Thursday, August 19, 2010

US war- Afghanistan and Iraq

US Withdraws Last Combat Brigade from Iraq, But 56,000 Troops Remain

The US has officially withdrawn its last designated combat brigade from Iraq, two weeks ahead of a deadline for the withdrawal of some 14,000 troops. In a surprise announcement, the Pentagon said the last combat brigade crossed over into Kuwait earlier today. Although the withdrawal has been hailed as a major milestone in the Iraq war and an end to combat operations, most of the remaining 56,000 US troops are still trained in combat and will continue to carry out armed attacks. The Obama administration also plans to double its private military force in Iraq to an estimated 7,000 contractors. According to the New York Times, the bulk of the private military force will be deployed at five compounds across Iraq, where they’ll perform duties including operating drones, deploying reaction forces and operating radars to detect militant attacks. In an interview on Democracy Now!earlier this month, independent journalist Jeremy Scahill said the Obama administration’s withdrawal plan amounts to a rebranded occupation.
Jeremy Scahill: "What is essentially unfolding here is a downsized and rebranded occupation, Obama-style, that is going to necessitate a surge in private forces. The State Department is asking for MRAP vehicles, armored vehicles, for Black Hawk helicopters and for these paramilitary forces. So, yes, you can say that officially combat has ended, but in reality you’re continuing it through the back door by bringing in these paramilitary forces and classifying them as diplomatic security, which was Bush’s game from the very beginning."


Hundreds Protest Deadly US Raid in Afghanistan

In Afghanistan, hundreds of people have blocked a main highway outside the city of Jalalabad to protest the killings of two Afghan civilians and the arrest of several others in a US raid. A local police commander said the victims were a father and his son.
Col. Ghafoor Khan: "As a result of the operation in the house, two people have been martyred, a father and his son, and three others have been taken away. Those who have been killed and those who have been taken away are farmers working in the lands."

US: Afghan Ban on Armed Contractors Could Threaten Aid

The Obama administration is warning that an Afghan government ban on private military firms could harm US aid and development work in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai issued a decree this week ordering all private firms to disband within four months. About 26,000 armed security contractors work with the US government in Afghanistan, including 19,000 with the US military. In a statement, the US embassy in Afghanistan said, "We are concerned that any quick action to remove private security companies may have unintended consequences, including the possible delay of US reconstruction and development assistance efforts."

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