In today’s news:
Karzai says NATO still causes too many civilian deaths: “Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that NATO’s efforts to prevent civilian deaths during its operations are not enough because innocent people keep dying, as the military alliance continued its offensive in a key Taliban stronghold … Karzai said that NATO has made progress in reducing civilian casualties and air bombardments — which have been responsible for some of the largest incidents of civilian deaths … However, Karzai stressed that the effort is not sufficient. ‘We need to reach the point where there are no civilian casualties,” Karzai said. “Our effort and our criticism will continue until we reach that goal’.” See full report here.
Dutch government collapses over Afghanistan mission: The Dutch coalition government collapsed Saturday over whether to extend the country’s military mission in Afghanistan, leaving uncertain the future of its 1,600 soldiers fighting there. Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende announced that the second largest party in his three-party alliance is quitting … Balkenende made no mention of elections as he spoke to reporters after a 16-hour Cabinet meeting in The Hague that ended close to dawn. However, the resignation of the Labor Party — which has demanded the country stick to a scheduled withdrawal from Afghanistan — would leave his government with an unworkable majority, and political analysts said early elections appeared inevitable … Dutch soldiers have been deployed since 2006 in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan on a two-year stint that was extended until next August. Labor demanded that Dutch troops leave Uruzgan as scheduled. Balkenende’s Christian Democratic Alliance wanted to keep a trimmed down military presence in the restive province, where 21 soldiers have been killed. ‘A plan was agreed to when our soldiers went to Afghanistan’, said Labor Party leader Wouter Bos. ‘Our partners in the government didn’t want to stick to that plan, and on the basis of their refusal we have decided to resign from this government’. NATO recently sent a letter to the government asking if it would consider staying longer — a move that the Western alliance normally would do only if it had a clear signal of agreement. ‘The future of the mission of our soldiers in Afghanistan will now be in the hands of the new Cabinet’, said Deputy Defense Minister Jack de Vries” … Opinion polls suggest the Afghan war is deeply unpopular”. The full report is here.
New Name for War in Iraq: “The Obama administration has decided to give the war in Iraq a new name — ‘Operation New Dawn’ — to reflect the reduced role U.S. troops will play in securing the country this year as troop levels fall, according to a memo from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates [to Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander for the region]. Since U.S. forces charged across the Kuwaiti border toward Baghdad in 2003, the war has been known as Operation Iraqi Freedom. The new name is scheduled to take effect in September, when U.S. troop levels are supposed to drop to about 50,000 … Such name changes are not unusual. The name of the 1991 Persian Gulf War changed as the mission changed, from Operation Desert Shield to Operation Desert Storm and then finally to Operation Southern Watch and Operation Northern Watch”. This report is published here
The Gates memo was first reported by ABC Television news, which posted it on its website — 17 Feb 2010 Request to change the name Operation Iraqi Freedom to Iraqi New Dawn: “… to take effect 1 Sept 2010 … Aligning the name change with the change of mission sends a strong signal that Operation IRAQI FREEDOM has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission. It also presents opportunities to synchronize strategic communication initiatives, reinforce our commitment to honor the Security Agreement, and recognize our evolving relationship with the Iraqi government”. The original memo is posted here.