May 4, 2012

Xinhua news report on Obama-Karzai deal

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — David Isby @ 1:37 pm

Xinhua “Analysis”: “Striking Strategic Pact With U.S. Can Serve as Stabilizing Factor in Afghanistan”
Xinhua
Thursday, May 3, 2012
KABUL, May 3 (Xinhua) — Afghanistan and U.S. after almost 18 months of tough negotiations finally inked the much-awaited strategic partnership late Tuesday night.

President Barack Obama during a short unannounced trip to Afghan capital Kabul late Tuesday night signed the pact with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai amid increasing Taliban-led insurgency.
“I believe inking this agreement is vital for Afghanistan towards achieving stability,” a political analyst Fazal Sangcharaki told Xinhua.
However, he welcomed the agreement with observations, saying ” there are problems in the contents” but did not specify, adding the Afghan parliament would amend that points.
Afghanistan and U.S. signed the much-awaited strategic agreement which allowed U.S. to continue backing the militancy-hit country after 2014 for a decade until 2024.
President Barack Obama returned home early Wednesday after paying a surprise visit to Kabul late Tuesday night, inking the strategic pact with President Karzai and visiting his troops to main U.S. military base in Bagram.
According to a fact sheet provided by the White House, the Strategic Partnership Agreement “provides for the possibility of U. S. forces in Afghanistan after 2014, for the purposes of training Afghan Forces and targeting the remnants of al-Qaeda.”
The White House said the Americans “do not seek permanent military bases in Afghanistan,” but the agreement “commits Afghanistan to provide U.S. personnel access to and use of Afghan facilities through 2014 and beyond.”
Around 130,000-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) including some 90,000 Americans are going to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
“One of the positive points in the agreement is the commitment of U.S. not to use Afghan soil against any nations particularly Afghanistan’s neighboring states,” Sangcharaki went on to say.
A day after the signing the controversial agreement, Afghan President Hamid Karzai defended the deal, saying the national interests of Afghanistan had been taken into account and hoped the pact would be approved by Afghan parliament and United States’ Congress.
Signing agreement with U.S., according to Afghan analyst Sangcharaki, speaks of international community’s long-term support to Afghanistan which ultimately gives the strong message to armed militants that violence is not the way to achieve the goal in Afghanistan.
Taliban militants who have been fighting both Afghan and NATO- led troops and stormed a foreign compound in Kabul hours after President Obama’s visit to Afghanistan have vowed to continue war till the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
Zabihullah Mujahid who claims to speak for the Taliban outfit has told media via telephone from unknown locations that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (name of ousted Taliban regime) would launch their spring offensive dubbed “Al-Farooq” from May 3, 2012 and the targets are foreign and Afghan troops as well as legislators and government functionaries.
“In my opinion the strategic pact with U.S. in the long term would lead to durable peace and viable security in Afghanistan,” the Afghan analyst said.

Taliban spokesman in London Arabic paper

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — David Isby @ 1:32 pm

Interview via internet with Taliban Media Spokesman Qari Ahmadi Yusuf, by Muhammad al-Shafi’i in London; date not given: “Taliban Media Spokesman to Al-Sharq al-Awsat: Winning Media is Winning More Than Half the Battle; Qari Ahmadi Yusuf: Social Communication Websites Are Our Voice to the Outside World; Our Islamic Values Made US Win”
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Saturday, April 14, 2012

If you want to know why the Taliban of Afghanistan agreed to hold talks with the United States although it is waging a ferocious fighting against the world’s most powerful army; or what will happen to girls’ schools if Taliban return to power; the monthly salary of Taliban elements; from where does Taliban receive donations; how they communicate with the outside world; how they recruit followers; or how they follow up media outlets; all you have to do is to visit (Taliban) website and put your questions. Qari Ahmadi Yusuf, media spokesman for Taliban, whom Al-Sharq al-Awsat interviewed via internet, will reply to your questions. It is noticeable that this Taliban figure has a competent media organ, which follows up and analyzes news and submits reports to Taliban’s higher echelons. Despite being busy with fighting, he personally communicates through Twitter and Facebook. He regards (winning) the media war as winning more than half the battle. He says that what is most important in the media war is “winning over the hearts and minds of followers, which can only be won by telling the truth. The interview follows:

(Al-Shafi’i) Would Taliban spokesman Qari Ahmadi Yusuf tell us something about himself? Where did he go to school?

How old is he? Has he memorized the Koran in religious schools? Is he specialized in Muslim jurisprudence and shari’ah or in the media field? Did he go to high school?

(Yusuf) I am 37 years old. I studied modern sciences at a high school. I have memorized and chant the Koran, God willing. I finished shari’ah education in various religious schools. I recite poetry and am good at writing all forms of Arabic and Persian calligraphy. I speak Pashtu (mother tongue), Persian, and have some knowledge of Arabic, English, and Urdu.

(Al-Shafi’i) How long have you been involved in Afghan jihad?

(Yusuf) Since the final days of the jihad against the Communist rule in Afghanistan.

(Al-Shafi’i) Are you married? Do you have sons, if so, how old is your eldest son?

(Yusuf) Yes, I am married and have sons. My son, Muhammad, is the oldest, and is 12 years old.

(Al-Shafi’i) In view of your engagement in jihad, how do you communicate with family and sons?

(Yusuf) Most often I am away from my family and kinsfolk, but I am in constant touch with them.

(Al-Shafi’i) As an authentic Pashtu, which holy Koran’s verse do you recite morning and evening?

(Yusuf) As a Muslim muhajid, I often recite verse 23 of Sura Al-Ahzab: “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with God: of them some have completed their vow to the extreme, and some still wait, but they have not changed their determination in the least (Al-Ahzab, verse 33:23)

(Al-Shafi’i) Are you good at using social communication media, such as computers, internet, Facebook, and Twitter?

(Yusuf) Yes, praise be to God; I use computers and have pages on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

(Al-Shafi’i) Why did you ban computers, television, girls’ schools, and the internet during the Taliban rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001?

(Yusuf) Afghanistan’s circumstances were then extremely difficult. Besides, there was the local fighting behind which many foreign parties stood. There was also the unjust blockade and sanctions imposed on us, let alone the poor economic situation. These factors prevented us from carrying out basic development projects in terms of education and health facilities, and other public services and utilities. We should not forget that the Soviets left the country in ruins, and planted millions of landmines, which killed and wounded people every day. In addition, the Soviets did not pay compensation for the ferocious war that destroyed Afghanistan. For this reason, the ban you mention was not deliberate on our part as much an it was imposed on us. It is like the aggressive war that the United States has imposed on us for more than 10 years. The things you mentioned were not banned in Afgha nistan, for we did use computers in our administrative offices, and girls went to schools for medical education. We used and benefited from the internet; they were not banned, rather, their misuse was.

(Al-Shafi’i) Do you have experts in computers and information technology?

(Yusuf) Our youths are characterized by intelligence, resolve, and patience. They have learned a great deal under the harsh war circumstances. They will learn more after our country has been liberated and the Islamic rule is reestablished. The world will be astonished by the Afghan youths’ achievements in all modern fields.

(Al-Shafi’i) Is communication through the internet currently important to the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan?

(Yusuf) The media is a basic and important part of the ongoing war between us and the occupation enemy. (Winning) the media war means, perhaps, winning more than half the war. We communicate with our people in Afghanistan and beyond, explain our cause, and make our voice heard among all Muslims and in the world in general. Needless to say, we lack technical and material resources, but we do not lack determination and faith, something that our enemy does not have. More important than resources are truthful reporting. This makes our media outdo the enemy’s media, notwithstanding the enormous resources at the latter’s disposal. It is the Islamic values that make us triumph and outdo the enemy in the media field as well as in the battlefield.

(Al-Shafi’i) Many people visit your website; do you communicate with them?

(Yusuf) Visiting websites is not more difficult than joining jihad and the battlefield. More important than visiting websites is winning over the minds and hearts of the masses who visit websites. This can only be won by truthful reporting, and faith in the justice of our people’s cause and in their jihad against aggressors in defense of our religion and homeland.

(Al-Shafi’i) Do you read Arabic newspapers or follow up, for instance, what is written in US and Western papers, or do you regard the latter as satanic papers?

(Yusuf) We follow up everything we can have access to, such as media reports and scientific material, which is part of our mission. We particularly follow up any reports relating to our cause, even if indirectly. Naturally, this is the mission of our media organ, which follows up and analyzes what it monitors and submits reports to the higher echelons. We can easily recognize satanic acts whether in newspapers or in other domains.

(Al-Shafi’i) The believers are known to have “sweet tongues,” what kind of food do you like?

(Yusuf) I do not slight any food in deference to the Prophet’s tradition, “God’s messenger does not at all slight any kind of food; if he likes it, he will eat it; if not, he will leave it.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Al-Tarmadhi, and Ibn Majah). Yet I like Al-Tharid, the favorite Afghan meal.

(Al-Shafi’i) Why did the Taliban of Afghanistan agree to hold talks with the United States although it is waging a fierce combat against the world’s most powerful army? Why were the Doha talks suspended? Have you closed down the Taliban office in Qatar?

(Yusuf) The objective of continuing jihad against the occupiers and of holding talks with them is the same, namely to expel the aggressive armies and reestablish Islamic rule in the country. Continuing or suspending the negotiations is contingent on achieving that objective. We stopped the talks because we found out that the enemy sought to prolong the negotiation for no useful purpose, and to exploit the talks to serve his interest.

(Al-Shafi’i) How do the Afghan youths communicate with Taliban? And how do new youths join Taliban?

(Yusuf) The Islamic Emirate is an authentic part of the Afghan people. The sons of our people join the ranks of Taliban everywhere in the country. So there is no problem of communication or of joining all forms of jihad. The jihadist activity accommodates youths, the elderly, and children. A jihadis t home can only stand on jihadist women who make sacrifices and take care of their homes.

(Al-Shafi’i) How much do you pay a Taliban jihadist in monthly salary? Do you pay them in dollars? Please do not tell me that jihad is in the cause of God, because a jihadist has a family and children to provide for. How much does a jihadist receive in monthly salary; $200? Where do you get your financial aid?

(Yusuf) First, we do not have people who are paid in dollars; that blight exists somewhere else. You can ask about this in Kabul or many other capitals. It is well known that the Afghan banknotes, which were printed by the occupation, are pegged to the currency of the occupiers, namely the US dollar. This is the case in all countries that are controlled by the United States. The Afghan people provide financial aid to Taliban. Were it otherwise, jihad would not have begun in the first place, or would have stopped long ago. The global US influence is well known, and no one dares challenge it except few, rare people. The Islamic Emirate pays salaries to only a limited number of people who devote their time to particular missions. The majority of the mujahidin are provided for by their families or tribes.

Taliban offers part of the financial aid and logistical support to various fronts while the Afghan people and tribes offer the other part, as the mujahidin are the sons of those tribes. Even during the Taliban rule, tribes would send their sons to join our forces and undertake to pay their personal cost and that of their families. Tribes play a very major social role in Afghanistan, a role of great effectiveness in time of jihad that the country is going through.

(Al-Shafi’i) What is your response to those who defect from Taliban, according to Afghan government statements as part of the reconciliation program?

(Yusuf) Taliban have already explained this issue as part of the psychological warfare against the mujahidin aimed at frustrating the people to depart from jihad. The elements that surrendered are government supporters and war lords’ followers who receive enormous funds from the occupation in return for propagating those empty claims. In the final days of the Soviet occupation, we witnessed a similar government campaign using the pretext of reconciliation, a campaign that cost a great deal of funds. In addition, weapons were distributed as bribe to those who jumped on the wagon of that reconciliation campaign to reap material benefit. However, the mujahidin forced the Soviet occupiers to flee the country and brought down the Kabul government. The mujahidin now have the same program, which absolutely has nothing to do with reconciliation with the occupation or with the Kabul regime.

(Al-Shafi’i) The question that is often asked is what will happen to girls’ schools if Taliban returns to power?

(Yusuf) This question is part of the psychological campaign. It is an early attempt against Taliban’s upcoming rule, and is aimed at diverting attention from the key problem, namely the problem of occupation and its continuing crimes against the Afghan people — men, women, and children. The occupiers are not friends of education or women. They are enemies of all Afghan people and of all Muslims. Under the rule of the Islamic Emirate, no one no matter how powerful, would take more than the Islamic shari’ah determines; and no one, no matter how weak, would be denied one’s rights that are enshrined in the shari’ah. The question has absolutely nothing to do with whims, temperaments, or the wishes of the corrupt or the oppressive states no matter how powerful they are. What counts with regard to education is compliance with the shari’ah tenets, whether with regard to the education of boys or girls. The shari’ah urges education for boys and girls from early age to the end of life. Education of boys and girls, for instance, is being used by the occupation to combat Islam in the hearts of the coming generations, just as the Soviets had sought to do in Afghanistan. We are opposed to the m isuse of the education process aimed at changing the faith, identity, and culture of the nation. We are not opposed to education in itself whether for boys or girls.

(Al-Shafi’i) Can we say that you are determined to wage the communication and information warfare until the end?

(Yusuf) As long as we are in a state of war, we will use all modern means available, and acquire all possible expertise. After we liberate the country, the acquisition of modern science and technology will be our basic challenge to develop and strengthen our country and improve the standard of living of our people who suffered a great deal from the aggression of the occupiers and the greedy.

(Al-Shafi’i) Do you have a shari’ah mufti? What is his name? You need one to answer your questions on jihad, battles, and daily life affairs? Or do you turn to the so-called the Afghanistan Religious Scholars Council?

(Yusuf) We have numerous religious scholars in most parts of the country. They offer advice and explain shari’ah tenets on all aspects of life that face the mujahidin and citizens alike. They also conduct trials to settle disputes in liberated areas, which currently cover most parts of the country. The Islamic Emirate offers advice and shari’ah verdicts on important issues referred by field commanders and religious scholars in all areas. The Islamic Emirate appoints to the Fatwa Council those who have the required qualifications in religious education, who are pious, and well-versed in jihad culture. Those who make use of their religious education to serve a government appointed by the occupation and protected by its forces do not have such qualifications.

(Al-Shafi’i) Can we regard your posting Koranic verses on Facebook, Twitter, and websites as jihad, or is that intended to proliferate Islam?

(Yusuf) The use of appropriate means of communication is left to the discretion of the preacher and his assessment of the situation. It is wise to say that every situation requires particular manner of handling. Spreading Islam is the duty of every Muslim, if he can.

(Al-Shafi’i) Can the civilians who are killed in battles because of you or by NATO forces be regarded as martyrs?

(Yusuf) This question is inspired by the UN bodies’ statements, which hold the mujahidin responsible for the killing of many civilians. This is not a surprising calumny coming as it does from this international body. What every Afghan national knows is that the US and NATO forces practice systematic annihilation of our Muslim people. They use every means everywhere to kill people, in villages, on roads, in safe homes, in transportation means, in funerals and in weddings, they do this day and night. They also use aircraft and airborne forces for that purpose. War generals in the Pentagon and in Kabul plan for such massacres, which are carried out by mercenaries and soldiers who are sane or half insane. Fortunately, American soldiers themselves took photos of many of these massacres. What has been leaked about these massacres, notwithstanding their heinous and horrific nature, only shows a small part of our people’s bloody tragedy. And you ask me if these victims are martyrs? I leave the answer to your question to your shari’ah knowledge and your conscience as a journalist.

(Al-Shafi’i) As Taliban official in charge of the media, what is the hardest situation you have faced; and from experience, what is the most difficult question you have been asked?

(Yusuf) No doubt, the most difficult situation any mujahidin media official faces is receiving news of the martyrdom of commanders or of media soldiers in the battlefield. As for the most difficult question I have ever heard, it is your question about the most difficult question.

(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic — Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL: http://www.asharqalawsat.com/)

May 1, 2012

On Post-2014 US military presence

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — David Isby @ 11:59 am

U.S. OFFICIALS ENVISION SMALL FOOTPRINT IN AFGHANISTAN AFTER FIGHTING STOPS

23 April 2012
Inside the Army
Vol. 24, No. 16
English

With U.S.-led combat operations in Afghanistan slated to ramp down next year, State and Defense department officials have begun hatching an end game to America’s massive military engagement in that country, projecting a footprint of 5,000 personnel on the ground after diplomats take over, according to officials and documents.

The plan for a State Department-led mission is reminiscent of developments last year in Iraq, where the American Embassy in Baghdad took the lead, managing approximately 15,000 personnel. Planning a similar transition in Afghanistan is markedly different, however, because fighting there continues to rage and, by leaders’ accounts, steep challenges remain before security objectives can be achieved.

State Department and DOD leaders created the Afghanistan Ad-hoc Executive Steering Group to prepare the internal U.S. government handover. The panel is co-chaired by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Logistics Management Catherine Ebert-Gray and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Program Support Gary Motsek. The group meets monthly. Its next meeting is scheduled for April 24, according to officials.

A State Department spokeswoman confirmed the government’s estimated footprint of individuals working for the United States in Afghanistan following the transition: “5,000 is a rough initial projection of the number of personnel, including U.S., third country nationals, and local nationals (including contractors) associated with Mission Afghanistan,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email to Inside the Army.

The figure first appeared in an internal Army summary of a March 27 meeting prepared for service leaders. The meeting included officials from the Defense and State departments, the Joint Staff, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, the Army and the program management office for the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program.

The State Department plan is to divide the country into four zones — regional hubs would be in Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar — plus Kabul, according to the summary.

After the transition, diplomats would still depend on certain military capabilities, including medical services, “quick-reaction forces,” airfield services, personnel recovery and explosive ordnance disposal, according to the Army’s meeting summary.

“The main take-away for this session is that the developing [State Department] plan depends on DoS understanding the Department of Defense way ahead for operations in the country,” the summary states. Officials want to “minimize” dependence on LOGCAP support as they prepare contract support strategies, the document adds.

Defense officials could not comment on exact time lines associated with the planning efforts, saying President Obama’s announcement last year of a drawdown by the end of 2014 continues to serve as guidance.

Meanwhile, in Brussels last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed the way ahead in Afghanistan with coalition governments. The ministerial meeting was a precursor to the NATO summit in Chicago next month, where decisions about the international community’s end game in Afghanistan are expected to be made.

Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee on April 19, Panetta said the U.S. government’s goal for Afghanistan is to have “an enduring presence there that represents a continuing effort to provide support to the Afghans on counterterrorism, on training, advice and assist in other areas.”

As was the plan in Iraq, defense officials hope that indigenous army and police forces in Afghanistan can eventually provide for the country’s security. What complicates matters, however, is the ability for violent extremists to retreat across the porous border with Pakistan. — Sebastian Sprenger

September 20, 2011

Russia Military Exercise Postulates Afghan threat

Filed under: Afghanistan — Tags: , — David Isby @ 10:19 am

Russia: Exercise Tsentr-2011 Targets Islamic Terrorist Influx From Afghanistan
Article by Denis Telmanov under rubric “Politics”: “Tsentr-2011 Targeted Tanks at Islamists: Izvestiya Learned Whom Russia Will ‘Fight’ in the Largest Exercise in Central Asia”
Izvestiya Online
Tuesday, September 6, 2011 T19:57:33Z
Journal Code: 9241 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
Word Count: 757
Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited. Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder. Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. Photo Anatoliy Zhdanov, Izvestiya

According to the plan of the maneuvers, the simulated enemy of the Russian Armed Forces in Exercise Tsentr-2011 will be bandit forces and other illegal armed force elements (formirovaniye), not regular army units of a fictitious country as was the case earlier in Vostok-2010 and Zapad-2009. Thus, in the maneuvers Russia along with ODKB (Collective Security Treaty Organization –CSTO) partners will rehearse a war against Islamic terrorists, whose influx from Afghanistan following the withdrawal of NATO forces from that country remains the principal threat of the next several years.

They will destroy the “terrorists” with everything there is in the Russian Armed Forces inventory: tanks, helicopters, combat aircraft, and even missiles. Tank and motorized rifle brigades and battalions will be the main striking force. They will pound the “enemy” with the active support of airborne troopers and the Spetsnaz.

“In contrast to exercises against regular units, Tsentr proposes to rehearse more selective actions by the military, including in a city among civilian residents and under conditions of mass disorders,” an Armed Forces spokesman noted.

Such selectiveness will be achieved using the actions of small groups and employing precision-guided munitions and the newest means of command and control, navigation, and communications, including the unified tactical command and control system.

The military acknowledged, however, that the Russian Army does not have sufficient unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), light armored vehicles, and digital command and control systems for maximum effectiveness in local conflicts.

“There are many armored vehicles in the Army, but practically none of the special vehicles with enhanced mine protection needed for transporting personnel and cargoes over mined roads. Individual models are being tested for now,” the Defense Ministry spokesman noted.

It is a similar situation with UAVs: those in the inventory do not allow commanders to view the battlefield with necessary resolution as they should. And there are none of the attack UAVs at all which NATO uses actively in Afghanistan to kill the Taliban.

The military hope that all these shortcomings will be remedied based on results of Tsentr. At any rate, the country’s leadership will take necessary steps for this.

In addition to Russian troops, subunits of the armed forces of Kazakhstan and Tajikistan will be in action in the exercise. These Central Asian states, which cooperate with Russia in the CSTO, directly encounter the threat from radical Islamic organizations and their armed force elements.

“Now we will learn to operate against bandits, looters, and pogromists joined in small groups,” a high-ranking Defense Ministry source explained to Izvestiya.

Recent events in Kyrgyzstan, where there were armed clashes between the Kyrgyz and Uzbeks accompanied by pogroms and pillaging in the summer of last year, add urgency to the exercise. Hundreds of persons died and thousands were wounded.

“The mission of the upcoming exercise is to rehearse actions to stabilize the situation and ensure the state’s integrity on southern borders,” the Izvestiya source added.

Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Deputy Director Konstantin Makiyenko believes the skills received in the upcoming exercise will come in handy for the Russian military in fighting the Taliban.

“That scenario is more than urgent. The upcoming withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan will complicate the situation by freeing up considerable Taliban forces, who with very high likelihood will attempt to extend their influence to the North, provoking interethnic and interreligious clashes in the former Soviet republics of Central Asia — Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Under these conditions Russia will be unable to remain uncommitted: a fire in Central Asia will affect us as well, so we have to prepare for the confrontation already now,” the expert believes.

We will recall that Exercise Tsentr-2011 will take place on seven military ranges of Russia, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan at the end of September and beginning of October. Armed forces of CSTO member countries, including subunits of the Collective Rapid Reaction Force (KSOR), will take part.

(Description of Source: Moscow Izvestiya Online in Russian — Website of large-circulation daily that is majority-owned by Yuriy Kovalchuk’s National Media Group and usually supports the Kremlin; URL: http://www.izvestia.ru/)

Bamiyan – Report on Taliban violence

Filed under: Afghanistan — Tags: , , , — David Isby @ 10:10 am

aleban kill three Afghan police personnel in central Bamian Province
Afghan Islamic Press
Friday, September 2, 2011 T14:55:27Z
Journal Code: 7950 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
Word Count: 404
Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited. Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder. Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.

Text of report by private Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency

Kabul, 2 September: Three police personnel have been killed in a Taleban attack in Bamian Province. Three police personnel and a civilian have been killed in an attack by the armed opponents in Bamian Province. The crime branch police chief of Bamian Province, Chaman Ali, has told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) that late last evening, 1 September, armed Taleban attacked a Ranger police vehicle in an area between Saighan and Kohmard districts of the province, as a result of which three police personnel and a civilian onboard the vehicle were killed.

He added: The Taleban struck the Ranger with a rocket launcher, as a result of which the vehicle was totally destroyed.

Chaman Ali said that no one had been detained in this connection yet, but made it clear that an investigation had been launched to find out how the Taleban managed to reach those areas enjoying good security.

Although Chaman Ali said that three police personnel had been killed in the attack, the Bamian governor spokesman Abdorrahman Ahmadi has told the media that four police soldiers, including a police officer, had been killed, and a civilian wounded, in the attack.

The Taleban have not yet commented on this, but their spokesman Zabihollah Mojahed has told AIP that last evening, 1 September, the Taleban attacked a police vehicle with landmine in the Tala wa Barfak District of Baghlan Province, killing seven police personnel.

It is worth pointing out that the Saighan and Kohmard districts of Bamian Province borders Tala wa Barafk District of Baghlan Province.

(Description of Source: Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto — Peshawar-based agency, staffed by Afghans, that describes itself as an independent “news agency” but whose history and reporting pattern reveal a perceptible pro-Taliban bias; the AIP’s founder-director, Mohammad Yaqub Sharafat, has long been associated with a mujahidin faction that merged with the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate” led by Mullah Omar; subscription required to access content; http://www.afghanislamicpress.com)

October 14, 2010

Translation – Spanish Army in Afghanistan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — David Isby @ 9:05 am

Spanish Army Chief Praises ‘High Morale’ of Troops in Afghanistan
Interview with Chief of the Army General Staff Gen Fulgencio Coll by Angel Collado in Madrid on 26 September: “‘Troops Know That They Go to Afghanistan To Fight, Are Well Prepared'”
ABC.es
Tuesday, September 28, 2010 T15:47:31Z
Journal Code: 1494 Language: ENGLISH Record Type: FULLTEXT
Document Type: OSC Translated Text
Word Count: 1,366

Material in the World News Connection is generally copyrighted by the source cited.
Permission for use must be obtained from the copyright holder.
Inquiries regarding use may be directed to NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce.

Fulgencio Coll (born Mallorca, 1948), chief of the General Staff of the Army, has the largest number of Spanish citizens — 86,000 — under his direct command and is responsible for the training of almost all troops deployed overseas.

Veteran of the operations in Bosnia and Iraq — he led the latest contingent deployed in the area –, he is especially proud of the troops serving in Afghanistan — “meticulous training, always magnificent reaction” — and is preparing for further belt-tightening in view of the new budget cuts. Disciplined and with a “good memory,” the army general stressed that the Armed Forces are losing capabilities, which will have to be restored later, “as soon as the situation allows.”

(Collado) Considering the current resources and staff, is the army stretched to the limit in terms of being able to relieve the troops serving abroad?

(Coll) We are not stretched to the limit. A ceiling of 7,700 has been set on the number of servicemen deployed abroad. Some 2,400 army servicemen and servicewomen are now taking part in this kind of missions.
Our capacity can still be increased, if requested.

(Collado) Have the changes in the mission in Afghanistan, leaving the bases to fight for the control of territory, triggered a change in the training of the units?

(Coll) Our training system, through the general headquarters of the land forces and the training and doctrine command, enable us to instantaneously integrate any lesson we have learned. We adapt to a new situation immediately. We provide our troops with the appropriate training and equipment, so that they will be able to do a good job in the area of operations.

(Collado) Are there plans to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan?

(Coll) No, an increase in the number of troops is not to be expected and we are able to relieve the troops in an efficient way.

(Collado) Have the troops’ equipment and weapons been improved? Do the troops have more firepower to defend the new forward operating bases on the outskirts of Qala-e Naw, Ludina, and Muqur?

(Coll) We have provided more protection and sought the best location for those forward operating bases. We continue to rely on the same resources, which we consider to be enough for the time being.

(Collado) Will these bases be supplied with artillery?

(Coll) This is not to be expected.

(Collado) Are the troops deployed in Afghanistan aware that they will have to engage in combat?

(Coll) They are aware of this and they receive meticulous training so as to be able to repel the attacks that they undergo. The high quality of the training has been demonstrated on the ground, where the troops always react in a magnificent way.

(Collado) Does the fact that the Spanish public is receiving vague information about the work of the troops and the risks that they are facing in the war in Afghanistan have an impact on the troop’s morale?

(Coll) The Spanish troops that are sent to Afghanistan are well prepared and have high morale, even when they return. We have to explain what we are doing there. We have to convey a very clear idea: securing Afghanistan means security for Spain. Security means progress and a future perspective. Engaging in combat thousands of kilometers away from Spain and Europe has an impact on Spain’s security. This is the idea that we should convey.

(Collado) Are you referring to the political authorities?

(Coll) I am referring to the overall strategy. Our troops are aware that they are making efforts and sacrifices for the sake of our future, security in Afghanistan, and national and global security.

(Collado) Is the increase in the number of clashes and skirmishes a result of the Spanish troops’ decision to increase patrols outside the base or of the Taliban offensive?

(Coll) There are more clashes, because we have enlarged the territory that we occupied two years ago by a factor of five. That is the key to success in this operation: to enlarge the territory under the control of the Afghan authorities. This has logically resulted in more clashes.

(Collado) Is the hardest part, gaining control over the Taliban stronghold in the valley of Bala Murghab, yet to come?

(Coll) We have to gain control over more areas. The freedom of movement throughout the province should be guaranteed. There is still a lot to be done.

(Collado) Is the worst yet to come in the mission in Afghanistan, as Petraeus said?

(Coll) Petraeus referred to the time of the transfer, as, in fact, has happened over the past few weeks. However, the main goal is the so-called “Afghanization” and progress is being made in this respect.

(Collado) Does setting withdrawal dates entail giving the Taliban a head start?

(Coll) Rather than mathematical calculations, the withdrawal dates are points of reference. The schedules that have already been set show the pace at which we want to transfer responsibilities to the Afghan authorities. That is the “Afghanization;” the Afghan military and security forces, army, and government should be able to gradually take the responsibility. The number of training teams has been increased and they are going in the right direction.

(Collado) Who is winning the war in Afghanistan?

(Coll) We are winning and progress is being made in the “Afghanization,” although everybody thinks otherwise.

(Collado) Is the mission in Afghanistan the one you are most proud of?

(Coll) The mission in Afghanistan is the most demanding and I am pleased with the efficiency, commitment, and morale of our troops. The example set by our troops in the area of operations is giving a chief of the general staff of the army a reason to be proud of being a soldier. This shows the servicemen’s spirit of service to Spain. However, we have to remember all the injured soldiers and those who died in other hard missions, such as Bosnia, where our troops behaved heroically.

(Collado) Do the defense budget cuts jeopardize the Armed Forces’ operational performance?

(Coll) We have implemented austerity plans and cuts since 2008, since the first instructions were given. We guaranteed the security and the training of the forces serving abroad in the first place. The budget cuts have limited our capacities, but we have set priorities. For example, we have given precedence to creating small units — sections, companies, and battalions — over big ones in order to save money. We have not lost our memory and we expect to recover those big capabilities when the economy returns to normal.

(Collado) Can the army tighten its belt even further?

(Coll) We will tighten our belt depending on the budget, but if we have to tighten our belt even further, we will. We will try to make it as painless as possible.

(Collado) However, the current cuts have already forced you to put a third of the fleet of military vehicles out of operation.

(Coll) We will then have to put 40 of 50 percent of them out of operation.
There is still room to maneuver, but regaining those capabilities will be very important later.

(Collado) Are the wheeled armored vehicles BMR, which are no longer used in missions abroad, fit for use in Spain, despite being obsolete?

(Coll) They are being used to train and prepare our forces, but it would be good to replace them as soon as possible.

(Collado) How urgent is it for the army to receive the new 8×8 armored vehicles, whose delivery has been postponed indefinitely?

(Coll) To us, that program is very important and we see it as an absolute priority. The army is clear that this is the most urgent thing as soon as the economic situation allows.

(Description of Source: Madrid ABC.es in Spanish — Website of ABC, center-right national daily; URL: http://www.abc.es)

May 26, 2010

Italian press on Spanish troops

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — David Isby @ 10:12 am

Italian War Casualties Seen as Result of Spain’s Unwillingness To Deploy Troops
Report by Gianandrea Gaiani: “Zapatero Wants No Shooting, Italians Die in Herat To Cover the Spanish”
Il Giornale
Wednesday, May 19,

Around the Bala Murghab outpost, where the Taliban attack that on Monday killed two Alpini and wounded two others took place, Italian troops have been fighting for almost two years alongside their US and Afghan counterparts. The context is one of ambushes, rocket fire and mortar fire against the allied base, or else violent shoot-outs like those engaged in last summer by paratroopers of the Folgore division, or attacks using IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) sown along mountain tracks, which only in Afghanistan can be called roads. Clashes sustained by the Italians even if in those areas operations should be up to the Spanish contingent, which has upped the number of its units, reaching over 1,500, and in nine years has sustained 28 casualties, eight of whom due to enemy fire. Bala Murghab

Bala Murghab is located, in fact, in the north of the province of Badghis, one of the four assigned to the Western Regional Command, which NATO has placed under Italian command. Madrid’s contingent maintains a garrison at the Herat airport, and is in charge of the province of Badghis, where it has set up a base at Qal-i-Now, equipped with a small airport that is utilized by cargo planes and allied helicopters. It is also the seat of the Provincial Reconstruction Team, which is in charge of putting up infrastructure on behalf of the local population. From Qal-i-Now Spanish columns moving along the hilly terrain have suffered numerous attacks, but they no longer venture into the “hotter” area of Bala Murghab. After the Friuli air-infantry brigade reached this outpost, in August 2008, the garrison was assigned, on a rotation basis, also to Spanish units. However, the intensification of fire-fights in that area prompted Madrid to withdraw its troops, and to give up guarding Bala Murghab, in compliance with the “caveats” posed by the (Spanish Prime Minister) Zapatero government relative to deploying the (Spanish) contingent. Such limitations allow Spanish soldiers to fight only to defend themselves, and therefore undermine the availability of forces assigned to the Italian general who commands the western sector, and who currently is Alpine Commander General Claudio Berto. “National assets”

The Spanish troops depend officially on the allied command in Herat, but Madrid has maintained control over the most important military equipment deployed in Afghanistan. Remote-piloted reconnaissance aircraft have been defined by Madrid as “national assets,” and therefore are to fly only in support of Spanish troops, just like the three precious CH-47 cargo helicopters, which are based in Herat, but cannot be utilized in allied operations. This is just the opposite of what the Italians and Americans do, when they use all available equipment on behalf of the coalition, and of the Afghan forces, and therefore also of the Spanish, who in many cases were able to save their patrols from Taliban ambushes thanks only to intervention by US jets and Italian Mangusta attack helicopters.

In war, soldiers who do no fight are not much liked, and a few months ago some military blogs carried the complaints by US troops posted at the Spanish base of Qal-i-Now. Complaints that were ill received and even less tolerated by the Spanish troops, who moreover were judged to be “useless soldiers” by the US combatants. The intensification of clashes at Bala Murghab, where the only ones not fighting are the Spanish, who instead are supposed to be in charge of the area, has inevitably heightened tensions. Grumbling in Rome

In Rome, where yesterday (Defense) Minister Ignazio La Russa confirmed that the number of Italian troops would go up to 4,000 by the end of the year, the mood is definitely hostile to Spain’s wanting to maintain command of the Herat air base, where there are only six Spanish helicopters, whereas the Italians have about thirty. In Camp Arena, many Spanish soldiers do not hide their embarrassment at not being able to fight alongside the allies. The government of Jose Luis Zapatero, moreover, has never hesitated to humiliate from the very outset, in the spring of 2004, when it ordered the immediate withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq. At the airport of Diwanya, Spanish soldiers boarded their planes teary-eyed, while along the runway Polish soldiers mocked them by uttering “chicken squawks.”

(Description of Source: Milan Il Giornale in Italian — right-of-center daily owned by the Berlusconi family)

Translation on Karzai-WJ tension

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — David Isby @ 10:10 am

Afghan leader should learn to respect parliament – paper
Cheragh (Light)
Tuesday, May 25, 2010 T15:02:55Z

Afghan leader should learn to respect parliament – paper

Text of editorial in Dari entitled “Wolasi Jerga (lower house) game with the government in the 90th minute” by independent Afghan newspaper Cheragh on 23 May
Members of parliament have refused to work following their repeated warnings to the president to introduce the remaining members of his cabinet for the parliament’s vote of confidence.
MPs had warned last week that if the remaining 11 cabinet ministers were not presented to the Wolasi Jerga (lower house) of the parliament by Saturday, they will stop to work in protest. The parliament enforced its decision yesterday.
Although the Wolasi Jerga is completing its final days of final year of the parliaments first term and although it appears that most of the MPs are taking such steps because they are running for re-election, the truth is that the culture of dealing with the government lawfully will be strengthened with such actions taken by the Wolasi Jerga and there is no doubt that this will have positive consequences.
Meanwhile, the government and the President in particular should institutionalize emphasis on and respect for the decisions of the Wolasi Jerga, which the constitution describes as a manifestation of the will of the people. The most recent step taken by the Wolasi Jerga can help achieve this objective. It is unfortunate that President Karzai has during the past few years repeatedly turned his back on the decisions of the Wolasi Jerga and, in fact, decisions of the people and has thus fuelled distrust between the government and the people.
It appears that the president should finally learn that respect for the decisions of the people manifested through the parliament is not only his moral obligation but also his legal responsibility. Playing with terminology and killing time in order to achieve anti-national objectives will not only waste time and energy but are also dangerous and damaging to the future of the country.
President Karzai,
You should realize that one of the reasons for increasing disorder in all areas especially sovereignty, which goes deeper into crisis every day, stems from the very lack of respect for people’s views in the parliament and from the cruel treatment of corrupt government officials in the centre and provinces.
The President talks about people when he needs their votes. He then immediately forgets the people. He even does not bother to respect people’s decisions even to put on an act. Even worse, he goes further than this and in certain instances accuses the Wolasi Jerga of, for example, following instructions given to it by foreigners and thus practically insults the people of Afghanistan.
The President is trying to put an end to violence and terrorism by holding the peace jerga. However, if there is no respect for the people and their decisions, nothing will change. It may not be important if nominees for ministerial positions are presented a few days earlier or later. However is it important and vital that the President respects the people and their will? The president can overcome challenges when he enjoys the support of the people. If he does not have people on his side, he may continue to remain in his seat as President for the rest of his term in office, but he will not earn people’s trust and he will not be able to carry out his plans. In order to prevent further deterioration of flaws in security, economy and polity, he should strive to respect people’s decisions and take action for their interests.
(Description of Source: Kabul Cheragh (Light) in Dari — Eight-page independent daily, publishes political, social and cultural articles; sometimes critical of the government)