Posts Tagged ‘Hamid Karzai’
In the past, I’ve called CIVIC, a group working on reducing civilian casualties in war, out on its emphasis on ISAF/NATO’s mistakes while seeming to ignore the Taliban’s way-higher rate of killing civilians.
In a subsequent e-mail, the head of CIVIC clarified their position:
The Taliban’s acts of suicide bombings, IEDs and deliberately hiding out in civilian homes are egregious, and every human rights organization I know (including ours) has called for these practices to stop.
Now, CIVIC executive director Sarah Holewinski went into more detail in posting at the Foreign Policy’s AFPAK Channel blog, calling President Hamid Karzai on his selective outrage over civilian casualties:
…. Karzai’s refusal to condemn Afghans for killing other Afghans highlights his shortcomings as a head of state. His public excuse for overlooking insurgent atrocities is that the Afghan people expect attacks from the Taliban. This may be true, but can he genuinely believe an Afghan mother’s loss is somehow less tragic if the Taliban pulled the trigger? Or that she feels comforted to know that it was expected? …. When being sworn in for his second term, Karzai pledged “…to learn from the mistakes and shortcomings of the past eight years. It is through this self-evaluation that we can better respond to the aspirations and expectations of our people.” Two years later, Karzai is practicing more self-protection than self-evaluation. His failure to provide Afghan forces what they need to protect Afghans and to speak out about Taliban behavior may help him walk a political tightrope, but it places him firmly on the wrong side of history.
More on the latest ratios of bad-guy- vs. good-guy-caused civilian casualties (4:1 for the bad guys) here (via Army.ca).
- Canada’s Defence Minister drops by Malta to congratulate the troops. “…. “The Maltese government has been very helpful in assisting our evacuation efforts from Libya,” said Minister MacKay. “Without their support, this challenging operation would have been even more difficult. Canada’s bilateral relations with Malta have never been better.” “The short-notice deployment of Canadian Forces personnel and assets to the Mediterranean is another example of our ability and willingness to help those in need,” said General Walt Natynczyk, Chief of the Defence Staff. “HMCS Charlottetown’s presence in the Mediterranean Sea provides the Government of Canada with the means to react rapidly should any new crises unfold in the region. We are proud of our troops and the support of their families.” ….”
- There’s more from the CF information machine on how the evacuation of Canadians has been going. “Over 10 days of evacuation operations, the CC-130J Hercules tactical transports and CC-177 Globemaster strategic airlifters of Joint Task Force Malta have rescued 61 Canadians and 130 citizens of other nations from the turmoil in Libya. Deployed under Operation MOBILE, JTF Malta is the Canadian Forces contribution to a whole-of-government effort led by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). At time of writing, the task force had 61 personnel (aircrews, medical staff, military police, liaison officers and air movements personnel) based at the Excelsior Hotel in Valletta, and two Hercules aircraft operating from Malta International Airport ….”
- Here’s one way NATO troops are handing security responsiblity over to Afghans. “The Canadian military is warming to the controversial idea of arming local villagers in the Kandahar district of Panjwaii, a tactic credited with stemming violence during the Iraq war but criticized over concerns of insurgent infiltration. The Afghan Local Police program, launched by President Hamid Karzai last August, is an initiative where village-level fighting forces are given guns and undergo a training course to provide security to their communities. It’s a gamble that NATO military commanders hope encourages locals to fight back against the Taliban, much like some Iraqi villagers did when they rose up against al-Qaida during the Sunni Awakening. Canada’s top soldier in Afghanistan said the ALP could soon be set up in the Horn of Panjwaii, the western belt of the district traditionally used as a springboard for insurgent attacks in the provincial capital of Kandahar city. “We’re trying to invigorate it out in the Horn,” Brig.-Gen. Dean Milner said in a recent interview ….” Here’s one view about why the ALP may not be the best idea.
- More from the CF information machine on what’s up in Afghanistan on the road to Mushan and in training Afghan troops about the beans and bullets.
- Karzai issues his strongest statement yet to NATO: “An emotional Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday told international troops to “stop their operations in our land”, his strongest remarks yet over mistaken killings of civilians. Karzai’s comments came after a week in which a relative of his was killed in a raid by foreign forces and he rejected an apology by the US commander of troops General David Petraeus for the deaths of nine children in a NATO strike. “I would like to ask NATO and the US with honour and humbleness and not with arrogance to stop their operations in our land,” Karzai said in Pashto as he visited the dead children’s relatives in Kunar province, eastern Afghanistan. “We are very tolerant people but now our tolerance has run out.” In an apparent reference to neighbouring Pakistan, where insurgents have hideouts in lawless border regions, Western-backed Karzai said international forces “should go and fight this war where we have showed them (it is)”. “This war is not in our land,” Karzai added ….” How many minutes do you think Karzai would last if NATO just walked away? Maybe worth considering?
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Attacks alleged in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul.
- F-35 Tug o’ War (1) – Government bashes Parliamentary Budget Officer estimate of how much the program’ll cost. “…. Kevin Page’s contention that the F-35 Lightning II will cost taxpayers $22 billion over 20 years — or nearly $30 billion over 30 years — was dismissed as “speculative” and “illogical” by the country’s junior defence minister. “There are areas in that report that we just simply disagree with,” said Laurie Hawn. There are flaws in the report’s methodology, he said. “It’s accurate based on the assumptions he made. The assumptions he made were speculation.” ….”
- F-35 Tug o’ War (2) – “The Liberals are accusing the Bloc Quebecois of “flip-flopping” on their decision to support the purchase of F-35 fighter jets in the wake of a report by Canada’s budget watchdog that pegs the total cost at billions more than initially thought. “Gilles Duceppe has finally seen the light — I just hope it isn’t too late for Quebec’s aerospace industry,” Liberal industry critic Marc Garneau said. “Liberal MPs have argued all along that the Conservative numbers simply do not add up, which is why they breached Parliament’s privilege and refused to show us detailed cost figures for these stealth fighter jets.” …. Shortly after Page’s report came out, Duceppe said he was shocked and echoed the position of the Liberals that the deal should be cancelled in favour of an open bid process. The Bloc had supported the deal believing it would be good for Quebec’s aerospace industry. On Friday, the Bloc’s Pierre Paquette admitted the party had supported the purchase up until the release of Thursday’s PBO report ….”
- “The Harper government hopes the bruising, emotional debate over the ill-treatment of war veterans will come to an end now that the House of Commons has passed an improved package of benefits for former soldiers. Bill C-55 was given the green light on Friday, with all-party consent, and will now make its way to the Senate. But critics remained skeptical that the “insurance company” mentality of Veterans Affairs Canada staff will simply fade away, despite the injection of $2 billion in new and improved benefits ….” Some of the debate from the House of Commons Friday here and here, and how some wounded warriors feel about what’s proposed here.
- “Between 2007 and 2009, Canadian companies exported about $1.4-billion in arms with the United Kingdom, Australia and Saudi Arabia topping the list of buyers. The sales figures are contained in the latest report from the department of foreign affairs that tracks military sales from year to year. Those figures don’t include sales to the United States, which is by far the largest buyer of arms from Canada. Because of a long-standing agreement between the two countries, Canada doesn’t track sales to the United States the way it does for other countries, so it does not appear on the department’s list ….” Here’s the DFAIT report.
- More on Canadian generals helping train Afghan security forces: “Two senior Canadian generals are to oversee critical multi-billion dollar training programs that NATO hopes will lead to Afghan security forces taking over the lead from alliance forces by the end of 2014. “That is an incredible compliment to Canada,” one of the officers, Maj-Gen. Stu Beare, said in a telephone interview from his police training headquarters in Kabul. Maj-Gen. Beare has run police training for the alliance since last fall. Some time in April or May he is to be joined on the army side of NATO’s training house by Maj.-Gen. Mike Day, who until a few days ago oversaw Canada’s secretive special forces. Maj.-Gen. Day will wear two hats as he will also lead a contingent of as many as 950 Canadian soldiers that Prime Minister Stephen Harper decided last November will continue Ottawa’s military participation in Afghanistan as trainers to assist Afghan forces in the north of the country ….”
- Meanwhile, the boss of NATO’s training effort in Afghanistan says still MORE trainers are needed. “More nations are pledging support, yet NATO still faces a shortage of 740 trainers needed to get Afghan soldiers and policemen ready to take the lead in securing their nation, the coalition’s top training official says. Needed most are 290 police trainers, including those to work in new training centers opening in Afghanistan this year, U.S. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, the commander of NATO’s training mission, told The Associated Press in an interview Saturday. Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants his nation’s police and army to take the lead in protecting and defending their homeland by 2014, a deadline that will be reached only if the training effort — already on a fast track — gets even more support from NATO and other nations. Caldwell said the coalition wants to have the additional 740 trainers in place by this summer ….”
- If you believe the paper trail mentioned here (love to see some of those documents posted publicly with the articles), two years of bureaucratic and political energy were consumed on this? “Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been locked in a lengthy tug of war with his defence minister over the future of the military’s VIP Airbus, newly disclosed documents show. Peter MacKay has repeatedly rejected requests from the prime minister’s staff to have the Airbus painted a civilian white and red instead of its current military grey. MacKay and senior officers argue that the white colour scheme would be too visible whenever the passenger jet is sent on troop and cargo missions to risky locales, as happens now when the aircraft is not needed by the prime minister or the Governor General. Senior government officials say no final decision has been made. But internal emails indicate the Privy Council Office — Harper’s own department — in fact ordered the military last September to arrange for the new paint job at the next scheduled maintenance. Documents outlining the two-year tussle over the VIP plane were obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban claims responsibility for more attacks in Kandahar City.
- So, what’s with the mysterious Russian helicopters Canada is reportedly buying, according to the Ottawa Citizen, for “combat missions in Afghanistan”? Could it be another version of offering support to the military fight in a civilianized way, like we’re apparently doing with civilian spy planes?
- Counterinsurgency as oncology – one Canadian general’s assessment of the fight in Afghanistan: “A Canadian two-star general brought in to provide an independent assessment of the state of the war in southern Afghanistan for NATO’s new commander here says the Taliban is being dealt with as if it is a malignancy. “It is a cancer and the cancer is being treated,” said Maj.-Gen. Dave Fraser, who commanded Canadian and coalition forces in Regional Command South during 2006. “Even if this cancer goes into remission — and that is a ways down the road here — you have to make sure it is not hiding somewhere and comes back. “Once you are in that permanent watch category, as someone who has had cancer, people look out for you to make sure it doesn’t come back. We must never assume that this cancer is gone.” “
- Meanwhile, “the tumour” lies speaks to southern tribal elders, who speak to the Canadian Press: “The district governor in Panjwaii says he’s been warned the Taliban intend to continue fighting throughout the winter months and not give NATO forces any rest. Haji Baran, the Noorzai tribal elder who has been the face of the Afghan government in the restive district for three years, says he received the news from contacts in Pakistan. His tribe has a deep, long-standing ties to the insurgency that normally chooses to fight between May and late October. Baran urged Canadian military commanders to be vigilant in the coming weeks. “The fall of Panjwaii is the fall of Kandahar,” he said Sunday, repeating a well-worn line of many in the rural part of the province. “So we have to be careful with that.” …”
- Remember all the video games the CF is buying? It appears they’re headed downrange to the troops in Afghanistan: “…. Defence officials confirm that 500 copies of games such as “Gears of War,” “Call of Duty,” “Mortal Kombat,” and “Assassins Creed” are destined for Canada’s forward operating bases in the war-ravaged country. An estimated 500 to 600 soldiers are stationed at Ma’sum Ghar and Sperwan Ghar, Canada’s main bases outside Kandahar, which works out to a video game for almost every gamer-in-uniform. “It helps in keeping good morale … to bring some relief to people working long hours,” Cmdr. Hubert Genest said in an interview ….”
- On the political front, NDP leader Jack Layton accuses the PM (and the Liberal leader a little bit) of “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire”: “The Conservative can’t be trusted to end the Afghan training mission in 2014, NDP Leader Jack Layton charged Sunday. “I remember when he said 2011 was the absolute limit, the end of the military mission, we are out of there,” Layton told CTV’s Question Period. “And now they are saying 2014. I don’t think anybody believes them.” In 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked Parliament to extend the military mission in Afghanistan until 2008. In 2008, he asked MPs to approve extending the mission until 2011. Layton warned at that time the government couldn’t be trusted to end the mission in 2011. Now, the NDP leader says 2014 is an arbitrary deadline that is unlikely to be met because of unpredictable conditions on the ground ….”
- CBC’s Brian Stewart reminds us that Canadian troops training Afghan security forces “inside the wire” doesn’t mean zero risk: “…. To almost every question so far, the prime minister and his team have repeated the mantra that this will be “a non-combat mission” only, suggesting maximum safety. But keep in mind that the Taliban will also have an important say in this …. Rockets and mortars regularly rain down on training camps and Taliban units have grown increasingly bold in striking at highly protected NATO camps and headquarters …. nowhere in Afghanistan can now be assumed to be beyond attack. Even the heavily guarded diplomatic corps of Kabul has been hit this year and is always braced for a possible suicide offensive ….” Also, let’s not forget instances where NATO trainers have been killed by their Afghan security force trainees (examples here, here and here).
- A senior Afghan officer, speaking to QMI/Sun Media’s Mercedes Stephenson, sums it up pretty succinctly when it comes to what will happen when we leave Afghanistan completely: ” “Please,” he implored, “go home and explain to your people what will happen if they leave us alone here with these terrorists. Everything we have worked for will be gone. They will kill us all. “We need Canada to stay.” “
- Blog Watch: Terry Glavin over at Chronicles & Dissent offers an interesting theory regarding why more Canadians are not supporting a Canadian mission in Afghanistan: “…. The best explanation I know about is revealed in an ambitious 20-country opinion poll conducted under the auspices of the University of Maryland’s World Public Opinion initiative, which shows global opinion similarly split, with the following insight: “Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to leave, 76 percent say that NATO forces should leave. Among those who believe that the Afghan people want NATO forces to stay, 83 percent say NATO forces should stay.” I don’t have any polling data to prove it, but I would bet a dollar to a dime that most Canadians believe the lie that most Afghans want NATO forces to leave their country. The primary function of Canada’s so-called “anti-war” activists is to make you to believe that lie, and Canada’s punditocracy has encouraged you to believe it. I would also bet a dollar to a dime that if most Canadians knew the truth, which is that the overwhelming majority of Afghans have consistently supported and continue to support NATO’s efforts in their country, Canadian support for a robust Afghan mission would be overwhelmingly favorable …. And then we could move the Canadian debates out of the weeds, to questions that really matter ….”
- While Canada and others are saying aid shouldn’t be flowed through the hands of Afghanistan’s, um, “fiscally leaky” government, an Afghan human rights group says doing anything different will cut into the government’s legitimacy. “The chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission says that if the Hamid Karzai government doesn’t receive foreign aid from Canada and other countries, it will never achieve legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people. Dr. Sima Samar (said) “After all, (Karzai) is elected president …. We want him to complete his term, so we have to find ways to help him and to put him in the right direction.”….” Same same from an international development professor, via the Ottawa Citizen: “…. Because the donors plan, implement and control the budgets of the bulk of the programs, without delegating these responsibilities to Afghans, the latter lose the opportunity to learn the trade ….”
- Liberal Senator Colin Kenny, former chair of the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, continues to be underwhelmed about how wounded warriors and their families are treated: “…. The New Veterans Charter was a mistake. All parliamentarians are complicit because the charter was passed unanimously. But that doesn’t relieve the government of its obligation to fix the mistake. The Charter does deal more fairly with some people than did the old Pension Plan, such as war widows (or widowers) and their families and soldiers in the highest ranks. But when you look closely at who comes out ahead, that’s about it. Who’s worse off? Just about everybody else. The biggest losers are privates and corporals (those most often wounded on any battlefield), members of the reserves, wounded vets who manage to live to 65, wounded vets with families and wounded vets who don’t live near case workers ….” Meanwhile, here’s one man’s story after losing his legs on operations in Bosnia, via the Kingston Whig-Standard.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: A quick response to what the NATO bosses decided in Lisbon (links to non-terrorist web site).
- Ceasefire.ca, always against anything military Canada is doing or wants to do (except for “peacekeeping”), has a new online petition against the new mission in Afghanistan: “Tell Stephen Harper, other party leaders, and your own MP that you do not support the proposed training mission for the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan. Send your letter, right away.” The web site allows you to personalize the letter to the government. I wonder how many people would dare personalize it to the point where it says they support the mission? As Yoda might say, quite funny that would be ….
- The PM’s issued a statement following the NATO weekend conference in Lisbon, and (no surprise) Afghanistan came up: “…. Next year will mark the beginning of a new chapter in Afghanistan’s history. Over a transition period, between 2011 and 2014, Afghan forces will assume primary responsibility for the security of their country. As this transition proceeds, Canada will assist the Afghan people build a stronger future. After the combat mission ends next year, this assistance will be in the form of aid, development and military training, centred in Kabul. Leaders also re-iterated their deep respect for the contribution and enormous sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform, our development workers and our diplomats. These brave individuals continue to make Canada proud.”
- He also had something to say to Afghan President Hamid Karzai: “Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday that he must reduce corruption or Canada will “not dispense a dime” directly to his government. Harper said Karzai expressed an expectation at the NATO summit in Lisbon that 50 per cent of the multibillion-dollar aid coming from donor countries go directly to his government instead of through the United Nations and other multilateral programs or non-government aid agencies. “In that case, our answer is very clear,” Harper said at a news conference. “We will not dispense a dime to the government of Afghanistan unless we are convinced that that money will be spent in the way that it’s intended to be spent.” ….” More on that from the Canadian Press here and from QMI/Sun Media here.
- Karzai, meanwhile, is glad to see Canada stay & train: “Canada has been at the forefront of assistance to Afghanistan from the very beginning …. The Afghan people are extremely grateful for the Canadian contribution to the well-being of the Afghan people. Canada’s decision to continue to assist Afghanistan after they have ended their military mission is welcome and . . . we are very grateful for that.”
- NATO’s newest position: “NATO has agreed to hand control of security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.” The Taliban’s response? You should leave sooner, not later (links to statement at Scribd.com): “The real solution of the Afghan issue lies in withdrawal of the foreign forces. Hence the NATO decision to start withdrawal of military forces from Afghanistan in 2014 is an irrational decision because until then, various untoward and tragic events and battles will take place as a result of this meaningless, imposed and unwinning war. The bottom line for them is to immediately implement what they would ultimately have to implement though after colossal casualties. They should not postpone withdrawal of their forces even be it for one day.”
- Back in Canada, according to CBC.ca, even Quebec separatists appear nervous about a group calling itself the Patriotic Militia of Quebec, which is now opening a recruiting office in Montreal. For example: “…. Organizers insist the group is non-violent and say they sometimes show up to help with the response to natural disasters. But founder Serge Provost insists the group needs to be prepared to defend Quebec if it is attacked. “If we want to defend our people, we have no choice but to use the same weapons as our aggressors,” Provost said, adding the group has applied to Quebec provincial police for permission to build a firing range ….” Here’s a link to the group’s web site (Google English translation – since the group doesn’t have an English page – here), and here’s some previous debate/discussion on the group over at Army.ca.
- Coming up soon (or, according to one military expert, it should be): a Canadian space defence policy: “…. the man in charge of space development for the defence department predicts the initial steps of the next major conflict are more than likely to start in orbit and Canada should be prepared. There will “absolutely” be more of a military role for Canada in space than in the past, Col. Andre Dupuis said on Saturday as he discussed the defence department’s plans to overhaul its space defence policy. “The first line in the sand for the next major conflict may very well be in space or cyberspace, but probably not on the ground or in the air or in the seas,” Dupuis said in an interview while attending the annual conference of the Canadian Space Society ….”
- Just a reminder that you don’t need to wear a uniform to make a difference in Afghanistan: “…. This hero read a newspaper article about an injustice at the age of 14 and instead of just fuming silently, she has now spent fully half of her 28 years on this planet battling to improve the peace and security of the world by building literacy and hope in a land where both were almost extinguished by the murderous, medieval Taliban government that came to power in Afghanistan in 1996. Her name is Lauryn Oates and she is one of the founders of the Calgary and Montreal chapters of Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan). The PhD student in language and literacy education, who has been published numerous times on these pages in the Herald, has just returned from her 19th trip to Afghanistan. She tries hard to hide it, but anger flashes in her blue eyes when she talks about the cultural relativism she hears from too many westerners every time she speaks of the grassroots work she is doing in Afghanistan to help train teachers and help women in that troubled land build the civil infrastructure needed to enhance literacy, health care and democracy ….”
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Taliban call on U.S. to come up with withdrawal plan (again).
- Canada’s Governor General is handing out awards this morning to a number of people today to honour them for displaying “gallantry and devotion to duty in combat” and bringing “honour to the Canadian Forces and to Canada.” Congrats to all!
- After getting kicked out of Dubai over an airline landing rights fight, Postmedia News reports the last (Canadian) military flight outta the UAE following “a modest military ceremony.
- The Royal Canadian Legion has announced that the mother of RSM Robert Girouard (killed in Afghanistan in 2006), Mabel Girouard, is this year’s Silver Cross Mother - more on that here from CBC.ca.
- According to the Canadian Press, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon reportedly told the House of Commons during Question Period that Omar Khadr will be coming back to Canada eventually. Here’s the diplomatic note (PDF, courtesy of CBC.ca), which says: “…. The Government of Canada …. wishes to convey that, as requested by the United States, the Government of Canada is inclined to favourably consider Mr. Khadr’s application to be transferred to Canada to serve the remainder of his sentence….” Here’s what Hansard, the official transcript of the House of Commons, says Cannon said: “….the Government of Canada did not participate in the negotiations concerning the sentence. In fact, when asked, the tribunal’s chief prosecutor, Navy Captain John Murphy, said that Canada was not part of the agreement and that the agreement was between the Government of the United States and Khadr’s defence team. Mr. Speaker, the Government of the United States agreed to send Omar Khadr back to Canada, and we will implement the agreement between Mr. Khadr and the Government of the United States.” Smart ass commentary: Is “inclined to favourably consider” the same as “yup, we WILL take him”? Just sayin’…
- Meanwhile , according to an Ipsos-Reid poll carried out for Postmedia News and Global National, “While one half (49%) of Canadians believe that Khadr should serve ‘none’ of his time in Canada, the other half (51%) of Canadians believe he should be able to serve ‘all’ (25%) or at least ‘some’ (26%) of his sentence in Canada ….” More on that from Postmedia News here.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: At least nine claimed killed in Kandahar, Uruzgan and Zabul and Meme o’ the moment – “cowardly”
- Speaking of the Taliban (or, more specifically, speaking about speaking to the Taliban), a spokesperson with the Afghan President’s Office denies recent reports that President Hamid Karzai has been holding “secret” talks with folks from the “al-Qaida linked Haqqani network”.
Have a great day!