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AFGHANISTAN


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #25 on: August 16, 2009, 12:57:18 pm »


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Newtown-Fella
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« Reply #26 on: August 16, 2009, 04:10:35 pm »

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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #27 on: August 20, 2009, 10:18:26 pm »


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #28 on: August 20, 2009, 10:18:54 pm »


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #29 on: August 20, 2009, 10:19:18 pm »


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #30 on: August 25, 2009, 11:22:53 pm »


Noble goals but are they enough?

By NAJIBULLAH LAFRAIE - The Dominion Post | 8:52AM - Tuesday, 25 August 2009

MEETING A NEED: Kiwi troops have made a difference in Bamyan province, including helping with a roading project. Kiwi Group Captain Greg Elliott is picture at the opening. — NZ Defence Force.

MEETING A NEED: Kiwi troops have made a difference in
Bamyan province, including helping with a roading project.
Kiwi Group Captain Greg Elliott is picture at the opening.
— NZ Defence Force.


Is New Zealand ready to fight in Afghanistan for 30 to 40 years?

That may sound an outlandish question, but the Government has opened the way for such a possibility by its decision to send the SAS troops to Afghanistan and withdraw the Kiwi PRT, or Provincial Reconstruction Team, from Bamyan.

Prime Minister John Key's refusal to rush in response to the United States' request for redeployment of SAS to Afghanistan was commendable.

He also wisely rejected the idea of Kiwi troops participating in "operational mentor and liaison teams", training the Afghan soldiers and joining them as mentors in their war against the Taleban.

It is difficult, however, to see any rationale for the decision other than the pressure from the US.

Mr Key has noted that this decision follows those by the previous Labour government to deploy the SAS to Afghanistan on three separate occasions.

Firstly, although those decisions were supported by the opposition National Party at the time, they were criticised by others, such as the Green Party. So the fact that Labour had decided to deploy the SAS to Afghanistan does not necessarily make it a right decision.

Secondly, the situation in Afghanistan has changed drastically since 2005, the last deployment under the previous government.

And thirdly, to Labour's credit, despite those deployments, their real commitment was to the Bamyan PRT, which has been doing a very good job and has been cited by some scholars as a model for other countries' PRTs to follow.

Mr Key also tries to justify the decision by referring to New Zealand's "direct and vital interest" in eradicating terrorism and promoting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

These are certainly noble goals and the Government's keenness to be part of the international efforts for achieving them is understandable and laudable.

However, the important questions are: Is the war in Afghanistan really helping to eradicate terrorism or is it further fanning its flames? and: Can New Zealand better promote peace and stability in Afghanistan by deploying the SAS or by strengthening its PRT?

As for the first question, there is no evidence that the Taleban were involved in al Qaeda's terrorist activities before September 11. After the removal of the Taleban from power, al Qaeda dispersed from Afghanistan, not only to the tribal areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan but to other parts of Pakistan and far beyond.

Some foreign volunteers may be fighting in the Taleban's ranks today, but their number is very small, and the various groups labelled as Taleban seem to be operating independently of al Qaeda.

The fact that the US advocates talks with the Taleban is due to the advice they received from Afghanistan experts to distinguish between the Taleban and al Qaeda and not to consider them one and the same.

Afghanistan Taleban see their "terrorist" activities as a war of liberation against the occupying infidel armies and their domestic stooges.

Scholarly research, such as that by American political scientist Robert Pape, finds foreign occupation as a common denominator in all suicide terrorist attacks — be it religious or secular. It will not be difficult to argue that the SAS' involvement in the war against the Taleban will contribute to the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan, rather than eradicating terrorism and al Qaeda.

It is noted by some knowledgeable observers that al Qaeda is now more an ideology than an organisation. Do we really think we can eradicate an ideology with guns and bombs?

As for promoting peace and stability, it is clear that there is no hope that the SAS will be able to achieve that. Even if there was a military solution to the Afghanistan problem, the number of troops needed to bring about peace and stability would be about 660,000, according to some experts on guerrilla warfare.

There is no doubt about the professionalism and high skills of our SAS troops, but they would be only a drop in a big and mostly empty bucket. They may eliminate some Taleban — and suffer some casualties themselves — but would that really contribute to peace and stability?

What is different about the Kiwi PRT, making it capable of promoting peace and stability, is that it is based in a specific locality. It may not make much difference to the overall picture, but it has made a difference to the Bamyan community.

When I met the governor of Bamyan province, Habiba Sorabi, in Auckland in February 2008, she was full of praise for the Kiwis in her province.

The decision by the Cabinet to increase the civilian aid to Bamyan is welcomed and will make a positive impact. Associating that with the withdrawal of the PRT is puzzling, however.

If this "exit strategy" is based on the hope that Afghanistan will not need foreign troops in five years, it is mere wishful thinking.

Apparently the Cabinet is not aware of the recent comments by Sir David Richards, the British general who has served as Nato commander in Afghanistan and has been appointed as chief of general staff of the British Army.

In an interview with The Times he predicted that bringing peace and stability to Afghanistan might take as long as 30 to 40 years.

This brings us to the question at the start of this piece. When New Zealand is unable to counter the pressure to send SAS troops to Afghanistan while 140 Kiwi soldiers are already there, would it be able to refuse such a request when there are no Kiwi troops?

If the answer is no, and certainly the Government's recent decision lends support to such an answer; then are we ready to fight in Afghanistan for another 30 to 40 years?

Najibullah Lafraie is a lecturer in politics at Otago University. He was minister of state for foreign affairs in Afghanistan after the downfall of the communist regime in 1992 and served in that position until the Taleban captured Kabul in September 1996.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/opinion/2783841/Noble-goals-but-are-they-enough
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Crusader
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« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2009, 04:59:32 pm »

Dear President Obama.

Prehaps you should learn from history that conventional warfare is not a winning strategy in Afghanistan. May I offer a different soloution to ensure success.

One very conveniently placed tactical nuclear bomb would ensure a fast exit.

 Grin
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #32 on: August 26, 2009, 08:39:56 pm »

Dear President Obama.

Prehaps you should learn from history that conventional warfare is not a winning strategy in Afghanistan. May I offer a different soloution to ensure success.

One very conveniently placed tactical nuclear bomb would ensure a fast exit.

 Grin


That would quite probably be followed by a total revolt in Pakistan with extremists overthrowing the government and taking charge of the country's nuclear arsenal, then distributing the warheads amongst various islamic despot groups who see the USA as the number one enemy. Wanna take the risk that situation wouldn't be the case? Would you be happy to see New York City or Los Angeles or Washington DC get turned into glass along with the terrible aftermath that would no doubt completely wreck our western way of life?
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #33 on: August 29, 2009, 10:52:38 pm »


From the Los Angeles Times

War dead

Los Angeles Times - Afghanistan | Sunday, August 23, 2009



The Defense Department last week identified the following American military personnel who died in Iraq and Afghanistan or at a U.S. military hospital:

Adam F. Benjamin, 34, of Garfield Heights, Ohio; gunnery sergeant, Marine Corps. Benjamin died Tuesday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Joshua M. Bernard, 21, of New Portland, Maine; lance corporal, Marine Corps. Bernard died Aug. 14 while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay.

Clayton P. Bowen, 29, of San Antonio; staff sergeant, Army. Bowen was one of two soldiers killed Tuesday in Paktika province, Afghanistan, when a roadside bomb detonated near their vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Ft. Richardson, Alaska.

Jose S.N. Crisostomo, 59, of Inarajan, Guam; first sergeant, Army. Crisostomo died Tuesday in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to International Security Assistance Force Kabul.

Leopold F. Damas, 26, of Floral Park, N.Y.; lance corporal, Marine Corps. Damas died Monday while supporting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Paul E. Dumont Jr., 23, of Williamsburg, Va.; specialist, Army. Dumont died Wednesday at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained from a non-combat-related incident. He was assigned to the 149th Transportation Company, 10th Transportation Battalion at Ft. Eustis, Va.

Matthew D. Hastings, 23, of Claremore, Okla.; specialist, Army. Hastings died Monday in Baghdad of injuries sustained from a non-combat-related incident. He was assigned to the 582nd Medical Logistics Company, 1st Medical Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command at Ft. Hood, Texas.

Justin R. Pellerin, 21, of Boscawen, N.H.; specialist, Army. Pellerin died Thursday in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Ft. Drum, N.Y.

Nicholas R. Roush, 22, of Middleville, Mich.; corporal, Army. Roush died Aug. 16 in Herat, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when a roadside bomb detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Psychological Operations Battalion, 4th Psychological Operations Group (Airborne) at Ft. Bragg, N.C.

William Z. VanOsdol, 23, of Pinson, Ala.; private first class, Army. Vanosdol died Wednesday at Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when enemy rocket fire struck his quarters. He was assigned to the 172nd Support Battalion in Schweinfurt, Germany.

Morris L. Walker, 23, of Chapel Hill, N.C.; private first class, Army. Walker was one of two soldiers killed Tuesday in Paktika province, Afghanistan, when a roadside bomb detonated near their vehicle. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division at Ft. Richardson, Alaska.

Brian M. Wolverton, 21, of Oak Park; private first class, Army. Wolverton died Thursday in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with indirect fire. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) at Ft. Drum, N.Y.

William B. Woods Jr., 31, of Chesapeake, Va.; sergeant first class, Army. Woods died Aug. 16 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl, Germany, of wounds suffered Aug. 14 when he was shot while on patrol in Ghanzi, Afghanistan. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) in Glen Arm, Md.


• Sources: Department of Defense and the Associated Press.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/afghanistan/la-me-wardead23-2009aug23,0,85128.story
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Sir Blodsnogger
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« Reply #34 on: August 30, 2009, 07:14:28 am »

I agree with those who do not want a nuclear war.
Therefore the only solution is 'conventional warfare' led by the military of the US of A our protectors.
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #35 on: August 31, 2009, 12:08:47 am »


From the Los Angeles Times

U.S. fears clock ticking on Afghanistan

As public support wanes, the Obama administration feels it needs
to deliver speedy progress in Afghanistan so that it can gain time
and backing for its long-term military strategy.


By PAUL RICHTER and JULIAN BARNES | Sunday, August 30, 2009

Lance Corporal Mark Chieffallo of Pittsburg arrives at an observation post on a peak above a village in Helmand province with over Marines. — Julie Jacobson/Associated Press/August 22, 2009.

Lance Corporal Mark Chieffallo of Pittsburg arrives at an observation post on a peak above a village
in Helmand province with over Marines. — Julie Jacobson/Associated Press/August 22, 2009.


Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, and Washington — The Obama administration is racing to demonstrate visible headway in the faltering war in Afghanistan, convinced it has only until next summer to slow a hemorrhage in U.S. support and win more time for the military and diplomatic strategy it hopes can rescue the 8-year-old effort.

But the challenge in Afghanistan is becoming more difficult in the face of gains by the Taliban, rising U.S. casualties, a weak Afghan government widely viewed as corrupt, and a sense among U.S. commanders that they must start the military effort largely from scratch nearly eight years after it began.

A turnaround is crucial because military strategists believe they will not be able to get the additional troops they feel they need in coming months if they fail to show that their new approach is working, U.S. officials and advisors say.

"Over the next 12 to 15 months, among the things you absolutely, positively have to do is persuade a skeptical American public that this can work, that you have a plan and a strategy that is feasible," said Stephen Biddle, a military expert who advises the U.S.-led command in Afghanistan.

A similarly urgent view was voiced by military and diplomatic officials who described the administration's goals and self-imposed deadline during recent interviews in Afghanistan and Washington. Most spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment publicly.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, in an interview last month, first pointed publicly to the need for progress by next year. Since then, the goal has spanned the administration's international diplomatic efforts, its aid program for the Afghan government and its combat strategy.

Unlike during the Bush administration years, when Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld clashed with other Cabinet members, particularly in the State Department, Gates' assessment appears to be shared by every other major Obama administration player. At the White House, State Department and elsewhere, officials agreed on the need for rapid progress in key areas.

Besides reversing Taliban advances and strengthening the central government, U.S. officials will strive to hold the NATO alliance intact while reshuffling deployments to consolidate gains, especially in the eastern part of the country, near the Pakistani border.

Administration goals in Afghanistan also include stemming government corruption, improving security forces, especially the police, and reducing violence through efforts such as wooing insurgents.

In part, the administration thinking reflects the growing impatience of liberal Democrats with the war. Senator Russell Feingold of Wisconsin has called for a "flexible timetable" for troop withdrawals, while House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin has warned of funding cuts next spring unless there is significant progress.

A senior administration official said Obey's comment was "a very important signal" to the White House.

Among military commanders, there has been no effort to sugarcoat conditions in Afghanistan.

"We need a fundamental new approach," said one officer, a senior advisor to Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the newly appointed top commander in Afghanistan.

McChrystal's initial assessment of Afghanistan to Pentagon officials is due soon, in a report expected to be made public in early September.

That report will probably avoid a troop recommendation, but by outlining McChrystal's view of what has gone wrong and his vision for fixing it, officers hope he can make Washington more receptive to a later request for more troops.

"We have to demonstrate we have a clear way ahead, matched with appropriate resources, that is making an impact on the ground," said the officer.

The proportion of Americans who believe it was a mistake to send troops to Afghanistan rose from about 25% in 2007 to 42% this year, according to Gallup surveys. A slight majority of Americans no longer believe the war is worth fighting, according to a Washington Post-ABC survey this month.

August has been the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. A U.S. fighter was killed Friday when his vehicle hit an explosive device in eastern Afghanistan, bringing the number of U.S. military deaths to 45 and exceeding the previous record, set in July. At least 732 U.S. service members have been killed in the Afghanistan war, compared with more than 4,300 killed in the Iraq conflict.

The faltering public support highlights another concern: the U.S. midterm elections next year. Democratic lawmakers fear they may become targets of Republican political attacks over the administration's handling of the war.

More troops?

In the face of those doubts and time pressures, top Obama administration officials such as James Jones, the national security advisor, have expressed skepticism about the prospects of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

President Obama has committed 21,000 additional troops this year, bringing the U.S. force to 68,000 by the end of the year. But military analysts said that the new strategy being developed in Kabul, the Afghan capital, will require still more troops.

Officers in Afghanistan consider much of the effort of the last eight years wasted, with too few troops deployed, many in the wrong regions and given the wrong orders.

For instance, in Iraq, the military spent between three and nine months on programs to roust militants from cities. In Afghanistan such clearing operations have lasted as little as three weeks.

"Clearing operations aren't about kicking down doors, or even going house to house once," said Kimberly Kagan, a strategist who has advised the military in both Iraq and Afghanistan. "They are about establishing presence and then building a trust relationship with the local population so that over time they feel they can provide information."

Shoring up NATO

Diplomatically, U.S. officials have begun a push to persuade NATO countries to send more forces to Afghanistan. And they are also trying to stave off departures by key allies.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with its 38,000 troops, is considered important both to combat efforts and to the international credibility of the war.

But Canada, which now oversees the southern regional command, is scheduled to pull out its combat troops in 2011, and the Dutch are scheduled to leave next year. A German opposition party, the Free Democrats, this month called for the removal of Germany's 4,500 troops. And in Britain, public support for the war is flagging.

Any departures mean more work for U.S. forces, but are also likely to raise questions at home about why Americans are shouldering so much of the burden of the conflict.

"We cannot afford to re-Americanize the war," said a senior administration official.

Fighting corruption

As the military is overhauling its priorities, so too is the State Department. Richard C. Holbrooke, the U.S. representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, has signaled a major push to reduce corruption in the government as soon as the presidential election results are known.

Senior officials are weighing a number of approaches, including, possibly, an international commission to probe corruption cases. The goal is not only to improve Afghans' low regard for their government, but also to reassure Americans that the $2.6 billion a month they are providing is well spent.

U.S. officials acknowledge that the task is not easy. Afghan President Hamid Karzai, expected to win the election, has built political support for his administration through alliances with a number of regional leaders and warlords who face allegations of corruption.

One is his running mate, former Defense Minister Mohammed "Marshal" Fahim, accused of involvement in drug trafficking. U.S. officials have already warned Karzai that they were not happy with the prospect of Fahim as vice president.

Improving the police

Key to both the diplomatic and military strategies is a rapid expansion of the Afghan security forces.

U.S. officials are particularly focused on stepping up police training programs, a key to long-term stability in the country.

Holbrooke describes police training as one of the toughest jobs the allies face, and predicts that success in Afghanistan will depend heavily on whether a skilled force can provide security. But NATO officials continue to report that Afghan police, woefully undertrained in many regions, can't be trusted with many of the most important assignments.

Choosing fights

Most military officers believe lasting progress will be years in the making. But they also realize that they only have a few months to add to the perception that they are making headway.

As a result, the military is likely to focus on select goals instead of trying to save the entire country at once. McChrystal has said he plans to focus efforts on securing population centers. That means, at least initially, Taliban outposts that do not threaten significant Afghan cities or villages will not be targeted.

"We have to do triage," Biddle said. "We do not have the resources to stabilize the whole country at once."


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-us-afghan30-2009aug30,0,5417839,full.story
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Yak
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« Reply #36 on: August 31, 2009, 01:02:29 pm »

I wonder which part of "we're not making progress - we're going backwards" is the difficult bit to understand?
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AnFaolchudubh
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« Reply #37 on: August 31, 2009, 01:25:18 pm »

I agree with those who do not want a nuclear war.
Therefore the only solution is 'conventional warfare' led by the military of the US of A our protectors.

The only one's they are protecting are themselves!
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Stupid people are not an endangered species so why are we protecting them
R. S. OhAllmurain
Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #38 on: September 02, 2009, 12:49:50 pm »


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #39 on: September 03, 2009, 01:20:59 pm »


The elections in Afghanistan have turned out to be a total farce.

Election fraud and corruption on a grand scale by a government that is a puppet of the USA.

Just like the 1960s and early 1970s when the US government propped up a corrupt puppet regime in South Vietnam.

A few decades on and nothing has really changed as far as the Yanks propping up corrupt foreign puppet governments.
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #40 on: September 03, 2009, 01:26:11 pm »


From The Times Online

Vote-rigging in Afghanistan leaves US scrambling to save election

US left to pick up poll pieces

By JAMES HIDER in Kabul and TIM REID in Washington D.C. | Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Don't Make It Suspicious

The sheer scale and brazen nature of vote rigging in Afghanistan’s elections has left the US Administration scrambling for a “least-worst” option, according to officials haunted by the spectre of a failed government in Kabul.

The widespread evidence of fraud followed a decision by Washington to remain completely neutral in the run-up to the election. It was a position that had been strongly argued by Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s “AfPak” envoy, who said any appearance of interference might backfire.

As President Karzai edges towards a first-round victory — preliminary results have him on 46 per cent, against 33 per cent for his nearest rival, Abdullah Abdullah — the White House faces the prospect of backing a man whose regime is seen widely as ineffective and corrupt and who may have stolen the election.

The Times understands that emergency discussions are taking place in Washington to come up with an alternative. One option is to try to engineer a second-round run-off in an attempt to give the election greater legitimacy.

However, when Mr Holbrooke suggested the idea to Mr Karzai over dinner in Kabul last week the Afghan leader reacted with fury. Some US officials think the account was deliberately leaked by the Karzai camp to make him look like the only man willing to stand up to Washington.

Western officials are trying to put a brave face on matters as the reports of vote rigging flood in. A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: “Speculating on turnout figures or likely results would be premature. The important thing is that the outcome of the elections represents the will of the Afghan people.”

But it is precisely this that is worrying the US. While most parties appear to have indulged in some ballot-box stuffing, intimidation or bribery, Mr Karzai’s supporters have appeared most culpable. Much of the vote rigging appears to have happened in the violence-ridden southern provinces, where heavy British losses in recent weeks failed to stop Taleban intimidation of voters, causing a low turnout.

Only 150 Afghan voters went to the polls in the former Taleban stronghold of Babaji, north of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand, when several thousand could have voted. Four of the ten troops who died in Operation Panther’s Claw, the offensive to clear out the Taleban before the election, were killed in or around Babaji.

One election observer told The Times yesterday that in Paktia province, about 100 miles south of Kabul, witnesses reported that groups of 40 to 50 men had been seen using the voting cards of women who had not dared venture out of their homes, and were casting hundreds of votes each. This was sometimes done in collusion with officials from the Independent Electoral Commission, he alleged.

The Election Complaints Committee is now considering almost 700 serious allegations and the number is rising daily. Last month The Times reported several instances, including one when more than 5,500 people had apparently cast their ballots in the first hour of the election on August 20.

Some fear that Afghanistan might revert to civil war if the election results are contested. Haroun Mir, a political analyst, said: “We can either move forward to democracy or back to the 1990s, where conflict is based on ethnicity.”

Dr Abdullah, a Tajik, has promised to protest against any fraudulent victory by his Pashtun rival. But Mr Mir said that if he did not concede defeat, “we move towards a crisis. Then what could prevent us from falling again into the same disaster that we witnessed in the 1990s?”

Bruce Reidel, chosen to head Mr Obama’s Afghanistan policy review, said: “If the Government of Afghanistan goes into free fall, all the troops in the world aren’t going to matter. If we don’t have a government that has some basis of legitimacy in the country, the best generals, the best strategy, isn’t going to help turn it around.

Phantom voters


  • More than 17 million Afghans registered to vote, although the number of eligible voters is estimated at 12 million to 15 million.

  • Abdul Hadee, the local election commission head in Helmand, told The Times on August 20 that fewer than 50,000 people had voted in the province; by August 23 he changed the figure to 110,000. In Garmsir his estimate rose from nought to 20,000.

  • The election commission is investigating claims that up to 70,000 illegal votes were cast in centres around the Haji Janat Gul polling centre east of Kabul.

  • Witness reports in Jawji Aryub district of Paktia province claim that some individual men voted with hundreds of women’s cards at female polling stations.

  • The Times arrived at Pul-e-Charki polling station an hour after it opened to find the station empty but 5,530 votes already cast.

  • Tribal leaders in Helmand told The Times in early August that Karzai supporters were buying voting cards from local residents.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6816462.ece
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #41 on: September 04, 2009, 08:44:49 pm »


From The Times Online

‘Deviant guards’ go wild in Kabul

US Embassy staff's drunken, naked hijinks put security at risk

By GILES WHITTELL in Washington D.C. | Thursday, September 03, 2009

Pictures of the embassy workers show some drinking alcohol; others are portrayed in nude or obscene poses.

Pictures of the embassy workers show some drinking alcohol; others are portrayed in nude or obscene poses.

US inspection after pictures of private security contractors in Kabul.

The images tell a story that no apology or investigation is likely to lay to rest: naked men drinking vodka and eating crisps from each others’ buttocks at the US Embassy in Kabul.

Others show naked men cavorting round fires or posing for group pictures, their faces blacked out but their bottles of liquor held aloft, in defiance of Muslim custom.

Yesterday the US State Department announced that it was sending a team of more than a dozen inspectors to Kabul to investigate the activities of private security contractors at their barracks in the Afghan capital.

Officials admit that security is in jeopardy at the embassy because of the poor performance of its 450 private guards. The release of pictures of degrading and abusive behaviour — including photographs of Afghan personnel apparently being goaded into drinking alcohol — threatens to inflict further damage on the image of US forces in Afghanistan at a critical moment in the eight-year conflict with the Taleban.

An e-mail that was sent to support the allegations, written by an anonymous guard in Kabul, said: “The pictures will help. You will see that they have a group of sexual predators, deviants running rampant over there. We are not Boy Scouts but there should be some expectation of professionalism in one’s leadership.”

A State Department spokesman admitted that “there were things going on in Kabul which we were not aware of but, frankly, we should have been aware of”.

His remarks came after 36 hours of frantic — and largely fruitless — damage control. He promised that “prompt and effective action” would follow the multiple investigations under way into the contract with ArmorGroup North America, and said that the US Ambassador to Afghanistan would conduct a meeting with staff to reassure them that everything was being done to guarantee their safety. The embassy has come under repeated attack from the Taleban in recent weeks.

Such reassurances will not satisfy critics who say that the incident has already been mishandled at the highest level. Eight official complaints about the ArmorGroup contract have been made within the State Department in the past two years, it emerged yesterday.

Claims that two thirds of the guards cannot speak English and are sleep-deprived because of staff shortages and 14-hour shifts were forwarded by a Senate subcommittee to the State Department in June. The $186 million (£114 million) contract, however, was renewed this summer.

“This is not Abu Ghraib,” a spokeswoman for the Project on Government Oversight group, which published the material, admitted. It was not normal partying either, she noted.

Guards wrote to the group saying that the images reflected a culture of fear and coercion in which employees refusing to go along with so-called hazing rituals were liable to be fired.

The outsourcing of such work is supposed to save taxpayers’ money, yet expatriate employees of companies such as ArmorGroup can earn three to four times the daily wages of US military personnel. Congressional concerns over the glut of private contractors in Afghanistan may force the Pentagon to re-examine proposals to increase the number of US combat troops there.

According to one report 14,000 extra troops could be deployed without increasing the total number of US military personnel deployed in the country — but only by outsourcing more security and support work to contractors.


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6819334.ece
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #42 on: September 04, 2009, 08:47:56 pm »


From The Times Online

US Embassy in Kabul bans alcohol after allegations of drunkenness

By JAMES HIDER in Kabul | Friday, September 04, 2009

Employees of ArmorGroup at the US Embassy in Kabul.

Employees of ArmorGroup at the US Embassy in Kabul.

The US Embassy in Kabul has banned alcohol from the camp where supervisors are alleged to have indulged in drunken hazings, nude drinking bouts and abuse of subordinates.

The move was a belated attempt at damage limitation after video footage and photographs emerged to back up allegations by security guards who said that the unruly and abusive behavior at Camp Sullivan was putting security at risk at the embassy, which has been attacked in the past by rockets and suicide bombers.

The footage and photographs have also tarnished the image of the US in Afghanistan, an Islamic republic that is observing Ramadan.

The decision to ban alcohol was made at a meeting yesterday by the US Ambassador, who is a former army general, and other senior embassy staff, after the State Department said that it was sending inspectors to Kabul to look into the allegations that the 450 guards, employed by ArmorGroup North America, had been behaving badly and performing poorly.

Video footage showed what looked more like a drunken stag night in Estonia than professional security guards who are responsible for hundreds of lives in one of the most hostile countries in the world. Other photographs show Afghan personnel being goaded into drinking alcohol, something that could put their security at risk in this Muslim country.

The e-mail described supervisors “peeing on people, eating potato chips [crisps] out of [buttock] cracks, broken doors after drunken brawls, threats and intimidation from those leaders participating in this activity”.

The conditions were alleged to have created a “climate of fear and coercion,” with anyone refusing to join in being mocked, humiliated or even fired.

Although the country is officially called the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Islamist Taleban are waging an insurgency in the south and east, alcohol is available in Kabul, a relatively calm city where expatriate parties are common and Western aid workers, diplomats and journalists wine and dine in garden restaurants, behind high walls and with security protection. Alcohol is shipped in by bonded container through Pakistan and is priced steeply.

The breach of discipline was exposed in an e-mail sent anonymously by a guard in Kabul, who described the situation as akin to the novel Lord of the Flies and called those in charge of the security outfit “a group of sexual predators”. The e-mail added that there were “deviants running rampant over there. We are not Boy Scouts but there should be some expectation of professionalism.”

The accusations have come at a damaging time in a country where many are suspicious of the Americans, whose planned troop surge to combat the Taleban is seen as an occupation.

The US and its international partners in Afghanistan are also struggling to come up with a solution to allegations of fraud in the election that secured a second term for President Karzai.


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6820942.ece
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #43 on: September 05, 2009, 04:57:56 pm »


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« Reply #44 on: September 07, 2009, 12:40:50 pm »

Thousands of civilians flee battles in NW Pakistan

By RIAZ KHAN, Associated Press Writer Riaz Khan, Associated Press Writer – 56 mins ago

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Thousands of civilians have fled Pakistan's northwest Khyber tribal region where the latest military offensive killed 33 more suspected militants Sunday.

Pakistan is under intense U.S. pressure to crack down on insurgents along its border with Afghanistan, especially the lawless tribal belt where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is suspected to be hiding. The U.S. believes militants use Pakistan's tribal areas as safe havens from which to plan attacks on Western troops across the frontier in Afghanistan.

Khyber is of particular concern because militants frequently attack trucks along the famed Khyber Pass, a main route for supplies destined for U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The military destroyed two training centers and 15 militant homes on Sunday, killing 33 alleged insurgents, a statement from paramilitary forces operating in the area said. Nine more were taken into custody and two people kidnapped by militants were recovered.

The region is largely off-limits to journalists, making it difficult to verify the information independently.

<more>


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090906/ap_on_re_as/as_pakistan;_ylt=AnzyCP3_c745QxWHY3Dp1tqs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTJ0bjJwczg5BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwOTA2L2FzX3Bha2lzdGFuBGNwb3MDNgRwb3MDMwRwdANob21lX2Nva2UEc2VjA3luX2hlYWRsaW5lX2xpc3QEc2xrA3Rob3VzYW5kc29mYw--
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Crusader
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« Reply #45 on: September 07, 2009, 01:35:20 pm »




There is a flaw with the drawing. I am guessing the soldiers are holding M16's. We carry IW Steyr's. If the cartoonist wants to take the piss out of us then I would expect him to take note of the finer points.  Wink
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« Reply #46 on: September 07, 2009, 04:26:54 pm »

 Roll Eyes



There is a flaw with the drawing. I am guessing the soldiers are holding M16's. We carry IW Steyr's. If the cartoonist wants to take the piss out of us then I would expect him to take note of the finer points.  Wink

Picky picky Roll Eyes
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R. S. OhAllmurain
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« Reply #47 on: September 08, 2009, 08:08:40 am »

Might well be. But all the drawing tells me is that they are American Soldiers wearing a NZ armband, therefore it doesn't make any sense.
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« Reply #48 on: September 13, 2009, 10:37:22 pm »


Little will be gained from this election

Afghanistan faces another five years of corruption, nepotism and weak government if Hamid Karzai is re-elected.

By NAJIBULLAH LAFRAIE - The Dominion Post | 8:17AM - Wednesday, 09 September 2009

Despite a low voter turnout and widespread violence, the  Afghanistan presidential election of August 20 was declared  "successful" by the UN special  representative for Afghanistan and various world leaders as well as President  Hamid Karzai and his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah.

Reports of massive fraud, however, soon led to a sombre mood. The Election Commission has already disqualified the results of several hundred polling stations, and more may follow. But even if there were no fraud, violence and intimidation, would the mere holding of an election be a success for the cause of peace, stability and democracy? The answer seems to be a resounding "no" for several reasons.

The election is not expected to lead to good governance. While the official declaration of the results will take several weeks, Mr Karzai is ahead of his rivals and will most probably be the winner.

His re-election will certainly mean another five years of corruption, nepotism and weak government. Even if Dr Abdullah were able to defeat Mr Karzai, however, there is not much hope he could do a better job.

He is part of the same elite that has dominated Afghan politics since the removal of the Taleban. Thus, the faces of the cabinet members and the "advisers" surrounding the president would change, but their attitudes and behaviours would mostly remain the same.

The election will not improve the government's legitimacy. Although in a society like Afghanistan legitimacy emanates from many other sources than an election, the first presidential election in October 2004 did bestow a measure of legitimacy to Mr Karzai.

More than 70 per cent of the registered voters went to the polling stations and about 55 per cent of them cast their votes for him. It was the first election in Afghanistan in several decades, and people were attracted not only by the novelty of the election but also because of their high hopes for the future.

Unfortunately, Mr Karzai soon squandered that goodwill by his incompetence and by acting in a way that made him appear an American stooge. That led to the erosion of his government's legitimacy, and it also brought the legitimacy of the whole voting process into question.

The percentage of the people participating in parliamentary elections only a year later dropped to 50 per cent. Thus, the low turnout in the recent election, at about 35 per cent, is as much due to the Taleban threat as to people's disillusionment with the political process.

The election is far from being an exercise in democracy, although it does provide Afghans with some experience in the democratic process.


Although there were some major differences in candidates' political platforms, policy positions do not seem to be a top priority for most of the voters.

Ethnicity and regionalism play a much more important role. That is why Mr Karzai has tried to co-opt prominent personalities (power brokers) from all major ethnic groups as well as from the north, the south, the east, the west and central Afghanistan.

The election is not expected to bring peace with the Taleban. On the contrary, it has increased the level of violence. The Taleban did not intensify their activities because they feared the election would legitimise the Karzai government — they knew very well that it would not. What they wanted to do was to challenge the US forces. As a Taleban commander told a Newsweek reporter: "We didn't take the election seriously until the Americans started arriving in larger numbers with more and better equipment than ever before." It seems that they have been successful in that challenge.

If the election contributes neither to peace nor to good governance, why waste over US$200 million holding it?

There seem to be two main reasons for that. The US and its allies need to show their public some "tangible achievement" to justify investing billions of dollars and hundreds of lives.

If there is no peace in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda and Taleban leaders are still at large, at least there is democracy. This is why there was so much insistence on the "success" of the election.

The other reason is that "election" is the logical consequence of the Bonn Agreement, on which the post-Taleban political setup is based.

The international community has committed itself to the flawed conference and flawed agreement of December 2001 in Bonn, Germany. Following the "Bonn process", there was no option but to hold the election. No-one seems to be contemplating any alternatives. Doing that, it is thought, would not only undermine the good work of the UN, but would also open a Pandora's box, further damaging the political stability and adding to the woes of the Western allies.

Only when the US, the United Nations, Nato and the European Union realise and admit their mistakes, and take actions to alter the course, could there be a chance for a real change in Afghanistan.

Najibullah Lafraie is a lecturer in politics at Otago University. He was minister of state for foreign affairs in Afghanistan after the fall of the communists in 1992, serving in that role until the Taleban captured Kabul in September 1996.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/opinion/2846303/Little-will-be-gained-from-this-election
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« Reply #49 on: September 21, 2009, 04:10:15 pm »


SAS in Afghanistan now — Key

By MARTIN KAY - The Dominion Post | 2:43PM - Monday, 21 September 2009

New Zealand SAS troops have arrived in Afghanistan, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed.

At a press conference this afternoon, Mr Key said the troops left for Afghanistan last Wednesday.

Seventy-one SAS troops will be based there, but a slightly larger number are there now to help set up operations.

It is the fourth SAS deployment to Afghanistan. Troops will be there for 18 months in three rotations.

The troops will be under the control of the Nato international security assistance force, but NZ Defence Force chief Lieutenant-General Jerry Mateparae retains full command of the task group through the SAS commander in the field.

Mr Key said the SAS would operate only in Afghanistan, and would not take part in any anti-terrorist actions in neighbouring Pakistan.

He would not confirm where in Afghanistan the troops were operating.

Labour previously criticised the Government for its decision to send the SAS back to Afghanistan.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/politics/2886802/SAS-in-Afghanistan-now-Key
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