So, today a bridge was blown up by the Taliban that is on the main supply route to Afghanistan.
The Russians announced a multi-billion dollar aid package for Kyrgystan.
Kyrgyzstan (moments later) announces that the US airbase supporting Afghan operations should be closed post-haste.
Isn’t it just amazing the coincidences???]]>
ARF? Ok, obviously they aren’t directed at the English-speaking world. The Animal Rescue Foundation can get away with it, but…whatever.
The Afghan Revolutionary Front claimed responsibility for a bomb scare in Paris this morning. The sticks of dynamite, no detonator, were found in a restroom in the Paris’s Printemps Haussmann department store along with a note, according to France24.
“Send the message to your president that he must withdraw his troops from our country before the end of February 2009 or else we will take action in your capitalist department stores and this time, without warning,” the letter said.
No one has heard of ARF prior to this event. In fact searches of Altavista and Yahoo return no results. Google, which is slightly faster, links only to news reports of this incident.
France is increasing it’s role in Afghanistan, hosting a conference earlier this week between Afghanistan and its neighbors to discuss some regional security issues.
UPDATE: 7 individuals with ties to ‘known Islamic Extremist groups’ have been arrested. However, France24 is reporting they are not connected to the explosives incident. Guess it was just a ‘usual suspects’ arrest.]]>
For three year a crack German commando team has sat in Afghanistan and stared at the Sun. They’ve been deployed in combat operations ZERO (that’s 0) times and Germany politicians are starting to demand that they return. Fair enough. You’re not going to use them because of the political decision not to actually do anything of value in Afghanistan, you might as well pull them back and hunt neo-Nazi’s in the former East Germany.
But what gets really funny is how the Europeans want to substitute for this ‘non-needed’ special forces–they want to send great big hulking AWACs aircraft. Planes designed to steer combat aircraft into Russian fighters and other hostile air forces are going to be sent to Afghanistan to defend against…the Tabliban Air Force? Ummm…does that make sense?
But wait, it gets better. France say no, there is no Taliban Air Force–don’t send German AWACS, because… we want to send our French AWACs to Afghanistan instead.
As a gesture of goodwill, Steinmeier said he would consider replacing the KSK soldiers with NATO AWACS reconnaissance planes for Afghanistan that are based in Germany and have largely German crews.
NATO’s decision on whether to deploy the planes has been delayed because of a bizarre attempt to block the move by the French. First, Paris claimed the mission would be too expensive. Then they said it made no sense because the Taliban has no air force that the flying radar facilities could be used against. At the same time, however, Paris offered to deploy its own AWACS aircraft.
The New York Times is asking that question today.
When Afghan security forces found an enormous cache of heroin hidden beneath concrete blocks in a tractor-trailer outside Kandahar in 2004, the local Afghan commander quickly impounded the truck and notified his boss.
Before long, the commander, Habibullah Jan, received a telephone call from Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of President Hamid Karzai, asking him to release the vehicle and the drugs, Mr. Jan later told American investigators, according to notes from the debriefing obtained by The New York Times. He said he complied after getting a phone call from an aide to President Karzai directing him to release the truck.
Afghanistan is a mess politically, so it’s entirely possible this is just a smear attack from his opponents. But then again, Afghanistan is also awash in corruption and drugs, and if something like this did touch into Karzai’s inner circle I don’t think anyone would be surprised.
Corruption is killing Afghanistan (as it is killing other countries as well). But unlike say China which has rampant corruption, Afghanistan doesn’t have the economic muscle (or internal security muscle) to keep people in line despite the bribes that have to be paid.
Fighting corruption worldwide is going to be the biggest battle we face in the next 20 years of foreign policy. With China, Russia and much of the developing world along with many large European companies in a sort of de facto alliance of ‘this is how we do business’ the fight against corruption may be one that we may not win.]]>
Russia is upping the ante in their current standoff with NATO by threatening a backup supply route for NATO forces in use in Afghanistan, according to the London Times. The road would allows supplies to avoid the ‘bandit country’ of the Khyber pass where things have gotten a bit hairy:
The need for an alternative route was highlighted by recent attacks on Nato supply convoys, including one that destroyed 36 fuel tankers in a northwestern Pakistani border town in March. Four US helicopter engines worth $13 million (£7 million) went missing on the way from Kabul to Pakistan in April. Last week militants killed ten French soldiers on the same route 30 miles from Kabul.
The Government Printing Office has a new title out that’s actually quite a big seller apparently. ”War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq: A Series of Cases, 2003-2007″ is written by military doctors and covers some incredibly gruesome casualties they’ve experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, both military and civilian victims. The book is being given to a number of hospitals (especially ER rooms who deal with gunshot wounds) and also to doctors arriving in country for the first time:
“The average Joe Surgeon, civilian or military, has never seen this stuff,” Lounsbury said. “Yeah, they’ve seen guys shot in the chest. But the kind of ferocious blast, burn and penetrating trauma that’s part of the modern IED wound is like nothing they’ve seen, even in a New York emergency room. It’s a shocking, heart-stopping, eye-opening kind of thing. And they need to see this on the plane before they get there, because there’s a learning curve to this.”
Amazon is sold out apparently. Unfortunately I suspect a lot of people are going to use this either for their own sick ‘glee’ and curiousity or for some sick political purposes (apparently the photos are pretty rough). The military tried to censor the book from coming out but doctors said it was needed and would save lives, so eventually the DoD relented.