Mudslide survivors in Argu village, Afghanistan. Photograph: Nasir Waqif/EPA
Lailema’s soft wailing filters through the canvas of her tent, a 12-year-old’s hopeless lament for her mother and a life that is gone forever. Her three younger siblings play on the dusty floor as her grandmother cries silently nearby and her uncle wonders how to feed his new dependents.
None of them have eaten since the landslide in the village of Aab Barik – in the north-eastern province of Badakshan – that took away their home and six relatives two days earlier, despite trucks full of food aid parked just a few metres away. No one has distributed the bags of rice, oil and other necessities, they say.
“They promised that they would hand them out after the government officials leave today,” said Khan Baay, the uncle, who was heading out to hear the vice-president, Yunus Qanuni, lead prayers for the dead and promise survivors whatever help they need, backed by a delegation of ministers, members of parliament and European ambassadors.
But many on the ground were less interested in pledges from dignitaries helicoptered in to survey the damage than getting their hands on something edible. “I am so hungry I could scratch your eyes out,” said Bibi Jaahan, a grandmother in her early 60s who lost her home and several relatives to the mud. “I haven’t eaten for over two days.”
Sharing her tent is Zaina, breastfeeding her 11-month-old son but worried that her milk is drying up, as he grumbles then starts crying. She has only scavenged a few biscuits to feed him, and knows he needs more solid food.
The Afghan Red Crescent was quick to hand out tents to those who lost their homes in last Friday’s devastating mudslide, and in the corner of newly motherless Lailema’s cramped new home, barely two metres wide and perhaps three times as long, there are new plates and tea cups but nothing to eat off them.
They were part of their package of “non-food items”, explains Ahmad, an official from the charity who stops by to check on the family. “We started handing out tents on Friday, but other organisations are responsible for food. We cannot provide everything ourselves.”
Around 250 people were feared dead following a landslide in northeastern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. According to local government officials, the incident took place in Argu district and dozens of others have been trapped under the rocks. A local official in Badakhshan province said around around 250 people have been killed following the landslide while 200 houses and dozens of more people were trapped following the rockslide. Provincial police chief, Fazluddin Ayar confirmed that over 250 people were trapped following a landslide in Aab Khoshk village. Mr. Ayar further added that the incident took place around 12:00 pm local time and Afghan secuirty forces and rescue teams have been deployed to the area to assist the local residents. This comes as deputy Afghan interior minister Gen. Ayub Salangi earlier said around 200 houses were affected following the rockslide. Gen. Salangi had said preliminary reports suggest that the casualties due to the rockslide is around 200 people.
A landslide triggered by heavy rains buried a village Friday in northeastern Afghanistan, leaving as many as 2,000 people missing, a top official said. Badakshan province Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said more than 2,000 people were missing after a hill collapsed on the village of Hobo Barik. Adeeb said the landslide buried some 300 homes in the area – about a third of all houses there. The governor said rescue crews were working but didn’t have enough equipment, appealing for shovels. “It’s physically impossible right now,” Adeeb said. “We don’t have enough shovels; we need more machinery.” He said authorities evacuated a nearby village over concerns about further landslides. Faziluddin Hayar, the police chief in Badakshan province, said the landslide happened about 1 p.m. Friday. Badakshan province, nestled in the Hindu Kush and Pamir mountain ranges and bordering China, is one of the most remote in the country. The area has seen few attacks from insurgents following the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.
A landslide triggered by heavy rain buried large sections of a northeastern Afghan village Friday, killing at least 350 people and leaving up to 2,500 missing. Villagers looked on helplessly and the governor appealed for shovels to help dig through the mass of mud that flattened every home in its path. The mountainous area in Badakhshan province has experienced days of heavy rain and flooding, and the side of a cliff collapsed onto the village of Hobo Barik at midday, burying it under up to 60 feet of mud and rocks, officials said. Landslides and avalanches are frequent in Afghanistan, but Friday’s was one of the deadliest. It was one of the worst natural disasters in recent memory in Afghanistan, where spring rainfall and snowmelt make the mountainous northeast susceptible to flash floods and mudslides. U.N. officials said more Afghans had been killed in natural disasters in the past seven days than in all of 2013. Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said up to 2,500 people were missing after the landslide buried some 300 homes, about one-third of all the houses in the area. At least 350 people were confirmed dead, according to Ari Gaitanis, a spokesman from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. He said the U.N. was working with authorities to rescue trapped people.
The governor said rescue crews were working, but didn’t have enough equipment. “It’s physically impossible right now,” Adeeb said. “We don’t have enough shovels; we need more machinery.” The Badakhshan provincial police chief, Maj. Gen. Faziluddin Hayar, said rescue workers had pulled seven survivors and three bodies from the mounds of mud and earth, but held out little hope that more survivors would be found. “Now we can only help the displaced people. Those trapped under the landslide and who have lost lives, it is impossible to do anything for them,” Hayar said. Video footage showed that a large section of the mountain collapsed, sending mud and earth tumbling onto the village below. The landslide was likely caused by heavy rain, said Abdullah Homayun Dehqan, the province’s director for the National Disaster Department. He said the landslide happened about 1 p.m. Friday, a day of worship in Afghanistan when many families would have been at home instead of at work. President Obama said the United States was ready to assist. “I want to say on behalf of the American people that our thoughts are with the people of Afghanistan, who have experienced an awful tragedy,” he said at the White House during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. U.N. humanitarian officials said some areas remained difficult to reach, making the scale of the damage unclear. Officials fear more landslides are possible because of more rain and melting snow. About 700 families living on a hillside near Aab Barik were told to move to higher ground and wait for emergency aid to reach them, Adeeb said.
About 2,250 people are feared dead after a mudslide Friday buried an Afghan village in the far-north-eastern province of Badakhshan, a spokesman for the provincial governor said. More than 300 houses in Ab-e-Barik were swept away in the mudslide, which occurred after heavy rainfall, Naveed Ferotan said. “Our rescue teams have so far found 150 bodies in the area, and they are working hard to save the villagers,” he said. About 2,100 other people are missing and also feared dead, officials said. The mudslide first struck a wedding party, killing 250 people, and then buried nearly all of the village as well as farmland, said Haji Abdul Wadood Saeedi, governor of the Argu district, where Ab-e-Barik is located. About 300 families are missing, he said. The ground is still unstable, and people in nearby villages are scared they could also become victims, Saeedi said. Rescue teams were dispatched to the area and at least 1,500 people have been evacuated from Ab-e-Barik so far, Saeedi said. The United Nations said 700 families lived in Ab-e-Barik and at least 120 houses were destroyed. “Reportedly, 350 people have died and 580 families are at severe risk of further landslides,” said Ari Gaitanis, a UN spokesman in Kabul. “The village is flooded, and a drainage channel must be opened to prevent further destruction,” he said. The national government and United Nations planned their own rescue and aid response.
At least 300 families have been burried under a hill that collapsed in a remote mountain village in northeast Afghanistan on Friday. The confirmed death count at present is 2,100, and is expected to rise in the coming days. “More then 2,100 people from 300 families are all dead,” Naweed Forotan, a spokesman for the Badakhshan provincial governorsaid. The United Nations said the focus was now on the more than 4,000 displaced by Friday’s disaster. There is a risk of further landslides in the area, officials said.
The Afghan government officially named the scene hit by a massive landslide in Badakhshan province as a mass grave and started focusing on helping the survivors on Sunday. “The religious scholars and high level officials has convinced the locals to give up looking for dead bodies,” Haji Abdul Wadoud, governor of Argo district in Badakhshan told Anadolu Agency. “It is almost impossible to search for dead bodies,” he said. “When muslims die, they must be buried, and they are already under a huge hill of mud.” The first Vice President Mohammad Younus Qanooni also visited the area on Sunday along with some cabinet members and religious authorities. “All agreed that it would be named as the mass grave of Abe Barik martyrs,” Abdul Wadoud said. Early Friday afternoon, a massive landslide triggered by heavy rainfall engulfed the village of Abe Barik in northern Badakhshan province of Afghanistan. At least 300 families have been trapped under dirt and mud, whereas only 255 of the dead bodies have been identified so far, but the local authorities estimate that more than 2,100 people are dead. Heavy rains in the last few weeks have also caused flash floods in different parts of the country, taking dozens of lives and damaging hundreds of houses. Turkey’s IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation has delivered humanitarian aid to 350 families hit by Friday’s landslide disaster in Badakhshan province in northeast Afghanistan. “Emergency packages were prepared for 350 families in the first stage of the aid campaign,” Orhan Sefik, Central Asia regional coordinator of the foundation, told Anadolu Agency. He said the packages contained food, rugs, blankets and kitchen utensils, adding that the foundation would continue to provide aid to the area. Earlier, Noor Mohammad Khawari, head of the Badakhshan central hospital told Anadolu Agency that it would be tragic if the locals agreed to the village becoming a mass grave although he said it would require an extraordinary effort driving by a big number of professionals and machinery to find the buried individuals. “Now they are discussing securing the scene from the threat of floods so that members of the victim families can come here to prayer” Khawari added. In a statement released from his office late Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he was deeply saddened after hearing the news of the landslide. The Afghan government has also announced a day of national mourning in the country.
Afghan official says 2,000 missing after landslide
By AMIR SHAH 1 hour ago
Map locates Badakhshan, Afghanistan.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A landslide triggered by heavy rains buried a village Friday in northeastern Afghanistan, leaving as many as 2,000 people missing, a top official said.
Badakhshan province Gov. Shah Waliullah Adeeb said more than 2,000 people were missing after a hill collapsed on the village of Hobo Barik. Adeeb said the landslide buried some 300 homes in the area — about a third of all houses there.
The governor said rescue crews were working but didn’t have enough equipment, appealing for shovels.
“It’s physically impossible right now,” Adeeb said. “We don’t have enough shovels; we need more machinery.”
He said authorities evacuated a nearby village over concerns about further landslides.
At least 58 people have been killed and hundreds of villagers left stranded in devastating flash floods in northern Afghanistan, officials say. The governor of Jowzjan province warned that the number of victims was likely to rise. People have been left trapped on the roofs of their homes and rescue helicopters have been deployed. There are reports of flooding in other provinces in the north and west. “Thousands of homes have been destroyed and thousands are suffering”, Jowzjan’s governor Boymurod Qoyinli said. He said that more than 80 people are missing and that 3,000 homes have been destroyed. BBC Uzbek’s Navid Nazari, reporting from the flood-hit areas, was told by one woman that she was taken by surprise by the flash flood just after reading evening prayers. She lost two of her children. Heavy rain and storms on Thursday night created a perilous situation for villagers whose homes are largely built out of mud. Three remote districts in the province were particularly badly affected, the governor said. Our correspondent travelled on board one of the rescue helicopters deployed by the security forces. He described a landscape where dozens of homes had been destroyed, many more submerged and villagers crouched on the roofs of their homes.
More than 100 people have been killed and thousands left homeless by flash floods in north and west Afghanistan, officials said on Friday, prompting desperate pleas for help from the impoverished provincial authorities. Thousands of homes have been engulfed by flood waters in four provinces after three days of heavy rain in what is traditionally a wet period at the start of spring. In the northern province of Jawzjan, police chief Faqer Mohammad Jawzjani said 55 bodies had been recovered, and that the number of dead would increase over the coming days. “Providing aid or help from the ground is impossible,” he said. “We have carried 1,500 people to safe areas of neighbouring districts by helicopter. We need emergency assistance from the central government and aid agencies.” The governor of neighbouring Faryab province said 33 people had died there and another 80 were missing. “Ten thousand families have been affected and more then 2,000 houses have been destroyed,” Mohammadullah Batazhn said. Another 13 people were killed in the provinces of Badghis and Sar-e Pol, local officials said.
The National Disaster Management Authority said on Saturday that 58 people were killed in Jowzjan province, 32 in Faryab, six in Sar-e-Pul and six others in Badghis. After days of torrential rain, floodwaters swept through villages, engulfing thousands of houses and leaving many people seeking safety on the roofs of their mud-brick houses. Officials in Faryab province said nearly 2000 houses were washed away and more than 8000 cattle were killed. Flooding often occurs during the spring rainy season in northern Afghanistan. Two weeks ago, a landslide triggered by heavy rains and a small earthquake swept through two villages in Takhar, another northern province, killing four people and destroying around 100 houses. Forty people died in August in flash floods in eastern and southeastern provinces and some parts of Kabul.
Flash floods in Northern Afghanistan have killed more than 180 people and displaced thousands after days of torrential rain, officials say. Authorities in one of the country’s hardest hit regions of Jawzjan said, the death toll was expected to rise further. “Rescue helicopters have evacuated some 200 people, but many people are still trapped on roofs of their homes and some are also missing,” Jawzjan provincial police chief Faqir Mohammad Jowzjani said. The head of the disaster relief committee in Jawzjan province, said more than 5,000 people had been displaced and there was shortage of medicine and water, after heavy rain and storms swept through two districts of the region on Thursday night. Mohammadullah Batash, the governor of Faryab, said the death toll in his province, which borders Turkmenistan, was expected to rise. The Afghan government has been scrambling to help survivors and search for stranded villagers by deploying army helicopters to reach affected areas. The floodwaters swept through villages and fields, engulfing thousands of homes and leaving many people seeking safety on the roofs of their mud-brick houses. Flooding often occurs during the spring rainy season in northern Afghanistan, with flimsy mud houses offering little protection against rising water level.
Death toll in northern Afghanistan floods tops 100, officials say
The death toll from flash floods in northern Afghanistan has risen to more than 100 with many others still missing, officials say.
The national disaster management authority said that 58 people were killed in Jowzjan province, 32 in Faryab, six in Sar-e-Pul and six others in Badghis as floods struck a large swath of rural communities.
“Unfortunately, we have over 100 people killed and dozens of others missing due to flash floods in four northern provinces,” said Mohammad Sadeq Sediqqi, from the national disaster management authority.
OCHA, the United Nations humanitarian affairs office, said it had reports from provincial officials of 123 people killed, with Jowzjan province alone suffering 80 deaths and 6,000 displaced people.
It said clean water, medical supplies, food and shelter were needed immediately as relief efforts got under way after days of torrential rain.
The floodwaters swept through villages, engulfing thousands of homes and leaving many people seeking safety on the roofs of their mud-brick houses.
The Afghan defence ministry sent two helicopters to Jowzjan, where the aircraft rescued more than 1,000 people and carried them to higher ground.
What Germany Left Behind:A Feeling of Abandonment in North Afghanistan
By Nicola Abé
Joel van Houdt/ DER SPIEGEL
Six months ago, Germany’s military withdrew from Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Since then, regional security has eroded and many of those left behind feel abandoned. Some say that the departure came too soon.
Captain Faridoon Hakimi is sitting next to an enormous barbecue once used by the Germans to grill sausage, munching on an almond and squinting. There isn’t a cloud in the sky and the midday sun is blazing down onto the former German military camp in Kunduz in northern Afghanistan. Next to him stands a solitary sign in the German language indicating the location of a certain “Büro Baumlade.”
It has been six months since Hakimi’s friends and allies from Germany left the camp. All of the parking slots for helicopters and armored vehicles are empty. The white blimp, which once held cameras aloft in order to monitor the camp’s immediate surroundings, no longer floats in the sky above.”We don’t need reconnaissance,” says Hakimi, 32, the new camp commander who oversees the Afghan National Army troops stationed there. “We have our eyes.” The blimp, he says smiling, was a waste of money anyway. Hakimi wears a carefully trimmed beard — and rubber sandals.
His eyes shift to the horizon where the mountains are slowly turning green, indicating spring’s approach. Hakimi knows that the green also means the Taliban will soon be back.
For 10 years, Germany was responsible for the province of Kunduz as part of its role in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). It was the first real war the Bundeswehr, as Germany’s military is known, participated in, and Berlin’s aims were lofty indeed. German development experts were to help extend rights to women, democracy was to be fostered and the economy was to grow significantly. Billions of euros were made available — and the blood of German soldiers was spilled. Kunduz was a place of great sacrifice.
Until Oct. 6, 2013. On that day, Germany handed over the camp to Afghanistan.
“They ran away,” croaks the deputy police chief for the Kunduz province in his office and gestures dismissively. “They simply ran away. It was too soon.”
“It was too soon. It was like an escape.” One can hear almost exactly the same thing from the mouths of German soldiers, some of whom even compare the Bundeswehr’s departure with that of the Americans from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. “If there is one thing the Bundeswehr is really good at, it’s retreating,” is a sentiment that can often be heard in the government quarter in Berlin these days.
What, though, did the Germans really manage to accomplish in Kunduz and what did the 25 Germans killed in the region die for? What did all the money buy? What remains of the mission? Berlin would rather not provide an answer to these questions: A complete evaluation of the Afghanistan engagement is not on the agenda.
But there are answers to be found in the Kunduz Province itself. The closer one gets to the former German camp, the emptier the roads become. There are no trees to block one’s view of the far-away horizon; occasionally, a burned out car or oil drum lies on the shoulder of the road. The pizza delivery service once patronized by the Germans has closed its doors. A few uniformed soldiers are rolling out barbed wire at the camp’s entrance. “We are here to guard the buildings,” says Said Muyer, 25, of the Afghan police. He says he is essentially in charge, adding that the real commander hardly ever makes an appearance.
The road passes by empty guard houses and torn open sandbags on the way into a ghost town of broad roads, vacant barracks and open ground where helicopters once took off and landed. It seems like a settlement of aliens who stayed for a time but then left after realizing that the planet was inhospitable — despite the fitness studios, bars and the big German barbecue.
Some 2,000 soldiers were once stationed in the camp, but there are few relics of their presence among the ruins: an aluminum can that once contained processed meat, packages of “Exotic” drink mix and a few slices of whole-grain bread.
“They only left garbage behind,” says Muyer, kicking a container of potato goulash. “We don’t eat stuff like that.” He rattles the door leading into the mess hall, inside of which the tables and chairs are neatly stacked. “Everything is locked up,” he says. Muyer says that the refrigerators were already gone by the time he arrived, sold in the town market.
Oshkosh Corp. announced it would lay off 700 hourly positions starting in June and 60 salaried jobs by July in its defense segment.
Most of the salaried positions are temporary employees and people who are retiring. Following the cuts, Oshkosh Defense will have about 1,850 employees. The cuts reflect the reduction in defense spending by the U.S., which is returning to peacetime operations, said John Urias, executive vice president and president of Oshkosh Defense.
“We have gone to great lengths to minimize and delay the impact of the reduced spending on our Defense workforce,” Urias said. “We explored and implemented a range of alternatives from not filling open positions to bringing in outside contracted work as promised in earlier discussions with the UAW, which represents our production employees, as well as continuing to pursue relevant international opportunities.”
Originally Published: April 01, 2014 3:17 PM Modified: April 03, 2014 11:09 AM
Two defense ground vehicle manufacturers with a Michigan footprint have received production awards worth more than $120 million combined, to build several hundred new vehicles or vehicle components by late 2015.
Sterling Heights-based General Dynamics Land Systems reported today it has received a $74.7 million contract from the U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. for “egress upgrade kits” to improve its fleet of Cougar infantry vehicles.
The company’s Force Protection subsidiary, created when GDLS acquired Ladson, S.C.-based Force Protection Inc. in 2011, will develop and produce 916 egress kits for the Cougar by September 2015 under that contract.
‘Not bug splats’: Artists use poster-child in Pakistan drone protest
Published time: April 07, 2014 13:29
Image from notabugsplat.com
A poster of a young child has appeared in north-west Pakistan to raise awareness of the numerous drone attacks the region suffered. Artists who created the image hope military commanders will think twice about shooting after seeing the portrait.
More than 200 children are believed to have died in the heavily-bombed Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa according to the website notabugsplat.com. ‘Bug splat’ is the name given by the military to a person who has been killed by a drone. Viewing the body through a grainy computer image gives the impression that an insect has been crushed.
Now a giant portrait of a young child has been produced to try and raise awareness of civilian casualties in the region. The hope is now the drone operator will see a child’s face on his or her computer screen, rather than just a small white dot and may think twice before attacking indiscriminately.
The child featured in the poster is nameless, but according to the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, who helped to launch the project in collaboration with a number of artists, both parents were lost to a drone attack.
Drone raids in Pakistan started in 2004 under George W. Bush’s administration as part of the US War on Terror. The vast majority of strikes have focused on the Federally Administered Tribal Area’s and the Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa area due to their proximity to Afghanistan, which the country invaded following the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Vets, Docs Worry Fort Hood Shootings Will Deepen PTSD Stigma
By Bill Briggs
The word “PTSD” had barely left the mouth of Fort Hood’s commander late Wednesday when, across the nation, many veterans with those symptoms and doctors who treat the malady understood they faced a renewed battle: a resurgence of the stigma that comes with that diagnosis.
The Fort Hood tragedy –- 16 wounded and four killed, including identified shooter Ivan Lopez, a soldier being evaluated for PTSD –- is precisely the type of event that makes combat veterans cringe. Many worry they’ll be further mislabeled as dangerous time bombs, as the next to snap, and that post-traumatic stress will again be misrepresented and misunderstood as a condition that sparks public, violent outbursts.
“That is not what post-traumatic stress is or what it does,” said Ingrid Herrera-Yee, a clinical psychologist in the Washington, D.C. area who treats veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health issues as well as their family members and civilians. Her husband, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Ian Yee, spent three combat deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Yes, there is anger and irritability (associated with PTSD), but it’s usually internalized. You’re more likely to see it as someone who is withdrawn, anxious and numb, who’s lost interest in life. Some veterans explain it to me this way: ‘The last thing you want is to go out and lash out,” said Herrera-Yee, adding: “Just like any victims of a trauma –- rape or domestic violence -– they can become fearful of their surroundings, but they’re not going to react angrily toward their surroundings. For them, it’s all about avoidance.”
“You’re more likely to see it as someone who is withdrawn, anxious and numb, who’s lost interest in life. Some veterans explain it to me this way: ‘The last thing you want is to go out and lash out.'”
For years, Pentagon brass and branch commanders have urged troops and veterans to seek mental-health help if they feel the need, while repeating the message that, if they do see a doctor, they will not be viewed as weak but as strong. That campaign seems to have finally dented the macho-military mantra that every soldier can handle his or her own business. Many veterans are turning to doctors to begin addressing post-service anxiety issues, often fueled by repeated or long deployments.
In my last column I emphasized that it was important for American citizens to demand to know what the real agendas are behind the wars of choice by the Bush and Obama regimes. These are major long term wars each lasting two to three times as long as World War II.
Matthew J. Nasuti reports in the Kabul Press that it cost US taxpayers $50 million to kill one Taliban soldier. That means it cost $1 billion to kill 20 Taliban fighters. http://kabulpress.org/my/spip.php?article32304 This is a war that can be won only at the cost of the total bankruptcy of the United States.
Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have estimated that the current out-of-pocket and already incurred future costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars is at least $6 trillion.
In other words, it is the cost of these two wars that explain the explosion of the US public debt and the economic and political problems associated with this large debt.
What has America gained in return for $6 trillion and one million injured soldiers, many very severely?
In Iraq there is now an Islamist Shia regime allied with Iran in place of a secular Sunni regime that was an enemy of Iran, one as dictatorial as the other, presiding over war ruins, ongoing violence as high as during the attempted US occupation, and extraordinary birth defects from the toxic substances associated with the US invasion and occupation.
In Afghanistan there is an undefeated and apparently undefeatable Taliban and a revived drug trade that is flooding the Western world with drugs.
The icing on these Bush and Obama “successes” are demands from around the world that Americans and former British PM Tony Blair be held accountable for their war crimes. Certainly, Washington’s reputation has plummeted as a result of these two wars. No governments anywhere are any longer sufficiently gullible as to believe anything that Washington says.
These are huge costs for wars for which we have no explanation.
The Bush/Obama regimes have come up with various cover stories: a “war on terror,”
“we have to kill them over there before they come over here,” “weapons of mass destruction,” revenge for 9/11, Osama bin Laden (who died of his illnesses in December 2001 as was widely reported at the time).
Barack Obama formally ordered the Pentagon on Tuesday to make plans for a full pullout of American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, pointing to a way out of the conflict that is reminiscent of his end to the Iraq campaign.
While the Obama administration reiterated that it would prefer to maintain a residual military presence in Afghanistan, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has refused to sign an accord that would pave the way for some US forces to remain. That has forced the administration to begin a contingency plan for a full departure after Nato formally ends hostilities in November.
A similar rebuke from the Iraqi government prompted all almost all US troops to leave there in 2011.
Obama told Karzai during a Tuesday morning phone call that while he would prefer Karzai or his successor to sign the so-called bilateral security agreement reached with the Afghans in November, “the United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning,” according to a White House description of the call.
But defense secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that it was prudent “to ensure adequate plans are in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014”.
Hagel said that over the next several months, the US military will prepare “various options” for US and Nato leaders, including a full withdrawal of the approximately 37,000 US troops in Afghanistan, as well as the post-2014 missions of counter-terrorism and training for the Afghan security forces it has long desired.
The White House confirmed that Obama’s phone call to Karzai had been triggered in part by an urgent need to give clarity to Nato allies about any future US presence in Afghanistan.
“One of the reasons for the call is because Secretary Hagel will be participating in the Nato defence ministerial later this week and planning for post 2014 forces will be on the agenda,” said spokesman Jay Carney.
However, White House officials played down calls from Congress to cut off aid to Afghanistan if US troops are not allowed to stay, a major fear of politicians in Kabul.
“We have made clear that our commitment to Afghanistan – separate from the troop presence – is in our national security interests,” said Carney when asked about aid.
The White House rejected criticism that Obama had allowed a dangerous lack of communication with Karzai to develop. Prior to today’s call, the two leaders had barely spoken in months.
“It is preposterous to suggest [that Karzai’s refusal to sign the BSA] is because we have not made clear that it is to be signed,” said Carney.
The White House also warned that even if the security agreement was signed imminently, the size of the US commitment may now be in doubt
US president Barack Obama says he will withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, if the Afghan president continues to delay signing a post-war security deal.
The United States has about 33,600 troops in Afghanistan. It is withdrawing the force in line with Mr Obama’s vow to largely end a 12-year mission that began after the attacks in the US on September 11, 2001.
The original plan would see up to 8,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014 for counter-terrorism operations.
Afghan leader Hamid Karzai has agreed to a deal but he refuses to sign a joint security agreement.
Now, Mr Obama has run out of patience, telling Mr Karzai that plans are being drawn up to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan.
If that occurs, US troops will not be there to train Afghan forces or lead operations against Al Qaeda.
However, the US also has the option to keep a small contingent in Afghanistan next year without Mr Karzai’s agreement.
Mr Karzai has already ignored the White House’s earlier demand that the deal be signed within weeks, not months.
Obama gives ultimatum to Karzai
Mr Obama told Mr Karzai in a phone call on Tuesday (US time) that he had ordered the Pentagon to plan an orderly exit of all US troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, the White House said.
The phone call was the first substantial discussion involving the two leaders since June.
“Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014,” the White House said in a statement.
US defence secretary Chuck Hagel will be taking the modified US position to a meeting of NATO defence ministers this week in Brussels.
Afghanistan has been blanketed in snow in recent days.
February 05, 2014
At least 19 people have been killed after heavy snow blanketed parts of Afghanistan and neighboring Central Asian states.
The deputy governor of Afghanistan’s northwestern province of Jowzjan, Abdul Rahman Mahmoudi, said on February 5 that heavy snow fell from January 31 to late on February 4 and it has been blamed for the deaths of 14 local residents, including five children.
In Tashkent, the capital of neighboring Uzbekistan, snow caused a plane to slip off a runway on February 5. No one was hurt in the incident.
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If you have an issue with anything posted here or would prefer we not use it . Please contact me. Any items that are requested to be removed by the copyright owner it will be removed immediately. No threats needed or lawsuit required. If there is a problem and you do not wish your work to be showcased then we will happily find an alternative from the many sources readily available from creators who would find it amenable to having their work presented to the subscribers of this feed.
Thank you for your time and attention, blessings to all :)