Baztab News

More Afghan interpreters eligible to move to UK under new rules

1 Day The Guardian The Guardian

Government expands scheme for linguists who risked lives for British troopsDozens more Afghan interpreters who risked their lives for British troops will be able to apply to settle in the UK following the government decision to expand a relocation scheme.Former interpreters and servicemen have welcomed the move, which could mean about 100 linguists and their families will be made eligible to apply for resettlement – but say more must be done for the hundreds still at risk of reprisals in Afghanistan. Related: How two men and a WhatsApp group rescued scores of Afghan heroes Continue reading...

US warns Afghan women of increased risk of extremist attack

US warns Afghan women of increased risk of extremist attack

18 Sep 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Message from the US embassy comes during long-postponed direct talks between the government and the TalibanThe United States has warned women in Afghanistan that they are at increased risk of attack by extremist groups.The US embassy in Kabul warned on Thursday that “extremist organisations continue to plan attacks against a variety of targets […], including a heightened risk of attacks targeting female government and civilian workers, including teachers, human rights activists, office workers, and government employees.” Related: Afghan hospital attack: 'I thought my baby had died and I would be next' Continue reading...

Vietnam War leaker Daniel Ellsberg warns against extraditing Assange

Vietnam War leaker Daniel Ellsberg warns against extraditing Assange

16 Sep 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Pentagon Papers whistleblower says Wikileaks founder won’t get a fair trial in the USThe man who leaked the Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War has defended Julian Assange at his London extradition hearing on Wednesday, saying WikiLeaks had acted in the public interest and warned that its founder would not get a fair trial in the United States.Australian-born Assange, 49, is fighting efforts to send him to the United States, where he is charged with conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law over the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011. Related: 'All lies': how the US military covered up gunning down two journalists in Iraq Continue reading...

Trump’s battle with the American military is a fight he’s likely to lose

Trump’s battle with the American military is a fight he’s likely to lose

13 Sep 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

With no concept of honour or sacrifice, the president exploits US forces for his own selfish political ends The row over Donald Trump’s reported denigration of US soldiers killed fighting for their country as “suckers” and “losers” illuminates a bigger truth about his time as commander-in-chief: he has repeatedly disparaged America’s military leadership and exploited its armed forces for selfish political purposes, at home and abroad. His alleged foul-mouthed contempt for the sacrifices and safety of rank-and-file servicemen and women, and the generals who lead them, matches his breach of faith with military allies around the world.Little better illustrates Trump’s reckless attitude than his response to Iran’s missile strike on a US base in Iraq in January. The attack was in retaliation for his provocative assassination of the Iranian general, Qassem Suleimani. Related: Nothing sticks to Donald Trump. But could this be an exception? | Emma Brockes Continue reading...

Afghan peace talks with Taliban begin in Doha with rocky path ahead

12 Sep 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Nineteen years after 9/11, securing a ceasefire, and safeguarding rights of women and minorities are key challengesTalks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents start in Qatar’s capital of Doha on Saturday with the goal of bringing an end to nearly two decades of a conflict that has laid waste to the country and killed tens of thousands of combatants and civilians.It is also the US’s longest overseas military action, vexing three successive US presidents. Related: Afghan government to start peace talks with Taliban Related: Female Afghan peace negotiator wounded in assassination bid Related: Afghanistan releases more Taliban prisoners to pave way for talks Continue reading...

Afghan government to start peace talks with Taliban

10 Sep 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Negotiations to end the long civil war were agreed as part of a withdrawal deal signed by the USThe Afghan government and the Taliban will open peace talks on Saturday, trying to reach a power-sharing deal as American troops leave the country after nearly two decades.The negotiations to try to end the long civil war were agreed as part of a withdrawal deal that the US signed with the Taliban in February, but have stalled for months over details of a promised prisoner exchange. Continue reading...

Conflicts since start of US 'war on terror' have displaced 37m people – report

09 Sep 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Study focuses on post-9/11 wars in which US initiated combat or took part in military operationsConflicts with US military involvement have displaced at least 37 million people since the beginning of the “war on terror” nearly two decades ago, a report has estimated.The invasion of Iraq and the decades of instability that have followed in the country have uprooted at least 9.2 million so far, the costliest of the eight US military operations that were included in the report by Brown University’s Costs of War Project. Continue reading...

From the archives: The fortune-teller of Kabul – podcast

09 Sep 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

We are raiding the Audio Long Reads archives and bringing you some classic pieces from years past, with new introductions from the authors.This week: For centuries mystics have channelled the hopes and fears of Afghans. With the nation in turmoil, their services are as popular as ever. But can they survive the latest crackdown by religious hardliners? Continue reading...

'Many people are still missing': Afghanistan families devastated by flash floods

01 Sep 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Floods, droughts, avalanches and landslides are common in the mountainous, arid terrainKhoja Zada found his son around noon; his body was under layers of rubble and mud. The rain had stopped and the sun was shining again when the 70-year-old dug him out. At midnight, he buried him again.Less than a week after flash floods killed at least 116 people – including Zada’s 35-year-old son – and injured 120 more in Charikar, the capital of Afghanistan’s Parwan province, Zada’s house lies destroyed, each room filled almost to the ceiling with what is now dry mud. Like dozens of others, the family has lost everything and is homeless; caught between tiredness and sadness.I took my Qur’an and started praying. I still don’t know how we survived, but I’m afraid more floods will come. Related: 'Peace where rights aren’t trampled': Afghan women's demands ahead of Taliban talks Continue reading...

Australian police told Ben Roberts-Smith they had witnesses to alleged Afghanistan war crimes, court hears

01 Sep 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Court case into defamation claims against Nine newspapers hears Victoria Cross recipient is being investigated by police over Afghan villager deathThe Australian federal police wrote to the decorated special forces veteran Ben Roberts-Smith to tell him it had information, including eyewitness accounts, implicating him in alleged war crimes, a court has heard.Roberts-Smith is currently suing the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age newspapers for defamation over a series of reports suggesting he committed war crimes in Afghanistan between 2009 and 2012. Related: Ben Roberts-Smith defamation case: newspapers claim they have four new witnesses Related: Ben Roberts-Smith desperate to clear his name in open court, lawyer says Continue reading...

The Guardian view on African success: a step closer to conquering polio | Editorial

30 Aug 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

We are tantalisingly close to eradicating the disease. Things may slip backwards because of science, thugs and exponents of ignorancePolio arrives, if it announces itself at all, as a high temperature. Or a sore throat. Maybe a headache, or an upset stomach. It can go within a week or so, and be mistaken for flu. It is transmitted by poor hygiene, largely affects children under five, and many don’t realise they’ve had it. In 5-10% of cases, however, the virus affects the nerves, paralysing the legs in particular; sometimes it reaches the lungs. For most, this is temporary. For others – 30 years ago, this was 350,000 children a year – paralysis is permanent, and if it is of the lungs, they die. No one who has seen the effects of polio forgets.In the early 20th century epidemics were frequent; in the United States transmission was blamed on everything from cats to blueberries to Italian immigrants. By the early 1950s, the US public ranked it second as its worst fear after nuclear war. When, in 1955, a vaccine was developed, the British held street parties. The numbers of cases dropped immediately. In 1960, Czechoslovakia was first to declare eradication. The last recorded case of naturally occurring polio in the UK was in 1984. Polio was declared gone in the Americas in 1994; in the western Pacific region (including China) in 2000; in Europe in 2002; India and south-east Asia in 2014. Last week, Africa joined their number. Only Pakistan and Afghanistan remain. Continue reading...

Iran reportedly paid bounties to Afghan group for attacks on Americans

Iran reportedly paid bounties to Afghan group for attacks on Americans

17 Aug 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Haqqani network responsible for six attacks, CNN reportsPentagon refrained from retaliation in bid to save peace dealIran is reported to have paid bounties to a Taliban faction for killing US and coalition troops in Afghanistan, leading to six attacks last year including a suicide bombing at the US airbase in Bagram.According to CNN, US intelligence assessed that Iran paid the bounties to the Haqqani network, for the Bagram attack on 11 December, which killed two civilians and injured more than 70 others, including two Americans. Related: Trump views US troops as disposable – the Russian bounty scandal makes that clear | Simon Tisdall Continue reading...

Female Afghan peace negotiator wounded in assassination bid

Female Afghan peace negotiator wounded in assassination bid

16 Aug 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Women’s rights activist Fawzia Koofi, a member of the team negotiating a deal with the Taliban, was shot in the armA female member of Afghanistan’s peace negotiating team has been slightly wounded in an assassination attempt, officials say.Fawzia Koofi, who is also a former parliamentarian, was attacked on Friday afternoon near the capital, Kabul, while returning from a visit to the northern province of Parwan. Related: 'Peace where rights aren’t trampled': Afghan women's demands ahead of Taliban talks Continue reading...

Australia's special forces problem: why the SAS is facing a crisis

15 Aug 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

An inquiry into allegations of war crimes committed by a small number of elite troops in Afghanistan is expected to report imminently. Can the regiments survive the fallout?In the heart of the Australian War Memorial hang twin portraits of Ben Roberts-Smith, the most decorated soldier of his time and now its most controversial former special forces warrior.The first of Michael Zavros’s paintings is modestly sized, dignified in composition. Roberts-Smith, 41, stands in full military uniform, gazing intently, tunic breast filled with medals including his Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest honour. Related: The Australian War Memorial's expansion money would be better spent on traumatised veterans | Paul Daley Related: Australian War Memorial: the remarkable rise and rise of the nation's secular shrine Related: The Anzac skull that tells a shocking and tragic story of battlefield violence | Paul Daley What would appear to have happened is a breakdown in the chain of command Related: This Remembrance Day, don't turn away from the dreadful, unpalatable truth | Paul Daley I would caution those blindly defending the special forces and their high-profile heroes to tread warilyThe Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) provides immediate help and treatment for any mental health condition, whether it relates to service or not. If you or someone you know is finding it hard to cope with life, call Open Arms on 1800 011 046 or DVA on 1800 555 254. Further information can be accessed on the DVA website. A full list of welfare support services is available at: https://afghanistaninquiry.defence.gov.au/welfare-support Continue reading...

Afghanistan releases more Taliban prisoners to pave way for talks

Afghanistan releases more Taliban prisoners to pave way for talks

14 Aug 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Kabul frees around 80 of last group of 400, removing last obstacle to negotiationsAfghan authorities have started to release a final batch of 400 Taliban prisoners, removing the last obstacle to talks between the government in Kabul and the insurgents.Negotiations on a possible end to Afghanistan’s decades of war could begin as early as next week, one source said. The Associated Press also reported that 20 August had been suggested as a possible start date, citing several Afghan leaders. Related: 'Peace where rights aren’t trampled': Afghan women's demands ahead of Taliban talks Continue reading...

'Peace where rights aren’t trampled': Afghan women's demands ahead of Taliban talks

13 Aug 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

With negotiations set to begin, women have been sharing their ‘red lines’ on the progress they refuse to see negotiatedFarahnaz Forotan was three when the Taliban had arrived in Kabul. It was 1996. “I have this memory of a snowy day, I was sitting on my mother’s lap, in a minibus, and she was crying. I didn’t understand why she was crying,” Forotan says. It was the day her family became refugees.“It was the civil war, and we had to leave our home and country to live in Iran – alive, but living in pain and facing discrimination,” she says. Related: Street snacks to sanitiser: the Afghan women fighting coronavirus in Kabul Those involved in the peace talks don't know our concerns about losing everything we have worked for Continue reading...

Polio vaccinations resume in Pakistan and Afghanistan after Covid-19 delays

12 Aug 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Fight to eradicate disease getting ‘back on track’ after surge in cases due to pause in vaccination campaignsPolio vaccination campaigns have resumed in Afghanistan and Pakistan – the last two polio-endemic countries in the world – after a “surge” in cases.The pandemic halted campaigns in both countries in March and confirmed cases have now reached 34 in Afghanistan and 63 in Pakistan – where cases are being recorded in areas of the country previously free of the disease. Related: Pakistan polio fears as Covid-19 causes millions of children to miss vaccinations Continue reading...

Scott Morrison presses Trump for continued detention of ex-Afghan soldier who killed three Australians

10 Aug 2020 The Guardian The Guardian

Hekmatullah’s potential release is the result of a peace agreement between US and Taliban but PM says ‘he should never be released’Scott Morrison says he has pressed Donald Trump for help to prevent the release of an Afghan man who was convicted of murdering three Australian soldiers in Afghanistan.The prime minister said the Australian government would continue to push “as hard as we can” for the continued detention of the former Afghan soldier known as Hekmatullah, after reports he could be released as a result of peace negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Related: Australian federal police ask prosecutors to consider charges against ABC journalist Continue reading...