Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Live Video: New Year’s Eve in Times Square

At midnight, revelers in Times Square will blow on ear-shattering noisemakers, and kiss and hug one another amid blinking lights and a blanket of fluttering confetti.

The tradition began the same year that the first subway line opened, when The New York Times’s publisher celebrated the new headquarters in the recently renamed Times Square with a noted concert band and a bombastic fireworks display that lit the sky for miles.

“No more beautiful picture was ever limned in fire on the curtain of midnight,” the newspaper humbly reported on Jan. 1, 1905.  Read More at  NYTimes

Ringing In the New Year Around the World

Jeb Bush resigns from all boards with eye on 2016

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, moving closer to a possible presidential run, has resigned all of his corporate and nonprofit board memberships, including with his own education foundation, his office said late Wednesday night.

He also resigned as a paid adviser to a for-profit education company that sells online courses to public university students in exchange for a share of their tuition payments.

Bush’s New Year’s Eve disclosure, coming in an e-mail from an aide to The Washingotn Post, culminated a string of moves he has made in recent days to shed business interests that have enriched him since leaving office in 2007. The aide said the resignations had been made “effective today.”  Read More at Washington Post

Kabul was eerie and dangerous under the Taliban. It feels that way again. - Pamela Constable

Dollar Ends Best Year in More Than a Decade - Wall Street Journal

The dollar is on track to close 2014 with its strongest year against rival currencies in more than a decade after investors piled into U.S. assets in anticipation of higher interest rates.

The WSJ Dollar index, which compares the greenback against a basket of widely traded currencies, rose more than 12% in 2014, reaching 83.04 Wednesday, the highest since September 2003.

The dollar rose 0.3% versus the Japanese currency in late-afternoon trade, to 119.79 yen, and gained almost 14% in 2014. The euro fell 0.5% to $1.2099, falling below $1.21 for the first time since July 25, 2012. For the year, the euro lost almost 12% versus the greenback.

Investors rushed into the dollar in the second half of 2014, confident that stronger U.S. economic data would persuade the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates from near zero for the first time since before the financial crisis. At the same time, anemic growth and inflation in the eurozone and Japan forced their respective central banks to ease monetary policy, taking measures that ultimately weakened their currencies.

“We’re closing on a really strong year for the dollar,” said Martin Schwerdtfeger, currencies strategist at TD Securities. “And there are expectations for the dollar to continue to strengthen into the new year.”  Read More at WSJ

Afghans’ War Remains Fierce After Coalition Ends Combat Mission

The U.S.-led coalition formally ended its combat mission in Afghanistan on Sunday, a step President Barack Obama hailed as the end of America’s war. But the conflict is far from over for Afghans.

In fact, the fighting is as intense as it has ever been since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. This year, Taliban fighters launched large-scale offensives in the countryside and stepped up high-profile attacks in cities. While the insurgents weren’t able to capture new territory, Afghan and foreign officials say, security has deteriorated and Afghan troops and civilians are dying in record numbers.

Dangam is one of the country’s latest flash points. The fighting there was sparked by a local anti-Taliban movement led by villagers such as Mr. Khan. When the Taliban moved to crush the uprising, Afghan troops intervened.

Two weeks later, the battle is still raging, and some 600 families, including Mr. Khan’s, have fled the area. And as the U.S. and its partners in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization reduce their military involvement in Afghanistan, many Afghans are asking if Afghan forces can achieve what foreign troops— with their state-of-the art equipment—could not.

“I hope I’m wrong, but I fear 2015 will be a lot bloodier,” one Afghan official said.

Foreign forces aren’t leaving Afghanistan altogether. Around 18,000 U.S. and NATO troops are staying in Afghanistan, but they will mostly focus on training and advising Afghan security forces, who took the lead in security last year and now number 350,000 troops.  Read More at WSJ
U.S.-Led Forces Formally Ending Afghanistan Combat Mission

Stock Markets Hit High in 2014 as Bull Run Endured

An accelerating United States economy trumped problems overseas to lift the stock market to new highs in 2014.

Despite losses for the day in light pre-holiday trading, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index closed on Wednesday with a gain of 11.39 percent for 2014 — 13.68 percent when reinvested dividends are included. It was the third consecutive year that the market benchmark has risen by more than 10 percent.

Other market measures also ended the year on a strong note. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 7.52 percent for 2014, while the Nasdaq composite index ended up 13.4 percent.

Can the party in American stocks keep going in 2015?

On the year’s last trading day, the S.&P. was down 21.45 points, or a bit over 1 percent, at 2,058.90. The Dow dropped 160 points, or 0.9 percent, at 17,823.07, and the Nasdaq fell 41.39, or 0.87 percent, to 4,736.05.

But the losses didn’t dim the 2014 rally, which was remarkable for other reasons.

After 14 years, the S.&P. 500 finally, in late 2014, rose to a new high on an inflation-adjusted basis, according to data compiled by Professor Robert J. Shiller of Yale.  Read More at NYTimes

What We Won -- America's Secret War in Afghanistan, 1979-89 - Brookings

In February 1989, the CIA's station chief in Islamabad famously cabled headquarters a simple message: "We Won." It was an understated coda to the most successful covert intelligence operation in American history.

In What We Won, CIA and National Security Council veteran Bruce Riedel tells the story of America's secret war in Afghanistan and the defeat of the Soviet 40th Red Army in the war that proved to be the final battle of the cold war. He seeks to answer one simple question—why did this intelligence operation succeed so brilliantly?

Riedel has the vantage point few others can offer: He was ensconced in the CIA's Operations Center when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan on Christmas Eve 1979. The invasion took the intelligence community by surprise. But the response, initiated by Jimmy Carter and accelerated by Ronald Reagan, was a masterful intelligence enterprise.

Many books have been written about intelligence failures—from Pearl Harbor to 9/11. Much less has been written about how and why intelligence operations succeed. The answer is complex. It involves both the weaknesses and mistakes of America's enemies, as well as good judgment and strengths of the United States.

Riedel introduces and explores the complex personalities pitted in the war—the Afghan communists, the Russians, the Afghan mujahedin, the Saudis, and the Pakistanis. And then there are the Americans—in this war, no Americans fought on the battlefield. The CIA did not send officers into Afghanistan to fight or even to train. 

In 1989, victory for the American side of the cold war seemed complete. Now we can see that a new era was also beginning in the Afghan war in the 1980s, the era of the global jihad. This book examines the lessons we can learn from this intelligence operation for the future and makes some observations on what came next in Afghanistan—and what is likely yet to come.  Read More at Brookings
The Warlord Who Defines Afghanistan: An Excerpt From What We Won

Revisit Afghanistan's End Game Plan

Prospects for Stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan

A Dubious History of Targeted Killings in Afghanistan - Der Spiegel

Combat operations in Afghanistan may be coming to an end, but a look at secret NATO documents reveals that the US and the UK were far less scrupulous in choosing targets for killing than previously believed. Drug dealers were also on the lists.  Read More at Spiegel  
Obama's Lists: A Dubious History of Targeted Killings in Afghanistan
NSA Documents: The Afghanistan Kill List

محصلین: مخالفان مسلح روحیه تعلیمی پوهنتون ننگرهار را تغییر داده اند

بحران سیاسی درازمدت در افغانستان بالآخره در پوهنتون ها ریشه دوانیده و گفته می شود که فعالیت گروه های مخالف مسلح دولت در پوهنتون ننگرهار افزایش یافته است. شماری از محصلین این پوهنتون شکایت دارند که در این پوهنتون حلقات سیاسی که بیشتر با طالبان مسلح ارتباط دارند محیط تحصیلی را برای آنان دشوار ساخته است.

یک تن از محصلین پوهنتون ننگرهار که نخواست نامش گرفته شود روز سه شنبه به رادیوآزادی گفت، اکثر محصلین این پوهنتون از وضعیت حاکم سیاسی فعلی رنج میبرند و این حالت بر روحیه تعلیمی شان تاثیرات منفی گذاشته است: "پوهنتون ننگرهار از سال های قبل از مشکلات زیادی رنج می برد، بی توجه یی دولت مرکزی، تنظیم های چپ و راست که همیشه در بین این ها تشنج ها می باشد حتی از الفاظ، وسایل و اسباب استفاده می شود."

در این حال شماری دیگری از این محصلین مشروط بر اینکه از آنان نام گرفته نشود به رادیوآزادی گفتند که شماری زیادی از گروه ها به پوهنتون ها راه پیدا کرده اند و برای بدست آوردن اهداف سیاسی خود فعالیت های پنهانی را آغاز کرده اند: "در پوهنتون دو گروه فعالیت دارد و مظاهره ها که ما می بینیم بیرق های سفید، سیاه و سبز در آن بلند می شود و در داخل پوهنتون در سر دیوار ها نوشته می کنند حزب اسلامی زنده باد و فدایان زنده باد که مسایل هم دیده می شود."

در پوهنتون ننگرهار حدود پانزده هزار محصل در سیزده رشته تحصیل می کنند. اما انتقاد های وجود دارد که برخی از این محصلین به اشاره طالبان مسلح و شماری از حلقات دیگر بعضاً با راه اندازی مظاهره ها شاهرای کابل ننگرهار را مسدود میکنند. این انتقاد ها و نگرانی ها زمانی بیشتر گردید که حدود یک ماه قبل محصلین همین پوهنتون با بیرق های سفید، سیاه و سبز تظاهرات کردند و محصلین دیگر را نیز مجبور ساختند تا آنان را همراهی کنند.

در این حال طاهر عنایت سرپرست پوهنتون ننگرهارمیگوید گرچه تلاش شده است تا جلو فعالیت هم چو گروه ها گرفته شود اما هنوز هم به گفته او برخی از گروه ها وجود دارد که در پوهنتون ننگرهار برضد منافع کشور فعالیت می کنند: "قبل مشکلات بین اداره و محصلین وجود داشت که اداره چندان توجه به محصلین نمی کرد و فعلاً من اطمینان میدهم که فضای پوهنتون به مراتب بهتر شده و یک تعداد محصلین که در سابق بخاطر فعالیت در یکی از تنظیم ها و یا سازمانها دست به تظاهرات میزدند و راه ها را مسدود می کردند که سبب آزار و اذیت مردم می شدند، فعلاً کار تربیوی برای شان جریان دارد و در آینده های بسیار نزدیک این فرهنگ کهنه به کلی از بین برود."  Read More at azadiradio

Afghans Fleeing War Now Face Brutal Winter

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Thousands of Afghans are pouring into makeshift camps in the capital where they face a harsh winter as the Taliban return to areas once cleared by foreign forces, who this week are marking the end of their combat mission.
On the grimy outskirts of Kabul, hundreds of families are huddled in flimsy tents or mud shelters at the Bagrami camp. By day the children forage for fuel and food. At night the families burn garbage to try to keep warm as the icy winds sweep down from the Hindu Kush mountains surrounding the city and temperatures plunge to below freezing.
"Violence has forced us out of our homes but here misery and poverty have made our life even more difficult," said Abdul Qayyum, 52, who fled here with his wife and eight children. "Such a life is not worth living."
The insurgents are now once again on the move, and have extended the summer fighting season as foreign forces have handed over front-line combat responsibility to Afghan security forces. This week the U.S. and NATO are formally ending their combat mission, 13 years after the invasion that toppled the Taliban in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The insurgents have taken advantage of the vacuum and seized territory across the country, redrawing battle lines through urban areas and putting civilians at greater risk. The Sangin fighting began in June after Afghan forces replaced withdrawing U.S. troops.
This has been the bloodiest year of the war for civilians, with the toll of dead and wounded expected to hit 10,000 for the first time since the U.N. began keeping records in 2008.
After a mild start, the worst of the winter is yet to come. Temperatures can fall to well below freezing, with searing winds off the mountains and snow that turns to filthy ice. Every year scores of people -- mainly children and the elderly -- die of cold and hunger, though no precise figures exist.
"I am so worried about my children," said Bebi, who like many Afghans goes by one name. "We have no food, no water and even no blankets to keep my children warm."
The cash-strapped U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs plans to distribute some relief — food, children's clothing, firewood and plastic sheeting for shelter. But the agency's deputy head in Afghanistan, Catherine Howard, told people in the camp during a recent visit that there was no money for blankets.   Read More at Huffingtonpost
Afghans Fleeing War Now Face Brutal Winter

The War in Afghanistan Formally Ended; The War in Afghanistan Informally Goes On

News Analysis: U.S.-led coalition forces leave Afghanistan with avowed mission still unfinished

KABUL, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- The U.S.-led coalition forces formally ended their combat mission in Afghanistan on Sunday but its primary mission of wiping out the Taliban and other militant groups in the country has been left unfinished.

However, some Afghan political and military analysts said that the foreign troops are leaving Afghanistan with its mission in the war on terror still incomplete.

"The target of the U.S.-led military alliance in Afghanistan was to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaidaterrorist networks. They invaded Taliban regime 13 years and overthrew the group's brutal reign but the Taliban are more powerful today than the past and presently fighting government forces in several fronts," Kabul University professor Sayed Abrahim Darwishian told Xinhua.

"The invasion of U.S.-led coalition forces against terrorists in 2001 in Afghanistan had raised the ray of hope among Afghans to embrace lasting peace in their country but unfortunately the country is still in the grip of instability and insurgency," retired Army General Atiqullah Omarkhil, a respected political analyst, told the local media recently.

Omarkhil said that while the U.S.-led NATO coalition forces started the operation in Afghanistan 13 years ago precisely to destroy terrorist networks and ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan, none of their noble objectives have been achieved. He said that the Taliban, al-Qaida and other insurgent groups are still active across the country.  Read More at xinhuanet

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

John Boehner blasts Obama’s Afghanistan strategy

Early warning signs in Afghanistan show that President Barack Obama’s withdrawal strategy there is already foundering, House Speaker John Boehner charged on Tuesday.

“Has President Obama not learned from his mistakes in Iraq?” the Ohio Republican asked in a statement.

The speaker’s office released a number of excerpts from news reports describing an increase in combat deaths in Afghanistan, areas of territory lost to the Taliban and the comparative weakness of the Afghan National Security Forces without American help. The U.S. troop pullout is premature, Boehner charged, and a “formal” end to the conflict does not mean it’s actually over.

Afghanistan could go the way of Iraq if the U.S. does not do enough to backstop Kabul against the Taliban and terrorists, he argued. Critics charge that Obama did not try hard enough to leave behind a garrison of about 10,000 troops in Iraq after the end of combat in 2011, leading to the collapse of Iraq’s military and the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  

“No one wants to see our military men and women in harm’s way, but as we’ve seen in Iraq with the rise of ISIL, arbitrary, political deadlines on war are rarely observed or honored by our terrorist enemies committed to enslaving religious minorities, raping women, beheading journalists and slaughtering Americans,” said the statement from Boehner’s office.  Read More at politico
John Boehner blasts Obama’s Afghanistan strategy

U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan: Will History Repeat?

President Barack Obama released a statement over the holiday weekend regarding the U.S.’s involvement in Afghanistan. In particular, he addressed military involvement, and the promised removal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Many headlines, like CNN’s, say something along the lines of “Obama marks end of combat in Afghanistan.” But while this is true technically, most are more interested in discussing what this end does and doesn’t mean. Some are concerned it means Afghanistan will be left vulnerable. Others point out the fact that American troops probably won’t be making a full exit as soon as expected.

This came as a surprise to nearly no one. This expectation is evidenced by the throng of analysts who have predicted he’d renege on his announced timeline. “The president’s decision this past spring to publicly lay out his timeline for ending American troop involvement on the ground is widely regarded as a mistake in Washington,” wrote Brookings Bruce Riedel, and the reasoning behind that criticism is fairly sound. Why make a series of promises the president has been forced to break, and likely will be forced to break in future?  Read More
Revisit Afghanistan's End Game Plan  -  Bruce Riedel

Will President Obama Repeat His Iraq Mistakes in Afghanistan?

Will President Obama Repeat His Iraq Mistakes in Afghanistan?  Read More

جمهور رئیس غني د فواید عامې وزارت له چارواکو سره وکتل

TV Report - President Ghani's working visit to Herat - Dec.27.2014

Arabs endorse Palestinian U.N. draft urging end of Israel occupation

(Reuters) - Arab U.N. delegations on Monday endorsed a Palestinian proposal to forge a peace deal with Israel within a year and end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories by late 2017, despite fierce Israeli and U.S. opposition.

The timing for a U.N. vote on a measure that faces almost certain defeat is unclear.

Several Western council diplomats told Reuters they had been surprised by the Palestinians' sudden push to submit a final draft resolution to the United Nations Security Council on Monday and put it to a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Jordanian U.N. Ambassador Dina Kawar, the sole Arab representative on the council, told reporters all 22 Arab delegations endorsed the Palestinian proposal, and the Jordanians and Palestinians would consult immediately on "the best time to cast the vote in the Security Council." Read More

Taliban declare 'defeat' of U.S., allies in Afghanistan

(Reuters) - Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan on Monday declared the "defeat" of the U.S. and its allies in the 13-year-old war, a day after the coalition officially marked the end of its combat mission.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is shifting to a support mission for Afghan army and police more than a decade after an international alliance ousted the Taliban government for sheltering the planners of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on American cities.

"ISAF rolled up its flag in an atmosphere of failure and disappointment without having achieved anything substantial or tangible," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an statement emailed on Monday.

About 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, will remain in the country under a new, two-year mission named "Resolute Support" that will continue the coalition's training of Afghan security forces to fight the insurgents, who have killed record numbers of Afghans this year.

While the U.S. and its allies say the Afghan army and police have been able to prevent the Taliban from taking significant territory, violence has shot up as the insurgents seek to gain ground.  Read More

Right-of-centre ideology has lost us the war in Afghanistan and much more besides - Will Hutton

It is part of Britain’s national self-image that we win wars. The army may be smaller than it was, but it remains the world’s best. Losing is impossible to conceive. Yet in Afghanistan, Britain has just suffered a humiliating defeat, the worst in more than half a century and, arguably, ranking with the worst in modern times. The truth is inescapable: we are no longer a great economic, technological or military power.  Read More at Guardian

Monday, December 29, 2014

Afghan Leader Tells U.N. Agency to Relinquish Control of Funds, Officials Say

KABUL, Afghanistan — In his drive to rid Afghanistan of mismanagement and waste, President Ashraf Ghani has chosen a large and rather unexpected target: the United Nations Development Program.

Expressing his frustration in recent meetings with aid donors and officials, Mr. Ghani has demanded that the agency turn over control of a nearly $500 million fund that bankrolls the salaries of Afghanistan’s police officers, according to Afghan and Western officials, and has set a six-month deadline for it to do so.

In private, the officials said, he has called the fund, the Law and Order Trust Fund of Afghanistan, a “cash cow” for the agency, which charges 4 percent to manage the money.

At that rate, the fund earns more than $20 million a year, money the Afghan government as well as donors are eager to see land in the pockets of police officers on the front line. The president is so frustrated with what he sees as the agency’s resistance to change that he recently threatened to throw the head of the development program out of the country, the officials said.

Boaz Paldi, a spokesman for the United Nations Development Program in New York, said the fate of the fund was still in talks with Afghan officials and a final agreement was close. He added, “U.N.D.P. has not received any formal request from the government of Afghanistan pertaining to staff in its Afghanistan country office.”

The fact that Mr. Ghani is seemingly upending a long-term relationship with the central aid organization in his country illustrates the extent to which relationships at the end of the war are being rewritten. In his quest to redirect the nation — or, his critics say, consolidate power — Mr. Ghani has made clear that even storied institutions like the United Nations are not beyond reproach.

Officials who know Mr. Ghani say his actions are rooted in a deep mistrust of the agency that dates back to his time as finance minister, and also reflect a personal distaste for some groups he sees as infringing on Afghan sovereignty.

The trust fund has fallen under intense international scrutiny and criticism in recent years. Internal and external investigations have raised questions about oversight of the fund, which has handled the delivery of more than $3 billion in security aid since 2002. Some governments have even suspended payments to the program out of frustration with its management.

The most recent disagreement started in October, when Mr. Ghani asked the agency to come up with a plan to shift ownership to the Afghan Interior Ministry. Staff members for the trust fund and an Afghan deputy interior minister were assigned to draft a plan. But last week, when Mr. Ghani came to review the proposal, he found that instead of outlining a plan to phase out United Nations authority, it suggested a three-year extension, according to two Western officials briefed on the meeting.  Read More at NYTimes

Where Afghan War Was Transferred Long Ago

U.S. Ends Its War in Afghanistan - msn

The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan ended its combat mission Sunday, marking the formal—if not real—end to the longest war in American history.

American warplanes began bombing the country on Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the 9/11 attacks. Their goal was to drive the ruling Taliban from power, after they had given sanctuary inside the country to Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, which had plotted the terror strikes.

That was accomplished on Nov. 13, 2001.

The U.S. and its allies have remained since then, trying to build up Afghan military and police forces sufficient to defend their country without outside help. Despite Sunday's bowing out, the U.S. will remain involved in Afghanistan's fight against the Taliban for years to come.

"In the wake of the Taliban’s defeat in 2001, Afghanistan possessed no standing, professional security forces," Army General John Campbell, chief of the International Security Assistance Force, said. "Over the course of a decade, our Afghan partners and we have built a highly capable Afghan army and police force of over 350,000 personnel."

Sunday marked the formal handoff to that largely U.S.-trained Afghan military. "The road before us remains challenging, but we will triumph," Campbell told a small gathering at ISAF headquarters.  Read More

AirAsia QZ8501: Indonesia plane 'at bottom of sea'

The missing AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 is likely to be at the bottom of the sea, the head of Indonesia's search-and-rescue agency has said.

Bambang Soelistyo said the hypothesis was based on the co-ordinates of the plane when contact with it was lost.

The search is continuing for the aircraft, a day after it disappeared with 162 people on board, but no trace has been found so far.  The Airbus A320-200 was on a flight to Singapore.

The pilots had requested a course change because of bad weather but did not send any distress call before the plane disappeared from radar screens.

"Based on the co-ordinates given to us and evaluation that the estimated crash position is in the sea, the hypothesis is the plane is at the bottom of the sea," Bambang Soelistyo, the head of Indonesia's search and rescue agency, told a news conference in Jakarta.  Read More BBC
AirAsia relatives 'cannot lose hope'

Unclear whether oil, objects found in sea linked to lost jet

مأموریت رزمی نیروهای ناتو در افغانستان پایان یافت

در یک مراسم رسمی که امروز در مقر فرماندهی نیروهای ناتو در کابل برگزار شد، مأموریت رزمی نیروهای ایساف به رهبری ناتو رسما پایان یافت و بعد از این نیروهای ناتو مستقر در افغانستان فقط در آموزش نیروهای افغان مشارکت خواهند کرد و نقش آنان حمایتی خواهد بود.

در مراسم امروز ژنرال جان کمپ‌بیل، فرمانده نیروهای ناتو در افغانستان از فداکاری‌های نیروهای افغان و نیروهای تحت فرمانش ستایش کرد.

او در ادامه تاکید کرد که نیروهای افغان چالش های زیادی را در آینده پیشرو خواهند داشت که پیروزی از نیروهای افغان است.

قرار بود این مراسم در اول ژانویه سال ۲۰۱۵ میلادی برگزار شود ولی سه روز زودتر از زمان تعیین شده دایر شد.
آقای کمپ بیل، در این مراسم شروع ماموریت جدید نیروهای امنیتی افغان را فصل جدیدی در تاریخ این کشورخواند و به ادامه همکاری با نیروهای افغان تاکید کرد.

او افزود که زمان آن است که دشمنان افغانستان به خواست رئیس جمهور غنی احترام گذاشته، سلاح‌شان را به زمین گذارند، به روند صلح بپیوندند و به بازسازی افغانستان کمک کنند.

فرمانده نیروهای ناتو در افغانستان گفت که در ۱۳ سال گذشته نیروهای ناتو در کنار نیروهای افغان جنگیدند و فداکاری کردند در ماموریت جدید نیز این نیروها همراه با نیروهای افغان خواهند بود.

او تاکیدکرد که راه بازگشت به روزهای تاریک و گذشته وجود ندارد و نیروهای ناتو و افغان میدان را برای مخالفان خالی نخواهند گذاشت.  More at BBC

چرا آمریکا دیگر طالبان را دشمن نمی‌داند

Sunday, December 28, 2014

NATO Secretary General's statement on a new chapter in Afghanistan

At the end of this year, we complete our combat mission in Afghanistan and open a new chapter in our relationship with Afghanistan.

The security of Afghanistan will be fully in the hands of the country’s 350,000 Afghan soldiers and police. But NATO Allies, together with many partner nations, will remain to train, advise and assist them. This is what NATO and Afghan leaders agreed together. It has been made possible by the courage and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces, and by the dedication of the international forces who helped train them over the past years.

Many challenges remain, and there is much work still to do. The Afghan security forces will continue to need our help as they develop.  

Our new mission, “Resolute Support,” will bring together around 12,000 men and women from NATO Allies and 14 partner nations. The mission is based on a request from the Afghan government and the Status of Forces Agreement between NATO and Afghanistan. The United Nations Security Council unanimously welcomed the agreement between Afghanistan and NATO to establish the mission and stressed the importance of continued international support for the stability of Afghanistan.   

We will also contribute to the financing of the Afghan security forces, and build an Enduring Partnership with Afghanistan which reflects our joint interests, shapes our joint cooperation and contributes to our shared security.  Read More at Nato
Transition ceremony kicks off Resolute Support Mission

U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan ends combat role; thousands of foreign troops remain

(Reuters) - The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan formally ended its combat mission on Sunday, more than 13 years after an international alliance ousted the Taliban government for sheltering the planners of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on American cities.

About 13,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, will remain in the country under a new, two-year mission named "Resolute Support" that will continue the coalition's training of Afghan security forces.

The Afghan army and police are struggling to fight against Taliban militants who this year killed record numbers of Afghans.

"Today marks an end of an era and the beginning of a new one," said U.S. General John Campbell, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), at the ceremony marking the end of the mission held at the ISAF headquarters in Kabul.

"We will continue to invest in Afghanistan's future," Campbell said at the ceremony, during which he rolled up the coalition's flag.

Since 2001, nearly 3,500 foreign soldiers have died in the Afghan war, including around 2,200 Americans.

"Now, thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion," President Barack Obama said in a statement.

The Taliban have launched increasingly deadly attacks in the past year. Nearly 3,200 Afghan civilians were killed in the conflict between the militant group and the army in 2014, and more than 4,600 Afghan army and police died in Taliban attacks.  Read More
U.S.-led mission in Afghanistan ends combat rolethousands of foreign troops remain

AirAsia Indonesia flight QZ8501 to Singapore missing

An AirAsia Indonesia airliner flying from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 people on board has gone missing.  Flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control at 06:24 local time (23:24 GMT Saturday) over the Java Sea.

The plane, an Airbus A320-200, disappeared midway into the flight of more than two hours from the city of Surabaya. No distress call was made.
Bad weather was reported in the area, and an air search operation has now been suspended for the night.
Planes from Indonesia and Singapore had been scouring an area of sea between Kalimantan (Borneo) and Java. Some boats were reported to be continuing to search as night fell.
No wreckage has been found, an Indonesian official told the BBC.  Read More at BBC

Missing AirAsia flight QZ8501: Fears for 162 people on board as jet disappears from radar

Indonesia halts search for missing AirAsia plane as night falls  Reuters

Ferry Catches Fire Off Greek Coast With Hundreds on Board

VERBANIA, Italy — Italian, Greek and Albanian vessels battled gale-force winds and rough seas on Sunday as they tried to rescue hundreds of passengers stranded on a ferry that caught fire off the northwestern coast of Greece en route to Italy.

Italian news media reported that the fire broke out on the car deck of the ferry, which was heading to the Italian port of Ancona. The ship was carrying 422 passengers and 56 crew members, according to the Greek Merchant Marine Ministry. The ministry said that 234 of the passengers were Greek and that the ship was also carrying passengers from Turkey, Italy, Albania, Switzerland, France, Georgia, Belgium, Austria, Syria and other countries.

By about 5 p.m. Sunday, 161 people had been removed from the ship, according to Italian officials who were coordinating the rescue operation. But the fire on board had still not been put out, they said. More than 300 people were still on board.   Read More at NYTimes

Saturday, December 27, 2014

An American Provocation: U.S. Foreign Policy during the Soviet-Afghanistan War - Kyle Tadman

American President Jimmy Carter and the foreign policies of his administration towards Afghanistan between the spring of 1979 and the beginning of 1981 paved the way for more than a decade of U.S. intervention in the Soviet-Afghanistan War. As the political situation quickly deteriorated in Afghanistan during the last year of the 1970s, the President and his policy advisors began to pay considerably more attention to the Soviet Union’s presence in the Southwest Asian country than it had during their first years in office.  In doing so, Carter and his men spent much of their time trying to establish a comprehensive strategy for addressing the increasingly hostile political and military climate in light of the Soviet’s occupation of the country. Within this context, the research illustrates how President Carter and members of his staff developed a foreign policy that was aimed towards influencing the outcome of the Soviet Union’s latest encroachment across national boundaries during the final two years of the administration.1

This article will examine a handful of important points, starting with why the United States got involved in this particular confrontation in the first place.  It will also analyze President Carter’s immediate public reaction to the Red Army’s invasion and whether or not his administration was genuinely “surprised” by the Soviet Politburo’s actions, considering the two nations were in a seemingly endless “Cold War” at the time of the invasion.2   In doing so, the research illustrates how the response to the Politburo’s chess move by the decision-makers in Washington, D.C. was ultimately highlighted by the use of the American spy network to carry out the country’s foreign policy in this long conflict. The foreign policy initiatives set forth by the Carter administration following the invasion, were actually put in motion much earlier.

In examining the policy-making process during this two-year period, the analysis will also expose the differences of opinion between the administration’s lead advisors—National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance—on how best to address the Soviet military occupation of Afghanistan.  It then recounts the two policy-makers’ ability to work through their contrasting viewpoints in route to the Carter administration’s overall response.  Most importantly however, this discussion will explain when the United States government began helping the Mujahidin forces confront the Soviet Army.  It reveals how the Brzezinski-led NSC ultimately won favor over President Carter during this deliberative period, and in doing so, opened the door for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to take a leading role inside Afghanistan six months before the Soviets invaded this geopolitically important country.3 Read More at Western Illinois Historical Review © 2013
Zbigniew Brzezinski How the US provoked the Soviet Union …

U.S., NATO Poised For Most Massive War In Afghanistan … Global Research

Afghanistan against US plans to transfer military gear to Ukraine - Kabul official

Kabul is against Washington's alleged decision to transfer weapons and machinery left from its military mission in Afghanistan to Ukraine, an Afghan presidential administration official told TASS. The issue will be discussed with Obama, he added.

American specialists in Afghanistan are currently preparing US army MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles to be transferred to Ukraine, according to the information obtained by the Afghan presidential administration. The US combat mission command refuses to discuss the issue with Kabul, saying the White House is in charge, a representative of Ashraf Ghani’s administration told the agency.

Ghani will raise the question during his visit to Washington in January. He plans to urge Obama not to move the equipment to Ukraine, the agency's source said. "The issue is directly connected with sustaining the country's strategic partnership with the US," the official added.

Washington has previously ensured Kabul that the US military equipment and weapons, used by its combat mission in Afghanistan, will stay in the country to be employed by the Afghan army and law enforcement, according to the official. He added the country planned to use it in strengthening its fighting capabilities against Taliban forces in the country's south.  Read More RT