Thursday, November 27, 2014
Afghan senate approves security agreements with US, NATO
Press TV / November 27, 2014
The Upper House of Afghanistan’s Parliament has approved two security deals with US and NATO.
On Thursday, Afghanistan’s Upper House of Parliament (Meshrano Jirga) ratified the country’s Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) with Washington and the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA).
According to Afghan sources, 65 senators voted for the agreements while 7 rejected them.
Based on the agreements, the US and NATO could keep a total of 12,000 soldiers in Afghanistan next year for what they describe as supporting Afghan forces.
Earlier this week, the two deals were ratified in the country’s Lower House of Parliament (Wolesi Jirga).
Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar and US Ambassador to Kabul James Cunningham signed the long-delayed BSA on September 30.
The signing of the security deal came as former Afghan President Hamid Karzai had refused to ink the BSA, saying the terms of the agreement undermines Kabul’s authority in managing domestic security affairs.
The agreement grants immunity to US-led troops operating in the country. It also allows the US-led forces to carry out deadly overnight raids on Afghan homes, which has triggered widespread protests in Afghanistan.
The United States and its allies attacked Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains in the country, despite the presence of tens of thousands of foreign troops.
Afghan Senate Approves Security Agreements With U.S., NATO
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
November 27, 2014
Afghanistan's upper house of parliament has overwhelmingly approved bilateral security agreements with the United States and separately with NATO that allow some 12,500 international troops to remain in the country beyond December 2014.
A parliamentary media officer said only seven lawmakers -- out of 102 -- voted against the deals on November 27.
The agreements were approved by the lower house on November 23.
The new Afghan government signed the two agreements on September 30.
Former President Hamid Karzai had refused to sign the deals.
The approval of the agreements comes as the Taliban and other insurgent groups have intensified attacks both on domestic and foreign targets.
At least five Afghans and one Briton were killed and more than 30 people injured in the latest suicide attack that struck a vehicle of the British Embassy in Kabul on November 27.
Based on reporting by AFP and RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan
Explosions, Gunfire in Kabul's Diplomatic Quarter
VOA News / November 27, 2014
A large blast rocked the central district in the Afghan capital late Thursday, followed by gunfire in an area that houses many embassies and foreigners' compounds.
Journalists on the scene report intermittent gunfire and say the attack appears to be ongoing.
There is no word on casualties in the latest attack, which followed a suicide car bombing earlier in the day. That attack killed at least five people in a vehicle from the British embassy. One of the dead was a British national.
In Rome, visiting British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond condemned the attack. He said the victims had been both British and Afghan.
Afghan officials said the first attack Thursday wounded 33 other people, all of them Afghans.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the car bombing, saying it "targeted foreign invading forces."
Afghanistan's capital has been hit by a wave of attacks recently. Most foreign combat forces that have been supporting the Afghan government are preparing to leave the war-torn country next month.
Earlier this week, a bomb blast in Kabul killed two American soldiers.
US drone strike leaves
3 dead in central east Afghanistan
Press TV / November 27, 2014
At least three people have been killed in a fresh US drone strike in central eastern Afghanistan.
The air raid was conducted in the Chak district of Wardak Province on Thursday.
Three Afghans also lost their lives in a similar US drone strike in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Laghman on Wednesday.
The US-led forces have increased their air raids against civilian areas in Afghanistan in recent months.
The United States regularly uses drones for assassination strikes and spying missions in Afghanistan, as well as in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt near the Afghan border.
Washington claims the targets of the drone attacks are militants, but local officials and witnesses maintain that civilians have been the main victims of such attacks over the past few years.
The United Nations and several human rights organizations have identified the US as the world's number one user of "targeted killings," largely due to its drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Taliban militants seize 15
officials in northern Afghanistan
Press TV / November 27, 2014
Taliban militants have seized at least 15 government officials during an ambush in Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz, an official says.
Abdul Wasay Basel, the spokesman for the provincial governor, said Thursday that the abductees were "the employees of the Sherkhan Bandar custom office.”
They were “en route to Kunduz city when they were kidnapped by the Taliban insurgents late Wednesday," added Basel.
He said there have been reports that the hostages have been taken to a place in Dasht-e-Archi district.
Basel noted that officials suspected that the driver had links with the Taliban.
Taliban militants have stepped up their attacks against Afghan government troops, foreign forces and civilians.
They have vowed to escalate the assaults on Afghan forces and US-led troops, their bases, diplomatic missions and vehicle convoys before the drawdown of US-led foreign forces by the end of the year.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The military offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity continues across the country despite the presence of tens of thousands of US-led troops.
reaffirms commitment to Afghanistan
KABUL, 27 November 2014 – One week ahead of the landmark London Conference on Afghanistan, the most senior United Nations official in the country today reaffirmed the world body’s commitment to support Afghan economic, security and human rights initiatives.
“Though the drawdown in international military is nearing its end, the international community continues to stand resolute with the Afghan people,” said the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, in remarks at a special session of the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board (JCMB) in Kabul.
The JCMB is an Afghan-international body charged with overseeing the Afghanistan Compact, launched in 2006 to set out an agenda for sustained and prolonged engagement in Afghanistan with a view to consolidating democratic institutions and stimulating the economy. It is co-chaired by the Minister of Finance from the Afghan Government and the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
“As Afghanistan’s reform agenda progresses, the international community likewise reaffirms its commitment to aid-effectiveness principles, and to commitments made in Tokyo in 2012,” said Mr. Haysom, who is also the head of UNAMA. He added that the international community is ready to partner with the Government on key humanitarian needs and other priorities.
“Our shared objective is a stronger, more secure, and more prosperous Afghanistan,” the special envoy said. “Our shared work is to make our partnership increasingly strong, sustainable and accountable as a foundation for that vision.”
The upcoming London Conference on Afghanistan is scheduled to take place early December to provide a platform for the Government of Afghanistan to set out its vision for reform, and for the international community to demonstrate solidarity and support for the country.
In remarks made at the event, the Afghan Minister for Finance, Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal, said the London Conference will provide an opportunity for setting priorities for development.
“We expect the London Conference will reaffirm and increase donors’ commitments for Afghanistan,” said Mr. Zakhilwal, adding that Afghanistan is seeking qualitative change in its relations with the international community, especially in terms of regional development and trade.
“I hope we have a tremendous conference in London and return back to Afghanistan with much stronger relations with the international community,” he added.
British Ambassador Richard Stagg, in comments at the event, said Afghanistan has made great strides in many areas during the last 13 years, and identified the London Conference as a way to focus on delivering Afghanistan’s future prosperity and stability.
“We see the London Conference as a critical opportunity to show our support to the National Unity Government and our commitment to an enduring and successful partnership,” said Ambassador Stagg.
1.2 million Afghan children severely malnourished: UN
Press TV / November 26, 2014
A United Nations humanitarian coordinator says around 1.2 million children in Afghanistan are acutely malnourished, with half a million of those suffering from poor nutrition under the age of five.
The UN Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Mark Bowden stated on Wednesday that food insecurity affects nearly eight million people in the war-wrecked Asian country, and the presence of 225,000 refugees who have fled the Pakistani army’s operations against militant hideouts in a northwestern tribal region near the border with Afghanistan has exacerbated the humanitarian problems.
Bowden also appealed for USD 405 million to cover the humanitarian needs of the people in Afghanistan in 2015.
According to the data collected by the Afghan government and UN in June, 55 percent of Afghan children are suffering irreversible complications of severe malnutrition.
The majority of Afghans cannot afford even a minimally healthy diet, and in some provinces only one in five could afford regular balanced meals, another UN study suggests.
Severe cases of malnutrition have been reported in the provinces of Helmand, Kandahar, Konar, Farah, Paktia and Paktika — all places where the US-led war has wrecked people’s lives and pushed the poor over the nutritional edge.
Medical sources and aid workers have mainly blamed continuing war and refugee displacement for the hunger crisis.
Meanwhile, human rights activists have raised alarm over the plight of child workers in Afghanistan, noting that most of these youngsters are facing rising levels of violence and sexual abuse.
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 as part of Washington’s so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but insecurity remains across the country despite the presence of thousands of US-led troops.