Afghanistan: ‘Britain is backing the Taleban’

Haji Maulavi Mokhtar, of Lashkar Gah’s council of religious scholars, says the myth about Britain backing the Taleban, is embedded in the ‘popular consciousness’. Picture: Jeremy Kelly
Haji Maulavi Mokhtar, of Lashkar Gah’s council of religious scholars, says the myth about Britain backing the Taleban, is embedded in the ‘popular consciousness’. Picture: Jeremy Kelly

Afghanistan: ‘Britain is backing the Taleban’

By Jerome Starkey

DESPITE the grim toll of British soldiers’ bodies coming home in coffins, many Afghans believe British troops have been helping the Taleban.

“Of course we think they are supporting the Taleban,” said shopkeeper Saad Alikhi in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province. “When the international troops first came here, they cleaned up all the Taleban, all over Afghanistan, within a month. Now I find there’s a mine exploding in front of my shop.”

Security has plummeted across Helmand since UK troops arrived three years ago, and ordinary people have watched the Taleban grow stronger.

Many are struggling to understand why Britain, with all the buildings because there are mines everywhere,” said Colonel Abdul Ghafour, a former head of Helmand’s police. “Everywhere there are Taleban.”

Wild conspiracy theories are rife in Lashkar Gah’s bazaars, but the prevalence of the myth that Britain has been helping the insurgents is evidence of how far UK troops still have to go to convince local people they are there to help.

I travelled to Lashkar Gah, un-embedded, to find out what ordinary people thought about the spiralling violence. It was the first time a British journalist had visited Helmand without a military escort for almost a year. And the number of seemingly sane people who said they thought Britain was supporting the Taleban was astonishing.

Haji Maulavi Mokhtar, the head of Lashkar Gah’s council of religious scholars, admitted the myth was firmly embedded in the “popular consciousness”. He said: “Even among government officials, it has made them hopeless, they told me secretly.”

For three years, British troops have been over-stretched and under-resourced, battling to contain the Taleban in their spiritual and financial heartland.

Most of Britain’s fighting soldiers were stuck patrolling the ground outside their bases. When they did clear areas of the Taleban, they had to fight elsewhere and couldn’t stay.

Shopkeeper Abdul Karim told me: “In the past seven years, no-one has been punished for any crime. And the aid money which is coming into the country disappears. The taxes which the government collects just go into private pockets, not to the poor people you see here.

“If they do not punish corruption in the government bureaucracy and bring justice and punish criminals, I swear that in the next 50 years, they cannot bring security. Even in a hundred years.”

He had fond memories of Taleban rule. “The Taleban are the enemies of the international community, but they were good for the welfare of ordinary Afghans, for poor people like us,” he said. “In Taleban times, there was punishment for criminals. They didn’t mind executing people, or cutting off their hands, so from one lesson, a hundred others would learn.”

Police had closed the road in front of his shop because they had discovered two homemade bombs in yellow plastic jerry cans in a culvert nearby. They were wired to a mobile phone.

“We do not understand,” he said. “When the Americans were based here, when Sher Mohammed was the governor, the Taleban were not in Helmand.

Since that time, when the Americans withdrew, and new governors came, and the PRT ]provincial reconstruction team] was handed over to the British, the fighting got much worse.”

Sher Mohammed Akhundzada, who was governor of Helmand when the British troops first deployed in 2006, was removed at the insistence of Whitehall after he was linked to human rights abuses and implicated in the heroin trade

One former diplomat said the people in Helmand couldn’t believe the British were “making it worse by accident”. He said: “People there think the British are powerful, clever and cunning. They remember the legends of Great Gamesmen from the 19th century, and they assume if the Taleban are getting stronger, it must be part of the plan.”

However, the overwhelming impression is that people want justice and peace, and they don’t mind who brings it.

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Freedom Rider: American War Criminals

Freedom Rider: American War Criminals

war criminalsby BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
The United States could fill scores of International Criminal Courts with homegrown war criminals, but prefers to honor them as “statesmen” and “the best and the brightest.” The recently deceased Robert McNamara even indicted himself for crimes against Japanese civilians – but only as a mental exercise enveloped in real-world impunity. McNamara has had lots of company in the past forty years since he last served an American president…. Obama expanded war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, continuing a process begun by Carter and Brzezinski thirty years ago.”
Freedom Rider: American War Criminals
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
No matter how egregious their acts, or how big their lies, they are accepted as honored statesmen and women.”
Robert McNamara died last week at the age of 93. He served presidents Kennedy and Johnson as Secretary of Defense and bares responsibility for the escalation of the Vietnam War, which spread to the rest of Indochina and killed 3 million people.
McNamara was part of a very small, rarified group. They are the people who answer to presidents and prime ministers and princes. They are admired and lionized, even when they do great harm to humanity. Regardless of the awful consequences of their actions, they are called brilliant, the “best and the brightest.”
The McNamaras of the world are all criminals, mass killers. Yet because they kill on behalf of the state, they are punished only if they are unfortunate enough to be on the losing side. McNamara said so himself. His first brush with mass murder occurred during World War II when he served as an analyst under the tutelage of General Curtis LeMay. LeMay was responsible for the firebombing of Tokyo that incinerated 100,000 people. He and McNamara both acknowledged the horror of their act.
“LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”
“The Vietnam War did for a time quench America’s appetite for invasions and bloody conquests.”
McNamara was not the first, nor the last man to kill millions on behalf of his government. He has had lots of company in the past forty years since he last served an American president. The Vietnam War did for a time quench America’s appetite for invasions and bloody conquests. In the 1970s and 1980s our government settled for propping up favored tyrants like Saddam Hussein and helped to instigate their wars of aggression. It also beat up on small, vulnerable countries like Panama and Grenada that were no match for the United States war machine.
It wasn’t until the early 1990s when the first president Bush took office and turned former friend Saddam Hussein into a foe that the old fashioned methods were once again in vogue. Iraq was victimized not once but twice and turned into a killing field for eager foreign policy and defense experts.McNamara had plenty of successors who quite happily served as Secretary of Defense or State or as National Security Advisers who took up the charge of killing enormous numbers of people on behalf of Uncle Sam.
Some, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, sent money and arms into places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. Brzezinski committed his worst acts during the Carter administration but he has been recycled and is now advising president Obama some thirty years after he destroyed and destabilized those two countries.
“Iraq was turned into a killing field for eager foreign policy and defense experts.”
It doesn’t seem to matter what these people do or how badly they mess up. They are always forgiven and are always likely to turn up at a later date, a la Donald Rumsfeld. Others like Colin Powell are between foreign policy gigs but are still allowed to advise presidents and pontificate to ordinary citizens. No matter how egregious their acts, or how big their lies, they are accepted as honored statesmen and women and given a pass on their heinous behavior. Colin Powell may, like his partners in crime, turn up again at a president’s right hand at some future date.
There will be plenty of McNamaras in our present and our future as long as we turn a blind eye and give the government permission to kill. Obama managed to get support from millions of people who actually opposed the occupation of Iraq.He clearly states he isn’t interested in ending the occupation any sooner than Bush administration agreements will allow him to. Obama expanded war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, continuing a process begun by Carter and Brzezinski thirty years ago. The cracks in his support are beginning to surface, but he is still admired far more than he is scorned.
McNamara never faced the hangman’s noose or a firing squad, but he once was very nearly killed by a man who decided to take justice into his own hands. In 1972 an artist saw McNamara on a ferry traveling to Martha’s Vineyard and tried to throw him overboard.
“Obama expanded war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, continuing a process begun by Carter and Brzezinski thirty years ago.”
There are a lot of people in the corridors of power who we are justified in wanting to punish. Every American president is on that list. The Kissingers and Brzezinskis and Powells and Rumsfelds and Cheneys and Rices (Condi and Susan) all inspire thoughts of violence in any person who realizes the enormity of their criminality.
They should all have mug shots on file and wear orange jump suits in their homes behind bars. Rather than trying to toss them into the sea, we should first call them what they are. The day we refuse to believe their lies, and support their evil acts, will be the day that their awful reign will end.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com.

Obama to Demand Binding Timetable for Israel-PA Talks

Obama to Demand Binding Timetable for Israel-PA Talks

Readers Number : 51

16/07/2009 U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to announce a diplomatic plan soon for renewal of the so-called Middle East peace process.

A central feature of the plan, which will be presented to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, will be a binding timetable for negotiations on the core issues involved in a final resolution of the conflict.

It may also be precluded by an easing of pressure for a building freeze in the settlements on the part of the Unites States.

A senior Western diplomat closely involved in current contacts involving the U.S., Israel, the PA and so-called moderate Arab states noted that the American administration is currently developing the diplomatic plan but is only interested in pursuing it after the settlement issue and the matter of pro-Israel gestures from the Arab states are resolved.

The American plan will essentially restart negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians which have been deadlocked for over six months. The plan will not deal with all of the specific details of the negotiations and will not provide parameters for the resolution of core issues. Rather it will provide a framework for negotiations, how they will be conducted, follow-up mechanisms and especially the timetable for negotiations.

The senior diplomat said Obama is interested in bringing talks to a conclusion “on time” as a way of obligating the parties to make progress.

The diplomat also noted that the U.S. is now interested in reaching a compromise with Israel on the settlement issue as a prelude to presentation of the American plan, as the Americans have understood that Israel cannot agree to an absolute freeze in construction in the settlements.

U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell is therefore attempting to find a formula by which Israel will go as far as it can to stop settlement building.

The shift in the American position is also the product of the refusal on the part of the moderate Arab states, led by Saudi Arabia, to make significant normalization gestures toward Israel.
The compromise will also include an agreement on a joint database between Israel and the U.S. which will permit close tracking of settlement construction and verification that it is being kept to a minimum.

The plan, according to the senior diplomat, would also include other Israeli confidence-building measures toward the Palestinians. The diplomatic source cautioned that the Arab world’s total lack of trust in Netanyahu remained a major problem.

One-Armed Hillary Pounds War Drum On Iran

Clinton Warns Iran: US Will Protect its Friends

Readers Number : 108

16/07/2009 US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Wednesday gave Iran an ultimatum to accept the administration’s offer for engagement and join the international community or to “continue down a path of further isolation.” She urged Arab states to take immediate steps to improve their ties with Israel in order to bolster Mideast settlement hopes.

“We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now,” she said. “The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely.” In a wide-ranging policy address to the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton pledged that the U.S. will “not hesitate to defend our friends, our interests, and above all, our people vigorously and when necessary with the world’s strongest military.”

“Our willingness to talk is not a sign of weakness to be exploited,” she said. “This is not an option we seek nor is it a threat; it is a promise to all Americans.” Clinton said the U.S. administration was appalled by Iran’s post-election crackdown on protesters. She said the Iranian regime would face new penalties and increasing isolation over its nuclear program and “support for extremists” unless it took up the U.S. overture soon.

Clinton did not set a deadline, but President Barack Obama said last week that the U.S. wants to see a positive response by the fall or it will press for additional bilateral and United Nations sanctions.

Clinton set Iran’s leaders an unequivocal ultimatum: “… to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation.”

“Neither the president nor I have any illusions that dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind, and the prospects have certainly shifted in the weeks since the election,” Clinton said. “But we also understand the importance of trying to engage Iran,” she said.

Clinton defended the administration’s outreach to Iran and other past adversaries, such as Syria.

Clinton also called on Arab states to live up to their stated support of a Saudi proposal for a comprehensive “Arab-Israeli peace” by supporting the weak Palestinian Authority and taking steps to improve relations with Israel.

“Direct talks provide the best vehicle for presenting and explaining that choice,” Clinton said. “That is why we offered Iran’s leaders an unmistakable opportunity: Iran does not have a right to nuclear military capacity, and we’re determined to prevent that. But it does have a right to civil nuclear power if it reestablishes the confidence of the international community that it will use its programs exclusively for peaceful purposes.”

“Iran can become a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfills its obligations on human rights. The choice is clear. We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely,” she said.

As for Syria, Clinton said the US views it as a critical player in the Middle East, and added that Washington intends to restore an ambassador to Damascus. However, she said, Syria will be judged by its actions, not its rhetoric.

More Israeli Warships Transit Suez Canal In Possible Preparations for Attack on Iran

“Israeli Warships in Suez Canal Prepare for Attack on Iran”

Batoul Wehbe Readers Number : 257

16/07/2009 Israel’s recent deployment of warships across the Red Sea should be seen as serious preparation for an attack on Iran, an Israeli defense official told the Times of London on Thursday. It came before long-range exercises by the Israeli air force in America later this month and the test of a missile defense shield at a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean.

“This is preparation that should be taken seriously. Israel is investing time in preparing itself for the complexity of an attack on Iran. These maneuvers are a message to Iran that Israel will follow up on its threats,” the official was quoted as saying.

Earlier this week, two Israel Navy gunboats openly sailed through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea.
The ships that passed through the Suez Canal on Tuesday were two Sa’ar 5 gunboats, the Hanit and the Eilat. This follows a similar incident in late June, when an Israeli Dolphin-class submarine passed through the canal, later returning the same way.

It is believed that Israel’s missile-equipped submarines, and its fleet of advanced aircraft, could be used to strike at in excess of a dozen nuclear-related targets more than 800 miles from Israel.

The move, apparently coordinated with Egypt, is seen as a warning message to Iran that Israeli naval vessels could reach waters off Iran in a matter of days without need to refuel through the red sea.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit confirmed that his Government explicitly allowed passage of Israeli vessels, and an Israeli admiral said that the drills were “run regularly with the full co-operation of the Egyptians.”

An Israeli diplomat told the Times that Israel has been bolstering its ties with certain Arab nations just as wary of the “Iranian nuclear threat”. In particular, the diplomat cited a “shared mutual distrust of Iran” between Israel and Egypt.

PALESTINIAN LAND, SETTLEMENT FREEZE; BUT IRAN STRIKE!
Israel will also soon test an Arrow interceptor missile on a US missile range in the Pacific Ocean. The system is designed to “defend Israel from ballistic missile attacks by Iran and Syria”. Lieutenant-General Patrick O’Reilly, the director of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency, said that Israel would test against a target with a range of more than 630 miles (1,000km) — too long for previous Arrow test sites in the eastern Mediterranean.

The Israeli air force, meanwhile, will send F16C fighter jets to participate in exercises at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada this month. Israeli C130 Hercules transport aircraft will also compete in the Rodeo 2009 competition at McChord Air Force base in Washington.

“It is not by chance that Israel is drilling long-range maneuvers in a public way. This is not a secret operation. This is something that has been published and which will showcase Israel’s abilities,” said an Israeli defense official.

He added that in the past, Israel had run a number of covert long-range drills. A year ago, Israeli jets flew over Greece in one such drill, while in May, reports surfaced that Israeli air force aircraft were staging exercises over Gibraltar. An Israeli attack on a weapons convoy in Sudan bound for resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip earlier this year was also seen as a rehearsal for hitting moving convoys.

The exercises come at a time when Western diplomats are offering support for an Israeli strike on Iran in return for Israeli concessions on the formation of a Palestinian state.

If agreed it would make an Israeli strike on Iran realistic “within the year” Time quoted one British official.

According to the paper, diplomats said that Israel had offered concessions on settlement policy, Palestinian land claims and issues with neighboring Arab states, to facilitate a possible strike on Iran. “Israel has chosen to place the Iranian threat over its settlements,” said a senior European diplomat.

Omar’s Immunity Reveals America’s True Intentions

[The following article asks the excellent question: “Why are the real Taliban leadership in Balochistan immune from American attacks?”  The author jumps to the wrong conclusion, that they are safe because Pakistan is protecting them.  As we have learned from the continuing Predator attacks elsewhere in the tribal region, the Pakistani Army can only do what America lets them do.  If the Taliban are immune from attack (other than verbal attacks for show), then it is because the United States wants them to be protected.  The US and India hope to make peace with the Balochs, so they cannot risk bombing-away their goodwill, so matter what the hacks at the NYTimes say.]

AFGHAN SLAUGHTER GOES ON WITH PAKISTAN ARMY BACKING

By Arthur Kent, skyreporter.com
July 12, 2009 – As frontline forces of the American-led coalition suffer record losses in Afghanistan, their political masters continue to duck responsibility for failing to put pressure on the leadership of the Afghan Taliban where it matters most, their safe havens in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, bordering the battlefields of Helmand and Kandahar.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has spoken of a “patriotic duty” to defend the U.K. from terrorism, despite the killing by Taliban forces of 15 British soldiers in ten days. But he and other Western leaders shrink from addressing the greatest perversity of the war, namely that the Afghan Taliban’s haunts in Baluchistan seem immune from assault, by either political or military means.

As more and more British, Canadian and U.S. soldiers lay down their lives, their enemy’s stronghold just across the Pakistani border is a comparative oasis of calm and security – at least for the Taliban leadership.

Further to the north and east, the C.I.A.’s drones rain Hellfire missiles on Pakistan’s home-grown Talib militants and their al Qaeda allies, who the Pakistan government has declared fair game in its own domestic war against terrorism.

It’s a different story for the Afghan Taliban leadership council – the Quetta shura led by Mullah Mohammed Omar, so named for its headquarters in and around Baluchistan’s capital city.

All available evidence shows that Omar’s council, the head of the Taliban snake, continues to enjoy sanctuary and support from elements of the Pakistan Army. In return, Omar is reportedly aiding Pakistan’s ruthless crackdown on Baluch nationalists.

The extent of this clandestine alliance is such that neither missiles nor political missives from the U.S.-led coalition have put so much as a dent in the Afghan Taliban’s war effort. To date, the coalition’s covert and conventional forces have been constrained by their political masters from mounting a single offensive action against Omar’s shura, or his fighters’ training camps, weapons dumps and transit points in Baluchistan.

Pakistan is determined, as has been the case since the early 1990’s, to maintain Mullah Omar’s guerrillas as a proxy force in Afghanistan, a tool to destabilize a potential regional competitor and ally of the dreaded arch-enemy, India.

The West’s disgraceful record in countering this tendency condemns coalition forces to a cruel attrition. For eight years, Gordon Brown and his predecessor, Tony Blair, together with other NATO leaders, stood by while the Bush administration pumped $2 billion per year into the Pakistan Army’s coffers.

This failed attempt to purchase Pakistan’s support against the Taliban was grossly counter-productive, as evidenced by the mounting intensity of the insurgencies in both countries.

Absurdly, Brown and his foreign minister have this weekend appealed to the British public to support the critically-flawed Afghan mission as a means to prevent further terrorist outrages in Britain, such as the July 7, 2005 attack on London’s tube and buses. That the 7/7 bombings had roots in Pakistan, not Afghanistan, goes unmentioned.

Equally dubious is the notion, now being floated through Whitehall, that another 2,000 British troops should be dispatched to the fray in Helmand. Clearly, as was the case in the parliamentary expenses melodrama, London’s leading suits are hard pressed to do the math.

History records the tough numbers of the Great Game. The Soviet Army, as it was coming undone in Afghanistan twenty years ago, had 30,000 troops manning the posts, batteries and fire bases that formed Kabul province’s three concentric security rings.

With fewer than half that deployment, U.S.-led NATO forces are trying to penetrate and secure the entire Helmand river valley, an area at least ten times the size of the Red Army’s safety zone around the Afghan capital.

The West’s politicians and generals can protest all they wish about “real progress” in the Afghan campaign. In reality, it is delusion, deception and death that stalk the tortured landscape, foreshadowing defeat.

The Daily Mail asks: Did MI5 kill the UK Government weapons expert Dr David Kelly?

The Daily Mail asks: Did MI5 kill the UK Government weapons expert Dr David Kelly?


The UK’s Daily Mail, on 16 July 2009, asks Did MI5 kill the UK Government weapons expert Dr David Kelly?

Here are some of the points made in the Mail article:

1. The UK government produced a dossier claiming that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction which could be activated in 45 minutes.

Dr David Kelly told a journalist that the dossier had been ‘sexed up’.

2. On 17 July 2003, Dr Kelly was found dead half a mile from his family home in Oxfordshire in the UK.

An unopened letter from someone in the UK government lay on the desk in his study.

Reportedly, the letter was designed to silence him.

Reportedly, Kelly’s bosses had discovered that he was preparing to write a book about his work.

3. A new film, Anthrax War, asserts that Dr Kelly had spent hours writing a book.

The film, by New York-based Bob Coen, claims that Dr Kelly, head of biological defence at the military research establishment at Porton Down, was the brains behind much of the West’s germ warfare programmes.

Coen says Kelly had links to illegal human experiments on British servicemen at Porton Down, which led to an investigation by Wiltshire Police.

Police officers recommended charges against some scientists, but dropped this idea a few days after Kelly was found dead.

4. Computers in Kelly’s house linked him to UK and foreign spy agencies, including Mossad.

Since 1995, Kelly had worked as an advisor for Mossad, with the agreement of the UK government.

Kelly

5. Twelve other top micro-biologists linked with germ warfare research have died in the past decade.

Five of them were Russians who were investigating claims that the Israelis were working on viruses to target Arabs.

The plane taking them from Tel Aviv to Siberia was shot down on October 2001 by an ‘off-course’ Ukrainian missile.

Dr Kelly knew the victims.

Five weeks later, Dr Benito Que, an infectious diseas expert known to Dr Kelly, died suddenly in Miami.

He had been investigating how a virus like HIV could be genetically engineered into a biological weapon.

His family say he had been struck on the head.

Ten days later, Dr Don Wiley, a top microbiologists and friend of Dr Kelly, disappeared.

He had a contract to make a vaccine against the killer Ebola fever and other such germs.

A month later his body was found and there was evidence of severe head injuries. His death was ruled ‘accidental’.

6. At 3.30 pm, Dr Kelly went out for a walk.

At 2.30 pm, a senior policeman had sat down at his computer at Police headquarters in Oxfordshire.

He had begun to produce a file entitled Operation Mason, which was about the search for Dr Kelly.

Dr Kelly’s body was found at 8.30am by volunteer searchers.

At 8am, three officers from MI5’s Technical Assessment Unit were at his house.