The Thugs of Afghanistan: Time for NATO to Reconsider its Role in Afghanistan

November 16th, 2006 - by admin

Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan & Vancouver Sun – 2006-11-16 09:24:08

An 11-years-old girl is abducted and raped by the very Afghan warlords that the US has backed in a bid for stability.

The Thugs of Afghanistan
RAWA Report, November 5, 2006

(November 7, 2006) — Sanobar, 11-years-old girl, is abducted and raped by warlords. Malom Zafar Shah, the district chief, and powerful warlord Mehmood, both from the “Northern Alliance”, are accused of this crime.

Gulsha, the suffering mother of Sanobar accuses Malom Zafar (district chief) and Commander Mehmood, a local warlord, to be linked with the crime.

Sanobar, 11-years-old daughter of Gulsha, an Afghan widow, has been abducted, raped and then exchanged with a dog by warlords in Aliabad district of Kondoz province in North of Afghanistan.

The suffering mother, while crying, says: “a month ago at 11 o’clock of night armed men entered my house and after beating and threatening me by gun, abducted my only daughter.”

She accused the district chief Malom Zafar Shah and a powerful warlord Commander Mehmood to be responsible for this crime.

Gulsha says later it was found that her daughter has been raped and exchanged with a dog and a sum of money to another person but her whereabouts are still unknown.

While crying she told journalists: “I approached human rights office and police but none of them could help to find my daughter. The district chief himself has 4 daughters but he sold my daughters to others. With many difficulties and problems I grown up 2 daughters, one was previously sold [by him] to a Kandahari man and taken to Pakistan and another was exchanged with a dog. Please bring them to justice.”

Both Malom Zafar Shah and warlord Mehmood are from the “Northern Alliance” and members of Jamiat-e Islami Afghanistan led by Burhanuddin Rabbani (currently member of the Parliament). They have a long record of such crimes and brutalities against people of Kondoz. Malom Zafar has been appointed as district chief directly by Qasim Fahim the former defense minister and vice President and now member of Senate.

In an interview with Ariana TV, Malom Zafar rejected all charges against himself and Commander Mehmmod telling “no Jehadi brother is involved in such crimes.”

Mohammad Zahir Zafari, chief of the human rights office in Kondoz says, they have tried since a month to find the child but police is also unable to do anything as powerful people have link to the crime. He also exposed that his office was threatened a number of times to stop following of the case.

Such crimes happen on daily bases in Kundoz and other parts of Afghanistan where warlords have established jungle law and have all the key positions in their possession.

Unfortunately only few of such cases find its way to the media, most journalists are too afraid to report it as it can have dangerous consequences for them.

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It’s Time for a NATO Review of Efforts in Afghanistan
Jonathan Manthorpe / Vancouver Sun

(November 8, 2006) — As American voters give the administration of George W. Bush their verdict on his Iraqi escapade, it is also time for Canada and its NATO allies to review the results of their efforts in Afghanistan.

In recent months various agencies and military and civilian administrators have been making assessments of the state of play five years after the United States-led coalition invaded Afghanistan to remove the Taliban rulers and end their support for al-Qaida terrorists.

The assessments do not make pretty reading.

The overall picture is that despite hard and successful recent offensives by NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), and especially the Canadians in Kandahar and British in Helmand, the resurgent Taliban is extending its influence and active battlefronts north and west from its ethnic Pashtun heartland in those southern provinces.

There are two main reasons for this. One is dissatisfaction often reaching contempt for the government in Kabul.

The other is growing resentment at the presence of the NATO forces. The North Atlantic alliance troops are seen more and more as an army of occupation rather than the bringers and insurers of peace and stability. Resentment is fed, of course, every time local civilians become accidental victims of NATO attacks.

The hub of the problem is the non-functional government of President Hamid Karzai, whose slender authority stems from his selection by Washington as its man in Kabul, rather than from the October 2004 elections.

These were more an exercise in public relations than a thorough expression of democracy. And like similar elections in Iraq, the Afghan election has only served to accentuate the fault lines in society.

The rush to hold elections before any sound administrative foundations had been constructed and before the culture of courtesy and respect that are essential to the functioning of democracy had been instilled seems foolish in retrospect.

As a result the Karzai administration’s governing capacity doesn’t go far beyond the city limits of Kabul, and frequently not even that far.

Among ordinary Afghans the Karzai regime is seen as being terminally corrupt and without popular support. In addition, the legislature is viewed as little more than a social club for regional warlords and drug traffickers.

One recent report calculated that among the 249 members of the lower house of the congress there are at least 17 known drug traffickers, 40 regional warlords, 24 members of criminal gangs and 19 men facing allegations of war crimes or human rights abuses.

With such a band of cut-throats running the country it is hardly surprising that the mainstay of the economy is the cultivation and trafficking of the opium poppy and that “liberated” Afghanistan now feeds 92 per cent of the global market in this street drug.

Afghanistan’s peasant farmers are usually not willing cogs in the wheels in this trade. Normal agriculture doesn’t work because of lack of seed and fertilizer inputs or functional markets for produce.

In these circumstances the drug lords easily bind farmers into a cycle of debt bondage in which they are constantly growing poppies to pay off last year’s cash advances.

Last month Lieut.-Gen. David Richards, the British commander of the NATO forces, warned, “We could actually fail here.” He gave the NATO forces only six months to bring security and a significant start to reconstruction, especially in the Pashtun south, or there may be an irreversible shift in popular sympathy towards the Taliban.

The US ambassador in Kabul, Ronald Neumann, gave a similar assessment to The New York Times recently. “We’re going to have to stay at it,” he said. “Or we’re going to fail and the country will fall apart again.”

Afghans’ attitudes towards the Taliban are not clear-cut. For some people with existing ethnic ties or religious sympathies, the Taliban are popular because they are not corrupt and bring social stability.

Others just bow to the will of the gunman at the door be he Taliban or NATO trooper.

But as the Soviets found in their 10-year occupation of Afghanistan, even winning on the battlefield — which they did more consistently than Western history admits — is no guarantee of victory in a clash of cultures and ideas.

Jonathan Manthorpe is the International Affairs Columnist for the Vancouver Sun

Afghan Insurgency Flourishing
Jason Straziuso / Globe and Mail & Associated Press

KABUL (November 13, 2006) — Insurgent activity in Afghanistan has risen fourfold this year and militants now launch more than 600 attacks a month, a rising wave of violence that has resulted in 3,700 deaths in 2006, according to a bleak new report released yesterday.

In the volatile border area near Pakistan, more than 20 Taliban militants — and possibly as many as 60 — were killed during several days of clashes, officials said yesterday.

Insurgents were launching more than 600 attacks a month as of the end of September, up from 300 a month at the end of March this year and about 130 insurgent attacks a month last year, says the report by the Joint Co-ordination and Monitoring Board, a body of Afghan and international officials charged with overseeing the implementation of the country’s five-year reconstruction and development blueprint.

The violence “threatens to reverse some of the gains made in the recent past, with development activities being especially hard hit in several areas, resulting in partial or total withdrawal of international agencies in a number of the worst-affected provinces,” it says.

The report says the country’s rising drug trade is fuelling the insurgency in four volatile southern provinces. The slow pace of development is contributing to popular disaffection and ineffective implementation of the fight against drugs, it says. Afghanistan’s poppy crop, which is used to make heroin, has increased by 59 per cent this past year.

Insurgents have launched a record number of roadside bombs and suicide attacks this year and there have been clashes all year between insurgents and Afghan and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces, particularly in the southern and eastern provinces near the border with Pakistan.

The 3,700 deaths attributed to insurgent-related violence is comparable to the number of deaths — about 3,500 — tallied by Associated Press this year based on reports from the U.S. military, NATO and Afghan officials.

In the east, General Murad Ali, deputy Afghan army commander for the province of Paktika, said 20 bodies were recovered from fighting in the district of Bermel in recent days. Also, two trucks carrying Taliban fighters were destroyed by air strikes or artillery fire, killing an estimated 40 people, he said.

Four NATO soldiers and three Afghan soldiers were injured, he said, although a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said he was not aware of any serious injuries.

Major Luke Knittig said the operations in Bermel, which borders Pakistan, were part of a continuing Afghan-NATO mission to root out Taliban militants before winter.

Gen. Ali said tribal elders took the bodies of eight Pakistani fighters back across the border for burial. Afghan officials have repeatedly accused Pakistan of not doing enough to prevent foreign fighters from crossing the border to launch attacks.

Pakistan says it does all it can, although border attacks have increased since a September agreement led the Pakistani military to pull out of its lawless tribal region.

Weary Afghans Say Life Hasn’t Improved
Sue Bailey / Vancouver Sun

The West is losing battle for hearts and minds of locals while Taliban on rise, NATO told,

QALAT, Afghanistan (November 15, 2006) — Five years after the Taliban’s fall, tribal leaders from the sun-baked mud villages around Qalat, an ancient town east of Kandahar, say life isn’t much better.

They enjoy neither peace nor the benefits of new development, they say. And they blame the growing popularity of violent anti-government militants on the failure of international forces to keep their word.

“There is no security here,” Neamat Khan, 35, director of a local construction agency said at the base for the local Provincial Reconstruction Team where members of the UN Security Council met local elders Tuesday.

The visit to gauge progress and plot strategy is the council’s first trip to Afghanistan in three years.

Promised roads, wells, schools and medical clinics have been slow in coming, especially in the isolated rural areas where they are arguably most needed.

“Day by day, support for the Taliban is increasing,” said Khan, his blue eyes intense and a long turban draped over his shoulder.

The bleak assessment hardly matches much rosier scenes drawn by NATO commanders in recent weeks. Coalition leaders have repeatedly stressed the south is increasingly safe, the Taliban is on the run, and aid projects are on track.

UN Security Council spokesman Adrian Edwards seemed to back the local viewpoint. “Security this year has certainly got worse,” he said.

Suicide bombings and roadside blasts have soared, while the national opium trade — supplier of much of the world’s heroin — broke records.

Edwards quickly noted Afghanistan has made obvious progress in five years “from less than zero.” There is now an elected government, a new constitution, hundreds of new schools and wells and long stretches of freshly paved highway.

But the battle for the “hearts and minds” of local people is being lost, Khan says. Villagers are increasingly bitter over the rate at which young men are mistakenly rounded up as insurgent suspects and detained by foreign troops, he said.

Hundreds of civilians in the south have also been displaced from their homes and vineyards flattened by NATO bombings in recent combat missions.

Dutch Maj.-Gen. Ton Van Loon recognizes Afghans are sick of fighting after almost three decades. But “we cannot accept insurgents taking control” and sabotaging aid efforts, he said.

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