Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Arabic Music Video - Haifa Wehbe _ "Agoul Ahwak" (I Say I Love You)

#YEMEN - Under-Reporting of War Deaths – or Genocide?

The estimates of numbers killed in this terrible war have varied from website to website. On the 31stJuly FARS news agency reported the number killed as 5313 people, most of them women and children. Al Jazeera quoted UN statistics on 27th July, stating that 3,640 have died altogether, about half of them civilians deaths. I believe both of these numbers hide the truth, and the number of those who have died is much, much higher.
Systems of recording deaths in Yemen during the war are not straightforward, hence the differences in death counts. Some agencies count deaths that have been reported in the media, but this is a multi-focal war, with both militia activity and air assaults by the coalition happening in all of the areas except Hadramaut, and journalists cannot access all areas where people are being attacked. As the war progresses, deaths in Yemen have become less newsworthy as it has become so commonplace and the Western media have not seriously tried to give the war in Yemen the coverage it deserves.  Furthermore, militias and fighting forces have an interest in under-reporting any of their own fighters killed by the other ‘side’ as militia and military deaths have a propaganda purpose; these deaths can only be estimated.
Another way of collecting information about those killed is from hospitals and medical sources. However, many hospitals have themselves been out of action, either because of destruction caused by war activity, because of loss of personnel due to the conflict, or because they have run out of medical equipment and may have disruption of water and electricity supplies making it impossible to function. Additionally, many who died at the site of an attack will not be included in hospital statistics
Then there is the nature of Yemen itself. In rural mountainous areas Yemeni families bury the deceased in their own villages, and with the ongoing conflict there is no system for these deaths to be immediately recorded. In some areas, especially the north-west, villages are inside conflict zones and not excluded from serious effects of warfare. The lack of fuel also means that moving injured to hospital is a challenge, for example, a recent report from journalist Mathieu Aikins “Yemen’s Hidden War” published by Rollingstone, stated that whilst he was in Yemen injured people were bought into a hospital in Saada from a village – he pointed to the difficulties in getting the casualties to hospital, with little petrol available, and for many the cost prohibits access to petrol. Apart from the blockade by Saudi Arabia, 180 petrol stations have been bombed in Saada area. For those few who manage to get their injured loved ones to hospital, inevitably many others will have failed and the injured may have died from lack of medical care.
Saada has been subject to daily extensive aerial bombardment by Saudi Arabia throughout the war, causing extensive displacement of families

Aikins also points out that in the areas he passed through in the Sana’a and northwest areas almost all bridges have been bombed, making communication and movement extremely difficult. In a radio report on Radio 4 on 27th July, MSF British doctor Natalie Roberts confirmed this and also stated that it is extremely dangerous to drive along roads, because so many cars and trucks – even those with no military use – are regularly targeted.  No-one will use roads for routine issues such as reporting deaths, and with severe electricity shortages there may be no means for some villages to communicate with the outside world.

Dr. Natalie Roberts saw food trucks that were recently bombed in Amran district, destroying desperately needed food.
The siege has also made it impossible to obtain medicines and medical equipment. This has particularly affected those with chronic illnesses. At times, medicines have been in very limited supply and even the black market has been unable to provide them. This has meant that those with chronic diseases have been at risk, and many have died. Friends have reported that most people on dialysis have died in Sana’a, and also people who need medicines such as insulin have found it difficult to obtain essential medication. Sometimes this has meant that they have had to lower their dosage or change to an alternative medication, often without access to medical advice. Because of the war, non-emergency medical treatment is restricted in many areas; it is hard to imagine that this has not resulted in deaths. These early deaths would have been recorded as due to natural causes, whereas they were due to unnatural warfare and siege conditions under which most Yemeni people are now forced to live.
Examples include a 24 year old man in Aden I know, previously very healthy, who died of malaria because he was not able to obtain medical supplies. In the Guardian newspaper it was reported that an obstetrician stated that two women had died from complications during childbirth, who would not have died but for the war. Some women will no doubt be giving birth at home because it is impossible to get to hospital, increasing risk to mothers and babies. These deaths are hidden from war statistics.
Sources reporting the humanitarian situation in Yemen point to the precarious water supply. Yemen, already short of water, has now moved into an era of critical water shortage since the beginning of war. On 26th May Oxfam reported that two thirds of people in Yemen no longer had access to clean water, and expected that this would cause deaths fromwater borne diseases. The situation has worsened since then, as some water tanks have suffered bomb damage, and the petrol needed to pump water from deep wells is in even shorter supply.   Another problem is a lack of baby milk. It was reported from Yemen sources recently that only 11.9% of Yemeni women are able to exclusively breast feed, a significant fall since last year. The shortage of water, shortage of food and ongoing stress will make it more difficult for women to produce sufficient milk for their babies. The reduction in breast feeding is life threatening for Yemeni babies, especially when it is combined with low availability of milk powders, unclean water supplies, and shortage of fuel to boil water for sterilisation purposes.

Precarious water supply – benefactors in Yemen have supplied water tankers: people are allowed 5 litres every 3 days each. In some areas the supply is less secure due to lack of diesel for water pumps.
Food is also becoming a severe problem as normally 90% of food is imported into Yemen, and the country is under siege making imports impossible. Humanitarian aid delivery is restricted by a Saudi led blockade. Tariq Riebl of Oxfam pointed out that “People are resorting to extreme measures, principally begging. You’ll see this especially with the 1.5 million displaced people…many that have fled suddenly when airstrikes or ground combat erupted. They are leaving behind all their belongings and having no revenue source or income.” Riebl stated that it is difficult to know how many people are dying from the effects of food deprivation because many parts of the country are not accessible and he continued: “The airstrikes have covered the entire country…so it’s difficult to give you an exact figure. In terms of classification, right now 10 out of 22 governorates are classified as Level 4. Level 5 would be famine. Level 4 is critical emergency level. And the rest of the country is in Level 3, which also would be already considered past the emergency threshold. Yemen is one of the most food insecure countries in the world, if not the most.”
As the blockade has reached its fourth month, the effects of the blockade are now causing severe disruption to the food supply and much suffering, and inevitably deaths.  Humanitarian aid is said to be arriving in Aden but people there are telling me, and many others tweeting, that they have not yet received help.  Food is increasingly expensive in the capital Sana’a, and most residents there are without employment or income, relying on savings.  Those who still draw government salaries are mostly not working, and fear their salary will stop as the Houthi led administration is running out of money due to the blockade.  Food trucks moving in Amran province have been regularly bombed, according to Natalie Roberts of MSF, creating a disastrous food situation there.  The only area which is not under strict blockade is in Hadramaut, where food is entering via Mukalla.  The east has a low population as it is a largely a desert region. Although many internally displaced have moved there, this area is not receiving any humanitarian aid.  Displaced people in Hadramaut are mostly living on limited savings, rents are extremely high, and food is very expensive, so even in the most stable area in Yemen food security is an important issue.
The ongoing Saudi air bombardment is also causing many deaths, most of them civilian.  No area is spared except for Hadramaut in the east, which has had minimal bombing raids so far. For example, in Mocha on the Red Sea coast on 24th July a bombing raid killed between 60-120 civilians, and injured many more, some of whom are seriously ill and with the shortage of medical care it is likely that the death toll will rise.   This was not an area where Houthi militias were found; the persons living there worked in an electricity power plant.
Does this amount to genocide?  According to the UN:
Genocide is defined in Article 2 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948) as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part1; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.”
The Saudis are particularly targeting the Zaidi population in the northwest of Yemen, destroying homes, schools, petrol stations, hospitals, roads, factories, shops, mosques, historical artefacts, a refugee camp and vehicles. Although it was reported that those in Saada were given notice that their homes were about to be destroyed by leafleting prior to main bombing raids, the people living there had few choices. Some organisations claim that the bomb damage in the northwest amounts to war crimes. The majority of people in targeted areas lost their homes, belongings, sources of employment, and income. The destruction of their homes destroyed shelter for families in a hot desert region in midsummer; in winter, high mountainous areas can also experience cold conditions and night frosts, making life without shelter challenging all year round. With the loss of their homes, families also lost access to water, electricity, and cooking facilities. Whilst some of the displaced have moved to the capital Sana’a and other cities, they would not be able to escape to the more stable area of Hadramaut due to their tribal and religious identity, as that area is controlled by extremist Sunni militias with strong anti-Shia sentiments and a fear of Zaidi spies. A large proportion of the displaced from Saada area have remained in the northwest, finding or building temporary shelter with limited resources. Some have formed camps near to the Saudi border, as many have relatives in Jizan and Najran who might offer them sanctuary, but currently I understand they are denied entry into Saudi Arabia, and a wall prevents them from crossing the border.

IDPs are living in tents and home made shelters, with very little protection from the elements.
Many that remain in the northwest are now trapped, as the severe shortage of petrol, the high cost of travel by bus, and the targeting of vehicles for air attacks on all local roads means that escape is challenging even if living conditions are life threatening. The low numbers of refugees crossing borders only reflects severe travel restrictions, and does not imply that the conditions in Yemen are better than in other war-torn countries such as Syria. The northwest of Yemen is suffering severe problems with food and water supplies, not only because of the Saudi led blockade that is affecting all of west Yemen, but also because of damage to roads, and targeting of food trucks. Despite the extensive damage here, the bombing raids continue and like those living all over Yemen the Zaidis are suffering severe stress as they listen to the warplanes circling overhead on a daily, even hourly, basis.
It is difficult to argue that these conditions are compatible with life, and desperate appeals have been put out by a number of organisations, including Oxfam, UN, and WFP, ensuring that Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners, including US and UK, must be aware of the seriousness of this man-made crisis. Particularly the lives of the very young, the very old, and disabled have been and are seriously at risk.   Additionally, with many hospitals and clinics destroyed, there is little medical input to help the vulnerable overcome these threats, and as the siege proceeds more of the population will become vulnerable.   It is hard to argue that continued military strikes and ongoing siege in the face of this evidence can be anything other than intentional, as described in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948).
There is impelling evidence that members of the Zaidi population have been killed, and most have suffered serious bodily and mental harm by the destruction of their homes and the on-going blockade, and continued bombing attacks. It is hard to understand the purpose of the air attacks unless it was calculated to inflict on the Zaidi conditions of life that would bring about their physical destruction, in whole or in part.  Additionally, the nearest border is the Saudi border, and the desperate and displaced are not allowed to cross it.
There are also many reported civilian deaths at the hands of the various militias, including the Houthis, in areas of conflict. This has resulted in damage to a significant numbers of homes and other buildings, reduced access to fuel, food, water, and medical assistance, and some civilians have been killed by militias, as well as militias killed whilst fighting each other. Also, many families in the southwest are displaced because of militia activity, and found it difficult to escape horrendous living conditions because of the conflict and siege, as to escape they had to pass through dangerous areas where militias were fighting each other. All of these factors have resulted in Yemeni deaths and suffering, particularly in Aden, Lahj and Taiz. Whilst the actions of militias were often inhumane and brutal, it is more difficult to link this to genocidal intent, as all militia fighting on the ground is primarily designed to control through war rather than to eliminate any particular group within the population. Opposing militias were fighting each other, and additionally, these areas were also subject to air attacks by the Saudi coalition and the Saudi led blockade; hence it is far less clear where boundaries for responsibilities lie.
Meanwhile, in UK, the Disasters Emergency Committee has not yet had a charitable appeal to help the severe disaster that has been inflicted on Yemeni men, women and children. Politicians and the media are not telling it how it is. I find this inexplicable.


Forces loyal to the former Yemeni regime say they are being assisted by ground troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in their battle against Ansarullah fighters and allied forces from the army and the Popular Committees.
According to the loyalists of the regime of Yemen’s fugitive former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, the reinforcements supported them in an alleged Monday offensive to seize Yemen’s largest air base, al-Anad, located in the southwestern Yemen Lahij Province.
Pro-Hadi militnats claim they have seized the base. Ansarullah fighters and their allies, however, say they have repelled the attack and remain in control of the air base, located north of the strategic port city of Aden.
The London-based al-Hayat newspaper reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia had stationed 1,500 forces in southern Yemen, saying most of the deployed forces were from the UAE and had entered Yemen’s southern Aden Province.
Citing sources affiliated to Hadi, the daily said the forces had entered the province through al-Buraiqeh port to fight Ansarullah and Popular Committees.
It also reported that Riyadh had transferred heavy military equipment, such as tanks, personnel carriers and armored vehicles, to Hadi’s loyalists.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, continued pounding Yemen. Yemen’s official Saba Net news agency said Saudi airstrikes had killed four Yemeni civilians in the al-Ghayl district of Yemen’s northwestern province of al-Jawf.
The Al Saud regime launched its military aggression against Yemen – without a UN mandate – in a bid to undermine the Houthi Ansarullah movement and restore power to Hadi, an ally of Riyadh.
According to UN figures, the Saudi war has killed nearly 1,900 civilians since late March. However, local sources have given a much higher death toll.

Syria - Assad stronger than onset of Syria crisis

Despite a crisis that has gripped Syria since 2011, President Bashar al-Assad is even “stronger”, says a senior Iranian official.
“Today, Bashar al-Assad is surely stronger than four years ago when the crisis began and he resists against ISIL terrorists, who are the same former Ba'ath members,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, said Wednesday.
Iran is not “indifferent” towards what is happening in the Middle East and regardless of “the necessity for solidarity with regional countries, national security demands that we help them,” Velayati (seen below) noted.
“Undoubtedly, Iran backs demand(s) of the people in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.”
He further commented on a recent visit by US Secretary of State John Kerry to Qatar, where he held meetings and spoke about the situation in Syria.
Such measures would certainly not work without considering the people as the Syrian nation would do not give in to plots devised by the United States and other countries that “train terrorists themselves,” said the Iranian politician.
Syria has been battered by foreign-backed militancy, which has made it a haven for Takfiri terrorists to come together as ISIL.
Apart from various forms of support for the so-called moderate militants there, Washington and some of its allies use ISIL as a pretext to carry out airstrikes in the country.

Road to Damascus: Iran, Russia Offer New Security Map for Syria - Syrian MP

Prominent Syrian MP Khaled Al-Aboud told Sputnik’s Arabic service that a joint Russia-Iran effort may represent a real solution for the Syrian crisis.

Iran and Russia are working side by side to find a solution for the crisis in Syria, Khaled Al-Aboud, a member of the People’s Council of Syria, told Sputnik Arabic on Wednesday.
Al-Aboud’s comments come following Tehran’s announcement that it will submit to the UN a four-point plan on how to end the civil war in Syria. No further details were provided by Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian, who announced the plan. But Russia plays a key role in this process as well, Khaled Al-Aboud said.

“While Syria proves its steadfastness in the battlefield and prevents the progress of its enemies’ tools, Iran tries to find out a balance for all parties in the region, and therefore Iran is in contact with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey.

“Russia follows the suit of Iran, of another kind of equalization in the region, an overall of the regional political equalization. Russia goes towards having all parties, and it plays a key role in establishing an international equalization to receive all these political parties.

“We are witnessing a new ‘security map’ in the region where Russia, Iran and Syria is the head,” Al-Aboud told Sputnik.

He referred to the old “security map” designed by the United States, which, according to him, completely failed to bring peace to the region.

“We should highlight that the [Iranian] initiative came after the American administration failed to reach its main strategic goal for which it launched aggression in the region. I think that the main issue, the big plan of the Middle East, is behind our backs now. The United States does not have a “security map” any more. Therefore, it needs this Iranian initiative and Russia’s push.”

A fresh peace plan for Syria is sure to influence the state of affairs across the whole region, Al-Aboud argued.

“This initiative is not isolated from the ongoing regional and international events – it is based on the situation in the region. The milestone of the initiative is the Iranian nuclear agreement. What concerns the Syrian crisis, I think that some important changes will also happen in other crises as well: in Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, or Bahrain.”

Reflecting on the US’ role in the playing out of events in Syria, Mr. Al-Aboud noticed:
“We continue following the US scene in the region – the United States did not present a single solution for the crisis in Syria, ISIL is spread in the region. The only “card” the United States is proud of is that it trained the so-called ‘New Syrian Fighters’ to fight the so-called ‘terrorism.’

As well, the United States gave up on its ‘tools’ in the region, of the House of Saud (The Kingdom of the Saudi Arabia), and pressure Erdogan into some matters…”

Syria has been mired in a civil war since 2011, as government forces fight opposition and radical Islamist militant groups, including the Nusra Front and the self-proclaimed Islamic State. More than 220,000 people are believed to have been killed in the hostilities to date, with over 12 million displaced from their homes.

While the West has pushed for the government of President Bashar al-Assad to be changed, Moscow argues that Assad is the legitimate president of Syria, and that the Syrian people should be able to choose their government and leaders without outside intervention. Iran too has shown support for the Syrian government.
Moscow and Geneva have each hosted two rounds of talks between the Syrian opposition and state authorities.

Read more:

Music Video - Billy Joel - We Didn't Start the Fire

Hillary Clinton Attacks Jeb Bush over Women's Health: 'You Are Absolutely, Unequivocally Wrong'


The gloves are off. 

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton went after her Republican rival Jeb Bush on Twitter Tuesday, hours after he said, "I'm not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women's health issues," during a discussion on Planned Parenthood at a meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention. 

Responding to a Tweet quoting the former Florida governor, Clinton said: 

.@JebBush: You are absolutely, unequivocally wrong. 

Russia's Putin sends birthday telegram to President Obama

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his counterpart Barack Obama a card Tuesday to celebrate the U.S. president's 54th birthday.
Dmitry Peskov, Putin's spokesman told reporters, "a telephone conversation is not on schedule but a telegram has been sent," TASS reported.
The erratic relationship of the two world leaders has faced varying moods in recent months. The U.S. Treasury Department last week imposed additional sanctions against Russian entities and individuals working with the Kremlin's defense sector.
While Russia criticized Obama's decision to authorize airstrikes to protect Syrian rebels to protect Syrian rebels from the Islamic State, the U.S. president personally thanked Putin for his integral role in reaching a nuclear deal with Iran.
"Such conversations do not remove disputable issues and cannot do so. Nevertheless, they are at least rather useful from the point of view of demonstration of the preparedness to resolve disputable issues by way of dialogue, which is definitely satisfying," the Kremlin press service said in a statement, as reported by Russia Beyond the Headlines.
News reports said that Obama celebrated at Rose's Luxury, a Washington eatery named the country's best new restaurant in 2014. He was joined by his sister, his niece and close senior adviser -- and family friend -- Valerie Jarrett.

Video - President Obama FULL SPEECH on Iran Nuclear Deal - "Rejecting Iran nuclear deal is a vote for war"

U.S. - Obama Takes On Opponents of the Iran Deal

President Obama on Wednesday made a powerful case for the strong and effective nuclear agreement with Iran. In a speech at American University, he directly rebutted critics like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and rightly warned of the damage to global security if the Republican-led Congress rejects the agreement.
“If Congress kills this deal, we will lose more than just constraints on Iran’s nuclear deal or the sanctions we have painstakingly built,” he said. “We will have lost something more precious – America’s credibility as a leader of diplomacy. America’s credibility is the anchor of the international system.”
He debunked the notion that there was a better deal to be had if American negotiators and the allies — France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China — had demanded that Iran capitulate and completely dismantle all of its nuclear facilities. That was not going to happen. The truth is, if Congress rejects the deal when it votes in September, the robust web of multinational sanctions the administration persuaded other countries to impose on Iran will crumble and the only way to keep Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon will be war, he said.
Mr. Obama’s defense of the deal, which is designed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon in exchange for relief from sanctions, was blunt and forceful. He likened Republicans to Iranian hard-liners, saying both are more comfortable with the status quo.
Congressional Republicans, Mr. Netanyahu and other opponents have mounted a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign, including ads and a webcast on Tuesday by Mr. Netanyahu to American Jewish leaders in which he denounced the agreement as having “fatal flaws.”
Mr. Obama said he understood Israel’s security concerns and doesn’t doubt the sincerity of Mr. Netanyahu’s objections, but he believes the deal is in the interests of both America and Israel. Mr. Obama also promised to redouble American support for Israel’s security.
The speech was so trenchant because Mr. Obama ably connected the opposition to the Iran agreement to recent history. “If the rhetoric in these ads and the accompanying commentary sounds familiar, it should, for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal,” he said.
As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama opposed the Iraq war. Invading Iraq was a catastrophic mistake that destabilized the country and, more than anything, has enabled Iran to expand its influence in Iraq and in the region. Mr. Netanyahu, of course, was a strong supporter of the Iraq war and in September 2002 made that case in congressional testimony as a private citizen.
After 14 years of war, thousands of American and Iraqi lives lost and many thousands more people wounded, it is appalling that so many opponents of the Iran deal either would cavalierly support military action against Iran or are willing to risk it by rejecting the deal. This is an irrational posture, since, as Mr. Obama pointed out, he and future American presidents would be able to use force if Iran tries to build a bomb in coming years.
In putting the current situation into its proper context, Mr. Obama drew one crucial lesson from Iraq — the need to get beyond “a mind-set characterized by a preference for military action over diplomacy, a mind-set that put a premium on unilateral U.S. action over the painstaking work of building international consensus, a mind-set that exaggerated threats beyond what the intelligence supported.” Some members of Congress may not have learned that lesson after so many years of war, but surely the American public has.
After the speech, in a meeting with a small group of journalists, Mr. Obama said the possibility of war if the deal fails was a matter of logic. Though Iran may not attack the United States directly, it could threaten American troops in Iraq with Shiite militias there, threaten Israel with rocket attacks by Hezbollah or send a suicide bomber in a small craft against American naval ships in the Strait of Hormuz, he said.
Despite fierce opposition, Mr. Obama expressed confidence the deal would get through Congress, even if by the slimmest of margins. After nearly seven years in office and lots of tough decisions, he said, “I’ve never been more certain that this is sound policy.”

Persian Music - Alireza Ghaderi - Gul pari joon

Persian Music - Wajiha Rastagar - وجیهه رستگار: گل بارانی

Pashto Music - Naghma: Watana - نغمه: وطنه

Pashto Music - Rasha janana wraz da didan dah

Afghan music Video - Jaani

Afghanistan: sharp rise in women and children casualties in first half of 2015

UN reveals 1,591 civilians killed and 3,329 wounded as war enters its 14th year, as fighting in residential areas and greater role of militias contribute to increase.

 The war in Afghanistan is killing or wounding increasing numbers of civilians, with women and children showing the sharpest rise in casualties as it enters its 14th year, according to new figures from the UN.
“Afghan civilians have suffered far too long from this destructive conflict. The devastating consequences of this violence against civilians as documented in this report should serve to strengthen the broad conviction that peace is urgently needed,” said Nicholas Haysom, head of the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan.
The first six months of 2015 saw 13% rise in child casualties compared with the same period last year and a 23% increase in the number of women killed or injured. Total casualties were up 1% from record levels seen in 2014, with 1,591 civilians killed and 3,329 wounded.
The numbers reveal the war’s changing dynamics. After the end of Nato’s combat mission, Afghan government forces are fighting with less airpower and material support.
As a result, the conflict has moved closer to residential areas, where the warring parties are fighting with indiscriminate weapons such as mortars, rockets and grenades. In fact, government forces are responsible for most casualties, 59%, caused by this type of weapons.
Mortars were, for instance, used on 5 June when Afghan national army soldiers accidentally hit a wedding party on the outskirts of Ghazni, killing eight children. The UN describes how the security forces subsequently gave contradictory explanations, in a sign of a troubling lack of transparency from the government’s side.
While insurgents are still responsible for the majority of civilian casualties, government security forces killed or injured almost 300 more civilians compared to the first half of 2014, which amounts to a 60% spike. In total, pro-government forces caused 16% of civilian casualties, of which international forces are responsible for 1%.
The war’s main killers remain improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and ground engagements. However, a rise in suicide bombings and complex attacks also helps to explain why women and children suffer more than ever.
In April, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up outside Kabul Bank on the main street of Jalalabad, killing at least 35 and injuring 125. Mohammad Naeem, 25, heard the explosion, and rushed to the scene, knowing his father worked in the vicinity.
“When I came to the bank, I saw a lot of dead bodies – men, children, women, old people. I found my father. His body was in several pieces. I found his leg and hands in different places,” Naeem told the Guardian over the phone.
“After I found my father’s body, I walked around the dead bodies like a crazy man,” he said. “There are 16 people in my family, and my father was feeding all of them.”
The Jalalabad bombing targeted queuing government workers, whom the Taliban – contrary to international law – don’t consider civilians. In the first half of 2015, the Taliban claimed 36 attacks on civilian government officials and 18 on judges, prosecutors and judicial staff.
“This report lays bare the heart-rending, prolonged suffering of civilians in Afghanistan, who continue to bear the brunt of the armed conflict and live in insecurity and uncertainty over whether a trip to a bank, a tailoring class, to a court room or a wedding party, may be their last,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.
With shifting dynamics, the war is also widening geographically. Since spring, the Taliban have sustained an offensive in the north, targeting especially Kunduz province.
The government is increasingly turning to irregular militias for help. But these forces have acted with impunity, says the UN, committing “deliberate killings, assaults, extortion, intimidation and property theft”. In total, militias account for 11% of civilian casualties caused by pro-government forces.
Abdurrezaq, a village elder from Gur Tepa in Kunduz, told the Guardian that the militias did not bring security. They only increased the chance of getting caught in the crossfire. “Our houses are destroyed but who should we complain to? We are victims of both sides.”

Afghanistan - 4,000 Soldiers Desert Their Posts Monthly: Gen. Campbell

General John F. Campbell, the Resolute Support Mission and the U.S. Forces commander in Afghanistan, said on Tuesday that at least 4,000 Afghan security force members are deserting their posts every month.
Speaking at a question and answer session titled Afghanistan's Future at the Brooking Institution in Washington DC, Campbell criticized senior security officials in Afghanistan and said the main reason for troops deserting was because of a lack of a proper management of army and police personnel in the country.

But on a lighter note he said the Taliban has no other way except to join the peace process because they will not be able to topple the Afghan government through war.

"The number of Taliban insurgents that have been killed [this year] is probably three or four times higher than it was last year. The Afghan security forces are becoming casualties but again they inflict a lot of casualties. I think we do see signs of fracturing in the battlefield from the leadership, lack of supplies and lack of money," he said.

He said the Taliban are tired of war and suggested they join the peace process.

According to Campbell, the Taliban had realized now the need for joining the peace process because the Afghan government was not going to fall to the Taliban.

Talking about the ability of the Taliban, he said "They are not taking territory they are not meeting any strategic level goals that they set out. They are going to take a district and they are going to lose it. They are going to take another district center but they are going to lose it."

He stressed: "They [Taliban] are competing against Daesh now in parts of Afghanistan. Daesh pays more money to recommend to Daesh and takeaway from the Taliban."

Meanwhile, an advisor to the four-star American general, who was also present at the session, noted the death of Taliban's supreme leader Mullah Omar had further paved grounds for the peace process
"With regards to Mullah Omar, what is important is that all sides continue to try to push towards peace," Campbell's political advisor Matt Sherman said. "I think that is the real drive that will continue."

He however continued to say that peace would not happen in near future as he said the process would take years.

The remarks come as the National Unity Government (NUG) has no defense minister almost a year since it took power after a disputed election. Also, the parliamentarians have gone on summer recess while the war is going on in northern and other parts of Afghanistan.

Afghan President Possesses Pakistani CNIC

In a stunning development, it has come to light that incumbent Afghan President, Asharf Ghani possesses a Pakistani Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC).
This revelation was made by Malik Dilmurad Hasni, member of district council Chagai, during a meeting of the district council.
Mr. Hasni presented copies of the CNIC issued to Afghan President during district council Chagai.
It was also revealed that former Afghan guerilla command late Ahmad Shah Masood also holds a Pakistani CNIC.
District council members severally criticized National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) for its incompetence and lack of check and balance mechanisms.
NADRA officials in the past have confessed to have issued illegal CNICs to hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees.