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by CTuttle

Syria: Intervention or Mediation? And Bibi Blinked, to Host ‘Direct Talks’ With Abbas

6:15 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

From the accompanying YouTube blurb…

After more than a year of turbulence, Syria is still facing both a violent internal opposition uprising and the threat of external intervention. NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council have backed the opposition, the Syrian Transitional Council, both politically and militarily. Calls for humanitarian intervention in the name of the “responsibility to protect” have been made by the same NGOs as those who acted over Libya last year. Russia and China have vetoed interventionist resolutions in the Security Council, backed by the US, France and the UK, and a chance for reconciliation has been offered with Kofi Annan’s mediation mission. But can it succeed? Will sovereignty remain respected, as provided for by the UN Charter? What are the real aims of NATO and the Gulf Cooperation Council in Syria? Do they want peace and reconciliation or regime change and chaos?

I’ve made my opinion well known, repeatedly, on the farcical R2P ‘humanitarian’ crusade directed at Syria…! Just like I did in the run up to Libya’s smashing success…!

Here’s some of the latest on Syria… From Non-Western Media… Syria to halt military actions as of Thursday… From the ‘Rebels’… Syria rebels set ultimatum, as peace deal falters…

Here’s some recent Western Leaders responses… David Cameron: Syria used ceasefire to kill civilians… Sarkozy: Syria blatantly lying about ceasefire…

What a clusterf*ck in the making, it’s truly a No-Win scenario for the Syrians, needless death and destruction for what exactly…? Reminds me of the age-old adage, that to ‘save’ the village we must bomb it into oblivion…!

Now, moving along… Read the rest of this entry →

by CTuttle

‘Arab countries to arm Syria rebels’, and, ‘Israel Estimates ‘Only’ 300 Deaths in 3-Week War’

9:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Expanding on the above good Doctor’s reporting…

Arab countries to arm Syria rebels as fighting continues…

Arab countries have pledged to arm Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, while 40 people were killed in violence around Syria, activists said… {snip}

The opposition said some countries had agreed to arm the rebels.

‘The Free Syrian Army will be armed by some friendly countries but this will not be done in the open and will be very soon,’ Sheikh Anas Airout, a member of the Syrian National Council, told dpa.

Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Libya are the key financial backers of the plan to arm the rebels, an opposition source who requested anonymity told dpa.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United States have pledged millions of dollars at a Friends of the Syrian People conference in Istanbul at the weekend to pay salaries for rebels fighting to topple al-Assad and provide communications equipment.

In Brussels, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged against weapons being funneled to Syrian rebels, warning about the risk of regional proliferation…

Syria is another f*cking GCC/UN/EU/US/Nato R2P ‘humanitarian’ disaster in the making, just like Libya…!

Expanding on this rubbish: ‘The Free Syrian Army will be armed by some friendly countries but this will not be done in the open and will be very soon,’… …Stratfor Emails: Pentagon-Hired Mercenaries Intervening in Syria Since December, apparently Blackwater Xe Academi is on the job already…!

Also, from the previous article…

Al-Assad is maneuvering we all know that, he will never implement any peaceful plan to end the crisis in Syria, he only knows the language of killing,’ said Walid al-Buni, a member of the Syrian National Council.

In Washington, the US State Department said it would establish a so-called Syria Accountability Clearinghouse to help the Syrian people and international partners document human rights abuses in the country.

The information will be used to ‘help develop trial-ready dossiers against individuals responsible for violations of international or domestic criminal law,‘ the State Department said. It will also collect and analyze information to be used in later prosecutions, memorials and justice and reconciliation efforts.

It’s interesting that many Human Rights orgs operating in Libya now, claim that Nato is completely ignoring and/or squashing all their documented cases of overt HR violations caused by Nato’s Airstrikes and other covert activities in Libya…!

Now, from Iraq’s PM Maliki… Syrian regime will not fall, says Iraq PM…

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime will not fall and attempts to overthrow it by force will aggravate the crisis in the region, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said on Sunday.

“It has been one year and the regime did not fall, and it will not fall, and why should it fall?” Mr Maliki told a news conference in Baghdad.

“We reject any arming (of Syrian rebels) and the process to overthrow the regime, because this will leave a greater crisis in the region,” Maliki said…

Maliki knows perfectly well that the Iraqi Sunnis and the Kurds will completely ignore his pleas not to arm the Syrian ‘rebels’…!

Shifting gears a bit…

Some current responses from Iranian officials…

Iran says will not deviate from N-path…

Officer: Iran could hit US if it came under attack…

Now, getting to Israel…

I don’t know what’s more ridiculous, the farcical amount of casualties, or, the fantasy that it’ll only last three weeks…! Just like Cast Lead, maybe…? Anyhoots… Israel Estimates ‘Only’ 300 Deaths in 3-Week War…

Israel’s defense system estimates that if a war breaks out during 2012, 300 people will be killed in a three week period.

Now, despite the fact that Obummer has just approved the latest round of sanctions, this past Friday, and, they don’t officially go into effect until June 28th…! Bibi still has the chutzpah to say… Global sanctions on Iran not working…

…”The sanctions are painful, hard.. but will this bring about a halt or a retreat in the Iranian nuclear programme? Until now, it has not happened,” Netanyahu told reporters in Jerusalem.

He said the Iranian regime is struggling financially but has strengthened its political grip following the recent parliamentary elections.

The regime strengthened its grip in the recent elections, despite the sanctions,” he said of the parliamentary elections which took place in Iran in early March.

“It has strengthened its political grip, it is struggling financially and it still hasn’t turned back by even one millimetre from its nuclear programme.”

Will these difficulties cause the Iranian regime to stop its nuclear programme? Only time will tell. I can’t tell you if it will happen. I know there is hardship but there still hasn’t been a change.“…

So naturally, bombing Iran is the only recourse to loosening up that ‘political grip’ right, Bibi…? I’m positive they’ll greet those bombs with rose petals too…!

Some more of Bibi’s chutzpah… Netanyahu wants deal to prevent ‘binational state’…

…”I want to solve the conflict with the Palestinians because I don’t want a binational state,” Netanyahu told a rare news conference. “For as long as it depends on me, we will ensure the Jewish and democratic character of Israel.” {snip}

…Since then peace talks have never taken off in earnest, and the current stumbling block is a Palestinian demand that all construction of Jewish settlements on occupied land be halted. About a half million Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel counters that this was never a condition for talks before.

The Palestinians – and most of the international community – view the settlements as illegal or illegitimate. Many Israelis oppose them too – some driven by the sense that they are not in Israel’s interest because they make a partition more difficult.

Israel did remove 8,000 settlers from Gaza when it pulled out, but the scale of the challenge in the West Bank is far bigger – leading Israeli negotiators over the years to seek border adjustments that would incorporate many of the settlers into Israel.

But under most envisioned scenarios, tens of thousands would still have to be moved to enable a partition – or at least one that did not leave Israelis inside the Palestinian state.

Netanyahu has further alienated the Palestinians by making clear that in any future deal he would seek to retain significant chunks of the West Bank because of their strategic value, since Israel in its pre-1967 borders is at its narrowest point only 15 kilometers (9 miles) wide.

The existence of a Jewish state is not just a matter of separation” from the Palestinians, he said Tuesday. “It’s a matter of security, preserving our basic national interests – and this requires negotiations.

It is the Palestinians and not us who chose not to hold negotiations over three years,” he said. “I hope they change their minds in the coming months. We are ready and prepared to hold negotiations.

What Democracy…? Negotiate for what then Bibi…?

Btw, about that Palestinian ‘State’… ICC won’t investigate Gaza war because Palestine is ‘not a state’…

Talk about your Catch 22…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Syria: Who Are The Rebels?

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Isn’t it funny that the GCC/Arab League buried the Arab League Observer Mission report on Syria(PDF! 30pgs), just prior to the UNSC vote…? As Chris Marsden wrote…

Report of Arab League mission to Syria contradicts Western propaganda

…The resolution on Syria vetoed at the United Nations Security Council by Russia and China was moved by the Arab League, citing the failure of the regime of Bashir al-Assad to abide by its demands for an end to violence against the opposition.

The veto has been followed by hysterical official denunciations in the West and a media propaganda campaign portraying the developments in Syria as an entirely one-sided and indiscriminate massacre carried out by the Assad regime against its own people.

The UN resolution included a brief reference to the observer mission sent by the Arab League into Syria, “commending its efforts” and suggesting that violence had prevented it from continuing its work.

The reality, however, is that to make the case for regime change in Syria, the League, currently chaired by Qatar and politically dominated by the US-aligned Gulf monarchies, had to terminate its own observer mission and squelch its report.

The report was suppressed because the 166-member observer mission found that violence in Syria was abating, the Syrian government was complying with most of the Arab League’s requirements and the ruling Baathists were faced with an armed insurrection. Qatar, along with Saudi Arabia, played the instrumental role in burying the report, and cutting short the mission, because they are arming the opposition forces and arguing for direct military intervention to depose Assad… {snip}

Syria signed the protocol agreeing to the mission on December 19. It was headed by Sudan’s General Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa Al-Dabi and included 166 monitors from 13 Arab countries and six Arab organisations.

On December 22, the Syrian Government “confirmed its readiness to facilitate the Mission in every way by allowing the free and safe movement of all of the observers throughout Syria,” and allowing it to “freely conduct” meetings with whomever it wished.

By and large, the report finds that this pledge was fulfilled…

Today, Col. Pat Lang chimed in about the looming Syrian morass…

…IMO we are being lured towards secret support of the Syrian opposition to the Assad government. There is an assumption that anything and anyone would be preferable for us to the present government. This is troubling.

During the Libyan insurgency the canard was about that those rebels were dominated by Islamists. That never seemed likely to me but perhaps I have known too many Libyans.

In the case of Syria, it seems clear to me that a great deal of the opposition is Sunni mosque centered around salafist leaders. How much ” a great deal” actually is remains a question. The government should have the CIA talk to its media friends so that we can be better informed. pl

Now, Nassar Ibrahim penned a must-read… Syria: the Middle East’s tipping point…

The struggle for Syria isn’t just about Syria–it’s the struggle for a free, democratic Middle East versus one that lives under the yoke of American and Israeli hegemony.

…The conflict in Syria has reached its tipping point. At this level, it is no longer acceptable or reasonable to continue playing in a gray area in the name of diplomacy, as the struggle on Syria has a crucial significance from various strategic points of views.

The importance of the Syrian question has to be found in Syria’s key-role in the regional geostrategic pattern. Its position is directly intertwined with the confrontations we will witness in the Arab world for the next decade, whose results will in turn be strongly affected by the transformation happening in Syria. To be clear, the moves we are witnessing nowadays will influence the fate of a number of regional and global balances on more than one axis.

From the moment that the Arab League made the decision to suspend Syria’s membership, entailing a series of sanctions against the Syrian people, the clashes happening in Syria have moved to another level. This became even clearer with the second proposed UN resolution–calling for a democratic transition and for Bashar Al Assad to step down–which was stopped by Russia and China’s vetoes last Saturday for the second time in four months. There have been two attempts to prepare the ground for a military intervention – that the US, European, and Arab countries would like to see and that 13 out of 15 UN Security Council members voted for. Such fervor reminds of the international climate before the war against Iraq began in 2003…

Please read the whole article…! It’s a very sobering analysis…!

Now, you tell me if today’s carnage was carried out by Assad’s troops or not…

Powerful car bombs rip through Syrian town

…Two powerful car bombs targeting security posts ripped through Syria’s second city of Aleppo on Friday, killing at least 25 people and wounding 175, even as tanks surged into battered protest hub Homs.

State television said “armed terrorist groups” carried out the attacks, the first in Aleppo since the outbreak of an uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad almost a year ago.

It said a “suicide bomber in a car packed with explosives” carried out one of the attacks on a police station, flattening a nearby food distribution centre. The second bombing targeted an intelligence base.

The report showed mangled bodies in pools of blood in the street outside rows of shattered buildings, and deep craters in the ground….

God Help the Syrians…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

‘Intervention – Disaster For Libyans’

5:31 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Libya on verge of grave humanitarian crisis…

Libya might be on the verge of witnessing a grave humanitarian crisis as western nations have stepped up their military operations ostensibly to wipe out Colonel Gaddafi’s forces at a time when several global humanitarian organisations are unable to sustain their operations because of lack of funds from rich countries.

The Libyan crisis appears to be a repeat of what happened in Iraq, when the coalition forces made swift military advances while humanitarian relief operations lagged far behind resulting in endless chaos and insecurity, analysts said.

The United Nations Humanitarian Agency on Friday issued a flash appeal for the $160 million while International Migration Organisation made a separate appeal for almost the same amount to evacuate and address the humanitarian needs of people fleeing Libya because of the fighting.

“IOM is issuing this third appeal for $160 million on Friday to provide critical humanitarian and evacuation assistance,” said Jemini Pandya, IOM’s spokesperson, maintaining that it is not able to deliver adequate assistance due to severe shortage of funds.

Consequently, it is unable to evacuate an additional 75,000 people who manage to escape the violence, she said. “The continued provision of humanitarian assistance such as food and medical attention at the border areas, travel health checks for all those being evacuated and health referrals for particularly vulnerable people in addition to providing reintegration assistance to some of the returning Tunisian and Egyptian migrants,” she said.

So far, IOM received pledges for about $44 million but no immediate delivery of funds. At this rate where bilateral and multilateral donors are not forthcoming funds, IOM will drastically scale down its operations, she cautioned. However, the UN Humanitarian Agency which also issued a flash appeal for the $160 million managed to secure 70 per cent of its appeal.

US President Barak Obama reportedly signed an order authorising covert support for anti-Gaddafi rebels.

Isn’t it sad that the US/Nato/UN/Arab League, ad nauseum, are quick to provide the military $, but, hesitant on real humanitarian $…?

Didn’t we just expend more than the $160 million that they’re requesting, on our opening salvo alone? Interestingly, US pulling Tomahawk missiles out of Libya combat…

Not being a ‘cruise missile liberal’, I’ve been extremely pessimistic over the ‘humanitarian crusade mission’ to stop Ghadaffi’s brutal suppression. Many knowledgeable individuals have since stepped forward and stated our real intentions…

Libya’s Blood for Oil: The Vampire War

By Susan Lindauer, former U.S. Asset who covered Libya at the United Nations from 1995 to 2003

Who are we kidding? The United States, Britain and NATO don’t care about bombing civilians to contain rebellion. Their militaries bomb civilians every day without mercy. They have destroyed most of the community infrastructure of Iraq and Afghanistan before turning their sights on Libya. So what’s really going on here?

Hmmm… Great question! The ever-intrepid Pepe Escobar exposed ever more of the Oily linkage behind Libya…

Exposed: The US-Saudi Libya deal

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck between the Barack Obama administration and the House of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy movement in their neighbor in exchange for a “yes” vote by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya – the main rationale that led to United Nations Security Council resolution 1973. [...]

As Asia Times Online has reported, a full Arab League endorsement of a no-fly zone is a myth. Of the 22 full members, only 11 were present at the voting. Six of them were Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, the US-supported club of Gulf kingdoms/sheikhdoms, of which Saudi Arabia is the top dog. Syria and Algeria were against it. Saudi Arabia only had to “seduce” three other members to get the vote.

Translation: only nine out of 22 members of the Arab League voted for the no-fly zone. The vote was essentially a House of Saud-led operation, with Arab League secretary general Amr Moussa keen to polish his CV with Washington with an eye to become the next Egyptian President.

Thus, in the beginning, there was the great 2011 Arab revolt. Then, inexorably, came the US-Saudi counter-revolution.

Profiteers rejoice

Humanitarian imperialists will spin en masse this is a “conspiracy”, as they have been spinning the bombing of Libya prevented a hypothetical massacre in Benghazi. They will be defending the House of Saud – saying it acted to squash Iranian subversion in the Gulf; obviously R2P – “responsibility to protect” does not apply to people in Bahrain. They will be heavily promoting post-Gaddafi Libya as a new – oily – human rights Mecca, complete with US intelligence assets, black ops, special forces and dodgy contractors.

It’s interesting to note that the CIA did and does know that many of the Libyan ‘rebels’ are AQIM members: The CIA’s Libya Rebels: 2007 West Point Study Shows Benghazi-Darnah-Tobruk Area was a World Leader in Al Qaeda Suicide Bomber Recruitment

Some more excellent background…. The CIA, the Libyan Rebellion, and the President…

Now, as Jeff Steinberg, editor of the Executive Intelligence Review, notes…

‘Al-Qaeda bogeyman of choice for West’

Press TV: There’s always talk of al-Qaeda bogeyman whenever there is any report on Yemen in the Western media. Yet this al-Qaeda affiliate was very quiet since the start of the revolution in Yemen. What does that show?

Steinberg: Al-Qaeda is the buzzword to justify any kind of criminal activity imaginable from military intervention to brutal suppression of a genuinely popular and peaceful revolt against a corrupt and completely bankrupt regime and of course the Saudis in particular have carried out a whole series of brutal campaigns violating the borders of Yemen over a long period of time using this al-Qaeda pretext.

It is noteworthy that according to Colonel Gaddafi in Libya the two main sources of the uprising there are the CIA and Osama Bin Laden so it is almost getting to be comical that this bogeyman is used to justify all kinds of illegal behavior. We are going to find out at some point in the very near future the Saudis are engaged in massive “rendition operations” going into certain neighborhood in Bahrain and picking people off the streets and this is a desperate effort on the part of [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council countries to basically hold onto these Sunni regimes. It is not going to hold. Either there are going to be some very genuine and legitimate and verifiable concessions or one after the other these regimes are going to go under. The Libya situation has become more complicated by the fact that it is about the American and European interest in Libyan oil.

So that situation is somewhat different when you have a much larger criminal violation going on right now. The whole terms under which the UN Security Council resolution, which was halved with abstention rather than vetoes from Russian and china, has been proven to be a complete sham. The discussion among American and European leaders from day one was not about the humanitarian aid to the people in Benghazi but it was regime change, plain and simple. President Obama went on national television on Monday night and knowingly and systematically lied through his teeth about the nature of the operation was there. So al-Qaeda is the bogeyman of choice for justifying violation international law, and human rights and everything else.

To sum it up, Jeremy Scahill is right…

The Obama Doctrine Is No Different Than Bush’s

According to The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill, the US is worried that if President Ali Abdullah Saleh falls “the vacuum that would exist” in Yemen could be terrible for US counterterrorism operations. Scahill joined Martin Bashir on MSNBC to discuss why the US is intervening in Libya but refusing to take action in Yemen.

Saleh is a “thug,” says Scahill, someone whose snipers shoot protesters in the head. Yet, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wants a “political solution” to the growing instability in Yemen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claims it is not the US’s business to meddle in the internal affairs of Yemen.

Scahill says that “the Bush Administration created this theory that the world is a battlefield” and it therefore follows that the US can strike anywhere it sees a threat. The Obama Administration has not challenged this “theory” and has authorized a fair amount of covert violent actions.

We need another ‘Church Committee’ at the very least…

*gah*

by CTuttle

Obama Fiddles, Bibi Bombs, and, Libya Kicks SAS’ Buttocks

6:00 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

As the BBC reported today…

Libya unrest: UK diplomatic team released by rebels

A British diplomatic team, including six soldiers believed to be SAS, have been freed two days after being detained in eastern Libya.

…it is thought the special forces soldiers were with a diplomat who was making contact with opposition leaders.

Witnesses said the men were detained by rebels after arriving near Benghazi in a helicopter early on Friday morning.

They were held after going to an agricultural compound when Libyan security guards found they were carrying arms, ammunition, explosives, maps and passports from at least four different nationalities, witnesses told the BBC.

The witnesses said the men had denied they were carrying weapons.

Most ‘Embarrassing’ indeed, Mr Foreign Secretary Hague…!

In other Libyan developments today… Egypt Quietly Invades Libya

The rebellion against the Kadaffi dictatorship in Libya has not produced any official outside help, but Egypt has apparently sent some of its commandos in to help out the largely amateur rebel force. Wearing civilian clothes, the hundred or so Egyptian commandos are officially not there, but are providing crucial skills and experience to help the rebels cope with the largely irregular, and mercenary, force still controlled by the Kadaffi clan. There are also some commandos from Britain (SAS) and American (Special Forces) operators are also believed wandering around, mainly to escort diplomats or perform reconnaissance (and find out who is in charge among the rebels).

The Egyptian commandos come from Unit 777, a force that was established in the late 1970s, but underwent some ups and downs in the next two decades before achieving its current form. Today, the 250-300 -man Unit 777 is a significantly improved force. They fall under the command of the Army Commando Command, both of whom are based in Cairo. Unit 777 trains with the help of the German GSG-9, French GIGN, and American Delta Force commandos. All Unit 777 members are qualified in static-line (low altitude) airborne operations, and possibly with HALO (high altitude jumps) as well. The primary operations of Unit 777 involve the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic radical groups. There have been rumors that Unit 777 has conducted cross-border operations, although this cannot be confirmed. If not, this foray into Libya would be the first one. The foreign commandos who have worked with Unit 777 all agree that the Egyptians have become quite competent, especially when it comes to counter-terror operations.

Of course, you know Mossad must be busy these days in Libya…!

Today’s Jpost had this lovely report of past collusion…!

Islamic Jihad: Gaddafi, Mossad teamed up to kill Shikaki

The Islamic Jihad on Sunday accused Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi of collaborating with the Mossad in 1995 to help eliminate the group’s founder and leader, Dr. Fathi Shikaki, in Malta.

Arab news source Quds Press quoted an Islamic Jihad official as saying that Shikaki’s visit to Malta was top-secret and one of the only people who knew about it was Gaddafi.

A Fistful of Euros is a great source on more NATO/EU actions…

Now, I guess one should categorize this as a bit of ‘Sunday Humor’…

Gaddafi seeks UN probe into unrest in Libya

Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has said that the United Nations (UN) or the African Union should probe into the unrest rocking Libya, and promised investigators free access.

Gaddafi, who made his first such demand since the outbreak of violent protests in Libya, has also warned that the unrest would spell disaster for Europe, news.com.au reports.

“First of all I would like that an investigatory commission of the United Nations or the African Union comes here to Libya. We will let this panel work unhampered,” the Libyan leader said.

Warning that the protests would have serious repercussions for Europe, Gaddafi said: “Thousands of people from Libya will invade Europe, and there will be no-one to stop them.”

Gaddafi has a point on that last little bit…!

Moving along to Bibi’s latest BS…

Israeli warplanes strike Gaza

Israeli warplanes targeted three areas in the central and northern Gaza Strip on Sunday morning, causing damage but no injuries.

Witnesses said their homes shook when F16 fighter jets dropped missiles on an open area near a mosque in the Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City. They said some homes and shops near the mosque sustained material damage, but there were no injuries.

South of Gaza City, Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at an under construction belonging to the Islamic University.

In the central Gaza Strip, planes fired an open space near the Zawayda Sports Club.

The Israeli military said the strikes targeted “a terror tunnel in the northern Gaza Strip and two terror activity sites in the central Gaza Strip,” in a statement.

The army said “direct hits” were confirmed and that the “terror tunnel” was used by fighters to infiltrate Israel.

The raids were in response to Palestinian projectile fire aimed toward Israel on Saturday, the statement added.

A military spokeswoman said a projectile was fired into the Negev desert in southern Israel on Saturday, causing no damage or injuries.

The raids did not inflict any human casualties this time, but in February alone they’d killed seven and wounded 46 others, including children…

In other news, I think the title says it all…

Obama steers clear of ‘doctrine’ as Arab tumult rages

As a wildfire of revolt whips through the Middle East and North Africa, the White House is embracing pragmatism and shying away from embroidering a grand “Obama doctrine” for a region in turmoil.

For a politician as fond of the grand gesture as President Barack Obama, the idea of an eponymous school of foreign policy thought might seem tempting. [...]

But analysts and officials say that while Obama has laid out general principles to deal with the “Arab spring,” he is eschewing a rigid US philosophy for a region in tumult.

His actions towards each turmoil-wracked nation are different and do not adhere to a laid-down system of rules.

The closest we have to a policy is to allow the different revolutions to take place at their own pace, based on the timing of the people involved and intervening only through general statements of support,” said Julian Zelizer of Princeton University.

Other than that I don’t think there is any consistent principle.

Asked for his Middle East “doctrine,” Obama replied on Thursday: “number one, no violence against citizens; number two, that we stand for freedom and democracy.” [...]

“One of the extraordinary successes of Egypt was the full ownership that the Egyptian people felt for that transformation,” Obama said.

“We did not see anti-American sentiment arising out of that movement in Egypt precisely because they felt that we hadn’t tried to engineer or impose a particular outcome.”

The administration has often seemed to be making policy on the hoof during the Arab revolts, a factor reflected in its difficulty in framing a consistent message.

Number one, no violence against citizens…” I’m sure the Afghani/Pakistani/Yemeni citizens appreciate that sentiment, Mr. POTUS…!

I’ve got a way for O’bummer to resolve his inconsistent Foreign Policy dilemma, he could return his Nobel Peace Prize to Oslo…!

I know it’d clear my conscience a tad…!

*gah*

by CTuttle

Groundhog Day: We’re Winning in Afghanistan

9:42 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

“There’s been considerable progress in taking away from the Taliban safe havens,” Gen. David Petraeus said in an interview with NATO TV aired on Wednesday.

“They have to fight back, they’re losing momentum that’s quite clear,” he said. “They know they need to regain that momentum.”

Today’s USA Today had this little bit of propaganda…

General: Heart of Afghanistan insurgency beaten

Coalition forces in Afghanistan have beaten the insurgency in an important stronghold of Taliban fighters, though pockets of resistance remain, a U.S. commander said Monday in an interview with USA TODAY.

“This is really the heart of the insurgency,” Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Mills said of Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. “I believe they have been beaten.” [...]

The progress in Helmand province “shows you the momentum is shifting,” said James Phillips of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. Loosening the Taliban’s grip on the drug trade “could have a cascading effect in the years ahead,” he said.

“We can hold with massive U.S. forces,” said Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “We haven’t shown that Afghan forces can hold.

“It’s going to be a couple of years before we know what these accomplishments mean.”

Mills said coalition forces have succeeded in disrupting the Taliban’s ability to control and resupply its insurgents in Helmand province, and that militants have had to take refuge away from populated areas. “They’ve suffered defeat after defeat on the battlefield,” Mills said.

Central Asia Scholar, Joshua Foust, quickly dispatched that nonsense…

Tricky Logic

…Ignore the fact that just about everything he’s saying is wrong (starting with calling Helmand “the heart of the insurgency,” which not even General McChrystal was willing to say, as he considered Helmand only important as it related to Kandahar). By this logic—momentum is decisively shifting to favor us—we should therefore be contemplating a negotiated settlement with the defeated Taliban and a substantial withdrawal of our victorious Surge troops in July of this year, as promised at the start of the surge in 2009.

Of course, nothing of the sort will actually happen. Victory is justification for more presence, not less (just as defeat is justification for more presence, not less). Increased violence means we’re winning, so therefore we must stay to ensure the win (even though decreased violence would mean we’re winning, so therefore we must stay to ensure violence continues to decrease). We cannot negotiate with pure evil Talibal Qaeda, no matter their status, because some guys just need a good killin’ to fix the problem. And so on…

Interestingly, you can’t really fault the Marine General for his rosy outlook, he’s only following his CinC’s earlier lead…

Petraeus offers optimistic assessment of war in Afghanistan

Gen. David H. Petraeus on Tuesday offered an optimistic assessment of the war in Afghanistan, writing to his subordinates that coalition and Afghan troops in the past year “inflicted enormous losses” on mid-level insurgents and “took away some of their most important safe havens.”

The three-page letter to the troops made many of the same points that U.S. military officials have offered for weeks: an improving situation in southern Afghanistan, where the bulk of U.S. troops are based; a relentless mission tempo to kill insurgent field commanders; and an overall weakening of the Taliban.

“Now, in fact, the insurgents are increasingly responding to our operations rather than vice-versa, and there are numerous reports of unprecedented discord among the members of the Quetta Shura, the Taliban senior leadership body,” Petraeus wrote.

But Petraeus’s optimism – he has recently compared the situation in Afghanistan to how he felt near the end of 2007 in Iraq, when violence there began to fall sharply – is not widely shared among Afghans, or even other NATO diplomats or U.S. military officials.

The Grey Lady’s At War blog had this to say…

An Uncharacteristically Upbeat General in Afghanistan

Triumphalism is not supposed to be in the prayerbook of the American military’s Church of Coin these days, but last Wednesday, Jan. 19, proved to be something of an exception. At the morning standup that day, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top American commander in Afghanistan, was uncharacteristically jubilant. “We’ve got our teeth in the enemy’s jugular now, and we’re not going to let go,” General Petraeus exulted after being briefed on the military operations of the past 24 hours, according to two senior officers who saw the classified standup that day. [...]

“The deep downturn could just as easily be interpreted as an early winter reprieve, after an intense summer fight, and would not represent any longer term degradation of capacity,” Mr. Lee wrote. “If the 2011 spring offensives sustain, or build on, the level of violence achieved this year then it will be a sure indicator that the surge operations achieved little.”

“Taking the national data as a whole we consider this indisputable evidence that conditions are deteriorating,” the report said.

As everyone says here these days, we will see who is right come springtime.

I guess that’s why Betrayus is hedging his bets… and predicts intensified fighting in 2011.

The ANSO report on Afghanistan: Security Conditions across Provinces Deteriorating: Report…

Gates plays down Afghan troop figures in budget

Defense Secretary Robert Gates played down the accuracy of troop figures outlined in a budget request unveiled on Monday, saying the pace of the upcoming drawdown in Afghanistan was still unclear.

Pentagon budget documents forecast the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will drop to an average of 98,250 in fiscal year 2012, compared with an estimated average of 102,000 soldiers and support personnel in fiscal 2011.

Fiscal 2012 starts in October.

President Barack Obama has announced plans to start drawing down troops from the nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan in July, with the goal of passing lead security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

Gates, briefing reporters on the budget request, said he explained to lawmakers the 98,250 figure was “a conservative approach to budgeting … since we don’t know how many troops will be reduced during the course of FY ’12.”

“Depending on the size of the drawdowns, that (funding earmarked in the budget) may be money that we just don’t spend,” he added.

How about we pull them all out of harms way…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

Karzai’s Corrupt House of Cards is Collapsing

2:31 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Interestingly, although I’ve been following and blogging about Hamid Karzai’s corrupt ways and ties, for years now, little did I realize how fast it could possibly topple his government…

On Tuesday, the WaPoo reported about this sudden Bank seizure…

Afghan authorities take over biggest bank to avoid meltdown

…Afghanistan’s Central Bank has taken control of Kabul Bank, a politically potent financial institution partly owned by President Hamid Karzai’s brother, and ordered its chairman to hand over $160 million worth of luxury villas and other property purchased in Dubai for well-connected insiders, according to Afghan bankers and officials. The Central Bank’s intervention aims to shore up Afghanistan’s largest private bank, whose faltering finances threatened to wreak both economic and political havoc. Kabul Bank handles salary payments for Afghan soldiers, police and teachers, and has taken in more than $1 billion in deposits from ordinary Afghans. U.S. officials have long worried that trouble at Kabul Bank could trigger financial mayhem, a prospect that would leave Afghan security forces without pay, threaten unrest by angry – and often armed – depositors, and gravely undermine President Obama’s entire Afghan strategy

Which subsequently sparked a run on the Kabul Bank on Wednesday and Thursday…

Run on Afghan bank’s deposits reported

NBC News: Large investor confirms funds were used to buy Dubai villas

…About $155 million in deposits have been withdrawn from Afghanistan’s largest bank in just the last two days, spurring fresh concerns among U.S. and Afghan officials that a financial panic could spread through the country and derail the U.S. war effort, according to bank insiders and U.S. officials.

Mahmood Karzai, the brother of Afghanistan’s president and one of the principal shareholders in the troubled Kabul Bank, told NBC News in a telephone interview that panicky depositors withdrew $70 million from the bank on Thursday. This is on top of an estimated $85 million taken out on Wednesday, he said.

Which prompted Hamid Karzai to respond on Thursday…

Karzai: Afghan govt will back Kabul Bank

…Afghan President Hamid Karzai reassured nervous customers at the troubled Kabul Bank on Thursday, saying every penny of their deposits would be guaranteed by the government.

Larger than usual crowds gathered to withdraw funds from Afghanistan’s largest bank Wednesday and Thursday after two top executives resigned amid allegations of mismanagement and unorthodox real estate loans.

"The Kabul Bank is safe," Karzai said in a news conference with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal echoed that message, saying that fears about the stability of Kabul Bank had not sparked a "crisis" at Kabul Bank.

Even Petraeus had to chime in…

Petraeus backs Karzai over corruption

…Speaking to the media at his base in Camp Eggers, near Kabul, Gen Petraeus acknowledged, however, that concerns over sleaze were hindering a counter-insurgency drive in Kandahar and that Nato’s showpiece push in Marjah district faced tough obstacles.

Gen Petraeus described Mr Karzai as “very forthright about corruption” and said the Afghan president’s chief concern was one the US shared: Taliban safe havens in Pakistan.

He was speaking on the day that Robert Gates, US defence secretary, arrived in Kabul for talks with Mr Karzai. The Afghan president had intervened to release Mohammad Zia Salehi, one of his national security advisers, who was arrested in July over claims that he accepted a car in return for favours.

Mr Karzai’s move was widely seen as weakening two US anti-corruption bodies involved in the arrest – the Major Crimes Task Force and the Sensitive Investigative Unit. The Afghan president subsequently ordered a review of their conduct.

Gen Petraeus said: “There clearly was some friction, if you will, over the arrest of the individual who was in the palace. I think frankly those issues, perceptions, have been resolved.”

The Guardian wasn’t so charitable as the rest of the Lame Stream Media was and named names…

Afghan officials resist clean-up of Kabul Bank as scandal engulfs elite

President Hamid Karzai’s brother calls for US to guarantee deposits amid fears collapse would threaten police and army salaries

…The central bank on Tuesday ordered that the chairman and chief executive of Kabul Bank, who are both large shareholders in the bank, should step down from their positions and a government official be appointed to manage the bank.

But western officials with intimate knowledge of the financial drama said the US treasury wanted to see much stronger action. That would include bringing the bank into line with international norms…

Such independence would risk bringing to light allegations that members of the country’s business and political elite have, for years, apparently got away with using deposits of thousands of ordinary Afghans to fund lavish lifestyles. The bank’s funds are said to have been used to invest in loss-making enterprises and, allegedly, the re-election campaign of President Karzai.

In the words of one foreign official, the US treasury is anxious to "rip the lid" off the cowboy capitalism that has been allowed to flourish at Kabul Bank. [...]

"But there are lots of assets off the books. The hunch is that shareholders would like to continue to use bank assets how they want, rather than bring it into line with international best practice."

Naturally, the corrupt fired parties blamed everybody else…

Ex-executives say their dismissals triggered run on Kabul Bank

…The two ousted executives of Afghanistan’s largest bank have blamed a hasty management purge for a run on the embattled institution this week.

President Hamid Karzai ordered the dismissal of the managers at Kabul Bank this week after concerns about questionable loans that shareholders had approved for themselves, including some to fund the purchase of high-end real estate in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

Why not, though…? A mere week ago, Karzai was saying…

Kabul blames most corruption on Western allies

…Afghanistan said Monday blame for most of the corruption plaguing the impoverished country lies with its Western backers who dole out "illegitimate" contracts that have created an "economic mafia".

Afghanistan, one of the most corrupt countries in the world, is under intense pressure from its foreign backers to end endemic graft.

Presidential spokesman Waheed Omer said Afghanistan’s foreign allies were responsible for the vast bulk of corruption in the country, which is mired in extreme poverty despite receiving tens of billions of dollars in Western aid over the past decade.

"Our international partners provided the ground for some people in Afghanistan to become unbelievably rich. Some people (have) become an economic mafia in Afghanistan," he said.

Even Bloomberg reported it… Karzai Says Corrupt Firms Undermine Afghan War (Correct)

Sadly, there’s kernels of truth to Hamid’s charges…

Billion Dollar Audit Missed by Pentagon Watchdog
Military auditors failed to complete an audit of the business systems of an Ohio- based company – Mission Essential Personnel – even though it had billed for one billion dollars worth of work largely in Afghanistan over the last four years.

…In September 2007 the U.S. Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) awarded Mission Essential Personnel (MEP) a five-year-contract worth up to 414 million dollars to provide 1,691 translators in Afghanistan. MEP was a start-up company created by three men, including Chad Monnin, a U.S. Army Special Forces reservist who was injured in a parachute accident. Procurement rules give preference to companies owned by injured veterans, even if they have no prior experience.

When the Obama administration decided to expand the war in Afghanistan last year, MEP quickly hit the ceiling of what it could bill. On May 10, INSCOM gave MEP a 679 million dollar extension without bothering to put it up for competitive bid. MEP will also get a share of the Intelligence Support Services Omnibus III contract, a five-year contract, with a ceiling of 492 million dollars, announced on Aug. 10, 2010.

The only two other contractors that have held multi-billion dollar contracts to supply translators to soldiers and diplomats in the Global War on Terror – L- 3/Titan and Global Linguist Services – have both been investigated for alleged overcharging, suggesting that this type of work falls in the high risk category of government spending.

Yet the Defence Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) failed to conduct a full business systems audit for MEP.

The CS Monitor truly puts it all into its proper context…

Kabul Bank run may pose more immediate threat than Afghan Taliban

The Kabul Bank is a bedrock for a stable Afghan society. Its collapse could spell disaster for the country already battling a resurgent Afghan Taliban.

…The fallout from Kabul Bank’s problems could extend beyond the economy. The Post reported Thursday that "an unchecked run on Kabul Bank, which could spread alarm to other banks, would jeopardize not only depositors’ savings but President Obama’s Afghan strategy, which is built around efforts to rally the public against the Taliban."

American officials, security analysts, and Afghan businessmen also see it as a security threat. The US hopes a growing Afghan economy will lift living standards, undercut support for the Taliban, and increase confidence in Mr. Karzai. And the Kabul bank particularly plays a central role: it houses $1.3 billion in deposits from ordinary citizens, and also handles payments for teachers, soldiers, and police – the bedrock of a stable Afghan society.

Once again, I ask ya; what are we fighting, and dying, for…?

*gah*

by CTuttle

Marja Reflux: McChrystal calls it a ‘bleeding ulcer’ in Afghan campaign

7:10 pm in Uncategorized by CTuttle

McClatchy’s Dion Nissenbaum filed this gem today…

"You’ve got to be patient," Lt. Col. Brian Christmas told McChrystal. "We’ve only been here 90 days."

"How many days do you think we have before we run out of support by the international community?" McChrystal replied.

A charged silence settled in the stuffy, crowded chapel tent at the Marine base in the Marjah district.

"I can’t tell you, sir," the tall, towheaded, Fort Bragg, N.C., native finally answered.

"I’m telling you," McChrystal said. "We don’t have as many days as we’d like." [...]

"This is a bleeding ulcer right now," McChrystal told a group of Afghan officials, international commanders in southern Afghanistan and civilian strategists who are leading the effort to oust the Taliban fighters from Helmand.

"You don’t feel it here," he said during a 10-hour front-line strategy review, "but I’ll tell you, it’s a bleeding ulcer outside."

Throughout the day, McChrystal expressed impatience with the pace of operations, echoing the mounting pressure he’s under from his civilian bosses in Washington and Europe to start showing progress.

Progress in Marjah has been slow, however, in part because no one who planned the operation realized how hard it would be to convince residents that they could trust representatives of an Afghan government that had sent them corrupt police and inept leaders before they turned to the Taliban.

A hundred days after U.S.-led forces launched the offensive, Marjah markets are thriving, the local governor has begun to build a skeleton staff and contractors have begun work on rebuilding schools, canals and bridges.

Marines are running into more firefights on their patrols, however. Taliban insurgents threaten and kill residents who cooperate with the Americans, and it will be months before a permanent police force is ready to take control of the streets from the temporary force that’s brought some stability to Marjah.

The U.S.-backed Marjah governor, Marine officials said, has five top ministers. Eight of 81 certified teachers are on the job, and 350 of an estimated 10,000 students are going to school.

In an attempt to contain the creeping Taliban campaign, Lt. Col. Christmas’ 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, in northern Marjah recently ceded direct control of an outlying rural area, collapsed its battle space and moved a company back into the population center, which had been neglected.

"There was no security," said Haji Mohammed Hassan, a tribal elder whose fear of the Taliban prompted him to leave Marjah two weeks ago for the relative safety of Helmand’s nearby provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

"By day there is government," he said. "By night it’s the Taliban." [...]

"What we have done, in my view, we have given the insurgency a chance to be a little bit credible," McChrystal said in one meeting. "We said: ‘We’re taking it back.’ We came in to take it back. And we haven’t been completely convincing."

"The vast majority of people are going to be on the fence, and they’re going to wait," said the U.S. official, who asked not to be identified because the meeting was meant to offer candid advice to McChrystal.

"The hard question for us is: Can we push them off the fence or do we have to wait for them? It will take time, and even if you throw two more battalions in there, it is still going to take months and months."

"It was a long way gone; therefore I think patience is necessary," said Mark Sedwill, NATO’s senior civilian representative in Afghanistan. "But I can quite understand why the sheer amount of attention created a sense of expectation that is hard to fulfill."

As Col. Pat Lang had noted so adroitly…

I keep saying that the preliminary COIN effort at Marja is a predictor of what the likely prospects are for COIN success at Kandahar and elsewhere around the country. Where is the news from Marja?

Time is short. William Hague, the new British foreign minister urges the US not to withdraw "too soon" from Afghanistan. That is easy for him to say. His government is new and not yet scarred. The horizon seems far away just now. For President Obama the horizon is close and approaching fast. We have learned now that Obama recognized during the Afghan policy debate that the generals and admirals were trying to "roll" him for what they wanted. They wanted a long COIN war in Afghanistan with an open ended commitment to that war. He called Admiral Mullen and Secretary Gates to his office and summoned them to subordination. The threat behind that was obvious. In spite of that he gave them much of what they wanted, but with a caveat driven by his political need to start the end of the war before November, 2012.

That clock is ticking. The Afghan insurgents can hear it ticking. The generals do not have the time they would need to make their strategy work.

The West Point commencement speech yesterday was interesting. It becomes increasingly obvious that Obama is both a social democrat and an internationalist in the classic old mold. These are heavy political burdens for a candidate to bear these days. He will not be able to bear an additional burden in Afghanistan in 2012.

Interestingly, it seems that Marja was a wake up call for our ‘effort’ in Kandahar…

U.S. Military Tones Down Rhetoric On Kandahar

… Until a few weeks ago, U.S. and NATO military officials were describing the upcoming operation in Kandahar as a major offensive — the cornerstone of the new strategy meant to break the momentum of the Taliban insurgency — and said it was due to get under way this spring or in early summer, to be wrapped up by August.

But then last month, American military spokesmen in Kabul began telling reporters it was incorrect to use terms such as "offensive" or "operation" in describing plans for Kandahar. Last week, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said the "efforts" in Kandahar are a process, not an event.

"We’re not using the term ‘operation’ or ‘major operations,’ because that often brings to mind in people’s psyche the idea of a D-Day and an H-hour and an attack," he said. [...]

"I think what’s happening in Kandahar is that they’re digesting some of the lessons of Marja," says John Nagl, a counterinsurgency specialist with the Center for a New American Security.

In February, the U.S. launched an offensive in the villages of the Marja district, driving out the Taliban. Since then, militants have filtered back in, and the newly installed government is struggling to take hold.

Nagl says U.S. military strategists learned a great deal over the past few months with the Marja operation, and now they recognize the need for a strong government in Kandahar — to help secure the trust of the city’s residents — before going in.

"We recognized that the Afghan government … didn’t have much capacity to come into a new area and establish a high degree of control," Nagl says.

Had enough…?

by CTuttle

Major Fail in the ‘Hearts and Minds’ PR ‘Processes’

8:54 pm in Military by CTuttle

"We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat" -ISAF/NATO Gen. McChrystal

Yesterday, McChrystal attempted to spin this frank statement he uttered to NPR the previous day; Top General: It’s A Draw In Afghanistan, on Faux Spew, in which; McChrystal Sees Progress, but ‘Nobody Is Winning’ Afghan War Yet…

…In a blunt assessment of the war in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal declared in a TV interview Thursday that "nobody is winning," though he also pointed to progress in stopping the momentum of insurgents.

The assessment by McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, comes a day after President Obama, while hosting Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House, predicted the war will get worse before it gets better.

McChrystal was responding to a question posed in an interview that aired on PBS’ "News Hour."

"I think I would be prepared to say nobody is winning, at this point," McChrystal said. "Where the insurgents, I think, felt that they had momentum a year ago, felt that they were making clear progress, I think that’s stopped."

Now it is the U.S. and Afghan forces that have "made a lot of progress," he said.

WTF…? Why would you be offering ‘Courageous Restraint’ medals, for pete’s sakes if you actually thought your COIN tactics were working…? If a Platoon Leader decided not to man a checkpoint, does he merit an AAM…? Checkpoints, of course, currently constituting the largest spike in civilian casualties in Afghanistan…

…Shootings of Afghan civilians by American and NATO convoys and at military checkpoints have spiked sharply this year, becoming the leading cause of combined civilian deaths and injuries at the hands of Western forces, American officials say.

The steep rise in these convoy and checkpoint attacks — which the military calls “escalation of force incidents” — has prompted military commanders to issue new troop guidelines in recent weeks that include soliciting local Afghan village and tribal elders and other leaders for help preventing convoy and checkpoint shootings.

Now, today, Spencer and Jim posted two poignant posts…

From Spencer’s Windy post…

…On Thursday, however, Karzai, McChrystal and Clinton sounded harmonious notes about what McChrystal described as not an operation but a “rising tide of security” into the city. All three expressly forswore the use of the word “operation” — the word conjured up inappropriate images of “tanks, troops moving” through the city, Karzai said — and instead said Kandahar would be a “process” featuring more out-governing the Taliban than out-fighting it. Karzai suggested he became more comfortable with the “process” in Kandahar in the last week.

“This is the consequence of consultations that we have had” with the Americans, Karzai said. “The effort in Kandahar and the surrounding area has to be explained better, the modality of it has to be explained better, so we’re not calling it at all an operation.” Instead, the “process” would feature “bringing conditions to the Kandahar region and around where there is better governance, better resources and more active, vigorous vibrant intelligence activity and then, if and when and where needed, an operation militarily, in consultation with the community and backed by the community.”

McChrystal told reporters at the Pentagon not to expect a “D-Day and an H-hour and an attack” on the city, calling it “a process, not an event.” Instead, he will surge forces — NATO and Afghan — into Kandahar and its surrounding areas “without lapsing into major fighting” that he said “the insurgents would love to see.”

While McChrystal did not specify his battle plan at his briefing, informed sources indicated to TWI that McChrystal would seek to raise the current force mix in Kandahar from 6900 NATO troops and 5300 Afghan troops currently to 11,850 NATO forces and 8500 Afghans by September, with an emphasis on more than doubling the Afghan police presence there. That “rising tide” will coincide with planned rapid assemblies of local jirgas to “reconnect” Kandaharis to national, provincial and local government representatives — something to which Karzai said today he is committed. By November, McChrystal’s command expects to see subtle and favorable changes in Afghan perceptions of the capabilities of the government to provide a better life and for Afghan security forces to keep the peace.

McChrystal said in his press briefing that one of the lessons of months’ worth of difficult fighting in Helmand province is that change is measured in Afghan perceptions of which side offers a better future — and can’t be easily observed. “If you go every day, each day, it’s not a dramatic change,” McChrystal said. “If you go months’ difference, then it is.” That raised the prospect of months of ambiguous progress, at best, occurring alongside what McChrystal forecast would be violent and bloody contests with the Taliban.

Yep, Success can’t be judged until November, at the earliest…

US: Success of Afghan Anti-Taliban Surge Won’t Be Known Until End of Year

…The commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan says it will likely be the end of the year before it is clear whether the effort to assert Afghan government control in the key southern city of Kandahar is succeeding.

U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal says the Afghan and coalition effort in Kandahar has been going on for several months and will continue for several more, with a combination of military and civilian operations to expand the areas controlled by the Afghan government and to deliver security and services to the people.

And the general says just as the effort is gradual, without a formal starting date or a major military offensive, evidence of its effectiveness will also come slowly.

"I think it is going to be the end of this calendar year before you will know," he said. "I may know and feel before that. But I think that it will matter when the Afghan people know, and when the Afghan people have made that judgment. That will be the key point."

At a news conference near the end of the Washington visit by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, General McChrystal stressed the difficulties that lie ahead as the surge of U.S. and international forces continues and their operations, along with Afghan forces, intensify.

"This is a process that takes time," he said. "It will demand courage and resilience. We should expect increased violence as our combined security forces expand into Taliban-controlled areas."

*heh* It always gets lost amongst the noise of the MSM’s reporting that Kandahar is the Spiritual home of their much touted Taliban…! But, I digress…

Jim noticed a seismic shift in the Fawning Corporate Media’s reporting bias…

As Afghanistan Night Raid Protests Turn Deadly, NATO and US Forces Lose Press Credibility

One can only hope it’s a Cronkite-level paradigm shift…

I would like to add to the general discourse, that, there are two operations ‘Processes’ in motion aimed at Kandahar…

As I’d noted shortly after ‘success’ was declared in Marja… Operation Omid was launched with some fanfare…

Then, I’d noticed another name mentioned in the Operation Process on Kandahar, announced later on…

OPERATION HAMKARI UNDER WAY IN KANDAHAR

Karzai’s visit comes as U.S. defense officials say they are expanding the Afghan and international effort to assert Afghan government control beyond Helmand province to Kandahar.

Army General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told the MSNBC television channel May 6 that “we have already long since commenced the operations in Kandahar” to expand security and establish local governance “that can be seen as legitimate in the eyes of the people.”

“This is not going to be an operation like Fallujah [in Iraq], where you start at one side of the city and fight your way to the other and clear it of insurgents. Rather, it’s going to be an expanding tide, if you will, a rising tide of security,” Petraeus said.

In testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee May 5, U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant General John Paxton Jr., who is director of operations at the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the effort in Kandahar is named Hamkari, which means “cooperation” in Dari, and was “planned and will be conducted with our Afghan partners in the lead.”

As with Operation Moshtarak, which has been conducted in Helmand province, the coalition is integrating military efforts to improve security with civilian projects that are focused on improving local governance, development and agriculture.

“The focus of Hamkari is on providing Kandahar with credible and effective governance that gives the population hope for the future. More effective government will deliver security, basic services, development and employment. If these ends are achieved, the people of Kandahar will reject the insurgency and support the government,” Paxton said.

“A more capable, representative and responsive government will be able to bring the economic development and rule of law that the area so badly needs,” he said.

So, fer shits and giggles, that would be why they have to get in bed with the louse-infested, Half Brother, Wali Karzai, the King of Kandahar…!

As a recent Timesonline article stated…

…The success or failure of Hamkari, the coalition’s make-or-break gambit in Kandahar, will define the future of the Afghan war, so some may puzzle over why so much is being given away so early. Won’t revealing information about the forces and the political plan for Kandahar endanger coalition lives and allow the insurgents to develop an informed counter-strategy?

In non-conventional warfare, the information campaign is everything and the psychological effect will be far greater than that of bombs and bullets. There are plenty of precedents for civilians and enemy forces being informed of an army’s intent — not least in Helmand during Operation Moshtarak.

In most cases the objectives are simple: to encourage civilians to leave and prevent innocent casualties. In Kandahar the priorities are more complex but can be decoded easily enough.

Emphasis has been placed by diplomats and commanders on the narrow window of opportunity — between the peak of troop numbers in August and the US midterm elections in November.

I would posit that both ‘Processes’ are still underway in Kandahar, Hope and Co-operation…! (Ironic, no…?)

GlobalPost’s Jean MacKenzie, further mentioned Hope (Omid) today…

Karzai’s US visit yields cold comfort

…The ostensible goal of the visit was to brush up Karzai’s image in the United States, where recent polls show that Americans are feeling more and more reluctant to continue supporting the war in Afghanistan. The United States needed to demonstrate that earlier criticism of the Afghan president had been put aside.

The Afghan president was also intent on securing Washington’s commitment to negotiations with the Taliban, a topic that will be the subject of a Peace Jirga in Kabul later this month.

Despite brave attempts to put the best possible face on the proceedings, the Obama-Karzai “summit” yielded little in the way of real progress, and failed to fully rehabilitate the problematic Afghan president, either at home or abroad. [...]

Eikenberry, a retired general who had a close relationship to the Afghan president in his former capacity as commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, would not say outright that he had laid his earlier fears to rest. The closest he would come, before Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stepped in to save him, was to acknowledge that “President Karzai is the — he’s the elected president of Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a close friend and ally, and of course I highly respect President Karzai in that capacity,”

Talk about damning with faint praise. [...]
“Now, obviously, there are going to be tensions in such a complicated, difficult environment,” said Obama during the pair’s joint press briefing on Wednesday.

The topic of reconciliation with the Taliban also did not move off ground zero.

The U.S. position has always been that any Taliban who renounce violence, break with their ideological mentors and accept the Afghan constitution are welcome to a seat at the negotiating table.

This has always been a non-starter with the armed opposition, who want any negotiations to address some of their conditions — such as the withdrawal of foreign troops.

As Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, the former Taliban foreign minister, put it in an earlier interview with GlobalPost: “Once we have put down their arms and accepted the constitution, what is there to talk about? That is not negotiation, that is surrender.”

Karzai was hoping for something a bit more substantive in advance of his Peace Jirga in Kabul in late May, during which he will try to forge a broad consensus among the Afghan people on the way to a negotiated settlement with the insurgency.

Instead, he got warmed-over assurances that the United States firmly supported peace — on its previously stated terms, of course. [...]
Probably the most worrying aspect of the visit, in the Afghan president’s eyes, were frequent references to the proposed U.S. drawdown of forces, set to begin in July 2011. Many observers have traced Karzai’s new eagerness to reach an agreement with the Taliban to his angst over being left to deal with them on his own once his American backers go home.

The stated plan has been to hand over security to Afghanistan’s own security forces — to “make Afghanistan masters in their own house” according to a NATO summit in Tallinn last month.

But police training has stalled badly, and even the army is not up to snuff, despite Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s remarks during a press briefing that the growth of the Afghan national army and police was “largely on track.”

In the end, the visit was an extended exercise in public relations, designed to reassure audiences in Washington and Kabul that the war is being won, the end is in sight, victory is in the air.

But judging by the reaction in Kabul, the message fell flat.

Hmmm… I wonder why…?

by CTuttle

‘Battlefield Executions’, ‘Patterns of Life’, ‘Nancy Pelosi of Kandahar’, and Other Blasphemies

1:45 am in Uncategorized by CTuttle

Transcript here

My, my… With Karzai in town there’s been a sudden surge in AfPak articles. Spanning the political spectrum from Breitbart’s dubious reporting: Mullah Omar Has Been Captured! To Spencer’s Windy article: Five Messages From the Obama-Karzai Press Conference…

I’d first like to expand and expound upon Spencer’s ‘listicle’ points…

1. Unity, Stand Together as One.

This point is pretty generic and I can only add that I found it interesting that ISAF/NATO rebranded the whole operation aimed at Kandahar, it is no longer Operation Hope err… Omid, it’s now called Operation Hamkari (Co-operation, in Dari… natch!)

2. The ‘Peace Jirga’ Will Be as Successful as the War Effort Allows It to Be. A reporter expressed skepticism that the Taliban will embrace any reconciliation plan offered by a forthcoming “consultative peace jirga” in Kabul. That effort has been a signature agenda item for Karzai since the January international conference on Afghanistan in London, especially since polls show that the Afghan people badly want a negotiated end to the war. But while U.S. officials have been careful to emphasize the differences between reconciliation efforts with Taliban leaders and reintegration efforts to absorb low-level Taliban fighters, Karzai instead talked about the “thousands of Taliban who are not ideologically oriented, who are not part of al-Qaeda or other terrorist networks.” Those “country boys” have been radicalized, he said, “at times, [by] misconducted by us.”

*heh* Don’t raise your hopes for the Afghan peace jirga! And about those ‘country boys’… 85% in Kandahar Call Taliban "Our Afghan Brothers"… I might add that the Taleban has already said they’d boycott the jirga… I actually saw a alemarah.info cite saying they’d do so, however, neither google, nor, yahoo would let me retrieve their statement…! The better half told me she didn’t want the FBI harassing us when I’d grumbled about it…! I told her we’re probably already high on a list some where…! She was not amused… But, I digress…!

3. Let’s Not Talk About Corruption. You’ll be shocked to hear that persistent issues in Afghan government corruption or capacity to deliver services for the Afghan people were addressed only in general terms from a joint presidential White House press conference, for all the talk about “frankness.” Karzai pledged his “dedication and extreme care to ensure” that U.S. economic aid to Afghanistan is “spent well.” Obama said that he was encouraged by Karzai’s words and initial actions since his second inaugural, but there is “more to do.”…

More to do…? You’ve already gotten in bed with his brother, Ahmid…! Which leads me to Wali’s recent asinine analogy; "I’m the Nancy Pelosi of Kandahar"… Ironically, Miz Pelosi had this to say upon her recent jaunt to Afghanistan and personal visit with Wali Karzai… "Pelosi says corruption holding back Afghanistan" Now, moving right along…

4. “Long-Term Relationship.” Three words spoken very often by both presidents. “This is a long-term partnership that is not simply defined by our military presence,” Obama said. “After July 2011, we are still going to have an interest in making sure Afghanistan is secure.” Music to Karzai’s ears. Let’s see if Obama’s political enemies continue to misrepresent July 2011 as the beginning of a U.S. troop bugout.

It would be nice if our troops bugged out like the Dutch, Canadians, and, possibly the Germans… But, that’d be a mere pipe dream like this…

5. Civilian Casualties Must Be Avoided. They’re “not just a political problem for me,” Obama said about the most inflammatory issue in Afghan eyes. “I am ultimately accountable” for every civilian death in Afghanistan. In a surprisingly personal recognition, Obama said that civilian deaths are “something I have to carry with me.” Karzai praised Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s efforts to avoid mistakenly killing Afghan civilians, but recent reports indicate those casualties are again on the rise.

More recent reports, along with this Shootings of Afghans on Rise at Checkpoints, and even this Afghanistan reports surge in civilian deaths

Now, this would truly be noble of our Peace Nobelist Prez…

Obama: I Am Accountable for Afghan Civilian Casualties

If it wasn’t for that whole ‘Pattern of Life’ thingy going on…

…So we should not be surprised to find the Obama Administration outstripping its mentors and models from the Bush years in the production of Orwellian nomenclature. Nor is it remarkable that these perversions of language are leading to further perversions of law, morality and plain common sense.

We refer to the recent story in the Los Angeles Times about the vast expansion of the CIA’s powers to murder people in Pakistan with missiles fired by robot drones. These remote-control killings were originally aimed at specific, known, named individuals suspected of being top "militant" leaders. But now, people are being targeted not because of any action they are known or alleged to have taken, but simply because they seem to fit an arbitrarily designated "pattern of life" — even if the remote-control killers don’t know the victim’s name.

This "pattern" is put together from clumps of data gathered by surveillance robots hovering high in the sky above Pakistani towns and villages, watching people as they go about their ordinary business, and from whatever bits of local gossip the CIA can glean from paid operatives raking through their neighbor’s private lives. Naturally, the CIA refuses to describe "the standards of evidence" by which it decides to kill unknown, defenseless people with missile strikes on houses, compounds and neighborhoods. And of course, the Agency claims it is targeting only "militants" (however that infinitely elastic term is being defined these days).

Yet at the same time, the Terror War operatives cannot resist boasting that they are sweeping up so much information that they can determine "the characteristics of individual people." And since is it the pattern of observed daily life that yields the designation of a person as a "militant," the CIA must inevitably be tracking countless numbers of innocent people as well. Otherwise, how could they discern specific "patterns of life" that indicate the existence of a hitherto unknown "militant" within a given population? You can only get such data by observing that population as a whole.

We truly have sunk to new lows…!