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    '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

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    Salaam

    Another update on the situation in Afghanistan

    Rare interviews with militants shine light on resilient movement that resisted both Obama’s surge and now Trump’s ‘killing terrorists’ strategy

    Squatting on the floor, a brown shawl draped over his shoulders, the Taliban commander and his bodyguard swiped on their phones through attack footage edited to look like video games, with computerised crosshairs hovering over targets. “Allahu Akbar,” they said every time a government Humvee hit a landmine.

    Mullah Abdul Saeed, who met the Guardian in the barren backcountry of Logar province where he leads 150 Taliban militants, has fought foreign soldiers and their Afghan allies since the US-led coalition invaded Afghanistan when he was 14. The Taliban now controls its largest territory since being forced from power, and seems to have no shortage of recruits.

    By prolonging and expanding its military presence in Afghanistan, the US aims to coerce the Taliban to lay down arms, but risks hardening insurgents who have always demanded withdrawal of foreign troops before peace talks.

    In interviews with rank-and-file Taliban fighters in Logar and another of Afghanistan’s embattled provinces, Wardak, the Guardian found a fragmented but resilient movement, united in resistance against foreign intervention.

    Referring to Barack Obama’s surge, Saeed said: “150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us.” And an extra 4,000 US soldiers, as Donald Trump will deploy, “will not change the morale of our mujahideen,” he said. “The Americans were walking in our villages, and we pushed them out.” For the Taliban to consider peace, he said, “foreigners must leave, and the constitution must be changed to sharia.”

    Active Taliban footsoldiers rarely agree to meet western reporters. Men such as Saeed, who spoke without leadership permission, provide valuable insight into a movement that after 16 years in armed opposition remains largely an enigma.

    Arriving on a motorbike kicking up dust, Saeed and his Kalashnikov-carrying bodyguard, Yamin, were aloof at first but warmed as the conversation evolved. Saeed said that as the war has changed, the Taliban have adjusted, too. US soldiers now predominantly train Afghans, and have ramped up airstrikes.

    “It’s true, it has become harder to fight the Americans. But we use suicide bombers, and we will use more of them,” Saeed said. “If the US changes its tactics of fighting, so do we.” That change has meant ever-fiercer attacks, with large truck bombs in populated areas and audacious assaults on military bases.

    In April, Taliban fighters in army uniforms stormed a northern army academy and killed at least 150 soldiers in the biggest assault on the army of the entire war. This month, suicide bombers wiped out a whole army unit, ramming two Humvees packed with explosives into a base in Kandahar.

    As Saeed spoke, three young boys from the civilian family at the house where the interview took place brought tea. They giggled as they listened in on the fighters’ radio. Saeed spoke with a calm, professorial demeanour but his words brimmed with the anger of a man who has spent his adult life fighting a generation-long war, and lost 12 family members doing it.

    Pressed on the record-high number of civilian deaths in the war, he said the Taliban “make mistakes” and try to avoid harming civilians, but added: “If there is an infidel in a flock of sheep, you are permitted to attack that flock of sheep.”

    The Taliban was always outnumbered and technologically outmatched by its foreign adversaries, but is arguably at its strongest since 2001, threatening several provincial capitals. The movement, though, is divided, with some lower-ranking commanders backing rivals of the current chief, Mawlawi Haibatullah, or more radical outfits such as Islamic State. But rifts have not stopped the group from advancing.

    Saeed claimed: “10-15 people join the mujahideen [in Logar] every day, sometimes also policemen,” adding that mistreatment by government and foreign forces helps recruitment.

    “Many Taliban become suicide bombers after prison. Why?” he asked, describing how prison guards torture detainees by applying air pressure, beatings or electric shock to their genitals. After a detainee is released, he said, the shame is too much to bear. Such claims of government torture have been documented by the UN.

    While few in the international community think the war can be won militarily, the US shows little intention of reviving the dormant peace process. “We are not nation-building again. We are killing terrorists,” Trump said when announcing his south Asia strategy. “In the end we will win.” Crucially, Trump has not established criteria for when US troops will be pulled home.

    In a separate interview in the beleaguered Wardak province, Omari, 23, who has six years’ frontline experience, told the Guardian he had considered leaving the insurgency and taking his family to Kabul. “But if the Americans come back to Wardak, I will fight them,” he said. Omari was less cavalier than Saeed about civilian casualties, which he said damaged the Taliban’s standing with ordinary Afghans, who have become more reluctant to shelter them.

    Yet, the two militants did agree on one thing: American soft power is as dangerous as uniformed soldiers, especially as US troops have dwindled in numbers. That belief materialised last year when militants, in a stunningly grisly attack, stormed the American University in Kabul, killing 16 students and staff members. In the capital, many regard the university as one of the pinnacles of post-Taliban Afghanistan.

    Though no group claimed responsibility for the attack, Saeed and Omari agreed the university posed a threat. “We should kill those teachers who change the minds of society,” Saeed said.

    Currently, the Taliban seem capable of upholding a slow-burning war, with the help of outside benefactors. After recent US pressure on Pakistan to crack down on militant sanctuaries, some Taliban fighters consider opting for another regional neighbour, Omari said: “Many Taliban want to leave Pakistan for Iran. They don’t trust Pakistan anymore.”

    Pakistan denies harbouring militants, but Saeed admitted receiving assistance from Pakistan, though he denied being under anyone’s thumb. “Having relations is one thing, taking orders is something else,” he said. “Every party, if they want to be stronger, need to talk to other countries. We should talk to Iran, and we should talk to Pakistan. Just like the Afghan government goes to India and China.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/31/150000-americans-couldnt-beat-us-taliban-fighters-defiant-in-afghanistan

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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    I truly sympathy with Afghans but I don't believe Taliban is the answer to the problem ( suicide bomber)
    1 | Likes Mustafa16 liked this post

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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    They are resisting the occupier but I agree with doing wrong is wrong regardless. It might be a forlorn hope but I hope the Afghans can find a solution to their problems with minimal outside interference (regional actors etc). The sooner the Americans leave the better.

    Just a reminder of what it has been like.

    I posted the short version a couple of years back, heres the full version.


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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    May Allah Azza wa Jal give the Muslims in Afghanistan victory. Ameen.
    '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    "When a person sees the road as too long, he weakens in his walk." - Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah

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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Another update

    Afghanistan: Sending More Troops Adds Insult to Blood & Misery

    It is not about humanitarian aid or helping the Afghan people but about political and strategic control of this very important area

    The announcement that the British government is to send 400 plus troops to Afghanistan – bringing British troops there to over 1000 – gives the lie to the idea that the end of the war is in sight. The reverse is true. Islamic State has grown, the Taliban control large parts of the country and there is no security for the ordinary people of Kabul.

    There is never any explanation why this happens, because to try to do so would be to admit that the war launched by George Bush and Tony Blair nearly two decades ago has been an abject failure. The war on terror has not ended terrorism but has greatly increased it in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

    We were told this war ended more than 16 years ago. Since then countless lives have been lost and Afghans live in a war torn and dangerous country. Sending more troops is only compounding the problems.

    Theresa May has done this to please Trump. He is demanding greater military commitment and their ‘special relationship’ means that she is determined to agree. The consequences for British people are more spending on the military, and the risk to British troops sent to fight in this wasteful and unnecessary war.

    It is not about humanitarian aid or helping the Afghan people but about political and strategic control of this very important area.

    The US under Obama said they would withdraw troops, but reversed their decision, and there are now 16,000 US troops there. They do not need this additional number of British troops except for political reasons. We should refuse to accept this right-wing bidding war which is ruining so many lives. Time to get all the troops out.

    http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/...o-blood-misery

    They always seem to 'forget' the kind of reception they receive from the natives.


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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    This is unusual, like to share

    Blurb

    Injured in 1980 while fighting the Afghan Mujahideen, Bakhretdin Khakimov has long been presumed dead. However, 33 years later, the former Soviet intelligence officer was discovered alive and well in Herat under the new name Sheikh Abdullah, having married an Afghan woman and converted to Islam.



    Blurb

    “First tell us what you did in Afghanistan all those years. Then we'll decide whether or not we can shake hands,” said Gennady-Nikmamat's fellow soldiers after he had been assumed to be a traitor and disappeared for 29 years. This is the unique story of Gennady-Nikmamat, a former Soviet soldier who was captured by the Mujahideen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. He was presumed a turncoat, which carried a criminal penalty if he ever returned to his homeland. Thus he had no choice but to stay in Afghanistan and adopt a Muslim way of life. Gennady-Nikmamat married an Afghan woman, had four children with her and has lived a full life, but he never abandoned the dream of returning home. After finally coming back to Ukraine to see his relatives and visit his parents' graves for the first time, he still can't decide whether it was better that he survived or if he should have ended up just another unknown soldier lost in the turmoil of war.


    Last edited by Junon; 07-23-2018 at 07:28 PM.

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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Another update

    Afghans march hundreds of kilometres for peace

    It started as a group of nine men. Now dozens have joined and are walking 700km - from Helmand to Kabul - while fasting to call for an end to decades of devastating war and violence.


    It started as a group of nine Afghan men who set out from Helmand to Kabul to raise their demand, "no more war".

    Now dozens have joined and are walking the 700km, while fasting, to call for an end to decades of devastating war and violence.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/06/afghans-march-hundreds-kilometres-peace-180611154253770.html


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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    A chance of a negotiated settlement?


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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Another update, what a surprise.

    Qatar, UAE to join US war in Afghanistan


    Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are to join the longest conflict in US history, by supporting the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan.

    Abu Dhabi and Doha will be part of a multi-nation fight codenamed “Operation Resolute Support”, according to the Washington Post. Both Gulf countries will focus on training and advising Afghan forces. Official numbers on how many troops will be deployed has not been disclosed but the military inclusion is set to be approved next week during NATO’s ministerial meeting in Brussels.

    Both Qatar and the UAE are rivals in the Gulf region, where Doha remains to endure an air, land and sea blockade over allegations of supporting terrorism and extremism. To add, President Donald Trump backed the allegations against Qatar last year. But Qatar continues to categorically deny the claims, and has since turned the tables by proving to the US that it is committed to combating terrorism. Trump has since repeatedly urged Gulf states to end the rift.

    Qatar has been vying to become a full-member of NATO to boost its security outlook but was rejected on the basis that only European countries could qualify, according to the Washington Treaty. Whether this was a major set back for which Doha is looking to prove worthiness in Afghanistan is unclear.

    The conflict in Afghanistan began in 2001, it saw the US lead 40 other countries to fight Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and associated forces who they said were responsible for the armed attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. Qatar’s cargo planes previously provided resupply missions to nations fighting in Afghanistan.

    Qatar played a “major role” in the Afghan conflict by opening a Taliban office in Doha, in a bid to broker a peace deal with the US. Despite the Taliban praising Qatar last year on their efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan, relations may soar with Qatar’s deployment in Afghanistan.

    Leaked emails from Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef Al-Otaibi showed that the UAE was vying to open an office for the Taliban in its territories, however the group which governed Afghanistan setup a base in Qatar instead. UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah Bin Zayed was “angry” following the announcement.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180709-qatar-uae-to-join-us-war-in-afghanistan/
    Last edited by Junon; 08-04-2018 at 08:19 PM.

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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Why the reconstruction of Afghanistan failed.

    Blurb

    The US war in Afghanistan has raged for 16 years, since the US invaded after 9/11, in 2001. At the onset, a centerpiece of US strategy was to rebuild Afghanistan's crumbling infrastructure. This move expedited military logistics and maneuvers, while simultaneously reigniting travel between Afghanistan's major cities. But when the US started its war in Iraq, that diverted resources and manpower from the battlefield of Afghanistan. And the Taliban didn't miss the chance. To date, the most ambitious roadbuilding project, known as the Ring Road, has seen over $3 billion spent on its renewal. And it was never completed.


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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Another update, another perspective.

    Afghanistan: The War That Shames America

    After 17 bloody years, the longest war in US history continues without relent or purpose in Afghanistan.

    There, a valiant, fiercely-independent people, the Pashtun (Pathan) mountain tribes, have battled the full might of the US Empire to a stalemate that has so far cost American taxpayers $4 trillion, and 2,371 dead and 20,320 wounded soldiers. No one knows how many Afghans have died. The number is kept secret.


    Pashtun tribesmen in the Taliban alliance and their allies are fighting to oust all foreign troops from Afghanistan and evict the western-imposed and backed puppet regime in Kabul that pretends to be the nation’s legitimate government. Withdraw foreign troops and the Kabul regime would last for only days.

    The whole thing smells of the Vietnam War. Lessons so painfully learned by America in that conflict have been completely forgotten and the same mistakes repeated. The lies and happy talk from politicians, generals and media continue apace.

    This week, Taliban forces occupied the important strategic city of Ghazni on the road from Peshawar to Kabul. It took three days and massive air attacks by US B-1 heavy bombers, Apache helicopter gun ships, A-10 ground attack aircraft, and massed warplanes from US bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar and the 5th US Fleet to finally drive back the Taliban assault. Taliban also overran key military targets in Kabul and the countryside, killing hundreds of government troops in a sort of Afghan Tet offensive.

    Afghan regime police and army units put up feeble resistance or ran away. Parts of Ghazni were left in ruins. It was a huge embarrassment to the US imperial generals and their Afghan satraps who had claimed ‘the corner in Afghanistan has finally been turned.’

    Efforts by the Trump administration to bomb Taliban into submission have clearly failed. US commanders fear using American ground troops in battle lest they suffer serious casualties. Meanwhile, the US is running low on bombs.

    Roads are now so dangerous for the occupiers that most movement must be by air. Taliban is estimated to permanently control almost 50% of Afghanistan. That number would rise to 100% were it not for omnipresent US air power. Taliban rules the night.

    Taliban are not and never were ‘terrorists’ as Washington’s war propaganda falsely claimed. I was there at the creation of the movement – a group of Afghan religious students armed by Pakistan whose goal was to stop post-civil war banditry, the mass rape of women, and to fight the Afghan Communists. When Taliban gained power, it eliminated 95% of the rampant Afghanistan opium-heroin trade. After the US invaded, allied to the old Afghan Communists and northern Tajik tribes, opium-heroin production soared to record levels. Today, US-occupied Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, morphine and heroin.

    US occupation authorities claim drug production is run by Taliban. This is another big lie. The Afghan warlords who support the regime of President Ashraf Ghani entirely control the production and export of drugs. The army and secret police get a big cut. How else would trucks packed with drugs get across the border into Pakistan and Central Asia?

    The United States has inadvertently become one of the world’s leading drug dealers. This is one of the most shameful legacies of the Afghan War. But just one. Watching the world’s greatest power bomb and ravage little Afghanistan, a nation so poor that some of its people can’t afford sandals, is a huge dishonor for Americans.

    Even so, the Pashtun defeated the invading armies of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, the Mogul Emperors and the mighty British Raj. The US looks to be next in the Graveyard of Empires.

    Nobody in Washington can enunciate a good reason for continuing the colonial war in Afghanistan. One hears talk of minerals, women’s rights and democracy as a pretext for keeping US forces in Afghanistan. All nonsense. A possible real reason is to deny influence over Afghanistan, though the Chinese are too smart to grab this poisoned cup. They have more than enough with their rebellious Uighur Muslims.

    Interestingly, the so-called ‘terrorist training camps’ supposedly found in Afghanistan in 2001 were actually guerilla training camps run by Pakistani intelligence to train Kashmiri rebels and CIA-run camps for exiled Uighur fighters from China.

    The canard that the US had to invade Afghanistan to get at Osama bin Laden, alleged author of the 9/11 attacks, is untrue. The attacks were made by Saudis and mounted from Hamburg and Madrid, not Afghanistan. I’m not even sure bin Laden was behind the attacks.

    My late friend and journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave shared my doubts and insisted that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar offered to turn bin Laden over to a court in a Muslim nation to prove his guilt or innocence.

    President George Bush, caught sleeping on guard duty and humiliated, had to find an easy target for revenge – and that was Afghanistan.

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/israels-intention-to-annex-the-west-bank-revealed/5651305?platform=hootsuite

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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Like to share

    Blurb


    India has sought to establish its presence in Afghanistan from the early days of its independence from Britain in 1947. In 1950, Afghanistan and India signed a "Friendship Treaty." India had robust ties with Afghan King Zahir Shah’s regime. Prior to the Soviet invasion in 1979, New Delhi continued to formalized agreements and protocols with various pro-Soviet regimes in Kabul. But what are India's strategic political and economic interests there? In this video, we will look at India's interests in Afghanistan.


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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    It is not a Muslim's nature to be defiant, rather an intelligent and obedient Muslim's actions and objectives are defined by humility and obedience to Allah with clear thought of what is best in Allah 's sight.

    I believe that the tualibaan (if they are knowledgeably striving for Allah's sake) would never refer to themselves as defiant, and neither would Allah - rather they would define themselves as those who strive to uphold justice for Allah's sake.
    '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan













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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Another update





    CAGE adds key evidence of 17 years of human rights violations since 9/11 – and the US threatens the ICC for seeking accountability

    CAGE as well as survivors of US war crimes in Afghanistan are involved in an unprecedented case against the US administration at the International Criminal Court, which has resulted in the US facing accusations of war crimes in Afghanistan.

    CAGE outreach director Moazzam Begg and several other survivors of US abuse in the ‘Salt Pit’, the ‘Dark Prison’, Kandahar and Bagram have brought evidence forward attesting to the way in which the US administration, under the guise of bringing those responsible for the 9/11 attacks to justice, has arrested, tortured and held without trial or charge hundreds if not thousands of innocent people.

    Despite this evidence, the US is adopting an attitude of denial and belligerence, threatening to arrest members of the ICC and calling it a “dying” organisation. This demonstrates clearly the US’s rejection of any semblance of international justice, in favour of protecting its military industrial complex and its geopolitical interests at the expense of ensuring a global standard of accountability and ethics.

    Moazzam Begg, outreach director for CAGE, said:


    “The case we have lodged with the ICC is unprecedented and it comes at a crucial time, where the words ‘national security’ and ‘terrorism’ are useful labels used to silence dissent and muzzle those that seek justice. We urge the ICC to stand up to these threats by the United States and continue to call them out for what they are: a threat to international stability.”

    “It is quite extraordinary and telling that the US has threatened to prosecute and place sanctions against ICC officials and anyone aiding them in seeking accountability for US involvement in war crimes in Afghanistan. The Taliban and Afghan Army who are also being investigated have made not made any such threats.”

    “Thousands were killed in the 9/11 attacks, but in the wake of this terrible event, the US has caused the death of over 1 million people, mostly Muslims, directly or indirectly in its war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The time has come to put a stop to this war machine, so that justice and accountability can be restored.”

    https://www.cage.ngo/cage-adds-key-evidence-of-17-years-of-human-rights-violations-since-9-11-and-the-us-threatens-the-icc-for-seeking-accountability

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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    More comment

    Blurb

    The US war in Afghanistan just keeps going on and on. We ignore it. This video puts the disaster in context by comparing it to Soviet and British attempts to control the same country.


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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Another update

    Tragically, Stop the War Has Been Proved Right About Afghanistan. Our Leaders Still Won’t Listen.

    Seventeen years on, Stop the War's grimmest warnings have proved to be understatement writes Chris Nineham

    Seventeen years ago, the newly founded Stop the War Coalition warned that an attack on Afghanistan would lead to the death of tens of thousands of innocent civilians and devastation in the country. We predicted that Western troops would be bogged down there for years and that far from making the world a safer place, the invasion would lead to the spread of terrorism in Afghanistan and way beyond. Tragically, our grimmest warnings have proved to be understatement.

    Tony Blair, George Bush and their supporters rejoiced at the fall of Kabul to their allies, the warlords of the Northern Alliance on November 13, 2001. This followed weeks of aerial bombardment and fierce fighting in various parts of the north of the country. The BBC’s John Simpson literally fronted up the liberation of the capital Kabul. Apparently forgetting he was supposed to be a journalist he and his crew walked into the city ahead of the tanks of the Northern Alliance waving to what he took to be adoring crowds.

    The Guardian enthused that ‘the Taliban myth is dead’, claiming that ‘Just as Nazism vanished into the ether…the Taliban brand of insane fundamentalism may now ebb away’.

    Bombing for democracy

    But the Taliban was not dead, its leaders had simply ordered a retreat. Opposition to the Northern Alliance’s brutal rule of large parts of the country, and distaste for yet another foreign intervention in a country wrecked by foreign occupation and war since 1979 led to increasing resistance. In 2003 the Western operation was handed over to NATO and the number of occupying troops began to rise. Despite this, in 2006 the Taliban started to make significant gains in various different parts of the country.

    In response there were big Western troop surges in 2006 and again under Obama in 2009. Bizarrely recycling the military jargon of Vietnam, experts claimed that the aim was to "clear and hold" villages backed up by what were called "nation building” projects. Announcing British participation in the first of these surges, Defence Secretary John Reid claimed sending more troops was not an act of war and that he would be happy if the soldiers returned without firing a single shot.

    Death and the damage done

    By 2011, ten years after the initial invasion, and millions of live rounds later, there were 140,000 Western led troops in the country. In depth Research by the Physicians for Social Responsibility suggested that 220,000 people had been killed in Afghanistan, and predictably, the death rate was rising with the number of foreign troops engaged. Western troop deaths peaked in 2010 and reached 3,000 by 2012, including more than 400 from Britain.

    The shocking death toll cannot capture the full human horror of the occupation. Endless bombing and ground combat destroyed infrastructure, wrecked an already fragile economy and ensured that whole regions of the country were unsafe. Directly contradicting Cherie Blair’s claims that western bombs would prove liberating for Afghan women, the experience of the war for women was particularly devastating. Survey’s showed that by 2011 Afghanistan was probably the most dangerous country in the world for women.

    Virtually unreported, the agony of Afghanistan has continued since that time. In fact in recent months the situation has deteriorated. In 2016, an average of 22 people were dying per day in the war between the Taliban and the Western backed security forces. This figure was so bad that the Western alliance decided to stop publishing the figures. The International Crisis Group suggests Afghanistan experienced the most intense fighting in the winter of 2017/18 than in any other winter since 2001. According to a New York Times special report Senior Afghan officials now estimate that the daily kill rate has climbed to between 50 and 60 in the last few months. Government figures show that the percentage of districts under ‘insurgent’ control has gone up by 50% since 2015.

    Seventeen years after the Western invasion, the Taliban is gaining momentum, making territorial progress and winning battle after battle.

    Facing defeat?

    While reports circulate of diplomatic initiatives, there is, incredibly, a new Western military escalation. Donald Trump launched what he called a ‘new’ South Asia strategy in the summer of last year. He promised ‘no hasty exit’ from Afghanistan, promised to ‘pursue the Taliban and others more aggressively’ and added ‘we are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists’.

    True to his word the US has led the new surge which has taken NATO troop numbers back up to 16,000 and sharply increased the number of US airstrikes on the country. In lock step with her transatlantic friend, Theresa May recently announced the deployment of 440 additional British troops to Afghanistan in the next few months, bringing British troop strength to 1,000.

    Her defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, this week made the claim that Britain has become ‘too timid’ regarding military intervention. Most people in the country believe the opposite. Terrified of global competitors, the US and their British allies are not just incapable of learning from history, they can’t even recognize defeat. Every extra day we stay in Afghanistan brings more pointless death and misery. Every day makes the world a more dangerous place.

    http://www.stopwar.org.uk/index.php/news-comment/3157-tragically-stop-the-war-has-been-proved-right-about-afghanistan-our-leaders-still-won-t-listen

  21. #17
    Junon's Avatar
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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Another update

    ICC on collision course with US over looming Afghan war crimes probe

    Lawyers say probe into alleged war crimes is inevitable, but Washington's determination to block case could be crisis moment for international law


    The International Criminal Court appears to be poised to open a formal investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by American forces and CIA officers in Afghanistan, despite the threat of US sanctions.

    A pre-trial chamber at The Hague-based ICC is currently considering a request from the court’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, that all three main parties to the war in Afghanistan – the Taliban, the Kabul government and the United States – be subject to a formal investigation.

    Leading international lawyers spoken to by Middle East Eye agree that the legal tests that must be considered by the ICC have been met, and that a war crimes investigation now appears inevitable. Some suggest that a failure to investigate would be “scandalous”, and fatally undermine the stature of the court.

    However, a formal investigation will set the ICC on a collision course with the United States government, which has made clear it intends to thwart the inquiry – an outcome that would also damage the court’s reputation.

    As a consequence, observers say, a court that was established to “guarantee lasting respect for the enforcement of international justice” is now considering not only its responsibilities in law, but also how best to secure its own future.
    'We will not sit quietly'

    Last month US National Security Advisor John Bolton made clear that his government would not only refuse to co-operate, but would ban Bensouda and her ICC colleague from entering the country, seize their assets and even prosecute them in the US criminal courts.

    In a speech, Bolton said an inquiry into war crimes in Afghanistan would be an “utterly unfounded, unjustifiable investigation”.

    The US-led invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001 came just weeks after the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks in New York and Washington and quickly led to the fall of the Taliban government in Kabul.

    But US and allied forces remained bogged down for years in a violent conflict, and the Taliban and other militant groups continue to control large areas of the country.

    "If the court comes after us, Israel, or other US allies we will not sit quietly,” Bolton said. “We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead.”

    The US has not ratified the Rome Statute, the piece of international law that established the ICC in 2002 in order to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of state aggression.

    Afghanistan has ratified the statute, however, meaning the court has jurisdiction over crimes committed as a consequence of the war in that country since 1 May 2003.

    The ICC has told the US government that the pre-trial chamber is on the verge of making its decision, according to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders.

    Lawyers spoken to by Middle East Eye believe it will be difficult for the ICC to refuse Bensouda’s request because of the wealth of evidence that significant numbers of war crimes have been committed in Afghanistan.

    In the case of the US, this evidence includes the 2014 US Senate Intelligence Committee report, which drew upon the CIA’s own records to document human rights abuses that the agency committed in a global network of secret prisons; reports by the International Committee of the Red Cross; and findings by the European Court of Human Rights.

    The US government may seek UN Security Council permission to delay any investigation, however. Even if an inquiry is launched, the lack of US co-operation will seriously hinder its progress, leading some international law experts to doubt that any American defendants will ever find themselves in the dock at The Hague.

    The UN Security Council can defer a formal investigation if nine members agree, as long as none of the five permanent members – the US, Russia, the UK, France and China – veto such a move.

    In a preliminary report in 2017, Bensouda said there was a reasonable basis to believe that US forces personnel and CIA officers had been involved in the war crimes of torture and rape, and that the crimes committed at the agency’s so-called black sites in countries including Poland, Lithuania and Romania, had been “committed with particular cruelty”.

    A number of the detainees held at these sites were then consigned to the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

    Bensouda has said that crimes were inflicted on a relatively small number of people detained by the US military in Afghanistan.

    If a formal investigation is launched, the ICC is expected to investigate officers who served within the military command structure in country. In relation to the CIA, however, she has expressed an interest in "those who developed, authorised, or bore oversight responsibility" for the agency's interrogation methods, meaning that senior officials at the agency - or their political masters - could find themselves under investigation.

    'Very low threshold'


    The Rome Statute says that the ICC “shall authorise an investigation” if there is a “reasonable basis” to believe that crimes within its jurisdiction have been committed. During proceedings that led to the investigation and prosecution of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, the court ruled that the term “reasonable basis” should be seen as a low bar to cross.

    “There’s a very low threshold,” Katherine Gallagher, senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, told MEE. “She’s not asking for an indictment. She’s simply asking to investigate. And there’s a tremendous amount of information in the public domain.”

    Chantal Meloni, legal advisor to the international crimes and accountability programme at the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights said: “I think at this point it would be seen as a scandal to not authorise this investigation: it would be really shocking in a way.”

    However, Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London, who has appeared as counsel before the ICC, warned that an investigation is not a foregone conclusion.

    “It is a matter of the most serious concern that nothing has happened before now, and that fact has tended to undermine the reputation of the institution in the eyes of many,” he told MEE.

    But with the court now in a vulnerable position, caught between the need to be seen to be acting, on the one hand, and the desire not to undermine the support of an important country, Sands believes political considerations will be inevitable.

    'The path is not clear'

    Cornell Law School professor Joe Margulies, who represents the Guantanamo inmate Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi national who was waterboarded 83 times according to the Senate report into the CIA torture programme, also questions whether an effective investigation will ever take place.

    “The public comments that Bolton made are really just the tip of the iceberg of diplomatic efforts that are taking place behind the scenes to defer indefinitely an ICC investigation,” he said. “That which is said publicly is a window into what is going on.”

    No Americans are likely to prosecuted in the foreseeable future, Margulies said. “Even if the path were clear, it would be years, and the path is not clear.”

    International lawyers agree on one matter: the ICC now finds itself between a rock and a very hard place.

    Some African observers have accused the court of abandoning the pursuit of global justice in favour of the pursuit only of African leaders, and will see a failure to investigate the US as evidence of this, possibly triggering renewed calls for an African Union walkout.

    rest here

    https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/icc-collision-course-us-over-looming-afghanistan-war-crimes-probe-366131245



    Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association, said: “I think that the legal condition will be met: I think there will be a decision to permit her to proceed.”

  22. #18
    Junon's Avatar
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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Another update

    The Kremlin’s comeback

    Thirty years after the Soviet Union’s humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, Moscow wants back in.


    Russia has been cultivating ties with the Taliban to increase its influence in Afghanistan three decades after Moscow’s humiliating defeat there helped hasten the Soviet Union’s collapse.


    Russian engagement with the militants drew attention, and some flak, when the Kremlin invited Taliban representatives to Moscow for a meeting in September. That invitation was rescinded — at least temporarily — after the Afghan government objected, saying it must take the lead in any talks.

    But the diplomatic kerfuffle laid bare the Kremlin’s effort to reassert itself in Afghanistan, an initiative that has included discreet contacts with Taliban leaders and a military buildup along the country’s northern edge.

    Moscow has also sought to reclaim its role as regional power broker, convening secret discussions with the United States, Iran, Pakistan, India and China and seeking to ensure any finale to the conflict suits Russian interests.

    It is part of a strategy, analysts said, to protect Russia’s southern flank from the Islamic State’s emergence in Central Asia and hedge against the possibility of an abrupt U.S. exit from Afghanistan after 17 years of war.

    The Russian gambit is a relatively modest political investment that could yet yield outsize dividends as Moscow seeks to prove its global heft. “Supporting the Taliban in a small way is an insurance policy for the future,” said Artemy Kalinovsky, a scholar of Central Asian history at the University of Amsterdam.

    Gen. John Nicholson Jr., who recently stepped down as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said Moscow is trying to “drive a wedge” between the United States and its coalition partners.

    “We know that Russia is attempting to undercut our military gains and years of military progress in Afghanistan and make partners question Afghanistan’s stability,” he said in a recent interview.

    As Russia has increased its profile, there have been allegations, unsubstantiated but persistent, from Nicholson and other senior U.S. officials that the Kremlin has provided small arms to the Taliban, or at least tolerated a supply of Russian weapons to the militants from Central Asia. Russia has denied the accusations.

    U.S. officials doubt that Moscow is trying to help secure victory for the militants, the successors of the mujahideen guerrillas who battled the Soviet troops in the 1980s. Instead, the officials said, Russia is trying to strengthen its own position without provoking the United States — and a few crates of Kalashnikovs can facilitate meetings and establish relationships without altering the battlefield.

    Russia’s return comes as the Trump administration struggles to reverse a prolonged Taliban resurgence and push the militants toward a deal. While a more expansive military mission has helped Afghan forces defend populated areas, vast swaths of the country remain no-go zones.

    In August, militants temporarily overran a provincial capital, underscoring the fragility of the Afghan government’s grip on the country.

    Against that backdrop, U.S. officials fear that the Kremlin’s intervention may complicate if not damage the effort to foster peace talks by giving the militants new avenues of support, thus reducing their incentive to cut a deal.

    “The Taliban needs to feel the Russian pressure to negotiate rather than feeling emboldened by another patron,” said a senior Trump administration official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive policy. “That is the concern.”

    Rest here

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/world/wp/2018/10/12/feature/behind-the-scenes-russia-regains-a-complicated-status-afghanistan-power-broker/?utm_term=.0467967a74c0

  23. #19
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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Salaam

    Another update.

    Afghan Taliban officials: 'US agrees to discuss troops pullout'

    US agrees to discuss pullout of troops from Afghanistan as part of talks to end 17-year war, Taliban officials say.


    The United States has agreed to discuss the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan in a direct meeting with Taliban representatives in Qatar, officials from the armed group said.

    In a preliminary meeting in Doha on Friday, Taliban representatives and US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad discussed the Taliban's conditions to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan, two top Taliban officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera.

    "Six US delegates arrived in Doha to have a meeting with our (Taliban) leaders [and] agreed to discuss all issues, including the pullout of foreign troops," one of the officials said.

    "But, it was a preliminary meeting and all issues were discussed in general, not in detail," he added, saying more talks were expected to take place in the near future.

    Last year, US President Donald Trump increased the number of US forces in the country as part of a new strategy against the Taliban. There are now about 14,000 US soldiers in the country. The Taliban has previously said the presence of foreign troops was the biggest obstacle to peace in Afghanistan.

    In addition to the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban's conditions include the lifting of sanctions on its leaders, the release of their fighters imprisoned in Afghanistan, and the establishment of an official political office.

    At the request of the US, a Taliban office was established in Doha in 2013 to facilitate peace talks but it was shut shortly after opening when it came under pressure over a flag hung outside the office, the same flag that was flown during the Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

    Then Afghan President Hamid Karzai subsequently halted peace efforts, saying the office was presenting itself as an unofficial embassy for a government-in-exile.

    The flag has since been taken down and the office has been empty with no official announcements about a possible reopening.

    Talks with the Taliban have since been taking place elsewhere in Doha.

    US officials in Kabul and Zalmay Khalilzad were not immediately available to comment on Saturday's gathering in the Qatari capital.

    It was the second time that US officials met the group in Qatar. The first meeting took place in July, and included US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Alice Wells.

    In recent months, Khalilzad, who was appointed as US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation in September, has met officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in a bid to renew the long-stalled direct talks with the Taliban.

    'US puppets'


    The Taliban, Afghanistan's largest armed group which was toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001, has repeatedly turned down offers of talks with the Afghan government, calling them "US puppets", despite calls from Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to start negotiations.

    Instead, they demanded to meet US officials for talks primarily on foreign troops withdrawal.

    In July, the US announced it was ready for direct talks with the Taliban to seek negotiations and to "discuss the role of international forces".

    Abdul Salam Zaeef, a former Taliban ambassador to Pakistan who is now based in Doha and in contact with the Taliban representatives, confirmed the US decision to discuss a pullout from Afghanistan.

    "As per my information, the US has reached an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw troops from Afghanistan but the US officials have not yet agreed on a date," he said.

    "The US is not winning in Afghanistan. They are aware of that, which means they have to agree on the Taliban's conditions for ending the war in the country."

    Some analysts, however, fear the withdrawal of foreign troops will not end the long-running conflict in Afghanistan.

    In recent months, there has been a surge in violence across the country, with heavy clashes between the Taliban and Afghan security forces from the provinces of Badakhshan, Baghlan and Faryab in the north to the province of Farah in the west.

    Power-sharing

    Faizullah Zaland, a political analyst based in Kabul, said long-term international support and a power-sharing agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government is necessary to end the war.

    "The US has tried all its methods, policies and strategies to limit the Afghan war, but instead the war has grown even more. The Taliban has got more land and more control in the country," he said.

    The US strategy in 2017 of increasing troops in Afghanistan by raising the number of soldiers from 8,400 to about 14,000, has also "failed", he said

    "The international community's long-term support is the only guarantee for Afghan peace, in addition to a power-sharing agreement with the Taliban."

    In May, Farah city, one of the largest cities of Afghanistan, was on the verge of falling to the Taliban, which would have made it the second city, after Kunduz in 2015, to fall under the Taliban since the war began in 2001.

    In an attempt to put an end fight, in February, Ghani offered recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political group and involvement in a constitutional review that he said could bring the group to the negotiating table to end the 17-year war.

    But the Taliban continued fighting as their demand to meet directly with US officials was ignored.

    Last week, the Taliban issued a warning that its fighters would target government security forces to disrupt the October 20 parliamentary elections.

    Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesperson for the Taliban said, fighters will target "people who are trying to help in holding this process successfully by providing security".

    He added that "no stone should be left unturned for the prevention and failure" of the election.

    As of January 2018, the Afghan government only controls 56.3 percent of the country, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) released in May.

    The Taliban, meanwhile, holds 59 districts, while the remaining 119 - about 29.2 percent - are contested, meaning they are controlled by neither the Afghan government nor the armed group.

    In a report last week, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said at least 8,050 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of 2018.

    Half of them were killed in suicide attacks and bombings that might amount to war crimes, UNAMA said

    "Civilian deaths have not been the main concern during these talks, but in reality, civilian casualties is the grimmest part of this war and the credit goes to all sides engaged in this conflict," Zaland, the political analyst told Al Jazeera.

    "Trust building measurements should be soon taken in order to build the trust of civilians for them to support the peace process."

    He was not present at the meeting, but said the withdrawal of foreign troops "now only requires a timeline for implementation".

    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/10/afghan-taliban-officials-agrees-discuss-troops-pullout-181013134957130.html

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  25. #20
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    Re: '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    Greetings and peace be with you Junon;

    I saw a programme on the BBC last night, they said about a 100,000 US troops have committed suicide since returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, that is about 22 every day. I can only think they saw things and did things that did not sit right with them.

    In the spirit of praying for justice for all people,

    Eric
    '150,000 Americans couldn’t beat us': Taliban fighters defiant in Afghanistan

    You will never look into the eyes of anyone who does not matter to God.

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