Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
Kabul: Mohammad Qasem Wafayezada, Acting Minister of Information and Culture, said that about 50 video and audio media outlets in the country had been shut down by the Taliban due to the escalation of violence. Speaking at a meeting in Kabul on Thursday, the Acting Minister said that Taliban fighters had seized six radio stations and forced them to broadcast their “songs.”
“The Taliban slapped staff members a few times for publishing our songs and you have no right to express (publish) any other subject,” he said. The acting Minister of Information and Culture also said that in the past month, 57 journalists had fled the provinces to Kabul due to Taliban threats. According to him, 71 other journalists have left Afghanistan due to insecurity.
He said restricting media activity and threatening journalists by the Taliban meant that “the Taliban want to return Afghanistan to a dead, silent and monolithic society”. On the other hand, he added, the Taliban have also started stealing cultural heritage and irresponsible digging of historical sites. He did not provide further details.
The Taliban have previously said, however, that in areas under their control, they allow the media to operate within the framework of Islamic values, safeguarding the country’s supreme interests and adhering to the principle of complete neutrality. They also added that in Taliban-controlled areas, all historical monuments are protected from any kind of destruction and damage.
Meanwhile, in other news, about 2,500 troops from Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have kicked off large-scale joint drills at the Kharb-Maidon practice range, located 20km from the border with Afghanistan, that will run through August 10, the press office of Russia’s Central Military District reported on Thursday. “The joint drills will enable us to check the accumulated combat experience, test optimal forms of troop employment and work out common approaches to warfare,” the press office quoted Central Military District Deputy Commander Lieutenant-General Yevgeny Poplavsky as saying.
This comes even as Turkey’s government has sent village guards to the border with Iran and deployed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to help stop ‘irregular’ migrant flows from Afghanistan. Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said that Turkey is also extending a wall along the Iranian border to reinforce security. Turkey has successfully managed irregular migration from Syria and other parts of the Middle East, Soylu said on Twitter on Wednesday, responding to criticism from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) that the government was unable to control a recent influx of Afghan migrants.
The government has deployed an additional 500 village guards and 82 armoured vehicles to the border to boost security, Soylu said. He said Turkey had prevented the illegal migration of 505,000 people in 2020 and an additional 253,000 this year. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also discussed the situation in Afghanistan in a phone call on Thursday. The two also discussed the latest developments in Afghanistan in light of the Taliban onslaught that seems to have intensified with the start of the final withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops in late April.
Also, the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration External link (SEM) confirmed that the Afghan government had requested a three-month suspension of forced repatriations due to renewed fighting and the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the Swiss government has no plans to change its deportation policy, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) newspaper reported on Thursday.
Nevertheless, the SEM said it was aware of the “tense situation in Afghanistan” following fighting between government troops and Taliban forces over the past few weeks. It added that deportations would in practice only be carried out under “particularly favorable” conditions and in individual cases. There are currently 168 rejected asylum seekers in Switzerland awaiting deportation.
On the other hand, as the war intensifies in the country, the High Council of Imamia Ulema of Afghanistan said in a meeting in Kabul on Thursday that the current war in the country has no legal or Islamic legitimacy and that the government and the Taliban must negotiate. The members of the council said that while the US presence in Afghanistan is coming to an end, in the name of jihad in this country, innocent people should not be dragged to the ground and blood should not be used to achieve group and regional interests.
Mohammad Hussein Jafar Kunduzi, chairman of the council, said, “I call on both the government and the Taliban, now that foreigners are gone, what is your religious basis for shedding the blood of the people and why are you beating the drums of war?” Sayyed Jafar Adeli, a religious scholar, said: “The ulema must maintain their solidarity and carry out their responsibilities more than ever before.” The Council calls on religious scholars in the country to take a stand against the current war. “We call on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the leaders of Islamic countries and the United Nations to help the people of Afghanistan bring peace,” said Ali Reza Alizada, a religious scholar.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Higher Education has announced that this year the number of female students participating in the entrance exam in Kabul has increased. According to the ministry, 25,347 female students participated in Kabul province.
Minister of Higher Education Abbas Basir said on Thursday, that in recent years, there have been positive changes in the entrance exam process. According to him, the system of entrance exams is set up in such a way that the possibility of human intervention is reduced to zero and only the competence and readiness of the candidates is the criterion for success in this exam. He added that 58,326 candidates took part in the exam, of which 25,347 were girls. He noted that in the current situation, it is a significant figure.
On the other hand, he said at the meeting that the university courses will start on Saturday. However, he said that this is only applicable in provinces where the coronavirus level is below 35%. Meanwhile, Abdul Qadir Khamush, head of the National Examinations Office, said that the process of taking the entrance exam was organized in three stages, the first and second rounds of which included 33 provinces. According to him, the third round included the Kabul, which was postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus. Khamush stated that the results of the 1,400 national entrance exam in Afghanistan will be announced within the next ten days after the end of the next two rounds of Kabul, which will be taken tomorrow.
The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Thursday reported that 3351 cases were tested and 445 of them were positive cases of coronavirus in the last 24 hours.
The ministry also reported 15 deaths.
The cumulative number of total cases is now 149,806 the number of total reported deaths is 6879.
The Ministry of Health has called on Afghan citizens to follow health guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Kabul: Local sources in Balkh province said that one person was killed and ten others, including a soldier, were injured in an explosion near the Grand Blue mosque. Adel Shah Adel, a spokesman for the Balkh police, told Hashte Subh Daily that an explosion took place at noon on Thursday, on the Nazargah public road.
According to Adel, the explosion was caused by a mine embedded in a bicycle. He added that one civilian was killed and more than a dozen were injured in the blast, including a soldier. Ghawsuddin Anwari, director of the Mazar-e-Sharif Civil Hospital, said one person was killed and 15 others were taken to hospital. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.
Meanwhile, in other news, Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, the leader of the National Islamic Movement Party, said that the conspiracy of the enemy is great and that in order to crush this conspiracy, all politicians need to come together and make a strong decision. Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum arrived in Mazar-e-Sharif on Wednesday, via Hairatan, and arrived in Kabul last evening.
Dostum said in a meeting in Kabul that the Afghan people have thwarted the conspiracies of the enemy in the past and he hopes that they will be able to thwart them again. Dostum pointed out that Afghanistan is facing a big conspiracy and small plans cannot succeed. Marshall Dostum called on all politicians to come together to get out of the current situation and make a big decision.
This comes even as President Ashraf Ghani met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi at the Presidential Palace of Iran in Tehran. The Presidential Palace announced that the meeting took place before noon on Thursday, and that both sides discussed the expansion of cooperation and relations between the two countries. The President of Iran has emphasized the continued support of the Government of Afghanistan and the efforts for a regional consensus for peace. He expressed his support for the people of Afghanistan to preserve the republic and its past achievements.
“We support a system in which the rights of all Afghans, including minorities, are protected, and our neighbors, especially Afghanistan, have a high position in our foreign policy,” said Raisi. President Ghani thanked Iran for its assistance and cooperation in various fields to Afghanistan and stressed the need for joint economic cooperation and the expansion of relations between the two countries.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Higher Education said that the e-mail system has been opened in this ministry. The Ministry of Higher Education has announced in a statement that the system was inaugurated before noon on Thursday by Minister Abbas Basir.
According to the statement, Basir said at the inauguration of the e-mail system in the Ministry of Higher Education that the use of this system is mandatory for this ministry and its related units. He added that all officials in the ministry should use this system to play their role in providing speed, transparency and ease in the process of providing administrative services.
The Minister of Higher Education added, “We provide the necessary tools and equipment to all departments, if we do not use the e-mail system [in the Ministry of Higher Education], we will be held accountable according to the procedure.”
Meanwhile, Shukria Jamal, head of information technology at the Ministry of Higher Education, said the system generates emails for users with official position titles and digital signatures. He stressed that all directors, and general managers are obliged to use this “modern method of electronic correspondence” in the Ministry of Higher Education and its affiliated units.
Kabul: Ajmal Omar Shinwari, a spokesperson for the armed forces, said on Thursday that the casualties inflicted on enemy personnel over the past three days are unprecedented in the last 20 years. He added that in the last 24 hours alone, 200 insurgents have been killed in operations in Helmand province.
The spokesman said that the country’s defense and security forces had carried out 179 different operations in eight provinces over the past five days, killing hundreds of insurgents and wounding hundreds more. Shinwari added that as a result of these operations, 60 people, including two ISIS members, have been arrested and 12 terrorist hideouts have been destroyed. The spokesperson for the country’s armed forces said 162 civilians had been killed and 22 others wounded in Taliban atrocities, including a suicide attack by the group.
He added that the Taliban had damaged public facilities by carrying out operations and bombings, destroying 172 schools in the past two months alone. Shinwari said that thousands of male and female students had been barred from attending school due to the destruction of schools and the escalation of Taliban attacks. Shinwari said the Taliban had proved that they did not adhere to any religious norms by attacking public and civilian facilities. He said hundreds of Taliban, including Pakistani and Chechen nationals, had been killed and hundreds more wounded during the operation. He added that two al-Qaeda fighters were among the wounded.
Also, officials said that Taliban fighters had attacked the provincial capital of Sar-e-Pul, but it was repulsed by the security forces. Hanif Rezaei, a spokesperson for the 209th Shaheen Corps, told RFE/RL that one of their checkpoints on the outskirts of Sar-e-Pul city was destroyed on Wednesday night following the start of the Taliban offensive.
“In the attacks on enemy gatherings on the outskirts of the city, 34 enemy terrorists, including one of their commanders, who was from Ghor province, were killed and 14 others were wounded. One of their bases was destroyed with a large quantity of weapons and equipment.” The Taliban have not yet commented.
However, security officials in Jowzjan province said that the Taliban attack on Sheberghan, the provincial capital, has been repulsed. Jowzjan police chief Khwaja Jilani Abu Bakr told the Subhe Kabul daily that Taliban fighters entered parts of the southern city of Sheberghan on Wednesday night and clashed with security forces.
According to him, with the resistance of the security forces, the attack of Taliban fighters was repulsed. Abu Bakr said that Taliban fighters suffered heavy casualties during the clashes; but the exact casualties are not known. The Jowzjan Police said that Ezzatullah, one of the commanders of the popular uprisings, was also killed during the clashes. Abu Bakr added that on Thursday morning, police forces, in cooperation with soldiers affiliated with Marshal Abdul Rashid Dostum, cleared the villages of Khatun Qala and Sufi Qala, which had previously been under Taliban control.
Also, a senior commander of the Taliban group who was fighting against the people of Takhar in the Saraysang area of Taloqan was arrested by the popular uprisings forces.
Meanwhile, the Coordination Body of Provincial Councils released a resolution in support of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the security and defense forces. The resolution stated that provincial councils do not want the achievements of the last two decades to be destroyed in various fields. “We support the security and defense forces. We know our national and Islamic duty and thank the government for its tireless efforts for the survival of the land, the Islamic system and the well-being of its people in the peace process.”
The resolution condemned the violence and said that the Taliban and other opposition groups enjoy killing civilians, disrespecting humanity, and destroying public utilities and do not believe in peace. “In addition to protecting the Islamic values of the country, the Afghan security and defense forces have always protected the rights of women and all human rights and the value of science and knowledge, and the provincial councils are determined to prevent the enemy’s sinister conspiracies,” the resolution stated.
Further the provincial councils called on the United Nations, the US and other countries and international organizations to support the legitimate and elected republican system as in the past and to continue to cooperate fully with it in the event of a crisis. However, the resolution also added that those who have not been convicted of serious crimes be released from prisons on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
This comes even as the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said that the country is establishing an “Afghanistan Security-Defense Cooperation Management Office” in Qatar with the support of the Afghan Defense and Security Forces. SIGAR said in a tweet on Wednesday that the United States has made plans to support the Afghan security and defense forces from Qatar and the structure of the Office of Management of Security and Defense Cooperation in Afghanistan.
According to the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, this office will be responsible for providing security assistance to the Afghan security and defense forces in carrying out attacks against the Taliban. The office also repairs and maintains Afghan forces fighters and aircrafts.
Kabul: Local sources in Nimruz told Salamwatandar that the Taliban captured the Kang district of the province on Wednesday night, which is located 85 km from the city of Zaranj, the center of Nimruz. According to sources, Matiullah, the district police chief of Kang, was killed along with several others in a clash in the district on Wednesday night.
Sources add that the front line of the battle is currently located in the Nad Ali area, 10 km from the city of Zaranj, and that the Taliban are trying to capture the city of Zaranj. Sources also said that no reinforcements have reached the city of Zaranj so far.
Sources emphasized that the Taliban are trying to seize the city of Zaranj in order to take over Nimruz customs. Meanwhile, a number of civil society activists in Nimruz confirmed the Taliban’s takeover of Kang district, saying that the group’s fighters wanted to seize Zaranj in order to seize the province’s customs. Nimruz local government did not comment on this. The Taliban have, however, confirmed their capture of Kang district.
Also, local officials in Uruzgan province confirmed that Taliban fighters have killed Abdullah Atefi, a poet and historian, in the Chora district of the province. Mohammad Omar Shirzad, the governor of Uruzgan, said that the Taliban had killed Abdullah Atefi on Wednesday in Ghonchak village of Chora district. According to Shirzad, the group’s fighters first took the poet out of his home and then “tortured” him to death. The governor of Uruzgan also said that the group had imposed restrictions on women in parts of the province. The Taliban have not yet commented on the allegations.
This comes even as the US State Department in response to the Taliban attacks said that the group’s claim of commitment to a political solution seemed mediocre. US State Department spokesperson Ned Price told a news conference on Wednesday that Taliban leaders had repeatedly said they supported a political solution to the Afghan crisis, but with attacks on city centers and car bombings, their claims seem mediocre. The State Department spokesman said attacks on provincial and city centers using car bombs are endangering civilians and should be stopped.
He also called on the Taliban to stop targeted killings in Afghanistan and to refrain from carrying out attacks that would increase civilian casualties. The State Department spokesman reiterated that the international community does not recognize the future government of Afghanistan, which has emerged through power and violence. He said that if the Taliban wanted to do just that, it would be a big mistake for them and they should not at least expect international support.
Also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the announcement of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation condemning the attacks in Afghanistan. The Foreign Ministry called on the OIC to play a more active and effective role in gaining the support of the Islamic world and credible Islamic institutions to end the bloodshed in Afghanistan and hold the Taliban accountable for their crimes against humanity.
Also, the UN is deeply concerned about the safety and protection of people in Lashkargah, in southern Afghanistan, where tens of thousands of people could be trapped by fighting, as per the OCHA statement. The ongoing fighting in Helmand and Kandahar provinces has led to the displacement of civilians to adjacent calmer areas within the provincial capitals and neighboring districts, it said. In “Helmand and Kandahar, there are reports of increased civilian casualties, destruction or damage to civilian houses as well as to critical infrastructure, including hospitals. Hospitals and health workers are becoming overwhelmed by the number of wounded people. UN and humanitarian partners are assessing needs and responding in the south, as access allows. On 1 August, over 2,000 people were reached with food, water, sanitation and cash assistance in Kandahar. Since the start of the year, nearly 360,000 people have been forcibly displaced by conflict. About 5 million people have been displaced since 2012. Attacks on health facilities in the first half of the year deprived 200,000 people in Afghanistan of access to basic care,” the statement added.
The UN urged parties to the conflict to protect civilians, aid workers and civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, in compliance with international humanitarian law. The UN also called on parties to grant aid workers access to provide assistance without interference, in accordance with humanitarian principles. The UN called on donors to urgently fund Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires $1.3 billion but has only received $485million (38 per cent) in funding.
In fact, even Save the Children in a statement said that it is devastated by reports that 18 civilians, including women and children, have been killed during air strikes on the city of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. Christopher Nyamandi, Country Director of Save the Children Afghanistan, said, “Today is another devastating day for the children of Kandahar who are once again paying with their lives for this brutal conflict. We urge all parties to put an end to the violence and protect civilian lives, especially those of children – and respect the obligations under international humanitarian law. All efforts must be made to come to an enduring peace settlement so that Afghan children, who have already lived their entire lives through war, can grow up in a country free of the fear of violence, death, and injury.”
Even, International Rescue Committee (IRC) expressed grave concern for the marked escalation in violence across large parts of Afghan territory over the last 48 hours. Vicki Aken, Afghanistan Director for the IRC, said, “In Afghanistan, women and children made up close to half of all civilian casualties in the first half of this year, and the latest violence should be cause for great alarm for members of the international community. Where fighting is most intense, humanitarian aid workers have also been forced to temporarily flee. If left to unravel further, we could see a major exodus of the population to neighboring countries, with many people forced to turn to dangerous and illegal routes out of the country as external borders remain closed. The international community cannot afford to turn their backs but instead must double-down on commitments to ensure humanitarian access for the delivery of aid, advocate for an immediate ceasefire and support a peaceful settlement, and provide resettlement pathways for Afghan refugees,” Aken said.
Kabul: Jilani Farhad, spokesman for the governor of Herat, said that at around 11:30 on Wednesday night, Taliban fighters used residential houses in the PDs of 3 and 10 of Herat to attack security forces, which were met with a response from security and defense forces.
According to the spokesman for the governor of Herat, the clash has caused panic among locals. He added that the governor of Herat is currently fighting on the front lines to manage the war. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Rasouli, spokesman for the Herat Police, said that following Wednesday night’s Taliban attacks on the PD10, Wahid Ahmad Kohistani, the PD chief, was wounded with two of his men, and all three of them died after they arrived at the hospital.
The spokesman for the Herat Police added that the Taliban had fled the area after sending reinforcements. The Taliban have not yet commented.
At least seven attacks by Taliban on the city of Herat were pushed back by the security forces on Wednesday night, the provincial governor Abdul Saboor Qani said. Taliban launched attacks on districts 2, 3, 10 and 11 of Herat city on Wednesday night, Qani said, adding that “Wahid Ahmad Kohistani, police chief for Herat’s District 10 and two security force members were killed in last night’s clashes.” There are no reports on civilians’ casualties so far.
Qani said that the Air Force also conducted airstrikes in the city on in which “more than 100 Taliban were killed and dozens of others were wounded.” “These Taliban members were killed when they wanted to enter the city,” he said. On Thursday, Herat clashes entered 9th day.
Mohammad Ismail Khan, former mujahedeen leader who is now leading the fight against the Taliban in Herat along with scores of public resistance forces, said on Wednesday that “the war in Herat city is being led by Pakistan.” He urged the residents of Herat city to rise up against the “clear aggression” of Pakistan, saying: “I want to make it clear that the war in Herat is a war between Pakistan and Afghanistan.” “This is not the Taliban’s war and the Taliban is a tool. Just as the Afghan people did not accept the dominance of the United States, Russia and other superpowers, they should not accept Pakistani dominance either.”
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry said that security forces have recaptured Badpash district in Laghman province from Taliban fighters. Ahmad Zia Zia, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said that the district was captured by government forces on Wednesday night. Zia added that a large number of Taliban fighters had been killed during the operation to retake Badpash district. NDS Unit 02, however, said that special forces had recaptured Padpash district from Taliban fighters. The statement from NDS stated that the district is currently under the control of Special National Security Forces. Padpash district in Laghman province, east of Kabul, fell to Taliban militants about a month ago.
Meanwhile, the operation to clear Lashkargah city of insurgents has begun. Also, Faryab Police Chief Rohullah Khaliloghlo has warned Maimana city’s PD chiefs that they will not be forgiven if they leave battlefields. Khaliloghlo said that the day had come for their sacrifice and to stand against the enemy.
On the other hand, Taliban insurgents shot dead a policewoman in Parwan. Jabal Saraj district chief Mohammad Hashir Raufi told Salamwatandar that the policewoman was on duty in Bagram district of the province and her house was in Jabal Saraj district. According to him, Taliban fighters shot the woman on Wednesday evening in the village of Ezat Khel in Jabal Saraj district while she was on her farm. The Taliban have not yet commented.
Also, Laily Tabesh, a journalist and presenter for an online TV channel in Badakhshan, claims to have survived an attack on Wednesday morning. Tabesh told Salamwatandar that when she was walking towards her office, a masked man attacked her with a knife in his hand. Tabesh added that in the past, she has been threatened by people to stop her media activities and not appear on TV programs. She says the attacks will not stop her from continuing her work, and she will continue to work in the media. Lina Shirzad, the provincial head of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee in Badakhshan, also confirmed the attack.
Local officials in Nangarhar province said that Taliban fighters have blown up three bridges in the province. Ataullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar, said that the incident took place on Wednesday night in the village of Fateh Abad area of Surkh Rod district of the province. According to him, with the destruction of these bridges, the roads of Surkh Rod, Hisarak, Khogyani and Sherzad districts have been blocked to the traffic. The Taliban have not yet commented. In the past few months, Taliban fighters have set fire to government facilities and looted government materials and goods after seizing parts of Afghanistan, according to government officials.
Also, Badghis Governor Hesamuddin Shams said bodies of three people were found on Wednesday by police in the suburbs of Qala-e Naw, the provincial capital. According to him, the cause of death of these three people is not clear yet and investigations have begun in this regard. Officials at Badghis Provincial Hospital also said that three bodies were taken to the hospital. According to them, bullet marks can be seen on the bodies of these three people.
On the other hand, the Bamyan provincial press office said that sports competitions were held in the province with the support of the country’s security and defense forces. A statement issued by the Bamyan governor said that the tournament was held on Wednesday in the presence of Mohammad Taher Zaheer, the governor, security forces and a number of educators from the province, at the Ruhollah Nikpa Stadium. According to the announcement, the competition was organized by the Department of Physical Education and Sports of Bamyan province and was attended by more than 250 male and female athletes in various categories.
Welcoming the athletes’ action, Bamyan Governor said that the good feeling and support of the athletes shows the empathy, strength and unity of the youth and people of Bamyan in cooperating with the security forces.
Kabul: The NUJ has joined media organizations to call for government and international assistance for media workers threatened in Afghanistan by the Taliban. A letter signed by the union, newspapers, broadcasters and media organizations to the UK Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary said that news reporting in the UK has been heavily reliant on the loyalty and commitment of Afghan journalists, translators and support staff.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said, “The situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating quickly and it is time for the authorities here to step up and offer support and assistance to those who are threatened.” The NUJ is calling for a special Afghan visa program for Afghan staff who have worked for the British media so that they and their families can leave Afghanistan and find safety. The letter said, “If left behind, those Afghan journalists and media employees who have played such a vital role informing the British public by working for British media will be left at the risk of persecution, of physical harm, incarceration, torture, or death. The Biden Administration this week recognized the threat to journalists and media staff with US links, giving them access to its refugee program for Afghans.”
The International Federation of Journalists said that attacks, threats and censorship of journalists by the Afghan government and the Taliban had increased sharply since the withdrawal of foreign troops. Also, the Government of Canada welcomed the first flight carrying Afghan refugees who provided crucial support to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan on Wednesday. More flights are scheduled to arrive in the coming days and weeks.
In fact, Belgium’s Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi said that the Turkey-EU deal for Syrian refugees should be expanded to include Afghan refugees as well. “Together with other EU countries, we have written a letter to the European Commission. We have expressed our concerns and asked for guidelines on dealing with influxes of refugees in the future,” Mahdi told reporters on Monday (August 2), according to The Brussels Times. “These people should be welcomed to the region first. It is important that migrants fleeing war can be given protection nearby. Establishing Turkey as a safe third country for Afghans would help us manage migration flows,” said Mahdi, echoing an earlier statement by the US Department of State.
“The Turkey agreement allows us to offer better protection to Syrians who seek asylum in Turkey who then receive robust refugee status. We must look into how this agreement can be extended to Afghan refugees at the European level so that they can also benefit from adequate protection,” he added. The US Department of State on Monday suggested Turkey as a possible application spot for citizens of Afghanistan who worked for the US government and their families. Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the US statement, noting that it was not consulted about the issue. “This announcement will cause a major refugee crisis in our region and increase the misery of Afghans on the migration routes,” it said in a written statement.
However, condemning the violence, US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed the Biden administration’s decision to pull troops from Afghanistan, noting that Taliban forces have advanced in key provincial capitals in the wake of the U.S. withdrawing from the region. The Kentucky Republican argued that the Taliban’s gains were foreseeable, skewering the administration’s decision to move forward with reducing military presence in the area. “In April, when President Biden announced his intention to pull U.S. forces out of Afghanistan, he said it was, quote, ‘time to end the forever wars.’ But at every stage of the rushed and rudderless retreat that has followed, the Biden Administration’s wishful thinking hasn’t come within a country mile of the reality,” he said on the floor on Wednesday.
“By any account, the situation in Afghanistan has become worse as we have headed to the exits. We will live with the security, humanitarian, and moral consequences for years to come. And this whole debacle was not only foreseeable; it was foreseen.” McConnell cited security experts stating that the “Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield” if the U.S. withdrew support, alleging Biden officials dismissed the threat, adding that the decision could pose a threat to the homeland should it not be addressed swiftly.
In fact, two former defense ministers have called on British forces to return to the frontline in Afghanistan to stop the Taliban taking over. Ex-Commando Johnny Mercer and Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the Commons defense committee, are leading calls for the UK to reverse its decision to abandon the country. “We have aircraft all over the Middle East. We should be dropping bombs and killing Taliban,” Mercer said. “No call for air support from Afghan troops on the ground should go unanswered.”
General Sir Nick Carter, the head of the UK’s armed forces, said that Afghanistan becoming a failed state is ‘one of the scenarios that could occur’ unless government forces can resist the Taliban. Carter said the Afghan forces had to reach a military stalemate with the Taliban, at which point peace talks could occur. The Chief of the Defense Staff also warned the international community not to legitimize the Taliban and its leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who has recently held talks with senior figures in China.
“And if they can achieve a military stalemate, then there will have to be a political compromise. Even the Taliban at the level of Baradar recognize that they can’t conquer Afghanistan. There has to be a conversation. And the important thing is to achieve the military stalemate that can then bring on that conversation,” he told BBC Radio.
He said there have been ‘grisly videos of war crimes’ and we mustn’t let them get away with this. Gen Carter also acknowledged the UK had a ‘huge moral responsibility’ to the Afghans who helped British troops by acting as translators.
Kabul: TS Tirumurti, Ambassador of India to United Nations, New York, announced on Twitter on Thursday that the United Nations Security Council will meet on Friday (August 6) under Indian Presidency to discuss and take stock of the situation in Afghanistan.
This comes even as a diplomatic source told TASS on Wednesday that the meeting would be held soon. Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar had urged India to call for an emergency session of the UNSC to discuss the escalating violence in the country and the Taliban’s offensive. The situation in the country is deteriorating as the Taliban ramped up intensity of its attacks on several directions. On Tuesday, the UNSC already adopted a statement on Afghanistan, demanding that all parties to the conflict reduce the scale of violence. In fact, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Russia will highlight the continuing relevance of the Moscow consultations on Afghanistan, at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
According to the ministry, Moscow and its partners in the extended Troika, which brings together Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan, together with both of the Afghan negotiating teams, are working to promote the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan. “Together with our partners within the ‘Troika Plus’ and with the participation of both Afghan negotiating teams, we are working to advance national reconciliation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. We attach particular importance to regional cooperation, primarily through the SCO [Shanghai Cooperation Organization] and the CSTO [Collective Security Treaty Organization]. We note the continuing relevance of the Moscow format of consultations on Afghanistan. We support the work of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA),” the statement reads.
The Russian Foreign Ministry emphasized Moscow’s consistent position on promoting the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan. “We consistently pursue the policy aimed at facilitating the process of national reconciliation in Afghanistan. We are seriously concerned about the use of a deteriorating domestic political environment to undermine the peace process,” the statement said.
This comes even as the former police chief of Kandahar and a member of the High Council of the National Reconciliation (HCNR), Tadin Khan, on Wednesday stated that the Taliban “does not believe in human rights,” saying the group has killed potentially up to 900 people in Kandahar province in the past month and a half.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a statement saying that Taliban forces that are advancing in Ghazni, Kandahar, and other Afghan provinces have summarily executed detained soldiers, police, and civilians with alleged ties to the Afghan government. The Taliban denied the allegations. According to Tadin Khan, the Taliban forcefully took these 900 people from their homes and killed them. “They possibly martyred 800 to 900 people in the past month and a half. The people have suffered enormously. The brutality that occurred in Boldak (Spin Boldak district of Kandahar) is unforgivable,” said Tadin Khan.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Seyyed Ebrahim Raisi said that today’s insecurities in Afghanistan, which is rooted in foreign interference in this country, is not in interest of anyone. Speaking in his meeting with the Speaker of Tajik Parliament Mohammad Taer Zakerzade on Wednesday, newly-elected president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Seyyed Ebrahim Raeisi considered the relations between the two countries of Iran and Tajikistan ‘based on empathy, common language’ and added that Tehran-Dushanbe relations are beyond the normal ties, so that giant steps should be taken to improve the level of these relations relying upon cultural and civilizational similarities.
Developing relations between Iran, Tajikistan and Afghanistan as three Persian-speaking countries is of paramount importance, he said, adding that today’s insecurity in Afghanistan, which is rooted in foreign interference in the country, is not in interest of anyone and Iran and Tajikistan must work more closely together to address this common concern both in bilateral and international fields.
On the other hand, the General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) too expressed its deep concern about the high levels of violence in Afghanistan and strongly condemned the recent attacks against civilians across the country. It reiterated the OIC’s principled and firm stance against all forms and manifestations of terrorism. The OIC Secretary General, Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, called for an immediate ceasefire and reiterated OIC’s commitment to supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive peace and reconciliation process towards reaching a political solution, and ensuring that the process is backed by regional actors and supported by the international community.
However, as the Taliban steps up its offensive in Afghanistan, India on Wednesday said it remains vigilant and is taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of Indians in the war-torn country. Reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Indian Minister of State of External Affairs V Muraleedharan, said, “The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated in the recent past. In view of this, the government remains vigilant.” He added that the Indian embassy in Kabul continues to function normally and is providing regular consular and visa services.
Also, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is advising against all travel to Afghanistan and urged all its citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country. The decision to tighten the travel advice for Afghanistan was taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday on the basis of the Ministry’s assessment that the overall security situation in the country has deteriorated.
This travel advice is a supplement to the pandemic-related global travel advice against non-essential travel to all countries outside the EU/EEA, Switzerland and the UK except for certain countries on the EU’s list of epidemiologically safe third countries.