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Archive for November, 2011

Posted by Just Foreign Policy on November 30th, 2011

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

You might not know it from national press reports, but there are plenty of Members of Congress of both political parties who think that cutting the military budget is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and have concrete ideas for doing so.

 

(The New York Times did note last week that the leaderships of both parties are content to let stand the automatic cuts to the previously projected military budget mandated by the Budget Control Act.)

 

You can see that Senators have ideas for cutting the military budget from the list of amendments filed in the Senate to the National Defense Authorization Act, currently under consideration. [To weigh in with your Senators on these amendments, you can use the toll-free number established by the Friends Committee on National Legislation: 1-877-429-0678.]

 

Even if many of these amendments don’t pass in the next few days, these ideas will still be nominees for consideration as the Pentagon considers how it wishes to cough up an additional half trillion dollars in savings from previously projected spending over the next ten years, as mandated by the Budget Control Act.

 

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Posted by The Agonist on November 29th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Islamabad | Nov 29

AFP – Pakistan on Tuesday decided to boycott a key international conference on Afghanistan next month, widening its protest over lethal cross-border NATO strikes and exacerbating a deep crisis in US ties.

The Pakistani cabinet took the decision a week before the December 5 talks in the German city of Bonn, leaving open the possibility it could yet reverse the decision should Islamabad win concessions in the interim.

“The cabinet has decided not to attend the Bonn meeting,” a government official told AFP on condition of anonymity. Tuesday’s talks also decided to call a joint session of parliament to discuss the fallout, he said.

The cabinet branded “unilateral action” such as Saturday’s NATO strike and the May 2 US killing of Osama bin Laden, which brought the US relationship to its lowest level in years, “unacceptable”, the prime minister’s office said.

Pakistan has already closed the Afghan border to NATO convoys, a lifeline for 140,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, ordered American personnel to vacate an air base reportedly used by CIA drones and ordered a review of the alliance.

The Afghan and German governments reacted with disappointment to the boycott, with President Hamid Karzai calling Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to urge him to reconsider.

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Posted by Peace Action West on November 29th, 2011

From our partners at Peace Action West

Thank you to all of you who took action last week urging your senators to cosponsor the Merkley amendment for a quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Senate is back in session this week, and they need to feel the heat on this. Will you take a minute to call your senators and urge them to vote yes?

Senate switchboard: 202-224-3121 

Here’s a sample message. Please add your personal thoughts about why you want to end the war in Afghanistan:

My name is ___________ and I live at _________.  I am calling to urge Senator ________ to vote yes on the Merkley amendment supporting a quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan.

This vote offers a rare opportunity to get the Senate on record on ending the war.

Thank you so much for holding them accountable.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 29th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Tehran/Fars(Iran) – Iran’s Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar met with senior Afghan, Pakistani and UN officials in Kabul to discuss campaign against drug plantation, production and trafficking.

During their second meeting on Monday morning, Najjar, Afghan Counternarcotics Minister Ahmad Moqbel Zarar, Pakistan’s Narcotics Control Minister Haji Khuda Bux Rajar and the United Nations Office of Drug Control (UNODC) executive director discussed cooperation in campaign against drug plantation, production and trafficking.

The first round of quadrilateral talks among the anti-narcotics officials of Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UN was held Sunday night.

more Google Stories

Najjar, heading a delegation, arrived in the Afghan capital city of Kabul on Sunday evening.

Eastern Iran borders Afghanistan, which is the world’s number one opium and drug producer. Iran’s geographical position has made the country a favorite transit corridor for drug traffickers who intend to smuggle their cargoes from Afghanistan to drug dealers in Europe.

Iran spends billions of dollars and has lost thousands of its police troops in the war against traffickers. Owing to its rigid efforts, Iran makes 89 percent of the world’s total opium seizures and has turned into the leading country in drug campaign.

The United Nations credits Iran with the seizure of 89 percent of the opium and 41 percent of the heroin netted around the world.

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian police have lost more than 3700 of their personnel in the country’s combat against narcotics.

During the last Iranian year (ended on March 20,) Iran seized more than 1,000 tons of opium smuggled from Afghanistan, the largest producer of opium poppy in the world.

The Iranian police officials maintain that drug production in Afghanistan has undergone a 40-fold increase since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

While Afghanistan produced only 185 tons of opium per year under the Taliban, according to the UN statistics, since the US-led invasion, drug production has surged to 3,400 tons annually. In 2007, the opium trade reached an estimated all-time production high of 8,200 tons.

Afghan and western officials blame Washington and NATO for the change, saying that allies have “overlooked” the drug problem since invading the country 10 years ago.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 26th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Salman Masood | Islamabad | November 26

NYT – Pakistani officials on Saturday accused NATO of conducting a helicopter attack on two military checkpoints at the northwestern border with Afghanistan, in strikes that military officials said killed at least 25 soldiers.

In response, Pakistan has closed the border crossing, blocking NATO supplies from entering Afghanistan. The strikes are likely to further complicate an already disintegrating relationship with the United States, which has accused Pakistan of not doing enough to stop attacks on American forces in Afghanistan by militants taking shelter in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas.

In a statement, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said that it was investigating and expressed its condolences to the families of those killed.

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[Comment: Excrement, meet high velocity impeller. This is going to go completely non-linear. Think major inflection point on the scale of the Al Askari mosque bombing. ~JPD]

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Posted by Peace Action West on November 22nd, 2011

From our partners at Peace Action West

Can you imagine US troops on the ground in Afghanistan in 2024?

That’s what’s on the table right now in discussions between the US and Afghan governments. Now is the time to send a message to the administration that ten years of war in Afghanistan is already far too long.

Tell your senators to vote in favor of a quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Thanks to your efforts, the administration is getting the message that Congress is growing impatient with this endless war. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) has introduced a bipartisan amendment that shows Senate support for a quicker end to the war in Afghanistan. The vote could happen early next week, so we need to use these final days to build up pressure on as many senators as possible.

You helped us get twenty-seven senators signed on to a letter to the president calling for withdrawal last summer. Can you help us beat that record next week? Please ask your senators to support the Merkley amendment.

Billions of dollars and thousands of lives are still on the line in Afghanistan. We need to show the Senate that we will not stay quiet on this issue until all of the troops come home. Take action today.

Thank you for your persistence.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 22nd, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

National Afghanistan TV, Kabul, in Dari and Pashto 19 Nov 11 | Nov 22

Centre for Conflict and Peace – LoyaJerga (Grand Assembly) held in Kabul, Afghanistan Draft of 76 Point Resolution adopted by LoyaJerga

16 – 19 November 2011

After four days of discussions and debates, over 2,000 participants of the traditional LoyaJerga (Grand Assembly) in Kabul have decided that having a strategic partnership pact with the USA was in favour of Afghanistan and that peace talks in the country must continue. The jerga issued a resolution of 76 articles as recommendations to the Afghan government in its negotiations with the USA on strategic partnership and its peace talks with the insurgents. The following is text of the resolution read out by secretaries and spokespersons of the jerga, SafiaSeddiqi and FazelKarimAimaq, in Dari and Pashto and aired live on state-owned National Afghanistan TV on 19 November; subheadings as read out by the spokespersons:

In terms of politics

While emphasizing the need for maintaining achievements of the past 10 years; respecting the constitution of Afghanistan, women rights and freedom of the media, and while considering the ruling situation in the region, strategic cooperation with the USA, which is a strategic partner of the system and people of Afghanistan, is considered as a need in order to ensure political, economic and military security in the country. The signing of a strategic cooperation document with the USA is favourable for the national interests of Afghanistan and is highly important, because a strategic cooperation agreement with the USA will ensure political and military security of Afghanistan in the region.

The recommendation of the jerga members for the Afghan government is to consider the following policies while negotiating any kinds of deals, particularly while negotiating the strategic cooperation agreement with the USA: more at link

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Posted by The Agonist on November 19th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Habib Zohori | Kabul | Nov 19

SacBee – An overwhelming majority of the participants of a loya jirga or the grand council of elders on Saturday backed President Hamid Karzai’s call for a long-term partnership with the United States that would come into effect after the withdrawal of international troops in 2014.

“In order to protect the achievement of the last 10 years and given the political situation in the region, a strategic partnership with the United States is considered to be necessary for the political, economical and military stability of the country,” the meeting’s final resolution said.

But that agreement would require the U.S. to agree to a complete halt of night raids, the arbitrary detention of Afghan suspects, the closure of all American detention centers in Afghanistan, and the transfer of all Afghan detainees to government-run prisons, according to the resolution, which was issued on the fourth and last day of the council.

Karzai said that he had worried that the Jirga might reject the strategic partnership or that the participants would take a soft approach toward the issue and fail to set out enough conditions. But Karzai said he was satisfied with the result. “I absolutely agree with it,” Karzai said.

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Posted by The Agonist on November 18th, 2011

From our partners at The Agonist

Ian Cobain | South Waziristan, Pakistan | November 18

The Guardian – Two young British men have been killed in US drone strikes against suspected militants in Pakistan’s tribal belt, according to reports from the country. The pair, both Muslims from London, are reported to have been killed in separate drone strikes two weeks apart in South Waziristan.

One of the men has been named as Ibrahim Adam, 24, who fled from the UK with his brother four years ago, while both were the subject of control orders. The second is said to be Mohammed Azmer Khan, 38, the brother of another British Muslim, Abdul Jabbar, who was killed in a drone attack last year.

The Foreign Office was unable to confirm the deaths on Friday but said: “We are aware of reports and looking into them further.”

Adam’s father said: “We can confirm that we have heard that our son has been killed in a drone strike.”

He said the family regarded him as having been “executed” without having committed any crime. “We now wish to be left alone and grieve for our son.”

Reports from the region suggest the number of suspected militants being killed by missiles fired by unmanned US aircraft may be escalating sharply.

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Posted by Just Foreign Policy on November 17th, 2011

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

Today Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) announced he is introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act calling for an accelerated drawdown in Afghanistan.

The bi-partisan amendment is currently supported by:

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)

Resolution on Afghanistan

To be offered to National Defense Authorization Act

Whereas, after al Qaeda attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, the United States rightly sought to bring to justice those who attacked us, to eliminate al Qaeda’s safe havens and training camps in Afghanistan, and to remove the terrorist-allied Taliban government;

Whereas, the Afghanistan War is now the longest in American history;

Whereas, United States’ troops, intelligence personnel and diplomatic corps have skillfully achieved these objectives, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden;

Whereas, national security experts, including Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta, have noted that al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan has been greatly diminished;

Whereas, over the past ten years the United States’ mission has evolved to include a prolonged nation-building effort, including the creation of a strong central government, a national police force and army, and effective civic institutions;

Whereas, such nation-building efforts in Afghanistan are undermined by corruption, high illiteracy, and a historic aversion to a strong central government;

Whereas, members of the United States military have served in Afghanistan valiantly and with honor, and many have sacrificed their lives and health in service to their country;

Whereas, the United States is now spending nearly $10 billion a month in Afghanistan at a time when at home there is high unemployment, a flood of foreclosures, a record deficit, and a debt that is over $15 trillion and growing;

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