2 April 2023News

Internationals assist over 40 activists

Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, an ad hoc team of internationals began regular Zoom meetings, co-ordinating efforts to assist Afghan activists who, for security reasons, have asked that we not name them or their group.

The inspiring efforts of young Afghans to share resources, seek equality, protect the planet and abolish all war, along with their willingness to host Western visitors, has sadly jeopardised their lives.

Mutually beneficial…

1 February 2023News

No outrage over killing of 25 people in an illegal war

Afghanistan was a major topic of media debate in January, but not because of the humanitarian catastrophe there, or the way that the West has contributed to the economic crisis, including by ‘freezing’ (stealing) Afghanistan’s foreign reserves.

Right-wing newspapers were upset that the younger son of the new king of the UK had ‘boasted’ in his new book, Spare, of killing 25 suspected Afghan insurgents during his tour of duty in Afghanistan as an Apache helicopter pilot.

1 February 2023News

Release of assets frozen by US / UK crucial to averting further catastrophe

‘The unanimous view of the UN, the Red Cross, Red Crescent, the nongovernmental organisations, our own 1,500 aid workers, who are now being paralysed, is that the crisis is just catastrophic. It’s a population in freefall, really. Again, it’s minus-15 Celsius, but people are out in the open. People have now been hungry for months.

‘Famine is coming and will engulf six million, is the estimation. Water and sanitation is lacking for people. Epidemic disease is threatening. It couldn’t…

1 December 2022Review

Simon & Schuster, 2022; 384pp; £12.99

In 2019, the Washington Post published a treasure trove of documents proving that ‘US officials had repeatedly lied to the public about what was happening in Afghanistan, just as they had in Vietnam.’ This industrial-scale deception was spread across the three presidencies of Bush, Obama and Trump.

The papers included notes from over 1,000 interviews with people who played a direct role in the war – taken from huge ‘Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’…

1 December 2022News

Call for US to release billions of assets belonging to Afghanistan's central bank

This winter, Afghanistan faces a humanitarian catastrophe, largely due to the collapse of the economy because of the freezing of the country’s foreign reserves by the United States and other Western countries.

On 16 November, 12 countries in the region called on the US to unfreeze billions of dollars of assets belonging to Afghanistan’s central bank. They were meeting in Russia as ‘the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan’, first set up in 2017. The 12 included Saudi Arabia…

1 December 2022News

Help needed to resettle peacemakers in Portugal

14 November:

We’re writing to ask your help for young Afghans who face deeply troubling circumstances and may be able to resettle in Portugal in the very near future.

In Kabul, they were part of a group which has now disbanded for security reasons and which cannot even be named in public documents. The group welcomed internationals to live with them and become part of their efforts for peacemaking. Onlookers watched them pursue remarkable altruism. They agreed to reject all…

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…