Ghani and Abdullah Write to Us. President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah have penned an opinion article for The Washington Post (March 20, 2015) entitled "The importance of the U.S.-Afghanistan alliance." This is posted just days before they begin a series of meetings with high-level U.S. officials (including President Obama) in Washington, D.C. The intent of this letter to the U.S. public is to set the stage for the deepening of cooperation between the U.S. and Afghanistan and to garner continued U.S. support for Afghanistan. An interesting sentence is in the letter goes like this - " . . . and now Afghanistan has become the eastern wall standing against the butchery of ISIL, also known as the Islamic State". Of course, this is a concern of the U.S. public (see "Poll: Americans increasingly concerned about ISIS", CNN News, March 19, 2015). From the Afghan perspective, it is a good letter to justify continued U.S. support - stating that democracy is taking hold, women's rights are being advanced, and corruption is being dealt with. Now if only it were true.
Ghani Press Conference. President Ghani conducted a press conference (in English) on March 21, 2015 about his upcoming visit to the United States. (46 minutes).
Outcome of Ghani's Visit? RAND Corporation has posted an analysis of the President Ghani visit to the U.S. See "Q&A: What to Expect from Ghani's U.S. Visit", The RAND Blog, March 20, 2015.
Slower Afghan Exit. Washington is rethinking plans to halve the U.S. troop presence by year's end as threats persist. Read "Obama Considers Slower Afghan Exit", The Wall Street Journal, March 2015. (subscription or log in needed).
Urbanization Needed for Afghanistan? One writer, Ali Karimi, believes that the future of Afghanistan is tied to its cities becoming bigger. He says that worldwide urbanization is the wave of the future and that Afghanistan's dependence on the agricultural sector will hold the country back. Read more in "Can Cities Save Afghanistan?", Foreign Policy, March 20, 2015.
IMF & Afghanistan in Agreement. Afghanistan has agreed with officials from the International Monetary fund (IMF) on the country's plans to boost tax revenue, fight corruption and build a stronger financial system . . ." Read more in "Kabul, IMF agree on vision for overhauling Afghan economy", Reuters, March 20, 2015. You can read a press release on the topic by the IMF.
U.S. and Central Asia. The U.S. is taking a re-look at Central Asia. With everything else going on with the world it would be easy to forget this remote area (from a U.S. perspective) but actually Central Asia in important in terms of keeping the Islamic State at bay (stemming the advancement of Russian and Chinese influence, and the further development the economic future of Afghanistan. The State Department's New Silk Road Strategy (NSRS) has been plodding along while the Chinese "New Silk Road" has gathered steam. Read more in "U.S. Reassesses Central Asia Strategy", Radio Free Europe, March 21, 2015.
Uzbekistan and ISIL. "With Afghan-based radical Islamists siding with ISIL, Central Asian countries are stepping up border security and educating citizens about potential threats". (Central Asia Online, March 20, 2015).
Never Ending War. William J. Astore, a retired lieutenant colonel (USAF) has penned an article citing seven reasons why the U.S. is stuck in the never ending wars of Iraq and Afghanistan. Read "Groundhog Day in the War on Terror", TomDispatch.com, February 1, 2015.
Attempted Assassination of Dostum? Khaama Press is reporting that Afghan intelligence operatives thwarted another plot to assassinate first Vice President Rashid Dostum (March 21, 2015).