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Afghanistan: Marjah Offensive Marked by Confusion, Civilian Deaths

[Ed. Note: Derrick Crowe has other details about the civilian deaths.]

If you’ve been following the news from the latest McChrystal “Victory-in-Afghanistan” maneuver, you may be confused. I know I am. Yesterday, day one, headlines reported everything from “Surprise tactic in Afghanistan offensive befuddles Taliban” and Key posts seized in Taliban stronghold to
Afghanistan war: Marjah battle as tough as Fallujah, say US troops along with the inevitable The mistaken killing of 12 Afghan civilians prompts U.S. apology. (Update: Five Afghan civilians were also killed by a NATO airstrike in neighboring Kandahar province today. )

As Joshua Foust of Registan writes: (h/t Steve Hynd)

In other words, even the reporters there, on the ground, directly interacting with and personally interviewing the military are getting contradictory reports of what’s going on. Chandrasekaran and Phillips, for example, both datelined their stories from Marjeh, and they couldn’t be more different: Chandrasekaran says it’s less than 4,000 troops encountering heavy and unexpected resistance, while Phillips says it’s almost 10,000 troops experiencing light and expected resistance. Making matters worse? They both quote the same Lieutenant Colonel, Calvin Worth. There’s not even the excuse that they’re reporting from different parts of Marjeh.

All of which means that on day two of the offensive we have no idea what’s going on. So many reporters have been given so many contradictory ISAF talking points that nothing makes sense.

Perhaps instead we should listen to Afghan hero Malalai Joya . . . who does make sense: (h/t Russ Wellen)

“It is ridiculous,” said Malalai Joya, an elected member of the Afghan parliament. “On the one hand they call on Mullah Omar to join the puppet regime. On another hand they launch this attack in which defenceless and poor people will be the prime victims. Like before, they will be killed in the Nato bombings and used as human shields by the Taliban. Helmand’s people have suffered for years and thousands of innocent people have been killed so far.” Her fears were confirmed when Nato reported yesterday that a rocket that missed its target had killed 12 civilians at a house in Marjah…

Joya, suggesting that local uranium deposits, notes that the claims that phase two of the McChrystal plan are ridiculous as well:

Operation Moshtarak is described as an inclusive offensive, depending for its longer-term success on involvement of Afghan forces. But Ms Joya said: “The Afghan police force is the most corrupt institution in Afghanistan. Bribery is common and if you have money, by bribing police from top to bottom you can do almost anything. In many parts of Afghanistan, people hate the police more than the Taliban.

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Siun is a proud Old Town resident who shares her home with two cats and a Great Pyrenees. She’s worked in media relations and on the net since before the www, led the development of a corporate responsibility news service, and knows what a mult box is thanks to Nico. When not swimming in the Lake, she leads a team working on sustainability tools.

Email: media dot firedoglake at gmail dot com