“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan

The Taliban’s Approach To Sexual Relations.

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This is what will happen if the Taliban ever take over, again.

AP reports:

“KABUL, Afghanistan — Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan stoned a young couple to death for adultery, which a rights group said was the first confirmed use of the punishment here since the hardline Islamist regime was ousted in 2001.

The Taliban-ordered killing comes at a time when international rights groups have raised worries that attempts to negotiate with the Taliban to bring peace to Afghanistan could mean a step backward for human rights in the country. When the Islamist extremists ruled Afghanistan, women were not allowed to leave their houses without a male guardian, and public killings for violations of their harsh interpretation of the Quran were common.

This weekend’s stoning appeared to arise from an affair between a married man and a single woman in Kunduz province’s Dasht-e-Archi district.

The woman, Sadiqa, was 20 years old and engaged to another man, said the Kunduz provincial police chief, Gen. Abdul Raza Yaqoubi. Her lover, 28-year-old Qayum, left his wife to run away with her, and the two had holed up in a friend’s house five days ago, said district government head, Mohammad Ayub Aqyar.

They were discovered by Taliban operatives on Sunday and stoned to death in front a crowd of about 150 men, Aqyar said.

First the woman was brought out and stoned, then the man a half an hour later, Aqyar said. He decried the punishment, which he said was ordered by two local Taliban commanders.”

Update 1: Amnesty International on the Taliban’s actions and how they constitute War Crimes:

“The Taleban and other insurgent groups should be investigated and prosecuted for war crimes, Amnesty International said today, following the release of a United Nations report showing a rise in targeted killings of civilians in Afghanistan by anti-government fighters.

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan leapt by 31% in the first half of 2010, driven largely by the Taleban and other insurgents’ rising use of improvised explosive devices, and their increased targeting of civilians, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Attacks by the Taleban and other anti-government forces accounted for more than 76% of civilian casualties and 72% of deaths. “

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17/08/2010 at 23:30

Taliban Murder Medical Workers.

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Another example of the Taliban’s real attitude, which should cause their Western supporters, apologists and excuses a moment’s thought, AFP has more:

“Kintoz said they were shot by armed men in a remote area of Badakhshan province, according to the testimony of “Saifullah”, an Afghan who survived.

The group of eight ophthalmologists had been travelling with three Afghans between Badakhshan and Nuristan provinces and spent a few nights in the forest, he reported Saifullah as saying.

“On the last day they were confronted by a group of armed men who lined them up and shot them. Their money and belongings were all stolen,” said Kintoz.

He said that according to Saifullah’s testimony he had escaped death by reading verses of the Koran, prompting the men to realise he was a Muslim and release him in neighbouring Nuristan province.

The police chief said local villagers had warned the group not to enter the dangerous forested area, but they had insisted they would be safe because they were doctors, according to Saifullah’s statement.

He said the bodies had been found in Kuran wa Minjan district, an area on the border with Nuristan province, one day’s drive from the provincial capital Faizabad.”

Update 1: The BBC with sweeping naivete seems to take the Taliban at their word, when they state:

“Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said bibles translated into Dari had been found.”

Even if they had carried copies of Playboy, they should not have been murdered.

They were doctors and aid workers trying to help ordinary Afghans, that should be enough.

Update 2: Another part of the Beeb has at least covered the human side of their murder:

“Blog posts written by Briton Dr Karen Woo, named as one of 10 medics shot dead in Afghanistan, offer a human insight into the aid mission to the war-torn country.

The BBC understands that Dr Woo gave up a well-paid job with private healthcare provider Bupa to work in Afghanistan for minimal financial reward.

She died alongside six Americans, a German and two Afghan interpreters who had been working with Christian charity the International Assistance Mission to provide eye care in remote villages.

Her blog posts reveal that she was driven by a desire to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans – and spread the word about their plight.

On the blog-hosting website Bridge Afghanistan, Dr Woo described the effect on her of a 2009 visit to Kabul, and told of her plans to make a documentary.

“The things that I saw during that visit made me, as a doctor, want to bring back the human stories both good and bad,” she wrote.

“The access that a doctor or healthcare professional has to a community is unlike that available to a journalist; the trust and conversations are different.

“The insight is through the lens of birth and death, of loss and disability, and reflects every aspect of the consequences of conflict on individuals and on their community.” “

Update 3: Dr Woo’s blog is here.

Update 4: Dr Woo followed this particular blog, Thru Afghan Eyes and it is good.

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07/08/2010 at 12:35

Unreported Afghan Civilian Deaths.

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Wikileaks has released a mass of documentation on Afghanistan into the public domain, it should be welcomed.

I assume that this comes in the wake of McCrystal’s dismissal, whatever the reason, it should focus us on how Afghan civilian deaths have been conspicuously underreported in the Western media.

This is Wikileaks and here’s the Afghan war diary.

Update 1: More concerning the leaks can be found on the New York Times’ At War blog.

Update 2: Spiegel’s coverage:

“A total of 91,731 reports from United States military databanks relating to the war in Afghanistan are to be made publicly available on the Internet. Never before has it been possible to compare the reality on the battlefield in such a detailed manner with what the US Army propaganda machinery is propagating. WikiLeaks plans to post the documents, most of which are classified, on its website.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the New York Times and SPIEGEL have all vetted the material and compared the data with independent reports. All three media sources have concluded that the documents are authentic and provide an unvarnished image of the war in Afghanistan — from the perspective of the soldiers who are fighting it.
The reports, from troops engaged in the ongoing combat, were tersely summarized and quickly dispatched. For the most part, they originate from sergeants — but some have been penned by the occasional lieutenant at a command post or ranking analysts with the military intelligence service.

The documents’ release comes at a time when calls for a withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan are growing — even in America. Last week, representatives from more than 70 nations and organizations met in Kabul for the Afghanistan conference. They assured President Hamid Karzai that his country would be in a position by 2014 to guarantee security using its own soldiers and police. “

Update 3: Again at the NYT, Pakistan Aids Insurgency in Afghanistan, Reports Assert.

Update 4: Afghanistan: the war logs from the Guardian. The selected list of deaths makes grim reading.

Update 5: Key incidents as a spreadsheet at the Guardian.

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26/07/2010 at 08:58

Taliban Retribution.

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Next time you’re discussing Afghanistan and someone tells you that the Taliban are the “resistance” and that for the sake of “anti-imperialism” they should be supported, please remind them of this sad event:

“A seven-year-old boy was murdered by the Taleban in an apparent act of retribution this week. Afghan officials said that the child was accused of spying for US and Nato forces and hanged from a tree in southern Afghanistan.

Daoud Ahmadi, the spokesman for the provincial governor of Helmand, said that the killing happened days after the boy’s grandfather, Abdul Woodod Alokozai, spoke out against militants in their home village.

Mr Ahmadi said: “His grandfather is a tribal elder in the village and the village is under the control of the Taleban. His grandfather said some good things about the Government and he formed a small group of people to stand against the Taleban. That’s why the Taleban killed his grandson in revenge.”

The attack happened in Heratiyan, in Sangin, near where insurgents shot down an American Pave Hawk helicopter on Wednesday, killing all four crew. The helicopter was swooping over the town to suppress attacks on a grounded air ambulance, which was picking up British casualties.

Shamsuddin Khan Faryie, an elder in Heratiyan, said that the boy, identified as the son of Abul Qudooz, was seized as he played in his garden. He was found hanged from a nearby tree.”

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12/06/2010 at 13:20

Anti-imperialist’s Poison?

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The Taliban will do anything to attack girl pupils and female students in Afghanistan, from indiscriminate shootings to acid attacks and the destruction of badly needed schools. Even gas attacks.

The Taliban has done that and much more.

Yet they may be sinking to a new low, the poisoning of girls, as the BBC reports:

“In May 2009, Afghan authorities launched an investigation after about 90 schoolgirls fell ill in Kapisa province.

Although officials suspected deliberate poisoning, the results of the inquiry were inconclusive.

In recent years there has been an increase in attacks on schoolgirls in Afghanistan, mainly in the south and east of the country where several acid attacks on schoolgirls have been reported.

Girls were banned from attending school during the rule of the Taliban, who were overthrown in the American-led invasion of 2001.”

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26/04/2010 at 01:45

Not My View.

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This post from Left Foot Forward is not my view, but as there is a poverty of anything meaningful elsewhere, it will have to do:

“President Barack Obama will announce his plan for Afghanistan in a national address to the US next Tuesday, and it is reported that the plan will include sending as many as 30,000 additional troops to the region.

From the beginning of his now weeks-old consultation process with his diplomatic and military advisors, Mr Obama has made it clear that he was looking for a solution beyond the one requested and recommended by the top US regional commander, Stanley McChrystal, which called for an additional 40,000 US troops and increased focus on population-protection based counterinsurgency.

Later on it discusses the various options, I’d suggest that a decentralised government might be more workable. The problem I have with many of these articles is that they look at Afghanistan almost purely from a Western point of view, whereas I, as an anti-Taliban type, think that the defeat of the Taliban should be the end goal, if possible, as that will ensure better conditions for the majority of Afghans. Any way plenty to think about.

Update 1: Terry Gavin often has good stuff on Afghanistan, he’s well worth a read.

Update 2: Some related links, The Afghanistan Analyst’s list of links.

Update 3: The Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

Update 4: The Canada-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee.

Update 5: Afghan women and what would happen if the Taliban return to power:

“Like many of her female colleagues, Wazhma believes women will be the first victims of the chaos and civil war that will ensue if troops withdraw in the near future. And they are in no doubt as to who will fill the power vacuum. ”Look at all the international troops in Afghanistan, and yet still the Taliban is getting stronger ever day,” Hamida says.

The greatest fear about a return to Taliban control – be they ”old”, ”new” or ”moderate” Taliban – is that women will inevitably be thrust back into the dark ages, again forced to submit to the most draconian rules and human rights abuses ever imposed on women anywhere in the world. It was only eight years ago when Afghan women couldn’t work, go to school, or leave their homes without permission and a male escort.

Right now it’s not only women’s rights and freedoms that are at stake. It’s their lives.

Until 2001 women like Hamida and Wazhma kept their activism well hidden. But the post-Taliban freedom has given rise to a growing movement of women who are politically active and visible. As such they are sitting ducks if there is a return to lawless patriarchy. ”They will not leave me alive for a minute,” Wazhma says. Most of the women I talk to know they are on assassination lists.”

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27/11/2009 at 06:13

Civil War or Not.

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In relationship to Afghanistan I asked the question what are the possible outcomes of a precipitous withdraw of NATO troops?

Few people like answering it, but here’s a fair summary of possible events, not comfortable reading:

“The Nineties Afghan Civil War on Steroids:

Even if the international community gave up on Afghanistan and withdrew, as it did from Somalia during the early nineties, it is inconceivable that the Taliban could triumph in the country completely and provide a regime (however perverse) of stability.

About half of Afghanistan’s population is non-Pashtun, from where the Taliban draw their strenth, and most of that non-Pashtun population is ardently anti-Taliban. In the humiliating circumstances that would attend American failure, those in the West who now promote “counterterrorism,” “realist,” and “cost-effective” strategies in the region would probably endorse, in effect, a nineties redux—which would amount to a prescription for more Afghan civil war.

A rump “legitimate” Afghan government dominated by ethnic Tajiks and Uzbeks would find arms and money from India, Iran, and perhaps Russia, Europe and the United States. This would likely produce a long-running civil war between northern, Tajik-dominated ethnic militias and the Pashtun-dominated Taliban.

Tens of thousands of Afghans would likely perish in this conflict and from the pervasive poverty it would produce; many more Afghans would return as refugees to Pakistan, contributing to that country’s instability.”

[My emphasis].

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16/11/2009 at 23:59

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Withdrawal And Then What?

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The politics of a withdrawal from Afghanistan are firmly on the British political agenda, the recent comments by Gordon Brown’s office indicates that, even Nick Clegg is hedging his bets.

Combined with the removal of the United Nation’s western officials, the situation in Afghanistan is looking bleak, despite the urgency of the McChrystal’s request for extra troops the White House is dithering.

There is a distinct possibility that NATO forces and aid agencies could withdraw completely from Afghanistan within the next few years, or before, and despite what some “anti-imperialists” suggest such a course of action would not be a victory, as ultimately the Afghans will suffer a terrible fate.

I think it worthwhile pondering the possible outcomes of a precipitous withdraw of NATO troops.

These preliminary points should not need stating, however, I think they provide a wider context from which we can draw some conclusions.

  • Firstly, the Taliban is engaged in a war of conquest, it wants to control Afghanistan at all costs, the whole country as it did years ago.
  • Secondly, it will use any means to achieve that end, it would gladly kill thousands, if not tens of thousands, or more, that’s what the Taliban will do.
  • Thirdly, the years of neglect and misgovernment have taken their toll and finally, that the joint NATO and Afghan forces are having a real difficulty subduing the Taliban.

All of these points are fairly obvious, but they point to wider problems, should NATO forces leave abruptly then the remaining Afghan forces would have serious difficulties overcoming the Taliban.

Again, if the combined resources of both Afghan and NATO forces can’t readily defeat the Taliban, at the moment, then the Afghan forces on their own probably would not be able to do it. What follows from that is very important, because as far as I can see there are two conceivable outcomes of a hasty withdrawal of NATO forces:

1. Civil war in Afghanistan.

2. A Taliban victory and conquest of the country.

Should a civil war occur in Afghanistan then potentially hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians could be slaughtered, as neither side would pull any punches and use all and any available methods to subdue the other side.

Either with, or without, a civil war a Taliban victory is highly probable.

In victory they will show no mercy, in the past they have deliberately attacked other ethnic minorities in Afghanistan, etc. I am not sure that we need to dwell on what type of society that the Taliban would reconstitute, but 13th century medievalism would be their starting place. Women in Afghanistan would be repressed and made the chattel of men. Girls education would be banned. Most modern innovations, even chess and music, would be made illegal

Under the Taliban the cult of the gun and the bullet made the dominant ideology, all that and much more. Aid agencies would be banned, as they were before, from the country as foreign “interlopers”, the Afghan economy would atrophy and millions of potential refugee’s seek shelter in neighbouring states. Starvation will return to Afghanistan.

Once that has occurred Western states will find any number of reasons not to intervene, as blood drips down the streets and alleyways of villages in Afghanistan.

That is certainly probable, in light of a Taliban victory, and in the West we will hear such nauseating variants on the “they are savages, let them fight it out” theme or “we shouldn’t split a drop of British blood for those Afghans” etc

In such an eventuality, a typically Western mix of isolationism, xenophobia and realpolitik would be used to justify inaction and passivity in the face of a Taliban victory.

All of that, is certainly a possibility, and more probable than many in the West would readily admit. A Taliban victory and the consequences for the ordinary Afghans does not bear thinking about, the result will be untold amounts of bloodshed and parsimonious hand-wringing in the West.

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06/11/2009 at 16:00

Politics, police and military in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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Not quite that grandiose title, but I was pondering those two countries and with the news that is filtering out a couple of things seem clear to me.

In Pakistan there is the question of dual power, not between the people and the military, rather than military and the Islamists. The Islamists chose to attack military installations not civilian ones, as that is where power ultimately resides in Pakistan, with the military.

The audacious nature of the attacks was meant to cower the Pakistani military and leave the road open for the Islamists to take full power. Their attacks were meant to show their strength and instil fear into the Pakistani military, which they hoped would eventually capitulate and allow the takeover of the Pakistani state by the Islamists. I feel that they have underestimated the desire for self-preservation in the Pakistani military as they move into the South Waziristan heartlands. Whatever happens it will be a bloody and murderous campaign.

Listening to the news coming out of America I couldn’t understand why the Obama regime was seemingly dithering over Afghanistan and McChrystal’s request for 40,000 troops, but it’s apparent the politics of the Presidential election is part of the reason. Hamid Karzai doesn’t want to hold a run-off and the Americans are using the issue of reinforcements as pressure on him, after considerable election fraud. Whatever happens any government in Kabul it must have a degree of legitimacy and the extent of fraud perpetrated in the recent presidential election makes it hard for the Americans and others to garner support for a continued presence in Afghanistan. Karzai for his part is reluctant to 1) admit that there was election fraud 2) fight it off in a two way contest, lest he loses.

Not sure which way it will go, but there is more going on than we hear.

On a related topic, a kidnapped American journalist, David Rohde, tells of his time in the hands of the Taliban.

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19/10/2009 at 15:21

The “Anti-Imperialism” Of Bus Bombings.

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Reuters reports:

“KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – A roadside bomb struck a passenger bus outside Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar on Tuesday, killing 12 civilians including women and children, a provincial official said.

Homemade bombs have become by far the deadliest weapon used by insurgents fighting Western and Afghan government forces, and civilians are frequently killed in the blasts.

“Twelve people, among them women and children, have been killed and 15 more civilians were wounded,” provincial government spokesman Zalmai Ayoubi said of the blast.

It happened on a highway where a similar blast killed three civilians a day earlier, he added.

Ayoubi blamed the insurgent Taliban for planting the devices.

Reuters could not immediately reach the Taliban for comment, but the militants usually distance themselves from blasts when civilians are the victims.

Ousted from power in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, the resurgent Taliban largely rely on roadside bombs and suicide attacks in their campaign against the foreign and Afghan forces.

More than 1,500 civilians have been killed by violence in Afghanistan so far this year, the United Nations said last week.

It said 68 percent of the civilian killings were a result of militant attacks, while 23 percent were caused by Afghan and foreign troops led by NATO and the U.S. military.”

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29/09/2009 at 14:53

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Good Analogy.

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Over at Dave Osler’s socialists, “anti-imperialists”, believers in the ‘armed struggle’ and others are arguing over the Taliban and Afghanistan.

It is not a pretty discussion (if it can be called that, with all of the name calling and deliberate bad faith), but one poster, Michael, made a very good analogy:

Imagine if the US was controlled by religious extremists – and Dubya’s government doesn’t really count – a government whose treatment of its citizens, and in particular women, was brutal. Then someone invades them and installs a creaky government whose democratic principles are creaky as well. Are you going to back the wingnut KKK resistance or the dodgy foreign-backed government?

Me? Wouldn’t wholeheartedly support either. Although in the cold sobering light of day I might say the creaky not-quite-perfect foreign sponsored government would be a better platform for the growth of better human rights, better democracy, a better more inclusive education system and all-round improvement for society.

Update 1: We often tend to forget the previous situation in Afghanistan when the Taliban ruled it, and their crimes they perpetrated, just as a reminder:

Amnesty’s 1999 report on Afghanistan: The human rights of minorities.

HRW’s 2001 report on the massacres of Hazaras in Afghanistan.

HRW’s 1998 report Afghanistan: The Massacre in Mazar-I Sharif.

HRW’s 2001 report on the use of child soldiers by Taliban in Afghanistan.

Update 2: Here’s Amnesty’s report on Afghanistan: Women in Afghanistan: Pawns in men’s power struggles.

Update 3:
Another Amnesty report on the Taliban’s deliberate killing of civilians, Afghanistan: summary execution of civilians in Yakaolang.

Update 4: More on the Taliban massacre at Mazar-i Sharif in 1998. HRW’s put it at 2000. The Hazara Nation blog has a more detailed account.

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08/09/2009 at 22:02

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Taliban Chop Off Fingers.

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The Taliban have shown their barbaric side, again, as CNN reports:

“KABUL, Afghanistan (CNN) — Making good on a threat of election day violence, the Taliban sliced off the index fingers of at least two people in Kandahar province, according to a vote monitoring group.

After they cast their ballots, the fingers of Afghan voters are stained with ink to prevent them from voting multiple times. The fingers of the two women in Kandahar, a stronghold of the Taliban, were cut off because they voted, said Nader Naderi of the Free and Fair Election Foundation.”

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22/08/2009 at 13:31

Taliban Abuse Children.

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Although in the West there are some who might well want to paint the Taliban (or the so called neo-Taliban) as somehow moderate, as if they have toned down their excesses of public hanging, or attacks on schoolgirls and the burning down of schools, we only have to wait before that facade is exposed.

More recently, the Taliban carried out a bombing in the center of Herat killing 12 people, injuring another 20.

In concert with that, the Taliban has been abusing children, by recruiting them as child soldiers. Readers will remember that the UN outlawed this disgusting practice about 7 years ago, read more:

“On Sunday, authorities in Swat’s main town of Mingora presented several teenagers alleged to have been forcibly recruited by the Taliban. Seven boys, their lower faces covered to prevent them being recognized, were shown to reporters.

One, a 16-year-old Shaukat Ali, said the militants abducted him while he was playing cricket. He said they told him they wanted him to be “a warrior” and offered to pay his family for his services.

Bashir Ahmad Bilour, senior minister of North West Frontier Province where Swat is located, said that dozens of children had been rescued by security forces and ranged in age from 6 to 15.

He claimed they were being trained as suicide bombers.

“They are prepared mentally. They say that Islam is everything for them. They say they are doing it for Islam. They say they have to carry suicide attacks for the sake of Islam,” Bilour told private Geo TV. “They are brainwashed to such an extreme that they are ready to kill their parents who they call infidels.”

He said 15 of the children were undergoing rehabilitation at an army school in the northwestern town of Mardan.”

This is not the first time, in 2007 UNICEF condemned Taliban’s use of child soldiers. has more, their 2008 report on Afghanistan.

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04/08/2009 at 02:30