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Afghanistan Timeline: News, Updates & Discussions

Discussion in 'South Asia & SAARC' started by @speaks, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. The Drdo Guy

    The Drdo Guy Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    India’s Mi-35 helicopters ready for first battle in Afghanistan against Taliban
    Published January 21, 2016
    SOURCE : PTI

    [​IMG]
    Mil Mi-35 Hind-E in IAF service

    Afghanistan today said three of the four multirole Mi-35 helicopters that India donated to it last month have been assembled and are now fully operational to combat terrorism in the war-torn country.

    According to the Defense Ministry, the helicopters will be used in the ongoing Helmand battle for the first time.
    “We have always been helped by India. The helicopters donated by India to Afghanistan have been assembled and will help us fight terrorists,” Tolo news agency quoted Ghulam Sakhi Ahmadzai, deputy chief of procurement of the Defense Ministry, as saying.

    Thanking India for its cooperation, air force commander Abdul Wahab Wardak said help from regional and global countries was crucial for bringing peace and stability to the country.

    “The [Indian) helicopters are very suitable for the climate and the location of the country and they can give further morale to the security forces in their operations against terrorists,” he said.

    “As we are helped by India and the US we need the same cooperation from other countries because the Taliban, Daesh and al-Qaeda are not only the enemy for Afghanistan but [the enemy of] any country in the world,” Wardek said.

    Meanwhile, India’s Defense Attache in Kabul Sujit Narain said that he was happy that the helicopters are operational for the Afghan Air Force.

    “We consider Afghanistan as our close friend and we will further help this country,” Narain said.

    The Three helicopters were handed over to Afghanistan during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kabul in December last year, the fourth helicopter is expected to be delivered soon.

    India’s Mi-35 helicopters ready for first battle in Afghanistan against Taliban
     
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  2. The Drdo Guy

    The Drdo Guy Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Why India Transferred Attack Helicopters to Afghanistan
    Published February 1, 2016
    SOURCE: THE DIPLOMAT

    [​IMG]
    Image from janes.com

    Earlier this month, the Afghan Ministry of Defense inducted three Mi-25 attack helicopters into the Afghan Air Force (AAF). The helicopters were supplied by India and mark the first time that New Delhi has transferred lethal military equipment to Afghanistan. The AAF inducted three of four scheduled Mi-25 helicopters. The Mi-25s will replace Afghanistan’s aging Mi-35 attack helicopters and provide a much-needed boost to Afghanistan’s air support capabilities in the ongoing struggle against the Taliban across the country.

    On January 20, Afghanistan confirmed that three multirole Mi-25 had been assembled and were ready for operational use. The Mi-25s will likely see their first use in the ongoing struggle against Taliban fighters in Helmand province. “We have always been helped by India. The helicopters donated by India to Afghanistan have been assembled and will help us fight terrorists,” Ghulam Sakhi Ahmadzai, deputy chief of procurement at the Afghan defense ministry, told Tolo News.

    The Mi-25 agreement between the two countries was announced in November 2015, when Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai visited New Delhi. India had previously supplied three Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL) Cheetal trainer helicopters to the AAF.

    The Afghan Air Force already has experience with Russian-made Mi-24 attack helicopters and operates five older Mi-35s, that were supplied by the Czech Republic in 2008. The AAF’s existing Mi-35s, however, are not commonly used. As Franz-Stefan Gady explained in The Diplomat in November, the “Mi-25 is a close-air support aircraft armed with a YakB four-barrelled, 12.7mm, built-in, flexibly mounted machine gun, as well as rocket and grenade launchers. It can be deployed against ground troops including armored and slow moving air targets. It can also serve as a low-capacity troop transport (up to eight paratroopers), and be used for medical evacuation missions.” The helicopter is thus well-suited for the AAF’s role in helping the Afghan National Army take Taliban positions with close-air support.

    Unfortunately, given the many challenges facing Afghan security forces in Afghanistan, the Indian transfer of Mi-25s is not a game changing development on the battlefield. Instead, the broader significance of the transfer is in what it tells us about New Delhi’s approach to security in Afghanistan. Despite close ties between India and Afghanistan, New Delhi took until early 2016 to deliver lethal weaponry to Kabul due to concerns that doing so could aggravate Pakistan, which sees increased Indian support for the Afghan government as a potential threat.

    The Indian government, however, is moving away from that old paradigm in managing its relationship with Afghanistan. Indeed, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed his interest in decoupling India’s approach to Afghanistan from its approach to Pakistan when he made a surprise stopover in Lahore just hours after having declared his support for Afghanistan before the Afghan parliament.

    Why India Transferred Attack Helicopters to Afghanistan
     
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  3. The Drdo Guy

    The Drdo Guy Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    India approves more projects in Afghanistan
    Published February 1, 2016
    SOURCE: TNN

    [​IMG]

    India on Monday approved the third phase of 92 small development projects in Afghanistan. This was announced after external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj met Afghan chief executive officer and head of the council of ministers Abdullah Abdullah here.

    External affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted that Sushma Swaraj had approved the “strategic partnership for the benefit of (Afghan) people”.

    Earlier, Abdullah Abdullah called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.An agreement that will allow visa-free travel for diplomats of the two countries was signed in the presence of Modi and Abdullah Abdullah. Abdullah Abdullah, who arrived here on Sunday on a five-day visit to India, will leave for Jaipur on Tuesday where he will attend a conference on counter-terrorism.

    His visit to India comes in the wake of Modi’s visit to Kabul in December when the new Afghan parliament building, constructed with India’s aid, was inaugurated.

    India approves more projects in Afghanistan
     
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  4. Gessler

    Gessler Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    Indian-donated Mi-35s making a big difference in fight against Taliban: US Gen. John Campbell

    [​IMG]

    The three Mi-35 Indian multi-role helicopters donated to Afghanistan have made a big difference in the offensive against militants in the war-torn country, the outgoing commander of US forces in Afghanistan has said.

    “They do have three Mi-35s (sic) – really Mi-24s and Mi-35s from India. They’ll have a fourth one coming in pretty soon that will add to their inventory as well and that’ll make a great difference,” Gen John Campbell told members of the House Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on Afghanistan on Tuesday.

    The Mi-35, a comprehensive upgrade of the Mi-24, is a versatile helicopter gunship with troop carrying capabilities.

    Campbell, who has commanded US and international forces in Afghanistan for the past 18 months, is expected to retire.

    Lieutenant General John Nicholson has been chosen by President Barack Obama to replace Campbell. In January, three multi-role Mi-35 attack helicopters donated by India were inducted into the Afghan Air Force, giving the country’s security forces a much-needed lethal teeth against militant groups like the Taliban. The Indian gift to Afghanistan has been hailed by the people and government of Afghanistan, and also by the US.

    Campbell’s remarks on India’s donation of attack helicopters came in response to a question from Congressman Rob Wittman who wanted to know about the capabilities of the Afghan Air Force. The three helicopters were handed over to Afghanistan during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kabul in December last year. The fourth helicopter is expected to be delivered soon.

    Indian helicopters helped war against militants in Afghanistan: US General | The Indian Express
     
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  5. Gessler

    Gessler Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    Qatari prince pledges $140 million in aid, joint investment to Afghanistan
    By KHAAMA PRESS - Wed Feb 03 2016, 10:24 am

    [​IMG]

    A Qatari prince has pledged $140 million comprised of non-refundable aid and capital for joint investment in key housing sectors in Afghanistan.

    Two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) were signed between the Qatari prince Sheikh Ali bin Abdullah Al Thani, head of the Al-Gharafa Non-governmental Organization, and the Minister of Urban Development Affairs of Afghanistan Syed Sadat Mansoor Naderi in this regard.

    Urban Development Affairs Minister Syed Sadat Naderi said the MoUs will cover key areas, including efforts to reduce the lack of shelter for the needy citizens of Afghanistan, creation of job opportunities, attraction of aid and proper use of the available opportunities to boost the economic prospects and opportunities for foreign investment in the country.

    The MoUs will also cover efforts including a campaign to reduce the rising cost of residential and commercial properties, including plots and apartments.

    Other areas, including creation of a healthy competition in housing construction sector, promotion of modern and standard construction in accordance to the international norms and prevention of illegal buildings.

    Hailing the friendly and deep relations between Afghanistan and Qatar, Mr. Naderi said the first MoU consists of $40 million in non-refundable aid which would be utilized in housing construction, specifically for the children of the martyred.

    Mr. Naderi further added that the second MoU consists of $100 million funds which will be utilized as a capital for joint investment in various projects, including housing construction, commercial markets, hotels and other construction projects.

    Two other MoUs were also signed between the Qatari prince and officials from the Ministry of Agriculture Irrigation and Livestock and National Environmental Protection Agency.

    Qatari prince pledges $140 million in aid, joint investment to Afghanistan - Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan News Agency
     
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  6. Gessler

    Gessler Lt. Colonel Technical Analyst

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    ...Continuation

    Ghani’s State Visit

    As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani told his Indian counterpart Pranab Mukherjee during the former’s April state visit to India, “We are two countries that are bound by a thousand ties and millions of memories.” Ghani added, “The ties between our two countries are engraved in our landscapes, from the haunting, empty frames where the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan once stood, to the remnants of Hindu temples that stud the Afghan countryside, to the Sufi shrines and the mosques and minarets, forming the cultural heritage of India.

    Against this backdrop of strong people-to-people and civilizational ties, Afghanistan presents a clear economic opportunity for India and the region. Afghans are working to make their country “the Asian roundabout, a key hub in the revival of the Silk Road.” Last April, Ghani spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian business community about his vision of Afghanistan, and encouraged India to consider investing in Afghanistan’s highly profitable markets.

    The Afghan president even promised personal intervention to facilitate significant Indian investment in Afghanistan, provided that Indian businesses consider moving in with major investment plans. In a proactive step to facilitate Indian investment in Afghanistan, Ghani has ordered the opening of a new consulate, either in Kolkata or Hyderabad. A feasibility study is currently underway.

    In this connection, Afghanistan’s Minister of Energy and Water and Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development visited Delhi in August to participate in the Afghanistan-India Renewable Energy Summit, hosted by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). The ministers discussed business opportunities in the renewable energy sector in Afghanistan, and invited Indian businesses to take advantage of the chance to invest in a vast unexplored market in this critical sector.

    Also, appreciating India’s efforts to expand regional connectivity, Ghani invited India to join the PATTA (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan Trade and Transit Agreement), an invitation currently under review. If agreement is reached, it would go a long way to enabling Afghanistan to play its natural role as a land-bridge connecting South and Central Asia.

    In the same vein, Ghani lauded India’s investment in the Chabahar Port project, and encouraged its speedy implementation, which would ensure wider regional connectivity, increasing North-South transit trade and investment through Iran and Afghanistan.

    At the same time, Ghani welcomed India’s decision to provide support to the Habibia School in Kabul over the next 10 years; contribute to the Afghan Red Crescent Society’s program to treat Child Congenital Heart disease over the next five years; and offer assistance for a program of the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health in Kabul over the same period.

    The Afghan president also appreciated India’s decision to extend the 1,000 ICCR scholarships per year scheme another five years until the academic year 2021-22. And both sides agreed to sign in the coming months a number of commercial, consular, and mutual legal assistance MOUs to further expand bilateral cooperation between Afghanistan and India. These range from an extradition treaty to a agreement on visa-free entry for holders of diplomatic passports.

    The Way Forward

    Afghanistan and India have a full agenda of shared objectives to execute. The framework, within which bilateral aid programs and projects should be implemented, is the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA), which Afghanistan signed with India in 2011. Over the long run, the multi-dimensional Indo-Afghan relationship will only grow, in line with the two nations’ historic ties and converging interests, which they share with China and Russia.

    Like Afghanistan, India, China, and Russia have been targets of terrorist attacks, and remain concerned about the growing threats of terrorism, radicalism and criminality that primarily destabilize Afghanistan but also undermine regional peace and stability. Afghanistan has of course long been fighting the threat of terrorism. Its forces continue to wage a relentless campaign that has found consistent institutional support outside of Afghanistan. Casualty estimates vary, but about 92,000 innocent Afghans are believed to have been killed since 2001, while nearly 100,000 others have been wounded. Just recently, the United Nations reported that in the first six months of 2015, 5,000 Afghans were killed by terrorist attacks across Afghanistan.

    The recent summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS in Ufa, Russia, also discussed the intertwined security challenges of terrorism, radicalism, and criminality that confront the entire region, with far-reaching implications for international peace and security. As Ghani said in the two summits, Afghanistan occupies “a prominent place in the narrative and activities of terrorist organization networks; they are betting on our failure and should we fail, three of our neighbors, China, India, and Russia, out of the big countries, will be in harm’s way, but also all our other neighbors, near and far.”

    To avoid this scenario, especially in light of the rising presence of ISIS in Afghanistan, Ghani called on the three key regional players to join in a “forceful and coherent action” against any threats that undermine the security and stability of the region. He strongly recommended that the SCO – which will include India and Pakistan as full members – adopt a comprehensive strategy to overcome terrorism, since international actions have so far been “partial and fragmented,” while terrorist networks such as ISIS and Al Qaeda have moved “with coherence, determination, and decisiveness.”

    M. Ashraf Haidari has recently served as the deputy chief of mission of the Afghan Embassy in India. He was formerly Afghanistan’s deputy assistant national security adviser, as well as chargé d’affaires and deputy chief of mission of the Afghan Embassy in the United States.

    India and Afghanistan: A Growing Partnership | The Diplomat
     
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  7. Blackjay

    Blackjay Developers Guild Developers -IT and R&D

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    India, Afghanistan likely to ink air cargo service pact
    PTI | Updated: Dec 3, 2016, 07.35PM IST

    [​IMG]
    A billboard showing pictures of PM Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ahead of the 6th ministerial conference on Afghanistan in Amritsar. (PTI photo)


    HIGHLIGHTS
    • India may finalize an air cargo service pact with Afghanistan to boost bilateral trade
    • Afghanistan may seek enhanced supply of military hardware from India and more help for strengthening its armed forces
    • Issue will be discussed during PM Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's meeting tomorrow
    AMRITSAR: India is likely to finalize an air cargo service pact with Afghanistan to boost bilateral trade and gain leverage in the war-ravaged country as Pakistan continues to deny transit link for India-Afghan trade through its territory.

    The issue will be discussed during bilateral meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of the two-day Heart of Asia conference which began here today.


    There is a possibility that the pact will be finalized by Sunday itself.


    In the meeting, Afghanistan is likely to seek enhanced supply of military hardware from India and more help for strengthening its armed forces.

    Afghanistan has been trying to revamp its military to fight the resurgent Taliban after drawdown of NATO forces began nearly two years back.

    Sources said both India and Afghanistan were keen to finalise the air cargo agreement as soon as possible and that the broad contours of the pact are already worked out.

    India and Afghanistan have been exploring various connectivity projects for greater two-way trade.

    In May, India, Iran and Afghanistan had signed an agreement to set up a trade and transport corridor with Chabahar in Iran as the hub.

    The sea-land route of Chabahar Port is designed to bypass Pakistan and the project is seen as India's effort to counter China's plan to develop Gwadar port in Pakistan.

    Afghanistan is very keen on deeper defence and security cooperation with India and there were indications that Ghani may press for ramping up supply of arms and military hardware from India though Pakistan would be unhappy if there was closer Indo-Afghan military cooperation.

    Last week India had given to Afghanistan the last of the four military helicopters.

    India has trained hundreds of Afghan security personnel but has been adopting a cautious approach in providing weapons.

    Afghanistan has also been seeking India's assistance in making functional Soviet-era helicopters and transport aircraft which were not in flying condition.

    India has a strategic partnership with Afghanistan and is implementing projects worth $2 billion to help rebuild the country's infrastructure.

    India has been supporting an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned, broad-based and inclusive process of peace and reconciliation, and advocating the need for a sustained and long-term commitment to Afghanistan by the international community.
     
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  8. Inactive

    Inactive Guest

    Saudis Bankroll Taliban, Even as King Officially Supports Afghan Government

    By CARLOTTA GALLDEC. 6, 2016

    KABUL, Afghanistan — Fifteen years, half a trillion dollars and 150,000 lives since going to war, the United States is trying to extricate itself from Afghanistan. Afghans are being left to fight their own fight. A surging Taliban insurgency, meanwhile, is flush with a new inflow of money.

    With their nation’s future at stake, Afghan leaders have renewed a plea to one power that may hold the key to whether their country can cling to democracy or succumbs to the Taliban. But that power is not the United States.

    It is Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia is critical because of its unique position in the Afghan conflict: It is on both sides.

    A longtime ally of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has backed Islamabad’s promotion of the Taliban. Over the years, wealthy Saudi sheikhs and rich philanthropists have also stoked the war by privately financing the insurgents.

    All the while, Saudi Arabia has officially, if coolly, supported the American mission and the Afghan government and even secretly sued for peace in clandestine negotiations on their behalf.

    The contradictions are hardly accidental. Rather, they balance conflicting needs within the kingdom, pursued through both official policy and private initiative.

    The dual tracks allow Saudi officials plausibly to deny official support for the Taliban, even as they have turned a blind eye to private funding of the Taliban and other hard-line Sunni groups.

    The result is that the Saudis — through private or covert channels — have tacitly supported the Taliban in ways that make the kingdom an indispensable power broker.

    [​IMG]
    Insurgents in the border area of Zabul Province in Afghanistan. Over the years, wealthy Saudi sheikhs and philanthropists have stoked the war by privately financing the Taliban and other hard-line Sunni groups.CreditMirwais Khan/Associated Press

    In interviews with The New York Times, a former Taliban finance minister described how he traveled to Saudi Arabia for years raising cash while ostensibly on pilgrimage.

    The Taliban have also been allowed to raise millions more by extorting “taxes” by pressing hundreds of thousands of Pashtun guest workers in the kingdom and menacing their families back home, said Vali Nasr, a former State Department adviser.

    Yet even as private Saudi money backed the Taliban, Saudi intelligence once covertly mediated a peace effort that Taliban officials and others involved described in full to The Times for the first time.

    Playing multiple sides of the same geopolitical equation is one way the Saudis further their own strategic interests, analysts and officials say.

    But it also threatens to undermine the fragile democratic advances made by the United States in the past 15 years, and perhaps undo efforts to liberalize the country.

    The United States now finds itself trying to persuade its putative ally to play a constructive rather than destructive role. Meanwhile, the Afghans have come to view Saudi Arabia as both friend and foe.

    The question now, as Afghan officials look for help, is which Saudi Arabia will they get?

    Prince Turki al-Faisal, who led the Saudi intelligence agency for over 24 years and later served as ambassador to the United States until his retirement in 2007, rejected any suggestion that Saudi Arabia had ever supported the Taliban.

    “When I was in government, not a single penny went to the Taliban,” he wrote in emailed comments.

    He added that the “stringent measures taken by the kingdom to prevent any transfer of money to terrorist groups” had been recognized by Daniel L. Glaser, the United States assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the Treasury, in testimony to Congress in June.

    Others say the verdict is still out. “We know there has been this financing that has gone on for years,” Hanif Atmar, director of the Afghan National Security Council, said in an interview. “This sustains the terrorist war machine in Afghanistan and in the region, and it will have to be stopped.”

    That may be easier said than done. Saudi Arabia remains one of the main sources of what Secretary of State John Kerry recently called “surrogate money” to support Islamist fighters and causes.

    Much of that largess is spread about in pursuit of what Mr. Nasr describes as a Saudi strategy of building a wall of Sunni radicalism across South and Central Asia to contain Iran, its Shia rival.

    That competition is being rekindled. With the Americans leaving, there is the sense that Afghanistan’s fate is up for grabs.


    In recent months, the Taliban has mounted a coordinated offensive with about 40,000 fighters across eight provinces — a push financed by foreign sources at a cost of $1 billion, Afghan officials say.

    At the same time, Saudi Arabia is offering the Afghan government substantial defense and development agreements, while Afghans say sheikhs from Saudi Arabia and other Arab Persian Gulf states are quietly funneling billions in private money to Sunni organizations, madrasas and universities to shape the next generation of Afghans.

    “The Saudis are re-engaging,” said Mr. Nasr, now dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in a telephone interview. “Afghanistan is important to them, which is why they invested so much in the 1980s, and they are looking to make themselves much more relevant.”


    [​IMG]
    Agha Jan Motasim, a former Taliban finance minister, traveled to Saudi Arabia to raise money two or three times a year after the fall of the Taliban. Ostensibly he went there on pilgrimage, but his primary purpose was to raise cash for the insurgency. CreditRobert Nickelsberg for The New York Times
    Surrogate Support

    The seven-year Taliban theocracy in Afghanistan was coming to a fiery end. It was 2001, and the Taliban government was collapsing under United States bombing unleashed in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks.

    Disguising himself as a doctor, Agha Jan Motasim, the Taliban finance minister, escaped over a remote border crossing into Pakistan aboard a Red Crescent ambulance, he said in a recent interview.

    In the Pakistani border town of Quetta, he and other Taliban leaders regrouped and began organizing the insurgency that continues today. Mr. Motasim was appointed head of the finance committee.

    One of his first stops was Saudi Arabia.

    As home to both enormous oil wealth and Islam’s holiest sites, it was the perfect place to make appeals not only to rich Saudi sheikhs and foundations but also to important donors who traveled to the kingdom on pilgrimage from all over the Muslim world.

    Between 2002 and 2007, Mr. Motasim traveled to Saudi Arabia two or three times a year. Ostensibly he went on pilgrimage, but his primary purpose was to raise cash for the Taliban.

    “There were people coming from other countries for umrah and hajj,” he said referring to the different Muslim pilgrimages. “Also the Saudi sheikhs would come as well. I would ask them for their help for the war.”

    “It was not only the Saudis who would help us but people who would come from different countries,” he recalled. “Saudi Arabia was the only country where I could meet them.”

    Once secured, the money could be moved in myriad ways to Taliban coffers, officials said, including through regional banks near Pakistan’s tribal areas and the hawala system of informal money-changers.

    Last year, Afghan security forces even discovered families of Al Qaeda members entering eastern Afghanistan with a stash of gold bars, Rahmatullah Nabil, former head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, said.

    The Saudi authorities often say they cannot control or always identify the millions of Muslims who travel to the kingdom every year on the hajj, said Barnett Rubin, who worked as special adviser to the United States envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    The Taliban always traveled on fake Pakistani passports under assumed names and were unknown to Saudi authorities, said a security official in the region, who spoke on condition of strict anonymity, citing the extreme sensitivity to upsetting Saudi Arabia.

    American requests to cut the funding yielded little result.

    In 2009, American officials complained that the Taliban and other extremist groups were raising millions of dollars during annual pilgrimages, according to American diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

    A December 2009 cable from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that donors in Saudi Arabia constituted the “most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

    The cables date from a period when Richard C. Holbrooke, who died in 2010, acted as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and actively sought to curb funding to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

    The funding from the gulf extended well beyond that period and to other groups besides the Taliban, including the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

    In a leaked email from 2014, Mrs. Clinton described the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia as “providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

    Financing such groups, she wrote, was part of a contest between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who were in “ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world.”
    [​IMG]
    Hamid Karzai, seated, the former president of Afghanistan, speaks highly of his friendship with the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, even though the kingdom supported the Taliban government up to 2001 and beyond. Saudi Arabia has been in alignment with Pakistan in checking Iranian influence in the region.CreditSergey Ponomarev for The New York Times
    Covert Peace Efforts

    It was September 2008, the holy month of Ramadan, and King Abdullah was hosting an iftar dinner in Mecca. But this was no routine breaking of the fast at sunset.

    The feast was an important signal of the king’s personal support for a covert yet still evolving peace effort. Among the dozens of guests were Afghan officials and elders, as well as former Taliban members.

    Within months, at a more discreet venue in the Red Sea port of Jidda, the Saudi intelligence agency convened Afghanistan’s chief adversaries to hash out a peace deal.

    Mr. Motasim, the same man who had been collecting money for the insurgency, was named by the Taliban as its representative.

    On the other side, the emissary for President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan was his brother, Qayum Karzai.

    During three days of intense discussions — breaking at intervals when the men locked horns — a Saudi intermediary nudged the two sides forward.

    The peace effort had begun in 2006. The initial broker was Abdullah Anas, an Algerian who had won credibility by fighting the Soviets for 10 years in Afghanistan.

    In an interview, Mr. Anas said his decision to seek out the Saudis as a third-party mediator was obvious, because of the kingdom’s special status as home to Islam’s two holiest sites and its support during the fight against the Soviet occupation.


    “Even in a very far village in Afghanistan, Saudi means something,” said Mr. Anas, who today runs Al Magharibia, a satellite television channel based in London.

    Still, getting the Saudis on board took some persuading. The events of 9/11 had deeply embarrassed them.

    Both the kingdom and the United States had nurtured the mujahedeen to push out a Soviet occupation in the 1980s, but the subsequent behavior of the Taliban infuriated the Americans. Harboring Osama bin Laden was the last straw.

    For the Saudis, it was more complicated.

    Even when the Taliban refused to hand over Bin Laden — Prince Turki, the Saudi intelligence chief, requested it in person in 1998 — the kingdom still did not break with them.

    Saudi Arabia supported the Taliban government up to 2001 and beyond, in alignment with Pakistan, the kingdom’s main ally to check Iranian influence in the region.

    “The problem is Saudi Arabia sees Afghanistan through the lenses of Pakistan,” Mr. Anas said, describing a prime challenge of his peace initiative.

    To achieve peace, Mr. Anas said he wanted to encourage the Saudis to build a relationship with Afghanistan directly.

    People involved in the effort — who spoke on condition of anonymity because the process was conducted in confidentiality — say King Abdullah was moved to back the effort out of a sense of compassion.

    He did so, they said, even in the face of resistance from other Saudi royals who were unhappy with the American occupation. Yet others were wary of further involvement in Afghanistan.

    To overcome Saudi reluctance, Mr. Anas took the Saudi emissary to Afghanistan to show that it remained a freely practicing Muslim society, despite the presence of American troops. President Karzai wrote King Abdullah, who had ascended to the throne in August 2005, a deferential letter requesting his intercession. It worked.

    King Abdullah met the Afghan leader at the door of his plane on a pilgrimage visit. Mr. Karzai still speaks highly of his friendship with King Abdullah, who died in 2015.

    “He would never, never, never leave my call unanswered,” he recounted in an interview. “The same day he would get back to me, talk to me and do all that I asked.”

    The Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, personally oversaw the negotiations, sending his emissary between Mr. Motasim of the Taliban and the Afghan government for two years.

    But when talks neared a critical endpoint, the Taliban were gripped by a vicious power struggle. The Saudi demand that the Taliban renounce terrorism and its ties to Al Qaeda was never met. Mr. Motasim was accused of embezzlement and removed.

    The next year, 2010, his main protector, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s chief operational commander, was arrested in Pakistan, while an assassin shot Mr. Motasim and left him for dead outside his home in Karachi, though he survived.

    Both events were interpreted as Pakistan’s opposition to any peace process being negotiated without its participation, several of those involved in the process say.

    “It was then that this process was sabotaged,” Mr. Motasim said.

    King Abdullah intimated to President Karzai in 2010 that there were obstructions beyond his control.

    “I wish to help Afghanistan,” Mr. Karzai recalled the king’s saying. “I want it to be peaceful, I want you to sit down and talk to the Taliban, but you must recognize that all I can do is what Saudi can do.

    “That was a very meaningful word,” Mr. Karzai concluded, “meaning that there were other forces who were probably not willing to allow this to happen.”

    [​IMG]
    A government-run madrasa, or Islamic school, in Lashkar Gah in southern Afghanistan. In 2001, Afghanistan had 1,000 madrasas; today, there are more than 4,000. CreditAdam Ferguson for The New York Times
    Trouble on the Horizon

    Despite those covert efforts, the Saudi kingdom, publicly and officially, has been largely absent in Afghanistan. While paying lip service to the American mission, Saudi Arabia has not built a significant project in its own name in Afghanistan in 15 years.

    Yet official Saudi neglect stands in stark contrast to the wealth of private Saudi funding that has done more than bolster the Taliban and allied militant groups in the region.

    It has also spawned hundreds of universities, madrasas and radical groups that have extended Sunni influence and that Afghans fear are sowing seeds of future turmoil.

    One of those Afghans is Nisar Karimzai, who runs a small research office, the Organization for Research of Peace and Stability.

    During the Soviet occupation, Mr. Karimzai went to school in Pakistan, where he fell in with a Sunni extremist crowd. “They teach that the Shia are not Muslim,” he recalled, referring to Shiites.

    He eventually discarded extremist thinking. But his own experience made him wary when he saw a cousin become involved with an Islamist group called Jamiat Eslah.

    “I recognize the way they are training them,” Mr. Karimzai said. “It was exactly the same way they taught me.

    “Personally I am scared,” Mr. Karimzai added. “In five years we will face a danger from them. One day they will fight and we will have a very big problem.”

    Jamiat Eslah promotes a strict Islamist worldview and describes itself as a self-financed, nonpolitical organization focused on humanitarian and educational work.

    But the size of its operations, with 40 to 50 buildings including offices, a university and a hospital, indicates substantial outside funding, said Mr. Nabil, a former head of Afghan intelligence.

    The group’s bank accounts show no foreign bank transfers, according to an internal government report. Nevertheless, the report concluded that the group is financed by sources in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

    The group is just one of a proliferating number that have sprouted in recent years as Sunni Arabs from the Persian Gulf compete with Shiite Iran for influence here.

    The Iranians, too, have been busy building madrasas, universities and cultural centers for the Shiite population, and even a road to the border with Iran.

    The rivalry underlying the scale of such competing funding, Afghan officials and others warn, spells trouble. In 2001, Afghanistan had just 1,000 madrasas. Today, there are more than 4,000, the majority of them built in the last few years.

    After a summer and fall of violent attacks, including at the American University of Afghanistan and against Shiite gatherings, Afghans worry at the growing sectarian tilt of Sunni extremist groups.

    Hajji Abdul Qahar Abed, who serves as chief of staff to the chief executive of the government, Abdullah Abdullah, warns that after decades of war and dislocation, Afghans are particularly vulnerable.

    “My personal fear is that their associates will lead them somewhere that will hurt the people again,” he said of Jamiat Eslah.

    Another youth movement gaining traction is Hisb ut-Tahrir, a secretive, anti-establishment group that has a wide underground following in Central Asia, according to several government officials.

    Officials and former insiders of the group said they believed it was funded by foreigners including Saudis and other gulf Arabs, as well as donors in Egypt and Europe.

    “They want to reach as many people as they can and bring them into the party and eventually strengthen their ranks and announce a caliphate,” said Massoud Rahimi, a student at Kabul University, who said he declined when a cousin tried to recruit him.

    “It is going to put Afghanistan on the road of conflict,” he said.
    Photo
    [​IMG]
    President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan, left, in 2014 with Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Mr. Ghani’s first official trip after his election. Crown Prince Salman was crowned king upon the death of King Abdullah in 2015. CreditSaudi Press Agency, via Associated Press

    Which Saudi Now?

    Upon his election 2014, Afghanistan’s current president, Ashraf Ghani, chose Saudi Arabia for his first official trip. Then five months later, after a second trip to meet the new Saudi king, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Mr. Ghani pledged Afghan support for the Saudi military coalition for Yemen.

    In return, Mr. Ghani wanted Saudi Arabia’s rulers to stop the flow of funds from rich Saudi sheikhs to the Taliban and encourage the Taliban back into negotiations.

    “The signs are positive,” said Mr. Atmar of the National Security Council. “We have not yet seen concrete movements against this, but we believe that we have a strong commitment.”

    Yet other Afghan officials and local diplomats are deeply skeptical.

    One diplomat in Kabul said tracking the flow of illegal money was virtually impossible. Another, who had served in Saudi Arabia, doubted that Riyadh would change, adding that the vast royal family is split into fiefs often working at odds with each other.

    The scale of the Taliban’s recent offensive also has left many Afghans wary.

    “The level of finance, the level of logistical support in terms of weapons and other materials, and the level of organizational support in terms of leadership of the war they have received is unprecedented,” said Nader Nadery, chief adviser on strategic affairs to the president.

    “It clearly indicates a declared war against Afghanistan,” he added, accusing Pakistan, the stalwart Saudi ally.

    Mr. Abdullah, Afghanistan’s chief executive, recently led a delegation to Saudi Arabia. They went seeking investment, but also asked Saudi leaders to press Pakistan to end its safe haven for terrorists, a request President Karzai also made repeatedly.

    “They said they will do that, and they said they will try in the gulf region to use their influence to mobilize against terrorism,” said Nasrullah Arsalai, director general of the council of ministers secretariat in Afghanistan, who was part of the delegation.

    “Saudi Arabia knows if we fight together, it means the Taliban will not be able to bring money from there,” he said.

    Yet Ruhullah Wakil, a tribal elder who is now a member of the Afghan peace council says he, too, recently beseeched Saudi officials to sponsor the work of the council, which is authorized to pursue negotiations.

    The Saudis were uninterested.

    “They are deaf,” he said. “We asked them to help. We asked them even just to give us some dates to serve to guests.


    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/06/world/asia/saudi-arabia-afghanistan.html?_r=0

     
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  9. Inactive

    Inactive Guest

    Russia may be helping supply Taliban insurgents: U.S. general
    Thu Mar 23, 2017
    By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali | WASHINGTON

    [​IMG]

    Commander of U.S. Forces in Europe, General Curtis Scaparrotti speaks during a news conference in Tallinn, Estonia, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins


    The top U.S. general in Europe said on Thursday that he had seen Russian influence on Afghan Taliban insurgents growing and raised the possibility that Moscow was helping supply the militants, whose reach is expanding in southern Afghanistan.

    "I've seen the influence of Russia of late - increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban," Army General Curtis Scaparrotti, who is also NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.


    He did not elaborate on what kinds of supplies might be headed to the Taliban or how direct Russia's role might be.

    Moscow has been critical of the United States over its handling of the war in Afghanistan, where the Soviet Union fought a bloody and disastrous war of its own in the 1980s.

    But Russian officials have denied they provide aid to the insurgents, who are contesting large swaths of territory and inflicting heavy casualties, and say their limited contacts are aimed at bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

    According to U.S. estimates, government forces control less than 60 percent of Afghanistan, with almost half the country either contested or under control of the insurgents, who are seeking to reimpose Islamic law after their 2001 ouster.

    Underlying the insurgents' growing strength, Taliban fighters have captured the strategic district of Sangin in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, officials said on Thursday.

    The top U.S. commander in the country, General John Nicholson, said last month that Afghanistan was in a "stalemate" and that thousands more international troops would be needed to boost the existing NATO-led training and advisory mission.

    Scaparrotti said the stakes were high. More than 1,800 American troops have been killed in fighting since the war began in 2001.

    "NATO and the United States, in my view, must win in Afghanistan," he said.

    Taliban officials have told Reuters that the group has had significant contacts with Moscow since at least 2007, adding that Russian involvement did not extend beyond "moral and political support."

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-russia-idUSKBN16U234
     
  10. BMD

    BMD Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    https://us.yahoo.com/news/pentagon-...ear-bomb-afghanistan-165659026--politics.html

    US hit IS with largest non-nuclear bomb ever used
    [​IMG] ROBERT BURNS,Associated Press 1 hour 8 minutes ago






    UP NEXT


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    Spicer responds after U.S. drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan



    WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Thursday struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with "the mother of all bombs," the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. military, Pentagon officials said.

    The bomb, known officially as a GBU-43B, or massive ordnance air blast weapon, unleashes 11 tons of explosives. When it was developed in the early 2000s, the Pentagon did a formal review of legal justification for its combat use.

    The U.S. military headquarters in Kabul said in a statement that the bomb was dropped at 7:32 p.m. local time Thursday on a tunnel complex in Achin district of Nangarhar province, where the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State group has been operating. The target was close to the Pakistani border.

    The U.S. estimates 600 to 800 IS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban. Just last week a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier, Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar, 37, of Edgewood, Maryland, was killed in action in Nangarhar.

    In its 2003 review of the legality of using the bomb, the Pentagon concluded that it could not be called an indiscriminate killer under the Law of Armed Conflict.

    "Although the MOAB weapon leaves a large footprint, it is discriminate and requires a deliberate launching toward the target," the review said, using the acronym for the bomb.

    Adam Stump, a Pentagon spokesman, said the bomb was dropped from a U.S. MC-130 special operations transport. He said the bomb had been brought to Afghanistan "some time ago" for potential use.

    Army Gen. John W. Nicholson, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said in a written statement that the strike was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. forces conducting clearing operations in the Achin area "while maximizing the destruction" of IS fighters and facilities. He said IS has been using improvised explosive devices, bunkers and tunnels to strengthen its defenses.

    "This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K," he added, using the U.S. military's acronym for the IS affiliate.

    White House spokesman Sean Spicer said IS fighters had used the tunnels and caves in Achin to maneuver freely.

    "The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did," Spicer said.
     
  11. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate THINKER

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    Taliban kill more than 140 Afghan soldiers at army base
    Group of disguised suicide attackers manning national army vehicles target base in Mazar-i-Sharif

    [​IMG]

    Afghan national army troops arrive near the site of an ongoing attack on an army headquarters in Mazar-i-Sharif in northern Afghanistan on Friday. Photograph: Anil Usyan/Reuters

    Sune Engel Rasmussen in Kabul and Spencer Ackerman in New York
    Saturday 22 April 2017 07.11 EDT


    At least 140 Afghan soldiers have been killed after Taliban suicide attackers disguised as army personnel targeted a national army base in the north of the country.

    It was the deadliest attack in Afghanistan since July 2016, when two Isis suicide bombers killed 80 Hazara protesters.

    The defence ministry said more than 100 Afghan soldiers had been killed or wounded.

    One official in Mazar-i-Sharif, where the attack occurred, said on Saturday that at least 140 soldiers had been killed and many others wounded. Other officials said the toll was likely to be higher. The Afghan government had yet to release exact casualty figures.

    The ministry said 10 Taliban insurgents had carried out the attack.

    According to an informed official in Mazar-i Sharif, who was not authorised to speak to the media, the attackers arrived in two Afghan national army vehicles with licence plates from the western Faryab province.

    Some of the soldiers pretended to be injured, with casts on their legs and drips in their arms, in order to pass through the first checkpoint. At the second checkpoint, guards became suspicious and one suicide bomber blew himself up.

    Once inside the base, at least one other suicide bomber detonated his vest in the dining facility, and another outside the mosque. The rest of the attackers then went on a shooting spree, the official said.

    A bodyguard at the base, who asked not to be named, said: “After prayer we went outside and saw an army vehicle with three to five people in. They came out and opened fire with Kalashnikovs.”

    The US military confirmed that coalition personnel were present at the Mazar-i-Sharif base, but there were no reports of casualties among their number. A US security official said the Afghan death toll was “in the neighbourhood” of 130.

    In a statement, the US military in Afghanistan condemned the attack.

    “The attack on the 209th Corps shows the barbaric nature of the Taliban. They killed soldiers at prayer in a mosque and others in a dining facility,” the US commander John Nicholson said in the statement on Friday.


    A month ago militants disguised as doctors stormed an army hospital in the capital, Kabul, and killed at least 38 wounded soldiers and doctors.


    In April 2016, suicide bombers killed more than 60 people in an attack on an intelligence headquarters in central Kabul. That attack was the deadliest in an urban area since the beginning of the war in 2001.

    Mazar-i-Sharif is one of Afghanistan’s safest cities but home to large military facilities, which also house some foreign troops. In November, the compound of the German consulate was rammed by a truck strapped with explosives, killing six and injuring more than 120, all Afghans.

    Donald Trump said little about Afghanistan during his election campaign but is conducting a policy review of America’s longest war.

    His national security adviser, Lt Gen HR McMaster, an Afghanistan war veteran, visited the country last weekend and met President Ashraf Ghani.

    In January, Nicholson requested thousands more US troops to aid the Afghan security forces, which suffered more than 6,785 deaths and more than 10,000 injured in 2016.

    The commander called the high levels of casualties a “major concern” and attributed them to poor leadership and an overreliance on static checkpoints.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2...rs-killed-taliban-suicide-attackers-army-base

    This is another front being opened by Russia (covertly) to check Donald Trump's claim of 'America First'. Sensing a 'vacuum' as US seemingly withdraws, Russia is attempting to secure it's interests in the region. This has more to do with the Russian campaign in Syria to prop up the Assad Regime as also to protect it's 'underbelly' in the Caucasus region. An unstable region without robust US support will be an industry for 'ungoverned' militants high on Islamic ideology. By supporting Pakistani attempts at control of Afghanistan with Taliban, it is trying to keep the same under control with minimal investments on it's side.


    The ramifications for India in this game are tremendous. India can not afford either a Talibani control of Afghanistan, nor an unstable Afghanistan.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2017
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  12. nair

    nair Die hard Romeo IDF NewBie

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    This doesn't look good for us.... Good news for Pakistan.....
     
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  13. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate THINKER

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    On the contrary, US will be hard pressed not to allow Afghanistan to become another foreign policy disaster. Iran is next after North Korea, we will see Pakistan in trouble here.
     
  14. SrNair

    SrNair Captain FULL MEMBER

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    It seems Afghanistan is a losing its stability.

    Problem is this ANA ,that have full of high tech equipments,corrupt officers and illtrained military .
    Mean while Taliban have a highly motivated yet battle hardened militants .

    We should look for a Plan B .
    Develop those NA areas ,made them like a Kurdistan .Once they can regains that control they will help this ANA to push this Taliban.

    This attack is a spectacular example of illtraining and corruption and non existent of SOP.
    Taliban knows the operation of Afghan so called Special Forces ..

    10 Taliban militants killed 140 Afghan Army men.Are you kidding me?
    What kind of training is this ?
    There is a report that those dumbs from Afghan Special Forces killed their friends instead of foes .
    So much for Special .
    @Hellfire .
    I think Americans trained them
     
  15. Hellfire

    Hellfire Devil's Advocate THINKER

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    It was a classical raid. Please remember that the Taliban is also of local population only. So they have worn ANA uniform and gained access. It can happen anywhere. And striking them at prayer time was the coup de grace. Nothing that is surprising as unit routine is general information for anyone around the unit in a city/town.
     
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