Saturday, 20 December 2014

France to withdraw last troops from Afghanistan

gulftoday.ae | France to withdraw last troops from Afghanistan
At its height, France deployed some 4,000 soldiers to the Nato force which peaked at over 130,000 troops in 2010. France has not had combat forces in the country since 2012.
A total of 70,000 French soldiers have rotated through Afghanistan, with 89 killed and 700 injured.
The French military has since been involved in training the Afghan army.
“In total, we have contributed to the training of 21,000 officers, non-commissioned officers and specialists,” said a French army spokesman, adding that the Afghan army has increased from 12,000 to 350,000 men since 2002.


Recent Attacks - US Media Take

US Drone Strike Kills Five in Northwest Pakistan

US Drone Strike Kills Five in Northwest Pakistan
"A US drone fired two missiles at a compound in Mada Khail neighbourhood of Datta Khail area in North Waziristan killing five militants. The death toll is expected to rise," a senior security official requesting anonymity told AFP.
The incident was confirmed by local intelligence sources.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan war reach new high in 2014: U.N. | Reuters

Civilian deaths in Afghanistan war reach new high in 2014: U.N. | Reuters
The numbers are a sharp reminder that the Afghan war is far from over, even as a U.S.-led international force formally ends its combat mission at the end of the month, shifting to a supporting role for Afghan forces after 13 years.
"The situation for civilians in Afghanistan is becoming increasingly dire," said Georgette Gagnon, human rights director for the U.N. mission in Kabul.
As of Nov. 30, the United Nations had recorded a total of 3,188 civilian deaths and 6,429 injuries.
That puts 2014 on track to be the first year on record that combined civilian casualties will surpass 10,000.



WikiLeaks Releases Downbeat CIA Appraisal of Strikes in Afghanistan

WikiLeaks Releases Downbeat CIA Appraisal of Strikes in Afghanistan - US News
The internal agency report, released without official permission Thursday by WikiLeaks, analyzed the targeting of insurgent group leaders for capture or assassination by U.S. and other governments in various armed conflicts.
In Afghanistan, where the report said targeting emphasizes lethal attacks, government corruption, “endemic lawlessness” and the “egalitarian Pashtun structures” associated with the Taliban hindered the effectiveness of efforts, the report found.
“Senior Taliban leaders’ use of sanctuary in Pakistan has also complicated the [targeting] effort,” says the report, written by the CIA’s Office of Transnational Issues.


Belgium to close embassies in Afghanistan, Libya

KUNA : Belgium to close embassies in Afghanistan, Libya - Politics - 19/12/2014 
BRUSSELS, Dec 19 (KUNA) -- Belgium will shut down its embassies in Kabul, Tripoli and in several other European and African capitals due to budgetary restraint.
"Structural reforms are needed to enable the Foreign Ministry to continue carrying out its tasks in a context of budgetary restraint. This decision must be seen in the context of a broader effort of rationalisation of the diplomatic network, based on objective studies," Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said in a statement Friday.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Peshawar School Attack - Some Background

Jason Burke with a thoughtful background to the horror attack.

Pakistan Taliban: a brutal tactic from a ragtag group feeling the pressure | World news | The Guardian
Since June, a new and very direct pressure has been applied to the TTP.The Pakistani military finally moved into the North Waziristan tribal agency, where dozens of groups threatening local, regional and international targets were based. The assault was seen as the climax to years of campaigning on the frontier, chasing militants out of successive strongholds.
More than a thousand fighters from the movement are thought to have been killed in the new push, as well as civilians.



Suicide bomber kills policeman, injures three in Kabul

Suicide bomber kills policeman, injures three in Kabul
Police forces were following the attacker’s vehicle on Thursday morning, as they suspected he was trying to enter the city, Hashmat Stanekzai, the spokesman for the Kabul provincial police chief, said.
“A suicide bomber was trying to enter Kabul with the intention of detonating explosives in a crowded part of the city,” Stanekzai said, adding that he blew up the explosives prematurely.



Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Report Confirms Fraud in Afghan Election

The report provides the fullest picture yet at the allegations of fraud that plagued the election, suggesting that more than 2 million votes - or about a quarter of total votes cast - came from polling stations with voting irregularities.
Reports of widespread fraud led to a political crisis pitting the campaigns of Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah against each other after the preliminary results tilted dramatically in favor of Dr Ghani. Link

Pentagon chided over 'imprudent spending' on Afghan gem industry

Pentagon chided over 'imprudent spending' on Afghan gem industry | TheHill

SIGAR received information that the task force sent Afghan jewelers to gem training programs in India, Paris and Milan, Sopko said.

“Despite these expenditures, it is not clear to me that the gem industry programs produced any positive and lasting economic development or increased employment in Afghanistan,” he wrote to Hagel.

SIGAR is now asking the Pentagon to provide the names of officials who oversaw the task force’s spending and approved the programs.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014