Putin Objects to U.S. Ending Afghan War: 'We Will Have to Spend More'

Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan poses "risks" for regional security, despite also creating conditions that are potentially conducive to guaranteeing long term peace in the war-torn country.  

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Afghan security forces kill senior al-Qaida leader

Afghan security forces have killed Abu Muhsin al-Masri, a senior al-Qaida leader who was on the FBI’s most-wanted list, Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) said in a tweet late on Saturday. Al-Masri has been charged in the United States with having provided material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organisation, and conspiracy to kill US nationals. Al-Masri, believed to be al-Qaida’s second-in-command, was killed during a special operation in Ghazni province, the NDS said. The FBI declined to comment. The al-Qaida operative, who also went by the name Husam Abd-al-Ra’uf, was an Egyptian national, according to the FBI. Last month, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said fewer than 200 al-Qaida operatives remain in Afghanistan. This month marks 19 years since the US invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban rulers, who had harboured al-Qaida militants behind the September 11 attacks. The US has been gradually drawing down its troops from Afghanistan after striking a deal with the Taliban in February. Under that deal foreign forces are set to leave Afghanistan by May 2021 in exchange for counter-terrorism guarantees from the Taliban, which agreed to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and a power-sharing formula with the Afghan government. The intra-Afghan peace process began in Doha last month. Despite the talks, fighting between Taliban and Afghan government forces has continued in recent weeks. Last week, US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said the Taliban had agreed to “reset” their commitments under a troop withdrawal deal and reduce the number of casualties in the country.

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At least 18 dead in suicide bomb attack in Kabul

At least 18 people have been killed and 57 wounded, including schoolchildren, in a suicide bomb attack outside an education centre in Kabul, the Afghan interior ministry said. The explosion struck outside an education centre in a heavily Shia neighbourhood of western Kabul, Dasht-e-Barchi. The interior ministry spokesman, Tariq Arian, said the attacker was trying to enter the centre when he was stopped by security guards. He said the casualty toll may rise further as family members of the victims are still searching the hospitals where the wounded have been taken. No group claimed immediate responsibility for the bombing. The Taliban rejected any connection with the attack. An affiliate of the so-called Islamic State claimed responsibility for a similar suicide attack at an education centre in August 2018, in which 34 students were killed. Within Afghanistan, Isis has launched large-scale attacks on minority Shia, Sikhs and Hindus, whom it views as apostates. Hundreds of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan fled the country in September after a gunman loyal to the militant group killed 25 members of the shrinking community in an attack on a place of worship in Kabul. The US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February, opening up a path toward withdrawing American troops from the conflict. US officials said the deal would also help refocus security efforts on fighting Isis, which is a rival of the Taliban in Afghanistan. There has been an upsurge in violence between Taliban and Afghan forces in the country recently, even as representatives from the two warring sides begin peace talks in Doha to end the decades-long war in the country. Earlier on Saturday a roadside bomb killed nine people in eastern Afghanistan after it struck a minivan full of civilians, a local official said. A Ghazni province police spokesman said a second roadside bomb killed two policemen, after it struck their vehicle that was making its way to the victims of the first explosion. He added the bombings had wounded several others, and that the attacks were under investigation. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks. The provincial police spokesman claimed the Taliban had placed the bomb.

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Women trampled to death in stampede at Afghan stadium

At least 11 women died in a crush at a football stadium in Afghanistan on Wednesday as thousands of people amassed to get visas to leave the country, officials said.Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of the eastern Nangarhar province, said a further 13 people, mostly women, were injured at the Jalalabad stadium, where they were trying to get visas to enter Pakistan. He said most of those who died were elderly people and they came from across Afghanistan.Separately, at least 36 Afghan police were killed in an ambush by Taliban militants in northern Afghanistan, officials said.It was the deadliest attack since the Taliban and the Afghan government began holding long-delayed peace talks last month, part of a process launched under a deal signed between the US and the insurgents in February. The talks are seen as the country’s best chance for peace after decades of war.Rahim Danish, the director of the main hospital in northern Takhar province, confirmed receiving 36 bodies and said that another eight security forces personnel were wounded.An Afghan security official said the forces were in a convoy that was ambushed. The official, who was not authorised to brief media on the event and so spoke on condition of anonymity, said several police Humvees were set ablaze. Jawad Hijri, a spokesman for the provincial government, said the deputy police chief was among those killed.Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack.Ashraf Ghani, Afghanistan’s president, speaking to parliament, said: “Why are the Taliban killing Afghans?” The Taliban still believed, he suggested, in a “false narrative of conquest”, following a spate of recent attacks, especially in Helmand province.

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Taliban Claims U.S. Violating Peace Deal in Afghanistan

The Taliban accused the U.S. military on Sunday of violating a peace deal the two sides agreed to in February, claiming that the U.S. had carried out “excessive airstrikes” in areas of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province occupied by the Taliban and elsewhere in the country. Muhammad Yousuf Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Islamist terror group, said the peace agreement signed

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Taliban Spokesman on CBS Claim Jihadis Endorsed Trump: 'Nothing of the Sort' Happened

A top spokesman for the Afghan Taliban recently repudiated a CBS News story claiming that the narco-jihadi group wants President Donald Trump to win the upcoming election. Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed the October 11 CBS article as fake news soon after it came out with the headline — “The Taliban on Trump: ‘We Hope He Will Win the Election’ and Withdraw

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Trump Suggests Early Troop Removal from Afghanistan

President Donald Trump recently indicated he wants a withdrawal of the remaining US soldiers in Afghanistan by Christmas. “We should have the small remaining number of our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan at home by Christmas!” the president tweeted on Wednesday, without any additional details. The Taliban welcomed the president’s announcement as an “important step.”  Accelerating the Planned Troop Withdrawal Facilitating the president’s ambitious plan would significantly accelerate the withdrawal agreement of troops between the US and the Taliban. In the past few years, Trump has repeatedly stated his proclivity to cease America’s “endless wars” and bring home the troops. The president’s statement on Wednesday surprised even US officials, however. At the beginning of August this year, the US Department of Defense announced a reduction of US soldiers in Afghanistan from the current 8,600 to 5,000 by November.  Based on the agreement signed with the radical Islamic Taliban on February 29, the United States will gradually withdraws its armed forces from the Hindu Kush until mid-2021. In return, the Taliban have agreed to conduct peace negotiations with the government in Kabul. The negotiations started on September 12 in Qatar. However, the talks lack progress, and the Taliban are continuing their attacks, which have repeatedly killed Afghan security forces and civilians. What Does Washington Want? Washington also demanded a guarantee that Afghanistan would not become a sanctuary for terrorists from all over the world, similar to the Taliban’s previous reign. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, yielded the invasion of the US armed forces in Afghanistan as part of the Global War on Terror. The United States and its allies defeated the Taliban, who gave shelter to the terrorist network Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden and liberated large areas of the nation from the extremists. After 19 years of US troop presence in Afghanistan, Trump’s plan of withdrawal is now a bipartisan consensus including on the part of his challenger Joe Biden.   The president ran on the promise to bring home the troops first in his campaign against Hillary Clinton. His current campaign also emphasizes withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq. However, Trump failed to deliver his campaign promise, particularly in the case of Afghanistan and the announcement on Wednesday, and indeed the confusion it caused, points to this being a reckless campaign maneuver without any actual plans for facilitation.  Fluctuating US Troop Levels in Afghanistan When President Barack Obama left office in January 2017, around 8,400 US soldiers remained in Afghanistan. In his early years in office, Obama dramatically increased the US presence, from just over 30,000 to more than 100,000 at its peak in 2011. Contrary to President Trump’s election rhetoric, his administration increased the troops compared to Obama’s 8,400. It needed the February agreement with the Taliban that the US military reduced its number in Afghanistan from 12,000 to now around 8,600.  The president’s remarks appear particularly ill-advised given the occurrences the past weekend. Two bomb attacks killed at least 18 people in Afghanistan. Authorities announced that 13 people – including three civilians – were killed in northern Sar-e Pul province on Saturday when an explosive device exploded next to a passing vehicle. Three soldiers were also wounded. An hour-long firefight with the Taliban preceded the casualties. Moreover, an explosive device recently went off in the southern Helmand province roadside when a bus drove by. According to the Afghan government, at least five people died. The government blamed the Taliban for the attack. The situation in Afghanistan remains highly volatile, and the peace talks continue to stall. The US President’s comments, purely for election purposes, cannot be helpful. The fact that the Taliban expressed support for the president’s ideas is a warning sign and one ought to be extremely cautious about this kind of development, particularly in the White House. Moreover, the Afghanistan engagement is not a partisan issue in the US. The upside of the president’s pernicious remarks is thus infinitesimal at best. The downside is that this statement results in even less leverage for Qatar’s intra-Afghan negotiation: considering the Afghan government is dealing with extremists it is sufficiently complex already without the president’s self-serving and reckless tweets. 

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Trump Suggests Early Troop Removal

President Trump insinuated a withdrawal of the remaining US soldiers in Afghanistan by Christmas. “We should have the small remaining number of our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan at home by Christmas!” the president twittered on Wednesday, without any additional details. The Taliban welcomed the president’s announcement as an “important step.”  Facilitating the president’s ambitious plan would significantly accelerate the withdrawal agreement of troops between the US and the Taliban. In the past few years, Trump has repeatedly stated his proclivity to cease America’s “endless wars” and to bring home the troops. The president’s statement on Wednesday surprised even US officials, however. At the beginning of August this year, the US Department of Defense announced a reduction of US soldiers in Afghanistan from the current 8,600 to 5,000 by November.  Based on the agreement signed with the radical Islamic Taliban on February 29, the United States gradually withdraws its armed forces from the Hindu Kush until mid-2021. In return, the Taliban conduct peace negotiations with the government in Kabul. The negotiations started on September 12 in Qatar. However, the talks lack progress, and the Taliban are continuing their attacks, which have repeatedly killed Afghan security forces and civilians. Washington also demanded a guarantee that Afghanistan would not become a sanctuary for terrorists from all over the world, similar to the Taliban’s previous reign. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, yielded the invasion of the US armed forces in Afghanistan as part of the Global War on Terror. The United States and its allies defeated the Taliban, who gave shelter to the terrorist network Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden and liberated the nations from the extremists. After 19 years of US troop presence in Afghanistan, Trump’s plan of withdrawal is a bipartisan consensus – including his challenger Joe Biden.   The president has run on the promise to bring home the troops first in his campaign against Hillary Clinton. His current campaign also emphasizes withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the president failed to deliver his campaign promise, particularly in the case of Afghanistan and the announcement on Wednesday, and indeed the confusion it caused, indicates a campaign maneuver without any plans for facilitation.  When President Obama left office in January 2017, around 8,400 US soldiers remained in Afghanistan. In his early years in office, Obama dramatically increased the US presence, from just over 30,000 to more than 100,000 at its peak in 2011. Contrary to President Trump’s election rhetoric, his administration increased the troops compared to Obama’s 8,400. It needed the February agreement with the Taliban that the US military reduced its number in Afghanistan from 12,000 to now around 8,600.  The president’s remarks appear particularly ill-advised given the occurrences the past weekend. Two bomb attacks killed at least 18 people in Afghanistan. Authorities announced that 13 people – including three civilians – were killed in northern Sar-e Pul province on Saturday when an explosive device exploded next to a passing vehicle. Three soldiers were also wounded. An hour-long firefight with the Taliban preceded the casualties. Moreover, an explosive device exploded on the southern Helmand province roadside when a bus drove by. According to the Afghan government, at least five people died. The government blamed the Taliban for the attack. The situation in Afghanistan remains highly volatile, and the peace talks continue to stall. The president’s comments, purely for election purposes, cannot be helpful. Any time the Taliban supporting the president’s ideas, one ought to be extremely cautious, particularly in the White House. Moreover, the Afghanistan engagement is not politically polarised in the US. The upside of the president’s pernicious remarks is thus infinitesimal at best. The downside results in even less leverage for Qatar’s intra-Afghan negotiation, that, considering the government is dealing with extremists, is sufficiently complex already – without the president’s pseudo-self-serving Tweets. 

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Intra-Afghan Peace Talks Have Already Stalled

When talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban began in Doha a week ago, many were hoping for peace for Afghanistan and its people. However, rapprochement between both sides has yet to occur, and the most recent attacks will not make the facilitation of peace any more straightforward. Talks Have Reached an Impasse Over Basic Issues One week after the opening of the intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha, the Taliban delegations and the Afghan government are barely making any headway. The talks have stalled on fundamental and basic issues. For one, the contact groups on both sides – which have to determine the course and framework for the negotiations – have not yet agreed on how the war of the past 19 years should even be described. The Taliban insist on calling it a holy war, a jihad – in an attempt to justify their repugnant attacks that have taken so many lives. Then there is a dispute over the precise definition and rights of different religions and beliefs in the country moving forward. According to the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, different religious communities, such as the Shiites or the Sunnis, are permitted to have different interpretations of Islamic jurisprudence in order to do justice to the diversity of the various religious and ethnic groups in the country. The Taliban, however, seek to allow only their one strict interpretation of Sharia law when regulating religious matters. The Taliban-US Deal The third controversial point is the Doha agreement that the Taliban signed with the US in late February. The Taliban seeks to make it the basis of the intra-Afghan dialogue. In the event that the US concessions, such as the withdrawal of troops, were not facilitated, talks with the government delegation would also lapse. The talks in Doha were also burdened by an airstrike by Afghan against the Taliban positions this past weekend. The Taliban have refused to agree to a ceasefire, and hence the fighting has continued despite the talks. As a result, the country remains in a state of chaos. A chaos that has caused at least 57 casualties among Afghan soldiers across the country in the past few days alone. ‘Unacceptably High’ Level of Violence in Afghanistan The US expects further setbacks during the talks, particularly due to the “unacceptably high level” of violence, the Special Envoy for Afghanistan said on Thursday. Despite the difficulties, the talks represent the best hope for peace in years and result from a February pact between the Taliban and the United States that allows US forces to withdraw in exchange for the Taliban’s promises of terrorism. The Taliban continue to regard the Afghan government as a puppet of the USA and, to this day, refuse to hold direct talks with it. They also regard their fight against the government troops as justified and see themselves as liberators of the Afghan people from a foreign occupying power. From 1996 until the US-led intervention in 2001, the extremist terror regime ruled Afghanistan and harbored the Al-Qaeda terrorist network responsible for the 9/11 attacks. It’s Hard – if Not Impossible – to Negotiate With Extremists The stalling of negotiations, meanwhile, displays what needed to be anticipated: negotiations with extremists are mostly inconceivable if not impossible. With the Afghan government and the US, who have provided the Taliban with a seat at the table on the world stage cognizant of the latter, the question is how many concessions any government is inclined to make in order to establish “peace” with extremists who have caused so much suffering and misery to the country. Moreover, how reliable would such an agreement be in the first place? Furthermore, with all foreign troops due to withdraw from Afghanistan by May of 2021, the pressure on the Afghan government will continue to increase – likely to the detriment of the peace talks.

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Russian Bounties on US Troops Unproven – Democrats Furious

Please respect our republishing guidelines - Click Here Another disgraceful chapter in the decline of the establishment media continues to unfold as the U.S. military on September 14 revealed that it had been unable to corroborate the details of an alarming New York Times article from June. Although it continues to investigate an allegation that the Russian government has offered cash rewards to the Taliban for the killings of American military personnel, a senior Marine Corps general told NBC News that he had uncovered no evidence to support the story. What is more likely, then? That high-level people are willing to go on record denying something they know is true, or that The Times’ anonymous sources either do not exist or are lying? Falsehood Flies, the Truth Limps When it comes to negative stories about the Trump administration, one must be careful. It is always worth weighing the likelihood that someone is perpetrating a smear, against the possibility that honest government officials have uncovered a terrible secret that the president or cabinet officials have been keeping under wraps. In all honesty, both scenarios are almost equally likely when it comes to any U.S. president – or any other world leader, for that matter. A portion of Americans will immediately choose to believe that the story in question is nothing more than a fabrication. Another group will accept without hesitation whatever accusation has been made – needing no further evidence or investigation. Therein lies the payoff for media organizations that, like The New York Times, are interested in only one thing: discrediting and disparaging President Trump and doing all they can to ensure that he does not win a second term in the White House. These media organizations do not care if the tales they put out are debunked or later denied by numerous identified sources – as the Russian bounty story has been. Once it is out there in the public consciousness, nothing else matters. On Twitter and Facebook, the original report will be shared tens of thousands of times. The refutation, when it comes, will be passed around far fewer times. As the Anglo-Irish satirist and author, Jonathan Swift, wrote in 1710: “Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ’d only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…” Case in point, the Trump-Russia collusion hoax. The special counsel concluded that there was no proof of deliberate conspiracy between then-candidate Trump and the Russians. Reams of documents have since come to light, proving multiple instances of political bias on the part of the FBI investigators. Protocols and, in at least one case, laws were broken. Still, the majority of Americans who dislike Trump to this day insist that the president and the Russians collaborated to steal the 2016 election. So it is with the Russian bounty story. Even on the same day that General Frank McKenzie told NBC: “It just has not been proved to a level of certainty that satisfies me,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) tweeted: “Plain & simple: Donald Trump has gone 80 days without condemning [Russian President] Putin for putting reported bounties on our troops. This is unforgivable.” Despite including the word “reported,” Duckworth deliberately perpetuated an unfounded allegation for which not a shred of evidence has been presented and behind which stand only anonymous sources. Anonymity is For Cowards The anonymity of these sources brings up another point. Why would an intelligence official, having discovered that a foreign government was offering financial rewards to a U.S. enemy for killing American soldiers, not want to come forward publicly and reveal themselves? Because doing so would hurt their career, perhaps? Putting one’s career ahead of exposing such a scheme is nothing less than an act of rank cowardice. Gen. McKenzie did not simply decide to issue an off-the-cuff denial, either. The military has investigated the matter, analyzing intelligence relating to Taliban attacks against American personnel over the past several years. Thus far, no connection to any agreement with the Russians has been discovered. The case is not closed yet, and McKenzie’s admission of that fact demonstrates that he is not operating with an intent to kill the story – if he were, he would have deliberately left NBC with the impression that the investigation had concluded. The most likely scenario, here, is that The Times – probably in consultation with anti-Trump intelligence officials and perhaps even Democratic politicians – decided that this would be the perfect story to damage the president in two ways. It would maybe drive a wedge between Mr. Trump and the military and, at the same time, breathe a little air into the rotting corpse of the Russian collusion fable. Perhaps, too, the establishment media knows that President Trump has single-handedly discredited them more than any other person in American history. For that, they hate him and they know that, if they fail to bring him down, they are finished. It is not about Russians and the Taliban – this seemingly concocted scandal is one more Hail Mary pass into the November end zone. Four more years of Trump will destroy The Gray Lady and all of her elitist media co-conspirators. ~ Read more from Graham J. Noble.

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Iran Welcomes Beginning of Intra-Afghan Talks in Doha

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran has, in a statement on Saturday, welcomed the beginning of negotiations between the Kabul government, Afghan political groups and the Taliban in the Qatari capital of Doha. “The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes the beginning of intra-Afghan talks between the Kabul government, Afghan political groups and the Taliban, and hopes that the talks will be held within a context of comprehensive understanding among Afghans and without any foreign interference. It also hopes that the negotiations will lead to the desired results, including the establishment of lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan as well as security in the region,” the Foreign Ministry said in the statement. “The Islamic Republic of Iran has always emphasized that there is no military solution to the problems in Afghanistan and the continued presence of foreign forces is one of the main reasons for the continuation of war in the country. All issues and problems in Afghanistan can be resolved only through dialogue and negotiation, and the responsible withdrawal of foreign troops is an inevitable prerequisite for achieving peace and security in that country,” it added. “The Islamic Republic of Iran hopes that the Afghan government, political groups and the Taliban could reach a lasting agreement while preserving the valuable achievements of the Afghan people, including the Constitution, democratic structures, inclusive political participation, the rights and dignity of women, and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities. Iran also hopes that the agreement will ensure peace, tranquillity, well-being and prosperity for the Afghan people and in turn enable Afghan refugees to return to their country and play their part in the reconstruction, growth and development of Afghanistan.” “The Islamic Republic of Iran once again expresses its readiness to assist in advancing the peace process in Afghanistan as in the past and to provide its facilities and capabilities to the Afghan brothers and sisters for this purpose. Iran also strongly condemns any political opportunism and profiteering from the intra-Afghan talks, especially by the US government for electoral purposes and considers such moves to be disruptive to the talks,” it concluded. Subscribe

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