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Putin Tells Washington: Withdraw Your Troops From Afghanistan

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#1 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:05 AM

Putin Tells Washington: Withdraw Your Troops From Afghanistan
 
 
 
August 15, 2017
 
 
 
Russia tells Washington to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan
 
Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked Washington to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, claiming that their presence helps create more terrorists in the Middle East.
 
Speaking on behalf of the President, special representative for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, called the USA's military campaign in the region a "complete failure."
 
Pravdareport.com reports:  According to him, the Americans should withdraw their troops from the country.
 
According to Kabulov, Afghanistan has been turning into a global "incubator of terrorists." Therefore, not only should the US withdraw its troops from the country, but the Americans should also abandon the idea of sending mercenaries there.
 
"The Americans are in despair, and their plans to replace professional military men with mercenaries are foolish. It will not lead to anything good, and mercenaries will simply escape."
 
"They recruit them for money from around the world. How are they going to fight against the Taliban in general?" the diplomat wondered.
 
The US is developing a new Afghan strategy. In particular, it is planned to replace the standing army with a private one.
 
According to Blackwater founder Erik Prince, about 5,500 mercenaries and about 90 military aircraft can be sent to Afghanistan in two years. The budget of the military operation makes up 10 billion dollars.
 
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#2 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:12 AM

US Refuses To Attend Afghanistan Peace Conference In Moscow
 
AFGHANISTAN, INSURGENCY, NON-ATTENDANCE, INDIA, BAGRAM, TROOPS, REPRESENTATIVES, PAKISTAN, BORDER, MILITARY, PEACE, ISIS, AMERICAN, SOVIET, SOLDIERS, RUSSIA, AFGHAN, ASIA, CONFERENCE, ISLAMIST, CHINA, DEFENSE, MOSCOW, U.S.,
 
 
 
Sunday, Apr 16, 2017
 
 
 
The State Department, in addressing their non-attendance, said as much, insisting that they feel it is "not constructive" for Russia to be allowed to exert influence in Afghanistan.
 
A new conference in Moscow aimed at discussing new ways to get peace talks going between Afghanistan and the Taliban insurgency has representatives from a lot of the regional powers, including Pakistan, China, India, Iran, and most of central Asia. Despite the US having a large number of ground troops in  Afghanistan, and having had them there for 16 years, there will be no American presence at the conference.
 
That's quite an aberration, because even though the US isn't necessarily always on board for peace talks at any given time, they usually at least attend the talks. This move is in no small part reflective of the growing US-Russia tensions, and the US desire not to let Russia play any role in peace there.
 
The State Department, in addressing their non-attendance, said as much, insisting that they feel it is "not constructive" for Russia to be allowed to exert influence in Afghanistan, and that they don't trust the "purpose" of Russia holding such talks.
 
Russia, of course, has made clear repeatedly that they want a resolution in Afghanistan that does not allow ISIS or any other Islamist faction with ambitions beyond the Afghan border establishing a foothold in the country and threatening the former Soviet countries in Central Asia, most of whom have defense pacts with Russia.
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#3 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:16 AM

"The War is Worth Waging": Afghanistan's Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas
 
AFGHANISTAN, AMERICA'S, AFGHAN, UNITED, DOLLAR, WAR, INDUSTRY, CONTROL, COPPER, OIL, DRUG, EARNINGS, WELL, GAS, US-NATO, LITHIUM, TRADE, WEALTH, PROFIT, OPIUM, STATES, HEROIN, ECONOMIC, NATO, AFGHANISTAN'S, TERRORISM, MINERAL, OCCUPATION, U.S., PIPELINE, NARCOTICS, WESTERN, ENERGY, IRON, MILITARY, SOVIET-AFGHAN, SOVIET, MINERALS, DOLLARS, ECONOMY, DEPOSITS, UNTAPPED, MINING, ORE, INVASION, PENTAGON, FORCES, GEOLOGICAL, SURVEYS,
 
 
 
 
March 25, 2017
 
 
 
 
 
The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven "Resource War"
 
 
Author's Note
 
US and NATO forces invaded Afghanistan more than 16 years ago in October 2001. It's has been a continuous war marked by US military occupation.
 
The justification is "counterterrorism".  Afghanistan is defined as a state sponsor of terrorism, allegedly responsible for attacking America on September 11, 2001. 
 
The war on Afghanistan continues to be heralded as a war of retribution in response to the 9/11 attacks. US troops are still present and deployed in Afghanistan.
 
original
 
The legal argument used by Washington and NATO to invade and occupy Afghanistan under "the doctrine of collective security" was that the September 11 2001 attacks constituted an undeclared "armed attack" "from abroad" by an unnamed foreign power, namely Afghanistan. 
 
Yet there were no Afghan fighter planes in the skies of New York on the morning of September 11, 2001. 
 
This article, first published in June 2010, points to the "real economic reasons"  why US-NATO forces invaded Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11.  
 
Under the Afghan-US security pact,  established under Obama's Asian pivot, Washington and its NATO partners have established a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, with military facilities located within proximity of China's Western frontier.  The pact was intended to allow the US to maintain their nine permanent military bases, strategically located on the borders of  China, Pakistan and Iran as well as Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
 
In recent developments, President Trump in his February 28, 2017 address to a joint session of  Congress vowed to "demolish and destroy" terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq as well as in Afghanistan under a fake counter-terrorism mandate.
 
According to Foreign Affairs, "there are more U.S. military forces deployed there [Afghanistan] than to any other active combat zone" and their mandate is to go after the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS (which are supported covertly by US intelligence). 
 
There is both a geopolitical as well as an economic agenda in Afghanistan requiring the permanent presence of US troops.
 
In addition to its vast mineral and gas reserves, Afghanistan produces more than 90 percent of the World's supply of opium which is used to produce grade 4 heroin.
 
US military bases in Afghanistan are also intent upon protecting the multibillion narcotics trade.  Narcotics, at present, constitutes the centerpiece of Afghanistan's export economy.
 
The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.
 
"The highest concentration of NATO servicemen in Afghanistan is being accompanied with the highest concentration of opium poppy, ….  That situation causes doubts about the anti-terrorist mission and leads to the conclusion about catastrophic consequences of the eight-year stay [of coalition forces] in Afghanistan," (Russia's Federal Drug Control Service head Viktor Ivanov, January 2010)
 
Michel Chossudovsky,  March 25, 2017
 
*      *      *
 
"The War is Worth Waging": Afghanistan's Vast Reserves of Minerals and Natural Gas
 
The War on Afghanistan is a Profit driven "Resource War".
 
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
 
October 2010
 
The 2001 bombing and invasion of Afghanistan has been presented to World public opinion as a "Just War", a war directed against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, a war to eliminate "Islamic terrorism" and instate Western style democracy.
 
The economic dimensions of  the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT) are rarely mentioned. The post 9/11 "counter-terrorism campaign" has served to obfuscate the real objectives of the US-NATO war.
 
The war on Afghanistan is part of a profit driven agenda: a war of economic conquest and plunder,  "a resource war".
 
While Afghanistan is acknowledged as a strategic hub in Central Asia, bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran, at the crossroads of pipeline routes and major oil and gas reserves, its huge mineral wealth as well as its untapped natural gas reserves have remained, until June 2010, totally unknown to the American public.
 
According to a joint report by the Pentagon, the US Geological Survey (USGS) and USAID, Afghanistan is now said to possess "previously unknown" and untapped mineral reserves, estimated authoritatively to be of the order of one trillion dollars (New York Times, U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, See also BBC, 14 June 2010).
 
"The previously unknown deposits - including huge veins of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium - are so big and include so many minerals that are essential to modern industry that Afghanistan could eventually be transformed into one of the most important mining centers in the world, the United States officials believe.
 
An internal Pentagon memo, for example, states that Afghanistan could become the "Saudi Arabia of lithium," a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys.
 
The vast scale of Afghanistan's mineral wealth was discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists. The Afghan government and President Hamid Karzai were recently briefed, American officials said.
 
While it could take many years to develop a mining industry, the potential is so great that officials and executives in the industry believe it could attract heavy investment even before mines are profitable, providing the possibility of jobs that could distract from generations of war.
 
"There is stunning potential here," Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the United States Central Command, said… "There are a lot of ifs, of course, but I think potentially it is hugely significant."
 
The value of the newly discovered mineral deposits dwarfs the size of Afghanistan's existing war-bedraggled economy, which is based largely on opium production and narcotics trafficking as well as aid from the United States and other industrialized countries. Afghanistan's gross domestic product is only about $12 billion.
 
"This will become the backbone of the Afghan economy," said Jalil Jumriany, an adviser to the Afghan minister of mines. (New York Times, op. cit.)
 
Afghanistan could become, according to The New York Times "the Saudi Arabia of lithium". "Lithium is an increasingly vital resource, used in batteries for everything from mobile phones to laptops and key to the future of the electric car." At present Chile, Australia, China and Argentina are the main suppliers of lithium to the world market. Bolivia and Chile are the countries with the largest known reserves of lithium. "The Pentagon has been conducting ground surveys in western Afghanistan. "Pentagon officials said that their initial analysis at one location in Ghazni province showed the potential for lithium deposits as large as those of Bolivia" (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan - NYTimes.com, June 14, 2010, see also Lithium - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
 
"Previously Unknown Deposits" of Minerals in Afghanistan
 
The Pentagon's near one trillion dollar "estimate" of previously "unknown deposits" is a useful smokescreen. The Pentagon one trillion dollar figure is more a trumped up number rather than an estimate:  "We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today's dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy." (The Sunday Times, London, June 15 2010, emphasis added)
 
Moreover, the results of a US Geological Survey study (quoted in the Pentagon memo) on Afghanistan's mineral wealth were revealed three years back, at a 2007 Conference organized by the Afghan-American Chamber of Commerce. The matter of Afghanistan's mineral riches, however, was not considered newsworthy at the time.
 
The US Administration's acknowledgment that it first took cognizance of Afghanistan's vast mineral wealth  following the release of the USGS 2007 report is an obvious red herring. Afghanistan's mineral wealth and energy resources (including natural gas) were known to both America's business elites and the US government prior to the Soviet-Afghan war (1979-1988).
 
Geological surveys conducted by the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early 1980s confirm the existence of  vast reserves of copper (among the largest in Eurasia), iron, high grade chrome ore, uranium, beryl, barite, lead, zinc, fluorspar, bauxite, lithium, tantalum, emeralds, gold and silver.(Afghanistan, Mining Annual Review, The Mining Journal,  June, 1984). These surveys suggest that the actual value of these reserves could indeed be substantially larger than the one trillion dollars "estimate" intimated by the Pentagon-USCG-USAID study.
 
More recently, in a 2002 report, the Kremlin confirmed what was already known: "It's no secret that Afghanistan possesses rich reserves, in particular of copper at the Aynak deposit, iron ore in Khojagek, uranium, polymetalic ore, oil and gas," (RIA Novosti, January 6, 2002):
 
"Afghanistan has never been anyone's colony - no foreigner had ever "dug" here before the 1950s. The Hindu Kush mountains, stretching, together with their foothills, over a vast area in Afghanistan, are where the minerals lie. Over the past 40 years, several dozen deposits have been discovered in Afghanistan, and most of these discoveries were sensational. They were kept secret, however, but even so certain facts have recently become known.
 
It turns out that Afghanistan possesses reserves of nonferrous and ferrous metals and precious stones, and, if exploited, they would possibly be able to cover even the earnings from the drug industry. The copper deposit in Aynak in the southern Afghan Helmand Province is said to be the largest in the Eurasian continent, and its location (40 km from Kabul) makes it cheap to develop. The iron ore deposit at Hajigak in the central Bamian Province yields ore of an extraordinarily high quality, the reserves of which are estimated to be 500m tonnes. A coal deposit has also been discovered not far from there.
 
Afghanistan is spoken of as a transit country for oil and gas. However, only a very few people know that Soviet specialists discovered huge gas reserves there in the 1960s and built the first gas pipeline in the country to supply gas to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Soviet Union used to receive 2.5 bn cubic metres of Afghan gas annually. During the same period, large deposits of gold, fluorite, barytes and marble onyxes that have a very rare pattern were found.
 
However, the pegmatite fields discovered to the east of Kabul are a real sensation. Rubies, beryllium, emeralds and kunzites and hiddenites that cannot be found anywhere else - the deposits of these precious stones stretch for hundreds of kilometres. Also, the rocks containing the rare metals beryllium, thorium, lithium and tantalum are of strategic importance (they are used in air and spacecraft construction).
 
The war is worth waging. … (Olga Borisova, "Afghanistan - the Emerald Country", Karavan, Almaty, original Russian, translated by BBC News Services, Apr 26, 2002. p. 10, emphasis added.)
 
While public opinion was fed images of a war torn resourceless developing country, the realities are otherwise: Afghanstan is a rich country as confirmed by Soviet era geological surveys.
 
The issue of "previously unknown deposits" sustains a falsehood. It excludes Afghanstan's vast mineral wealth as a justifiable casus belli. It says that the Pentagon only recently became aware that Afghanistan was among the World's most wealthy mineral economies, comparable to The Democratic Republic of the Congo or former Zaire of the Mobutu era. The Soviet geopolitical reports were known. During the Cold War, all this information was known in minute detail:
 
… Extensive Soviet exploration produced superb geological maps and reports that listed more than 1,400 mineral outcroppings, along with about 70 commercially viable deposits … The Soviet Union subsequently committed more than $650 million for resource exploration and development in Afghanistan, with proposed projects including an oil refinery capable of producing a half-million tons per annum, as well as a smelting complex for the Ainak deposit that was to have produced 1.5 million tons of copper per year. In the wake of the Soviet withdrawal a subsequent World Bank analysis projected that the Ainak copper production alone could eventually capture as much as 2 percent of the annual world market. The country is also blessed with massive coal deposits, one of which, the Hajigak iron deposit, in the Hindu Kush mountain range west of Kabul, is assessed as one of the largest high-grade deposits in the world. (John C. K. Daly,  Analysis: Afghanistan's untapped energy, UPI Energy, October 24, 2008, emphasis added)
 
Afghanistan's Natural Gas
 
Afghanistan is a land bridge. The 2001 U.S. led invasion and occupation of Afghanistan has been analysed by critics of US foreign policy as a means to securing control  over the strategic trans-Afghan transport corridor which links the Caspian sea basin to the Arabian sea.
 
Several trans-Afghan oil and gas pipeline projects have been contemplated including the planned $8.0 billion TAPI pipeline project (Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India) of 1900 km., which would transport Turkmen natural gas across Afghanistan in what is described as a "crucial transit corridor". (See Gary Olson, Afghanistan has never been the 'good and necessary' war; it's about control of oil, The Morning Call, October 1, 2009). Military escalation under the extended Af-Pak war bears a relationship to TAPI. Turkmenistan possesses third largest natural gas reserves after Russia and Iran. Strategic control over the transport routes out of Turkmenistan have been part of Washington's agenda since the collapse of the Soviet union in 1991.
 
What was rarely contemplated in pipeline geopolitics, however, is that Afghanistan is not only adjacent to countries which are rich in oil and natural gas (e.g Turkmenistan), it also possesses within its territory sizeable untapped reserves of natural gas, coal  and oil. Soviet estimates of the 1970s placed "Afghanistan's 'explored' (proved plus probable) gas reserves at about 5  trillion cubic feet. The Hodja-Gugerdag's initial reserves were placed at slightly more than 2 tcf." (See, The Soviet Union to retain influence in Afghanistan, Oil & Gas Journal, May 2, 1988).
 
The US.Energy Information Administration (EIA) acknowledged in 2008 that Afghanistan's natural gas reserves are "substantial":
 
"As northern Afghanistan is a 'southward extension of Central Asia's highly prolific, natural gas-prone Amu Darya Basin,' Afghanistan 'has proven, probable and possible natural gas reserves of about 5 trillion cubic feet.' (UPI, John C.K. Daly, Analysis: Afghanistan's untapped energy, October 24, 2008)
 
From the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979, Washington's objective has been to sustain a geopolitical foothold in Central Asia.
 
The Golden Crescent Drug Trade
 
America's covert war, namely its support to the Mujahideen "Freedom fighters" (aka Al Qaeda) was also geared towards the development of the Golden Crescent trade in opiates, which was used by US intelligence to fund the insurgency directed against the Soviets.1
 
Instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war and protected by the CIA, the drug trade developed over the years into a highly lucrative multibillion undertaking. It was the cornerstone of America's covert war in the 1980s. Today, under US-NATO military occupation, the drug trade generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America's War on Terrorism, Global Research, Montreal, 2005, see also Michel Chossudovsky, Heroin is "Good for Your Health": Occupation Forces support Afghan Narcotics Trade, Global Research, April 29, 2007)
 
Towards an Economy of Plunder
 
The US media, in chorus, has upheld the "recent discovery" of Afghanistan's mineral wealth as "a solution" to the development of the country's war torn economy as well as a means to eliminating poverty. The 2001 US-NATO invasion and occupation has set the stage for their appropriation by Western mining and energy conglomerates.
 
The war on Afghanistan is  a profit driven "resource war".
 
Under US and allied occupation, this mineral wealth is slated to be plundered, once the country has been pacified, by a handful of multinational mining conglomerates. According to Olga Borisova, writing in the months following the October 2001 invasion, the US-led "war on terrorism [will be transformed] into a colonial policy of influencing a fabulously wealthy country." (Borisova, op cit).
 
Part of the US-NATO agenda is also to eventually take possession of Afghanistan's reserves of natural gas, as well as prevent the development of competing Russian, Iranian and Chinese energy interests in Afghanistan.
 
Note
 
1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan's export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.
 
Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan  has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually.
 
In contrast with the Worldwide sales of heroin resulting from the trade in Afghan opiates, in excess of $200 billion. (See Michel Chossudovsky, America's War on Terrorism", Global Research, Montreal, 2005)
 

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#4 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:19 AM

Activities of "unidentified" aircraft in Afghanistan
 
AFGHANISTAN, NATO, APPROVED, UNIDENTIFIED, MEDIA, REPORTS, SUPPLIES, U.S., RUSSIA, HELICOPTERS, SPOTTED, ANTI-RUSSIA, WEAPONS, TALIBAN, AIR-DROPPING, IDENTITY, AFGHAN, MILITANTS, ISIS, UNMARKED, TERRORISTS, FLYING,
 
 
30 MAY 2017 
 
We would like to draw attention to reports, which are received regularly, of "unidentified" aircraft that have been seen providing support to local ISIS militants in various parts of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (IRA).
 
In particular, this month, according to Jowzjan Province authorities, unmarked aircraft were spotted air-dropping consignments of weapons and other supplies to ISIS groups in at least three northern provinces of Afghanistan (Jowzjan, Faryab and Sar-e Pol).
 
A representative of the Province of Gazni council in southern Afghanistan spoke publicly about the presence of unmarked helicopters in areas controlled by terrorists in the Waghaz and Khogyani districts.
 
It is noteworthy that even amidst an anti-Russia campaign in some Afghan and Western media that aim to accuse Russia of supporting the Taliban, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and US Defence Intelligence Agency Chief Vincent Stewart said they had no evidence to corroborate these allegations.
 
This begs the logical question that has to be put to the above NATO and US officials: what do they know about the identity of these so-called unidentified aircraft flying over Afghanistan, a country where a US and NATO military contingent has already been deployed for over 15 years and where the Afghan Air Force faces persistent shortages of fully functioning aircraft and skilled pilots?
 
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#5 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:23 AM

US turned blind eye to terrorist sanctuaries: Karzai
 
 
 
18 October 2016.
 
 
 
 
KABUL: Former President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, said the United States has turned a blind eye to terrorist sanctuaries beyond Afghan frontiers.
 
In an interview with Sophie Shevardnadze, a correspondent for the television network RT, the former Afghan president said that Afghanistan is insecure, the Taliban have gained more territory, foreign interferences have increased in the country, but the US and its allies have failed to improve security in Afghanistan and help the Afghan peace process.
 
Following is the transcript of his interview with the RT.
 
Sophie Shevardnadze: The former President of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, welcome to the show, it's always great to have you with us. So, Mr. Karzai, the Americans have been fighting in Afghanistan for 15 years now - is their presence a curse or a blessing for your country?
 
Hamid Karzai: In the beginning, the arrival of the Americans in 2001, together with the rest of international community, Russia included in support of it - was a blessing. We were liberated from a creeping invasion by a neighboring country and the Afghan people joined hands and we did very well. But subsequent to that liberation, within a few years what was then called the "War on Terror", unfortunately, was not conducted properly, nor was it conducted in the right place. The Afghan people were made the victims and that's how things changed wrong. Today, as you see, things are not happy in Afghanistan, we have tremendous insecurity, so today, as far as security is concerned, and the campaign against extremism is concerned, we are unhappy.
 
SS: Americans came in with the aim of defeating the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and to build a new Afghan state. 850 billion dollars and tens of thousands of lives later - the Taliban are alive, al-Qaeda is also doing well, and there's no end to the war in sight. Why is the Afghan state still relying on America to survive?
 
HK: You're right. Afghanistan is not secure, the Taliban have taken more territory, interferences have increased in Afghanistan, so as for the mission for the security and peace in Afghanistan was concerned, by the U.S. and its allies, that has failed. And that is why it is now time for the U.S. to explain its situation in Afghanistan and call it what is: a failure, unfortunately, on the security front, and seek help from our big neighbors, Russia, China, India and Iran, and find ways of addressing the issue of radicalism together with these countries, because Russia too is affected, because China too is affected, because India is affected as well, and because Iran is an important neighbor of Afghanistan. We also have to factor in Pakistan here, and engage with them in a manner that will bring us an ease in campaign extremism. Other than that, this will be an ongoing tragedy for the Afghan people, where Afghans will keep losing lives, which isn't, of course, acceptable any longer to the Afghan people.
 
SS: But also, looking at it from the American side, Obama argued that the U.S. needs to continue its presence in Afghanistan after "all the blood and treasure we've invested in Afghanistan over the years", that's his quote - but if the American strategy in Afghanistan isn't working, why is Washington sticking with it?
 
HK: Where the U.S. taxpayer's money, the help of the American people has been a contribution to the betterment of life in Afghanistan, we're very grateful. Where that money has brought us schools and roads and reconstruction and a better standard of living - we are grateful and we understand and we appreciate it, and have expressed gratefulness repeatedly. That is one side of the picture. The other side of the picture, the more important one, as far as the Americans are concerned and the Afghan people are concerned - the reason they're concerned is the campaign against extremism and terrorism and the bringing of security to Afghanistan and peace to its people. That has not happened. That is a failure, and we cannot deny it. It's impossible to deny it because we see it, clearly, confronting us. Therefore, my advice to the U.S. has been to reconsider their approach to this campaign and to admit the truth and to seek help. The moment they do that with the Afghan people, in a sincere, frank way, and the moment they do that with Russia and with other neighbors, we will see a change towards improvement. We will, probably, sooner see security and peace rather than later. So that is required. What I meant was that the U.S. must now sit down and admit the mistakes and begin a new course - a change of course is required.
 
SS: But Afghanistan's current government is saying it "doesn't support the reduction of U.S. troops, and their broadened presence is helpful and necessary in combating terrorism." Should American troops just stay in the country indefinitely? Is that what the government is aiming for?
 
HK: As far as the Afghan people are concerned, we want peace. We want stability. We want an end to fighting in Afghanistan, we want an end to the casualties of the Afghan people on a daily basis. And we want a region that's friendly with Afghanistan, that sees Afghanistan as an asset rather than as a growing threat. If the U.S. can provide this for us, alone, with us, the Afghan people, all in consultation and cooperation with the rest of the region, especially Russia - then it's welcome. But if the U.S. presence in Afghanistan will mean for the Afghan people continuity of war, of casualties, of suffering and of worsening regional relations - of course, that's not desirable and we will not seek it.
 
SS: America has spent 60 billion dollars on training and equipping Afghan forces, but the latest Taliban offensive shows they're not fit to oppose the Taliban on their own. In the recent assault on Kunduz, it was reported that some fled without firing a shot. Moreover, in recent months Afghan troops have suffered record casualties. Why such heavy losses… And what has gone wrong for the Americans, why haven't they been able to rebuild your army?
 
HK: A few things. First, the Afghan soldiers defend their country heroically. They sacrifice their lives every day, in all corners of the country. We value that, we appreciate that, but we don't want that to happen. We want our soldiers to live, not to die in their own country. Second, the provision of equipment and weaponry to the Afghan forces is not sufficient. It's not enough to enable them to defend the country. We don't have an air force, we don't have a radar, we don't have any of the things that we had before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and during that time, when the Soviet Union was here and was providing significant, important military equipment and materials to the Afghan forces. It's now a major conflict and during a major conflict of this sort, when there are thousands of people on the other side as well, it's difficult to cope for a long time. Therefore, we seek a correction in the manner, in the way, in the policies, in the tactics and the strategy that is being pursued in the fight against radicalism, because the sources of this conflict are not in Afghanistan, they are outside of Afghanistan, and the U.S. has been ignoring that four years in spite of our repeated calls to them and repeated pleas with them. They must go to the sanctuaries, they must go to the training grounds, they must go to the motivational factors, they must go to where the financial resources are coming to extremism - and that is beyond Afghanistan. The U.S. did not do that. Rather, the U.S, as if it played both sides, they provided us and they provided those who are supporting extremism, beyond our borders, and more specifically, and unfortunately, our neighbours in Pakistan. Therefore, no matter how brave, how willing to sacrifice the Afghan people will be and our troops will be - we will not win unless the sources to the promotion of extremism and terrorism are dried up outside of Afghanistan. That the U.S. has not done and that is our major, major complaint in this whole saga of the Afghan trouble and misfortune in the past 7 years.
 
SS: American troops are not only aiding and advising their Afghan counterparts, they have now been tasked with accompanying them on ground and air operations targeting the Taliban - will America expand its mandate even further? Will increased involvement be enough to make a difference?
 
HK: Sophie, you know that I have been against that when I was the President. I stopped the U.S. from bombing our country, from carrying air raids on our villages, and I did not want the participation of their troops in combat in our country. Afghanistan can only be defended by the Afghan people and through our own sacrifice and hard work. U.S. bombardment of villages has caused us immense casualties, immense destruction. There's right now a girl in the United States, who's now 8 years of age, whom  four and a half years ago… whose entire family was bombed in pursuit of an unknown target. An entire family of 14 people, and she was left without a face. I went to see to see her in a hospital, then. She had no face! She was blinded! She had no arm, her hand was cut-off. That is not acceptable, and the U.S. must stop bombing Afghanistan, if they want to win in Afghanistan. The military pursuit of the kind they're carrying on has failed, and will not succeed.
 
SS: The horrors of war and the consequences of war are always terrible and unfortunate, but here the question is:  if the Taliban are winning a battle, is it better to let go, to retreat, or maybe have the Americans bomb them?
 
HK: Bombing will not get us free, bombing will not secure our country, bombing will add to the complexities of the problem and to the extent of the problem. It has not helped, it will alienate the Afghan people. That alienation, that suffering will cause more uprisings against us, and more trouble in Afghanistan. Therefore, there are only two ways. One: the U.S. - I must repeat myself - must admit that there were mistakes made of a very gross kind, of a very gross nature, and a course correction must be undertaken now…
 
SS: What about the Taliban that's winning the battle?
 
HK: The Taliban.. Those that are part of the Afghan people, those who are from this country, those who are sons of this soil, they must come back to Afghanistan and seek peace here, and they must be freed from the influences on them by foreign intelligence agencies beyond our border, namely Pakistan. So, they must free themselves, they must behave as Afghans and Afghan patriots and come to the country. There's no other way, you cannot win it by war. Have you won it by war? No! Therefore, to the Taliban who are Afghans we extend a hand of friendship and brotherhood and compatriotism; and to those who are backing them and supporting them and using them… the U.S. and Russia and other countries must join hands and stop that at the source.
 
SS: Mr. Karzai, hundreds of billions of dollars in international aid is spent in Afghanistan - focusing on urban areas, while leaving farmland owners resentful - is that why the Taliban are enjoying successes in the countryside at the moment?
 
HK: Initially, developmental projects and reconstruction were quite evenly spread and we are grateful for the U.S. and its allies for having done that. Schools were built all around the country, clinics were built around the country, roads and lots of other rural developmental projects were implemented, which helped the Afghan people a great deal. But as mistakes were made in the War on Terror, we began to see resentment in Afghan villages and that resentment, of course, led to what we have today. Where the money has been spent on Afghan projects, decided by Afghans - those were successful and worthy. Where they planned their own projects and implemented them themselves, those projects became expensive and ineffective. So, again, while we are grateful, we also feel that it could have been done much better.
 
SS: With unemployment at 25% in Afghanistan, a lot of people turn to opium production as a means of survival. It's also a main source of funding for the Taliban insurgency. Does the Afghan govt have the resources to defeat the opium battle on its own today?
 
HK: No. No. Not at all - because it isn't, in its essence, an Afghan problem. It is not. It's the result of Afghan desperation and hopelessness for more than 30 years. It's because the Afghans could not tend their fields, it's because the irrigation systems were destroyed, it's because of all other factors that affect a society negatively - and the overpowering presence of the international mafia and its trade. Therefore Afghanistan is not able at all to cope with this alone and also, I must say, there has not been a real, sincere effort by the international community in this regard. The money that came from the West, from the U.S., was misspent on firms, on private security firms and on NGOs who either did not or were not interested in solving the problem.
 
SS: Poppy cultivation flourished after the start of the war in 2001 - with NATO troops refusing to fight it for fear of alienating the Afghan population. What is more harmful at the end of the day, in the long term - the Taliban or the drug trade?
 
HK: Well the Taliban is a part of the Afghan people. I hope they will recognize that they belong to Afghanistan and it's their country and they should not hurt their own country, that they should come and live with the rest of the Afghan people, and accept that people will have different points of view and different ways of living and recognize that and live with their own countrymen. But poppies, of course, is a curse, in a very significant way and it hurts the Afghan people, it hurts our economy, it hurts our agriculture, our way of life, and it also hurts you and Russia. I know that, much of it comes towards Russia. Therefore, I hope Russia will step in more effectively, not only over poppies, but also over other issues in Afghanistan. This morning, I saw the statement by President Putin in India, where he expressed his willingness to cooperate more with India on Afghanistan in a more deep and strategic way. I think that will be significant for Afghanistan, such a cooperation between India and Russia is definitely going to be a factor of stability in Afghanistan, and that is what I am going to recommend and seek and ask for.
 
SS: It's no secret that Afghanistan needs to negotiate peace with the Taliban - you've said it time and again that the Taliban has to be part of a political settlement, part of the government - what's standing in the way of that now? Why isn't the Taliban at the negotiating table?
 
HK: Lack of interest in the U.S. and in Pakistan. In my view, these are the two main factors preventing peace in Afghanistan. They were, definitely, during my time in government.
 
SS: The Taliban overran the provincial capital of Kunduz for the second time this year, and it's threatening several other capitals - why is this happening again? Is the Taliban hoping to win on the battlefield to rule the country?
 
HK: I don't think the Taliban will be able to bring themselves to governing Afghanistan again, no. They have shown their ability to take provinces and to take provincial capitals, like in Kunduz, with, unfortunately, heavy losses for the Afghan people, for the civilians and for the population as a result of the conflict and fighting there. But they are  part of Afghanistan and they are a significant part of Afghanistan and they are welcome to participate in the Afghan Constitution, in politics, in governance - and they have the rights of all Afghan citizens. We hope they will understand and enjoy that right. But they will not be able to take over the country or govern alone, no. The scene has changed in Afghanistan, this country has to be the country for all Afghans and the opportunity for all in this country must be there and that is the fact right now. So, no, they will not be able to rule alone.
 
SS: An American drone strike in Pakistan killed Taliban leader - Mullah Mansour. His successor, now, is someone more radical. Has this drone strike actually complicated the path to peace?
 
HK: Well, we don't know the circumstances of the killing of Mr. Mansour. That's what the Americans say, that's what some Pakistani said… But, Mawlawi Haibatullah, the new Taliban leader is definitely more accepted by the Taliban than the previous arrangement, and we hope he will recognize as an Afghan that there's a lot of Afghan bloodshed for the interests of foreign powers, and that we as Afghans must get together and protect our country and not allow foreign interests to shed our blood for the pursuit of other interests.
 
SS: Yeah, but the question here is - how has the drone strike affected the peace process? I wonder if the Americans keep on killing Taliban leaders, until someone who wants to negotiate steps up? What do you think? Maybe if they kill this leader too, then the next one is going to be less radical?
 
HK: That's an open-ended question. We will never know an answer to that. We cannot affirmatively say that 'yes', the drone strikes will one day force the Taliban to come to negotiations. It has been the other way around so far. Violent actions against them have brought more violence, so, no, I my view, that is not the way to seek peace. No. At it has been proven.
 
SS: Okay. In any peace deal, one of the major factor is the position of Pakistan -  and you think Pakistan can force the Taliban to negotiate with Kabul. Why isn't it doing so, does it want the war to go on?
 
HK: Pakistan is a major, major factor, no doubt, and, unfortunately, Pakistan has not played its hand well in Afghanistan. Afghanistan could have been a great friend of Pakistan, and we wanted that friendship to be there. They were seeking other forms of relations with Afghanistan   - one of domination, one of exploitation, one of them determining events in Afghanistan. That, Afghan people will not allow. Also, we must factor in very heavily the U.S. interests in Afghanistan and in the region. I think a combination… I should say, I am sure that the combination of the two, of the U.S. interests in the region and Pakistani interests in Afghanistan and the nature of their relations with India has been determining events in Afghanistan - negatively, unfortunately and we hope that that will turn into positive. Then we will have peace. Other than that, we will not see peace in Afghanistan and the region will, as a result, further destabilize.
 
SS: Mr. Karzai, thank you very much for this interview. As usual, it's great talking to you, we wish you all the best. We were talking to Hamid Karzai, the former President of Afghanistan, discussing the possibility of the peace talks with the Taliban and if Afghan security is still dependent on the presence of American troops in the country.
 
 

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#6 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:26 AM

US playing double game in Afghanistan: Karzai
 
 
 
18 October 2016.
 
 
 
 
Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said the Americans are ignoring to target the terrorists beyond the Afghan borders, accusing the United States for playing double game in Afghanistan, reports foreign media.
 
In interview, Karzai said the Americans are ignoring the pleas by the Afghans to target extremism beyond the Afghan borders, emphasizing that the US should admit it failed its mission to bring peace and security to Afghanistan.
 
Karzai further added that the United States must seek help from the big neighbors of Afghanistan, including Russia, China, India, and Iran and find ways of addressing the issue of radicalism with these countries, insisting that these countries are also affected.
 
According to Karzai, Pakistan should also be engaged in a manner to help ease to compete against extremism. However, he said the US and Pakistan lack interest in stopping Afghan war and stall progress of Afghan peace talks.
 
The former Afghan President also added that Taliban can't be defeated in war and only peace talks can bring the civil strife of the Afghan nation to an end. He said the Afghan people can reconcile with Taliban emphasizing that 'they are Afghans like us but poppy growing is a real curse'.
 
Karzai also warned the Taliban group that they will not be able to overrun the whole country and will manage to seize a few provincial capitals. The other issues the former President pointed were Pakistan's desire dominance in Afghanistan and US drone strikes that prevent in seeking peace and are making Taliban fight harder instead of forcing them to start talks.
 
 

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#7 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:32 AM

U.S. Troops Patrolling Poppy Fields In Afghanistan (Photos)
 
AFGHANISTAN, PHOTOS, PLANTS, ISLAMIC, PHOTO, FORCE, POPPIES, PATROLS, BASE, ARMY, HARVEST, BATTALION, SGT, COMBAT, RAW, INSURGENT, POPPY, MARINES, AFGHAN, ENEMY, U.S., HELMAND, TROOPS, PLATOON, AMERICAN, FARMERS, HEROIN, PATROL, DRUG, OPIUM, GUARD, WEAPONS, FIELD, SOLDIERS, FIELDS,
 
 
 
18 October 2012.
 
 
 
ARE AMERICAN TROOPS PROTECTING AFGHAN OPIUM?
 
 
 
Preface: As many have noted, the U.S. government has - at least at some times in some parts of the world - protected drug operations. (Big American banks also launder money for drug cartels. See this, this, this and this.  Indeed, drug dealers kept the banking system afloat during the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.  But that's beyond the scope of this post.)
 
The U.S. military has openly said that it is protecting Afghani poppy fields:
 
As Wikiepedia notes:
 
Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001.
 
Public Intelligence has published a series of photographs showing American - and U.S.-trained Afghan - troops patrolling poppy fields in Afghanistan.  
 
Public Intelligence informs us that all of the photos are in the public domain, and not subject to copyright, and they assured me that I have every right to reproduce them.
 
We produce these photos and the accompanying descriptions from Public Intelligence without further comment.
 
U.S. Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, patrol through a poppy field during Operation Lariat in the Lui Tal district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 16, 2012. The Marines conducted the operation to disrupt enemy logistics and establish a presence in the area. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ismael E. Ortega/Released)
 
U.S. Marines with Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, patrol through a poppy field on their way to Patrol Base (PB) Mohmon in the Lui Tal district, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 17, 2012. The Marines joined with coalition forces at the PB to begin conducting operations in the area. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ismael E. Ortega/Released)
 
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. John K. Silvernail with Golf Company, 2D Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, takes a knee in a field of poppy during a halt in a security patrol in Musa Qal'eh, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 16, 2012. Marines conducted the patrol to disrupt enemy tactics in the battle space. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Chistopher M. Paulton/Released)
 
An Afghan boy stands watch over his family's poppy and wheat fields as U.S. Marines with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6 patrol by in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan April 24, 2012. Marines conducted the patrol to interact with the local populace and gather information on enemy activity in the area.
 
U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Noel Rodriguez, a team leader with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, communicates with an adjacent squad while on patrol in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012. Marines patrolled to provide security in the area and interact with the local populace.
 
A field filled with opium poppy plants can be seen April 11, 2012, in Marjah, Afghanistan. Heroin is derived from raw opium gum, which comes from opium poppies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Michael P. Snody)
 
A field filled with opium poppy plants can be seen April 11, 2012, in Marjah, Afghanistan. Heroin is derived from raw opium gum, which comes from opium poppies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Michael P. Snody)
 
U.S. Marines with Combined Anti-Armor Team (CAAT), Weapons Company, 2D Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, conduct a satellite patrol through a poppy field in Marjah, Afghanistan, April 16, 2012. CAAT patrolled over a five day period to erect Patrol Base Sledgehammer Four and disrupt insurgent activity in the area. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David A. Perez/Released)
 
Landscape photo of poppy flowers in Habib Abad, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 4, 2012. U.S. Marines and Afghanistan National Army soldiers conducted a patrol to disrupt insurgency activity.
 
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier conducts a satellite patrol, April 17, 2012, Marjah, Afghanistan. The ANA took part of a 5 day operation to erect Patrol Base Sledgehammer 4 to disrupt the insurgence activity in the area. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David A. Perez/Released)
 
Scored poppy plants await the final harvest in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan April 24, 2012. The annual poppy harvest yields the largest profit of the year for local Afghan farmers, ultimately resulting in 90 percent of the world's opium supply.
 
Scored poppy plants await the final harvest in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan April 24, 2012. The annual poppy harvest yields the largest profit of the year for local Afghan farmers, ultimately resulting in 90 percent of the world's opium supply.
 
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Michael Hanley, right, a machine gunner with 2D Squad, 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, patrols through a field of poppy outside of Patrol Base Fires, Helmand province, Afghanistan April 24, 2012. Marines conducted the patrol to interact with the local populace and gather information on enemy activity in the area.
 
An Afghan farmer watches from a poppy field as the 288th Sapper Company, a National Guard Unit out of Houston, Miss., performs a dismounted patrol in the Uzugan province in southern Afghanistan, April 2, 2012. Dismounted patrols, in conjunction with their route clearance missions, have lead to a significant decrease in insurgent activity in the Dorifshan and Baluchi valleys and an increase in not only the safety and security of the coalition and Afghan Security Forces, but also helped the unit form a bond with the local Afghan civilians.
 
An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier provides security during a satellite patrol along a poppy field in Marjah, Afghanistan, April 17, 2012. The ANA took part in a five day partnered operation to erect Patrol Base Sledgehammer Four and disrupt insurgent activity in the area. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David A. Perez/Released)
 
A field filled with opium poppy plants can be seen April 11, 2012, in Marjah, Afghanistan. Heroin is derived from raw opium gum, which comes from opium poppies. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt Michael P. Snody)
 
A U.S. Marine with Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6 walks through a poppy field during a security patrol in Gorazan Valley, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 17, 2012. Marines conducted the patrol in search of suspected enemy fighters. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andrew J. Good)
 
U.S. Marines with Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, conduct a satellite patrol through a poppy field in Marjah, Afghanistan, April 19, 2012. CAAT conducted a five day partnered operation to erect Patrol Base Sledgehammer Four and disrupt insurgent activity in the area. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. David A. Perez)
 
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Nicholas Gonzalez, a machine gunner with 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6, patrols through a poppy field in Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 27, 2012. Marines conducted the patrol to provide security in the area and interact with the local population.
 
PATROL BASE SHARK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - A small girl looks back after receiving a candy bar from a Marine outside the base. The Marines give these small gifts to help gain the trust of young children, who are the future of Afghanistan. The children have become much more receptive to Marines after a decade in the country.
 
PATROL BASE SHARK, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan - Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers patrol through farmlands outside the base recently. Behind the small poppy field in the front of the photo is a wheat field. The local farmers are growing more and more of the wheat as an alternative to growing the illegal poppy.
 
Poppies grow in a field in the Maiwand district, Kandahar province, Afghanistan, May 2, 2011. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Dillon Townsel/Released)
 
An Afghan commando with the Afghan National Army's 3rd Commando Kandak scans the surrounding area for enemy activity during a clearing operation in Maiwand District, May 1, Kandahar province, Afghanistan. The commandos, joined by Navy SEALs team members with Special Operations Task Force - South and members of the Afghan National Civil Order Police, destroyed an IED and recovered IED making materials and a weapons cache during the operation.
 
U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jason Phillips crosses a poppy field as Marines conduct a security patrol outside Forward Operating Base Hanson, Marjah, Afghanistan, April 30, 2011. The security patrol was done in order for Marines to inspect the well being of a nearby village. Phillips is with Guard Force, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Alberto B. Vazquez/Released)
 
Dried out opium poppy plants occupy a field at Khan Neshin, Afghanistan, May 27, 2011. Afghan farmers harvest the scorn poppy bulbs from the plant to produce opium paste. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Charles T. Mabry II/Released)
 
 

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#8 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:34 AM

U.S. pays Afghanistan for soldiers who do not exist
 
 
 
08 October 2016.
 
 
 
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is seeking information from the Pentagon on discrepancies found in the $68 billion in funding between 2002 and now.
 
SIGAR is particularly concerned about the apparent funding of "ghost soldiers" who do not actually exist. Higher ranking military personnel are claimed to have added names to lists of personnel who do not actually exist and then to have embezzled the salaries paid to them. The extent of the practice is not clear. The situation is complicated by the fact that many Afghan recruits just collect their first pay check and then disappear. A rough estimate is that there are tens of thousands of these "ghost soldiers'. In a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter back in August, inspector general John Sopko wrote: "Persistent reports indicating discrepancies between the assigned force strength of the ANDSF and the actual number of personnel serving raise questions regarding whether the U.S. government is taking adequate steps to prevent taxpayer funds from being spent on so-called 'ghost' soldiers."
 
The problem of "ghost soldiers" is not only that the US taxpayer is being bilked of large sums but that the Afghan forces are far fewer than thought. Checkpoints overrun by the Taliban may be overruun because there are actually less defenders at the checkpoint than official data shows.
 
There are not just problems of "ghost soldiers' but of Afghan soldiers going AWOL in the US. Eight Afghan trainees went missing in the US in September. Since 2015, 45 in total have disappeared and become illegal immigrants. One was caught by Canadian authorities trying to enter Canada.
 
SIGAR expressed doubts in a letter to the US Defense Department at what it called "significant gaps between the assigned force strength of the (Afghan National Defense and Security Forces) and the actual number of personnel serving." SIGAR was particularly concerned about the situation in Helmand Province where Afghan forces have been struggling to fend off Taliban attacks. TOLO news service in Afghanistan quoted the incoming Helmand policy chief as claiming that up to half the roughtly 26,000 troops and police officers assigned to the province did not actually exist.
 
Earlier this year, the Associated Press reported that while army, local and national police are said to number about 320,000 that there were likely less than half that number in reality. The Department of Defense(DOD) says several efforts are underway to stop the payment of "ghost soldiers". It claimed there had been person-to-person verification and biometric registration. The DOD said 90 percent of police and 70-80 percent of soldiers had been biometrically enrolled. Next year payment of salaries would go direclty to employees.
 
 

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#9 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:39 AM

Saudis bankroll Taliban, even as King officially supports Afghan government
 
 
 
 
 
09 December 2016.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Fifteen years, half a trillion dollars and 150,000 lives since going to war, the United States is trying to extricate itself from Afghanistan. Afghans are being left to fight their own fight. A surging Taliban insurgency, meanwhile, is flush with a new inflow of money.
 
With their nation's future at stake, Afghan leaders have renewed a plea to one power that may hold the key to whether their country can cling to democracy or succumbs to the Taliban. But that power is not the United States.
 
It is Saudi Arabia.
 
Saudi Arabia is critical because of its unique position in the Afghan conflict: It is on both sides.
 
A longtime ally of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia has backed Islamabad's promotion of the Taliban. Over the years, wealthy Saudi sheikhs and rich philanthropists have also stoked the war by privately financing the insurgents.
 
All the while, Saudi Arabia has officially, if coolly, supported the US mission and the Afghan government and even secretly sued for peace in clandestine negotiations on their behalf.
 
The contradictions are hardly accidental. Rather, they balance conflicting needs within the kingdom, pursued through both official policy and private initiative.
 
The dual tracks allow Saudi officials to plausibly deny official support for the Taliban, even as they have turned a blind eye to private funding of the Taliban and other hard-line Sunni groups.
 
The result is that the Saudis - through private or covert channels - have tacitly supported the Taliban in ways that make the kingdom an indispensable power broker.
 
In interviews with The New York Times, a former Taliban finance minister described how he traveled to Saudi Arabia for years raising cash while ostensibly on pilgrimage.
 
The Taliban have also been allowed to raise millions more by extorting "taxes" by pressing hundreds of thousands of Pashtun guest workers in the kingdom and menacing their families back home, said Vali Nasr, a former State Department adviser.
 
Yet even as private Saudi money backed the Taliban, Saudi intelligence once covertly mediated a peace effort that Taliban officials and others involved described in full to The Times for the first time.
 
Playing multiple sides of the same geopolitical equation is one way the Saudis further their own strategic interests, analysts and officials say.
 
But it also threatens to undermine the fragile democratic advances made by the United States in the past 15 years, and perhaps undo efforts to liberalize the country.
 
The US now finds itself trying to persuade its putative ally to play a constructive rather than destructive role. Meanwhile, the Afghans have come to view Saudi Arabia as both friend and foe.
 
The question now, as Afghan officials look for help, is which Saudi Arabia will they get?
 
Prince Turki al-Faisal, who led the Saudi intelligence agency for over 24 years and later served as ambassador to the United States until his retirement in 2007, rejected any suggestion that Saudi Arabia had ever supported the Taliban.
 
"When I was in government, not a single penny went to the Taliban," he wrote in emailed comments.
 
He added that the "stringent measures taken by the kingdom to prevent any transfer of money to terrorist groups" had been recognized by Daniel L. Glaser, the US assistant secretary for terrorist financing at the Treasury, in testimony to Congress in June.
 
Others say the verdict is still out. "We know there has been this financing that has gone on for years," Mohammad Hanif Atmar, director of the Afghan National Security Council, said in an interview. "This sustains the terrorist war machine in Afghanistan and in the region, and it will have to be stopped."
 
That may be easier said than done. Saudi Arabia remains one of the main sources of what Secretary of State John Kerry recently called "surrogate money" to support Islamist fighters and causes.
 
Much of that largesse is spread about in pursuit of what Nasr describes as a Saudi strategy of building a wall of Sunni radicalism across South and Central Asia to contain Iran, its Shia rival.
 
That competition is being rekindled. With the United States leaving, there is the sense that Afghanistan's fate is up for grabs.
 
In recent months, the Taliban has mounted a coordinated offensive with about 40,000 fighters across eight provinces - a push financed by foreign sources at a cost of $1 billion, Afghan officials say.
 
At the same time, Saudi Arabia is offering the Afghan government substantial defense and development agreements, while Afghans say sheikhs fromSaudi Arabia and other Arab Persian Gulf states are quietly funneling billions in private money to Sunni organizations, madrasas and universities to shape the next generation of Afghans.
 
"The Saudis are re-engaging," said Nasr, now dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in a telephone interview. "Afghanistan is important to them, which is why they invested so much in the 1980s, and they are looking to make themselves much more relevant."
 
Surrogate support
 
The seven-year Taliban theocracy in Afghanistan was coming to a fiery end. It was 2001, and the Taliban government was collapsing under the US bombing unleashed in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks.
 
Disguising himself as a doctor, Agha Jan Motasim, the Taliban finance minister, escaped over a remote border crossing into Pakistan aboard a Red Crescent ambulance, he said in a recent interview.
 
In the Pakistani border town of Quetta, he and other Taliban leaders regrouped and began organizing the insurgency that continues today. Motasim was appointed head of the finance committee.
 
One of his first stops was Saudi Arabia.
 
As home to both enormous oil wealth and Islam's holiest sites, it was the perfect place to make appeals not only to rich Saudi sheikhs and foundations but also to important donors who traveled to the kingdom on pilgrimage from all over the Muslim world.
 
Between 2002 and 2007, Motasim traveled to Saudi Arabia two or three times a year. Ostensibly he went on pilgrimage, but his primary purpose was to raise cash for the Taliban.
 
"There were people coming from other countries for umrah and hajj," he said referring to the different Muslim pilgrimages. "Also the Saudi sheikhs would come as well. I would ask them for their help for the war."
 
"It was not only the Saudis who would help us but people who would come from different countries," he recalled. "Saudi Arabia was the only country where I could meet them."
 
Once secured, the money could be moved in myriad ways to Taliban coffers, officials said, including through regional banks near Pakistan's tribal areas and the hawala system of informal money-changers.
 
Last year, Afghan security forces even discovered families of al-Qaida members entering eastern Afghanistan with a stash of gold bars, Rahmatullah Nabil, the former head of Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, said.
 
The Saudi authorities often say they cannot control or always identify the millions of Muslims who travel to the kingdom every year on the hajj, said Barnett Rubin, who worked as special adviser to the US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
 
The Taliban always traveled on fake Pakistani passports under assumed names and were unknown to Saudi authorities, said a security official in the region, who spoke on condition of strict anonymity, citing the extreme sensitivity to upsetting Saudi Arabia.
 
US requests to cut the funding yielded little result.
 
In 2009, US officials complained that the Taliban and other extremist groups were raising millions of dollars during annual pilgrimages, according to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
 
A December 2009 cable from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that donors in Saudi Arabia constituted the "most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide."
 
The cables date from a period when Richard Holbrooke, who died in 2010, acted as special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and actively sought to curb funding to the Taliban and al-Qaida.
 
The funding from the Gulf extended well beyond that period and to other groups besides the Taliban, including the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
 
In a leaked email from 2014, Clinton described the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia as "providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region."
 
Financing such groups, she wrote, was part of a contest between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who were in "ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world."
 
Covert peace efforts
 
It was September 2008, the holy month of Ramadan, and King Abdullah was hosting an iftar dinner in Mecca. But this was no routine breaking of the fast at sunset.
 
The feast was an important signal of the king's personal support for a covert yet still evolving peace effort. Among the dozens of guests were Afghan officials and elders, as well as former Taliban members.
 
Within months, at a more discreet venue in the Red Sea port of Jiddah, the Saudi intelligence agency convened Afghanistan's chief adversaries to hash out a peace deal.
 
Motasim, the Taliban finance minister, the same man who had been collecting money for the insurgency, was named by the Taliban leadership as its representative.
 
 
 
 
CONTINUED AT
 
 

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#10 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:42 AM

Putin: Situation in Afghanistan Concerning, Decisive Actions Needed
 
 
13 October 2016.
 
 
President Vladimir Putin told Sputnik that the developments in Afghanistan still raise concern and require decisive actions.
 
The situation in Afghanistan is concerning, decisive actions are needed to defeat terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Sputnik and the IANS news agency. "The situation on the territory between India and Russia remains tense. In particular, the developments in Afghanistan still raise concern. Decisive actions are required to help that country in dealing with such challenges and threats as terrorism, extremism, and illicit drug trafficking," Putin said.
 
The president stressed that Moscow and New Delhi shared the need for supporting "national reconciliation efforts" under the international law and were interested in deepening constructive multilateral cooperation to support Afghanistan in solving the issues of national security, building counter-narcotics capacity, ensuring social and economic development, and enhancing interconnectivity. "In more general terms, our country is willing to develop such formats of interaction in the above-mentioned region that would allow responding swiftly to emerging security challenges, jointly seeking for ways to address potential threats," Putin added. 
 

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#11 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 09:46 AM

Losing hearts and minds - the failed drug war in Afghanistan
 
 
 
7 November 2016
 
 
 
This week, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that opium production in Afghanistan rose by 43 per cent in 2016.
 
Afghanistan's soaring drug production is occurring not in spite of our best efforts but because of them.
 
The report is disturbing on many levels. But it is especially disturbing considering the billions of dollars the US government has thrown into Afghanistan attempting to eliminate poppy production.
 
Since 2002, the US has spent a staggering $12 billion trying to eliminate opium production in Afghanistan, a number four times the size of the entire economy in 2002.
 
Despite having the best of intentions and more money at its disposal than ever before, the US has been completely unable to stem this tidal wave of poppy production. According to Al Jazeera, Afghanistan now produces more than 80 per cent of the world's illicit opium, the vast majority of which is used to produce heroin.
 
Unintended but predictable consequences
 
Nearly 15 years after the war on terror in Afghanistan and the associated war on opium were launched, the blowback from this failed drug war is finally starting to hit home. According to The New York Times, heroin has become one of the fastest-growing illicit drugs in the US, particularly among working-class whites.
 
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), heroin use in the US tripled between 2007 and 2014. Heroin-induced deaths have soared from 3,036 in 2010 to 10,574 in 2014. The vast majority of the heroin that has snuck across the border is coming from Afghanistan.
 
"We tend to overuse words such as 'unprecedented' and 'horrific,' but the death and destruction connected to heroin and opioids is indeed unprecedented and horrific," says acting DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg.
 
One of the best ways to avoid these horrific outcomes at home is to get to the source of why opium production is skyrocketing abroad. And the sobering reality is that in many cases Afghanistan's soaring drug production is occurring not so much in spite of our best efforts but because of them.
 
The US has tried a variety of approaches in this drug war ranging from paying farmers to reduce their acres cultivated, engaging in interdiction efforts against drug traffickers and drug lords, and outright eradication efforts backed by US boots on the ground.
 
In my recent paper with Christopher J. Coyne and Abigail Hall-Blanco, we show that these policies have generated a number of perverse unintended consequences.
 
One of our core arguments is that the continual shifts in the US's drug policy strategy has undermined stability in the region, contributing to what the economist Robert Higgs has termed "regime uncertainty".
 
Over the course of the past 15 years, the US has pursued a dizzying number of conflicting strategies: arming then de-arming powerful drug lords, allowing and then eradicating opium production by poor farmers, pushing for local autonomy then supporting centralised government control over eradication, etc.
 
The result of these haphazard policies is a country that is in shambles and a local population that is highly suspicious of US "aid".
 
The drug war has also served to cartelise the opium industry into a few powerful hands. This has allowed black market actors who specialise in using violence - namely, the Taliban - to offer their protection services to farmers and traffickers and reap enormous profits.
 
Paradoxically, these profits are being used to finance arms purchases that go to fighting US-backed forces in charge of implementing the drug prohibition.
 
The US has also effectively criminalised millions of ordinary Afghan citizens who rely on opium for their livelihood. This has spurred distrust and resentment amongst the very populations whose "hearts and minds" it so desperately sought to win, pushing them into the waiting hands of the Taliban.
 
Thanks to the cartelisation of the drug industry and the rising insurgency, the drug war has incited enormous violence. Violence and terrorism have risen most sharply in regions where opium is produced and eradication efforts have been tried most forcefully.
 
A final consequence of the drug war is that it has created a hotbed of corruption in the Afghan government. As the economics of prohibition literature makes clear, making products "illegal" invites corruption by creating bribery opportunities for crooked politicians who want a slice of the drug trade profit.
 
The fact that dozens of US-supported leaders have been charged with corruption has only served to undermine the government's credibility.
 
What unites all of these perverse consequences is that, had US policymakers learned the lessons that economists had observed from the failure of alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, and our failed international war on drugs today, they could've avoided this tragic yet predictable outcome.
 
Moving forward, politicians need to recognise the limits of US power and the perverse consequences that these well-intentioned but misguided policies create.
 
If we want to make true progress in this and other drug wars, policymakers need to rely less on prohibition and more on providing treatment and public information. It's true the heroin epidemic is an urgent problem. But as the economics of prohibition tells us, it is a problem that prohibition only makes worse.
 
 

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#12 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 10:00 AM

Fifteen Years Into the Afghan War, Do Americans Know the Truth?
 
 
 
10 October 2016.
 
 
 
Last week marked the fifteenth anniversary of the US invasion of Afghanistan, the longest war in US history. There weren't any victory parades or photo-ops with Afghanistan's post-liberation leaders. That is because the war is ongoing. In fact, 15 years after launching a war against Afghanistan's Taliban government in retaliation for an attack by Saudi-backed al-Qaeda, the US-backed forces are steadily losing territory back to the Taliban.
 
What President Obama called "the good war" before took office in 2008, has become the "forgotten war" some eight years later. How many Americans know that we still have nearly 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan? Do any Americans know that the Taliban was never defeated, but now holds more ground in Afghanistan than at any point since 2001? Do they know the Taliban overran the provincial capital of Kunduz last week for a second time in a year and they threaten several other provincial capitals?
 
Do Americans know that we are still wasting billions on "reconstruction" and other projects in Afghanistan that are, at best, boondoggles? According to a recent audit by the independent US government body overseeing Afghan reconstruction, half a billion dollars was wasted on a contract for a US company to maintain Afghan military vehicles. The contractor "fail[ed] to meet program objectives," the audit found. Of course they still got paid, like thousands of others getting rich off of this failed war.
 
Do Americans know that their government has spent at least $60 billion to train and equip Afghan security forces, yet these forces are still not capable of fighting on their own against the Taliban? We recently learned that an unknown but not insignificant number of those troops brought to the US for training have deserted and are living illegally somewhere in the US. In the recent Taliban attack on Kunduz, it was reported that thousands of Afghan security personnel fled without firing a shot.
 
According to a recent study by Brown University, the direct costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars thus far are nearly five trillion dollars. The indirect costs are virtually incalculable.
 
Perhaps Afghanistan is the "forgotten war" because to mention it would reveal how schizophrenic is US foreign policy. After all, we have been fighting for 15 years in Afghanistan in the name of defeating al-Qaeda, while we are directly and indirectly assisting a franchise of al-Qaeda to overthrow the Syrian government. How many Americans would applaud such a foreign policy? If they only knew, but thanks to a media only interested in promoting Washington's propaganda, far too many Americans don't know.
 
I have written several of these columns on the various anniversaries of the Afghan (and Iraq) wars, pointing out that the wars are ongoing and that the result of the wars has been less stable countries, a less stable region, a devastated local population, and an increasing probability of more blowback. I would be very happy to never have to write one of these again. We should just march home.
 
 

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#13 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 10:03 AM

Afghanistan in numbers, 15 years after US invasion
 
 
 
07 October 2016.
 
 
 
Nearly a month after the September 11 attacks that killed 3,000 people, the US launched its first major salvo in the "war on terror" by invading Afghanistan -- where, 15 years on, thousands continue to die each year.
 
Afghanistan, which the US invaded on October 7, 2001 in a bid to topple Al-Qaeda hosts the Taliban, has become Washington's longest military intervention since Vietnam -- and the most costly, now crossing $100 billion.
 
The country remains wracked by insecurity as the resurgent Taliban dealt Afghan forces serious blows in 2015, the first year they led security operations in Afghanistan, taking over from NATO.
 
The militants continue to launch repeated attacks on urban centres, including an assault this week on the strategic northern city of Kunduz, while the capital Kabul is often rocked by bomb blasts. US military officials recently described the situation as a "stalemate".
 
The Taliban threat forced President Barack Obama to slow plans to draw down US troop numbers at the end of this year. Some 8,400 will remain in the war-torn country in 2017, compared with 5,500 initially planned.
 
Here are some other key numbers charting the 15 years since the US invasion:
 
Civilians killed
 
-- A record 5,100 civilian casualties, including 1,600 deaths were recorded in the first half of 2016 according to the United Nations.
 
The previous year saw 11,000 deaths and injuries from attacks, mines and fighting between insurgents and government and foreign forces, which has spread to 31 of the country's 34 provinces.
 
But the true human cost of these 15 years is impossible to establish because deaths of Afghans in the war's early years were not recorded. Since 2009, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has recorded 23,000 deaths and 41,000 wounded.
 
Foreign troops
 
Civilian casualties in Afghanistan
 
, AFP
 
-- The foreign military presence peaked at 150,000 deployed soldiers in 2012, of whom 100,000 were American. Most NATO troops withdrew from the country at the end of 2014, but Washington decided to keep 8,400 through 2017 to support local forces -- 350,000 soldiers and police, including 18,000 special forces.
 
Losses by country
 
-- Foreign military losses by the end of 2014 amounted to 3,500 killed and 33,000 wounded.
 
The breakdown included 2,400 dead and 20,000 wounded for the US; 453 and 7,500 for Great Britain; 159 and 1,859 for Canada; and 89 and 725 for France -- figures that do not include private security contractors.
 
-- Afghan forces officially lost 5,000 men in 2015 including 3,700 police.
 
The money
 
-- The United States has spent around $110 billion on Afghanistan's reconstruction since 2001, more than the cost of the Marshall Plan that rebuilt a devastated Europe after World War II, but with limited results.
 
Some 80 percent of that sum has landed in "American pockets" according to European observers in the form of military contracts, maintenance tasks and various consultants.
 
Corruption too has swallowed a large part. According to Transparency International, it is to blame for the state "failing to deliver basic services to citizens". The group ranks Afghanistan as the world's third most corrupt state.
 
Unemployment and displacement
 
-- Despite colossal amounts of foreign aid -- international donors at a conference in Brussels on Wednesday pledged $15.2 billion over the next four years -- reconstruction efforts are advancing at slow pace and the unemployment rate exceeds 40 percent, according to the World Bank.
 
There are currently 1.2 million Afghans who are internally displaced, with the figure shooting up in 2013 because of increasing insecurity, according to Amnesty International.
 
Pakistan is hosting some 2.4 million Afghan refugees whom it is pressuring to leave and there are around one million in Iran, estimates say.
 
According to an estimate by the Norwegian Refugee Council and confirmed by authorities, 70 percent of people living in major cities, including Kabul, reside in makeshift camps.
 
 

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#14 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 10:06 AM

Afghan Troops Have Killed More Americans than the Taliban in 2016
 
 
 
31 October 2016.
 
 
 
Men dressed in uniforms of the U.S.-backed Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) have killed more Americans so far this year than the Taliban in what is known as insider or "green on blue" attacks, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), a U.S. watchdog agency.
 
In its latest quarterly report to Congress, SIGAR notes that two U.S. service members were killed and another one wounded in three "green on blue" attacks that occurred between January 1 and mid-August, adding that another U.S. service member and an American civilian were killed in a suspected insider attack in Kabul on October 19. One U.S. service member and two American civilians were wounded that day.
 
If authorities confirm the October 19 incident as an insider attack, it would mean Afghan soldiers killed three of the four U.S. troops killed in combat in Afghanistan as of the end of October.
 
Of the four U.S. combat-related fatalities in Afghanistan so far this year, one has been linked to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) branch in the country and none directly to the Taliban.
 
Some analysts suggests that the "green on blue" attacks are the result of Taliban infiltration of the Afghan security forces. Two of the U.S. service members killed in insider attacks this year were executed in Helmand.
 
SIGAR notes:
 
While [Afghan army] recruits surveyed in December 2015 (21%) and March 2016 (19%) reported the highest percentage of contact with anti-government elements [such as the Taliban], overall 16% of recruits reported being approached by anti-government elements. Anti-government elements are reported to watch for opportunities to influence or compromise ANA [Afghan National Army recruits].
 
Meanwhile, SIGAR reports that the Taliban appears to have captured more territory.
 
The U.S. watchdog agency conceded that the "ANDSF intentionally ceded ground" in areas where its ability to secure territory was limited, including parts of Helmand province, a southern Afghan province that borders Pakistan and has historically been a Taliban stronghold.
 
Helmand, the top opium-producing province in Afghanistan, is one of the deadliest regions for U.S.-led coalition troops fighting in the country. Taliban jihadists use the proceeds from the illegal sale of opium, which is used to make heroin, to fund their terrorist activities.
 
"The overall security situation remained highly volatile as intensive Taliban operations continued, challenging government control in northeastern, northern, and southern provinces, and attempting to cut key supply routes," declares SIGAR.
 
There are 407 districts within the 34 provinces that make up Afghanistan.
 
Citing the U.S. Forces in Afghanistan (USFOR-A), SIGAR reveals that more than "one-third of the country's districts are either under insurgent control [8] or influence [25], or at risk [116] of coming under it."
 
That means 37 percent (149) of the Afghan districts have been deemed by the U.S. military to be under the control or influence of terrorists, primarily the Taliban, or "contested" which refers to districts that have a "negligible meaningful impact from insurgents," notes the watchdog agency.
 
SIGAR learned from the U.S. military that the Afghan government controls (88) or influences (170) about 63 percent of the country's districts, marking a decrease from the 66 percent reported as of the end of May.
 
The majority of insider attack victims have been ANDSF members.
 
"There were 101 insider attacks in which ANDSF personnel turned on fellow ANDSF security forces [since January 2015]… These attacks killed 257 Afghan personnel and wounded 125. Of these attacks, 44 occurred in 2016, killing 120 and wounding 70."
 
The five "green on blue" attacks during all of 2015 killed three U.S. personnel and wounded 14.
 
"Insider attacks during 2015 were also responsible for the death of three of the seven U.S. civilians killed in Afghanistan and one of the nine wounded during this period," notes SIGAR.
 
Although ISIS is operating in Afghanistan, the U.S.-backed Afghan government is primarily losing territory to the Taliban, the most prominent jihadist group in country, believed to be in control of more land now than at any point since the American military removed them in 2001.
 
SIGAR identified deteriorating security conditions as the predominant obstacle facing the social development of Afghan women.
 
The U.S. watchdog agency notes:
 
Afghanistan's lack of security-not only makes it dangerous for women to go to school, work outside the home, and access health services, but also perpetuates social attitudes that women are vulnerable and thus should not leave the home. The second most frequently cited challenge, pervasive corruption, hinders women's ability to compete with men in a male-dominated social environment and has allegedly led to funds intended for women's programs being misspent.
 
Citing the United Nations, the SIGAR reports, "Fifteen years after the United States ousted the Taliban regime, Afghanistan remains one of the worst places in the world to be a woman."
 
Women face the most difficult challenges in the territory under the control or influence of the Taliban.
 
"In these areas, the Taliban seek to punish women who work or study outside the home," points out SIGAR."A number of the women interviewed [by SIGAR] had their lives threatened or had relatives killed by the Taliban."
 
 

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#15 grog

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 10:08 AM

Afghan Opium Production 40 Times Higher since US-NATO Invasion
 
 
 
31 August 2016.
 
 
 
Since the US-led NATO invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the production of opium in the country has increased by 40 times according to Russia's Federal Drug Control Service, fueling organized crime and widespread death.
 
The head of the FSKN, Viktor Ivanov, explained the staggering trend at a March UN conference on drugs in Afghanistan. Opium growth in Afghanistan increased 18 percent from 131, 000 hectares to 154, 000, according to Ivanov's estimates.
 
"Afghan heroin has killed more than one million people worldwide since the 'Operation Enduring Freedom' began and over a trillion dollars has been invested into transnational organized crime from drug sales," said Ivanov, according to TeleSUR news website.
 
Prior to the invasion of Afghanistan, opium production was banned by the Taliban, although it still managed to exist.
 
The US and its allies have been accused of encouraging and aiding in the opium production and the ongoing drug trafficking within the region. Ivanov claimed that only around 1 percent of the total opium yield in Afghanistan was destroyed and that the "international community has failed to curb heroin production in Afghanistan since the start of NATO's operation."
 
Afghanistan is thought to produce more than 90 percent of the world's supply of opium, which is then used to make heroin and other dangerous drugs that are shipped in large quantities all over the world. Opium production provides many Afghan communities with an income, in an otherwise impoverished and war-torn country. The opium trade contributed around $US 2.3 billion or around 19 percent of Afghanistan's GDP in 2009 according to the UN.
 
Around 43 percent of drugs produced in Afghanistan are moved through Pakistan, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
 
Daesh is reported to have recently taken over opium production and trafficking. In November, the extremist group was estimated to be earning over $US 1 billion from the opium trade. Profits also go to international drug cartels and money-laundering banks.
 
 
 

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#16 shaktiman

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Posted 15 August 2017 - 11:53 AM

Outstanding points of fact once again grog

 

Good job!

 

1. The Golden Crescent trade in opiates constitutes, at present, the centerpiece of Afghanistan's export economy. The heroin trade, instated at the outset of the Soviet-Afghan war in 1979 and protected by the CIA, generates cash earnings in Western markets in excess of $200 billion dollars a year.

Since the 2001 invasion, narcotics production in Afghanistan  has increased more than 35 times. In 2009, opium production stood at 6900 tons, compared to less than 200 tons in 2001. In this regard, the multibillion dollar earnings resulting from the Afghan opium production largely occur outside Afghanistan. According to United Nations data, the revenues of the drug trade accruing to the local economy are of the order of 2-3 billion annually.

 

 

I commented on the article as well:

 

"Afghanistan has little or no strategic interest to the US. besides annoying Russia and China. Afghanistan is too costly for the US to maintain. Unless of course those strong Afghani opium poppies are needed. Maybe the turkish poppies aren't enough. Besides who cares how the heroin and opium business harm the world's youth. Certainly America does not care about anything except what they can put into their pockets.. Regards."

 

Sic 'em grog!


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