President Barrack Obama has virtually embraced his predecessor George Bush’s “War on Terror” policy without naming it so.
Asked in a CNN interview why he hasn't used the oft-repeated "war on terror" phrase coined by the Bush administration, Obama said he believes the U.S. can win over moderate Muslims if he chooses his words carefully. "Words matter in this situation because one of the ways we're going to win this struggle is through the battle of hearts and minds," Obama said.
The “war on terror” catchphrase burned into the American lexicon soon after the 9/11 attacks is deliberately being replaced by the Obama administration in a bid to repair America’s negative image in the Muslim world.
President Obama’s executive orders – on the first day of his office on January 22 - closing the infamous Guantánamo military prison and outlawing torture were interpreted in some circles as closing the door on the Bush’s so called global “war on terror.”
The same day President Obama also appointed war-monger Richard Holbrooke as a special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. To borrow Scott Ritter, after 9/11, Richard Holbrook championed the military action against Afghanistan, ruled out any role of diplomacy to deal with Taliban, labeled all Taliban as extremists, viewed Taliban and al-Qaida as one.
Not surprisingly, a day later on January 23, President Obama gave a green light to missile attacks from Pakistani-based CIA-operated unmanned drone aircraft at targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas. About 20 civilians were killed in the two missile attacks. Tellingly, the new White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, declined to answer questions about the first air strikes, saying "I'm not going to get into these matters."
Again on February 14, at least 28 people were killed in two drone attacks in Waziristan region. And two days later, on February 16, a US drone fired three missiles at a target in Kurruam Agency killing 30 people. (The attacks were as usual said to be against the Taliban targets but not a single body of local or foreign militant, as claimed by the Pakistani or American officials, was produced. To hide the truth, it is always claimed that the militants cordoned off the area after the attack and took away their dead and wounded.)
Ironically, the two US missile attacks within three days came as the US special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke was visiting the region.
America and Afghanistan both blame Pakistan’s FATA region for constant surge in the Afghan Taliban operations in different parts of Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul.
In an interview on CNN’s GPS program on February 13, the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whose writ doesn’t extend beyond his presidential palace, claimed that Taliban have no hiding place in Afghan villages. He asserted that “the war on terrorism is not in Afghan villages, that the Al Qaeda will not have and does not have a hiding place in Afghanistan any more, since the Taliban were driven out in 2001.”
However, the latest report by the International Council on Security and Development (ICOS), a European think tank, refutes Karzai’s assertion. The Taliban now hold a permanent presence in 72% of Afghanistan, up from 54% a year ago, said the ICOS report released on December 8, 2008.
According to ICOS, Taliban forces have advanced from their southern heartlands, where they are now the de facto governing power in a number of towns and villages, to Afghanistan’s western and north-western provinces, as well as provinces north of Kabul. Within a year, the Taliban's permanent presence in the country has increased by a startling 18%, according to ICOS research on the ground in Afghanistan.
The new ICOS report also documented the advance of the Taliban on Kabul, where three out of the four main highways into Kabul are now compromised by Taliban activity. The capital city has plummeted to minimum levels of control, with the Taliban and other criminal elements infiltrating the city at will.
In short, “The Taliban are now controlling the political and military dynamic in Afghanistan,” said Norine MacDonald QC, President and Lead Field Researcher of ICOS.
Tellingly, just a day ahead of Richard Holbrooke’s visit to Kabul, the Taliban made their presence felt in the Afghan capital on February 11 with a daring attack that claimed the lives of at least 26 people and injured dozens more. The insurgents stormed heavily guarded government ministries near the presidential palace. The targets included the Ministry of Justice building in a crowded downtown area, the Education Ministry and a Prison Affairs office.
Apparently, three decades of war has hardened the Afghan militant groups, putting them in a better position than the US-led foreign occupying forces. With organic social links in society the insurgents are seen by the Afghan masses as a real power and fighting for a cause: liberation of their country, once again, from foreign occupation in the so-called Second Great Game where US has replaced Britain for the control of oil resources in Central Asia. This belief is strengthened by the presence of torture cells and massive civilian casualties inflicted by the US and other foreign forces. According to the latest UN report, a record 2,118 civilians were killed last year. More than 500 deaths were blamed on air strikes.
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