Taliban Making Military Gains in Afghanistan
By AZAM AHMED, The New York Times
JULY 26, 2014
Taliban fighters are scoring early gains in several strategic areas near the capital this summer, inflicting heavy casualties and casting new doubt on the ability of Afghan forces to contain the insurgency as the United States moves to complete its withdrawal of combat troops, according to Afghan officials and local elders.
Their advance has gone unreported because most American forces have left the field and officials in Kabul have largely refused to talk about it. The Afghan ministries have not released casualty statistics since an alarming rise in army and police deaths last year.
Interviews with local officials and residents in several strategic areas around the country suggest that, given the success of their attacks, the Taliban are growing bolder just two months into the fighting season, at great cost to Afghan military and police forces.
In Kapisa, a verdant province just north of Kabul that includes a vital highway to northern Afghanistan, insurgents are openly challenging and even driving away the security forces in several districts. Security forces in Tagab District take fire daily from the Taliban, who control everything but the district center. Insurgents in Alasay District, northeast of Kabul, recently laid siege to an entire valley for more than a week, forcing hundreds of residents and 45 police officers to flee. At least some of the local police in a neighboring district have cut deals with the Taliban to save themselves.
In the past month, a once-safe district beside the major city of Jalalabad, east of Kabul, has fallen under Taliban control, and a district along a crucial highway nearby is under constant threat from the Taliban. South of Kabul, police forces in significant parts of Logar and Wardak provinces have been under frequent attack, to deadly effect.
But there are only anecdotal reports to help gauge just how deadly the offensive has been. The Afghan defense and interior ministries stopped releasing casualty data after a shocking surge of military and police deaths in 2013 began raising questions about the country’s ability to sustain the losses. By September, with more than 100 soldiers and police officers dying every week, even the commander of the International Security Assistance Force suggested the losses could not be sustained.
Kandahar suicide attack kills cousin of Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai
Tuesday 29 July 2014 04.20 EDT
A cousin and close ally of the outgoing Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has been killed in a suicide attack in the volatile southern city of Kandahar on Tuesday, officials said, raising tensions during a struggle over the contested election result.
Hashmat Karzai was a campaign manager in Kandahar for Ashraf Ghani, one of the two presidential candidates involved in a bitter dispute over fraud that threatens to pitch the country into worsening instability.
Hashmat Karzai, who famously owned a pet lion, was killed by a man with explosives hidden inside his turban when visitors arrived to celebrate Eid, the holiday marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Maybe it has something to do with this-
How Missing American Guns Might Be Fueling Terrorists In Afghanistan
by Will Freeman, Think Progress
Posted on July 28, 2014 at 11:00 am
On Monday, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), charged with ensuring efficiency and preventing fraud, reported that it discovered a significant lack of accountability on both the part of the U.S. and Afghanistan’s military, the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), in tracking the hundreds of thousands of weapons the U.S has sold to Afghanistan since 2004. According to the report, the Pentagon set up two inventory systems to track the weapons in 2010, but incompatibilities between the programs led to “missing serial numbers, inaccurate shipping and receiving dates, and duplicate records,” that produced a logistical nightmare and caused some weapons to go missing even before they were shipped abroad.
The situation only gets worse inside Afghanistan. The report states that ANSF officials rarely take inventory of all the weapons they receive, and often by the time they do, many have already gone missing. As if poor record-keeping wasn’t enough, the real danger comes from the army’s inability to properly dispose of weapons, thousands of which have been piling up in excess as the ANSF attempts to scale down its huge supplies. Afghanistan’s military received 83,000 more AK-47s than needed in 2013 alone. Overwhelming numbers of extra weapons aren’t just a waste of money; they also threaten to trade hands and bolster the anti-government insurgents the U.S. and ANSF have been battling for years.
While the U.S. supplies huge amounts of military aid across the globe, it has been less keen on developing nonproliferation programs with other U.N. member states to stop the illicit trade in small arms. In 2001, the U.S. and a small group of states including China, Cuba, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and Russia voted to block the creation of a more comprehensive system for monitoring weapons proliferation. They argued that existing standards set up under international law were doing enough to check the illegal flow of weapons. But a look at the growing power of insurgencies over the past several years suggests otherwise. Infamous terrorist groups like ISIS have stunned the world by overpowering well equipped armies, often using illegally smuggled or captured weapons.
Ultimately, ensuring accountability over future arms sales may do more to counter terrorism around the globe than dumping huge shipments of weapons on foreign armies incapable of tracking them.