NYT | 25/11/2009
President Obama said Tuesday that he was determined to “finish the job” in Afghanistan, and his aides signaled to allies that he would send as many as 25,000 to 30,000 additional American troops there even as they cautioned that the final number remained in flux. The White House said Mr. Obama had completed his consultations with his war council on Monday night and would formally announce his decision in a national address in the next week, probably on Tuesday. At a news conference in the East Room with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India, Mr. Obama suggested that his approach would break from the policies he had inherited from the Bush administration and said that the goals would be to keep Al Qaeda from using the region to launch more attacks against the United States and to bring more stability to Afghanistan.
“After eight years — some of those years in which we did not have, I think, either the resources or the strategy to get the job done — it is my intention to finish the job,” he said. He said that he would outline his Afghanistan strategy after Thanksgiving, adding, “I feel very confident that when the American people hear a clear rationale for what we’re doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals, that they will be supportive.” Though he and his advisers have drawn up benchmarks to measure progress and put pressure on the Afghan government to do its part, Mr. Obama offered no details in his public remarks on Tuesday. He was also silent on precisely what would constitute finishing the job in Afghanistan or how soon he envisioned being able to begin extricating the United States from the war there. Continue reading
NYT | msnbc | Nov.26 | 11:53 p.m. ET
Far from the heartland of the Taliban insurgency in the south, this once peaceful Northern Province was one place American and Afghan officials thought they did not have to worry about. Afghan officials cut the police force here by a third two years ago and again earlier this year. Security was left to a few thousand German peacekeepers. Only one Afghan logistics battalion was stationed here. But over the last two years, the Taliban have steadily staged resurgence in Kunduz, where they now threaten a vital NATO supply line and employ more sophisticated tactics. In November, residents listened to air raids by NATO forces for five consecutive nights, the first heavy fighting since the Taliban were overthrown eight years ago.
The turnabout vividly demonstrates how security has broken down even in unexpected parts of Afghanistan. It also points to the hard choices facing American, NATO and Afghan officials even if President Obama decides to send more soldiers to Afghanistan, as he is expected to announce next week. Even under the most generous deployments now under consideration, relatively few additional troops are expected in the north; most will be directed to the heartland of the Taliban resistance in the south and east.
Failure to remain vigilant
Afghan and international officials say security never had to deteriorate so badly here. The Taliban were a scattered and defeated force in northern Afghanistan, long home to the strongest anti-Taliban resistance, the Northern Alliance. But the government, and American military trainers, failed to remain vigilant to signs of Taliban Continue reading
BBC NEWS 2009/11/26 14:23:27 GMT
Tony Blair’s view on regime change in Iraq “tightened” after a private meeting with President Bush in 2002, the UK’s former US ambassador has said. Sir Christopher Meyer said no officials were at the Bush family ranch talks – but the next day Mr. Blair mentioned regime change for the first time. He also said officials had been left “scrambling” for evidence of WMD while US prepared its troops for an invasion. He was giving evidence to the inquiry into the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Its remit is to look into UK involvement in Iraq between 2001 and 2009, with the first few weeks focusing on policy in the build-up to the 2003 US-led invasion. On the third day of public hearings, Sir Christopher attacked the UK-backed process of weapons inspections in the run-up to the war, saying officials had been forced to scramble for a “smoking gun” while US troops gathered. But most attention focused on when he believed the decision to go to war had become inevitable. Sir Christopher said the UK believed it was “pointless” to resist US plans for regime change in Iraq a full year before the invasion and speculated that the path to war was set at a meeting between the two leaders at President Bush’s Texas ranch in April 2002. Continue reading
ABC News | Wed Nov 25, 2009 | 11:16am AEDT
A long-awaited public inquiry has heard the British Government tried to distance itself from Washington’s talk of overthrowing Saddam Hussein as early as February 2001, two years before the Iraq invasion. Britain’s biggest investigation into the Iraq war has begun hearing evidence in London. The invasion is considered the most controversial foreign and military policy decision in 50 years. One of the first witnesses was Sir Peter Ricketts, a top intelligence official in the years before and during the invasion. He said that in 2001 it was assumed that overthrowing Saddam Hussein was not British policy, despite growing talk in the US about regime change in Iraq.
US priorities after September 11 remained Al Qaeda and Afghanistan. But Sir Peter said it became clear by the end of 2001 that the ‘war on terror’ had moved into a second phase involving Iraq, even though there had been no evidence of a link between Baghdad and the terror attack. Sir William Patey, who was the chief of the Middle East department of the UK’s foreign office, also said he and his colleagues in London and Washington had discussed the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as early as February 2001. “I made a note that on February 22, 2001 … [that] our policy should be to keep a long way from the regime change end of the spectrum,” Sir William told the inquiry. “We were aware of these drum beats from Washington.” Continue reading
BBC NEWS | 2009/11/17 | 00:20:54 GMT
Iran has played down a report by the UN’s nuclear watchdog that found questions remained unanswered about a nuclear facility near the city of Qom. The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran must explain the history and purpose of the recently declared site. But chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh said the report was “repetitive” and Tehran had handed over all information on the facility. Iran denies claims by some Western nations it is developing nuclear arms. A UN team was allowed access to inspect the Qom site last month. In its report, the IAEA said the delayed declaration of the plant raised concerns about other possible secret sites.
Mr. Soltaniyeh told al-Alam TV: “Iran has provided all information about the new facility and the material inside it. “We will later proceed with installing the required equipment. The facility will go online in 2011. He said he was “comfortable” with the report, as it confirmed Iran was “fully co-operating” and that the activities at Qom were “in accordance with the IAEA instructions and limitations.” “Inspectors scoured the facility for two complete days. Everything was compatible with the non-proliferation treaty,” he said. Iran revealed the existence of the Fordo enrichment facility, which is being built about 30km (20 miles) north of Qom, in September. The IAEA report said this did “not contribute to the building of confidence” and “gives rise to questions about whether there were any other nuclear facilities not declared to the agency.” Continue reading
abc news | Sep 21 2009
This is a crucial time. With NATO chief reporting need of more troops to win the ‘Afghan war’ and support for the war back at home plummeting to lowest levels, something that can convince the US people to agree for deployment of more soldiers to Afghanistan. Luckily CIA & FBI are able to foil a terror plot planned for NYC by arresting three suspects. They even arrested an Imam, an informer, who actually helped foiling the alleged plot doubting whether full details are revealed to the agencies. Mysteriously details of plot not yet known and yet it is confirmed that the plot is foiled!?! -nvs
After overnight arrests this weekend in the alleged New York terror plot, FBI agents believe an active terror cell directed by al Qaeda was preparing an attack on New York City, and authorities say they have yet to identify everyone involved. Officials say they do not have specifics on the potential targets of the alleged plot, and with so much still unknown, security in New York has been heightened. Continue reading
Associated Press | ANNE GEARAN | AP National Security Writer
WASHINGTON – The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan has reported to President Barack Obama that without more troops the U.S. risks failure in a war it’s been waging since September 2001. “Resources will not win this war, but under-resourcing could lose it,” Gen. Stanley McChrystal wrote in a five-page Commander’s Summary. His 66-page report, sent to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Aug. 30, is now under review by Obama. “Although considerable effort and sacrifice have resulted in some progress, many indicators suggest the overall effort is deteriorating,” McChrystal said of the war’s progress. Geoff Morrell, a deputy assistant secretary of defense for communications issues, said in a statement the assessment “is a classified, pre-decisional document, intended to provide President Obama and his national security team with the basis for a very important discussion about where we are now in Afghanistan and how best to get to where we want to be.” While asserting that more troops are needed, McChrystal also pointed out an “urgent need” to significantly revise strategy. The U.S. needs to interact better with the Afghan people, McChrystal said, and better organize its efforts with NATO allies. “We run the risk of Continue reading