Gates visits Aghanistan on the heels of Anti-U.S. Protests
Robert Gates the U.S. Secretary of Defense, arrived Monday in Kabul, Afghanistan for what was supposed to be a surprise visit. Gates will visit southern and eastern part of Afghanistan, where mainly U.S. troops are stationed. An unnamed source claiming to be an Afghan official stated in Xinhua- (the Chinese newspaper) “Gates is in Afghanistan and later today he will arrive in Kabul, we will inform of further details in a press conference."
Gates arrived one day after there was a massive protest by hundreds of Afghans against the United States occupation of their country. In a downtown area in the city of Kabul protesters voiced their opposition to U.S. involvement in Afghanistan’s affairs.
Hangama, an organizer of the protests told a Xinhua reporter “Our aim is to condemn the civilian casualties caused by U.S. troops here in Afghanistan and we don't want the American presence in our country.” There were banners that read “Permanent US military bases equals permanent slavery of Afghan people", and "Occupation equals killing plus destruction." pamphlets that were handed out by a group called the Solidarity Party of Afghanistan that said, "The involvement of the US government in Afghanistan, that has a long history of cruelty, has not improved conditions in the country, but increased corruption, poverty, murders, poppy cultivation and trafficking,"
This comes on the heels of President Hamid Karzai's admission in a press conference that he has been in talks with U.S. officials on a range of strategic agreements, including the establishment of permanent military bases in Afghanistan.
This admission from Karzai is exactly opposite of what U.S officials have been touting in the press here at home. Most news media here in America has reported what the Obama administration has echoed over and over, which is the planned transfer of security responsibility from US and NATO troops to Afghan forces by end of 2014, a process due to begin in the spring.
Reasoning for this obvious deception is given as; "Permanent bases in which to continue the military effort against Al-Qaida and the Taliban forces" that still have active forces in the area.
Although no date has been set as to the signing of such a deal, Karzai hinted at holding off until the Afghan Parliament could be convinced to not oppose it. There is also the fact that Loya Jirga, the traditional assembly of tribal leaders would need to approve such a deal as well.
Upon investigating the claims of Afghan protesters The Weekly Stash found these facts:
According to a report by the U.N. office on drugs and crime there was a reduction of the area in which opium poppies are cultivated in Afghanistan from just over 130,000 hectares in 2004 to less than 105,000 hectares in 2005.
However, the report makes it clear that there are massive regional differences and that actual production of opium had dramatically increased in 2005.
The document stated at that time that there were dramatic increases throughout the country. There was a 106% increase in the north, 98% in the west, and 30% in the south "The strongest increases were in the north and west where Nato are operating," said Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN office on drugs and crime.
The UN document also showed a 334% increase in production in Balkh. The picture was the same in the west with a 348% rise in Farah. An alarming 162% rise was reported in Kandahar where the U.S. presence was most notable.
A new report came out in 2010 which stated that production had decreased by up to 48% in some regions. However, with the previous dramatic increases of up to 348% even a reduction by half is still an actual increase of nearly 174%. It seems that in this respect the protesters were exactly right.
Next we looked into the instance of civilian deaths since the occupation of Afghanistan by U.S. troops, According to Marc W. Herold's extensive database, Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States' Aerial Bombing, between 3,100 and 3,600 civilians were directly killed by U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom bombing and Special Forces attacks between October 7, 2001 and June 3, 2003.
A report by Human Rights Watch said more than 1,000 of them civilians were killed in Coalition operations between September 1 and December 13, 2006.
1,980 civilians were killed in 2007 according to the Human security Report Project.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) reported that 2,118 civilians were killed as a result of armed conflict in Afghanistan in 2008 while 2,412 civilians were killed by the war in 2009, a jump of 14% over the number that lost their lives in 2008.
An additional 3,566 Afghan civilians were wounded as a result of the war in 2009.
The total of number of civilians killed as a direct result of United States occupation of Afghanistan is estimated to be between 12,000 and 14,000 since the start of the war. The number of wounded is estimated as much higher and likely to reach into up to 40,000 civilians.
It would seem that the protesters in Kabul on Sunday are right in their statement that the U.S. is responsible for thousands of civilian deaths that would not have taken place if they were not in occupation of Afghanistan.