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U.S. Spy Agencies ‘Pessimistic’ About Trump’s War Strategy in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 31, 2018)

The U.S. military and intelligence officials are at odds over the direction of the war in Afghanistan, creating a new source of friction as President Trump and his team seek a way to end the 17-year-old conflict in the country, the Wall Street Journal reported citing American officials.

Citing people familiar with a continuing classified assessment, the Wall Street Journal said that the U.S. Intelligence officials have a pessimistic view of the conflict, while military commanders are challenging that conclusion by arguing that Mr. Trump’s South Asia strategy is working.

The divisions come as the Trump administration is sending a new U.S. general to Kabul to oversee international forces carrying the strategy that has yet to produce much measurable progress in Afghanistan.

The report said that there is broad consensus that the trajectory of the war hasn’t significantly shifted over the year that Trump’s strategy has been in effect.

While the official military view of Afghanistan is “cautiously optimistic,” some of these people told WSJ that the intelligence view is “cautiously pessimistic.” That has led to intensive discussions about how to frame the next assessment of the war in Afghanistan that will be presented to Mr. Trump in the coming months.

Some officials overseeing the war are concerned that a negative intelligence assessment could prompt Mr. Trump to shift course and abandon a strategy he reluctantly embraced last year that sent thousands of additional American troops to Afghanistan, the report said.

According to the report, some U.S. officials believe fighting is still at a stalemate. The infusion of new American troops, increased from 8,000 to about 14,000, may have blunted Taliban momentum in some areas, but it has not decisively turned the tide in favor of the U.S. and Afghanistan, the report said citing people familiar with the ongoing analysis.

An escalation in U.S. airstrikes has failed to seriously disrupt the Taliban’s financial lifelines; and Mr. Trump’s decision to increase the number of American troops hasn’t fundamentally altered battlefield dynamics, the report said citing the current and former U.S. officials.

The WSJ report, meanwhile, said that Afghanistan’s internal political dynamics. Partisan, regional and ethnic divisions are creating fissures as the country prepares for a presidential election next year.

That cumulative evidence is fueling the pessimistic views in the intelligence community, the report said.

According to WSJ, the U.S. Military officials have argued that more intangible benchmarks, such as the successful cease-fire in June that fueled optimism, should also be considered in evaluating the war.

The June cease-fire was a sign that the Taliban leadership was serious about peace talks, military officials told WSJ; and U.S. officials have met with Taliban political leaders at least three times since Mr. Trump took office, the report said.

The summer’s optimism has given way to grim realities in Afghanistan. Mr. Mattis said the president’s approach is working. “We think there are positive reasons to stick with the strategy, and we are going to drive this to a negotiated settlement,” he said as cited by WSJ.

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Ghani orders establishment of new council to empower Afghan women

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2020)

President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday signed a decree to establish is High Council for Women aimed at empowering Afghan women.

“President Ashraf Ghani, in accordance with the national constitution, issued a decree to establish the Women’s High Council,” the president’s office said in a statement.

According to the statement, the Council will be led by Ghani and will focus on “women empowerment ensuring women’s rights.”

“The Council will be led by H.E the President and will focus on women empowerment, ensuring women’s rights, increasing coordination with our international partners, and better policy execution,” the statement said.

Based on the decree 26 representatives from different sectors of society will be members of the Council.

“Based on the decree, including the female deputy provincial governors, women advocates, and civil activists, 26 representatives from governmental entities and non-government organizations will be the members of the Council,” read the statement.

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Historical Takhar school gutted in blaze

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2020)

The historical Abus Osman Taloqani High School in Takhar province was believed to have been intentionally set on fire on Thursday, local officials confirmed.

Abu Osman Taloqani High School, in the provincial capital Taloqan, was destroyed in the blaze.

Currently about 3,000 students are registered at the education facility.

Footage on social media Thursday showed how chairs, desks, documents, and books inside the building were completely destroyed.

Takhar education officials have not yet commented on the incident and no group or individual has claimed responsibility for setting fire to the school.

The Taliban, however, denied any involvement in the incident, saying that the group had nothing to with the fire at the school which is located close to police and NDS headquarters in Taloqan.

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Kapisa police official killed in Taliban attack

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2020)

Taliban militants gunned down an Afghan police official on Thursday in Parwan province, a local official confirmed.

Abdul Shayiq Shurish, a spokesman for Kapisa police told Ariana News that Suliaman, the battalion commander of Kapisa police brigade, was killed by the Taliban at around 9 a.m. Thursday in Sayad village of Parwan.

Meanwhile, a clash broke out between the Afghan forces and the insurgents in Shaker village in the Tagab district of Kapisa at around 12:30 a.m. Thursday.

Shurish said, at least two local army soldiers were killed and another one was wounded in the battle.

Four civilians including women and children were also injured in the clash, he added.

Shurish claimed that the Afghan forces have inflicted casualties on the Taliban, saying that details yet to be determined.

The Taliban yet to comment on the incidents.

It comes as the intra-Afghan talks are expected to start next week in Doha, where the government and the Taliban delegations would negotiate a political settlement for ending the conflict in the war-weary country.

The government negotiating team is expected to negotiate a comprehensive ceasefire in the first round of talks.

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