Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

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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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Taliban Defiant Following Marjah Operation

April 16, 2010

Hewad

KABUL – Recent operations by foreign and Afghan government forces in Helmand province had little impact on Taliban capabilities ahead of the summer fighting season, an insurgent commander has claimed.

Despite February’s assault by 15,000 troops on the Taliban stronghold of Marjah, its ranks are unhurt, uncowed and poised to retaliate, Abu Hamza, who claims to command 300 rebel fighters operating in southern Afghanistan, told the Institute for War and Peace Reporting in a telephone interview.

“We will inflict heavy casualties on the foreigners this year,” Abu Hamza, who is well known in the region, said. “We have not been defeated in Helmand … The foreigners are now surrounded in Marjah. We have only withdrawn tactically from some areas.”

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Reconciliation Strategies In Kabul

April 16, 2010

There is a window of opportunity for peace in Afghanistan. It has to be grabbed. For the first time in a decade the U.S. and the U.K. are acting in concert with Pakistan to proffer real solutions for Kabul. The former allies, turned protagonists, turned friends are once again on the same side–this time working for peace.

Mr. Karzai is once again calling his favorite friends for a big powwow which he calls a “Jirga” or tribal council. It is to be held in Kabul in two weeks. Pakistan is working with the UK and the US to ensure that this Loya Jirga represents all the Pakhtuns so that it becomes a vehicle for peace in West Asia. Islamabad has offered to hold a joint Loya jirga between the Afghan and Pakistani Pakhtuns. The last time Mr. Karzai hijacked the societal consensus for ending the war through the traditional means of a consultative assembly. Mr. Karzai used the grass-roots method to rubber stamp his own brand of government. Obviously the corruption, lack of peace, and loss on the ground has proven that a repeat of the previous methodology will not work.

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Pakistan Army Anger At NATO Border Tactics After Forcing Militants Out

April 15, 2010

Richard Beeston

Fresh from a bloody victory against the Taleban in this rugged frontier outpost, the commander of Pakistani forces has lashed out at the NATO operation across the border in Afghanistan, where he says hundreds of militant fighters have sought refuge under the noses of American troops.

Colonel Nauman Saeed, the commander of Pakistani forces in the Bajaur tribal agency, has led his men on a two-year campaign to drive out thousands of militants, including al-Qaeda members. He lost 150 soldiers during the operation, which culminated in a battle over the militant headquarters in a series of tunnels dug out of rock.

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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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