Sunday, June 28, 2015

Video Music - Timmy T - One More Try

Video - Thousands Flood NY Streets For Pride Parade

Video Report - Iranian FM Zarif returns to Tehran, will get back to talks soon

Video - Never mess with disabled parking in Brazil or face this

Former US State Secretary: Russian ex-PM Primakov was true Russian patriotic

He was a true Russian patriotic, who defended the interests of his country with courage and wisdom and was also creative in seeking ways to improve relations with other countries, Henry Kissinger says.
Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has conveyed his condolences over the death of Russian former Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov on Friday.
"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a great friend and colleague, Yevgeny Primakov," he said in a statement. "Over the years, I have enjoyed countless conversations with him about global issues, US-Russian relations, and life in general.
"He was a true Russian patriotic, who defended the interests of his country with courage, vigor, and wisdom, but who was also creative in seeking ways to improve relations with other countries, including most importantly the United States. At a time of increasing global turmoil, we will all miss his wise counsel and good humor. I will miss a true friend," Kissinger said.

Syrian Music Video - وردة البغدادية كليب ♥

'Malala of Syria': The inspiring story of one girl's fight to educate refugees

By Nick Thompson and Jonathan Hawkins

It's 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday in this part of the vast, rust-colored expanse of the Jordanian desert, and Mazoun Almellehan doesn't have time to think about all the things she's lost. She's thinking about what comes next.

She's studying English, she says, and taking a computer course. Class is out for the summer, but she's hoping to get ahold of next year's curriculum and books to get a head start on next year.

Mazoun's favorite subject -- although one senses she thoroughly enjoys them all -- is science. "When we learn about science, we learn more about the world around us," she announces with a smile, before almost forgetting her other favorite subject: "Oh, and English of course!"

It is rare to meet a 16-year-old girl with such pure, unbridled enthusiasm for life and the opportunities that lie ahead. It is rarer still to meet such a girl in a desolate refugee camp 62 miles from the Syrian border.

Mazoun left everything behind and fled with her parents and three younger siblings to Jordan when Syria's civil war began to close in on their village in Daraa in 2013.

The family spent a year in Jordan's crowded, often chaotic Zaatari refugee camp, before moving to the quieter, better equipped camp in Azraq just over a year ago.

Today Mazoun's family shares a dim 250 square-foot galvanized steel box in this purpose-built camp, where around 60 displaced people arrive every day.

But that's not what Mazoun is focused on today. Perched on the edge of a desk in her makeshift classroom at Azraq, she wonders how many of her classmates will be rejoining her when school is back in session in September.

Early marriage has soared amongst Syrian refugees in Jordan in the past three years, rising from 18% in 2012 to roughly a third of all marriages involving a Syrian refugee in 2014, according to UNICEF.

And as Syria's long, brutal civil war grinds on with no end in sight, desperate displaced Syrians are increasingly seeing early marriage as a way to secure the social and financial future of their daughters.

"If you're a parent and you see an opportunity for your child that may take care of them financially, it's an extremely difficult decision," says UNICEF field officer Stephen Allen. "And it's not a choice you would normally make, but some parents are choosing to go that route."

The Malala of Syria

Mazoun thinks they're making a big mistake. For two years she has been going door to door in the camps, waging a one-girl campaign to convince parents to keep their daughters in school instead of pressuring them into wedlock.

"Many families they think that if they get their daughters at a young early age, they'll be protected. They don't know that something that might go wrong -- and if the marriage fails, the daughter will be vulnerable."

"Education is very important because it's the shield we can use to protect ourselves in life. It's our method to solve our problems," she says. "If we don't have education, we can't defend ourselves."

Mazoun has been called the "Malala of Syria" for her crusade to keep girls in school, a reference to the teenage Pakistani education activist who survived a Taliban attack on her school bus in 2012.

In February 2014, Malala Yousafzai visited Mazoun in Zaatari. And Mazoun flew to Oslo to see Yousafzai pick up the Nobel Peace Prize in December.

Mazoun's eyes light up as she describes her friendship with the world's most famous education activist.

"I'm so proud to be called the 'Malala of Syria,'" she says. "Malala's a very dedicated, strong person who faced huge difficulties in her life trying to promote education. So that gives me a huge motivation to do more."

But Yousafzai seems equally impressed with Mazoun. "When I went to her camp it was great meeting her," she recalled in a UNHCR YouTube interview last year. "She also has great dreams for her country. She wants her country to be peaceful, she wants to see peace in every corner of Syria. "

The bottom of the barrel
Over the past four years Jordan says it has opened its doors to 1.4 million Syrian people displaced by the civil war engulfing the country, although only 630,000 are registered with the U.N. refugee agency.

Education is just one of the many problems facing these Syrians, and observers say the conditions are getting bleaker by the day.

Last week, Jordan announced it had received just 12% of the $1.9 billion it says it needs to support the Syrians it has taken in.

"The international community can count on Jordan to continue doing its part," said Jordanian Planning Minister Imad Fakhoury. "But we cannot be left alone in this effort."

Earlier this year, budget shortfalls forced the World Food Bank to cut food aid to the 80% of Syrian refugees living outside the camps in Jordan.

Funding was left intact for the camps, but UNICEF says everyone has had to tighten their belts.

"Things are worse now than they were last year inside the camps. We can maintain standard services here, but people's supplementary resources are more stretched," Stephen Allen says. "Four years in, they're at the bottom of the barrel."

"They're spending their savings, they've sold off some of their assets, and whatever support they had coming in from relatives has now dried up."

A place of refuge
Fifty-five percent of the estimated 14,000 people living in Azraq are children. One of the main challenges is finding a productive way for them to spend their days.

In a playground down the road from the school, the familiar sound of children rocking on swings, playing basketball and horsing around rings out across the grounds.

This Makani -- "my space" in Arabic -- is a kid-friendly refuge from the daily stresses of camp life, according to Mohammed Abulawi, program manager for the International Medical Corps in Azraq.

"These children suffered on their journey to the border," Abulawi says. "Many of them have post-traumatic stress syndrome -- they've lost their friends, their families, and some of them just want to be alone."

"We're trying to build a bond between children and improve their coping skills. We want this to be a place where kids can express the emotions and the feelings that they've kept inside for a long time."

Like many of the people in this camp, Hamman, a quiet, skinny 12-year-old boy, came from Daraa.

"I miss swimming the most," he says softly. "I miss everything in Syria."

Amid the din of children of playtime at the Makani, another child, this one wearing a dirty black baseball cap, sits in silence reading a book.

"It's the story of the mouse," Faisal, 15, explains. "It's about a small mouse who finds out that his family has been eaten by a big cat."

Faisal has been in Azraq for six months. He's from Ghouta, the Damascus suburb where a sarin gas attack killed hundreds of people -- many of them children -- in the summer of 2013, according to the U.N.

"Mostly I miss my village," he says. "Our house is there, all of my friends are there."

Faisal doesn't go to formal school in the camp, instead preferring to attend informal lessons at the Makani. When he grows up, he wants to be an English teacher.

A place fit for hyenas
Of the 220,000 school age Syrian children in Jordan registered with UNHCR -- the actual figure is almost certainly much higher -- 130,000 of them are enrolled in formal education. That leaves 90,000 who are not.

Mazoun Almellehan takes us to visit one of these children. For the past year Sharouk, 15, has lived with her mother and two siblings in a white housing container not far from the playground.

Their father stayed behind in Syria. Manahel, Sharouk's mother, says she can only afford enough phone credit to call her husband once a month.

Abdullah, Sharouk's 13-year-old brother, is the stand-in father figure for the family. He doesn't go to school, and forbade her from going too. This suits Sharouk just fine -- she doesn't like to leave the house anyway.

Manahel says she wants her children to go to school, and hopes they'll have a better life in the future, though it's difficult for her to envision that right now.

"It's not possible here," she says. "What can we say about Azraq? It's a piece of desert -- no one lives in a place like this, not even hyenas."

But Mazoun has been visiting the family lately, and two weeks ago she managed to convince Sharouk -- and her brother -- that she needs to go back to class in September.

"Mazoun explained how education is very important for our future," Sharouk says quietly. "I did know it (before), but she convinced me even more."

Abdullah, on the other hand, is going to take more convincing. "I will speak to him more," Mazoun says. "And I will keep speaking to him and his sister until they both go to school."

One eye on the future
Last Saturday, on World Refugee Day, UNHCR chief António Guterres announced that nearly 60 million people had fled their homes in 2014 -- the highest figure since records began.

But even in the face of such grim news, Mazoun strikes a more confident tone.

"Nobody knows what's going to happen in the future, but we should always have hope, we should always be optimistic," she says. "We try to change the future to make it fit for our lives, that's the only thing we can do."

And what does the future hold for Mazoun?

"I want to be a journalist," she says with a grin. "It's a very beautiful job, in my opinion."

Did Turkey help ISIS grab Anbar as well?

İlnur Çevik

We human beings have a weakness in that whenever something happens to us we immediately try to find someone at fault and never think for a moment that we may be faulty ourselves. For long years people in Turkey tried to blame "outside powers" for the Kurdish problem in Turkey and held outsiders responsible for giving material as well as moral support to the Kurdish separatist terrorists (PKK). We did not even bother to think that the Kurdish problem was a homegrown issue and that we also may be at fault for this problem to blow out of proportions. Now the pro-Kurdish People's Democracy Party (HDP) is making the same mistake regarding the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani, claiming Turkey helped religious radicals attack the town again last week.

Earlier in the year the northern Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani came under the attack of the militants of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS or DAESH) and the town was about to fall into the hands of the radicals. ISIS simply knocked out the defenses of the Kurdish fighters called the YPG, which is the military wing of the Kurdish political entity called the New Democracy Movement (YDH), which is the extension of our PKK in Syria… Most YPG fighters are those who were holed up with the PKK in the northern Iraqi mountain of Kandil.

Turkey extended humanitarian help to the town's people and received about 200,000 refugees from the area. Meanwhile, Turkey allowed the Barzani forces from Iraqi Kurdistan to transit its territory and enter Kobani to save the YDH. With the help of the aerial attacks by the coalition forces led by the U.S., the Kurds gained the upper hand in Kobani and flushed out ISIS. Then with the help of the coalition they continued making gains, recently capturing Tal Abyad near the Turkish border. During the Kobani crisis the HDP again accused the Turkish government of paying lip service to ISIS and helping them against the Kurds of Syria. The HDP asked people to take to the streets and in the ensuing events more than 50 people died in the streets of Turkey…

Last week ISIS militants attacked Kobani again and wreaked havoc in the town, killing more than 200 people. The HDP claimed Turkey allowed ISIS to slip into Kobani from its own territory… It seems the HDP officials did not even bother to think that the border is watched closely by everyone, including the Americans, and if something did happen like this, Turkey would never be able to get away with this shame. In fact American officials when asked about the incident said Turkey is effectively cooperating against ISIS.

It is clear that ISIS entered the town in a three-pronged attack from Syrian territory and that the YDH had a security lapse or is not as in control of the area as it claims. The Syrian Kurds should seek the fault with themselves, and the HDP should stop acting like the extension of the YDH and PKK alliance in Turkey. ISIS is doing this all the time. They are boldly attacking Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens all the time. When the Iraqi central government was bragging about taking back Tikrit and aiming to recapture Mosul, wasn't it the ISIS radicals who shocked everyone by grabbing a huge chunk of the country when they captured Anbar province? So should we say Turkey was behind ISIS gaining in Anbar or should we say these Iraqis only have themselves to blame for all this mess? The HDP is now in Parliament with the votes of many Turks. It should start acting like the party of Turkey and not the extension of the YDH…

Analysis: Stop the hypocrisy and defeat Islamic State

The immediate knee-jerk reaction to Friday’s three-pronged terrorist onslaught was to tell the international community, “Enough. Stop the hypocrisy.”
The day was one of the most difficult failures ever experienced in the global campaign against terrorism. More specifically, it was a failure in the effort to stop the phenomenon known as Islamic State.

Nearly 100 people were killed in supposedly unrelated terrorist attacks. Thirty-seven tourists – mostly Germans and British – were killed in a resort on the Tunisian coast.

Attacks also claimed the lives of 27 Shi’ite worshipers in a mosque in Kuwait; one man in France who was decapitated; and 30 soldiers from Burundi who were serving in a peacekeeping capacity in Somalia. That’s almost 100 people on three different continents in four countries.

All of the evidence points to ISIS, which took responsibility for the attacks in Tunisia, France and Kuwait. In Somalia, the perpetrators are terrorists belonging to the local outfit al-Shabaab, whose leaders are torn between swearing allegiance to al-Qaida or making common cause with ISIS.

From the Western point of view, there is no significant difference between the two. Both are seen as murderous organizations that have targeted the West, Arab governments, moderate Muslims, Shi’ites and Sunnis.

They are also seen as one and the same by other religions and ethnic minorities in the Middle East, particularly Kurds, Druse and TUI, said they had about 6,400 customers across Tunisia at the time of the attack, including several of the people killed and wounded.

They sent 10 planes to evacuate tourists and said 1,000 already had been repatriated. They also said they would cancel all their holiday packages to Tunisia for at least the next week.

TUI’s German tour operator TUI also organized flights for tourists wishing to return home and its Belgian airline, Jetairfly, sent six empty planes to bring tourists back from the island of Djerba and from Ennfida airport on Saturday.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier confirmed one German had been killed, but said there may be others.

Tobias Ellwood, a junior minister at the Foreign Office in London, told reporters in London the British death toll could rise, since there were several who had been seriously wounded.

“This is the most significant terrorist attack on British people since 7/7,” he said, referring to attacks on the London transport system on July 7, 2005, that killed 52 people.

Tunisian authorities said the gunman was not on any watch-list of potential terrorists. But one source said Rezgui appeared to have been radicalized over the last six months by Islamist recruiters.

As one countermeasure, Prime Minister Essid said Tunisia plans, within a week, to close down 80 mosques that remain outside state control for inciting violence.

Several thousand Tunisian jihadists have gone to fight in Syria, Iraq and neighboring Libya, where some have set up training camps and vowed to return to attack their homeland.

Meanwhile, Kuwait detained the owner of a car that took a bomber to a Shi’ite mosque to carry out the country’s worst ever terrorist attack, officials said on Saturday, as thousands calling for national unity turned out to bury some of the 27 killed.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing against 2,000 worshipers praying at the Imam al-Sadeq Mosque on Friday. Officials said the bombing was clearly meant to stir enmity between majority Sunnis and minority Shi’ites and harm the comparatively harmonious ties between the sects in Kuwait.

In a statement, the information ministry said Kuwait would faced the situation with “unity and solidarity.”

It reiterated what it called the government’s strong stance on the freedom of religion and opinion, noting these were rights protected by the constitution.

The Interior Ministry, which reported the vehicle owner’s arrest, said it was now looking for the driver who vanished shortly after Friday’s blast in Kuwait, which has been spared the rampant violence of neighboring Iraq and the recent spate of Islamic State bombings of Shi’ite mosques in Saudi Arabia, another neighbor.

A security source told Reuters “numerous arrests” had been made in connection with Friday’s bombing.

At the burial site in the Sulaibikhat district, some waved Kuwaiti flags while others bore the large mourning banners, in red, black or green, that are typical of Shi’ite funerals.

Chants from the crowd included “Brothers of Sunni and Shia, we will not sell out our country;” “No Sunni, no Shia, we are one Islam;” “The martyrs are the beloved of God;” and “Down with Daesh! Down with Daesh,” an acronym for Islamic State.

One group of mourners said they had traveled from Qatif in Saudi Arabia, where 21 people were killed by an Islamic State suicide bombing in May.

Two Iranian nationals were among those killed, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham was quoted as saying by Iranian state media on Saturday.

Relatives of seven of those killed wept and prayed over their shrouded corpses at a mosque on Saturday, where they were waiting to be taken to the Shi’ite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in Iraq for burial.

In France, a delivery man with known Islamist connections beheaded his boss and left the body, daubed with Arabic writing, at the site of a US-owned gas factory in southeast France before trying to blow up the complex.

The assailant rammed his delivery van into a warehouse containing gas canisters, triggering an initial explosion, and was arrested minutes later as he tried to open canisters containing flammable chemicals, prosecutors said on Friday.

Police found the head of the victim, the 54-year-old manager of the transport firm that employed the suspect, dangling from a fence.

“The head was discovered hanging on the factory’s wire fence, framed by two flags that included references to the shahada, or [Muslim] profession of faith,” Paris public prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference.

France is still coming to terms with attacks by Islamist gunmen who killed 17 people in January at a satirical weekly newspaper and a Jewish food store.

“There should be no doubt as to our country’s ability to protect itself and remain vigilant,” said President François Hollande, returning to Paris from an EU summit in Brussels.

Hollande said there were inscriptions on the headless body, and police sources said they were in Arabic, but officials did not reveal their content.

No group claimed responsibility for the French attack and the motive was unknown.

The attacker was injured in the blast and arrested at the site. His wife, sister, and a third person were taken into custody for questioning.

Police questioned employees for several hours at the transport company run by the victim and seized the suspect’s car.

A cleaner at a neighboring business described the victim of the attack as a friendly and polite man, “always saying good morning or good evening and have a nice weekend to his staff.”

France, which has contributed aircraft to the international coalition fighting Islamic State insurgents in Iraq, has long been named on Islamist sites as a primary target for attacks.

The site of Friday’s attack belonged to Air Products , a US industrial gases and chemicals company. It was immediately ring-fenced by police and emergency services.

The company’s chairman and chief executive is Seifi Ghasemi, who in 2011 testimony to a US Senate committee described himself as Iranian- born. Mainly Shi’ite Iran is a sworn enemy of Sunni-dominated Islamic State.

There is no evidence the three attacks were deliberately coordinated.

But coming so close together on the same day on three different continents they underscored the far-reaching and fast-growing influence of Islamic State, Western politicians said.

The ultra-radical group, which has claimed direct responsibility for the Kuwait attack, clearly now poses a threat far beyond its heartland in Syria and Iraq.

It urged its followers this week to escalate attacks against Christians, as well as Shi’ites and Sunnis fighting with the US-led coalition.

On June 23, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani urged jihadists to turn the holy month of Ramadan into a time of “calamity for the infidels... Shi’ites and apostate Muslims.

“Be keen to conquer in this holy month and to become exposed to martyrdom.”

The Pentagon was looking into “whether or not these various and far-flung attacks were coordinated centrally or whether or not they were coincidental,” spokesman Col. Steve Warren said, noting Islamic State had claimed responsibility for one attack.

The US State Department said later there was no indication they were coordinated on a tactical level, but were clearly all terrorist attacks.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said police should be vigilant and prepared, especially ahead of the US Independence Day holiday on July 4.

Britain, which said at least five of its nationals were among those killed in Tunisia, summoned its emergency committee to discuss that attack and the one in France.

“This is a threat that faces all of us, these events that have taken place today in Tunisia and France, but they can happen anywhere – we all face this threat,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters.

Deprived of ‘checkbook diplomacy’ in Yemen and Syria, Saudi Arabia flounders

By David Hartwell

The latest series of WikiLeaks cables have once again embarrassed the Saudi government and forced it on to the diplomatic defensive. The cables, over half a million documents said to have come from the Saudi Foreign Ministry, contain titillating details about how Riyadh operates — but no smoking guns related to nuclear enrichment or other issues of global fascination.
What these cables do show is Saudi Arabia’s overwhelming desire to prevent the public from seeing how it uses its “soft” power assets — its oil and financial largesse — to persuade strategic allies and major powers to support its foreign policy goals. Successive Saudi monarchs have relied on this indirect strategy for decades, as it has delivered domestic political stability and maintained Riyadh’s status as a major regional power. However, the recent examples of Syria and Yemen, where Riyadh has been forced to take the foreign policy lead — delivering inconclusive, confusing and unpredictable results — show that when the Saudis are forced to implement their foreign policy objectives by diplomatic or military means, they struggle to manage the fallout.
Nevertheless, the newly released cables reinforce Saudi Arabia’s willingness to use its financial muscle to achieve its goals — an approach that could be described as “checkbook diplomacy” — and its ongoing preoccupation with attempting to push back the influence of regional rivalIran. The cables reveal the dependence of some Sunni and Christian Lebanese politicians on Saudi financial largesse, money Riyadh makes available to counter the influence of Iranian disbursements to Hezbollah and other pro-Tehran factions in Beirut. They make public an idea to pay Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood $10 billion in exchange for a guarantee that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a former Saudi ally, would not go to prison, a plan Riyadh aborted after diplomats objected to paying what amounted to a “ransom” and the realization that the Brotherhood could not or would not offer any such guarantee against Mubarak’s imprisonment. Finally, they expose Saudi attempts to manage the potential media fallout of diplomatic efforts to persuade Russia to abandon its support for the Assad regime in Syria.
These issues are consistent with Riyadh’s foreign policy objectives since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. In subsequent years, Saudi monarchs have sought to contain opposition at home and ensure that countries like Egypt remain allies — while using opportunities like the conflicts in Syria and Yemen to reaffirm or expand its regional influence at the expense of Iran.
Riyadh remains committed to both removing the Assad regime and defeating Iran. However, Saudi efforts to convince the United States and others that this goal is as urgent as defeating Islamic State, or that it will somehow contribute to the weakening of Islamic State, have found little traction.
From the Saudi perspective, the United States and its allies have dithered enough over Syria and are unable to define exactly what they want to achieve, leaving the conflict at a stalemate. At least Riyadh can claim to be changing the dynamics of the conflict, although arguably not in a way that will allow Syria to be reconstituted and rebuilt unless Islamic State is defeated. While the Saudi approach seems to be “remove Assad first, ask questions later,” the United States, scarred by its experience in Iraq when it took a similar course of action, is wary that, once and if Assad is removed, the Saudis will leave other countries to manage the fallout.
Likewise and perhaps even more so in Yemen, Saudi policy goals have become muddied and unpredictable. When Riyadh launched Operation Decisive Storm (since renamed Operation Restoring Hope) in March, it expected that after a short but powerful military campaign, the Houthis would surrender and the Saudi-backed President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi would return to power. Yet today, the Saudi-led offensive continues and Riyadh is no closer to achieving this goal.
The WikiLeaks cables revealed how Riyadh wants to shape the Middle East, often in a way that highlights its double standards and disagreements with allies. While this may not be viewed as controversial from a Western perspective — where cynicism and scepticism about states’ motives is built into foreign policy analysis — for a country like Saudi Arabia that is sensitive to the way its government is perceived, both internally and externally, the WikiLeaks exposures will continue to embarrass the House of Saud.


‘Post-Withdrawal Afghanistan’ And US – OpEd

The post-2014 condition in Afghanistan, after the disengagement of the US-NATO-International Security Assistance Force, has been a matter of serious debate. The main trouble lies in foreseeing the genuine aspirations of sundry actors involved in the Afghan predicament, particularly of the US.
The US, without any proper strategy, has been unable to figure out the shamble in Afghanistan, for which it is to some extent accountable. As a result, the it has sabotaged the entire region through ‘defective’ strategies. The only ‘trophy’ that it can avow is the elimination of Osama bin Laden. Otherwise, the ‘terrorism’ that the Americans came to eradicate has increased, not decreased.
The exodus of foreign forces from Afghanistan, especially its extent and pace, presents a wide range of acceptance. The cognizance gap between the American-led alliance and the Taliban-led Afghan resistance groups are rather wide. Both are ecstatic about a respective victory. America is looking for at least, a figurative residual force, while political resistance groups are asking for a total disengagement. The Afghan National Security Forces’ dearth requisite capacity and potential to carry out orders after the withdrawal of foreign forces, elevate the phantom of a civil war seaping into Pakistan.
America’s Afghanistan policy is pinned around deliberate ambivalence. This ambiguity has given rise to a conjectural condition edifice based on various degrees of a rollback of American influence, viz. total hands off, partial military disengagement, complete military withdrawal and yet detention of economic and political impact of varying degrees are some of the presumptions on which most of the suppositions are hinged.
America’s core interest has now shifted to East Asia. Whatever the prospects of foreseeable objectives, Afghanistan is now of fringe interest to America. The United States has a powerful remote intelligence, surveillance, and strike capabilities that could only be dreamed of in the 1990s. These capabilities increasingly can be engaged from “stand-off” distances. Some of these potentials require localized basing, but Afghanistan is not the only country that can provide inconspicuous basing options. Eleven years of an immense quiet intelligence endeavor partnered with Afghans and Pakistanis have created a nexus of friendly contacts that will be continued long after 2014. In some ways, the post-2014 milieu in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area could extend into a prolonged “intelligence war,” with hundreds of US operatives and billions of furtive dollars invested in avert further terrorist attacks on the United States.
The Afghan National Security Forces can possibly preserve this stand-off, but only as long as the US Congress pays the multibillion-dollar annual bills needed to keep them fighting. The war will thus become a bout in stamina between the US Congress and the Taliban. Unless Congress shows more tolerance than the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, funding for the ANSF will eventually dwindle until Afghan forces can no longer control their ground, and at that point, the country could easily plunge into mayhem. If it does, the war will be lost. A policy of simply handing off an ongoing war to an Afghan government that cannot support troops needed to win is thus not a strategy for a “responsible end” to the conflict; it is closer to what the Nixon administration was willing to accept in the final stages of the Vietnam War, a “decent interval” between the United States’ departure and the eventual defeat of its local confederate.
There are only two real alternatives to this, neither of them gratifying. One is to get serious about negotiations with the Taliban. This is no elixir, but it is the only option to outright defeat. To its kudos, the Obama administration has pursued such talks for over a year. What it has not done is spend the political capital needed for an actual deal. A settlement the US could live with would require hard political engineering both in Kabul and on Capitol Hill, yet the administration has not followed through.
The other plausible approach is for the US to cut its losses and completely leave Afghanistan, leaving behind no consultative presence and reducing its aid considerably. Outright disengagement might damage US stature, but so too would a slow-motion genre of the same defeat—only at a greater cost in blood and treasure. And although a speedy US departure would cost many Afghans their lives and freedoms, continuing to fight could simply delay such an outcome and risk the sacrifice of more American lives in a lost cause.
The current administration in Kabul is seriously venturing toward open dialogue with the resistance forces. It appears that a lot of preliminary work has been done in this regard. Pakistan is not only supporting the dialogue process, but also has considerable involvement in initiating it, with the US also endorsing the proposal. There is a paradox, though. On the one hand, the parties to the confrontation are being persuade to sit for negotiations, and on the other, the US is being advised to detain the evacuation of its forces.
Considering that the key demand of the resistance movement is a complete withdrawal of all foreign forces, it remains to be seen how the talk’s initiative will pan out. If the resistance forces agree to conduct a meaningful dialogue, they would want iron-clad guarantees that the departure time frame would be uppermost on the agenda. In all probability, the resistance would agree to full-scale open talks only when the time frame issue has been resolved in secret negotiations.

India’s Armed Drone Fleet