The Militant (logo)  

Vol. 74/No. 38      October 11, 2010

Washington launches Afghan
assault, raids Pakistan border
(front page)
U.S.-led troops began active combat in districts outside the Afghan city of Kandahar September 25, with the goal of driving Taliban forces out of what has been a major stronghold for them. Meanwhile, NATO helicopters entered Pakistani airspace in raids that killed some 70 people.

The imperialist offensive in Kandahar Province was originally slated to begin in June. It was delayed after a similar operation in February in Marjah in neighboring Helmand Province was not the “catastrophic success” the U.S. forces had originally proclaimed. In August U.S. Marine helicopters still wouldn’t land in Marjah’s district center because of Taliban fire. In late August U.S. troops helped push the Taliban out of the Mehlajat area southwest of Kandahar, but few Islamist fighters were killed or captured, said the Globe and Mail.

CBS News estimated the number of U.S. troops in the latest Kandahar operation at 8,000, with an even greater number of Afghan soldiers involved. “We expect hard fighting,” said NATO spokesman Brigadier-General Josef Blotz.

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, said September 27 that some high-level Taliban leaders had responded to Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s call for reconciliation talks. That course is controversial, however, with Afghanis who do not belong to the dominant Pashtun nationality, as do Karzai and the Taliban, raising fears of the kind of severe repression they confronted when the Taliban were in power.

Karzai’s ties to corrupt figures in the Afghani ruling class pose another problem for Washington in prosecuting the war. The U.S. National Security Agency has been wiretapping Mahmoud Karzai, the president’s brother, the New York Times reported. He has major investments in real estate, cement, and other industries, and is a top investor in Kabul Bank, the country’s largest private financial institution that nearly collapsed recently after its top executives resigned in a “corruption” scandal.

Another Karzai brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is chairman of the Kandahar provincial council and widely reputed to have connections to the narcotics trade. “United States officials have said that he also has had a long-standing relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency,” the Times reported.

From September 25 to 27, U.S. helicopters launched three waves of attacks on members of the Haqqani network in Pakistan near the Afghan border, in at least one case crossing into Pakistani airspace.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said the raids “are a clear violation and breach of the U.N. mandate.”

Washington has stepped up aerial drone attacks in Pakistan in recent weeks. As of September 29, there have been 20 drone attacks, more than any previous month.

A tribal elder from North Waziristan told the Washington Post, “Everyone in our area is living and moving in a state of fear that we might be hit by a missile from the drones hovering around our region.”

Petraeus has urged Pakistani officials to carry out more vigorous attacks on the Haqqani network, a major Afghan Taliban ally that attacks U.S. forces and has bases in North Waziristan. According to the Times, Petraeus has threatened to launch unilateral operations against Haqqani fighters on Pakistan soil if Islamabad continues to refuse to do so.  
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