Since February 2009 , this blog and Huib's 3 other Euroblogs are together at:

- In Europa Zu Hause [DE]
- L'Europe Chez Soi [FR]
- At Home in Europe [EN]
- In Europa Thuis [NL]

Monday, November 27, 2006

Pakistani Governor: Britain will never win in Afghanistan.

Sometimes, an evident truth has to be repeated.
The centrist Pakistan DAWN daily cites prominently governor Aurakzai of the Pakistan North West Territories as saying that British (and NATO) efforts in Afghanistan (Helmand, Kandahar and Uruzgan), are hopeless and dangerous.
Aurakzai confirms, that the afghan insurgency is not primarily a Taliban war, bur a traditional Pashtun guerrilla war of defense against intruders. Every day, NATO troops continue to fight their lonely battle in the region, the Taliban will regain more influence and power over the resistance movements.
And Mr. Aurakzai is in an excellent position to know about the issue. The Pashtuns have their bases in his territory. Their training camps, their hospitals etc., are located in the unruly tribal zones in Pakistan.

Britain will never win in Afghanistan: Aurakzai -DAWN - Top Stories; November 27, 2006

By M. Ziauddin
LONDON, Nov 26: The British will never win in Afghanistan by military means and should open negotiations with the Taliban, the Sunday Times has quoted NWFP Governor Lt-Gen (retd) Ali Mohammad Jan Aurakzai as saying.

In an interview given to Sunday Times reporter Christina Lamb, the governor said: 'Bring 50,000 more troops and fight for 10 to 15 years more and you won't resolve it. The British with their history in Afghanistan should have known that better than anyone else.'

He said Nato was ignoring the realities on the ground. The reason Taliban numbers had swelled was because moderates were joining the militants, he added.

'It is no longer an insurgency but a war of Pashtun resistance exactly on the model of the first Anglo-Afghan war,' he said.

'Then too (in 1839-42) initially there were celebrations. The British built their cantonment and brought their wives and sweethearts from Delhi and didn’t realise that in the meantime the Afghans were getting organised to rise up. This is exactly what Afghans are doing today and what they did against the Soviets,' said Mr Aurakzai.

'The British should have known better. No country in the world has a better understanding of the Afghan psyche, and very little has changed there in the past couple of centuries," he added.

Rather than fighting, he said, the only answer was to talk to the Taliban.

Over the past few months, he has negotiated a series of peace deals in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

"This is the only way forward," he said, adding: "There will be no military solution, there has to be a political solution. How many more lives have to be lost before people realise it’s time for dialogue?"

According to the Sunday Times, Nato commanders have questioned Pakistan’s commitment to the war on terror, claiming it is providing a safe haven and training for Taliban. Aurakzai dismissed the criticism.

"We are doing far more than the whole coalition put together," he said.

Pakistan had 80,000 troops in border areas, more than twice as many as Nato, and had lost about 750 soldiers, more than the entire coalition, he added.

"It pains me to hear people accusing us of allowing border crossing," he said.

"We're physically manning the border; our troops are sitting there on the zero line ... Damn it, you also have a responsibility. Go sit on the border, fight like soldiers instead of sitting in your bases.

"The Americans say they can see even a goat on a hillside with their electronic surveillance, so why don’t they tell us where crossings are taking place and we will plug those gaps and kill those people?

"Either they (Nato) are trying to hide their own weaknesses by levelling allegations at Pakistan or they are refusing to admit the facts."
The Americans left a poisonous present to NATO, this year, when they transferred the commando over the Southern Afghanistan operations to the NATO-countries that had been begging for an adult role in the "war on terrorism".
Has NATO even a policy, a strategy, an objective over there?
it is al about power relations within the NATO-alliance.
The leading idea seems to be, that, in doing dutifully their job, the aloofness of the US will subside, everybody wake up out of an ugly dream and NATO will be again as it was in 1988.

The most probable outcome, however, will be that the allies will have to take the blame of defeat and act as scapegoats for the failures of the Bush administration in the eyes of the American public opinion.

Why should our soldiers die for this accumulation of stupidity and selfishness?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Uruzgan: Dutch commandos out of control

A 25 minutes television report "09.11 Zulu" on Dutch television (watch it here at in Dutch) confirms the tensions that exist between the small commando unit at Tarin Kowt and the 1.200 strong Dutch Provincial Reconstruction Team at the same location. The PRT has rules of engagement that strictly forbid an active combat role. The Dutch Government promised Parliament in February 2006, that its PRT operation would be completely separated from the American-led "Enduring Freedom" operation.

But, apparently, at the same time they promised the US and/or NATO that they would join the struggle against "Taliban". But - stealthily. Method: Put local commanders in a position where they have to act aggessively and leave reponsability to them. Afterwards, either Parliament agrees with slice after slice of the salami leading to full-fledged participation in Enduring Freedom, or it doesn't, and then the political leadership washes its hands in innocence.

So it happened that we could see the Dutch Defence Minister, Henk Kamp, visiting the compounds, actually encouraging the Commandos to do their work "aggressively", and at the same time a lawyer of his ministry explaining to the commanders of the Special Forces Unit, that they could not open fire on insurgents, only in case they were directly attacked themselves.

This tongue-in-cheek method may work between state and local authorities in case of "tolerating" hash-vending coffeshops, or illegal brothels - it is absolutely irresponsible , when a military mission is at stake.

The film shows the frustrations of the bearded fighters. Their commanders, avoiding the risk of becoming scapegoats for the Government's hypocrisy, ask a "green light" from The Hague for every action. Thus returning responsability to the supreme command and the political level. Decision making takes weeks and most decisions are negative. In the field, the commandos are harrassed by the American units, with whom they cooperate, to act more aggressively.

Special Forces out of control....
So it is no wonder, that the commandos start risky provocations, exposing themselves in an open field, hoping to be attacked, so that they can "return enemy fire", make prisoners, interrogate them "robustly" (the film shows some examples of intimidation of witnesses and suspects).

Another alarming aspect is the relation that the commandos are developing with the Afghan police ANP. Like in Srebrenica for the local bosnian self-defense units, the Dutch are full of contempt for "those corrupt brigands", lead by commanders who have all their own lover boys with them. One of those boys is shown in the report. All of it seems to be true. Worse still, often local police seem to have an understanding with local insurgents.

The question is: Whom are you fighting FOR? - If you are all alone as an expeditionary force in a guerrilla war, your only chance is to get allies within the population, who eventually will help you isolate the insurgents. If you cannot trust your allies, if you loathe them, you are lost on beforehand.

A perfect example of 'double-dutch' ...
The image of two conflicting policies, personified
  • by the PRT and the SF-Commandos in the field,
  • by, roughly, the Foreign Ministry and the Defense Ministry on Government level, and
  • by the majority of Parliament and a combative minority consisting of VVD and CDA-parliamentarians on the political level,
that we sketched in former posts, is confirmed. It is even worse than we imagined. They cripple each other. Such conflicts are a worse enemy than the enemy in the field.

The "leak" came from alarmed army staff, stuck in a deadlock ....
That is why it is very probable, that it was the Army Central Command in The Hague itself, who "leaked" the story about torturing practices on prisoners in Iraq in 2003, in order to put pressure via the press and via Parliament on Government, resulting in a clear choice for or against participating in "Enduring Freedom", for or against following a "German" peaceful PRT-strategy. Commander in Chief Dick Berlijn couldn't get such a decision from his Minister, nor from NATO (10 days ago), and he must fear for serious disciplinary problems with his Special Forces, that are left bungling. So somebody must have decided, to force a decision this way.

Parliament decided to discuss the problems with Government only next week, after the Wednesday parliamentary elections. Only the VVD-representative pleaded for a complete engagement of the Dutch forces with Enduring Freedom. A large majority seems to be set to put an end to the typical double-dutch situation, in favour of a reconstruction mission.

As one of the commando's in the film says: "If they really want to have a peaceful reconstruction team here, they should send us elsewhere and replace us with a team of social workers. I am here to kill Taliban. We have to show them, who is boss here."

Until the next elections, Mr. Karzai is boss in Afghanistan. Other bosses should leave.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Uruzgan: Dutch Military Intelligence tortured prisoners in 2003 - Is it still going on?

De Volkskrant, Dutch national daily, had a scoop today: Nederlanders martelden Irakezen. ("Dutch tortured Iraqis").
It happened in November 2003, during the 1,5 year Dutch pacification mission in the Southern Iraqi province of Al-Muthanna. Although the Dutch general Command in The Hague was alerted by the Military Police (marechaussée), it did not inform the miltary court, as it should have.
The description of the torturing methods ressembles awfully the Abu Ghreib practices that happened at the same time.
  • Was the Dutch Defence Minister Henk Kamp informed?
  • Is the Dutch Military Intelligence (MIVD) continuing those practices in Afghanistan?
The then Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant-Admiral Kroon, retired, indirectly confirmed the facts.

As the coming 22 November Dutch Parliamentary elections are heating up the political climate in the country, a proposed parliamentary debate (Monday), if it takes place, will be dominated by the need for the Government parties CDA (Christian Democrat) and VVD (Conservative Liberal) to limit the damage to their election results.

The Balkenende Government got in 2002 and in 2005 a faltering parliamentary green light for its military support to the American-British interventions in respectively Iraq and Afghanistan, by declaring its position as "political, not military" support and as an UN-conform pacification-reconstruction mission.

It becomes clear now, that, from the beginning, both missions were also meant as a (stealthy) delivery of unconditional human and material reinforcements to the US (and the UK).

The Dutch MIVD torturing of Iraqis happened in a "Coalition Provisional Authority" facility in As-Samara, capital of the province Al Muthanna. The CPA was the American-led provisional Government of occupied Iraq at that time. It ended in 2004. It was utterly corrupt and its books are still under scrutiny.
Torture: From Iraq to.....>

A possible line of defence for the Dutch Government and its defence minister, is saying that they were not responsible for what the British, who led that CPA facility, did or commanded. That, however, would contradict many statements of the same Government, that the Dutch troops were exclusively governed by the Dutch rules of engagement. Rules that explicitly confirm the Geneva Agreements and make any transgression punishable.

The Dutch Governments' position is the more lamentable, while the same British, in contrast to the Americans, actively pursue in justice their soldiers and officers who have been engaged in torturing or indiscriminate killings. Several severe condemnations of British troops are already definitive.

And in Afghanistan?

....Uruzgan in Afghanistan? >

Since 2004, a mistery-clouded Dutch commando-engagement is going on at the side of the American Enduring Freedom operation in South-East Afghanistan. After the Bush proposals on the legalisation of torturing, and their partial acceptance by Congress, there is no more doubt that those practices have been going on (and still are) in that region.
  • Is Dutch Military Intelligence still engaged in it?
It is more than probable. The Dutch commando units, even after the takeover by NATO, are being advised by an embedded American officer and are roaming around in the neighbourhood of the Dutch "reconstruction" mission at Tarin Kowt in Uruzgan.

Several witnesses confirm, that they are terrorizing the population and provoking engagements with "Taliban". In doing so, they minimize any chance of effective "reconstruction" in the region. It is an outright example of sabotage and American stubbornness.

The Afghan Government of Karzai itself, has objected to those practices. To no avail.

As we said earlier, NATO has become nothing more than an US frontshop for hiring mercenaries to do the dirty work.

Now, there is a clear-cut choice for the Dutch parliament: Either to go overtly along with the Bush-Cheney style terror, or to opt out, as the Poles, the Spanish and the Italians did before, and seek an European platform for military intervention on a civilised basis, and in the interests of collective European security.

[An earlier version in Dutch and Netherlands-oriented, appeared in De Lage Landen and in In Europa Thuis]
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