Karzai's Lead Slips, Then 'Suddenly' is Restored in Contested Recount

On Friday, Reuters reported: "As counting in Afghanistan's presidential election neared its end, a dip in incumbent Hamid Karzai's lead has put more onus on an independent panel to decide if voting irregularities could have upset the result. The panel had called for a meeting on Saturday afternoon with candidates. But many remain sceptical about the process. 'We do not count on the panel... It is not the solution to our claims,' said Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai... The nearer Karzai slips to the 51 percent mark, the easier it will be for his opponents to claim multiple voting and ballot stuffing helped him over the line." Then, on Sunday, suddenly, Karzai's count was back up into the "safe" zone. Was this just a fluke, or was it Bush-style electioneering? Latest story is at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/3949147.stm

US Tactic of Disguising Soldiers as Aid Workers is Costing the Lives of Real Aid Workers

"The European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Poul Nielson, accused the United States on Friday of putting aid workers` lives at risk by blurring the line between military and humanitarian aid. "There is a lot we can do to reduce the risk and the answer is not to do what is being done in several places," Nielson told AFP, speaking the day after two groups in Iraq claimed they had murdered two female Italian aid workers taken hostage in the country. "In Afghanistan, for example, aid workers have lost their lives because the credibility of the impartiality and neutrality of aid workers has been questioned and reduced since the US has been using soldiers in civilian clothes, but armed, to deliver humanitarian aid. This brings into question the neutrality of aid workers," he said. "We have tried to make them stop this but we have not succeeded. "

Afghan Human Rights Group Says Poll Fraud Investigation is Rigged

BBC: "Afghanistan's leading human rights body has criticised the UN for the way it has set up its investigation panel into the recent presidential election. The country's election management body asked the UN to establish the three-member panel after the crisis provoked by opposition candidates announcing a boycott of Saturday's poll. But the UN has decided not to appoint any Afghans to the panel. That decision raises "a number of concerns" about its independence, according to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. The senior spokesman of the AIHRC, Nader Naderi, argues that many of the problems with the election are being blamed on "international staff and organisations", not on Afghans. Yet it is all foreign nationals who will be on the panel. We recommended an Afghan expert from our commission to build confidence in this process," says Mr Naderi, a position also supported by European Union officials in Kabul. But he says this was rejected. "

Afghanistan: Elections Were a 'Farce'; Karzai's Government is Falling Apart

Christine Parenti in Afghanistan: "Basically, the election was marked by massive fraud and intimidation, as well as lots of technical errors. The ink, as you said, was running off peoples' hands. Maybe you might hear the prayer call behind me; sorry about that. There was -- many polling places had no pens, they ran out of ballots, some polls closed and reopened, lots and lots of people had multiple voting cards, including myself. One of the parties gave me two valid voting cards that I could add my photograph to and I could have voted if I wanted to. So then there was this protest, and a bunch of us journalists went up to the house of one of the candidates, Satar Sirat, and he held this meeting. They came out and 14 of their candidates said that they were going to boycott the election. They also said they would not take positions in Karzai's government, and as you mentioned, that's sort of falling apart."

Bush Says Rigged One-Party Election in Afghanistan was a Rousing Success!

Most women didn't vote. The 15 candidates who ran against Bush toady Hamid Karzai withdrew from the race to protest what they believe was a rigged election. Karzai supporters were sent multiple voter cards, then marked at the polls with disappearing ink. In short, it was a disastrous miscarriage of democracy - a one party race with stuffed ballot boxes. But Bush thinks it was a rousing success. Of course he would! It was probably a test run for Nov. 2, where we will no doubt be treated to multiple Bush votes and disappearing Kerry ballots. This A,merican P.ropaganda story, which all but ignores what really happened in Afghanistan, proves the US media is as contemptuous of democracy, fairness and honesty as Bush!

Afghan Election Fraud: Multiple Voting Cards and Disappearing Ink

The Times of India: "It was the ink and not the Taliban that spoiled Afghanistan's experiment with democracy. Now wasn't India supposed to supply the indelible ink to mark the voter and prevent multiple voting? India was and the ink did not rub off, only the polling officers used the wrong [conveniently supplied] pen. This meant the ink could just be washed off and the voter could cast a ballot again. During the campaign, many candidates expressed surprise that as many as 10.5 million out of the country's 28 million people had registered to vote, and said many people [all allegedly Karzai supporters] had received multiple voter cards." Gee, what a convenient combination for Bushie Karzai: multiple voting cards and disappearing ink! And the world is supposed to believe this was an "unfortunate accident?"

Afghan Candidates Announce: THIS ELECTION IS A FRAUD!

The Scotsman: "All 15 candidates running against interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai have signed an agreement boycotting the vote because of what they say is widespread fraud, and say they will not recognise the election results. The announcement was read out today after a meeting of candidates and their representatives at the home of Abdul Satar Sirat, an Uzbek who is an ex-aide to Afghanistan's last king. 'Today's election is not a legitimate election. It should be stopped and we don't recognise the results,' Sirat said. Sirat said every one of the 15 candidates still in the race against Karzai had signed the petition and agreed to boycott Saturday's election, and many other candidates at the meeting confirmed they had joined the petition. It was not immediately possible to reach all 15 camps. 'We are not taking part today,' Sirat said. 'This vote is a fraud.' "

White House Efforts to Rig Elections in Afghanistan Getting Out of Hand

The Australian: "In recent weeks, candidates in the presidential election to be held on Saturday have accused the US envoy of taking on a new role -- that of campaign manager for [former Unocal consultant] Mr Karzai -- in an exercise whose success is vital for the re-election hopes of George W. Bush. Opposition candidates are claiming the US is pressuring them to drop out of the race or seek deals. They contend that such interference could damage the credibility of what is being hailed as the first truly democratic election in Afghanistan's troubled history. Leading candidate Mohammed Mohaqiq was preparing to launch his presidential bid when Mr Khalilzad offered him a deal to pull out of the election in return for cabinet posts for his men. 'I am not the only one he has visited -- he has done the same thing with many other candidates,' [Mohaqiq] said. 'We all know the Americans are not interested in a real election, they just want Karzai to win.' "

Swiss Security Expert Warns that US Policy Has Created a Dangerous Crisis in Afghanistan

Swissinfo: "Leading Security expert Albert Stahel [said] war was still raging in the country almost two years after United States-led forces overthrew the Taliban regime. He said a series of wrong decisions had been taken and that a change in policy was urgently needed to bring stability to Afghanistan. 'The Afghans are becoming increasingly angry with the foreigners because the Americans are still fighting a war,' warned Stahel, who is a political scientist and military strategist at the University of Zurich. 'If Washington's policy does not change, the country will sink deeper step by step. It is impossible for us to solve the situation. 'But if the Afghans themselves have the opportunity to control the country, there is certainly a future because they are intelligent people and they certainly want to rebuild their country.' "

Video Suppressed by FBI Shows Torture Trio Welcomed by Afghan Officials, Karzai's Brother

AFP: "Lawyers for two of three Americans on trial for running a vigilante counter-terror operation in Afghanistan played videos showing the trio being met at Kabul airport by the Afghan police chief. [A lawyer says] the videotapes -- which had been among material temporarily confiscated by the FBI -- showed 'the three Americans being warmly greeted at the Kabul Airport by Afghan officials upon their arrival'. A copy of the tape, shot by one of the defendants Edward Caraballo and viewed by AFP, showed Idema meeting officials including Haji Timor, the director of Kabul airport, and General Babajan, who is the commander of the Kabul and national police. Tiffany also said the tape showed Idema being met at the airport by President Hamid Karzai's brother, but it was not clear from the tape if one of Karzai's brothers was among the officials greeting the trio. "

Bush Election Theft Alert! Suspicious Manuverings in Run Up to Afghanistan's first 'Free Elections'

The BBC reports: "A top election observer body has said Afghanistan's security situation makes it impossible to monitor its first-ever polls, due in October. In a report obtained by the BBC, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe said it was not safe for 'meaningful' monitoring. The OSCE added that examining the elections too closely at this stage could actually undermine the process. It also appears there will be few other monitors to fill the gap." How convenient for Bush and Karzai! Especially as another story released today in the Boston Herald states that Kabul "was declared free of heavy weapons Wednesday, a key step in efforts to bolster security before critical national elections. U.S., NATO and Afghan officials feted the commanders of the last unit to pull its big guns out of the city." So what's the deal? Did the US pull its guns out to insure security - or to insure that security would be SO undermined that poll monitors would flee?

Rumsfeld's Office Had Direct Dealings with Torturing 'Bounty Hunter' Idema

BBC: "The US Department of Defense has admitted having contact with a former US soldier, Jonathan Idema, charged in Afghanistan with torturing civilians. 'One name [Idema] mentioned was Heather Anderson, the Pentagon's Acting Director of Security, who answers to the chief official responsible for intelligence matters in the office of Donald Rumsfeld. Idema said Ms Anderson had applauded their work in Afghanistan and had wanted them to go on contract.' " First the Pentagon said they never had contact with Idema. Now it is admitting that Anderson did speak with Idema by phone earlier this year but that they turned him down, despite his repeated calls, faxes, and emails to Rummy's office. Idema's lawyer pointed out the obvious hole in this story: If Rummy's office had rebuffed Idema, why did they keep taking his phone calls?

Grim Reality: Photos from one of Afghanistan's Few Hospitals

BBC: "The Emergency Hospital in Kabul is on the frontline of trauma care in Afghanistan. Run by an Italian charity, it is still one of the few places where ordinary Afghans can receive emergency health care when the worst happens." What a disgrace to the Bush administration! People from other nations are having to supply FUNDAMENTAL needs to Afghans after Bush's promise to "reconstruct" the country. "This is a day in the life of the most important hospital in Kabul, the Emergency Hospital. Warning: You may find some of these images disturbing." But not as disturbing as the Bush administration, which is responsible for the current state of Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan Rumsfeld Turns US Troops into Narc Police

In the furor over Iraq, everyone seems to forget that there is a place called Afghanistan and that Bush War #1 was a miserable failure. While failing to stop or even contain Al Qaeda or capture Osama, Bush managed to trash the Afghan infrastructure. Instead of rebuilding and putting money into the country, Bush abandoned it and poured all our resources into another failed war in Iraq. Now Afghanistan, poorer than ever and even worse off than pre-2001 (except for a few "westernized" pockets of Kabul), has become a hotbed of drug trading. So now, to clean up after Bush, Rumsfeld has announced that US troops will be used, in essence, as an anti-drug force.

Iraq and Afghanistan on Brink of Disaster

Guardian: "The government's handling of the 'war on terror' received a damning appraisal this morning, as senior MPs warned that, more than a year after the invasion, Iraq was in danger of turning into a 'failed state' and that Afghanistan 'could implode'. In a major new report analysing the government's foreign policy in relation to the 'war on terror'...the committee warns that the 'coalition's failure to bring law and order to parts of Iraq created a vacuum into which criminal elements and militias have stepped'. Speaking at a news conference to launch the report, Conservative committee member Sir John Stanley warned that, with elections just months away, Afghanistan was now 'absolutely on the knife edge' - especially in the light of the decision yesterday of Medicin sans Frontieres to pull out, after 25 years' service in the war-torn state. The 'clock is ticking' he warned, while the committee's chairman, Donald Anderson, warned 'Iraq could go either way'."

Pentagon Admits it Worked with the So-Called 'Rogue' Jailers in Afghanistan

The Bush administration and its Pentagon pals are pushing any line under the sun off on the public via its clueless media minions in the hopes they'll swallow it, hook line and sinker. Like the line about how the three Americans holding several Afghan "suspects" in a private jail and subjecting them to Abu Ghraib-like treatment were "just rogues" or "vigilantes." Unlike the corporate media, we actually believe stories ought to at least past a minimal logic test! Now the Pentagon is admitting that well, yeah, they did work with the "vigilantes," at least once....Translation: the "vigilantes" were mercenaries on the Pentagon's under-the-table "payroll."

Three 'Rogue' Jailers in Afghanistan Say They Were Working for the Pentagon

Last week it was revealed that three "rogue" mercenaries were running a "private jail" in Afghanistan where prisoners were being given the Abu Ghraib treatment. Although the Pentagon said three were "anti-terrorism vigilantes," this claim did not pass our smell test... We at Democrats.com suspected that the three were working with and/or for the Pentagon. Now the three Americans have stated in court that they were indeed working with the Pentagon. Reports ABC: "The U.S. military is embroiled in a widening investigation over the deaths of several Afghan detainees while in American custody. The defendants acknowledged that they had acted illegally, while insisting their only goal was to 'struggle against terrorism,' Bakhtyari said. 'They said they were a non-government group but that they had private contact with the Pentagon,' Bakhtyari said. He said the three gave no details. 'They couldn't provide any evidence.' "

Bush Administration Tries to Slither Out of Connection to Brutal Mercenaries in Afghanistan

Richard Boucher claims the US gov't "does not employ or sponsor" the three mercenaries arrested in Kabul for imprisoning and torturing Afghan prisoners held in a "private prison." About the time the Abu Ghraib scandal came to light, the US hastily put out a "warning" about one of the three mercenaries, Jonathan Idema, describing him as armed and dangerous, and interfering with military operations. Now it is revealed that Idema was using Abu Ghraib-style torture tactics - a fact which makes the US "warning" sound like a "Lyndie England" coverup ( torture being all the work of a few "rogues"). But just apply a little logic: What possible gain is there in running a "private prison", (not a cheap undertaking) unless it IS being sponsored in some way by the Afghan-US gov? In any case, any torture perpetrated in an effort to win the US-offered $25,000 bounty on Al Queda members IS US-sponsored activity.

Bush's War in Iraq Boosts Terrorist Recruitment, Opium Sales in Afghanistan Provide Funding

You've heard the Bush Justice Dept. ads: the sale of illegal drugs is putting money into the hands of terrorists. That being the case, no one has been a bigger contributor to the terrorists than G. W. Bush. Thanks to his colossally mismanaged war and non-reconstruction of Afghanistan, that country now supplies THREE-FOURTHS of ALL the illegal opium on the planet. Not only that, but sales are growing fast. "We expect even more production in Afghanistan next year," Sandeep Chawla of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said at a news conference in Vienna, Austria." So Bush has really got himself a major terrorist operation going: His disastrous war in Iraq is serving to increase terrorist recruitment, while his disastrous war in Afghanistan has provided a financial base for the operation.

Afghan Drug Trade Enriches Al Qaeda and Taliban

Houston Chronicle reports, "Two-and-a-half years after a US-led war ousted the Taliban regime, poppies - the raw material for heroin - are appearing all over Afghanistan. Many experts warn that the booming drug trade could derail American efforts to rebuild the nation and roll back terrorism." The UN Office on Drugs and Crime chief, Antonio Maria Costa, said, "It is a national security threat." Last year, Afghan drug farmers and traffickers earned $2.3 billion,"an amount equal to half the nation's GDP and five times the annual budget of the central government." What this means to the war on terror: "The drug trade also provides cash for Taliban and al Qaeda fighters as well as for regional warlords, said Mirwais Yasini." Foreign policy analysts "place part of the blame for the drug bonanza on a decision by the Bush administration to station a relatively small number of troops in Afghanistan after the war that removed the Taliban regime in November 2001."

Afghanistan: a Humanitarian Disaster Run by Corrupt Puppets and Forgotten by the US

Cheryl Seal writes: "When I read this morning that Bush is now touting Afghanistan as a 'model' for 'improvement' in the Middle East because things there are going just so gosh darn well, I reached for the barf bag. Bush's claim is so outrageous that it seems to offer timely proof of the observations made by a D.C. shrink that Bush is indeed a sick puppy. If conditions in Afghanistan under US occupation represent 'progress,' then I suspect there are millions of Afghans who now hope to be rescued from 'progress.' The country has gone from poverty stricken, often violent, and under the fundamentalist rule of the Taliban to more poverty stricken (facing widespread famine, in fact), escalating violence, and under the local fundamentalist rule of routinely violent war lords. The Karzai government has little influence beyond a tiny sphere based in Kabul. Meanwhile, for millions of Afghans, life has gone from bad to worse."

Rebuilding of Afghanistan after Taliban?

The Pakistan Tribune provides an extensive first hand report on the current situation in Afghanistan. "The rapidly deteriorating security situation is directly linked to the approach of landmark elections scheduled for September, which the United States hopes will give legitimacy to Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, but which the Taliban and its allies have vowed to disrupt."

Afghanistan Hit By Wave Of Attacks As Voting Sites Open

"Violent weekend attacks against UN workers and government officials have renewed fears for Afghanistan's landmark democratic polls this year, as voter registration sites opened across the whole country for the first time...UN staff working on the elections survived a bold attack in southeastern Paktia province on Sunday when militants attempted to ambush their four-vehicle convoy with two landmines and followed up with small-arms fire...While it is not known who is responsible for the recent attacks, remnants of the Taliban regime have threatened to disrupt the elections scheduled for September and warned Afghans against working with the electoral process."

Bob 'Traitor' Novak Says Bush is 'Lost in Afghanistan'

Bob Novak writes, "The handful of valiant American warriors fighting the 'other' war in Afghanistan is not a happy band of brothers. They are undermanned and feel neglected, lack confidence in their generals and are disgusted by Afghan political leadership. Most important, they are appalled by the immense but fruitless effort to find Osama bin Laden for purposes of U.S. politics... The overlooked war continues with no end in sight. Narcotics trafficking is at an all-time high. If U.S. forces were to leave, the Taliban -- or something like it -- would regain power. The U.S. is lost in Afghanistan, bound to this wild country and unable to leave. The situation in Afghanistan, as laid out to me, looks nothing like a country alleged to be progressing toward representative democracy under American tutelage. Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-sponsored Afghan president, is regarded by the U.S. troops as hopelessly corrupt and kept in power by U.S. force of arms."

Army Says Pat Tillman was Killed by Friendly Fire

AP: "Pat Tillman "probably" was killed by friendly fire as the former NFL player led his team of Army Rangers up a hill during a firefight in Afghanistan last month, the U.S. Army said Saturday. "While there was no one specific finding of fault, the investigation results indicate that Corp. Tillman probably died as a result of friendly fire while his unit was engaged in combat with enemy forces," Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensington Jr. said in a statement released by the Army Special Operations Command. According to the statement, the firefight took place in "very severe and constricted terrain in impaired light" with 10-12 enemy combatants firing on U.S. forces. "

Shocked UK Officials Declare Afghanistan a 'Basket Case'

When a group of MPs with the UK Foreign Affairs Committee recently went to Afghanistan, they were deeply shocked by what they found. Their findings will be detailed in a scathing report to be released in July. "Eric Ilsley, a Labour member of the committee, said: 'Afghanistan is a basket case. It's a forgotten country.' Shortly after the conflict, Mr Blair pledged to the Afghan people: 'This time we will not walk away from you.' But MPs and international aid agencies say that is, in effect, what has happened. With the focus of Washington and London firmly on Iraq...the remaining infrastructure is shattered, opium production is rocketing, and the Taliban and warlords are back in control of large areas. The committee will charge in their report that Nato and the West failed to fulfil their promise to restore order and democracy to Afghanistan."

Bush Puppet Karzai Urged to Integrate Afghan Warlords as Situation Deteriorates

PakTribune: "With efforts to disarm private militias faltering four months before scheduled national elections, the government of President Hamid Karzai is trying to appease powerful regional leaders who have repeatedly defied his authority and resisted attempts to dismantle their forces. With the strong encouragement of U.S. officials, Karzai has retreated from potential armed confrontations with two of Afghanistan's most prominent militia bosses. He recently paid a long-distance courtesy call on one of them, Gov. Ismail Khan of Herat province, and reportedly has been negotiating with the other, Gen. Abdurrashid Dostum, who is seeking a government post in exchange for decommissioning his tanks and troops." So, if the warlords could be approached using diplomacy, why didn't Bush & Co. bother to use that approach TWO YEARS AGO? Easy, 2002 wasn't an election year.

BBC Reporter Confirms Afghan Version of Latest Civilian Killings by US Troops

BBC: "United States forces have attacked a village in south-eastern Afghanistan, killing three civilians, locals say. A BBC reporter who went to the village of Tani, in Khost province, saw the bodies of two men and a woman, which validates the villager accounts. Local residents say helicopter gunships were involved in the dawn attack." Now here's the Pentagon version, dished up by Sgt. Cindy Beam in Kabul: Beam said the three dead were "enemy killed in action" and that "precision air support was used and all rounds were on target" during "tactical raids".

First Bush Begs Ba'athists for Help, Now Karzai Appeals to Taliban

Back in 2001 to promote his war in Afghanistan, Bush painted the Taliban as the embodiment of all things evil that had to be destroyed. He said the same things in 2003 about the Ba'athist party in the run up to war in Iraq. In fact, when WMDs were not found, he fell back on the need to remove Saddam and the Ba'athists as his excuse for the war. But now Bush is pleading for the "evil Ba'athists" to help him in Iraq and has given Karzai the green light to "reintegrate" (a euphemism for plead for help from) the Taliban in Afghanistan. Asia Times reports: "There has been no reaction so far from the Taliban to Karzai's call...Vikram Parekh, an expert on Afghanistan for the International Crisis Group, said Karzai's.. overtures to the Taliban are attempts to defuse opposition to the elections scheduled for September. Parekh said that in his view, however, it is unlikely that any Taliban member trying to disrupt the political process would react positively to Karzai's call."

U.S. May Cut Afghan Force Size Despite Al Qaeda Hunt

"The United States, which has increased its troops in Afghanistan to hunt for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda militants, may reduce their number after the country holds elections, the top U.S. military officer said on Friday. General Richard Myers, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said a U.S. force of 15,500 soldiers in Afghanistan was moving to uproot al Qaeda and its Taliban allies and head off violence ahead of September elections in Afghanistan, reports Reuters."

Life in 'Free Afghanistan': Continued Abuse of Women Driving Increasing Numbers to Fiery Suicides

The "new women's rights" promised Afghan women by Bush and promoted with much PR by Laura Bush remains largely on paper, and not enforced in real life. Reuters: "Nineteen-year-old Zahara...lies in hospital, her pretty face and much of her body scarred by horrific burns, after she poured petrol over her head and lit a match. In post-Taliban Afghanistan, despite a new constitution enshrining women's rights that the Western-backed government passed in January, [suicide] remains a depressingly familiar story. In the past year, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission has recorded at least 110 cases of self-immolation by women in just five parts of the country. Rights workers say the phenomenon reflects a culture of violence, discrimination and broken post-Taliban dreams. They also say the problem could be far worse than the statistics show."

Interview with Taliban Leader Mullah Mohammed Omar

Pakistan News Service: "Taliban Supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has said he is in Afghanistan but changes his locations quite frequently. In a telephonic interview with Indian news web site, rediff.com, from an undisclosed place in the Afghanistan, Mullah Omar also said he is perfectly fine. 'God feeds me like he feeds other Muslims', he said. About his meetings with Osama bin Laden, he said he met Osama months ago. 'We are in contact with each other. He is very much alive and kicking', he informed."

US Troops among 50 Killed in Major Offensive on Coalition Forces Convoy in Afghanistan

Pakistan News Wire: "Several US troops are reported to have been killed and five military vehicles destroyed when some unidentified armed militants ambushed a coalition forces convoy in valley Sanzala, a place known as death valley for Russian troops during Afghan Jehad against Russia."

Afghan Rebels Seize Bush-Cheney Gas Pipeline Territory

In 2002, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan signed a deal for an oil pipeline that will start from the Daulatabad gas field in Turkmenistan and run nearly 1,000 miles, through Afghanistan and into Pakistan. This $2 billion project would bring Central Asian natural gas to a Pakistani port for export. The four biggest corporate investors in this project: ChevronTexaco, Exxon Mobil, BP and Halliburton Now Afghan rebels have seized Faryab, the province that contains the Daulatabad gas fields. The presence of the gas field in Faryab is being suppressed by the US media - no doubt to clear the way for Bush to deploy tens of thousands of troops to the area without the public ever knowing the real reason. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/jun2002/afgh-j06.shtml

Colossal Mismanagement by White House Turning Afghanistan Back into Breeding Ground for Terrorism

Salaam: "A United Nations body will warn this week that Afghanistan is in danger of reverting to a 'terrorist breeding ground' with an economy dependent on the illegal drug trade unless the international community significantly increases development funding to the war-torn country." The report states that Afghanistan's reconstruction has been woefully neglected and that the postponement of elections is "a tacit acknowledgment that reconstruction efforts have stumbled." Iraq is receiving "10 times as much development assistance with roughly the same size of population" as Afghanistan. Development inflows amount to $67 per person, compared with $248 in Bosnia Herzegovina and $256 in East Timor. This is strong evidence that Bush has always viewed Afghanistan merely as a discardable stepping stone to Iraq.

Will Afghanistan Be a Running Sore for Bush?

"Sunday's murder of a prominent Afghan minister, only days after United States Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit highlighted Afghanistan's importance in the US political agenda, warns of the difficulty of pacifying a turbulent country. But with many claiming to discern Osama bin Laden's bloody fingerprints in the Madrid outrage and with Iraq continuing to explode, President George W. Bush badly needs a victory to place before voters in November."

The New Mullah Omars

"Two years have passed since the international community came together to overthrow the Taleban and establish an interim government in Afghanistan. It was thought that this new administration, having international backing, would not repeat the Taleban's misdeeds. But those expectations have been dashed, and a new group of governmental Mullah Omars has come into being... Every tyranny has been transient, and the Taleban didn't last long. But others have stepped forward to take their place. We can single out the chief justice of the supreme court, Fazel Hadi Shinwari, the deputy chief justice, Fazl Ahmad Manawi, and the governor of Herat, Ismael Khan, as among the governmental Mullah Omars who hamper freedom, democracy, women's rights, and development in the country."

US Soldiers Engage in Looting, Torture and Murder in Afghanistan

UK Independent reports: "American forces in Afghanistan have been accused of flouting international law with arbitrary arrests, torture and killing of prisoners in a report by a civil rights watchdog. Soldiers are accused of using unprovoked deadly force in capturing civilians, some of whom were then allegedly subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment leading to deaths in custody. It is also alleged that looting has taken place during searches of homes. The report, by Human Rights Watch, says the situation at Guantanamo Bay is being replicated many times in Afghanistan, with detainees being held in even worse conditions... At least three prisoners are known to have died during interrogation, with two of the deaths being ruled homicide by American military pathologists after post-mortem examinations. US officials have refused to explain what happened in any of the cases."

The Taliban-Bush-Enron Deal That Led to War

In a revealing look at how the US military action in Afghanistan was motivated by something other than terrorism concerns, the Enron debacle quickly exposed that the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States was only a propitious pretext to occupy the country and extract its badly needed energy resources. As late as April 2001, the United States government had ordered Enron and Unocal to begin destroying records of its negotiations with the Taliban in order to minimise the exposure of the fact that the war in Afghanistan had been planned long before the terrorist attacks.

Fears of Karzai 'Dictatorship' Spur Rebellion in the Loya Jirga

The Guardian reports, "Afghan President Hamid Karzai faced an open rebellion Wednesday among powerful faction leaders opposing his drive for a strongly centralized presidency during a historic constitutional council taking place in the capital. Some 500 delegates to the grand council, or loya jirga, have spent 11 days debating a draft put forward by Karzai's government. It foresees a tolerant Islamic state under a strong presidency, and is supposed to pave the way for landmark elections next summer. 'The presidential form of government is known all over the world. The powers are known, the limitations are known,' Karzai told reporters on the steps of his Kabul palace. 'We should be making a constitution that reflects that system, not a confusion of it.' But Burhanuddin Rabbani, a leader of the Northern Alliance faction who was president during Afghanistan's ruinous 1992-1996 civil war, said some delegates feared the charter would produce a dictatorship."

Six More Afghan Children Die in U.S. Raid

"The U.S. military has now admitted it has killed a total of 15 Afghan children during a series of recent raids in eastern Afghanistan. On Saturday the military announced the deaths of nine children in the province of Ghazni. But now the military says it also mistakenly killed six children in the nearby city of Gardez. The deaths came as part of a massive new air assault dubbed 'Operation Avalanche.' The BBC reports the US were attempting to assassinate a suspected militant, Mullah Jilani, who the US believed was staying in the compound where the six children died. The killings come in the same week that the New Yorker magazine and Guardian newspaper are reporting that the U.S. has set up top secret assassination squads to kill in Iraq and Afghanistan. The BBC reports that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the aggressive pursuit of wanted men in Afghanistan, saying the Pentagon is equally happy to capture or kill them."

Afghan Villagers Torn by Grief After U.S. Raid

NYT: "Villagers said the dead boys, who were 8 to 12 years old, had been in front of a house, and the girls, 9 and 10, had been fetching water from a stream alongside it when two American A-10 attack jets firing rockets and machine guns struck at 10:45 a.m. 'The boys were playing marbles,' said one villager, thrusting forward a gnarled hand with three chipped glass marbles he said he had retrieved from the dust... The rockets made 30 to 40 small craters in the ground around where the children had died... Villagers in this small hamlet south of Kabul in southeastern Afghanistan said they buried the victims on Saturday night. On Sunday afternoon, the men were mourning in an open-air mosque and the women were weeping inside the houses. As some men showed journalists and a government delegation around the scene of the killings, they wondered aloud how the Americans could attack so indiscriminately when searching for just one man who, they said, was not even in the village."

Russian Deputy Drug Czar: US Soldiers Becoming Heroin Addicts in Afghanistan

More collateral damage? "US soldiers are developing a drug addiction problem in Afghanistan, said Deputy State Drug Controller Alexander Mikhailov. He said that there have already been several occurrences of drug addiction among US soldiers in Afghanistan, but the US leadership is keeping it quiet. 'They don't have control of the situation. This should be a good example for our troops in Tajikistan,' said Mikhailov. The state drug controller's office and the Russian Orthodox Church have decided to step up joint efforts against drug use, said Mikhailov. At the present time more than 90% of narcotics in Russia come from Afghanistan through Central Asia. Only 10% of narcotics are produced in Russia."

U.S. Bombing in Afghanistan Kills 9 Children

"United States warplanes attacking a suspected member of the Taliban killed nine children in the southeastern province of Ghazni on Saturday, Afghan and American military officials confirmed Sunday morning. One man was also killed in the attack, they said... An official in the governor's office...confirmed the attack and said it had been aimed at a former member of the Taliban movement. 'They bombed Mullah Wazir's house and civilians were also killed'... A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai said that when first reports arrived, the American military had denied that the attack occurred. Mr. Karzai has frequently asked the U.S. military to take greater care with bombing raids on civilian areas and with they intelligence it receives, which has often proved erroneous. There have been hundreds of civilian casualties from bombing raids during the past two years. At least 48 people were killed in July 2002 when American planes fired on a village where a wedding party was in progress."

Afghan Elections in Jeopardy

"The LA Times reports that, '[s]ecurity in large areas of Afghanistan has so deteriorated that U.S. and U.N. officials fear that plans to hold presidential elections in June may be in jeopardy.' The security situation threatens to undermine the goals of the 2001 Bonn agreement which placed the U.N. in charge of supervising Afghanistan's transition to a constitutional democracy. The violence in Afghanistan 'has worsened dramatically in the last six months' and now 'at least five of Afghanistan's 32 provinces are virtually off-limits to foreigners.' That means that registering voters and holding elections in those five, mostly rural, regions may not be possible. If rural voters are excluded, the results of the election could be seen as illegitimate. Yesterday, only 100 of 330 delegates attended a preliminary session of the loya jirga (the council that elects the Afghan leadership) - which some suggest is the result of intimidation from the resurgent Taliban."

Another Failure of Bush's War: Afghanistan 'at the Mercy of Narco-Terrorists'

The UK Guardian reports: "Afghanistan risks degenerating into a state controlled by 'narco-terrorists' and drug cartels unless the soaring level of opium and heroin production is curbed, the UN warned yesterday. Two years after US airpower and northern guerrillas drove the Taliban from power, the world's biggest source of heroin is cultivating opium poppies and processing the opium into heroin at near record rates despite the introduction of western programmes aimed at eliminating the drug. The UN's annual survey of Afghanistan's opium poppy cultivation and production, released yesterday, paints a bleak picture of a drug culture spreading vigorously in defiance of intense efforts by the international community, humanitarian organisations and charities to wean Afghan farmers off the lucrative crop."

Sheila Jackson Lee Blasts Bush for Neglecting Afghanistan

"Last night on the House floor, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) stated that the Resident's Emergency Supplemental shows that the US has forgotten about the war on terrorism in Afghanistan. According to Lee, Bush's funding plan is supposed to be for both Iraq and Afghanistan yet it calls for a 'pitiful' amount of money for Afghanistan, a place where the 'Taliban is on the rise.' Resident Bush's emergency plan calls for $87bn for Iraq and Afghanistan, out of which less than 1% goes to Afghanistan's reconstruction... According to Lee, we are funding national security for Iraq with $2.1bn, and for Afghanistan $222mn; the justice system in Iraq gets $919mn, and $10mn in Afghanistan. The electrical system in Iraq is funded at $5.7bn and $45mn in Afghanistan... Due to the uneven levels of funding for Iraq's and Afghanistan's reconstruction, she asked the House for a separate vote on the military costs versus the rebuilding costs."

Karzai Faces 'Open Political Revolt'

WashPost: "Hamid Karzai, the interim Afghan leader who announced his candidacy for president Wednesday during a high-profile speaking tour of the United States and Britain, has returned home to confront an open political revolt by powerful rivals in his fragile coalition government. Leaders of the Northern Alliance, the predominantly ethnic Tajik Islamic militia movement that includes the defense minister and a half-dozen regional militia bosses, held an unusual meeting here last week during Karzai's absence. Over the past three days, several spokesmen said the group has decided not to support Karzai's run for the presidency and to field its own candidate instead. The threatened internal defection from Karzai comes at a critical time for Afghanistan's troubled transition to democracy, already a source of concern to the Bush administration, which strongly backs Karzai."

Afghan Women Still Abused Despite US Conquest

"Afghan women are still the victims of widespread abuses, including forced marriage, rape and abduction, two years after the American-led invasion that threw out the repressive Taliban regime, according to Amnesty International. Violent crimes causing 'untold suffering' are perpetrated against women with the 'active support or passive complicity of state agents, armed groups, families and communities,' says an Amnesty report, published today. Prosecution for violence against women is virtually absent, as is any protection for women who are at risk, it says. Although it acknowledges that legal reforms and rebuilding the police force and judicial system are moving forward, Amnesty warns that 'no clear strategy' exists to end discrimination or build a means of protecting women's rights." Hey Laura Bush - have you forgotten the women of Afghanistan so quickly?

Abandoned by BushBlair, Afghanistan is Rotting

"More than $10bn has been spent on Afghanistan since October 7 2001, most of it by the US. More than 80% of this has paid for bombing the country and paying the warlords, the former mojahedin who called themselves the 'Northern Alliance'. The Americans gave each warlord tens of thousands of dollars in cash and truckloads of weapons 'We were reaching out to every commander that we could,' a CIA official told the Wall Street Journal during the war. In other words, they bribed them to stop fighting each other and fight the Taliban. These were the same warlords who, vying for control of Kabul after the Russians left in 1989, pulverised the city, killing 50,000 civilians, half of them in one year, 1994, according to Human Rights Watch. Thanks to the Americans, effective control of Afghanistan has been ceded to most of the same mafiosi and their private armies, who rule by fear, extortion and monopolising the opium poppy trade that supplies Britain with 90% of its street heroin."

Kabul Bureaucrats Bulldoze Poor Residents' Homes, Build US-Funded Mansions

"While millions of Afghans, many of them returned refugees, live in hopelessly inadequate housing - including buildings bombed out during two decades of war - government ministers and commanders are enmeshed in a scandal over the acquisition of prime land in Kabul. International reconstruction efforts proceed at a snail's pace in much of the countryside, but steady progress is being made on scores of palatial homes in the capital's most prestigious neighbourhood. The affair is an embarrassment for the 'transitional' government of Hamid Karzai, and for his chief sponsor, the United States, which is keen to declare Afghanistan a success, particularly after the disaster in Iraq. The list of people awaiting re-housing in the city of Kabul alone is 500,000, according to human rights activists.... 'One hundred police came here and they started beating us,' said one resident, Rahmat Shah, 43. 'We were hoping things would be better after the Taliban, but then they did this.'"

Current Trends Spell Disaster in Afghanistan, Warns CARE

"The United States and other donors must do far more in Afghanistan if the country is to avoid renewed conflict, if not disintegration, according to an unusually frank new policy brief released Wednesday by the U.S. relief organization, CARE and the Center on International Cooperation. The brief finds that Afghanistan's stability and reconstruction are increasingly threatened by violence, especially against aid workers; the rise of a 'neo-Taliban' movement, particularly in Pashtun parts of the country; and narco-trafficking by regional warlords and others. And it argues that donors have failed to follow through on earlier promises of desperately needed reconstruction assistance. Moreover, what aid is being provided is becoming increasingly expensive due to growing insecurity outside Kabul, the capital--the only part of the country that is patrolled by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force."

Emperor Bush Seeks a New 'Czar' for Afghanistan

WSJ's Jackie Calmes writes, "Bush wants special Afghanistan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad to be U.S. ambassador, but the promotion is held up amid griping that Khalilzad seeks to keep his current job, too. He'd be Afghanistan czar, in effect, helping make policy in Washington and implementing it in Kabul, officials say. Some at State Department and CIA grouse he bears some blame for lack of progress there." From TruthOut: "Zalmay Khalilzad was an advisor for Unocal. In the mid 1990s, while working for the Cambridge Energy Research Associates, Khalilzad conducted risk analyses for Unocal at the time it had signed letters of approval from the Taliban. The analyses were for a proposed 890-mile, $2-billion, 1.9-billion-cubic-feet-per-day natural gas pipeline project which would have extended from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. In December 1997, Khalilzad joined Unocal officials at a reception for an invited Taliban delegation to Texas." [See: http://www.truthout.org/docs_01/01.14A.Zalmay.Oil.htm]

Prioritizing Pakistan at the Expense of Afghanistan

Matthew Riemer writes for PINR: "The U.S. may be keeping Afghanistan intentionally unstable in order to facilitate U.S. interests in Central Asia. If Afghanistan remains a weak state, the U.S. has a reason to keep its military in the country. The purpose of this would be to monitor al-Qaeda remnants on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area, provide pressure to Iran, and give the U.S. the opportunity to have a role in the former Soviet republics to the north."

Hundreds of New Taliban Recruits Stream into Bush Quagmire #1, Rummy Says They're Not His Problem

Moonie Times reports: "Hundreds and possibly thousands of Taliban recruits known as the 'Sarbaz' - those who care nothing for their own lives - are involved in an increasing number of hit-and-run attacks against government and American troops. Among them are young men like Siddiqullah, 24, who despite his recent engagement has put his life on hold to wage a holy war on 'infidel' forces occupying his country... His enthusiasm is shared by hundreds of students from religious seminaries in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan who have crossed into Afghanistan to fight. Siddiqullah said they move from village to village through the bleak mountains of this rugged region, sometimes walking for days seeking opportunities to attack U.S. troops and forces loyal to President Mohammed Karzai. U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said yesterday in Kabul he was hopeful NATO might expand peacekeeping operations outside the Afghan capital, but that security was primarily the responsibility of Afghans."

UN Expert: Afghan Drug Trade (Which Increased 2000% Since Bush's 'Reconstruction') Pays for Terrorist Attacks

NY Times: "The American-led forces in Afghanistan must address the country's drug trade because the huge opium and heroin crops are being used by militants to finance their activities, the top United Nations drug official has warned. Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said in an interview here that there were indications that those carrying out violence in Afghanistan were financing their attacks with drug trafficking, and in some places forcing farmers to grow opium poppies.... Mr. Costa said that he had asked the American-led forces here several times to focus on the drug trade, and that he had seen reports that military forces had recently intercepted drug traffickers and had destroyed at least one illegal heroin laboratory. Afghanistan was the world's largest source of illicit opium in 2002, producing 3,750 tons, according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. This year's harvest will be much the same, Mr. Costa said."

Regrouped Taliban Hitting Softer Targets to Avoid US Firepower

"Remnants of the ousted Taliban regime are aggressively recruiting and reorganizing in Pakistan in a revived effort to stage a comeback in Afghanistan. 'There are lots of Taliban in Quetta, and a lot of people are joining them,' said Ramazan, 19, who was recruited by a different Taliban mullah at a mosque in the Pakistani town of Quetta. The wildly inaccurate hit-and-run attacks against U.S. forces by small groups of three to four fighters that characterized the first year of resistance to America's presence in Afghanistan have been replaced by larger, better-coordinated assaults on softer targets, including remote government checkpoints, foreign and Afghan aid workers and supporters of the Karzai government. Ramazan, who was captured a month ago, said his group of 12 fighters was told they would be attacking Afghan government forces, not Americans, 'because Americans have planes and will bomb us and destroy the houses if we attack them.'"

Ever Wonder How 'Gunpoint Democracy' in Iraq Will Shape Up? Check Out Afghanistan...

"To get a hint of what the Bush Administration has in mind [for Iraq], it's instructive to take a quick look at its previous effort in democracy building: Afghanistan. Since routing the Taliban, Washington has been propping up some of the most undemocratic forces in Afghanistan, including the various regional warlords, like Ismail Khan of Herat and Abdul Rashid Dostum of Mazar-i-Sharif. A study by the Center for Economic and Social Rights found that one of the most common complaints from ordinary Afghans was about U.S. support for the warlords. Many Afghans, the report noted, 'named U.S. policy as the prime obstacle to disarming warlords.' A report from Human Rights Watch charges that U.S. support for these warlords could jeopardize attempts to adopt a new constitution and to hold elections in 2004. 'Gunmen and warlords who were propelled into power by the United States and its coalition partners' have 'essentially hijacked the country outside of Kabul,' says Brad Adams [of HRW]."

Taliban Terror Surges, 'Weak Faith' in Karzai Gov't 'Could Evaporate Fast'

"Suspected Taliban militants killed ten policemen on Monday in an ambush in Logar, south of Kabul, reports Channel News Asia. The incident is the latest in a spate of violence that has claimed more than 90 lives in the past week, marking one of the bloodiest periods since the overthrow of the Taliban in late 2001.... Mullah Mohammed Omar, the fugitive Taliban leader, announced in June the creation of a 10-member council, established to coordinate resistance to the US-led coalition in the country, Agence France-Presse reported in June.... 'This is a situation which is deteriorating, and there's a need to tackle this aggressively,' one diplomat in Afghanistan told the Financial Times. 'Once these attacks grow and more Afghan policemen and government soldiers become the target, there's the danger that already weak faith in the Afghan government could evaporate fast.'"

ANOTHER 16-Word Lie in Bush's SOTU

John Turri writes, "It is obvious that Bush should have never uttered those [OTHER] sixteen words about ... Afghanistan? 'Afghanistan today is a friend of the U.S. It's not a haven for America's terrorist enemies.' Just for good measure, Bush also added, 'Afghanistan is no longer a haven for terror, the Taliban is history....' Once again, George Bush has shown himself to be either woefully misinformed on matters of tremendous national and international importance, or willing to lie to the American public about them. Neither option is pleasant: He's either habitually ignorant or a habitual liar. It is beyond dispute that Afghanistan is once again a haven for terrorists. Indeed, it has been for some time, as even a cursory review of recent history shows."

Rummy on Solving the Afghan Opium Problem: 'I Don't Really Know'

"Talking to US servicemen and women at a town hall meeting in Washington on Thursday, Mr Rumsfeld said the opium production was 'currently up from three years ago or so.' 'And you ask what we're going to do, and the answer is, I don't really know. I think it's an awfully tough problem,' said the defence secretary while responding to a soldier. Mr Rumsfeld said the Afghan heroin was a bigger problem for Europe and Russia rather than the US because it's mainly smuggled to the European nations... Mr Rumsfeld said he knew that the Karzai government, the US and the other coalition partners were concerned about the problem and had tried various eradication methods. They even have tried to buy crops 'and to buy people out from planting crops. And what they find is that the value is high,' he added. 'I wish I had a quicker, better, easier answer, because it's a vicious problem,' he said." The Taliban eliminated opium production - but Rummy is clueless.

Bush Washes US Hands of Afghan Occupation Failure

NY Times reports, "In the most violent day in Afghanistan in nearly a year, 15 people, including six children, were killed when a bomb exploded on their bus in southern Afghanistan, and another 20 people were killed in fighting in the country's east... The violence cast into gruesome relief the growing threats to the Afghanistan's stability from what are believed to be remnants of the Taliban or Al Qaeda, or Afghans opposed to the American-backed administration led by Hamid Karzai. The attacks come two days after NATO... assumed control of the multinational peacekeeping force that patrols Kabul and its surrounds. The attacks also come as the US is preparing to invest another $1 billion in Afghanistan in an attempt to accelerate the pace of reconstruction. A significant amount of the aid, according to Afghan officials, will be devoted to expanding and strengthening national institutions - namely the national army and the police - that could help provide security outside Kabul."

Afghan Women Demand Security but Laura Bush is Silent

BBC reports, "A thousand women protesters have gathered in the Afghan capital, Kabul, to call for action to improve security in the country. This comes as Nato prepares to take charge of the international security force in the city on Monday. The women gathered in the Women's Park - a walled garden reserved for women and children only - to voice their concerns about continuing insecurity in Afghanistan. A declaration was read out calling for international troops and the new Afghan National Army - now being trained by several western nations - to be sent to cities throughout the country. It also called for all militias and fighters outside central government control to be disarmed. A further request was for international soldiers to be given better training to help them distinguish between civilian and what the declaration called 'enemy forces'." The women's appeal was greeted with silence from Laura Bush, who vanished after she championed the cause of Afghan women for one day in 2001.

Why is Bush Letting Pakistan Resurrect the Taliban?

Asia Times reports, "Since Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf made his much-acclaimed visit to Camp David and met George W Bush on June 24, new elements have begun to emerge in the Afghan theater. US troops in Afghanistan are now encountering more enemy attacks than ever before, and clashes between Pakistani and Afghan troops along the tribal borders have been reported regularly. On July 16, US troop commander General Frank 'Buster' Hagenbeck, reported increased attacks over recent weeks on US and Afghan forces by the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other anti-US groups that have joined hands. He also revealed... the Taliban and its allies have regrouped in Pakistan and are recruiting fighters from religious schools in Quetta in a campaign funded by drug trafficking. Hagenbeck also said that these enemies of US and Afghan forces have been joined by Al-Qaeda commanders who are establishing new cells and sponsoring the attempted capture of American troops."

Taliban Gains Strength in Southern Afghanistan

Reuters reports, "The government of [Zabul,] a volatile southern Afghan province urged US forces on Sunday to deal with resurgent Taliban guerrillas and said hundreds of them were roaming around freely. A Taliban official said its elusive leader Mullah Omar had approved a new deputy for the south on Saturday to assist a notorious commander suffering from wounds, and ordered him to intensify attacks on US and government forces. In a further sign of stepped up Taliban activity, residents of a southern town close to the Pakistani border woke on Sunday to posters threatening death to 25 'informers' accused of collaborating with US and Afghan government forces... Hundreds of Taliban now roamed freely in several districts of Zabul and provincial forces were powerless to act as they had insufficient support from the US-backed central government. 'There are about 500 Taliban in Deh Chopan district,' he said. 'The district is under our control, but they are walking freely in the bazaar.'"

Bush Says He'll Give Afghanistan $1 Billion for Reconstruction - But Is It Coming Out of Africa's Promised Funds?

Only after being pushed hard has Bush finally agreed to consider sending Afghanistan $1 billion toward reconstruction. But, in true corporate style, Mr. Flimflam plans to rob Peter to pay Paul, whilst deceiving the public. The White House says the money will be "shifted from existing foreign and military aid accounts so as not to increase the deficit." We wonder what accounts those might be... Whaddya wanna bet the pledge of aid to Africa was just a way to appear to be doing the right thing in two places - while only paying for one? Also - while this billion must stretch for schools, highways, medical needs, etc., Bush is pouring TEN BILLION per year into maintaining an oil-pipeline-guarding military presence.

Bush is Negotiating with the Evil Taliban

Mike Tomasky writes, "Remember back when the Taliban was evil? Sure you do. George W. Bush used that tough frontier talk of which his speechwriters are so fond, the press swooned and every decent American was made to understand that the Bush administration, unlike its morally rickety predecessor, would never give an inch to such people. So guess who's negotiating with them now? Last week a Pakistani jihadi leader told the Asia Times that he had set up a meeting between U.S. and Pakistani intelligence officials and Taliban leaders to discuss the seriously deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. At the meeting... FBI officials floated the possibility that the Taliban might have a role in the future Afghan government on four conditions: that Mullah Omar be removed as leader, that foreign combatants engaged in fighting against U.S. and allied troops be deported, that any captive allied soldiers be released and that Afghans currently living abroad be brought into the government."

Bush is Negotiating Power Sharing with the TALIBAN!!!

Be sure to sit down when you read THIS article. Asia Times reports, "Such is the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan... that United States and Pakistani intelligence officials have met with Taliban leaders in an effort to devise a political solution to prevent the country from being further ripped apart... Four conditions were put to the Taliban before any form of reconciliation can take place that could potentially lead to them having a role in the Kabul government." Say WHAT??? Bush is negotiating power-sharing with the TALIBAN??? Didn't we fight a war halfway around the world in order to destroy the Taliban??? What's next - a red carpet reception at the White House for Osama Bin Laden??? Impeach Bush Now!!!

Afghan Motherhood in a Fight for Survival

NYT reports: "The maternal mortality rate in Afghanistan is the highest in the world, according to Dr. Peter Salama, director of Unicef in Afghanistan... Afghanistan also has the fourth highest rate of infant mortality and deaths of children under 5, ranking behind only Sierra Leone, Angola and Niger, according to Unicef. Babies whose mothers die in childbirth have only a one in four chance of surviving to their first birthday... Final results of a study conducted last year by Unicef and the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are to be released in coming weeks... Almost half of the deaths of Afghan women from 15 to 49 are caused by complications during pregnancy, or by childbirth itself, the study found... The entire life cycle of women here is to blame, Dr. Salama said. In addition to inadequate medical care, he cited poor nutrition; stunted growth, which causes difficulties giving birth; a lack of education; teenage marriages and women's low social status."

Bushfeld's Failure in Afghanistan: Taliban Appears to be Regrouped and Well-Funded

"As the fiery chief justice of the Taliban's Supreme Court, Abdul Salam shook the world once, proclaiming the right to execute foreign aid workers accused of converting Afghans to Christianity. Today, not only is Justice Salam back, talking to a foreign reporter for the first time since the Taliban fell a year and a half ago, but he says the Taliban are back as well. Regrouped, rearmed, and well-funded, they are ready to carry on guerrilla war as long as it takes to expel US forces from Afghanistan... It's this confidence that undercuts recent assertions by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that major combat operations in Afghanistan are over, and that the focus will now be on reconstruction. 'The general idea that was being put forward by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld last week, is that the Afghan military, backed by US forces, is engaged in mopping up some remnants of the past - that is not true,' says Barnett Rubin, an expert on Afghanistan at New York University."

US Admits Children Held at Camp Xray

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports: "The commander of the joint task force at Guantanamo, Major General Geoffrey Miller, says more than one child under the age of 16 is at the detention centre. He has refused to reveal how many there are, their exact ages or their countries of origin. The children are still being interrogated and will continue to be held at Guantanamo." Do we need any more evidence that Bush's War on Terror is misguided and out of control?

With Afghanistan as the Precedent for Iraq: Will It Be Liberation, Occupation or Anarchy

Ash Pulcifer writes: "The reason that much of the world is not yet convinced that the U.S. has liberated Iraq is due to the failure of the U.S. to liberate Afghanistan. That failure, to stabilize, secure and fully commit to Afghanistan, is of great concern, especially to the Arab world, as they fear that the new phase of "liberation," this time in Iraq, may follow in the footsteps of Afghanistan... Instead of stopping these warlords from abusing the peasantry, the U.S. military often aids them, supporting one bloody warlord over another. All attempts by the central government of Hamid Karzai to extend ISAF outside of Kabul have been thus far rejected by the United States government, which is afraid that peacekeepers will impede the 'mopping up' missions of U.S. forces operating outside the capital. Yet, so far, no matter how much mopping the U.S. does, the country doesn't get any cleaner and is, in fact, getting filthy as rocket attacks on Kabul and ISAF headquarters continue."

Bush's Afghanistan Failure: Taliban Reviving Structure in Afghanistan

AP reports: "The soldiers and police who were supposed to be the bedrock of a stable postwar Afghanistan have gone unpaid for months and are drifting away. At a time when the United States is promising a reconstructed democratic postwar Iraq, many Afghans are remembering hearing similar promises not long ago. Instead, what they see is thieving warlords, murder on the roads, and a resurgence of Taliban vigilantism."

Mullah Omar Starts a Comeback

"Posters apparently endorsed by one of America's most wanted fugitives, Mullah Mohammed Omar, have appeared in Afghanistan calling for renewed holy war, providing a further sign that the conflict is worsening. Signed by 600 Islamic clerics, the posters appeared amid a flurry of attacks which saw guerrillas fire rockets at a United Nations base in Kabul and at US military installations. The deteriorating situation has been underscored in the past few days by the killing of two American special forces soldiers in an ambush in southern Afghanistan and the death of a Red Cross worker, shot through the head while on a mission to install water wells. The posters are circulating in eastern Afghanistan - a main area of opposition to the US and the Washington-backed government of Hamid Karzai - and call for a jihad against the Americans and Afghans who work with them."

Iraq War Spills Over to Afghanistan, Where 2 Americans Are Killed

"Since the beginning of action in Iraq, there has been an increase in attacks against coalition forces in Afghanistan, Combined Joint Task Force- 180 officials said. 'It's small, but there has been an increase,' said command spokesman Army Col. Roger King. Two Americans were killed March 29 when their five-vehicle convoy ran into an ambush. King said that contrary to reports, the ambushers were in prepared positions off the side of the road. They fired small arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades at the coalition vehicles. The two dead are Staff Sgt. Jacob L. Frazier of the 169th Air Support Operations Squadron, 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, Ill.; and Sgt. Orlando Morales of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group, Fort Bragg, N.C. A third American was wounded in the attack and has been evacuated to Landstuhl Army Hospital in Germany. He is in stable condition. Service members held a memorial service in Kandahar for their comrades."

Thanks to Bush, Afghan is #1 in Heroin Production, As Output Increases 2000% in 1 Year

BBC reports, "Afghanistan retook its place as the world's leading producer of heroin last year, after US-led forces overthrew the Taliban which had banned cultivation of opium poppies. The finding was made in a key drug report, distributed in Kabul on Sunday by the US State Department, which supports almost identical findings by the United Nations last week. Low-grade heroin is refined in Afghanistan from opium, which is manufactured from the extract of poppies. 'The size of the opium harvest in 2002 makes Afghanistan the world's leading opium producer,' the report said. The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report said the area of land used to cultivate opium poppies reached 30,750 hectares, compared with 1,685 hectares in 2001. Afghanistan overtook Burma - whose production fell for the sixth straight year, to 630 tonnes - as the leading opium producer." But this is a small price to pay - after all, Afghanistan is a democracy now, right? NOT!

Taliban, Al Qaeda, and Warlord Hekmatyar Unite to Fight US in Afghanistan

Taliban and Al Qaeda forces "have forged links with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a militiaman who once pocketed CIA funds to fight the Soviet Union, earning a reputation for extreme brutality. He...declared jihad against the Americans and their allies [and] is suspected in Kabul of involvement in numerous rocket attacks and a car bomb that killed 30 in September. Last year he narrowly missed being killed by a missile fired by a CIA Predator... Some 400 rockets have been fired at American forces in 10 months. They find two or three caches of arms, often 107mm Chinese rockets, each week. 'This place is a 100 times more dangerous than Iraq,' said one US reserve officer... 'Here they are liable to toss a grenade under your vehicle at any time.' A fortnight ago the Taliban issued what is thought to be its first communique since being removed from power. It named two senior figures - Mullah Obaeidullah and Mullah Biradar - as commanders in a new campaign to oust the Americans." - UK Independent

Bush's 'Nation-Building' in Afghanistan is Collapsing

"Since mid-December, according to Pakistani and European sources, American forces have abandoned five outposts along the Pakistani border as a result of persistent rocket and small-arms attacks; U.S. spokesmen acknowledge only one such move. Sgt. Steven Checo of the 82nd Airborne Division died in a gunfight on Dec. 21 when U.S. forces surprised three men slipping across the border. Just over two weeks ago, American-led forces engaged in the fiercest fighting in 10 months against 100 fighters.. 'There is a growing feeling that the Americans may not appreciate the danger or are unprepared to admit its existence,' said a European diplomat. 'It seems they are too focused on Iraq, and that is a mistake.' Observers fear NGO's, which are similarly falling victim to increased attacks -- 16 in the last two weeks alone -- will be forced to pull their personnel and suspend operations in the face of the more severe attacks promised by anti-coalition forces should America attack Iraq."

The Taliban is Back and Causing More Damage and Putting Our Brave Soldiers at Risk

Boston Globe writes, "KABUL - US soldiers engage in their fiercest battle in almost a year, killing 18 enemy fighters in a clash near the Pakistani border... So-called 'night-letters' appear in border towns, declaring jihad against foreign troops. A bomb explodes under a bus near the southern city of Kandahar, killing eight passengers. All three episodes, Afghan officials and Western diplomats say, can be linked to fugitive Taliban who are regrouping and endangering efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan. And the insurgents appear to have a new, dangerous ally: Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a warlord and former Afghan prime minister, who spent the Taliban years in exile in Iran. Hekmatyar has vowed to target the international coalition in Afghanistan, led by 8,000 US troops, and says he has formed an alliance with the former Taliban leader, Mullah Omar." Mullah Omar, Bin Laden, the anthrax mailer...and Ken Lay (the stock fraud/power outage criminal) are all free.

On The Eve of Iraq W-ar, Afghan Rebels Send Reminder that Occupation Creates Resistance

NY Times reports, "In the heaviest fighting in nine months, American and coalition forces are battling a large group of rebel fighters in a mountainous region of southeastern Afghanistan. Col. Roger King, a spokesman for the U.S. military, said at least 18 rebel fighters had been killed, while no coalition casualties were reported. The fighting began on Monday while U.S. and Afghan forces were searching a compound near Adi Ghar mountain. They came under fire and in the firefight one attacker was killed, one wounded and one detained. Under questioning, the detained man said there was as many as 80 fighters commanded by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a fiery Islamic fundamentalist who has vowed to overthrow President Hamid Karzai's government, in the mountains near the compound." This is a timely reminder that anyone who thinks an invasion of Iraq will magically bring about peace and democracy (are you listening, Tom Friedman?) is delusional.

US Secretly Used Uranium Weapons in Afghanistan, Causing Serious Illness

Davey Garland writes, "A startling new report based on research in Afghanistan indicates that our worst fears have been realised. The study, produced by the Uranium Medical Research Centre (UMRC), points to the likelihood of large numbers of the population being exposed to uranium dust and debris... The team was unprepared for the shock of its findings, which indicated in both Jalalabad and Kabul, [depleted uranium] was possibly causing the high levels of illness but also high concentrations of non-depleted uranium. Tests taken from a number of Jalalabad subjects showed concentrations 400% to 2000% above [normal]. Those in Kabul who were directly exposed to US-British precision bombing showed extreme signs of contamination, consistent with uranium exposure and with some types of chemical or biological weaponry. These included pains in joints, back/kidney pain, muscle weakness, memory problems and confusion and disorientation." A W-ar in Iraq would only be worse.

Afghan Pipeline Moves Closer to Construction, While the Truth about 911 Moves Farther Away...

"Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan on Friday signed here a framework agreement for a US $3.2 billion gas pipeline project...The ceremony was held at the Presidential Palace with the three leaders, Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali, President Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan and Afghan President [& former Unocal consultant] Hamid Karzai signing the document. The framework agreement defines legal mechanism for setting up a consortium to build and operate the pipeline. According to a study by Asian Development Bank (ADB), the 1460 km pipeline would use gas reserves at Dauletabad fields in Turkmenistan, which has world's fifth largest reserves, while passing through Afghanistan into Pakistan." Did Bush's ultimatum to the Taliban to build this pipeline trigger Bin Laden's 911 attack? We'll never know the truth as long as Bush controls the 911 Commission and appoints a chairman with ties to the Saudi oil companies involved in the original pipeline deal!

One Year Later, Afghans Suffer

"The fall of Kabul on November 13, 2001 was part of a dramatic, domino-like collapse of the militia across the country, as thousands of fighters fled for the mountains or melted into the background after weeks of intense bombing by U.S. warplanes. Images of euphoric men shaving beards and women discarding burqas presaged a more tolerant era for millions of Afghans glad to throw off the shackles of harsh sharia law. But the new freedoms cannot mask continuing hardships, and a year on, pressing issues like unemployment, homelessness and economic uncertainty have yet to be tackled in a meaningful way." Now, having failed to achieve his professed objective in Afghanistan, while leaving the nation still digging through US-made bombing rubble, Bush abandons Afghanistan - and the real enemy Al Qaeda for an oil quest.

82nd Airborne Paratroopers Terrify Afghan Civilians, Undermining US Special Forces

Newsweek's Colin Soloway reports, "The official story from both the 82d Airborne and the regular Army command is that Operation Mountain Sweep was a resounding success. Several arms caches were found and destroyed, and at least a dozen suspected Taliban members or supporters were detained for questioning. But according to Special Forces, Afghan villagers and local officials living in or near the valley, the mission was a disaster. The witnesses claim that American soldiers succeeded mainly in terrorizing innocent villagers and ruining the rapport that Special Forces had built up with local communities. 'After Mountain Sweep, for the first time since we got here, we're getting rocks thrown at us on the road in Khowst,' says Jim, a Green Beret who has been operating in the area for the past six months. Special Forces members say that Mountain Sweep has probably set back their counterinsurgency and intelligence operations by at least six months." Brilliant move, Rummy - NOT!

Karzai's Afghan Troops Are Letting Al Qaeda Terrorists Excape - to Plan Their Next Deadly Attack on the US

The Christian Science Monitor reports, "Since the early months of the war, stories have been circulating that Al Qaeda is paying locals tens of thousands of dollars to spirit its people out of Afghanistan. Now, some in the US military say this cash trade is flourishing with the help of Afghan Militia Forces (AMF) - Afghan soldiers supposedly under the control of the central government in Kabul. 'Foreigners are being held and ransomed,' say Sergeant Jerry, a Green Beret intelligence specialist. 'People are paying money for people' ... Local AMF forces are suspected of aiding the enemy. 'What's really frustrating is that you can't trust AMF to turn them over, because you don't know what side they're on,' Jerry says. 'Even my security officials are protecting Al Qaeda. How can I expect civilians to turn them in?'" Al Qaeda terrorists are escaping, so they can plan their next attack on the US. But Bush doesn't care - let's bomb Baghdad!

American Intervention in Afghanistan Is Promoting Militant Extremism

Boston Globe reports, "A shattering explosion rattled the windows yesterday at an Islamic relief organization. 'It's the Americans,' grumbled Bahader, a stocky, gray-haired employee. 'Every day they are firing, searching homes, bothering people. Everyone wants them to leave'... For the people of this remote, mountainous province along the Pakistani border, the war is ever present in the rumble of distant explosions and the faint roar of B-52 bombers passing overhead. And the US operation is fueling hostility against the Americans, even among officials loyal to Hamid Karzai, who admit they asked the US military to come here because of threats from Taliban fighters hiding in the mountains. The Afghans complain that the Americans have relied on faulty information that has caused injury and death to civilians trying to live without getting mixed up in the conflict. That in turn is increasing support for militant organizations, including the Hezb-i-Islami movement of Hekmatyar."

Afghan Nationbuilding Day 333: Karzai Survives Assassination Attempt

Exactly 333 days after George W. Bush committed the US to building a new nation in Afghanistan, Bush's handpicked Resident Hamid Karzai "survived an assassination attempt Thursday by an Afghan security guard who fired on their convoy. The attack came shortly after a large explosion in the capital that killed at least 10 people and which police blamed on al-Qaida. The twin attacks were a major blow to Karzai's prestige and that of his fragile U.S.-backed government. The violence came less than a week before the Sept. 11 anniversary, raising questions about whether Osama bin Laden's terror network or a disaffected Afghan group was responsible... In addition to al-Qaida, former Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar was a suspect in the bombing, he said. Earlier this week, Hekmatyar issued a call for jihad, or holy war, to drive U.S. and foreign troops including international peacekeepers from Afghanistan." US troops can't even secure the Afghan capital - yet Bush wants to conquer Iraq?

UN and US Collaborate in Coverup of Gen. Dostrum's Massacre at Mazar

Two weeks after Newsweek put the Massacre at Mazar on its cover, Lakhdar Brahimi, "The U.N. special representative in Afghanistan said today that the weakness of the Afghan government and the risk to investigators or witnesses make it almost impossible to investigate reports that there are mass graves in northern Afghanistan... The deaths allegedly occurred during the transport of prisoners by a militia under the command of Gen. Abdurrashid Dostum, who still controls the region and whose influence has not been challenged by the Karzai government." Brahimi said in some cases accountability must take "second place to peace and stability. You can choose to please yourself and make statements of principle, or you can see ... in a given moment and place what is possible." We will not accept a cover-up of a massacre - we demand a UN investigation!

Bush Blocks Investigation of Massacre at Mazar

Physicians for Human Rights reported the existence of mass graves in the desert near Sherberghan in May, and Irish documentarian Jamie Doran screened his film "Massacre at Mazar" for the German and European parliaments in June. Now that Newsweek put the massacre on its cover, will the Bush administration investigate? According to Salon, War Commissar Rumsfeld says NO, as does UN Ambassador John Negroponte, who covered up Reagan-Bush Central American massacres in the 1980's. For Leonard Rubenstein, executive director of Physicians for Human Rights, to say it just doesn't matter what our allies do or what our enemies suffer, "is a good way for a quick descent into hell" - which is exactly where Bush is taking us.

Bush Scrubs UN Report on Afghan Wedding Bombing

The Independent reports, "The UN went into abrupt reverse yesterday and said it no longer intended to release a report compiled by a team of UN officials who visited the site where a US warplane attacked a wedding party in Afghanistan on 1 July. The change of tack by the UN was apparently the result of pressure from within its own hierarchy, particularly in Afghanistan itself, and from the US not to release the report that allegedly contradicts claims made by the US about the circumstances of the attack. The controversy first erupted on Monday when it emerged that a first draft of the report written by the UN fact-finding team featured a number of potentially embarrassing allegations. They included the charge that the US had under-reported the numbers of people who had died and US soldiers had removed evidence from the site, suggesting a cover-up. A UN spokesman said on Monday that a final draft would be made public within 24 hours" - but then Bush scrubbed it.

Clinton Knew, and Did Something

Too bad Bush started dealing with the Taliban for oil. Clinton tried to block them. "Executive Order 13129 of July 4, 1999; Blocking Property and Prohibiting Transactions With the Taliban; By the authority vested in me as President ...I, WILLIAM J. CLINTON, President of the United States of America, find that the actions and policies of the Taliban in Afghanistan, in allowing territory under its control in Afghanistan to be used as a safe haven and base of operations for Usama bin Ladin and the Al-Qaida organization who have committed and threaten to continue to commit acts of violence against the United States and its nationals, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat."

US Bombs Afghan Wedding, 250 Civilians Dead or Injured

From the Guardian: "US helicopter gunships and jets today fired on an Afghan wedding, killing or injuring at least 250 civilians, witnesses and hospital officials said. The attack occurred in the village of Kakarak in Uruzgan province, in the south of the country, where special forces and other coalition troops were searching for remaining al-Qaida and Taliban fighters...One survivor, Abdul Qayyum, told reporters at a Kandahar hospital that the attack began shortly after midnight and continued for more than two hours until US special forces ground troops moved into the area. 'The Americans came and asked me 'who fired on the helicopters', and I said 'I don't know' and one of the soldiers wanted to tie my hands but someone said he is an old man and out of the respect they didn't,' he said. Afghans often fire weapons during weddings in celebration...'Right now there are a lot of different opinions as to what happened,' Col King said. He said US investigators would be sent to the area."

Warlords Emerge from Loya Jirga More Powerful than Ever

"Afghanistan's warlords emerged from the loya jirga with greater power and a new claim to legitimacy Human Rights Watch said today. Many delegates representing civil society told Human Rights Watch that they had been excluded from any real decision-making. As the loya jirga nears its end, they expressed fears about the resurgent power of the warlords who were active, and at time abusive, participants in the loya jirga process. 'Afghanistan's warlords are stronger today then they were ten days ago before the loya jirga started,' said Saman Zia-Zarifi, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch. 'Short term political expediency has clearly triumphed over human rights.'" Yet another example of the sad and dangerous consequences of Bush League foreign policy.

Bush's 'Nation Building' in Afghanistan May Prove Another Dismal Bush Failure

The NY Times reports, "Today's session of Afghanistan's grand council here broke up in disarray, as delegates argued furiously over how to elect a smaller assembly from among their number to serve for the next 18 months. The session was adjourned this afternoon without result, raising concerns that the council, called a loya jirga, might fail to complete its major tasks in the few days it has left... The 1,600 delegates have been meeting for five days and have only completed one task, electing [former Unocal consultant] Mr. Karzai to continue as leader under a transitional administration until elections in 2004. They have yet to be presented with a proposed new structure of government and advisory powers for the assembly, as well as a slate of top leaders for their approval, the other main tasks set before them." Like everything else Bush touches, nation-building in Afghanistan is likely to prove a dismal failure. But it will get Unocal their damn pipeline.

Musharraf Puts Pipeline Ahead of Everything - Including Nuclear War

Are the threats of nuclear war between Pakistan and India just a ludicrous farce? On 5-30-02, the leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkmenistan signed an agreement to look for money to build a 1,500-kilometre (975 mile) gas pipeline. And get this report from Agence France Presse: "Musharraf even said he was prepared to put aside his differences with arch-rival India to supply the neighbouring country with fuel. 'Any pipeline going through Pakistan to India we would accept,' he said. 'We are also doing it for ourselves, frankly -- it's in our interests. Therefore our stand on a gas pipeline to India remains unchanged whatever the level of tension.'"

The Pipelines Begin

Although supposedly planning a nuclear dukeout, Pakistan will run a pipeline through Afghanistan that may serve India. Of course, "pacifying" Afghanistan for a pipeline was the reason for the war anyway. Otherwise we would have bombed Saudi Arabia, the real source or terror funding, inspiration, and manpower.

Afghan Gas Pipeline Will Be Built - and Protected - With OUR Tax Dollars!

OUR tax dollars were used to destroy the Taliban government of Afghanistan, because they refused to allow a gas pipeline to be built to bring natural gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. Now OUR tax dollars will be used to build the $2 billion plus pipeline. "The pipeline will be built using funds from donor countries for the reconstruction of Afghanistan," according to Mohammad Alim Razim, the Afghan minister for Mines and Industries. And how much more of OUR tax dollars will be needed to defend the 525-mile pipeline against local warlords? And who will GET all of this money? Can you spell Halliburton? We demand Senate hearings on the Afghan Pipeline!

Did the Northern Alliance Commit Mass Murder of Taliban Prisoners at Mazar-i-Sharif?

"A U.N. forensic team examining a large mass grave in northern Afghanistan found evidence some victims died of suffocation, the United Nations said Tuesday. The grave site is the same one made public last week by the U.S.-based Physicians for Human Rights which said the grave was believed to hold the bodies of hundreds of Taliban prisoners who died while captives of their northern alliance foes last fall. Northern alliance forces were U.S. allies in the war that defeated the Taliban religious militia. The interim Afghan regime is now made up of many members of the alliance." Is Bush backing a government of mass murderers? We demand some answers!

Afghanistan Is Looking More Like Vietnam Every Day

The UK Telegraph reports, "The former commander of NATO forces in Europe fears that America, Britain and their allies could become embroiled in an unwinnable guerrilla war in Afghanistan. Gen Wesley Clark said there were 'worrisome signs' that the allies were drifting into a position similar to that which assailed Soviet forces after their invasion in 1979. 'They won big victories to start with,' he said. 'It took a year or two for the opposition to build up.' Asked if the Western forces could be dragged into a war that, like the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, would prove attritional and eventually disastrous, Gen Clark said: 'I do think it's a possibility. The thing we must have is intelligence domination on the battlefield and that means human intelligence and that means boots on the ground.'" Funny - they said the same thing about Vietnam in 1965.

Karzai and Niyazov Plan Afghan Pipeline - for Tom DeLay's Unocal?

Bu$hCheney's man in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, continued his intensive efforts to build the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India. Karzai met with his despotic neighbor, Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, where the gas originates. (Karzai's first overseas trip in February was a visit to General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, at the receiving end of the pipeline.) Unocal, which is based in Tom DeLay's district in Sugarland TX, is still mentioned as interested in building the pipeline - despite statements that it lost interest in 1998 after Clinton sent cruise missiles to get Osama Bin Laden. Was the Afghan War fought for Tom DeLay's wealthiest constituent? Time will tell...

Backed by the US, Afghan Warlords Resume Heroin Trade

"The US has removed Afghanistan from its proscribed list of major drug-producing countries despite the fact that the UN says this year's poppy harvest is likely to produce more than 3000 tonnes of raw opium, the basic ingredient of heroin. President George W Bush admitted to Congress that the country had 'failed demonstrably to make substantial counter-narcotics efforts over the last 12 months', but waived a ban on economic assistance because it was 'vital to the national interests of the US', to bolster the fledgling regime in Kabul... In 1999, the country produced almost three-quarters of the world's heroin and 90% of the drug sold on the streets of Europe. The hardline Taliban regime banned poppy cultivation in 2000, but took no action to seize existing stockpiles or to disrupt the movement of supplies across traditional trafficking routes... Independent warlords have replaced the Taliban in raking off a share of the take from the trade." So reports the Herald of Glasgow.

On Karzai's First Visit to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan Agree to Build US-Backed Gas Pipeline

"Afghanistan's interim leader Hamid Karzai said on Friday he and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf had agreed to revive a plan for a trans-Afghan gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Pakistan. 'Both sides have agreed that the construction of this pipeline will be very beneficial for both the countries as well as for the entire region,' Karzai told a news conference after talks with General Musharraf... calling the project 'very essential.' Karzai was in Islamabad on his first official visit to Pakistan...Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, seeking new export outlets for his country's abundant gas reserves, said...'Peace is finally being installed in Afghanistan. And we can now build a pipeline to Pakistan across its territory.' A consortium led by U.S. Unocal had originally aimed to build the $1.9 billion, 1,400-km pipeline." Both Karzai and Zalmay Khalilzad, Bush's Special Envoy to Afghanistan, are former consultants to Unocal. How con-veen-yent!

If Bu$h Didn't Promise the Afghan Pipeline to Unocal, Then to Whom? Was It - ENRON?

According to Forbes, "A Unocal spokeswoman insists the company never considered building the pipeline under an illegitimate regime--and is no longer interested in the region. Still, the potential bounty of delivering $700 million or so of gas each year is bound to tempt someone, even if Afghanistan's new interim government and old warlords can't bury the scimitar." This is VERY interesting. Is Unocal lying, or did Bu$h promise the grand prize of the Afghan War - the gas pipeline to Pakistan - to someone else? Could it have been... ENRON??? (Free registration required)

U.S. Begins Colonization of Central Asia

"The task of the encircling US bases now shooting up on Afghanistan's periphery is only partly to contain the threat of political regression or Taliban resurgence in Kabul. Their bigger, longer-term role is to project US power and US interests into countries previously beyond its reach. Thus Uzbekistan now finds itself home to a permanent American base at Khanabad, housing 1,500 personnel; Manas, near Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, is described as a future 'transportation hub' housing 3,000 soldiers, warplanes and surveillance aircraft; more airfields are under US control in Tajikistan and Pakistan; and the Pentagon has begun regular replacement and rotation of troops, thereby institutionalising what were at the outset temporary, emergency deployments... If the Afghans behave themselves, they even may get to run the pipeline. " So writes Simon Tisdall in the Guardian.

In 1997, Unocal Invited Taliban Leaders to Texas!

Unocal was so desperate to build an oil pipeline through Afghanistan that in 1997 it invited Taliban leaders to the company's headquarters in Sugarland, Texas. Unocal also "commissioned the University of Nebraska to teach Afghan men the technical skills needed for pipeline construction. Nearly 140 people were enrolled last month in Kandahar," according to the BBC. As we reported a few days ago, Bush has brazenly appointed Zalmay Khalilzad, a Unocal advisor, as the US envoy to Afghanistan! Khalilzad drew up a risk analysis of a proposed gas pipeline through Afghanistan. (Enter 'Unocal' in our website's.Compass search engine). A few presstitutes have written articles dismissing the idea that BushCheney are after oil in the 'stans. Yes and pigs do fly -- especially with oil-soaked wings!

Surprise! Bu$h Appoints Unocal Advisor as his Envoy to Afghanistan, to Make Sure Unocal's Pipeline Gets Built. Was the War in Afghanistan Really About Oil?

"Bush has appointed a former aide to the American oil company Unocal, Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, as special envoy to Afghanistan. The nomination was announced December 31... [and] underscores the real economic and financial interests at stake in the US military intervention in Central Asia. Khalilzad is intimately involved in the long-running US efforts to obtain direct access to the oil and gas resources of the region, largely unexploited but believed to be the second largest in the world after the Persian Gulf. As an adviser for Unocal, Khalilzad drew up a risk analysis of a proposed gas pipeline from the former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan across Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. He participated in talks between the oil company and Taliban officials in 1997, which were aimed at implementing a 1995 agreement to build the pipeline across western Afghanistan." So reports the World Socialist Web Site.

United Airline's New CEO Courted the Taliban - And Perpetuated Slavery in Burma

"John Creighton is a director on the board of the oil and gas company Unocal. Disregarding the Taliban's dismal record on human rights, the company spends a year cozying up to these rulers, giving them money and legitimacy. The Taliban sponsors camps that train militants who hate the United States. Some of these men fly to America, hijack two planes owned by United Airlines (among others), murder the flight attendants first, kill 4800 or so others, flatten financial and government buildings, and wreck the airline industry. United Airlines is one of the worst hit. To fix this mess, United's investors hire one of their board members, John Creighton. As CEO, Creighton will probably make, like his predecessor, about a million dollars a year. He steps down from his chairmanship at Unocal, but retains his seat on the board." So writes the Village Voice.

Bush v. Taliban: US Bombs Help Northern Alliance Gain in the North

The war to overthrow the Taliban government had its first significant success, as Northern Alliance troops backed by US bombs took Mazar-i-Sharif. Taliban troops in the north are in retreat, and Northern Alliance forces hope to surround and kill them. Capturing Mazar-i-Sharif will allow the US to ship desperately-needed food and humanitarian aid from Uzbekistan. But the US still refuses to help the Northern Alliance take Kabul, because the Pashtun majority in the South would never accept them.

Zbigniew Brzezinski Is Proud He Created the Mujahideen

In 1998, former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski told Le Nouvel Observateur that he persuaded President Jimmy Carter to create the Mujahideen in 1979, with the goal of "drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap." Brzezinski told Carter, "We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam war," which Brzezinsky credited with bringing about the end of the Soviet Union. He asked, "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?" History will judge.

Pakistan Created the Taliban - Will It Really Help US Defeat Them?

"Trouble will begin if too many bearded men are killed. In my opinion one reason for the delay in action is that the Pakistan Army is trying to make sure that the Taliban do not resist the United States. The advice being given to the faithful is: shave your beards and keep your powder dry. The West will go away and then we'll see. Islamabad detests the Northern Alliance which it defeated via the Taliban when it took Kabul. I cannot stress enough that the Taliban is sustained on every level by Pakistan. What is switched on can also be switched off. The problem for Pakistan is that a wing of the Taliban defected to Bin Laden and his praetorian guard of Arab anarcho-Islamists. These guys will probably fight back whatever the odds." So writes Tariq Ali in Counterpunch.

The Taliban Chief is Insane, Says His Doctor

According to the London Telegraph, "Mullah Omar, the one-eyed leader of the Taliban currently defying the West, is mentally unstable and suffers fits during which he babbles incomprehensibly, according to one of his personal physicians. 'He locks himself away for two or three days at a time and the official line is that he is having visions, but in fact he is suffering brain seizures,' said the doctor who works at a hospital in the mullah's home town of Kandahar... Apart from these fits, the Taliban leader suffers from serious depression, alternating with bouts of childlike behaviour where he sits in the driving seat of one of his cars, turning the wheel while making the noise of an engine... His doctors believe that these mood swings may be a result of shrapnel lodged in his brain when he lost his eye in 1989 during a Russian rocket attack."

Buy Beautiful Handcrafts from Afghan Women Refugees

These crafts were handmade by Afghan women refugees living in Pakistan. For refugees, opportunities for selling their handmade crafts are limited. The Feminist Majority Foundation, as a part of our Campaign to Stop Gender Apartheid in Afghanistan, is providing an outlet for the sale of these beautiful products in order to assist these women in generating some income for themselves and for their schools and clinics. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of all items will go back to Afghan women and girls.

Demand Constitutional Democracy and Women's Rights in Afghanistan

"The only way that Afghan women ever will finally gain their freedom and that global security ever will be achieved long-term is if constitutional democracy is restored in Afghanistan. At the same time that terrorism is eliminated, the full rights of women must be restored and commitments must be made to provide humanitarian assistance and to help rebuild the economy and democratic infrastructure of Afghanistan." So writes Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority. Sign the letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell and your Congressional representatives.

Famished Afghan Children Fade Away

"His name, Shirin, means 'sweetie.' He is about 3 years old and weighs less than 6 1/2 pounds. He lies, with flies crawling around his eyes, in a room with mud floors and walls in mountainous Afghanistan, and the local doctor says he will die soon of hunger... Twenty-two years of war and four years of drought have devastated Afghanistan, leaving millions facing hunger and the threat of starvation. ... Last week, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator, Kenzo Oshima, called Afghanistan the site of the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Shirin's mother has already lost three children, all of whom died in infancy from the combined effects of hunger and illness. One of Shirin's grandmothers lost five of her nine children from the same causes. The child's father is away on the front line fighting the Taliban, Afghanistan's radical Islamic regime." So reports Robyn Dixon in the LA Times.

Ebola-Style Killer Virus Sweeps Afghan Border

"The largest outbreak in history of a highly contagious disease that causes patients to bleed to death from every orifice was confirmed yesterday on Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan. At least 75 people have caught the disease so far and eight have died. An isolation ward screened off by barbed wire has been set up in the Pakistani city of Quetta, and an international appeal has been launched for help." So reports Tim Butcher of the London Telegraph.

Women are the Taliban's Bravest Opponents

"Filmed by the half-Afghan BBC reporter Saira Shah, who traveled undercover to Afghanistan last year, 'Behind the Veil' neatly captures the horror of life under the Taliban -- the public executions for infractions as minor as prostitution or adultery, the brutality of fundamentalist police, the slaughter of civilians unlucky enough to live on the front line of the civil war with the Northern Alliance." But in an interview with Salon, "Fatima" says the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) "condemn[ed] an attack of the U.S. on Afghanistan, because it won't be the Taliban but our people who will be the victims. The United States should decry these terrorist groups in Afghanistan; but not through an attack. Maybe through commando attacks, though." She also condemned US support for the Northern Alliance: "Seventy-year-old grandmothers were raped during their rule, thousands of girls were raped, thousands were killed and tortured."

To Topple the Taliban, The US Could Arm Afghan Women

While Bush cuts deals with more Islamic patriarchs in the north, the real potential for change comes from within. "'Women who have children too young to flee or are too weak to go are faced with two choices: starvation or suicide,' says Sahar Saba, a representative of the [Revolutionary Afghan Women's Association.] She said that since the United Nation's pullout from Afghanistan two weeks ago many women, particularly widows, lost their only access to food. 'They are now eating grass and even that is beginning to run out,' Saba said... 'The Taliban have begun taking young men from their houses to fight,' she said. 'But the Taliban are scared. Most have fled the cities in anticipation of an attack. 'The mullahs do not go out on the streets anymore,' she said. 'We are now seeing women who ask us for guns to fight the Taliban. It is only a matter of time before people rise up. The Taliban are finished.'"

Taliban Invites Rev. Jesse Jackson to Negotiate Peace

The Taliban's UN representative, Mohammed Sohail Shaheen, invited Rev. Jesse Jackson to help avoid a "humanitarian catastrophe" in Afghanistan by forming a delegation to travel to the region to negotiate a peace. Jackson immediately consulted Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, who urged him not to go. John Mercer, whose 24-year-old daughter is in Taliban custody, asked for Jackson's help in securing his daughter's release. Jackson, who has saved the lives of dozens of soldiers and hostages under similar circumstances, is considering whether to accept the Taliban's invitation.

American Feminists Warned About the Taliban's Extremism

In Salon, Janelle Brown writes, "Feminists and human rights activists have been concerned about the Taliban's oppression of women for years... Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, warned three years ago of the potential danger to the rest of the world of Taliban fanaticism, demanding, in a petition organized with a coalition of feminists, that the U.S. government not recognize the Taliban government because of its treatment of women... 'We argued that the Talibanization of society would not stop in Afghanistan. We could see it moving into Pakistan, into Algiers and all through the Middle East to Turkey,' explains Smeal. 'We argued that it would lead to regional instability, and that this had much larger world ramifications than just what is happening to women there.'"

Afghan Refugees Stream into Pakistan - What will the World Do to Help Them?

"The government of Pakistan is looking at 800,000 to one million people flooding into the Northwest Frontier Province and another 500,000 into Baluchistan," said Yusuf Hassan, a spokesman for the United Nations high commissioner on refugees. "Of course, the scale depends on what happens in the coming weeks in Afghanistan, but whatever happens, there is going to be a problem with funding. These countries, Pakistan and Iran, say they cannot support any more Afghan refugees." How will the world respond to this enormous humanitarian crisis?

Who Are our Allies in Afghanistan?

Bush is now embracing Afghanistan's Northern Alliance, which was largely defeated by an alliance of the Taliban AND Pakistan. So how can we back the Northern Alliance without persuading Pakistan to abandon their support for the Taliban? Moreover, do we want to be on the same side as Iran and Russia, the primary backers of the Alliance? And who actually leads the Alliance - and are they any better than the Taliban? Americans need to know the answers.

Afghan Women Risk their Lives to Fight the Taliban

"In the din of voices last week there was a small, ignored one coming out of somewhere in Pakistan. It was a woman's voice. It stood in solidarity with the 'great American people' in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks. The voice came from the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, a group breaking every law the ruling Taliban has imposed on the country... In Afghanistan, membership in Rawa is punishable by death. The Taliban may have outlawed modern technology in Afghanistan - from television to the Internet to telephones - but Rawa uses all of those technologies in its fight. The group's permanent home is in cyberspace and its members sneak into Afghanistan to record the lives of miserable people and broadcast world-wide... Rawa was founded in 1977 by a group of university-educated women who were part of Kabul's then flourishing, liberal intelligentsia. Those older members indoctrinated their beliefs to a younger generation of women."

Russian Veteran of War in Afghanistan Has This Advice for America: Do Not Go There

Writes Peter Graf in the Moscow Times: "Colonel Yury Shamanov spent half a decade fighting in the dizzyingly high mountains and bone-dry plains of Afghanistan as commander of a regiment in a war that brought the Soviet superpower to its knees. And he has advice for the United States: Do not go to war in Afghanistan. 'If the Americans go to war, I pity those boys. And their mothers and sisters and brothers. It will be 10 times worse than Vietnam. Vietnam will be a picnic by comparison. Here they will get it in the teeth. Oh. They will get it good. Rockets won't save you: There's nothing out there to shoot at. Blast away years' worth of ammo. The mountains will survive anything." What does he remember most about his years in Afghanistan? "The thing I remember most is that to all my questions, the questions of my colleagues, superior officers, 'why are we here?' There was never any reply. We had no business there." Before America's youth are sent to this nightmarish theatre, the Administration must provide specific and credible answers to this question.

This Was the Official Bush Administration Policy Toward Afganistan Before September 11

In May of this year the Bush administration significantly escalated humanitarian aid for the people of Afghanistan, following an agreement with the Taliban -- its ruling cabal -- that they would take further action to prevent their people from growing poppies, from which heroin is derived. Secretary of State Colin Powell drew attention to the 4 million innocent Afghans who were suffering from starvation and disease after many years of war and famine. And the U.S. government observed that 1,200 refugees a day were streaming into neighboring Pakistan seeking food and shelter. How can any good possibly come from neighboring countries shutting off the escape routes for this flood of helpless refugees just because they are incapable of overthrowing a government that enslaves them?

Bush Ignored Warning from Jan Schakowsky to Confront Taliban Extremism

Washington DC, May 23, 2001: "U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) organized a letter signed by more than 100 of her colleagues, including Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO), calling on President Bush to intervene on behalf of Afghanistan's Hindu minority. Afghanistan's Taliban government is planning to force Hindu residents and other religious minorities to wear labels on their clothes to differentiate them from Muslim citizens. 'The action of the Taliban toward Afghanistan's Hindu minority is disturbingly reminiscent of Nazi Germany's treatment of the Jews. The United States has a responsibility as the world leader to speak up now and to demand an immediate end to this policy, before it's too late,' said Schakowsky." Unfortunately, Bush didn't listen - one more warning that Bush ignored.

Don't Bomb Afghanistan - Invade It and Establish a Legitimate Government

"The Taliban and bin Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics who took over Afghanistan in 1997. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think bin Laden, think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the perpetrators. They would exult if someone would come in there, take out the Taliban and clear out the rats' nest of international thugs holed up in their country." So writes San Francisco writer Tamim Ansary, son of a former Afghani politician.

Why Did Bush Give $43 Million to Afghanistan in May?

On May 22, LA Times columnist Robert Scheer denounced "the recent gift of $43 million to the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan, the most virulent anti-American violators of human rights in the world today. The gift, announced last Thursday by Secretary of State Colin Powell... makes the U.S. the main sponsor of the Taliban and rewards that "rogue regime" for declaring that opium growing is against the will of God... Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading anti-American terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, among other crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998. Sadly, the Bush administration is cozying up to the Taliban regime at a time when the United Nations, at U.S. insistence, imposes sanctions on Afghanistan because the Kabul government will not turn over Bin Laden." Is the US funding the Taliban? Bush needs to tell Americans the truth.

US Aid to Afghanistan Remains a Mystery

Before the US starts bombing Afghanistan, we need to better understand our relationship to this distant land. Back in May, the US announced a $43 million aid package. This brought "U.S. assistance to $124.2 million for this year, making the United States the largest Afghan donor for the second year in a row." The report says "U.S. aid is administered by the United Nations and non-governmental organizations, and bypasses the Taliban." Other news reports said the funds were going to the Taliban. Are we funding the Taliban, or are we engaged in a covert war to bring them down? As we search for the bodies of American victims at home, we need to search for the truth about our activities abroad, which are too often concealed from Americans.

'Compassionate Conservative' Bush Gives $43 Million To The Taliban Just As The Taliban Announces That Hindus Must Wear Identity Badges!

As reported in the LA Times (5/22), last Thursday Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a gift of $43 million (in addition to other aid) to Afghanistan's Taliban for its "official" anti-opium stance. Yet the AP reported on 5/25 that, "a UN panel accused Afghanistan Taliban rulers Friday of selling opium and heroin to finance its war against northern rebels and to train terrorists. It called for the United Nations to monitor the drug trade as part of an existing arms embargo." Will this gift of $43 million go towards funding the Taliban's counter-insurgency war, just like the drugs have (and may still do)? The Taliban is a gross human rights violator that has oppressed its citizens, especially women and children – not to mention it's religious intolerance in destroying all of the nation's Buddhist statues. But it gets even worse, "the Taliban has ordered Hindus in Afghanistan to wear identity badges reminiscent of Spain during the Inquisition and Germany under Hitler."