The endless slog of peace talks to shutter the 18-year long war has precipitated a tit-for-tat escalation in violence between Taliban and U.S. and Afghan forces resulting in one of the bloodiest years of the conflict.
A December 2019 Defense Department report cautioned that "sustained levels of violence" and Afghan security force casualties on the battlefield was impacting attrition and "outpacing recruitment and retention."
It’s a worrying metric for Pentagon planners seeking to reduce America’s nearly 13,000-troop footprint in the country. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has oft voiced that the U.S. may draw down U.S. forces in Afghanistan to 8,600 troops with or without a deal with the Taliban.
Violence has skyrocketed in the country as the U.S. has opted for the hammer to push the Taliban to make a deal and reduce hostilities in the country.
A recent UN report detailed that during September, following President Donald Trump’s decision to temporarily halt peace talks with the militant group, there were 2,780 recorded "security incidents" ‐ the figure represents a 44 percent increase when compared with September 2018.
"Despite the high tempo of the conflict, neither pro-government forces nor anti-government elements achieved significant territorial gains during the reporting period," the UN report reads.
Since 2018, the U.S. has orchestrated a campaign focused on military might to force the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Over the last two years, American warplanes have dropped more bombs on Afghanistan than at any point during the Afghan conflict.
But Afghan forces continue to bleed on the battlefield as they have launched extensive operations to maintain pressure on the Taliban. Those operations have merely led to the continuance of stalemate on the ground where neither the Taliban or Afghan forces appear to be making much progress.
"The Taliban has been unable to fulfill its proclaimed fighting season campaign objectives, capture any provincial capitals, or gain any clear military advantage," the DoD report reads.
The DoD report claims Afghan forces maintain control over major urban areas, most district centers and key transit routes. But the Taliban continue to hold sway over rural areas where they project power by planning high-profile attacks or coordinated strikes against poorly defended Afghan checkpoints.
Poorly located and often politically driven checkpoints continue to plague Afghan forces. The DoD report detailed that more than half of Afghan forces casualties occurred at "poorly manned static checkpoints."
Afghan forces have for years tried to curtail the number of static checkpoints that are often erected at the whims of powerful political elites seeking to curry favor with constituents or provide a thin veneer of some semblance of security.
"However, small, defenseless, and redundant checkpoints remain pervasive due to political sensitivities and the fact that checkpoints provide a visible, albeit false, sense of security," the DoD report reads.
These checkpoints are easily attacked, and stymie efforts by Afghan forces to consolidate and launch offensive operations.
U.S. advisors continue to press Afghan forces to reduce checkpoints. American troops have helped Afghan forces build more defendable outposts while advising Afghan troops on alternatives to checkpoints.
"Out of the top 214 most casualty producing checkpoints, MoI [Afghanistan Ministry of Interior Affairs] has reduced or reinforced 86," the DoD report reads.
[RADIOSHABELLE] A regional security minister in Somalia arrested for "serious crimes" on 31 August 2019, who recently beat feet from detention and is currently in Kenya, must be returned to face justice, Amnesia Amnesty International said today.
"It is unconscionable that Abdirashid Janan, who is suspected of responsibility for crimes under international law and other serious human rights ...which are often intentionally defined so widely as to be meaningless... violations, has evaded attempts to bring him to justice," said Seif Magango, Amnesia Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes.
"The Kenyan authorities must immediately arrest and hand him over to the Federal Government of Somalia, who should conduct his trial in a manner that that meets international fair trial standards, without any further delays. Victims of his alleged crimes have waited patiently for justice and their hopes must not be frustrated."
Abdirashid Hassan Abdinur, also known as Abdirashid Janan, the security minister in the regional administration of Jubaland, was arraigned at the Banadir Regional Court in Mogadishu on 6 October 2019 and thereafter detained until his escape last week.
On 28 January 2020, the deputy police commissioner of the Federal Government of Somalia, Zakia Hussein, announced that the minister had escaped. Three days later, the chief of staff in the Office of the President of Jubaland, Abshir Mohammed, announced on Twitter that Abdirashid was "safely back home in Kismayo ...a port city in the southern Lower Juba province of Somalia, at the extreme southern end of the country (always assuming Somalia can be called a country). It is the commercial capital of the autonomous Jubaland region.... Amnesia Amnesty International has learnt from multiple sources that Abdirashid is now in Nairobi, Kenya.
"Abdirashid’s escape has left many victims of his alleged crimes, including the killing of civilians and obstruction of humanitarian aid doubtful as to whether they would ever get justice. Now that his whereabouts are known, the authorities in Kenya and Somalia must move swiftly to ensure he is re-arrested and promptly tried so that justice and accountability is served," said Seif Magango.
[Libya Observer] The High Representative for Security and Foreign Policy of the Europe ...the land mass occupying the space between the English Channel and the Urals, also known as Moslem Lebensraum... an Union, Josep Borrell, has expressed his concern about the recent developments in Libya in light of the lack of compliance with the ceasefire.
Borrell tried to persuade the European Union ...the successor to the Holy Roman Empire, only without the Hapsburgs and the nifty uniforms and the dancing... before the Berlin Conference to shift towards implementing and monitoring the ceasefire, and even send soldiers, in the framework of a European mission, according to DW TV channel.
The German channel added that though the Berlin summit did not approve this, Borrell is continuing his efforts to revive Operation Sofia to halt arms exports to Libya.
Posted by: Fred ||
02/04/2020 00:00 ||
Top|| File under: Sublime Porte
GENEVA (Reuters) - The United Nations’ top humanitarian official in Mali urged more engagement with armed groups including jihadists, and more aid and development funding, saying on Monday that extra troops would not help to stabilize the country. "More aid and funding...which we'll administer for you, of course. With our usual cut"
Islamist groups with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State operate across northern and central Mali despite constant efforts to drive them back. More than 200,000 people are displaced and many communities have no local government or means of defense.
The former colonial power, France, on Sunday pledged another 600 soldiers to the 4,500 it has tackling armed groups in the Sahel or with a 14,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in the region.
Ute Kollies, head of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Mali, told journalists in Geneva that the country was at a watershed, and complained of a lack of international support.
The funds received by OCHA in Mali last year amounted to just 5% percent of the $3 billion spent by armies there.
[RADIOSHABELLE] A federal judge in Virginia has refused to vacate the life sentence handed down to a Somali man convicted in a 2010 attack on a U.S. Navy vessel off the coast of Africa.
A judge in Norfolk issued a ruling Friday rejecting Mohammed Abdi Jama’s claim that his sentence should be overturned because his lawyer was ineffective.
Jama was sentenced to life in prison in 2016 for piracy. He filed a motion last year claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. Jama claimed his lawyer failed to understand the laws and facts needed to prove piracy and failed to argue jurisdictional and other law regarding piracy offenses and territory.
He also argued that his lawyer failed to advise him of plea deals and failed to negotiate or explain any plea offers.
The judge said the court record provides no support for Jama’s claims and shows that his lawyer shared a plea offer by prosecutors of 25 years in prison. Jama’s lawyer said in an affidavit that his client refused to cooperate.
Jama claimed that he was never told about a 25-year plea offer and that his attorney advised him to reject a 30-year plea offer.
The judge noted that regardless of whether Jama’s lawyer told him about any plea offer, Jama testified that he was not willing to testify against any of his codefendants as part of a plea deal.
According to court records, Jama and his codefendants approached the USS Ashland in April 2010 in the Gulf of Aden
...in a skiff, which is a kind of a rowboat thingy...
and opened fire with AK-47s. Crew members of the Ashland returned fire
...with a 25mm machine gun, which set the skiff on fire, killing one of the crew...
A Somalian tourguide, his riff:
"A pirate once got in a tiff.
With the British he fought,
Then a pirate was not,
And he also invented the skiff.
Legend has it he was a talented blacksmith, too, who in later years could often be found banging away with his flamboyant band in yonder lounge. Yes, that tumbledown building right there. Dammit, boys, don't scare my horse... cover your eyes, ladies!"
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he hopes long-standing African ally Uganda will open an embassy in Jerusalem soon, becoming the third nation to do so after the United States and Guatemala.https://t.co/wZgWELiuqo
[IsraelTimes] US presidential advisor Jared Kushner says that if Paleostinians are unable to meet the conditions of the new Middle East peace plan he crafted, Israel should not take "the risk to recognize them as a state."
The plan laid out by Kushner, President Donald Trump ...His ancestors didn't own any slaves... ’s son-in-law, and unveiled Tuesday was warmly embraced by Israel but curtly dismissed by the Paleostinian Authority along with others in the region, including the Arab League ...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing... Kushner is challenged by CNN host Fareed Zakaria in a program aired Sunday to explain why demands made of the Paleostinians before they are given a state ‐ a free press, free elections, religious freedom, an independent judiciary and a reliable financial system ‐ did not amount to "a killer amendment."
"There is no Arab country that would meet these criteria, certainly not Soddy Arabia ...a kingdom taking up the bulk of the Arabian peninsula. Its primary economic activity involves exporting oil and soaking Islamic rubes on the annual hajj pilgrimage. The country supports a large number of princes in whatcha might call princely splendor. When the oil runs out the rest of the world is going to kick sand in the Soddy national face... , Egypt" or other countries Kushner has worked with closely, Zakaria says.
Kushner replied that the Paleostinian territories amount to "a police state... not exactly a thriving democracy."
"For the Paleostinians, if they want their people to live better lives, we now have a framework to do it," he says.
"If they don’t think they can uphold these standards, then I don’t think we can get Israel to take the risk to recognize them as a state."
Kushner adds: "The only thing more dangerous than what we have now is a failed state."
Lebanon’s newly appointed Cabinet is set to adopt a policy statement, obtained by Al Arabiya English, laying out an ambitious range of economic and political reforms which will include “painful and necessary” steps.https://t.co/eIwPoa6n9Q
Iran is ready to cooperate with the European Union on issues related to the nuclear deal it agreed with world powers in 2015, President Hassan Rouhani says after his meeting with Josep Borell, the head of the EU’s foreign service.https://t.co/jqokqdHkDB
Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan urges Russia to “assume its obligations” in Syria’s Idlib after six Turkish soldiers were killed and nine others wounded in shelling by Syrian regime forces in the northwest province.https://t.co/WgA43VKYMkpic.twitter.com/gDVo8N4uIk
[FoxNews] Iran has stopped cooperating with Ukraine in its investigation of a downed Ukrainian jetliner last month following the release of an audio clip that suggested Tehran knew its missiles brought down the passenger plane.
The clip broadcasted by Ukrainian media on Sunday aired an exchange in Farsi between the pilot of an Iran Aseman Airlines flight and air traffic control.
The pilot is heard saying that he saw flashing lights in the sky, suggesting it could be missile fire, the Wall Street Journal reported. Iran initially denied responsibly for bringing down Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8.
“A series of lights like ... yes, it is a missile, is there something?” the pilot calls out to the controller.
“No, how many miles? Where?” the controller asks.
The pilot responds that he saw the light by the Payam airport, near where Iran's Revolutionary Guard’s Tor M-1 anti-aircraft missile was launched from. The controller says nothing has been reported to them, but the pilot remains insistent.
“It is the light of a missile,” the pilot says.
“Don’t you see anything anymore?” the controller asks.
“Dear engineer, it was an explosion. We saw a very big light there, I don’t really know what it was,” the pilot responds.
Iran called the release of the recordings "unprofessional," saying they were part of a confidential report.
Tehran has admitted it had fired at the plane, killing all 176 people on board. Senior officials said a junior officer mistakingly shot down the jet. The head of the Iranian investigation team, Hassan Rezaeifar, acknowledged the recording was legitimate and said that it was handed over to Ukrainian officials.
"We will no longer provide any documents to the Ukrainians," he told Iranian news agency MEHR. “This action by the Ukrainians makes us not want to give them any more evidence."
The incident came hours after Iran fired ballistic missiles at two military bases in Iraq that housed U.S. troops in retaliation for an American drone strike that killed a top Iranian general.
Ukrainian authorities have demanded that air traffic control recording be decoded, something Iran has promised but has been slow to make good on.
[IsraelTimes] Kyiv accuses Tehran of knowing from the start that an Iranian missile had downed a Ukrainian airliner last month, after leaked recordings emerged from Iranian air traffic control.
The recordings feature a conversation between an air traffic controller and the pilot of another plane at the time the Ukrainian airliner was hit on January 8, killing all 176 people on board. The pilot can be heard describing "the light of a missile" on its route and then a kaboom.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the recording "proves that the Iranian side knew from the start that our plane was hit by a missile."
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.