Afghanistan: Taliban use of IEDs reaches record high in Afghanistan

The announcement that the mission will finish by Sept 2012, has been probably the cause of this boom in their use:

IED DETONATOR — A U.S. Marine Corps explosive ...

US IED detonator. Image via Wikipedia

The devices have been the insurgents’ preferred weapon for several years, but their use rose 14 per cent year-on-year, in the second quarter of 2011.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) caused the majority of Nato casualties in 2010 and their indiscriminate use has been blamed by the United Nations for contributing to record civilian casualties.

From April to June, 3,845 exploded or were found, according to the Pentagon’s Joint IED Defeat Organisation (JIEDDO). Coaliton killed and wounded from the bombs rose 15 per cent yearly to 1,248 over the same period.

In June, use of roadside bombs was 25 per cent higher than average.

Most of the bombs are of homemade explosive, but attempts to block the import of ammonium nitrate fertiliser used in its manufacture have failed to stop the increase in devices.

via Taliban use of IEDs reaches record high in Afghanistan – Telegraph.

Kosovo: Nato sends more troops after border unrest

Worrying:

Ethnic composition of Kosovo in 2005 according...

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Nato is sending hundreds of extra troops to Kosovo amid rising tension in the north along its border with Serbia.

The military alliance said the situation had not deteriorated but that reinforcements were needed to relieve troops currently patrolling the north.

Soldiers from Nato’s Kosovo Force were deployed after clashes broke out between Kosovo police and ethnic Serbs.The trouble began when the Kosovan government sent ethnic Albanian police to enforce a ban on Serbian imports

.A border post was torched and demolished and a Kosovo policeman killed after Serbian nationalists reacted angrily to their presence.

via BBC News – Nato sends more troops to Kosovo after border unrest. via Report on Arrakis.

Turkey: Top Military chiefs resign

Actually, this is not surprising at all. And so, the last secular Turkish bastion falls and now Erdogan can appoint someone who is more supportive of his view of democracy (1, 2):

Kuleli Military High School

Turkey’s top military officer stepped down from his post Friday, a surprise move that exposed growing tensions between the country’s military and Islamic-leaning government.

Gen. Isik Kosaner, Turkey’s chief of the general staff, retired a year ahead of schedule. His decision came as a shock in Turkey and rattled its currency.

Security analysts widely saw the move as a confirmation that Turkey’s military—the second-largest in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization after the U.S.’s, and long seen as the country’s dominant power—has had its wings clipped amid a lengthy power struggle with the ruling Justice and Development Party. Continue reading

Turkey’s U-turn over Libya: a new Ottomanism?

Ankara’s weeks-long attempts to convince Gadhafi to accept a political solution did not bear any fruit. The dialogue with Tripoli was broken off once Turkey rallied behind the NATO-led military operation, while the hesitant approach toward Benghazi created huge frustration among the Libyan rebels.

In a U-turn triggered by concerns that it would be excluded from shaping a post-Gadhafi Libya, Turkey recognized Benghazi and said it would give $300 million in support for the National Transitional Council.

Turkish officials say the closer engagement with Benghazi aims at reaching peace and stability in Libya and that economic interest are only a secondary issue. Senior diplomat Selim Yenel dismisses claims that Turkey and some Western powers are competing on the future of the country and its economic resources.

“Turkey is pursuing a more active foreign policy. But it would be wrong to describe it as neo-Ottomanism. We never have had such a dream,” Ambassador Yenel told Deutsche Welle. “We are not in competition with anybody. We really want to see stability in Libya. What is important is the end of military conflict, Libya gaining stability and prosperity.”

via Turkey’s U-turn over Libya | World | Deutsche Welle | 14.07.2011.

Libya: EU recognizes rebel council, offers its support

A delegation of Libyan rebels, led by the leader of the National Transitional Council (NTC), has met with NATO and EU officials to discuss the ongoing situation in Libya.

For a long time, European governments treated the NTC with caution, as they did not know what it was or what its members wanted.

However, the NTC has now been recognized by several countries as the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people, and in recognition of this, its leader Mahmoud Jibril was received in Brussels on Wednesday.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denma...

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Jibril held talks with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen at NATO headquarters, and Rasmussen expressed the importantance of the visit.

“They [the NTC] have a great responsibility for the smooth transition to a democratic and inclusive future in Libya,” said Rasmussen.

via EU recognizes Libyan rebel council, offers its support | Europe | Deutsche Welle | 14.07.2011.

Libya: ‘Only’ 15 Percent of Rebels Are Islamic Extremists

Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan chief of state, at...

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Expert John Rosenthal writes:

In an interview published today in the French daily Le Figaro, a spokesman for Libya’s National Transitional Council acknowledged that Islamic extremists figure among the rebels fighting to overthrow the rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi. But the spokesman, Mahmoud Shamman, insisted that the “radical elements” represent only a “tiny portion” of the rebels: namely, “no more than 15 percent.” Shammam also acknowledged that members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group form part of the opposition.

via ‘Only’ 15 Percent of Libyan Rebels Are Islamic Extremists – By John Rosenthal – The Corner – National Review Online.

I had already written something about this here and here.

Afghanistan: Karzai announces contacts with Taliban while more attacks take place

President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that Afghanistan and the United States are engaged in peace talks with the Taliban, even as suicide bombers stormed a police station near the presidential palace, killing at least two police officers.

The brazen attack in the heart of Kabul’s government district provided a sharp counterpoint to Karzai’s announcement that the U.S. and Afghan government are in talks with the Taliban, the first official confirmation of such discussions. The violence also underscored the difficulty facing any possible negotiated settlement to the decade-long war.

Men dressed in Afghan army uniforms stormed the police station near the presidential palace and opened fire on officers as they tried to enter the building, said Mohammed Honayon, an eyewitness.

What I really don’t understand is why this war was even began to get this result. The people is going to be abandoned in the hands of warlords or Taliban, allowing brutality and suffering to continue. What has really changed? Not even women’s situation and treatment:

Afghanistan was rated the worst because of high mortality rates, limited access to doctors and a “near total lack of economic rights” in addition to the continuing war there, NATO airstrikes and dangerous cultural practices.

PS: Other countries in the survey are Congo (1000 rapes a day), Pakistan (child marriages and honot killings) or India (human trafficking skyrocketing to 90% in the world).

UN Report: More than 3/4 of people killed in Afghanistan are caused by the Taliban

Taliban in Herat.

Image via Wikipedia

The Taliban are not happy about it:

U.N. representatives consider that women and children are being killed and wounded at home more than ever before, due to the intensification of Taliban attacks on the Afghan territory.

About 55 percent more children were killed in the first half of this year by the Taliban, compared to the last year. Thus, 3,268 people were killed from January 1, 2010, and 1,997 were injured and maimed. 2,477 of these people were killed or wounded by anti-governmental forces such as the Taliban, while 386 can be blamed on the pro-governmental forces, including the  International Security Assistance Force and Afghan Security Forces.

More here.

Illiteracy in Afghan police

Afghan National Police recruits participate in...

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When NATO troops help training  the Afghan police, the  more intensive classes are not marksmanship, patrolling or riot control. They are about reading and writing.

Only 11% of core staff and 35% of the NCO in the army and Afghan police are literate, according to NATO trainers.

That is undermining the effectiveness of the troops at a time when NATO is working to prepare local security forces to eventually hand power.

There have been numerous reports of illiterate members of Afghan security forces getting into trouble. An army unit called an air strike against itself in July because no one could read the map. Officials who can not read the serial numbers of their weapons, do not even know what caliber they should use. A unit was set up in a checkpoint, but could not read the identification cards of passing motorists.

Often the police can not write the statements of witnesses or examine the laws. In some cases, police chiefs were stealing the wages of their subordinates, and their illiterate recruits could not detect the theft.

More here.

Al-Qaeda: Al-Zawahiri speaks about Lybia

The CIA prepared a series of leaflets for use ...

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SITE said Zawahiri split his lecture into three distinct parts, addressing in turn the uprisings in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia.

“I want to direct the attention of our Muslim brothers in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and the rest of the Muslim countries, that if the Americans and the NATO forces enter Libya then their neighbors in Egypt and Tunisia and Algeria and the rest of the Muslim countries should rise up and fight both the mercenaries of Kadhafi and the rest of NATO,” he said, according to SITE.

Zawahiri stated Al-Qaeda’s backing for the ousted Tunisian and Egyptian presidents and also accused the Egyptian government of “separation from Islam” and “subservience to the West,” the monitoring group said.

The video was the fifth installment in Egyptian-born Zawahiri’s series titled “A Message of Hope and Glad Tidings to Our People in Egypt.”

More here.

Taliban “Sanctuary” in Pakistan and Iran, criticized worldwide

The Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) one of the most lethal weapons the U.S. forces face in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan is not only a headache for military but also needs closer attention from governments around the world while Pakistan is providing the necessary safe heavens according to U.S. military officials.

“We do believe that the enemy – the Taliban is facilitated by some sanctuary in Pakistan, and to some degree minor assistance from Iran,” said Lieutenant General Michael L. Oates, Director, Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) while addressing media on Monday.

in Afghanistan there are “homemade explosives, explosives that are made largely from fertilizer-based bombs – ammonium nitrate and potassium chlorate,” while in Iraq those were more sophisticated.

The general noted that, “there is no ammonium nitrate produced in Afghanistan. It all comes in across the border,” from Pakistan.

On the techniques used by “Haqqani, who operates in the east,” the general noted, “(Haqqani) prefers to use potassium chlorate, but he’ll use ammonium nitrate as well. And we do see a difference in targeting.”

“For instance, Haqqani will attack both Afghan security forces, civilians, and coalition forces equally. We believe his network seeks to control a criminal enterprise in eastern Afghanistan,” added the general.

via Taliban “Sanctuary” in Pakistan With Increasing IED Menace Says U.S. General | AHN.

But they are not the only ones critizicing Pakistan over this sanctuary. Both French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister David Cameron have also critizised Pakistani sanctuary for IED production. Sarkozy, on official visit to India, said:

It is unacceptable that India’s security can be threatened by groups of terrorists acting from neighbouring countries.

“It is unacceptable for Afghanistan and for our troops that the Taliban and al-Qaeda find safe haven in the border regions of Pakistan. We know the price that the Pakistani people are paying for terrorism. But it is unacceptable for the world that terrorist acts should be masterminded and carried out by terrorist groups in Pakistan,” he said.

The Pakistani authorities must “step up their efforts and show that they are resolute in combating these criminals,” he added, and pledged unlimited counter-terrorist co-operation with India.

I don’t see Pakistan complying with this at all. They would just protest about trying to be “Westernised” or some other stupid idea. But, you know, for the Taliban’s supporters it would be quite convincing. 🙄

PS: one of the Haqqanis raped poor, defenseless girls and made videos of that. Just to consider the kind of “moral” these guys have.

Afghanistan: Contacts with the Taliban

Taliban officials have engaged in periodic, discreet contacts with Afghan and U.S. officials for months but are unwilling to move to formal peace negotiations until the U.S. agrees to a timetable for the withdrawal of all foreign troops, according to a Pakistani intelligence official and members of a newly formed Afghan peace council.

The White House said Wednesday that President Barack Obama supports attempts by the Afghan government to open peace talks with Taliban leaders, but still wants the insurgents to renounce violence and their support of al-Qaida.

However, press secretary Robert Gibbs said the United States was not taking part in any such talks. “This is about Afghanistan,” he said. “It has to be done by the Afghans.”

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that secret talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan have begun between representatives of the Taliban and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The Post quoted Afghan and Arab sources as saying they believe for the first time that Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban command council based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

Source.

Do you see where the Quetta Shura is based? That’s right. Pakistan, where Jihadist camps are “flourishing”:
http://www.youtube.com/v/KE1RDN0oeVU&rel=0&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&version=3

So, it’s not clear that the talks with Taliban are going to be succesful but what it’s really clear is that, speaking with them the war loses absolutely all its basis. If Western countries are prepared to engage in talks with the same people who are plotting since before the NATO operation against Western targets and without any real change for normal Afghans, the question is why now? Oh, sorry, the Obamamessiah doesn’t see this war in terms of winning or losing. Well, there are a lot of good soldiers who have lost their lives there. So, you see, it’s always something we should measure in terms of winning or losing, because if no goals are met and yet people have been killed in action, why were they killed?

By the way, it’s not that Pakistan is not collaborating with the US, it’s that it’s actively supporting the Talibans. No one can understand that if a journalist has filmed those guys, Pakistani army hasn’t found them.

Anyway, there are people who support this move and others who don’t. This is a very interesting video, sent to me by Jennifer, a reader.
http://www.newsy.com/videos/player.swf?related=http://www.newsy.com/api/get-featured-videos/10/&file=http://www.newsy.com/api/get-video/3405/&video_name=

Multisource political news, world news, and entertainment news analysis by Newsy.com

Background:
US slams Pakistan.
Pakistan: terrorist attacks and double game continues.

Afghanistan: "Taliban are infiltrating Afghan forces", former UN official says

BBC:

The Taliban have infiltrated the Afghan army and police, a recently-retired United Nations official has warned.
Taliban flag

Dr Antonio Maria Costa, former head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said Taliban sleeper cells had been set up inside the security forces.

They had already carried out a number of attacks and were planning further attacks on Nato-led troops, he said.

A spokesman for the coalition forces said infiltration was a rare problem and most Afghan troops were loyal.

Dr Costa’s comments come as the coalition is preparing to hand over control of the country’s security to Afghan forces by 2014, the BBC’s Gerry Northam reports.

Meeting the handover target in four years requires 141,000 new recruits to be found within a year – more than the current size of the Afghan army.

There are fears that the Taliban are taking the opportunity to enlist insurgents into the ranks.

“We have plenty of evidence we had a number of suicide attacks carried out by people who had been in the army, trusted because they were affiliated,” Dr Costa told the BBC.

Background:
Spanish TV publishes video of Spanish base (Qala-i-Naw)’s terrorist attack. The attack was carried out by an Afghan police member, linked with the Taliban.
Spanish TV publishes video of Spanish base attacked after Taliban terrorist attack.

Afghanistan: Don’t send troops, Taliban warns Bangladesh

Don’t send troops to Afghanistan, Taliban warns Bangladesh. Or else….:

“The Taliban has warned Bangladesh against sending its troops to Afghanistan after the US asked Dhaka to send its forces to the war-ravaged country.

The Taliban Monday told Bangladesh to refuse the US request to send combat troops to Afghanistan, a media report said.

The US monitoring service SITE intelligence group published a report Monday with the headline ‘Afghan Taliban reacts to US requesting troops from Bangladesh’, said Star Online, website of The Daily Star newspaper.

US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke last week made the plea to send troops to Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni at a meeting in New York.”

Well, nothing strange here. Note simply that Bangladesh is also a Muslim-majority country:

The main religion practiced in Bangladesh is Islam (89.7%), but a significant minority adheres to Hinduism (9.2%).[77] The majority of Muslims are Sunni. There is a small Shia and an even smaller Ahmadiyya community. Ethnic Biharis are predominantly Shia Muslims. Sufi influences in the region go back many centuries.[78] Other religious groups include Buddhists (0.7%, mostly Theravada), Christians (0.3%, mostly of the Roman Catholic denomination), and Animists (0.1%). Bangladesh has the fourth largest Muslim population after Indonesia, Pakistan, and India, with over 130 million. 

Afghanistan: Two reporters arrested for making Taliban propaganda

The Guardian is extremely critical … with ISAF for having arrested them. Why? Because these “apparently objective and impartial” cameramen were, supposedly, filming and saying what the Taliban “suggested” them to … Al-Jazeera, on the other hand, calls that “comprehensive coverage“.

PS: Afghanisation. How about checking your writing, Mr. Greenslade?

Afghanistan: Taliban commander captured

A Taliban commander responsible for improvised explosive device emplacements, illegal checkpoints and attacks on Combat Outpost Terezayi was captured Friday by coalition forces, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Tuesday.
Noor Wali Shah, head of the Ethics Department for Terezayi district, was detained after coalition forces, conducting a routine patrol in the Terezayi district of Khost province, recognized him as a person of interest and verified his identity.
Shah, who is connected to a September 1 attack on Combat Outpost Terezayi, was known as a cell leader in the Terezayi district.

UK: Probe into Afghanistan troops’ heroin trafficking claims

Probe into Afghanistan troops’ heroin trafficking claims – Asia, World – The Independent:

 “Military police are investigating claims that British soldiers may have been involved in heroin trafficking in Afghanistan.

Officials said they were aware of ‘unsubstantiated’ claims that troops were buying the illegal drug from dealers and using military aircraft to ship it out the country.

An inquiry has been launched focusing on British and Canadian service personnel at airports in Camp Bastion and Kandahar.

Meanwhile security has been tightened, with additional sniffer dogs being used as part of the crackdown at the bases.

Afghanistan is the source of 90% of the world’s opium.

Some drug bosses in the war-ravaged country have implicated soldiers in the trade.

Last year the Sunday Times spoke to one dealer who said members of the military were the second largest buyers of heroin after foreign drug lords.

The newspaper was told: ‘The soldiers whose term of duty is about to finish, they give an order to our boss.’

The dealer, named only as Aziz, added: ‘They are carrying these drugs in the military airlines and they can’t be reached because they are military. They can take it to the USA or England.'”

This is of course, not surprising, specially considering the boost in heroin production since the NATO coalition entered the country (see here, here, here and here). Of course, that doesn’t mean that all military and civil personnel in Afghanistan are drug traffickers, but certainly some of them are benefiting from the trade). The Taliban fall (good altogether) brought to power several of the warlords who were in charge of the drug trade. But certainly the plants should have been destroyed the minute they were planted. Why they weren’t? Well, that’s a very difficult question to answer…

Afghanistan: Karzai Divides Afghans In Reaching Out to Taliban

Karzai Divides Afghanistan In Reaching Out to Taliban – WSJ.com:

“…key leaders of Afghanistan’s three largest ethnic minorities told The Wall Street Journal that they oppose Mr. Karzai’s outreach to the Taliban, which they said could pave the way for the fundamentalist group’s return to power and reignite civil war.

Mohammed Mohaqeq, a lawmaker and former warlord representing the 2.5-million-strong Hazara minority, endorsed Mr. Karzai in last year’s presidential race, contributing to his reelection.

‘We feel betrayed by the president,’ Mr. Mohaqeq says now. ‘It seems that what President Karzai pursues now is the Talibanization of Afghanistan. The only difference between him and the Taliban is that he sits in the presidential palace and the Taliban sit in the mountains.’

Mr. Karzai’s overtures, formally launched at a June peace conference where he called insurgents ‘brothers’ and ‘dear Talibs,’ included asking the United Nations to remove Taliban leaders from the international sanctions black list and ordering the freeing of Taliban suspects from government custody. A separate government-sponsored conference of clerics in Kabul passed a resolution singling out insufficient enforcement of Sharia Islamic laws, the Taliban’s key demand, as the obstacle to peace. This month, Mr. Karzai created a formal negotiating committee for talks with Taliban leaders.”

Read it all. It’s a very good way of considering if NATO troops are doing a good job supporting this “new” regime….

Photo: Winds of Jihad.

Afghanistan: Taliban filmed swarming over abandoned US base “Valley of Death”

Abandoned: Armed Taliban fighters are filmed on the former U.S. military mountain-top base Footage of Taliban fighters swarming a former U.S. military mountain-top base in Afghanistan has been aired on a major satellite TV station.
Just days after American forces withdrew from the Korengal Valley – which has seen some of the toughest fighting in the Afghan war – armed insurgents can be seen over-running the area.
The video, which was shown yesterday on Al-Jazeera television, will be seen as a morale boost for Taliban fighters – even though the U.S. insists the area has no strategic value.
American soldiers spent five years defending the base, which the U.S. dubbed the ‘Valley of Death’ after 42 servicemen were killed in battle.
Taliban fighters said they wanted to see how the troops lived – and collected the abandoned fuel and ammunition, which they say they will use against the U.S. who they have pledged to follow and fight.
The footage shows men walking through the former U.S. base, which was strewn with litter and empty bottles, and sitting atop sandbagged gun positions overlooking the steep hillsides and craggy landscape.
Locals also visited the site. One who was interviewed said: ‘We don’t want Americans, we don’t want Germans or any other foreigner.
‘We don’t want foreigners, we want peace. We want Taliban and Islam – we don’t want anything else.’
But a U.S. military spokesman said ammunition had been evacuated and the fuel handed over to local residents.
Another man identified by Al-Jazeera as a local Taliban commander said the militants intended to use the base for attacks on U.S. forces.
Major TG Taylor, a spokesman for U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, said the Americans destroyed major firing positions and observation posts before they left, and if militants tried to use the base ‘we have two companies that can do an air assault there anytime we want’.

http://www.youtube.com/v/BsyNvgDvvQw&rel=0&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1

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Spain: Defense Minister praises Moroco

{{es|Carme Chacón, ministra de Defensa de Espa...Image via Wikipedia

Spain welcomed the efforts made by Morocco in fighting illegal immigration, drug trafficking and international terrorism.

“Morocco is making significant efforts to fight illegal immigration, drug trafficking and international terrorism,” Spanish Defence Minister, Carme Chacon said during a meeting on Wednesday in Madrid with Inspector general of the Royal Armed Forces (FAR) and Commander of the southern zone, General Abdelaziz Bennani, who led a delegation to the 6th Moroccan-Spanish Joint Military Commission (April 13-15).

A statement of Spain’s Defence ministry said that Carme Chacon expressed her country’s support to Morocco’s contribution to Operation Active Endeavour, a naval operation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). It operates in the Mediterranean Sea and is designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction as well as to enhance the security of shipping in general.

But no word about harrasment of Christians by Moroccan autorities. Of course, that is not an important fact, isn’t it? The important move here is to tell Moroccan authorities what they want to hear: that they are doing everything so right. If not, there would be more international problems.

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