Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The outgoing Pentagon senior enlisted adviser and his incoming replacement weighed in on reporting Monday that military leaders have been misleading the American people about the direction and success of the war in Afghanistan since within months of U.S. troops hitting the ground in October 2001, roundly denying that they ever felt lied to about the mission and touting the progress the country has made in the intervening years.
As per the Military Times report, US Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, the senior enlisted adviser to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, told reporters that while he had not fully read the Washington Posts’s “Afghanistan papers” story, he disagreed with assertions that either the troops or public had been manipulated into believing a certain narrative about the war.
“It has been baby steps as we move forward to assist the Afghan military in securing the Afghan nation,” Troxell said. “And it’s going to be step by step as we get after business.”
The documents, compiled from hundreds of interviews with national security leaders as part of an internal Pentagon review, detail statements by top leadership in the Pentagon and Afghanistan including Milley, as a three-star general lamenting the lack of clear strategy in the country and the moving goal posts for metrics of success.
“I’ve been to Afghanistan 10 times in the last four years in this job and I feel that we’ve never been lied to and we are continuing to move forward,” he said, adding that he served as the senior enlisted adviser to the International Security Assistance Force in 2011 and, “I firmly thought the strategy we had in place was working.”
Troxell was joined Monday by Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez, a career special operations pararescueman, who also weighed in on his experiences deployed to Afghanistan.
“The men and women that have been going back to since 2002 to perform this mission have been pouring their heart and soul into its success,” he said.
And, he added, he never questioned his superior officers’ orders during the many capture-or-kill missions he completed in the country.
Afghan local officials say, the Taliban insurgents have abducted at least six civilians in jawzjan province.
The spokesman of Jawzjan governor, Abdul Marouf Arz told Reporterly that the Taliban group abducted six elders of the Faizabad district on Tuesday morning.
According to him, the six civilians were abducted when they wanted to attend a funeral ceremony.
The spokesman of Jawzjan governor emphasized that the civilians had no connection with governmental institutions and the reason behind their abduction is unclear.
He added that the efforts for releasing the abductees through local councils have been started.
The Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah says the efforts for elimination of violence against women should not be summed up to multi-day programs and ending the violence requires sustained efforts.
At the closing program of a 16-day campaign to eliminate violence against women, Abdullah said, “Violence against women is against Islamic and human standards, and its perpetrators must be taken seriously.”
He emphasized that any violent behavior is condemned and the community depends on women’s health.
“To achieve sustainable development we need to put an end to violence against women, and there are still shocking examples of violence against women in Afghanistan, but due to the efforts of various institutions and the cooperation of religious scholars, this figure has declined significantly over the past years,” Abdullah said.
“When we look at the figures, there are figures that show an increase in violence because of rising public awareness. In the past, there was no awareness and violence against women was accepted as a part, so the numbers were low,” he added.
Marking International Human Rights Day with this year’s theme being Youth Stand Up for Human Rights, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on Tuesday highlighted the role of young people in the promotion and protection of human rights.
“Young people have always been drivers of political, economic and social change, and in Afghanistan the young generation is crucial for shaping the future of the country,” UNAMA head Tadamichi Yamamoto said. “But for their full potential to be reached, protecting their rights is essential.”
Afghanistan has a very youthful population, with almost two-thirds estimated to be under the age of 25, according to UNAMA.
Notwithstanding significant progress made especially in relation to access to health services and education for girls and boys, including the enactment of the Child Act in March 2019, millions of children in Afghanistan are deprived of their basic rights – including their right to life, to health, to learn, to play, to participate and to develop to reach their full potential, UNAMA said.
It said that children continue to be negatively affected by attacks on schools and hospitals, disproportionately harmed by explosive remnants of war, and subjected to recruitment and use by parties to the conflict, as well as sexual violence.
“Listening to victims of human rights violations should be a top priority for the authorities of Afghanistan, and especially so when the victims are children, as lack of accountability fosters a climate of impunity where human rights abusers thrive,” said Fiona Frazer, UNAMA’s Human Rights Chief and the Country Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“The protection of children, women and other vulnerable groups must be at the core of any national human rights protection strategy.”
Turkey and NATO will continue supporting Afghanistan as long as Kabul seeks their help, the Turkish foreign minister said on Monday.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Idrees Zaman, Mevlut Cavusoglu said Afghanistan has been going through a “sensitive time”.
He said some international attempts for peace in Afghanistan have failed and voiced hope that the efforts would activate a positive process among Afghans.
“We will maintain our presence and support in Afghanistan as long as it needs Turkey and NATO,” Cavusoglu added.
An Afghan government official was assassinated in the central-eastern Ghazni province on Tuesday, local officials confirmed.
The Ghazni governor office on Tuesday confirmed that Nasrullah Syasi, head of martyrs and disabled department in Ghazni, was shot killed in PD2 of the provincial capital of Ghazni, while he was on his way to office.
This comes as the assassination of government officials and influential individuals have been recently increased in the Ghazni.
On the sideline of the 8th Heart of -Asia Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference, President Ashraf Ghani met with US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Alice Wells and discussed about peace and regional connectivity.
“Pointing about Afghanistan seven-article peace plan, President Ghani said that peace is an important priority of the Afghan government and a fundamental demand of Afghan people. He added that we are striving for peace talks that will result in a genuine end to the war and a lasting peace,” the Presidential Palace said in a statement.
In the meantime, Alice Wells has welcomed President Ghani’s seven-article peace plan, saying the United States stands with the government and the people of Afghanistan for sustained peace and is ready for any cooperation in this area.
The statement added that Ghani praised the role of the United States in improving Afghan-Pakistani relations as well as encouraging valuable regional cooperation and connectivity, adding that Afghanistan, as a regional connectivity crossroads and has called for Pakistan and all regional countries to actively participate in regional cooperation.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that Pentagon officials privately told a watchdog for years about their deep concerns about the U.S. war strategy in Afghanistan, including senior officials who were publicly more hopeful.
The Washington Post obtained thousands of documents from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the government’s watchdog on the war, which interviewed more than 600 people. The Post obtained the interviews through a Freedom of Information Act and two federal lawsuits.
The disclosure comes as U.S. President Donald Trump and the Pentagon look to draw down the number of forces in Afghanistan to focus more on battling al Qaeda and Islamic State, as the administration hopes for a peace deal with the Taliban.
The United States went into Afghanistan in 2001 and ousted its Taliban leaders after they refused to hand over members of the al Qaeda militant group behind the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.
About 2,400 U.S. service members have been killed in the Afghan conflict and many thousands more wounded.
“We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star general who was given a central role in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan by U.S. President George W. Bush, told interviewers in 2015, the Post said.
Military commanders throughout the war publicly talked about their hopes that the conflict in Afghanistan was turning a corner, even as the Taliban held on to large parts of the country and killed U.S. and Afghan forces – without having any air combat capability.
Still, the U.S. military leaders have periodically talked about their concerns about the war, particularly when seeking increases in troops or in capabilities needed to fight the Taliban.
In 2010, then-Major General Michael Flynn, deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan for the U.S. military and its NATO allies, sharply criticized the work of U.S. spy agencies in Afghanistan, calling them ignorant and out of touch with the Afghan people. Flynn later served as Trump’s national security adviser.
The Post also obtained some of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s memos between 2001 and 2006.
“We are never going to get the U.S. military out of Afghanistan unless we take care to see that there is something going on that will provide the stability that will be necessary for us to leave,” Rumsfeld said in one dated 2002.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the international community on Monday to boost investments in Afghanistan during “sensitive” times the country has been going through.
Erdogan’s remarks came at the 8th Ministerial Conference of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process convened at Dolmabahce Palace under Peace, Partnership, Prosperity theme.
“Afghanistan has been going through a sensitive period. As international community, we need to boost the investments we have been making for Afghanistan for the last 18 years,” Erdogan said.
Erdogan stressed that a significant number of the problems faced by the people in South Asia were arising from outside of their borders and said that people in this region had to struggle with the negative impacts of the developments that had “nothing to do with them.”
He also emphasized regional cooperation to tackle problems South Asia region has been facing.
“I believe that the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process is also very useful and effective in providing regional support for peace,” he said.
He said the Istanbul Process was providing an exemplary regional cooperation model which enables the regional problems to be dealt with in solidarity.
The Turkish president noted the importance of supporting Afghanistan to prevent terror organizations from regrouping in the country.
He added that Turkey would do its best to eradicate ISIS terror group in Afghanistan.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Monday addressed the eighth ministerial conference of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process in Turkey and stressed the need for an international and regional consensus for peace.
“I will offer suggestions for your deliberation and support to move the process forward,” said Ghani.
He declared that his seven-article peace plan includes suggestions of Afghan people as well as international community.
He made some suggestions for the Afghan peace process:
First, building a consensus on drivers of conflict.
2nd, reaching an agreement on a coordinated process of regional and international support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.
And third, design and implement a reinforcing series of dialogues between the Afghan government and people and the regional and international community with the Taliban.