- - Sunday, October 7, 2012

KABUL — America’s longest war entered its 12th year Sunday, with the anniversary marked by a Taliban statement claiming that NATO forces are “fleeing Afghanistan” in “humiliation and disgrace.”

The U.S.-led the invasion on Oct. 7, 2001, to topple the Taliban government for harboring Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The Taliban were quickly routed, but launched an insurgency that grew in strength over the years until NATO had an estimated 130,000 troops from 50 countries defending the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

The troops have now begun pulling out, and all foreign combat forces will be withdrawn by the end of 2014, according to a withdrawal schedule agreed by the United States and NATO.

“With the help of Allah, the valiant Afghans under the Jihadi leadership of Islamic Emirate defeated the military might and numerous strategies of America and NATO alliance,” the Taliban said in a statement Sunday.

“And now after eleven years of unceasing terror, tyranny, crimes and savagery, they are fleeing Afghanistan with such humiliation and disgrace that they are struggling to provide an explanation.”

A total of 3,199 NATO soldiers have been killed in the war, more than 2,000 of them Americans. Most deaths occurred in the past five years as Taliban attacks escalated, according to icasualties.com.

KUWAIT

Emir dismisses parliament

KUWAIT CITY — 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.

Kuwait is one of America’s most strategic Persian Gulf military allies. Its strategic importance to Washington rose sharply after the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq in December. It is now the hub for U.S. ground forces in the Gulf region, where the United States and its Arab allies seek to counter Iran’s military buildup.

Kuwait has been political limbo for months as the government has tried to challenge the voting system in the February elections, which gave Islamists and allies control of the 50-seat parliament. A stopgap parliament, comprising lawmakers elected in 2009, was installed in June, but it never held any sessions.

Opposition leaders had called on Kuwait’s ruler, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, to end the impasse and call new elections.

JAPAN

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