Mixed Emotions On A Recent Headline

The Biden administration has announced the killing of top al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri over the weekend. That’s a good thing. I have little doubt that al-Zawahiri is dead, I have a lot of doubt as to exactly what the truth is surrounding his death.

The Conservative Review points out a few problems with the announcement:

According to expert terrorism analyst Bill Roggio, the narrative that al-Zawahiri’s death was a counterterrorism success “masks the undeniable truth that Taliban-controlled Afghanistan is a safe haven for al-Qaeda.”

That is because, as Roggio explained, al-Zawahiri was “hiding” in plain-sight, i.e., he was not hiding at all.

“Zawahiri was killed in the Sherpur neighborhood, in a home run by a deputy of Sirajuddin Haqqani. Sirajuddin is of course one of two deputy Taliban emirs as well as the interior minister,” Roggio explained. “Zawahiri could not operate in Afghanistan — particularly in Kabul — without the consent of the Taliban. He wasn’t in the remote mountains of Kunar, Nuristan, or Nangarhar, or distant provinces of Ghazni, Helmand, or Kandahar. He was in the Taliban’s capital.”

The Conservative Treehouse is also somewhat skeptical of the narrative:

Everything about the supposed killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri is suspect, weird and fishy.

♦First, Al Zawahiri has been reported as killed or dead at least a half dozen times in the last 10 years; including by natural causes.  ♦Second, Ayman Zawahiri was very old. Western citations put his age at 71 (born 1951), however, that is suspect (sounds like his younger brother’s age).  ♦Third, the location of his reported killing in Kabul is odd.  Zawahiri was known to avoid large populations, and even with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan the tribal conflicts with factions of the Taliban would have been an issue.

♦Fourth, somehow the Taliban waited until after the U.S. intelligence community leaked the strike to the media before they issued a statement condemning the drone attack.  Since when does al-Qaeda wait 48+ hours to denounce hostile action in their territory?   Coordinating and timed joint press releases between the White House and ‘Taliban‘ to western media outlets is seriously sketchy.

♦Fifth, absolutely no official outline from the Pentagon or White House on this “successful counterterrorism strike“?  Despite a primetime presidential address, the White House has no announcement, no official statement, nothing, on their website.  Additionally, Biden leads off saying the attack was on Saturday, the Taliban waited 48-hours to denounce a U.S. drone strike?  Think about it.  Doesn’t add up.  More sketchy.

♦Sixth, and seemingly just an oddball addendum, Fox News breaks the story using Jennifer Griffin as lead reporter.  As I noted several days ago, Griffin had been missing from Fox News since she went bonzo in March attacking Tucker Carlson over his cynicism of the official State Dept and Pentagon narrative in Ukraine.

I am willing to rejoice that a terrorist has departed the earth, but I do wonder if the information we have been given is accurate. It is also disturbing to learn that Afghanistan is once again a safe haven for al-Qaeda.

What IS Possible

Yesterday The U.K. Daily Mail posted an article about the rescue of a Washington Post reporter in Afghanistan.

The article reports:

A Washington Post reporter has shared how British troops helped her and friends flee Afghanistan – as pressure mounts over US forces’ continued refusal to leave Kabul airport.    

Susannah George told of how she and the paper’s Afghan staff were able to latch on to a separate evacuation led by UK troops, after spotting them and asking for help to flee. 

That saw them hurriedly travel along a road to Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport in armored cars driven by private security guards.

Those roads were being guarded from Taliban interference by UK service personnel, before making it to the security gate of the airport itself, which was manned by American troops. 

George did not offer further comment on the troops who helped save her, but the UK’s elite Special Air Service (SAS) have been drafted in to rescue Britons trapped in the war-torn country.

Her difficult journey contradicts President Biden’s assertion that anyone with an American passports would be allowed through checkpoints. 

Her story also illustrates the fact that with the proper equipment people can be safely and successfully evacuated from Afghanistan.

The article concludes:

Kabul airport has been the scene of chaos as Westerners and visa holders desperately trying to get to their flights say they are unable to check in because of the crowd of up to 50,000 desperate locals who are gathering at the gates.

At the main entrance, Taliban fighters periodically fire into the air to clear the crowd in an attempt to disperse the crowd – but video of the fighters unleashing a volley of automatic fire shows the terrifying gauntlet evacuees have to negotiate.

Taliban fighters were seen shooting over the heads of crowds, striking people with rifles, while those on the ground reported beatings and whippings being dished out seemingly at random.

Crowds have also gathered at the entrance to the military wing of the airport, which is guarded by US and British troops who have been firing into the air to disperse the crowds.

Westerners face a race against time to get out of Kabul, with control of the airport resting on the up to 60,000 troops.

Joe Biden has said they will stay until all US citizens are evacuated, but there are suspicions among British troops that they could leave abruptly – leaving the 600 British unable to keep operating to evacuate UK nationals and interpreters.

UK troops have said that firing warning shots is a last resort, the Taliban are causing pandemonium and were filmed today shooting from the hip just yards away from women and children, and whacking people with the butts of their rifles.

Such is the desperation among crowds at the airport that women have resorted to passing babies over barbed wire to soldiers in a vain attempt to get them out of the country.

We have the troops and the resources to successfully evacuate all Americans and those who helped us from Afghanistan. We need to do that.

Letting Down Our Citizens And Our Allies

On Friday, The Washington Examiner is reporting the following:

Maj. Gen. Christopher Donahue has told his British Army counterpart, a high-ranking field-grade officer of the British army’s 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, that British operations were embarrassing the United States military in the absence of similar U.S. military operations, according to multiple military sources. I understand that the British officer firmly rejected the request.

Col. Joe Buccino, a spokesman for the XVIII Airborne Corps, denied that Donahue made such a request.

“The XVIII Airborne Corps denies the central thrust of this story,” the spokesman said. “Specifically, Gen. Chris Donahue, whose sole focus is security at HKIA, never made such a request to any British Army officials and would have no motive for doing so.”

The article concludes:

A bureaucratic tug of war between the State Department, Pentagon, and White House is also disrupting evacuation operations out of Kabul. This is aggravating British, French, and other Kabul-present military authorities. I understand that these governments have been further aggravated by the failure of the White House and Pentagon to communicate adequately, or in some cases, to communicate at all, on their intentions and actions. All these allies admit, however, that only the U.S. military could provide the airfield defense and air traffic control capabilities now on display.

Still, as I noted on Wednesday , the Biden administration’s conduct of the Afghanistan withdrawal has raised deep concerns by allies as to the administration’s credibility and confidence. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, allied officials reemphasized this concern to me on Friday.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. It has been a long time since America has so totally botched a military operation and alienated our allies at the same time. In this case I am more inclined to believe the British account of the incident than the American account. Our military leadership does not seem to be reliable right now.

The Insanity Continues

Sometimes I wonder if there is a purposeful effort on the part of the State Department and the Biden administration to make things worse in Afghanistan. On Saturday, The Conservative Treehouse posted an article that seems to prove that theory.

The article reports:

David Fox is an American trapped in Kabul who appeared on a video report with ABC to highlight the situation faced by thousands of Americans attempting to evacuate the region. While he was describing the dangerous situation around the Kabul airport, Mr. Fox also pointed out a very serious issue.  ABC buried the lead….

According to his report, the U.S. State Department responded en masse to all the people trapped in Afghanistan reaching out for help.

The U.S. Embassy consular services department sent a document with instructions to assist Americans and eligible Afghans claiming Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) status. The document looks exactly like an approved VISA document except there is no filled in name, no serial number and no barcode.

As Mr. Fox notes, the document is easily able to be forged which makes the Kabul airport situation even worse, as it is likely the people who receive this response from the consular’s office will duplicate it and share it with friends or family who can then use it in an effort to get to the United States.

Mr. Fox attributes this massive problem to bureaucratic “brainworms“, or a mistake by professional bureaucrats within the State Department trying to help but actually making things worse.  However, there is a possibility it’s not a mistake.  Perhaps this was done purposefully.

As previously noted by Lara Logan, outlining a position I happen to agree with {GO DEEP}, the growing scale of the crisis in Afghanistan cannot simply be chalked up to mistakes, snafu’s, blunders and errors in judgement.  At some level it must be accepted that these events are happening because they are intended to happen.

While it is never a good idea to assign duplicitous motives to issues and events which can be more easily explained by stupid errors, the scale of the errors in this situation beggars belief.

When you think about the people within the chain-of-command inside the U.S. State Department, specifically the number of people currently assigned to review everything U.S. Embassy Kabul operations is conducting, this instruction to blitz a document to all applicants, that is so easy to duplicate had to be made intentionally.

Tens of thousands of fraudulent State Department documents showing up at the already overwhelmed gates of the Kabul airport will only make things exponentially more difficult to sort through.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article. I almost hope this is a sinister plot against America–it scares me to think our government officials are really that dumb.

Whose Idea Was This?

Just when you thought things couldn’t get any more bizarre, they do. Yesterday The New York Post posted as article about the reversal of a ridiculous decision made by the Biden administration.

The article reports:

The State Department was forced to scrap a widely excoriated plan to bill US citizens $2,000 or more for their evacuation flights from Kabul.

The hefty price tag drew social media outrage Thursday after it gained public notice.

“In these unique circumstances, we have no intention of seeking any reimbursement from those fleeing Afghanistan,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement provided to The Post.

The cost was publicly posted to a State Department website on Saturday but went largely unnoticed before it was highlighted by Politico’s military-focused newsletter Thursday.

An unnamed State Department spokesman initially stood by the charge, telling Politico that “U.S. law requires that evacuation assistance to private U.S. citizens or third country nationals be provided ‘on a reimbursable basis to the maximum extent practicable.’”

You messed up by removing the military before you got the civilians our of harms way and now you want the civilians to pay for your mistake??!!

The article continues:

The State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council said in an Aug. 14 advisory, “U.S. lawful permanent residents may submit a repatriation assistance request, and their request will be considered depending on availability.”

The advisory says, “Repatriation flights are not free, and passengers will be required to sign a promissory loan agreement and may not be eligible to renew their U.S. passports until the loan is repaid. The cost may be $2,000USD or more per person.”

Some civilian flights remain available out of Afghanistan. For example, Air India has pledged to continue operations so long as the Kabul airport is open. One-way direct tickets to Delhi are available for Sunday for $147.

Unbelievable.

The article concludes:

French and British troops are venturing into the Taliban-controlled Afghan capital to escort their citizens to safety. The US military is not doing so for Americans.

That is disgraceful.

Betraying Those Who Have Helped Us In The Past

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting today that the 2017 defense appropriation bill would have a devastating impact on the interpreters and other civilians in Afghanistan that worked with our troops while we were there.

The article reports:

Under the Special Immigrant Visa program, Afghans who worked as translators for the U.S. military and support operations are eligible to apply for American visas if their lives are at risk in Afghanistan.

But according to advocates for the SIV program, the latest version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act in the House of Representatives would limit eligibility to translators who worked directly for the U.S. military or intelligence agencies. Interpreters in other support roles, such as working with the American embassy in Kabul or for base security, would no longer be qualified for the visa program.

As U.S. troops pull out of the region and the security situation deteriorates for American allies, thousands of Afghans currently under threat from the Taliban could be impacted.

“If this becomes the law of the land, in all intents and purposes there will not be an SIV program anymore,” said Matt Zeller, a former Army captain who runs the interpreter advocacy group No One Left Behind. “And we will be outright turning our backs on a group of people we have made a fundamental promise to.”

Under the Obama Administration, America has been a horrible ally to its friends. In the future, no one will step forward to help our troops because they will not trust us to protect them in the future. Hopefully, our next President will be able to correct some of the misdeeds done by the current administration.

The ‘Look At Me’ President

Fox News is reporting today that two senior Defense officials told Fox News that President Obama has authorized the U.S. to fly surveillance drones over Syria. Why in the world is this being announced? Did former Presidents announce surveillance flights over other countries? We are not actually at war with Syria, so why in the world should we make this announcement? I am not opposed to the surveillance flights–we should have been doing them all along–I am opposed to the fact that the Obama Administration announced them.

The article reports:

Sources told Fox News that Obama approved surveillance missions in Syria for the first time over the weekend; they have since begun. 

It remains to be seen whether the Syrian government will raise any objections to the move. On Monday, the Syrian regime demanded that the U.S. seek permission before launching any airstrikes on its territory against Islamic State targets, but did not discuss its position on surveillance drones. 

The internal discussion over whether to expand the U.S. mission into Syria comes after the U.S. military earlier this month began launching a volley of strikes against Islamic State targets in northern Iraq. Top Pentagon officials have said that the only way the threat from the militants can be fully eliminated is to go after the group inside neighboring Syria as well. 

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday that the U.S. wants more clarity on the militants in Syria, but declined to comment on the surveillance flights.

“Clearly the picture we have of ISIS on the Iraqi side is a more refined picture,” said Dempsey, using one of the acronyms for the Islamic State group. “The existence and activities of ISIS on the Syrian side, we have … some insights into that but we certainly want to have more insights into that as we craft a way forward.”

The action is considered the first “intrusive” surveillance by the U.S. in Syria since the country’s civil war began. This differs from protective surveillance, such as the U.S. used in the failed mission to rescue American hostages held in Syria.

I don’t have a problem with destroying ISIS, but I think we need to take a very close look at who we are supporting when we oppose ISIS. In opposing ISIS, we are supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. We also need to remember that Iran also opposes ISIS. ISIS is a horrible group of people, but do we really want to align ourselves with Bashar al-Assad and Iran? I am not sure there are any good guys in this. We need to help the Kurds defend themselves, but I am not sure we need to do anything else.

The Cost Of Ignoring The Lessons Of History

I am part of the generation that graduated from high school during the ramp up of the war in Vietnam. The boys in my high school graduating class went to college or Vietnam. There were no other choices. That was a time in the history of this country where everyone was not expected to go to college. My husband served in the Navy during that time. We lost friends in Vietnam, and we have friends who physically came home but never mentally came home. Vietnam was a striking example of what happens when politicians take over a war. The military wins wars when they are allowed to do so. Politicians fight with one hand tied behind their backs so that they don’t risk offending anyone. That is the place we have come to (again) in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, the Washington Times posted an article about the increase in casualties in the war in Afghanistan. Although it is difficult to prove statistically, the author of the article believes that the increase in casualties is directly related to the rule of engagement set by the Obama Administration.

The article reports:

“In Afghanistan, the [rules of engagement] that were put in place in 2009 and 2010 have created hesitation and confusion for our war fighters,” said Wayne Simmons, a retired U.S. intelligence officer who worked in NATO headquarters in Kabul as the rules took effect, first under Army Gen. Stanley M. McChrystal, then Army Gen. David H. Petraeus.

“It is no accident nor a coincidence that from January 2009 to August of 2010, coinciding with the Obama/McChrystal radical change of the [rules of engagement], casualties more than doubled,” Mr. Simmons said. “The carnage will certainly continue as the already fragile and ineffective [rules] have been further weakened by the Obama administration as if they were playground rules.”

As President Obama’s troop surge began in 2009, so did new rules of engagement demanded by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who was responding to local elders angry over the deaths of civilians from NATO airstrikes and ground operations.

Please read the entire article to get the full picture. I posted it simply to bring up the concept. We need to allow our young men to fight, or take them out of harm’s way. What we are doing now is slowly killing off the future leaders of our country for no apparent reason. We made that mistake in Vietnam. Let’s not make it again.

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Not All Cultures Are Created Equal

On Saturday, the New York Post posted an article by Phyllis Chesler entitled, “My life of hell in an Afghan harem.” It is the story of an American college student who marries a man from Kabul, Afghanistan, and travels with him to Afghanistan. After marrying him at age 20, she travels through Europe with him and then on to Afghanistan. When she arrives in Afghanistan, an airport official takes away her American passport. That is pretty much the end of her rights as a person. Because she has given up her passport, she cannot prove that she is an American, and thus is not entitled to protection by the American Embassy.

Because of the lack of sanitary drinking water, Ms. Chesler soon contracted dysentery and later hepatitis. Her father-in-law eventually sends her back to America as she is slowing recovering from hepatitis. Needless to say, she is more than grateful to get back to America.

The article concludes:

I’ve never told this story in detail before, but felt that I must now. Because I hear some westerners preach the tortured cultural relativism that excuses the mistreatment of women in the name of Islam. Because I see the burqa on the streets of Paris and New York and feel that Afghanistan has followed me back to America.

I call myself a feminist — but not just any feminist. My kind of feminism was forged in the fires of Afghanistan. There I received an education — an expensive, almost deadly one — but a valuable one, too.

I understand firsthand how deep-seated the hatred of women is in that culture. I see how endemic indigenous barbarism and cruelty is and unlike many other intellectuals and feminists, I don’t try to romanticize or rationalize it.

I got out, and I will never return.

Her story is a striking example of what Sharia Law means for a culture. All Americans need to make sure Sharia Law never comes to America.

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Freedom Of Speech Is Not Compatible With Sharia Law

On Friday the Center for Security Policy posted an article about Sushmita Banerjee, an Indian woman who wrote a bestselling memoir about the brutality of Sharia law and her escape from the Taliban. She has been killed by unknown militants in Afghanistan.

In an article in Outlook India.com from May 1998, she related her story. The article reported:

Here I must mention the case of a woman who called in a priest to pray for her son who was seriously ill. Members of the Taliban saw the maulvi going into the house. The woman and the priest were executed in public. They were taken to the square alongside the local police station and shot. The entire village was terrorised by the incident.

…Meanwhile, my brothers-in-law tracked me down and took me back to Afghanistan. They promised to send me back to India. But they did not keep their promise. Instead, they kept me under house arrest and branded me an immoral woman. The Taliban threatened to teach me a lesson. I knew I had to escape.

One night I tunneled my way through the mud walls of the house and fled. Close to Kabul I was arrested. A 15-member group of the Taliban interrogated me. Many of them said that since I had fled my husband’s home I should be executed. However, I was able to convince them that since I was an Indian I had every right to go back to my country.

The interrogation continued through the night. The next morning I was taken to the Indian embassy from where I was given a safe passage. Back in Calcutta I was reunited with my husband. I don’t think he will ever be able to go back to his family.

This is Sharia Law in action.

 

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We Now Know Who Receives E-Mail From The Taliban

ABC News reported yesterday that when a Taliban spokesman sent out his routine e-mail last week he accidentally made public the names of all the people on his mailing list.

The article reports:

“Taliban have included all 4 of my email addresses on the leaked distribution list,” tweeted journalist Mustafa Kazemi, a prolific Kabul-based tweeter with more than 9,500 followers. “Quite reassuring to my safety.”

The list, made up of more than 400 recipients, consists mostly of journalists, but also includes an address appearing to belong to a provincial governor, an Afghan legislator, several academics and activists, an l Afghan consultative committee, and a representative of Gulbuddein Hekmatar, an Afghan warlord whose outlawed group Hezb-i-Islami is believed to be behind several attacks against coalition troops.

I hope someone in the CIA has taken a good look at this list. It might be interesting.

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This Is Not Something America Should Be Supporting In Any Way

Chief Justice Shinwani from the Supreme Court ...

Image via Wikipedia

I probably would not qualify as a feminist by today’s standards. I believe women should be able to do any job they are qualified for and should be paid equally for their work, but the current definition of feminism has left that concept far behind. However, I have very strong ideas about how women should be treated. Some of those ideas come from spending part of my childhood in the American south, where chivalry and manners can still be found. Thus, I was very disturbed when I read the following article.

The Toronto Star posted an article today about recent comments by President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan.

The article reports:

In remarks made Tuesday, Karzai backed a “code of conduct” written by the Ulema Council of 150 leading Muslim clerics. It could dramatically restrict women’s daily lives and threaten a return to the dark days of Taliban rule.

“Men are fundamental and women are secondary,” the council said in its statement released last week, and later published on Karzai’s own website.

…It says women should not travel without a male guardian or mingle with men in public places such as schools, offices or markets. It also allows wife-beating in the case of a “sharia-compliant” reason, although it rejects forced marriage and the bartering of women to settle disputes.

In Kabul, Karzai said that the council had not put “any limitations” on women, and that it was only stating “the sharia law of all Muslims and all Afghans.” But some Muslim scholars have disputed the clerics’ strict interpretation.

This was what Afghanistan was like under the Taliban. I remember the joy when people took out their radios and danced when the American troops arrived. Have the people of Afghanistan forgotten their own recent past?

The article further reports:

Before the 2001 invasion, Afghan women were confined to their homes and forced to wear burkas. Girls were not allowed to go to school, and females could not get medical attention from male doctors.

Since then women have made large strides, returning to work and school, starting businesses and taking part in the political process. But their lives are frequently at risk, and have become more difficult as security has frayed in recent months.

“Sixty-five per cent of the population is under the age of 25, and young women are not prepared to take it any more,” says Toronto author and journalist Sally Armstrong, who has written on Afghan women’s rights. “They are brave, and they march in the street. The message is ‘Karzai must go.’”

Karzai has been backtracking on women’s rights in recent years, as Western countries began to roll up their military operations. By 2014, most will have left the country, although they have pledged to continue support for its development.

President Karzai is hedging his bets because foreign forces are leaving his country, and he is faced with making friends with the Taliban or being literally left hanging. The mistake made early in our dealings with Afghanistan was allowing Sharia Law to be written into the country’s constitution. Until their constitution changes, Afghanistan will never truly be a free country.

 

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