Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Pentagon Contractors in Afghanistan Pocketed $108 Billion Over 20 Years

Military contracting “obscures where and how taxpayer money flows,” and “makes it difficult to know how many people are employed, injured, and killed,” said the Costs of War Project report’s author.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 8-9-2022 by Common Dreams

Contractors from the Bagram Air Field Retrosort Yard load a water tank onto a contracted transportation truck. (Photo: 1st Lt. Henry Chan, 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Public Affairs/U.S. Army)

Pentagon contractors operating in Afghanistan over the past two decades raked in nearly $108 billion—funds that “were distributed and spent with a significant lack of transparency,” according to a report published Tuesday.

“These contracts show the shadowy ‘camo economy’ at work in Afghanistan,” said report author Heidi Peltier, director of programs for the Costs of War Project at Brown Univesity’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. Continue reading

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‘Totally Unacceptable’: US Rejecting 90% of Afghans Seeking Asylum Under Humanitarian Program

“We don’t feel safe,” lamented one Afghan asylum-seeker whose brothers translated for U.S. invasion forces. “We don’t know what will happen in an hour. We don’t know what will happen tomorrow.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 6-20-2022 by Common Dreams

Seven Afghan citizens arrived in Luxembourg to start a new life – 2021. Photo: NATO/flickr/CC

As a coalition of human rights groups on Monday implored the international community to do more to help Afghan refugees, new reporting revealed that the United States is rejecting the overwhelming majority of Afghans seeking to enter the country under a humanitarian program—including relatives of those who aided the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of their country.

“Today, over six million Afghans have been driven out of their homes and their country by conflict,” the Alliance for Human Rights noted in its World Refugee Day statement. “These numbers have been exacerbated by the Taliban’s seizure of power in Afghanistan in August 2021 and the critical humanitarian crisis Afghanistan is facing today.” Continue reading

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The volunteers risking their lives to secretly educate Afghanistan’s girls

Nine months on from the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, teenage girls remain deprived of their right to education

By Deepa Parent  Published 6-3-2022 by openDemocracy

Matiullah Wesa and other PenPath volunteers travel around Afghanistan teaching children Photo: PenPath

In 2002, when Matiullah Wesa was a teenager, the Taliban burned his school. It was this, he told openDemocracy, that led him to dedicate his life to ensuring other children in Afghanistan can get an education.

Wesa is the co-founder of PenPath, an NGO that works to reopen closed schools in the country’s rural areas – from the Spin Boldak district in Kandahar to Helmand province – and has so far educated more than 57,000 children. Continue reading

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The Ukraine war has given NATO renewed credibility. That’s a problem

On the biggest issues that will threaten people around the world in the coming years, NATO is well-night irrelevant

By Paul Rogers  Published 5-21-2022 by openDemocracy

Image: Public domain

So far, the greatest of Vladimir Putin’s many failures in the Ukraine war is his aim of seriously weakening NATO.

Far from creating greater disunity between member states, Russia’s president has given NATO a new purpose, just as its role was starting to be questioned. Its unity has even been enhanced, and Sweden and Finland have now applied to join.

This may have drastic global consequences. Continue reading

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Western hypocrisy: What Joe Biden gets wrong about Russia

Those in the Middle East know the kind of destruction seen in Ukraine all too well – the West was the perpetrator

By Paul Rogers  Published 4-2-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: U.S. Secretary of Defense/flickr/CC

Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine remains in a violent stalemate. Russian forces are pausing their attempts to occupy Kyiv, having withdrawn some of their forces from around the capital, but a major retreat is highly unlikely given Russia is recruiting several thousand mercenaries from Syria.

The Kremlin’s strategy now is to concentrate on overrunning the southern Ukraine port city of Mariupol, before joining up Russian forces in Crimea with those in Donbas to take control of as much of the region as possible. Continue reading

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Ukraine is benefiting from generous donations – and many other global causes need help, too

A Yemeni mother holds the tiny foot of her malnourished child in 2021.
Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Jessica Eise, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Ukraine’s resistance to Russia has captivated the world, dominating social media and the news since the Feb. 24, 2022, invasion. With this attention has come a massive outpouring of financial support.

Ordinary people, governments, corporations and celebrities have pledged billions to support Ukraine and have dispatched everything from missiles to cryptocurrency. Stories of sacrifice inspire courage, and photos of vulnerable victims, such as the pregnant woman on a stretcher after a bombing, have ignited rage and pain. When reports surfaced that the woman and her baby had both died, the collective sorrow only deepened.

The urge to express solidarity by making your own donation is only natural. Continue reading

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Declassified Docs Show CIA Used Prisoner as a Torture Training Prop

“Twenty years later, none of the those responsible for the CIA’s heinous regime of torture were ever prosecuted,” lamented Rep. Ilhan Omar. “Instead they got promotions.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 3-16-2022 by Common Dreams

Guantánamo prisoner and alleged 9/11 co-plotter Ammar al-Baluchi was used as a torture training prop at a CIA “black site” in Afghanistan, documents declassified in March 2022 affirmed. (Photo: International Committee of the Red Cross)

A prisoner at a Central Intelligence Agency “black site” in Afghanistan was used as a training prop to teach U.S. operatives how to torture other prisoners, leaving him with serious brain damage and other ailments, newly declassified documents published this week affirmed.

Ammar al-Baluchi, a 44-year-old Kuwaiti national, is currently imprisoned at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where he is one of five men awaiting trial by military commission for alleged involvement in plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The case, which has been delayed due to disputes over the admissibility of defendant testimony extracted through torture, has been in pre-trial hearings for more than a decade. Continue reading

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A letter to the Western Left from Kyiv

The ‘anti-imperialism of idiots’ meant people turned a blind eye to Russia’s actions

By Taras Bilous.  Published 2-26-2022 by openDemocracy

Photo: Shivam Bangwal/Twitter

I am writing these lines in Kyiv while it is under artillery attack.

Until the last minute, I had hoped that Russian troops wouldn’t launch a full-scale invasion. Now, I can only thank those who leaked the information to the US intelligence services.

Yesterday, I spent half the day considering whether I ought to join a territorial defence unit. During the night that followed, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyi signed a full mobilisation order and Russian troops moved in and prepared to encircle Kyiv, which made the decision for me. Continue reading

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‘Death Sentence for Untold Numbers of Civilians’: Biden to Permanently Seize Afghan Assets

“I can’t think of a worse betrayal of the people of Afghanistan than to freeze their assets and give it to 9/11 families,” said one person whose brother was killed on Sept. 11, 2001.

By Jon Queally. Published 2-11-2022 by Common Dreams

Humanitarians—including those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks of 2001—responded with condemnation Friday after it was reported that President Joe Biden has decided to permanently seize $7 billion of currently frozen Afghan assets even as the people of the war-torn and poverty-stricken nation suffer a broken economy, a collapsed healthcare system, and widespread starvation.

According to the New York Times, the Biden administration will soon formally announce a plan to make half of the $7 billion available to pay off legal claims by those who lost families members on 9/11 while the other half would be set aside for humanitarian assistance for the Afghan people. Continue reading

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UN fails to agree on ‘killer robot’ ban as nations pour billions into autonomous weapons research

Humanitarian groups have been calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.
Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images

James Dawes, Macalester College

Autonomous weapon systems – commonly known as killer robots – may have killed human beings for the first time ever last year, according to a recent United Nations Security Council report on the Libyan civil war. History could well identify this as the starting point of the next major arms race, one that has the potential to be humanity’s final one.

The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons debated the question of banning autonomous weapons at its once-every-five-years review meeting in Geneva Dec. 13-17, 2021, but didn’t reach consensus on a ban. Established in 1983, the convention has been updated regularly to restrict some of the world’s cruelest conventional weapons, including land mines, booby traps and incendiary weapons. Continue reading

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