27
May
09

Related Newswires Articles on Afghanistan from TIME

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Related Newswires Articles on Afghanistan from TIME:

Losing Hearts and Minds and Lives in Afghanistan
from TIME.com | By Jason Motlagh / Kabul

Afghanistan is in an uproar following U.S. airstrikes that may have killed more than 100 civilians in the western part of the country. Reports from Farah province said that on Thursday a mob of several hundred protesters chanted anti-American slogans and threw rocks outside at provincial governor’s office before being disbursed by police gunfire. In Kabul, outraged lawmakers called for new laws to clamp down on foreign military operations. Ahead of talks with President Obama in Washington, Afghan President Hamid Karzai bluntly said the deaths were “unjustifiable and unacceptable.”

Details of the attack are still vague. On Monday, free-ranging Taliban militants reportedly came upon an Afghan police checkpoint and killed three officers. When Afghan Army units arrived to back them up, they encountered stiff resistance and called in U.S. air support. The International Committee of the Red Cross has confirmed that “dozens” died in the ensuing bombardment, including women and children. Afghan officials alternately say between 100 and 150 people died in their homes, where miltants were using them as human shields. A team of U.S. and Afghan investigators is now examining the scene. See pictures from recent fighting in Afghanistan’s dangerous Korengal Valley.)

Some of the victims have already been buried in accord with Islamic custom, Belquis Roshan, a woman on Farah’s provincial council, told TIME by telephone. But if the higher total is confirmed, it would amount to the deadliest single attack on civilians since the American-led invasion that ousted the Taliban in 2001. Worse, it’s part of a growing pattern. According to U.N. figures, 2,118 civilians were killed in conflict-related violence last year, a jump of nearly 40% compared to the year before. Of that figure, pro-government forces were responsible for 828 deaths. (See how Afghanistan’s travails have been interpreted by local artists.)

How Afghanistan’s Little Tragedies Are Adding Up
from TIME.com | By Jason Motlagh / Herat

There are large-scale civilian deaths in Afghanistan that make headlines, and then there are the small incidents that are barely noticed at all. That was the fate of 12-year-old Benafsha Shaheem.

On May 3, she was traveling with family members from her village in western Farah province to a wedding party in the neighboring province of Herat. Packed into a white Toyota Corolla wagon, they neared the outskirts of the city of Herat when, according to a report compiled by the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, the vehicle was fired on by an Italian patrol convoy. Benafsha was seated in the middle of the backseat wearing a red dress, her relatives say. She was shot in the face and died instantly. Her mother was wounded in the chest. (See pictures of U.S. troops operating in Afghanistan’s deadly Korengal Valley.)

Italian security forces based in Herat province said the vehicle was repeatedly warned to stop before it was fired on. Benafsha’s uncle, Ahmad Wali, who was driving, says traffic was moving in both directions but that rain made visibility poor. Suddenly, he recalls, sparks flew in front as armored vehicles came into view. Glass was sprayed into his face.

The CIA’s Silent War in Pakistan
from TIME.com | By Bobby Ghosh and Mark Thompson/Washington

The wilds of Waziristan, the tribal belt along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, make an unlikely showcase for the future of warfare. This is a land stuck in the past: there are few roads, electricity is scarce, and entire communities of ethnic Pashtun tribesmen live as they have for millenniums. And yet it is over this medieval landscape that the U.S. has deployed some of the most sophisticated killing machines ever created, against an enemy that has survived or evaded all other weaponry. If al-Qaeda and the Taliban could not be eliminated by tanks, gunships and missiles, then perhaps they can be stamped out by CIA-operated unmanned drone aircraft, the Predator and the Reaper. (See a diagram of a Reaper here.)

That was the bet President George W. Bush placed during his final months in office, when the CIA greatly increased drone sorties and strikes in Pakistan. The accelerated attacks have been stepped up under President Barack Obama. Nowadays, the low hum of the drones has become a familiar sound in Waziristan, where tribesmen call them machay, or red bees. Their lethal sting has been felt in villages and hamlets across the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA). The main objectives of the campaign: to take out al-Qaeda’s top tier of leadership, including Osama bin Laden, and deny sanctuary in FATA for the Taliban and those fighters who routinely slip across the border to attack U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Combining high-tech video surveillance with the ability to deliver deadly fire, drones allow joystick-wielding operators on the far side of the world–Creech Air Force Base, near Las Vegas–to track moving targets in real time and destroy them. All this, without spilling American blood and for a small fraction of the cost of conventional battle.

Afghanistan: Can the U.S. Win This War?
from TIME.com | Aryn Baker / Loi Kolay

The soldiers crept into the village of Loi Kolay under the light of a crescent moon, slipping into defensive positions around a darkened house, gun sights trained on the rocky cliffs above. Four sharp knocks on the wooden door echoed through the silent valley. “Niazamuddin, we know you are in there!” the interpreter shouted. After a few tense moments, the tribal elder appeared. For months the village leaders of the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan’s northeastern province of Kunar had complained about the U.S. and Afghan armies’ searching of houses, a practice that went against tribal custom. Niazamuddin had suggested that he go along on the next search to help soften the impact. The U.S. soldiers were about to take him up on his offer.

Nobody was sure where Niazamuddin’s loyalties lay. The local Afghan army commander was sure he was Taliban, though the U.S. commander wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. If Niazamuddin was willing to lead a search, that would provide an example of solid leadership in a town riven by extremist sympathies. But Niazamuddin had gone back on his offer. If members of the Taliban found out he had led the Americans to suspicious houses, he said, they would kill him. The operation’s leader, 1st Lieut. Glenn Burkey, exploded with frustration. U.S. forces had taken gunfire from the village several times, and previous house searches had turned up weapons, explosives and even a Taliban flag. Yet repeated raids risked alienating residents further. Burkey needed the elder’s help. “You told us we had to do things differently,” he said to Niazamuddin. “We are trying. I want the U.S. and Afghan forces to work together with the villagers to make this place safe.” Niazamuddin was silent. “You remember Qadir?” he finally asked, naming his predecessor. “I don’t know if he helped the U.S. or not, but the Taliban thought he did. They shot him coming out of the mosque.” Then they beheaded his corpse in the public square. (See pictures of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.)

Accompanying Video:

Sustainable Security: A New Afghanistan Approach

Merely reacting to global crises is a costly strategy in terms of both human lives and direct financial costs. In order to get out ahead and prepare itself to face the challenges of the 21st century, the United States should:

1. Fully integrate prevention into the national strategies that guide foreign policy formulation and implementation.

2. Build an integrated, interagency mechanism for long-range strategic planning that is tied directly to the allocation of resources.

3. Organize the government to support prevention and ensure coherence across the executive branch.

4. Invest intelligence, diplomatic, and economic resources in the most vulnerable areas and regions.

5. Re-engage with the international community, and improve and then support international treaties and norms.

6. Develop new tools and capabilities for crisis management.

7. Address the resource and staff shortages of civilian agencies, particularly the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development.

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