Taliban confirms it received no fundings from Russia

FILE – In this Nov. 30, 2017 file photo, American soldiers wait on the tarmac in Logar province, Afghanistan. The U.S. is pausing movement of troops into Afghanistan and quarantining 1,500 new arrivals to country due to virus. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul, File)

As the Western media continues to blame Russia’s policy in Afghanistan, a never-ending information war seems to take a new round aggravating the peace process in the country.

The leading U.S. media outlets claimed Russia was funding Taliban referring to the movement’s commanders. However, both the New York Times and Insider refused to name not only their sources but also American official spokesmen who reportedly said they had found out links between Taliban’s and Russia’s banking accounts. The outlets also claimed Russia’s financial support to Taliban was aimed at killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but no evidence and details have ever been provided.

The claims of the Western media seem even more baseless after the interview with Qatar-based Taliban’s official spokesperson Mohammad Sohail Shahin had been released.

Speaking to journalists covering the Russian policy in the Middle East, Shahin denied any funding from Russia. “This statement is proofless and has nothing to do with the truth. We believe such claims appear in the context of the internal political struggle in the United States and are organized by opponents of the Afghan peace process”, Mohammad Shahin said. “The main goal of these campaigns is to undermine the Afghan peace process”, he added.

In February, 2020, Washington signed a peace deal with Taliban confirming to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. However, a year on, the agreement’s major clauses have not come to effect. Much due to internal confrontations between the U.S. establishment and the U.S. Conservative Party. With Biden Administration taking the power and its policy focused on international intervention, the process is likely to be delayed. Yet, procrastination of the peace process in Afghanistan may lead to irreversible and tragic consequences in an already war-torn country and cause a total halt of economic and industrial development.

Moreover, in a current situation of limited on-spot-covering due to the closed borders, independent and non-affiliated media are not able to provide an objective view of the peace process development in Afghanistan. And this is often turned into advantage by the Western mainstream media.

Terrorist attack on Russian diplomats in Afghanistan may lead to further tensions between Moscow and Kabul

Afganistan, Kabul. Photo: Daily Sabah

On December 1, the car of the Russian Embassy with several employees inside was hit by an improvised explosive device in Kabul. Russian diplomats received a slight concussion.

According to preliminary estimates, the terrorist attack most likely targeted a pickup truck of the Afghan national security forces with servicemen on board moving ahead of the diplomatic vehicle, however, the attack against Russian citizens cannot be excluded, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“On December 1, while a Russian diplomatic mission’s car was driving along the road near the Russian embassy in Kabul, an improvised explosive device was detonated. The employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in the vehicle received a slight concussion”, Zakharova said.

The recent attack that affected the employees of the Russian diplomatic mission in Afghanistan might be aimed at setting contradictions in Russia’s cooperation with the inter-Afghan peace settlement countries, as well as excluding Moscow and it partners from it including the Moscow negotiation platform.

“We demand that the Afghan side conduct a thorough investigation of the incident and take comprehensive measures to ensure the security of personnel of Russian foreign missions in Afghanistan. The Russian Embassy in Kabul is implementing additional measures aimed at increasing the security of personnel and facilities of the diplomatic mission”,-Zakharova  added.

As the rate of violence in Afghanistan continues to increase the authority of the Islamic republic in the international diplomatic community is undermining which may also affect the further position of the contributing countries. Only in recent weeks Kabul was hit by a number of terrorist attacks, with more than 50 people killed in two assaults on educational centres and a rocket attack.

Trump’s Afghanistan Strategy Unveils US Stronger Ties with Tajikistan

President Donald Trump walks out of Air Force One upon his arrival at Hagerstown Regional Airport in Hagerstown, Md., Aug. 18, 2017, en route to nearby Camp David, for a meeting with his national security team to discuss strategy for South Asia, including India, Pakistan and the way forward in Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The United States continue expanding their presence in the Central Asia as part of the program «The Great Central Asia». As President Trump announced his new policy on Afghanistan earlier this week, the US Administration have started looking towards Tajikistan, the key region on the Central Asia which has a longer border with Afghanistan.

Boosted earlier in 2016 by the Secretary of State John Kerry, the cooperation between the United States and the Central Asia in trade, economic development, the anti-terrorism fight is likely to be particularly focused on making stronger ties with Tajikistan as the US Embassy in Dushanbe have lobbied the military and technical aid agreement between the United States and Tajikistan. The $100 billion agreement for a period of 5 years, from 2018 to 2023, has already been approved by Tajikistan authorities, according to the head of the Tajik Border Security Forces col. Avzalov.

As part of the agreement, the US Embassy in Tajikistan with support of «AT Communication US» will implement a new operation control system designed by «HARRIS» to the Tajik Border Security Forces. The system is designed according to the C4ICR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) standard which is used by NATO. The system will also let the United States track Tajik military actions online by integration with the communication channels of the Tajikistan’s Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The stronger ties the bigger funding. The United States have decreased their military and technical financing around the world from $1 billion to $800 million since the start of 2017, while Tajikistan continues to receive larger funding than any other country in the region.

However, by integrating the NATO control system to its Military Tajikistan will no longer be able to be a part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization which uses the Russian operation and control technologies while further strengthening of the US-Tajikistan relations may cause tension for Tajikistan authorities both with the Central Asian countries and Moscow. Finally, the initiative courageously taken by the Tajik Border Security Forces may have negative results considering the authoritative and self-dependent course of the President Emomali Rahmon.

Is Islam Good for Government?

By Matt Cochran | Christian Post Guest Contributor

After the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, war critics argued that neither country had the proper cultural foundations necessary for democracy to flourish. Conditions in Afghanistan, where American casualties topped 1,650 over the summer of 2011 and the prospect of a functioning, stable democracy is still remote even after a decades-long war, lends credibility to this argument. The State Department also recently left open the possibility of U.S. troops staying on in the country indefinitely. Iraq, although better off than Afghanistan, is hardly the beacon of freedom and democracy that President Bush and his fellow neoconservatives hoped it could be for the Middle East.

Although critics stopped short of singling out Islam as the reason democracy has failed to take root in both of these countries, the religion has had such a profound influence on both that its culpability for the seemingly intractable standoff between the forces of democracy and extremism should at least be open for debate. Islam could be the single most important reason that Iraq and Afghanistan provide such infertile soil for democracy. Furthermore, if Islam can be proven to undermine democratic institutions, shouldn’t the West be more critical of its encroaching influence in places such as Great Britain and the United States?Patrick Basham, senior fellow at the CATO institute, a libertarian think tank, made a compelling argument in 2003 for why democracy would prove elusive in Iraq. Despite progress since then, his argument remains instructive. Basham built his case on four critical cultural factors that he argued must be present for democracy to succeed. Among them were social tolerance, which he defined as “the acceptance of traditionally unpopular minority groups,” and secondly, acceptance of the belief that the public should be a participant in political decision-making.

Both of these factors are influenced by religion, whether Islam or Christianity.

Take Christianity and America as an example. Both of Mr. Basham’s factors are sacrosanct American values left over from the Judeo-Christian ethos that influenced the founders, even those who also looked to the Enlightenment for inspiration.

Tolerance may not be a word that a worldly 21st century person would use to describe 18th century American culture. In today’s vernacular, tolerance means accepting or embracing something. However, a truer definition would be: allowing an activity to go on despite one’s objection to it; call it coexistence. Christian teachings laid the foundation for a tolerant democratic experiment that – for its time – was very permissive.

The Pilgrims fled England because they were that “traditionally unpopular minority group” and were persecuted because of it. One could argue that the whole purpose of the American experiment was establishing a more tolerant government. Although many Pilgrims originally dreamed of establishing a Christian utopia in the New World, the American Revolution – in which Puritans fought alongside Baptists and Methodists – forced a compromise that is embodied in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…” Utopian dreams were superseded by practical considerations and Christians from every sect wanted a guarantee they would be able to live out their convictions without intervention or oversight from the national government. Of course today the U.S. tolerates far more than it did back then, but that is only because the freedom to live out one’s own convictions – within certain bounds – was embedded in the national psyche when America was formed.

In contrast, many Muslim countries utterly fail the tolerance test. The basic freedom to practice a religion of one’s own choosing is a good litmus test. More than 80 percent of Muslims in Egypt, Pakistan, and Jordan believe in executing apostates who leave Islam, according to the Pew Research Centre. Iran persecutes followers of the Baha’i faith because they are considered apostates from Shi’a Islam.

More consideration should be given to the question of how deeply rooted intolerance is in Islam itself. The Koran is used by Muslim-controlled governments to justify the oppression of minority groups. Whether or not an objective reading of the Koran would justify oppression is another matter for a different discussion; the fact remains that the text is the guiding force behind many of the world’s most oppressive regimes.

Mr. Basham’s second factor, public participation in political decision-making, is also a foundational value of American society and one that can be traced back to Christian teachings and principles.

While many Muslims – though not all – believe that the only truly legitimate government would derive its authority from Allah and enforce his commands, the Judeo-Christian view is that government itself is an institution ordained by God, whether or not it is controlled by believers or accomplishes God’s purposes. This is illustrated by Christ’s command to “render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s.” The dominant Christian view is that government is legitimate in its own right. Even Presbyterians and Catholics who subscribe to the view that civil government should move towards enacting the letter of God’s moral law recognize a distinction between civil government and the church. Democracy is still viewed as entirely legitimate. Christians worldwide have almost universally embraced the American model: a form of government that protects their right to practice their religion freely. In practice that means having a voice in public policy.

In contrast, some sects of Islam, such as the Party of Liberation (Hizb ut-Tahrir), preach that participating in secular elections is wrong. In an Aug. 6, 2011, article, The Economist magazine acknowledged that many Muslims – among them the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda, and Party of Liberation – dream of a global Islamic caliphate. In this view of government, authority is only legitimate in so far as it follows the Koran.

Historian David Fromkin addresses this issue in his book A Peace to End All Peace. He chronicles the miscalculations the British made while plotting to restore the caliphate to Arabia during World War I. The British thought they were planning the installation of a religious leader only. They didn’t realize that in Islam, according to Mr. Fromkin, “all of life, including government and politics, falls within the governance of the Holy Law; so that in the eyes of Sunni Muslims, such as the Ottoman Sultan and the Emir of Mecca, the dominion of the Caliph as upholder of the Holy Law is pervasive. What British Cairo did not see is that the Caliph is also a prince: a governor and a leader in battle as well as a leader in prayer.”

Even Turkey, which is often held up as a model Muslim democracy, is under assault from elements more committed to growing Islam’s influence on government than the secularism championed by its founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who once called himself the “imam of Istanbul” when he served as Istanbul’s mayor, is moving the country closer to other Muslim dictatorships and away from its traditional allies in the West. Tellingly, Erdogan and his Islamist-leaning party, the AKP, are attacking that most democratic of institutions: the media. Reporters Without Borders, an organization dedicated to defending press freedoms and reporters, ranks Turkey 138 out of 178 in their 2010 Press Freedom Index. It has moved down from a ranking of 100 in 2002, the year the AKP took power.

Too many Muslims embrace Islamism, the belief that Islam is not just a religion, but a political system as well. Government leaders in this system of thought are also religious leaders and vice versa. Participation by the people in the decision-making process is, at best, of secondary importance to having a government that carries out rules dictated by the Koran. Islam undermines Mr. Basham’s second prerequisite for democracy in spectacular fashion.

Many troubling questions arise from even a casual consideration of the preceding arguments. If Muslims question the legitimacy of Western democratic government and harbor unspoken desires for a future global Islamic caliphate, should that be cause for concern? To put it another way, if Muslims use the liberty handed down by America’s Judeo-Christian-influenced forefathers to advance a religion that does not respect the distinction between civil and religious law, is it hypocrisy for Americans to object to their exercising freedom in that way?

This is not a scholarly exercise based on hypothetical situations. Great Britain is already wrestling with real Muslim influence, and that may be a harbinger of things to come for the U.S. The law itself is under attack by some British Muslims who want family law matters to be handled within the Muslim community. Melanie Philips, in her book Londonistan, outlines examples of this type of subversion of Western courts and law. She describes one book published by the Islamic Council of Europe called Muslim Communities in Non-Muslim States that calls for Muslims to organize themselves and build mosques and community centers with the ultimate goal of becoming the majority – and eventually govern the nation according to Islam.

The issue at hand is not whether religion should influence public policy. Christianity, as discussed previously, has had a dramatic and positive impact on the development of governmental systems that protect individual freedoms. The issue is whether Islam’s influence is good or bad for Western-style government.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law. No freedom-loving person should ever undermine that principle, no matter the reason. Muslim Americans have as much a right to participate in the political process as any other religious – or non-religious – persons. Moreover, some Muslim Americans, having fled oppressive religious governments in their home country, are adamantly opposed to the idea of an Islamic caliphate or any movement in that direction, including Sharia courts for local Muslim populations. Political correctness, however, should not stop the West from asking difficult, even uncomfortable, questions of Muslims seeking elected positions or advocating for the isolation of Muslims from the majority culture, which in Britain has resulted in real movement towards a kind of community self-rule that undermines Western values.

Matt Cochran is a writer and communications consultant residing in Atlanta, Georgia. He has broad political experience as a consultant to a congressional and senate campaign, and as a former intern in the Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. He received an economics degree from Georgia State University and a graduate degree from The George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration.

David Cameron’s Statement on the death of Usama bin Laden, and counter terrorism

Prime Minister David Cameron’s statement to the House of Commons on the death of Usama bin Laden and counter-terrorism.

Read the statement

The death of Usama bin Laden will have important consequences for the security of our people at home and abroad and for our foreign policy, including our partnership with Pakistan, our military action in Afghanistan and the wider fight against terrorism across the world.

Last night I chaired a meeting of COBR to begin to address some of these issues.

The National Security Council has met this morning.

And I wanted to come to the House this afternoon, to take the first opportunity to address these consequences directly and answer Hon Members’ questions.

Mr Speaker, at 3am yesterday I received a call from President Obama. He informed me that US Special Forces had successfully mounted a targeted operation against a compound in Abbottabad, in Pakistan.

Usama bin Laden had been killed, along with four others: bin Laden’s son, two others linked to him, and a female member of his family entourage. There was a ferocious firefight, and a US helicopter had to be destroyed but there was no loss of American life.

I am sure the whole House will join me in congratulating President Obama and praising the courage and skill of the American Special Forces who carried out this operation.

It is a strike at the heart of international terrorism, and a great achievement for America and for all who have joined in the long struggle to defeat Al Qaeda.

We should remember today in particular the brave British servicemen and women who have given their lives in the fight against terrorism across the world.

And we should pay tribute especially to those British forces who have played their part over the last decade in the hunt for bin Laden.

He was the man who was responsible for 9/11 – which was not only an horrific killing of Americans, but remains to this day, the largest loss of British life in any terrorist attack.

A man who inspired further atrocities including in Bali, Madrid, Istanbul and of course, here in London on 7/7.

…and, let us remember, a man who posed as a leader of Muslims but was actually a mass murderer of Muslims all over the world. Indeed he killed more Muslims than people of any other faith.

Mr Speaker, nothing will bring back the loved ones who have been lost and of course no punishment at our disposal can remotely fit the many appalling crimes for which he was responsible.

But I hope that at least for the victims’ families there is now a sense of justice being served, as a long dark chapter in their lives is finally closed.

As the head of a family group for United Airlines Flight 93, put it – we are “raised, obviously, never to hope for someone’s death” but we are “willing to make an exception in this case … He was evil personified, and our world is a better place without him.”

Mr Speaker, Britain was with America from the first day of the struggle to defeat Al Qaeda. Our resolve today is as strong as it was then. There can be no impunity and no safe-refuge for those who kill in the name of this poisonous ideology.

Security

Mr Speaker, our first focus must be our own security.

While bin Laden is gone, the threat of Al Qaeda remains.

Clearly there is a risk that Al Qaeda and its affiliates in places like Yemen and the Mahgreb will want to demonstrate they are able to operate effectively.

And, of course, there is always the risk of a radicalised individual acting alone, a so-called lone-wolf attack.

So we must be more vigilant than ever – and we must maintain that vigilance for some time to come.

The terrorist threat level in the UK is already at Severe – which is as high as it can go without intelligence of a specific threat.

We will keep that threat level under review – working closely with the intelligence agencies and the police.

In terms of people travelling overseas, we have updated our advice and encourage British nationals to monitor the media carefully for local reactions, remain vigilant, exercise caution in public places and avoid demonstrations.

And we have ordered our embassies across the world to review their security.

Pakistan

Mr Speaker, let me turn next to Pakistan.

The fact that bin Laden was living in a large house in a populated area suggests that he must have had a support network in Pakistan.

We don’t currently know the extent of that network, so it is right that we ask searching questions about it. And we will.

But let’s start with what we do know.

Pakistan has suffered more from terrorism than any other country in the world.

As President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani said to me when I spoke to them yesterday, as many as 30,000 innocent civilians have been killed. And more Pakistani soldiers and security forces have died fighting extremism than international forces killed in Afghanistan.

Usama Bin Laden was an enemy of Pakistan. He had declared war against the Pakistani people. And he had ordered attacks against them.

President Obama said in his statement: “counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.”

Continued co-operation will be just as important in the days ahead.

I believe it is in Britain’s national interest to recognise that we share the same struggle against terrorism.

That’s why we will continue to work with our Pakistani counterparts on intelligence gathering, tracing plots and taking action to stop them.

It’s why we will continue to honour our aid promises – including our support for education as a critical way of helping the next generation of Pakistanis to turn their back on extremism and look forward to a brighter and more prosperous future.

But above all, it’s why we were one of the founder members of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan. Because it is by working with the democrats in Pakistan that we can make sure the whole country shares the same determination to fight terror.

Afghanistan

Mr Speaker, I also spoke yesterday to President Karzai in Afghanistan.

We both agreed that the death of bin Laden provides a new opportunity for Afghanistan and Pakistan to work together to achieve stability on both sides of the border.

Our strategy towards Afghanistan is straightforward and has not changed.

We want an Afghanistan capable of looking after its own security without the help of foreign forces.

We should take this opportunity to send a clear message to the Taleban: now is the time for them to separate themselves from Al Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process.

Mr Speaker, the myth of Bin Laden was one of a freedom fighter, living in austerity and risking his life for the cause as he moved around in the hills and mountainous caverns of the tribal areas.

The reality of Bin Laden was very different: a man who encouraged others to make the ultimate sacrifice while he himself hid in the comfort of a large, expensive villa in Pakistan, experiencing none of the hardship he expected his supporters to endure.

Libya

Mr Speaker, finally let me briefly update the House on Libya.

In recent weeks we have stepped up our air campaign to protect the civilian population.

Every element of Qadhafi’s war machine has been degraded.

Over the last few days alone, NATO aircraft have struck 35 targets including tanks and armoured personnel carriers, as well as bunkers and ammunition storage facilities.

We have also made strikes against his command and control centres which direct his operations against civilians.

Over the weekend there were reports that in one of those strikes Colonel Qadhafi’s son, Saif al-Arab Qadhafi, was killed.

All the targets chosen were clearly within the boundaries set by UN Resolutions 1970 and 1973.

These Resolutions permit all necessary measures to protect civilian life – including attacks on command and control bases.

Mr Speaker, this weekend also saw attacks on the British and Italian embassies.

We utterly deplore this.

The Qadhafi regime is in clear beach of the Vienna convention to protect diplomatic missions. We hold them fully to account. And we have already expelled the Libyan Ambassador from London.

The British embassy was looted as well as destroyed.

The World War Two Memorial was desecrated.

And the UN have felt obliged to pull their people out for fear of attack.

Qadhafi made much of his call for a ceasefire.

But at the very moment Qadhafi claimed he wanted to talk, he had in fact been laying mines in Misurata harbour to stop humanitarian aid getting in and continuing his attacks on civilians, including attacks across the border in neighbouring Tunisia.

Mr Speaker, we must continue to enforce the UN resolutions fully until such a time as they are completely complied with.

And that means continuing the NATO mission until there is an end to all attacks on – and threats to – civilians.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, bin Laden and Qadhafi were said to have hated each other. But there was a common thread running between them.

They both feared the idea that democracy and civil rights could take hold in the Arab world.

While we should continue to degrade, dismantle and defeat the terrorist networks a big part of the long term answer is the success of democracy in the Middle East and the conclusion of the Arab-Israeli peace process.

For twenty years, bin Laden claimed that the future of the Muslim world would be his.

But what Libya has shown – as Egypt and Tunisia before it – is that people are rejecting everything that bin Laden stood for.

Instead of replacing dictatorship with his extremist totalitarianism, they are choosing democracy.

Ten years on from the terrible tragedy of 9/11, with the end of bin Laden and the democratic awakening across the Arab world, we must seize this unique opportunity to deliver a decisive break with the forces of Al Qaeda and its poisonous ideology which has caused so much suffering for so many years.

And I commend this statement to the House.

The Prime Ministers Office

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