US/NATO death squads killing indiscriminately in Afghanistan

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Burnt children after a NATO bomb attack. Their disfigured faces are the real face of war (by Maso Notarianni)

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By James Cogan

The New York Times reported this week that the overall commander of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan is seeking to impose tighter control over the activities of special forces units, after recent operations led to more civilian deaths. General Stanley McChrystal’s concern is not the deaths, however, but the manner in which they are fuelling Afghan hatred for the US-led occupation and their occasional exposure in the international media.

On March 5, McChrystal publicly released a portion of a directive he had issued—reportedly in late January or early February—which had placed conditions on the night raids that occupation troops regularly conduct on Afghan civilian homes.

McChrystal noted in his release: “Despite their effectiveness and operational value, night raids come at a steep cost in terms of the perceptions of the Afghan people. The myths, distortions and propaganda arising out of night raids often have little to do with the reality—few Afghans have been directly affected by night raids, but nearly every Afghan I talk to mentions them as the single greatest irritant. Night raids must be conducted with even greater care, additional constraints, and standardisation throughout Afghanistan.”

McChrystal’s directive stipulated new conditions, including the involvement of Afghan government forces in the raids; treating people with dignity; and informing victims as to how to get compensation for seized or damaged property. The cosmetic character of the order, along with that of an earlier directive calling for caution before launching air strikes, can be judged by the following incidents since early February:

* The London Times reported on March 13 that American special forces, accompanied by Afghan police, entered a housing compound near Gardez, in Paktia province on February 12. They killed a local police commander named Daoud, his brother and three women, two of whom were pregnant. His 15-year-old son was also shot.

According to an unpublished UN report obtained by the Times, the occupation forces broke in at 3.30 a.m. while Daoud’s extended family was celebrating the naming of a baby. The man who noticed them cried “Taliban”. Daoud and his son were gunned down as they ran into the courtyard to investigate. His brother, who recognised the assailants as Americans, was shot dead as he yelled in English “don’t fire, we work for the government”. The three women were killed by either a blast of gunfire that entered the house or, according to witnesses cited in a New York Times article, were gunned down as they attempted to help the men.

The UN report stated that the remaining people in the compound were “assaulted by the US and Afghan forces, restrained and forced to stand barefoot for several hours outside in the cold”. Daoud and his 18-year-old niece allegedly died of their wounds due to lack of medical treatment. Eight men were taken away and interrogated for four days before being released.

An initial press release by the US/NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) claimed that the three women had been “tied up, gagged and killed” before the special forces’ attack. ISAF later admitted the allegation was false and also that Daoud was not Taliban.

* On February 21, special forces in Uruzgan province called in a helicopter gunship strike on three trucks they were monitoring, killing 27 people. The occupants were all unarmed and all civilians. An anonymous NATO official told the New York Times: “What I saw on that video would not have led me to pull the trigger. It was one of the worst things I’ve seen in a while.” The nationality of the troops has not identified but the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) is the most active special forces unit in Uruzgan province. It has been blamed for a number of atrocities against civilians.

* According to the London Times, American and Afghan troops in February raided the home of Rahmatullah Sediqi, a 61-year-old shopkeeper in Ghazni province who had provided shelter to Taliban fighters the night before, reportedly under threat. The Taliban were gone. The occupation forces shot dead his wife and son.

* This month, a helicopter gunship fired a missile into the guest room of a housing compound in Karakhil village in Wardak province, killing three alleged Taliban insurgents. Locals claim that a landing party of occupation troops then entered the home and shot dead its owner, 32-year-old engineer Hamidullah, his wife and his son. Another child was seriously wounded.

The publicity given to McChrystal’s directive by the New York Times has all the hallmarks of a public relations exercise, intended to give the appearance that he is “reining in” special forces’ operations to protect civilian lives.
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McC-hrystal’s much-vaunted new strategy in Afghanistan is running into the throes of a crisis

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By I. M. Mohsin:

The payback for the atrocious policies pursued by the neocons appears to be on. General Stanley McC-hrystal’s much-vaunted new strategy in Afghanistan is running into the throes of a crisis. Starting with a massive attack on Marjah in Helmand, which put up traditional resistance, the tactical retreat of the ‘enemy’ occasioned rather optimistic reactions from the US high command. Perhaps playing to the gallery, the general announced that the whole of the southern part would be taken over by the US forces to “hold and build.”

Furthermore, Marjah itself is reported to be having an uneasy calm which is manipulated by the ‘cash flow’ being made to the local people to ingratiate them. No wonder all has been quiet on this front for about a fortnight, while some attacks against the foreign troops including the Bagram Bastion have taken place in other provinces. In the meantime, either as propaganda or strategy, it was indicated that the next push would be against Kandahar. Accordingly, several reports projected a massive mobilisation of the forces.

Consequently, last Saturday the Taliban launched awful attacks in Kandahar. As per the BBC, quoting AP, one local Muhammad Anwar termed it “like Doomsday for all of Kandahar people.” It killed atleast 35 people including some policemen, besides injuring double that number. Referring to McChrystal’s statement pledging to “trample the Taliban” in the area, AFP quoted Yousuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the ‘enemy’, as emphasising: “This was an answer to General McChrystal…this was to sabotage the operation and to show we can strike anywhere, any time we want.” Nevertheless, the situation in Kandahar is pretty grim and well reflects the ground realities. Although such statements from the general maybe meant to boost the morale of their forces deployed in the operation, as well as the American electorate, but apparently these are counterproductive.

The American policy in Afghanistan appears as an anomaly. On the one hand, it is pursuing – through their acolyte Karzai – to negotiate with the Taliban that would be mediated by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia’s. No wonder President Karzai has been running around to comply with the agenda set in Washington DC. On the other hand, military operations are being undertaken in the south to ‘wipe out the Taliban’. Unfortunately, the killings of civilians, as a result of such moves, get billed against the US.

It should be remembered that America’s massive military presence in the area is supposed to provide security to the local people. However, when that gets breached due to its actions or the enemy’s reaction, the Afghans are resentful. As a corollary, the recent spate of bombing in Pakistan has killed about 100 people with many injured. The people here have little faith in governance but they believe such depredations to be the outcome of our support for the US war; so while Lahore saw a deadly spectacle like Kandahar last week, the point-scoring among politicians was an affront to the nation.

As such the US is losing considerable goodwill also in Pakistan. Some Pakistanis see the current set-up as being a proxy of the US which fans the extremism further. Still others, while appreciating the grit of our army and police are upset by US failure to provide the Pakistani forces with the latest equipments necessary for waging a successful campaign.

As if Afghanistan was not enough of a teaser, the trauma caused by the Israeli land grabbing in East Jerusalem and the rebuff given by Benjamin Netan-yahu to Joe Biden on the subject lately is the “most unkindess cut of all.” Biden, like Hillary Clinton, has been an effusive supporter of the Jewish lobby. Since the Obama Administration took-over, it has been trying to act goody-goody about all the violations of human rights committed by Israel against occupied Palestine. Despite the diplomatic overtures by Oba-ma’s special representative for Middle East, George Mitchell, the Israeli government has found it convenient to insult the US president by their defiance.
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Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land

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Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land U.S. Media & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: How Israel manipulates and distorts American public perceptions Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts. Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land carefully analyzes and explains how–through the use of language, framing and context–the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and Israeli colonization of the occupied terrorities appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one.

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