Saturday, December 18, 2010

Losing Afghan Hearts and Minds

By Gareth Porter
December 18, 2010

The Obama administration's claim of "progress" in its Afghan war strategy is based on the military seizure of three rural districts outside Kandahar City in October. But those tactical gains have come at the price of further exacerbating the basic U.S. strategic weakness in Afghanistan – the antagonism toward the foreign presence shared throughout the Pashtun south.

Read on.


henry said...

A love story part one
Love drives repentant Taliban chief to defect
As a Nato programme persuades insurgents to lay down arms, one of their leaders explains why he has renounced violence
Miles Amoore
Published: 21 November 2010
Abdul Haqim was a university student of 19 when he was shot in the shoulder by American soldiers who sprayed bullets outside his village and killed his cousin.
Vowing to avenge the death, he joined the Taliban, rose to the rank of commander and acquired a reputation for ferocity with a series of bloody attacks on Nato and Afghan army patrols.
Now, at the age of 25, Haqim is weary of war. Two of his senior commanders have been killed in recent months and he says he is demoralised by civilian casualties. He has resolved to resume his engineering studies and marry the woman he loves.
"I want to go back to university," he said last week in an interview arranged through an intermediary. "I don’t want to see any more civilians killed."
Nato believes Haqim is one of a growing band of fighters who are preparing to switch sides. Yet his story highlights not only the vital nature of efforts to lure Taliban commanders away from the insurgency with their weapons and their men, but also the difficulties and dangers of securing such defections.
Haqim’s journey into the arms of the Taliban began on a cold winter’s morning outside his village in the Chak district of Wardak province, 50 miles southwest of Kabul.
Talking in a huddle of village men, he watched as a convoy of American soldiers drove along the nearby road. Suddenly, the armoured vehicle at the front of the convoy struck a mine. The soldiers responded by opening fire, apparently thinking Haqim and his companions had detonated it.
Haqim was knocked face-first into the dirt when a bullet tore into his left shoulder as he ran for cover. Bleeding heavily, he was pulled to safety by three men who stuffed cotton wool in his wounds.
A friend ran into the room to tell him that his cousin was dead and five of his friends were injured. One of them would never walk again.
"I couldn’t even speak to express my anger," he said, unbuttoning his shirt to reveal his scar. "My mouth had been smashed in by a piece of flying rock."
An uncle paid for Haqim to travel to Pakistan for surgery to remove the bullet, which had lodged in the side of his chest.
He was already incensed by detentions, night raids and the failure of the Afghan government to provide jobs. But as he convalesced in a hospital in Karachi, he thought often of his 22-year-old cousin, a fellow engineering student, and yearned to join the Taliban.

henry said...

A love story part two"He had two small sons. I was burning with rage," Haqim said.
No sooner had he been restored to health than Haqim returned to Wardak and sought a meeting with the local Taliban commander.
He shadowed the commander for a week — a crash course in guerrilla warfare — and began by patrolling his village at night.
As his reputation for trustworthiness spread, Haqim was promoted to sub-district commander. He commanded 90 men, divided into four units.
In 2008 he took part in a brutal operation that culminated in the deaths of three American soldiers and an Afghan interpreter.
The Taliban took up positions along a narrow mountain pass through which the highway from Kabul to Kandahar runs. As a US convoy entered the pass, they detonated home-made mines and launched a volley of rocket-propelled grenades.
When the fighting subsided, the Taliban dragged one of the dead soldiers out of his vehicle and chopped him into pieces, Haqim says. He salvaged some of the soldiers’ cameras from the wreckage. On them were pictures of their home towns, their wives and their children.
"There was even video of them on their base laughing and talking before their mission," Haqim said. "I pitied them. They were screaming and crying as they died."
For two years Haqim amassed a pile of cash by attacking Nato supply convoys and selling captured trucks. Private security companies then paid him handsomely to ensure their vehicles’ safe passage.
Earlier this year, however, Haqim met a well-educated relative whose affluent family had moved her to Kabul to avoid the fighting in Chak, and decided to marry her. When his prospective father-in-law visited to discuss the dowry, Haqim made no attempt to hide the armed bodyguards at his front door or the weapons stashed in his house.
"He was shocked to find out that it was true what people said about me: that I was a commander," Haqim said.
The prospective father-in-law told Haqim that he would never give his daughter’s hand to a fighter because he did not want to see her widowed.
Little wonder. Such is the ferocity of Nato’s onslaught, led by special forces, that it claims to have killed 368 mid-level Taliban commanders like Haqim and 968 foot soldiers in the past three months.
Haqim had had doubts about his role for some time. "The longer I fought, the more dead innocents I saw," he said. "The people were saying to me, ‘Look, if you guys were not here, then our people would not be dying.’ It hurt me to know that they were right."
Ultimately, he says, it was his desire to marry his fiancée that compelled him to lay down his weapons. "It was an easy choice for me," he said. Haqim is not the only fighter from Wardak to come in from the cold. Habib Rahman, a 32-year-old sub-district commander from Jilga district, has also made peace overtures to the government.
Rahman joined the Taliban five years after the US-led invasion in 2001. His father was killed in the American bombing campaign that helped to bring the former Taliban regime to its knees.

henry said...

A love story part three -30-
"I was sickened by the killing of innocent civilians," he said. "The Americans promised a lot when they came but we soon realised they couldn’t deliver anything."
He started as a foot soldier, planting mines along routes used by American convoys, but soon he was in charge of 30 men responsible for ambushing convoys and patrols.
Despite the esteem in which he was held by his comrades, Rahman became tired of living on the run as Nato’s campaign intensified.
"I couldn’t return to see my family because I would put them in danger. Living in the mountains is no fun," he said.
The Afghan government and its Nato allies hope that the defection of men such as these signals the beginning of the end for the insurgency.
They are offering them an amnesty, a job and the promise that their community will be rewarded with aid. Some will be allowed to join the Afghan army or police.
The plan, known as the Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Programme (APRP), is still in its infancy, but there are early signs of success. Eight Taliban cells containing up to 240 men have ceased fire since the beginning of October. Nato says 18 other groups are in talks.
"One has a sense that the whole essence of this process is beginning to come alive," said Major-General Phil Jones, head of Nato’s reintegration drive.
The response of the Taliban, however, has been murderous. In the northern province of Baghlan, eight defecting fighters were slain by a suicide bomber on their way to rejoin their community.
"This makes the ones who do want peace cautious," Jones said. "They are fairly certain that if they step into this, there will be others out to kill them."
For his treachery, Haqim’s former comrades have placed a bounty of $4,000 (£2,500) on his head. He believes a spy in his group found out that he was talking to the government.
"It was hard for me to keep it a secret. Many of my men knew — the ones I trusted," he said. "I wanted to bring my men with me but the Taliban have made that impossible."
Haqim has moved out of his house to avoid the hitmen, and the Taliban have seized his weapons and divided his men among other commanders.
Many fighters are thought to have mixed feelings about leaving. "If I stop fighting, maybe the government will still persecute me as a Talib while the Taliban try to kill me," said Rahman. "I am stuck in the middle."
The greater number of foreign fighters in the south and southeast — mainly from Pakistan and the Middle East — will make it even harder for foot soldiers there to defect, Nato admits. So far only 30 individual fighters in Helmand have begun to demobilise.
As for Haqim, he is clearer about his ambition than his chances of achieving it. "I want to become an engineer, but I’m not sure if I trust the government," he said. "So many times we heard of commanders who surrendered. Many are now in prison. We will see what they do."
© Times Newspapers Ltd 2010 Registered in England

henry said...

Christians had always been subject to local discrimination in the empire, but early emperors were reluctant to issue general laws against them. It was not until the 250s, under the reigns of Decius and Valerian, that such laws were passed. Under this legislation, Christians were compelled to sacrifice to Roman gods or face imprisonment and execution.

henry said...

I am planning the next American Civil War. Walmart VS Monsanto.
It should start in a few hours
HR 2751 FDA food saftey enhancement act. Could we do this thing in Afganistan ? I think that would be so much better for all concerned. I would like to hire former General General Stanley McChrystal. Visit Afganistan and die horibly what could be better ?

henry said...

It is on.

I like cheesy poofs you like cheesy poofs we like cheesy poofs we be lame.

How could a people be so lame to alow their government to criminalize growing food ? Please put a bullet in my head.

"Now is the winter of our discontent soon to be made summer

henry said...

King Richard the Third


SCENE I. London. A street

[Enter GLOSTER.]

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
Our stern alarums chang'd to merry meetings,
Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
Grim-visag'd war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;
And now,--instead of mounting barbed steeds
To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,--
He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.

henry said...

When I was in Nangarhar in 2009, an Air Force commander asked me about our reconciliation policy because Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (the leader of the second-largest Taliban faction) told him they wanted to start talks. I said “I’ve got a blacklist”—the kill and capture list—“but nothing on reconciliation.”I contacted our Kabul embassy, which said, “Stay out of it. Only the Afghans should be involved.”
On May 6,, 2002, a Predator fired a Lockheed missile at a convoy of cars in Kunar province, seeking to assassinate Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, but succeeded only in destroying a madrassah and killing at least 10 nearby civilians.
Could I have the contract to kill

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

henry said...

Misinformation said to President Karzai by his close ones has caused him to shift behaviour against the West in particular the US, leaks said

Leaked US diplomatic cables claimed that some officials in Afghan government were after a big conspiracy.

The documents viewed Palace Chief of Staff Mohammad Daudzai, Education Minister Farooq Wardak, and former Information and Culture Minister Abdul Karim Khoram as figures with maximum influence over President Karzai's decisions.

Leaks said MFA Chief of Protocol Hamid Sidiq is convinced that Daudzai is working to advance Tehran's interests in the Palace.

President Karzai's Chief of Staff Daudzai has restricted access to the president and has prevented other Palace staff from having one-to-one meeting with President Karzai, the documents claimed.

Mohammad Daudzai, Farooq Wardak and Abdul Karim Khoram have links to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami Party and provide advices to Karzai in favour of their party, it said.

Analysts rooted back the problem to President Karzai's appointment of officials in government circle.

They said from now on President Karzai should seriously act against conspirators in Afghanistan.

"This is a pity that these kinds of issues about Afghan officials are leaked," said Head of Afghan Journalists Union, Abdul Hamid Mubarez.

Daudzai, Khoram, and Wardak were members of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-e-Islami Party in the 1980s, during the mujahideen struggle against Soviet forces and they still have kept their tie with the party, it said.