Newscast Media TEHRAN—Iran says it will send forces into Pakistan to free kidnapped
border guards if Islamabad does not take measures to secure their release.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli was quoted as issuing the warning on
Fazli’s comments come a week after Jaish-ul Adl, a little-known Sunni Islamist Baluch
militant group, published pictures on its Facebook page it said were of the soldiers
kidnapped in Iran’s southeast province of Sistan-Baluchistan.
The Iranian Foreign Ministry reportedly summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaires,
demanding that Islamabad “act firmly against the leaders and members of the terrorist
group who have fled into Pakistan.”
Press TV has also reported, Iran has warned that it will take matters in its own hands
and enter Afghanistan’s deep territory to establish security, if the country
doesn’t secure its borders. (pop-up)
Jaish-ul Adl militants said in November 2013 they assassinated a local Iranian
prosecutor, and in October ambushed border guards, killing 14.
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Taliban views interpreters who served the US
military as traitors. Thousands of translators now fear for their lives at home in
Afghanistan, while they wait in vain for residence visas promised to them by the US.
The prospect of death bound their fates together. First, an Afghan translator saved
an American army captain’s life, and then the captain saved the translator by helping
him make it to the US.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here telling you the story if it wasn’t for the guy saving my life,”
says American Matt Zeller, while seated on his sofa in a Washington D.C. suburb.
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
by Abdel Haleem
Newscast Media KABUL—Washington’s latest decision to pull out roughly half of its forces from Afghanistan within the year could embolden the Taliban in its objective of toppling the present regime in Kabul and reinstalling its unique brand of Islamic rule in the country, local analysts here said.
In his State of the Union Address Tuesday night in Washington D. C. (Wednesday in most parts of Asia), U.S. President Barack Obama announced the pullout of some 34,000 U.S. forces from Afghanistan within the year.
Presently there are about 100,000 troops in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, with around 66,000 of them Americans.
“The Taliban would certainly describe the troop withdrawal as defeat of U.S. and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan and they would benefit from it in the propaganda war,” political analyst and retired Army General Amrullah Aman told Xinhua.
Under the agreement reached among the NATO-member states and troop-contributing nations to Afghanistan in 2010, the ISAF would complete its pullout from the war-torn country by the end of 2014. Washington has said that with Obama’s announcement, the U.S. is on pace to finally put an end to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan in 2014.
Aman said that Obama’s announcement was made in a critical stage since the U.S.-led “war on terror” is still unfinished and there is a resurgence of violence in the country perpetrated by Taliban insurgents.
Aman also doubts whether the Afghan national security forces with its limited firepower and expertise can deal with the Taliban threat after the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country.
“Since the Afghan forces do not have air power and heavy artillery it is difficult for Afghan forces to ensure security all by themselves after the troop withdrawal,” the retired general said, adding that the Taliban fighters are mainly guerillas and have mastered the “hit and run” tactic, making it difficult for the government forces to confront the insurgents in frontal combat.
“So, it will be difficult for the poorly equipped Afghan forces to check the Taliban-led insurgency without the support of NATO- led coalition and U.S. forces in 2013, 2014 or beyond,” Aman said.
Another military expert and political analyst retired General Atiqullah Omarkhil also said that the withdrawal of 34,000 U.S. forces within the year amid increasing militancy would make Afghans worry.
“I think the pullout of 34,000 troops at this stage is premature because Afghan national security forces are not capable of filling the void to be left by the departure of foreign forces, ” Omarkhil said.
“The end of combat mission in 2013, in my opinion would undermine the capability of Afghan security forces and can even boost the moral of the Taliban which could eventually affect the security situation in Afghanistan,” Omarkhil said.
Like Oman, Omarkhil said the Taliban would describe the pullout “as the defeat of infidels” at the hands of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and would use it to recruit more fighters in their continuing armed struggle to return to power in Afghanistan.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Drawing a road map for NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan and agreement on steps to increase the alliance’s defense capabilities are the notable achievements of the NATO summit, President Obama said May 21 as he delivered a final assessment of the meeting held over the weekend in Chicago. Citing an “unwavering commitment to collective defense,” Obama said NATO nations agreed to invest in defense capabilities and new technologies that meet the alliance’s security needs.
The 63-year-old alliance is also making progress on its missile-defense system, and Obama recognized other NATO nations for increasing their leadership in this area.
“Our defense radar in Turkey will be placed under NATO control,” Obama said. “Spain, Romania and Poland have agreed to host key U.S. assets. The Netherlands will be upgrading radars.”
Obama also emphasized that a NATO missile-defense system is not intended to compromise Russia’s strategic deterrent. “I continue to believe that missile defense can be an area of cooperation with Russia,” he said.
Another important achievement of the summit was agreement to wind down the 10-year operation in Afghanistan with “a plan that trains Afghan security forces, transitions to the Afghans and builds a partnership that can endure after our combat mission in Afghanistan ends,” Obama said.
The troops from NATO nations will steadily draw down as Afghan National Security Forces take the leadership role by the middle of next year, with NATO troops remaining in a support mode. By the end of 2014, Obama said, the plan calls for Afghan forces to take full responsibility for the security of their country.
But NATO involvement in Afghanistan’s future will not end there, Obama said, and the partnership with Kabul to defeat al-Qaida and bring progress to the long-beleaguered nation will continue.
Non-NATO nations have been longtime participants in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and they too met with NATO leaders to craft this road map to war’s end. Obama called the meeting of such a wide range of nations “unprecedented”; it included 28 NATO members and 13 leaders from European, Middle Eastern, North African and Asian nations.
“Each of these countries has contributed to NATO operations in different ways — military, political, financial — and each wants to see us do more together,” Obama said. “To see the breadth of those countries represented in that room is to see how NATO has truly become a hub of global security.”
A key goal of the Afghanistan operation has been to expel al-Qaida from the nation and close down its safe haven there, a goal that Obama said has been met. But as the NATO summit ended, a terrorist attack in Yemen, blamed on al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), killed more than 100 people and injured close to 200, according to news reports.
A journalist questioned the U.S. president about that attack, and whether it could be a sign that Yemen is sinking into anarchy. Obama noted the strong counterterrorism partnership that the United States has formed with the Yemeni government.
The NATO summit was met with significant protests on the Chicago streets, with denunciations of the alliance’s defense strategy and calls to end the Afghan war. But protesters did not derail the meeting; instead, Obama said, the protesters have NATO to thank for their freedoms.
“Part of what NATO defends is free speech and the freedom of assembly,” Obama said.
Newscast Media KABUL, Afghanistan — U.S. Gen. David Petraeus the U.S. and NATO led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander in Afghanistan has handed over command of international forces in Afghanistan to Marine Gen. John Allen.
Petraeus will assume his new job as director of the CIA, while Allen takes over in Kabul. Allen will be tasked with the overseeing the start of the American troop withdrawal from the country after a decade-long war.
“It is my intention to maintain the momentum of the campaign,” Allen said at the handover ceremony in the Afghan capital. He acknowledged, however, that the fight won’t be easy.
“There will be tough days ahead. I have no illusions about the challenges,” Allen said.
All foreign combat forces are set to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Allen has said he hopes the drawdown will impress on Afghan leaders that they must urgently grow the number and capabilities of their own security forces to take over.
The Afghan government plans to have 305,000 trained soldiers and policemen by this October with a goal of just under 400,000 by the time foreign combat troops leave.