US military chairman backs Afghanistan commander

Updated 15 November 2012
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US military chairman backs Afghanistan commander

WASHINGTON: The top US military officer said on Thursday he was confident that General John Allen would be promoted to NATO supreme commander in Europe despite his being linked to a sex scandal.
Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, is currently under investigation over thousands of e-mails exchanged with the woman who inadvertently led the FBI to CIA director David Petraeus’s mistress, leading to his resignation.
US President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have expressed confidence in Allen, but his nomination to become the next NATO supreme allied commander has been put on hold pending the investigation.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, the highest-ranking US military officer, said he “absolutely had confidence” in Allen’s ability to continue directing the country’s longest-running war.
“I asked him if he thought, in the context of this additional stress in his life, if he would be affected by it and he assured me that he was ready, willing and able to continue in command,” Dempsey said in a report posted on the Defense Department’s website.
“I absolutely have confidence in his ability to do that,” he said in an interview with the Pentagon’s American Forces Press Service.
“We have John Allen scheduled to become the (European Command) commander, and I wouldn’t want him to miss that opportunity unless there is reason for that to happen,” Dempsey said.
“I don’t see that at this point, but I see this investigation and how long it could take affecting that.”
Pentagon officials said Allen, who is married, exchanged 20,000 to 30,000 e-mails — some of which may have been “inappropriate” — with Jill Kelley, a married Tampa socialite who was friends with top generals and their families.
Earlier this year Kelley reported receiving threatening e-mails, which led FBI investigators to married army reservist Paula Broadwell and uncovered her affair with Petraeus, who is also married.
Allen denies any sexual liaison with Kelley, but the volume of e-mails, some of which is reported to be “flirtatious,” could amount to a breach of military rules on the part of the four-star Marine general.


UAE builds $190m township in Kabul

Updated 5 min 39 sec ago
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UAE builds $190m township in Kabul

  • Housing complex in Afghanistan will include 3,330 residential units and state-of-the-art infrastructure, amenities and power station.
  • With an estimated cost of $150 million, this is the first mega housing construction scheme built for free by a foreign country in Afghanistan since the ousting of the Taliban government in 2001.

KABUL: The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) is financing a 708 million dirham ($190 million) upscale social housing development project in Afghanistan.

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed City Housing Complex in the Qasba district of Kabul will include 3,330 residential units with state-of-the-art infrastructure, amenities and other support services.The project was inaugurated by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Mohammed Saif Al-Suwaidi, director general of the ADFD, over the weekend, according to a ADFD press release on Monday.

With an estimated cost of $150 million, this is the first mega housing construction scheme built for free by a foreign country in Afghanistan since the ousting of the Taliban government in 2001, Afghan officials said on Tuesday.

“The emirate has also promised to build a power substation for providing electricity for the township,” Nilofar Langar, chief spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Rural Development and Housing, told Arab News. He said that this, combined with the water filtering facility, will cost an additional $40 million.

 

 The ADFD director general led the UAE delegation at the opening ceremony. Other attendees included Saif Al-Shamsi, charge d’affaires at the UAE Embassy in Afghanistan; Sadat Mansoor Nader, Afghan minister of urban development and housing, as well as other Afghan government officials.

“Today is a happy day … that with the close cooperation of brotherly UAE, the people of Afghanistan witness a clear and distinct change in their lives,” President Ghani said in a statement.

He hoped there would closer ties between the private sectors of the two countries to facilitate commerce.

Ghani’s government has been trying to forge closer ties with Arab nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE, where Afghans have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the past two decades.

The ADFD first started supporting development projects in Afghanistan in 1977 and has since invested 1.2 billion dirhams in 14 different projects contributing to the economic and social growth of the country. Some of the key investments were made in housing, social services, health, education, transport and industry.

The ADFD has also invested in repairing major roads and bridges in Kabul, as well as Mazar-i-Sharif International Airport.

The apartment units constructed by the ADFD are being sold by the Afghan government to its employees as part of a 20-year loan installment deal, Foreign Ministry officials told Arab News.

The exodus of hundreds of thousands of Afghans from Pakistan and Iran, with little arrangement for accommodation, has led to a spike in demand for housing in Afghanistan over recent years, the official said.

FACTOID

The mega housing project was inaugurated by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday. Abu Dhabi Fund for Development financed the 708 million dirham ($190 million) social housing development project. The ADFD has also pledged to build a power station.