Posts Tagged ‘Army’

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Afghan Crunch Time: Obama Must Decide Whether To Talk To The Taliban

April 27, 2010

Ahmed Rashid

Before President Hamid Karzai arrives in Washington next month, President Obama has to make clear key decisions on the course of war and peacemaking in Afghanistan.

Neighboring countries and most Afghans believe that the endgame has begun for a post-U.S. Afghanistan. There are just 14 months for the U.S. military surge to show results while Washington simultaneously prepares to begin its July 2011 troop withdrawal and handover to the Afghan government. Already, efforts to jockey for future control of Afghanistan have been seen among Pakistan, India, Iran and even Russia. Several NATO countries eager to withdraw forces are frustrated. It is clear in the region that someone will have to mediate with the Taliban, but in the absence of U.S. leadership, a tug of war is taking place over who will do it, when, how and where.

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American Troops Pull Out Of Korengal Valley As Strategy Shifts

April 15, 2010

Tom Coghlan

American troops have withdrawn from a notorious valley in eastern Afghanistan that has seen some of the worst fighting of the war, with commanders citing a shift in strategy.

A low-key press release yesterday announced the “realignment” of US forces out of the Korengal Valley, where 42 American soldiers have been killed and hundreds wounded since 2005. One base established at the northern end of the six-mile-long valley will be retained to block a Taleban infiltration route.

“Repositioning forces from the Korengal Valley to more populated areas will allow us to have greater flexibility,” said Colonel Randy George, the commander of US forces in Kunar province. “The area was once very operationally important but, appropriate to the new strategy, we are focusing our efforts on population centres. We’re still able to conduct operations there, even without a base, like we do in other remote valleys.”

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U.S. Puppet Cuts His Strings

April 11, 2010

Eric Margolis

Henry Kissinger once observed that it was more dangerous being America’s ally than its enemy.

The latest example: the U.S.-installed Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who is in serious hot water with his really angry patrons in Washington.

The Obama administration is blaming the largely powerless Karzai, a former CIA “asset,” for America’s failure to defeat the Taliban. Washington accused Karzai of rigging last year’s elections. True enough, but the U.S. pre-rigged the Afghan elections by excluding all parties opposed to western occupation.

Washington, which supports dictators and phoney elections across the Muslim world, had the chutzpah to blast Karzai for corruption and rigging votes. This while the Pentagon was engineering a full military takeover of Pakistan.

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Afghan Officials Say Pakistan’s Arrest Of Taliban Leader Threatens Peace Talks

April 10, 2010

Joshua Partlow and Karen de Young

KABUL — Senior Afghan officials are now criticizing as counterproductive the arrest in Pakistan this year of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the No. 2 Taliban official. Its main effect, the Afghan officials say, has been to derail Afghan-led efforts to secure peace talks with the Taliban, making that peace ever more remote.

The episode offers a window into the mutual suspicions that still divide Afghanistan and Pakistan, mostly because of Pakistan’s long history of support for the Taliban, as well as differences between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States about how best to seek reconciliation between insurgents and the Afghan government.

Senior Afghan officials in the military and presidential palace accuse Pakistan of orchestrating the arrest of Baradar and others to take down Taliban leaders most amenable to negotiations. Some of them say that Afghans had been in secret contact with Baradar before his arrest and that he was prepared to join the 1,400 people descending on Kabul next month for a peace conference. Despite Afghan requests, Pakistan has refused to hand over Baradar and other Taliban leaders.

Pakistani officials flatly deny that they intended to derail Taliban talks. Such an allegation, one Pakistani intelligence official said, is a “slur on us.”

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Setbacks In Marjah As Taliban Regaining Control

April 6, 2010

Richard A. Oppel Jr.

MARJA, Afghanistan — Since their offensive here in February, the Marines have flooded Marja with hundreds of thousands of dollars a week. The tactic aims to win over wary residents by paying them compensation for property damage or putting to work men who would otherwise look to the Taliban for support.

The approach helped turn the tide of insurgency in Iraq. But in Marja, where the Taliban seem to know everything — and most of the time it is impossible to even tell who they are — they have already found ways to thwart the strategy in many places, including killing or beating some who take the Marines’ money, or pocketing it themselves.

Just a few weeks since the start of the operation here, the Taliban have “reseized control and the momentum in a lot of ways” in northern Marja, Maj. James Coffman, civil affairs leader for the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, said in an interview in late March. “We have to change tactics to get the locals back on our side.”

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Pakistan Army: Back On Top

April 4, 2010

WASHINGTON, March 29 (UPI) — It was Pakistan’s week in Washington with much talk of a new, deeper geopolitical understanding between the United States and a “major non-NATO ally.” The star was Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, and the country’s de facto politico-military power.

The Pakistani army has taken over from ineffectual, corrupt civilian governments four times since independence. This time, the civilians haven’t been ousted but outed as incompetent and irrelevant. President Asif Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto, is slowly ceding his frequently ignored powers and turning them over to Wazir-e-Azam (Grand Minister, or Prime Minister in Western governments) Yousuf Raza Gilani and his civilian government. But they can’t seem to keep major cities in around-the-clock electric power, let alone basic foodstuffs. Water shortages also plague Pakistan’s 175 million people.

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US Concern After Hamid Karzai Blames West For Afghanistan Election Fraud

April 3, 2010

Chris McGreal

President says governments trying to weaken him and that foreign troops risk becoming occupation force

The Obama administration said today it was “troubled” by accusations from the Afghan president that the west was trying to weaken him and that foreign troops risked becoming an occupation force.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said there was concern over a speech yesterday in which Hamid Karzai sought to turn charges that he stole Afghanistan’s presidential election on their head by blaming what he termed “vast fraud” in last August’s poll on an attempt by the UN and international organisations to deny him victory or discredit his win.

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