Rohingya Refugees Agree Move to Bangladesh Island

Rohingya refugee girls carry metal pitchers with water at Balukhali makeshift refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, September 13, 2017

Thousands of Rohingya living in Bangladesh refugee camps have agreed to move to an island in the Bay of Bengal, officials said Sunday, despite fears the site is prone to flooding.

Dhaka has long wanted to move 100,000 refugees to the muddy silt islet, saying it would take pressure off the overcrowded border camps where almost a million Rohingya live.

Some 740,000 Rohingya fled Myanmar in August 2017 in the face of a military crackdown, joining 200,000 refugees already in makeshift tent settlements at Cox’s Bazar.

Bangladesh’s refugee commissioner, Mahbub Alam, said officials overseeing the relocation would be posted to Bhashan Char island in the next few days.

“Approximately 6,000-7,000 refugees have already expressed their willingness to be relocated to Bhashan Char,” Alam told AFP from Cox’s Bazar, adding that “the number is rising”.

He did not say when the refugees would be moved, but a senior Navy officer involved in building facilities on the island said it could start by December, with some 500 refugees sent daily.

Bangladesh had been planning since last year to relocate Rohingya to the desolate flood-prone site, which is an hour by boat from the mainland.

Rights groups have warned the island, which emerged from the sea only about two decades ago, might not be able to withstand violent storms during the annual monsoon season.

In the past half a century, powerful cyclones have killed hundreds of thousands of people in the Meghna river estuary where the island is located.

Rohingya leaders would be taken to Bhashan Char to view the facilities and living conditions, Alam said.

Safety facilities built on the island include a nine-feet (three-meter) high embankment along its perimeter to keep out tidal surges during cyclones, and a warehouse to store months-worth of rations, he added.

Rohingya father-of-four Nur Hossain, 50, said he and his family agreed to relocate to Bhashan Char after they were shown video footage of the shelters.

“I have agreed to go. The camp here (at Leda) is very overcrowded. There are food and housing problems,” the 50-year-old told AFP.

There was no immediate comment from the UN, although Bangladeshi officials said they expect a delegation would visit the island in the next few weeks.

(Source / 20.10.2019) 

The ICC and Afghanistan: The Game Continues

4234213131A 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,

  1. “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.

(Source / 06.11.2016)

US Drone Strike In Afghanistan Kills, Wounds Several Civilians

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.

(Source / 29.10.2016)



By Ron Paul,

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.

(Source / 16.10.2016)

Raids in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar kill 12 Taliban, Daesh militants

Afghan army soldiers are seen during an operation in Afghanistan. (AFP/File)

Afghan army soldiers are seen during an operation in Afghanistan

Twelve Taliban and Daesh militants have been killed during separate military operations in parts of eastern Nangarhar province, a statement from 201st Selab Military Corp said on Saturday.

Security forces conducted airstrikes on the militants’ positions in Achin and Kot districts late on Friday leaving seven Daesh fighters dead, the statement said.

Separately, five Taliban were killed during security forces operation in Chaparhar district, Niamatullah Noorzai, the town’s administrative chief said.

He said civilians and security forces suffered no causalities during the operations. The militant groups did not comment about the incident.

(Source / 25.09.2016)

Taliban Pledges Support To Afghan Government In Anti-ISIS Fight

The Taliban is supporting Afghanistan in its fight against the Daesh jihadist group, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Monday.

A Taliban fighter guards a gathering in Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan.

A Taliban fighter guards a gathering in Shindand district of Herat province, Afghanistan

MOSCOW  — The spokesman stressed that most Daesh members present in Afghanistan are foreigners and occupy a small territory in the east of the country with no presence elsewhere.

“In cooperation with the nation, [the Taliban] has prevented the terrorist group from gaining a foothold in Afghanistan,” Mujahid added, in an interview with the Iranian Tasnim news agency.

The United States and the Afghan government have used Daesh to exaggerate Afghanistan’s problems as a pretext for the further occupation of Afghanistan, he added.

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.

(Source / 08.08.2016)

Hunger rising in Afghanistan at alarming rate: UN

Afghan men and children reach out for food donated by a charity in Mazar-i-sharif on January 22, 2015.  (AFP Photo)

Afghan men and children reach out for food donated by a charity in Mazar-i-sharif on January 22, 2015

The number of Afghan people without enough to eat has increased at an “alarming” rate over the past year, says a report.

The 2015 Seasonal Food Security Assessment in Afghanistan, which was compiled by the United Nations and partner agencies, was released by the Afghan Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) on Thursday.

According to the report, 5.9 percent of Afghans are now deprived of food, up from 4.7 percent recorded 12 months ago.

The total number of those classed as severely food insecure currently stands at over 1.5 million, up 317,000 this year, the report added.

This is while another 7.3 million people – more than one in four Afghan citizens – are moderately food insecure.

“These figures are extremely alarming, especially in a country where more than one third of all people are already food insecure. This report could [be] portent [of] a future spike in the next 12 months in the need for food and other humanitarian assistance,” said Claude Jibidar, Country Director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Afghanistan.

Afghan men and children hold up dishes to receive food donated by a private charity in Herat on January 3, 2015

Abdul Majid, FSAC coordinator, also expressed concern over the statistics, saying, “It is the last resort when farmers start selling productive assets such as livestock, machinery or land.”

Tomio Shichiri, the representative of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Afghanistan, warned that many Afghans will not be able to purchase food from the market despite a surge in wheat production this year.

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed Taliban from power, but many areas in the country are still beset with insecurity, which has taken a heavy toll on various sectors of the Afghan society, including economy and agriculture.

At least 13,500 foreign forces remain in Afghanistan despite the end of the US-led combat mission, which came on December 31, 2014. Afghan security forces have been engaged in various clean-up operations, but the war-torn Asian country is still gripped by the Taliban-led militancy and violence.

(Source / 10.09.2015)

Afghan capital rocked by multiple blasts, dozens dead

Government buildings close to Kabul airport and a police academy were targeted on Friday, hours after a truck bomb tore through the center of the city. The blasts killed at least 35 people and left more than 250 wounded.

A truck bomb tore through Kabul city center

Four bombings by suspected Taliban militants rocked the Afghan capital on Friday, including two close to Kabul airport.

The two most recent blasts targeted an area close to coalition bases and Afghan government buildings late in the evening, security sources said.

Gunfire continued after the attacks, and NATO jets were heard flying overhead.

The number of casualties from the two evening blasts wasn’t immediately known.

Earlier, a suicide bomber blew himself up close to Kabul’s police academy on Friday, killing at least 20 recruits, officials said.

According to a police source, the attacker, dressed in police uniform, walked into a group of trainees waiting outside the building compound and detonated his explosives-laden vest. At least 25 recruits were wounded.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the police academy attack, in a statement on Twitter.

A truck bomb tore through Kabul city center

The truck bomb flattened several buildings in central Kabul

Less than 24 hours before that, a massive truck bomb was detonated in central Kabul, killing 15 civilians and wounding 240 others.

That blast was described as one of the largest ever in Kabul, leaving a 30-foot crater in the ground, near a government complex.

The bombings were the first major assaults in the Afghan capital since the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar was announced.

Afghanistan’s leaders have repeatedly claimed that the security situation is improving despite the pull-out of most NATO troops last December.

New United Nations data published on Wednesday revealed the number of civilian casualties hit a record high in the first half of 2015, with 3,329 people injured.

On Thursday, Taliban insurgents killed nine people in multiple attacks on police targets, including a truck bombing in eastern Logar province.

(Source / 07.08.2015)

Mullah Akhtar Mansoor: Taliban’s new leader has a reputation for moderation

Mullah Omar’s reported successor joined the group at its founding and is known to be in favour of peace talks with the Afghan government

Taliban fighters on a training exercise in 2011

Mullah Akhtar Mansoor – believed to be the Taliban’s new leader – has an unexpected reputation as a relative moderate and fierce proponent of peace talks, raising hopes that his leadership could pave the way for an end to years of fighting.

He was a founding member of the group, who knew Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden personally, but kept a relatively low profile until the deaths and arrests of more prominent insurgent fighters thrust him towards power.

“He is known among fighters in the field as more into peace talks than Mullah Omar, and less strict,” said one Taliban commander who asked to stay anonymous.

Mansoor grew up in Maiwand district of Kandahar province, and lived not far from the home of Mullah Omar when the country descended into civil war after the withdrawal of Soviet troops.

He joined the Taliban when it began as a movement to tackle venal and brutal warlords in the area, helping bring in money and guns from rich businessmen in his tribe.

The young mullah eventually rose to become aviation minister, handling the grinding day-to-day logistics of the group’s air battles against opposing factions in the north.

He got to know Bin Laden in that period because the Saudi fighter lived not far from Kandahar airport, where Mansoor spent most of his time, and would sometimes drop by to talk with volunteer Arab fighters.

He surrendered in 2001, like many senior Taliban; going to the new Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to ask for amnesty and then retiring to his home district.

But American forces refused to believe that the commanders had given up fighting, and after a series of aggressive night raids he fled to Pakistan, where he helped reshape the Taliban as an insurgent force.

Initially a minor figure, he rose within the group after more senior fighters were killed or arrested by Pakistani security forces. A companion who travelled with him to Dubai in 2001, when the Taliban were discussing the expulsion of bin Laden, remembers a friendly, moderate man.

Mansoor’s name first rose to public prominence in 2010 when western intelligence officials spent tens of thousands of dollars ferrying a “senior commander” to Kabul for peace talks, only to discover that they had been courting an imposter, a grocer pretending to be Mansoor.

Mansoor has never publicly commented on what was widely seen as a debacle for the Nato forces fighting in Afghanistan.

The real Mansoor had been a strong advocate of peace talks, and supported meetings in Doha this year, where for the first time the Taliban used the word “election” and made more moderate statements about the role of women.

As deputy leader already, he takes up the top role from a position of strength, but this is the Taliban’s first leadership transition and it may take some time to see how strong his grip on power is.

Rivals likely to vie for influence include Mullah Omar’s son, Yacoub, who reportedly walked out of a meeting about the succession in anger, and former military leader Abdul Qayum Zakir.

Zakir is a hardliner who has been in conflict with Mansoor for years now, and has a strong power base in Helmand province.

(Source / 30.07.2015)

Doctors Without Borders hospital raided in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan – Afghan military commandos raided and searched a Doctors Without Borders’ hospital in the north of the country, firing several shots in the air and threatening the staff, the humanitarian group said Friday.

In a statement, Doctors Without Borders condemned the “violent intrusion,” which occurred on Wednesday, as a breach of the Geneva Conventions.

The group said that it had temporarily suspended work at the facility, which is in Kunduz, and is the main trauma hospital in Afghanistan’s northeast. The hospital has stopped admitting new patients, although the current patients are still being treated, the organization said.

“This serious event puts at risk the lives of thousands of people who rely on the center for urgent care,” Dr. Bart Janssens, the organization’s director of operations, said in the statement.

The local army brigade commander in Kunduz, Col. Nader, said he did not believe the army was involved. “Afghan National Army Special Forces have neither raided any hospital nor arrested anyone whatsoever,” he said. “We completely deny that Afghan National Army had any involvement at all.”

Local officials, however, speculated that an army unit from another part of the country had been involved. Calls seeking clarification from Interior Ministry officials went unanswered Friday night.

Afghan civilians wounded in crossfire and bomb blasts around the country usually turn to trauma care hospitals run by nongovernmental organizations such as Doctors Without Borders or Emergency, an Italian organization. Patients often come from neighboring provinces to seek care.

The hospitals generally refuse to permit armed men onto the premises, but they treat not only civilians but also wounded combatants from both sides of the conflict. “We never take sides,” Janssens said in the statement. “Our doctors treat all people according to their medical needs.”

The doctors often offer the best, and usually only, front-line care in a conflict that is killing and wounding more civilians than ever before. Civilian casualties from the war exceeded 10,000 people last year, the highest number since the United Nations began tracking them in Afghanistan in 2007. That number is expected to increase this year, as the Taliban gain ground and the fighting grows fiercer between the insurgents and the Afghan army and police forces, which number more than 300,000 strong.

Doctors Without Borders has been operating in Afghanistan for some 30 years, although it did withdraw from Afghanistan for a five-year stretch after five of its staff members were shot to death in 2004.

Kunduz, a commercial city not far from the border with Tajikistan, has been threatened by the Taliban since April, with fighting encroaching into the city’s outskirts. The government has rushed forces in from around the country to fight the insurgents.

In response to a reporter’s questions, Doctors Without Borders said that this was the first “armed intrusion” at the facility, known as the Kunduz Trauma Center, since it opened four years ago. The organization did say there had, in the past, been “tensions” with some of the many armed groups that operate around Kunduz with varying degrees of allegiance to the government.

“However, we have always managed to resolve problems through dialogue,” it said. “Up until now, we have been able to ensure a safe, neutral space, in which staff can provide medical care to our patients. We’re therefore extremely concerned by such a violent intrusion into the hospital.”

Some details of what occurred on Wednesday remain unclear, in part because the organization would not say whom the soldiers were searching for when they entered the hospital. But in the early afternoon, the group’s statement said, heavily armed men who said they belonged to the Afghan Special Forces entered the hospital and “cordoned off the facility and began shooting in the air.”

The soldiers assaulted three staff members and eventually arrested three patients, the group said. At one point, a staff member was threatened at gunpoint. The episode ended when the men released the patients and left on their own. It does not appear that the three patients who had been detained were the target of the raid.

In an interview, a member of the provincial council in Kunduz, Mohammad Yousaf Ayubi, said “the raid ended after the Special Forces finished their search and were satisfied that they were tipped with wrong intel and they left without arresting anyone.”

(Source / 03.07.2015)