Friday, February 28, 2014

Keynote Address at ASAP-USIP-VOA Conference on "Getting Beyond Afghanistan in 2014" --- To the extent Afghanistan has impeded at all in the American consciousness over the past year, it has largely been the security transition that has dominated. Most news stories have focused on the U.S. and NATO drawdown and the increasing role of Afghan forces in both conducting and leading the fight. Looking forward, most attention has been paid to the prospects for concluding a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), and the continued uncertainty about whether U.S. and NATO forces will be staying or going. -- In Afghanistan, by contrast, increasing attention is being paid to the other transition that has been put in train, that from one elected leader to another. If the security transition goes badly, it may not make much difference who governs Afghanistan next year, but the reverse is also true, if this political transition does not take place successfully, nothing achieved in the security sphere is likely to endure. -- So if the bad news is that uncertainty about conclusion of the BSA continues to cloud the security transition, the good news is that the political transition continues to move forward on schedule and so far without significant disruption. - More, James F. Dobbins - United States Institute for Peace, at:

Tax man comes for couple's gold-coin find --- The people who unearthed the stash on their property could owe nearly half of the $10 million value in federal and state taxes. --- The "greatest buried treasure ever unearthed in the United States" is about to be hit by the tax collector. -- According to Kathleen Pender, a columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, the couple who found in cans (pictured) buried on their property more than 1,400 rare gold coins worth more than $10 million will probably owe close to half of that sum in federal and state income tax, whether or not they sell the coins. -- She quoted a 2013 tax guide in which the IRS stated: "If you find and keep property that does not belong to you that has been lost or abandoned (treasure-trove), it is taxable to you at its fair market value in the first year it is in your undisputed possession." -- That means the couple, who found the gold-coin treasure on their own property, may owe tax on the estimated value of the coins by this April 15, Pender quoted Leo Martinez, law professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, as saying in her article. The couple apparently found the coins in February of 2013. -- Most of the money will be subject to the top federal tax rate of 39.6 percent, which starts at $450,000 in joint taxable income, the article said. -- In California, where the coins were found, the top state rate on joint income over roughly $1 million is 13.3 percent, and taxpayers generally get a federal deduction for state income tax paid, which reduces their effective federal rate. -- That puts the total amount going to state and federal tax at about 47 percent, the article said. - Myra Saefong, MarketWatch

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Archaeologists Find Cheese Clinging to 3,600-Year-Old Chinese Mummies --- Researchers have identified clumps of well-aged cheese tucked around the necks and chests of Chinese mummies that are up to 3,600 years old. So is this the world's oldest cheese? That depends on what your definition of "cheese" is. -- Archaeologists in China collected samples of yellowish material from 10 tombs and mummies at Small River Cemetery No. 5 in northwestern China's Taklamakan Desert. The dry desert conditions contributed to the preservation of the mummies — as well as the textiles and gunky stuff that was packed around them. -- Chemists in Germany analyzed the proteins in the clumps and determined that the yellowish material was a type of kefir cheese. The stuff was probably left with the mummies either as a tribute or as food for the afterlife. -- The Taklamakan mummies are already notable because they appear to represent a mysterious non-Asian, Bronze Age culture that made its way to China thousands of years ago. It's plausible that they brought their cheese-making ways with them. -- The researchers say these are the oldest known specimens of actual cheese (as opposed to milk or butter), but they're not the earliest evidence of cheese-making. Others have reported finding residues of milk fat on 7,500-year-old cheese-making equipment from Poland. Milk residues also have been found in the remains of 8,000-year-old pottery from Turkey's Anatolia region. It's not clear, however, whether those residues came from cheese. -- The latest results, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science, suggest protein analysis could help solve other archaeological mysteries. - More, Alan Boyle, nbcnews

امید ناتو به امضای موافقتنامه توسط جانشین کرزی --- سرمنشی ناتو ابراز امیدواری نمود که افغانستان موافقتنامه برای حضور نیروهای خارجی بعد از سال 2014 را بعد از انتخابات ریاست جمهوری امضا کند. او هشدار داد که در غیر آن این اتحادیه نیروهایش را از افغانستان بیرون می کشد. ایالات متحده امریکا و ناتو از حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور افغانستان تقاضا نموده اند تا این چوکات حقوقی برای حضور نیروهای ایالات متحده امریکا در افغانستان برای دوران پس از بیرون رفتن نیروهای رزمی بین المللی در پایان سال 2014 را امضا کند. خودداری کرزی، برنامه گذاری این اتحادیه نظامی را برای دوران انتقال در پایان سال جاری دشوار می گرداند و این امر سوال هایی را در مورد نقش آینده ناتو در افغانستان برانگیخته است. اما دوران کار حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور افغانستان رو به پایان یافتن است، زیرا قانون اساسی افغانستان به وی اجازه نمی دهد تا خود را برای یک دور سوم نامزد انتخابات در ماه حمل سازد. -- راسموسن در این مورد بعد از اجلاس روز اول نشست های دو روزه وزیران دفاع ناتو در بروکسل گفت: «شاید رئیس جمهور کرزی این را امضا نکند، اما من امیدوارم، من انتظار دارم که یک رئیس جمهور جدید بنا بر خطرات زیادی که وجود دارد آن را امضا کند.» راسموسن گفت: «هرگاه ما این چوکات حقوقی را در دست نداشته باشیم، در آن صورت ما نمی توانیم (نیروها را) توظیف کنیم و بنا بر این در پایان این سال ما همه چیز را بیرون می کشیم.» راسموسن علاوه نمود: «ما نیاز نداریم برای احتمالات برنامه ریزی کنیم.» -- این موافقتنامه مصونیت قضایی سربازان امریکایی را در افغانستان تضمین می کند. در عین زمان موافقتنامه مورد نظر، راه را برای موافقتنامه مشابهی با ناتو هموار می سازد که برای تمدید حضور سربازان این اتحادیه نظامی در افغانستان بعد از سال 2014 یک امر ضروری پنداشته می شود. به گفته دیپلومات ها ناتو باید تا ماه اکتوبر در مورد توظیف اش در افغانستان بعد از سال 2014 تصمیم بگیرد. اورزولا فون دیر لاین، وزیر دفاع آلمان فدرال در بروکسل گفت: «مطلقاً واضح است که حکومت افغانستان باید ما را دعوت کند. ما باید استقبال شویم.» -- در حال حاضر حدود 58000 سرباز ناتو در افغانستان حضور دارند. ماموریت جدید که "حمایت قاطع" نام دارد، مشمول حداعظم 12 هزار سرباز است که برای آموزش دادن و کمک کردن به نیروهای امنیتی افغانستان می باشند. وزرای دفاع نانو هم چنان قابلیت های آینده ناتو را در روشنایی کاهش تدریجی بودجه نظامی این اتحادیه مورد بحث قرار دادند. قرار است به طور مشخص این موضوع در کنفرانس سران ناتو در ویلز بریتانیا روشن شود که در ماه سپتمبر برگزار می شود. طبق ارقامی که در این هفته انتشار یافته اند، تنها چهار عضو ناتو می توانند با هدف هزینه کردن 2 درصد تولیدات ناخالص داخلی شان برای امور دفاعی انطباق داشته باشند. این اتحادیه نظامی هم چنان از ناحیه کاهش بودجه دفاعی اش با فشار هایی مواجه می باشد. - دویچه ویلی

Schools and universities increasingly subjected to violence, study finds --- Schools and universities have been subjected to increasing violence in recent years, an international study has found. -- The survey of conflicts in 70 countries between 2009-13 – published on Thursday by the US-based Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) – reveals that violent assaults on educational establishments are far more widespread than previously reported. -- A total of 9,600 schools in the period were documented as being damaged or destroyed by attacks that included air and missile strikes, burnings, looting and armed occupation by army or guerrilla groups. -- The worst-affected country was Pakistan, where more than 800 schools were deliberately attacked between 2009 and 2012 alone, with many destroyed through explosions. -- The director of the GCPEA, Diya Nijhowne, said pupils and staff were not merely caught in the crossfire in many countries but were actively targeted. -- "Many individuals are bombed, burned, shot, threatened or abducted for attending classes or doing their job at school or university," Nijhowne said. "Many schools and universities are deliberately attacked because they are soft, easy targets, or to undermine government control – a tactic of war." -- Although most of the attacks were recorded in areas of civil war or long-running unrest, in countries such as Mexico the violent struggles fuelled by the drugs trade were also a major source of attacks. -- The report found that sustained violent attacks on education were especially prevalent in six countries – Afghanistan, Colombia, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Syria – with at least 1,000 documented attacks or armed seizures in each country over three years from 2009. -- It also found at least 500 cases of attacks were recorded in Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Israel and Palestine, Libya, Mexico and Yemen. -- The attacks included the bombing and arson of universities and schools, the shooting, abduction and imprisonment of staff, students and education trade union officials, and the forced seizure of education facilities in conflict zones. -- The study's authors call on governments and international tribunals to give greater protection to education, and say the UN, regional peacekeepers and all sides in conflicts should refrain from using schools or universities for military purposes. - More, Richard Adams, education editor, Guardian

NATO agrees to prepare for complete pullout from Afghanistan by end of year --- BRUSSELS — NATO defense ministers agreed here Thursday to begin preparing for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of this year, as a senior U.S. military official warned that “the progress we’ve made is not sustainable” by Afghan forces without an ongoing U.S. and international troop presence. -- The alliance also expressed strong concern about ongoing events in Ukraine and urged Russia “not to take any action that could create misunderstanding.” -- NATO’s action on Afghanistan followed President Obama’s order Tuesday to the U.S. military to develop plans for a so-called “zero option” of complete withdrawal if the Afghan government continues to refuse to sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States. -- NATO and U.S. defense officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have made clear that their expectation — and their strong preference — is that U.S. and NATO forces will remain in Afghanistan for training and counterterrorism missions after the last combat troops leave in December. --- A twofold decision taken by NATO on Thursday, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, reaffirms the alliance commitment to a training mission after 2014. “On the other hand,” he said, “we also had to ask our military authorities to plan for alternatives, because we don’t know yet whether an appropriate legal framework will remain in force or whether we will get an invitation.” -- While both Obama and NATO agree that Afghan President Hamid Karzai does not intend to sign the agreement — originally scheduled for completion last fall — many here chose to look on the bright side and interpreted the U.S. announcement as clarifying a willingness to wait until after Karzai’s successor is elected this spring. - More, Karen DeYoung, Washingtonpost, at:

وزراى دفاع آيساف وناتو امروز در مورد افغانستان صحبت مى کنند --- بروکسل (پژواک، ٨ حوت ٩٢): وزراى دفاع ناتو و آيساف در نشست روز دوم اين سازمان، گفتگو هاى خاص در مورد افغانستان انجام ميدهند. نشست دو روزۀ مذکور ديروز آغاز و وزراى دفاع ناتو و آيساف امروز در مورد افغانستان صحبت خواهند کرد. ديروز وزراى دفاع ٢٨ کشور عضو ناتو در روز اول نشست، روى قابليت ها و نياز هاى دفاعى اين سازمان صحبت کرده اند. -- منابع ناتو مى گويند که در نشست امروز جنرال جوزيف دانفورد، قوماندان عمومى نيرو هاى آيساف در افغانستان و جنرال بسم الله محمدى وزير دفاع افغانستان نيز همرا با وزراى دفاع ٢٨ کشور عضو ناتو و وزراى دفاع ٢٢ کشور عضو آيساف اشتراک خواهند کرد. يک منبع ناتو به آژانس پژواک گفت که در اين نشست روى موضوعات مختلف چون ماموريت جديد ناتو بعد از سال ٢٠١٤ ميلادى در افغانستان، سند امنيتى بين افغانستان و امريکا، انتخابات افغانستان و قابليت هاى نيروهاى ملى افغانستان صبحت خواهد شد. -- اوانا لونګيسکو Oana Lungescu سخنگوى اين سازمان به تاريخ ( ٧ حوت ) به خبرنگاران در بروکسل گفت که وزراى دفاع کشور هاى عضو آيساف نيز در روز دوم نشست همراه با وزراى دفاع ناتو يکجا روى موضوع افغانستان صبحت خواهند کرد. تعداد از خبرنگان افغان، به شمول خبرنگار آژانس خبرى پژواک نيز به هدف پوشش نشست به بروکسل رسيده اند. -- اندرس فوغ راسموس، سرمنشى سازمان ناتو در جريان روز اول نشست گفت که امضاى سند صوفه بين افغانستان و ناتو نيز در صورت عدم امضاى سند امنيتى کابل- واشنگتن امکان ندارد. سرمنشى ناتو گفت: (در صورتيکه اين دوسند امضا نگردد، پس هيچ سرباز ناتو بعد از سال ٢٠١٤ ميلادى در افغانستان حضور نخواهد داشت.) راسموسن مى گويد، آنها نمى خواهند که سربازان خود را اخراج نمايند، اما با درنظرداشت موقف عدم امضاى سند امنيتى توسط جانب حکومت افغان، آنها مجبور اند که پلان هاى خود را براى آينده بگيرند.

Hard Talk Aside, Little Desire by the West to Leave Afghanistan --- BRUSSELS — Listening to the Western defense officials gathered at a NATO meeting here on Wednesday, it would be easy to think that the United States and the rest of the international military coalition in Afghanistan have shifted into a full-speed withdrawal from the country by year’s end. -- After all, the statements from NATO officials all picked up where President Obama left off on Tuesday. He abruptly announced that he had instructed the Pentagon to begin planning for a complete withdrawal because President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan was continuing his refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement that would allow Western troops to remain past 2014. -- “We all know the facts,” the NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said. “If the bilateral security agreement between the United States and Afghanistan is not signed, there will be no NATO status of forces agreement with Afghanistan. And if there is no agreement, there will be no NATO troops in Afghanistan after 2014.” -- But as all the withdrawal talk has hardened, another message can be read that may be a truer gauge of what Western officials really want to happen in Afghanistan. -- Mr. Rasmussen sent that other message too, when, after warning about a full withdrawal, he quickly qualified it: “Let me stress, this is not our preferred option.” -- And there, defense analysts say, lies the truth that makes the Western ultimatum to Mr. Karzai look more like posturing than policy. -- Few of the interested parties — and especially not the Pentagon — really want to cut and run out of Afghanistan after 13 years of war in which almost 3,500 coalition troops, mostly American, have been killed; an untold but exponentially higher number of Afghan civilians have died or been wounded; and $700 billion has been spent. -- The reason is simple: Military commanders and policy experts say that without a remaining core of Western troops to support the Afghan government and continue training the security forces, the chances are high that significant swaths of the country will fall back under Taliban control, just as they were before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. -- After the blood and sweat of the past 13 years of war, that potential return to old realities is seen as a particularly bitter pill. -- “If we withdraw, and the international community withdraws its aid, you will see the potential for the Afghan government to collapse, the insurgency to gain momentum and territory, take over eastern Afghanistan, recreating a safe haven for terrorist elements that still harbor an anti-U.S. agenda,” said Michèle Flournoy, a former top Pentagon official in the Obama administration. “After all of this effort and all of this sacrifice and all of this progress, you’re back to a new safe haven for terrorists? It’s like, it just makes no sense.” -- American intelligence officials have warned in classified assessments that insurgents could retake key areas of Afghanistan in the south and the east in as little as a year after American troops are fully withdrawn. The assessments also warn that Kabul, the capital, could quickly come under more serious attack than it has in recent years. -- Such a turn could also lead to insecurity for India and Pakistan, foreign policy experts say, with each of the nuclear-armed South Asian nations entering a more aggressive proxy war in Afghanistan in a bid for regional influence and a trump card to play against the other. -- “The neighboring countries, they all want us to stay,” said David Sedney, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia. “If we were to leave, the consequences for Pakistan, for the Indians — these countries want a stable Afghanistan.” -- American planners are thinking about what would happen if the United States is forced into a full and final troop withdrawal. Part of that contingency planning, officials say, will include looking to other countries — perhaps in Central Asia — for air bases that would allow continued drone operations in the region. -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel alluded to that this month when he said at a news conference that the military was “constantly updating” where to put drone bases, “where the threats are most significant, where do you have allies that are willing to work with you.” -- But military officials say that a complete pullout from Afghanistan, where the United States now has the luxury of the base at Bagram from which to provide support, would hurt the American counterterrorism effort. -- Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said as much during a meeting with commanders in Afghanistan on Tuesday, urging them to keep pushing. “It is not an indication that we’re not committed to a mission beyond the end of 2014,” he said, “because we very much believe the Afghan security forces could use our help.” -- General Dempsey said that Western threats to fully withdraw were weakening the Afghan forces’ resolve, and that the impasse over the security agreement was encouraging the Taliban to be more aggressive. “It is having an effect on the enemy, and in some ways I think encourages them, and intelligence supports that,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. -- Many Afghan officials — including all 11 of the presidential candidates vying to succeed Mr. Karzai this spring — have said they want some American troops to stay. And on Wednesday, Mr. Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, insisted that a security deal could eventually be reached. --- “I personally believe that Obama will not go with the zero option,” said Aryan Yoon, a member of the international relations committee in the Afghan Parliament. She added, “The Americans should know that the minute they pull out from Afghanistan without leaving a residual force, the country will plunge into a civil war and will go back to the ‘90s.” - More, Military Analysis, NYTimes, at:

NATO to plan for all options in Afghanistan, including pullout --- (Reuters) - NATO defense ministers agreed on Thursday to plan for all options for the alliance's future presence in Afghanistan including a possible pullout of all its troops this year, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said. -- With foreign troops due to end combat operations in Afghanistan at the close of 2014, NATO has been planning to keep a slimmed-down force there to train and assist Afghan forces who continue to battle Taliban insurgents. -- But NATO and U.S. officials say President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign an agreement with the United States creating a legal framework for U.S. troops to stay in Afghanistan could force it to pull out all its troops by the end of the year. -- "Today we agreed the need to plan for all possible outcomes including the possibility that we may not be able to deploy to Afghanistan after 2014 due to the persistent delays we have seen," NATO Secretary-General Rasmussen told a news conference. -- On Wednesday, Rasmussen said he still hoped plans to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond this year could be salvaged. But President Barack Obama has told the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that no U.S. troops will be left in Afghanistan because of Karzai's refusal to sign the accord. --- "Let me be clear that this is not the outcome we want," Rasmussen said, referring to the option of no NATO troops staying behind in Afghanistan after this year. -- "It is not the outcome we think is in the interest of the Afghan people. However, it might be the unfortunate outcome if there is no security agreement in due time. This is what is at stake." - More, at:

Fearing their homeland, Afghan asylum seekers find refuge in Brussels church --- (Reuters) - Hundreds of Afghan refugees have set up camp in a Brussels church, protesting against their imminent deportation to their home country, which they say is not safe. -- Sitting in the heart of Brussels' trendy Saint Catherine district, with renowned fish restaurants and designer fashion stores, nothing on the outside of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage hints at its temporary residents. -- Inside, however, half of the church is filled with tents and makeshift beds. People sit on the floor to eat their lunch and children run around the 17th century baroque church's nave. -- The refugees say they fear they would be killed or be forced to join terrorist groups if they returned to Afghanistan. -- "We are afraid to die, to go back to die or to join a group of Al-Qaeda that is against humanity," said Samir Hamdard, the 29-year-old spokesman for the group. -- Hamdard was born in Afghanistan, but moved to a refugee camp in Peshawar, Pakistan, at the age of six. He has lived in Belgium for 11 years and speaks fluent French, Dutch and English. -- The priest of the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage, Daniel Alliet, said he opened the doors to the refugees because he disagreed with Belgium's current asylum policy. -- "The main aim of the policy is no longer to focus on who needs help but on how to minimize the number of people coming in," he said. -- The number of asylum seekers in the European Union reached 330,000 in 2012, according to the European Union's Statistics office Eurostat, with figures from the first 9 months of 2013 pointing to a further increase. -- Before receiving shelter at the Beguinage Church, the Afghans occupied several empty buildings in Brussels from which they were evicted. -- They staged several protests to draw attention to their cause and marched to the home towns of Belgium's Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and Immigration Minister Maggie De Block.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Afghanistan still lacking basic health care – despite rosy view of progress, says medical charity --- Medecins Sans Frontieres says access health care is limited and help has too often been delivered in areas seen as essential to counter-insurgency rather than based on population needs -- Much of Afghanistan still lacks basic emergency medical care despite rosy assessments of progress by governments which have sent troops to the country, according to Medecins Sans Frontieres. -- In a report published on Tuesday, the charity says donors have too often provided assistance based not on people’s needs but on considerations such as such as stabilisation, counter-insurgency strategies or “winning hearts and minds”. -- Strip away the rhetoric of state-building and the result is that access to medical care remains severely limited, it concludes. --- A 25-year-old school principal from Baghlan province, spelt out the horror to MSF researchers. -- “There is constant violence around my village,” he said. “We never know how much fighting each week will bring. The fighting doesn’t stop when there are injured people, so we can’t get them to a doctor. So we wait, and then they die, and the fighting continues.” --- It found almost four out of five people had avoided their nearest clinic because they believe there were problems with staff of quality of treatment. One in ten people had travelled for more than two hours to reach hospital. -- Patients described clinics without electricity or having to sell belongings in order to pay for expensive treatment. - More, Rob Crilly, Islamabad, Telegraph

هشدار اوباما به کرزی در مورد 'خروج کامل' آمریکا از افغانستان --- باراک اوباما رئیس جمهور آمریکا به حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور افغانستان هشدار داد که ایالات متحده ممکن است تا پایان امسال تمام نیروهایش را از آن کشور خارج کند' --- آقای اوباما این اظهارات را روز سه‌شنبه، بیست و پنجم فوریه، در گفت و گویی تلفنی با همتای افغان خود بیان کرد که در ماه های گذشته از امضای موافقت‌نامه امنیتی با واشنگتن خودداری کرده است. -- رئیس جمهور آمریکا همچنین از وزارت دفاع این کشور خواسته است تا زمینه اجرای برنامه‌‌ها برای پایان ماموریت و خروج به موقع نیروهای این کشور از افغانستان تا در پایان سال جاری میلادی، آماده کند. - بر اساس این برنامه، هیچ سرباز آمریکایی پس از سال ۲۰۱۴ در افغانستان باقی نخواهد ماند. -- به گفته کاخ سفید، ایالات متحده کماکان مایل به امضای پیمان امنیتی دوجانبه با افغانستان و ایجاد زمینه‌ برای حضور محدود در افغانستان پس از سال ۲۰۱۴ از جمله ماموریت‌های آموزشی و مشورتی، همکاری با نیروهای افغان و جستجوی هسته‌های وابسته به القاعده در این کشور است. -- به گفته کاخ سفید، به دلیل همین علاقه‌مندی، آمریکا زمینه را برای امضای این موافقت‌نامه، در ماه‌های آینده، باز می‌گذارد. -- در هفته‌های اخیر، خبرها حاکی از این بود که مقامات آمریکایی، مشغول بررسی این احتمال هستند که موافقت‌نامه دوجانبه امنیتی با رییس جمهوری آینده افغانستان به امضا برسد. -- با این حال در نامه خبری کاخ سفید آمده است که هر اندازه که امضای این موافقت‌نامه به تاخیر بیافتد، احتمال خروج کامل نیروهای آمریکایی و یا کوچک‌تر و محدودتر بودن ماموریت نیروهای این کشور در افغانستان، پس از سال ۲۰۱۴، بیشتر می‌شود. -- کاخ سفید در پایان این نامه خبری بر حمایت و همکاری‌های دوجانبه میان دو کشور، در چارچوب قراردادهای موجود تاکید کرده‌ و نوشته‌است آقای اوباما به رییس جمهوری افغانستان گفته که کشورش از روند صلح با مخالفان مسلح و نیز برگزاری یک انتخابات شفاف، با اعتبار و مطابق با جدول زمانی از پیش تعیین شده، پشتیبانی می‌کند و در صورت لزوم با نیروهای افغان برای تامین امنیت انتخابات، همکاری خواهد کرد. -- اواخر سال گذشته میلادی، لویه جرگه‌ای که برای بررسی موافقت‌نامه دوجانبه امنیتی میان آمریکا و افغانستان، در کابل برگزار شده‌بود، این موافقت‌نامه را تایید کرد و از رییس جمهور افغانستان خواست آن را امضا کند. -- اما حامد کرزی، شرایطی را مطرح کرده و گفته تا این شرایط از سوی آمریکا برآورده نشود، این موافقت‌نامه را امضا نخواهد کرد. -- پایان دادن به عملیات شبانه و کمک آمریکا به آغاز جدی و عملی گفت‌وگوهای صلح بین دولت افغانستان و شورشیان مسلح مخالف دولت از جمله این پیش‌شرط‌ها است. - BBC

Gold Country couple discover $10 million in buried coins --- Some dream of roaming the Earth to hunt buried treasure. One Sierra Nevada couple didn't have to go that far. They dug it up in their backyard - about $10 million worth, in 19th century U.S. gold coins stuffed into rusty cans. -- It's believed to the biggest hoard of gold coins ever unearthed in the United States. And it's going on sale soon. -- The bonanza emerged last year as the man and woman were walking their dog on their property in the Gold Country and noticed the top of a decaying canister poking out of the ground. -- They dug it out with a stick, took it to their house and opened it up. Inside was what looked like a batch of discs covered in dirt from holes rotted through the can. - More, Kevin Fagan, sfgate,, at:

No bluff: U.S. planning possible withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan --- Washington (CNN) -- We're not bluffing, the Obama administration told Afghanistan on Tuesday in announcing for the first time it has started planning for the possible withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of the year if no security agreement is signed. -- Statements by the White House and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel showed President Barack Obama's impatience with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign the agreement that would keep several thousand American troops in the country after combat operations conclude this year. -- In a phone call with Karzai on Tuesday to discuss upcoming elections for a new Afghan leader, Obama made clear that time was running out to properly plan for keeping any U.S. forces in the country beyond 2014, the White House said. -- Meanwhile, a senior Pakistani official warned that pulling out U.S. troops could have dire consequences, leading to a civil war in Afghanistan. - More, at:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

مک کیون: از اهمیت جنگ افغانستان نباید چشم پوشی کرد --- رئیس کمیته خدمات نظامی کانگرس امریکا روز دوشنبه در مرکز ملی رسانه ها در واشنگتن در مورد وضعیت افغانستان صحبت مفصل نمود. -- هاورد مک کیون گفت، افغانستان تا چند سال قبل مرکز حملات مرگبار بر امریکا بوده و نیرو های نظامی امریکایی برای مصونیت مردم این کشور به افغانستان رفته و جنگ علیه ترویستان را آغاز کردند. -- آقای مک کیون گفت: " این جنگ را به خاطر دشواری نباید رها کرد." -- به گفتهء این عضو کانگرس امریکا، سروی ها و گزارش های رسانه ها در مورد افغانستان هیچ گاهی از وضعیت این کشور تصویر همه جانبه ارایه نکرده اند. -- هاورد مک کیون می گوید: " سروی ها و رسانه ها همیشه گزارش می دهند که حمایت امریکاییان از جنگ افغانستان کاهش یافته، همسایه های این کشور با حضور نظامی امریکا مخالفت دارند و مبارزهء ما در حال ناکامی است." -- رییس کمیته خدمات نظامی مجلس نمایندگان امریکا در ادامه صحبت خود گفت، اوضاع در افغانستان نسبت به 13 سال قبل خیلی بهبود یافته، امریکا کمتر به تهدید مواجه بوده و امریکاییان در مقایسه با 13 سال قبل مصون تر اند. -- به گفتهء آقای مک کیون رییس جمهور و مردم امریکا باید از اهمیت جنگ افغانستان چشم پوشی نکنند. -- هاورد مک کیون که عضو حزب جمهوری خواه و نمایندهء مردم ایالت فلوریدا امریکا در مجلس نماینده گان این کشور می باشد، افزود: --« امریکا در مدت سیزده سال گذشته در افغانستان در عرصه های ستراتیژیک، دیپلوماتیک و معنوی پیشرفت داشته که رییس جمهور امریکا باید به آن افتخار کند.» -- هاورد مک کیون اضافه کرد، نیرو های امنیتی افغان در حال حاضر 95 درصد عملیات نظامی را به پیش می برند و اضافه از 300 هزار عسکر در صفوف این نیرو ها فعالیت دارند. -- رییس کمیته نظامی کانگرس امریکا می گوید، از اینکه حامد کرزی رییس جمهور افغانستان قرارداد همکاری های امنیتی و دفاعی را با امریکا امضاء نمی کند، قابل تاسف است. اما به گفتهء او افغانان در طول 13 سال گذشته متحدان خوب امریکا بودند و نباید به خاطر فیصلهء یک نفر در مورد یک ملت قضاوت کرد. -- هاورد مک کیون اضافه کرد، حامد کرزی در چند ماه آینده از قدرت کنار می رود و مهم این است که لویه جرگهء مشورتی که از مردم افغانستان نمایندگی می کرد، از قرارداد امنیتی بین کابل و واشنگتن حمایت کرده است. -- رییس کمیته خدمات نظامی کانگرس امریکا گفت، طالبان وحشیان ظالم اند و چنین افرادی در قرن 21م جا ندارند. -- هاورد مک کیون رییس کمیته خدمات نظامی مجلس نماینده گان امریکا در پایان بیانیه اش گفت: " در نتیجه ماموریت نظامی امریکا، افغانستان آزاد و این کشور نسبت به سابق دارای وضعیت خوب می باشد و امریکا همچنان نسبت به گذشته مصون تر است." -- به گفته مک کیون، بارک اوباما رییس جمهور امریکا باید به این پیشرفت ها در افغانستان افتخار کند و این را بداند که به یک افغانستان با ثبات و با امن نزدیک شده و این فرصت را نباید از دست دهد. - رادیو آزادی

For Immediate Release - Readout of President Obama’s Call with President Karzai --- President Obama called President Karzai today to discuss preparations for Afghanistan’s coming elections, Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts, and the Bilateral Security Agreement. -- The President welcomed the beginning of Afghanistan’s Presidential campaign season and affirmed the United States’ support for a fair, credible, timely, and Afghan-led process. As Afghans soon take the important step of heading to the election polls, they should know that the United States will be committed to supporting the Afghan security forces as they make preparations to secure the Afghan elections. The two leaders noted the important role that independent Afghan electoral bodies would play in overseeing a historic transfer of power, and the President reiterated that the United States would not support any candidate in the elections -- the choice of who leads Afghanistan is for Afghans to make. President Karzai updated the President regarding Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts, and the leaders noted that it was critical for regional countries to support a political solution to the conflict. -- With regard to the Bilateral Security Agreement, in advance of the NATO Defense Ministerial, President Obama told President Karzai that because he has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the BSA, the United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning. Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014. At the same time, should we have a BSA and a willing and committed partner in the Afghan government, a limited post-2014 mission focused on training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces and going after the remnants of core Al Qaeda could be in the interests of the United States and Afghanistan. Therefore, we will leave open the possibility of concluding a BSA with Afghanistan later this year. However, the longer we go without a BSA, the more challenging it will be to plan and execute any U.S. mission. Furthermore, the longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and ambition. -- The United States continues to support a sovereign, stable, unified, and democratic Afghanistan, and will continue our partnership based on the principles of mutual respect and mutual accountability. We remain fully supportive of our partners in the Afghan security forces, and we continue to proudly work side by side with the many Afghans who continue to work to ensure the stability and prosperity of their fellow citizens. - The White House, at:

Pentagon blueprint would cut Army size as military adjusts to leaner budgets --- The Defense Department on Monday proposed cutting the Army to its smallest size in 74 years, slashing a class of attack jets and rolling back personnel costs in an effort to adjust a department buoyed by a decade of war to an era of leaner budgets. -- The five-year budget blueprint outlined by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reflects a willingness by the Pentagon to make deep cuts to personnel strength to invest in technology and equipment as it eases off a war footing. -- “The development and proliferation of more advanced military technologies by other nations mean that we are entering an era where American dominance on the seas, in the skies and in space can no longer be taken for granted,” Hagel told reporters at an afternoon news conference. -- Congress recently passed a bill that authorized the Defense Department to spend nearly $1 trillion over the next two years — $75 billion less than the Obama administration requested but a reprieve from the spending cuts that would have been forced under the deficit-reduction mechanism known as sequestration. -- The Pentagon’s budget-trimming plan represents the department’s opening bid in what is widely expected to be a politically fraught process that lawmakers and influential constituencies will seek to shape. The formal budget will be presented next Tuesday. -- Under the proposal, during the next five years the Pentagon would get $115 billion above the savings it would have had to find under sequestration but $113 billion less than the spending levels contemplated in last year’s budget proposal. - More, Ernesto Londoño, Washingtonpost

Pentagon budget would affect cost of living for troops and families --- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday proposed trimming the Defense Department’s personnel costs with cuts in military benefits, pay and troop numbers. -- The Pentagon’s 2015 budget request, due for release next Tuesday, would reduce housing allowances, increase health-care fees for active-duty families and military retirees, slash commissary subsidies by 71 percent and place a one-year hold on pay raises for the highest-ranking officers. The plan also calls for shrinking the Army to its smallest size in 74 years. -- Many of the changes would increase the cost of living for U.S. troops, veterans and their families. Military groups have said they will fight those proposals. -- “Washington is trying to balance the budget on the backs of those who have sacrificed the most,” said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America chief executive Paul Rieckhoff. “We know the Defense Department must make difficult budget decisions, but these cuts would hit service members, making it harder for them and their families to make ends meet.” -- Hagel defended some of the Pentagon proposals while outlining them Monday at a news conference. -- “We recognize that no one serving our nation in uniform today is overpaid for what they do for our country,” the Pentagon chief said. “But if we continue on the current course without making these modest adjustments now, the choices will only grow more difficult and more painful down the road.” -- The Pentagon plan would also reduce subsidies for the commissaries where troops can buy discounted groceries, lowering the amount from $1.4 billion to $400 million over three years. Hagel said the stores would still pay no rent or taxes, and the stores in rural areas and overseas would continue to receive direct financial support. - More, Josh Hicks, Washingtonpost

Obama orders Pentagon to prepare for complete withdrawal from Afghanistan --- President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to begin preparing for a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced. -- The order, Hagel said in a statement, came after Obama “determined that it is unlikely” that Afghan President Hamid Karzai will sign a long-delayed bilateral security agreement, “which would provide [Defense] personnel with critical protections and authorities after 2014.” -- Hagel spoke after Obama telephoned Karzai on Tuesday morning with the same message. In its own statement, the White House said that because Karzai “has demonstrated” that he does not intend to sign, the Pentagon has been instructed “to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal . . . should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014.” -- Obama left the door open, however, for Karzai’s successor, to be chosen in April elections, to sign the agreement. “[S]hould we have . . . a willing and committed partner in the Afghan government,” the White House said Obama told Karzai, a “limited” training and counterterrorism force would be in the interests of both countries. -- But “the longer we go without a BSA,” as the agreement is called, “the more likely it will be that any post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and mission,” the White House said. -- Obama has not decided how many troops he is willing to leave in Afghanistan after the full combat withdrawal scheduled to be completed by the end of December. Options under consideration include 10,000, together with 5,000 NATO and other international troops, to remain until the end of 2015 at bases around Afghanistan; a somewhat smaller number, based primarily in Kabul, with the ability to travel around the country as needed; 3,000 U.S. troops restricted to bases in Kabul and Bagram; and complete withdrawal. -- Hagel had told NATO partners late last year that he expected Karzai to sign the document by this week’s NATO defense ministers meeting. -- NATO foreign ministers, who have said they will leave no forces behind without a robust U.S. presence, will likely reinforce those views when Hagel meets with them in Brussels on Wednesday. -- The military has made clear its strong preference for the 10,000 option, as have the State Department and the CIA. -- “We were not actively planning for a complete withdrawal,” said Rear Adm. John F.Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman. “And now we will.” - More, Karen DeYoung, Washingtonpost

Syrians set to replace Afghans as largest refugee population: U.N. -- (Reuters) - Syrians are about to replace Afghans as the world's largest refugee population, fleeing a conflict where barrel bombs leave bodies in pieces and a generation of children are physically and emotionally scarred, top U.N. officials said on Tuesday. -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the U.N. General Assembly that the world body would do everything to implement a U.N. Security Council resolution - adopted on Saturday to boost humanitarian aid access - and get help to millions in need. -- "Supplies are ready to go into areas that have been hard to reach, and into the towns and cities that have been under siege," Ban said. "What we need is guaranteed safe passage for humanitarian supplies along key routes." -- "It is incumbent on the Syrian government and all parties to the conflict to reach these agreements," he said. -- Some 9.3 million Syrians - almost half the population - need help, the United Nations said. Some 2.4 million of those people have fled the country during the three-year civil war. -- "Five years ago Syria was the world's second-largest refugee hosting country. Syrians are now about to replace Afghans as the present biggest refugee population worldwide," U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said. -- "It breaks my heart to see this nation that for decades welcomed refugees from other countries, ripped apart and forced into exile itself," Guterres told the 193-member U.N. assembly. --- The unanimously adopted Security Council resolution demands cross-border aid access in Syria, an end to the use of weapons such as barrel bombs in cities and towns and threatens "further steps" in cases of non-compliance. -- U.N. diplomats say Syria's ally Russia is unlikely to agree to any action if the Damascus government was found to be in non-compliance. But Western envoys expressed a strong intent to push for Security Council action if the resolution is ignored. -- U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay told the General Assembly that imprecise weapons, notably barrel bombs, had reportedly killed hundreds of people in February alone. - More, Michelle Nichols, at:

Obama prepared to leave no troops in Afghanistan after 2014 --- (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama has told the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that the United States will not leave behind any troops in Afghanistan after its troop drawdown at the end of this year, the White House said on Tuesday. -- Obama said he had given the order to the Pentagon in a phone call on Tuesday to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement that the United States insists it must have before agreeing to leave a contingent of troops behind. -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was carrying the modified U.S. position to Brussels for discussion during a meeting with NATO defense ministers that starts on Wednesday. -- "Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014," the White House said. -- The United States has held out the possibility of leaving behind in Afghanistan as many as 8,000 troops after the formal drawdown at year's end. These troops would conduct counter-terrorism operations against al Qaeda targets and train Afghan forces. -- Karzai's refusal to sign a security deal has frustrated the White House, which has been forced to abandon an earlier demand that the Afghan president sign the deal in weeks, not months. -- Staking out a new position, the White House statement said "we will leave open the possibility of concluding a BSA (bilateral security agreement) later this year. However, the longer we go without a BSA, the more challenging it will be to plan and execute any U.S. mission." -- And the longer both countries go without a security deal, "the more likely it will be that any post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and ambition," the White House statement said. -- Hagel said planning for what is known as "the zero option" is a prudent step given that Karzai has made clear he is unlikely to sign the security deal. -- "As the United States military continues to move people and equipment out of the Afghan theater, our force posture over the next several months will provide various options for political leaders in the United States and NATO," Hagel said in a statement. - More

Monday, February 24, 2014

Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon -- A safe, secure Afghanistan is within our grasp -- don’t let it slip away --- For nearly 13 years now, the United States has been at war in Afghanistan. We’re there because Afghanistan was used as a launch pad for attacks that killed Americans. We have a responsibility for the safety and security of our citizens. And we don’t abandon that responsibility just because the fight is hard. -- If you read polls, you’ll hear that American support for the Afghanistan campaign has dipped below 20%. If you listen to the news, you’ll hear about a hopeless campaign to win the unwinnable. That’s if you hear about it at all. Looking at those barometers, the American people know two things. They know the war is going badly. And they know most of their neighbors oppose our involvement there. But neither polls nor the press paint the full picture. Neither tell the full story. -- That story is a hopeful one. Not blindly so, but hopeful nonetheless. Traditionally, it is right and proper that these stories come from the commander-in-chief. But he has talked about Afghanistan only a handful of times during his presidency. And each time, President Obama praised his run for the exits or pitied our wounded, instead of lauding the accomplishments of our troops and the importance of the mission they were given to fight. So, if the president of the United States won’t give this speech, I will. ---- In 2001, after the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor, the United States invaded Afghanistan. The very act of toppling the Taliban regime was both strategically and technologically astounding. In three months time, America and her allies knocked down a regime 7,000 miles away in landlocked, mountainous terrain. -- We dropped young men and women in a combat zone with a brutal climate, with no support other than by air, and a tough, determined enemy fighting on his home turf. We asked them to establish supply lines that any sane logistics officer would call impossible.We asked them to fight a war they hadn’t trained for, in a land that had buried the most powerful empires in the world. -- Not only did they succeed; they kicked the Taliban down in three months – that’s less than a semester to their college friends back home. Then, we asked them to do something even harder. -- Make no mistake – an insurgency is the hardest type of war a democracy can fight. Holding a new country steady, with insurgents hiding among innocents, can take years. --- I won’t sugarcoat it. The American people are sick and tired of this war. And it is their will--not the enemy’s-- that will determine Afghanistan’s fate. It’s the will of the American people that’s the most important weapon in this fight – not million dollar smart bombs or aircraft carriers. -- So here are the questions we have to ask ourselves. -- Is Afghanistan less of a threat to the United States than it was 13 years ago? --- In May of 2012, President Obama and President Karzai signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement. We declared them a “major non-NATO ally,” and the Afghans ratified the agreement in both houses of Parliament.Also in May of 2012, the international community got behind the effort. In Chicago, NATO pledged to support Afghanistan through 2017. In July, at the Tokyo Conference, the wider international community declared its support for Afghanistan with a promise of $16 billion worth of assistance. -- The Afghan people have been amazing allies. President Karzai has not. But let’s not pin our hopes on one man, especially one who is packing his bags in a few months. -- The Loya Jurga is overwhelmingly behind the B.S.A. Polls show that 70% of Afghans want us to stay. They haven’t forgotten how quickly we left after the Soviet occupation – and how that ended up. -- There’s also an election coming up, and most of the presidential candidates support a long-term agreement with the United States. -- You don’t need to look past Baghdad to see how quickly gains can unravel. We went into Afghanistan to do a job. Americans don’t like starting things we don’t intend to finish, no matter how hard it may be. -- Locking down that BSA is the last big diplomatic step towards getting that job done permanently. It’s vital to keeping the coalition going– I’m sure the lack of a BSA will be the subject of intense discussion at the NATO ministerials meeting this week. --- Finally, we owe it to ourselves to have a frank discussion about America’s moral responsibility in Afghanistan. The Taliban are brutal. They are a cruel, barbaric horde and their kind has no place in the 21st century. We abandoned Afghanistan to the Taliban once before. And both the United States and the people of Afghanistan paid the price. -- America leads the world. Leadership has responsibilities. There are times when democracies must take a hard look inward. There are times when we must come to terms with the burden of our values. Afghanistan is one of those moments. --- Do we step back and abandon Afghanistan to the wolves? Do we still have a moral responsibility to the people there? Does our humanity still compel us to help people who have known nothing but war for 4 decades? ---- Go to the White House’s prominent and dedicated page on its website for Iraq. At White you get an interactive timeline praising the end of the Iraq War. They eagerly take credit for leaving Iraq. You can ask the Iraqis how that’s been going for them. --- In startling contrast, there’s nothing special, or even prominent, about what our troops have achieved in Afghanistan – what the president once referred to as the “good war. Go to, and you’ll find a photo of the presidential seal hanging on a vacant podium. It reads: “Sorry, the page you’re looking for can’t be found.” Even the White House blog on their Afghan-Pakistan strategy hasn’t been updated recently. -- Mr. President, you may have stumbled there, but a safe and secure Afghanistan is within our grasp. Don’t let it slip away. - More, FOX News, at:

جان باختن سربازان ارتش ملی نشانه تروریزم سازمان یافته‌ی پاکستانی --- روز گذشته در حمله‌ی گروهی از طالبان در غازی‌آباد ولایت کنر که گفته می‌شود در میان آن‌ها شمار زیادی از طالبان پاکستانی نیز حضور داشتند، ۲۱ تن از سربازان ارتش ملی افغانستان جان باختند و حدود ۶ تن دیگر از این سربازان ناپدید شدند. این دردآورترین و کلان‌ترین حمله‌ای است که بر جان سربازان کشور صورت می‌گیرد. -- جان باختن این سربازان ارتش در نخستین لحظات عکس العمل های زیادی را در افغانستان برانگیخت و شماری از نامزدان ریاست ‌جمهوری و نمایندگان ولسی جرگه این رویداد را محکوم کردند. -- اما آن‌ چه در رابطه با این حمله قابل تامل است، این است که در هفته‌ی گذشته شماری از سربازان پاکستانی که از سال ۲۰۱۰ به این ‌سو در گرو طالبان پاکستانی به ‌سر می‌ بردند، سر بریده شدند و سرتاج عزیز، مشاور نخست‌ وزیر پاکستان در دیداری که با وزیر خارجه افغانستان در حاشیه نشست سارک در مالدیف داشت، ادعا کرد که قتل این سربازان در خاک افغانستان صورت گرفته است. وزیر خارجه پاکستان نیز روز پنج ‌شنبه محل قتل سربازان کشورش را افغانستان خواند. -- وزارت خارجه افغانستان نیز در پاسخ به اعلامیه وزارت خارجه پاکستان، اعلامیه نوشت و در آن ذکر کرد که نمی ‌تواند کشته شدن سربازان پاکستانی را در خاک افغانستان تایید کند، اما اقدامات لازم را برای بررسی این رویداد روی ‌دست می‌گیرد. با این حال، وزارت خارجه افغانستان هم‌ چنان نوشت که هرنوع فعالیت تروریستی «نتیجه‌ی سیاست‌های کوتاه ‌بینانه‌ی استفاده از تروریزم به‌عنوان وسیله‌ی نفوذ استراتژیک و دنبال کردن منافع ملی نادرست می‌باشد.» پرورش تروریزم، آن‌گونه که در اعلامیه وزارت خارجه افغانستان آمده است، به پرورش ماری زهرآگین می‌ماند که هر آن می‌تواند پرورش‌دهنده‌اش را نیز نیش بزند. -- افغانستان با آن‌ که بارها خواستار تعهد صادقانه‌ی پاکستان در امر مبارزه‌ی عملی با تروریزم شده است، اما دیده می‌شود که خاستگاه و پرورشگاه تروریزم با شدت تمام در خاک پاکستان تقویت می‌ شود و نه تنها افغانستان را که شهرهای مختلف پاکستان را نیز به‌شدت ناامن ساخته است. در همین حال، بارها دیده شده است که ریشه‌ی فعالیت‌های تروریستی جهانی و تهدیدهای امنیتی ناشی از تروریزم در شهر های مختلف جهان نیز به مناطق شمالی پاکستان بر می‌گردد و حکومت پاکستان نیز سالانه میلیاردها دالر را به بهانه‌ی مبارزه با تروریزم از جامعه‌ی جهانی، مخصوصآ ایالات متحده‌ی امریکا به‌دست می‌آورد. -- کشته شدن سربازان ارتش ملی افغانستان درست زمانی اتفاق می‌افتد که حکومت افغانستان در جلسات متعدد با مقامات پاکستانی از مبارزه‌ی مشترک با پدیده‌ی تروریزم حرف می‌زند و در آخرین مورد نیز، در مجلسی که میان رییس‌جمهور کرزی و اسحاق دار، وزیر مالیه‌ی پاکستان، دو روز پیش برگزار شد، رئیس ‌جمهور کرزی بر منافع و تهدیدات مشترک اشاره کرد و از این مقام پاکستانی خواست تا منافع مشترک دو کشور را برای مبارزه با تروریزم و افراط‌گرایی دریابند. - More, ۸ صبح, at:

Top 10 breast cancer-fighting foods --- Almonds - Add these antioxidant foods to your diet to help prevent breast and other cancers. -- A great source of monounsaturated fats. Researchers in Stockholm found that women who consume monounsaturated fat may have a lower risk of breast cancer than those who eat other kinds of fat. - More, MSN, at:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Taliban Raid Afghan Army Base, Killing Soldiers in Their Sleep --- ASADABAD, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents overran an Afghan National Army base near here on Sunday morning, killing 21 soldiers in their bunks in what appeared to be the worst single blow to government forces since 2010, according to both government and insurgent officials. -- President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation and canceled a planned state visit to Sri Lanka in response to the attack, in the Ghaziabad district of Kunar Province, near the eastern border with Pakistan. -- The attack highlighted the vulnerability of Afghan military units, which are generally no longer accompanied by American or other NATO advisers and do not have the close air support they often enjoyed. And it raised questions about the Afghans’ ability to hold out against the insurgents on their own as the NATO mission winds down and international forces prepare to leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014. -- At the same time, there were new signals that efforts to start peace talks with the insurgents were foundering. In an unusual statement released Sunday, the Taliban acknowledged that it had suspended talks with the Americans aimed at a prisoner exchange: the release of five Taliban prisoners held at the Guantánamo Bay prison camp in exchange for the lone American prisoner of war held by the Taliban, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. -- A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, said that the talks had taken place with the mediation of Qatar, but that the insurgents had broken them off because of the “complicated political situation” in Afghanistan. He did not elaborate, but might have been referring to the current presidential campaign or to Mr. Karzai’s continued refusal to sign a long-term security agreement with the United States. -- Although the security deal was agreed to last year, Mr. Karzai imposed additional conditions, including American help in promoting peace talks with the insurgents. The Qatar-mediated talks — which took place over the past two months, according to Mr. Mujahid — might have been part of that. The Taliban statement said that as part of the initiative, the insurgents had handed over a video showing that Sergeant Bergdahl was alive. -- The governor of Kunar Province, Shuja al-Mulk Jalala, said it appeared that infiltrators had let the Taliban insurgents into the base around 4 a.m., and that most of those who died had been killed in their sleep. Mr. Jalala put the death toll at 20, with eight other soldiers reported to have been taken prisoner by the insurgents. - More, NYTimes, at:

Olympics close with tribute to Russian artists and a little self-deprecating humor --- SOCHI, Russia — The Winter Olympics closed Sunday night with all the elegance of a Fabergé egg, a glittering evening tucked full of tributes to the Russian arts, opening to reveal carefully crafted surprises, small jokes and even painful memories. -- Beyond the celebration of a rich cultural tradition, this was an evening to salute the athletes who marched so joyfully through the arena — and for Russia to proclaim it had delivered all it promised when it was elected seven years ago to host the Winter Games. -- “We did it,” Dmitry Chernyshenko, president of the Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, told a cheering crowd. “We conquered the Olympic summit. And these Games will be with us forever.” -- This, he said, was a great moment in Russian history. -- “This is the new face of Russia,” he said, “our Russia.” - More, Kathy Lally, Washingtonpost

Putin takes losses on Ukraine, but Russia still has leverage and the will to use it --- KIEV, Ukraine – Russian President Vladimir Putin had a plan for Ukraine, but it all fell apart Friday. -- So he went to Plan B: a mediated, gradual transition of power, a plan that came undone Saturday. -- Big setbacks for the Kremlin? Yes, especially given the way they intruded upon the intended public relations triumph of the Sochi Winter Olympics. But a rout? Not if Putin can help it. -- Revolution in the streets of Kiev is abhorrent to the Russian president, not least for the example it sets. Putin and his advisers have consistently misread Ukrainians’ devotion to their own sovereignty. But Russia still has a lot of leverage in Ukraine and a keen interest in using it. The cards have been reshuffled — so Putin will play the hand he has now been dealt and is unlikely to waste time or energy regretting the ones he lost. -- It is not now in Russia’s interest to keep Ukraine churning, analysts say. -- A Ukraine in continuing turmoil would make a difficult and unpredictable Russian intervention almost inevitable and make it even less likely that the country could ever pay off its huge Russian gas bills. -- “Putin fears chaos,” foreign policy journalist Fyodor Lukyanov wrote in an article published Friday. “The main driving force behind his policy towards Ukraine will be not a desire for expansion, but a desire to reduce the risk of chaos spilling into Russia.” --- “Ukraine is the most important issue on the Russian foreign policy agenda,” she said, and Russia can expect that “the West, particularly Europe, will be too slow, too reluctant” to seize the initiative. - More, Will Englund, Washingtonpost

Mecca for the rich: Islam's holiest site 'turning into Vegas' --- Over the past 10 years the holiest site in Islam has undergone a huge transformation, one that has divided opinion among Muslims all over the world. -- Once a dusty desert town struggling to cope with the ever-increasing number of pilgrims arriving for the annual Hajj, the city now soars above its surroundings with a glittering array of skyscrapers, shopping malls and luxury hotels. -- To the al-Saud monarchy, Mecca is their vision of the future – a steel and concrete metropolis built on the proceeds of enormous oil wealth that showcases their national pride. -- Yet growing numbers of citizens, particularly those living in the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, have looked on aghast as the nation's archaeological heritage is trampled under a construction mania backed by hardline clerics who preach against the preservation of their own heritage. Mecca, once a place where the Prophet Mohamed insisted all Muslims would be equal, has become a playground for the rich, critics say, where naked capitalism has usurped spirituality as the city's raison d'être. -- Few are willing to discuss their fears openly because of the risks associated with criticising official policy in the authoritarian kingdom. And, with the exceptions of Turkey and Iran, fellow Muslim nations have largely held their tongues for fear of of a diplomatic fallout and restrictions on their citizens' pilgrimage visas. Western archaeologists are silent out of fear that the few sites they are allowed access to will be closed to them. -- But a number of prominent Saudi archaeologists and historians are speaking up in the belief that the opportunity to save Saudi Arabia's remaining historical sites is closing fast. --- "No one has the balls to stand up and condemn this cultural vandalism," says Dr Irfan al-Alawi who, as executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, has fought in vain to protect his country's historical sites. "We have already lost 400-500 sites. I just hope it's not too late to turn things around." -- Sami Angawi, a renowned Saudi expert on the region's Islamic architecture, is equally concerned. "This is an absolute contradiction to the nature of Mecca and the sacredness of the house of God," he told the Reuters news agency earlier this year. "Both [Mecca and Medina] are historically almost finished. You do not find anything except skyscrapers." -- Dr Alawi's most pressing concern is the planned £690m expansion of the Grand Mosque, the most sacred site in Islam which contains the Kaaba – the black stone cube built by Ibrahim (Abraham) that Muslims face when they pray. -- Construction officially began earlier this month with the country's Justice Minister, Mohammed al-Eissa, exclaiming that the project would respect "the sacredness and glory of the location, which calls for the highest care and attention of the servants or Islam and Muslims". -- The 400,000 square metre development is being built to accommodate an extra 1.2 million pilgrims each year and will turn the Grand Mosque into the largest religious structure in the world. But the Islamic Heritage Foundation has compiled a list of key historical sites that they believe are now at risk from the ongoing development of Mecca, including the old Ottoman and Abbasi sections of the Grand Mosque, the house where the Prophet Mohamed was born and the house where his paternal uncle Hamza grew up. - More, Jerome Taylor - Independent, at:

Saudi Arabia to raze Prophet Mohammed’s tomb to build larger mosque --- The key Islamic heritage site, including Prophet Mohammed’s shrine, is to be bulldozed, as Saudi Arabia plans a $ 6 billion expansion of Medina’s holy Masjid an-Nabawi Mosque. However, Muslims remain silent on the possible destruction. -- ­Work on the Masjid an-Nabawi in Medina, is planned to start as soon as the annual Hajj pilgrimage comes to a close at the end of November. -- “After the Hajj this year, in one months’ time, the bulldozers will move in and will start to demolish the last part of Mecca, the grand mosque which is at least 1,000 years old,” Dr. Irfan Alawi of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told RT. -- Concerns are growing that the expansion of Masjid an-Nabawi will come at the price of three of the world’s oldest mosques nearby, which hold the tombs of Prophet Mohammed and two of his closest companions, Abu Bakr and Umar. The expansion project which will cost 25 billion SAR (more than US $6 billion) reportedly requires razing holy sites, as old as the seventh century. -- The Saudis insist that colossal expansion of both Mecca and Medina is essential to make a way for the growing numbers of pilgrims. Both Mecca and Medina host 12 million visiting pilgrims each year and this number is expected to increase to 17 million by 2025. -- Authorities and hotel developers are working hard to keep pace, however, the expansions have cost the oldest cities their historical surroundings as sky scrapers, luxury hotels and shopping malls are being erected amongst Islamic heritage. -- A room in a hotel or apartment in a historic area may cost up to $ 500 per night. And that’s all in or near Mecca, a place where the Prophet Mohammed insisted all Muslims would be equal. --- “They just want to make a lot of money from the super-rich elite pilgrims, but for the poor pilgrims it is getting very expensive and they cannot afford it,” -- Dr. Irfan Al Alawi said. ­Jabal Omar complex – a 40 tower ensemble – is being depicted as a new pearl of Mecca. When complete, it will consist of six five star hotels, seven 39 storey residential towers offering 520 restaurants, 4, 360 commercial and retail shops. -- But to build this tourist attraction the Saudi authorities destroyed the Ottoman era Ajyad Fortress and the hill it stood on. -- The Washington-based Gulf Institute estimated that 95 percent of sacred sites and shrines in the two cities have been destroyed in the past twenty years. --- The Prophet’s birthplace was turned into a library and the house of his first wife, Khadijah, was replaced with a public toilet block. -- Also the expansion and development might threaten many locals homes, but so far most Muslims have remained silent on the issue. -- “Mecca is a holy sanctuary as stated in the Quran it is no ordinary city. The Muslims remain silent against the Saudi Wahhabi destruction because they fear they will not be allowed to visit the Kindom again,” said Dr. Al Alawi. -- The fact that there is no reaction on possible destruction has raised talks about hypocrisy because Muslims are turning a blind eye to that their faith people are going to ruin sacred sites. -- “Some of the Sunni channels based in the United Kingdom are influenced by Saudi petro dollars and dare not to speak against the destruction, but yet are one of the first to condemn the movie made by non Muslims,” Dr. Al Alawi said. - More, Edited time: February 18, 2014 - RT, at:

بنای تاریخی افغانستان در حال نابودی است --- وزیر اطلاعات و فرهنگ افغانستان در مراسم پایان نامگذاری غزنی به عنوان پایتخت فرهنگی جهان اسلام گفت که بیش از ۱۲۰۰ بنای تاریخی افغانستان در حال نابودی است. -- شهر غزنی در سال ۲۰۱۳ عنوان پایتخت فرهنگی جهان اسلام در آسیا را به خود اختصاص داد و مراسم امروز با حضور مقام‌های دولت افغانستان، دیپلمات‌های خارجی و نماینده سازمان علمی و فرهنگی کنفرانس اسلامی برگزار شد. -- سید مخدوم رهین در این مراسم گفت: "به اطلاع خواهران و برادران مسلمان‌مان در سراسر جهان برسانم که متاسفانه بر اثر حوادث طبیعی، جنگ‌ها و نابسامانی‌ها و فقدان امنیت، امروز در سراسر افغانستان، هم در غزنی و هم در سایر ولایات افغانستان، بیش از ۱۲۰۰ بنای تاریخی که بیشتر آنها مربوط به تمدن و فرهنگ اسلامی می‌شود، در حال انهدام و نابودی هستند." -- او تاکید کرد که از کشورهای اسلامی انتظار همکاری دارد، اما تا حال هیچ یک از این کشورها پاسخ مثبتی به این انتظار نداده است. او از سایر کشورهای جهان هم خواست که برای نجات این بناها، افغانستان را کمک کند. -- آقای رهین افزود: "مسلماً نابودی آنها (بناهای تاریخی)، نه تنها مایه سرافگندگی ما بلکه مایه سرافگندگی سراسر جهان متمدن است." -- دولت افغانستان در حالی مراسم پایان نامگذاری پایتخت فرهنگی جهان اسلام را در شهر غزنی برگزار کرد که انتقادهای زیادی به دلیل آنچه که کم‌کاری در این شهر عنوان می‌شود، مطرح شده‌است. -- در یک سالی که این عنوان به شهر غزنی اختصاص یافته‌بود، برنامه‌های زیادی برای بازسازی بناهای تاریخی به ویژه بناهای عصر غزنویان و بهبود امور فرهنگی این شهر در نظر گرفته شد، ولی بیشتر آنها به دلیل ناامنی و نبود منابع مالی لازم یا عدم هماهنگی درست، به اجرا گذاشته نشد. -- غزنی به عنوان یکی از بزرگترین مراکز فرهنگ و تمدن در منطقه، همواره باعث افتخار مردم افغانستان و به‌ویژه اهالی غزنی بوده است. -- این شهر در سده‌های چهارم و پنجم هجری پایتخت سلسله غزنویان بود که قلمرو گسترده‌ای از ایران و آسیای میانه تا شبه قاره هند را تحت کنترل خود داشت. -- حامد کرزی رئیس جمهوری افغانستان در پیامی که به این مراسم فرستاد، نوشت: "غزنی پایتخت شاهنشاهی غزنویان در قرنهای چهارم و پنجم هجری یکی از بزرگترین کانون‌های علم و فرهنگ و ادب در دنیای اسلام بود. حضور صدها شاعر، نویسنده، هنرمند، ستاره‌شناس و فیلسوف، این شهر را به مرکز انتقال علوم و معارف اسلامی و به ویژه خراسانی مبدل کرد." -- او تاکید کرد: "این افتخار بزرگ نه تنها برای مردم خراسان، یعنی افغانستان امروز است، بلکه برای همه مسلمین جهان است. بنا بر همین جایگاه بلند غزنه در گسترش فرهنگ و معارف اسلامی بود که سازمان علمی و فرهنگی سازمان کنفرانس اسلامی عنوان پایتخت فرهنگی جهان اسلام را در سال ۲۰۱۳ به این شهر بخشید." -- More, BBC,

U.S. considers options that would leave troops in Kabul --- One of the four options President Obama is considering for a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan beyond this year would leave behind 3,000 troops, based in Kabul and at the existing U.S. installation at Bagram, U.S. officials said. -- Military commanders have recommended a far more expansive 10,000 troops, with more installations across the country. But the military has spent the past several months studying what kind of reduced counterterrorism and training operations it could conduct under the smaller option, which is favored by some in the White House. -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel plans to brief NATO defense ministers in Brussels this week on the status of U.S. decision making. A senior administration official said that no announcement of specific troop numbers was planned but added that “we’ll have to tell people where we stand in our thinking and planning.” -- During a December visit to Kabul, Hagel suggested the late-February NATO meeting was a “cutoff point” for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the bilateral security agreement that sets out the terms for an ongoing U.S. presence. Although the accord was finalized in the fall, Karzai has since refused to sign it, leaving the administration to delay its decision on numbers while threatening a complete pullout when the last combat troops leave at the end of 2014. -- “Nothing’s changed about our desire to get . . . [an] agreement, because without one, we’re going to have to start planning for a complete withdrawal,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John F. Kirby said Thursday. -- Conversations with Karzai over the agreement have largely ceased, one U.S. official said. “We’ve taken the position that we shouldn’t harass him anymore, because it doesn’t get us anywhere,” the official said. Instead, administration officials are in close contact with leading candidates for Afghanistan’s April elections to replace Karzai, all of whom have said they would sign the agreement. --- Under the 10,000-troop option, U.S. forces would remain in Kabul, Kandahar, Bagram and Jalalabad until the end of 2015, with 5,000 NATO and other international troops based in the northern and western parts of the country as part of a combined NATO mission called Resolute Support. -- A second option would base a somewhat smaller number of U.S. troops in Kabul and Bagram until 2016, with authorization to travel across the country to train and advise Afghan forces as needed. Under the proposals, Option 1 could also merge into Option 2, with the entire force scheduled to leave by the end of Obama’s term in office. -- The 3,000 troops under Option 3 would be restricted to Kabul and Bagram, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity about administration decision making. A portion of the existing Bagram air base ideally would be available for military use to operate drone aircraft, but troops would not travel across the country. It could not be determined how long the troops would remain. -- The fourth and final option calls for a complete U.S. withdrawal, a prospect for which the White House sees little immediate political fallout. Washington Post polls have shown that a majority of Americans believe the war was not worth fighting — 66 percent in a December survey. A Gallup poll this month indicated that for the first time since the conflict began in 2001, the number of Americans who believe U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan was a mistake is equal to the number who say it was not. - More, Karen DeYoung, Washingtonpost

Afghan soldiers die as Taliban attack checkpoint in Kunar --- Taliban fighters have killed 21 Afghan soldiers in an attack on a checkpoint in Kunar province close to Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. -- At least one of the attackers was also killed and the Taliban told the BBC they had captured seven soldiers. -- Kunar Governor Shuja Ul Mulk told the BBC it was possible that Taliban infiltrators in the army had helped organise the attack. -- Mr Karzai's office said in a statement: "The Afghan president is saddened by this tragic incident, and therefore he postponed today's official trip to Sri Lanka." -- The government also confirmed that soldiers were missing, but put the number at six. -- Casualties among Afghan troops have been rising significantly since they took the lead in the war against the Taliban. - More, BBC, at:

20 ANA soldiers killed in Kunar attack --- ABUL (Pajhwok): At least 20 Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were killed early Sunday morning when militants stormed their check-post in eastern Kunar province, officials said. -- A group of Afghan and foreign insurgents mounted the attack on ANA's Sher Ghashi check-post in Tunk area. Governor Shujaul Mulk Jalala said 20 soldiers were killed and eight others kidnapped. -- He added one of the missing soldiers had links with the Taliban. An investigation has been launched into the assault, the governor said, adding a cleanup operation was ongoing. -- Abdul Ghani Musamim, the Kunar governor's spokesman, said the predawn incident took place in Ghaziabad district at around 3:00 am. -- Meanwhile, the insurgent group claimed responsibility for the brazen attack, saying a large number of soldiers had been killed and eight others kidnapped. - More, at:

Drought-hit farmers in California won't get federal water --- FRESNO, Calif. -- Federal officials announced Friday that many California farmers caught in the state's drought can expect to receive no irrigation water this year from a vast system of rivers, canals and reservoirs interlacing the state. -- The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released its first outlook of the year, saying that the agency will continue to monitor rain and snow fall, but the grim levels so far prove that the state is in the throes of one of its driest periods in recorded history. -- Unless the year turns wet, many farmers can expect to receive no water from the federally run Central Valley Project. Central Valley farmers received only 20 percent of their normal water allotment last year and were expecting this year's bad news. Some communities and endangered wildlife that rely on the federal water source will also suffer deep cuts. -- "We will monitor the hydrology as the water year progresses and continue to look for opportunities to exercise operational flexibility," Reclamation Commissioner Michael L. Connor said in a written statement, noting that the state's snowpack is at 29 percent of average for this time of year. -- Gov. Jerry Brown last month declared California's drought emergency, and both state and federal officials have pledged millions of dollars to help with water conservation and food banks for those put out of work by the drought. -- California officials who manage the State Water Project, the state's other major water system, have already said they won't be releasing any water for farmers, marking a first in its 54-year history. - More, CBS, at:

Afghan Leader Postpones Sri Lanka Visit Over Killing of Soldiers --- KABUL — Afghan President Hamid Karzai postponed on Sunday a planned visit to Sri Lanka over the killing of 19 Afghan soldiers in an assault by Taliban militants. -- "The Afghan president is saddened by this tragic incident, and therefore he postponed today's official trip to Sri Lanka," Karzai's office said in a statement. -- The government also confirmed that six soldiers were missing after the attack in the eastern province of Kunar, long a stronghold of Taliban, al Qaeda and other militants. Earlier, a spokesman for the governor of Kunar said that seven soldiers had been captured by the Taliban in the attack. - More, REUTERS

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Top official says Chinese security depends on Afghan stability --- (Reuters) - China urged its neighbour Afghanistan on Saturday to embrace an inclusive political solution to its long-running conflict during a rare visit by a top Chinese official, who said the very security of his own country's western regions depended on -- Foreign Minister Wang Yi was due to meet President Hamid Karzai during his visit, which coincides with preparations by U.S. and allied troops to draw down their forces after more than 12 years of fighting Taliban extremists. -- China, which shares a short border with Afghanistan in the country's mountainous north-eastern corridor, has become increasingly concerned about security in its western region of Xinjiang, where it says Muslim extremists receive help from militants in neighbouring countries. -- "The peace and stability of this country has an impact on the security of western China, and more importantly, it affects the tranquillity and development of the entire region," Wang told a news conference alongside his Afghan counterpart, Zarar Ahmad Osmani. -- "We hope to see a broad-based and inclusive political reconciliation in Afghanistan as soon as possible, and China will play a constructive role to facilitate that...A divided country will have no future." -- Wang last visited Kabul in early 2002 when he was vice foreign minister and reopened China's embassy after the fall of the Islamist Taliban government. -- His visit coincides with a time of transition for Afghanistan, ahead of both the year-end deadline for the pull-out of foreign troops and an April presidential election. -- Eleven candidates, representing different ethnic, tribal and religious groups, are competing to replace Karzai, who has served two terms as Afghanistan's elected president. All pledge to end decades of civil war and insurgent conflict. -- China has been stepping up its engagement with other regional players in recent months in Afghanistan, Beijing-based diplomats say, mainly out of concern that the NATO-led force's pullout may spawn instability that could spill into Xinjiang. -- "They're taking a lot of initiative," said a Beijing-based diplomat who follows China's relations with Afghanistan, speaking on condition of anonymity. "They're worried about what will happen in Xinjiang." -- Plans by the United States and its allies to keep a small force in Afghanistan to bolster Afghan forces against the Taliban have run up against Karzai's refusal to sign an accord authorising the post-2014 foreign troop presence. -- The Taliban and its Pakistan-based leadership show no signs of renouncing their guerrilla campaign to regain control of Afghanistan. Karzai's government has had little success pursuing peace talks with the Taliban to produce a political solution. -- Chinese President Xi Jinping met Karzai on the sidelines of this month's Sochi Winter Olympics, where Xi pledged help for reconstruction and urged Kabul to create a "safe environment for bilateral cooperation," according to Chinese state media. -- Xi said China wanted greater cooperation to fight extremism, saying that "the fate of Afghanistan will be more closely linked with that of the region after 2014". -- Xinjiang, with its large Muslim minority, has risen up China's domestic security agenda since a vehicle ploughed into tourists on Beijing's Tiananmen Square last October, killing three people in the car and two bystanders. Authorities blamed the incident on extremists from the province. - More, Mirwais Harooni

Ukraine’s Leader Flees the Capital; Elections Are Called --- KIEV, Ukraine — Abandoned by his own guards and reviled across the Ukrainian capital but still determined to recover his shredded authority, President Viktor F. Yanukovych fled Kiev on Saturday to denounce what he called a violent coup, as his official residence, his vast, colonnaded office complex and other once impregnable centers of power fell without a fight to throngs of joyous citizens stunned by their triumph. -- As President Yanukovych’s nemesis, former Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko, was released from a penitentiary hospital, Parliament found the president unable to fulfill his duties and exercised its constitutional powers to set an election for May 25 to select his replacement. But with both President Yanukovych and his Russian patrons speaking of a “coup” carried out by “bandits” and “hooligans,” it was far from clear that the day’s lightning-quick events were the last act in a struggle that has not just convulsed Ukraine but expanded into an East-West confrontation reminiscent of the Cold War. - More, NYTimes, at:

U.N. Security Council unanimously approves Syria aid access resolution --- (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution to boost humanitarian access in Syria that threatens to take "further steps" in the case of non-compliance, demands cross-border aid access and condemns rights abuses by the Syrian government and opposition armed groups. -- Russia and China, which have shielded Syria's government on the 15-member Security Council during the country's three-year-long civil war, voted in favor of the resolution. They had previously vetoed three resolutions that would have condemned Syria's government and threatened it with possible sanctions. -- "This resolution should not have been necessary. Humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated; it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council. -- "Profoundly shocking to me is that both sides are besieging civilians as a tactic of war," he said after the vote. -- The resolution asks Ban to report back to the council in 30 days on the implementation of the resolution and "expresses its intent to take further steps in the case of non-compliance." Diplomats say Russia is unlikely to agree to any action against Assad's government if is it found to be in non-compliance. -- The United Nations says 9.3 million people need help and that well over 100,000 people have been killed in the civil war. The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that more than 136,000 have been killed since a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. -- The resolution "demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for U.N. humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across borders." - More, at:

Ukraine parliament removes Yanukovich, who flees Kiev in 'coup' --- (Reuters) - Ukraine's parliament voted on Saturday to remove President Viktor Yanukovich, who abandoned his Kiev office to protesters and denounced what he described as a coup after a week of fighting in the streets of the capital. -- Parliament also freed his arch-nemesis, former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who walked free from the hospital where she had been jailed, completing a radical transformation in the former Soviet republic of 46 million people. -- The apparent toppling of the pro-Russian leader, after bloodshed in Kiev that saw 77 people killed and the center of the capital transformed into an inferno, looks likely to pull Ukraine away from Moscow's orbit and closer to Europe. -- It is also a stark reversal for Russian President Vladimir Putin's dream of recreating as much as possible of the Soviet Union in a new Eurasian Union, in which Moscow had counted on Yanukovich to deliver Ukraine as a central member. -- Members of the Ukrainian parliament, which decisively abandoned Yanukovich after this week's bloodshed, stood, applauded and sang the national anthem after it declared the president constitutionally unable to carry out his duties and set an early election for May 25. -- "This is a political knockout," opposition leader and retired world boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko told reporters. -- Moments later, opposition leader Tymoshenko, 53, waved to supporters from a car as she was driven out of the hospital in the northeastern city of Kharkiv, where she has been treated for a bad back while serving a seven-year sentence since 2011. -- In a television interview which the station said was also conducted in Kharkiv, Yanukovich said he would not resign or leave the country, and called decisions by parliament "illegal". -- "The events witnessed by our country and the whole world are an example of a coup d'etat," he said, comparing it to the rise of the Nazis to power in Germany in the 1930s. He said he had also come under fire. "My car was shot at. I am not afraid. I feel sorrow for my country," he told UBR television. -- Ukraine's parliamentary speaker said Yanukovich had been prevented from boarding a plane to Russia and was now in the Donetsk region, Interfax news agency reported. - More, at:

Obama meets Dalai Lama at White House despite Chinese objections --- China demanded that President Obama cancel a meeting Friday with the Dalai Lama, but it went ahead as scheduled at the White House, albeit in low-key fashion. -- Ignoring Beijing’s warning that the meeting would severely harm U.S.-China relations, Obama met with the Tibetan spiritual leader in the Map Room of the White House. It was the president’s third such meeting with the Dalai Lama and the first of his second term. Obama last met the Dalai Lama in July 2011. -- Each meeting has drawn severe criticism from China, which considers the Dalai Lama an anti-China separatist. --- “The Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long been engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday in a statement before the White House meeting. “By arranging a meeting between the president and the Dalai Lama, the U.S. side will grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China, seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-U.S. relations.” -- In a news release about the meeting, the White House said Obama “reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China.” -- It said Obama “expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s ‘Middle Way’ approach” of seeking neither assimilation nor independence for Tibetans. Obama encouraged “direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences” between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, while restating the U.S. position that Tibet is part of China and that “the United States does not support Tibet independence,” the White House news release said. -- “The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government will resume,” the summary of the meeting said. - More, Washingtonpost

فردا «غزنی ۲۰۱۳» برگزار می‌شود --- قرار است روز یک‌شنبه، چهارم حوت، جشنواره نهایی «غزنی ۲۰۱۳»، با حضور نزدیک به شش هزار مهمان تحت تدابیر شدید امنیتی با راه‌اندازی برنامه‌های ویژه‌ فرهنگی و عنعنوی در شهر غزنی برگزار شود. -- غزنی در سال ۲۰۰۷ میلادی از سوی سازمان آموزشی، علمی و فرهنگی کشورهای اسلامی به‌عنوان مرکز تمدن کشورهای اسلامی برای سال ۲۰۱۳ انتخاب و این ولایت رسما در بیست‌وچهارم حمل سال جاری خورشیدی به مرکز تمدن کشورهای اسلامی معرفی شد. -- در مراسم معرفی غزنی به‌عنوان مرکز تمدن کشورهای اسلامی که در بیست‌وچهارم حمل برگزار شد، شماری از وزرای فرهنگ کشورهای اسلامی و برخی از مقام‌های دولتی شرکت داشتند. والی غزنی می‌گوید که در جشنواره نهایی نیز از وزرای فرهنگ کشورهای اسلامی دعوت شده و احتمالا شماری از این وزیران شرکت خواهند کرد. -- هرچند غزنی نزدیک به هفت سال پیش از سوی سازمان آموزشی، علمی و فرهنگی کشورهای اسلامی، آیسسکو، برای سال ۲۰۱۳ به‌عنوان مرکز تمدن کشورهای اسلامی انتخاب شد، اما آن طوری‌که برخی از نمایندگان این ولایت در مجلس نمایندگان می‌گویند که از فرصت‌های به‌وجود آمده استفاده چندانی در راستای بازسازی و معرفی فرهنگ و تاریخ این ولایت به جهانیان صورت نگرفت. - More, روزنامه هشت صبح - at:

Afghan election “a new chapter” for Afghanistan – UN Special Envoy --- 22 February 2014 - The top United Nations official in Afghanistan described the upcoming Presidential and Provincial Council elections, slated for 5 April 2014, as “a new chapter in the life of the country,” involving not only a political transition but also a major step in developing the democratic system and bringing more stability and predictability to the nation. -- “With all the challenges, all the risks that are there, I see this as a very positive development,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Ján Kubiš in an exclusive hour-long interview with a private television channel, Tolo TV, broadcast on Friday evening [the interview was pre-recorded on 10 February 2014]. -- The head of UNAMA noted that he was “reasonably satisfied” with the preparations for the elections and pointed to a robust legal framework and the independent election institutions which were developed and created on the basis of the “clear laws” of the country. -- He underlined however the need to make sure that all electoral processes are “as clear as possible, as correct as possible, as inclusive as possible,” and spoke of the absolute necessity for the preventive measures to counter any fraudulent activities which could spoil the elections and undermine their credibility and broad acceptance. -- “We cannot expect perfect elections. First of all, in no country in the world you will find perfect election. There is always a problem here and there… But I see a very strong drive and very good quality preparations for reasonably good elections. That should be inclusive, that should be representative, that should be guided by the law, by clear action plans provided by the commissioners, clear regulations and rules,” he said. -- “At this point of time, we detect a very strong will on the side of the people, majority of the people [that they] would like to go and vote. They know how critically important the election is for the future of the country, for future stability and unity of the country,” observed Mr. Kubiš. --- We have provided money, technical advice; we have provided logistics, material support [but], as I detected, there are some misinterpretation of what has been available, of what has been provided. Very soon we will bring more clarity to this because I believe that people should know, be aware that indeed the international community has been in a very strong way supporting the work of IECC,” he said. --- “We understand very well that the environment in Afghanistan would be different with Bilateral Security Agreement as a trigger for continuous engagement of not only the United States, but [of] many other countries, some donors of Afghanistan for days to come, for their lasting commitment and for their lasting support for the Afghan National Security Forces,” said the UN Special Envoy. -- He added however that “without BSA, it doesn’t mean that the international community will disappear, but the degree of support will be different, the focus of the support will be different and definitely it will not be in such a quantity as, in my opinion, needed for the needs of Afghanistan.” --- “We have been operating here for decades [at the invitation of the Government of Afghanistan], and we assume we will be asked to continue our operations and support Afghanistan for many years to come in many areas, [including] education, health care, agriculture, women’s rights,” said Mr. Kubiš. -- Another part of UNAMA’s mandate, he added is “to provide good offices and facilitation and continue steps and other measures to facilitate peace and reconciliation if that would be the wishes of the Afghans.” -- “We are here [in Afghanistan], strongly engaged and will remain strongly engaged also in the future,” concluded the Secretary-General’s Special Representative. - More, UNAMA - at:

Friday, February 21, 2014

Afghanistan: Reaching In and Reaching Out --- The media portrayal of Afghanistan hardly comes close to imparting a sense of what this country is like. Endless articles report on the most recent bomb blasts and threats to human rights improvements. These articles are often accurate, but they never mention the good things happening every day. Such reporting is of course inherent in a war zone, but the image it paints is one of violence and despair. That is by no means the totality of Afghanistan today. Sure there are many challenges and credible threats to worry about, but most Afghans I have met during my time here remain hopeful. -- In Kabul, there are people going about their everyday lives with hardly a thought of the Taliban or what the government is up to. They are enjoying the freedoms they now have and I wonder whether they would ever allow harsh conservatism return. There are simply too many children, boys and girls, going to school, too many people opening restaurants, too many people going to the movies, too many people playing volleyball and soccer in the park. Many of my students can’t even remember the last days of the Taliban. The generation that is about to burst forth into adulthood is one raised on more education and freedoms. Once that happens there is no turning back. A few more years of the current security level should ensure their rise. Nevertheless, any optimism must contend with the terror on the ground. In a week in January, a restaurant full of both expats and Afghans was brutally assaulted, a police transport was blown to pieces, and a bus full of Afghans on their way to a wedding party were also bombed. The Taliban claimed these attacks to be retaliation for U.S. drone strikes in Parwan province that killed civilians. Their so called retribution though did not attack the U.S. military. The victims were mostly Afghan civilians and police officers, as well as expat civilians. -- These are not the actions of a liberating army poised to drive out the great and terrible foreign invaders. These are the actions of radical ruffians who show no regard for human life of any sort. With their recent attacks killing Afghans of many walks of life, most of the population do not support their actions. The Taliban are now little more than criminals. Their control in the southern rural provinces is strong, but in the north they are a despised and disregarded entity. Nevertheless there is a broader concern that their ideology has stealthily crept into the fabric of Afghan society in pernicious ways. --- The next President is likely to retain control in the fortress of Kabul despite the growing audacity of the Taliban. The primary concern in Afghanistan today is its progressively more conservative government that has been influenced by some aspects of Taliban ideology as well as widespread corruption among the secular elite. In past years, legislation such as the 2009 Law on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) and the 2010 Mineral Law provided some social and environmental considerations on their corresponding issues. The current Parliament has made bullish attempts to weaken both laws’ effectiveness. Broad assaults on such laws by the conservative majority in Parliament are no surprise. Their attempts at rollbacks have been publicly known for at least a year. The lack of response from foreign donors has emboldened this political faction and they have already stepped up their efforts even before the drawdown of foreign troops. --- Beyond the horrendous pedagogy employed by many Afghan teachers there are other major structural problems with Afghanistan’s education system. The Ministry of Education has focused largely on rapidly building schools throughout the nation. Admittedly there are several-fold more boys and girls in school today than a decade ago, but the quality of education has hardly kept pace. Textbooks are few and inadequate. The books are poorly written and entirely omit important 21st century skills such as critical thinking. -- Afghan society has been ravaged by interference for better and for worse. No doubt there is plenty of blame to go around for the country’s current predicament. Yet, the next generation of Afghans will have to go beyond criticizing history and will have to both reach out and reach in to ensure that their future remains secure from internal and external threats. - MORE, Saleem Ali, National Geographic - at:

How not to repeat the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan --- WASHINGTON — Over the years, U.S. commanders in Afghanistan have paid close attention to the failed Soviet Union experience in that country as they developed their own campaign plans. -- The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 in order to prop up a friendly government. They withdrew in 1989 as the Soviet Union disintegrated, leaving the Afghan forces to take the lead in fighting an American-funded insurgency. -- John Allen, the Marine general who retired last year after serving as the top coalition commander in Afghanistan, said a study of the Soviet war in Afghanistan produced key lessons. -- "I sought to apply those in the recommendations I made ultimately to my senior leadership and the president," Allen said in a talk at the Stimson Center, a think tank in Washington. -- The key lesson: Without long term foreign support and funding, the Afghan military and government will struggle to survive. -- When the last Soviet troops departed for home they left behind a fairly competent Afghan army that was holding the American-funded mujahideen, or holy warriors, at bay, Allen said. The Soviets kept advisers with the Afghans and continued financing the military. -- It wasn't long, however, before the Soviets withdrew their advisers and then cut off funding for the Afghan forces. That spelled the end of the Afghan government. The Afghan military ran low on ammunition, food and all the supplies needed to keep a large military in the field and fighting. -- By 1992 the Soviet-backed government was overthrown and the country was plunged into a bloody civil war, setting the stage for the Taliban to assume power four years later. -- Flash forward. The United States has said it would like to keep a presence in Afghanistan beyond this year when the current combat mission ends. But Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign an agreement that would allow such a force to remain. -- Karzai's term as president ends after elections planned for April, but the future remains murky. -- And without a U.S. and coalition military presence, the international community may balk at financial commitments to support the Afghan armed forces, which will require between $4 billion and $4.5 billion in annual subsidies. -- Allen said the stability or "phase 4" part of the mission to build Afghan government capabilities and economic opportunity will take time and cost money. "We shouldn't be alarmed at it and I don't think we should be surprised at it," he said. -- "In Afghanistan the Phase 4 piece is going to go on for at least a decade," Allen said. "The question will be, will the international community remain engaged?" -- "You just don't break things and leave," he said. - Jim Michaels, USA TODAY - at:

Italy's Renzi to be sworn in Saturday after unveiling cabinet --- (Reuters) - Italian center-left leader Matteo Renzi unveiled his cabinet on Friday after formally accepting the mandate to form a government he said would remain in place until 2018. -- Renzi confirmed that OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan would take over the key economy ministry portfolio in the 16-minister cabinet, half of whom will be women. The new premier said his government would begin work immediately. -- "We're aiming to get started on things that need to be done from tomorrow morning," he told reporters after a two-and-a-half hour meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano. -- The government is expected to be sworn in formally at 11.30 a.m. (1030 GMT) on Saturday before a vote of confidence in parliament on Monday. --- At 39, Renzi will be Italy's youngest-ever prime minister, and the third in a row to reach office without winning an election. Opinion polls suggest many Italians are concerned about the lack of a mandate from voters, and questions about how he gained office could limit Renzi's ability to push through unpopular reform measures. -- Renzi, leader of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), has sketched out an ambitious agenda, promising to tackle electoral and constitutional reform, make the labour market and tax systems more efficient and overhaul the bloated public administration all within four months. - More, at:

Merkel too timid, former German chancellor Schroeder says --- (Reuters) - Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has indirectly criticized his successor Angela Merkel, suggesting she is overly cautious and does not show enough political leadership. -- Schroeder, the centre-left Social Democrat (SPD) chancellor from 1998 until Merkel defeated him in 2005, also said in an interview with Der Spiegel magazine that the conservative leader had failed to groom a successor. -- "To govern you sometimes need to have the courage to take risks," said the 69-year-old Schroeder. -- "If you only govern along the lines of 'Wait and see which way the majority is headed', that won't work in the long run. Always following the mainstream is not political leadership." -- His comments echoed criticism of Merkel heard in Germany and parts of the euro zone during the bloc's debt crisis. Despite that, Merkel remains popular at home and abroad. She won a third term last year, only the third post-war German leader to do so. -- The criticism from Schroeder, who just published a book called "Klare Worte" (Straight Talk) comes at an usual moment because his party just joined a grand coalition with Merkel's conservatives in December. -- A year ago when the SPD was still in opposition, Schroeder had praised Merkel for "leading with restraint" in Europe. But he has also criticized her for timidity on reforms. -- Schroeder warned Merkel against staying in power too long. He said he believed two four-year terms are enough for any German leader - even though he was running for a third term in 2005 when Merkel and her conservatives beat him and his SPD. -- "The pressures of the office are immense," Schroeder said, adding that on top of that "the media and the public just want to see a new face at some point." -- He said Merkel would have a hard time if she runs again for a fourth term in the next election set for 2017. He said Merkel would be well-advised to look for a successor in her party. - More, at:

U.S. report says planned cuts to Afghan forces threaten stability --- (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents will increasingly threaten Afghan stability after international forces withdraw in December, and Kabul will need more troops than currently envisioned to provide basic security, according to a new independent strategy review. -- The assessment, conducted by the Center for Naval Analyses and obtained by Reuters on Thursday, warned that plans to shrink the size of the Afghan National Security Force to 228,500 from the current 382,000 would put the U.S. policy of preventing the country from becoming a safe haven for extremists "at risk." -- "We recommend that the international community establish a new plan to fund and sustain the ANSF at an end strength of about 373,400, with a proportionally sized assistance mission (including advisers), through at least 2018," said the report by the center, part of a nonprofit research and analysis group. -- The 378-page CNA report, requested in a law passed by Congress, will pressure the legislature to consider additional support for Afghan forces for several more years, even as the Pentagon is facing huge cuts to its own budget. -- The Center for Naval Analyses is part of nonprofit research and analysis organization CNA. -- The United States and NATO are currently trying to finalize the shape of any international military mission that would stay in Afghanistan after December to support to Afghan troops. - More, at:

شورای متحد قوم مغول: ریئس جمهور کرزی سند امنیتی را زودتر امضا کند --- مغولی ها که در حال حاضر از اقلیت های قومی در افغانستان به حساب میایند، از رئیس جمهور کرزی می خواهند تا توافقنامه امنیتی و دفاعی با امریکا را امضا کند. شورای متحد قوم مغول روز پنجشنبه در یک گردهمایی بزرگ که صد ها تن در آن شرکت داشتند موجودیت اش را اعلام کرد. محمد طاهر عارف رئیس این شورا گفت که رئیس جمهور کرزی با ید با در نظرداشت منافع مردم توافقنامه امنیتی و دفاعی با امریکا را امضا کند: «ما برای رفع نگرانی های مردم خویش تا چه زمانی انتظار ختم سریال و بی نتیجه پیمان امنیتی را بکشیم آرزوی ما از ریاست جمهوری این است که در امضای پیمان امنیتی خیر و صلاح مردم و حکم دین و اسلام و آینده مردم افغانستان باید حرمت بگذارد و به این جریان خاتمه بخشد.» -- وی هم چنان گفت، اقوام مغول به کسی رای خواهند داد که در حکومت آینده توجه زیاد به این قوم داشته باشد. رئیس این شورا گفت، قبیله های مغول، تاتار، چغتایی، بابری، تیموریان، قرلق و سایر قبیله ها اعضای این شورا می باشند. مسوولین شورای متحد مغول می گویند افراد وابسته به این قوم به حدود سه میلیون نفر میرسد که در ولایات مختلف افغانستان زنده گی می کنند. -- سوی دیگر مسعوده کروخی یک عضو ولسی جرگه افغانستان و یکی از شرکت کننده گان این گردهمایی به رادیو آزادی گفت، هر نوع تاخیر در امضای توافقنامه امنیتی و دفاعی سبب خواهد شد تا افغانستان به مشکلات امنیتی و اقتصادی رو برو گردد: «یک کشور آسیب پذیر در شرایط فعلی که هر لحظه خطرات ما را تهدید می کند و در آستانه انتخابات هم قرار داریم خدای ناخواسته اگر مناسبات ما از این هم وخیم تر می شود ما به طرف یک بحران دیگر می رویم و اعتماد جامعه جهانی راهم از دست میدهیم.» --- اما رئیس جمهور کرزی همواره تاکید کرده است که توافقنامه امنیتی و دفاعی با امریکا را به شرط امضا خواهد کرد که پروسه صلح عملاً در افغانستان آغاز شده و به تلاشی خانه های مردم از سوی نیروهای بین المللی خاتمه داده شود. - روزنامه هشت صبح

Thursday, February 20, 2014

dailykos - Fortifying NATO airbases in Afghanistan vs siege & the Dien Bien Phu scenario --- Niccolo Caldararo in "Afghanistan the U.S.'s Dien Bien Phu?" suggest that the USA in Afghanistan was repeating the mistakes of the French in Vietnam in 1954 when the French airbase at Dien Bien Phu was overrun by the Viet Minh. -- This reply explains why the USA and NATO allies need to keep airbases in Afghanistan after the end of 2014 and what sort of political and military leadership it will take to hold those airbases against all foes and therefore avoid the Dien Bien Phu scenario. --- The goal of keeping airbases in Afghanistan is to use them to launch drones, air-raids and other air-power missions against our enemies in Pakistan - Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and their sponsors - the Pakistani military intelligence service - the Inter-Services Intelligence - the "ISI" - a state-within-a-state which operates outside the supervision of the elected government and which serves a hidden military dictatorship. -- The evidence for Pakistan's secret terrorist war against the West can be viewed in the BBC's "SECRET PAKISTAN" videos. - More, Peter Dow, at:

عدم پرداخت معاشات پولیس، پیامد های بد خواهد داشت --- شماری از سربازان پولیس محلی در ولایت فاریاب میگویند که از پنج ماه به این سو معاش، دریافت نکرده اند. این سربازان میگویند که آنها در ولسوالی های المار و قیصار ولایت فاریاب و ولسوالی غورماچ ولایت بادغیس، در مقابل طالبان مبارزه میکنند اما دولت به آزمون های توجه ندارد که آنها با آن مواجه هستند. این سربازان تاکید دارند، با آنکه زمستان سخت را سپری میکنند تا هنوز برای آنها لباس های زمستانی، مواد سوخت و غذایی از سوی حکومت تهیه نشده است. این نیرو ها میگویند که مجبور اند در بسیاری اوقات برای بدست آوردن پول، در بیرون از قطعات به کار های دیگر مشغول شوند. -- یکی از این سربازان به رادیو آشنا صدای امریکا گفت: "مشکلات ما همین است که پنج ماه میشود معاش نگرفتیم، در خط اول قرار داریم، اینجا زیاد جنگ میشود، پنجصد تا هزار طالب حمله میکند و ما بسیار کشته دادیم." اما عبدالرحمان رحیمی قوماندان امنیه ولایت بلخ که مسئولیت عملیاتی نیرو های پولیس شمال را به عهده دارد می گوید، از اینکه معاشات پولیس و اردو از کمک های بین المللی تامین میشود شاید در تادیه آن تأخیر صورت گرفته باشد. او می افزاید: "معاش موضوع تخنیکی است هیچ امکان ندارد که بر وقت و زمان معین برسد." -- در همین حال توریالی ابدالی قوماندان پولیس ولایت فاریاب با تائید این مشکل میگوید که معاشات برخی از نیرو های پولیس ملی پرداخت شده است و در باره شکایات پولیس محلی هیأتی نیز تعین شده است تا این موضوع را با جدیدت پیگیری کنند. آقای ابدالی می گوید: "به تمام بخش های تامیناتی و لوژیستیکی وظیفه سپردیم تا در هر جای که از لحاظ معیشت اعاشوی مشکلاتی وجود دارد، فوراً مرفوع شود." - More, صدای امریکا

New study casts doubt on West's Afghan plan --- WASHINGTON (AP) -- A new assessment of Afghanistan's future says the country could revert to a terrorist haven unless U.S. and international partners underwrite a larger - and more expensive - Afghan security force than is currently planned beyond 2014. -- The study released Thursday also concludes that this larger force and the government ministries to support it will require international trainers and advisers at least through 2018. U.S. military commanders have recommended such a role following the withdrawal of all U.S. and NATO combat troops in December, but the Obama administration has not yet committed to it. -- The study was ordered by the Congress and conducted by CNA Strategic Studies, a federally funded research group. -- It describes in detail what is at stake for the U.S. at an important juncture of the war, which was launched by President George W. Bush in response to the 9/11 attacks orchestrated by al-Qaida, then based in Afghanistan. -- President Barack Obama is weighing his options in Afghanistan, aware of the American public's war-weariness as well as the risks of failing to ensure that Afghanistan does not once more become a sanctuary for al-Qaida. -- The U.S. currently has about 33,600 troops in Afghanistan, down from a high of 100,000 in 2010. -- U.S. and coalition combat operations are to end by Dec. 31, but the international military presence beyond that is still in doubt. Obama has said the U.S. might keep some troops there for counterterrorism and training missions, but that cannot happen unless the Afghan government signs a security accord that establishes the legal basis for a continued U.S. presence. -- President Hamid Karzai negotiated terms of the security deal last year but has refused to sign it, and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an Associated Press interview Thursday that he believes Karzai will not sign it before he leaves office following presidential elections scheduled for April. --- A central recommendation of Thursday's report on the outlook for Afghan security beyond 2014 is that planned steep reductions in the size of Afghan army and police forces not be carried out as currently envisioned by NATO. -- In deciding at their May 2012 summit meeting to reduce Afghan forces to 228,500 troops, NATO leaders assumed that by 2015 the Taliban would pose a much diminished threat.-- "Our threat assessment finds this assumption to be faulty," the report said. It described the Taliban as weakened but still a viable threat to the Afghan government. -- The Afghan forces currently stand at about 352,000, plus another 30,000 members of an auxiliary known as the Afghan National Police. Thursday's report recommended a minimum base force of 344,300, plus 29,100 auxiliary forces. It said this might cost roughly $5 billion to $6 billion a year to sustain - nearly all of which would have to be contributed by the international community. -- NATO put the price tag of its envisioned smaller force of 228,500 at $4.1 billion a year. -- Asked about the CNA report, a spokesman for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he remains supportive of the smaller force that NATO leaders agreed to in 2012. The spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said the Pentagon is still digesting details of the report and is not ready to discuss it publicly. -- The report sketched a scenario in which the Taliban would seek to capitalize on the absence of foreign combat forces and press its campaign to regain political power in Kabul. -- "History suggests that the Taliban will use sanctuaries in Pakistan to regenerate their capabilities as military pressure on the movement declines," the report said. -- As a first step, in 2015-16, the Taliban may put additional pressure on Afghan security forces in rural areas, expand their control and influence in areas vacated this year by coalition forces, encircle key cities and conduct high-profile attacks in urban areas, the report said. By 2016-18, after recovering from the military pounding it has taken in recent years from U.S. and coalition forces, the Taliban may be in position to press a more aggressive and intense military campaign - beyond what NATO has assumed is likely. -- The report also says the U.S. will need to keep pressure on what remains of al-Qaida inside of Afghanistan in order to prevent it from becoming a significant future threat. It said small numbers of al-Qaida members are still active in the remote valleys of northeastern Afghanistan - an assessment shared by U.S. intelligence agencies. -- It said these al-Qaida remnants do not pose an imminent threat to the U.S., and "so long as adequate pressure is maintained via U.S. and Afghan counterterrorism operations, the group is unlikely to regenerate the capability to become a substantial threat in the 2015-2018 timeframe." - ROBERT BURN, Associated Press

Obama under fire for backtracking on trims to Social Security --- President Obama is under fire from Republicans for backtracking on proposed Social Security and other benefit cuts in his upcoming budget proposal. -- The White House confirmed Thursday that the president’s forthcoming budget blueprint would no longer contain what had been a central component of his long-term debt-reduction strategy. In years past, Obama had offered to trim cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefit programs – known as chained CPI. Not anymore. --- Liberal groups and lawmakers had been mobilizing against the proposed cuts, which reflect a different way for the government to calculate inflation. -- On Feb. 14, 16 senators wrote a letter to President Obama asking that he not go forward with the trims. -- “These are tough times for our country. With the middle class struggling and more people living in poverty than ever before, we urge you not to propose cuts in your budget to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits – cuts which would make life even more difficult for some of the most vulnerable people in America,” they wrote. -- The letter also states “Social Security has not contributed one penny to the deficit.” -- Asked about the forthcoming budget plan, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that the general offer from Obama “remains on the table” if proposals like closing tax loopholes are also considered. -- “The president was willing to step forward and put on the table a concrete proposal. Unfortunately Republicans refused to even consider the possibility of raising some revenue by closing some loopholes that benefit only the wealthy and well connected,” Earnest said. - More, FoxNews, at:

نیکزاد: رسنۍ باید دانتخاباتي مبارزو اړوند، خپرونو کې توازن په پام کې ونیسي --- دافغانستان دانتخاباتو دخپلواک کمیسیون درسنیو کمیسیون له ټولو رسنیو وغوښتل چې، دانتخاباتي مبارزو اړوند، خپرونو کې بې طرفي او توازن په پام کې ونیسي. ددې کمیسیون چارواکو دچهارشنبې په ورځ خبریالانو ته وویل، رسنۍ دې هڅه وکړي چې دجمهوري ریاست دکاندیدانو په مناظرو کې، ټولو کاندیدانو ته یوشان برخه ورکړي. فیفا یا دافغانستان دآزادو او عادلانه انتخاباتو بنسټ هم دا مساله مهمه بولي او وایي، رسنۍ باید په دې برخه کې دژورنالیزم اصول په پام کې ونیسي. دافغانستان دانتخاباتو دخپلواک کمیسیون درسنیو کمیسیون یوځل بیا پرټولو رسنیو غږ وکړ چې، دانتخاباتي مبارزو اړوند خبرونو، راپورونو، مناظرو او مرکو کې دې، بشپړه بې طرفي مراعات کړي. -- ددې کمیسیون رئیسې فریدې نیکزاد دچهارشنبې په ورځ په کابل کې خبریالانو ته وویل، رسنۍ باید هڅه وکړي چې دجمهوري ریاست دکاندیدانو دمناظرو په تنظیمولو کې ټولو کاندیدانو ته برابر حق ورکړي: "موږ له خپلو رسنیو هیله لرو، چې دتصویب شوې لایحې سره سم عمل وکړي او بې پرې اوسي. ځیني رسنۍ مو ولیدې چې په مناظرو کې یي یو شمېر کاندیدان ځانګړي، هیله ده ټولو کاندیدانو ته مساوي حق ورکړل شي. کوم کاندیدان چې په مناظرو کې یي تر اوسه برخه نه ده اخیستی باید مناظرې ورته تنظیم او خپرې شي." -- میرمن نیکزاد وویل، داین سایډ په نامه له یوې بهرنۍ کمپنۍ سره تړون شوی چې دافغانستان په مرکز او ولایتونو کې درسنیو له خوا دانتخاباتي مبارزو په اړه، خپرونې څارل کېږي. دانتخاباتو دخپلواک کمیسیون درسنیو کمیسیون چارواکو دا هم وویل، رسنۍ باید له کاندیدانو دا ژمنه واخلي چې په مناظرو او له دوي سره په مرکو کې، داسې موضوعګانې مطرح نه کړي چې، ژبني، قومي مذهبي او سیمې ییزې ستونزې وزیږوي. ددې کمیسیون چارواکو دا هم وویل، ټولو رسنیو ته په دې هکله لارښوونې شوي او هیله ده چې سرغړونې ترې ونه شي. - More, دآزادی رادیو

Homeland Security warns airlines of new threat --- The Homeland Security Department has warned airlines that terrorists could try to hide explosives in shoes. It’s the second time in less than three weeks that the government has issued a warning about possible attempts to smuggle explosives onto a commercial jetliner. -- Homeland Security said Wednesday it regularly shares relevant information with domestic and international partners, but it declined to discuss specifics of a warning sent to airlines. -- “Our security apparatus includes a number of measures, both seen and unseen, informed by the latest intelligence and as always DHS continues to adjust security measures to fit an ever evolving threat environment,” the department said in a statement. -- A U.S. intelligence official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly said the DHS released a notice to airlines reiterating that liquids, shoes and certain cosmetics were of concern. All are covered under existing Transportation Security Administration security policies. -- The latest warning was focused on flights headed to the United States from abroad. -- This month, Homeland Security warned airlines with flights to Russia to be on the lookout for explosive devices possibly hidden inside toothpaste containers. The Transportation Security Administration then banned passengers from bringing any liquids in their carry-on luggage on nonstop flights from the United States to Russia. That warning became public just days before the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Sochi. --- Air passengers in the United States have had to take off their shoes at airport security checkpoints since shortly after Richard Reid tried to ignite explosives hidden in his shoes on a Miami-bound flight in late 2001. Reid pleaded guilty to terrorism charges and is serving a life sentence. - More, Associated Press, - Washingtonpost

WhatsApp-ening to Your Privacy and Security on Facebook? --- As reported earlier, Facebook plans to acquire WhatsApp, a mobile messaging service with about 450 million users, for $12 billion in Facebook stock, $4 billion in cash, and $3 billion in stock options. Now, consider that Facebook doesn't have the greatest track record regarding user privacy, and WhatsApp had its own share of security stumbles over the past year. So while the Facebook-WhatsApp deal is a cool $19 billion for the company's founders and employees, it means a whole lot of privacy headaches for the rest of us. -- Why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants WhatsApp is no mystery. Facebook is struggling in the mobile market, especially outside the United States. Buying WhatsApp lets Facebook dominate that space, especially as Google, Apple, and other companies flex their muscles to try to take over the mobile world. We don't know yet what Facebook will do with WhatsApp, but we do know the company is always pushing the privacy boundaries. -- Dutch and Canadian data protection authorities have accused WhatsApp of violating international privacy laws. The problem was that WhatsApp was harvesting personal contact details from contact lists of its users, even of those who weren't WhatsApp users. Even though WhatsApp appears to be cleaning up its act, we all—not just WhatsApp users—should be seriously concerned. - More, Fahmida Y. Rashid, at:

Department of Homeland Security cancels national license-plate tracking plan --- Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license-plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concern about the initiative. -- The order came just days after ICE solicited proposals from companies to compile a database of license-plate information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers. Officials said the database was intended to help apprehend fugitive illegal immigrants, but the plan raised concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized. -- The data would have been drawn from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, and would have been accessed only for “ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals,” officials told The Washington Post this week. -- “The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been cancelled,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement. “While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs.” - More, Washingtonpost

BREAKING: White House budget to boost spending by $56 billion, drop Boehner ‘grand bargain’ --- The White House budget to be released early next month will propose $56 billion in new spending on domestic and defense priorities and drop a proposal that was included in last year's budget as a way to attract Republican support -- a plan that would have included less generous payouts of Social Security benefits -- The budget would aim to reduce the emphasis on austerity that has been the preoccupation of American politics for the past four years and also highlights top Democratic priorities in a year when Democrats hope to save their majority in the Senate. -- A White House official said President Obama decided to release a budget that fully represents his "vision," rather than to continue to pursue a fiscal agreement, because Republicans have refused to engage in good-faith negotiations over the nation's top priorities. - More, Zachary Goldfarb, Washingtonpost

غزنی آمادۀ میزبانی جشنوارۀ ثقافت اسلامی شده --- مسئولان حکومتی در ولایت غزنی می گویند که آمادگی های لازم برای برگزاری جشنواره پایانی مرکزثقافت اسلامی در ولایت غزنی اتخاذ شده است. -- قرار است به تاریخ چهارم ماه حوت سال جاری جشنواره پایانی مرکز ثقافت اسلامی، با حضور نمایندگان سازمان یونسکو، آیسیسکو وسفرای تمامی کشورهای اسلامی طی سه روز در ولایت غزنی و کابل برگزار شود. --- معاون والی غزنی افزود که آنان برای ۲۵۰۰ تا سه هزار نفر آمادگی گرفته اند و ازتمام ولایات افغانستان نیز، ۱۰ تا ۱۵ هزار مهمان دراین مراسم دعوت شده است. -- آقای احمدی علاوه کرد:" از تمام نهادهای فرهنگی وانجمن ها در ولایات افغانستان دعوت شده است تا دراین جشنواره سه روزه صنایع دستی زنان، محصولات محلی آن ولایات وغذاهای محلی شانرا برای به نمایش گذاشتن دراین جشنواره بیاورند." --- ولایت غزنی در سال ۲۰۰۷ میلادی از سوی یونسکو به عنوان مرکز ثقافت اسلامی تعیین شده بود که در آن زمان فیصله به عمل آمد تا این شهر به گونه رسمی در سال ۲۰۱۳ میلادی مرکزتمدن وثقافت کشورهای اسلامی معرفی شود اما، به دلیل تکمیل نشدن پروژه های انکشافی و مرمت آبده های تاریخی دراین ولایت، مراسم پایانی آن به چهارم حوت سال جاری به تآخیرافتاده است. - More, VOA

Saudi-Pakistan Military Ties Getting Stronger --- WASHINGTON — Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, who is Saudi Arabia’s deputy prime minister and defense minister has just concluded an official visit to Pakistan. Some defense experts say that Saudi Arabia’s close military ties with Pakistan, though not new, now have a new dimension - namely countering the threat of a nuclear-capable Iran. -- Some security experts fear that one of the unintended consequences of international efforts to reach a nuclear deal with Iran could be to put its Gulf rival Saudi Arabia on a fast track to boost its own military capability in an unprecedented way. -- Ali Sherazi is Pakistan’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and speaking to VOA’s Deewa Radio he says Riyadh may fear a nuclear deal could end economic sanctions on Iran, enabling it to secretly pursue its ambitions. -- “Iran is seeking to be a nuclear power and Saudi Arabia as a regional power, cannot ignore this, he said.” -- With one of the largest armies in the world and the only declared nuclear power among the Muslim states, Pakistan is in a unique position to assist Saudi Arabia with its defense needs. --- “Iran is seeking to be a nuclear power and Saudi Arabia as a regional power, cannot ignore this, he said.” -- With one of the largest armies in the world and the only declared nuclear power among the Muslim states, Pakistan is in a unique position to assist Saudi Arabia with its defense needs. --- But there is no denying that the military cooperation between the two countries is strong and getting stronger. The joint statement issued Monday at the end of Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz visit says “The two sides also agreed on the need to enhance bilateral cooperation in the field of defense.” -- This cooperation comes in many forms, including training of Saudi pilots by the Pakistan Air Force and the deployment of Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia to provide security. - More, VOA, at:

Afghanistan War Film 'Hornet's Nest' to Hit Theaters in Late May --- The movie stars real-life father and son Mike and Carlos Boettcher, who were embedded with U.S. troops for two years. -- Freestyle Releasing has won the battle for U.S. rights to Afghanistan combat film The Hornet's Nest, in which real-life father and son Mike and Carlos Boettcher re-create their time embedded as ABC News correspondents with American forces. -- Hornet's Nest, made in the same immersive vein as Act of Valor, will open in select theaters May 9 before expanding nationwide May 23, the beginning of the lucrative -- and patriotic-themed -- Memorial Day holiday. David Salzberg and Christian Tureaud directed the feature film, which hopes to emulate the success of Act of Valor, as well as Peter Berg's Lone Survivor. - More, Hollywoodreporter, at:

انجنیر احسان الله مایار - ستاره ایکه در افق پهناور افغانستان درخشید More, at:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

1TVKabul - Exclusive Interview with Nader Nayem 07.02.2014 - گفتگوی ویژه با نادر نعیم . --- More, at:

Obama warns of ‘consequences’ in Ukraine as U.S. issues visa bans --- President Obama warned of “consequences” Wednesday if Ukraine failed to restore calm after a day of violence in the capital, while the State Department announced that it would bar 20 senior members of the country’s government from traveling to the United States. -- “We hold the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for making sure that it is dealing with peaceful protestors in an appropriate way,” Obama said. “We’re going to be watching closely, and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protestors.” -- Fiery street clashes that played out on live television Tuesday left at least 25 dead in and around Independence Square in central Kiev. The violence represented a failure of international hopes that President Viktor Yanukovych could settle differences with his political opponents peacefully and that the former Soviet state could begin to address its underlying financial crisis. -- The State Department said the 20 officials blocked from receiving U.S. visas were deemed to be complicit in Tuesday’s violence. It did not identify the officials but said they were all civilians. --- In brief remarks shortly after arriving in Toluca, Mexico, for an economic summit, Obama said a majority of Ukrainians see their future in Europe, a quiet reference to the tug of war between Western nations and Russia for influence in the nation of 19 million. He also said the United States expects protesters to remain peaceful. -- “There will be consequences if people step over the line,” Obama said. He did not spell out just what that line is, but said the United States is considering its next step in concert with European nations. He added a particular warning that the Ukrainian military should not “step into what should be a set of issues that can be resolved by civilians.” - More, Anne Gearan, - Washingtonpost

Americans Want Antibiotic-Free Chicken, And The Industry Is Listening --- In an age when consumers want transparency in how their food is produced, meat producers are under the microscope. -- And the meat industry is responding: Antibiotic-free chicken is showing up everywhere you look. -- Industry leviathans Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods have both come out with their own antibiotic-free brands of chicken — something that might have seemed practically unthinkable several years back. In fact, this week Perdue Farms is launching its first consumer advertising campaign for the Harvestland product line, which the company says is the nation's leading antibiotic-free brand of chicken. The ads urge shoppers to "eat like our ancestors." --- The wave of naturalness is also hitting restaurants. Just last week, chicken-and-waffle-fry purveyor Chick-fil-A announced it will completely phase out the use of chickens raised with antibiotics within five years. With some 1,800 retail outlets nationwide, the restaurant bills itself as the country' s largest chicken chain by domestic sales volume, which makes Chick-fil-A's decision big news in the industry. --- As we've reported in our series Pharmed Food, use of antibiotics in livestock, especially in the low doses fiven for growth promotion, could lead to more antibiotic-resistant bacteria in animals and, eventually, in people too. Last fall, the Food and Drug Administration released long-awaited voluntary guidelines that are intended to end the use of medically important antibiotics to fuel growth or improve feed efficiency within three years. --- "I think it is good for public health that the industry is switching from antibiotic use," Martin says, "because we consume a lot more chicken than any other meat." --- One of the challenges of raising chickens free of antibiotics comes while the birds are still just eggs at the hatchery. As Tom Philpott reported recently for Mother Jones, eggs that will go on to become broiler birds (the kind raised for their meat) are routinely injected with a small dose of the antibiotic gentamicin before getting vaccinated against a common, deadly herpes virus that attacks chickens. The idea is that the antibiotic sterilizes the vaccination site. And guess what? Under USDA rules, even eggs that will go on to be sold as organic chickens can receive this dose of antibiotics on their first day of life. -- Of course, raising birds without antibiotics doesn't address all of the issues that critics raise with industrial chicken production. For instance, Consumer Reports' Rangan notes, it doesn't necessarily mean that chickens will be kept in cleaner or roomier houses. - More, Maria Godoy, NPR

After the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, then what? --- In talk, MIT professor examines the implications of the military drawdown for regional rivals India and Pakistan. --- After more than a decade of involvement, the U.S. has pledged to draw down its Afghanistan troops in 2014, a move with major security implications for both countries. The change will also have a direct impact on two other countries: India and Pakistan, whose regional rivalry has long complicated the situation in Afghanistan. -- But what exactly will that impact be, and how concerned should outsiders be that an altered Afghanistan will escalate India-Pakistan tensions? In a talk on Tuesday, an MIT political scientist outlined a scenario whose subtle dynamics might bode well for regional stability: Hard-line ideologues in Afghanistan may well gain influence, but if so, that could act as an outlet for the pressures that have built up between the countries. -- “I’m pessimistic about the future of Afghanistan, but I’m a little more optimistic about what this means for the India-Pakistan relationship,” Vipin Narang, an assistant professor of political science at MIT, said in his remarks. -- To be clear, Narang stated, the planned U.S. pullout will almost certainly lead to a renewed effort by India and Pakistan to exert more regional influence in Afghanistan. -- “The direct competition between India and Pakistan was held at bay with the U.S. invasion and presence of NATO forces the last 14 years,” Narang said, adding: “The drawdown will create a vacuum now where Pakistan and India, I think, re-engage in a more overt proxy competition and vie for influence in Afghanistan.” -- In asserting influence over Afghanistan, Narang observed, “Pakistan will probably have an advantage.” However, he added, greater Pakistani influence in Afghanistan does not constitute “an existential threat” to India, but could moderate Pakistani concerns over India’s regional ambitions: “To the extent that Pakistan is relieved of the [fear] that India will threaten it in Afghanistan, it can move forward” with normalizing its relationship with India. -- Narang’s talk, “The Impact of the U.S. Drawdown on India-Pakistan Relations,” was sponsored by MIT’s Security Studies Program, part of an ongoing series of events called, “After 2014: What Next for Central and South Asia?” - More, Peter Dizikes, MIT News Office, at:

Gallup: - More Americans Now View Afghanistan War as a Mistake -- Republicans most likely to say the war was not a mistake --- PRINCETON, NJ -- For the first time since the U.S. initially became involved in Afghanistan in 2001, Americans are as likely to say U.S. military involvement there was a mistake as to say it was not. -- Gallup first asked Americans about U.S. intervention in Afghanistan in November 2001, just after the U.S. sent armed forces into that country in an effort to retaliate against those who had harbored the al Qaeda terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks. At that point, fewer than one in 10 Americans said U.S. involvement there was a mistake -- the most positive assessment of any war since Gallup first asked the "mistake" question during the Korean War in 1950. Clearly, in the turbulent atmosphere and general "rally effect" environment that followed 9/11, Americans were overwhelmingly supportive of the decision to send the U.S. military to Afghanistan. -- Americans' perceptions that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan was a mistake rose as the war continued, although there were some ups and downs over the years. The "mistake" percentage reached 25% in 2004, and surpassed 30% for the first time in 2008, and 40% in 2010. Now, in Gallup's Feb. 6-9, 2014, World Affairs survey, conducted some 12 years and four months after action in Afghanistan began, Americans' views essentially split down the middle, with 49% saying involvement there was a mistake and 48% saying it was not. -- Still, the more than 12-year span during which less than half of Americans thought the U.S. made a mistake in entering Afghanistan has been remarkably long, relative to past U.S. interventions. --- Republicans Remain Less Likely to See Afghanistan as a Mistake -- Republicans and independents who lean Republican are significantly less likely than Democrats and Democratic leaners to say the war in Afghanistan was a mistake. U.S. involvement in Afghanistan began under a Republican president, George W. Bush, but it has continued under Barack Obama, a Democratic president. Therefore, Republicans' higher levels of support may be related to a Republican president's initiation of the war, or an ideological inclination to support military involvement. --- The Obama administration plans to draw down the number of troops in Afghanistan significantly by the end of this year. Once that happens, and the war essentially ends, Americans' assessments of whether intervention was a mistake will largely depend on the political course Afghanistan takes, including whether terrorist cells are able to regroup there. --- Gallup research conducted in Afghanistan shows that Afghans rate their lives as poorly on several dimensions as residents of any country in the world. These findings may suggest that U.S. involvement in that country was not a success from the Afghan people's perspective, although it is not clear what Afghans' attitudes were before the war began. - More, Frank Newport, at:

Afghan Taliban repudiates hoped-for olive branch to government --- (Reuters) - The Taliban said on Wednesday it had nothing to do with a recent meeting of former and current Taliban figures who appeared open to talks with the Afghan government, raising hope of a negotiated end to many years of bloodshed. -- In a statement emailed to media organizations, spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban remained opposed to direct talks with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, whom the Islamist insurgents regard as a Western agent. -- "There was no meeting in Dubai in which the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) participated, nor are there any talks with the so-called Afghan Peace Council," Mujahid said, using the Taliban's name for its 1996-2001 government. -- "Fake negotiations and dramas will not only complicate the matter and prolong the war, but they will not bear fruit." -- On Sunday, Afghan officials said a delegation from Kabul's High Peace Council, a government body established to foster a political end to the war, had gone to Dubai in hopes of meeting with a group of former and current Taliban figures who had hinted at a readiness to hold talks. -- The officials hoped to meet a group that gathered there earlier this month, hosted by a former Taliban minister named Agha Jan Mutassim. The trip seemed to raise the possibility of a breakthrough in the Western-backed Afghan government's long quest for direct peace talks among the Afghan parties. --- Mujahid said Mutassim, who was once the Taliban government's finance minister and played a key role in its political committee, no longer represented the Taliban leadership, which is believed to be in hiding in Pakistan. -- Instead, Mujahid said, the Taliban had authorized only a "particular office" and "designated individuals" to conduct political activities on behalf of the group, which is led by the reclusive cleric Mullah Mohammed Omar. - More, at:

کرزی دستور تعدیل ماده 26 قانون اجراات جزایی را صادر کرد --- کابل (وخت – ۲۹ دلو ۹۲): در عکس العمل به اعتراض کشور های غربی و سازمان های بین المللی رئیس جمهور کرزی روز دوشنبه در نشست وزرا دستور داد تا قانون اجراات جزایی جدید افغانستان تعدیل شود. قانون اجراات جزایی نزدیکان و اعضای خانواده را از گواهی دادن علیه همدیگر منع نخواهد کرد، تصمیم شاهدی دادن به خود آنها وابستگی خواهد داشت و آنها آزاد خواهند بود. -- بربنباد اصلاحات ماده های بیست و پنجم و بیست و ششم قانون اجرائات جزایی افغانستان، اعضای خانواده در پرونده های مربوط به خشونت های خانوادگی در محاکم شهادت داده نمی ‌توانستند، اما کابینه افغانستان تصمیم گرفت تا وزارت عدلیه در این باره اصلاحاتی را به میان آورد. پیش ازین شورای ملی افغانستان یک لایحه قانون جدید اجراات جزایی را تصویب کرد که اقارب را از شاهدی دادن علیه همدیگر به ارتباط خشونت خانوادگی منع می سازد. -- پس از تصمیم حکومت افغانستان برای اصلاح این ماده قانون اجرائات جزایی شماری از فعالان حقوق زن نماینده گان مجلس مخصوصآ نماینده گان زن را در تصویب این متهم می سازند و می گویند که نماینده گان در برابر زنان بی پروا هستند. در حالیکه این لایحه قانون منتظر توشیح رئیس جمهور می باشد، سازمان های حقوق بشر و چندین کشور حامی افغانستان به شمول امریکا و اتحادیه اروپا نگرانی شدید خود را نسبت به این لایحه ابراز داشتند. آنها گفته اند که این قانون زمینه دادخواهی برای قربانیان خشونت علیه زنان را محدود می سازد چون شاهدان اغلب این موارد تنها اعضای خانواده و دیگر اقارب نزدیک می باشند. -- اما ایمل فیضی، سخنگوی ارگ ریاست جمهوری افغانستان به رسانه ها گفت، رئیس کشور از انتقاد ها و گزارش ها آگاهی داشته است از همین رو ماده بیست و ششم قانون اجرأت جزایی را برای اصلاح به وزارت عدلیه فرستاده است. آقای فیضی میگوید که این قانون بعد از تعدیلات واضح تر خواهد شد. به گفته سخنگوی رئیس جمهور کرزی، ترجمه انگلیسی ماده 26 این قانون شاید مورد سوال باشد. -- زنان افغانستان حقوق بسیاری را که هنگام زمامداری طالبان از دست داده بودند در 10 سال گذشته دوباره به دست آورده اند. دختران در ایام زمامداری طالبان حق آموزش و تحصیل نداشتند و زنان مجبور ساخته شده بودند که چادری بپوشند یا در منازل خود باقی بمانند. تصویب این ماده قانون اجراات جزایی نه تنها در داخل بل در خارج از کشور نیز عکس العمل هایی را به همراه داشت، چنانکه مسؤل سیاست خارجی اتحادیه اروپا این کار را گامی به پس در تأمین عدالت اجتماعی به خصوص برای زنان دانسته است.

Campaigners welcome Hamid Karzai's intervention on domestic abuse law --- The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has blocked a law that would silence victims of domestic violence, forced marriage and child abuse and demanded major revisions after a campaign by Afghan activists and western diplomats. -- The legislation bans relatives from testifying against each other, and in a country where forensic evidence is relatively undeveloped, that would effectively halt prosecution in even the most vicious cases of violence against women, including those mutilated by their husbands or attacked by brothers and fathers. -- The provision was inserted into a new criminal prosecution code, much needed and years in the making, at the last minute. It was steered through parliament by a prominent opponent of women's rights, and conservative MPs resisted efforts to moderate the strict controls. -- They apparently also had backing from some sections of government; early on Monday, a justice ministry official told the Guardian that western embassies had simply "misunderstood" the law, and that he expected the confusion be be resolved soon and without any changes needed. -- But just a few hours later, a cabinet meeting chaired by Karzai ordered alterations to the brief section of the law causing the problems, his spokeswoman Adela Raz said. "At the meeting, His Excellency the President, and the cabinet, decided that article 26 needs to be amended." -- She declined to say how the law would be altered, but the public repudiation of what would have been a devastating step backwards for Afghan women was welcomed by activists and diplomats. They had mounted a vigorous lobbying campaign, both in public and behind the scenes, since the legislation first came to light earlier this month. - More, Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul - Guardian

American PoW Bowe Bergdahl's family 'optimistic' about new efforts to release --- The family of the lone known US prisoner of war says it’s “cautiously optimistic” about reported new efforts by President Barack Obama’s administration to win his freedom. -- US army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, from Hailey in central Idaho, was captured more than four years ago in Afghanistan and is believed to be held in Pakistan. -- The Washington Post reported Monday that the administration is seeking to resume talks with the Taliban, in hopes of exchanging Bergdahl for members of the group imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The Post cited current and former officials who spoke on condition of anonymity as they outlined parts of a strategy they described as a last-ditch effort. -- White House press secretary Jay Carney would not confirm the efforts when asked by reporters Tuesday. He said the US is not actively negotiating with the Taliban. -- “Clearly, if negotiations do resume at some point, then we will want to talk with the Taliban about the safe return of Sgt Bergdahl,” Carney said. “He has been gone far too long and we continue to call for and work towards his safe and immediate release.” -- In a statement, Bob and Jani Bergdahl, the captive soldier’s parents, said they welcomed the development and applaud the “unity of purpose and resolve” being shown by the White House and other US agencies in freeing their son. -- “Today’s news indicates there are renewed efforts to use diplomacy to recover our family’s son, grandson and brother, Bowe Bergdahl,” the couple wrote Tuesday in a statement issued through the Idaho national guard. “We thank all involved for this renewed effort and we hope everyone takes this opportunity seriously. We are cautiously optimistic these discussions will lead to the safe return of our son after more than four and a half years in captivity.” - More, Associated Press in Boise - Guardian, at:

U.S. seeks prisoner swap with Taliban to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl --- In an effort to free American captive Bowe Bergdahl before the bulk of U.S. forces leave Afghanistan this year, the Obama administration has decided to try to resume talks with the Taliban and sweeten an offer to trade Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the Army sergeant, current and former officials said. -- Five members of the Afghan Taliban who have been held at Guantanamo for years would be released to protective custody in Qatar in exchange for the release of Bergdahl, who was captured in Afghanistan in 2009 and is thought to be held in Pakistan by the Haqqani network, an allied insurgent group. -- To refresh the American offer, which has been on the table for more than two years, senior officials from the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and other agencies decided within the past month to allow the simultaneous release of all five men. Taliban representatives had objected to the previous plan to release the prisoners by ones or twos as a test of Taliban and Qatari intermediaries’ ability to make sure the men did not return to militancy. -- Two people familiar with the decision stressed that it was the Taliban that broke off negotiations nearly two years ago and that the U.S. door to talks has been open since. The renewed offer has not been formally made, and no State Department or other officials have immediate plans to travel to Doha, Qatar, where any contact facilitated by the Qatari government would take place. -- The Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Friday that U.S. officials are eager to get the soldier back. -- “He’s been gone too long,” Kirby told reporters during a briefing. “We want him back. We’ve never stopped trying to bring that about. He’s never far from anyone’s mind here.” -- Officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to outline parts of a strategy they described as a last-ditch effort to engage the Taliban. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

High Time to End the American Hustle of Afghanistan --- A number of years ago I was skiing in Kashmir, the jewel in India's crown. It was a glorious experience. How else to describe a ski resort snuggled some 8,000 feet high in the Himalaya mountains surrounded by rugged mountain ranges that extend another 12,000 feet! Across those huge mountain ranges lay Afghanistan. If the ski trails were not world class, the luxurious personal attention more than made up for it. Each skier had his or her own porter who woke up the skiers in the morning with a hot cup of tea, after lighting the wood stove in our cabin. He carried our skis to the bottom of the rope-tows and helped put on our boots. You get the idea. -- One night, it must have been around 3 AM, my porter woke me up with a hushed whisper, "Sir, the Russians are coming." The year was 1979, and on the other side of the vast mountain ranges that separated Kashmir from Afghanistan, Russian troops were crossing the Amu Darya River to begin their ill-fated occupation of Afghanistan. -- The radio had not yet reported the Russian invasion, nor had the newspapers. But my porter knew, in real time. Somehow as the Russian columns marched into Afghanistan, the news had travelled across hundreds of miles of forbidding landscape, using a communication system that has knit people together in these ancient lands for centuries. -- The questions I'd want to ask American policy makers as they debate the future U.S. presence in Afghanistan is this: if news travels seamlessly through the impermeable borders around Afghanistan, hopping across the Himalayas, how effortless must it be for news to travel within Afghanistan. Is there anything that is planned and discussed within the "classified," "top-secret," confines of the U.S./Afghan military/intelligence complex that is really not known to the Taliban and to the other Afghan groups that want to see the United States leave their land? -- My second anecdote is more recent. Three years ago I was invited to the Zurich headquarters of a Swiss bank to speak at their annual meeting. During cocktails one evening I found myself deep in conversation with a money manager from the Middle East. It was the time when real-estate business in America had been hammered by the financial meltdown. But in my interlocutor's offices business was booming. How is that possible in this interconnected world I asked him? "Money from Afghanistan is pouring in to buy real-estate in the Middle-East," he told me with a smile." All those millionaires you Americans have created are making sure they have a place to stay outside Afghanistan." He was speaking of the hundreds of millions of American tax dollars that are paid out in bribes, overcharges, protection money, and all kinds of nefarious schemes that are the cost of doing business in Afghanistan. - More, Sarwar Kashmeri, Huffpost - st:

دامریکا غږ - اشرف غني: اجماع، اجماع او اجماع --- دافغانستان دجمهوري ریاست دا کاندید وایي هیواد یې دملوک الطوایفۍ له گواښ سره مخامخ دی، خو امریکا په کې لاس نه لري. دجمهوري ریاست کاندید اشرف غني احمدزی دامریکا غږ دآشنا رادیو تلویزون سره په مرکه کې د خپلې انتخاباتي تگلارې لومړیتوبونه څرگند کړل او دامریکا غږ دفیسبوک دگډونوالو یو شمیر پوښتنې یې ځواب کړې. دښاغلي غني په باور په اوسني وخت کې افغانستان ددریو اساسي آزمونونو سره مخامخ دی: دسیاسي اجماع نشتوالی، دامنیتي اجماع نشتوالی او داقتصادي اجماع نشتوالی. -- دجمهوري ریاست دغه کاندید په لومړي بحث کې وویل چې دپراخې سیاسي اجماع درامنځ ته کیدو لپاره په واکمنۍ کې دم‍شارکت او گډون په اصل ټینگار کوي. هغه مشارکت چې ښاغلی احمد زی پرې باور لري، مشخص سیاسي سرحد نه لري. -- ".. دڅو تیرو لسیزو په ترڅ کې څو جذباتي شخصیتونه رامنځ ته شول. شهید مسعود، ځانگړې جذبه درلوده او په عین وخت کې یې زیات مخالفین هم درلودل. ښاغلی مزاري، زمونږ دهزاره وروڼو په منځ کې. ښاغلی حکمتیار، په اسلامي گوند کې. ملاصاحب محمد عمر دطالبانو په منځ کې. او جنرال دوستم. دغه شخصیتونه یوه ټولنیزه پایگاه لري. خلکو جنرال دوستم دیو مطرح سیاسي شخص په توگه منلی. زه نشم کولای چې دنفی کولو معیارونه رامنځ ته کړم." -- دښاغلي احمدزي امنیتي اجماع پر دوو سیاسي او پوځي اصلونو ولاړه ده. دجمهوري ریاست ددې کاندید په باور امنیت، په زور نه ټینگیږي خو ثبات دسیاسي فعالیتونو په نتیجه کې رامنځ ته کیدای شي. ښاغلي احمدزي وویل: "منبر او ارگ باید په یو اړخ کې ولاړ وي چې امنیت تامین شي. په لومړۍ اونۍ کې مونږ دپوځ اعلی سرقومانداني جوړوو او دهغې له لارې به هره اونۍ امنیتي رپوټ وړاندې کوو چې پولیس څه کوي، پوځ څه کوي او ملي امنیت څه کوي." -- ددې کاندید اقتصادي اجماع دهیواد داقتصادي نظام عصري کیدل دي. ښاغلی غني احمدزی وایي په کال کې دوه سوه زرو افغانانو ته به په خلیج او دختیځې آسیا په هیوادونو کې دکارکولو زمینه برابره کړي او دمافیایي اقتصاد او دکورونو دکړکیچ سره دمبارزې له لارې به ټولیزه سوکالي بهتره کړي. - More

Homeland Security is seeking a national license plate tracking system --- The Department of Homeland Security wants a private company to provide a national license-plate tracking system that would give the agency access to vast amounts of information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers, according to a government proposal that does not specify what privacy safeguards would be put in place. -- The national license-plate recognition database, which would draw data from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, would help catch fugitive illegal immigrants, according to a DHS solicitation. But the database could easily contain more than 1 billion records and could be shared with other law enforcement agencies, raising concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens who are under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized. -- A spokeswoman for DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) stressed that the database “could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals.” -- The database would enhance agents’ and officers’ ability to locate suspects who could pose a threat to public safety and would reduce the time required to conduct surveillance, ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said. -- “It is important to note that this database would be run by a commercial enterprise, and the data would be collected and stored by the commercial enterprise, not the government,” she said. --- But civil liberties groups are not assuaged. “Ultimately, you’re creating a national database of location information,” said Jennifer Lynch, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “When all that data is compiled and aggregated, you can track somebody as they’re going through their life.” --- Agents would be able to use a smartphone to snap pictures of license plates that could be compared against a “hot list” of plates in the database. They would have 24-hour, seven-day-a-week access, according to the solicitation, which was first noted last week by bloggers. --- Vigilant’s National Vehicle Location Service (NLVS), which holds more than 1.8 billion records, is offered to law enforcement agencies across the country. ICE has tested the service at no charge, according to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union under a Freedom of Information Act request. - More, Washingtonpost, at:

Bombings in Syria Force Wave of Civilians to Flee --- KILIS, Turkey — Hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians have fled rebel-held parts of the city of Aleppo in recent weeks under heavy aerial bombardment by the Syrian government, emptying whole neighborhoods and creating what aid workers say is one of the largest refugee flows of the entire civil war. -- The displaced, as many as 500,000 to date, the United Nations says, have flooded the countryside, swelling populations in war-battered communities that are already short on space and food and pushing a new wave of refugees into Turkey, where in interviews many have described a harrowing journey that left them in desperate condition, broke, hungry and, in many cases, sick or wounded -- Much of the human tide flowing out of northern Syria has crashed on this once-quiet border town, where Syrians now nearly outnumber the original 90,000 Turkish inhabitants. -- .Its sidewalks are covered with destitute Syrians hawking cookies, coffee and cigarettes, and rents have skyrocketed as Syrian families have crowded into apartments. Ambulances regularly scream through town, ferrying war victims to the city’s overburdened medical facilities. -- Attacks on Aleppo have accelerated in recent weeks, as international talks aimed at ending the war have stalled and as the Obama administration has begun reviewing its Syria policy to find new ways to pressure the government of President Bashar al-Assad. -- While the United States explores potential new strategies, analysts say, Mr. Assad is forging ahead with his own: pounding civilians out of rebel-held districts or using military means to make life miserable for those left inside. --- The United Nations human rights agency warned last week of what it called “a pattern” of government attacks that violate the laws of war, but the strategy appears to be working for Mr. Assad, draining the power of rebels near Damascus and allowing his forces to advance near Aleppo. - More, BEN HUBBARD, NYTimes, at:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Afghan Ethnic Tensions Rise in Media and Politics -- KABUL, Afghanistan — It started with a heat-of-the-moment comment on a partisan television talk show, drawing an ethnic line that was bold even by Afghan standards.-- “Pashtuns are the rulers and owners of Afghanistan; they are the real inhabitants of Afghanistan,” said Gen. Abdul Wahid Taqat, a former intelligence official. “Afghanistan means ‘where Pashtuns live.’ ” --- More than 100,000 people died during the civil war that followed the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1989, a conflict that broke largely along ethnic lines, among the Pashtuns and the smaller Tajik, Hazara and Uzbek populations. -- Although there has been little ethnic violence across the country lately, in political and news media circles, nerves are raw and tempers have been flaring. Shouting matches over ethnic issues in Parliament and on radio programs have started to erupt into fistfights, a troubling reminder that the fragile ethnic détente here, sustained by foreign troops and billions of dollars in aid, could easily shatter. And with the American-led coalition preparing to withdraw, a long-term security agreement in doubt and a presidential election looming, many Afghans feel vulnerable about the future. -- The television and radio dials in Afghanistan are crowded with partisan stations that glorify their leaders and fire up their followers, and many of them have seized on the ethnic debate that the general’s remarks reopened. The ethnically mixed Karzai administration has a history of pushing back when debate turns into the fanning of ethnic hatreds; in 2010, it forced one station, Emroz TV, to shut down. -- The government is acutely conscious of the danger, to the point that it has made inciting ethnic strife a crime. Many of its senior officials took part in the brutal civil war, and few officials doubt that if Afghanistan were to fall into civil unrest again, much of the violence would erupt along ethnic lines, even within the country’s own security forces. -- Lawmakers have been arguing for months, sometimes violently, over what it means to be an Afghan. Many members of ethnic minorities believe that the word refers only to Pashtuns and want their own ethnicity listed on new national identity cards, but some Pashtun leaders are objecting. -- “We are defending the Afghan Constitution, which says that every single citizen, regardless of his or her ethnic group, is called an Afghan,” said Aryan Yoon, a Pashtun member of Parliament, and the wife of one of the founders of Zhwandoon TV, the channel that aired General Taqat’s comments. --- Others see the issue differently, including workers at Mitra TV, a channel for Tajiks that was recently opened by Atta Muhammad Noor, the governor of Balkh Province. --- Ethnic issues appear to loom largest with older people who witnessed the civil war firsthand, while younger people’s attitudes are more fluid and their identities more complex, especially in Kabul. Lotfullah Dost offers himself as an example: His family is Pashtun, but he grew up in a Tajik neighborhood and speaks only Dari, the language of Tajiks. -- “There are a lot of people like me,” he said. “I’m in the middle. I cannot claim to be a Pashtun because I don’t speak Pashto. I can’t claim to be a Tajik, either, because I’m not.” - More, NYTimes,

Aide’s Return to White House Reflects Changing U.S. Role in Middle East --- WASHINGTON — The last time Robert Malley went to work for the White House, it was as a Middle East peacemaker, advising President Bill Clinton during his futile effort to broker an agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000. -- Now, Mr. Malley is coming back to the White House, administration officials said on Tuesday. This time, he will manage the fraying ties between the United States and its allies in the Persian Gulf, a job that says a lot about how America’s role in the Middle East has changed. -- As a senior director at the National Security Council, Mr. Malley will help devise American policy from Saudi Arabia to Iran. It is a region on edge, with the Saudis and their Sunni neighbors in the gulf fearful that the United States is tilting away, after decades of close ties with them, toward a nuclear accommodation with Shiite Iran. -- With his many contacts throughout the Arab world, Mr. Malley, who has been program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group, would seem well suited for such a post. But he has also been something of a lightning rod in a field that can be culturally and ideologically treacherous. - More, MARK LANDLER,

U.S. moves to revive stalled Afghan peace talks: officials --- (Reuters) - The Obama administration is taking steps it hopes could lead to a resumption of peace talks to end the Afghan conflict, including reviving a proposed swap of Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay in return for a U.S. prisoner of war. -- According to Western officials familiar with the matter, President Barack Obama's senior aides in late December resolved to renew attempts to arrange the prisoner exchange with the goal of jump-starting negotiations stalled since last June. -- The hope is that the exchange could open the door to more substantive peace talks on Afghanistan's future. -- Reuters has learned that, to further the initiative, U.S. officials also have held meetings with the government of Qatar, which has played a mediating role during several years of on-and-off peace efforts, officials said. -- The White House last month sent out a team of officials, including the Pentagon's chief lawyer, Stephen Preston, to Doha to ensure that the Qatari government remained willing to host the Taliban detainees who might be sent there from Guantanamo Bay, the officials said. -- Government officials in Qatar reaffirmed that they would support the transfer under the same conditions as envisioned in previous discussions, the sources said. U.S. conditions in the past have included preventing the Taliban members from traveling outside of Qatar. -- Under the plan, Taliban-linked militants would return U.S. Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was stationed in Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan when he disappeared under unclear circumstances on June 30, 2009, about two months after arriving in the country. --In another step toward restarting a peace process, Qatar provided U.S. officials a video showing Bergdahl, which it obtained from the Taliban, to confirm he remained alive despite his more than four years in captivity. -- U.S. officials believe Bergdahl, the only known U.S. soldier to remain missing in the war in Afghanistan, is being held in northwest Pakistan by Taliban-linked militants. Several officials said they believe the militants holding Bergdahl are under strict instructions not to harm him because of the possibility of a prisoner trade. - More, at:

Rassoul: U.S.-Afghan strains to ebb as foreign forces withdraw --- (Reuters) - Severe strains in Afghan ties with the United States, the chief backer of the international military mission in Afghanistan, are likely to subside as U.S. and NATO forces depart, a contender in a presidential election in April said. -- "The long-term stay of any force, in any country, will create a problem. The international community will not stay in Afghanistan forever - they should not stay forever," former Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul said in an interview this week. -- "The Afghan people want a friendship with the United States, but at the same time we need to make sure that Afghanistan will be a long-term, sovereign friend of the United States. So I have no worry about the future relation of Afghanistan and the United States, in the framework of respect for our sovereignty," he said. -- "The Afghan people want a friendship with the United States, but at the same time we need to make sure that Afghanistan will be a long-term, sovereign friend of the United States. So I have no worry about the future relation of Afghanistan and the United States, in the framework of respect for our sovereignty," he said. -- Rassoul, who stepped down from his post as Afghanistan's top diplomat to run in the April 5 polls, is widely seen as the favored candidate of President Hamid Karzai, who U.S. officials blame for fueling tension with the West. Karzai has served two terms and cannot run again. -- The diplomat, a former top aide to Karzai who also served as Karzai's national security adviser, led Afghan dealings with the Obama administration as the two countries negotiated a partnership agreement governing U.S.-Afghan ties as U.S. and foreign troops steadily withdraw ahead of a year-end deadline. -- Rassoul's role as chief interlocutor with the West suggests that he might seek to smooth over ties with Washington, where lawmakers and officials have grown increasingly frustrated as what they see as erratic and provocative action by Karzai, who Western nations backed as Afghanistan's first leader after the ouster of the Taliban government in 2001. --- Rassoul declined comment on whether his former boss should sign the U.S.-Afghan bilateral security agreement (BSA), a counterpart to that first partnership deal, which would authorize a modest U.S. force to stay beyond 2014 to train Afghan troops and go after al Qaeda. The Obama administration had expected Karzai to finalize the BSA following its endorsement by tribal elders late last year. -- Rassoul said that if he were elected president he would sign the deal, with the goal of securing advice, funding and military gear for Afghan forces. -- "What I can say is that the BSA, the way it was prepared, is good for Afghanistan," he said. - More, at:

دجزا دقانون په مسوده کې داصلاح امر --- افغان ولسمشر حامد کرزي دجزا دقانون په نوې مسوده کې دبدلون راوستلو امر کړی دی. دغه خبره دهغه ویاند ایمل فیضي، ددوشنبې په ورځ کړې ده. ولسمشر دغه گام دنړیوالې ټولنې دیو لړ نیوکو وروسته اخیستی دی. داسوشیتد پرېس خبري آژانس دافغان ولسمشر دویاند ایمل فیضي، له قوله ددوشنبې په ورځ (د ۲۰۱۴م کال دفبروري ۱۷مه) خبر ورکړی دی چې ولسمشر دجزا په نوي قانون کې دبدلون راوستلو امر کړی دی. ولسمشر دا گام دنړیوالې ټولنې دهغه خبرادري وروسته اخلي چې ویلي وو دغه نوی قانون دکورني تاوتریخوالي دقربانیانو دحقوقو دخوندي ساتنې په برخه کې محدودیتونه رامنځ ته کوي او «عدالت نه تأمینوي.» -- دافغانستان پارلمان دجزایي قانون یو نوی طرزالعمل تصویب کړ چې له مخې یې دتورنو کسانو پر ضد دیوې کورنۍ دغړو شهادت مخنیوی کوي. په داسې حال کې چې دغه نوی قانون دولسمشر کرزي لاسلیکیدو ته په انتظار وو، دافغانستان دبشري حقونو یو شمیر ټولنو او دافغانستان نړیوالو متحدینو، لکه امریکا متحده ایالاتو او اروپایي ټولنې په دې اړه خپلې جدي انديښنې څرگندې کړې. هغوی وایي: کله چې په یوه جنایي قضیه کې یوازيني شاهدان دکورنۍ خپل غړي وي او دشاهدۍ اجازه ونه لري، نو دغه قانون به عملا دښځو پر وړاندې دتاوتریخوالي دپيښو پلټنې محدودې کړي. -- دحامد کرزي ویاند ایمل فیضي، ویلي دي چې ولسمشر له انتقادونو او رپوټونو څخه «په ښه توگه» خبر وو او ددوشنبې دورځې دکابینې په غونډه کې یې پریکړه وکړه چې دغه قانون باید بدلون ومومي. ښاغلي فیضي له نوموړي خبري آژانس سره په مرکه کې زیاته کړې ده: «موږ به ددغه نوي قانون دنافذیدو امر تر هغې پورې ور نه کړو، تر څو په هغې کې اړین بدلونونه نه وي شوي.» -- ایمل فیضي په خپلو خبرو کې پر دې خبره ټینگار کړی دی کله چې دعدلیې وزارت تصمیم ونیسي چې څرنگه ددغه قانون په متن کې اصلاحات راولي، دغه قانون به روښانه شي. ایمل فیضي زیاته کړې ده: «دا قانون به ددې مانع نه شي، چې کوم یو خپلوان او یا دکورنۍ غړي دیو بل پر ضد گواهي ورکړي. دا پریکړه به په هغوی پورې اړه ولري. هغوی به په دې برخه کې آزادي ولري.» - More, دویچه ویلی

Monday, February 17, 2014

Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Presents Joint Declaration for Afghanistan --- An equally ambitious and politically sophisticated project was recently launched by the German political foundation Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), at United Nations headquarters in New York City. "Envisioning Afghanistan Post 2014" brought together political representatives of Central Asia and other policy experts last week to discuss options for a peaceful future for the still politically unstable country of Afghanistan and surrounding region. The discussion was based on a strategic initiative, "Afghanistan's region: 2014 & Beyond - Joint declaration on regional peace and stability," that will be executed and implemented by FES and several, regional, political interest groups. -- "A truly regional document, not just an academic paper," FES regional coordinator for peace and security policy, Sarah Hees, called the joint declaration. The idea was born in 2012 after the region was confronted with the withdrawal of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The ISAF mission was established by the United Nations Security Council in December 2001, based in part on provisions in the Bonn Agreement (May 2001). ISAF has since been training the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) as well as supporting the Afghan government in rebuilding core government institutions and battling an ongoing conflict with insurgent groups, including of course the Taliban. -- With ISAF minimizing its significant role in stabilizing and rebuilding Afghanistan, the main responsibility will be transferred to the ANSF in corporation with a smaller NATO-led mission to advise the ANSF. As mentioned in the preamble of the declaration: "The scenario is uncertain: Will the ANSF be able to counter and defeat terrorism and other national and regional threats? Is the region ready to embrace Afghanistan with its myriad of challenges beyond 2014 while helping to guarantee its security, stability and prosperity? And will the region work towards a comprehensive and mutually beneficial outcome based on multi-faceted regional integration, in harmony with legitimate interests of non-regional players?" -- A shift in approach, from looking at Afghanistan as more of an isolated incidence to more of an inclusive, regional attempt to bringing peace and stability, is what FES is trying to achieve with this initiative. Critical to the process was the development of regional policy groups, "providing a platform for them to engage in robust discussions," as explained in FES' concept paper. All-in-all, four policy groups were established, namely the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan; Central Asia, which consists of the Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; the Republic of India; and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Further relationships were established with the Institute of Political and International Studies (IPIS) in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Chinese Institute for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) in China. "When considering the historical grievances and differences, the region having achieved consensus on deliberations and policy recommendations is a remarkable feat," concluded the FES paper. -- Included in this regional process were former and acting senior diplomats, parliamentarians, civil servants, military generals, civil society members, analysts, and journalists with connections to decision makers and authorities in their respective fields. -- The declaration drafted by FES and the regional experts reaffirms the "respect to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Afghanistan." Furthermore, acknowledging the highly sensitive geo-strategic crossroads location of Afghanistan and the implicated political challenges regarding the cooperation with neighboring countries. Among the call for trust-building measures the declaration also expresses the need "for an early resolution of the Iran-US standoff, which would create a conducive atmosphere to better coordinate and implement development projects in Afghanistan." -- One of the medium-term recommendations functions as a reminder to the international community that "in order to enable Afghan ownership, increase economic sustainability as well as build and upgrade state capability to deliver public services effectively and accountability, the international community and the Afghan Government must honor their mutual commitments beyond 2014 and through the Decade of transformation." -- Last week's discussion at the UN made clear where participants in the joint declaration still see deficiencies or difficulties regarding future implementation of the declaration. The outcome of the upcoming elections in Afghanistan in early April will play a crucial role for not only the country's future, but that of the region. The consensus among the participants appeared to be that fraud and irregularities during the elections will very likely take place, but the extent of those problems is unclear. The Guardian newspaper commented, "The election is the third presidential poll since the fall of the Taliban. It should pave the way for the country's first-ever peaceful democratic transfer of power, because the constitution bars the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, from standing again. The fact that Afghanistan has never managed such a handover before is an indication of how fraught the process could be, even without the complication of a raging insurgency." --- During the FES discussion at UN headquarters, the Central Asian representatives highlighted that the declaration needs to focus stronger on national responsibility to be taken up by Afghanistan, "which Afghans are keen to show," as well as pointing out that in particularly socio-economic recommendations are crucial for the long-term stability of the region. While explaining the process of establishing this declaration, FES coordinator Sarah Hees pointed out that trust building between individual groups had been proven to be difficult at times, with some participants "remaining in Cold War rhetoric" and others, while neighbors, still exhibiting a fundamental unfamiliarity with each other. -- It seems that no matter how complex the implementation, no matter how small the outcome or impact in the end, initiatives like this one by the FES are crucial to keep Afghanistan in the international community's collective eye. There is a need to support the effort of policy and decision makers to establish a safe and prosperous society in Afghanistan, while closely paying attention to the manifold voices and perspectives of its people. - More, Lia Petridis Maiello, HuffPost, at:

بیشترین بهره از جنگ افغانستان را پاکستان برد --- حدود 34 سال قبل هجوم ارتش سرخ شوروی به افغانستان شیرازه ملت را بهم ریخت و مردم ما را درگیر جنگی ناخواسته کرد که تا کنون نیز ادامه دارد. -- امروز پس از گذشت بیش از سه دهه ، کسانی که بانی بهم ریختگی این ملت و کشور بودند خود را ناجی معرفی کرده اذهان عمومی را نسبت به اشغال شوروی مردد می کنند. به همین دلیل نگاهی داریم به پیامدها و تاثیرات یورش ارتش شوروی سابق. -- برخی آگاهان مسایل سیاسی معتقدند امروز که روسیه وارث اتحاد جماهیر شوروی هست معتقد است ان عملکرد رهبران اتحاد جماهیر شوروی در ان زمان یک خبط بزرگ سیاسی، تاریخی برای اتحاد جماهیر شوروی بود. --- چیزی که بسیار مهم است وقتی در سال 1358 به افغانستان حمله شد این حمله با واکنش سریع غرب روبه رو شد ولی پاکستان بسیار سریع و هوشیارانه از ان فرصت استفاده کرد و خود را وارد صف مبارزه با اتحاد جماهیر شوروی کرد و این باعث شد بسیار توجیه پذیر باشد برای غرب و امریکا که اگر قرار باشد پاکستان در صف مقدم با اتحاد جماهیر شوروی باشد پس باید کمک ها به پاکستان بیش از اندازه باشد. -- به پاکستان کمک های بسیاری شد برای مثال انها اسلحه هایی را که باید به مجاهدین می دادند را برای خود می گرفتند و اسلحه های کهنه خود را به مجاهدین می دادند و بقیه امکانات مالی که به صلاحیت دولت پاکستان بود یعنی به چه کسی چقدر امکانات بدهد و این سبب شد که پاکستانی ها سود کلانی از این قضیه ببرند و این بهره برداری ها و سود بری ها تا هم اکنون هم ادامه دارد هم اکنون سالانه چیزی حدود دو میلیون دالر پاکستان از امریکا دریافت می کند بیشتر به خاطر توجیه همان مسایلی است که در 34 سال پیش پاکستان ها بر خود داشت. --- اما شاید بخواهید بدانید سازمان ملل در برابر یورش ارتش سرخ به افغانستان چه اقداماتی را انجام داد؟ -- اولین کار سازمان ملل این کار انها را نکوهش کرد و غیر قانونی دانست و در این رابطه اعلامیه صادر کرد و کسانی که به مقاومت افغانستان کمک می کردند تایید کرد که این کمک ها صورت بگیرد به همین خاطر امریکا و کشورهای عضو ناتو به خوبی توانست از مقاومت ان زمان وجبهه مخالف دولت افغانستان حمایت بکند و هر چه گذشت سازمان ملل بیشتر خود را درگیر مسایل سیاسی افغانستان کرد. - More,

Co-Pilot Hijacks Ethiopian Plane and Requests Asylum in Geneva --- GENEVA — The co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines passenger jet en route from Ethiopia to Rome seized control of a Boeing 737-600 early on Monday and flew it to Geneva where he asked for asylum, a spokesman for the Geneva police said. -- The plane landed safely and none of the 202 passengers and crew on Flight ET-702, which originated in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, were injured, the police spokesman, Eric Grandjean said. “Everybody was safe from beginning to end — no problem,” he added. Other officials said passengers were unaware of the hijacking until the plane landed in Switzerland. -- The plane was in Italian airspace when the co-pilot, an Ethiopian national who was not immediately identified, took the controls when the pilot left the cockpit to use the restroom. After locking the cockpit door, he initially told Italian air controllers he needed fuel but then activated a transponder to signal that the plane was being hijacked, Mr. Grandjean said. Italian fighter jets were scrambled and escorted the aircraft out of Italian airspace. -- The plane landed in Geneva at 6:02 a.m. and continued to a taxiway, where the co-pilot cut the engines, opened the cockpit window and lowered himself to the tarmac with a rope, officials said. He then ran toward security officers and identified himself as the hijacker, declared that he was in danger in Ethiopia and requested asylum, the officials added.- More, NYTimes

Why Presidents’ Day is slightly strange --- Most federal holidays are clear-cut. On the Fourth of July, for example, Americans celebrate the adoption of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. On the other hand, Presidents’ Day is a slightly strange holiday for three main reasons: -- *There is no universal agreement on the actual name of the holiday. -- * There is no universal agreement on which presidents are being honored. -- * There is no agreement on something as simple as whether is an apostrophe in “presidents.” -- Ask a handful of people who the holiday is meant to recognize, and you aren’t likely to get the same answers. In fact, what is generally called Presidents’ Day is still recognized by the U.S. government as Washington’s Birthday. lists it like this: George Washington’s Birthday (Presidents’ Day) – February 17 and it describes the holiday this way: -- More, Washingtonpost

نادر نعیم: دولسمشر مشروعیت شفافیت ټاکي --- دجمهوري ریاست کاندید محمد نادر نعیم وایي په انتخاباتو کې دافغانستان دولس پراخ گډون او ددې پروسې شفافیت دراتلوونکي ولسمشر مشروعیت ټاکي. دانتخاباتو په وړاندې دښاغلي نادر نعیم ستره اندیښنه امنیتي ستونزې او په ټولټاکنو کې ددرغلۍ مسله ده. هغه وایي هیله من دی چې دانتخاباتو پروسه داسې پرمخ ولاړه شي چې افغانستان واقعا یو مشروع ولسمشر ولري چې ټول خلک پرې باور وکړي. -- محمد نادر نعیم وایي ځان یو افغان شموله شخص گڼي، پلرونه او نیکونه یې افغان شموله شخصیتونه وو او پاملرنه یې دافغانستان ټول ملت او خلکو ته ده. هغه زیاتوي چې: « یوه ډیره مهمه موضوع زما لپاره ملي وحدت دی، ملي وحدت هغه څوک راوړی شي چې غیږ یې ټولو خلکو ته پرانستی وي، نو ځکه زه دافغانستان له ټولو سیمو څخه هیله لرم چې ماته رایه راکړي.» -- دآشنا تلویزیون دفیس بوک دیو مینه وال دپوښتنې په ځواب کې چې آیا تاسې تر ډیره حده دظاهر شاه ارمانونه پرمخ بیایي یا دسردار محمد داود خان؟ ښاغلی نعیم وایي: «تاسې ته باید عرض کړم چې دواړه شخصیتونه ماته ډیر محترم دي، زه فکر کوم چې دملت دبابا اعلحضرت محمد ظاهرشاه څلویښت کلنه واکمني په افغانستان کې یو آرام وخت و، سوله وه او افغانستان دپرمختیا په لور روان و، البته دشهید داود خان په وخت کې هغه ستر پلانونه درلودل او افغانستان په لږه موده کې زیات پرمختگ وکړ، ډیر ښه پلانونه یې درلودل چې دافغانستان خلک نن هم د هغې یادونه کوي او حتی وایي هغه پلانونه چې هغه درلودل تر اوسه هم نه دي پلي شوي.» -- ښاغلی نادر نعیم زیاتوي: «دخلکو نظر دادی چې هغه دوره دمدیریت دوره وه او اوسنۍ دوره دراپور ورکولو دوره ده چې همدا یې توپیر دی.» دښاغلي کرزي ددولس کلنې دورې په هکله محمد نادر نعیم وایي، دولسمشر کرزي دوره په دوه برخو ویشل کیدای شي یوه یې دافغانستان دکړکیچن حالت څخه درایستلو دوره چې باید دزیات بدلون دراوستلو توقع ونه لرو خو دهغه په اند په وروستۍ دوره کې طلایي فرصتونه له لاسه ووتل او دستونزو او کړکیچ سم مدیریت ونه شو، نو دهغه په اند: «کیدای شول دوهمه دوره بهتره وای.» - More, دامریکا غږ

Afghan president responds to concerns over law --- KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ordered changes to a draft of new criminal legislation in response to an international outcry warning it would severely limit justice for victims of domestic abuse, his spokesman said Monday. -- Afghanistan’s parliament had passed a new criminal procedure code that would ban relatives from testifying against alleged abusers. While the legislation awaited signature from Karzai, human rights organizations and several of Afghanistan’s Western allies — including the U.S. and European Union — voiced strong concerns it would effectively curb prosecutions involving violence against women, where relatives are often the only witnesses.-- Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said the president was “well aware” of the critiques and reports and decided at a Cabinet meeting Monday that the legislation must be changed. -- “We are not going to allow any such law to come into force unless the necessary amendments are made,” Faizi said, suggesting that there may have been issues with how the area in question — Article 26 — was translated into English. -- While the Ministry of Justice will decide on how to amend the text, Faizi stressed the resulting legislation will be clear. -- “This law will not bar any relative or any family member to testify against each other or another member of family,” he told the Associated Press. “It will be up to them. They will have the freedom.” --- There are fears that many of those freedoms may shrink as foreign forces depart by the end of this year and much of the international aid and assistance they brought to Afghanistan goes with them. - More, Associated Press

Sunday, February 16, 2014

President Obama Announces Plan to Drought-Stricken California --- Amid one of the driest years in the state's recorded history, President Barack Obama visited California's agricultural heartland Friday to meet with community leaders, farmers and others and announce initiatives to help the drought-stricken Central Valley. -- Obama told reporters in the rural town of Firebaugh, where he met with community leaders, that he wasn't about to wade into California water politics. Yet the president gently warned California's leaders to find common ground rather than thinking of water as a "zero-sum game." -- "We're going to have to figure out how to play a different game," Obama said. "If the politics are structured in such a way where everybody is fighting each other and trying to get as much as they can, my suspicion is that we're not going to make much progress." -- Obama met with farmers, a group that has accused the federal government of putting protections for rivers and fish above their crops and livelihoods, and who criticized the Commander in Chief saying financial assistance does not get to the heart of the state's long-term water problems. -- The president proposed the following after arriving Friday afternoon: - •$100 million in livestock-disaster assistance for California ranchers. -- •$60 million for food banks to help families hurt financially by the drought. -- •$5 million for conservation assistance in the hardest-hit drought areas. -- •$5 million for watershed protection. -- •$3 million in emergency grants for rural communities with water shortages. - More, nbclosangeles

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Soviet-Era Journalist, Face Of Afghan War, Looks Back On Pullout --- When the Soviet Union withdrew its forces from Afghanistan 25 years ago after a bloody and protracted war, Mikhail Leshchinsky was one of the last people out. -- Leshchinsky wasn't a soldier. -- A reporter for Soviet television, he was dispatched to Afghanistan in 1985, shortly after Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, to cover the final stages of a war in which Moscow was rapidly losing faith. -- His last report from Afghanistan shows General Boris Gromov leading the few remaining Soviet troops out of the country on February 15, 1989. -- In the now historic images, Gromov is seen strolling toward Leshchinsky across the Friendship Bridge that once separated Afghanistan from the Soviet Union before declaring the nine-year war officially over. -- Gromov's teenage son then leaps into his arms, clutching a bouquet of carnations. -- It was a carefully orchestrated scene intended to spin the pullout as a dignified exit rather than a retreat following a devastating conflict that claimed the lives of 15,000 Soviet soldiers and an estimated one million Afghans. --- Leshchinsky nonetheless recalls February 15, 1989, as a deeply moving day. -- "My voice was shaking, and his too," he tells RFE/RL. "When he said he would like to erect a monument to each soldier who served in Afghanistan, there were tears in his eyes. It was emotional, of course." -- With more than 900 television reports spanning almost four years, Leshchinsky, 69, is remembered by many as the face of the Soviet-Afghan war. - More, Claire Bigg - RFE/RL., at:

The Guardian, Thursday 16 February 1989 - Last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan --- As the last Soviet soldier marched out of Afghanistan yesterday, apparently wipping away tears, Pravda said in Moscow that in future decisions to send troops abroad should not be taken by a small conclave but by the Soviet Parliament. Nine years and seven weeks of Kremlin military involvement ended five minutes before noon, when the Soviet forces commander, Lieutenant-General Boris Grosmov, walked across 'Friendship Bridge' linking the Afghan border town of Hayratan with Termez, in the Soviet Union. -- Hours afterwards, the Kremlin appealed for an immediate ceasefire and an end to arms shipments by all countries. The statement said that the withdrawal of Soviet troops under last April's Geneva accords could provide a basis for restoring peace in Afghanistan. -- But the absence of Soviet troops could now touch off a bloodbath between the two heavily-armed Afghan sides, poised for a decisive struggle. -- The Afghan government confirmed its fear of a bloody struggle yesterday by revealing that it had considered asking Moscow to halt the withdrawal of Soviet troops. -- The government said it would have been entitled to ask them to stay. It accused the United States of not only failing to end its support of the Mojahedin operations out of Pakistan, but said that Washington had actually increased 'the quantity and sophistication of weapons being sent across the border'. -- This amounted to 'a brutal trampling underfoot' of the agreements signed in Geneva. -- It was a day of quiet, but without the peace which many Afghans a few months ago had almost miraculously expected to see by now. --- The government sought to appeal for international support by saying its position had 'enhanced the UN's authority, which Pakistan and the US were undermining'. It also poured scorn on the shura (gathering) which is still limping along in Islamabad, saying that 'the real forces inside Afghanistan were not represented'.--- In Islamabad, Afghan rebels said an interim government for their country was presented for approval on Wednesday to the shura. Mr Abdurrab Rasul Sayyaf, spokesman for the shura, said the proposed government would be headed by the US-educated engineer, Mr Ahmad Shah, a fundamentalist Muslim. Mr Sayyaf said that a new list would be drawn up if the shura rejected the proposed cabinet. -- Kabul accused Pakistan of trying to annex Afghanistan under the aegis of a Pakistan-Afghan confederation, and described as 'ominous' Islamabad's purported decision to send armed forces into Afghanistan to aid the Mojahedin. -- Afghanistan would take all necessary defensive measures, based on the UN Charter and the Soviet-Afghan treaty. this may have been a hint of requests for air strikes from Soviet territory on rebel concentrations. -- General Gromov was the last of some 103,000 Soviet troops to be withdrawn. -- Asked what he felt as he walked the last few steps on to Soviet territory, he replied: 'Joy, that we carried out our duty and came home. I did not look back. -- 'The day that millions of Soviet people have waited for has come,' General Gromov told an army rally afterwards. 'In spite of our sacrifices and losses, we have fulfilled our internationalist duty totally.' - More, at:

Italy’s Premier Leaves Post Amid Dispute --- ROME — Prime Minister Enrico Letta of Italy resigned on Friday, the day after his own Democratic Party voted to replace him with the party’s new leader, Matteo Renzi, the 39-year-old mayor of Florence. -- Shortly before meeting with President Giorgio Napolitano to formally relinquish his post, Mr. Letta sent out his thanks to his supporters, adding, “Every day as if it were the last one.” It was a pointed reference to the many difficulties and hurdles he faced over the past 10 months as the head of a coalition government of traditionally antagonistic political parties cobbled together after inconclusive elections last year. -- The coalition’s perceived limitations, and especially its inability after nearly a year in office to draft economic overhauls to efficiently combat the decline of the euro zone’s third-largest economy, gave impetus to the Democratic Party’s demands for change, starting with Mr. Letta’s resignation. - More, NYTimes, at:

Friday, February 14, 2014

برنامه پنج ساله اداره انکشاف بین المللی امریکا برای افغانستان --- اداره کمک های انکشافی بین المللی ایالات متحده امریکا سه ابتکار انکشافی را برای پنج سال آینده افغانستان معرفی کرد. این برنامه ها حاکی از گذار از زمان جنگ به دوران بعد ازجنگ می باشد. -- حتا در حالی که اکثر نیروهای نظامی بین المللی در تدارک ترک افغانستان در پایان سال 2014 می باشند، اداره کمک های انکشافی بین المللی ایالات متحده امریکا که یک بازوی کمکی حکومت ایالات متحده امریکا است، بر تعهد پایدار اش در جهت انکشاف اقتصادی افغانستان بعد از خروج نیروهای خارجی تاکید می کند. در این هفته "یو اس ای آی دی" یا اداره کمک های انکشافی بین المللی ایالات متحده امریکا سخن از سه ابتکار انکشافی تازه برای افغانستان به میان آورد که آن اداره می خواهد در پنج سال آینده خود را روی شان متمرکز گرداند. -- برای سال مالی جاری ایالات متحده امریکا، به دلیل ناامیدی اش از حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور افغانستان به خاطر رد امضای قرار داد امنیتی ای که به نیروهای امریکایی اجازه می دهد بعد از سال 2014 در این کشور حضور داشته باشند، کمک های انکشافی اش را به افغانستان به نصف رسانده است. --- همه ابتکار های جدید ایالات متحده امریکا متمرکز به تجارت، زراعت تحصیلات عالی و انکشاف نیروی کار افغانستان می باشد. --افغان هایی که به امور انکشافی سر و کار دارند امیدوار اند که این ابتکار های تازه مکمل تلاش های آنها در ساحه عملی باشد. -- برای تقویت ظرفیت زراعتی افغانستان یک پروژه انکشاف زراعت منطقه یی تلاش می کند تا حاصلات زراعتی افغانستان را افزایش دهد و افغانستان را فراتر از کشت برای معیشت جلو ببرد. اداره کمک های انکشافی بین المللی ایالات متحده امریکا پیش بینی می کند که با این برنامه اش 400 هزار دهقان را پوشش می دهد و 10 هزار مشغله جدید به وجود می آورد و 20 درصد محصولات گندم و سایر غله ها افزایش می یابد. -- سرانجام در برنامه حمایت از پوهنتون و انکشاف نیروی کار، سه پوهنتون امریکایی با پوهنتونهای افغانستان و موسسات تجاری مشارکت به وجود می آورند تا هفت ساحه تحصیلی را در سطح لیسانس به وجود آورند که در انطباق دراز مدت با شرایط افغانستان باشد. --- دونالد سمپلر یک مقام اداره کمک های انکشافی بین المللی ایالات متحده امریکا، که با افغانستان و پاکستان کار می کند، گفت: اداره نامبرده شده غیر از این سه ابتکار، برنامه های دیگری هم دارد. اما او افزود که «به صورت مشخص نمی تواند چیزی بگوید، این همچنان بیانگر گذار از تمرکز روی مسائل دوران جنگ به مرحله بعد از جنگ است». --- بهبود بخشیدن دسترسی به مراقبت های صحی برای افغان ها کانون توجه دیگر برنامه های اداره کمک های انکشافی بین المللی ایالات متحده امریکا نیز بوده است. - صدای آلمان -

USAID Unveils Five-Year Plan in Afghanistan --- WASHINGTON, Feb 13 2014 (IPS) - Even as most international military forces are slated to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, USAID, the foreign aid arm of the U.S. government, is emphasising its sustained commitment to developing Afghanistan’s economy after the withdrawal. -- This week, USAID unveiled three new development initiatives for Afghanistan, which the agency will be focusing on for the next five years. --- The United States has cut civilian assistance to Afghanistan by 50 percent for the current fiscal year, due to frustrations over Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s continued refusal to sign a security pact ensuring a post-2014 presence of U.S. troops in the country. Nonetheless, this disagreement will not have an impact on USAID’s new initiatives, as they are financed entirely with funds from the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. --- The three new USAID initiatives will focus on trade, agriculture, upper-level education and workforce development. - More, Bryant Harris, IPS, at:

واشنگتن در مورد موافقتنامهء امنیتی مذاکره مجدد نخواهد کرد --- ایالات متحدهء امریکا می گوید، این کشور به خاطر امضا قرارداد امنیتی بر افغانستان فشار وارد می کند. براساس این قرارداد به عساکر امریکایی اجازه داده می شود که در افغانستان باقی بمانند. امریکا، می خواهد حدود 10 هزار عسکر این کشور را بعد از خروج نیرو های خارجی در پایان امسال در افغانستان نگهدارد، اما هشدار داده است که اگر قرارداد همکاری امنیتی و دفاعی به زودترین فرصت ممکن امضا نشود، این کشور همه نیروهای خود را از افغانستان خارج می کند. تاکنون حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور افغانستان از امضاء این موافقتنامه خوداری کرده است. -- جی کارنی، سخنگوی قصرسفید دیروز گفت، واشنگتن در مورد موافقتنامه دوجانبه امنیتی مذاکره مجدد نخواهد کرد. جی کارنی می گوید: "برای احتمالات موجود، باید پلان های طرح و تهیه شوند، اگر توافقنامۀ دوجانبۀ امنیتی امضا شود یا نه، با مرور زمان درسال جاری تهیۀ پلان برای باقی ماندن عساکر پس از سال 2014، بیشتر دشوار می شود." - More, رادیو آزادی

State Department says Egypt's future up to Egyptian people, not U.S. or Russia --- WASHINGTON - Following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s backing of Egyptian Field Marshall Fattah al-Sisi’s unannounced bid for the Egyptian presidency on Thursday, the State Department said Egypt’s democratic future is a matter for the people of Egypt to decide. -- “We don't endorse a candidate and don't think it's, quite frankly, up to the United States or to Mr. Putin to decide who should govern Egypt. It's up to the [Egyptian] people to decide,” said State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf while speaking to reporters. --- Putin backed the bid as he met with Sisi in Moscow. “I wish you luck on my own behalf and the Russian people,” he said -- During the meeting, the Kremlin and Cairo agreed to accelerate military cooperation. The move comes as Washington continues to withhold much of its $1.5 billion in annual military assistance to Egypt. - More, turkishpress, at:

'Unprecedented increase in opium production' --- Yuri Fedotov, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, tells DW that Afghanistan is now producing record amounts of opium poppy which is destined to become heroin in "new markets." -- Yuri Fedotov: There are different sources of heroin and basically if we take Europe it comes mostly from Afghanistan - which produces almost 80 percent of all opium and heroin in the world - and unfortunately the latest reports of the UNDCP show there is an unprecedented increase both in cultivation and production of opium - especially in cultivation. There is a record figure that has reached 200,000 hectares. -- They never had such an area of opium poppy cultivation even in the peak of production in 2007 and 2008. So it means that producers and drug dealers, they are guided by the well-known principles of a market economy, and they would never increase production if they were not sure there will be new markets. Destination is mostly Europe but also Africa. Our recent report on Africa indicated there are more and more seizures of heroin in West Africa in addition to cocaine which goes through the trans-Atlantic route from South America to Europe through west Africa. Some of this heroin may reach the United States as well but we estimate that this is not the major route supplying heroin to the United States. - More, DW, at:

Withdrawing from Afghanistan - 1989 and 2014 -- "When the Russians withdrew from our country, we Afghans were euphoric. We thought from now on we would celebrate not just two Islamic festivals a year, but three," recounts 61-year old Ahmad. But the Kabul-based teacher says that his people couldn't have sensed the disaster which was about to happen. "As Afghans began to kill each other, there was no more talk of celebrations," Ahmad told DW. --- 25 years after the pullback of Soviet troops from Afghanistan, NATO-led ISAF forces, which have been in the country since 2001, are scheduled to withdraw by the end of this year. Despite all the differences between the two military interventions - for instance, one was internationally condemned, while the other was approved - there are parallels and lessons. -- Similar to the situation after the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan will once again depend on sustained external support for its survival. It is unclear whether and how long the government in Kabul will be able to stay in power without a massive foreign military presence. Afghanistan experts remain skeptical. "Without ISAF troops on the ground, the progressive forces in the country will be on their own, and I doubt whether they will be in the position to fight back against the extremists and preserve the few gains that have been made so far," said Afghan expert Knabe. - More, DW, at:

شتاین مایر ترازنامه مختلطی از اوضاع افغانستان ارائه کرد --- عملیات جنگی اردوی آلمان در افغانستان در ماه جنوری پایان می یابد. در این ماموریت 55 سرباز آلمانی کشته شده اند. در بوندس تاگ یا پارلمان مرکزی آلمان دیدگاه ها در مورد ماموریت ناتو در افغانستان باهم اختلاف داشتند. -- پس از دوازده سال عملیات جنگی اردوی فدرال آلمان در افغانستان، فرانک والترشتاین مایر وزیرخارجه آلمان فدرال تراز نامه مختلطی از آن ارائه کرد، این سیاستمدار آلمانی گفت هرچند همه امیدواری هایی که در آغاز ماموریت مطرح بودند برآورده نشده اند.اما چیزهای زیادی به دست آمده اند. -- وزیر خارجه آلمان روز پنج شنبه (24 دلو/ 13 فبروری) در بوندس تاگ یا پارلمان مرکزی آلمان گفت: « به هر صورت افغانستان امروز دیگر محل آموزش دادن برای تروریست های جهانی اسلام گرا نیست ». -- گریگور گیزی رئیس جناح پارلمانی حزب چپ ها در پارلمان برعکس این عملیات جنگی را « فاجعه» خواند و از شتاین مایر تقاضا کرد تا از سربازان افغان و آلمانی معذرت بخواهد. --- بوندس تاگ یا پارلمان مرکزی آلمان روی آخرین تمدید عملیات جنگی اردوی فدرال تا پایان سال روان و گزارش پیشرفت حکومت آلمان فدرال در مورد اوضاع افغانستان مباحثه کرد. در حال حاضر اردوی فدرال آلمان با 3100 سرباز در افغانستان توظیف می باشد. قرار است اردوی فدرال آلمان سراز سال 2015 در ماموریت جنگی آیساف، با 800 سرباز وظیفه آموزش دادن به نیروهای مسلح افغانستان را بردوش گیرد. این که این توظیف صورت می گیرد یا نه، هنوز معلوم نیست. پیش شرط آن امضای یک موافقتنامه امنیتی از جانب افغانستان است که تا هنوز انجام نیافته است. -- بوندس تاگ یا پارلمان مرکزی آلمان روی آخرین تمدید عملیات جنگی اردوی فدرال تا پایان سال روان و گزارش پیشرفت حکومت آلمان فدرال در مورد اوضاع افغانستان مباحثه کرد. در حال حاضر اردوی فدرال آلمان با 3100 سرباز در افغانستان توظیف می باشد. قرار است اردوی فدرال آلمان سراز سال 2015 در ماموریت جنگی آیساف، با 800 سرباز وظیفه آموزش دادن به نیروهای مسلح افغانستان را بردوش گیرد. این که این توظیف صورت می گیرد یا نه، هنوز معلوم نیست. پیش شرط آن امضای یک موافقتنامه امنیتی از جانب افغانستان است که تا هنوز انجام نیافته است. -- شتاین مایر تاکید نمود که آلمان برای تداوم تعهدات آلمان در افغانستان آماده است تا از دستاورد ها حفاظت کند. در 12 سال گذشته در قسمت مکاتب و زیرساخت ها، در بخش وضعیت زنان و دختران و در ساحه مراقبت های صحی پیشرفت هایی به دست آمده اند.« برای دفاع از آنچه به دست آمده است باید ایستادگی کرد ». - صدای آلمان

US killer winter storm marches north --- The latest snow storm to blanket the US Atlantic coast this winter is marching north, after being blamed for the deaths of nearly two dozen people. -- Doctors are trying to save the baby of a 36-year-old expectant mother who was killed by a snow plough in New York. -- The winter has left the Great Lakes of the US Midwest almost completely frozen for the first time in two decades. -- More than 440,000 households were still without electricity by Friday morning, mainly in Georgia and South Carolina, down from 1.2 million. - More, BBC, at:

Afghan, Pakistani leaders praise Turkish schools at Ankara summit --- The leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan have praised Turkish schools in their countries, saying they offer top-quality education. -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made their remarks in response to a question at a joint news conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gül following a trilateral summit in Ankara that focused on security. -- “Afghan children are offered high-quality education services. We are very happy about that,” Karzai said, while Sharif said the schools “are doing a perfect job.” - More, todayszaman

Turkey stands with Pakistan, Afghanistan, says Gül --- President Abdullah Gül has stated that Turkey will always support Pakistan and Afghanistan, adding that the cooperation of neighboring countries is crucial for the maintenance of security and stability in Afghanistan. -- “Afghanistan and Pakistan, in this tough period, will always see the support of their brother Turkey nearby, in all its sincerity,” Gül said on the sidelines of the 8th Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Summit, which kicked off in Ankara on Thursday. -- Gül met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, while foreign ministers, intelligence and high-level military officials and business leaders from the three countries met in separate sessions on Thursday. -- Afghan and Pakistani leaders thanked Turkey for its support in disputes between Afghanistan and Pakistan over security and terrorism issues, saying, “We feel like we are in our homes.” --- This year's summit is taking place against a backdrop of important political and security transitions in Afghanistan, including the presidential and provincial council elections on April 5, 2014, and the withdrawal of NATO forces by 2014. The main topics of this year's summit are security in Afghanistan after the NATO troop pullout, efforts to negotiate with the Taliban and measures to restore peace and promote reconciliation in the country and the region. -- The summit's theme is "A sustainable peace in the heart of Asia,” and host Gül touched upon political dialogue, security cooperation and partnership among the three countries, saying, “Our cooperation takes its power from friendship and brotherly ties.” -- He added, “The relations between the three countries take their strength from their historic and deep-rooted amity.” -- The supporters of the pact, known as the Bilateral Security Agreement, say it is crucial for Afghanistan's stability after the draw-down of NATO forces by December 31, 2014. -- “This agreement is also significant for other NATO allies,” a Turkish official said to Agence France-Presse. “It is hard for other countries to deploy troops in Afghanistan without the presence of American troops,” the official added. - More, Todays Zaman, at:

Karzai criticises lack of US respect for Afghan sovereignty as relations worsen --- Karzai criticises lack of US respect for Afghan sovereignty as relations worsen -- Relations between Washington and Kabul took another turn for the worse on Thursday as Afghan president Hamid Karzai criticised a lack of US respect for its sovereignty and White House officials appeared increasingly resigned to gambling on a better rapport with his successor. -- The two governments have been at loggerheads for several months over Karzai’s refusal to sign an agreement governing a continued American security presence in the country after the bulk of Nato troops pull out later this year. -- “The longer the BSA goes unsigned by Karzai, it increases likelihood that there will be no troops after 2014 in Afghanistan,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf in a conference call with reporters. --- “Afghanistan is a sovereign country,” said Karzai at a conference in Turkey on Thursday. “If the Afghan judicial authorities decide to release a prisoner it is of no concern to the US. I hope that the US will stop harassing Afghanistan’s procedures and judicial authority and I hope the US will now begin to respect Afghan sovereignty.” -- Karzai also insisted he still supports the principle of a bilateral security agreement, which was supported last year by a loya jirga of tribal leaders, but US officials are increasingly pinning their hopes on pressuring his successor instead after Karzai steps down for elections in April. - More, Dan Roberts in Washington - Guardian

Afghanistan frees suspected Taliban prisoners over U.S. objections --- KABUL — The Afghan government on Thursday released 65 suspected Taliban militants from prison, ignoring repeated and vehement protests from the U.S. military, which fears that the men are likely to return the battlefield. -- The release was a starkly public illustration of Washington’s growing inability to influence the actions of President Hamid Karzai’s government and is certain to further poison U.S.-Afghan relations, threatening the prospect of an orderly withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by the end of the year. --- In a statement issued after the men walked out of an Afghan-controlled prison next to a massive American base north of the capital, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul condemned the release. -- “The Afghan government bears responsibility for the results of its decision,” the embassy said in an uncharacteristically sternly worded statement. “We urge it to make every effort to ensure that those released do not commit new acts of violence and terror.” --- Karzai said through a spokesman: “I hope that the United States will stop harassing Afghanistan’s procedures and judicial authority. Afghanistan is a sovereign country. If Afghan judiciary authorities decide to release prisoners, it’s of no concern to the U.S.” -- U.S. military officials warned that the Afghan government was endangering its forces and civilians during a crucial year. -- “Violent criminals who harm Afghans and who threaten the peace and security of Afghanistan should face justice in the Afghan courts, where a fair and transparent trial would determine their guilt or innocence,” the military said. -- U.S. military officials said the detainees were “directly linked” to attacks that killed or wounded 32 NATO troops — including Americans — as well as 23 Afghan security forces and civilians. -- The Afghan government, which has long viewed U.S. detainee operations in Afghanistan as an affront to its sovereignty, has said that it reviewed the evidence against 88 former U.S. inmates and concluded that the majority were innocent. -- “That is why they were freed today and are on the way to their homes,” said Abdul Shokoor Dadras, a senior member of the review board that studied the cases. “Legally, we have no right to hold these people. We are studying the cases of the rest of the prisoners to see which one deserves to be punished and which one needs to be freed.” -- Karzai has called the U.S. detention center at Bagram air base a Taliban “factory” where innocent Afghans have become radicalized. --- On the eve of the release, U.S. officials took the rare step of disclosing the names of a handful of detainees set for release along with a summary of the evidence against them. --- Several U.S. lawmakers, exasperated by what they see as Karzai’s intransigence, saw the prisoner release as the last straw. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) threatened earlier in the week to lead an effort to suspend all aid to the Afghan government if the release went forward. -- “President Karzai, in my view, is single-handedly destroying this relationship,” Graham said during a hearing. “I look forward to developing a bipartisan plan to push back as hard as possible.” - More, Washingtonpost

Second wave of snow falls on D.C. area after major storm forces closures, cancellations --- The most significant snowfall in the Washington region since the infamous “Snowmageddon” of 2010 descended with a double bite Thursday, punctuating a winter already cold, harsh and relentless. -- The weather had a familiar, nasty character, beginning overnight and into the morning with snow, then turning to sleet and rain in many places. A few hours after that ended — barely time enough for sidewalk clearing and the digging out of cars — the snow returned for a second round. Added accumulations of up to four inches of snow were predicted. -- The federal government shut down, air travel stopped and most of the region ground to a halt.Metrobus suspended all service until 5 a.m. Friday as snow fell Thursday night, and the system plans limited service Friday on a few major arteries. -- The storm was linked to at least three deaths. A Virginia Department of Transportation contract truck driver working to clear roads died after he was struck by another VDOT truck in Ashburn. Virginia State Police said Lovo Guevara Geovany Arnoldo, 32, of Vienna pulled off the road and was standing behind his truck when he was hit by the second VDOT truck. -- “This is deep, heavy snow, and I implore everyone to take it easy,” Howard County Executive Ken Ulman said in a news release. “Please don’t over-exert yourself. Clear a little at a time.” -- By Thursday evening, many of the region’s major school systems had announced they would be closed for a second day Friday, creating a five-day vacation for schoolchildren, who have Monday off for President’s Day. -- The winter weather was forecast to persist into the pre-dawn hours of Friday. Sunshine was expected to bring some melting during the day, but there was the prospect of more light snow later Friday and on Saturday. --- Even before the second round of snow Thursday, Dulles International Airport had recorded more than a foot of snow; Olney, Md., had 15 inches; eight inches had come down on Northeast D.C.; seven in Alexandria; 16 in Germantown, Md.; and 13 in Oakton, Va. Snowfall generally was lighter to the east of the District, although Crofton, Md., had eight inches. - Washingtonpost

Thursday, February 13, 2014

James Clapper might as well be called director of US fearmongering --- James Clapper is very worried. It's not the first time. --- Last week the man who serves as America's Director of National Intelligence trudged up to Capitol Hill to tell the assembled members of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee (pdf) that the annual worldwide threat assessment, put together by the intelligence community, has filled him with dread. He told the room: -- Clapper is concerned about "implications of the drawdown in Afghanistan", which is a nice pivot from a few years ago when Afghanistan was a vital national interest that necessitated a ramp up of US military engagement there (pdf). There's also the "sectarian war in Syria" and "its attraction as a growing center of radical extremism", which is compelling evidence that Syria is poised to take up the mantle of "failed state that foreign policy elites are really worried about." -- There is the habitually frightening adjective war front, "an assertive Russia, a competitive China; a dangerous, unpredictable North Korea, a challenging Iran." The sober-minded might look at these countries and conclude that a more accurate set of descriptors would be "an enfeebled and corrupt Russia, an economically slowing and environmentally challenged China, a contained and sort of predictable North Korea and an isolated and diplomatically-engaged Iran". But that would be a pretty lame threat assessment, wouldn't it? - More, Michael Cohen, Guardian, at:

رادیو آزادی -- جیمز کلپر: ایران تلاش دارد، نفوذ اش را در افغانستان گسترش دهد --- رئیس ادارهء ملی استخبارات امریکا می گوید، ایران در تلاش است تا نفوذ خود را در افغانستان گسترش دهد. -- جیمز کلپر گفته است، ایران به این هدف دیپلومات های جدید را در افغانستان به کار گماشته است. -- ایران مخالف حضور نیروهای بین المللی در افغانستان است و با ادامهء حضور نیروهای امریکایی در افغانستان مخالفت کرده است. -- رئیس ادارهء ملی استخبارات ایالات متحدهء امریکا می گوید، ایران تلاش های تازه را به هدف گسترش نفوذ خود در افغانستان آغاز کرده است. -- جیمز کِلپَر به روز سه شنبه در کمیتهء خدمات نظامی مجلس سنای امریکا در این مورد گفت: -- " ایرانی ها به طور آشکار می خواهند تا حد امکان در افغانستان نفوذ داشته باشند، خصوصاً با ایجاد تغییرات آینده. آن ها تا حالا موفق نشده اند، آنها اختلافات سرحدی دارند، در امتداد سرحد تیراندازی هایی صورت می گیرد، بنابرین رابطه گرم نیست. اما این به آن معنی نیست که گفته شود ایران در تلاش رسیدن به اهداف اش نیست. آنها اخیراً دیپلومات های بسیار هوشیار را در کابل به کار گماشته اند تا توجه افغان ها را بخود جلب کند. اما فکر نمی کنم چنین شود زیرا برای مدت طولانی برخی شک ها و عدم اعتماد وجود دارند." --- آقای روحانی هفتهء گذشته در یک مصاحبه با تلویزیون دولتی ایران گفت، که روابط شان را با کشور های منطقه گسترش می دهند. --آقای روحانی گفت: "ما در فکر یک قرارداد بلند مدت با افغانستان و روسیه استیم. به عنوان یک همسایهء بزرگ ما مذاکرات بسیار مفصل داشتیم." -- گفته می شود که رهبران مذهبی ایران با حکومت افغانستان روابط خوب دارند. -- اما برخی از منتقدان می گویند، که ایران به هدف بی ثبات ساختن افغانستان در سال های اخیر از هیچ اقدامی دریغ نکرده است. --- ایران مخالف حضور نیروهای بین المللی در افغانستان است و با ادامهء حضور نیروهای امریکایی در افغانستان مخالفت کرده است.

Afghanistan in 2014: Importance to stretch well past borders --- As the U.S. exit from Afghanistan nears, we can expect to hear steadily more about the lessons we should have learned since international intervention in the country back in 2001. But one dimension of the Afghan effort that might get overlooked next year is this: how has the Afghan conflict impacted transatlantic solidarity? -- The short answer is that transatlantic relations may well be another long-term victim of the war in Afghanistan. -- The Afghan operation started as a spectacular demonstration of the solidity of the transatlantic alliance in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, when NATO activated Article V of its collective defense clause for the first time in its history. But the limits of cooperation were quickly demonstrated, eroding the foundations of transatlantic solidarity. Whether they can be fully restored remains to be seen. --- Afghanistan has been a story of frustration on both sides of the Atlantic. One of the early disagreements was over the relative importance of military operations versus a broader political approach – while the United States tended to focus on the former, European states emphasized the latter. The resources that each side was capable and willing to engage in Afghanistan played a role in this initial difference, but this doesn’t explain everything. Europeans had a genuine problem with the U.S. approach, which, over the years, kept focusing on security at the expense of politics and a sustained effort at national cohesion. As a result, all Afghan political institutions were created in a way that reflected Washington’s desire for expediency rather than a need to ensure the political system’s sustainability. -- Torn between their willingness to demonstrate solidarity with Washington after 9/11 and their perception that the goals of the mission, as defined by Washington, were unachievable, many European countries limited their investment to the minimum and sought instead to bring their troops home. Others, in particular the closest American allies, decided to stick to U.S. strategy even when they knew it was bound to fail. These allies paid a heavy human, financial and political price, but seemed to take some absurd comfort in the fact that the failure would be a collective responsibility. -- In parallel, the temptation in Washington to blame the Europeans for the coalition failures in Afghanistan grew as it became increasingly clear that, despite the official rhetoric, the United States had achieved none of its objectives. If al Qaeda has been weakened, none of its local affiliates has been eradicated and its reemergence remains a possibility in 2014 and beyond – the reality is that the Afghan state that is emerging from the reconstruction effort is in no position to prevent this happening on its own once U.S. forces have withdrawn next year. -- Ironically the impending exit from Afghanistan has only exacerbated ill feelings on both sides of the Atlantic. In spite of the principle “in together, out together,” Washington decided unilaterally to withdraw, but felt let down when some of its partners decided to anticipate its own departure. -- The consequences of this mutual frustration are unlikely to be spectacular. European states are too dependent on the United States for their own security to snub Washington. Nor is Afghanistan the sole reason for Washington’s diminishing commitment to European security. With the existential threat of the Soviet Union long gone and given European governments’ dwindling capacity to contribute to collective security, the continent no longer constitutes a strategic concern for Washington. At the same time, the war-weary and fiscally-stressed United States is increasingly reluctant to commit to foreign military adventures. These two phenomena, neither of which is directly or exclusively related to Afghanistan, are pulling the two sides of the Atlantic apart. -- Future conflicts may not exactly look like Afghanistan, but there is a good chance they will share some of its characteristics, in particular the primacy of politics and the relatively secondary character of military force. In Afghanistan, most U.S. allies concurred with the perception that the conflict could not be solved kinetically. However, for a variety of reasons, they never really stood against that dominant U.S. paradigm. Instead, they let themselves become part of a succession of U.S. military strategies that all proved short lived. -- The result of all this is a collective failure that from next year will very likely translate into a loss of credibility not just for the U.S., but for the entire Western alliance. - Frederic Grare, Special to CNN

Ice storm wallops Southeast, stranding drivers, cutting power --- (CNN) -- Get off the roads, and stay off. -- That was the message in Georgia and the Carolinas as a snow and ice storm swept through Wednesday, bringing some of the Southeast's most populous cities to a standstill. -- The warnings came as freezing rain brought heavy ice accumulations from Atlanta to Charlotte. Across a large swath of the South, hundreds of thousands of people were without power and thousands of flights were canceled. -- Up to three-quarters of an inch of ice was expected to accumulate in Atlanta and up to 10 inches of snow and sleet were expected in Raleigh and Charlotte, making travel treacherous. --- Also in the storm's path were Virginia and Washington, with much of the Northeast to follow. -- All federal offices in the nation's capital were ordered closed, and thousands of employees were being told to stay home, according to the Office of Personnel Management. --- While most of the major thoroughfares in and out of the city of Atlanta were reportedly devoid of traffic, a different scene was playing out to the northeast where the storm appeared to take people by surprise despite days of warnings. -- "Stay home, if you can," North Carolina's Department of Public Safety said in posts on Twitter. "Quickly deteriorating road conditions, numerous car accidents in Durham/Franklin/Johnston/Wake counties." -- Gridlock gripped portions of the state, including Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte, as cars and trucks got stuck on snow- and ice-covered roads. --- "Right now we've got people traveling up and down the highways in special four-wheel vehicles to make any rescues that we need to make, and more than anything else we're just encouraging people to be smart, and don't put their stupid hat on during the next 48 hours," North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory said. -- The North Carolina Department of Transportation is urging people not to abandon their vehicles. -- "There are some people abandoning their vehicles. We are urging them not to. It is very dangerous for them to be on foot with cars sliding near them and it blocks access for our sand trucks and plows and causes gridlock," said Communications Supervisor Steve Abbott. - More, Chelsea J. Carter, CNN, at:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Afghanistan releases 65 prisoners despite strong U.S. objections --- (CNN) -- Afghan authorities released 65 prisoners Thursday despite strong objections from the United States, which calls them "dangerous insurgents" who pose a threat to security forces and civilians. -- The U.S. military in Afghanistan said some of the men are "directly linked" to attacks that killed or wounded 32 American or coalition service members and 23 Afghan security personnel or civilians. -- The U.S. Embassy in Kabul called the move "deeply regrettable," saying the Afghan government "bears responsibility for the results of its decision." -- The controversial prisoner release comes amid broader tensions between Washington and Kabul over Afghan President Hamid Karzai's current unwillingness to sign a bilateral security agreement to keep some U.S. and other coalition troops in Afghanistan after this year. -- U.S. authorities have repeatedly aired in public their displeasure over the likely release of the prisoners. -- "We have made clear our judgment that these individuals should be prosecuted under Afghan law. We requested that the cases be carefully reviewed," the U.S. military said ahead of the release. "But the evidence against them was never seriously considered, including by the attorney general, given the short time since the decision was made to transfer these cases to the Afghan legal system." -- Releasing them, the military said, violates agreements between the United States and Afghanistan and is "a major step backward for the rule of law in Afghanistan." -- For its part, Afghanistan says it doesn't have enough evidence to keep the 65 prisoners behind bars. -- "We took this decision according to our law," said Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, the Afghan attorney general. --- Abdul Shukor Dadras, head of the Afghan Review Board, said the attorney general ordered the prisoners' release from the Parwan Detention Center -- formerly known as Bagram prison -- after a careful review of 88 cases. - More, Jethro Mullen, CNN

U.S. Leaders Rip Karzai on Security Deal Snub --- Disgruntled senators are piling on the attacks against Afghan President Hamid Karzai after concerns that he won’t endorse a security pact with the United States allowing American troops to remain in the country long-term. -- The U.S.-Afghanistan relationship is already threatened by Afghanistan’s release of 65 Taliban prisoners, Pentagon officials said Tuesday. -- Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said the release of the prisoners would “violate the agreement” with the U.S. to hold them as captives and constitutes a “major step backward” in Afghanistan’s “rule of law.” --- Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Armed Services Committee, echoed the U.S. military’s outrage, and announced Tuesday that he will try to cut aid to Afghanistan as long as Karzai is president. -- Graham said he spoke earlier with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, who commands all international forces in Afghanistan, and determined that U.S. forces “evaluated (the prisoners) as very dangerous to the Afghan people and the coalition forces.” -- Graham said that he will introduce a resolution condemning Karzai’s actions, and that he will be “urging my colleagues to cut all developmental aid off to Afghanistan as a response until after the next election.” -- While 65 Taliban fighters were released, a total of 88 have orders to be freed. Graham said that more than 60 coalition forces were killed as a result of their actions, and Karzai “single-handedly destroyed” the relationship between Afghanistan and the U.S. --“It will not go unnoticed by the Congress,” Graham warned. - More, Jim Miklaszewski, NBCnews

Afghanistan halts suspected reconstruction of ancient Buddhas --- (Reuters) - Afghanistan has halted conservation work at a site once occupied by ancient Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban because the team involved is suspected of secretly trying to rebuild one of the statue's feet, the United Nations said. -- Any attempt to rebuild the statues without official permission could lead to the site losing its World Heritage status. -- The Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, decreed in early 2001 that two ancient giant Buddha statues in the valley in Bamiyan province were un-Islamic and ordered they be destroyed. They were blown up with dynamite the next month. --- The German wing of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) had been working alongside the United Nations in the valley, aiming to reinforce the cliff into which the Buddha statues were carved. -- But the work was halted after a team from the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO visited the site in December and found pillars built into the rock which looked suspiciously like feet, according to a UNESCO official. -- "These pillars are the controversial issue ... Questions were raised concerning their design, that they resembled somehow the feet or the legs," said UNESCO's Brendan Cassar. - More, at:

UN agency welcomes new Afghan policy protecting rights of internally displaced --- 11 February 2014 – Afghanistan’s new national policy to protect the rights of some 630,000 internally displaced people recognizes that all Afghans have the right to freedom of movement and residence, the United Nations refugee agency today detailed. -- The new policy, drafted with assistance from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), was launched today in the Afghan capital of Kabul. -- Briefing journalists in Geneva, spokesperson Melissa Fleming said the UN agency welcomed the newly adopted policy and was “encouraged” that it acknowledged the central responsibility of the Government in preventing conditions that lead to displacement, such as fighting. It also placed the Government as responsible for minimizing unavoidable displacement, as well as to mitigate and resolve its adverse effects. -- “With the implementation of the policy, the displaced will not lose the rights or entitlements enjoyed by other citizens,” Ms. Fleming said. -- Of the estimated 630,000 Afghans internally displaced, more than half live in urban areas. The displacement figures continue to rise, the UN agency said. The ongoing conflict displaced some 124,000 people in 2013 alone, an annual increase of 22 per cent. -- During that same time, civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 14 per cent to 8,615, according to a report released on Saturday by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), which also found that 2013 was the worst year since 2009 in terms of the number of women and children killed or injured as a result of conflict-related violence. -- In addition to protecting the rights of the displaced, the new policy establishes that the Government has the primary responsibility to provide emergency assistance, longer term support and effective protection to displaced Afghans. -- This responsibility exists regardless of the cause of displacement, and applies whether displaced persons are living in settlements, with host families, in rural or in urban settings, and inside or outside their province of origin, UNHCR clarified. -- It also noted that while Afghans will have the right to integrate in the place where they are living, return to their place of origin, or to relocate to a new place, “under no circumstances will displaced people be encouraged or compelled to return or relocate to areas where their lives will be at risk.” - UN, at:

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan up 14 per cent last year, says new UN report --- 8 February 2014 – Civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose by 14 per cent last year, according to a new report released on Saturday by the United Nations, which also found that it was the worst year since 2009 in terms of the number of women and children killed or injured as a result of conflict-related violence. -- The 2013 Annual Report on Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, produced by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), recorded a total of 8,615 civilian casualties with 2,959 civilian deaths and 5,656 injured last year. -- The figures mark a 7 per cent increase in deaths and a 17 per cent increase in injuries as compared to 2012, the Mission said in a news release. Since 2009, the armed conflict has claimed the lives of 14,064 Afghan civilians and injured thousands more. -- “Armed conflict took an unrelenting toll on Afghan civilians in 2013,” said the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA, Ján Kubiš. - More, UN, at:

Atlanta Frozen Again as Winter Woes Chill South --- Unlike two weeks ago, when two inches of ice and snow left thousands stuck on the Interstate overnight and made the city the butt of national jokes, Atlanta was prepared for a wide-ranging storm that marched across the South and headed north toward Washington and New York. -- But not so other parts of the South. As a rare storm that mixed ice and snow swept through several Southern states, gridlock played out in Raleigh, N.C., as people who thought they could beat what turned into a vast regional ice storm were stuck on roads for hours, apparently ignoring advice from Gov. Pat McCrory, who had pleaded with residents to stay in their homes. - But not so other parts of the South. As a rare storm that mixed ice and snow swept through several Southern states, gridlock played out in Raleigh, N.C., as people who thought they could beat what turned into a vast regional ice storm were stuck on roads for hours, apparently ignoring advice from Gov. Pat McCrory, who had pleaded with residents to stay in their homes. - More, NYTimes, at:

Rand Paul files suit against Obama, NSA Wednesday --- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul (R) and Matt Kibbe, president of the conservative organizing group FreedomWorks, are filing a class action lawsuit against President Obama and other members of his administration over the National Security Agency's collection of phone metadata, a practice they believe violates the Fourth Amendment. In a YouTube video released Tuesday, Paul compared the government surveillance to the warrantless searches practiced by the British military prior to American independence. -- "The lesson of the American Revolution was that this should never happen again, and yet the NSA's data collection program is the modern equivalent of this practice," Paul says. He later adds, "Paul Revere rode through the streets to tell us the British were coming, not the Americans are coming." --- The American Civil Liberties Union is also engaging the NSA through the courts. -- “We agree that the NSA’s phone-records program is unconstitutional," said Jameel Jaffer, the ACLU's deputy legal director, in a statement. "Mass surveillance of this kind infringes not just on privacy rights but on the freedoms of speech and association as well. We’ve advanced these arguments in our own lawsuit against the NSA, and over the next few weeks we’ll make them to a federal appeals court.” - More, Jaime Fuller, Washingtonpost, at:

U.S. complains that Afghanistan is releasing dangerous prisoners --- KABUL — The U.S. military on Tuesday slammed Afghanistan for continuing to order the release of prisoners who the United States believes are dangerous, but who Afghan officials say cannot be prosecuted because authorities lack evidence. -- The dispute over the prisoners at the Afghan National Detention Facility at Parwan, north of Kabul, is the latest spat between the United States and Afghanistan as the U.S.-led military coalition tries to wind down its presence here by the end of the year. -- The United States has contended that of 650 prisoners still in custody at Parwan, 88 are a threat to security and should not be released. Afghanistan has decided to release 65 despite “extensive information and evidence” against them, the U.S. military said Tuesday. -- “The release of these detainees is a major step backward for the rule of law in Afghanistan,” the U.S. military said in a statement. “Some previously released individuals have already returned to the fight, and this subsequent release will allow dangerous insurgents back into Afghan cities and villages.” -- The prisoner dispute has escalated in the past year, since the U.S. military handed control over the detention center at Parwan to Afghan authorities. Last month, the United States protested Afghanistan’s decision to release some of the 88 detainees, citing evidence that 30 percent of them had wounded or killed 60 international-coalition troops and that more had been responsible for Afghan civilian casualties. -- Afghan officials issued a sharp rebuttal, saying the Afghan attorney general’s office and the National Directorate of Security — Afghanistan’s CIA — had reviewed the U.S. information and found insufficient evidence to continue to hold the prisoners. - More, Los Angeles Times, Washingtonpost

Heavy snow tonight, then mixed precipitation Thursday (LIVE FORECAST UPDATES) --- ** Winter storm warning tonight through Thursday afternoon | Winter weather advisory for Calvert and St. Mary’s counties ** -- Cold air is in place, and the stage is set for a moderate to major snowstorm for the D.C. metro region. --- Some key points about the forecast: - More, Washingtonpost

پالیسی حمایت از بیجاشدگان داخلی در افغانستان تدوین شد --- وزارت امور مهاجرین وعودت کنندگان افغانستان پالیسی ملی بیجاشدگان داخلی را تدوین کرد که براساس آن تلاش می شود تا افغان هایی که به دلیل جنگ و خشکسالی از روستاهای شان بیجا شده اند، مورد حمایت قرار گیرند. -- در ده سال گذشته وزارت مهاجرین افغانستان هیچ گونه پالیسی مشخص ای برای حمایت و کمک به بیجاشدگان داخلی نداشت. مقام ها در این وزارت می گویند پس از این می توانند در مورد بیجاشدگان تصمیم بگیرند. -- جماهیرانوری وزیر مهاجرین و عودت کنندگان روز سه شنبه 22 دلو 1392 در یک کنفرانس خبری در کابل گفت: «توزیع کمک ها، تامین حقوق بشری بیجاشده ها، عودت آن ها به مناطق اصلی شان، تهیه پلان های کاری و پیدا کردن راه حل های دایمی برای حل مشکل آن ها در این پالیسی مشخص شده است». -- پالیسی جدید ادارات حکومتی افغانستان، کابل و دیگر ولایات کشور را مکلف می داند تا زمینه زندگی بهتر را برای بیجاشد گان میسر سازند. براساس این پالیسی حکومت و سایر نهادها نمی توانند بیجاشدگان را به زور به مناطق اصلی شان که جان شان در آن جا در خطر است، برگشت دهند. -- پالیسی جدید ادارات حکومتی افغانستان، کابل و دیگر ولایات کشور را مکلف می داند تا زمینه زندگی بهتر را برای بیجاشد گان میسر سازند. براساس این پالیسی حکومت و سایر نهادها نمی توانند بیجاشدگان را به زور به مناطق اصلی شان که جان شان در آن جا در خطر است، برگشت دهند. --- وزارت امور مهاجرین و عودن کنندگان آمار مشخصی از بیجاشدگان ندارد اما براساس رقمی که کمیشنری عالی پناهندگی سازمان ملل متحد منتشر کرده شمار بیجا شده های داخلی در افغانستان به حدود 600 هزار نفر می رسد. -- در این زمستان سرد و سخت بیجاشدگان زیر ترپال ها زندگی می کنند - صدای آلمان

What do the jobless do when the benefits end? --- The end to federal jobless benefits for nearly 2 million people has sparked a bitter debate in Congress about whether Washington is abandoning desperate households or simply protecting strained government coffers. -- It is also providing real-time answers to a question economists have long pondered: How do people survive when they suddenly have no money coming in? --- Studies show that about a third of the people cut off from long-term unemployment benefits will find help from Social Security or other government programs. Others will cobble together dwindling savings or support from family. But most baffling to economists are the people who appear to come up with more-idiosyncratic solutions, which are tough to identify and almost impossible to track. --- Never in more than 65 years have so many workers been without a job and without a government lifeline. Congress cut off 1 million people en masse in December when it permitted a special emergency program for the long-term unemployed to lapse. Since then, their ranks have been growing by about 72,000 a week, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP), which lobbies on behalf of the jobless. --- On Tuesday, in testimony before Congress, Federal Reserve Chair Janet L. Yellen highlighted long-term unemployment as one of the central challenges of the U.S. economic recovery. Not only is it a sign that the labor market is still weak, she said, but it also shows that economic growth is falling far short of its potential. --- Someone who loses a job typically receives unemployment benefits from the state for 26 weeks. During the recession, however, the number of people who remained out of work swelled, and Congress voted in 2008 to provide additional aid that made checks available for as long as 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. -- Last year, lawmakers cut the maximum benefit to 73 weeks. Then, at the end of December, Congress let federal aid lapse altogether. -- Mitchell Hirsch of NELP said people were “thrust essentially overnight from a situation where they were struggling to make ends meet with their benefits into one where they’re now struggling just to survive.” Six weeks later, he said, “what we’re hearing . . . is increasingly desperate.” --- According to a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office, Social Security is the government program people turn to most often after exhausting unemployment benefits. But the share who do so is relatively small, just 18 percent. An additional 6 percent apply for disability insurance, and just 3 percent use government aid designed for families and children. --- “Some members of Congress are just in complete denial about the severity of the economic downturn,” said the Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, which has seen demand for food and other forms of aid jump since federal benefits lapsed. -- “Some people are interpreting the fact that we’re seeing signs of economic recovery as saying, ‘Okay, folks are all right,’ ” Snyder said. “That’s just not true.” - More, Ylan Q. Mui, Washingtonpost, at:

Michelle Obama lifts up U.S. designers, elegantly around her shoulders --- First lady Michelle Obama eschewed Chanel, bypassed Dior and said no to the allure of Balenciaga. Instead, as she stood alongside her tuxedo-clad husband to greet French President François Hollande, she celebrated American style at Tuesday night’s state dinner in honor of fashion’s heartland. -- She selected a ballgown by the New York-based designer Carolina Herrera. The bodice of the dress, which was sewn by hand in Herrera’s New York atelier, was crafted of black lace — beaded, embroidered and appliqued. It formed a delicate scrim over a corset in a pale, dusty blue that the designer described as “liberty blue.” The elegant skirt, with its inverted pleats, flowed into a modest train. --- The lines of the state dinner gown, with its rather simple skirt and restrained — almost T-shirt-like — bodice, call to mind the quintessential ease of American sportswear. For all the dress’s floor-length, glittering formality, it is neither stuffy nor overwrought. It exudes a confident casualness that is the hallmark of American style. -- The American fashion industry has a historical inferiority complex when compared to its French counterpart. It is a low-grade paranoia, based on a history of operating in Paris’s shadow, one that does not exist in relation to designers of Italian or British descent. --- Even today, the self-doubting persists. American designers from Zac Posen to Ralph Rucci continue to go to Paris as a way of testing themselves. “I think with France, there is a special sensitivity,” said Hamish Bowles, international editor-at-large for Vogue. “France is still the fashion capital. It’s still a center for innovation and excellence and craftsmanship.” -- So it meant something that on a night when the White House set out to dazzle its French guests, Michelle Obama elevated American fashion, placing it alongside other defining aspects of our culture that were in the spotlight. Instead of an homage to French culinary might, the White House offered the best of American food. Mary J. Blige, who came out of hip-hop — the music born in America’s cities, created by its striving underclass — performed for the French dignitaries. And instead of giving a nod to French fashion, Obama turned to Seventh Avenue. --- Until Jacqueline Kennedy arrived in the White House in 1961, the question of American design vs. French was not such a fraught consideration in the East Wing. But Kennedy was part of a group of women — women of a certain class — who were accustomed to the precise fit, the clean lines and the aloof grandeur of French style. She was a product of her demographics, but she was also especially proud of her French heritage. Other women in her social circle mentored her on French style. And they helped to orchestrate the memorable wardrobe for Kennedy’s trip to France in 1962, during which she wowed guests at a dinner at Versailles with her ivory embroidered Hubert de Givenchy gown, recalled Bowles, who was curator of “Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2001. --- Nancy Reagan, whose affinity for fashion was well known, felt a similar pressure and relied on the deans of American design such as James Galanos, Bill Blass and Oscar de la Renta for her wardrobe. - More, Robin Givhan, Washingtonpost

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

U.S. condemns Afghan decision to go ahead with detainee release --- (Reuters) - U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Tuesday condemned a decision by the Afghan government to proceed with plans to release additional detainees that the United States believes pose a militant threat. -- The detainees have become one more issue fueling tension in U.S.-Afghan ties, as foreign troops, who have been in Afghanistan since 2001, steadily withdraw. The U.S. director of national intelligence said on Tuesday he did not expect President Hamid Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement with Washington. -- "United States Forces-Afghanistan has learned that 65 dangerous individuals from a group of 88 detainees under dispute have been ordered released from the Afghan National Detention Facility at Parwan," the U.S. military force said in a statement. -- "The release of these detainees is a major step backward for the rule of law in Afghanistan," it said. "Some previously-released individuals have already returned to the fight, and this subsequent release will allow dangerous insurgents back into Afghan cities and villages." -- The detainees in question are among 650 held at Bagram prison north of Kabul, whom Afghan authorities have marked for release on grounds of insufficient proof to prosecute them. Washington objects to freeing a total of 88 prisoners it regards as a threat to security. -- Last month, U.S. officials objected to Afghanistan after the government directed the Afghan Review Board, a government body, to release 37 of the 88 detainees. -- Tuesday's development appears to put those prisoners, and 28 others, closer to release. -- "The attorney general ordered Bagram prison authorities (to) release 65 prisoners because they was no incriminating evidence against them," said Basir Azizi, a spokesman for Afghanistan's attorney general. -- The Pentagon's Warren said in reply to reporters' questions that "it is the U.S. position that these (detainees) are threats to U.S. forces, and should they take up arms against us, we will take immediate action." -- "Of course we would try to kill or capture them, as the battlefield situation presents."

Memories of Home as Hollande Visits United States --- WASHINGTON — President Obama welcomed President François Hollande of France to the United States on Monday, deferring for a day the customary ruffles and flourishes of a state visit to squire him to the mountaintop estate of an American president long identified with France. -- Touring Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson outside Charlottesville, Va., in the fading light of a chilly winter afternoon, Mr. Obama showed Mr. Hollande around the neoclassical villa that bears the imprint of Jefferson’s years as the American envoy to Paris. -- In Jefferson’s study, where the two presidents paused to admire inventions that allowed the author of the Declaration of Independence to write and read more efficiently, Mr. Hollande noted that one of the books was in French. In the estate’s kitchen, they were shown native-grown plants used in French cooking. -- Jefferson, Mr. Obama said to reporters in Monticello’s foyer, “was a Francophile through and through,” though his owning of slaves was a reminder of the need to keep fighting for freedom. Mr. Hollande joked that Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803, adding, “Today, we’re not asking for anything.” -- It was a civilized start to a visit meant to showcase the shared history of the United States and France — America’s oldest ally and one for the most part back in favor, with the acrimony of the Iraq war a distant memory. -- On Tuesday, Mr. Hollande will be formally welcomed to the White House, and in the evening Mr. Obama will play host at a state dinner that is most notable for the fact that the French leader will attend stag, which the White House had not planned on when it first engraved the invitations. - More, MARK LANDLER, NYTimes

امریکا غور می کند تا بخاطر امضای سند امنیتی انتظار بکشد --- شماری از مقام های امریکایی گفته اند، امریکا در این مورد غور می کند که بخاطر امضای موافقتنامهء امنیتی و دفاعی کابل و واشنگتن انتظار پایان یافتن دورهء کاری رییس جمهور کرزی بماند. -- روزنامهء وال ستریت ژورنال به نقل از یک مقام امریکایی گزارش داده است که اگر او یعنی رییس جمهور کرزی نمی خواهد بخشی از راه حل باشد، باید انتظار کشید تا ماموریت اش تمام شود. -- این مقام که نخواسته نامش اش افشا شود، گفته است این عملاً به اثبات رسیده که رییس جمهور کرزی ممکن این موافقتنامه را امضا نکند. -- به گفتهء این مقام امریکایی، آقای کرزی از خواست های مردم افغانستان نماینده گی نمی کند. -- در مورد این گزارش از قصر سفید سوال شده، قصر سفید در پاسخ گفته است، که موضع قبلی اش در بارهء این مساله تغییر نکرده است. --- به گزارش وال ستریت ژورنال، یک مقام امریکایی گفته است، بر اساس پلان جدید به اردوی امریکا صلاحیت داده شده که پس از 2014 یا زمینهء باقی ماندن ده هزار سرباز امریکایی را در افغانستان مساعد کند و یا همهء این نیروها را تا پایان سال 2014 از این کشور بیرون کند. -- به گزارش روزنامه، وزارت دفاع امریکا می خواهد که این شمار سربازان را در جریان دو سال کاهش بدهد و به این ترتیب در پایان دورهء ریاست جمهوری بارک اوباما در سال 2017 به جز از کارمندان نظامی سفارت امریکا در کابل زمینهء خروج همهء نیروهای امریکایی از افغانستان فراهم شود. - More, رادیو آزادی

Frustrated by Karzai, U.S. Shifts Afghanistan Exit Plans --- WASHINGTON—The U.S. military has revised plans to withdraw troops from Afghanistan to allow the White House to wait until President Hamid Karzai leaves office before completing a security pact and settling on a post-2014 U.S. troop presence, officials said. -- The option for waiting reflects a growing belief in Washington that there is little chance of repairing relations with Mr. Karzai and getting him to sign the bilateral security agreement before elections scheduled for the spring. -- "If he's not going to be part of the solution, we have to have a way to get past him," said a senior U.S. official. "It's a pragmatic recognition that clearly Karzai may not sign the BSA and that he doesn't represent the voice of the Afghan people." -- The military plan is the most significant example to date of how the U.S. has sought to minimize its reliance on Mr. Karzai, whose refusal to sign the security agreement amid a flurry of anti-American statements has upset Washington policy makers. The White House has said Mr. Karzai's refusal has raised prospects that President Barack Obama will order a complete U.S. troop withdrawal this year. Afghan officials had no immediate comment. --- Mr. Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have signaled their displeasure with Mr. Karzai by limiting their contacts with him. The U.S. and Afghan leaders haven't held a videoconference call to discuss the war effort since the summer, officials said. Mr. Hagel visited Afghanistan in December but didn't meet Mr. Karzai. Susan Rice, Mr. Obama's national security adviser, had a frosty meeting with Mr. Karzai in Kabul in November. -- The new message from the U.S. military amounts to an about-face from what some Pentagon leaders had been saying publicly for months. -- Now U.S. military leaders say a further delay is less of a concern, from their perspective. "The real challenge for the BSA delay is not associated with military planning," one senior U.S. military official said. --- Senior U.S. military and administration officials said the U.S. still feels a sense of urgency to get the security pact signed because of the implications for North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners who need more time to plan deployments. "The costs go up. The complications go up," one senior military official said. -- To step up the pressure, officials said, Mr. Obama is expected to ask the military to initiate planning for a full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan if Mr. Karzai doesn't sign the security pact soon, most likely before a NATO summit in Brussels this month. - More, Wall Street Journal

U.S., EU, Blast Afghan Law on Domestic Violence -- KABUL—Afghanistan's Western partners are protesting against new legislation they say would effectively make it impossible to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence, calling it a step backward for women's rights in the country. -- The Afghan Parliament last month voted in favor of a change to the criminal code that would ban relatives of the accused from testifying in court, a change that went largely unnoticed until human-rights activists commented on it recently. -- The legislation requires President Hamid Karzai's signature to take effect. If enacted, critics say it would be weaken the already tenuous rights of women and girls, increasingly under threat as Western influence wanes and conservative forces reassert themselves. -- Robert Hilton, a U.S. Embassy spokesman in Kabul, said Washington is "extremely concerned" about the law. "We are following the issue closely and have raised our concerns with the Parliament and the government. We hope to see the language amended," he said. -- Late Monday, Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign-policy chief, said the legislation, if enacted, "would be a serious backward step in the justified and legitimate struggle for the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan." -- And last week, Canada said it strongly opposed the legislation. -- At stake are billions of dollars in international aid that Afghanistan depends on to pay its government employees and security forces. Afghanistan's international partners in 2012 said Kabul must show tangible progress on women's rights in order for the aid to continue. -- While the partner nations haven't explicitly linked the new law to a continuation of aid, precedent suggests it could happen: Norway in October reduced its aid to Afghanistan, saying Kabul was failing to do enough to fight violence against women. -- Human rights groups have condemned the legislation. -- "This war was sold to taxpayers in these countries as being in part about rescuing women from the abuse they were subject to under the Taliban. There has to be continued progress," says Heather Barr, Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch. -- "There are not a lot of people in the government who view women's rights very differently form the Taliban," Ms. Barr said in an interview on Tuesday. -- Article 26 of the draft law, a copy of which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, includes "relatives of the accused" in a list of people who cannot be questioned as witnesses -- So far, Mr. Karzai hasn't spoken publicly on the issue. A spokeswoman for the president wasn't able to comment Tuesday. --- The law is the latest indication that the fragile progress made on women's rights is at risk of rolling back as foreign military and civilian presence is thinning out after more than 12 years of involvement in the war-torn country. -- Last May, for instance, lawmakers sought to repeal a crucial law aimed at curbing violence against women, saying it went against Islam. Some of them compared shelters for abused women to brothels - More, Margherita Stancati,. Wall Street Journal

U.S. intelligence chief says Karzai unlikely to sign security pact --- (Reuters) - The U.S. director of national intelligence said on Tuesday he does not believe Afghan President Hamid Karzai will sign a bilateral security agreement with the United States. -- "It's my own view, not necessarily company policy... I don't believe that President Karzai is going to sign it," said National Intelligence Director James Clapper, the highest level U.S. official to express such strong doubt, at a U.S. Senate hearing. -- When asked if it would "clear the air" if the United States were to declare it would just wait for the next Afghan president to sign the security agreement, Clapper said it could be positive. -- "It could have a salutary effect, I suppose, if we said that," he told the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. - More, Patricia Zengerle, at:

Afghan war movie probes German historical angst, self-image --- (Reuters) - Frustration with a lack of open discussion in Germany over its involvement in Afghanistan and over Berlin's treatment of Afghans helping its troops there spurred the making of the film "Inbetween Worlds" by director Feo Aladag. -- The movie's premiere on Tuesday at the Berlin International Film Festival coincided with signs that Germany - long wary of overseas military entanglements due to its Nazi past - is becoming keener to play a more active global role in keeping with its wealth and size. -- The film, whose German title is "Zwischen Welten", provides a very German perspective on the Afghan conflict and on the gulf in perceptions and expectations dividing the people of the poor central Asian nation and the Westerners trying to help it. -- Aladag recounted how irked she had felt on seeing a picture of a German soldier in full combat gear serving in Afghanistan who was clearly there "not just to build bridges". -- "Germany is doing this now, so why have we seen no feature films about soldiers fighting or dying in combat? ... We have to get a handle on this and be allowed to tell stories about it," she told a news conference. -- "I was also irritated by the way German politics deals with our local helpers working for ISAF (the NATO mission in Afghanistan). I thought the way they were being treated was unfair," she said, referring to Germany's reluctance to grant visas to Afghans whose work puts their own lives in danger. -- Despite having peacekeepers deployed today in various overseas missions, Germany still feels constrained by history and prefers to emphasize the humanitarian responsibilities of its troops, who operate under restrictive rules of engagement. -- "Inbetween Worlds" focuses on the relationship between German commander Jesper, played by Ronald Zehrfeld, and a young Afghan interpreter, Tarik, after their unit is sent to a remote village to protect it against Taliban insurgents. -- Jesper, whose brother was killed while also serving in Afghanistan, defies orders to rush Tarik's sister to hospital after she is shot by gunmen who view her and her brother as traitors for helping the foreign troops. -- Germany now has about 3,000 troops in the ISAF mission and they are due to come home by the end of 2014 as NATO hands over full responsibility for security to Afghan forces. - More, Gareth Jones, at:

U.S. Shifting Afghanistan Exit Plans: Report --- WASHINGTON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Frustrated about prospects of getting Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a long-term security deal, the United States is considering waiting until he leaves office before completing the pact and deciding on a troop presence beyond 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. -- "If he's not going to be part of the solution, we have to have a way to get past him," the Journal quoted a senior U.S. official as saying. "It's a pragmatic recognition that clearly Karzai may not sign the (deal) and that he doesn't represent the voice of the Afghan people." -- The White House, asked about the report, said it was standing by its previous comments on the issue. -- The United States would like to leave more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan for counterterrorism and training of Afghan forces after U.S. forces formally withdraw at the end of this year following a 13-year mission in Afghanistan begun after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. -- But Karzai has refused so far to sign a bilateral security agreement that Washington insists must be approved before it will agree to leave the troop contingent behind. -- The White House says that in the absence of a bilateral agreement, all U.S. forces will withdraw at the end of the year, and that a decision by Karzai is needed within weeks -- Karzai has called that an empty threat and suggested any security deal could wait until after the April elections. --- The top U.S. military officer, General Martin Dempsey, told reporters last December that the U.S. military could wait months for a political decision on whether troops remain in Afghanistan or leave, but that delaying a security pact would damage the confidence of Afghan forces and undermine NATO's plans. (Reporting by Peter Cooney; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Eric Walsh) - More, Huffingtonpost

Monday, February 10, 2014

NSA's Secret Toolbox: Unit Offers Spy Gadgets for Every Need --- The NSA has a secret unit that produces special equipment ranging from spyware for computers and cell phones to listening posts and USB sticks that work as bugging devices. Here are some excerpts from the intelligence agency's own catalog. --- Intercepting Packages and Manipulating Computers -- ANT's developers often seek to place their malicious code in BIOS, software located directly on a computer's motherboard that is the first thing to load when the computer is turned on. Even if the hard drive is wiped and a new operating system installed, ANT's malware continues to function, making it possible to later add other spyware back onto the computer. -- Many of these digital tools are "remotely installable," meaning they can be put in place over the Internet. Others, however, require direct intervention, known in NSA jargon as "interdiction." This means that brand new products being delivered by mail are secretly intercepted, and hardware or software implants installed on them. The package is forwarded to its intended destination only after this has been done. --- Windows Error Messages Potential Sources of Information -- One example of the creativity with which the TAO spies approach their work can be seen in a hacking method that exploits frequent errors on Microsoft Windows. Every user of the operating system is familiar with the window that pops up on screen when an internal problem is detected, asking the user to report the error to Microsoft with a click of the mouse. The window promises this communication will be "confidential and anonymous." -- For TAO specialists, these crash reports either were or continue to be a welcome source of potential information. When TAO selects a computer somewhere in the world as a target and enters its unique identifiers (an IP address, for example) into the corresponding database, intelligence agents are then automatically notified any time the operating system of that computer crashes and its user receives the prompt to report the problem to Microsoft. -- The automated crash reports are a "neat way" to gain "passive access" to a targeted machine, the presentation continues. Passive access means that, initially, only data the computer sends out into the Internet is captured and saved, but the computer itself is not yet manipulated. Still, even this passive access to error messages provides valuable insights into problems with a targeted person's computer and, thus, information on security holes that might be exploitable for planting malware or spyware on the unwitting victim's computer. -- Although the method appears to have little importance in practical terms, the NSA's agents still seem to enjoy it because it allows them to have a bit of a laugh at the expense of the Seattle-based software giant. In one internal graphic, they replaced the text of Microsoft's original error message with one of their own reading, "This information may be intercepted by a foreign sigint system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine." ("Sigint" stands for "signals intelligence.") - More, Der Spiegel, at:

ملل متحد: تلفات زنان و کودکان در افغانستان بالارفته است --- وزارت داخلۀ افغانستان، گزارش تازۀ دفتر معاونت سازمان ملل متحد در افغانستان (یوناما) را تکاندهنده خواند و از جامعۀ جهانی خواست تا در از بین بردن لانه های دهشت افگنی در بیرون از آن کشور، افغانستان را کمک کنند. --- دفتر یوناما، روز شنبه در کابل اعلام کرد که رقم تلفات غیرنظامیان در سال ۲۰۱۳ در مقایسه با یک سال پیش از آن ۱۴ درصد افزایش یافته است. صدیق صدیقی سخنگوی وزارت داخلۀ افغانستان، در عکس العمل به گزارش جدید دفتر معاونت سازمان ملل متحد در کابل ابراز تاسف کرده و آن را تکان دهنده خواند. صدیقی گفت: "افرادملکی که از سال ۲۰۰۹ تا به حال به شهادت رسیده اند، تکاندهنده است و این (موضوع ) را باید دنیا متوجه شود تا ما را بیشتر همکاری کند در از بین بردن لانه های اصلی تروریزم در آن سوی مرز افغانستان." --- ین کوبیش، نمایندۀ خاص منشی عمومی سازمان ملل متحد برای افغانستان، در کنفرانس خبری به خبرنگاران نگرانی خود را از افزایش تلفات غیر نظامیان ابراز داشته، کشتار های هدفمند را جنایت خواند. آقای کوبیش می گوید: "گروه های اند که از کشته شدن افراد ملکی احساس مباهات و غرور می کنند، اعلامیه های را به نشر می سپارند که در آن از هدف قراردادن و کشتن غیرنظامیان به خوبی یاد می شود. این گروه ها باید بدانند که این عمل آنان به مثابۀ جنایات جنگی محسوب شده می تواند." -- آقای کوبیش افزایش ماهوار تلفات غیرنظامیان را هشداردهنده خوانده می گوید که در مقایسه با ماه جنوری سال ۲۰۱۳، هشت در صد افزایش را در سال ٢٠١٤ نشان می دهد. در آن گزارش شمار کشته شدگان ۲۹۵۹ نفر و مجروحین ۵۶۵۶ تن ذکر شده است. اگرچه افغانستان نسبت داده است اما عامل ۱۱ درصد تلفات را نیرو های طرفدار حکومت افغانستان خوانده است. این در حالی است که نیرو های امنیتی افغان، مسوؤلیت امنیتی و رهبری بیشترین عملیات نظامی را در سال ۲۰۱۳ در افغانستان بر عهده داشتند و این گزارش نیز ده درصد تلفات را به نیروهای طرفدار دولت و نیروهای مخالف آن در جنگ های زمینی نسبت داده است. --- سخنگوی وزارت داخلۀ افغانستان می گوید که آن کشور با دشمن خطرناکی رو به رو است که از خارج مرزها دستور می گیرد. اگرچه آقای صدیقی از کدام کشور خاصی نام نبرد اما گفت که پولیس افغانستان تلاش می کند در عملیات به غیرنظامیان آسیبی نرسد. گزارش سازمان ملل متحد، هم چنان، تعبیۀ بم های ساخت خانه توسط نیرو های مخالف دولت را در ساحات مانند پارک ها، کنار جاده و روی بایسکل، بزرگترین کشندۀ غیرنظامیان عنوان کرده است. - More, صدای امریکا

Sunday, February 09, 2014

US to unveil $300 million in Afghan aid --- KABUL: The United States will unveil $300 million on Monday in new aid initiatives for Afghanistan for the impoverished nation as the war economy winds down and global troops withdraw, a US official said. -- The programs are being rolled out by the US Agency for International Development. -- The first tranche of some $77 million aims to enhance trade and fiscal sustainability to support Afghanistan's accession to the World Trade Organization later this year. -- "Peer-reviewed articles suggest that if countries like Afghanistan make the regulatory reforms required to achieve WTO accession, they will typically see a net jump in GDP of 20 percent within the first five years," a State Department official told AFP, asking not to be named. -- The program will help support trade deals with Central Asian republics and India, and aid the government to boost its revenues through implementing such things as value added tax. -- A second, $92 million five-year program will help develop a more skilled workforce, partnering American universities with 10 Afghan universities. This program went into force on January 1. -- The third initiative worth some $120 million will support Afghanistan's agriculture sector, focusing especially on areas such as wheat and livestock, improving job opportunities and food security. -- "Among other things, this program is expected to eventually benefit 400,000 farmers from access to better technology and marketing and produce a 20 percent increase in yields for wheat and target crops," the official said. -- News of the programs come as Congress has conditioned further aid assistance to Afghanistan on the signing of a bilateral security deal to guarantee the presence of US troops after all combat forces pull out this year. - More, AFP,

U.S. aid plan seeks to shield Afghanistan from end to war economy --- (Reuters) - The Obama administration will unveil on Monday a package of aid initiatives it hopes will help Afghanistan, still one of the world's poorest countries after a dozen years of massive international aid efforts, shield itself from the departure of foreign troops and an expected drop in assistance. -- The announcement from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) of three new development initiatives worth almost $300 million is part of a U.S. effort to ensure that Afghanistan, as its 'war economy' ends, won't slide backwards into greater poverty or reverse gains made over the last 12 years in health, education and other areas. -- "The question is, what can we do now to make sure Afghanistan is as healthy, sustainable and feasible as possible going forward," Larry Sampler, the agency's chief official for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said in an interview. -- The initiatives extend U.S. assistance for Afghanistan's food sector; seek to help the Afghan government boost revenue and join the World Trade Organization within a year; and secure agreements between U.S. and Afghan universities to ensure young Afghans are trained for jobs. -- Last month, U.S. lawmakers halved civilian aid for Afghanistan, reflecting growing reluctance in Congress to continue generous aid levels there, concerns about waste and fraud, and frustration with the Afghan government itself. -- The Obama administration continues to press Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a bilateral security pact needed to keep U.S. troops there after this year. His refusal to do so has strained already fraught U.S.-Afghan relations. -- Decisions by the United States on future aid levels to Afghanistan may in turn shape actions by other donor nations, which gathered in Tokyo in 2012 to announce their intentions to provide aid to Afghanistan for years to come. -- While the United States did not pledge a specific amount for future aid, it had promised to seek aid near current levels of just over $2 billion at least through 2015. --- U.S. officials said the new initiatives would not be affected by the recent budget cut, because they would set aside money now for the full four or five years they are designed to last. -- Sampler said the initiatives would aim, in part, to provide a buffer as the war economy winds down. As foreign troops leave, so will the contractors and service providers supporting military operations, and the knock-on economic activity they have created since 2001. --- Under the new USAID programs, $125 million will go to Afghanistan's food and farm sector, traditionally the base of its economy. -- While aid programs have poured millions of dollars into the farm sector since 2001, poor roads and Afghanistan's land-locked position in central Asia make food exports difficult. Sampler said the new programs would focus more on agribusiness and on getting crops to market than in the past. -- Another $77-million, four-year program will seek to open Afghanistan up to greater international trade and investment, and to improve tax and revenue collection. Sampler said Afghanistan may be able join the World Trade Organization in late 2014 or early 2015, which could give its economy a boost. --- A final program worth almost $100 million would seek to help 10 Afghan universities give young people the practical skills they need to work in the private and public sectors, in partnership with three U.S. universities. - More, Missy Ryan, at:

Dual Citizenship: Merkel Government Ponders Who Is a German - Chancellor Angela Merkel's new government has promised to introduce dual citizenship for children born to immigrants in Germany. Now, though, the left and right are fighting over what exactly that means. A new integration debate could result. -- Aydan Özoguz has come a long way. As a newly appointed state minister, Özoguz, of the center-left Social Democrats, has moved into several offices in the Chancellery with her team. Her core area of responsibility, integration, is one of the key issues for Chancellor Angela Merkel's new government. -- "We have broken a taboo," said SPD head Sigmar Gabriel when Merkel's new coalition government, which pairs her conservatives with the SPD, reached agreement on allowing immigrants to maintain dual citizenship. He was also proud of the fact that he was able to place Özoguz -- the Germany-born daughter of Turkish immigrants --in Merkel's immediate surroundings, as a kind of bridgehead in the Chancellery. -- But now it is becoming apparent that the celebrated dual citizenship deal isn't quite what it seemed at first. As soon as one starts looking at the details, it becomes apparent that the SPD and the conservatives have different ideas as to how a new law might look. And that promises to present Özoguz with her first great challenge. -- In coalition talks prior to establishing the new government, the SPD and the conservatives agreed to do away with the requirement that children of immigrants born in Germany must decide in early adulthood which citizenship they would like to keep. Now, however, conservative politicians are seeking to place new hurdles in the way of dual citizenship. - More, Der Spiegel, at:

Putin's Games: Influence Peddling at the Feeding Troughs of Sochi --- Though the Olympic Games in Sochi don't begin until next week, the victor is already clear: Vladimir Putin. The president has used the spectacle -- and the vast construction contracts involved -- to secure his own power and to rid himself of rivals. -- With his broad shoulders and massive head, the boss of Russia's railway system looks like the kind of man who is afraid of nothing and nobody. When his company lays track in Iran and North Korea, he is like a second foreign minister. With his massive budget, he is also among the most influential politicians back home in Moscow. And with a million people working for him, he is the country's largest employer. -- Yakunin is fond of wearing a uniform to festive events. The silver, oak-leaf embroidery on his collar recalls the time when the heads of the Soviet rail system held the rank of general. But for the recent opening of the modern new train station in the Olympic city of Sochi, he came in civilian attire: a dark blue suit with a pink silk tie. Even without his uniform, however, he stood as stiff as a tin soldier next to his president. - More, Der Spiegel

ولایتی شورا : نورستان ته دی لوړ رتبه هیت واستول شي --- د نورستان ولایت د ولایتی شورا یو شمیر غړو نن په پارون کی په یوه مطبوعاتي کنفرانس کي خبریالانو ته وویل چی مرکزی دولت باید یاد ولایت ته یو لوړ رتبه هیت واستوي. -- یاد وکیلان وروسته له هغه رسنیو سره خبری کوي چي څو ورځي وړاندی د افغان دولت لخوا نورستان ولایتی اداری یو شمیر چارواکي د غنمو په اختلاص تورن شوي وه. -- د نورستان د ولایتی شورا مرستیال مولوی عبدالغفور وویل چی یو شمیر نورستانیانو ته غنم ویشل شوي او دوی یی په بدل کي په خپلو سیمو کي کلیوالي پروژي جوړي کړي. -- همدارنګه نوموړي وايي چي پاتي غنم تر اوسه نه دي ویشل شوي او لاهم شتون لري نوموړي وايي چي په یادو غنمو کي د اختلاص خبر یو سیاسی دسیسه ده چی دولت یی باید مخه ونیسي. -- بل پلو د ولایتي شورا بل غړی ډاکټر شمس اصیلزۍ یاد خبر د نورستان د والي تمیم نورستاني پر خلاف سیاسي دسیسه بولي او د دولت یاده کړنه غندي نوموړي له مرکزي دولت څخه غوښتنه وکړه چي نورستان ته دی با صلاحیته هیت واستول شي تر څو رښتینۍ حقیقت ټولو هیوادوالو ته وړاندي شي. -- د یادولو وړ ده چي څه موده وړاندي د افغان دولت لخوا پریکړه شوي وه چي د نورستان والي د کلیو پراحتیا او استرار رئیس دندي وځنډول شي. -- یادي پریکړي د نورستان په ګڼو سیمو کي د خلکو غبرګونونه راوپارول او یاده کړنه یی په کلکه وغندله او له دولت څخه یی غوښتنه وکړه چي نورستان ته دی لوړ رتبه هیت واستول شي تر څو ریښتۍ واقیعتونه روښانه کړي. - خبریال زرداد شینواری - More, at:

Afghan soldiers desperate for pact with U.S., criticize President Karzai for delay --- ZABUL, Afghanistan — The Afghan soldiers fighting the Taliban have grown confident in their ability to combat an agile insurgency. But for those on the front lines, one question casts a shadow over the young army’s progress. -- What if the United States — and its funding — vanish from Afghanistan? -- That outcome has become increasingly probable with President Hamid Karzai’s refusal to sign a bilateral security agreement that would allow the United States to maintain a small military presence here beyond 2014. Now, Afghan troops are beginning to raise their voices against Karzai, demanding at great personal risk that he sign the pact. -- More, Kevin Sieff, Washingtonpost

Saturday, February 08, 2014

John McCain blames Karzai-Taliban talks on Obama withdrawal plans --- After a report that Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai is engaged in secret talks with the Taliban, Republican senators blamed the development on the Obama administration -- for broadcasting a desire to leave troops there only until 2017, when the president leaves office. -- The reason [Karzai] did that is because we're telling that we're leaving,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told the Washington Examiner Tuesday afternoon. “What would you expect him to do if everybody is out by 2017… he may be paranoid but there is a basis for his paranoia.” -- Key administration officials Tuesday briefed a bipartisan group of senators, including McCain, on the situation in Afghanistan after the New York Times reported that Karzai in recent months has had “clandestine” but so far unsuccessful talks with the Taliban to try to reach a peace agreement. -- President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also met Tuesday with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, as well as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, and Adm. William McRaven, commander of the Joint Special Operations Command. - More, at:

مکین: 'از روش کرزی متاثر هستم' --- جان مکین، سناتور ارشد جمهوریخواه می گوید که از مباحثات کاندید های ریاست جمهوری افغانستان اطمینان حاصل کرده است که توافقنامۀ امنیتی دوجانبۀ میان کابل و واشنگتن بعد از انتخابات ریاست جمهوری امضا می گردد. آقای مکین در مصاحبۀ با بخش دری صدای امریکا گفت: "هر یک از نامزدان ریاست جمهوری افغانستان در مباحثۀ تلویزیونی که داشتند گفتند که خواهان امضای توافقنامه برای حضور نیرو های امریکایی در افغانستان اند." اما آقای مکین تاکید کرد که کاندید ها باید از مدت زمان حضور نیرو های امریکایی در افغانستان آگاهی حاصل کنند. - این سناتور امریکایی باور دارد که نیرو های نظامی کشورش در افغانستان حضور درازمدت داشته باشند، اما در جنگ دخیل نشده و تلفاتی را متقبل نگردند. حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور افغانستان، اظهار داشته بود که با حضور امریکایی ها در افغانستان نباید جنگ ادامه یابد و تنها حضور نظامیان در پایگاه های نظامی در حالیکه در اطراف و اکناف افغانستان جنگ روان باشد، کافی نمی باشد. -- چندی پیش، جان مکین در مصاحبۀ با سی ان ان گفته بود که از خبر ارتباطات سری حکومت حامد کرزی با طالبان متعجب نشده است. آقای مکین به صدای امریکا گفت که رئیس جمهور متوجه آیندۀ خود و خانواده اش است. به باور این عضو سنای ایالات متحده، امریکایی ها کار های را انجام دادند که باعث عدم اطمینان رئیس جمهور افغانستان شده است. جان مکین می گوید: "از روش کنونی آقای کرزی متاثر است، قهر و یا عصبانی نیست. کاش می توانست از این بهتر عمل می کرد. اما بعضی دلایل منطقی برای عملکرد هایش موجود است و آن تردید و سر در گمی آینده می باشد. به طور مثال: رقم نامشخص عساکر، توضیحات در مورد عملیات نظامی - مطابق به توافقنامۀ امنیتی- که روشن نیست." مکین به این نظر است که با توجه به آنچه در عراق اتفاق افتاد "برخی از روش های کرزی قابل درک است." -- روابط کابل و واشنگتن در این اواخر به تیره گی گراییده است. به گفتۀ سناتور امریکایی، رئیس جمهور اوباما و همتای افغانش از ماه جولای به این سو با هم صحبت تلیفونی نداشته اند. جان مکین به این باور است که آغاز بیگانگی روابط میان کابل و واشنگتن در انتخابات ریاست جمهوری ۲۰۰۹ بر می گردد که در آن حامد کرزی فکر کرد ایالات متحده می خواهد در انتخابات دست کاری کند و او را از صحنه بردارد. اما روابط این دو متحد درست زمانی بیشتر به خرابی گرایید که نخستین گام علنی برای آغاز مذاکرات مستقیم طالبان با حکومت افغانستان با ناکامی مواجه شد. در آن مذاکرات، طالبان لوحۀ امارت اسلامی را در عقب دیوار دفتر طالبان در قطر نصب کردند که با مخالفت شدید ریاست جمهوری مواجه شد. -- آقای مکین می گوید: " آن چنانیکه من می بینم، رئیس جمهور کرزی بیشتر و بیشتر، به نظر من، غیرمنطقی شده می رود. اما برای این اعمال و اقدامات غیرمنطقی، یک اساس وجود دارد." جان مکین باور دارد که رئیس جمهور افغانستان به خاطر نحوۀ گشایش دفتر طالبان در قطر بسیار عصبانی شده بود و دلیلی برای عصبانیت وی وجود داشت. "اما تاسف من اینجاست که آن رویداد رئیس جمهور کرزی را بیش از حد به مسیر نادرست و غلطی سوق داد." -- در حالیکه یکی از شروط رئیس جمهور افغانستان در امضای توافقنامۀ دوجانبۀ امنیتی میان افغانستان و ایالات متحده آغاز عملی گفتگو های صلح با طالبان با میانجگری امریکا است، حکومت پاکستان مذاکرات صلح را با طالبان پاکستانی یکبار دیگر آغاز کرده است. اگرچه آقای مکین از آغاز گفتگو های صلح میان حکومت پاکستان و طالبان پاکستانی ابراز خوشنودی کرد و آن را مستقیماً برای افغانستان بسیار مثمر خواند، اما به باور آقای مکین تا زمانی که آی ایس آی، سازمان استخباراتی اردوی پاکستان، از نزدیک با شبکۀ حقانی و طالبان – که در پاکستان پناهگاه دارند - کار می کند، مطمئن نیست که شاهد موفقیت این روند و تاثیر آن بالای افغانستان باشد. -- این سناتور امریکایی ابراز اطمینان کرد که مردم افغانستان در انجام انتخابات شفاف و آزاد ریاست جمهوری متعهد اند و ابراز امیدواری کرد که انتخابات به درازا کشانیده نشود، اما تهدیدات امنیتی از جانب طالبان را یک چلنج در فراراه انتخابات عنوان کرد. کارزار انتخابات ریاست جمهوری وارد دومین هفتۀ خود شده و همۀ کاندید ها تامین امنیت، صلح، توسعۀ اقتصادی و زیر بناهای افغانستان را از اولویت های کاری خود عنوان کرده اند. - صدای امریکا

China Ready to Train Afghan Personnel: Xi --- affirmed its support for Afghanistan's integration into regional economic cooperation, saying the war-torn country’s fate is closely linked with that of the region. -- Chinese President Xi Jinping, at a meeting with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai in Russia on Friday, said Beijing wanted to further expand relations with Kabul. -- The two leaders were in the Russian resort city of Sochi to attend a grand opening ceremony for the 22nd Winter Olympic Games, which got under way yesterday. -- China was ready to maintain high-level exchanges and promote cooperation with Afghanistan, the Chinese news agency Xinhua quoted Xi as saying. -- He said China, scheduled to host the fourth ministerial meeting of the Istanbul Process, would push the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to play a bigger role on the Afghan issue. -- He promised Beijing would continue to extend assistance for Afghanistan's peaceful reconstruction, especially in personnel training, and encourage Chinese companies to invest there. -- Xi also offered enhanced cooperation with Afghanistan in the fight against separatism, extremism and terrorism, as well as transnational crime. -- Karzai, who will later in a couple of months, hoped the new Afghan president and government would continue to value cooperative relations with China. He also renewed his commitment to pursuing national reconciliation and reconstruction. -- Afghanistan, he added, will also maintain friendly relations with its neighboring countries and endeavor to help safeguard regional peace and stability. -- In order to achieve the goal of stability, Afghanistan wanted to have better relations with its neighbors, Karzai said, stressing the need for greater regional cooperation on issues of common concern. (Pajhwok)

سازمان ملل از افزایش ۱۴ درصدی تلفات غیرنظامیان افغان خبر داد --- سازمان ملل در گزارش سالانه خود از افزایش ۱۴ درصدی آمار قربانیان غیرنظامی در جنگ افغانستان در سال ۲۰۱۳ خبر داده است. -- در این گزارش که امروز (۱۹ دلو/بهمن) منتشر شد، آمده که آمار مجموع قربانیان به ۸۶۱۵ (۲۹۵۹ کشته و ۵۶۵۶ زخمی) می‌رسد که بیانگر افزایش هفت درصدی آمار کشته شدگان و ۱۷ درصدی زخمیان نسبت به سال ۲۰۱۲ است. -- سازمان ملل چنین افزایش در آمار تلفات غیرنظامیان در جنگ افغانستان را "عقب‌گرد" توصیف کرده و بمبگذاری توسط عناصر ضددولتی را عامل اصلی و جنگ زمینی بین شورشیان و نیروهای طرفدار دولت را عامل درجه دوم این تلفات دانسته است. -- این سازمان گروه‌های شورشی را مسئول تلفات ۷۴ درصد این غیرنظامیان دانسته و افزوده که ۱۵ درصد این قربانیان در حملات انتحاری و پیچیده و ۱۴ درصد دیگر در قتل‌های هدفمند توسط مخالفان دولت کشته شده‌اند. -- گزارش نیروهای دولتی را مسئول هشت درصد و نیروهای بین‌المللی را مسئول سه درصد دیگر دانسته و جنگ زمینی بین نیروهای مخالف و طرفدار دولت را عامل ده درصد دیگر معرفی کرده و تلفات پنج درصد دیگر را به هیچ جناحی نسبت نداده است. -- یان کوبیش، فرستاده ویژه دبیر کل سازمان ملل در افغانستان گفته که استفاده روزافزون از بمب‎های دست‌ساز توسط مخالفان مسلح دولت باعث کشته و زخمی شدن هزاران غیرنظامی شده است. او افزوده:"منازعه مسلحانه هزینه سنگین و بی‌رحمانه‌ای را بر غیرنظامیان افغان در سال ۲۰۱۳ تحمیل کرده است." -- سازمان پیمان اتلانتیک شمالی، ناتو، از این گزارش استقبال کرده و در اعلامیه‌ای نوشته که این گزارش بیانگر آن است که شورشیان عامل بیشتر تلفات غیرنظامیان است و نیروهای بین‌المللی اقدامات جامعی را در جلوگیری از تلفات غیرنظامیان روی دست گرفته‌اند. -- ناتو افزوده که بر اساس آمار نیروهای بین‌المللی کمک به امنیت، آیساف، طالبان مسئولت حدود ۹۰ درصد تلفات غیرنظامی هستند و استفاده از بمب‌های دست‌ساز و حملات این گروه نقض صریح قوانین بین‌المللی است. -- گروه طالبان با انتشار نامه خبری این گزارش یوناما را رد کرده و گفته‌است که عملیات نیروهای خارجی، تلاشی خانه‌های افغان از سوی نیروهای پلیس و ارتش افغانستان، اقدامات پلیس محلی افغانستان و دیگر نیروهای امنیتی افغانستان عوامل کشتار غیرنظامیان در افغانستان است. -- سازمان ملل در گزارش خود نوشته که بعد از سال ۲۰۰۹، سال ۲۰۱۳، "بدترین سال" برای زنان، دختران و پسران افغان بوده، به طوری که آمار تلفات زنان قربانی با ۳۶ درصد افزایش نسبت به سال ۲۰۱۲، به ۷۴۶ (۲۳۵ کشته و ۵۱۱ زخمی) و آمار تلفات کودکان با ۳۴ درصد افزایش به ۱۷۵۶ (۵۶۱ کشته و ۱۱۹۶ زخمی) رسید. -- سازمان ملل از سال ۲۰۰۹ به این سو تلفات غیرنظامیان در جنگ را مستندسازی کرده و در گزارش تازه خود نوشته که از همین سال به بعد بیش از ۱۴ هزار غیرنظامی کشته و هزاران تن دیگر زخمی شدند. - BBC

Nake M. Kamrany - Obama Is No Truman On War And Peace --- After having submitted his written recommendation to the White House concerning U.S. troops level after 2014, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. who command all international forces in Afghanistan impinged upon the purview of presidential decision making of war and peace when he requested an audience with President Obama on Monday January 27, 2014 to influence President's decision of troop withdrawal from Afghanistan - a possible subject in President's State of the Union speech. Instead of granting the General an audience, the President should have relieved him for crossing the line. Under the Constitution, the ultimate decisions of war and peace are those of the President's and generals are kept at bay. President Truman fired the highly decorated General Douglas MacArthur, hero of World War II, on the spot on 11 April 1951 when the General's views were determined to be contrary to his administration policies. Indeed President Truman set the standard on such critical occasions. -- Regarding the domain of authority on this subject under the eagles of the U.S. constitution Truman wrote, Civilian control of the military is an American tradition dating back to the founding of the republic in his 1956 memoirs, Truman further elaborated: 'If there is one basic element in our Constitution, it is civilian control of the military. Policies are to be made by the elected political officials, not by generals or admirals.' -- Although there was public uproar but Truman was correct to fire a decorated general - a fellow greater than life at the time, exercising presidential power and determination and brute force decision by keeping the General out of the decision loop and drawing the line on such issues. It has been reported that President Kennedy resisted the intrusion of some generals during the Cuban crisis for attacking the Soviet Union. -- Did General Dunford's request to meet the President after having submitted his written recommendation concerning U.S. final troop withdrawal crossed the line? Did it passed the test of time that President Truman had set on these issues approximately 70 years ago? Indeed such decisions are complex, they are embroiled in intelligence, secrecy, security, confidentiality, national interest and personalities involved in the White House for pro and anti-complete troop withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of 2014. However, the lines of authority and decision making must remain clear and intact and military generals and admirals must be kept at bay as the constitution requires; whose propensity for war may intrude. -- In this instance it is not clear whether the President decision was a sellout or it was it in the national interest? It would have to be determined from the analysis of the facts in the ground, i.e., what does the Afghanistan diaspora conveys after nearly 13 years of war? On this issue of troop withdrawal at the end of 2014, two prominent recommendations have been submitted to the White House that were diametrically opposed to each other and these proposals were made by credible organizations. One recommendation was submitted jointly by 16 intelligence agencies of the United States opting for "zero option." And the other recommendation was that of General Dunford's opting for continuation of limited NATO forces into the future. - More, Huffingtonpost, at:

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan up by nearly a quarter, U.N. says --- (CNN) -- Civilian casualties in Afghanistan increased 23% in the first six months of this year, the United Nations said in a report released Wednesday. -- The rise in the number of ordinary Afghans killed and injured reverses a decline in 2012. That was the first drop in civilian casualties since the U.N. began publishing the figures in 2007. -- The increase in deaths and injuries so far this year was mainly driven by the stepped up use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said in its report. -- Civilian deaths increased 14% from the first six months of 2012 to 1,319, the report said, while injuries rose 28% to 2,533. --- "The violent impact of the conflict on Afghan civilians marked by the return of rising civilian casualties in 2013 demands even greater commitment and further efforts by parties to the conflict to better protect civilians who are increasingly being killed and injured in the cross-fire," said Jan Kubis, the U.N. secretary-general's special representative for Afghanistan. -- Nearly three-quarters of all civilian casualties in the first half of the year resulted from actions by anti-government groups, notably the Taliban, the U.N. report found. -- The remainder were caused by pro-government forces (9%), ground engagements between pro- and anti-government forces (12%) and unattributed factors like unexploded ordnance (5%). -- The report singled out the devastating effect of the use of IEDs, which caused 35% of deaths and injuries. The devices killed 443 civilians and injured 917. That's a 34% increase in overall casualties from the first half of 2012. -- "The increase in the indiscriminate use of IEDs and the deliberate targeting of civilians by anti-government elements is particularly alarming and must stop," Kubis said. -- The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan welcomed the report, saying it had taken "a number of positive steps to reduce the number of civilian casualties in this country." -- "Unfortunately, the Taliban's demonstrated lack of regard for human life has resulted in nearly 90 percent of all civilian casualties so far this year. By continuing the indiscriminate use of improvised explosive device attacks despite the huge toll on Afghan men, women and children, the Taliban proves it does not take their pledge to protect innocent civilians seriously," ISAF said. -- But the Taliban criticized the report, saying it was "in favor of Americans and part of the propaganda against the Taliban." - More, Jethro Mullen, CNN, at:

Afghan civilian casualties rise as NATO pulls out --- Kabul — The number of civilians killed and wounded in Afghanistan rose 14 percent last year, the UN said Saturday, as NATO troops draw down after more than a decade of war. -- A total of 8,615 civilian casualties were recorded in 2013, with 2,959 killed and 5,656 wounded, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan's annual report. -- The death toll almost reached the record of 2011, with UNAMA saying that civilians killed or wounded in the crossfire of fighting between government and Taliban-led insurgent forces marked a new trend last year. -- UNAMA put this down to the reduction of ground and air operations by the US-led NATO force as it withdraws by the end of 2014. -- Afghan forces have been taking an increasing role in the fight against the Taliban as the coalition pulls out. -- More than 50,000 NATO-led combat troops who are still in Afghanistan are due to leave by the year-end. -- Last year also marked the highest casualties for women and children with a 36-percent increase in women and 34-percent increase in children's casualties, the report added. --- The death toll almost matches the peak figure of 3,133 recorded in 2011. The conflict has claimed the lives of 14,064 civilians in the past five years. - More, Emal Haidary (AFP) - at:

New US commander in Afghanistan focused on election security --- Keeping US troops beyond 2014 is a ‘longer-term issue’ -- Lt Gen Joseph Anderson takes command of Isaf in Kabul -- The incoming No2 American commander in Afghanistan said on Saturday that his immediate focus is on supporting upcoming Afghan elections, not on the possibility of US troops remaining after the Nato-led combat mission ends. -- At a ceremony in Kabul, Lieutenant General Mark Milley handed over International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) Joint Command to Lieutenant General Joseph Anderson. It was the last such handover, as the mandate for the US-led International Security Assistance Force expires at the end of 2014. -- The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has delayed signing a deal that would allow some a small number of troops to stay in the country after Nato combat troops withdraw, creating friction with Washington. The military has been pushing to keep up to 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan after 2014, but the White House says President Barack Obama will not leave any American forces in Afghanistan unless Karzai signs. -- General Joseph Dunford, the top US commander in Afghanistan, noted “the difficult political challenges”, saying in remarks at the change of command ceremony that the coalition’s commitment to Afghanistan’s success is “unwavering”. -- Anderson, who will run the day-to-day coalition campaign, acknowledged that the uncertainty around the security deal gives him a “little bit of pause” but said it was ultimately a “longer-term issue”. -- “Right now the immediacy is supporting the elections and earlier fighting season and getting through all that through the summer,” he said. “Then based on whatever number we have to deal with, we will adjust. -- “We’ll deal with each step along the way.” - Associated Press in Kabul - Gaurdian

Planning for post-2014 mission continues: Hagel --- WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): The Obama administration continues to plan a post-2014 mission in Afghanistan, despite an impasse over the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday. -- “We will continue to plan and work with our NATO and ISAF commanders for a post-2014 mission. You know that we've identified that as train, assist, advise and counterterrorism,” Hagel told Pentagon reporters. -- He would be travelling to Brussels in two or three weeks, with the post-2014 presence on the agenda, the secretary said, exuding confidence the BSA would be signed soon, The US continues to encourage Karzai to ink the deal. -- “The US president has stated very clearly -- and we are proceeding on this -- first, the combat mission of our role in Afghanistan has changed. That lead combat mission has been turned over to the Afghans,” he said. -- “Again, a post-2014 presence of the United States and our ISAF partners will be about continuing to train, assist and advise -- we do that all over the world with partners and allies -- as well as continue our counterterrorism efforts, which I think everyone supports, it's clearly in our interest,” he argued. -- Hagel added he Afghan army had performed pretty well in the last two years, but it was still in the institution-building process. Twelve years ago, there were not any institutions at all in Afghanistan, he recalled. -- The US was facilitating a continuation of investing and helping the Afghans invest in their own future, in their own institutions, to give them the capability.

حضور امریکا در افغانستان به رایگیری گذاشته شود، سناتوران --- شماری از سناتوران امریکایی از حزب دیموکرات و جمهوریخواه روز پنجشنبه از معرفی یک قطعنامه خبر دادند که بر اساس آن کانگرس باید در تصمیم گیری در مورد سرنوشت حضور نیرو های امریکایی در افغانستان شامل ساخته شود. سناتوران که این قطعنامه را تهیه نموده اند می گویند که از این پس باید مردم امریکا در مورد حضور نظامیان کشور شان در افغانستان تصمیم بگیرند. یک گروهِ از سناتوران امریکایی روز پنجشنبه گفتند که زمان آن فرارسیده تا نیرو های امریکایی از افغانستان به کشور شان باز گردند. -- این چهار سناتور از حزب دیموکرات و جمهوریخواه همچنین از معرفی یک قطعنامه به مجلس سنای ایالات متحده خبر دادند که بر اساس آن کانگرس نیز باید پس از این در روند تصمیم گیری در مورد حضور نظامیان امریکایی در افغانستان دخیل ساخته شود. مایک لی، سناتور جمهوریخواه از ایالت یوتا گفت که مردم امریکا باید از طریق نمایندگان شان در کانگرس در مورد حضور نظامیان کشور شان در افغانستان نقش داشته باشند. او گفت: "تصمیم ادامه قربانی دادن خون و پول مان در این جنگ نباید تنها از سوی قصر سفید و پنتاگون گرفته شود." -- این سناتور امریکایی هم چنان اضافه کرد که در صورت امضای توافقنامه دوجانبۀ امنیتی و دفاعی بین کابل و واشنگتن، "طولانی ترین جنگ در تاریخ امریکا" پایان نه، بلکه ادامه خواهد یافت. بارک اوباما، رئیس جمهور ایالات متحده ماه گذشته در سخنرانی سالانه اش در کانگرس گفت که "طولانی ترین جنگ امریکا" تا اخیر سال روان میلادی سر انجام به پایان خواهد رسید. -- ایالات متحده در نظر دارد تا حضور نظامی اش را به شکل محدود پس از سال ۲۰۱۴ در چوکات یک توافقنامه امنیتی با افغانستان در آن کشور حفظ کند. اما سرنوشت امضای این توافقنامه هنوز معلوم نبوده و اخیراً اظهارات تند حامد کرزی، رئیس جمهور افغانستان در مورد امضای آن، خشم مقامات امریکایی را در برانگیخته است. جو منشن سناتور دیموکرات از ایالت ویرجینای غربی و از حامیان قطعنامه معرفی شده، حکومت کرزی را "رژیم فاسد "خوانده گفت که معرفی این قطعنامه به رئیس جمهور کرزی این پیام را می فرستد که آنان بیش از این از او حمایت نخواهند کرد. این سناتور امریکایی افزود: "رئیس جمهور کرزی متحد ما نیست و او این را کاملاً روشن ساخته است." سناتور منشن علاوه کرد که در این قطعنامه آمده است که مردم افغانستان باید خود در مورد سرنوشت شان تصمیم بگیرند. سناتور جو منشن حضور نظامی کشورش را در افغانستان ناکام خوانده گفت که پس از این نیز ایالات متحده در افغانستان موفق نخواهد بود. -- وزارت دفاع ایالات متحده در نظر دارد بین ۸ تا ۱۰هزار سرباز امریکایی را پس از سال ۲۰۱۴ در افغانستان نگهدارد. اما قصر سفید می گوید که رئیس جمهور اوباما هیچ سرباز امریکایی را در افغانستان نگه نخواهد داشت مگر این که حامد کرزی رئیس جمهور افغانستان، توافقنامه دو جانبه امنیتی و دفاعی را با ایالات متحده به امضا برساند. ایالات متحده در طول بیش از ۱۲سال حضور نظامی در افغانستان بیش از ۲۳۰۰ سرباز اش را از دست داده و اضافه تر از ۶۰۰ میلیارد دالر را در آن کشور به مصرف رسانیده است. - صدای امریکا

Afghan civilian deaths up in 2013 as war intensifies --- (Reuters) - War took an increasing toll on Afghanistan's civilians in 2013 as fighting intensified between the government and insurgents, the United Nations said in a report on Saturday, with total casualties rising 14 percent. -- The gradual withdrawal of foreign troops has left Afghan government forces more vulnerable to attack by insurgents, and the resulting battles helped account for last year's rise in casualties, according to the report. -- "The new trend in 2013 of increased civilian casualties from ground engagements, including the alarming increase in women and children casualties, reflected the changing dynamics of the conflict over the year," the United Nations said. -- Last year was the worst for women and children since 2009, with the number killed or injured by the conflict increasing by more than one-third from 2012. -- About 27 percent of all 2013 casualties stemmed from fighting between the government and insurgents, and most of these could not be attributed to one side. -- "This 'fog of war' dynamic reflects the changed nature of the conflict in Afghanistan in 2013 which was increasingly being waged in civilian communities and populated areas," the United Nations said. -- The biggest single killer remained improvised explosive devices (IEDs), or bombs, detonated by insurgents in public areas such as markets, roads and government buildings. Bombs accounted for about one-third of the total civilian toll, which the United Nations put at 2,959 deaths and 5,656 injured. -- While both sides in the conflict were responsible for the increase in casualties last year, the United Nations attributed about three-quarters of the toll to the Taliban. - More, at:

عدم امضای موافقتنامه امنیتی چه پیامدهایی دارد؟ --- هنگامی که ایالات متحده امریکا ماموریت جنگی اش را در افغانستان به راه انداخت، پیروزهای سریع برای نیروهای خاصش اش، بمب های هوشمند و طیارات بی پیلوت اش پیشرفت را در کوتاه مدت یقینی نشان می داد. -- اکنون، بعد از گذشت بیش از 12 سال از طولانی ترین جنگ امریکا، این کشور خود را در یک باتلاق سیاسی چنان درهم پیچیده مانند جنگیدن در یک کوهستان می یابد. -- حامد کرزی، رئیس جمهور افغانستان که متحد نامنهاد امریکایی ها می باشد، از امضای موافقتنامه امنیتی که پس از ختم ماموریت ناتو، چهارچوب حقوقی حضور نیروهای امریکایی را بعد از پایان سال 2014 می سازد، خودداری کرده است. -- کرزی قدرت اش را مدیون مداخله نظامی تحت قومندانی ایالات متحده امریکا است که رژیم طالبان را سقوط داد، اما این ملیشه ها هرگز به طور کامل شکست نخوردند و به نظر می رسد که جنگ با و یا بدون حضور نیروهای امریکایی ادامه می یابد. -- مقام های ایالات متحده امریکا معتقد بودند که بعد از یک ماه مذاکرات و حمایت لویه جرگه ای که توسط کرزی برگزار شد، این موافقتنامه امضا می شود، اما حالا اکنون حوصله آن ها به سر رسیده است. -- تعلل رهبران افغانستان، تلاش های مقام های نظامی ایالات متحده امریکا و دستگاه های استخباراتی این کشور را برای برنامه ریزی ماموریت احتمالی بعد از سال 2014 و بیرون کشیدن سربازان که همین اکنون در دست اجرا است، پیچیده می سازد. -- جنرال مارتین دیمپسی، لوی درستیز ایالات متحده امریکا گفته است که پنتاگون دست کم تا «اوایل تابستان» پیش از آن که تاخیری صورت گیرد، گزینه های نظامی اش را محدود می گرداند. --- اعضای ناتو و متحدان اش که در نظر دارند بعد از سال 2014 نیروهای شان را در افغانستان توظیف کنند، منتظر توافقنامه امنیتی ایالات متحده امریکا و افغانستان اند تا ترتیبات حقوقی را در مورد نیروهای شان با کابل مورد مذاکره قرار دهند. -- در صورتی که موافقتنامه امنیتی دوجانبه با ایالات متحده امریکا امضا نشود، برای اعضای ناتو مشکل است حمایت سیاسی از پارلمان های شان به دست آورند. --- تاخیر کرزی قبلاً یک نتیجه مشخص بار آورده است. کانگرس ایالات متحده امریکا برای سال 2014 کمک های انکشافی به افغانستان را به نصف کاهش داده و به 1.12 ملیارد دالر پایین آورده است. - More, صدای آلمان

Extravagant pageant opens Sochi Olympics --- SOCHI, Russia — Glowing volcanoes, the planet’s oldest and deepest lake, great forests of birch, horses galloping in a 215-foot troika, Peter the Great, waltzing nobles, dazzling ballet, soaring opera, a cast of thousands and, yes, even revolution. The Winter Games’ Opening Ceremonies gathered the world into the great, chaotic, provocative embrace of Russian history Friday and wouldn’t let go. -- The scale bordered on the colossal. If London on its modest isle would do buzz, Russia would do big — befitting the world’s largest country, twice the size of the United States. Swan Lake? Of course, with the swans turning into doves of peace in honor of the Olympics and prima ballerina Diana Vishneva onstage. The Olympic hymn? Sung by opera diva Anna Netrebko. -- The cost? The most expensive Games ever, at an estimated $50 billion. The performance? Only one glitch in these problem-plagued Games, and it was quickly hidden. - More, Washingtonpost

Olympics Opening Ceremony Offers Fanfare for a Reinvented Russia --- SOCHI, Russia — With an outsize extravaganza that reached deep into the repertory of classical music and ballet, traversed the sights and sounds of the world’s largest geopolitical expanse, soared into outer space and swept across millenniums of history in a celebration of everything from czarist military might to Soviet monumentalism, a swaggering, resurgent Russia turned its Winter Olympic aspirations into reality on Friday night. -- After seven years of building to this moment — the opening of what is believed to be the most expensive Olympic Games in history — the message of the over-the-top ceremony was simply this: In a big way, Russia is back. -- The 18-chapter, nearly three-hour opening ceremony began at the symbolic moment of 8:14 p.m. — 20:14, as time is counted here — and provided a majestic spectacle that included a glowing troika of horses made of light streaking through a snowbound sky, the multicolor onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral bobbing in the air; literary references to Gogol, Tolstoy and Nabokov; images of Stalinist skyscrapers; and performances by Russia’s storied ballerinas, musicians and singers. - More, NYTimes

Taliban and Government Imperil Gains for Afghan Women, Advocates Say --- KABUL, Afghanistan — Advocates say that women’s rights and security in Afghanistan are under mounting assault from all sides — the Taliban insurgency and the government alike — putting at risk 12 years of hard-won gains for women here. -- The country’s Parliament is about to approve legislation that would strip away crucial legal protections. The insurgents have mounted a string of violent attacks on female officials. And advocates for women are deeply worried by the news that President Hamid Karzai has been negotiating secretly with the Taliban, who enforced hard-line, fundamentalist restrictions on women during their years in power. -- And the advocates see two potential disasters looming for Afghan women this year. One would be the failure to complete a long-term security agreement with the United States, which could lead to the departure of American and other international forces and aid agencies, by far the strongest proponents for women here. -- The other is the election in April to choose Mr. Karzai’s successor. The slates of many of the 11 candidates for president are dominated by warlords and fundamentalists who share the Taliban’s view that women should never be allowed out of their homes. -- “Women are not on the agenda now,” said Huma Safi, an activist with Equality for Peace and Democracy, an advocacy group. “Every time we turn around, they’re passing another law against women.” -- The killings of four female police officers since July and the abductions of and assassination attempts against female members of Parliament and their families in Ghazni Province last year have aroused concerns that the Taliban are singling out women for violence and intimidation, though all government officials, male or female, can expect to become targets. -- The moves in Parliament, on the other hand, seem like attacks from out of nowhere, advocates say, with the potential to do much broader harm. - More, ROD NORDLAND, NYTimes, at:

UN: More children dying in Afghan violence --- KABUL, Afghanistan — The number of children killed and wounded in Afghanistan’s war jumped by 34 percent last year as the Taliban stepped up attacks across the country and continued to lay thousands of roadside bombs, the United Nations said Saturday. -- Overall civilian casualties were up by 14 percent, reversing 2012’s downward trend and making 2013 one of the deadliest years of the 12-year war for civilians. -- The rising civilian toll underscores mounting levels of violence in Afghanistan. Taliban insurgents have ramped up attacks to try to gain ground and shake the Afghan government’s confidence as international combat troops prepare to complete their withdrawal at the end of the year. -- The U.N. Assistance Mission for Afghanistan said in its annual report that 2,959 civilians were killed in the war last year — including 561 children — and that an overall total of 5,656 were wounded. -- By comparison, there were 2,768 civilian deaths and 4,821 civilians wounded in 2012, and 3,133 deaths and 4,706 wounded in 2011. -- UNAMA’s report also noted an “alarming” new trend for 2013 — the increasing numbers of civilians being harmed in fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. -- “It is the awful reality that most women and children were killed and injured in their daily lives — at home, on their way to school, working in the fields or traveling to a social event,” said Georgette Gagnon, director of human rights for the U.N. mission, calling on all sides to work to protect civilians from harm. - More, Associated Press, Washingtonpost

Friday, February 07, 2014

Final bow: Teary Leno departs 'Tonight Show' --- So Long, Farewell, Jay Leno --- As he bade farewell to "the best job in show business," Jay Leno cast aside his trademark stoicism Thursday night and broke down. It was a moving and unexpected turn of events, capping a week of shows that brought back favorite guests, carried "best of" packages and showed off his comedic achievements but, until now, had not struck much of a sentimental note. -- Calling himself "the luckiest guy in the world," who got to meet presidents and astronauts and movie stars, Leno told the audience that he lost his mother in 1992, the first year he hosted the show. The following year, he lost his father. Soon after, he lost his brother. -- "After that, I was pretty much out of family, and the folks here became my family," Leno said, trying to fight back his tears. "Consequently, when they went through hard times, I tried to be here for them. People say, 'Why don't you go to ABC or Fox?' But I didn't know anybody over there. These are the people I know." -- Leno, 63, took a breath and continued: "It's fun to kind of be the old guy and sit back here and see where the next generation takes this great institution.... It really is time to go and hand it off to the next guy. It really is." -- Leno tried to end his goodbye speech by quoting the famous farewell of his predecessor, Johnny Carson: "I bid you all a heartfelt goodbye." The words tumbled out awkardly, but the audience knew exactly where he was going. Leno then turned to his good friend Garth Brooks, the night's musical guest, to liven things up with his song "Friends in Low Places." --- Leno may have "brought the room down" momentarily, as he noted, but the whole night wasn't a sobfest. Billy Crystal, Leno's good friend for 40 years and his first guest, led a star-studded rendition of "So Long, Farewell" that packed in several surprises and a few laughs. -- Who were Crystal's "Shut Your Von Trapp Family Singers?" Jack Black, Kim Kardashian, NBA star Chris Paul, Sheryl Crowe, Jim Parsons, Carol Burnett and Oprah. Burnett brought the house down with her Tarzan yell, and Oprah killed it with her lyrics, "You really raised the bar, if you were me, you'd buy them all a car!" By the time Crystal finished the song off, Leno was visibly shaking. -- For weeks, it's been obvious that Leno doesn't really want to leave the show he loves so much, though this departure has been handled very differently this time. Leno was pushed out in 2009 when NBC replaced him with Conan O'Brien. Nine months later, after a huge ratings drop, a vindicated Leno was back at the helm. -- In his monologues, Leno hasn't been shy about expressing himself. Even on his last night, he got right to it: "I don't like goodbyes. NBC does. I don't care for them." -- Then he added: "I don't need to get fired three times. I get the hint. I get the hint." - More, Maria Elena Fernandez, nbcnews, at:

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Agence France Presse: Taliban living in 'fantasy world': IISS defence expert --- The Taliban are living in a "fantasy world" and their chances of achieving their objectives after Western troops leave Afghanistan are extremely low, a military think-tank expert said on Wednesday. -- The Afghan security forces are "thoroughly in control" of counter-insurgency, said Brigadier Ben Barry, senior fellow on land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). - More, at:

انتقاد از حضور نیافتن همسر کاندیدان در کارزار انتخاباتی --- شماری از زنان فعال از کاندیدان ریاست جمهوری افغانستان می خواهند تا در برخی مراسم و محافل مبارزات انتخاباتی شان با همسران خود حضور یابند. بعضی زنان افغان می گویند این اقدام گام عملی در راستای عملی شدن تعهدات کاندیدان در قبال زنان و حقوق آنان خواهد بود. -- اشرف غنی احمدزی، داود سلطان زوی و قیوم کرزی از کاندیدان ریاست جمهوری در این کنفرانس شرکت کرده و به سوالات زنان پاسخ ارایه کردند. این کاندیدان اطمینان دادند که در صورت پیروزی در انتخابات برای مشارکت زنان در تمام عرصه ها، مصئونیت اجتماعی زنان و فراهم ساختن یک فضای مناسب کار در ادارات دولتی و غیردولتی برای زنان تلاش می کنند. اشرف غنی احمد زی، یک تن از نامزدان ریاست جمهوری در این مورد گفت: "زن در اداره امروز خود را مصئون حس نمی کند، هر نوع تهدیدی که برای جسم زن و یا حضورش در ادارات دولتی و یا سکتور خصوصی صورت خواهد گرفت با قاطعیت همرایش برخورد خواهیم کرد." --- در عین حال زنان شرکت کننده در نشست زنان و انتخابات می گویند انتظار دارند که کاندیدان ریاست جمهوری در برخی نشست ها با همسران خود حضور یابند چون به گفته این زنان حضور همسران نامزدان در این نشست ها نشان دهنده تعهد آنان به حقوق زنان خواهد بود و باور این زنان همچنان این اقدام یکی از گام های عملی نامزدان در راستای عملی شدن تعهدات شان خواهد بود. -- مبارزات انتخاباتی کاندیدان ریاست جمهوری به تاریخ سیزدهم ماه دلو آغاز شده و قرار است تا دو ماه دیگر ادامه یابد. تلاش برای برابری حقوق زن و مرد، فراهم کردن زمینه مشارکت زنان در عرصه های سیاسی، اجتماعی، اقتصادی و فرهنگی، حفظ دست آوردن های ده سال گذشته زنان در عرصه های مختلف، کاهش خشونت علیه زنان به نحوی در طرح ها و برنامه های همه کاندیدان شامل است. - صدای امریکا

After 22 years, Leno bids farewell to ‘Tonight’ --- BURBANK, Calif. — Jay Leno said goodbye to “The Tonight Show” once before, but that turned out to be just a rehearsal. On Thursday, Leno is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for successor Jimmy Fallon in New York. Leno gave up NBC’s “Tonight” in 2009 to short-lived host Conan O’Brien, then reclaimed it in 2010. -- Hosting the late-night show has been a wonderful job, Leno said last week, but this is the right time to leave. - More, Associated Press,

After 22 years, Leno bids farewell to 'Tonight' --- BURBANK, Calif. (AP) - Jay Leno said farewell to "The Tonight Show" once before, but that turned out to be just a rehearsal. -- On Thursday, Leno is stepping down for the second and presumably last time, making way for successor Jimmy Fallon in New York. When Leno gave up the venerable show to short-lived host Conan O'Brien in 2009, he did a prime-time NBC comedy series before reclaiming "Tonight" in 2010. - This time, Leno's out the door. -- "When we left in '09 we were going to the 10 o'clock show, so there wasn't the same sort of finality to it," said "Tonight" executive producer Debbie Vickers as the program counted down toward its last taping in its Burbank home. -- "It's going to be difficult to not come in and do a show every day for our audience who has been so great to Jay. ... And also hard for this group of people (the staff) who have all been together for 22 years," said Vickers, who worked on Johnny Carson's "Tonight" before taking the top job with Leno. -- Leno, 63, said he plans to continue playing comedy clubs, indulging his passion for cars and doing such TV work as comes his way - other than hosting on late-night. -- "It's been a wonderful job. This is the right time to leave," he said last week, and make way for the next generation. --- Fallon, 39, starts his "Tonight" Feb. 17, with NBC hoping he rides the promotional wave of its Winter Olympics coverage the next two weeks. - More,

Senators to Obama: Get approval before keeping troops in Afghanistan --- A bipartisan group of senators wants President Barack Obama to seek approval from Congress if he wants to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after this year. -- Leading the charge are Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; and Rand Paul, R-Ky. They introduced a resolution Thursday that would require authorization from Congress before Mr. Obama could commit any American troops to Afghanistan after 2014. Combat forces are scheduled to come home by the end of the year, and remaining troops would shift to an advisory role. -- "The American people deserve a voice in decisions of war and peace," Merkley said. "Automatic renewal is fine for Netflix and gym memberships, but it isn't the right approach when it comes to war." -- The White House and the Pentagon are mulling how to wind down the war that has dragged on for more than 12 years. The bilateral security agreement being negotiated with Afghan President Hamid Karzai could keep some U.S. troops on the ground until 2024. A competing proposal would maintain a residual force for two more years. One plan would pull out the U.S. contingency altogether by 2015. -- Mr. Obama and his military advisors "should bring their proposal to Congress so that it can be fully vetted, debated, discussed and approved or disapproved ultimately by the elected representatives of the American people," Lee said. - More, CBS News, at:

A law that would permit Afghan men to hurt and rape female relatives --- It is hard sometimes to describe the enormous efforts taken by the Afghan political elite and conservative lawmakers to roll back hard won progress on women's rights in Afghanistan. Here we have yet another frightening example: a new law, passed by both houses of the Afghan parliament and waiting for President Hamid Karzai's ratification, would prohibit the questioning of relatives of an accused perpetrator of a crime, effectively eliminating victim testimony in cases of domestic violence. -- In article 26 of the proposed change in the criminal prosecution code, those prohibited from testifying would include: husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and descendants of those relatives up to the second generation. Doctors and psychiatrists would also be banned from giving evidence. -- This proposed law is particularly troubling in a country where violence against women is endemic and, most commonly, is at the hands of a relative. In a 2008 study, Global Rights found that 87% of Afghan women will experience some form of violence in their lifetime; 62% experience multiple forms of violence, including forced marriage and sexual violence. -- Women for Afghan Women (WAW) can attest to these findings. Over 90% of the nearly 10,000 women and girls we have served since 2007 have been victims of domestic violence. Our clients have been raped, sold, beaten, starved and mutilated – primarily at the hands of a family member, or in some cases, multiple family members. -- Should Karzai sign this law into effect, justice for these women would be virtually impossible. Not only would they be barred from testifying against family members who committed crimes against them, any family member who witnessed the crime would be barred as well. - More, Manizha Naderi, Guardian, at:

4 questions to ponder ahead of Afghanistan's presidential election (+video) --- Afghanistan's presidential election campaign – the third running action-packed festival of vote-buying, ballot-box stuffing and intimidation of citizens – began this week with a wide-open field. The only sure thing is that mercurial President Hamid Karzai will be out of power when the dust settles, thanks to a term-limit in the country's constitution. -- Karzai's term is ending amid questions about whether the US and NATO will be allowed to keep any forces in the country beyond the end of the year. Karzai has refused to sign an agreement making that possible, saying the decision should be made by his successor. -- Meanwhile the Taliban is still potent and the country relies economically on foreign aid and a booming opium industry. After over $100 billion spent on Afghan reconstruction (by comparison, West Germany received about $30 billion in 2013 dollars under the Marshall Plan), there are few signs of an economic boom taking hold. -- Here are a few things to consider ahead of the April vote.- More, Dan Murphy, csmonitor, at:

New surveillance technology can track everyone in an area for several hours at a time --- DAYTON, Ohio — Shooter and victim were just a pair of pixels, dark specks on a gray streetscape. Hair color, bullet wounds, even the weapon were not visible in the series of pictures taken from an airplane flying two miles above. -- But what the images revealed — to a degree impossible just a few years ago — was location, mapped over time. Second by second, they showed a gang assembling, blocking off access points, sending the shooter to meet his target and taking flight after the body hit the pavement. When the report reached police, it included a picture of the blue stucco building into which the killer ultimately retreated, at last beyond the view of the powerful camera overhead. -- “I’ve witnessed 34 of these,” said Ross McNutt, the genial president of Persistent Surveillance Systems, which collected the images of the killing in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, from a specially outfitted Cessna. “It’s like opening up a murder mystery in the middle, and you need to figure out what happened before and after.” -- As Americans have grown increasingly comfortable with traditional surveillance cameras, a new, far more powerful generation is being quietly deployed that can track every vehicle and person across an area the size of a small city, for several hours at a time. Although these cameras can’t read license plates or see faces, they provide such a wealth of data that police, businesses and even private individuals can use them to help identify people and track their movements. -- Already, the cameras have been flown above major public events such as the Ohio political rally where Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) named Sarah Palin as his running mate in 2008, McNutt said. They’ve been flown above Baltimore; Philadelphia; Compton, Calif.; and Dayton in demonstrations for police. They’ve also been used for traffic impact studies, for security at NASCAR races and at the request of a Mexican politician, who commissioned the flights over Ciudad Juárez. -- Defense contractors are developing similar technology for the military, but its potential for civilian use is raising novel civil liberties concerns. In Dayton, where Persistent Surveillance Systems is based, city officials balked last year when police considered paying for 200 hours of flights, in part because of privacy complaints. - More, Craig Timberg, Washingtonpost

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

زرداد شینواری -- نورستان قومونو د تمیم نورستانی په ملاتړ غونډه وکړه --- د نورستان د ټولو ولسوالیو یو شمیر قومی مشرانو دینی عالمانو او ځوانانو په ننګرهار کی د تمیم نورستانی په ملاتړ ستره غونډه وکړه. -- یادو قومی مشرانو رسنیو ته د یو کنفرانس په ترڅ کی د افغان دولت هغه وروستۍ پریکړه وغندله چی په ترڅ کی یی د نورستان والی او یو شمیر نورو مشرانو دندی ځنډول شوی وي. -- نوموړی قومی مشران وایی چی که چیری افغان دولت خپله وروستۍ پریکړه وانخلي دوی به په ټاکنو کی برخه وانخلی. -- د دغو قومی مشرانو په خبره په نورستان کی دوی ته غنم رسیدلي او دوی پری په خپلو سیمو کی کلیوالی پروژی جوړی کړي. -- یادو قومی مشرانو وویل چی یاد ولایت کی ټول قومونه د نورستان پر والی تمیم نورستاني ټول دی -- دوی به چاته اجازه ور نکړي چی قومونو تر منځ نفاق رامنځته کړي . --- د یادولو وړ ده چي په دی ورستیو کی افغان دولت د نورستان والی تمیم نورستانی د طبیعی پیښو په وړاندی د مبارزی مشر افاق بریالي او د کلیو پراختیا رئیس دندی له دی امله ځنډولي چی ګواکی له نورستان سره په شویو شاوخوا ۳۰۰۰ ټنه عنم مرسته شوي عنمو کی درغلي شوي. --- More, at:

Kathy Kelly - Salt and Terror in Afghanistan --- We looked at UN figures about hunger in Afghanistan which show malnutrition rates rising by 50% or more compared with 2012. The malnutrition ward at Helmand Province’s Bost Hospital has been admitting 200 children a month for severe, acute malnutrition – four times more than in January 2012. -- A recent New York Times article about the worsening hunger crisis described an encounter with a mother and child in an Afghan hospital: "In another bed is Fatima, less than a year old, who is so severely malnourished that her heart is failing, and the doctors expect that she will soon die unless her father is able to find money to take her to Kabul for surgery. The girl’s face bears a perpetual look of utter terror, and she rarely stops crying." --- As children grow, they need iodine to enable proper brain development. According to a UNICEF/GAIN report, "iodine deficiency is the most prevalent cause of brain damage worldwide. It is easily preventable, and through ongoing targeted interventions, can be eliminated." As recently as 2009 we learned that 70% of Afghan children faced an iodine deficiency. -- Universal Salt Iodization (USI) is recognized as a simple, safe and cost-effective measure in addressing iodine deficiency. The World Bank reports that it costs $.05 per child, per year. -- In 2012, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) announced a four-year project which aimed to reach nearly half of Afghanistan’s population – 15 million Afghans – with fortified foods. Their strategy was to add vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc, folic acid, Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin A to wheat flour, vegetable oil and ghee, and also to fortify salt with iodine. The project costs 6.4 million dollars. -- The sums of money required to fund delivery of iodine and fortified foods to malnourished Afghan children should be compared, I believe, to the sums of money that the Pentagon’s insatiable appetite for war-making has required of U.S. people. -- The price tag for supplying iodized salt to one child for one year is 5 cents. --- The cost of maintaining one U.S. soldier has recently risen to 2.1. million dollars per year. The amount of money spent to keep three U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan in 2014 could almost cover the cost of a four year program to deliver fortified foods to 15 million Afghan people. -- Maj. Gen. Kurt J. Stein, who is overseeing the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, has referred to the operation as "the largest retrograde mission in history." The mission will cost as much as $6 billion. -- Over the past decade, spin doctors for U.S. military spending have suggested that Afghanistan needs the U.S. troop presence and U.S. non-military spending to protect the interests of women and children. -- It’s true that non-military aid to Afghanistan, sent by the U.S. since 2002, now approaches 100 billion dollars. -- Several articles on Afghanistan’s worsening hunger crisis, appearing in the Western press, prompt readers to ask how Afghanistan could be receiving vast sums of non-military aid and yet still struggle with severe acute malnourishment among children under age five. ---However, a 2013 quarterly report to Congress submitted by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan shows that, of the nearly $100 billion spent on wartime reconstruction, 97 billion has been spent on counter-narcotics, security, "governance/development" and "oversight and operations." No more than $3 billion, a hundred dollars per Afghan person, were used for "humanitarian" projects – to help keep thirty million Afghans alive through twelve years of U.S. war and occupation. - More, at:

Obama Weighs All Afghanistan Options in Meeting Generals --- The Obama administration is considering its options to withdraw some or all U.S. forces from Afghanistan as time runs out for a new security agreement, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said. -- “They’re planning for all options,” Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said after a closed-door briefing today with defense officials at the Capitol. “They have to.” -- With Afghan President Hamid Karzai balking at signing a security pact with the U.S., President Barack Obama has scheduled a meeting in the Oval Office today with his top defense advisers to review Afghanistan strategy. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Marine General Joseph Dunford, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, are among those scheduled to attend. -- Obama has pledged to remove all American combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of this year, while leaving open the possibility of retaining a residual force to train the Afghan military and mount counterterrorism operations. As of Feb. 1, the U.S. had 34,000 troops in Afghanistan, the fewest since the 34,400 when Obama took office in 2009. -- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said in an interview that several allied nations that have committed troops to Afghanistan can’t wait long to decide what role, if any, they will play after this year. In addition to the U.S., 27 NATO members have sent troops to Afghanistan. --- Levin rejected that argument, saying Karzai would have only himself to blame if the U.S. pulls out. -- “If he thinks we’re not going to be there, it’s his decision,” Levin said of Karzai. “He’s the one who’s not signing the bilateral agreement.” -- While Graham said he doesn’t expect Karzai to sign the security agreement, “we need to quit making deadlines if we’re not willing to enforce it.” --- Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told the House intelligence committee today that “over time, the Afghan National Army will have its challenges principally because of the loss of a lot of the intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance and aviation capability that will leave with U.S. troops in December. - More, Bloomberg

Skinny Puppy Claim U.S. Military Used Their Music To Torture Guantanamo Prisoners --- Vancouver's iconic industrial rockers Skinny Puppy have invoiced the U.S. government upon hearing that their music was being used as a "torture device" on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. -- Music has long been used as a wartime torture device. George Bush Sr. famously blasted Van Halen's "Panama" to drive Panamanian president Manuel Noriega from his refuge at the Vatican embassy. Then he turned the volume up to 11 during the first Iraq War, infamously playing Metallica and AC/DC. -- "These people haven't heard heavy metal," a sergeant said at the time. "They can't take it. If you play it for 24 hours, your brain and body functions start to slide, your train of thought slows down and your will is broken. That's when we come in and talk to them." -- Metallica was used again during the War on Terror "to induce sleep deprivation, prolong capture shock, disorient detainees during interrogations - and also drown out screams." (Eminem and Barney the Dinosaur also got some spins.) -- In 2009, Metallica's drummer Lars Ulrich told Rachel Maddow they didn't "advocate or condone" their music being used for torture, while noting, "If there are people that are dumb enough to use Metallica to interrogate prisoners, you're forgetting about all the music that's to the left of us. I can name, you know, 30 Norwegian death metal bands that would make Metallica sound like Simon and Garfunkel." --- Well, it looks like the U.S. military listened, and they may have moved on to the harder industrial sounds of Skinny Puppy. -- That's what the band's founder cEvin Key claimed in an interview with the Phoenix New Times discussing their 2013 album "Weapon." -- "We had a cool concept on the record because we heard through a reliable grapevine that our music was being used in Guantanamo Bay prison camps to musically stun or torture people. We heard that our music was used in at least four occasions. We thought it would be a good idea to make an invoice to the U.S. government for musical services, thus the concept of the record title, 'Weapon.'" --- While Key says they never sent the invoice ("the album cover is the invoice") he reiterated that they were none too happy about how their music was allegedly being used. -- "We never supported those types of scenarios. It's kind of typical that we thought this would end up happening, in a weird way. Because we make unsettling music we can see it being used in a weird way. But it doesn't sit right with us." -- If they had sent the invoice, they may have had a legal leg to stand on. In a blog post titled "Is Torture by Music a 'Performance in Public'?," Canadian copyright lawyer Howard Knopf argued yes. - More, Huffingtonpost, at:

Canadian band Skinny Puppy says its music used for torture at Guantanamo --- Canadian electro-industrial music genre pioneers, Skinny Puppy, recently found out their music was used to torture detainees at Guantanamo Bay. -- A former Gitmo guard, who is writing a book on his experiences, says that inmates were exposed to bootleg recordings of the band's music, at incredibly high volumes, for up to 12 hours at a time. Often until the detainees soiled themselves. -- Skinny Puppy founding member, cEvin Key, says the band is sending the U.S. Department of Defense an invoice for $666,000 for its use of their music. Members are also considering a lawsuit against the department. - More, CBC, at:

Factbox: Front-runners in Afghanistan's presidential election --- (Reuters) - Afghanistan's main presidential candidates have held a television debate two months before polls that Western allies hope will consolidate stability as their forces prepare to leave after nearly 13 years of war. -- Five candidates agreed on a range of subjects from cleaning up government to rights for women and all backed a security deal with the United States which would keep a contingent of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. -- President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign the deal is sapping already scant support for the war in Washington, which has halved aid for civilian assistance in the 2014 fiscal year. -- Following are some details about and policies of the five candidates who took part in the Tuesday debate on Tolo TV, and one who did not. - More, at:

U.S. freezes assets of Pakistan-based Haqqani militants --- (Reuters) - The Obama administration, under pressure from Congress to act against Pakistan-based militants blamed for fueling violence in Afghanistan, moved on Wednesday to freeze the assets of three suspected militants linked to the hard-line -- The Treasury Department said that Saidullah Jan, Yahya Haqqani and Muhammad Omar Zadran had been named "specially designated global terrorists," meaning that assets belonging to the men within U.S. jurisdiction would be frozen. -- U.S. citizens are also barred from doing business with the three men. -- The Obama administration has been struggling to contain the Haqqani network, which it blamed for involvement in a number of bold, high-profile attacks on U.S. and Western interests in Afghanistan, for years. -- The group is believed to be based in tribal regions of Pakistan, near the border with Afghanistan. --- In 2011, the United States' former top military official, Mike Mullen, made waves by calling the group a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's powerful intelligence service, ISI. In September 2012, the State Department officially designated the group as a "foreign terrorist organization." - More, Missy Ryan, at:

Televised Debate Is a First for Kabul --- Tuesday's Debate Shows Increasingly Sophisticated Approach in Wide-Open Contest -- KABUL—Afghanistan's five leading presidential candidates faced off Tuesday in the first televised debate of the historic race, showcasing an increasingly sophisticated approach to political campaigning. -- Mr. Karzai must step down after a national election scheduled for April, and his refusal to sign the deal has raised fears that the U.S. will withdraw troops completely at the end of this year and pull the plug on billions of dollars in aid. In Tuesday night's debate, three of the candidates closest to him—former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani, former Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and Qayum Karzai, the president's brother—all said they would back the security deal. --- The debate was aired as Afghan newsrooms prepare for blanket coverage of the campaign. Local media outlets are launching dedicated campaign websites, editors are dispatching reporters to the provinces, and candidates are prepping for a series of unprecedented debates. -- The vote, which would mark the first democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan's history, will decide whether the fragile democracy—and its fledgling independent media—will survive as international aid winds down and U.S. and international troops leave in December. - More, Nathan Hodge, WSJ

Anthony H. Cordesman - The Reality Beyond Zero and 10,000: Choosing a Meaningful Option in Afghanistan --- The United States needs to address the war in far more depth, with far more honesty and transparency, and make hard decisions about the cost-benefits of staying in Afghanistan. It also lacks the time to skim over it in a state of Panglossian indifference. The United States must be ready for the time almost all U.S. and allied forces leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014, and ready to deal with the economic consequences of major cuts in military spending and all forms of aid. -- This does not mean setting artificial deadlines. The Administration has already had enough problems in this regard. Before the President spoke, the Administration had said since late 2011 that the United States needed quick Afghan agreement to a bilateral security agreement in order to plan for an effective transition in Afghanistan. The day after the State of the Union address, however, the Administration was giving background briefings indicating that the United States planned to keep enough troops in place so that it could still carry out an effective transition plan after the Afghan national election in April 2014. -- The fact remains, however, that time is running out to decide on what conditions the United States must set for staying, for shaping an integrated civil military plan that will allow the Administration to make a suitable FY2015 budget request to Congress, decide what facilities and service it needs to keep in Afghanistan, and plan personnel reduction in a way that ensures that the right people are there after most forces leave and Transition becomes a reality. -- Equally important, the Obama Administration needs to make its case for staying based on a serious analysis of the cost-benefits and strategic value of its recommended plan –not repeat another round of strategic clichés and empty rhetoric. It needs to determine whether it has the Congressional and public support it needs. It needs to be sure key allies will join it. It needs to clearly communicate its conditions for staying to the Afghans. And, it needs to be ready to decide whether the Afghan election in April justifies the United States staying, and make it clear that the United States either gets the Afghan terms and support it needs or it will leave. - More, CSIS, at:

Old Tensions Resurface in Debate Over U.S. Role in Post-2014 Afghanistan --- WASHINGTON — President Obama brought his top Afghanistan commanders to the Oval Office on Tuesday to discuss the way forward in a war he is determined to end by the end of the year, even as he finds himself stymied by an unreliable partner and an uncertain future. -- Increasingly vexed by Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president, Mr. Obama is trying to figure out what form a residual force might take after the bulk of American troops leave by December and what would happen if no Americans stayed behind at all. The debate has rekindled some of the tensions within the administration that divided it in its early days. -- With Mr. Karzai reinforcing Washington’s view of him as an erratic ally, skeptics of the administration’s Afghan strategy are increasingly open to withdrawing entirely at the end of 2014. Some in Mr. Obama’s civilian circle suspect that his generals may be trying to manipulate him with an all-or-nothing approach to a residual force. Military officials say they are trying to leave options open and are themselves more ambivalent than ever about staying. -- The internal dynamics involved in the review, described by a variety of current and former White House, administration and military officials, are complicating what could be one of the most important decisions Mr. Obama makes this year. The president wants to avoid a repeat of what has happened in Iraq, which is again under siege, and yet he considers extricating the United States from Afghanistan a signature achievement for his legacy. -- “The question is: The lessons of Iraq, are they transferable to Afghanistan?” asked Barry Pavel, a former defense policy adviser to Mr. Obama. “Will the same risks emerge? That’s got to be a daunting, overhanging question for the administration.” -- While Mr. Obama promised in his State of the Union address last week that “we will complete our mission” in Afghanistan this year and that “America’s longest war will finally be over,” any hopes for a relatively clean exit have grown dimmer by the day. -- Dysfunction reigns in Kabul. American aid dollars have disappeared. Terrorism suspects may be released from Afghan prisons. And Mr. Karzai has refused to sign an agreement for a residual force beyond December, and instead has been fruitlessly contacting the Taliban about peace talks that have yet to materialize. -- While Washington has long been frustrated by Mr. Karzai, what little patience remains has ebbed in recent weeks as he blamed American forces for terrorist attacks on civilians, threatened to release prisoners deemed dangerous by the international coalition and likened the United States to a “colonial power.” -- Facing a NATO meeting of defense ministers later this month where it had hoped to secure allied commitments beyond 2014, the White House is trying to figure out its plan. But officials in Washington are increasingly resigned to having to wait until after the Afghan presidential election in April to deal with Mr. Karzai’s successor instead. --- The exasperation with Mr. Karzai has grown so strong that even Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, one of the most ardent supporters of the American partnership with Afghanistan, warned last week that he might push Congress to cut off all development aid. -- “Here’s what he needs to understand: I’ve been going to Afghanistan for years; I believe in the partnership,” Mr. Graham said. “This idea of trying to squeeze more out of us has got to stop. There is no more to be squeezed. I don’t think he understands how easy it would be for a politician in America to sever this relationship.” --- As part of his review, Mr. Obama met Tuesday with Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the general’s vice chairman, Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr.; Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., commander of American and allied forces in Afghanistan; Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the head of the United States Central Command; and Adm. William H. McRaven, head of the United States Special Operations Command. -- About 36,500 American troops and 19,000 foreign troops remain in Afghanistan. NATO has planned for a residual force of 8,000 to 12,000, with two-thirds of them American. But American military officials lately have suggested keeping a force of 10,000 Americans, presumably with another 5,000 foreign troops, or leaving Afghanistan altogether. -- The idea of all-or-nothing has generated suspicion of military motives. “I think what we’re seeing is the military doing what it always does, which is to squeeze the president rather than finding a way out,” said a former administration official. - More, NYTimes, at:

اولسون خواستار توقف مداخلات خارجی در افغانستان شد --- یک دپلومات ارشد امریکایی می گوید که کشور های منطقه نباید در امور داخلی افغانستان مداخله کنند. ریچارد اولسون، سفیر ایالات متحده در پاکستان می گوید که امریکا از پروسه صلحی که به رهبری و اختیار خود افغان ها باشد، پشتیبانی می کند. آقای اولسون به صدای امریکا در اسلام آباد گفت: "ما از چنین روندی پشتیبانی می کنیم و به باور من حکومت پاکستان از آن پشتیبانی می کند." -- سفیر ایالات متحده در پاکستان افزود: "نکتۀ حایز اهمیت برای افغانستان این است که همه جناح های منطقه یی در انکشافات داخلی آن کشور مداخله نکنند و از یک روند افغانی و به رهبری افغان ها پشتیبانی کنند." آقای اولسون از بهبود روابط میان ایالات متحده و پاکستان نیز خبرداد. این روابط در سال ۲۰۱۱ به گونۀ ویژه زمانی رو به وخامت نهاد که اسامه بن لادن، رهبر پیشین القاعده در داخل قلمرو و در نزدیکی اسلام آباد، مرکز سیاسی پاکستان کشته شد و چند ماه بعد ۲۴ سرباز پاکستانی در حملۀ هوایی نیرو های ناتو کشته شد. اما سفیر ایالات متحده در پاکستان می گوید که هر دو کشور اکنون از این مرحلۀ دشوار گذشته است. -- آقای اولسون اظهار عقیده کرده گفت: "روابط از آن زمان تا کنون به خصوص در هشت ماه گذشته بسیار مثبت بوده است. هر دو طرف درک می کند که نکات مورد توافق میان دو کشور بیشتر از موارد اختلاف است. ما بر مبنای علایق مشترک و بر بنیاد احترام متقابل برای انکشاف روابط با هم کار می کنیم." - صدای امریکا

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Foreign Policy - The Top 10 Mistakes Made in the Afghan War -- From Tora Bora to wartime fatigue, the U.S. legacy in Afghanistan was just one failed endeavor after another. --- America's long war in Afghanistan isn't likely to end well, and the American people seem to know it. Despite a wholly predictable effort to portray the war as an American victory, the United States isn't going to defeat the Taliban between now and the scheduled departure of most U.S. troops later this year. Meanwhile, relations between the United States and the Karzai government are going from bad to worse. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is not only refusing to sign a security agreement that would allow the United States to leave a residual force in country, he is also making increasingly strident accusations that the United States is to blame for recent civilian deaths. -- This depressing outcome is not what most Americans expected following the rapid toppling of the Taliban back in 2001. It is therefore important that we draw the right lessons from the experience, if only to partly redeem the sacrifices made by the soldiers who fought there. In that spirit, here is a list of the top 10 mistakes made in America's Afghan War. - More, Stephen M. Walt, at:

قیوم کرزی:فدرالي نظام دفغانستان لپاره ناسم نظام دی --- د افغانسان دولسمشري‌ټاکنو ته کاندید قیوم خان کرزی وايي چې دم ګړی افغانستان دفدرالي‌نظام لپاره تیار نه دی . نوموړی وايي چې فدرالي نظام په امریکا کې شتون لري او دهغوی لپاره ښه نظام دی ،خو دا چې په افغانستان کې اقتصادي ستونزي دي ، جنګ جګړې او نالوستي زیاته ده ،دم ګړی افغانستان دفدرالي نظام لپاره ناسم نظام دی، د ده په وینا په افغانستان کې فدرالي نظام په دې معنا تعریف سوی چې خدای مکړه افغانستان دماتېدو له ګواښ سره مخامخ کوي . -- د قیوم کرزي په عقیده ولسوالیو ،کلیو او ښارونو ته واک او اختیار ورکول نوري لاري ‌هم لري خو دا هرڅه دیوه قوي ‌حکومت په چوکاټ پوري تړاو لري . -- هم داراز قیوم کرزی په افغانستان کې د اداري فساد په وړاندي دمبارزې لپاره هم یوه طرحه وړاندي‌کړه . دمعاشاتو لوړول ، وړکسانو ته کار سپارل او کاري زمینې برابرول د درسنیو په مرسته د فساد پرضد مبارزه او د قانون عملي کول هغه څه دي ‌چې افغانستان له فساد څخه ژغورلای شي . -- دا خبري د افغانستان ولسمشري ته کاندید قیوم کرزي د تلو ټلویزون په یوه مناظره کې وکړې . هغه وویل چې افغانستان د جګړې له بدمرغي سره سره داداري فساد له ناوړه بدمرغي سره هم لاس او ګریوان دی چې دولسي وګړو ژوند یې له ګواښ سره مخامخ کړی دی . نوموړی وايي چې که ولس رایه ورکړه او دی ولسمشر شو ددې ستونزو دحل لپاره یې ښه نسخه موندلې ده . -- قیوم کرزی په دې باور دی چې که چېرته د مامور معاش لوړ وي هغه په اساني د خپل ضیر پلورلو ته نه اماده کېږي . دی وايي چې خلکو ته باید د کار زمینه برابره شي او ځکه یې هڅه داده چې دحکومت لویه برخه به یې پر اقتصادي پلو راڅرخي‌. قیوم کرزی په افغانستان کې په جګړه کې ښکیل اکثره کسان هم داقتصاد له پلوه مجبوره ګڼي چې جګړې ته یې مخه کړې ده -- د سولي پروسه او دسولي‌په تړاو هره خبره کول ښاغلی کرزی دافغانانو بری غواړي او وايي چې بری په سوله کې دی . دی وايي چې دکرزي دحکومت له پیل نه یې په سوله یزو هڅو لاس پوري کړی دی او لا هم دا لړۍ روانه ده . -- قیوم کرزی وايي چې ښځي دافغانستان او عزتمند قشر دی او کولای شي چې دده دحکومت په دوران کې په هره برخه کې کار وکړي . --نوموړی وايي چې تر بریالیتوب وروسته به ښځو ته دوړو – وړو پورونو او کمپنیو په جوړولو کې پوره اقدامات وکړي . -- هغه وايي چې په افغانستان کې تر ټولو اول سولي او امنیت ته کار کول دي ،وروسته اقتصاد او پرمختګ دافغانانو تقدیر بدلولای شي . - خبریال ډاټ کام

U.S. said to curtail drone strikes in Pakistan as officials there seek peace talks with Taliban --- The Obama administration has sharply curtailed drone strikes in Pakistan after a request from the government there for restraint as it pursues peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, according to U.S. officials. -- “That’s what they asked for, and we didn’t tell them no,” one U.S. official said. The administration indicated that it will still carry out strikes against senior al-Qaeda targets, if they become available, and move to thwart any direct, imminent threat to U.S. persons. -- Concern about Pakistani political sensitivities provides one explanation for the absence of strikes since December, the longest pause in the CIA’s drone campaign since a six-week lull in 2011, after an errant U.S. air assault killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at a border post, triggering a diplomatic crisis. -- The current pause follows a November strike that killed Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud just days before an initial attempt at peace talks was scheduled to begin. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government accused the United States of trying to sabotage the talks, and the Taliban canceled the meeting. -- Since then, the Obama administration has worked to improve relations with Sharif, who took office last June in the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistani history. Administration officials have praised his efforts to address serious structural problems in Pakistan and to promote peace in the region. -- A senior administration official, in response to queries, denied that any informal agreement had been reached, saying that “the issue of whether to negotiate with the Pakistani Taliban is entirely an internal matter for Pakistan.” --- The administration is “continuing to aggressively identify and disrupt terrorist threats in the Afghan war theater and outside areas of active hostilities in line with our established CT [counterterrorism] objectives and legal and policy standards. . . . Reports that we have agreed to a different approach in support of Pakistani peace talks are wrong,” said the senior official, one of several interviewed for this article who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the sensitive matter. -- Relations with Pakistan have warmed even as U.S. tensions have worsened with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has accused the administration of plotting against him, both with Pakistan and with the Pakistan-based Afghan Taliban, a separate but allied organization with which he has said he is trying to start his own peace negotiations. --- The new round of Pakistan- Taliban talks, which was due to begin Tuesday, was postponed by the government after two members of a Taliban-named delegation declined to participate. -- Disclosure of a pause in the drone campaign in Pakistan came as a senior Republican lawmaker assailed the Obama administration for tightening the guidelines under which lethal drone strikes are permitted. -- Rep. Mike Rogers (Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that policy changes made by President Obama last year to the drone program “are an utter and complete failure, and they leave Americans’ lives at risk.” - More, Washingtonpost

Obama gets advice from military leaders on Afghanistan --- (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday discussed options with U.S. military commanders about America's presence in Afghanistan next year as the two nations debate over whether a U.S. troop contingent will be there at all. -- The White House said Obama sat down in the Oval Office with General Joseph Dunford, who commands international forces in Afghanistan; Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel; General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and other defense and White House officials. -- The United States would like to leave more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan for counterterrorism and training of Afghan forces after U.S. forces formally withdraw at the end of this year. The 13-year mission in Afghanistan began after the September 11, 2001, attacks. -- The White House says in the absence of a bilateral agreement, all U.S. forces will withdraw at the end of the year, and that a decision by Karzai is needed within weeks. -- A White House spokesman, Laura Lucas Magnuson, said Obama had a useful, constructive meeting with the military officials. -- "The president continues to weigh inputs from military officials, as well as the intelligence community, our diplomats, and development experts and has not yet made decisions regarding the post-2014 U.S. presence," she said. -- U.S. defense officials would like the issue settled before NATO defense ministers meet in Brussels in early March. -- Tuesday's meeting was the second major meeting Obama has held on Afghanistan in recent weeks. He met top national security advisers on the issue in mid-January. - More, at:

Robert Scheer - The Super Bowl of War: Three Decades of Failure in Afghanistan --- A Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl, that annual celebration of violence as sport, featured a most joyous homecoming for a U.S. veteran of the Afghan War. It was a fitting tribute to the fact that he survived, but you would have to be drunk on Bud not to notice that the three decades since the United States first meddled in Afghanistan have been an unequivocal disaster and that those who did not survive -- NATO combatants and far larger number of Afghan natives -- died in vain. -- This was a point made clearly but largely unnoticed on that day of obligatory patriotic flag waving in an interview with Hamid Karzai, the U.S. anointed leader of Afghanistan, who told British newspaper The Sunday Times of London that "I saw no good" resulting from yet another American adventure in imperial democracy: -- "This whole 12 years was one of constant pleading with America to treat the lives of our civilians as lives of people," Karzai stated, continuing his denunciation of the terror of anti-terrorism exemplified by Bush's orgy of torture followed by Obama's drone attacks that traumatize the Afghan countryside. Karzai, no stranger to corruption and contradiction, has refused to sign a pact authorizing a continued and much reduced U.S. presence in his country unless all such unilateral military attacks on his people are ended. As for the Taliban enemy that the U.S. invasion had temporarily deposed, Karzai referred to them as "brothers" while he dismissed his erstwhile American sponsors as "rivals," indicating that Obama now has his own "mission accomplished" embarrassment. -- Maybe that dismal outcome of the Obama-ordered surge, comparable to the ultimate failure of Bush's in Iraq, is why Karzai observed that he and Obama have not spoken directly since June. For the Democratic hawks, Afghanistan was going to be the good war, but Obama has learned, as did then-President Jimmy Carter more than 30 years ago, that the Afghans are not to be toyed with. -- In Carter's case back in the late 1970s, he was convinced by Zbigniew Brzezinski, the president's terminally confident national security adviser, that supporting Muslim extremists to overthrow a secular pro-Soviet government in power in Kabul would draw our main international adversary into its version of our Vietnam quagmire. What fun but the strategy failed, and the Soviets didn't invade until the U.S. imported sufficient foreign fighters to destabilize a country on their border. -- When Obama, back in December 2009, launched a troop "surge" in Afghanistan, he argued that "we did not ask for this fight," but of course we did. To know that, all he had to do was ask his then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who had been an adviser to Carter and, in a 1996 memoir, exposed "Carter's never-before-revealed covert support to Afghan mujahedeen six months before the Soviets invaded." -- After Gates' admission, French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur asked Brzezinski whether he regretted "having given arms and advice to future terrorists," and he replied: "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet Empire? Some stirred up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?" -- He said that in 1998, and three years later, "some stirred up Muslims" flew hijacked planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The eradication of their movement became our national obsession, one that justified raising U.S. military expenditures back to the highest levels of the Cold War, even though there was no technologically significant enemy to justify this restoration of the power and the glory of the military-industrial complex. -- In the process, we have come to sacrifice the basic rights of the individual enshrined in our Constitution in the name of finding what our last president, in his comic book lingo, termed the "evildoers," without ever conceding that they were once, as President Reagan defined them, our "freedom fighters." Bush's vice president, Dick Cheney, a former top exec at defense contractor Halliburton, must have chuckled at that one, knowing full well that a primitive enemy holed up in mountain caves could not justify blowing trillions on the most sophisticated oceangoing aircraft carriers, stealth fighters and other relics of an era when we had a militarily significant enemy. -- It seemed to make sense only when both Republican Bush and Democrat Obama, in Afghanistan and Iraq, invoked the imagery of democratic nation building but instead exploited sectarian and tribal differences. Those efforts succeeded only in upending what remained of the stabilizing social order in both countries and have unleashed a never-ending cycle of violence providing invaluable propaganda for the al-Qaeda elements we claimed to be eradicating. -- "The money they should have paid to the police," Karzai said, "they paid to private security firms and creating militias who caused lawlessness, corruption and highway robbery. What they did was create pockets of wealth and a vast countryside of deprivation and anger." -- Hey no problem, war is just another violent game we love to play. America, this Bud's for you. - More, Huffingtonpost, at:

Monday, February 03, 2014

Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban --- KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States. -- The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Mr. Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his American backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Mr. Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called American war crimes. -- The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them. But they have helped undermine the remaining confidence between the United States and Mr. Karzai, making the already messy endgame of the Afghan conflict even more volatile. Support for the war effort in Congress has deteriorated sharply, and American officials say they are uncertain whether they can maintain even minimal security cooperation with Mr. Karzai’s government or its successor after coming elections. -- Frustrated by Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign the security agreement, which would clear the way for American troops to stay on for training and counterterrorism work after the end of the year, President Obama has summoned his top commanders to the White House on Tuesday to consider the future of the American mission in Afghanistan. -- Western and Afghan officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the peace contacts, said that the outreach was apparently initiated by the Taliban in November, a time of deepening mistrust between Mr. Karzai and his allies. Mr. Karzai seemed to jump at what he believed was a chance to achieve what the Americans were unwilling or unable to do, and reach a deal to end the conflict — a belief that few in his camp shared. --- Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for Mr. Karzai, acknowledged the secret contacts with the Taliban and said they were continuing. -- “The last two months have been very positive,” Mr. Faizi said. He characterized the contacts as among the most serious the presidential palace has had since the war began. “These parties were encouraged by the president’s stance on the bilateral security agreement and his speeches afterwards,” he said. --- But other Afghan and Western officials said that the contacts had fizzled, and that whatever the Taliban may have intended at the outset, they no longer had any intention of negotiating with the Afghan government. They said that top Afghan officials had met with influential Taliban leaders in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in recent weeks, and were told that any prospects of a peace deal were now gone. --- Mr. Karzai has insisted that he will not sign the agreement unless the Americans help bring the Taliban to the table for peace talks. Some diplomats worry that making such a demand allows the Taliban to dictate the terms of America’s long-term presence in Afghanistan. Others question Mr. Karzai’s logic: Why would the insurgency agree to talks if doing so would ensure the presence of the foreign troops it is determined to expel? --- The White House expressed impatience on Monday with Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign the agreement. “The longer there is a delay, the harder it is for NATO and U.S. military forces to plan for a post-2014 presence,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. “This is a matter of weeks, not months.” -- The military leaders expected to attend the planning conference at the White House on Tuesday include Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of American forces in Afghanistan; Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the former Iraq commander now serving as head of the United States Central Command; and Adm. William H. McRaven, head of the United States Special Operations Command. -- In recent statements, Mr. Karzai’s office in Kabul has appeared to open the door to a resolution of the impasse over the security agreement. The presidential spokesman, Mr. Faizi, has said that if one party is obstructing the American efforts to get talks going, the United States need only say so publicly. -- “Once there is clarity, we can take the next step to signing” the agreement, he said. - More, NYTimes, at:

تميم نورستاني د ولايت نه د ليري کيدو راپورونه رد کړل --- وروسته له دي چې د ځينو رسنيو له لوري خبر خپور سو چې ګني د نورستان والي تميم نورستانى له دندي ګوښه سوى ور سره سم د نورستان والي دا خبر رد کړى دى. -- هغه وويل چې داسې کومه خبره نسته ولي ځيني سياسي مخالفين دي چې غواړي په خپلو تبليغاتو سره خپلي ناوړي ګټي پورته کوي. -- ده وويل چې تر دي بريده پوري داسې هيڅ ورته نه دي رسيدلي چې له مخي يې دى د کليو او پراختيا ريس او نور له دندي ګوښه سوي دي. -- په خپاره سوي راپور کې ويل سوي دي چې ګني د نورستان والي، د کليو او پراختيا ريس او ځيني نور مهم کسان له دندو ګوښه سوي دي. -- دغه راپور له دي وروسته خپور سوى چې د نورستان ولايت دوګړيو لپاره يو زيات شمېر غنم ورکول سوي ول چې هغه بيا د د نورستان د والي له لوري پلورل سوي دي. -- تر اوسه دا په ډاګه نه ده چې څومره غنم د نورستان والي خرڅ کړي دي ولي د ارګ نه يوي سرچيني ويلي دي چې د نورستان د والي او د دي ولايت د نورو چارواکو په تړاو نن بيړنۍ غونډه جوړه سوي ول او د هغوى د ليري کيدو پريکړه سوي. - خبریال ډاټ کام

John Brennan Dodges a Question About CIA Spying on Americans --- Senator Mark Udall, a Colorado Democrat, has often used his perch on the Senate Intelligence Committee to ask national-security officials if they're misbehaving. He typically focuses on abuses that are actually happening, so his latest exchange with CIA Director John Brennan demands wider attention. Udall asked if the CIA is engaged in domestic spying or searches on American citizens. -- An idle question? One wouldn't think so. -- And the CIA director appeared to evade the question. For that reason, I suspect, but certainly cannot prove, that the intelligence agency is, in fact, engaged in this behavior. But don't take my word for it. Look at the transcript and judge for yourself: --- UDALL: This committee was created to address a severe breach of trust that developed when it was revealed that the CIA was conducting unlawful domestic searches. The Church Committee went to work, found that to be true. -- I want to be able to reassure the American people ... that the CIA and the director understand the limits of their mission and authorities. We're all aware of executive order 12333. That order prohibits the CIA from engaging in domestic spying and searches of US citizens within our borders. Can you assure the committee that the CIA does not conduct such domestic spying and searches? -- BRENNAN: I can assure the committee that the CIA follows the letter and the spirit of the law in terms of what the CIA's authorities are, in terms of its responsibilities to collect intelligence that will keep this country safe. Yes, Senator, I do. --- Hmm.- Reframing the question. Answering indirectly. Concluding with syntax that doesn't fit. It all seems suspicious. When Udall asked, "Can you assure the committee that the CIA does not conduct such domestic spying and searches?" Brennan could've replied, "Yes." But that isn't what he said at all. Why, do you think? There could be an explanation I'm missing, but Udall doesn't typically mislead with questions. -- This is a subject to watch. - More, The Atlantic

Stocks Fall, Bonds Rally After Weak U.S. Data --- Stocks unravel after factory report; Dow sinks 300-plus points -- U.S. stocks were hammered on Monday, with benchmark indexes falling through key support levels after a gauge of factory activity disappointed, heightening concern about the economy before Friday's monthly jobs report. -- Stocks had wavered ahead of the report that had U.S. manufacturing expanding at a substantially slower pace in January, driving overall factory activity to an eight-month low. -- "A report like this scares people ahead of the payroll number on Friday," said Andres Garcia-Amaya, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Funds, who added the report's soft new orders component was of particular concern. -- Dropping below its 200-day moving average for the first time since Dec. 28, 2012, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 326.05 points, or 2.1 percent, to 15,372.80, with all but one of its 30 components in the red. - More, Kate Gibson, CNBC, at:

Return of a King by William Dalrymple – review --- William Dalrymple's colourful history of the first British campaign in Afghanistan draws effective parallels with recent events -- Kenneth Williams, with his nasal, camp-cockney inflections, made a very good Khasi of Kalabar in Carry On Up the Khyber. The film, shot in 1968 in north Wales, satirised British imperial ambitions in Afghanistan and the Kingdom of Kabul (now Pakistan). Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond and his posh cor blimey cohorts find themselves out of their depth amid tribal bloodletting and jihadi mayhem. Qur'anic ideals of mercy are not shown the 3rd Foot and Mouth Regiment as they move up the Khyber. -- William Dalrymple's history of Britain's ill-fated 1839-42 occupation of Afghanistan has elements of Carry On. British army deserters, spies and drunken archaeologists rub shoulders with "hookah-smoking, pyjama-wearing" East India traders and their "dashing Rajput" warlord associates. For all the Boy's Own tone, however, Return of the King is a serious work of history. -- According to Dalrymple, the Afghans regarded their deliverance from the British in 1842 as "their Trafalgar, Waterloo and Battle of Britain rolled into one". The invasion, intended to thwart perceived Russian tsarist designs on the region, was achieved without difficulty; the problem, as with subsequent invasions of Afghanistan, was getting out. The occupying British troops encountered hostility as they went about publicly drinking and whoring. The king of the book's title – Shah Shuja – was a British appointment and gratifyingly pliable. However, his ties with the infidel British make him unpopular; violence erupts in Kabul as anti-Shuja protesters take up arms. -- Throughout, Dalrymple draws "clear and relevant parallels" (as he calls them) with Afghanistan today. In American eyes, all of Afghanistan was a target after the twin towers assault: there could be no innocent people in a "guilty" nation. The US forces had intended to liberate Kabul from the Taliban, but Pentagon intransigence was no defence against Muslim fanaticism. In neighbouring Pakistan, the Taliban created a climate of fear (an important weapon in their fanatic armoury) and tempted young men into a useless martyr's death. -- In swift-paced prose, Dalrymple chronicles Britain's first Afghan war (as it came to be known) through British, Afghan and Russian eyes. Tsar Nicolas I, it turns out, had no designs at all on Afghanistan. The British takeover, based on "doctored intelligence about a virtually non-existent threat", was begun for no wise purpose, but left a trail of carnage and muddled strategy in its wake. "Fakir, off!" as a character says in the Carry On movie. - More, Ian Thomson - The Observer, at:

دومین روز مبارزات انتخاباتی افغانستان و گردهمایی دو نامزد دیگر --- در دومین روز مبارزات انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان در کابل پایتخت، زلمی رسول و قطب‌الدین هلال کلیک نامزدان انتخابات ریاست جمهوری به رقابت‌های انتخاباتی خود آغاز کرده‌اند. -- مبارزات انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان از دیروز با نصب بیلبوردها، برگزاری گردهمایی های انتخاباتی و تبلیغات رسانه‌ای از سوی تعدادی از نامزدان انتخابات ریاست جمهوری در کابل و برخی ولایات رسما شروع شد. -- نامزدان ریاست جمهوری در این مرحله، ۶۰ روز (۱۳ دلو/بهمن تا ۱۳ حمل/فروردین) ۲۴ ساعت قبل از روز رای‌دهی مهلت دارند. -- آقای رسول مثل سایر نامزدان از برنامه‌های خود برای افغانستان در صورت پیروزی در انتخابات ریاست جمهوری گفت. او گفت که تقویت نقش جوانان در دولت، توجه به دموکراسی، حمایت از زنان، ایجاد دولت ملی و مبارزه با فساد اداری از اولویت هایش است. -- منتقدان او گفته‌اند که زلمی رسول فعالیت‌های چشمگیری در سال های گذشته در چارچوب دولت افغانستان نداشته است. -- آقای رسول در این مورد گفت: به رقبای خود که می‌گویند زلمی رسول آدم فعالی نیست، بگویم که در ۴۵ سال تجربه کاری خود در بیرون و داخل دریافته‌ام که رهبر خوب کسی نیست که همه کارها را خودش انجام می‌دهد بلکه رهبر خوب کسی است که تیم کاری خوب بسازد و برای این تیم فرصت ایجاد کند که کار خود را انجام بدهند." --- در گوشه دیگر شهر قطب‌الدین هلال نامزد دیگر انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان در جمع هواداران خود حضور یافت و سخنرانی کرد. -- این نامزد انتخابات ریاست جمهوری افغانستان گفت که عضویت حزب اسلامی گلبدین حکمتیار را دارد و به رای این حزب حساب می‌کند. -- حزب اسلامی‌ایکه آقای هلال عضویت آن را دارد، مخالف حضور نیروهای خارجی در افغانستان است و مسئولیت تعدادی حملات انتحاری را در کابل و شهرهای دیگر افغانستان به عهده گرفته است. -- آقای هلال اما گفت که در این انتخابات به عنوان یک نامزد مستقل پیش آمده و آزاد است. -- او گفت که توجه به نقش زنان در چارچوب احکام اسلامی از برنامه‌های دیگر او خواهد بود. آقای هلال افزود: "به زنان در چوکات دین اسلام حقوقی در نظر گرفته شده است که ما متاسفانه نداده ایم. زنان حقوق زیادی دارند که باید درس بخوانند و در عرصه های مختلف سهم بگیرند و در کنار مردان حضور داشته باشند." -- روز گذشته عبدالله عبدالله، اشرف غنی احمدزی، هدایت امین ارسلا، گلا آغا شیرزوی، قیوم کرزی، نادر نعیم و محمد داوود سلطانزوی با راه اندازی همایش های وسیعی در کابل رسما به رقابت های انتخاباتی خود شروع کردند. - BBC

Hillary Clinton Opposes New Iran Sanctions --- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supports President Barack Obama's opposition to imposing new sanctions on Iran as negotiations continue on the country's nuclear program. -- Clinton detailed her position in a letter to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), first reported on by Politico. Clinton sent the letter in response to a request by Levin for her stance on the issue. -- "The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that imposing new unilateral sanctions now ‘would undermine the prospects for a successful comprehensive nuclear agreement with Iran.’ I share that view. It could rob us of the diplomatic high ground we worked so hard to reach, break the united international front we constructed, and in the long run, weaken pressure on Iran by opening the door for other countries to chart a different course," Clinton wrote in the January 26 letter. -- She continued, "So long as Iran remains a sponsor of terrorism and a threat to global security, we will have to remain vigilant in defense of our allies and partners, including Israel. Yet I have no doubt that this is the time to give our diplomacy the space to work." -- Clinton also warned that the passage of additional sanctions by Congress could project an image of internal discord. -- "We should give anyone watching from Tehran no reason to doubt America's unity and resolve," she wrote. - More, HuffPost, at:

Corruption Costs European Union 120 Billion Euros a Year, Study Finds --- PARIS — Despite its relatively clean image, the European Union is losing at least 120 billion euros a year to corruption, and more than three-quarters of citizens believe that the problem is widespread in their countries, the bloc’s home affairs commissioner said Monday. -- The awarding of government business and political party financing are two areas dogged by shady dealings, Cecilia Malmstrom, the European commissioner for home affairs, told a news conference in Brussels. But she said that less obvious sectors also had problems, including health care, where some patients were forced to pay under the table to obtain necessary treatments. -- “Corruption undermines citizens’ confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law, it hurts the European economy and deprives states of much-needed tax revenue,” Ms. Malmstrom said in introducing the report. -- She said there were “some indications that the crisis has boosted” corrupt practices at the local level, but that the commission did not have sufficient historical data to be certain. -- The commission study found that 56 percent of Europeans believe that corruption has increased in their countries in the last three years, an increase from 47 percent the last time such a study was conducted. And more than four out of five Europeans believe “too-close links between business and politics” are a major source of problems. -- The report calls on member states to increase accountability and transparency, particularly in public procurement, which accounts for about 20 percent of the European Union economy. The ownership of bidders for public contracts is rarely checked, the report said, and at least one country allows public contracts to be awarded to companies with anonymous shareholders. - More, DAVID JOLLY, NYTimes, at:

NATO chief doesn't see Karzai signing security pact --- (Reuters) - President Hamid Karzai is unlikely to sign a pact for U.S. and NATO forces to stay in Afghanistan after 2014 and will probably leave the choice for his successor, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Saturday. -- The delay has frustrated the United States and its allies, who want to plan the post-2014 training and advisory mission. -- Both the United States and NATO have said they may be forced to pull their forces out of Afghanistan entirely at the end of this year unless the agreement is signed soon. -- Rasmussen acknowledged for the first time on Saturday that he did not expect Karzai to sign the U.S. pact and a similar pact that must be negotiated with other NATO forces. -- Instead, he believed Karzai would leave the issue for the president elected in April 5 election. -- "I think, realistically speaking, a new president will be the one to sign," Rasmussen told reporters during the annual Munich Security Conference. -- He said however he was confident that Afghanistan would sign the agreement "at the end of the day" and NATO would still have time to plan its post-2014 mission, even if it was not signed until Karzai's successor was in office.-- "Most probably, it will be for a new president to sign a security agreement and in that case we are prepared to stay after 2014," Rasmussen said. -- "If we don't get a signature even from a new president, then we will also be prepared to withdraw everything by the end of 2014, because in that case we don't have a legal basis for a continued presence," he said. --- Rasmussen has said a complete foreign military withdrawal from Afghanistan could also jeopardize foreign military aid needed to finance the 350,000-strong Afghan security forces as well as development aid. - More, Adrian Croft

'People are eating cats': Starvation, deaths plague Syria camp --- In a rare moment of cooperation between the Syrian government and rebel forces, aid agencies say hundreds of people were allowed to evacuate over the weekend from a suburb of Damascus where the nearly three-year-old civil war has yielded yet another horror: Hunger so severe that a significant number of people are said to be now starving to death. -- The evacuation from Yarmouk Camp, a rebel-held suburb just south of Damascus, comes after 89 people, most of them children and elderly people, have died of malnutrition-related diseases since January 1, according to Jamal Hammad, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Red Crescent. He said his count only includes cases with confirmed death certificates. -- Children under the age of one and elderly people over 65 account for 60 percent of the deaths, he said. -- Yarmouk Camp is a neighborhood of mostly Palestinians who fled to Syria in the 1950s and are now caught in the crossfire of the civil war. The United Nations estimates that some 20,000 people remain there, virtually cut off from the rest of the world. - More, Ann Curry, NBC News, at:

هشدار به رئیس جمهور کرزی در مورد امضای قانون معادن --- شبکه نظارت بر منابع طبیعی افغانستان که متشکل از شماری از نهاد های مدنی است از رئیس جمهور کرزی خواسته تا قانون معادن را تا زمانی که اعضای شورای ملی دوباره به کارشان آغاز نکرده اند، امضا نکند. -- در قانون اساسی افغانستان آمده است، رئیس جمهور حق دارد تا در زمان ضرورت، قوانین را بدون تصویب شورای ملی، امضا و توشیح کند. در این قانون آمده است که در شرایط ضرور، عملی شدن قوانین نیز با فرمان تقنینی رئیس جمهور جنبه اجرایی پیدا می کند. در حال حاضر اعضای مجلس نمایندگان کشور به رخصتی زمستانی به سر می برند. -- در اعلامیه آمده است که پلانی برای مجازات مقام‌ های دولتی که از شرکت‌ های خاص برای برنده شدن آنها حمایت می ‌کنند، در این قانون در نظر گرفته‌ نشده است. هم چنین اعضای این شبکه تاکید کرده اند برای انجام حسابدهی خوب نیاز است تا روند نظارتی که شامل نمایندگان شورای ملی افغانستان نیز باشد، ایجاد شود. ابراهیم جعفری، از اعضای این شبکه می گوید که قانون معادن افغانستان مدت زیادی در شورای ملی مانده است. به گفته او اطلاعات به دست آمده نشان می دهد که رئیس جمهور کرزی در نظر دارد تا این قانون را زمانی که اعضای شورای ملی در رخصتی زمستانی هستند، امضا کند. -- استخراج و ایجاد کارخانه‌ تولیدی، به عنوان بدیل‌ های خوبی برای کمک ‌های جامعه جهانی در افغانستان دانسته شده است. با آغاز خروج نیرو های خارجی از کشور و کاهش کمک‌ های خارجی، موضوع استخراج معادن بیشتر از گذشته، مطرح می شود. گفته می شود، دولت افغانستان نیز تلاش دارد تا با استفاده از درآمد معادن، کسر بودجه خود را جبران کند. با این حال، آقای جعفری افزود که قانون معادن نواقص زیادی دارد و امضای آن، سبب ایجاد مشکلات بزرگی در کشور خواهد شد. او هشدار داد، در صورتی که به این موضوع توجه نشود، امضا و صدور فرمان تقنینی آن، سبب بروز جنگ‌ های داخلی خواهد شد. آقای جعفری مدعی است که این قانون در حدی نیست که منافع یک ملت را تامین‌ کند و در کل، قانون از نظر فنی، ساختاری و وحدت رویه دچار مشکل است. -- زلگی سجاد عضو دیگر این شبکه نیز گفت که نگرانی این شبکه ناشی از این است که قانون معدن افغانستان دارای نواقص بوده و آماده تصویب نیست. او افزود که این قانون از نظر حقوقی مشکلات زیادی دارد که تصویب آن می‌تواند برای کشور ضررهای اقتصادی زیادی را وارد کند. پیش از این نیز مسوولان اتاق تجارت و صنایع کشور از رئیس جمهور کرزی خواسته بودند تا قانون معادن را با صدور فرمان تقنینی، عملی کند. به گفته آنان، در صورتی که این قانون با تاخیر تصویب شود، شرکت‌ هایی که داوطلب استخراج معادن شده اند، با مشکلاتی رو به رو خواهند شد. - خبرگزاری بخدی

Hamid Karzai: 'I saw no good' with America's presence in Afghanistan --- Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, admits that he has not spoken to Barack Obama in seven months as he reveals the complete breakdown of trust between his country and the United States -- The president of Afghanistan has not spoken to his American counterpart since June, he said, in an interview which showed the increasing gulf between Kabul and Washington. --- Hamid Karzai, 56, has grown increasingly hostile towards Barack Obama as Afghanistan prepares to elect a new president in April. Mr Karzai will not stand again, but he is determined to emphasise his disagreements with the United States before he steps down. -- "This whole 12 years was one of constant pleading with America to treat the lives of our civilians as lives of people," he said, adding that he had not spoken to Mr Obama since June. -- "We met in South Africa [at Mandela's funeral] but didn't speak. Letters have been exchanged." -- Mr Karzai said that he "saw no good" in the American presence in his country. -- "They did not work for me, they worked against me," he said, and referred to the Taliban in his interview with The Sunday Times as "brothers" and the Americans as "rivals". --- His rhetoric has been ill received in Washington, where American politicians are evermore infuriated by Mr Karzai's stance. -- America spent $648bn (£394bn) during the war, which has cost 2,211 lives. Last week Congress cut development aid to Afghanistan in half, reducing it to $1.1bn. --- But Mr Karzai is unrepentant. -- "The money they should have paid to the police they paid to private security firms and creating militias who caused lawlessness, corruption and highway robbery," he said. -- "They then began systematically waging psychological warfare on our people, encouraging our money to go out of our country. -- "What they did was create pockets of wealth and a vast countryside of deprivation and anger." --- He is slightly more generous in his assessment of Britain, "which has conducted with us in a very civilised way and tried to bring better relations between us and Pakistan." -- But he added: "In general the US-led Nato mission in terms of bringing security has not been successful, particularly in Helmand." --- A key bone of contention between the US and Afghanistan is the bilateral security agreement, which proposes 8-12,000 troops remaining in Afghanistan beyond the withdrawal of combat soldiers at the end of 2014. America is keen for the troops to remain to prevent "losing" Afghanistan, and the country's tribal elders supported the plan at an assembly in November. -- Yet Mr Karzai is dragging his heels, saying that history has taught Afghanistan not to "gamble" on pacts. -- "Under pressure our kings signed things and all that turned out to be disastrous for Afghanistan," he said. "Under pressure today if I do the same I don't know the consequences." - More, Harriet Alexander, Telegraph, at:

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Afghanistan election guide: everything you need to know --- Eleven candidates, 12 million voters, more than 6,000 polling centres – and a lot of headaches for the victor. But who are the men who would be Afghan president and what do they offer? -- The election is the third presidential poll since the fall of the Taliban. It should pave the way for the country's first-ever peaceful democratic transfer of power, because the constitution bars the incumbent, Hamid Karzai, from standing again. The fact that Afghanistan has never managed such a handover before is an indication of how fraught the process could be, even without the complication of a raging insurgency. --- There are 11 candidates, ranging from the man who first invited Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan to a chatshow host and retired pilot. ---- The candidates: Nader Naim - Born 1965. A grandson of the former King Zahir Shah, whose rule is still remembered by some Afghans as a golden age, Naim is a relatively young candidate who complains about being ignored by the media. Born in Afghanistan, but raised in the UK after his grandfather was toppled by his uncle in a bloodless coup, he returned only after the fall of the Taliban. Working as a secretary to his grandfather, now an ordinary citizen, he built up a wide network of contacts that will bolster his campaign, although it is unclear if he will be able to bankroll a serious bid in what is likely to be an expensive election. --- The election is in two rounds, similar to the French system. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the first round – which with 11 candidates is unlikely, unless someone reverts to massive fraud – a second round must be held pitting the top two candidates against each other. -- That means that although the poll is set for 5 April, the process could drag on for months. Getting the ballot papers back from far-flung stations and handling complaints is expected to take weeks, with a final result not due until mid-May. -- A second round would take at least six weeks more, probably longer. So even though the president, Hamid Karzai, is officially due to step down in May, many observers think the country will not get a new leader until July or August at the earliest. - More, Emma Graham-Harrison - Guardian, at:

آنچه گذشت لحظه‌ به‌ لحظه با روز آغاز رقابت‌های انتخاباتی افغانستان . --- مرحله رسمی مبارزات انتخاباتی برای انتخابات ریاست جمهوری از اوایل ساعات امروز آغاز شد و تا ۴۸ ساعت پیش از روز برگزاری انتخابات ادامه خواهد داشت. -- انتخابات ریاست جمهوری پیشرو از نظر بسیاری تحلیل‌گران به دلایل متعدد مهمترین انتخابات ریاست جمهوری در دو دهه گذشته افغانستان به شمار می‌رود. -- این انتخابات قرار است جانشین حامد کرزی را که برای سیزده زمام امور افغانستان را به دست داشته تعیین کند و در سال برگزار می‌شود که نیروهای خارجی از افغانستان خارج می‌شوند. - BBC, at:

Kerry, Hagel urge ‘transatlantic renaissance’ to confront political and security challenges --- MUNICH — In an unusual joint appearance overseas, Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told European allies Saturday that Washington would depend more heavily on them to tackle a litany of political and security crises, even as the two pushed back against concerns that the Obama administration was abdicating leadership on the same issues. -- The two senior members of Obama’s Cabinet told a gathering of world leaders, business executives, journalists and others at the annual Munich Security Conference that a “transatlantic renaissance” was necessary to confront an array of challenges, from climate change to violent extremism in the Middle East and collapsing states in Africa. -- In contrast with past lectures from U.S. officials, Kerry and Hagel did not hector European countries to simply boost military spending or send more troops to hot spots around the world. Instead, the U.S. leaders exhibited an uncommon measure of humility, gently urging rather than exhorting their European allies to work together to project their influence over Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. -- “In order to meet today’s challenges both near and far, America needs a strong Europe, and Europe needs a committed and engaged America,” Kerry said. “That means turning inward is not an option for any of us. When we lead together, others will join us. But when we don’t, the simple fact is few are prepared or willing to step up.” -- The Americans encountered some concern, however, that the Obama administration was retreating from Washington’s traditional leadership role in security matters, citing its unwillingness to become directly involved in the civil war in Syria or the popular uprising in Ukraine. - More, Craig Whitlock, Washingtonpost

Karzai says Pakistan rocket attacks in Afghanistan will negatively impact bilateral relations --- Afghan President Hamid Karzai has reportedly warned Pakistan against rocket attacks into Afghanistan territory, saying that it will have a negative impact on bilateral relations between the two countries. -- Karzai made the comments after the governor of Kunar province Shuja Malek Jalala alleged that a rocket from Pakistan had hit a house in Marwari district on Jan 31, killing three and wounding five others, including children. -- The governor alleged that 17 rocket attacks had been carried out last month in which no one was harmed, but did not mention as to who fired the rockets, the Express Tribune reported. -- Meanwhile, the Afghan President strongly condemned Pakistan for launching rockets on Marwari district of Kunar province and said that the launching of rockets from the other side of the Durand Line is against the principles of good neighborliness. - ANI, Business Standard

Chuck Hagel stresses US foreign policy shift from military might to diplomacy --- The US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, on Saturday underscored the Obama administration's intention to shift the focus of its foreign policy away from military might toward diplomacy. -- Speaking at the Munich security conference, Hagel said he and the secretary of state, John Kerry, "have both worked to restore balance to the relationship between American defence and diplomacy". -- Hagel, in prepared remarks, stressed that the US was "moving off a 13-year war footing" as the war in Afghanistan winds down and as Washington seeks to avoid getting involved in additional military conflicts overseas. -- Hagel's remarks echo those of President Barack Obama, who in his annual state of the union address this week said the US could not rely on its military power alone, promising to send US troops to fight overseas only when "truly necessary". -- In recent years, the US has shown its eagerness to wind down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the military dominated traditionally civilian-led activities such as development aid. US officials have also sought to avoid becoming involved in new on-the-ground military action in places like Syria and Libya. -- "Foreign policy had become too militarised over the last decade or so," a senior US defence official said on condition of anonymity. "It's time for us to be in a supporting role when it comes to the execution of this country's foreign policy." -- "The nation's foreign policy should and rightly be led by the State Department, with the Defence Department in full support," the official said. -- The State Department is taking the lead on several key foreign priorities for the White House, including the effort to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians and to halt Iran's nuclear programme. Still, the comments are striking from the head of the powerful, massive US Defence Department. The US military budget, even after cuts imposed amid repeated budget crises, dwarfs spending for diplomacy and foreign aid. -- But the US military has been strained by the long wars that followed the 9/11 attacks. Washington pulled all troops out of Iraq at the end of 2011. It is also seeking to finalise a security pact with the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, that would authorise the US to keep a small force in Afghanistan beyond this year. - Reuters in Munich - Guardian