Nur al-Cubicle

A blog on the current crises in the Middle East and news accounts unpublished by the US press. Daily timeline of events in Iraq as collected from stories and dispatches in the French and Italian media: Le Monde (Paris), Il Corriere della Sera (Milan), La Repubblica (Rome), L'Orient-Le Jour (Beirut) and occasionally from El Mundo (Madrid).

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Operation Medusa: A slide into open war in Afghanistan

Update 8 September: 4 Italian troops killed wounded by a roadside bomb in Kabul Farah in western Afghanistan. Just before that, a bombing near the US embassy in Kabul killed 16, including 7 unidentified foreigners. Iran's al-Alam TV says 5 US soldiers were killed. Al-Jazeera says they were British.

A few months ago, I heard a very famous economist berate Bush and Blair for pursuing imperalist policies without imperial will. If you want to rule as an empire, he said, then you must act like one. And this would mean garrisoning the territory, launching punitive missions, razing towns, summoning colonists, handing out lands to your officials and generals, etablishing and administering institutions, conscripting the males to serve in your army and police, taxing the locals, building monuments to your conquest, creating a Ministry for Colonies at home and generally making the population feel the weight of your presence –for generations. He also suggested that taking on the drug war as part of NATO's mission was a recipe for massacre –of NATO troops. I can't help but hope that War Nerd soon issues his assessment.

If you have been scanning the headlines, 23 British and 5 Canadian troops have died since August 1st in Operation Medusa and scores have been wounded. Le Monde's Jean-Pierre Langellier pens an analysis. More can be found at the Guardian website.

A general declares that the British are running hot in Helmand Province

The faces of the 14 British soldiers killed in the crash of their Nimrod aircraft in Afghanistan on Monday 4 September were published on the front page of every newspaper in Britain –a media tribute on the par with the emotion caused by this “sad tragedy”, in the worlds of Tony Blair, the highest loss to the British Army since the Falklands conflict.

Contrary to what the Taliban has proclaimed, it was almost certainly an accident. In addition to the many credulous people in the Muslim world who will believe the propaganda, meant to raise the standing of the insurgents, the tragedy reflects the change in the type of NATO operations in Afghanistan and the limits the military materiel available to the 4,000-strong British contingent, deployed mainly to the Helmand Province.

For the last few weeks, the British contingent has been involved in a veritable war against the Taliban as evidenced by their casualties: 28 dead, of whom 14 were killed in action since June. 37 British soldiers have been killed since the invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. It seems a distant memory when Defence Minister John Reid declared in April 2002 that British troops would withdraw from Afghanstan within three years at the latest, and without having fired a shot.

Of course, the rules of engagement have been modified since then without a formal acknowlegement from London. The activity of British troops is no longer confined to maintaining the security necessary for the rebuilding and development of the country. They are involved in more and more massive and bloody operations against a resolute and audacious enemy which now employs suicide bombings and who is strengthened by his alliance with the drug lords. In recognizing that its rules of engagement have been permanently changed and that its officers are no longer obliged to observe strict rules of self-defense, London has confirmed the slide into open war.

In the province of Helmand, the Army sought to pry off the hold of the Taliban by building five forward positions ahead of their main base, Camp Bastion. Each forward base immediately came under fire from the Taliban. With the span of a few weeks, these forward positions were on the receiving end of dozens of attacks, some so frequent as to prevent convoys from resupplying them.

The intensification of combat reveals the logistical difficulty in which the British army finds itself. We are running hot, certainly running hot. Can we cope? I pause. I say 'just'., admitted General Sir Richard Dannat, Commander-in-Chief, in a Monday interview with the Guardian.

A portion of ground matériel is unsuited to this type of combat. The Land Rovers and Jeeps poorly protect their occupants from bombings. Reconnaissance aircraft, insufficient in number, operate under stress. The Lynx helicopters can only fly at night because of the extreme daytime temperatures. To this is coupled the pressure created by the dual mission imposed on the army: Fight the insurrection and neutralize the warlords who control the opium.

These problems do not yet seem to jeopardize the legitimacy of these operations as seen from London. Most observers demand more equipment but underscore the progress made since the installation of a pro-Western regime in Kabul. A hasty military pullout would only worsen the situation, they say.

6 September 2006


Blogger ziz said...

I have remarked over the last 20 months on how ill equipped the UK Afghan forces were / are .. and will be.

The Nimrod failure is interesting in view of the history of the development of the aircraft. The Uk needed to replace the ageing Piston engined WWII Shackleton's which were used for marine / submarine reconaissance.

The Comet was coming to the end of it's life and UK aerospace resources were given over to Concorde - the hopelessly uneconomic passenger plane.

Bright spark says let's beef up the Comet , production lines available etc etc., low cost, typical Brit make do and mend.

This was early 70's and minituarisation of radar , computers was way off. Hence the airframe had to be added too (hence the curious and ungainly belly) - also these created large amounts of heat.

How to cool ? (Now this story is true) Bright Spark No 2, says use the fuel as a coolant. So at huge cost, etc etc., this was done. design , manufacture, installation , ground testing take 2/3 years.

Firat flight trials, equipment warms up, coolant flows, equipment cools, Hurrah.

Equiment keeps heating , fuel gets used up, coolant doesn't flow, etc . etc.,

Back to the drawing board.

The Nimrod was a spatchcocked AIWACS whose usefulness was soon outpaced by the end of the Cold War, Space surveillance, sea floor surveillance etc.,

Convert to photo reconnaissance, Command centre in sky etc.,

Now it appears that the lengthy range required in operating over Afghanistan from Scotland with re-fielling has taken it's toll.

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said... mean, because the aircraft was running low on fuel (of course, because it was nearing its destination) the "coolant" no longer cooled things down? That simple? Wow and wow. Poor Brits.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Salut Nur

Je viens de faire un peu de "pub" pour la candidature de Jim Webb au Sénat US: c'est un type vraiment formidable, résolument anti-Bush et anti Olmert & Co…

Webb est un grand ami du Liban et des libanais : il a vécu à Beyrouth au début des années 80, et il y a tourné un film sur l’intervention des Marines, unité d’élite dont il fut d’ailleurs membre pendant la guerre du Vietnam.

Problème: Jim Webb a beaucoup moins d'argent que son concurrent Républicain/Néocon, l’odieux George Felix Allen qui a la double-nationalité US/Israélienne.

--> J'ai mis des liens utiles sur mon blog pour l'aider

Veux-tu te joindre à nous?

Ce serait vraiment cool si tu pouvais faire un « Post » spécifique dédié à ce sujet sur ton blog, avec photo de Webb et Allen… etc. –tu peux les récupérer sur Wikipedia.

« Yahveh te le rendra » comme dit la chanson.


5:58 PM  
Blogger furtherleft said...

Just trying to see if I can get a comment through here yet Nur to tell you what a great job you are doing.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Captain USpace said...

Well done, it's in, thanks!

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
let your enemies shoot first

give them a chance to kill you
before blowing their brains out

10:14 PM  

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