Monday, October 22, 2018

Retired general: If anyone can bring Afghanistan war to an end, it's Trump

A retired Army general said in an interview Thursday that if anyone can bring the 17-year-long Afghanistan war to an end, it's President Trump.

"Based on his success in dealing with some fairly hard characters — [North Korean leader] Kim Jong [Un], China, some others — if anybody can do it, President Trump can," retired Maj. Gen. Gary Harrell told Hill.TV's Buck Sexton on "Rising."

Harrell, a former Delta Force commander in Afghanistan who retired in 2008 after nearly 35 years in service, also praised Gen. Scott Miller, the top commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. 

"I think President Trump has the right man on the ground in Scott Miller," Harrell said.

Asked his views on how to bring the conflict in Afghanistan to an end, Harrell emphasized the need "to develop a solid line of communication down through General Miller and the envoy, but they need to be able to talk to the Afghan people."

"And try to win them over to where they are not so much focused on doing things the way their great-great-great grandfather did things, and bring them into the modern world a little bit. I don't know that that's easy, and I'm not sure it's doable," he added.

The U.S. currently has around 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of its training and advisory efforts as well as various counterterrorism operations.

The U.S.-led coalition has tried to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table through an increase in troops and airstrikes. 

The war hit the 17-year mark on Oct. 7. -  thehill

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Ghani Thanks The Nation For Successful Elections

President Ashraf Ghani said the participation of women in the elections as candidates and voters was an historic success for democracy in Afghanistan.
Immediately after the completion of the voting process in Afghanistan’s much-awaited parliamentary elections, President Ashraf Ghani sent out a message thanking security forces and members of the public for not having surrendered to insurgents.

He said that the completion of the election process had sent a clear message to the Taliban that the Afghan people would not surrender to any bullying.

“The great people of Afghanistan, thank you! By casting your votes, you sent a message to the world that you do not want violence, you demonstrated your determination through democracy. You proved to the Taliban that this nation will not surrender to anyone,” said Ghani in a speech to the Afghan people on Sunday.

He said that if the Taliban have ethical courage they must consult with the nation and prove themselves through the will of the nation.

“I want to urge the Taliban to come among the people and show whether their way has a place among the people or the way of democracy. The Afghans proved to their enemies that they do not surrender to threats and warnings,” added Sayyad.

He said that the participation of women in the elections as candidates and voters was an historic success for democracy in Afghanistan. - Read More

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Afghan voters brave bloodshed and chaos to cast their votes - The Guardian

Multiple deadly attacks and administrative chaos marred Afghanistan’s long-delayed parliamentary elections, but large numbers of voters have still braved the threats and long queues to cast their ballots.

There was bloodshed around the country, with nearly 200 attacks near polling stations or security checkpoints, at least 28 people killed and scores more injured, the interior minister, Wais Barmak, said. Perhaps the biggest blast in Kabul, late in the day, killed at least 15.

But even at polling stations spared violence, there were widespread problems, from faulty voting registers and difficulties with new equipment for biometric ID checks, to officials who failed to show up for the 7am opening of polls and attempts to coerce voters.

“People have been lining up to vote since 5am or 6am, but the employees of the election commission didn’t arrive until after 8am,” said Tawab Faizi, a volunteer monitoring the vote in the western city of Herat.
“Many people are angry here, they queued for two or three hours, but they were told that they cannot vote because their names are not on the list. There are many irregularities.”
The problems raised the prospects of the election – and the security worries that come with it – dragging on far beyond Saturday. The government said any voting stations that opened late would stay open into the evening, and those that did not open their doors until after 1pm would open again on Sunday.
The vote came at a critical time for Afghanistan, with civilian casualties at grim records, the Taliban holding or threatening more of the countrythan at any time since 2001, and the government slowing down before presidential polls next year. - Read More

Afghan voters brave bloodshed and chaos to cast their votes | World ...

Afghanistan election: Voters defy violence to cast ballots - BBC

Voters in Afghanistan have defied deadly attacks to cast ballots in large numbers in the nation's long-awaited parliamentary elections.

Several explosions targeted polling stations, with dozens of people killed or injured in scores of incidents across the country.

Voting will be extended amid delays, with some constituencies remaining open on Sunday.

A new biometric verification system has caused technical problems.

Violence had also marred election campaigning, with 10 candidates killed in the run-up to the polls. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group had vowed to disrupt them.

More than 2,500 candidates, including many women, are vying for 250 seats in the legislative elections, which are being held more than three years late. - Read More

Afghanistan election: Voters defy violence to cast ballots - BBC News

U.S. general says he may not have been target of Kandahar attack

KABUL/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said on Friday he did not believe he was the target of an attack that killed the powerful police chief of Kandahar, and Afghan officials said the gunman may have deliberately avoided hitting him.

The gunman assassinated the police chief of Kandahar province on Thursday along with a top Afghan intelligence agency officer, but the U.S. commander of Afghanistan’s NATO-led force, General Scott Miller, who was standing nearby when the attack occurred, was not hurt.

“My assessment is that I was not the target. It was a very close confined space. But I don’t assess that I was the target,” Miller told Afghanistan’s Tolo News TV in an interview.

General Abdul Razeq, police commander of the southern province and one of Afghanistan’s most powerful security officials, was fatally wounded by a bodyguard of the provincial governor as he came from a meeting with officials on Thursday.

“It’s been a long and painstaking journey in which he finally succeeded and got space among the bodyguards of the governor,” one Taliban commander said.

“It’s been a long and painstaking journey in which he finally succeeded and got space among the bodyguards of the governor,” one Taliban commander said.

In addition, the local head of the NDS intelligence service was killed and the provincial governor severely wounded, while the attacker himself was killed. 

Miller was also at the meeting and was heading to his helicopter to return to Kabul when the gunman, whom a Taliban spokesman identified as a 21 year-old from Ghazni province called Raza Mohammad, known as Abu Dujana, opened fire.- Read More

"د کندهار پېښې اصلي طراحان دوه تنه وو چې يو يې له کورنۍ سره پاکستان ته تښتېدلی "

کندهار (پژواک، ۲۸ تله ۹۷): په ټولنیزو چارو کې د کندهار د والي مرستیال حاجي اغا لالی دستګیري وايي، د کندهار د خونړي برید اصلي طراح له خپلې کورنۍ سره یو ځای پاکستان ته تښتېدلی دی.

دغه برید چې وړمه ورځ د تلې په ۲۶مه شاوخوا څلور بجې په کندهار ولایت مقام کې د والي د یوه ساتونکي له خوا وشو، په ترڅ کې یې د کندهار امنیه قوماندان جنرال عبدالرازق، د ملي امنیت رییس جنرال عبدالمومن حسین خېل او د کندهار ملي راډیو تلوېزیون کامره مين سلیم انګار ووژل شول او د والي په ګډون یو شمېر نور ټپيان شول.

حاجي اغا لالي دستګیري د تلې په ٢٨مه، له پژواک خبري اژانس سره په ځانګړې مرکه کې وویل، د دغه برید اصلي طراحان دوه تنه وو او د کندهار د والي په ګارډ کې يې دنده لرله چې برید کوونکی کس له پېښې وروسته ځای پر ځای ووژل شو او بل کس يې تښتېدلى.

ده زیاته کړه، هغه معلومات چې د دغې پېښې د څېړنو او پلټنو په پایله کې په لاس راغلي، ښيي چې د دغه خونړي برید اصلي طراح بصیر احمد نومېږي او د کندهار ښار د څلورمې ناحیې اوسېدونکی دی چې د والي په ګارډ کې يې دنده لرله.

دی وايي، دغه کس لس یا پنځلس ورځې مخکې خپله کورنۍ پاکستان ته لېږدولې او په خپله هم په هماغه ورځ په ولایت مقام کې له غونډې نیم ساعت مخکې تښتېدلی دی.

دستګیري وویل: ((بصیر احمد نومي کس چې د والي د ساتونکي په توګه یې دنده تر سره کوله، شاوخوا یوه نیمه میاشت مخکې برید کوونکی کس چې نوم یې ګلبدین ښوول شوی، په خپل اعتبار چې ګواکې د خور زوی یې دی راوستلی او د والي د ساتونکي په توګه یې په دنده ګومارلی و.))

د ده په خبره، په دغه موده کې برید کوونکي کس دومره باور خپل کړی و چې ان د والي د دفتر د وروستۍ دروازې د پیره دار په توګه یې دنده تر سره کوله.

نوموړي زیاته کړه، بصیر احمد نومی کس د پنجشنبې په ورځ په ولایت مقام کې د غونډې له پيل کېدو نیم ساعت مخکې په دې بهانه اجازه اخیستې او تللی چې ګواکې په کور کې سخته ناروغي لري.

لالى وايي، تر لاسه شوي معلومات ښيي چې نوموړي هماغه مهال د طالبانو ساحې ته ځان رسولی او وروسته پاکستان ته تښتېدلی دی.

د ده په وینا، د کندهار د خونړي برید طراحان همدا دوه تنه دي چې یو تښتېدلی او بل له برید وروسته د امنیتي ځواکونو له خوا ووژل شو.

د هغه په وينا، د غونډې له پای ته رسېدو وروسته والي، امنیه قوماندان، د ملي امنیت رییس او نور چارواکي د ولایت مقام په شاتنۍ برخه کې چورلکې ته انتظار وو او د ناټو عمومي قوماندان جنرال سکاټ میلر یې رخصتاوه چې دغه کس د انارو کارتنونه راوړي او هم مهاله یې لومړی پر امنیه قوماندان جنرال عبدالرازق  او بیا نورو ډزې کړې دي.

د انارو کارتنونه د ناټو قوماندان ته د سوغات په توګه ورکول کېدل.

د معلوماتو له مخې، امنیه قوماندان یوه مرمۍ پر زړه، بله پر خېټه او دوه مرمۍ په پښه کې خوړلې وې چې میرویس روغتون ته په رسېدو یې ساه ورکړه.

دستګیري وايي، د کندهار د ملي راډیو تلوېزیون خبریال سلیم انګار له برید سره سم په خالي لاس پر برید کوونکي حمله کړې چې دی هم په ډزو لګېږي او ځای پر ځای ژوند له لاسه ورکوي.

ده وویل، په دې توګه سلیم انګار د والي په ګډون د ډېرو کسانو ژوند ژغورلی دی، چې ورسره دلته موجودو سرتېرو پر برید کوونکي ډزې وکړې او هغه یې ځای پر ځای وواژه.

دی وايي، په دې برید کې ټول دریو تنو (د کندهار امنیه قوماندان جنرال عبدالرازق، د ملي امنیت رییس جنرال عبدالمومن حسین خېل، کامره مېن سلیم انګار) ژوند له لاسه ورکړ او والي زلمی ویسا، ویاند يې عزیز احمد عزیزي، د ۴۰۴ میوند زون قوماندان جنرال نبي الهام او د ۲۰۵ اتل قول اردو قوماندان جنرال امام نظر بهبود ټپيان شول.

نوموړي یادونه وکړه چې په دې برید کې افغان سرتېرو ته مرګ ژوبله نه ده اوښتې خو درې بهرني سرتېري ټپيان شوي دي.

د والي مرستيال وايي : ((داسې ښکاري چې هغوی د دغسې یوه فرصت په انتظار وو چې ټول چارواکي یو ځای وي او برید وکړي، ځکه امنیه قوماندان به ډېر مهال یوازې ولایت ته راته او له والي سره به یې تر ډېر وخت پر اړوندو مسایلو مجلس کاوه.))

ده وویل، له دغه برید سره په تړاو د کندهار د والي د ګارډ د مسوول مولاداد په ګډون درې تنه ساتونکي نیول شوي او د ډېرو پلټنو لپاره کابل ته لېږدول شوي دي.

لالي چې نن د کندهار د والي زلمي ویسا پوښتنې ته هم ورغلی و، وویل د هغه روغتیايي وضعیت ښه دی، یو عملیات یې پاتې دی او ښايي تر راتلونکو لسو ورځو له روغتون څخه رخصت شي.

له دغې پېښې وروسته د کندهار د امنیتي وضعیت په اړه دستګیري وویل چې د امنیتي چارو د سمبالښت لپاره د ملي امنیت عمومي رییس معصوم ستانکزی په کندهار کې دی او دغه راز د امنیت امر مل پاسوال رحمت الله اطرافي د قوماندانۍ سرپرستي په غاړه لري.

دی وايي، د کندهار مخورو او مشرانو له معصوم ستانکزي وغوښتل چې د جنرال عبدالرازق ورور تادین خان د هغه ځایناستی وټاکي، ښايي مرکزي چارواکي په دې اړه په مشورو بوخت وي خو لا تر اوسه په دې اړه رسمي اعلان نه دی شوی.

دستګیري خبر ورکړ چې ټاکل شوې ده ولسمشر سبا کندهار ته سفر وکړي څو د امنیه قوماندان او نورو په فاتحه کې ګډون وکړي او د پېښې د ټپيانو پوښتنه وکړي. - Read More, Pajhwok

"د کندهار پېښې اصلي طراحان دوه تنه وو چې يو يې له کورنۍ سره پاکستان ته تښتېدلی "

Pajhwok Afghan News

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Afghanistan shooting will not change U.S. resolve in South Asia strategy: Pentagon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A shooting in Afghanistan which killed one of the country’s most powerful security officials will not change U.S. resolve in its South Asia strategy, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

General Abdul Razeq, one of Afghanistan’s most powerful security commanders, was killed on Thursday when a bodyguard opened fire following a meeting at the governor’s office in the southern province of Kandahar, officials said.

“This attack will not change U.S. resolve in our South Asia strategy, if anything it makes us more resolute,” Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner told Reuters.

General Scott Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan who had been at the meeting with General Abdul Razeq only moments earlier, was not injured in the attack. - More

Afghanistan shooting will not change U.S. resolve in South Asia ...

Top Afghan Leaders Killed in Attack That Misses U.S. Commander - NYTimes

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — One of the most devastating Taliban assassination strikes of the long Afghan war killed top leaders of Kandahar Province on Thursday, in an attack that missed the top American commander in the country, Gen. Austin S. Miller, just two days before national elections that had already been undermined by violence.

Inside the provincial governor’s compound in Kandahar City, at least one attacker fatally shot the region’s powerful police chief, Gen. Abdul Raziq and the provincial intelligence chief. The gunfire wounded the provincial governor, another police commander and three Americans, Afghan officials said.

General Raziq, who had survived dozens of attempts on his life, was widely considered to be an indispensable security chief with influence across critical areas of southern Afghanistan, in the Taliban heartland. He was valued by American commanders as a fierce ally against the insurgents, but human rights advocates criticized him for brutal tactics that at times swept up innocent civilians as well as militants.

“At 3:30 pm, after a meeting about the security of elections, when the high-ranking participants were heading to helicopters, an enemy infiltrator opened fire on them,” the deputy minister of interior, Gen. Akhtar Mohammad Ibrahimi, said at a news conference. “The police chief, General Raziq, and the provincial intelligence chief, General Abdul Momin, were killed.”

“At 3:30 pm, after a meeting about the security of elections, when the high-ranking participants were heading to helicopters, an enemy infiltrator opened fire on them,” the deputy minister of interior, Gen. Akhtar Mohammad Ibrahimi, said at a news conference. “The police chief, General Raziq, and the provincial intelligence chief, General Abdul Momin, were killed.” - Read More

U.S. commander in Afghanistan survives deadly attack at governor’s compound that kills top Afghan police general - washingtonpost

 A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform opened fire Thursday on participants in a meeting with the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, killing at least two top southern provincial officials and wounding at least three Americans, officials said. But Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the target of the attack claimed by the Taliban, escaped unharmed, they said.

Among those reported killed in the attack inside the governor’s compound in southern Kandahar province were the region’s top police general, Abdul Raziq, who was seen as the most powerful man in southern Afghanistan.

U.S. military officials confirmed that a U.S. soldier, a contractor and another civilian were wounded in the attack, which occurred shortly after a high-level meeting attended by Miller.

In a news conference later Wednesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed that Abdul Raziq and the Kandahar provincial intelligence chief “were martyred” in the attack. He said he has sent security authorities from Kabul to assess the situation.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said the provincial governor, Zalmai Wessa, was wounded in the shooting and is being treated in a hospital. The ministry said Miller was not hurt and has returned to Kabul. - Read More

3 top Afghan officials killed by guards, US general survives - Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The three top officials in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province were killed when their own guards opened fire on them at a security conference Thursday, the deputy provincial governor said, and a Taliban spokesman said the target was Washington’s top general in Afghanistan, Gen. Scott Miller, who escaped without injury, according to NATO.

Agha Lala Dastageri, Kandahar’s deputy provincial governor, said powerful provincial police chief Abdul Raziq was among the dead, along with Kandahar Gov. Zalmay Wesa, who died of his wounds at a nearby hospital.

Dastageri said provincial intelligence chief Abdul Mohmin also died inside the governor’s sprawling residence where the attack occurred.

Three Americans — a service member and two civilian workers — were wounded in the shooting, said U.S. Col. Knut Peters, a spokesman for NATO troops in Afghanistan. Their conditions were not immediately known.

“Gen. Miller is unhurt,” said Peters. Miller is the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

It was members of Wesa’s elite guard unit who turned their guns on their colleagues during a high-level security meeting ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary elections. 

An Interior Ministry official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media said Raziq rarely visited the governor’s residence and was meticulous about his own security.

Razik was a particularly powerful figure in southern Kandahar and a close U.S. ally despite widespread allegations of corruption. He ruled in Kandahar, the former Taliban heartland, with an iron fist and had survived several attempts to kill him, including one last year that resulted in the death of five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates. 

Security has been steadily deteriorating in Afghanistan with increasingly brazen attacks being carried out by insurgents and Afghanistan’s security forces have been on high alert ahead of Saturday’s elections.- Read More

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

U.S. Officials Meet With Taliban Again as Trump Pushes Afghan Peace Process - nytimes

KABUL, Afghanistan — Seeking to inject new energy into the long-stalled Afghan peace process, the top American diplomat charged with helping find a way to end the war has met with Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar, according to officials and a Taliban statement on Saturday.

The meeting on Friday between the American diplomat, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Taliban was the second that senior American officials have had with Taliban representatives in Qatar since the White House ordered direct talks this summer in the hopes of jump-starting the peace process. On Saturday, Mr. Khalilzad flew to Kabul to meet with the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani.

The Taliban have long demanded that they meet with Americans directly instead of the Afghan government, which has made Afghan leaders wary of being sidelined. Western diplomats have described the Americans’ direct contact with the Taliban as “talks before talks” that could then grow into negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

“The United States shares the aspirations of all Afghans for a peaceful Afghanistan where all Afghans see themselves included,” Mr. Khalilzad said in a statement, which did not acknowledge the meeting. He did not respond to requests for further comment.

Despite a sense of urgency by the United States, prompted by President Trump’s frustration with the lack of progress in the war, several Afghan officials expressed caution, saying that the conflict was too complicated to yield quick breakthroughs. On Saturday, Mr. Ghani’s office said that it had discussed Mr. Khalilzad’s trips to various countries, but it did not mention a meeting with the Taliban. - Read More

US Officials Meet With Taliban Again as Trump Pushes Afghan Peace ...

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Trump on prospect of Mattis' departure: "At some point, everybody leaves"

President Trump suggested that Defense Secretary James Mattis could be one of the next administration officials to depart his Cabinet. In an interview airing on "60 Minutes" Sunday, the president said there are "some people" in his administration that he's "not thrilled with."

Asked by correspondent Lesley Stahl if Mattis is going to be leaving, Mr. Trump replied: "Well, I don't know. He hasn't told me that."

"I have a very good relationship with him. I had lunch with him two days ago. I have a very good relationship with him. It could be that he is. I think he's sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth," Mr. Trump said of the retired Marine Corps general. "But General Mattis is a good guy. We get along very well. He may leave. I mean, at some point, everybody leaves. Everybody. People leave. That's Washington."

Mr. Trump dismissed reports of chaos in the White House as "fake news," but said, "I'm changing things around. And I'm entitled to. I have people now on standby that will be phenomenal. They'll come into the administration, they'll be phenomenal." - More, CBS

Behind the scenes, Russia regains a complicated status: Afghanistan power broker

Thirty years after the Soviet Union’s humiliating defeat in Afghanistan, Moscow wants back in.

Russia has been cultivating ties with the Taliban to increase its influence in Afghanistan three decades after Moscow’s humiliating defeat there helped hasten the Soviet Union’s collapse.

Russian engagement with the militants drew attention, and some flak, when the Kremlin invited Taliban representatives to Moscow for a meeting in September. That invitation was rescinded — at least temporarily — after the Afghan government objected, saying it must take the lead in any talks.

But the diplomatic kerfuffle laid bare the Kremlin’s effort to reassert itself in Afghanistan, an initiative that has included discreet contacts with Taliban leaders and a military buildup along the country’s northern edge.

Moscow has also sought to reclaim its role as regional power broker, convening secret discussions with the United States, Iran, Pakistan, India and China and seeking to ensure any finale to the conflict suits Russian interests.

It is part of a strategy, analysts said, to protect Russia’s southern flank from the Islamic State’s emergence in Central Asia and hedge against the possibility of an abrupt U.S. exit from Afghanistan after 17 years of war. - More

Behind the scenes, Russia regains a complicated status: Afghanistan power broker

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Afghanistan: Taliban confirms talks with US peace envoy in Qatar

The Trump administration engages with the Taliban as it wants to wind down the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan.
A Taliban delegation has met with US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar to discuss ending the Afghan conflict, the armed group said on Saturday, in the first official confirmation of talks between the two sides

The meeting with Khalilzad and other US officials took place on Friday and talks will continue, the Taliban said in a statement emailed to journalists.

The meeting occured as President Donald Trump's administration pushed to find a way to end the 17-year-old Afghan war, the Wall Street Journal previously reported.

The Journal, citing a person familiar with the gathering, said Khalilzad met with Taliban officials in Doha, the second time in four months that US officials have held face-to-face talks with Taliban representatives.

Khalilzad's is currently on his first trip as special representative. The 11-day trip was to take him to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. - Read More

Afghanistan News - Today's latest from Al Jazeera

TRANSCRIPT: ABC News Chief National Affairs correspondent Tom Llamas interviews first lady Melania Trump

First lady Melania Trump was interviewed by ABC News Chief National Affairs correspondent Tom Llamas on Oct. 5, 2018, at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya. The following is a transcript of the ABC News special, "Being Melania -- The First Lady," which aired on Oct. 12, 2018.