senator travels eyes wide open

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by Troy Turner

Opelika-Auburn News

April 18, 2019

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Alabama’s Sen. Doug Jones, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, warns that ISIS is making every attempt to reorganize, including an increased recruitment of women and children, and that a continued U.S. presence in the Mideast region is critical to America’s national security.

The ISIS movement also is working hard to recruit college students, especially those with computer and technology skills, the senator said.

Jones returned stateside late Tuesday from an overseas trip to Afghanistan and Iraq, where he and two other Democratic senators met with American military commanders, troops and political leaders, among others.

“ISIS has not been defeated,” he said. “Our mission has not yet been accomplished.”

Jones, speaking on a media call Wednesday morning, described new concerns about the tactics ISIS is using to rebuild and restructure its militant organization and spread its radical ideology.

“The number of women and children being recruited is quadrupling the number of fighters. We cannot rush out of there quickly,” he said.

“ISIS is recruiting out of universities. It is trying to recruit in the information age, and trying to recruit more women. It is still a very, very serious threat,” Jones said.

Meanwhile in Afghanistan, the senators said they detected a sincere effort with new hopes that peace talks can find some type of compromise in a country ravaged by decades of war, including discussions on the rights and safety of women.

Jones traveled with Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

“When I met with the women leaders, they talked about what they were hearing,” Shaheen told reporters during her travel. “They wanted to see a cease fire, they wanted the fighting to end. They wanted to make sure that women continue to have rights.

“To hear the amount of peace activity that was going on in the country was surprising to me.”

However, it’s also still too early to consider pulling troops from that country as well, Jones said.

“Afghanistan has a 40-year history of war. We’ve been there for 18 years. I think people are ready to have peace,” he said regarding his hopes that talks can be successful.

American military commanders, however, also remain convinced that U.S. national security interests dictate that troops continue their mission, at least for now, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Jones said, adding that he also met with troops from his home state of Alabama while visiting the two countries.

“I was happy to thank them for their service and sacrifice,” he said. “It was a very powerful experience” to meet and talk with them.

Regarding their mission so far from home, and the long duration of America’s involvement in both theaters of operation, “People have to understand that that’s where most of the terrorism around the world originates,” Jones said, “and now it’s become more sophisticated.”

He said he was moved by the dedication of all the American service personnel he met, from troops to commanders.

“They fully believe that their mission is to protect the United States, not just Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “I think that everyone there believes that their mission is not complete.”

Seeing it first hand, he said, “it all sinks in a heck of a lot more than just sitting and hearing someone speak at the capitol.”

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https://www.oanow.com/news/auburn/alabama-senator-describes-the-war-front-in-iraq-afghanistan/article_e2834cb8-6143-11e9-8b93-bb7bbbe445de.html

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peace talks postponed by taliban

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Reporting by Abdul Qadir Sediqi & Rupam Jain

Editing by Darren Schuettler

Reuters

April 18, 2019

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KABUL (Reuters) – A meeting between the Taliban and Afghan politicians and civil society aimed at ending more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan has been postponed, officials and diplomats said on Thursday, citing Taliban objections to the size of the Afghan delegation.

The talks were set to begin on Friday in Doha, but a senior government official in Kabul said “the gathering has been called off for now and details were being reworked.”

Afghan delegates scheduled to fly to the Qatari capital on Thursday were told the trip was postponed and new dates were being discussed, a western diplomat in Kabul said.

“The government will have to change the composition of the delegation to make this meeting happen,” the diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said leaders of the hardline Islamist group were uncomfortable with the size of the Afghan delegation and its composition.

“Presence of some participants was completely against the list of what was agreed upon,” Mujahid told Reuters over phone, adding that the delegation included Afghans working for the government.

The Taliban have repeatedly refused to meet President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which they call a puppet regime, but have held several rounds of peace talks with U.S. officials.

Ghani said Wednesday the 250-member Afghan delegation included some government officials attending in a personal capacity. But the group did not include some of the most powerful figures in Afghan politics, who are reluctant to join forces with Ghani ahead of presidential elections due in September.

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https://www.reuters.com/article/us-afghanistan-taliban/peace-talks-postponed-as-taliban-objects-to-size-of-afghan-delegation-idUSKCN1RU0W2

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