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Message of Felicitation of the Esteemed Amir-ul-Momineen on the Occasion of Eid-ul-fitre
Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. There is no god but Allah and Allah is the Greatest, Allah is the Greatest. All praises are for Allah (SwT).
Praise be to Allah Who did help His Servant (the Holy Prophet); honored His Army, Defeated the Confederation single-handedly; peace be on the Prophet after whom there is no prophet (to be advented). Having said this, I would like to proceed as under:
,I extend my (heart-felt) felicitation to the Afghan Mujahid people and to all Islamic Ummah on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitre and, meanwhile, I congratulate you all for the continuous victories in Afghanistan. May Allah (swt) accept in His Sight your fasting, Jihad and your sufferings in the cause of the Truth.
Availing myself of this opportunity, I want to share with you my views as regards some vital matters as follows:
Regarding the Current Situation of Jihad:
The enemies of Islam and Afghanistan had envisioned that the current year would be crucial for defeat of Mujahideen and for obtainment of the wicked goal of the enemy. Even they had raised hopes and expectations in their people and the world about a fundamental change in the status quo. Praise be to Allah, all their plans transpired to prove contrary to their calculations and assessments. The enemy sustained more casualties in soul and equipments this year in comparison with last years. With the passage of each day, the Mujahideen become better familiar with the enemy tactics; they are gaining access to hardware which is instrumental in causing greater losses to the enemy. All people are now witness to the tremendous life casualties of the enemy as well as the downing of their aircrafts. Furthermore, the growing cooperation of people; the infiltration of Mujahideen in the ranks and files of the enemy, the expansion of the area of Jihad to every part of the country; the growing escalation in daily operations and availability of accumulated tactics; the extermination of high level officials of the enemy both in north and south of the country, all these give us a good news of an imminent victory and a bright future.
If we compare the achievements of the current year’s operations which are christened as Badre with those of the previous years; if we ponder over the constant defeats and unprecedented moribund position of the enemy, we can reach a clear picture that points to the high morale of Mujahideen and an all-sided descent of the enemy.
At world level, the status quo is not pro-America as it once was in the past. The American economy is facing terrible problems more than before. People of NATO member countries are coming round to know realities of the war of Afghanistan with the passage of each day. A strong stance of opposition to this meaningless war takes roots in the minds of the public. The participant countries in the invading coalition withdraw their forces ( from Afghanistan) one after another. The regional countries and people have fed up with the gunboat policy of America. In brief, this situation indicates to the victory of our sacred Jihad.
Regarding the Withdrawal of Limited Contingents of American Forces from Afghanistan:
First of all, I would like to say that limited withdrawal of the invading forces can in, no way, solve the issue of Afghanistan. The Jihad will continue unabatedly, because superficial measures further complicate the issue of Afghanistan and can produce harmful consequences. The invading forces should seek a lasting and convincing solution to the issue by immediately withdrawing their forces.
Regarding American Permanent Bases in Afghanistan:
The Afghan nation is not ready to accept establishment of American permanent bases here. The Afghans consider military presence of the invaders whether it is in a greater size or a smaller, as a foreign occupation. If the Americans persist to display arrogance in this regard and do not pay attention to the demands of the Jihadic resistance and the people of Afghanistan, they would face the same aftermath as they are facing now following the decade-long occupation of Afghanistan that even they can’t feel consolation and respite in Kabul despite expenditure of billions of dollars and casualties of thousands of troops.
All people, particularly, the academic, political and influential figures of the country, should reach a common national stance in understanding with the Islamic Emirate against the establishment of bases of the invaders. Thus, they should prove to the Americans that all the nation have, in unison, opposing views about the permanent bases of foreigners in our country. Participation in the process of support for the establishment of the permanent bases, whether it is taking place under the name of Jirga or parliament, would only separate traitors from those committed to the religion and land.
Regarding the Future of the Country:
Our manifesto is that Afghanistan should have a real Islamic regime which is acceptable to all people of the country. All ethnicities will have participation in the regime and portfolios will be dispensed on the basis of merits; will maintain good relations with regional and world countries on the basis of mutual respect, Islamic and national interests. Such dispensation will entirely focus on conduits to recover the spiritual and material losses that have been caused by the three decades-long war. Since Afghanistan has vast arable land, rich mines and high potential of energy resources, therefore, we can make investments in these sectors in conditions of peace and stability and wrangle ourselves from the tentacles of poverty, unemployment, backwardness and ignorance, which give rise to other social and economic problems. Contrary to the propaganda launched by the enemies, the policy of the Islamic Emirate is not aimed at monopolizing power. Since Afghanistan is the joint homeland of all Afghans, so all Afghans have right to perform their responsibility in the field of protection and running of the country. The future transformations and developments would not resemble the developments following the collapse of communism, when every thing of the country was plundered and the State Apparatus damaged entirely. Contrarily, strict measures will be taken to safeguard all national installations, government departments and the advancements that have been occurred in private sector. Professional cadres and national business men will be further encouraged, without any discrimination, to serve their religion and country.
The Islamic Emirate considers the presence of the foreign invading troops in the country; their blind-bombardment, night raids, their brutalities; tortures and tyranny as the main cause of the current imbroglio in the country. The issue would come to an end when the said brutalities are meted out. Similarly, IE considers establishment of an independent Islamic regime as a conducive mechanism for sustainability of religious and worldly interests of the country and the countrymen. For this purpose, every legitimate option can be considered in order to reach this goal. The contacts which have been made with some parties for the release of prisoners can’t be called as a comprehensive negotiation for the solution of the current imbroglio of the country. However, the Islamic Emirate, as an efficient political and military entity, has a specific and independent agenda in this regard which has been elucidated time and again.
Regarding the Coming Bonne Conference:
This conference will not be different from the conference held ten years ago because neither true representatives of the Afghan people have participation in it, nor attention is paid to a comprehensive and real solution of the problems of Afghanistan. Like the previous conferences and Jirgas, this conference is superficial and hypes- oriented. They want to distract the attention of the public of the world from the real solution of the Afghan issue for some time. Only those speeches and addresses are expected here which are already approved by the White House and Pentagon.
We advise all global actors involved in the issue of Afghanistan to seek a real and pragmatic solution of the Afghan issue instead of focusing on factitious and superficial solutions. They should realize the ground realities of Afghanistan; The Afghans have a splendid tradition for the solution of problems and understanding among themselves. But it is in a condition when foreign intervention does not exist. Considering it its legitimate right, the Islamic Emirate wages a lawful struggle for the defense of its religion, country and soil. The only reason for that being the presence of foreign invaders in the land. If the global invading coalition ends occupation of our land, the Islamic Emirate, as a peace-loving and responsible regime, will maintain positive relations with countries of the region and the world.
We advise all countries including the neighbors not to become part of any colonialist game concerning the future of Afghanistan, because it will serve no one’s interests. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as heir of two million Afghan martyrs, is determined to make independent decisions concerning the future of Afghanistan regardless of foreign intervention. Such decisions will be embodiment of the aspirations of the martyrs and our national and Islamic interests, dignity and honor of the Afghans.
We would like to make it clear to all sides that neither the Afghans accept imposed regimes nor such regimes can endure here.
Regarding the Administrators of the Kabul Administration:
We once again call on the Afghans working for the Kabul Administration to desist from the support of the invaders; stand by the side of Mujahideen, shoulder to shoulder, against the enemies of Islam and country. Your joining the Mujahideen will compel the occupying forces to leave our soil. Thus, the sacrifices of our miserable people will come to fruition and our country will become embellished with the ornaments of independence, prosperity and Islamic regime and it will blossom. This is in the interests of all.
To the Vanguards of the Stronghold of Truth:
a) In view of the sensitivities of the prevailing conditions, it is essential that you concentrate on your Jihadic obligations more than before. Many parts of the country have been cleansed from the unholy presence of the enemy thanks to your struggle. Strive to cleanse the remaining parts of the country from the presence of the enemy. Never neglect Jihadic affairs; display strong determination and hammer out efficient and meticulous planning. Make the pleasure of Allah (swt) as your goal.
b) Regard jihad as a main principle. Observe obedience to your Amir and see to implement the codes of conduct of Mujahideen which have been delivered to you. The Jihadic chiefs nominated by us in all parts of the country are your Sharia-based leaders. You should obey them.
c) You should strictly observe precautionary measures which are told you by your leaders. If you commit neglect in this regard and do not take care though you are able to do so, then you will be harmed by the enemy in this world and will be responsible in the Sight of Allah (SwT).
d) You should be very careful about conduct with the common people. Gain the heart of people through good conduct and behavior. Our nation is a Mujahid and Muslim nation. They have made colossal sacrifices in the cause of Islam more than any one else and have passed through sufferings and hardships. You should respect every common individual whether he is an old man, a young , a child or a woman. If you receive any report about a given person, first, make meticulous investigation about him. Never harass people on the basis of fake and biased reports. Pay attention to the good advices and views expressed by the common people. When you face a common man, think if you were a commoner in his place and if you had no weapon, what you would expected him to behave with people. In other words, think if that given person whom you are confronting with, if he was your father, brother or another close relative, how would you behave with him? Mujahideen should always have a conduct of kindness and tenderness with the common man. They should never regard themselves above them.
e) Do not impose bans or issue orders to people by yourselves unless your leadership has instructed you to do so or your provincial chiefs permitted you to do the task. Otherwise, this will defame the Mujahideen and Jihad. It gives reason to the enemy to launch negative propaganda and create a rift between the people and the Mujahideen. Similarly, you should implement the instructions given to you in consultation with the people of the area and the local religious scholars.
f) No one affiliated with the Islamic Emirate is allowed to extort money from people by force. If a Mujahid or any one else is found extorting money from national businessmen, landlords and other wealthy men by the barrel of gun or if they are involved in kidnapping people for ransom, they should be prohibited from doing so. If you managed to detain them, administer to them punishment as per the Sharia rules. ( Remember) protection of life and property of people is one of the main goals of Jihad.
g) To end, I would like to say that you should allot time for reading to enhance your knowledge and ever try to learn something; participate in activities aimed at calling people to the religion; often recite Mathura prayers and hymns; focus on sport , physical exercise and Jihadic training. You should hone your outward and inner self in a manner that conforms to the rules of the sacred Sharia and, among people, lead a life of a holy, God-fearing, beneficent and philanthropist men.
h) Books of code of conduct of Mujahideen have reached every stronghold and province. So all provincial governors should see that Mujahideen under their command have fully absorbed the contents of the book and abide by them.
To University Professors, Students, the Intelligentsia and Writers both Inside and Outside the Country:
Gentlemen! Our future relies on a complete independence. If we do not have independent country, our future will be no more than that of slaves. A master never gives a slave what he chooses for himself. The master always uses the slave as a tool and a gambit. In view of this, in the past decade, the aggressors of our land haven’t completed mega and strategic projects (in our country) i.e. large water dams, a national electricity network and other heavy industries. These projects are vital for our economy. Contrarily, they have openly and secretly flared up geographical and racial conflicts and encouraged the youth to involve in lingual and geographical controversies. This amounts to destroying the future of our country.
It is our and your joint Islamic and national obligation to save the young generation from the impact of the enemy’s dissension-oriented propaganda. As our Mujahid people put up resistance, thanks to the sacred Jihad ,against the political and military occupation of our country by the Westners, in the same vein, it is indispensable that all should robustly block the way of dissemination of the depravity-infested western culture and its harmful ideological impacts on this Muslim and proud country. We should strive devotedly, honestly and with the Afghan characteristic of strong determination to ensure that our future generations live in the embrace of the sacred culture of Islam. God forbid, if we neglect to do so, our brave people will become alien to the bright past of Islam due to the detrimental impacts of the Western civilization. Professors, students, writers and the intelligentsia should individually and collectively wage a practical struggle for obtainment of complete independence; for protection of national and Islamic values and for solidarity of the Afghans. We should remain united for the sake of a common goal and wipe out all hypothetical and superficial gaps. It is the Islamic values that can do away with all lingual and geographical differences among the Afghans. But it requires sacrifice to do that.
To the Public of Afghanistan and the World:
First of all, I thank various strata of the Afghan society who consider the current Islamic Jihad as their religious obligation and have passed through toils and fatigues in the path of Jihad and struggle in the past decade. They extended all-sided cooperation to Mujahideen and fulfilled their Jihadic obligation. But in order to save yourselves from wasting your sacrifices rendered in the past decade, you should further continue the cooperation. If a person is able to wage Jihad physically and with a weapon, he should do his obligation. The men of letters should put to work their pens in the cause of defense of their religion and the well-to-do should spend their wealth in procurement of Jihadic necessities.
We urge the Muslims of the world to support the Mujahideen through their material and spiritual support. Similarly, we urge independent people and personalities of the world to support the legitimate defensive struggle of the Afghans and do not allow the tyrannical arrogant to coerce the oppressed people of the world to become exposed to the wicked and tyrannical motives of the arrogants simply because they use force and violence.
To end I once again extend my felicitation on the occasion of the Eid to all Muslims of the world, to all miserable Afghans, to fighters at the strongholds, to Mujahideen prisoners, to families of martyrs, to all orphans of the cause of Jihad, to widows and all affectees. I call on the wealthy people of the society not to forget the needy and indigent men in these days. At the end, I ask the Almighty Allah to bestow on us the coming Eids in a time that we are living under the shade of a peaceful, independent and Sharia-based Islamic regime. Amen. Peace be on you all.
Servant of Islam, Amir-ul-Momineen Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid بيان أمیر المؤمنین الملا/ محمد عمر مجاهد بمناسبة عید الفطر المبارک لعام 1432 هـ
Kandahar Governor (And former UBC Prof) Tooryalai Wesa released his year end report and address to the Kanadahari people.
Kandahar Governor 1389 Year Brief Activity Report
Dear Kandahar residents, respected elders mothers and sisters, journalists and reporters! Accept my best greetings and wishes.
Initially, I heart fully thank all Kandahar residents, elders, religious scholars, mujahidin, civilized associations members, youth generation, reporters, journalists, authors, brothers and sisters which have supported my leadership in very sensitive circumstances and have given solemn advice for the more progress of the affairs of this provincial government.
Dear Kandahari People: According to yours and my military and civil departments officials advice and with support of international communities in considering the current situation of the province a cooperative comprehensive plan was prepared for superior security, good governance and development in the related aspects which the most parts of the plan as well implemented, so based on the accountability to the people, as part of this plan I would like to give the explanations of my 2nd year employment achievements briefly.
A: Security: • Search Operations launched in Kandahar city and some related districts Arghandab, Panjwaie, Zhari, and Dand which cleared from the existence of the enemies. • For better security of the province, about 600 types of weapons collected from private security companies and submitted to DIAG program. • For stabilizing permanent security, 117 Medrasas and more than 300 Masjids are registered. • National High Peace Council officially gathered in Kandahar in participation of southwest and western provinces governors. • For better security in Kandahar, extra security regions are founded. • For stabilizing a good security in Kandahar, Afghan National Police (ANP) 3 extra Battalions added to the 205 ATAL corps. • For good and permanent security, the number of ANP and National Directorate of Security (NDS) police are augmented, ANP and Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) new brigade which is equipped with modern weapons and arms placed in Kandahar. Also 90 local police for the first time deployed in Nagahan village of Arghandab district and the deployment process of local police is ongoing. • From the beginning of 1389 year 10 suicide bombers explosives prevented around the city and related districts and in various operations about 250 high ranking and low ranking appositions are killed and more than 110 enemies are captured by security forces which were doing guerrilla killings captured by detective departments and more than 2600 roadside bombs are neutralized by security forces. • Afghans led the Clearing Operations in Mah e Nijat area of city. • Making one brigade and two battalions of Afghan National Army.
B: Governance: • Well qualified employees are given jobs in Kandahar related districts 21 for Arghandab, 15 for Panjwaie, 21 for Zhari and 27 for Dand districts. • Candidates are tested with exams for the key directorate parts and for empty posts of the districts. New directors are selected for the most key directorates. • New Shuras are established for Dand, Spin Buldak, Arghandab, Daman, Maiwand and Zhari districts which are representatives for the people honestly. • Based on the agreement with International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF) and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), new contract policy named “Afghan First Policy” made which is authorizing the Government to take relevant taxes from contractors and additionally will have the authority to evaluate and monitor the projects. • New office departments are built for Dand and Arghndab employees and also the new apartments work on progress for their residing. • Dand district became the official district of Kandahar province and process of making official the Takhtapool District is ongoing. • According to a decree of Afghan President, an Amlak commission founded in Kandahar which opened the lands from the people which were non- lawfully possessed by them in this process shops of Manzalyn market destroyed and a school for male and female students is being constructed there. Also 150 jiribs land was freed in Kokaran and hundred jiribs in of land in Dorahi besides, in Shkapoor bazaar hundreds shops and houses obliterated and the land possessed by the government. • Districts employees are paid high amount of salaries by DDP program. • Tens of thousands youths, male and female are working inside the city and related districts, which is a big output in our recruitment process in the local government.
C: Reconstruction and socio-economic Developments: Kandahar University: • Kandahar University Senior Management Team was given the privileges of super scale salary. • Kandahar University website designed and is already online. • University central area all pavements and drains are paved with the total cost of USD 150,000 and ready for use. • Noori Fiber project is practically operating and the university related officials are benefiting of it in financial aid of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). • 75 Solar power producing poles are installed in the university related area with the total cost of USD 100,000. • There are three green planted rooms in Agriculture faculty analyzing farm with the total cost of USD 8,000. • The University central lab apartment foundation started which will totally cost USD 3,000,000. • University Computer lab provided with the total cost of USD 55,000. Also computer and English learning center inside the university completed with the total cost of USD 80,000 and ready for use. • A protocol contract of mutual donations was signed between Kandahar University and American Ball State University in financial assistance of USAID which will be valid up to two years. • Also for Economy, Islamic Studies, Engineering, and Agriculture faculties the partnership methods are developed which will be completed to the end of this year. • In the year1389, ten teachers of Kandahar University were sent to different countries for getting the MBBS and 7 teachers returned back which were abroad for the past two years. • The process of connecting Kandahar University Agriculture Faculty with the Briseno University of United States of America is in progress.
Education: • In the year1398, education Directorate related schools graduated youths are introduced for higher education to different countries, 38 students to Pakistan, 40 to Afghan-American, 20 to India and six students to Turkey, also 10 teachers are introduced for securing MBBS to Japan and 11 teachers in management are sent to Germany. • In year 1389, 18,000 students newly enrolled in schools. • From the beginning of the year 1389, 23 new apartments are built for schools 5 inside the city and 18 others in related districts of the province with total cost of USD 2,150,000. • In Kandahar, 37 schools are equipped with labs with the cost of one million dollars. • By the end of the year1389, Ahmad Shah Baba, Mirwais Mini male/female and Ghazi Amanullah high schools’ renewing process will be finished with total cost of an amount of USD 300,000. • In the year 1389, some 1,300 teachers are officially attending schools which 700 out of 1,300 are female teachers. • A new science center established with total cost of USD 500,000 which is practically being experienced in biology and chemistry sectors. • Kandahar Education Directorate has distributed stationary to all schools classes and a new contract for the stationary is signed for 112,000 students. • 11 closed schools reopened and 38 schools newly established.
Municipality: • Tens of public-welfare projects implemented in Kandahar city as paving of roads, canals constructions, building of cement trashes, installation of solar lights, and repair of drains and renewing of Masjids which could be categorized as following in the sub-districts level: • Ten Projects in first Sub-district • Four projects in second Sub-district • Seven projects in third Sub-district • Fourteen projects in fourth Sub-district • Fourteen projects in fifth Sub-district • Eighteen projects in sixth Sub-district • Seven projects in seventh Sub-district • Six projects in eighth Sub-district • Five projects in ninth Sub-district • Three projects in tenth Sub-district • also 8 Masjids are renewed in Kandahar city 15 other Masjids renewing process are ongoing in addition to districts wise tens other Masjids renewing process are in progress.
Agriculture and Livestock Directorate: • About 8,820 farmers are distributed agricultural-kits one to each farmer, 50 kilograms of improved seeds, and 50 kilograms of chemical fertilizer and the distribution process of 100 kilograms Yorya fertilizer to each farmer is going on inside the city and to the related districts of the province by International Relief and Development (IRD) organization. • The farmers of Dand and Daman districts are distributed 200 tons of improved seeds 200 tons of DDP and 400 tons of Yorya fertilizer. • The foundation of a new apartment is laid for the Agriculture Directorate Kandahar which the expanses will totally cost 6,600,000 Afghani. • 30 Jiribs of land in farm Turnak is separated for planting the sprouts by Agriculture Directorate Ministry Development budget with the total cost of 667,000 Afghani and will be ready for planting. • Kandahar Agriculture Directorate has distributed 43 tractor vehicles in Arghandab, 60 tractors to Spin Buldak and Takhtapool along with all its equipments to 56 Cooperatives with the financial assistance of IRD.
Public Work Directorate: • Kandahar Public Works Directorate as per their plan has cleaned about 110 kilometer drains and cleared 30 cubic kilometers of culvert sedimentation. • 68 Kilometer road is asphalted and 6,000 square meter paved road surroundings as well repaired. • A hundred- ton weighting scale is based in Kandahar Bagh e Ful area to control the weight of heavy vehicles coming through Heart-Kandahar highway. • The work progress of 70 kilometer road pavement is completed in financial aid of Kandahar City Municipality and other donations agencies and tens other roads repairing process are ongoing. • Southern passing bypass road which is about 49 kilometer long started from Shurandam Kandahar-Spin Buldak main road and passed through the villages of Munara and Dand and Panjwaie districts and finally reaches the spot to Zhari Pashmol the Kandahar-Heart highway, 22 kilometer work is finished with the total cost of USD 6,000,000and for the rest the issue negotiated with donors.
Sports Department: • In the year 1389, Kandahar Sports Department has launched 5 football tournaments, 2 volleyball tournaments, one horse running race and two wrestling matches. • A five-day seminar held by sports Department for football players, explaining football background and other football related issues, which successfully ended. • Sports Department office renewed with the total cost of USD 50,000.
Public Health Directorate: • 22 midwives graduated from Public Health Institute in the year 1389. • Kandahar Public Health Directorate has built health centers inside the city and in related districts of the province with the total cost of USD 3,600,000. • The foundation stone for Health institute was laid which will totally cost USD 270,000.
Water and Power Directorate: • By the end of year 1389, the power tax will be computerized and all the customers will be paying taxes through banks. • A 500-kilowatt generator plant was installed for Spin Buldak district in order solve the district residents’ power problem. • A 200-kilowatt generator was installed for Panjwaie district disabled blocks and now their power problems are settled. • A 10-migawatt power generator is provided for Shuarandam industrial factories and for Kandahar city residents. • A 10-migawatt power generator producing work is ongoing.
Rural Rehabilitation and Development Directorate: • Rural Rehabilitation and Development Directorate has completed 525 public-welfare projects in all 16 districts of Kandahar province. • 44 projects are ongoing, 573 projects are newly started, 585 projects contracts are signed and 30 projects contract canceled due to low-quality during the monitoring and evaluation of the projects. The total cost for the above projects are 246, 000,000 Afghani.
Counter-Narcotics Directorate: • A big gathering was held in Arghandab district for the no cultivation of opium and poppy. • Chemical fertilizer and improved seeds distributed in four districts of Kandahar province. • In order to prevent farmers from cultivation of poppy, the farmers were encouraged to cultivate saffron which firstly this trail version was done in Daman district also 8 farmers were sent to Heart province for getting the professional skills in this regard. • There are extensive campaigns launched for the no cultivation of poppy. • Joint meetings held with some organizations for the treatment of addicted in Kandahar which has 20 beds at the same time. • Kandahar Police Headquarters Counter-Narcotics Department has seized 180 kilograms of opium in Ghurak district of Kandahar province which burnt. • In Kandahar Central Jail, there is serious ban on using drugs and all the sources are closed which could have access for providing the drugs to the prisoners. • The districts which have brought the cultivation of poppy to zero for their future encouraging 10 Tractors are bought them.
Water Management: • Arghandab River Irrigation System is kept active which Shawalikot, Arghestan, Zhari, Maiwand, Panjwaie, Dand and Damd districts farmers water their lands with 110 sub-canals and get high value products every year. • Arghndab River gates which control the water are newly repaired. • Dahla Damn Turbine which was not working once, again activated and repaired by its professional staff. • Dahla Damn and Arghandab River water management system is under work, once all canals became clean in that case the water can reach every part easily. • Kandahar province related water management nine gates which plays an important role in water management are repaired which their locations are as following: • Bandar-e-Inherafy, Omomi Sarband, Delawar Khan Kalacha, inside the main canal, Sarband general canal and Baba Wali canal. • Water management Directorate has implemented 74 public-welfare projects in various parts of Kandahar. • In financial aid of IRD and with close cooperation of water Management Directorate 120 Kariz cleaning process is completed.
Economy Directorate: • As per the request of Kandahar related districts’ residents, 205 projects are implemented by PDP. • The following projects completed in various sectors in Kandahar: • 15 projects in Public Health • 16 projects in Agriculture • 30 projects in Education • 40 projects in Infrastructure • 5 projects in Private Sector • 10 projects in Security Sector • 3 projects in Governance and Human Rights • 9 projects in Social Safety The total cost for the above mentioned projects is 40,200,000 Afghani.
Custom Directorate: • In Kandahar Spin Buldak district a survey for the building of a modern custom apartment is completed and the practical work will start soon.
Media and Culture Section: • Tolo-e-Afghan daily newspaper after 89 years printed color and the quality is as well better. • The apartment for Governor House Media Office is constructed also culture Directorate library apartment work progress is about 95% completed. In Cultural parts, the Information and Culture Directorate has held two seminars and 17 Academic gatherings. • About ten books of authors/writers are published so far and ten other will be published very soon. • The renovation process of Hajji Mirwais Khan Nika mausoleum ended, also Sher e Sorkh Shrine, Ahmad shah Baba Grave- Tomb, Shahidano Chuk and Chil Zeny work process is continuing.
• Making libraries and museums. • Women Affairs Directorate: • Donating sewing machines to the women with the budget of Kandahar Governor House.
When I first arrived in Baghdad (back in 2003) at the ABC bureau, a young Iraqi fixer asked me if I liked music. (yes.) Then he asked me if I liked metal. (sure.) Then he started talking abut pretty much every sub-genre of metal ... thrash, hardcore, norwegian (black vs death metal) ... known to man.
Adel knows metal. Baghdad loves metal. Metal is Life.
Thanks to the power of Facebook we connected again (he's married .. Congrats!)
And its still not too loud. Or too old. Turn your laptop to 11....
Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our armed services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan – the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my Administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion. It is an honor for me to do so here – at West Point – where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finest about our country.
To address these issues, it is important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of the passengers on board one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.
As we know, these men belonged to al Qaeda – a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world's great religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents. Al Qaeda's base of operations was in Afghanistan, where they were harbored by the Taliban – a ruthless, repressive and radical movement that seized control of that country after it was ravaged by years of Soviet occupation and civil war, and after the attention of America and our friends had turned elsewhere.
Just days after 9/11, Congress authorized the use of force against al Qaeda and those who harbored them – an authorization that continues to this day. The vote in the Senate was 98 to 0. The vote in the House was 420 to 1. For the first time in its history, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization invoked Article 5 – the commitment that says an attack on one member nation is an attack on all. And the United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda's terrorist network, and to protect our common security.
Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy – and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden – we sent our troops into Afghanistan. Within a matter of months, al Qaeda was scattered and many of its operatives were killed. The Taliban was driven from power and pushed back on its heels. A place that had known decades of fear now had reason to hope. At a conference convened by the UN, a provisional government was established under President Hamid Karzai. And an International Security Assistance Force was established to help bring a lasting peace to a war-torn country.
Then, in early 2003, the decision was made to wage a second war in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq War is well-known and need not be repeated here. It is enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq War drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention – and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world.
Today, after extraordinary costs, we are bringing the Iraq war to a responsible end. We will remove our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of next summer, and all of our troops by the end of 2011. That we are doing so is a testament to the character of our men and women in uniform. Thanks to their courage, grit and perseverance , we have given Iraqis a chance to shape their future, and we are successfully leaving Iraq to its people.
But while we have achieved hard-earned milestones in Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. After escaping across the border into Pakistan in 2001 and 2002, al Qaeda's leadership established a safe-haven there. Although a legitimate government was elected by the Afghan people, it has been hampered by corruption, the drug trade, an under-developed economy, and insufficient Security Forces. Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government. Gradually, the Taliban has begun to take control over swaths of Afghanistan, while engaging in increasingly brazen and devastating acts of terrorism against the Pakistani people.
Throughout this period, our troop levels in Afghanistan remained a fraction of what they were in Iraq. When I took office, we had just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, compared to 160,000 in Iraq at the peak of the war. Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive. That's why, shortly after taking office, I approved a long-standing request for more troops. After consultations with our allies, I then announced a strategy recognizing the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan, and the extremist safe-havens in Pakistan. I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies, and pledged to better coordinate our military and civilian effort.
Since then, we have made progress on some important objectives. High-ranking al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been killed, and we have stepped up the pressure on al Qaeda world-wide. In Pakistan, that nation's Army has gone on its largest offensive in years. In Afghanistan, we and our allies prevented the Taliban from stopping a presidential election, and – although it was marred by fraud – that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan's laws and Constitution.
Yet huge challenges remain. Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backwards. There is no imminent threat of the government being overthrown, but the Taliban has gained momentum. Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe-havens along the border. And our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with Afghan Security Forces and better secure the population. Our new Commander in Afghanistan – General McChrystal – has reported that the security situation is more serious than he anticipated. In short: the status quo is not sustainable.
As cadets, you volunteered for service during this time of danger. Some of you have fought in Afghanistan. Many will deploy there. As your Commander-in-Chief, I owe you a mission that is clearly defined, and worthy of your service. That is why, after the Afghan voting was completed, I insisted on a thorough review of our strategy. Let me be clear: there has never been an option before me that called for troop deployments before 2010, so there has been no delay or denial of resources necessary for the conduct of the war. Instead, the review has allowed me ask the hard questions, and to explore all of the different options along with my national security team, our military and civilian leadership in Afghanistan, and with our key partners. Given the stakes involved, I owed the American people – and our troops – no less.
This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home. These are the resources that we need to seize the initiative, while building the Afghan capacity that can allow for a responsible transition of our forces out of Afghanistan.
I do not make this decision lightly. I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I believe that we must exercise restraint in the use of military force, and always consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We have been at war for eight years, at enormous cost in lives and resources. Years of debate over Iraq and terrorism have left our unity on national security issues in tatters, and created a highly polarized and partisan backdrop for this effort. And having just experienced the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, the American people are understandably focused on rebuilding our economy and putting people to work here at home.
Most of all, I know that this decision asks even more of you – a military that, along with your families, has already borne the heaviest of all burdens. As President, I have signed a letter of condolence to the family of each American who gives their life in these wars. I have read the letters from the parents and spouses of those who deployed. I have visited our courageous wounded warriors at Walter Reed. I have travelled to Dover to meet the flag-draped caskets of 18 Americans returning home to their final resting place. I see firsthand the terrible wages of war. If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow.
So no – I do not make this decision lightly. I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. This danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.
Of course, this burden is not ours alone to bear. This is not just America's war. Since 9/11, al Qaeda's safe-havens have been the source of attacks against London and Amman and Bali. The people and governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan are endangered. And the stakes are even higher within a nuclear-armed Pakistan, because we know that al Qaeda and other extremists seek nuclear weapons, and we have every reason to believe that they would use them.
These facts compel us to act along with our friends and allies. Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.
To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe-haven. We must reverse the Taliban's momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's Security Forces and government, so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan's future.
We will meet these objectives in three ways. First, we will pursue a military strategy that will break the Taliban's momentum and increase Afghanistan's capacity over the next 18 months.
The 30,000 additional troops that I am announcing tonight will deploy in the first part of 2010 – the fastest pace possible – so that they can target the insurgency and secure key population centers. They will increase our ability to train competent Afghan Security Forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans.
Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead. Our friends have fought and bled and died alongside us in Afghanistan. Now, we must come together to end this war successfully. For what's at stake is not simply a test of NATO's credibility – what's at stake is the security of our Allies, and the common security of the world.
Taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We will continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's Security Forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government – and, more importantly, to the Afghan people – that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.
Second, we will work with our partners, the UN, and the Afghan people to pursue a more effective civilian strategy, so that the government can take advantage of improved security.
This effort must be based on performance. The days of providing a blank check are over. President Karzai's inauguration speech sent the right message about moving in a new direction. And going forward, we will be clear about what we expect from those who receive our assistance. We will support Afghan Ministries, Governors, and local leaders that combat corruption and deliver for the people. We expect those who are ineffective or corrupt to be held accountable. And we will also focus our assistance in areas – such as agriculture – that can make an immediate impact in the lives of the Afghan people.
The people of Afghanistan have endured violence for decades. They have been confronted with occupation – by the Soviet Union, and then by foreign al Qaeda fighters who used Afghan land for their own purposes. So tonight, I want the Afghan people to understand – America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country. We will support efforts by the Afghan government to open the door to those Taliban who abandon violence and respect the human rights of their fellow citizens. And we will seek a partnership with Afghanistan grounded in mutual respect – to isolate those who destroy; to strengthen those who build; to hasten the day when our troops will leave; and to forge a lasting friendship in which America is your partner, and never your patron.
Third, we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan.
We are in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country. But this same cancer has also taken root in the border region of Pakistan. That is why we need a strategy that works on both sides of the border.
In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who have argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight, and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani Army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy.
In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interests, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan's capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe-haven for terrorists whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan's democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistani people must know: America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan's security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.
These are the three core elements of our strategy: a military effort to create the conditions for a transition; a civilian surge that reinforces positive action; and an effective partnership with Pakistan.
I recognize that there are a range of concerns about our approach. So let me briefly address a few of the prominent arguments that I have heard, and which I take very seriously.
First, there are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam. They argue that it cannot be stabilized, and we are better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. Yet this argument depends upon a false reading of history. Unlike Vietnam, we are joined by a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognizes the legitimacy of our action. Unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency. And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now – and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance – would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.
Second, there are those who acknowledge that we cannot leave Afghanistan in its current state, but suggest that we go forward with the troops that we have. But this would simply maintain a status quo in which we muddle through, and permit a slow deterioration of conditions there. It would ultimately prove more costly and prolong our stay in Afghanistan, because we would never be able to generate the conditions needed to train Afghan Security Forces and give them the space to take over.
Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a timeframe for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort – one that would commit us to a nation building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what we can achieve at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a timeframe for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan.
As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, our or interests. And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces. I do not have the luxury of committing to just one. Indeed, I am mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who – in discussing our national security – said, “Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.”
Over the past several years, we have lost that balance, and failed to appreciate the connection between our national security and our economy. In the wake of an economic crisis, too many of our friends and neighbors are out of work and struggle to pay the bills, and too many Americans are worried about the future facing our children. Meanwhile, competition within the global economy has grown more fierce. So we simply cannot afford to ignore the price of these wars.
All told, by the time I took office the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan approached a trillion dollars. Going forward, I am committed to addressing these costs openly and honestly. Our new approach in Afghanistan is likely to cost us roughly $30-billion for the military this year, and I will work closely with Congress to address these costs as we work to bring down our deficit.
But as we end the war in Iraq and transition to Afghan responsibility, we must rebuild our strength here at home. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power. It pays for our military. It underwrites our diplomacy. It taps the potential of our people, and allows investment in new industry. And it will allow us to compete in this century as successfully as we did in the last. That is why our troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended – because the nation that I am most interested in building is our own.
Let me be clear: none of this will be easy. The struggle against violent extremism will not be finished quickly, and it extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan. It will be an enduring test of our free society, and our leadership in the world. And unlike the great power conflicts and clear lines of division that defined the 20th century, our effort will involve disorderly regions and diffuse enemies.
So as a result, America will have to show our strength in the way that we end wars and prevent conflict. We will have to be nimble and precise in our use of military power. Where al Qaeda and its allies attempt to establish a foothold – whether in Somalia or Yemen or elsewhere – they must be confronted by growing pressure and strong partnerships.
And we cannot count on military might alone. We have to invest in our homeland security, because we cannot capture or kill every violent extremist abroad. We have to improve and better coordinate our intelligence, so that we stay one step ahead of shadowy networks.
We will have to take away the tools of mass destruction. That is why I have made it a central pillar of my foreign policy to secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to pursue the goal of a world without them. Because every nation must understand that true security will never come from an endless race for ever-more destructive weapons – true security will come for those who reject them.
We will have to use diplomacy, because no one nation can meet the challenges of an interconnected world acting alone. I have spent this year renewing our alliances and forging new partnerships. And we have forged a new beginning between America and the Muslim World – one that recognizes our mutual interest in breaking a cycle of conflict, and that promises a future in which those who kill innocents are isolated by those who stand up for peace and prosperity and human dignity.
Finally, we must draw on the strength of our values – for the challenges that we face may have changed, but the things that we believe in must not. That is why we must promote our values by living them at home – which is why I have prohibited torture and will close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. And we must make it clear to every man, woman and child around the world who lives under the dark cloud of tyranny that America will speak out on behalf of their human rights, and tend to the light of freedom, and justice, and opportunity, and respect for the dignity of all peoples. That is who we are. That is the moral source of America's authority.
Since the days of Franklin Roosevelt, and the service and sacrifice of our grandparents, our country has borne a special burden in global affairs. We have spilled American blood in many countries on multiple continents. We have spent our revenue to help others rebuild from rubble and develop their own economies. We have joined with others to develop an architecture of institutions – from the United Nations to NATO to the World Bank – that provide for the common security and prosperity of human beings.
We have not always been thanked for these efforts, and we have at times made mistakes. But more than any other nation, the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades – a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, markets open, billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress, and advancing frontiers of human liberty.
For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination. Our union was founded in resistance to oppression. We do not seek to occupy other nations. We will not claim another nation's resources or target other peoples because their faith or ethnicity is different from ours. What we have fought for – and what we continue to fight for – is a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and access opportunity.
As a country, we are not as young – and perhaps not as innocent – as we were when Roosevelt was President. Yet we are still heirs to a noble struggle for freedom. Now we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age.
In the end, our security and leadership does not come solely from the strength of our arms. It derives from our people – from the workers and businesses who will rebuild our economy; from the entrepreneurs and researchers who will pioneer new industries; from the teachers that will educate our children, and the service of those who work in our communities at home; from the diplomats and Peace Corps volunteers who spread hope abroad; and from the men and women in uniform who are part of an unbroken line of sacrifice that has made government of the people, by the people, and for the people a reality on this Earth.
This vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue – nor should we. But I also know that we, as a country, cannot sustain our leadership nor navigate the momentous challenges of our time if we allow ourselves to be split asunder by the same rancor and cynicism and partisanship that has in recent times poisoned our national discourse.
It is easy to forget that when this war began, we were united – bound together by the fresh memory of a horrific attack, and by the determination to defend our homeland and the values we hold dear. I refuse to accept the notion that we cannot summon that unity again. I believe with every fiber of my being that we – as Americans – can still come together behind a common purpose. For our values are not simply words written into parchment – they are a creed that calls us together, and that has carried us through the darkest of storms as one nation, one people.
America – we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right makes might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears but the highest of hopes. Thank you, God Bless you, God Bless our troops, and may God Bless the United States of America.
I am honored to be in the timeless city of Cairo, and to be hosted by two remarkable institutions. For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement. Together, you represent the harmony between tradition and progress. I am grateful for your hospitality, and the hospitality of the people of Egypt. I am also proud to carry with me the goodwill of the American people, and a greeting of peace from Muslim communities in my country: assalaamu alaykum.
We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
Its rare to see a maple leaf sticker on a car in Canada. But here in Kabul the red and while flag is slapped on tens of thousands of cars.
These are Great White North junkers, the cars crashed or crumbling, that don't pass the test at home, now given a new life in the Hindu Kush. (Never mind that some probably wouldn't make it over the pass without a push from passengers.)
Word on the street is these second-hand written-off wrecks are bought in bulk, no questions asked by the Canadian government, and shipped to Dubai. Enterprising mechanics cannibalize the ones too far gone, and build one that, at least, moves. The rebuilt wonders then end up on Afghanistan's roads, for one more roll of the odometer.
So why the Maple Leaf Flag, you ask?
One: all those AirCare checks, Canadian Tire tune-ups, and Canucks' somewhat anal-retentive attitude to car care.
Second: Canadians cars typically have both heat, and air conditioning. That's a valuable option in the wild temperature swings of the Afghan year.
Add some quick-thinking second-hand car marketing, and that Maple Leaf makes for a proud sign of quality.
But in this global economy, Canada has competition.
More and more German flags are sprouting on bumpers and windshields.
But before anyone think this is becoming a competition, its important to note one fact:
Canadian forces will soon face an invasion in Kanadhar. And its not clear, if they know quite what to do about it.
Its the first wave of U.S. President Barack Obama's "Afghanistan Surge." Of the 21-thousand new American troops deployed, 15 thousand will be deployed to territory Canadian and British troops were tasked to secure three years ago. This is no mistake. Few would argue the situation in Afghanistan's south is better today.
Militarily, Canada has never had the force strength to secure the vast stretches of Kandahar, from the porous desert border with Pakistan, to village mazes of Panjwaii, to the lush orchards of the Arghandab Valley. Starting with largely soft-skinned vehicles, Canadian convoys have pushed more and more armour on to the roads as bombs increased in number and effectiveness. It took time for old Leopard tanks to be deployed. Promised Leopard 2 tanks, worth more than one billion dollars, still sit in storage. Until just last year, troops didn't even have dedicated Canadian air support.
One solider joked that Rumsfeld said went to war the Army he had, but Canada made it it up as it went along.
Soliders have fought bravely, even heroically. Soldiers have died. Combat operations have successfully swept insurgent villages. But counterinsurgency strategy follows up "clear", with "hold" and "build." Success in these phases, has been decidedly mixed.
Much of Canada's "hold" strategy was built on one of Canada's strengths, the soldier-diplomacy founded in a long history of blue helmet operations. Strong relations, and trust, with the likes of Kandahar's respected Mullah Naquib kept the peace. Then Naquib died. And warm relations with local elders and tribes have been strained as violence, and insurgent intimidation, increased.
Insurgents are actively targeting these local leaders. One Kandahar source tells me at least one elder is killed each week. Rural villages have decided stay out of the fight, helping neither Taliban, nor NATO. In Kandahar City, this month: gunmen brazenly assassinated human rights legislator Sitera Achezai at the gates of her home, three suicide bombers struck the Governor's compound, and others hit the Provincial Council Building while the Chairman, Hamid Karzai's brother, was inside.
Diplomats tell me the building of local security forces has been frustrating. Last year, organized well-trained Taliban stormed the Kanadhar Prison, freeing insurgents, breaking community confidence, and waking up western complacency. While police now take the brunt off all deaths in afghanistan, pay remains low (but improving). Corruption is notorious.
The extent of corruption in Kandahar's reconstruction is rumoured, but yet to be revealed. Accountability for hundred of millions dollars in aid projects is far from transparent. But beyond that, there are questions about Canada's decision to focus on the 50 million dollar, signature, Dahla Dam and irrigation project, while poverty and insecurity drive discontent.
One Kandahari, now in Kabul, told me he's glad Canada's repairing the Dam. He's also happy America built the airport, and the Russians built hospitals, and the Taliban built mosques. And he's starting to see a pattern.
Now to be clear: all this is criticism, not outright failure.
But there is enough concern to send in the Cavalry, in force, in the form of America's mobile armoured Stryker Brigade. They'll take over border patrol in Spin Boldak, and be deployed in Arghandab, Shah Wali Kot and Khakrez; all districts familiar with Canadian combat operation. Some 10-thousand Marines will arrive within weeks, to be deployed through Helmand, an area of British operations.
So far, most concern has focused on the new rules of engagement U.S. forces will observe. Much has been made of the kinder gentler NATO approach, and worries that fire-first cowboys will cause unnecessary civilian deaths and inflame local, growing, anger with foreign presence.
Less has been said about the fact that 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force being deployed has long experience in Helmand, even bettering NATO by ordering Pashto language courses as part of the preparations. The Stryker Bridge has taken a staple of the Canadian forces, the LAV-III light armoured vehicle, and utilized it to secure Mosul and Baqouba in Iraq.
In short there are lessons both NATO and American forces can learn, from their own unique experiences. As Canadian Forces move into the last years of this mission, it is an opportunity that should not be lost.
Whispers of failure too easily become fact by infighting. Long after western forces leave, southern Afghanistan would be left with the consequences, once again.
Its now been more than six years since I started this blog. Six years, to the day, since American troops secured Baghdad's Firdos Square and tore down that statue of Saddam Hussein. And some years since this blog has been really updated.
But today is my first full day in Kabul.
This is a city still very visibly suffering from decades of civil war. Baghdad's airport road was a constant terrorist target; in Kabul, the dangers are deep potholes, crumbling concrete and an airport that makes BIAP look luxurious. Fear is a common element between the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. But while the undercurrent in Iraq was some suspicion, anger and resentment, here in Afghanistan there is remarkable resilience, welcome and optimism. As in Iraq, new towers of steel and glass rise above the ancient streets tangled by traffic. Beyond the city, tribalism of very different sorts. For western troops, a very different fight ... that also grows.
The promise from America is that Afghanistan will be neglected no longer.
And it is an outlook I hope to extend to this blog. Watch out for a new name, new design. And more postings.
Rhino A heavily armored bus, or minibus, usually transporting contractors from BIAP to the GZ
BIAP Baghdad International Airport. There are two sections, the main terminal for civilian flight and a military fterminal.
OGAs Other Government Agencies. i.e. CIA, FBI, various spooks and special forces.
Green Zone Heavily guarded area of closed-off streets in central Baghdad where US, coalition and iraqi authorities live and work. Houses many of Saddam Hussien's former palaces. Other area of Iraq are "red zone". Also known as the International Zone (IZ).
Wiskey Tango Foxtrot WTF. What the f**k?
Hooch Military living quarters in the a/o, from bare floors to barracks
MREs Meals Ready to Eat. High-calorie, high-nutrient, packaged field rations, heated by a chemical pouch. A neverending source of military conversation and constipation.
BCGs Basic Combat Glasses, better known as Birth Control Glasses/Goggles. The standard military issue thick lensed and framed eyeglasses. Damn ugly. or Geek Chic.
A/O Area of operations. Where the war is.
OPSEC Operational Security. Stuff you're not supposed to talk about. Which, depending who you're talking to, can include the acknowledgment of your very existence.
Fobbits (n, pl) now replacing the slur REMFs. 2) orig: The REMFs who travel Iraq by hopping from one Forward Operating Base (FOB) to another. (via Back to Iraq).
SASO Security and Stability Operations. Mounted or dismounted "presence" patrols; sometimes considered "bait" to draw out insurgents. Also SASO World (see link "SASO World is 10 times scarier than any offensive,"