U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., before his departure to Yuma, Arizona, August 22, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump's Afghanistan strategy has broadly been well received. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Nato applauds Trump's Afghanistan strategy



Nato nations welcomed President Donald Trump’s backing for the mission in Afghanistan as officials revealed Washington was demanding extra troop deployments from its allies.

The 15-year old Nato operation in Afghanistan has already agreed to reinforce troop levels for the train, advise and assist role it offers to the country’s security forces. The number of troops in Afghanistan is due to rise to 15,800 from 12,400.

The Times newspaper reported that Britain, which 585 troops in the country, was under pressure to increase its commitment significantly. “The pressure is on everyone in the alliance,” a source told the newspaper.

Like other European governments, the British welcomed Mr Trump’s determination to fight terrorism in Afghanistan.

“The US commitment is very welcome,” Michael Fallon, Britain’s defence secretary, said. “It’s in all our interests that Afghanistan becomes more prosperous and safer: That’s why we announced our own troop increase back in June.”

“In my call with Secretary Mattis yesterday we agreed that despite the challenges, we have to stay the course in Afghanistan to help build up its fragile democracy and reduce the terrorist threat to the west,” Mr Fallon added.

Sir Adam Thomson, a former British ambassador to Nato, predicted that Europeans would respond positively to American pressure for extra troops. Mr Trump has already successfully demanded hikes in defence spending by Nato partners. Sir Adam pointed out that the Afghan operation is a Nato-led effort, not a US war that Europe has historically supported.

“This will be a test for the rest of Nato just as the 2% burden sharing demand is a test,” he told the National. “The US is pushing its allies to continue a Nato co-ordinated coalition by reaching higher figures.”

The reaction across Europe to the overnight speech, which was widely hailed as one of the most statesmanlike of Mr Trump’s presidency, was however muted.

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An editorial in Le Monde, the centre-Left French daily, said Mr Trump had taken ownership of a conflict first taken on by President George W Bush and sustained by Barack Obama.

“The war in Afghanistan is a distant, difficult and thankless grind that has already claimed the lives of more than 2,000 Americans and thousands of Afghans, and is now his,” the editorial declared.

The German government has also declined to make any quick announcements on sending more forces but made clear its relief that Mr Trump had not precipitously withdrawn the US military from the central Asian battles.

“It is right and the federal government has long advertised that an end of the deployment is tied to the conditions on the ground,” a statement from Angela Merkel’s office said.

There was strong criticism of Mr Trump’s disavowal of nation building and investment in strengthening the Kabul government.

“I do not think it would be a good idea to increase the number of German soldiers. This conflict is not to be won by military forces, "said Thomas Oppermann, the foreign affairs spokesman for the junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats.

Retired British general Sir Simon Mayall said the even small numbers of extra troops could have a dramatic effect on the Afghan army and other security forces. He hoped Mr Trump’s speech would reverse the damage to morale inflicted by the rapid drawdown after 2015.

"The high levels of [Nato] troops were very helpful in giving the Afghans time to develop their own security forces, but then announcing we were going to leave in 2014 and running down very quickly was very bad,” he said.  "I hope that what President Trump has announced will serve to redress a number of those weaknesses."

But Theo Farrell, a war professor and Nato adviser on Afghanistan, said he could not see a new approach from Washington that would transform the landscape. “Very little new or strategic in [Donald Trump’s] new strategy for Afghanistan – amounts to send in more troops and let’s see what happens.”

Recipe

Garlicky shrimp in olive oil
Gambas Al Ajillo

Preparation time: 5 to 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients

180ml extra virgin olive oil; 4 to 5 large cloves of garlic, minced or pureed (or 3 to 4 garlic scapes, roughly chopped); 1 or 2 small hot red chillies, dried (or ¼ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes); 400g raw prawns, deveined, heads removed and tails left intact; a generous splash of sweet chilli vinegar; sea salt flakes for seasoning; a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

Method

Heat the oil in a terracotta dish or frying pan. Once the oil is sizzling hot, add the garlic and chilli, stirring continuously for about 10 seconds until golden and aromatic.

Add a splash of sweet chilli vinegar and as it vigorously simmers, releasing perfumed aromas, add the prawns and cook, stirring a few times.

Once the prawns turn pink, after 1 or 2 minutes of cooking, remove from the heat and season with sea salt flakes.

Once the prawns are cool enough to eat, scatter with parsley and serve with small forks or toothpicks as the perfect sharing starter. Finish off with crusty bread to soak up all that flavour-infused olive oil.

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

Cinco in numbers

Dh3.7 million

The estimated cost of Victoria Swarovski’s gem-encrusted Michael Cinco wedding gown

46

The number, in kilograms, that Swarovski’s wedding gown weighed.

1,000

The hours it took to create Cinco’s vermillion petal gown, as seen in his atelier [note, is the one he’s playing with in the corner of a room]

50

How many looks Cinco has created in a new collection to celebrate Ballet Philippines’ 50th birthday

3,000

The hours needed to create the butterfly gown worn by Aishwarya Rai to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

1.1 million

The number of followers that Michael Cinco’s Instagram account has garnered.