U.S. Embassy Emergency Message. The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has issued an emergency message on August 15th for U.S. citizens about a possible attack in mid-August by Taliban insurgents. http://kabul.usembassy.gov/em_081515.html
German Aid Worker Kidnapped. GIZ - the German overseas development agency - has temporarily suspended all its operations in Kabul after one of its key female staff members was kidnapped by unidentified gunmen on Tuesday (Aug 18th). Read more in a news report by Tolo News, Aug 18, 2015.
IMU a Threat in Northern Afghanistan. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan or IMU is on the offensive against the Kabul government. Learn more in "Islamic State Ally Emerges as Threat to Afghanistan, Central Asia", The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2015.
Dostum Convoy Ambushed. Vice President Dostum's convoy was ambushed on Friday (Aug 21) by the Taliban in Faryab province on the Ghormach-Qaisar highway. Initial reports are that the outcome was not favorable for the Taliban (8 KIA, 13 captured). Read more in "Afghan Vice President Survives Ambush", Gandara Blog, August 21, 2015.
Food Shortage in Parmir Region Due to Insurgents. Nearly 90 percent of the population of the Parmir mountain region in Badakhshan province are facing major food shortages as the insurgents have blocked off key supply routes. See a news report on this topic in Tolo News, August 20, 2015.
Now Zad District Update. The Taliban fly their flag over the district center of Now Zad in Helmand province a few weeks back and reports indicate that it is still flying. Afghan government officials say that they have taken the district back from the Taliban. Of course, it is easy to say you control the district (in Afghanistan this means the few buildings found within the compound walls of the district center) when you move the district governor's office to a different location! Robert Gates, a former Department of Defense Secretary noted in his book Duty (see caption of 10th picture starting at page 306) that he wondered if the heavy cost in U.S. Marine casualties was worth the taking of Now Zad from the Taliban. Read more in a news report by Reuters, August 18, 2015.
Insider Attack Investigation. A year ago MG Harold Greene was killed in an insider attack at an Afghan training facility. An investigation has revealed some facts of the incident. Read "Completely betrayed: An investigation into the insider attack that killed a 2-star general", Stars and Stripes, August 19, 2015. Read more about the insider threat.
Afghan Clerics Speak Up. It appears that some of Afghanistan's Islamist leaders may be eager (a strong word probably) to undermine the appeal of insurgents by questioning their religious credentials and violent campaigns. Read more in "Afghan Clerics Vocal in Challenging Taliban Narrative", Gandhara Blog, August 20, 2015.
Afghan Children and Mines. The Daily Mail has published a news report about the harrowing plight of children maimed in Afghanistan by the thousands of landmines scattered across the country after decades of war. (Aug 21, 2015).
Women's Attire and the Taliban Landmine Planter. The National Directorate of Security (NDS) recently arrested a Taliban landmine planter dressed like a women in Paktia province. Hmmmm. Read a news report by Khaama Press, Aug 12, 2015.
Taliban Escalation - and Obama Backs Off. Hundreds of civilians have been killed in Afghanistan this month. Taliban attacks are increasing. Read more in "The Taliban Escalate as Obama Edges Out of Afghanistan", The Wall Street Journal, August 20, 2015.
Militias Fighting the Taliban - The Good, Bad and Ugly. Afghanistan has a rich history of militias for good and bad. In a country that has almost always had a decentralized form of government the existence of regional warlords (with their militias) has generally been a fact of life. The inability of the Afghan government and its Afghan National Defense Security Forces (ANDSF) to defeat the Taliban and other insurgent groups has resulted in some power brokers and regional actors to use local militias to provide security. This brings some good (local forces fighting the Taliban) and bad (militias not under government control victimizing the population) results. The First Vice President, Abdul Rashid Dostrum, is generating support for militias in northern Afghanistan (where he enjoys the most support). Read more in "Afghan Vice President Raises Concerns by Turning to Militias in Taliban Fight", The New York Times, August 18, 2015.