Is the dancing over?

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Thu 07 Nov 2002 - 03:32:34 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: Is the dancing over?"

    And I take major umbrage at your 'final solution'
    >canard; that's what Hitler was doing to the Jews. The only belligerent
    >who has gassed people in the present conflict is Saddam Hussein.

    If umbtrage makes you feel better, take it. I had no intention of equating Sadam to the Jews or Hitler. I was talking about using war as a final solution to a political problem. You matched it in your head with something Hitler said, but it was not a match in my head. I meant killing someone is THE "final solution" to a problem. No matter who you do it to, it takes away all alternate solutions.

    As a sign the dancing in the streets might be over, here is a story from the South China Morning Post:

    Jackals or lions? US forces upset Afghans Laura Winter

    There was nothing to do but surrender to the moment. The roar of a Chinook helicopter's rotor blades clawing at the air to lift its more than 10 tonnes from Jalalabad's airport caused the window of Mohammad Ishaq's pharmacy to rattle violently.

    About 10 seconds later, as the helicopter moved away, Mr Ishaq resumed his social posture and leaned across the glass display case of boxes of gastritis tablets.
    ''The Americans are not bad people. We know this,'' he said. ''Up to now they were respected. But that is changing. They tell us lies. They said they would help Afghanistan. They promised us peace. But they haven't brought peace. They are good but they are doing the work of others. And those other people are not good. Some Afghans do not have a good character.''

    The 45-year-old pharmacist and history teacher is not alone in his views. He complains that Jalalabad's commander, Hazrat Ali, has become a new warlord.

    Mr Ishaq said Mr Ali - a member of Nangarhar province's minority tribe of Peshayee - was uneducated. He accused the US military of bypassing the will of the people, saying: ''They chose a person we don't want.''

    In Jalalabad's clothing market, Jan Afghan, 25, makes his living on a pedal-operated sewing machine decorating women's clothing. He also believes US soldiers are doing a good job, but has reservations. ''They do all this good work. But it's true that they are working with Hazrat Ali. It is not good to give him so much power. The people need to decide who should have the power.''

    Mr Ali dismissed the criticism, saying the local people did not have any understanding of the security situation. ''If the Americans go from here there will be a war between the fighting groups. They [the fighting groups] will loot the people's homes and businesses. The local people do not understand,'' he said.

    But it is not difficult to appreciate the concerns of Mr Afghan and Mr Ishaq about their US military guests. The commander that US special forces have chosen to cruise around town with was reported by Kabul Television as extorting money from travellers at checkpoints on the highway to the Pakistan border.

    This is cause for concern in Kabul because that road is a key supply route for the capital. Similar practices during the Mujahedeen regime were blamed as being among the main reasons why the people allowed the Taleban to come to power.

    In Jalalabad, some have even begun to voice their complaints in the local press. The editor of the Nangarhar Daily, a Jalalabad-based newspaper, recently published an anti-foreigner poem penned by Mariam Nasari, 25. In it, she accused Afghan men of forgetting their fiercely independent past for fear of what foreign forces may do if they voice their protests:

    What a strange situation. I'm shocked, oh people. A few jackals have come here and keep the lions. No one can tell the truth who brought us to this state of being. Powerful hands cover our mouths and silence us.

    Lending credence to the poet was a recent incident in which arms were confiscated with US military help from one commander serving under the national army and given to Mr Ali, who represents the same army.

    Last month, near Nangarhar's border with Pakistan, a base controlled by the province's border guard chief, Haji Abdul Zahir, was raided by armed men, according to soldiers at the base.

    ''They came from three directions,'' said 40-year-old Amber Khan, a border guard who was sleeping at the base that night. ''There were maybe 50 Americans. Their faces were hidden by black masks. Some had the glasses that are used for seeing in the night.''

    Mr Khan said the Americans told him and his fellow border guards to sit on the ground while they tied their hands. He said it took 10 minutes for the armed men to find what they wanted - a speech-impaired Chechen.

    With the prize in hand, he said the Americans stepped back while their Afghan counterparts searched the men kneeling in the dust. Mr Khan said Mr Ali's men took 75 rifles, two cannons and US$310 (HK$2,418). Before the armed group left the base, Mr Khan said the raiders beat him and his comrades with their fists and rifle butts.
    ''We have been fighting al-Qaeda and the Taleban for six years. If he was al-Qaeda we would have given him to the Americans,'' Mr Khan said.

    Commander Zahir said he had offered the Chechen man to US special forces in May. ''I told them three times. I waited,'' the commander said. ''I had him interrogated for 15 days. Everyone said he was crazy. The judges told me to put him in a mental hospital.''

    Mr Ali confirmed Mr Khan's story, but would not disclose what had happened to the weapons.

    Representatives of the US army stationed at Bagram did not respond to e-mail inquiries about the incident, or to questions about the special forces' relationship with Mr Ali.

    The problem caused by the incident was not lost on President Hamid Karzai or on Nangarhar's governor, Haji din Mohammad.

    Mr din Mohammad said he and the Afghan president had discussed the matter with US Lieutenant-General Dan McNeill, commander of the military forces in Afghanistan. The governor, who is Haji Abdul Zahir's uncle, said he had received assurances any similar situation would be dealt with differently.

    Laura Winter is a correspondent for the Post.

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