ANTONIA JUHASZ, [email]
Juhasz is a fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism and was recently in Afghanistan. She wrote the just-published piece “The New War for Afghanistan’s Untapped Oil,” which states: “With the close of 2012, the Pentagon has revealed a disturbing trend in Afghanistan: Taliban attacks remained steady, or in some cases increased, over 2011 levels. I experienced the Taliban surge firsthand this past November, and can offer a cause not cited in the Pentagon’s report: oil and gas.”
SONALI KOLHATKAR, [email]
Kolhatkar is co-author of Bleeding Afghanistan: Washington, Warlords, and the Propaganda of Silence and is co-director of the Afghan Women’s Mission. She said today: “The U.S.’s presence did not create peace and its departure will not create it either. The U.S.’s presence only served to strengthen the internal forces of war over more than a decade.”
KATHY KELLY, [email] [in Afghanistan, 9.5 hours ahead of U.S. ET]
In Afghanistan since December 20, 1012, Kelly just wrote the piece “Seeking Security in Afghanistan” with Martha Hennessy. They are representing Voices for Creative Nonviolence and are guests of the Afghan Peace Volunteers. Hakim is with the APV.
Wrote Kelly and Hennessy: “This week, in Washington, D.C., Presidents Obama and Karzai will discuss a proposed Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States. Presumably, they’ll note some of the main security problems Afghanistan faces.
“The people of Afghanistan have only seen cosmetic improvement in their living conditions. UNICEF reports that 36 percent of the people live in poverty and that over one million children suffer from acute malnourishment. According to available World Bank figures, about 73 percent of people in Afghanistan lack access to clean drinking water and 95 percent do not have access to sufficient sanitation. Limited access to medical facilities and the absence of knowledge, skills and the ability to effectively manage these diarrhoeal diseases usually leads to the death of 48,545 children each year — approximately 133 children per day.
“In and around Kabul alone, there are an estimated 35,000 internally displaced refugees living in 50 camps. We’ve seen the wretched conditions there and walked away feeling ashamed of our warm clothes and easy access to food and potable water.
“Kabul appears secure, but it is merely a fragile ‘bubble’ where people feel relatively removed from fighting, compared to areas of the country afflicted by regular Taliban and NATO/ISAF attacks. A young Pashto friend of ours spoke to us with frustration yesterday about how little understanding people in Kabul have for people in his province, called Wardak, where people live in constant fear of drone attacks and night raids.
“The U.S. Congress doesn’t seem to believe in non-military solutions. … Over the past ten years of occupation, the United States could have assumed a responsibility to help establish a sustainable economy and infrastructure. Instead, although billions were spent (in October 2012 the office of the SIGAR, SpecialInspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, released its 17th and latest report on reconstruction reported that, after a decade, U.S. government spending approaches the $100 billion mark), the U.S. forces will leave behind many millions of war-weary, exhausted and economically desperate people.”
Also see recent interview with Malalai Joya, “A Voice for Peace in Afghanistan: Stop This Criminal War”.