Sunday, March 30, 2008


The BBC's Frank Gardner recently revealed that Arab soldiers from the United Arab Emirates have been operating in Afghanistan alongside American units. Here, his film crew goes out with the Emiratis and captures a scene which is perhaps a common one:

Afghan 'trust' in Arab troops
BBC, Saturday, 29 March 2008

(This week the BBC's Frank Gardner revealed that a contingent of Arab troops from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been secretly operating alongside the Americans in Afghanistan. But getting access to them took months and was fraught with hurdles, especially as our correspondent is in a wheelchair. - BBC editors)

[S]afety concerns meant I had to stay behind on-base - "in the rear, with the gear, where there is no fear" - while our crew went off to film. ...

In the village of Qalat Baland, my companions watched as boxes of sweet, sticky dates were handed out to grey-bearded elders, and children were given school notebooks while a tall, charismatic Emirati army officer sat cross-legged in a courtyard, listening as a young boy chanted verses from the Koran by memory.

From the pictures they brought back it all looked a vision of harmony, but then I could see it began to go wrong - word spread that there was not enough to go round.

Suddenly the crowd surged, pushing and elbowing their way past the uniformed troops to get at the plastic-wrapped goodies.

The Afghan police, who had now turned up, weighed in with unrestrained brutality and it took all the Emiratis' diplomacy to restore calm before the scene descended into a riot. ... (link)
For a visual depiction of a similar scene, see the video I edited on the Afghan war here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). In it, Canadian soldiers on a Village Medical Outreach mission (which is a very rare phenomenon, despite Canadian Forces' propaganda claims) simply run out of medicines to dispense.

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