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Posts tagged ‘Taliban’

Graham: Karzai ‘Empowers’ Taliban By Freeing Afghan Thugs.


Sen. Lindsey Graham has accused Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai of “empowering” Taliban terrorists by releasing 65 dangerous Afghan “thugs” from jail.

The South Carolina Republican, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, condemned Karzai for freeing the prisoners who pose an immediate threat to U.S., Afghan, and allied forces in the war-torn country, McClatchy reports.

“Karzai is doing a lot of damage to his country and to the relationship between us and Afghanistan,” said Graham, who once traded jokes with Karzai over dinners at his presidential palace in Kabul.

“He’s undercutting a relationship (with the U.S.) that most Afghans want and empowering the Taliban…

“The Taliban look at something like this (the release of prisoners), and they’ve got to be encouraged. I’ve been to that prison dozens of times, and it makes my blood boil to see these thugs walk out of there.”

Graham said he’s been unable to confirm reports that Karzai has held secret talks with the Taliban, Muslim fanatics who ruled the country and imposed strict Islamic laws there until the U.S. invasion in October 2001.

Although the Taliban have recently launched a new offensive in the region, Graham said, “(Karzai) doesn’t treat the Taliban as an insurgency. He calls them ‘wayward brothers’ rather than thugs that are killing people.”

“I’ve known Karzai for 10 years, but he’s getting completely irrational. He’s totally detached from the reality about what’s going on in his own country.”

Graham, who has made several trips to Afghanistan as a senator and as an Air Force Reserve colonel, even met with Karzai in Kabul last month, along with Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and pleaded with him to keep the “thugs” behind bars, McClatchy reported.

But Karzai dismissed them, saying that the national detention center in Parwan that housed the inmates and was built with U.S. funds was “a black hole.” Although the jail is guarded by U.S. troops, the Karzai government has authority over the handling of prisoners and claims the 65 detainees were being held without cause.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of U.S troops in Afghanistan, attacked Karzai’s decision because he believes that some of the freed prisoners will join forces with the Taliban insurgency.

“They have killed Afghan men, women and children,” Dunford said, noting that two dozen inmates were tied to roadside bombs, the number one killer of Afghan citizens. “We believe some of the individuals previously released have already returned to the fight.”

Now a furious Graham is fighting back by demanding that Congress cuts off U.S. reconstruction aid to Afghanistan, and he’s enlisted the support of House Speaker John Boehner.

“After years of fighting alongside our Afghan partners — who have sustained serious casualties themselves from common enemies — this decision is especially egregious,” said Boehner.

The tense relations between Afghanistan and the U.S. have sunk to an all-time low, with U.S. officials claiming that Karzai has gone back on a bilateral agreement to keep a small military contingent in the country after the remaining 34,000 U.S. troops pull out by the end of the year.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the White House may now wait until Karzai leaves office in April before attempting to sign a new pact with the next government to keep peace-keeping troops on the ground there.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

Hagel Voices Frustration with Afghan Foot-Dragging.


Expressing growing impatience, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday he doesn’t know what to believe about new assurances from Afghanistan that President Hamid Karzai is moving closer to signing a pact to keep American troops in his country next year as advisers.

“What is coming out of the presidential palace today, or what President Karzai says today, I don’t know,” Hagel told a news conference in Warsaw. “It changes constantly.”

Hagel pointedly noted that Karzai had “agreed — personally agreed — to the bilateral security agreement” negotiated between the two nations last year, yet continues to balk at signing it.

The deal would allow some U.S. service members to remain and keep training Afghan soldiers after most of the 39,000 troops now there withdraw. The 12-year-old U.S. combat mission is set to end in December.

The Obama administration has indicated it might be willing to keep as many as 10,000 military trainers in Afghanistan to advise forces fighting the Taliban insurgency.

Earlier, on his overnight flight from Washington to Warsaw, Hagel told reporters that Karzai’s foot-dragging puts at risk the planning necessary for a post-combat mission.

“You can’t just keep deferring and deferring,” he said, “because at some point, the realities of planning and budgeting — it collides.”

Since the new year, the Obama administration has repeatedly said it needs an agreement signed in weeks, not months, if it is to keep any troops in Afghanistan in 2015.

In Kabul on Thursday, Karzai’s national security adviser voiced optimism about the pact.

Rangin Dadfar Spanta said he has grown more hopeful that the Afghan leader will sign the agreement before leaving office this year. Karzai has repeatedly said he wants to wait to sign the document until after the country chooses his successor in April 5 elections.

At a news conference, Spanta said intense talks in the last few days have made him “more optimistic” that the stalemate can be broken.

“We are working very intensively together with the United States authorities to reach and sign this agreement soon,” Spanta said. “I cannot go today into detail, but I don’t know — since two, three, four days, I am more optimistic compared to last week. Let us wait a few days more.”

If the deal falls apart, Afghanistan could lose up to $15 billion a year in aid, effectively collapsing its fragile economy and making it unable to pay its 350,000-strong army and police.

Hagel, who was visiting Polish leaders to consult on Afghanistan and other security issues, sounded skeptical at his news conference in Warsaw when asked about Spanta’s remarks.

Saying that the Afghan president’s position keeps changing, Hagel noted that U.S. officials, including Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top US military commander in Afghanistan, have pressed Karzai and “talk with him constantly.” But they have limited ability to influence his decision, Hagel said.

He added that U.S. allies who are willing to help train and advise Afghan forces beyond 2014 also are eager to know if there will be a U.S.-Afghan security agreement soon.

Insurgents in Afghanistan have intensified attacks recently in a campaign to regain territory as foreign forces prepare to leave the country.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com.

Karzai Said to Believe US Behind Attacks Claimed by Taliban.


Image: Karzai Said to Believe US Behind Attacks Claimed by Taliban

By Elliot Jager

Afghan President Hamid Karzai believes the United States has conducted a series of bombings and terror attacks in his country as part of a campaign to destabilize his regime and draw attention away from airstrikes that caused civilian casualties.

Citing unnamed senior Afghan officials, The Washington Post reported late Monday thatKarzai blames the U.S. for the Jan. 17 bombing of a popular Lebanese-style restaurant in Kabul that killed 21 people, among them three Americans, as well as assaults on the Justice Ministry in Kabul and a provincial courthouse that took 50 lives.

The Taliban has taken credit for the attacks, but Karzai still blames the U.S., pro-Karzai sources told the Post, because he believes the attack against the restaurant was “too sophisticated to be the handiwork of [the] Taliban.” The Post also noted that Karzai has acknowledged there is no evidence to back up his charges.

In response, the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, James Cunningham, told the Post, “It’s a deeply conspiratorial view that’s divorced from reality.”

He suggested Karzai’s claims could be part of an effort to “throw us off balance” because he has yet to sign a security agreement already negotiated that would leave a substantial U.S. military presence in the country beyond the scheduled withdrawal date at the end of this year.

“It flies in the face of logic and morality to think that we would aid the enemy we’re trying to defeat,” said Cunningham.

Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, also said that “any suggestion that the U.S. has been involved in any way in suicide attacks or deliberate attacks on Afghan civilians is ludicrous.

“We have spent 12 years trying to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan in the face of threats from terrorist and insurgent networks . . . To suggest otherwise does a grave disservice to those who have sacrificed for the people of Afghanistan.”

The latest claim from Karzai follows a charge he made last year alleging the U.S. had joined with the Taliban to conspire against him, The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

WashPost: Afghan’s Karzai Won’t Meet US Deadline on Security Deal.


Image: WashPost: Afghan's Karzai Won't Meet US Deadline on Security Deal

WASHINGTON — U.S. efforts to persuade Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a long-term security agreement according to Washington’s timetable will likely fail, the lead American negotiator has warned the Obama administration, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

In a classified cable that the Post said was transmitted in recent days, U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham wrote that he did not think Karzai would agree to sign the agreement before Afghanistan’s presidential election in April, the newspaper said, citing U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Relations between the two countries are already near breaking point over Karzai’s refusal to sign the security deal to shape the U.S. military presence after most foreign troops leave this year

The United States wants the Afghanistan government to sign the agreement in matter of weeks if a contingent of U.S. troops is to remain there after 2014, the White House said on Monday.

Without a deal, the United States could pull out all troops, the “zero option,” leaving Afghan forces to battle the Taliban on their own.

Karzai has called that an empty threat and suggested any security deal could wait until after the April elections.

The United States has 46,000 troops in Afghanistan, but that figure is set to fall to 34,000 by early 2014.

In a another move likely to strain U.S.-Afghan ties, a spokesman for Karzai said on Thursday that Afghanistan had enough evidence to try only 16 of 88 prisoners the United States considers a threat to security and plans to free the remaining detainees.

Washington strongly opposes their release because it says the prisoners being held in Afghanistan have been involved in the wounding or killing of U.S. and coalition troops.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmaxworld.com/GlobalTalk/afghanistan-karzai-security-deal/2014/01/10/id/546339#ixzz2q1zjH9Jy
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US Embassy in Kabul Attacked on Christmas; No Casualties Reported.


KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan says its compound was hit by indirect fire just before dawn on Christmas Day. It says no Americans were injured.

An embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, says the attack happened at around 6:40 a.m. Wednesday, when “two rounds of indirect fire impacted the U.S. Embassy compound.” Indirect fire can refer to either mortars or rockets.

The Taliban claimed they fired four rockets at the embassy on Wednesday and inflicted heavy casualties. But the insurgents often exaggerate their claims.

Meanwhile, a roadside bombing in eastern Kabul wounded three Afghan policemen Wednesday.

Kabul police chief, Mohammad Zahir, says one suspect was arrested over that attack. He says police later uncovered an unexploded bomb in the same area and successfully neutralized it.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Saudi Arabia Must Face 9/11 Victims in Revived US Lawsuits.


NEW YORK — Lawsuits claiming Saudi Arabia aided al-Qaida and should be held liable for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack were revived by a U.S. appeals court in a decision that allows victims and their families another chance to seek compensation from the kingdom.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York Thursday said a lower-court judge “rested on an error of law” in rejecting a request to reopen the cases against the country’s government and an affiliated charity.

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia and Herzegovina won a ruling dismissing them from the lawsuits on the grounds that a foreign government is immune from suit.

Subsequently, the appeals court made inconsistent rulings on whether the terrorism claims made in the case fall under sovereign-immunity rule, according to yesterday’s opinion.

The lower-court judge should have granted a request to re- open the cases to allow the inconsistency to be addressed, the appeals court said.

The inconsistent rulings caused “a disparity” between two cases “where none should ever have existed,” the appeals court said.

“We conclude that the circumstances of this case are extraordinary,” warranting its re-opening the three-judge panel said in the ruling. The case will be returned to the lower-court judge for consideration as to whether it should move forward.

Michael Kellogg, a lawyer for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, didn’t immediately return a call yesterday seeking comment on the ruling.

Jerry S. Goldman, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement that the decision is “soundly grounded and restores this case to the proper procedural posture.”

“This is a big step forward in the process of obtaining fair justice for the victims of this tragedy,” he said.

Goldman’s clients include family members of John O’Neill, a former federal counter-terrorism agent who had led investigations of Osama bin Laden and was working as the chief of security for New York’s World Trade Center when the attacks occurred.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s biggest source of funds for militant Islamic groups such as the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a 2009 cable obtained by Wikileaks.

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Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most “significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” according to the cable.

Drew C. Bailey, a spokesman for the state department, declined to comment on the cable.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Six US Troops Killed in Afghanistan Aircraft Crash.


KABUL, Afghanistan — Six U.S. soldiers were killed in a helicopter crash in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, NATO said, the largest death toll in a single incident to hit the international force in months.

“The cause of the crash is under investigation; however, initial reporting indicates there was no enemy activity in the area at the time,” a NATO statement said.

U.S. defense officials said the soldiers killed in the crash, which occurred in Afghanistan’s southern Zabul province, were American. One person survived the crash but suffered injuries.

Zabul’s deputy governor, Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar, said a crash had taken place in the Shah Joy district of Zabul.

A Taliban spokesman claimed on Twitter that Taliban militants had shot down a helicopter on Tuesday in the same district. The Taliban often claims responsibility for incidents in which it is not involved.

Aircraft crashes are not uncommon in mountainous Afghanistan.

The worst such incident was in August 2011 when the Taliban shot down a transport helicopter, killing all 38 people on board, including 25 U.S. special operations soldiers.

The Pentagon said that about 67,000 NATO-led troops remain in Afghanistan, including about 43,000 from the United States. Foreign forces are looking to curtail their decade-long fight there.

The United States continues to press Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign a bilateral security deal that would allow Washington to keep some troops in Afghanistan beyond the end of next year.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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