Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Afghanistan

Taliban Appoints Taliban Government

Anybody who expected anything different was kidding themselves.

(CNN)The Taliban on Tuesday announced the formation of a hardline interim government for Afghanistan, filling top posts with veterans of the militant group who oversaw the 20-year fight against the US-led military coalition.

No women or members from Afghanistan’s ousted leadership were selected for acting cabinet positions or named to advisory roles, in spite of the Taliban’s promises of an inclusive government and more moderate form of Islamic rule than when it was last in power, from 1996 to 2001.
The Taliban named Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a close aide of the Taliban’s late founder Mohammad Omar, as acting prime minister and Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group’s co-founders, was appointed his deputy. Mohammed Yaqoob, a son of Omar, was appointed acting defense minister.
[…]
The lineup of senior positions, which includes former Guantanamo inmates, members of a US-designated terror group and subjects of an international sanctions lists, presents the first snapshot of how the Taliban’s leadership of Afghanistan will begin to take shape.
Like many in the Taliban’s incoming cabinet, interim Prime Minister Mohammad Hassan Akhund is under United Nations sanctions. A long-time Taliban member, he has been leader of the group’s Shura, or Leadership Council, for about two decades.
Some analysts had originally tipped Abdul Ghani Baradar for the top role. Baradar served in the Taliban’s political bureau in Doha, Qatar, and led the Taliban’s peace talks with the US. He recently arrived back in Afghanistan after a 20-year-exile and reportedly met with CIA chief William J. Burns.
Two senior members of the Haqqani network, a US-designated terror group aligned with the Taliban and al Qaeda, will also be in the interim government. Both have been sanctioned by the UN and the US.

Taliban Breaks Up Women’s Rights March

Hats off to those brave women.

Taliban officials have broken up a demonstration by dozens of women in Kabul demanding rights following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

 

The group say the Taliban targeted them with tear gas and pepper spray as they tried to walk from a bridge to the presidential palace.

 

But the Taliban maintain the protest got out of control, according Afghan media outlet Tolo news.

 

It’s the latest of several protests by women in Kabul and Herat.

 

The women were calling for the right to work and to be included in the government. The Taliban say they will announce the make-up of their administration in the coming days.

 

The Taliban have said women can be involved in government, but not hold ministerial positions. linking.

Taliban Allies with China

I know… we’re all shocked. I guess we know now why Biden surrendered the country to a murderous gang and equipped their army with American equipment.

According to a Taliban spokesman, China will now be the group’s “main partner” and will help rebuild Afghanistan.

 

“China will be our main partner and represents a great opportunity for us because it is ready to invest in our country and support reconstruction efforts,” Zabihulah Mujahid said in an interview.

 

He said the Taliban values China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as the project will revive the ancient Silk Road. He also said China will help Afghanistan use its copper resources and give the country a path into global markets, per the Asia Today.

“Our 20 years of sacrifice worked”

It is unconscionable how we left behind so many people and so much equipment. Joe Biden turned a planned withdrawal into a defeat and armed a terrorist regime in the process. It’s a disgrace.

The Army released an image Monday of the last U.S. soldier to leave Afghanistan as the Pentagon announced the last American forces left Kabul airport 24 hours ahead of schedule.

 

The XVIII Airborne Corps, whose forces go by the Sky Dragons, were among the last to step off Afghan soil as the total withdrawal of U.S. forces concluded Monday ahead of the August 31 deadline.

 

[…]

 

And some 100 to 200 Americans and thousands of Afghan allies left behind must fend for themselves now that the airport no longer offers an escape route.

 

[…]

 

Footage emerged on social media of Taliban fighters apparently making their way through Kabul airport, examining Chinook helicopters left behind by U.S. troops.

 

‘The last five aircraft have left, it’s over,’ Hemad Sherzad, a Taliban fighter stationed at Kabul’s international airport, told the Associated Press.

 

‘I cannot express my happiness in words. … Our 20 years of sacrifice worked.’

It is our honor to welcome Afghan refugees

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week.

With the disastrous end to America’s involvement in Afghanistan, a flood of refugees is surging out of the country. It is America’s responsibility and privilege to welcome these refugees with open arms.

 

The final withdrawal from Afghanistan could not be going worse. The precipitous abandonment American positions at Bagram Air Base and elsewhere, the desertion of our NATO and Afghan allies, and the poorly planned extrication of American personnel has left Afghanistan strewn with American equipment and honor. It is a disgrace and shame that all Americans will bear for the disastrous actions of our president.

 

Out of this nightmare, all of the Afghans who helped America over the last 20 years to root out terrorism and protect American lives are trying to escape the inevitable slaughter at the hands of the Taliban. There are also tens of thousands of Afghans who believed America and our promises of liberty, individual rights, and freedom to practice their religion without interference from government overlords. This includes women and girls who know the fate that awaits them under Taliban rule. They bought into the concept of a western- style democracy and are staring down the barrel of another generation of brutal totalitarian butchery.

 

Not all of these Afghans are going to make it out. Right now, there are thousands of Afghans and Americans fighting and praying to get a seat on one of the precious airplanes still ferrying people out of the country. They know that those flights will end too soon because President Joe Biden has decided that the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and Afghans is a price worth paying to get America out of the country as quickly as possible. He factored the bloodshed into his decision. Of the refugees that make it out of Afghanistan, many of them are coming to Wisconsin. Fort McCoy is one of the places that will serve as a safe haven to house some of the refugees. We do not know how many yet, but that will likely depend on how many people our valiant military can evacuate before Biden or the Taliban ends the mission. Wisconsin should welcome these poor souls into our state with the kindness and generosity for which the people of Wisconsin are known. The refugees did not plan to be here. They believed America and thought they would spend their lives in a relatively free and stable Afghanistan. But in the face of certain oppression or death, they have fled everything they know with little more than the clothes on their backs.

 

There are issues that the Biden Administration must address. In the mad rush out of Afghanistan, many of the refugees are coming without paperwork to verify their identities. It is probable that the Taliban, ISIS, or other terror groups have sent some of their agents of terror through the loose sieve of refugee evacuation much like the drug cartels are moving people across our open southern border. Federal authorities must take the time to properly vet the refugees before relocating them into the interior of the nation.

 

Also, while some of the refugees have some exposure to American values and American standards, many of them do not. They are coming from a nation that has been in a state of war for as long as any of them can remember. We must make a concerted effort to educate them on America’s respect for individual rights, equality, representative government, the rule of law, and all of the other pillars of America.

 

Finally, while some of the refugees are educated, bilingual, and highly skilled, others are coming to America unprepared to be successful in the American economy. Thankfully, we are at a time in our history when jobs are plentiful in Wisconsin and elsewhere. To be successful in those jobs, the refugees need to be taught to speak and read English, job skills and employment norms, personal financial management, and skills with which to earn a living. This investment will also help protect the refugees from being exploited and ensure that they can become full participants in their new country.

 

President Biden has left some of our nation’s honor in the blood-caked mud of Afghanistan. We can reclaim some of that honor with how we treat the refugees who are able to make it to our shores.

Americans KIA. Biden MIA.

I can’t express how angry I am.

Ten US servicemembers were killed in a series of suicide bomb attacks on Kabul airport on Thursday, the first American lives to be lost since Biden’s disastrous evacuation effort began on August 14.

 

The President has not commented publicly on the deaths and he is not scheduled to make any kind of statement or speech on Thursday.

 

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby released a statement saying a ‘number’ had died, but he wouldn’t give any additional details. Other troops are feared to have been injured.

 

Biden’s meetings were canceled on Thursday immediately after the attack while he spoke with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley.

 

Neither the President or anyone in the administration has offered a plan for getting out the remaining troops and civilians before August 31, the Taliban’s deadline.

Norway, Poland, Holland and Canada have all stopped evacuating citizens. In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Norway’s Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said the doors at the airport are ‘closed’.

 

The State Department is telling Americans stuck in Afghanistan to stay in their homes, while Britain has told its stranded citizens to make a run for the Pakistan border, along with thousands of Afghan refugees.

It is our honor to welcome Afghan refugees

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Perhaps the news out of Afghanistan today makes this even more pressing. Here’s a part:

With the disastrous end to America’s involvement in Afghanistan, a flood of refugees is surging out of the country. It is America’s responsibility and privilege to welcome these refugees with open arms.

 

The final withdrawal from Afghanistan could not be going worse. The precipitous abandonment American positions at Bagram Air Base and elsewhere, the desertion of our NATO and Afghan allies, and the poorly planned extrication of American personnel has left Afghanistan strewn with American equipment and honor. It is a disgrace and shame that all Americans will bear for the disastrous actions of our president.

 

Out of this nightmare, all of the Afghans who helped America over the last 20 years to root out terrorism and protect American lives are trying to escape the inevitable slaughter at the hands of the Taliban. There are also tens of thousands of Afghans who believed America and our promises of liberty, individual rights, and freedom to practice their religion without interference from government overlords. This includes women and girls who know the fate that awaits them under Taliban rule. They bought into the concept of a western- style democracy and are staring down the barrel of another generation of brutal totalitarian butchery.

 

Not all of these Afghans are going to make it out. Right now, there are thousands of Afghans and Americans fighting and praying to get a seat on one of the precious airplanes still ferrying people out of the country. They know that those flights will end too soon because President Joe Biden has decided that the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans and Afghans is a price worth paying to get America out of the country as quickly as possible. He factored the bloodshed into his decision. Of the refugees that make it out of Afghanistan, many of them are coming to Wisconsin. Fort McCoy is one of the places that will serve as a safe haven to house some of the refugees. We do not know how many yet, but that will likely depend on how many people our valiant military can evacuate before Biden or the Taliban ends the mission. Wisconsin should welcome these poor souls into our state with the kindness and generosity for which the people of Wisconsin are known. The refugees did not plan to be here. They believed America and thought they would spend their lives in a relatively free and stable Afghanistan. But in the face of certain oppression or death, they have fled everything they know with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Afghan Refugees Begin Arriving in Wisconsin

They are here.

Afghan refugees have begun arriving at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin’s only active military installation, following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan last week, according to a news release from Brigadier General Chris Norrie, the Task Force McCoy Commander.

 

Those who have arrived at the base — which is located on 60,000 acres between Tomah and Sparta — are special immigrant visa applicants, their families and other individuals at risk.

 

“We expect these arrivals to continue throughout the day and the coming days,” the news release said.

 

Last week, Tonya Townsell, the spokesperson for Fort McCoy, said the base was preparing to receive refugees. As people enter the base, they will be housed in the barracks typically used for American military members, she said. Staff at Fort McCoy will also provide access to dining services and medical care.

Lost American Might

Biden claimed that this was all part of the plan… factored into the cost… so did he intentionally leave all of this firepower in the hands of brutal terrorists?

Billions of dollars of U.S. weapons are now in the hands of the Taliban following the quick collapse of Afghan security forces that were trained to use the military equipment.

 

Among the items seized by the Taliban are Black Hawk helicopters and A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft.

 

Photos have also circulated of Taliban fighters clutching U.S.-made M4 carbines and M16 rifles instead of their iconic AK-47s. And the militants have been spotted with U.S. Humvees and mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles.

Taliban is Purging Enemies

We have unleashed a level of brutality that few Americans can even comprehend.

But there are fears the Taliban have changed little since the brutal 1990s.

The warning the group were targeting “collaborators” came in a confidential document by the RHIPTO Norwegian Center for Global Analyses, which provides intelligence to the UN.

 

“There are a high number of individuals that are currently being targeted by the Taliban and the threat is crystal clear,” Christian Nellemann, who heads the group behind the report, told the BBC.

 

“It is in writing that, unless they give themselves in, the Taliban will arrest and prosecute, interrogate and punish family members on behalf of those individuals.”

He warned that anyone on the Taliban’s blacklist was in severe danger, and that there could be mass executions.

Afghan Refugees Head for Wisconsin

Welcome. This is an opportunity to defend America’s honor and fulfill our promise to take care of our allies and friends. Let’s welcome them with open arms and encourage them to adopt America as their new home with a full respect for individual rights and freedoms. Who’s in charge of integrating them?

Fort McCoy, a U.S. Army installation near Sparta, is preparing to accept an unknown number of refugees from Afghanistan who are fleeing in the wake of the collapse of the Afghanistan government to the Taliban.

As the United States ends its mission there, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other outlets have reported that Fort McCoy is preparing to accept special immigrant visa applicants, but few other details were available.

 

“We have been notified that we will be receiving these special immigrant visa applicants,” Fort McCoy spokesperson Tonya Townsell told the Journal Sentinel. “I don’t know when these guests of ours will be arriving exactly, but anytime it can turn.”

A McCoy spokesperson later declined a request for comment and referred the Wisconsin State Journal to the U.S. Department of Defense.

A DOD spokesperson confirmed that Fort McCoy is under consideration as a site to provide temporary housing for Afghan special immigration visa applicants and their families.

Afghanistan Falls

A strategic withdrawal in the face of the enemy is one of the most difficult maneuvers to pull off. We did not succeed.

The Taliban has said they will declare an Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan from the Presidential Palace in Kabul as militants posed in the office and the country’s president fled for Tajikistan, with thousands of Afghan nationals now racing to Pakistan to escape Islamist rule.

 

Taliban fighters stormed the ancient palace on Sunday and demanded a ‘peaceful transfer of power’ as Kabul descended into chaos, with US helicopters evacuating diplomats from the embassy in scenes echoing the 1975 Fall of Saigon which followed the Vietnam War.

 

US-backed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country for Tajikistan, effectively ceding power to the Taliban in a move signaling the end of the 20-year Western intervention begun after the September 11 attacks, while thousands of Afghan nationals rushed to the Pakistan border.

I continue to think that ending the war in Afghanistan was the correct policy choice. I do think we could have maintained a force there for some time – like in South Korea or Germany – as a means of keeping active in a global hotspot for our own security. But the absolute debacle of this withdrawal and the speed at which the Taliban took power is the manifestation of bad policy and bad leadership. From the White House to the Chiefs of Staff, they blew it. Completely and utterly. And America bears the shame of a lost war and the sacrifice of our local allies. We will feel the reverberations of this for many, many years to come.

China Reaches Out to Taliban in Afghanistan

Somehow, I don’t think the U.S. SOS is reading this right.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said China’s possible involvement in Afghanistan could be “a positive thing”.

 

He said this was if China was looking towards a “peaceful resolution of the conflict” and a “truly representative and inclusive” government.

 

His comments came after Taliban representatives visited China.

 

China said it saw the Taliban playing an important role in the peace process and rebuilding of Afghanistan.

 

“No one has an interest in a military takeover of the country by the Taliban, the restoration of an Islamic emirate,” said Mr Blinken, who was asked about the talks while on a visit to India.

 

He urged the Taliban to come to the “negotiating table… peacefully”.

Biden Administration is Abandoning Afghan Allies

This is a travesty and a stain on America. We must protect those who protected us.

Rep Seth Moulton, D-Mass., spoke at a rally on Friday to demand presidential action for American’s Afghan allies, such as interpreters who took great risks to help American troops and now are being left behind as U.S. military forces withdraw from the country.

 

Standing in Lafayette Square in front the White House, Moulton, a former Marine officer with multiple combat tours, said, “I want to thank veterans all across America, veterans of different political parties and different wars, who are coming together today and reminding Americans that we have a promise to uphold.”

 

The rally came one week after the New York Times reported that the Biden administration was notifying lawmakers that the U.S. would soon begin relocating thousands of Afghan allies to third countries while they await processing for their special immigrant visas. However, congressional members on both sides of the aisle have yet to receive details.

Taliban Retaking Afghanistan

Shame.

More than 1,000 Afghan soldiers have fled to neighbouring Tajikistan after clashing with Taliban militants, officials have said.

The troops retreated over the border to “save their own lives”, according to a statement by Tajikistan’s border guard.

 

Violence has risen in Afghanistan and the Taliban have been making significant gains, particularly in the north of the country, in recent weeks.

 

The surge coincides with the end of Nato’s 20-year military mission.

The vast majority of remaining foreign forces in Afghanistan have been withdrawn ahead of a September deadline, and there are concerns that the Afghan military will collapse.

As a matter of national interest, it was past time to pull back from Afghanistan. Notwithstanding the clumsy way in which we withdrew, we needed to do it. Unfortunately, the Afghan government is not strong enough to withstand the Taliban with their Neolithic methods.

What now? The reason we went into Afghanistan in the first place was because the Taliban, who ran the country, we providing safe haven for terrorists who attacked the U.S. It was a breeding ground for global terrorism. For 20 years, we have been successful in fighting them in their home base and disrupted their ability to strike out homeland. With our withdrawal, we are relying on the weak Afghan government to keep them in check. If (when) they fail and the Taliban takes over again, we will lose that check completely.

The good news is that 2021 is not 2000. Our advancements in technology, surveillance, and financial tools are substantial. Also, as we see from Biden’s recent attacks in Syria that went almost unmentioned, our willingness and ability to blow up a terrorist camp on foreign soil is different. Also, at least for the moment, we are more aware of the danger, but it seems that our domestic turmoil is making us ignore foreign threats at the moment. We can only focus on a limited number of things at one time.

So… we’ll see. The Taliban will have full control of Afghanistan by the end of the year. It will return to being a safe haven for terrorists who hate America. Has the Taliban learned the lesson and will keep their terrorists focused on domestic concerns to avoid 20-year forced hiatus from power? Will regional interests take more interest in their rogue neighbor? Will we go back to the state of things in 1999?

 

Time will tell.

US Exits Bagram

End of an era. I know a number of people who spent time on that base.

The last US and Nato forces have left Afghanistan’s Bagram airbase, the centre of the war against militants for some 20 years.

The pull-out could signal that the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is imminent.

 

President Joe Biden has said US forces will be gone by 11 September.

But the withdrawal from the sprawling base, north of Kabul, comes as the main jihadist group, the Taliban, advances in many parts of Afghanistan.

US and Taliban Move Toward Peace

Let’s hope it holds.

The US and the Taliban have signed an agreement aimed at paving the way towards peace in Afghanistan after more than 18 years of conflict.

The US and its Nato allies have agreed to withdraw all their troops from the country within 14 months if the militants uphold the deal.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Taliban leaders attended the signing ceremony in Doha in Qatar.

Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are due to follow.

Under the agreement signed in Doha, the militants also agreed not to allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control.

 

Taliban Hold Peace Talks with US

According to them.

The Taliban held their first direct contact with a US official in a preliminary discussion about future peace talks on Afghanistan, a senior member of the insurgent group claimed on Saturday.

If correct, it marked one of the most significant developments amid efforts to find a negotiated end to the country’s protracted war.

The Taliban source described as ‘useful’ a meeting with Alice Wells, America’s top diplomat for South Asia, earlier this week.

One can hope.

Progress in Afghanistan?

Probably not, but interesting things are happening.

Afghanistan has extended its unilateral ceasefire with the Taliban following an initial truce observed by both sides over the Eid festival period.

President Ashraf Ghani appealed to the militants to follow the government’s lead and enter peace talks.

In extraordinary scenes, militants have been embracing security force members and taking selfies with citizens.

However 25 people died in a suicide attack on one gathering of Taliban and government officials in Nangarhar.

Taliban members and local residents were among the victims of the attack, province spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told the BBC, adding that 54 people were wounded.

Taliban Truce

Well, it’s something. Not sure what yet.

The Taliban have announced a three-day ceasefire with Afghan government forces coinciding with Eid later this month.

This is the Taliban’s first ceasefire since they were toppled by the 2001 US-led invasion and comes days after a unilateral truce by government troops.

The group said it would stop all offensive operations during the holiday, except against foreign forces.

The announcement came hours after Taliban fighters killed over 60 Afghan security forces across the country.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban move was an opportunity for the militants to realise “their violent campaign” was “not winning them hearts and minds but further alienating the Afghan people from their cause”.

The Afghan government’s unconditional truce follows a meeting of clerics, who earlier this week issued a fatwa condemning militant violence as un-Islamic.

The clerics were themselves targeted in a suicide attack claimed by IS, which killed 14 people outside their peace tent in Kabul this week.

The Taliban did not specify why they made the surprise decision to agree to the truce in their statement, but they did say they would consider releasing prisoners of war as long they did not continue fighting against them.

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