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US to deny visas for ICC members investigating alleged war crimes

US to deny visas for ICC members investigating alleged war crimes

15 Mar 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Washington also threatened economic sanctions if war crimes court goes ahead with inquiry into US troops in AfghanistanThe United States has announced it will revoke or deny visas to members of the International Criminal Court involved in investigating the actions of US troops in Afghanistan or other countries.The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said Washington was prepared to take further steps, including economic sanctions, if the war crimes court goes ahead with any investigations of US or allied personnel. Related: Prosecutor seeks to investigate Afghan war crimes allegations – and claims of US torture Related: ICC will continue 'undeterred' after US threats Continue reading...

Afghan King and Queen visit the UK – archive, 14 march 1928

Afghan King and Queen visit the UK – archive, 14 march 1928

14 Mar 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

14 March 1928: King George and Queen Mary welcome King Amanullah and Queen Souriya of AfghanistanKing Amanullah and Queen Souriya of Afghanistan arrived in England yesterday. They were escorted into Dover by destroyers and aeroplanes, and met by the Prince of Wales. In London King George and Queen Mary were waiting for them, and drove with them to Buckingham Palace through cheering crowds.Later in the day the royal visitors drove to the Cenotaph, where they placed a wreath, and then to Westminster Abbey, where another one was placed on the Unknown Warrior’s grave. In the evening they received addresses of welcome from the London County and Westminster City Councils at St James’s Palace, and at night a state banquet was given in their honour at Buckingham Palace. Related: Afghanistan: the land that forgot time Continue reading...

'We'll  keep fighting': the Afghan women eyeing Paralympic gold | Stefanie Glinski

'We'll keep fighting': the Afghan women eyeing Paralympic gold | Stefanie Glinski

12 Mar 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

For these wheelchair basketball players, prejudice and insecurity are no barrier to competing on the world stageNilofar Bayat played her first game of wheelchair basketball in an open court in the middle of Kabul, surrounded by mainly male onlookers who shouted insults and called her names.She decided to keep playing anyway. Related: 'I want to empower Afghan women': female prosecutor on a lonely mission Continue reading...

Fugitive Taliban leader lived short walk from US base, book reveals

Fugitive Taliban leader lived short walk from US base, book reveals

10 Mar 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Exclusive: account exposes failures of US intelligence, which put $10m bounty on Mullah OmarThe Taliban’s elusive one-eyed leader, Mullah Omar, lived within walking distance of US bases in Afghanistan for years, and American troops once even searched the house where he was hiding but failed to find a secret room built for the late insurgent leader, a new biography claims.The account exposes an embarrassing failure of US intelligence, which had put a $10m (£7.5m) bounty on Omar’s head after the 9/11 attacks in the US. Officials repeatedly suggested that, like the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, he was hiding in Pakistan and died there. Continue reading...

Whistleblower charged with exposing alleged military misconduct 'not afraid to go to jail'

Whistleblower charged with exposing alleged military misconduct 'not afraid to go to jail'

07 Mar 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Former defence lawyer David McBride says he was doing his duty by exposing alleged behaviour of Australian special forces in AfghanistanA former defence lawyer charged for blowing the whistle on alleged misconduct by Australian special forces in Afghanistan says he is not afraid of going to jail and was merely doing his duty to expose illegal government behaviour.David McBride, 55, is facing five charges in the ACT magistrates court for leaking classified material to three senior journalists at the ABC and the then Fairfax Media newspapers. Related: ‘Creeping Stalinism’: secrecy law could imprison whistleblowers and journalists Continue reading...

'Chilling reality': Afghanistan suffers worst floods in seven years

'Chilling reality': Afghanistan suffers worst floods in seven years

06 Mar 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Thousands of homes swept away as rains follow devastating drought, with UN ‘shocked’ by lack of crisis funding support Afghanistan has been hit with the worst flooding in seven years, with 20 dead, thousands of homes swept away and many families, already displaced by drought, forced to leave their homes for the second time.The latest climate shock, which affected eight provinces including Kandahar, came as the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Afghanistan criticised the European Commission for its “wholly insufficient” response to hunger and suffering in a country already in the grip of what analysts describe as the world’s deadliest conflict. Related: Afghanistan bucks global trend with sharp rise in civilian casualties Continue reading...

Talking to the Taliban: what price peace?

04 Mar 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Donald Trump is becoming increasingly impatient about removing all US troops from Afghanistan, 18 years after the invasion that followed September 11. As peace talks continue, Fawzia Koofi, a female Afghan MP, describes being in the room with the Taliban, while the Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison examines the slow progress for women’s rights that could be at risk when international forces leave. Plus: Gary Younge on knife crime Donald Trump has become increasingly impatient to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, a war he sees as having failed and a considers a continuing financial drain. But after more than 17 years of conflict, with at least 38,000 civilians killed and millions more injured or displaced, removing troops is a process fraught with risk.The Afghan MP Fawzia Koofi took part in recent talks with the Taliban in Moscow and, having fought for a female presence around the table, she was insistent that women’s rights were not discarded in the process. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison discusses the slow improvement in women’s rights since the Taliban was ousted from government and how securing these was a key objective for the US. Continue reading...

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Atwood and Roy back call to include women in Afghan peace talks

Atwood and Roy back call to include women in Afghan peace talks

26 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Authors sign letter saying US-Taliban talks exclude broad sections of Afghan societyAfghan women’s voices must be heard in US-Taliban peace talksArundhati Roy and Margaret Atwood are among a group of international writers and activists backing claims that US peace talks with the Taliban are excluding Afghan women’s voices and risk pushing back the rights of women in the country. Related: Afghan women’s voices must be heard in US-Taliban peace talks | Letter Continue reading...

Afghan women’s voices must be heard in US-Taliban peace talks | Letter

Afghan women’s voices must be heard in US-Taliban peace talks | Letter

26 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Letter from more than 600 Afghan women and youths, supported by civil society organisations and public figures including Arundhati Roy, Margaret Atwood and Gloria SteinemOver the last 17 years, we have fought to bring women’s voices and interests into Afghanistan’s political, social and cultural institutions, against a backdrop of ongoing violence. We are civilians, teachers, doctors, activists, students and artists who have collectively and individually created space to advocate both for ourselves and for peace in our country. Many of our leaders have paid with their lives for this progress. We have built on the sacrifices of Malalai Karkar, Hanifa Safi, Najia Sediqi, Safia Amajan, Farkhunda Malikzada and Islam Bibi, and we stand on the shoulders of all the other women who have given their lives in the struggle for the same progress. We, the women of Afghanistan, will not go backwards.The gains made from these hard-won battles are now being threatened by a deal that excludes our interests and voices and ignores the representation we have fought for. It is at this critical moment for the future of our young people, our women and our democracy that we ask for global solidarity, so we can continue to build on our victories. Continue reading...

Afghanistan: UN says record number of civilians killed in 2018

Afghanistan: UN says record number of civilians killed in 2018

25 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Increase in Isis suicide bombings and US-led airstrikes blamed for nearly 4,000 deathsA record number of civilians were killed in Afghanistan last year according to a UN report, which blames an increase in suicide bombings by Islamic State and airstrikes by US-led coalition forces.In its annual report published on Sunday, the UN assistance mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said 3,804 civilians were killed in 2018, the highest toll since it began compiling figures in 2009. Another 7,189 were wounded. Related: 'The Taliban took years of my life': the Afghan women living in the shadow of war Continue reading...

Swedish student fined for plane protest against Afghan’s deportation

Swedish student fined for plane protest against Afghan’s deportation

25 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Elin Ersson received a £250 fine for refusing to take her seat on a plane in Sweden last yearA Swedish student who livestreamed her protest against the deportation of an Afghan asylum seeker last year has been found guilty of violating Sweden’s aviation laws and fined £250.Elin Ersson, 22, avoided a prison sentence at the Gothenburg district court, where she was sentenced to a fine of 3,000 Swedish krona. Related: Swedish plane protester Elin Ersson: ‘I knew I couldn't back down – I had to do what I could' Continue reading...

Angela Merkel criticises US isolationism, urging 'win-win solutions'

Angela Merkel criticises US isolationism, urging 'win-win solutions'

25 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

The German chancellor also defended BMWs, her foreign policy and defence spendingAngela Merkel has turned her fire on America’s “home alone” policies, saying multilateral bodies cannot simply be smashed up, and warned President Trump that Europe must not be excluded from discussions on future nuclear disarmament, Syria or trade.Warning of a collapse of the international order into tiny parts, the German chancellor said: “We cannot just smash it. We need to cooperate”. Related: Angela Merkel posts video on giving up her 2.5m Facebook followers Continue reading...

Afghanistan‘s Generation Z – a photo essay

24 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Afghanistan’s Generation Z has grown up in a 17-year window overshadowed by war and a heavy international presence and now faces an uncertain future and the possibility of stark changeThe start of 2019 has brought for Afghanistan a tantalising hope of peace, as the Taliban sat down for talks first with Americans in Qatar and with senior members of the Afghan elite in Moscow. Donald Trump has told Americans his administration had accelerated talks for a political settlement in Afghanistan and would be able to reduce US troops there as negotiations advance to end America’s longest war.No one knows what form a new government may take or how much control the Taliban might have under any deal, but for young people who were babies when the Taliban were driven from power by a US-led campaign in 2001, the prospect of peace with the hardline Islamists brings a daunting mix of hope and fear.Peace means a lot to me so I can carry on with my artistry but without peace there is no hope for a better futureThere should be access to music for everyone and women’s rights must be protectedWe are thirsty for peace. We want peace so people can run their businesses and live comfortablyI want the Taliban to change their policy and not behave like beforeWe’ve witnessed a lot of conflicts, it’s enough, we don’t want to be witnesses for any more tragedy”Afghan females have had a lot of achievements in sports. I am optimistic that the Taliban will accept these achievementsWe want to see an end to the current conflict. We are hopeful for a lasting peace between the government and the TalibanI’m not very much optimistic about peace in this country. I don’t think the Taliban will make a deal with the governmentWe want peace for the sake of our country’s welfare. We don’t want any more suicide attacks and explosionsWe’re afraid that if the Taliban come then we will not be able to hold our shows. If American troops go, peace will comePeace requires everyone to lay down their arms and think about the education and prosperity in the countryWe will only welcome the Taliban if they accept democracy and its values in the country Continue reading...

Afghanistan’s long road to recovery | Letter

Afghanistan’s long road to recovery | Letter

24 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

We should not walk away from Afghanistan even if it needs another 25 years of outside support, says Simon DigginsSimon Tisdall’s denunciation of the US-led western involvement in Afghanistan as “17 or so years of ultimately pointless, criminal mayhem” (The US ruined Afghanistan. It can’t simply walk away now, Opinion, 8 February) is about as far wide of the mark as it is possible to be, unless you are Donald Trump. Even more curious, Tisdall then enjoins the US, presumably the “criminals” in this enterprise, not to scuttle away.I served in Iraq and Afghanistan and am not naive enough to believe that one was the “good war”, while the other one wasn’t. But Tisdall seems to forget why we intervened in Afghanistan in the first place: to remove a monstrous regime, the Taliban, that had allowed the perpetrators of 9/11 to set up camp in their country and also terrorised its own people. Destroying the Taliban regime was the right thing to do. Continue reading...

To the Mountains by Abdullah Anas and Tam Hussein – review

To the Mountains by Abdullah Anas and Tam Hussein – review

24 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Despite his partiality, Abdullah Anas offers some useful insights into al-Qaida’s rootsWhere should we start if we are to tell the story of the violent Islamist extremism that still threatens us today? The question is an important one and its answer has significance that goes well beyond chronology.Some commentators in the west, usually to the right of the political spectrum, will start in the 7th century AD with the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad or with the first texts of Islam. The implication is obvious: that there is something inherent in the Islamic faith that engenders or at least encourages violence.He makes clear that the CIA had no role in directly training, funding or equipping this tiny force Continue reading...

'The Taliban took years of my life': the Afghan women living in the shadow of war

'The Taliban took years of my life': the Afghan women living in the shadow of war

24 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Many women who lived under the Taliban’s misogynist rule are haunted by memories, especially as peace still feels elusiveHomeira Qaderi was ironing her headscarf for school when her father came to tell her she would no longer need it, because the Taliban had captured her hometown. For the next five years the group’s harsh rules meant she barely left the house.A generation of women have grown up in Afghanistan since the Taliban were toppled from power in 2001. But many of those who have guided the country through profound change, running schools, or as journalists or politicians, are haunted by memories of their brutal, misogynist rule.I'm really concerned that restrictions on women in the 1990s would be brought back Related: The Guardian view on Afghanistan talks: hopes for peace, but at what cost? | Editorial Continue reading...

The US has ruined Afghanistan. It can’t just walk away now | Simon Tisdall

The US has ruined Afghanistan. It can’t just walk away now | Simon Tisdall

24 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

The departure of American troops risks civil war, and many Afghans fear the return of a fundamentalist societyThe approaching US withdrawal from Afghanistan is not an honourable retreat – it’s a capitulation. The best the Americans can hope for in exit talks with the Taliban, due to resume in Doha later this month, is a promise that coalition troops, unlike the British army led by General Elphinstone in 1842, will not depart under fire. After more than 17 years of conflict, with at least 38,000 civilians killed and millions more injured, traumatised or exiled, none of the long-term objectives set out by George W Bush following the 2001 invasion has been met. In short, the US has lost the war, and lost badly.The al-Qaida terrorists who used Afghanistan as a base from which to launch the 9/11 attacks have not been wholly vanquished, as Bush promised. Their former leader, Osama bin Laden, is dead but the group, and likewise Islamic State, made territorial gains in Afghanistan last year, according to UN experts. It is unlikely that Taliban leaders could in future prevent jihadists once again using parts of the country as a terrorist safe haven – a key demand of American negotiators – even if they sincerely wanted to. Related: US framework deal with Taliban raises hope of Afghan peace Related: Trump wants out of America's longest war, but Afghans can't just walk away Continue reading...

Trump wants out of America's longest war, but Afghans can't just walk away

Trump wants out of America's longest war, but Afghans can't just walk away

24 Feb 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Hope is real after landmark Taliban talks, but fears remain about what might happen if US troops departThe start of 2019 has brought for Afghanistan a tantalising hope of peace, fragile but very real, as the Taliban sat down for talks first with Americans in Qatar and this week with senior members of the Afghan elite in Moscow.These discussions come fraught with fears, that the progress for women and civil rights will be traded away too easily, and that the Taliban may renege on any deal once US troops and their coercive power are gone. Related: Taliban say they have no plans to seize whole of Afghanistan by force Related: The Guardian view on Afghanistan talks: hopes for peace, but at what cost? | Editorial Continue reading...