Saturday, August 19

Saturday, August 19

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE Afghanistan celebrates independence as Taliban power grows As Afghanistan celebrates the 98th anniversary of its independence from the British Empire today, another English-speaking power mulls its military involvement in the nation. The debate comes as the Taliban have steadily resurged to their strongest position since 2001, controlling or contesting areas containing more than a

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE

Afghanistan celebrates independence as Taliban power grows

Photo: Reuters/Parwiz

Photo: Reuters/Parwiz

As Afghanistan celebrates the 98th anniversary of its independence from the British Empire today, another English-speaking power mulls its military involvement in the nation.

The debate comes as the Taliban have steadily resurged to their strongest position since 2001, controlling or contesting areas containing more than a third of the country’s 35 million citizens. Taliban attacks have increased even in firmly government held-areas; a June truck bombing in Kabul left more than 80 dead, and mortars struck last year’s Independence Day celebration in provincial capital Asad Abad.

At Camp David, the Trump administration will debate its Afghanistan strategy. Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis and National Security Adviser HR McMaster support sending an additional 5,000 troops to assist the 8,400 American soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, while a plan to replace US troops with private military contractors is also being considered.

Private or US Army troop escalation is expected to be used to ramp up combat operations, scuttling any plans for a unity government with the Taliban. Afghanis will likely find themselves in a familiar situation – the US-backed government will continue to control major population centres, while the Taliban strengthens its grip on the expansive rural countryside

NEW ENGLAND “PATRIOTS”

Right-wing demonstrators to rally in Boston

Photo: Reuters

Photo: Reuters

A rally to promote “free speech and the first amendment”, organized by the alt-right group Boston Free Speech Coalition, will be held today in Boston.

Citing the bigotry and violence associated with similar groups, Mayor Marty Walsh has spoken out against the rally.

The group’s spokesperson, John Medlar, claims the organisation rejects white supremacy, anti-Semitism and racism. Yet, several speakers advertised for today’s rally, including Augustus Invictus—a proponent of eugenics and a holocaust-denier—maintain ideologies or ties to groups that promote such bigotry.

Expecting large crowds of counter-protesters, Boston’s police department will be present in force. It is taking extra precautions, such as thoroughly searching participants for weapons, to ensure security and order are maintained.

With President Trump’s approval ratings as low as they are (about 37%), do not expect him to seriously condemn alt-right groups in the future; they now constitute a significant portion of his support base. Policy-wise, this will likely lead to further decreases in federal efforts to investigate and counter alt-right hate groups, like the ones present at the recent violent Charlottesville protests.

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