Saturday, April 25, 2015

Afghan War News Snippets

Russian Enroute to Afghan Jihad Killed. A Russian national traveling to Afghanistan to join insurgents was killed by Tajik police.

Profile of Italian Hostage. Justine Drennan has penned an article about the Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto, who was killed in a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan while being held captive by al Qaeda. (Foreign Policy, Apr 23, 2015).

Profile of U.S. Hostage. Siobhan O'Grady has wrote an article about Warren Weinstein who was killed in the U.S. drone attack in Pakistan while being held by al Qaeda. (Foreign Policy, Apr 23, 2015).

Al Qaeda Still a Concern. According to a news report al Qaeda hiding in the AfPak region remain a concern of the United States. (Economic Times - India, Apr 24, 2015).

Taliban Attack Ghazni Govt Compounds. Rocket attacks were launched against government compounds in southeastern Ghazni province early on Friday morning - the day announced by the Taliban as the start of the 2015 fighting season. (Khaama Press, Apr 24, 2105).

Kandahar City Power Project to Shut Down. A proposed withdrawal of stable electricity supply from factories and homes in the key Afghan city raises security fears and threatens fragile development gains. The project is in jeopardy as USAID prepares to pull the plug. (The Guardian, Apr 24, 2015).

Father Son Reunion in Helmand Province. Recently the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) in Afghanistan helped Suliman, a young boy from Helmand province reunite after a long separation. Watch a 3-min video published April 22, 2015 and posted by ICRC.

India Hosting President Ghani. India hopes to regain lost ground in its relations with Afghanistan. The Afghan president has been getting friendlier with China and Pakistan which cuts into Indian influence. (Reuters,  Apr 23, 2015).

Hazaras in the Crosshairs? A lot of press has recently been given to the possibility that the Hazaras (usually found in the mountainous region of Central Afghanistan) are now being targeted by the Taliban and other groups because of their ethnicity. Some worry that this rash of recent abductions and killings might be a new trend of targeting this ethnic group. The folks at Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN) delve a little deeper in the facts to separate fact from fiction. (AAN, April 24, 2015).

Italy Targets Suspects. Afghans and Pakistanis who were connected with an al Qaeda plot to support attacks against Pakistan's government and U.S. forces in Afghanistan were targeted by Italian police. (Voice of America, Apr 24, 2015).

Contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq. An 'opinion' piece' about U.S. contractors in war zones. Hmmmm. (, Apr 24, 2015).

Report - Peace Process - Lessons Learned. "Of all the armed conflicts that have come to a peaceful end since the mid-1980s, 75% have done so via a negotiated settlement." Read more in The design and architecture of peace processes: lessons learned in the wake of crises, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre, April 2015.

Author: Peace Talks Necessary. The author of three books about Afghanistan, James Fergusson, is interviewed on the prospects for peace in that country. He feels that the Taliban will not stop fighting and will pose a serious challenge to the ANSF. He believes that the ANSF will continue fighting as long as they continue to be paid and the international community provides funding for the Afghan government. He thinks the war will stop only with a political settlement resulting in a power sharing agreement with the Taliban. (Gandhara  Blog - Radio Free Europe, April 25, 2015).

Indian Helicopters Provided to Afghanistan. According to a news report India has provided three multi-role Cheeteal helicopters to the Afghan Air Force. They were officially added in April 2015. The helicopters can be used for personnel transport, evacuation, reconnaissance, and aerial survey. They are capable of operating in high-altitude areas. (Khaama Press, April 24, 2015).

Report on Drugs. "Afghan Narcotrafficking: The State of Afghanistan's Borders", Joint U.S.-Russia Working Group, East West Institute, April 2015.

Lamb Pelts Aid Afghan Economy. Finland plays a big role in the lamb pelt trade of Afghan herders in northern Afghanistan. Read more in "Niche Trade in Lamb Pelts Proves Vital to Ailing Afghan Economy", The New York Times, April 23, 2015.

Hostage Problems. The rash of killed U.S. hostages is a troubling dilemma for the United States. Failed rescue attempts, beheadings, trading POWs for Taliban commanders, and drones killing hostages have put the U.S. hostage policy and procedures in question. Some think that the U.S. government needs a 'hostage czar'. Read "White House won't rule out hostage 'czar'', USA Today, April 24, 2015.

"Studies in Intelligence". The latest CIA publication - 'Journal of the American Intelligence Professional' is now available online. Volume 59, Number 1, March 2015 has a number of intriguing articles.

Afghan Election 2014. Afghanistan's 2014 presidential election did lead to its first peaceful transfer of power. However, it was scarcely democratic despite the 'rave support' of the U.S. Department of State cheerleaders. The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) has published a report that explores the election and its internationally mediated unity government outcome (our State Dept at work). Read "Understanding Afghanistan's 2014 Presidential Election: The Limits to Democracy in a Limited Access Order", by William A. Byrd, April 24, 2015.

Book Review - "The Wrong Enemy". The book by Carlotta Gall - "The Wrong Enemy: American in Afghanistan, 2001-2014", (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), 289 pp. is reviewed by John H. Kavanagh. Review is posted on the Central Intelligence Agency library at this link.

49th MCB Returns from Afghanistan. Soldiers from the 49th Movement Control Battalion of the 4th Sustainment Brigade arrived home (Fort Hood) from a deployment to Kuwait and Afghanistan. While deployed their mission was to manage transportation operations for host nation trucks for sustainment and retrograde support. They also assisted in the closing of forward operating bases as the U.S. forces conducted their withdrawal. (Fort Hood Sentinel, April 23, 2015).

Ghani Orders Investigation into UN Police Report. Afghanistan's president has ordered the interior minister to investigate why a United Nations-funded report on corruption in the Afghan police was ignored and to take appropriate action. The report recommended firing senior police officials for sabotaging the main system for processing complaints about misconduct in the force. The oversight by the United Nations on the Law and Order Trust Fund of Afghanistan (LOTFA) has been poor and corrupt police officials have stolen millions of dollars from the fund. Read a news report by Reuters, April 24, 2015.

EU Signs EUPOL Agreement with MoI. The European Union Mission in Afghanistan announced on Thursday that it was extending its mission in Afghanistan for another two years. The European Union Police has been providing training to the Afghan National Police (ANP) since 2009 in various fields. (Tolo News, Apr 23, 2015).

Drones Killing Innocents. Robert Bechhusen and Matthew Gault provide us their insight into drone warfare after the accidental killing of two al Qaeda hostages in a drone attack in Pakistan. Read "Drones Kill Innocent People All the Time: But now the White House can't deny it", War is Boring, April 24, 2015.

Drones Killing al Qaeda Leadership. Declan Walsh tells us that high-level losses among al Qaeda's top leadership in Pakistan's tribal belt have resulted a diminished leadership capacity. Read his story in The New York Times,  April 24, 2015.

Understanding Insurgency. A Special Forces officer provides us a 25 minute presentation on "Understanding Insurgent Origins, Behavior, & Political Membership", United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), April 24, 2015. (Posted on the USASOC Channel - YouTube).

Video of Afghanistan. The "Humans of Kabul" provide a four-minute video of Afghan scenery and Afghan life on Vimeo. No bombs, gunfire, or poverty. Not sure of the soundtrack but . . . Just life in Afghanistan.

Switzerland "Happiest Country". Afghanistan? Not so much. According to the 2015 World Happiness Report the mountainous nation of Switzerland is the place to be. Afghanistan placed 153 out of 158. So that is why I get that feeling in the pit of my stomach when the Safi Airways flight touches down at Kabul International Airport. The report is published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. (Radio Free Europe, April 24, 2015).

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