Afghanistan: How Many People Must Die For Trump To End The War

More than 2,000 people have died from combat during the U.S. 'reconstruction' of Afghanistan.

While U.S. President Donald Trump claims that the end of the war in Afghanistan is near, without making any real decision to do so, a recent report shows that more than 2,000 people died from combat during the U.S. 'reconstruction' of the Asian nation.

RELATED: US Deceived Public on War in Afghanistan: Documents Reveal

The reconstruction and stabilization missions carried out by the United States on Afghan territory have caused more than 2,200 deaths and more than 2,900 injuries from 17 April 2002 to 31 December 2018, according to a report by the Special General Inspectorate for the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (SIGAR).

Also, of the total number of deaths, 1,578 were Afghans, 284 were U.S citizens, another 100 were military personnel from international coalition countries and 124 were third-country nationals.

According to SIGAR, another 1,182 people were kidnaped or are missing, most of whom are also Afghan nationals (1,004 people).

These figures are in addition to casualties in actual fighting with the Taliban and other militant groups, in re-supply missions or attacks on the Afghan government and military forces, and others not related to "reconstruction" activities.

In his triumphalist State of the Union speech on February 4, Trump spoke of ending the longest war in U.S. history and said that the U.S. military has made progress in Afghanistan and peace negotiations with the Taliban militant group are underway. But facts point to another direction.

The U.S. still has approximately 13,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and has not made any decision to return them to the U.S.

The U.S. pretext for starting a war against Afghanistan was to capture and kill the leader of the Islamist group al-Qaeda, responsible for the attack on the Twin Towers in New York, on September 11, 2001, where almost 3,000 people died.

However, although the terrorist Bin Laden was found in Pakistan and killed in the year 2011, U.S. troops and their NATO allies maintained the lost fight against the resurgence of the Taliban.

The U.S. President promised a withdrawal during the 2016 election campaign, only to give in publicly to pressure from the Washington establishment. And this time the empty words are repeated, in a clear attempt to get him re-elected next November.
Trump is the one who dictates the foreign policy of the United States. In one fell swoop, every American soldier now on Afghan soil can return home. How many more flag-wrapped coffins must return from Afghanistan before Trump stops delaying the inevitable?
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"American Taliban" John Walker Lindh Released From Prison: Reports

Washington: John Walker Lindh, the US Muslim convert who came to be known as the "American Taliban" after being captured while fighting in Afghanistan in 2001, was released from prison Thursday after serving 17 years, US media reported.

CNN and The Washington Post reported his early morning release from the federal high security prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, citing his lawyer, Bill Cummings.

Cummings told CNN that 38-year-old Lindh, still suspected by some of harboring radical Islamic views, will settle in Virginia under strict probation terms that limit his ability to go online or contact any other Islamists.

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2018 Single-Deadliest Year For Afghan Civilians, UN Reports

Civilian deaths increased by 11 percent, as a string of bombings and suicide attacks annihilated a country already in the midst of war.

In a report released Sunday by the U.N., more civilians were killed in the Afghan war in 2018 than during any other year on record after nearly two decades of fighting.

RELATED: UN Report: 2,798 Afghan Civilians Killed in 2018, Up 39%

U.N. officials said that, despite peace talks progressing, the war in Afghanistan killed almost 4,000 civilians in 2018, including a record number of children, making it the single deadliest year for Afghan civilians since the United Nations began documenting casualties a decade ago.

The report suggested that Islamic militant groups were responsible for almost two-thirds of civilian casualties — 63 percent, to insurgent groups, primarily the Taliban and the Islamic State.

Afghan and American forces were responsible for 24 percent; 14 percent by Afghan national security forces, six percent by American forces and four percent by government-backed armed groups. 

AFP reports that civilian deaths jumped by 11 percent from 2017 with 3,804 people killed and another 7,189 wounded, according to the UN figures, as suicide attacks and bombings decimated the already war-torn country.

The report was released as the next round of peace talks between U.S. and Taliban negotiators, are scheduled for Monday in Doha, Qatar, 

In a statement, the United Nations secretary general’s special representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, called the figures “deeply disturbing and wholly unacceptable.”

Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, called the record number of children killed “particularly shocking.”

Tadamichi said it best when he issued a resolution to the horrendous situation, "It is time to put an end to this human misery and tragedy,"  ​​​

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US Withdrawal Of Troops In Afghanistan Raises Big Questions

The 17-year-old US war in Afghanistan took a new turn last week when President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal of 7,000 American troops from the country.

Trump has long questioned the utility of US involvement in Afghanistan, seeing it as a wasteful expense - and a conflict without a clear victory strategy. The White House decision was followed by the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who had pushed for continued US engagement in Afghanistan.

Here are three questions about how the troop drawdown may affect the situation in Afghanistan.

What happens now to the peace talks with the Afghan Taliban?

The drawdown risks undermining the nascent peace process between the United States and the Afghan Taliban, ultimately making it more difficult for the US government to leave the country on its terms. In 2018, US diplomats worked to persuade the Afghan Taliban to come to the negotiating table. For much of the year, the Afghan Taliban remained unwilling to talk.

Scholars of civil war suggest that rebels prefer fighting over negotiations when external state support and illicit economies make them confident of their military prospects - criteria which the Taliban meet. This past week, the Taliban came around to some preliminary talks but refused to speak to the Afghan government.

The Taliban's long-held strategy has been to erode the US government's resolve to stay in Afghanistan. Even with 14,000 American troops fighting alongside Afghan security forces, the Taliban inflicted sustained losses on Afghan forces, retaining control of large parts of the country and challenging key urban centers.

With only half as many US troops remaining in the country, the Afghan Taliban may press home their advantage by accelerating the pace of attacks. The reduction in force level could now give the Taliban confidence that their strategy is working and that a full withdrawal of US forces is a reasonable expectation.

The drawdown, in fact, might have been a potential US bargaining chip on the negotiating table with the Afghan Taliban. But the White House decision was out of sync with the negotiations. It appears to have undercut the US diplomat leading the negotiations with the Taliban, Zalmay Khalilzad, who was trying to signal that "American commitment was firm."

Will Afghanistan see domestic political realignment and renewed danger of a civil war?

The US drawdown risks triggering serious domestic political realignments in Afghanistan, destabilizing the political structure underlying the US-backed regime. Senior Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai observes that Afghan political elites are comparing the modern period to the chaos following the 1989 Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Back then, the government of Prime Minister Mohammad Najibullah, after losing its great power patron, rapidly lost ground as warlords and armed groups wrestled for control.

Those memories, combined with the state of the Taliban insurgency, may prompt domestic players to prepare for the worst-case scenario - a multiparty civil war. Some leaders may mobilize their ethnic bases of support while stepping up the process of arming themselves. Others may reach out to their foreign patrons and seek direct material support. These political realignments may increase the already high rate of defections from rank-and-file Afghan security forces.

Such realignments pose a threat to the faltering coalition of President Ashraf Ghani, who announced he will seek re-election in the April presidential election. The worsening security situation combined with elite squabbling may make an election more improbable.

And will terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, stand to gain?

The drawdown can help Afghanistan-based terrorist groups intent on attacking the United States, specifically al-Qaida. In 2015, battered by the US drone war in Pakistan, al-Qaida revived some operations in Afghanistan, using its South Asia franchise, al-Qaida in the Indian subcontinent.

The US government claims al-Qaida's strength in Afghanistan remains checked. My field research, however, suggests that al-Qaida still has a serious skeleton capability in the region, specifically in eastern provinces like Paktika, which it is actively trying to rebuild.

Reduction of US forces is likely to ease existing military pressures on al-Qaida - and give it more space to rebuild for local and external operations. Al-Qaida may be able to allocate more resources in support of the Afghan Taliban's military campaign. And it may be able to better marshal the capability needed for a major international terrorism operation.

The pressure on al-Qaida might be sustained if Afghan intelligence agencies can substitute for the US intelligence infrastructure that will fold with the drawdown. A surge in offshore US capabilities, like aerial surveillance and communication interception, and armed striking platforms such as drones could enable the US government to manage al-Qaida's threat.

But Afghan intelligence suffers from defections and rampant corruption, and has struggled to provide high-quality support to the US government. In addition, any meaningful increase in aerial and communication surveillance across Afghanistan will be costly. These expenditures may not be a priority in a White House with a stated goal of reducing US military deployment expenses.

That doesn't mean al-Qaida will be able to mount a major attack in the United States. Even with a robust external operations infrastructure, al-Qaida will struggle to execute an attack inside the United States because of the layers of US counterterrorism vigilance. However, the availability of a relatively conducive safe haven in Afghanistan can improve al-Qaida's ability to train recruits and plot the group's next moves.

The situation in Afghanistan was grim as is. The unexpected drawdown adds to the complexity of a difficult situation. And it adds to the woes of Afghan civilians who have been caught up in the web of internal conflict for four decades.

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Dozens dead and injured after massive blast rocks Kabul (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

A suicide bomb attack in Kabul early Sunday has reportedly left at least 35 people dead and 40 others injured, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish has confirmed. The number of casualties is expected to rise, according to an official.

Earlier, the health ministry reported at least 2 dead and six injured in the explosion.

Pictures purportedly showing the blast’s devastation have been circulating on social media.

The Taliban has already claimed responsibility for the attack, Reuters reports.

@tabishkafili An explosion has occurred in western neighborhood of but no reports yet of casualties or cause pic.twitter.com/cxRBsLeLcF

@tabishkafili More Photos of Blast pic.twitter.com/SMq26C29o4

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DFeDr6JXkAA8zSn.jpg

The explosion is said to have happened near the house of Mohammad Mohaqiq, an MP and founder and chairman of the  People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan.

Mohaqiq is also the second deputy of Chief Executive of Afghanistan, Abdullah Abdullah.

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80 Dead, 350 Injured in Kabul Blast

Health ministry spokesman Ismael Kawoosi said: "They are still bringing bodies and wounded people to hospitals."

A powerful vehicle bomb has hit the diplomatic area of the Kabul.

RELATED: Blast Kill 8 near U.S. Embassy in Kabul

The blast reportedly claimed the lives of at least 80 people and injured another 350.

Civilians are said to make up a large number of the casualties. The bomb, which struck near the German embassy in Zanbaq Square, was so strong it blew out windows and doors hundreds of meters away. It detonated in the diplomatic quarter at about 08:25 local time during rush hour.

Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid, told Reuters that the explosion had taken place close to the German embassy but added it was "hard to say what the exact target is." Since there are many other important buildings in the area, including the presidential palace and a number of embassies.

Improvized ambulances transported the wounded away from the scene, as frantic relatives gathered at the site to try to locate loved ones.

Images of the area showed dozens of charred vehicles among the more than 50 that were reportedly destroyed. Health ministry spokesman Ismael Kawoosi said: "They are still bringing bodies and wounded people to hospitals." The interior ministry has called on residents to donate blood, saying there was a "dire need."

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said he "strongly condemned the cowardly attack in the holy month of Ramadan targeting innocent civilians in their daily life".

Indian PM Narendra Modi also tweeted his condemnation, saying: "Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured."

RELATED: The Afghans Are Coming!

The Taliban and the Islamic State are the main suspects. However, the Taliban promptly issued a statement denying any involvement, while the Islamic State remains mum.

The IS claimed last month's suicide bomb attack on the Nato convoy near the U.S. embassy, which killed eight civilians.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban condemned untargeted attacks that caused civilian casualties. Their spring offensive detailed that their main focus would be foreign forces, targeting them with a mix of conventional, guerrilla, insider and suicide attacks.

The U.S. has approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan and 5,000 Nato allies.

Recent Kabul attacks

8 March 2017 - More than 30 people killed after attackers dressed as doctors stormed Sardar Daud Khan military hospital

21 Nov 2016 - At least 27 dead in a suicide bomb attack on Baqir ul Olum mosque during a Shia ceremony

23 July 2016 - At least 80 people killed in twin bomb blasts targeting a rally by the Shia Hazara minority in Deh Mazang square

19 Apr 2016 - At least 28 dead in a huge explosion close to the Afghan defence ministry building

1 Feb 2016 - 20 killed in a suicide bomb attack at police headquarters

7 Aug 2015 - At least 35 people dead in separate bomb attacks across the capital

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Taliban Storm German Consulate in Afghanistan, Kill Six

A local source said the blast and subsequent firefight also wounded 120 people and caused extensive damage to neighboring buildings.

Taliban militants stormed the German consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, killing at least six people, none of them diplomatic staff, officials said on Friday.

RELATED: Obama Orders Expansion of US War in Afghanistan

Extremists rammed the outer wall of the diplomatic building with a truck bomb before battling security forces during the night.

A local source said the blast and subsequent firefight also wounded 120 people, causing extensive damage to neighboring buildings and shattered windows as far as 3 miles away, a NATO spokesman said.

The Taliban said the attack was in retaliation for NATO airstrikes against a village near the northern city of Kunduz last week in which more than 30 people, many of them children, were killed.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his country would review its lead role in the international mission in northern Afghanistan, where violence has escalated sharply during 2016.

RELATED: As UN Probes US Afghan Attack Obama Requests More Money for War

The Taliban overthrew the Afghan government in 1996 and ruled for five years, applying oppressive policies against the people of Afghanistan, especially women, and adopting an extremist interpretation of Islamic law.

The Taliban ousted following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, and since then the extremist group has resorted to insurgent warfare against foreign troops as a means to wrest back power.

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US Drone Strike Kills 18 in Afghanistan, Possibly Civilians

Civilians casualties in U.S. air strikes against Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan have long been a source of friction between the allies.

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed 18 people on Wednesday, with confusion as to whether those killed were militants or civilians.

RELATED: How the Islamic State Gained Power in Afghanistan

Civilians casualties in U.S. air strikes against Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan have long been a source of friction between the allies who have been fighting since 2001 to end militant opposition to the government in Kabul.

The strike in Nangarhar province, on the eastern border with Pakistan, killed 18 people, 15 of them militants and three civilians,according to Mohammed Ali, police chief of Achin district where the attack occurred.

"They were in a house to visit someone who had just come from the Hajj pilgrimage," he said. "A drone targeted the house and killed most of them."

Provincial police spokesman Hazrat Hussain Mashriqiwal said several Islamic State group leaders had been killed, but he denied there were any noncombatants among the victims.

Islamic State group has enticed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan to join, and it holds some territory in Nangarhar.

But it has not been able to expand its influence in Afghanistan beyond a few districts and the Taliban remain the dominant Islamist force.

A spokesman for the U.S. military command in Kabul confirmed that U.S. forces conducted a "counter-terrorism" air strike in Achin, but would not discuss the details of the target.

Determining which victims were civilians and which were militants would not be possible until an investigation was complete, said Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

Thousands of U.S. troops remain in Afghanistan, with many recent air strikes and special operations missions aimed at Islamic State group in Nangarhar, as well as helping Afghan forces in their fight against the Taliban in various parts of the country.

Between January and August this year, U.S. aircraft released more than 800 weapons and flew more than 3,500 close air support missions in Afghanistan, according to U.S. military reports.

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