Well, the supposed NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan was formally announced Dec. 28. A quiet ceremony in Kabul was arranged in secret due to increasing Taliban strikes in the area, including suicide bombings and gun-battles. On Jan. 1 the US-led International Security Assistance Force is to be replaced by a NATO "training and support" mission—with nearly 12,500 foreign troops to stay in Afghanistan, the big majority supplied by the US. Officially, they are not to participate in direct fighting. The Pentagon's "Operation Enduring Freedom" is now to be replaced by "Operation Freedom's Sentinel," in turn part of NATO's new "Operation Resolute Support." (Jurist, DoD) The AP story, as presented on HuffPo, headlines: "US Formally Ends War In Afghanistan" Emphasis on the "formally," eh? Reads the lead: "The war in Afghanistan, fought for 13 bloody years and still raging, came to a formal end Sunday with a quiet flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul that marked the transition of the fighting from US-led combat troops to the country's own security forces." How can a war that is "still raging" come to an "end"? Similar absurd claims marked the US "withdrawal" from Iraq in 2011. Is Iraq at "peace" now? We utterly reject this stupid, arrogant US-centrism that universally infects left, right and center in the United States. The war in Afghanistan is not over, and the US has no power to "end" it!
NATO air-strikes have sure continued up to the very last minute. Five civilians were killed and as many wounded in a NATO strike in Baraki Barak district of central Logar province, the town’s administrative chief said on Dec. 26. The air-strike came amid an ongoing offensive by Afghan security forces in the area. (RAWA) On Dec. 30—after the "withdrawal" ceremony—a presumed US drone strike killed at least four Taliban militants in Qarabagh district of eastern Ghazni province. (Khaama Press) Civilian casualties in Afghanistan increased by nearly 20% in 2014 compared to the previous year and are expected to rise to a figure over 10,000 by end of December—a record since the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) began keeping records in 2008. (RAWA)