Afghanistan

1 October 2022News

Bank of England refuses to come clean as Afghan children starve

The humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan can only be ended by allowing the Afghan central bank ‘immediate access to its foreign reserves in full’. Those are the words of Andrés Arauz, former general director of the Central Bank of Ecuador (see PN 2661), reflecting the views of many other financial and aid experts.

All $9bn of Afghanistan’s foreign reserves have been ‘frozen’ – stolen – by five governments. Of the $9bn held overseas, $7bn is held in the US, leaving $2bn in the…

2 August 2022News

19 million Afghans face starvation due to Western theft of country's reserves

In Afghanistan, ‘more people will die of hunger in 2022 alone than from violence during the last 20 years of conflict’, if the international community does not take drastic action.

That was the warning, back in December, from four aid experts including Elizabeth Winter, executive director of BAAG, the British & Irish Agencies Afghanistan Group. BAAG includes ActionAid, CAFOD, Christian Aid and Oxfam.

One key issue is Afghanistan’s foreign reserves. When the Taliban retook…

1 August 2022News

Whistleblowers say weapons were planted to justify killings

SAS soldiers killed detainees and unarmed men in Afghanistan in suspicious circumstances on dozens of occasions, according to a BBC TV documentary broadcast in mid-July.

Military reports obtained by Panorama suggest that one SAS unit may have killed 54 people unlawfully in one six-month tour.

Whistleblowers from the SAS squadron told the BBC they saw SAS ‘operators’ kill unarmed people during night raids – and then plant AK-47 rifles to justify the killing.

1 June 2022Review

Hurst, 2021; 368pp; £14.99

Presumably hastily put together after the disorderly US-UK-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, The Ledger is written by two advisors to the Western militaries and Afghan government: David Kilcullen and Greg Mills. Their roles gave the pair an enviable level of access to top level US-UK government and military sources, whom they cite regularly, but is also likely a key reason why their analysis is so restricted, generally limited to what Noam Chomsky calls the ‘fight it…

1 April 2022News

US peace group calls for economic recovery, not aid

Below is the text of an international open letter to US president Joe Biden.

We are writing to express our outrage over your 11 February executive order regarding the $7 billion of Afghan funds invested in the US Federal Reserve Bank.

We believe that your decision to divide the funds in two, with half going to compensate 9/11 families and the other half going to humanitarian aid, is unjust and will cause grave harm to the Afghan people.

Your decision has been denounced…

1 February 2022Comment

International sanctions are starving ordinary Afghans

Some 23 million people in extreme hunger. A million children under five in immediate danger of starvation.

This is not a natural disaster. It is a horrifying case of the United States taking an entire nation hostage and torturing an entire people.

Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross, told Agence France-Presse last November that the economic sanctions ‘meant to punish those in power in Kabul are instead freezing millions of…

1 December 2021Feature

Unfreeze $9bn of Afghan reserves held abroad, says CODEPINK

The people of Afghanistan are facing ‘hell on earth’ in the next six months.

That’s what the executive director of the UN World Food Programme said in early November.

David Beasley told the BBC the situation in Afghanistan had become ‘as bad as you can possibly imagine’: ‘In fact, we’re now looking at the worst humanitarian crisis on Earth. Ninety-five percent of the people don’t have enough food, and now we’re looking at 23 million people marching toward starvation. Out of…

1 October 2021Feature

Sarvy Geranpayeh interviewed Noam Chomsky for Gulf News on 8 September

Gulf News: It was only several months ago that you predicted that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan would cause the collapse of the Afghan army and the government and that’s exactly what’s happened.

That’s what’s [been] unfolding in the last few weeks, as we’ve seen, and yet we see the Biden administration and others express surprise at what’s happened or at least at the speed at which it’s all happened. Where are your thoughts on that?

Chomsky: The basic problem is one that…

1 October 2021Feature

What the media and political establishment are not telling you

‘There is a general policy by the MoD [ministry of defence] to keep the horror of what’s going on in Afghanistan out of the public domain,’ a senior officer told the Telegraph in September 2008. ‘If the real truth were known it would have a huge impact on Army recruiting and the Government would come under severe pressure to withdraw the troops.’

Unsurprisingly then, while there has been a huge amount of media coverage of the US-UK-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, lots of…

28 September 2020News in Brief

On 26 December, 27 Afghan peace activists were released by Taliban insurgents after being held for 45 hours.

The activists from the People’s Peace Movement (PPM) were detained by the Taliban in Farah Province, western Afghanistan. Their six-car delegation was part of a national speaking tour urging all sides to agree to a ceasefire.

The PPM, which began in early 2018 in Helmand province, said this was the fourth time its peace marchers had been kidnapped by the Taliban.

1 October 2019News in Brief

The US military, Afghan government forces and the Taliban have all escalated their deadly attacks during peace negotiations.

In early September, the Taliban insurgency and the US government reached an agreement in principle on the staged withdrawal of 14,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of November 2020.

The next US presidential elections are on 3 November 2020.

Borhan Osman, an analyst with the International Crisis Group, reported from Taliban…

3 July 2017Blog

Who carries out the works of mercy in the war-torn country of Afghanistan?

 At an April, 2017 Symposium on Peace in Nashville, TN, Martha Hennessy spoke about central tenets of Maryhouse, a home of hospitality in New York City, where Martha often lives and works. Every day, the community there tries to abide by the counsels of Dorothy Day, Martha’s grandmother, who co-founded houses of hospitality and a vibrant movement in the 1930s. During her talk, she held up a postcard-sized copy of one of the movement’s defining images, Rita Corbin's celebrated woodcut listing…

26 October 2015Blog

A young Afghan peace activist sets out his hopes for the future.

24 October 2015

Kabul - Tall, lanky, cheerful and confident, Esmatullah easily engages his young students at the Street Kids School, a project of Kabul’s “Afghan Peace Volunteers,” an anti-war community with a focus on service to the poor. Esmatullah teaches child laborers to read. He feels particularly motivated to teach at the Street Kids School because, as he puts it, “I…

1 February 2015Review

Hurst, 2014; 389pp; £25

Last year, it was reported that the ministry of defence (MoD) had tried to stop the publication of this book, written by a British army officer. The MoD argued that it was inappropriate for a serving officer (Martin has since resigned) to publish such a critical work about Britain’s 2006–2014 occupation of Helmand province in Afghanistan.

There is certainly much to embarrass the British military in Martin’s work, a reworking of his PhD thesis. Based on over 150 interviews with…

28 September 2014Review

OR Books, 2014; 199pp; £12. Purchase online here: http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/manning-trial/

Sentenced last year to 35 years imprisonment for leaking thousands of classified files to Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning’s real crime was embarrassing the US government and exposing some of the brutal realities of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clark Stoeckley’s crudely-illustrated non-fiction graphic novel provides an accessible precis of Manning’s trial, taking us from her first pre-trial hearing in December 2011 through to her sentencing in August 2013. Along the way, we learn…