Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Mick Ware - Short Film Clip

Interview with Mick Ware here earlier in the month. Quicktime needed.

Guantanamo - Obamanic Depression

Of Barack Obama’s numerous unfulfilled promises, the failure to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is the most glaring and unpardonable. Not only does this prison, situated in a remote corner of communist Cuba, fly in the face of democratic principles, it has actually served to harden the resolve of America’s enemies due to the inhumane treatment of the detainees, some of whom are innocent.
According to a report by Human Rights Watch, "Washington has ignored human rights standards in its own treatment of terrorism suspects. It has refused to apply the Geneva Conventions to prisoners of war from Afghanistan, and has misused the designation of 'illegal combatant' to apply to criminal suspects on U.S. soil."
On May 25, 2005, Amnesty International released its annual report calling the detention facility the "gulag of our times."
Meanwhile, Lord Steyn, a prominent judge in the United Kingdom,  called it "a monstrous failure of justice," because "… The military will act as interrogators, prosecutors and defense counsel, judges, and when death sentences are imposed, as executioners. The trials will be held in secret. None of the guarantees of a fair trial need be observed."
Remember, Obama was going to reverse all of this insanity. And there is no question about: it is insane. Read more.

Recent Poll Shows That NATO Has Already Lost In Afghanistan

From Reality Zone Here.
The Afghan People -- on whose behalf we are fighting so valiantly -- are total ingrates and simply do not appreciate all that we're doing for them.  A poll of Afghan men released earlier this month by the International Council on Security and Development found overwhelming opposition to NATO operations in their country.  First there was this in Southern Afghanistan, where most of the fighting has taken place and where we are liberating residents from Taliban tyranny:
There there's this from Northern Afghanistan, long said to be the region most sympathetic to NATO's fighting:
The Taliban is widely unpopular among Afghans (though in the South, a majority oppose military operations against them); but whatever else is true, 8 out of 10 men, spread throughout all regions of that country, believe that NATO operations are bad for the Afghan people.  
So the decisions of the Afghan President are totally irrelevant (when it conflicts with what we want).  The views of the Afghan People are equally irrelevant.  But we're there to bring them Freedom and Democracy (while we decree their elected leaders' decisions "merely symbolic") and are fighting for their own good (even though virtually none of them recognize that).  What a great war, now America's longest and close to a decade old.  

Karzai Threatens War On NATO

"If they don't stop air strikes on Afghan homes, their presence in Afghanistan will be considered as an occupying force and against the will of the Afghani people." - Karzai
Karzai stressed that he had warned the NATO command after similar incidents “a hundred times” and that the situation must now change.
NATO responded to Karzai’s statements on Tuesday, saying the aerial strikes will not stop because “they continue to be necessary,” Associated Press reported. Spokeswoman for the alliance Oana Lungescu said the Afghan president’s concerns are taken very seriously and that NATO makes 'every effort' to avoid civilian casualties. 
This is the madness of NATO in full spotlight. They have learned nothing from the hundred massacres (it is actually much more than that) Karzai is talking about. They are going down the same path of insanity in Libya.

Now Zad Massacre - Update

Another Young Survivor of The Massacre
Aslam, a local elder of Nawzad district, told AFP he "lost 12 relatives while 10 others including children were injured" in the air strike. He said some shots were fired at ISAF helicopters which flew into the area, adding that the choppers returned after 10 to 20 minutes and fired rockets, killing the "innocent civilians". Distraught father Noor Agha said: "My house was bombarded in the middle of the night and my children were killed. The Taliban were far away from my home, why was my house bombed?"
The strike apparently followed an attack by militants on a US Marine base in Nawzad earlier on Saturday. It is no less than a reckless reprisal like many before it.
The deaths have been condemned by Afghan president Hamid Karzai who said he had warned US and Nato troops that their "arbitrary operations" were killing innocent people every day.The president's remarks follow the strike that killed a group of children and women in southern Helmand province. He said it would be the last.

"From this moment, air strikes on the houses of people are not allowed," Karzai told reporters in Kabul.
Nato says it never conducts such strikes without Afghan government co-ordination and approval. A spokesman for Nato said they will 'review their procedures' for air strikes given Karzai's statement but did not say that it would force any immediate change in tactics. This must be their 500th such 'review'.
"In the days and weeks ahead we will co-ordinate very closely with President Karzai to ensure that his intent is met," spokeswoman Major Sunset Belinsky said.
If Karzai holds to what sounds like an order to international troops to abandon strikes, it could bring the Afghan government in direct conflict with its international allies.
He said in a statement the incident was "a big mistake". He added: "It shows that attention is not being paid."
International Security Assistance Force Commander Regional Command South West Major General John Toolan said: "On behalf of the coalition, I offer our heartfelt apologies to the families and friends of those killed.
Separately, the governor of Nuristan on Sunday told AFP that 18 civilians and 20 police had been killed by "friendly fire" during US-led air strikes. 

Secret Police To Hunt For Fake Soldiers

But wait. Why be a fake veteran when you could be a fake ANA soldier on the ground? This could damage my Fake Veteran Regalia business (see earlier post).

By Habiburahman Ibrahimi 

Worried about Afghan soldiers and police who turn their guns on their own side, Kabul has assigned the intelligence service to keep a close eye on the armed forces.
The government ascribes a spate of attacks on NATO troops and Afghan officials to the Taleban infiltrating the Afghan National Army, ANA, and Afghan National Police, ANP, or masquerading as members by obtaining uniforms. Analysts say this has been going on for some years, but a spate of high profile deadly attacks has prodded the government into action.
Lotfullah Mashal, spokesman for the National Directorate of Security, NDS, said the agency would for the first time place units within recruitment centres and other facilities of both the defence and interior ministries, which control the ANA and ANP, respectively.
“Recent incidents have forced the NDS to work in close coordination with the defence ministry and the interior ministry,” he said, without detailing how this scrutiny would work.
The most recent case of its kind occurred on May 12, when an Afghan policeman killed two United States Marines in Helmand province in the south. On April 27, nine US military officers were killed by an Afghan pilot at Kabul airport.
Nine days before that, an intruder dressed as an ANA soldier got inside the defence ministry and shot dead two soldiers and injured seven other people before being killed. Officials said he was wearing explosives packed around his body, and had been trying to get to the minister, Rahim Wardak. A statement from the Taleban indicated that they believed – wrongly – that visiting French defence minister Gerard Longuet was also inside the ministry.
This attack came just three days after two attacks involving insurgents disguised as members of the security forces. A suicide bomber in military uniform killed five NATO soldiers, four ANA members soldiers and an interpreter at a military base near the eastern city of Jalalabad. The chief of police of Kandahar province, Khan Mohammad Mujahed was killed along with two of his staff when a suicide attacker dressed as a policeman got inside his headquarters.
The biggest single attack took place in the eastern Nangarhar province in February, when a Taleban member in police uniform entered a branch of Kabul Bank and killed 40 civilians and military personnel.
In cases such as suicide attacks, the obvious advance planning and the Taleban’s subsequent claim of responsibility indicate that either the attackers had joined the security forces as sleeper agents, or else they simply stole the uniforms.
In other cases, though, shootings seem to have occurred spontaneously after a dispute, with no obvious link to the insurgents. In the Kabul airport attack, for example, the Taleban claimed that the pilot concerned was a sympathiser, but his family and friends denied this.
As there is little that can be done to prevent security personnel running amok, the new measures seem mainly designed to weed out potential Taleban plants from the ranks.
A spokesman for the interior ministry, Zmarai Bashari, said that as well as getting help from the new NDS units, the police were introducing biometric data system to identify new recruits.
“After this system is activated, dangerous individuals will be prevented from joining the ranks of the police,” he said.
Defence ministry spokesman Zaher Azimi said a similar system using photographs, eye scans and thumb prints would be introduced at ANA recruitment centres.
He acknowledged that at the moment, recruitment offices did not have computer systems.
Azimi said the checks currently in place included background investigations and the requirement that two people vouch for each potential recruit. This to was to be strengthened so that the two people providing a reference would have to appear before the recruitment officers to be identified and registered.
A spokesman for the Taleban, Zabihullah Mojahed, told IWPR that the government had tried such measures before and they would not work, as the insurgents already had men inside the government armed forces.
“Many of our men have been placed in the national army and police ranks. We can use them whenever we want,” he said. “These measures will have no negative impact on operations by our future suicide attackers and our allies.”
Mojahed also sought to claim ownership of attacks not directly connected to the insurgents.
“Even military officers who aren’t in contact with us take up arms against the foreigners when they observe their cruelty – particularly that of the Americans – and cannot tolerate it. You have seen many examples of this.”
Some analysts argue that giving the intelligence service a stronger role will go some way to countering the threat of infiltration by insurgents. They recall the Soviet-backed regime of the 1980s, when the feared Khad secret service had an all-pervasive presence, making it difficult for the mujahedin to penetrate urban centres to attack government buildings.
Others argue that the NDS suffers from many of the weaknesses shared by the army and police.
“The army, police and NDS are not committed to the national interests of Afghanistan,” said one critic, Kabul University student Mohammad Ashraf. “All three institutions are divided into factional, tribal and linguistic groups. We have even heard of several cases where the army has fought against the police, and the police against the NDS. Coordination among them will never be assured. I believe these [new security] measures will only add to the problems.”
Even without infiltrating the armed forces, however, the insurgents can easily get hold of uniforms. They have been on sale in shops or tailoring workshops for many years, and thieves, kidnappers and drug smugglers habitually wear military gear.
Faruq, a criminal investigations officer with the Kabul police force, said action had been taken to close down businesses that had made or sold uniforms in the city.
One of those forced out of business, Nabi Jan, complained that the shutdown by police was a pointless exercise.
“I don’t believe the Taleban or anyone else has trouble getting hold of army and police uniforms if they want to,” he added.
Habiburrahman Ibrahimi is a freelance reporter in Kabul.

NATO Propaganda Examined

Monday, 30 May 2011

Afghan Families 'Will Be Compensated' - NATO

A Survivor of the NATO Raid on Saturday
Nato admitted killing nine civilians in Naw Zad district on Saturday, though local Afghan officials put the death toll at 14, including 12 children. After the attack, a delegation of villagers carried the bodies of eight children to the provincial governor’s house shouting: “See they aren’t Taliban!”, according to reports.
General John Toolan, commander of Nato forces in south western Afghanistan, said: “Any loss of life is a true tragedy and I extend my personal condolences to the families and friends of the US Marine, and to the people of Afghanistan for those who were killed or injured.
“The coalition takes each civilian injury or death extremely seriously. It is our top priority to prevent civilian causalities and we continue to improve our practices and strive to prevent these types of incidents from happening.”
He said a US Marine had been killed when his patrol was ambushed on Saturday and five attackers had fled to a compound where they continued to fight.
Airstrikes were called in on the building during the ensuing battle, but “unfortunately, the compound the insurgents purposefully occupied was later discovered to house innocent civilians”. The families of those killed would be 'paid compensation' he said.
It is clear this was a revenge attack for the Marine killed. A collective reprisal in other words. More on this to follow. Unlike many of the previous such civilian slaughter episodes by Nato, a large number of Arabic and European news agencies are following this massacre up. This is the only reason they took the trouble to issue their pathetic apology. They usually don't even bother.

Fake War Veterans - Get Your Merchandise Here

The gist of the Bush Doctrine was 'Fight them over there so we don't have to fight them over here.' But how much better and safer to pretend to have fought them (the terrorists, stupid) over there so we can all pretend to not have had to fight them over here. Which was always a pretence anyway, if you follow my drift. Here is a storehouse of the gnarliest merchandise which all the coolest fake veterans are wearing. Sad, do I hear you say? Hey, what could be sadder than the actual soldiers or mercenaries?  I sport a full set of medals myself and I don't even know where Kandahar is in Iraq. If you are the type of faker who wants his (or her) look to say 'I'm a now, cutting-edge sort of sad fantasist', get your credit card out and get yourself some of the action. Sorry, bad choice of words at the end there.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Film of Children Killed By Nato

Graphic details of latest NATO massacre. Film Clip.

Karzai In Last Warning To NATO

By my count (see dozens of previous posts) this is his 113th last warning. He now reads the condemnations of NATO massacres like the latest one off a card with standard wording. If he numbered the lame phraseologies he could phone up ISAF and save time by just saying 'Five, Nine, Three and Fifteen'. He could also put that out as a press release. NATO's inexaustible stock of weasel-phrases and dissemblings has not been dusted down yet for this particular bloodbath. They tend to wait until the press (and the world) have moved on before forgetting to report the findings of their numerous 'investigations'. More here.

Gil Scott-Heron - Proudly Remembered

Nato Airstrikes Kill Dozens of Civilians and Police

I don't recall even Ghaddafi's forces being accused of this level of carnage against civiians in recent times.US Marines in Helmand's Nawzad district called in air support after their base came under attack from small arms fire, the provincial government said in a statement.
"During the air strike, two civilian houses were targeted which killed 14 civilians and six others were wounded," it said.The statement said the dead included five girls, seven boys and two women.
"ISAF are aware of the reports that civilians were allegedly killed in an ISAF air strike," Major Tim James, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, told AFP.
"(The) Regional Command South West has sent a joint assessment team to the area to look into the allegation and they will issue their findings to the press."
Aslam, a local elder of Nawzad district, told AFP he "lost 12 relatives while 10 others including children were injured" in the air strike.He said some shots were fired at ISAF helicopters which flew into the area, adding that the choppers returned after 10 to 20 minutes and fired rockets, killing the "innocent civilians".According to him, five children, five men and two women were killed in the attack.
Separately the governor of Nuristan on Sunday told AFP that 18 civilians and 20 police were killed by "friendly fire" during US-led air strikes against insurgents in his troubled northeastern province.Nuristan was the scene of heavy battles last week between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. The police and civilians were targeted on Wednesday after they were mistaken for militants, Jamaluddin Badr said.
"The policemen were killed due to friendly fire," Badr said.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

AfPak - What Does The Future Hold ? (Pepe Escobar)

HT Reality Zone

Drone Attack Statistics

This is only a partial account of the metrics but it tells a story all the same. From the BBC.

Does 'Merika Have A Culture?

By Paul Craig Roberts. 
The culture of the United States is said to be a youth culture, which is defined in terms of entertainment:  sex, rock music or its current equivalent, violent video games, sports, and TVreality shows.  This culture has transformed the country and appears on the verge of transforming the rest of the world. There are even indications that secularized Arab and Iranian youth can’t wait to be liberated and to partake of this culture of porn-rock. America’s former culture–accountable government, rule of law and presumption of innocence, respect for others and for principles, and manners–has gone by the wayside.  Many Americans, especially younger ones, are not aware of what they have lost, because they don’t know what they had.
This was brought home to me yet again by some reader responses to my recent columns in which I pointed out that Strauss-Kahn, the IMF director (now former) accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, was denied the presumption of innocence.  I pointed out that the legal principle of innocent until proven guilty was violated by the police and media, and that Strauss-Kahn was convicted in the media not only prior to trial but also prior to his indictment.
From readers’ responses I learned that there are people who do not know that a suspect is innocent until proven guilty by evidence in a public trial. As one wrote, “if he wasn’t guilty, he wouldn’t be charged.”  Some thought that by “presumption of innocence” I was saying that Strauss-Kahn was innocent. I was accused of being a woman-hater and received feminist lectures.  Some American women are more familiar with feminist mantras than they are with the legal principles that are the foundation of our society. Full article here.

Karzai Tries To Ban Night Raids

KABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan president has ordered his defence minister to tell NATO that Afghan forces — and not the international troops — should be the one to carry out special operations and nighttime raids. Hamid Karzai's announcement on Saturday also says NATO should not proceed with any raids that have not been coordinated with Afghan forces. The move is meant to assuage rising popular anger over coalition searches and murderous nighttime raids of homes. NATO forces have faced violent protests over night raids on villages where they are trying to flush out insurgents.
It's unclear what immediate impact Karzai's statement will have. NATO and the US treat him with contempt as a general rule and are likely to ignore this move. NATO issued its usual weasel-worded statement saying the coalition understands it "must move from Afghan participation in night operations to Afghan forces having responsibility for night operations." This comes in a week when the principal US Military strategist, General Petraeus was severely criticised by a UK diplomat for the brutal black ops tactics (see earlier and post and here).

Friday, 27 May 2011

No Mutilating Corpses, Now

It's great when you have to tell potential contractors 'no mutilating corpses or torturing civilians'. Such an invitation would imply a whole lot of heavy duty, horror-style baggage. But here it is in all it's glory under the auspices of ISAF in Afghanistan. Surreal.
The Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan put 10 contracts forperimetersecurityup for bid on Friday morning. Hired guards, mostly Afghans, will keep watch over anyone who approaches the elite commandos’ remote outposts. The bases on which they’ll work range in size from tiny “village support platforms” staffed by a mere 12-man “A Team” to one near Kabul’s infamous Pol-e-Charkhi prison, but there are uniform expectations for would-be guards. Some of them read more like baseline conditions for membership in civilized humanity. So-called “Afghan Security Guards” are instructed, “Do not kill or torture detained personnel.” For good measure, if someone’s taken captive, “immediately turn over to U.S., Coalition or [Afghan forces].” Should they kill someone who poses a threat, there is to be “no booby-trapping, burning [or] mutilation” of their corpses.Afghans guarding U.S. bases don’t exactly have the best track record. A Senate report last fall found them getting into gun battles with one another for cash and doing favors for warlords and even Taliban. But indications that they’ve been murdering civilians, torturing captives and turning dead bodies into gruesome homemade bombs are few and far between. If those cases actually exist, it’s not stopped the task force from hiring Afghan guards to stand watch over their outposts.While the rules bar Afghan guards from conducting “offensive ops,” they’re still instructed not to “attack protected persons or protected places,” like “mosques, hospitals, cemeteries and schools.” So apparently they’ll spend some time off-base.Which leads to the most crucial instructions of all. “Fight only combatants,” the contract rules insist. “Destroy no more than the mission requires. Returned fire with aimed fire. Must limit/eliminate collateral damage to innocent civilians.”

10 Questions Andrew Marr Should Have Asked Obama But Didn't

Andrew Marr landed the big interview with the US president, Barack Obama, ahead of his state visit to Britain this week. He covered Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Israel but there are so many other things he could have asked. Here are ten questions Marr could have asked but didn't:
1) You've doubled the number of drone strikes in Pakistan that Bush ordered and civilian casualties are up, year on year. Do you have any regrets? Or remorse?
2) Why is Bradley Manning being held 23 hours a day in solitary confinement and denied access to underwear at night? Is that humane?
3) You promised to stop extraordinary rendition before you were president; but you haven't. Why?
4) Do you think the US can be a disinterested broker of peace in the Middle East, given the $5-6bn of annual support you give to Israel?
5) Why did you instruct your ambassador to the UN to veto a UN resolution endorsing official US policy against illegal Israeli settlements?
6) Given that you've intensified the war in Afghanistan and kicked off new war over the skies of Libya, do you think on reflection that you were the right man for the Nobel Peace Prize?
7) Will you be sticking to your original pledge to start pulling troops out of Afghanistan in July of this year?
8) Why isn't Gitmo shut yet? Who's to blame?
9) Do you believe in a "special relationship" with the UK? What's it based on? (And do you regret the jibe about "British Petroleum"?)
10) What's your response to those people who say you should have arrested an unarmed Bin Laden and brought him to trial?
Courtesy of the Staggers

Last of The Warlords Captured

Yes, the blood-stained war criminal was captured on most of the UK news outlets and particularly on Channel 4 on Thursday 26th May. After being incognito for many months, Tony Blair was caught on camera yesterday parroting the words not only of Barak Obama but also of Benjamin Netanyahu. The subject was of course Obama's absurd 'peace plan' (why not call it a road map or something soundbitey like that). Despite the mutually exclusive views which O and N have expressed, Blair seemed to think there was a lot to be said for both. He illustrated this by repeating verbatim what they had both been saying over the last week. Even by Blair's standards this was a toe-curling example of tying yourself in knots to be a useful retainer.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

UK Diplomat Attacks Petraeus

"He has increased the violence, trebled the number of special forces raids by British, American, Dutch and Australian special forces going out killing Taliban commanders, and there has been a lot more rather regrettable boasting from the military about the body count," said Cowper-Coles. He added that the use of statistics was reminiscent of the Vietnam war. "It is profoundly wrong and it's not conducive to a stable political settlement."  All absolutely true. More here.

Pay Cut For Paratroopers On Return From Afghanistan

This story is all over the media in one of these 'support our boys' slugfests which the newspapers do every few  months on slow news days. It strikes me that the MOD could save more money by asking them to jump out of aircraft without parachutes. There must be a saving there. How long before the people who join up see the realities of what it means? I suppose it could be argued that if they had the intelligence to do that they wouldn't be thinking of joining up in the first place.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Obama And His Game Of Tricks

Barack Obama wants it both ways. Like every United States president since Bill Clinton, who partially brokered the now-defunct Oslo Accords in 1993, he aspires to act as a trusted intermediary in the 63-year old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, while simultaneously pandering to America’s massive pro-Israel lobby. These clashing goals have spurred him to propose an array of conflicting claims and positions that, aside from being fundamentally incompatible, are often simply painful to observe.
Over the course of four short days in mid-May, he managed, in three separate addresses - at the US State Department, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the White House briefing room, and at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful flagship of the Israel lobby – to offer blatant discrepancies, of policy or omission, on nearly every aspect of the conflict. This jarring discord did nothing to bolster Washington’s role in the situation and, to careful listeners, reinforced its ultimate irrelevance to any genuine resolution of it. More Here from Reality Zone Blog.

Rise Of The British Neocons - The Death of Corporatist Britain

The British political system has become an uncomplicated instrument of power for a united neo-conservative class. The Liberal Democrats have been neutered by Clegg and New Labour still seeks to attack from the populist right. Our established political system is not fit for purpose – it no longer provides a forum for the airing of views very widely held by disparate groups in society, and for the fair and agreed resolution of courses of action. From Craig Murray here.

Obama's Speechwriters In Britain - Field Day For Claptrap

The 'special relationship' (see Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton W, Bush Jr.) has morphed into 'historic alliance' or 'essential' relationship. Essential to whom, you may ask. Only to the US in the sense they seek an endorsement from European countries in support of their militarist hegemony campaigns in the ME. The UK is happy to kowtow as ever. So is Sarkozy's France and Berlusconi's Italy. But the peoples of these countries would tell the US to go to hell if asked up front. So would most of the peoples of ME many of whom are trying to rid themselves of the very type of US toadies, satraps and sycophants that the European leaders are eager to be. But this is running well for Obama in the US media. Pictures with the queen and the royal newlyweds. Straight off the Oprah Whinfrey schmaltz-schedule and good for the re-election effort.
Meantime the US Congress gives a standing ovation to a warmongering Israeli leader who is thumbing his nose in America at Obama's sham 'Peace Initiative'. That's the real world. 

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

War Crimes In Afghanistan - It's A Multinational Effort

Polish prosecutor demands 12 years for Polish soldiers in Afghan war crimes case

Poland's military Prosecutor General demanded on Tuesday 12-year sentences for seven Polish soldiers who shot civilians in Afghanistan in 2007.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers fired a heavy machine gun and a 60 mm mortar at the village of Nangar Khel in the Paktika province, killing six civilians, including a pregnant woman and three children. Three other women were left badly injured.
The troops say their commander ordered them to attack the village after their patrol was attacked by militants. If found guilty, the soldiers face between five and 12 years in prison for violating international law. The prosecution is demanding 12 year sentences for the accused commanders and from eight to ten years for the soldiers.
WARSAW, May 24 (RIA Novosti)

Obama Protest At Buckingham Palace

Without a trace of irony, President Barack Obama -- the commander-in-chief of an empire which straddles the world, who has more than doubled the troops in Afghanistan, who continues to occupy Iraq, who has dramatically escalated a deadly drone war in Pakistan and who is currently bombing Libya -- spoke last week of the “moral force of non-violence“ and said he “will not tolerate aggression across borders“. (SEE Choking on the Hypocrisy of Obama’s Hollow Platitudes: bit.ly/kBiFrl)
Obama is currently waging three wars which are opposed by the majority of people in Britain and the United States -- in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. He has already, in his first two years in office, attacked six countries -- two more than George W Bush.
This is why Stop the War, CND and other organisations have organised an anti-war protest at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 24 May, at 5. 30pm, when Obama is on a state visit to Britain, with bed and breakfast provided by the Queen.
The protest will call for the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, an immediate end to the bombing of Libya and freedom for Palestine, which yet again was let down in Obama’s speech last week by rhetoric which far outstripped any indication that he is going to do anything to stop Israel’s countless violations of international law.


Called by Stop the War Coalition, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Justice for Bahrain Campaign.

Obama In Britain - A Very British Relationship

After the Barney O'Bama show in Ireland, O rolls up in the UK today and there will be much talk of craven 'special relationships' and sycophancy 'closest allies'. The 'special relationship'* has been expensive for the UK and with what exactly to show for it? The US military ignores the hapless British Army in Afghanistan as they did in Iraq and are doing in the morass in Libya. Politically there is nothing for Cameron other than a few photo  opportunities to pretend he is a world player. Obama meantime can pose as the world policeman he now conceives himself to be in the light of the 'takedown' of OBL. Good footage for him back home in the early moves for next year's election. It's hard to see a downside for him in the visit. There are many for us

*Definition: Special Relationship - an arrangement whereby a small country supports US and Israeli foreign policy no matter what they do.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Cables From Kabul


For three years, from 2007 until 2010, Sherard Cowper-Coles was on the diplomatic front line in Kabul, as the crisis in Afghanistan deepened. First as the British Ambassador and later as the Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative, he witnessed at first hand the struggle to contain the Taliban in Helmand, which cost the lives of hundreds of British soldiers, and the political negotiations at the highest level of government. In Cables From Kabul he offers a stinging rebuke both to the military and political leaders for the failure to create a coherent strategy in Afghanistan. He accuses the British army of submitting misleadingly optimistic reports on the war, and argues that the American and British governments should have recognised that the only way forward was to involve the Taliban in direct talks.
Cables From Kabul: The Inside Story of the West’s Afghanistan Campaign is published by Harper Press.

War On Terror Post Bin Laden

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - But closing this chapter on terrorism has raised a myriad of questions about the most effective ways to deal with looming problems ahead. What will the Obama administration make of this event? Will it intensify its military involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or will it reduce that presence in the wake of Bin Laden’s killing? How will the complex U.S.-Pakistan relations proceed from here? Is Pakistan a sanctuary for terrorists and their network affiliates? Is the Obama administration determined to avoid any rupture in relations that could endanger the counterterrorism network that it has so painstakingly constructed in Pakistan over the last few years?
There can be no doubt that the killing of Bin Laden is a major setback for Al-Qaeda. This transnational, decentralized, and ideological terrorist network, however, is likely to continue striking Western targets in the future. While Bin Laden and his terror network provided the much needed alibi for the Bush administration to launch its costly and counterproductive military incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq—wars from which Al-Qaeda and its leaders benefited immensely by recruiting their foot soldiers -- his demise could and should open a new dialogue about the way forward.
Perhaps the most crucial question relates to the extent to which Pakistan has been a sanctuary for members of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. If Pakistan’s involvement has been extensive, then the center of gravity of terrorism has clearly shifted away from Afghanistan to Pakistan. Since 9/11, the U.S. government has given $10 billion worth of military aid to Pakistan. The fact that Osama bin Laden lived in a compound near a well-known military academy, not too far from Islamabad, has raised questions about whether the Pakistani army or intelligence is incompetent or under a more sinister assessment whether they have been in cahoots with the terrorists. Both the Pakistani army and intelligence officials deny any knowledge of Bin Laden’s location -- a claim impossible to verify or repudiate at the moment. Given the multiple centers of power in Pakistan and the complexity of Pakistani politics, U.S.-Pakistan relations remain strained. What accounts for the problematic nature of these relations is the schizophrenic frame of mind in which they treat each other: There is no trust between them, and yet they cannot abandon each other. Pakistan needs cash and arms from the United States, and Washington needs Islamabad’s assistance in bringing about some modicum of stability to Afghanistan by creating a reconciliation of sorts with the Taliban.
It is worth noting that the recent Arab revolts in North Africa and the Middle East have already undermined Al-Qaeda’s narrative of violent change. To restore their sense of lost dignity, the vast majority of the people in the Middle East have chosen the counter-narrative of peaceful democratic change, as evidenced by the 2011 uprisings. Victory in the so-called “war on terror” will be only attainable if the United States and the rest of the Western world support pro-democracy movements and uprisings in the region, rather than supporting despotic regimes under the rubric of “stability” and “security.” Support for corrupt, autocratic, and oppressive regimes in the name of the “war on terror” will almost always foster more and more extremism, forcing the American people to bear hefty costs of fighting ongoing wars. Addressing the political and economic grievances of the people in the region is the most effective tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Let us not get confused in the fog surrounding the killing of the leader of a terrorist organization, whose narrative has already collapsed into irrelevance.
Mahmood Monshipouri is professor of International Relations at San Francisco State University. He is working at a book entitled Terrorism, Security, and Human Rights (forthcoming).

Sunday, 22 May 2011

US-led soldiers 'kill' Afghan man

Sat May 21, 2011 10:26AM
US troops in Afghanistan (file photo)US-led foreign forces in the Afghan province of Logar have handed over the body of a local man to his family with his hands cut off.

Local officials in Charkh district said on Saturday that Amir Mohammad, 65, had been in custody of foreign forces for six days over alleged links to the Taliban, a Press TV correspondent reported.
Abdul Vali Vakil, head of Logar's provincial council, said Mohammad had no connection with militants and “was an innocent citizen.”
Residents say Mohammad's family was so shocked and angry at the atrocity that they did not want to take the body.
American soldiers operating under the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) are stationed in Logar.
The Afghan detainee's death comes after hundreds of Logar residents took to streets on Friday for a third day to condemn night raids in the region carried out by foreign forces.
Protesters were angry at the detention of two civilians by NATO forces and vowed to continue protests until the detainees are released.
In another incident, at least 11 protesters were killed and more than 50 were injured in Afghanistan's northern city of Taloqan on Tuesday night. Protesters were rallying in front of a German base in the city to express anger at the killing of civilians by foreign forces when German soldiers opened fire on them.
This comes at a time when Petraeus made his annual 'take it easy with the civilian killings' speech as the civilian victim toll continues to rise.

NATO Forces Shoot Afghan Official

US-led forces have shot and injured the spokesman for the provincial governor of Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, as he was entering his office.

Spokesman Zalmay Ayoubi said on Sunday that he was shot in the leg by the US-led troops as he was entering his office at the government's heavily-guarded compound, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The provincial spokesman added that the incident occurred after he refused to allow US-led forces to frisk him. He added that the US-led forces have been tasked with providing the security of the office of Kandahar's governor following the recent violence in the Afghan province, but they are not allowed to frisk the officials.

Two weeks ago, militants attacked the heavily guarded compound of the governor, leaving several people injured.