Sunday, December 14, 2014

Daily News Snippets (Dec 14, 2014)

There are a lot of Afghan refugees living (some working) in Iran. The Thomson Reuters Foundation reports (Dec 13, 2014) that Iran has extended visas for 450,000 Afghan refugees. The temporary visas are extended for six months. 

Afghan police say three IMU linked commanders were killed in northern Afghanistan in Baghlan province. (Gandhara Blog, Dec 13, 2014).

The German defense minister made a surprise visit to Afghanistan to meet with German troops. She landed at Camp Marmal near Mazar-i-Sharif on Saturday morning. There are about 1,200 German Soldiers remaining in Afghanistan; mostly working in the TAAC North area. About 850 Germans will remain after the first of the year. (Deutsche Welle, Dec 13, 2014).

The past few days have seen the Taliban busy with attacks. It would appear the traditional end of the fighting season is not being observed by the Taliban based on the frequency of attacks. Read more in "Several Killed in Afghan Attacks", Gandhara Blog, December 13, 2014.

Memorial services were held for the three South African citizens recently killed in a Taliban attack on a guest house in Kabul. Read more in a news report by Stars and Stripes (Dec 13, 2014).

An American female attorney who practices law in Kabul representing Westerners stranded in Afghan prisons talks about her work. Read "How Can The Rule of Law Bring "Justness" and not Just Justice?", National Public Radio, December 12, 2014.

The Taliban have not been beaten militarily but perhaps they have been bested in the political arena. The election of President Ghani has brought new hope to the country. The international community, based on the promise of reform, have re-committed themselves to additional troops into 2015 and continued funding. The big issue is Pakistan. Will it stop the support it provides to the Haqqani Network and other Taliban groups or stick with the status quo - continuing to stoke the fires of instability in Afghanistan. Read more in "Old problems, new hope", The Economist, December 13, 2014.

Task Force Catamount, an SFAAT serving in Logar province, but now deployed to the states recently received an award for their efforts and success in advising 203rd ANA Brigade at FOB Shank. Read more in "Maxwell ACSC instructor accepts DoD award", Maxwell AFB, December 12, 2014.

Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world. It is one of the worst places to be a mother. One of the problems is that expectant mothers have a difficult time reaching health centers. Some health experts have teamed up with some animal experts to device a saddle for donkeys that ease the problems of transporting expectant women to health centers - enter the "Donkey Ambulance". Read about an inflatable saddle that is a low-tech, inexpensive solution to the age-old problem in the remote Afghan mountains. See "The Donkey Ambulance", Modern Farmer, December 12, 2014.

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