Saturday, April 30, 2016

'They are falling apart': the fate of lone children in Calais' refugee camp - the guardian

A typical day for the group of 10- to 13-year-olds who live in the Calaisrefugee camp without their parents begins sometime around four o’clock in the afternoon, when they wake up.

There is nowhere on site to take a shower, and the wooden shacks and caravans where they live in groups of two or three have no water, so they make their way to a small wooden hut that serves free rice and beans.

“They are falling apart. We’re watching a deterioration of their mental health. They can be tearful, they aren’t sleeping, they have nightmares. They aren’t coping well,” says Liz Clegg, a volunteer from Devon who, in the absence of help from any mainstream children’s charities, has taken responsibility for a group of between 20 and 25 boys.

In the wake of Monday’s defeat of a Lords amendment that proposed bringing 3,000 lone child refugees into the UK, MPs will be asked to consider a new version demanding that Britain resettle an unspecified number of unaccompanied refugee children  currently living elsewhere in Europe. As the fate of child refugees is discussed in parliament, volunteers looking after the youngest in Calais are dismayed that politicians in the UK have been so slow to recognise that they need urgent help.

A survey by the British voluntary organisationHelp Refugees at the beginning of April found 294 unaccompanied minors in Calais, the youngest of whom is eight. Most of the 10- to 13-year-olds are from Afghanistan and Syria. Spend an afternoon in the camp, and you meet dozens of them. - Read More
'They are falling apart': the fate of lone children in Calais' refugee camp

Why Over Half of Prince’s Estate Will Go to the Government - dailysignal

It appears that the pop star Prince may have died without a will, leaving behind a multi-million dollar and growing estate. Although Prince has one full sister and five half-siblings, Prince’s family members will not be his biggest heirs.

Both the federal government and Minnesota’s state government will assess so-called “death taxes” or estate taxes on Prince’s assets, taking away more than half his estate. Between his physical assets—cash, investments, home, etc.—and his future royalties, Prince’s estate has been estimated to be between $300 and $500 million.

If Prince were married, he could have passed on the entirety of his estate to his spouse tax free. However, without a spouse, only $1.6 million of Prince’s estate will be free from Minnesota’s death tax and only $5.45 million will escape the federal death tax.

The combination of Minnesota’s top death tax rate of 16 percent, plus the federal government’s 40 percent rate, means that over 50 percent of Prince’s estate will go to the government. - Read More

Why Over Half of Prince’s Estate Will Go to the Government

Friday, April 29, 2016

Pentagon disciplines 16 for deadly attack on Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan

The Pentagon has disciplined 16 service members for mistakes that led to the deadly airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last fall, but no one will face criminal charges, The Times has learned.

One officer was suspended from command and ordered out of Afghanistan. The others were given lesser punishments: Six were sent to counseling, seven were issued letters of reprimand, and two were ordered to retraining courses.

The punishments follow a six-month Pentagon investigation of the disastrous Oct. 3 attack, which killed 42 medical workers, patients and other Afghans and wounded dozens more at the international humanitarian aid group's trauma center in Kunduz.

The 16 found at fault include a two-star general, the crew of an Air Force AC-130 gunship, and Army special forces personnel, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal investigation.

Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, is expected to announce the administrative actions Friday at the Pentagon. He will not release names of the 16 because some are overseas or in units that are regularly deployed.

Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Middle East, will post more than 3,000 pages of a redacted investigative report on its website after Votel appears. - Read More at the latimes

Pentagon disciplines 16 for deadly attack on Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan


The Pentagon has disciplined 16 military personnel over the “accidental” airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz Afghanistan  that killed 42 people last October.

General Joseph L. Votel on Friday delivered a summary of a report about the investigation and said the attack was the result of human error and process and equipment failure. While the trauma center was supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres-Doctors Without Borders (MSF), the strike was authorized by the ground force commander as a self-defense decision to protect both American and Afghan troops, said Votel.

The 16 service members in question have not been suspended and won’t face criminal charges, but they did receive administrative punishments, including denial of promotion or advancement, extensive retraining and letters of reprimand, which could result in possible separation from the service, said Votel. They have not been named because some of the individuals remain assigned to overseas units, but their positions include several special operations personnel, a general officer and a two-star general. 

The attack was launched 39 minutes earlier than expected, but service members did not have time to prepare and check for no-strike locations, said Votel. A radio signal also failed, resulting in miscommunication, and many involved in the attack were heavily fatigued, he said. “Fatigue and high operational tempo also contributed to the incident,” U.S. Central Command said in a statement. “These factors contributed to the ‘fog of war,’ which is the uncertainty often encountered during combat operations.” - Read More at the Newsweek

U.S. Says Strike on Kunduz Hospital Wasn't War Crime

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Donald Trump leads cheering crowd in O.C.: 'Build that wall' - OCRegister

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump brought his rousing message of political indignation to a full house at Costa Mesa’s 8,000-seat Pacific Amphitheatre on Thursday and was celebrated by the vocal crowd for providing an alternative to the status quo.

Within minutes of taking the stage to kick off his California campaign, Trump had the crowd on its feet chanting, “Build that wall.”

“Your crime numbers, they’re going through the roof, and we can’t have it anymore,” Trump told the packed venue at the OC Fair & Event Center. “We’re going to get our country back to a balance.”

Outside, sheriff’s deputies on horseback and in riot gear had to separate pro- and anti-Trump groups who shouted profanities at each other and nearly came to blows, with one side chanting “Dump Trump” as the other shouted, “Go back to Mexico.” As Trump spoke, a large crowd of protesters, some waving Mexican flags, blocked an intersection outside. Drivers were burning rubber, filling the air with smoke.

The tensions may be an early sign of what’s ahead for California in the weeks leading up to the June 7 primary, as Trump shifts his attention to the state that could prove the most crucial yet in his drive to be the Republican standard bearer.

“No state has suffered more from open borders than the state of California,” Trump told the crowd.

Trump’s choice of Orange County for his first major California event of the year is no surprise. While the county’s increasing ethnic diversity has contributed to Republican voter registration recently slipping below 40 percent, the GOP still has an 8-point advantage over Democrats and continues its longstanding national reputation as a Republican powerhouse.

The county’s many wealthy donors also make it a national fundraising hub for GOP candidates.

The 1,237 delegates Trump needs to secure the nomination in advance of the July convention is within reach. California’s 172 delegates – the most of any state – could determine whether he reaches that benchmark or must continue the battle at the convention.

Though Election Day is June 7, there is a more immediate urgency to connect with the state’s voters because mail ballots begin going out in 11 days.

If Trump falls short of the 1,237 majority, it would allow convention voting to proceed past the first ballot, and delegates no longer would be obliged to back their original candidate. Some Republicans, including Cruz and Kasich, are hoping for that scenario and the possibility that it will allow someone other than the controversial billionaire to become the nominee. - Read More

Donald Trump leads cheering crowd in O.C.: 'Build that wall'

Donald Trump in Orange County: Large crowd gathers hours before rally in Costa Mesa

Zalmay Khalilzad introducing Donald Trump

Afghanistan born, Zalmay Khalilzad is a Sunni Muslim. He is fluent in English, Pashto, Dari and Arabic. He is the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations, the former United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the former United States Ambassador to Afghanistan. He spoke on Wednesday, April 27, 2016, to introduce Donald Trump, prior to Trump's Foreign Policy address at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. Hosted by The National Interest Magazine, and its parent institution, The Center for the National Interest. - Read More

Zalmay Khalilzad introducing Donald Trump  - More

Donald Trump's foreign policy: 'America first'

Washington (CNN) - Donald Trump had a foreign policy sales pitch for U.S. voters and a blunt message for the world Wednesday: America comes first.

The Republican presidential front-runner proposed a sweeping redirection of America's global role in a major speech, part of a string of planned addresses designed to flesh out what a Trump administration would look like and to establish leadership credentials ahead of an increasingly probable general election clash with Democrat and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The billionaire businessman simultaneously addressed restive American voters and global elites worried by his fiery rhetoric on national security: He stressed that the United States would always put its economic and foreign policy interests first but said that allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East would benefit from a much stronger, less ambiguous U.S. role in the world -- as long as they were prepared to pay up.

"America first will be the overriding theme of my administration," Trump said in his remarks at Washington's Mayflower hotel, delivered from a prepared text and in a subdued fashion starkly at odds with the free-wheeling rhetorical style that has powered his political rise on the campaign trail.

But he also said he would not rush to war, striking an isolationist note that contrasts with the last Republican administration of George W. Bush.

However, Trump was introduced by Zalmay Khalilzad, President George W. Bush's former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the permanent representative to the United Nations. - Read More
Donald Trump's foreign policy: 'America first' -

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Trump vows to put "America first" in foreign policy - Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a rare formal policy speech, Republican front-runner Donald Trump vowed Wednesday to put American security "above all else" if elected president, warning allies they would be left to defend themselves if they don't "pay their fair share." He also called for an easing of tensions with Russia "from a position of strength, only."

"'America first' will be the major and overriding theme of my administration," Trump said in a 38-minute address at a Washington hotel.

Trump — fresh off a sweep of five Northeastern primaries that pushed him closer to the GOP nomination — sought to expand on foreign policy views that have lacked detail and worried experts in both parties. Still, he left major questions about his proposals unanswered, including his plan for defeating the Islamic State group, casting his sparse details as a strategy for catching America's enemies off guard.

"We must, as a nation, be more unpredictable," Trump said. The businessman read his remarks off a teleprompter, a notable change for a candidate who typically speaks off the cuff and has mocked his rivals for giving prepared speeches.

Trump appeared to send a mixed message to America's allies. He doubled down on his previous assertion that other countries must contribute to international security agreements, such as NATO, if they're to get the benefits of American military protection. Yet he also assured allies that the U.S. will have a renewed commitment to its overseas friends if he's elected president.

"To our friends and allies, I say America is going to be strong again, America is going to be reliable again," Trump said. "It's going to be a great and reliable ally again."

Many elements of Trump's speech were similar to his typical campaign remarks, but he delivered them in a much more sober, restrained manner. Critics have said repeatedly that he has not shown an ability to act and sound "presidential."

He spent much of his speech panning President Barack Obama's handling of crises in the Middle East, saying the current administration was leaving a legacy of "weakness, confusion and disarray."

We've made the Middle East more unstable and chaotic than ever before," Trump said. He singled out Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton's handling of the deadly attacks on a U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, and repeatedly linked the former secretary of state to what he sees as the failures of the Obama administration to show strength around the world.

Even before Trump's address, Clinton's campaign blasted out a news release saying the Republican leader has used "the most reckless rhetoric of any major presidential candidate in modern history."

Still, Trump didn't spare former Republican President George W. Bush, criticizing his efforts to bring democracy to the Middle East and reaffirming his own opposition to the unpopular Iraq war. Drawing a contrast with hawkish Republicans, Trump said "war and aggression will not be my first instinct" and pledged to deploy combat forces only as a last resort.

Trump spoke to an invited audience of conservative-leaning national security experts, as well as some prominent foreign policy writers. - Read More 
Trump vows to put "America first" in foreign policy

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Afghan President Demands Pakistan Take Military Action Against Taliban - nytimes

KABUL, Afghanistan — After courting Pakistan for more than a year, President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan changed course on Monday and warned that he would lodge a complaint with the United Nations Security Council if Pakistan refuses to take military action against Taliban leaders operating from its soil to wage an increasingly deadly insurgency across Afghanistan.

Mr. Ghani has tried to persuade Pakistan’s leadership, particularly its powerful military, to bring the insurgent leaders to the negotiating table. But an increase in Taliban violence, including a brutal attack last week in the heart of Kabul that killed at least 64 people and wounded more than 300, has forced the Afghan president to effectively end the negotiations, which have been a cornerstone effort of his troubled time in office.

“I want to make it clear that we do not expect Pakistan to bring the Taliban to talks,” Mr. Ghani said Monday in a rare joint session of the two houses of the Afghan Parliament. “If we do not see a change, despite our hopes and efforts for regional cooperation, we will be forced to turn to the U.N. Security Council and launch serious diplomatic efforts.”

In quadrilateral talks over the past year that also involved the United States and China, Pakistan had pledged “in writing” to go after Taliban leaders who refused to join the peace process, Mr. Ghani said.

In quadrilateral talks over the past year that also involved the United States and China, Pakistan had pledged “in writing” to go after Taliban leaders who refused to join the peace process, Mr. Ghani said. - Read More
Afghan President Demands Pakistan Take Military Action Against Taliban

حامد کرزی: امریکا آنچه را باید انجام می داد انجام نداده است Deutsche Welle

حامد کرزی در همایش رسانه های اوراسیا در آستانه پایتخت قزاقستان به شرکت کنندگان درمورد اوضاع کشورش معلومات ارائه می کرد. گوینتر کنابه از رادیو دویچه وله در مورد مشکلات کنونی این کشور با وی مصاحبه ای انجام داده است.
کرزی: خب، دلیل ادامه ناامنی واضح است، دلیل آن تداوم مداخله در افغانستان است، دلیل آن اینست که مداخله از جانب پاکستان کاهش نیافته است، دلیل آن تداوم پناهگاه ها در پاکستان و تداوم آمدن افرادی از آنجا به افغانستان برای انجام دادن چنین عملیاتی است.

دلیل دیگری که به عین اندازه اهمیت دارد اینست که ایالات متحد امریکا و متحدانش به آنچه در پاکستان اتفاق می افتد توجه نمی کنند، به پناهگاه ها توجه نمی کنند و بنابراین اقدامی برای جلوگیری صورت نمی گیرد. متاسفانه به جای آن در داخل افغانستان، در قریه های ما عملیات می شود و این اوضاع را برای ما خرابتر می گرداند.

بنا براین، موجودیت پناهگاه ها و فقدان عمل ایالات متحد امریکا و دیگران برای متوقف گردانیدن آن موجب آنست. افغانستان در موقعیتی نیست که در آنسوی مرز کاری انجام دهد، این اعمال را متوقف گرداند ویا کدام اقدام سیاسی کند. این وظیفه ایالات متحد امریکاست، زیرا هدف وی از آمدن به افغانستان همین است و همچنان به دلیل آنکه به افغانستان در موافقتنامه مشارکت استراتژیک و موافقتنامه امنیتی دو جانبه چنین وعده نموده است. اما آن ها این کار را نکردند.

دویچه وله: شما اشارت کردید که ایالات متحد امریکا نقش مهم در افغانستان بازی کرده و هنوز بازی می کند، زیرا قوی ترین نیروی نظامی در آیساف بوده و هنوز نیروهای ویژه امریکایی در افغانستان دست به عمل می زنند. با اینهم شما نسبتاً با شدت از واشنگتن انتقاد می کنید، چرا؟

کرزی: به دلیل این لغزش ها، به دلیل این بی عملی در جایی که می بایست دست به عمل بزند. و به خاطر اقدامات خشونتبار بسیار شدید در جاهایی که نباید دست به عمل بزند.

به طور مثال آن ها کاری در پاکستان برای متوقف گردانیدن رشد و حمایت از افراط گرایی و تروریسم و فرستادن آن به افغانستان انجام نمی دهند. بیشتر به آن ها( پاکستان) با منابع پولی کمک می کند. در حالی که در افغانستان، جایی که افراطیت نبود و نیست، در جایی که تروریسم از خاکش نشأت نمی کند، آن ها به خانه های مردم می روند، مردم را بازداشت می کنند، آن ها را به زندان می افگنند و این دلیل مایوسیت و خشم در درون افغانستان می گردد.

به نام تروریسم، این یک برخورد و سیاست غلط است که موجب تخریب و ویرانی قریه های افغانستان و مردم ملکی می گردد و سیاستی است که به تدارک کنندگان ترور در آن سوی مرز پاکستان مکافات می دهد. - Read More at DW

حامد کرزی: امریکا آنچه را باید انجام می داد انجام نداده است ...

Uzbekistan wants restart of Afghan peace talks, sees Russian role

Uzbek President Islam Karimov said on Tuesday it was important to resume peace talks between Afghanistan's central government and the Taliban movement, adding it was crucial that Russia took part in the talks.

Karimov, whose ex-Soviet nation borders Afghanistan, said: "There is a serious and a real threat of instability spilling over into neighbouring countries and regions".

"Russia has and always had its vital interests in this region," he said after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. "We believe that attempts to resolve this (Afghan) issue without Russia are unreasoned and precipitous." - Read More

Uzbekistan wants restart of Afghan peace talks, sees Russian role

Trump Sweeps Northeastern Primaries; Clinton Cements Wide Lead Over Sanders

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton took definitive steps toward solidifying their respective party's presidential nomination on Tuesday, making their rivals' task to beat them nearly insurmountable.

Trump won all five of the delegate-rich GOP primaries in Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island. Clinton notched four victories in Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, while Bernie Sanders won the Rhode Island Democratic primary.

In the Republican race, Trump's clean sweep is a major setback for the hopes of the #NeverTrump movement, which had aimed to stop the controversial real estate mogul's march to the GOP nomination. With his wins on Tuesday, Trump has crossed the 900 delegate threshold and will add more as the night goes on. And his victories were decisive, too — in each state he was winning with at least 57 percent of the vote.

Speaking from Trump Tower in New York City, Trump argued that the GOP race was effectively decided  "I consider myself the presumptive nominee," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, it's over."

Unlike after last week's New York primary — when a more restrained, cordial Trump took the stage following his big win — Trump's speech Tuesday night was in his usual freewheeling, unpredictable style. -  Read More at the NPR

Trump Sweeps Northeastern Primaries; Clinton Cements Wide Lead Over Sanders

Monday, April 25, 2016

رئیس‌جمهور افغانستان از احتمال شکایت از پاکستان به شورای امنیت خبر داد

محمد اشرف غنی، رئیس جمهوری افغانستان که امروز، یکشنبه ششم ثور (اردیبهشت) در یک نشست فوق العاده با نمایندگان هردو مجلس شورای ملی این کشور صحبت می‌کرد، اعلام کرد که خواست مردم افغانستان از دولت این است که کابل به دلیل حمایت پاکستان از مخالفان، به شورای امنیت سازمان ملل و سایر نهادهای بین‌الملی از پاکستان شکایت کند.
او گفت که اگر تغییری در رفتار پاکستان دیده نشود، مجبور است که به این خواست تن دهد.

آقای غنی که در این سخنرانی خط مشی جدید دولتش را در ارتباط به طالبان، روند صلح و رابطه افغانستان با پاکستان توضیح می‌داد، از طالبان به عنوان گروه تروریستی نام برد و از برخورد جدی‌تر دولت با این گروه به شمول احتمال اجرای حکم اعدام شماری اعضای زندانی آن خبر داد.

اگر چه آقای غنی در ادامه سخنرانی‌اش از داعش، القاعده و شبکه حقانی و برخی از گروه طالبان به عنوان دشمنان افغانستان نام برد.

او توضیح داد که مردم افغانستان انتظار دارند که ادامه میزبانی، تجهیز و تسهیل فعالیت گروه‌های تروریستی مخالف مردم افغانستان در خاک پاکستان، در تناقض با منشور و مصوبات سازمان ملل متحد‌ است. برمبنای اصل عدم حمایت از گروه‌های تروریستی بر علیه کشور ثالث، دولت افغانستان می‌تواند به شورای امنیت سازمان ملل و سایر نهادهای بین‌المللی شکایت کند.
آقای غنی ادامه داد که "این انتظار را به جا می‌دانیم و هرگاه چنین تغییری دیده نشود، ما ناگزیر خواهیم بود، علی رغم آرزوها و تلاش‌های برای شکل‌دهی به همکاری‌های منطقه‌ای با مراجعه به شورای امنیت ملل متحد به اقدامات جدی دیپلوماتیک متوسل شویم." - Read More, BBC

رئیس‌جمهور افغانستان از احتمال شکایت از پاکستان به شورای ...


KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghanistan's president on Monday called on Pakistan to battle the Taliban rather than try to bring them into peace talks.

Ashraf Ghani made the remarks during an address to parliament a week after a Taliban assault on the Afghan capital, Kabul, killed 64 people and wounded another 340.

Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of turning a blind eye to the Taliban, the leadership of which is widely believed to be based in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar, near the border.

Ghani said there are "no good or bad terrorists, they are just terrorists," and that "Pakistan must understand that and act against them."

Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States have been trying to revive peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban in recent months, but have made little progress.

"We don't expect Pakistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table," Ghani said. "What we want is for Pakistan, based on the four nations' agreement, to keep its promises and launch military operations against insurgents."

Dawa Khan Menapal, deputy spokesman to the president, said that there has been no contact with the Afghan government regarding the peace talks from the Pakistani side.

"We have made our decision and the decision was announced by the president today," he said. "Now it is Pakistan's turn to fulfill their promise according the decision of the four nations meetings." - Read More

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - News from The Associated Press

Secret EU plan to deport 80,000 Afghans

Revealed: Confidential EU discussion document proposes using aid summit as 'leverage' for removal of migrants to Afghanistan, as Brussels relies on chequebook diplomacy to curtail the crisis

More than 80,000 Afghans will need to be deported from Europe “in the near future” under a secret EU plan, amid warnings of a new influx as parts of the country fall back under Taliban control.

The European Commission should threaten to reduce aid that provides 40 per cent of Afghanistan's GDP unless the "difficult" Kabul government agrees to the mass removal of tens of thousands of failed asylum migrants, a leaked document suggests. It admits the threat, if carried through, could result in the collapse of the fragile state.

The Afghan elite will be rewarded with university places in Europe, under a new EU strategy to use aid and trade as “incentives” to secure deportation agreements for economic migrants from "safe" areas of Afghanistan.

The plan is revealed in a joint “non-paper” discussion document, marked EU Restricted, which was prepared by the European Commission and its foreign policy arm, the External Action Service, and sent to national ambassadors on March 3.

Record violence amid a Taliban insurgency, with 11,000 civilian casualties last year, and economic failure means there is a “high risk of further migratory flows to Europe,” it warns. There are 1.1 million internally displaced Afghans and 5.4 million sheltering in Pakistan and Iran, whose situation is "precarious without reliable long-term perspectives."

Jean-Claude Juncker’s officials propose using the summit as “leverage” to secure a deportation deal, noting that the EU has pledged more to Afghanistan than any other country with €1.4 billion earmarked until 2020. - Telegraph

Remarks by President Obama and Chancellor Merkel in Joint Press Conference -

These are turbulent times.  I think we would both agree.  And we have an opportunity talk about the whole spectrum of international issues.  Our bilateral relations are excellent.  We don't need to spend too much time on this. 

We used this opportunity here to talk about, as I said, the broad spectrum of international issues, for example, combatting terrorism, tackling the root causes of flight, and also the peace process, but also questions related to migration in general. 

We talked about Afghanistan, and Afghanistan, too, needs to be kept on a track which is promising for the Afghani people.  We are ready and willing to be militarily engaged, to continue to be militarily engaged.  We're grateful to the United States of America for the very great responsibility that you are willing to continue to shoulder.  And I think the message to the Taliban needs to be the international community will not leave Afghanistan in this current predicament. - Read More at the Joint Press Conference

Remarks by President Obama and Chancellor Merkel in Joint Press Conference

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Former US Ambassador to Kabul Reflects on Missed Opportunities

The former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, says one of the biggest problems facing Afghanistan continues to be its poor relationship with its neighbor, Pakistan.

Khalilzad told VOA in an interview Friday that "the two countries need each other and they should cooperate." He said the United States did not succeed in bringing Afghanistan and Pakistan together after 9/11 and "we have not succeeded still."

"This is going on so many years later. And I think this is the mother, in my view, of the problems of Afghanistan," Khalilzad said. The Afghanistan-born scholar said the biggest failure of the United States in Afghanistan was not being able to develop a plan "where Afghanistan and Pakistan could cooperate."

Khalilzad said the main reason why the United States could not achieve more in Afghanistan was because Pakistan created sanctuaries for the Taliban.

Pakistan's 'double game'
Shortly after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 to drive out the Taliban, Khalilzad, who was serving as U.S. President's George Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan, said he began to realize that Pakistan was playing a "double game."

He said very few U.S. officials believed what he was saying. "I was the fist administration official at that level to say a 'sanctuary' was being developed — to use that word. Now, if you say that no one would challenge that."

Pakistan has consistently denied that it allows militant groups to organize and plot attacks from its territory, or that its intelligence service aids some militant groups. However the country's inability to secure the tribal areas along the Afghan border has become a high-profile issue with both Washington and Kabul who say Islamabad should do more to rein in extremists.

Khalilzad said he is disappointed the United States could not do more in Afghanistan, but said the situation there is a lot better than before the U.S. invasion.

Sunni, Shi'ite rivalry 
When asked about the rise of Islamist extremism, Khalilzad said "whatever the reasons are, Muslims are divided themselves."

He said one of the most important factors in the rise of Islamic State is the rivalry between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims and between Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. He said current policies in the Middle East have led to "supremely devastating circumstances for the Sunni Arabs" in both Syria and Iraq.

"Only extremists can survive in those circumstances," he said. "If you are a moderate, a professor, a dentist, a doctor, and you have children, you can not survive. You run away, or you become and extremist, saying this must be the will of God."

Zalmay Khalilzad's new memoir, "The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House, My Journey Through a Turbulent World," traces his journey from a boy in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan, to his time in California as an exchange student, and his time as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and later the United Nations. - Read More at VOA

Former US Ambassador to Kabul Reflects on Missed Opportunities

Don't let Afghanistan become forgotten crisis: Red Cross official

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The world must not let Afghanistan become a forgotten crisis, a senior Red Cross official said on Friday as he warned of spiraling violence, donor fatigue and a worrying "brain drain" of educated professionals.

"The international community must keep their attention on Afghanistan. It's far from being over. It's not the time to switch off," said Jean-Nicolas Marti, outgoing head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan.

He warned that violence - which is at levels not seen since 2001 - would likely escalate in the coming year.

"The security situation has really deteriorated ... and my prediction is a further deterioration," Marti said. "Potentially the 18 months ahead of us will be much tougher."

Marti is meeting government officials in European capitals and Washington to press for greater political, financial and humanitarian support.

Marti was speaking just days after a suicide attack in Kabul killed 64 people and injured hundreds more in the deadliest single incident of its kind in the capital since 2011.

An estimated one million people are displaced within Afghanistan and others have fled abroad.  Afghans are the second largest group of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe behind Syrians. - Read More

Don't let Afghanistan become forgotten crisis: Red Cross official

Red Cross sounds alarm on rising casualties in 'ignored' Afghanistan

Obama Calls Meeting With European Leaders Over Shared Challenges - nytimes

LONDON — President Obama will meet with Western European leaders on Sunday and Monday amid a growing sense in his administration that Europe is faltering in the face of multiple challenges, undercutting the trans-Atlantic alliance at a critical time.

Even as Mr. Obama has tried to focus United States foreign policy more on Asia and China’s rising power, administration aides say they have watched with concern as European unity has come under increased strain at a time of increased Russian aggression, slow economic growth, a virulent terrorism threat, and a huge influx of migrants from the Middle East and beyond.

In meeting in Germany on Sunday with Chancellor Angela Merkel and on Monday with Ms. Merkel, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, President François Hollande of France and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy, Mr. Obama intends to press his European counterparts on a number of issues, aides said.

They include a new trans-Atlantic trade pact, the need for better intelligence sharing within Europe about the terrorism threat, holding firm against President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and trying to find a solution to the civil war in Syria.

He is scheduled to give a speech Monday in Germany taking stock of Europe’s challenges. - Read More 

Obama Calls Meeting With European Leaders Over Shared Challenges