Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett and Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein visited 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Airmen at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, this week as part of their first joint trip to the Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, according to USAF release.
Prior to becoming service Secretary, Barrett was a member of the US-Afghan Women’s Council, according to her Air Force biography. But while she has an established track record of visiting Afghanistan as part of her collaboration with its female citizens and businesswomen, this was her first visit to the country as SECAF.
“I’m here because it is such an important location, and it is a place where America is making a difference,” Barrett said in the release. “Aviation is how we project power in this area, and the airmen here at Bagram are a huge part of the reason why those efforts are successful.”
During the stop, the leaders hosted an all-call that tackled audience questions on topics ranging from “gender equality and technological advancements, to enlisted education and the development of the Space Force,” and they learned about the wing’s roles in Operations Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support, the release stated.
“The air component is absolutely critical to our success here because we bring the asymmetric advantage that our forces need to be able to prevail,” Goldfein said in the release. “We’re also helping build an Afghan air force so they can police their own borders, which is what we’re after in the end.”
At least six citizens of Kazakhstan have been detained in Afghanistan for membership in ISIS, Kazakh media reported.
“Six citizens of Kazakhstan are ISIS fighters, they have been detained by the National Security Directorate (NDS) in Nimurz province,” the report said.
“Pavel, known as Abdulla, a citizen of Kazakhstan, his wife and three children were arrested in Zaranj. He confessed to joining ISIS three years ago and involvement in terror activity in different parts of the eastern province of Nangarhar,” the report added.
The National Security Adviser (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib met with Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow, the NSC office said on Thursday.
According to a statement by NSA office, the agenda of meeting included efforts to maintain stability in the Central Asian region.
“Nikolai Patrushev and Hamdullah Mohib focused on the issues of countering terrorist threats with the goal of maintaining stability in the Central Asian region,” the statement reads.
Mohib attended a meeting of security chiefs from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in Moscow on Wednesday.
The sides analyzed threats posed by foreign terrorists and measures on preventing them from entering the former Soviet states.
Afghan security forces clashed with Taliban insurgents in Wardak and Paktia provinces in the past 24 hours, killing or wounding at least 12 militants, officials said.
The 203rd Thunder Corps said in a statement that the security forces clashed with Taliban in Ibrahim Khel and Kashmiryan areas of Wardak province.
The statement further added the security forces killed 4 Taliban insurgents during the clashes and wounded at least 6 others.
In addition, the security forces repulsed a Taliban attack in Rohani Baba area of Zurmat district in Paktia, the 203rd Thunder Corps said, adding that the security forces wounded 2 Taliban militants during the clash.
The 201st Silab Corps also added that the security forces discovered and defused 4 improvised explosive devices during the operations in Ghazni province.
US’s Department of State in its latest annual ‘Country Report on Terrorism 2018’ (CRT), has accused Pakistan that on the one hand, it voices support for political reconciliation in Afghanistan, but on the contrary, Pakistani establishment did not restrict the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network (HQN) from operating in Pakistan-based safe havens, and threatened the US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan.
The US Report found that Pakistan does not mend its ways; even though FATF in June 2019 placed it on its “grey list” for deficiencies and failure to implement UN sanctions related to designated entities, specifically citing concerns over Pakistan’s failure to fully implement the UN Security Council ISIL (Da’esh) and al-Qa’ida sanctions regime.
The report also questioned the Pak government’s decision allowing military courts to try civilians on terrorism charges for two additional years when these are criticized for not being transparent and are being used to silence civil society activists.
US Senator Bernie Sanders has criticized former Vice President Joe Biden stating he thought the United States should stop spending “trillions of dollars” on the war in Afghanistan.
“One of the big differences between the Vice President and myself is he supported the terrible war in Iraq,” Sanders stated during Wednesday night’s Democratic primary debate. “I helped lead the opposition against it.”
“I think we need a foreign policy which understands who our enemies are, that we don’t have to spend more money on the military than the next ten nations combined,” he continued. “But to answer your question, yeah, I think it is time after spending many trillions of dollars on these endless wars which have resulted in more dislocation and mass migrations and pain in that region, it is time to bring our troops home.”
“Unlike Trump, I will not do it through a tweet at 3:00 in the morning,” Sanders continued. “I will do it working with the international community, and if it’s necessary to negotiate with the Taliban, of course, we will do that.”
“At the end of the day, we have to rethink the entire war on terror which has caused so much pain and lost so many lives not only for our own men and women in the armed forces but for our own people in that region as well.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) continues its mission in Afghanistan, the organization’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said, calling the country’s mission the biggest engagement so far.
Stoltenberg declared in Brussels that Afghanistan along with Iraq had important roles for NATO’s mission to defeat ISIS terrorist group.
He noted that the NATO mission would go on to get assure that the country would not turn into a center for terrorist groups.
The NATO chief stated that NATO’s mission in Afghanistan and Iraq caused the prevention or decrease of ISIS group activities.
NATO secretary-general added that the organization would continue training Afghan troops so that they stand on their own feet and be able to defeat their country alone.
US President Donald Trump said in a statement on Wednesday that he hopes the recent release of two Western hostages in Afghanistan will lead to progress with respect to the peace efforts in the country, including leading to a ceasefire that will help end the war there.
“We join families of Kevin King and Tim Weeks in celebrating their release from Taliban captivity”, Trump said via Twitter, adding that “Let’s hope this leads to more good things on the peace front like a ceasefire that will help end this long war”.
On Tuesday, US national Kevin King and Australian national Timothy Weeks were handed over to foreign forces in Afghanistan in exchange for three senior commanders of the Haqqani network, which is part of the Taliban. The two men, both American University lecturers, were kidnapped by the Taliban in 2016.
In August 2016, Kevin King and Timothy Weeks, were reportedly driving through central Kabul when militants ambushed their vehicle. Then both men, who were in the Afghan capital to teach English at the American University of Afghanistan, disappeared.