Friday, December 7, 2007

Senlis: Canada not recognising Afghan deterioriation

Senlis seems to be changing its emphasis or maybe the donors to the private think tank want the emphasis changed. Their earlier emphasis was to critique the war on drugs and suggest that opium could be grown for legal medical use. Now the group seems to be beating the drums for a military buildup and even giving the military power to distribute aid. Of course this would involve in all probability using aid itself as a direct weapon in the battle against the Taliban. Aid would be used as a carrot and a stick. Many analysts think this is a recipe for disaster and turns even more against the occupation. The presumption that the Taliban have no claim to Afghanistan and that the occupation is there for the good of the Afghans is typical tripe pedaled in the western media. While Senlis often has some good criticisms of certain aspects of the occupation it is still a dyed in the wool humanitarian liberal think tank full of itself and of unanalysed presuppositions about the morality of its role. None of this is to deny that the Taliban are a barbaric reactionary group of religious zealots of course. But if that is a reason for invading and occupying a country why are we not in Saudi Arabia?
Actually if the occupying forces left Afghanistan there would probably be a deal between the Karzai government and the Taliban.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Canada not recognizing Afghan deterioration: think-tank
Senlis says Taliban controls half of country

Mike Blanchfield, CanWest News Service
Published: Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters
OTTAWA -- The Canadian government is "shirking" its responsibility to the Afghan people by dismissing reports of the Taliban's growing strength in the war-torn country, the Senlis Council think-tank charged Wednesday.

Norine MacDonald, the Senlis founder and its lead researcher based in Kandahar, was rebutting the dismissive comments by Defence Minister Peter MacKay and others towards its latest study that says the Taliban have influence in more than half of the country and that NATO should respond to that threat by doubling its troop strength.

Mr. MacKay has called the Senlis assessment "not credible" while NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has deemed their most recent proposals unrealistic.

On Wednesday, Ms. MacDonald brandished a map, prepared for United Nations staff and leaked to the Times of London in Kabul that shows half of Afghanistan -- and nearly all of the south -- is a virtual no-go area for UN officials and other aid workers because it not considered safe enough.

"The difficulty with the minister and our government in not accepting the reality of what's going on in southern Afghanistan is that they're shirking their duty to the Canadian people," MacDonald told reporters in Ottawa. "We're also shirking our duties to the people of Afghanistan, so I urge the minister to review not only our report but other reports."

Ms. MacDonald returned to Canada from Kandahar, where she has mainly lived for the last three years, to give her group's submission to the government panel, headed by former deputy prime minister John Manley, that is examining Canada's future role in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Parliament will vote on whether to extend Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan after the Manley commission makes its recommendations.

While opposition parties want Canada's combat role in Kandahar to end by February, 2009 or sooner, Ms. MacDonald said that position is untenable because the security situation has deteriorated so dramatically in southern Afghanistan and because the Taliban have a wider presence in the area.

"We don't have the luxury of leaving southern Afghanistan at this moment. If a lot of the other countries stepped up in a very significant way to put more ground troops in the south, we could talk about Canada leaving," she said.

The Senlis Council is urging Mr. Manley to recommend that Canada stay the course in Afghanistan.

It also wants Canada to convene an emergency meeting of NATO countries to find a way to increase troop levels and remove some of the caveats, or restrictions, that prevent some countries from deploying to the front lines of fighting in the south, where Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and the U.S. have borne the brunt of heavy combat.

Senlis is calling for the Canadian Forces to be given full control of the purse strings of the aid budget controlled by the Canadian International Development Agency.

Ms. MacDonald acknowledged this was a controversial proposal that would anger non-governmental agencies that firmly hold to the position that humanitarian assistance and military power should never be mingled.

"Until the development and aid community can come up with their own capacities to deliver some aid to those people, in the short term we have to let the military do it," she said.

"The development and aid community has no plan."

Ottawa Citizen

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