Posts Tagged ‘ Taliban ’

Afghanistan: an end in sight?


I don’t buy into the claim that the war in Afghanistan was illegal, immoral or that it wasn’t worth going in there and kicking some Taliban butt.

That said, we’re not really getting anywhere, are we? Thus, the following is probably the best course of action.

THE US and Afghan governments have begun secret* three-way talks with the Taliban, Afghan President Hamid Karzai told The Wall Street Journal, disclosing an important breakthrough in efforts to end the 10-year war.

Mr Karzai, whose government had protested being left out of recent talks between Washington and the insurgents, added he believes most Taliban are “definitively” interested in a peace settlement.

Now an assertation by Karzai doesn’t exactly carry much weight IMO, but let’s hope he’s right on this occaision. It looks like this report out of the Pentagon backs what Karzai is saying.

The Pentagon on Wednesday offered new details of its plan for shifting from a combat mission in Afghanistan to one focused on training and advising Afghan forces as they gradually shoulder more of the combat burden.

The Army identified five U.S.-based brigades, as well as an Army Reserve organization, that will be reconfigured and sent to Afghanistan between April and August to “generate, employ and sustain” Afghan forces.

The Army called this a “new mission” after more than 10 years of fighting in Afghanistan.

And there’s this interesting and hopefully positive development, as well.

Karzai’s comments came as he prepared to meet the leaders of neighbouring Pakistan and Iran in Islamabad on Thursday for a summit set to focus on security issues, including the Taliban insurgency and support for it from within Pakistan. He did not give any further details about the contacts.

Now I’m no military strategist hotshot, but I really don’t think the West has to worry too much about Taliban strikes on our home soil or Iran cutting off its oil supplies if the US/NATO has a less active role in the region. Iran needs the money and/or gold more than ever thanks to sanctions; gold which they’re reportedly using to by grain (from Australia no less) and which others are reportedly using to buy Iranian oil.

*BTW, the talks aren’t really “secret” are they when word of them is splashed across the WSJ and the Australian.

Seriously? It has come to this?


After 10 long years, the US military and the Taliban are fighting it out…

On twitter?

*groan*

The Taliban is, er, NOT our enemy?


So says US VP Joe Biden.

H/T Newser

Pakistan, too


It’s hard to find fault with Christopher Hitchen’s latest.

It’s essentially about the quagmire in Afghanistan.

And (my opinion) whilst it would be folly to leave, geez it’d be nice if Karzai were on our side.

But this narrowness pales beside the truly awful opportunism and cynicism of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai. In previous cases of irrational violence, such as the bloody riots that occurred on the mere rumor of a Quran being desecrated in Guantanamo, he had taken quite a responsible line (pointing out, for example, that one library destroyed by the incendiaries had contained several fine old Qurans). Unlike some provincial mullahs, Karzai also knows perfectly well that the U.S. government is constitutionally prohibited from policing religious speech among its citizens. Yet, when faced with the doings of the aforementioned moronic cleric from Gainesville, he went out of his way to intensify mob feeling. This caps a long period where his behavior has come to seem like a conscious collusion with warlordism, organized crime, and even with elements of the Taliban. Already under constant pressure to make consistent comments about Syria and Libya, the Obama administration might want to express itself more directly about a man for whose fast-decomposing regime we are shedding our best blood.

Roleplay


It can be an effective weapon in a teacher’s arsenal of methods used to teach. But this one may be taking that last metaphor a bit too literally.

The Mail Online where I found this video is shocked, but before rushing off to that YouTube Smackdown link in the sidebar, consider the bloke who originally published it on his facebook page. He doesn’t exactly come across as a promoter of terrorism.

Much more likely it is indeed one of those art reflects life scenarios.

Not the best activity a teacher could be doing? Perhaps.

But let’s remember the origins of “Ring a Ring a Rosey”.

If true, how can we trust Pakistan?


This isn’t the first time Pakistan have been strongly suspected of at best, playing a double game or at worst actively working against our interests. You may remember a piece from a few months back purporting Osama bin Laden is “living well” in north west Pakistan, protected by locals and elements of Pakistan’s ISI (intelligence service).

Then there was Obama making a pretty poor decision IMHO to release the Taliban’s #2 who was in Pakistan.

And now, this:

THE reclusive one-eyed chief of the Afghan Taliban Mullah Mohammed Omar was treated for a heart attack in Pakistan with the help of its intelligence service, the Washington Post says.

The spiritual leader of the Islamist insurgency, who went deep underground after the 2001 US-led invasion, suffered a heart attack on January 7 and was taken to a hospital near Karachi for several days, the Post said, citing a report by a private intelligence network run by former US security officials.

The network, operating as a private company known as “The Eclipse Group,” said its source was an unnamed physician in the hospital.

“While I was not personally in the operating theatre… my evaluation based on what I have heard and seeing the patient in the hospital is that Mullah Omar had a cardiac catheter complication resulting in either bleeding or a small cerebral vascular incident, or both,” the physician was quoted as saying.

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The doctor added that Omar appeared to have suffered some brain damage and had slurred speech following the operation.

The report said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had “rushed him to a hospital in Karachi, where he was given heparin (an anticoagulant) and operated on.”

Geez. When they’re not “fixing” the cricket, they’re “fixing” the war, which will be “won” hard enough as it is.*

*If that last link doesn’t work, it’s because the Korean education Dept. won’t let their computers go to Rolling Stone, along with a plethora of other sites. Why sites like Rolling Stone, wired.com, and the Guardian homepage, for example, are banned is a mystery.

The XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement System


Via commenter, Red, White, and Blue, in email who states, “Now, this is what I like to see.”

Ditto.

The XM25 is basically a “smart” grenade launcher and is being hailed as a game changer.

Let’s hope so.

WASHINGTON (AFP) – It looks and acts like something best left in the hands of Sylvester Stallone’s “Rambo,” but this latest dream weapon is real — and the US Army sees it becoming the Taliban’s worst nightmare.

The Pentagon has rolled out prototypes of its first-ever programmable “smart” grenade launcher, a shoulder-fired weapon that uses microchipped ammunition to target and kill the enemy, even when the enemy is hidden behind walls or other cover.

Tidy.

9/11? Don’t ask an Afghani


This is astounding, and quite disturbing.

KABUL (Reuters) – Afghans in two crucial southern provinces are almost completely unaware of the September 11 attacks on the United States and don’t know they precipitated the foreign intervention now in its 10th year, a new report showed on Friday.

Although this does put into context the musing of an Afghani father I saw on the show, “My Family Feast“. Living in Australia now, he briefly mentioned the war back in his homeland, noting that whereas before the US was against the Russian invaders, now the US are the invaders.

I was unpleasantly surprised that this bloke didn’t get why the US et. al. was there; that we’re there to stomp on the Taliban and any other terrorist scum, and help give the Afghani’s some much needed freedom whilst, of course, looking after our own.

PS And Bob Brown can suck it.

Afghanistan debate heats up


The PM reckons we’ll be there at least another 10 years, albeit not always in a combat role.

AUSTRALIA will remain in Afghanistan after its troops complete their training mission in 2014 and be engaged there “through this decade at least”, Julia Gillard said today.

Meanwhile, retired ADF chief, Peter Gration, is tiring of the vagueness surrounding the issue.

AUSTRALIAN troops in Afghanistan need an exit strategy based on clear and measurable objectives, says former Australian Defence Force chief Peter Gration.

Speaking on the eve of the parliamentary debate on Afghanistan, General Gration said the war effort was being undermined by vague military aims and public confusion about the rationale for Australia’s continued involvement in the conflict.

Downer calls for Taliban negotiations


At first glance, this is a particularly unpalatable notion, but perhaps the Realpolitik of the situation warrants such a change of strategy.

THE initial objective of the invasion of Afghanistan has been achieved and it’s time for a diplomatic settlement involving the Taliban and their Pakistani creators, says former foreign minister Alexander Downer.

In an article entitled “Our messy war” published in The Spectator ahead of the parliamentary debate on Afghanistan, Mr Downer said the initial military goal was to destroy al-Qaeda’s capacity to use Afghanistan as a base for attacks on the US and other western targets.

“That goal was achieved. Al-Qaeda was destroyed in Afghanistan. As time has passed there has been mission creep,” he said.

Mr Downer said the task now was apparently to improve the quality of democracy and security, but that was proving perilously difficult as Afghanistan had never been competently governed by an administration based in Kabul.

However, on the one hand we see reports of a decimated Taliban having endured a near decade-long “arse-kicking”. Their best commanders are either dead or captured and what’s left is literally a rag tag army.

Thus, why negotiate now? Rather, seizing the jugular (g’day, reader Carpe Jugulum ;-)!) would appear to be the more effective option in the long-run.

But then there are the reports of a wishy-washy US president who even after an Iraqi-style troop surge- which has arguably been a success, just like in Iraq - still appears to not really know what to do.

American Spectator’s Alfred S. Regnery:

Afghanistan is often called the “graveyard of empires.” It is also Barack Obama’s Achilles’ heel. He has nobody to blame but himself.

Afghanistan has little strategic value and the war is one of choice rather than necessity. Now, at the end of a wasteful and frustrating decade, our objective is to end the fighting and leave a measure of stability behind. But clarifying even this simple goal seems more than the Obama administration can handle.

That’s probably why Downer is calling for a deal. Regnery’s piece goes on to remind us that Afghanistan, hardly a nation, is but really a collection of tribes, rooted in the middle ages, and certainly not a prime candidate for nation-building.

Still, something doesn’t sit right. Even with Al-Qaeda taken care of over there, what’s to say they wouldn’t re-emerge – and quickly? A deal and/or pull-out would likely inspire Islamic terrorist forces around the globe. And just how much could you expect a “legitimised” Taliban to keep up their end of any bargain?

The Australian parliament is set to debate the Afghanistan War this Tuesday. Yet with the major government power-broker, Greens’ leader Bob Brown, not even having been there, it seems folly to have this debate just now even if both, generally speaking, the ALP and Liberals are committed to the war.

You’d think the best course of action would be to head the advice of the generals on the ground. Bob Brown flies in the face of this, however.

“We have to take what our army commanders are saying into account here but then I have letters from relatives of troops who are in Afghanistan or going to Afghanistan who do not want their loved ones sent to what they see as a hopeless war,” he told ABC Television.

A US debate over what step to take next is scheduled for December.

Faced with a White House war review due in December and decreasing public support for the war back home, the U.S. military is not in a position to hold back. The current phase of operations is geared to make a statement: drive the fight as aggressively as possible and rout the Taliban in their own backyard. Looking forward, commanders posit that improved civilian freedom of movement and a stronger government presence will be reliable gauges of progress. But it remains to be seen just what metrics will be enough to convince the Obama Administration that serious money and manpower should be poured into a conflict now entering its 10th year.

Whatever the powers-that-be decide, now is a good time for Western forces to strike hard while the iron is hot. One reason is purely military in nature: the Taliban is at its knees. The other reason is purely political in nature: Obama and other Western politicians appear to be at their knees.

A deal with the Taliban?

Picture source: Taliban feud over murder of Polish hostage

UPDATE

More defeatist talk.

Who else won’t miss them?


Occaisionally, it’s beneficial to add a feel-good story to the usual blog repertoire. And this one certainly fit’s the bill.

THE NATO coalition assault on Taliban insurgency chiefs has led to low-level fighters taking on the US and Afghanistan is now at a watershed as the war enters its 10th year today.

The best Taliban commanders are dead or captured. Their men are harried and subject to constant attack and betrayal. They are under-equipped, overwhelmed and demoralised. In a word, the Taliban are losing.

In Britain and the US there may be doubt and confusion over the future of the Afghan war, but in southern Afghanistan the description of the Taliban insurgency by senior figures at the forefront of the fighting is bold and unequivocal.

The troop surge is working, they say. The Taliban is at breaking point and an Iraq-style watershed, when momentum is shifting in a favour of the NATO coalition, may be nigh. It amounts to a ray of hope for NATO aims as the war begins its 10th year today.

“The Taliban are getting an absolute arse-kicking.”

It’s not really all that surprising, though. The surge worked in Iraq and that nation is well on the way to freedom and prosperity, and it looks like it’s working in Afghanistan.

Good and good riddance.

Taliban wants peace


Would it be too cynical to call BS on this one?

THE supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has indicated he and his followers may be willing to hold peace talks with Western politicians.

They’re ready to lay down their arms, experiment with freedom? Was bing being too harsh?

They said he was prepared to engage in “sincere and honest” talks.

Progress at last?

At a meeting held at night deep inside Taliban-controlled territory, the Taliban leaders said that their military campaign had only three objectives: the return of sharia (Islamic law), the expulsion of foreigners and the restoration of security.

Oh, is that all? We should have peace by lunch.


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