Sunday, December 7, 2014

Afghan Daily News Snippets (Dec 7, 2014)

December 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor Day. On this day the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the U.S. Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. About 360 Japanese planes attacked 33 American ships and military installations. The American losses were 18 ships, 170 aircraft, and over 3,000 lives.

The New York Times reported that the Obama administration changed the rules of US troop engagement authorities for 2015. The Times reported that a "secret memo" had been signed expanding the military's options in post-2014; but the administration is denying any big changes and so is ISAF. So was there a change in authorities? Hard to tell. Read more in "Afghanistan: The plot thickens", The Strategist, Australian Strategic Policy Institute Blog, December 4, 2014.

U.S. Special Envoy Daniel Feldman was interviewed by Deutsche Welle (German newspaper) about Afghanistan. Feldman has a positive outlook on the country's prospects. Read more in "US Afghan envoy Feldman: Very clear on challenges facing Afghan security forces", DW, December 3, 2014.

The country of Georgia has been a dependable contributor to the fight in Afghanistan. Its 51st Battalion of the V Infantry Brigade has just completed a deployment at Bagram Air Field.  Read more in "General Anderson Bids Farewell to 51st Battalion", The Messenger Online, December 4, 2014.

The new Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, faces a number of huge challenges in the future. NATO is leaving, international donor funds are being reduced, corruption is the number one problem, drugs are at a high level of production, and the Taliban are stronger than ever. Read more in a news report. (, Dec 4, 2014).

Hagel Visit to Afghanistan. The outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel conducted a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Saturday, December 6, 2014. Most likely his last in his current position. In a statement he said that he believes the Afghans will successfully put down a surge in Taliban attacks in the capital and stabilize the nation. Read more in "Hagel: Afghanistan on right track", Yahoo! News, December 6, 2014.

Continued German Support. Chancellor Angela Merkel says her country will continue to support Afghanistan after NATO combat troops pull out at the end of the year. Her statement came during a joint press conference with Afghan President Ghani. The German parliament voted to keep 850 soldiers in Afghanistan in 2015 to continue to advise and assist the ANSF; primarily in northern Afghanistan. See "Merkel Pledges Continued German Support to Afghanistan", Radio Free Europe, December 6, 2014.

Rebirth of Afghanistan. The population of Afghanistan is one of youth. The young Afghans are slowly transforming Afghanistan on many fronts. A commentator provides us with a dose of optimism (by way of discussing the Afghan sports teams) in "Rebirth of a State in Heart of Asia: The New Afghanistan", Eurasia Review, December 5, 2014. Waheed Rahimi is an Afghan analyst and writes for The Kabul Times. @wrAFG

Expats in Afghanistan are a strange crowd. They come to Afghanistan on a work assignment and then, for whatever reason, stay on for years. Some for decades. Read more in "Why I'm staying in Afghanistan", The Guardian, November 8, 2014.

Video - "The Kabul property scene", NATO Channel, November 14, 2014. An in-depth look at the current property market, both rental and construction. Despite being a benefit for the economy, extensive construction on unplanned and unapproved land is putting a strain on the infrastructure of the city. The "Kabul Solidarity Programme" or KSP aims to provide basic services to unplanned areas and legally bring them into the government's fold. (5 mins).

The Pentagon has released a report on the insider attack that killed MG Harold Greene. Read more in a news article by The New York Times, December 4, 2014.

Withdrawal of U.S. troops delayed according to a news report in The New York Times (Dec 6, 2014).

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), a private, international, and non-denominational development organization, has stated that it will continue its work in Afghanistan. Read more in an AKDN press release (Dec 4, 2014).

U.S. airstrikes on Pakistani militant elements located in Afghanistan are the latest signs of a thaw in U.S.-Pakistan relations. (Fox News, Dec 5, 2014).

In April 2014 Canadian journalist Kathy Gannon was covering the Afghan elections when she was shot by an Afghan police officer (her associate photographer Anja Niedringhaus was killed). Gannon was shot six times with an AK-47. Read more in a news account (CTV News, Dec 3, 2014).

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