biden sticks his foot in his mouth

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afghanistan times

february 10, 2020

http://www.afghanistantimes.af

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During presidential election inter-partisan debates in the United States, it has become customary for the leading candidates to engage in debates where they table topics for discussion which are often the most controversial issues of the time. A recent instance is of a hardcore democratic politician’s remarks regarding Afghanistan, something that has riled Afghans. Joe Biden, who is a candidate for president in the 2020 US election, while addressing a debate said, “with regards to Afghanistan, I was totally against the whole notion of nation-building. There’s no possibility at all of making it a whole country. But it is possible to see they’re not able to launch more attacks.” Afghan politico and masses have lambasted Biden for such absurd and morally bankrupt notions, and rightly so. Former president Hamid Karzai in a statement called Joe Biden’s remarks on Afghanistan ‘irresponsible’ and ‘unrealistic’ and said ‘it is evident that the US has never sought nation-building in Afghanistan.’ The question here is why does he think like that and remark as such?

It’s mainly because of being a gifted demagogue with particular skill in manipulating the American taxpayers by stating the popular opinion to win the public support in the election. However, he should know that Afghanistan has remained a resilient nation. No country in the world could go through 40 years of back-to-back invasions, interferences, imposed wars and still remain intact. It’s Afghanistan which has remained united despite the war and destruction. Biden scapegoating Afghanistan for its multiethnic trait is just a demagogic move, something usually expected from politicians. Afghanistan has remained a nation-state because we share the same culture despite ethnic disparities, which should be our strength not a weakness. In Afghanistan, nation-building is possible if we have a grassroots-approach and is undoubtedly impossible when it is an external imposition. These remarks should serve as a wake-up call for Afghans to beware of the manipulative designs of some elements who want to divide us along ethnic lines.

Moreover, multiple reports have suggested and many agree that American nation-building efforts have so far failed to establish and sustain democracies in 11 (excluding Afghanistan) countries. And one reason could be the securitization modus operandi used by the US – an extreme version of politicization that enables extraordinary means to be used in the name of security – while providing the posturing and alibi of building our nation. Therefore, such outspoken and revolutionary ideas by the American politician are only aimed at winning public support of Republican-exhausted American voters in the upcoming election. The natural fabric of Afghan society is tightly woven to the extent that despite ethnic dissimilarities, we have remained intact and will remain as such against the consistent foreign interference. Therefore, Biden should drop his maximalist position, which will do him no good, and apologize for his ignorant and irresponsible statement regarding Afghanistan.

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http://www.afghanistantimes.af/editorial-bidens-morally-bankrupt-remarks

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a conversation with ashraf ghani

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islamic republic of afghanistan

davos, switzerland

january 22, 2020

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CNBC Anchor:

Good afternoon everybody and welcome once again. This is a conversation with His Excellency with President of Afghanistan Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, in partnership with World Economic Forum and CNBC News. My name is Hadley Gamble, and I am the senior international anchor and correspondent for CNBC. Welcome to all of you, and welcome Your Excellency. Thank you so much for joining us.

I want to kick off by asking you where we stand today when it comes to the situation of security in Afghanistan at the end of last year that’s a lot of conversation a lot of grumblings about the decision on the part of the Americans to start drawing down troops. Where are we in your opinion?

President Ashraf Ghani:

Well. I think we should put it in perspective not of last year, but of five years. Five years ago there were around 140,000 international troops in Afghanistan, 100,000 of them Americans. Over 100,000 American troops withdrew and also corresponding their number of others. And all the predictions were of gloom and doom [that] we will collapse, but we didn’t. The Afghan Security Forces have emerged to a significant force. Our Commandos are second to none in the region. Our Air Force is tripled our commandos and Special Forces have doubled. We have taken eight districts back from the Taliban. Daesh; for the first time in eastern Afghanistan, a thousand of them surrendered. What a twenty-ton bomb couldn’t do, a popular mobilization of 2,400 community members did. Security is a problem; no one can say that it is not, but the direction is the right direction and prior to the election 65% of the Afghan people think that the direction is the positive direction. Withdrawal; the Resolute Support mission is an instrument; the key issue is the Bilateral Security Agreement between the United States and Afghanistan and Status of Forces Agreement between Afghanistan and NATO. The numbers can adjust, increase or decrease. A decrease at this moment will have no material impact on our capacity and our willingness to ensure moving forward.

CNBC Anchor:

The American President has said on multiple occasions that he wants to bring troops away from the region, not just Afghanistan but Iraq and elsewhere as well that hasn’t necessarily been what happened over the last year. As you know with continuing violence in Persian Gulf, we put more troops back in to the region. When you sit back and think about this within a ten year horizon, do you anticipate we are going to see a time with a full withdrawal of US troops?

President Ashraf Ghani:

Of course I deal with uncertainty. Uncertainty is the norm so the type of leadership that is required of us is to be able to cope with uncertainty that means multiple scenarios, multiple options. A single course of action is just not feasible. To see complete American withdrawal of troops requires the region to get together and agree on the rules of the game. The region is pious to failure. A lot of states simultaneously deal with non-state actors as instrument of destabilization and as long as you have that, the space for wider things opens. The other question is what is the threat of terrorism? Is it a technic that is applied or is it a fundamental challenge the way fascism was? Depending on your answer, then you get very different set of alignments because the question from an American perspective is where Afghanistan fits. And the answer is homeland security. If it is viewed from homeland security, then it is one set of partnerships; if it is in terms of the region, it is another. What is important and I hope the communiqué that I issued has made it clear, we have a commitment from the United States and from NATO that no force stationed in Afghanistan in any way – it is larger non-military because it is advice, train and assist – will be used against any other power in the region. So our hope is for the region to settle and to be able to arrive at security arrangements so the threats to the rest of the world, currently exposed to the region, diminishes or is eliminated.

CNBC Anchor:

When you think about the United States as a partner regionally, there has been a lot of conversation about and do you think US has turned a new page under US President Donald Trump in some ways with the idea that they would be withdrawing from not just Afghanistan, but elsewhere and that the US is leaving the region behind?

President Ashraf Ghani:

Well, I have no problems dealing with President Trump. I am one of the few leaders that has an excellent relationship including today’s conversation because I frame my relationship in terms of priorities that he has promised the American people, and he is consistent on that. The question is, how do we find common ground and where is the common ground to be able to move forward? His style is disruptive meaning that when the status quo reaches a point where it does not produce the results that he wants, he engages in disruptive change and this is a type of change that we need to increasingly understand. We have destructive change on the economy which a professor that has made a lifetime is explaining to us. We now have the same sorts of things. So it is either sorts of creative change that we can manage together, destructive change like the waves of Schumpeter or disruptive change. We need to understand that this is not isolated; it is part of a pattern and at times the status quo for certain gets disrupted. What the second, third order or fourth order consequences of that or we need to be able to work together.

CNBC Anchor:

Is the negotiating with the Taliban the best option or the only option?

President Ashraf Ghani:

Negotiation is a means. The desire of Afghan people – and don’t forget please I run on a peace ticket twice and peace has been my goal – is to see the end of violence. The billion dollar question is, are the Taliban ready to see the end of violence? If they are, Afghan society is willing to reintegrate them, but if they see peace as a Trojan horse to overthrow the government and the society, then the society and the government would mobilize.

And here let me make a simple observation; our security is not the responsibility of United States; it is our own responsibility. We need to be able to secure our future. And beside you know, for thousands of years we have provided for our own security; these 18 years are an exception. Afghan society has seen forty years of violence; we have to see the end of violence. Now it depends very much on the Taliban, and there are certain questions top of it ‘gender’. No Afghan woman as long as I am alive and in the position of responsibility is going to be subjected to gender apartheid. Our ambassadors to the United Nations and United States both are Afghan women. They are second to none to anybody and they thrived. The generation of young Afghan women sees the world as their potential stage. Youth; 70% of the society is under 25; they are not going to be caged. The issue is society has changed. Are the Taliban sufficiently aware to engage in this? Their power is negative meaning it derives from violence, from suicide bombing, from violence against…but it is a negative power that is recognized by our society and therefore we want to see an end to it. For that we have to find a political solution. All wars must end politically. These are not wars particularly the wars of the late 20th century or 21st century that can end in classic way, so we need to engage. The good news is that rank and file of the Taliban are sick and tired of fighting. The people who are sitting in Doha are getting their fifth or fourth wife and are enjoying themselves. They have become investors. The other is this is one of the largest drug running operations in the world; heroin and now amphetamine, so those parts needs to be asked about the entire community. Will they be an asset or would they be a reliability? It is an answer that we have to find together.

CNBC Anchor:

What kind of timeline are we talking about when it comes to securing Afghan for the Afghans?

President Ashraf Ghani:

I think in the next four years and the last five years, we showed that we can build resilience that abandonment is not in our vocabulary. Speaking on behalf of my fellow citizen which I have the privilege of serving, the United States and the rest of the world does not owe us they came to help us in the moment when our resilience was really finished; five years of drought, gender apartheid, dictatorship, war etc. Now it is really up to us because Afghanistan is not poor; it is rich. And we need to develop that richness for the sake of the people. First, just let’s take the environment. 220,000 Megawatts potential of solar; 80,000 wind; geothermal looks good natural gas is beginning to really look good, second best but nonetheless.

We are connecting our location. For 200 years, as a disadvantage and now it is becoming gold. Every year Central Asia and South Asia cannot coordinate without us; natural gas, electricity fiber optics, etc. In this environment the key becomes the human capital. We need to be able to shape the generation in our discourse to be able to take responsibility. And as part of that, we have to accept that forty years of violence has taken a toll. We need to accept each other in multiple ways. The past, unfortunately, is very much alive in Afghanistan we need to put an end to this past. Step back, our golden age of Islam was unbelievable; the forgotten enlightenment. Avicenna – Ibn Sina – and Abu Rayhan Biruni; a thousand years ago we were talking about high advanced mathematics and astronomy and others. So there is a civilization legacy; there is a way of imagining the future. And particularly our mineral wealth that is really quite considerable should not become a curse for our people. If the curse of the plenty is to be avoided, we have created the rules the regulations the institutional mechanisms that this can now be put at the service of the people. With that I think we can stand on our feet.

Anchor:

What do you think of the challenges ahead and now that there are many? It is not the security that you are concerned with as the idea as we are discussing on camera and the environment and what is happening with the climate change, could really be the greatest threat to Afghanistan’s growth potential?

President Ashraf Ghani:

Not just Afghanistan it is globally but particularly it is South Asia.  On World Bank estimate, we are talking by 2050 of 40 million refugees; environmental refugees. With UN, the figure goes as much as a 100 million. L ook at what one degree of warming can do to India or Pakistan.  We should not be in denial. I think that for South Asia and Central Asia, environmental cooperation is what could become as important platform as community of steel and coal was for Europe. The environment doesn’t recognize boundaries. The Himalayas; you know it is our common heritage. How are we managing this? We are not! The cycles of floods and droughts; the cycles of droughts in Afghanistan used to be 30 years and 100 years of major drought, now it has been reduced to as few as five. In this environment, we fortunately control most of the fresh water. We provide fresh water to every single one of our neighbors. That is more important in ten years than there is oil. How do we coordinate? There is a lot here and particularly with renewables. Given our immense potential in renewables, this could be a game changer for the region.

CNBC Anchor:

What do you think about what happens next with regards to the investment case for Afghanistan; ‘One Belt, One Road’ seemingly left Afghanistan off their [indiscernible]. What is coming next?

President Ashraf Ghani:

Well. First, we have created what is called the Lapis Lazuli Corridor. Now we are connected through Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan and Georgia. Baku is replacing Karachi for us and Batumi or Patumi are going to be major ports of transit. Iran; if it’s still exempted from sanctions, the Chabahar port, it cuts the distance by 1000 Km westward. India; we connected by air. Equally Kazakhstan.  Opening of Uzbekistan has been an immense blessing, so I really thank my brother, the President of Uzbekistan. It used to take us three month to get a train to China, now it takes one week. The cost is coming down very radically.

We had a product that sieves the imagination of the Afghan people, pine nuts. Three years ago, we didn’t know we are one of the largest producers of pine nut. Now we signed the deal for 2 billion dollars with China on pine nuts. It used to be smuggled. There is an agricultural revolution underway focused on value chains that is really changing. Women’s engagement in this, youths.

The region is connecting. Asia; the only parallel to me is 1869 when the Pacific and Atlantic railways joined to create the continental economy and the Suez Canal was opened. Asia is transforming from a concept to a continental economy. In this, we are finding our place because without us, South Asia and Central Asia will not connect. You know, going through the mountains is not going to create that Pakistan and China. The key, the easiest way is Afghanistan and Central Asia is connecting all of Asia. This is a global phenomenon. How we simultaneously bring the atavistic thinking of being bound by my national interest, right or wrong, is the challenge. We need to think regionally and we have to think globally.

CNBC Anchor:

What do you think to happen next with regards to the United States as a potential investment partner further in the region, and that kind of economic diplomacy, part of them raised … in Washington at the growing relationship between Russia and Afghanistan, and the idea that they will continue their economic diplomacy like we have seen in Saudi Arabia for example and elsewhere in the region, and Iran, with regards to your government? What is your message to the United States about your growing relationship with Russia? Because it has made some

President Ashraf Ghani:

We don’t have a growing relationship with Russia. That is a misperception. Russia has made no investment. We wished devil.

CNBC Anchor:

But you are very much open to it…

President Ashraf Ghani:

No, what I am saying is the source of the investment doesn’t matter to me. It is quality of the investment. I want to avoid the curse of natural resources. That is my top priority; so it has to be bound by rule of law; it has to be transparent; it has to be accountable; and it has to give…Russians have not made an investment in Afghanistan so that is a misperception.

Afghanistan in terms of the future of the electric car could play a very significant role. We have one of the largest unexplored lithium deposits of the world. We are described as Saudi Arabia of Lithium. And then 14 out of the 17 rare earth materials exist in Afghanistan both in quality and quantity that makes it very important. This is the new economy. How we connect to the new economy and what type of partnerships we put? Then there is the old sector; gas is beginning to really look good. For first time, from one well we are talking of trillions of cubic meters, not billions. Iron; it is the largest and developed mine in the world. Copper again; we are good on the commodity cycle because five years ago, copper was down, they were not interested.

But key is now generational power and the infrastructure that would underwrite this, but more than the physical infrastructure, the human infrastructure. So we connect to the world, but in terms that secure mutual interest. The Export of Capital from Britain, Alan, 19th century to be avoided. There are lessons from that. Ask Argentina and other countries.

CNBC Anchor:

What do you think about the relationship with the United States in particular, obviously you have a good relationship as you said with President Trump; you are one of the few leaders who has said that. You have no problems with that relationship. There was a recent report in Washington Post, the troubled documents that were released, and they were talking about how for years the United States was a sort of putting over the American public that the progress was made. Do you think it rushes back the question less about fulfilling the mission, more about having a realistic goal of what success should look like?

President Ashraf Ghani:

Well. When I was finance minister, I warned about that. And I offered the alternatives. Foreign aid is broken. It is not just in Afghanistan. I wrote a book on it, “fixing failed states” so I have warned about this and again we have a global expert … I was not part of the system. I have worked for [indiscernible] since 2001, when I returned. I have never consulted for an American company or for a contractor or others. We warned very clearly as finance minister of a country, I stood at international conferences and said, one possible future is a narco-mafia state, then pay attention.

The curse of Afghanistan was Iraq. The minute Iraq invasion took place, the standard disappeared from Afghanistan because everybody then was saying –  you know compare to Iraq – is doing well but that is not good enough. The other part is nobody was prepared for a phenomenon like Afghanistan or phenomenon like Iraq. The skills that made the marshal plan possible do not exist within the government structures. And the capability to think through outside the box did not. So money has never been a cure, systems are a cure, processes and particularly empowerment. 40 percent of the Afghan population still lives below poverty, not one dam was finished. I have done more with less continuously because of prioritizing. And also lazy habits were brought and an Afghan elite who was spunt that it was interested in rent-seeking and when you have rent-seekers you are not going to get development or democracy.

CNBC Anchor:

Are you finding it challenging at this point given the fact that you in a bit of a run-off that let’s say with Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, we have to call it a lame duck scenario in the United States. Does this make your job more difficult?

President Ashraf Ghani:

I have never had a feeling of lame duck. Any job I have held, I have performed to the last minute. So what did I do last week? I saw all the citizens of Kabul, district by district, we have 22 districts to prioritize the city’s development. I am legally the president of Afghanistan and have the responsibility to serve the people of Afghanistan. The day I am not, I will be the private citizen, I will be delighted to go and finish my six books from manuscripts. Those who have a feeling of lame duck, I think do not have feeling of proper responsibility. The responsibility of a president doesn’t end with an election; it ends with transfer of authority. And to the day that you are responsible, you must..

I have seen all 34 provincial governors, I have re-hauled a number of sectors in this period and I have engaged from President Trump to other leaders to be able to secure our interests. I have gone in the last five years, 89 times to the provinces because the allegation was that the president of Afghanistan is mayor of Kabul. We go everywhere. You have to take a certain risk. And the election results are taking long because I want to make sure that every stone is turned and the transparency is there so we can move forward.

CNBC Anchor:

Your predecessor as well as Dr. Abdullah Abdullah have been very critical of your feelings when it comes to negotiation with the Taliban in forcing a ceasefire agreement. What is your response to them?

President Ashraf Ghani:

Sour grapes. Did President Karzai achieve a ceasefire? I did. Did President Karzai offer an unconditional offer to the Taliban? I did. Who is approving in the public opinion polls that they would trust the peace process to? Me. I am engaged with my people. I run on a platform and I have a program. What is the program of President Karzai and Dr. Abdullah? Please show me one piece of paper that either of the gentlemen has produced regarding the future of Afghanistan.

The Taliban went to their homes in 2001. For three years, there was security. What actions did the president take with his entourage and appointments to produce an insurgency? He has to answer the people of Afghanistan. I did not produce this war. I served for two years as minister of Finance. I didn’t agree on reforms, I went to do the most honorable job which was the chancellorship of Kabul University and I loved it. It is the best job I have ever had. Then, you know, I ran for…I helped—look at my conduct. I ran against President Karzai in 2009; I offered him help with the security transition. That is patriotism. When your country needs you, you have to offer and strengthen the system. Criticism for the sake of criticism doesn’t do well and we need to engage. There is a place for him. He has been the first…

CNBC Anchor:

Don’t you think it is enabling the Taliban at this point?

President Ashraf Ghani:

No. I don’t want to accuse. Look. I have not said one negative word about either Dr. Abdullah or President Karzai during the entire election or the last five years. The conduct is—politics to me is in the Weberian sense of occasion. It is a Collin’s. Let the people judge. And if the people of Afghanistan don’t elect me, fine. I will go and become a citizen again. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely; therefore, checks and balances and citizen accountability is a must. Without an engaged citizen, you don’t have a state. And Afghanistan—the citizens of Afghanistan are all PhDs in politics. The last forty years have immuned us to slogans. They don’t want slogans, we want service.

And you know, everybody who comes to the Presidential Compound, I shake hands with them. A lot of them, I embraced them in because I am their servant and they understand that there is a sense of service. That is the dynamic that has to change, not a sense that we are born. We aren’t born to anything. We are born to serve. If we take a colleague. If not, and the feeling of superiority and this claim that power must be theirs because in some moments of history they played a minor role. That has to go.

CNBC Anchor:

We are getting short on time. But I just want to ask you before I let you go. When it comes to maximum pressure campaign on Iran and what we have seen over the last several months, you mentioned commodities and prices going up, we have been following oil story, of course and worked on in CNBS. What do you think about what is going to happen next, how challenging is it for you to encourage international investors to get involved in Afghanistan and developing its resources when you have a region that continues to be in turmoil as a result of the policies of the United States.

President Ashraf Ghani:

Well it is both policies of the United States and policies of Iran. Iranian revolution got a second renewal after the invasion of Iraq. Iran, before that, was the equivalent of “building socialism in one country” what Stalin was forced to. So it opened up; a second wave of revolution was renewed. It is in the region. Now, there is diametrically two opposed sets. One is the high-ranking Iranian officials repeatedly have said that the US must leave the region. The second is that the United States Government is saying that wave has to be rolled back.

So within this, now the possibility of a new cold war looms quite large whether it becomes hot in certain spots, of course, like the cold war. In the region, we had this in the 1960s with Yemen when Gamal Abdel Nasser engaged against Saudi Arabia and other interlocutors, Iran, etc. It is important to think through again the fundamental organizational principles of the region. The region has been unstable in terms of rules since world war II, and what diplomacy has required, an imagination has required to put it in that vicious circle and in this episode there might be that opportunity as some people who are very thoughtful, think that the set of relationships to allow for predictability rather than constant disruption is there and I hope that that would be the case.

CNBC Anchor:

Do you believe that the death of Qasim Soleimani made the region safer?

President Ashraf Ghani:

No one can give you an answer to that. No, all I am saying is a disruptive set of actions took place that disrupted the status quo. The status quo was not one of predictability, but within the cold war, in terms of the cold war between powers had had levels of predictability. The parameters have changed. I don’t judge the consequences now because that is a moral judgment one… Afghanistan wants to be a platform for cooperation. It is not our business to get engaged in further conflicts, or further destabilization. But the environment within which you operate changes and you have to take account of that change. And there are two ways of responding, one is you put your hand in the sand and say change is not placed, the context has not changed. The other is to very quickly assess and say and you might get it wrong but at least you are trying to adjust to this. And as the president of Afghanistan it is my responsibility to navigate our interests and those cannot be done without thinking through the region.

CNBC Anchor:

Do you like the president style than disruption?

President Ghani:

I am not a judge. I am not into likes and dislikes. I am into partnership. And United States is foundational partner to us. Iran is a very important neighbor to us. How do we make sure that we navigate this relationship is the critical challenge of leadership.

CNBC Anchor:

Your Excellency. Thank you so much for joining us.

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https://president.gov.af/en/a-conversation-with-president-ashraf-ghani

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happy thanksgiving & thank you!

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Remarks by President Trump (& President Ghani) To The Troops

Bagram Airfield

Afghanistan

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, thank you very much. (Applause.) That was great. And we just had a nice Thanksgiving dinner. I thought I was going to be having it someplace else, and Senator Barrasso is a great friend of mine, and he said, “That’ll be great if we did it.” I said, “You come with me, John.” And he came with me. John, thank you very much. Great friend of ours. He’s a great senator and a great man. (Applause.)

And I want to thank General Milley. Special warrior. He’s a special warrior. And I want to congratulate you also because I just saw some numbers that are incredible. ISIS — you’re wiping them out left and right. There’s almost nothing left in this area. (Applause.) You’re not going to be lonely. And al-Qaeda, the same thing. And tremendous progress.

And, you know, we have a very special friend of ours that’s here. We had a meeting a little while ago. I said, “Would you like to come over and say hello to the troops?” And he said, “That would be such an honor.” And I think what I’ll do is, before I start, I’ll bring up the President of Afghanistan. President Ghani is here. So please, Mr. President, we’d love to have you say something. Thank you. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT GHANI: In the name of compassion and mercy, this President, great American troops, great patriots: Happy Thanksgiving. (Applause.) It’s an occasion for us to be especially thankful because the President of the United States is here. And he has been the architect of the South Asia strategy and the strategy for wiping out al Qaeda and Daesh. (Applause.)

Thanks to your support and the bravery of the Afghan soldiers, we have inflicted an incredible defeat on ISIS in Nangarhar. (Applause.)

Last week, it was Nangarhar; in the next three months, it’s going to be all of Afghanistan. (Applause.) Equally, with your support, what we have done to wipe out al Qaeda South Asia is tremendous. And thank you. (Applause.)

President Trump, people talked a lot about bin Laden, but what you did to eliminate al-Baghdadi — who was an organizer and not a talker — is a much greater accomplishment. Congratulations. (Applause.)

I would also like to take this occasion to say thank you to the Gold Star families: 2,298 American men and women in uniform who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. This nation will always be grateful for that sacrifice, and we will always remember. And also, 20,585 have been wounded. But since President Trump has been President of the United States, fortunately, we still too high a number but only 52 American men and women in uniform have died compared to thousands before. This is a tribute to our joint partnership and to the sacrifice that Afghan soldiers, your brothers and sisters in uniform, are making.

More than a million Americans have served here in uniform. We’ve paid tribute to their families and to your families. I would like a special request: Please thank your families for agreeing to miss you at this special occasion at home, and for being here, defending United States security and our freedom. (Applause.)

Together, we will succeed. We will never forget that 9/11 brought us, and we will never permit the repetition of 9/11 again. (Applause.) God bless you. God bless the President. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Fantastic. (Applause.) Thank you very much.

Well, thank you very much, Mr. President. Fifty-two, compared to thousands. And we’re doing a tremendous job. And, as you know, a big part of that job is ISIS — certainly the biggest — and al Qaeda. And we — we’ve got them down to very low numbers. We’ll have that totally taken care of in a very short period of time. And we’ll see what happens.

The Taliban wants to make a deal. We’ll see if they want to make a deal. It’s got to be a real deal, but we’ll see. But they want to make a deal. And they only want to make a deal because you’re doing a great job. That’s the only reason they want to make a deal. So I want to thank you, and I want to thank the Afghan soldiers for really — I’ve spoken to a lot of you today, and you say they’re really fighting hard. I was very impressed with that, actually. So I want to thank you.

And, General Milley, again, to be at Bagram Airfield, I’ve heard to much about it. It’s an incredible place. This is some — some airfield, some fortress.

I want to thank all of the Afghanistanian troops. We have a lot of them here, actually. We have a number of them standing around, saying hello and waving. And we appreciate it. And I also say to you, just “at ease.” Let’s just enjoy ourselves for a couple of minutes. I’m going to introduce a few people.

But there’s nowhere I’d rather celebrate this Thanksgiving than right here with the toughest, strongest, best, and bravest warriors on the face of the Earth. You are indeed that. You know, when I took office — if you can believe it, almost three years ago — we were very depleted. Our military was depleted, in terms of equipment. You see, right? They were all shaking their heads. That’s right. We have all those brand-new planes and brand-new helicopters and brand-new ships being built now. Brand-new, incredible submarines. Probably the most powerful submarines — probably the most powerful weapon in the world, is what we’re building, in the form of submarines. Nobody’s — nothing is even close.

But we have things that nobody has seen, nobody has heard about. And we’ll keep it that way. But we’ve spent $2.5 trillion — very close to that number. And very shortly, it will be at $2.5 trillion. And while I don’t love that — you know, what that does to my budget, because I’m a budget person — we don’t have a strong military budget, it don’t matter much do they, huh? I can (inaudible) have to worry about budgets. So, with what’s going on in the world today — very important. $2.5 trillion.

And nobody beats our great Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines. And we think, soon, we’re going to be adding a thing called “space” — you know about that, right? Space. (Applause.) We’re going to have space covered very well. We’re covering it now, but we have to cover it to a much greater extent. And you’ll be hearing about that in the coming days and weeks.

I’ve just come from serving Thanksgiving dinner to some of you — I recognize already, some of you in the audience. And — with General Milley and the folks. And we had a good time. I then got down — I sat down. I had a gorgeous piece of turkey. And I was all set to go, and I had some of the mashed potatoes and I had a bite of mashed potatoes. And I never got to the turkey, because General Milley said, “Come on over, sir. Let’s take some pictures.” I never got to my turkey. It’s the first time in Thanksgiving that I’ve never had anything called turkey. (Laughter.) But that’s okay. But it looked awfully good, I have to tell you that. I should have started with that, instead of the mashed potatoes. I made a mistake.

But I hope everyone enjoyed the fantastic meal. It certainly did look good. And hopefully everyone can get some well-deserved rest this holiday. Your family — they’re home, and they love you so much.

We flew 8,331 miles to be here tonight for one simple reason: to tell you, in person, that this Thanksgiving is a special Thanksgiving. We’re doing so well. Our country is the strongest, economically, it’s ever been. We have never done so well. We have the greatest economy anywhere in the world. So it’s nice to know that you’re fighting for something that is doing well, as opposed to something that was not doing well just a number of years ago.

Our stock market has reached the highest level ever in the history of the exchanges — all three, if you look. All three. It’s incredible. It’s incredible, what’s happening. It just broke a record. I think it’s close to 130 days. So we’re less than three years, and 130 times we’ve broken the all-time record. And to me, that doesn’t mean an all-time record. It means something different; it means jobs. It means 401(k)s.

People come up to me with their 401(k)s, they say, “Sir, you’ve made me look like a genius. Thank you very much.” You know, they’re up 78 percent. They feel good.

So I would just want to say that we thank God for your health and all of the things that you’ve done. You are very special people. And you don’t even know how much the people of our country love and respect you. And they do. It’s why I’m here. I’m just bringing the message.

The courageous American warriors in Afghanistan and across the region are leading the fight to vanquish America’s enemies and defeat forces of radical Islamic terrorism. I would say it so often during the campaign. That’s what we’re doing.

Together, we’re making tremendous progress. Just a few weeks ago, as you know, and as President Ghani mentioned, U.S. Special Forces brought the world’s number-one, most wanted terrorist to justice. When the President said more important than Osama bin Laden, I would say that, look, you know — different, in a way. He was an organizer. Al-Baghdadi was an organizer. He was the founder of ISIS. He was the father, if you want to call him that, of ISIS. I think he wasn’t so happy, three weeks ago, when he saw those incredible 67 men, in that case, just come pouring down onto where he was staying. And that didn’t work out too good.

And we have a new national hero. You know who that is, right? Conan. Conan is a new — is our new great hero. That was some- — and Conan was at the White House the other day. You might have seen it. And it was something.

But the animal known as al-Baghdadi — the founder, the leader of ISIS, the man that was trying to reinstitute ISIS, because we’ve defeated — we have 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate in Syria is now ours — he is dead. His second is dead. His third — we have the sights on the third. I think the third doesn’t want the job. (Laughter.) The third is saying, “You know what? Maybe I’ll go work in a store, or something.” (Laughter.)

But Baghdadi was a savage and soulless monster who raped, tortured, and slaughtered the innocent, including many, many Americans. When you saw those folks — those great people in the orange jumpsuits, oftentimes standing on a beach with a thug behind him and a big knife — that was all al-Baghdadi. But he’s gone. The American warriors hunted him down, they executed a masterful raid, and they punched his ticket to hell. That’s what happened. (Applause.)

Shortly after we got Baghdadi, we focused on some other elements in the area. And we also started leaving the area, because it’s secure. But we didn’t leave it totally. We kept the oil. Makes sense, right? I’ve been saying for a long time, “Keep the oil.” Hate to say it. I used to say it with a place called Iraq, too. “Keep the oil.” They didn’t listen to me. I was a civilian; they didn’t listen. Now they have to listen. (Laughter.) But we kept the oil. And we kept it and we can help the Kurds; we can help our partners; we can have it developed. It’s where they got their wealth. That’s where they got their money. We kept it. So, we’ll go back in when we have to, as it arises. But 100 percent.

We have thousands of prisoners. We’d like Europe to take those prisoners. They have not stepped up to the plate at all. Many come from France. Many come from Germany. They come from different countries in Europe. They have not stepped up to the plate. That’s not good. We have to talk to them, John, because they should be taking those people back and trying them. And if we didn’t do it, they’d go back to France and they’d go back to Germany and to UK, and to all of — all of the places where they came. That’s where they want to go back. And they should take them.

Weeks ago, we also announced that the forces are coming back. They’re coming back home. We’re reducing over here, but because of technology and all of things that we have, we’re able to reduce, in Afghanistan — very substantially, actually reduce — and do even more devastating attacks on the enemy. So, that’s part of the $2.5 trillion that we have coming.

Finest equipment in the world. We build the greatest equipment anywhere in the world, by far. And we’re selling that equipment now to many, many countries that are our allies. The enemies, we decide usually not to do it. History has said, “Don’t sell the good equipment to the enemy.”

Our message to the bloodthirsty terrorists is clear: You will not escape your wretched fate, because the long reach and the really awesome power of the United States military is unstoppable. We have the most powerful military in the world, by far. There’s nobody close. And we’re going to keep it that way. We’re going to keep it that way.

This evening, as millions of families sit down at their dinner tables back home, they’ll be saying a prayer for the men and women serving our nation in Afghanistan and deployed all around the globe — great men and women, all around the globe. Many are coming home.

Our citizens know that you’re standing guard, killing terrorists, crushing our enemies, and keeping America safe — really safe. But you’re also keeping it strong, and proud, and mighty, and free. And I’m here today to just really say, “Happy Thanksgiving.” But also, “Thank you very much.” Great job. Thank you very much. We appreciate it. (Applause.) Appreciate it. Very much appreciate it.

As President, I have no higher honor than to serve as Commander-in-Chief of the United States military — the greatest force for peace and justice in the history of the world.

This evening, I also want to express the profound and heartfelt gratitude of the entire American nation for our amazing military families, because they really do make you what you are, when you think of it. Anybody here disagree with that? Raise your hand, please. Nobody has the courage to raise your hand. (Laughter.) You have a lot of courage, but not that kind of courage, right? No, but it’s true. The families — they make you great. The extraordinary commitment and the sacrifice of your loved ones make it possible for all of our families to live in safety and to live in peace.

I especially want to recognize several of the incredible patriots with us tonight. These are great fighters, great warriors, great people, great men and women. You’ve already met Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was my honor to appoint him. I had no doubt, from the day I met him — I met him very early on. And I said, “I like that man. He’s a tough cookie and he’s smart.”

You know, he went to Princeton. I said, “I don’t know. I didn’t know he was an academic.” And he went to Columbia. I’m not sure: Was that a good thing or a bad? I don’t know. Did I like it or not? I was, sort of — but that’s pretty good. That means he’s an academic. That means he’s a smart cookie. And he is a smart — and he’s a tough one. General Mark Milley. Thank you, General. (Applause.) He’s an academic. I can’t believe it. He’s a great gentleman.

Commander of the Resolute Support and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, General Scotty Miller. He’s done an incredible job. Thank you, Scotty. Thank you, Scotty. (Applause.) Incredible job. And I hope the word gets out. And I hope the press, which is right back here — they traveled with us — I hope they’re able to get the word out as to what Scotty and all of the folks have done, with respect to ISIS and with respect to al Qaeda.

He said, “They don’t want to fight us, sir. They don’t want to fight us.” But, you know, what — what we’ve done over the last 12 months — 6 months and 12 months, but over the last 12 months — has been incredible. And I hope that the media is able to tell our families, tell our friends, tell our citizens, tell the people of the United States the success that we’ve had, because people don’t read about that. They don’t read about it.

Commander of Bagram Airfield, Brigadier General Brian Wolford. Thank you, Brian. (Applause.) Thank you, Brian. Great, Brian. Commander of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Brigadier General Scott Jobe. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, Scott. Thank you, Scott. Commander of Area Support Group Afghanistan, Colonel David Raugh. (Applause.) Thank you, David. Good job, David. Thank you. U.S. Forces Afghanistan Chief of Staff, Colonel Chip Daniels. Chip, thank you. (Applause.)

And let’s not forget our senior enlisted officers:
Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chairman, Command Sergeant Major John Wayne Troxell. (Applause.) John, where — thank you, John. Command Senior Enlisted Leader of U.S. Forces Afghanistan, Command Sergeant Major Timothy Metheny. (Applause.) Timothy, thank you. Thanks, Timothy.
Senior Enlisted Leader of Bagram Air Field, Sergeant Major Jason Huckabay. Jason, thank you. Thank you, Jason. And Chief Master Sergeant David Dickson of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. Where is he? Chief Master David Dickson. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much, David Dickson.

Also with us are National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien — doing a great job; Ambassador John Bass; and I introduced already one of the great, great patriots of our country, John Barrasso of Wyoming. Great state. Wyoming. (Applause.) Thank you, John.

With the help and the devotion everyone has given here tonight, America is winning again. We are winning like we have not won in a long time. And you know what? We’re respected like we haven’t been respected in a long time. America is winning again, and America is respected again and respected at the highest level.

We’re investing so much money in our military, and we’re not going to stop until it’s totally rebuilt and complete. Along with a record investment in our military, we’ve also got your largest pay raise in over 10 years. And I’m very pleased to report that, starting January 1st, you will be receiving another 3.1 percent pay raise. And if anybody doesn’t want it — (applause). If anybody doesn’t want it, just sign up at the door and we’ll take it away. Okay? (Laughter.) Make it a contribution.

Here in the region, we’re boldly confronting America’s adversaries and pursing a foreign policy focused squarely on our national interests.

Less than three years ago, ISIS controlled the vast reaches of territory in Iraq and Syria. Today, the U.S. Armed Forces and our allies have totally obliterated ISIS and its caliphate. And, you know, I was going to leave. We were down to 98 percent. And I have to say this: When I came in — again, less than three years ago — it was a mess. They were all over the place. And I was about set — “We’ll leave now.” We were at 97, 98 percent.

And I got a lot of — a lot of bite-back from people that, frankly, would have been very happy to leave if it was anybody else but me. They said, “Why don’t you finish the job?” These are people that would have loved — but, you know what? I said, “Maybe they’re right.” And we finished the job. We did it very, very quickly, and very surgically. So that job is finished. We liberated more than 3 million civilians from that brutal reign.

I’ve also taken action to confront the corrupt and terror-supporting dictatorship in Iran. And, in Afghanistan, our warfighters continue to serve heroically to stamp out terrorism and to eviscerate the enemies of civilization. Because that’s what, really, they are; they’re enemies of civilization.

Right here, at Bagram, you are logistical hub for all forces in Afghanistan. You are absolutely essential to victory. From this base, the unrivaled aviators of the U.S. Air Force deliver unmatched firepower across the region. When our enemies hear the sound of your jets — those brand-new, beautiful jets — they hear the sound of those jets.

We don’t put too many environmental controls on those jets. (Laughter.) Because if it takes away 4 percent of what we need, we want the 4 percent. Do you agree with that, everybody? Is everybody — (applause). And we’re all environment, but we’re not heavy into environmental controls, and even pollution controls, on our aircraft when it’s a fighting jet. We don’t want to have any excuses.

But when our enemies hear the sound of those screaming engines through the valleys, their terrorist blood runs cold because they know that their demise is near.

In particular, I want to thank outstanding airmen from the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, who deliver righteous American thunder anywhere, anyplace, anytime. Raise your hands. Let me see. (Applause.) Great. Great job. Helps to have new equipment, doesn’t it? Does it help a little bit? You got nice, new equipment.

Thanks as well to the skilled professionals of the Expeditionary Medical Group — (applause) — who run the most capable trauma hospital in Afghanistan: Craig Joint Theater Hospital. Thank you very much. Great job you do. (Applause.) “Nobody…” I’ll tell you what, there’s a little phrase that I hear: “Nobody dies today. They live to fight another day.” You’ve done a fantastic job.

And I’m told that, not long ago, a critically injured soldier was brought here in need of multiple blood transfusions. Within 15 minutes, more than 100 members of Bagram — the community, the base — showed up to give their blood. That says everything you need to know about the men and women who serve here. Thank you very much. It was incredible. They needed it fast, and they got it. (Applause.) They got it.

Every day, the fierce soldiers of the U.S. Army are carrying out harrowing missions across this land. The Army marches bravely into danger, traverses perilous terrain, and pumps stunning firepower straight into the face of evil.

In particular, I want to thank the men and women of the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, who operate rotary — oh, I know what “rotary” is, right? — (laughter) — rotary wing aircraft across Afghanistan, and fly magnificent Apaches like the one right next to me. That is magnificent.

And I was just at the — at Dover, because you had a terrible accident a week ago of two of your incredible people. And I greeted them as they came in on a very big plane. And I greeted their families. I heard they were fantastic people. So thank you very much for that. I know a lot of you asked about them. Their families are doing fine, but that was a rough night for them, I will tell you. It’s a rough night for me; it’s a rough night for everybody.

Thanks also to the 1st Armor Division’s Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade for supplying our forces. The Brigade is incredible — so respected by everybody — keeping our military in top fighting shape. (Applause.) You are “Iron Soldiers,” they say. “Iron Soldiers.” Do you think so? Yeah. Right? (Applause.) I think so.

And among those in RSSB are two sisters: Master Sergeant Eliana Gallardo and Captain Carla Gallardo. And I don’t know — where are you? Where are you two sisters? Where are they? They’re here someplace. Come here. Come. Have you ever spoken publicly?

CAPTAIN GALLARDO: Yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Give it a sho- — (laughs). She said, “Yes.” That’s pretty good. Please, say something please.

CAPTAIN GALLARDO: Hello, everyone. Happy Thanksgiving. (Applause.)

MASTER SERGEANT GALLARDO: Happy Thanksgiving. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you both. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you both very much.

I know that Senator Barrasso is very proud of the fact that Wyoming’s National Guard is here at Bagram. (Applause.) Oh, you get them, huh? Where are they? Come here. Come here. Say a few words.

FIRST SERGEANT CLANCY: Powder River.

FIRST LIEUTENANT WERGER: Let ‘er buck. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: These people are all action, no talk. (Laughter.) But I just want to thank you for being here.

And the Alpha Battery Second of the 300th Field Artillery Battalion, thank you very much. Your First Lieutenant Ira Werger and First Sergeant Michael Clancy — I want to thank you very much for doing such a great job in leading the unit.

Let me also recognize the terrific service members from Area Support Group Afghanistan; JTF Parwan; Task Force Cobalt; our Theater Reaction Force — “Fury”; Task Force Griffin; Task Force Hellhound EOD. Where are you? (Applause.) Task Force Loyalty. (Applause.) I like them. I like them there. Task Force Hiki No. (Applause.) Hiki No. Where are you, Hiki No? (Applause.) That’s great. That’s great.

Warfighters, keep up the great work. Really, keep up the great work. That’s fantastic. And we’re glad we could mention most of you. I know we left somebody out. Did we leave anybody out?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: I agree. Who else? (Laughter.)

Together, we’re all very proud of the part the most feared and lethal fighting force ever assembled has played toward peace. America’s military dominates the sky. Nobody can dominate the sky like we do. We have the new F-35s coming out — stealth, and even super-stealth. It’s hard for the enemy because there’s one problem they have: You can’t see the planes. It’s always tough to fight a plane when you can’t see it.

But America’s military dominates the sky. You dominate the sea. You dominate the land. You dominate space. You will not be deterred, and you will never, ever be defeated.

The United States never seeks war. We seek peace wherever peace can be found. We want peace. We do want peace. I want peace more than anybody. You know, they said, when I was elected, “Oh, we’ll be in a war in the first day.” Right? Remember that? No.

But when we do, and if we do — and I hope we never do — we will win. We’re going to fight to win. We only fight to win. We only fight to win. (Applause.)

But if we are forced, we will avenge the enemy with overwhelming power, and we will win like — the old days, we won. Then we went where we sort of played for ties. But we don’t play for ties anymore. We don’t do the tie thing anymore. Is that okay with you folks? Is that all right? (Applause.)

Victory on the battlefield will always belong to you, the American warrior. In the long run, of course, the future of Afghanistan and nations across this region will not be decided on the battlefield. Ultimately, there will be — need to be a political solution, and we’re working with the President and we’re working with a lot of people right now on a political solution decided by the people of the region themselves.

But rest assured that my administration will always be committed to annihilating terrorists wherever they appear, because we don’t want them in our country. We’re going to tell them, “Get the hell out.” And we’re doing it all the time. “Get them out.” And we will continue to work tirelessly for the day when we can bring each and every one of you home and safe to your family. And that day is coming — coming very soon.

In the 18 years since the attacks of September 11th, thousands of American patriots have left their everyday lives and cherished loved ones, put on their uniforms, and flown here to Afghanistan. Some of our brave warriors have made the ultimate sacrifice. We honor their memory today, and we will always honor their memory. Like all of them, each of you came to do your duty. You came to defend American liberty. You came because our nation needed you, and they needed you right here.

The men and women of our military are totally loyal to our country. And every day I am President, America will always be totally loyal to you.

I just want to finish by saying that, with your courage, we will continue to pursue America’s enemies to ends of the Earth. Greatest in the world. We will chase them down. We will get the terrorists. We will break their will. We will not give them rest — no break and no way out. They won’t have a chance. As long as America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines are on the mission, our nation’s adversaries do not have even a small hope of victory.

Together, we will preserve our freedom, we will protect our homeland, and we will always defend and honor our great American flag.

I want to thank you, Bagram Air Base. This is a special place — a place that everybody talks about in our country. What you’ve done here and what you’ve built here is powerful. And I just want to say: Next year, we’ll be having Thanksgiving together — it may be back in the United States — because you’ve done so much work here, and you’ve done it well.

God bless you. God bless our great country. God bless everybody in this room. Be safe. I will see you very soon. We will be back. We’ll be back. And we are coming back as a country like nobody has ever seen.

When I’m greeted — and I’m often greeted — by leaders of the world, they start off by saying two things: “Congratulations on what you’ve done with your country, from an economic standpoint. We’ve never seen anything like it.” And, “Sir, congratulations on rebuilding your military.” And that’s what we’ve done.

God bless you all. Thank you very much. Thank you.

END

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blame the editor

rawclyde!

old timer chronicle

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ghani rival boycotts vote recount

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by sayed salahuddin

arab news

november 11 & 14, 2019

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KABUL: Afghanistan’s elections were in deadlock on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani’s key rival, Abdullah Abdullah, called for a halt to a recount, saying he would not accept “fraud-marked” results. The move adds a fresh layer of uncertainty to the Sept. 28 poll, which was marred by a record low turnout and feuding between Abdullah and Ghani.

Speaking at a large gathering in Kabul, Abdullah, who has shared power with Ghani since the 2014 presidential elections, urged the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to review its decision on Saturday to carry out a recount.

He said that the IEC needed to discard tens of thousands of votes that it had already invalidated because they were not based on the biometric system — the key condition on which candidates and the IEC had agreed in order to minimize voter fraud.

Abdullah said he would not compromise with Ghani as he had done in the previous poll, which went to a second round following a US-brokered deal between the two.

“The election was held on the basis of use of biometric devices. When the vote is not on the basis of biometric, it means there is no credible vote,” he told the crowd.

“Our observers have refused to participate in the recount. We also informed the commission about it. When our observers have no presence in the supervision due to a legal objection and the fact that a legal regulation has been violated, then the results will have no legitimacy,” he said. Abdullah said that more than 2,400 biometric devices either had gone missing or had their chips removed.

A German firm hired to help in data transfer to the server has discarded more than 860,000 non-biometric votes. Two other candidates have also protested against the IEC’s decision to include invalidated votes in the recount.

A spokesman for Ghani, Fazl Rahman, said that the Afghan leader “accepts the commission’s recount decision provided there is no further delay in announcing the result of the votes.”

IEC officials had no immediate comment.

One commissioner for the government-appointed body, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arab News that a recount will delay an announcement of the initial vote result.

The initial vote was set to have been announced three weeks ago, but was delayed until Nov. 14. The presidential election saw the lowest voter turnout since the Taliban’s ousting and was twice delayed because of divisions within the government and US talks with the Taliban.

Of 9.6 million registered voters, less than 2 million people cast their votes due to Taliban attacks and disillusionment with leaders for failing to deliver on their campaign pledges.

Abdullah said Ghani’s team should be held accountable for any crisis related to the elections because the incumbent had pushed for a recount.

Both Ghani and Abdullah claimed victory days after the poll.

The election stalemate comes amid renewed US efforts to resume talks with the Taliban.

“If the result is announced by the commission, it is clear that the other side will not accept it because the two frontrunners have already claimed to have won,” Shafiq Haqpal, an analyst, told Arab News.

“We are reaching a deadlock. People are fed up with so many elections going wrong. It would be better to establish a caretaker government or third person to rescue Afghanistan from a deepening crisis,” he said.

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original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1582141/world

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islamic state ‘defeated’ in nangarhar

west afghanistan

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cna

jalalabad afghanistan

nov 10, 2019

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JALALABAD (Afghanistan): The Islamic State group’s Afghan branch has been “defeated” in one of the key eastern provinces where it first sought to establish a stronghold, a top Afghan security official said Sunday (Nov 10).

The claim comes after the extremists first burst into Afghanistan’s conflict in 2015, when they overran large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, near the Pakistan border.

In the years since, they have claimed responsibility for a string of horrific bombings across Afghanistan, including at a wedding hall in Kabul, and have been continually attacked by US, Afghan and even Taliban forces.

IS “were defeated in Nangarhar, their centres were destroyed”, acting interior minister Massoud Andarabi told reporters in Jalalabad, the Nangarhar provincial capital, amid ongoing operations against the militants.

“We will soon destroy their last centres. With the people’s help, we will completely eliminate them. Some of their smaller groups are surrendering, other small groups will be eliminated in other provinces.”

He went on to say that IS were being “completely defeated” in Afghanistan.

US Forces-Afghanistan, which closely monitors the IS footprint in Afghanistan, declined to comment, referring a query back to the Interior Ministry.
Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for Nangarhar’s governor, said 32 IS fighters surrendered to government forces on Saturday.
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“They are coming in big numbers,” he told AFP.
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IS have suffered a string of major defeats in recent months, including the collapse of their self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Syria and the death of the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a US raid in Syria last month.

Connections between Baghdadi and the IS affiliate in Afghanistan, better known as IS in the Khorasan, or IS-K, have always been murky.

But Khogyani said Baghdadi’s death has disrupted IS-K’s command and control structure.

“It has affected the fighters on the ground here, they are either surrendering to the government or going back to their ordinary lives,” he said.

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original story:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/is-defeated-in-key-afghan-province-official-12080732