‘Private security firms funding Taliban’
The US Senate Armed Services Committee released the new report on Thursday.
The analysis of 125 companies that paid money to Taliban and other militants for security revealed that Washington has failed to vet or manage those hired to provide security under contracts worth billions of dollars.
According to the report, the contractors did not properly train those hired to provide security in war-ravaged Afghanistan.
“All too often, our reliance on private security contractors in Afghanistan has empowered warlords and power brokers operating outside Afghan government control,” Bloomberg quoted committee Chairman Carl Levin on its website.
The investigation argued that this poses threats to the security of American troops in Afghanistan.
“We must shut off the spigot of US dollars going into the pockets of warlords and power brokers who act contrary to our interest and weakens the support of the Afghan people toward their government,” Levin added.
The investigation comes only weeks after Kabul announced that security firms working in the war-torn country have four months to cease operations and leave.
Press TV / October 8, 2010
Senate Report Says ArmorGroup Funded Warlords
In Bed With the Taliban
“Money is ammunition; don’t put it in the wrong hands,” Gen. David Petraeus warned in an August memo that gave counterinsurgency (COIN) guidance. But apparently the U.S. government is doing just that. Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee released a report detailing examples where the U.S. has fueled warlords connected with the Taliban and Iranian intelligence. This is at least the third government report made public that asserts that weak contract oversight is undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan–in sum, we may be funding the very folks we’re fighting against.
According to the Senate report, its “inquiry uncovered evidence of private security contractors funneling U.S. taxpayers dollars to Afghan warlords and strongmen linked to murder, kidnapping, bribery as well as Taliban and other anti-Coalition activities.” The report delves into numerous problems connected to the more than 26,000 private security personnel in Afghanistan, an estimated 90 percent of whom are funded through U.S. contracts or subcontracts. The issues range from untrained guards to insufficient weaponry to unmanned posts.
08 October, 2010.
Afghans protest US strike in Khost
Hundreds of Afghans have taken to the streets to protest a recent US-led air strike which killed six members of the Afghan security forces in Khost Province.
The crowd chanted slogans like “Long live Islam” and “Death to America” as they carried the bodies of the victims to the residence of Khost Governor Abdul Jabbar Naeemi on Friday.
The rally came after missiles fired by a US helicopter gunship targeted six Afghan security troops in the Nadir Shar Kot district of Khost.
Although the US-led forces say they attack militant positions, the air and ground attacks by foreign troop have been frequently claiming the lives of civilians and Afghan officials.
Afghan officials including President Hamid Karzai have repeatedly condemned such operations and have demanded an end to such attacks.
Press TV / October 8, 2010
Participants Say Kabul Meeting Was
‘Brainstorming Session,’ Not Taliban Talks
Participants who attended a private conference in Kabul this week have denied media reports that it involved Afghan and Pakistani officials meeting with members of the Taliban.
Former Taliban envoy Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who has a keen understanding of the inner workings of the Taliban movement, told RFE/RL that the two-day event was more akin to an academic session and featured no Taliban emissaries.
“A European research organization put together this seminar to discuss the problems in Afghanistan and how they can be resolved. It had opinion makers, intellectuals, and politicians from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. But nobody spoke for any organization [or government],” Zaeef said.
Zaeef, who was held at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay from 2001 through 2005, is considered an authority on the Taliban.
Participants said the meeting was the second of the Abu Dhabi Process, which involves a series of informal gatherings sponsored by the Brussels-based East West Institute and the government of the United Arab Emirates. The private meetings bring together prominent Afghans and Pakistanis to brainstorm about the challenges to peace in their countries.
Saleem Safi, a Pakistani journalist who took part in this week’s conference, characterized the event as an “intellectual and academic discussion.” He said he and the other journalist who attended would never have been allowed to stay if sensitive negotiations with armed opposition groups were taking place.
What was discussed, he said, didn’t involve negotiations over ending the conflict.
“There was no progress in these discussions because the parties to the conflict were not represented. There were no American representatives, no Al-Qaeda representation, and nobody from the Taliban participated. Even if there were Pakistani politicians and government figures, they were there in their personal capacity as analysts or regional specialists,” Safi said.
As the meeting took place, several international media organizations reported that the Afghan government was talking to the Quetta Shura and members of the Haqqani network — two Afghan insurgent groups believed to be based in Pakistan. The stories relied heavily on unnamed sources.
Zaeef said the reports sounded wrong to him because, despite international consensus that only a negotiated solution can end the war in Afghanistan, Washington has not demonstrated the will or ability to orchestrate a deal.
He also cast doubt on the notion that the Taliban is split into different factions and Kabul’s plan to absorb a considerable number of moderate Taliban into a Western-supported reintegration program.
“If they really want to reach a conclusion, they should only contact the Taliban leadership and solve that problem thorough them. In the past, the Americans wanted to identify people in the Taliban ranks who would reconcile [with] them through the reintegration program. But I think this bottom-up approach didn’t work and they failed to identify anybody as ‘moderates,'” Zaeef said.
The Afghan government has had limited success negotiating with the Taliban.
Its attempts to broker talks though the Saudi royal family has not produced measurable results. Afghan President Hamid Karzai tried to negotiate with key Taliban leaders directly earlier this year but the process ended with their arrests.
U.S. General David Petraeus, who leads U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, recently claimed that Taliban commanders were increasingly making peace overtures to Kabul, but that was denied by the Taliban.
Most recently, on the 9th anniversary of the U.S. attacks against the Taliban, Karzai launched an official peace council to guide peace efforts with the insurgents.
Speaking on October 7 in Kabul, Karzai told the council will have his continuing support.
“This peace council is the greatest hope for the people of Afghanistan. The international community is supporting this move with all means and the people of Afghanistan hope to see success from this movement. I wish success for you, members of this high council, my sisters and brothers,” Karzai said.
The Afghan leader has repeatedly asked the insurgents to renounce violence, to distance themselves from Al-Qaeda, and to accept the Afghan constitution. Reports of contacts between the Taliban and Kabul are on the rise but there is no sign of a break in the impasse. A negotiated deal is considered key to the U.S. exit strategy of beginning a troop draw down in the summer of 2011.
But some observers say peace in Afghanistan will require more than just talks with insurgents. They say it will require no less than regional and global consensus on other complex conflicts in South Asia and Central Asia, which are fueling the unrest in Afghanistan.
Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Hameed Mohmand contributed reporting from Kabul
By Abubakar Siddique
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
October 7, 2010
No peace in Afghanistan without Taliban participation:
former UN mission chief in Afghanistan
During his visit, the Norwegian diplomat Kai Eide, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Afghanistan and Head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan until March 2010, stressed the need to involve the Taliban in the peace process.
The war cannot be won by military means, but only politically, Eide said, and despite achievements in areas such as health and education, there is still a long way to go, the military alone not being the solution.
What is needed is a trust in the Afghan people to solve the situation themselves, with increased independent civilian assistance, he said.
He identified four priority areas: agriculture, infrastructure, education and building a civilian administrative structure. All these will also help create a middle class which will be the driving force of development, he said.
Time and patience are required and no deadline should be imposed, he said. Setting a deadline for troop withdrawal as U.S. President Barack Obama has done is a big mistake, Eide said.
Eide was invited by the Danish United Nations Association, which urges a withdrawal of Danish troops in early 2011 and a takeover by the UN by establishing a peacemaking UN-force.
Copenhagen, Oct. 8 (Xinhua)