Tag Archives: Kabul

Afghan president admits he’s losing troops to ISIS

By The Associated Press

Saturday, March 21, 2015, 9:06 p.m.

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Ashraf Ghani publicly acknowledged for the first time Saturday that the Islamic State is gaining influence in Afghanistan as he prepared to leave for the United States and attempt to slow the withdrawal of American troops.

Reports have been growing that commanders of the Islamist Taliban forces fighting the Afghan government are swearing allegiance to the terrorist network that controls swathes of Syria and Iraq, sometimes called “Daesh.”

“Daesh’s characteristic is that it is man-eating. It swallows its competitors,” Ghani said in a briefing. “Here, it is not physical presence of people from Syria or Iraq. It is the network effect.”

The Afghan president is heading to the United States on Sunday — his first trip to Washington as head of state. He has a daunting and delicate task: He needs firm commitment of American military support in his fight against groups such as the Taliban and an ISIS affiliate, which he and American military leaders fear is finding a foothold in Afghanistan.

Ghani’s relationship with Washington stands in stark contrast to that of his acrimonious predecessor, Hamid Karzai, whose antagonism toward the United States culminated in a refusal to sign security agreements with Washington and NATO before leaving office. Ghani signed the pacts within days of becoming president in September and has since enjoyed a close relationship with diplomats and military leaders.

“It’s important for Afghanistan that the United States has trust in the leaders of the country and uses this visit to show its support for the new government,” said Afghan political analyst Jawed Khoistani. “A long-term American presence in Afghanistan is essential.”

Ghani’s weeklong trip, which begins Sunday, occurs as the Afghan army is waging its first solo offensive against the Taliban in Helmand province, their southern heartland, seeking a decisive victory ahead of the spring fighting season as evidence it can carry the battle without American and NATO combat troops that withdrew from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

Ghani, who was involved in planning the Helmand operation, started in February, will ask the United States for enhanced backup in the offensive, including air support, several officials close to the Afghan president told the Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the upcoming visit.

There are 13,000 foreign soldiers in Afghanistan, about 9,800 American troops and 3,000 from NATO — down from a peak of 140,000 in 2009-2010. Those still here are involved in training and supporting Afghan security forces, with battlefield backup only when necessary. Half of the American troops are engaged in counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Officials have said the Obama administration is set to abandon plans to draw down to 5,500 troops by year’s end, bowing to military leaders’ requests. And while no final decision on numbers has been made, the United States is expected to allow many of the troops to remain well into 2016.

However, Ghani has signaled in talks ahead of the visit that he wants the United States to maintain 10,000 troops in Afghanistan through the next decade, said a European military official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Even more important is the presence of U.S. and NATO bases, which are to be dismantled in mid-2016, according to plans — an undertaking that would take assets away from the fight.

Keeping the bases going would reaffirm Afghanistan’s strategic importance to the United States. And though Ghani is likely to get a commitment for funding, training and support for the Afghan military beyond 2016, his request to keep the bases open beyond that timeframe is still on the table, the European official said.

U.S. military leaders in Afghanistan agree that the bases in Kabul, Kandahar and Jalalabad should remain open “as long as possible,” the European official said.

Afghan woman who donned breast armor goes into hiding

Kubra Khademi walking in central Kabul with wearing a suit of armor featuring large breasts and buttocks in protest against groping. (Photo courtesy of: Twitter)

A young Afghan artist who walked through the streets of Kabul wearing a suit of armor featuring large breasts and buttocks in protest against sexual harassment has gone into hiding after receiving death threats.

Kubra Khademi, 27, had walked around in the costume in central Kabul on Feb.26 hoping to cast a spotlight on groping and inappropriate touching of women in public spaces in Afghanistan.

The suit was fashioned at a cost of 500 Afghanis ($10) by a local blacksmith, said Khademi.

Afghan artist Kubra Khademi, 27, sits alongside a suit of armour she made as a protest against sexual harrassment during an interview with AFP in Kabul on March 8, 2015. (AFP)

She then decided to take it out for a run. After removing her coat in the street, the young artist, who was wearing a hijab, said she found herself harassed from all sides and was forced to flee after jeers and stones were hurled her way.

“It did go according to what I was expecting. The crowd was coming at me and sort of pushing me,” she told AFP on International Women’s Day, adding she had to escape the area in a taxi.

Khademi said a painful event from her early childhood had evoked her bold protest.

Afghan artist Kubra Khademi, 27, sits alongside a suit of armour she made as a protest against sexual harrassment during an interview with AFP in Kabul on March 8, 2015. (AFP)

“This piece is about what happened to me when I was four or five years old. Somebody touched me and then he just walked away. I was just a female for him. He didn’t care how old I was,” she said.

“I was feeling guilty. Why did it happen to me? It was my fault. And I said: ‘I wish my underwear were made of iron’.”

Now in hiding in the suburbs of Kabul, Khademi lamented: “These things happen daily, every moment, every hour in my city.”

She added she had received both insults and death threats over email and had been forced to leave her home.

Afghan artist Kubra Khademi, 27, sits alongside a suit of armour she made as a protest against sexual harrassment during an interview with AFP in Kabul on March 8, 2015. (AFP)

A few days after Khademi’s performance, some male activist carried out their own unique form of protest, donning the all-encompassing burqa to show solidarity with women they said were being oppressed by the garment.

“We wanted to tell officials that miseries of Afghan women cannot be felt by marking Women’s Day in big halls with empty speeches. In order to feel them you have to put yourself in their shoes, come out on the streets with burqas on,” said Basir, a 29-year-old activist who goes by one name.

“And we also wanted to really experience as a human being how a woman feels under a burqa.”

Why Are America and The West Funding Sharia Law?

How long is the West going to be bound to doing the impossible?

Prof. Phyllis Chesler

President Hamid Karzai’s government is considering bringing back stoning for adultery—and imposing 100 lashes (which is a death sentence) for unmarried people who have had sexual relations.

Thus, Afghan men can marry female children, keep male children as sex-toys, maintain four wives, and visit prostitutes from dawn to dawn.

But it is a capital crime if an Afghan man dishonors another Afghan man by having relations with his female “property;” and, if he has raped the poor wife, she is also to be stoned. Worse yet, if two young Afghans meet and fall in love on their own and have sexual relations, but do not marry—they, too, will be committing a capital crime.

Just imagine what it is like to live in a world where marriages are arranged, often to first or second cousins; where a woman cannot divorce a man, no matter how violent or cruel he and his family may be.

Imagine that if a girl is maritally raped, tortured or forced into prostitution by her mother-in-law (these things happen all the time in Afghanistan).

Understand that if a bride is bold enough to run away, she will be jailed—that’s if she is lucky. Otherwise, her family of origin and her husband’s family will kill her for dishonoring them.

This reality is surreal, actually worse than Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel “The Handmaids’ Tale”. Such customs are indigenous, tribal, and pandemic– and have not been caused by Western colonialism, imperialism, militarism or even Zionism!

In fact, Afghans are very proud of the fact that they have never been colonized, not by Great Britain and not by Russia.

Why are America and the West funding such a country which is so clearly headed back towards the darkest days of the Taliban in the 1980s and to the even darker days of the bitter battles between warlords which massacred so many innocent civilians in the 1990s? Do Americans really believe that we can wean the Sunni Afghans from gender and religious apartheid?

Why is America funding humanitarian projects and training an Afghan Army when Hamid Karzai, presumably America’s puppet, is in reality a quintessentially wily Afghan who needs to posture against the infidel West in order to keep his conservative countrymen from assassinating him; who breaks promises as fast as he makes them and considers this clever diplomacy, Afghan-style; whose family has grown very rich allegedly as opium dealers as well as bankers and landlords.

Karzai has just now even gone against the wishes of his own Loya Jirga (mass meeting of elders) by deciding that he would not sign the agreement with America that he promised to sign.I was once held captive in Kabul—the very country that sheltered Bin Laden as he hatched Al Qaeda and 9/11. Now, the entire civilian world is being held hostage by this style of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare i.e. a war in which soldiers are dressed as civilians and there is no “front.” A suicide bombing can happen anywhere and everywhere.

How eerie, how destined that I would know something about this particular country, the people, the customs, and could bring my hard-won knowledge to bear at this moment in history.

Author Rajiv Chandrasekaran tells a story about an Afghan farmer who observed American do-gooders at work in the 1950s. The farmer said: “The land upon which (the Americans) were standing was cursed because the infidel had touched the land.” The farmer predicted that the Valley would become “a wasteland because of the tinkering of the infidels.”

I work with Muslim and ex-Muslim feminists and dissidents and respect their enormous heroism. But I also know that they are marginalized by Western governments and represent only a small percentage of Muslims.

The fear, envy, and hatred of the infidel, especially the Jew, is pandemic and will not be easy to uproot and transform.

Please draw all the necessary parallel conclusions about Israel’s chances of transforming a heavily indoctrinated Palestinian Muslim population. I wrestle with the commandment that, as a Jew, I must bring light unto the nations—but I am also evaluating the high cost of doing so in terms of blood and treasure.

I know that if Western boots on the ground leave Afghanistan, that every humanitarian project will disappear overnight and the country will become a Living Hell. And yet: If the ideal cannot be translated into reality at this historical moment, how long are we morally bound to attempt to do that which is impossible?