President Hamid Karzai has backed guidelines issued by Afghanistan’s religious council that relegate women to the position of second-class citizens, raising questions about a government that seems prepared to sell out on the issue in order to engage the Taliban in a peace deal.
The Afghan leader endorsed the repressive guidelines on Tuesday .Men are fundamental and women are secondary,the 150-member Ulema Council said in a statement that was subsequently posted on Mr Karzai’s own website. It also said that men and women should not mix in work or education, and that women must have a male guardian when they travel.
Mr Karzai’s endorsement, which came on the eve of International Women’s Day today, is seen by critics as a huge step back in the effort to promote women’s rights after the Taliban was displaced by the US invasion of the country in 2001.
Guided by these principles once more we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we’ll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.
We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken — you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
The problem with that is that every day that United States government soldiers spend on
beginning to leave, instead of actually leaving — every day that is spent on that
responsibly instead of that
leaving — every day that is spent in the
forging of peace in Afghanistan, rather than in the practicing of it, by withdrawing all United States government soldiers immediately and completely — is another day when innocent Iraqis and Afghans and Pakistanis will be killed by this Peace President’s army and his policy of gradualism. Another day when yet more innocent people will be killed in the name of prolonging the final end of wars now universally acknowledged as catastrophic failures and stupid mistakes.
Yesterday in Iraq, Barack Obama’s
responsibly leaving army blockaded a village, invaded a family home at 2:00 in the morning, and gunned down a mother and father in the bed they shared with their 9 year old daughter. (The girl, besides being orphaned, was also wounded by the gunfire.)
An Iraqi couple was killed in their bed Saturday morning as their daughter slept between them when U.S. forces raided their home.
The U.S. military said that the raid, in the area of Hawija, just west of Kirkuk, was an Iraqi government-approved operation against a wanted man and that the killings were in self-defense. But the family described the slayings of a modest farmer and his wife and the wounding of their daughter by U.S. forces as the three slept.
According to a U.S. military statement, at 2 a.m. U.S. and Iraqi soldiers entered the bedroom where the couple lay and the woman reached under the mattress. The soldiers told her multiple times to show her hands; when she didn’t, they shot her, the statement said.
The woman’s husband, Dhia Hussein Ali, jumped up andphysically attackedthe soldiers after his wife was shot, the statement said. The soldiers killed him in self-defense, the statement said. The couple’s 9-year-old daughter, Alham, was injured during the attack.
In the small village where Dhia Hussein Ali lived, his children and his father questioned the reason for the raid. Ali was a modest farmer with a small fish pool where he raised the popular carp eaten in Iraq, they said. The man was a former officer in Saddam Hussein’s army.
Omar Dhia Hussein, 14, was in shock Saturday night. He said in a telephone interview that in the morning he’d seen his parents’ bodies side by side in their bed, the sheets covered in blood. The wall was covered with his father’s blood, he said.
At 2 a.m., Omar said, he heard a bang of a percussion grenade. When he opened his eyes he saw American soldiers standing over him in the room where he slept with his two sisters. Except for an Iraqi interpreter there were no Iraqis with the Americans, he said.
The interpreter shouted at the young boy.
You are hiding weapons,Omar recalled the interpreter saying.Where are you hiding the weapons? You are terrorists, you are hiding weapons in that unfinished house. Confess!
Omar began to cry and his sisters wept with him, he said. Then the American soldiers left and he heard gunfire next door. The soldiers carried Omar’s wounded sister from the room and took the remaining four children, including Omar, to his uncle’s home. Outside were at least four U.S. Humvees and two SUVs, Omar said. His grandfather, Hussein Ali, who lives next door saw no Iraqi soldiers, either.
After the Americans left, Omar and his sisters returned to their home with their grandfather. In his parents’ bedroom, Omar said, he saw his father’s body at the very edge of the right side of the bed, motionless and bloody.
His mother lay in the middle of the bed in a pool of her own blood. She’d been shot in the head, the family said.
Reporting from Baghdad — U.S. forces killed a couple and wounded their 9-year-old daughter during a raid on their home in northern Iraq early Saturday, U.S. military and Iraqi officials said.
The U.S. military said the man was suspected of being part of the militant group Al Qaeda in Iraq, but local officials said he was a retired colonel with no links to insurgent groups.
People in the village of Alewya, where the couple lived, said the raid involved helicopters and a security cordon that sealed off the village.
On Friday, in Afghanistan, Barack Obama’s army forged peace by trooping into Laghman province, surrounding houses in a village, and then launching a raid where they killed 16 civilians — 2 women, 3 children, and 11 men — with gunfire and
precision bombs dropped from planes.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has criticised a US military operation which killed at least 16 people in eastern Afghanistan.
Mr Karzai said most of those killed were civilians, adding that such deadly incidents strengthened Taleban rebels and weakened Afghanistan’s government.
Women and children were among those killed, Mr Karzai said.
The strike was the first controversy in Afghanistan involving US troops since US President Barack Obama took office.
In a statement, the president said two women and three children were among the dead in the attack, which the US said targeted a militant carrying a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG).
In response, a US military spokesman said there were plans to jointly investigate the incident with the Afghan government.
Originally the US said all of the dead, including one woman, had been militants who opened fire after its troops surrounded a compound in Mehtar Lam, about 60km (40 miles) east of the capital, Kabul.
However, officials in Laghman have since said there were civilians among the dead, a viewpoint now backed by the country’s president.
The US military insists that it goes to considerable lengths to avoid civilian casualties.
But the BBC’s Ian Pannell in Kabul says that as the US increases its military presence, it will be increasingly difficult to do so.
On Friday, in Pakistan, Barack Obama’s army forged peace by firing missiles repeatedly into houses in several villages in the Waziristan region. Barack Obama’s missiles killed twenty-two people, about 15 of them civilians and at least 3 of them children. The idea was to help create the conditions for a lasting peace.
PAKISTAN received an early warning of what the era ofsmart powerunder President Barack Obama will look like after two remote-controlled US airstrikes killed 22 people at suspected terrorist hideouts in the border area of Waziristan.
There will be no let-up in the military pressure on terrorist groups, US officials warned, as Obama prepares to launch a surge of 30,000 troops in neighbouring Afghanistan. It is part of atough lovepolicy combining a military crack-down with diplomatic initiatives.
The airstrikes were authorised under a covert programme approved by Obama, according to a senior US official. It was a dramatic signal in the president's first week of office that there will be no respite in the hunt for Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders.
Security officials said the strikes, which saw up to five missiles slam into houses in separate villages, killed sevenforeigners— a term that usually means al-Qaeda — but locals also said that three children lost their lives.
Dozens of similar strikes since August on northwest Pakistan, a hotbed of Taleban and al-Qaeda militancy, have sparked angry government criticism of the US, which is targeting the area with missiles launched from unmanned CIA aircraft controlled from operation rooms inside the US.
Eight people died when missiles hit a compound near Mir Ali, an al-Qaeda hub in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. Seven more died when hours later two missiles hit a house in Wana, in South Waziristan. Local officials said the target in Wana was a guest house owned by a pro-Taleban tribesman. One said that as well as three children, the tribesman’s relatives were killed in the blast.
Every one of these deaths is blood on Barack Obama’s hands. Every one of these people who were killed, were killed on Barack Obama’s orders and in the name of his war policy. Because Obama wants to wash his hands of the United States government’s war on Iraq and its war on Afghanistan, every day that he delays getting out, completely — delays getting out in the name of
exit strategies and
central fronts and
responsibility — which is to say, delays that happen because he is still convinced that, with the right sort of gradualist policy, he can somehow try to win wars that should never have been fought — is another person who is killed so that Barack Obama, after being elected as a peace candidate, can adopt and prolong the collossal, catastrophic mistakes of a disastrous failure of a predecessor, so that he won’t come off as being soft on national defense.
We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country, we could be quiet, we could hold our silence, we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, not the reds, but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out….
Now we are told that the men who fought there must watch quietly while American lives are lost so that we can exercise the incredible arrogance of Vietnamizing the Vietnamese.
Each day to facilitate the process by which the United States washes her hands of Vietnam someone has to give up his life so that the United States doesn’t have to admit something that the entire world already knows, so that we can’t say that we have made a mistake. Someone has to die so that President Nixon won’t be, and these are his words,the first President to lose a war.
We are asking Americans to think about that because how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?
And today, the questions are questions for Barack Obama, the latest in a long and despicable line of men who have served their political ambitions with anti-war promises, and then went on killing so that they could
win the peace.
So, Mr. Obama, how do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Iraq?
How do you ask a woman to be the last woman to die in Afghanistan?
How do you ask a child to be the last child to die in Pakistan?
How do you ask someone to be the last one to die for a mistake?
Afghan girls continue to be sexually exploited, reported the Afghan Interior Ministry Thursday. The Ministry told Reuters that the number of sexual assaults on children has significantly increased. The Afghanistan Human Rights Organization (AHRO) has reported that in January a 10 year-old girl was raped in Jowzjan province and that groups of men raped a 12 year-old girl in June in Sar-I-Pol province and a 3 year-old girl in July in Jowzjan province. Cases like these abound.
A 12 year-old girl who was raped at gunpoint by five men has publicly spoken about the gang rape. A video of the girl and her family was posted online by the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan. The girl pleads for help from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Since the video became public, the family has met with Karzai, who has reportedly fired the police chief where the attack occurred, according to
Relatedly, an Islamic cleric was detained for allegedly presiding over a marriage of a 7 year-old girl to a 17 or 18 year-old man. Legally, girls under 16 and boys under 18 can not marry in Afghanistan. However, according to the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women 57% of Afghan girls are married before age 16, frequently to settle their family's debts or other disputes.
It’s important to remember that, whatever problems Afghan men may or may not have as a cultural group, the rampant violence against women and girls in Afghanistan has nothing essentially to do with some peculiar vice of Afghans, or with some peculiar vice of Muslims. The violence and the devaluing of girls’ lives and freedoms has to do with some things that are shared by all known cultures — violent patriarchy, male sexual entitlement — and a lot also to do with a set of political and economic circumstances — the political elevation and unchecked power of regional warlords with the arms and backing of the U.S. military, the ongoing civil war between U.S.-backed and Taliban-backed fundamentalist factions, the grinding poverty produced by years of war and sustained by a military occupation and an insane, U.S.-sponsored attack on Afghanistan’s most lucrative cash crop, and so on — which sustain an environment of poverty, terror, and insecurity, which the most vulnerable people — especially women and girls — bear the brunt of. War is the health of the patriarchy, and the conditions created and sustained by war and occupation and the zealous effort to impose the U.S. government’s imperial policies (such as the terror-famine drug eradication policy) on Afghanistan, are all part and parcel of the problem. As I said in an earlier post, on the issue of marrying off young girls:
One good way to make any existing form of oppression even worse is to throw the people involved in it into desperate poverty: the first victims of poverty are always the most vulnerable people within the poor community, and in places where the human dignity and well-being of women and girls is worth less than nothing to the men who hold cultural and political power, one of the things that poor families are going to “sell” is likely to be the lives of their young girls.
And the point goes not just for the specific policy of opium eradication (as disastrous and idiotic as that particular policy is), but for the whole program of U.S. Empire in Afghanistan.
Please support the life-saving work of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan, which is working to provide refuges and schools for women, to oppose warlordism and misogynist fundamentalism, and to end the U.S. government’s ongoing occupation and war against the people of Afghanistan.