News Release

Afghanistan’s “Most Formidable Warlord”

Reuters reports: “The Taliban have chosen late supreme leader Mullah Omar’s longtime deputy to replace him, two militant commanders said on Thursday, as Pakistan announced that peace talks between the insurgents and the Afghan government had been postponed.”

KATHY KELLY, BUDDY BELL, kathy at, buddy at, @voiceinwild
Kelly and Bell are co-coordinators of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. They just wrote the piece “No Warlords Need Apply — A Call for Credible Peacemaking in Afghanistan.” Kelly was released from prison in April for protesting outside U.S. military bases operating killer drones. She was in Afghanistan last month.

Kelly appeared today on NPR affiliate WBEZ’s “Worldview” program. She stated that the U.S. has enacted various policies, including killer drone strikes, that “have exacerbated” the problems in Afghanistan, adding that the structure of current “peace talks” has “left ordinary Afghans out of the equation.” She also drew a parallel between African Americans being killed by police in the U.S. because of profiling and the U.S. military killing people in Afghanistan and other countries based on profiling. See “Get the data: Drone wars” from the Bureau for Investigative Journalism.

Kelly and Bell’s recent piece states: “In the short time since the first round [of peace talks] on July 7th, fighting has intensified. The Taliban, the Afghan government forces, various militias and the U.S. have ramped up attacks across Afghanistan.

“Some analysts say the Taliban may be trying to gain territory and clout to give them leverage in ‘peace talks.’ Taliban forces, apparently beginning to splinter since the supposed death of Mullah Omar, are now competing with a new Islamic State presence in Afghanistan as various armed groups try to recruit new fighters from among ultra-conservative sectors of the regional population. Spectacular and frightening suicide bombings, hostage taking and a demonstrated capacity to force Afghan government soldiers into retreat or surrender might bolster a group’s claim to be effectively ejecting foreigners from Afghanistan.

“However, the U.S., with its history of waging aerial attacks, using helicopters and weaponized drones, and engaging in constant aerial surveillance, along with its continued night raids and detention of civilians, effectively carries itself as the most formidable warlord in the region.

“Throughout June, according to the New York Times, ‘American drones and warplanes fired against militants in Afghanistan more than twice as much as they had in any previous month this year, according to military statistics.’ On July 19th, 2015, U.S. helicopters even fired on an Afghan army facility in the Logar province, killing seven troops and wounding five others. …

“Meanwhile, top U.S. military officials have met with president Ashraf Ghani to talk about extending the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, beyond 2016, in light of a possible threat from Islamic State fighters. On July 19th, the Los Angeles Times reported that Gen. John Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. Following the meeting, General Dempsey said he agreed that the U.S. needed to have a transnational strategy against the Islamic State. He said he would raise Ghani’s idea that Afghanistan ‘could serve as a hub from which the U.S., its allies and Afghanistan itself could work to prevent Islamic State from gaining followers in South Asia the way it has in the Middle East.'”