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Afghanistan: Updates & Discussions

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by @speaks, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. Ahmad

    Ahmad 2nd Lieutant FULL MEMBER

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    could you please give me more details on this? and why is it bad if they halted 60% of the flights?
     
  2. Sher Malang

    Sher Malang Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    It is bad because it makes a very bad impression on other international investors in Afghanistan the way they are dealing is unprofessional and causes lack of trust and reliability in account to international investors. I say don't ink it if there is a problem otherwise it can also create headache for some other Afghan investors outside Afghanistan.
     
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  3. Sher Malang

    Sher Malang Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Afghanistan Seeks Investors for ‘World-Class’ Mineral Resources


    Afghanistan’s “world-class mineral resources,†including rare-earth elements, gold, iron and copper, has the potential to transform the country’s economy, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
    Afghanistan’s ambassador to the U.S., Eklil Hakimi, said today the new survey data may help stimulate foreign investment and improve the country’s security.
    “Afghanistan has modern hydrocarbon laws and mining laws, favorable to investors,†Hakimi said in an e-mail. “I believe that the key to peace in Afghanistan lies in our mineral resources because lasting security and stability is dependent on the amount of economic opportunity available to Afghans.â€
    The USGS used new and existing data to create detailed digital information packages of each mining area. The information will be distributed by the Afghan ministry of mines to companies interested in bidding for the mineral rights. The information “may make bidding and operating in these areas easier†and reduce investment risk, the report said.
    “The mineral resources in Afghanistan have the potential to completely transform the nation’s economy,†Regina Dubey, acting director of a U.S. Defense Department task force that funded the study, said in a news release yesterday.
    Development of those resources may help the Obama administration and allies build Afghanistan’s economy, an initiative the U.S. says is essential to stabilizing the country and the region before U.S. forces withdraw in 2014. Development of the resources is difficult and dangerous while the Taliban and its allies are seeking to gain control of territory.


    Economic Future


    “We all recognize that Afghanistan’s political future is linked to its economic future, and, in fact, to the future of the entire region,†Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sept. 22.
    Clinton made her comments at a meeting with 30 of her international counterparts on a “New Silk Road†initiative during the United Nations General Assembly last week. The initiative aims to encourage investment and create new economic and transit connections within the region. The group will meet in Istanbul, Bonn and Chicago in the coming months to work out details.
    Rare-earth-based magnets and materials are used in Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM)’s BlackBerrys, Toyota Motor Corp. (7203)’s Prius cars, and military radar. China, a major producer of rare-earth minerals, has recently scaled back production.
    For each “area of interest,†the USGS has listed the main and minor commodities as well as “possible commodities.†All the Areas of Interest were selected because they “could potentially support mineral production in the near future,†the report said.
    The report offered no evaluation of the security situation in the selected areas.

    Source: Afghanistan Seeks Investors for

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
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  4. vikas jat

    vikas jat Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    but until there is considerable threat from terrorists ...its hard to go for investment n minning to harness these natural resources ......
     
  5. Sher Malang

    Sher Malang Lieutenant FULL MEMBER

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    Afghans rock at first music festival in three decades


    [​IMG]

    By Martin Petty
    KABUL | Sat Oct 1, 2011 2:04pm EDT
    (Reuters) - Live rock returned to Afghanistan after three long decades on Saturday as young men and women cheered and leapt into the air to the sound of heavy bass beats and punk rock.

    Bands from Australia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan served up a six-hour musical feast of blues, indie, electronica and death metal to hundreds of fans, many of whom had never seen live music before.

    Sound Central was something new in a deeply conservative Muslim country where music was banned under the austere Taliban regime. Even now music shops are attacked in some cities and musicians taunted for their clothes or hair.

    The festival retained a distinctly Afghan accent, with alcohol banned, kebabs the only snacks and a respect for strong religious values amid the rock and roll.

    Bands left the stage and the microphones were turned off twice in the late afternoon to allow the call to prayer to sound out uninterrupted from nearby mosques.

    "Where I live, there's nothing like this. I heard about it so I had to come," said Ahmad Shah, dressed in a traditional white shalwar kameez and waistcoat, who traveled from Kandahar, a southern city roiled by insurgent violence.

    "I came to escape the cancer of the Taliban and this makes a refreshing change." Violence is at its worst in Afghanistan since U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in 2001.

    Young Afghans lunged toward the stage, jumping and thrusting their arms into the air to the sound of local band White Page, and the handful of security guards were overwhelmed.

    The crowd briefly parted when one man in jeans and a tight t-shirt took to the floor for an impromptu burst of back flips and break-dancing.

    The festival was held under tight security in a corner of picturesque Babur Gardens, a normally tranquil park surrounding the centuries-old tomb of Babur, the first Mughal emperor.

    The date and venue was kept a closely guarded secret until the last moment to ward off the chance of an insurgent attack.

    Despite the secrecy, the concert attracted more than 450 paid-up revelers and scores more trickled in from street markets outside. A few elderly men with turbans and long beards appeared taken aback, but not entirely disapproving.

    CHANGE THE WORLD

    The crowd's enthusiasm persuaded even security staff and police to join in, nodding and moving their legs in time with the beat.

    Loud cheers erupted when singer Sabrina Ablyaskina of Uzbek band Tears of the Sun jumped, gyrated and screamed into the microphone: "Kabul, my new friends -- let's rock!"

    Tears of the Sun, now recording their sixth album, said they were surprised by the event's success.

    "We didn't expect this crowd -- it's amazing, such energy," Ablyaskina told Reuters. "We love Kabul, more and more every day and we'll be coming back again, of course."

    Guitarist Nikita Makapenko said: "Rock and roll will change the world, and we hope it will change Afghanistan too. This is historic, and it's just the beginning."

    Sound Central was the brainchild of Travis Beard, an Australian photojournalist who joined a band when he moved to Kabul and was inspired by the talent and dedication of local musicians.

    In the run-up to the festival, he held workshops to nurture the local talent showcased by Sound Central, and underground concerts to build the buzz and help bands rehearse.

    The festival seemed to have served his goal of not just providing a day's entertainment, but kindling a love for modern music among young Afghans.

    "We heard about the music festival from the radio, and when my friend asked whether we should go, I said 'Why not?'," said Lauria, a 19-year-old university student dressed in a bright headscarf, jeans and strappy sandals.

    "This is great. I hope we can see more of it in Kabul," she said.

    Source: Afghans rock at first music festival in three decades | Reuters
     
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  6. vikas jat

    vikas jat Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    good to see this ......life is to live ... enjoy .......
     
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  7. MAFIAN GOD

    MAFIAN GOD Captain SENIOR MEMBER

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    Finally Afghanistan is rising like a Phoenix bird.
     
  8. Hembo

    Hembo OLD MOD STAR MEMBER

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    Suicide attack in Afghan city of Kandahar kills five

    At least five people have died and some 16 others hurt in a suicide attack in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

    The attacker, who was on a motorcycle, detonated explosives strapped to his body at a checkpoint in the city's Chawnay area, the BBC was told.

    Police had set up checkpoints across Kandahar amid intelligence reports of a possible attack by insurgents, the BBC's Bilal Sarwary reports from Kabul.

    The attack shatters Kandahar's relative peace of the past few months.

    "The attacker was on a motorbike in a crowded bazaar in Kandahar city near the border police mobile checkpoint," Kandahar police chief Abdul Razip told the AFP news agency.

    "When police stopped him he detonated his explosives, killing five, including four children and one police," he said.

    Observers say the attack highlights the fragile security situation in Kandahar, which is the birthplace of Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

    USA seem to be on top of things in Afghanistan - i now see why they are ready to move out!
    R.I.P. to the victims.
     
  9. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Panetta's visit to Afghan base marred by security breach

    US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta's visit to Afghanistan was marred by a serious security breach Wednesday when a stolen vehicle was driven onto a runway ramp as the Pentagon chief's plane was landing at a NATO base.

    US officials insisted there was no sign the incident at Camp Bastion in the country's south was an attempted attack on Panetta but the carjacking raised questions over security at the fortified base and added to a crisis atmosphere in the NATO-led war effort.

    Panetta travelled to Afghanistan just days after a US soldier shot dead 16 villagers -- most of them women and children -- in southern Kandahar province in the worst single such incident since the 2001 US-led invasion.

    The suspect in the massacre, a US Army sergeant who had served three tours in Iraq, had been flown out of Afghanistan, Pentagon officials said Wednesday, without saying where he was taken.

    The move indicated the suspect would, if charged, be tried in a US military court outside of the war-torn country, despite demands by Afghan political leaders for a public trial in Afghanistan.

    The transfer of the shooting suspect could complicate already difficult talks with Kabul on a possible US troop presence after 2014, as President Hamid Karzai's government has so far refused to grant legal immunity to American troops -- the same issue that scuppered a US strategic pact with Iraq.

    In the first leg of a two-day visit to Afghanistan, Panetta said recent "troubling" events should not force a change in NATO's war strategy.

    Even as Panetta touted progress on the battlefield, officials reported a hijacked vehicle had made it onto a runway ramp where the Pentagon chief's plane was due to park at Camp Bastion in Helmand province.

    At about the same time Panetta's aircraft was landing at 11:00 am (0630 GMT), an Afghan civilian hijacked a pick-up truck from a soldier in the coalition force.

    He drove the vehicle at high speed before he crashed into a ditch and emerged in flames, Panetta's spokesman George Little told reporters in Kabul.

    "Security personnel responded and for reasons that are totally unknown to us at this time, our personnel discovered he was ablaze," Little said.

    The flames were extinguished and the Afghan was being treated for serious burn injuries, he said.

    Despite Sunday's shooting spree and a series of violent incidents, including unrest over the burning of Korans at a US base last month, President Barack Obama said there were no plans for "sudden" changes to a scheduled timetable for troop withdrawal.

    Obama said the United States would stick with the timing agreed with NATO partners, in which Afghan forces take over security for the whole country by the end of 2014.

    "I don't anticipate at this stage that we're going to be making any sudden additional changes to the plan that we currently have," Obama told a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

    Details of the incident at the Camp Bastion airfield remain unclear.

    Officials initially said a member of the NATO-led force was struck and injured by the truck. But a military spokesman in Washington, Captain John Kirby, later said the Afghan wounded the soldier when he hijacked the vehicle. The pick-up truck was driven at high speed "across the ramp near where (Panetta) was to pull up" at the airfield, Kirby told reporters.

    No explosives or weapons were found on the Afghan or in the vehicle, he said.

    "There is no evidence right now that the driver had any idea who was on that aircraft," Kirby said.

    Reporters travelling with Panetta witnessed nothing out of the ordinary during the landing at the base. The secretary went ahead with his scheduled meetings with local Afghan leaders and addressed NATO and Afghan troops at Camp Leatherneck, which adjoins Britain's Camp Bastion.

    Panetta then flew to Kabul where he is due to meet Karzai on Thursday.

    US officials with Panetta were aware of the incident soon afterwards but waited 10 hours to tell reporters.

    Taliban break contacts, Karzai orders US out of villages

    The Taliban broke off contacts over peace talks with Washington on Thursday and the Afghan president demanded US troops leave village outposts, just days after an American soldier massacred 16 villagers.

    Hamid Karzai also called for a transition of the nation's security from NATO control to the Afghan government in 2013 rather than the previous deadline of 2014, after meeting visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta.

    That plan had been floated by Panetta ahead of a NATO meeting in Brussels last month, but the US-led coalition insists that it will only withdraw its combat troops by the end of 2014.

    The announcements from the Islamist militia fighting US troops for 10 years and by Karzai, Washington's key ally in Kabul, came hard on the heels of the shooting spree by a US soldier, who has been detained and flown out of the country.

    The fallout overshadowed Panetta's two-day visit to Afghanistan, which was planned ahead of the shooting and was aimed at calming relations already hurt by last month's burning of Korans at a US base.

    The Taliban made no mention of the killings as it announced the suspension of contacts with US officials in Qatar over a prisoner swap -- talks that had built up hopes of a political solution before US troops leave.

    "It was due to their alternating and ever-changing position that the Islamic Emirate was compelled to suspend all dialogue with the Americans," the Taliban said on their website.

    US officials declined to comment on why the Taliban had suspended contacts.

    The rapid developments came after what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called "a difficult and complex few weeks in Afghanistan".

    "We're ready to take over all security responsibilities now," Karzai's spokesman Aimal Faizi quoted the president as telling Panetta. "We'd prefer that the process be completed in 2013, not 2014."

    Karzai then told Panetta that US-led international forces should "be withdrawn from villages and relocated in their bases", his office said in a statement, without specifying a timeline.

    It was not immediately clear how many American bases may be affected by Karzai's demand, as the United States previously disbanded a number of outposts in a bid to concentrate on securing major towns from Taliban influence.

    US defence officials sought to play down Karzai's calls on the outposts and said Kabul had not requested any change in an agreed timetable for a gradual troop drawdown.

    A US official accompanying Panetta, who arrived in Abu Dhabi after his visit to Afghanistan, told reporters Kabul had agreed with NATO on a schedule for security transition through 2014 and that had not changed.

    Panetta's spokesman George Little said the Pentagon chief and Karzai had a "very positive" meeting and that the "issue of villages" came up but in accordance with previously agreed plans.

    NATO meanwhile vowed to stick to its plan to finish handing Afghans control of security nationwide by the end of 2014.

    Panetta earlier told reporters after his Karzai talks that he was "confident" both sides could work out a treaty allowing a US military presence in the country beyond 2014.

    The defence chief said he was optimistic that both sides would reach an agreement on controversial night raids -- a major issue blocking the treaty -- ahead of a NATO summit in Chicago in May.

    Karzai objects to the raids on the grounds that they violate the sanctity of Afghan families in their own homes and that they are responsible for many civilian deaths -- a claim the US disputes.

    The treaty being negotiated is expected to cover Afghan-US relations beyond 2014, with the US keen to maintain a foothold in a country neighbouring Iran and to help prevent it from once again becoming a haven for Al-Qaeda.

    Analysts fear Sunday's shootings could complicate talks on a possible long-term US troop presence, as the government has so far refused to grant them legal immunity -- the same issue that scuppered a US strategic pact with Iraq.

    Panetta said he promised Karzai that the gunman would be brought to justice and that the Pentagon would look at what circumstances may have caused the incident -- including the possible effect of combat stress.

    But his visit was also overshadowed by an unprecedented security breach during his arrival in Afghanistan Wednesday when an Afghan interpreter tried to ram a truck into US Marines waiting to greet the Pentagon chief at Camp Bastion.

    Panetta downplayed the attack, telling reporters: "I have absolutely no reason to believe that this was directed at me."

    But the incident is likely to heighten concerns about a surge in attacks on Western troops carried out by the Afghan allies they are training to take over responsibility for security.
     
  10. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    US says attack at Afghan base targeted top general

    The US military said Friday that an attack at a NATO base in Afghanistan this week targeted a top American commander, just as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta flew in for a visit.

    After having initially downplayed the incident, officials threw new light on Wednesday's attack at British-run Camp Bastion in Helmand province that showed it was much more serious than initial accounts suggested.

    The Afghan attacker, an interpreter who worked at the base, was only minutes away from striking the area where Panetta's aircraft was due to park, officials said.

    US Major General Mark Gurganus, the new head of the NATO-led force's southwest regional command, was part of a VIP welcoming party on the tarmac when a hijacked vehicle hurtled towards them at high speed, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters travelling with Panetta.

    British General Stuart Skeates, deputy commander of the region, also was in the greeting committee, officials said.

    "The vehicle was headed in their direction," said a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The generals and others waiting to greet Panetta then got out of the way while the hijacked vehicle ended up in a ditch near a runway ramp.

    The Afghan driver emerged from the car engulfed in flames before he was apprehended, later dying of severe burns early the next day at about 1:30 am local time, according to the official.

    The attack occurred at about the same time the Pentagon chief's aircraft was landing shortly after 11:00 am, and the C-17 military transport plane was diverted to a different parking space after learning of the incident.

    Security officers "found a gas can and a lighter" in the hijacked vehicle but no components for a homemade bomb, the defense official said.

    The new details indicated a possible suicide attack but the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) judged that it was unclear if the Afghan had intentionally set himself on fire, the official said.

    "It remains ISAF's view that it is unlikely that the individual knew that the secretary was on the plane," the official said.

    If the attacker's hijacked vehicle had arrived only minutes later where the welcoming party stood, Panetta might have been in harm's way. But the defense official said that scenario was "hypothetical."

    It took 10 hours for the Pentagon to confirm the attack on Wednesday and officials have dribbled out confusing details of the attempted airport attack since, insisting initially there was no link to Panetta's arrival but now confirming that the target was indeed the regional US commander.

    The incident is sure to fuel concerns about a surge in attacks on Western troops carried out by Afghans being trained to take over security by the end of 2014.

    The Afghan assailant worked as an interpreter at Camp Bastion, which adjoins the US base Camp Leatherneck, home to a large contingent of American Marines.

    Officials also disclosed that three Afghan nationals, including the attacker's brother and father, had been taken into custody and questioned. The brother and father also worked as interpreters for NATO forces at the military complex.

    The hijacked vehicle, which belonged to a British soldier, was not a pickup truck as initial accounts stated but a four-wheel drive Toyota Hi-Lux, an official said.

    A British soldier in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) who was run over during the hijacking was in "stable" condition, he added.

    Panetta sought to downplay the incident at a news conference on Thursday in Kabul, after he held talks with President Hamid Karzai billed as a chance to defuse outrage over a massacre of civilians by a rogue US soldier.

    "I have absolutely no reason to believe that this was directed at me," he said of the attack, but added: "This is a war area" and "we're going to get these kind of incidents".

    Just hours after the attack on the airfield, Garganus, a two-star general, made no mention of the incident when he briefed reporters.

    "You can't get a whole lot safer than right here, when you're surrounded by everybody else on the base," he said, insisting there had been no violent reaction since the US soldier's shooting rampage in nearby Kandahar.
     
  11. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Russia says US must fulfill UN mandate in Afghanistan


    US-led NATO troops must not withdraw from Afghanistan until local forces are able to ensure security for the country, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday.

    Lavrov told local television channel Tolo news it was a point of "international law" that the Afghan government must "possess the capabilities to maintain law and order" before international forces leave.

    "The presence of the international stabilisation force in Afghanistan has been mandated by the UN Security Council. The mandate is clear. They must fulfill this mandate before they leave," he said.

    After more than 10 years of war there are still about 130,000 troops fighting with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in support of the Afghan government against an ongoing Taliban insurgency.

    Foreign combat troops are due to leave by the end of 2014 and increasing efforts have been made to train up the Afghan army and police to take responsibility for the country's security.

    Meanwhile, Washington is negotiating a strategic partnership agreement with Kabul, and looking at the issue of permanent US bases in Afghanistan post-2014.

    Lavrov said it was "strange" to insist on the withdrawal of troops while at the same time "Washington is discussing with Afghanistan very purposefully about establishing four or five military bases for the post 2014 period".

    "We want to understand what the reason is for it and why this is needed. We don't think it would be helpful for the stability in the region," he said.
     
  12. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Afghanistan: Another straw on the back


    U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales is expected to be formally charged this week in connection with the deaths of 16 Afghan civilians.

    The laying of charges and the legal proceedings that follow, however, won't be the beginning of putting the sad and horrendous incident to rest. Afghanistan's political leadership, which is being propped up by U.S. and NATO forces, is furious that Bale was flown out of the country and will face trial in the United States rather than in Afghanistan.

    Afghan President Hamid Karzai now demands U.S. and NATO troop withdraw from villages -- a move that if precipitously taken would undermine, if not destroy, allied counter-terrorism strategy and tactics by allowing the Taliban easy access to those it wants to intimidate and control.

    Karzai, who says he is at the "end of the rope" over incidents involving coalition troops, said after the village killings this month he wants his national forces to take control of security in the country next year rather than at the end of 2014 as the administration of U.S. President Barak Obama had planned.

    Karzai is a mercurial leader, trying to govern a country where government presence is scant, where regional warlords and chieftains have been the real powers for decades.

    His public statements often bite the hands of those who feed him -- the United States, NATO, the international aid community -- and may have made the comments and demands merely to play to domestic sentiment.

    Nonetheless, they and recent incidents in Afghanistan are heightening U.S. public attention on the war and whether it should continue.

    Widely supported when it commenced to rid Afghanistan of al-Qaida camps and its Taliban government protectors, opinion in favor of continued U.S. and allied presence there is in negative territory. A USA Today/Gallup Poll of 1,006 adults taken March 13, indicate half of those asked want U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan speeded up; 24 percent say they want to stick to the 2014 timetable; and 21 percent to stay as long as necessary to bring stability to the country.

    A Pew poll of March 7-11 reports that 57 percent of those questioned (1,503 adults) want U.S. troops removed as soon as possible as opposed to 35 percent who say they want troops to stay until stabilization.

    In an ABC/Washington Post poll of 1,003 people taken March 7-10, 54 percent of respondents said they wanted troops withdrawn now. Sixty percent also said the war in Afghanistan isn't worth fighting.

    As more incidents involving NATO troops and Afghan forces and civilians occur -- and war being war, they will -- it's not difficult to predict the direction of public opinion in months ahead.

    Bale, 38, is reportedly a good soldier and stable family man, liked and respected by colleagues and neighbors alike. He was on his fourth combat deployment in 10 years when he allegedly committed murder -- going house to house, shooting people.

    Speculation as to motivations -- if true -- are flying fast and furious; post-traumatic stress disorder; previous traumatic brain injury; family problems; seeing a fellow soldier lose his leg to a bomb just hours before.

    Maybe it was one or two of the above. Maybe all -- added in with the callousness of war and the mind-numbing, spirit-killing daily life on a far-flung outpost, the daily maiming and death caused by improvised-explosive devices and snipers and the villagers the troops are protecting yet who, if not engaged in terrorism themselves, often keep quiet about those who do.

    It will all come out in Bale's trial. In the meantime, anger is ramped up among Afghans, who are still seething over the accidental burning of Korans by U.S. troops. That incident sparked mass street protests and the killing of U.S. troops, including shootings by their Afghan counterparts. U.S. and NATO soldiers training Afghan forces were withdrawn for their own safety amid fears of further "green-on-blue" attacks.

    The Taliban thrives in this kind of atmosphere. The vast majority of Afghans live in isolated, rural villages where a "foreigner" is a person from another district; where illiteracy is the rule and where "news," as well as fact, is word of mouth and easily manipulated and exploited.

    Whatever the judgment on Bale and his punishment if found guilty of whatever charges are filed, a central question remains. Wither the U.S-NATO relationship with Afghanistan? And while mindful of the blood and treasure expended to first, rid the country of al-Qaida and topple the Taliban, and second, build a nation, is the Afghan adventure still worth it?
     
  13. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    West to pay Afghan military $4 bn a year: Karzai

    The West will subsidise Afghan security forces by more than $4 billion a year after US-led troops leave in 2014, President Hamid Karzai said Thursday, implicitly accepting a cut in the planned size of his military.

    Western officials told AFP that no final agreements had been reached on funding or on the size of Afghanistan's security forces after combat troops in NATO's US-led International Security Assistance Force withdraw.

    But Karzai told a graduation ceremony at a military academy in Kabul: "It's set that post 2014, for the next 10 years until 2024, the international community, with the US in the lead and followed by Europe and other countries, will pay Afghanistan security forces $4.1 billion annually."

    It would cover both the army and "other armed forces", he said, adding: "We agree and thank them."

    Karzai's Western allies in the war against Taliban insurgents want to avoid the country descending into civil war after they leave.

    But while NATO officials have long projected future Afghan forces at 352,000 men, the United States recently circulated a proposal for a total strength of 230,000, and Western officials say the $4.1 billion cost is based on that figure.

    It is a fraction of current Western spending on the war. The 10-year conflict has cost the United States, alone, more than $444 billion.

    But Afghan defence officials have expressed concerns over whether security forces 230,000 strong would be adequate.

    The defence minister, General Abdul Rahim Wardak, reportedly warned that if it was not based on "realities on the ground" it could be a "disaster", "putting at risk all that we have accomplished together with so much sacrifice in blood and treasure".

    Following Karzai's speech, a Western official stressed that the numbers were part of a model being discussed in the run-up to the NATO summit in Chicago in May, nothing had been decided and "everything is conditions based".

    "This is part of an ongoing discussion between coalition planners and our Afghan allies and will continue in Chicago and beyond," he said, adding that under the concept Kabul would contribute $500 million to the $4.1 billion.

    "The number of Afghan forces will basically come to a peak later this year" and should then reduce, he said.

    "In the best of all worlds in the out years the insurgency will go down and as the insurgency goes down then fewer Afghan forces will be needed."

    But a diplomat from another coalition country said the cut in numbers could "create a monster", alleging that the US plan was driven by cost-cutting considerations rather than military effectiveness.

    Even so, some coalition members were as yet unwilling to pay their projected share of the money, he added.

    Kanechka Sorkhabi, a researcher at the Franco-Afghan Research Initiative for Central Asia, said the proposal was worrying as it was part of a reduction in aid at all levels, "without thinking about a way out of the crisis".

    He added: "It's not always quantity that counts but also quality.

    "In terms of operational capacity, the Afghan forces are experienced given the recent past. They know how to fight and take positions. But they are not a conventional army. You don't build up a conventional army in five to six years."

    Questions remain over the funding deal, said Karzai, with Kabul wanting to be able to spend the money on requirements other than salaries, such as weapons purchases.

    "Afghanistan will be able to pay the salaries itself one day... but Afghanistan needs radar, air defence systems, warplanes, transport planes, helicopters and other equipment that improves the defence system," he said.

    "If NATO or America will not give us planes, will they prevent us using this money to buy planes for our air force from other countries? If we were to buy planes from India or Russia or Iran or Pakistan or Ukraine, will our (forces') salaries still be paid from the NATO money?"

    Asked about such putative purchases, another Western official said that NATO was "not thinking along those lines at all. We're heading for a deadlock."

    Kabul and Washington have a frequently strained relationship, and are currently negotiating a long-term strategic partnership agreement to establish their relationship after 2014.

    They are also in continuing talks over a memorandum of understanding on special operations, a US embassy spokesman said.

    Karzai has long objected to night raids, which are unpopular among ordinary Afghans but which coalition military commanders argue are among their most effective tactics against the Taliban.
     
  14. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Afghan security forces kill three ISAF soldiers

    Two British and one American soldier were killed by Afghan security personnel Monday in two separate shootings, officials said, bringing the number of such deaths to 16 this year.

    An Afghan soldier said to be an officer shot dead the Britons in the southern province of Helmand, while the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said an "alleged member" of the police killed a trooper in eastern Afghanistan.

    A US military official in Washington confirmed the dead soldier was American.

    More than one in six of the 91 foreign soldiers to have died in the country in 2012 has been killed in so-called "green-on-blue" attacks by Afghan security personnel, significantly raising tensions between NATO forces and their local colleagues.

    "It appears that a member of the Afghan national army opened fire at the entrance gate to the British headquarters in Lashkar Gah city, killing the two British service personnel," said Britain's Defence Secretary Philip Hammond.

    The attacker was shot dead by coalition forces and officials said another British soldier was severely wounded.

    Lashkar Gah is the main town in Helmand, a Taliban stronghold, but was among the first places where security responsibility was handed from ISAF to Afghan forces as part of a gradual transition process.

    Provincial police chief Abdul Nabi Elham said the gunman was a lieutenant named Gul Nazar from Jalalabad.

    "As soon as the NATO soldiers opened the gate for him and his team in their centre, this soldier opened fire at them and killed them," he said.

    "We don't know the motive behind this attack and have not found a link to the Taliban. We are still investigating."

    A spokesman for the militants contacted by AFP described the gunman as being "in contact" with them, although he did not claim the attack as being mounted by the Taliban.

    "Today an army officer who was in contact with us killed three NATO soldiers in Helmand," said Qari Yousif Ahmadi by telephone from an undisclosed location.

    The Taliban regularly exaggerate their claims.

    Exact details of the incident remained unclear, with accounts differing on whether an argument took place before the shooting started, and whether another Afghan soldier was killed.

    The shooting comes less than three weeks after six British soldiers were killed when a huge explosion ripped through their armoured vehicle near Lashkar Gah.

    Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for that attack, which pushed the number of British dead in Afghanistan over the 400 mark.

    ISAF said in a statement that in the second incident its service member was "shot by an alleged member of the Afghan local police as the security force approached an ALP checkpoint".

    It did not state the victim's nationality, in line with policy.

    The shooting happened in Paktika province, where the governor's spokesman said two policemen were involved, both of whom were wounded when NATO forces returned fire and arrested.

    Monday's deaths brought the number of ISAF service members killed by Afghan security personnel this year to 16.

    The previous victims of green-on-blue attacks were six Americans, four French army trainers, an Albanian and two ISAF personnel whose nationality has not been disclosed.

    The US-led NATO force is training Afghanistan's own units to take over national security by the end of 2014, allowing foreign combat troops to withdraw after a costly and lengthy war against the Taliban insurgency.

    But a recent report commissioned by the US military found deep distrust and suspicion between Afghan and American troops, describing green-on-blue shootings as a "systemic" problem and calling into question NATO's plans.

    Such killings, often driven by resentment, "are provoking a crisis of confidence and trust among Westerners" training Afghan national security forces, the 2011 document said.

    It found Afghan soldiers saw their US comrades as rude, disrespectful and reckless with gunfire when civilians were nearby, while for their part American troops described Afghan troops as traitorous, lazy, drug-addled and corrupt.

    The frequency of green-on-blue incidents this year reached a peak after copies of the Koran were burned at an incinerator pit at the US-run Bagram airbase, leading US President Barack Obama to apologise for what he described as an error.

    Around 40 people were killed in days of violent demonstrations as protesters targeted Western bases.

    At one point NATO withdrew all its advisers from Afghan government ministries after two US officers were killed inside the interior ministry, apparently by an Afghan colleague. Some, but not all, have since returned.

    On March 11, a massacre of 17 Afghan civilians, including nine children and four women, blamed on a lone American soldier brought relations between Kabul and Washington to a further low.

    Britain is the second biggest contributor of troops to Afghanistan after the United States with 9,500 soldiers, but it is set to pull out all combat forces by the end of 2014 in line with other NATO nations.
     
  15. SajeevJino

    SajeevJino Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Afghanistan denies Kabul suicide plot reports

    The Afghan general in charge of security at the ministry of defence in Kabul on Wednesday flatly denied reports by local and foreign media that a huge suicide attack had been foiled at the compound.

    General Omar Zadran, commander of the ministry of defence support and security brigade, blamed foreign spy services -- among them Pakistan and Iran -- trying to destabilise Afghanistan for the confusion.

    Reports on the BBC, citing Afghan intelligence sources, said that first 11, then a total of 18 people, many of them Afghan soldiers, had been arrested at the ministry compound, and suicide vests and explosives recovered near the car park.

    It was suggested that as many as 1,100 employees could have been targeted.

    The BBC report was followed up by private Afghan television station TV1 and The New York Times, which quoted anonymous Afghan and Western sources and said a lockdown had been imposed at the ministry.

    One Afghan intelligence source told AFP that 11 people had been arrested, including an unspecified number of soldiers, and suicide vests and explosives found, although further details were limited.

    But Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said: "There is no truth in this at all. It's absolutely not true."

    Zadran told AFP he had called a drill with a scenario of an attempt to poison the ministry's thousands of employees, and suicide attackers targeting the compound kitchens.

    "We issued an alarm to check how quick our units reacted. That's probably the reason the journalists got it wrong," he said.

    He accused regional intelligence services' agents of planting the initial reports that a suicide attack had been prevented.

    "This is mainly an intelligence war, and this war is escalating," he said. "These guys are here, there and everywhere trying to do everything to destroy the image of prominent people inside the government."

    Brigadier-General Dawlat Waziri, one of the ministry's spokesmen, also blamed foreign agencies, adding: "I can assure you there was no incident of any kind.

    He insisted that the defence ministry's relationship with Afghan intelligence and other security services was good.

    "I don't believe such propaganda or lies could spread to media outlets from Afghan security entities," he said, but added: "It could be the work of an individual making such claims."

    Officials of the Kabul government often blame Afghanistan's neighbours for the country's woes.

    A Western security source in Kabul -- who said he had no knowledge of the reported plot -- suggested the rumours could be the result of different arms of the Afghan security services manoeuvring against each other.

    A suicide attack involving 11 assailants would have been one of the biggest in the decade-long conflict in Afghanistan, where US-led NATO troops and Afghan security forces are battling to reverse a Taliban insurgency.

    The speed with which the claims circulated illustrates the febrile atmosphere in the Afghan capital in the wake of a series of killings by members of the Afghan security forces.

    The reports first surfaced a day after two British and one American soldier were shot dead by Afghan security personnel in two separate incidents.

    Such attacks, known as "green on blue", have killed 17 NATO soldiers so far this year, more than one in six of their fatalities in 2012.

    The deaths have ramped up tensions and threaten to undermine the West's plan to train Afghans to take over security by the end of 2014, allowing NATO combat troops to withdraw after a long and costly war against the Taliban.

    The US military has said that most of the attacks are not the result of Taliban infiltration. Assailants are "generally self-radicalised", according to General John Allen, the US commander in Afghanistan.
     

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