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Afghan ‘super-surge’ means more slaughter

Barack Obama may have won the Nobel Peace Prize last week, but his war in Afghanistan and Pakistan is going disastrously, writes Simon Assaf

Issue No. 2173

A series of deadly bomb attacks in Pakistan and demands from the US military for a “super surge” in Afghanistan underline the growing instability as the “war on terror” enters its ninth year.

Pakistan is now experiencing an “American problem” in the tribal regions that were overrun by Pakistani troops earlier this year.

The successful offensive in the Swat Valley, a strategically vital region north of the capital Islamabad, has become a bloody quagmire for the Pakistani army.

Insurgents have targeted military convoys with a series of deadly roadside bombs.

They have also unleashed an offensive with a high profile raid on Pakistani army headquarters in Rawalpindi.

The raid led to the unprecedented statement by Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, who declared that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons stockpile was “safe”.

Now the US is desperately pumping in some $7.5 billion to shore up the Pakistan’s ailing economy.

Meanwhile, US troops have retreated from a key province in eastern Afghanistan one week after a mass attack by insurgents overran two bases.

Local fighters are said to have raised their flag over the bases in Kamdesh, a key outpost along the border with Pakistan.

The withdrawal from the strategic mountainous region has become a key plank of a new strategy set out by General Stanley McChrystal.

The new US commander wants to pull all occupation troops back to urban areas in a move that seriously undermines the “Af-Pak” strategy set out by Barack Obama.

Insurgents

That strategy sought to trap insurgents between occupation troops in Afghanistan and the Pakistani army in the south.

McChrystal’s move does not signal the end of the violence, but is a prelude to a new “super surge”.

As news of Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize was announced last week, the US military demanded he deploy a further 60,000 US troops in Afghanistan.

This is on top of the 65,000 already in the country.

As Canada and other Nato countries set dates for the withdrawal of their troops, the pressure is mounting on the US and Britain to make up the deficit.

Gordon Brown has promised to send another 500 troops, even though there are severe pressures on the military.

But despite the growing number of British troops heading into the battlefields, the force is still too small to make a real impact on the growing insurgency.

Both the US and British armies are facing mounting losses in an increasingly bloody conflict.

The number of British troops seriously wounded in Afghanistan this year has already surpassed that for the whole of 2008.

Some 57 troops were badly injured in the first two weeks of July alone. Equipment is failing and weapons are jamming.

US troops are now complaining that their modern rifles can’t cope with the Afghan heat and dust.

According to some reports many of the soldiers killed in the battle of Kamdesh died after their rifles overheated.

The retreat from Kamdesh and other border areas comes on the eve of a major offensive by the Pakistani army on the restive border province of South Warizistan.

Afghan insurgents use South Waziristan as a safe haven to launch attacks on occupation forces.

Now there are fears that Pakistani insurgents are slipping into southern Afghanistan to escape the planned Pakistani army offensive.


Pakistan

There is growing concern in Pakistan over army reprisals in areas formerly under the control of the Pakistani Taliban.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan two mass graves have been discovered in the Swat Valley.

The people buried there are said to be the victims of army death squads. The bodies of executed prisoners are turning up by the sides of roads, on bridges and outside homes.

Over 400 corpses, many with signs of severe torture, have been discovered. Some of the victims were known to be alive when they were captured.

One senior Taliban commander was paraded through the streets before he “died of his wounds” several days later.

Many of the dead are believed to be innocent people seized at army checkpoints.

For news on the continuing crisis in Iraq go to » Violence continues in Iraq


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Tue 13 Oct 2009, 18:11 BST
Issue No. 2173
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