American Resistance To Empire



An opiod-making company has come under fire after a corporate music video used to increase sales of their drugs emerged.

The bizarre rap video came to light earlier this week during the trial of Insys Therapeutics Inc. founder John Kapoor and four other former executives of the Arizona company, who are charged with bribing doctors to prescribe patients their powerful and addictive opioids. All have denied wrongdoing.

According to the Associated Press, the music video—titled “Great by Choice”—features suited sales reps rapping to the tune of a song by artist A$AP Rocky. It was shown at a 2015 national sales meeting to encourage reps to pressure doctors to give their patients higher doses of the fentanyl painkillers Subsys.

Though approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use by cancer patients, prosecutors say many of those who received the drug did not have cancer.

In the video, reps rap about titration—increasing a patient’s prescription strength until it reaches the level required to block pain.

“I love titration, yeah, that’s not a problem. I got new patients and I got a lot of ’em,” the staff sing. “Build relationships that are healthy. Got more docs than Janelle’s got selfies.”

“What we built here can’t be debated. Shout to Kapoor for what he created,” the reps rap, referring to the founder of the company. “The competition just making noise. We’re making history because we’re great by choice.”

The rapping, dancing staff are also joined by a person dressed up as a bottle of fentanyl—the highly addictive painkiller which has become synonymous with America’s opioid crisis. The costume is marked with text reading 1,600 micrograms, which is the maximum dosage for the under-the-tongue spray.

At one point, the dancing fentanyl bottle then takes off the costume revealing the man inside—then-vice president of sales Alec Burlakoff, who pleaded guilty in November to racketeering conspiracy and is expected to testify against Kapoor during the trial.

The trial began last month and is expected to last several more weeks, the AP explained. One of the executives on trial is a former exotic dancer named Sunrise Lee who was hired as a regional sales manager despite having no experience in the pharmaceutical industry, according to prosecutors.

The executives are accused of fostering a culture of bribery and coercion to maximize the sales of their drugs. Last month, a former employee told jurors she watched Lee give a lapdance to a doctor in a Chicago nightclub to try and get him to write more prescriptions.

Kapoor’s attorney, Beth Wilkinson, has sought to push all criminal responsibility onto Burlakoff and former CEO Michael Babich, who pleaded guilty in January and is also testifying against the company’s founder. Wilkinson characterized both men as liars hoping to reduce their sentence by fingering Kapoor.

The case against Insys is one example of the government’s efforts to punish those believed to be behind the opioid crisis gripping the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control a record 72,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017, a rising trend driven by prescription opioids.

fentanyl opioid crisis company rap videoBags of heroin, some laced with fentanyl, are displayed at the office of the New York Attorney General, September 23, 2016 in New York City.DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES

Using humanitarian aid as a weapon in economic warfare is beyond criminal

Under Trump, the War On Terror Has Become the War For Greater Israel


[The inclusion of Netanyahu in this Anti-Iran conference is confirmation that the participants all support his project of “Greater Israel” (SEE: Yinon Plan).]

The US held a global summit to isolate Iran. America isolated itself instead.

Witness the Trump administration’s spectacular failure in Poland.

Top US leaders and other global officials at the Warsaw summit on Middle East security — which was mainly about thwarting Iran — on February 13, 2019.
 Sean Gallup/Getty Images


US-led conference in Warsaw this week that was intended to isolate Iran has ended up isolating America instead — highlighting one of the central problems of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

The two-day, hastily organized summit, which ended on Thursday, was billed as a Middle East security conference. But it was an open secret that the gathering of more than 60 countries was really about getting the world on board with America’s tough-on-Iran policy, even though the US denied that was the case.

This annoyed European allies, many of whom sent only low-level diplomatic staff — or not representation at all — to attend the meeting. The discord on the issue of Iran dates back most recently to last May, when the US withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and European allies like France and Britain agreed to remain in the accord.

Their reason was simple: Although Trump said Iran tried to obtain a nuclear bomb, European nations saw no indication that Tehran sought one. And even though US intelligence agenciesagreed with that assessment, Trump spurned the dealmakers by backing out of the landmark diplomatic pact, reimposing sanctions on Iran, and threatening to penalize anyone who imports its oil.

But then it got worse for the Trump administration. Europe worked out a method in January to bring in Iranian energy while avoiding American financial reprimands. That allowed Europe to keep the nuclear deal on life support while curbing the damage America’s sanctions could wreak on Iran’s economy.

Now that the Warsaw conference is over, it’s clear that the meeting has deepened the rift between Europe and America — all because of the Trump administration’s stubborn insistence on the fact that Iran is currently seeking a nuclear weapon. However, he is right to point out that Tehran is doing terrible things, such as propping up Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, launching missiles, and supporting terrorists in the region.

The four mistakes of the US-led Warsaw conference

First, the meeting got off to a bad start.

Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, spoke Wednesday at a nearby rally organized by an anti-Iran group — which was once designed by the US as a terrorist organization — for which he’s been a long-time lobbyist.

“Everyone agrees that Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Giuliani told USA Today on the sidelines of that meeting. “That has to tell you something: Iran is a country you can’t rely on, do business with, can’t trust.” While Giuliani’s comments didn’t happen at the Warsaw summit itself, it definitely tarnished the thin veneer that the US was in Warsaw to speak ill of Iran.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk during the group photo at the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East on February 14, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk during the group photo at the Ministerial to Promote a Future of Peace and Security in the Middle East on February 14, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland.
 Sean Gallup/Getty Images


Second, attendance at the official Warsaw meeting was poor.

While invited by Brian Hook, the Trump administration’s special envoy for Iran, leaders of Germany, France, and the European Union — all members in the Iran nuclear deal — didn’t come (although UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt did attend). Meanwhile, other European and Arab nations sent low-level delegates to the sessions.

That left top American officials, like Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in the lurch. Usually they would only attend events featuring their counterparts. But in this case, they flew all the way to Poland to hobnob with foreign leaders well below their stature.

Third, even high-level foreign officials who did attend made news for all the wrong reasons. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, blundered on Wednesday when his official Twitter account not only described the true purpose of the meeting, but also accidentally declared war on Iran.

“What is important about this meeting, and it is not in secret … is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran,” the tweet read.

The tweet was deleted an hour later, but the damage was done. Apparently it was a bad translation of the Hebrew word for war; Netanyahu meant “combating.” A new tweet using that word instead of “war” soon went up on the prime minister’s account — perhaps to make sure no one saw war in Warsaw.

And finally, Pence did himself no favors by using his speech to openly lambast America’s European friends.

“They call this scheme a ‘Special Purpose Vehicle,’’ Pence said on Thursday, referring to the mechanism Europe uses to still trade with Iran. “We call it an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU, and create still more distance between Europe and America.” His address amounted to a call for Europe to give up its plans to follow America’s instead.

But Pence’s demand was the ill-advised move.

Asking Europe to do something it clearly doesn’t want to do — like cut economic ties with Tehran and scuttle the Iran deal — will only damage fragile US-European relations. What’s more, it will make the Trump administration look weak, especially if those nations don’t listen to America.

“The US further widened the divide with its allies at a forum that could have been used to heal some of the wounds,” says Eric Brewer, an Iran expert at the Center for a New American Security think tank in Washington.

The embarrassment in Warsaw was unnecessary

It’d be one thing to do all this damage if Iran actually was pursuing a nuclear weapon in direct defiance of the nuclear deal. The problem is, even US spies say Iran is abiding by the accord — which means all of the self-inflicted pain in Warsaw was for nothing.

President Donald Trump withdraws the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on May 8, 2018, in Washington, DC.
President Donald Trump withdraws the United States from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal on May 8, 2018, in Washington, DC.
 Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Per a report issued by top US intelligence officials in late January, Iran’s “continued implementation” of the deal — even after Trump pulled the US out of it — “has extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about one year.”

What’s more, the report warns that “Iranian officials have publicly threatened” to “resume nuclear activities that the [nuclear deal] limits — if Iran does not gain the tangible trade and investment benefits it expected from the deal.”

So not only has Trump’s pressure on Iran not accomplished what he wanted it to, his decision to pull out of the nuclear deal could actually push Iran to try to pursue a nuclear weapon.

The Warsaw conference was surely meant to help rectify that. It did anything but.

Trump and His Lawyer Back Anti-Iran Iranian Terrorists

Why Trump’s Hawks Back the MEK Terrorist Cult


Iran’s Rouhani blames U.S., Israel for attack on elite Guards: TV
–27 Dead

US Spends $5.9 Trillion To Quadruple the Number of Sunni Islamist Terrorists Worldwide

Sunni Muslim extremist group Jaish al-Adl is seen as the incarnation of Jundallah, whose leader Abdolmalek Rigi was executed by Iran in 2010
Sunni Muslim extremist group Jaish al-Adl is seen as the incarnation of Jundallah, whose leader Abdolmalek Rigi was executed by Iran in 2010 (AFP Photo/)

Tehran (AFP) – A suicide attack that killed 27 troops in Iran’s restive southeast on Wednesday was claimed by Jaish al-Adl, a Sunni Muslim extremist group that only emerged seven years ago.

Jaish al-Adl — Army of Justice in Arabic — is seen as the incarnation of Jundallah, or Soldiers of God, which began a bloody rebellion against the Islamic republic in 2000.

For a decade, Jundallah waged a deadly insurgency on civilians and officials in the restive southeast.

Jundallah has been weakened since Iran executed its leader Abdolmalek Rigi in 2010 after capturing him in a dramatic operation.

Rigi had been on a flight from Dubai to Kyrgyzstan that year when Iranian fighter jets intercepted the airliner he was travelling on and forced it to land before arresting him.

Like its predecessor, Jaish al-Adl operates from bases in the southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchestan and neighbouring Pakistan, where it gets support from ethnic Baluch tribes.

Sistan-Baluchestan province is home to a large community of minority Sunni Muslims who complain of discrimination in Shiite-dominated Iran.

Jaish al-Adl was founded in 2012 by Salahuddin Farooqui, a militant known for his opposition to Iran’s support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s civil war.

Since then it has claimed responsibility for dozens of deadly bombings, ambushes and other attacks on Iranian security forces in the restive region, as well as abductions.

Iran considers the organisation — which it calls Jaish al-Zolm (Army of Injustice in Arabic) — a terrorist group supported by the United States and Israel as well as regional rivals Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Jaish al-Adl abducted 12 Iranian security personnel in October near the border with Pakistan, five of whom were later released and handed back to Iran by Islamabad.

In October 2013, 14 Iranian guards were killed in an ambush near the border with Pakistan that Jaish al-Adl said it carried out in response “to the crimes of the Revolutionary Guards in Syria”.

Iran in retaliation said it executed 16 “rebels” and that its forces later killed four Jaish al-Adl militants near the frontier town of Mirjaveh.

The following month, the public prosecutor for the city of Zabol, which lies near the Afghan border in Sistan-Baluchestan province, was gunned down in an assassination claimed by Jaish al-Adl.

In February 2014, five Iranian soldiers were abducted and taken across the border from Iran into Pakistan, straining tensions between the two neighbouring countries.

At the time, Tehran warned it could send troops on a cross-border raid to free them.

It also summoned Pakistan’s charge d’affaires to demand Islamabad “act firmly against the leaders and members of the terrorist group who have fled into Pakistan”.

Jaish al-Adl executed one of the troops in March, before the releasing the other four and handing them over to Iran, along with the body of the fifth soldier.

Trump’s Farce–Coalition of the Unwilling

Zionist Attack Dog Pence Pukes-Out Call For More War Crimes, Spreads Lies About Arab/Jew Unity

Coalition of the Unwilling

The U.S., not Iran, is the country that looks isolated and marginalized at this week’s conference in Warsaw.


U.S. Vice President Mike Pence leaves after his speech during the conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland, on Thursday.
Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images

There’s a saying among lawyers: Don’t take a case to the Supreme Court unless you’re sure you’ll win. Diplomats follow a similar rule: Don’t call a large international summit unless it promotes your agenda. By that measure, the 60-nation summit in Warsaw, Poland, this week has been a disaster—another sign of the shallow thinking and clueless incompetence that has marked U.S. foreign policy since Donald Trump entered the White House.

The two-day event, co-sponsored by the U.S. and Polish governments, was originally intended to be a conference of the anti-Iran coalition. But when most of the European nations bowed out, the billing was changed to address Middle Eastern issues in general. Few were fooled; most Europeans, to the extent they attended at all, sent lower-level diplomats rather than heads of state or foreign ministers—a clear signal that they assumed no important decisions or remarks would be made.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the delegates that “regime change” was not U.S. policy toward Iran. But his assurances were drowned out by the appearance of Rudy Giuliani bellowing the contrary to a crowd of activists outside the meeting hall. (Giuliani stressed that he was representing Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, an anti-Iran militia, for which he has long lobbied, but he is, of course, also Trump’s personal lawyer, so if the administration were serious about messaging, he could have been blocked from attending.)

Then there was the video that national security adviser John Bolton released on Monday, in which he said, as if addressing Iranian leaders on the 40th anniversary of their revolution, “I don’t think you’ll have many more anniversaries to enjoy.”

If you’re wondering why much of the world views the United States as petty, arrogant, and spiteful, this can stand as Exhibit A.

The big rift over all this is that the other signatories to the Iran nuclear deal—which Trump abrogated last year—are still trying to make the accord work. These include Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union, as well as Russia and China. The deal, signed in 2015, required Iran to dismantle its nuclear program and open its facilities to outside inspectors; in exchange, the other powers would lift economic sanctions. Since those sanctions had been imposed as a penalty for Iran’s illegal nuclear activities, it seemed like a fair and reasonable trade. When Trump withdrew from the deal, he reimposed sanctions—and threatened to punish other countries that didn’t follow suit.

The EU is now trying to set up a financial mechanism that will allow countries to do business with Iran in some currency other than dollars. Vice President Mike Pence denounced this effort in Warsaw, calling it “an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU, and create still more distance between Europe and the United States.”

It was an absurd pronouncement, since Trump is the one responsible for this distance. It was Trump who abrogated a perfectly functioning deal, enshrined in a U.N. resolution, for no reason at all—except that he doesn’t like Iran, doesn’t like deals that he didn’t make, and especially doesn’t like deals made by Barack Obama. And then Trump further insisted that all the other nations on the planet should abide by his prejudices, threatening to punish them financially if they didn’t. If you’re wondering why much of the world—allies and adversaries alike—views the United States as petty, arrogant, and spiteful, this can stand as Exhibit A.

The Poles agreed to set up the tent for this circus because they desperately want a permanent U.S. military base in their country and are doing all they can to appease the American president, who doesn’t care much for NATO commitments, even offering to name the base “Fort Trump.” Even so, Poland’s consul general in New York, when asked on Tuesday whether Iran posed a threat to his country, skirted the question, saying, “Poland has never said Iran is a threat to Poland. Poland is engaged in a lot of multilateral efforts to bring about stability and peace in the Middle East and the world.”

Then, at the Warsaw conference on Thursday, Poland’s foreign minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, said he was “concerned about the possible results of Iran’s nuclear program as well as the unconstructive role of the country in the region.” His statement was still ambiguous (“possible results”?) but seemed sufficiently anti-Iranian to get back in Pence and Pompeo’s good graces.

The thing is, the American officials could be making a much more potent case against Iran’s bad behavior in the Middle East if they weren’t so obsessed with Obama’s triumph. By making the nuclear deal the center of their concern, and by demanding the EU’s obeisance to Trump’s view of that deal as the central test of trans-Atlantic relations, they are pushing away our long-standing allies—and, ironically, giving Iran a free pass. As long as Iran’s genuinely disturbing actions (supporting terrorism, building ballistic missiles, pursuing an expansionist policy) are coupled to the nuclear deal (which Tehran is fully obeying), other countries will resist U.S. policies on both.

Meanwhile, on other matters in the Middle East, Pence and Pompeo condemned Iran’s role in the war in Yemen, but said nothing about Saudi Arabia’s even deadlier assaults there—while, at the same time, back home, the House of Representatives voted to end U.S. support of the Saudi campaign.

Trump is building an alliance that includes only Israel and the Sunni Arab nations of the Middle East, especially the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates—in effect, taking one side of a regionwide sectarian war, against Iran and the Shiites—at the cost of alienating other nations, including the Europeans, whose cooperation we need not only in that conflict but on other issues of still greater importance to us. And he is doing so without the support of what has been, until now, a pliant Congress.

Does Trump plan to go to war against Iran? If so, it would be a stupid move: Iran has twice the population, and nearly four times the area, of Iraq, and while many its people, especially in the cities, detest the regime and admire much about the West, these loyalties would shift dramatically in the face of an outright invasion.

Pompeo has said Trump wants to pressure the Iranian leaders into renegotiating the nuclear deal, but this is naïve at best. President Hassan Rouhani already risked plenty by signing an accord with the West. If the promised economic benefits don’t materialize, he could be replaced, likely not by Western-leaning democrats but by hard-line mullahs and the Revolutionary Guard. Even if Rouhani did have a freer hand, why—given Trump’s capricious pullout from this deal—should any Iranian trust him to abide by some future deal?

The only real problems with the nuclear deal are what it doesn’t address: There’s an expiration date for some of its provisions; it places no restrictions on ballistic missiles. But these complaints are true of all arms accords. The appropriate way to deal with these sorts of issues is not to toss out the deal but to build on it.

This was how the nuclear arms treaties with the Soviet Union, and then Russia, evolved: from SALT to the Vladivostok Accords to SALT II to START to New START—each deal restricting, then reducing, an expanding category of weapons. Some criticized those treaties for not barring short-range nukes or for not requiring Moscow to renounce communism. In the end, the Soviet empire and its ideology unraveled anyway; the exposure to the West, and the fact that negotiations did evolve, might have had something to do with that. (By the same token, though in reverse, renewed U.S.-Russia tensions, spurred by Vladimir Putin and his nostalgia for empire, are now jeopardizing the arms accords.)

The Iran nuclear deal, and the opening of that country to the West, may, over time, spark a breakdown in Tehran. Or maybe it won’t, in which case, if Iran is to remain a hostile power, better that it not be bristling with nuclear-tipped missiles. That was the logic behind making the deal. Trump rejected the logic but has nothing to replace it. He is reveling in sheer anarchy. The nothingness of the Warsaw conference should tell him that he’s spinning his wheels—but he still thinks he’s a high-speed racer in command of the road. That’s the definition of delusion—and danger.

Zionist Attack Dog Pence Pukes-Out Call For More War Crimes, Spreads Lies About Arab/Jew Unity

Trump’s Iran summit shows just how far he is from the rest of the west

Saudis Tell Israelis: Don’t Believe Netanyahu!

“Ironically, at the very same time Prince Turki was claiming that Netanyahu’s portrayal of warming ties with the Arab world was a deception.”

Pence demands EU isolate Iran as Israelis, Arabs unite

Mike Pence
US Vice President Mike Pence speaks at a conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)


WARSAW: US Vice President Mike Pence demanded on Thursday (Feb 14) that Europeans drop a nuclear deal with Iran and join in seeking to cripple the regime, a cause that united Israel with longtime Arab rivals at a conference in Warsaw.

Major European powers sent low-level representation to the US-initiated meeting, suspicious of US President Donald Trump’s hawkish impulses and convinced the 2015 deal under which Iran drastically scaled back its nuclear programme is working.

“It’s an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU and creates still more distance between Europe and the United States,” he said.

“The time has come for our European partners to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and join with us,” he said.

The Warsaw conference is timed just as Iran’s clerical regime celebrates 40 years since the Islamic revolution ousted the pro-US shah.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, visiting the Russian resort of Sochi for a simultaneous summit called by Russian leader Vladimir Putin that also included Turkey, retorted: “We see what’s happening in Warsaw, it’s an empty result, nothing.”

Pence stopped just short of calling for regime change in Iran, which has been comparatively stable in recent years amid unrest throughout the Middle East.

Pence threatened further US sanctions as “the people of Iran take to the streets” and its “economy continues to plummet”.

He accused Iran of plotting a “new Holocaust” with its opposition to Israel and regional ambitions in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen.

“Freedom-loving nations must stand together and hold the Iranian regime accountable for the evil and violence it has inflicted on its people, on the region and the wider world,” Pence said.


Pence tacitly acknowledged that Iran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal but said the issue was the accord itself, brokered under Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who did not go to bloc member Poland for the talks, said the Europeans shared many US concerns but disagreed on the accord.

“For us, the implementation of the nuclear deal with Iran is a matter of European security – to avoid that Iran can develop a nuclear weapon – and we see it is working,” she told reporters in Brussels shortly before Pence’s speech.

“For us it is a matter of priority to keep implementing it in full,” she said.

Poland – which is eager to please the United States amid fears of a resurgent Russia – said it also backed the nuclear deal but that it was important to seek common ground among allies.

“If we stand together and act in a united manner, we can come closer to resolving security problems in the Middle East,” Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said at the close of the conference.

Pence only briefly mentioned concerns with Iran’s Arab adversaries, saying the Trump administration would keep looking at Saudi Arabia’s killing of US-based dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi.

But Pence hailed the Arab front against Iran.

Top officials of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – none of whom recognise Israel – sat down with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Warsaw starting with a dinner Wednesday at the Royal Castle.

Netanyahu called the talks a “historical turning point” and voiced hope they could lead to a greater normalisation of relations.

“An Israeli prime minister and the foreign ministers of the leading Arab countries stood together and spoke with unusual force, clarity and unity against the common threat of the Iranian regime,” Netanyahu told reporters as he arrived for Thursday’s main session at a football stadium.

Israel only has diplomatic relations with two Arab countries, neighbouring Egypt and Jordan.


Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, made a rare public appearance to brief countries on plans for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians which he will present after Israel’s elections on Apr 9.

A senior European official who listened to the closed-door presentation was underwhelmed.

“Nothing new at all. It is obvious that everybody is now waiting for the outcome of Israeli elections,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Pence later told reporters the United States was making a “good faith effort” to reach the kind of deal “that has eluded the region and the world for generations”.

“While there will be compromise, the United States will never compromise on the safety and security of the state of Israel,” he said.

But the Palestinian Authority says it can no longer trust the United States as a broker after Trump in 2017 recognised Jerusalem – holy to the three major monotheistic religions – as Israel’s capital.

Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, wrote in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper that the Warsaw meeting had “tried to normalise the Israeli occupation and the systematic denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination”.


Trump Minions Dispensing “Weasel Words” On Alleged Afghan Withdrawal

US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan
US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan


The United States will not unilaterally withdraw troops from Afghanistan without coordinating with its allies, acting US Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan said on Thursday, following talks in Brussels with his NATO counterparts.

US troops make up around half of the 17,000-strong NATO contingent in Afghanistan under its Resolute Support mission, which aims to train and advise Afghan security forces and help create the basis for a lasting peace in the country after 18 years of conflict.

But at the same time, Washington is engaged in renewed efforts to negotiate a peace deal between the radical Taliban and the Afghan government, with a view to scale back the US military’s presence in the country.

There are fears within NATO that a US withdrawal could endanger the entire mission in Afghanistan, destabilizing the country and leading to setbacks in democracy and human rights.

‘There will be no unilateral troop reduction,’ Shanahan told journalists on Thursday, at the end of the two-day talks at which Afghanistan was one of the key agenda items.

‘That was one of the messages of the meeting today: We’ll be coordinated. We are together,’ he added, while noting that NATO was playing a ‘critical’ role in developing the Afghan security forces.

‘Our mission in Afghanistan remains a top priority,’ NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the 29 ministers earlier in the day. ‘We continue to support Afghan forces with training and with funding.’  ‘Of course the aim is not to stay there forever,’ he later noted. ‘The aim is to reach a political settlement which makes it possible also then, at the end, to reduce our presence.’  But any such decision would be taken together, ‘based on conditions determined together with the Afghans,’ the NATO chief stressed.

Resolute Support took over in 2015 from the NATO-led International Security and Assistance Force, a combat mission deployed to help provide security and develop new Afghan forces after a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime from Kabul in 2001.