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"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: chaudry
Full Name: khalid waheed
User since: 30/May/2009
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February 15, 2010 by Gordon Duff

AFGHANISTAN:  The Flawed Operation “Mushtarak”

By: Khalil Nouri  for vetrans today

“If “Success” is the word labeled for Operation “Mushtarak” when that outcome means agony, death, disfigurement and disablement for life for mostly young men, who were children just a few short years ago, then how can the definition of winning hearts and minds  be such heinous atrocities, atrocities tied to Karzai, tied to America and her allies, tied to them and remembered for generationsAny disillusioned Afghan will profoundly consider recruitment into insurgency when a foreign invading army, with much better equipment and weaponry, is slaughtering the poorly equipped local tribesmen and their innocent families.”

On February 12th Operation “Mushtarak” meaning “together” in Farsi and Pashtu languages was launched jointly with both NATO and Afghan forces intended “to boost counterinsurgency and eliminate the Taliban embedded with the 80 thousand plus Pashtun inhabitants in Marjah and Nad-Ali districts of Helmand province.”   What were they thinking?

As reported, the green light was approved by the unpopular and vote rigged Afghan President Hamed Karzai who has been telling us for years he is determined to purge corruption and presumably bringing peace and prosperity in Afghanistan.  However, using the word “Mushtarak”, was it because the U.S. and its allies did not use a local Afghan name for their operations in the past nine years that failed miserably? The fact remains, any local or nonlocal naming conventions will not bear fruit when Afghans in their own homeland are treated as second class citizens.

Will a new name change things when the ideas behind it are old ones, ones that have, not only failed in their efforts, but have always made things worse, much worse.

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS, THE PLAIN TRUTH 

Moreover, the main question remains; will the operation make a difference? Yes it will. It will harden the resolve of the Taliban and their sympathizers who will now become even more doggedly determined to rid the country of foreign forces no matter how long it takes. This is an unwinnable situation and no matter which US General is in charge.  

The entire concept behind this operation is not “reality based.”  This is theatre, and nothing more, but many of the players and much of the audience will suffer from this ill-fated production.  I suspect they knew they were writing a tragedy from the beginning.  None of us were fooled.

Practically thinking, engineering such flawed operation akin to what the Russians and British convened during their occupations of Afghanistan which resulted in failures of epochal proportions such that they are a stain on history itself must have escaped the attention of the US planners.

"DRUG BUST" IN AFGHANISTAN

ARE WE REALLY FIGHTING THE TALIBAN?

The people of Afghanistan resist foreign invasions, even if the “foreigner” is from a tribe 20 miles away.  Everyone knows this.  Calling people who fight back “taliban” so that the most powerful nation on earth can use weapons of mass destruction against them is a war crime. 

If you break into someone’s home and they are armed, they will shoot you.  The National Rifle Association says this is a basic American right.  Welcome to Afghanistan, we invented this right!

Diverting an operational strategy from a safe and sound strategic path in an effort to reconcile with the militants in this manner is senseless.   This is a futile effort by the U.S., and soon to be proven as an absolutely dysfunctional military approach which will bring about a far deadlier spring time militancy ramification.   

Hundreds of Taliban fighters may be killed but in terms of neocolonialist occupation as perceived by the disenchanted Afghans, will only motivate hundreds more to join the cause.  For every Taliban killed, 5 more will show up in weeks, maybe months.  In years you will see 50 more.

WHEN IS WINNING ACTUALLY LOSING?

If “Success” is the word labeled for Operation “Mushtarak” when that outcome means agony, death, disfigurement and disablement for life for mostly young men, who were children just a few short years ago, then how can the definition of winning hearts and minds be such heinous atrocities, atrocities tied to Karzai, tied to America and her allies, tied to them and remembered for generations.

Any disillusioned Afghan will profoundly consider recruitment into insurgency when a foreign invading army, with much better equipment and weaponry, is slaughtering the poorly equipped local tribesmen and their innocent families. This is only to save face in the name of the policy makers who don’t have the stomach to admit this pointless war is without any justification, and they cannot admit mistakes for fact that they will look bad, and therefore it is okay to resume killing.

In hindsight, Operation “Mushtarak” may be successful as a public relations exercise if reports of US-led forces’ casualties are kept to a minimum, but it will not be a long-term military success where the Taliban are too well adapted to the terrain with their guerilla tactics. 

Similarly, it will be an outstanding success just as the same types of operations in Vietnam where huge “search and destroy” operations, with high altitude aerial bombings, infantry units transported by helicopters, as well as ground advances. Subsequently it was claimed the foe was driven away, but only to return later and continue their insurgency with much intense sophistication.  

Furthermore, this appears to be another illusory “breakthrough” offensive to the similar failed said offensives of Vietnam War; NATO forces are dropping bombs and peanut butter, with the message, “resistance is futile,” a nation-building strategy with no historical precedent of success. The uncritical Western “hard news” needs to stop questioning merely tactics, and stop disseminating sanitized images. NATO nations need to start questioning whether this entire action is ethically and legally justified.   

However, this notion proves that killing men is not going to kill an idea — whether it is good or bad — and the very act of war inspires those ideas that the West is trying to exonerate the world of. However, one can assert that there are alternatives to war.  But it is a political stunt. There are upcoming U.S. senate elections this year, and there is general election in the UK. Of course, Obama and Brown desires are to look like war heroes.

As an Afghan born, I believe, even if the whole world is willing to sustain bankruptcy to transform Afghanistan into a capitalist or communist state, for that matter, it will fail miserably.  With centuries old week central government, tribal imbalance and feud throughout the entire country, and the deep intertwined centuries old complexity, no outsider has yet understood this notion of Afghan tenacity.

Moreover, no amount of weapons and increasing number of troops are going to bring any success. As long as a single foreign soldier remains in Afghanistan there will be no peace or “success.”  Evidently, in this long term NATO war, if peace was not achievable. Then one must refer to history and be cognoscente of the fact that a non-Muslin army in an Islamic country will never win “hearts and minds” and will always be seen as the aggressive occupier. 

The only Afghan operation should be contemplated  is to withdraw all foreign troops immediately, and refer back to the 1830’s second Afghan-Anglo war to define a similar exit strategy, which worked for another 100 plus years until Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1979.

 Khalil Nouri is the cofounders of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan.  www.nwscinc. org

 
 Marjah Offensive: Snipers Harass US, Afghan Troops
ALFRED DE MONTESQUIOU | 02/15/10 02:53 PM | AP

MARJAH, Afghanistan — Taliban fighters stepped up counterattacks Monday against Marines and Afghan soldiers in the militant stronghold of Marjah, slowing the allied advance to a crawl despite Afghan government claims that the insurgents are broken and on the run.

Taliban fighters appeared to be slipping under cover of darkness into compounds already deemed free of weapons and explosives, then opening fire on the Marines from behind U.S. lines.

Also Monday, NATO said five civilians were accidentally killed and two wounded by an airstrike when they were mistakenly believed to have been planting roadside bombs in Kandahar province, east of the Marjah offensive.

The airstrike happened one day after 12 people, half of them children, were killed by two U.S. missiles that struck a house on the outskirts of Marjah. Afghan officials said Monday that three Taliban fighters were in the house at the time of the attack.

On the third day of the main attack on Marjah, Afghan commanders spoke optimistically about progress in the town of about 80,000 people, the linchpin of the Taliban logistical and opium poppy smuggling network in the militant-influenced south.

Brig. Gen. Sher Mohammad Zazai, commander of Afghan troops in the south, told reporters in nearby Lashkar Gah that there had been "low resistance" in the town, adding "soon we will have Marjah cleared of enemies."

Interior Minister Hanif Atmar said many insurgent fighters had already fled Marjah, possibly heading for Pakistan.

In Marjah, however, there was little sign the Taliban were broken. Instead, small, mobile teams of insurgents repeatedly attacked U.S. and Afghan troops with rocket, rifle and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Insurgents moved close enough to the main road to fire repeatedly at columns of mine-clearing vehicles.

At midday at least six large gunbattles were raging across the town, and helicopter gunships couldn't cover all the different fighting locations.

Allied officials have reported only two coalition deaths so far – one American and one Briton killed Saturday. There have been no reports of wounded. Afghan officials said at least 27 insurgents have been killed so far in the offensive.

Nonetheless, the harassment tactics and the huge number of roadside bombs, mines and booby traps planted throughout Marjah have succeeded in slowing the movement of allied forces through the town. After daylong skirmishes, some Marine units had barely advanced at all by sundown.

As long as the town remains unstable, NATO officials cannot move to the second phase – restoring Afghan government control and rushing in aid and public services to win over inhabitants who have been living under Taliban rule for years.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai approved the assault on Marjah only after instructing NATO and Afghan commanders to be careful about harming civilians. "This operation has been done with that in mind," the top NATO commander, U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, said Monday.

Despite those instructions, NATO said two U.S. rockets veered off target by up to 600 yards and slammed into a home Sunday outside Marjah, killing 12 people. Six children were among the dead, a NATO military official confirmed Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information had not been formally released.

In London, Britain's top military officer, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, called the missile strike a "very serious setback" to efforts to win the support of local communities, who are from the same Pashtun ethnic group as the Taliban.

"This operation ... is not about battling the Taliban. It is about protecting the local population, and you don't protect them when you kill them," he said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.

NATO said the Kandahar airstrike was ordered Monday after a joint NATO-Afghan patrol saw people digging along a path "and believed that the individuals" were planting a roadside bomb. When they realized their mistake, troops flew the wounded to a NATO hospital, the statement said.

"We regret this tragic accident and offer our sympathies to the families of those killed and injured," said Maj. Gen. Michael Regner, the NATO command's deputy chief of staff for joint operations. "Our combined forces take every precaution to minimize civilian casualties, and we will investigate this incident to determine how this happened."

About 15,000 U.S., Afghan and British troops are taking part in the massive offensive around Marjah area – the largest southern town under Taliban control. The offensive is the biggest joint operation since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

The main attack began before dawn Saturday when dozens of helicopters dropped hundreds of Marines and Afghan soldiers into the heart of the city. Ground troops began moving just before sunrise, using makeshift bridges to cross the irrigation canals ringing the town because the main bridge was so heavily mined.

Although there was only scattered resistance on the first day, Taliban fighters seem to have regrouped, using hit-and-run tactics to try to prevent the Americans and their Afghan allies from gaining full control of the area.

The Taliban snipers appeared highly skilled at concealing themselves.

"I haven't seen anything, not one person, not a muzzle flash," said Richard Knie, of Hudson, Iowa, a former Marine and retired police officer embedded with the Marines as a law enforcement professional. "And I've been looking a lot."

Troops complained that strict rules to protect civilians made it difficult to use enough firepower to stop the attacks.

"I understand the reason behind it, but it's so hard to fight a war like this," said Lance Corp. Travis Anderson, 20, from Altoona, Iowa. "They're using our rules of engagement against us," he said, adding that his platoon had repeatedly seen men dropping their guns into ditches before walking away to melt among civilians.

___

Associated Press Writer Rahim Faiez contributed to this report from Lashkar Gah.

 

 

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