TALIBAN PROPAGANDA WATCH: Canada Accused of AFG Prison Abuses

Although I haven’t found the new, improved location of the Taliban’s main web pages since they crashed/disappeared over the weekend, a lot of sites are out there happy to share the Taliban’s message.

One of them shared this “Open Letter of the Miserable and Oppressed Prisoners of Afghanistan sent to this Web site for publication” (PDF of letter at non-terrorist site here).

Canada is one of eleven countries listed (including a mysterious “Sheck”) as having “their own prisons where they  have been giving torture to detainees continuously.”

The letter says the Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) system is “a parallel government in Afghanistan” where “The governor, police chief and other Heads of departments are names without power and authority.”

In addition to highlighting a range of alleged abuses, the letter links back to the bad old Soviet days:

People condemn the communist rulers of the reign of the former Soviet Union  invasion of Afghanistan for bulldozing prisoners underground at the polygon area but the current democrat rulers did the same carnage in But Khak and Arzan Qimat area of Kabul. However, the media is tight-lipped because this is democracy!

In addition to calling for better prison conditions, the right for prisoners to “strike” for better conditions, and an end to alleged torture, the letter writer(s) seek an end to “private” prisons:

Private prisons have no justification to exist. All such prisons should be closed and the perpetrators brought to book. For example, the prisons run by warlords, commanders, prisons in far-flung areas should be closed so that the unscrupulous commanders and rulers would not be able to administer punishment to prisoners as per their discretion.

I can’t say for certain this was generated by the Taliban, but it is  on a site happy to share previous Taliban statements.  The opening statement (“In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Compassionate”) is also an honourific seen in other jihadi statements.

Is it Tailban propaganda?  Maybe not.

Is it something the Taliban is happy to have out there?  More than likely.

Why?  Maybe they’ve been reading the Canadian papers and hope to piggyback a bit?

More Tea Leaves About the Mission

A bit more fine-tuning to my last wild-ass guess regarding Canada’s mission in Afghanistan post-2011, thanks to this statement by Defence Minister Peter MacKay, via CBC.ca:

“The government, however, is considering many options for continuing to help the Afghan population — including security, which would undoubtedly involve an unspecified number of soldiers, said Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

“It involves securing, but working to develop the countryside, working to invest in infrastructure,” said MacKay.

“Working to help build capacity, immunizing children, educating children, building democratic institutions — all of which Canada is involved in now.”

Much of that development, medical aid and reconstruction work falls to Canada’s provincial reconstruction team, or PRT, based in Kandahar.

When specifically asked Tuesday whether Canada’s PRT would remain in the volatile region, MacKay would not rule it out.

“We’re considering a number of options,” MacKay said after being questioned by reporters about the PRT.”

(Canadian Press version here.)

Let’s see, now. If Canada wants to follow the letter of the 18 Mar 08 motion passed in the House of Commons, there cannot be any Canadian troops left in Kandahar by the end of 2011, so if the PRT stays, it can’t be with Canadian soldiers.

If Canada wants to keep some troops securing development or aid projects, and still follow the March 2008 motion, then those troops will have to be stationed outside Kandahar province.

Also, someone better get started on extending this program if Canada expects any kind of help from Afghans who would be at risk for helping.

More, as it comes in…

Lew MacKenzie on Canada’s Future in Afghanistan

In today’s Globe & Mail, retired General Lewis MacKenzie says Canada’s going to continue having a military presence in Afghanistan after 2011:

“As far as Canada’s abandoning Afghanistan in 2011, even without reading between the lines, you can bet this won’t happen. Afghanistan is the largest recipient of our foreign aid, with a number of signature projects that will continue. An ever-growing civilian presence assisting with governance and other aspects of nation-building also will continue.”

The Torch and BruceR at Flit follow-up with great analysis, and Army.ca participants are in a good back-and-forth on what Canada’s presence will look like down the road.

My two cents?  I’m with BruceR on the checklist that has to be applied regarding any post-2011 commitment:

–Is it sustainable for several more years? (Our current infantry commitment is, apparently, not.)
–Is it effective? (Relative to other nations, can we do as good at the job, or better?)
–Will it have domestic support for an ongoing, multi-year commitment? (Anything defined as “combat” likely will not.)

I’m going to mull this a bit for a future post, but I thought you’d want to see this.