December 15, 2009

From the Front: 12/15/2009

News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front. (New complete posts come in below)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief - Though initial reports suggested that Abu Yahya al-Libi, al Qaeda's current number three, was the al Qaeda leader who was apparently killed by a drone strike in northwest Pakistan early last week, it now appears that Saleh al-Somali, al Qaeda's "external operations chief" was killed in North Waziristan last Tuesday. Al-Somali was reputedly in charge of Qaeda operations outside of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and was also on the CIA's top 20 most wanted list. The CIA has reportedly canceled a contract with Xe Services, the security firm formerly known as Blackwater, that allowed employees to load bombs onto drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as reports continue to circulate that the U.S. is eying an expansion of the program into Baluchistan, where the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is believed to be based. (READ MORE)

al Sahwa: AQI in Mosul: Don't Count Them Out - As much of our collective national attention shifts its focus to the pending “surge” in Afghanistan, it’s easy to lose sight of important events and indicators occurring in Iraq. As Josh discussed in his recent post here, we continue to see spectacular, coordinated attacks targeting the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) and GOI (Government of Iraq) targets across the country. While less frequent, these attacks are still extremely deadly and more importantly continue to highlight the inability of Maliki’s government to secure the populace and counter the insurgents. In particular, I’d like to focus on the current state of the insurgency in Mosul – a key finance, logistics, planning, and facilitation hub for al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). While there are substantial and important differences between Al Qaeda’s presence in various areas, a close look at how AQI operates in Mosul provides great insight into the global “modus operandi” of AQ. (READ MORE)

Doc H: Leishmaniasis Part II - Some of you may remember my post from approximately 1 month ago. Well, Chad has finished his one month of almost daily injections into the site of his cutaneous leishmaniasis. You may be able to identify the leg and running shoes. His wound looks much better, although it still has some thickening of the skin (induration in medical jargon). At this point he will be observed for relapse or a need for further injections. I have heard that one or two soldiers out of the dozen affected by this disease recently had to be evacuated to Walter Reed for treatment of their leishmaniasis with IV medication. But the worst appears to be over for Chad. It is the Christmas Season, even in Afghanistan. A few of us hardy and cheerful folk met last night to sing Christmas Carols at the entrance to the Chow Hall for about an hour. It was good a good time and actually a lot of fun. (READ MORE)

Helmand Blog - Afghanistan: First of the five hundred Welsh Warriors arrive in Afghan - The first of the five hundred extra British troops stepped off a C-130 Hercules aircraft at Camp Bastion in the early hours of this morning. They landed at 5.05am on Tuesday 15th December 2009. The soldiers are from The 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) and set off initially from their headquarters at Dale Barracks in Chester. Stepping off the plane into the cold night air of Camp Bastion; Cpl Andrew Wrigley said, “It feels good, we’ve come to back-up the guys who are already here and hopefully make a bit of a difference.” 2nd Lieutenant John Murphy said, “It feels good, it feels like you’re doing an important job. It’s good to finally get out here.” Fusilier Calvin Owen, “We’ve just been waiting to get out here really, so we’re out here now, let’s do the job. It’s good.” (READ MORE)

Family Matters Blog: Conference Explores Military Service Impact - Last week, I attended the Trauma Spectrum Disorders Conference in Bethesda, Md. The conference brought together experts from the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs and the National Institutes of Health to explore the impact of military service on families and caregivers. I wanted to share some of what I learned in the sessions with you. Several sessions focused on the Millennium Cohort Study, a Defense Department study of the long-term health effects of military service, including deployments, on servicemembers. The study launched in 2001 and is slated to end in 2022. Up till now, the study’s researchers have focused their efforts on servicemembers. However, starting in June, they will expand the study to include military families, said William E. Schlenger, principal investigator for the study’s family impact component. (READ MORE)

Bruce R: Blatchford: Blatchford: time to put down the pen/mouse/stylus on detainees - I have a lot of respect for Christie Blatchford, but she's officially too close to this detainee story. Paul Wells has previously observed this, too, but that was before her story this weekend. On June 14, 2006, a Canadian Military Police officer who was working with the Afghan National Police was on the scene when the ANP stopped a van leaving a battle. The ANP said one of the three men inside was definitely a Taliban. The MP photographed the man and wrote his name down, but agreed to let him travel with the ANP back to Patrol Base Wilson. It was a 15-minute trip. Back at the base, the MP dutifully checked on the fellow and found the ANP beating him with their shoes. The MP then took the man back and made him an official detainee. Nice story, but it's contradicted by some facts previously in evidence. Specifically the section commander's report given to the CDS last week. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Useless Parliament - I had tea with a couple of old guys today. Like plenty of other Iraqis, they wanted to talk politics. We talked about the nonsense going on in parliament. "Did you hear them?" One man asked. "Did you hear them?" I said kind of. "They asked Al Maliki whether there is a pledge to fight terrorism." The rest of us said yes, that's what's going on in parliament. "What kind of stupid question is that? Who cares if there's a pledge!?!" I said they want to look like they care about stuff. "What care?" The other one asked. "Why don't they do their part to fight terrorism?" I said that's a good question. "There are 66 different parties in parliament," he said. "Is all they know how to do is hang up signs?" "They don't have any constituents," the other man said. "Let me remind you, nobody voted for these idiots in the first place." I said that's true, because of the United Nations. "Don't remind me of those UN fools who came up with the list!" The first one said. (READ MORE)

Sgt Danger: Merry Christmas Kids! - Last week we spent five of the seven days on the road. We slept in tents and we slept under the stars. We ate a lot of junk food and drank caffeinated drinks. We spent our days crammed in the truck and our nights wrapped tightly in sleeping bags. We got rained on, snowed in, and mudded out. It was a tough week. When I got “home” to my bunk I found a package from Mrs. G back home. She and all of her third grade students had written me letters. I was beaten up and exhausted, but I enjoyed their letters so much that I wrote up a reply to each one that same night. The following are excerpts from my letters back, as I answer the questions they asked me. (Mrs. G., you’ll get copies in the mail for each of your students, soon.) “I am in the United States Army. My grandpa was in the Navy too! I like the flag you drew on the back of your letter. We’re going to put a flag pole in our front yard when I get home.” (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: In Kandhar: Two American Women Entrepreneurs - Jennie Green and Sarah Chayes are determined women. Instead of living a contented life in the glow of the Ivy Leagues or academia, they are entrepreneurs amid the chaos and violence of Kandahar. Since 2005, they have conducted business while braving death threats. Green and Chayes have gained a following among hawks, journalists, NGO's, expatriates and the military. They also appeal to garden-variety peaceniks, whose outlook is questioned as Chayes and Green lay out the complexities of the situation in Afghanistan. Green, works with Chayes who founded the work co-op Arghand International. In November 2009, Green wrote an important 8-page "Note From The Field." Its straight forward manner is devoid of eye-glazing political-journalistic assumptions. Green conveys a shoes-on-the-ground point of view about the latest happenings in Kandahar. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Pakistan ignores US requests to tackle the Haqqani Network - The Pakistani government and military has rejected US requests to dismantle the deadliest Taliban network that operating in eastern Afghanistan and based in North Waziristan. Pakistani officials refuse to take on the Haqqani Network, a Taliban group closely allied to al Qaeda, Mullah Omar's Quetta Shura, and Pakistan's military and intelligence services. The Haqqani Network is behind some of the most deadly suicide attacks in Afghanistan as well as a series of complex terror assaults that targeted Afghan ministries and Coalitions forces. Pakistani officials have responded negatively to US diplomatic demarches and a very public campaign by the US government to put pressure on Pakistan to act against the Haqqanis and the Quetta Shura, The New York Times reported. (READ MORE)

OUR MAN IN AFGHANISTAN: J.M. Simpson: Friday, December 11, 2009 - With over 20,000 soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines at Kandahar Air Field from 17 different countries, Kandahar Air Field (KAF) is a multicultural mix of languages, food and customs. For example, one of the dining facilities, otherwise known as a DFAC, caters to the British. Another eating-place, called the All Seasons, is a restaurant known for its Dutch cuisine. The Luxembourg DFAC features a broad cross section of European foods, and there is a DFAC, which specializes, in Asian food. And yes, there is a DFAC that serves only American food. And while we're talking about the differences in food, we should also take a look at the differences in lodging. While most of the supporting nations' military members have hard facilities with enclosed latrines and showers in which to live, the American forces - which is the largest presence on KAF - live in what are called "force provider style tents." (READ MORE)

Scott Fontaine: A German layover - The News Tribune is returning to Iraq. Photographer Joe Barrentine and I are hours away from arriving in Kuwait; after a day or so of processing at an airbase there, we'll land in Baghdad to start a six-week embed with Fort Lewis troops. Why another trip to Iraq? Fort Lewis has 12,000 soldiers, including two Stryker brigades and I Corps, serving throughout the country, part of the post's largest single deployment since at least the Vietnam War. (No one is entirely certain how many served at a given time in South Asia, so it could be the biggest number since Korea or World War II.) While violence has dropped to levels not seen since the invasion, the soldiers' presence in Iraq is crucial. They're helping maintain security throughout the country, and they're training the Iraqi military as it prepares to take over its own affairs. (READ MORE)

War, the military, COIN and stuff: Canada Preparing to Leave Afghanistan -- Kinda - As the United States begins flooding 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan starting later this month, and various NATO allies have pledged up to 7,000 more combatants in a bid to try and turn the tide of the war in Afghanistan—or at least rescue what parts of the south and east of the country that they can from the Taliban—some countries, like Canada and The Netherlands, are making plan to pull their troops out. The CanWest news service reported over the weekend that just like the larger American pullout making its first stuttering steps in Iraq, the Canadian pullout from Kandahar will be expensive, and complicated. “When Canadian Forces quit Afghanistan in July 2011, at least $2-billion of gear must be brought home, and hundreds of millions of dollars of infrastructure at Kandahar Airfield and at forward operating bases must be torn down, sold or donated to allies or to Afghans,” Matthew Fischer reports. (READ MORE)

The Captain's Journal: Is it logistically possible to deploy more troops to Afghanistan? - Richard North at Defence of the Realm engages in a little gloating (and frustration as well). “Referring to the daily stream of truck convoys that bring supplies into the landlocked nation, Hilary Clinton said to the Senate Armed Services Committee: ‘You know, when we are so dependent upon long supply lines – as we are in Afghanistan, where everything has to be imported — it’s much more difficult than it was in Iraq, where we had Kuwait as a staging ground. You offload a ship in Karachi. And by the time whatever it is – you know, muffins for our soldiers’ breakfast or anti-IED equipment – gets to where we’re headed, it goes through a lot of hands. And one of the major sources of funding for the Taliban is the protection money. That has nothing to do with President Karzai.’” And well deserved gloating it is. I will engage in a little myself. And … much frustration. (READ MORE)

Grim @ Blackfive: Afghan Surge: Timelines and Strategic Success - COL David Maxwell, former commander of JSOTF-P and G3 at USASOC, wrote to comment on this article by David Ignatius of the Washington Post. I asked if he would mind if I published his comments, and some of my own. Ignatius' basic point is that the current timelines proposed by the administration will offer very little time for some of the troops to be on the ground creating effects to assess. COL Maxwell responds: “The problem we have with talking about the 30,000 troops and the ‘timeline’ is that the way some such as Ignatius below discuss the issues it is as if no work will get started until the last of the 30,000 troops have boots on the ground. By his logic below the timeline should start in November 2010 which will only provide 8 months to do anything until the ‘withdrawal’ begins. [...] They can criticize the politics behind the decision but they appear not to understand the nature of the deployments (and redeployment) of forces (other than the law of physics comments) or the work that is getting done before, during, and after the 30,000 deploy.” (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Expectations Successfully Diminished - It’s the one bright spot for the O admin as it nears the end of its first year. In one of the few things he has managed to accomplish, the development of a truncated Afghanistan strategy, expectations of actual success are down. Politico: “Trying to brace people for a tougher and potentially deadlier war, the Obama administration has been saying for months that Afghanistan is not Iraq, and it looks like the message is sinking in: In a new Rasmussen survey, 62 percent of U.S. voters think it will be harder for America to make progress in Afghanistan than it was in Iraq.” What’s interesting about that number, is it’s almost exactly the number that, before and during the surge, consistently thought Iraq was hopeless and all was lost. But by framing the usual handwringing despair in terms of ”harder than Iraq,” it actually gives Obama and his neo-Bushism a chance to look like he’s besting Bush when the military pulls it off despite the political interference. (READ MORE)

Most Certainly Not: Never Mind Me - The date I anticipated for my husband's return shifted dramatically today, but not in the way Monica's family's did. Today, I find myself in double digits and I'm freaked out. The mental gymnastics required to have a spouse deployed and the lies you tell yourself to keep your sanity are very sacred. I, honestly, could not be more 'gotten' if he showed up at our door tonight. I am that taken aback. The worst part is--he's known this for awhile. I guess I would have too if I weren't toting children to and from soccer and basketball games on Saturday mornings when FRG meetings are routinely held. Just an offhanded sentence from the commander in the FRG newsletter today and then a friend saying my husband had told her that the date I'd had in my mind for the entire time is off by about two months. I'm sure I'll get to the happy part soon enough. Right now, I'm shocked. I'm freaked out. (READ MORE)

News from the Front:

Zakho Emergency Hospital holds ribbon cutting - A state-of-the-art trauma center became a reality Dec. 7, when the community of northern Iraqi province of Dahuk celebrated the official opening of the Zakho Emergency Hospital. The $2.6 million, 40-bed facility was built with Economic Support Funds (ESF) provided by the United States and includes surgical wards, X-ray and MRI facilities, an interior parking lot, a security fence, a fully staffed security building and a power plant building to provide full-time dedicated electrical power to the hospital. (READ MORE)

Jacoby: Drawdown tracks with Iraqi progress - Just weeks before Multi-National Corps - Iraq cases its colors and rolls into the new U.S. Forces - Iraq organization, its commander said plenty of operational activity still is under way here. The mission here continues in support of the strategy of turning the security lead over to increasingly capable Iraqi Security Forces, Army Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby recently told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. (READ MORE)

US team honing IA battle skills, techniques - During this vital transition period, as U.S. forces here prepare to withdraw, training the Iraqi Army on basic battle drills is more important than ever. This fact has not escaped Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, who work with IA troops here at Contingency Operating Location Constitution to help them learn these critical tasks. (READ MORE)

Iraqis arrest 3 JRTN terror cell members - An Iraqi Emergency Response Battalion, with U.S. advisors, arrested three alleged Jaysh Rijal al-Tariq al Naqshabandi members through warrants issued by an Iraqi Criminal Investigation Court, Dec. 12. Wathiq Alwan al Amiri, Muhanned Muhammed Abd al Jabbar al Rawi and Abd al Majid al Hadithi are suspected of operating within JRTN. Rawi and Amiri are suspected of being part of a media cell responsible for propaganda, distribution of terrorist procedures and tactics and subversion of the Government of Iraq. (READ MORE)

Soldiers deliver toys to Iraqi children - Two Soldiers with Company B, 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, recently organized a surprise toy delivery for children living here just outside the walls of Forward Operating Base Falcon. Spc. Michael Petro, an infantryman, said he had the idea to start collecting goodies for the children after driving past their neighborhood during missions in the Baghdad area. (READ MORE)

As Simple As a Brick - It was an hour and a half drive taking Task Force Pathfinder's five humvees to the project location near Al Chubayish, Iraq, in the southern corner of the Dhi Qar province. The journey, led by Iraqi police, took them through the provincial capital of Nasiriyah, undergoing massive reconstruction, out along the vast farmland and past what's left of the historic marshes. (READ MORE)

Top U.S. commanders discuss strategy with Afghan and Pakistani leaders - The top U.S. military commander met with Afghan leaders in Kabul to discuss the upcoming U.S troop buildup and training of local security forces. Meanwhile, the regional commander met with civilian and military leaders in neighboring Pakistan to urge them to step up pressure on Afghan Taliban hiding on the Pakistani side of the border. (READ MORE)

Afghan insurgency more pervasive, Mullen says - The insurgency in Afghanistan has become more pervasive, more sophisticated and more violent, said the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff here today. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said during a news conference with Afghan and American reporters that the insurgents “have a dominant influence in 11 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.” (READ MORE)

Key to Afghanistan success lies in southern provinces - The road to success in Afghanistan goes through the South, a former commander of international forces there said today. “We all recognize that key to success in Afghanistan is the situation in southern Afghanistan,” Dutch army Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif said during a Pentagon press briefing. (READ MORE)

Military faces challenges in deploying more troops to Afghanistan - The senior allied operational commander in Afghanistan warned Monday that the military faced stiff challenges to deploying 30,000 additional American troops here on the tight schedule that President Obama has ordered. (READ MORE)

Supplying troops in Afghanistan with fuel is challenge for U.S. - President Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan will magnify one of the Pentagon's biggest challenges: getting aviation and diesel fuel to U.S. air and ground forces there. (READ MORE)

General wants troops ready for ‘complex human terrain’ - U.S. troops need to be prepared to operate in a “complex human terrain” when they arrive in Afghanistan, the commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command said here today. Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez took over the job just two months ago. He commands U.S. troops assigned to NATO and troops of 42 other nations for daily operations throughout Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Rebuffing U.S., Pakistan balks at crackdown - Demands by the United States for Pakistan to crack down on the strongest Taliban warrior in Afghanistan, Siraj Haqqani, whose fighters pose the biggest threat to American forces, have been rebuffed by the Pakistani military, according to Pakistani military officials and diplomats. (READ MORE)

U.S. pressures Pakistan to target Afghan Taliban enclaves - The U.S. is stepping up pressure on Pakistan to widen the scope of an offensive against the Taliban in its tribal areas, fearful the current operation's limits could blunt the impact of the fresh American troops being dispatched to neighboring Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

Suicide car bomb in Afghanistan kills 8 - Afghan officials say a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul has killed at least eight people and wounded 40 others. Authorities say the bomber blew himself up Tuesday in front of the Heetal Hotel and the home of a former Afghan vice president in Kabul's Wazir Akbar Khan district. The blast damaged the fortified hotel and surrounding buildings. (READ MORE)

Suicide car bomb blast in Kabul - Hedyatullah Rahmani gathered himself from the force of the blast and raced two blocks to the scene of the suicide car bomb that struck central Kabul on Tuesday morning. He saw two men being burned, trapped inside a car. The driver thrust his hand out the window and was waving it frantically, said Mr. Rahmani, who with two other men pulled the driver from the car. (READ MORE)

Car bomb strikes in Kabul's diplomatic district - At least nine people died when a suicide car bomb exploded in Kabul's diplomatic district Tuesday in an attack that may have been targeting an upscale hotel used by foreigners or the home of a former vice president. (READ MORE)

Not much time for good decisions on Afghanistan - The speedy surge into Afghanistan isn't going to be quite as rapid as the White House recently suggested - further complicating President Obama's hopes for a quick in-and-out fix. As one of the selling points of the plan to send an additional 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, rather than the full 40,000 troops Gen. Stanley McCrystal requested... (READ MORE)

Afghans Celebrate Beloved 'Colonel Bill' - Five months ago, the Marines and Sailors of 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, arrived in Nawa District to the sounds of gunfire, rockets and mortars. Today, Nawa is quiet – a place where they can walk through the city center without body armor as children crowd at their feet. (READ MORE)

Custom Kitchen, Home-cooked Meals Bring Marines Together in Afghanistan - When Marines hear they must live at a small patrol base for a long period of time, many think of primitive facilities, dirty conditions and bland, prepackaged meals coming from brown bags. For Marines with the Police Mentoring Team assigned to the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, living on Patrol Base Jaker near the Nawa District's bazaar means good eats. (READ MORE)

Forces Kill Militants in Eastern Afghanistan - A combined Afghan and international security force killed five enemy militants and detained another in Afghanistan's Laghman province yesterday while pursuing a Taliban bomb maker linked to several attacks in the area. The force targeted a compound near Tingawar village where intelligence sources reported militant activity. (READ MORE)

Marines Send Taliban Into Hiding - When the Marines and sailors of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, came to the Now Zad region in Afghanistan, the message they received from outgoing units was simple: Beware of the village of Changwalak. “[The outgoing units] wouldn't ever go to Changwalak," said Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Estevan White, 22, an assault man with Lima Company from Anthony, Texas. "They told us never go there, because that's where they took all their casualties." (READ MORE)

General says Afghan troop surge will take longer - The military may not finish its surge of 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan until nearly a year from now, a senior U.S. commander said Monday - a slower pace than President Barack Obama has described. The White House insisted it was sticking with a goal of completing the buildup by late summer. (READ MORE)

Key to Afghanistan Success Lies in Southern Provinces - The road to success in Afghanistan goes through the South, a former commander of international forces there said today. “We all recognize that key to success in Afghanistan is the situation in southern Afghanistan,” Dutch army Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif said during a Pentagon press briefing. (READ MORE)

New LAVS for Afghanistan have more armour, less punch - The latest response to improvised explosive devices that have killed more than 100 Canadian troops involves putting a smaller, remotely controlled mobile gun system atop what had been an anti-tank variant of Canada's light-armoured vehicles instead of the turret-mounted cannon commonly found on the LAVs... (READ MORE)

Afghan troop surge will take a little longer - The military may not finish its surge of 30,000 American troops to Afghanistan until nearly a year from now, a senior U.S. commander said Monday — a slower pace than President Barack Obama has described. The White House insisted it was sticking with a goal of completing the buildup by late summer. (READ MORE)

German minister fights back over Afghan air strike - Germany's defence minister tried on Monday to fend off attacks over his handling of a row about a German-ordered air strike in Afghanistan that killed civilians by saying opposition parties had the same information he had. Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, who has rejected calls to resign, also confirmed reports the September 4 strike had targeted Taliban as well as two fuel tankers. (READ MORE)

Misfits and runaways join French Foreign Legion for Afghanistan tour - When Corporal James walked in on his fiancĂ©e sleeping with another man he threw him through a second-storey window and beat him with a wrench until the police arrived. [...] Today he is on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan — but this time it is with the French Foreign Legion. “The legion was a second chance, an opportunity to reinvent myself,” he said. “It was either here or prison.” (READ MORE)

Afghan force of 400,000 to cost $10b a year - A top American military leader has said that maintaining Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) of 400,000 -- more economical in the long run than the deployment of extra US troops -- will cost $10 billion annually. If you get up to the 400,000 range (of an Afghan security force including army and police) if we end up there, that's in over $10 billion range per year," US Central Command chief General David Petraeus said during a Congressional testimony. (READ MORE)

Millions of kids waiting for classrooms, qualified teachers - In Afghanistan, the number of kids in school has grown more than six times since the Taliban were in power. But millions of children still wait, and classrooms and qualified teachers are lacking. Qala-e-Zaman Khan High School is bordered by dirt roads at the base of a small hill in one of Kabul's many districts. (READ MORE)

Top US officer fears Taliban, militants groups - America’s top military officer expressed concern Monday about the "growing level of collusion" between Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda and other militant groups taking refuge across the border in Pakistan. Adm. Mike Mullen, in Kabul to discuss the upcoming US troop buildup and training of Afghanistan's security force... (READ MORE)

Key bridge being rebuilt - A bridge destroyed in August in Nangarhar is being rebuilt by govt agencies, contractors and International Security Assistance Force service members. The key link -- Saracha Bridge along Highway 7 -- was washed away by flash floods on August 31, cutting off all traffic from the Torkham Gate to Jalalabad... (READ MORE)

Kabul Mayor’s return to work termed illegal - Afghan judicial authorities have described as illegal the return to work by Kabul's mayor following his conviction for corruption this week, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reported. Mir Abdul Ahad Sahebi was sentenced on December 7 to four years in prison and fired from his job on corruption charges related to contracts on city projects. (READ MORE)

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