzai offers Taliban leader 'protection' for peace
Afghan president wishes he could down US planes
Britain 'bribes Afghans to fight Taleban'
Divided tribes make it hard to find elders who will helpTHE tribes in Helmand province have been heavily fractured by decades of fighting, and balance of power is now inextricably linked to the drugs trade.
An Interview About Afghani Women's Rights and Rebuilding in the Face of Politics
Homemakers Magazine editor-in-chief Kathy Ullyott reveals the complex situation the progress of women's rights are in the face of the presence of Western countries, Afghani politics, and nation rebuilding. This is the first of a three-part interview.
SD: Yes, exactly, the period of jihad against the Soviet Union, which we know was covertly backed by the U.S., the civil war, the emergence of the Taliban who were essentially let loose by Pakistan to make their way north…
KU: It’s very complicated, and that’s something else I discovered, and I still don’t think I’ve answered your question – as you say, it’s a big thing and impossible to get a handle on, some I realized there while talking to people. Here we think of the Taliban as some opposing force, but there the Taliban is really just the most organized of the many insurgent groups with different interests. Some of them are the Taliban, but others are warlords in a certain area, in a very ancient and tribal culture going back hundreds of years. Some of these are very vicious rivalries spanning loyalties. The Taliban tend to claim responsibility for any attacks, but that’s just PR. A lot of attacks have nothing to do with the Taliban. It’s really a very amorphous thing and very difficult to fight. And I’m not a military expert by any stretch of the imagination. But it makes the whole question very complex…
SD: People don’t realize the extent of the power of the warlords or how far it extends into rural areas…
KU: Totally – into the rural areas and into the government as well. The women I spoke to, the MP, and Horia…one of the greatest frustrations of the people there is that the government itself is so corrupt. And we’ve seen reports of that. That’s one of the things making progress so difficult. And of the things that created so much pessimism in the intervening years is that people within the country expected that (the ousting of the Taliban) was going to be a big change and that life was going to get better. And they are continuing to see that these warlords exercise great control over the government. The opium trade is one such situation. They (citizens) know that there are ‘bad guys’ still in power, the police force is still horribly corrupt, yet they had hoped-with the involvement of NATO – that the more developed world was going to help them get rid of this stuff. But it’s much harder than they expected.
We are not battling Islam we are battling a medival patriarchical fuedal culture which we are trying to transform into a liberal capitalist democracy. We are failing just like the Russians and before them the British.
Tariq Ali talks tough
The West doesn’t totally appreciate one simple factor: that the Afghan people do not like being occupied by foreign powers,” he said. “Most people don’t like being occupied by foreign powers.” Ali argued that Hamid Karzai’s legitimacy is complicated due to Karzai’s construction on prime Kabul property. He added that a New York Times report links his brother to drug smuggling (Karzai has denied the charges).
Retired general looks back on Russia's Afghan war
Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times
THE GENERAL'S VIEW: Retired Lt. Gen. Ruslan Aushev says the key to U.S. success would be to help set up a sovereign government. Moscow and Washington have made the same mistakes in their conflicts there, says Ruslan Aushev. He offers advice for the U.S. as it enters the eighth year of war.We said, "Afghans, you are living according to the Soviet way of life, where religion is separated from the state, mullahs should be expelled, religion is the opiate of the people. You'll be living in collective farms. You will have pioneer camps, Comsomol [youth] organizations, and so on and so forth." The Soviet way of life in a country that still lives in the Dark Ages!And what did you say? You said, "We are giving you democracy." They cannot even translate the term properly. Under us there was a lot of corruption, and today there's a lot of corruption. Neither under you nor under us did an ordinary person get anything
There has been massive internal displacement, especially in the south as a result of the insurgency - which has intensified since 2006. The number of people being killed in the Afghan conflict has soared in recent years as violence has returned to levels not seen since the Taleban were driven from power in 2001.
The UN says that from January to August 2008 1,445 civilians were killed - a rise of 39% on the same period for 2007. Most deaths were attributed to the Taleban but the number of civilians killed by pro-government forces - the majority in air strikes - also rose sharply. Afghan and foreign forces say hundreds of militants have also been killed - it is impossible to verify precise numbers. Military fatalities among foreign and Afghan forces have also soared.
Afghanistan the UNwinnable war
Afghanistan A Failed State
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