Category Archives: NATO

Who Represents Afghanistan: Genuine Activists vs “Native Informants” 

Scenes of thousands of Afghans flooding the Kabul International Airport to flee the country as Taliban fighters were quickly consolidating their control over the capital, raised many questions, leading amongst them: who are these people and why are they running away?

In the US and other Western media, answers were readily available: they were mostly ‘translators’, Afghans who ‘collaborated’ with the US and other NATO countries; ‘activists’ who were escaping from the brutality awaiting them once the Americans and their allies left the country, and so on.

Actually, the answer is far more complex than that offered by Western officials and media, which ultimately – although inaccurately – conveyed the impression that NATO armies were in Afghanistan to safeguard human rights, to educate women and to bring civilization to a seemingly barbaric culture.

Though political dissent is a basic human right, there is a clear and definitive line between the legitimate right to challenge one’s government/regime and willingly collaborating with another – especially when that collaboration can have dire consequences on one’s own people.

In the United States and Europe, there are thousands of political dissidents from many parts of the world – from South America, the Middle East, East Asia, and others – who are, sadly, used as cheerleaders for political and military interventions, either directly by certain governments, or indirectly, through lobby and pressure groups, academic circles and mainstream media.

These individuals, often promoted as ‘experts’, appear and disappear whenever they are useful and when their usefulness expires. Some might even be sincere and well-intentioned when they speak out against, for example, human rights violations committed by certain regimes in their own home countries, but the outcome of their testimonies is almost always translated to self-serving policies.

Thousands of Afghans – political dissidents, NATO collaborators, students, athletes and workers seeking opportunities – have already arrived in various western capitals. Expectedly, many are being used by the media and various pressure groups to retrospectively justify the war on Afghanistan, as if it was a moral war. Desperate to live up to the expectations, Afghan ‘activists’ are already popping up on western political platforms, speaking about the Taliban’s dismal record of human rights and, especially, women’s rights.

But what is the point of appealing to the western moral consciousness after 20 years of a NATO-led deadly invasion that has cost Afghanistan hundreds of thousands of innocent people?

In Afghanistan, an alternative narrative is evolving.

On September 11, hundreds of Afghan women protested in Kabul University, not against the Taliban, but against other Afghan women who purport to speak from western capitals about all Afghan women.

“We are against those women who are protesting on the streets, claiming they are representative of women,” one of the speakers said, Agency France Press reported.

While AFP made a point of repeating that the women protesters have “pledged” their commitment to “all Taliban’s hardline policies on gender segregation”, emphasizing how they were all covered “head to toe,” the event was significant. Among many issues, it raises the question: who represents Afghan women, those who left or those who stayed?

A large banner held by the protesters in Kabul read: “Women who left Afghanistan cannot represent us.”

The truth is no one represents Afghan women except those who are democratically-elected by Afghan society to represent all sectors of that society, women included. Until real democracy is practiced in Afghanistan, the struggle will continue for real freedom, human rights, equality and, obviously, representation.

This fight can only take place within an organic, grassroots Afghan context – whether in Afghanistan or outside of the country – but certainly not through Fox News, the BBC or US Senate hearings.

The late Palestinian-American scholar, Professor Edward Said, had repeatedly warned of the pseudo reality painted by the ‘native informants’ – supposed political dissidents recruited by western governments to provide a convenient depiction of the reality in the Middle East and elsewhere, as a moral justification for war. The consequences, as the 2003 Iraq war and invasion have demonstrated, can be horrific.

Said challenged a particular ‘native informant’, the late Fouad Ajami, a Lebanese academic, whose ideas about the Iraqi enthusiasm for the US war, though proved disastrously wrong, were used by George W. Bush and others as proof that the impending war was destined to be a ‘cakewalk’.

Ajami’s ideas were long discredited, but the political machinations that still prefer ‘native informants’ to genuine human rights defenders and good scholarship remain in place. Many of the Afghan escapees are sure to be strategically placed through the same channels, which continue to promote interventions and sanctions as sound policies.

The war in Afghanistan has ended, hopefully for good, but the conflict on who represents the people of that war-torn country remains unresolved. It behooves the Taliban to deliver on its promises regarding equal representation and political plurality, otherwise there are many others abroad who will be ready to claim the role of legitimate representation.

In the Middle East, in particular, we have already witnessed this phenomenon of the west-based ‘legitimate’ democratic representations. Ultimately, these ‘governments-in-exile’ wrought nothing but further political deception, division, corruption, and continued war.

War-torn Afghanistan – exhausted, wounded and badly needing a respite – deserves better.

The post Who Represents Afghanistan: Genuine Activists vs “Native Informants”  first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Following Afghanistan Defeat: Can EU Win Own ‘Independence’ from the US?

Suddenly, the idea put forth by French President, Emmanuel Macron, late last year does not seem so far-fetched or untenable after all. Following the US-NATO hurried withdrawal from Afghanistan, European countries are now forced to consider the once unthinkable:  a gradual dismantling from US dominance.

When, on September 29, 2020, Macron uttered these words: “We, some countries more than others, gave up on our strategic independence by depending too much on American weapons systems”, the context of this statement had little to do with Afghanistan. Instead, Europe was angry at the bullying tactics used by former US President Donald Trump and sought alternatives to US leadership. The latter has treated NATO – actually, all of Europe – with such disdain, that it has forced America’s closest allies to rethink their foreign policy outlook and global military strategy altogether.

Even the advent of US President Joe Biden and his assurances to Europe that “America is back” did little to reassure European countries, which fear, justifiably, that US political instability may exist long after Biden’s term in office expires.

The chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan – without NATO members even being consulted or considered as the US signed and enacted a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban starting in July 2020 – has convinced Europe that, despite the defeat of Trump, Washington has essentially remained the same: a self-centered ‘ally’.

Now that the US and NATO have officially left Afghanistan, a political debate in Europe is raging on many political platforms. The strongest indicators that Europe is ready to proceed with an independent foreign policy agenda and European-centered military strategy became evident in the EU Defense Ministers’ meeting in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

In a position that is increasingly representing a wider EU stance, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell Fontelles, articulated the Bloc’s prevailing sentiment: “The experience from Afghanistan has shown that our inability to respond comes at a price. The EU must therefore strengthen its strategic autonomy by creating the first entry force capable of ensuring stability in the EU’s neighborhood.”

Despite assurances that this ‘first entry force’ will not represent an alternative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but rather ‘complement’ its role, chances are this new army will serve as a stepping stone for Europe’s coveted independence from the US foreign policy agenda.

Just marvel at these statements by top European, including British, officials and analysts to appreciate the crisis underway in NATO. Remember that 51 NATO members and partner countries had rushed to aid the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, following the invocation of the common-defense clause, Article 5.

“Nobody asked us whether it was a good idea to leave that country in such … a way,” Johann Wadephul, a deputy caucus leader for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, said, with reference to the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the absence of any coordination with Washington’s NATO allies.

Former British Prime Minister, Theresa May, questioned everything, including Europe’s blind allegiance to the US: “Was our intelligence really so poor? Was our understanding of the Afghan government so weak? Was our knowledge on the ground so inadequate? Or did we just think we had to follow the United States and on a wing and a prayer it would be all right on the night?”

Katharina Emschermann, the deputy director of the reputable Berlin-based Center for International Security at the Hertie School, seemed to speak for many European analysts when she said: “Part of the discord that we’re seeing now is probably also rooted in the sense of unease about how things are going to go on in the future.”

This ‘unease’ refers to Europe’s traditional foreign policy, which has been hostage to post-WWII Trans-Atlantic European American partnership. However, Europe itself is changing, together with the world around it. Moreover, the Chinese economy has grown tremendously in recent years. As of last year, it was Beijing, not Washington, that served the critical role of being the EU’s largest trade partner.

Not only has Chinese economic – thus, political and military – clout grown exponentially, Europe’s share of the global economy has shrunk significantly, and not only because of the Brexit ordeal. According to NBC news, citing the British accounting firm PwC, “in 1960, the countries that would form the E.U. made up a third of the global economy. By 2050, the bloc is projected to account for just 9 percent”.

The growing realization among European countries that they must engineer an eventual break-up from the US is rooted in legitimate fears that the EU’s interest is hardly a top American priority. Hence, many European countries continue to resist Washington’s ultimatums regarding China.

It was also Macron, while elaborating on the concept of the European army, who rejected the US China agenda. “We cannot accept to live in a bipolar world made up of the US and China,” he said.

Macron’s once ‘controversial’ view is now mainstream thinking in Europe, especially as many EU policy-makers feel disowned, if not betrayed, by the US in Afghanistan. If this trajectory of mistrust continues, the first step towards the establishment of a European army could, in the near future, become an actuality.

The post Following Afghanistan Defeat: Can EU Win Own ‘Independence’ from the US? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Afghanistan:  a military and an “aid” failure

While recent events have destroyed the credibility of militarists who pushed for the invasion and 20-year-long occupation of Afghanistan, the moral bankruptcy of their supporters in the aid industry has also been stunningly revealed.

A quick Taliban victory over the foreign trained “Afghan army” at least (momentarily) embarrassed Canadian militarists. But what about their camp followers in the NGO universe?

Over the past two decades Ottawa has plowed over $3.6 billion in “aid” into Afghanistan. During this period the central Asian country has been the top recipient of official assistance, receiving about twice the next biggest destination, another victim of Canadian foreign policy, Haiti.

While Afghanistan is undoubtedly deserving of aid, 10 countries have a lower GDP per capita and 20 countries have a lower life expectancy. So why the focus on Afghanistan? Because it was the place where policymakers thought aid was most likely to have positive results? Of course not. The aid was delivered to support the Canadian, US, and NATO military occupation.

Canadian personnel repeatedly linked development work in Afghanistan to the counterinsurgency effort. “It’s a useful counterinsurgency tool,” is how Lieutenant-Colonel Tom Doucette, commander of Canada’s provincial reconstruction team, described the Canadian International Development Agency’s work in Afghanistan. Development assistance, for instance, was sometimes given to communities in exchange for information on combatants. After a roadside bomb hit his convoy in September 2009, Canadian General Jonathan Vance spent 50 minutes berating village elders for not preventing the attack. “If we keep blowing up on the roads,” he told them, “I’m going to stop doing development.”

The CF worked closely with NGOs in Afghanistan. A 2007 parliamentary report explained that some NGOs “work intimately with military support already in the field.” Another government report noted that the “Civil-Military Cooperation (CIMIC) platoon made up of Army Reserve soldiers organizes meetings with local decision-makers and international NGOs to determine whether they need help with security.”

The aid was also a public relations exercise. At politically sensitive moments in the war Canadian officials sought to showcase newly built schools or dams to divert attention from more unsavory sides of military conflict. Alarmed about a growing casualty list and other negative news, in fall 2006, the Prime Minister’s Office directed the military to “push” reconstruction stories on journalists embedded with the military. Through an access to information request the Globe and Mail obtained an email from Major Norbert Cyr saying, “the major concern [at Privy Council Office] is whether we are pushing development issues with embeds.” In an interview with Jane’s Defence Weekly’s Canadian correspondent, a journalist described what this meant on the ground. “We’ve been invited on countless village medical outreach visits, ribbon-cutting ceremonies, and similar events.” The hope was that reporters embedded at the Canadian base in Kandahar would file more stories about development projects and fewer negative subjects.

At a broader level aid was used to reinforce the foreign occupation. The aim was to support the Afghan forces allied with the US-led occupation. Canada’s military withdrawal from Afghanistan led to a drop in aid, and now that US forces have withdrawn, Canadian aid will likely dry up.

Historically, military intervention elicits aid. Call it the ‘intervention-equals-aid’ principle or ‘wherever Canadian or US troops kill, Ottawa provides aid’ principle.

Ottawa delivered $7.25 million to South Korea during the early 1950s Korean War. Tens of millions of dollars in Canadian aid supported US policy in South Vietnam in the 1960s and during the 1990-91 Iraq war Canada provided $75 million in assistance to people in countries affected by the Gulf crisis. Amidst the NATO bombing in 1999-2000 the former Yugoslavia was the top recipient of Canadian assistance. After the 2003 US invasion of Iraq Canada announced a $300 million aid package to that country.

As mentioned above, Haiti has been the second largest recipient of Canadian aid over the past two decades. While an elected, pro-poor government was in place between 2001 and 2004 Canadian aid to Haiti was reduced to a trickle. But after the US, French and Canadian invasion ousted thousands of elected officials in 2004, hundreds of millions of dollars flowed into Haiti. Throughout the 15-year UN occupation, Canadian aid continued to flow.

In the years after invasions by foreign troops, Afghanistan, Iraq and Haiti were the top recipients of Canadian “aid”. The thread that connected those three countries was the presence of Canadian or US troops.

Should it even be called aid when it comes along with foreign soldiers? A better description would be the “break it and you pay for it” principle.

Where is the discussion of all this in the NGO world? Canada’s international assistance policy gets a free ride — of course, we’re a force for good — in the mainstream media. But does anyone really believe it’s good for “aid” to be tied to military occupation?

Will those who uncritically promote increased Canadian “aid” discuss its ties to the disaster in Afghanistan? Are any of the NGOs that followed foreign troops to Afghanistan speaking out about their error?

• Yves Engler’s Stand on Guard For Whom?  A People’s History of the Canadian Military is now available.

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Afghanistan:  The Abomination of “White Man’s Burden” and Fake Feminist Narratives

Take up the White Man’s Burden, send for the best ye breed,
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives need – new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child…
Take up the White Man’s burden, the savage wars of peace.

— Rudyard Kipling (1899)

The 2011 UK census recorded that Asian groups together numbered roughly 7% of Britain’s population, Black people 3% and mixed-race 2%, making a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) total of 12%.  In various combinations they are the decedents of people who’ve once been owned, colonised, lost their lands, original culture, languages etc, and in modern societies have little or no collective institutional or financial power, to combat their ghettoisation in the lower reaches the UK class system.  The reason they are here, subject to western structural racism, is because the Tony Blairs of the 18th and 19th C slaughtered and enslaved their ancestors.  Throughout this period of the slavery and racist-imperialist gravy-train – and as Rudyard Kipling’s famous sentiments demonstrate – this oppression was represented as doing indigenous peoples some sort of service or favour.

Elites abandoning the post-war decolonisation consensus in our era, returned to this racist faked foreign policy benevolence, force-feeding the public the narrative, that from intrusive Iraq, Afghanistan wars and elsewhere, ‘America is spreading democracy’.  The extent to which America is itself a democracy is up for debate, but this marketing is simply a rehash, of the 19th C ‘Onward march of western civilisation’ expansionist ideology. When asked, Ghandi is reputed to have mocked the notion of western civilisation saying ‘I think it would be a good idea’.

Modern racist-imperialists – prominently Blair, his former ministers and his media enablers – blatantly reuse tropes of the same racist propaganda.  As the US project in Afghanistan grinds to a halt and tragedy overtakes the country, this propaganda practice has again gone into overdrive.  The BBC and most of the corporate media continue to re-spin the years of western domination of Afghanistan as about, educating its women and children.  In light of the new US withdrawal position, this is not just last year’s Orwell-like Ministry of Truth-style propaganda, but also a racist narrative that’s again hundreds of years old.  During the period of the 18th/19th C imperialist gravy-train, western conquest was similarly represented as ‘civilising the primitive savage’ and justified by narratives of supposedly ‘teaching the ‘w*gs/ darkies Christianity’.  Obscuring the slurs of implied ethnic primitivism from modern media presentation, hardly changes the truth of the material and ideological dynamic.

The ‘educating Afghan women and children’ narrative would, as public discourse, be treated with the shocked incredulity it deserves, were indigenous Afghan casualties, from western conquest and occupation, not as a editorial agenda frequently media played down, effaced and censored from representation,   No matter how many Afghan mothers protest the western killing of their children, this phenomenon has been mainly absented from prominence in news agendas.

When the UK Times unusually broke ranks reporting a 2009 US atrocity, it was left to campaigning scrutiny site Media Lens to follow up in 2010, writing… “American-led troops dragged Afghan children from their beds and shot them during a night raid on December 27 last year, leaving ten people dead. Afghan government investigators said that eight of the dead were schoolchildren, and that some of them had been handcuffed before being killed.”

The extent of the problem meant in 2011 after a further nine children died in a NATO air strike, even President Karzai – an ambitious local politician in effect, simply a western satrap – was forced against potential self-interest, to embarrass General Petraeus publicly stating   “On behalf of the people of Afghanistan I want you to stop the killings of civilians” and the subsequent apology was “not enough”.   The France 24 news site covering Karzai’s statement, also referred to the similar indigenous 65 non-combatants killed during operations in Kunar province’s Ghaziabad district; six civilians killed in neighbouring Nangarhar province, and the hundreds who took to the streets of Kabul protesting the killing of children, all by western forces.

The brutal Taliban shooting of Malala Yousafzai was used as a propaganda boost to the ‘advancing civilisation’ narrative by western media and political elites.  But it is perhaps significant that the Taliban who are hardly public relations sophisticates, felt they need only appeal to the lived experience of indigenous people in Afghanistan and the bordering area of Pakistan – in a 2013 response to the surviving Malala, publicly questioning…

if you were shot but [by] Americans in a drone attack, would world have ever heard updates on your medical status? Would you be called ‘daughter of the nation’? Would the media make a fuss about you? Would General Kiyani have come to visit you and would the world media be constantly reporting on you?… Would a Malala day be announced?… More than 300 innocent women and children have been killed in drones attacks but who cares… (numbers unverified).

Even career politician former President Karzai was similarly in line with grassroots experiences, after this year’s withdrawal announcement, telling Russia’s RT (UK) “The US has lost the war in Afghanistan…years ago, when it bombed Afghan homes”.  And that this western violence had recruited for the indigenous Afghan Taliban and enabled them. “Things went wrong. They (Taliban) began to re-emerge and the part of the population went with them.”

Given that women and their children are most often the first victims of war, there has never been a significant grassroots pro-imperialism feminist movement.  In fact, in contrast to the attempts by pro-war neoliberals to camouflage their atrocities in the clothing of women’s concerns, a generational spanning tradition of anti-war feminists exists, including figures like Jane Adams, Ruth Adler, Vera Brittain, Betty Reardon, and Sylvia Pankhurst who opposed the Italian conquest of Ethiopia.  Current media spin about supposedly helping women in Afghanistan also deliberately side-lines significant figures like CodePink’s Medea Benjamin who recently commented…“A shout out to all who joined CODEPINK and other peace groups to oppose the invasion of Afghanistan. From Bush to Obama, we called for our troops to come home. Now we have to stop the military-industrial complex from dragging us into new wars.”

Another issue is can altruism – particularly with regard to educating indigenous women and children – be remotely believed as a motivation for those responsible for the West’s conquest of Afghanistan? Education has been comodified in George W. Bush’s America, and resulting student debt is at record levels.  Similarly, in contradiction to previous UK Labour Party traditions, the governments comprising PM Tony Blair, Chancellor Gordon Brown and their cabinets abolished the mandatory student support grant and even introduced fees for what had previously been free education.  Consequently, the marketing of the state education policies of Blair et al were frequently parodied by Party grassroots supporters as instead ‘Exploitation, Exploitation, Exploitation’.  Blair’s New Labour cuts to lone parent benefits – primarily harming single mothers and their children – is frequently cited as the moment Labour’s traditional support realised they had been betrayed by neoliberal entryism.  Would Britain’s neoliberal political elite attacking domestic lone mothers and working-class opportunities, really expend financial resources just to help Afghan women and their children?

Historian David Stannard has documented 100 million dead indigenous people of the Americas as victims of the largest holocaust in human history, occurring as a result of the overall conquest of the continent. For its part the US currently has a population of 331+ million people.  There are only 6+ million Native Americans left as part of this population, whose life chances are largely limited by the constraints of the Reservation system. Native Americans are practically un-findable, excluded, in most US cities, and invisible on film and TV.  If President George W Bush wanted to help indigenous people, he could have started at home.

If Bush simply wanted to ‘do good’, given former manufacturing city powerhouses like Detroit are wastelands, suffering from the export of US manufacturing jobs to global sweatshop economies, he could have fought poverty and the resulting homelessness crisis.  Perhaps most significantly he could have tackled the economic underpinnings of the ongoing post-19th C Black human rights crisis.  Are then we really supposed to believe his US conquest of Afghanistan was about some sort of ‘white man’s burden’ altruism?

In contradiction to the western white man’s burden narrative, both Bush and Blair presided over torture programs victimising Muslim people-of-colour.  One victim of the UK Blair torture regime – Fatima Boudchar – was actually pregnant when kidnapped along with her husband for rendition.  In Afghanistan torture was carried out at Bagram which corporate news outlets largely misrepresent as simply an airbase.  Most of the news outlets now pretending to be outraged by human rights concerns under the new Taliban, spun western torture under the entirely new invented term ‘water boarding’ as if it were akin to harmless surfing.  For decades prior to this it was simply known as a Nazi torture technique.  Not particularly a secret given it was represented even in popular film culture.  In Battle of the V1 (1959), a Polish female partisan subjected to Nazi water torture dies after her heart gives out.  In Circle of Deception (1960), it’s features, similarly used on a Canadian officer played by Bradford Dillman.  Yet, when the victims are simply Muslim people-of-colour, the status of the torture technique suddenly changes.

So what are the real incentives behind the US-led conquest of Afghanistan?  On 9/11 the Pentagon and Twin Towers were attacked by 15 violent Sunni Whabbist Saudi Arabians and four other Muslims.  It was suggested that Saudi Whabbists had used the Afghanistan wilderness as a training ground.  The extent of cultural collusion between the Pashton Afghan Taliban and Whabbist Saudi Arabs is often disputed.  In any case Osama Bin Laden was found in neighbouring Pakistan.  The question is if you want to combat violent Saudi Arabian Whabbists, why not stop their export and go to source – Saudi Arabia itself? Saudi Arabia is not only the source of the 9/11 attackers but its appalling human rights on the oppression of women and judicial punishment arguably exceeds that of pre-invasion Afghanistan.  In fact, since 9/11 the US instead of dealing Saudi Arabia which coincidentally is also its long term regional ally and oil supplier, has attacked or militarily threatened numerous countries that either have nothing to do with the country, or even in ethnic terms have an adversarial relationship to the Saudis – among these predominantly Shia Iraq, Syria, Iran and Berber Libya.

The approach Julian Assange and Wikileaks took to the issue in 2011 was to follow the money, and consequently put some flesh on the notion of a ‘Forever War’ that President Biden is currently citing in justifying US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war.

What Assange and Wikileaks are alluding to is a form of ‘Military Keynesianism’.  Keynesian economics originated as a method of circumventing the dictatorship of the marketplace, for societies to instead allocate value to things deemed socially functional – sometimes this is augmented by printing money to maintain particular activities. It was supposed to help society’s poor and working-class.  In our era it has been a way of redirecting money to the corporate rich – here particularly the military industries.  The money printing supporting this – like so many things – has been relabelled, and now termed ‘Quantitative Easing’, but condemned as Welfare or Socialism for the Rich by working-class activists.

This is not the end of the incentives Afghanistan offers.  The corporate media are now suggesting the indigenous Afghan Taliban might be motivated by the country’s wealth in Lithium – vital for cell phone products – and Copper deposits.  Strange in two decades of coverage, it has never been suggested this was a motivation for the US to go halfway around the world.

It is also worth looking at how Afghanistan fits into the entire Neo-Con agenda.  Globalised capitalism is very good at internalising its profits, while externalising its costs onto the general public and society at large.  Economically, globalised capitalism doesn’t’ actually work unless subsidised by unfeasible levels of fossil fuel supply at therefore unfeasible low cost levels.  The general public has to bear the social cost, the environmental cost, the cost of wars for oil and the potential national security cost of not having localised manufacturing production.

In keeping with this and in contrast to any genuine post-9/11 agenda, US Neo-Con wars have predominantly had two functions – attacking oil rich and/or Russian allied nations.  It only takes a casual look at the regional map to show that a US military presence in Afghanistan provides a useful jumping off point for a war or simple military intimidation of Iran.  It also gives access to gas powerhouse Turkmenistan and potentially moves America’s military ever closer to Russia’s borders.  Predictably, despite Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya, at no time during the US-led occupation did the corporate media query the military’s relationship to the country’s borders in the manner that they are doing now the indigenous Taliban are in charge.

Fuel prices are close to record highs, something that is regarded as a detriment to global trade.  As Biden announced his intention to go through with the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, OPEC said they were willing to increase global supply.  Iran seeing the knife about to taken from its throat seemed believe they were about to be let back into the global oil market, and boasted of being able to boost production.  Israel contrived a dispute with Iran over a tanker, apparently believing that this might have a negative effect on any potential ongoing US/Iran negotiations, designed to bring the country in from the cold.

If this conjunction plays-out the way it appears, then Biden ironically for equally capitalist materialistic and environmental hazardous reasons, is going to be the first prominent Democrat in decades, to open up clear blue water between himself and the Republican pro-war Neo-Con agenda, but at least hopefully we will be avoiding attacks on Iran and other future wars.

In the meantime those like Tony Blair who have hitched their careers to the Neo-Con imperialist wagon train will continue to impotently stamp their rhetorical feet, while demanding that their ridiculous white saviour narrative be believed.  While aided and abetted by the BBC and corporate media, seemingly unaware they are doing last year’s Ministry of Truth propaganda, and repeating century old racisms.

Afterword:

In reaction to Tony Blair’s latest media temper tantrum, Peter Galbraith, former UN deputy special representative for Afghanistan, said:

In terms of what was imbecilic, frankly it was the strategy that was followed for 20 years, which was to try to build a highly centralised state in a country that was as diverse – geographically and ethnically – as Afghanistan, and to engage in a counterinsurgency strategy without a local partner and the local partner was corrupt, ineffective, illegitimate.

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Fight them on the beaches

Dominic Raab, the British foreign secretary, gives new and shameful meaning to Winston Churchill’s rousing speech about fighting an enemy on the beaches.

While the Taliban were sweeping to victory in Afghanistan at the weekend, Raab was reportedly lounging on a sun-splashed beach on the Greek island of Crete.

The arrogant Raab – who is prone to lecture Russia and China over alleged misconduct – tried to make out he was being fully briefed by intelligence agencies on the unfolding chaos in Afghanistan, no doubt while he was topping up his piña coladas and sunscreen.

His boss, prime minister Boris Johnson, has also come under fire for being on holiday at a time when the British-backed regime in Afghanistan imploded.

Raab claims he, like many other world leaders, was caught by surprise with the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban insurgents. Since the United States, Britain and other NATO members announced their military withdrawal from the Central Asian country several months ago, the Taliban have made dramatic gains culminating in the collapse of the Western-backed regime in Kabul on Sunday.

After 20 years of waging war in Afghanistan and hundreds of thousands of lives lost, the Americans and British are fleeing the country like rats of a sinking ship – and with the Taliban back in power.

This is an ignominious debacle of epic proportions. The virtuous and nauseating pretensions of the United States and Britain are laid bare for the criminal lies that they are. President Joe Biden and his British lackeys are trying to spin the fiasco as a failure by the Afghan security forces.

But even the dutiful US and British news media cannot conceal the hideous reality. After trillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money and public services slashed to pay for that, the reality is the Western military-industrial complexes made a rip-off fortune from weapons that are now in the hands of the supposed sworn enemy of the Taliban.

As CNN candidly editorialised: “The imagery from Afghanistan is deeply damaging to Biden politically and paints a disastrous picture of a nation that has long seen itself as a global leader and guardian of democracy, human rights and humanitarianism”.

Indeed the imagery is devastating for the hypocritical posturing by the US and Britain. Henceforth, those two culprit nations should never be able to lecture other nations about “rules-based order”, international law and human rights.

Desperate scenes of Afghans clinging on to US military cargo planes as they take off from Kabul airport – and subsequently falling to their deaths – speaks of the horrific, callous debacle for American imperialism. After two decades of destroying a country along with Britain and other NATO powers, in the end, it’s a heartless, cowardly, hurried retreat in which Afghans are abandoned to a miserable fate.

Comparisons are being made with the Fall of Saigon when the United States fled in a hurry from South Vietnam in 1975 at the end of a war in which millions of Vietnamese were killed by American carpet bombing and scorched-earth raids. Incredibly, Biden and his aides are in abject denial, saying there is no such comparison with Afghanistan.

Not only Vietnam but comparisons can also be made with many other nations that the US and its allies have destroyed over the decades with their military machinations only to be finally forced to quit in defeat. Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, and others.

Afghanistan is perhaps the clearest, most damning demonstration of the criminal conduct of US imperialism along with its lapdogs in NATO. The United States is a warmongering tyranny and scourge on the planet.

And complicit in the war crimes is the corporate news media. For 20 years, the Western mainstream media have whitewashed and laundered the ludicrous, cynical lies of the US government and accomplices about what they were doing in Afghanistan. Fighting terrorism? Nation-building? Supporting democracy? Sickening sycophancy is the only fit description for such media.

How absurd and grotesque that Western media spun such narratives in the face of all the evidence of criminal military occupation. The proof of that is the fiasco of American, British and NATO now scurrying away from their 20-year disaster.

And nothing is more fitting than Biden trying to blame Afghans for the mess and British politicians lounging on Greek island beaches.

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Afghanistan was based on lies: Will Canada’s militarists apologize?

The quick collapse of the US-backed government in Afghanistan has revealed how little ordinary people should trust Canada’s military, arms industry and associated ideological supporters. Their justifications for war, their claims of progress and then victory have proven to be no more than propaganda and lies.

Canada’s biggest military deployment since World War II, more than 40,000 Canadian troops fought in Afghanistan between 2001 and 2014. Canada spent $20 billion on the military operations and related aid mission and over 200,000 Afghan civilians and combatants were killed in two decades of fighting. As I detailed yesterday, Canada engaged in significant violence and war crimes in the central Asian country. Canadian special forces participated in highly unpopular night-time assassination raids and a JTF2 member said he felt his commanders “encouraged” them to commit war crimes in Afghanistan.

The reasons presented for Canada’s war in Afghanistan were to fight fundamentalists, build democracy and support women’s rights. These rationales never added out.

Just before Canada ramped up its fighting in Kandahar in 2006 Canadian troops invaded Haiti to overthrow the elected government there. Five hundred Canadian soldiers backed violent rebels — Haiti’s Taliban, if you like — who employed rape as a means of political control. A study in the prestigious Lancet medical journal revealed there were 35,000 rapes in the Port-au-Prince area in the 22 months after the overthrow of the elected government. So much for advancing women’s rights.

The other supposed motivation for the invasion and occupation was to weaken Al Qaeda and Jihadist forces. As Canadian troops wound down their occupation of Afghanistan a half dozen Canadian fighter jets bombed Libya. With a Canadian general overseeing the war and Canadian naval vessels helping out, NATO helped rebels in the east of the country opposed to Muammar Gadhafi’s secular government. A year and a half before the war a Canadian intelligence report described eastern Libya as an “epicentre of Islamist extremism” and said “extremist cells” operated in the anti-Gadhafi stronghold. In fact, during the bombing, noted Ottawa Citizen military reporter David Pugliese, Canadian air force members privately joked they were part of “al-Qaida’s air force”. Lo and behold hardline Jihadists were the major beneficiaries of the war, taking control of significant portions of the country.

If fighting Jihadists, building democracy and defending women’s rights were not Canada’s main objectives in Afghanistan what was?

Supporting the US was the main reason Canada was fighting. “Washington’s reactions tended to be the exclusive consideration in almost all of the discussions about Afghanistan,” explains The Unexpected War: Canada In Kandahar. “The political problem, of course, was how to support Washington in its war on terror without supporting the war in Iraq. The answer to the problem was the so-called ‘Afghan solution’.” Former Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham explained “there was no question, every time we talked about the Afghan mission, it gave us cover for not going to Iraq.”

But there’s more to it than that. The military saw the conflict in Afghanistan as a way to increase its profile. There was a surge of martial patriotism in Canada with initiatives such as Highway of Heroes and Project Hero. In the mid-2000s every province adopted a special licence plate to signify the driver is a veteran.

The military saw Afghanistan as a way to assert its warfighting bona fides. As Chief of the Defence Staff Rick Hillier infamously proclaimed: “We are going to Afghanistan to actually take down the folks that are trying to blow up men and women … we’re not the public service of Canada, we’re not just another department. We are the Canadian Forces, and our job is to be able to kill people.”

The Canadian Forces have a predilection for war. As basically all but Canadian special forces had been withdrawn from Afghanistan, the Chief of the Defence Staff publicly demanded a new war. “We have some men and women who have had two, three and four tours and what they’re telling me is ‘Sir, we’ve got that bumper sticker. Can we go somewhere else now?’” General Walter Natynczyk told Canadian Press in 2012. “You also have the young sailors, soldiers, airmen and women who have just finished basic training and they want to go somewhere and in their minds it was going to be Afghanistan. So, if not Afghanistan, where’s it going to be? They all want to serve.”

Various think tanks and militarist organization such as the Conference of Defense Associations as well as academics writing on military issues benefited from millions of dollars in public funds. The war justified an increase in the size of the military and a major spike in military spending.

Private security firms did well in Afghanistan. Conflict in that country helped propel Montréal’s Garda’s to become the biggest privately held security firm in the world with some 80,000 employees today.

Military service contractors such as SNC Lavalin and ATCO also expanded their involvement with the Canadian Forces. During the war in Afghanistan Canadian Commercial Corporation president Marc Whittingham wrote in the Hill Times, “there is no better trade show for defence equipment than a military mission.” The crown corporation has expanded its role in the international weapons trade.

On Monday The Intercept reported that the stock price of the top five US arms firms rose 97% since US President George W. Bush signed the Authorization for Use of Military Force on September 18, 2001. In “$10,000 Invested in Defense Stocks When Afghanistan War Began Now Worth Almost $100,000” Jon Schwarz notes that these companies’ stock prices increase was 58% greater than the gains of the overall New York Stock Exchange.

Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics all have Canadian subsidiaries. The US-based firms are not simply branch plants. They do research in Canada, have offices near Parliament Hill and hire former top Canadian military officials. A number of them do international business through their Canadian divisions. General Dynamics Canada, for instance, has the largest ever Canadian export contract selling Light Armoured Vehicles to Saudi Arabia. Tracing its Canadian history to 1948, General Dynamics has ties to Canadian educational institutions, politicians and the CF. It has over 2,000 employees and does research and development work.

The stock price of the biggest Canadian-based arms firm, CAE, has also risen sharply since 2001. It trains US pilots as well as the operators of Predator and Reaper drones. The Montréal-based company openly talks about profiting from increased US military spending. “Le patron de CAE veut profiter de la hausse des budgets de l’armée américaine” (CAE boss wants to take advantage of rising US military spending), read a 2018 La Presse headline.

The war in Afghanistan was good for the arms industry. It also bolstered the Canadian military. But the quick unraveling of 20-years of war and occupation ought to sap some of the power of Canada’s military, arms companies and associated ideological institutions. The quick collapse of the US- and Canadian-backed Afghan military and government proves they should not be trusted. Their primary goal is, and always has been, to benefit the military-industrial complex, not to improve the lives of people in other countries. Or to tell the truth to Canadians.

The post Afghanistan was based on lies: Will Canada’s militarists apologize? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

​Afghanistan: So What Do the Filthy Commie Peaceniks Say Now?

Afghan villagers stand over bodies of civilians during a protest in the city of Ghazni, west of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 29, 2019. An airstrike by U.S.-led forces in eastern Afghanistan killed at least five civilians. (AP Photo/Rahmatullah Nikzad)

So, people get hurt when you stop waging wars, and peace is dangerous, and . . . and . . . well, women’s rights!

What do the stupid peace lovers say now?

Well, here’s what this one says:

On September 11, 2001, I said, “Well, that proves all the weapons and wars are useless or counterproductive. Prosecute crimes as crimes, and start disarming.”

When the U.S. government launched an illegal, immoral, sure to be catastrophic war on Afghanistan, I said, “That’s illegal and immoral and sure to be catastrophic! End it now!”

When they didn’t end it, I said, “According to the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan, there’s going to be hell when they end this, and it’s going to be a worse hell the longer it takes them to end it. So, end it now!”

When they didn’t end it, I went to Kabul and met with all kinds of people and saw that they clearly had a lousy, corrupt, foreign-backed puppet government, with the looming threat of the Taliban, and neither choice was any good. “Support nonviolent civil-society,” I said. “Provide actual aid. Try democracy at home to lead by example. And (redundantly, since democracy at home would have done this) get the U.S. military the @%!%# out!”

When they still didn’t end it, and when a Congressional investigation found the top two sources of income for the Taliban to be the revived drug trade and the U.S. military, I said “If you wait additional years or decades to get the !^%& out, there’s going to be no hope left. Get the hell out now!”

When Amnesty International put ads up on bus stops in Chicago thanking NATO for the lovely war for women’s rights, I pointed out that bombs blow up women the same as men, and marched to protest NATO.

I asked people in Afghanistan, and they said the same thing.

When Obama pretended to get out, I said, “Really get out, you lying scheming fraud!”

When Trump got elected promising to get out and then didn’t, I said, “Really get out, you lying scheming fraud!”

(When Hillary Clinton failed to get elected, and evidence suggested that she’d have won had she credibly promised to end the wars, I said, “Do us all a favor and retire for godsake!”)

When they STILL didn’t end it, I said, again, “According to the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan, there’s going to be hell when they end this, and it’s going to be a worse hell the longer it takes them to end it. So, end it now!”

When Biden pretended to get out while promising to keep troops there and to increase the bombings, I said, “Really get out, you lying scheming fraud!”

I encouraged all the insiderish groups that said the same thing super gently and politely. I encouraged all the fed-up groups blocking doors and streets and weapons trains. I supported efforts in every country involved to get their token troops out and stop legitimizing a U.S. crime. Year after year after year.

When Biden claimed the war was some sort of success, I pointed out how it had spread anti-U.S. terrorism across half the globe, spawned more wars, murdered countless people, devastated the natural environment, eroded the rule of law and civil liberties and self-governance, and cost trillions of dollars.

When the U.S. government refused to abide by agreements, refused to stop bombing, refused to give credible negotiation or compromise a chance, refused to support the rule of law around the world or lead by example, refused to stop shipping weapons into the region, refused to even acknowledge that the Taliban is using U.S.-made weapons, but finally claimed it would get its troops out, I expected that U.S. media outlets would develop anew a strong interest in the rights of Afghan women. I was right.

But the U.S. government, according to its own reporting, accounts for 66% of all the weapons exported to the least democratic quintile of nations on earth. Of the 50 most oppressive governments identified by a U.S.-government-funded study, the U.S. arms 82% of them. Here they are: Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Brunei, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa), Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Ethiopia, Gabon, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Mauritania, Nicaragua, Oman, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen. Israel’s government, notorious for its violent oppression of Palestinian people, is not on that list (it’s a U.S.-funded list) but is the top recipient of “aid” funding for U.S. weapons from the U.S. government. Some women live in Palestine.

The Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act (H.R.4718) would prevent U.S. weapons sales to other nations that are in violation of international human rights law or international humanitarian law. During the last Congress, the same bill, introduced by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, gathered a grand total of zero cosponsors.

What do you notice about that list of nations? One of them, Afghanistan, was on the list of oppressive governments before the Taliban threatened to take it over. And the other 40 are of truly minimal interest to the U.S. corporate media, much less to any of the “BUT THE WOMEN!” crowd out there moaning in agony that a war might end.

The same crowd seems to have no objection to the proposal moving through the U.S. Congress to force U.S. women at age 18 to register for a military draft that would force them against their will to kill and die in more of these wars.

So, what would I propose that the U.S. government do for the women and men and children of Afghanistan now, regardless of horrible decisions in the past that it’s obviously too late to undo and just silly and offensive to rehash like this?

1. Until it can reform itself into an entity capable of benevolent action, not a goddamned thing.

2. Stop encouraging the Taliban to think that it can become a model U.S. client state in a few years if it’s mean and nasty enough, by ceasing to arm and train and fund brutal dictatorships all over the globe.

3. Cease eroding the idea of the rule of law around the world by dropping opposition to the International Criminal Court and the World Court, by joining the International Criminal Court, and by eliminating the veto and democratizing the United Nations Security Council.

4. Catch up with the world and cease being the leading holdout globally on the most major human rights treaties including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (every nation on Earth has ratified except the United States) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (every nation on Earth has ratified except the United States, Iran, Sudan, and Somalia).

5. Move 20% of the U.S. military budget into useful things each year for five years.

6. Move 10% of that rededicated funding into providing no-strings-attached aid and encouragement to the most law-abiding and honest-to-god small-d democratic poor nations on the planet.

7. Take a hard look at the U.S. government itself, understand the powerful case that the U.S. government could make for bombing itself were it not itself, and take serious steps to remove the bribery from the election system, establish fair public funding and media coverage for elections, and remove gerrymandering, the filibuster, and as soon as possible the United States Senate.

8. Free, apologize to, and thank every whistleblower who’s told us what the U.S. government was doing in Afghanistan for the past 20 years. Consider why we needed whistleblowers to tell us.

9. Prosecute or free and apologize to every prisoner at Guantanamo, close the base, and get out of Cuba.

10. Get out of the way of the International Criminal Court’s prosecution of Taliban crimes in Afghanistan, as well as its prosecution of crimes committed there by the Afghan government, and by the militaries of the United States and its junior partners.

11. Swiftly become an entity that can credibly comment on horrors being committed by the Taliban, by — among other things — caring enough about the horrors coming to all of humanity to invest heavily in ending the destruction of the Earth’s climate and ending the existence of nuclear weapons.

• First published at World Beyond War.org

The post ​Afghanistan: So What Do the Filthy Commie Peaceniks Say Now? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Syrian Civilians Attacked by Terrorists Using American Weapons

UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres celebrated the extension of a “humanitarian” border crossing at Bab Al Hawa, on July 10th, as a “lifeline for millions of people” – many Syrians would rather describe it as a “lifeline” for Al Qaeda.

On the 15th July I visited Jurin, a village to the north of the Hama governorate and only 5km from the Syrian allied military frontlines with the Al Qaeda-dominated armed groups controlling Idlib, north-west Syria.

We arrived at around 9 am to the boom of mortar and rocket fire from the Jabal az Zawiya mountain that is under control of Turkish-backed armed groups. Jurin is in the Al Ghab plains at the foot of two mountain ranges and is an easy target for the elevated terrorist positions, occupying Jabal az Zawiya.

On June 20th, a three-year-old child, Massa Akram Saleh, was murdered by the armed groups who targeted her family home, injuring her father and brother, five-year-old Akram Saleh, whose body was lacerated by shrapnel wounds. Massa was rushed to Al Sqeilbiyyeh hospital, a journey of one hour, but later died. Her brother and father are still receiving treatment. Massa’s grandfather told me:

If this had been a child of the militants, the UN would have made a big case of it. Hundreds of children have died in our area but it is as if nobody died at all”

The grandfather describes a daily deluge of attacks from the Turkey-assisted armed groups, targeting the triangle of Jurin, Al Safafeh and Zkereh. He begs the Syrian forces to push the militants at least as far as the M4 highway and away from the region, to bring an end to the ceaseless aggression.

This is an aggression that apparently is not worth mentioning in UN reports on the cross border “humanitarian” activity. He thanks the Syrian Arab Army for doing everything they can to keep the extremist groups at bay.

A mother with her baby and the grandmother of three-year-old martyr, Massa Saleh in Jurin. Photo: Vanessa Beeley

While the grandfather is talking to me, a mother carrying a baby, hugging her children, is cowering and weeping in the background as the shells continue to fall. Next to her is Massa’s grandmother who cannot move without her walking frame.

One shell had hit the outer wall of the house just before we arrived, another had blown a two meter crater in the garden behind the extended family home. A third exploded five meters from where I was standing while I interviewed a second family member, Ghaith Ghazi Saleh. He told me:

We are being targeted on a daily basis with shells from Az Zawiya mountain. During the last two or three years we have seen Turkish convoys coming into the area not more than 2km from our farmlands, they prevent us from cultivating our farmlands [..] the artillery that bombards us is Turkish. The coordinates are provided by the terrorists.”

On left the rocket that targeted the Saleh household on 15/7/2021 and on the right the debris from the strike in the hallway. Photo: Vanessa Beeley

Saleh informed me that the armed groups target schools, residential areas and civilian infrastructure. They even targeted a funeral procession and a condolences gathering two years ago, according to Saleh. He describes the Turkish and armed group destruction of the land. Saleh talks of the intensification of militant aggression to target Russian/Syrian humanitarian corridors that are an effort to allow Syrian civilians to safely escape the armed occupation of north-west Syria.

This is something that I had previously witnessed in Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta as civilians attempted to flee to the safety of Syrian Arab Army humanitarian collection points, they were cruelly shelled or sniped by the occupying extremist groups, furious that their human shields were evading them.

US-manufactured weapons in the hands of Al Qaeda affiliates

It is no secret that the CIA Timber Sycamore operation supplied US-manufactured weapons to “moderate” extremist groups that mysteriously ended up in the hands of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

Weapons that included the TOW anti-tank missiles that are liberally used by the Idlib armed groups against civilian targets which is an undeniable war crime according to investigative journalist, Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who has specialised in uncovering the illegal arms trade in Syria.

In Gaytandzhieva’s latest investigation, she reveals that the Pentagon is “buying $ 2.8 billion worth of weapons for conflict zones around the world. Most of the weapons are destined for Syria.” Videos and images released by the armed groups clearly show that Hayat Tahrir As Sham (HTS) an Al Qaeda offshoot have been supplied with US TOW missiles in Idlib.

During my visit to Jurin, I was shown a number of weapons that had been used against civilian infrastructure and residential areas. They included a 155mm Turkish Army artillery shell and an unexploded US-origin TOW missile. According to residents, Turkey is supplying the armed groups with incendiary missiles which are being used to torch farmland and agricultural crops, again a familiar tactic to starve civilians and force them to leave their land. I was shown fields that were blackened and burned as evidence of this barbaric practice.

It must raise the question – how do these weapons enter Idlib? Press TV journalist, Serena Shim, revealed in 2013 that World Food Programme (WFP) “humanitarian” aid trucks were being used to smuggle ISIS terrorists and weapons into Syria via the Turkish border crossings.

Shortly after Shim reported on this nefarious activity, she died in a suspicious car accident after being threatened by Turkish authorities. 2020 Nobel Peace Laureate WFP still has a presence and involvement in Bab Al Hawa.

In 2021 the official border crossings have been reduced down to one, Bab Al Hawa. A Russian UN representative statement informs us that:

The UN still has no presence in Idlib de-escalation zone which is controlled by international terrorists and fighters. It’s not a secret that the terrorist groups control certain areas of the de-escalation zone and use the UN humanitarian aid as a tool to exert pressure on [the] civil population and openly make profit from such deliveries.”

In May, Sedat Peker, a gangster and former aide of Turkish President Recep Erdogan exposed the trafficking of weapons and vehicles from Turkey to Al Qaeda by a contractor called SADAT that was run by Erdogan’s former military advisor.

Who controls Bab Al Hawa?

According to an Al Monitor article in May 2020, HTS seize at least 10% of the ‘humanitarian” aid entering Bab Al Hawa. HTS benefit from illicit trade of UN-supplied equipment and aid and have a monopoly over the processing of oil stolen by the US Coalition and proxies in occupied North-East Syria via their lucrative WATAD operation.

The HTS warlords make an estimated $130 million per month from this criminal merchanting of Syrian resources and UN “aid” while imposing heavy taxes and “customs fees” on civilians to supplement their dwindling foreign assistance.

Syrian analyst, Ibrahim Mohammad, highlighted a May 2020 report in Amjad Media, a known Nusra Front (Al Qaeda) media outlet that revealed the establishment of a military “unified operations room” in Bab Al Hawa which included Turkish military officers and HTS fighters. In other words, an Al Qaeda central command supported by NATO member state, Turkey.

Other recent articles highlighting the true purpose of the US Coalition determination to maintain Bab Al Hawa can be found here and here.

Turkey is embedded in Idlib to support Al Qaeda and target Syrian civilians

Map showing the proximity of the Turkish military base in Quqfin to Jurin.

Nine months ago a Turkish convoy entered Quqfin to the east of Jurin and established a military observation base. According to the Syrian military personnel I spoke to in Jurin, this Turkish base is providing surveillance and coordinates for HTS enabling them to target not military installations but civilian infrastructure, schools, farmland and homes.  Turkey is enabling war crimes and committing them, according to Syrian residents in Jurin.

The Turkish military base in Quqfin providing surveillance for HTS/Al Qaeda. Photo: Syrian Media in Jurin

Zeyzoun power plant, Turkish-backed industrial theft of Syrian infrastructure

In May 2020 the former Syrian Ambassador to the UN, Dr Bashar Al Jaafari, detailed the Turkish sponsored theft of the largest power station in north-west Syria, Zeyzoun power plant. The plant supplied electricity to the Al Ghab region where Jurin is located, Hama, Latakia, Tartous (on the coast) and to Idlib.

The plant was destroyed by the armed groups under Turkish control prior to plundering the remains and transporting them to Turkey via the Bab Al Hawa “humanitarian” crossing. This left the Al Ghab area with extended electricity outages which are exacerbated by the US direct and proxy occupation of Syrian oil resources in the North East. Destruction of essential civilian infrastructure is, again, a war crime.

Various groups have occupied Zeyzoun since 2015 but the dominant warlord is still HTS or Al Qaeda. However, according to a field source at the time of the dismantlement and destruction, it was members of the salafist Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP) that brought engineering equipment and machinery to Zeyzoun to dismember the plant for scrap and revenue.

The same group had been accused of theft of electrical transformers and agricultural crops to trade and provide income as their financial backing had largely dried up. The power plant comprised three gas generators each with a capacity of 128 megawatts, powered by gas and fuel. The following is a video of the final demolition of the power plant by the TIP:

Combined with the US Coalition illegal occupation of fuel resources, the damages sustained by the electricity and energy sectors in Syria and sanctions have devastatingly impacted on the ability of the Syrian state to provide electricity and power to civilians. This is a deliberate policy by the US/UK alliance to collectively punish the Syrian people and to coerce them into opposition to the Syrian government and Presidency. The destruction of Zeyzoun alone will need an estimated $ 450 million to restore.

The NATO-member-state extremist proxies have deliberately destroyed and looted Syrian infrastructure in every region they have occupied, this is not coincidence. In October 2015, the US Coalition directly bombed the Aleppo power station plunging the region into darkness.

This sadistic tactic had been employed previously in Iraq in 1991 and is ongoing today with the ISIS destruction of electrical power grids and stations – actions by a terrorist group that the US has empowered, equipped and trained despite it being the false pretext for the US/UK/EU military footprint in the Middle East. It is a major part of the psychological war being waged against the Syrian people to bring them to heel and to force “regime change.”

Why did Russia sanction the 6-month extension for the Bab Al Hawa crossing?

Russia and Syria have historically opposed the UN “aid’ runs via Turkey for reasons that become obvious when considering the benefits for Al Qaeda. Many were surprised that Russia in the end approved the 6 month extension. However, there is a promised “substantive” UNSG report into the Cross Border Mechanism transparency which will be of concern to the US Coalition and Turkey as Russia will presumably be gathering evidence to prove that much of the aid is destined for Al Qaeda and to sustain the war against the Syrian government.

I believe Russia took this decision to prevent US accusations of belligerence post the Biden, Putin summit in Geneva while hoping to ensure that terrorist sponsorship by NATO member states is fully exposed and that those involved should be held accountable for the resulting war crimes.

Many Syrians, however, including those suffering daily attacks in Jurin and the other frontline villages will deem this decision a political one which will have dire consequences for their communities. This is another example of how this externally fomented and sustained war has impacted so horrifically upon the Syrian people, leaving nobody untouched by tragedy and loss.

Bab Al Hawa is not a lifeline for the Syrian civilians of Jurin

One thing is clear from my recent visit to the Idlib battle frontlines – the Bab Al Hawa border crossing is not the “humanitarian” lifeline as described by US, UK representatives and aligned officials at the UN. For these civilians, it represents the perpetual threat of death or injury, the destruction of their livelihood and a life of deprivation, bloodshed and fear.

Western media is still amplifying the alleged “war crimes” of Syrian and Russian forces battling to liberate Syrian territory from the clutches of terrorist groups that would massacre the residents of Jurin in an instant if they could break through Syrian and Russian defences.

Two days after my visit, during the night of the 17th July, eleven civilians were injured by HTS shelling, including one child. This is the reality of this war, never explored by the NATO-aligned media outlets and “humanitarian” agencies who seek only to demonise the Syrian government and to “disappear” these inconvenient Syrians who expose the moral vacuum of their Syria narratives.

The post Syrian Civilians Attacked by Terrorists Using American Weapons first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Reckoning and Reparations in Afghanistan

Girls and mothers, waiting for donations of heavy blankets, Kabul, 2018 (Photo Credit:  Dr. Hakim)

Earlier this week, 100 Afghan families from Bamiyan, a rural province of central Afghanistan mainly populated by the Hazara ethnic minority, fled to Kabul. They feared Taliban militants would attack them in Bamiyan.

Over the past decade, I’ve gotten to know a grandmother who recalls fleeing Talib fighters in the 1990s, just after learning that her husband had been killed. Then, she was a young widow with five children, and for several agonizing months two of her sons were missing. I can only imagine the traumatized memories that spurred her to again flee her village today. She is part of the Hazara ethnic minority and hopes to protect her grandchildren.

When it comes to inflicting miseries on innocent Afghan people, there’s plenty of blame to be shared.

The Taliban have demonstrated a pattern of anticipating people who might form opposition to their eventual rule and waging “pre-emptive” attacks against journalists, human rights activists, judicial officials, advocates for women’s rights, and minority groups such as the Hazara.

In places where Taliban have successfully taken over districts, they may be ruling over increasingly resentful populaces; people who have lost harvests, homes, and livestock are already coping with a third wave of COVID-19 and severe drought.

In many northern provinces, the re-emergence of the Taliban can be traced to the Afghan government’s incompetence, and also to criminal and abusive behaviors of the local military commanders, including land grabs, extortion, and rape.

President Ashraf Ghani, showing little empathy for people trying to flee Afghanistan, referred to those who leave as people looking to “have fun.”

Responding to his April 18 speech when he made this comment, a young woman whose sister, a journalist, was recently killed, tweeted about her father who had stayed in Afghanistan for seventy-four years, encouraged his children to stay, and now felt that his daughter might be alive had she left. The surviving daughter said the Afghan government couldn’t protect its people, and that’s why they tried to leave.

President Ghani’s government has encouraged the formation of “Uprising” militias to help protect the country. Immediately, people began questioning how the Afghan government could support new militias when it already lacks ammunition and protection for thousands of Afghan National Defense Forces and local police who have fled their posts.

The main backer of the Uprising Forces, it seems, is the formidable National Directorate of Security, whose main sponsor is the CIA.

Some militia groups have raised money through imposing “taxes” or outright extortion. Others turn to other countries in the region, all of which reinforces cycles of violence and despair.

The staggering loss of landmine removal experts working for the nonprofit HALO Trust should add to our sense of grief and mourning. About 2,600 Afghans working with the demining group had helped make more than 80 percent of Afghanistan’s land safe from unexploded ordnance strewn over the country after forty years of war. Tragically, militants attacked the group, killing ten workers.

Human Rights Watch says the Afghan government has not adequately investigated the attack nor has it investigated the killings of journalists, human rights activists, clerics, and judicial workers that began escalating after the Afghan government began peace talks with the Taliban in April.

Yet, unquestionably, the warring party in Afghanistan with the most sophisticated weapons and seemingly endless access to funds has been the United States. Funds were spent not to lift Afghans to a place of security from which they might have worked to moderate Taliban rule, but to further frustrate them, beating down their hopes of future participatory governance with twenty years of war and brutal impoverishment. The war has been a prelude to the United States’ inevitable retreat and the return of a possibly more enraged and dysfunctional Taliban to rule over a shattered population.

The troop withdrawal negotiated by President Joe Biden and U.S. military officials is not a peace agreement. Rather, it signals the end of an occupation resulting from  an unlawful invasion, and while troops are leaving, the Biden Administration is already laying plans for “over the horizon” drone surveillance, drone strikes, and “manned” aircraft strikes which could exacerbate and prolong the war.

U.S. citizens ought to consider not only financial recompense for destruction caused by twenty years of war but also a commitment to dismantle the warfare systems that brought such havoc, chaos, bereavement, and displacement to Afghanistan.

We should be sorry that, during 2013, when the United States spent an average of $2 million per soldier, per year, stationed in Afghanistan, the number of Afghan children suffering malnutrition rose by 50 percent. At that same time, the cost of adding iodized salt to an Afghan child’s diet to help reduce risks of brain damage caused by hunger would have been 5 cents per child per year.

We should deeply regret that while the United States constructed sprawling military bases in Kabul, populations in refugee camps soared. During harsh winter months, people desperate for warmth in a Kabul refugee camp would burn—and then have to breathe—plastic. Trucks laden with food, fuel, water, and supplies constantly entered the U.S. military base immediately across the road from this camp.

We should acknowledge, with shame, that U.S. contractors signed deals to build hospitals and schools which were later determined to be ghost hospitals and ghost schools, places that never even existed.

On October 3, 2015, when only one hospital served vast numbers of people in the Kunduz province, the U.S. Air Force bombed the hospital at 15 minute intervals for one and a half hours, killing 42 people including 13 staff, three of whom were doctors. This attack helped greenlight the war crime of bombing hospitals all around the world.

More recently, in 2019, migrant workers in Nangarhar were attacked when a drone fired missiles into their overnight camp. The owner of a pine nut forest had hired the laborers, including children, to harvest the pine nuts, and he notified officials ahead of time, hoping to avoid any confusion. 30 of the workers were killed while they were resting after an exhausting day of work. Over 40 people were badly wounded.

U.S. repentance for a regime of attacks by weaponized drones, conducted in Afghanistan and worldwide, along with sorrow for the countless civilians killed, should lead to deep appreciation for Daniel Hale, a drone whistleblower who exposed the widespread and indiscriminate murder of civilians.

Between January 2012 and February 2013, according to an article in The Intercept, these air strikes “killed more than 200 people. Of those, only thirty-five were the intended targets. During one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets.”

Under the Espionage Act, Hale faces ten years in prison at his July 27 sentencing.

We should be sorry for night raids that terrified civilians, assassinated innocent people, and were later acknowledged to have been based on faulty information.

We must reckon with how little attention our elected officials ever paid to the quadrennial “Special Inspector General on Afghan Reconstruction” reports which detailed many years’ worth of fraud, corruption, human rights violations and failure to achieve stated goals related to counter-narcotics or confronting corrupt structures.

We should say we’re sorry, we’re so very sorry, for pretending to stay in Afghanistan for humanitarian reasons, when, honestly, we understood next to nothing about humanitarian concerns of women and children in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s civilian population has repeatedly demanded peace.

When I think of the generations in Afghanistan who have suffered through war, occupation and the vagaries of warlords, including NATO troops, I wish we could hear the sorrow of the grandmother who now wonders how she might help feed, shelter and protect her family.

Her sorrow should lead to atonement on the part of countries that invaded her land. Every one of those countries could arrange visas and support for each Afghan person who now wants to flee. A reckoning with the massive wreckage this grandmother and her loved ones face should yield equally massive readiness to abolish all wars, forever.

• A version of this article first appeared in The Progressive Magazine

The post Reckoning and Reparations in Afghanistan first appeared on Dissident Voice.