Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Fear, Fatigue Could Undermine Afghan Presidential Vote

Afghanistan’s twice-delayed September 28 election could be only the second-ever democratic transition of power in the war-wracked country.

But many Afghans remain wary of the landmark presidential vote, fearing Taliban violence aimed at disrupting the vote and disillusioned at the widespread fraud and corruption that has tainted other elections since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

Analysts say voter fatigue and safety concerns could depress turnout to undermine the legitimacy of the vote and give any winner only a weak mandate to rule a country reeling from economic turmoil, an escalating war, and political infighting.

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Posted by on September 30, 2019 in Asia



Trump Was Foolish to Invite the Taliban to Camp David but the War in Afghanistan Must End

The hashtag #TalibanTrump began trending over the weekend, after Donald Trump made a bizarre and very public admission on Twitter:

The president of the United States had planned to host the Taliban on U.S. soil, three days before the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Can you even begin to imagine the reaction from the right if Barack Obama had made a similar announcement?

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Posted by on September 13, 2019 in Asia, North America


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ISIS aims for Afghanistan expansion as US and Taliban work towards peace

ISIS has increased its violence in Afghanistan as the US and the Taliban this week neared a deal to end America’s longest war.

The country has been hit by a wave of bombings in recent days with ISIS killing 63 people and injuring almost 200 at a wedding reception on Saturday.

Two days later, as the country marked 100 years of independence, explosions hit restaurants and public places in the city of Jalalabad, leaving dozens wounded. The attack has not yet been claimed.

Experts believe ISIS’s latest offensive in Afghanistan is an attempt to derail peace talks between the US, the Taliban and the Afghan government.

“ISKP [IS Khorasan Province, the group’s branch in Afghanistan] is scared of a peace deal between the US and the Taliban, because they are getting hammered on the battlefield from two sides: by the pro-government forces and by the Taliban,” said Graeme Smith, a consultant for the International Crisis Group.

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Posted by on August 27, 2019 in Asia



Il grande ritorno dei signori della guerra in Afghanistan

Il cliché del signore della guerra barbuto e chiuso da solo nel suo quartier generale in un posto isolato non è più attuale in Afghanistan. Vent’anni dopo la caduta dei taliban, questi moderni signori feudali cercano di prendere il controllo di una o l’altra provincia, puntando sul clientelismo anziché sulla violenza, e occasionalmente coltivando la loro immagine internazionale.

Indipendentemente dalla loro appartenenza etnica, questi signori della guerra sono tutti ugualmente preoccupati della campagna per le elezioni presidenziali del 28 settembre, ma soprattutto dei negoziati tra gli Stati Uniti e i taliban.

La prospettiva di un ritiro delle forze statunitensi nel 2020 ha effettivamente indebolito in modo significativo il potere centrale, che è stato escluso, su espressa richiesta dei taliban, dai colloqui in Qatar tra gli Stati Uniti e l’insurrezione afgana. Donald Trump vuole a tutti i costi ritirare il suo contingente dall’Afghanistan, in modo da monetizzare tale ritiro durante la sua campagna per le presidenziali del 2020.

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Posted by on August 23, 2019 in Asia



While the world watches Donald Trump, it’s missing what’s really going on with US foreign policy

Our leaders know how to bang the war drums and, by and large, we go along with them. The US threatens Iran with war – so will Iran close the Strait of Hormuz and attack American warships in the Gulf? Israel strikes Iranian targets in Syria after rockets fall on Golan – so does an Arab-Israeli conflict loom closer than at any time since the 1973 conflict? Jared Kushner plans to reveal Trump’s “deal of the century” for peace in the Middle East – but is it dead in the water?

Meanwhile the real stories get pushed down the page – or “to the back of the book”, as we journalists used to say.

Take Donald Trump’s desire to furnish Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates with billions of dollars of extra weapons so that they can increase the ferocity of their war in Yemen against the Houthis – whose support from Iran, such as it is, prompts much of the international abuse against the Islamic Republic. French intelligence officers in Washington have apparently discovered that this is no routine request from Riyadh but a desperate appeal to Washington, because so promiscuous has been the Saudis’ use of US munitions against Houthi rebels (and civilians, hospitals, aid centres, schools and wedding parties) that they are running out of bombs, guided and unguided missiles, drone parts and other “precision” arms to be used on one of the poorest countries in the world.

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Posted by on June 11, 2019 in Asia, Middle East, North America


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Talking to the Taliban: peace at what price?

Presented by India Rakusen with Emma Graham-Harrison, Fawzia Koofi and Gary Younge; produced by Mythili Rao, Amy Walker and Axel Kacoutié; executive producers Nicole Jackson and Phil Maynard

Tue 5 Mar 2019 03.00 GMT Last modified on Tue 5 Mar 2019 09.20 GMT

Donald Trump has become increasingly impatient to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, a war he sees as having failed and a considers a continuing financial drain. But after more than 17 years of conflict, with at least 38,000 civilians killed and millions more injured or displaced, removing troops is a process fraught with risk.

The Afghan MP Fawzia Koofi took part in recent talks with the Taliban in Moscow and, having fought for a female presence around the table, she was insistent that women’s rights were not discarded in the process. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison discusses the slow improvement in women’s rights since the Taliban was ousted from government and how securing these was a key objective for the US.

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Posted by on March 5, 2019 in Asia



Taliban Talks Raise Question of What U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan Could Mean

President Trump’s headway in Afghan peace negotiations with the Taliban raises the same question that has bedeviled other presidents who extracted American troops from foreign wars: Will the departing Americans end up handing over the country to the same ruthless militants that the United States went to war to dislodge?

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Posted by on February 11, 2019 in Asia



Afghanistan takes center stage in the New Great Game

Moscow hosted talks last week to promote peace in Afghanistan as neighbors and regional heavyweights eye the rewards of stability in the long-troubled land

In the “graveyard of empires,” Afghanistan never ceases to deliver geopolitical and historical twists. Last week in Moscow, another crucial chapter in this epic story was written when Russia pledged to use its diplomatic muscle to spur peace efforts in the war-torn country.

Flanked by Afghan representatives and their Taliban rivals, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov talked about “working together with Afghanistan’s regional partners and friends who have gathered at this table.”

“I am counting on you holding a serious and constructive conversation that will justify the hopes of the Afghan people,” he said.

Back in the 1980s, Soviet Union president Zbigniew Brzezinski launched a disastrous war in the country. Thirty years later, Russia is now taking the lead role of mediator in this 21st-century version of the Great Game.

The line-up in Moscow was diverse.

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Posted by on November 24, 2018 in Asia



Who Is Winning the War in Afghanistan? Depends on Which One

Two wars are convulsing Afghanistan, the war of blood and guts, and the war of truth and lies. Both have been amassing casualties at a remarkable rate recently.

The first is that messy war in which, just in the past week, more than 40 high school students were blown to pieces in their classroom, hundreds of bodies were left abandoned for a week in the streets of Ghazni city or dumped in a river, and two important Afghan Army units were destroyed, almost to the last soldier.

The other is the war in which most of that, according to official accounts, did not happen — or at least was not as bad as it sounded. Not until late on the third day of the Taliban’s assault on Ghazni did President Ashraf Ghani’s aides even inform him of the desperation level there, two government officials said privately; Mr. Ghani himself later confirmed that publicly. By then the Taliban had control of nearly every neighborhood.

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Posted by on October 23, 2018 in Asia



A 4-Year-Old Girl Was the Sole Survivor of a U.S. Drone Strike in Afghanistan. Then She Disappeared.

Asadabad, the sylvan capital of Kunar province in eastern Afghanistan, has a population of more than 30,000 but the feel of a village. Little happens there without being noticed. Were you out surveying the bazaar on September 7, 2013, you might have seen eight men, three women, and four young children climb into a red Toyota pickup. Most were members of an extended family, returning home after running errands. The pickup was just large enough to accommodate the women and children, with the men piled into the back alongside the sacks of flour they had purchased. Their village, Gambir, was a 2 1/2-hour drive northwest on a rough and undulating road. The village had no electricity or running water, and whatever food that couldn’t be grown had to be brought in from town. To get a phone signal, you climbed a hill. To feel warm to the bone, you waited for spring.

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Posted by on August 14, 2018 in Asia