Shannon and the New US War Strategy in Afghanistan

Every day more evidence comes to light in relation to Shannon's role in the illegal and immoral wars of the US. The latest information indicates that it may be part of a new weekly supply route for the US army in Afghanistan, using chartered planes.

In a May 6th press release, National Airlines announced that its subsidiary company, Murray Air, had started a weekly charter to Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in April. According to the press release, the flights are to "assist ongoing efforts to provide materials and goods to the United States military". They depart every Friday and arrive in Bagram on Sunday evening with one fueling stop in Europe (see http://www.murrayair.com/news_events.html?id=24&action= single ).

Since these flights began on April 3rd, Shannonwatch has recorded Murray Air aircraft at Shannon airport on four Saturdays - April 4th, April 11th, May 2nd and May 16th. Regular midweek stops have also been recorded on the following Wednesdays: April 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th and May 13th.

This looks like yet another outrageous breach of Irish neutrality and of our moral duty to the uphold peace. US generals have acknowledged that the recent expansion of the US war in Afghanistan will result in higher levels of violence; during a February 18 press briefing at the Pentagon, for example, the top US general in Afghanistan, David McKiernan said, "I would expect to see a temporary time where the level of violence might go up until we transition into holding and setting conditions to build." This will add to the already high level of civilian casualties in the country. Highlighting the anticipated effect of the war's expansion, the Revolutionary Association of Women in Afghanistan stated, "The very first outcome of the surge for Afghan people will be increase in the number of civilian casualties ... In the past seven years, thousands of innocent people have been killed or wounded by the US/NATO bombardments. In the past weeks under Obama's rule, around 100 Afghan civilians have been killed."

Without any public assessment or analysis of how Ireland should assist the people of Afghanistan, our government or their officials seem to have made a unilateral and wholly unacceptable decision to facilitate the provision of materials and goods to the occupying army.

In addition to the gross immorality of the suffering being inflicted on the Afghan people, these flights may also pose a threat to the people of Limerick and Clare. The nature of the materials and goods being transported was not specified, but they may include hazardous or explosive substances (Murray Air has a licence to carry explosives through Shannon Airport). And given Murray Air's safety record - one of their DC-8 aircraft had to make an emergency landing at Shannon after its engines caught fire on take-off in March 2008 - this is not good news for Shannon.

It is time for transparency from the Irish authorities in relation to the cargos going through our civilian airport and the deals being done behind the Irish peoples backs.

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