Reply to Obama’s State of Union Speech

~~~

from the website of Hamid Karzai, President of Afghanistan

~~~

January 29, 2014

In his State of the Union Address to the American nation, President Obama reaffirmed his country’s commitment to a unified Afghanistan.

President Karzai welcomed these remarks, which indeed is a reaffirmation of Afghanistan’s long-standing position and called it in the good interest of the two countries’ bilateral relations. 

As any timeline for signing the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) was put aside in the address, the President called it positive and believes that the two countries can work together with patience and due diligence in helping Afghanistan’s peace process to start.

President Karzai urges that it is time now to put an end to the negative propaganda against Afghanistan.

The President stresses that it is peace that assures a country’s stability, progress and unity, and it is for this reason that Afghanistan considers the effective and public launch of the peace process as the key prerequisite for signing the BSA.

~~~

http://president.gov.af/en/news/28802

~~~

Advertisements

Shrapnel From Afghanistan III

kianpakistan-0441

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #20

Despite Pakistan’s assertion that the Taliban had solid Afghan roots, these had atrophied over time and would be hard to rebuild.  Taliban ideology was more Pakistani than Afghan, and while its popularity surged in Pakistan’s NWFP, fewer Afghans saw it as a model for the future.  Its Pakistani-based leadership could not wage an insurgency without the recruits, bases, and safe refuge it had access to there.  If Pakistan ever reversed its policy of support, as it did to Mullah Omar in 2001, the insurgency in Afghanistan would be dealt a fatal blow…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #21

The Taliban’s condemnation of the Karzai regime as subservient to the United States looked hypocritical in light of their own subservience to Pakistani interests…

~~~

pict58

~~~

excerpts from the book

Afghanistan

A Cultural and Political History

by Thomas Barfield

2010

~~~

afghan_map_cop_keating

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #22

Afghanistan had always been the “other war” under the Bush administration, starved of resources, attention, and troops in favor of Iraq.  By mid-2009 that status was reversed.  The number of casualties and war costs in Afghanistan exceeded those in Iraq for the first time.  The first surge of seventeen thousand U.S. troops was designed to both provide greater security for the Afghan election in August 2009 and lay the foundation of a new counterinsurgency strategy.  That strategy was confirmed in December when after months of deliberation, President Obama announced the dispatch of another thirty thousand additional troops to Afghanistan, putting U.S. forces over the one hundred thousand mark in 2010.  The planned size of the Afghan army and police was also greatly increased…

~~~

kamdesh_136

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #23

Afghanistan was the only place in the region that the United States had a direct presence that could prevent the reconsolidation of Islamic extremists, and serve as a base for responses to potential state collapse in the surrounding countries of central Asia and Pakistan.  And the fear that nuclear-armed Pakistan might either disintegrate in the face of an Islamist insurgency or that its government could be seized by a radicalized military faction that supported the insurgency’s cause gave a U.S. presence in Afghanistan even more importance.  As had many foreign powers before it, the United States found its Afghan policy as much driven by events in south and central Asia as those within Afghanistan itself…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #24

Qandahar in the south, Mazar in the north, Kabul in the east, and Herat in the west, remain the leading cities that dominate their own large regions in Afghanistan…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #25

Both the United States and India have given priority to eliminating the power of radical Islamists, and hence are more in sympathy with each other than either is with Pakistan.  Such an alliance, if it were to occur, would mark the end of the cold war legacy that has undergirded U.S. support of Pakistan for more than a half century…

~~~

1318515281-kabul-university-students-protest-in-kabul-afghanistan_871574

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #26

Pride in the past is no bar to change in the future.  Perhaps the best recent example of this was the Pashtun leader, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, in the NWFP.  Inspired by Mohandas Gandhi, he founded the nonviolent Khudai Khitmatgar (“Servants of God”).  After taking an oath to foreswear violence, retaliation, and revenge, its eight thousand members divided into trained regiments, and devoted themselves to village improvement, education, and reform.  They also led the resistance to British rule in the region in which hundreds of their members lost their lives in nonviolent protests in the 1930s.  When the British left India, Ghaffar Khan remained a gadfly.  He was jailed by the Pakistani government in the 1960s when he protested against military dictators there.  That such a nonviolent movement could emerge and thrive in a culture that had raised revenge to a holy principle should caution anyone against believing that people or cultures are forever prisoners of the past.  It also stands as a challenge to the Afghans themselves to take the lead in breaking the cycle of violence that has generated so much suffering for so little benefit for far too long.

~~~

edited by Rawclyde!

~~~

Afghaneeland Adventure Series

SHEENA_01_007p_col_2

~

verse

starring Col. Sheena Johnson & Capt’n Chuck Fiddler

by

Rawclyde

!

~

prologue

The New Cartoon Afghaneeland

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2013/10/29/the-new-cartoon-afghaneeland

~

episode one

The Legend Of Col. Sheena Johnson

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2013/11/08/the-legend-of-colonel-sheena-johnson

~

episode two

Col. Johnson Wakes Up In Pluckame

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2013/11/17/col-johnson-wakes-up-in-pluckame

~

episode three

The Colonel’s Arrow Hits Its Mark

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/the-colonels-arrow-hits-its-mark

~

episode four

Afterglow

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/afterglow

~

episode five

Sheena Time!

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2013/12/27/sheena-time

~

episode six

She Who Is Obeyed

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/she-who-is-obeyed

~

episode seven

Col. Johnson & The Holy War

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/col-johnson-the-holy-war

~

episode eight

Blue Burqa Destiny

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/blue-burqa-destiny

~

episode nine

The Strange Reality Of Afghaneeland

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/the-strange-reality-of-afghaneeland

~

episode ten

Lament For Long-Gone Col. Johnson

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/long-gone-col-johnson-lament

~

episode eleven

Capt’n Chuck Fiddler

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/captn-chuck-fiddler

~

episode twelve

Burqa Time

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/02/10/burqa-time

~

episode thirteen

Dervish Whirl

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/dervish-whirl

~

episode fourteen

Taliban Polka

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/taliban-polka

~

episode fifteen

Mosque

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/03/09/mosque

~

episode sixteen

Vagina Envy

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/vagina-envy

~

episode seventeen

Voting-Card Envy

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/voting-card-envy

~

episode eighteen

Capt’n Fiddler’s Afghanistan Vision

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/03/20/captn-chuck-fiddlers-afghanistan-vision

~

episode nineteen

Reinforcements Arrive At Pluckame

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/reinforcements-arrive-at-pluckame

~

episode twenty

Interlude

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/04/18/interlude

~

episode twenty-one

Taliban Focus

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/taliban-focus

~

episode twenty-two

Battle Aftermath In Afghaneeland

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/04/26/battle-aftermath-in-afghaneeland

~

episode twenty-three

Capt’n Fiddler Parachutes Into Pluckame

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/05/02/fiddler-parachutes-into-pluckame

~

episode twenty-four

A New Breed In The Village

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/05/08/a-new-breed-in-the-village

~

episode twenty-five

Capt’n Fiddler’s Crash Landing

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/captn-fiddlers-crash-landing

~

photo story

Hobnobbers Going Going Gone

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/05/14/hobnobbers-going-going-gone

~

episode twenty-six

Coma

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/05/19/coma

~

episode twenty-seven

Coma II (Taliban Brains)

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/coma-ii

~

episode twenty-eight

Coma III

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/coma-iii

~

episode twenty-nine

Rug Rats

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/06/10/rug-rats

~

photo story

Capt’n Fiddler’s Sufi Bubble

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/captn-fiddlers-sufi-bubble

~

episode thirty

Floating Low Floating High

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/07/02/floating-low-floating-high

~

episode thirty-one

Floating Above Afghanistan

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/floating-above-afghanistan

~

episode thirty-two

Sufi Arrows

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/07/09/sufi-arrows-from-above

~

episode thirty-three

Flying Booger

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/flying-bugger

~

episode thirty-four

An Order From Col. Sheena Johnson

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/an-order-from-col-sheena-johnson

~

episode thirty-five

Commander

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/08/02/commander

~

episode thirty-six

Transformation

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/transformation

~

episode thirty-seven

The Elder Inside The Sufi Bubble

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/the-elder-inside-the-sufi-bubble

~

episode thirty-eight

Hymn Hope

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/09/12/hymn-hope

~

episode thirty-nine

Sheena’s Teepee

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/sheenas-teepee

~

episode forty

Ants

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/ants-2

~

Pop!

https://oldtimerchronicle2.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/pop

~

art above

Sheena: Queen of The Jungle

by Matt Merhoff

~

yours

truly

Also rawclyde's infinity machine...

Rawclyde

!

Shrapnel From Afghanistan II

article-2078187-0f43b3d600000578-543_634x4201

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #9

The presence of international forces and outside aid had ended the civil war.  Millions of refugees had rapidly returned from exile in Iran and Pakistan.  A political process for creating and ratifying a constitution had run smoothly, allowing the popular election of a national leader, Hamid Karzai, for the first time in Afghan history.  On the other hand, the military and financial resources allocated to the country were grossly inadequate to provide security and improve one of the world’s lowest standards of living.  The large sums of money pledged for reconstruction first raised the expectations of ordinary Afghans to unreasonable levels, but as the years passed people had a right to be disappointed by how little was being accomplished at such great expense.  Worse, project priorities were set by the funders, not the Afghans, so they rightly questioned the wisdom of building schools and hospitals without teachers and doctors to staff them, or repairing roads with foreign labor while local people remained unemployed…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #10

The high point of the constitutional process came with the successful presidential election in October 2004.  While there had been parliamentary elections in the past, this was the first time in Afghan history that a national leader had ever sought electoral approval.  Karzai was therefore keen to see elections held quickly once the constitution had been approved despite the concerns of international critics, who doubted the ability of the Afghans to organize the balloting and feared that the elections would be marred by violence.  The Afghan people instead seemed genuinely motivated by the election process and turned out in large numbers, including a relatively high participation by women.  Opponents of the Karzai regime, including the Taliban, failed to disrupt the process, in part because it had such popular support.  Despite many irregularities the election was deemed relatively fair…

tribal-elders-gather-near-pakistan-border-eastern-afghanistan-20071

~~~

excerpts from the book

Afghanistan

A Cultural and Political History

by Thomas Barfield

2010

~~~

fighting_holes

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #11

The U.S invasion that expelled the Taliban and al Qaeda from Afghanistan created an odd circumstance in its wake.  The usual priority among the Afghans of expelling foreign invaders was replaced by a tacit strategy of keeping them there to guarantee security and finance the development of the country.  This was because the Afghan population was looking for stability after decades of war and protection against predation by factions within Afghanistan as well as from neighbors seeking to exploit its weaknesses…

~~~

image

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #12

The new NATO command would take responsibility for all of Afghanistan except for the east, where the United States would retain direct control…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #13

 Later in the summer, British and Canadian troops deployed to Helmand and Qandahar confronted a well-armed and full-blown insurgency led by a reinvigorated Taliban…

~~~

cop-keating

U.S. Army outpost

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #14

There was also trouble in eastern Afghanistan, which experienced a sharp rise in cross-border attacks from Pakistan’s autonomous tribal territories, where al Queda and Taliban forces were becoming dominant…

~~~

pict49

U.S. Army outpost

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #15

Indeed, the strongest base for Islamists inside eastern Afghanistan was not among the Pashtuns but instead among the more remote Nuristanis in the high mountains northwest of Jalalabad…

~~~

bundermann-romesha-larson

A foreign presence in Afghanistan

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #16

Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami was the best known of those factions opposing a foreign presence in Afghanistan.  It was most influential in the provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, and Nuristan.  The lack of early U.S. resistance to Hekmatyar allowed Hizb-i-Islami forces to take control of many villages in mountainous Nuristan, where they linked up with al Qaeda forces on the Pakistan side of the border.  Despite Hekmatyar’s radical rhetoric, some members of his party joined the Kabul government, and Hekmatyar hinted at a willingness to cooperate if Karzai ceded enough power to him.  A more radical insurgency based on Pastun tribal networks arose further to the south in the provinces of Paktia, Paktika, and Khost that straddled the frontier with Pakistan’s FATA.  Commanded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, a prominent resistance commander against the Soviets, its greatest influence was among the resident Pashtun tribes, particularly Haqqani’s own Zadran people in Afghanistan and FATA’s north Waziristan, where he had his headquarters.  Hazzani’s influence extended well beyond the frontier.  His network orchestrated the majority of terrorist attacks in Kabul itself (at the behest of Pakistan’s ISI, according to the Afghans).  His faction also included many foreign fighters and was closer to al Qaeda than Hekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami…

~~~

nuristan-donkeys-follow-the-kunar-river-south1

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #17

The largest and most intense insurgency was centered in Qandahar and Helmand provinces, and led by Mullah Omar’s Taliban…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #18

The absence of any earlier economic development left the region dependent on an illicit opium economy.  This provided the Taliban with a revenue source to tax and gave them allies among those benefiting from the illicit trade.  In the absence of any significant international military presence, the Taliban were able to regroup unimpeded in any area they knew well for at least two years before NATO troops were deployed to confront them…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #19

While the Musharif government proved willing to hunt down foreign al Qaeda members, Pakistan still saw the Taliban as allies, and had not abandoned its goal of controlling Afghanistan through a Taliban regime or faction in the Afghan govern- ment when the United States withdrew…

~~~

Lament for Long-Gone Col. Johnson

cannibal_bikini_by_kynokefalos-d68m8r5

Col. Sheena Johnson

~~~

by

Rawclyde

!

~~~

I try to report what is true

Read ‘tween the lines of stories I find

Look for photos that do not lie

Bumble & stumble around the distant war

~

From an easy chair thousands of miles away

My penetration is shallow indeed

Will peace get forged one way or another in that far away land

Does anyone in America know ~ Afghanistan?

~

My infinity machine doesn’t always work right

And flying saucers are so undependable

Every time I think I’ve landed on that nation’s sand

I end up in a ridiculous bubble ~ called Afghaneeland

~

I lost the most beautiful woman on the planet Earth

Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

In the mirage-brimming bubble of Afghaneeland

A blue burqa dangling from my trembling hand

!

~~~

(Text Copyright Clyde Collins 2014)

~~~

afghanistan02

Afghaneeland

The Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II

~~~

top photo:

Cannibal Bikini by Kynokefalos

http://www.deviantart.com/artisan/?q=+kynokefalos

~~~

bottom photo

courtesy of U.S. Army

http://www.goarmy.com

~~~

Shrapnel From Afghanistan I

Afghan Shrapnel

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #1

The campaign against the Kafirs, an ancient society that still maintained its pagan religion in mountainous eastern Afghanistan, was fought mostly for symbolic reasons.  Abdur Rahman, the amir of Afghanistan, had been portraying himself as a paragon of Islamic leadership, and the opportunity to engage in a war against true (and relatively powerless) infidels was too good to pass up.  He also feared that if he did not assert his direct control there, the British or Russians might do so.  A winter campaign in 1895 when the region was snowbound led to a quick victory.  Unlike the incitement to violence in the Hazara campaign, the amir prohibited the enslavement of prisoners or the pillaging of property.  The mass conversion of the region went quickly, and the region was renamed Nuristan, which means “Land of Light”…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #2

During the 1960s, the economic and social development of Afghanistan accel-erated at the fastest pace that the country had every known as it opened itself more to the outside world, ending the severe isolation first imposed by Abdur Rahman…

~~~

Afghan Shrapnel 2

~~~

excerpts from the book

Afghanistan

A Cultural and Political History

by Thomas Barfield

2010

~~~

Hit By US -  Nareng Afghanistan - 4 yrs ago

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #3

Also, in the 1960s, Kabul University became a particular hotbed of political radicalism, spreading among the disaffected.  Advanced educational opportunities drew talented youths from the countryside; they were introduced to new ideas, new opportunities, and each other at the university.  After graduation, they stayed in the capital whether or not they found employment because it was the country’s primary city, overshadowing everywhere else.  Radical politics flourished in Kabul with secret societies formed to seek the overthrow of Afghanistan’s social and political order.  At opposite ends of the spectrum, the two most important actors were the Islamists and the Communists, who often clashed violently on campus and in the streets of Kabul…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #4

The Soviets assumed that they could begin withdrawing their troops after a few months when order was restored.  Instead, the intervention marked the beginning of a decade-long occupation that would result in the death of one million Afghans, the flight of four million refugees to Pakistan and Iran, and the displacement of millions of others internally…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #5

The United States had financed a war to bloody the Soviets, and achieved that result.  The Saudis had paid for a war to expel an infidel occupier, who was now gone.  Only Pakistan saw benefits from further fighting because it desperately wanted to dominate Afghanistan’s postwar government…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #6

Chaos in the south led to the rise of the Taliban in 1994, a religious movement led by clerics from Qandahar that pledged to restore order in the name of Islam…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #7

The Taliban seized Kabul in 1996 and by 1999 controlled all of Afghanistan, except the northeast…

~~~

Historic Shrapnel #8

The Taliban granted training bases to various international jihadists groups with whom they shared common values, such as Osama bin Ladin’s al Qaeda.  The cost of this cooperation proved fatal when al Qaeda operatives attacked New York and Washington, DC, on September 11, 200l.  Before the year was out, the United States and its coalition allies expelled the Taliban from Afghanistan, and helped establish a new government in Kabul…

Afghan Shrapnel

~~~

U.S. Congress Cuts Afghan Aid

~~~

by Missy Ryan

REUTERS

January 21, 2014

~~~

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration is considering ways to ensure future financial assistance for Afghanistan after U.S. lawmakers halved development aid to the country.

In a massive spending bill signed into law on Friday by President Barack Obama, lawmakers provided $1.12 billion to Afghanistan for fiscal 2014 for overall civilian assistance, a 50 percent reduction from the previous fiscal year. It was still unclear, however, how much aid the country would actually receive for 2014.

U.S. officials said they were looking at the details of the bill, and would also explore if they could use unspent money from the previous year or from elsewhere in the budget to increase the amount of funding for Afghanistan.

“While overall levels for the major civilian assistance accounts have been reduced, the bill itself does not include any specific cap for Afghanistan,” an official at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said on condition of anonymity.

“Over the next few months, we will finalize bilateral assistance totals for the fiscal year,” using a summary that accompanied the legislation as a guide, the official said.

The summary also suggests that USAID and the State Department could supplement the $1.12 billion with unspent funds from fiscal 2013, but it was not immediately clear how much flexibility that might give them.

“While everyone was expecting a cut, no one was expecting it to be 50 percent. That sets a dangerous precedent that might be hard to reverse in coming years,” said Andrew Wilder, who directs Afghanistan and Pakistan programs at the U.S. Institute of Peace and spent years working in the region.

USAID, which along with the State Department administers development and assistance programs overseas, had asked for $1.67 billion for Afghanistan in the administration’s budget request for fiscal 2014. The overall aid request for fiscal 2014 for Afghanistan was $2.19 billion, according to U.S. officials.

A major cut in U.S. assistance could endanger plans to continue health, education, farming and other aid programs in the desperately poor country. It could also stoke uncertainty as the United States and other NATO countries move to end their long war in Afghanistan, and as Washington seeks an agreement that would permit some U.S. forces to stay there beyond 2014.

The reduction sends a signal to other donor nations, which gathered in Tokyo in 2012 to announce their intentions to provide aid to Afghanistan for years to come. While the United States did not pledge a specific amount for future aid, it promised to seek aid near current levels of just over $2 billion at least through 2015.

Wilder said the administration may not be able to provide much more than the $1.12 billion that lawmakers earmarked for Afghanistan, at least in part because levels of global civilian aid have already been set. “I think (the administration) might be trying to put a brave face on things because they don’t want to alarm Afghans,” Wilder said.

The sharp reduction in aid reflects frustration in Congress with State and USAID’s management of assistance to Afghanistan, and with the Afghan government itself. Aid programs have been plagued by reports of waste and fraud since 2001.

Administration officials have been unusually candid in voicing their frustration with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign a bilateral agreement that would enable the United States to keep a modest force in Afghanistan beyond this year, even after Afghan elders approved the deal.

“U.S. policymakers should be careful not to punish the Afghan people, or undermine U.S. strategic interests in Afghanistan, based on their frustrations with an Afghan president who should be stepping down following presidential elections in less than three months,” Wilder said.

National elections in April could bring Afghanistan a new leader for the first time since 2001.

U.S. lawmakers have expressed concern that oversight of U.S. assistance would become even more difficult as troops withdraw, and if security further deteriorates.

In the same bill, in response to those concerns, lawmakers provided funding for the inspector general offices at State and USAID and for the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan (SIGAR) at the level requested by the administration.

The inspector general offices at the State Department and USAID and SIGAR conduct reviews of U.S.-funded programs overseas, with the goal of ensuring U.S. taxpayers’ money is not misspent.

~~~

The Weapons of Islam

slice one of sufi tale by greenviggen

~~~

We who are in Islam must remember that Allah is our only helper every second, every minute, every hour, every time of prayer.  Allah is our Ruler, the Ruler of Grace, the One who is Love, the Compassionate One, the One who calls us back to Him, the One who questions us, and the One who judges us.  His grace exists in all lives, concealed in a tiny piece of flesh within the innermost heart.  Just as the flesh of the tongue knows taste, just as the flesh of the nose perceives smell and the flesh of the ear hears sound and the flesh of the eye perceives light ~ like that, there is a tiny piece of flesh in the heart which worships Allah, looks at Him, hears Him, and prays to Him.

This is the throne of the true believer.  This is where Allah dwells.  This is His throne within the innermost heart, from which He rules and dispenses justice…

~~~

a-slice-of-sufi

~~~

My brothers, you must quench the thirst of all lives.  You must try to heal the sufferings of the world.  This is the mercy and compassion of all the universes, the wealth that has been given to mankind, and we who have faith must strive to offer it to all.  We should not carry a sword in our hands; we should hold patience in our hearts.  We should not arm ourselves with guns; we should be armed with contentment.  We should not put our trust in battles; we should have trust in God.  We should not cling to the world; we should cling to the praise of God.  These are the true weapons of Islam…

~~~

a-slice-of-sufi-2

~~~

The Prophet had no warlike qualities.  He had only the qualities of patience, contentment, trust in God, and praise of God.  If those qualities are reestablished in each heart, if they flourish and grow there, then Islam will become a vast, protective canopy for the world.

If everyone in the community of Islam understood this and tried to establish peace, tolerance, and patience, that alone would bring peace to the world.  The weapons of peace and tranquility will grant us victory no matter what enmity, what hostility, threatens us.  We must realize this, my brothers in Islam.  If we do, we will triumph in all three worlds, in the primal beginning, this world, and the hereafter.

In the name of Allah and His Messenger, I beg you to forgive me if anything I have said is wrong.  Please forgive me if I have made any mistakes.  I am only telling you what came to my heart.  I am only telling you what I understand in my innermost heart…

~~~

a_sufi_tale_by_greenviggen-d2yv8hv1-e1390417374259

~~~

from the book

Islam & World Peace ~ Explanations Of A Sufi

by Muhammad Raheem Bawa Muhaiyaddeen

1987

~~~

art

A Sufi Tale

by GreenViggen

~~~

library-lizard-horned-toad-horned-lizard-bronze-sculpture-art-prescott-arizona-book-cat-public-monument-reading-e1389296539124

presented

by

The Great Horned Toad

~~~

Taliban Reject U.S. Peace Pipe

cdcf8652-bae2-4a32-8bcd-ab551679b189

~~~

Written by Bill Roggio

The Long War Journal

January 19, 2014

~~~

A top spokesman for the Afghan Taliban rejected the US’ call for the group to “put down their arms and begin peace talks,” a request that was made just one day after a Taliban suicide assault team killed 21 people, including two Americans, at a restaurant in Kabul.

“We strongly reject the American demand,” Zabihullah Mujahid, an official Taliban spokesman, said in an email sent to The Long War Journal. Mujahid’s statement was also published on the Taliban’s website, Voice of Jihad.

“America wants to turn a blind eye from a manifest reality and conveniently skip over the primary reason for the problems of Afghanistan,” he continued. Mujahid said that “the American invasion and its resultant barbarity” was the Taliban’s reason for continuing the fight.

“If America truly wants peace and stability for Afghanistan then it should immediately withdraw all its forces from our land and leave the Afghans to their own wills and aspirations,” he continued. “If America is adamant on war and occupation then it should wait for more deadly attacks.”

Mujahid was responding to an official statement by the White House that condemned the Jan. 17 suicide assault on a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul that killed 21 people, including the IMF’s representative to Afghanistan, three UN workers, two Americans, two Brits, two Canadians, and a Danish citizen.

The Taliban claimed the Kabul attack was retaliation for the Jan. 15 raid in Parwan province that targeted a senior Taliban commander who is linked to the Haqqani Network and supports suicide bombings and attacks in the capital.

In the White House statement, the US reiterated that it wants to negotiate with the Taliban.

“We call again on the Taliban to put down their arms and begin peace talks, which is the surest way to end the conflict in a peaceful manner,” the White House statement said.

The US government has unsuccessfully pursued peace talks with the Taliban for the past five years as the Obama administration seeks to withdraw the bulk of the forces from the country by the end of 2014. Vice President Joe Biden is pushing for a residual force of less than 3,000 troops to remain in country, while the ‘zero option,’ or no US forces in country, is a distinct possibility. The administration believes that a peace deal with the Taliban will end the fighting and prevent al Qaeda from operating in the country.

Previously, the US has demanded that the Taliban denounce al Qaeda and join the Afghan political process. The demand that the Taliban denounce al Qaeda was dropped last year as the Taliban were permitted to open an office in Qatar. Western officials wanted the Taliban to use the office to conduct peace talks, but the Taliban insisted it was to be used to raise the profile of the group in the international community and serve as a “political office.” Additionally, the Taliban wanted to use the office in Qatar to secure the release of five al Qaeda-linked commanders who are being held by the US at Guantanamo Bay.

The Taliban signaled in early 2012, during another US push for peace talks, that they had no intentions of disowning al Qaeda, and refused to denounce international terrorism. A Taliban spokesman even said that al Qaeda is officially operating under the banner of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

“They [al Qaeda] are among the first groups and banners that pledged allegiance to the Emir of the Believers [Mullah Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban], and they operate in Afghanistan under the flag of the Islamic Emirate,” a spokesman to jihadist forums known as Abdullah al Wazir said in February 2012.

“They are an example of discipline and accuracy in the execution of missions and operations entrusted to them by the Military Command of the Islamic Emirate,” Wazir continued, calling al Qaeda “lions in war.”

9594_native_american_ceremonial_peace_pipe

~~~

The Long War Journal

~~~

Taliban Target Foreigners in Kabul

abdul-rahman-mosque-in-kabul

Grand Mosque of Kabul constructed 2001-2009, no doubt payed for by “foreigners”

~~~

Written by Bill Roggio

The Long War Journal

January 17, 2014

~~~

The Afghan Taliban claimed credit for a suicide assault in Kabul today that killed more than 20 people, including the International Monetary Fund’s representative to Afghanistan and three UN employees.

A three-man suicide assault team targeted a Lebanese restaurant in a secured area of the capital that is frequented by Westerners, foreigners, and the Afghan elite. A suicide bomber detonated outside of the restaurant, while the other two Taliban fighters entered the building, shot at the customers, and fought with the guards for 20 minutes before being killed.

Twenty-one people, including the IMF’s representative to Afghanistan, three UN workers, two Americans, two Brits, two Canadians, and a Danish citizen were killed in the attack, according to Reuters.

The Taliban released a statement on their website, Voice of Jihad, taking credit for the attack. The Taliban claimed that their fighters “killed many foragers [foreigners], mostly German invaders.” The group routinely exaggerates the effects of its operations. The German foreign ministry has not confirmed that its citizens were among those killed.

Today’s attack took place just two days after Afghan and Coalition special operations forces targeted the Taliban’s deputy shadow governor for Parwan province, which borders Kabul. The Taliban leader, Qari Nazar Gul, is linked to the Haqqani Network and “transports weapons, fighters and suicide bombers to Parwan and Kabul,” ISAF stated. He supports the Kabul Attack Network, an alliance of jihadist groups that includes al Qaeda and the Haqqani Network and is tasked with executing attacks inside the capital.

The Taliban later released a statement claiming that the attack in Kabul was executed to avenge the Afghan and Coalition raid in Parwan province that targeted Gul.

The Afghan Taliban lauded suicide attacks against Western and Afghan targets as “heroic operations of the Mujahideen” in statement released on Voice of Jihad last summer.

The suicide assault, or coordinated attack using multiple suicide bombers and an assault team, is a tactic that is frequently used in Afghanistan by the Taliban and their allies, including the Haqqani Network, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, al Qaeda, and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. Suicide assaults are also commonly executed by al Qaeda and jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Nigeria.

The Taliban have launched numerous suicide assaults against Coalition and Afghan bases. One of the more prominent attacks over the past several years was the Afghan Taliban’s assault on Camp Bastion in Helmand in September 2012; two US Marines were killed, and six Harriers were destroyed and two more were damaged.

The Taliban launched a failed suicide assault on an Afghan base in Nangarhar on Jan. 4; the seven members of the Taliban team were gunned down by security forces. One ISAF soldier was killed in the attack.

~~~

http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/01/taliban_suicide_assa_17.php

~~~

Herat

Friday_Mosque_in_Herat,_Afghanistan

~~~                                                                                          Beautiful mosque in Herat

by Kathy Gilsinan

World Politics Review

January 15, 2014

~~~

Historically a crossroads of commerce and culture linking Persia and Central Asia, the ethnically mixed western region of Afghanistan has more recently been notable for the stability and wealth of its most important province, Herat, and its capital city of the same name. The province of Herat, which borders Iran and Tajikistan, owes much of its prosperity to customs revenue, which in turn is one of the two main domestic sources of revenue for the central government in Kabul. Herat’s growth and integration with the rest of Afghanistan, however, are threatened by instability and poor infrastructure in the surrounding provinces.

Since 2005, Italy has served as the lead nation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Regional Command West, which includes Herat and the surrounding provinces of Ghor, Badghis and Farah. There are currently about 5,000 ISAF troops in the region, from a peak of about 8,000 in late 2011, and under the draft U.S.-Afghanistan bilateral security agreement currently pending signature, the military base south of the city of Herat would be one of nine across the country the U.S. would retain access to after 2014.

The Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) began to assume lead responsibility for security in Herat in late 2011, and have gradually taken over in the rest of the western region since then. Herat itself has remained secure in the transition period, according to Aziz Hazim of the Herat Government and Media Information Center. “Given the relative stability” of the provincial government, he says, after the handover to Afghan forces, “there was not much change in the security situation in Herat province.” Col. Stefano Cianfrocca of the Italian air force, deputy chief of staff for stability in Regional Command West, says the ANSF passed the crucial early test of securing the voter registration process ahead of the presidential election set for this April. “There have been elections before, but they have been closely supervised and supported by ISAF and international organizations,” Cianfrocca says. “This time the Afghans have taken the lead on the elections.”

Working in the ANSF’s favor in western Afghanistan is the absence of conditions faced by Afghan forces in other parts of the country. “Western Afghanistan has not had a history, like that of the east and south, of intertribal fighting over the decades,” says Karl Eikenberry, who served as U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan from 2009 to 2011. (Disclosure: I worked for Eikenberry as a graduate research assistant at Stanford University from 2011 to 2012.) “There were sources of violence and instability in the west, but not to the degree we found in Regional Commands East, South and Southwest,” he adds.

It also helps that western Afghanistan does not share a border with Pakistan. Iran has demonstrated a keen interest in western Afghanistan’s development, and though there have been reports of Iran arming and training militants there, its alleged support for the insurgency has not been nearly so widespread and well-funded as Pakistan’s. Iran has meanwhile provided some $500 million in aid to Afghanistan, most of it concentrated in the western region; it has granted Afghanistan access to its Chabahar port, freeing Afghan businesses from nearly exclusive reliance on Pakistan’s port at Karachi; and it is constructing a railway link between eastern Iran and Herat, which could further cement Herat’s role as a regional trade hub.

But if geography has given western Afghanistan, and Herat in particular, some advantages, it also presents dangers. Iran has deported thousands of Afghan refugees, exacerbating a potentially destabilizing flow of migration along Afghanistan’s western border. Meanwhile, rising instability in Herat’s neighboring provinces could suffocate Herat’s growth or damage its links to the rest of Afghanistan. A recent Pentagon report noted rising violence in Farah, which borders Herat to the south, attributing it to militants pushed out of neighboring Helmand province by the 2009 U.S. military surge.

But the conditions for Farah’s instability predated the surge. Farah is a large province with poor infrastructure, making it difficult and expensive for Afghan security forces to control; they rely instead on local militias known as the Afghan Local Police, which are controversial for their history of abusing residents. “Just keeping the road infrastructure safe must be . . . a nightmare,” says Fabrizio Foschini of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, who has documented “a serious deterioration in security” as the province transitioned to Afghan security lead. Farah is also the only province in western Afghanistan heavily affected by the opium economy. “We’ll see it again in a couple of months come harvest time—you have Taliban and communities fighting side by side against the government,” Foschini says. “The situation can become problematic in the next few years in what lies around this sort of security oasis” in Herat.

Even Herat’s wealth has attracted its own kind of violence, more opportunistic than ideological. While the province rarely makes headlines for spectacular attacks—though a suicide attack on the U.S. consulate last September, claimed by the Taliban, showed the city was not immune—insurgents and criminals more often resort to kidnapping for ransom. “Herat has long been the kidnapping capital of Afghanistan,” Foschini says. Criminal networks that may not be formally allied with the Taliban have a freer hand to extort locals given that the police are, in Foschini’s words, “fighting basically a war”—in turn, the unsafe environment they create may scare off the businesses Herat depends on, creating opportunities for the Taliban through rising instability.

The Taliban’s fall, and international investment in infrastructure and development, have allowed western Afghanistan to capitalize on some of its geographical advantages. Through expanding trade links and improved customs collection, Herat’s growth in particular is less dependent on international aid than that of other pockets of relative wealth in Afghanistan, making it more likely that most of Herat’s gains over the past 12 years will outlast the international presence there. Whether and to what extent those gains can benefit the rest of the country, given the belt of instability that surrounds Herat, is unclear, though, and protecting western Afghanistan’s “security oasis” will test ANSF for many years to come.

~~~

http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com

~~~

Voyaging

US-MILITARY-WOMEN-COMBAT-FILES

US Marine in Helmand Valley

~~~

Stamp the valley with a footprint

Light as you can be

Don’t wanna get too heavy

Floating naturally

~~~

10

~~~

Got yourself a boat

Looking fine as can be

Got yourself a drink

Floating naturally

~~~

hera___hellenic_goddess_by_emanuellakozas-d39ne29-e1389915031100

~~~

We know you very well

We’ve met you in our dreams

Stay alert, keep your balance

So beautiful & free

~~~

shanna_prisoner_by_seabra-d33t8aw

~~~

If you happen to get captured

Capture them right back

When you’ve got them all knocked out

Float away quietly

~~~

ku-xlarge

~~~

from Rawclyde!

~~~