Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The National Security Adviser (NSA) Hamdullah Mohib in his trip to Jawzjan province has met with the first Vice-President General Abdul Rashid Dustom.
The NSA office in a statement said that the two sides have discussed about the elections and conducting military operations in the northern zone.
After the meeting, the two sides told reporters that the meeting was also aimed at finding a political solution.
In the meantime, NSA Mohib emphasized that the purpose of his trip to Jawzjan was to assess the security situation of the northern provinces.
This comes as Afghanistan election is approaching to its critical stage; General Dostum is one of the main supporters of the Stability and Partnership electoral team.
The first detachment of troops from the 21st Battalion “Black Vipers” Force Protection arrived in Afghanistan, the Romaia Ministry of National Defense (MApN) announced on Tuesday.
”The first ‘Black Vipers’ arrived in Afghanistan! The 21st Battalion ‘Black Viper’ Force Protection will participate in NATO’s Resolute Support Mission, in the Kandahar province, the Afghanistan theatre of operations, from February to August 2020. Easy mission! ”, the MApN’s Facebook page informs.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan Abdulaziz Kamilov who is on a working visit to Berlin has met with the Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Cooperation of Afghanistan, Mirwais Nab.
According to Uzbekistan MFA, current issues of Uzbekistan – Afghanistan agenda, as well as the situation in the region were discussed at the meeting.
The Uzbek side’s interest in establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan, and its readiness to promote the launching of inter-Afghan negotiations, was noted.
Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Cooperation expressed gratitude to the leadership of Uzbekistan for consistent steps to involve his country in the integration process in the region, providing practical assistance in implementation of important infrastructure projects.
Other issues of mutual interest were also discussed at the meeting.
The Ministry of Interior (MoI) said Afghanistan and Pakistan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking.
MoI in a statement on Tuesday said that the agreement was signed by Afghan Deputy Interior Minister for Counter Narcotics Affairs Mohammad Hashim Ortaq and Pakistan’s Federal Secretary of Ministry of Narcotics Control Amjad Javid Saleemi.
According to the statement, the agreement requires Pakistan to cooperate with the Afghan government in the area of fight against drug production, smuggling and selling.
As the demonstration continues in Ghor province, the Presidential Palace has announced that a delegation will be sent to the province in the next two days.
“President Ghani has instructed an authorized delegation to travel to Ghor in the upcoming two days and listen to the people’s demands,” President’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqi said.
He emphasized that the delegation is obliged to make clear recommendations to people’s legitimate demands.
This comes as the protest in Ghor has entered to its seventh day, with the protesters have blocked the government offices except the provincial police building and the provincial hospital.
Afghan troops have clashed with Taliban fighters as they tried to reach the crash site of a U.S. military aircraft that went down in eastern Afghanistan on Monday.
The Taliban group claimed it had downed a “special American aircraft” on an intelligence mission, while the U.S. military said there was no indication the plane was hit by hostile fire.
The police chief of Ghazni province said a heavy Taliban presence had blocked access for some 300 elite commandos who’d been sent to the crash site.
“As a result, one commando soldier was killed and all of the commando forces retreated and returned back to the city yesterday,” Mohammad Khalid Wardak said on Tuesday.
Afghan commandos will try to get access to the area again on Tuesday, he added.
The crash happened in the Taliban-controlled Sado Khel area of the Deh Yak district in Ghazni province.
The militant group controls or contests half of the country, more territory than any time since they were toppled in 2001. The U.S. currently has 13,000 of the 22,673 foreign troops in Afghanistan, down from a peak of 100,000 in 2011.
The US Subcommittee on National Security, held a hearing on Tuesday, January 28 on the Trump Administration’s strategy regarding the U.S. conflict in Afghanistan, including ongoing reconciliation negotiations with the Taliban.
The US Committee on Oversight and Reform in a press release said that the hearing examined the challenges identified in a report issued by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) on high-risk U.S. reconstruction program areas in Afghanistan as the U.S. holds reconciliation negotiations.
“Despite a bipartisan request for a briefing, which Administration officials never scheduled, and a subsequent invitation to testify before the Subcommittee nearly four weeks ago, the Department of State and the Department of Defense have refused to appear at Tuesday’s hearing,” the press release said.
The press release stated that After 18 years, the war in Afghanistan is now one of the longest in U.S. history, and although the U.S. maintains about 12,000 combat troops in Afghanistan, the conflict appears to be at a stalemate.
“To date, about 2,400 U.S. servicemembers have been killed in Afghanistan, and more than 20,000 have been injured,” it reads.
The Trump Administration’s stated objectives in Afghanistan are “to achieve a peace agreement that ensures Afghan soil is never used again by terrorists against the United States, its allies, or any country and allows American troops to return home.”
Moscow says the IS-K group has not been fully defeated in Afghanistan– contrary to what Afghan security forces claim that the group is completely defeated.
“Tensions are running high in Afghanistan. The armed opposition, as represented by the Taliban movement, has brought no less than half of the country’s territory under their control. This situation is being used by international terrorist groups, primarily ISIS, to increase their activity,” Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
“We are still concerned about their (ISIS) consistent efforts to organise a bridgehead in northern Afghanistan in order to destabilise the situation in the neighbouring Central Asian countries,” the statement reads.
“A graphic illustration of these intentions was the recent attack by ISIS militants on a border post in Tajikistan. We also see that after official Kabul’s statements about the defeat of the ISIS militants in the east of the country, they are once again becoming more active in that region. So, the threats of extremism and terrorism, as well as of drug-trafficking, which is linked to the first two threats, coming from Afghanistan still exist,” statement added.
Afghan local officials say more than 10 security forces have been killed in a Taliban’s attack in Baghlan province.
A provincial member of Baghlan, Noor Zia Aymaq told Reporterly that the Taliban insurgents attacked security forces in Dasht-e Khaja Alwan area, PD4 of Pul-e Khomri city on Monday night.
According to Aymaq, around 11 to 16 security forces were killed in the incident which the exact figure is not clear so far.
He noted that Taliban burned three Humvees and seized other equipments of the outpost to Dand-e Ghori area.
Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Tadamichi Yamamoto has hailed Iran’s role in helping solve problems faced by Afghanistan.
In a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, he explained developments unfolding in the country and appreciated Iran for its backing during years of war in Afghanistan.
Zarif, for his part, stressed the need for protecting votes of the Afghans and declaration of final results sincerely and transparently, hoping that new Afghan government would be able to start its work soon.
He also voiced Iran’s support to peace process under the Afghan government until an agreement among Afghan groups, including Taliban, is reached.
UN team is currently in Tehran to discuss Afghan developments with the Iranian officials.
President Ashraf Ghani has expressed concerns over the arrest of Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) leader Manzoor Pashteen.
The PTM leader was arrested by the Peshawar police on Monday on sedition charges and sent on a 14 day judicial remand.
Hours after his arrest, the Afghan president on his official Twitter handle expressed concerns saying: “I am troubled by the arrest of Manzoor Pashteen and his colleagues. I fully echo the concerns raised by [the] Amnesty International in this regard and hope for their immediate release.”
“While our region is suffering from atrocities caused by violent extremism and terrorism… governments in the region must support and encourage peaceful civilian movements for justice and must avoid any means of force and violence against these movements,” he wrote on another tweet.
The president also urged that the difference with “such peaceful” movements should be dealt through peaceful means.
In the meantime, in the response, the Pakistani Foreign Office in a statement said such statements are not helpful for the promotion of cordial relations between the two neighbouring countries.
“Pakistan wishes to maintain close and cordial relations with Afghanistan based on the principles of non-intervention and non-interference,” the communique said.
It also urged the government in Kabul to work together for the common objective of peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
The U.S. military said on Monday an E-11A aircraft crashed in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, but disputed claims that the Taliban had brought the military plane down.
“While the cause of crash is under investigation, there are no indications the crash was caused by enemy fire,” a U.S. military spokesman, Colonel Sonny Leggett, said in a statement.
The military aircraft, built by Bombardier Inc, is used to provide communication capabilities in remote locations.
The military did not say how many were on board or if anyone was killed.
U.S. officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that fewer than five people were on the plane when it crashed. One official said that, according to initial information, at least two people were on the plane.