Topic: U.S. Military issues.
"Taliban fighters attack U.S. or NATO forces in populated areas, then retreat to civilian homes. Western forces respond with massive firepower or an airstrike. That increasingly common pattern of clashes has led to a climbing number of civilian deaths and rising anger among Afghan officials and citizens.
While militants killed 178 civilians this year in attacks through Saturday, Western forces killed 203, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from Afghan and international officials."
And ANN reports:
"Just two days after 25 civilians, including women and children, were killed in a NATO airstrike in Gerishk district of southern Helmand province and during which 20 insurgents were also killed . . .
Afghan President Hamid Karzai lashed out strongly Saturday at the NATO forces over mounting civilian casualties caused in 'careless operations' by international forces in his country, saying 'Afghan lives are not cheap.'"
He went on:
"We want coordination, cooperation but unfortunately the coordination and cooperation that we wanted could not be gained and the consequence of that are civilian casualties. The civilian casualty is intolerable, it is absolutely intolerable, either this cooperation and coordination is created and applied or Afghanistan will take its decision in this regard.'"
"'Innocent people are becoming victims of reckless operations' because the troops had ignored Afghan advice for years." [BBC]
And not only is NATO killing Afghans . . . the BBC also reports:
"Rockets fired by coalition forces in Afghanistan killed at least nine Pakistani civilians, the Pakistan military said on Saturday. Coalition forces were fighting militants in Afghanistan close to the Pakistan border when a few rockets came across the frontier, hitting a house. Pakistan is demanding an explanation, a spokesman said."
Wow, that's a major screw up. Lucky for us the Pakisatnis are so worked up about Salon Rushdie. Maybe they won't notice.
NATO spokesman Major John Thomas is a busy, busy man of late:
"Major John Thomas, an International Security Assistance Force spokesman, confirmed that during the fight in Bermal district of south-eastern Afghan province Paktika 'up to 10 civilians were killed' due to artillery fire and rockets fired from helicopters inside Pakistan.
'It appears that one of our weapons hit a building which may have had a number of civilians in it and that building may have been a home or some hotel facility,' Thomas admitted.
'We regret two things: one that we mistakenly operated inside the Pakistani border, and secondly we regret the loss of civilians in our operation,' Thomas said in Kabul."
And then there is the drug problem:
Meanwhile, AFP reports: (as if this were a big surprise anyway)
"[The] UN released overnight its 2007 World Drug Report, which revealed a 49 percent leap last year in Afghanistan's production of opium, the raw ingredient of heroin. It also reiterated that the country supplied 92 percent of the world's opium."
The World Bank says:
"The opium economy is a massive source of corruption and gravely undermines the credibility of the government and its local representatives.
The opium economy is equivalent to more than one-third of Afghanistan’s licit economy. Iit is the country's largest source of export earnings, and it comprises a major source of income and employment in rural areas.
The harmful macroeconomic effects of successful measures against drugs may be somewhat limited and manageable, although monitoring is needed. The critical adverse development impact of counter-narcotics actions is on poor farmers and rural wage laborers."
So when we're not bombing them into the stone age, the lowly Afghans are being crushed between corrupt Afghan officials making bank on opium and the Taliban.
Afghan drug minister Habibullah Qaderi claims:
"As development takes place, as police reform grows (and) the judicial system improves, I can guarantee that there will be certainly in the future a reduction in the drugs problem."
At the same UN meeting on drug was US ambassador William Wood who said that "about 10 percent of the heroin in his country was from Afghanistan and if this increased, Washington would consider a more 'forceful response.'"
Whatever that means, what are going to do bomb the poppy fields? our anti-natcotics methods in South America have been such a rousing success, I say we get right to it in Afghanistan.