Update for Thursday, March 26, 2015

There have of course been some important developments in the last few days but they have been pretty well-covered by the corporate media so I didn't feel urgency to post here. But now I do want to put things in context. First, just to compile the highlights:

President Ghani concludes his trip to the U.S. with an address to Congress in which he gives thanks for $107 billion appropriated for the war in Afghanistan so far [Note: far less than the true cost to U.S. taxpayers -- C] and the 2,200 dead U.S. troops. He also views the Islamic State with alarm, although as we have noted previously it is not clear how much substantive significance there is to the adoption of this brand name by factions of the Taliban.

The major substantive outcome of the trip, of course, is president Obama's decision to delay the U.S. troop withdrawal and keep the contingent of 9,800 in Afghanistan through the end of this year in order to support drone strikes and the [largely secret] operations of U.S. special forces.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl to be charged with desertion and "misbehavior before the enemy,"  potentially facing life in prison.

Meanwhile, the violence continues. Rockets fired from inside Pakistan hit civilian homes in Khost, killing 5 and injuring 2.

Suicide attack in Kabul on Wednesday kills 8 and injures 31. Although the location is near government buildings all of the casualties are said to be civilians.

Twenty civilians are kidnapped in Daikundi, apparently by Taliban. They are Shiites of the Baloch minority. There is a heavy Taliban presence in the area and the district governor fears it could fall into their control.

U.S. drone strike said to kill 11 Tehreek-e-Taliban in Kunar. (That's the Pakistani Taliban.)

Students in Kabul hold a candlelight vigil in response to lynching of a woman for allegedly burning a Koran. The incident has led to a substantial public outcry against religious extremism and the status of women in the country, at least in the capital.

In Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition provides air support for the first time in the battle for Tikrit, as Iranian-backed Shiite militias withdraw from the operation in protest of U.S. involvement, or maybe it's the other way around, their withdrawal was a condition for U.S. involvement. [This AP report seems to want to have it both ways, but the latter seems to be the true sequence of events. Note that the Iraqi government had previously said it did not want U.S. help with the operation, but it turns out that it is apparently needed after all.]

Source : warnewstoday[dot]blogspot[dot]com
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