Monday, 28 February 2011

Contractors - Billions Wasted

WASHINGTON, DC – Since 2002, the United States has spent $117 billion on contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to a new report by the non-partisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, tens of billions of those dollars have been wasted.
The report's authors note that the "waste, fraud, and abuse" they have observed in these contract programs were caused by significant errors. A few of their points, quoted from the report:
-An ill-conceived project, no matter how well-managed, is wasteful if it does not fit the cultural, political and economic mores of the society it is meant to serve, or if it cannot be supported and maintained.
-Poor planning and oversight by the US government, as well as poor performance on the part of contractors, have costly outcomes: time and money misspent are lost for other purposes. 
-Criminal behavior and blatant corruption sap dollars from what could otherwise be successful project outcomes and, more disturbingly, contribute to a climate in which huge amounts of waste are accepted as the norm. 
The U.S. has relied on contractors more heavily in these two wars than in previous others, hiring about 200,000 of them to "guard bases, build facilities, provide food and laundry services, escort supply and personnel movements, and translate local languages," according to Susan Crabtree at Talking Points Memo. She points out that there are almost as many contracted employees working in Afghanistan and Iraq as there are military troops.
The commission that put out the report is urging the government to reform its contracting programs and is holding a hearing to review the report's findings today.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Making A Killing In Kabul

Two of the Westerners jump out and take up position behind the bonnet of the car. One of them shouts into his radio: ‘Mayday mayday mayday’. Back at headquarters, the nearest military base is alerted: the convoy needs help.
Pointing their assault rifles towards a collection  of mud houses, the guards return fire and hold off the assailants until the military arrive with helicopters to evacuate them.
Attacks like this happen on an almost daily basis across Afghanistan. But the men needing rescue in this instance are not soldiers. They are private security contractors paid vast sums of money to guard aid projects and foreign embassies, and to transport the supplies needed for British and other foreign troops on the front line.
Read more:

Kunar Massacre - Investigation Findings

NATO said that video of Kunar operations on Feb. 17 — the main event of more than three days of fighting — showed troops targeting and killing 'dozens of insurgents' - an old mantra. However, the Afghan team investigating the incident found that 65 civilians had been killed, including 40 children age 13 and under, said Shazada Masoud, one of the investigators. The group presented its findings on Sunday to President Karzai. Investigators said they had compiled a list of names and ages of the victims and planned to release them but were not prepared to do so Sunday. Karzai‘s office said he was 'concerned' by the findings. Yes I bet he is. Not half as concerned as he is about what remains of his credibility with the Afghan people. Nothing will happen about this massacre as with all the others.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Innocent Victims of Ghaddafi

NATO Atrocities Piling Up

Just days after the governor of an north-eastern Afghanistan province confirmed that dozens of civilians, including 22 women and 26 young boys, were killed in a NATO-led mission targeting insurgents, new allegations of civilian casualties surfaced in a nearby province Thursday. ISAF issued their stock response which is virtually daily now. 'Armed insurgents' were the target, they said. "We take civilian casualty allegations very seriously; we'll investigate this incident as quickly as possible," said U.S. Army Col. Patrick Hynes, director of ISAF Joint Command Combined Joint Operations Center. I can't say that I can recall a report ever coming out of these NATO/ISAF 'investigations'

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Afghan Security Worst For 10 Years - UN

Security in the country is at its lowest level for a decade and two-fifths of the country is off-limits, a departing United Nations official claimed on Tuesday.

Robert Watkins, a Canadian diplomat and the UN's deputy special representative in Afghanistan, alleged that security was "at its lowest point since the departure of the Taliban" following the 2001 invasion.
He said the UN could rarely enter 40 per cent of the country, including Kandahar, and that access to areas it wanted to develop had progressively deteriorated over the past 10 years.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

NATO Massacre In Kumar - Update

Dr. Asadullah Fazli, chief doctor at the provincial hospital in Asadabad, the capital of Kunar, told the New York Times that the hospital had treated at least nine wounded from the area, including three women, four children and two men. One two-year-old girl had to have her leg amputated because of shrapnel injuries. The Times noted: “There were several other military operations in the area over the last few days, so it was not clear which one caused those injuries.”
In an attempt to defuse outrage among the Afghan population over the latest atrocity carried out by the occupation forces, President Hamid Karzai issued what has become a pro forma denunciation of American military operations. He stated that “about 50 civilians have been martyred” and pledged to send investigators to the scene of the killings.

Karzai met with his national security council and General Petraeus at the presidential palace in Kabul on Sunday. According to an account of the meeting published in the Washington Post, “Petraeus, the top US commander in Afghanistan, dismissed allegations by Karzai’s office and the provincial governor that civilians were killed and said residents had invented stories, or even injured their children, to pin the blame on US forces and force an end to the operation.”
One unnamed participant in the meeting said: “He claimed that in the midst of the [operation] some pro-Taliban parents in contact with a government official decided to create a civilian casualty claim to pressure international forces to cease the [operation]. They burned hands and legs of some of their children and sent them to the hospital.”
The discussion demonstrates the contempt with which the American military regard the Afghan people and Karzai himself, the figurehead first installed as Washington’s stooge shortly after the 2001 invasion.
It has been reported that Karzai and his colleagues found Petraeus’s baseless allegations “deeply offensive” and “shocking”. One official declared: “Killing 60 people, and then blaming the killing on those same people, rather than apologising for any deaths? This is inhuman. This is a really terrible situation.”

Exclusive Picture of Deluded Dictator On Brink of Oblivion

Tinpot leaders come and go and the picture above shows one of the more corrupt, venal, mendacious, blood-spattered and deluded of them in recent times. I don't know why Ghaddafi agreed to be photographed with him.

Pakistan Gunman Raymond Davis Is Ex-Blackwater CIA Man

''Confirmation that he worked for Xe could prove even more problematic than working for the CIA, given the extent of hatred towards Blackwater, whose staff have gained a reputation in Pakistan as trigger-happy. For Pakistanis the word "Blackwater" has become a byword for covert American operations targeting the country's nuclear capability. Newspaper reports have been filled with lurid reports of lawless operatives roaming the country.

US officials have reiterated their concern about Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail where Davis is being held, saying he had been moved to a separate section of the prison, that the guards' guns had been taken away from for fear they might kill him, and that detainees had been previously killed by guards. They are also concerned about protesters storming the prison or that he might be poisoned, and that dogs were being used to taste or smell the food for poison.''

'NATO Victims Burned Their Own Children' - Petraeus

Petraeus is billed by the war apologists as an 'intellectual soldier'. This was always a joke. After this outrageous episode (see also our post yesterday for the context), he is toast. He goes down in history with the Chief of the US General Staff, General 'I Love Killin' James Mattis. Petraeus should be sacked (he won't be of course) and should join McChrystal on the talk show circuit.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Ghazi Abad NATO Massacre - Afghan Government Delegation Investigates

KABUL, 22 feb. -- An Afghan official says a government delegation is talking with tribal elders from a remote district in northeastern Afghanistan to investigate their claims that NATO forces killed 60 civilians during a four-day operation. The coalition is contesting the charge as ever, saying video showed troops targeting and killing 'dozens of insurgents'.

Nawrdin Safi, a provincial council member from Kunar, said Tuesday the delegation was sent to the provincial capital by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. On Sunday, the elders claimed that NATO forces killed 60 civilians in air and ground strikes. He said that the delegation is travelling to Kunar's Ghazi Abad district to determine how many people were actually killed.

Libye : Rapatriement des Ressortissants Français

Sur décision des autorités françaises, l’ambassade de France en Libye a organise le retour en France des ressortissants français volontaires pour quitter le pays. Les forces armées mettent en place des avions militaires pour rapatrier les ressortissants. Au total, trois avions de l’escadron de transport Esterel doivent rallier Tripoli.
Au revoir, Colonel Ghaddafi et bonjour et bienvenue l'epoch nouvelle. Les resortissants francais seront de retour.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Karzai's Latest Broadside - PRT's Are Useless

Karzai’s assertion appeared to catch NATO's International Security Assistance Force by surprise. A military spokesman said no timetable had been set for the shutdown of provincial reconstruction teams, known in military parlance as PRTs. The teams, based at Western military installations, operate in 27 of 34 provinces, providing services such as community healthcare and educational support. Although NATO considers the units an essential means of reaching out to impoverished Afghans and helping turn them away from the Taliban, Karzai has long denounced them as one of a number of Western-created "parallel structures" that undermine the authority of his government. For once in his life he is right.

In recent months he has sought to curtail the operations of private security firms. He has also voiced objections to Western-funded aid projects that bypass government ministries and funnel money directly to contractors and subcontractors. Over the last year and a half, Karzai has taken frequent rhetorical swipes at Western governments whose troops are waging the Afghan war and whose aid props up his administration. It has become a rarity for him to make a public appearance or policy statement without invoking the theme of foreign meddling, which he did again on Monday 21st.

"Afghanistan belongs to Afghans," he told a news conference in Kabul. "Afghans don't want government from abroad. Afghans don't want a European government. Afghans don't want an American government. Afghans don't want a Pakistan government. Afghans don't want an Iranian government."

Karzai is not the only critic of the PRTs, however. Some international aid groups have long expressed reservations about the militarization of development assistance, saying it endangers all those associated with humanitarian efforts. U.S. officials have also acknowledged that the process of vetting projects and tracking the disbursement of development money is deeply flawed.

64 Civilians Killed in Nato Attacks

This report says 51 civilians were killed in the latest NATO massacre but tribal elders locally put the figure at 64. As usual with these massacres NATO claims to be 'investigating'.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

First Anti-Afghanistan War TV Ad In US

'Americans of all ideological persuasions are fed up with the Afghanistan War. We're fed up with a $5.7 billion-per-month military campaign that's gone nowhere over the past 12 months. We're fed up with being told we'll have to do without vital public services because of the sorry state of our national finances, while at the same time our politicians are spending $2 billion a year to police a dusty Afghan town called Marjah. But most of all, we're tired of the song-and-dance from officials who think they can spin a year full of ugly setbacks as "progress." We know better.'  Clip Here

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Return Of The Warlords?

Kabul 15.2.2011
There has recently been a dramatic build up of a controversial anti Taliban militia that many Afghans fear could revive the country's detested warlords. But it has had to be suspended in a key district of Helmand amid outbreaks of fighting between different groups. The local defence programme, which is similar to others that have been heavily promoted by General Petraeus the US Commander as essential to beating the Taliban, has also been put on hold amid concern that the paramlitary 'police' force, with 800 men, is already bigger than the official police and could so would threaten government authority. Pretty avoidable balls-up I would have thought. Brilliant strategist, Petraeus, eh?
US marines in the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah say they are using the same approach they employed with "awakening" councils during the Iraq war. But problems are starting to show: the district governor, Abdul Mutalib, last week called in leaders of the 30 groups of up to 50 gunmen to make them sign up to stricter rules of behaviour.
"Around the country these groups are earning the hatred of the people," the governor told the assembled men, many of whom led armed mujahideen groups against the Soviet occupiers in the 1980s.
"The same must not happen in Marjah," the governor warned. Rogue militias in Marjah would be problem at a time when similar programmes are under scrutiny.
Marjah has great political significance in Washington where it is seen as a test of Barack Obama's decision to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan last year.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Searching For Hosni's Hoard

The British Serious Fraud Office is hunting millions stashed in the UK by Egypt's ousted tyrant Hosni Mubarak.

Their probe came after Switzerland froze the assets of the "Last Pharaoh" in the search for an alleged hoard of up to £44billion.
Britain was expected to do the same. SFO chief Richard Alderman said as Egypt stepped up its headlong rush towards democracy: "The public would expect us to be looking for some of this money if we became aware of it - and to try to repatriate it for the people."
Toppled ... now the hunt fot Mubarak's billions is on
Toppled ... now the hunt fot Mubarak's billions is on
Yesterday, about 2,000 people gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square, halting traffic only hours after military police and soldiers had cleared the last few pro-democracy activists from the area.
The army had appeared to be in full control of the square, heart of the protests that toppled Mubarak.
Then hundreds of police marched through, unhindered by troops, saying they wanted to show solidarity with the revolution.
Mubarak, 82, and his family are alleged to have raked off huge sums in kickbacks from military deals and privatisations with most of the loot moved offshore.
Mubarak's son Gamal, 47, once lived in London. An investment company he founded, Medinvest Associates - and £34million offshoot private equity fund Horus - have been based in central London since 1996.
The generals left in charge when Mubarak quit on Friday dissolved parliament last night and suspended the constitution that had kept him in power.
The move opened the way for promised free and fair elections.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces also pledged to 'honour the peace treaty' with Israel, whatever that means when uncoded. It doesn't mean good news for ordinary Egyptians at the moment.

A Child A Day Dies In Afghanistan

A child is killed on average every day in Afghanistan as the Taliban and government forces exploit them and recruit them to their purposes. One in five children suffers from a psychiatric complaint. The shocking figures are from a UN report released today. Link here

Kabul Attack - Video

Monday, 14 February 2011

Photos Des Manifestants En L'Algerie et Tunisia

Bon courage aux manifestants. Good luck to the pro-freedom (real freedom, not the George Bush kind) movements all over the world.
Anti-Gouvernement Manifestation Tunisienne 14 Feb 2011
Une Fille Algerienne - Oran 14 Feb 2011

Sunday, 13 February 2011

John Scott Of Amwell - Anti War Poem 1787

I HATE that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
And lures from cities and from fields,
To sell their liberty for charms
Of tawdry lace, and glittering arms;
And when Ambition's voice commands,

To march, and fight, and fall, in foreign lands.

I hate that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round;
To me it talks of ravag'd plains,
And burning towns, and ruin'd swains,
And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
And widows' tears, and orphans' moans;
And all that Misery's hand bestows,

To fill the catalogue of human woes.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Carnage In Afghanistan Has A Cause

In the first 29 days of January 2011, NATO planes fired their guns, missiles, and bombs on 284 separate sorties. In January 2010, those aircraft only made 157 attack runs. Thisdoubling of air attacks has been a consistent trend, ever since Petraeus took over the Afghan war effort. Under Petraeus, there have been  3,620 of these so-called “weapons sorties” over the last six months, U.S. military statistics show. Under his predecessor, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, there were just 1,813 during a similar stretch.
Petraeus hasn’t just ramped up the air war, however. He’s increased the aggressive tactics across the entire Afghan war effort. Petraeus unleashed special operations forces, who have killed or captured thousands of militants. His generals relied on massive surface-to-surface missiles to clear the Taliban out of Kandahar, and ordered tanks to help crush opponents in Helmand province. In perhaps the signature moment of Petraeus’ campaign, U.S. forces flattened three villages in the Arghandab River Valley 

Ghost Villages In Afghanistan

Abdul Ghafar, a farmer from Zhari district, which includes Khakai and is one of the worst affected, is now living in an impoverished area of Kandahar city since fleeing his village six months ago.
"We had to leave our home and farms under pressure from Taliban attacks and bombardments by foreign forces. We were fearing for our lives," he told AFP.
"I lost all my crops and left everything behind. Everything was destroyed. My home has been destroyed. The walls around my land collapsed. All my money was spent on our food here and now we have nothing."

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Petition Pour Aider La Democratie Egyptienne

Si vous voulez aider les Egyptiens, allez sur , pour faire exploser la pétition en leur faveur. Merci beaucoup.

Kunduz Massacre Subject of German Exhibition

Munich exhibition documents German army atrocity in Afghanistan

By Wolfgang Weber 
8 February 2011
On the night of September 4, 2009, the order by German army Colonel Georg Klein to bomb a gathering of villagers, including many children and young people, in the province of Kunduz, Afghanistan resulted in exactly 91 deaths, as well as a number of serious injuries.
These were the facts exposed by two journalists, Stern magazine editor Christoph Reuter and photographer Marcel Mettelsiefen, after several weeks of research. The results of their work are now being presented from February 2 to 20—paralleling the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) security conference—at Munich’s House of Literature in the exhibition “Kunduz—September 4, 2009: Looking for clues” and published in book form under the same title by Rogner & Bernhard. The exhibition is a harrowing documentation of the greatest war crime committed by German officers since the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich in 1945.
Location of the German army massacre in Kunduz (© Marcel Mettelsiefen/oh)
Invited to speak at the exhibition’s opening ceremony on February 1, the two writers were accompanied by a third speaker, Prof. Roger Willemsen, a commentator known from many TV talk shows for his sharp criticism of the war in Afghanistan.
At the beginning of the event, Christoph Reuter briefly sketched the circumstances prior to the massacre, pointing out that Colonel Klein—contrary to military regulations—ordered the bombing solely based on allegations made by a single informant. Klein argued that he had believed the crowd gathered around the two trucks consisted exclusively of Taliban fighters; on this basis all proceedings against him were suspended. Neither Klein nor any other section of the army bothered to find out exactly who and how many they had actually killed. The NATO commission of inquiry and even the Red Cross spent only a few hours at the location, without trying to determine the exact number of victims or identify them. The official NATO report cynically noted that there were “between 17 and 142 casualties”.
Opening meeting with the photographer Marcel Mettelsiefen and journalist Christoph Reuter
The exhibition in Munich
However, following the forced resignation of the Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung (Christian Democratic Union, CDU), neither politicians nor the media took any further interest in the victims. They concerned themselves only with Jung’s successor in office, Karl Theodor Maria Georg Achaz Eberhardt Joseph, Baron of zu Guttenberg. The Defence Ministry under this dashing scion of the nobility had absolutely no interest in pursuing the matter, preferring to close the case rather than face the liability of compensation payments for the bereaved. Only when it was confronted with Reuter and Mettelsiefen’s precise list of the 91 dead, did it finally condescend to dole out something for each victim—even though this amounted to no more than a derisory €5,000.
Owing to the two journalists’ empathy and tact, as well as their perseverance and patience, they were able to gain the trust of the long-suffering villagers and talk with groups of 10 to 15 in hour-long sessions for several weeks. Only a few photographs of the dead had been taken, but the journalists were given these by the victims’ relatives. The family members could see that they were not going to use them as sensational images to excite public interest, but that the journalists were genuinely concerned about the Afghan people, their dead and their suffering. Christoph Reuter painstakingly identified the dead and their surviving relatives, their family relationships, their often tragic loss of several sons, brothers or other relatives.
Marcel Mettelsiefen photographed the relatives after each of the group talks. His photos were not the lurid kind usually found in the tabloid press. They are quiet and reserved, but therefore all the more moving and thought-provoking; portraits of old men who grieve for their sons and grandsons, of boys who had identified their fathers among the dead after the massacre, often finding only body parts or pieces of clothing.
Mir Akbar (© Marcel Mettelsiefen/oh)
Mir Akbar, for example, lost his 21-year-old son that night. When the attack occurred, he heard the explosion and immediately started running. But on reaching the site of the bombing, he found only one of his son’s legs and his hair. The rest of the corpse could not be found.
Nazir Mir (© Marcel Mettelsiefen/oh)
Nazir Mir is shown mourning his father, Mohammed Akram, who ran out at one o’clock that night, after hearing that much needed gasoline could be tapped from the trucks. It was not until the next morning that Nazir Mir arrived at the scene of the disaster, finding only the remains of his dead father.
Abdul Daiane (© Marcel Mettelsiefen/oh)
Directly after the armed forces’ attack, Christoph Reuter and Marcel Mettelsiefen visited Kabul hospital, where they came across a young boy who had been found among the few survivors by relatives and had been immediately driven to the hospital. A few hours after he had indicated to them that he was the son of Abdul Daiane and allowed himself to be photographed, he died of his burns. Through their talks with the villagers, the two journalists were able to find Abdul Daiane, who tearfully thanked them for the photo of his son. Apart from this son, he had also lost another. Another small boy, 13 years old, had lost all his male family members and thus had to leave school to assume the role of family head of household.
Following the speeches of the two journalists, Roger Willemsen addressed those present at the opening ceremony, eloquently and vividly describing Afghanistan in a kind of personal travelogue as a country torn apart by contradictions and suffering, steeped in rural poverty and urban corruption, terrorised by tribal feuds, warlords, drug barons and puppets of foreign powers. According to Willemsen, Afghan society was a relatively peaceful and socially balanced land in the 1960s and 1970s. A unique melting pot resulting from two millennia of the ancient Greek Hellenistic and Indian Buddhist cultures, it was at that time undoubtedly a country of high cultural development. However, after 30 years of war and particularly after the widescale bombing of recent years, that culture has now been completely destroyed in material terms. On the other hand, the spiritual values, the ideas and social concepts, the way of thinking, the hospitality and musicality—everything that constitutes spiritual culture could not be destroyed by the bombs and are still to be found there.
Willemsen also talked about his experience and that of his girlfriend Nadia Nashir-Karim as patron and chairperson, respectively, of the Afghan Women’s Association. The daily endeavours of this association—for example, supplying 30,000 people with drinking water, constructing and maintaining schools for more than 2,000 women and girls, securing medical care for about 20,000 people—all of this, as well as the work of other humanitarian relief agencies, is by no means facilitated by the bombings, field combat or sheer military presence of NATO forces, but only impeded and often completely destroyed. Concluding his speech, Willemsen observed: “This war cannot be managed with the means that have been adopted; this war has no argument to justify it, no rationale to legitimise it!”
The ensuing discussion gave rise to a number of quite controversial views. Visitors often expressed their esteem, their regard for both the courageous and highly professional work of the two journalists, and the effective humanitarian aid being organised by Willemsen.
However, the speakers’ thoughts on the rather limited political prospects for Afghanistan’s future and an end to the war met with considerable protest. For several years, Willemsen has energetically advocated an immediate withdrawal of the army from Afghanistan, although he has recently come to accept the German government’s proposal of 2014 as the latest date for disengagement. In order to use the time until then in a meaningful way, he recommends the provision of training programmes for the police, the judiciary and other national institutions. Speaking earlier in the ceremony, he had very clearly and emphatically pointed out that these national institutions—for example, the parliament—were an Augean stable of corruption, dominated by all the forces that had terrorised and bullied the country for years: drug barons, local warlords, and President Hamid Karzai, the pure personification of corruption, at the head.
Christof Reuter said the choice between extending the stay of NATO troops and withdrawing them immediately was, as the German saying goes, the same as one between plague and cholera. He feared that, following the withdrawal of armed forces, there might be a “Night of Long Knives” (alluding to Hitler’s liquidation of the officers of his own standing army in 1934), an unrestrained outbreak of the clan and tribal feuds so far suppressed, and the country could sink into real chaos. All three admitted that Afghanistan’s present misfortune had begun with the arrival of foreign troops and the US was responsible for promoting and training the Taliban, who they now claim have to be fought. However, they expressed only cluelessness and pessimism when it came to suggesting a way out of the disaster brought about by the West.
Nevertheless, the journalists’ efforts and the documentation they produced have made a valuable contribution to the struggle to end the war. This is so because a prospect for peace will only emerge when the populations of the belligerent countries—such as Germany, France, Australia and the US—open their eyes to the war crimes in Afghanistan and intensify opposition to their respective governments.
No one should miss the opportunity of attending Chris Reuter and Marcel Mettelsiefen’s exhibition about the German army’s massacre in Kunduz and the fate of its victims. We also recommend their book to all who are concerned about the war, argue for its end, and call for an immediate withdrawal of the German and other invading armed forces.

Civilian Deaths Brushed Off As 'Accident' By NATO

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Coalition troops "accidentally killed" two Afghan civilians and injured one "during a firefight with insurgents" last week, NATO's International Security Assistance Force said Tuesday.
That conclusion was reached after an assessment of the Thursday incident by the Afghan and ISAF military, it said. The flare-up occurred in Helmand province's Nahr-e Saraj district.
The unit was ambushed while traveling between two forward operating bases and returned fire at a van they thought was part of the attack.
"During an ambush, a vehicle approached the ISAF convoy at a high rate of speed," an ISAF statement said.
"After determining the vehicle was a potential threat and wouldn't stop, coalition forces reacted by using appropriate escalation of force procedures to protect members."

Same old NATO claptrap. The only thing missing from this bloody ritual is Karzai's perfunctory condemnation which he now reads from a card.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Kidnapping Crisis In Afghanistan

Is US Blocking Peace In Afghanistan?

'President Obama may have a more intellectual way of conflating the threat, “Al Qaeda and their extremist allies” who may provide “safe haven” if they retake Afghanistan, but the essential counterproductive flaw in the thinking remains. U.S. policy talks a big game about reconciling with the “small t taliban,” but our conflation of the Taliban and Al Qaeda blocks any serious attempt at a political settlement. Worse, U.S. military strategies are taking a group that’s distinct from Al Qaeda and making it more vulnerable to Al Qaeda influence.'

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Canada Has Paid $41m To Mercenaries in Afghanistan

New documents tabled in Parliament at the request of the New Democrats provide the first comprehensive picture of the use of private contractors, which have been accused of adding to the chaos in Afghanistan. The records show Foreign Affairs paid nearly $8 million to ArmorGroup Securities Ltd., recently cited in a U.S. Senate investigation as relying on Afghan warlords who in 2007 were engaged in "murder, kidnapping, bribery and anti-Coalition activities." The company, which has since been taken over by G4S Risk Management, provided security around the Canadian embassy in Kabul and guarded diplomats.
Tundra SCA stands on guard for the Defence Department outside Canadian military forward operating bases and has collected more than $5.3 million. The U.S. Senate report included Tundra on a list of companies that poach staff from Afghan security forces — something that has long angered President Hamid Karzai, who last year moved to eject all private security from the country.
More than $438,000 of the Afghan-owned, Canadian-run company's expenses remain secret, for operational security reasons. But Tundra's website, unlike other contractors, promotes its intelligence "gathering and analyzing" abilities. A Kandahar warlord, with links to former governor Gul Agha Sherzai, earned $2.5 million since 2008 providing security outside of the provincial reconstruction base.
Col. Haji Toorjan employed a 40-man militia. But there are questions about how much was spent for his service because the documents tabled in the House of Commons are not consistent with access-to-information records and published reports that show he was on the payroll in 2007. More than $3.4 million went to Washington, D.C.-based Blue Hackle to guard the governor ofKandahar and train his security detail. Canada started paying that expense in 2008, after Karzai replaced the notorious Asadullah Khalid, who was accused of human-rights abuses and had his own private militia known as Brigade 888.
All of the contracting happened even though the federal government has no overall policy or legislation to govern the use of hired guns — unlike other countries, notably the United States, which has imposed strict accountability guidelines on its contractors. Even with those rules, the American system was found lacking by U.S. senators, who heard complaints from NATO that there was "little awareness of money flow" and that some of the contracts were "enriching powerbrokers, undercutting counterinsurgency efforts and delegitimizing the Afghan government."
The Canadian International Development Agency, which delivers aid projects in Afghanistan, said it does not employ security companies, but agencies that it hires to deliver programs do. One of those contractors, SNC Lavalin, hired the Watan Group to guard one of Ottawa's signature development projects, the Dahla dam. The company, owned by relatives of Karzai, was recently blacklisted by the U.S. military. A spokesman for the Canadian Defence Department declined comment on Friday.
Foreign Affairs said it has no concerns about the record of the ArmorGroup's new owners, despite the criticism in Washington and noted the company had signed on to a non-binding international arrangement of best practises for armed contractors.
"All private security contractors employed by Canada are known to the Afghan Government, and are subject to Afghan law," said Jean-Bruno Villeneuve, a department spokesman, in an email late Saturday night. "G4S Risk Management is a signatory of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers, which was signed in Geneva this past November." He said the department has no plans to draft an oversight policy and believes the current reporting mechanism — applied through contract language — are sufficient. The NDP's foreign-affairs critic said it's appalling Ottawa had no mechanism to govern hired guns and charged that what the country tried to accomplish in terms of rule of law in Kandahar has suffered.
"It undermines our credibility," said Paul Dewar. "Afghans are not stupid. They see these people. They see what they're doing and they know who is paying them." Opposition parties have throughout the war mounted attacks on the use of contractors, but never had a complete picture from which to draw conclusions. Even with the release of figures and contract names, Dewar said there are still many important questions left unanswered. "We've spent tens of millions of dollars on what I would consider to be some very dubious characters, to do what?" he said. "Foreign Affairs, in particular, needs to be held to account. I'm blown away by what I'm seeing here."

Bon Debarras, Moubarak

Monsieur Moubarak se drape dans sa dignité de militaire. Il prétend quitter le pouvoir la tête haute. Mais la réalité est toute autre, il a compris que si son régime est renversé, il devra rendre des comptes à son peuple. Et c'est cela surtout qui lui pose un gros problème. Moubarak a déclaré avoir servi son pays pendant soixante ans, mais ces trente dernières années, il semble bien plutôt qu'il se soit servi.
Et aussi l'USA et l'Israel.

Cairo Street Scenes - Sunday 6th February

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Cairo Live Now - BBC World Service Radio

Live commentaries from Egypt. Switch console on HERE.

Qui Fait Du Chantage Sur L'autre, Obama Ou Moubarak?

On se rend compte que les Américains se croient encore les maîtres du monde.Je m'étonne que l'ensemble de notre classe politique, de nos journalistes ne soient pas du tout offusqués par cette attitude "néo-colonialiste" des USA.Même si le régime de Moubarak n'a rien d'une démocratie, cela ne justifie en rien cet interventionnisme américain. Les Américains, 'patrie de l'ultralibéralisme' sont toujours obnubilés par les profits à court-terme et n'ont jamais rien compris aux besoins des pays Arabes. Ils se sont souvent conduits par le passé comme des imbéciles, agissant en dépit du bon sens (aider et armer par exemple les talibans dans leur lutte contre les Soviétiques)

Friday, 4 February 2011

Egyptians Rally For Mubarak Departure

Robert Fisk From Cairo 4 Feb.

They formed in phalanxes across the road outside the Egyptian Museum, each holding a shield of corrugated iron, many of them shouting "God is Great", a mockery of every Hollywood Roman legion, T-shirts instead of breastplates, clubs and the police night-sticks of Mubarak's hated cops instead of swords. Outside the House on the Corner – cheerfully telling me it belonged to anyone – stood a man holding (believe me, reader) a 7ft steel trident. "I am the devil," he cheerfully roared at me. 
This was almost as bad as the horse and camel attack by the Mubarakites on Wednesday. Fisk Handle Here.

Heckuva Job, Hosni - Tony Blair

By Robbin Yassin-Kassab by way of Reality Zone.

Excerpt -  Tony Blair, with the blood of Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine dripping from his fingers, says Egyptian dictator Husni Mubarak is “immensely courageous and a force for good.” The opinion is based on working “with him on the Middle East peace process.” Mubarak’s record on the pacification process involves helping the Palestinian Authority transform itself into a (stateless) police state apparatus, obstructing Fatah-Hamas reconciliation, and constructing, in concert with US army engineers, a metal wall underneath the Gaza border.
Under Nasser’s police state Egypt had no popular sovereignty, but it did have national independence. This was lost at Camp David in 1979, when Sadat signed peace with Israel, retrieved the occupied Sinai peninsula, and received the promise of billions of dollars of annual American aid. After Israel, Egypt is the second largest recipient of US aid. American funding of the military is the reason why top officers remain loyal to the regime despite all the humiliations (for Egypt lost its Arab leadership role long ago) and committed to the peace treaty, although Israel has reneged on its Camp David undertaking to provide a just solution to the Palestinian problem. In full here.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Cairo Revolt - 3rd February Video

One eye-witness said "Suleiman has not listened to the people's needs. We want Mubarak to leave immediately, not to stick around for another six months," said Mohamed Anis, 29, who works at the bourse.
"We have refused dialogue and negotiation with Suleiman until Mubarak steps down," he added.
The army's role in shaping events is crucial. Only on Thursday did soldiers set up a clear buffer zone around the square to separate factions after having held back. That did not prevent new clashes, as groups pelted each other with rocks. Sinister US and Israeli elements are not far away from the mayhem.

Moubarak Se Trompe Pour Pacificateur