Royal Marines in Helmand province, Afghanistan. British, US and other Nato troops end their frontline role there at the end of 2014.
(Image by Photograph: Gaz Faulkner/PA) Permission Details DMCA
Remember Afghanistan? The fated country the Bush Crime Family invaded after the mostly-Saudi terrorists attacked the US on 9/11/2001? Few in the corporate media ever mention this ongoing theater in the perpetual terror wars. Gone are the days of constant color-coded "terror alerts" on the telescreens to remind us that swarthy evildoers -- dispatched by Osama and his Taliban minions -- lurked in our playgrounds, lobster beds, and rose hedges.
No, those days are forgotten, along with Bush's "mission accomplished" banner, Cheney's violent rhetoric, Rumsfeld's laser pointer, and Ashcroft's statue drapes.
But the combat lingers on. And on. When we last checked, our alleged "mission" was to train the Afghan forces to fight the Taliban. This has been a near-complete failure. The leader we installed, Hamid Karzai, hasn't agreed to sign a security deal that would allow NATO forces (most of which are from the US) to remain in Afghanistan in 2014 to continue the (pointless) training missions. Seems Hamid is unhappy with the ongoing drone strikes that continue to massacre innocent Afghan civilians. The AP has more...
"World diplomats issued a stern warning Tuesday to Afghan leaders in a new effort to help secure the war-torn nation's future with thousands of foreign forces after 2014. But officials backed off earlier U.S. threats to withdraw all troops if Afghan President Hamid Karzai doesn't agree to the offer before the end of the year.
"NATO officials said, however, that they need a decision, and soon, on continuing a military training mission in Afghanistan through next year. Without clarity, the estimated 50 nations who said they will help transition Afghanistan from 13 years of war will have to start planning how, and when, to send soldiers home.- Advertisement -
"But U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen both resisted holding Karzai to a set deadline for a decision. It was a step back from a White House warning last month that the U.S. would pull out its troops if Afghanistan did not sign a security agreement by the end of this year.
"'This is not fooling around, this is serious business,' Kerry told reporters at the annual NATO meeting in Brussels.
"'I think that it is important for the agreement to try to move forward,' Kerry said. 'That is what we need to aim for, sooner not later, because that is what is best for Afghanistan.'
"Karzai has tentatively endorsed the deal, but he shocked allies last month when he refused to sign it after it was approved by a council of tribal elders known as the Loya Jirga. The council said the agreement with the U.S. should be signed by the end of December, as Washington demands.
"Instead, Karzai maintains the decision should be left to his successor after elections next April. He has also indicated that he will not sign any agreement that allows for continued airstrikes and foreign raids on Afghan homes. Civilian deaths at the hands of U.S. and allied soldiers have been a key source of contention, exacerbated last week by a U.S. drone strike that killed a child.
"The latest round of pressure on Karzai puts the U.S. and its NATO allies in the awkward political position of threatening to leave even as they make a strong case to stay.- Advertisement -
"Rasmussen said he could not rule out the possibility of a so-called zero option -- the complete withdrawal of foreign forces at the end of 2014. He said it 'can be the unfortunate outcome of the decisions -- or nondecisions -- in Afghanistan.'
"'We are prepared to stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 with permission to train, assist, advise the Afghan security forces,' Rasmussen told reporters. 'But it's no surprise that we had to make clear that we need a firm legal framework for our presence in Afghanistan.'
"Experts said the longer Karzai delays, the stronger the risk that the West will decide the training mission isn't worth the cost.
"The price tag for American military assistance alone runs between $15 billion and $37 billion annually. More than $8 billion per year -- half in security funding, half in development assistance -- is set to be spent by the U.S. and others in Afghanistan after 2014, and voters in Europe and America are growing weary of the mission.
"Additionally, al-Qaida's operational might has mostly moved from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Yemen, Iraq and northern Africa.