Daesh militants, who were arrested by Afghan security personal, are seen at the Afghan police headquarters in Jalalabad, east of Kabul, May 9, 2016
Russia has expressed concerns about growing militancy in Afghanistan, warning that the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group is expanding its foothold in the conflict-ridden Asian country.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued the warning in a commentary released on Saturday ahead of a visit by Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani to Moscow due on February 7.
“We watch closely the situation with security in Afghanistan, and we are concerned about the growing combat and terrorist activities of the armed opposition,” the ministry said.
It further noted that “great concerns are caused by the spread of influence” of Daesh.
The ministry also highlighted the importance of relations between Moscow and Kabul in the fields of technology and military and voiced Russia’s support for the Afghan reconciliation process.
“We consider as important directions the continuing military-technical cooperation with Kabul, support in improvement of combat capacity of the Afghan national security forces, as well as training of the republic’s military and police personnel by Russian respective authorities,” it added.
Afghanistan has been torn apart by years of Taliban-led militancy and the 2001 invasion of the US and its allies.
Recently, the country has seen a surge in terrorist attacks despite the presence of thousands of foreign boots on the ground.
Taking advantage of the chaos, Daesh is attempting to expand its presence in some Afghan provinces, particularly Nangarhar.
“Maulvi Abdul Zahir Haqqani “, the head of Hajj and Religious Affairs of Nangarhar province, has met Mr. “Gulab Mangal”, Nangarhar Governor and advisor to the president Ashraf Ghani, as the head of a delegation of six city of Shinwari’s scholars.
In the meeting, “Abdul Zahir Haqqani” mentioned ISIS terrorist activities in these cities, and said: “Since ISIS has begun its activities in these areas, 36 Scholars and imams of mosques were killed. This made scholars to give up imamate of mosques and religious and cultural activities. He asked the government to take serious actions against ISIL Takfiri groups.”
Pashto Radio asked the opinion of “Haji Ghalib Mujahid”, who is the governor of the city “Bati Kot” and just survived from a terrorist attack, about the subject via phone. In his response, he confirmed the statements of “Maulvi Abdul Zahir Haqqani” and said when he was the governor of “Achin”, he had witnessed the killings of scholars and imams of mosques in the city.
“ISIS, who follows the Wahhabi ideology, only considers the followers of the Wahhabi thinking as Muslims, and other sect as infidels. It is been two years that on one hand, Wahhabi Takfiri groups demand Muslims of the region to convert “the Wahhabi creed” by promoting the perverted ideology of Wahhabism. On the other hand, they try to intimidate people even scholars by force, violence and committing crimes. They force people to accept Wahhabism,” the Afghan government officials added.
The governor of “Bati Kot” noted there is financial and military aid to Wahhabi groups. He stated some Arabic countries, referred to Saudi Arabia, have invested promoting Wahhabism since the war against the Soviets in the eighties, and this trend still continues. Nevertheless, according to recent credible reports there is a lot of effort to promote and institutionalize Wahhabi Takfiri thinking in Afghanistan more than ever. Although, the history of promoting Wahhabism in Afghanistan and Pakistan backed years ago, but it got too intense during the Soviets-Afghan war in the eighties, in the guise of helping the Afghan Mujahideen by U.S., Britain and Pakistani intelligence agencies from Saudi Arabia.
Thousands of religious schools were established in Pakistan by U.S. coordinating and Saudi Arabia’s funding and full permission of Islamabad government. It is been about 40 years that Wahhabism is rooted in Pakistan and many Sunni mosques was occupied by Wahhabis, and most of the imams of mosques in the country converted to the Wahhabi cult with Saudi’s oil money. Takfiri groups were established under the title “Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi”. Since the establishment of PPS, they shed Muslims blood, especially Shiites easily. It is north worthy, since 2007 Takfiri extremist groups didn’t have mercy on Pakistani and Afghan Sunnis, too.
A few days after Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia announced their intention to withdraw from the International Criminal Court an article appeared in the American journal, Foreign Policy, stating that the ICC is considering investigating allegations of war crimes that may have been committed in Afghanistan. The allegations are spread among the Afghan resistance to the western invasion and occupation of the country, the puppet government installed by the United States, and the United States itself.
This has caused some surprise among observers of the ICC who have correctly criticised the tribunal as an asset of the US and its allies since it has only gone after certain African leaders who stand in the way of western interests while providing complete immunity to other leaders who are useful agents of those interests. Some of have accused it of racism, a charge difficult to refute but misses the point that the objective is the projection of imperial power.
The United States, though not a member of the ICC, has established its dominating influence in the staff of the tribunal so that it and its Canadian and EU allies effectively control its machinery, most importantly the prosecution, the administration and the selection of judges. It is because of this influence that the ICC falsely accused Muammar Gadhafi with crimes in 2011 thereby helping it excuse the NATO aggression against Libya and also provoking and excusing his murder.
The ICC is meant to prevent war crimes and war but it has been used in fact to overthrow governments and throw their leaders in prison, or in the tragic case of Muammar Gadhafi, provoke war and excuse murder; just as the ICTY in The Hague was used to justify the NATO aggression against Yugoslavia and the arrest and death in NATO hands of President Milosevic. The ICC continues in that criminal tradition.
But is this announcement a surprise, a hopeful step that the ICC may live up to its claims? The answer is a clear no. The timing of the announcement and its delivery are interesting. It comes within a few days of the disastrous blows to its prestige and credibility with the withdrawal of the African countries. Something needed to be done to try to restore some credibility, some appearance of impartiality; and that is what the announcement does, or tries to do because it will soon be realised that it is a cheap trick, a charade, designed to save the ICC so that the United States and its allies can continue to use it as they see fit, as a means of control, not justice.
It is not a surprise in the first place because the ICC made public its Report on Preliminary Examination Activities on November 12, 2015. In that report there is a section on Afghanistan setting out more or less the contents in the Foreign Policy Report. It makes interesting reading and starts off with a lie that indicates where we can expect this investigation to go.
On page 26 the document states,
“After the attacks of 11 September 2001, in Washington D.C. and New York City, a United States-led coalition launched air strikes and ground operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban, suspected of harbouring Osama Bin Laden. The Taliban were ousted from power by the end of the year. In December 2001, under the auspices of the UN, an interim governing authority was established in Afghanistan. “
This is a lie because the Taliban government, a government installed by the United States in the first place, was not “harbouring” Bin Laden. They stated to the US government, when it demanded they turn him over in 2001, that he was in the country but by law they were required to demand that the US provide them with evidence that he was involved in the events in New York. The US flatly refused to provide any evidence to form the basis of a legal extradition so the Afghanistan government refused to hand him over. Any country would have been required by law to do the same. Instead of a file containing evidence they received cruise missiles and exploding bombs. Bin Laden of course was just the excuse, not the reason for the war. So for the ICC to state a lie that serves the narrative of the United States and then to continue with the joke that instead of the US overthrowing the Afghan government, (they were “ousted from power” they say, but how and by who is not said), they in fact helped to reestablish government, with the help of the peace loving UN, is to give the United States immunity from prosecution of the ultimate crime of aggression against Afghanistan that still continues today and all the war crimes that have flowed from that aggression. They bear the ultimate responsibility. But since the ICC sees fit to rewrite history in favour of the United States in its investigation of the war how can we expect it to ever prosecute that nation for the crimes it has committed?
Most of the document discusses allegations of crimes and some attention is paid to allegations against US forces and Afghan government forces but most of it is concerned with crimes of the Taliban. Where it discusses war crimes allegedly committed by the United States it points out that the US is investigating those allegations and has taken disciplinary action against those responsible in hundreds of cases. The question then is whether the United States is properly investigating and then prosecuting those cases in its military discipline system. For if the United States were in fact properly investigating and actively prosecuting soldiers and officials then the ICC cannot step into the situation. Only if this is not being done and cases appear to be sham cases can the ICC claim jurisdiction. This writer cannot imagine the United States ever accepting a finding from the ICC that it is not acting correctly, and having regard to its rewriting of history, I do not expect it to make such a finding.
That this is a public relations exercise is supported by the source of the article, Foreign Policy, which is owned by the Washington Post; and the writer, David Bosco, who lectures on international law and the ICC at the Washington College of Law, in Washington D.C. has an interesting career. After graduating from Harvard he worked on “refugee issues” in Bosnia, first for an “ngo” then the UN and NATO and interned at NATO Military Headquarters in Belgium, then went to the State Department, and has largely been an editor at the journal and law lecturer ever since. You can understand my doubts of the bone fides of their intentions when you know that.
Why is it that this information had to come from this source and not the ICC itself? The answer is that if it came from the ICC no one would believe it. Its credibility is in tatters. It would look like the face-saving action it is. So it had to be made to look like a revelation of something daring that the ICC was reluctant to make it public, a bold step for mankind, all hush hush, so the US cannot get in the way of justice. But instead of a revelation it looks like a manipulation, a propaganda action to support the ICC as a tool of domination by the west against the rest of the world. And so, the game continues.
The attack targeted the home of a suspected ‘Taliban commander.’
In this July, 2008 photo, a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper takes off from Joint Base Balad, Iraq
A US drone strike has killed and wounded a number of civilians in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province today, though exact numbers are as yet unclear, with officials claiming that the home at the center of the attack was owned by a suspected Taliban commander.
The putative commander does not appear to have been among the casualties, though at least four people were killed within the house, and the blast also wounded a number of people in the surrounding area. At least seven children and five women are in the hospital for treatment related to the strike.
Official Afghan statements only labeled the 12 wounded as civilians, and everyone else was not a civilian. Locals offered varying estimates, and the Taliban claimed two civilians killed and over 30 wounded in their own report on the attack.
The Nangarhar Province has been heavily targeted by US warplanes over the past several months, though generally trying to tamp down a growing ISIS faction therein. The Taliban has had a presence in Nangarhar throughout the US occupation, as indeed they have almost everywhere along the Pakistan border.
Last week marked the fifteenth anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan, the longest war in US history. There weren’t any victory parades or photo-ops with Afghanistan’s post-liberation leaders. That is because the war is ongoing. In fact, 15 years after launching a war against Afghanistan’s Taliban government in retaliation for an attack by Saudi-backed al-Qaeda, the US-backed forces are steadily losing territory back to the Taliban.
What President Obama called “the good war” before took office in 2008, has become the “forgotten war” some eight years later. How many Americans know that we still have nearly 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan? Do any Americans know that the Taliban was never defeated, but now holds more ground in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001? Do they know the Taliban overran the provincial capital of Kunduz last week for a second time in a year and they threaten several other provincial capitals?
Do Americans know that we are still wasting billions on “reconstruction” and other projects in Afghanistan that are, at best, boondoggles? According to a recent audit by the independent US government body overseeing Afghan reconstruction, half a billion dollars was wasted on a contract for a US company to maintain Afghan military vehicles. The contractor “fail[ed] to meet program objectives,” the audit found. Of course they still got paid, like thousands of others getting rich off of this failed war.
Do Americans know that their government has spent at least $60 billion to train and equip Afghan security forces, yet these forces are still not capable of fighting on their own against the Taliban? We recently learned that an unknown but not insignificant number of those troops brought to the US for training have deserted and are living illegally somewhere in the US. In the recent Taliban attack on Kunduz, it was reported that thousands of Afghan security personnel fled without firing a shot.
According to a recent study by Brown University, the direct costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars thus far are nearly five trillion dollars. The indirect costs are virtually incalculable.
Perhaps Afghanistan is the “forgotten war” because to mention it would reveal how schizophrenic is US foreign policy. After all, we have been fighting for 15 years in Afghanistan in the name of defeating al-Qaeda, while we are directly and indirectly assisting a franchise of al-Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government. How many Americans would applaud such a foreign policy? If they only knew, but thanks to a media only interested in promoting Washington’s propaganda, far too many Americans don’t know.
I have written several of these columns on the various anniversaries of the Afghan (and Iraq) wars, pointing out that the wars are ongoing and that the result of the wars has been less stable countries, a less stable region, a devastated local population, and an increasing probability of more blowback. I would be very happy to never have to write one of these again. We should just march home.
‘There’s no clear-cut moment the war is launched, it just gradually expands,’ noted one media analyst, who also noted that the mainstream media has largely ignored the expansion of the war on ISIS.
A photo from 2011 shows buildings ravaged by fighting in Sirte, Libya. Islamic State militants have controlled the city since August 2015. The U.S. military has announced ongoing airstrikes against targets in Sirte, and other Libyan cities
WASHINGTON — With little fanfare and minimal media attention, the United States recently began bombing yet another country, further expanding a fight against terrorism that has no clear end in sight.
Special forces ground troops, deployed by the U.S. and its Western allies, are also present in Libya. On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that a “small number” of U.S. and British ground forces are present in Libya, where they are coordinating air strikes and assisting the GNA troops.
Libya is now the fourth front in the American war against Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly known in the West as ISIS or ISIL), joining bombing campaigns and ground troops in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The expansion to Libya has been planned for months, according to The Intercept, and has no end in site. According to Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook, bombing “would continue as long as [the Libyan government] is requesting them,” and the campaign has no “end point at this particular moment in time.”
“The U.S. has long planned to spread its military campaign to Libya,” reported The Intercept’s Alex Emmons on Aug. 1. “In January, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters that the U.S. was preparing to take ‘decisive military action against ISIL’ in Libya.”
“The administration has argued that the 2001 AUMF applies to the war against ISIS, even though ISIS and al Qaeda are sworn enemies. Several members of Congress, including Hillary Clinton’s running mate Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., have argued that the administration should seek congressional authorization to continue its war against ISIS. Such authorizations for the conflict have failed to gain traction in a divided Congress.”
But, he added, it’s not the first time the U.S. has ignored Congress when it comes to Libya:
“In 2011, the U.S. continued its Libyan campaign even after Congress rejected a resolution to authorize it. The White House even delivered a report to Congress that argued that the U.S.-led bombing campaign did not count as ‘hostilities’ under the War Powers Resolution. That resolution limits unauthorized conflicts to 180 days.”
The United States’ apparently endless “War on Terror” seems to have become so commonplace that the media hardly responds when it expands to new fronts, noted Adam H. Johnson, a media analyst from Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting.
“While the air strikes themselves were reported by most major outlets, they were done so in a matter-of-fact way, and only graced the front pages of major American newspapers for one day,” Johnson wrote in The Nation on Aug. 5. “The New York Times didn’t even find the news important enough to give it a front-page headline, instead relegating it to a quick blurb at the far-bottom corner of the page.”
Even alternative media seemed too distracted by the election to take much notice, Johnson added.
Johnson argued that, under President Barack Obama, the expansion of conflict has been made to seem “entirely banal” under what he calls the “frog in boiling water” method of warfare. “There’s no clear-cut moment the war is launched, it just gradually expands, and because media are driven by Hollywood narratives, they are victims to the absence of a clear first act,” he wrote.
He warned that, without public outcry, Obama’s wars are likely to continue to expand through the end of his presidency and beyond.
“This is the new normal, and it’s a new normal the press codifies every time it treats Obama’s ever-expanding war as dull and barely newsworthy,” Johnson concluded.
Afghanistan is experiencing political, social and security instability, as the Taliban movement and other radical extremist organizations, such as Daesh, which is prohibited in many countries, including Russia, continue staging attacks against civilian and government targets.
The Afghan wing of Daesh was formed in 2015, when infighting between Taliban factions broke out.
The “War on Drugs” and the “War on Terror” are more intertwined than that media and our elected officials would like us to think.
And this became full front and center when the U.S.-led global crusades overlapped in Afghanistan, leaving in their wake a legacy of death, addiction and government corruption tainting Afghan and American soil.
In the U.S., the War in Afghanistan is among the major contributing factors to the country’s devastating heroin epidemic.
Over 10,000 people in America died of heroin-related overdoses in 2014 alone– an epidemic fuelled partly by the low cost and availability of one of the world’s most addictive, and most deadly, drugs.
Despite our promises to eradicate the black market, the U.S. actually enables the illegal drug trade. As journalist Abby Martin writes, the U.S. government has had a long history of facilitating the global drug trade: In the 1950s, it allowed opium to be moved, processed and trafficked throughout the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia while it trained Taiwanese troops to fight Communist China. In the 80s, the CIA provided logistical and financial support to anti-Communist Contras in Nicaragua who were also known international drug traffickers.
And in 2012, a Mexican government official claimed that rather than fighting drug traffickers, the CIA and other international security forces are actually trying to “manage the drug trade.”
“It’s like pest control companies, they only control,” Guillermo Terrazas Villanueva, the Chihuahua spokesman, told Al Jazeera. “If you finish off the pests, you are out of a job. If they finish the drug business, they finish their jobs.”
While there is no conclusive proof that the CIA is physically running opium out of Afghanistan, Martin notes:
“[I]t’s hard to believe that a region under full US military occupation – with guard posts and surveillance drones monitoring the mountains of Tora Bora – aren’t able to track supply routes of opium exported from the country’s various poppy farms (you know, the ones the US military are guarding).”
Ironically, it was the U.S. mission to obliterate the Taliban in the “War on Terror” that turned Afghanistan into a “narco state.”
Prior to the War in Afghanistan, the Taliban actually offered subsidies to farmers to grow food crops not drugs.
In the summer of 2000, Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar announced a total ban on the cultivation of opium poppy, the plant from which heroin is made. Those caught planting poppies in Taliban-controlled parts of the country were beaten and marched through villages with motor oil on their faces.
The only opium harvest the following spring was in the northeast, in an area controlled by the Taliban’s rivals, the Northern Alliance. That year, asMatthieu Aikins reported for Rolling Stone in 2012, “Opium production fell from an estimated 3,276 tons in 2000 to 185 tons in 2001.”
But then 9/11 hit and the Bush administration pushed into Afghanistan once again, carrying the banner of the “War on Terror.”
“When the Taliban fled or went into hiding, the farmers lost their financial support to grow food, and returned to growing heroin, a crop that thrives in regions of Afghanistan,” as Dr. Steven Kassels noted in a 2015 piece for Social Justice Solutions.
Seeking a “light footprint” in Afghanistan, the U.S. and our allies teamed up with what Aikins describes as “anti-Taliban warlords.” Aikins reported: “Within six months of the U.S. invasion, the warlords we backed were running the opium trade, and the spring of 2002 saw a bumper harvest of 3,400 tons.”
That’s right: The War in Afghanistan saw the country’s practically dead opium industry expanded dramatically. By 2014, Afghanistan was producing twice as much opium as it did in 2000. By 2015, Afghanistan was the source of 90 percent of the world’s opium poppy.
Since 2001, the U.S. has poured billions into counternarcotics programs in Afghanistan. How could this industry flourish right under the nose of the U.S. and our allies? Well, quite simply, because we let it: Aikins alleges that the DEA, FBI, the Justice Department and the Treasury ALL knew about their corrupt allies in the country, but did nothing to pursue them because it would have derailed the troop surge.
But where did it all go? Well, as Aikins reported, Afghanistan’s “borders leak opium like sieves into five neighboring countries.”
The increased supply flooded European, Asian and Middle Eastern markets. And with Europe no longer reaching out to opium producers in South America and Mexico, that excess flooded the American market. Prices fell everywhere, making heroin dangerously cheap and dangerously accessible.
And this is where we find ourselves today: Heroin, one of the most addictive and deadly substances on Earth, can be found for as little a $4 a bag in some American cities.
And heroin use is up across the entire population. Age, sex, race, income, location — it doesn’t matter. And, as the CDC notes, “Some of the greatest increases occurred in demographic groups with historically low rates of heroin use: women, the privately insured, and people with higher incomes.”
Unfortunately, it’s not just the U.S. suffering under the weight of a heroin addiction that’s hit epidemic proportions: Afghanistan, which has a long cultural tradition of smoking opium, is dealing not just with its status as a “narco state,” as Aikins described it, but also with the health and social ills stemming from increased heroin use.
In the process of waging a “War on Terror,” we lost the “War on Drugs.” Both wars deal in corruption and violence, and they put real human lives on the line — not just on the battlefield, but in the fields where farmers cultivate crops and in the neighborhoods where people live.
The rate at which civilians are being killed by US airstrikes in Afghanistan is at its highest point since 2008, an analysis of newly published UN data reveals.
Mourners after alleged US drone strike kills 14 in Khost, June 2015
Research by the Bureau shows that on average a civilian was killed every fourth drone or jet strike in 2015 – up from one in 11 attacks the year before and the first time the casualty rate has risen since 2011. The rate was last at such levels at the height of the Afghan war in 2008.
In its latest annual report published at the weekend, Unama said there had been 103 civilian deaths from US air actions in Afghanistan in 2015. Although these deaths are slightly more than the 101 recorded in 2014, they came from a third as many airstrikes. While there were 1,136 airstrikes in 2014, this number fell to 411 in 2015, the first year after the withdrawal of most US troops.
The sudden rise after so many years of falling casualty rates has raised concerns that military targeting is becoming less accurate or that there might have been an unannounced change in the rules of engagement.
With mounting pressure on the US to increase the number of air attacks in Afghanistan, observers feel these concerns are particularly urgent.
Chris Woods, director of the monitoring group Airwars, said “hard-won” lessons from 2009 onwards, when serious efforts to reduce the civilian casualty rate from international airstrikes began, were being lost.
He said: “What this [the UN data] indicates to me is that they are not taking the same care. This is not just about accuracy, it’s about politics.
“Bluntly, how many civilians is the US prepared to kill in Afghanistan to achieve its goals?”
In 2009, the US made targeting rules far more stringent after then commander US General Stanley McChrystal regarded soaring casualty rates as hugely damaging to the war effort. Apart from a brief spike in 2011, the average number of UN-recorded civilian casualties per airstrike has fallen every year since.
A US army spokeswoman in Kabul declined to tell the Bureau whether there had been any change in targeting policies in 2015, citing operational security.
In addition, as a highly detailed four-month investigation published by the Bureau today shows, the UN has also classified 14 people killed in a counter-terrorism strike in Khost province in June as civilian deaths. The US disputes the UN’s account of Khost.
Excluding these two single attacks from the casualty total would 47 dead in 409 attacks – a rate of one civilian dead for every nine strikes.
It is also possible that the UN’s 2015 figures were produced by a handful of bloody attacks which indicate a propensity for error but not necessarily a systematic change in targeting procedure or intelligence.
The UN report does not specify how many individual incidents produced 2015’s death toll of 103.
Since combat operations were declared over at the end of 2014, the US has been carrying out three types of strikes in Afghanistan – counter-terrorism strikes against al Qaeda and Islamic State, actions in defence of US or Nato forces, and, in extremis, air support to Afghan forces. Prior to 2014, the figures provided by the US Air Force for airstrikes included a relatively small number by its coalition allies.
Most US troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan by the start of 2015. Around 6,000 US troops remain there as part of a multinational operation training mission, along with a 3,000-strong counter-terrorism force.
The Taliban pressed forward in 2015, capturing towns and killing large numbers of Afghan security forces. There is now growing pressure on the Pentagon to start offering air support to Afghan forces.
Experts fear the Afghanistan conflict will intensify in 2016.
Sahr Muhammedally from the Center for Civilians In Conflict, an NGO, warned that Resolute Support (RS), the Nato mission in Afghanistan, needed to ensure its systems were ready for 2016.
“I think its going to be a difficult year,” she said. “In 2016 the fight’s going to be ugly… RS has to ensure that all policies and guidance have been disseminated and are being adhered to by all troops.”
When asked about the shifting civilian casualty rate, Colonel Michael Lawhorn, of Resolute Support’s Kabul headquarters, said: “We continue to take all reports of civilian casualties seriously and thoroughly review each one. We remain absolutely committed to doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.”