tagged w/ TAPI pipeline
From 2011: KABUL: Afghan lawmakers on Saturday approved the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas agreement, Afghan television ToloNews reported.
The Afghan parliament’s International Liaison Commission said the agreement will act as a boost for the Afghan economy and the gas flow would help to strengthen relations between the countries involved in the project.
About 7,000 personnel will be assigned to ensure security to the project in Afghanistan, said Muhammad Anwar Akbari, a member of the commission.
Afghanistan will receive 1.2 billion cubic metres of natural gas once the project is completed.
Akbari said that this would rise to over five billion cubic metres within five years.
The cost of the project is estimated at around $7.8 billion, said Akbari. Construction work, with the help of an American firm, will begin by 2012 and is expected to be completed by 2014, he added.
More at the linkFrom 2011: KABUL: Afghan lawmakers on Saturday approved the... more
KABUL (AFP) – Afghanistan has seen an "alarming" near-doubling of roadside bomb attacks over the past year, a UN report said Saturday, as the US asserted progress was being made in the war-torn country.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said "security incidents" have risen significantly as US-led forces make a push in the south and militant activities have grown in the southeast and eastern regions of Afghanistan.
"The rise in incidents involving improvised-explosive devices constitutes an alarming trend, with the first four months of 2010 recording a 94 percent increase compared to the same period in 2009," the report to the UN security council said.
The report added suicide attacks involving more complex planning have doubled from last year to roughly two per month, which "demonstrates a growing capability of the local terrorist networks linked to Al-Qaeda".
Killings of civilians by insurgents aiming to take control of urban populations have also increased 45 percent from last year, to a rate of seven a week, mostly taking place in the south and southeast, it said.
The report came at the end of a week in which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Afghan government and its international backers were making progress stabilising the country.
"We think that we're making progress, we know how hard it is," Clinton told a news conference in Washington Friday, saying that "the Afghan military and police are improving".
"There's a lot of positive indicators," she added, citing advances in education, health, government capacity, agricultural output and economic growth.
Ban's UN report also noted conflict-related civilian casualties decreased one percent compared to last year, but officials said at least five civilians, including two young girls, died in a NATO air strike Saturday targeting the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan.
"We have received five bodies of civilians in our provincial public hospital," Khost provincial health director Amirbadshah Rahmatzai Mangal told AFP.
"The dead include two female children of seven and eight years of age. A 14-year-old boy was wounded."
Khost provincial police chief general Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai said six civilians and 38 Taliban militants were killed by the bombing in the mountainous area on the Pakistan border.
Commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, US General Stanley McChrystal, has made minimising civilian casualties a central tenet of his counter-insurgency strategy and has ordered reduced air strikes to help achieve the objective.
The Pentagon on Thursday said US-led forces were making headway against the Taliban, but it was "overshadowed" by violence in southern provinces and what it called an overly gloomy portrayal of the war shaped by media coverage.
The rising death toll in Afghanistan is unwelcome news for Washington and its allies, whose electorates are increasingly frustrated by casualties in a seemingly endless and faraway war.KABUL (AFP) – Afghanistan has seen an "alarming" near-doubling of... more
The war in Afghanistan will get worse before it gets better, President Barack Obama said Wednesday, but he declared his plan to begin withdrawing U.S. forces next year remains on track.
"What I've tried to emphasize is the fact that there is going to be some hard fighting over the next several months," Obama said at a White House news conference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He spoke as the U.S.-led foreign army in Afghanistan gets ready for a push into the Taliban's birthplace in Kandahar Province. The campaign for Kandahar, which is to begin in earnest in June, is expected to be among the bloodiest of the nearly nine-year-old war.
"There is no denying the progress," Obama said. "Nor, however, can we deny the very serious challenges still facing Afghanistan."
Karzai's warm White House welcome followed months of sniping and frustration over management of the war and about fraud allegations surrounding Karzai's re-election last year.
"There are moments when we speak frankly to each other, and that frankness will only contribute to the strength of the relationship," Karzai said with a smile.
Obama acknowledged "setbacks" in the U.S. relationship with Afghanistan, but both he and Karzai said worries about the future of the partnership have been exaggerated.
"Obviously there are going to be tensions in such a complicated and difficult environment and in a situation in which on the ground both Afghans and Americans are making enormous sacrifices," Obama said. Karzai said disagreements are normal in the grinding war.
Obama said he was confident he will be ale to meet his goal of beginning to withdraw U.S. forces in July 2011, with Afghan security forces beginning to take over the fight.
U.S. relations with Afghanistan have been under deep strain, and Wednesday's meeting at the White House was intended to help repair ties. The U.S. has criticized Karzai for tolerating corruption and drug trafficking, while Karzai has accused Washington of failing to give him the support he needs to govern.
Obama says there have been steady signs of progress since he increased the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan late last year. But he said progress takes time and cautioned that the U.S. must commit to a long-term partnership with Afghanistan.
The war isn't confined within Afghanistan's borders, Obama said.
continuedThe war in Afghanistan will get worse before it gets better, President Barack Obama... more
Shootings of Afghan civilians by American and NATO convoys and at military checkpoints have spiked sharply this year, becoming the leading cause of combined civilian deaths and injuries at the hands of Western forces, American officials say.
The steep rise in these convoy and checkpoint attacks — which the military calls “escalation of force incidents” — has prompted military commanders to issue new troop guidelines in recent weeks that include soliciting local Afghan village and tribal elders and other leaders for help preventing convoy and checkpoint shootings.
These shootings are a major reason civilian casualties in Afghanistan are soaring after a much-publicized period of decline.
Such episodes “have taken the lead” in civilian casualties caused by Western forces, said Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, the day-to-day operational commander of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. “We’ve really got to figure out how to solve that problem, and it’s really a challenge to the leadership. It’s a challenge to discipline.”
Civilian deaths from aerial bombings have declined, General Rodriguez said. But in convoys and at checkpoints, “you’re faced with a different challenge of snap decisions” by troops “much closer to not only the people but the enemy.”
At least 28 Afghans have been killed and 43 wounded in convoy and checkpoint shootings this year — 42 percent of total civilian deaths and injuries and the largest overall source of casualties at the hands of American and NATO troops, according to statistics kept by the military.
In the same period last year, 8 Afghans were killed and 29 wounded in similar episodes. For all of 2009, 36 Afghan civilians were killed in the so-called escalation of force incidents by Western and Afghan troops, according to the United Nations. Over all, the Taliban and other militants account for a much larger number of civilian casualties than Western forces do, the United Nations found.
Since last summer, none of the Afghans killed or wounded in convoy and checkpoint shootings had weapons that would have posed a danger for troops who killed them, commanders said.
continued:Shootings of Afghan civilians by American and NATO convoys and at military checkpoints... more
Thousands of protesters — many directing their anger squarely at President Barack Obama — marched through the nation's capital Saturday to urge immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
At least eight people, including activist Cindy Sheehan, were arrested by U.S. Park Police at the end of the march, after laying coffins at a fence outside the White House. Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
"Arrest that war criminal!" Sheehan shouted outside the White House before her arrest, referring to Obama.
At a rally before the march, Sheehan asked whether "the honeymoon was over with that war criminal in the White House" — an apparent reference to Obama — prompting moderate applause.
The protesters defied orders to clear the sidewalk on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House and park police say they face charges of failure to obey a lawful order.
Activist Ralph Nader told thousands who gathered in Lafayette Park across from the White House that Obama has essentially continued the policies of the Bush administration, and it was foolish to have thought otherwise.
"He's kept Guantanamo open, he's continued to use indefinite detention," Nader said. The only real difference, he said is that "Obama's speeches are better."
Others were more conciliatory toward Obama. Shirley Allan of Silver Spring, Md., carried a sign that read, "President Obama We love you but we need to tell you! Your hands are getting bloody!! Stop it now."
Allan thought it was going too far to call Obama a war criminal but said she is deeply disappointed that the conflicts are continuing.
"He has to know it's unacceptable," Allan said. "I am absolutely disappointed."
The protest drew a smaller crowd than the tens of thousands who marched in 2006 and 2007. Protests in cities around the country also had far fewer participants than in the past.
San Francisco's rally brought out Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the top-secret Pentagon Papers study of the Vietnam War and is the subject of the recent documentary film, "The Most Dangerous Man in America." He likened the protest and others like it around the country Saturday to a day of demonstrations organized against the conflict in Vietnam in 1969.
"They thought it had no effect," he told the crowd in San Francisco, referring to the 1969 protesters. "They were wrong."
Ellsberg said President Richard Nixon was planning to escalate the war around that time, but held off.
Protesters in Washington stopped at the offices of military contractor Halliburton — where they tore apart an effigy of former Vice President and Halliburton Chief Executive Dick Cheney — the Mortgage Bankers Association and The Washington Post offices.
Anna Berlinrut, of South Orange, N.J., was one of a number of protesters who have children who have served in Iraq, and said her son supports her protests.
"If there were a draft, we'd have a million people out here," Berlinrut said when asked about the turnout. The exact number of protesters was unclear, as D.C. authorities do not give out crowd estimates. Organizers estimated the march, which stretched for several blocks, at 10,000.
Despite the arrests, the protest was peaceful. At the outset, police closed a portion of the sidewalk in front of the White House fence after protesters tried to use mud and large stencils to spell out "Iraq veterans against the war."
Once the sidewalk was closed, the protesters stenciled the message on the street using mud they had carried in buckets to the rally.
Sheehan has been a vocal critic of the war since her 21-year-old son Casey was killed in Iraq in April 2004. She staged a prolonged demonstration in 2005 outside former President George W. Bush's ranch near Crawford, Texas.
cont.Thousands of protesters — many directing their anger squarely at President... more
The U.S. intervened indirectly in Afghanistan in the ‘80s, with no thought for the welfare of the Afghan people and with tragic consequences for them, in order to fight the Soviets and the imagined menace of “communism.” To do that it nurtured a ferocious Islamist extremist trend. There’s never been any acknowledgement of error or apology and don’t expect one. It all made sense at the time from a U.S. imperialist point of view.
What makes sense now, from a U.S. imperialist point of view? Just look at the map. Realize that Afghanistan has no products the U.S. corporate world wants or needs. During the Cold War, Iran, Iraq, Turkey sometimes played crucial roles in U.S. geostrategic thinking but Afghanistan was practically conceded to the Soviet camp even before 1978. It only acquired significance as a Cold War battleground when U.S. strategists realized (in Brzezinski’s words) that they could “bleed the Soviets…the way they did us in Vietnam.” More recently, it has acquired significance as U.S. energy corporations do global battle with the Russians over access to Caspian Sea natural gas.
At present Europe is dependent on the supply of gas via Russia from the Caspian Sea, principally from Turkmenistan. This gives Moscow enormous political leverage when it comes to such matters as NATO’s decision to admit Georgia or Ukraine. U.S. policy has been to build pipelines from the Caspian avoiding Russia or Iran. Construction of the TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India) pipeline which will pump the gas straight to the Indian Ocean and on to world markets has been long delayed due to the fighting in Afghanistan.
The pipeline will run through Helmand province, then into Pakistan’s Balochistan. If it all works out, this will represent a highly significant improvement in the geostrategic position of the U.S. in the region, including in the event of another world war (such as might be provoked by a U.S. attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities and unpredictable repercussions of such action).
But Obama will not be talking about the history of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan, or the feelings of the Afghan people about occupation, or the reactions of the Pakistanis to the unmitigated disaster on their doorstep, or the real geopolitical reasons for U.S. interest in this backward impoverished Central Asian nation that has been “the graveyard of empires” since the time of Alexander the Great.
He will say it’s still a necessary war to defend Americans from terrorist attack. We should recall, once again, the observation of Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering during the Nuremburg trial that while “naturally the common people don’t want war … the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
We should respond: No it’s not necessary! in the streets that day and those following---until we force Obama to end what are now unmistakably his criminal imperialist wars.
end of excerpt.The U.S. intervened indirectly in Afghanistan in the ‘80s, with no thought for... more