Afghanistan

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
TALIBAN CAPTURES MORE THAN 20 VILLAGES IN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN

On October 25, Taliban fighters imposed control of 28 villages in the district of Sholgara in the northern province of Balkh following a successful large-scale military operation there, according to the Taliban news agency Voice of Jihad.

“The villages with 400 families pledged their support to Mujahedeen of the Islamic Emirate [Taliban],” Voice of Jihad said in an official press release.​

The Afghan group has not released any further information regarding the operation in Balkh so far. However, Voice of Jihad reported that Taliban fighters had killed eight personnel of the Afghan National Police (ANP) and injured three others during two separate attacks in the districts of Chamtal and Chahar Bolak in the northern province.

Since the beginning of October, the Taliban has stepped up its operations in Balkh in what appears to be an attempt to expand its control in northern Afghanistan. The Afghan group is following a similar strategy in the southern part of the war torn country. However, it is yet to make any significant advance.


Pakistan releases top Taliban commander 'at US request'

Pakistan has released Mullah Baradar, a senior Taliban commander, as a “confidence-building” measure requested by the US, which is engaged in so-called peace talks with the insurgents.

Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former right-hand man of Taliban founder Mullah Omar, had been held in Pakistani detention for over eight years, sources said Thursday.

The move is said to be aimed at aiding the so-called peace talks between the US and the militant group, after the two sides agreed in Doha, Qatar to continue the secretive negotiations.

Less than two weeks ago, US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Taliban representatives in Qatar to discuss a "peace" deal.

"Baradar was freed yesterday afternoon and he joined his family," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP in a WhatsApp message.

A Pakistani intelligence official also noted that Baradar was "released a couple of days ago".

Baradar was the most high-profile Taliban leader detained by Pakistan since the 9/11 attacks in 2001. He was arrested in the southern port city of Karachi in 2010, reportedly in an operation that was described as a huge blow to the militant group.

Apart from Baradar, several other senior Taliban leaders were freed this week following direct talks with Khalilzad on October 12, a senior Taliban official told AFP, adding that they believe the releases were made at US request.

According to the official, Baradar will likely stay in Pakistan and shuttle between the group's Doha office, Kabul and Islamabad.

The Taliban announced on October 13 that they would continue talks with the US, even though no tangible agreement was reached in the first round of meeting in Doha.

Washington's repeated outreach to the Taliban contradicts its efforts to link other countries, including Iran and Russia, to the militant group.

Early this week, the US Treasury Department blacklisted nine men, including two Iranian military officers, over allegations that they were "linked with the Taliban".

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin claimed that the Iranians were providing financial and material support to the Taliban.

Washington has a long history of liaison with the Taliban, starting with the militant group's years of war with the Soviets over their occupation of Afghanistan.

Following the Soviet withdrawal, the US saw the group as a counterbalance to Iran's Islamic Republic and maintained its links with the Taliban.

The Taliban government, however, was toppled during the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 because the group refused to expel the al-Qaeda which Washington blames for the 9/11 attacks.

Senior US politicians have said the CIA also created al-Qaeda with the help of British, Pakistani and Saudi intelligence agencies to counter Iran.
 

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Bomb attack hits near HQ of Afghan election commission, kills police officer

A bomb attack hits near the head office of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) in the capital, Kabul, leaving multiple casualties.

A bomber, who was on foot, blew up at 8:00 a.m. local time on Monday near a vehicle at the gate of the IEC’s sprawling compound located near an arterial road in Kabul.

The attacker was “identified and gunned down by police before reaching his target,” Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid told reporters.

One police officer was killed and six others, including election workers and policemen, were wounded in the blast.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blast, which took place as thousands of ballot boxes are being delivered to the IEC following the war-torn county’s parliamentary elections.

The long-delayed parliamentary elections, which were held over two weekends, were targeted in some 250 militant attacks across the country, which killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 100 others.

Figures by the electoral body indicate that around four million people risked voting in the parliamentary elections, which the Taliban militant group had vowed to attack.

The ballot was also marred by lengthy delays at polling stations and allegations of fraud.

People in Kandahar Province went to the polls on Saturday, while elections have yet to be held in central Ghazni Province, which is still reeling from the Taliban’s takeover in August.

Preliminary results of nationwide voting are not expected before mid-November.

The elections in Afghanistan have been regarded as a major test for the government as the Taliban militants wreak havoc across much of the country.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The war toppled the militant group; however, some 17 years on, the Taliban are still active in two-thirds of the country and involved in widespread militancy, killing thousands of civilians as well as Afghan and US forces despite the presence of US-led foreign troops.

To add to the war-torn country’s woes, Daesh has also established a foothold in eastern and northern Afghanistan.

The terrorist group has mostly been populating the eastern province of Nangarhar, from where it has carried out high-profile brutal attacks at major population centers across the country.
 

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Seven Killed, Five Injured in Bomb Explosion Near Afghan Prison - Reports

A suicide bomb attack near a prison in Afghan capital of Kabul has killed at least seven people and injured five, local media reported.

A suicide bomb that exploded early Wednesday morning near Pul-e-Charkhi prison targeting a prison staff vehicle in Afghan capital of Kabul killed at least seven people and injured seven, Tolo News reported, citing security sources.

The security sources also told the news channel that most of the employees in the targeted vehicle were women.

This is the second time this week when a blast rocks the Afghan capital. Another suicide bomb explosion hit Kabul early on Monday, injuring 6 people. The suicide attack struck in front of the headquarters of Afghanistan's election commission office.

The suicide attacks came amid this year's elections in the country, which are the first parliamentary election in Afghanistan since 2010. In 2016, the election was postponed over unstable security situation in the country, where various militant groups, including the Taliban and Daesh* carrying out regular terrorist attacks and fight for power against Kabul.

*Taliban and Daesh, also known as ISIS, Islamic State are terrorist groups, banned in Russia and many other countries.


Military Helicopter Crashes in Afghanistan, Killing at Least 20 - Reports

There have been no survivors in the deadly crash of a military helicopter that had at least 20 people on board in Anar Dara district of Afghanistan's Farah province, TOLOnews reported on Wednesday, citing local officials.

According to TOLOnews, there were provincial council members and military officials among people on board of the crashed helicopter.
There were no survivors of the crash, Tolo News reports, citing an army representative.

Two helicopters flew together, and one of them crashed. The reason has not yet been established, according to media reports.

On September 15, in the west of Afghanistan, a military helicopter crashed in the province of Farah, killing five people.

Earlier in September, a Moldovan MI-8 MTV helicopter, belonging to the Valan International Cargo Charter carrier, crashed in the Afghan northern province of Balkh, with two crew members and 10 passengers killed.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Nope ... something doesn't feel right here? I'm getting the feeling, "the suicide bomb attack near a prison in the Afghan capital of Kabul" was set up as a diversion - to take media play and attention away from this Military helicopter crash in Anar Dara? The suicide bomber walked up to a parked car, in front of the security gate, that was waiting for clearance to go in?

In this Military helicopter crash that SToRmR1dR Posted - "there were provincial council members and military officials among people on board of the crashed helicopter." I'll explain in a moment - why I see that as important?

Military Helicopter Crashes in Afghanistan, Killing at Least 20 - Reports

There have been no survivors in the deadly crash of a military helicopter that had at least 20 people on board in Anar Dara district of Afghanistan's Farah province, TOLOnews reported on Wednesday, citing local officials.

According to TOLOnews, there were provincial council members and military officials among people on board of the crashed helicopter.

There were no survivors of the crash, Tolo News reports, citing an army representative.

Two helicopters flew together, and one of them crashed. The reason has not yet been established, according to media reports.
Here's another article of the helicopter crash with more detail:

October 31, 2018 - Afghan Army Helicopter crash kills 25, including a Top Commander
Afghan army helicopter crash kills 25, including a top commander | Reuters

An army helicopter crashed in southwestern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 25 people on board, including a top commander and the head of the provincial council key in fighting off a Taliban attack in May, officials said.

Taliban insurgents fighting the Western-backed government said they shot it down.

Two army helicopters were on their way from Farah province to neighboring Herat when one lost control in low visibility and crashed into a mountain, Naser Mehri, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told Reuters.

Among the passengers were Nematullah Khalil, deputy army corps commander for the western region, and Farid Bakhtawar, the outspoken head of Farah’s provincial council. The other victims, apart from the crew, were soldiers and council members, Mehri said.

Bakhtawar was a major figure in battling the Taliban in the battle for the city of Farah which the militants besieged and threatened to take over in May.

The Taliban are seeking to remove the government and reimpose strict Islamic law after their ouster by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

A suicide bomber blew himself up near the gate of Afghanistan’s largest prison on Wednesday, killing at least six people, officials said, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The sprawling Pul-e-Charkhi prison in Kabul houses hundreds of inmates, including scores of Taliban.

Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said the attacker detonated his explosive near a vehicle carrying prison employees.

Six people died near the gate of the prison on the eastern outskirts of the city and eight were wounded, another government official said.

The attacker walked towards a vehicle that was parked at a gate for security clearance. He blew himself up before the vehicle could enter the prison premises,” the official said.

An Afghan news website said women security officials were in the vehicle at the time of the attack.

~~~
So, in the Military helicopter crash above -

* A top Afghan commander - Nematullah Khalil, deputy army corps commander for the western region was killed.

* Farid Bakhtawar, the outspoken head of Farah’s provincial council and a major figure in battling the Taliban in the battle for the city of Farah was killed in the crash.

* The other victims, apart from the crew, were soldiers and (other) council members.

Just 13 days ago, on October 18th, another incident - which claimed the life of General Abdul Razeq, who was also a Police Chief and was "the most feared of anti-Taliban commanders". A provincial Governor was also severely wounded and later died in the hospital, along with the local head of the NDS intelligence service.

It appears - that anyone who doesn't tow-the-line or poses a threat to NATO and the US Command are being eliminated - so NATO has full control?

October 18, 2018 - Top Afghan Police Chief killed in shooting, US General unhurt
Top Afghan police chief killed in shooting, U.S. general unhurt | Reuters
* "The gunman assassinated the police chief of Kandahar province on Thursday along with a top Afghan intelligence agency officer. In addition, the local head of the NDS intelligence service was killed and the provincial governor severely wounded, while the attacker himself was killed."

* General Abdul Razeq, one of Afghanistan’s most feared anti-Taliban commanders, was shot dead when a member of the provincial governor’s bodyguard opened fire on officials leaving a meeting with NATO forces commander General Scott Miller.

* Raziq's killing "may have major implications on the security situation in southern Afghanistan. As the chief of police in Kandahar, he has kept a lid on the Taliban's insurgency, which has intensified over the past several years," analyst Bill Roggio wrote in the Long War Journal.

* However, Army Col. David Butler, who attended the meeting with Miller, said the powerful Kandahar police chief, Abdul Raziq, was clearly the target, not the U.S. general.

"The U.S. commander of Afghanistan’s NATO-led force, General Scott Miller, who was standing nearby when the attack occurred and was not hurt"
 
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angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
November 2, 2018 - Russia reaches out to Afghan Leaders for Taliban talks, angering Kabul
Russia reaches out to Afghan leaders for Taliban talks, angering Kabul | Reuters


FILE PHOTO: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail/File Photo

Russia has quietly invited a group of senior Afghan politicians to talks with the Taliban in Moscow, bypassing President Ashraf Ghani's government in a move that has angered officials in Kabul who say it could muddle the U.S.-backed peace process.

The invitations, extended over the past two months by Russian diplomats in Kabul, were confirmed to Reuters by six of the eight leaders, who include former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, or their aides, and by other leading politicians with ties to the Afghan government.

The Russian Embassy in Kabul declined to comment.

Russia in August proposed holding multilateral peace talks in Moscow and invited 12 countries and the Taliban to attend a summit the following month. But the meeting was postponed after Ghani rejected the invitation on the grounds that talks with the Taliban should be led by the Afghan government.

The United States had also declined to attend. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined to comment further.

Three senior Afghan officials said the government was unhappy that Moscow was pressing ahead with plans for talks.

“We requested Russia to cancel the summit because talking to the Taliban at multiple forums will further complicate the peace process backed by the U.S., but they rejected the request,” said a senior Afghan official who has been holding discussions with Russia.

Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday that she hoped to be able to announce details of the conference “in the coming days”.

Zakharova told reporters at a briefing that the date and participant list were being finalised, but that Russia wanted to be absolutely sure before announcing anything publicly.

NEW PLAYERS
Diplomatic engagement between the Taliban and the United States gained momentum in October, after U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad met Taliban leaders in Qatar.

But many Afghan politicians say they have been left out of the process.

Karzai, who ran the country for 13 years following the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 but has become a vocal critic of U.S. policy, is among those planning to travel to Moscow.

“Karzai will travel to Moscow because any opportunity for peace talks with the Taliban must not be ignored,” said Mohammad Yusof Saha, a spokesman for the former president.

Atta Mohammad Noor, a leader in the Jamiat-i Islami party and former governor of the strategic Balkh province, said he too would attend.

Noor, a powerful figure among Afghanistan’s ethnic Tajiks who was once a commander in the anti-Soviet Mujahiddin, said he had no problem with the United States and Ghani holding private talks with the Taliban, “but they cannot decide whether we should talk to the Taliban or not”.

He said many Afghans were realizing that “a single fixed formula prescribed by one foreign power will not help Afghans attain peace”.

Senior Taliban members in Afghanistan said they would send a delegation to Moscow, as it would give them an opportunity to engage with neighboring countries including China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, who have previously said they would send representatives.

“Most countries have acknowledged our status and invited us as a separate political force. This is, in fact, our victory,” said a senior member of the Afghan Taliban.

GREATER LEVERAGE
Moscow’s strategy of going around Ghani directly to opposition politicians is a concern for the Afghan government and its U.S. sponsors, who see it as unwelcome meddling, according to government officials and diplomats in Kabul.

“Russia is trying to create its own regional table to hold peace talks, they are clearly attempting to limit the U.S. role in Afghanistan,” said a western diplomat in the Afghan capital.

The Moscow talks underline the increasingly active role Russia is playing in Afghanistan, decades after Soviet forces withdrew from the country, with business investment plans, diplomatic and cultural outreach, and small military support for the central government.

In 2014, it reopened a cultural center in Kabul. Since 2016, it has provided thousands of Kalashnikov rifles to the Afghan government, said a senior foreign ministry official in Kabul.

The talks come also at a time when the Afghan government is struggling to recover control of districts lost to Taliban insurgents while casualties among security forces have reached record levels, a U.S. watchdog agency said.

“It’s obvious that the situation in Afghanistan is not improving, that the threat is growing and that the ground is ripe for radical Islamists or followers and participants of the Islamic State project,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, a foreign policy expert close to the Kremlin who edits the Russia in Global Affairs journal.

“The dynamic is negative. I think that’s why political and diplomatic efforts are being activated.”


November 2, 2018 - 'Father of Taliban' Mullah Sami ul-Haq killed in Pakistani City - Deputy
'Father of Taliban' Mullah Sami ul-Haq killed in Pakistani city - deputy | Reuters


FILE PHOTO: Maulana Sami-ul Haq, a Pakistani cleric and head of Darul Uloom Haqqania, an Islamic seminary and alma mater of several Taliban leaders, talks during an interview with Reuters at his house in Akora Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province September 14, 2013. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

Muslim cleric Sami ul-Haq, known as the "Father of the Taliban" for having taught some of the Afghan Islamist movement's leaders, was found killed on Friday in a Pakistani city, a relative and his deputy said.

Unknown attackers killed the cleric, who runs an Islamic seminary in northwestern Pakistan, his deputy Yousaf Shah said.

There were conflicting reports of exactly how he was killed and why his bodyguard and driver were apparently not there to defend him at the time of the attack. Shah initially said that Haq had been shot dead.

Haq’s nephew Mohammad Bilal told Reuters that his uncle was found with stabbing and gunshot wounds in a house he owns in an upscale area on Islamabad’s outskirts. “When the assailants entered his house ... They first started hitting Mullah Sami ul-Haq with knives and daggers and then shot him dead,” he said. Further details remained unclear.

Haq has run the Darul Uloom Haqqania seminary in Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, near the Afghanistan border, for decades.

One of his students from the 1980s, known later as Mullah Mohammad Omar, went along with classmates to Afghanistan to join mujahideen groups fighting against the Soviet occupation of the country.

Mullah Omar went on to found the Taliban, which seized power in Afghanistan in 1996 after years of chaos and civil war following the Soviet military’s withdrawal.

The ultra-conservative Taliban imposed an extreme version of Islamic sharia law on Afghanistan that included forbidding women to leave home without a male relative, imposing minimum lengths on men’s beards and banning sports, radio and television.

Haq’s seminary has continued to thrive in Pakistan, including being allocated funding in provincial government budgets.

Pakistan’s Interior Ministry confirmed Haq’s death in a statement on Friday evening, and expressed condolences.

(Comment: Haq's seminary might be thriving on hand outs from the Government but ...
November 2, 2018 - China promises Pakistan support as Khan tells of 'very difficult' economy
China promises Pakistan support as Khan tells of 'very difficult' economy | Reuters

Pakistan last month received a $6 billion rescue package from Saudi Arabia, but officials say it will still have to seek a bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to avert a balance of payments crisis.

It would be Pakistan’s 13th rescue package from the multilateral lender since the late 1980s.

Meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Khan said he had come to China to learn.)
 
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sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
November 2, 2018 - Russia reaches out to Afghan Leaders for Taliban talks, angering Kabul
Russia reaches out to Afghan leaders for Taliban talks, angering Kabul | Reuters

Russia has quietly invited a group of senior Afghan politicians to talks with the Taliban in Moscow, bypassing President Ashraf Ghani's government in a move that has angered officials in Kabul who say it could muddle the U.S.-backed peace process.

US wants to engage them against Iran! Russia knows this... :-)

After 17 years of war, top US commander in Afghanistan admits Taliban cannot be defeated

The Afghanistan war cannot be won militarily and peace will only be achieved through a political resolution with the Taliban, the newly-appointed American general in charge of US and NATO operations has conceded.

In his first interview since taking command of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in September, Gen. Austin Scott Miller provided NBC News with a surprisingly candid assessment of the seemingly never-ending conflict, which began with the US invasion of Afghanistan in October, 2001.

“This is not going to be won militarily. This is going to a political solution," Miller said.

He mused that the Taliban is also tired of fighting and may be interested in starting to “work through the political piece” of the 17-year-old war.

But it’s not clear if the Taliban is open to negotiations. Last month, a top Taliban commander told RT, in a rare interview, that the group’s leaders had no desire to negotiate with the Americans.


Described for years as a stalemate, the conflict has been tipping in the Taliban’s favor in recent months. Even by US military estimates, the Afghan government controls or influences just over half of the country’s 407 districts – a record low since the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, began tracking district control in November 2015.

To make matters worse, casualties among Afghan government forces have skyrocketed in recent months. Afghan security forces suffered 1,000 fatalities in August and September, according to the Pentagon.

Miller’s desire for a political settlement was echoed earlier by the State Department, which said in August that the US was doing everything it could to facilitate peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The new US commander has experienced the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan first-hand. In October, Miller survived a Taliban attack in Kandahar, which left a prominent Afghan warlord and local intelligence chief dead.
 

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
US soldier killed in 'apparent insider attack' in Kabul - NATO

A US soldier has been killed and one more wounded in an “apparent insider attack” in Kabul, according to AFP citing NATO mission in Afghanistan. The attacker was reportedly killed.

NATO’s Resolute Support confirmed that the perpetrator served in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, according to Tolo.

The victim wounded in the shooting is in “stable condition” and was reportedly sent to Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul. The name of the deceased soldier has not been disclosed.

The incident comes less than two weeks after a NATO soldier was killed in another suspected insider attack in western Herat province.

Another such incident occurred in Logar province on September 3.


American and NATO troops have been present in Afghanistan for 17 years, with more than 2,200 US soldiers being killed in the country since then. Despite major combat operations being halted in 2014, the NATO contingent is still present in the country and there is no clear deadline of the forces withdrawal.

So-called insider attacks claimed dozens of lives at their peak in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2012, forcing Western troops to introduce precautionary measures. In 2014, the Pentagon said the “insider threat” in Afghanistan was “pernicious” despite the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) having “mitigated and minimized” it.



Nope ... something doesn't feel right here? I'm getting the feeling, "the suicide bomb attack near a prison in the Afghan capital of Kabul" was set up as a diversion - to take media play and attention away from this Military helicopter crash in Anar Dara? The suicide bomber walked up to a parked car, in front of the security gate, that was waiting for clearance to go in?

In this Military helicopter crash that SToRmR1dR Posted - "there were provincial council members and military officials among people on board of the crashed helicopter." I'll explain in a moment - why I see that as important?

Here's another article of the helicopter crash with more detail:

October 31, 2018 - Afghan Army Helicopter crash kills 25, including a Top Commander
Afghan army helicopter crash kills 25, including a top commander | Reuters

An army helicopter crashed in southwestern Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing 25 people on board, including a top commander and the head of the provincial council key in fighting off a Taliban attack in May, officials said.

Crashed Military Chopper in Western Afghanistan Carried Ballot Boxes - Reports

A military helicopter that crashed in Afghanistan's western Farah province earlier this week was carrying several ballot boxes from the country's parliamentary elections held last month, the Tolo News broadcaster has reported, citing Afghan Independent Election Commission (IEC) chief in Farah Mohammad Monir Parsa.

A helicopter crashed in Anar Dara district of Farah province on October 31, killing 25 people. Among the aircraft passengers were provincial council members and military officials.

Several biometric devices and "boxes of election sensitive materials" were destroyed in the crash, according to the Tolo News broadcaster.

Parliamentary elections were held in Afghanistan on October 20.

The voting was extended after a number of polling stations failed to open due to technical issues and several attacks across the country.

In September, a military helicopter crashed in the province of Farah, the west of Afghanistan, killing five people.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
To make matters worse, casualties among Afghan government forces have skyrocketed in recent months. Afghan security forces suffered 1,000 fatalities in August and September, according to the Pentagon.
I'm getting the impression - the Pentagon is getting desperate to hold on to their position in Afghan - even more so now, that Russia is getting involved? I expect, there will be more mysterious deaths and assassinations?

November 3, 2018 - Russia to host talks with Afghan Leaders, Taliban Delegation
Russia to host talks with Afghan leaders, Taliban delegation | Reuters


FILE PHOTO: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan July 15, 2018. REUTERS/Mohammad Ismail/File Photo

Russia said on Saturday that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had agreed to send a group of senior politicians to peace talks in Moscow, at which a delegation representing the Taliban would be present.

Russia in August proposed holding multilateral peace talks in Moscow, and invited 12 countries and the Taliban to attend a summit the following month. But the meeting was postponed after Ghani rejected the invitation on the grounds that talks with the Taliban should be led by the Afghan government.

In a statement on Saturday, Russia’s foreign ministry said the talks were now confirmed to be held on Nov. 9.

“It will be the first time that a delegation from the Taliban’s political office in Doha will attend such a high-level international meeting,” the foreign ministry said.

The ministry has invited several other countries to send representatives, including India, Iran, Pakistan, China and the United States.


2018-10-18 - Russia accuses US of transferring ISIS from Syria to Afghanistan and Iraq
Russia accuses US of transferring ISIS from Syria to Afghanistan and Iraq



Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the U.S. government on Thursday of transferring the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) from Syria to neighboring Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Moscow is concerned with Washington’s transfer of Daesh militants to Iraq and Afghanistan,” Lavrov said during a press conference on Thursday.

“Russia calls on the U.S. to explain relocation of Daesh fighters to Iraq and Afghanistan,” he added, as quoted by the Interfax News Agency.

Russia has accused the United States of transferring Daesh terrorists to Afghanistan on a number of occasions in the past.

Washington has repeatedly denied these allegations from Moscow.


Sat Nov 03, 2018 - Washington’s Long-Held Illusions Will Create More Mess in Afghanistan
Farsnews



Despite 17 years of war and occupation, the United States and its allies have been unable to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Quite the opposite, the Taliban is getting stronger all the time, and now controls more of Afghanistan than at any time since the 2001 US invasion. That control is extending in all regions of the country, with them contesting substantial portions of vital provinces, or controlling them outright. According to the most recent SIGAR estimate, 12% of Kabul is now under direct Taliban control, with another 32% of the city considered at the very least contested!

In other words, the Taliban can now contest virtually any part of Afghanistan they choose, able to make a serious run at seizing almost any city, at least temporarily, and can carry out so many simultaneous offensives that the US military cannot react to them all. This was all predictable:

- The 17th commander in Afghanistan, Austin “Scott” Miller, like so many of the generals who preceded him, claims he sees evidence of “progress” in the Afghan war. But he refuses to “guarantee you a timeline or an end date.” In a conflict with no end in sight, that is now the longest in American history, the US has not been able to score a hint of victory anywhere. That could be said as well of the rest of its so-called war on terror across the Middle East.

- War and occupation is the American bloodstream. The US didn’t invade Afghanistan to promote freedom and democracy. Profits and power are the reasons why despite 17 years of failure the War Party insists on continuing its war and occupation.
Many Afghan men, women and children have lost their lives, but who cares since business is booming? Add in, as well, the issue of political credibility. No president wants to appear weak, as pulling back from a war has been the definition of weakness. Donald Trump is not an exception. He has no intention to be known as the president who lost Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria.

- Washington’s deeply embedded illusions and deceptions serve to generate and perpetuate its ill-begotten wars. In Syria, the US claims its occupying troops are freedom fighters for peace and prosperity, and have waged a brutal war to spread democracy and a better way of life. The trouble is, this particular war has only supported and spread terror groups like ISIL and Al-Qaeda. The same has happened in Afghanistan, where the presence of ISIL militants has only increased the widespread killing of innocents and massive displacement of the people across the war-torn country, while there has been an increasing body of evidence piled up by the regional states on the United States' outstanding role in transferring commanders and groups of ISIL from Syria to Afghanistan after the terrorist group lost the war in the Levant.

- Washington knows it has lost the war. That’s why its commanders play so much with weapons and training and technology and tactics and surge. These are the things they can control. But they cannot control Afghanistan and its people. These people don’t like occupiers and they won’t do America’s bidding. That is precisely why the US failed – despite having a massive embassy, regional command centers, election advisors, private security guards, military trainers and advisors, diplomats and civilian enablers.

As it happens, the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, far from bringing freedom to that country, sowed chaos. The invaders inadvertently lit the fire that burned down a national order. Now there is no easy American solution when it comes to Afghanistan, and unfortunately, few in Washington are willing to accept such realities. Their unwarranted optimism about the efficacy of US power will only fuel more chaos next year.

Tragic enough, Washington’s officialdom regularly and repeatedly draws erroneous lessons from the recent past surges and ignores a hard truth staring them in the face: US military action in Afghanistan – and in the Middle East - has solved nothing at all. The isolationists are unwilling to accept this. They struggle to admit failure and withdraw, staying busy with claims about being “successful” and overestimating the efficacy of American power.

A policy as such will only contribute to and create more of today’s mess in Afghanistan. It is long past time for Washington’s officialdom to reassess their militarized version of foreign policy, challenge their long-held assumptions and patriotic fables, withdraw their troops, and allow the people of Afghanistan to shape their country to their desires.


Sat Nov 03, 2018 - Deadly Clash Erupt among Taliban, ISIL Terrorists in Afghanistan's Nangarhar
Farsnews

A deadly clash erupted among the Taliban and militants affiliated with the ISIL in Eastern Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.

The 201st Silab Corps of the Afghan Military in the East in a statement said the latest clash erupted in Zawa area of Khogyani district, Khaama Press reported.

The statement further added that 21 militants were killed during the clash, including 18 Taliban and 3 militants of ISIL.

The anti-government militant groups including Taliban have not commented regarding the report so far.

Nangarhar has been among the relatively calm provinces in East of Afghanistan but the security situation in some of its remote districts has deteriorated during the recent years.

Both the Taliban and ISIL militants are active in some of its districts and often attempt to carry out terrorist related activities.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
US soldier killed in 'apparent insider attack' in Kabul - NATO

A US soldier has been killed and one more wounded in an “apparent insider attack” in Kabul, according to AFP citing NATO mission in Afghanistan. The attacker was reportedly killed.

NATO’s Resolute Support confirmed that the perpetrator served in the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, according to Tolo.

The victim wounded in the shooting is in “stable condition” and was reportedly sent to Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul. The name of the deceased soldier has not been disclosed.

The incident comes less than two weeks after a NATO soldier was killed in another suspected insider attack in western Herat province.

Another such incident occurred in Logar province on September 3.
Sunday Nov. 4th, 2018 - Mayor of Utah city killed in 'insider attack' in Afghanistan
Mayor of Utah city killed in 'insider attack' in Afghanistan

NORTH OGDEN, Utah (AP) — The mayor of a Utah city was killed during an attack in Afghanistan while he was serving with the state's National Guard, the Salt Lake Tribune and other media reported.

North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor died Saturday in an apparent "insider attack" in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the Tribune reported. Another U.S. service member is being treated for wounds sustained in the attack, American military officials said.

The Utah National Guard has identified the service member killed as a member of the Guard. The Guard member's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

But Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer J. Cox wrote on his Facebook page that Taylor, 39, has been killed.

"Devastating news. North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor was killed today while serving in Afghanistan," Cox said. "I hate this. I'm struggling for words. I love Mayor Taylor, his amazing wife Jennie and his seven sweet kids. Utah weeps for them today. This war has once again cost us the best blood of a generation. We must rally around his family."

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch issued a statement Saturday about Taylor's death on Twitter. "Brent was a hero, a patriot, a wonderful father, and a dear friend. News of his death in Afghanistan is devastating. My prayers and love are with Jennie and his 7 young children. His service will always be remembered," Hatch said.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert plans to hold a news conference on Sunday to discuss the death.

Taylor was deployed to Afghanistan in January with the Utah National Guard for what was expected to be a 12-month tour of duty. Taylor, an officer in the National Guard, previously served two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.

At the time of his deployment in January, Taylor told local media that, as an intelligence officer, he will be assigned to serve on an advisory team training the staff of an Afghan commando battalion.

"Right now there is a need for my experience and skills to serve in our nation's long-lasting war in Afghanistan," he said. "President Trump has ordered an increase in troops, and part of the new strategy focuses on expanding the capabilities of the Afghan commando units."

Taylor became mayor of North Ogden, a city of about 17,000 people 46 miles north of Salt Lake City, in 2013.

The Tribune reported that on the day of his deployment in mid-January, North Ogden police escorted Taylor and his family around town as hundreds of residents lined the streets to see him off.


Sunday Nov. 4th, 2018 - Utah mayor Brent Taylor killed in Afghanistan 'insider attack'
Utah mayor Brent Taylor killed in Afghanistan 'insider attack'


Brent Taylor, a Utah National Guard member and mayor of North Ogden, was injured in an attack in Afghanistan and died Nov. 3, 2018, officials said. (Photo: Facebook)

North Ogden Mayor Brent Taylor died Saturday in an apparent “insider attack” in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, the Tribune reported. Another U.S. service member is being treated for wounds sustained in the attack, American military officials said.

Taylor was deployed to Afghanistan in January with the Utah National Guard for what was expected to be a 12-month tour of duty. Taylor, an officer in the National Guard, previously served two tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan.

At the time of his deployment in January, Taylor told local media that, as an intelligence officer, he will be assigned to serve on an advisory team training the staff of an Afghan commando battalion.

“Right now there is a need for my experience and skills to serve in our nation’s long-lasting war in Afghanistan,” he said. “President Trump has ordered an increase in troops, and part of the new strategy focuses on expanding the capabilities of the Afghan commando units.”
 

c.a.

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Historians of the now seventeen-year old U.S. war in Afghanistan will take note of this past week when the newly-appointed American general in charge of US and NATO operations in the country made a bombshell, historic admission. He conceded that the United States cannot win in Afghanistan.

Speaking to NBC News last week, Gen. Austin Scott Miller made his first public statements after taking charge of American operations, and shocked with his frank assessment that that the Afghan war cannot be won militarily and peace will only be achieved through direct engagement and negotiations with the Taliban the very terror group which US forces sought to defeat when it first invaded in 2001.

"This is not going to be won militarily," Gen. Miller said. "This is going to a political solution."
Miller explained to NBC:

My assessment is the Taliban also realizes they cannot win militarily. So if you realize you can't win militarily at some point, fighting is just, people start asking why. So you do not necessarily wait us out, but I think now is the time to start working through the political piece of this conflict.​

He gave the interview from the Resolute Support headquarters building in Kabul. "We are more in an offensive mindset and don't wait for the Taliban to come and hit [us]," he said. "So that was an adjustment that we made early on. We needed to because of the amount of casualties that were being absorbed."

Starting last summer it was revealed that US State Department officials began meeting with Taliban leaders in Qatar to discuss local and regional ceasefires and an end to the war. It was reported at the time that the request of the Taliban, the US-backed Afghan government was not invited; however, there doesn't appear to have been any significant fruit out of the talks as the Taliban now controls more territory than ever before in recent years.

Such controversial and shaky negotiations come as in total the United States has spent well over $840 billion fighting the Taliban insurgency while also paying for relief and reconstruction in a seventeen-year long war that has become more expensive, in current dollars, than the Marshall Plan, which was the reconstruction effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

Even the New York Times recently chronicled the flat out deception of official Pentagon statements vs. the reality in terms of the massive spending that has gone into the now-approaching two decade long "endless war" which began in the immediate aftermath of



As of September of this year the situation was as bleak as it's ever been after over a decade-and-a-half of America's longest running war, per the NYT's numbers:

But since 2017, the Taliban have held more Afghan territory than at any time since the American invasion. In just one week last month, the insurgents killed 200 Afghan police officers and soldiers, overrunning two major Afghan bases and the city of Ghazni.
The American military says the Afghan government effectively “controls or influences” 56 percent of the country. But that assessment relies on statistical sleight of hand. In many districts, the Afghan government controls only the district headquarters and military barracks, while the Taliban control the rest.​

For this reason Gen. Miller spoke to NBC of an optimal "political outcome" instead of "winning" the latter being a term rarely if ever used by Pentagon and officials and congressional leaders over the past years.

Miller told NBC: "I naturally feel compelled to try to set the conditions for a political outcome. So, pressure from that standpoint, yes. I don't want everyone to think this is forever."

And ending on a bleak note in terms of the "save face" and "cut and run" nature of the U.S. future engagement in Afghanistan, Gen. Miller concluded, "This is my last assignment as a soldier in Afghanistan. I don't think they'll send me back here in another grade. When I leave this time I'd like to see peace and some level of unity as we go forward."

Interestingly, the top US and NATO commander can now only speak in remotely hopeful terms of "some level of unity" perhaps just enough to make a swift exit at least.

The Afghanistan war cannot be won militarily and peace will only be achieved through a political resolution with the Taliban, the newly-appointed American general in charge of US and NATO operations has conceded.

In his first interview since taking command of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in September, Gen. Austin Scott Miller provided NBC News with a surprisingly candid assessment of the seemingly never-ending conflict, which began with the US invasion of Afghanistan in October, 2001.

“This is not going to be won militarily. This is going to a political solution," Miller said.

He mused that the Taliban is also tired of fighting and may be interested in starting to “work through the political piece” of the 17-year-old war.


But it’s not clear if the Taliban is open to negotiations. Last month, a top Taliban commander told RT, in a rare interview, that the group’s leaders had no desire to negotiate with the Americans.

Described for years as a stalemate, the conflict has been tipping in the Taliban’s favor in recent months. Even by US military estimates, the Afghan government controls or influences just over half of the country’s 407 districts – a record low since the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, began tracking district control in November 2015.

To make matters worse, casualties among Afghan government forces have skyrocketed in recent months. Afghan security forces suffered 1,000 fatalities in August and September, according to the Pentagon.

READ MORE: US veterans overwhelmingly want troops out of Afghanistan – poll

Miller’s desire for a political settlement was echoed earlier by the State Department, which said in August that the US was doing everything it could to facilitate peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The new US commander has experienced the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan first-hand. In October, Miller survived a Taliban attack in Kandahar, which left a prominent Afghan warlord and local intelligence chief dead.

Translated from Persian by Microsoft
جمهورغنی, Deputy Head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, South Asia and Central America to attend accepted-for more information click on the link: | ریاست جمهوری افغانستان رئیس‌جمهورغنی، معاون وزارت خارجۀ امریکا در امور آسیای جنوبی و مرکزی را به‌حضور پذیرفت
Hamad Ashraf Ghani Rayjamhuri Islami Afghanistan Imruz Khanem Al-Wa'elis is an assistant and has visited abroad in South Asia and Central Asia.

Dar Dien Dardar Khar Das Qasr Ghalkhanٔ ار Arj Njam Shad, Hrdujanb d. Murad Khajongi Ta'ayerat al-Yalat Mujidah Amerika Balay Bandar Jhabhar, Research and exchange of views of Kurdistan.

The Government of Afghanistan Prior to the arrival of the resource of Bandar Jhabar, along with the Government of Elat, the United States of America, discussed the situation in Haiti, where he was discussed and discussed by the Head of the Public Supporters and visited abroad by the United States of America, provided by Mr. Meredith, Minister of Economic Affairs, . #

 

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Taliban Militants Capture Military Base in Central Afghanistan - Reports

Militants of the Taliban* radical movement have captured a joint Afghan National Army (ANA) and police forces base in Afghanistan's central Uruzgan province, the Pajhwok news agency reported Sunday.

According to the Pajhwok, citing a local official, 25 servicemen and police officers were stationed at the base, located in the city of Terinkot. There is no information on the number of security personnel killed or injured in the attack.

The Taliban also seized weapons and vehicles from the military base.

Uruzgan provincial council confirmed the incident but provided no details on the issue.

Later in the day, Tolo News broadcaster reported that two militants of the Taliban movement were killed and three others were injured in a separate clash with Afghan security forces in northern Balkh province. At the same time, seven Daesh* fighters were killed in a foreign airstrike in Nangarhar province, according to the media.

Afghanistan has long been suffering from unstable political, social and security issues due to the activity of the Daesh terrorist group and the Taliban. The Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are currently conducting joint offensive operations to combat terrorism across the country.

*Daesh, also known as IS/ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State, and Taliban are terrorist organizations, banned in Russia
 

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Intra-Afghan Talks Sole Way to Peace in Afghanistan: Khalili

Chairman of the Afghanistan High Peace Council Mohammad Karim Khalili said any initiative for peace in his country needs to be exclusively supported by the Afghan people, noting that the Taliban also ought to enter talks with the Kabul government without being forced to do so.

In an interview with Tasnim in Tehran, Khalili commented on the process of peace in Afghanistan, the presence of foreign forces in his country, the prospect of talks with the Taliban, and a conference in Moscow aimed at ending conflicts in Afghanistan.

Asked about the process of negotiations between the Kabul government and the Taliban, Khalili said if the planned conference in Moscow involves the Taliban representatives as well, the High Peace Council will hold talks with them, although it is not still clear whether such negotiations will be held privately.

The Taliban ought to hold talks with the Afghan government and the High Peace Council, regardless of the presence of US or any other country in the Moscow peace conference, he added.

Khalili, however, stressed that the Taliban’s involvement in the intra-Afghan negotiations will contribute to the pullout of foreign forces from his country.

“The foreign countries and Afghanistan’s regional companions could help the peace process, but we make it clear once again that the main peace will take place when Afghans themselves negotiate with each other,” he noted, and pointed to Iran as a good neighbor and friend of Afghanistan that could contribute to the peace process.

Khalili then stated that any country in contact with the Taliban is expected to encourage the group to join the intra-Afghan negotiations, adding, “No country could use force to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.”

He finally emphasized that settlement of conflicts with the Taliban and their inclusion in the peace process will facilitate the war against Daesh (ISIL) terrorist group and will easily terminate the notorious group’s presence in Afghanistan.


Taliban kill 20 Afghan troops near Iran border

At least 20 Afghan soldiers have been killed in an attack by Taliban militants against an outpost in Afghanistan’s western Farah Province.

Local officials said the militants attacked the border post — manned by nearly 50 Afghan government soldiers — at the early hours of Tuesday.

A senior military officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said at least 20 troops were confirmed to have been killed, several had been injured, and the others were missing.

“Hours after the attack, we lost contact with the base and we still do not know the whereabouts of the remaining soldiers,” the officer added.

The Taliban took responsibility for the assault, claiming that it had taken control of the base, killed 30 soldiers, and captured weapons and ammunition.

Farah, which borders Iran, has gained more significance for Taliban as the government plans to build a multi-billion-dollar pipeline in the province. The project also involves Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and India. The province has been the scene of several high-profile attacks in the recent past.

The Taliban threatened to seize the provincial capital in May.

On Monday, the militant group seized control of a key security post outside the central city of Ghazni, leaving 13 government forces dead.

Afghan people still face insecurity 17 years after the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror.

Taliban violence against election-related centers at record high: UN

Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) said a record number of civilian casualties had been caused by attacks by the Taliban militant group against the Afghan parliamentary election-related centers in October.

The UN said in a report on Tuesday that the Taliban attacks on election day, October 20, and subsequent days — when delayed polling took place — resulted in at least 435 civilian casualties, including 56 deaths and 379 injuries.

According to the report, the toll was higher than the figures for the four previous elections.

The UN stressed that there had been “a deliberate campaign intended to disrupt and undermine the electoral process.”

Taliban terrorists had called on Afghans to boycott the long-delayed parliamentary elections across the country and vowed to disrupt the voting.

Several attacks also targeted voter registration centers ahead of the election, some claimed by the Daesh terrorist group.

According to the UN, attacks by anti-government militants, mostly the Taliban, were conducted with rockets, grenades, and mortars as well as improvised explosive devices.

Referring to a campaign of threats, intimidation, and harassment, including abductions, that preceded the vote, the UN said, “The Taliban’s actions forced many ordinary Afghans to choose between exercising their right to participate in the political process and risking their own safety.”

The results of the parliamentary election have not been announced yet, with votes are still being counted.
 

sToRmR1dR

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
TALIBAN ATTACKS KEY DISTRICT IN AFGHANISTAN’S GHAZNI, KILLS DOZENS OF POLICEMEN

On November 6, the Taliban launched an attack on several positions of Afghan government forces around the district of Jaghori in the central province of Ghazni.

The Afghan group’s news agency Voice of Jihad claimed in a press release on November 7 that Taliban fighters had captured 9 positions of the Afghan National Police (ANP) after killing more than 25 Afghan policemen. Dozens of other policemen were reportedly injured.

Mohammad Arif Noori, Ghazni governor’s spokesman, confirmed that Taliban fighters had launched an attack on Jaghori from their positions in the district of Gailan.

“Last night the armed anti-government group [Taliban] attacked two border check posts of local police in Angory area of Jaghori from Rasanai area of Gailan district,” Noori told the Afghan TOLO TV.​

Later, Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said that situation in Jaghori is under control, but he acknowledged that the Taliban had been able to capture two checkpoints in the district. According to the minister, only six Afghan policemen were injured in the clashes.

“Enough equipment has arrived via air to our forces and backup forces have been deployed there. The situation is under our control, but clashes are still ongoing,” said Danish, according to TOLO.​

Despite of Danish assurances, several local official warned that the Afghan government is not doing enough to secure Jaghori from the threat of the Taliban. During the last few months, the Afghan group carried out several attacks in the center of Afghanistan in order to block key highways there.


TALIBAN RELEASED PHOTOS OF U.S. MQ-9 REAPER UNMANNED COMBAT AERIAL VEHICLE, WHICH CRASHED IN AFGHANISTAN

The Taliban has released photos of a US MQ-9 Reaper unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), which crashed in Afghanistan. On October 25, the Taliban’s news agency Voice of Jihad reported that the movement had downed a US UCAV near the village of Horak in the province of Kandahar.

US MQ-9 Reaper crashed.jpg
US MQ-9 Reaper.jpg
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
November 9, 2018 - Afghan Peace Council tells Taliban it is ready for talks: RIA
Taliban attends peace talks in Moscow for first time, no progress reported | Reuters


Head of Afghanistan delegation and Deputy Chairman of High Peace Council, Hajji Din Mohammad, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanakzai, head of the Taliban’s political council in Qatar, pose for a family photo during the multilateral peace talks on Afghanistan in Moscow, Russia November 9, 2018. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Members of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, a body overseeing peace efforts, met Taliban officials at a conference in Moscow on Friday and repeated President Ashraf Ghani's offer of peace talks without pre-conditions.

For the first time, the meeting of regional officials on ways to end the war included a Taliban delegation, as moves toward achieving a political settlement pick up.

“We discussed the subject of direct talks with the Taliban and asked them to choose the place and the starting time,” said Ehsan Tahiri, High Peace Council spokesman, according to Russia’s RIA news agency.

The meeting, which underlines Russia’s desire to be involved in any settlement in Afghanistan, took place as U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad prepared for a fresh round of talks with Taliban officials in Qatar.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said that “we reaffirm our position on the lack of alternative to a political settlement in Afghanistan and the need for active coordinated efforts by Afghanistan’s neighboring countries and regional partners”.

Western officials and Ghani’s government view the Moscow meeting with some suspicion, seeing it as an attempt by Russia to push its way into a process that they say must be led by Afghanistan.

As well as the five-member Taliban delegation, Russia brought to the meeting several senior Afghan political figures, including some who have clashed with Ghani in the past. Ghani’s government sent only a delegation from the High Peace Council, a group set up to coordinate reconciliation efforts.

The Taliban issued a statement this week saying the conference was “not about negotiating with any particular side”. It said the meeting was “about holding comprehensive discussions on finding a peaceful solution to the Afghan quandary and ending the American occupation”.

Ghani offered in February to talk to the Taliban without pre-conditions but the insurgents, who regard his government as a foreign-controlled regime, have refused, saying they will deal only with the United States.


9 Nov, 2018 - Moscow hosts consultations on Afghanistan attended by govt, Taliban delegates
Moscow hosts consultations on Afghanistan attended by govt, Taliban delegates

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that Afghanistan should not be used for geopolitical games. Russia supports the preservation of a united and indivisible Afghanistan, he said opening the second session of the Moscow-based consultations on Afghanistan.

“No one should think in terms of geopolitical games that may result in another transformation of Afghanistan into a field for competition between external players with drastic consequences both for the Afghans and their neighbors,” the minister said.

The consultations between deputy foreign ministers and special representatives is attended for the first time by a delegation of the Taliban movement, TASS reports. An employee from the US Embassy in Moscow will also take part in the event as an observer.


09/11/2018 - Afghanistan's Peace Council says ready for talks with Taliban - RIA
Afghanistan's peace council says ready for talks with Taliban - RIA

MOSCOW - A representative of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, a non-government body overseeing peace efforts, said at a conference in Moscow that the council was ready for talks with the Taliban and has asked them to pick a date to start the negotiations.
"We discussed the subject of direct talks with the Taliban and asked them to choose the place and the time of their start," Ehsan Tahiri, spokesman for the High Peace Council, said, according to Russia's RIA news agency.


08.11.2018 - US Embassy in Moscow to send its Staffers to Afghan talks in Russia - State Dept.
US Embassy in Moscow to Send Its Staffers to Afghan Talks in Russia - State Dept

The Embassy of the United States in Moscow will dispatch a representative to monitor the peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in the Russian capital on November 9, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino told reporters in a press briefing on Wednesday.

When asked whether Washington would send officials to attend the international talks, Palladino said, "The United States Embassy in Moscow will send a representative to the working level to observe the discussions."

The spokesman added the US government believes all countries should back direct dialogue between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban to achieve the end to the conflict. He added that Washington remains ready to act on expediting the peace process in the region.

Palladino stressed that no government, including Russia, could serve as a substitute for the leadership of Afghanistan in the negotiations with the Taliban.

Afghanistan has long been suffering from an unstable political, social and security situation due to simmering Taliban insurgency. The violence is exacerbated by the activities of various terrorist groups, including the Daesh.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
2018-11-10 - Russo-Turkish Cooperation in Syria is Moscow’s Model For a Regionally Authored Afghan Peace Process
Russo-Turkish Cooperation in Syria is Moscow's Model For a Regionally Authored Afghan Peace Process - Eurasia Future

Talks in Moscow have concluded between the Taliban and members of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan, a group with close ties to Kabul. In another historic move, Indian representatives were present at the table where peace initiatives were being discussed while representatives from China, Pakistan, the US and the central Asian republics were also invited.

While no side had expectations of any agreement being reached at the conference, the very fact that the conference was held is symptomatic of a new Russian strategy for the region that owes a great deal to the recent success of Russo-Turkish cooperation in Syria.

Russia has a long history dating back to the Soviet era in which Moscow supported the governments of both Afghanistan and Syria. Yet as both nations are currently in the midst of long running conflicts, Russia has recently pivoted its position from one of uniform support for Damascus and Kabul to one of mediation between warring factions. This might come as a surprise to those with sharp memories of the time that Soviet troops fought along side a leftist Afghan government against the Mujaheddin in the 1980s while it also might seem strange to some that the same Russian government that sacrificed Russian lives to help the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad fight terror groups is now working with Turkey to form a constitutional convention and long term dialogue process between Assad’s government and opposing forces.

But acting as a mediating force between the post-Mujaheddin Taliban and Kabul as well as the Syrian opposition and Bashar al-Assad’s government is exactly what Russia is presently doing.

In the case of Syria, Russia’s historic rapprochement and resulting strong partnership with Turkey has helped Moscow officials ease into their role as a peacemaker in the Syrian conflict. The tangible results of this new reality have already achieved the following:

–A tense but ultimately successful Syrian National Dialpgue Congress held on Russian soil (successful as few thought it could have happened at all)

–The creation of multiple de-escalation zones in Syria with the cooperation of Turkey and Iran

–The Astana peace format

–A commitment secured between the Syrian government and opposition to engage in a constitutional convention that forms the core of the political peace process


–The creation of a de-militarised zone dividing the contentious Idlib Governorate between the Syrian Arab Army and armed groups opposed to Bashar al-Assad

In respect of Afghanistan and the wider south Asian region, Russia continues to develop closer ties with Pakistan which during the Cold War and indeed after was a US ally while also being a perpetually all-weather friend to China, a state which in the 1960s, 70s and 80s was a rival to the USSR for influence in south Asia. While the Russo-Turkish rapprochement has been very visible, the Russo-Pakistani rapprochement is equally significant and in many was has moved at a similar pace.

This has led Russia to take a far more nuanced position in Afghanistan than the one it took in the 1980s (as the USSR), 1990s or even the early 2000s. Today, Russia like China and Pakistan realises that the only hope for Afghanistan is for a meaningful political peace deal to be signed between the current Kabul government and the Taliban who today control more Afghan territory than at anytime since the US invasion of 2001.

While India had and continues to have a close relationship with Kabul as part of a long term strategy to surround Pakistan with hostile actors, the fact that Russia persuaded its Cold War Indian ally to send representatives (albeit in a technically non-official capacity) to the Moscow peace conference with the Afghan Taliban, represents a new reality where Russia is quietly playing a similar role in Afghanistan as the more visible role it is playing in Syria.

In Syria, Russia is not only the de-facto go-between regarding a Syrian and Turkish government that no longer have formal relations, but in terms of balancing between strategic interests, Russia which was once perceived to have a similar to position as Iran in respect of the Syrian conflict, is today balancing the interests of Turkey and Iran – two partner nations with different views on the nature of the Syrian conflict. At the same time, Russia is also balancing the mutual interests of Israel and the United States against those of Iran, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Damascus. This reality could be important if juxtaposed in an Afghan peace process where the United States, Iran and pro-Iranian factions in Afghanistan also have deeply vested interests.

Likewise, in Afghanistan, Russia retains open communications with Kabul while also working to draw the Taliban into a dialogue based political peace process all the while balancing Pakistan and India’s concerns in the region in the same way that in Syria, Russia balances the Iranian and Turkish position. Of course, this balancing act in Afghanistan is even more critical as while Turkey and Iran are experiencing a renaissance in relations (in spite of some lingering disagreements on Syria), India and Pakistan remain hostile neighbours.

The fact that Afghanistan’s political institutions have never been as strong as Syria’s at any time in the last 1,000 years makes the Afghan peace process a far more entangled and consequently slow moving affair than that which is transpiring in the Levant. That being said, the overall success that has resulted in Russia’s ability to balance multiple seemingly competing interests in Syria does provide a model that could potentially deliver to Afghanistan and its neighbours the kind of peace that is desperately needed.
 
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