[Kabul (AFP) via France24] American forces have started pulling out of two bases in Afghanistan, a US official said Tuesday, the day peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban were due to start despite widespread violence and a political crisis.
The United States is keen to end its longest-ever conflict, and under the terms of a deal signed in Doha last month has said all foreign forces will quit Afghanistan within 14 months -- provided the Taliban stick to their security commitments.
Under the accord, the US is initially supposed to cut its troop presence from about 12,000 currently to 8,600 by mid-July, and close five of its roughly 20 bases across the country.
Troops have started leaving one base in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province in the south, and another base in Herat in the east, a US official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.
Even with the drawdown, US forces retain "all the military means and authorities to accomplish our objectives", Colonel Sonny Leggett, spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan, said Monday, referring to American counterterrorism operations and support for Afghan forces.
Helmand, which along with neighbouring Kandahar province is considered a Taliban stronghold, is where US and British forces fought some of the bloodiest campaigns of the 18-year war.
Omar Zwak, spokesman for Helmand's governor, told AFP that "20 to 30" foreigners had left Lashkar Gah since the weekend.
The initial drawdown comes as the Taliban, which see themselves as having achieved "victory" over America, test the Pentagon's resolve to protect local partners by conducting dozens of low-level attacks against Afghan forces. The US has only responded to a few of these attacks.
Under the terms of the withdrawal deal, the Taliban are supposed to tackle jihadists such as the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda, as well as hold talks with the Afghan government that were due to start Tuesday.
But Kabul is in disarray and appears unable to present a unified front to negotiate with the Taliban.
On Monday, President Ashraf Ghani was inaugurated for a second term following an election that was marred by fraud allegations while his rival, former chief executive Abdullah Abdullah, also declared himself winner and swore himself in as premier in a parallel ceremony.
Peace talks were supposed to start Tuesday but have been delayed by a dispute over the release of Taliban prisoners -- something the insurgents have demanded as a prerequisite ahead of negotiations, but which Ghani has so far refused to do.
Ghani on Tuesday was expected to announce a decree on the issue and reveal details of the negotiating team.
Washington has denounced Abdullah's self-inauguration, urging unity in Kabul ahead of negotiations with the Taliban.
I'm glad this is happening, but I think those who are absolutely rock solid positive that peace is going to break out in the absence of crusaders US troops are in for disappointment. Not that they will ever admit it.
Posted by: M. Murcek ||
03/10/2020 7:10 Comments ||
I don't think it has to be either or, nation building or hot foot it. It might be wise to maintain a special operations presence so that in the future we could cycle guys through for ground experience and be able to slap the savages when their memory fails.
#BREAKING US Forces #Afghanistan has begun its conditions-based reduction of forces to 8,600 over 135 days, according to @USFOR_A spokes Col Sonny Leggett, who adds US has military means & authorities to conduct CT ops against al-Qaeda & ISIS-K and providing support to the ANDSF
[KhaamaPress] The offshoot of the Islamic State ...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that they were al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're really very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear western pols talk they're not really Moslems.... terror group, ISIS Khurasan, grabbed credit for the attack which targeted the presidential inauguration in Kabul city.
The group issued a statement on an Telegram channel but did not provide further details.
The Ministry of Interior confirmed that four rockets landed close to ARG Presidential Palace as the oath taking ceremony of Ashraf Ghani ...former chancellor of Kabul University, now president of Afghanistan. Before returning to Afghanistan in 2002 he was a scholar of political science and anthropology. He worked at the World Bank working on international development assistance. As Finance Minister of Afghanistan between July 2002 and December 2004, he led Afghanistan's attempted economic recovery until the Karzais stole all the money... was underway.
Nasrat Rahimi, a front man for the Ministry of Interior said the enemies fired four rockets towards ARG Palace using a hatchback back vehicle in which they placed the rockets.
According to Rahimi, one of the rockets landed behind Estiqlal High School, the other impacted the wall of Serena Hotel, the third rocket landed in Zarnigar Park and fourth one landed close to Kabul Municipality.
He also added that the attack left one policeman slightly maimed but caused no other casualties.
This comes as two oath taking ceremonies were underway in Kabul city this afternoon with Abdullah Abdullah ...the former foreign minister of the Northern Alliance government, advisor to Masood, and candidate for president against both Karzai and Ghani. Dr. Abdullah was born in Kabul and is half Tadjik and half Pashtun. He also held the meaningless salaried sop position as CEO of Afghanistan, while Ghani was president... taking oath as parallel president of Afghanistan.
Abdullah had vowed to form a parallel government after rejecting the final presidential results which declared Ashraf Ghani as the winner of the presidential race.
Posted by: trailing wife ||
03/10/2020 00:00 ||
Top|| File under: Islamic State
TFSA says Faylaq al-Majd sent 307 mercenaries to #Tripoli on March 5th or 6th. Was 360, but some of the new recruits were found to be as young as 14. If you’re thinking, “well, at least Turkey has some limits,” you’d be mistaken. #GNA refused them and sent them back upon arrival. https://t.co/lY4AfUF6LY
Posted by: Fred ||
03/10/2020 00:00 ||
Top|| File under: Govt of Saudi Arabia
Al Jazeera: Separately, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday the sweep broadened to include dozens of interior ministry officials, senior army officers and others suspected of supporting a coup attempt.
It came a day after the Journal cited sources familiar with the matter as saying masked guards with the royal court on Friday arrested Prince Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, a younger brother of King Salman, and Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, the king's nephew and a former crown prince. The guards also detained a brother of Mohammed bin Nayef.
Strictly a guess on my part, but it seems as if MBS's rise coincided with King Salman becoming non compos mentis, and now MBS is in Phase II of sweeping away people that the King may otherwise have protected to some extent.
Posted by: M. Murcek ||
03/10/2020 9:20 Comments ||
If civil wars are horrific, family wars outdo them.
[ICE.GOV] On Wednesday, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) removed Salvadoran national Jonathan Alexander Mejia-Santos, 31, to El Salvador. Mejia-Santos is wanted by law enforcement officials in his home country for allegedly participating in a murder related to gang activity. Once in El Salvador, ICE ERO transferred custody to the Policia Nacional Civil (PNC) of El Salvador.
On Dec.12, 2018, the U.S. Border Patrol arrested Mejia-Santos, after he illegally entered the U.S. near Lukeville, Arizona and placed him in removal proceedings.
On Aug. 27, a federal immigration judge with the Executive Office for Immigration Review ordered him removed from the U.S. to El Salvador. Mejia-Santos appealed this decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA); however the BIA dismissed his appeal and upheld the immigration judge’s decision Jan. 31.
[FOXNEWS] A Bangladeshi man pleaded guilty last week to his role in smuggling his fellow countrymen into the United States from Mexico in exchange for payments, prosecutors said.
Mohamad Milon Hossain, 39, admitted that from March 2017 to June 2019, he smuggled Bangladeshi nationals into the United States at the Texas border, according to a blurb from the Justice Department.
Hossain operated out of Tapachula, Mexico, where he resided and maintained a hotel that housed illegal immigrants colonists on their way to the U.S. Hossain provided plane tickets and other assistance for the aliens to travel from Tapachula to Monterrey, Mexico, where alleged co-conspirator Moktar Hossain assisted their illegal entry into the U.S.
"Hossain’s brazen scheme to smuggle Bangladeshi aliens into the United States put our national security at risk," said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski. "This guilty plea underscores the department’s commitment to working with our law enforcement partners here and abroad to disrupt the flow of illegal aliens into the United States and bring human smugglers to justice."
U.S. District Judge Diana Saldana accepted Hossain’s guilty plea. His sentencing has yet been scheduled.
[THEHILL] Two U.S. troops were killed Sunday during an operation against ISIS in northern Iraq, the U.S. military announced Monday.
The troops were killed by "enemy forces" during a joint operation with Iraqi security forces to "eliminate an ISIS terrorist stronghold" in a mountainous area of north central Iraq, Operation Inherent Resolve said in a statement.
No additional information about the incident was provided.
The names of the service members who were killed were not released, following Pentagon policy to wait to announce them until after next of kin is notified.
Sunday’s deaths were the first U.S. combat deaths in Iraq this year, with the last U.S. combat death there happening in August.
The United States has about 5,200 troops in Iraq fighting ISIS. U.S. and Iraqi officials declared victory over ISIS in that country in 2017, but the terrorist group continues to pose a threat as it seeks to mount a comeback.
A government watchdog warned last month that a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq would "likely" mean an ISIS resurgence there.
[The New Arab] Discharged members of the Israeli Defense Forces, who served as snipers on the border with the Gaza Strip, have revealed shocking details related to their postings.
One of the six snipers interviewed, identified by the name Eden, discussed his time in the Golani infantry brigade with Israeli newspaper Haaretz, and claims to remember exactly how many knees he's hit. Israel Snipers: Taking a knee before Colin Kapernick
"I kept the casing of every round I fired," he told the newspaper.
"I have them in my room. So I don't have to make an estimate ‐ I know: 52 definite hits."
Eden was instructed to "repel" Palestinian demonstrators who approached the Gaza border fence. Gaza's protesters have taken to the border area every week for months on end as part of the "Great March of Return".
The sniper said he had the most hits in his battalion and that he was referred to as the "killer".
"When I came back from the field, they would ask, 'Well, how many today?'"
"You have to understand that before we showed up, knees were the hardest thing to rack up. There was a story about one sniper who had 11 knees all told, and people thought no one could outdo him. And then I brought in seven-eight knees in one day."
What idiots. If the Israelis are knee-capping them, a small and moving target, how much easier it would be to shoot their targets in head or heart — a much larger and less moving target. Just think what numbers they would be if they chose larger targets.
Could follow the example of the first Spanish governor of New Mexico, Juan de Oñate -
In October 1598, a skirmish erupted when a squad of Oñate's men demanded supplies from the Acoma Pueblo, although the Ácoma themselves needed their stored food to survive the coming winter. The Ácoma resisted and 11 Spaniards were killed, including Oñate's nephew, Juan de Zaldívar. In January 1599, Oñate condemned the conflict as an uprising and ordered the pueblo destroyed, a mandate carried out by Juan de Zaldívar's brother, Vicente de Zaldívar, in an offensive known as the Acoma Massacre. An estimated 800-1000 Ácoma died in the siege of the pueblo, and the 500 survivors were put on trial and sentenced by Oñate. All men and women older than 12 were enslaved for 20 years. In addition, men older than 25 (24 individuals) had one foot amputated.
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.