Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Taliban Will Be Beaten, Rice Tells Afghan Leader

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 28 — With Afghanistan starting to assume more of Iraq's violent characteristics in recent months, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited here Wednesday in a show of support for the country's besieged president, Hamid Karzai.

Rice visits Afghanistan to bolster Karzai

Rice Lauds Karzai In Brief Afghan Visit

Rice said the United States had once made the mistake of ignoring Afghanistan -- after the withdrawal of Soviet forces in 1989 and the subsequent fall of their client government, which gave rise to the Taliban. She said the United States would not repeat that mistake. "We are not going to tire, we are not going to leave," she said.

Is Karzai a Good Leader?

Ordinary Afghans are angry he has failed to deliver them from abrasive poverty or to fire corrupt officials. Western diplomats say he has reneged on promises of reform in favour of bullying warlords.

US 'will not tire' in fight against Taliban

"That Afghanistan has enemies is not a surprise to anyone," Ms Rice said after meetings behind heavy fortifications with President Karzai and military commanders.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Once Afghanistan's great hope, Karzai sees critics everywhere

Nearly five years ago, Karzai was Afghanistan's hope, the darling of the West, the embodiment of democracy and Islam. He was charming, dashing, inspiring. When the question of leadership in Iraq came up, the world bemoaned the fact that Iraq had no Karzai.


Karzai has charged that the US and the West have failed to provide enough resources and soldiers much earlier on when they were needed. ‘’The unhappiness between us and the international community,’’ is because, ‘’we did not get the assistance and cooperation that is necessary for a strategy for counterterrorism,’’ Karzai said at a June 22 press conference.

Karzai Losing Foreign Support: Report

``There is an awful feeling that everything is lurching downward,'' a Western diplomat told the newspaper. ``Nearly five years on there is no rule of law, no accountability.''

Buffett Always Planned to Give Away His Billions

I'm not an enthusiast for dynastic wealth, particularly when 6 billion others have much poorer hands than we do in life," Mr. Buffett said at the New York Public Library, where he was appearing with Bill and Melinda Gates, the only Americans richer than he is.

Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror

Bush Condemns Report on Bank Records

Secret U.S. Program Tracks Global Bank Transfers

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government, without the knowledge of many banks and their customers, has engaged for years in a secret effort to track terrorist financing by accessing a vast database of confidential information on transfers of money between banks worldwide.

U.S. Acknowledges Sifting Global Bank Records

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Buffett to Give Bulk of His Fortune to Gates Charity

Warren E. Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and one of the world's wealthiest men, plans to donate the bulk of his $44 billion fortune to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and four other philanthropies starting in July.

Afghan Leader Losing Support

KABUL, Afghanistan, June 25 -- Many Afghans and some foreign supporters say they are losing faith in President Hamid Karzai's government, which is besieged by an escalating insurgency and endemic corruption and is unable to protect or administer large areas of the country.

Karzai: Taliban pose no long-term threat

KABUL, Afghanistan - The Taliban do not pose a long-term threat to Afghanistan's stability, President Hamid Karzai said Sunday.

Karzai challenges Omar to face justice

Bin Laden, deputy al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri and Omar are "definitely" not in Afghanistan," Karzai said.

Documents link Karzai brother to drugs -- US television

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Apparent US military documents obtained by a US television network accuse the brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai of being in the pay of narcotics traffickers, the network said.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Alarm over Afghan 'guidelines' for journalists

The list, marked "not for publication," says there should be no interviews with "terrorist commanders" and that criticism of the NATO and US-led forces based in Afghanistan is forbidden.

Max Boot: NATO's Afghanistan challenge

Alliance faces its greatest threat in the same place the Red Army foundered.

President Bush Defends U.S. Policy on Iran, Guantanamo

And Europeans' confidence in President Bush to do the right thing in world affairs stood at rock-bottom levels: from 7 percent in Spain to a high of 30 percent in Britain.

World Ignores Afghan Development: Minister

Mohammad Yusouf Pashtun said that while violence has been increasing in parts of the war-torn country, international donors need to recognize that repairing Kabul and other Afghan cities will also make them safer.

Bush, Facing Skeptics in Europe, Defends His Iraq Policy

Attempt to Steer the News Backfires in Afghanistan

Some were vague: the press should not publish or broadcast material that "weakens public morale or damages the national interest." Others were nit-pickingly specific: the press should use "freedom fighter" instead of "warlord" to describe former anti-Soviet militia leaders.

Iran and N. Korea Cautioned At Summit

Bush, E.U. Leaders Demonstrate Unity

FRONTLINE: The War In Afghanistan -- PBS

The [CIA's] Afghanistan plan is to immediately collaborate with the only armed group in the country, the Northern Alliance, which is itself a coalition of militias that has been at war with the Taliban steadily since about 1996. The plan is that the CIA in the lead, but the Pentagon as well, will go into northern Afghanistan, connect with the leaders of the Northern Alliance, offer them money, equipment, political support, and with them drive against the Taliban in Kabul and in some other cities that they control in the north.


Drawing on more than 40 interviews and thousands of documents, the film provides a step-by-step examination of what happened inside the councils of war.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

AFGHANISTAN: Interview with regional analyst Barnet Rubin

ANKARA, 20 Jun 2006 (IRIN) - Almost five years since the US-led coalition ousted the Taliban regime from Afghanistan, observers say security is at an all-time low outside the capital and confidence in the international effort to rebuild the country is questionable.

Afghanistan has the assets to regain momentum-- By Ashraf Ghani

There is an emerging consensus, domestic and international, that Afghanistan is likely to slide into chaos. This misses the central point: there are assets in place that, if organised coherently, could re-establish momentum towards creating a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan. If failure is not an option for the international community, attention must be focused on renewing Afghans’ trust in a bright future to make them active partners in the fight against violence and disorder.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Under the Afghan sun, a dark new reality is taking shape

Karzai is clearly distancing himself from the foreigners crowding his outer office. His coalition is stuffed with so many warlords, or “commanders”, that a 2005 UN report had to be suppressed for fear of revealing their record of torture, murder and worse. Last month he further infuriated the foreign community by appointing 13 provincial police chiefs who were openly known as criminals, drug runners and thugs. All were tribal nominees.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

UK sends 130 more troops to Afghanistan

Senate Approves $94.5 Billion Emergency Bill

US Envoy Says Aid to Pakistan Will Not Be Cut

U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker said there would be no cut to the full amount promised in 2003 -- $3 billion over five years up to 2009.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bush Embraces an Inescapable Risk in Iraq

NATO Secretary-General Pledges Support to Afghan Mission

BRUSSELS, Belgium, June 8, 2006 – NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer today pledged the alliance's support to security and stability in Afghanistan.

Britain in Afghanistan for the Long Haul: Browne

LONDON (Reuters) - Defense minister Des Browne said on Tuesday it was impossible to predict how long British troops would have to stay in Afghanistan to help bring security to the country.

Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq

"Good to see you," Maliki said to the president, who was escorted by a retinue of aides, including U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalizad and the senior U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Education for the Elite

Jamaluddin, a student at Kabul University, wanted to go to the American University but could not afford the fees. He is bitter that what he calls “the offspring of drug smugglers and warlords” can take advantage of the high-quality facilities that he is denied. “Their fathers burned our schools during the jihad and war, and made us illiterate,” he said. “But now their sons and daughters study in modern universities.”

After last week's riot, and with the Taliban resurgent, Karzai is under mounting pressure to take charge.

Now, however, many Afghans, including many ethnic Pashtuns, decry his cautious governing style. They blame his timidity for allowing corruption to flourish once again in Kabul, and for doing little to stop the nationwide drug trade.

Alzheimer's Vaccine Shows Promise

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An experimental vaccine is showing promise against Alzheimer's disease, reducing brain deposits that are blamed for the disorder.

USA 0-3 Czech Republic

Czech Republic got off to a flying start with a fabulous victory over USA.

UN report accuses Afghan MPs of torture and massacres

A controversial UN report that has been shelved for 18 months names and shames leading Afghan politicians and officials accused of orchestrating massacres, torture, mass rape and other war crimes. The 220-page report by the UN high commissioner for human rights, which the Guardian has obtained, details atrocities committed by communist, mujahideen, Soviet and Taliban fighters over 23 years of conflict.

Surge in Taliban attacks aimed to deter NATO: Afghan minister

KABUL (AFP) - The Taliban's stepped-up insurgency is aimed at dissuading European countries from expanding a NATO-led force into southern Afghanistan in the coming weeks, the defence minister said.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Professor Georg Morgenstierne:

Morgenstierne’s pioneer contribution in Afghanistan was remarkable, and still raises international interest. The multimedia database consists largely of original sources published here for the first time.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Afghanistan during the 20ths

In 1964 he [King Zahir Shah] promulgated a new constitution which excluded members of the royal family from certain government positions provided for a bicameral parliament, free elections, a free press, and the formation of political parties. It ushered in a period of unprecedentted political tolerance which was marred only by the intransigence of parliamentary representatives who could not establish a working coalition.

Friday, June 09, 2006

What Do Muslim Women Want? Western Rights, but Not Western Culture

Survey Finds Women in Muslim Societies Want to Drive, Vote and Run for Office

Kabul should have restored to it the dignity lost over the past 25 years

We declare war. We bomb. We conquer. We then pretend to rebuild. But there is no rebuilding, just collateral damage. In Belgrade, Baghdad and Kabul, the last three cities assaulted by Britain in war, millions may be spent on aid, but buildings are left as piles of rubble.

Death on the beach: seven Palestinians killed as Israeli shells hit family picnic

"No doubt what's going on in Gaza is a bloody massacre against our people, our civilians, without discrimination," he said. "I call upon the international community, the UN security council, the quartet [the EU, the US, Russia and the UN], to put an end to this Israeli killing policy."


Albright: What has happened in the last couple of weeks in Afghanistan is very bad. It proves the point that many of us have been making -- that Iraq was a war of choice, not of necessity. We should have kept our eye on the ball in Afghanistan; that job was never finished. Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is a terrific person, but he is little more than mayor of Kabul in terms of his control over the country. By moving into Iraq we didn't really do enough in Afghanistan, and now we have problems in two areas.


"The Next Six Months Will Be Critical"

Through Our Friends' Eyes -- Defending and Advising the Hyperpower

Summary: In American Vertigo, Bernard-Henri Lévy updates Tocqueville and defends the United States against anti-Americanism, while in Überpower, Josef Joffe counsels Washington on how to maintain its primacy.

Interview: Paul Newman

An acting legend reflects on his career, racing and voicing the Hudson Hornet in Cars.

Germany Opens World Cup With a Victory

Reuters Politics Summary

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The House of Representatives on Friday took a symbolic jab at Saudi Arabia, accusing the kingdom of fueling religious extremism and violence, as it passed a $21.3 billion foreign aid bill.

Nato 'confident' in Afghan role

Nato defence ministers say they are confident that their decision to nearly double the number of troops in Afghanistan will curb rising violence.

World Cup fans bring Munich alive

There is a truly international buzz in Munich ahead of the opening game of the World Cup finals.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Peoples and Languages of Nuristân

History: Earlier investigators surmised that the ancestors of the Nuristânis were the first Indo-Europeans to enter the region of the Hindu Kush from Central Asia, and as later Indo-Âryas followed, the early Nuristânis were gradually pushed back into their present homes.1

European press review

With the World Cup kicking off, Friday's European papers consider the power of the beautiful game.

Hitler's bunker location marked

An information panel marking the site of the bunker where Adolf Hitler committed suicide at the end of World War II has been unveiled in Berlin.

Japan's Defense Agency May Get Upgrade

Some Rich Nations Slow With Pledged Aid

Last summer, leaders of some of the world's richest nations promised to increase aid significantly to combat global poverty by 2010, but a new analysis of their giving patterns has found that several got off to a slow start.

Karzai losing popularity in Afghanistan: Report

"There's real anger against the president for the lack of reconstruction, for a lack of good governance and for his inability to control corruption and drug trafficking."

Official: 250 Afghans Arrested After Riot

KABUL, Afghanistan Jun 7, 2006 (AP)— More than 250 Afghans were arrested after the anti-foreigner riot in Kabul last week, and 141 are still in custody, Afghanistan's intelligence chief said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Tries To Rally Greater International Support

Afghanistan's foreign minister has called for more international help to fight terrorism and eradicate unrest in his war-torn country. Rangin Dadfar Spanta made the remarks during a speech today in Tokyo hosted by the Japan Institute of International Affairs. RFE/RL's Ron Synovitz takes a closer look:

Many Afghans Lost to Hazards Of Childbirth

NATO Moves to Tighten Grip in Afghanistan

BRUSSELS, June 8 — NATO defense ministers meeting here on Thursday reaffirmed their plans to expand the alliance's control of southern Afghanistan in the face of increased resistance by Taliban fighters and drug traffickers.

Rumsfeld to discuss NATO, Afghanistan

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will discuss Afghanistan with other military leaders amid suggestions the U.S. did not send enough troops to control violence in the southern part of the country.

NATO renews vow to Afghanistan but calls for help to rebuild it

BRUSSELS (AFP) - Afghanistan but urged the Kabul government and international partners to work harder to restore the confidence of disenchanted Afghans.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Swedish minister expresses concern over security

MAZAR-I-SHARIF, June 6 (Pajhwok Afghan News): On her first ever visit to Afghanistan, Swedish Defence Minister has expressed concern over the security situation in the war-battered country.

Several European Nations Implicated by Watchdog for Collusion With U.S. Terror Detention Effort

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

US rules out crash trial in Kabul

The US ambassador in Kabul has said that the driver of a military truck that crashed and killed several people will not be prosecuted in Afghanistan.

French relent on migrant children

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy has softened his stance on the expulsion of illegal immigrants' children from French schools.

Charges Against Canadian Terror Suspects Read

Iran Considering Incentive Package

Tehran's Chief Negotiator: 'We Had Constructive Talks'

Dow Falls to Worst Close Since March

NEW YORK -- Stocks dropped for the second straight session Tuesday, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling to its worst close since March 9. Global markets also sold off as inflation fears worsened.

U.S., NATO, Pakistani, Afghan Envoys Talk

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) -- U.S. and NATO officials discussed anti-terrorism cooperation in talks with Pakistani and Afghan counterparts Tuesday, the Pakistani military said.

Canadian Authorities Detail Alleged Plot in Court

Road rage is the least of Afghanistan's problems

Afghanistan and its foreign backers, however, need to worry about much more than good driving. They need to act now to ensure good government - or risk losing the support of the Afghan people for another generation.

Call to speed Afghan police reform

In the wake of the worst street violence to hit Kabul since 2001, western officials yesterday praised a reorganisation of the Afghan police but called for faster reform of the force, which has emerged as one of the biggest security problems facing the country.

UN to stay in Afghanistan: Envoy

KABUL, June 5 (Pajhwok Afghan News): UN special envoy to Afghanistan Tom Koenigs on Monday announced the recent riots in Kabul would not affect their presence in Afghanistan.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Israel, Egypt Placed on U.S. Trafficking Watch List

June 5 (Bloomberg) -- Israel and Egypt, both U.S. allies, were demoted in a State Department ranking of countries judged on efforts to combat forced labor and other forms of exploitation.

Envoy: Afghan Riots Not Sign of Anti-Americanism

"I do not see any groundswell of anti-Americanism or of any desire that we leave," Ambassador Ronald Neumann says in an interview.

Road rage is the least of Afghanistan's problems

A useful if unconventional way of measuring US influence overseas would be to study how people react to crimes and traffic accidents involving US forces stationed abroad.

Wall St slumps as Bernanke warns on inflation

At the close, the S&P 500 index was down 1.8 per cent, or 22.93 points, at 1,265.29, and the Nasdaq Composite was down 2.2 per cent, or 49.79 points, at 2,169.62. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.8 per cent, or 199.15 points, at 11,048.72, its lowest level in 12 weeks.

Charges in Canadian Bomb Plot Isolate 6 Ringleaders

17 Held in Plot to Bomb Sites in Ontario

U.S. Envoy: Afghans Can't Charge Soldier

U.S. Ambassador Ronald Neumann said a May 28, 2003, agreement between both nations means the soldier cannot face legal action in Afghanistan.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Failed States Index by FOREIGN POLICY

Democracy may be spreading, but is the world more stable? In the second-annual Failed States Index, FOREIGN POLICY and the Fund for Peace track the countries on the edge of collapse.

Senate Bill Would Add 20 Million Legal Immigrants, Report Says

Nation-Building on the Cheap

Human Flu Transfers May Exceed Reports

NATO Plans Stronger Force in Afghanistan

The Roots of Rage

This is first of all a book about war -- in particular, the wars that have scarred the Middle East, from Afghanistan to Algeria, throughout the author's long career as a correspondent for the London Times and then the Independent.

Nato promises new Afghan tactics

The Nato commander in Afghanistan has pledged to use new tactics to win over the support of disenchanted Afghans.

Unrest in Afghan Capital a Bad Omen

Tolo TV. “Coalition Forces and ISAF go wherever they want, they display their power, break the law, and hit people. That is very bad for Afghans’ sense of honour. People may not show their reaction immediately; it may be six months, a year, or three years, but they will definitely react.”

Afghan Police Part of the Problem

Corruption is a growth industry for Afghanistan’s police. They stand accused of extorting money from drug smugglers, gun runners, brothel owners and gamblers, in return for looking the other way.

Friday, June 02, 2006

President Karzai Receives a Telephone Call from President Bush

During this telephone conversation, President Bush expressed his deep regret at the tragic traffic incident in Kabul which caused casualties and damages.

Jobs Report Signals Cooling Economy

The American economy added a surprisingly weak number of jobs in May, a sign that nervousness over a cooling economy may be spreading among the nation's employers.

Six Powers Reach Accord On Iran Plan

"We urge Iran to take the positive path and to consider seriously our substantive proposals, which would bring significant benefits."

Don't Undercut the Afghan Army

The Pentagon defends this downsizing with rhetoric about "sustainability." As one of the world's poorest countries, Afghanistan needs an army it can afford, commanders here argue, and a 70,000-man force is simply too expensive.

EDITORIAL: Trouble in Afghanistan is not just Talibanism

There are also reports that much of the money for reconstruction is not being properly utilised and ends up in Western coffers through salaries and commissions to Western staff and experts hired for advice. There are also allegations of corruption. Much of this information is not hidden. Recent conferences in Kabul have pointed to this rising menace of corruption and nepotism and Afghans have indicated that they are not happy with the situation. The logical conclusion is that some people are getting very rich while the majority is still below the poverty line.

Afghanistan hails US' new stance on Iran

KABUL, June 1 (Pajhwok Afghan News): Afghanistan has welcomed the US statement regarding its joining of the European states to hold talks with Iran to resolve the nuclear issue with that country through peaceful means.

Italy Republic Day celebrated

Speaking on this occasion, Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta congratulated the people of Italy on the 60th anniversary of the Republic Day of their country. Spanta said Kabul and Rome had 85-year long relationship. He said he was thankful to the people and government of Italy for the hospitality they had extended to the Father of the Nation Zahir Shah.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Where does Karzai go from here?

Lack of jobs and a growing despair about the future further fueled the riot. Five years after the fall of the Taliban many parts of Kabul still have no sanitation, intermittent electricity, and open sewers running beside streets clogged with Land cruisers packed with foreigners and the new narco-elite. Reconstruction has come to Afghanistan - including schools, roads, and plans for pipelines - but many residents say it's too little and too slow.
Lastly, resentment against the foreign military presence is growing. US and NATO convoys drive around aggressively, frequently pushing Afghans off the road in their haste to reach destinations safely.

Bush Says U.S. Must Continue to Develop Covert Agents

U.S. Says Troops Fired at Crowd In Afghan Capital

Shooting Was in Self-Defense, Spokesman for Military Says

Editorial -- Afghanistan, Unraveling

Unless Washington starts correcting its mistakes, parts of Afghanistan could start tumbling back toward the kind of anarchic chaos that once made such areas an attractive sanctuary for international terrorists like Osama bin Laden.

After Riots End, Kabul's Residents Begin to Point Fingers

KABUL, Afghanistan, May 30 — As they swept up broken glass and boarded up windows and doors on Tuesday, Kabul residents placed blame for Monday's rioting on young hoodlums and criminal gangs who seized on a fatal accident involving an American military convoy to spark a citywide conflagration.

Afghanistan urges Muslim nations to give more aid

"We are expecting a much larger role from the Gulf countries in the reconstruction of Afghanistan, especially given their involvement here in the 1980s." Arab countries funnelled money to Muslim fighters resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

World powers strike Iran deal

U.S. must move to stop Afghanistan's slide -- By Karl F. Inderfurth

WASHINGTON // Four years ago, the Bush administration took its eye off Afghanistan to prepare for the war in Iraq. Critical time, attention and resources were diverted from the fight against Taliban and al-Qaida forces. At Tora Bora, Osama bin Laden escaped and thousands of militants lived to fight another day.