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Ukraine: Afghan Vets Provide Maidan Movement with Backbone

A few decades ago, they were sent abroad to fulfill an “internationalist” duty. Today, Afghan war veterans in Ukraine are answering a domestic call, and are playing a prominent role in keeping the Maidan movement going in Kiev.

Anti-government protesters, representing a wide variety of views, have occupied central Maidan Square for almost a month. What started out as a demonstration against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a European Union Association Agreement has morphed into a struggle for Ukraine’s geopolitical soul, with the stakes for Yanukovych’s own political future seeming to rise by the day. The Ukrainian president’s December 17 trip to Moscow, and the announced $15-billion Russian bailout package for Kiev, has done little to take the edge off the Maidan protest.

On any given day, hundreds of Afghan vets can be found on Maidan Square, infusing the mélange of protesters with an element of cohesion. The organizational structure that is now in place came together spontaneously.

“Veteran individuals just met on the square, they recognised each other, they organized themselves,” said Oleg, a 49-year-old vet who declined to provide his last name. “We all have the same vision, in which a government should not use force against its own people. And so we put ourselves, experienced soldiers, who know the price of life, blood and death, in the middle.”

Many vets said they were drawn to the Maidan movement after watching security forces use excessive force in late November against what, in comparison to today’s Maidan crowds, was a relatively small band of protesters.

Andrei, who served a 19-month tour in Afghanistan during the 1979-89 conflict, said he still doesn’t understand why Yanukovych’s administration unleashed riot police on unarmed students back on November 30. “If they would not have attacked, the protest would have dissolved,” Andrei said. “I [chose] to remain to defend my own people against a president who behaves as a dictator. We want a democratic country where people have real rights.”

Since December 12, when security forces launched an ultimately unsuccessful operation to smash barricades and break the protest movement, the Afghan vets have operated in a state of heightened alert. Each night, detachments of vets lead patrols in and around Maidan Square. Many protesters are worried about provocateurs in their midst, and vets act in a self-policing capacity within the Maidan movement. In instances when people on Maidan Square behave in an unruly or otherwise suspect manner, vets act as guards until the individuals can be handed over to police custody.


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Afghanistan to build first Women’s Police Town

KABUL: To encourage more women to join the police force in this deeply conservative and male-dominated society, Afghanistan has launched a housing project for female officers.
Women’s Police Town was inaugurated on Monday in Kabul and is funded by international donors, with Canada providing $26 million for its first phase.
It includes construction of 10 apartment buildings, each with 30 units and able to house 300 policewomen and their families in Kabul, the US-led coalition and Afghan officials said.
“This is the first such project for female police in the history of Afghanistan,” Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh told Arab News on Tuesday.
“It will be expanded to other parts of the country in later stages. The purpose is to encourage women to join the police ranks.” The project is due to be completed by 2020.
The proposed complex will be constructed in four phases, and will include an elementary school, child day-care facility, medical clinic, fitness center and community center, officials said. The government will manage and operate the school and day-care facility, they added.

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Wounded Taliban undergo for treatment inTajikistan,claims Afghan MP

KABUL:Afghan MP claims that wounded Taliban militants are undergoing medical treatment in hospitals in Tajikistan.

According to VOA, member of Loya Jirga from Kunduz province, Eng. Kamal Sapai, said on Wednesday that Taliban militants who have been wounded in clashes with government forces in Kunduz province are undergoing medical treatment in hospitals in Tajikistan.

Meanwhile, the Tajik authorities deny this statement as absolutely ‘unfounded’.

“Information spread by Afghan parliamentarian through the Ashna TV is an egregious lie,” Muhammad Ulughkhojayev, a spokesman for the main Border Guard Directorate at the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) of Tajikistan, told media in an interview .

“The Taliban Movement is designated as a terrorist organization and any contacts with it are banned by Tajikistan’s legislation,” said Ulughkhojayev.  “Official Dushanbe has never had any contacts with Taliban and that’s the end of it.”

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Senior Cleric Says Iran ‘Fully Determined’ To Boost Missile Power

Tehran interim Friday Prayer Leader Ayatolllah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami said the Islamic Republic of Iran is fully determined to upgrade its missile power aimed at “confronting whatever threat posed by Israel”, IRNA reports.

Addressing the worshipers at Tehran University, Ayatollah Khatami said “in a world where wolves rule and there is no logic in their behavior, the Islamic Republic should be armed and powerful”.

The senior cleric said Iran’s military missile might is one of the main components of the country’s policy of deterrence.

“We have missiles, we would continue building more missiles and increase their ranges”, he added.

The senior cleric further said that the most important principle of Iran’s military power is defense through deterrence.

Ayatollah Khatami said Iran would never make atomic bombs, adding that based on a Fatwa issued by Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Iran remains to believe that it should not develop and possess nuclear weapons.


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