Middle East

Delegates in Shangra-La pledge eternal war in Afghanistan, as the US creates new and very dangerous allies there, reports Eric Walberg

War junkies popped their champagne corks on 7 June to celebrate the 104th month of US military engagement in Afghanistan, America’s longest war in history (Vietnam lasted 103 months). Presumably they toasted the five NATO soldiers killed on 6 June and the ten on 7 June, a new record. Troop deaths have skyrocketed this year and NATO forces are continuing to “mow the grass”, killing dozens of “Taliban” every day, and lots of civilians, though no one seems to know just how many of each or how to tell the difference. In any case, what’s the point of questioning numbers provided by those doing the killing?

The new coalition in Westminster is parsing all the words about Afghanistan and coming up with a very different interpretation, says Eric Walberg

 

The movement to “get the troops out now!” has found unlikely converts in the form of the Conservative-Liberal Democratic coalition in Britain. The election campaign suggested nothing new could be expected from any of the parties on Afghanistan, despite the fact that over 70 per cent of Britons want the troops home.

Iran’s disarmament summit upstaged Obama’s and breathes life into next month’s NPT conference in New York, notes Eric Walberg

The logic of power is still overriding the power of logic, quipped the head of Iran’s Atomic Organisation Ali Salehi at the “Nuclear Energy for all, Nuclear Weapons for None” disarmament conference in Tehran last weekend, referring to US foreign policy, in particular, nuclear. Taking this elegant formulation a step further, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says nuclear-armed states such as the United States should be removed entirely from the IAEA and its Board of Governors. Iran’s president called for the formation of a new international body to oversee nuclear disarmament, or at least the reinvigoration of the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Lieutenant colonel Brian Christmas (I'm not making this up) recently threatened the village elders in Sistani, a village near Marja, with “the choice between American guns and American resources”. Read: turn stoolie. The Afghan president begs to differ, says Eric Walberg

There can be no doubt that Washington is in the throws of a mental breakdown over what to do about Afghanistan. The very unenthusiastic surge now underway is a disaster on the ground, as NATO, Taliban and civilian Afghanistan deaths skyrocket in Marja and Kandahar, with Kunduz coming up in the brutal Afghan summer. The staunchly noncombatant Germans are supposed to spearhead the latter operation, but there is a revolution brewing at home after three of them died in a few seconds last week, and nearby their comrades gunned down five Afghan soldiers in a case of “friendly fire”. To make matters worse, far worse, America’s political hope, President Hamid Karzai, is doing his best to scuttle the occupiers’ plans, however altruistic and noble they might be.

NATO plans for Afghanistan this year are shaping up nicely: negotiate with the Taliban, but at the same time kill them in Kandahar and Kunduz, observes Eric Walberg

A joint operation involving several thousand troops was launched in Kandahar last week, the second one this year after Operation Mushtarak in Helmand province. Kandahar has been the bailiwick of 2,500 contingent of Canadian troops who have suffered heavy losses in this mountainous home of the Taliban. It is ruled by a Canadian national, Governor Tooryalai Wesa , a close friend of President Hamid Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, chairman of the Kandahar provincial council, infamous for his involvement in the drug trade.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html