Tuesday, 24 November 2009

War in Somalia, An Analysis

Somali Shabab forces struck at an AU base in the capital, Mogadishu, killing 14 enemy soldiers on 17th September 2009. The slain men included 10 Burundian troops and 4 Ugandan soldiers. Among the dead was also the deputy commander of the pro-American AMISOM mission stationed there.

This was the latest round of spiralling changes following Ethiopia’s alleged re-entry in Somalia earlier in September. The World media announced Ethiopian forces had annexed a town without firing a shot; a report immediately denied by Addis Ababa.

The previous month, pro government militias including the AJW were in jubilant mood following the tactical withdrawal of the Hizbul Islam, a Muslim group allied to the Shabab from the town of Luuq on 19th August. In another area of Somalia, Bulahara, a second town, was immediately fortified following the Shabab’s temporary retreat two days earlier on 17th August

Both towns were quickly seized and easily recaptured by the respective pro-Shariah groups. On Thursday 20th August Somali government forces fought fierce battles with the Shabab in the town of Buloborte and withdrew in humiliation from there some time later.

Earlier, the key town of Jowhar, north of Mogadishu, fell to the Shabab on 17th May 2009 after the pro-government chief militia withdrew from their positions after a day long siege.

Jowhar was selected as the temporary seat of parliament since 2005 and is the hometown of the country’s pro-US President Sheikh Ahmed Sharif. The government has been losing ground for weeks but has downplayed its defeats.

The Shabab had similarly annexed the City of Hudur, close to the border with Ethiopia on 25th February 2009. It was their second major success since the election of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the Somali President in January 2009. The Somali government had shifted to Hudur last month when Baidoa fell to the Shabab in January.

Hudur is 180 miles northwest of Mogadishu and fell to the Shabab after a short battle with government militias. The militias withdrew from the city leaving the Shabab in control. The fall of Hudur is just one of several other conquests including Buloborte and Elbur, also north of the capital taken by the Shabab in the last six months.

The Ethiopian Army left Somalia on Friday 15th January 2009, a process it had started in the first week of the year. It permanently left behind 3, 773 comrades on Somali soil as a reminder of its invasion three years earlier.

As it withdrew its forces, the last remaining outposts were dismantled and then the power vacuum which several secularists and other anti-Islamic hardliners had long since forewarned materialised.

The Ahlus Sunnah Waljamaca (ASW), a self-styled so-called ‘Islamic’ group’ is likely to be have been armed by withdrawing Ethiopian forces, and is waging the weak Somali government’s war on the Shabab with varying success.

No one had heard of the group until very recently and to this day, no one seems to be interested in its origins, ideologies, strategies, sources of military arsenal and actual purpose. Ethiopia and the US are their likely arms suppliers and sponsors.

The fact that the World Media calls them ‘Islamists’ sheds some suspicious light on them, the US hates any group that says they are all for Islamic governments, so why the silence on the ASW and lack of condemnation.

The Shabab meanwhile are still the most powerful army in Somalia and the sudden emergence of the ASW, is likely to have been a response to contain the Islamic forces from assuming office and delay the inevitable; an Islamic Emirate in the African continent.

African Union forces (AU) from Uganda and Burundi currently make up 3, 500 soldiers, but insists on shying away from direct military involvement with any of the various militias. Their role, they say, is to protect the Somali Presidential Palace, Parliament and senior politicians.

They were nowhere to be seen however; when the presidential palace was heavily shelled from hilltops overlooking the building on the same day the Ethiopians completed their withdrawal.

Both before and after the Ethiopian military left Mogadishu, fierce fighting between the Shabab and the ASW erupted and has left scores dead from either side. The Shabab now control most of Somalia in the south while the ASW is the largest rebel faction to oppose it and the only one not to be spoken against by the fledgling Somali government.

Interestingly, the AU forces have not condemned the ASW, which shows tacit approval from their side and similarly the new Somali President, elected in February 2009, is only interested in moving against the Shabab alone.

The AU however have since lost any popular public support if ever they had it after opening fire on civilians when one of their convoys was attacked via a roadside bomb in early February 2009.

The resulting gunfire from AU troops left over a dozen Somali men, women and children dead and a growing distrust towards foreign forces and their exact intentions. The AU suffered no casualties both from the earlier explosion or the ensuing firing by their own troops.

The Shabab meanwhile have assumed actual consolidation of Baidoa, pockets of Mogadishu and the outlying areas as well as most of Somalia itself. The Shabab have promised to protect the interests and rights of all people and legislate according to Shariah law alone. In this manner, perfect justice will be exercised, implemented and exerted across the land as a whole.

Its chief rivals, the ASW, have since largely disappeared from sight, but briefly took the empty police stations and checkpoints across the capital following the Ethiopian withdrawal.

A so called ‘moderate islamist’ (in reality a US supporter and US friendly interpreter of Islam) was elected President (not by the common masses, but by politicians outside Somalia) some time later.

11 Burundian soldiers were killed in February 2009 after a vehicle carrying explosives crashed into a military building used by the AU troops. Burundi condemned the attack and vowed to send a battalion of 850 soldiers. Heavy fighting escalated following the incident.

Somalia 2006-

Officially there are only three fronts the US has declared a multinational coalition war on, the third being Somalia, but only the first two have deep and meaningful US military involvement.

Ethiopia, pulled out its forces in January 2009, and did America’s bidding in Somalia from 1996 ousting the popular Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) administration that ruled large parts of the country under Shariah law for six months in 1996.

Despite International press reports, only southern Somalia is in a state of war. The North is like a different country with peace, relative harmony, little insecurity, no scarcity of food, no reports of kidnapping, rape, torture, corruption and certainly no displaced populations because of conflict and disease.

Aside from that, the Somali government, once supported by Ethiopian troops backed by US weapons and subsidies from Djibouti (where US forces are stationed), controls only Mogadishu and until early 2009 held Baidoa (where the Somali Parliament is situated) in addition to a few army barracks.

Despite this it is still recognised as the legitimate government by the International community led by the United States, who overthrew a popular, more stable and strong administration.

The Somali President, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, a US puppet ruler who resigned in late December 2008 over problems he encountered with the Prime Minister and his ministers in dealing with the Mujahideen, had little authority or jurisdiction outside the capital, Mogadishu.

In November 2008, he further admitted the errors of his own government in tackling the nation’s anxieties and the Somali Mujahideen, known as the Shabab, were now as invigorated as ever.

“Islamists have taken over everywhere else, so if I ask you parliamentarians: do you know the situation we face? Who causes all these problems? We are to blame.”

The following month, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, announced African forces in Somalia namely from Uganda and Burundi, supporting them now also want to leave the country soon.

His comments came during Prime Minister’s Question time in the Ethiopian Parliament, which showed the seriousness of his statements. The two named countries then promptly denied this.

Members of the al-Shabab group now control most of the country and had advanced to the suburbs of Mogadishu, as well as Baidoa, he added. People have spoken of seeing the Shabab even inside the Capital itself, who neither harass nor kill civilians.

The Al Shabab have since consolidated their gains and are now fully in control of all conquered territories. Shariah law is legislated, implemented and regulated with adherence to the strict guidelines of the Sunnah and the Qur’an.

Nationalist militias and different warlords with a variety of agendas (some local, others tribal and a few regional) across the country also make their presence felt with much greater effect than the government and pirates roam in the sea.

All organised military factions are held together by one common aim- the expulsion of the Ethiopian presence in their country. There is further displeasure at American interference of their national affairs and forcing their government to spend less on the economy and overcoming poverty and more on waging war against the pro-Shariah Somalis .

In December 2008, a new group incorrectly calling itself the Ahlus Sunnah Waljamaca, declared war on the Shabab. The new group is made up of several creeds and factions with little or no connection to one another and are not interested in the legislation, implementation or enforcement of Shariah, only in causing confusion and anarchy among Muslims in Somalia and abroad through its name and Western media support.

The new group is indirectly supported by the US to divert attention to the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces and assist the fledgling Somali government for as long as possible which is otherwise due to collapse once all foreign troops leave.

The group is said to be strong and has engaged in several confrontations with the Shabab allegedly with some level of success, the probability is it was supplied with weapons, military information and surveillance from Washington.

The Shabab themselves, projected as the villains of the Somalia with links to Al Qaeda, however, are different from the six-month old Islamic administration of Southern Somalia of 2006, known as the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC).

The latter still exist, but have no direct links or influence on the Shabab. The latter started as a junior member of the UIC, one of many groups who supported the UIC in its aims to legislate and implement Shariah law, but have since broken away. It is the Shabab now who hold the key to the best salvation for the entire nation.

While the UIC never assumed the reins of government in its entirety, the lands and territories that passed under their control were administered with fairness, tolerance, peace and a degree of prosperity not seen for 16 years.

They emerged initially as a formation of interests by different classes of people and quickly ascended in popularity. Representatives intervened on behalf of people wronged by warlords and championed their causes.

The US overthrew the Islamic presence with Ethiopian military assistance and re-installed the deeply unpopular and unstable present administration in the areas previously held by the UIC.

The Islamic successors to the UIC, the Shabab, upon assuming power, have attained personal popularity, brought law and order and a semblance of peace to an otherwise shattered nation in the areas they now hold.

The present Somali puppet government has declared the Shabab as the ‘Somali Taliban’ and the US similarly declared Somalia as being in grave risk of destruction if the Ethiopians withdrew.

The Ethiopian Army remained in Somalia for years despite its resentment by Somalis and the near bankruptcy of its own country because of famine, drought and its ongoing occupation of a nation it has been unable to consolidate or win the trust and support of.

However, in recent months, despite superior weaponry, military arsenal and larger numbers of servicemen and recruits, the Ethiopian military became bogged down and was unable to contain the onslaught of the new Muslim revolutionary forces.

At first, reports of defeat on the battlefield were played down and denied but as town after town fell and the fatalities started to mount heavily, the Ethiopians grudgingly started to come clean about its failures both on the ground and in the air.

It was airpower that enabled the Ethiopians to retake Mogadishu from the UIC in the 1990s but despite limited jet planes, the Shabab have the aerial advantage now too.

The Shabab first came to light in the mid 1990s, but were initially overshadowed by the larger, more powerful and influential UIC, whom it allied itself with voluntarily in its early years.

It was in June 2006 the UIC made headlines when they captured the Capital, Mogadishu from the government. In the months that followed more southern cities and major towns fell to them including Burkhaba, Jowhar and Kismayo.

No massacres, genocide, famine or pestilence came as a result. By December 2006, the Somali government felt it couldn’t stem the thrusts of the UIC Mujahideen, enter the Ethiopians.

Ethiopia had crossed into Somalia as early as July 2006, but only admitted it was sending in military trainers to help the government. The first column included 100 trucks and an undisclosed number of armoured cars.

The same month, the UIC launched a Jihad against the Ethiopian army. It was not until 25th October the Ethiopian government announced it was technically at war with the UIC.

In late November 2006, a resolution in the Ethiopian Parliament was passed allowing the government to take any legal and necessary steps against aggression by the UIC Mujahideen towards them.

In early December, the UIC Mujahideen announced they had been involved in a battle with the Ethiopians. Fierce fighting then erupted lasting almost the entire month between the two sides.

By January, government forces supported by an enormous Ethiopian army and air force using US arms, gun ships, helicopters and mortar fire carried the day. Since then a weak government supported by the US and Ethiopia ruled parts of the country with little actual control.

In mid 2008 however, the Shabab, the successors to the UIC Mujahideen emerged alone (and had since broken with the UIC) with more firepower, recruits and determination.

It has since had several successes in military terms this year, both against the Somali government and the Ethiopian army in addition to evading US missile strikes from across the border in Djibouti, where American warplanes, drones, military intelligence and possibly Special Forces are based.

In three short months they captured five major cities and are now on the verge of taking a sixth, the capital, Mogadishu, by storm. Somali government forces, the Ethiopian army and air force, pro-US local militias and warlords and even the African peacekeeping troops in the country, all failed to stem the thrusts of the Shabab.

In August 2008, the Shabab conquered the key port of Kismayo and installed Shariah law immediately. In September the Shabab drove out the Ethiopians from Beledweyne, a City along the border and close to the capital, Mogadishu.

In October, pro-government militias withdrew from Merka, also in the south and Shariah was again instituted there. All shops, merchants and trading stops at the call to Prayer and the Criminal Law of Shariah restored order, bringing a sense of security and life to the society that had been languishing in darkness. Residents welcomed the change arguing the old ruler had been tyrannical and despotic.

Later in November, the Shabab annexed the cities of Barewe and Elasha, the former is a seaport 180 km from the capital. Although the government is still nominally in charge of Mogadishu, the Shabab are visible and present here as well, conducting training exercises, intermingling with the common people and implementing Shariah and justice.

Like the Ethiopian Army before them, Somali government forces and pro-US militias are in a state of constant and almost daily assault as the Shabab continue to encircle and re-conquer the south fully.

Time is all that is left for the present government to fade from history along with its supporters and lack of actual Western promises of economic or military assistance and aid.

Food, or the lack of it, is a bigger issue for both the Somali and Ethiopian governments as poverty, rising unemployment, excess inflation and a colossal increase in crime drives more and more people against both.

While Ethiopian forces were poised to leave in January 2009 while Burundi and Uganda, which make up the military relief columns of the AU (African Union) services earlier voiced discontent at being left to face the Shabab themselves once Ethiopia withdrew.

The Ethiopians were further undermined by a less than committed ally in the form of the United States. To defeat the Shabab, Ethiopian forces required more troops, Special Forces, more arms, greater surveillance equipment and more finance.

At the time of departure, they had none of those essentials and as such, preferred to leave Somalia to the Somalis. Once the Ethiopians exited, the Somali government, which is collapsing day by day, it was believed would almost certainly fall quickly.

Somalia is thus likely to be the first of the three fronts in the War on Terror to dissolve and end in defeat for the US. Washington is reluctant to despatch forces again (if its 1990s involvement is anything to go by) and few European nations desire to be hemmed in another conflict.

The AU has already announced it wants to protect certain figures and places only, not take on an offensive role or become the object of attack themselves. The AU hopes a full UN force arrives to relieve them soon. A US proposal to the UN recommending this change has been welcomed by Ethiopia and the AU.

There were 3, 000 Ethiopian troops as of January 2009 and now there are 3, 200 AU troops, from two African nations as well as the official Somali government military and a small number of militias and warlord factions who support the present administration.

The AU forces are present only in Mogadishu and Baidoa. The UN has ruled out an international force adding there is no peace to protect at all and dangerous to send UN troops at all.

While the Ethiopians left in January 2009, both Burundi and Uganda were to supply an extra battalion later while Nigeria said it would also despatch a force of 850 personnel in January as well, but didn’t.

US Involvement

The Americans maintain both the UIC and the Shabab are an offshoot branch of Al Qaeda in Africa and are as such sponsors of Terrorism, hence their principal cause of opposition to an Islamic Emirate in Somalia.

The US further stresses it voiced strong opposition to Ethiopian military involvement in Somalia before its invasion in 2006 to dislodge the UIC, but supported them after the first consignment of troops landed across the border.

The support was verbal alone and involved no military supplies as such, the Ethiopians agree to the first point, but not the second. It is because of failed promises of both economic and military aid to Ethiopia, the invaders are now leaving.

Pestilence, famine and economic ruin in Ethiopia itself as well as harassment across the frontier with tiny Eritrea (Ethiopia’s most dangerous adversary) and Somali tribesmen in the troubled Ogaden Province (the only area in Ethiopia where Somalis make up the majority and Somalia itself claims as its own) mean there is now only consequence, bankruptcy and political disaster foreseeable as long as it remains on foreign soil.

The official line to the Ethiopian withdrawal is an agreement drafted in December 2008 between the present administration and several factions including a former rebel group to form a new government once all ‘foreign forces’ leave.

Since no one liked the Ethiopian army, especially the civilians who staged a series of several peaceful protest marches over the years, the reference to ‘foreign’ was both open and blunt for all to see.

Meanwhile, the US itself operates a military base with a small contingent of troops in neighbouring Djibouti and the Somali government has since sold its sovereignty, soil, airspace and civilian population to American fighter bombers; the only military the USA is willing to send to Somalia themselves.

As it has planning permission to demolish Somalia from the air (and through shipments of arms and finances to its puppet Somali government continue its occupation of the Muslim State), it does so without international or UN condemnation.

In early September 2009, the US launched a well rehearsed helicopter raid deep into Somali territory using commandos to kill Mujahideen leader, Saleh Nabhan, a sign of expanding American interest in the region and also of the dissatisfaction of its fledgling ally’s government ability to tackle the Muslim army on its own.

Somalis can aspire for, desire and dream of an Islamic Emirate under Shariah, but must get a democracy instead, so much for real representation of the people, by the people and for the people.

The present administration does not represent the population, is unpopular and controls less than 1% of Somalia, but gets the blessing of the US and its allies; the international community known to some as the ‘United Slaves of America’.

Somalia and the Ogaden Province

Few outside observers have noted the relevance, importance and necessary consequence of the Ogaden Province in Ethiopia in modern times, especially in light of the Ethiopian military presence in Somalia itself from 2006 to the present day.

Even before 1991, when Somalia last had a united and functional government under President Siad Barre (ruled 1969-1991), Ethiopia was seen as the country’s most hated neighbour and opponent.

It was chiefly due to Ethiopia’s occupation of the Somali-majority mineral rich Ogaden Province that provoked the two sides to despise and mistrust the other. Both countries have been in a state of war for several decades against internal opponents and as such have immense combat experience behind them including against each other.

However, since the 1990s, the Ethiopians hold the military advantage, thanks largely to a more stable government and earlier US munitions and weaponry in the form of gun-ships, modern helicopters, superior aircraft, armed convoys and larger numbers of supplies in general.

Against one another, the two nations have fought twice and continued a war of attrition across the border, but chiefly in and around the Ogaden Province for ten years after the second conflict between them. None of the three military encounters brought a lasting agreement or peace. Only more resentment and hatred for the other followed.

The first war in 1964 was brief, yet bloody nonetheless. Both sides gained little and no agreement was reached. The second, between March 1977-July 1978, lasted longer and almost resulted in a complete Somali victory until close to the end of the war.

Under the direction of Somalian President Muhammad Siad Barre, who had been a major before staging a coup in 1969, Somali forces occupied up to 90% of the Ogaden in the early phase of the war.

By July 1977, after just four short months, Somali forces had all but won the war and pushed the Ethiopians out. Ethiopia believed most of Somalia’s army and air force was used in the invasion in the early months.

Ethiopian forces rallied with fresh and regular supplies through heavy Soviet support throughout the war to push the Somalis out of the Ogaden. The resulting shift in fortunes ended in a crushing Somali defeat.

This was especially distressing since the Somali army and air force are actually stronger and more powerful than the Ethiopians. While Ethiopia itself is no pushover itself, the Somalis are more headstrong and fiercer in battle than its much larger neighbour in comparison.

Siad Barre had made the mistake of switching allegiances from the Soviet Union to the US just before launching a full scale invasion of the Ogaden expecting immediate assistance in the form of huge arms shipments and weapons from Washington.

Siad Barre had also misjudged the converse reactions of the USSR to his sudden departure. The Russians had not taken the snub lightly and quickly rushed supplies to his opponents, the Ethiopians, in the wake of the invasion. The Russians wanted an Ethiopian victory.

The US meanwhile under President Jimmy Carter, seemed dumbstruck by it, and sent in defensive support equipment as it had been their newest ally, Somalia, who had initiated the war itself. The Americans did not seem interested in a Somali victory, only in their own international image as patrons of a military aggressor.

The change in military terms gave Ethiopia a massive military boost and cut off Somali aid and reinforcements from abroad or anywhere else, while the Russians continued to furnish further provisions and food to its ally.

The terms of the ceasefire in 1978 were heavily in favour of Ethiopia and as a result of the one-sided clauses within the armistice; the two sides did not waver to wage an undeclared war on the border until 1988. An inconclusive peace between them followed, but again no real or lasting agreement arose and the problem remains to this day.

Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, and with his downfall, the natural consequence of instability; civil war in Somalia while Ethiopia continued its war with Eritrea (then a rebel province) until 1994, when it too became an independent country after almost thirty years of insurrection against the Ethiopians.

In the face of internal troubles between them, neither side looked to the Ogaden seriously, but now that the disturbances within each nation are coming to a close, the issue of the independence of Ogaden is likely to resurface once more.

War in Afghanistan,An Analysis

2009 started gracefully for the Taliban. Twenty policemen were ambushed and killed on New Years Day and another twenty were slain a week later. Later, a low-flying Afghan military helicopter was shot down and its entire crew of twelve soldiers and a senior Afghan general were killed.

The Afghan government, under deeply unpopular President Hamid Karzai, blamed bad weather for the crash; too embarrassing to admit a non national army like the Taliban could be responsible for the disaster.

The airplane; a Russian-made MIG-17 helicopter crashed after coming under fire after it flew at low altitude in the Adraskan District of Herat Province on 15th January 2009. The biggest loss was the death of senior general, Fazludin Ahmad Sayyar, a key commander in charge of the western region. He was one of the Afghan army’s four regional commanders in charge of the entire west of the country.

A total of 60 Afghan security personnel have thus been killed in the first 20 days of the year. Seven policemen were killed on 20th January alone. While the Coalition boasts of fewer than that number, the fact that so many Afghan troops and police have been targeted, shows the Taliban are more interested in sell outs more than white foreigners. It’s a little hard to admit for the Bush and Obama administrations to accept the Taliban have less interest in fighting or killing them.

Afghan security personnel are in comparison unafraid of combat and face to face operations, the Coalition will do everything it can to avoid them. The Taliban similarly wish to engage with those who are not frightened of actual confrontational warfare and since only the Afghan security forces are pushed to the frontline while the Coalition smiles and looks on, the main battles are between these two sides.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) is 80, 000 strong and is supported by 70, 000 police officers, making a total of 150, 000 men at arms. Private security firms employing local Afghans as guards further assist the US Coalition in their own way.

The Afghan security forces in general, are armed with modern weapons including missile launchers, mortars, aircraft, gunship helicopters, armoured tanks, jeeps, humvees, intelligence personnel and logistics support from forty foreign nations.

In addition, they have the benefit of quick treatment in the case of injuries and wear protective clothing. Unlike the Taliban, they also have the privilege of having homes to live in, cooked food and warm shelter.

The Taliban army is less than half that of their adversaries, possess no airplanes, helicopters or intelligence and wear simple shalwar kameez even in wintry conditions, have no air cover against drones and enemy fire from above and will likely die from their injuries since hospitalization and medicine is unavailable.

They use home made weapons, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), AK 47s, machetes, mortars and occasionally rocket launchers. Despite their primitive attire and limited arsenal of firearms, they exist as a formidable group.

You would think an army of this kind would last a short time against a national army. How long could they fight against forty separate nations with vastly numerical and technological superiority. After eight years, it’s the Coalition who have been the first to crack.

From their base in the mountains, the Taliban forces are as tough as ever. Karzai reiterated his call for the Taliban to enter direct talks for an elimination of the conflict, but as the US has already acknowledged, he himself does not run the show. His authority extends only to the corner of his office.

The Americans are in control; hence talks are on their terms and conditions. Nearly 100, 000 troops from other countries are also in Afghanistan. You think Karzai could just ask all of them to leave and they would gladly comply.

The current total is 62, 000 US ground, air and naval support troops and includes commando units compared to 146, 000 US soldiers already employed in Iraq. The UK has 9, 000 troops.

The vast assemblage of troops are in the south and the east along the 2, 400 kilometre border (1, 500 miles) with Pakistan. The US army is in a good position to launch much larger numbers of drones to Pakistan that way as well.

As of 2009, there have been a total 5, 129 Afghan security personnel killed including 1, 149 soldiers (in addition to a senior general), 3, 662 policemen and 339 Private security guards as well as 28 intelligence officers. The year has started terribly for the US and its Coalition in Afghanistan.

How long will it be before the Afghan Army has 2, 000 killed and the likelihood is Afghan Police fatalities is to rise to at least 4, 000 and maybe up to 5-7, 000 or possibly even 10, 000 before the war is over.

A BBC Report in 2008 said up to four Afghan Policemen are killed a day and over 50 a year. Over 800 police officers were killed in 2008, the heaviest ever during the war. 50 were also killed once in one week alone.

2008 started with Iraq as the centre of US focus in the so-called War on Terror. In May of that year, more US soldiers and Coalition servicemen were killed in Afghanistan than Iraq and has since set the pattern for an escalation of fatalities in foreign forces.

At present, if current trends continue where coalition fatalities are concerned, there will be 1100 Americans killed in Afghanistan by mid 2011 and two thousand by 2015. Coalition fatalities are likely to reach close to or up to six hundred or more by 2010. They will reach 1100 dead by 2014.

The number of US and coalition soldiers slain per year is over a hundred and the regular increase in actual numbers is up to forty annually.

In comparison to the other ‘war on terror’, Iraq currently has 260, 000 soldiers and 560, 000 policemen; a total of 820, 000 servicemen assisting the US and its Coalition against its own people.

It already has had over 10, 000 of its men slain; 6, 400 police and 4, 000 soldiers. Regular troops and police are killed with greater frequency than the US and its allies although attacks on the latter still continue with success.

The domestic front on both soils however may soon bear the brunt of the war in the coming years with the World’s aggressors on Afghan soil soon to exit swiftly. Canada plans to withdraw its 2, 500 troops in 2011 and the Netherlands will similarly recall its army within two years.

Other nations are intent on bringing their forces home due to failing finances amid the expensive and costly war with Al Qaeda and the Taliban abroad. There is little talk now of finding the elusive Osama Bin Ladin and more focus on Mullah Omar, which is ironic given that the US went into Afghanistan to arrest and apprehend the former.

In February 2009, Afghanistan saw the bloodiest fighting with 49 coalition soldiers (24 in February alone) killed in less than eight weeks into the New Year. The previous highest, 22 dead, was in 2002. On that occasion, 10 soldiers had died in January and 12 in February.

In comparison to other years to date, US and Coalition fatalities were 44 killed by May 2002, 36 by May 2006, 30 by April 2007, 33 by June 2005 and 40 by August 2003.

In January 2009, 25 coalition soldiers were killed and in February, 24 soldiers were killed; the highest singular death tolls recorded to date in Afghanistan during the so-called ‘war on terror’ for those months. In comparison to last year, by March 2008, there had been a total of 21 killed and this rose to 40 by April 2008.

By March 2009, 77 troops were killed to date (28 in March alone). By May 2008, the figure was 54 killed and by June 2008, it was 77 killed in total in comparison. By July, it was well over a hundred.

The Coalition celebrated the death of its 450th soldier in March 2009, Coalition fatalities are 597 killed to date.

Afghan security personnel in contrast have been struck harder in 2009. They include 438 police and 228 soldiers in addition to 109 Private military contractors (all Afghan PMCs) making a grand total of 761 men slain. In 2008, the Afghan army lost 274 soldiers, while the police lost 871 men and 107 Private military contractors were killed.

The heaviest casualties were 71 killed in January (55 police and 16 soldiers) compared to 51 slain in February and 66 killed in March.

Among those killed in the heaviest and bloodiest Junes ever in this war was the police chief of Kandahar. He was just the most significant of the 25 policemen slain in ambushes and face to face combat missions in Afghanistan.

Another Afghan police commander was killed along with his bodyguard the following week in a separate attack. This brings to 2 the number of Afghan commanders slain in the war.

October 2009 witnessed 281 Americans and 175 Coalition troops (including 92 British soldiers) killed making a total of 459 troops slain. For the full conflict 927 US and 597 Coalition soldiers were slain with a grand total of 1, 528 killed.

This makes a total of 44 US soldiers killed in July and 51 in August 2009 while 77 US and Coalition soldiers were killed in August 2009. September 2009 also saw 70 soldiers killed. October 2009 saw 59 US soldiers and 13 Coalition soldiers killed, making a total of 74 slain.

A total of 19 US and Coalition soldiers were killed in the first week of July 2009, the heaviest casualty rate for some time and this was followed by 18 killed in the first week of August 2009.

The figure of US losses for 2009 is still however less than Iraq despite improvements in security for American military personnel. By June the US recorded 101 killed compared to 95 in Afghanistan. However by early July, it was 112 killed in Afghanistan and 108 in Iraq. The tides had turned.

In July itself, the total number of US and Coalition soldiers killed was 76; an increase of 46 from the previous July in 2008. It was 76 in July 2009, 77 in August, 70 in September and 74 in October making a total of 297 killed in just 4 months.

This is somewhat ironic given that 91 US and Coalition troops had been slain in total for the first four months of the year and 77 in the first three months of 2009, while 295 US and Coalition soldiers died in the whole of 2008.

Also in July 2009, the Afghan government announced that six to ten policemen are killed every day since March this year with nearly 50 killed in one week alone.
Some countries have a risk of extinction; those with fewer than 1000 soldiers in Afghanistan and are used in combat and not support operations or protection of safe areas.

Denmark has 700 troops (and 25 killed), Sweden has 430 troops (and 2 killed), NZ has 120 troops (and none killed), Estonia has 40 troops (and 6 killed), Lithuania has 40 troops (and 1 killed), Spain has 780 troops (and 26 killed), Norway has 485 troops (and 4 killed) and Turkey has 730 troops (and 2 killed).

Among other nations, France, Germany and Italy have a high concentration of forces spread into several pockets of Afghanistan. France has up to 4, 000 soldiers, Germany and Italy over 2, 500 servicemen each while the Netherlands has 1, 700 men.

Spain meanwhile lost 62 men in an air crash unrecorded in official statistics (the highest ever singular loss for any country during the war) while France suffered ten fatalities in one ambush alone in August 2008.

Italy suffered its worst attack on September 2009 when the Mujahideen struck of the former’s two military vehicles. The masterminded assault left six vehicles burned including an Italian humvee and resulted in the deaths of six soldiers and four wounded.

The irony of it all was the attack occurred in a heavily guarded part of Kabul. As of September 2009, Italy has lost 22 soldiers since 2001 (compared to 33 in Iraq). In comparison Germany has had 34 soldiers slain while France has similarly lost 36 and the Netherlands has lost 21 men.

October 2009 also witnessed the greatest singular loss of life among Coalition forces when eight US and two Afghan soldiers were killed in combat with the Taliban
soldiers. The assault left the Taliban to annex the area and the US army to withdraw in humiliation.

UK Involvement

Sometime during the early phase of the war, the UK lost 14 soldiers in a single air accident. All men on board were killed instantly and the event was seen as the worst non-combat related carnage sustained ever in the war.

On another occasion, 7 members of the same regiment were slain; this time via a successful assault on a British military convoy by a lone Taliban soldier. One British survivor lived to tell the tale (and later to leave the army as well).

In late September 2009, an Afghan police officer shot and killed five British soldiers in a rare attack among allies. 11 others were injured in the same incident and some returned fire. Despite the gunfire against him that day, the officer escaped with his life sustaining no injuries on the way.

The officer had been screened a week before the shooting spree and cleared to join the police. The Afghan officer, who was not a member of the Taliban army, was it is claimed by the Afghan government, a sympathiser to the Taliban. A week later, two more British soldiers were killed in quick succession.

The British, it is claimed by some, control the air, while the Taliban are masters of the ground in Helmand, where most of the former’s military bases and soldiers are resident at the expense of the Afghan State.

9, 000 British troops are presently on patrol in Afghanistan. The UK Army lost its 150th soldier in Afghanistan in March 2009, thanks to a roadside explosion and its 200th in August the same year.

98 British soldiers have been killed in 2009 alone compared to just five in the first 4 years of war in Afghanistan. The 84th fatality in September 2009 brought the UK to 400 killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan combined since 2001.

In fact when the US recorded 99 fatalities and the Coalition similarly lost 31 men in 2005, the UK suffered only 1 death the whole year. It was largely a war against the US until 2005, but the UK remained untouched.

It was in 2006, the following year; more bodies were being flown back to Britain for burial. 39 British soldiers were killed that year, 42 in 2007 and 51 in 2008 making a total of 132 by 2009.

In 2009 itself, the British army similarly disclosed that 15 British soldiers were killed in a span of just 10 days, in early July. By late July 21 UK soldiers had been killed. They currently have a full total of 235 killed as of November 2009 with 98 slain in 2009 alone. This is compared to 86 among its Coalition allies.

Also in 2009, the British army for the first time in the war, has further lost more soldiers than the Coalition combined. Prior to 2009, Coalition losses were always 20 to 30 men more that British deaths.

It is also only narrowly behind the Coalition in terms of total fatalities since 2001. British forces have had 234 men slain while Coalition losses are 366 dead; a difference of only 138 men.

The last time the British army had as many fatalities was during the ‘Malaya Emergency’; the official name given by the UK for an actual independence war against them that lasted for twelve years from 1948-1960.

519 British soldiers were killed in that ‘emergency’ which forcibly required the UK to ‘reluctantly’ use Agent Orange and Napalm (nuclear weapons) in addition to decapitation against ‘terrorists’, the name given to anyone who wanted to be free from British rule.

In more recent years, the UK disclosed they had 256 killed in the war against Argentina in 1982. That war lasted for less than 2 months and left more Argentines dead than Britons. Not all of the Argentines had been killed in combat; some of them had been POWs and had been shot in the head while under custody.

2001 and after (Afghan security forces)

In the early phase of the war, the Afghan police suffered least with 23 killed in the first three years. The bloodthirsty US-supported Northern Alliance Rebel army meanwhile lost approximately 200 men in the opening year.

At the time, the Afghan army were the rebels opposed to the government, to Shariah law, to the implementation of Islamic order in general and officially were the Northern Alliance; an amalgamation of warlords, fortune seekers, bloodthirsty gangs, lawless tribes, drug barons, criminal organisations and atheists.

Together, they had accumulated an appalling human rights record with complete disregard to justice, national or religious unity and were interested in making money alone. This was the group the Americans were attracted to support.

The US administration sought to overthrow the Taliban administration; a standing government in office and replace it with one acceptable to itself with American-styled interests and secular legislation.

The Northern Alliance was its answer. Hamid Karzai, an oil director, not a career politician, assumed the Presidency and under him, opium production, completely and totally eliminated under the Taliban government, returned and flourishes to this day.

Today, the Afghan government has authority over only segments of its population and is in greater dismemberment than the one the US invaded in 2001. Crime, warlord rule, fear and anarchy in general is greater now than ever. This is the state the US created and supports.

In the aftermath of the 2001 invasion, the Afghan army itself lost only 17 men in the next two years. All was well it seemed until 2004. 116 soldiers were slain that year followed by 107 dead in 2005 and 114 in the next two years. 337 men lost in three years. The army has still however to exceed the 2, 000 mark in the number of deaths recorded to date.

The Afghan police force in comparison suffered an even worse fate beginning in 2005 with 684 dead, then 1, 019 dead and then 868 dead, a staggering 2, 571 slain in just three years.

In August 2009, Taliban forces defeated and drove out Afghan army units from three pashtun-dominated districts in the north. Kunduz and Baghlan-I-Jadid, the two northern provinces now virtually in Taliban control, is home to Hungarian and German coalition forces.

This means the remaining seven provinces in the north are likely to fall soon, which will disrupt the supply routes for military convoys arming coalition forces on the ground.

In September, the top US and NATO commander in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, warned of ‘failure’ against the Mujahideen. He said a fresh strategy and additional forces were needed to defeat the Muslims. His comments made him the second Coalition commander to echo these fears and request immediate assistance.

In October 2009, the Afghan government announced an additional 4, 000 men had responded to the Declaration of Jihad against the US, its puppet government and the European-dominated alliance and joined the Taliban from abroad.

War in Afghanistan and Iraq, Part 1

The two thousand five hundred day old war has seen 5, 292 Americans killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined, over 200, 000 injured including at least 4, 000 maimed for life and another 448 servicemen who have since committed suicide.

Actual figures however, some reports state, may be up to 12, 000 Americans killed. The US Coalition in contrast is less affected. The USA has been more of an attractive target in comparison. Total fatality figures from both fronts for the coalition currently stand at 919 dead (414 British). This low figure is best explained by the involvement of ‘special forces’ who officially don’t exist and whose statistics go unreported.

The coalition armies’ conduct the ‘mop op operations’ after the commandos are sent in. The role of the former is to look good and take all the glory while the latter do all the hard work.

Former US President, George Bush, in a rare public move authorised the use of more special military personnel in Afghanistan, the new hotbed of hatred for Uncle Sam. The object was to hunt down the enemy within their own territory and engage in combat with Taliban militias.

Coalition militias of local origin also play a key role, as do informers and defectors, who can be paid handsomely and maybe the equivalent of a year’s salary. The only thing is they are not counted as members of the coalition in official statistics.

Militias and local tribesmen are not officially military personnel; hence their presence is a godsend when it comes to casualties among them. Since they are not officers or soldiers, light or heavy losses are acceptable in their ranks and no reports need arise of fatalities within them.

Similarly any defeats, failed uprisings and unsuccessful adventures can be attributed to irate local tribesmen opposed to the Taliban and Anti-American Iraqis with no connection or knowledge whatsoever to the US-led Coalition.

The local security forces make up the next group of ‘insignificant allies’ to be pushed to the frontline. Insignificant in the sense their casualties and fatalities are not recorded with the same disdain, tension and anxiety as coalition countries. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, this means the police force, intelligence services as well as the national army.

Aside from the military figures, civilian personnel are the next greatest source of both actual assistance, World sympathy, propaganda, brainwashing and international media manipulation. The fact that these same non military individuals, organisations and teams of people have openly declared their full support to one side over another should be sufficient to know that you don’t have to be a soldier to be a legitimate enemy target.

Civilian aircraft, truck drivers, construction workers and other artisans, tribal elders at a gathering and even paramedics and hospital workers are brought over for the service of one belligerent in the conflict and to the detriment of its immediate adversary.

In this manner their very presence indicates tacit support for the side they have been employed to serve. They are working for a cause, championing the defence, offensive systems, operations, aspirations and visions of the nation/s they work for.

In Iraq there are few groups opposed to the US than before and whilst they don’t have common agendas and differ geographically, in size, sectarianism and strategy they are united in their hostility to foreign forces determined to remain in their country.

However, four main groups stand out from the rest. They include; ‘Al-Qaeda Organisation in the land of the two rivers’, ‘The Mujahideen Shura Council’, ‘Ansar Al Sunnah’ and ‘The Islamic Army in Iraq’. At least two of the four above groups aspire to achieve and implement an Islamic State based on Shariah law.

Sunni support for the US inside Iraq has contributed to declining US fatalities. In 2007 alone, 904 Americans were killed and it was only in May 2008 that more fatalities occurred in Afghanistan on the American army than in Iraq since the war on terror first began in 2001. Sunni groups are paid regular salaries (bribes) for turning against fellow Muslims, selling their country and making it into a US colony.

The Iraq Islamic Party, a Sunni political organisation, however broke away from US support after one of its men was killed by American soldiers in the City of Falluja in late October 2008.

Whilst the US claims it has brought peace and security to Iraq, the Americans were intent on revising an earlier agreement that would have ended their occupation of the country on December 31st 2008.

The US threatened to cut off all electricity in the country, shut down all reconstruction projects and withdraw all funding to Iraq if their demand to remain were not met, this to the nation they call their friend.

Halting training Iraqi police and soldiers goes without saying adding deep tensions and frustrations about an Iraq that can’t imagine life without an American oxygen tank to pump energy into its atmosphere just so that it can breathe.

Six years into freedom by the US has given most Iraqis no access to clean drinking water, a scarcity of electricity, heavy unemployment, few functioning industries, a high rise in crime in addition to heavy press censorship and an army of occupation that is above the law. All US military personnel whether on or off duty are ‘largely’ immune from prosecution for any actions they commit within the country.

On the war front, in 2008 alone there have been 314 Americans killed in Iraq, coalition forces in contrast had not lost a soldier for five months until December and only six fatalities were recorded outside the US army for the whole year. Pro-American Iraqi security forces in contrast lost 1, 046 servicemen, down from 1, 830 killed in 2007.

It’s obvious the US and its Coalition are not the seen as the major enemy and hence are targeted much less. In 2009, Coalition fatalities are 145 killed (144 US soldiers, the exception was a suicide from a British soldier). This is the first year both US and Coalition losses are so much higher in Afghanistan than Iraq. As of November 2009, there have been up to 481 killed (297 Americans), a difference of 336 and among US soldiers; a difference of 152.

The standard figure in Iraq for losses is nonetheless the smallest ever for the US. The previous lowest was 486 killed in 2003 when the US-led Coalition first invaded the country. In comparison, the Coalition has had 318 killed in total; the largest casualty has been inflicted upon the British army (most of whom were in Basra) who lost 179 men.

War wounded however for the Brits hit over the 1, 000 mark. Some reports indicated it is over 3, 000. The UK announced an end to hostilities in Iraq in May 2009 and left the country in late July 2009 but returned to train Iraqi forces in October 2009. Australia also left in July, but unlike the British were not as selfish to retain a military presence there.

While coalition casualties have indeed fallen sharply, attacks on Iraqi security personnel, native military units and police have risen just as dramatically as have a new wave of anti-American targets on individuals, companies and anyone associated with the US-led alliance. These have included members of the puppet government, contractors and pro-US war journalists.

Among its coalition allies, Poland has withdrawn its entire 100-man army out of Iraq. At its peak, the Polish military stretched to 2, 500 troops in 2003. The 5-year mission ended in late October 2008 with all aims achieved and by common agreement with the US, the Poles withdrew in good terms.

23 Poles were killed in that time. Poland however, still retains a military presence in Afghanistan nonetheless (it currently has 15 soldiers slain there) and is committed to remain in the country for the time being at least. Macedonia and Albania followed suit and left Iraq in December 2008

2008 has also witnessed the heaviest number of fatalities in US and Coalition forces in the war on terror in Afghanistan with 295 deaths (155 Americans and 139 Coalition soldiers), up from 232 in 2007 (117 Americans and 115 Coalition soldiers) and with the credit crunch nibbling away at US finances, so is the American stranglehold on its Asian adversary.

The 1, 000 fatality mark passed in mid October 2008 for Americans and coalition forces combined. Afghan security personnel have ‘officially’ lost 4, 603 men. There are few reports of any regularity as to the casualties of pro-US Afghan forces.

Interestingly, the bulk of British forces (currently 9, 000 troops) are stationed in the South, specifically in the Helmand Province while the remainder serve in the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) across the country.

The UK boasts of coming under fire from Taliban forces with great regularity and actual engagements between them. Only scant information is ever presented, but all of it with pro-British results.

It insists many battles have been hard fought but have always resulted in a ‘decisive’ victory on every occasion. While giving accounts of Taliban casualties, British forces consistently rarely lose a single soldier and sustain no injuries, even minor ones, are not inflicted on its men despite the many battles between them over several months.

The US thus ‘perplexingly’ sent 5, 000 additional troops to Helmand to ‘relieve’ and assist the ‘strong’ and ‘brave’ British army who otherwise don’t really need them. A so-called defence force that has an upper hand over its enemies doesn’t need help, but the British in Afghanistan may just be ‘lonely’ out there by themselves.

That still didn’t stop the head of the SAS, a military branch of the British Special Forces, separate from the British Army, resigning in October 2008, disgusted at his country’s inability to protect its own soldiers in Afghanistan.

The UK, it seems to have an invincible army nonetheless, one that is even greater than the Americans. Even the US loses soldiers every so often while having less combat duties and engaging in fewer battles than its British counterparts.

Not to be outdone by the Brits, the Canadian and Danish militaries also announced a series of fantastic victories in October 2008 against the Taliban army. Like the British before them, both the Danes and Canadians pushed the Taliban out of several areas and secured their gains without conceding a single casualty, even with minor injuries. Interestingly most Danes, Norwegians and even many Canadians are largely air combatants and as such ‘safer’ than on the ground. As of October 2009, even the Afghan army has become ‘invincible’ able to exterminate so many of its adversaries without a single loss to its name in the process.

That’s at least 3 coalition countries with few fatalities and not a single major injury to their name in heavy battles (according to them), some lasting days and weeks at a time. One has to wonder just how ‘heavy’ and ‘intense’ these battles actually were.

What’s more plausible is that Afghan military units were commanded by European officers and supported by drones and Coalition airpower from a distance. Its also possible Afghan soldiers are sent on regular missions to engage with the Taliban and the NATO generals (who are likely to be having tea far from the battleground) take the honours on every occasion.

The forgotten player are sometimes the 80, 000 soldiers from the Afghan National Army in addition to the 82, 000 member police troops (162, 000 men from these two forces alone) and an undisclosed number of Afghan security personnel and indigenous ‘Special Forces’ as well as Afghan Intelligence.

All are heavily armed, NATO-trained and indoctrinated, very much involved and part and parcel of the war on terror against the Mujahideen. Now the US is reaching out to the more than 150 tribes in Afghanistan that border Pakistan (the majority of whom are Pushtun) to join their ranks against their own people.

While the US is an effective enemy in its own right, the chief opponent of the Taliban are those who have sold out their souls and turned their backs on their brothers; the Afghan government, local elders and other lesser leaders and groups of Afghan origin in addition to anyone who actively assists the US Coalition in its vision of Afghanistan on its own terms to the detriment of the country, which includes contractors, who have by default supported the Afghan genocide by the US.

Although the US retains overall command of the coalition and jealously guards its authority and control over all its allies, its forces have moved back to safer areas away from immediate combat zones and flashpoints and left the Afghan security forces (and to a much lesser degree ISAF) to battle the Taliban alone. Most ‘brave’ European countries have opted for the same, mostly in the safest parts of Afghanistan.

In December 2008, Coalition forces said they wanted Afghan security forces to be present everywhere in the country, an indication of the prevailing circumstances in which the US and its allies are actually losing ground but don’t wish to admit it.

Stationing your forces in war-torn nations is one thing, putting them in the frontline where the battle lines are drawn is quite another and not to the taste of the World’s richest countries. Prestige and often praise is gained for the former while the risk of heavy fatalities and image is evident in the latter.

Afghan military casualties and deaths in comparison are not reported separately from civilian fatalities allowing the coalition to hide the true figures of its actual losses to the Taliban.

Regular reports of tremendous successes with the Taliban are clouded by questions over casualties sustained in the operations mounted against them. This is further undermined by Washington’s new approach to offering an olive branch to ‘moderate’ members of the Taliban (i.e. likely insincere ‘sell outs’ and select members excluding the most senior officials), the same people it accuses of being sponsors of terrorism and militant extremists themselves.

Officials now seem to portray Al Qaeda and Taliban as different entities, one as the enemy and the latter as someone they can bargain with (even though Washington still chooses to vilify both). Observers feel this is one way of signalling eventual withdrawal without conceding military or political defeat.

The war in Afghanistan is nevertheless far from won. There is a scarcity of food, healthcare and medicine. In its place, we have strip clubs, wine bars and luxurious hotels and restaurants serving exotic foreign food (which few can afford); even the Internet can be accessed. No industry or infrastructure exists other than the poppy trade which is back and booming.

Eight million Afghans are starving as winter approaches, while Hamid Karzai, the country’s President, has instead spent much needed finances on a luxurious airport in the capital. A worthy investment some would say, while 80% of the population are impoverished and most are still illiterate.

Civilian casualties are rising heavily and this time no one’s blaming the Taliban, US air strikes are not winning friends and American pilot-less drones firing missiles into both Afghanistan neighbouring Pakistan aren’t helping either.

It is estimated that since 2005, approximately between 2, 700 and 3, 210 Afghan civilians have been killed by US and NATO air strikes alone. The US and their allies continue to state the possibility of civilian losses from air strikes, but regard the same from the adversaries as deliberate.

Interestingly Afghan security forces and police units are often used to protect and escort US and Coalition troops in their own barracks! So much for Western valour and zealotry. At other times they are mistaken for Taliban soldiers and shot at. In one of the earliest instances, 14 Afghan soldiers were killed by US ‘friendly fire’.

The US refused to apologise or recognise its forces were in the wrong. Other episodes like this included the aerial bombardment of an Afghan checkpoint where six policemen and one civilian were killed in early December 2008. Another drone assault killed 7 Afghan police in August 2009.

Nevertheless, Switzerland, Georgia and Kazakhstan have withdrawn their forces in the face of their objectives being won. The latter two countries had a small contingent of troops, mainly in maintenance, land mine clearance and administration and neither were involved in combat operations as such.

South Korea similarly withdrew its entire 600-man force in late December 2008 after 4 years. They were involved largely in construction projects in the Kurdish north. In 2004, when it first came, it had 3, 600 troops, the third largest in Iraq at the time, after the US and the UK.

Nevertheless, South Korea supplied only defence troops with even more civilian personnel in comparison in ‘safe areas’ within the capital and did not engage in actual fighting. El Salvador withdrew all its forces out of Iraq in February 2009.

Australia’s 1100 troops which were occasionally involved in military operations are now scheduled to stay longer under a new deal in late 2008. Canada has similarly announced it is to withdraw in 2011.

The Dutch military presence in Afghanistan will come to a close in 2010 as announced in 2009. As of 2009, 21 Dutch troops have been killed since 2001. The Netherlands withdrew its forces in Iraq which numbered 1, 345 troops much earlier.

They join Ukraine (1, 650 troops), Spain (1, 300 troops), Japan (600 troops), Bulgaria (462 troops), Thailand (423 troops), Honduras (368 troops), Philippines (51 troops) and Tonga (45 troops) and Denmark (?) to leave the coalition from Iraq (not Afghanistan) since 2003.

Fatality figures for the two major frontlines in the US-led War on Terror for the Americans and its puppet allies currently stand at 4, 683 in Iraq and 1, 528 in Afghanistan, making a grand total of 6, 212 American and its Coalition troops killed.

If local security forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan combined are included alongside the ‘official’ Coalition, then the fatalities are much larger. The grand total works out to be approximately over 20, 000 killed. That’s too much of an embarrassing insight to publish in the Western mass media.

This is especially more humiliating since the enemy is said to be a few thousand strong, are lightly clad in armour, possess few arms, have no fighter aircraft, contain no modern surveillance equipment, have no anti aircraft weapons or a navy, have no government support from anywhere and are located in the smallest proximity of areas.

Their adversaries, the US, has one of the largest and theoretically most modern armies and air forces of the World, are supported by over forty nations from permission to use their airspace, territory and waterways to supplying combat troops, engineers, field hospitals and contractors.

They are further assisted with intelligence agencies, police networks, a variation of specialist teams and medics of every kind and are literally pumping millions of dollars into the war effort annually and pounding Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan back to the Stone Age, yet are still losing the war on terror nonetheless.

A Brief Note on the Russian Experience in Afghanistan

"The whole problem is that military results are not followed up by political actions. At the centre there is authority; in the provinces there is not.

We control Kabul and the provincial centres, but on occupied territory we cannot establish authority. We have lost the battle for the Afghan people".

The words were spoken by Marshall Sergei Akhromeev, the Russian armed forces commander, to President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1986, but the sentiments expressed and actual situation on the ground for the US, its NATO allies and the Anti-Taliban Alliance is either similar or the same.

He continued-

“There is no single piece of land in this country which has not been occupied by a Soviet soldier. Nonetheless, the majority of the territory remains in the hands of rebels”.

If you replace ‘Soviet’ with Coalition, the portrait of the Western occupation today is all to obvious and perhaps correct as well. It may remain so until a complete withdrawal or a settlement not satisfactory to the present ‘friends’ of the government.

It was in December 1979, 100, 000 Russian troops entered Afghanistan after a plea to invade the country by the Communist President in Kabul. A year earlier, the nation had become Marxist and invited the Russians to ‘restore order’.

The non communists therefore conveniently became ‘terrorists’ in their own country just because they disagreed with totalitarian dictatorship and the occupiers, were ceremoniously described as ‘liberators’. Incidentally, only one non communist country agreed to the Russian invasion, India, under its Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi.

Kabul was stormed and occupied within hours of the invasion by the Russian army and air force, but resistance continued. By 1985, the Russians declared an interest to withdraw.

Over 10, 000 Russian soldiers had been killed by 1986 when the first units of the army of occupation withdrew. By 1988 when the final outposts were handed back to Afghan officers, another five thousand were dead.

Russia had been more than humbled, they had been humiliated and harassed out of a country they had under-estimated and scorned. The same may happen to the US and its allies some twenty years after Soviet forces had been forced to evacuate.

Monday, 23 November 2009

The War in Chechnya 1999-

Ramzan Kadyrov’s declaration of a total cessation of hostilities in Chechnya in late March 2009 was one of many announcements made over the years. The difference now is we were supposed to believe it and support him.

Fewer than 70 separatists remain; at least that’s what President Kadyrov is saying. Up to 30, 000 troops are required however to fight them, maybe more and there’s no talk of pulling them out or of replacing them with pro-Russian Chechen units.

The ‘insurgency’ will be over by April, ambitious words from a subordinate ruler with strong links to Russia. Ironically, the Kremlin (Russian government) remained silent; it neither confirmed nor denied Kadyrov’s evaluations. By July 2009, the ‘insurgency’ was still very much alive.

The Russian army announced its own withdrawal in April. The Kremlin had hinted this the same month. The Kadyrovite administration, which takes its orders from Moscow, may not be up to scratch in containing the Mujahideen once the Russians leave. But are the Russians actually invincible?

It should come as no surprise then that four soldiers were slain in a week; three by a Russian soldier who turned on his own comrades in April 2009. The fourth died via a roadside explosion. The latest deaths bring the official grand total to 4, 912 since 1999. Actual fatalities are likely to be twice as high.

In July 2009, nine Chechen police were killed in another ambush, this time in neighbouring Ingushetia, where much of the fighting now occurs. In another gun battle two police officers and two soldiers were killed. This was three months into the cessation of hostilities as announced by the Kadyrov. In late July 2009, another four Chechen police were killed via an explosion at a concert.

In August four police were killed in an explosion in Grozny while another four were slain a week later making eight police killed in a fortnight.

Russia currently has 100, 000 troops in Chechnya including 40, 000 active soldiers and 60, 000 logistics personnel. The number of Russian police and Special Forces has not been disclosed.

Chechnya in contrast is comprised of 1.2 million people, while Russians make up 23% of the population. The majority of residents are Sunni Muslim and the country chose to embrace Islam voluntarily between the 16th-19th centuries.

The country has been at odds with the Russians since the 1700s with both sides enjoying their fair share of victories and losses over the centuries. Between 1785-91, an uprising led by Sheikh Mansur against Russia inflicted a serious and heavy defeat against Catherine the Great. It was not until the 1830s however, the first full scale war between them erupted lasting until the 1860s.

That was the legend of Imam Shameel, a Non Chechen by birth, who led Chechnya against the Russians for over thirty years. By the war’s end, 18, 000 Russian soldiers had been killed.

First Chechen Russian War 1994-96

Chechnya remained under Russian rule until 1994, three years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This war lasted from 1994 until 1996. On the Chechen side, President Dzokar Dudayev, was killed in 1995, via a rocket attack on his underground headquarters.

The first war in 1994-96 resulted in a total victory for the Chechen forces after the latter completely encircled and overwhelmed the Russian garrisons in Grozny and fully re-occupied the capital forcing a Russian withdrawal.

The Russian army at the time was sent in to subjugate the Chechen troops in the mountains and hills and suffered heavy casualties on the ground. The Russian government underestimated their adversaries.

In that war, widely regarded as the first Chechen War, the Russian Army lost 5, 500 lives according to official sources from the Kremlin. It’s likely the real figure is much higher, just like the fatalities in the present conflict may not be revealed with accuracy either out of embarrassment.

The war ended in 1996 and the Russians withdrew in humiliation and disgrace. Chechnya temporarily achieved independence and implemented Shariah law. The Russians relished a return match and received their opportunity three years later in 1999.

The initial hostility between the two nations was based on creed, now it is over oil. Grozny has up to 60 oil wells alone. Its mineral wealth makes it too attractive to be let go, especially since it is Muslim and has expressed a desire to embrace Shariah law as its constitution.

It was in October 1999, the Kremlin sent in the army and air force a second time to occupy Chechnya after a spate of bomb explosions in Moscow that killed several civilians.

The then Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, declared war on Chechnya: his second in office against the Chechen State. He resigned shortly and handed over the reins of power to current head of state, Vladimir Putin, a former KGB official and black belt martial artist.

Russian planes pounded Chechnya with ruthless carnage on October 29th 1999. A refugee convoy which included five clearly marked Red Cross vehicles was targeted and destroyed killing more than 25 civilians and wounding 70 people.

On the Russian side it has not been so bright either, 60 Russian helicopters have been lost to date. In one attack alone, a MI-26 was shot down and 127 soldiers were killed. The high point of the war according to some was in 2002-3.

The Economist reported up to 30 Russian soldiers were being killed each week and a total of 2000 Russian servicemen were killed the same year. The official figure for Russian military losses for Chechnya for 2002-3 was 4, 749 killed.

Similar to the US after 2001, the Russian government provided no evidence of direct evidence of Chechen involvement before issuing a proclamation declaring Chechnya as the aggressor and ordered a full scale invasion of another independent country.

At first the US, the UN and their allies looked on and made comments, the condemnation of human rights violations came much later as did questions of the legitimacy of the accusations as a pretext for the military option and the resulting conflict between them.

After 2001, the concerns disappeared once the Russians joined the ‘war on terror’ alliance and offered the use of their airspace. Since then the War in Chechnya has become part of the ‘war on terror’, with Chechens as terrorists and no longer as ‘rebels’.

Western governments and the US have since given the Russians free reign to bombard and annihilate the heart and soul of the Chechen people since 2001, although like the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan, things are not going smoothly here either.

Some analysts have suggested the true total of Russian fatalities in ten years of war is closer to between 11, 000- 14, 000 killed. A figure hotly denied and contested by Moscow.

The ‘insurgency’ in neighbouring Ingushetia is regarded as a separate issue with no direct relevance to Chechnya, even when Chechen fighters are actually involved as reported by the Russian media and all casualties and fatalities from the Russian army are recorded as slain soldiers outside of the Chechen conflict.

Unlike the US Army and its coalition partners, the Russians are not afraid of actual combat, direct and face to face with the Chechens on the ground, both in the mountains and in the villages, towns and cities. The Russians are brutal, but cowards they are not.

The Kremlin to this day maintains a handful of ‘Muslim terrorists’ (a few thousand Chechen rebels) are the source of Chechnya’s problems and most of its people are happy and content under Russian rule.

On the war front itself, Russian troops were despatched to Chechnya and advanced to Grozny, the capital in the first month after days of heavy aerial bombardment and the destruction of civilisation.

Unlike 1994-96 the Russian Air Force was sent in first to clear the way for the army of occupation to have a smooth entry.

On 6th December 1999, Russian aircraft dropped a leaflet on Grozny giving the people five days to escape. It said, ‘You are surrounded. All roads leading to Grozny are blocked. Those who remain will be viewed as terrorists and bandits. They will be destroyed by artillery and aviation. There will be no further negotiation. Everyone who does not leave the city will be destroyed. The countdown has started.’

All of Chechnya came under Russian occupation by February 2000. Once inside, the Russians were hard pressed and the Chechens initialised the second stage of the war; the guerrilla phase.

As of March 2000, the official figure of Russian fatalities stood at 1, 836 killed and 4, 984 wounded. The same month, one lethal ambush left 43 Russian soldiers and policemen dead, a mere six months into the war.

The Chechen Army then achieved a series of marvellous victories on the ground. In one operation alone, the Russian army lost 84 paratroopers to a surprise ambush, a rare disclosure of such a colossal figure in the first week of March 2000.

The deceased soldiers belonged to the ‘76th Russian Airborne Division’ and were wiped out on the mountains of Southern Chechnya ‘because fog did not allow the deployment of attack aircraft’ according to the Kremlin.

The Russian government admitted the paratroopers had been killed and said it had occurred in a six hour battle with Chechens, but also said some fatalities were by ‘friendly fire’. Two days later, 20 Russian commandos were slain in yet another ambush. Captain Viktor Romanov and Colonel Mark Yevtukhin, were among those killed.

Another surprise attack left 26 Russian servicemen dead. Two ambushes alone resulted in the deaths of 110 Russian servicemen in a single year. The dead included Major-General Mikhail Malofeyev; an army commander.

In May 2000, 18 Russian soldiers were killed, in another 32 soldiers were slain, a total of 50 dead in two ambushes within a month. By May 2000, General Valery Manilov announced 2, 251 Russian troops had been killed. The war was just eight months old.

Fifteen months into the war on February 2001, Interfax, the Russian News Agency, recorded an official casualty figure of 2, 728 killed and 7, 971 wounded. Their adversaries, the Chechens, gave a much higher number, 24-27, 000 Russian soldiers dead.

This was in surprising contrast to a public announcement by Vladimir Putin, then President, of 2, 600 Russian soldiers dead in November 2000 and in January 2001, the figure was raised to 2, 700 killed.

This means an average of 100 Russians were being slain on the ground every two months. In September 2002, official figures showed 4, 500 Russian soldiers had been killed.

Vladimir Putin, then Prime Minister, announced in January 2001, military operations were complete and turned to the anti-terrorist branch to deal with the Chechens. It had still taken fifteen months for the Russians to achieve it.

A very large battle commenced between Russian and Chechen forces in early May 2001. The 2-day battle cost the Russian army 15 men and the Chechens the same number.

The fighting started when the Russians besieged the town of Argun, 10 miles east of Grozny. Argun was to become a centre of conflict more than once during the war and perhaps pass from one side to the other just as much.

The same month, Sergei Yastrzhembsky, a Kremlin spokesman, said at least 3, 000 Russian servicemen had been killed in Chechnya to date.

In mid April 2001, a series of mine explosions and clashes with Chechens left 21 Russian soldiers dead in one 24-hour period across Chechnya.

In August 2001, the Chechens achieved one of their greatest triumphs ever by defeating the Russians in Vedano and assumed control over part of the small district town. The Kremlin denied the announcement and without providing evidence to the contrary continued to maintain the town was still under their control.

The same month, 11 Russian and Chechen police were killed by another ambush. The Russians seemed to have no answer to the hit and run tactics of their adversaries or account for the heavy losses month after month.

The following month, a Russian military aircraft was successfully brought down by Chechen ground fire resulting in the deaths of nine soldiers including a senior commander.

It was in 2002, an interesting thing happened. A ‘Mufti’ or as reported by the Western media, the ‘Chief Mufti’ of the Chechens along with other senior members switched sides and then fought on the Russian side.

Akmed Kadyrov, became the darling of the Kremlin and won a landslide election victory at the polls the following year. The fact that the Mujahideen were denied election candidature and stripped of the right to vote was not otherwise mentioned.

Kadyrov appealed to his former friends to lay down their arms and announced rewards of amnesty and jobs to those who chose Russian Christians over fellow Chechen Muslims. Despite his overture, few Chechens accepted his call, his defection was sufficient as a sign of his loyalty to them.

The war continued and so did Russian worries. The defections of several Chechens did little to stop mass Russian funerals from the battle ground. The Chechen forces achieved yet more fruitful victories.

In March 2003, 24 Russian marines were slain in another deadly attack. In April 2003, the Pro-Moscow Chechen Interior Ministry confirmed it had lost five army vehicles in a week alone.

In other attacks, 16 soldiers died in an ambush on 14th July and four weeks later on 13th August 2003, another five Russian soldiers were killed in Chechnya by a bomb planted under their armoured car.

On August 22nd 2002, a Russian military helicopter carrying 115 Russian soldiers and some unauthorised civilians crashed killing all people on board. One of the heaviest losses ever sustained in the war. The Chechens claimed to have brought it down; the Russians said it was mechanical failure.

By November 2003, attacks on Russian servicemen and pro-Kremlin police in Chechnya, was now a regular occurrence and was often fatal if not always partially successful.

This was somewhat of an early embarrassment to the Pro-Moscow former Chechen independence army member, Akmed Kadyrov, who had been appointed the territory’s President a month earlier.

He was assassinated in an explosion in May 2004. His son, Ramzan Kadyrov, then his deputy, assumed the vacant chair following his father’s death and holds that office to this day.

Within days, the Chechen forces success reached new heights. Three armoured cars carrying Russian soldiers and police were ambushed and destroyed killing 14 soldiers and three policemen. By June 18 Russian soldiers, 3 Russian Police and 4 Vostok troops were dead.

The Vostok, a Russian-supported Chechen military unit, had exchanged fire with the Chechens and lost four men. Today, the Vostok maintains a low profile and even the Russian military boasts about it less.

While things were quiet on the Chechen front in June, neighbouring Ingushetia saw 62 military and security personnel perish between June 21st and 22nd. Ingushetia is still a source of anxiety and conflict for the Russians.

About 20 Russian soldiers were killed in July 2004 ranging from landmine explosions, skirmishes, battles and ambushes in Chechnya. On 22nd August 2004, in one attack alone, 25 Chechen Police and 26 Russian soldiers and 3 members of Kadyrov’s special guard were slain.

By January 2005, a Russian helicopter was brought to the ground, a team of Spetsnaz, another Pro-Russian Chechen army, looking for Muslim ringleaders, had met and emptied their munitions on one another with unknown casualties to both sides and several unexplained deaths occurred with both groups blaming the other.

It was by no means the first time Pro-Kremlin Chechen militias loyal to Moscow had fought each other, but it was the first to be publicised and brought much confusion and hostility to Vladimir Putin from the World Media.

In January 2005 alone, an FSB officer (Russian intelligence) and eight Russian soldiers were dead by Chechen Mujahideen. In March 2005, a police lieutenant working for the Russians was killed. Eight people; four Russian soldiers and four Russian police were killed in April 2005.

In May 2005, the Russian government announced it had 80, 000 Russian soldiers in Chechnya, an increase of 5, 000 since 2003. This did not include the 14, 000 Pro Russian Chechen troops and police also active there.

Vladimir Putin announced Russia achieved a breakthrough in Chechnya on September 19th 2005 with the killing of Akmed Avtorkhanov, the main Chechen commander. Russia had earlier killed Aslan Maskhadov in February 2005. Maskhadov had been the more dangerous as an ex-Russian army officer and propagator of Shariah during his Presidency in the 1990s.

On February 3rd 2006, six Russian soldiers were killed by Chechen forces. In February 8th, two days later a bomb ripped through a barracks for pro-Russian Chechen soldiers, killing 12 men. A year later in February 2007, the Russians lost 15 00 lives in a single attack. An assault denied by the Russians.

By June 2008, the Russian government announced suicides, accidents and offences claimed 33 Russian soldiers’ lives in the Russian army- 20 were by suicide alone. In total from January-June 2008, 208 Russian soldiers were killed through adversities like the ones above.

The war has since seen a vacuum of silence in the World media since Kadyrov was handed the lives and jurisdiction of the Muslim nation to do as he desired. Chechens, while projected as ‘Al Qaeda terrorists’, are still Russian property nonetheless.

Unlike the US and its allies, the Russian military also still uses an enormous number of ground troops as well as airpower, pilot less drones and missile attacks to launch offensives against the Mujahideen in the open.

The land war is something the US and their allies fear the most. It is an equal face to face gruelling scenario where the Chechen Army and their allies have the upper hand and greater invigorative spirit.