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Cousins in command seal family rule over Iraq Kurds: analysts

Politics Epeak World News

The succession of two powerful cousins to the top government posts in Iraqi Kurdistan has sealed the Barzani family’s “monarchic” rule over the autonomous region, analysts say.
'The succession of two powerful cousins to the top government posts in Iraqi Kurdistan has sealed the Barzani family’s “monarchic” rule over the autonomous region, analysts say. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t With his son and nephew at the helm, veteran leader Masoud Barzani is expected to remain the region’s “real boss,” despite no longer holding a formal government position.On Tuesday, the region’s parliament named Masoud’s eldest son Masrour Barzani, 50, as the region’s new premier after seven years as its top security official.He succeeds his 52-year-old cousin Nechirvan — sworn in as president the previous day.Their party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), was founded by the cousins’ storied grandfather Mustafa — and while the clan’s domination of the KDP was long apparent, their rise through democratic means clinches its control over public institutions. “The Barzanis were already strong enough within the KRG, but now they are becoming even stronger,” said Kamal Chomani, a Kurdish analyst with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t “They know it is not possible in Iraq and the Kurdistan region to legally establish a monarchy, but they have established one practically,” he told AFP.Iraqi Kurdistan has been split for decades between the KDP and its rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). In October 2017, the KDP spearheaded a controversial independence referendum that prompted Baghdad to reoccupy large swathes of Kurdish-held territory and led to Masoud’s resignation as president. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t But a year later, the party made a resounding comeback in regional elections, winning 45 of the 111-seat Kurdish parliament.It could therefore comfortably elect Nechirvan as president in late May despite a PUK boycott, and Masrour’s nomination sailed through a few weeks later. – The ‘real boss’ – With the cousins in command, analysts expect the KRG’s decision-making process — and the policies themselves — will be increasingly influenced by family politics.Megan Connelly, a doctoral candidate at the State University of New York and analyst on Kurdish affairs, said the grandiose Barzani family home would rival government bodies as the centre of gravity for policymaking. “The assertion of Barzani headquarters as this alternative institution is becoming quite apparent right now,” she said.As a result, Connelly told AFP, the presidency as an independent institution would “definitely be weaker, and Nechirvan will struggle to step out of Masoud’s shadow.” Indeed, the first speech after Nechirvan’s swearing-in on Monday did not go to the new president but to his uncle, Masoud.And in a March interview with Al-Monitor, Nechirvan admitted Masoud remained “the real boss,” describing him as “the one person who cannot be removed from the scene”. The elder Barzani would also likely have a role mediating any dispute between his son and nephew. “Nechirvan and Masrour Barzani will remain united in the face of external challenges facing their family and the KDP,” said Chomani. “However, their internal conflicts over power and resources, as well as monopoly of the market, will intensify.” – ‘One, big, warring family’ – The phenomenon of family rule is not limited to the KDP, with the PUK, too, dominated by the Talabani family.One of its founders, Jalal Talabani, served as federal president of Iraq from 2006 to 2014 and his son, Qubad, served as the KRG’s deputy premier and could return for another term.The Barzanis and Talabanis have been bitter rivals for decades, fighting a civil war in the mid-1990s that left thousands dead before Masoud and Jalal signed a peace agreement.Now, said Connelly, the older generations “sit across the table and they bring their sons and their grandsons.This is almost one, big, warring family.” The familiarity has sparked bitterness among opposition parties, including the New Generation movement, founded in 2018 to channel public anger at the region’s elite. “Bringing Masrour as PM is the final step towards establishing family rule in Kurdistan through democratic means,” said Sarkawt Shamsaddin, a New Generation MP in Iraq’s federal parliament.He told AFP the muted public reaction showed residents were “demoralised.” “They are tired of KRG politics, party politics and polarisation.The situation has been normalised, which is really dangerous,” said Shamsaddin.In the short term, the formalisation of family rule would likely stymie opposition parties’ attempts at affecting change, he said.But it may sow the seeds of long-term activism if party members unhappy with the domination of a single clan splinter off into new factions. “This is how I think change will come,” said Shamsaddin.Related Links News From Across The Stans Thanks for being here; We need your help.The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook – our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline.And unlike so many other news sites, we don’t have a paywall – with those annoying usernames and passwords.Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.SpaceDaily Contributor $5 Billed Once credit card or paypal SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter $5 Billed Monthly paypal only Afghan peace marchers reappear safe after Taliban ‘discussions’ Kandahar, Afghanistan (AFP) June 6, 2019 A group of Afghan peace marchers who were whisked away for several days by the Taliban, prompting fears for their safety, reappeared unharmed Thursday.The so-called People’s Peace Movement attracted international attention last year when they walked hundreds of kilometres across Afghanistan and into the capital Kabul in an attempt to reduce the record levels of violence across the country.About 30 members of the People’s Peace Movement started a new walk on May 27, when they set out from Lashk … read more Source link . 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Islamic State Expands Reach in Afghanistan, Threatening West

Politics Epeak World News

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — The Islamic State group has lost its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, but in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan the group is expanding its footprint, recruiting new fighters and plotting attacks on the United
'JALALABAD, Afghanistan — The Islamic State group has lost its caliphate in Syria and Iraq, but in the forbidding mountains of northeastern Afghanistan the group is expanding its footprint, recruiting new fighters and plotting attacks on the United States and other Western countries, according to U.S. and Afghan security officials. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t Nearly two decades after the U.S.-led invasion, the extremist group is seen as an even greater threat than the Taliban because of its increasingly sophisticated military capabilities and its strategy of targeting civilians, both in Afghanistan and abroad.Concerns run so deep that many have come to see the Taliban, which has also clashed with ISIS, as a potential partner in containing it.A U.S. intelligence official based in Afghanistan told The Associated Press that a recent wave of attacks in the capital, Kabul, is “practice runs” for even bigger attacks in Europe and the United States. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t “This group is the most near-term threat to our homelands from Afghanistan,” the official said on condition of anonymity to preserve his operational security. “The IS core mandate is: You will conduct external attacks” in the U.S. and Europe. “That is their goal.It’s just a matter of time,” he said. “It is very scary.” Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, sees Afghanistan as a possible new base for IS now that it has been driven from Iraq and Syria. “ISIS has invested a disproportionate amount of attention and resources in Afghanistan,” he said, pointing to “huge arms stockpiling” in the east.A ‘PROVINCE’ OF THE CALIPHATE The Islamic State affiliate appeared in Afghanistan shortly after the group’s core fighters swept across Syria and Iraq in the summer of 2014, carving out a self-styled caliphate, or Islamic empire, in around a third of both countries.The Afghanistan affiliate refers to itself as the Khorasan Province, a name applied to parts of Afghanistan, Iran and central Asia in the Middle Ages. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t The ISIS affiliate initially numbered just a few dozen fighters, mainly Pakistani Taliban driven from their bases across the border and disgruntled Afghan Taliban attracted to ISIS’ more extreme ideology.While the Taliban have confined their struggle to Afghanistan, the IS militants pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the reclusive leader of the group in the Middle East, and embraced his call for a worldwide jihad against non-Muslims.Within Afghanistan, ISIS launched large-scale attacks on minority Shiites, who it views as apostates deserving of death The group suffered some early stumbles as its leaders were picked off by U.S. airstrikes.But it received a major boost when the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan joined its ranks in 2015.Today it counts thousands of fighters, many from central Asia but also from Arab countries, Chechnya, India and Bangladesh, as well as ethnic Uighurs from China.The group has long been based in the eastern Nangarhar province, a rugged region along the border with Pakistan, but has a strong presence in northern Afghanistan and of late has expanded into neighboring Kunar province, where it could prove even harder to dislodge.The mountainous province provided shelter for Osama bin Laden for nearly a year after the Taliban’s ouster, and U.S. forces struggled for years to capture and hold high-altitude outposts there, eventually all but surrendering the region to the Taliban. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t The area comprising the provinces of Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar and Laghman was so dangerous that the U.S.-led coalition assigned an acronym to it in the years after the invasion, referring to it as N2KL.Militants launching shoulder-fired rockets from Kunar’s peaks downed a U.S.Chinook helicopter in 2005, killing 16 Navy SEALs and special operations forces in one of the deadliest single attacks of the war.Ajmal Omar, a member of the Nangarhar provincial council, says ISIS now has a presence in all four provinces. “Right now in Kunar, the right side of the road is Taliban, the left side is Daesh and the government is in the middle,” he said, referring to the group by its Arabic acronym.Speaking inside his heavily fortified home in the provincial capital, Jalalabad, he said neighboring Kunar would soon replace the Middle East as the ISIS group’s center of gravity. “When they began in Afghanistan they were maybe 150 Daesh, but today there are thousands and thousands,” he said. “The bad news is their acquisition of key terrain, height concealment, where they can have easy access to money, weapons, equipment . . .and from where they can plan, train, stage, facilitate and expedite attacks,” said the U.S. intelligence official. “I think expansion of territory in eastern Afghanistan is their number one military objective,” with the goal of eventually encircling Jalalabad, he said.TURNING TO THE TALIBAN It’s been nearly 18 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, which had harbored al-Qaida when bin Laden and his lieutenants were planning the Sept. 11 attacks.Now military and intelligence officials see the Taliban as a potential ally against a similar threat.In recent months the Taliban have said they have no ambitions to monopolize power in a post-war Afghanistan, while ISIS is committed to overthrowing the Kabul government on its path to establishing a global caliphate.The Taliban and ISIS are sharply divided over ideology and tactics, with the Taliban largely confining their attacks to government targets and Afghan and international security forces.The Taliban and ISIS have fought each other on a number of occasions, and the Taliban are still the larger and more imposing force.U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban in recent months in a bid to end America’s longest war.The two sides appear to be closing in on an agreement in which the U.S. would withdraw its forces in return for a pledge from the Taliban to keep the country from being used as a launch pad for global attacks. “One of the hopes of a negotiated settlement is that it will bring the Taliban into the government and into the fight against IS,” the U.S. intelligence official said. “They know the mountains, they know the terrain.It’s their territory.” But a negotiated settlement could also prompt an exodus of more radical Taliban fighters to join ISIS.That process is already underway in parts of northern and eastern Afghanistan, where the Taliban have attacked IS only to lose territory and fighters to the rival extremist group.Russia, which occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s before being driven out by U.S.-backed Islamic insurgents, has been sounding the alarm about ISIS for years, and had reached out to the Taliban even before the U.S. talks.During a visit to Kyrgyzstan last month, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu described Afghanistan as a “launch pad” for ISIS after the group was pushed out of Syria and Iraq.Russia, like the United States, sees a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government as the best way of countering the threat posed by ISIS, and Moscow has held two rounds of informal talks involving the Taliban, government representatives and other prominent Afghans.But as peace efforts have stumbled in recent months, Russia has turned to more lethal means of containing the threat.Shoigu said Russia has sent heavy equipment, including helicopters and armored vehicles, to Kyrgyz forces, and has boosted combat readiness in its bases in the former Soviet republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.THREATENING THE WEST Without an aggressive counterterrorism strategy, Afghanistan’s ISIS affiliate will be able to carry out a large-scale attack in the U.S. or Europe within the next year, the U.S. intelligence official said, adding that ISIS fighters captured in Afghanistan have been found to be in contact with fellow militants in other countries.Authorities have also already made at least eight arrests in the United States linked to the ISIS affiliate in Afghanistan.Martin Azizi-Yarand, the 18-year-old Texan who plotted a 2018 attack on a suburban mall, said he was inspired by ISIS and was preparing to join the affiliate in Afghanistan.He was sentenced in April to 20 years in jail.Rakhmat Akilov, the 39-year-old Uzbek who plowed his truck into pedestrians in Stockholm in 2017, also had links with the Afghanistan affiliate, the intelligence official said. “During interrogation he said ‘this is my commander in Afghanistan and he is telling me what to do,'” he said.Inside Afghanistan, the group is actively recruiting at universities, where it is more likely to find tech-savvy Afghans able to travel abroad, use social media and help plan sophisticated attacks, according to the intelligence official.The group’s brutal tactics have been on vivid display inside Afghanistan for years.Suicide bombings have killed hundreds of Shiite civilians in Kabul and elsewhere, and residents who have fled areas captured by the group describe a reign of terror not unlike that seen in Syria and Iraq.Farmanullah Shirzad fled his village in Nangarhar in late April as ISIS fighters swept through the area. “I was terrified to stay,” he said. “When Daesh takes over a village, they kill the people, they don’t care about the children and they come into the homes and they take the women.” ___ Associated Press writers Amir Shah in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.This article was written by Kathy Gannon from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.Show Full Article © Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.Source link . The post Islamic State Expands Reach in Afghanistan, Threatening West appeared first on EPeak World News .'

FIFA Bars Afghan Soccer Chief for Life After Sexual Assault Accusations

Football Best World News

PARIS — FIFA on Saturday barred the president of Afghanistan’s soccer association from the sport for life, months after reports emerged that he had sexually assaulted players and had threatened them when they went public with their accusations.
'PARIS — FIFA on Saturday barred the president of Afghanistan’s soccer association from the sport for life, months after reports emerged that he had sexually assaulted players and had threatened them when they went public with their accusations.Soccer’s global governing body announced the punishment against the Afghan official, Keramuddin Keram, on the second day of the Women’s World Cup in France.It said that Mr.Keram had “abused his position and sexually abused various female players, in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics.” Mr.Keram also was fined one million Swiss francs (about $1 million). The sanctions against Mr.Keram were the most significant yet issued by FIFA against a senior official accused of sexual misconduct.The punishment comes amid a string of accusations of rape, sexual abuse and harassment by women in a game long dominated by men.Last month, officials in Gabon announced a judicial investigation into claims that members of the country’s under-20 women’s team had been raped and mistreated by federation staff members during a tournament in France.Khalida Popal, one of the original players on the Afghan women’s team and a longtime manager, said in a Twitter post on Saturday that she was pleased with the ban of Mr.Keram, but that it was only a first step. “We are not done yet,” she wrote, adding: “We shouldn’t let the abuse culture in Football.Women should be protected.” FIFA said its Afghan investigation had based its findings on complaints lodged by at least five women’s soccer players who had accused Mr.Keram of repeated sexual abuse from 2013 to 2018, while he served as president of the Afghanistan Football Federation.FIFA first suspended Mr.Keram after the accusations became public in December.That suspension was extended this spring while investigators for the FIFA ethics committee pursued the case.A criminal investigation of Mr.Keram and three other Afghan soccer officials was believed to be nearing completion, Afghan officials have said.Other claims of abuse or inappropriate conduct have emerged in Canada, Colombia and Ecuador, as well as in FIFA’s top leadership.A vice president of the organization, Ahmad Ahmad, faces accusations of sexual harassment from several women who worked with him in his role as the head of African soccer’s governing body.The accusations against Mr.Keram were particularly troubling, painting a picture of a menacing figure who held sway over players’ careers and lives, threatening them with ruin if they did not comply.Young women said the 57-year-old official, who has two wives, had a locked room in his office, where he sexually assaulted them, charges they made both in public statements and to Afghan prosecutors.Women who rebuffed his advances were labeled lesbians and expelled from the team, according to eight former players who said that it had happened to them.Those who went public said they faced intimidation.Tariq Panja reported from Paris, and Rod Nordland from Kabul, Afghanistan.Fahim Abed contributed reporting from Kabul.Source: Read Full Article . The post FIFA Bars Afghan Soccer Chief for Life After Sexual Assault Accusations appeared first on Best World News .'

Back to the Long War: Helmand Province Eight Years Later

Politics Epeak World News

The goat trails and mud-bricked homes of Helmand were once deemed worthy of the lives of America’s sons and daughters.Christopher Jones returned to see what those lives had been lost to achieve.Americans are first introduced to Helmand Province from
'The goat trails and mud-bricked homes of Helmand were once deemed worthy of the lives of America?s sons and daughters.Christopher Jones returned to see what those lives had been lost to achieve. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t Americans are first introduced to Helmand Province from the air.A mass of mountains gives way to sand, patched with green, snaking south along the Helmand River, a roiling brown crease at odds with the fields of poppy and sustenance crops it feeds.I first met Helmand in November of 2010 from the back of a C-5 Loadmaster, a military cargo plane that?s been hauling American troops into Afghanistan since our war there began in 2001.A gaggle of 19- and 20-year-old Marines, myself among them, crowded around a small, circular porthole catching glimpses of the terrain below.The sergeants stayed in their seats.Most were Iraq veterans, and a few had already been to Afghanistan; they?d already crowded around airplane windows, nervously wondering if the sand 10,000 feet below them would soon become their grave.I had been a United States Marine for seven months, my shaved head both tradition and testament to my combat virginity.Thanks for watching!Visit Website I had not learned to hate Afghanistan yet.I was a believer in our mission there: not just defending America from its enemies, but helping the Afghan people take their country back from the Taliban, so they could one day stand alongside America as a free, independent country in a part of the world where authoritarian regimes and terrorist organizations reigned with impunity.The calculus in my young mind was devoutly simple.When a public affairs officer gave us a briefing about encountering journalists on our deployment, he fed us prepared lines about counterinsurgency and supporting Afghan allies.What would we tell a reporter our mission was?Lance Corporal Richmond, who already had an Iraq deployment under his belt, spit out his dip and piped up. ?We?re here to kill terrorists.Sir.? Thanks for watching!Visit Website Thanks for watching!Visit Website Marines from the author?s squad rest during a patrol in Marjah in the spring of 2011. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t (Photo: Christopher Jones) This April I met Helmand again.It was the first time I?d been there since 2013, and my shaved head and face had given way to an overgrown combover and scraggly beard.Both were intentional, a na?ve effort to ?blend in? with Helmandis, as I had no machine gun on this trip, nor were there tens of thousands of other Marines alongside me.I flew in with a Stars and Stripes reporter on the once-a-week Kam Air flight into Helmand?s capital city of Lashkar Gah.As the plane began to descend, I braced myself for an emotional impact.I had spent the last five years trying to come back to Helmand.It was a calling I could not fully articulate, not to girlfriends, family members, or editors.The closest explanation I could muster sounded trite and melodramatic: Its sand was in my blood, and my blood was in its sand.I told the Stars and Stripes reporter I traveled with that coming back to Helmand felt somewhat like returning to a childhood home: The walls might not be quite the same size as you remember, the rooms might feel smaller, but the floorboards would still squeak in the same places, and the third stair would still be crooked.So too would a stack of rocks piled next to a road scream that an improvised explosive device might be waiting nearby for a juicy-enough target, and the blaring silence of a quickly abandoned marketplace leave you bracing for an impending attack by bomb or gun. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t I was returning to Helmand to report on the frontline of America?s longest war, to meet the people who?ve been trapped between the Taliban and the U.S. government since October of 2001.I needed to see for myself what America had done with 18 years in the Taliban?s backyard and what the residents and defenders of Lashkar Gah face today.As Marines, we had been blessed with a privilege Afghan soldiers were not: We got to leave.After nine months of combat, I got to shake their hands for the last time, board a helicopter, and go home to a family that loved me and a country obligated to thank me.America is now attempting to leave behind this war we share, forgotten before it was ever remembered.But I?and the thousands of Marines who deployed to Helmand alongside me?cannot forget, will never be able to wash the silky dirt we called moondust from our skin.The goat trails and mud-bricked homes of Helmand were once deemed worthy of the lives of America?s sons and daughters.I needed to see what hundreds of those lives had been lost to achieve.Helmandi children in the winter of 2010. (Photo: Christopher Jones) Though I met Helmand in 2010, America and Helmand first came together in the early 1950s, when the Shah of Afghanistan asked Morrison-Knudsen, the same American company that built the Hoover Dam and the lauded Tennessee Valley Authority revitalization project, to undertake an ambitious plan to slingshot the restive province into the 20th century.Big on initiative and short on original names, the purpose of the Helmand Valley Authority was to do to southern Afghanistan what the company had done to Tennessee: enable the tremendous agricultural and manufacturing potential of the province with modern engineering and agricultural reform.A hydroelectric dam in Kajaki would turn the Helmand River?s current into electricity for both Helmand and Kandahar Province, electricity that would power a new export pipeline from the rural farms to collection centers in Lashkar Gah and to other larger cities.Below the dam, the river itself was diverted into irrigation networks that rapidly increased the amount of land that could sustain crops, and cities were created out of the desert with the hope of ending longstanding tribal feuds between local factions fighting over fertile areas.Marjah, the city in which I would eventually spend almost two years fighting as a U.S.Marine, did not exist before 1954.Lashkar Gah itself was called ?Little America? by Helmandis, thanks to the sheer volume of Americans who lived there.Even today there are whole neighborhoods of houses built by Americans in Lashkar Gah.As a local journalist drove me through the city on my visit this year, he pointed out sections of town that used to house Afghans and Americans side by side. ?Singles Street,? named for bachelor housing for students of the city?s university but that now houses entire families, sits around the corner from the cultural center that was once an American-built movie theater.Across the overflowing Helmand River from Lashkar Gah, sunlight breaks through the clouds over Nad Ali in April of 2019. (Photo: Christopher Jones) Helmandis I spoke with, from government officials to local village elders, speak warmly of the 30-odd years between 1954 and 1979 where tens of thousands of Americans?engineers, teachers, technicians, and families?lived in Helmand.Though younger Helmandis have known only fighting in their homeland, some told me of the stories they?ve heard from their parents and grandparents.Lashkar Gah is a testament to the decades of peace that Helmand enjoyed with Americans before such progress was largely demolished by a half century of war.Those years of cooperation have made the last 20 years especially cruel for Helmandis, who know the full force of America?s ability to create cities out of sand and to wield money like a hammer as well as like a sword.A month before my first deployment into Helmand, the leader of my machine-gun section told us to meet him at the company office on Camp Lejeune.He walked in with a stack of papers about two inches thick, slapped it down on a desk with a bang, and gave us all a look we knew meant our lives would depend on remembering what he was about to tell us. ?These are the after-action reports for Marjah,? he barked. ?This is what we?re about to face.? Someone raised a hand and asked if the papers were the reports for the last nine months.He shook his head.They were from the last two.For both Afghan soldiers and U.S.Marines, deploying to Helmand means becoming comfortable with the knowledge that the ground under your feet cannot be trusted.IEDs have killed more U.S. service members in Afghanistan than guns have.When we brought jamming devices to stop bombs triggered by car keys and cell phones, the Taliban built pressure plates: two strands of copper wire suspended between wooden planks that, when stepped on, completed a circuit and detonated the explosives buried in the fine dirt nearby.When we brought metal detectors to sniff out the copper, the Taliban laid string across fields?a quick yank would trigger the explosion.We found bombs made entirely of hollowed logs and matchstick shavings, bombs that used light sensors so the explosives would detonate when exposed to the sun, bombs in trees, bombs in walls, on donkeys and under dogs.It is hard to describe how fundamentally your sense of the world changes when every facet of your surroundings is used to try and kill you.By the time we returned to America, three Marines from our unit had been killed by IEDs.But America and the White House were already trying to leave?not win?the war, just as I began fighting it.A Marine from the author?s squad walks down a muddy goat trail on patrol in Marjah during the spring of 2011. (Photo: Christopher Jones) Two months before we set off for Marjah in 2010, President Barack Obama announced that combat missions would end in Afghanistan by 2014.Obama?s announcement frustrated many in the U.S. military who could not comprehend how we were supposed to defeat the Taliban with a time limit, since the insurgents merely needed to slip back south into Pakistan, which borders Helmand, and wait us out?which they did.When my unit redeployed to Afghanistan in the winter of 2012, we could feel the clock ticking.We knew the Afghan military was far from ready to stand on their own against the Taliban, and their only hope for survival rested with our ability to drive the Taliban as far into the desert, away from the civilians, as possible.My second deployment was again to Marjah, but we quickly learned that the war we returned to was not the one we?d fought a year before.Our mission was no longer to win, it was to not die.Washington, D.C., wanted a clean end to the fighting by 2014, and they could not have a repeat of the American casualties that had come the three years before.How could we call an end to combat operations if there was too much evidence that the fight was far from over?The solution, apparently, was to lie.If Marines stopped going outside our bases, the Taliban couldn?t shoot us, couldn?t blow us up.Then the generals could brief Congress and the White House, showing the lack of combat deaths as proof that the area had been pacified, that the Taliban were subdued, and that the Afghan forces were able to hold the area.A saying emerged from those final years of fighting: ?When FORCEPRO (Forces Protection) becomes the mission, there is no mission.? An Afghan National Army solider watches a local man have his photo taken during a patrol in the winter of 2010. (Photo: Christopher Jones) It helped that we did not track or report the number of Afghan army casualties.Our Navy medics spent many nights in the spring and summer of 2013 huddled over the mangled bodies of Afghan soldiers brought to us in the back of pick-up trucks.From our guard posts, we watched the Afghan soldiers fight the Taliban just out of reach of our guns, tracers arcing across the sky and RPG and artillery explosions lighting up the horizon.We bristled, angry at the tightened leash, disillusioned by watching our allies lose a war we weren?t allowed to fight.Before we left, we demolished our old patrol bases and outposts, handed some over to the Afghan National Army, and ignored their requests for assistance.As we convoyed out of Marjah for the last time in the summer of 2013, we tried to push Helmand as far from our minds as possible.By 2016 Helmand had fallen almost entirely to the Taliban.First to fall were contested cities like Sangin and Trek Nawa, then those where U.S. and Afghan troops had brought something akin to peace, like Garmsir and Marjah.Government forces abandoned their positions, retreating again and again until only Lashkar Gah was under government control.Before the retreat, forces were slaughtered.The Taliban deployed highly trained shock troops and struck isolated outposts with overwhelming force.There were no airstrikes to save the ANA soldiers, no MRAPs?large anti-mine vehicles?to provide cover.The ANA was left to fend for itself, then mocked as cowards by American observers when those who survived the onslaught fled their positions for the relative safety of Lashkar Gah.When U.S.Marines were first sent to Helmand in 2009 the leaders decided on a slogan to promote a sense of unity between the U.S. and Afghan soldiers: ?Shona ba shona,? a Dari phrase that means ?shoulder to shoulder.? (Most of the Afghan military is made up of Dari-speaking Afghans from the northeastern part of the country.The southern provinces?Helmand and Kandahar especially?almost exclusively speak Pashto, and are where the Taliban exert most of their control and influence.) ?Shona ba shona? was the only Dari many Marines would ever learn, as we were more interested in knowing how to tell a suspected Taliban fighter to ?get on the fucking ground right now,? in Pashto than exchanging pleasantries with the Afghan soldiers we patrolled with.Between patrols and guard duty, Afghan National Army soldiers pose for portraits inside their camp on the highway between Lashkar Gah and Kandahar, in April of 2019. (Photos: Christopher Jones) Marines and ANA soldiers didn?t get along in 2010, or in 2013, as we Marines were frustrated by the Afghan soldiers? inability to fight like us.We didn?t stop to care that their training lasted for a fraction of the time that ours did, or that they lacked an established cadre of experienced professional officers, or that they were unpaid, under-equipped, and deployed in their own backyard.They were supposed to fight like us, and it was some failure in the nature of Afghan culture that made them so ineffective.Green on blue attacks , where an Afghan soldier would kill Americans on shared bases, only served to further the divide.There were almost 100 of these attacks between 2008 and 2017, but 2012 was the worst year with 44 reported incidents.Americans and Afghans were no longer living on shared bases by the time we returned.Perhaps this forced alienation made it that much easier to leave the bases in 2014, made it that much easier to let ?shona ba shona? become another lie we told the people of Afghanistan.It?s easy to ignore the fact that Afghan security forces are fighting America?s longest war, that they die on the frontline of a conflict that America started and now so desperately wants to weasel out of.In 2016 U.S.Marines returned to Helmand and helped the beleaguered Afghan Army and National Police forces push the Taliban back.Today, the Afghan Army, still supported by U.S.Marines and American aircraft, hold a tenuous line of territory in the province, and Lashkar Gah is no longer surrounded.When I returned to Lashkar Gah last month, spring had just begun.Spring in Helmand is a double-edged sword.The rains are a blessing to farmers regardless of what they grow.Spring is the best time to sample Helmandi cucumbers, tomatoes, grapes, pomegranates, and meaty peaches that give Georgia?s a run for their money.The populated areas become humid and green.Anyone who?s fought in Helmand?American, Taliban, and Afghan Army alike?can tell you about the other side of the blade and how sharply it cuts.Spring means the poppy harvest, and opium exports fund the Taliban and drug gangs across the country.Thousands of Taliban fighters put down their guns for the harvest, with the blessing of their commanders.For a few weeks the province is peaceful, but it?s a fleeting quiet that everyone knows will end as soon as the poppy bulbs have been bled dry of the milky white fluid that is quickly turned into black tar heroin.Once the harvest is done, the men return to their commanders, and the annual fighting season begins.The halcyon moment of deep sunsets and light breezes in an unpolluted, restive land is shattered by months of bloodletting that only pause once the winter arrives again.In April of 2019, a boy walks past a small pond formed by a single U.S. bomb dropped during heavy fighting to retake Nad Ali, two years earlier. (Photo: Christopher Jones) The most common refrain from Helmandis when asked about the potential for a peace deal is that this is a problem entirely out of their hands. ?Peace is the order of God,? said one village elder. ?This fight isn?t really our fight,? explained another. ?You [Americans] guaranteed security.Finish this, then leave,? argued a third.The eyes of a former district governor from Garmsir, Hajji Abdullah, lit up when he reminisced about the Marine officers he worked with in the early 2010s.His time as district governor brought a level of stability to Garmsir that few expected, and a book was written by a Department of State political officer who worked with him describing his success at managing local power dynamics.Abdullah was heralded as an example of how hyperlocal peace efforts, connecting villages and tribes through a shared desire for peace and mutually beneficial economic progress, were the roadmap for an end to the war against the Taliban.And though Helmand Province is mostly notorious for its main export?opium?it?s also exported a fierce desire for peace.For some, that desire manifests itself in sacrifice.A village elder told me he?s lost seven men from his family fighting against the Taliban: four nephews and three sons.For others, it?s manifested in a grassroots peace movement that started when a handful of Helmandis marched from Lashkar Gah all the way to Kabul to protest both sides in the war, demanding an end to fighting that has done little more than ensure civilians have died at an increasing rate over the years.By the time they reached Kabul itself, the number of marchers had gone from eight to over a hundred.The People?s Peace Movement grew out of the support for those first marchers in Helmand and other provinces since then, and has held demonstrations against both the Taliban and the Afghan government forces.The movement is symbolic, frustratingly fangless in a country caught between a corrupt government in Kabul and the merciless alternative of Taliban rule.Today, even Hajji Abdullah believes that the end of the war will not be found in Helmand. ?I don?t believe either side? of the Doha talks between the Taliban and U.S. government representatives, he explained. ?There are lots of big hands inside this issue.? But until those big foreign hands can sort themselves out, Helmand Province will continue to suffer.The United Nations recently released a chilling statistic: U.S. and Afghan forces have killed more civilians in 2019 than the Taliban has.Though that number has been challenged by both the U.S. military and the Afghan government (Taliban fighters killed without their weapons are sometimes reported as civilian casualties, and verification is difficult if not impossible in many cases), the number of women and children killed this year alone has cast a dark shadow across the Afghan government?s reputation, already darkened by corruption and an inability to bring an end to the war.Afghan National Army Major Hedayat Rasouly sits in his office in April of 2019 holding the remains of a shaped charge bomb.The bomb was planted by the Taliban and later defused by explosive ordinance disposal specialists from Rasouly?s brigade. (Photo: Christopher Jones) Of course, despite what those involved in peace talks might discuss, war is hardly the only hardship that Helmandis face, and they appear to be facing a new killer, one that has begun displacing more people than the war itself: the increasingly catastrophic effects of the global El Ni?o weather cycle exacerbated by human-made climate change.Rising temperatures have accelerated the melting of snow in northern Afghanistan, and flash floods have killed dozens and displaced over 100,000 families in Helmand and neighboring Kandahar Province.At one point the Taliban asked government forces to help rescue civilians trapped on the roofs of their homes.The Helmand River flooded, and stayed flooded.The topsoil near the river, already struggling to retain water after years of drought and overworked for poppy cultivation, will undoubtedly be damaged for years to come.Without war, such a disastrous change to the ecology of an intensely agricultural society would be devastating.But the Taliban and the U.S. representatives in Doha aren?t concerned enough with what happens to families and their farms in Helmand to implement a ceasefire.Helmandis cannot wait for foreign hands to bring peace.Some affected by the flooding were able to get government assistance, though it?s too late to replant for a harvest this year.Many of those who lost their homes and family members will join the estimated 1.5 million Afghans who?ve become refugees in their own country, moving to ramshackle camps on the outskirts of major cities like Kabul, Herat, and Kandahar City.In Afghanistan, things can always get worse.The Afghan National Army soldiers stationed in Helmand cannot wait for peace talks in Doha to end the fighting.Despite ongoing peace negotiations (that have notably excluded the Afghan government), there has been no ceasefire nor indication that the American representatives are pressuring the Taliban to implement a break in hostilities.Three days before our arrival, the Taliban announced their spring offensive.They named it Victory, and a letter sent to local Taliban commanders laid out guidelines for how to wage their annual bloodletting.The biggest change this year is less emphasis on killing Americans and more on killing Afghan soldiers, police, and government workers.The military and police officers with whom I spoke describe this as a ploy to expedite the withdrawal of U.S. support of the Afghan government and military.The letter also said the Taliban will focus on killing ?spies,? which many journalists have been accused of being before being murdered by the Taliban.On the outskirts of Lashkar Gah, I met Major Hedayat Rasouly, the commander of an ANA brigade in the 215th Corps responsible for defending a stretch of highway between Lashkar Gah and Kandahar City.Unlike the majority of Afghan soldiers in Helmand, Rasouly was born and raised in a small village about 12.5 miles west of where his men and he now patrol.There are attacks in his hometown on a daily basis, and he speaks often over the phone to his family still living there.When we passed the last checkpoint that marked the outer limit of Lashkar Gah, the Afghan journalist driving with us shifted in his seat, his shoulders tensing.The Taliban controlled territory on either side of the highway.A Taliban flag could be seen about 220 yards to the east, belligerent and piercing as it billowed over a copse of trees.Whenever Afghan government forces attempted to take the flag down, sniper fire would send them running.To the west lay the foothills of mountains completely controlled by the Taliban, undisturbed by Afghan forces.But the road was open, and Afghans could move relatively freely between Helmand and Kandahar.Twice a day, Rasouly sends his counter-IED teams to clear the road of explosives, finding as many as 18 newly planted bombs in a single day.A tarp covers a mortar tube and ammunition at an Afghan National Army base in Helmand Province in April of 2019. (Photo: Christopher Jones) The ANA base was quiet when we arrived.Most of the soldiers stationed at the base were on patrol, some sweeping the road for IEDs, others resupplying the dozens of small checkpoints manned by Afghan soldiers that ostensibly prevent the Taliban from moving freely through the area.The tactic is similar to the U.S.Marine approach to keeping Helmand secure: flooding the area with small patrol bases with 20 or so Marines, sending out patrols constantly to keep the Taliban from being able to amass their forces anywhere undetected.But the ANA has famously suffered from a lack of personnel, and its effects are exacerbated to an extreme in Helmand Province.In an area that would have been secured by two Marine companies?about 500 Marines?Rasouly has 130 soldiers.The day before we visited Rasouly?s base, he took his first casualties since assuming command of the brigade seven months ago.A former soldier who?d left the Afghan army in 2012 after his brother was killed returned to the 215th Corps a month ago.Though the ANA is desperate for more men, new recruits and returning veterans are treated with extreme suspicion and are vetted by the Afghan government?s intelligence wing, the National Directorate of Security, before being allowed to rejoin their unit.This soldier was cleared, and the day before we arrived, he helped Taliban fighters sneak into his small outpost, where they killed three sleeping Afghan soldiers before slipping away.Insider attacks have become more frequent against government forces in Helmand.This March, another one sparked a three-day battle at Shorabak , the largest Afghan National Army base in Helmand Province attached to a U.S.Marine base.Before this insider attack, Rasouly had remarkable success as commander of his brigade.When he first arrived, the unit was in shambles.Most of the checkpoints had no radio to communicate with other outposts.Soldiers rarely patrolled, and Rasouly quickly began increasing the number of operations, even beginning ambushes against the Taliban.No military success goes unpunished: Because Rasouly has been able to hold his area so effectively, supplies and new soldiers are instead sent to commanders who are struggling.Ammunition cans, emptied during previous battles, lay discarded at an Afghan National Army camp in Helmand Province in April of 2019. (Photo: Christopher Jones) Rasouly believes the Taliban are weaker than in previous years and suggests the emphasis on insider attacks are a sign of desperation, not strength.However weakened the Taliban may be, Rasouly is quick to point out that the Afghan forces have not been able to hold out alone: The U.S.Marines stationed at a small patrol base in Lashkar Gah and the more remote Camp Leatherneck facilitate airstrikes that have helped the Afghan forces hold the line. ?It?s very important, the air support,? Rasouly said, nodding for emphasis. ?We need more.? I asked him if the reports were true that U.S. airstrikes were predominately killing and wounding civilians, and if the backlash from locals was perhaps negating the ANA?s tactical advantage.Rasouly acknowledged that civilian casualties do happen, but he argued that the numbers are grossly inflated by the Taliban and U.N. reports due to miscounting of Taliban forces as civilians.When I asked him what would happen if the Marines left again, taking their air support with them, he shrugged and gestured to the surrounding area. ?We will fight.I will never stop fighting them.? In Nad Ali, a town just across the Helmand River from Lashkar Gah that was one of the last to fall during the Taliban?s 2016 offensive, the Afghan Local Police headquarters feels surrounded: In a few directions, it?s impossible to see more than a few feet before the view is obscured by overgrowth.Along the road from Lashkar Gah, crumbled mud wall foundations are garnished with barbed wire coils, the remnants of British patrol bases destroyed by the Taliban when the insurgents retook the city.About a quarter mile from the headquarters, I?m told that what I thought was a pond is actually the crater from a single U.S. bomb dropped during the fight to retake the city.The town now is ?controlled? by the Afghan government.Daily reports of attacks against police checkpoints show how tenuous that control really is.Left: A government official prepares to share lunch with the author and other journalists in Lashkar Gah.Right: A pair of night vision goggles, purchased by Major Rasouly, hang from a peg in his office at his brigade camp. (Photos: Christopher Jones) At the Afghan National Police headquarters in town, I sat down with the acting deputy commander of the post.Acting, because the appointed deputy commander is afraid to leave Lashkar Gah to join his men in Nad Ali.In his stead Asmadullah, a 57-year-old former teacher with kind eyes, leads the police force of this town.Asmadullah is concerned. ?I don?t think the future will be calm,? Asmadullah told me when I asked about the coming months, ?but we will never allow the Taliban to take the whole city.? He, like many members of the Afghan security forces, puts little stock in talks between U.S. representatives and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.His calculus is simple: ?If the U.S. puts pressure on Pakistan, then there will be peace.If not, no peace.Talks don?t change anything.The fighting has only increased.? I asked Asmadullah about what lessons government forces learned from their defeat in 2016, and he quickly interjected with very Marine rebuttal. ?We were not defeated,? he said forcefully, ?only surrounded.? Left: An Afghan National Army soldier on patrol with the author?s squad in Marjah during the spring of 2011.Right: An Afghan National Army soldier standing guard duty at his brigade?s headquarters in April of 2019. (Photos: Christopher Jones) Fighting in Helmand requires one to become accustomed to being surrounded.The Taliban have the benefit of numbers, IEDs, and extremely powerful drug lords who supply the Taliban with fighters and a source of income.Even when more than 20,000 U.S.Marines were deployed across the province, firefights were often in two or more directions.It?s a disturbing feeling when the bullets come from another direction, and an entire tree line to your left or right erupts with gunfire.As Marines, we brought enough ?ass??shorthand for guns, grenades, helicopters, everything we needed to kill those brave and stupid enough to fight us?to fight through ambushes.When a Marine squad was pinned down by enemy fighters, we?d call in attack helicopters, F-18s, and C-130 gunships.Our armored vehicles could withstand RPGs and all but the largest of IED strikes.A .50 caliber machine gun or automatic grenade launcher mounted in the turret would make short work of an enemy position, or at least provide enough cover for Marines on foot to get out of an ambush.The darkest days of a combat deployment to Helmand were those when air support and vehicles weren?t available, and the Taliban often tried to draw Marines into fights where the planes and trucks co'

Taliban suicide bomber targets convoy in Kabul

Politics Epeak World News

Taliban Telegram channels shared these photos from the scene of a suicide bombing in Kabul earlier today.A Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle as a American convoy passed by in Kabul earlier today.
'Taliban Telegram channels shared these photos from the scene of a suicide bombing in Kabul earlier today.A Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle as a American convoy passed by in Kabul earlier today.A spokesman for the police in Kabul said that four Afghans were killed and three others wounded, according to the Associated Press . Four US service members were injured in the blast. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility.In a statement attributed to its spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, the group said the attack is part of the “ongoing successful Al-Fath Operations,” which are being carried out throughout the country.The Taliban says the target of this “martyr attack” was a “convoy of senior foreign invaders passing through” Kabul’s eastern PD9 “at around 09:00 am local time today.” Mujahid identifies the bomber as a “heroic Mujahid (Siddique from Khost),” who used “a car packed with heavy explosives.” \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t The Taliban exaggerated US casualties, claiming that the explosion “killed 10 invaders including senior officers,” while also destroying “2 enemy Land Cruiser SUVs.” Initial independent reports say that several Afghans were killed, while four Americans were wounded.The Taliban’s “martyrdom” attack in Kabul was executed just one day after the Islamic State’s Khorasan branch launched its own suicide bombing in the Afghan capital.A loyalist of the so-called caliphate s truck outside the the Marshal Fahim National Defense University , killing six people and wounding others.It was the second time that the military academy has been targeted by the Khorasan “province,” with the first attack occurring in Jan. 2018.As FDD’s Long War Journal noted yesterday , Kabul continues to be the jihadists’ number one target when it comes to suicide bombings and other complex operations. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t Twenty-eight (28) of the 65 “suicide and complex attacks” counted by United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in 2018 occurred inside the Afghan capital.This was more than in any other area of Afghanistan.These same “martyrdom” operations accounted for “1,686 civilian casualties (554 deaths and 1,132 injuries)” in Kabul last year, a “five per cent increase in the number of casualties from” 2017.The “attacks perpetrated in Kabul mainly targeted civilians, including the civilian Government administration, places of worship, education facilities, election-related sites and other ‘soft’ targets,” UNAMA reported.Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD’s Long War Journal. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t Are you a dedicated reader of FDD’s Long War Journal?Has our research benefitted you or your team over the years?Support our independent reporting and analysis today by considering a one-time or monthly donation.Thanks for reading!You can make a tax-deductible donation here.Tags: Afghanistan , Kabul , Taliban , Taliban martyrdom operation , Taliban suicide attack Source link . The post Taliban suicide bomber targets convoy in Kabul appeared first on EPeak World News .'

Suicide Car Bomb Targets US Convoy in Afghanistan

Politics Epeak World News

KABUL, Afghanistan — In a second suicide attack in as many days to rattle the Afghan capital, a car bomb targeting a U.S. convoy exploded early Friday morning in an eastern neighborhood, leaving seven Afghan casualties, police said.
'KABUL, Afghanistan — In a second suicide attack in as many days to rattle the Afghan capital, a car bomb targeting a U.S. convoy exploded early Friday morning in an eastern neighborhood, leaving seven Afghan casualties, police said. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t Bob Purtiman, Public Affairs officer with the U.S. military in Kabul, said four service members also received minor injuries when the suicide bomber struck the convoy.The one-line statement did not elaborate.Firdous Faramaz, Kabul police chief spokesman, could not immediately say how many of the seven Afghan casualties were dead or wounded, saying it was “too early” to tell.The suicide bomber struck as a U.S. convoy was passing through Kabul’s eastern Yakatot neighborhood, where U.S. and NATO forces maintain complexes.Facilities operated by the Afghan National Security Forces are also located in the same area.In a telephone interview, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid took responsibility for Friday’s attack, claiming 10 U.S. soldiers were killed.Taliban claims are often exaggerated.Witnesses said the explosion was powerful, blowing out windows in neighboring buildings.Traffic on the streets was light because the bombing occurred on a Friday, the weekly day off. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t On Thursday, six people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside an Afghan army academy and training center, also in the same area but several kilometers away from Friday’s explosion.The Interior Ministry on Thursday said a soldier had noticed a suspicious person and, as he approached him, the attacker detonated his explosives near the academy.The soldier’s action likely saved lives.No one has taken responsibility for Thursday’s attack.Both the Taliban and an Islamic State affiliate have infiltrated the capital in the past. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t Afghanistan’s beleaguered security forces come under near daily assaults.While the Afghan Defense Ministry no longer releases casualty figures for its troops, the estimate is as many as 50 Afghan security personnel die each day in Afghanistan.The attacks by the Taliban have continued unabated despite peace talks with the United States as well as a fresh round of talks with Afghan notables this week in the Russian capital Moscow.Following the Moscow talks, Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said “spectacular progress” was made on some issues, without elaborating.The Taliban have rejected repeated demands for a cease fire, saying the fighting will continue until U.S. and NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan.They also continue to refuse to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, calling them U.S. puppets, yet several senior government personalities, including members of a Kabul peace council attended the Moscow meeting.The Taliban have said they will meet with members of the government, but as ordinary Afghans, rather than as government representatives. ____ Associated Press Writer Kathy Gannon in Kabul, Afghanistan contributed to this report This article was written by Amir Shah from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.Show Full Article © Copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.Source link . The post Suicide Car Bomb Targets US Convoy in Afghanistan appeared first on EPeak World News .'

Taliban, Afghan opposition officials claim ‘progress’ at talks

Politics Epeak World News

Taliban officials and Afghan opposition figures claimed Thursday to have made “tremendous progress” at Moscow talks, but the announcement rang hollow as discussions yet again excluded the Afghan government and no ceasefire was announced.
'Taliban officials and Afghan opposition figures claimed Thursday to have made “tremendous progress” at Moscow talks, but the announcement rang hollow as discussions yet again excluded the Afghan government and no ceasefire was announced. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t The ultra-conservative Islamist insurgents spent more than two days at a plush hotel in central Moscow, where they met several leading Afghan politicians — including past president Hamid Karzai and former warlord Atta Muhammad Nur.In a joint statement, the parties said they’d had “productive and constructive” discussions focusing on issues including a possible ceasefire, the “strengthening of the Islamic system” and “women’s rights”. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t “Both sides have had tremendous progress, but some issues require further discussions,” the statement read.But with the Kabul administration — viewed by the Taliban as a US-backed puppet regime — once more sidelined from the conversation, it was difficult to see what tangible results could come from the talks.Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had proposed a nationwide ceasefire at the start of the holy month of Ramadan, but the Taliban rejected the offer. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t The Taliban have also baulked at repeated US calls to reduce violence while negotiations between the insurgents and Washington are ongoing.The meeting in Moscow was the second such summit in the Russian capital.The bearded, turban-wearing Taliban were photographed looking uncomfortable as female reporters in figure-hugging Western clothing approached them for interviews. \t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t.bsaProContainer-1 {\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\tdisplay: none;\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t}\t\t\t\t\t\t\t \t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t\t The meeting came weeks after a sixth round of talks between the US and Taliban wrapped up in Qatar with no tangible progress cited by the negotiating teams.Those talks, led by US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, appear to have stalled over the fundamental question of when foreign forces would depart Afghanistan in the event of a peace deal.The US has refused to agree to a withdrawal until the Taliban put in place security guarantees, a ceasefire, and other commitments including an “intra-Afghan” dialogue with the Kabul government and other Afghan representatives.But the Taliban insist foreign forces leave first. – Women’s ‘rights’ – While parties claimed the Moscow summit was an “intra-Afghan” meeting, representatives from Ghani’s government — as well as anyone from the US — were conspicuous in their absence.At the start of the summit, initially convened by Moscow to mark 100 years of Russian-Afghan ties, the Afghan ambassador to Russia was allowed to give a speech.But he was barred from subsequent events, so ended up sitting in the lobby of the swish hotel.Still, Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai — the Taliban’s chief negotiator and former deputy minister of foreign affairs — insisted the insurgents were seeking peace “with all sincerity”. “But we want a reasonable peace in Afghanistan… the occupation has to end,” he said.Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said the group envisions a future government in which “all Afghans would see themselves”. Since peace talks began last autumn between the Taliban and the US, the insurgents have insisted they have moderated some of their views — including the rights of women, who were brutally repressed under their 1996-2001 totalitarian regime.The Taliban want an “Afghanistan where the rights of women, men and children, old and young are ensured,” Stanikzai said.However, those rights would be framed through Sharia law and tribal tradition, and so open to broad interpretation by men.Meanwhile, violence continued apace in Kabul and across Afghanistan.On Thursday, a suicide bomber attacked a military academy in the capital, killing six.And Afghan intelligence officials said 62 Taliban fighters were killed Wednesday night in the central province of Wardak.Related Links News From Across The Stans Thanks for being here; We need your help.The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook – our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline.And unlike so many other news sites, we don’t have a paywall – with those annoying usernames and passwords.Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.SpaceDaily Contributor $5 Billed Once credit card or paypal SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter $5 Billed Monthly paypal only Senior Taliban leader says insurgents want peace Moscow (AFP) May 28, 2019 Senior Taliban officials including the group’s top political advisor met with Afghan political figures in Moscow Tuesday, saying they were committed to peace in Afghanistan – even as US-led talks appear to have stalled.In a message the Taliban have not altered since talks with the US started last autumn, Taliban co-founder and political leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said the insurgents want an end to 18 years of conflict – but would only sign a deal after foreign forces quit Afghanistan. … read more Source link . 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