GET OUR E-MAIL UPDATES. JUST SEND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO US WITH THE WORD SUBSCRIBE IN THE SUBJECT LINE SEARCH SITE MAIN PAGE LATEST UNDERNEWS ABOUT THE REVIEW EMAIL US The Progressive Review AFGHANISTAN - PAKISTAN NOTES
A January 2009 poll found only 39% of the public wanting to increase US troops in Afghanistan. 29% wanted to decrease troops and 32% wanted the troop level to stay is it was.
Almost 80% of all supplies for Afghanistan pass through Pakistan.
It costs the Pentagon $2 billion per month to support the American troops. .
Matthew Rosenberg, NY Times, Aprl 2013 - For more than a decade, wads of American dollars packed into suitcases, backpacks and, on occasion, plastic shopping bags have been dropped off every month or so at the offices of Afghanistans president courtesy of the Central Intelligence Agency.
All told, tens of millions of dollars have flowed from the C.I.A. to the office of President Hamid Karzai, according to current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.
We called it ghost money, said Khalil Roman, who served as Mr. Karzais deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005. It came in secret, and it left in secret.
American and Afghan officials familiar with the payments said the agencys main goal in providing the cash has been to maintain access to Mr. Karzai and his inner circle and to guarantee the agencys influence at the presidential palace, which wields tremendous power in Afghanistans highly centralized government.
Afghan officials said the practice grew out of the unique circumstances in Afghanistan, where the United States built the government that Mr. Karzai runs. To accomplish that task, it had to bring to heel many of the warlords the C.I.A. had paid during and after the 2001 invasion.
By late 2002, Mr. Karzai and his aides were pressing for the payments to be routed through the presidents office, allowing him to buy the warlords loyalty, a former adviser to Mr. Karzai said.
Then, in December 2002, Iranians showed up at the palace in a sport utility vehicle packed with cash, the former adviser said.
The C.I.A. began dropping off cash at the palace the following month, and the sums grew from there, Afghan officials said.
Payments ordinarily range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, the officials said, though none could provide exact figures. The money is used to cover a slew of off-the-books expenses, like paying off lawmakers or underwriting delicate diplomatic trips or informal negotiations.
This wont come as much of surprise to long term Review readers. Beginning in 2001 we began running stories on Karzai and his connections with the CIA, among other things. Here are some of the items we ran:
Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun, 2001 - Last week's much-ballyhooed Afghan "unity" conference in Germany produced precisely what this column predicted: a sham "coalition" government run by the Northern Alliance. One of the CIA's Pashtun "assets," Hamid Karzai, who represents no one but himself, was named prime minister. There was no other real Pashtun representation, though they comprise half the population . . .
Bill Gertz, Geostrategy, 2001 - U.S. officials said Afghanistan's new interim leader, Hamid Karzai, has a long history of contacts with both the CIA and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence service, known as ISI. The connections are said to be the reason Karzai was the candidate most acceptable to the United States and Pakistan. Karzai will head the new government over the next six months. Karzai and several brothers own a chain of restauraunts in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston and Baltimore. They have residences in Quetta, Islamabad and Peshawar . . . Karzai met the late CIA Director Bill Casey when Casey made one of his numerous trips to Pakistan during the U.S. covert operation to back mujahideen rebels against the Soviet Union during the 1980s. His ties to ISI are based on connections to former ISI Director Akhtar Abdur Rahman Khan and date to the early 1980s. Karzai, a moderate Msulim, and his father, Abdul Ahad Karzai, were befriended by ISI in the early 1980s.
Wayne Madsen, 2002 - According to Afghan, Iranian, and Turkish government sources, Hamid Karzai, the interim Prime Minister of Afghanistan, was a top adviser to the El Segundo, California-based UNOCAL Corporation which was negotiating with the Taliban to construct a Central Asia Gas (CentGas) pipeline from Turkmenistan through western Afghanistan to Pakistan. Karzai, the leader of the southern Afghan Pashtun Durrani tribe, was a member of the mujaheddin that fought the Soviets during the 1980s. He was a top contact for the CIA and maintained close relations with CIA Director William Casey, Vice President George Bush, and their Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence Service interlocutors. Later, Karzai and a number of his brothers moved to the United States under the auspices of the CIA. Karzai continued to serve the agency's interests, as well as those of the Bush Family and their oil friends in negotiating the CentGas deal, according to Middle East and South Asian sources. When one peers beyond all of the rhetoric of the White House and Pentagon concerning the Taliban, a clear pattern emerges showing that construction of the trans-Afghan pipeline was a top priority of the Bush administration from the outset. Although UNOCAL claims it abandoned the pipeline project in December 1998, the series of meetings held between U.S., Pakistani, and Taliban officials after 1998, indicates the project was never off the table.
During the late 1990s, Karzai worked with an Afghani-American, Zalmay Khalilzad, on the CentGas project. Khalilzad is President Bush's Special National Security Assistant and recently named presidential Special Envoy for Afghanistan. Interestingly, in the White House press release naming Khalilzad special envoy, no mention was made of his past work for UNOCAL. Khalilzad has worked on Afghan issues under National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, a former member of the board of Chevron, itself no innocent bystander in the future CentGas deal . . . Khalilzad's efforts complemented those of the Enron Corporation, a major political contributor to the Bush campaign. Enron, which recently filed for bankruptcy in the single biggest corporate collapse in the nation's history, conducted the feasibility study for the CentGas deal . . . A chief benefactor in the CentGas deal would have been Halliburton, the huge oil pipeline construction firm that also had its eye on the Central Asian oil reserves. At the time, Halliburton was headed by Dick Cheney. After Cheney's selection as Bush's Vice Presidential candidate, Halliburton also pumped a huge amount of cash into the Bush-Cheney campaign coffers. And like oil cash cow Enron, there were Wall Street rumors in late December that Halliburton, which suffered a forty per cent drop in share value, might follow Enron into bankruptcy court.
Peter Symonds, Bangkok Post, 2002 - A little publicized agreement signed in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad has highlighted once again the real motives behind the US military intervention into Afghanistan - access to and domination of Central Asian oil and gas. The deal between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Central Asian republic of Turkmenistan establishes the basis for construction of a $1.9 billion pipeline from the Turkmen natural gas fields at Daulatabad through to the south-western Pakistani port of Gawadar. A parallel oil pipeline as well as road and rail connections are also being considered, along with processing facilities at Gawadar to enable the shipment of liquefied gas. All three leaders _ new Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov _ anticipate substantial benefits from the project.
Richard Gwyn, Toronto Star, 2002 - A few weeks back, Zahir Shah, the former king of Afghanistan who was brought back to Kabul - he has a palace in the capital but no actual powers - to provide at least an image of continuity, talked with an Italian reporter form La Stampa in what he thought was an off-the-record conversation. As always, it's when people aren't talking from a script that they're most likely to talk the truth. The war against the remnants of the Taliban and Al Qaeda had become, "stupid and useless," remarked the ex-king. "The sooner it is ended the better."
Two recent news items confirm just how prescient was the old guy despite his age and his many years in exile. The first is the report that Afghan civilian deaths as a result of U.S. over-reliance on high technology - the same push-a-button-from-a-safe-distance tactics that resulted in the deaths of four Canadian soldiers - has now reached more than 400, with many more wounded, sometimes seriously. The second is this week's announcement in Washington that American troops will take over from Afghan soldiers responsibility for the security of President Hamid Karzai, the country's ruler who was appointed to that post (nominally, he was elected locally) by Washington. Call it the Vietnamization of the war against terror.
MORE KARZAI BACK STORY
NY Times, 2009 - Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the countrys booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.
The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzais home.
The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about Americas war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.
The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate Americas increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.
More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.
Tom Lasseter, McClatchy, 2009 - The ride to Kandahar airport was tense. The Afghan president's brother had just yelled a litany of obscenities and said he was about to beat me.
Ahmed Wali Karzai is feared by many in southern Afghanistan, and being threatened by him, in his home, isn't something to be taken lightly.
In a place like Kandahar, I try to take precautions letting my beard grow and wearing the traditional Afghan outfit of baggy pants and a long tunic but at the end of the day, there's no protection when the most powerful official in the region orders you to leave.
So after a quick consultation with locals, I decided to do just that.
I was in my third week of tracking down former Afghan officials and asking them about drugs and corruption. Several had mentioned Karzai, President Hamid Karzai's brother and the head of Kandahar's provincial council.
After talking with poppy farmers, a drug dealer and former officials in Kandahar, it was time to see Ahmed Wali Karzai.
Sitting in his home, Karzai said up front that he had nothing to do with drugs. The political enemies of his brother, the president, were spreading rumors: "I am just the victim of their politics, that's all," he said.
I flipped from one page to the next of my notebook, and started with specifics.
Dad Mohammed Khan, a former national intelligence directorate chief of Helmand province, told me that Karzai had sent an intermediary to force him to release a Taliban commander who'd been arrested in a major drug-trafficking area. Khan was killed by a roadside bomb after our interview.
"He died, so I don't know if he told you that," Karzai said, looking unhappy with the question.
He added: "He's dead, so let's leave it there."
I moved on to a second former security official from the region I had jotted a long list of names who'd also made allegations about Karzai.
Karzai said that the official "is alive, I can find him and talk to him." He called for one of his men to bring a cell phone.
He began to glare at me and questioned whether I was really a reporter.
"It seems like someone sent you to write these things," he said, scowling.
Karzai glared some more.
"You should leave right now," he said.
I stuck my hand out to shake his; if I learned anything from three years of reporting in Iraq and then trips to Afghanistan during the past couple of years, it's that when things turn bad, you should cling to any remaining shred of hospitality.
Karzai grabbed my hand and used it to give me a bit of a push into the next room. He followed me, and his voice rose until it was a scream of curse words and threats.
I managed to record just one full sentence: "Get the (expletive) out before I kick your (expletive)."
I won't describe the rest, because it involves the Afghans I was working with, none of whom wants to risk revenge in a country where feuds often end in blood.
Once I was at the airport, there were still several hours until the flight and I had only fuzzy ideas of what to do if the plane to Kabul were canceled, a common occurrence.
I was with my Afghan colleague, and neither of us talked much. It's a routine that we've worked out, the silence in which we collect ourselves and let the fear settle.
After several hours of delay there was speculation about whether there was no fuel, or a government minister was running late the plane finally took off.
I looked out the window, and there was Kandahar below. A few minutes later, I looked again, and it was gone, leaving only the darkness of the Afghan night. The trip back to Kabul was a quiet one.
51% Want All U.S. Troops out of Afghanistan next year
Troops may stay in Afghanistan
American troops protecting
the poppy fields of Afghanistan
One of 18 photos obtained by LA Times
US Marines in Afghanistan sport Nazi flag
War is obsolete. The last time someone surrendered was Japan and that was 60 years ago. The Afghans will never surrender. We will just get tired and come home. - Ted Turner
How to tell you're no longer an empire
John Mueller, Foreign Affairs: An al Qaeda computer seized in Afghanistan in 2001 indicated that the groups budget for research and weapons of mass destruction, almost all of it focused on primitive chemical weapons work, was some $2,000 to $4,000.
before it was liberated by the U.S. military.
US troop levels the Afghan war - 2003 through the planned increase - laid alongside US troop levels in Vietnam during 1960-1965
1. The planning of 9-11 was done in hotels and apartments in Germany and Spain, and flight schools in the United States. Even Paul Pillar, former CIA deputy chief for counter-terrorism will tell you that an al Qaeda base in Afghanistan would not significantly increase threats to the United States.
2. If the Taliban had control of Afghanistan, it would likely not allow al Qaeda in. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. president's guy in Afghanistan, will tell you the same.
3. The Taliban would not necessarily gain full control of Afghanistan if the United States left. It never had it before, and appears unlikely to be able to take it now. These three points, as Robert Naiman has pointed out, make the leap from US withdrawal to an al Qaeda attack on the United States quite a large one.
4. Occupying and bombing Afghanistan is actually making us less safe. It is enraging people against the United States, building the Taliban and other resistance.
5. The occupation is also damaging the rule of law. Our engagement in this illegal enterprise makes it more difficult to prevent other nations from engaging in wars of aggression.
6. The occupation is not benefiting the Afghan people. It is not protecting their rights or their lives. It is brutally taking their lives with bombs and imprisoning them without charge or trial or the rights of prisoners of war.
7. The Taliban is made up of poor people fighting in order to eat. They need aid, diplomacy, jobs, education, and resources, not bombs and troops and mercenaries. We're paying tens of thousands of Afghans to fight as mercenaries. We could pay them to rebuild their country and have money to spare.
8. That we are supposedly succeeding against al Qaeda when arguments are needed to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act, but supposedly failing against al Qaeda when it's time to continue or escalate wars is insulting, not credible.
9. The citizens of the United States oppose the war, and it's our money and our kids, and our country being placed in danger of blowback.
10. The people of Afghanistan, according to an ABC News poll, want the United States to withdraw. It's their country, and you cannot impose democracy on them without obeying their majority opinion.
11. If we've been through eight years of this and not been able to even devise a rough description of what a "success" would look like, what are the chances that it will be identified and achieved in year nine?
12. It's called the graveyard of empires for a reason.
13. Our states' militias, the national guard, are needed at home and cannot constitutionally be sent abroad to fight for empire.
14. US soldiers signed up to defend the United States, not to commit war crimes in distant lands.
15. There is nothing worse than war that could conceivably take its place. Killing people is the worst thing there is.
David Swanson is the
author of the new book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency
and Forming a More Perfect Union"
Asia Times - [An] intelligence assessment shared by Moscow reveals that almost half of the US supplies passing through Pakistan is pilfered by motley groups of Taliban militants, petty traders and plain thieves. The US Army is getting burgled in broad daylight and can't do much about it. Almost 80% of all supplies for Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. The Peshawar bazaar is doing a roaring business hawking stolen US military ware, as in the 1980s during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. This volume of business will register a quantum jump following the doubling of the US troop level in Afghanistan to 60,000.
AFGHANISTAN: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?
PROGRESS REPORT In a press conference, President Bush said, "I think we're making progress in Afghanistan" -- days after President Hamid Karzai was the subject of an attempted assassination plot. The Interior Ministry said the Taliban, nearly vanquished from the country in 2001, admitted to launching the attack. These rounds of violence are the latest in what has been an eroding situation over recent years. . .
2007 was the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001, with 6,000 killed in the country. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said violence in 2008 "may well reach a higher level than it did in 2007," as insurgents pour in from Pakistan. "This year won't be different," he said. The attempted assassination of Karzai "came as the latest sign of a trend" that the insurgency in Afghanistan "is spreading from the Taliban stronghold of the south to the central and northern regions of the country," Christian Science Monitor reported this week. Furthermore, "there is no security force in Afghanistan that people trust," according to member of parliament Ramazan Bashardost. He added that, after a recent attack, "the security forces fled the area before the ordinary people did." Afghanistan also has rates of illiteracy "among the highest in the world," a "weak and corruption-ridden government," and still retains the world's largest opium poppy crop.
According the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, "Western countries have failed to deliver $10 billion of nonmilitary assistance pledged to Afghanistan over the last six years and the United States, by far the biggest donor, is responsible for half of the shortfall." Funding for Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which Bush "has called the leading edge of stabilization efforts," is "ad hoc and comes from so many sources that congressional investigators were unable to determine how much has been spent," a House Armed Service Committee report said last week. Overall, 42 percent of Afghans rate U.S. efforts in Afghanistan positively," down from 68 percent in 2005 and 57 percent last year, according to a December ABC News poll.
AFGHAN ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF IS DRUG DEALER
JUSTIN HUGGLER, INDEPENDENT, UK - Afghanistan's new anti-corruption chief has a shady past. Izzatullah Wasifi served nearly four years in a US prison for trying to sell heroin to an undercover agent in Las Vegas for $65,000. It is not the ideal CV for a man appointed to root out corruption in the country that is overwhelmingly the world's biggest supplier of opium, from which heroin in refined.
UN CHIEF: NATO CANNOT DEFEAT TALIBAN BY FORCE
GUARDIAN - NATO "cannot win" the fight against the Taliban alone and will have to train Afghan forces to do the job, the UN's top official in the country warned yesterday. "At the moment NATO has a very optimistic assessment. They think they can win the war," warned Tom Koenigs, the diplomat heading the UN mission in Afghanistan. "But there is no quick fix." In forthright comments which highlight divisions between international partners as NATO battles to quell insurgency, Mr Koenigs said that training the fledgling Afghan national army to defeat the Taliban was crucial. "They [the ANA] can win. But against an insurgency like that, international troops cannot win."
JUST WHAT AN AFGHAN FARMER NEEDS
PR WATCH - Hill & Knowlton will head "a complex $3.8M PR effort" for the U.S. State Department, "targeting Afghan citizens and stakeholder groups to dissuade Afghan farmers from cultivating poppies and boosting global drug trade." Poppy production has soared since the 2001 U.S. invasion. Afghanistan provided 86 percent of the world's heroin in 2005, and "planting has significantly increased in 2006," according to a State Department official. Hill & Knowlton will "deploy communications through seven Afghan provinces" and "build capability" within the Agriculture, Interior and Counter-narcotics Ministries, by providing "communications professionals" and developing each ministry's own communications office. "Foreign and domestic media will be brought along" on poppy eradication missions, and "alternative livelihood efforts" will be promoted in the PR campaign. Current messages include, "Growing poppies is against Islam and harmful for the reputation of Afghanistan." Previous U.S.-funded PR work, by the Rendon Group and others, has been called costly and ineffective by Afghan officials.
OUR FORGOTTEN COLONY
PROGRESS REPORT - In a visit last month to Afghanistan, President Bush depicted the country as an unqualified success story, describing it as "inspiring." The reality is much more complicated and troublesome. A report released this month by the Council on Foreign Relations provides the grim details. The Council describes a country "challenged by a terrorist insurgency that has become more lethal and effective and that has bases in Pakistan, a drug trade that dominates the economy and corrupts the state, and pervasive poverty and insecurity."
Last year "was the deadliest [year] in rebel violence since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001." With the country on the verge of becoming "a disastrous situation," the United States is withdrawing troops and disbursements of financial assistance are declining. Counter-terrorism expert Steven Simon predicts, "There will likely be a crescendo of violence, focused largely on Kabul, this summer." It's time to face reality and change course.
Even the Bush administration "has now admitted that the insurgency [in Afghanistan] is growing and becoming more effective." Attacks "have increased in lethality, with increased use of tactics seen in Iraq, including suicide bombings, which...have quadrupled in the past year, and improvised explosive devises, whose use has doubled." . . . Some experts attribute the spike in violence to "a vast canvas of weakly governed and unprotected territory in which drug traffickers, feuding tribesmen and opportunistic criminals -- as well as Taliban gunmen on motorbikes and mysterious suicide bombers -- operate with increasing ease." Last year "1,600 people, including 91 U.S. troops, were killed...more than double the total in 2004." Violence is expected to increase further as "insurgents will try to test the NATO forces that are moving in to take over from more seasoned US military troops.
In 2005, Afghanistan produced 87 percent of the world's opium. With the exception of 2001, when coalition forces deposed the Taliban, opium production has steadily increased since 1995. Last year, the export value of the illicit opium was $2.7 billion, accounting for more than 50% of the Afghan economy. About 2 million Afghans (about 9% of the population) is involved in opium production. It's not hard to understand why. The average yearly gross income for an opium-growing family ($1800) is about nine times Afghanistan's average per capita GDP ($226). Ultimately, "efforts to stabilize Afghanistan will fail if the licit economy does not expand fast enough to provide enough employment, income, and investment to more than balance the loss of income from opiates."
The key to economic expansion in Afghanistan is reconstruction. In 2002-2003, per capita economic assistance in Afghanistan "was far below all Balkan operations, East Timor, and Iraq, and even below Namibia and Haiti" during the first two years of stabilization operations in those countries. . . One big problem: "much of the increase in aid has gone to the security sector, which has cost far more than projected." Richard Holbrooke, former Ambassador to the UN, noted, "With so much at stake, it is surprising that the administration asked for a pittance (about $40 million) for Afghan reconstruction in its recent supplemental, after the State Department and the U.S. Embassy requested about 10 times as much. Still worse, Congress compounded the lowered funding request by cutting the appropriation to $4 million."
A United Nations report concluded last year that Afghanistan remains one of the world's least developed countries, ranking 173rd out of 178 countries surveyed. For every 1,000 babies born in Afghanistan, 142 die before their first birthday. An Afghan woman dies in pregnancy every half-hour. Overall life expectancy is estimated at just under 42 years. Three-quarters of adults are illiterate and few girls go to school. But no problem haunts the country more than its displaced peoples - the UN estimates four million Afghans are refugees in Pakistan and Iran, and another two million are uprooted in their own country. The total, a fifth of the population, represents the largest refugee crisis in the world.
NY TIMES - Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, the source of most of the opium and heroin on
BACK AGAIN: THE RENDON GROUP TO SPIN AFGHANISTAN
DAILY SPIN - "The Pentagon has hired the Rendon Group to counsel and coordinate communications for Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "The U.S., according to the New York Times, wants to bolster the leadership of Karzai by promoting 'visible signs of reconstruction.' The paper reports that Karzai's government, in recent weeks, has issued 'choreographed announcements about hundreds of schools and clinics to be built or rehabilitated in the next few months.' Karzai and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the country's defacto CEO, made a media splash on April 17 with a ceremony to celebrate the planting of 850,000 trees as part of the 'greening of Kabul' campaign." But Afghanistan is far from the success story that the Bush administration has been projecting, according to a recent New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh. An unpublished report commissioned by the Pentagon found that "the victory in Afghanistan was not, in the long run, a victory at all," Hersh writes.
DISINFOPEDIA - The Rendon Group is a secretive public relations firm that has assisted a number of U.S. military interventions in nations including Argentina, Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Panama and Zimbabwe. Rendon's activities include organizing the Iraqi National Congress, a PR front group designed to foment the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
In May 1991, then-President George Bush, Sr. signed a presidential finding directing the CIA to create the conditions for Hussein's removal. The hope was that members of the Iraqi military would turn on Hussein and stage a military coup. The CIA did not have the mechanisms in place to make that happen, so they hired the Rendon Group to run a covert anti-Saddam propaganda campaign. Rendon's postwar work involved producing videos and radio skits ridiculing Saddam Hussein, a traveling photo exhibit of Iraqi atrocities, and radio scripts calling on Iraqi army officers to defect. . . According to ABC, Rendon came up with the name for the Iraqi National Congress and channeled $12 million of covert CIA funding to it between 1992 and 1996. Writing in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh says the Rendon Group was "paid close to a hundred million dollars by the CIA" for its work with the INC.
MS NEWS - Female performers in an Afghan province have been banned from performing on television and radio. According to Reuters, female entertainers have been declared un-Islamic in the Southeastern province. . . Earlier this year, for the first time in over a decade a video with footage of a famous Afghan female singer was broadcast on public television. The footage of the female performer came just a few weeks after the approval of Afghanistan's new constitution that endorses equal rights for women and men. However, Afghanistan's Supreme Court protested the video, stating that they were opposed to women singing. From 1992-1996, during Afghanistan's civil war, the Islamic mujahadeen did not allow images of women to be broadcasted on television. When the Taliban came to power in 1996, they banned television altogether
IRIN - Less than one percent of the money requested by US president George W Bush, in an overall funding request of US $87 billion to cover post-war activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, would go towards Afghan reconstruction, the representative of a leading NGO in the country said on Wednesday. . . A sum of just US$ 800 million has been earmarked for reconstruction in Afghanistan, forcing CARE to promptly issue a press statement, following the budget's announcement on Monday evening, suggesting that more priority appeared to be attached to Iraq - a country with at least some semblance of a physical infrastructure in place - than to Afghanistan
MEET YOUR NEW ALLIES
[Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum is a nasty piece of work, an Afghan warlord and drug lord who easily qualifies as an international war criminal. He'll be visiting Washington soon and you can expect the media to overlook his seamy side, perhaps giving the general a makeover much as the National Geographic did describing a piece by its writer Robert Young Pelton]
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - Though Dostum's name is almost always preceded in print by the seemingly oxymoronic "brutal warlord," Pelton paints a more benign portrait, calling the general "gentle" and "shy." . . . Dostum's appointment [to the new government] was met with understandable controversy, given his initial opposition to the interim government and his reputation for political infidelity - a reputation Pelton disputes. "Afghanistan is a collection of alliances. It's like Survivor on steroids," says Pelton. "You don't get to the top by being a traitor or by undermining people or backstabbing people. You get to the top by forming people around you who trust and support you." Among those people who came to trust and support Dostum were the 12 Green Berets assigned to the general. Pelton spent much of his several-week stay in their company and was "blown away" by what he saw.
[Now here is an excerpt from a document filed in federal District Court by lawyers for John Walker Lindh to support their motion that he be released from jail pending his trial on charges of conspiring with Al Qaeda to kill Americans]
JOHN WALKER LINDH FILING: In early November 2001, troops of the State of Afghanistan defending a battle line against Northern Alliance advances in the Takhar region retreated toward Kunduz. Mr. Lindh walked without rest for about two days, covering approximately 50 miles through mountainous terrain before arriving in Kunduz. Upon arrival, he was exhausted, severely dehydrated and in physical and psychological shock that impaired his ability to speak. On approximately Nov. 24, 2001, Mr. Lindh and others surrendered their weapons to troops under the command of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and were driven by truck to the fortress at Qala Jangi near Mazar-i-Sharif.
At Qala Jangi, Mr. Lindh was held prisoner by Dostum's forces. Dostum and his troops have a reputation for massacring, raping and looting prisoners. That reputation was known to Mr. Lindh and others. On or about Nov. 25, 2001, Mr. Lindh was seated on the ground in the area around the Qala Jangi fort with his hands bound behind him. At that time, he heard an explosion. When Mr. Lindh attempted to run, he was hit by shrapnel or bullets and fell to the ground, where he lay for some hours until he was helped into the basement of the fort by other prisoners.
Mr. Lindh remained in the Qala Jangi fort basement for about seven days until Dec. 1, 2001. During that time, Mr. Lindh had almost no food and very little drinking water. While Mr. Lindh was in the basement, Dostum's soldiers threw grenades through ventilation ducts, killing prisoners below.
At one point, Dostum's soldiers poured oil or diesel fuel down a duct into the basement. About 5 to 10 minutes later, Dostum's soldiers lit the fuel and also poured it into another area of the basement, in which prisoners were more tightly packed. Many prisoners died from the fire. Dostum's soldiers also fired large rockets into the basement through a ventilation shaft, killing many prisoners.
Toward the end of the week, Dostum's soldiers directed ice cold water through the ducts to flood the basement. As the water rose, Mr. Lindh was able to stand up with the help of other prisoners to avoid drowning. Around Mr. Lindh, other prisoners who could not stand were drowned. Wounded, starved and freezing, Mr. Lindh emerged from the fort on Dec. 1, 2001. He was dizzy and numb from the events and apparently still had shrapnel or bullets imbedded in his body.
YURY RAZGULAYEV, PRAVDA, November 2001: The Northern Alliance . . . have weaker funding sources, so they were earning their income from selling drugs. General Dostum had a factory producing heroin.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR - As the 1989 to 1995 civil war ground on, Dostum enjoyed an increasingly ferocious reputation. According to Ahmed Rashid's book, "Taliban," he once had one of his own soldiers - accused of stealing - tied to the treads of a tank and rolled to his death. In one Taliban attempt to take Mazar-e Sharif in 1997 - and again when they were retreating last fall - soldiers who might have surrendered or been captured seem to have wound up in mass graves. Only last month, prisoners being held in a jail here were found near starvation . . .
[DOSTUM] WAS suspected of earning huge profits by exporting drugs via Uzbekistan" - Cooley, Unholy Wars
ASIA TIMES, August 27, 1997 - The analytical unit of the Russian Federal Security Bureau recently issued a classified intelligence report on the current situation in the war-torn former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. The report pins the primary blame for the present aggravation of the military-political situation in the republic on the powerful Afghan warlords, and the Uzbeki warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum in particular . . . Why were Dostum's henchmen interested in perpetuating a destabilized Tajikistan? Simple, say specialists from the FSB: The Afghan warlords are interested in continuation of the civil war in Tajikistan because the violence and unrest facilitates the task of smuggling huge amounts of drugs into the republic and from there to Russia, Europe and North America. The report specifically emphasizes that drug trafficking is a primary source of income for different warring factions in Afghanistan. More importantly, of course, drug trafficking supplements the personal income of the leaders from the various Afghan factions -- including Taliban officials.