Monday, March 24, 2014

War watch March 24 , 2014 --- Afghanistan - Election Monitors Flee Afghanistan After Hotel Attack NDI, OSCE Withdraw Just Two Weeks Ahead of Vote ..... Iraq - Clashes Spread to Eastern Iraq ; 98 Killed, 34 Wounded ....... Syria - Fighting in Beirut: Syria Rivals Square Off One Killed, 10 Wounded

Taliban winning their game of pre- election intimidation.....


Election Monitors Flee Afghanistan After Hotel Attack

NDI, OSCE Withdraw Just Two Weeks Ahead of Vote

by Jason Ditz, March 23, 2014
Last week’s attack on a Kabul luxury hotel, which left nine people killed, have also led two of the three international election monitor groups to withdraw their delegations from Afghanistan, just two weeks ahead of the election.
The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have both withdrawn their teams after the attack. The NDI had an observer killed in the attack.
The OSCE has said it hasn’t decided whether or not it will cancel their observation mission, but has withdraw their staff for the time being to Turkey, pending a decision.
The European Union’s monitoring mission is still in Afghanistan, but the loss of the other two would be a major blow to the legitimacy of the election, already in serious doubt after the scandals in recent election.







Afghanistan Supports Russia’s Crimean Takeover, Welcomes Moscow Back Into Country

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As the U.S. military prepares to leave Afghanistan after nearly 13 years of conflict with the Taliban, three visiting U.S. congressmen had to endure a statement from Afghan president Hamid Karzai that was released while they were in Kabul.
Citing “the free will of the Crimean people,” Karzai’s office said, “We respect the decision the people of Crimea took through a recent referendum that considers Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.” To date, only Syria and Venezuela have taken a similar position.
The New York Times suggests the Afghan move is linked to the fact that Russia “has been increasingly active in offering development aid. Given Russia’s heavy influence on countries along Afghanistan’s border, maintaining a long-term relationship with the Kremlin is seen as essential to Afghan foreign policy. Moscow is also ramping up its investment in Afghanistan. It is rebuilding the relics of the Soviet occupation and promoting its own political and cultural prowess.”
Indeed, Saturday’s Washington Post has an important article on the changing of the guard in Afghanistan:
“In Afghanistan, Russian officials point to their development activities as a counterexample to U.S. aid projects, which many Afghans criticize as wasteful and misguided. . . . Many Afghans, including President Hamid Karzai, praise the Soviet model even though they fought a bloody 10-year war against the country’s army, which invaded in 1979 to support an unpopular communist government.
“The Soviet money went to the right place. They were efficient in spending their money and doing it through the Afghan government,” Karzai said in an interview with The Washington Post this month.
The irony here, of course, is rich. Afghanistan was indeed invaded by the Soviets in 1979, but that is now conveniently forgotten by the Karzai regime. It is no doubt grateful the new Russian development aid is being spent “through the Afghan government,” a euphemism for the enormous corruption and bribery Karzai’s government is famous for. For some years, the U.S. tried to bribe the Karzai regime into doing its bidding. Ultimately, they failed. It seems the U.S. is not only clumsy at nation building, but also can’t seem to get the hang of “nation bribing.”








Iraq........




Clashes Spread to Eastern Iraq; 98 Killed, 34 

Wounded

by , March 23, 2014
At least 98 people were killed and 34 more were wounded across Iraq. In Diyala province, security forces are trying to prevent militants from taking over Buhriz.
Anbar:
In Falluja, security forces killed 33 militants in the Sijar district. Shelling killed two people and five wounded. Artillery fire killed three militants and wounded two more.
Mortars hit an army headquarters in Ramadi but the number of casualties was not released. Clashes also took place.
The province’s health department released the number of casualties they have, so far, logged during the three months of military activity in the province. They report that 336 people have been killed and 1,562 have been wounded.
Elsewhere:
In Buhriz, where militants are attempting to take over parts the city, security forceskilled a militant leader who has been called a junior "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi." Three policemen were killed and three were wounded in security operations that also leftthree militants dead. Another 14 militants were reported killed separately.
A bomb in central Tikrit killed three people and wounded ten more. A sticky bombwounded four members of a family, including two children, west of the city. Gunmenkilled a civilian. A bomb killed a teenager. A bomb targeting police killed two of them and wounded two more.
A roadside bomb killed two soldiers and wound a third one in Karrar.
In Baghdad, gunmen killed two civilians in Tobchi. An unidentified body was found.
In Mosul, gunmen killed a policeman and wounded another at a checkpoint. A roadside bomb killed a major and wounded two more soldiersThree civilians were killed in separate attacks.
Gunmen killed a civilian in Abu Ghraib. A Sahwa member was killed in a separate attack.
A bomb wounded two civilians in Muqdadiya.
A sticky bomb killed a policeman in Samarra.
Gunmen killed a civilian in Basra.
In Mahaweel, gunmen wounded a journalist.
Ten militants were killed in a failed attempt on a headquarters near Riyadh.
Security forces killed five militants in Fadhiliya.









Syria......


Al-Qaeda Captures Syrian Christian Town on Turkey Border, Killing 80

Rebels Also Seize Border Crossing in Latakia Offensive

by Jason Ditz, March 24, 2014
Syrian rebel factions have made much of their offensive against the coastal Latakia Province, the ancestral homeland of President Assad’s family. So far it has meant taking over remote towns along the coast and other relatively unimportant territory.
One big gain came for al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, which seized the Christian town of Kassab on Sunday, and followed that up by capturing the nearby border crossing into neighboring Turkey. In the offensive they reportedlykilled 80 locals and desecrated several churches.
Kassab and its surrounding villages are Armenian Christians, and their value is primarily because of their location near the Turkish border. Rebel factions that control border crossings are not only able to smuggle in arms for themselves, but are able to demand a cut when other factions use those crossings.
The reports of wholesale killings of locals and mass evacuations among the Christian population is in stark contrast to the Christian minorities in the territory of rival al-Qaeda faction al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), which has gotten the Christians to agree to a Jizya tax in return for a promise of protection.




Fighting in Beirut: Syria Rivals Square Off


One Killed, 10 Wounded

by Jason Ditz, March 23, 2014
Sectarian violence has not traditionally been a huge problem for Lebanon, which has organized its political system around a careful power-sharing agreement among Sunnis, Shi’ites and Christians. Syria has changed everything, however.
Fighting is now common on the Syrian frontier, and also in the northern city of Tripoli. Today, sectarian fighting also broke out in the capital of Beirut, where one was killed and 10 were wounded in fighting between pro-rebel and pro-Assad groups.
Lebanon’s military has deployed around the city, particularly in Sunni neighborhoods where some of the clashes were worst. The fighting was between the Arab Movement Party, a pro-Assad faction, and unnamed “Sunni gunmen.”
The army’s ability to tamp down fighting is very much in doubt, as they have struggled to handle similar violence in places like Tripoli, where a new sectarian street-battle erupts seemingly several times a month.