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Afghans against permanent US bases

Afghan President Hamid Karzai

AFGHANISTAN, March 18, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — People in Afghanistan have staged protests to voice their opposition to plans for permanent US bases in their country, Iranian Television PRESS TV reported on Friday.

The US has held talks with Afghan President Karzai to set up permanent military bases in Afghanistan amid widespread public opposition and protests against the move.

The first round of the talks ended in Kabul this week with no major breakthrough, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The talks have stirred fierce debates in the Afghan media ever since Karzai confirmed the reports last month.

The Afghan government says that the US has to first guarantee that these bases would not be used to attack neighboring countries.

“We told the Americans that Afghanistan needs to have a good relationship with its neighbors. We don’t want our territory to pose any threat to our neighbors and the region,” a government spokesman stated.

Civilian casualties often caused by air strikes and night raids, have deepened the popular opposition to the US-led occupation. Local people strongly are opposed the idea of permanent US bases in the country.

Afghans believe that the presence of the US-led forces in their country is further escalating the unrest.

“There is no doubt that despite the presence of foreign troops, peace and stability are still missing in this country. I think it is because of the lack of coordination and the lack of a realistic strategy,” political analyst Zabiullah Quaraishi told Press TV.

The US claims its permanent military bases would greatly help Afghanistan fight against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. But ten years on into the war, the vast swaths of the country are still home to militants.

Many Afghan people blame the US for leading a double standard policy. They say on one hand, the US talks about the withdrawal of its forces, but on the other, it wants to establish permanent bases in this war torn country. (*)
 
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Posted by on March 18, 2011 in World News

 

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Gen. David Petraeus reveals that son served in Afghanistan

U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Stephen Petraeus, Alpha Company, 3rd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, back to camera, speaks to Afghan local nationals after searching their house for weapons in the Chak District, Sept. 24, 2010, in Wardak province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/U.S. Army, by Pfc. Donald Watkins)

 

 

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Challenged by a congressman to “be honest” about how long American troops might have to fight in Afghanistan, Army Gen. David Petraeus revealed that he has a personal stake in ensuring that the U.S. war objectives are met — his son, Stephen, whose recent combat tour was kept “very quiet”, AP reported on Wednesday.

In an emotional exchange with Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., Petraeus said “if I ever felt that we couldn’t achieve our objectives,” he would be “very forthright” not only with his superiors in the military chain of command but also with President Barack Obama and members of the Congress.

Noting that Obama has said the U.S. will have combat troops out by the end of 2014, with the Afghan government in position to provide its own security, a skeptical Jones said he could imagine a senior military leader coming before Congress in 2015 and pleading for more time and more sacrifice.

“You know, 15, 16, 17 years, for God sakes, how much more can we take, how much more can we give treasure and blood?” Jones asked.

Petraeus replied: “I may not be at this table, probably won’t be, in 2015, but I’ll tell you that my son is in uniform, and Lieutenant Petraeus just completed a tour in Afghanistan, which thankfully we were able to keep very quiet, and left in November after serving as an infantry platoon leader. We’re very proud of what he did. He thinks he was doing something very important.”

His son, 2nd Lt. Stephen Petraeus, served in Afghanistan as a member of Alpha Company, 3rd Platoon, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team. (*)

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in World News

 

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Hamid Karzai to NATO: ‘Your Fight Is Not in Afghanistan’

Afghan President Hamid Karzai

AFGHANISTAN, March 13, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai says international troops should leave Afghanistan and take their fight against terrorism across the border into Pakistan.

As reported by VOA News on Sunday, Mr. Karzai delivered his latest criticism of NATO efforts Saturday in Asadabad, capital of eastern Kunar province, where he was visiting relatives of civilians killed in a raid by international forces.

The Afghan leader said his government has shown NATO that the terrorists and militants are not in Afghanistan, but instead are hiding in neighboring Pakistan.

The French news agency quoted Mr. Karzai as saying that Afghans are a tolerant people, but by now , “Our tolerance has run out.”

The topic of civilian casualties has been a sensitive one for Afghanistan and its Western allies.

Earlier this month, NATO’s top commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, apologized for an airstrike that killed nine children in Kunar province – the result of miscommunication, according to the coalition. Mr. Karzai has warned that NATO could face “huge problems” if the accidental killing of civilians does not stop.

A joint report this week by the U.N. mission in Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission says there were nearly 3,000 war-related civilian deaths in 2010 – an increase of 15 percent over 2009’s toll. The study concluded that insurgents and militants were responsible for about 75 percent of those deaths.

Meanwhile, NATO said two of its troops died Saturday, one in eastern Afghanistan and another in southern Afghanistan. NATO has a policy of not releasing names and nationalities of members of the force.  (*)

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in World News

 

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Afghan President Hamid Karzai seeks end to NATO operations

Afghan President Hamid Karzai

 

 

AFGHANISTAN, March 13, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai says US-led forces must stop operations in his country amid growing discontent between Kabul and Washington over civilian causalities, Iranian Television PRESS TV reported on Saturday.

Karzai made the remarks in the city of Asadabad where a recent NATO attack left over 70 civilians dead.

“I would like to ask NATO and the US with honor and humbleness and not with arrogance to stop their operations in our land,” Karzai said on Saturday.

“We are very tolerant people but now our tolerance has run out,” Karzai added.

The remarks also come days after nine children were killed in a NATO helicopter raid while they were collecting firewood in the eastern province of Kunar.

NATO says the children were mistaken for militants.

President Karzai condemned the killings and US President Barack Obama apologized for the incident.

Afghanistan has also rejected the United States’ apology for the death of nine children in a NATO airstrike. Karzai said expressing regret is not sufficient for the killing of the young boys.

His comments also come as US-led forces have recently shot and killed a relative of President Karzai in an attack on his house in Kandahar Province’s Dand district in southern Afghanistan.

US Special Forces arrived in helicopter in Karz village and stormed the house of Haji Yar Mohammad Khan on Wednesday night, Press TV has learned.

Moreover, foreign forces have killed two civilians in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

The victims worked for a private company which provides services to Afghan and foreign forces. Eyewitnesses say they were killed in their homes in the city of Jalalabad.

Civilian casualties from US-led operations are a major source of tension between the Afghan government and foreign troops. More than 2,400 civilians are estimated to have been killed in 2010 by both foreign forces and militants.

Insecurity is on the rise across the country despite the presence of over 150,000 US-led forces there.  (*)

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in World News

 

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General David Petraeus apologises over Afghan civilian deaths

US General David Petraeus -- the commander of international troops in Afghanistan -- has said he is "deeply sorry" for the deaths of nine civilians in a coalition air strike in Kunar province. (AFP/File/Odd Andersen)

 

 

ASADABAD, Afghanistan, March 2, 2011  (KATAKAMI.COM / AFP) – The commander of international troops in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, said Wednesday he was “deeply sorry” for the deaths of nine civilians in a coalition air strike, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Petraeus’s personal apology came hours after President Hamid Karzai issued an angry statement saying nine young children died in Tuesday’s strike as they collected firewood in Darah-Ye Pech district of northeastern Kunar province.

Accidental civilian casualties in foreign military operations against the Taliban have been high on Afghanistan’s political agenda recently, highlighting tensions between Karzai and the West before a planned limited withdrawal of foreign troops from July.

The Afghan army and police are due to take control of security in their own country from 2014.

“We are deeply sorry for this tragedy and apologise to the members of the Afghan government, the people of Afghanistan and most importantly, the surviving family members of those killed by our actions,” Petraeus said in a statement.

“These deaths should have never happened and I will personally apologise to President Karzai when he returns from his trip to London this week.”

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) statement made no reference to the age of those who died in the attack.

The incident happened after an insurgent rocket attack on a military base prompted coalition forces to return fire, including with air power, it said.

Petraeus has now ordered all helicopter crews to be re-briefed on the need to keep civilian casualties “to the absolute minimum” and troops could face disciplinary action over the attack, it added.

Karzai had earlier criticised foreign forces on civilian deaths, saying they would face “huge problems” if the “daily killing of innocent civilians” did not stop.

About 150 people demonstrated Wednesday in the town of Asadabad, the capital of Kunar, over the deaths, shouting anti-American slogans, witnesses said.

Earlier this week, an official delegation appointed by Karzai accused international forces of killing 65 civilians in recent, separate operations elsewhere in Kunar.

In that case, though, ISAF said there were only a handful of civilian injuries.

Civilian casualties during international military operations against insurgents are a source of friction between the Kabul government and its Western backers.

Karzai argues that such incidents risk draining support away from his administration and towards the Taliban.

In his statement Wednesday, Karzai stressed that “Afghan villages are not the bases and havens of terrorism.”

The Afghan president has long insisted that international forces deployed to his war-torn country should focus their efforts on militant hideouts across the border in neighbouring Pakistan.

Human rights watchdog the Afghanistan Rights Monitor said last month that 2010 was the deadliest year for Afghan civilians since the US-led invasion in 2001.

At least 2,421 were killed, it said, blaming the Taliban and other insurgents for more than 60 percent of the dead. At least 217 died in air strikes by international forces, it added.

Karzai is currently in London, where he was due Wednesday to visit injured British soldiers who served in Afghanistan.  (*)

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in World News

 

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Photostream : British Prime Minister David Cameron meets Afghan President Hamid Karzai

President Hamid Karzai, right, is met by British Prime Minister David Cameron as he arrives for a meeting at 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday, March 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) shakes hands with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at 10 Downing Street in central London, on March 1, 2011. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was to hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday before opening a major London exhibition of artefacts from his country. Karzai, who arrived in London late Monday for a two-day visit, is expected to discuss issues including the planned transition of security responsibility from international troops to their Afghan counterparts in 2014. (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

British Prime Minister David Cameron (R) and Afghan President Hamid Karzai attend a joint press conference at 10 Downing Street in central London, on March 1, 2011. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was to hold talks with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday before opening a major London exhibition of artefacts from his country. Karzai, who arrived in London late Monday for a two-day visit, is expected to discuss issues including the planned transition of security responsibility from international troops to their Afghan counterparts in 2014. (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, left, leaves 10 Downing Street in London after a meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Tuesday, March 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2011 in World News

 

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Gen. Petraeus visits troops in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, International Security Assistance Force commander, and Italian Air Force Gen. Vincenzo Camporini, Italy's Chief of Defense, met with servicemembers in Bakwa District, Farah Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 25, 2010. He thanked the troops for their sacrifices and wished them Happy Holidays. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace)

 

December 25, 2010. MARJAH, Afghanistan (KATAKAMI / AIR FORCE TIMES.COM)  — The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan crisscrossed the country on Saturday, visiting coalition troops on Christmas at some of the main battle fronts in a show of appreciation and support in the tenth year of the war against the Taliban.

Gen. David Petraeus started his Christmas visit by traveling in a C-130 cargo plane from the capital, Kabul, to the northern province of Kunduz, telling troops with the U.S. Army’s 1-87, 10th Mountain Division that on this day, there was “no place that (he) would rather be than here” where the “focus of our effort” was.

The northern part of the country has seen increased fighting, with the Taliban stepping up their attacks as NATO focuses its sights on the militant movement’s southern strongholds. Petraeus was briefed on the situation in the region by German Maj. Gen. Hans-Werner Fritz, the commander of NATO’s northern regional command.

Petraeus handed out commemorative coins to troops who had served for 3 or more years since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, and awarded several medals, including three purple hearts. He then went by helicopter over desert mountain peaks to the western province of Farah, where the Italian army’s 7th Alpini is stationed.

The U.S. general’s visit coincided with one by Gen. Vincenzo Camporini, the Italian chief of defense general staff. Petraeus congratulated the Italian soldiers on the “progress that has been achieved in the first few months that this unit has been here.”

Petraeus’s next stop was the Taliban stronghold of Marjah in Helmand province, scene of some of the heaviest fighting recently between the Taliban and NATO-Afghan forces.

He spoke to the Marines on the base, praising them for the improvements in the area, which was once a Taliban stronghold and still sees Taliban attacks.

“You are part of America’s new greatest generation. It is not just the courage that you have shown, it is not just the skills that you have shown in arms, although you have had to do that on a near daily basis in tough areas like this,” he told the men and women of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Unit. “It is the versatility that you demonstrate going outside the wire every day, being ready for a hand grenade or a handshake and knowing what to do if either of those comes your way.”

Petraeus said the unanimity achieved at a November NATO summit in Lisbon, where member states committed to Afghanistan until 2014, came about partly “because of the progress that was achieved literally in the months leading up to that summit.”

If the situation Marjah had been the same as earlier in the year, Petraeus said, that unanimity would not have been there.

Marjah has become a symbol of the problems facing NATO troops in Afghanistan. More than 7,000 U.S.-led NATO ground troops launched a nighttime invasion of the region of farming hamlets last February to rout insurgents and cut off their income from the drug trade. NATO officials said the effort would pave the way for the Afghan government to move in aid and start delivering public services.

Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Mills on Dec. 7 declared that the battle in Marjah was “essentially over.” But the campaign took longer than NATO officials had hoped, and illustrated the complexity of trying to wrest control of an area where Taliban influence remained strong.

Efforts to create a civilian government in Marjah have been painfully slow, and U.S. troops struggled against roadside bombs and sniper attacks from an enemy that could blend in with the local population.

Petraeus said “we probably created expectations that were unduly high, and we worked through that.”

He said that when the campaign in Marjah began, it was “a headquarters for the Taliban,” a bomb-making center and location for the illegal narcotics industry.

“Now of course it is flourishing,” he said. Where once there was no school, there are now 1,200 attending classes.

It is not known when U.S. troops could be withdrawn in significant numbers from Helmand as heavy fighting continues elsewhere in the area, including the Sangin district where Marines took over from British forces. (*)

 
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Posted by on December 26, 2010 in World News

 

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