Saturday, November 22, 2014
Report: Obama Signs Secret Order Extending
U.S. Combat Role In Afghanistan
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
November 22, 2014
"The New York Times" reports that U.S. President Barack Obama has extended the combat role for U.S. troops in Afghanistan by another year in a classified order he signed in recent weeks.
Obama previously said U.S.-led NATO combat operations in Afghanistan would finish by the end of 2014.
NATO's follow up mission, beginning January 1, includes 9,800 U.S. troops and 3,000 from Germany, Italy, and other NATO countries.
Its initial intention was to focus on supporting Afghan forces.
But "The New York Times" reported on November 22 that Obama's order authorizes U.S. troops to continue combat against militants in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, if they threaten U.S. forces or the Afghan government.
It also allows for U.S. air support during Afghan combat missions.
The Associated Press (AP) news agency says U.S. officials confirmed details of the report on condition of anonymity.
Based on reporting by AP, Reuters, "The New York Times," and AFP
US troops to have combat role indefinitely: Analyst
Press TV / November 22, 2014
The United States will “continue combat operations” in Afghanistan for an indefinite period, says a political analyst.
“The Obama administration, with or without the knowledge of Congress, but certainly without revealing this to the American populace, has decided to continue combat operations by US military forces in Afghanistan beyond this year, into the next and presumably indefinitely,” Rick Rozoff, manager at Stop NATO International, told Press TV on Saturday.
According to a new report, President Barack Obama has secretly signed an order allowing US troops to be involved in combat operations in Afghanistan throughout 2015.
The order will authorize American forces to continue their missions against the Taliban and other militant groups, the New York Times reported on Friday.
Rozoff said the secret order is another startling indication of how “condescending and disrespectful” the US is towards the agreement reached with the new government of Afghanistan as well as “the international community.”
Obama claims the 10,000 troops remaining in Afghanistan will only be involved in training Afghan forces, but Rozoff said they will engage in combat operations.
“We’re told that the remaining 10 to 15 thousand troops would be limited to ‘train and equip’ operations but anyone with any historical memory in the United States or worldwide realizes that was the official explanation for the introduction of the American armed forces into China in 1960s and into Laos and Vietnam, and the role rapidly grew from alleged training to commanding and ultimately half a million troops fighting the war,” he noted.
“There is always a possibility of the US having a foundation of 10 to15 thousand troops, many of those participating in active combat roles,” he explained.
Rozoff concluded that the US “wants to maintain military presence in that very strategically vital part of the world and even if the troop levels have been reduced… the US and its NATO allies maintain several major air bases in Afghanistan.”
Afghan parliament call for special
session to discuss US security pact
Khaama Press / November 22, 2014
The lower house of the Afghan parliament – Wolesi Jirga called for a special session to start debate on the bilateral security agreement between Kabul and Washington on Sunday.
Lower house speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said a special session would be organized on Sunday to discuss the agreement signed between the two nations late in September.
Ibrahimi further added that the session will hold talks on NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which was signed the same day when Afghan-US security deal was concluded.
He said the government has emphasized to finalize the two security agreements.
The bilateral security agreement between Afghanistan and United States was formally signed by US ambassador to Afghanistan James B. Cunningham and national security adviser Mohammad Hanif Atmar on 30th September.
The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) for the NATO forces was also inked during the signing ceremony on the same day.
The draft bilateral security agreement between Kabul and Washington was endorsed by majority during a gathering by tribal elders last year. However, the former President Hamid Karzai refused to sign the deal.
The agreement will pave the way for the presence of US troops to Afghanistan beyond 2014. The agreements will be forwarded to the senate house once they have been approved by lawmakers in the lower house of the parliament – Wolesi Jirga.
Karzai Says Kabul Won't Allow India-Pakistan
'Proxy War' On Afghan Soil
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
November 22, 2014
Afghanistan’s former president, Hamid Karzai, has said at a gathering in New Delhi that Kabul will not allow its soil to be used for a "proxy war" between India and Pakistan.
Speaking at a conference of policymakers, diplomats, and business leaders hosted by the "Hindustan Times" newspaper, Karzai also urged Indian, China, and Russia to put up a united fight against terrorism in Afghanistan.
Karzai told the gathering on November 21 that terrorism "derives its sustenance and support from outside" of Afghanistan’s borders.
And in a reference to Pakistan, the former Afghan president said: "Terrorism as an instrument of foreign policy has boomeranged."
Karzai, who made 20 visits to Pakistan in more than 12 years as president, has consistently spoken about terrorist sanctuaries outside of Afghanistan -- often referring to the financial and ideological support that terrorist groups have received in neighboring Pakistan.
Based on reporting by the "Hindustan Times"
Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future
VOA News / November 21, 2014
ISLAMABAD - For women in Afghanistan, playing outdoor games was out of question under the repressive Taliban government. But the emergence of a national women’s soccer team in recent years is one of the many developments that symbolize changes the strife-torn country has since undergone. The team recently competed in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship in Islamabad.
Although the team won no matches, players sounded upbeat that they will do better in the future. They are also confident new President Ashraf Ghani will take further steps to promote women's soccer in Afghanistan.
Frozan Tajali, 21, is the captain of the Afghan women's team. She said that increased participation in international events is helping her players improve their skills. Tajali said that for the first time in October, a four-team female league was organized in Kabul and it also helped in identifying players for the national team.
"Yes, women are now free and can play football [in Afghanistan]. We organized the league recently for selecting the national team and 20 girls came just from one province alone to Kabul to take part in the league,” she said.
Defender Yalda Arghandiwal came all the way from the United States to represent her country at the soccer championship, held at Islamabad’s Jinnah Stadium.
The 20-year-old Afghan player acknowledged there are still cultural restrictions on women for playing soccer and other outdoor games in parts of Afghanistan. However, she said things have improved.
“There is a lot, more brighter cases in Afghanistan, it is not just the Taliban taking over and nobody has any rights. We do have rights it is more free we have our president, he is trying to make the country better for us. And yes, the women now are getting better and this is a big example for you. They are out here playing soccer so that should be a big improvement that yes Afghanistan is proving as a country and they have owned the future,” said Yalda.
Yalda comes from Kabul and moved to the United States a decade ago with her family, where she regularly started playing soccer. She said her team must improve to compete with countries like India and Nepal, who have been playing for several decades.
“We lost but that does not matter. As long as we tried our best - we tried really, really hard - and we worked how we want to work, it is totally fine. This is the just the beginning for Afghanistan national soccer team and for the women of Afghanistan. This could be a big start and it could just lead us into a more brighter future,” said Yalda.
Yalda was among five Afghan female players who are settled abroad but represent their national team in international events at the request of Afghanistan Football Federation.
Midfielder Shabnam Mubariz said Afghanistan has made significant progress in recent years in all areas, including soccer for women.
“I see a bright future because we are starting to playing football now,” she said.
Monika Staab, a German consultant from FIFA watched the teams perform at the SAFF championship. Staab said that she has noted a marked improvement in the Afghan team since she first saw them in action seven years ago in Pakistan.
“Afghanistan women want to play. I know the Taliban and all these people who say women should stay at home, things are changing we are now in 2014 and we have to give the girls the opportunity. We have to push them move on to play, let them play,” said Staab.
Members of the Afghan team wear black head-scarves and full leggings in all of their matches to adhere to the country's conservative Islamic culture. Even after the Taliban's removal from power, gender segregation remains deeply rooted in Afghan life.
4 Taliban militants including commander killed in S. Afghanistan
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Four Taliban militants including their commander were killed in Helmand province with Lashkar Gah as its capital 555 km south of Kabul on Saturday, police said.
"Taliban militants raided police checkpoints in Musa Qala and Sangin districts early Saturday and police returned fire, killing four insurgents including their commander Mullah Akhtar Mohammad and forcing others to flee," police spokesman in the province Farid Ahmad Abid told reporters.
There were no casualties on the side of police and civilians, he added.
Taliban militants are yet to make comment.
Notorious for militancy and poppy cultivation, Helmand has been regarded as Taliban's hotbed in Afghanistan.
Clash leaves 4 militants dead in N. Afghanistan
PUL-E-KHUMRI, Afghanistan, Nov. 22 (Xinhua) -- Four militants were killed and five others including a security person sustained injuries as clash flared up in Baghlan province with Pul-e-Khumri as its capital 160 km north of Kabul Friday night, a local official said Saturday.
"A group of armed Taliban rebels raided a security checkpoint in Abqul area of Baghlan-e-Markazai district late last night, triggering a gun battle which lasted for a while leaving four militants dead," district governor Gohar Khan Babri told reporters.
Five more persons including four militants and a security man sustained injuries in the firefight, he added.
Taliban purported spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in talks with media via telephone from an unknown location confirmed the clash, insisting only one insurgent was killed and two others injured. He also claimed killing several security personnel in the firefight, a claim rejected by Babri as baseless. Taliban militants fighting the government to regain power have stepped up their activities over the past couple of months.
Taliban say they shot down US spy drone in Afghanistan
Press TV / November 22, 2014
Taliban militants claim to have shot down a US spy drone in eastern Afghanistan.
Zabihollah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said on Saturday that the unmanned aircraft was downed while conducting a surveillance mission in Rodat district of Nangarhar province.
Afghan and American officials have not yet commented on the incident.
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 facts on the ground show that civilians have been the main victims of such raids 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 Pakistan and Afghanistan.