Security in Afghanistan "Unstable and Insufficient"
At United Nations Security Council briefing yesterday, Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi called the security situation in Afghanistan "unstable and insufficient." Brahimi called for the expansion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) outside of Kabul to the rest of Afghanistan in order to support the development of a new constitution, voter registration, and the 2004 elections. "The issue of security ... casts a long shadow over the whole peace process and, indeed, over the whole future of Afghanistan," Brahimi said, according to Reuters.
While the US government has refused to support the expansion of international peacekeeping forces beyond Kabul, they are now assembling an international peace force to foster security in Iraq nationwide. Early reports indicate that Iraq will be split into several sectors with different countries securing different sectors, according to BBC News. A division of about 20,000 US troops will run the central sector, including Baghdad, BBC reports. The US may fund Poland to send between 1,500 and 2,200 troops to secure the northern sector of Iraq.
Unlike Iraq, American presence in Afghanistan has been limited to about 9,000 troops countrywide, with an additional 4,800 international peacekeeping troops concentrated in Kabul. "With so few troops in Afghanistan and without a national Afghan army or police force, our lack of commitment to international peacekeeping troops is essentially turning Afghanistan over to the warlords and a lack of security," said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority. "These are the conditions that fostered the rise of the Taliban in the first place." The Feminist Majority continues leading the call for ISAF expansion, increased reconstruction funding, and for more resources to support the work of the Ministry of Women's Affairs and the Independent Human Rights Commission.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .