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Afghanistan: Updates & Discussions

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

  1. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    U.S. President Barack Obama has never written and is not planning to address any letter to the Afghan people, recognizing “mistakes” made during the war in Afghanistan.

    This was announced on Tuesday to journalists of the U.S. broadcaster CNN by Obama's assistant on national security, Susan Rice. Earlier, media reported that Obama has agreed to write such a letter and that it will be published together with the text of the agreement on security cooperation between Washington and Kabul.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department said that Washington and Kabul have not completed the final draft of the cooperation agreement. Agreement on cooperation in the field of security is intended to outline the legal framework for the future U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after the year 2014, terms of their operations, training and equipping of local security forces. Withdrawal of major combat units of the U.S. and NATO in Afghanistan is scheduled for the end of 2014.
     
  2. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    A senior Russian diplomat has voiced concerns over US plans to retain nine military bases in Afghanistan after their planned withdrawal from the country.

    Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, told RIA Novosti in an interview Wednesday that the bases would “exert a serious influence on the whole vast Asian region and become a powerful foothold for any large-scale military operation.”

    Kabulov said Russia has many questions about the purpose of the bases.

    The United States earlier said they would be used to train top brass of Afghanistan’s Defense Ministry and General Staff, which is estimated to count up to 400 people.

    “Aren’t [400 people] too few for nine military bases?” Kabulov said. “Besides, what is the purpose of hiding the infrastructure of the Camp Shorabak training camp underground, which is moreover equipped with a three-kilometer runway?”

    Kabulov said that while he accepted that Afghanistan was free to sign military agreements with any state, he hoped that Kabul’s authorization of foreign military bases would not result in security threats to third states, including Russia.

    The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, which is currently estimated to comprise 100,000 servicemen, is to be largely pulled out of the country by the end of 2014.
     
  3. Gessler

    Gessler Mod Staff Member MODERATOR

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    These are all the building blocks of the Day of Reckoning that will dawn upon Pakistan & it's WMDs within next
    4-5 years as I have already been saying for quite some time.

    The US, India, UK, & France will be directly involved in destroying Pakistani WMD arsenals through a sustained
    air campaign of precision bombing, along with ground special forces operations geared to destroy the more
    protected arsenals & missiles.

    External powers like Russia & Iran could also support the operations in their own way. All the major powers of
    the world, including China, agree that Pakistan should be disarmed of its WMDs as soon as possible.

    The coalition partners US, UK, France & India will deliver a simple message to the world - if you don't know
    how to play nicely with your toys, we're going to have to snatch them.
     
  4. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    The number of foreign troops that may remain in Afghanistan after 2014 will be up to 15 thousand soldiers.

    This was reported on Thursday by the France Presse agency, citing a statement issued by the Afghani President Hamid Karzai. Afghanistan and Washington have agreed upon a draft agreement on security, defining the status of U.S. forces in the Islamic Republic after 2014. If such an agreement between Kabul and Washington is reached, then, from 5 to 10 thousand U.S. military personnel will remain in the country to provide assistance in the fight against the remaining militants of the “Al-Qaeda” group and in the training of the national army.
     
  5. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    President Hamid Karzai told a national assembly Thursday that he supports a newly forged agreement to allow U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, but then he raised new uncertainties by saying he won’t sign the deal until next spring.

    Karzai spoke a day after U.S. officials said the accord’s language had been finalized, and as an assembly of 2,500 Afghan officials began to consider it.

    U.S. officials have said unequivocally that the agreement must be signed by the end of this year, if not sooner, to allow the Pentagon to prepare for its role after the American combat mission ends. They were hesitant to respond Thursday to Karzai’s remarks, seeking first to get a verified translation and an explanation from Karzai’s aides.

    Karzai told the assembly that debate over the agreement should last for months, to make sure the country’s political leaders are comfortable with thousands of U.S. troops remaining in the country.

    “This agreement will be signed when we hold honorable and proper elections,” said Karzai, referring to the April 5 election in which voters will choose his successor.

    Karzai’s comments shocked some delegates at the assembly, known as a loya jirga, and boosted the chances that the Obama administration could walk away from an agreement it has been trying for months to conclude. However, Karzai at times has raised doubts about the accord, only to later back down after talks with U.S. officials.

    President Obama sent Karzai a letter stating he hoped the deal could be signed “promptly.”

    If the signing is delayed, supporters of the deal fear it will give hard-line Islamic activists crucial time to derail it. And with 11 candidates seeking the presidency next year, Karzai appeared to be tossing question of continued U.S. presence into the unpredictable realm of Afghan politics.

    “It is better and in our interest to sign it now, because there is no guarantee that the next government will be as legitimate as the current one,” said Sharifullah Kamawal, a delegate to the assembly from Nangahar province.

    For months, Karzai has seemed to be avoiding any appearance that he is eager for U.S. forces to remain, apparently because of the controversial nature of the troops’ presence. In June, he broke off negotiations on the pact during a dispute with the U.S. government over a Taliban banner that was displayed at a hotel in Doha, where peace talks with the Taliban were scheduled to occur. When the Obama administration began hinting it was preparing for a complete withdrawal, similar to the U.S. pullout from Iraq in 2011, Karzai reengaged in talks with U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry,

    But Karzai sought additional concessions from Kerry up until late last week. The draft of the agreement was finalized early Thursday after Obama wrote Karzai a letter assuring him that U.S. forces will continue to respect the “sanctity and dignity of the Afghan people.”

    After 12 years of war, Obama plans to pull most of the remaining 39,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by the end of next year. But the administration has pressed to keep several thousand troops after 2014 to help train and support the Afghan National Army.

    Speaking in a tent that resembled an inflatable sports stadium, Karzai on Thursday urged the delegates to consider the consequences of a full U.S. withdrawal from the country.

    “If the U.S. won’t stay here, the Germans, Britain, France, all of NATO and some Islamic countries also won’t stay here,” Karzai said. “The [agreement] will support us financially, train our forces and strengthen them.”

    Obama’s letter said U.S. forces will be “cooperating in training, advising, and assisting” Afghan forces “in a targeted, smaller, counterterrorism mission.”

    “This is a strong agreement for both of our countries, which provides the foundation to continue our cooperation to build a better Afghanistan,” wrote Obama.

    A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined comment.

    Under the agreement, the United States can maintain up to nine bases in this country, and American troops and support contractors will be able to enter Afghanistan without having to obtain a visa.

    The residual U.S. force is barred from engaging in “combat operations” except in “mutually agreed” circumstances, including possible support if there are attacks on Afghan forces. The agreement does not spell out the number of U.S. forces who will remain, but Karzai said Thursday that he envisions up to 15,000 NATO troops being based in the country.

    According to several estimates, the United States plans to maintain a force of no more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan after 2014. The draft agreement allows an indefinite U.S. presence, but Karzai said Thursday it would be in place for 10 years.

    In recent weeks, the likelihood of a long-term security agreement between the two countries seemed to dim because of resistance among Afghans to provisions to grant immunity to U.S. troops and allow them to continue to enter the homes of Afghans under “extraordinary” circumstances.

    Though Karzai now supports the negotiated language in the agreement, he said it will be up to the members of the loya jirga to deliberate the matter over the next four days. The group’s decision is nonbinding, but Karzai said he would not refer the agreement to parliament if the loya jirga rejected it.

    “It is your decision,” Karzai said.

    At several points during Karzai’s hourlong address, delegates interrupted, calling out their opposition to parts of the agreement. One woman shouted that she would not agree to give U.S. forces immunity from local laws, saying that they must be held responsible for the deaths of Afghan civilians.

    After order was restored, Karzai stressed that a long-term partnership with the United States was vital to country’s security. “Since 9/11, we have gotten lots of achievements, but we couldn’t get the most important desire of our people, which is peace,” Karzai said. “Our people still live in insecurity.”

    Karzai told the delegates that India, China, Russia, Turkey, Pakistan and most Arab nations have urged him to sign the agreement. Only Iran, he said, has voiced opposition.

    But Karzai repeatedly suggested that tensions between the United States and Afghanistan could persist, even with U.S. forces remaining in the country.

    Karzai lamented the fact that U.S. military officials have sought to place limits on the types of weapons it plans to supply to Afghanistan. Karzai has pressed for heavy weapons that could be used to defend the country from a foreign invader, but U.S. military commanders argue that the country should focus on counterinsurgency.

    “I demand tanks from them, and they give us pickup trucks, which I can get myself from Japan,” Karzai said. “I demand fighter jets, and they give us” small transport planes.

    Later in the speech, Karzai bluntly stated: “I don’t trust the U.S., and the U.S. doesn’t trust me.” Still, he added, the delegates should approve the agreement for “happiness of today's and future generations.”
     
  6. Jungibaaz

    Jungibaaz Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    Mayor of Kabul's political posturing in full swing, haha.
    Desperately trying appease Afghan mistrust of his government and the rule of his overlords.
     
  7. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    While the White House envoys and the President of Afghanistan are engaged in fierce bargaining over the terms and timing of signing the Afghan- US agreement on defence, experts are wondering how this bargaining will affect the other spheres of Afghan life.

    Some experts in Kabul have already stated that Afghans do not need the agreement because, in their opinion, Americans have given nothing to Afghanistan but growth in drug production
    . Others believe that the agreement has its advantages which should be used.

    Meanwhile, the theme of the alleged link between Western troops stay and increasing drug production in Afghanistan is interesting in itself . There are various versions. One of them comes from our columnist Evgeny Ermolaev.

    If you draw on the map of the world the paths of drug traficking and on another map designate the trails used by international terrorists, a comparison of both charts will reveal an amazing resemblence. However, this looks surprising only at first glance. The founders of "al- Qaeda" Osama Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri tied their terrorist network to the networks of drug traffickers from the very beginning. But the Afghan Taliban took ​​an imprudent step, deciding to at least significantly limit drug production in Afghanistan if not completely stop it. After that, the Americans came to the country and drug production was not only restored immediately but also greatly increased in volume. And the money to "al- Qaeda" started pouring in again.

    The second largest supplier of drugs in the world - Central America specializes mainly in cocaine. Recently, the flow of drugs from Latin America to Europe has been growing. Cocaine is delivered across the ocean to West Africa, thence across the Sahara to the Maghreb countries for onward transmission to Europe. Al-Qaeda has found its place here also. Militants of “Al- Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb" monitor and protect these caravans with the drug across the desert. According to estimates, the amount of drug trafficking in the region is comparable in volume with the help which countries in Western Africa received from Libya under Gaddafi. That is, the flow of money in the region has not decreased much, but the financial flows are now directed towards other people and for other purposes. And there are different versions about the role of money in the turbulent events in Mali, where a redistribution of power between local clans and tribes is being carried out under the guise of fight against terrorism.

    Suspicions that influential people in the West secretly patronize drug trafficking have been voiced long ago - but they are unproven, says expert Victor Nadein - Raevskii . In his view, the fault of the West lies in complete indifference to the problem.

    As for the U.S., the reason for their passivity is quite obvious. Drugs from Afghanistan are not going overseas. They mostly end up in the region, as well as in Russia and Europe. U.S. does not think that it's for them to defend the interests of others. Including the interests of Muslim countries, whose population is becoming addicted to the poison from Afghanistan.

    However, we can see another reason as well. It is known that the "kings" of the Afghan drug trade are based not only and not so much in Afghanistan. This country is just a workshop for the production and primary processing of drugs. And the business is global.

    Therefore we can say that the arrival of American troops really entailed "the inclusion of Afghanistan in the global economy", as promised by the Americans. But only in one aspect – as a fantastic vendor of profitable poison. In fact, this is not surprising. After all, in the system, focused exclusively on profit, any profitable business is sure to find a lot of loopholes, providing for its existence and development.

    The West, which has already passed the stage of "wild capitalism," seems to be fighting against drug trafficking, though without much success. And Afghanistan is just a beginner in the global capitalist system. Earlier – during the regime of Najibullah or Mujahideen or the Taliban, Afghanistan was not included in this global system, in any case, completely. Now it is already inside the system - and what can it give her? If there were oil, the country would produce oil. But there is no oil. And as a result, Afghanistan provides the world criminal market with drugs - under an almost indifferent gaze of the U.S. military.

    And only Afghans themselves can cope with this disaster. Americans will certainly not help them, the history of the last ten or so years has clearly shown this.
     
  8. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    As soon as American troops pull out of Afghanistan, the Taliban may rush back into power. Will they seek to expand their influence beyond the Afghan borders? Analysts are skeptical about the Taliban’s inclination towards expansion. That does not mean to say, however, that Islamic extremism will not start penetrating neighboring countries.

    At the moment, the Taliban appear to be focused entirely on the domestic agenda. Taliban leaders are not what they used to be in the 1990s. They are all fathers of large families and have amassed handsome fortunes. So there is every reason to expect them to be more pliable when it comes to political compromise. After the US withdrawal, they are more likely to concentrate on propping up their rule at home, rather than push for expansion, the Russian president’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, said in an interview with the RIA Novosti news agency.

    “The Taliban ideology is a combination of Islamic extremism and Pashtun nationalism. So, their immediate and main priority will be cementing their positions and strengthening their elites inside Afghanistan. They will be too busy bolstering their power and control over the country, echoed Vyacheslav Belokrenitsky, Deputy Director of the Institute of Oriental Studies.

    But there is one thing that keeps worrying Afghanistan’s neighbors. A new generation of Afghan militants has grown up. Jihadists dreaming of a global caliphate, both Afghans and natives of other countries, who have been trained in Taliban camps, including militants of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, may pose a serious threat, warns Pyotr Topychkanov, a global security analyst at the Moscow-based Institute of World Economy and International Relations.

    “Small groups of militants with combat experience and trained in terrorist camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan may try to penetrate Russia and Europe and commit terrorist attacks. Those are not hypothetical scenarios. It’s a threat that already exists. Suffice it to recall a group of militants neutralized in the Moscow region last year. They had all been trained in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said.

    Countries bordering on Afghanistan and even those that share no border with it are considering how to respond to those challenges. India, for example, is providing training to Afghan army officers. Russia is enhancing cooperation with Afghanistan’s neighbors through the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The later, though not being a military alliance, offers wonderful opportunities for discussion.
     
  9. Picdelamirand-oil

    Picdelamirand-oil Lt. Colonel MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Hamid Karzaï : «The United States behaves in Afghanistan like a colonial power»

    In a interview with Le Monde, afghan president, Hamid Karzaï, blames the United States for acting like a "colonial power" in the way it "pressures" Kaboul to sign a security agreement. This accord is meant to provide military assistance to Afghanistan after 2014. M. Karzaï says he is not ready to sign it unless certains conditions are met.

    [​IMG]

    While the United States and its Nato allies have started to pull out from Afghanistan, there is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the bilateral security agreement (BSA) your government and the USA agreed to on November 20th. Why won't you sign this agreement which is meant to provide military assistance to Afghanistan after 2014 ?

    My position has not changed for the past 8 years : the war on terror can't be fought and must not be fought in Afghan villages, in Afghan homes. If there is a war on terror, it has to be taken to the terrorist sanctuaries, where they are trained and nurtured.

    This has been my constant position and the main source of tension between myself and the United States. There are also other issues, but as far as I'm concerned, Afghan civilian casualties are the main problem.

    There is also a lack of visible and genuine effort on behalf of the USA to help us with the peace process. Neither myself nor the Afghan people are opposed to having a good relationship with the USA or Nato. The Afghan people approved the BSA at the recent loya jirga [Assembly of personalities, on November 24th ]. I'm in favour of the BSA. But I want this agreement to bring peace to Afghanistan and to put an end to attacks on Afghan homes. And the Afghan people must notice that these attacks have stopped.

    You recently met James Dobbins, the American special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, on December 5th in Kabul. What was the substance of his message on this agreement ?

    I had a long conversation with Mr Dobbins, whom I've known for ten years. He said that without the BSA, there will be no peace.

    His remarks can be interpreted in several ways. In a positive way: once you sign the BSA, there will be peace. If they can reassure us, provide the trust we need, this is a good thing. You can also interpret his comments in a different way : “ If you don't sign the BSA, we will cause you trouble and provoke disturbances in the countryâ€.

    Either way, Afghanistan will remain committed to its demands, that the BSA must bring peace to Afghanistan. And before it is signed, we must have visible movements towards peace in Afghanistan. That means launching negotiations between the High Peace Council (HPC) and the Taliban. I understand that peace can't be delivered in one, two or three months. But what I want is the launch of a genuine peace process.

    What role do you expect the US to play in the peace process ?

    Given my experience and the information I have, I believe the USA can considerably help launch the peace process. When I was in Washington one year ago to negotiate the terms of a peace process with the US, I realised the Americans were speaking on behalf of the Taliban.

    Are you saying that the Americans have been keeping secret contacts with the Taliban ?

    Indeed, these secret contacts exist. But when I say the Americans can help with the peace process, it's because they have many other connections. They are friendly with Pakistan and Pakistan is definitely in contact with the Taliban. The USA has the ability, through Pakistan and directly as well, to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

    If I summarize, you want to see an end to attacks on Afghan homes and a verifiable launch of the peace process ? And once you have these guarantees…

    In that case, I would be willing to sign the BSA.

    Could that happen before the next presidential election in April 2014 ?

    If it happens, so the better. If it doesn't, then it will be for the next president to sign the BSA. My responsibility is to deliver all the guarantees for an agreement that serves the Afghan interests. And until I am convinced that these guarantees exist, I will not sign the BSA. Because the BSA, as much as it serves the interests of the USA and Nato, must also serve the interests of the Afghan people.

    I need to be absolutely confident that this document delivers safety, security and peace to the Afghan people before I can approve it. At the loya jirga, the Afghan people told the USA : we want a good relationship with you, but you must change your behaviour, you need to behave in a way that doesn't harm or weaken Afghanistan. We have given you assurances of our friendship, you must now behave like an ally, not like an adversary.

    Do you believe the USA sometimes behaves like an adversary ?

    Attacking Afghan homes is an act of aggression. Launching a psychological war on Afghan people is an act of aggression.

    What do you mean by a psychological war ?

    A psychological war is a war against our economy, a war that encourages companies to leave Afghanistan, that encourages money to leave Afghanistan, that frightens Afghan's of the consequences of an American departure, is all this not psychological war ?

    Do you think this is the outcome of deliberate American propaganda ?

    Absolutely, this is the outcome of American state propaganda. Without a doubt. If I were not sure of all these things, I would not have been so adamant in my demands


    [​IMG]

    In some statements, you have compared the Taliban with the Americans as if they were both your enemies. And such statements have shocked many people in the USA given the number of American soldiers that have been killed in Afghanistan and the amount of financial assistance the USA has provided to your country.

    I didn't say that. I'm grateful, the Afghan people are grateful, for the assistance that has been given to Afghanistan. And we would like to repeat our gratitude. But when and where the USA has behaved against our interests - and in spite of our repeated warnings -, it's my job to speak out, to tell the truth.

    When the Taliban murder Afghan people, I condemn them. At the same time, I call them “brothers†because they are Afghans and I want them to come back to their homes and make peace with the country. To the Americans, I have said : you are here to fight extremism, or terrorism.

    Why should the Afghan people pay the price of a war on terrorism ? Why would you attack an Afghan home, in the pursuit of a so-called taleb, of which there are many thousands in Afghanistan, and bring death and suffering to children and women? Would the USA launch drone attacks against homes in America in pursuit of a killer, a terrorist ? No. Why should the Americans do it in Afghanistan ? Do they feel an Afghan life is worth less than an American life ? I expect the USA to have an equal respect for an Afghan child as for an American child. We are not less worthy.

    Some American officials have warned that if the BSA is not signed before the end of this year, there will be no BSA at all. And that means no American military presence beyond 2014. That would have huge security and financial consequences for Afghanistan. Do you think these warnings are serious or are they just a bluff ?

    Even if they are real, even it's not a bluff, we are not to be pressured into signing the BSA without our conditions being met. Even if they are serious, the Americans can't push us into a corner. If the USA wants to be our ally, they have to be a respectful ally. They can't exploit us. What I hear these days, and what I've heard before, sounds like classic colonial exploitation. The Afghan's don't bow down, they have defeated in the past colonial powers. They'll accept a respectful relationship, they are an honourable people and will treat friends honourably.

    Do you think the USA is behaving like a colonial power?

    Absolutely. They threaten us by saying “We will no longer pay your salaries, we will drive you into a civil warâ€. These are threats. If you want to be our partner, we must be friends. Respect Afghan homes, don't kill their children and be a partner. So bluff or no bluff, we want respect for our commitment to the safety of Afghan lives and to peace in Afghanistan.

    So you don't believe there would be dire consequences if the BSA is not signed ?

    We will not cease to be a nation if that were to happen. It will be harsher for us, it will be more difficult, but we will continue to live our lives, we will continue to be a nation and a state. If the USA is here, if Nato is here, with us, with their resources, hopefully properly spent and not wasted, or looted, if our homes are respected, if peace is maintained, the American presence is good for Afghanistan, and we value it. But if their presence comes at the price of destroying Afghan homes, at the price of the security and the dignity of Afghans, if their presence here means continued war, and bombs and killings, then it's not worth it.

    The Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, visited Kabul late November. His new civilian government is supposed to be more supportive of a peace process in Afghanistan. Mullah Baradar [an Afghan Taliban leader arrested in Karachi in 2010] was recently released by the Pakistani authorities. You apparently want mullah Baradar to play a role in the peace process. What kind of assurances did you get from Mr Sharif regarding mullah Baradar ?

    I've met Mr Sharif before and after he became the Prime Minister, three or four times. He has good intentions for Pakistan. He is a patriotic Pakistani. He wants Pakistan to do well.

    I'm sure he means well when he says he wants to improve relations with his neighbours, both with Afghanistan and India. And so far, he has tried his best to fulfil his commitments towards us, including towards mullah Baradar. We came to an understanding when he visited Kabul a few days ago. I hope it will be implemented, both on our side and with the help of the Americans.

    Can you tell us what this understanding was about ?

    Not at this point. When it will be implemented, you will know about it.

    So should we expect a big initiative in the coming weeks ?

    Let's not describe it as big or small. Let's say that we hope to see movements towards a peace process in Afghanistan.


    [​IMG]

    In Doha (Qatar), the opening of the Taliban office on June 18th was a fiasco. You strongly protested after they displayed the emblems of the Islamic emirate of Afghanistan [name of the former Taliban regime]. Would you like to see this office reopen in Doha or be shifted to another country ?

    Doha was not our choice. Doha, Qatar, was an American choice and an American plan. We negotiated for almost two years, we told the Americans from the beginning that this is not our place.

    We want the peace process to be held in Afghanistan. And if not in Afghanistan, in Saudi Arabia or Turkey. But the Americans insisted on Qatar. We laid down our conditions. The Americans agreed on these conditions. The American president gave me a letter of assurances. But when the office in Qatar opened, those assurances were not respected. Therefore, Qatar is no longer an option for us.

    You will not allow this bureau to reopen ?

    Not in that manner, not at all. We want talks with the Taliban. My advice to our Taliban brothers is : they have a country, that country is Afghanistan. They are free to come here and to talk to us. The first choice must be Afghanistan. But if the Taliban say they want the talks to be held elsewhere, then for the sake of peace, we would agree.

    But the Taliban don't want to talk with you ?

    That's not true.

    Officially at least

    That's not true.

    In their statement in Doha, they only raised the possibility of talks with “some Afghans†without mentioning your government.

    It's wasn't the Taliban. The statement was issued in the name of the Taliban, it came from other countries. We know who wrote that statement.

    The statement didn't come from the Taliban ? Was it a joint US-Pakistani initiative?

    I wouldn't go that far at this stage. But we know the statement wasn't written by the Taliban. We know who wrote it for them.

    But the Taliban don't consider you as a legitimate partner. They consider you as a “puppet†and only want to talk to the “masterâ€. How can you therefore be recognized as a legitimate partner ?

    Even those words did not come from the Taliban. They were intended to create an environment in Afghanistan in which peace would not happen.

    So you think that the refusal to talk to you doesn't come from the Taliban. Does it come from another country ?

    Yes

    A neighbouring country ?

    Neighbouring or not so neighbouring. We know the Taliban want to talk to us. We are in contact with them.

    Corruption is a very big problem in Afghanistan, do you feel responsible for this problem ?

    There is corruption in Afghanistan, no doubt. There is corruption within the Afghan system, no doubt. There is corruption also within the international community, especially regarding American contracts and the way those contracts are implemented. For example, the private security firms that the Americans have employed in Afghanistan were one of the biggest sources of corruption, and lawlessness, and insecurity, and – worst of all – they were also responsible for the creation of a parallel structure to the afghan security forces. They have effectively created a state within a state. And a corrupt one.

    I have struggled for five to six years to stop them. But they won't stop. The USA kept on insisting that they should have them [the private security companies]. To put it in plain words, the USA and the international community have created a flood of corruption. I could have taken tougher measures but they would not have not ended corruption. They would have caused more frictions in the Afghan society.

    You often suspect the USA or people in the West of trying to divide Afghanistan. Could you be more explicit?

    I was approached by some countries and also by people acting on behalf of the Taliban, who told me that if the Taliban were given a place in Afghanistan, if they were allowed to officially settle there and run their administrations, that would then lead to a peace process. I saw that as a dangerous path to the creation of two states within one country.

    I called some Taliban personalities, active in the movement, as well as those who have connexions to them, in order to enquire about this proposal. They said: “Yes, they were also approached and offered places in Afghanistanâ€. But they refused this offer. And I saw that the movement that lead to the opening of a Taliban office in Doha was related to that process. And the way it was announced proved our point. The manner in which certain other activities were conducted in the name of the peace process also indicated that certain forces in the West didn't want talks between the High Peace Council (HPC) and the Taliban but talks between the Taliban and other ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

    They tried to ethnicize the conflict in arranged talks between warlords and ethnic groups. This has been proved. But this initiative failed because the Afghan people reacted strongly. Whatever the plan was, we know that the West, through some foundations and with the help of certain members of the US Congress, tried to force federalism in Afghanistan. We are convinced that a deliberate effort was made to weaken Afghanistan and to turn it into fiefdoms. To have a weak central government. And the reason why the Americans and some European countries tried to undermine the presidential elections in 2009 was also to have a weakened government with less legitimacy.

    The next presidential election is due on April 5th 2014. Will it take place on time?

    It has to take place on time. I am committed to this.

    You will not allow this first round to be postponed?

    It's up to the Electoral commission to decide. As far as I'm concerned, I will not interfere with the commission's decision. If they want to hold the election on April 5th, I'm very much for it.

    Your brother, Qayum Karzaï, will be one of the eleven candidates running in this election. Is he your favourite candidate?

    I told him in very clear words : “If you are a candidate, those who want to accuse me of interference will easily be able to do so. So please don't be a candidateâ€. But he said no: “I want to be a candidateâ€. He has that right as a citizen. But I have my views and my concerns.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
    2 people like this.
  10. omya

    omya Lt. Colonel ELITE MEMBER

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    half of it is BS ^^
     
  11. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Tarin Kot base embraces recycling as Australian troops head home

    For more than 20,000 Australian troops who served in Afghanistan from 2001, the base at Tarin Kot was as close to home as they could be.

    The Australian-run multinational base located in Uruzgan Province provided shelter, supplies, security and health facilities. More importantly, it was there that troops received letters from home, called their families and enjoyed hot, but brief, showers and good food.

    This week the troops are arriving home in time to spend Christmas with their families and friends.

    Now that Australia is ending its longest war, the base at Tarin Kot has been gifted to the Afghan security forces.

    But as with any real estate handover, before it could be transferred a lot of packing had to be done. Most was completed several months ago with the bare essentials left until transition this month.

    Brigadier Andrew Bottrell was the man in charge of co-ordinating the huge job of dismantling the base. His primary goal for the transition was that it be clean, on time, and environmentally friendly.

    "We don't intend leaving behind an ugly legacy in Afghanistan," he said.

    "We wanted to depart in a manner that upheld our reputation with the Afghans, with the Coalition, and with the Australian public. So that's been absolutely fundamental in so many of our decisions."

    For this reason the choice of what was gifted to the Afghans and what was not came down to cultural and manageability factors.

    "The Afghans would like us to leave everything behind I'm sure, but we need to make sure that what we leave behind they can actually sustain," Brigadier Bottrell said.

    "When we decide to leave infrastructure behind, we need to make sure they [the Afghans] are able to sustain that. So we’re doing some training and translating manuals so they can operate the generators and systems we leave behind."

    Australia has committed a substantial amount of infrastructure to the Afghans. More permanent structures, such as the mess hall with its fully furnished kitchen, and living quarters, remain intact.

    Water bores and pumps, tools, building equipment, and a fully equipped gym are also being transferred.

    With a tight budget to maintain, other infrastructure was sold, primarily to avoid the cost of transporting it by road to Kandahar only to be destroyed there.

    In a military twist on recycling, even bomb-protection ramparts were to be re-purposed.

    Heavy-duty wire cages with hessian inserts filled with rubble created a blast barricade around the base protecting personnel within the compound from explosions or gunfire.

    Their bulk and structure provided a headache for the deconstruction team.

    "We were struggling to find how we would dispose of these once they were empty. It essentially turned into a mass of wire and hessian and hundreds of tons of waste," Brigadier Bottrell said.

    In an environmentally friendly solution, Brigadier Bottrell's team found a contractor to ship the waste to Kandahar. From there a local company would turn the bulky barriers into bales of compressed wire and recycle these at no cost to Australia.

    "It cost us nothing to clean up what was otherwise going to be a really ugly mess, so that was a particularly good solution to find," Brigadier Bottrell said.

    Ironically, a lot of the local contractors involved in dismantling the base were graduates of the Coalition’s Trade Training Centre. Now able to utilise skills learned from the Australian troops, their assistance was fundamental in the handover of the base to their fellow countrymen.

    What's being shipped out?
    This is the ADF's equipment list for the Middle East Area of Operations. A "significant proportion" of this gear was kept at Tarin Kot:
    Shadow 200 drones
    Long-range Heron drones
    2 Chinook helicopters
    More than 1,000 armoured accommodation and working containers
    More than 1,000 shipping containers
    More than 50 Bushmaster armoured vehicles
    More than 150 other vehicles including Unimogs and Land Rovers
    42 earth movers and other heavy plant
    More than 3,000 radios
    More than 1,000 secure GPS units
    More than 2 million items of explosive ordnance
    45,000 pharmaceutical items
    Weapons systems
    Body armour
    3,500 computer terminals

    Vehicles and equipment from Tarin Kot are transported either by air to the Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, or by road to Kandahar.

    From Kandahar, items are flown to Al Minhad for eventual return to Australia by either air or sea.

    Some of the heavier equipment goes by road through Afghanistan to Pakistan and on to the Port of Karachi for shipping to Australia.
     
  12. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    The Russian military will train combat engineers for the Afghan army to ensure safe and efficient mine sweeping in the war-torn Central Asian country, Russia’s defense minister said Wednesday.

    “We are working on the creation of a training center to prepare sappers for mine sweeping in Afghanistan,” Sergei Shoigu said at a meeting with university students in Moscow.

    Shoigu said that the training would be carried out through interpreters speaking dialects commonly used in Afghanistan.

    The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force is expected to withdraw from the war-torn country by the end of 2014, handing over responsibility for security in Afghanistan to local police and military forces.

    In May, Russia’s military intelligence agency said it expected the influence of the radical Islamist Taliban to grow in Afghanistan after international coalition forces leave.
    Read more: Russian military to train combat engineers for Afghan army - News - World - The Voice of Russia: News, Breaking news, Politics, Economics, Business, Russia, International current events, Expert opinion, podcasts, Video
     
  13. brahmos_ii

    brahmos_ii Major SENIOR MEMBER

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    Russia is looking forward to expand military-technical cooperation with Afghanistan, said State Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin during his visit to Kabul.

    Naryashkin said that Russia will continue to supply Mi-17 helicopters and other similar military machines to Afghanistan and will also provide on-site service for the same. He further reminded that Russia had supplied a large consignment of arms a year ago to the country at the request of the Afghan government.

    Chairman of the Lower Chamber of the National Assembly of Afghanistan- Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said that Kabul expects Moscow to help in training the Afghan police and military troops since the country's presidential elections will be held next April, and by the end of next year, international forces will completely transfer the security of the country into the hands of the Afghan police and military forces. Ibrahimi said that after international forces leave the country, the Afghan police will face new challenges and possibly interference by outside forces into the internal affairs of the country.
    Read more: Russia is ready to expand military-technical cooperation with Afghanistan - Naryshkin - News - Politics - Russian Radio
     
  14. Soumya

    Soumya Major STAR MEMBER

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    10-year-old, allegedly intended as suicide bomber, rescued in Afghanistan

    [​IMG]

    Helmand, Afghanistan: The Afghan Interior Ministry says it has detained Spozhmay, a 10-year-old girl who was about to be used by Taliban as a suicide bomber.

    The girl was allegedly rescued before she could blow up her suicide vest in the southern province of Helmand.

    The Interior Ministry spokesperson Sediq Sediqi said she was spotted by Afghan soldiers who she was sent to attack. Sources say she was forced into the planned attack by her brother, a top Taliban commander. Reporters in the Southern province say the girl seemed extremely confused.

    The Taliban has in the past used child and teenage suicide bombers, but Spozhmay is one of the youngest recorded by the Afghan government and one of the few girls reportedly tasked by the Taliban for suicide attacks.

    In August 2011, President Hamid Karzai had pardoned several teenage suicide bombers. They were freed at a ceremony in the Presidential palace.

    10-year-old, allegedly intended as suicide bomber, rescued in Afghanistan | NDTV.com

    Goddamn these mofo Talibanis even did not spare a kid .
     
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  15. 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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