12 years after coming to Afghanistan Nato is in a state of unconceded defeat
““Gunmen in Pakistan on Monday set ablaze five trucks carrying NATO equipment out of Afghanistan”
“The war has cost American taxpayers over $1.4 trillion…Attacks by the Taliban are up 47 percent over last year, and the casualty rate for Afghan soldiers and police has increased 40 percent. The yearly desertion rate of the Afghan Army is between 27 percent and 30 percent.
“Jabhat al-Nusra is investing in the Syrian economy to reinforce its position in Syria and Iraq. Al-Nusra fighters are selling everything that falls into their hands from wheat, archaeological relics, factory equipment, oil drilling and imaging machines, cars, spare parts and crude oil,” Abu Saif, a fighter with the Ahrar Brigade, linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, told the Guardian by phone from the Deir Ezzor area.
The only rivals to the power of the jihadists in the oil region are the Kurds in al-Hasakah, and the Sunni tribes around Deir Ezzor, who have found themselves increasingly marginalised by Islamic extremists.
In one well-documented case, fighting broke out in the village of al-Musareb, near Deir Ezzor, between al-Nusra fighters and local tribesmen over ownership of an oil tanker. The al-Nusra commander, a Saudi called Qasura al-Jazrawi, was killed. As a reprisal, the jihadist group levelled much of the village and executed 50 of its residents.
As a result of the rush to make quick money, open-air refineries have been set up in Deir Ezzor and al-Raqqa provinces. Crude is stored in ditches and heated in metal tanks by wood fires, shrouding the region with plumes of black smoke, exposing the local population to the dangers of the thick smog and the frequent explosions at the improvised plants.
Heating oil, diesel and petrol is condensed in hoses running from the tanks through pools of water and sold across the north, as far as Aleppo. The remaining crude is shipped by road on tankers to Turkey.
The EU decision to lift Syrian oil sanctions to aid the opposition has accelerated a scramble for control over wells and pipelines in rebel-held areas and helped consolidate the grip of jihadist groups over the country’s key resources.
Jabhat al-Nusra, affiliated with al-Qaida and other extreme Islamist groups, control the majority of the oil wells in Deir Ezzor province, displacing local Sunni tribes, sometimes by force. They have also seized control of other fields from Kurdish groups further to the north-east, in al-Hasakah governorate.
Abu Albara, an al-Nusra fighter who spoke to the Guardian by telephone from Deir Ezzor, said: “Now, we can say that most of the oil wells are in the hands of the rebels, only a single oil facility in Hasakah is still under the control of [Kurdish fighters].
“Wanton human rights violations are also being committed by anti-Government groups. Accounts gathered by our monitoring team suggest that armed groups have apparently used civilians as human shields, and that abductions are increasing. The accounts include allegations that certain opposition groups have forced young women and minor girls to marry combatants. And we continue to receive reports of anti-Government groups committing gruesome crimes such as torture and extrajudicial executions.”