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Criticism, calls for resolve as Canada relieves US in Afghanistan

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Issue: 33 Section: Canadian News Geography: Canada Afghanistan

January 27, 2006

Criticism, calls for resolve as Canada relieves US in Afghanistan

by Dru Oja Jay

afghanistan1_web.jpgA Canadian soldier on dismounted patrol in Kabul. photo: Sgt Frank Hudec, Canadian Forces Combat Camera
In February, Canada's force in Afghanistan is set to expand from 650 troops to 2200. The incoming Canadians will replace outgoing US soldiers. Meanwhile, the Canadian occupation of Afghanistan is a subject of intense debate in Canada's media. While commentators in the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail call for Canada's military to stay the course, accounts that remain critical of Canada's occupying force are largely to be found outside of the major news outlets.

In the fourth year of a mission that began in 2001 with the stated intent "to destroy the Taliban shield that was protecting Al Qaeda's infrastructure," 1,500 "insurgents" were killed, Reuters reported.

In 2005, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) conducted a major consultation, finding widespread support for "criminal justice and removing war criminals from government positions." Most agree that that has not happened. "Highly selective and politicized disarmament has taken place, leaving intact most of the privately-run warlord militias," Justin Podur and Sonali Kolhatkar wrote in Briarpatch Magazine. Podur and Kolhatkar say that the Canadian government's claim that military operations are there to provide security to rebuild Afghanistan covers up the difference between the interests of Afghans and those of Canada. "The problem... is that focusing on constructive projects... would benefit only the Afghans, and not US, Canadian, or NATO interests."

In an op/ed circulated by Media Matters, Canadian Islamic President Mohamed Elmasry noted that "Canada spends more than $600 million annually on its military operations, and [has] committed only $200 million" in aid. "As a former American CEO, the only support [President] Hamid Karzai gets is from Afghanis who can personally and materially benefit from his American connections," wrote Elmasry.

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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