PARIS (AP) Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai lashed out at the United States, accusing it of making threats in the dispute over an agreement to keep U.S. troops in the country beyond 2014.
In an interview published Tuesday by the French daily Le Monde, Karzai says the U.S. is ‘‘absolutely’’ acting like a colonial power in its attempts to force him to sign the bilateral security agreement by the end of this year. The paper quoted him as saying: ‘‘The threats they are making, ‘We won’t pay salaries, we’ll drive you into a civil war.’ These are threats.’’
"The proposed accord would allow the U.S. to keep up to nine military bases in Afghanistan—and mandate that it fund the Afghan government’s security forces through at least 2024.
"It also allows for the presence of an indefinite number of foreign troops, though Karzai claims the number will be some 15,000 soldiers, the majority of them from the U.S. U.S. troops and contractors working with the Defense Department would be allowed to enter the country without having to obtain passports or visas.
"U.S. troops will be able to engage in combat operations in "mutually agreed" circumstances, including giving support to Afghan forces. Under the agreement, U.S. soldiers are exempt from civil or criminal complaints under Afghan law—jurisdiction will lie solely with the U.S., which has never allowed its own soldiers to face charges in Afghanistan for the killing of Afghan civilians."
The Hamas government of the Gaza Strip has appointed their first female spokesperson to represent the group’s communications with the international media.
The hiring of Isra al-Modallal, a 23-year-old who speaks fluent British-accented English, as a spokeswoman for Hamas is part of a long-running push by the group to present a newer and friendlier face both to its own citizens and internationally.
"We are looking forward to having a different and unique language," said al-Modallal in an interview in her Gaza City office, on her first week in the job. "We will make the issues more human."
Al-Modallal, a divorced mother of a four-year-old girl, does not have her roots in the Hamas movement. Unlike many other Hamas officials, her office does not bear a photo of Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. Along with the Quran, she keeps a book on American history as well.
She takes a slightly different line than many Hamas spokesmen. She refers to “Israel” rather than the “Zionist entity.” She does not consider herself a Hamas loyalist but says she would be equally willing to work as spokeswoman for the rival Palestinian government in the West Bank.
"I am not Hamas. I am a Palestinian activist who loves her country," al-Modallal said.
Damn. New study puts clinical depression as the second-leading cause of disability around the world.
Also, and honestly, unsurprisingly, two of the most depressed countries in the world today are Afghanistan and Palestine, with more than one in five people suffering from this mental disease.
Clearly, it takes a tremendous toll on the physical as well as psychological health of a nation’s people when they are subjected to continuous military occupation, carpet-bombings, terrorism from the sky by unmanned drones, impoverishment, infrastructural destruction, mass imprisonment and torture, and racial inequality and indignity. And what’s more, these people are then blamed as the ones responsible for this utter barbarism being visited upon them by the US and Israel.
Truly, truly disgusting. The people of Palestine and Afghanistan are suffering from a mass form of mental sickness, owing almost entirely to the very social sickness which rests at the heart of our present US/Western-dominated military-economic world order.
Patrick O. Strickland describes the role of the Palestinian Authority in suppressing the struggle for freedom and justice in the West Bank.
THOUGH THE mainstream media coverage of Israel and Palestine often speculates about a third Intifada (which means “shaking off” in Arabic), it’s rarely pointed out that the next uprising will likely seek to shake off the Palestinian Authority (PA) before it turns its sights toward Israel again.
As the perception that the PA is a proxy for the Israeli government gains currency among Palestinians, popular resentment is spreading. “Here we have layers of colonialism and occupation—the Palestinian government is just another layer because it is an Israeli tool,” lamented Ehab el-Shafie, a resident of Al-Am’ari refugee camp near Ramallah.
A former Air Force drone operator who says he participated in missions that killed more than 1,600 people remembers watching one of the first victims bleed to death.
Brandon Bryant says he was sitting in a chair at a Nevada Air Force base operating the camera when his team fired two missiles from their drone at three men walking down a road halfway around the world in Afghanistan. The missiles hit all three targets, and Bryant says he could see the aftermath on his computer screen – including thermal images of a growing puddle of hot blood.
“The guy that was running forward, he’s missing his right leg,” he recalled. “And I watch this guy bleed out and, I mean, the blood is hot.” As the man died his body grew cold, said Bryant, and his thermal image changed until he became the same color as the ground.
“I can see every little pixel,” said Bryant, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, “if I just close my eyes.”
I’ve heard NPR do countless features on political prisoners in China in which the reporters breathlessly recount the harrowing persecution of the victims and unabashedly empathize with them against the government. But I have yet to hear NPR do anything even remotely comparable in their coverage (or rather, complete lack thereof) of the U.S. political prisoner, Bradley Manning, who the UN has identified as a victim of torture at the hands of the U.S. government.
Manning’s alleged crime? Releasing footage to Wikileaks showing war crimes committed by US military forces in Iraq.
Historian Mary Louise Roberts’ new book explores the interactions between soldiers and French women after the U.S. liberated France. She found that American soldiers horrified some towns by having sex with prostitutes in public places, and 1944 saw a wave of rape accusations against GIs.
… On a wave of rape accusations in the summer of 1944, and how the U.S. Army’s response was to frame it as a race problem:
"What happened was the American Army and the [Judge Advocate General] office disproportionately blamed African-American soldiers. Seventy-seven percent of the court-martial prosecutions in the European theater were for African-Americans. They were only 10 percent of the troops. …
"[Trials took place] sometimes three days afterwards. … Many of the men were [hanged] in the towns where the rape, alleged rape, occurred. And the hanging was a difficult thing to do in the land of the guillotine, so the U.S. Army actually brought in their own hangman from Texas. I found a file in the National Archives which dealt with this. … Grisly, very grisly."
What definition of the term includes this horrific act of violence but excludes the acts of the US, the UK and its allies?
Two men yesterday engaged in a horrific act of violence on the streets of London by using what appeared to be a meat cleaver to hack to death a British soldier. In the wake of claims that the assailants shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the killing, and a video showing one of the assailants citing Islam as well as a desire to avenge and stop continuous UK violence against Muslims, media outlets (including the Guardian) and British politicians instantly characterized the attack as “terrorism”.
That this was a barbaric and horrendous act goes without saying, but given the legal, military, cultural and political significance of the term “terrorism”, it is vital to ask: is that term really applicable to this act of violence? To begin with, in order for an act of violence to be “terrorism”, many argue that it must deliberately target civilians. That’s the most common means used by those who try to distinguish the violence engaged in by western nations from that used by the “terrorists”: sure, we kill civilians sometimes, but we don’t deliberately target them the way the “terrorists” do.
But here, just as was true for Nidal Hasan’s attack on a Fort Hood military base, the victim of the violence was a soldier of a nation at war, not a civilian. He was stationed at an army barracks quite close to the attack. The killer made clear that he knew he had attacked a soldier when he said afterward: “this British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.”
The US, the UK and its allies have repeatedly killed Muslim civilians over the past decade (and before that), but defenders of those governments insist that this cannot be “terrorism” because it is combatants, not civilians, who are the targets. Can it really be the case that when western nations continuously kill Muslim civilians, that’s not “terrorism”, but when Muslims kill western soldiers, that is terrorism? Amazingly, the US has even imprisoned people at Guantanamo and elsewhere on accusations of “terrorism” who are accused of nothing more than engaging in violence against US soldiers who invaded their country.
It’s true that the soldier who was killed yesterday was out of uniform and not engaged in combat at the time he was attacked. But the same is true for the vast bulk of killings carried out by the US and its allies over the last decade, where people are killed in their homes, in their cars, at work, while asleep (in fact, the US has re-defined “militant” to mean “any military-aged male in a strike zone”). Indeed, at a recent Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on drone killings, Gen. James Cartwright and Sen. Lindsey Graham both agreed that the US has the right to kill its enemies even while they are “asleep”, that you don’t “have to wake them up before you shoot them” and “make it a fair fight”. Once you declare that the “entire globe is a battlefield” (which includes London) and that any “combatant” (defined as broadly as possible) is fair game to be killed - as the US has done - then how can the killing of a solider of a nation engaged in that war, horrific though it is, possibly be “terrorism”?
In a speech at the National Defense University today — delivered amid controversies over his Administration’s killing of American citizens in drone strikes, efforts to break hunger strikes by Guantanamo Bay detainees who have long been cleared for transfer, and seizures of the call records of national security journalists — Obama admits that “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare”, but fails to offer way out.
The U.S. is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan.
KABUL, Afghanistan — The footless corpse of an Afghan man missing since November was found on Tuesday near the former American Special Forces base to which he was last seen being taken, according to Afghan officials and victims’ representatives.
Afghan investigators said that after his disappearance, the man, Sayid Mohammad, was seen in a video undergoing torture at the hands of an Afghan-American named Zakaria Kandahari, who was the chief translator for an American Army Special Forces A Team stationed at the base, in Nerkh district of Wardak Province. The American military denies that Mr. Kandahari is an American citizen, and said he was no longer working for the A Team when the video was made.
Mr. Mohammad’s body was found about 200 yards outside the perimeter of the Nerkh base, which is now occupied by Afghan special forces after the American unit was removed following protests by Afghan officials, including President Hamid Karzai. Mohammad Hanif Hanafi, the Nerkh District governor, said it was found by laborers digging a water ditch when they unearthed what appeared to be a military-style black body bag.
Relatives of Mr. Mohammad said his corpse was largely complete, except both of his feet had been cut off. They took his remains to the Nerkh district government center in protest. The partial remains and clothing of another missing person were earlier found near the base, family members and Afghan officials have said.
Afghan officials are seeking Mr. Kandahari’s arrest on murder, torture and abuse of prisoner charges, and accuse the American military of shielding him from capture.
FRANCE’S NATIONAL Assembly and Senate have voted to extend the country’s military intervention in Mali. A resolution passed both houses of parliament on April 22. Not a single vote was cast in opposition.
France invaded the north of Mali with fighter aircraft and 4,000 soldiers on January 11. The Mali government and its French benefactor had lost control of the area in 2012 to Tuareg and other national groups fighting for autonomy and independence. Rightist Islamist forces that oppose the sovereignty aspirations of the national minorities then briefly rose to military dominance in the region. It is their presence that served as the key pretext for the French intervention and now for a foreign, military and police occupation of undeclared duration.
Presently, there are some 6,000 soldiers from African countries serving in a “peacekeeping” role in the south of Mali, while French soldiers are engaged in combat with Islamists in the north. Also, what’s called a military training mission by the European Union has some 200 soldiers on the ground and hundreds more providing supplies and equipment.
The U.S. is a key backer of the French intervention. It has significantly boosted its military presence in West Africa during the past decade and recently opened a drone airbase in neighboring Niger.
Ali Abunimah: Boycotting Israel as a stance for justice is going mainstream — Israelis can no longer pretend theirs is in an enlightened country
… When we look back in a few years, Hawking’s decision to respect BDS may be seen as a turning point – the moment when boycotting Israel as a stance for justice went mainstream.
What is clear today is that his action has forced Israelis – and the rest of the world – to understand that the status quo has a price. Israel cannot continue to pretend that it is a country of culture, technology and enlightenment while millions of Palestinians live invisibly under the brutal rule of bullets, bulldozers and armed settlers.