US tells allies to make good on Afghan pledges

Updated 05 December 2012
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US tells allies to make good on Afghan pledges

BRUSSELS: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday it was crucial that NATO allies stick to their commitments to fund Afghanistan’s security forces after Western forces end their combat role in the country in 2014.
Afghanistan’s foreign backers have pledged $4.1 billion per year to fund Afghan security forces after 2014, but there have been concerns expressed that austerity-hit European countries may not be able to meet their commitments.
“It will be crucial for every nation to follow through on their commitments, and for those who haven’t yet committed any funding to do so,” Clinton told a meeting in Brussels of NATO foreign ministers and countries contributing to the NATO-led military mission in Afghanistan.
Clinton said it was also necessary to focus on economic and political transition in Afghanistan for which countries have pledged $16 billion to support. She stressed the importance of regional support.
“Every nation in the region has a stake in Afghanistan’s future and a responsibility to step up and help secure it,” she said.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle stressed the importance of European countries delivering on commitments.
“Of course that is not easy during times of tightening purse strings. But it is in the interest of European citizens. That is why I am making sure that the commitments made are kept,” he told reporters.
Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai told reporters that the Kabul government was fully aware of the financial pressures on countries.
“But we believe that the $4.1 bln annual funding commitment to the Afghan National Security Forces post-2014 is an investment, not only in the security of Afghanistan but also in the security of the broader region and the wider world,” he said.
“So in our view, that is an efficient, a cost-effective investment in the long-term security that the people of Afghanistan and the people of the wider region and the international community share with each other and we will count on the continued full support of the international community on those pledges,” he said.


Threat ‘acute’ as jihadist attacks double in 2017: Europol

Updated 33 min 35 sec ago
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Threat ‘acute’ as jihadist attacks double in 2017: Europol

THE HAGUE: Militant attacks on European targets more than doubled last year, Europe’s police agency said Wednesday, warning the risk of more unsophisticated attacks by the so-called Daesh” remains acute.”
Last year, a total 33 terror attacks were reported on the continent and Britain 10 of which were successful, killing 62 people, while the rest were foiled or failed, Europol said in a annual report issued in The Hague.

That figure compared with 13 reported attacks in 2016, of which 10 were successful leading to 135 deaths.
However, the “increase in the number of terrorist attacks in 2017 ran parallel to a decrease in sophistication in their preparation and execution,” Europol’s 2018 Terrorism Situation and Trend report said.

This included the attack on London’s Westminster Bridge on March 22 last year and a similar attack on London Bridge two months later when attackers simply drove vehicles into pedestrians and stabbed bystanders with knives, killing 13 people in total and wounding some 98 others.
Extremists who carried out such attacks in the EU in 2017 were mainly home-grown, “meaning that they were radicalized in their country of residence without having traveled to join a terrorist group abroad.”

In many cases “it becomes a form of personal retaliation against the country that they failed to integrate with,” Europol’s counter-terrorism chief Manuel Navarette told journalists ahead of the report’s launch.
However, the May 22, 2017, attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, in which 22 people were killed, and an August van attack on tourists at Barcelona’s La Rambla promenade in Spain in which 15 died, were linked to organized terror cells.
The Daesh group in all these cases claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Daesh militants swept across large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a so-called “caliphate” in areas they controlled.
But the militants have since lost much of that territory to various offensives, in Syria to Russia-backed regime forces and to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
“As Daesh gets weaker, it has been urging its followers to carry out lone actor type attacks in their home countries, rather than guiding them to travel to the so-called caliphate,” Europol said.
But it warned: “The threat of militant attacks in the EU remains acute, as demonstrated by the attacks which took place in 2017.”
“It should be underlined that Daesh, Al-Qaeda and other militant groups continue to pose a major threat. They have the ongoing intent and capability to conduct terrorist attacks in the West,” Europol said.
“It therefore goes without saying that supporting member states to combat terrorism will remain a top priority,” Europol’s new director Catherine De Bolle told journalists.
“To fight terrorism, it is essential to have optimal information exchange and data,” she added.
Europol’s report comes as German police Wednesday announced the arrest of a Tunisian man caught in possession of deadly ricin poison and bomb-making material to be used in a suspected terror attack.