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Crisis in Afghanistan escalates as US deaths pass 1,000

The planned US offensive in Kandahar will not stabilise the occupation of Afghanistan or bring peace to its inhabitants

Issue No. 2203

A grim milestone was reached on 18 May—1,000 US troops have been killed in Afghanistan.

The suffering and death of Afghans is on a much bigger scale, though the occupiers have never bothered to precisely record these deaths.

But the acceleration in US casualties is more shocking than their scale.

The first 500 US troops were killed between late 2001 and 1 September 2008.

This was a period of about 83 months. The second 500 troops were killed from that period to today, which was just over 20 months.

It is in this context that the US-led surge in Kandahar will take place.

The area was the unlucky recipient of one of the first offensives of the 2001 invasion.

Some of the largest and most entrenched Taliban groups are based there.

The offensive is due to start in a few weeks.

US president Barack Obama wants the city “secured” by the start of Ramadan in August.

But renewed fighting across the country shows that this will be no easy task and US strategy will be flung into turmoil once more.

The Taliban has already announced an offensive against foreign forces.

The Nato base at Kandahar came under a sustained attack last Sunday from mortars, rockets and a ground assault.

The base houses some 23,000 troops and personnel.

Divert

British ministers William Hague, Liam Fox and Andrew Mitchell were flying in to the base as the attack took place and were forced to divert to Helmand province.

The previous week insurgents attacked Bagram airbase.

Nato has suffered increasing casualties and is infuriated because it is still unable to hold territory. Surges are turning into retreats as the Taliban fights back to reclaim territories.

In February, Operation Mushtarak was in the headlines. This planned to take a Taliban stronghold in Marjah in Helmand province.

A force of 15,000 US and Afghan troops stormed into the area in March, promising to build roads, install government rule and protect people from the insurgency.

But this effort has failed. Families continue to flee the town, and have done so in bigger numbers in the last few weeks. The Afghan Red Crescent Society in Helmand, said that 117 families had left in early May alone.

Ahmadullah Ahmadi, the head of the society, said, “People are living in very bad conditions.

“There are no jobs, the fighting is starting again, and this situation has compelled the residents to leave Marjah. And we don’t have enough resources to help them.”

While US general Stanley McCrystal claims that the model of Marjah is not about to be replicated in Kandahar, the results will be the same.

Misery

The huge misery that the occupation has caused the people of Afghanistan is immeasurable.

Thousands of Afghans have been killed as the country is ripped apart by night raids, air attacks and tensions fostered by the occupation.

The three British ministers returned from their trip with “inconsistent” messages about whether it is for reconstruction or national security that troops remain there.

Yet they are united in making no plans for troop withdrawal.

The removal of all foreign troops and the handing of control back to the Afghan people is the only way to break this bloody deadlock.


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International
Tue 25 May 2010, 18:07 BST
Issue No. 2203
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