Afghanistan

Euro-Atlantic Approaches to Security – Reconciling NATO and the EU

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19 June 2014

US Secretary of State Kerry meets with EU High Representative Ashton, courtesy of U.S. Department of State/wikimedia commons
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Is there a single approach to Euro-Atlantic security? If not, is that a bad thing? Heather Conley’s answer is ‘no’ to both questions. But that doesn’t mean NATO and the EU shouldn’t be talking to each other about complementarity, regionalization and, most importantly, future defense spending.

By Heather Conley for Europe’s World

This article was originally published as ‘Is it Fair to Say there is no Euro-Atlantic Security Approach?’ by Europe’s World on 16 May 2014.

Russian government and military actions over the past several weeks have dramatically changed Europe’s security landscape and fundamentally challenged Europe’s political order for the first time since the Cold War. And to address this task, NATO is the organisation of (only) choice. The problem is that there is no single Euro-Atlantic security approach. The Atlantic has two very different security providers: NATO and the European Union (in the form of the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy or CSDP).

The EU’s security vision as articulated by CSDP has been adrift for many reasons. Although the CSDP was initially an attempt by some European leaders to be a counter-weight to U.S. defence policy, the de minimis results of CSDP thus far suggest that there exists little policy or budget enthusiasm to create – much less sustain – a robust European defence policy. Today, European defence policy is either expressed within a NATO framework or has been directed at bilateral security interests such as France’s operations in Mali and the Central African Republic. Of the 20 CSDP operations between 2003 and 2008, most missions were geographically located in Africa. Recent CSDP missions since 2012 have been civilian and very small in nature, focused nearly exclusively on training. The CSDP, as currently designed, is not able to defend Europe. Read the rest of this entry »

Royal Air Force pilots departing after dropping explosives over Utah

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Posted on: 5:40 pm, March 23, 2014, by Mark Green

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An RAF Tornado. Image courtesy Hill Air Force Base.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — During the last three weeks, Utah’s Hill Air Force Base has played host to a squadron of pilots from the United Kingdom and their Tornado planes.

The RAF Tornado Training Squadron from northern Scotland has been using the Utah Test and Training Range to drop a variety of weapons–as the squadron can’t drop weapons at home.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Is Trilateral China-India-Russia Cooperation in Afghanistan Possible?

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South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Indian, Chinese and Russian officials will meet on Friday to discuss Afghanistan. Is there substance to this trilateral?

By Ankit Panda January 16, 2014

 

On Friday, senior officials from India, China, and Russia will meet in Beijing for a trilateral discussion on the emerging security situation in Afghanistan ahead of the United States’ drawdown and the upcoming general election scheduled for April. Cooperation between the three powers on Afghanistan has been burgeoning since 2013 and could become a major factor for Afghan leadership following a U.S. withdrawal.

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Jordanian Al-Qaida Fighter Killed in Afghanistan | Jih@d

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by Florian Flade

“The hero of Khorasan Zaid Saleh al-Hourani, known to everyone as Abu Musab al-Hourani”, the beginning of a short biography of a Jordanian Jihadist fighter killed in Afghanistan reads. The article about Al-Hourani was posted on Jihadist Internet forums recently and gives a rare insight into the situation of foreign fighters in Afghanistan these days.

“Abu Musab al-Hourani”, a resident of Amman, from a Jericho family, allegedly was a close aid to former Iraqi Al-Qaida leader Abu Musab az-Zarqawi and recruited about 30 other Jordanians to Jihad in Iraq. In Jordan al-Hourani was imprisoned for 5 years because of his terrorist activities.

In 2010 he traveled to Pakistan and joined the mujaheddin in the tribal areas. Pictures released with his biography are showing Abu Musab al-Hourani in the Pakistani tribal agency of Orakzai. “He took part in operations targeting the Pakistani military”, the biography reads. Al-Hourani was wounded during the fighting in Pakistan, both in battle with Pakistani troops (on his leg) and in CIA drone strikes (again his leg) but recovered from the injuries. Read the rest of this entry »

Mystery death on Skype: What killed US captain in Afghanistan?

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The captain, a chief nurse who deployed to Afghanistan in March, was speaking with his wife via Skype when he pitched forward. The Army is investigating but does not suspect foul play.

By Anna Mulrine, Staff writer / May 7, 2012

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It is a mystery gripping the US military: What caused a US soldier at a base in Afghanistan to die during a video chat with his wife?

Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark, of Spencerport, N.Y., is pictured in an undated U.S. Army photo obtained by Reuters May 7.

Courtesy of U.S. Army/Reuters

 

Capt. Bruce Kevin Clark was speaking via Skype with his wife Susan Oreliana-Clark on May 1 when he was “suddenly knocked forward,” according to statement released by his wife on Sunday.

“There was no sign that CPT Clark was in any discomfort, nor did he indicate any alarm,” her statement noted.

Yet she did notice a disturbing detail after her husband collapsed forward out of the view of the computer’s video camera: “The closet behind him had a bullet hole in it.”

Oreliana-Clark promptly called family members and tried to reach military officials as the Skype chat feed continued and her husband did not respond to her voice.

“The Skype link continued for approximately two hours as CPT Clark’s family and friends stateside and in theater worked feverishly to send help.”

After two hours, military officials and Mrs. Clark say, two military personnel arrived in Clark’s room in Afghanistan “and appeared to check his pulse,” according to the Clark family statement.

His wife, who had been working “feverishly” to reach military officials, was “provided no details about his condition” by the troops who arrived on the scene.

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Cultural Sensitivity As A Weapon

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English: Suwayrah, Iraq - U.S. Army Special Fo...
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March 1, 2012: As foreign troops reduce their numbers in Afghanistan over the next two years, American Special Operations Forces (commandos and Special Forces) will increase their activity because these troops will advise Afghan soldiers, and be available to carry especially tricky missions.   The U.S. Army Special Forces will be particularly effective because they know the languages and cultures in Afghanistan.

The effort to train the new Afghan soldiers and police required that thousands of troops and civilians (usually former military) be brought in. These have been of limited effectiveness because of language and cultural barriers. Normally, the U.S. Army Special Forces handles training of foreign armies, and they are expert at it. Special Forces troops have the advantage of knowing the language and culture of the foreign troops they train. One lesson that was quickly learned was that, while you can teach these foreign recruits through an interpreter, it helps a lot if you get up to speed on the local culture. The Special Forces provided some of their people to help train the American trainers on that point, but over the past seven years, a body of information and “lessons learned” has been collected, and used to help train the trainers. One of the more important lesson learned was that, even if you don’t speak the language, spend as much time as possible with your trainees. That means eating with them, and living very close to their barracks. Be available at all hours, and keep a good translator handy at all times.

The cultural awareness picked up in Iraq has not always proved useful in Afghanistan. For example, in Iraq a knowledge of the history of the Iraqi army, and respect for that, proved very useful. The Iraqis were particularly proud of how they held off the Iranians during the 1980s, and making positive references to that paid off. No mention of the two wars they had with the Americans. They already knew all about that, and don’t want to hear any more. The Afghans, on the other hand, have no sense of their army having been defeated by the United States, since everyone looks on the defeat of the Taliban as a group effort by the Afghan people and Americans to chase out some religious fanatics. But at the same time, Afghans have no particular pride in any “Afghan Army.” The only military organizations Afghans admire are tribal or warlord militias that won some battles in the past (often against another Afghan tribe). Read the rest of this entry »

Bulletin Of The Oppression Of Women

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Our latest Bulletin of news and events regard!ing the oppression of women under Islam is now available. You can find archived issues here.

From Saudi Arabia

A Saudi court sentenced a local man and his girl friend to 50 lashes each and ordered him to wash 10 dead people after they were caught in a car parked in a deserted place under the cover of night.

The judge also sentenced the man to 15 days in prison and ordered him to memorize 10 Koran verses and 100 sayings by the Prophet Mohammed, according to Sabq newspaper.

***

In Saudi Arabia, girls and women are shut out of competitive sports, according to a just-released report by Human Rights Watch.

There are no national teams for women, and physical education for girls does not exist in state schools (although it does in private schools). Fitness clubs open to women are few and costly. Many of the swimming pools and running tracks that did exist for women were closed by the government in 2009 for being unlicensed, leaving women to search out gyms operating under the radar or to exercise at home.

Baad Is Bad

Shakila, 8 at the time, was drifting off to sleep when a group of men carrying AK-47s barged in through the door. She recalls that they complained, as they dragged her off into the darkness, about how their family had been dishonored and about how they had not been paid.

It turns out that Shakila, who was abducted along with her cousin as part of a traditional Afghan form of justice known as “baad,” was the payment.

Although baad (also known as baadi) is illegal under Afghan and, most religious scholars say, Islamic law, the taking of girls as payment for misdeeds committed by their elders still appears to be flourishing. Shakila, because one of her uncles had run away with the wife of a district strongman, was taken and held for about a year. It was the district leader, furious at the dishonor that had been done to him, who sent his men to abduct her.
[ . . .]


“Despite being denounced by the United Nations as a “harmful traditional practice,” baad is pervasive in rural southern and eastern Afghanistan, areas that are heavily Pashtun, according to human rights workers, women’s advocates and aid experts. Baad involves giving away a young woman, often a child, into slavery and forced marriage. It is largely hidden because the girls are given to compensate for “shameful” crimes like murder and adultery and acts forbidden by custom, like elopement, say elders and women’s rights advocates.

Read the rest here.

The honor/shame belief system of the mid-East is the engine that drives the oppression of women in these cultures.  Islam is the fuel that provides the machine with its power.

Muslim Brotherhood Drops the Veil on Belly Dancing

An Iranian born professional belly dancer, Farahnaz Raboudan, now living in Canada, talks about her art, its age limitations, and what she found on her last trip to Egypt.

Born in Tehran, Raboudan danced at parties and birthdays as a child. Her family fled Iran in 1989, 10 years after the Islamic revolution.

“Among other rules, women had to wear much more conservative clothing after the revolution and there has been no public belly dancing since then,” she says.

[ . . .]

Just back from Egypt — considered by many to be the longtime centre of belly dancing — Raboudan says the Muslim Brotherhood is dropping the curtain on belly dancing.

“It’s sad,” she says. “I fear Egypt will go the way of Iran. Fortunately, there are many Muslims in Edmonton who understand and enjoy belly dancing.”

Read the article here.

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of seeing a belly dance, here is a video of the best belly dancer in the world, Tito Seif, who happens to be a man, dancing with one of his students!  Here  is another video of the Classical Egyptian style belly dance by Zaheea.

Singing and dancing are disputed by various Islamic sects.  However, even some of the most fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan allow dancing at celebrations when it is gender specific and men dance with men, and women dance with women.  Also, some Muslims say that it is permissible for wives to dance for their husbands.  Here’s  a typical discussion about these arts.

“Verified Virgins” in Denmark

Young Danish women with immigrant backgrounds – most of them Muslim – continue to flock to private clinics across the country to have their ‘virginity’ restored for a few thousand kroner.

Several years after the little-known procedure became a topic of political debate, doctors are reporting that demand for hymenoplasty operations has not decreased.

Doctors who perform these operations have come under sharp criticism for legitimising the procedure and thereby protecting what critics say is the chauvinism and oppression that underlies the demand that new brides must be verified virgins.

“I don’t have any scruples about helping. The important thing is that these girls have good lives moving forward. You could call it my form of foreign aid,” Dr Christine Felding, who performs 30 to 40 hymenoplasty procedures each year, told Berlingske newspaper.

The procedure involves reconstructing the hymen – the membrane that partially covers the opening to the vagina, and which is presumed to tear and bleed the first time a woman has sexual intercourse. The doctor literally sews bits of the vaginal lining together to narrow the opening. It takes a little over an hour and is done under local anaesthesia. Felding charges 5,000 kroner. Other doctors charge as much as 12,000 kroner.

Felding estimates that three or four women with immigrant backgrounds call her each week asking about the procedure. Most of them, she said, are frightened about what will happen if their fiancés or their families find out that they are not virgins.

Women have been known to suffer rejection, public shaming and even violent retribution at the hands of men in their own families if there is a lack of ‘proof’, in the form of a bloody bed sheet, on the wedding night.

It is more cultural than religious. If the bride is not a virgin and does not bleed on the wedding night, it is a big shame on the family. There have been honour killings in extreme cases,” Dr Magdy Hend, a UK surgeon who performs several hymenoplasties a week, told the UK tabloid Daily Mail.

Doctors in the UK, France, Germany and Belgium also report that the procedure is highly sought after in Muslim communities. The irony, as Time magazine’s Bruce Crumley writes, is that “the increase in the procedure reflects the growing emancipation of women from tradition-rooted communities, but also the ongoing male oppression signified by the obsession with female virginity.”

Read the rest here.

(h/t to NewEnglishReview)

What Links these Stories?

Deaf Mute Girl Kept as a Sex Slave in Britain

A woman allegedly imprisoned in a cellar, raped and kept as a virtual slave while a child was stabbed in the stomach for smiling, a jury was told.

The woman, who is deaf and unable to speak, is said to have been subjected to years of abuse after being trafficked into Britain from Pakistan. It is alleged that she was locked in a cellar by Ilyas Ashar, 83, and his wife Tallat Ashar, 66, at their home on Cromwell Road in Eccles, Salford, and forced to sew, wash, cook and clean without pay.

Deaf mute girl allegedly kept in a cellar in Eccles was raped and treated as slave, court told. A jury at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court was told she slept on the cellar’s concrete floor without access to a toilet until she was rescued by police in June 2009.

She is also said to have been regularly beaten, repeatedly raped and assaulted. The couple are on trial and deny any mistreatment.

Read more here.

Afghan woman burnt to death in Iran

The charred body of an Afghan refugee, allegedly killed by her in-laws in neighbouring Iran, was brought to southwestern Nimroz province, the victim’s father said on Monday.  

Abdul Basir told Pajhwok Afghan News his daughter was burnt by her mother-in-law and husband in Iran’s Sistan Baluchistan province five days ago. She had been sprinkled with gasoline before being set on fire, the father alleged.

Basir, who is currently living in Iran, said her daughter was married to a young boy of an Afghan refugee family a year ago. But her mother-in-law would always encourage her son to rough up his wife.

Read more here.

(h/t to the thereligionofpeace.com)

What links these stories? The answer is: the ideology of Islam.