Friday, November 22, 2013

The Path Forward | Day two of the Jirga

The best way to acknowledge the millions and millions of war widows, orphans, and displaced is to end this war. Helping people meet basic needs should be seen as an obligation and a strategic priority, not an act of charity.

Instead, the US is making threats and ultimatums. Demanding a quick decision that endorses a militarized super-structure focusing more on US goals than Afghan needs by asking…

How many US troops will be in the country?
What will be their role as advisers and enablers to Afghan forces?
Will they be allowed to conduct night raids and detain people?
Will they have immunity from Afghan law?
What type of weapons systems should we provide?
Can they attack bordering countries from Afghanistan?
Will they be obliged to respond to attacks from bordering countries?

Photo from UNICEF – Afghanistan

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Jirga and the Bilateral Security Agreement

Yesterday it was announced that the Governments of Afghanistan and the United States reached an agreement to keep US troops - and massive military aid - in the country until 2024. The agreement must first be affirmed by a Loya Jirga and then the Afghan Parliament. Details from day one.

The challenges facing Afghan civil society to overcome militarism will be daunting. Over the past few years far-reaching partnerships, arrangements and designations have sought to use military aid, training, and equipment to build up government security forces in order to define the transition period (2014 – 2024). Far fewer resources are being invested in strategies that can begin to address root causes.

Instead of soldiers, armed contractors, and covert action what if we supported peace-building, reconciliation and healing?

An Afghan protester holds a banner reading "Signing Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with the USA is a treason" at the loya jirga, a meeting of Afghan elders, in Kabul on November 21, 2013 (AFP Photo/Massoud Hossaini)

For Afghan alternatives look at the sites below.

Project 50 | Portraits – People – Lifestyle – Arts

Our man in Kabul

Afghanistan: Its people and daily life through pictures

Missing from the today’s commentary is the militarized super-structure that the US is funding. Afghans deserve better.

Afghanistan National Security Forces (30 September 2013)
176,818 - Afghan National Army
153,153 - Afghan National Police
6.616 - Afghan Air force
TOTAL 336,587

Afghan Special Forces
24,286 Afghan Local Police (Trained by US Special-Forces)
19,612 Afghan Public Protection (to replace private armed contractors)
TOTAL 43,898

US Military and Contractors
64,000 - Troops Deployed in Afghanistan (September 2013)
85,528 - DoD Contractors (October 2013)
14,056 - DoD Private (October 2013)
TOTAL 163,584

Total Forces: 544,069

Number of US Troops from SIGAR
Contractor numbers from CENTCOM Quarterly Contractor Census Report (DoD)
Afghan Security Forces from SIGAR

Afghanistan 101 is a blog of the American Friends Service Committee
215-241-7000 ·