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March 1, 2008 

Woman among three killed in Afghan bomb blast
Sat Mar 1, 2:36 AM ET
KHOST, Afghanistan (AFP) - Three people including a woman were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb blew up their vehicle in eastern Afghanistan, in the third attack in the area in days, a district chief said.

Top commander unveils new Taliban tactics
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL (Reuters) - A top Taliban commander has said suicide attacks and roadside bombs would spearhead its new strategy against foreign troops, and hinted the movement could work with Afghanistan's government if foreign troops left.

Czech PM wants allies 'more visibly' engaged in Afghanistan
Fri Feb 29, 1:33 PM ET
OTTAWA (AFP) - Visiting Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek on Friday urged NATO countries to play a larger role in routing insurgents from Afghanistan, noting his nation is doubling its troop deployment this year.

Prince Harry returns to Britain
Sat Mar 1, 7:55 AM ET Associated Press
LONDON - Prince Harry touched down in Britain on Saturday after a stint in Afghanistan as a soldier was cut short when details of his secret deployment were disclosed by a magazine and Web sites.

Thriving Taliban drugs show Afghan woes
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer Fri Feb 29, 8:40 PM ET
WASHINGTON - The Taliban have built a huge and profitable drug operation in Afghanistan while provincial governors look the other way, the latest grim sign of backsliding in a country the U.S. has spent six years and billions of dollars trying to salvage.

Bush, NATO chief, discuss Afghan efforts
Fri Feb 29, 8:33 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush and NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Friday vowed a lasting commitment to Afghanistan and took up other matters on the agenda for the alliance's April summit in Romania.

NATO chief disputes U.S. view of Afghan control
Fri Feb 29, 5:28 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - NATO's top official took issue on Friday with a U.S. intelligence assessment that the Afghan government controls just 30 percent of the country and the Taliban holds 10 percent.
U.S., NATO Reaffirm Commitment in Afghanistan
By William Branigin Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, February 29, 2008; 3:37 PM
The United States and NATO reaffirmed their "long-term commitment" to Afghanistan today, pledging to help the U.S.-backed Afghan government consolidate security despite a growing insurgency by the radical Islamic Taliban

Bush hosts Danish PM at ranch
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
CRAWFORD, Texas - NATO's changing role and the alliance's fight against militants in Afghanistan were central issues confronting President Bush and Denmark's prime minister in talks Saturday.

Canada resumes Afghan detainee transfers
Fri Feb 29, 9:37 PM ET Associated Press
TORONTO - Canadian troops will resume transferring insurgency prisoners to Afghan authorities, a practice that was halted late last year amid claims of torture, officials said Friday.

Generals tell Berlin to leave Afghanistan
Feb. 29, 2008 at 8:37 PM
Print story Email to a friend Font size:BERLIN, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Former Soviet generals have told the German government not to expand its engagement in Afghanistan and instead think about pulling out its troops.

Pakistan to close largest Afghan refugee camp
Sat, Mar 1 08:16 PM
Islamabad, March 1 (Xinhua) Pakistan plans to shut down its biggest camp of Afghan refugees by April 15 and the affected Afghans may have to look for alternate camps or return to Afghanistan, the UN refugee agency said Saturday.

Afghan president condemns terrorist attack in neighboring Pakistan
www.chinaview.cn  2008-03-01 21:27:53
 KABUL, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday termed the suicide attack that left some 40 dead in Pakistan as an act of terrorism and strongly denounced it, a statement issued by his office said.

Extreme cold devastated livestock sector in Afghanistan: FAO
via Hindu, India
New York (PTI): Extreme cold has devastated the Afghan livestock sector, killing over 3,00,000 animals since late December and seriously affecting livelihoods, a new United Nations report said.

Finland unsatisfied with Afghan reply on its peacekeeper death
www.chinaview.cn  2008-03-01 04:36:07
HELSINKI, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva Friday said that Finland had not received satisfying explanations from Afghanistan on the death of a Finnish peacekeeper, local media reported.

Singapore to deploy 50 men to Afghanistan
Bangkok Post, Thailand
Singapore (dpa) - Singapore plans to increase its presence in Afghanistan from 10 to 50 men this year, the armed forces said Saturday.

6 suspected insurgents detained from Afghanistan's Zabul
www.chinaview.cn  2008-03-01 20:43:20
KABUL, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Six suspected insurgents have been detained during a combined operation of Afghan security forces and the U.S.-led Coalition troops in the country's south province of Zabul, said a Coalition statement issued here Saturday.

Police arrest Afghan suspected of involvement in Sherpao attack
Daily Times, Pakistan
CHARSADDA: The police on Friday arrested a man suspected of involvement in a number of terrorist activities, including a suicide attack on former federal interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, a police official said.

Australia to fight messy wars: expert
The Age, Australia February 29, 2008
Australia will fight more messy wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, a defence expert says.

Government in Kabul disconnected and isolated: Kerry
Pajhwak 02/29/2008 (PAN) NEW YORK
Influential US Senator, John Kerry, who was in Afghanistan last week, said Tuesday the Afghan Government has become disconnected and isolated.

Afghanistan: Extreme cold hits farmers
(AKI) 29 February Rome
The harshest winter in nearly 30 years has devastated Afghanistan's livestock sector, killing over 300,000 animals since late December and seriously affecting people's livelihoods, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Friday.

Keeping the Sharia Peace
Washington Post, United States by Jack Fairweather February 29, 2008
Sharia law gets bad press in the West. It’s the body of law drawn from the Koran, reported sayings of the prophet, and centuries of jurisprudence, and in its most extreme form it prescribes punishments such as beheadings, amputations and stonings.

Letter from the past and the future
Toronto Star, Canada Rosie DiManno Feb 29, 2008
The other day, I received an email from an old friend.
His name is Faramarz Sangi and the last time I saw him, he was putting me into a barge to cross the heavily mined Amu Darya River that separates northern Afghanistan from Tajikistan. That was in late December 2001

US will have to strike a new deal with Gen. Kiyani to win Afghan war
Thaindian.com, Thailand February 29th, 2008
Washington--In the current scenario when Pervez Musharrafs power has weakened after February 18 polls, the US will have to strike a new deal with Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani to win the Afghanistan war.

AFGHANISTAN: FACINGTHE UGLY TRUTH
Dramatic increases in bloodshed, a growing insurgency fuelled by local grievances, serious shortfalls in troops and equipment. The situation is bleak. Still many seem to agree: The worst is yet to come
GRAEME SMITH AND PAUL KORING March 1, 2008 Globe and Mail, Canada
KABUL and WASHINGTON -- When managers from all the major humanitarian agencies in Kandahar gathered in a high-walled compound to swap war stories last month, it wasn't the tales of kidnappings and suicide bombs that caused

Afghanistan: Road to be constructed in Jalalabad
Source: Frontier Post 29 Feb 2008
JALALABAD/TALOQAN (PAN): Construction work on 16 kilometres road has been initiated with the assistance of the USAID at a total cost of $240,000 in the Chaprehar district of the eastern Nangarhar province, an official said on Wednesday.

US concern over Pakistan deal with militants
By Isambard Wilkinson in Peshawar Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom 01/03/2008
Pakistan has secretly revived a controversial peace deal with militants in the tribal areas near Afghanistan, where the army has struggled to tackle al-Qa'eda and the Taliban.

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Woman among three killed in Afghan bomb blast
Sat Mar 1, 2:36 AM ET
KHOST, Afghanistan (AFP) - Three people including a woman were killed Saturday when a roadside bomb blew up their vehicle in eastern Afghanistan, in the third attack in the area in days, a district chief said.

The remote-controlled device, similar to those used by Taliban rebels waging an insurgency, exploded as the group drove to a cemetery in eastern Khost province near the border with Pakistan, the official said.

"It was the work of those who always commit such crimes," said Alisher district chief Sher Ali, referring to the Taliban militants who are trying to topple the US-backed government in Kabul.

Four people were wounded in the attack, he said, adding all the victims were from the same family.

Roadside bombs in Khost on Tuesday and Wednesday killed seven people and wounded a dozen.

Such devices, often home-made with old ammunition, are used by Taliban to target Afghan and international troops fighting an extremist insurgency.

Khost is next to Pakistan's North Waziristan, an area where Taliban and other militants are said to have training camps.

A senior US general based in eastern Afghanistan said last week the number of attacks in the troubled region had dropped by up to 50 percent in February, compared to the same time last year.

Taliban-linked violence has however grown on both sides of the border in recent months.

Late Friday a suicide bomber killed at least 35 people and wounded 50 at a funeral in northwestern Pakistan's Swat Valley, where troops are battling Islamic militants.
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Top commander unveils new Taliban tactics
By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL (Reuters) - A top Taliban commander has said suicide attacks and roadside bombs would spearhead its new strategy against foreign troops, and hinted the movement could work with Afghanistan's government if foreign troops left.

In an apparent policy shift, Taliban deputy leader Mullah Brother told a militant Website that the Islamic movement could cooperate with the government of President Hamid Karzai, rather than seek its ouster.

"The matter can not be solved through war...the issue should be settled through understanding and talks," he said.

In the past, the Taliban has vowed to topple Karzai's government and drive out foreign forces.

Ousted from power in 2001, the al Qaeda-backed Taliban have made a strong come back since 2006, causing splits among the NATO alliance as some members appear reluctant to send their soldiers to areas where the militants are active.

In his interview, Mullah Brother refused to spell out all aspects of the Taliban's new military strategy, but said: "Martyrdom attacks and roadside explosions will form major part of the such operations."

"Through our military commanders, local and central councils we are working on these tactics...which will be implemented across the country in the near future as the new military strategy," the website quoted him as saying.

The date of the interview was not mentioned.

Brother served as a top Taliban military commander during the reign of the group until its ouster and is among the militants list wanted by the Afghan and U.S. governments.

Western military commanders say the Taliban have suffered heavy casualties in conventional battles with NATO and U.S.-led forces in recent years and instead have resorted mainly to suicide raids and roadside bomb blasts.

The Taliban carried out more than 140 suicide attacks last year, a record high in Afghanistan as the militants adopted tactics used with devastating effect by insurgents in Iraq.

Brother said suicide attacks were "very effective" against foreign and Afghan government forces.

Most of the casualties in such attacks have been civilians, who have also lost lives in operations by foreign troops hunting militants.

More than 11,000 people, including more than 350 foreign soldiers, have been killed in the past two years, the bloodiest period since Taliban's removal.

The deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan has led some Western politicians to warn recently that Afghanistan could slide back into anarchy.

U.S.-led troops overthrew Taliban's government in 2001 after it refused to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the suspected architect of the September 11 attacks on the United States.
(Editing by Jon Boyle)
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Czech PM wants allies 'more visibly' engaged in Afghanistan
Fri Feb 29, 1:33 PM ET
OTTAWA (AFP) - Visiting Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek on Friday urged NATO countries to play a larger role in routing insurgents from Afghanistan, noting his nation is doubling its troop deployment this year.

"Like Canada, we're calling upon other countries to take their share of responsibility and to participate even more visibly in peacekeeping and peace-building in Afghanistan," Topolanek said following meetings with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and several Canadian ministers.

He also indicated that the Czech Republic will double its number of soldiers taking part in the US-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan this year to about 550.

But the Czech parliament must still approve the plan to deploy 120 of its special forces alongside some 435 infantry, he added.

Canada has been pressing NATO allies to send reinforcements, as well as helicopters and drones for use by its forces in volatile Kandahar province, where its 2,500 troops are based, if it is to extend its mission to 2011.

If none are forthcoming, Canada has said it would withdraw from southern Afghanistan in February 2009 at the end of its current mandate.

Topolanek said: "There has not been any final decision made regarding the location of our troops, be it Kandahar or some place else."

But, he added, "We agree with Prime Minister Harper that there is no way we can leave Afghanistan. It is in our opinion the responsibility of the international community and NATO to rebuild this country."

"Afghanistan is like a laboratory or test case for the future whether we're able to rebuild this country."

"We agree that we must call on the other NATO countries to participate more visibly, more tangibly in this enterprise."
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Prince Harry returns to Britain
Sat Mar 1, 7:55 AM ET Associated Press
LONDON - Prince Harry touched down in Britain on Saturday after a stint in Afghanistan as a soldier was cut short when details of his secret deployment were disclosed by a magazine and Web sites.

Defense ministry officials said Harry — who served 10 weeks — was due to be greeted by his father, Prince Charles, and brother, Prince William, at the Brize Norton air base in Oxfordshire, southern England.

Harry's fellow soldiers from the Household Cavalry unit are due to return back to the U.K. in April at the end of their near-six month tour, defense officials said.

Harry, a cornet — or second lieutenant — arrived at the base in a Royal Air Force troop carrier with dozens of other soldiers. The soldier prince chatted to a colleague as he walked down the aircraft's steps and headed to a terminal building.

The prince did not speak to reporters as he left the troop carrier.

Britain's defense department said Harry was being greeted privately by his family.

Harry, third in line to the throne, was withdrawn from his deployment after the once closely guarded secret became public.

The Defense Ministry said Saturday that William — second in line to the British throne — is also likely to serve overseas with the military, probably on board a Royal Navy battleship.

Officials said he could be deployed later this year on a tour to areas including the South Atlantic, the Persian Gulf, Pacific Ocean or the West Indies.

"It's our intention to give Prince William as full a taste of life in the Royal Navy as possible," a Navy spokesman said, on customary condition of anonymity in line with policy.

Although Harry's deployment ended prematurely, military analysts said it would nonetheless help his army career by allowing him to hold his head high among his comrades.
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Thriving Taliban drugs show Afghan woes
By ANNE GEARAN, AP Diplomatic Writer Fri Feb 29, 8:40 PM ET
WASHINGTON - The Taliban have built a huge and profitable drug operation in Afghanistan while provincial governors look the other way, the latest grim sign of backsliding in a country the U.S. has spent six years and billions of dollars trying to salvage.

A report Friday on drugs — it said Afghanistan now produces 93 percent of the world's opium poppy — comes hand in hand with the resurgence of Taliban militants despite U.S. anti-insurgent efforts. Also on the rise: terrorist violence such as roadside bombs, suicide bombings, and attacks on police.

The problems have worsened rather than diminished under the watch of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul and the relatively small number of American forces stationed in the nation while larger numbers are deployed to Iraq.

More than 6,500 people — mostly insurgents — died in violence in 2007, according to an Associated Press count of figures provided by local and international officials. It was the bloodiest year since the U.S.-led toppling of the Taliban in 2001.

Afghanistan risks becoming a failed state because of deteriorating international support and the growing insurgency, warned a recent independent study co-chaired by retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones and former U.N. Ambassador Thomas Pickering.

Just this week, the top U.S. intelligence official told Congress that President Hamid Karzai's government controls only 30 percent of the country.

The resurgent Taliban control some 10 or 11 percent, while local tribes control the rest, National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell said.

That's despite the $140 billion Congress has appropriated for Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 attacks that were the original reason given for U.S. involvement. Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is still at large, thought to have fled through Afghanistan's tribal lands to a hideout across the Pakistan border. The U.S. money has gone for military operations, base security, reconstruction, foreign aid, embassy costs and veterans' health care.

Afghanistan's Defense Ministry has rejected McConnell's discouraging assessment, insisting the government controls the vast majority of the country.

However, the State Department's account of the drug problem on Friday was in line with McConnell's view.

Afghan farmers grew more poppies for opium in 2007 than ever before, the report said, the second straight year of record production in the nation the United States invaded.

Afghanistan is by far the world's largest heroin producing and trafficking country.

The drug trade deters progress toward a stable, economically independent democracy, concluded the annual survey of global drug production and trafficking.

The report describes an Afghan twist on the old organized crime protection racket: Drug barons supply the Taliban with money and weapons, and the hardline militants protect the growing regions and help get the drugs to market.

The drug problem is worst in the parts of the country where the Taliban have made their strongest comeback since being chased into the mountains by U.S. forces. The drugs are grown with near impunity in the same stripe of rugged tribal land along the Pakistan border where the U.S.-backed Afghan president has almost no authority and where American and NATO troops are battling the Taliban in the fiercest sustained fighting the Cold War alliance has ever seen.

NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Friday the alliance is committed to Afghanistan "for the long haul."

"We are there to support President Karzai and the Afghan people," de Hoop Scheffer said during an Oval Office visit with President Bush. "But we're also there because we're fighting terrorism, and we cannot afford to lose. We will not lose. We are not losing; we are prevailing."

The United States, which has some 28,000 forces in the country — both in the NATO-led mission and as part of a separate U.S.-led counterterrorism coalition — is sending an additional 3,200 Marines in April. Most of them are expected to be stationed in Kandahar during their seven-month tour. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says NATO countries will have to come up with the troops to replace the Marines in the fall.

NATO claims that more than six years since the Taliban were ousted from power in Afghanistan, the militant movement is being "contained," with some 70 percent of violence last year occurring in just 10 percent of the country.

All 26 NATO nations have troops in Afghanistan. They have expanded the force from 5,000 to 43,000 since 2003, but many allies — including Germany, France, Spain, Turkey and Italy — have refused to send significant numbers of combat troops to the violent southern part of the country.

That refusal has opened a rift with the United States, Canada, Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark and Romania whose troops in the southern provinces have borne the brunt of Taliban violence over the past year. Canada has threatened to pull its 1,700 troops out of Kandahar next year unless allies provide 1,000 reinforcements.

Bush did not mention the strain Friday.

"The United States is committed to the NATO mission in Afghanistan," Bush said. "We're committed to a comprehensive strategy that helps folks in Afghanistan realize security, at the same time, economic prosperity and political progress."

A senior administration official said Friday that while there should be no expectation of a surge in NATO troops after Bush and other NATO leaders meet this spring, there are likely to be "announcements that will be helpful." The official spoke on condition of anonymity to more candidly describe White House thinking. There are increasing signs that France, under the new leadership of President Nicolas Sarkozy, is ready to answer the repeated calls from the U.S. and other allies to step up in Afghanistan.
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Bush, NATO chief, discuss Afghan efforts
Fri Feb 29, 8:33 PM ET
WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush and NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer on Friday vowed a lasting commitment to Afghanistan and took up other matters on the agenda for the alliance's April summit in Romania.

But they did not explicitly mention internal NATO tensions over member states' combat troop contributions in Afghanistan, where alliance troops have been locked in bloody fighting with the resurgent Taliban Islamist militia.

"The United States is committed to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. We're committed to a comprehensive strategy that helps folks in Afghanistan realize security, at the same time, economic prosperity and political progress," said Bush.

"All 26 NATO allies are there and we are there for the long haul," de Hoop Scheffer told reporters during a brief joint public appearance after a meeting in the Oval Office.

"We are there to support President Karzai and the Afghan people. But we're also there because we're fighting terrorism, and we cannot afford to lose. We will not lose; we are not losing; we are prevailing," he added.

Neither leader mentioned sharp US criticism of NATO countries that have resisted sending more troops to Afghanistan and lifting restrictions on those already there to let them take a more active combat role.

But they briefly noted that the Bucharest summit would touch on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's role in newly independent Kosovo; possible NATO membership for Croatia, Albania and Macedonia; efforts to combat computer crime; and a US missile shield plan that has angered Russia.

"Overall, thanks for being a force for good," Bush told his guest before they headed to a private working lunch that one aide later said was largely dominated by discussion of what will be the US president's final NATO summit.

"I'm looking forward to coming to Bucharest to support your efforts to make sure that NATO is a relevant organization aimed at bringing security and peace to the world," the president told Scheffer after talks at the White House.

Bush also said he hoped that aspiring NATO members were meeting the requirements for accession. Croatia, Albania, and Macedonia hope to joint the alliance, which could vote on the matter at the Bucharest summit.

A senior US official, who declined to be named, said the two leaders had also briefly discussed efforts to choose a special UN envoy to coordinate operations in Afghanistan.

They also discussed the dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the latter's name -- a feud in which Athens has threatened to block Skopje's bid to joint the European Union and NATO, the official said.

Macedonia wants to join the defense alliance at a NATO summit in April.

"Secretary (of State Condoleezza) Rice is working with people to get that solved," said the anonymous senior US official.

But much of the talks focused on Afghanistan, where the Taliban has regained strength, particularly in the south. US-led forces drove the Islamist force from power when it refused to hand over Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

NATO's UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan has grown from 16,000 to 43,000 troops -- around one-third of them American and one-fifth British -- within the space of two years, but commanders have been calling for another 7,500.

With the public in many European countries strongly opposed or simply skeptical about their troops' involvement in what has been evolving from a peacekeeping mission to a combat operation, many governments have been wary of unpopular new deployments, especially of sending their forces to the volatile south.
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NATO chief disputes U.S. view of Afghan control
Fri Feb 29, 5:28 PM ET
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - NATO's top official took issue on Friday with a U.S. intelligence assessment that the Afghan government controls just 30 percent of the country and the Taliban holds 10 percent.
The assessment, revealed by U.S. Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell on Wednesday, suggested the rest of Afghanistan was under the control of local groups.

"I do not share that analysis," NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in Washington after a meeting with President George W. Bush.

De Hoop Scheffer did not offer an alternative assessment but said the U.S. figures did not match the views of commanders leading the NATO-led force trying to stabilize Afghanistan.

The dispute comes amid rising concern in Washington about the war in Afghanistan, where Taliban militants have increased suicide bombings and car bomb attacks over the past two years.

De Hoop Scheffer also disputed that tribal control of parts of Afghanistan represented a failure for the international community. He suggested it was a success if traditional tribes rather than the Taliban held sway.

"What kind of society is Afghanistan? It is a society with a tribal structure," he said in a speech hosted by the Brookings Institution think tank.

"That many parts are ruled by tribes, and are ruled by the system that the country has known for ages, does not mean that we are failing," he said. "It does rather mean that we are successful in Afghanistan."

McConnell told the Senate Committee on Armed Services on Wednesday that the Taliban was able to control the population in about "10 to 11 percent" of the country.

Afghanistan's the federal government had control of about 30 or 31 percent of the country and the rest was under "local control," McConnell said.

(Reporting by Andrew Gray; Editing by Xavier Briand)
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U.S., NATO Reaffirm Commitment in Afghanistan
By William Branigin Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, February 29, 2008; 3:37 PM
The United States and NATO reaffirmed their "long-term commitment" to Afghanistan today, pledging to help the U.S.-backed Afghan government consolidate security despite a growing insurgency by the radical Islamic Taliban movement that is being fueled by a burgeoning drug trade.

President Bush and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stressed the commitment in brief remarks to reporters following a 45-minute meeting in the White House.

"The United States is committed to the NATO mission in Afghanistan," Bush said. "We're committed to a comprehensive strategy that helps folks in Afghanistan realize security, at the same time, economic prosperity and political process."

De Hoop Scheffer, a former Dutch foreign minister, said: "We have a long- term commitment vis-a-vis Afghanistan. . . . All 26 NATO allies are there, and we are there for the long haul."

NATO forces are in Afghanistan "to support President [Hamid] Karzai and the Afghan people," he said. "But we are also there because we are fighting terrorism and we cannot afford to lose. We will not lose. We are not losing. We are prevailing."

Neither Bush nor de Hoop Scheffer mentioned in their brief remarks a State Department report today that said record illegal drug production in Afghanistan is fueling the Taliban insurgency. The Taliban movement harbored the al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan before it was driven from power in Kabul by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in November 2001.

The International Narcotics Control Strategy Report said production of opium poppies in Afghanistan increased by 34 percent in 2007 from record levels in 2006 and reached nearly double the total for 2005. Afghanistan last year accounted for about 93 percent of the world's opium poppy crop, which was worth an estimated $4 billion and represented more than a third of the country's gross domestic product.

The drug production is helping to supply the Taliban with money and arms, and a "long-term national and international commitment" is needed to counter it, the report said. It called on the Afghan government to "take decisive action against poppy cultivation soon to turn back the drug threat before its further growth and consolidation make it even more difficult to defeat."

Before today's meeting, National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters that it gave Bush an opportunity to talk about the NATO summit in Bucharest in early April, as well as critical NATO issues such as Afghanistan and missile defense. Johndroe said a "key focus" of the April 2-4 summit would be "NATO's transformation through improved military capabilities and continued NATO enlargement."

Bush said after the Oval Office meeting with de Hoop Scheffer that he was looking forward to getting an assessment of the progress of NATO candidate nations in meeting the alliance's obligations "before we take the vote on enlargement."

The NATO secretary general urged the countries concerned to "go on with their reforms," adding, "Nothing is affirmed yet, but NATO enlargement will be on the agenda of the Bucharest summit."

Bush later flew to his ranch in Texas, where he is hosting Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen for talks on matters including Afghanistan and the NATO summit. Denmark has about 300 troops in Afghanistan.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has been pressing NATO allies to send more troops to Afghanistan and remove restrictions on those already deployed there to help combat a resurgent Taliban movement. He told the Senate Armed Services Committee Feb. 6 that the unwillingness of some member states to risk combat casualties was threatening NATO's future and undermining the war effort in Afghanistan.

Gates said his decision to send 3,200 Marine reinforcements into Afghanistan this spring was based in part on the Pentagon's concern that some NATO partners have not been pulling their weight.

A U.N.-mandated NATO force in Afghanistan, called the International Security Assistance Force, has about 43,000 troops from 26 NATO countries and 14 non-NATO nations, including about 14,000 troops from the United States. In addition, 13,000 American troops are deployed in Afghanistan under a separate U.S. command.

In his testimony, Gates praised Canadian, British, Australian, Dutch and Danish forces for "doing their part" in Afghanistan. Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns has identified Spain, Italy, France, and Germany as NATO members that Washington wants to provide more troops or loosen restrictions on their ability to fight.

"Some allies ought not to have the luxury of opting only for stability and civilian operations, thus forcing other allies to bear a disproportionate share of the fighting and the dying," Gates told European military leaders and lawmakers in a Feb. 10 speech in Munich.

Gates and NATO officials have not specified how many reinforcements they want, but they have said the greatest need is in southern Afghanistan, where resurgent Taliban forces have inflicted mounting casualties on the Canadian, Dutch and British forces operating there. Canada has threatened to withdraw is 2,500 soldiers -- most of them based in Kandahar province, a traditional Taliban stronghold -- if other NATO members do not send reinforcements soon.

De Hoop Scheffer said earlier this month that NATO needs roughly 2,500 more combat troops but that fewer might be required if some member countries would lift restrictions on how their troops are allowed to operate. He said the alliance needs both "more forces" and "more flexibility."

Johndroe told reporters today that "we're talking with other members of NATO about additional troops deployments," but he declined to be specific about the commitments being sought.

"Obviously the president sent in about 3,200 additional Marines," who are "deploying now," Johndroe said. He said there was also "a need for more trainers to help set up the Afghan army and Afghan police . . . and so we're in discussions with our allies on that."

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama jumped into the fray yesterday, saying that European nations need to provide "more support" for the Afghan war effort and "lift some of the constraints that they have placed on their forces there." He told reporters, "You can't have a situation where . . . the United States and Britain are called upon to do the dirty work, and nobody else wants to engage in actual firefights with the Taliban."
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Bush hosts Danish PM at ranch
By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer
CRAWFORD, Texas - NATO's changing role and the alliance's fight against militants in Afghanistan were central issues confronting President Bush and Denmark's prime minister in talks Saturday.

Bush and Anders Fogh Rasmussen scheduled a midday news conference at the president's ranch.

The meeting with one of Bush's favorite foreign leaders comes ahead of the NATO summit in April in Romania and as the U.S. presses NATO members to send more troops to Afghanistan and better coordinate nonmilitary aid.

The United States has 29,000 troops in Afghanistan, including 16,000 in the 44,000-strong NATO-led coalition, and an additional 13,000 training the Afghan forces and hunting al-Qaida and the Taliban.

All 26 NATO nations have troops serving with the mission. But those in the southern front lines — mainly Canada, Britain, the U.S. and the Netherlands — are irked that others countries such as Germany, Italy, France and Spain restrict their forces to the relatively peaceful north and west. Denmark has about 600 Danish troops in the south.

Fogh Rasmussen's meeting with Bush also was expected to climate change, developments in the Middle East, Kosovo's declaration of independence and U.S. and Danish assistance to Africa.

Denmark has decided to oppose any debt relief for Sudan after the African nation's leader urged the Muslim world to boycott Danish goods because of a reprinted controversial cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. Denmark, however, will not cut development aid to Sudan.

A delicate topic for the prime minister is Denmark's decision to investigate claims the CIA secretly used an airport on his country's remote Arctic territory of Greenland to transport suspected terrorists.

Denmark, like many other European countries, began investigating reports in 2005 that the U.S. intelligence agency quietly touched down on their territory as part of the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program.

Human rights groups have criticized the practice, in which suspects are transported for interrogation to countries outside the U.S. Denmark has denied any knowledge of secret CIA operations on Danish territory.

The trip to the ranch was a diplomatic coup for Fogh Rasmussen. He pedaled around Camp David in Maryland with Bush in 2006 and went mountain biking with the president at the ranch Friday.

More biking was expected Saturday.

Earlier Saturday, Bush asked Congress in his weekly radio address to work with his administration in ending illegal sales of highly addictive prescription drugs on the Internet.
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Canada resumes Afghan detainee transfers
Fri Feb 29, 9:37 PM ET Associated Press
TORONTO - Canadian troops will resume transferring insurgency prisoners to Afghan authorities, a practice that was halted late last year amid claims of torture, officials said Friday.

Lt. Col. Grant Dame, chief of staff for Joint Task Force Afghanistan, said the military is satisfied conditions in Afghan prisons have improved since the allegations of torture emerged.

"The actions taken by the government of Afghanistan and by Canadian officials in Kandahar to address concerns have been carefully considered," Dame said. "We are satisfied based on the facts that transfers can resume."

Transfers were halted in November after Canadian officials saw evidence that one prisoner was abused at the hands of his Afghan captors after being handed over by the Canadians.

Since then, the military and Canadian government officials say more than $1.5 million has been spent upgrading Afghan prisons. In addition, guards and prison officials have undergone more professional and human rights training.

The allegations of abuse were an embarrassment to Canada. A year before the claims surfaced, Prime Minister Stephen Harper ridiculed opposition parties for raising torture allegations and accused them of being pro-Taliban.

One prisoner told Canadian officials in November that he had been beaten unconscious, whipped with electrical cables and a rubber hose by Afghan captors, according to a government letter.

The prisoner told the Canadians exactly where they could find the torture instruments and led them to his prison cell where they discovered the hose and cable under a chair.

Canada has about 2,500 troops involved in combat in Afghanistan's volatile south.
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Generals tell Berlin to leave Afghanistan
Feb. 29, 2008 at 8:37 PM
Print story Email to a friend Font size:BERLIN, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Former Soviet generals have told the German government not to expand its engagement in Afghanistan and instead think about pulling out its troops.

"More troops won't solve this problem, that's our experience. They only increase the tragedy," Lev Serebrov, a former Soviet army general and now a parliamentarian in the Russian Duma, said earlier this week in Berlin, according to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. Germany, he said, shouldn't be thinking about sending more troops to Afghanistan, but "how it can pull out" of the country.

A serving Russian military official, Gen. Ruslan Aushev, said the situation in Afghanistan reminded him strongly of the military operation the Soviet Union had in the country in the 1980s.

"We were there for nearly a decade, first with a battalion, then with a division, then with 100,000 troops -- and in the end, we were forced to retreat," he said at the same Berlin event, which was sponsored by RIA Novosti.

He warned Germany to keep focusing on reconstruction and not to send its troops into volatile southern Afghanistan. If Germany did that, there will be "a lot of casualties." No one had ever succeeded in imposing a social model onto Afghans.

Serebrov said the international community should pull out of Afghanistan and let the Afghans handle their problems on their own. That would lead to civil war, he noted.

"But help from outside will only have an effect when the forces of violence have worn out," he said, as quoted by the Berliner Zeitung.

The remarks come as NATO officials and most recently U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama demanded that European powers become increasingly engaged in southern Afghanistan.

Obama had said it can't be that U.S. and British troops do all the "dirty work" in southern Afghanistan, where NATO is fighting the Taliban, while other European countries are refusing to take part in the heaviest fighting.

Germany has more than 3,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan as part of the NATO-led, U.N.-mandated International Security Assistance Force. The German parliamentary mandate forbids German troops from fighting in southern Afghanistan, except when called in for emergency aid missions.
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Pakistan to close largest Afghan refugee camp
Sat, Mar 1 08:16 PM
Islamabad, March 1 (Xinhua) Pakistan plans to shut down its biggest camp of Afghan refugees by April 15 and the affected Afghans may have to look for alternate camps or return to Afghanistan, the UN refugee agency said Saturday.

The decision to close the Jalozai camp in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province was based on security concerns and endorsed by a tripartite commission comprising the governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 2006 and 2007.

Jalozai had been hosting nearly 110,000 registered Afghans who fled from their conflict-ridden country. Since the authorities began closing the sprawling settlement last August, some 25,000 inhabitants have returned to Afghanistan.

Fearing mass displacement and a humanitarian crisis on the eve of winter, UNHCR and the Afghan authorities had requested for a temporary suspension of the closure. Jalozai's Afghan elders also signed an undertaking to vacate the refugee village between March 1 and April 15 this year.

They were given two options: voluntary repatriation to Afghanistan or relocation to another existing refugee settlement in Pakistan.

Afghans returning home with UNHCR help are entitled to an average cash grant of $100 each to cover their travel and initial reintegration expenses.

Some 80,000 registered Afghans still live in Jalozai.

Currently there are some two million registered Afghans living in different places in Pakistan. They are allowed to stay in the country till the end of 2009.
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Afghan president condemns terrorist attack in neighboring Pakistan 
www.chinaview.cn  2008-03-01 21:27:53
 KABUL, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday termed the suicide attack that left some 40 dead in Pakistan as an act of terrorism and strongly denounced it, a statement issued by his office said.

"This heinous act of terrorism is against Islam and humanity and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms," Karzai said in the statement. "Terrorism threatens peace and progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan alike."

The Afghan president also said that targeting Muslims at a funeral shows the terrorists' sheer enmity and hatred towards Islam.

The bloody terrorist attack, according to media reports, occurred at the funeral ceremony of senior police officer Jawed Iqbal who died in a Friday roadside bomb in northwestern Pakistan's Swat valley.
Both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been the scene of growing terrorist attacks as the hard-line Taliban and associated militants have stepped up their attacks in both the neighboring nations.
Editor: Bi Mingxin 
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Extreme cold devastated livestock sector in Afghanistan: FAO
via Hindu, India
New York (PTI): Extreme cold has devastated the Afghan livestock sector, killing over 3,00,000 animals since late December and seriously affecting livelihoods, a new United Nations report said.

High prices for fuel, vegetable oil and cereals are compounding the vulnerability of poor households, reducing their access to food, it added.

The harshest winter weather conditions in nearly 30 years have killed over 800 people, and many others, notably shepherds and their families, have suffered severe frostbite, requiring disabling amputation, the report by Food and Agriculture (FAO) said.

Food and medical supplies have been running short as roads in remote areas remain blocked by heavy snowfall. Winter crops in the hardest-hit areas have been severely damaged, in particular vegetables, which are the main source of nutrition during the lean winter months, it added.

"The situation is very worrying," said Samuel Kugbei, acting FAO Representative in Afghanistan.

"Livestock are a lifeline for many of the affected households, whose food situation is already precarious. Without assistance, they risk even greater food insecurity," he said.

In collaboration with Afghanistan's Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock, FAO has distributed 20 metric tons of feed in Herat, one of the hardest-hit provinces. FAO is also providing 60 metric tons of feed concentrate to the worst-affected farmers in Bamyan Province.
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Finland unsatisfied with Afghan reply on its peacekeeper death
www.chinaview.cn  2008-03-01 04:36:07
HELSINKI, Feb. 29 (Xinhua) -- Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva Friday said that Finland had not received satisfying explanations from Afghanistan on the death of a Finnish peacekeeper, local media reported.

Kanerva had a talk with visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta who was in Helsinki on a tour of the Nordic countries on Friday.

Petri Immonen, a Finnish peacekeeper, was killed in bomb attack in Afghanistan last year. Finland has been demanding Afghanistan to explain why the men convicted of involvement in the killing were released early.

Kanerva said that the account given by visiting Afghan Foreign Minister did not satisfy him, adding that Finland would continue to put requests for an accounting to the Afghan political leadership.

Spanta expressed his condolences to the family of the dead soldier and promised that the Afghan government would do everything within the law to solve the matter.

Finnish President Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen also met Afghan Foreign Minister separately on Friday.
Editor: Yan Liang 
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Singapore to deploy 50 men to Afghanistan
Bangkok Post, Thailand
Singapore (dpa) - Singapore plans to increase its presence in Afghanistan from 10 to 50 men this year, the armed forces said Saturday.

Two 20-man teams will head to Oruzgan province south-west of the capital Kabul for three months each, providing health care and ward facilities in support of a medical operation run by Dutch and Australian forces.

Another two five-man construction engineering teams will help in the reconstruction of Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan.

"Afganistan is at the front line in the global fight against terrorism," Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean told parliament on Friday.

"Extremists have made use of an unstable Afghanistan as a safe haven to train terrorists, and to export violence and terror to other countries, including Singapore," he said.

Several Jemaah Islamiah (JI) detainees who planned attacks in the city-state had trained in Afghanistan, Teo noted.

Those being sent to Oruzgan will receive three weeks of training in Singapore and another two weeks of preparations with their Australian counterparts.
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6 suspected insurgents detained from Afghanistan's Zabul
www.chinaview.cn  2008-03-01 20:43:20
KABUL, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Six suspected insurgents have been detained during a combined operation of Afghan security forces and the U.S.-led Coalition troops in the country's south province of Zabul, said a Coalition statement issued here Saturday.

The arrests were made on Feb. 29 when the joint force searched compounds in the Deh Chopan district of Zabul "targeting a Taliban commander with ties to Taliban support networks and weapons facilitation operations in the area," it said.

The Coalition said the detainees would be questioned on their involvement in Taliban operations as well as other extremist activities.

The multi-national Coalition forces, with majority a 16,000-strong U.S. troops, are deployed in Afghanistan for fighting militants and ensuring security.

The past few days have seen a series of combined operation by Afghan and Coalition forces in the southern and eastern regions of the war-torn country.
Editor: Bi Mingxin 
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Police arrest Afghan suspected of involvement in Sherpao attack
Daily Times, Pakistan
CHARSADDA: The police on Friday arrested a man suspected of involvement in a number of terrorist activities, including a suicide attack on former federal interior minister Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao, a police official said.

Police took the suspected militant named Dawood, an Afghan national, into custody after they found him lying unconscious in sugarcane fields, Charsadda District Police Officer (DPO) Feroz Shah Khan told reporters.

Elaborating the backdrop to the arrest, Khan said extremists attacked a police checkpost here on Thursday night. Two militants were killed in the crossfire that ensued, while two others managed to get away.

On Friday morning, police made the arrest after receiving a tip that an injured man was lying unconscious in some sugarcane fields. Police personnel took Dawood into custody and shifted him to Charsadda hospital, said Khan. A heavy police contingent had been deployed outside the hospital, he added.

The DPO said Dawood was suspected of involvement in a number of terrorist activities, including the suicide attack on Sherpao and target killing in Charsadda. An Afghan Foreign Ministry service card was among the cards found in Dawood’s possession, he added. online
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Australia to fight messy wars: expert
The Age, Australia February 29, 2008
Australia will fight more messy wars like those in Iraq and Afghanistan, a defence expert says.

Both wars are far from the conventional battles of the 20th century with a variety of enemies often working independent of each other and regularly seeking to destabilise the work of Western coalitions.

Director of the Centre for International studies Alan Dupont warned the Australian Defence Force (ADF) would be increasingly involved in these sorts of wars.

"We will be fighting these kinds of messy wars," Professor Dupont told an Australian Strategic Policy Institute luncheon in Canberra on Friday.

With this new kind of war would come the "ongoing problem" of weapons of mass destruction and most worryingly nuclear armed weapons.

"The terrorism that we are seeing today has the potential to be a strategic threat," Prof Dupont said.

"We are not talking about just the odd bomb going off and a few dozen people being killed, we are talking about a serious challenge to order.

"Then you add to that the possibility of the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, in particular a nuclear device, which is entirely probable and (which) some commentators believe is a 50-50 proposition, that is a pretty serious issue for us in Australia," Prof Dupont said.

Amid the ongoing carnage of Afghanistan and Iraq there are plenty of positives for Australia as a new global balance of power emerges.

Prof Dupont described the relationship between India and Australia as "a good news story" and he said it was now clear the rise of China would not be the great worry some predicted a decade ago.

"It (China) has become a status quo power, it has become a normal great power.

"I do not think we are going to see the Chinese attempting to stoke the flames of dissent or destabilising the region in a way that people suggested in the past."
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Government in Kabul disconnected and isolated: Kerry
Pajhwak 02/29/2008 (PAN) NEW YORK
Influential US Senator, John Kerry, who was in Afghanistan last week, said Tuesday the Afghan Government has become disconnected and isolated.

The government in Kabul has become somewhat disconnected, isolated, however you want to call it, from some of the provinces. And it's critical that that connection become robust, Kerry told reporters in Washington during a press conference on his trip to Afghanistan.

The strong remarks by Kerry, who was the Democratic Party presidential candidate in 2004, comes a day after his party colleague and travel companion to Afghanistan, Senator Joe Biden expressed his displeasure over Karzai rejecting the proposal to send British politician Paddy Ashdown as UN Envoy.

In fact Kerry reiterated Bidens view as part of his proposed action plan on Afghanistan. As we have been saying for some time, we clearly need one person in charge of coordinating the many operations in Afghanistan, he said.

Kerry argued for sending more troops, developing a comprehensive counter-narcotics policy, and more resources for reconstruction and development effort.

There are really two areas of responsibility here. One is for us to provide the tools and capacity to the government of Afghanistan, but the second is for the government of Afghanistan to use those tools and exercise that capacity, he said.

At the moment, there's a mixture of neither sufficiently meeting the task, Kerry observed at the press conference, which was also addressed by Biden, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Biden reiterated: There are a number of agencies, there are a number of countries involved with relatively small amounts of commitment, but in non-military in Afghanistan there is no coordination, there is no single coordinator. We finally got around to the point saying that we needed somebody who could bring all these elements together so that they were not working at odds with another or duplicating efforts here.

He went on to say: Paddy Ashdown, an incredibly competent person, was the person put forward by the EU and the United States. Karzai and others, for whatever their reasons, said no.

Biden said: I think we have to make it clear, if they expect us to foot the bill, we get to pick who the coordinator is. But we need an overall coordinator for the entire country of Afghanistan, coordinating all the economic aid and assistance coming in from around the world, and it has to increase significantly.
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Afghanistan: Extreme cold hits farmers
(AKI) 29 February Rome
The harshest winter in nearly 30 years has devastated Afghanistan's livestock sector, killing over 300,000 animals since late December and seriously affecting people's livelihoods, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said on Friday.

High fuel, vegetable oil and cereals are compounding the vulnerability of poor households, reducing their access to food.

The extreme cold has killed over 800 people, and many others, especially shepherds and their families, have suffered severe frostbite, requiring disabling amputation, according to a recent FAO report.

Food and medical supplies have been running short as roads in remote areas remain blocked by heavy snowfall. Winter crops in the hardest-hit areas have been severely damaged, in particular vegetables, which are the main source of nutrition during the lean winter months.

“The situation is very worrying,” said Samuel Kugbei, acting FAO representative in Afghanistan. "Livestock are a lifeline for many of the affected households, whose food situation is already precarious. Without assistance, they risk even greater food insecurity.”

FAO has distributed 20 tonnes of feed in Herat, one of the hardest-hit provinces. FAO is also providing 60 tonnes of feed concentrate to the worst-affected farmers in Bamyan Province.

The European Commission’s humanitarian aid department has pledged over 500 000 dollars to provide 500 tonnes of feed concentrate.

High world wheat prices, and the low purchasing power of the bulk of the population, mean that the country’s commercial import requirement this year of 550,000 tonnes of wheat, the main staple, is unlikely to be met and the figure may need to be revised upwards.

The UN agency is seeking over 2 million dollars to provide an additional 1 500 tonnes of feed, as well as vaccines, multi-vitamins and anti-parasitic treatment for the livestock of 50,000 vulnerable farming families.

The food aid requirement had been estimated at 100 000 tonnes of wheat. Early prospects for the 2008 wheat crop, currently in its dormancy period, are favourable, however.

With temperatures beginning to rise, snow is melting rapidly in the mountains and flooding of major rivers is expected in the spring. FAO is currently working with the national disaster management authorities and its UN and humanitarian partners on measures to prepare for and respond to flooding.
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Keeping the Sharia Peace
Washington Post, United States by Jack Fairweather February 29, 2008
Sharia law gets bad press in the West. It’s the body of law drawn from the Koran, reported sayings of the prophet, and centuries of jurisprudence, and in its most extreme form it prescribes punishments such as beheadings, amputations and stonings. Cases like that of the Saudi rape victim, who was sentenced to 200 lashes for meeting a man who eventually raped her, have largely come to define how we see Islamic law: at best, a kind of medieval anachronism; at worst, barbarous and anti-women.

In Afghanistan, tribal law suffused with Sharia is the only form of legal redress for the vast majority of the country. (A central justice system has yet to take off anywhere other than the capital, Kabul).
 Terrorism aside, few would argue the sophistication of Afghan crime; most is gun battles between warring families, theft of livestock and land, and government brutality. Those offenses can be found anywhere.
But what's remarkable about Afghanistan, and rural areas of countries like Jordan and Syria, is the degree of community and family cohesion. Terrorism again aside, crime is rarely committed by strangers. Tribal law, usually administered by elders or the local religious leader, is intended not as a form of public punishment but as conflict resolution.

This point was rammed home to me on a recent trip to Khowst in Eastern Afghanistan. The town is nestled in a leafy bowl on the mountainous border with Pakistan, with a Californian climate and powerful tribal code known as Pashtun Walia. I was driving through the town with Afghan security forces last week, when they pointed out a man crossing the street ahead.

“He killed his neighbor last night,” said the driver.

“Why?” I asked.

“There was a dispute over land between their families. He’s crazy,” he said as we drove past the man.

“Why don’t you arrest him?”

“That’s not our job. Their tribal leaders will gather tonight to decide on how much compensation the man should pay,” he said.

That amount could range anywhere between $10 and $100 depending on the family¹s demand, explained the driver. Once paid, the dispute is laid to rest.

This is how tribal justice works in many areas of the Middle East: traditional, influenced but not dominated by the Koran, and effective (in contrast to Khost’s criminal justice system, which has failed to prosecute a case in two years and has a medieval-style vault for a prison.)

“No one is a loser in this system,” said Nasir Ahmed, one of two general attorneys in the city. “No one loses face, and that is important for keeping the peace.”

There is, of course, a more developed form of Islamic jurisprudence that constitutes Sharia. Centuries of Koranic interpretation have built of a vast body of legal precedents that have developed with the changing demands of society. At the core of Sharia,¬ in contrast to tribal law, is the principle of punishment for transgression. That’s where the stonings and beheadings come in. Nasir, who describes himself as opponent of Sharia’s harsher punishments, says there’s no point in trying to gloss over them.

“They’re there in the Koran, and they’ve been established by centuries of use,” he said. He singles out relatively few countries that use Sharia as their only source of jurisprudence: Saudi Arabia is one, Iran another (and Afghanistan too, if the system worked). The vast majority of Muslim countries use Islamic law mixed with Western-style legal codes.

“A far bigger issue for me, no matter the system, is whether there is justice,” he said. “That’s where the real problem lies.” For Nasir, the harsher Sharia punishments are often a response to failing judicial systems, although he does not doubt that groups like the Taliban use these punishments to create fear.

“Is Sharia compatible with justice? The answer, of course, is yes,” he said. “But can it be abused? Also yes.”
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Letter from the past and the future
Toronto Star, Canada Rosie DiManno Feb 29, 2008
The other day, I received an email from an old friend.
His name is Faramarz Sangi and the last time I saw him, he was putting me into a barge to cross the heavily mined Amu Darya River that separates northern Afghanistan from Tajikistan. That was in late December 2001, after we'd spent two months together running hither and yon with the jubilant Northern Alliance as American B-52s dropped megaton bombs on Taliban forces.

Faramarz was my fixer. He entered my life one fortuitous morning after I'd just finished using the running-water bathtub – the only contraption of its kind thereabouts – in a house owned by Ahmed Shah Massoud. The legendary Alliance leader was dead by then, assassinated by Al Qaeda on the eve of 9/11 in a quid pro quo between Osama bin Laden and one-eyed Mullah Omar.

It was a rescue of sorts, as Faramarz offered his services as facilitator and interpreter, to replace the totally inept fellow I'd been using, who'd turned out to be both a thief and incapable of stringing together more than a dozen words of English. Faramarz, by comparison, spoke English well, had a lovely disposition, was well-connected with the Alliance and devoted himself entirely to my well-being.

In the way of Afghan males, however, and the tradition of prolonged palaver, this required man-to-man negotiations just shy of the Oslo Accords. Two days they spent, drinking tea while I paced, Faramarz explaining that his rival's honour had to be appeased. Finally, said honour was appeased to the tune of several hundred U.S. dollars.

The only problem was that Faramarz would never leave my side, even when I wanted desperately to be alone and would bird-dog me from a distance on those occasions when I slipped away for some solitary rambling. "It is not done,'' he would admonish. "Women do not walk alone in Afghanistan.'' Adding: "You are shaming me in front of the other men.''

Eventually, Faramarz moved into my mud-walled hovel. Every evening, by candlelight, we played hours of gin rummy, which I taught him. He introduced me to Afghan folk music, the tapes he'd managed to save when such godless abominations were outlawed by the Taliban.

Faramarz had been a university student in Kabul when the Taliban came to power, far more educated than most Afghans. Yet I was shocked, one day, when I tried to have a conversation with him about Israel. He'd never heard of Israel. He'd never heard of Jews. This is how insular and primitive Afghan society remained, in the 21st century, although it was refreshing not to rehash Muslim-Jewish grievances. Faramarz didn't know anything about religious enmity and Middle East wars.

It is easy to forget, as the West laments Afghanistan's sluggish movement toward rehabilitation, how far that nation has come in the past six years.

When Faramarz and I were together, just finding food was a challenge, both of us subsisting on a diet of potatoes and rice, foraging for wood to boil well water. And now here he is, sending me email from an Internet café.

Let me tell you a story about Faramarz because it encapsulates the optimism and tragedy of Afghanistan.

His father had been a general in the Afghan air force – yes, they did have one. Just before Kabul fell, he'd flown the country's single remaining fighter jet to Amman, for safe storage. After the Taliban was deposed, he decided to bring the aircraft back, an act of symbolic triumph. The plane crashed short of Kabul and Faramarz's father was killed.

He wrote afterwards to tell me that, tears splashed on the paper.

Faramarz is in Kabul now, working for the International Security Assistance Force.

I loved him, chastely. I love his country, ardently.

Rosie DiManno usually appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
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US will have to strike a new deal with Gen. Kiyani to win Afghan war
Thaindian.com, Thailand February 29th, 2008
Washington--In the current scenario when Pervez Musharrafs power has weakened after February 18 polls, the US will have to strike a new deal with Pakistan Army Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani to win the Afghanistan war.

But Kiyani must tread carefully lest he be seen as another American puppet. He has agreed to closer intelligence sharing among Pakistani, Afghan and US agents on the mythical Pakistan-Afghan border and quick responses by US-trained Pakistan Special Forces, United Press International has said in its report.

The US will continue remote-controlled (from Nevada-based cockpit by satellite) Predator drone airstrikes on targets generated by agents on the ground in North and South Waziristan and Bajaur. Yet this is where a WMD attack on the United States is being planned.

The three strongest parties to emerge from Pakistan’s relatively free elections are now haggling over what kind of coalition to put together among ideological opponents.

Together, they can impeach Musharraf and force the election of a powerless civilian President. But the Bush Administration wants Musharraf to stay in the job even with much reduced authority.

More worrisome for US and NATO objectives in Afghanistan, the two victorious partiees — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People’s Party’s — want to talk and negotiate with Taliban, not fight.

Taliban reacted with a “unilateral cease-fire,” a decision Islamabad’s cognoscenti say was the work of the still all-powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the original sponsoring entity that mid-wifed Taliban and shepherded its conquest of Afghanistan in the early 1990s.

Replacing US influence in Pakistan — or still competing for it — is Saudi Arabia and its protege Nawaz Sharif, the man who was deposed by Musharraf in 1999 and exiled to the Saudi kingdom for 10 years.
The new triumvirate that is gradually superseding President Bush’s “most trusted non-NATO ally” is made up of ISI, Saudi Arabia and Sharif. This does not bode well for the future of NATO in Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai’s government in Kabul controls only a third of the country while a resurgent Taliban is now solidly entrenched in 10 percent of the narco-state, according to US Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell. And tribal leaders call the shots in the rest of a barren, medieval country. (ANI)
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AFGHANISTAN: FACINGTHE UGLY TRUTH
Dramatic increases in bloodshed, a growing insurgency fuelled by local grievances, serious shortfalls in troops and equipment. The situation is bleak. Still many seem to agree: The worst is yet to come
GRAEME SMITH AND PAUL KORING March 1, 2008 Globe and Mail, Canada
KABUL and WASHINGTON -- When managers from all the major humanitarian agencies in Kandahar gathered in a high-walled compound to swap war stories last month, it wasn't the tales of kidnappings and suicide bombs that caused the most worry. Nor was it the reports of insurgents enforcing their own brutal laws and executing aid workers.

"The scary thing was, no foreigners attended the meeting," a participant said. "Everybody had evacuated."

Most aid organizations quietly withdrew their international staff from Kandahar in recent weeks, the latest sign that the situation here is getting worse. It's now almost impossible to spot a foreigner on the city streets, except for the occasional glimpse of a pale face in a troop carrier or a United Nations armoured vehicle.

At least the foreigners can escape. For many ordinary people the ramshackle city now feels like a prison, with the highways out of town regularly blocked by Taliban or bandits. Residents have even started avoiding their own city streets after dark, as formerly bustling shops switch off their colourful neon lights and pull down the shutters. There is rarely any electricity for the lights anyway, partly because the roads are too dangerous for contractors to risk bringing in a new turbine for a nearby hydroelectric generator.

Corrupt police prowl the intersections, enforcing a curfew for anybody without that night's password, or bribe money. The officers seem especially nervous these days, because the Taliban hit them almost every night with ambushes, rocket-propelled grenades or just a deceptively friendly man who walks up to a police checkpoint with an automatic rifle hidden under a shawl.

Insurgent attacks have climbed sharply in Kandahar and across the country. But some analysts believe the numbers don't capture the full horror of what's happening in Afghanistan's south and east. When a girl in a school uniform is stopped in downtown Kandahar by a man who asks frightening questions about why she's attending classes, that small act of intimidation does not appear in any statistics.

Even so, the statistics are bad. The United Nations's count of security incidents in Afghanistan last year climbed to 13 times the number recorded in 2003, and the UN forecasts even worse this year. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization says insurgent attacks increased 64 per cent from 2006 to 2007. In the first two months of this year, some analysts have noticed a 15- to 20-per-cent rise in insurgent activity compared with the same period last year, raising alarm about whether the traditional spring fighting season has started early.

The prospect of another year of rising bloodshed has forced a moment of reckoning. Almost everybody involved with Afghanistan is taking a hard look at the country's future, even as Canada's Parliament takes stock of its role in the war. The Liberals nearly forced an election this spring over a government motion to extend the mission to 2011 - and although the extension now seems likely to pass when it comes to a vote next month, the mission is increasingly a source of raucous debate in Canada and among its NATO allies.

"Make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan," concluded the Atlantic Council of the United States, a prestigious American think tank that deals with international affairs. "Unless this reality is understood and action is taken promptly, the future of Afghanistan is bleak, with regional and global impact."

The toughest parts of the south, such as Kandahar, were considered lawless but not extremely dangerous after the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Foreign aid workers drove in unarmoured vehicles along the dirt roads of every district in the province, often with no armed guards. No districts of the province - in fact, no districts in the country - were labelled "extreme risk" on the UN's threat assessment maps in May of 2005.

Despite the relative calm of those years, many aid groups were calling for international forces to bring order in the wild countryside and extend the influence of President Hamid Karzai, who was jokingly called the "Mayor of Kabul" because of his government's limited reach.

Kabul was roaring with activity as foreign aid poured into the capital, and the international community wanted to spread the prosperity into rural areas. It was widely believed that a few thousand troops could stabilize a province such as Kandahar.

"In retrospect, it was naive," said a Western security official in Kabul. "It was a mistake."

By the time Canada's battle group arrived at the beginning of 2006, warning signs were already emerging that the project would not go as planned. The killing of a Canadian diplomat in January of that year prompted Ottawa to cut its provincial reconstruction team from 250 to 120 people early in the year, including a temporary evacuation of all civilian staff, and the Canadians found themselves locked in major clashes with the largest groups of Taliban ever seen in the country since their regime had collapsed.

An updated version of the United Nations threat map was published in June of 2006, showing rising danger levels for humanitarian workers in many parts of Afghanistan, including two of Kandahar's 17 districts, which were coloured solidly pink, indicating "extreme risk."

Like a cancer, those pink splotches on the UN maps have spread until they now dominate the country's south and east. The latest map, updated in December, shows 14 of 17 districts in Kandahar are entirely designated as extreme risk.

Military commanders often sneer at the United Nations threat maps, saying that civilian analysts exaggerate the risks, but security officials say the UN mapping generally reflects the military's own classified analysis, and it's far from the only measure by which Afghanistan's security has worsened in the past two years.

In a blunt assessment this week, Vice-Admiral Michael McConnell, the U.S. intelligence czar, admitted that the Karzai government controls less than one-third of the country. The Taliban hold 10 per cent on a more-or-less permanent basis while the rest is run by local warlords, he said, describing the situation as deteriorating.

Even that gloomy picture may represent an airbrushed version of events, some analysts say, because increasing collusion between Taliban and local powerbrokers - criminal groups, warlords, drug barons, ordinary farmers and even government authorities - allows the insurgents to operate freely in districts without exerting visible control.

A rising campaign of intimidation in recent months also seems aimed at persuading those still undecided about the Taliban. Police officers' bodies, shot or beheaded, have been dumped in public places. Other corpses hang from trees, dangling from nooses with the word "spy" scrawled on a note attached to the body. More detailed notes are posted at night on the front doors of anybody suspected of having sympathies for the Kabul government, warning of deadly consequences for anybody who helps what the Taliban call a "puppet regime." It's well known that the insurgents rarely make empty threats.

Even if villagers aren't afraid of the Taliban, many join up because they find the new government unpalatable. No regime has ever been overthrown at the ballot box in Afghanistan, so political opposition often becomes part of the insurgency.

Many Afghans view the government as a family business, reaping the spoils from foreign donors at the expense of those who don't belong to the well-connected tribes or family networks.

They watch government officials profit from the drug trade, and grow angry when eradicators destroy their small field of poppies. And in the battle-scarred landscape where Canadians operate, many people nurse deep grudges against the foreign troops after having their relatives detained or killed in the years of fighting.

"That's where we're seeing the growth in this insurgency, from the local grievances," Joanna Nathan, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, said.

The increases in bloodshed have been dramatic: Last year, more than 6,500 people, most of them ordinary Afghans, were killed in the violence, as compared with roughly 4,000 in 2006, and 1,000 in 2005. More than 220 foreign soldiers, most of them Americans but also dozens of Canadian and British troops, were also killed in 2007, by far the deadliest year since the United States invaded. Those early years of fighting, in 2001 and 2002, caused 80 deaths among the U.S. troops and their foreign allies.

Canada's 2,500 troops are deployed in a rugged province of blistering deserts, snowy mountains and lush valleys roughly the size of Nova Scotia. With a desperately poor population of more than one million people and a long, porous border with the hotbed of Islamic extremism in neighbouring Pakistan's tribal lands, bringing security to Kandahar would be a challenge even without the Taliban.

On most days, fewer than 600 Canadian soldiers are "outside the wire" of NATO's sprawling base at Kandahar Airport, a number that everyone concedes is far too few to conduct a classic counterinsurgency campaign.

For rough comparison, NATO sent 40,000 troops into Kosovo - a place roughly one-quarter the size of Kandahar and with no active insurgency in 1999. More than one-third of them are still there eight years later. In fact, NATO has five times as many troops deployed in Kosovo as Canada has in Kandahar.

Comparisons with other insurgencies show a similar shortfall of soldiers in the Afghan war: Conflicts in Somalia, Malaysia, Sierra Leone, East Timor and Iraq all required far more troops per capita than NATO has devoted to Afghanistan.

But finding another country to replace Canada, or even provide the additional 1,000 soldiers the Harper government is demanding as a price for staying in Kandahar until 2011, won't be easy. Few NATO members are in a position to help.

A simpler, more effective, solution exists: The number of boots on the ground, outside the wire, could be doubled if deployments were increased to a year from the current six months.

It's unpopular with those in uniform and politically difficult, but even the huge U.S. military has turned to longer deployments as an effective force multiplier.

U.S. army units now deploy for 15 months. Canadian troops spend barely one-third that length of time in Afghanistan, once a mid-deployment vacation is included. The relatively short deployments also means that the two- or three-week overlap required to get the incoming unit familiar with the people and terrain they will occupy and fight cuts more deeply into their effective time on the ground than if rotations were longer.

Longer rotations would also reduce the problems that happen every time a fresh group of Canadians arrives in Kandahar. There is usually a spike in civilian shootings as the nervous new troops settle into their roles, and Afghan politicians complain that every new group of soldiers seems to forget what the previous rotation learned. Every newly arrived soldier is forced to start anew with the slow process of building the personal relationships that form the critical basis of all dealings in a traditional, largely illiterate society.

While the Canadian army is probably too small to send two 1,000-soldier battle groups to Afghanistan simultaneously on six-month deployments, doubling deployment lengths to a year and adding another 400 or 500 soldiers would come close to doubling the available boots on the ground.

The other serious shortfalls that plague the war in Kandahar may be harder to solve. The desperate shortage of medium- and heavy-lift helicopters is so serious, and European allies so unwilling to help, that NATO is chartering Russian commercial helicopters to move food, fuel and munitions. While that reduces the exposure of resupply convoys to the deadly roadside bombs, the civilian-flown choppers aren't cleared to carry troops.

At least temporarily, hard-pressed Canadian troops in Kandahar will get help when more than 2,000 battle-hardened U.S. Marines and their helicopters land this spring in southern Afghanistan.

"My hope is that the addition of the Marines will provide the kind of help that will reduce the levels of casualties," U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said when asked about the disproportionate number of Canadians killed battling the Taliban.

The Marines, sent in to reinforce NATO forces for this summer's fighting season, will add massive punching strength to the thinly stretched Canadians in Kandahar. The influx of Americans may also bring a shift in strategy: U.S. commanders have been saying that Canada and other NATO countries have been too "soft," too hesitant to pursue the Taliban into their rural strongholds.

The Canadians, by contrast, have often quietly denigrated the American forces from whom they inherited Kandahar in 2006, saying the U.S. soldiers were more interested in "search-and-destroy" operations than holding key zones and trying to bring development in limited areas.

Canadian and Dutch forces in the south have pointedly avoided major sweeps through far-flung Taliban enclaves in the past year, and even avoided patrolling some Taliban-held villages just 15 kilometres outside of Kandahar city, saying they don't have the necessary troops.

That cautious approach will likely end with the arrival of the Marines.

The American presence may continue to grow, too. Shifting political priorities in the United States are bringing new attention to Afghanistan.

Iraq "distracted us from the fight that needed to be fought in Afghanistan against al-Qaeda," said Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic front-runner, who has promised to both pull all of his country's 160,000 soldiers out of Iraq and send tens of thousands to Afghanistan.

Recent developments in another country, Pakistan, may also affect Afghanistan. The defeat of religious parties in a recent election; a recent spate of insurgent attacks on Pakistani military and intelligence targets; and the rise of the so-called Pakistani Taliban whose declared goal is waging holy war against Islamabad, have raised hopes among an optimistic few observers that Pakistan's authorities might finally take action against the Taliban's havens in that country. Others see the turmoil in Pakistan as a grim sign.

Nearly everyone agrees, however, that Afghanistan will likely see rising violence in 2008. Two Western security analysts predicted that the year will bring increased sophistication in the Taliban's technology; they're likely to use so-called explosively formed penetrators for the first time, adopting a technique often used in Iraq to puncture even the most heavily armoured vehicle with a specially shaped explosive.

Afghanistan's economic growth is also expected to continue slowing. Private investment was cut in half in 2007 compared with a year earlier, to about $500-million, and trade within the country will be hampered by Taliban and criminal roadblocks on the main highways.

The insurgency is showing signs of increased radicalization, too, and analysts expect this will continue with spectacularly vicious attacks in the coming year, as the most extreme insurgent leaders try to wrestle control away from more moderate Taliban who may consider the government's offer of negotiations.

It's unclear whether a political settlement can be reached with the Taliban, or what that might resemble if it happens, but the difficult process of talking with the insurgents won't likely bear fruit in the coming year. Even the most optimistic NATO officials say they cannot expect to reduce the levels of violence in 2008, and the Taliban claim they have momentum, meaning they're unlikely to give Kabul favourable terms.

"Existing measures to promote peace in Afghanistan are not succeeding," said a report published this week by Oxfam International.

But if the tough situation in Afghanistan does not inspire hope in the short term, many observers still believe success is possible, eventually. The insurgency does not yet appear to be spreading beyond the ethnic Pashtun areas of Afghanistan's south and east. Ms. Nathan of the International Crisis Group said the international community can prevail by digging in for the long term and making the Afghan government into something palatable for ordinary people.

The author of the latest Oxfam report, Matt Waldman, said the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan has inspired other creative ideas about what should happen next.

"We need to think hard about the entire international approach to Afghanistan," Mr. Waldman said.

In an interview at his Kabul office, the respected analyst said he has grown enthusiastic about an approach called "community peace-building," which envisions local meetings to solve the squabbles over land, water or patronage that often simmer underneath the broader reasons for conflict. The solutions may not resemble the kind of Afghanistan that outsiders want, he said, but in some places they may bring peace.

"The secret to success will be not imposing Western ideas and values," he said.

Bogged down: Where Afghanistan is today

Insurgent attacks in Afghanistan are up sharply, aid workers are leaving and more and more of the country is labelled extremely risky by the United Nations. Here is a portrait of Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban.

The Canadian involvement

2001: The Taliban finally give up their last stronghold of Kandahar, routed by British and U.S. air strikes and opposition ground assaults.

2002: The first contingent of foreign peacekeepers arrives. Canada sends about 850 troops to serve with U. S. forces in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar

CANADIAN CASUALITIES: 13 * injured or killed

2003: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization takes control of security in Kabul. It is the first time NATO has mobilized a military force outside Europe in its 54year history.

CANADIAN CASUALITIES: 5

TOTAL SECURITY INCIDENTS: 508

2004: Canadian Lieutenant General Rick Hillier assumes overall command of NATO's International Security Assistance Force for six months.

CANADIAN CASUALTIES: 9

TOTAL SECURITY INCIDENTS: 1,044

2005: Timetable of violence

Canada assumes command of the provincial reconstruction team in Kandahar city. Canadian Forces begin the process of redeployment from Kabul to Kandahar

CANADIAN CASUALTIES: 10

TOTAL SECURITY INCIDENTS: 1,876

2006: Canada deploys about 2,200 soldiers to Afghanistan. Canadian diplomat Glyn Berry is killed and three soldiers injured by a suicide bomber in Kandahar. Canadian soldier Robert Costall is killed by U. S. friendly fire.

CANADIAN CAUSALITIES: 300

TOTAL SECURITY INCIDENTS: 5,106

Wounded in action: 180

Non-battle injuries: 84

Non-combat deaths: 4

Killed in action (KIA): 32

AVERAGE MONTHLY SECURITY INCIDENTS: 425

SUICIDE BOMBINGS

In 2006, civilians represented more than 3/4 of all victims...


Afghan forces Civilians International forces
TARGETS 25% 25% 52%
VICTIMS 17% 78% 5%

2007: Controversy breaks out over the fate of Afghans detained by Canadian forces in battle and handed over to Afghan authorities. The issue forces the Harper government to twice revise its policy.

CANADIAN CASUALITIES: 412

TOTAL SECURITY INCIDENTS: 6,792

Wounded in action: 84

Non-battle injuries: 298

Non-combat deaths: 3

Killed in action (KIA): 27

AVERAGE MONTHLY SECURITY INCIDENTS: 566

As of August, 2007

Humanitarian workers killed

International: 7

National: 34

Total: 41

Humanitarian workers abducted

International: 26

National: 44

International Humanitarian workers abducted and killed: 2

National Humanitarian workers abducted and killed: 5

Total: 70 (7 killed by captors)

...but in 2007 it became clear that local forces are being more effectively targeted.


Afghan forces Civilians International forces
TARGETS 38% 19% 43%
VICTIMS 35% 62% 3%

2008: The Conservative government and Liberal Opposition come to terms on extending Canada's mission in Afghanistan through 2011. The matter is to go to a parliamentary vote this month.

TOTAL SECURITY INCIDENTS PROJECTED: UP TO 7,500

Future threat

Some analysts are concerned that this year will see the Taliban using a new weapon, socalled explosively formed penetrators. Itís a tool often used in Iraq to puncture even the most heavily armoured vehicle.

EXPLOSIVELY FORMED PENETRATORS

PARTS

CYLINDRICAL METAL PIPE

EXPLOSIVE INSIDE PIPE

CONCAVE COPPER OR STEEL DISK-SHAPED LINER

An EFP has a liner in the shape of a shallow dish. The force of the blast molds the liner into any of a number of configurations, depending on how the plate is formed and how the explosive is detonated. Has been used in Improvised explosive devices against armoured vehicles and can be made from common metal pipe.

Is it working?

While there is progress in some areas, public opinion about the foreign presence is on the decline, opium production is on the rise and Afghan police are frequent targets.

OPIUM CULTIVATION

1994-2006

(in thousands of hectares)

2006: 165,000 hectares

2001: 8,000 hectares

VIOLENCE

Afghan National Police killed and wounded


Killed in action Wounded in action
'02/'03 9 39
'03/'04 92 75
'04/'05 138 183
'05/'06 412 628
'06/'07 627 1,090

INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING as of March, 2007

Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) projects (education, private-sector development, security, infrastructure, other)

STATUS NUMBER KNOWN FUNDING
Completed 893 $28,727,770
Total* 1,364 $175,341,75

CELL PHONES

Number per 1,000 people

2003: Landline: 3, Cell phone: 10

2005: Landline: 10, Cell phone: 300

NATION BUILDING

Canada's contribution to the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund


$ million U.S. % of all donor contribution
2002-'03 12.0 6.5
2003-'04 50.0 17.5
2004-'05 5.5 1.4
2005-'06 72.3 17.9
2006-'07 58.9 13.0
2007-'08 213.4 31.0
Total 2002-'08 412.2 18.8

CURRENT DEPLOYMENTS

Others: 6,506, 12.7%

Denmark: 780, Spain: 740, Turkey: 675, Romania: 535, Norway: 495, Bulgaria: 420, Belgium: 369, Sweden: 345, Lithuania: 260, Hungary: 230, Croatia: 190, Portugal: 160, Greece: 143, Albania: 140, Czech Republic: 135, Estonia: 130, Macedonia: 130, New Zealand: 115, Finland: 105, Latvia: 96,Jordan: 90, Slovakia: 70, Slovenia: 66, Azerbaijan: 50, Iceland: 10, Luxembourg: 9, Ireland: 7, Austria: 3, Ukraine: 3,

Switzerland: 2, Singapore: 2, Georgia: 1

US*: 23,000, 44.9%

*U.S. has 12.000 to 13,000 troops outside NATO

** The balance of troops come from non-NATIO countries

Australia: 1,070, 2.1%

Poland: 1,141, 2.2%

France: 1,515, 3.0%

Netherlands: 1,650, 3.2%

Canada: 2,500, 4.9%

Italy: 2,880, 5.6%

The black outline summarizes NATO forces which total 48,972 or 95.6%

Germany: 3,210, 6.3%

Britain: 7,753, 15.1%

SOURCES: UNITED NATIONS ASSISTANCE MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN, ISAF, CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, UNMACA, RELIEFWEB. INT, INDEPENDENT PANEL ON CANADA'S FUTURE ROLE IN AFGHANISTAN

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Afghanistan: Road to be constructed in Jalalabad
Source: Frontier Post 29 Feb 2008
JALALABAD/TALOQAN (PAN): Construction work on 16 kilometres road has been initiated with the assistance of the USAID at a total cost of $240,000 in the Chaprehar district of the eastern Nangarhar province, an official said on Wednesday. Project incharge, Eng. Mumtaz told Pajhwok Afghan News the road would be extended from Hafizan village to Srey Qala area of the district. 62 bridges, seven underground water pipes and 385 levees to be constructed for the road and would be completed in six months, he added. District chief, Syed Muhammad Pahlawan informed due to no road the yields can not reach on time to market and the people are facing serious problem in the district.
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US concern over Pakistan deal with militants
By Isambard Wilkinson in Peshawar Telegraph.co.uk, United Kingdom 01/03/2008
Pakistan has secretly revived a controversial peace deal with militants in the tribal areas near Afghanistan, where the army has struggled to tackle al-Qa'eda and the Taliban.

The deal was agreed between the government and more than 280 tribal elders and militants in North Waziristan last month, a government official said yesterday.

Ahmedullah Ahmedi, a militant commander from the area, said: "We will abide by it as long as there is no aggression from the government."

American officials fear that the deal will allow militants to strengthen their forces in the area. President George W Bush's government claimed that a similar deal last year had allowed al-Qa'eda to rebuild and had led to an increase in cross-border infiltration into Afghanistan by militants.

The risks involved were underscored last night when at least 38 people were killed and 50 wounded in a suicide bomb attack at a funeral in Mingora, in Swat. The number of dead was expected to rise.

The bomb exploded among mourners who had gathered for the funeral of a police officer killed earlier in the day. He and three other policemen died when a bomb blew up their vehicle at Lakki Marwat.

The deal with the militants has prompted serious concern among US officials as they contemplate increasing covert military operations in Pakistan's tribal areas on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"There is concern and we are looking very closely at the deal," said a senior Western diplomat.

"It is critical that ground gained during recent operations is not lost."

The deal was struck amid political upheaval as Pervez Musharraf, the increasingly weakened president who was once described as an "indispensable" ally in the US-led war on terror, resists calls to resign following last week's elections.

His opponents, the Pakistan People's Party of Benazir Bhutto, the assassinated former prime minister, and the Pakistan Muslim League-N, are set to form a coalition government and have stoked fears of "appeasement" by pledging to negotiate with militants.

The last deal in North Waziristan survived for 10 months, until it was called off last July by militants.

Richard Boucher, a senior American state department official, said this week that striking peace deals had not worked. "You have to judge it by its outcome and negotiations haven't produced an end to plotting, an end to the planning, an end to the bombs," he said.

A Pakistani government official said the new deal - which had led to the withdrawal of soldiers from checkpoints - was better than the previous accord as it involved a greater number of clans and would extend throughout North Waziristan.

The Pakistan army has about 100,000 troops in the region where more than 1,000 of them, and hundreds of civilians, have been killed.
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