Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The proclaimed president, Abdullah Abdullah in reaction to the abolishing of Chief Executive Post said that Ashraf Ghani is not the president of Afghanistan any longer.
Abdullah in a statement said, “Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, former president of the National Unity Government, is no longer president and his decrees and orders are invalid.”
He urged the “former” chief executive office’s employees to continue their work.
Abdullah added that the National Unity Government ended after his swearing-in ceremony, and that “soon the chief executive of the inclusive government will officially be introduced.”
Iran’s deputy minister of human rights and international affairs, Justice Minister and head of the Justice Ministry’s Convicts Transfer Committee, said more than 2,000 Afghan convicts are ready to move to their country.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Convicts ‘Transfer Committee and while referring to the coronavirus outbreak, Mahmoud Abbasi said that the case of more than 2,000 Afghan convicts is on the agenda of the committee, which, in the context of the convicts’ transfer agreement, is that Iran is ready to move them to their countries to serve their sentences in Afghanistan’s prisons.
“We are consulting with Afghan political and judicial authorities to move these convicts as quickly as possible,” he said.
Last month, the head of the Justice Ministry’s Convicts Transfer Committee announced: “The transfer has been carried out with the agreement of the ministers of justice of Iran and Afghanistan.”
Russia calls on the opposing political forces of Afghanistan to focus on reaching national reconciliation, instead of taking steps that exacerbate disagreements within the country, Russian Foreign Ministry said in a comment on two parallel presidential inauguration ceremonies that took place in Afghanistan.
“We call on all responsible political actors of Afghanistan to adhere solely to common national interests, to focus their efforts on national reconciliation process, which should lead to end of the civil war and to rebuilding of peaceful, united and independent state, free of terrorism and drug-related crime,” the Ministry said.
The Ministry believes that emerging internal political crisis, exacerbated by two parallel inauguration ceremonies of Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah, can undermine the intra-Afghan talks.
“The emerging crisis situation sparks concerns of further destabilization of the already complex internal political situation in the country and of negative consequences for the beginning of the intra-Afghan talks, the perspective of which appeared in the wake of the US-Taliban peace treaty signed in Doha on February 29,” the comment reads.
Russian Foreign Ministry reiterated Moscow’s readiness to continue to “fully support the friendly Afghan people” in its pursuit of stable peace in the country.
President’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi says the Taliban prisoners will be released conditionally.
Sediqqi in a press conference said that as the president’s decree states, the prisoners release is conditional on a reduction in violence, intra-Afghan talks and ceasefire.
“The Taliban said the prisoners should be free without conditions, which is not possible,” he said.
The spokesperson called on Taliban to reduce the violence and killing of Afghans, saying people have witnessed the Taliban attacks are again increasing.
“For the release of their prisoners, we want guarantees that they will not return to war. without a guarantee it would be hard to release the prisoners,” Sediqqi asserted.
“If this process fails, the Taliban will be responsible, not the Afghan government. If the violence does not stop during the intra-Afghan talks, the prisoner release process will also be stopped. We are always showing our willingness for the peace process,” Sediqqi added.
Pointing about the peace delegation, he cited that work is ongoing and consulting with political figures are underway.
“Peace is our priority… and we want this process to be successful,” Sediqq said.
Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) has called on the government for prevention plans for the coronavirus cases.
The commission said the Ministry of Public Health has reported several cases of the coronavirus in the country; therefore, the threat posed by the spread of the virus in the country has become more realistic than ever before.
AIHRC urged the Afghan citezens to comply with the health recommendations.
This comes as at least seven cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Herat and Samangan provinces so far.
President Ashraf Ghani has issued a decree of abolishing the chief executive post, the Presidential Palace said.
Based on the decree, no government written will be credible from the executive office.
In the meantime, President spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi in a press conference said, “After the swearing-in ceremony, there is no longer a chief executive office.”
Afghanistan Central Bank (Da Afghanistan Bank) officials saymaintaining an average inflation rate of 2.27%, and stabilizing the Afghani currency against the US dollar, highlighted the Bank’s major gains in effectively implementing monetary policy in financial year 1398.
The acting chairman of Central Bank, Wahidullah Noshir in a session of government’s accountability to the nation said the bank has made efforts to combat terrorism financing and money laundering, created a database of large swap transactions for moneylenders and financial services providers, and has signed two cooperation agreements with the National Security of Directorate and the Attorney General.
Noshir noted about forming the first Islamic bank; formulating a national strategy for public access to financial services and providing lending facilities to businessmen, investors and the general public and highlighted the central bank’s major achievements in strengthening the financial sector.
Officials in Public Health department of Parwan province have reported a suspected case of coronavirus in this province.
Safiullah Waresta, head of the health department told reporters that the suspected individual has been quarantined, but the case of coronavirus has not been confirmed so far.
This is the first suspected case of Coronavirus which has revealed in Parwan.
So far, at least 7 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Herat and Samangan provinces.
The conditional prisoner release order announced by the Afghan government goes against the agreement between the US and the Taliban which was signed in Doha, Qatar last month, a spokesman for the group said on Wednesday.
“It is properly explained in the peace accord that first 5,000 prisoners would be freed and then the Afghan dialogue would be initiated,” Suhail Shaheen, spokesman for the Taliban in Doha told Reuters by phone.
“We never agreed to any conditional release of the prisoners. If someone claims this, it will be against the peace accord that we signed on February 29,” the spokesman said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s decree requires all released Taliban prisoners to provide “a written guarantee to not return to the battlefield.” The document was aimed at paving the way for direct talks with the insurgent group.
Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of Kazakhstan, said that Kazakhstan must be more active in promotion of trade-economic interests in Afghanistan, reports Akorda.
“Kazakhstan must be more active in promotion of its trade-economic interests in Afghanistan,” he said at the meeting with Talgat Kaliyev, special representative of the president of Kazakhstan in Afghanistan.
He outlined importance of effective activity of special representative for Afghanistan taking into account the process of Afghan settlement.
“Peacemaking in this country meets long-term national interests of Kazakhstan, strengthens stability and safety in Central Asia. Geopolitical situation in Afghanistan is entering a new stage of development following recent conclusion of the agreement between the US and Taliban movement. We should trace the dynamics of current tendencies in Afghanistan, contribute into national reconciliation and rehabilitation of the state,” said Tokayev.
UN Group of Friends of Women in Afghanistan in a discussion on Tuesday emphasized on Afghan Women’s Rights in the peace process.
“I would like to assure all Afghan women that no decision regarding the peace process will be made in their absence or behind closed doors.” Afghanistan First Lady, Rula Ghani’s said in avideo message.
UK ambassador and permanent representative to UN Karen Pierce said, “The meaningful inclusion of women in upcoming peace talks will be critical to giving Afghanistan and its people the best chance of achieving lasting peace, stability, and security.”
In the meantime, Adam Lupel, Vice president at the International Peace Institute stated, “Restoring and sustaining peace after conflict is a whole society endeavor and women should be at the negotiating table to facilitate the environment for a successful process.”
“To Afghan women, we say no matter what happens, know that you have friends and support around the world who will stand for you,” EU at UN asserted.
Belgium representative at UN also cited, “To the women in Afghanistan, we say: know that you have friends all over the world who stand with you.”
Sweden stressed women’s meaningful involvement in all its phases, from preparations, to negotiations, to its continuous implementation.
“Canada was proud to participate in this important meeting. We continue to support the inclusion of Afghan women in the peace process,” Canada added.
Other countries including Slovenia, Norway, Finland, Kyrgyzstan and UAE also announced their support from Afghan women and stressed on their rights in the peace process.
The Pentagon’s top general who oversees U.S. operations in the Middle East said Tuesday that the Taliban has been “very effective” in demolishing the Islamic State’s presence in eastern Afghanistan.
Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, told the House Armed Services Committee that the Taliban has been the driving force in ousting ISIS from the country with little assistance from American troops.
“Over the last several months in eastern Afghanistan, we’ve watched the Taliban compress and crush ISIS presence on the ground in southern Nangarhar province, and they’ve been very effective doing that,” Gen. McKenzie said.
“It was a bloody mess, but they did it,” he continued, adding that ISIS no longer holds substantial ground in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.
Gen. McKenzie’s comments come as the Pentagon begins withdrawing troops from Afghanistan as part of a landmark peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban.
The European Union EU in a Op-Ed said that the Ambassadors of the European Union and the Member States based in Kabul and the Ambassador of Norway have offered support to the women and girls of Afghanistan.
“we express our admiration to the Afghan women we meet in our daily life in Kabul or during visits to the provinces,” the EU said.
The Op-Ed emphasized that It is essential that in the context of the peace negotiations, not just women are part of the negotiating Parties but that the status of Afghan women and girls in the post-conflict scenario is considered a matter of the highest priority.
“In the coming months hard work is required towards establishing new common ground so that we may see dignity, self-determination and respect of women and girls ensured in a future Afghanistan,” EU added.
US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad says the UN resolution demonstrates the international community supports our approach to security for the world from Afghanistan, peace, unity, and sovereignty for the Afghan people.
The Security Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution to welcome the recent progress in the peace process in Afghanistan.
“The UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution in support of the agreement we signed last week with the Taliban and the US-Afghan government joint declaration,” Khalilzad said.
He added that the resulotion also calls on both the Taliban and the Afghan government to continue confidence building measures and to move quickly to intra-Afghan negotiations.
The Security Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution to welcome the recent progress in the peace process in Afghanistan.
Resolution 2513, which won the unanimous support of the 15-member council, welcomes the significant steps toward ending the war and opening the door to intra-Afghan negotiations enabled by two accords signed between the United States and the Taliban and between the United States and the Afghan government.
The resolution welcomes the intention of all Afghan parties to pursue the successful negotiation of an inclusive political settlement and a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire.
It emphasizes the importance of the effective and meaningful participation of women, youth, and minorities, and affirms that any political settlement must protect the rights of all Afghans and respect the strong desire of Afghans to achieve durable peace and prosperity.
The resolution urges the Afghan government to advance the peace process, including by participating in intra-Afghan negotiations through a diverse and inclusive negotiating team composed of Afghan political and civil society leaders, including women.
It calls on the Afghan government and the Taliban to pursue in good faith additional confidence-building measures to create conditions conducive to a swift beginning and the success of intra-Afghan negotiations and a durable peace, including additional reductions in violence to significantly reduce civilian casualties and allow for increased international support for Afghanistan prior to agreement on a permanent and comprehensive cease-fire, as well as the release of prisoners.
It calls on all states to provide full support to promoting the successful negotiation of a comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement.
The Security Council expresses its readiness, upon the commencement of the intra-Afghan negotiations, to consider the start of the review of the status of designations of individuals, groups, undertakings and entities on the sanctions list against the Taliban.
It welcomes the efforts of regional cooperation for regional development, and stresses the importance of international and regional economic cooperation for the reconstruction of Afghanistan.
The electoral dispute between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and political rival Abdullah Abdullah has delayed the naming of a team to negotiate with the Taliban, the U.S. State Department said in a statement.
“President Ghani has told us he is consulting with Dr. Abdullah and other Afghan leaders and will announce an inclusive team in the coming few days,” the statement said.
The statement added that the current high level of violence by the Taliban is unacceptable.
“We acknowledge the Taliban have taken steps to stop attacks against the Coalition and in cities. But they are killing too many Afghans in the countryside. This must change. Violence at these levels risks drawing both sides into a vicious cycle, serves no one, and undermines peace,” the statement said.
The Pentagon’s top general commanding Middle East operations said Tuesday that the number of American forces in Afghanistan will drop from 13,000 to 8,600 by the summer as the U.S. and Taliban begin phasing in elements of a newly signed peace deal.
Speaking to the House Armed Services Committee, Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, explained the military is following through on its commitment to reduce the number of American troops in the country by roughly 4,400 servicemembers, but there are no plans to completely withdraw all forces from Afghanistan.
“We’re going to go to 8,600 by the summer. Conditions on the ground will dictate if we go below that,” Gen. McKenzie said.
“If conditions on the ground are not permissive, my advice would be to not continue that reduction, that would not be my decision, that would be my advice,” he continued.
American troops began departures from Afghanistan on Monday as part of the U.S.-Taliban deal reached in Doha on Feb. 29., which in part promises to bring the number of troops stationed in the country down from roughly 13,000.
A US general has said he has concerns about the Taliban’s relationship with Al Qaeda as the US began withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
In a US house armed services committee session, Commander of US Central Command Gen Kenneth McKenzie said if the Taliban were to further their relationship with Al Qaeda after US troops pull out, the US would be ready to reintervene.
“We know how we got in 2001, so we have an object lesson on how to enter Afghanistan” he said.
Gen McKenzie said the coming weeks would be vital to test the Taliban’s willingness to abide by the accord.
“We don’t need to trust them, we don’t need to like them, we don’t need to believe anything they say. We need to observe” he said, saying he had faith in the Afghan government to assert themselves.
Gen McKenzie said US forces were not worried about the presence of ISIS in Afghanistan as the group effectively had little presence in Nanghahar province, but noted there were attempts by the extremist group to rebuild.
Currently the US has about 13,000 soldiers in Afghanistan — 8,000 of whom are involved in training and advising Afghanistan’s National Security Forces, while about 5,000 are involved in antiterror operations and militarily supporting the Afghan army when they are requested.
Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani signed a decree to facilitate the release of some Taliban prisoners in Afghan jails, a spokesman for his office said on Wednesday.
“President Ghani has signed the decree that would facilitate the release of the Taliban prisoners in accordance with an accepted framework for the start of negotiation between the Taliban and the Afghan government,” Sediq Sediqqi, Ghani’s spokesman said in a tweet.
“Details of the decree will be shared tomorrow,” he said.
At least 1,000 Taliban prisoners are expected to released this week, five official sources said earlier, paving the way for opening direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgents.
But the Taliban want the Afghan government to release 5,000 fighters.