Where it may have begun —
How it may have been sustained —
Where it may have ended this day —
Related on BackChannels
Where it may have begun —
How it may have been sustained —
Where it may have ended this day —
Toward the end, a hideous accident:
At least 40 civilians attending a wedding party were killed in a raid conducted by Afghan government forces and supported by US airstrikes on a Taliban hideout in southern Helmand province, Afghan officials said Monday.
Abdul Majed Akhund, deputy provincial councilman, said that the majority of the dead were women and children. Twelve civilians were also injured.DW. “Dozens killed as US-backed strike hits Afghan wedding.” September 25, 2019.
The Modern West has had little issue investigating and owning up to its own woeful atrocities, including the accidents it may sanitize with the term “collateral damage”.
In fact, it or the liberal democratic populations represented by EU/NATO and assorted coalitions of the willing, may be too good at wearing the mea culpa shawl of self-shaming, but that’s another matter.
For Afghanistan, and for the most part, the damage done has been much less accomplished by the “collateral damage” of the west than by the deliberate design, decision, and application of violence by the Taliban and similar actors bent on the absolute and comprehensive political and social control of targeted states and their resources.
Using Russian-supplied arms and material, Afghanistan’s Taliban have continued a program of bombings and related attacks designed to destroy Afghani civilians without discrimination, forestall peace, discourage and impede elections, and bring general ruin to local economies and lives while proving themselves handsome, protective, strong, and wise.
. . . .
True: a malign narcissism has a great deal to do with the absolute political and social control sought by the Taliban and so many others who at times conflate themselves with God and the work of God’s will on earth.
As has taken place as part of doctrine in Syria — impossible to deny — not even hospitals are sacred as sanctuaries of the ill and injured.
The Taliban’s demonstrated and backfiring track record in lunacy — and that of other extremist organizations operating in Afghanistan — may finally be reaching them through the mirroring World Wide Web where high-integrity reportage faithfully conveys the character of consistently cruel, crude, and very nearly mindless violence that will in the end have changed nothing but perhaps themselves.
Most who have followed the Afghanistan story in its greater context will recall the story in which Mullah Omar took revenge on a Russian tank crew and its commander — hung from his own tank barrel — for the rape of local village girls. Omar would flee that heroic ending to raise an army to battle back the Soviet invasion of the state — and America’s CIA would step in with the delivery of shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles to the Mujaheddin for the comparatively cheap killing of the Soviet’s brutal and expensive helicopter gunships.
The Red Army — as has the Russian Army elsewhere and more recently — brutalized Afghanistan.
In cinema (and released before the Soviet was finished) —
As Soviet Russia’s army retreated from Afghanistan, America’s intervention may have been drawn back as well. Afghanistan had been returned to native power.
Ah, but there was that other theme: Islam.
Arab culture, fortune, and power — and two Sunni extremists.
Ayman al-Zawahiri may be read about here:
Osama bin Laden — here:
One may tire — and perhaps should — of the medieval contests between too many “kingdoms of heaven” and the repeated conflations — Christian, Jewish, or Muslim — of men with God (although Judaism has been always adamant about the separation of the Divine from the mortal).
In any case, among my acquaintance, one stands out as expert on “civilizational narcissism” — his term — and the Taliban. Here is his book from 2010 —
It may be said that all were warned but with one element missing: Soviet / post-Soviet Moscow / Moscow-Tehran.
The Soviet / post-Soviet Arc of Tears (Crimea, Syria, Yemen, for a start) hews to and encourages the despotism (“political absolutism”) so far expressed by the Taliban in Afghanistan but also well on display elsewhere in the world where the deepest and most criminal representatives of civilizational and political narcissism have either set themselves or prevailed.
BackChannels suggests the Taliban may have been taken in — duped — by Russia via al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden in the shadow of the Cold War and reshaped for revenge on the west with the intent of sustaining a blind and madding authoritarianism in the world, all the better to plunder it.
President Donald Trump says the U.S.-Taliban talks on ending the fighting in Afghanistan are “dead,” deeply unfortunate wording for the Afghan civilians who have been killed by the tens of thousands over almost 18 years. Many fear his cancellation of negotiations will bring more carnage as the U.S. and Taliban, as well as Afghan forces, step up their offensives and everyday people die in the crossfire.
“We just want to go back to our homes. We don’t ask for much, but this war has made our lives impossible and has torn apart our community.” he says. “We cant go home due to the risk of drones, but after so many years of war, our community is now at war with itself – there doesn’t seem to be any end to bloodshed.”
One could argue that the Taliban is increasingly in a position to outlast the United States and claim a decisive military victory. If today’s Taliban were as cohesive as the Taliban that managed to control Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, that might well be true. But it’s not.
Today’s Taliban includes a variety of factions, such as the prominent Quetta Shura and Pakistani-supported Haqqani network. Beyond these internal divisions lie further divisions among the broader Afghan insurgency, which includes the emerging Islamic State Khorasan (IS-K). Our research in the Journal of Global Security Studies argues that powerful insurgent factions may seek peace to forestall their own decline when rival insurgent factions are increasing in power.
This weekend, Afghanistan will hold its fourth presidential election since the Taliban government’s fall in 2001. Since the U.S. and Taliban’s recent breakdown in negotiations, the Taliban have killed more Afghan civilians than at almost any other point since the beginning of 2018, as you can see in the figure below. The Taliban has killed at least 58 civilians in the last eight days alone.
And that may be about to get worse. In earlier presidential elections, the Taliban has tried not to kill civilians when they go to vote. That may change this weekend.
The U.S. envoy’s team would not elaborate Friday on the nature of the resumed discussions in Doha, but they come after a series of deadly Taliban attacks across Afghanistan. As CBS News correspondent Charlie D’Agata reports, while the Taliban may be talking peace with the U.S., they’re still waging a brutal war on Afghan soil.
A security camera captured dramatic video of a car bomb attack in Kabul on Thursday. The blast near the U.S. Embassy killed one American service member and another NATO soldier, as well as at least 10 civilians.
KABUL — Iran and Russia have stepped up challenges to U.S. power in Afghanistan, American and Afghan officials say, seizing on the uncertainty of future U.S. policy to expand ties with the Taliban and weaken the country’s Western-backed government.
The moves come as tensions have flared between the United States, Iran and Russia over the conflict in Syria, and officials worry that the fallout could hurt Afghanistan’s chances for peace. For years, Iran and Russia have pushed for a U.S. withdrawal.
I am tired of the people, the area, the district and the province. When I go to Wardak, I feel so tired. But what to do? I have to go there and visit their graves. It is not only one person — it is 12 family members. My four daughters, three sons, my wife, and four cousins. I lost all in one day when my house was bombed by the Americans.
I can never forgive the Taliban, but if the peace deal can stop the bloodshed, I can accept them to the country. I don’t want other families to go through what I have.
“Yes, we have reached an agreement in principle,” Khalilzad said, according to TOLOnews. “Of course, it is not final until the US president (Donald Trump) agrees on it. So, at the moment, we are at that stage.”
News of the agreement comes as violence has spiked in Afghanistan, with the latest attack occurring just hours after Khalilzad’s interview. A car bomb targeted an Afghan police station in the capital Kabul on Monday, in an area close to the heavily fortified compound where many foreign embassies and international organizations are based,
“He became known for his ability to weave through warring tribal factions and his ability to quickly get senior Afghan officials on the phone or to summon them to his office, including President Hamid Karzai,” The New York Times reported during Khalilzad’s stint as ambassador to Afghanistan — the country of his birth — from 2003 to 2005.
Robin Raphel, a former assistant secretary of state for South Asia, says Khalilzad’s appointment is a sign that the Trump administration is getting serious about a political solution to America’s longest war.
The U.S. soldier who died Thursday in Afghanistan from wounds in a bomb blast was a compassionate leader whose troops say he always encouraged people who are struggling to ask for help.
Now those soldiers are grappling with the loss of Sgt. 1st Class Elis A. Barreto Ortiz, 34, from Morovis, Puerto Rico, who left behind a wife, two sons and a daughter.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghan reconciliation, is on the verge of an agreement with the Taliban that would pave the way for the withdrawal of some 14,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan in exchange for guarantees that the war-wracked nation would not be used as a haven for international terrorism, according to diplomatic sources.
KABUL, Afghanistan — At first, the man was just walking across the street. Then he was running for his life. He managed four steps before the blast from the car bomb caught him.
Since then, the last few seconds of Akbar Fazelyar’s life, captured on video during a Taliban attack on Sept. 5, have become one of the most scrutinized moments in Afghanistan, slowed down and watched frame by frame on countless mobile phones and computer screens.
The vote, the fourth since the Taliban’s removal from power by a United States-led coalition in 2001, comes as heavy fighting between the armed group and government forces has led to a spike in the number of civilians killed.
The Taliban has already threatened to target election rallies and polling stations, while in recent weeks the US-backed Afghan forces have stepped up air and ground attacks, raising fears of further casualties.
Last week alone, more than 150 people were killed, according to Al Jazeera tally, in Taliban attacks, US drone strikes and raids by Afghan government forces.
The air strike was aimed at destroying a hideout used by Islamic State militants, but it accidentally targeted farmers near a field, Afghan officials were quoted as saying.
“On yet another deadly day in Afghanistan, once again it is civilians who bear the brunt of the violence involving armed groups, the Afghan government, and their backers in the U.S. military,” Amnesty International said in statement.
Our principal failure, in my view, was our refusal to deal with Pakistan’s double game. Even the accelerated drone attacks in western Pakistan under the Obama administration, which were somewhat effective in the fight against al Qaeda, failed to a large extent to target the Taliban, the Haqqani Group, or Hezbe Islami.
The United States also signaled a lack of military resolve. The Pentagon made incautious public statements about the reduction of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan. At one point, the combat power of the United States dropped to a single brigade, even as the insurgent threat was rising. The evident lack of U.S. commitment gave Pakistan a green light to step up the Taliban and insurgent offensive in late 2005 and early 2006.
Stecklow, Steve, Babak Dehghampisheh, and Yeganeh Torbati. “Assets of the Ayatollah: The economic empire behind Iran’s supreme leaders (“Khamenei controls massive financial empire built on property seizures”). Reuters Investigates, November 11, 2013.
The militants had taken hospital patients as hostages, officials said, while electricity and most telephone services were cut and residents were sheltering in their houses.
The “large scale” attack was “progressing smoothly,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed in a series of posts on Twitter.
On 17 September 2019, two suicide bombings killed over 48 people in Charikar and Kabul, Afghanistan. The first attack occurred at a rally for presidentAshraf Ghani which killed over 26 and wounded over 42. Ghani was unharmed in the incident. The second bombing occurred in Kabul near the US embassy. In this incident 22 were killed and another 38 were injured in the explosion. Children and women are among the dead and wounded in both attacks, also multiple soldiers were killed. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, and said they will commit more attacks to discourage people from voting in the upcoming presidential elections.
Wikipedia. “Zalmay Khalilzad” (U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation).
As told to BackChannels —
Tirah Valley, Khyber Agency, Pakistan, Around 2013-2015 — The operation had started against so-called militants in the valley. The army had only a little bit earlier ordered a general evacuation in advance of the fighting, so all who were not Taliban were still leaving their animals, businesses, and homes in a hurry.
The Taliban were there and would stay to fight the army.
I don’t know how many Taliban or army soldiers died in that fight, but there was an old man above 70, older than usual for the region, who told me that most were strong enough to cross the mountain but due to having less energy or power, he had thought he might be unable to cross the mountains with his daughter who could not walk. Still, he would try. He would carry her on his back.
The old man continued, “I took her on my back and started climbing the mountain, but after reaching some height, I had to stop.
“She knew what was happening — or what was going to happen — and she started to cry.
“– Baba, don’t you know what the army or Taliban will do to me?
“What do you want me to do?
The old man started crying.
“I buried her in the mountain.”
It was cold the day the old man told me his story. He had no jacket or socks.
BackChannels would suggest that memories live in aural and visual and other sense-based impressions, i.e., what we most remember are moments, not the day and hour of their making or what we had for breakfast in proximity to them — and then what makes a “moment” a long-term memory may be its elevated emotional aspects, and that made so by ethical, moral, or sensual experience.
The Tirah Valley has seen more than its portion — however God may determine these things — of conflict violence. Because the day and hour were indefinite in the memory of the blog’s source, BackChannels may place it (as a suggestion) around March 25, 2015 in light of The New York Times headline, “Pakistani Army Begins Offensive to Drive Militants from Tirah Valley” (Ismail Khan). However, Pakistan Armed Forces fighting with the Taliban in association with the Tirah Valley predates the 2015 offensive.
For those living with peace, security, and perhaps some prosperity, there may be “good war stories”, ever courageous, inspiring, and noble, but, really, there are no good war stories that are not also deeply tragic and frequently disturbing — but that’s why we read them and, perhaps, choose to evolve.
Killed: 144 (minimum as reports vary)
Predominant Age: 12-16.
Pakistan’s Black Date appears set in myriad videos — news reports, memorials, reenactments.
What is too little?
What is too much?
And what has one to add to so heinous a crime — some “big men” armed to the teeth creeping through a cemetery to climb over a wall and enter a sanctuary for decent education with the sole purpose of butchering children in their studies?
These are my three select — a day-after news report; a reenactment with a song (English in subtitles); and a children’s memorial:
Imaginative, Jackson’s movie, but this is more the history I know:
4> Definitely not yesterday’s news:
Forget about books and movies. Put on the thinking cap. What comes together for you from well known history and the high-integrity independent press?
The 2005–06 documents reveal that Iran offered bounties for the murder of NATO soldiers and members of the elected Afghan government. Later reports indicated that this policy continued into 2009, when Iran was working in tandem with al-Qaeda to spread the Taliban’s reach in southern Afghanistan. This should hardly come as a surprise: The 9/11 Commission reported that Iran began training al-Qaeda jihadists through Hezbollah in 1992 and collaborated with al-Qaeda on the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia in 1996. To this day Iran maintains an al-Qaeda network on its territory, which supplies weapons, money, and fighters to Jabhat an-Nusra in Syria.
# # #
The US administration must candidly introspect whether it is the St John Philby type converts in its policymaking circles, sheer naiveté and skin-deep understanding of the regional dynamics or pure political expediency that the mother load of jihadists still survive and thrive in Pakistan. What the era after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan portends for that country and South Asia will depend a lot upon such soul searching.
taliban with weapons roam there freely…….it seems that they are making another sawat or waziristan……no one can ask them about their activities even the tribal chief nawab is silent…..and just 100 away from killa saif ullah there comes loralai city ,a city of 5 lac population most people educated, the in loralai a young man was beheaded by taliban his video of slaughtering also came on scene…there was a letter with his body in which they had warned the people that whoever speaks against taliban would see the same fate
Posted verbatim as received 9/26/2014.
After more than a decade of effort, Taliban continue to promote and produce mayhem and murder in many districts of as yet unsecured frontiers in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The miscreants remain “hard to see” until they show up, and Out There they continue to show up in force and continue demonstrating ability to choreograph their assaults.
Pakistani Dawn reported a decapitation in Loralai back in June of this year, and I cannot tell whether the correspondent had that to rely or something new.
Taliban have beheaded 12 civilians and torched some 60 homes in an assault on security forces in the eastern Ghazni province, an Afghan official said.
The province’s deputy police chief Asadullah Ensafi said the Taliban have attacked several villages over the past week in the Arjistan district.
http://www.dawn.com/news/1112630 – ” Decapitated Body Found in Laralei” – 6/14/2014.
http://www.satp.org/satporgtp/countries/pakistan/Balochistan/index.html – “Balochistan Assessment – 2014”.
# # #