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The Afghan government may turn into an even bigger sh*tshow right in the middle of peace talks
Sure, the Afghan government has major issues of corruption, double-dealing, and people accused of war crimes in high-level positions, but it may turn into an even bigger shit show that could "trigger state collapse" in the next couple of months, according to the Institute for the Study of War.
The reason: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's term of office expires on May 22, elections have been delayed until September 28, and well, there are a whole lot of "strong men" in Afghanistan who are interested in obtaining power, or at a minimum, getting rid of Ghani.
As Scott DesMarais writes at ISW:
The looming governance gap has attracted attention from opposition powerbrokers. Former Afghan National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar is calling for an interim government to take power as of May 22. Any term extension that favors Ghani will likely be untenable absent a wider settlement between him and his opponents. Political competition could quickly disintegrate into violent conflict as powerbrokers compete for power and legitimacy. However, Ghani's opponents are historic rivals united only in opposition to his administration. They remain unlikely to agree on a new Government of Afghanistan.
That's not the only problem.
Ghani also just approved a new security plan that is being framed as "offensive" in nature, yet it seems to focus on the "security situation of cities and highways" — pretty much ceding the countryside to the Taliban, which has stepped up its attacks there. Then there are the ongoing peace talks between the Taliban and the U.S., which notably has so far kept the Afghan government out — reinforcing the idea it's nothing more than the "puppet regime" the Taliban often says it is.
Meanwhile, the current Afghan national security advisor, Hamdullah Mohib, thinks the Afghan-born U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, who is leading the peace talks, wants to seize the presidency for himself.
So things are going just swell.
Khalilzad, for his part, said he has made "real strides" in the talks with the Taliban. But since just about every American military commander in Afghanistan has reported making "progress" during the now 17-year-old conflict, I think I'll remain in the deeply skeptical camp.
"Ghani has repeatedly attempted to marginalize his political rivals and briefly used force in an attempt to undermine opposition powerbroker Atta Mohammad Noor - one of the main supporters of Atmar - on March 14," DesMarais wrote, adding that Ghani could do so again, potentially sparking conflict within the ranks of the security forces.
"A contested transfer of power will also create uncertainty regarding official control over the state and military. These contests for control would highly increase the risk of a wider state collapse that reignites an ethnically-charged civil war between powerbrokers, their private militias, and the remnants of a failing state. They will also undermine the effect that the U.S. seeks to achieve by negotiating with the Taliban - namely, political accommodations that end the War in Afghanistan."
Read the full ISW report here.
WATCH: Operation Enduring Freedom turns 17
A group of vets are raising money for pay for a medal the Iraqi government awarded them, but never delivered
In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.
The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medal to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.
A small group of veterans hopes to change that.
For a cool $8.5 million, you could be the proud owner of a "fully functioning" F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon fighter jet that a South Florida company acquired from Jordan.
The combat aircraft, which can hit a top speed of 1,357 mph at 40,000 feet, isn't showroom new — it was built in 1980. But it still has a max range of 2,400 miles and an initial climb rate of 62,000 feet per minute and remains militarized, according to The Drive, an automotive website that also covers defense topics, WBDO News 96.5 reported Wednesday.
A doctor who treated accident victims has a radioactive isotope in his body. Russia says it came from his diet
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian authorities said on Friday that a doctor who treated those injured in a mysterious accident this month had the radioactive isotope Caesium-137 in his body, but said it was probably put there by his diet.
The deadly accident at a military site in northern Russia took place on Aug. 8 and caused a brief spurt of radiation. Russian President Vladimir Putin later said it occurred during testing of what he called promising new weapons systems.
Groundwater at the Air Force Academy is contaminated with the same toxic chemicals polluting a southern El Paso County aquifer, expanding a problem that has cost tens of millions of dollars to address in the Pikes Peak region.
Plans are underway to begin testing drinking water wells south of the academy in the Woodmen Valley area after unsafe levels of the chemicals were found at four locations on base, the academy said Thursday.