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Bush's 'Model' for the Middle East: A Humanitarian Disaster Run by Corrupt Puppets and Forgotten by the US

by Cheryl Seal

When I read this morning that Bush is now touting Afghanistan as a "model" for "improvement" in the Middle East/Central Asia because things there are going just so gosh darn well, I found myself reaching for the barf bag. This Bush claim is so outrageous that it seems to offer timely proof of the observations made lately by a D.C. shrink that Bush is indeed a sick puppy, one driven by delusions and sadistic whims. 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 fundamentalist rule (locally) of routinely violent war lords. The Karzai government has little influence beyond a tiny sphere based in Kabul.

If you want the Bush bullsh-t version, you can view the latest steaming pile extruded by the corporate media in its unquestioning efforts to prop up the tottering Bush regime. A sample:(example: http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/ny-woafgh163852132jun16,0,2773321.story?coll=ny-worldnews-headlines)

However, if you want the true story, read through the sad litany of stories below, gleaned from various international sources in the past 30 days, along with links to a site for and by Afghan women, where the reality of what is happening to females in Afghanistan can be learned.

JUNE 16: Four Killed in Terrorist Attack on Peacekeeper Convoy in Afghanistan

KABUL, Afghanistan - A remote-controlled bomb hit a convoy of German peacekeepers in northern Afghanistan Wednesday, killing one Afghan driver and three passing civilians, officials said. The attack came amid a deteriorating security ahead of September elections, and just a week after 11 Chinese workers were shot in their beds in the same province."


. JUNE 16: Terrorist Attack on Aid Office Marks Escalation of Violence in Peace area of Afghanistan
BBC News

A bomb has exploded at the office of a British aid agency in Afghanistan. The explosion blew out windows and the front gates of the building belonging to London-based Afghanaid in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Local power struggles have been blamed for the attack in a relatively peaceful part of the country. The explosion comes on the same day four Afghan civilians were killed in an explosion in nearby Kunduz. "


JUNE 16: US Base Attacked by Rocket Fire in Southeastern Afghanistan
Hi Pakistan News:

KABUL: A US base for troops hunting militants in southeastern Afghanistan came under rocket attack in southeastern Afghanistan but no one was injured, a US military official said Wednesday. Unknown attackers fired more than ten rockets over the US base in Khost province on Sunday, Lieutenant Colonel Tucker Mansager told a news briefing in Kabul. No coalition soldiers were hurt in the attack and Mansager was unable to say who might have been behind it.


JUNE 16: Number of Prisoner Abuse Cases being Investigated in Afghanistan Rises
Hi Pakistan

"The number of cases of misconduct by US soldiers against detainees and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan now numbers at least 91, and is likely higher, an army official said Tuesday. The new figure is nearly double the 49 cases of abuse disclosed two weeks ago by senior Pentagon officials. It is a blow to the administration's efforts to portray the highly publicized abuse cases at Abu Ghraib prison as an isolated case. US commanders have opened 91 investigations into misconduct by US soldiers against detainees and civilians, an army official said, confirming a report on the higher number by The Washington Post. But the official cautioned that that tally was about two weeks old, and the army's Criminal Investigation Command was still gathering information on the outstanding investigations. It was "likely" that the total was higher, the official said, noting that cases were difficult to track because commanders can conduct investigations without reporting them up the chain of command. Senior army officials on May 22 told reporters that 37 death cases and 16 assault cases have been investigated since August of 2002. "


JUNE 15, 2004: UN World Food Program Says Afghanistan Facing Severe Food Storage - 4 Million in Danger of Starvation
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

"The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) told IRIN on Tuesday, that food shortages were still an issue of concern in many parts of the country. "According to our survey, up to four million people in rural areas of Afghanistan are not able to provide all their food needs," arten Roest, a spokesman for WFP, told IRIN in the capital Kabul.

According to WFP, due to a resurgence of drought and security problems, people are suffering severe food insecurity in certain rural areas. "e are receiving more and more information of drought in expanding areas of Afghan territory,"he said, adding that the UN food agency was reassessing the scale of the food shortage to address the rising humanitarian problem.

Despite higher rainfall in 2003 and a recovery from five years of severe drought, many provinces in the southern and central parts of Afghanistan are once again threatened by food shortages. Earlier this month, the governor of the southern city of Kandahar, Yousuf Pashtun, declared southern Afghanistan a drought-affected region and called upon UN agencies and aid organisations for urgent assistance.

Meanwhile, WFP' concern follows a report by the Paris-based Action Contre la Faim (ACF) aid agency, which alerted the aid community to the possibility of a severe food shortage in central Afghanistan last Wednesday."


JUNE 15: 52% of Afghanistan's Income is Now Derived from Drug Trade:
UN News Center

"During a three-day meeting in Kabul last week, UNODC officials and senior Afghan Government representatives discussed how to strengthen the country' legislation by implementing the content of 12 international treaties or legal instruments against terrorism.They also considered how to implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, as well as its Protocols on human trafficking, migrant smuggling, and firearms trafficking and manufacturing.

Before the meeting, UNODC Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa visited Afghanistan to study the country' problems with drug production. It is the world' largest opium producer.

Last year, opium production reached an estimated 3,600 tons, generating the equivalent to 52 per cent of Afghanistan' gross domestic product (GDP). UNODC expects production to rise even further this year.


JUNE 11: 11 Chinese Aid Workers Killed by Afghan Terrorists
New York Times via RAWA

The massacre of 11 Chinese road construction workers and an Afghan guard as they slept in their tents early Thursday was the deadliest against foreigners since the fall of the Taliban and dealt a setback to United States efforts to stabilize the country ahead of elections scheduled for September.

The men were among more than 100 Chinese engineers and construction workers who had recently arrived in Afghanistan to work on a World Bank project to rebuild a road running north from Kabul to the Tajikistan border. Some of those killed Thursday had been in Afghanistan only a few days, the Chinese news agency reported.


JUNE 8: Trafficking in Children in Afghanistan Rising Rapidly UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

" Afghan authorities in the capital Kabul have said that child kidnapping is on the rise. According to Interior Ministry officials, at least 200 children have been kidnapped or abducted over the past 12 months.

"The Interior Ministry recognises child kidnapping as a serious issue and is taking positive steps to stop this crime. We have arrested 100 kidnappers in two years and this shows the efforts the ministry is making," Lutfullah Mashal, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told IRIN.

The UN's children's agency UNICEF is also working to eradicate the problem. "Certainly UNICEF is increasingly concerned at the number of reports of child abductions and trafficking in Afghanistan. We take the reports seriously and are working closely with our partners in the government and at community level to try to reduce the risks to children," UNICEF spokesman Edward Carwardine told IRIN in Kabul on Tuesday.

He said that UNICEF was focusing on both prevention and on the reintegration of children who have been intercepted while in the process of being trafficked. This has included training for police officers and border patrols to raise awareness and understanding of the trafficking issue. There has also been training for key government officials.


Afghan Children Fall Prey to Killers Trading in Human Body Parts

Ismail is only 10 years old, but the horrors of the past three months will be with him to his grave. He was rescued by the Afghan authorities on Friday, after being kidnapped in March with his brother Ibrahim, 6.

Quietly, he told seeing the bodies of four boys of about his age that had been cut open. "They took us to a mountain where I saw the bodies," he said. "They had taken out the organs. They were on the ground at the bottom of this mountain, then the men took them away. They were boys of about our age. I thought I would not live long when I saw them. I was scared."

The intelligence chief for the south, Dr Abdullah Laghmani, said local forces were searching for the four bodies, having found one already in Panjwai district to the southwest of Kandahar, where he is based. "We have information they [the kidnappers] killed five children, cutting their heads off and opening their stomachs to extract their kidneys," Dr Laghmani said.

He believes the kidnappers, involved in a worrying rise in the number of disappearing children across the country, planned to sell the kidneys in Pakistan, where patients are prepared to pay large amounts of money for healthy organs. There also appear to be other motives, including extortion.

Ali Ahmad Jalali, the Interior Minister, said recently that hundreds of children had been taken out of the country illegally in recent years, and some had been kidnapped for their body parts.


JUNE 4: GAO Report Released in Early June, 2004 Says Afghanistan Plagued by Lack of Funds, Limited Successin REconstruction, Deteriorating Security, Increased Violence
GAO report overview at Taxpayers for commonsense

"The report found that long-term reconstruction efforts were achieving "limited results." The reasons for this slow progress include the mundane: a lack of funds and associated delays in contracting; and the deadly: deteriorating security and increased violence from enemies of the nascent democracy. Most of our success came early in the reconstruction effort, thanks to the considerable amount of money that we committed to short-term humanitarian assistance.

Of the nearly $1.4 billion appropriated for assistance to Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003, only $900 million has been spent. Of that, 75% was for short-term humanitarian aid, leaving little for the much more costly and wide scale business of rebuilding. More than $500 million obligated for long-term reconstruction remains unspent because of inadequate USAID staff in Afghanistan, security concerns, and the timing of incoming funding."


MAY 31: Lost in Afghanistan: Karzai's Government is 'Hopelessly Corrupt'
Robert Novak (and this guy supports Bush - so you know it's gotta be bad to get him to comment):

"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."


MAY 25: Shocked UN Officials Declare Afghanistan a 'Basket Case'
The Independent

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."


Allies Fail Afghan People as Violence Escalates with a Vengeance
UK Indepedent via RAWA

The road from the village of Ozbin Khol is safe no longer. The eight aid workers packed into a Toyota LandCruiser were keen to get to their destination, Sarobi, before nightfall. But a punctured tire stopped them. Two young men, carrying Kalashnikovs, their faces covered by keffayahs, came out of the darkness, lined up the passengers and opened fire, killing five. The killings, in Paktika province, south-east of Kabul, were at the end of February. The next month, gunmen burst into a guesthouse near the southern city of Kandahar, killing three more aid workers. Two weeks ago, two Europeans, one with a Swiss passport, were stoned and stabbed to death at Bagh Chilsthan, just 15 minutes' drive from the center of Kabul.


MAY 21: Karzai Reduced to Bargaining with Warlords as Situation in AFghanistan Deteriorates
Pak Tribue

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



Afghanistan Women's Plight Has Changed Little Under US Occupation Meena Nanji
Women's rights activist in Afghanistan

"For most women, life has not changed much since the ousting of the Taliban. While ostensibly there are increased opportunities: women can go to school, receive health care and gain employment, in reality few women can take advantage of these possibilities and they are largely restricted to Kabul. According to the many aid workers and Afghan women that I spoke to, women continue to be very fearful of the armed US-backed mujahideen who exert control over much of the country. Most women, even in Kabul, still wear the burqa (the head to toe garment that covers the whole body) as a protective measure against public humiliation and physical attack. The U.N and international human rights groups recently released reports detailing increased incidents of beatings, kidnappings and rape by U.S-funded regional warlords and their militia, stating: "local militia commanders violate women's rights and commit sexual abuse with impunity". In addition, women are still subject to the demands of their husbands or male relatives, many of whom do not want to grant them any degree of independence. Women face a lack of choice in their personal lives and vocation; forced and under-age marriages are common, and education for girls is still contested.

The Ministry of Women's Affairs, ushered in with much fanfare by the U.S and the U.N., is of little help in advancing women's rights. Many believe it exists largely in name to keep international donors happy."