An ominous week-long standoff between the government and its rogue first vice president is choking traffic and dominating talk in the edgy Afghan capital. Police units have been stationed at strategic points near his fortified compound, and everyone is asking the same question: Are they going to arrest Abdurrashid Dostum?

The United States doesn’t have to lose its longest war … but winning won’t be easy.

Nearly 2,400 American service member have died during the war in Afghanistan. Along with so many of its sons and daughters, taxpayers sacrificed almost a $1 trillion to hold the country since 2001. Not all that cash went to war, of course. The United States spent around $115 billion of it to reconstruct a country the Taliban had ravaged.

Following the transition of power in Washington, Russian observers have identified new opportunities for Russian-American cooperation on Afghanistan. Initially, Russia gave the impression that it had a positive view of the US and NATO mission in Afghanistan. In the first few years, Washington and Moscow actively worked together. But the deterioration of bilateral relations towards the end of the 2000s led to Russia and the West drifting apart on the issue. For example, Washington criticized alleged secret negotiations that Russian diplomats held with representatives of the radical Islamic Taliban in Afghanistan. The Russian Foreign Ministry claims that no such negotiations have ever taken place.

More than 50 percent of private health centres, clinics and medical stores in Khost City, the capital of southeastern Khost province, have been functional without work permits from the municipality.

The Afghanistan war was forgotten during the 2016 presidential campaign although the war is the longest American war in US history. After 16 years including NATO participation, the war is inconclusive - there is no peace and seemingly no end. The war has been between U.S./NATO and the Taliban. Originally the Taliban conquered many towns and provinces without fighting as the townsmen welcomed them because they were disappointed with the mujahidin internal intrigue just the same as the American public who were disappointed with the established political order in Washington during 2016 election that led to the victory of President-Elect Donald Trump.

An Afghan agenda for Trump

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 09:00 Written by

The Hindu

The U.S. President-elect must address Pakistan’s treacherous role in Afghanistan at full tilt

As U.S. President Barack Obama leaves office on January 20, he leaves behind an unfinished conflict, the longest lasting and least successful U.S. war in history: Afghanistan.

Following the downfall of the Taliban regime in 2001, Afghanistan once again became the focal point of international politics. The implications of three decades of war and violence inflicted devastating harm on Afghanistan’s basic infrastructure along with its economic and educational structures.

Faryab religious scholars want kidnappers executed

Wednesday, 18 January 2017 04:32 Written by

 Religious scholars, tribal elders and civil society activists from northwestern Faryab province have praised Afghan forces for capturing six kidnappers and asked government to publicly execute them.

International bickering and bloc building could soon further jeopardize security in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan is being positioned in an outlandish situation as international political maneuvers become more complicated between the United States and Russia. The country could soon be squeezed between blocs built by the two countries, compromising the safety of Afghans.

While the U.S. and Russia have not been full-fledged allies since World War II, their relations have gradually deteriorated after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the Syrian conflict. It has reached an even more critical point after Russia’s alleged interference in U.S. 2016 presidential election, subsequent sanctions on Moscow and ejection of Russian diplomats from Washington by President Barack Obama on December 29.

That scenario poses an ever more complicated ground for Afghanistan, a country still grappling with enduring, protracted violence.

The U.S. has spent about $783 billion—and counting—and lost over 2,300 troops since 2001 in Afghanistan. It has also provided Pakistan, a supposed ally in “War on Terror,” with billions of dollars in military compensation and supplies through the Coalition Support Fund, in a bid to bar Islamabad from supporting terrorist fighters in Afghanistan. That strategy has not been successful as Pakistan continues to harbor Taliban. Ever since the resurgence of Taliban in 2004, Pakistan has been the main funder and backer of Taliban—using it as a proxy tool to gain strategic depth in Afghanistan. Every single negotiation effort by former President Hamid Karzai and current President Ashraf Ghani has failed to deter Pakistan from hostile approach toward Afghanistan. The Pakistani military and officials have repeatedly admitted that they actively support Taliban despite U.S. pressure on them.

The Taliban are responsible for the plight of Afghan and U.S. military. In total, the Afghanistan war bore 104,000 casualties over the course of 15 years. In 2016 alone, Afghan security forces have lost over 15,000 personnel in the war. Also, more than 1,600 Afghan civilians have been killed in 2016.

With President Obama conceding on December 7 that the U.S. cannot defeat Taliban, Moscow saw a window opportunity to cling on by hosting a conference on Afghanistan with China and Pakistan, but that summit excluded Afghanistan. Perhaps Russia feels there is a vacuum that needs to be filled.

After having enough of devilment, U.S. lawmakers have recently moved to pass a bill, labeling Pakistan as a “state sponsor of terrorism.” That has worried Pakistan and is why it has started seeking a new patron in Russia, besides China.

In September, Pakistan hosted a team of Russian troops for a joint military drill. Moscow has also used Pakistan to approach Taliban. By making amends with Taliban, it is perhaps in a mood to seek revenge of its defeat in Afghanistan in 1980s by switching roles. Even though publicly it has been political relations so far, Taliban have reportedly met a few times with Russian officials in Tajikistan and elsewhere and received tactical warring directions.

To add to Afghanistan’s turmoil, Iran too has been lately arming Taliban and funding their insurgent activities for three major reasons: to harass the U.S. mission in Afghanistan; to take advantage of the instability in Afghanistan and conscribe Afghan Shias for its proxy wars in the Middle East; and constrain any developmental projects on rivers flowing to Iran from Afghanistan.

Among his campaign promises and goals, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani envisioned a corruption fight centered on reforming the public procurement system. Efforts began by establishing a central procurement directorate under the Administrative Office of the President (AOP); this entity, later dubbed the National Procurement Authority (NPA), integrated pre-existing pieces of the procurement process. Three main entities were dissolved or merged into the NPA: the Procurement Policy Unit (PPU) of the Ministry of Finance, Afghanistan Reconstruction and Development Services (ARDS) of Ministry of Economy, and the Contract Management Office of the Ministry of Finance.