Baztab News

Met police help Afghans recover looted ancient masterpiece

Met police help Afghans recover looted ancient masterpiece

7 Hour The Guardian The Guardian

Surkh Kotal temple sculpture was discovered on a UK auctioneer’s websiteA sculpture that was stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul almost 30 years ago is to be returned to its country of origin after being seen on a British auctioneer’s website and investigated by the Metropolitan police.Carved in the 2nd century AD from a yellowish limestone, the sculpture of two bulls was excavated in the 1950s in northern Afghanistan only to be looted during the civil war in the early 1990s, following the withdrawal of Soviet troops. Where the bulls have been since then is unknown, but they were spotted by the Art Loss Register (ALR), which has an international database of stolen artworks, on the website of Timeline Auctions, and reported to the police. Continue reading...

Taliban offer to stand down fighters to restart peace talks with US

Taliban offer to stand down fighters to restart peace talks with US

16 Jan 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Proposal for short and partial ceasefire may bring Afghan officials into peace processThe Taliban have offered to stand down their fighters for several days, in an effort to restart peace negotiations with the US that were abruptly called off last year by Donald Trump.The proposal for a seven to 10-day halt in military operations was given to the US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad on Wednesday, AP reported. The US, which has been pushing for a ceasefire to pave the way for new talks, is still evaluating the insurgents’ offer, an American official said. Related: Afghanistan agony is a product of political self-delusion – and public indifference | Simon Tisdall Continue reading...

Midnight Traveler review – refugees' gripping escape from Afghanistan

Midnight Traveler review – refugees' gripping escape from Afghanistan

15 Jan 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Filmed entirely on smartphones, Hassan Fazili’s powerful documentary charts his family’s perilous, gruelling trek to sanctuary in EuropeAt the end of last year, I was complaining that some documentaries are starting to feel meagre and negligible. Well, here’s something to prove me wrong. Life during wartime is the theme of this gripping cine-journal from Afghan film-maker Hassan Fazili. Midnight Traveler is his personal film about the gruelling odyssey undertaken by his family as they fled Afghanistan in 2015, making the brutal overland trek through Tajikistan, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia and Hungary on a mission to seek refuge in the European Union. On the way, they face threats of rape and violence, theft and finally abandonment from their unscrupulous smugglers – and racist attacks in Bulgaria. (Hungary, incidentally, is where their unfinished journey ends, and Fazili leaves it up to the audience to ponder just what kind of a reception refugees can expect in that country.)He avowedly shot this whole feature on smartphones – keeping them charged must have been one of his lesser nightmares – and the US-based film-maker and Persian speaker Emelie Mahdahvian edited, produced and arguably co-created this documentary. The result is an unexpectedly great-looking film, virtually a demo reel for all indie film-makers, certainly considering it was just shot on phones, even bearing in mind the post-production work. Continue reading...

More than 130 dead as avalanches and floods hit Pakistan and Afghanistan

More than 130 dead as avalanches and floods hit Pakistan and Afghanistan

14 Jan 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Pakistani Kashmir hardest hit as winter storms sweep through region, with more forecastAvalanches, flooding and harsh winter weather have killed more than 130 people across Pakistan and Afghanistan and left others stranded by heavy snowfall.At least 93 people died and 76 were injured across Pakistan in recent days – with several still missing – while a further 39 were killed in Afghanistan, officials in both countries said on Tuesday. Related: ‘Many lives have been lost’: five-month internet blackout plunges Kashmir into crisis Related: Cashmere country: the perils of making the world's finest fabric Continue reading...

Two US military service members killed in Afghanistan

Two US military service members killed in Afghanistan

11 Jan 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Roadside bomb explosion seems certain to stall Taliban talksTwo US service members wounded, military saysTwo US service members were killed and two injured when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan, the US military said on Saturday. In keeping with defense department rules, the military did not identify the service members. Continue reading...

Why instinct and ideology tell Trump to get out of the Middle East

Why instinct and ideology tell Trump to get out of the Middle East

11 Jan 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

The Suleimani crisis is unlikely to deflect the president from his long-term goal. What would be the consequences for the region of an American exit?The crisis triggered by Donald Trump’s assassination of General Qassem Suleimani has crystallised Iran’s official thinking around a single, overriding demand: that American military forces should pack up their weapons, close their bases, and leave the Middle East for ever. The odd thing is, Trump seems to agree.Referring to last week’s retaliatory strikes on US targets, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s leader, declared: “Military action like this is not sufficient. What is important is ending the corrupting presence of America.” Hassan Rouhani, the country’s president, said the only answer was to “kick all US forces out of the region”. Continue reading...

Afghanistan's Taliban ruling council ready for ceasefire with US

Afghanistan's Taliban ruling council ready for ceasefire with US

29 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

End to hostilities is a key demand of Washington before any peace deal could be signed The Taliban’s ruling council has agreed to a temporary ceasefire in Afghanistan, providing a window in which a peace agreement with the United States can be signed, officials from the militant group have said. They did not say when it would begin and there was no immediate response from Washington.A ceasefire had been demanded by Washington before any peace agreement could be signed. A peace deal would allow the US to bring home its troops from Afghanistan and end its 18-year military engagement there, America’s longest. Related: Afghanistan papers reveal US public were misled about unwinnable war Continue reading...

2019: the year US foreign policy fell apart

2019: the year US foreign policy fell apart

27 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Donald Trump’s approach to the world is little more than a tangle of personal interests, narcissism and Twitter outburstsThe new decade is about to start under many shadows, but none is more ominous than North Korea’s threat to return to nuclear and long-range missile tests after a two-year lull.Pyongyang’s pendulum swing from enthusiastic summit diplomacy back to name-calling and threats comes as Donald Trump is increasingly focused on his re-election campaign. Related: Trump called for Seoul evacuation at height of North Korea tensions, new book says Related: 'Secure the oil': Trump's Syria strategy leaves Pentagon perplexed Related: Ukraine texts show how Trump has warped the state department Related: Lapse of US-Russia arms treaty will heighten missile threat, says UN Continue reading...

Afghanistan president Ghani on track to win second term

Afghanistan president Ghani on track to win second term

22 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Preliminary results point to slim majority for incumbent in presidential pollAfghanistan’s incumbent president, Ashraf Ghani, won a slim majority of votes in September’s election, according to preliminary results, after a poll that plunged the country into political crisis and was marred by allegations of fraud.The Independent Election Commission (IEC) said the total turnout in the presidential election was more than 1.8 million with Ghani securing 50.64% – enough to win in the first round of voting – beating his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power with Ghani in a unity government. Continue reading...

‘Blood on the ground’ at Croatia’s borders as brutal policing persists

‘Blood on the ground’ at Croatia’s borders as brutal policing persists

22 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

While heavy snow makes life unbearable for migrants, a dangerous nightly ‘game’ has led to alleged assault and injuryPhotography by Alessio MamoIn a room in the intensive therapy unit of a hospital in the port city of Rijeka, Croatia, Farouk fights for his life.The 18-year-old Afghan has life-threatening injuries to his thorax and abdomen. On 16 November, in the woods around Tuhobić, a Croatian police officer shot Farouk – who, with dozens of other migrants, was attempting to cross the border with Slovenia. Related: 'They didn't give a damn': first footage of Croatian police 'brutality' Continue reading...

Judge to rule on ex-Taliban hostage accused of sexually assaulting wife

Judge to rule on ex-Taliban hostage accused of sexually assaulting wife

19 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Justice to rule on 19 charges against Joshua Boyle and weigh credibility of competing testimony from him and Caitlan ColemanA Canadian judge is set to determine the fate of Joshua Boyle, the former hostage who spent five years in Afghanistan with his family and stands accused of sexually assaulting his estranged wife, Caitlan Coleman.The Ontario superior court justice Peter Doody will rule on Thursday on the 19 charges against Boyle, including assault with a weapon and forcible confinement. In doing so, Doody will also weigh the credibility of competing testimony from Coleman and Boyle, who have provided starkly different accounts of their time in Ottawa, where the alleged crimes are said to have occurred. Related: Taliban hostage couple face each other in Canada courtroom Continue reading...

Afghanistan papers detail US dysfunction: 'We did not know what we were doing'

14 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

A key theme of the trove of documents published this week was the lack of coherence in Washington’s approach to Afghanistan from the outsetIn the midst of Barack Obama’s much vaunted military surge against the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2010, Hayam Mohammed, an elder from Panjwai near the Pakistani border confronted an officer from the US 101st airborne who had come into his village.“You walk here during the day,” the elder told the soldier bitterly as the Observer listened. “But at night [the Taliban] come bringing night letters” – threats targeting those collaborating with foreign forces. Related: Afghanistan papers reveal US public were misled about unwinnable war Related: US lies and deception spelled out in Afghanistan papers' shocking detail Continue reading...

Afghanistan agony is a product of political self-delusion – and public indifference | Simon Tisdall

Afghanistan agony is a product of political self-delusion – and public indifference | Simon Tisdall

14 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

The Afghanistan papers revealed the same kind of US official groupthink that prolonged the Vietnam war – but where, over 18 years of bloodshed, is the outrage?It’s coincidental – but fitting – that the so-called Afghanistan papers were published in the week Donald Trump was officially charged with abuse of power. The documents show how, for years, the American public and the world were persistently and deliberately misled by the Bush and Obama administrations over the chaotic conduct and unwinnable nature of the Afghan war.If such behaviour does not amount to abuse of presidential power, if this does not qualify as “high crimes and misdemeanors”, then pray, what does?Inertia also played a role. The sense that nobody is really watching has bred an unhealthy sense of impunity Continue reading...

India passes law denying citizenship to Muslim migrants

India passes law denying citizenship to Muslim migrants

11 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Bill will allow refugees from nearby states to become Indian but not if they are MuslimsIndian lawmakers have approved legislation granting citizenship to migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan – but not if they are Muslim. Critics of the government said the legislation undermines the country’s secular constitution, as protests against the law intensified in some parts of the country.The citizenship amendment bill seeks to grant Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs who fled the three countries before 2015. Related: North-east India gripped by protests over citizenship bill excluding Muslims Continue reading...

The Afghanistan war is more than a $1 trillion mistake. It's a travesty | Ben Armbruster

The Afghanistan war is more than a $1 trillion mistake. It's a travesty | Ben Armbruster

10 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

If we don’t start holding the Washington DC foreign policy establishment to account, they will continue to act with impunityThe American people have known that the war in Afghanistan was a lost cause for quite some time. According to the Pew Research Center, Americans’ views of the war started to go south right around the end of 2011, until eventually a majority started seeing the writing on the wall about two years later.That’s why the Washington Post report this week on the so-called “Afghanistan Papers”, detailing how US officials “deliberately mislead the public” on the war’s progress, is almost sort of unremarkable. If the piece took away any shred of innocence left from this ghastly enterprise, it’s that perhaps some of us thought our leaders, while failing miserably at building a nation thousands of miles away, were at least acting in good faith.Ben Armbruster is the managing editor of ResponsibleStatecraft.org, the news and analysis publishing platform of the Quincy Institute Continue reading...

US lies and deception spelled out in Afghanistan papers' shocking detail

US lies and deception spelled out in Afghanistan papers' shocking detail

09 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

The tranche of documents show that in trying to paint the best pictures, those involved delivered the worstDuring the Vietnam war, the daily US military briefings were known to journalists as the Five O’ Clock Follies, described by one of the AP reporters who attended them as “the longest-playing tragicomedy in south-east Asia’s theatre of the absurd”.The Pentagon Papers, the Department of Defense’s secret history of that war, leaked by Daniel Ellsberg in 1971, only underlined the level of that deception under subsequent US presidents. Related: Afghan papers reveal US public were misled about unwinnable war Continue reading...

Afghan papers reveal US public were misled about unwinnable war

Afghan papers reveal US public were misled about unwinnable war

09 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Interviews with key insiders reveal damning verdict on conflict that cost 2,300 US livesHundreds of confidential interviews with key figures involved in prosecuting the 18-year US war in Afghanistan have revealed that the US public has been consistently misled about an unwinnable conflict.Transcripts of the interviews, published by the Washington Post after a three-year legal battle, were collected for a Lessons Learned project by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar), a federal agency whose main task is eliminating corruption and inefficiency in the US war effort. Continue reading...

Afghan families torn apart by drone strikes – picture essay

06 Dec 2019 The Guardian The Guardian

Photojournalist Stephanie Glinski visited Khagyani, Nangarhar and Pekha village in Achin district and found communities devastated by US drone strikes Not a single family was spared in Javari village. Just behind the brown, mud-brick houses, seven graves decorated with colourful tassels and flowers are testimony to a US drone strike.The pain is raw on people’s faces in this corner of Khogyani district in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province: they lost brothers, fathers, husbands and sons.Basraja, 20 (far left) with her baby Asmah, one of three children. Her husband, 25-year-old Mahmut Ali, was killed in the drone strikeMahmut Ali’s grandfatherBadshah Dullah, 40, in what is left of his house in Khost, Afghanistan. It was hit 15 years ago, and he has been unable to rebuild it Waziri children in a camp near Pakistan’s border in Khost having escaped drone strikes in their native Waziristan. Since 2004, the US has used drones to attack thousands of targets in PakistanMost had just completed their first days of workA patient in a hospital in Lashkargar, Helmand, after houses in Gereshk were hit by a drone strikeJanwaro, 50, whose 37-year-old son Aziz Rahman died in the Javari strike Pekha village in Achin district, Nangarhar province. It has cycled between government, Taliban and Islamic State control in recent years Most of Pekha village has been destroyed in drone strikes, though the village’s school was bombed and attacked by IsisOf course I’m angry.. but what can I change about it? At least I can move outside the house again. I wasn’t able to do this over the last yearsNasirullah Shinwari, 13, from Pekha village, worked in the mountains watching his family’s goats when an airstrike hit three years agoFamilies in Javari village, Khogyani, show the identification documents of those who died Continue reading...