Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Arghandab war zone will long remain an enigma!

1: I wait for many days to go to Arghandab, a green valley few kilo meters north west of Kandahar city which a military operation has been started long time ago. I stayed in Kandahar Air Field (KAF) for 19 days and also in between i covered a Medevac unit in US military Ramrod camp. During all this time i was asking US army to send me. First time they canceled on me and told me it is so dangerous there for journalists but they did not know that we are here to cover that kind of operation and we do it our self with our decision and it is our responsibility.

2: The rumours were telling a lot of kind of stories from there. Some were telling that US Army is losing there and Taliban are doing a vigorous resistance there against troops. Some said it is a hard fighting is going on there, some said a lot of IEDs are there and it is difficult for troops to move and some said it was a lot of civilian casualties there and that's why Army does not let any journalist to go there.

3: A Swedish radio journalist who went to a camp near Arghandab told me that most of the nights he could see Jet fighters droped heavy bombs over the valley.

4: On October 17th, late afternoon, Media Support Center in Kaf told me and two other journalists that in early morning on 18th we will fly but before our flight to Arghandab one of them informed us that our flight is canceled again!! and they will send me to a camp in Kandahar city which they had offered me there after my first cancellation for Arghandab and i told them that I wont go there. I was so angry and the same time i lough. How they did not remember that i did not go the first time and I wont go there? Isn't it stupid? They really want to force me to give up from Arghandab and go somewhere that it was not even any thing for photographing? Why they sent western journalists to a really good places to have a good staff but not me? Is it because of my Afghan Passport and my nationality? and a lot of other questions.

5: The same day Mr. Roach from Media Support Center called me and told me that there is a flight to Arghandab and he will signed me in and it will be just me! I prepared to leave and i left around 2 pm yesterday and after 20 minutes flight with a Canadian empty Chinook helicopter arrived to a Camp in Arghandab called OCCD. When we landed and i took of from the helicopter with my heavy badges, a US Army soldier came to me and shout on me, asking " Are you the reporter?" i said yes i am and i was happy he will pick me up but he said: "You have to go back. we don't accept any journalist here"!!!! I tried to talk to him but he was pushing me to go into the helicopter again!!! I surprised that why one part of the US army send me here and another part kick me out? even our army which is not professional do not do this to me!!

6: I came back to Kaf and in the air field i saw an Afghan translator who was around 50 is walking out the same helicopter that i was. I asked him if he is working in Arghandab camp and he said yes. I introduced myself  and asked him that why they kicked me out? He was scare to say any thing about Arghandab but i promised to not using his name and he told me that the night before one of the US soldiers opened fire on a Taliban commander prisoner inside his cell in a jail in the camp and killed him. probably they did not want any media representative to know about it. He was scared to talk more and we did not have enough time to talk. i could not ask him that the prisoner was handcuff or his eyes was closed by something or what.

7: I came back to my place in Media Support Center and called to my office chief and told her the story and then to all other journalists. one of them from BBC called somewhere and after a while gave me a print paper which was a ISAF statement about this event: " A detainee in ISAF custody was found dead in his holding cell in southern Afghanistan Sunday. The detainee was captured during an operation Saturday and was being held in Kandahar Province." ISAF said on that statement.

8: I think the reason that they kicked me out of that base yesterday was the detainees story but why they did not let me to go there before? Do the US Army people believe fighting for freedom and democracy in this country? Do they believe to free media? If i am an Afghanistani and they could not trust me to send me to a war zone first: why they proved my embed few month a go? second: why they did not let New York times to go there? Are they really losing there? Why they don't let US public and Afghanistan's people know that what is going on? Is it a dirty war going on there? and hundreds other questions that i might not find the answer for a long time.

9: After all these i decide to cover another Strike which is going on in Zari district of Kandahar. I did not give up for Arghandab but i really was tired to face the friendly US soldiers in Media Support Center when they were telling me bad news. One of them told me that it was so hard to say me my second cancellation for Arghandab. Now I'm waiting in Wilson camp for our unit commander to come back and if he likes us then he take us to cover the Strike somewhere called Siah Choy. I should go and take a shower and be nice, maybe the commander likes me and take me there to do my job and give you the information that I'm allow to find it !!!?

10: You can judge yourself.

Be safe and happy. We will see.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A sadness mission!

October 12, 2010 - 10:30 am
Radio was shouting to Medevac team who all were sleeping at 10:30 am and all were so tired because of the night before that they had two missions and came back around 3 am.

Every one woke up and start dressing and i woke up too and start collecting my cameras and what ever i should take in a mission. we ran to the helicopter and i start taking pictures and video. Our Blackhawk took off so fast. We past some dry villages and suddenly the helicopter went down.

I saw a US army convoy and a red smoke coming up near them to tell to our pilot that he should land near the smoke. When we landed the medic guy jumped out and i saw some soldiers sitting around a wounded colleague. They start carrying the wounded person to the helicopter. They put him to our helicopter.

He was a young married man around 28 to 30 year-old. His left hand and foot had injuries and his noise was bleeding and that's all. I could not see any other serious injuries on his body and he was wounded by an IED. The medic person start to assist him and suddenly his heart stop working. the medic guy start rubbing down (?) on his heart. his body was moving but he did not show any sign of life. His colleague was so sad and his face became so red.

we arrived to Kandahar Air Field and the other Medevac team arrived fast and took the wounded guy to hospital. the medic guy from our team came back and he was a bit sad. when we land to our camp again, i asked the medic guy about the wounded soldier and he said: " Probably he dies" !!!

Yesterday, was the end of a life that was young and probably the same age with me. And Finished.

Hope to see you next time!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

What is this Blackhawk!

Today (Oct. 9) I flight from Kandahar Air Field (Kaf) to the west of Kandahar, Camp FOB Ramrod which is placed on a desert. I am with a Medevak unit and we flight with the lovely Blackhawk which is a US black military helicopter (Chines call it Blackcock :)!!). This helicopter is amazing and it was flying on ten meters from the ground and was flying as easy as a pigeon. It was a snaky flight which I enjoyed it a lot.

It turned to right and left really quickly, went up and suddenly down without any problem. I have seen it before a lot but this one was amazing. It was flying as easy as a small bird does, even it could go forward which I think most of normal birds can not!

Medevac is a great unit inside US army which helps wounded people and transport them to the nearest US army hospital. they don't care about the nationalities of the wounded people. They help even wounded Taliban fighters to reach a hospital and save their life, but all we know that those fighters hands over to Afghanistan's government and then Karzai calls them “Unhappy Brothers” and free them. they will go back to their camp in Pakistan and restart fighting with US army and Afghanistan's people and army in general!!!!

I am embedding with this Medevac unit till Oct. 14 and there are two nice and friendly young pilots and two other soldiers including a female who has been train for medic helps to wounded soldiers and wounded civilians.

During our flight, I just could see a red desert and some where which was some water some sheep with a man after them and some camels which were sitting or walking. Some where some Nomad's tents but I could not understand how those people could live there. It was a hell.

In the afternoon we as three soldiers and me sit outside and chat about Afghanistan and for sure from my side about Iran too. The pilot and the female soldier was talking about a 4 year-old girl who was burnt by her father. The father for some reason took her feet and put her to a big pot of boiling water! Half of the girl's body from the head till her stomach was completely burnt as they said. They took the girl and her father to take them to hospital to rescue the girl's life and as the pilot was keep telling this story, the father was enjoying the flight without any care about his daughter!

Oh my God! I can not imagine a human does that to his own child. They were asking me about the reason and I did not have any thing to tell them! It is a big shame.

I made few pictures but I could not send them because my satellite device for internet connection did not work. I called to Bgan's office in US but they just like stupids said that they are facing some technical problems!!

Any way, in this hell nothing works well. Every thing is against everything. Now I'm in my bed in a big tent that in the corner two female in this unit have separated two bed with some fabric and sleep.

We will see each other again, I hope!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

USA, International community and Afghanistan, 9 years later!

Today is the 9th anniversary of US attack at Taliban and then coming to Afghanistan. Hundreds of foreign youth soldiers die every year and more painful that thousands of Afghanistan's civilian die and more than that wound.

After 9 years, statistics of the death is growing up year by year. Four to five thousands civilian die every year which is a lot more than Taliban time. A big number of children, women and men get injury and find disability and can not work or live as normal.

After 9 years, hundreds of young American soldiers, UK and other nationalities die and a lot more become disable which is a big pain for their society and their families. (http://icasualties.org/OEF/index.aspx)

After 9 years, Afghanistan practically does not have a government outside of Kabul and some few big cities. Karzai's government and NATO losing lands for Taliban every year -and a big example is on going operation in Arghandab which I'm here to cover it if i have opportunity and i remember the same operation was done with NATO and Canadian few years a go and they told that Taliban will never can take the control of Arghandab again but they did- and Karzai's gov. can not and do not want to control the situation which is going worst.

After 9 years, the security situation even in big cities like Kabul and Herat became worst than any time. I'm living in west of Kabul and every week i see a kidnapping and robbery story in my area and some nights which is late i scared to go to my home and i stay with some of my friends in the center of city.

After 9 years, another big enemy of Afghanistan people's life has been grown up and became so big and that is "Corruption". you cant find any gov. office to do their regular job without asking irregular money. When you go to the gates of Kabul every evening you will see that policemen try to take money from trucks drivers which is completely irregular and if they don't pay they will start beating them or stop their trucks for a long time. I saw this matter a lot of time.

After 9 years, people can not travel between the cities as they could do it easily few years ago. Kabul's citizens even can not travel to Wardak or Logar after three o'clock afternoon. When i was in Salang pass with some of my foreign friends, Salang police chief warned me to do not drive after Salang and talking about going to Kunduz in the North seems to be stupid now. Ghurband area on the way to Bamyan is insecure and few month ago gunmen attacked to a civilian transportation bus and stole their properties.

After 9 years, most of schools and clinics in the south are closed all the year and some girl's schools and clinics are burnt down completely. some schools even were under poisoning attack around Kabul. Karzai's gov. does not have even one long term plan for education and protect students and doctors.

After 9 years, hunger and poverty grow up a lot and the cost of living is staggering. Poor people has been more poor and rich people became more rich. A daily worker, works 12 hours a day and gets 100 to 300 Afs (2 to 6 $) and the cost of living is too high compare to three years ago. No factories has been rebuilt seriously and no development in economy situation. Kabul bank as a private and one of the biggest bank has been almost bankrupt and Karzai's gov. can not stand in his own feet without foreign funds.

After 9 years, But we had a good development in Media industry and a lot of TV channels and radios has started working and a big number of young and educated men and women found job. there is some threaten to limit and close this new industry but till now it is not a serious problem.

After 9 years, Afghanistan can not held a free and fair election and no one from opposition is happy with it. in a democracy system, elections is to make opposition contended to accept their lost and start working in gov. but Karzai's gov. and his elections comission even could not contend his friends!!!

Karzai brother's stories are enough famous that i don see any need to remained about it!!

Who is responsible? A big percentage of all these mess is because of Karzai's personality and his lake of management, But foreign countries also involved in this crime. They have injected him to Afghanistan and now they can not work with him.

If i continue then it will be a really long and you will be tired to read all. you can add some of the points if i did not insert them.

See you around.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

US media center even can not manage an Embed for me!!

It is three days that I'm stuck in Kandahar US base to go to Arghandab to cover war between US army and Taliban and few minutes ago they informed me that all other journalists will go tonight but i have to wait for Oct. 6. The media guy was explaining me the reasons but i can not even believe that it was a reason. probably they have given my seat to an American journalist.

I was in the list to flight tonight but for some reason they postponed it for me and an Iranian photographer and we have to stay for three more days. If you look at Kandahar base now and compare it to two years ago every thing is so confused and the first question which comes to any one mind is: Are the USA and its partners losing this war?!

Every night we have alarm bell for rocket attack and then we have to run to closest bunker, Media center have given permission to more than 20 journalist to cover their brave fighting for freedom but they cant get us out of here to cover it, fighter jets and helicopters are flying from base every hour and many other problems which show that US military is distracted.

When they postponed my flight as the only local journalist who cover this war, what will be the first thing which comes to my mind?! Did they canceled it because of my nationality? To be honest I can not say that because there are some other US journalists who are waiting too.

One thing that they can not understand is that Agance France-Presse is a big news agency and most of our client are waiting to have the photos as soon as possible.

Any way talk to you later!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

When ISAF will trust Afghanistani journalists!!!

Yesterday (Sept. 30) I went to Kaia to start my embedding with US troops and covering Arghandab operation. Our flight was a Canadian military flight and a US soldier should escort me in the plain that i would not do any terrorist attack!!! There were some other journalists too, they were from UK and ISAF did not put any escort for them. I felt a bit insulted. this is not the first time that happened like this.

My escort was a nice US woman soldier who was working for media operation center in Kandahar air base. When we landed in Kaf. i thanked her and i told her that i hate this rules but she defended and told me that they will do for any none NATO members but my other two journalist friends did not need any escort!!!!?

I did not have this problem with US troops when i had embed through them not through ISAF. I did not have this problem with German troops as well.

The question is that when ISAF or any foreign troops -who has come here to teach us and bring us democracy- will trust us and if they can not trust our educated people then why they are here? Is their job insulting us or helping us to establish peace as they say?

I think this will make more hate between us and ISAF and international community here in Afghanistan. I can understand that they are spending a lot of money and their children life here but still they don't act as professionals. The don't know our country at all and they don't try to know. they just listen to Pakistan and some of their sociologist in the west that they think they know Afghanistan and its people.

it is almost 9 years that all international community are here with more than 100,000 soldiers with the most modern weapon and technology but they could not fight with 20,000 Taliban insurgents who they are fighting just with land mines, Ak and some light weapons.

Any way, I am stuck here in Kaf till Sunday. My bed is in a big tent with other journalists but we don't have any Internet connection. They have changed their "Ground Rules" for journalists a lot and made it so hard to work. I think the next rule would be having permission when we want to go to toilet!! :)

The situation in Kaf and using a lot of security walls shows that situation has not improve at all and even it is worst now. The question is that after 9 years spending a lot of money and life Why they are not successful and are they losing this war? If they leave Afghanistan next year as they said before it will be a big courage for terrorists around the world to start their activities more than now.

Karzai wont be able to control the country and if the foreign troops leave here next year, Afghanistan will be fallen on terrorists hand again and will export terrorists to other country and Taliban will be famous as the best fighters for Islamist movement who want to create war and Jihad to take power.

Who want this??