Barack Obama ordered 17,000 additional U.S. troops deployed to
Afghanistan. Obama's announcement will result in a major escalation of
America's bloody occupation of that war-ravaged country.
Currently, some 36,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, including some
6,000 sent in early January under orders by the outgoing Bush regime. In
addition to U.S. forces, 32,000 troops from other NATO countries and a
mix of private military contractors (armed mercenaries) occupy the
Central Asian nation.
When coupled with increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the Pentagon and
military strikes inside Pakistan, the prospects for regional war with
incalculable risks for the people of Central- and South Asia have put
paid Obamas' electoral hyperbole that his would be a change
In a brief written statement
issued by the White House, Obama declared that the situation in
Afghanistan and Pakistan demands urgent attention and swift action. The
Taliban is resurgent in Afghanistan, and al Qaeda supports the
insurgency and threatens America from its safe haven along the Pakistani
Responding to a months old request by General McKiernan and supported by
Secretary Gates, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Commander of Central
Command, Obama will soon dispatch a Marine Expeditionary Brigade
(8,000 troops), an Army Stryker Brigade (4,000 soldiers) and 5,000
Claiming that increased troop levels will contribute to the security of
the Afghan people,the White House studiously ignores reports from the
United Nations, international human rights organizations and from NATO
itself that the number of civilians killed by all armed actors increased
dramatically over the previous year.
A confidential report titled
Metrics Brief, 2007-2008, was published by Wikileaks.
Prepared by U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the International
Security Assistance Force (ISAF) for Afghanistan, the 12 page dossier
reveals that civilian deaths from the war in Afghanistan have increased
by 46% over the past year. According to the global whistleblowers,
report shows a dramatic escalation of the war and civil disorder.
Coalition deaths increased by 35%, assassinations and kidnappings by 50%
and attacks on the Kabul based Government of Hamid Karzai also more than
doubled, rising a massive 119%.
The report highlights huge increases on attacks aimed at Coalition
forces, including a 27% increase in IED attacks, a 40% rise in rifle and
rocket fire and an increase in surface to air fire of 67%.
According to the report, outside of the capital Kabul only one in two
families had access to even the most basic health care, and only one in
two children had access to a school. (Wikileaks releases NATO report on
civilian deaths, Wikileaks, Press Release, February 16, 2009)
While the majority of civilian deaths were attributed by the United
Nations to the criminal actions of the Taliban and the Afghan-Arab
database of disposable Western intelligence assets known as al-Qaeda,
some 828 of 2,118 civilians killed in 2008 were the result of
indiscriminate attacks by the Afghan military, U.S. Air Force bombing
and berserker American Special Forces units engaged in counterterrorism
and counternarcotics operations. According to The
New York Times,
report singled out special forces and other military units operating
outside the normal chains of command. That means their presence and
movements are not always known by regular field commanders.
Special forces groups like Navy Seals and paramilitary units operated by
the CIA often conduct raids in Afghanistan, and often at night.
The report also said that airstrikes that went awry were often those
that were called in by troops under attack.
The United Nations report helps shed light on one of the most divisive
issues between the American-led coalition and the Afghan government of
Mr. Karzai. (Dexter Filkins, Afghan Civilian Deaths Rose 40 Percent in
2008, The New York Times, February 18, 2009)
The growing carnage on the ground reflects the political crisis facing
the new administration as capitalisms' economic meltdown compel
corporatist masters to grab as much of the world's resources as possible
to stanch the economic bleed out.
But as in Iraq and the Middle East generally however, the Obama
administrations' surge across Central Asian will prove quixotic
Kyrgyzstan Gives America the Boot
As the politico-military situation rapidly deteriorates,
how the Pentagon will keep surged troops resupplied is fast becoming a
With critical supply routes from Pakistan cut by Afghan Talibs and
Pakistani Taliban fighters, who have launched coordinated attacks with
Central Asian and Arab al-Qaeda guerrillas, the virtual closure of the
Khyber Pass in the North-West Frontier Province has fueled a growing
logistical crisis. Prior to last Decembers'2008 offensive by insurgents,
some 75% of supplies for NATO forces flowed into Afghanistan along this
Adding to NATO headaches, on February 18,2009 Kyrgyzstans' rubber-stamp
parliament voted to close the Manas Airbase near the capital Bishkek.
According to The
The kleptocratic Bakiyev regime has been promised a $2.15 billion loan
and a debt write-off by Moscow in a move intended to wrest concessions
from the United States to keep the military hardware flowing. Asia
the end, transit salvation for the US and NATO is indeed coming from no
one else but Russia but on Moscows' terms: this means Russia possibly
using its own military planes to airlift the supplies. A deceptively
charming Medvedev has been on the record identifying very positive signs
in the new US-Russia chess match. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has
been on the record saying transit of US and NATO non-military supplies
through Russia begins in effect only a few days after the 20th
anniversary of the Soviets leaving Kabul. (Pepe Escobar, Obama, Osama
and Medvedev, Asia Times Online, February 20, 2009)
As investigative journalist Pepe Escobar points out, the price that
the United States and NATO will pay to have their supplies arrive from
Russia is being made painfully clear to Washington: no more
encirclement, no more NATO extension, no more anti-missile shield in the
Czech Republic and Poland for protection against non-existent Iranian
missiles. All this has to be negotiated in detail.
But in a potential move seen as a maneuver to bypass Moscow, The
that the new US administration had indicated that it was prepared
to talk to Iran about the Afghan situation.
No friend of the Sunni-based insurgency next door, nor of U.S.backed
jihadi groups such as Jundullah attacking from Pakistan, Tehran may be
willing to cut a deal with Washington. Independent journalist Kim
Sengupta writes that Italy, which assumes the presidency of the G8 this
year, said that Tehran would be invited to participate in a summit on
Afghanistan. The Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said: We want
to consider how to involve Iran, not whether to involve Iran.
But how this will play out may be determined by American stationary
aircraft carrier in the Middle East, Israel, and that country naval task
force in Washington, the powerful Israel lobby. And with Benjamin
Netanyahus' far-right Likud party given the nod by Israeli President
Shimon Peres to take the lead in forming the next government, it's an
even bet that Bibi may cut a deal with Avigdor Lieberman's neofascist
Yisrael Beiteinu party. Netanyahu and Lieberman have both threatened to
bomb Iran's civilian nuclear facilities, and have called that nation
Israel's number one "national security threat.
Pakistan, Jihadis and American Killer Drones
Meanwhile, on the Pakistan side of the Afghan pak theatre American former
best friends forever, the Pakistani Taliban grouped under the banner
of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the Tehrik Nifaz
Shariat-i-Muhammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law, TNSM)
have been doing some surging of their own.
Having successfully concluded a truce with the government of President
Asif Ali Zardari in the North-West Frontier Province Malakand District,
the nominally secular Pakistan Peoples Party has ceded the political
ground to Army and Inter Services Intelligence agency-linked militants
with long-standing ties to international terrorist outfits and drug
trafficking cartels. In other words, American allies.
But before the ink on the agreement had even dried, a television
journalist with Pakistani Geo network, Musa Khan Khel, covering TNSM
head honcho Maulana Sufi Mohammeds' triumphant entry into Mingora
February 17,2009 was brutally murdered. Riddled with bullets, his nearly
decapitated body was found on the side of a road shortly after the TNSM
leader announced that peace had come to the Swat Valley. Khel, according
to reports, had been seeking an interview with TTP emir Maulana
The News reported
February 20 that TNSM leaders are meeting with their TTP counterparts to
seal the deal to lay down their arms in lieu of the imposition of Sharia
law in Malakand.
In 2001, the peacemaker and self-proclaimed Sharia-lover
had led some 10,000 untrained volunteers across the border into
Afghanistan to fight the American-led narcotrafficking Northern Alliance
during the initial stages of the U.S. invasion. Drawn from madrassas
across Pakistan as disposable cannon-fodder for the ISI, thousands were
In the aftermath of the TTP and the Army's bloody operations Swat lay in
ruins, its people terrorized and its infrastructure all but destroyed.
Describing the region as a "hell-hole of bodies and ruin," The
Sunday Times reports
this context, The Nation reported
February 18 that the Cabinet Committee on Privatization approved the
(fire) sale sell-off of some 21 state-owned enterprises, including four
power companies and other state-owned entities including SME Bank,
National Power Construction Company, Pakistan Railways and Pakistan
Utterly bankrupt and bereft of imagination when its comes to
ameliorating the horrendous economic and social hardships faced by
Pakistani workers and farmers, the bourgeois PPP government following
"advice" from their mentors in Washington, will instead line
the pockets of their constituents, the multinational corporations and
the comprador elites who do their bidding.
The Swat truce follows revelations
by The Times that the "CIA is secretly using an airbase
in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and
attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants on the Pakistani side of the
border with Afghanistan.
While the Pakistani government has demanded that the U.S. halt drone
attacks in the area, The Times discovered "that the CIA has
been using the Shamsi airfield--originally built by Arab sheikhs for
falconry expeditions in the southwestern province of Baluchistan--for at
least a year.
The New York-based whistleblowing intelligence and security website Cryptome
published a series of satellite
images as part of their "Eyeball" series on
February 18. One image, captured in 2006 before construction of a
huge hangar meant to conceal American robot killing machines was
completed, show Predator drones on the Shamsi air strip.
According to Cryptome anonymous correspondent, This is a very
capable base facility with a large hangar in addition to the two
Predator support hangars. Nearby is a large secured compound (appears
empty) which could support up to a battalion of special ops and
associated command and control. The large parking area inside the
compound is perfect to land choppers and leave with relative security.
All security measures seem fresh."
a dramatic development,according to The
News, three prominent Pakistani militant
commanders--Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazeer--on
Friday set aside their differences and promised to jointly fight their
enemy in future.
Two of the three Pakistani Taliban leaders were considered
pro-government and had been recruited to fight Mehsud's TTP and their
al-Qaeda allies but have since been alienated from the state due to
persistent Predator attacks by the CIA from bases provided by Pakistan. The
the three men, who now rule South and North Waziristan tribal region in
true sense, got united, they could give a tough time to the government
The militants from Wana said now they had understood Pakistan's divide
and rule policy, and decided to get united and fight together against it
in future. "Pakistan caused more losses to the Mujahideen than the
US. It handed over 700 Arab Mujahideen to the US and jailed our people,
the commander alleged. (Mushtaq Yusufzai, Top militant commanders
resolve rift, The News, February 21, 2009)
Islamabad's double-game with the imperialist Dracula on the one hand and
the jihadi Frankenstein on the other demonstrates, if nothing else, the
impervious nature of the existing political system to change on all
sides of the "Afpak problem."
Barring a dramatic transformation of the political state of affairs, the
bill for American and Pakistani duplicity is coming due, and it will be
the people of South Asia who will pay a heavy price.
Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San
Francisco Bay Area. His articles can be read on Dissident
Intelligence Daily and Pacific
Free Press. He is the editor of Police State
America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning,
distributed by AK