Afghan officials have said an apparent Nato air strike has killed 15 people – nine of them civilians, including women and children – in an eastern province where the Taliban remain strong. Nato said 10 militants (which is vaguely defined by the Obama Administration as males of ‘military-age to prevent civilian casualty counts) had died in the strike, and that it had no reports of any civilian deaths.
The Kunar province police chief Abdul Habib Sayed Khaili said the air strike had hit a pickup truck carrying the women and children in Qoro village soon after three Arab and three Afghan militants boarded it on Saturday evening. He said some reports had called it a drone strike, but that Afghan officials had been unable to confirm that. Of the 15 dead, four were women, four were children and one was the driver, the police official said.
The Watapur district chief Zalmai Yousefi confirmed the air strike. He also said 15 people had been killed, including women and children.
The Nato spokeswoman 1st Lieutenant AnnMarie Annicelli confirmed that the military alliance had carried out a “precision strike” that killed 10 “enemy forces”, but that it had received no reports of any civilians dying in the air strike. Annicelli had no immediate details on who exactly the dead were or what prompted the strike.
Even as US-led foreign forces draw down their presence in Afghanistan, with a full exit expected by the end of 2014, the air support they provide to Afghan troops in many regions is still a crucial part of operations against the Taliban.
Past strikes that killed civilians have infuriated Afghans. The president, Hamid Karzai, has spoken out forcefully against them and banned Afghan troops from requesting Nato air strikes during operations in residential areas.
As the violence in Afghanistan has spread, civilians are increasingly getting caught up in the conflict.
Around 1,000 Afghan civilians have been killed and more than 2,000 wounded in the first half of this year – a huge portion of them in insurgent attacks – according to the UN. That marked a 24% rise in casualties compared to the same period last year.
Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has ordered the withdrawal of US special forces from a restive eastern province in Afghanistan within two weeks.
At a press conference in the Afghan capital on Sunday, Aimal Faizi, presidential spokesman, said US special forces were responsible for furthering “insecurity and instability” Maidan Wardak.
“In today’s [weekly] national security council meeting, Afghan President Hamid Karzai ordered the ministry of defence to kick out the US special forces from Wardak … within two weeks," Faizi said.
Faizi said “misconduct” by people linked to the US special forces in Wardak included the beheading of a student and the capture of nine missing locals.
A statement issued by the national security council said “it became clear that armed individuals named as US special force stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people”.
The statement points to two recent examples, the disappearance of nine people “in an operation by this suspicious force” and the disappearance of a student that officials say was found two days later with his throat cut under a bridge.
"Such actions have caused local public resentment and hatred," the statement read.
The ministry of defense has been assigned to insure that US special forces withdraw from Wardak within two weeks time.
If you are offended by some smashy-smashy, you probably shouldn’t watch this video.
The eleventh anniversary of the US-Afghanistan war and occupation was marked with a destructive anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist, anti-colonial march though downtown Oakland Sunday night (Oct. 7). More than 200 Afghans and their allies gathered at Oscar Grant Plaza at 6PM, before taking the streets an hour later.
Prior to the march, the activists held an hour long rally and speak out about the injustices caused by imperialism and the horrors of the war in Afghanistan.
The march was in the spirit of the radical SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) marches in the late 1960′s. A poster that reads, “Bring the war home” was used as a propaganda tool online. Organizers urged marchers to wear hoodies or hijabs. The destruction seemed to be their (Afghans) anger over the unjust occupation of their homeland manifested in the streets in the form of attacking financial institutions and other imperialist property. I described the march as a “30 minute human tornado of social justice,” on twitter.
The property destruction reached at least three banks, an AT&T building, a Kaiser Permanente office, an OPD substation, the OPD internal affairs department, a downtown security office, the Oakland Tribune, City Hall, a gentrifying new apartment building in “uptown,” a fence surrounding a former Occupy Oakland encampment, and other pro-capitalist, pro-war, pro-imperialist, owed property.
Police were no where to be seen, until the final moments when the protesters dispersed after some finished up by busting out the windows and front doors of City Hall.
Large amounts of police were reported to have been in the area about 30 minutes after the marchers dispersed.
No arrests were made, and no injuries were suffered.
This action will end a four day series of anti-capitalist, anti-colonial marches aimed at disrupting Columbus Day celebrations. On Saturday (Oct. 6), 20 protesters were arrested after police violently attacked their anti-colonial march in San Francisco.
The Taliban announced Wednesday that the newly reelected President Barack Obama and US authorities “must by now know that they have lost the war in Afghanistan.” Taliban media spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid also said that “without further lying and delays, they should leave our sacred land,” AFP reported. The US should “stop acting like police in the world and focus on solving their own people’s problems,” a statement posted on the Taliban’s website read.
It’s one of the most important measurements of the Afghanistan war’s progress: how many civilians die from the conflict. And for the first time in years, that number has dropped, a rare spot of good news in a war that’s dragged on for a decade. But even with the drop, there are now more dead civilians in Afghanistan than before President Obama’s surge, which might be one reason why even those tallying the civilian deaths warn that the decline doesn’t herald a turn in the war’s fortunes.
There were 3,099 civilians killed and wounded in the Afghanistan war between January and June 2012, the United Nations reports, a 15 percent decline from that period in 2011. Casualties caused by air strikes, the leading single cause of civilian injury at the hands of the U.S. and its allies, are down by 25 percent. (Perhaps that’s because of the recent overall decline in the air war.) And insurgents are responsible for nearly 90 percent of injured and dead Afghans.
The proportional harm to the population done by the insurgency has been rising ever since the U.S. began surging troops in 2009 and implementing a strategy that prioritized ‘protecting’ civilians. But there hasn’t been a corresponding drop in violence — and highlighting Taliban viciousness. The 3,099 casualties in the first six months of 2012 is astronomical compared to the 2,118 in all of 2008 — which, at the time, was the highest in the entire war. The grim toll kept rising in 2010, as overall violence rose as the result of the troop surge.
So for the first time, at least, since Obama escalated the war, fewer Afghans have died in the conflict. But as the 2008 numbers show, the drop in violence still leaves the harm to Afghans at a higher level than it was when Obama decided the U.S. needed to make a final push in Afghanistan to salvage the war. Whatever else Obama’s surge has accomplished, it simply has not made Afghanistan a safer place for Afghans to live.
And the United Nations isn’t exactly trumpeting the decline. The U.N.’s Afghanistan monitors, who keep track of the death toll, referred to a “modest 15% drop,” and then emphasized the negative, like a shift in Taliban tactics toward assassinations, homemade bomb attacks and threats to schools. Ironically, in the war to spin the Afghan conflict, those are measurements that the U.S. has portrayed as signs of progress, as allegedly they show the Taliban’s inability to hold territory.
The U.S. Military Will Spy On Afghanistan Decades After The War Is Over
America is supposed to wind down its war in Afghanistan by 2014. But U.S. forces may continue to track Afghans for years after the conflict is officially done. Palm-sized sensors, developed for the American military, will remain littered across the Afghan countryside — detecting anyone who moves nearby and reporting their locations back to a remote headquarters.
Some of these surveillance tools could be buried in the ground, all-but-unnoticeable by passersby. Others might be disguised as rocks, with wafer-sized, solar-rechargeable batteries that could enable the sensors’ operation for perhaps as long as two decades, if their makers are to be believed.
“Were going to leave behind a lot of special operators in Afghanistan. And they need the kind of capability that’s easy to put out so they can monitor a village without a lot of overt U.S.-made material on pathways and roadways,” says Matt Plyburn, an executive at Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor.
And they won’t just be used overseas. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol today employs more than 7,500 UGSs on the Mexican border to spot illegal migrants. Defense contractors believe one of the biggest markets for the next generation of the sensors will be here at home.
NATO Air Strike Kills 8 Afghan Civilians Including 6 Children
A NATO air strike killed a family of eight, including six children, when it hit their home in eastern Afghanistan, local officials said on Sunday.
Saturday night’s incident in Paktia province threatens to further sour already shaky ties between President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers and will likely enrage Afghan civilians weary of years of bloodshed.
“Eight people, a man, his wife and six of their children, are dead,” local government spokesman Rohullah Samoon told AFP.
“It was an air strike conducted by NATO. This man had no connection to the Taliban or any other terrorist group.”
A senior security official in Kabul confirmed the strike and deaths.
Australia To Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan Early
Australia said Tuesday it will bring its troops home from Afghanistan a year earlier than planned with most soldiers withdrawn in 2013 after significant security gains over the past 18 months.
Canberra, a key coalition ally of the United States, has repeatedly said it intends to remain in the war-wracked nation until 2014 but Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Afghans would now be ready to take responsibility earlier.
She will take her pull-out timetable to a NATO summit in Chicago next month with her announcement coming a day ahead of NATO foreign and defence ministers meeting in Brussels to fine-tune their own troop withdrawals.
“I’m now confident that Chicago will recognise mid-2013 as a key milestone in the international strategy,” she said in a keynote speech shortly after a wave of coordinated Taliban attacks in Afghanistan left 51 people dead.
“A crucial point when the international forces will be able to move to a supporting role across all of Afghanistan.”
Australia has some 1,550 troops stationed in the strife-torn country and has so far lost 32 soldiers in the conflict.
Poll: A Majority Of Republicans Believe The War In Afghanistan Is Not Worth Fighting
A majority of Republicans say for the first time that the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll that comes as the continuing U.S. presence in that country is emerging as a key point of contention in the presidential race.
The poll findings are likely to present a challenge for Republican front-runner Mitt Romney, who has said that the goal in Afghanistan should be to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield.
President Obama stepped back from that goal during his 2009 strategy review and has set the end of 2014 as the departure date for all U.S. combat forces.
Overall, the Post-ABC News poll reflects a country bone-weary of war after more than a decade of fighting in Afghanistan and, until late last year, an almost nine-year engagement in Iraq.
Public support for the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan has fallen to an all-time low, with only 30 percent of respondents saying it has been worth fighting.
Afghanistan War Is Now More Unpopular Than Iraq War
According to a New York Times poll, 69 percent of Americans think the U.S. shouldn’t be waging the Afghanistan war. That reinforces the findings of a recent Pew poll, in which nearly six-in-ten respondentssupported bringing U.S. troops home ASAP. It’s a major hemorrhage of support. Just a few weeks ago, the war was merely unpopular, with 54 percent saying it wasn’t worth fighting.
The new low represents the crossing of a certain psychological and cultural threshold. It means the Afghanistan war is now at least as unpopular as the Iraq war was at the height of public ire. In fact, by some measures, the war to beat the Taliban — the guys who gave safe harbor to the 9/11 terrorists — is now more unpopular than the one to get rid of Saddam and his alleged stockpiles of WMDs.
Take a look at what Pollingreport.com tallies for the Iraq war. During Iraq’s darkest days, in 2006, CNN’s poll registered opposition to the war in the high 50s or low to mid 60s. It took until the week George W. Bush announced the surge, in January 2007, for opposition to reach 67 percent. At no time between 2006 and 2011 did the poll register 69 percent opposition.