Archive for the ‘Pashtunistan’ Category

Peace Movement to Begin? Withdraw U.S. Troops from Afghanistan (Ed. note: and elsewhere)

October 12, 2010

We, at Out of  Central Asia Now, have been bringing you opinions from writers from throughout the world.  All of the stories were used by us to show we Must End These Wars Now.  Today, we bring you from CNN, the following story in full.  It is time for our White Ribbons with black letters to be worn on our clothes to show that we want the war(s) over NOW.  Read on please.

Amitai Etzioni, University Professor and Former Israeli Commando, CNN Photo

 

Withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan By Amitai Etzioni, Special to CNN October 12, 2010 10:11 a.m. EDT

Editor’s note: Amitai Etzioni is a sociologist and professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including “Security First” and “New Common Ground.” He was a senior adviser to the Carter administration and has taught at Columbia and Harvard universities and the University of California, Berkeley.

(CNN) — Before I explain why I believe the time has come to start a stop-the-war movement, I should say that I am not one of those intellectuals who has never worried about the fate of their loved ones or gotten his own boots dirty.

My son completed a five-year stint in the U.S. 1st Armored Division. As an Israeli commando, I saw a lot of fighting during Israel’s war for independence. My unit started fighting with 1,100 members; when the fighting stopped, 700 were dead and buried or wounded. And we killed all too many on the other side.

I abhor war and believe we should fight only when there is a clear and present danger, when all other means for resolving a conflict have been truly exhausted and to protect the innocent. Those are the three criteria of a just war. The war in Afghanistan used to meet these criteria. It no longer does.

We invaded Afghanistan to stop it from serving as a base for terrorists of the kind who attacked us on 9/11. This goal has been accomplished.

Fewer than 100 members of al Qaeda are in Afghanistan. There are many more in Yemen and Somalia, which we are not planning to invade.

Video: Karzai: Relations with Obama good

Video: Karzai: Osama bin Laden not here

Video: Failed rescue attempt probe The Taliban has no designs on us, beyond making us leave. After that, the people of Afghanistan can duke it out over which kind of regime they want. If the majority of the Afghan people don’t want the Taliban to rule, they should fight for their rights, as they have shown they can when they defeated the Taliban in 2002 with limited help from us.

Some claim that we must keep fighting to secure human rights, especially women’s rights, and a democratic regime in Afghanistan. However, nothing indicates that we can accomplish in this godforsaken 12th-century country what we did in Germany and Japan after World War II.

The metrics that the U.S. Army keeps inventing to show progress are pitiful. Having committed 100,000 troops and a similar number of “private” contractors against rag-tag, poorly equipped, illiterate locals, we captured a few scores of square miles, opened a few markets and a local government or two. But large and growing areas of Afghanistan are under Taliban control. We should neither die nor kill for an illusion.

Sometimes, a minor news item highlights a much greater issue.

A recent report from an embedded reporter for GlobalPost shows a 19-year-old American soldier getting shot in the head — his helmet saved him from death — as his unit traveled through Kunar Province in late August. They were surveying polling sites for the upcoming elections. Also, a homemade bomb, called an IED, damaged and set afire the lead vehicle of this small convoy and severely wounded its driver.

It seemed absurd to risk lives of Americans, our allies or Afghans to support faux elections.

In many parts of the country, ballot stations could not be opened. In others, massive fraud took place. Adding insult to injury, we congratulated the Afghan government on holding “successful” elections. That way, we did not have to admit to the world and each other that whatever the Karzai government is — one of the most corrupt governments in the world, a foundation of a new narcostate — democracy it ain’t, by a long shot.

How much our entanglement in Afghanistan is turning into a sad farce became all too clear when President Obama flew to Kabul to tell Karzai that he ought to stop corruption.

When, in response, Karzai started negotiating a peace deal with the Taliban, the White House rolled out the red carpet for Karzai and announced that from now on, the U.S. will focus on low-level corruption. Moreover, it turns out that major sources of corruption are our corporations and the CIA.

It’s time to bring our troops home.

To encourage our president and Congress to withdraw the troops, let’s fasten to our lapels white ribbons (for peace) with black letters (mourning those who died) that read “Bring them home.” The time has come to organize teach-ins and antiwar groups. Instead of another march on Washington, let there be rallies across America. Bring the troops home.

The opinions in this commentary are solely those of Amitai Etzioni.

“Pakistan, Failed State #10,”; now Noah’s Flood washes away a generation’s hope for improvement; and the war goes on

August 18, 2010

Pakistan Flood Victims on the Move

Kunwar Iris writes today in Dawn.com an analysis of why nations that could help flood victims are hesitant to do so, and he blames the corrupt government that rules Pakistan. This story is a Must Read to understand the underlying problems of “partnering” with Pakistan by the U.S. to have the Taliban stop fighting. The story follows:

Saving Pakistan from itself By Kunwar Idris
Sunday, 15 Aug, 2010

    The response of the political leaders, the government and civil society as a whole to the country’s worst-ever natural disaster has been both delayed and mean. It is a kind of save-Pakistan-from-itself situation.

    Even the army that comes to the people’s rescue when the civil administration falters or fails was late this time in coming and its presence was felt much less than in earlier, lesser crises. The world response matches domestic indifference. Only the ‘hated’ American soldiers with their helicopters are there to save lives. Don’t we need to look at our ‘friends’ more closely?

    The pledges made are small and much of the money promised would be available after the suffering has taken its toll. Well into the second week of the calamity, the donations received in the prime minister’s relief fund remain a pittance. Among a few large donors is a rags-to-riches politician who only a week earlier had spent, perhaps, an equal sum on a wedding feast at a plush Dubai hotel. Thus he has come to represent the rich of Pakistan as they are known to the world — charitable and vainglorious at the same time.

    The rains and floods, the prime minister says, had put the country back by a generation. That sounds like an exaggeration only to forestall the criticism of his government’s extravagance and incompetence. The damage to the infrastructure would surely cost a great deal but repaired — sooner or later. It is the nation that seems to have lost its soul.

    Its chosen representatives do not now have a dictator to curse nor can they blame ‘obstructing’ judges. They indulge in harangues but lack the moral strength to inspire a nation in crisis. Helping the people in distress are only the soldiers and some jihadis. The liberal or mainstream parties are nowhere to be seen.

    For the failure of the political leadership and civil administration to deal with the day-to-day problems, much less with a crisis of this magnitude, the blame lies not with this or that individual or party but with the politics of vengeance and retribution that has marked the national scene almost for four decades now. There may have been moments of personal triumph here and there but the moral and institutional decline has been continuous and, barring a revolution, looks irreversible.

    A quick reckoner of this decline is Bangladesh which is now poised to grow at twice the rate of Pakistan. A more tempting comparison, however, would be with Egypt which has been ruled by more strongmen and longer than Pakistan. In human development and social services starting from the same base in the middle of the last century, the literacy level in Egypt has risen to 85 per cent against ours at 54 and an average Egyptian expects to live eight years longer than a Pakistani. But, more amazingly, 99 per cent of Egyptian homes now have electricity and 97 per cent have piped water supply.In South Asian terms Pakistan shows up poorly and Southeast Asia (is altogether a different story. The old-timers can recall a time when the Koreans came to Pakistan to study our development model. Today an average South Korean is 30 times richer than his Pakistani counterpart.

    In Pakistan the failure has been collective but the rot began with the political leadership. It travelled down the line to hit the bureaucracy and then spread across the national spectrum to undermine all other spheres. The causes are numerous and remedies are often recounted but relevant in the current context is the need to curtail government expenditure to save money for the rehabilitation of flood victims and modernisation of the physical infrastructure.

    The size of the government calls for a drastic reduction. A smaller size would increase efficiency. One often wonders that if the province of West Pakistan (one unit) could make do with 13 or so ministers and as many secretaries why must each province now have three to four times that number? West Pakistan’s secretariat had just five cars for everybody to share; the number now defies a count.

    The chief minister then had but one office room and that too in the main secretariat along with all other ministers and officials. The Punjab chief minister now hardly ever goes to the secretariat. A palace-like structure that Chaudhry Parvez Elahi built for himself is now occupied by an assortment of freeloaders who are a burden on a government that runs on bank overdraft.

    Then come cash handouts or subsidies. Rs70bn set aside for payment to the poor selected by parliamentarians under a programme named after Benazir should be diverted to the flood victims. Putting the poor on dole, even if honestly chosen (which appears unlikely considering the political channel of distribution) is a bad idea. The same applies to the sum set aside for Punjab’s two-rupee sasti roti which even the rich can buy.

    Though late, the Punjab chief minister has sensibly decided to stop this waste and divert the saved Rs500bn to flood relief. The Sindh government is now contemplating a similar subsidy in wheat flour through the millers for sale in the open market. Given our proven inability to control the market forces, this subsidy is unlikely to reach the poor just as the subsidy on fertiliser, pesticide or other commodities did not. It too will get lost in the long channel of bribe and profit.

    The savings in these and other subsidies and a heavy cut in spendings by a mélange of political coalitions that have no policy or direction should make up somewhat for the lack of local and foreign donations. The saddest of all thoughts however is that the donors are being cagey or wary not because they do not realise the gravity and scale of the problem. It is Pakistan’s reputation for corruption and mismanagement that holds them back. And there we are stuck. (You can write to Kunwar:kunwaridris@hotmail.com)

President Obama’s statement not true; Just Foreign Policy sends this Email Alert, please join them.

May 13, 2010

Thanks to Rethink Afghanistan for catching President Obama’s statement that is not true, either he doesn’t get the correct information from his staff before reading a speech, or he knowingly is not telling us the truth. Either way is pretty scary, to run foreign policy this way with many people dying or are maimed for life on all sides, for what? Follow Just Foreign Policy below the video for action YOU CAN TAKE NOW. Thank you all.

Today, we are Posting the email we receive from Just Foreign Policy in total. There’s so much good information here today that this will be our Post of the day. You can voice your opinion by following the links that they provide. You will have to copy and paste the links into your browser window. Go to justforeignpolicy.org and join up to get their emails delivered daily to your emailbox. We thank Robert Naiman and the crew at Just Foreign Policy for their hard work on our behalf.

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Just Foreign Policy News
May 13, 2010

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http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/576

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Call Congress! Urge Support for Feingold-McGovern, ending the Afghan war
This week, the Friends Committee for National Legislation has provided a toll-free number: 1-888-543-5234. This connects you to the Capitol Switchboard. Ask to be connected to your Representative or Senator, urge your Rep. or Senator to co-sponsor the Feingold-McGovern bill, and to oppose the war supplemental. More info and reportback:

http://noescalation.org/2010/05/05/withdrawal-timetable/

Did Obama Say Yes to Afghan Peace Talks?
Here’s what Obama said in public: “On the related subject of Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts, I appreciated the President sharing his plans for the upcoming consultative peace jirga – an important milestone that America supports. In addition, the United States supports the efforts of the Afghan government to open the door to Taliban who cut their ties to al Qaeda, abandon violence, and accept the Afghan constitution, including respect for human rights. And I look forward to a continued dialogue with our Afghan partners on these efforts.”

The final version of the ad we put in the Politico, and the letter that 15 groups sent to President Obama urging him to say yes to peace talks, are here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/573

$33 Billion for War, But Not $5.6 Billion to Fight AIDS in Africa and Haiti
When President Obama visited Afghanistan in March, he assured U.S. troops that “the United States of America does not quit once it starts on something.” But apparently that only applies to killing, not to fighting AIDS in in the poorest countries in the world, because according to Sunday’s New York Times, on that fight, America is throwing in the towel; even though the money we supposedly don’t have for fighting AIDS because we bailed out Wall Street is 1/20th of continuing the war in Afghanistan.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/05/12-5

VIDEO: Urge Congress to End the War in Afghanistan
Just Foreign Policy made a short video to help publicize the McGovern bill and the importance of a timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Spread it all around.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/video/feingold-mcgovern

USTR Going Rogue on Canadian Tobacco Laws?
The US Trade Representative is threatening WTO action against Canadian tobacco control, even though USTR is specifically prohibited from undertaking such actions under US law.

http://citizen.typepad.com/eyesontrade/2010/04/ustr-going-rogue-on-canadian-tobacco-laws.html

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan has topped Iraq costs for the first time since 2003, USA Today reports. Pentagon spending in February was $6.7 billion in Afghanistan compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq. Afghanistan will cost nearly $105 billion in the 2010 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, including most of $33 billion in additional spending requested by Obama and pending before Congress.

2) The Red Cross has confirmed that the US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan contains a facility for detainees that is distinct from its main prison, contradicting US claims that there is no such facility, the BBC reports. Nine former prisoners have told the BBC that they were held in a separate building, and subjected to abuse, including cold and sleep deprivation.

3) Sen. Bond said he has seen no hard evidence a Pakistani group planned or directed the the failed car bombing in Times Square, the Washington Post reports. Sen. Bond said White House statements suggesting a central role by the Pakistani Taliban were based on “suspicions and tenuous connections.” On Sunday, Attorney General Holder told “Meet the Press” the Pakistani Taliban was “intimately involved” in directing the attempt. The Guardian quoted Pakistani investigators saying they had found no evidence to support U.S. claims Faisal Shahzad had acted on Taliban orders [#8 below - JFP.]

4) Gen. McChrystal said Iran is continuing to back Taliban forces, but its supply of training and weapons is insignificant, the Washington Times reports. The general’s comments contrast with a recent Pentagon report to Congress that said Iran is seeking to counter U.S. influence by expanding ties to terrorists and insurgents.

5) The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says Afghanistan’s Control & Audit Office (CAO) remains weak and lacks the independence needed to be an effective watchdog, USA Today reports. CAO reports to President Karzai’s office but is not authorized to release its audits publicly or even send reports to parliament.

6) U.S. commanders are reconsidering the pace of a major troop pullout from Iraq this summer, AP reports. The withdrawal of the first major wave of troops is expected to be delayed by about a month. U.S. officials still plan to reduce the force level from 92,000 to 50,000 troops by Aug. 31.

7) The Greek government has reached an agreement with EU authorities and the IMF that will make current economic problems even worse, writes Mark Weisbrot for the New York Times. Thousands of Greeks in the streets have it right, and the E.U. economists have it wrong. You cannot shrink your way out of recession; you have to grow your way out, as the U.S. is doing. If the EU and the IMF will not offer a growth option to Greece, the country would be better off leaving the Euro and renegotiating its debt. When Argentina broke its currency peg and defaulted, it returned to growth; Lativa and Estonia, taking the EU medicine, remain mired in recession.

Pakistan
8) Pakistani investigators have found no evidence to support US claims the failed Times Square bomber was working under the direction of the Pakistani Taliban, the Guardian reports. Pakistani officials are perplexed and angry at statements from Washington about Shahzad’s links with the Pakistani Taliban, believing the US is exploiting the issue to apply pressure for new military offensives in Pakistan’s tribal border area with Afghanistan. General Petraeus had previously said that Shahzad was a “lone wolf” who was “inspired by militants in Pakistan but didn’t have direct contact with them”. A Pakistani government official said: “There is a disconnect between the Pentagon and the administration. The Pentagon gets it that more open pressure on Pakistan is not helpful.”

Philippines
9) Senator Benigno Aquino, expected to become the Philippines’ next president, has said he wants to review the Visiting Forces Agreement, the pact that allows the US military to hold its service members in its custody during criminal proceedings in the Philippines, the New York Times reports. He also said US Special Forces troops, who have been training the Philippine military to fight against Islamic terrorists on the southern island of Mindanao since 2001, should not become a “semipermanent or permanent” force.

Iran
10) Iran said Brazil and Turkey have offered a promising new proposal for a nuclear fuel deal, AP reports. Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said Brazil has not finalized a proposal but is working on one based on a plan by the IAEA. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry official said Turkey and Brazil are in constant contact to try to find a solution and they are “building on” the U.N. plan.

Iraq
11) Iraqi politicians reached an agreement to halt a campaign to bar candidates from politics for ties to the Baath Party, removing an obstacle in the process of forming a new government, the New York Times reports.

Egypt
12) Egypt’s Parliament approved a government request to extend for two years its right to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court, the New York Times reports. The State Department expressed disappointment.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Afghan war costs now outpace Iraq’s
Richard Wolf, USA Today, May 12, 2010

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/afghanistan/2010-05-12-afghan_N.htm

Washington – The monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan, driven by troop increases and fighting on difficult terrain, has topped Iraq costs for the first time since 2003 and shows no sign of letting up. Pentagon spending in February, the most recent month available, was $6.7 billion in Afghanistan compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq. As recently as fiscal year 2008, Iraq was three times as expensive; in 2009, it was twice as costly.

The shift is occurring because the Pentagon is adding troops in Afghanistan and withdrawing them from Iraq. And it’s happening as the cumulative cost of the two wars surpasses $1 trillion, including spending for veterans and foreign aid. Those costs could put increased pressure on President Obama and Congress, given the nation’s $12.9 trillion debt.

“The overall costs are a function, in part, of the number of troops,” says Linda Bilmes, an expert on wartime spending at Harvard University. “The costs are also a result of the intensity of operations, and the number of different places that we have our troops deployed.”
[...]
– The number of U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan has risen to 87,000, on top of 47,000 from 44 other countries. At the same time, the number of U.S. servicemembers in Iraq has dropped to 94,000. By next year, Afghanistan is to have 102,000 U.S. servicemembers, Iraq 43,000.

- Afghanistan will cost nearly $105 billion in the 2010 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, including most of $33 billion in additional spending requested by Obama and pending before Congress. Iraq will cost about $66 billion. In fiscal 2011, Afghanistan is projected to cost $117 billion, Iraq $46 billion. To date, Pentagon spending in Iraq has reached $620 billion, compared with $190 billion in Afghanistan.

- Costs per servicemember in Afghanistan have been roughly double what they are in Iraq since 2005. That is due to lower troop levels, Afghanistan’s landlocked location, lack of infrastructure, high cost of fuel and less reliable security.
[...]

2) Red Cross confirms ‘second jail’ at Bagram, Afghanistan
Hilary Andersson, BBC News, 11 May 2010

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8674179.stm

The US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan contains a facility for detainees that is distinct from its main prison, the Red Cross has confirmed to the BBC. Nine former prisoners have told the BBC that they were held in a separate building, and subjected to abuse.

The US military says the main prison, now called the Detention Facility in Parwan, is the only detention facility on the base. However, it has said it will look into the abuse allegations made to the BBC.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that since August 2009 US authorities have been notifying it of names of detained people in a separate structure at Bagram. “The ICRC is being notified by the US authorities of detained people within 14 days of their arrest,” a Red Cross spokesman said. “This has been routine practice since August 2009 and is a development welcomed by the ICRC.”

The spokesman was responding to a question from the BBC about the existence of the facility, referred to by many former prisoners as the Tor Jail, which translates as “black jail”.
[...]
In recent weeks the BBC has logged the testimonies of nine prisoners who say they had been held in the so-called “Tor Jail”. They told consistent stories of being held in isolation in cold cells where a light is on all day and night. The men said they had been deprived of sleep by US military personnel there.

In response to these allegations, Vice Adm Robert Harward, in charge of US detentions in Afghanistan, denied the existence of such a facility or abuses. He told the BBC that the Parwan Detention Facility was the only US detention centre in the country.

3) Taliban Link To Car Bomb Questioned
Pakistani insurgents’ connection to Times Square bomb attempt still not found
Joby Warrick, Washington Post, Wednesday, May 12, 2010; A06

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/11/AR2010051104362.html

U.S. officials investigating the failed car bombing in Times Square are still far from certain about the role Pakistani insurgent groups may have played in orchestrating the attempt, the Senate intelligence committee’s top Republican said Tuesday.

Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) said he has seen no hard evidence that a Pakistani group – or groups – planned or directed the May 1 attempt, allegedly carried out by Faisal Shahzad. He added that White House statements suggesting a central role by the Pakistani Taliban were based on “suspicions and tenuous connections.”

“We need to find out, as quickly as possible, what his connections were and how he was trained,” Bond said, referring to Shahzad, after a closed-door committee briefing by senior intelligence and law enforcement officials involved in the investigation. Referring to recent comments by Obama administration officials about a strong Taliban link, the senator said: “I am not convinced by the information I’ve seen so far that there was adequate, confirmable intelligence to corroborate the statements that were made on Sunday television shows.”

On Sunday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the Pakistani Taliban was “intimately involved” in directing the attempt to blow up a sport-utility vehicle on a crowded Times Square street corner.

Shahzad, a native of Pakistan who spent several months in the country’s lawless tribal region over the past year, has reportedly told FBI investigators that he underwent terrorist training there, although the veracity of some of his statements has been questioned.

The British newspaper the Guardian quoted Pakistani investigators Tuesday as saying they had found no evidence to support U.S. claims that Shahzad had acted on Taliban orders.
[...]

4) Iran’s Meddling In Afghanistan ‘Not Significant’
Bill Gertz, Washington Times, May 11, 2010

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/11/irans-meddling-in-afghanistan-not-significant/

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said Monday that Iran is continuing to back Taliban forces, but its supply of training and weapons is insignificant. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and allied forces, said Iran’s “reach into Afghanistan, first, is fairly legitimate” and includes money and education support.

“There is evidence, intelligence that indicates some malign activity as well: some training of insurgents, Taliban, and of shipments of some levels of arms,” the four-star general told reporters at the White House. “But they are not significant in numbers, and they have not been enough to change the basic calculus of the fight at this point.”

The general’s comments contrast with a recent Pentagon report to Congress that said Iran is seeking to counter U.S. influence by expanding ties to terrorists and insurgents. “Iran is attempting to secure political, economic and security influence in Iraq and Afghanistan, while undermining U.S. efforts by supporting various political groups, providing developmental and humanitarian assistance, and furnishing lethal aid to Iraqi Shia militants and Afghan insurgents,” the report said.
[...]

5) U.S. Reviews Afghan Watchdog Authority
Aamer Madhani, USA Today, May 11, 2010

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-05-11-afghan-corruption_N.htm

The Afghan authority charged with rooting out government waste remains weak and lacks the independence needed to be an effective watchdog, according to a recent U.S. government report. Afghanistan’s Control & Audit Office (CAO) reports to President Hamid Karzai’s office but is not authorized to release its audits publicly or even send reports to the parliament, according to the office of the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul and international organizations have called on the Karzai government to make CAO more independent and transparent, the SIGAR report says.

Under current law, the CAO’s mandate is too narrow, said Mohammad Sharif, who heads the agency. “It disregards (the) will and aspiration of the people who have the right to know about the utilization of their money from an independent source,” Sharif wrote to SIGAR.

The World Bank called on the Afghan Justice Ministry last year to require CAO to publicize its work and report to the parliament. But when the Justice Ministry introduced a draft law this year, it didn’t incorporate those suggestions.
[...]

6) U. S. Reviewing Pace Of Troop Withdrawal
Lara Jakes, Associated Press, Tuesday, May 11, 2010; 4:35 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/11/AR2010051102738.html

Baghdad – American commanders, worried about increased violence in the wake of Iraq’s inconclusive elections, are now reconsidering the pace of a major troop pullout this summer, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The withdrawal of the first major wave of troops is expected to be delayed by about a month, the officials said. Waiting much longer could endanger President Barack Obama’s goal of reducing the force level from 92,000 to 50,000 troops by Aug. 31.

More than two months after parliamentary elections, the Iraqis have still not formed a new government, and militants aiming to exploit the void have carried out attacks like Monday’s bombings and shootings that killed at least 119 people – the country’s bloodiest day of 2010.

The threat has prompted military officials to look at keeping as many troops on the ground, for as long as possible, without missing the Aug. 31 deadline. A security agreement between the two nations requires American troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

In Baghdad and Washington, U.S. officials say they remain committed to the deadline, which Obama has said he would extend only if Iraq’s security deteriorates. Getting out of Iraq quickly and responsibly was among Obama’s top campaign promises in 2008. Extending the deadline could be politically risky back home – but so could anarchy and a bloodbath following a hasty retreat.
[...]

7) The E.U.’s Dangerous Game
Mark Weisbrot, New York Times, May 12, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/opinion/13iht-edweisbrot.html

The agreement by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to provide up to $960 billion of support to the Continent’s weaker economies, as well as to financial markets, has appeared to calm investors worldwide, for the moment. But this does not resolve the underlying problem, even in the short run.

The problem is one of irrational economic policy. The Greek government has reached an agreement with the E.U. authorities (which include the European Commission and the European Central Bank), and the I.M.F. that will make the current economic problems even worse.

This is known to economists, including the ones at the E.U. and I.M.F. who negotiated the agreement. The projections show that if their program “works,” Greece’s debt will rise from 115 percent of gross domestic product today to 149 percent in 2013. This means that in less than three years, and most likely sooner, Greece will be facing the same crisis that it faces today.

Furthermore, the Greek Finance Ministry now projects a decline of 4 percent in G.D.P. this year, down from less than 1 percent last year. However that projection is likely to prove overly optimistic. In other words, the Greek people will go through a lot of suffering, their economy will shrink and their debt burden will grow, and then they will very likely face the same choice of debt rescheduling, restructuring, or default – and/or leaving the Euro.

There are lessons to be learned from this debacle. First, no government should sign an agreement that guarantees an open-ended recession, and leaves it to the world economy to eventually pull them out of it. This process of “internal devaluation” – whereby unemployment is deliberately driven to high levels in order to drive down wages and prices while keeping the nominal exchange rate fixed – is not only unjust, it is unviable. This is even more true for Greece, given its initial debt burden.

The tens of thousands of Greeks in the streets have it right, and the E.U. economists have it wrong. You cannot shrink your way out of recession; you have to grow your way out, as the United States is doing (albeit too slowly).

If the E.U. and the I.M.F. will not offer a growth option to Greece, the country would be better off leaving the Euro and renegotiating its debt.

Argentina tried the “internal devaluation” strategy from mid-1998 to the end of 2001, suffering through a depression that pushed half the country into poverty. It then dropped its peg to the dollar and defaulted on its debt. The economy shrank for just one more quarter and then had a robust recovery, growing 63 percent over the next six years.

(By contrast, the “internal devaluation” process promises not only indefinite recession, but a long, very slow recovery if it “works” – as we can see from the I.M.F.’s projections for Latvia and Estonia. Both of these countries are projected to take 8 or 9 years to reach their pre-recession levels of output.)
[...]

Pakistan
8) Pakistan denies Taliban link to Times Square bomb suspect
Investigators dismiss US claims that Faisal Shahzad was working under direction of Pakistani Taliban
Saeed Shah, Guardian, Tuesday 11 May 2010 18.57 BST

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/11/pakistan-taliban-times-square-bomb

Karachi – Pakistani investigators have found no evidence to support American claims that the failed Times Square bomber was working under the direction of the Pakistani Taliban, the Guardian has learned.

Senior officials in Washington – including the attorney general, Eric Holder, and John Brennan, the White House’s special adviser on counterterrorism – have said that the suspected bomber, Faisal Shahzad, conspired with militants in Pakistan, but a Pakistani security official with knowledge of the investigation said: “No Taliban link has come to the fore.”

The interrogation of Muhammad Rehan, a friend of Shahzad who was arrested last week outside a radical mosque in Karachi, has not yielded a link to the Pakistani Taliban or any other militant group. Rehan, a member of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad extremist group, remains the only suspected link found between 30-year-old Shahzad and the militant underworld in Pakistan.

Officials in Islamabad are perplexed and angry at statements from Washington about Shahzad’s links with the Pakistani Taliban, believing that the US is exploiting the issue to apply pressure for new military offensives in Pakistan’s tribal border area with Afghanistan, in the north Waziristan region.

“We have not found any involvement of Rehan [in the New York attempted bombing]. He didn’t introduce Faisal Shahzad to the Pakistani Taliban,” said the security official. “There are no roots to this case, so how can we trace something back?”
[...]
Rehan’s arrest as he left prayers at the Karachi mosque was seized on by the international press as evidence of Shahzad’s involvement with Pakistani militant groups. It emerged that Rehan and Shahzad had last year taken a 1,000-mile road trip from Karachi to Peshawar, on the edge of Pakistan’s tribal area, raising further suspicions.

However, Pakistani investigators have found that Rehan was not a very active member of JEM, a violent group primarily against India and with no history of global activities. He knew Shahzad because he is related to Shahzad’s wife.

Shahzad, a naturalised American citizen of Pakistani origin, told US interrogators that he had been trained in Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s tribal area, according to the court charges laid against him.

After the failed attack, the Pakistani Taliban released a video in which its chief trainer of suicide bombers, Qari Hussain, appeared to claim responsibility. But that video said nothing specifically about New York, Shahzad, or a car bomb.

Since then, the Pakistani Taliban’s official spokesman, Azam Tariq, has twice denied that his group was involved with Shahzad. The ineptness of Shahzad’s bomb, which did not go off, also raised doubts over whether the Pakistani Taliban could have trained him.

Holder said at the weekend that the Pakistani Taliban were “intimately involved” in Shahzad’s attempted bombing. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, also warned Islamabad of “dire consequences” if a plot originating in Pakistan succeeded in the US.

But David Petraeus, the American general in charge of the Middle East and central Asia, had previously said that Shahzad was a “lone wolf” who was “inspired by militants in Pakistan but didn’t have direct contact with them”.

A senior Pakistani government official said: “There is a disconnect between the Pentagon and the [Obama] administration. The Pentagon gets it that more open pressure on Pakistan is not helpful.”
[...]

Philippines
9) Philippine Landslide Seen for Aquino
Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times, May 11, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/world/asia/12phils.html

Manila – Senator Benigno S. Aquino III, who appeared almost certain on Tuesday to become the Philippines’ next president, said he had never imagined running for the nation’s highest office until he was urged on by supporters grieving over the death of his mother last August.

But nearly complete results of Monday’s election showed that Mr. Aquino apparently defeated rivals with far more experience, ambition and charisma, winning by the widest margin in a presidential election since his mother, Corazon C. Aquino, overthrew the longtime dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos in a “people power” movement in 1986.
[...]
In an interview in March, Mr. Aquino, who grew up watching successive American administrations back Mr. Marcos during the cold war, sounded skeptical about United States foreign policy. He said that as president he would want to review the Visiting Forces Agreement, the pact that allows the American military to hold its service members in its custody during criminal proceedings in the Philippines.

He also said that American Special Forces troops, who have been training the Philippine military to fight against Islamic terrorists on the southern island of Mindanao since 2001, should not become a “semipermanent or permanent” force. Mindful of rousing anti-American sentiments, the Arroyo government and American officials have said little about the American forces’ activities.

“The U.S. and Manila should try to assess what exactly is the purpose of the Americans in Mindanao and whether they have achieved their purpose,” said Abhoud Syed Lingga, executive director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, a research organization for Filipino Muslims based in Cotabato City. “Noynoy should reassess, should review the terms of their presence here.”
[...]

Iran
10) Iran: Brazil and Turkey make new nuclear proposal
Nasser Karimi, Associated Press, Tuesday, May 11, 2010; 2:21 PM http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/11/AR2010051100880.html

Tehran, Iran – Iran said Tuesday that Brazil and Turkey have offered a promising new proposal for a nuclear fuel deal as Tehran steps up a diplomatic push to stave off new U.N. sanctions over its disputed nuclear program.

Tehran has made a series of counteroffers after rejecting a U.N.-backed plan that offered nuclear fuel rods for a reactor in exchange for Iran’s stock of lower-level enriched uranium. But they appear to fall short of Western demands aimed at ensuring Tehran is unable to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said during a weekly news briefing that the latest talks with Turkey and Brazil have produced “a new formula that could pave the ground for understanding.” He didn’t elaborate but said Iran has not accepted any proposal for sending its low-enriched uranium abroad yet.

The Brazilian and Turkish presidents will travel to Iran next week following recent visits by their foreign ministers, Mehmanparast said.
[...]
A spokeswoman for Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Brazil has not finalized a proposal but that the nation is working on one based on a plan formed by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
[...]
In Turkey, a Foreign Ministry official would only say that Turkey and Brazil are in constant contact to try to find a solution and that they are “building on” the U.N.-backed nuclear exchange plan.
[...]

Iraq
11) Iraqi Deal To End De-Baathification
Anthony Shadid, New York Times, May 11, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/world/middleeast/12baghdad.html

Baghdad – Iraqi politicians have reached an agreement to halt a four-month campaign to bar candidates from politics for ties to the Baath Party, American and Iraqi officials said, papering over the sectarian tensions it unleashed, at least for now, and removing an obstacle in the long-delayed process of forming a new government.

The disqualification of hundreds of candidates threw politics into turmoil before the March 7 parliamentary elections. In the deadlock that followed the landmark vote, the prospect of barring more candidates deepened the sense of crisis here, reflecting the conflicts that still threaten Iraq’s fragile political system.

But officials said this week that an agreement was reached to end the de-Baathification campaign in much the same way that it began in January, in an opaque fashion that has bewildered the campaign’s supporters and opponents and underlined the extent to which tenuous Iraqi institutions can be manipulated by the power of single personalities. “It’s stopped,” President Jalal Talabani said. “There will be no more.”

Similar predictions have been made in the past, and the issue has proved phoenix-like in its capacity to haunt politics here. But even the campaign’s architect, Ahmad Chalabi, the former ally turned bête noire of the Americans, acknowledged that the dispute had ended for now and that none of the winning candidates would be barred.
[...]
Critics have contended that the disqualifications were a brazen instance of score-settling that reopened sectarian wounds and reinforced how elusive national reconciliation remains. Others called them a travesty of justice that highlighted the ability of one man, Mr. Chalabi, to recast politics through a deft reading of institutions, personalities and the pressures they faced. In the end, he met only token resistance.

“Ahmad Chalabi’s ability to manipulate Iraqi politics through the instrument of de-Baathification is impressive indeed,” said Reidar Visser, an Iraq analyst at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. A year ago, he added, “Iraqi politics was looking less sectarian.”

“Through forcing de-Baathification back on the agenda,” Mr. Visser continued, “Chalabi has been able to bring about a sectarian repolarization of Iraqi politics.”
[...]
Mr. Chalabi’s campaign could be seen as a political masterstroke, mobilizing Shiite voters for both Mr. Maliki and the Shiite alliance through which Mr. Chalabi won a seat in Parliament. Mr. Chalabi appears to have swelled his own flagging popularity; he failed to win a seat in the previous election. He said he started the campaign to foil what he called an American plan to reorient the government by bringing in Sunnis sympathetic to the Baath Party. “I blew it up in their faces,” he boasted.
[...]
Whatever the intention, the campaign’s conclusion seemed to bewilder politicians as much as its beginning. In an interview on Monday, one politician grew agitated as he was asked where the matter stood. “It’s a chaotic situation. Nobody gives you facts. We try in fact to get a clue on this subject,” he exclaimed. “Nobody knows.” The words were spoken by Tariq al-Hashemi, the Sunni vice president of Iraq.

Egypt
12) Egyptian Emergency Law Is Extended for 2 Years
Michael Slackman, New York Times, May 11, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/world/middleeast/12egypt.html

Cairo – After years of the government’s promising to end Egypt’s state of emergency, Parliament on Tuesday approved a government request to extend for two years its right to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court.

In an unusual case of public outreach by Egypt’s normally tight-lipped leaders, the government took pains to explain its decision and announced that the emergency law – in place continuously since President Anwar el-Sadat was assassinated in 1981 – would be used only in cases of terrorism and drug trafficking. Officials also said that some provisions of the law would be dropped.

But the concept of terrorism is so broad in Egyptian law and the language in the new measure so malleable, that the government decision was immediately criticized by human rights groups, political activists and independent human rights monitors, who say they expect little to change in a nation that routinely uses the heavy hand of the police and prisons to silence political opposition.

“Even the claim that emergency powers will now be limited to terrorism and drug trafficking cases only is false,” said Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “More dangerously, the culture of exceptionalism stays, and with it the message that security agencies are still above the law.”

The government’s announcement, and its unusually aggressive effort to explain and mitigate the impact of its decision, comes at a time of rising political and social uncertainty in Egypt. Elections for the upper house of Parliament are to be held in a few weeks, the lower house in the fall and the presidency next year.

The government is also facing rampant rumors concerning President Hosni Mubarak’s health; daily protests by workers demanding better wages; and a reinvigorated political opposition energized by the former United Nations chief nuclear monitor, Mohamed ElBaradei, who has said he might run for president.

In Washington, the State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said: “We are disappointed. We have questions about how this fits with pledges that the government of Egypt has made to its own people to try to find a way to move beyond the emergency law.”
[...]
“Of course it is a blow that they have renewed the emergency law yet again,” said Martin Scheinin, the United Nations special representative on human rights and terrorism, who conducted a fact-finding mission in Egypt in April 2009.

Some critics noted that Egypt had insisted for years that it used its emergency powers only to combat terrorism. “They always claimed that the emergency law is used only against drug traffickers and terrorists,” said Aida Seif El-Dawla, a human rights advocate who works with victims of torture and abuse. “They have been systematically lying.”

In a report presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009, Mr. Scheinin wrote that Egyptian law defines terrorism to include not only violent acts but also ” ‘any threat or intimidation’ with the aim of ‘disturbing the peace or jeopardizing the safety and security of the society.’ ” In addition, he wrote that Egyptian terrorism-related law “contains a wide range of purposes, such as ‘to prevent or impede the public authorities in the performance of their work.’ “

Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, added that while the government said it agreed not to use the law to monitor communications, it could do so under amendments to the Constitution that allow for the establishment of a permanent antiterrorism provision, which would allow such monitoring. “This claim that the source and need for the emergency law has to do with terrorism is transparently false,” Ms. Whitson said. “In fact they use this law to prosecute any political activist who criticizes the government.”
[...]
In a report presented in March to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mr. Scheinin, a professor of public international law, said that court decisions to release prisoners from administrative detention were often ignored or that the prisoners were released and immediately rearrested. “Basically there is no legal certainty as long as there is an emergency law in place,” Mr. Scheinin said.

-
Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. Go to Just Foreign Policy for more information.

Councilors approve anti-war resolution: Get your City Council to do the Same, Read it here

April 10, 2010

Portland Maine is the latest City Council to ask for the End of the War Funding. Recently named the #1 place in the country to raise children-and named in the top ten “perfect places to live in America”- After you read this article, get your City Council to vote on a similar resolution. Let’s start a cry to bring our troops home and to get our dollars to go to work here in America for the betterment of all the citizens of the world. Read this and PLEASE TAKE ACTION.

    City councilors have approved a resolution calling on Maine’s U.S. Congressional delegation to oppose new funding for military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Story by Casey Conley, read it all here.

Portland, Maine City Council says VOTE NO on $33 Billion more for Afghanistan

Get your City Council/Board of Supervisors/or other city bodies to Pass a Resolution asking their Congressional Delegation to VOTE NO on the 33 BILLION MORE DOLLARS FOR WAR IN AFGHANISTAN.

Here are some cities with Peace Resolutions. If you live in one of them, get them to pass a new resolution “NO MORE WAR FUNDING, VOTE NO on the 33 BILLION MORE DOLLARS FOR WAR IN AFGHANISTAN. We can stop this, it is up to YOU and ME.

How much have we spent on the war in Afghanistan since the beginning EIGHT YEARS AGO? $200 BILLION. How big is the total U.S. individual State deficits this year? $126 BILLION. We are cutting schools, teachers, firefighters, infrastructure is being neglected, but we are trying to “rebuild Afghanistan”, for what? OIL AND ITS PIPELINES.

$200 Billion War in Afghanistan, a $196 Billion State Shortfall, a coincidence?

    From NY Times Editorial “President Obama in Kabul” Mr. Obama made the right decision to send another 30,000 troops to help drive the Taliban out of important strongholds. But there is no way to hold those cities and towns without an effective Afghan government (at both the federal and local level) to take over. And after eight years of fighting, more than 1,000 American lives lost and more than $200 billion from American taxpayers spent, Mr. Karzai’s failure to build a credible, honest and even minimally effective government remains the Taliban’s No. 1 recruiting tool.

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW. GET YOUR CITY COUNCIL TO PASS A RESOLUTION TO END THE WAR FUNDING, ENCOURAGE YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS TO VOTE NO ON THE $33 BILLION MORE DOLLARS TO BE WASTED IN AFGHANISTAN. WE CAN NOT AFFORD THIS WAR ANY LONGER.

Top stories on this POST: Political Borders does not a Country Make: The Kurds, the Pashtuns, the Baloch, how to satisfy them? ; Kurdistan Independence Map and Oil Maps; Malalai Joya’s new book “A Woman Among Warlords”, read it

November 20, 2009

OUR FIRST RE-RUN: On October 1, 2009 we posted the following story. It is the most sought after story by TAGS on our site so we are reposting it today for a portion of the day. There’s a following story that is on topic also.You can also read “Blood Borders: Kurdistan, Pashtunistan, Balochistan, and other Ethnic homelands divided are the problem; Britain ended its military mission in Iraq; Pakistan Poll: “U.S. greater danger than India” HERE.

BULLETIN:Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s second in command, has sung the praises of former Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud on a videotape produced by As Sahab and distributed on jihadi forums. Zawahiri used Baitullah’s death to praise the Taliban’s fight against NATO and the US in Afghanistan. This story outlines what al Qaeda believes about the Pakistan Government and Military, that they work for foreign governments, not for the people.]

Artificial lines separating Tribes are causing the problems that can not be solved with guns/bombs/drones.

Two of the Huge Problems that no one is facing in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan are due to artificial borders laid out years ago. The Iraq problem is what to do with the Kurds, who lay claim to Kirkuk (after Saddam sent Iraqi’s into Kirkuk and chased out/killed many Kurds so now the population is not a high majority of Kurds like it was before Saddam’s action), the richest underdeveloped oil fields in Iraq. Who gets this oil? Will the Iraqi’s kill all the Kurds? Will the Turks help out as many Kurds are in what is known as Turkey? The Turks battle and kill Kurds when they please. Read our story 40 Million? Leyla Zana speaks for them.

Kurdish Woman's headdress

Kurdish Woman's headdress


The Afghanistan/Pakistan problem is that the majority of both of these countries should be called Pashtunistan, because almost 40 million Pashtuns make up this area, but they have no country, they are either Afghani or Pakistani. So the U.S. brings them Democracy, a Constitution, a Central Government, something that is totally against the culture of both the Kurds and the Pashtuns.
Pashtun Women in headdress

Pashtun Women in headdress


The Pashtuns are run by Pashtunwali, an alternative form of social organization, see our story here. Over the centuries, complex and sophisticated conflict-resolution mechanisms, legal codes, and alternative forms of governance have developed in the region. The rural Pashtuns prefer their own mechanisms to alien, external ones, because, in their perceptions, theirs are clearly superior, said Thomas Johnson/M. Chris Mason in No Sign until the Burst of Fire.

The splitting up of land masses and calling the areas within artifical lines “Countries” has led to much damage in Central Asia and many other places. Let’s look at Pashtunistan, an area of land that is made up primarily of people of Pastun descent. It happens to not be a country at all. It was divided by an artificial line, the Durand Line in 1893. Pashtunistan is now the area that is under the most fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan as Pastunistan covers most of what is now called Afghanistan, and a majority of the lands now called Pakistan, which was known as British India before Pakistan was cut out of India. Here’s Pashtunistan:

The Green Area is Pashtunistan (2007 map)  The Green line is the Durand Line with a small change since 1893

The Green Area is Pashtunistan (2007 map) The Green line is the Durand Line with a small change since 1893

Let’s take a quick look to Kurdistan. The Kurds have a small area of Iraq on the North that they are left to self-govern. This is all of the recognized areas that the Kurds now have, even though there are over 40 Million Kurds in four different countries, all held down by their new Nation. Here’s what Kurdistan should look like:

What should be Kurdistan, home of 40 Million Kurds, across four "Countries"
Another map of Kurdistan, for comparison purposes:

A different map of Kurdistan Area

A different map of Kurdistan Area


And of course, the new highlighted area “Balochistan”, an area of land that is now all within Pakistan, and was cut into Pakistan when India and Pakistan border was laid out. The Baloch’s are a proud and ancient tribe of people, see our story on Balochistan
Balochistan and the other three areas that should be countries

Balochistan and the other three areas that should be countries


Gowar Shakar Bibi, founder of Baloch Women Panel(BWP) at a press conference in January 2005 condemning the Pakistani operation against Baloch people in New Kahan.

Gowar Shakar Bibi, founder of Baloch Women Panel(BWP) at a press conference in January 2005 condemning the Pakistani operation against Baloch people in New Kahan.

[

Action YOU can take:

Congress Should Vote “No” on 2010 Military Budget! To reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 Leave a message: Vote No on the Military budget. End the War(s).

Today, please tell your member of Congress and U.S. Senators to End the War in Afghanistan, sign this petition. If you live outside the United States, write to your leaders, End the War Now.

What Kurdistan Could Look Like, 40 Million People Deserve their own Country

What Kurdistan Could Look Like, 40 Million People Deserve their own Country

Kurdistan Independence Map and Oil Maps: The Kirkuk ConundrumThe Kirkuk conundrum, written by Ranj Alaaldin guardian.co.uk, outlines the problem facing Iraq. It is a Kurdish problem, but it overrides the Iraq Constitution and Voting Rights. Alaaldin says “Iraqi democracy is stuck in a constitutional hiatus over the Kurdish-dominated region that threatens to derail elections”.

  • Kirkuk, controlled by the Kurds after the 2005 elections, never took part in this year’s provincial elections because of disagreements over responsibility for security and eventual control of the provincial council. Similar disagreements exist once again. Some have called for special arrangements that divide the area into four separate, ethnically-defined electoral constituencies, while the Turkmen and Arabs are calling for voting quotas in response to what they call the modified demographics of the governorate by the Kurds, who constitute the majority there.

    The Kurds were forcefully removed from Kirkuk by Saddam and are now returning back, pursuant to the “normalisation” process under Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which seeks to reverse the Arabisation policies of the Ba’ath regime. According to UN reports and staff present in Iraq at the time, in November 1991 alone, eight months after the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf war, more than 150,000 Kurds were evicted from Kirkuk.

  • The Kurdistan Alliance, however, has rejected giving any special status to Kirkuk simply because it has a Kurdish majority. If the oil-rich area is given special status, then, by equal measure maintains the Alliance, so should other disputed territories where Kurds happen to be minorities. To implement a quota system would indeed be profoundly undemocratic. Read it all here.

    It’s Kirkuk OIL, the largest field yet to be explored in Iraq. Delovan Barwari writes at the Kurdish Herald “According to various studies, Kurdistan sits on 43.7 billion barrels (bb) of proven oil and 25.5 bb of potential reserves. In addition, the majority of the estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of gas in Iraq is reported to be in Kurdistan Region. Against the backdrop of challenges by the Iraqi central government over the past few years, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has granted over 30 contracts to foreign companies for the exploration, development, and production of petroleum in the Kurdistan Region, and has began exporting crude oil via Turkey. In addition, a number of refineries are currently being built to meet its domestic energy needs.” Read his full story here. Great Map of the Oil Fields in the Kurdish region of Iraq is presented here.
    A KIRKUK OIL Map for your viewing:

    Fringing Reef (Oligocene) of Kirkuk Oil Field (Dunnington, 1958)

    Fringing Reef (Oligocene) of Kirkuk Oil Field (Dunnington, 1958)

    There should be an Independent Kurdistan, much larger than the current Iraq Kurd area. There should also be an Independent Pastunistan, since 2/3 of Afghanistan’s area is Pashtun populated, Pashtuns number over 40 Million and have no home country. There should be an Independent Balochistan, with over 7 Million population, and over 45% of the Pakistan country lands. The Durand Line that cut up parts of Central Asia in 1893, and other political divisions were wrong. See our Durand Line story here.

    Malalai Joya’s story will be on our Blog every day for the next month. Please buy her book and visit her site.. Read her San Jose Mercury Opinion: “U.S. is doing no good in Afghanistan” here.
    On Saturday, Nov. 7, Malalai Joya was at a gathering at San Jose State University in California to promote her book “A Woman Among Warlords” and to gather support for her people in Afghanistan. Malalai is a very brave woman to take on her own government and also the U.S. government, the occupiers of her country.

    DSCN1610

    Malalai Joya signing her new book, A Woman Among Warlords, a JB photo

    Our story on Malalai Joya can be seen here. Buy a copy of her book, “A Woman Among Warlords” here, or at your favorite bookstore. A great Holiday gift idea. The subtitle is “The Extraordinary Story of an Afghan Who Dared to Raise Her Voice”. Visit Malalai’s website here for more information on how you can help.

    * * *
    Take Action Now:
    Call President Obama: To reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 Leave a message: No more Troops. End the War(s). Call Leon Panetta at (703) 482-0623, CIA headquarters, leave a message: Stop the South Waziristan War and don’t attack Quetta, End the War(s).

    Today, please tell your member of Congress and U.S. Senators to End the War in Afghanistan, sign this petition. If you live outside the United States, write to your leaders, End the War Now.

    Kurdistan Independence Map; The Kirkuk Cunundrum; It’s Kirkuk OIL; Independent Kurdistan, Pastunistan, and Balochistan Must Happen

    October 27, 2009

    What Kurdistan Could Look Like, 40 Million People Deserve their own Country

    What Kurdistan Could Look Like, 40 Million People Deserve their own Country

    The Kirkuk conundrum, written by Ranj Alaaldin guardian.co.uk, outlines the problem facing Iraq. It is a Kurdish problem, but it overrides the Iraq Constitution and Voting Rights. Alaaldin says “Iraqi democracy is stuck in a constitutional hiatus over the Kurdish-dominated region that threatens to derail elections”.

  • Kirkuk, controlled by the Kurds after the 2005 elections, never took part in this year’s provincial elections because of disagreements over responsibility for security and eventual control of the provincial council. Similar disagreements exist once again. Some have called for special arrangements that divide the area into four separate, ethnically-defined electoral constituencies, while the Turkmen and Arabs are calling for voting quotas in response to what they call the modified demographics of the governorate by the Kurds, who constitute the majority there.

    The Kurds were forcefully removed from Kirkuk by Saddam and are now returning back, pursuant to the “normalisation” process under Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, which seeks to reverse the Arabisation policies of the Ba’ath regime. According to UN reports and staff present in Iraq at the time, in November 1991 alone, eight months after the conclusion of the 1991 Gulf war, more than 150,000 Kurds were evicted from Kirkuk.

  • The Kurdistan Alliance, however, has rejected giving any special status to Kirkuk simply because it has a Kurdish majority. If the oil-rich area is given special status, then, by equal measure maintains the Alliance, so should other disputed territories where Kurds happen to be minorities. To implement a quota system would indeed be profoundly undemocratic. Read it all here.

    It’s Kirkuk OIL, the largest field yet to be explored in Iraq. Delovan Barwari writes at the Kurdish Herald “According to various studies, Kurdistan sits on 43.7 billion barrels (bb) of proven oil and 25.5 bb of potential reserves. In addition, the majority of the estimated 200 trillion cubic feet of gas in Iraq is reported to be in Kurdistan Region. Against the backdrop of challenges by the Iraqi central government over the past few years, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has granted over 30 contracts to foreign companies for the exploration, development, and production of petroleum in the Kurdistan Region, and has began exporting crude oil via Turkey. In addition, a number of refineries are currently being built to meet its domestic energy needs.” Read his full story here. Great Map of the Oil Fields in the Kurdish region of Iraq is presented here.
    A KIRKUK OIL Map for your viewing:

    Fringing Reef (Oligocene) of Kirkuk Oil Field (Dunnington, 1958)

    Fringing Reef (Oligocene) of Kirkuk Oil Field (Dunnington, 1958)

    There should be an Independent Kurdistan, much larger than the current Iraq Kurd area. There should also be an Independent Pastunistan, since 2/3 of Afghanistan’s area is Pashtun populated, Pashtuns number over 40 Million and have no home country. There should be an Independent Balochistan, with over 7 Million population, and over 45% of the Pakistan country lands. The Durand Line that cut up parts of Central Asia in 1893, and other political divisions were wrong. See our Durand Line story here.
    * * *
    Take Action Now:
    Call President Obama: To reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 Leave a message: No more Troops. End the War(s). Call Leon Panetta at (703) 482-0623, CIA headquarters, leave a message: Stop the South Waziristan War and don’t attack Quetta, End the War(s).

    Today, please tell your member of Congress and U.S. Senators to End the War in Afghanistan, sign this petition. If you live outside the United States, write to your leaders, End the War Now.

    Blood Borders: Kurdistan, Pashtunistan, Balochistan, and other Ethnic homelands divided are the problem; Britain ended its military mission in Iraq; Pakistan Poll: “U.S. greater danger than India”

    October 15, 2009

    Blood borders
    How a better Middle East would look By Ralph Peters (2006)
    As for those who refuse to “think the unthinkable,” declaring that boundaries must not change and that’s that, it pays to remember that boundaries have never stopped changing through the centuries..The most glaring injustice in the notoriously unjust lands between the Balkan Mountains and the Himalayas is the absence of an independent Kurdish state. There are between 27 million and 36 million Kurds living in contiguous regions in the Middle East (the figures are imprecise because no state has ever allowed an honest census). Greater than the population of present-day Iraq, even the lower figure makes the Kurds the world’s largest ethnic group without a state of its own. Worse, Kurds have been oppressed by every government controlling the hills and mountains where they’ve lived since Xenophon’s day. See: Genocide in Kurdistan, an accounting of the 1988 Iraq use of chemical weapons to kill the Kurdish population.

    What Kurdistan borders should look like; Part of Turkey; Syria; Iran, and Iraq would be added to its current small piece of Iraq

    What Kurdistan borders should look like; Part of Turkey; Syria; Iran, and Iraq would be added to its current small piece of Iraq

    The U.S. and its coalition partners missed a glorious chance to begin to correct this injustice after Baghdad’s fall. A Frankenstein’s monster of a state sewn together from ill-fitting parts, Iraq should have been divided into three smaller states immediately. We failed from cowardice and lack of vision, bullying Iraq’s Kurds into supporting the new Iraqi government — which they do wistfully as a quid pro quo for our good will. But were a free plebiscite to be held, make no mistake: Nearly 100 percent of Iraq’s Kurds would vote for independence. Read this great analysis here.

    ‘Election law could fail over Kirkuk’
    Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution calls for a referendum to decide Kirkuk’s fate, which Kurds have long wanted to make the capital of their autonomous north, an aim strongly opposed by the province’s Arabs and Turkmen.Parliament is set to discuss the election law on Wednesday, ahead of nation-wide legislative polls on January 16. Now they are trying to pass an Election law that would allow for closed voting, and many are against that. Read the whole story.

    Remember Iraq? Queen honours British Iraq troops Did you know that Britain ended its military mission in Iraq in April 2009, after six years of service in the troubled country?

    The U.S. has 120,000 troops there (how many “contractors” is not known, but is estimated to be of equal or higher number that the troop number). The Long War has posted in May the following: Iraqi Security Forces Order of Battle update: May 2009. Read this to understand the Iraqi Government can take care of themselves. Get those troops out and sent home now.

    Pakistan facing worst-case scenario?
    The worst-case scenario facing Pakistan – prolonged insecurity with militants launching bloody attacks on the key pillars of the state – is no longer just a risk for markets and Western policymakers to fret over.
    It is already here. ‘Poll after poll shows Pakistanis increasingly do fear the threat posed by extremists… but they believe the US is an even bigger danger to their country,’ Riedel said, adding many Pakistanis saw the US as a greater threat than India. ‘And any time you outpoll India as the bad guy in Pakistan, you are in deep trouble.’

    * * *
    Our Opinion: Is there a second Ghandi here? How about a reduction in troops by 20,000 (including NATO) and setting a date for total withdrawl? People will say “you can’t do that, the Taliban will win”. Are we in Afghanistan to protect a government? Wern’t we told we were there to get Bin Laden and al Quaeda?

    Take Action Now:
    Call President Obama: To reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 Leave a message: No more Troops. End the War(s). Call Leon Panetta at (703) 482-0623, CIA headquarters, leave a message: Don’t attack Quetta, End the War(s).

    Today, please tell your member of Congress and U.S. Senators to End the War in Afghanistan, sign this petition. If you live outside the United States, write to your leaders, End the War Now.

    Leon Panetta, you can stop the Drone attack of Quetta before it starts. Follow your heart.

    October 5, 2009

    Spreading the War over all of Central Asia, is that the U.S. policy?  Leon Panetta can stop this from happening, he should not allow Drone attacks in Quetta, Balochistan.  Leon, we know you as a person, a fine husband,father, brother, son and uncle, and grandfather(?).  You worked hard for the U.S. government all of your adult life.  As a staffer in the Civil Rights Office  in Nixon’ White House (where you resigned in disgust) to a Member of Congress from the Central Coast of California; to Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Clinton; to Chief of Staff to President Clinton; to the co-founder with your partner and wife Sylvia, the Panetta Foundation; and now, we don’t know you as Central Intelligence Agency Chief, the head of the CIA. 

    You are from an Italian family.  Your roots go back to tribes similar to those in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and most of Central Asia.  You can stop the death of innocents due to Drone attacks.  It is an inhuman weapon.  It is directed to fire on a home by “intelligence” that someone that you want dead is there.  But you don’t know for sure.  You order the Hellfire Missile to be fired, the President agrees, and more people are killed.   Please do not spread this to Quetta, the capitol of Balochistan.  It will mean the end to the current Pakistan Government, and will cause your supply lines to be cut off from Pakistan to Afghanistan.   A humanity and tactical error of great magnitude.  Leon, help End this War.  Come up with a strategy to accomplish what you want without putting so many millions of people in jeopardy and starvation.  Let the Pope be your guide.  Please, Leon, do what is right, you’ve been doing that All Your Life. Many of your liberal supporters on the Central Coast of California call upon you to lead us out of this trouble [Leon, this is John from 1976 writing this to you]. You can do it. Yes, you can. Reader, call Leon Panetta at (703) 482-0623, CIA headquarters, leave a message: Don’t attack Quetta, End the War(s).

    Why send Killer Drones to Quetta? On a hunch? On faulty intelligence? Are you told by Indian spies that Mullah Omar is there? The Prime Minister of Balochistan tells you what he knows, they are not in Quetta.

    Thanks to The Long War for posting this video.  As you surf the web, make sure to stop at the Long War for information not found elsewhere.  Bill Roggio and his staff do a great job and have in-depth knowledge of who is who in the battlegrounds. Support their great reporting.

    Quetta History: The following paragraph was taken from The City District Government Quetta website.Go visit the site. It is in English and very well done. See what we are about to destroy, chasing ghosts….Quetta district is ethnically diverse. A colourful culture can be seen in the district. The district is multilingual in the sense that there are five major ethnic groups, and each group has its own cultural values. They are Pashtoons, Balochs, Brahuis, Hazaras and Punjabis. Some other minor ethnic groups like Urdu speaking Mehajirs and Sindhis are also living in the city. The mode of living differs from group to group. In the urban area except Kachi Abadis, the way of living is somewhat modern especially among the wealthier people. In the rural area, the style of living is more traditional.

    Over 750,000 people, just like you and me and our families, our children, our aunts and uncles, our in-laws, our grandparents, our parents, our sisters and brothers are all about to be torn apart and some killed. The Swat Valley residents still have not fully returned, and over 2 Million were ‘displaced’ prior to the Military action there by Pakistan and our Drones. Over 125,000 have left the South Waziristan area all ready and are now ‘displaced’, in anticipation to the Pakistan Military shellings prior to the invasion planned there, and the American Drones coming and killing.
    * * *
    Action You can Take:

    Congress Should Vote “No” on 2010 Military Budget! To reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 Leave a message: Vote No on the Military budget. End the War(s). Reader, call Leon Panetta at (703) 482-0623, CIA headquarters, leave a message: Don’t attack Quetta, End the War(s).

    Today, please tell your member of Congress and U.S. Senators to End the War in Afghanistan, sign this petition. If you live outside the United States, write to your leaders, End the War Now.

    South Waziristan War Drums Beating Louder, over 125,000 men, women and children on the run now

    October 3, 2009

    Global Hawk, Northrup Grumman, USAF Photo

    Global Hawk, Northrup Grumman, USAF Photo


    As the world’s first fully autonomous HALE UAS, Global Hawk can soar at altitudes of more than 60,000 feet for more than 32 hours and send near-real-time reconnaissance imagery to air, ground, and sea forces. It can fly three times as long and operates at a fraction of the cost per flight hour than its manned counterpart. Compared to other similar UAS, it only takes a single Global Hawk to collect the same information as 18 smaller medium-altitude UAS. The Drone war in North and South Waziristan continues. CREECH AIR FORCE BASE: Airmen of the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing here surpassed the 600,000 flight hour mark in the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft system Sept. 4 here. The Predator fleet passed 250,000 hours in June 2007, after 12 years of flying, and it only took a year and eight months for the aircraft to fly an additional 250,000 hours to reach 500,000 flying hours in February 2009.

    This post is a follow-up to yesterday’s post

    FATA MPs protest possible South Waziristan operation. Two Stories from today’s dailytimes.com:

    Story One: The Smell of War, our comments. This looks like they are waiting for the supplies and the personnel to arrive in the area and then they are going to attack. But they have been shelling the area for weeks now. Will this be where U.S. Special Forces are allowed officially into Pakistan to go after the High Command of the Taliban believed to be in Quetta? Black Ops still rule. Get in and out and don’t get caught or shot. U.S. Drones will do their job from Nevada control monitors. It’s a Drone War: It has been reported that now over 800,000 hours per year of Drone airtime is in play in the war zone. The newly-inducted Global Hawk, for instance (see photo and description above), can fly more than 24 hours non-stop at nearly 50,000 feet, and act as an eye and ear-in-the-sky , intercepting radio and mobile-phone communications, gathering intelligence using video, radar, thermal-imaging and other sensors, and communicating instantly to an operations room anywhere – or to the hand-held devices of soldiers.

    Army preparing for S Waziristan offensive: officials * Intelligence officials refuse to give timeframe, but say required equipment now available at bases in region

    ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army is readying itself for a major offensive against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in South Waziristan, said intelligence officials on Friday, an operation likely to win US praise – yet face steep challenges. The three intelligence officials did not specify a timeframe, and the army would not confirm a local newspaper report that the offensive could begin within days. The military still needs a final nod from the government, and is trying to strike deals with some local warlords in the region bordering Afghanistan to support it or at least stay neutral, said the intelligence officials. The intelligence officers said the army now had the required troops, helicopter gunships, planes and other heavy weapons at three army bases in the region. They said they were awaiting final approval from top authorities.

    But Mehmood Shah – a former security chief for Pakistan’s tribal regions – said he had yet to see the sort of military movement necessary to go in full force. Shah said there were more than 20,000 troops in South Waziristan, and a similar number in North Waziristan, but not enough for the task at hand. “I would say the army has decided a ground offensive, but I do not think it is very close,” he told AP. “I am confident there is nothing like this in the next 15 days.” The intelligence officials said the government was still negotiating with warlords Maulvi Nazir of South Waziristan and Hafiz Gul Bahadur of North Waziristan. “What the Pakistan Army is working on is that if they both do not announce their support, they should remain impartial,” one said. ap

    Story Two, our Comments: Over 125,000 residents of the area in South Waziristan have all ready left their homes and now called “displaced”. Where did they go? This is a Swat repeat. Can you imagine today you have to pack up your family and leave your home for somewhere in a neighboring state to live in a tent? What happens to school for your children? Your job? Your livestock, your crops? What is there when you return? All those answers are available if someone would track Swat, but we get very little information about what is left in Swat after the Pakistan Military bombarded the area with howitzer cannons and airplanes and helicopter gunships and bombs. Where’s the cameras in the streets showing us what has happened there?

    LAHORE: The prospect of a Pakistan Army offensive against the Taliban in South Waziristan is triggering concern among local lawmakers, a Bloomberg report says. Fifteen of the 20 members of parliament from FATA say they have withdrawn support to the government because they have not been consulted. Munir Khan Orakzai, an MP, said an offensive might fail if the government does not simultaneously move to develop the impoverished area. The US has been pressuring Pakistan to attack the Taliban stronghold. Most recently, Gerald Feierstein, the deputy chief of the US embassy in Islamabad, told reporters at a press conference the US believed Osama Bin Laden was operating from that area. The possibility of a government offensive has led more than 128,000 residents of Waziristan to flee their homes, the United Nations said in September.
    * * *
    Action You can Take:

    Congress Should Vote “No” on 2010 Military Budget! To reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 Leave a message: Vote No on the Military budget. End the War(s).

    Today, please tell your member of Congress and U.S. Senators to End the War in Afghanistan, sign this petition. If you live outside the United States, write to your leaders, End the War Now.

    The Massacre continues in South (and North) Waziristan: Pakistan Army now ready to “Move Into South” after three months of artillery fire and bombing. Detroit can’t bury its dead.

    October 2, 2009

    Welcome to the repeat of the Swat Valley attacks by the Pakistan Military. South Waziristan has been in a three month blockade, surrounded by Pakistani Military that have been firing artillery and using airplanes and helicopters to bomb and shoot up primary targets in South Waziristan. Now, two divisions of troops are ready to go into South Waziristan, the noted stronghold of the Taliban.

    North and South Waziristan and the Tribal Areas

    North and South Waziristan and the Tribal Areas

    Reported in Dawn.com today: …the army is running out of targets for air strikes and quick get-in and get-out type surgical strikes due to intelligence problems. Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani recently described the Mehsud badlands as an intelligence black hole. ‘We have to move in,’ he said. The icing on the cake came with the death of Baitullah Mehsud in a drone attack in August. His death complemented the military’s plan that included an economic blockade already in place since June. Thousands of army soldiers — two divisions — are now sitting on the fringes of the Mehsud mainland waiting for orders from the high command to move in. A debate is raging within some circles whether the military could have mounted an assault shortly after BM’s death. ‘As far as we are concerned the operation should have been launched three months ago,’ a senior government official said. ‘Baitullah is dead and his group seems to be in some sort of disarray. And this provides the best opportunity to go after them,’ the official said. ‘That may have been correct,’ acknowledged a senior military official. ‘We thought that Baitullah’s death would unravel the Mehsud militant group and galvanise the tribe to stand up to the people who have caused them suffering. It didn’t happen,’ the official argued. Read the rest at Dawn.com.

    From Bill Roggio’s The Long War: A look at the publicly available data on the US air campaign in Pakistan shows a marked increase in the frequency in attacks since 2008. These attacks are also becoming increasingly lethal. A little more than one in three of the strikes have killed a High Value Target (HVT). An overwhelming number of strikes – nearly 90 percent – have taken place against al Qaeda and Taliban targets in North and South Waziristan. Notably, a large percentage of the high value targets killed were killed in a tribal region operated by a Taliban leader whom the Pakistani military and government consider an ally.

    Switching gears for a moment, the Gallop Pakistan Poll of July 28, 2009 pointed out that the population now wants the Taliban stopped. Also, the poll shows that President Zardari is held in very low esteem by the population, only 18% like him. Here’s a pie chart showing that the Pakistan population believes that the United States is the biggest threat to the Pakistan People, way above the Taliban and India, their arch rival in the area.

    Gallop Pakistan Poll July 27, 2009

    Gallop Pakistan Poll July 27, 2009


    The U.S. has given over 12 Billion to Pakistan over the past 10 years. Now, the U.S. has passed into law the giving of $1.5 Billion per year to Pakistan for the next 5 years. That’s a total of $7.5 Billion to Pakistan to “combat terrorism and to help “dismantle nuclear supplier networks”. The Pakistan Government has been told that it must take an active role in terminating the Taliban or their funds would be cut off.

    Yesterday, in the city of Detroit, the capital of the State of Michigan, announced that they had 67 dead bodies in the freezer in the morgue that the City did not have the money to bury them and that their relatives didn’t have any money either, so these dead Americans are kept in the freezer. This highlights the problems that face the cities in America. Each city has had to cut its budget, cutting out needed services because of the tax revenues being lower due to the economic disaster that hit in September 2008 and is still in the tank. We don’t have the BILLIONS to carry on these useless wars.

    Congress Should Vote “No” on 2010 Military Budget! To reach the U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121 or 202-225-3121 Leave a message: Vote No on the Military budget. End the War(s).

    Today, please tell your member of Congress and U.S. Senators to End the War in Afghanistan, sign this petition. If you live outside the United States, write to your leaders, End the War Now.


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