Baztab News

Justin Trudeau lookalike found in Afghan talent show

Justin Trudeau lookalike found in Afghan talent show

14 Jan 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Wedding singer Abdul Salam Maftoon was called the Canadian prime minister’s ‘lost twin’ after appearing on Afghan StarAn Afghan talent show contestant’s striking resemblance to Justin Trudeau has turned him into an unlikely celebrity in the war-torn country.Abdul Salam Maftoon, a wedding singer from a village in the remote and impoverished northeastern province of Badakhshan, had never even heard of his more famous doppelganger until a judge on the popular television music contest Afghan Star pointed out the uncanny likeness. Continue reading...

Afghanistan bucks global trend with sharp rise in civilian casualties

Afghanistan bucks global trend with sharp rise in civilian casualties

11 Jan 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Number of innocent people killed or maimed in Afghan war rises 36% despite overall fall in casualties worldwideCivilian deaths and injuries in Afghanistan from explosive weapons rose by more than a third last year, against a downward trend globally, according to a survey seen by the Guardian.Most of the 4,260 civilians killed or injured in explosions in the country in 2018 – up from 3,119 in 2017 – were victims of suicide attacks, found a report by Action on Armed Violence (AOAV). Related: Civilian deaths in Afghanistan at record high, UN says Continue reading...

Limit prosecutions of army veterans, says top human rights lawyer

Limit prosecutions of army veterans, says top human rights lawyer

08 Jan 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Martyn Day suggests charges against armed forces instead of individuals after abuse claims in Iraq and AfghanistanA statute of limitations could be used to prevent prosecution of military veterans for less serious historical offences, a leading human rights lawyer has suggested.Appearing before the Commons defence select committee, Martyn Day called for independent investigators – rather than the Royal Military Police (RMP) – to look into serious allegations of abuse. Continue reading...

Afghan athletes, who stayed behind after Invictus Games, offered free prosthetic surgery

Afghan athletes, who stayed behind after Invictus Games, offered free prosthetic surgery

03 Jan 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

The six former soldiers have been granted bridging visas and are awaiting the outcome of their refugee claimsSix former soldiers seeking asylum in Australia, who failed to return to Afghanistan after the Invictus Games, have been offered life-changing prosthetic surgery for limbs lost during the long-running war against the Taliban.The group, which includes five former Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and one trainer, are in Australia on bridging visas and awaiting the outcome of their refugee claims. Related: Australian government and G4S hit with multiple lawsuits from Manus Island staff These are guys who fought with Nato, Australia’s ally, to stop the spread of the Taliban Related: Invictus Games 2018 – in pictures Continue reading...

Inside Mother Camp: the woman tackling Afghanistan's drug problem

Inside Mother Camp: the woman tackling Afghanistan's drug problem

02 Jan 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Laila Haidari risks her life to run the country’s only private rehabilitation centre, helping hundreds of addicts a yearLaila Haidari is considered a criminal, despite never committing a crime. The 40-year-old works with drug addicts in Kabul. “The addicts I work with are considered criminal and dangerous and by extension I am considered criminal,” she says.Despite opposition and death threats, eight years ago, Haidari opened the city’s only private drug rehabilitation centre, which so far has helped nearly 4,800 Afghans who would otherwise have ended up on the streets, or worse, dead. Continue reading...

Afghanistan FA president denies allegations of sexual and physical abuse

Afghanistan FA president denies allegations of sexual and physical abuse

31 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

• Keramuudin Karim says allegations are ‘a conspiracy’• Three female national team players have alleged abuseThe Afghanistan Football Federation president, Keramuudin Karim, has denied allegations he sexually and physically abused members of the women’s national team.Three players detailed to the Guardian last week the abuse they say they suffered at the hands of Karim. He and four other senior Afghan FA officials have been barred from leaving the country by the attorney general’s office, which is looking into the claims. Related: Afghan football officials suspended over sexual and physical abuse allegations Related: ‘There was blood everywhere’: the abuse case against the Afghan FA president Continue reading...

Trump ally Graham will ask president to reconsider Syria withdrawal

Trump ally Graham will ask president to reconsider Syria withdrawal

30 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

Senator had warned of ‘the way toward a second 9/11’Former Afghanistan commander calls Trump ‘immoral’A senior Republican senator said on Sunday he would try to persuade Donald Trump to reconsider his order for a total US military pullout from Syria. A retired commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan, meanwhile, criticised reported plans to withdraw thousands of Americans from that country and said the president himself was “immoral”. Related: Trump unmoved on border wall demand as shutdown enters ninth day Related: The halfway point: what have two years of Trump's wrecking ball done to America? Continue reading...

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Profound respect for Amos Oz’s insights | Letters

Profound respect for Amos Oz’s insights | Letters

30 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

Ruth Lewis mourns the Israeli author’s death, and Simon Diggins on lessons from his view of the occupationHeartbroken at the loss of Amos Oz (Obituary, 29 December). Like his Israeli friend David Grossman, he was so much more than the great writer. His chosen name, Oz, gave strength to us lesser mortals and encouraged us to believe that one day Israel would again become a “light among the nations”. Probably more valued abroad than at home, he was not afraid to speak out when his country disappointed him.I am so glad I heard him speak several times at Jewish Book Week. His English was perfect, but he was always generous in his praise of his favoured translator Nicholas de Lange, describing their relationship as a “marriage where each partner knows what the other is about to say”. Continue reading...

From the archive: a glasnost of sorts between American and Soviet war veterans

From the archive: a glasnost of sorts between American and Soviet war veterans

30 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

In 1989, the Observer Magazine witnesses a meeting between US soldiers who fought in Vietnam and Russian vets of Afghanistan attempting to heal the trauma they’ve sufferedThe Observer Magazine’s cover story of 12 February 1989 (‘Russia’s Vietnam: America’s GIs counsel Soviet veterans of Afghanistan’) about a two-week “veteran-to-veteran” tour to Russia is all the more remarkable given that Vietnam and Afghanistan were both proxy wars between the US and the USSR.This example of glasnost, nine months before the fall of the Berlin Wall, was the work of Diana Glasgow of Earthstewards – a “Greenpeace-like organisation” from Seattle. It grew out of the idea that “soldiers of the two similar wars are ready to share experiences and their governments now see no reason to prevent it”. Glasgow had made 26 trips to Russia and built up a firm relationship with Moscow’s Society of Social Invention to organise visas for 19 US veterans and therapists. Continue reading...

The Christmas channel crossings show how cruelly Britain treats refugees  | Ben Smoke

The Christmas channel crossings show how cruelly Britain treats refugees | Ben Smoke

28 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

We have a duty to help desperate migrants, not vilify them. A fairer system must be put in place, and quick• Ben Smoke is a journalist and a Stansted 15 activistOn Christmas Day 2015, Abdullah Kurdi delivered Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message. He was sat in his home, choking back tears and looking directly down the lens of the camera, pleading with the people of Britain to show humanity.“At this time of year, I would ask you all to think about the pain of fathers, mothers and children who are seeking peace and security. We ask just for a little sympathy from you. I wish you a very happy new year, hopefully next year the war in Syria will be over and peace will reign across the Earth.”That some of those who reached Britain on Christmas day are Iraqi and Afghani is no accident Related: Asylum seekers need the right to work – and this time of year shows why | John Sentamu Continue reading...

‘There was blood everywhere’: the abuse case against the Afghan FA president

‘There was blood everywhere’: the abuse case against the Afghan FA president

27 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

• Afghanistan women’s players allege sexual and physical abuse• Keramuudin Karim threatened to kill me, claims playerAfghanistan women’s national team players have made detailed allegations to the Guardian of sexual and physical abuse they say they suffered at the hands of the president of the football federation, Keramuudin Karim. Related: Afghan FA abuse claims: president demands ‘thorough investigation’ Continue reading...

Kabul gun and suicide attack kills 43 in one of year's deadliest assaults

Kabul gun and suicide attack kills 43 in one of year's deadliest assaults

25 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

Gunmen storm government compound as workers run for their lives to escape attack blamed on TalibanAn hours-long gun and suicide attack on a Kabul government compound killed at least 43 people, the health ministry said on Tuesday, making it one of the deadliest assaults on the Afghan capital this year.No militant group has claimed responsibility for the raid, which caps a bloody year for Afghanistan as long-suffering civilians and security forces were slaughtered in record numbers. Related: Trump plans to pull thousands of troops out of Afghanistan – report Continue reading...

Trump’s Syria move pleases dictators and hands initiative to Isis

Trump’s Syria move pleases dictators and hands initiative to Isis

22 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

The president’s surprise decision to withdraw US troops from Syria and Afghanistan has weakened allies and given a fillip to jihadistsDonald Trump’s sudden decision to pull US troops out of Syria, and slash the numbers deployed in Afghanistan, came as a nasty shock to Britain, regional allies such as Israel, and to many in his own administration and Republican party. Although he had threatened such action in the past, his wiser, more experienced advisers had succeeded in restraining him – until last week, when the president finally got away from the White House “grown-ups” and went rogue.Trump’s move proved the final straw for James Mattis, the defence secretary and last of the old guard, whose relationship with the president was already strained. In his resignation letter, Mattis did not specifically mention Syria and Afghanistan but he warned that Trump was placing US security at risk by letting down and denigrating America’s friends and allies. Related: Donald Trump's Syria withdrawal could reverberate for years Continue reading...

The Guardian view on James Mattis’s resignation: a bad day for America | Editorial

The Guardian view on James Mattis’s resignation: a bad day for America | Editorial

21 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

The US defence secretary was a voice of reason in the White House, which is left to pursue a self-defeating policy that benefits the nation’s foes while abandoning its friendsThe decision of James Mattis to leave the post of US secretary of defence underscores a dismal truth about Donald Trump: that he governs just as he ran for office – as a producer of outrage rather than as a formulator of policy. Widely respected as a soldier and a diplomat, Mr Mattis had conveyed a sense of competence and good judgment in a White House plainly lacking in both. In deciding to leave, the four-star Marine general has created headlines and a sense of chaos. Unfortunately such a situation suits the volatile president. Mr Trump’s administration, like his campaign, specialises in manufacturing daily spectacles which scandalise, distract and, most importantly, polarise. The purpose is to summon the emotions of both supporters and detractors, and confirm their prejudices. The spectacle is designed to reinforce convictions about Mr Trump’s friends and enemies; it is not about policy.Hence the president’s order to withdraw all 2,000 US troops from Syria within a month, and thousands from Afghanistan, has no rationale. It is not because Islamic State has been defeated in the Middle East. Nor is it because the job is finished in central Asia. Far from it. However, the move precipitates a crisis both at home and abroad. The United States is now prepared to abandon friends without warning. If the US does remove its troops from Syria, it will leave its allies – the Kurds – at the mercy of Turkish and Syrian forces, and embolden Russia and Iran, which have chafed at US power in the region. There may well be a dramatic shift in the balance of power in Syria, which has been mired in war for almost eight years. Similarly, Kabul’s authority rests in part on western troops. Mr Mattis rightly thought an American presence was necessary to overcome terrorists in both countries and provide the required clout to negotiate a lasting peace. Mr Trump’s foreign policy, by contrast, is a version of “hit and run” – attack enemies with overwhelming force and rush home, leaving others to clean up the mess. Continue reading...

James Mattis helped keep Trump in check. The world will miss him | Peter Beaumont

James Mattis helped keep Trump in check. The world will miss him | Peter Beaumont

21 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

The decision to pull out of Syria has dismayed allies, delighted foes – and proved the final straw for the US secretary of defenceIn mid-October General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, issued a discreet warning about the continuing threat from Islamic State.While he noted that the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate had shrunk to almost nothing in terms of territory, he pointed to the hundred foreign fighters a month still crossing Turkey’s border into Iraq and Syria that suggested a continuing level of resilience. Related: Trump is right to withdraw US troops from Syria | Trevor Timm Related: Defense secretary James Mattis resigns and points to differences with Trump Continue reading...

Europe responds with alarm to US defence secretary's resignation

Europe responds with alarm to US defence secretary's resignation

21 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

European ministers fearful over withdrawal of US troops from Syria and AfghanistanEurope responded with a mixture of panic, disorientation and frantic steps to limit the damage after the resignation of US defence secretary, James Mattis.Mattis’s decision to quit the administration came after Donald Trump confirmed he was ending all US military operations in Syria. He is also reportedly planning to halve the US troop presence in Afghanistan. Continue reading...

Trump plans to pull thousands of troops out of Afghanistan – report

Trump plans to pull thousands of troops out of Afghanistan – report

21 Dec 2018 The Guardian The Guardian

Military withdrawal would pave way toward ‘a second 9/11’, warns Trump ally Lindsey GrahamDonald Trump is planning to withdraw more than 5,000 of the 14,000 US troops in Afghanistan, a US official and US media have said, in the latest sign Trump’s patience with America’s longest war is wearing thin.On Wednesday, Trump rebuffed top advisers and decided to pull all US troops out of Syria, a decision that was swiftly followed by the abrupt resignation of US defence secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday over significant policy differences with the president. Related: Defense secretary resigns: Mattis points to differences with Trump on allies Related: Donald Trump's Syria withdrawal could reverberate for years Continue reading...