Tag Archives: Afghanistan

NATO forces in Afghanistan apologize for ‘highly offensive’ propaganda leaflet

A senior U.S. commander in Afghanistan apologized on Wednesday for a “highly offensive” propaganda leaflet which contained a passage from the Quran used in the Taliban militants’ banner superimposed on to the image of a dog.

The dog is considered unclean in Islam and associating an image of the animal with one of the religion’s most sacred texts prompted indignation.

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106-year-old Afghan woman faces deportation from Sweden

Sweden has rejected the asylum application of an 106-year-old Afghan woman who traveled almost 3,000 miles to reach the European nation at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015.

Bibihal Uzbeki, who has been dubbed the “world’s oldest refugee,” is disabled and blind but Sweden says that old age is not a factor in eligibility for asylum.

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Suicide bomb kills at least 80 and wounds more than 350 in Afghanistan

Taliban denies responsibility for massive blast in Kabul which comes amid wave of renewed militant violence across the country and at beginning of holy month of Ramadan

The death toll in a huge explosion that rocked Kabul’s city centre has risen to 80 and another 350 people have been injured, Afghanistan’s Public Heath Ministry has said.

The damage is believed to have been caused by a powerful suicide car bomb deployed during rush hour on Wednesday morning, police spokesperson Basir Mujahid confirmed.

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U.S. Concerned Russia Supplying Arms To Afghan Taliban

A top U.S. Army general has suggested during a visit to Afghanistan by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that Russia is arming Taliban militants.

General John Nicholson, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said during a joint press conference in Kabul with Mattis on April 24 that he wouldn’t dispute that Russia’s involvement in the Afghan war includes Moscow providing weapons to the Tailban.

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Juarez newspaper closes over lack of security after journalist’s murder

The Mexican newspaper where a reporter who investigated drug gangs worked until she was murdered has announced it is closing its print edition due to a lack of security.

The director of the Ciudad Juarez-based newspaper, Oscar Cantu, wrote Sunday in an article titled “Adios!” that Miroslava Breach’s slaying last month led him to reflect on the dangers of practicing journalism in the region, where “high risk is the main ingredient.”

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Twitter ‘misplaces’ Taliban official in Pakistan

tweet

A senior spokesman for the Taliban has denied that he is in Pakistan, after one of his tweets located him there.

Zabihullah Mujahid appeared to have had his location tagged to his Twitter updates on Friday, labelling him as being in “Sindh, Pakistan”.

He dismissed the location as an “enemy plot”, tweeting that he was definitely in Afghanistan.

Pakistan is often accused of having covert links with the Taliban, an allegation it denies.

After Twitter users noticed the labelling, he tweeted: “My Twitter account has been manipulated – as part of weak efforts of enemy plot, it showed that I am based in Sindh of Pakistan, I call this attempt as fake and shame [sic].”

“Now, the enemy’s fake act has been exposed, and with full confidence, I can say that I am in my own country.”

His exact location is a secret. However, many Afghan Taliban leaders are believed to seek shelter in neighbouring Pakistan.

Afghanistan’s Opium Industry Now Employs More People Than Its Military

Afghanistan Muddy Boots

Afghanistan’s opium economy provides more employment — “up to 411,000 full-time-equivalent jobs” — than even the country’s armed forces, according to a quarterly report released today by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The country’s poppy cultivation is at an all-time high, covering more than 200,000 hectares, another SIGAR report found earlier this month.

Opium and its derivatives are the country’s largest export, worth $3 billion in 2013, an increase from $2 billion in the year before.

In fact, Afghanistan’s opium production has been on a constant uptick since 2010, according to a chart included in the SIGAR report:

SIGAR Poppy Cultivation Estimates Graph

“Counternarcotics Appears To Have Fallen Off The Agenda”

Despite the rampant growth of an illicit drug economy that stokes corruption and even finances the Taliban, the concern over opium has diminished. The US and its partners seem to have given up on opium eradication as a goal in the country. As the SIGAR report notes, it isn’t even mentioned in “the declarations and communiqués from the conferences on Afghanistan reconstruction that have become a mainstay of the international effort.”

Opium cultivation is paid only “oblique reference” in the 2012 document laying out the country’s reconstruction. Indeed, nowhere in the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework do the words “poppy” or “opium” appear, even as the industry plays an ever-bigger role in the life of Afghans.

Meanwhile, appropriations for the Department of Defense’s Drug Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities Fund (or DOD CN) have plummeted since a steady climb in the aughts and a peak in 2012. Since 2002, the US has spent nearly $7.8 billion trying to tackle Afghanistan’s opium problem.

This chart shows how that effort recieved less and less US budgetary attention, at the same time opium production in the country increased:

Counter Narcotics Funding Afghanistan SIGAR

Read the entire report here.