22 July 2018

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Friday June 1, 2018 Kabul (BNA) Afghans will go to the polls Oct. 18 to elect a parliament and local officials for Afghanistan’s 398 districts. But they will vote for more than just officials. They will be voting for the future of Afghanistan; the country’s fate hangs in the balance. The current parliament’s term was to expire in June 2015, but has been extended repeatedly because of security concerns. When President Ashraf Ghani’s term expires next year, a presidential election will have to be held. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s now nearly 40-year war rages on. In 2018, we have witnessed deadly attacks against security forces, journalists and voting registration locations, perpetrated by the Taliban as well as the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (or, ISIL-KP). The international coalition’s Operation Resolute Support, with around 13,000 troops on a “train and assist” mission, is holding things together, but the going is tough. Holding things together through this election cycle, however, is the most important thing the 39-country coalition can do. Elections often are assumed to be political conflict-mitigating events — the fundamental competitive process in democratic systems. But, despite thousands of lives sacrificed to the cause, hundreds of billions of dollars and patchy progress, Afghanistan is far from becoming a democratic country. Elections also can catalyze conflict and spark outbreaks of violence in a fragmented state. Recall the Kenyan election of December 2007 that resulted in 1,300 deaths and more than 600,000 displaced persons. Or the 2014 Bangladesh election: more than 500 deaths were reported in the months preceding the vote, with an additional 62 casualties in January 2014. Afghans have voted multiple times since the Taliban government was evicted in 2001. The voting experience has been mixed. In 2004, Hamid Karzai was elected Afghanistan’s first post-Taliban president. Parliamentary elections were held in 2005, though turnout, at only 50 percent, was disappointing. Turnout dropped to 33 percent in the 2009 presidential election, which was marred by allegations of widespread fraud and a disputed outcome. The presidential election of 2014 was tainted by vote-rigging accusations, and led to an awkward power-sharing arrangement with Ashraf Ghani as president and Abdullah Abdullah as the country’s chief executive officer. Just this April, within weeks of the opening of voter registration, a suicide attack at a registration center killed 57 and wounded over 100. Regardless of whether elections are the best thing for Afghanistan right now, they are nearly certain to take place in October as scheduled. And their success will determine Afghanistan’s trajectory — toward either eventual peace, or protracted and deepening conflict. With the inexorable, if gradual, dissipation of international attention to Afghanistan, a successful election cycle in 2018-19 could be the most important thing for Afghanistan’s future since the 2002 Bonn Agreement. The critical factors defining the success of an election are the security and the legitimacy of the process. If candidates, campaigners and voters are frightened or intimidated, the election will fail to demonstrate the electorate’s true political preferences. If the electoral process is compromised by fraud or manipulation, the outcome will be distorted and discredited, again subverting the electorate’s true political preferences. Providing country-wide security for an election in Afghanistan would be daunting for any security force, but the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) on its own will be overwhelmed. It might be argued that election security is not a military responsibility; however, with the decline of inter-state war, this is becoming one of the most critical military responsibilities, especially in countries where the military is among the few credible institutions. Operation Resolute Support can help; there is still time for intensive training of the ANDSF on election neutrality and appropriate military behavior in securing the country’s 7,355 polling stations. Coalition forces should team with ANDSF for pre-election candidate and campaign security, election day polling station security, and vote count security after ballots are in. Distribution of ballots and official voting material to polling stations could be expedited by coalition air assets. While no foreign effort can guarantee the legitimacy of any election, a robust international observer mission can demonstrate our ongoing commitment to Afghanistan and provide a modest deterrent against fraud and voter intimidation. The magnitude of resources the international community has invested in Afghanistan over the past 17 years justifies a substantial observation effort. Recent events have shown that observing elections in Afghanistan is likely to be dangerous; Resolute Support can offer protection for observers. A discredited election — or worse, an election that erupts into violence — could trigger Afghanistan’s descent into a death spiral to renewed lethal anarchy, such as it experienced in the early 1990s. That anarchy, which the international community observed passively, led to the emergence of the Taliban and, ultimately, to a war we are still fighting today. Thehill Ansari
Friday June 1, 2018 Kabul (BNA) More than 70 senior Taliban leaders were killed in a series of precision strikes carried out by US forces in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand Province from May 17 to 26: a move described by the NATO-led ‘Resolute Support’ mission as “one of the largest blows” dealt to the Taliban leadership in the past 12 months. ‘Resolute Support’ said in a statement on 30 May that the largest of these strikes occurred on 24 May when four missiles, fired from High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, destroyed a “known Taliban command-and-control node” in Musa Qala during a high-level meeting of Taliban commanders. Among the more than 50 casualties of that strike were “the deputy shadow governor of Helmand, multiple Taliban district governors, intelligence commanders, and key provincial-level leadership from Kandahar, Kunduz, Herat, Farah, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces”, according to the statement. That same day a commander of Taliban special units in Helmand and an associate were killed in a US Air Force (USAF) airstrike while they were transiting in Sangin district, said ‘Resolute Support’, adding that USAF A-10 ground-attack aircraft also targeted a shadow district governor and destroyed a shadow district headquarters in Nahri Saraj the following day. Moreover, a “senior improvised explosive device [IED] facilitator” was killed in an airstrike launched on 26 May from a MQ-1C Gray Eagle medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) unmanned aerial vehicle, according to the statement. The Taliban member had reportedly been responsible for co-ordinating IED operations against Afghan and international forces as well as civilians for the past 13 years. An additional 15 Taliban members were killed in separate strikes conducted around the province during the 10-day period. Janes Ansari

Friday May 25, 2018 Kabul (BNA) Over 37 Taliban fighters were killed and 14 others injured during military operation led by Afghan security forces in central Ghazni province yesterday. Ministry of national defense press office stated BNA, the military operation under the name of “Shaheen One” carried out by support of Afghan air forces to annihilate Taliban militants and ensure peace and stability in different parts of Ghazni province, in which 37 rebels were killed and 14 others were wounded. Three vehicles, 2 motorcycles some weapons and ammunitions have been seized by Afghan security forces during the operation, the source added. T/M.A.Ansari

Friday May 25, 2018 Kabul (BNA) At least 25 armed oppositions were killed and 13 wounded during military operation carried out by Afghan security forces in Urozgan province. Ministry of national defense press office reported BNA, the operation was launched with support of Afghan air forces to suppress anti-government militias and ensure peace and stability in Chora, Khas Urozgan districts and vicinity of Tarinkot city the provincial capital of the province, in which 25 rebels were killed and 13 others were injured. Several villages have been clean-up from being of armed oppositions and the operation continuing in the areas, the source added. T/M.A.Ansari

Friday May 25, 2018 Kabul (BNA) Over 79 armed oppositions were killed and 41 others were wounded during joint military operations led by Afghan security forces within the last 24 hours across the country. Ministry of national defense press office stated BNA, the operations have launched with support of Afghan air and artillery forces to protect the lives and properties of people, ensure peace and stability and annihilate anti-government militias in insecure areas of Nangarhar, Kunar, Laghman, Ghanzi, Kandahar, Ghor, Balkh, Faryab, Samangan, Baghlan and Helmand provinces. T/M.A.Ansari

Friday May 25, 2018 Kabul (BNA) At least 13 supporters of ISIS terrorist group killed during latest attacks carried out by Afghan Special Forces in vicinity of eastern Nangarhar province this morning. The terrorists have been targeted and killed in various parts of Koot, Achin, Heska Mena and Door Baba districts of the province. Senior commander of Afghan National Army in the east of the country told BNA correspondent, air and ground raids carried out by Afghan Special Forces in different parts of the mentioned districts, in which 13 ISIS adherents were killed and their several hideouts along with some military equipment have been destroyed too. According to another report, Afghan security forces by discovering and confiscating four round of different type of mines succeeded to prevent from a series of blast in Nangarhar province. Also during this period, a weapon storage belonging terrorist group have been seized by Afghan security troops in relevant areas of Jalalabad city the provincial capital of the province. Several heavy and light weapons have been seized from the storage. Local officials in the province claimed that ISIS members used the weapon storage in their terrorist and destructive activities. T/M.A.Ansari

Friday May 25, 2018 Kabul (BNA) At least five anti-government militias were killed during joint military operations led by Afghan security forces in eastern Kunar province the other day. Sharin Aqa Faqiri spokesman of 201 Sylab army corps told BNA correspondent, the joint military operations were launched in various parts of Manogi and Dangam districts of Kunar province. Four terrorists were wounded and an ammunition storage belonging the militants seized by Afghan security forces, Faqiri added. T/M.A.Ansari

Friday May 25, 2018 Kabul (BNA) The Afghan Air Force has introduced laser-guided precision munitions to its arsenal. Since the May 22 induction, the number of laser-guided bombs has steadily increased as Afghan forces continue to target the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. “The recent addition of laser-guided bomb strike capability is huge for the Afghan Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Justin Williams, 438th Air Expeditionary Advisor Squadron commander. “Afghanistan did not have it last fighting season, and we are already seeing the crippling psychological effect it is having on the enemies of Afghanistan this season.” Shifting security responsibility to local forces, Williams emphasized all the bombs are being built by Afghans. “The bombs are built by Afghan ammunitions specialists and loaded onto Afghan planes by Afghan maintainers,” he said. “This is one example of how the Afghan Air Force is assuming ownership across the board.” In terms of limiting civilian casualties, laser-guided bombs deployed from the Afghan Air Force’s A-29 Super Tucanos do enable more precise targeting. “The Taliban like to hide in towns and places where civilians are,” said an Afghan Air Force A-29 pilot. “The laser-guided bomb lets me strike those places without hurting the local people.” The A-29 is a turboprop plane designed to operate in austere combat environments and land without needing a paved runway. But are these advanced munitions actually making a difference in a war that has raged for nearly 17 years? According to data from U.S. Air Forces Central Command, the U.S. Air Force dropped more bombs in the first quarter of 2018 than was used in the same time period in 2011, often considered the height of the war. The command also says 1,186 munitions were expended by aircraft in January, February and March of this year. In 2011, during those same months, the military documented 1,083 weapons released. Those weapons releases are from both manned and unmanned aircraft. As of May 11, 2018, Afghan A-29s have supported roughly 30 Afghan ground missions using precision munitions, dropping more than 50 laser-guided bombs on Taliban targets. Despite an approximate 85 percent reduction to U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan since 2011, Army Col. Lisa Garcia, a spokeswoman for U.S. efforts in the country, insists that U.S. advisers “are seeing successes on the battlefield as a result of tactical air coordinators.” Since switching to the laser-guided bomb, nearly 96 percent of strikes have been successful and have led to a 30 percent increase in ground force commanders’ desired effects on the battlefield, according to the U.S. Air Force. Defensenews Ansari
Friday May 25, 2018 Kabul (BNA) About three Afghan national army soldiers were martyred following Taliban attack in northern Faryab province. Hanif Rezayee spokesman of 209 Shaheen army corps in a telephonic contact told BNA reporter, the Afghan national army personnel were martyred during Taliban attack on their checkpoint in Gaharzadeh region, Sharin Tagab district of the province. Six Afghan national army soldiers were injured during the attack, but reinforcement troops dispatched to the area and clashes ongoing between them and Taliban militants, Rezayee added. Meanwhile, eyewitnesses say following Taliban attack two security checkpoints collapsed, 12 Afghan national army personnel were martyred and 4 others captured by Taliban. According to the witnesses, three military tanks and some weapons seized by Taliban militants as well. T/M.A.Ansari
Friday May 25, 2018 Kabul (BNA) Foodstuffs and non-foodstuffs have been distributed to 450 earthquake and floods affected families in northern Takhar province the other day. According to BNA report, the assistances have been provided by rural rehabilitation and development department, counter-disaster office, Red Crescent of Takhar, United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees and Cancern organization. The distribution aids include flour, cooking ghee, bean, tents, health packages, kitchen sites and blankets. The families were affected in relevant areas of Warsaj, Farkhar, Bangi and Namakab districts and Taliqan city the provincial capital of the province. Eng. Sebghatullah Nazari head of rural rehabilitation and development department in Takhar told, the department distributed tents for 80 affected families, those completely lost their residential houses and were living without shelters. It is mentionable that, due to earthquake and flash floods eight people have died, 14 others were injured and 477 residential houses have been destroyed in the mentioned areas of the province. According to another report, 241 floods affected families have received foodstuffs and non-foodstuffs in northern Jawzjan province. Sayera Shakeeb Sadat district governor of Faizabad told BNA, the assistances include flour, pea, blanket, health packages, kitchen site and tent that provided by counter-natural disaster commission and charity organizations stationed in the province. Due to flash floods residents of 9 villages have lost their residential houses and agricultural lands in Faizabad district of Takhar, Sadat added. The affected families asked from central and local government to provide further foodstuffs, non-foodstuffs and shelters for them. T/M.A.Ansari
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