Thursday, May 29, 2008

NATO Urges More Afghan Effort on Opium Trade

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO's commander in Afghanistan urged the government on Thursday to step up its fight against the opium trade, which is increasingly fuelling the insurgency.

Retired general picked as IG for Afghan rebuilding

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Arnold Fields is the White House's choice to lead a new office that will investigate U.S. reconstruction spending in Afghanistan.

Khan: Pakistan claims 'are false' -- BBC

The disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist, AQ Khan, has said that allegations he passed on nuclear secrets are false.

UN warns about higher food costs -- BBC

Higher food prices may be here to stay as demand from developing countries and production costs rise, says an influential report.

Afghanistan Unveils Ambitious Development Plan

Afghanistan Unveils Ambitious Development Plan
Part 1: Afghans Frustrated by Slow Pace of Development
Part 2: Westerners Play Pivotal Role in Afghan Rebuilding

LETTER FROM KABUL: For Afghan girls, jail can be refuge

KABUL, Afghanistan — For many prisoners here, jail is better than home. The building is new, some of the rooms have running water, and there are hot meals. Best of all, no one is threatening to kill them.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Video-link lifeline for Afghan prisoners -- BBC News, Kabul

High food prices add to violence in war zones: ICRC

GENEVA (Reuters) - The global food crisis threatens to spark even more violence in war zones where millions of people are already vulnerable, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Tuesday.

Report: Billions in defense spending unchecked --ANNE FLAHERTY

WASHINGTON -- Pentagon auditors say billions of dollars in military spending is going unchecked because they are having trouble keeping pace with the ever-expanding defense budget and combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Afghanistan, Chinese company sign multi-billion-dollar copper mine deal

Afghanistan seeks cash to build ‘new Kabul’ -- Jon Boone in Kabul

Under plans drawn up by President Hamid Karzai's chief economic adviser, a vast area just north of Afghanistan's chaotic capital will become a modern city for 3m people, complete with an electric tram system and a huge central park with a mountain and artificial lake.

A world-class international airport is also planned to encourage regional companies to have their headquarters in the capital, although Afghanistan's dire security situation and rampant government corruption have been big deterrents for foreign investors so far.

The call for a new city has raised eyebrows from international donors who say the war-shattered country should not be spending scarce resources on "Kabul-centric" projects. They believe the focus should be on developing national security, agriculture and the country's feeble economy.

Despite the cool international reaction to the Dehsabz project, large amounts of preliminary work have already been done - a detailed master plan is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

The development will fill a 500 square kilometre triangle of government-owned land flanked on all sides by mountains. The existing city covers an area of 350 sq km.

Rivers will be damned to provide water and electricity while solar and wind plants will help it fulfil its "eco-neutral" aspirations.

Since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001, Kabul has experienced explosive growth - in one estimate the city's population has grown from 400,000 to 3.5m in the past six years.

Western failure to grasp the reality of Afghanistan is exacting a terrible cost on the civilian population -- Conor Foley

The frustrating thing about Afghanistan is how easy it is to be proved right about what is going wrong.

Afghan official says American support won't falter after U.S. election

Both parties are concerned about underinvestment in the war effort there, says Ambassador Jawad.

Afghanistan's president wants $50bn but must show what he'd do with it

But Karzai still has to explain what he wants to do with the money. Here, he falls short, although the document that his officials will present to the donors' conference in Paris on June 12 is an incoherent 500 pages long: an exercise both myopic and grandiose that gives nation-building an even worse name than it has already. At least $14 billion is to be spent on improving security. Unfortunately, this is all too plausible.

Unlawful killings continue at heavy rate in Afghanistan, UN rights expert says

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Is Nato repeating the USSR's Afghan mistakes -- BBC

After the Soviet withdrawal the mujahideen turned on each other and tore Afghanistan apart. Kabul crumbled in the civil war as the various factions rocketed at each other across the city, killing thousands of civilians.

Is NATO Repeating The USSR's Afghan Mistakes

EXCERPT: "Twenty years ago today the tanks and armoured cars started to rumble north out of Kabul as the Soviet Union began its withdrawal from Afghanistan after eight-and-a-half years of war. The mujahideen, backed by money and weapons from an alliance of the United States, Britain, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, had beaten a world superpower. Today the country is scattered with reminders of the Soviet occupation - you don't have to go far even in Kabul to stumble across the rusting wrecks they left behind. The aptly named Zamir Kabulov first arrived in Afghanistan as a young Soviet diplomat in 1977 and has lived through the last turbulent 30 years of this country's misfortunes."
Is NATO Repeating The USSR's Afghan Mistakes', BBC News, 15 May 2008

A Conversation with Retired British Army General, Michael Rose

'A Conversation with Retired British Army General, Michael Rose', Charlie Rose, 14 May 2008
A Conversation with Retired British Army General, Michael Rose
Is NATO Repeating The USSR's Afghan Mistakes

A report from the new Middle East—and a glimpse of its possible future

Across the Middle East, and into south-central Asia, the intrinsically artificial qualities of several states have been brought into focus by the omnivorous American response to the attacks of 9/11; it is not just Iraq and Afghanistan that appear to be incoherent amalgamations of disparate tribes and territories. The precariousness of such states as Lebanon and Pakistan, of course, predates the invasion of Iraq. But the wars against al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and especially Saddam Hussein have made the durability of the modern Middle East state system an open question in ways that it wasn’t a mere seven years ago.

Today, that question seems trivial when compared with this one: How many states will there one day be between the Mediterranean and the Euphrates River? Three? Four? Five? Six? And why stop at the western bank of the Euphrates? Why not go all the way to the Indus River? Between the Mediterranean and the Indus today lie Israel and the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Long-term instability could lead to the breakup of many of these states.

Musharraf also made passing reference to the Afghan-Pakistan border, the so-called Durand Line. It was named after the English official who in 1893 forced the Afghans to accept it as their border with British India, even though it sliced through the territory of a large ethnic group, the truculent Pashtuns, who dominate Afghan politics and warmaking and who have always disliked and, accordingly, disrespected the line. Musharraf warned about the hazards of even thinking about the line. “Why would there be such a desire to change existing situations?” he said. “There would be instability to come out of this situation, should this question be put on the table. It is best to leave borders alone. If you start asking about this and that border or this and that arrangement …” He didn’t finish the sentence. Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 next>

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Afghanistan seeks $50 billion in aid -- Associated Press Writer

"We are building a state, and that is a costly exercise," Nadiri said. "The country had lost its human, physical and social capital ... the collapse of Afghanistan was total."

Since 2001, the international community has pledged $25 billion in help but has delivered only $15 billion, according to a report by the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, an alliance of 94 international aid agencies.

Some 40 percent of it — or $6 billion — goes back to donor countries in corporate profits and consultant salaries, the report found.

Afghanistan's National Development Strategy:
Afghanistan seeks $50 billion in aid - Las Vegas Sun
Nation & World Afghanistan seeks $50 billion in aid Seattle ...

Hunger adds to Afghanistan's nightmare -- Carlotta Gall

Afghanistan -- It is one of the poorest countries in the world and it is grappling with a prolonged conflict - and all the attendant problems of lawlessness, displacement, poorly developed markets and destroyed infrastructure, which leave the population especially vulnerable to price shocks, he said.

"For millions of Afghans, the poorer segments of society, who spend up to 70 percent of their meager income on food, these food price rises put the basic necessities simply out of their reach," Banbury said at a news conference on his return to Kabul.

About six million people in Afghanistan are already receiving food aid, and with the sharp price rises and signs that the harvest this year may not be good, the World Food Program is gearing up to try to help even more.

MPs raise minimum wage for civil servants

Teachers to benefit immediately while other rises may take four years --- Teachers, who have gone on strike in many parts of the country in protest at low wages, have been given a bigger pay rise, with a minimum starting salary of Afg6,200, which will rise to Afg8,000 in four years.
The highest monthly salary for a teacher has risen to Afg22,000.

Afghans to ask for $50 bln aid at Paris conference

"We did not know the level and depth of destruction of this country," Ishaq Nadiri, Karzai's senior economic advisor, told reporters late on Tuesday.

"The Afghan disaster was complete," he said. "The level of destruction was unlike anything I have seen in the developing world with the loss of human capital, physical capital and social capital.

"The collapse of Afghanistan was total, so now we have to build on all fronts simultaneously," he said.
Afghans to ask for $50 bln aid at Paris conference International ...
Afghan cure 'will take up to 10 years'

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bush disappointed with intel before Iraq war -- Associated Press

"`Misled' is a strong word," he said. "Not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was." --- "Do I think somebody lied to me? No, I don't. I think it was just, you know, they analyzed the situation and came up with the wrong conclusion," he added.

Determined Clinton wins W.Va., says race not over

"The White House is won in the swing states. And I am winning the swing states," Clinton told cheering supporters at a victory rally.

Quake Toll Rises; China Struggles to Reach Victims

YONG’AN, China — The battle for survival here is as stark as anywhere in the earthquake zone.

Defense Secretary Urges Military to Mold Itself to Fight Iraq-Style Wars

COLORADO SPRINGS, May 13 -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates implored the U.S. military Tuesday to prepare more for fighting future wars against insurgents and militias such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than spending so much time and money preparing for conventional conflicts.
Gates: Reject tendency to focus on 'Next-War-itis'

Pat Tillman's mother recalls journey for facts in new book

Transcript : Clinton Remarks on Win in W. Va.

Now, I believe our party is strong enough for this challenge. I am strong enough for it. You know I never give up. I'll keep coming back, and I'll stand with you as long as you stand with me.
Transcript of Clinton's Victory Speech

McCain Backer Regrets Comments on Catholics

The Rev. John C. Hagee, whose anti-Catholic remarks created a controversy when Senator John McCain received his endorsement for the Republican presidential nomination with fanfare, has issued a letter expressing regret for “any comments that Catholics have found hurtful.”
Washington Wire - : McCain Backer John Hagee Apologizes to ...

Thousands displaced by fighting in Afghan south: U.N

KABUL (Reuters) - Thousands of people have fled their homes as a result of fighting between U.S.-led forces and Taliban insurgents in southern Afghanistan this month, a U.N. official said on Tuesday.
Thousands displaced by fighting in Afghan south: U.N - Yahoo! News

Rescue Workers Dig to Reach Tens of Thousands Buried in China Earthquake

Myanmar Allows First U.S. Aid Shipment Following Devastating Cyclone
European Nations Urge Continued Flow of Humanitarian Aid to Myanmar

Bush Begins Five-Day Mideast Tour

Morning Edition, May 13, 2008 · President Bush heads to Israel on Tuesday to join in celebrations marking its 60th anniversary.

International task force on global food crisis opens new website – UN


Refugees can resume returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan – UN

13 May 2008 – The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) suspended assistance on Sunday because of security considerations in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar.
Meeting basic food needs ‘problematic’ for millions of Afghans, says UN official

Queen's tribute to Turkey founder -- BBC

The Queen has called the founder of modern-day Turkey "one of the greatest figures of modern history" during a visit to his mausoleum in Ankara.

Senior Afghan officials suspended -- BBC

Eight top Afghan government officials have been suspended over last month's attack by the Taleban on a military parade attended by President Karzai.

Search for China quake survivors -- BBC

Chaotic yet organised effort
Eyewitnesses' fear and shock

Monday, May 12, 2008

Congress eyes dramatic expansion of GI bill -- ASSOCIATED PRESS

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the proposal would cost $51.8 billion in the next 10 years.

Ex-prince wants Taliban brought into Afghan government

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan should set-up a transitional government that includes members of the Taliban once President Hamid Karzai's term ends late next year if it is to escape unending crisis, a grandson of the late former king said on Wednesday.

"You do not make peace with your friends. You make peace with those who are against you. This is an intra-Afghan plan and we hope to bring on board all of dissatisfied people," he said.

The transitional government would summon a Loya Jirga, Afghanistan's traditional grand council of tribal leaders and elders, to determine how to change the system of government from a strong presidential system to one that revolved round parliament, Zaher said.

He denies harbouring political ambitions, but did not rule out the possibility of taking some role if he had people's backing.
Ex-prince wants Taliban brought into Afghan government - Yahoo! News
ABC News: Ex-prince wants Taliban brought into Afghan govt

Senior Afghan generals suspended for Karzai attack

Ex-prince wants Taliban brought into Afghan government

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan should set-up a transitional government that includes members of the Taliban once President Hamid Karzai's term ends late next year if it is to escape unending crisis, a grandson of the late former king said on Wednesday.

Death toll in China earthquake up to nearly 9,000

Thousands Feared Dead as Earthquake Hits China

Thousands dead in Chinese quake -- BBC

A powerful earthquake has killed at least 8,500 people in China's south-western Sichuan province, up to 5,000 of them in just one county.
In pictures: China earthquake

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Two Fronts, Same Worries -- David Ignatius

KABUL -- For many Americans who are weary of Iraq, Afghanistan is the "good war" in which the United States and its European allies are destroying what's left of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. That view certainly holds with the Democratic presidential candidates, who talk of adding troops in Afghanistan next year even as they pull troops out of Iraq.
Click here: David Ignatius - Building Bridges in the Back of Beyond -

Foreign Affairs - The Case Against the West - Kishore Mahbubani

There is a fundamental flaw in the West's strategic thinking. In all its analyses of global challenges, the West assumes that it is the source of the solutions to the world's key problems. In fact, however, the West is also a major source of these problems. Unless key Western policymakers learn to understand and deal with this reality, the world is headed for an even more troubled phase.
The Case Against the West

Foreign Affairs - The Future of American Power - Fareed Zakaria

Summary: Despite some eerie parallels between the position of the United States today and that of the British Empire a century ago, there are key differences. Britain's decline was driven by bad economics. The United States, in contrast, has the strength and dynamism to continue shaping the world -- but only if it can overcome its political dysfunction and reorient U.S. policy for a world defined by the rise of other powers.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next page »

Top Pashtun leader in Washington for talks

Afghan students join teachers' wages protest

KABUL (AFP) - Police used gunfire to disperse about 400 students demonstrating Saturday in the Afghan capital in support of their teachers who are on strike demanding a pay rise, witnesses said.

"My salary is 3,000 afghani (60 dollars) while my house rent is 4,000 afghani. This is not justice," said Agha, one of 300 teachers from Habibia High School on strike.

"We will not teach unless our salaries are not raised," he added.

Teachers earn among the lowest civil service salaries in Afghanistan, where food prices have shot up in the past weeks as part of a global hike in prices.
Afghan students join teachers' wages protest - Yahoo! Canada News
AFP: Rising prices heap pressure on Afghanistan's destitute

Bereaved Son Breaks Silence Before Funeral Of His Murdered Parents

They were inseparable in life, and sadly, they remained so in death. After 27 years of marriage, Nazifa and Rahimullah Shahghasy were buried together during a sombre ceremony at Brampton Memorial Gardens on Monday. --- Family and friends said a final farewell to the loving couple, who were brazenly murdered during a knife attack Wednesday at Red Maple Plaza.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Corrupt officials not receiving Canadian money: ambassador

OTTAWA - Afghanistan's ambassador to Canada assured MPs Wednesday that Canadian aid funds are not winding up in the "pockets or bank accounts" of corrupt government officials.
Afghan ambassador urges action to stop attacks on schools

Netherlands pledges five million euros for Afghan human rights

Afghan intellectuals criticise US, NATO operations

KABUL (AFP) - About 3,000 Afghan politicians and intellectuals criticised Thursday the international military campaign against Islamic militants in Afghanistan and called for dialogue to ending the fighting.

"Today our elders, children and women are captured and jailed," civil society activist Daud Mirakai, one of the founders of the new National Peace Jirga of Afghanistan, told the crowd.

"Today, they (foreign forces) break through our doors while our women are sleeping," he continued, raising a highly emotive issue among Pashtuns that prompted shouts of "Allahu akbar" (God is greater).

Mirakai said international forces claimed to have brought peace and democracy to Afghanistan but this was not true.

Instead "people are forced to abandon their villages under the shells and mortars of US forces and their allies who are killing people first and asking questions later," he said.

Pashtuns were main victims of the unrest, he said, claiming the ethnic group which has ruled for the past two centuries had been pushed aside by the government of President Hamid Karzai, himself a Pashtun.

"Peace in Afghanistan is impossible when Pashtuns are targeted from the air and ground on a daily basis," he added, referring to military operations.

Afghans escape poverty via cheap U.S. labor

Afghans escape poverty via cheap U.S. labor - Yahoo! News

Israeli press on 60th anniversary -- BBC

Olmert and Abbas 'make progress'

Bush to meet Karzai, Iraqi leaders on Mideast tour

President George W. Bush will hold separate, bilateral meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Iraqi leaders during his May 13-18 trip to the Middle East, a top White House aide said Wednesday.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

AFGHANISTAN: Agriculture Ministry calls for US$2.5 billion aid programme

Years of turmoil have adversely affected the agricultural infrastructure, particularly irrigation systems. About two-thirds of farmland requires irrigation []. This rendered the landlocked country largely dependent on food imports and pushed millions of Afghans into extreme poverty.

Agriculture is the primary source of income for over 70 percent of Afghans but it has largely been overlooked in rebuilding and development efforts since 2001, aid agencies such as Oxfam International say.

Putin signals he intends to stay in charge of Russia

Putin confirmed Prime Minister

Walters' Personal Revelations -- ABC

Barbara Walters on Guilt, Redemption and Difficult Childhood
WATCH: Charlie vs. Barbara: The Interview
PHOTOS: Barbara Walters' Photo Album

Books: Barbara Walters' Lifelong 'Audition'

Morning Edition, May 7, 2008 · The first woman to co-anchor a nightly newscast , Walters says she has interviewed "almost every head of state of importance, every president of importance, every murderer of importance." But despite all of her experience, she says, "I really have felt that I have been auditioning most of my life."

Gun battle message shocks parents -- BBC

A US couple checking their answering machine heard a frightening three-minute recording of their son caught in a battle in Afghanistan.

Drugs undermine Afghanistan's efforts to rebuild

Afghanistan (Reuters) Afghanistan is the world's largest opium producer and exporter but most people tend to forget that it is also a huge narcotics consumer. A 2005 survey estimated that there are some 920,000 drug users in a country of 26 million.

Cindy McCain says she'll never release her tax returns -- Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Cindy McCain says she will never make her tax returns public even if her husband wins the White House and she becomes the first lady.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Amid War, Afghanistan Builds Its First National Park

Morning Edition, May 7, 2008 · In Afghanistan, Americans are working with the government in Kabul to create something that has never existed before in this war-ravaged country: a national park.
Explore Afghanistan's First National Park

The New Economics of Hunger

A brutal convergence of events has hit an unprepared global market, and grain prices are sky high. The world's poor suffer most.
The Dollar's Down. But We're Not Out.

American Experience: George H.W. Bush - PBS

Click here: American Experience George H. W. Bush PBS : Get perspective on the life and career of America's 41st president, George H.W. Bush.

'Saddam's jail diaries' published -- BBC

Some of the entries were signed "Saddam Hussein, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces". --- He quotes from the Koran a great deal and describes the Iranians as a greater danger to Iraq and the Gulf Arabs than Israel.

Putin's Eight Years in Power Leave Dubious Legacy

Russia's Relations with West Chilled Under Putin
U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities

Laura Bush Speaks Out: First Lady Condemns Junta's Response to Storm

Laura Bush condemned the military government in Burma yesterday for its "inept" response to a deadly weekend cyclone, marking an unusual foray by the president's spouse into a high-profile foreign policy crisis.
White House Briefing: Laura Bush's Disastrous Diplomacy
Burma Says Storm Killed More Than 22,000

Death Toll Surpasses 22,000 in Myanmar; Groups Poised to Rush in Aid

Relief for World Food Crisis Made More Difficult by Cyclones, Riots

Monday, May 05, 2008

The Life and Death of Pat Tillman

Afghan medical college struggles to rise from the ashes

KABUL (Reuters) - The gutted, hollow shell of the Ali Abad training hospital in Kabul is a symbol of the state of Afghanistan's medical system, battered by decades of war.

Rampant depression, drugs scar Afghan population

Scarred by decades of turmoil and grief, 66 per cent of Afghans suffer from depression or some form of mental disorder, and an increasing number are turning to illegal drugs, a top health official said.

Burmese storm toll 'tops 10,000' -- BBC

More than 10,000 people were killed in a devastating cyclone that hit western Burma on Saturday, Foreign Minister Nyan Win has said on state TV.

Prince Harry receives Afghanistan medal

WINDSOR (AFP) - Prince Harry received his first army campaign medal as his regiment was decorated for its service in Afghanistan in a ceremony here Monday.
Britain's Prince Harry receives Afghan medal - International ...
Britain's Prince Charles, Prince William...
Britain's Princess Anne, left, presents...

Canada should ease Afghan hunger

Spiking food prices are an acute danger not only to the world's poor, but to the strategic aims of NATO in Afghanistan, making it all the more imperative that the hunger of Afghans be alleviated as soon as possible. --- While the Canadian government announced an extra $50 million in aid this week for poor nations affected by rising food costs, none of the money is specifically earmarked for Afghanistan.

Bush asks for $3.7bn to beef up Afghan security

President asks for billions of dollars to continue global war on terror UNITED States President George Bush has said Afghanistan needs $3.7 billion to expand the size of its security forces as part of the “global war on terror.” Bush has also asked the US Congress for an extra $1.1 billion to improve democracy, governance, agriculture, counter-narcotics, humanitarian aid and security operations in Afghanistan.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Food crisis leaves many Afghans desperate

KABUL, Afghanistan -- "Karzai is the king and this is my life," wailed the Pashtun woman, who declined to give her name because of her conservative social code. "Since the Americans came here, nothing is cheap."

The U.N. World Food Program, or WFP, warns that the situation for the poorest in Afghanistan is dire and deaths from malnutrition are likely to increase. Protests have broken out in at least one city.
Click here: The New Economics of Hunger -

An Enemy on the Run

In Afghanistan, the Challenge Beyond al-Qaeda
Gates says U.S. could eye expanded Afghanistan role

Pentagon Considers Adding Forces in Afghanistan

Corruption eats away at Afghan government

KABUL — Among the soldiers, diplomats and aid workers who live in Afghanistan, it is the problem that nobody dares mention.--- Among ordinary Afghans, it's a daily presence, the corruption that is rooted deeply in the Western-backed Afghan government and its appointed officials.

Asian bank in food crisis warning -- BBC

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has warned that the crisis of rising food prices could reverse gains made in reducing poverty across the continent.
World Bank echoes food alarm
Bush offers $770m for food crisis

Hidden jewel of Afghan culture -- BBC

Architectural historian and broadcaster Dan Cruickshank treks into the mountains of western Afghanistan to visit and film an architectural treasure, the leaning minaret of Jam.