Trump declares bombing is “successful job” — but for what?

Developments on Day 84 of the Trump Administration:

“Mother of All Bombs” Dropped on Afghanistan — Why?

The US military has dropped its most powerful non-nuclear bomb for the first time, claiming to hit Islamic State positions in caves in Afghanistan.

See also Podcast: Dropping the “Mother of All Bombs” — What Does It Mean?

A GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb, nicknamed the “Mother of All Bombs”, was dropped on the network of fortified underground tunnels which ISIS was said to be using to stage attacks on Afghan government forces.

Afghan officials said 36 militants were killed in the strike in Nangarhar Province in the southeast, near the Pakistan border. The US military has estimated ISIS had 600 to 800 fighters operate in the area.

The blast destroyed three underground tunnels as well as weapons and ammunition, but no civilians were hurt, an Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman said.

A local resident, 2 km (1.25 miles) from the blast, said there was an “extremely loud boom that smashed the windows of our house”.

The motive for using the MOAB — which takes its nickname from its testing at the time of the 2003 Iraq War, called the “mother of all battles” by Saddam Hussein — rather than smaller bombs is unclear.

However, its use comes in the context of expanding action by the Pentagon, particularly with airstrikes. Rules of engagement have been relaxed for bombing and drone attacks from Yemen to Somalia. The US has also stepped up its aerial attacks inside Syria, including more strikes in support of an offensive against ISIS and the first deliberate missile launches against an Assad regime position.

Multiple Afghan officials initiallly said they had no information about the bombing before it happened; however, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry later said the bombing was carried out “in coordination” with Afghan military forces.

Trump Proclaims “Successful Job”

Donald Trump said that the bombing was “another successful job”.

The Afghan Ambassador to the US, Hamdullah Mohib, said the MOAB was dropped after fighting had intensified over the last week, with Afghan forces — supported by US troops — were unable to advance because ISIS had mined the area with explosives.

Locals said more than 3,000 families have fled the district in the past year since ISIS established its presence. One man said there are no civilians left in the area.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani tweeted that the bombing was “designed to support the efforts of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and US forces … conducting clearance operations in the region”. He assured, “Precautions were taken to avoid civilian casualties with this airstrike.”

However, former President Hamid Karzai criticized the operation, saying the US was using Afghanistan to battle-test the MOAB.

Neither Trump nor the US military explained how the use of MOAB against ISIS would reshape the main conflict in Afghanistan, with the Taliban — ousted by a US-backed force from Kabul in November 2001 — continuing to challenge the Government and hold much of the country.

In February, General John Nicholson warned of a stalemate in the country. He told US lawmakers that the current troop level was insufficient, including a “shortfall of a few thousand” advisers to train Afghan security forces.

Senior US military officials say the Taliban “control or contest” areas with about 10 million people, a third of the population of the country.

TOP PHOTO: Donald Trump announces the first use of the US’s largest non-nuclear bomb

Trump Signs Bill Allowing States to Defund Family Planning

Donald Trump signs a bill allowing states to withhold family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and from clinics that provide abortions.

The bill overturns a rule enacted by Barack Obama just before the end of his Presidency.

Planned Parenthood is the country’s largest abortion provider, but its clinics also provide contraceptive services, HIV and pregnancy testing, and cancer screenings, which federal family planning grants help pay for. Federal dollars are prohibited by law from going toward most abortions.

The legislation signed by Trump passed the Senate last month after Vice President Mike Pence issued a tie-breaking vote.

Administration Plan Removes Protections for Immigrants

The Trump Administration is planning to remove protections for immigrants facing deportation, according to two Homeland Security officials with knowledge of the proposals.

The new guidelines will make no mention of the need for translation services. A rule that detainees’ requests for medical care must be evaluated by a professional within 24 hours will be replaced by a requirement that prisons merely have procedures on providing medical care. Prisons will still maintain policies for suicide prevention, solitary confinement and other concerns, but there are no specifications what those policies should contain.

The changes coincide with the closure of the office that develops the regulations.