Posts Tagged ‘Herat’
- DefMin MacKay in Brussels for NATO Meeting (1) – He’s back from a defence ministers’ meeting with this to say about Libya: “…. “Since the crisis began in Libya, Canada has been actively engaged in responding to requests for evacuation and for humanitarian assistance,” said Minister MacKay. “Canada has also emphasized the importance of NATO planning, so the Alliance can stand ready to respond to humanitarian crises as required.” Minister MacKay informed Canada’s allies that Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Charlottetown is joining the NATO Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR, patrolling the Mediterranean Sea in response to the crisis in Libya. The ships of NATO and other like-minded nations will be monitoring shipping and providing a maritime presence during this time of ongoing instability in North Africa. “Canada is standing with our allies to monitor the current situation in North Africa and will keep working with our allies as the situation continues to develop,” said Minister MacKay. “The versatility of HMCS Charlottetown and her crew allows Canada to be ready at a moment’s notice to carry out humanitarian missions and whatever mandate the international community calls for.” ….”
- NATO’s read of what happens next in & around Libya: “NATO Defence Ministers …. agreed to increase the presence of NATO Maritime assets in the Central Mediterranean using ships from two of NATO’s Standing Maritime Groups. “It has been decided to increase the presence of NATO maritime assets in the Central Mediterranean under the command of Supreme Allied Commander Admiral Stavridis, “said the Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a news conference following the meeting. “These ships will improve NATO’s situational awareness which is vital in the current circumstances and they will contribute to our surveillance and monitoring capability, including with regard to the arms embargo established by the UN Security Council Resolution 1970”. Admiral Stavridis will determine the number of ships required to provide this enhanced presence and it is expected that these ships, drawn from the Standing NATO Maritime Group and the Standing Mine Countermeasures Group, will begin moving to the region in the very near term. Defence Ministers also agreed to have more detailed planning options for humanitarian assistance and support to the arms embargo. “We have also directed NATO military authorities to develop, as a matter of urgency, detailed planning with regard to humanitarian assistance and , provided there is a further UN Security Council Resolution, more active measures to enforce the arms embargo”, the Secretary General highlighted. The topic of a possible no-fly zone over Libya was also discussed and it was agreed that further planning will be required in case NATO were to receive a clear UN mandate ….”
- DefMin MacKay in Brussels for NATO Meeting (2) – He also did a bit of work with the Americans there as well. “…. While in Brussels, Minister MacKay and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates also took the opportunity to sign a joint Statement of Principles for a Space Situational Awareness Partnership, building on the long history of close defence cooperation between the two countries ….” What are those principles? Here’s what they were when Australia signed on to the partnership in November of last year.
- NATO DefMins on Afghanistan: At the same NATO defence ministers’ meeting, the gang decided on which areas in Afghanistan can be protected by Afghan security forces. Here’s the NATO-speak version: “….Ministers took a crucial step towards the implementation of Transition – the process by which security responsibility for Afghanistan is gradually transferred to Afghan leadership. The recommendation will now be conveyed to the Afghan government to decide on the areas that will initiate transition. Transition will commence only once it has been approved by the Afghan government and announced by President Karzai. They endorsed the recommendations of the Joint Afghan NATO Inteqal (Transition) Board for the first areas to be transitioned to Afghan lead. In doing so, NATO has taken its own decision to move to Phase 4, or the Transition Phase of the operation, in those recommended areas ….” Here’s the easier MSM version: “NATO defence ministers on Friday endorsed a list of the first cities and provinces where Afghan police and soldiers will take control of security — a key element in the West’s exit strategy from the decade-old war. The areas include the provincial capitals of Lashkar Gah, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, as well as all of Bamiyan and Panshir provinces, and Kabul province except for the restive Surobi district. The list was provided by officials and diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue ….”
- GG presents valour, other decorations (anonymously) to Canadian special forces troops for work in Afghanistan.
- Taliban Propaganda Watch: Protest alleged in Kandahar over civilian casualties, and other claimed attacks.
- F-35 Tug o’ War PM visits Ontario high-tech company to highlight jobs coming from F-35 buy (more), and companies in the biz “saluted” PM, saying F-35 is good news.
- Lasers, even the hand-held ones, are not a joke – they CAN damage peoples’ eyes. “A 26-year-old man accused of pointing a green laser at the Winnipeg police whirlybird says he didn’t realize it was dangerous. Sheldon Friesen had just wrapped up a shift as a cook early Thursday and noticed a helicopter circling near his West End street. He said he recently bought a laser pointer with a green beam for 99 cents on eBay and wanted to test it out. “Just to see the distance. You point it up into the sky and see the beam go forever. I don’t know how far forever is, so I see something in the sky that’s worth reflecting, well why not?” he said. Friesen got something of an answer — fast. From about 1,000 feet up in the sky, the police chopper crew quickly zeroed in on a suspect with a laser, while officers on the ground were dispatched to the 200-block of Toronto Street. “There was about three cars in about five minutes. They weren’t really impressed. They were trying to figure out why I did it,” Friesen said. “It was supposed to be for simple entertainment rather than having to cause someone danger like that.” ….” More on this from the Winnipeg Free Press here.
The U.K. Times Online, attributing the story to “Western military officials,” alleges the Italians were paying the Taliban to keep them quiet, and not telling a French unit relieving them of the arrangement, Shortly after the relief, 10 French troops were killed in a major ambush.
Mohammed Ishmayel, a Taleban commander, said that a deal was struck last year so that Italian forces in the Sarobi area, east of Kabul, were not attacked by local insurgents …. Mr Ishmayel said that under the deal it was agreed that “neither side should attack one another. That is why we were informed at that time, that we should not attack the Nato troops.” The insurgents were not informed when the Italian forces left the area and assumed they had broken the deal. Afghan officials also said they were aware of the practice by Italian forces in other areas of Afghanistan.
Now, buried in this story from Agence France-Presse, a “Western military source” says Canada (among others) have been doing the same thing:
…. according to a number of Western and Afghan officers, all speaking on condition of anonymity, the politically sensitive practice is fairly widespread amongin Afghanistan.
One Western military source told of payments made by Canadian soldiers stationed in the violent southern province of Kandahar, while another officer spoke of similar practices by the German army in northern Kunduz.
“I can tell you that lots of countries under the NATO umbrella operating out in rural parts of Afghanistan do pay the militants for not attacking them,” the senior Afghan official said.
He added that it “seems to be the practice with military forces from some NATO countries, excluding the US forces under NATO, the British forces and the whole coalition forces” under the US-led “Operation Enduring Freedom“.
“I think more than 50 percent of NATO forces deployed in rural Afghanistan have such deals or at least have struck such deals” to ensure peace, the official said.
He said he did not want to say precisely how many but one Western officer said: “As it’s not very positive and not officially recognised, it’s never spoken about openly. It’s a bit shameful.
“Consequently, it’s sometimes not communicated properly between the old unit and the new unit that comes in to relieve them,” which may have happened between the Italians and the French.
A spokesperson with Canada’s Expeditionary Forces Command (CEFCOM) denies such payments, bringing up a good point:
“I haven’t heard of any type of payment that would be done by our troops in order to remain protected,” said Lt.-Col. Chris Lemay, a spokesperson with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces Command. “With the number of casualties we’ve been getting, had we paid these guys they wouldn’t be holding up their end of their bargain.”
The best summary of why the “bribe the tribes” approach can’t work in the long run in Afghanistan (compared to how it seemed to work in Iraq) comes from Nathan Hodge over at Wired.com’s Danger Room blog:
…. the biggest flaw in the “bribe the Taliban” argument: What happens when you stop paying?
Once again, the Iraq example is instructive. Responsibility for paying Sunni tribal militias, referred to by the U.S. military as the Sons of Iraq (SoI), was handed over to the government of Iraq, and a certain number of SoI were eventually supposed to be absorbed into Iraq’s security forces. But not all has gone to plan: Earlier this year, fighting erupted in Baghdad after the arrest of Adel Mashadani, a Sunni militia leader and key figure in the “Awakening” movement. As the central government moved to disarm and disband Awakening councils, it prompted concern about a renewed violence in Iraq as U.S. troops packed up for withdrawal.
And Afghanistan presents a much more difficult case. Iraq’s central government can count on a decent stream of revenue; Afghanistan’s government is pretty much broke. Bribery may work to a point, but it seems highly unlikely that Kabul could keep its internal opponents on the payroll when its operating budget is largely drawn from foreign aid and it can barely cover the cost of maintaining its army and police.
Makes sense to me.
Update (1): This, from the Canadian Press:
Task Force Kandahar spokesperson Maj. Mario Couture says an Agence France-Presse report that alleges Canadian soldiers tried to buy off insurgents is “totally baseless” …. Couture says Canadian soldiers do pay out sums to Afghans who agree to hand in their weapons, while offering others paid work to encourage them to turn their backs on the Taliban …. Defence Minister Peter MacKay, speaking in St. John’s, said it was the first he was hearing of the report and described it as likely “Taliban propaganda.”
UPDATE (2): So, could the story be Taliban propaganda?
I guess this means Afghanistan’s Talibs “respect” the disabled as much as they “respect” women?