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tv   Inside Story 2017 Ep 292  Al Jazeera  October 21, 2017 3:32am-4:00am AST

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the people all the windows of the mosque were shattered the police from a nearby checkpoint arrived trying to control the crowd all the wounded victims in the shattered windows were taken to hospital by ambulance and the dead bodies were lying in. the u.s. is this shift its counterterrorism strategy to focus more on africa defense secretary james mattis met members of congress on friday to explain the change it comes as the white house has been under pressure to be more forthcoming about the deaths of four american soldiers in the two weeks ago. the war is morphing we're going to see more actions in africa and less you're going to see more aggression by the united states toward our enemies not less we're going to have decisions being made not in the white house but out in the field and i support that entire construct so the rules of engagement are going to change when it comes to counterterrorism operations we're going to move to status based targeting so if you find somebody who's a member of
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a terrorist organization then we can use lethal force they don't have to present an immediate threat. it's been a month since hurricane maria hit puerto rico and eighty percent of the island is still without power crews are working around the clock low to fix hundreds of kilometers of power lines those are the headlines coming up next here on inside story. is there a way forward in afghanistan taliban attacks this week have killed more than one hundred twenty afghans nationwide despite the u.s. air force flying more missions and dropping more bombs both u.s. strategy and the afghan government's capabilities are again being questioned this
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is inside story. hello and welcome to the program i'm james berets u.s. president donald trump unveiled a new american strategy in afghanistan two months ago since then there's been no letup in violence nationwide and the last few days alone have seen a dramatic surge in taliban attacks on thursday the taliban killed nearly sixty afghan security forces in a wave of attacks across the country forty of them died when an army camp in southern kandahar province was almost wiped out on wednesday six policemen were killed in a taliban ambush in the northern province of bulk and nine policemen died in a taliban attack on please post in western fora province a few hours later at least twenty two attackers were also killed and the worst
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attacks were on cheese day suicide bombers killed at least seventy four people when they targeted police compounds and government offices to discuss this let's bring in our panel of guests and we have in kabul. he's the managing director of the peace training and research organization in washington d.c. we have david said he's a seen. your associate think tank c.s.i.s. and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense for afghanistan pakistan and central asia and in dublin we have michael semple he is the former deputy european union special representative for afghanistan and is now a visiting research professor at queens university in belfast let's start with you mayor was or dark in kabul you're there on the ground a very violent week for afghanistan how bad are things. how you michael and i think to me it was quite bad. and just tribal form and have homes
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and kabul particularly hearing what happened and back here in the house in kandahar . which gives a kind of for i mean does the purpose of afghans that the afghan security forces or losing their man and their or maybe and frustration of the opposition groups and their their circus which gives him that much access to breathe. and side inside of their base is. doris kind of losing support or the hope for the future negotiation too i think you know so for any kind of military going where the afghan government together we did initially community so it's it was not a good news despite the afghans were expecting that there will be really peace talks and from both a particular from the opposition side there is some kind of. fighting or at least will be reducing the rent was coming. but what that didn't happen. it
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was a discouraging week for the last week and more losses after afghan forces we should form an afghan police and and in kabul was was not a good news david said me in washington d.c. two months into the new trump strategy and perhaps more importantly sixteen years into this war is the u.s. winning. i think this is a really interesting time there's been some serious developments over the last ten days particularly regarding pakistan which is the core of the problem little over a week ago the pakistani forces under severe pressure from the us recovered a canadian american couple and their three children who had been held hostage by the taliban for over almost five years that recovery center was in response to a strong set of pressures that the u.s. new policy towards pakistan has put into place following that in the last two days
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u.s. drones have killed two to rekey taliban pakistan the pakistani taliban who threaten pakistan but are currently in afghanistan and u.s. drones killed their top leader mr horizonte and some others that is really a gift to the pakistanis on the eve of a very important visit of secretary of state tellers and to pakistan where he will put additional pressure on pakistan to stop its support for the taleban and yes there have been a lot of violent attacks but those violent attacks are actually the taliban lashing out because they failed to achieve their campaign objectives of taking and retaining a provincial capital this year in their campaign plan that the taliban announced in the spring of this year they laid out very ambitious goals for creating more territory that they controlled and taking control of some major population centers they failed in that because of the aggressive new policy by the united states government of increased in for information increased intelligence and most importantly increased air power so i would say if you look at the bigger picture
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this new pressure on pakistan combined with the new u.s. commitment from the trump administration may well signal a turning point in this war do you agree with that michael semple we've heard about a tough approach to pakistan how much of the rest of the trump strategy is new in your in your view. yes david is absolutely right to take the developments of the past week into a wider context the the taliban over the past two months how found u.s. air power under pressure from not just the u.s. special forces but more the afghan special forces they found them devastating they have failed as david said to take any major government position during the year but importantly they have been suffering really severe losses to such an extent that they've had to reconsider their whole tactics taliban military hoped that by the end of this year not only would they be taking provincial capitals but they
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would be operating with larger military formations and now they've realized that as soon as their forces start to come together into large groups they get picked off so what we have seen in the past week is a message from the taliban ok you've escalated you've hurt us we are going to escalate and they have escalated but in this escalation it's not some kind of ground taliban army with thousands of fighters who are doing it the taliban have resorted to their own version of special forces they've had they have some highly trained commando style people prepared to die and they send a few dozen of these interactions so it's a few dozen determined on armed men with of course strong logistics about backup which david was talking about they're the ones which have inflicted the pain they haven't changed the course of the war they've demonstrated that both sides can continue to hurt each other hurt the afghan people until finally they come around to talking and in the fight there was water of course the other thing they've done
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is started using the u.s. is equipment against the afghan forces with stolen humvees how worried do you think the afghan security forces will be worried about this new tactic we've seen i think a number of times now and it seems to be very effective. i think one of the weakest part of the afghan government is that they're that their intelligence particularly evident among their people is to be so they're all sleeping and the afghan national army and i was in and producing maybe and n.d.s. so that they have to come strong induct and find out the true or helping them from inside which is happening for the third or fourth time unless you're four months. these vehicles and that american. troops have been captured by the taliban and are coming from remote villages and the afghan intelligence is failing to spot them.
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and stede of getting information i think from communities i think. that from the afghan forces needs to clean up their own soldiers for helping them from and said which has been happening for a long time i think that's the the biggest failure of the afghan government afghan security forces that they cannot support people who are helping the opposition forces from and sat and so they cannot support military vehicles for coming in from districts of it and frustrating. security forces bases and multiple it is. i think that the security forces and afghan government needs to look at that their intelligence loop to screen out who or helping them and terms of providing intelligence or one of bringing them to the doors of their bases that's that's i think the government needs to focus on in the coming years this is being a consistent problem hasn't david certainly there are elements within the afghan security forces who are helping the taliban or trading with the taliban giving away
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their weapons giving away their ammunition maybe giving away humvees i don't know. it's been a problem but it's a fairly minor problem it's less a problem of giving away than being purchased or being stolen or being seized in attacks the humvee attack that you mentioned a couple of days ago in my wand in khandahar province humvees were not used as fighting vehicles they were used as bombs both in that case and in the very very large truck bomb that devastated parts of kabul back in may but the taliban are doing is using these large heavy bombs equipped with explosives that they get from pakistan to sow terror and fear among people they're not using them as part of a military strategy so i wouldn't focus too much on the fact that the equipment is being used i would as michael semple had said as i said focused on the larger strategic picture and again i want to point to the cup coming visit of secretary unite us secretary of state to listen to islam about to meet with the pakistani
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leaders as a potential key turning point where pakistan may seriously begin reducing its support for the taliban of course secretary tillerson is executing a policy from president trump michael semple that took some eight months with him to come up with it and even when he announced that policy he didn't seem entirely convinced about what he was doing he said my original instinct was to pull out and historically i'd like to follow my instincts do you think with an uptick of violence president trump down the line could change his mind. well the the strategy is not just a blank check the strategy of course is based upon afghan partners also. delivering success that this strategy depends upon the successful reform and improvement of the performance of the the afghan security
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forces and they also the better performance inside the afghan government which is necessary if you want to win the cooperation of the the afghan population as mere weiss was was pointing to so they. as it happens i think president trump was speaking extremely almost fully on that when he said that. instinct told him one thing but actually the circumstances oblige him to do something else and maybe many people can agree with that i think that he looked he looked into the void and saw that the consequences of an abrupt end to u.s. assistance to afghanistan would be disastrous and therefore decided to persist what the strategy does is it offers more time for the afghans to bring about the kind of improvements in government that that mayor weiss talked about but it also provides an opportunity for for some kind of peace process and we presume we'll move on to
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talking about that this strategy is not just about. fighting your way to some kind of victory this is about creating an opportunity to shape the conditions in afghanistan and to address the security requirements both of the region and of the u.s. david said the you know the realities in washington the president trump even though he's announced the strategy is still hearing lots of voices who say off the sixteen year is what is the point of this pullout there are prominent voices in the republican party saying that. well there maybe there are some who were doing that you mentioned before instincts what president trump is getting is a lot of very informed and vice from key key leaders inside his own administration particularly his chief of staff former marine general john kelly his secretary of defense former marine general jim matheson his national security advisor currently serving army lieutenant general mcmaster these people all know afghanistan and
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pakistan really well they've participated in the fighting and general kelly as he described in a very emotional news conference yesterday lost his son there these are people who understand what it will take to bring this war to a conclusion as michael said the taliban need to come to the peace table many in the taliban want to come to the peace table those who are behind the more violent actions of the taliban have been putting forward over the last several months are may not be the rulers of the taliban in the in the coming few months that's where pakistan comes in of pakistan can force the problem on to change their tactics and move towards peace i think we could see a turning point here. let me ask you do you think the taliban right now are ready to come to the negotiating table do they think because american strategy has changed a number of times over the last sixteen years they can wait this one out that the
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americans will be gone soon. i think i mean yeah that they are trying to negotiate to but they met definitely want to talk because in the coming government if there's any kind of to go and that's why they have some. offensive fighting i mean the last couple of months particularly these taxes only. to get that from coming to the americans that we are still strong going to be one two if there's any kind of negotiation for peace we need to share that we would have. one to. we're not expecting that. these contacts to happen i think i mean. and this sort of . when you have one would think that they were going back to their sanctuaries and attribute the winter season in fighting to stop so i would say that much of this fighting is now. as it is because of the peace talks coming maybe in the winter season where the fighting season is going to be off. many many of the taliban i
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think that's quick to shore or show or sure on maybe a. taliban there or negotiating but we afghans particularly the public would say that it's the pakistan who is not allowing them to talk to the afghan government because they were told it on conditions and that's being strictly imposed by taliban from or trying to talk to the afghan government and we have several examples of that do start of one who are trying to talk to afghan government to help it or could not or kill it and the others here that there are many thought of them now that they are sneaking out of pakistan just trying to immigrate to other countries not find a place where they could could stay because they think that peacenik nine negotiation is not entirely in their hand and it has been dictated by by by date donors particularly pakistan so they're all taliban who would like to negotiate but to depressurize from from pakistan is keeping them out or maybe trying to get to dictate the conditions box on the ground trying to put enough in government. i've
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been looking at the official statistics coming from the u.s. central command of the bombings in afghanistan and one thing is clear the amount of air support the u.s. is providing to the afghan security forces as risen dramatically since donald trump became president during the first six months of this year the americans flew an average of eighty six missions each month in which some kind of munition a bomb or missile was released that compares with an average of only fifty one missions a month last year and the average number of munitions released against enemy meaning taliban or eisel targets each month has also increased dramatically growing from one hundred eleven in two thousand and six to three hundred sixty this year michael semple is that going to be enough to force the taliban to the negotiating table no not it is perhaps a necessary condition but not a sufficient condition that military pressure of alone will not bring the the
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taliban to the table in fact i think that mere weiss was making an extremely important point that i would like to to amplify which is that. there are you know there is a politics going on inside the taliban movement. my personal finding so far is that the top leadership of the taliban are doing everything they can to sustain the fight they want to fight not to talk they do not have a vision of a negotiated solution of the movement however mere weiss is correct that many inside the movement do want to move towards a settlement they want an honorable way out. i know this from many senior figures of the movement but they do not believe that it is possible while the current leadership is sustaining that the conflict the role of pakistan is very is quite complex that they i'm not convinced of that it's simply the question of the
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pakistanis saying that you have to fight on ironically several pakistani attempts to get at least symbolic negotiations going on have failed and that the there is no love lost between the taliban leadership and the pakistani authorities if anything the taliban leadership are maneuvering to try and reduce pakistan leverage over them so i think that we should not should we could certainly it is right for the kabul government and the u.s. to be asking pakistan to help in terms of reducing attacks which are launched from pakistan weakening the logistical support to the taliban but i'm not sure that the pakistan of the pakistan is the right sort of interlocutor to ask to deliver the taliban to the table that i think that we have to listen very carefully to what mary weiss was saying is that that many inside the movement actually are ready to talk because they believe that they are being held back from that and i think that
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the afghan government help by its international partners has got to do everything it can to facilitate that process that so that we actually make some process towards. towards stopping the fighting maybe it will be a bottom. process rather than a top down process because personally i don't believe that i the quest to sure all the push our sure even though they they the question that the cuts are team that mayor weiss refer to is actually ready to desire to deliver some kind of grand bargain maybe it will have to be a bottom up process david said ne could i perhaps take you a little bit back in time again looking at these. statistics you were a senior official in the obama administration they eased off the taliban for a time the statistics show that and there is the general view from some that president obama was trying to leave afghanistan was this the time when the taliban managed to regroup was it a mistake looking back on it now it was very much
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a mistake president obama made it a priority to get us troops out of afghanistan and not to succeed in afghanistan his constant setting of artificial deadlines for troop and setting of troop cap numbers handicapped our military's ability to carry out what was needed in order to achieve military success back in those days as president obama reached the end of his term he reversed himself a little bit and kept more troops in afghanistan that he meant to and gave his commanders a little bit of leeway when president trump came in he gave the commanders a lot more leeway so we're in many ways we're sort of on the military side we're sort of clawing things back but i will echo what michael semple said is that while these increased air attacks are a important part of a strategy and probably probably cannot succeed without them we also need to have both change inside the taliban and one other point that we've not made but i think needs to be made strongly is the afghan government needs to perform better its
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military its police need to do better and its overall governance efforts have to improve in order to improve increase confidence among the people that the afghan government is the right solution for their future so this is really a complex situation. where you need progress militarily with pakistan with the parliament and with the afghan government you've mentioned artificial timelines being unhelpful my question though to you michael semple is your estimation now how long might this take well you sort of answered the question yourself are they saying that the artificial timetables have been a been a problem. the the willingness to end this conflict is already there afghans on both sides of the war are already fed up with the fighting the toll which is being taken in terms of civilians afghan security forces taliban themselves is completely intolerable that tells me that if
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we have some political progress it may surprise people at how you know how quickly it develops so i don't want to name i don't want to name a survey a year year after one year to year three years four years that we're going to say afghanistan is broadly at peace but i would say that that rapid progress is actually possible even over the next year mil was. michael mentioning a record number of civilians killed in twenty sixteen three thousand four hundred ninety eight lives and so far this year up until july one thousand six hundred civilians what is the mood of feeling about this long long war in afghanistan what do ordinary people there say about. i think i mean sadly it's going to increase and support from that type of concern out of the afghan government i mean taliban have been known that there i mean paul does a dozen cities where he does
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a lot of civilians than the. soldiers. on the government said who operating and the provinces and then the new strategy that mean might be more drone attacks people are worried that might be more civil in casualties in the coming years so i think afghan government needs to further trend their soldiers to say we're going to twenty's and and so should be the new american should troops come in they should be very careful about it because it's not only several years we're losing that general perception of the afghan people who might be trying against against international forces in afghanistan after an afghan soldiers needs to be trained. how they can react to any attacks so on their basis because in some cases there's always fighting there is or was heavy. response from from the government surge which is not sometimes needed and that's going to it for not killing the civil is
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a piece of torturing. sick logically different people surrounding does bases in these disagreements fissions so i think that government need needs to to to look at that and see where they can reduce it so i think because well it is a. sort it's nice to be properly trained on that. here and so it was about i think kabul thanks too to our other guests to david said ni in washington and from dublin to michael semple as ever thanks to you for watching and for all the background the context i'm to watch our recent reporting from our team in afghanistan go to our website out there a dot com if you have views on today's program you can go to our facebook page that's facebook dot com forward slash a.j. inside story what should we. next time on this program you can let us know we're on twitter at a.j. inside story of see you soon back on now to zero for me and the whole team here take care bye bye for now.
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valued as a gem of africa nairobi has gone through many changes over the past decades took to al-jazeera travels to the kenyan capital to hear from those who witnessed the city's progress to becoming a metropolis and discusses where it's heading now at this time on al-jazeera and monday put it well on. u.s. and british companies have announced the biggest discovery of natural gas in west africa but what to do with these untapped natural resources is already a source of heated debate nothing much has changed they still spend most of their
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days looking forward to from dry river beds like this one five years on the syrians still feel battered or even those who managed to escape their country haven't truly been able to escape the war. al jazeera is a very important force of information for many people around the world when all the cameras have gone i'm still here go into areas that nobody else is going to talk to people that nobody else is talking to and bring that story to the forefront.

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