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Posts Tagged ‘Kandahar’

A friend’s mask

March 19th, 2012 Comments off
“Abdul Hadi, 55, who lost two sons and a grandson in 2010 to what he believed was Western gunfire after a suicide bombing in Kandahar, says not a day passes that he does not think of that day’s events.  “Americans are wearing a friend’s mask and killing us,” he said.”

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Kandahar key to victory in Afghan war -McCain

July 6th, 2010 Comments off

UPDATE 3: Top U.S. politician says key to victory is securing, bolstering governance in Taliban stronghold.
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"End game"

May 25th, 2010 Comments off
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FB Ali via SST/ here

The players involved in the conflict in Afghanistan have all concluded that neither side can achieve a military victory and that it will end in some other way, probably through a negotiated solution. Since each of them has different goals, this end game is likely to be both confusing and complicated……

The mainstream viewpoint in the US administration, espoused by Secretary Gates and the military hierarchy, accepts the inevitability of a negotiated settlement but wants one that preserves a friendly government in Kabul that continues to lean on the US for support. If Taliban participation is unavoidable, it must be as limited as possible. They believe the insurgency has not yet been weakened enough to accept this kind of a settlement, and thus further military action is necessary. Hence the forthcoming Kandahar operation, as well as renewed pressure on Pakistan to complete the military takeover of its tribal areas. President Obama is going along with this policy for now but does not appear committed to it; he could abandon it if the approach does not work as successfully as its proponents promise.

Another school of thought in the administration (possibly including VP Biden) could be termed the minimalist position: it would agree to any kind of a negotiated settlement between the Afghan parties that would enable the US to get out of there expeditiously. They would like Hamid Karzai to pursue this option as soon as possible and get the best deal he can. There is also still a maximalist position in the US, advanced by those groups who believe the US should dominate the world with its military power, and who were the original backers of the Iraq and Afghan wars. This group advocates the continuation of the war until the Taliban are defeated and al-Qaeda is eradicated from the region. Its supporters in the administration maintain a low profile since this position is unlikely to ever become administration policy. (continue/ here)

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McChrystal: "Marjah (the ‘predictor’ for success at Kandahar) is a ‘Blleding Ulcer’ …."

May 25th, 2010 Comments off

Pat Lang said the ‘clock is ticking’ and the Taliban hear it too well! McClatchy’s/ here

“…….. “You’ve got to be patient,” Lt. Col. Brian Christmas told McChrystal. “We’ve only been here 90 days.” “How many days do you think we have before we run out of support by the international community?” McChrystal replied.

“I can’t tell you, sir,” the tall, towheaded, Fort Bragg, N.C., native finally answered.”I’m telling you,” McChrystal said. “We don’t have as many days as we’d like.”

The operation in Marjah is supposed to be the first blow in a decisive campaign to oust the Taliban from their spiritual homeland in adjacent Kandahar province, one that McChrystal had hoped would bring security and stability to Marjah and begin to convey an “irreversible sense of momentum” in the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.

Instead, a tour last week of Marjah and the nearby Nad Ali district, during which McClatchy had rare access to meetings between McChrystal and top Western strategists, drove home the hard fact that President Barack Obama’s plan to begin pulling American troops out of Afghanistan in July 2011 is colliding with the realities of the war…. “You don’t feel it here,” he said during a 10-hour front-line strategy review, “but I’ll tell you, it’s a bleeding ulcer outside.”……. McChrystal expressed impatience with the pace of operations, echoing the mounting pressure he’s under from his civilian bosses in Washington and Europe to start showing progress.

Progress in Marjah has been slow, however, in part because no one who planned the operation realized how hard it would be to convince residents that they could trust representatives of an Afghan government that had sent them corrupt police and inept leaders before they turned to the Taliban……..

“By day there is government,” he said. “By night it’s the Taliban.” (more/here)

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"…That clock is ticking. The Afghan insurgents can hear it ticking. The generals do not have the time they would need to make their strategy work"

May 23rd, 2010 Comments off

Lang at SST/ here

“Some group of “Taliban” have now claimed yesterday’s attack on the airfield at Kandahar. Mortar fire, rockets and ground action around the perimeter marked the event. Evidently this went on for some hours. ….. This follows on a recent Taliban declaration of their intention to conduct a Spring offensive. In that context, there have been attacks in Kabul, and ambitious and successful ambushes of vehicular convoys. So far, the opposition is not “fixed” in the military sense of “finding, fixing and finishing” the enemy. “Fixing” here means that the enemy must be dominated and held in position while the process is brought to end. That does not seem to be happening. This is a bad portent for the future.

I keep saying that the preliminary COIN effort at Marja is a predictor of what the likely prospects are for COIN success at Kandahar and elsewhere around the country. Where is the news from Marja?

Time is short. William Hague, the new British foreign minister urges the US not to withdraw “too soon” from Afghanistan. That is easy for him to say. His government is new and not yet scarred. The horizon seems far away just now. For President Obama the horizon is close and approaching fast. We have learned now that Obama recognized during the Afghan policy debate that the generals and admirals were trying to “roll” him for what they wanted. They wanted a long COIN war in Afghanistan with an open ended commitment to that war. He called Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates to his office and summoned them to subordination. The threat behind that was obvious. In spite of that he gave them much of what they wanted, but with a caveat driven by his political need to start the end of the war before November, 2012.

That clock is ticking. The Afghan insurgents can hear it ticking. The generals do not have the time they would need to make their strategy work.

The West Point commencement speech yesterday was interesting. It becomes increasingly obvious that Obama is both a social democrat and an internationalist in the classic old mold. These are heavy political burdens for a candidate to bear these days. He will not be able to bear an additional burden in Afghanistan in 2012.”

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Taliban flex muscle amid US troop surge

May 21st, 2010 Comments off

The recent Taliban-claimed attack in Kabul that claimed the life of a Canadian Forces colonel, and which the National Post says marks a “new turn” in the war, was quickly followed by a Taliban attack on nearby Bagram airbase, a major American installment. The pair of attacks has prompted some observers to declare that the Taliban’s Spring offensive has begun.

Mustafa Qadri writes for the Guardian’s site that the Taliban are seen as freedom fighters by many Afghan Pashtuns:

Taliban: the indistinguishable enemy

MAY 16 – They may be repressive fanatics who enslave women and give sanctuary to al-Qaida, but the US-led occupation of Afghanistan has transformed the Taliban into Pashtun freedom fighters. There are two principal reasons for this.

First, despite our best attempts, the foreign troops and the state they prop up are viewed as outsiders who have come not to liberate the country but subjugate it.

Second, so long as our presence in Afghanistan is primarily military, our relationship to ordinary Afghans will be based primarily on violence. Armies, by their very nature, must intimidate and coerce the population into accepting their authority. Despite the talk of winning hearts and minds and civilian surges, much of what we do in Afghanistan creates fear and hostility. …

The problem for foreign powers in a foreign land is their limited interest in the welfare of the people whose lands they occupy. There can be no sustainable resolution of the current violence, however, unless and until the locals take the lead in looking for political solutions. (link)

Julian E. Barnes reporting for the Los Angeles Times discusses recent indications that the Taliban-led insurgency is not disappearing in the face of President Obama’s military surge. The surge, which is expected to peak in September, is in fact the fourth troops increase which the Afghanistan war has seen. All of the previous ones have resulted in heightened violence.

Afghan Taliban getting stronger, Pentagon says
A Pentagon assessment, while expressing confidence in U.S. strategy, says the movement has flourished despite repeated assaults.

WASHINGTON, April 29 (L.A. Times) – A Pentagon report presented a sobering new assessment Wednesday of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, saying that its abilities are expanding and its operations are increasing in sophistication, despite recent major offensives by U.S. forces in the militants’ heartland.

The report, requested by Congress … concludes that Afghan people support or are sympathetic to the insurgency in 92 of 121 districts identified by the U.S. military as key terrain for stabilizing the country. Popular support for Karzai’s government is strong in only 29 of those districts, it concludes. …

A senior Defense official who briefed reporters on the report said violence increased last year in part because of the additional U.S. troops. …

The report also notes that insurgents’ tactics are increasing in sophistication and the militants have also become more able to achieve broader strategic effects with successful attacks. … (link)

And an Associated Press report cites the Red Cross in shedding some light on the extent of insecurity in southern Afghanistan. Note that insurgents are not the only source of insecurity, as personal and tribal rivalries also commonly break out into armed clashes. These rivalries are often fueled by the accoutrements of the US-led war and occupation of Afghanistan.

UN refugee chief: Security worse in Afghanistan, foreign staff can’t access half of country

GENEVA, May 5 (AP) – Security in Afghanistan has deteriorated in recent months to the extent that foreign staff of the U.N.’s refugee agency are unable to travel to half of the country, its top official said Wednesday.

The agency has to rely on local staff or Afghan partner organizations to reach tens of thousands of displaced people and returning refugees it is trying to aid, said U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres.

“There was a worsening security situation in the recent past,” he told reporters in Geneva. “Access of our international staff to the territory is now limited to about 50 percent.”

Last month the United Nations announced it had relocated several foreign employees from the southern city of Kandahar to Kabul and told more than 200 Afghan workers to stay home after security threats.

Guterres said aid workers have become targets for violence in part because the distinction between the foreign military and humanitarian groups has been blurred. … (link)

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US efforts in Kandahar….. already faltering

May 15th, 2010 Comments off
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… COIN ….COIN,,, (sigh.)

McClatchys’s/ here

“Although it’s just beginning, the U.S.-led effort to pacify the Taliban’s spiritual capital in southern Afghanistan already appears to be faltering. Key military operations have been delayed until the fall, efforts to improve local government are having little impact and a Taliban assassination campaign has brought a sense of dread to Kandahar’s dusty streets……

American and Afghan officials, however, so far have made little headway in building a foundation for a respected local government capable of winning the confidence of the nearly 1 million Afghans who live in and around Kandahar…….

One major question is whether there will be enough forces for Kandahar, where McChrystal’s plan calls for the deployment of 20,000 U.S. and Afghan troops.

U.S. defense officials and defense analysts said that McChrystal used 10,000 troops in Helmand to gain control of a rural river valley with about 50,000 residents. But in Kandahar, however, Afghanistan’s second largest city, with an estimated population of 800,000, he’s calling for just 20,000 troops……

The challenges in Kandahar come amid a growing recognition in Kabul and Washington that efforts in neighboring Helmand province to install a new administration in the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah quickly have stumbled. Marjah was meant to be the proving ground for McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy, which emphasizes building governments trusted by local populations over combat operations.

………Marjah “is already coming unraveled,” the U.S. defense official said. He noted that on the eve of the Marjah offensive in February, McChrystal described how he planned to bring in a “government in a box.” “But when they opened the box, there was nothing in it,” the U.S. defense official continued.

McCrystal insisted Thursday that progress was being made in Marjah. But he also conceded that the locals “remain to be convinced” that they’ll see an honest local administration.”

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Reasons to be anxious about Afghanistan

May 8th, 2010 Comments off

Ignatius/ here

” … The much-touted offensive in Marja in Helmand province in February succeeded in clearing that rural area temporarily of Taliban insurgents, at least by day. But plans for the Afghans to provide more security and better governance there are off to a shaky start, officials at the State Department and Pentagon say.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s boast in February that “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in” to Marja now sounds wildly over-optimistic. A senior military official concedes that this phrase “created an expectation of rapidity and efficiency that doesn’t exist now.”……. the senior military official cautions that 90 days after the offensive, “Marja is a mixed bag,” with parts of the area still controlled by the Taliban and Afghan government performance spotty. A top State Department official agrees: “Transfer is not happening” in Marja.

Kandahar, the next big test of the U.S. strategy, will be even harder………..

But Karzai himself is a symbol of U.S. worries about the feasibility of transferring governance and security to the Afghans…. If Afghanistan’s strategy for reconciliation is fuzzy, the Obama administration’s is nonexistent, at least publicly. “We don’t have a plan yet,” worries the senior military official…. One big problem with framing a reconciliation strategy now is that U.S. officials want to bargain from a position of strength. “We aren’t there yet,” the senior military official says bluntly…..

The Obama administration has just over a year to make the kind of progress in Afghanistan that would provide a political rationale for staying awhile longer. The public will hear upbeat talk this week from Karzai and President Obama, but it shouldn’t disguise the underlying anxiety on both sides that the feasibility of the U.S. strategy for this war has yet to be proved.”

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May 29 set for Vancouver action against war

May 4th, 2010 Comments off

With NATO planning to launch a new offensive in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province in June, Vancouver’s StopWar.ca Coalition is organizing a day of protest to respond. Here is the notice for the May 29 action.

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Stop Harper’s War Now!

Join a rally and roving protest

Saturday, May 29, 1pm
Vancouver Art Gallery (North lawn, Howe & Georgia)

Organized by StopWar.ca.

Why it’s important to demonstrate now

Please join us for a mass demonstration against Canada’s continued involvement in the war in Afghanistan. With pressure being ramped up for an extension of Canada’s military role in the NATO occupation beyond 2011, and with a massive new military offensive planned for June in Kandahar, it’s more important than ever to show our opposition to this war. Organize your family, friends and community to participate in this rally now.

Real aid, not bombs

The war in Afghanistan has killed many thousands of Afghan civilians, and over 140 Canadians. The total cost to Canadian taxpayers is projected to reach $22 billion. Canada’s annual military budget is over $18 billion, and the Harper government plans to pour $500 billion into the military over the next 20 years. At the same time, governments across Canada are cutting funds for education, health care, and low-income housing. It’s time to bring the troops home. Military spending must be redirected towards genuine humanitarian aid for the people of Afghanistan, and urgent social priorities in Canada!

To get involved, or for more information, email stopwar@resist.ca.

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Afghan donkey cart bombing kills three kids

April 19th, 2010 Comments off

UPDATE 3: Explosives carried on donkey cart in Kandahar detonate in residential area, tribal leader says.
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