The US reduces to 5,000 its military in Iraq and Afghanistan

The United States Government confirmed this Friday a reduction in the number of military personnel deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq to 2,500 in each country, the lowest level since the start of operations, in line with the commitment of the outgoing president of the country, Donald Trump, to withdraw the soldiers in these countries.

Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller has highlighted in a statement that “the United States has reduced its level of forces” in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,500, “as ordered by Trump” and announced himself on November 17, 2020 , in separate statements on the military situation in these countries.

In the first of them, regarding Afghanistan, Miller said that “the United States is closer than ever to ending almost two decades of war” and applauded the process of peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, which began as a result of the historic peace agreement signed on February 29 between Washington and the insurgents.

Thus, he has said that he hopes that this process “will achieve a political agreement and a permanent and exhaustive ceasefire”, while he has defended that the current level of deployment allows “to keep the United States, its people and its interests safe.” “Working together with our allies and partners in NATO, the United States will continue to carry out both our counterterrorism mission and that of training, advising and assisting in support of the Afghan security forces working to guarantee peace in the country,” he said. .

Miller has argued that “the continued fulfillment of these two complementary missions seeks to ensure that Afghanistan is never again used as a hiding place for those who seek to cause harm to the United States.” “This reduction of forces is an indication of the continued support of the United States to the Afghan peace process and our respect for the commitments made in the agreement with the Taliban and in the joint Afghan-American declaration,” he said.

Along these lines, he reiterated that “the Department continues with the planning of a future reduction of the level of troops to zero before May 2021”, although it has influenced that this withdrawal “continues to be based on conditions.” “All parties must demonstrate their commitment to advance the peace process,” he explained.

Miller has also argued that the North American country “will continue to carry out whatever action is necessary to protect the country, its citizens and the interests” of the United States.

Violation of the agreement

The Taliban have accused on several occasions of violating the agreement by carrying out bombardments against their positions, although Washington has defended that it is in line with its commitments to defend Afghan forces against insurgent attacks.

The agreement signed by Washington and the insurgent group contemplated the withdrawal of 8,600 US military personnel within 135 days of the signing and the total withdrawal of troops within 14 months. The number of American soldiers in the country was already reduced to 8,600 in July 2020.

Following reports of the reduction of troops by Washington, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned the United States of the “high cost” of leaving Afghanistan too soon or in an uncoordinated manner.

Also in Irák

On the other hand, Miller has confirmed that the withdrawal in Iraq has caused that the number of soldiers present in the country is also reduced to 2,500 and has argued that “it is a reflection of the increase in the capabilities of the Iraqi security forces.” “We have long anticipated that the level of forces needed to support Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State would be reduced while the Iraqi capacity to manage the threat from the Islamic State,” he said. “Our ability to reduce strength levels is proof of real progress,” he added.

In this way, he has outlined that “this reduction in forces is consistent with the transition from operation ‘Inherent Resolution’ from large combat operations and does not amount to a change in United States policy” in the Asian country. . “US and coalition forces remain in Iraq to ensure the lasting defeat of Islamic State,” he said, before saying that “the governments of Iraq and the United States agree that the Islamic State remains a threat and that the presence of the United States and the coalition remains vital.

“We will continue to have an anti-terror platform in Iraq to support forces associated with air power and intelligence. Most of the operations in Iraq were already being carried out by our Iraqi partners, with the support of US forces and the coalition, “he revealed.

Thus, Miller has argued that the United States “can continue to provide this support to Iraqi partners with the reduced level of troops” and has stated that “the Iraqi people deserve a safe, stable, prosperous Iraq and capable of defending itself from the violent extremist groups and those seeking to undermine Iraqi security. “We are committed to supporting our Iraqi partners in their efforts to achieve these goals,” he added.

Iraqi authorities stressed in November that they will maintain cooperation with the international coalition against the Islamic State after Miller’s aforementioned announcement about the withdrawal of part of his contingent in the country.

In this sense, the spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, Tahsín al Jafaji, pointed out that the international coalition confirmed to Baghdad that it will fulfill its commitments in the fight against the jihadist group and stressed that the withdrawal of part of the Iraqi troops is part of a ‘road map’ prepared by Iraq and the coalition itself.

Al Jafaji also recalled that the United States Army and the coalition had evacuated several military bases in the previous months that were handed over to the Iraqi security forces, which in his opinion shows a sign of confidence in the capabilities of the Iraqi forces. .

The Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution in January 2020 demanding the withdrawal of US troops from the country following the bombing carried out by Washington at the Baghdad airport, which resulted in the death of the head of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guard of Iraq. Iran, Qasem Soleimani, and the ‘number two’ of the Popular Mobilization Forces (FMP), Abu Mahdi al Muhandis.

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Actionism in Washington (Junge Welt newspaper)

Has big plans: The new US President Biden speaks in the White House about his corona strategy (Washington, January 21, 2021)

The process in the US Senate, which could bring ex-President Donald Trump a lifelong suspension of office at the federal level, is to be negotiated in the second week of February. The Democrats want to hold Trump accountable for his supporters’ attack on the US Capitol on January 6, in which five people were killed. First of all, the House of Representatives’ indictment with the charge of “inciting a riot” is to be read out in the Senate this Monday evening (local time).

The later inclusion is intended to prevent the process from delaying important initial initiatives by the new President Joseph Biden, such as the new stimulus package with a volume of 1.9 trillion US dollars. In addition, Biden depends on the approval of the Senate for the confirmation of his cabinet members. On Friday, Lloyd Austin was confirmed as the first Minister for Defense.

Meanwhile, the new US president is further positioning himself on foreign policy. On Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on China to end its “military, diplomatic and economic pressure on Taiwan.” The US would stand firmly by Taiwan, which China regards as a breakaway province, and would continue to help the Taipei leadership have adequate self-defense skills.

Washington’s move to review the agreement with the radical Islamic Taliban in Afghanistan has meanwhile been welcomed by government officials in Kabul. The transition minister for peace, Abdullah Chendschani, said in a video on Saturday that this must lead to an “immediate end to violence” and a “lasting peace”. Washington had previously announced that it would examine whether the Taliban had cut ties with terrorist groups, reduced violence in Afghanistan and entered into serious peace negotiations with the Afghan government.

Biden assured the Mexican president that he would support the Central American states of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador with four billion US dollars, as Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Saturday. This is to prevent tens of thousands of people from fleeing north. (dpa / AFP / jW)

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Afghanistan, so the Taliban train child soldiers

Afghanistan, the Taliban rearm the children


In Afghanistan, the Taliban propaganda war in recent months gives no respite. Children from rural and remote areas of Southeast Afghanistan are increasingly being targeted. In the last year, Islamic fundamentalists have been in full control of the provinces on the border with Pakistan: despite the Doha agreement, the attacks do not seem to suffer, on the contrary, they have increased exponentially. And with them, the recruitment of “child soldiers” is growing rapidly, increasingly useful in finding the Afghan security forces without excessive controls.

In this video the Taliban are in a village in the Kunar province located in the south-eastern part of Afghanistan on the border with Pakistan. They encourage children to use weapons. Their words in the Pashto language are unmistakable. “These are the soldiers of God and they will sacrifice themselves for the love of God, they will drive the infidels out of Afghanistan. Children at this age are ready for sacrifice in the name of Allah, the Afghan people are with the Taliban, both women and the elderly and especially children will help the Taliban. With their support we will defeat the infidels. Allah will accept their sacrifice ”. The children respond with great fervor. “Allahu Akbar. Long live the Taliban and death to the Afghan government and local militias ”.

Taliban forces in Afghanistan have added dozens of children to their ranks in recent years in violation of the international ban on the use of child soldiers, and have used Islamic religious schools to train children from a young age. They often begin studying religious subjects at the age of six and learn military skills around age 13. Usually, these guys don’t get taken strongly. The Taliban madrasahs attract many poor families because the Taliban cover their expenses and provide food and clothing for the children. In some cases they also offer money.

International humanitarian law prohibits the recruitment and conscription of children under the age of fifteen into armed forces or groups or using them to actively participate in hostilities. It is a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which Afghanistan belongs. Those who commit, order, assist or have command responsibility for war crimes are subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court or national courts.

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Wounded Dutch soldier from Afghanistan landed at Eindhoven Air Base | NOW

The Dutch soldier of the Royal Netherlands Army who was wounded in the arm during a shooting exercise in Afghanistan on Saturday is back in the Netherlands. He arrived at Eindhoven Air Base in the night from Monday to Tuesday, a Defense spokesperson confirms on Tuesday in conversation with NU.nl.

The soldier has had surgery on his arm in Afghanistan and his condition is stable. He was brought back to the Netherlands because, according to the spokesman in Afghanistan, the specialist care that the military needs is lacking. This involved a medical flight. The soldier has now been able to speak with his family.

The man was injured during a target practice at Camp Marmal in Northern Afghanistan. It is not yet entirely clear what exactly happened. According to it AD he was hit by a bullet from a colleague. When asked, the Defense spokesperson can neither confirm nor disprove this to NU.nl. The military police at the camp is investigating the incident.

The army soldier was part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission. For that mission, approximately 150 Dutch soldiers are stationed in Mazar-i-Sharif, a city in the north of Afghanistan near the border with Uzbekistan.

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The Afghan Army kills seven “Taliban” who were preparing a car bomb

Afghan Army servicemen deployed in formation at an Afghan barracks

Afghan Army servicemen deployed in formation at an Afghan barracks
EP

The Afghan Defense Ministry has reported this Thursday that at least seven suspected Taliban were killed on Wednesday by the security forces when were preparing to commit a car bomb attack in Faryab province, in the north of the country.

“The Afghan National Army has prevented a car bombing in the Qaisar district, Faryab province. Seven suicide bombers who were in a car loaded with explosives died as a result of the operation, “the Ministry of Defense has detailed in its official Twitter account.

The Defense portfolio has also reported the release of thirteen civilians and one policeman, who were being held by the Taliban in the Washir district, located in Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan, a region in which a week ago at least 50 insurgents, including a senior rebel commander, were killed during an operation military.

A day earlier, the Army, according to the Defense portfolio, killed another 19 alleged Taliban and another five were injured as a result of a confrontation with the Afghan military in the district of Gizab, in the central province of Uruzgan.

Since the February agreement, the country has once again plunged into a spiral of violence, with the resumption of Taliban attacks on Afghan security forces and civilians, while insurgents accuse the Afghan Army of continuing to attack their positions.

Despite the peace agreement signed with the United States and talks with the Afghan government, the Taliban have continued their campaign of attacks against government forces and have refused to accept a ceasefire to facilitate the peace process.

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Cold, hunger, bombs (daily newspaper Junge Welt)

Children in particular suffer: a refugee boy in front of his accommodation in Kabul on November 23, 2020

The Federal Republic is not losing any time in the new year 2021: On Wednesday morning, another plane with 26 deported Afghans landed in Kabul, like dpa reported. This is the 35th collective deportation since 2016. Almost 1,000 men have been returned to Afghanistan in this way so far.

Those responsible in Berlin will be aware of the catastrophic situation in the country – where the Islamist Taliban control as many areas as they have not since the start of the US attack in 2001. So it can be explained that a spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of the Interior loudly dpa stressed that 25 of the men deported on Wednesday had been convicted of criminal offenses. According to the Federal Government, they have forfeited their right not to have to live in a country suffering from war.

Because the reports of skirmishes and attacks by jihadists in Afghanistan do not stop. For example, thousands of families are currently on the run because of the ongoing fighting in Kandahar Province, a Taliban stronghold. As the local authorities announced last Thursday, 35,000 people had fled to the provincial capital. Another 10,000 families sought protection elsewhere. In the city of Kandahar, provisional camps have been set up for the refugees, as the head of the agency for the displaced persons of the news agency said AFP explained that food is only available for about 2,000 families.

The onset of winter in Afghanistan also made no impression on those responsible in Berlin. The children in the country in particular suffer from this. The London-based aid organization Save the Children announced at the end of December that more than 300,000 children in Afghanistan without heating and adequately warm clothing were at risk of illness and death this winter. Thousands of them would live in homeless camps because of the destruction in the war. “There they risk starvation, disease including Covid-19 and even death from freezing temperatures.”

The United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) is also sounding the alarm. Despite the ongoing peace talks between the government and the Taliban, the number of civilian casualties remains dramatically high – “with no signs of an end to the fighting.” In its forecast for 2021, UNOCHA assumes that almost half of the country’s 40 million inhabitants will be dependent on humanitarian aid – almost twice as many as last year.

The main reason for this is the social and economic consequences of the corona pandemic. According to UNOCHA, almost 60 percent of households in Afghanistan would have to get by with even less money than in the previous year – in 17 percent of households the situation would become “catastrophic”. In concrete terms, this means that 16.9 million Afghans are expected to struggle with hunger and malnutrition this year. In addition, in times of the pandemic, three quarters of the population in rural areas have no access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities. Women who are increasingly exposed to domestic violence are particularly affected by the consequences of the corona crisis.

But even if all of this is known to those responsible in Berlin: the next deportation flight is certainly already being planned.

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The 10 poorest countries in the world by GDP per capita

Düsseldorf The corona economic shock hits poorer countries particularly hard for several reasons: Investments from richer countries are being scaled back, international investors are withdrawing their capital. The states themselves can raise few funds for economic stimulus programs and emigrants send less money to their countries of origin.

This could have serious consequences, especially for the poorest countries, warns the World Bank in its latest report. Accordingly, the corona crisis is expected to plunge at least 60 million people into absolute poverty this year. “There could be more,” said World Bank President David Malpass in an interview after the publication in early October.

But which are the poorest countries in the world? There are several ways to measure poverty. Some research only focuses on the financial data. Others are based on surveys of residents’ feelings or consider factors such as access to food, education and clothing.

This ranking measures the gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant. The data come from 2019 from the International Monetary Fund; current figures for 2020 are not yet available. The list shows which ten countries are among the poorest on earth.

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These are the ten poorest countries in the world in the 2021 ranking

10th place – Niger, West Africa

The gross domestic product in Niger in 2019 was 553.92 dollars per capita. It ranks tenth among the poorest countries in the world.
In comparison: In Germany, the gross domestic product per capita in 2019 was 48,634 dollars.

9th place – Sierra Leone, West Africa

Sierra Leone ranks ninth among the poorest countries in the world. Here, at $ 539.12, GDP per capita is somewhat lower than in Niger.

8th place – Madagascar, Africa (Indian Ocean)

In Madagascar, GDP per capita is $ 525.3 in 2019. This brings the country to eighth place in the ranking of the world’s poorest countries in 2019.

7th place – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Africa

With a gross domestic product of $ 508.95 per capita, the Democratic Republic of the Congo ranks seventh in 2019.

6th place – Afghanistan, South Asia

In 2019, the gross domestic product per capita in Afghanistan is almost two dollars lower than in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. With a gross domestic product of $ 507.29 per capita, Afghanistan ranks sixth.

5th place – Mozambique, Africa

Mozambique had a per capita GDP of 487.69 dollars in 2019. The country is the fifth poorest country in the world according to GDP per capita.

4th place – Central African Republic, Africa

The Central African Republic ranks fourth among the poorest countries in the world. Here there is a gross domestic product of $ 479.86 per inhabitant.

3rd place – Malawi, Africa

With a GDP of $ 377.72, Malawi ranks third among the poorest countries in the world.

2nd place – South Sudan, Africa

South Sudan has an even lower gross domestic product per capita. The North African state has a gross domestic product of only 368.84 dollars per capita.

1st place – Burundi, Africa

The poorest country in the world is Burundi. Here comes a GDP of only $ 269.83 for each inhabitant.

The 10 poorest countries in the world in the table

place Land GDP per inhabitant
1. Burundi 269,83 US-Dollar
2. South Sudan 368,84 US-Dollar
3. Malawi 377,72 US-Dollar
4. Central African Republic 479,86 US-Dollar
5. Mozambique 487,69 US-Dollar
6. Afghanistan 507,29 US-Dollar
7. Democratic Republic of Congo 508,95 US-Dollar
8. Madagascar 525,30 US-Dollar
9. Sierra Leone 539,12 US-Dollar
10. Niger 553,92 US-Dollar

Those: Statesman / IMF

For comparison: The ten richest countries in the world.

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Germany has space! (Young World newspaper)

The aid organization Pro Asyl demandse on Monday Evacuation and admission from the slum camps in front of and at the EU border:

Looking at the published asylum figures for 2020, Pro Asyl notes that the number of people entering Germany has fallen to a low since 2012. The number of cross-border first-time asylum applications in 2020 was 76,061, 31.5 percent lower than in the previous year (source: BMI).

»Germany has space, the federal government must face its humanitarian and human rights responsibility. We call for initiatives to end the illegal pushbacks by Croatia and Greece on the EU’s external border immediately. The silence and tolerance of this violation of human rights must stop. Neither at the gates of Europe in Bosnia nor in the slum camps in the EU, such as on Lesbos and other Greek islands, is there any prospect of protection and asylum. Germany must take action with the Portuguese Presidency and lead the way: evacuation, admission and guaranteeing access to the asylum procedure in the EU is the order of the day. The federal government must act «, demands Günter Burkhardt, managing director of Pro Asyl.

It is clear that there is considerable free capacity in Germany. For asylum, the federal government calls on, in view of the increasing number of refugees to over 80 million people worldwide, to use this capacity.

The low number of people entering Germany is a result of the rigorous sealing of Europe’s borders. The Greek-Turkish land border, the Hungarian and Croatian EU external borders are systematically cordoned off; Asylum seekers in Bosnia are stuck in misery and winter at risk of death, without the prospect of protection. (…)

The Berlin alliance against deportations to Afghanistan condemned deportations planned on Monday:

(…) As it did before Christmas, Germany is continuing the monthly deportations to Afghanistan. Regardless of the nationwide lockdown, which is intended to reduce the high number of corona infections and prevent even more deaths, the Federal Ministry of the Interior is planning a nationwide collective deportation to Afghanistan on January 12, 21 from Düsseldorf Airport. While public life is being shut down and contact restrictions are being tightened, the Federal Government wants Afghan people from all corners of the republic to be transported across the country to Düsseldorf and deported from there. This is not only a scandal because of the rampant virus, because both Germany and Afghanistan are still hotspots for the corona pandemic. Even the police union recently made a statement calling for Afghanistan to be stopped.

The deportations to Afghanistan are particularly inhuman because the security situation there is still disastrous. The Institute for Economics and Peace has classified Afghanistan as the most dangerous country in the world in its Global Peace Index 2020 for the second year in a row. Accordingly, most people worldwide die there as a result of armed conflicts. In addition, thousands of Afghans (including many children) live in miserable conditions as internally displaced persons, constantly fleeing the Taliban and the armed conflicts. (…)

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talks resume, violence worsens

► What is the objective of these talks?

These negotiations follow on from the agreement reached between the Taliban and the United States in February 2020, in which the Americans pledge to withdraw their troops from the country by May 2021. The goal is to achieve creation a political roadmap for a future government of national unity or of transition.

The negotiators of the Afghan government want as a priority to obtain a permanent ceasefire and the maintenance of the current system of governance, set up after the departure of the Taliban from power in 2001. The Taliban seek, them, to negotiate the establishment of ‘an “Islamic” government and its institutions. The two parties will therefore have to find common ground on the definition of a “ceasefire” (permanent and general or else partial and conditional) and “Islamic” governance.

Another delicate subject, the release of Taliban prisoners by the government. President Ashraf Ghani released more than 5,000 prisoners in September 2020 but has so far refused to go further, as requested by the Taliban. Each side suspects the other of wanting to drag out the negotiations. The Taliban, pending the complete withdrawal of American troops. The Afghan president, to stay in power.

► What is the situation on the ground?

Afghanistan is experiencing an upsurge in violence. In the first nine months of the year, 2,177 civilians were killed and 3,822 injured, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. The Taliban have carried out near-daily attacks against government forces in recent weeks. The country has been the scene of a series of targeted assassinations of personalities, in particular journalists, politicians or religious, human rights defenders. A vice-governor of Kabul province, five journalists and the head of an independent election observation organization have notably been killed since November. Authorities blame the attacks on the Taliban, but Daesh claimed responsibility for some.

→ REPORT. American withdrawal from Afghanistan: in Kabul, anger stronger than fear

The US military attributed, Monday, January 4, for the first time, to the Taliban the responsibility for this series of targeted attacks. “The Taliban campaign of unclaimed attacks and killings targeting government officials, civil society leaders and journalists must end for peace to prevail”, said on Twitter Colonel Sonny Leggett, spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan.

► What role does the United States play today?

The Taliban have significantly reduced direct attacks on US forces since February 2020, but they continue to harass Afghan security forces and control more of the territory. US troops respond with airstrikes when Afghan security forces are in difficulty, as has been the case recently in Kandahar and Helmand provinces.

By mid-January, the United States will have only 2,500 troops in the country, up from around 12,000 in February 2020. Their mandate will be defensive. The leverage of the United States on the Taliban is therefore already much reduced. The ability of the Afghan forces to hold the ground without American support seems far from assured. Conversely, Taliban negotiators begin the second round of talks with confidence reinforced by the successes achieved by combatants on the ground.

The Afghan government and the Taliban are waiting to see whether President-elect Joe Biden will meet the troop withdrawal schedule or attempt to renegotiate the deal signed in February. The Taliban are threatening to annul the entire deal if the new US administration maintains a residual counterterrorism military force.

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In Afghanistan, the Taliban negotiate their return to power

REPORTAGE – After a three-week hiatus, peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban delegations resumed Wednesday in Doha, Qatar.

Special envoy to Kabul

Since their start on September 12, negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban movement have not produced any significant progress. They began in slow motion, mired in fruitless deliberations over the form of negotiations, which Islamic system to consider, and other practical details. After a three-week hiatus, talks resumed Wednesday in Doha, Qatar.

On December 2, the parties announced that they had finally reached an agreement on the points to be addressed when negotiations resumed. A roadmap has been drawn up: three pages of injunctions, listed in 12 points, which are similar to a code of conduct for negotiators who are asked to “respect the opposite side“. Objective: to make the progress of the negotiations more cordial, while, according to observers who followed the progress of the meetings on the spot, the Taliban, in a position of strength on the ground, were particularly arrogant.

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