Tag Archives: air strikes

Who Is Responsible For Deaths In Afghanistan Tragedy?

Controversy continues swirling around events in Afghanistan last week which resulted in the death of over 90 civilians including numerous women and children. An Afghan army commander agrees with the US version that its troops initially took fire from the village before commencing their own response. But, the report released by the office of President Karzai does not indicate who fired the first shot. “When the ANA(Afghan army) and coalition troops got close to the village firing started after the ANA unit stopped and the coalition forces conducted the operation in the village.” The investigating commission found that 15 men, 15 women and 60 children were among those killed. However, the commission did not find any “foreign or internal Taliban” among the dead bodies.

Village leaders insist the entire operation was based on faulty information supplied by enemies of some people in the village. This is not the first time such information has been supplied US and coalition forces by someone who wanted to avenge himself on people in a village. The entire situation only highlights the importance of avoiding air strikes when information can not be completely trusted. The lack of sufficient forces in Afghanistan dates to decisions made by the Bush administration in 2002 to divert forces from the task of destroying Afghanistan’s Taliban forces in order to seek out mysterious non-existant WMD. We are living with the legacy of Bush mistakes.

President Karzai Blasts US And Coalition Forces

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai issued a strong criticism of US and coalition forces for their continued use of air strikes which result in the death of civilians. His comment comes in the wake of a United Nation report which found “convincing evidence” that US-coalition troops and Afghan forces killed 90 civilians including 60 children. Karzai ordered his government ministries to regulate the presence of foreign troops and negotiate an end to “air strikes on civilian targets, uncoordinated searches,and illegal detention of Afghan civilians.” An Afgahn spokesman said the decision was made after his government had “lost patience” with foreign forces who continually rely on air attacks which have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Afghan civilians. The UN finding was based on testimony by eyewitnesses that conclusively proved civilians died not the 25 militants claimed by US military sources.

Naturally, the United States insists its military takes precautions to avoid civilian casualties. A basic problem stems from the Bush decision in 2002 to shift forces away from the task of completely wiping out the Taliban in order to get on with his wild ideas concerning WMD in Iraq. An opportunity was lost to crush Taliban forces and the result is six years later civilians are dying.

Yes, We Killed The Civilians, Admits Afghan Govt.

Two days ago on this blog we reported the death of over 70 Afghan civilians in US air strikes when a US led coalition force supposedly attacked Taliban militants. The American military denied killing any civilians but yesterday, President Karzai admitted civilians had been killed and order the sacking of two key military officers. The officers were dismissed for their involvement in “irresponsible” military operations in western Afghanistan. An Afghan human rights group which visited the scene said at least 76 civilians died although the latest Ministry of Interior figure is 78 including at least 50 children. Originally, US reports were 25 militants had been killed as well as five civilians. The US military will investigate the incident. One wonders if they will also investigate deliberate lying on the part of officers in charge of providing information.

As we noted the other day, reports of killing “militants” by planes flying at hundreds of miles an hour proved impossible during the Vietnam war and are equally invalid today in describing air strike casualties. There will always be terrible mistakes when air power substitutes for on the ground operations.

What Happened?- Civilian Or Militants Dead?

The ongoing war in Afghanistan continues creating ongoing issues as to whether air bombings result in the death of militants or do they cause the death of innocent civilians. On Friday, once again there were opposing views as to who got killed. The Afghanistan Interior Ministry announced: “seventy-six civilians, most of them women and children, were martyred in a coalition forces operation in Herat province.” On the other hand, coalition headquarters claimed the opposite occurred by insisting 30 militants were killed in Shindard province while on patrol. “Insurgents engaged the soldiers from multiple points within the compound using small arms and RPG(rocket propelled grenades)fire . The joint forces responded with small arms fire and an air strike killing 30 militants.”

However, Saeed Shandi, a council member in the town, offered a contrasting view to that of the coalition announcement. “Last nigh at 2:00 a.m. some people were attending a Holy Koran recitation when American started the bombings.” Afghanistan increasingly has all the characteristics of the war in Vietnam when the use of air strikes invariably resulted in the death of civilians. America learned in the 1960s that identifying an “insurgent” while flying hundreds of miles in the sky is rather difficult.

A major factor in Afghanistan fighting is reliance on air strikes which undoubtedly result in mistakes. This is not the way to win the hearts of ordinary people.

Turkish Planes Blast Kurd Rebels In Iraq

Turkish planes carried out the first air attacks on Kurdish rebels based in the mountainous regions of Iraq. After the bombing, Turkish artillery opened fire on the area which had just been bombed. According to local Iraq officials, about ten villages were bombed and several civilians killed or wounded. They claim Kurdish rebels were miles away from the target. Turkish planes also dropped leaflets urging members of the Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) to surrender and seek an amnesty. An amnesty law was adopted in 2003 under Article 221 of the penal code which promises no punishment to Kurds who surrender provided they did not take part in military action against Turkish forces. An intelligence officer told the Turkish newspaper, Zaman, that among those who surrendered about one-third were Kurds who simply hoped they could get a better job by pretending to fit the qualification for amnesty.

Bombing villages in mountainous areas rarely leads to anything other than fostering hatred among innocent civilians. This policy has never worked and certainly has proved ineffective in Afghanistan. The concept of an amnesty makes sense, but it must include those who did take part in military action. To only grant amnesty to people who were not involved in armed attacks will not result in encouraging militants to surrender. There also has to be an active program of providing jobs and other benefits if Turkey is to get those in the mountains to come down and become active participants in ordinary life.

NATO Planes Blast Friendly Workers–Again!

A recurring problem for NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan is there continual failure to distinguish between friendly and unfriendly forces in the nation. NAT) planes on the search for the Taliban, blasted a target that contained people engaged in an American work project. After the bombing ceased, 14 Afghans were dead. According to Sayed Jalili, director of the Kabul-basec construction company, “I don’t think the Americans were targeting our people. I’m sure it’s the enemy of the Afghan who gave the Americans the wrong information.” This has been the deadliest year for the Afghan people since being liberated from the Taliban with 6,000 people killed, including over 800 civilians. NATO command sources insisted they were bombing enemy forces, but admitted, “the situation is not clear at all at this stage. We are carrying out the investigation and trying to get a clear picture.” War is confusing and rarely tidy. Combat operations usually entail a degree of ambiguity, but NATO forces have repeatedly killed innocent people and, in so doing, caused great stress among Afghan leaders who really want to cooperate with their allies, but not at the price of their own people.

The bottom line is that NATO and foreign troops in Afghanistan have come under scathing criticism since the beginning of the year for carrying out air strikes based on poor intelligence that have resulted in the death of many civilians. Perhaps, it is time to re-evaluate the use of so many air attacks.

Bush Sells Turkey On “Surgical Strike” Strategy

Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey concluded his Washington visit with President Bush pleased with the cooperation he received from the United States. The two nations agreed to share “actionable intelligence ” ideas that would assist Turkey in any military operation it began against Kurdish rebels operating out of northern Iraq areas. Bush affirmed his opposition to the actions of the Kurdish Workers Party(PKK) and pledged cooperation with his NATO ally. The leaders agreed on “limited surgical operations” which means American military intelligence will assist their Turkish counterparts in identifying areas serving as bases for the PKK and allowing Turkish planes to bomb. Some critics in Turkey believe Bush is attempting to divert a land invasion by supporting air attacks on Kurdish bases.

There are fundamental flaws in the Erdogan/Bush agreement. PKK rebels are hiding in mountains which makes it extremely difficult for air attacks to have much effect. Bush continues believing in air attcks against guerrilla forces although most military experts doubt that is an effective strategy. Ironically, the Erdogan government has probably taken more positive action to assist its Kurdish population secure political right and to improve living conditions than any prior Turkish government. This is a problem for the Kurdish government to handle, not the Turkish government. Rebels are operating from Kurdistan and therefore its government has to become more pro-active in dealing with this internal situation.

Is Darth Vader Dick Cheney Preparing Iran Attack?

Rumors are swirling around Washington D.C. of secret plans by the vice president to get America embroiled in a war against Iran. Cheney has been examining potential strategies which would be used in attacking Iran’s nuclear development. One report being heard is Israel would launch an air attack on the Iranian nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz which most probably would result in an Iranian response. According to those close to Cheney, he believes such an Iranian response would enable the United States to launch massive air attacks claiming Iran had begun the war. there is speculation the September 6, 2007 Israel attack on a Syrian “nuclear facility” was a test run for this plan. Neither Israel nor the Bush administration has openly acknowledged there was such an attack.

Military officials repeatedly have warned such an attack would result in economic, political, and psychological chaos in the world. As thousands of Iranian and Hezbollah rockets and missiles reign down on Israel it would end any possibility of resolving the Palestinian-israel conflict. Iran would attempt to block oil shipments from the Arabian peninsula creating even more chaos. Thousands of suicide bombers would flow into the Middle East creating even more turmoil. The Egyptian government would come under great pressure from its Muslim fundamentalists to do something while General Musharraf in Pakistan might even face a military overthrow of his government by incensed Islamic officers. President Bush continually accuses Iran of seeking to create WWIII, but an attack on Iran would result in global warfare.

Mitt Romney, a candidate for the presidency was asked his reaction to attacking Iran without congressional approval and he indicated the need to study whether or not a president can initiate war without consent of Congress. One would assume he has at least once in his life actually read the Constitution. It states under powers of the legislature: “To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning capture on land and water.”