KABUL, Afghanistan – As the Afghan war began its 12th year Sunday, fears loom that the country will again fracture along ethnic lines after international combat forces leave by the end of 2014.
Unfortunately in Afghanistan, we do not have any political unity, said Gen. Sayed Hussain Anwari, a former governor of Kabul and Herat provinces who led fighters during the civil war that ran from 1992 to 1996.
The Taliban, dominated by the ethnic Pashtun majority, have strongholds in the south. Ethnic minorities such as Tajiks, Hazaras and Uzbeks live predominantly in central and northern Afghanistan. The fear is that when international forces leave, minority groups will take up arms to prevent another Taliban takeover and that members of the Afghan security forces could walk off the government force and fight with their ethnic leaders.
Deal triples range of S. Korean missiles
South Korea said Sunday that it would nearly triple the range of its ballistic missiles, allowing it to strike all parts of North Korea and a sliver of China, under a new deal with the United States.
The bilateral agreement frees Seoul to develop and use significantly more muscular missile technology at a time of steady concern about belligerent North Korea. Under the new deal, South Korea can now extend the range of its ballistic missiles to 497 miles, up from the previous 186 miles.
Syria, Turkey clash at border continues
Turkey and Syria fired artillery and mortars across their volatile border for a fifth consecutive day Sunday, in one of the most serious and prolonged flare-ups of violence along the frontier.
The exchange of fire stoked fears that Syria’s civil war will escalate into a regional conflagration drawing in NATO member Turkey, once an ally of President Bashar Assad but now a key supporter of the rebels fighting to topple him.
Kuwaiti parliament dissolved by ruler
Kuwait’s ruler dissolved parliament Sunday, a step toward ending months of political gridlock and calling the second elections this year that could again swing in favor of opposition groups led by Islamist factions.
The move by Kuwait’s Western-allied emir, announced on state-run media, followed a failed attempt last month by the government to overturn a voting district law that appeared to favor the opposition. New elections must now be held within 60 days.
Israeli planes buzz Lebanese villages
Israeli warplanes swooped low over Lebanese villages Sunday in a menacing show of force apparently aimed at the Hezbollah guerrilla group after a mysterious raid by an unmanned aircraft that was shot out of Israeli skies over the weekend.
Israel was still investigating Saturday’s shoot-down, but Hezbollah quickly emerged as the leading suspect because it has an arsenal of sophisticated Iranian weapons and a history of trying to deploy similar aircraft.
Philippines, rebels reach peace deal
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III announced Sunday that his government has reached a preliminary peace deal with the nation’s largest Muslim rebel group in a breakthrough toward ending a decades-long insurgency.
The agreement, to be signed Oct. 15 in Manila, spells out general principles on the extent of power, revenues and territory of the Muslim region. If all goes well, a final peace deal could be reached by 2016, when Aquino’s six-year term ends, officials said.
Vandal defaces art at London gallery
A vandal scrawled graffiti on a mural by modern American master Mark Rothko at London’s Tate Modern on Sunday.
The mural, one of Rothko’s Seagram series, was defaced when a visitor to the Tate applied a small area of black paint with a brush to the painting, the gallery said.
A photograph posted on Twitter by a gallery visitor showed words, including the name Vladimir, scrawled in the corner of the painting.