Category Archives: Afghanistan

‘Prince’ Harry witnessed unprovoked murder of Afghan goatherds by US forces

Amongst this PR piece for the Ginger Prince, is an interesting account of the random murder of some Afghan goatherds by US forces in Afghanistan

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362684/The-bloody-day-Harry-witness-horrific-war-crime-Prince-just-220yds-away-US-special-forces-troops-fired-machine-gun-Afghan-goat-herders.html

Prince Harry was no more than 220 yards away when a US trooper standing aboard an armoured vehicle cocked a .50 calibre machine gun and fired successive bursts at Afghan shepherds tending their goats, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

The shocking incident, which was confirmed last night by the Ministry of Defence, triggered a war crimes investigation by US military police.
It took place on Harry’s first frontline tour of Afghanistan, which, until today, has been shrouded in secrecy.

At the time Harry’s squadron from the Household Cavalry Regiment (HCR) were mounting joint patrols in Helmand province with a US Special Forces unit codenamed ‘Task Force 32’.
According to a British eye- witness the three shepherds were peacefully minding their own business when they were engaged.
Given the force of the heavy machine gun rounds it is likely they suffered serious or fatal injuries, though their bodies were never recovered.

Harry’s colleague Sergeant Deane Smith, 40, was so enraged that he recorded his reaction on a video camera, saying: ‘The Americans are fifty-caling [machine-gunning] goat herders and it’s disgraceful!’

Sgt Smith then zoomed in on the armoured vehicle from where the US trooper had launched his attack.
Sgt Smith, a commando engineer, has given the first graphic account of Harry’s front-line experiences and how the Prince dodged repeated Taliban ambushes.
Harry’s first tour ended in February 2008 after an Australian magazine broke a media embargo over his presence in the war zone.
Subsequent reports suggested Harry was treated as a VIP rather than just another junior officer while he was there. In fact, as this newspaper has established, he was pitched into the thick of the fighting.

Sgt Smith has told The Mail on Sunday how the day before Task Force 32 opened fire on the shepherds, Harry witnessed the deaths of young children when a Taliban rocket intended to strike his vehicle missed its target and struck an Afghan family home.

Sgt Smith also described how Harry, then just 23, displayed a remarkable empathy for his soldiers, some of whom were overwhelmed by the horrors of war.
He said: ‘I’ll never forget the Yank opening up on the shepherds, which was a completely unjustified attack and sadly typical of how the campaign was conducted. But Harry had a way of reconciling everything he saw and keeping his emotions in check, often when more experienced soldiers were crying their eyes out.
‘On the day of the rocket attack on the family home, Harry was there, comforting a soldier as the charred remains of young children were removed.
‘He also arranged for the wounded to be transferred from the battlefield to a military hospital.
‘The dead were very young, their arms the width of two of my fingers. This was horrible to see.

‘In early 2008, I spent ten weeks in Helmand with Harry and he was fearless throughout, even when armoured cars were being blown up and he was being shot at.
‘Looking back, I can’t believe he was so keen to subject himself to such danger.’
Sgt Smith added that Harry’s disregard for his safety unsettled his soldiers, who would implore him to swap his favourite baseball cap for a protective helmet whenever enemy rounds were fizzing overhead.

Harry also came within a single stride of setting off a live IED (improvised explosive device), a brush with death he laughed off as he lit another from an endless chain of cigarettes.
Harry was apparently critical of British tactics and complained when his armoured column were ordered to retreat – at the time UK and US forces were involved in Operation Snakebite, the battle to recapture the town of Musa Qala in Helmand province from the Taliban.

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BBC correspondent in Afghanistan admits pro-army bias ‘Embedded in Iraq: ‘a tool in the military tool box, willingly or not’

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/blogcollegeofjournalism/posts/Embedded-in-Iraq-a-tool-in-the-military-tool-box-willingly-or-not?postId=116764291#comment_116764291

Caroline Wyatt has covered the conflicts in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq for the BBC. In the first instalment of a two-part blog to mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq invasion, she describes the nature of the relationship between the media and the military in 2003 and what that meant for embedded journalists:

Caroline Wyatt reporting from Iraq
It is hard to believe that 10 years have passed since we stood nervously by our vehicles on the Iraq border with Kuwait, scarves over our faces to protect us from the vicious sandstorm that whipped up in the region that long March day, waiting for our war to start.

For the dozens of journalists ‘embedded’ with British forces as they drove into Iraq that day, the war was threatening a rather belated beginning.

A Kuwaiti border guard was insisting that, even if we were part of a higgledy-piggledy column of British military and civilian vehicles, driving through long after the initial US tanks and Humvees, we didn’t have the right stamps in our passports to invade Iraq.

Thankfully, after much shouting and gesticulating through mouthfuls of sand, someone in British uniform persuaded the border guard that he really should let us through. We had a war to cover and it wasn’t going to wait for us.

It was almost worthy of Evelyn Waugh’s comic yet brilliantly accurate novel of war corresponding, Scoop. For a journalist, conflict provides some of the most vivid and powerful stories of humanity; of individual or collective acts of great courage; of good versus evil. But just as often we end up covering stories in shades less identifiable – where it can be hard to tell friend from foe, victory from stalemate, or when tragedy and comedy sit perilously close, and information is hard to come by – as it was in the early days of Iraq, a war that was, and remains, deeply controversial in the UK and elsewhere.

We often talk about the media and the military. But really there are no such things. I prefer to think of us first as individuals, and then as tribes, rather than homogenous blocks: the broadcasting tribe and the newspaper tribe within the media and the Army tribe and all its sub-units, and the RAF and Royal Navy and Royal Marine tribes that make up the military.

Just as any of those tribes can work together, and are part of a collective, each can also come into conflict with the other or within its own sub-tribes at any moment, and loyalties can be stretched in unexpected ways.

In 2003, we had to sign up to embed as official ‘war correspondents’, sign the Green Book with the MoD/military, and agree that all our copy and images would be screened by our military media minders.

We had to train to protect ourselves from chemical/biological/nuclear warfare with the NBC respirators and rubber suits that the MoD would provide us with that February. And agree to embed for up to a year if necessary – if the war lasted that long.

We agreed, and were issued with our smart blue ‘war correspondent’ armbands. I learned that I would be one of the BBC team embedding with British forces attached to the media ‘hub’, which began in a desert somewhere in Kuwait before we crossed into Iraq.

On day one in the desert, in the heat and the sand, we quickly realised where the power lay – and it wasn’t with us. We knew that as embedded journalists our lives were in the forces’ hands. British forces cooked our meals, dug our shelters, gave us information, and controlled where we could go – and that was an uncomfortable position for any journalist to be in.

That first day we were told to put our tents up while wearing our unwieldy and hot NBC kit. It wasn’t necessary, but it did show us that we were not in charge and didn’t make the rules here. We did have our own vehicle but we were told not to use it. So we were also relying on the British forces we were with for access to people and places, as well as information.

It also meant that we had chosen a side to report from, albeit as part of a wider BBC team that also had journalists and crews inside Saddam Hussein’s Baghdad, giving a different perspective and the other side to the war.

And all those embedding, wherever they were, knew that they had become a tool in the military toolbox, willingly or not, which the military and governments on both sides would seek to use to send messages to each other and to the wider watching public around the globe. It was hard not to feel an instinctive sympathy and indeed empathy with the troops looking after us. A benign form of ‘Stockholm syndrome’, if you like.

But at the same time embedding did not mean that we gave up the right to be analytical or indeed critical in the best sense when reporting on what we saw.

People often talk about the fog of war. In and around Basra in spring 2003, the fog and dust of war kept getting in the way. One day we were briefed that 80 Iraqi tanks were seen coming out of Basra. Two hours later it was down to just one or two tanks.

All the media that day – whether us, Sky, ITN or Channel 4 – in the ‘Press Information Unit’ had to go back on air to say, rather sheepishly, that the 80 tanks we’d been briefed about didn’t exist. Had never existed. Well, at least 79 of them hadn’t. And as for the other one – who knows?

We should have talked to Taliban a decade ago, says top British officer in Afghanistan

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/28/talks-taliban-british-officer-afghanistan

The west should have tried talking to the Taliban a decade ago, after they had just been toppled from power, the top British commander in Afghanistan has told the Guardian, barely a week after the latest attempt to bring the insurgent group to the negotiating table stuttered to a halt.

General Nick Carter, deputy commander of the Nato-led coalition, said Afghan forces would need western military and financial support for several years after western combat troops head home in 2014. And he said the Kabul government may have to accept that for some years it would have only shaky control over some remoter parts of the country.

Speaking exclusively to the Guardian, he said: “Back in 2002, the Taliban were on the run. I think that at that stage, if we had been very prescient, we might have spotted that a final political solution to what started in 2001, from our perspective, would have involved getting all Afghans to sit at the table and talk about their future,”

Acknowledging that it was “easy to be wise with the benefit of hindsight”, Carter added: “The problems that we have been encountering over the period since then are essentially political problems, and political problems are only ever solved by people talking to each other.”

But he believed the police and army had been shaped into sustainable institutions that were strong enough to protect a critical presidential election next year, and guarantee stability for the majority of the country after the western withdrawal.

The US and Afghan governments are pushing hard for negotiations to end a conflict that has dragged on for more than 12 years. But critics have long argued that the west could have struck a deal with moderate Taliban leaders after ousting the group from power in 2001, perhaps saving thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

One academic who studies the Taliban said the group tried to reach out to their own and the US governments until 2004, and would have made major compromises. “There would not have been too much negotiating to be done, even, in 2001 or 2002, because the Taliban’s senior leadership made their approaches in a conciliatory manner, acknowledging the new order in the country,” said Alex Strick von Linschoten, author of An Enemy We Created.

Today the insurgent group dominates swaths of the country, and seems ambivalent at best about negotiating ahead of the departure of foreign troops. Underlining how challenging efforts to broker peace talks are, the latest efforts collapsed in diplomatic farce last week.

The Taliban opened an office in Qatar which was meant to be a formal base for meetings and was welcomed by Washington, but the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, shut down the process after Taliban spokesmen presented the villa as a de-facto embassy for a government-in-exile.

Carter said he was confident that Nato’s handover of security to Afghan forces, finalised last week, would eventually bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

“What the opponents of the Afghan government now realise is they are likely to be up against capable Afghan security forces who are going to be here in perpetuity and therefore that old adage that ‘We have the clocks but the Taliban have the time’, has now been reversed,” he said.

“They are now up against security forces who have the time, and they are also Afghan forces … for those reasons I think that there is every chance people will realise that talking is the answer to this problem,” added Carter, who previously served as the top Nato officer in southern Afghanistan, the Taliban’s birthplace.

With a potential political solution far off, 2013 has been a year of heavy violence. Civilian casualties are rising and a string of high-profile attacks have hit Kabul including an assault on the airport and an audacious raid into the heart of the heavily fortified diplomatic and military zone.

These assaults were unlikely to let up before western troops left, as the Taliban tried to position for possible talks, and wage a campaign to claim credit for a the western exit, Carter said, although troops were actually leaving on a timetable set by the Afghan government and Nato in 2010.

“First of all, people like to negotiate from a position of strength, and secondly I think the opponents of Afghanistan would like to appear to compel the international community’s withdrawal,” Carter said. “I don’t think it’s surprising that we are seeing spectacular attacks in Kabul and a continuance of attacks elsewhere.”

The strength of the insurgency meant Kabul would not control all of the country for some years to come, said Carter, who previously described Afghanistan’s likely post-2014 situation as “stable instability”.

“There will be parts of Afghanistan which will not necessarily be as closely linked to central government as others … there will therefore be some local political solutions which won’t in any way threaten central government,” Carter said. “That phenomenon may go on for a while.”

Nato only began the buildup of Afghanistan’s police and army in earnest in 2009, and the rapid pace of expansion towards a target of 350,000 meant the police and army would need help for years to come, particularly in highly skilled areas such as bomb disposal, medical evacuation and logistics.

“The security forces will need continuing development because they have been built very quickly,” Carter said. One major roadblock for now was the lack of planes and helicopters, critical to dominating a large, mountainous country with poor and often deadly roads. “The plan to field the airforce … is designed to give them more capability every year, but probably not to be fully fielded until 2017-18.”

But he said their institutions were now sustainable and overall he was optimistic about Afghanistan’s future, as long as the US and its allies came through on promises of financial and military support.

“When you see how this country has developed in the last 10 to 12 years, it’s a completely different place, and people have completely different expectations,” he said. “We owe it to all of those who have invested a great deal of effort in what we have been doing here since 2001 to see it through.”

‘Americans don’t share global domination policies of their leaders’

http://rt.com/s/swf/player5.4.swf?file=http://rt.com/files/news/america-corporate-conglomerate-scott-751/i71b8223f1fc79ea83bf3e1f0f8b465ba_scott.dv.flv&image=http://rt.com/files/news/america-corporate-conglomerate-scott-751/afp-images-photogetty.n.jpg&skin=http://rt.com/s/css/player_skin.zip&provider=http&abouttext=Russia%20Today&aboutlink=http://rt.com&autostart=false

Not reported by the BBC : US troops accused of torture in Iraq and Afghanistan in war crimes trial

http://www.examiner.com/article/us-troops-accused-of-torture-iraq-and-afghanistan-war-crimes-trial

KUALA LUMPUR – Former Iraqi detainee Abbas Abid told a War Crimes Tribunal in sworn testimony that he was “tortured” in Baghdad during questioning by “American troops”, who had demanded names of “terrorists” in his neighborhood during the invasion to oust strongman Saddam Hussein in August 2005.

BEATEN, ELECTROCUTED AND MOCK EXECUTIONS

Abbas Abid, who is the tribunal’s first witness, said he was brought to the Al-Muthanna Brigade headquarters, where he was “beaten, electrocuted and threatened of being shot after the soldiers failed to obtain any names”.

 

UK army major says Afghanistan war lost, politicians trading soldiers lives for votes

Dr Peter Lee, a university lecturer who spent seven years as an RAF padre, has released the emails from British soldiers serving in Afghanistan to highlight the extent of disillusionment within the ranks. The correspondence includes two emails sent by a major on the brink of a fresh deployment to the region. He likens the prospect to ‘being put on for the last two minutes of a lost game’ of rugby.

In his article printed below, Dr Lee describes this as ‘enough time to get hurt, badly,  and perhaps enough time to make the defeat fractionally less embarrassing. But there is no chance that defeat can be turned into victory’.

http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/afghanistan-and-pakistan/1360-uk-army-major-says-afghanistan-war-lost-and-soldiers-lives-traded-for-votes

Video of Syrian ‘Rebels’ murdering an innocent civilian.

The Syrian ‘opposition’ / ‘rebels’ in action. VERY disturbing scenes of civilian murder, taken from mobile phone of an ‘opposition’ / ‘rebel’ ‘fighter’.

Incidentally, why do the western media call these people ‘opposition’ / ‘rebels’ when their equivalents in Iraq or Afghanistan are invariably ‘insurgents’, ‘extremists’ or ‘terrorists’.

Anatomy of a Massacre

What really happened on the night of March 11 when 17 Afghan civilians were massacred in Kandahar province?

Many Afghans, including some of the survivors that night, believe more than one U.S. soldier was present in the two villages where the killings took place.

With unprecedented access to Afghan military investigators, Yalda Hakim travels to the villages where the massacre took place and interviews survivors of the attack, as well as Afghan guards at the US military base that housed the alleged gunman.

US soldier Robert Bales is in custody, facing charges of mass murder, but Afghan investigators suspect there may have been at least one other killer involved.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30942.htm

Chomsky: Are We About to Get Embroiled in a Nightmare War With Iran?

http://www.alternet.org/story/154540/chomsky:_are_we_about_to_get_embroiled_in_a_nightmare_war_with_iran_?page=1

As tensions escalate, there are eerie echoes of the run-up to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The January/February issue of Foreign Affairs featured the article “Time to Attack Iran: Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option,” by Matthew Kroenig, along with commentary about other ways to contain the Iranian threat.

The media resound with warnings about a likely Israeli attack on Iran while the U.S. hesitates, keeping open the option of aggression – thus again routinely violating the U.N. Charter, the foundation of international law

Afghan tribal leaders: Afghan civilians’ massacre pre-planned

Afghan tribal leaders: Afghan civilians' massacre pre-planned.

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