An Islamic State offshoot has amassed around 5,000 militants in northern Afghanistan on the border of post-Soviet republics of Central Asia, the director of Russia’s FSB has warned, adding that many of them have fought in Syria.
“Especially worrying is re-deployment of terrorist groups into northern provinces of Afghanistan,” Alexander Bortnikov told chiefs of ex-Soviet intelligence services in Dushanbe. He warned that ‘Wilayat Khorasan’, a local Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) affiliate, had managed to gather 5,000 fighters in the area.
In his State of the Union address on February 5, U.S. President Donald Trump said that his administration was “holding constructive talks with a number of Afghan groups, including the Taliban… [in order] to be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter-terrorism.”
Trump continued, “We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement — but we do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace.”
The rule of thumb for Islamist states who harbour terrorists who attack western targets or otherwise act out should be to bomb them into the stone age. No ground war, just destroy every last bit of infrastructure. Rinse and repeat.
KABUL, Afghanistan — A Taliban attack on two aid organizations last week, the deadliest episode in a recent surge of violence against humanitarian workers in Afghanistan, is a signal to many that as peace talks falter, the insurgents are lashing out against so-called soft targets.
Wednesday’s attack killed three workers for CARE, the American aid group, and at least six others, most of them civilians. Aid workers said the true death toll was 13. In either case, it was the single biggest loss of life among the country’s 2,000 nongovernmental organizations in more than a year.
Time to leave.
A program to train Afghan attack pilots in the United States has been disbanded after nearly half of the airmen went AWOL in Texas.
It has been revealed that more than 40 percent of Afghan Air Force students enrolled in the program went absent without leave in the middle of training.
The attack pilots were being trained to fly the AC-208 Combat Caravan, a light attack combat aircraft, according to a quarterly report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).
The US military announced it had stopped collecting data on which territory in Afghanistan is controlled or influenced by Taliban militants in comparison to the Afghan government.
The move to scratch the metrics, one of the last remaining public metrics on the war, comes as US and Taliban officials are meeting in Qatar for a fresh round of peace talks to try and end the long-running conflict.
The US has spent $1.5m (£1.15m) a day since 2001 fighting the opium war in Afghanistan. So why is business still booming?
It’s November 2017. The night vision camera shows a network of streets in a town in Helmand province, the poppy-growing centre of Afghanistan.
The camera wheels around the targets before the missiles come arcing in.
There are nine strikes in total, each one taking out an individual building in a series of almost simultaneous explosions.
One of four women who was recently subjected to a brutal public lashing by armed Taliban fighters in Afghanistan has spoken about her experience, amid an increase of violent punishments given to those violating its strict interpretation of religious law.
Aziza, who like many other Afghan women only uses one name, was rounded up by the Taliban’s shadow police for being out of her house without her husband and not being fully veiled. She was beaten so badly she lost consciousness.
Bensouda’s request to open an investigation said there was information that members of the US military and intelligence agencies “committed acts of torture, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, rape and sexual violence against conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan and other locations, principally in the 2003-2004 period”.
ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda – ulterior motive? Nevah!
Taliban founder Mullah Omar lived next to a US base in the Afghan province of Zabul for years, Dutch journalist Bette Dam claims in her new Dutch-language book “Searching for the Enemy.”
“The US, and almost everyone else, had it wrong,” Dam, who spent eight years researching the Taliban leader, wrote in an English-language excerpt. “After 2001, Mullah Omar never stepped foot in Pakistan, instead opting to hide in this native land — and for eight years, lived just a few miles from a major US Forward Operating Base that housed thousands of soldiers.”
When Aziz Gilan was posted last year to help try to secure a notorious district south of the Afghan capital, his police unit should have been around 80 strong.
Instead when he was deployed to Baraki Barak in Logar province, shortages meant the headcount was only 25 and in the months of fighting with the Taliban that followed it dwindled further.
As bombs and ambushes mounted, nine of his colleagues were killed and six more badly wounded.
Such casualty rates among Afghan forces are not unusual. More than 17 years after the Taliban regime was ousted and after America alone has ploughed more than £60bn into the Afghan security forces, they are dying at the rate of hundreds per month.
That is the likely outcome but perhaps the best reason to leave. Kleptocracy’s do not make good allies.
The American efforts to make a peace deal with the Taliban tends to ignore several key issues. First, the Taliban are a threat mainly because of the revenue they obtain by cooperating with the drug gangs. Second, the Taliban and the drug gangs operate because of cooperation from the Pakistani military (who control the Pakistani government). Third, the majority of Afghans are quite blunt about the fact that they will not tolerate a Taliban dominated Afghan government and if one does get into power there will be another civil war. Most Afghans, and the historical record, show these three items are what are really preventing peace in Afghanistan. The Americans and their NATO allies can withdraw all of their troops from Afghanistan but within months the violence and Islamic terrorism will have returned and that was what brought those foreign troops to Afghanistan in the first place. That was complicated by the fact that the only land access was via Pakistan, Iran or Russia
The Taliban extinguished Kamila Sidiqi’s hopes of becoming a teacher the day she graduated from training college.
As she proudly received her qualification in September 1996, Taliban militiamen entered her home city of Kabul to begin their forbidding five-year-long rule.
Overnight, a place at university or a job were out of the question for the 18-year-old. Girls’ education and women’s employment were banned. She could not leave the house without a burka and chaperone.
The peace talks went on uninterrupted, a marathon session for six intense days, yet barely a moment in a war that has lasted so much longer.
Still, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad emerged from the negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar last month with a message of hope, choosing to broadcast his message via a social media platform that didn’t even exist when the conflict in Afghanistan began.
Having assumed his assignment to end the longest war in American history, Khalilzad was upbeat. He went so far as to signal during a recent interview with a local television station in Kabul that “it is possible” to reach a peace deal with the Taliban before this year’s presidential elections in Afghanistan – now delayed until July.
As he began his presidency Donald Trump had the right idea about Afghanistan: “Let’s get out.” However, he surrounded himself with conventional thinkers who thwarted his wishes and refused to provide him with withdrawal options. After two years of additional, unnecessary American deaths, he apparently again is pushing for troop cut-backs.
Perhaps for this reason, administration officials are negotiating with the Taliban seeking a peace agreement that will allow an American pullout. The Kabul government, which purports to be both an essential U.S. ally and legitimate representative of the Afghan people, is on the outside looking in.
Taliban peace negotiators have said they are committed to guaranteeing women their rights under Islam – but failed to dispel fears that any deal will lead to a roll-back of the fragile freedoms gained by women in the past 17 years.