Col. Sheena Johnson & The Ants

   by Rawclyde!

Thousands of ants

Tumble across the raggedy ground

At the feet of Col. Sheena Johnson

& her faithful hubby Habibullah

~

The couple sit cross-legged honing arrowheads of Sufi bliss

In front of the commander’s imported Native American teepee

“I’ve never seen a horde of ants like this,” says ex-Talib Habibullah

“I wonder where they are going?”

~

Elder Haji Mujadooti having trudged up the mountain-ridge trail

Stands out of breath amidst the horde of ants, tries to say something

He slaps his pants frantically, falls down, rolls around spastically

Thus disrupting the peaceful scene with idiotic old-man antics

~

Covered head to toe with angry biting ants

He heroically stands up & despite the pain he is suffering

Says to Habibulla’s infidel wife,  “Do something, Sheena!

Our courageous Afghan soldiers are dying below!”

~

~

Ahhh!

The commander knows Afghanistan

She knows Taliban & she knows ants too

She arises

~

The empress of the Afghaneeland village of Pluckame

Pulls Haji Mujadooti out of the jam in which he stands

“Darling husband, please tend to this poor wise man”

Habibullah smiles, arises & does as bidden

~

Barefoot, Sheena steps into the rapidly moving horde of angry ants

Not one lousy insect crawls onto one toe of the formidable goddess

She stands erect as the Rock of Gibraltar & prays to St. Joan of Arizona

Who in a distant land relays the message to heaven

~

And by God, Sheena’s Sufi bow materializes in her held out hand

Sufi armor crackles sparsely here & there on her outrageously perfect body

She picks up a freshly cut & carved & honed world-peace arrow

Fits it to the bow string, aims, shuts her eyes, let’s it go

~

The cosmic forces of the universe gather upon the arrowhead point

Thrust forward into the oblivion of every Taliban brain below

Capt’n Chuck Fiddler’s Afghaneeland Sufi Bubble

& divine revelations explode!!! 

~

Suddenly beyond anybody’s wildest expectation

There are no more Taliban in the tumultuous nation of Afghanistan

The insurgents have transformed into the silliest looking little ants ever seen

All carrying rifles tinier than toothpicks

~

Pvt. Ghani Gandhara gut-shot and breathing his last breath

Picks up one of these purple insects on the end of his thumb & smiles

The Afghan National Army defending the nation’s new democracy shall prevail

Pvt. Gandhara leaps beyond the veil… 

~

Text / Copyright Clyde Collins 2014

~

Col. Sheena Johnson at the helm of

Capt’n Chuck Fiddler’s Afghaneeland Sufi Bubble

~

Afghaneeland Adventure Series | Old Timer Chronicle II

~

Sept 11

~

SOUTHWESTERN REPERCUSSION
Cloyd Campfire

Thee atilt guru, who was admired by so many furious folks upon the streets of the Third World lands, slung-shot a rather heavy stone into a distant bedazzling pond.

Davy Crockett reincarnated, sauntering thru the day-room that morning, couldn’t help but note the bewildered look upon the faces of the patriots stretched-out infront of the post-modern campfire plugged into the wall of instant news.

T’was their pond. Two of the tallest skyscrapers around ~ collapsed. Thousands died. And ripples of sorrow, anger, and high-tech vengeance began to move across and beyond the pond. And these fragrant pond water ripples expanded around our ancient space ship ~ Earth.

And then, and thennnnnnn, bombs begun falling all around Osama bin Laden, thee atilt guru of today’s and tomorrow’s yore.

Davy Crockett, yes, reincarnated, who in this budding 21st Century was an unemployed homeless man, somewhat confused by these ricocheting ripples that had slapped upon the shores of his sleep-walking dreams, didn’t know what to do, so he watched the tube & read the paper, and finally kicked a can. The airborne tin smacked Sammy Sidhartha, a Budhist amongst us, up the side of his head.

And Sidhartha replied, “Behind a very valid and pretty pertinent assertion are centuries of cumulative Budhist insight into the relationship between the individual and the cosmos.”

“Yes, yes,” intellectually prodded Crockett. “And that assertion is?”

Sidhartha continued, “It’s just that errors in the realm of religion invite disasters in the external world. For example, embracing one creed rather than another can result in earthquakes and epidemics.”

Crockett scratched his head vigorously. “Sounds like superstition to me.”

“That’s because you’re an occidental oxymoron.” Sidhartha smiled benignly. “Another way of putting it is ~ your smallest remark, your slightest move can have undreamed of consequences.”

“Such as my kicking the can and it accidently hitting you up side of your head?” inserted Crockett.

“Exactly!” punctuated Sidhartha.

“But what about Osama bin Laden?”

“What about him?”

“He’s had quite an effect.”

“And so can you!” concluded Sidhartha. He staggered slightly from the blow of the can, straightened up, and went back to his chores.

Davy was left slightly dazed by this information so generously expelled by his fellow patriot, who was also homeless. The wisdoms exuded by this new found info, slipped like smoke through the mesh of Davy’s brain ~ ’til his initial dazementality transformationed into a brand new day between his ears ~ a clear day in which he could see forever. This broad landscape behind Davy’s eyes, which incidently became more n’ more gooey bright as his triggered intellect rapidly evolved, this broad landscape more n’ more resembled the Sonoran Desert ~ and Davy construed out of a certain memory a newly discovered truth.

Yes! The memory of a coyote in a thick winter coat trotting by Davy’s truck, which was parked by a dry-wash in the middle of a desert no-where one crisp morning, this coyote’s momentary appearance upon the scene, now, many moons later, made Bin Laden’s murderous antics less affecting than ~ than an ant!

~

http://crockettreincarnated.yolasite.com

~

6 US Soldiers Killed in Copter Crash

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By Cid Standifer and Jon Harper

Stars and Stripes

December 17, 2013

 

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KABUL — Six U.S. servicemembers were killed Tuesday when their helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan; one American on board survived, U.S. defense officials said.

The International Security Assistance Force did not release the names or nationalities of the casualties pending notification of their families. But in Washington, a U.S. defense official said all the victims were Americans.

The official said there was one survivor who was injured in the Black Hawk UH-60 crash. The injured survivor is an American.

Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash, but ISAF said initial reports indicated there was no enemy activity in the area.

Malik Ali Mohammad, district governor of Shahjoi district in southern Zabul province, said an aircraft crashed there at 2 p.m. Tuesday. ISAF officials would not confirm the location of the crash.

The crash brings the total number of ISAF deaths in Afghanistan to more than 150 this year, according to iCasualties.org. It marks the deadliest day for coalition forces in Afghanistan since seven Georgian soldiers were killed in a suicide bombing in Helmand province on June 6.

Afghanistan has long been known as a difficult place for pilots to navigate due to its rugged high-altitude terrain. At least 180 aircraft are reported to have crashed or been destroyed during the 12-year war, according to civil aviation safety statistics and published reports on military crashes.

Accidents caused the vast majority of the crashes, and military helicopters belonging to the NATO-led coalition accounted for most of the overall losses. Helicopters are widely used in Afghanistan as inter-theater transports due to the threat posed by roadside bombs and land mines and because the mountainous country lacks modern roads.

In April, there was a series of crashes: A civilian cargo plane crashed in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven civilians; four airmen were killed in the crash of an MC-12 twin-turboprop aircraft, also in Shahjoi district; and on April 3, an F-16 fighter-bomber crashed about 10 miles south of Bagram Air Field, killing the pilot.

In March, two helicopters crashed within a week. The pilot of an OH-58 Kiowa helicopter died when the chopper crashed in Kandahar province. A Black Hawk crashed outside Kandahar city, killing five U.S. servicemembers.

In all of those instances, the NATO-led coalition said no enemy activity was reported.

Additionally, in May a KC-135 tanker aircraft supporting operations in Afghanistan crashed in nearby Kyrgyzstan.

In February, a U.S. helicopter went down in eastern Kapisa province. Coalition officials said no one was seriously injured in that incident, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility. It, too, was under investigation.

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Jon Harper reported from Washington. Josh Smith, Alex Pena and Heath Druzin contributed to this report, as did Zubair Babakarkhail and The Associated Press.

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Continue reading

Ignoring Karzai’s Insults

an editorial by John Allen and Michael O’Hanlon

New York Times, November 28, 2013

Gen Allen US Marines

John Allen (left), a retired Marine Corps general and former commander of NATO and American forces in Afghanistan…  Michael O’Hanlon (not in photo) helped with the spelling…

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WASHINGTON — What is going on with President Hamid Karzai? The world’s only superpower, leading a coalition of some 50 nations, is willing to stay on in his country after a war that has already lasted a dozen years and cost the United States more than $600 billion and more than 2,000 fatalities — and yet the Afghan president keeps throwing up roadblocks.

The latest insult is his decision to hold off on signing a bilateral security agreement, the legal basis for American forces to remain in his country past 2014, on the grounds that his successor should have that prerogative next year. Mr. Karzai has also thrown in new demands — just when we thought the security agreement was a done deal. For one, he now seems to believe he can compel the United States to release all Afghan detainees in the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay.

Certainly, part of Mr. Karzai’s attitude comes from the umbrage he has taken at various Americans, especially in recent years. Some United States officials did make mistakes in their handling of the complex Afghan leader, lecturing him in public too stridently about matters such as Afghan government corruption. There can be little doubt, though, that Mr. Karzai’s own peevishness and ingratitude have played a large role.

In addition, Mr. Karzai believes, accurately perhaps, that the talks over the bilateral security agreement provide him with his last remaining leverage with Washington. He is wrong in thinking that Afghanistan remains a center of geopolitics, the location of a modern-day “great game” like the 19th-century competition between Britain and Russia, or the 1980s Cold War struggle pitting the Soviet Union against the United States and others. But Mr. Karzai is right that we are concerned enough about Afghanistan’s future to wish to maintain a presence even after NATO’s combat mission expires in just 13 months. He also rightly perceives that the United States wants to keep a vigilant eye on extremist groups in tribal regions of northwest Pakistan.

Against this backdrop, American officials should stay calm. It would be a mistake to let one man — increasingly detached from Afghan public and political opinion — determine the fate of the American role in South Asia. Even with Osama bin Laden dead, the stakes remain high: Extremist groups from Al Qaeda to Lashkar-e-Taiba (the Pakistani group responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attack) could easily put down roots again in Afghanistan if the country were to fall to the Taliban after NATO’s departure.

The recent assembly of Afghan tribal elders, a loya jirga, again demonstrated what we already knew — that the Afghan people want us to stay. After the defeat of the Soviets in 1989, civil war, state collapse and Taliban victory followed. The Afghan people have seen this movie already; they do not want the sequel. The loya jirga urged Mr. Karzai to sign the agreement; he demurred.

The main candidates in Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential election also want us to stay. A poll by the Moby Group in Kabul, Afghanistan’s largest private media organization, suggests that the two leading contenders are former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani. Both are pro-Western; both are smart and competent. The same is true of Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul, said by some to be President Karzai’s choice to succeed him after elections in April. Other candidates also support a continuing American and international presence.

So the United States should stay patient. It can say to Mr. Karzai, If you want to reinforce Afghan democracy by letting your successor sign this security deal, we can live with that; in the meantime, working with your ministers and other leaders, we will plan on staying — precisely as if the accord were already in place.

Of course, the United States can make contingency plans; it would need a Plan B in any event. Even as it anticipates alternate scenarios, it can continue discussions with Mr. Karzai on the other “conditions” that he has just introduced. For American leaders, we counsel patience and flexibility in the talks on a security deal.

Let us remember the girls who can go to school — an affront to the Taliban — and the Afghan women who are increasingly emerging as an important factor in the future of their country. Let’s remember, too, the ethnic minorities who have found a place and their voice in a modern, forward-looking Afghanistan.

And finally, let’s not forget the progress purchased so dearly in this decade and more of war. We must not permit Mr. Karzai’s pique to flush all this down the drain.

The United States can ride this one out. And given the enduring American strategic interests in this part of the world, as well as our huge sacrifice, that’s exactly what we should do.

In the end, this is about the American and the Afghan peoples, not about Hamid Karzai.

boy-donkey2

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Elders Endorse U.S. Troops’ Presence

Afghan elder, interpreter, US soldier...

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by Tim Craig

Washington Post

November 24, 20013

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KABUL — An emotional showdown between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and 2,500 tribal elders here Sunday ended with some — but not all — of what the United States was hoping for.

The elders endorsed an agreement under which the United States will continue to provide advice and training to Afghan security forces, and conduct counterterrorism operations, after the withdrawal of international combat forces at the end of next year. Although President Obama has yet to indicate the size of a potential post-2014 force, most estimates are that it would include up to 10,000 troops.

Delegates said it was in Afghanistan’s “vital national interest” to have a partnership with the United States, and they urged Karzai not to delay the signing of the bilateral security agreement until after the country holds elections in April.

“President Karzai should promise us, he should sign the [agreement] as soon as possible,” said Sibghatullah Mojaddedi, the former Afghan president who chaired the four-day gathering, known as a loya jirga. “This agreement will be beneficial for the people.”

But Karzai remained defiant, taking the stage during the final hours of the jirga to repeat that his signature will not come easily ~ or quickly. Karzai said he wants additional assurances from Washington that the United States will not meddle in the April elections. He also wants the Obama administration to ensure security within Afghanistan and at the same time to promise that a U.S. soldier will never again enter the home of an Afghan citizen in a military operation.

“Peace, security and a transparent election are preconditions for signing,” Karzai declared. “From now onward, Americans don’t have the right to raid our homes. If they raid our homes one more time, there will be no agreement.”

Secretary of State John F. Kerry praised the elders’ decision to endorse the agreement and urged Karzai to sign it before the end of the year.

“I can’t imagine a more compelling affirmation from the Afghan people themselves of their commitment to a long-term partnership with the United States and our international partners,” Kerry said. “The critical next step must be to get the [agreement] signed in short order.”

When he called for the jirga a few months ago, Karzai said he needed to obtain a national consensus about whether U.S. troops were wanted after next year and if so, under what terms. He said repeatedly in recent weeks that the jirga’s vote would heavily influence his decision on whether to forward the agreement to parliament for final approval.

But faced with strong support for the agreement from the jirga, Karzai remained deeply skeptical. His speech to the delegates Sunday was frequently interrupted by elders who urged him to avoid delays in finalizing the accord.

Uncharacteristically, Karzai appeared to abruptly cut off his prepared comments in the face of the outbursts. “On your behalf, I will continue negotiating,” Karzai said as he quickly walked off the stage.

Unlike in his opening address to the jirga last week, Karzai appeared to stop short of directly stating that he won’t sign the agreement until after his successor is chosen in April. That omission is likely to please U.S. officials, who had been looking for an opening to try to get him to move up his timetable…

Afghan elder, interpreter, ISAF soldier

“We are studying President Karzai’s speech. We continue to believe that signing the agreement as quickly as possible is in the interests of both countries,” said Robert H. Hilton, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

The Obama administration has suggested that there is little room for additional negotiating on the agreement, saying the version now up for consideration was the “final offer.”

But the jirga, whose vote is not binding, set a few conditions before expressing approval of the agreement. Most notably, the elders called for a 10-year time limit on the post-2014 troop presence and said they would seek reparations for damages caused by U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan.

In stark contrast to the jirga delegates’ endorsement of the U.S.-Afghan partnership, Karzai denounced the U.S. government in his remarks Sunday, which were made with U.S. Ambassador James B. Cunningham in the room.

Karzai said the Obama administration undermined him when it allowed Taliban leaders to establish a temporary office in Doha, Qatar, in June, during an unsuccessful effort by the United States to broker peace talks between the Taliban and Karzai’s government. He accused the Obama administration of interfering in the country’s 2009 elections, which he called an attempt to weaken the Afghan government. And he lashed out at the U.S. military for entering the homes of Afghan civilians.

After Karzai spoke, Mojaddedi pleaded with Karzai to reconsider.

“Mr. President, give us your pledge that you will sign the deal soon,” Mojaddedi said. He added, apparently in jest, that Karzai would have to move out of Afghanistan if there is no long-term security deal with the United States.

Then, in an extraordinary moment in Afghan politics, Karzai returned to the stage so that he and Mojaddedi could briefly debate the matter before the 2,500 delegates and a national television audience.

“They must commit that they will not kill Afghans in their homes,” Karzai insisted, adding, “If they do this, then we will sign.”

As the encounter was ending, Mojaddedi said, “If you don’t sign it, we will be disappointed,” according to an account published by the Associated Press.

“Fine,” Karzai said, as he once again left the stage.

Sayed Salahuddin and Mohammad Sharif contributed to this report.

Afghan Elder 2

Afghan Elder

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Kabul Bombing

afghan-police-in-kabul-moping-up-taliban-attack-6-10-2013

Police in Kabul

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by Azam Ahmed & Jawad Sukhanyar

New York Times

November 16, 2013

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KABUL, Afghanistan — A powerful car bomb that exploded near the site where Afghan elders are set to vote on a long-term security agreement with the United States killed at least 10 people on Saturday, rattling central Kabul and underscoring the insurgency’s desire to prevent an American presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

The bomb exploded shortly after 3 p.m. near the gates of Kabul Educational University, as students and pedestrians were filtering through the area, police officials said. An Afghan Army Humvee patrolling the area was also struck, killing at least one soldier and wounding three others, according to witnesses and the spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defense.

As the area is cleared, more bodies are likely to be uncovered.

The scene around the gates of the school was one of devastation. More than a dozen cars were destroyed in the blast, which leveled structures and pulverized bystanders, leaving shattered glass, blood and pieces of flesh covering the ground. The attack occurred at a police checkpoint on the way to the university, which is near a major transportation hub. A large bus filled with people was shredded in the blast.

“Students and schoolgirls were passing,” said Dr. Ghulam Sarwar Zohair, an employee of a nongovernmental organization with offices nearby. “Lots of people got injured and probably killed.”

The gate of the university is just a few hundred yards from the site where elders and other important Afghans are scheduled to assemble to vote on the security agreement between Afghanistan and the United States on Thursday. The approval of the pact by the assembly, known as a loya jirga, is a vital step toward allowing United States forces to remain in the country and continue training the Afghan Army.

“We believe it was meant to bring disorder before we convene the jirga,” said a spokesman for the loya jirga, Abdul Khaliq Hussain Pashayee. “We are hopeful and expect Afghan security forces to provide a better security environment for the representatives of the people who will be meeting next week.”

Violence has been somewhat muted in Kabul in recent months. A spate of major attacks on the capital early in the summer, including one that killed at least nine people, gave way to an uneasy silence.

Afghan security forces have been on high alert in the days before the vote. Soldiers and police officers have been searching the area surrounding the site in recent weeks, demanding documentation and ownership papers from people in households in the vicinity.

The bombing on Saturday was a major blow to efforts to protect a significant symbol of the country’s fledgling democracy. About 2,500 people are expected to convene next week for the jirga, supported by President Hamid Karzai.

The Taliban, which did not immediately take responsibility for the attack, have been vehement in their opposition to the security pact, calling Mr. Karzai’s jirga a “farce.” The group released a statement last week denouncing the security deal and urging Afghans to boycott the jirga.

The Karzai government, the Taliban wrote in the statement, wants to carry out the wishes of the Americans and “implement a treacherous deal which in our history will forever be known as national sedition and a criminal act against our nation. Under this treacherous deal, undertaken between a master and slave, the barbarian American Army will continue its occupation of our beloved homeland.”

As recently as a month ago, it was far from assured that the Afghan government even wanted to sign the deal. Bitter recriminations between Mr. Karzai and his American counterparts had led to a stalemate, leaving the future of training — and, indirectly, funding — for the Afghan forces up in the air.

But last month, Afghan and American officials reached a crucial breakthrough. Secretary of State John Kerry spent nearly 24 hours negotiating with Mr. Karzai, ending the marathon session with an agreement on major elements.

But crucial issues remain unresolved, in particular the requirement by the United States that its troops are granted immunity from prosecution under Afghan law. The issue is a deal-breaker for the United States, which withdrew its forces from Iraq when a similar demand was not met. Mr. Karzai, meanwhile, has not indicated any softening in his own stance on the matter, saying only that he maintains a different view from his American allies.

The loya jirga, as a traditional gathering of elders and other important figures in Afghanistan, is often viewed as an expression of the will of the Afghan people. Mr. Karzai has insisted on using the gathering to make the formal decision on the bilateral security agreement, in part so as not to be seen as a puppet of the Americans.

Still, most here expect the vote to reflect the will of Mr. Karzai.

Haris Kakar contributed reporting.

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Continue reading

The Killing of Nasiruddin Haqqani

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Written by Bill Roggio

November 12, 2013

The Long War Journal

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The Afghan Taliban condemned the killing of Nasiruddin Haqqani, a top official in the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network who was gunned down yesterday in Islamabad, Pakistan.

The statement announcing the “martyrdom” of Nasiruddin was released November 12th on the Afghan Taliban’s official website, Voice of Jihad. It was signed by “The Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” the official name of the Afghan Taliban.

Nasiruddin served as a key financier and facilitator for the group. He also served as an “emissary” to al Qaeda, and often traveled to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates between 2004-2009 to carry out fundraising for the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, and the Taliban.

“It is with great regret that we have learned about the martyrdom of Nasiruddin Haqqani (may Allah accept him), the elder son of the famous Jihadi and scholarly personality and member of Leadership Council of Islamic the respected Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani,” the Afghan Taliban said.

While the Taliban did not describe how Nariruddin was killed, they said he died “in a cowardly terrorist attack of the enemy ….” Nasiruddin was gunned down outside a bakery run by Afghans in the Bhara Kahu area of Islamabad. The unidentified shooters were riding motorcycles when they attacked him.

No group has claimed credit for killing Nasiruddin. The Afghan Taliban’s statement did not define the “enemy.” The Pakistani Taliban accused the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, Pakistan’s military intelligence service, which backs the Haqqani Network, of executing the attack. But given the Haqqani Network’s relationship with the ISID, Nasiruddin is more likely to have been killed in an Afghan or US intelligence operation, by rival jihadist groups (the Haqqani Network is rarely involved in jihadist infighting), or by criminals.

The killing of Nasiruddin in Islamabad puts a dent in the narrative of the Taliban as well as the Pakistani government, that the Haqqani Network is based in eastern Afghanistan and does not operate in Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban maintain this position in order to portray their jihad in Afghanistan as a nationalist fight and to protect their Pakistani backers. The Pakistani government and military maintain that the Haqqanis operate only in Afghanistan, in order to rebuff US and Western pressure to act against the group. The Haqqani Network is closely tied to al Qaeda and is one of the most effective jihadist groups operating in Afghanistan.

Haqqani Network is part of the Taliban

The Taliban’s statement is further confirmation that the Haqqani Network is a key part of the Afghan Taliban. In the past, Western officials have attempted to delink the Afghan Taliban from the Haqqani Network, as part of an effort to weaken the Taliban movement and divide the groups in order to negotiate a peace deal. While the Haqqani Network operates with a degree of autonomy in eastern Afghanistan, the group still falls under the command of the Afghan Taliban.

But the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network have publicly denied that the Haqqanis operate outside the aegis of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. In a statement released on Voice of Jihad in September 2012, the Afghan Taliban addressed this issue head on.

The Taliban claimed in that statement that there is “no separate entity or network in Afghanistan by the name of Haqqani,” and that their overall leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani, is a member of the Quetta Shura, the group’s top leadership council.

“The honorable Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani is a member of the Leadership Council of Islamic Emirate and is a close, loyal and trusted associate of the esteemed Amir-ul-Mumineen [leader of the faithful, Mullah Omar] and those Mujahideen entrusted under the command of his sons are in fact the heroic Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate who like other Mujahideen strictly obey the esteemed Amir-ul-Mumineen and wage Jihad against the invaders throughout the country,” the Taliban statement said.

The Taliban also claimed that the Haqqani Network was created by the US as part of “its satanic plot” to divide the group.

“By employing its satanic plot, America is trying to create and black list a separate entity in the organized and unified rank of Islamic Emirate …,” the statement continued.

Haqqani Network leaders have also rebuffed claims that the two groups operate independently.  In a 2008 interview with Al Somood, the Taliban’s official magazine, Jalaluddin outlined his role in the Taliban and said he was a member of the Quetta Shura. He also denied that his followers constituted a separate entity from the Taliban.

The Haqqani Network frequently releases its propaganda tapes and statements through Voice of Jihad and its leaders are often interviewed in Al Somood. The Afghan Taliban also issue martyrdom statements for slain top Haqqani Network leaders, such as Nasiruddin or Badruddin Haqqani, who was killed in a US drone strike in Pakistan in 2012.

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The Long War Journal

http://www.longwarjournal.org

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Afghan Forces In “The Valley Of Death”

IED hunt

The Afghan National Army (ANA) regards Taliban improvised explosive devices (IEDs) buried in Afghan highways as unacceptable…

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BBC News

9 November 2013

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If the Afghan National Army (ANA) is to prevent the Taliban from taking control of the country after Nato withdraws in 2014, its success in capturing and securing the strategically important and mountainous district of Chapa Dara in the eastern province of Kunar may provide a template, the BBC’s Bilal Sarwary reports:

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There is no decent road to Chapa Dara – only a bumpy dirt track takes you to this mountainous district. The area is known for its dense forests and vast maize fields that offer a perfect hideout to Taliban insurgents.

Lack of development and a near total absence of government helped the Taliban take control of the only road access to Chapa Dara two-and-a-half years ago, paralysing an already weak administration.

“The Taliban did not allow food, fuel, even medicine to pass through this road,” General Hayatullah Aqtash, commander of the Afghan National Army in Kunar, tells me.

“Prices of essential items sky rocketed, the government was paralysed and locals were terrorised.”

Kunar Province has always been a crucible of conflict. Tucked away in the north-eastern corner of Afghanistan, it borders Pakistan’s tribal badlands. It is one of the first ports of call for war-minded militants crossing the mountain passes.

In recent months US drones – and the aerial intelligence they provided – are estimated to have killed more than 100 Taliban fighters, breaking the backbone of the Taliban and enabling the ANA to assume control of Chapa Dara, Gen Aqtash said.

Last year a US drone attack in the Shegal district of Kunar killed Mullah Dadullah, a high-ranking Pakistani Taliban commander.

Top Taliban commander Maulawi Nur Mohammad and his deputy Atiqullah were also killed in Kunar during 2012.

One of the main aims of the recent military operation was to reopen the Kunar-Nuristan road, which was eventually achieved earlier this year…

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As the army convoy in which I travelled drove on the dirt track alongside the Pech river, we could see white flags – similar to the ones the Taliban flew during their five-year rule in Afghanistan – fluttering on the other side.

The flags symbolise that the Taliban are in control.

But they have been ejected from Chapa Dara by the ANA.

“We have secured the road, because you have to start from the road,” Gen Aqtash said.

“We have come under attack and we suffered casualties in road-side bomb blasts. But we want the Taliban to know that we are not going anywhere.”

After two hours driving, the convoy reached Chapa Dara…

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Most local people seem to welcome the removal of the Taliban, some even providing ANA troops with food, milk and tea.

“Until recently, the Taliban controlled our lives,” says Mohammad Bashir, a shopkeeper in the district market.

“Men were beaten up for not having a beard. Music was banned. People were shot dead on the slightest suspicion of spying for the government.”

Locals said continuous clashes between the security forces and insurgents over the past two-and-a-half years forced closure of the market and the district’s only school.

“Life here came to a standstill,” one village elder said. “We were stuck between the government forces and the insurgents.”

Ihsanullah Gojar, the police chief of Chapa Dara, said his men suffered most during the siege.

“Dozens of policemen have been injured fighting the Taliban over the past two years,” he said.

“Many of them had injuries that were treatable but they died of their wounds because of the shortage of medical supplies and doctors.

“We were promised helicopter pick-ups for the injured, but they never came. It was painful to see my men die before my eyes and I could do nothing about it,” the police chief said.

As he spoke, several villagers gather around the military convoy, greeting the soldiers with flowers.

“People are happy that Taliban has been removed from Chapa Dara,” one elder said.

But the district is desperate for development. There is no judge or prosecutor in Chapa Dara, no clinic, no public health officials or teachers.

The absence of government services is so grave in fact that it threatens to undermine military advances on the ground.

The government is only in control of the town and district headquarters and surrounding areas. Most valleys and villages are still in the hands of the Taliban or foreign fighters…

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“This means that even though the army has taken control of the district and the road leading to it, the government can’t provide any services to the people,” Gen Aqtash said.

“It is obvious that there is a crisis of governance here. Militarily, we have done the job. But if the civilian side doesn’t work, this success will be for the short term.

“When the US forces were here, they used to nickname the Pech Valley as the Valley of Death, now we are calling it the Valley of Peace.

“But one has to fight and work hard for peace, it does not come cheap.”

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Bilal Sarwary

http://journalisted.com/bilal-sarwary

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BBC News

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-24546628

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Al Qaeda’s Presence

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by Bill Roggio

November 10, 2013

The Long War Journal

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Earlier November, the US military claimed that al Qaeda has a “limited presence” in Afghanistan and is confined to “the remote areas of eastern Afghanistan.” Although Obama administration and military officials have stated for the past four years that al Qaeda has a minimal presence in Afghanistan, the group and its allies continue to sustain operations in the country.

The claim was made in the newly released, Report On Progress Toward Security and Stablity in Afghanistan, a semiannual update prepared by the Department of Defense.

“AQ [Al Qaeda] maintains a limited presence in the remote areas of eastern Afghanistan such as Kunar and Nuristan, and maintains a seasonal presence in other provinces,” the report states.

“During the reporting period [from April 1 to Sept. 30] , sustained counterterrorism (CT) operations exerted pressure on AQ personnel and networks, and eliminated dozens of al Qaeda (AQ) operatives and facilitators, restricting AQ movements to isolated areas within northeastern Afghanistan,” the report continues.

“ISAF [the International Security Assistance Force] estimates that the number of AQ fighters in Afghanistan remains very low, but the AQ relationship with local Afghan Taliban formations remains intact.”

While claiming that al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan is minimal, the report does not mention al Qaeda-allied groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other organizations that fight in Afghanistan and also are part of the global jihad. A plot by the IMU to conduct attacks in Europe was broken up after an IMU operative was captured in Afghanistan in 2010.

US Officials Downplay Al Qaeda’s Importance In Afghanistan

US military officials continue to downplay al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan, despite ample evidence that the group is active in the country as well as in Pakistan.

In an interview on July 28, General Joseph Dunford Jr., the Coalition commander in Afghanistan, said al Qaeda was merely a “shell” of its former self, with only about 75 members in Afghanistan, who were mostly too busy trying to stay alive to plan attacks against the West, the New York Times reported.

Similarly, Major General Joseph Osterman, the deputy operations commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said in July that al Qaeda is fighting for its survival in Afghanistan and is isolated primarily in Nuristan province.

“They are less than 100, I would say, and they are in fact just trying to survive at this point,” Osterman told Reuters. “I think what you find is that it’s not necessarily that they have got a springboard in there.”

Since the summer of 2010, Obama administration officials have been consistently claiming that 50 to 100 al Qaeda operatives are present in Afghanistan. The claims of a limited presence of al Qaeda have been used to justify US disengagement from Afghanistan.

But a study by The Long War Journal that looks at ISAF’s own reports on its raids against al Qaeda since 2007 paints a different picture. Since 2007, ISAF has conducted 357 reported raids against al Qaeda and allied groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and the Lashkar-e-Taiba, in Balkh, Farah, Ghazni, Helmand, Kandahar, Khost, Kunar, Kunduz, Laghman, Logar, Nangarhar, Paktia, Paktika, Sar-i-Pul, Takhar, Wardak, and Zabul, or 17 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Many of these raids have taken place over the past three years.

ISAF data on the location of al Qaeda’s network in Afghanistan is mirrored by al Qaeda’s propaganda. Al Qaeda routinely reports on its Afghan operations in Vanguards of Khorasan, a magazine produced for its members and supporters. Al Qaeda has reported on operations in all of the provinces in which ISAF has conducted raids.

Al Qaeda operatives serve as military advisers to the Taliban, and also fight in small formations throughout the country.

At the end of June, after completing its transition of security responsibilities to the Afghan National Security Forces, ISAF stopped reporting on its raids against al Queda, shutting off information on the targeting of al Qaeda’s network in Afghanistan.

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The Long War Journal

http://www.longwarjournal.org

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Bush

BushBarneyBW

George W.

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A Quote from the book

Decision Points ~ page 220

by George W. Bush:

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As I write in 2010, the war in Afghanistan continues…

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don't cry for me

Taliban

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The Taliban remain active and the Afghan government is struggling to gain full control of its country…

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aim

U.S. Soldier in north-eastern Afghanistan

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From the beginning, I knew it would take time to help the Afghan people build a functioning democracy consistent with its culture and traditions.  The task turned out to be even more daunting than I anticipated.  Our government was not prepared for nation building….

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rock road

High in Afghanistan…

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Over time we adapted our strategy and our capabilities.  Still, the poverty in Afghanistan is so deep, and the infrastructure is so lacking, that it will take many years to complete the work…

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Young Barack Obama

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I strongly believe the mission is worth the cost.  Fortunately, I am not the only one.  In the fall of 2009, President Obama stood up to critics by deploying more troops, announcing a new commitment to counter-insurgency in Afghanistan, and increasing the pressure on Pakistan to fight the extremists in the tribal areas…

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yesteryear

Young George W. Bush

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Ultimately, the only way the Taliban and al Qaeda can retake Afghanistan is if America abandons the country.  Allowing the extremists to reclaim power would force Afghan women back into subservience, remove girls from school, and betray all the gains of the past nine years.  It would also endanger our security.  After the Cold War, the United States gave up on Afghanistan.  The result was chaos, civil war, the Taliban takeover, sanctuary for al Queda, and the nightmare of 9/11.  To forget that lesson would be a dreadful mistake…

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Children of Nuristan Province, Afghanistan

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George W. Bush Presidential Library:

http://www.georgewbushlibrary.smu.edu

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Don’t Cry For Me, Oh Pakistan

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A village in North Waziristan, Pakistan…

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by Tim Craig

Washington Post

November 2, 2013

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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A U.S. drone strike killed the chief of the Pakistani Taliban on Friday, local intelligence officials said, in an attack that could cripple the group but undermine an effort by Pakistan’s government to engage militants in peace talks.

If verified, the death of Hakimullah Mehsud would be a victory for U.S. officials who have spent years hunting down a leader implicated in a 2009 attack that killed seven Americans at a CIA outpost in eastern Afghanistan.

But the drone strike also threatened to add to strains between the United States and Pakistan, whose new prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, had announced earlier in the day that his government would begin talks aimed at reaching a negotiated settlement with the group.

With that plan called off after the strike, Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan issued a statement accusing the United States of carrying out “a conspiracy to sabotage the peace talks.’’

On Saturday, Pakistan filed a formal protest with the U.S. ambassador and plans to protest to all five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, as well, according to the Foreign Ministry. Khan said that the government intends to review the “entire perspective of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship” at the highest levels.

“Our efforts have been ambushed, and it was not an ambush from the front,” he said.

Intelligence officials in northwestern Pakistan said Friday that Mehsud had been killed after he met with other senior Taliban leaders to discuss the peace initiative, one aimed at ending years of violence that has claimed more than 45,000 lives. A local Taliban commander confirmed Mehsud’s death.

In Washington, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said U.S. officials are not in a position to confirm reports of Mehsud’s death, “but if true, this would be a serious loss” for the Pakistani Taliban.

The attack came just eight days after a White House meeting in which Sharif and President Obama pledged closer cooperation between the two countries. In Pakistan, those who expressed outrage over the strike included Imran Khan, a senior political leader who said he would immediately press to have the government cut off NATO supply routes through northwest Pakistan, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Khan was following through on a threat he made Thursday, when he warned that U.S. supply routes to and from Afghanistan would be disrupted if the drone strikes were to continue. Other Pakistani and Taliban officials said it could take a few days to fully assess the political and strategic impact of the strike.

The interior minister said Saturday that the government will decide after Sharif returns to Islamabad whether to suspend the convoys.

Mehsud, who is believed to be about 33, took over as head of the Pakistani Taliban in 2009 after the group’s leader, Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in a U.S. drone strike. The United States had offered a $5 million bounty for his capture.

Hakimullah Mehsud has been viewed as the linchpin for a broad range of Islamist militant groups that have sought to impose strict Islamic law in Pakistan. According to a 2010 BBC profile, Mehsud started out organizing attacks on NATO convoys in northwest Pakistan during the early years of…

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HM

The late Hakimullah Mehsud & Taliban & Al Qaeda cronies…

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…the war in Afghanistan. By 2009, he was the group’s commander and appeared in a video alongside the Jordanian man who carried out the suicide bombing at the CIA facility in Afghanistan.

In May 2010, Mehsud also surfaced in videos in which he vowed to attack U.S. cities. Hayden of the National Security Council noted that the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the failed bombing in New York’s Times Square on May 1, 2010. Later that year, the U.S. government designated the Pakistani Taliban a terrorist group and formally charged Mehsud in the attack on the CIA base.

In recent months, Mehsud had kept a low profile, fearful of the U.S. drone campaign, Taliban officials said. He had relied on one of his top lieutenants, Latif Mehsud, to shuttle messages for him. But U.S. forces arrested Latif Mehsud as he traveled in Afghanistan several weeks ago.

Rifaat S. Hussain, a noted military analyst in Islamabad, said Hakimullah Mehsud’s death would be a major setback for the militant group. “The larger strategic implication of getting him — along with his deputy in U.S. custody — is that it puts them out of action,” Hussain said. “They are now faced with a scenario where, if they pull out of the negotiations, these drone strikes will continue to haunt them.”

Even before Friday’s strike, there were signs that the Pakistani Taliban’s leadership was splintering because of tactical and ideological differences. In the wake of Mehsud’s death, analysts said, the group’s cohesion could further break down, hindering Sharif’s effort to negotiate a peace deal with any one faction.

According to three local intelligence officials, Mehsud, his driver, his uncle and two guards were killed in Friday’s strike, which the officials said occurred outside a small mosque where several senior Taliban leaders had been meeting.

“They left the mosque for a [Taliban] compound, and when the vehicle was parked, a drone fired three missiles and hit the vehicle,” one official said, relaying information he had received from a local informer.

Reached by phone, a local Taliban commander in North Waziristan confirmed that Mehsud had been killed. The “respected chief has been martyred in the drone attack on Friday,” said the commander, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Until Friday, the most recent major blow to the Pakistani Taliban had come in May, when the group’s second-ranking leader, Wali ur-Rehman, was killed in a drone strike. A month later, the Pakistani Taliban asserted responsibility for killing 10 foreign mountain climbers, including an American, who were trying to scale Pakistan’s second-highest mountain.

The group said that attack was in retaliation for Rehman’s death.

Hussain, the analyst in Pakistan, said U.S. officials probably calculated that the fallout from the strike would subside quickly, despite the potential for backlash from Pakistani officials.

“If they can decapitate the top military leadership of the [Taliban], this can create a case where the U.S. government can actually one day cease the drone attacks, and thereby limit the damage to public opinion” for the United States in Pakistan, Hussain said.

Haq Nawaz Khan and Shaiq Hussain in Islamabad and Greg Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

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Hit by a drone…

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