Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: A few changes have been made in the Office of the National Security Council based on the proposal of the National Security Council Office and the order of the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
Rafi Fazel has been appointed as the technical deputy of the National Security Council. Fazel had previously served in the Office of the National Security Council as Senior Advisor, Chief Economic Officer, and then as Chief Executive Officer. Previously, Lt. Gen. Ebadullah Ebad worked as the technical deputy of the National Security Council. Ebad has now been appointed First Deputy Director General of National Directorate of Security.
Brigadier General Abdul Moqim Abdul Rahimzai has been appointed to the position of General Director of the National Security Adviser, while maintaining his military rights and privileges. Abdul Rahimzai previously served as Strategic Relations Advisor, Director of Foreign Relations, Director General of the Office of the Deputy Chief of Security, and Director General of Operations of the Ministry of Interior, and most recently Head of the Secretariat of the National Security Council.
Haroon Rashid Shirzad has been appointed as the head of economic security of this office in a high-ranking position. Shirzad previously served as an advisor to the National Security Council.
Mehdi Taha has been appointed as the head of the Secretariat of the National Security Council. Taha previously served as Deputy Secretary General and for some time as Chief Executive Officer and most recently Deputy Director General of Local Stability at the National Security Council. Previously, the Brigadier General Abdul Moqim Abdul Rahimzai worked in this position.
Davood Anvari has been appointed as the Inspector General of the Office of the National Security Council. Anwari was previously the Mayor of Herat and most recently worked as an expert in the Department of International and Regional Relations of the National Security Council. Previously, Mohammad Hamid Tahmasi worked in this position. Tahmasi has recently been appointed Head of the Prison Administration.
Kabul: All specially-trained anti-terrorism units operating under the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had been transferred to the National Directorate of Security (NDS), said Ahmad Zia Saraj, chief of the NDS.
The director general of NDS also confirmed the CIA director’s surprise visit to Kabul on Saturday, but did not give further details about it. He added that the threat of terrorism from terror organizations had not been resolved and that Afghanistan’s NDS was linked to all the world’s intelligence services.
William Burns, head of US intelligence, traveled to Afghanistan in secret trip and as per reports, transferred two of the six specially trained counterterrorism units to the Afghan government during the visit.
However, Ahmad Zia Saraj, the director of NDS said that the transfer of units operating under the joint supervision of Afghanistan’s NDS and the CIA had already taken place.
According to him, the CIA was involved in training and equipping these units and was a joint project from the very beginning. The Director General of NDS said that all parts “01, 02, 03 and KIPAF” have been transferred to national security, are fully operational in the national security structure.
According to him, National Directorate of Security is also responsible for the operations of these units and their work is under the supervision and management of national security.
Mohammad Yasin Zia, the army chief of staff and acting Minister of the Ministry of National Defense, also said that special anti-terrorism units had been handed over to NDS when he was deputy NDS chief. Zia stressed that one should not be influenced by ISI propaganda, because these units repel the complex attacks of the enemy and they are not “militias”.
Kabul: In a case of serving their own interests, Ahmad Zia Saraj, director of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), says there is a serious tension between the Quetta Shura and the Peshawar Council.
Specifying the details, Saraj said that Mullah Baradar and Sirajuddin Haqqani are each pursuing their own team’s interests and the rift had deepened.
He added that national security forces had arrested a group of nine people who were planning to attack the first vice-president. “The controversy is between the Quetta council and the Peshawar council. In Peshawar, Sirajuddin Haqqani wants to have all the powers, but the Quetta council opposes it. Mullah Baradar wants to form his own group inside Afghanistan,” he explained.
Meanwhile, he also commented on the surprise visit of the CIA chief to Kabul, “The remnants of terrorism still remain in Afghanistan and threaten the world. We are in contact with the CIA and are working to develop a common strategy to combat terrorism and the threats it poses to the world.”
Also, Hamdullah Mohib, the president’s national security adviser, said that if the Taliban want to release their prisoners, they must provide a list that does not include traffickers.
Mohib stressed that the Taliban does not believe in peace and thinks of nothing, but war. The President’s National Security Adviser also noted that a delegation from Pakistan is scheduled to arrive in Kabul to resolve differences between the two countries, and that this meeting will be a continuation of our previous meeting with the Pakistani side in Bahrain.
The previous meeting of Afghan, Pakistani security, intelligence and political officials was held in Bahrain about a month ago with British mediation.
Meanwhile, Yasin Zia, acting minister of the Ministry of National Defense, said that NATO forces remained only in Bagram, Mazar-e-Sharif and Kabul and had handed over other bases to Afghan government forces.
He added that the Taliban used women and children as human shields in their wars against the country’s defense and security forces.
Kabul: Maimana residents in the capital of Faryab province took to the streets to protest against the removal of Naqibullah Fayeq and the appointment of Mohammad Dawood as the new governor of the province.
Mohammad Daud has been appointed as the new Faryab governor when the Independent Directorate of Local Governance announced the decision on Friday morning after the approval of the president.
Naqibullah Fayeq was appointed governor of Faryab in 2017, when there were widespread protests in the northern provinces to arrest a local commander named Qaisari. He worked in Faryab province for about three years. Fayeq used to be close to Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the leader of the Islamic Movement Party.
Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum has also opposed appointment of Mohammad Dawood. Marshal Dostum called on the people of Faryab to defend their rights.
Inayatullah Babar Farahmand, deputy of High Council for National Reconciliation, also called Mohammad Ashraf Ghani’s recent decision to appoint a new governor of Faryab “political” and “impractical.”
“In such a sensitive security and historical situation, changes without such consultation will break the bones of the Republicans,” he added. A national consensus and real unity is required, but it can be seen that “the presidential palace seeks to consolidate the dictatorship with the slogan of democracy,” he added.
Meanwhile, Shamima Katawazi, head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, says the new governor of Faryab has been appointed in coordination with Naqibullah Fayeq.
Kabul: At least three Afghan National Army soldiers have been killed in a roadside bomb blast at 11am on Saturday, Logar provincial police said.
Golhaidar Ahmadi, spokesperson for Logar Police, said that the incident occurred at Pul-e-Alam. The mine had been planted by Taliban insurgents in the Kanjak area of Logar province.
This is the second security incident to target security forces, government employees and civilians on Saturday.
A roadside bomb exploded near a car on Saturday morning, killing four civilians in Ghazni province.
Kabul: The Kabul-North highway had remained closed for some time when a number of Charikar residents of Parwan province protested against the abduction of a prominent Parwan businessman.
Hafizullah, a businessman who is a wholesaler of household utensils, had been abducted on Saturday morning, said Parwan Governor Fazluddin Ayar.
The governor of Parwan added that the abduction took place when the person was walking towards his house from the mosque after the morning prayers.
Abdul Wassi Rahimi, security chief of Parwan police, said that in order to arrest and identify the perpetrators of the abduction, police forces had deployed mobile patrols in various places.
Protesters in Parwan called on the government to rescue Hafiz and punish the perpetrators.
Kabul: With the number of daily positive cases increasing daily, the Ministry of Public Health says it is monitoring the outbreak and is preparing to curb the third wave.
A statement published by the Ministry of Public Health states that this issue was raised by Wahid Majrooh, the acting minister of health, on Saturday when he met representatives of the relevant departments, heads of public health, representatives of the private sector and institutions.
“Although the cases of coronavirus in Afghanistan is low and the situation is fortunately under control, we are still prepared to contain the third wave [of the coronavirus],” he said.
He has instructed all the departments to take precautions and even establish a monitoring team to access the situation. He called for clinical teams to take care of patients at home, spread awareness and equip health centers.
The total number of cases now stand at 57,843, while the number of reported deaths is 2,582 and the total number of recoveries is 52,392.
Kabul: A popular uprising force and a civilian have been killed in an ambush by Taliban insurgents on Friday in Ghor province, said officials.
The incident took place when members of the popular uprising were patrolling the area. Mohammad Kabiri, the district governor, confirmed the incident.
The Taliban have not commented on the matter yet.
The uprising forces are individuals who have taken up arms to secure their region with the support of the government.
Kabul: With the foreign troop drawdown imminent, a top US general has expressed concern about the ability of the Afghan security forces to protect their territory. “My concern is the ability of the Afghan military to hold the ground that they’re on now without the support that they’ve been used to for many years,” Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
This comes even as President Ashraf Ghani is confident that the forces will be able to defend the country’s sovereignty on their own.
“It’s intelligence, it’s fire support, it’s the enabling things that actually give them an edge over the Taliban. And all that will be gone,” McKenzie added.
US President Joe Biden had last week said that all troops will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks that triggered America’s longest war.
NATO said that it will follow the same timetable for withdrawing more than 7,000 allied personnel.
The US also said that it would reorganize counterterrorism capabilities and keep substantial assets in the region to respond to any threats emerging from Afghanistan. The Pentagon has said it was looking to fund key Afghan military capabilities such as the air force, and seeking to continue paying wages of Afghan security forces.
India too is likely to provide military training to Afghan forces to help develop their capacity.
Kabul: At least eight uprising forces have been killed in a drone attack on Friday in the Cheshmeh Yangi area of Takhar province, local sources said on Saturday.
Reports link the attack to the Taliban. Officially, Takhar police have not commented on the matter yet.
The uprising forces are equipped and funded by the National Directorate of Security. The Taliban had recently used small drones in Kunduz province to carry out attacks against security forces.
In one case, the group attacked the Kunduz governor’s office, killing four security personnel.
Security officials had previously confirmed that the Taliban were using drones to carry out attacks.
Kabul: In a surprising development, William Burns, the CIA Director apparently made a surprise visit to Kabul, a senior politician and a well-placed public figure said.
This move comes as US plans to withdraw all its forces by September 11 and the Taliban’s growing warnings of violence if the May 1 deadline set as per the Doha agreement is not meant. A senior former Afghan security official aware of the developments about the country’s counterterrorism program said that two of six units trained and run by the CIA to track militants have already been transferred to Afghan control.
Burns visited Kabul last weekend, as per reports. Though it is not clear who he met, some of the discussions addressed Afghanistan’s preparedness after the US pullout. Burns also reassured Afghan officials that the US would continue to be engaged in counterterrorism efforts.
The three men spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss sensitive security issues. The CIA, has however, declined to comment about the director’s schedule or the agency’s role in Afghanistan.
Burns recently told the US Congress that neither Al-Qaeda nor Islamic State extremists have the ability to stage attacks against the US Still, “when the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw, the US government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish, that’s simply a fact,” he said.
Kabul: At least six people, including two civilians and four security personnel, have been killed in different incidents in Kabul over the last 12 hours, as per the police.
A government employee, Baryalai Tokhi, was killed by unidentified gunmen in the Rishkhor area in Kabul’s District 7 on Friday evening, sources said.
In the second incident, Rafi Osmani, a lecturer at Peshgam Higher Education Institute, was killed by gunmen when he was on the way to the university in Kabul’s District 4 on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, four security personnel were also killed in an attack by armed men in Panja Chinar area in Kabul’s Paghman district on Saturday morning, police said. Kabul police spokesperson Ferdaws Faramarz said that all the incidents are being investigated.
Kabul: Acknowledging the presence of Al-Qaeda and its links with the Taliban, the US Department of Defense in a report submitted to the Congress said that Al-Qaeda continues to pose a threat to remaining US personnel in Afghanistan.
The report, Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan, stated that AQ [al-Qaeda]’s regional affiliate, AQIS [al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent] poses a threat to US personnel and allies in Afghanistan through its continued interaction with local Taliban commanders.
US President Joe Biden had last week announced a full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by September 11 ending the 20-year-long war. However, the Taliban has rejected the extension and said that if the troops do not withdraw by May 1, the deadline set as per the Doha agreement, then there will be violence.
The Pentagon report to the Congress said that al-Qaeda had been degraded in Afghanistan but cautioned that the terror group was still capable of attacking Americans in the country. The Taliban, al-Qaeda and its regional affiliate, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), along with other violent extremist organizations and organized criminal networks continue to threaten stability and security in Afghanistan, the report added.
This comes even as the US is gearing up to protect its assets in Afghanistan before the withdrawl, including deploying an aircraft carrier in the region, bombers and even increasing the number of troops on the ground to help in the smooth withdrawal.
Kabul: In a move that had been developing over the past week, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Friday ordered long-range bombers and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier to provide security for US troops as they withdraw from Afghanistan, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
Two B-52 bombers have already arrived in the region and the Eisenhower has been given an extended mission. With fighter squadrons on the go, an aircraft carrier in the region would provide additional cover in case US and other NATO forces are attacked as they depart by the September 11 deadline set by President Joe Biden.
The Taliban had said that violence will continue if the troops are not withdrawn by May 1, which was the deadline set as per the Doha agreement.
Kirby said, “The secretary has been clear we have to assume that there could be resistance and opposition to the drawdown by the Taliban. We’re going to make this a safe, orderly, deliberate and responsible withdrawal. I’m not going to get ahead of future possible deployments. There could be temporary force protection measures and enablers that we would require to make sure again that this drawdown goes smoothly and safely for our men and women.”
US President Joe Biden had announced last week that US and NATO forces will withdraw from the war-ravaged country ending the 20-year-long war in Afghanistan by September 11.
Kabul: Even though the Istanbul Summit could not take place as per schedule, a trilateral meeting between the foreign ministers of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey was held on Friday to discuss the way forward in the peace process.
The Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said that peace efforts and support for “Afghan brothers and sisters” will continue robustly. While the Afghan foreign minister called for a ceasefire and the Pakistan foreign minister said that political settlement is the only solution for the war-ravaged country.
In a joint statement issued after talks in Istanbul, Cavusoglu and ministers of Pakistan and Afghanistan emphasised “the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire” to end the violence and “provide a conducive atmosphere” for peace talks. Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar joined the meeting via video link for health reasons, Cavusoglu said.
Atmar said that Afghanistan is committed to peace process, and its desire to hold a meeting involving all stakeholders remains intact. He also thanked Turkey for its readiness to host a peace conference on Afghanistan in Istanbul.
The ministers “called on all parties, in particular, the Taliban to reaffirm their commitment for achieving an inclusive negotiated settlement leading to lasting peace in Afghanistan desired by the Afghan people, the region and the international community,” according to the joint statement.
Cavusoglu said they had a chance to discuss opportunities for the establishment of peace, stability and security in the region, and the welfare of the nations in the trilateral meeting of foreign ministers, and stressed that the Afghanistan peace process was on the main agenda.
They also “deplored the continuing high level of violence in Afghanistan.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said only a negotiated political solution can resolve Afghanistan’s issue. Qureshi added that they would like to hold this meeting not only at the level of foreign ministers but also at the level of heads of state.