Foreign Affairs

Trump ousts Tillerson, will replace him as secretary of state with CIA chief PompeoThe Washington Post


President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and plans to nominate CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace him as the nation’s top diplomat, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate outreach such as possible talks with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday. Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled …

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In Peace Overture, Afghan President Offers Passports to TalibanBy ANDREW E. KRAMER (FEB. 28, 2018) The New York Times


KABUL, Afghanistan — President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan renewed a call on Wednesday for the Taliban to join peace talks, offering to treat the insurgent group as a legitimate political party, though it has repeatedly rejected similar proposals. In the latest overture, Mr. Ghani said his government would provide the Taliban with an office in the capital, Kabul; passports for …

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Pakistan given three-month reprieve over terrorist financing watchlist: ministerAsif Shahzad REUTERS (Feb 20, 2018)


ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – Pakistan has been given a three-month reprieve by a global watchdog over a U.S.-led motion to put the South Asian country on a terrorist financing watchlist, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif said late on Tuesday. Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and …

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Battle for Kabul Has Begun By Nafisa Hoodbhoy VOA (Extremism Watch Desk) January 28, 2018


WASHINGTON — Taliban attacks on two consecutive weekends in Kabul, which have killed hundreds of people, including Americans, have occurred in the midst of stepped-up efforts by the Trump administration to find a way out of the 16-year-old Afghan imbroglio. While the Trump administration has doubled its troop level in Afghanistan to 16,000, the U.S. Central Command led by Gen. …

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U.S. Drone Strike Kills Militants in Pakistan but Angers Its GovernmentBy SALMAN MASOOD JAN. 24, 2018 The New York Times


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A leader of the militant Haqqani network and two of his aides were killed Wednesday in an American drone strike in northwestern Pakistan, an attack that was denounced by the Pakistani government. The attack took place on Wednesday morning in the Speen Thal Dapa Mamozai area of the Kurram tribal region and was directed at a house …

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Trump’s Twitter Attack On Pakistan Is Met With Both Anger And Support In South AsiaLeeza Mangaldas Forbes (Jan 3, 2018).


In one of his first tweets of the new year, U.S. President Donald Trump accused Pakistan of deceiving the United States and harboring terrorists while accepting billions of dollars in foreign aid, an equation that would no longer be tolerated. Along with the tweet came reports that the U.S. is likely to withhold more than $250 million in aid that …

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Iranians chant ‘death to dictator’ in biggest unrest since crushing of protests in 2009Saeed Kamali Dehghan & Emma Graham-Harrison The Guardian (Dec 31,2017)

iran map

At least two protesters were killed in the city of Doroud, in Iran’s western Lorestan province, as riot police opened fire to contain a group of people said to have been trying to occupy the local governor’s office. Clashes between demonstrators and anti-riot police became violent in some cities as the demonstrations spread. The two men killed in Doroud have …

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Frustrated U.S. Might Withhold $255 Million in Aid From PakistanBy ADAM GOLDMAN, MARK LANDLER & ERIC SCHMITT The New York Times


WASHINGTON, Dec 29 — When Pakistani forces freed a Canadian-American family this fall held captive by militants, they also captured one of the abductors. United States officials saw a potential windfall: He was a member of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network who could perhaps provide valuable information about at least one other American hostage. The Americans demanded access to the man, …

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Trump looks to the sky to force Taliban to the tableAFP (Dec 23, 2017)

US Air Force

KABUL: The war in Afghanistan may be entering its 17th year, but screams of military jet engines in the twinkling skies above Bagram Airfield show no sign of quieting. This city-scale military base just north of Kabul has — like similar facilities in Kandahar and Jalalabad — become central to Donald Trump´s promise to succeed where his predecessors failed, and …

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UN Jerusalem vote by country: What countries voted against US call on Israel’s capital?By Sebastian Kettley Fri, Dec 22, 2017 Express UK


An overwhelming majority of United Nations member states opposed the United States regarding the disputed status of Jerusalem on Thursday. In what was seen as a massive blow to the US, a total of 128 of the 193-member UN General Assembly agreed to resolve the Holy City dispute through “negotiations in line with relevant UN resolutions”. The vote followed President’s …

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US seeks to quell global outrage over Jerusalem: ‘The sky hasn’t fallen’The Guardian UK 10 December 2017


Two days after America’s closest allies denounced it in the United Nations, a day after an Israeli air strike killed two in Gaza and hours after protests erupted near the US embassy in Lebanon, Donald Trump’s ambassador to the UN relayed his message to the world: “The sky’s still up there. It hasn’t fallen.” Nikki Haley echoed that message across …

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Coal Project Is Latest Sign of Growing Pakistan-China RelationshipBy Nafisa Hoodbhoy (Nov 18, 2017) Published in VOA Central News


ISLAMKOT, PAKISTAN — As the car speeds along gleaming blacktop highways in Pakistan’s southern desert of Tharparkar, it is clear the new roads were not built to serve the poor herders and nomads who live in cone-shaped straw homes and subsist on herding sheep and cattle. Indeed, a few decades ago, the Tharparkar desert in Sindh province bordering India was …

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Troubling Turn in Afghan War: Taliban Profits Soar by Making HeroinBy MUJIB MASHAL (OCT. 29, 2017) The New York Times


KABUL, Afghanistan — The labs themselves are simple, tucked into nondescript huts or caves: a couple-dozen empty barrels for mixing, sacks or gallon jugs of precursor chemicals, piles of firewood, a press machine, a generator and a water pump with a long hose to draw from a nearby well. They are heroin refining operations, and the Afghan police and American …

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Pakistan vows cooperation in fight against terrorist groupsBy Pamela Constable and Carol Morello By Pamela Constable and Carol Morello (October 24, 2017) Washington Post

Rex Tillerson, Shahid Khan Abbasi

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s prime minister pledged his country’s cooperation in fighting Islamist militants during talks here Tuesday with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who has insisted that Pakistan do more to curb support for terrorist groups or face U.S. reprisals. “The U.S. can rest assured that we are strategic partners in the war against terror and that today, Pakistan is …

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Freed Canadian hostage claims Taliban killed infant daughter, raped wife By Reuters (October 14, 2017)


A US-Canadian couple freed in Pakistan this week, nearly five years after being abducted in Afghanistan, returned to Canada on Friday where the husband said one of his children had been murdered and his wife had been raped. American Caitlan Coleman and her Canadian husband, Joshua Boyle, were kidnapped while backpacking in Afghanistan in 2012 by the Taliban-allied Haqqani network. …

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Here’s How Mattis Plans To Win The War In AfghanistanSaagar Enjeti The Daily Caller (Oct 7, 2017)


Secretary of Defense James Mattis offered the most detailed view of President Donald Trump’s strategy to turn the tide of war in Afghanistan Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Mattis’s prepared testimony laid out an “R4+S” strategy, which stands for “regionalize, realign, reinforce, reconcile, and sustain.” The strategy hits upon larger themes of Trump’s Aug. 21 address to the …

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Turks being picked up for interrogation in PakistanBy Osman Arslanhan (Oct 1, 2017)

In the early hours of Wednesday, September 27, 2017, Mr. Mesut Kacmaz and his family – Mrs Meral Kacmaz (wife), Ms Huda Nur Kacmaz (17) and Ms Fatma Huma Kacmaz (14) – were abducted from their house located in Wapda Town district of Lahore. Mr Fatih Avcu, a fellow educationist, witnessed the incident and he was arrested by the raid …

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Pakistan, US agree to remain engaged as Abbasi meets vice president Mike PenceAPP/Dawn (Sept 20, 2017)


Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi met US Vice President Mike Pence on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, with the two sides resolving to remain engaged and carry forward the relationship that has been on a downward trajectory since announcement of the US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia. Abbasi’s meeting with VP Pence is the …

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Digging In for Next Decade, U.S. Expands Kabul Security ZoneBy ROD NORDLAND (SEPT. 16, 2017) The New York Times


KABUL, Afghanistan — Soon, American Embassy employees in Kabul will no longer need to take a Chinook helicopter ride to cross the street to a military base less than 100 yards outside the present Green Zone security district. Instead, the boundaries of the Green Zone will be redrawn to include that base, known as the Kabul City Compound, formerly the …

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Trump’s plan prompts ‘paradigm shift’ in foreign policyKamran Yusuf (The Express Tribune)


ISLAMABAD, Sept 8: Pakistan on Thursday hinted at bringing a ‘paradigm shift’ in its foreign policy in view of the fast-changing situation on regional and international fronts, particularly after the new US strategy on Afghanistan and South Asia. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, while speaking at a news conference, said the change was necessitated by recent developments “which are perhaps the …

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