Members of Pakistan's Shi'ite Hazara ethnic minority held protests in London and Hamburg over the past days, charging "genocide" against their people with the complicity of the Islamabad regime—and the silence of the international community. Under the slogan "Stop Hazara Genocide," leaders said that a network financed from Saudi Arabia and operating with the protection of Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency has terrorized Hazaras with killings and suicide bombings on a near-daily basis for the past 10 years, especially naming the groups Sipah-e-Sahaba and Lashkar-e-Jangvi—which has publicly threatened to turn Quetta (capital of Baluchistan province, where most of the country's 600,000 Hazaras live) into a graveyard of Shi'ites. “There is a heavy presence of the law-enforcement agencies in Quetta city but it is matter of great concern that Hazaras get killed on daily basis," said Ali Raza Mogul of London's Hazara Progressive Alliance. "The government has failed to catch terrorists." (AFP, The News, Pakistan, May 1)
In his surprise visit to Afghanistan May 1, President Barack Obama signed an agreement with President Hamid Karzai to maintain a major US military presence in the country through the end of 2014—and to allow an indefinite, significant but unspecified presence beyond that date. Obama stressed that no permanent US bases will be involved, but the agreement requires Afghanistan to let US forces use Afghan bases. According to the the White House press release on the new US-Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA):
Thirty-three were arrested April 22 by Onondaga County sheriff's deputies for protesting at upstate New York's Hancock Field air base over the use of unmanned drones in Afghanistan. The Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones brought together activists from Veterans for Peace, Occupy Buffalo, the Western New York Peace Center and other groups for the protest. Activists planned to deliver a "war crimes indictment" to base personnel, but were "pre-emptively" arrested as they approached the base.
The Taliban launched coordinated attacks in the Afghan capital and three other provinces on April 15. In Kabul, the Taliban targeted seven different locations in the Wazir Akbar Khan diplomatic enclave, seizing control of several buildings under construction and opening fire on the US, German, Russian, and British embassies, the Afghan parliament, the Kabul Military Training Center, and other sites. Gunfire and at least 10 explosions were heard in locations throughout the capital. Two people were reported killed and fighting is said to be ongoing. In Jalalabad, Nangarhar province, a suicide assault on the airstrip left several wounded. Attacks were also reported in the provincial capitals of Paktia and Logar. (Long War Journal, AFP, April 15) Hours earlier, Pakistani Taliban militants launched a nighttime assault on the prison at Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, freeing nearly 400—including what the Taliban Movement of Pakistan called "special members" in a statement. (Long War Journal, April 15)
An Afghan soldier killed two British soldiers on a military base in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand, on March 26. The Afghan soldier was killed by ISAF troops, who opened fire on the attacker. That same day, an officer of the Afghan Local Police killed an ISAF soldier in the east of country; authorities did not release the name or nationality of the soldier, or the exact location of the attack. Afghan security personnel have now killed 16 ISAF troops this year. (Long War Journal, March 26)
Two US troops were killed by an Afghan army solider outside a coalition military base in Nangarhar province Feb. 23 as protests escalated over the burning of Korans that had been issued to detainees at Bagram Air Base. Protests have spread across half a dozen provinces following the revelations, with demonstrators arming themselves with rocks, bricks, sticks and pistols. The Taliban issued a statement signed by the "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" on their website, Voice of Jihad, calling for an uprising against the "American invaders." The unrest comes as the US Department of Defense announced the next round of unit deployments to Afghanistan. Five brigades and one army command will deploy to Afghanistan between April and August 2012. These units will not be assigned to regular combat operations, but to train and support the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). The deployment will constitute an unprecedentedly large training mission. (VOA, Feb. 23; NYT, Feb. 22; Long War Journal, Feb. 19)
Two years ago when we reported revelations that two Czech NATO commanders in Afghanistan had worn Nazi SS regalia while on duty, everyone told us it was an isolated incident and not to make a big deal of it. What do you say now, pronoiacs?* From MSNBC, Feb. 9:
Marines posed with flag resembling Nazi SS logo in Afghanistan
SAN DIEGO — The US Marine Corps confirmed Thursday that a sniper team in Afghanistan posed for a photograph in front of a flag with a logo resembling that of the notorious Nazi SS.
The number of civilians casualties in the Afghan conflict has risen for the fifth year in a row, according to the annual report of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which documents 3,021 civilian deaths in 2011 compared with 2,790 in 2010 and 2,412 in 2009. Most deaths were caused by insurgents, the report said, finding that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were being used more widely and suicide attacks had become deadlier. However, it also said the civilian toll from air strikes in support of the Afghan government rose in 2011. The 2011 "Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict" said a total of 11,864 civilian lives had been claimed by the conflict since 2007.