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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1400 on: January 12, 2014, 11:56:33 AM »

http://www.ijreview.com/2014/01/107873-cnn-died-nothing-navy-seal-lone-survivor-confronts-jake-tapper-senseless-deaths-comment/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1401 on: January 27, 2014, 05:41:03 AM »

What do we think of this?  Would it suffice to tell a man, a parent, a nation why we were sending their son there/why her/her son had died there?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/world/asia/afghanistan-exit-is-seen-as-peril-to-drone-mission.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140127&_r=0


http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/17/world/asia/afghanistan-taliban/index.html
« Last Edit: January 27, 2014, 05:52:11 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #1402 on: January 27, 2014, 11:13:52 AM »

second post

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303277704579345982269968544.html?mod=WSJ_hppMIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1403 on: January 28, 2014, 08:33:02 PM »

Obama Flirts With Losing the 'Must Win' War
Withdrawal from Afghanistan will be a defeat for America and a victory for al Qaeda.
By Frederick W. Kagan
Jan. 27, 2014 7:27 p.m. ET

The Soviet-installed government of Najibullah fell three years after the last Soviet soldier left Afghanistan—and mere months after the Soviets stopped supporting it financially. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved against his Sunni political opponents within 24 hours of the departure of the last American soldier, starting to set the conditions for the loss of all the gains purchased with much American and Iraqi blood. Yet Washington is full of leaks that the Obama administration is planning to end America's military presence in Afghanistan in 2016. And Congress has already slashed U.S. financial assistance to the fifth-poorest country in the world.

It seems we are about to repeat the mistakes of the past vainly hoping for a different outcome. We will be disappointed.

Candidate Barack Obama declared in 2008, "we will not repeat the mistake of the past, when we turned our back on Afghanistan following Soviet withdrawal. As 9/11 showed us, the security of Afghanistan and America is shared." He was right about the urgency. He was a poor prophet of his own future policy.

Our security remains tied to Afghanistan's. Al Qaeda leadership remains battered but defiant (and still operational) in Pakistan despite Osama bin Laden's death. The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are enormously larger and more competent than they were when Obama took office, but they are still unable to function independently against an insurgency that remains lethal and determined. Afghanistan remains unable to survive financially without massive infusions of international support. It is preparing for its first peaceful transition of power in many decades. It is impossible to argue for withdrawal on the grounds that Afghanistan no longer needs help.
Enlarge Image

Afghan children play in the outskirts of Herat, Jan. 23. aref karimi/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Many Americans think Afghanistan no longer wants our help. President Hamid Karzai fuels that belief almost every time he speaks, ranting about American abuses, reviling the U.S., and refusing to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement that would give legal basis to continued U.S. presence. Who could possibly want to help a man like that or the country for which he pretends to speak?

But Mr. Karzai is not Afghanistan. On the contrary, the gathering of influential elders and leaders he convened in November to consider the Bilateral Security Agreement emphatically endorsed it and called on him to sign it quickly. Almost every major candidate running to succeed Mr. Karzai has supported signing the agreement. Advertisements are running on Afghan television stations calling on Mr. Karzai to sign.

Mr. Karzai's refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement has virtually no support among Afghans. He does not speak for them. And in a few months he will not be leading them. It would be worse than folly to base policies touching long-term American interests on the outbursts of a jaded politician fading gracelessly from the scene.

The only reason that remains for abandoning Afghanistan is the belief that the cause there is simply lost. It is clear that many advisers to the president such as Douglas Lute have long thought so, opposing a counterinsurgency strategy on the grounds that it cannot succeed and is not necessary. Possibly President Obama himself has come to the conclusion that the strategy he endorsed and partially resourced in 2009 was mistaken.

The facts do not support this belief. Eight years of a very light-footprint, development-oriented, targeted-strike-focused strategy in Afghanistan left the Taliban on the verge of seizing Kandahar City and almost all of Southern Afghanistan in 2009. Mr. Karzai then was in reality little more than the mayor of Kabul, whose approaches the Taliban controlled or contested. There were fewer than 100,000 members in the ANSF—police and army combined—for a country of 32 million. They were equipped with rifles and pickup trucks. The Afghan Air Force did not fly a single aircraft.

Five years on things are very different. The Taliban have failed to regain their former positions in and around Kandahar despite the withdrawal of most of the international forces. They are fighting hard to regain positions in Helmand that had formerly been their fortified strongholds—and Afghans are fighting back. The ANSF numbers over 350,000, with increasingly modern vehicles, artillery and even its own helicopter support. Some Taliban strongholds around Kabul have been disrupted, although the premature withdrawal of the surge forces has left lethal foes too close to Afghanistan's capital (and international airport). Complaints that Mr. Karzai controls too much of Afghanistan are valid—but more promising in some respects than when he controlled nothing at all. Corruption and hyper-centralization can be corrected, albeit with great difficulty. Anarchy is infinitely harder to cure.

And Afghanistan still matters to American national security. Mr. Obama was right in 2008 when he called Afghanistan "a war that must be won." The al Qaeda franchises growing around the world threaten the U.S. more imminently than their confederates in Afghanistan or possibly even Pakistan. But they are all looking expectantly to the defeat of another superpower in South Asia. They intend to re-establish themselves in the land where bin Laden founded their organization and from which he hurled planes like thunderbolts at the American foe. History matters to these people and it should matter to us.

Withdrawal from Afghanistan, whether financial or military or both, will be a defeat for the U.S. and a victory for al Qaeda. It really is that simple.

Politicians on both sides of the aisle can speechify and expound arguments about how we are winning and losing simultaneously, and how, either way, we should leave now. They may persuade themselves and the American people. But they will be just as wrong as George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton were to ignore Afghanistan in the 1990s, to our great pain and suffering.

We have seen many times what will happen if the U.S. adopts the policy now being leaked. We can be sure that it will end very badly for us.

Mr. Kagan is director of the Critical Threats Project at the American Enterprise Institute.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1404 on: January 28, 2014, 10:31:24 PM »

I am not unsympathetic to the points being made, but I have substantial doubts which have their roots in:

1) Bush did a hideous job with Afpakia, after the initial success with overthrowing the Taliban.  Even the success was tainted  with our using the drug lord riddled Northern Alliance as part of the overthrow.   In hindsight Col. Peters call for leaving right then and there seems to have had considerable merit.

2) The strategy chosen was, as I have vigorously commented here for several years now (educated in great part by our YA) spectacularly incoherent; I trust I have no need here and now to restate my thinking in this regard;

3) Topping off this incoherence was the inattention paid to this war by Bush (as predicted by many critics of going into Iraq who said we needed to finish what we started in Afpakia).  Michael Yon was reporting as early as 2006 that the we were losing the war, perhaps irreparably so.

4) As deftly analyzed by Stratfor, our coalition/alliance was riddled with spies-- the trust necessary for success would have been, and indeed was, suicidal-- witness the attacks on our troops by Taliban in the Afghani Army.

In short, Obama entered into office facing a truly hideous situation.   We need to be honest about this.
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« Reply #1405 on: February 01, 2014, 12:28:09 PM »

IMHO, there are a couple of things going on in Af-Pak.

1. Karzai: Karzai has seen the writing on the wall. He also wants to have his cake and eat it too. The US is leaving, which means the Taliban will be ascendant soon. When he refuses to sign the agreement for US forces to stay, he looks good with the Taliban. He does not want to suffer the fate of Najibullah (castration +hanging). If OTOH, he can convince US forces to stay, he will have a role to play with any US mediated negotiation with the Taliban and Pak. Win-Win for him.

2. Pak: The US wants to appease them, so that there may be an orderly withdrawl. Pak wants the US to withdraw pronto, so that they get money (I read somewhere they had only 2 Bill$ in foreign reserves!), gain strategic depth (their long standing strategy against India). Paki's in their wisdom have become an IT hub (not Information Technology but Islamic Terrorism). Export of IT is a money making business (note the Saudi's offer to Putin to holdback IT from Sochi Olympics). Unfortunately, IT is getting out of hand, even for the paki's. They have lost control and their country is mired with daily bomb blasts. The only solution out for them is to redirect these battle hardened IT towards India (Kashmir cause), otherwise their own country goes up in flames.

3. US: I have always said the state sponsored terror hub is Pak, that's where they get their nourishment. The main reason that the US humors Pak is the possibility of export of nukes to the west, and secondly to keep India checkmated (the US doctrine is to maintain balance of power within nations). So occasionally, the US also supplies India with arms etc to keep China checkmated. I dont think we have major strategic interests in Afghanistan that we can work on, the geography and logistics gives Iran, Russia and China the upperhand. The US should not stay any longer in Afghanistan, because no clear aim is present. Nor can the US maintain forces for long, if the host nation does not want them there. Terrorism will not come from afghanistan, but from Pak which has the hardliner imams preaching IT.

4. India: is quite worried that these battle hardened taliban will wage jihad in India. India has a lot of experience with counterinsurgency, perhaps the most experience thanks to the pakis. So as a counter to this Pak strategy, India supplies some arms and training to Afghans. Most of the Afgh military officers train in India, which irritates the Pakis no end. So its a kind of circle within a circle with interlinked cause and effects.

Future: So based on the above, the US will leave Afghanistan, which will leave a vacuum. This vacuum will be filled by Islamic hardliners. They will command the southern parts of Afghanistan and the Northern Forces will retain the northern parts of Afghanistan. Pakistan will support the taliban in achieving their goals, but these fighters need to stay employed, and will be directed towards India. The question is will the taliban devour the NWFP pashtoon region of Pak too. I do not think that terrorism in Pak can be controlled, unless they agree to become a hardline islamic state. Pak may even have to initiate a war with India, ostentabily over the allocation of Indus river waters. India gives a lot of water to pak at the moment (beyond what the treaty requires), the International courts recently agreed that pak should get only about 9 mcusec (some unit of water), whereas they had gone to court asking a 100!.
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« Reply #1406 on: February 06, 2014, 02:09:48 PM »

How to Understand the Not-So-Crazy Karzai
His mistrust of the White House runs deep, and he wants to keep whatever leverage he can.
WSJ
By Haroun Mir
Feb. 5, 2014 6:46 p.m. ET

Many Afghanistan observers are struggling to understand why President Hamid Karzai is refusing to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement between Afghanistan and the United States, which would ensure an American military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 to combat terrorism and train Afghan forces. The security agreement should be a closed case: Last year the agreement was finalized by both countries, and the Loya Jirga assembly overwhelmingly approved it. Yet Mr. Karzai, to the dismay of Washington, wants to renegotiate its terms. Why?

Some wrongly believe that Mr. Karzai is seeking personal advantage, such as political immunity for himself and his family. Others think that by making controversial statements critical of NATO forces and the Obama administration, he is trying to appease the Taliban, and thus guarantee himself an important political role in post-2014 Afghanistan. There are even some who naively accuse him of being a stooge of neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Iran.

None of these explanations would make sense to the majority of Afghans, who consider President Karzai a devoted nationalist, deeply concerned about the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan. While he has been harshly criticized for his failure in managing the country, which is crippled by widespread corruption and bad governance, he enjoys relative respect among ordinary people. In large part, that's because he is willing to stand up to the U.S.—which gets to the real reasons he isn't signing the BSA.


Mr. Karzai has had a strained relationship with Washington ever since Mr. Obama was elected in 2008. His first disagreement began over the White House's flawed counterinsurgency strategy, which avoided going after terrorist havens in Pakistan. Mr. Karzai repeatedly insisted that the war on terror should not be fought in Afghan homes, but in North Waziristan, Quetta and Peshawar, where al Qaeda and Taliban leaders have been hiding.

But the U.S. refused to reconsider its policy, which pushed Mr. Karzai to question America's true intentions, even suggesting that America is secretly orchestrating insurgent attacks with the ultimate aim of weakening his position. Intelligence provided by his friends in the region, like former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and former Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, no doubt strengthened this belief.

Mr. Karzai's mistrust of the Obama administration deepened further after the 2009 Afghan presidential election, when he accused the U.S. of attempting to undermine his legitimacy by discounting his initial win and pushing for a runoff. That accusation was backed up in Robert Gates's recent memoirs, in which the former defense secretary writes that the late Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, tried to manipulate the election.

Adding to Mr. Karzai's frustration was his failed peace initiative, which he launched in 2010. He genuinely believed that it would bear fruit, especially because he received the endorsement of countries in the region and major NATO powers. But the plan never picked up momentum despite Mr. Karzai's unilateral concessions, such as removing the Taliban from the United Nations sanctions list and releasing hundreds of their members from Afghan prisons.

Adding insult to injury, the Taliban have refused to negotiate with Mr. Karzai, even as they have negotiated directly with the U.S. These secret meetings between the Taliban and officials from the U.S. and other Western countries, beginning in 2010, led to the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar in 2012. This infuriated Mr. Karzai and reinforced his theory about a secret American agenda.

Mr. Karzai knows that the Taliban are strongly opposed to joining the current political process by accepting positions in the government because they question its legitimacy. However, there are rumors that during their secret meetings with U.S. officials, the Taliban showed interest in administering the territories in the southern part of the country under their control. Even they might honor the BSA and accept the presence of U.S. military forces in exchange for administrative autonomy.

Either because of his fear of a conspiracy, or on the basis of intelligence available only to him, President Karzai is opposed to a U.S.-Taliban deal that would make him politically irrelevant. In addition, he is worried that such a deal—though the U.S. adamantly denies its existence—would guarantee the loss of his political base in the south, and even his own village, which might be administered by the Taliban. Ultimately, Mr. Karzai is worried that he might be remembered as the leader who contributed to a de facto partition of his country.

At this point, President Karzai's resistance to signing the BSA is his only leverage over the U.S. As a rational person who has less than three months left in power, this move makes good sense: He desperately wants to save his legacy and his future political relevance.

Mr. Mir is a political analyst based in Kabul.
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ya
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« Reply #1407 on: February 11, 2014, 08:31:43 PM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/04/world/asia/karzai-has-held-secret-contacts-with-the-taliban.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140204&_r=0

Karzai Arranged Secret Contacts With the Taliban
By AZAM AHMED and MATTHEW ROSENBERGFEB. 3, 2014

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has refused to sign a deal he brokered for security after Western troops leave. Mauricio Lima for The New York Times
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has been engaged in secret contacts with the Taliban about reaching a peace agreement without the involvement of his American and Western allies, further corroding already strained relations with the United States.

The secret contacts appear to help explain a string of actions by Mr. Karzai that seem intended to antagonize his American backers, Western and Afghan officials said. In recent weeks, Mr. Karzai has continued to refuse to sign a long-term security agreement with Washington that he negotiated, insisted on releasing hardened Taliban militants from prison and distributed distorted evidence of what he called American war crimes.

The clandestine contacts with the Taliban have borne little fruit, according to people who have been told about them. But they have helped undermine the remaining confidence between the United States and Mr. Karzai, making the already messy endgame of the Afghan conflict even more volatile. Support for the war effort in Congress has deteriorated sharply, and American officials say they are uncertain whether they can maintain even minimal security cooperation with Mr. Karzai’s government or its successor after coming elections.

Frustrated by Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign the security agreement, which would clear the way for American troops to stay on for training and counterterrorism work after the end of the year, President Obama has summoned his top commanders to the White House on Tuesday to consider the future of the American mission in Afghanistan.

Western and Afghan officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the private nature of the peace contacts, said that the outreach was apparently initiated by the Taliban in November, a time of deepening mistrust between Mr. Karzai and his allies. Mr. Karzai seemed to jump at what he believed was a chance to achieve what the Americans were unwilling or unable to do, and reach a deal to end the conflict — a belief that few in his camp shared.

The peace contacts, though, have yielded no tangible agreement, nor even progressed as far as opening negotiations for one. And it is not clear whether the Taliban ever intended to seriously pursue negotiations, or were simply trying to derail the security agreement by distracting Mr. Karzai and leading him on, as many of the officials said they suspected.

As recently as October, a long-term agreement between the United States and Afghanistan seemed to be only a few formalities away from completion, after a special visit by Secretary of State John Kerry. The terms were settled, and a loya jirga, or assembly of prominent Afghans, that the president summoned to ratify the deal gave its approval. The continued presence of American troops after 2014, not to mention billions of dollars in aid, depended on the president’s signature. But Mr. Karzai repeatedly balked, perplexing Americans and many Afghans alike.

Peace Contacts Fade

The first peace feeler from the Taliban reached Mr. Karzai shortly before the loya jirga, Afghan officials said, and since then the insurgents and the government have exchanged a flurry of messages and contacts.

Aimal Faizi, the spokesman for Mr. Karzai, acknowledged the secret contacts with the Taliban and said they were continuing.

“The last two months have been very positive,” Mr. Faizi said. He characterized the contacts as among the most serious the presidential palace has had since the war began. “These parties were encouraged by the president’s stance on the bilateral security agreement and his speeches afterwards,” he said.

But other Afghan and Western officials said that the contacts had fizzled, and that whatever the Taliban may have intended at the outset, they no longer had any intention of negotiating with the Afghan government. They said that top Afghan officials had met with influential Taliban leaders in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in recent weeks, and were told that any prospects of a peace deal were now gone.

The Afghan and Western officials questioned whether the interlocutors whom Mr. Karzai was in contact with had connections to the Taliban movement’s leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, whose blessing would be needed for any peace deal the group were to strike.

Though there have been informal contacts between Afghan officials and Taliban leaders since the very early days of the war, the insurgents’ opaque and secretive leaders have made their intentions difficult to discern. Afghan officials have struggled in recent years to find genuine Taliban representatives, and have flitted among a variety of current and former insurgent leaders, most of whom had only tenuous connections to Mullah Omar and his inner circle, American and Afghan officials have said.

Western Outreach

The only known genuine negotiating channel to those leaders was developed by American and German diplomats, who spent roughly two years trying to open peace talks in Qatar. The diplomats repeatedly found themselves incurring the wrath of Mr. Karzai, who saw the effort as an attempt to circumvent him; he tried behind the scenes to undercut it.

Then, when an American diplomatic push led to the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar, Mr. Karzai lashed out publicly at the United States. Afghan officials said that to them, the office looked far too much like the embassy of a government-in-exile, with its own flag and a nameplate reading “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Within days, the Qatar initiative stalled, and Mr. Karzai was fuming at what he saw as a plot by the United States to cut its own deal with Pakistan and the Taliban without him.

In the wake of the failure in Qatar, Afghan officials redoubled their efforts to open their own channel to Mullah Omar, and by late autumn, Mr. Karzai apparently believed those efforts were succeeding. Some senior Afghan officials say they did not share his confidence, and their doubts were shared by American officials in Kabul and Washington.

Both Mr. Karzai and American officials hear the clock ticking. American forces are turning over their combat role to Afghan forces and preparing to leave Afghanistan this year, and the campaigning for the Afghan national election in April has begun. An orderly transition of power in an Afghanistan that can contain the insurgency on its own would be the culmination of everything that the United States has tried to achieve in the country.

“We’ve been through numerous cycles of ups and downs in our relations with President Karzai over the years,” Ambassador James B. Cunningham said during a briefing with reporters last week. “What makes it a little different this time is that he is coming to the end of his presidency, and we have some very important milestones for the international community and for Afghanistan coming up in the next couple of months.”

Mr. Karzai has been increasingly concerned with his legacy, officials say. When discussing the impasse with the Americans, he has repeatedly alluded to his country’s troubled history as a lesson in dealing with foreign powers. He recently likened the security agreement to the Treaty of Gandamak, a one-sided 1879 agreement that ceded frontier lands to the British administration in India and gave it tacit control over Afghan foreign policy. He has publicly assailed American policies as the behavior of a “colonial power,” though diplomats and military officials say he has been more cordial in private.

Mr. Karzai reacted angrily to a negative portrayal of him in a recent memoir by the former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, and he is still bitter over the 2009 presidential election, when hundreds of thousands of fraudulent ballots were disqualified and, as he sees it, the Americans forced him into an unnecessary runoff against his closest opponent.

Domestic Interests

In some respects, Mr. Karzai’s outbursts have been an effort to speak to Afghans who want him to take a hard line against the Americans, including many ethnic Pashtuns, who make up nearly all of the Taliban. With the American-led coalition on its way out and American influence waning, Mr. Karzai is more concerned with bridging the chasms of Afghan domestic politics than with his foreign allies’ interests.

If the peace overture to the Taliban is indeed at an end, as officials believe, it is unclear what Mr. Karzai will do next. He could return to a softer stance on the security agreement and less hostility toward the United States, or he could justify his refusal to sign the agreement by blaming the Americans for failing to secure a genuine negotiation with the insurgents.

Mr. Karzai has insisted that he will not sign the agreement unless the Americans help bring the Taliban to the table for peace talks. Some diplomats worry that making such a demand allows the Taliban to dictate the terms of America’s long-term presence in Afghanistan. Others question Mr. Karzai’s logic: Why would the insurgency agree to talks if doing so would ensure the presence of the foreign troops it is determined to expel?

The White House expressed impatience on Monday with Mr. Karzai’s refusal to sign the agreement. “The longer there is a delay, the harder it is for NATO and U.S. military forces to plan for a post-2014 presence,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary. “This is a matter of weeks, not months.”


The military leaders expected to attend the planning conference at the White House on Tuesday include Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the commander of American forces in Afghanistan; Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, the former Iraq commander now serving as head of the United States Central Command; and Adm. William H. McRaven, head of the United States Special Operations Command.

In recent statements, Mr. Karzai’s office in Kabul has appeared to open the door to a resolution of the impasse over the security agreement. The presidential spokesman, Mr. Faizi, has said that if one party is obstructing the American efforts to get talks going, the United States need only say so publicly.

“Once there is clarity, we can take the next step to signing” the agreement, he said.

Peter Baker contributed reporting from Washington.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1408 on: February 24, 2014, 04:52:23 AM »

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/24/world/asia/taliban-attack-afghan-army-base-killing-soldiers-in-their-sleep.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20140224
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« Reply #1409 on: March 11, 2014, 11:25:38 AM »



RAWALPINDI, Pakistan—Each day, Cpl. Hamid Raza helps strap Cpl. Mohammed Yakub to a physiotherapy bench, lifts it and wipes the sweat off his bewildered comrade's forehead. Eyes darting, Cpl. Yakub often screams and grunts through the procedure, flailing his hands.

"Traumatic head injury," Cpl. Raza says softly. "He realizes it's me, and he tries to speak, but he can't. He can't eat, he can't talk, he can't remember the words."

Both men are fortunate to be alive. A year ago, a Taliban roadside bomb hit a truck ferrying Pakistani soldiers from Cpl. Raza's 18th Punjab Battalion after a troop rotation in the North Waziristan tribal region on the Afghan frontier. Seventeen men were killed, and only a handful survived. It was their first home leave.

The Pakistani army has lost roughly twice as many soldiers in the conflict with Taliban fighters as the U.S. It is a toll that keeps rising as American forces prepare to withdraw from next-door Afghanistan by December amid an intensifying war on both sides of the border.

In Washington and Kabul, officials often accuse Pakistan of being a duplicitous and insincere ally, charges fueled by alleged covert aid to the Afghan Taliban from some elements of the Pakistani security establishment. In 2011, the then-chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, described the Haqqani network, a group of insurgents operating from bases in North Waziristan who are affiliated with the Afghan Taliban, as a "veritable arm" of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency. Pakistan's government denied the accusation.

Murky as this war is, one fact is clear: The price ordinary Pakistani soldiers pay in the struggle against Taliban fighters is real and high. Since Pakistan's army began moving into the tribal areas along the Afghan border to confront the Pakistani Taliban in 2004, more than 4,000 Pakistani soldiers have been killed and more than 13,000 injured, according to military statistics.

By comparison, the U.S. has lost 2,315 service members, just over 1,800 of them killed in combat, in Afghanistan since the 2001 invasion.


Many Pakistanis complain that their efforts aren't sufficiently appreciated by the U.S. " 'Pakistan is not sincere, Pakistan is not doing enough'—these are buzzwords that I hate so much. They don't see the sacrifices that are being made," says retired Maj. Gen. Mahmud Ali Durrani, Pakistan's former national-security adviser and ambassador to Washington. "It's a heavy toll. We have not lost so many military people in any other war before this."

Just last month, the Taliban executed 23 Pakistani troops they had captured, prompting the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to suspend tentative peace talks with the militants. That bloodshed followed several deadly attacks in January, including a bombing of a convoy heading to North Waziristan that killed 26 and a blast that killed eight soldiers here in Rawalpindi, just a few hundred yards from the army's headquarters.

Though the Pakistani Taliban, known formally as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, recognize the spiritual authority of Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, they operate separately. The ISI, an arm of Pakistan's military, provides considerable support to the Afghan Taliban, according to U.S. and Afghan officials. The Pakistani Taliban, by contrast, consider the Pakistani state as their main enemy and attack military and ISI targets.

Much more closely aligned with al Qaeda, the Pakistani Taliban have also attempted attacks on U.S. soil, such as a 2010 failed car bombing on New York City's Times Square.

Both the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network are based in North Waziristan, the only one of Pakistan's seven tribal regions on the Afghan border that has yet to be cleared by the military. The U.S., which provides billions of dollars to fund the Pakistani military, has repeatedly pressured Pakistan to launch an operation against both groups in the area.

The Pakistani Taliban's recent spate of deadly attacks on army targets is making a military operation to retake North Waziristan increasingly likely once the snows in the mountainous region melt in the spring, diplomats and analysts say. If it happens, the Pakistani army would face a formidable enemy there.

Lt. Aqib Nawaz, 23, had his shoulder and back peppered by shrapnel from a Taliban mortar that targeted his outpost in the tribal areas. "They were very persistent, and tactically, they were very sound," he says, with grudging respect.

Though the Pakistani army is present in bases in North Waziristan—some just a few hundred yards from Taliban compounds—soldiers rarely leave the bases except for resupply convoys. Officials say they currently don't have enough manpower in the region to mount offensive missions.

The convoys, such as the one Cpl. Yakub and Cpl. Raza rode in last year, are regularly ambushed or hit with improvised explosive devices and land mines.

"Every day, without fail, the Taliban would attack—with snipers, with rocket launchers. There is no guarantee that you go to these areas and come back alive," Cpl. Raza says.

The luckier victims of such attacks arrive in the halls of the Armed Forces Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine in Rawalpindi. The Wall Street Journal was provided rare access to the modern hospital, its rooms packed with amputees, some missing as many as three limbs.

In addition to their physical wounds, Pakistan's injured soldiers, like U.S. Vietnam veterans in an earlier era, must deal with a society that doesn't always appreciate their service. The conflict with the Taliban pits soldiers against fellow Muslims and fellow Pakistanis, and against a sizable segment of the public that views the war in the tribal areas as imposed by the U.S. and counter to Islamic values.

"The soldiers are very obedient, very patriotic, but at some level, they are conflicted as to why they are killing Muslims, why they are killing their own people," says Rizwan Taj, a psychiatrist who often treats patients from tribal areas that teem with Taliban. Pakistan's army is focused mainly on India, Dr. Taj says, and its soldiers "are not psychologically, mentally trained for internal disturbances."

In November, Munawar Hassan, the leader of a major Islamist political party that sits in the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, said that Pakistani soldiers killed in battle against the Taliban couldn't be considered martyrs because they fought on America's behalf. He described as a martyr instead Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed that month in a U.S. drone strike. The Pakistani military denounced Mr. Hassan, demanding an apology but getting none.

"I was very hurt by his statement," says Pvt. Mohammed Ali, a patient in the Rawalpindi military hospital. "What we are doing is protecting our country, putting our lives on the line for our mothers and sisters."

A soldier with Pakistan's Northern Light Infantry, Pvt. Ali, 28, lost his right leg during a clearing operation in the Kurram tribal area in 2012. He has had three surgeries since then.

"The Taliban would fire rocket-propelled grenades and attack at night, never showing themselves," he says. Following one of the patrols, which involved a gunfight, Pvt. Ali was returning to his base. He stepped on a freshly planted Taliban mine.

"I didn't lose consciousness after the blast, and the other soldiers carried me down on a stretcher," he recalls.

A fellow amputee, Pvt. Ali Rehman, 21, had just arrived in the Kurram area when his unit was sent to retrieve the body of a soldier killed by the Taliban higher up in the mountains. "We were going through the valley in an open-backed vehicle, and that's when we struck an IED," he recalls. The explosion sheared off his right leg.

Amputees are usually able to serve in a desk job in the military once fitted with prosthetic limbs. The military hospital in Rawalpindi provides some of the most sophisticated such devices, says Maj. Zaheer Gill, its specialist of rehabilitative medicine.

If an army offensive in North Waziristan kicks off this spring, the hospital is likely to deal with a fresh wave of patients. Despite their numbers, the men treated here are just a fraction of the toll. "The most seriously injured rarely survive," Maj. Gill adds, "and never even reach over here."
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« Reply #1410 on: March 14, 2014, 01:41:28 PM »

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/03/13/the-real-reason-why-the-obama-administration-has-not-released-pictures-of-osama-bin-ladens-corpse/
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« Reply #1411 on: March 24, 2014, 07:06:25 PM »

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/24/afghanistan-jim-gant-american-spartan_n_5008520.html
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« Reply #1412 on: April 09, 2014, 02:02:11 PM »

Democracy Dividends from the Afghanistan Investment
American sacrifices of 13 years paid off in a successful election. By late summer we may know how well.
By David H. Petraeus and Michael E. O'Hanlon
April 8, 2014 6:35 p.m. ET
WSJ


With an enthusiastic election turnout on Saturday, the Afghan people took a major step toward electing a new president—a crucial step for a young democracy seeking to demonstrate that it can peacefully pass power from one leader to another. This will be a first for Afghanistan, a country where most transitions have been violent. But we need to be patient and realistic as we watch and support this process as it plays out over the spring and summer.


To be sure, the show of democracy in action on Saturday was impressive. When one of us commanded coalition forces during the last major elections there, the parliamentary vote of 2010, security efforts were led by the International Security Assistance Force. Afghans had somewhat more than 200,000 uniformed personnel of varying degrees of preparation, and the Taliban carried out some 500 acts of violence. About five million Afghans voted; more than a million of those votes were ultimately disqualified. Similar figures characterized the 2009 presidential vote, when Hamid Karzai won his second term.

This time, foreign troops, only one-third the number deployed in 2010, played a decidedly secondary role. Afghan forces, now 350,000 strong, provided security, and violent incidents declined to 150—still too many, but a big improvement. More than seven million Afghans appear to have voted, after a vigorous campaign that included debates and large rallies across the country, and extensive media coverage.

But as well as the election went, this was just the start. Here are the steps that lie ahead:

1) Vote counts must be officially certified. This is the stage where fraud is uncovered, and remedial steps taken, by independent election authorities within Afghanistan. The formal and final results should come in a few weeks.

2) Assuming that no candidate gets more than 50% of the initial vote, the top two finishers will contest a runoff election. The third-place finisher will have to accept that, despite his high hopes, he will not lead the country into the future, and ask his followers to calmly accept the result.

3) Runoff ballots will have to be printed and distributed, mostly by Afghans, and a second vote held, probably in June. Security could be an even bigger challenge then, as the weather will be warm and the fighting season will be well under way.

4) After the runoff election, vote-counting and certification will take place all over again. With former finance minister Ashraf Ghani and former foreign minister (and 2009 presidential runner-up) Abdullah Abdullah leading in polls before and on election day, the stage could be set for a close race, so the stakes will be higher and the work of independent bodies even more important.

5) Again, the losing candidate will face a crucial test of his character in accepting the result of the runoff. If the vote is tainted by massive cheating, we cannot fairly counsel the loser to passively accept the result, but the more likely scenario is some degree of irregular activity occurring on both sides. In other words, the result—likely to come in late July or August—may be somewhat uncertain, but as good as can realistically be hoped.

6) Since the vote itself will be imperfect, and since Afghanistan remains a divided and tense nation, the winner will have to gain legitimacy in part from how he reaches out to the loser and to President Karzai and how he builds a new governing coalition. The formation of the cabinet will be crucial. It must be as multiethnic and inclusive—and willing to act inclusively—as the cabinets Mr. Karzai built. The new administration must also be poised to improve Afghanistan's governance and make at least modest quick strides against corruption, a plague within this young nation.

Inauguration day is likely to be in late summer. That would give the new president time to sign the Bilateral Security Accord with the U.S., as all candidates have said they would, and then to sign similar documents with other foreign governments. These agreements will allow a crucial international military presence of advisers and so-called enablers to continue past Dec. 31, albeit at much lower numbers of troops than at present.

All of this can work, and there is good reason to be hopeful. Ashraf Ghani is a brilliant economist well poised to lead a campaign against corruption, and Abdullah Abdullah has been promoting political reform including direct election of governors (now appointed by the president) and a stronger parliament. But none of the remaining process will be easy or unblemished, and it definitely won't be fast.

That's all right. We can wait. Coalition forces have demonstrated patience and resoluteness for 13 years. This has been a tough, frustrating war for the U.S., but our men and women in uniform and their coalition and Afghan partners have served valiantly and with impressive staying power. We may not be headed for a classic victory, but with continued commitment the prospects for an acceptable outcome in Afghanistan look fairly good.

Gen. Petraeus, commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2011, is a professor at CUNY's Macaulay Honors College and the University of Southern California. Mr. O'Hanlon, a scholar at the Brookings Institution, is the author of "Healing the Wounded Giant: Maintaining Military Preeminence While Cutting the Defense Budget" (Brookings Institution Press, 2013).
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« Reply #1413 on: April 10, 2014, 07:53:02 PM »

WSJ

By Sadanand Dhume
April 10, 2014 6:59 p.m. ET

In the 13 years since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, $1 trillion has been spent, and 3,400 foreign soldiers (more than 2,300 of them American) have died. Despite our tremendous loss of blood and treasure, Afghanistan remains—even as we prepare to exit the country—"a weak state, prey to the ambitions of its neighbors and extremist Islamists," as Carlotta Gall notes in "The Wrong Enemy."

Could we have avoided this outcome? Perhaps so, Ms. Gall argues, if Washington had set its sights slightly southward.

The neighbor that concerns Ms. Gall—the "right" enemy implied by the book's title—is Pakistan. If you were to boil down her argument into a single sentence, it would be this one: "Pakistan, supposedly an ally, has proved to be perfidious, driving the violence in Afghanistan for its own cynical, hegemonic reasons." Though formally designated as a major non-NATO U.S. ally, and despite receiving more than $23 billion in American assistance since 9/11, Pakistan only pretended to cut links with the Taliban that it had nurtured in the 1990s. In reality, Pakistan's ubiquitous spy service, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), foments
jihad against NATO in Afghanistan much as it did against the Soviets in the 1980s.

At this point, accusations of Pakistani perfidy won't raise the eyebrows of anyone with even a passing familiarity with the region. For years, a chorus of diplomats, analysts and journalists have concluded that the Taliban and its partners in jihad would be incapable of maintaining an insurgency without active support from across the border. In 2011, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, called the Haqqani network—the group responsible for some of the worst violence in Afghanistan, including an attack on the U.S. embassy in Kabul that year—"a veritable arm" of the ISI.

The Wrong Enemy
By Carlotta Gall
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 352 pages, $28)

Ms. Gall's long years of reporting for the New York Times NYT -1.98% from the front lines of the war are clear in this book, particularly in her vivid reconstruction of how things went rapidly downhill after the easy U.S.-led victories over the Taliban at the end of 2001. The West's handpicked leader, Hamid Karzai, turned out to be a lot better at politicking than at running the country. As aid dollars poured in, corruption in the Afghan government soared. The Bush administration, distracted by preparations for the war in Iraq, took its eye off the ball in Afghanistan, argues Ms. Gall. Most important, reassured by Pakistani assistance in nabbing key al Qaeda figures, the U.S. was slow to realize that Islamabad was playing both sides of the street.

Only in 2007, more than five years after the war began, did the CIA begin to pay attention to the deep ties between the ISI and the Taliban. By then, the fundamentalist group, which had all but disappeared in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion, had made an impressive comeback in its original stronghold of southern Afghanistan, reclaiming freedom of movement and seemingly able to strike targets at will. Even today, despite some gains against the Taliban following President Obama's decision to send additional troops in 2009, the group remains a powerful force. Just last month, Taliban fighters attacked Kabul's Serena Hotel, killing nine people, including an AFP photographer and a former Paraguayan diplomat. As Ms. Gall notes, the Taliban's refuge across the border in Pakistan, where it recruits from militant madrassas and where fighters recuperate between battles, makes the group awfully hard to vanquish.

And what of Pakistan's relationship to al Qaeda and its founder? The book offers significant revelations about the ISI's alleged role in hiding Osama bin Laden for nearly a decade until Navy SEALs finally caught up with him in 2011. Ms. Gall points out the absurdity of the official Pakistani claim that nobody in the government was aware that the world's most wanted man was living in a high-walled compound a stone's throw from Pakistan's equivalent of West Point. "In a Pakistani village, they notice even a stray dog," a former intelligence chief tells Ms. Gall.

Based on interviews with anonymous high-ranking Pakistani officials, the book pieces together how the ISI protected bin Laden. The spy agency apparently assigned a special desk to the al Qaeda chief. To ensure plausible deniability for higher-ups, the officer in charge made his own decisions. Ms. Gall reckons that those who knew about this arrangement included, among others, Gen. Shuja Pasha, then chief of the ISI, and his boss, then Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. Ms. Gall also says that, after the raid on bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Washington learned of Mr. Pasha's role in protecting bin Laden but hushed it up in order not to hurt ties with the nuclear-armed Muslim nation.

But while the author does a fine job of reporting, she doesn't seriously grapple with U.S. policy options. What alternatives did the U.S. have? Should it have cut off aid? Or extended drone strikes to the ISI's jihadist madrassas that act as recruiting agents for the Taliban? Or should it simply have accepted Pakistan's desire to wield a veto over Afghanistan's foreign policy as a fact of life in the region?

To her credit, Ms. Gall gets the most important thing right. She underscores the danger of the U.S. turning its back on Afghanistan, which, while still fragile, shows more signs of modernity than ever before. The repercussions of the U.S. drawdown "are already inspiring Islamists, who are comparing it to the withdrawal of the Soviet Union" after its defeat at the hands of the mujahedeen. Unlike the Obama administration, Ms. Gall recognizes that radical Islam can't be ignored or wished away.

Mr. Dhume is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a columnist for WSJ.com. Follow him on Twitter TWTR -2.71% @dhume.
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« Reply #1414 on: April 19, 2014, 02:20:17 PM »



http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304810904579511623875694900?mod=World_newsreel_1
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« Reply #1415 on: April 20, 2014, 12:35:58 AM »

Several months old, but worth noting:

fghanistan: A Battleground for Iranian and Saudi Interests
Geopolitical Diary
Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 19:34 Text Size Print

Many observers have overlooked some of the ancillary regional consequences of the U.S.-Iran deal. As the United States and Iran reached the agreement, Washington encountered trouble with Iran's eastern neighbor, Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai would not sign the bilateral security agreement that would authorize a residual American force in Afghanistan after 2014. The standoff will be short-lived, but in light of the U.S.-Iran deal, battles will continue to take place in Afghanistan between two historic rivals: Saudi Arabia and Iran, which is now poised to play an unprecedented role in the region.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice left Kabul on Tuesday after warning Karzai that if he did not sign the bilateral security agreement Washington would have to withdraw all of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. That probably will not come to pass; Karzai is simply posturing to get additional concessions from Washington, many of which involve Karzai trying to remain relevant once a successor takes office after presidential elections in April 2014. Considering that Afghanistan needs U.S. support to deal with the Taliban insurgency after NATO completes its drawdown next year, Karzai will sign the agreement sooner or later.

The bilateral security agreement aside, Afghanistan may have just become a key battleground between Saudi Arabia and its regional rival, Iran. This geopolitical struggle has played out along the northern rim of the Middle East and across Iran's western flank, but the U.S-Iran deal may have aggravated the situation. Saudi Arabia became wary of Iran's ascendance when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, and now Riyadh fears that Tehran will become even more powerful -- not as an unpredictable actor pursuing a radical foreign policy agenda, but as a rehabilitated member of the international community.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman explains.

No longer a pariah of the international community, Iran will be able to project power with greater ease than before, especially on its eastern frontier, where Afghanistan represents a potential security threat, because of long-standing Saudi influence. In fact, the Iranians believe that the recent surge of attacks by ethnic Sunni Islamist militants in southwestern Sistan and Baluchestan province, which borders Afghanistan and Pakistan, is the work of Saudi proxies that were reactivated after the U.S.-Iranian rapprochement.

But Afghanistan could also provide an opportunity for Iran. Given its historic ethnic, linguistic and sectarian ties, Iran has a great deal of influence in the country. In recent years, Tehran has enhanced its influence in Afghanistan through the Persian-speaking minority communities, by supporting the Karzai regime and by developing ties to elements within the Taliban. As Washington moves toward a drawdown from Afghanistan and improves ties with Tehran, the Americans and Iranians are likely to coordinate on containing Sunni Islamist militancy in the southwest Asian nation.

Washington had hoped that Pakistan would help manage Afghanistan after 2014. However, Pakistan has been severely weakened by the war and is now struggling with its own domestic jihadist insurgency. Simply put, it has lost a lot of its leverage in Afghanistan.

However, the Pakistanis are unlikely to sit back and allow the Iranians to fill the void. The Saudis, who have an especially close relationship with the current government in Islamabad, will come in and exploit Pakistani vulnerabilities to further their own strategic imperative: countering a rising Iran. For its part, Pakistan, having been disaffected by a long history of supporting Islamist militants and having become a major battleground for anti-Shia violence, would want to avoid a firm alignment with Saudi Arabia.

But there is reason to believe Islamabad would cooperate somewhat. Economically, Pakistan is in dire straits, and its relationship with Saudi Arabia, a fellow Sunni state, keeps it within Riyadh's sphere of influence. Already, the Saudis are working closely with the Pakistanis to support Sunni rebels in Syria, especially after the United States backed away from the idea of regime change in Damascus. And because Saudi-Pakistani cooperation against Iran would very likely take place in Afghanistan, Sunni Islamist militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan could increase dramatically.

Such an outcome is unlikely to help Saudi Arabia undermine Iran. In fact, Washington and Tehran could become even closer if this threat ever materializes. The ensuing proxy war would lead to a greater rise in Islamist extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Read more: Afghanistan: A Battleground for Iranian and Saudi Interests | Stratfor
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« Reply #1416 on: April 29, 2014, 05:53:46 AM »

I've no opinion on this-- maybe YA will comment.

How to Safeguard Afghan Progress
A follow-on force of no fewer than 10,000 U.S. troops is essential.
by Max Boot
April 28, 2014 7:12 p.m. ET

The U.S. could use a win abroad—something it arguably hasn't had since Osama bin Laden's demise in 2011. Hopes for a peace accord between the Israelis and Palestinians have been dashed, the civil war continues to rage in Syria, chaos engulfs Libya, Russia has invaded Ukraine and China's aggressive behavior in the South China Sea has leaders in Japan and the Philippines drawing analogies to the 1930s.

Amid these storm clouds, Afghanistan is a rare ray of sunshine, and an opportunity.

While the country remains desperately poor and its government much too weak and corrupt, Afghanistan has made striking progress since 2001. U.S. military figures track some of the changes: the miles of road have increased to 26,190 from 11,184; cellphone subscribers are up to 17.5 million from 25,000; the number of schools has increased to 14,034 from 1,000 and there are now 7.9 million primary and secondary students, up from 700,000; and the number of health-care facilities is up to 2,136, serving 85% of the population, from 498 facilities serving 8%.


The April 5 presidential election ratified Afghanistan's progress. More than seven million voters turned out, over 30% of them women, and the two leading vote-getters— Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani —are both pro-Western technocrats whose appeal transcended ethnic boundaries. The election campaign, which featured 400 major rallies, was largely free of violence despite Taliban attempts to disrupt the balloting. The Afghan National Security Forces, 370,000 strong, provided secure voting with virtually no coalition help on the ground. Afghanistan is likely to soon see the first peaceful transfer of power in its history.

Ironically, however, the success of the election could spur the White House to slash the number of troops assigned here next year on the erroneous assumption that Afghanistan doesn't need much more help. This risks jeopardizing all of the progress made so far and raises the prospect that Afghanistan could go the way of Iraq. That country was relatively stable when U.S. troops left in 2011. Now violence is back to 2008 levels, and the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (as al Qaeda in Iraq is now called) flies over Fallujah.

President Obama risks a similar outcome in Afghanistan if, as recent press leaks suggest, he decides to maintain 5,000 or fewer U.S. troops in Afghanistan next year, instead of the 10,000 requested by the NATO commander, U.S. Marine Gen. Joe Dunford.

That 10,000 figure is itself a bare-bones estimate of what is required—20,000 to 30,000 troops would be a more realistic figure. But U.S. commanders knew there was no chance Mr. Obama would approve such a robust deployment, even though it would greatly enhance the chances of long-term success.

The generals also unwisely attached a timeline to make it more palatable to the White House, promising that all U.S. troops would be out of Afghanistan no later than 2018. This risks repeating the same error as the troop surge of 2010, whose impact was limited by an 18-month timeline which made it impossible to pacify much of the eastern part of the country and which encouraged the Taliban to wait out the offensive. U.S. commanders, moreover, agreed that, in order to limit casualties, U.S. advisers after this year would no longer accompany Afghan troops on missions and the U.S. Air Force would no longer provide close-air-support and medical evacuation to Afghan troops.

But even a time-limited, mission-circumscribed follow-on force of 10,000 could make a critical difference, especially if the U.S. and its allies provide the full $5.1 billion a year in funding the Afghan National Security Forces need to maintain their present strength.

As I heard repeatedly during a visit to Afghanistan last week, Afghan troops are showing growing combat prowess, which allowed them to keep the Taliban from recapturing strongholds in the south last summer. But they still need lots of help with logistics, planning, budgeting, acquisition, high-tech intelligence tools and air power—all sophisticated areas where NATO soldiers remain the essential "enablers." Afghanistan won't have a fully functioning air force until 2017; for providing fire support to troops on the ground, all it has is five Russian-made Mi-35 Hind gunships.

Gen. Dunford's plan would allow Americans to continue working with the Afghans at the six Afghan Army Corps headquarters scattered around the country. But fewer than 10,000 troops would make it impossible for American advisers to maintain a presence at regional hubs such as Kandahar and Jalalabad near the front lines. Instead they would have to consolidate in Kabul where their ability to track and influence battlefield developments in this vast country would be limited. "A number below 10,000 makes the mission here untenable," one U.S. general bluntly told me.

It would be extremely foolish to risk allowing Afghanistan to return to its chaotic pre-9/11 state over a mere matter of 5,000 troops. (At the peak of the U.S. commitment there were 100,000 U.S. troops and even today 33,000 remain.) If Mr. Obama wants a foreign-policy victory in his second term, he will need to puncture this misbegotten trial balloon.

Mr. Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare From Ancient Times to the Present" (Liveright, 2014).
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« Reply #1417 on: May 12, 2014, 08:38:46 PM »

I would like to cite some work by Mr.Chellaney, from a Indian geopolitical perspective. I personally think the US will not be succesfull by keeping a small force in Afgh, some of the reasons are discussed below. Russia has started to make inroads into Afghanistan, ie things are moving full circle. The Russians are expanding their influence at the periphery (Crimea, Ukraine) and now Afghanistan. It is very difficult for the US to support a physical presence, when most supplies come thro Pak. The fact that Afgh. could have elections suggests that the Taliban did not interfere/could not interfere. One theory is that the Taliban have been bought off and are in negotiations with various political groups, a second is that Pak was bought off, to not interfere in the elections. Of course, its always possible that the Taliban are a spent force (which seems extremely unlikely)....YA


Why the U.S. must cut Afghanistan loose
BRAHMA CHELLANEY


Afghanistan’s presidential election, now apparently headed for a runoff stage, will mark the first peaceful transition of power in the history of that unfortunate country, ravaged by endless war since 1979. Displaying courage in the face of adversity, Afghans braved Taliban attacks and threats to vote in large numbers on April 5.

After almost 35 years of bloodletting, Afghans are desperate for peace. President Hamid Karzai’s successor will have his work cut out for him, including promoting national reconciliation by building bridges among the country’s disparate ethnic and political groups; strengthening the fledgling, multiethnic national army; and ensuring free and fair parliamentary elections next year.

The role of external players, however, overshadows these internal dynamics. Two external factors will significantly influence Afghanistan’s political and security transition: the likely post-2014 role of U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces; and interference by Pakistan, which still harbours militant sanctuaries and the command-and-control structure for Afghan insurgency.

Pakistani interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs can only be made to stop if U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration finally makes that a condition for continuing its generous aid to cash-strapped Pakistan – a remote prospect.

Mr. Obama, meanwhile, has made a U-turn on the U.S. and NATO military presence in Afghanistan and is now seeking bases there for a virtually unlimited period. He had declared in Cairo in 2009, “We do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan. We seek no military bases there.” But in a change of heart, he now wants bases there to house a fairly sizable U.S.-led NATO force armed with the authority to “conduct combat operations.”

The U.S. President is under political attack at home for having failed to persuade Mr. Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement, which is to provide the legal basis for keeping U.S. bases. The fact that the U.S. left no residual forces in Iraq when it ended its decade-long occupation of that country has made the appeal particularly strong to maintain bases in Afghanistan, where America is seeking to terminate the longest war in its history.

Although Kabul and Washington have finalized the terms of the bilateral agreement, Mr. Karzai withstood intense U.S. pressure to sign, leaving that critical decision to his successor. In truth, Mr. Karzai was afraid that if he did, he could go down in Afghan history as the second Shah Shuja. A puppet ruler installed by the British in 1839, Shah Shuja was deposed and assassinated three years later, but not before precipitating the First Anglo-Afghan War.

Mr. Obama now has little choice but to wait and try to persuade the next Afghan president to sign the accord. He has not, however, grasped the main reason why his country’s war has foundered – failure to reconcile military and political objectives. From the time it invaded in 2001, America pursued a military surge in Afghanistan, but an aid surge to the next-door country harbouring terrorist havens and the “Quetta Shura,” as the Afghan Taliban leadership there is known. The war was made unwinnable by Washington’s own refusal to target Pakistan for actively abetting elements killing or maiming U.S. troops.

Terrorism and insurgency have never been defeated in any country without choking transboundary sustenance and support. Afghans have borne the brunt from two fronts – U.S. military intervention and Pakistan’s use of surrogate militias.

Mr. Obama’s basing strategy could presage a shift from a full-fledged war to a low-intensity war, but without fixing the incongruous duality in American policy. Indeed, a smaller U.S. force in Afghanistan would only increase Washington’s imperative to mollycoddle Pakistani generals and cut a deal with the Quetta Shura in order to secure its bases.

Washington plans to gift Pakistan its surplus military hardware in Afghanistan, including several hundred mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles. It has also agreed to taper off drone strikes in Pakistan.

Even more revealing is what the drones have not targeted. To preserve the option of reaching a Faustian bargain with the Afghan Taliban, the U.S. has not carried out a single air, drone or ground attack against its leadership, which is ensconced in Pakistan’s sprawling Baluchistan province. U.S. drone strikes have been restricted to the Pakistani tribal region to the north, Waziristan, where they have targeted the Pakistani Taliban – the nemesis of the Pakistani military.

To make matters worse, the U.S. plans to start significantly cutting aid to Kabul beginning next year, which threatens to undermine Afghan security forces, a key part of keeping the Afghan Taliban at bay.

Last May, Mr. Obama recalled the warning of James Madison, America’s fourth president: that “no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Yet he now seeks a long-term military engagement in Afghanistan, which is good news for the Pakistani generals but not for U.S., Afghan or regional interests.

Admittedly, there are no good options. But an indefinite role for foreign forces would be the equivalent of administering the same medicine that has seriously worsened the patient’s condition.

It is past time for Afghanistan to be in charge of its own security and destiny. Outside assistance should be limited to strengthening the Kabul government’s hand.
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« Reply #1418 on: May 27, 2014, 10:52:10 AM »



http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/27/obama-wants-9800-troops-afghanistan-beyond-2014/
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« Reply #1419 on: May 27, 2014, 09:37:21 PM »

 Compared to 32000 presently. I think he is saying that it will be 9800 this year, with complete withdrawl by 2016.
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« Reply #1420 on: May 27, 2014, 11:13:06 PM »

YA:

You are a saavy observer of Afpakia.  What is your take on this?

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« Reply #1421 on: May 29, 2014, 06:11:46 AM »

Also, any comments on this?  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/29/world/asia/major-faction-splits-from-pakistani-taliban.html?emc=edit_th_20140529&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193
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« Reply #1422 on: May 30, 2014, 09:03:49 AM »

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/05/28/when_9800_doesn_t_equal_9800

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/may/29/obamas-afghanistan-pullout-may-end-domination-of-d/
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« Reply #1423 on: May 31, 2014, 07:30:19 AM »

I think the pak taliban split reflects the major power shifts and realignments that are happening in the region. Players are adjusting to what they perceive as the new power equation and realities.

1. Afghan elections: Abdullah Abdullah a Tajik with pashtun blood vs Ghani a pashtun. Karzai put up his candidate Rassoul, whose main function was to split the vote, with that out of the way, Karzai, I believe is supporting Abdullah. Or in other words, Ghani is Pak supported, whereas Abdullah is likely to be more friendly with India.
2. India is providing weapons to Afghans (karzai govt), combine this with India's newly elected nationalist strongman Modi, during whose swearing in ceremony pak supported taliban attacked the Indian embassy in Herat Afghanistan to create a hostage crisis (and failed), the situation does not look favorable for Pak. India recently selected Ajit Doval as NSA, someone who spent years in pak as an undercover agent. http://www.firstpost.com/politics/why-ex-ib-chief-ajit-doval-is-the-best-nsa-india-could-ever-get-1550847.html.
3. US withdrawl or decrease in forces will have major consequences in the region, how it will play out is hard to predict. The Indian strategy will be to deny pak strategic depth in Afghanistan, partly by providing weapons to Afghans.
4. After OBL's killing, the paki army was on the backfoot, but its now back in control. Together with the mullahs the army has weakened the political class. I think the mullahs and radicals are winning...ie pak continues to go down the tubes.
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« Reply #1424 on: June 01, 2014, 10:56:15 AM »

AS always, cogent observations YA-- much appreciated.  Amongst various points, your comments make me aware of how little India is on our radar screen with regard to Afpakia.


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Columnist Charles Krauthammer: "What is the world to think when Obama makes the case for a residual force in Afghanistan ... and then announce a drawdown of American forces to 10,000, followed by total liquidation within two years on a fixed timetable regardless of circumstances? The policy contradicts the premise. If you want not to forfeit our terribly hard-earned gains ... why not let conditions dictate the post-2014 drawdowns? Why go to zero -- precisely by 2016? For the same reason, perhaps, that the Afghan surge was ended precisely in 2012, in the middle of the fighting season -- but before the November election. A 2016 Afghan end date might help Democrats electorally and, occurring with Obama still in office, provide a shiny new line to his resume. Is this how a great nation decides matters of war and peace -- to help one party and polish the reputation of one man?"
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« Reply #1425 on: June 01, 2014, 09:37:58 PM »

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/negotiating-with-terrorists-inside-the-capture-and-release-of-sgt-bowe-bergdahl/

Negotiating With Terrorists: Inside the Capture and Release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl
Jun. 1, 2014 1:29pm
Brad Thor   


Brad Thor is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of "Black List," "Full Black," "Foreign Influence," "The Apostle," "The Last Patriot" (banned in Saudi Arabia), "The First Commandment," "Takedown," "Blowback," "State of the Union," "Path of the Assassin," "The Lions of Lucerne," and his New York Times bestselling spinoff series, The Athena Project. He has appeared on FOX News Channel, CNN, CNN Headline News, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS programs to discuss terrorism. He has served as a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Analytic Red Cell Unit and shadowed a Black Ops team in Afghanistan to research "The Apostle."



U.S. Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl has been released from captivity.  That’s the good news.  Every American and every freedom-loving person in the world should rejoice.  The reunion with his family will be a major media moment and a major moment for the president.   The bad news is that President Obama has now placed a target on the back of every single American – civilian and military alike.

For more than 200 years, the United States has had a policy of not trading prisoners for American hostages.  That policy has been shredded and international travel to even cities like London, Paris, and Amsterdam will now pose an exceptional danger for Americans.

And as Americans, we must all ask: at what price was Sgt. Bergdahl’s freedom purchased?

According to reports, Sgt. Bergdahl was under the influence when he walked off his base in Paktika Province, Afghanistan and into the arms of the Haqqani terrorism network.

It is important to note that the Haqqanis are not the same thing as the Afghan Taliban.  The two are different groups.  They each have their own distinct and separate leadership council, or “Shura” that they report to.  The Haqqanis are heavily tied to both Al Qaeda (providing them safe passage and support) and the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence agency, also known as the ISI.  The Haqqanis are a heavily criminal enterprise sowing and feeding off of the chaos in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region.  Envision Al Qaeda crossed with the Sopranos and you begin to get the picture of what these thugs are like.

When news of Sgt. Bergdahl’s release broke, I reached out to intelligence contacts who have operated in the Af/Pak region and are familiar with the situation.  I wanted to discuss what was being reported – and more importantly – what wasn’t.  The following is what they told me.

When Sgt. Bergdahl was picked up by the Haqqanis, he was described as diwana – the Pashtu word for intoxicated.  He was with two or three Afghan soldiers he had walked off his Forward Operating Base with.  It is believed the group was en route to indulge in further intoxicants.

Once the Haqqanis had stumbled onto Sgt. Bergdahl, they moved quickly to secure him and move him out of Afghanistan into Pakistan.

This information was passed on to U.S. Special Operations Command, who contacted the powers that be in Kabul, who in turn reached out to Sgt. Bergdahl’s Forward Operating Base.  According to my sources, the F.O.B. had not even noticed that Sgt. Bergdahl had failed to appear for muster that morning.

Until they could spirit Sgt. Bergdahl out of Afghanistan, the Haqqanis decided to hide him nearby among the nomads known locally as the ‘Koochi.’  And while the soldiers of Task Force 82 passed by, frantically searching for Sgt. Bergdahl, shouting “Bowe!  Bowe!” not a single Koochi tent flap was lifted or even investigated.  Had that been done, Bergdahl might have been discovered and rescued before the Haqqanis could sneak him into Pakistan.

The Haqqanis took Bergdahl into the Showal area of Northern Waziristan where he fell under the control of a man named Mullah Sangeen Zadran, the chief of operations for Siraj Haqqani – head of the Haqqani terror network.

Mullah Sangeen’s brother, Bilal oversaw the logistics of Sgt. Bergdahl’s day-to-day captivity.  Sgt. Bergdahl was kept lightly guarded – in order not to draw attention – and moved often.  To his credit, Bergdahl attempted more than one escape.

Contrary to press reports, the Afghan Taliban – aka the Quetta Shura – never had their hands on Sgt. Bergdahl.  He was always under the control of the Haqqani network.

As more intelligence was developed, it was put into the reporting stream and fed up the chain of command.  The Obama Administration seemed either unable or unwilling to put forth any attempt to rescue Sgt. Bergdahl – especially as it would mean violating Pakistani sovereignty, something similar to the bin Laden raid, which would require a presidential decision.

Some of those I spoke with suspected that the U.S. wanted to write Bergdahl off.  “If he had been a Tier One guy, from Delta or DEVGRU,” one contact told me, “they would have gone into Pakistani in a heartbeat to get him back.”

Accidentally, something similar may have happened.  In early August 2013, a U.S. military unit – operating on intercepted signal intelligence – stumbled across the confusing Durand Line and conducted a raid on the Pakistani side of the border.

They hit a house believed to have been holding Sgt. Bergdahl.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t there.  They did, though, take a man named Gehangir, into custody.  It was a smart move.  Intelligence would later reveal that the house was indeed a Haqqani safe house, Sgt. Bergdahl had been there (though recently moved) and Gehangir was a Haqqani operative who ran the safe house for the Haqqani network..

On or about September 5, 2013, Mullah Sangeen was killed in a drone strike.  Though he was Siraj Haqqani’s chief of operations, tensions between the two men had been mounting for some time and there are those who suggest Sangeen’s location was purposefully leaked in order to get him out of the way.

It was expected that Siraj Haqqani would now consolidate things and move to take tighter control of Sgt. Bergdahl.  He did so by putting Bergdahl under the control of one of his deputies, Ahmad Jan – while Sangeen’s brother, Bilal still maintained custodial control and saw to the day-to-day details of guarding Sgt. Bergdahl and moving him from place to place.

Not longer after taking over for Sangeen, Ahmad Jan was droned.

Through all the intrigue, escape attempts, constant movement, and subterfuge, Sgt. Bergdahl was allegedly never transported outside Showal.  The Haqqanis had kept him in the same general area.  We could have gotten to him, and we should have gotten to him much sooner.

The habit of leaving men behind has become an alarming hallmark of the Obama Administration.  We have never before done that as a nation.  I can’t imagine the Special Operations community, the intelligence community, or the military in general are very happy right now.  President Obama knew for too long where Sgt. Bergdahl was and did nothing to get him back.  The Pakistanis, who also knew, haven’t been sanctioned for their culpability in this outrage, much less for the sanctuary they provided for Osama bin Laden.

According to the Associated Press, any effort to free Sgt. Bergdahl suffered from “disorganization and poor communication among numerous federal agencies.” Nevertheless, whether it was the “shrinking U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan” or a need for a stage-maganed win to distratct from the scandals and failed foreign policy plaguing the Obama Administration, someone decided to redouble efforts to secure Sgt. Bergdahl’s release.  But as history has shown, when negotiating with the Haqqanis you need to sharpen your pencil and bring a big checkbook.

The Haqqanis care first and foremost about the Haqqanis.  To my previous example, they are 80% Sopranos and 20% terrorists.  It always comes down to the money with them, always, which makes the terms of Sgt. Bergdahl’s release so curious.

Why would the Haqqanis ever hand over a hostage (referred to locally as “Golden Sparrows’) as valuable as Sgt. Bergdahl without getting anything in return?

Four of the Gitmo prisoners being released by the United States are not Haqqanis, but rather Afghan Taliban.  In fact, only the fifth, Nabi Omari, has any significance for the Haqqanis.  Omari allegedly has family in the Haqqani network and is a “favorite/lover” of Raschid Hafiz, a member of the inner circle around Siraj Haqqani.

It is almost incomprehensible that the Haqqanis would not demand the release of Haji Mali Kahn, a major Haqqani commander.  Kahn was captured in 2011 and is known not only as the “brain” of the Haqqani network, but also as a “revered elder of the clan,” and “the uncle of the network’s leader, Siraj Haqqani,” who was “in charge of suicide attacks, other attacks, money, finance and operations” and “served as an emissary between the Haqqanis and Baitullah Mehsud, the former head of the Pakistani Taliban.”

If the Haqqanis are going to do a prisoner swap, Haji Mali Kahn is unquestionably the person they’d ask for.  They have been working day and night to get him returned.  Yet his name wasn’t mentioned in regard to releasing Sgt. Bergdahl?

Perhaps they did ask for him.  Maybe Kahn is such a bad guy that even the Obama Administration said, “absolutely no way.”  If that were the case, the Haqqanis would simply default to asking for more money.  That’s what they do.  Eventually a price would be reached and a deal would be struck.  So then why release the Afghan Taliban prisoners from Gitmo at all?  Better yet, why was the U.S. even negotiating with the Quetta Shura when it was the Haqqanis who had Sgt. Bergdahl?

None of this make any sense- unless something else was going on.

If the Obama Administration did pay a ransom to the Haqqanis – through the Quetta Shura, the Pakistani ISI, or via a wealthy Middle Eastern Haqqani supporter acting as a middleman – the United States would have knowingly funded a terrorist organization.  The United States would need a big fig leaf to hide that funding from the public and the Afghan Taliban/Quetta Shura would have gladly played along.  They would have also made the United States pay through the nose for that cooperation.  Judging by the list of terrorists the U.S. was forced to release, that’s one possible interpretation of what happened.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s release raises many more questions than it answers.  But will anyone in the mainstream media ask those questions?  Will any of them discuss the recidivism rate of Gitmo detainees who, once released back into the wild, return to terrorism?  How about the lives and limbs lost in the effort to capture those Gitmo detainees in the first place?  What about the possibility that the Obama Administration may have directly funded a terrorist organization responsible for slaughtering American military personnel and countless innocent civilians?

Only time will tell.  For now, one thing is clear – it is open season on American civilians and American military personnel around-the-world.

Where President Obama failed to close Gitmo, America’s enemies may just do it for him.  All they need to do is kidnap enough Americans, and they’ll have the place cleaned out in no time.
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« Reply #1426 on: June 01, 2014, 09:46:41 PM »

Second post

From a FB post on the page of a forner SEAL-- reliability unknown:


 I WAS THERE. I'm sick of all the lies. Here is the TRUTH, from someone on the ground. We were at OP Mest, Paktika Province, Afghanistan. It was a small outpost where B Co 1-501st INF (Airbone) ran operations out of, just an Infantry platoon and ANA counterparts there. The place was an Afghan graveyard. Bergdahl had been acting a little strange, telling people he wanted to "walk the earth" and kept a little journal talking about how he was meant for better things. No one thought anything about it. He was a little “out there”. Next morning he's gone. We search everywhere, and can't find him. He left his weapon, his kit, and other sensitive items. He only took some water, a compass and a knife. We find some afghan kids shortly after who saw an american walking north asking about where the taliban are. We get hits on our voice intercepter that Taliban has him, and we were close. We come to realize that the kid deserted his post, snuck out of camp and sought out Taliban… to join them. We were in a defensive position at OP Mest, where your focus is to keep people out. He knew where the blind spots were to slip out and that's what he did. It was supposed to be a 4-day mission but turned into several months of active searching. Everyone was spun up to find this guy. News outlets all over the country were putting out false information. It was hard to see, especially when we knew the truth about what happened and we lost good men trying to find him. PFC Matthew Michael Martinek, Staff Sgt. Kurt Robert Curtiss, SSG Clayton Bowen, PFC Morris Walker, SSG Michael Murphrey, 2LT Darryn Andrews, were all KIA from our unit who died looking for Bergdahl. Many others from various units were wounded or killed while actively looking for Bergdahl. Fighting Increased. IEDs and enemy ambushes increased. The Taliban knew that we were looking for him in high numbers and our movements were predictable. Because of Bergdahl, more men were out in danger, and more attacks on friendly camps and positions were conducted while we were out looking for him. His actions impacted the region more than anyone wants to admit. There is also no way to know what he told the Taliban: Our movements, locations, tactics, weak points on vehicles and other things for the enemy to exploit are just a few possibilities. The Government knows full well that he deserted. It looks bad and is a good propaganda piece for the Taliban. They refuse to acknowledge it. Hell they even promoted him to Sergeant which makes me sick. I feel for his family who only want their son/brother back. They don’t know the truth, or refuse to acknowledge it as well. What he did affected his family and his whole town back home, who don’t know the truth. Either way what matters is that good men died because of him. He has been lying on all those Taliban videos about everything since his “capture”. If he ever returns, he should be tried under the UCMJ for being a deserter and judged for what he did. Bergdahl is not a hero, he is not a soldier or an Infantryman. He failed his brothers. Now, sons and daughters are growing up without their fathers who died for him and he will have to face that truth someday.Found the article !!! I am glad he's released but 5 top Detainees were released to cause more death
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« Reply #1427 on: June 01, 2014, 09:53:32 PM »

Third post

Trading With the Taliban
Other Americans will pay the price for the terrorist hostage swap.

Updated June 1, 2014 9:06 p.m. ET

The return of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl from the clutches of the Taliban is cause for relief for his family and all Americans. But there's no denying that the price of his recovery is high. The Obama Administration swapped five of the hardest cases at Guantanamo in a fashion that will encourage terrorists to kidnap more Americans to win the release of more prisoners.

This does not mean we agree with Republicans who say President Obama broke the law by failing to inform Congress 30 days in advance of the prisoner release from Gitmo. Presidential power is never stronger than in the role of Commander in Chief. Congress did not attempt to use its comparably strong power of the purse. Instead Congress's Gitmo language sought bluntly to constrain Mr. Obama's wartime decision-making.
Enlarge Image

Private First Class(Pfc) Bowe Bergdahl, before his capture by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

This is unconstitutional, as the President averred in a statement at the time he signed the bill. That Mr. Obama—and his liberal friends—denounced George W. Bush for similar signing statements is one more antiterror irony of this Presidency. Readers should watch to see if the same politicians and newspapers that assailed Mr. Bush are more forgiving when a Democratic President is using the same war powers.

The real problem with this prisoner swap is the message it conveys about American weakness, especially in the context of Mr. Obama's retreat from Afghanistan and elsewhere. The world's bad actors have long perceived that the U.S. doesn't negotiate over hostages, in contrast to, say, France or Italy. This has made American soldiers and civilians less promising targets.

The Taliban swap will change that perception and increase the likelihood that more Americans will be grabbed, not least in Kabul. Don't be surprised if 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed shows up on a list of future prisoner-swap demands.

It's true that Israel has also traded Palestinian prisoners, sometimes hundreds at a time, for its captive soldiers. One difference is that Israel conducts those swaps in the context of an otherwise tough antiterror policy. This includes unilateral targeting of Hamas and periodic military operations against terrorist havens. No one doubts Israeli resolve.

The same isn't true of the Obama Administration, and the Taliban swap will only underscore the perception that the U.S. is tiring of its antiterror fight. Mr. Obama announced last week that the U.S. will withdraw all of its military forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016, no matter the facts on the ground. The U.S. hasn't used drones to hit a terror target in Pakistan since December. The prisoner swap sends a similar message of retreat.

All the more so because the five freed Taliban killers are likely to return to the battlefield. Though they will supposedly have to stay in Qatar for a year, that means little to men who have been in Gitmo for a decade. They'll probably spend their year boning up on Taliban and al Qaeda war plans.

The reason these five weren't previously released is because they were deemed "high" security risks by the Joint Task Force Guantanamo. They are the most senior Taliban commanders remaining in U.S. custody, and even the Obama Administration approved them for indefinite detention.

Two of them— Mohammed Fazi and Mullah Norullah Nori—were present at the fortress in northern Afghanistan in November 2001 when Taliban prisoners revolted against their captors in the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. CIA operative Johnny Michael Spann died in the melee, the first American casualty of the Afghan war. The duo are also suspected of war crimes for the mass murder of Shiites in Afghanistan before September 11.

Fazi was a close adviser to Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader who has escaped U.S. capture and is believed to be living near Quetta in Pakistan. Soon they will be back in business plotting new attacks.

The release of these Taliban killers also undercuts U.S. complaints against the Afghan government's release of its dangerous Taliban captives. U.S. officials rightly objected to President Hamid Karzai's February release of 65 prisoners after the U.S. military turned them over to Afghan control. The Afghan military and police who will have to fight these five Taliban also have reason to be upset.

Mr. Obama said in a statement on Saturday that he hopes the prisoner swap will lead to a resumption of peace talks with the Taliban, but this reverses the usual order. In Vietnam and most other wars, the prisoner releases were part of a peace deal. In this case the Taliban can continue the war with their ranks enhanced.

If the Taliban now negotiate, it won't be because Mr. Obama's Guantanamo release has changed their intentions. It will be because they sense they can gain more by talking than by fighting. More likely, the success of their hostage-taking and Mr. Obama's 2016 withdrawal pledge will convince them that they can keep fighting while they talk and still
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« Reply #1428 on: June 01, 2014, 10:46:43 PM »

Like for many other things, Americans will pay a long time for Obama.
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« Reply #1429 on: June 03, 2014, 07:08:52 AM »

Five Jihadis For One Deserter

Posted By Robert Spencer On June 3, 2014 @ frontpagemag.com

When he announced the exchange of five Guanatamo detainees for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by Islamic jihadists in Afghanistan since 2009, Barack Obama declared that the swap was “a reminder of America’s unwavering commitment to leave no man or woman in uniform behind on the battlefield.” However, as ever more damning information came to light about both the deal and Bergdahl himself, it became increasingly clear that the prisoner exchange was actually a reminder of Barack Obama’s unwavering commitment to appeasing and aiding jihadis.

Many people have questioned the wisdom of this deal that sends five seasoned, committed, and ruthless jihadis back to Afghanistan, where they will undoubtedly resume their jihad against the American troops there. The freed jihadis include, according to the Associated Press, “Abdul Haq Wasiq, who served as the Taliban deputy minister of intelligence”; “Khairullah Khairkhwa, who served in various Taliban positions including interior minister and had direct ties to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden”; and “Mohammad Fazl, whom Human Rights Watch says could be prosecuted for war crimes for presiding over the mass killing of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan in 2000 and 2001.”

Even more disturbing, however, are the questions swirling around Bowe Bergdahl himself. Former infantry officer Nathan Bradley Bethea, who served with Bowe Bergdahl, wrote in the Daily Beast on Monday that “Bergdahl was a deserter, and soldiers from his own unit died trying to track him down.” Refuting reports that Bergdahl got separated from his unit while on patrol, Bethea declared: “Make no mistake: Bergdahl did not ‘lag behind on a patrol,’ as was cited in news reports at the time. There was no patrol that night. Bergdahl was relieved from guard duty, and instead of going to sleep, he fled the outpost on foot. He deserted. I’ve talked to members of Bergdahl’s platoon—including the last Americans to see him before his capture. I’ve reviewed the relevant documents. That’s what happened.”

Corroborating this was an Associated Press report that was also published on Monday, stating that “a Pentagon investigation concluded in 2010 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his unit, and after an initial flurry of searching the military decided not to exert extraordinary efforts to rescue him, according to a former senior defense official who was involved in the matter.” This official said that the evidence that Bergdahl had deserted was “incontrovertible.”

Why might Bergdahl have deserted? A clue may lie in the fact that the Taliban claimed in 2010 that Bergdahl had converted to Islam and was teaching bomb-making to its jihadists. His father, Robert Bergdahl, appears to be a convert to Islam, as during the ceremony with Obama in the Rose Garden announcing the exchange, he proclaimed: “Bismillah al-rahman al-rahim” – the phrase, “In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful,” which is the heading of 113 of the Qur’an’s 114 chapters. (Journalist Neil Munro noted in the Daily Caller that “although Bergdahl quoted the Quran verse, the White House transcript did not translate it or even include the Islamic prayer. Instead, the transcript simply said Bergdahl spoke in the Pasho language, which is the language of the Pushtun tribe, which forms the vast majority of the Taliban force. In fact, ‘Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim’ is Arabic.” The lavishly-bearded Robert Bergdahl has also called for the release of the jihadists in Guantanamo and has implied that American troops are killing Afghan children in a tweet he concluded with “ameen,” the Arabic form of “amen.”)

What’s more, it was also revealed Monday that in an email to his father just days before he deserted, Bergdahl wrote: “I am sorry for everything here. These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid.” He thundered: “I am ashamed to be an American. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools. I am sorry for everything. The horror that is America is disgusting.”

His father thundered back: “OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!”

Apparently he did, by walking away from his unit and seeking out the Taliban. Nor was his action entirely unexpected. James Rosen reported at FoxNews.com Monday that Bergdahl — “both in his final stretch of active duty in Afghanistan and then, too, during his time when he lived among the Taliban — has been thoroughly investigated by the U.S. intelligence community and is the subject of ‘a major classified file.’” In conveying as much, the Defense Department source confirmed to Fox News that many within the intelligence community harbor serious outstanding concerns not only that Bergdahl may have been a deserter but that he may have been an active collaborator with the enemy.”

It strains credulity to imagine that Barack Obama was not apprised of the existence of this file and these suspicions about Bergdahl. In any case, high-level officials appear to have been aware of them and embarrassed by them for quite some time, as they have enforced a gag order on the members of Bergdahl’s unit, threatening legal action against them if they revealed what happened on the night Bergdahl disappeared.

Why the cover-up? Were Obama Administration officials afraid that the story of a Muslim soldier (if the Taliban claim is true) deserting his post and joining up with the enemy would have negative repercussions for Obama’s disastrous fantasy-based policies in Afghanistan and elsewhere? Did they think that such news would provide a fresh basis to challenge the “diversity” in the military that military brass value more than life itself – as Army chief of staff George Casey demonstrated when he said right after the Fort Hood jihad massacre that “as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse”?

Whatever his reasoning may be, Obama has now traded five battle-hardened jihad warriors for someone he was in a position to know was a deserter and possibly a traitor, who had said that he was ashamed to be an American. If the mainstream media and the Democratic Party covers for the President in this, the latest in his long string of insults to the American people, it will be an outrage. But there is no doubt that they will do so. And quickly this incident will be forgotten, like all of Obama’s earlier insults. But if there are any free people left in America, they will not let this incident be forgotten – and will use it as the linchpin to begin the massive change we so desperately need in the political and media culture.
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« Reply #1430 on: June 04, 2014, 07:51:24 AM »

After Bergdahl disappeared, “IEDs started going off directly under the trucks. They were getting perfect hits every time.”

Robert Spencer    Jun 3, 2014 at 6:33pm - jihadwatch.org


Bergdahl should be tried for treason. Obama should be investigated in order to determine how much of this he knew before he traded the Taliban jihadis for Bergdahl, and if necessary, tried as well. But that won’t happen. A teary-eyed Boehner will explain that the five jihadis just had to be traded for Bergdahl, and while he would have preferred to send back just four, he will settle.

“Bergdahl’s team leader: Intercepted radio chatter said he sought talks with the Taliban,” CNN, June 3, 2014 (thanks to Pamela Geller):

(CNN) – Former Army Sgt. Evan Buetow was the team leader with Bowe Bergdahl the night Bergdahl disappeared.

“Bergdahl is a deserter, and he’s not a hero,” says Buetow. “He needs to answer for what he did.”

Within days of his disappearance, says Buetow, teams monitoring radio chatter and cell phone communications intercepted an alarming message: The American is in Yahya Khel (a village two miles away). He’s looking for someone who speaks English so he can talk to the Taliban.

“I heard it straight from the interpreter’s lips as he heard it over the radio,” said Buetow. “There’s a lot more to this story than a soldier walking away.”

The Army will review the case of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “in a comprehensive, coordinated effort,” Secretary of the Army John McHugh said Tuesday.

The review will include speaking with Bergdahl “to better learn from him the circumstances of his disappearance and captivity,” he said.

The night Bergdahl disappeared, says Buetow, the platoon was at a small outpost, consisting of two bunkers and a perimeter of military trucks. Buetow was in one of the bunkers, and Bergdahl was supposed to be in a tent by one of the trucks.

Then a call came through on the radio.

“I’ll never forget that line, ‘Has anyone seen Bergdahl?’” says Buetow.

Firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon say Bergdahl disappeared while he was on guard duty.

Buetow says Bergdahl was about to go on guard duty, but when a fellow soldier went to wake him, he was not in his tent. He had left behind his weapons, his bullet-proof vest, and night vision gear.

“I immediately knew, I said, ‘He walked away. He walked away,’” said Buetow.

Bergdahl walked off the observation post with nothing more than a compass, a knife, water, a digital camera and a diary, according to firsthand accounts from soldiers in his platoon.

Read: Fellow soldiers call Bowe Bergdahl a deserter, not a hero

Buetow was involved in the immediate search for Bergdahl, pushing a patrol into a nearby local village.

“Immediately as we left the base, two small boys walked up to us, and they told us that they saw an American crawling in the weeds by himself,” said the former Army sergeant. The search followed that lead, and others, for months.

“For 60 days or more, I remember, just straight, all we did was search for Bergdahl,” said Buetow, “essentially chasing a ghost because we never came up with anything.”

At least six soldiers were killed in subsequent searches for him, according to soldiers involved in those operations.

The Pentagon was not able to provide details on specific operations in which any soldiers were killed during that time were involved.

Buetow says even though those operations were not “directed missions” to search for Bergdahl, there was an underlying premise of acting on intelligence to find the missing soldier.

“The fact of the matter is, when those soldiers were killed, they would not have been where they were at if Bergdahl hadn’t left,” says Buetow. “Bergdahl leaving changed the mission.”

Many soldiers in Bergdahl’s platoon said attacks seemed to increase against the United States in Paktika province in the days and weeks following his disappearance.

“Following his disappearance, IEDs started going off directly under the trucks. They were getting perfect hits every time. Their ambushes were very calculated, very methodical,” said Buetow.

It was “very suspicious,” says Buetow, noting that Bergdahl knew sensitive information about the movement of U.S. trucks, the weaponry on those trucks, and how soldiers would react to attacks.

“We were incredibly worried” that Bergdahl was giving up information, either under torture, or otherwise, says Buetow….

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« Reply #1431 on: June 04, 2014, 02:27:57 PM »

We traded five Taliban for one Taliban.
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« Reply #1432 on: June 05, 2014, 10:36:16 AM »



http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/4/congress-twice-rejected-release-of-taliban-from-gi/
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« Reply #1433 on: June 05, 2014, 12:34:27 PM »

second post

Bergdahl Walked Away Before, Military Report Says
A classified military report detailing the Army’s investigation into the disappearance of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in June 2009 says that he had wandered away from assigned areas before — both at a training range in California and at his remote outpost in Afghanistan — and then returned, according to people briefed on it.
The roughly 35-page report, completed two months after Sergeant Bergdahl left his unit, concludes that he most likely walked away of his own free will from his outpost in the darkness of night, and it criticized lax security practices and poor discipline within his unit. But it stops short of concluding that there is solid evidence that Sergeant Bergdahl intended to permanently desert.
READ MORE »
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/06/world/asia/bowe-bergdahl-walked-away-before-military-report-says.html?emc=edit_na_20140605

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ya
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« Reply #1434 on: June 05, 2014, 08:14:12 PM »

Some what humorous comments from the web..as to whether bergdahl deserted!

"Meanwhile, a classified Army report on the soldier’s desertion, leaked to the New York Times, says that the Army concluded he had walked off of his own free will, but could not conclude he intended to desert. Editor thinks America had better do something about the way its Army functions before the entire Republic goes down the sewers. It does not matter what the soldier intended. He left his post in a combat zone with no intention to return. That’s called desertion. How do we know he did not intend to desert. Oh dear. To keep this simple, you have exchanges with his father saying the soldier did not like the situation, and his father saying the son must follow his conscience. We have son saying that the Army and America were lies. The son checked with his leader how much cash money he could obtain, and if he walked off what could he take or not take. The items he could not take – eg, his weapon – he carefully left behind. He had his belongings mailed back to the States. If the Army was unable to conclude he did not intend to come back, the Army is composed of fools and idiots that need to be handcuffed and handed over to the Taliban, AQ, Islamic groups everywhere, Assad, Kim III, and so on. This way they can destroy our enemies from within, instead of destroying us from within.
 
·          And – dear US Army – when a soldier abandons his post in the face of the enemy after considerable thought and preparation,  what do you think he intends? To go down to the local drag, shoot a little pool with the Taliban, have a few beers, gamble a few rounds, and pick up a local girl for some joy, and then return in the morning?  If Army cannot conclude he intended to desert, it’s probably too much to expect the Army to conclude that the world is round. Or are we setting the bar too high with that question? How about “does the Army realize if it holds its breath till it dies it is, well, dead?” Something like that. Make up your own absurd example, Editor cant do the thinking every day and make sense."
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« Reply #1435 on: June 05, 2014, 10:45:40 PM »

There has been immense pressure on the army to spin this the way the administration wants it spun.
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« Reply #1436 on: June 06, 2014, 07:15:11 AM »

Secret documents: Bergdahl converted to Islam, declared himself a “mujahid”

Robert Spencer    Jun 5, 2014

This is getting worse by the minute. Will Obama ever backtrack and apologize at any point, or will he keep on digging in and insisting that obtaining back this traitorous deserter was the right thing to do? Will the mainstream media continue to cover for him, or will it finally hold him accountable? Is the cover-up of what really happened here a result of the Administration’s desire not to have news out there about another Muslim soldier turning traitor?

“EXCLUSIVE: Bergdahl declared jihad in 2010, secret documents show,” by James Rosen, Fox News, June 5, 2014 (thanks to Marisa):

U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl at one point during his captivity converted to Islam, fraternized openly with his captors and declared himself a “mujahid,” or warrior for Islam, according to secret documents prepared on the basis of a purported eyewitness account and obtained by Fox News.

The reports indicate that Bergdahl’s relations with his Haqqani captors morphed over time, from periods of hostility, where he was treated very much like a hostage, to periods where, as one source told Fox News, “he became much more of an accepted fellow” than is popularly understood. He even reportedly was allowed to carry a gun at times.

The documents show that Bergdahl at one point escaped his captors for five days and was kept, upon his re-capture, in a metal cage, like an animal. In addition, the reports detail discussions of prisoner swaps and other attempts at a negotiated resolution to the case that appear to have commenced as early as the fall of 2009.

The reports are rich in on-the-ground detail — including the names and locations of the Haqqani commanders who ran the 200-man rotation used to guard the Idaho native — and present the most detailed view yet of what Bergdahl’s life over the past five years has been like. These real-time dispatches were generated by the Eclipse Group, a shadowy private firm of former intelligence officers and operatives that has subcontracted with the Defense Department and prominent corporations to deliver granular intelligence on terrorist activities and other security-related topics, often from challenging environments in far-flung corners of the globe.

The group is run by Duane R. (“Dewey”) Clarridge, a former senior operations officer for the Central Intelligence Agency in the 1980s best known for having been indicted for lying to Congress about his role in the tangled set of events that became known as the Iran-Contra scandal. He was pardoned by the first President Bush in December 1992 while on trial. A New York Times profile of Clarridge published in January 2011 disclosed the contractual relationship Eclipse had with the Pentagon, through subcontractors, and reported further that Clarridge’s activities had included efforts to help find Bergdahl.

Clarridge told Fox News his group enjoyed a subcontract from U.S. Central Command, or CENTCOM, headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, from November 2009 through May 31, 2010, and that after the contract was terminated, he invested some $50,000 of his own money to maintain the network of informants that had yielded such detailed accounts of Bergdahl’s status.

Clarridge further told Fox News that by the end of 2010, he had furnished at least 13 of these detailed SITREPs, or situation reports, that his network generated about Bergdahl to Brigadier General Robert P. Ashley Jr., who in April 2010 was named director of intelligence, at the J-2 level, at CENTCOM. Clarridge said Eclipse SITREP # 3023, dated Aug. 23, 2012 — in which a member of the Haqqani network, said to be close to Bergdahl’s captors, reported that the American prisoner had declared himself a “mujahid” — was among the reports provided to Ashley.

The latter is now commanding general at the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, where a message left with the public affairs office was not immediately returned.

The documents obtained by Fox News show that Eclipse developed and transmitted numerous status reports on the whereabouts of the errant American soldier, spanning a period from October 2009, roughly three months after Bergdahl reportedly walked off his base in Afghanistan and fell into custody of the Haqqani network, up through August 2012.

At one point — in late June 2010, after Bergdahl succeeded in one of his escape attempts — the Haqqani commanders constructed a special metal cage for him, and confined him to it. At other points, however, Bergdahl was reported to be happily playing soccer with the Haqqani fighters, taking part in AK-47 target practice and being permitted to carry a firearm of his own, laughing frequently and proclaiming “Salaam,” the Arabic word for “peace.”

Reached by telephone, retired U.S. Marine Corps General James N. Mattis, a 45-year service veteran who served as CENTCOM commander from August 2010 to August 2012, told Fox News he may have received bits and pieces of the intelligence generated by Eclipse, but said Ashley, with whom he maintained a close working relationship, had not forwarded on to him the specific SITREPs cited by Fox News.

Mattis was also adamant that no one at CENTCOM or within the broader U.S. military or intelligence community — despite intensive investigation of such allegations — ever learned of anything to suggest Bergdahl had evolved into an active collaborator with the Haqqani network or the Taliban. “We were always looking for actionable intelligence,” Mattis said. “It wasn’t just the IC [intelligence community]. We had tactical units that were involved in the fight. We had SIGINT. Any collaborators who were on the other side and who came over to our side. We kept an eye on this. … There was never any evidence of collaboration.”

Fox News reported on Monday that Bergdahl was the subject of a “major classified file” prepared by the U.S. intelligence community, and that many members of that community harbored concerns that Bergdahl, during his period of captivity, may have engaged in collaboration with the enemy.

Experts consulted by Fox News said that SITREP # 3023 presents a picture of an American captive who, if not an active collaborator, may have succumbed to Stockholm Syndrome — the dynamic by which hostages can become enamored of their captors and join their cause — or simply feigned allegiance in order to survive. The report cited a source new to Eclipse — a member of the Haqqani network said to be close to Mullah Sangeen, the Haqqani commander charged at all points over the last five years with operational custody and control of Bergdahl — whose trustworthiness had not been fully vetted by the group. However, the report stated, the informant “does have plausible access to the information reported below, and claims to have seen Bergdahl personally in Shawal,” in North Waziristan.

“In the early stages Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s captivity,” the report states, “he was held at Palasin, Naurak, FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas], under the control of Mullah Sangeen and under the direct supervision of Haji Mursaleem, Sangeen’s father. Conditions and locality changed after Mursaleem died [in September 2010], and Bergdahl was kept under tight guard after his attempted escape from his new place of detention in Shawal.

“As of August 2012,” the report continues, “the person with responsibility for Bergdahl’s captivity is Sangeen’s brother, who has delegated the actual guarding of Bergdahl to Abubakr Asadkhel, a Burra Khel Wazir loyal to Sangeen, and whose sub-tribe lives in Shawal. Abubakr leads approximately 200 armed men from his tribe and operates from five bases (markaz) in Shawal. … Abubakr’s tribe is one of the prosperous branches of the Wazir and owns lots of trucks. Abubakr circulates his prisoner between schools in the area he controls, and his different insurgent bases.”

Conditions for Bergdahl have greatly relaxed since the time of the escape. Bergdahl has converted to Islam and now describes himself as a mujahid. Bergdahl enjoys a modicum of freedom, and engages in target practice with the local mujahedeen, firing AK47s. Bergdahl is even allowed to carry a loaded gun on occasion. Bergdahl plays soccer with his guards and bounds around the pitch like a mad man. He appears to be well and happy, and has a noticeable habit of laughing frequently and saying ‘Salaam’ repeatedly….
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« Reply #1437 on: June 07, 2014, 01:02:28 PM »



http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/06/06/lone-survivor-marcus-luttrells-response-when-asked-if-he-wouldve-wanted-the-u-s-government-to-trade-taliban-prisoners-to-free-him/
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« Reply #1438 on: June 13, 2014, 08:38:42 PM »

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/06/13/family-first-american-killed-in-afghanistan-learns-freed-taliban-leader-was/ 
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« Reply #1439 on: June 13, 2014, 10:21:50 PM »


Obama supports his troops. Unfortunately, they aren't our troops.
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« Reply #1440 on: June 19, 2014, 01:57:40 PM »



http://www.clarionproject.org/news/taliban-cuts-ink-stained-fingers-voters-afghanistan 
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« Reply #1441 on: June 24, 2014, 12:18:30 PM »

 A Religious Scholar Returns to Pakistan
Geopolitical Diary
Monday, June 23, 2014 - 20:09 Text Size Print

Just days after watching a much-awaited counteroffensive against jihadists in North Waziristan, Islamabad finds itself distracted by the homecoming of populist religious scholar-turned-politician Tahir-ul-Qadri, who returned Monday from Canada to lead a "revolution" against what he considers a corrupt political order. His arrival has grave implications for one of the world's largest Muslim countries.

Pakistan falls into the perilous category of countries where military rule is no longer viable but where the public has grown disenchanted with democracy. As in Iraq and Egypt, the military can no longer impose order, but public frustration with democracy has seen attempts at armed uprising to bring change extralegally.

In countries that have only recently seen the decline of military regimes or single-party rule, the public typically sees democracy as a means to attain its expectations from the ruling class. Having such a large portion of the population lose faith in the democratic process, as has happened in Pakistan, is unusual.

Pakistan's first democratic transition happened in 2013, when now-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League won the general elections and succeeded the elected government of Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party. The Pakistan Muslim League's victory in large part resulted from popular anger at perceptions of corruption and incompetence within the former ruling party. Just one year later, Sharif finds himself on the defensive against Qadri's Pakistan Awami Tehrik.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

The movement Qadri leads has broad appeal among the middle class. But as is the reality in such situations, Qadri also enjoys the support of powerful quarters, including a well-oiled political machine. A large cross-section of the business community is underwriting his movement to protect and enhance their financial interests. Meanwhile, his fatwa against jihadists has garnered support from many abroad and especially in the military establishment, which hopes to use his movement to curb the decline of military influence.

But Qadri is promising a future his movement cannot deliver. Meanwhile, his promotion of revolution is weakening the constitutional order. Ideally, he would like to create a situation in which the government -- and for that matter, the entire system -- simply resigns. But in the likely event that his movement cannot adequately fill the resulting vacuum, the military would be in no position to step in and stabilize the situation, given its current weakness.

This means that if Qadri manages to remove the current order, anarchy would likely ensue. Only the Taliban are in a position to benefit from such a scenario. They are far more powerful than Qadri and would be delighted to exploit the opening he is trying to create.

This is not just the story of Pakistan. It also describes the state of affairs in the Middle East, where old military-dominated orders are collapsing, democracies are struggling to be born and the masses are using their newfound freedom to mount disruptive protests that hamper the emergence of a new democratic order. This opens the door for jihadist non-state actors to step up and take advantage of the situation.

Read more: A Religious Scholar Returns to Pakistan | Stratfor

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« Reply #1442 on: June 27, 2014, 08:21:05 PM »

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bq6PfAXCMAEudNL.jpg:large

Weather in Af-Pak

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« Reply #1443 on: June 28, 2014, 08:12:30 AM »



http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/28/world/asia/taliban-mount-major-assault-in-afghanistan.html?emc=edit_th_20140628&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=49641193&_r=0
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