EU Providing 12 Million Euros. Afghanistan faces a critical humanitarian crisis as a result of the intensifying conflict. The European Union is upping its contribution for humanitarian aid by 12 million euros bringing the total humanitarian aid to 40 million euros for 2015. (European Commission, Dec 22, 2015).
Taliban Leadership Struggles. There seems to be three distinct groups of the Afghan Taliban emerging and the divide is going away soon. Read "Dueling Fatwas, More Dissension as Afghan Taliban Leadership Struggle Intensifies", Gandhara Blog, December 22, 2015.
Sexual Assault in Afghanistan. Danielle Moylan writes "When It Comes to Sexual Assault, Afghanistan Is All Talk and No Action", Foreign Policy, December 21, 2015.
Peace Talks? Looks like Afghanistan, Pakistan and others will make another attempt at peace talks. Reports say that another round will take place in Pakistan on/about January 11th. China and the United States may (will) also participate. (Radio Free Europe, Jan 2, 2016).
Georgian Deployment Program (GDP). The GDP is a multi-year training program with the goal to increase the interoperability between the Georgian Army and Resolute Support Mission (RSM). The training consists of six six-month rotations designed to train six Georgian infantry battalions. Read more in a contract announcement about driver training for the GDP-RMS project. (GovTribe.com, Dec 22, 2015).
Earthquake - Again. A 6.2 earthquake hit Afghanistan in late December 2015 causing about a dozen injuries. (Telegraph, Dec 25, 2015). A second earthquake was experienced in Kabul on January 2nd - measuring 5.3.
Nuristan - A Remote Region. Mujib Mashal writes about a remote and isolated province in northeastern Afghanistan in "Afghan Province Tucked in Mountains Lies Beyond Reach of Aid and Time", The New York Times, December 25, 2015.
Islamic State Radio. The IS militants based in eastern Afghanistan has launched their own radio station that features a 90-minute long program daily show entitled the "Voice of the Caliphate". It is in Pashto and reaches out to a wide audience within the province. Naturally the Afghan government is not pleased. Watch a two-minute long video by Radio Free Europe, December 22, 2015.
Nomads in Pamir Region. The Kyrgyz of the Pamir Mountains live in three different countries in a remote part of the world - Afghanistan, China, and Tajikistan. Learn more in "Modernity of Ancient Nomads in Pamir of Tajikstan", Radio Free Europe, December 21, 2015.
Former TAAC-South Cdr to 10th Mtn. BG Paul Bontrager is heading to Fort Drum, NY to be deputy commanding general for the 10th Mountain Division (Light). (Defense.gov, Dec 15, 2015).
Corruption. The country of Afghanistan is no doubt one of the most corrupt in the world. This culture of corruption is compounded with the billions of dollars that the U.S. and international community has pumped into the Afghan economy through aid and military expenditures. It is a small victory when someone actually gets charged with corruption. Read "U.S. Charges Afghan Businessman With Bribing for Contracts", Radio Free Europe, December 30, 2015.
TAPI and Peace. Barnett Rubin writes about the importance of the TAPI pipeline project and the impact it will have on peace in the region and Afghanistan's economy. While everyone applauds wildly about this seemingly important economic event some wonder how it will be built and secured in a disintegrating security situation. President Ghani's promise of protecting the pipeline's route through Afghanistan with 7,000 security personnel is ambitious but untenable. Read more in "The TAPI Pipeline and Paths to Peace in Afghanistan", The New Yorker, December 30, 2015.
Bad Year for Ghani. Afghanistan is experiencing weakness and disunity in both government and insurgent ranks. Some believe that President Ghani's first year did not go well. Read "The Guardian view on Afghanistan: a bad year for Ashraf Ghani", The Guardian, December 30, 2015.
Landai Season. Fazal Muzhary writes about this late fall / early winter traditional food feast that takes place in rural parts of Afghanistan in Landai Season: a delicacy and a feast in rural Afghanistan, Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN), December 30, 2015.
Data Book on Gender. The World Bank has published a handy pocket guide for users interested in gender statistics. This country by country reference could be helpful to those working gender issues in Afghanistan. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/23436
UN Security Council Debate. The Afghan ambassador to the United Nations, H.E. Mahmoud Saikal, addressed the UN Security Council in December about the situation in Afghanistan. You can listen (and watch) his 18-minute long address at the following link on YouTube.www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywV6Iv-Yl18
USAID and CVE. Where does the fight against violent extremism fit within the broad spectrum of development? USAID tells you in a recent report dated September 28th, 2015.
New TAAC-North Cdr. The Train, Advise, Assist Command - North based at Camp Marmal near Mazer-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan has a new commander. A quick look at his bio indicates that this is his first deployment to Afghanistan. Hmmmm. Perhaps it was just an oversight and he has completed five six-month tours to the Graveyard of Empires? Or are the Germans falling into the American practice of selecting officers to command in Afghanistan for their career development rather than selecting officers for their vast knowledge and experience of Afghanistan's politics, culture, tribes, ethnic groups, language, history, and many years of conflict.
Turkish Labs & Afghan Opium. The director of Russia's Federal Narcotics Control Service has said that Turkish laboratories are processing Afghan opium for deliveries to Europe. According to Russia's Sputnik news (real dependable source there) the drug cargo sometimes travels along northern Afghanistan into Iran and then on to Turkey. Once processed it finds its way into Europe through the Balkans. (Khaama Press, Dec 22, 2015).