The Taliban is paying Afghans $5 to surrender their voter cards before tomorrow’s election

 

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (June 13, 2010) — Tribal...

Saturday’s election will bring the first democratic transfer of power in war-torn Afghanistan and an end to the rule of President Hamid Karzai.

The Taliban have launched a violent campaign to disrupt this weekend’s presidential election in Afghanistan, but in a restive eastern corner of the country they are paying villagers to surrender their voting cards. Continue reading “The Taliban is paying Afghans $5 to surrender their voter cards before tomorrow’s election”

Former warlord campaigns to fill Karzai’s shoes

Rebranding?: Afghan presidential candidate and former Islamist warlord Abdul Rab Rasoul Sayyaf delivers a speech during an election gathering in Kabul on Thursday. | AFP-JIJI

West worries 9/11 ‘mentor’ may become new Afghan president

AP Feb 7, 2014

KABUL – He has been called a mentor to accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the man who welcomed Osama bin Laden to Afghanistan in the 1990s. He was accused of war crimes and atrocities, and even has a terrorist group named after him in the Philippines. Continue reading “Former warlord campaigns to fill Karzai’s shoes”

Hell for Women has a name: Afghanistan

 

– Afghanistan has effectively legalised domestic violence by changing a law so it will become impossible for anyone to testify against relatives, thus making Afghanistan the most idiotic country on Earth.

Afghanistan

Thursday, 06 February 2014 Continue reading “Hell for Women has a name: Afghanistan”

Kerry fails to secure deal on US ‘troop immunity’ in Afghanistan

Published time: October 13, 2013 07:51                                                                            

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) gives a press conference on October 12, 2013 with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul.(AFP Photo / Massoud Hossaini) 

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) gives a press conference on October 12, 2013 with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul.(AFP Photo / Massoud Hossaini)

Talks between the US and Afghanistan to allow 10,000 American troops to remain in the country after NATO forces’ planned withdrawal in 2014 stalled Saturday on the issue of immunity for US personnel.

A long day of negotiations between US Secretary of State John  Kerry and Afghan President Hamid Karzai yielded little result for  the long-delayed Bilateral Security Agreement, which would allow  between 5,000 and 10,000 US troops to stay behind, to continue  training Afghan security forces and to fight Taliban insurgents.

It is beyond the scope of the Afghan president and his government  to decide whether to grant US military personnel immunity, Karzai  told Kerry, adding that this “issue of jurisdiction” would  be referred to the country’s loya Jirga, an assembly of elders,  leaders and other influential people.

“We need to say that if the issue of jurisdiction cannot be  resolved, then unfortunately there cannot be a bilateral security  agreement,” Kerry told reporters at a Kabul news conference,  stressing, however, that an agreement was otherwise essentially  in place.

Kerry said only a partial deal was reached on just how many US  troops will stay in the country after the NATO pull-out next  year. Washington wants to take the lead in running  counter-terrorism missions after 2014, as well as to keep leasing  bases around the country.

But such unilateral actions as the capture in recent days of  Taliban commander Latif Mehsud by US forces have angered Karzai.

“This is an issue that we have raised in earnest with the  United States in the past few days, as we have all previous  occasions of such arrests in which the Afghan laws were  disregarded,” Reuters reported Karzai as saying.

Karzai wants a guarantee that the US will protect Afghanistan  from a potential Al-Qaeda invasion from neighboring Pakistan. He  said that during the talks an agreement had been signed to ensure  the welfare of the Afghan people.

“There will be no arbitrary actions and operations by the US,  and a written document has been given to guarantee the protection  of lives and properties of our people,” Karzai said.

‘Geopolitical games’

Lawrence Freeman, editor of Executive Intelligence Review, told  RT that the US’s “conflicted policy” in Afghanistan was drawing  out negotiations.

Referring to the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 as a   “farce,” Freeman said that the US had no clear policy for  the future of the region. He said that the US needed to introduce  a serious development program rather than continuing with what he  described as a policy governed by “geopolitical games.”

“There are some people who think we should have a military  base in Afghanistan to have some kind of containment against  Russian ambitions,” Freeman told RT, concluding that the  West’s intervention as a whole was a “failure” when it  comes to “forward-thinking, visionary policy.”

http://rt.com/news/us-afghanistan-troop-immunity-123/

 

Pakistan to free Taliban chief who may hold key to Afghan talks

Kabul hopes former Taliban second-in-command Abdul Ghani Baradar could broker peace government peace deal with rebels

  • Jon Boone in Islamabad
  • theguardian.com,              Tuesday 10 September 2013 10.53 EDT
Sartaj Aziz

Foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan had agreed to free Baradar after an improvement in Afghan relations. Photograph: Faisal Mahmood/Reuters

A senior Taliban commander who the Afghan government believes could be key to brokering a political settlement in Afghanistan will be released later this month, Pakistan‘s most senior foreign affairs official has announced.

Islamabad has long-resisted demands by the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, to free Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s former second-in-command, who it is hoped could initiate a peace process between Kabul and hardline rebels who once ruled the country.

Sartaj Aziz, the prime minister’s foreign affairs adviser, said Pakistan had finally agreed to hand him over after an apparent improvement in the tempestuous relationship between the two countries.

“In principle, we have agreed to release him. The timing is being discussed. It should be very soon … I think within this month,” Sartaj Aziz, the foreign affairs adviser to the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Baradar was once second only to Taliban chief Mullah Omar. He has long been thought to represent a group of pragmatists within the movement who are keen to bring an increasingly bloody insurgency to a negotiated end.

A fellow member of Karzai’s Popolzai tribe, Afghan officials say he had been in contact with the Kabul government at the time of his arrest near Karachi in 2010.

His capture was hailed initially by the international community as a rare example of Pakistan pursuing Afghan insurgent leaders. Pakistan has long been accused of covertly supporting the Taliban.

But Afghan and foreign governments later concluded that Baradar was arrested because he had been holding talks with the Karzai government without the blessing of Pakistan’s military intelligence service, which is accused of keeping the insurgents on a tight leash.

The announcement marks what appears to be a dramatic improvement in relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which one western diplomat has described as a “rollercoaster” of highs and lows.

In February the two sides convened at Chequers for a trilateral summit hosted by the British prime minister, David Cameron. However, the relationship soured immediately after the conference and has been on the rocks for months.

A new government in Islamabad under Nawaz Sharif appears to have improved relations, with the prime minister hosting Karzai and most of his cabinet for two days of talks in Islamabad in August.

Last week Pakistan announced it was freeing seven Afghan Taliban prisoners. Unlike previous releases, where large numbers of unnamed fighters of questionable importance were let loose, Islamabad identified all of the men.

Nonetheless the Afghan government remains deeply suspicious of Pakistan, with one official in Kabul claiming Pakistan had been guilty of delaying tactics.

“We have seen a lot of good promises on countless occasions, but very little action,” the official said.

He said Kabul wanted all Afghan prisoners to be released, ideally in Afghanistan or a third Muslim country, so they can return to their families and civilian life and “play a supportive role in the peace process”.

But Aziz said Baradar would be released inside Pakistan.

 

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/10/pakistan-taliban-chief-afghan-talks

Afghan President Hamid Karzai admits to millions of dollars of US payments to national security

 

Monday, 29 April 2013

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Monday that his national security team has been receiving payments from the US government for the past 10 years.

Mr Karzai confirmed the payments when he was asked about a story published in The New York Times, which cited high-level Afghan officials saying the CIA had given the Afghan National Security Council tens of millions of dollars in monthly payments delivered in suitcases.

Mr Karzai said the welcome monthly payments were not a “big amount”. He said they were used to give assistance to the wounded and sick, to pay rent for housing and for other “operational” purposes.

The newspaper quotes Khalil Roman, who served as Mr Karzai’s deputy chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, as calling the vast CIA payments “ghost money” that “came in secret, and it left in secret.” It also quotes unidentified American officials as saying that “the cash has fueled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan.”

AP

 

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/afghan-president-hamid-karzai-admits-to-millions-of-dollars-of-us-payments-to-national-security-8595493.html#

Millions in CIA “ghost money” paid to Afghan president’s office -NYT

Source: Reuters – Mon, 29 Apr 2013 01:43 AM

Author: Reuters

April 29 (Reuters) – Tens of millions of U.S. dollars in cash were delivered by the CIA in suitcases, backpacks and plastic shopping bags to the office of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai for more than a decade, according to the New York Times, citing current and former advisers to the Afghan leader.

The so-called “ghost money” was meant to buy influence for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) but instead fuelled corruption and empowered warlords, undermining Washington’s exit strategy from Afghanistan, the newspaper quoted U.S. officials as saying.

“The biggest source of corruption in Afghanistan”, one American official said, “was the United States.”

The CIA declined to comment on the report and the U.S. State Department did not immediately comment. The New York Times did not publish any comment from Karzai or his office.

“We called it ‘ghost money’,” Khalil Roman, who served as Karzai’s chief of staff from 2002 until 2005, told the New York Times. “It came in secret and it left in secret.”

For more than a decade the cash was dropped off every month or so at the Afghan president’s office, the newspaper said.

Handing out cash has been standard procedure for the CIA in Afghanistan since the start of the war.

The cash payments to the president’s office do not appear to be subject to oversight and restrictions placed on official American aid to the country or the CIA’s formal assistance programmes, like financing Afghan intelligence agencies, and do not appear to violate U.S. laws, said the New York Times.

There was no evidence that Karzai personally received any of the money, Afghan officials told the newspaper. The cash was handled by his National Security Council, it added.

U.S. and Afghan officials familiar with the payments were quoted as saying that the main goal in providing the cash was to maintain access to Karzai and his inner circle and to guarantee the CIA’s influence at the presidential palace, which wields tremendous power in Afghanistan’s highly centralized government.

Much of the money went to warlords and politicians, many with ties to the drug trade and in some cases the Taliban, the New York Times said. U.S. and Afghan officials were quoted as saying the CIA supported the same patronage networks that U.S. diplomats and law enforcement agents struggled to dismantle, leaving the government in the grip of organised crime.

In 2010, Karzai said his office received cash in bags from Iran, but that it was a transparent form of aid that helped cover expenses at the presidential palace. He said at the time that the United States made similar payments.

The latest New York Times report said much of the Iranian cash, like the CIA money, went to pay warlords and politicians.

For most of Karzai’s 11-year reign, there has been little interest in anti-corruption in the army or police. The country’s two most powerful institutions receive billions of dollars from donors annually but struggle just to recruit and maintain a force bled by high rates of desertion.

(Additional reporting by Alistair Bell and Sarah Lynch in Washington; Writing by Michael Perry; Editing by Mark Bendeich)

http://www.trust.org/item/20130429014333-3jotq/?source = hpbreaking

US Commander in Afghanistan issues threat advisory after Karzai’s anti-American comments

Mar 14, 2013 21:29 Moscow Time

isaf афганистан военные нато исаф сша солдат

Photo: EPA

The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has been put on heightened alert in connection with bellicose rhetoric by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, local media reported on Thursday.

Earlier this week, Karzai blamed NATO and the United States for cooperating with the Taliban with an alleged aim of justifying their presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

The statement came after dozens of people were killed in a spate of terrorist attacks in the cities of Kabul and Khost.

The U.S. commander in Afghanistan released a threat advisory to his troops following potentially inflammatory comments from President Hamid Karzai and an increase in violence in recent days.

The coalition command did not specify what prompted the warning but said it was the result of a “sum total” of events.

Earlier this week an Afghan soldier killed two American special forces soldiers in a so-called “insider attack.” The number of such attacks had declined this year after a large spike last year.

Bombings in Kabul over the weekend, when new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was visiting the country, killed 17 Afghans.

Karzai meanwhile accused the United States of conspiring with the Taliban to convince the population that U.S. forces should stay beyond 2014. The remarks increased already strained relations between the United States and Karzai.

The coalition has also delayed a planned handover of authority at the detention facility at Bagram because of continued disagreement over the transition to Afghan control. The United States is reportedly concerned over the potential release of suspects deemed a continuing threat.

U.S. officials said the coalition “routinely” conducts such threat assessments and issues advisories. The assessment was issued by Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, the coalition commander. It was first reported by The New York Times.

“This advisory was prudent given increased coalition casualties in recent days,” the command said in a statement. “General Dunford’s e-mail is simply an example of this vigilance.”

Voice of Russia, RIA, USA Today

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_14/ISAF-on-heightened-alert-in-Afghanistan/

 

Afghan president Hamid Karzai Claims US was effectively colluding with the Taliban in maintaining violence to prolong America’s presence in the country.White House rejected as “categorically false”

White House: claims of US collusion with Taliban ‘categorically false’

Obama spokesman rejects Karzai’s criticism of US as Afghan in police uniform kills seven including two American troops

Ewen MacAskill in Washington

guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 March 2013 15.51 EDT

Chuck Hagel in Afghanistan

The latest insider attack capped a troubled three-day visit to Afghanistan by new defence secretary Chuck Hagel. Photograph: Getty Images

The White House rejected as “categorically false” a claim by Afghan president Hamid Karzai that the US was effectively colluding with the Taliban in maintaining violence to prolong America’s presence in the country.

Karzai’s outburst on Sunday, while new US defence secretary Chuck Hagel was making his first visit to the country, highlighted tensions between Washington and the Afghan government as Nato forces withdraw from the country and negotiations continue over the number of troops to be left behind after 2014.

The White House response to Karzai’s latest criticism of the US came as an Afghan dressed in a police uniform opened fire in the disputed Wardak, province killing two US soldiers and at least two Afghans.

One of the Americans killed was a special forces operative from the Green Berets, CNN reported.

Karzai had set Monday as the deadline for the withdrawal of all US special operatives from Wardak province after allegations of abuse, but the US has so far refused.

At the daily White House briefing on Monday, press secretary Jay Carney said: “Any suggestion that the US is colluding with the Taliban is categorically  false. Secretary Hagel addressed the questions with president Karzai in their meeting.

“The US has spent enormous blood and treasure for the past 12 years supporting the Afghan people in an effort to ensure stability and security in that country. The last thing we would do is support any kind of violence, particularly involving innocent civilians.”

Carney was measured in his response, resisting a call at the press conference to use more strident language. In the past, the Obama administration responded more vigorously to critical comments by Karzai but concluded this was counter-productive.

Carney suggested the latest comments would not have an impact on the schedule for withdrawal, which he stressed had been put in place with agreement with Nato and other allies.

“There is no question there have been a number of difficult security incidents, and there have been comments by President Karzai with which we have  disagreed. But our policy has not changed. We went into Afghanistan because we are attacked from Afghanistan.”

A decison on the size of the post-2014 US force would be made at a later date by Obama., Carney added.

The latest insider attack capped a troubled three-day visit by Hagel. The faltering start will provide more material for his many critics in Congress who opposed his nomination, particularly after his hesitant appearance at his Senate confirmation hearing.

A press statement from Isaf military headquarters in Afghanistan said the two Americans were killed in an apparent ‘green-on-blue’ incident, along with at least two Afghan soldiers. A further 10 were wounded. The attacker used a machine-gun mounted on a truck in the village of Jalrez.

Hagel failed to resolve the dispute in Wardak province over withdrawal of special operations forces. He was also scheduled to hand over control of Parwan prison to Afghan authorities but this was cancelled a day before the ceremony.

It is understood the deal collapsed amid continued disagreement over detention of prisoners without trial, and a US demand that it have power to block the release of inmates it considers particularly dangerous.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/11/white-house-afghanistan-karzai-us-collusion

 

Afghanistan ‘sliding towards collapse’

Afghan forces are far from ready to secure a country riddled with violence and corruption, Red Cross and thinktank warn

Emma Graham-Harrison in Kabul guardian.co.uk,    Monday 8 October 2012 13.39 EDT

Afghanistan security forces at the scene of a suicide attack

Afghan security forces at the site of a suicide attack in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The police and army in an increasingly violent Afghanistan will struggle to secure the country when foreign forces leave and the people face a corrupt presidential election in 2014, the Red Cross and a thinktank have warned.

At stake is the limited and fragile stability that has insulated Kabul and most other urban areas from more than a decade of escalating aggression since the US invasion. There are growing fears the country could face a full-blown civil war after Nato troops hand over security to the Afghan police and army, and leave.

“Time is running out,” said Candace Rondeaux of the International Crisis Group thinktank, in a blunt report about the handover from coalition to Afghan troops. “Steps toward a stable transition must begin now to prevent a precipitous slide toward state collapse.

“Plagued by factionalism and corruption, Afghanistan is far from ready to assume responsibility for security when US and Nato forces withdraw in 2014.”

The Long Hard Road to the 2014 Transition also argues that time is running out to ensure a 2014 presidential vote is credible or acceptable.  President Hamid Karzai is due to step down in that year and powerbrokers are already jostling for position.

“It is a near certainty that under current conditions the 2014 elections will be plagued by massive fraud,” the report stated. “Vote-rigging in the south and east, where security continues to deteriorate, is all but guaranteed. High levels of violence across the country before and on the day of the polls are likely to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands more would-be voters.”

The last decade has brought improvements for Afghans in areas including women’s rights, health and education. But for many civilians, particularly in rural areas, the steady rise of the Taliban and insurgents linked with them has also brought insecurity and misery.

“I am filled with concern as I leave this country,” the outgoing head of the Afghanistan office of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Reto Stocker, told journalists in Kabul. “Since I arrived here, in 2005, local armed groups have proliferated, civilians have been caught between not just one but multiple frontlines, and it has become increasingly difficult for ordinary Afghans to obtain healthcare.”

The conflict was now less brutal for civilians, however, than was the fighting that tore Afghanistan apart in the 1990s, when noncombatants were often directly targeted as a deliberate means of warfare, he said.

But many were still killed and injured, others had fled their homes to escape violence, and many Afghans who had escaped being drawn into the conflict still lived in abject poverty, extremely vulnerable to drought, flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The fragile economy was also likely to suffer, as the departure of foreign troops would hit a country dependent on war spending, from construction to fuel transportation, Stocker added.

“Hardship arising from the economic situation or from severe weather or natural disaster has become more widespread, and hope for the future has been steadily declining,” he said.

Afghanistan’s insecurity also appears to be fuelling its drug control problems. The country is already the world’s largest producer of opium, with the UN saying on Monday the number of Afghan families growing cannabis as a cash crop leaped by more than  a third last year.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/08/afghanistan-collapse-red-cross

Tory adviser denies existence of blueprint to split Afghanistan into ‘kingdoms’

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:09:47 EST, 9  September 2012| UPDATED:17:03 EST, 9 September 2012

A Foreign Office aide has slammed claims that  Afghanistan could be split into eight different ‘kingdoms’ – with some ruled by  the Taliban.

According to the Independent on Sunday  newspaper Tobias Ellwood MP has devised a radical blueprint for the future of  Afghanistan, code-named Plan C, which would see President Hamid Karzai relegated  to a figurehead role.

But speaking to Mail Online, Mr Ellwood said  there was no such plan and that the document in question was a confidential  development report written 18 months ago.

Map showing the eight different regions which could become separate kingdoms including Kabul, which is starred The eight different regions which it was reported could  be made separate kingdoms however Foreign Office aide Tobias Ellwood suggested  the word was ‘provocative’ and that the proposal was to create ‘economic  hubs’

He insisted that there was no question of  creating kingdoms or partitioning the country.

The report, he claimed, aimed to  examine  ways to encourage economic development and ensure the future  stability of the  country and was the result of lengthy consultations  with various Afghan  factions.

He said: ‘There is no question of kingdoms or  partition of any kind.

‘This report is based on the views and  thoughts of the Afghan people including academics and local leaders.

‘This isn’t a plan, it was a private paper  based on observations that were made two years ago.’

According to the Independent on Sunday the  ‘plan’ divides Afghanistan into eight zones – Kabul, Kandahar,  Herat,  Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Jalalabad, Khost and Bamyan.

Mr Ellwood claimed it only considered the  creation of economic hubs ‘completely different’ from kingdoms or  partitions.

The zones would be run by a council  representing different ethnic groups and overseen by one or more foreign  countries.

Mr Ellwood described the use of the word  ‘Kingdom’ as ‘inaccurate’ and ‘extremely provocative’.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai

According to the Independent on Sunday newspaper Tobias  Ellwood MP, left, has devised a  blueprint for the future of Afghanistan  which would see President Hamid Karzai, right, relegated to a figurehead  role

The newspaper quoted the report as  reading:  ‘The Taliban will not enter into a meaningful dialogue if there is no feasible  political strategy within which they can participate…  An alternative solution  [offers] a less centralised political structure  that better reflects the ethnic  make-up of the country, the already  established economic hubs and the regional  interest of the Taliban, who  might then be encouraged towards a political  settlement.’

The existence of the report was  reportedly  confirmed by a senior government source who said it had been  presented to  Foreign Secretary William Hague and to the White House.

critics have warned that Britain  should not  be imposing a system on Afghanistan and instead should be  concentrating on  removing military forces by 2014.

Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the  Afghanistan Analysts Network, told the Independent on Sunday: ‘Splitting the  country into such regions will result in the empowerment of what we have started  calling ‘local (or regional) power brokers’ and what was  known as ‘warlords’  before, whose misrule between 1992 and 1996 caused  the rise of the Taliban in  the first place.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2200619/Plan-split-Afghanistan-kingdoms-ruled-Taliban.html#ixzz2628zx0hu