Newsfeed; Saturday, July 31 2021

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…

  • 31 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Civilian Flights To Herat Suspended

    Kabul: The Civil Aviation Authority of Afghanistan said that due to increased insecurity, civilian flights to Herat have been suspended until further notice.

    A spokesperson for the agency, Naeem Salehi, told the BBC that clashes between government forces and the Taliban had intensified in Pul-e Malan, where the Khwaja Abdullah Ansari airport is located. He said that passenger and flight immunity “must be 100 percent” for flights to take place. But according to Salehi, in the current poor security situation, this is not possible.

    He said that once the situation returns to normal, flights will resume. There are six daily civilian flights from Herat to Kabul and other provinces. The United Nations also has flights to and from the province, all of which have been suspended for the time being. Clashes between government forces and the Taliban have reportedly intensified near the provincial capital.

    All this comes even as President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has called for an extraordinary meeting of the National Assembly. Hojjatullah Kheradmand, the deputy secretary of the House of Representatives, told Hashte Subh on Saturday that an extraordinary session of both houses of the National Assembly would be held on Monday at the request of the president.

    According to him, the president will address the meeting. He said that the agenda of this extraordinary meeting is to discuss security and peace issues.

    In other news, 20 generators arrived in Jalalabad city from Bagram Air Base, at the order of President Ghani. Provincial Breshna Head Ghulam Haidar Faqirzai said that the generators have the capacity to provide 10.5mg of electricity, which will increase electricity in the province to 115.5mg. Faqirzai added that the central government has also been asked to provide fuel for generators, as per the Nangarhar governor’s office.

    Meanwhile, Reporters Without Borders has warned that the escalation of the war in Afghanistan will lead to the closure of more media outlets in the country. Reza Moeini, head of Afghanistan and Iran at the organization, called on the international community to support Afghan journalists at a news conference in Kabul on Saturday. He described the deliberate killing of 11 journalists in the country as a “major catastrophe” for the media community in Afghanistan and around the world.

    Moeini said that Reporters Without Borders has taken the case of the murder of 11 Afghan journalists to the International Criminal Court in the Hague this year and called for an investigation into their killings. Moeini also said that more than 70 journalists had been killed in Afghanistan since 2001, 17 of them foreign journalists.

    Also, over the past 48 hours, Kabul police arrested 17 suspects from different parts of Kabul in connection with committing criminal acts. These people are associated with crimes such as armed robbery, illegal weapon transfer, mobile phone theft, beating, misdemeanor crimes and extortion from the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, 11th, 12th, 13th, 16th PDs and Deh Sabz districts of Kabul have been identified and detained by the police. Police confiscated four rounds of handguns from the detained suspects. Police also received two stolen vehicles and handed them over to their owners.

    On the other hand, the Taliban have confirmed that members of the group executed two people in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province on charges of murder and kidnapping. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told Subhe Kabul daily that two people involved in murder and kidnapping who had confessed to the crime were executed by members of the group in Helmand.

    According to him, a kidnapped child has also been released from their clutches. The Taliban spokesman did not provide further details; but social media users posted a video saying that the two men were executed by Taliban fighters in the district on Saturday morning. Security officials have not commented on the matter.

    Meanwhile, residents of Paktia province’s districts under Taliban control said that Taliban fighters in those districts have banned the teaching of a number of school subjects. But officials from the province’s education department say the teaching of these subjects is proceeding normally.

    In addition to Patan, Samkani, Janikhel and Zazai Aryub districts, the Taliban have told schools in a number of other districts to teach other subjects instead of patriotism, culture, civics and vocational education. Meanwhile, a resident of Paktia’s Samkani district said that the Taliban insurgents go to Samkani High School once a week, where they teach students how to use weapons. He added that the Taliban teach their thoughts to students and attract them to their ranks.

  • 31 Jul 2021 Share this post

    124,800 Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccine Arrive In Afghanistan

    Kabul: Building on a pledge of SEK 2450 million to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (Gavi COVAX AMC), the Swedish government has now donated the first of a pledge of three million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines. The first deliveries from this donation have now arrived in Afghanistan (124,800 doses) and Kyrgyzstan (228,000 doses).

    This comes even as the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) recorded 319 new positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection and 28 deaths in the past 24 hours. The total number of cases now stand at 147,473, while the death toll is 6,736.

    “The Government of Sweden is one of the original six donors to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and has steadily increased its support to global vaccination over the past 20 years. In addition to its already-substantial funding of COVAX, Sweden’s dose donations will help COVAX reach some of those in urgent need of protection against COVID-19,” added Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which manages the COVAX Facility and the Gavi COVAX AMC. “We welcome this act of solidarity and understanding that, when it comes to COVID-19, no-one is safe until everyone is safe.”

    “Sweden supports a robust multilateral response to the COVID-19 pandemic through COVAX. We have provided over USD 280 million, making Sweden the largest contributor to COVAX per capita. Sweden is also contributing to global equitable distribution of vaccines by donating at least 3 million non-earmarked doses to COVAX in 2021. COVAX, in partnership with the WHO, decides how doses are allocated, ensuring distribution in a fair and equitable manner where doses are received where they are needed the most. Decisions are based on a broad assessment of the needs, risks and readiness of participating countries. Sweden does not provide guidance where doses should be allocated,” said Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden.

    These doses donated by Sweden are produced by the AstraZeneca manufacturing network. Donating through COVAX helps to increase vaccine coverage, ensures that no dose goes to waste, and helps to bring an end to the acute phase of the pandemic. The design and operationalization of the COVAX dose sharing mechanism is being supported by a contribution of CAD 5 million from Canada.

    The donation of doses via COVAX are enabled via tripartite agreements between Gavi, manufacturers, and donating countries. Shipments to countries are enabled by COVAX delivery partners UNICEF and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

    Over 600 million doses have already been pledged to COVAX by a number of countries in response to short-term supply challenges and the rise of new variants. Working with donor governments to operationalize growing numbers of dose-sharing pledges, COVAX expects to see more deliveries of donated doses in the weeks and months to come.

  • 31 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Taliban Attacks On 3 Major Afghan Cities Repulsed

    Kabul: The Ministry of Interior on Saturday announced that Taliban offensive in three major cities had been repulsed. The Taliban on Friday night attacked the cities of Herat in the west and Kandahar and Lashkar Gah in the south of Afghanistan.

    Interior Ministry spokesperson Mirwais Stanekzai said that security and defense forces are advancing in the cities of Herat, Kandahar and Lashkar Gah. He said that the Taliban had suffered the most casualties in the three cities overnight. He did not provide specific figures for Taliban casualties.

    Stanekzai said that the enemy’s plan had failed due to good security presence in the city and its suburbs as a result of the resistance of the security and defense forces, especially the air force and the special police unit.

    According to him, the city of Herat is currently protected from high-profile threats, and the Taliban’s casualties in Herat last night were higher than the group’s casualties throughout Afghanistan. The spokesman for the Interior Ministry said most parts of Injil and Guzara districts near the city of Herat are also under the control of security and defense forces.

    Regarding the city of Kandahar, Stanekzai said that serious security measures and special attention have been taken for the city of Kandahar and there is a serious focus on this city. He stressed that the Taliban attacks on Kandahar had met with strong resistance from security and defense forces. Stanekzai said security and defense forces are advancing on Kandahar City and that the city would soon be completely cleared of the Taliban. According to the spokesperson for the Ministry of Interior, the Taliban in Lashkar Gah city of Helmand province also suffered a serious defeat and the group suffered heavy casualties.

    “Security belts have been strengthened for the safety of Lashkar Gah,” he said. According to Stanekzai, the security and defense forces assured the people that they will not allow the enemy to advance. The Taliban claimed yesterday that they had taken control of Guzara and Injil districts in Herat province. The defense and interior ministries at the time denied the allegations. The Taliban have also claimed to have killed government troops during clashes in the cities of Herat and Lashkar Gah.

    Also, local sources in Helmand province said that clashes have intensified in parts of Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. Ataullah Afghan, a member of Helmand Provincial Council, told Subhe Kabul daily that a hospital in Lashkar Gah had been destroyed in clashes on Saturday. According to him, the clashes in Lashkar Gah city have intensified for the past four days, and currently the clashes are taking place in the sixth, seventh, eighth and ninth PDs of the city. Afghan said that the Taliban hid in a civilian hospital on Saturday morning, and security forces launched an airstrike there, destroying the hospital building. Afghan added that on Friday, three civilians were killed and five others were injured when a car carrying civilians hit a roadside mine in Lashkar Gah.

    This comes even as President Ashraf Ghani held a consultative meeting with political and jihadi leaders at the Presidential Palace. A statement issued at the end of the consultative meeting by the Presidential Palace said that the courage and resilience of the Afghan security and defense forces against “aggression” and terrorist attacks and the national resilience and mobilization of the Afghan people in this regard is commendable.

    However, Afghanistan’s political and jihadi leaders have acknowledged the legitimate defense of the security and defense forces and the mobilization of the people in support of them. These political and jihadi leaders have emphasized that they will do their best to mobilize more people to defend Afghanistan.

    The statement, released on Saturday states that ending the war and achieving a just and lasting peace is the priority of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and that many sacrifices have been made to achieve this goal. According to the statement, the efforts of the High Council for National Reconciliation and the Peace Negotiating Committee in this regard are commendable and the process of peace talks will continue.

    According to the statement, the defense of the people and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, national institutions, common values, women’s rights and other rights and freedoms enshrined in the Afghan constitution, is the responsibility of the government and the Afghan government in these values defends against any kind of aggression. President Ghani wrote on his official Facebook page that prominent political leaders, jihadi leaders, representatives of civil society, women and religious scholars have all unanimously declared their support for the country’s armed forces in the presence of the leadership of the security and defense sectors. Ghani wrote that everyone under the umbrella of the republic emphasized the provision of peace and said in unison that “legitimate defense is our right.”

    Also, Mohammad Qasim Halimi, the country’s Minister of Hajj and Religious Affairs, said that those religious scholars who do not offer the funeral prayers of the security and defense forces and reinforce “the enemy against the nation” should be repressed and imprisoned. Speaking at a news conference in Kabul on Saturday, Halimi said that these religious scholars are those who receive salaries from the government and work to strengthen the Taliban.

    He also said that following the fall of several districts, a number of these scholars were trying to get closer to the Taliban. The Minister of Hajj of the country called these religious scholars “vile”, “evil” and “cowardly”. He added, “We (the government) will bring down all the devils who have dressed in religious clothes.”

    Meanwhile, in other news, Uzbekistan and Japan exchanged views on the current situation in Afghanistan and on the promotion of the political peace process in the country, Trend reports with reference to the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan.

    The mentioned issue was during the meeting between the special representative of Uzbekistan for Afghanistan Ismatulla Irgashev and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan Yoshinori Fujiyama. During the meeting, the parties discussed the efforts of the two countries to expand cooperation in the Afghan direction, in particular, interaction in establishing long-term and sustainable peace in Afghanistan, as well as involving the country in regional integration processes.

  • 31 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Commander Of 1st Brigade Of 207th Zafar Corps Killed As Taliban Captures Herat

    Kabul: Local officials in Herat province confirmed that Abdul Hamid Hamidi, commander of the 1st Brigade of the 207th Zafar Corps, was killed by Taliban insurgents.

    Abdul Sabor Qane, the governor of Herat, told Etilaat roz daily that Abdul Hamid Hamidi had been captured by the Taliban in a direct clash in the Pashtun-e-Pul area of Guzara district on Friday. According to Qane, the Taliban “brutally” killed the army commander in Guzara district after his capture.

    He called the killing of arrestees of war by the group a war crime, adding that the Taliban never obeyed the laws of war. The Taliban have also confirmed the killing of the commander of the 1st Brigade of the 207th Zafar Corps by its fighters. The group said the army commander was killed in an attack by his fighters.

    Meanwhile, the Bamyan Disaster Management Authority said that food aid will be provided to 12,220 displaced families from the war in the province. Iqbal Javadi, head of the Bamyan Disaster Management Authority, told Hashte Subh daily that the aid included five items of food, including flour, chickpeas, oil, salt and food for children.

    He added that 12 joint teams of government departments and non-governmental organizations were formed to survey and identify the victims, and as a result, 12,220 families in need of assistance were identified in six administrative units of the province. According to the head of the Bamyan Disaster Management Authority, the IDPs in Kahmard and Saighan districts are not included in this phase; but the survey in these two districts has just been completed. He expressed hope that the distribution of food to the displaced in these two districts would begin soon. The Committee for addressing IDPs in Bamyan explained that the survey in the two districts had been delayed due to security threats.

    The food aid is for one month and is distributed by the World Food Organization to IDPs from the recent wars in Bamyan. According to information released by the Committee in the province, in the first phase, aid will be distributed to 50% of this number of families, and this process will continue in stages. The distribution of this aid started on Saturday, from the center of Bamyan and is to be carried out in the districts as well.

  • 31 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Security Forces Make Good Progress In Nijrab District Of Kapisa

    Kabul: The Ministry of National Defense announced the advance of security forces in Nijrab district of Kapisa province. Officials at the ministry emphasize that most areas in the district have been cleared of Taliban insurgents.

    Fawad Aman, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense, said that the villages of Shahr-e Naw, Arbab Khel, Aref Khel, Habib Khel, Qalay Samad, Zarshawi, Janbazkhel, Rooz Khel, Badakhshi, Qalacha, Qalay Khoon, Qalay Akhund, Gonjak Wa Toghak have been cleared of Taliban fighters. He assured the public that the security forces and the people’s uprising forces will soon clear the remaining areas of Nijrab district of the Taliban and completely liberate the district.

    Aman stated that 21 Taliban fighters were killed in the operation. The Taliban have not yet commented.

    Also, the Takhar Police has announced that the Taliban attacked areas around the city of Taloqan, the capital of the province, at night, but the attack was repulsed due to the resistance of the security forces. Khalil Asir, spokesman for the Takhar Police, told Hashte Subh daily that the Taliban attacked the areas of Qara Parchab, Salakhi Qeshlaq, Khaskapa Wa Choobar around Taloqan, the capital of Takhar province, on Thursday night.

    According to Asir, the attack was repulsed and the Taliban suffered casualties. According to him, 13 Taliban were killed and more than 16 were wounded in the attack. According to Takhar police, three uprising forces were also wounded in the clash. The Taliban have not yet commented.

    However, the Balkh police said that at least five people have been injured in a roadside bomb explosion in Mazar-e-Sharif. Adel Shah Adel, a spokesperson for the Balkh police, told RFE / RL last evening that an explosion had taken place on a fuel tank in the Karte Zaraat area of Mazar-e-Sharif city. “The reason is not clear. It may be carried out by the abductors of Abdul Rauf, the kidnapped boy that his father was near the scene.”

    According to Adel, among the wounded were four bodyguards, Mohammad Nabi, Abdul Rauf’s father, and a taxi driver. Nabi attributes the incident to his son’s abductors. Last week, a car bomb exploded on a car carrying Mohammad Nabi, killing three people and wounding six others. Abdul Rauf has been held hostage by the kidnappers for about ten months now, and efforts to free him have been unsuccessful.

    Also, members of the Ghazni Provincial Council said that two people have been killed and one wounded in Taliban mortar attacks in the Jaghori district of the province. Hassan Reza Yousefi, a member of the Ghazni Provincial Council, told Subhe Kabul daily that the incident took place on Friday in the villages of Hotqul and Sadat in the province.

    According to him, as a result of the first incident in the village of Hotqul, an eight-year-old girl named Nabila died and her father, Ziaullah, was injured. Yousefi said that a person named Sayed Nader also died as a result of the second incident in Sadat village. The Ghazni provincial council member said that mortar shells by Taliban fighters had hit the same areas in the past.

    Meanwhile, security sources said that some areas in Guzara and Karukh districts of Herat have fallen to Taliban militants.

    A senior security source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Sobh Kabul newspaper that at around 8:40 a.m. Friday, Taliban fighters attacked army forces in the areas of Qalay Mirgol, Qalay Dactar, Siavashan and Guzara District Police Headquarters.

    According to the source, following the attack, the Guzara district police headquarters fell to the Taliban and its forces retreated to the aiport road.

    The source says that last night, the Khaf railway line checkpoint also fell to the Taliban.

    The source added that the security forces of Karukh district’s guard unit evacuated the dam at around 07:45 on Friday night due to Taliban threats and retreated to Herat city.

    On the other hand, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement that as a result of the operations of the defense and security forces in Herat province, many areas have been cleared of Taliban fighters and heavy casualties have been inflicted on the members of this group.

    Fawad Aman, the deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Defense, tweeted on Friday night that the Guzara district in Herat had been cleared of the Taliban.

    Meanwhile, commemoration of the National Flag Day in Khost province came under an armed attack. According to local sources, two people were killed and more than 30 were injured in the incident, which took place on Friday evening. The 203rd Thunder Corps in the east of the country announced that the incident took place in Yaqubi district of Khost province.

    The corps said the attack was carried out on a public ceremony held near a security base. The victims of this incident are civilians. Akbar Khan Zadran, Yaqubi district governor of Khost province, said two army soldiers were among the wounded. No individual or group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

    In other news, according to the Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan-Nai, the Taliban have looted the equipment of the radio station (Saday Deh Rawood) and destroyed its building after occupying the Deh Rawood district of Uruzgan province. A statement issued on Friday quoted Ahmad Shah Sahel, a spokesman for the Uruzgan governor, as saying that the Taliban had taken their belongings to Helmand province after destroying the Radio station.

    Nai once again called on the warring parties to prioritize the preservation of journalists’ lives and media structures. Nai has called on the Afghan government to pay attention to the protection of media structures. The statement called on the international community, especially those at the negotiating table, to inform the Taliban about the issue of preserving the media infrastructure and the lives of journalists, so that the group can take this into account. According to Nai, the Taliban have already looted Radio Tanin equipment and silenced the media forever after capturing the Shindand district of Herat. The Taliban have not yet commented

    Also, for the past 20 days in Kandahar City, fighting between the Taliban and security forces has been going on and as a result of these clashes, thousands of families have been displaced in Kandahar and about 700 civilians have been killed and injured. In addition, historic sites and monuments in Kandahar, which is mostly in Taliban-controlled areas, have been destroyed or severely damaged.

    Hekmatullah Afghan, head of information and culture of Kandahar province, told Hashte Subh daily that these religious and historical sites all portray the history and identity of Afghanistan, but unfortunately are in danger of destruction as the war intensifies in Kandahar. Kandahar has also been the center of many political developments. Mohammad Ibrahim, a historian in Kandahar, says that Afghanistan is known for its historical monuments, and called on the government and the Taliban to stop fighting in the area of historical sites and not to damage Afghanistan’s identity and knowledge. A number of Kandahar residents are also concerned about the continuation of this situation and call on both sides of the war not to destroy historical monuments.

    This comes even as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) in Afghanistan said in its latest report that more than 700 civilians, including women and children, had been killed and wounded in two weeks of clashes between the Taliban and security forces in Kandahar.

    The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) is deeply concerned by escalating violence in and around Kandahar amidst ongoing Taliban attacks on city. It said that more than 230 civilians injured since July 16 and called on parties to exercise maximum restraint and take all possible measures to protect civilians from further harm. The Mission warns of the grave consequences to civilians in Kandahar if the fighting continues and intensifies in urban areas of the city.

  • 31 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Flood Casualties In Nuristan: 198 People Killed And Disappeared

    Kabul: Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority has announced new details of flood casualties in Nuristan province.

    The spokesman for the Authority said that floods affected the Kamdesh district of Nuristan province on Wednesday night and killed over 58 people.

    Ahmad Tamim Azimi, the spokesman for the National Disaster Management Authority, told Hashte Subh daily on Saturday that over 140 people had disappeared in the floods, according to a preliminary report by the Nuristan Disaster Department.

    The floods in Mehrdish village of Kamdesh district have caused heavy casualties and huge damages. According to Azimi, 150 houses in the area have been destroyed by floods. Hundreds of hectares of land have also been destroyed.

    Public roads in Kamdesh, Nuristan, have also been destroyed due to flooding. However, the administration authority and local officials in Nuristan said that it is working to reach the victims as soon as possible.

    In other news, local sources in Laghman province said that at least 20 people have been killed and 18 others injured in two separate traffic accidents on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway in the Qarghayi district of the province.

    Asadullah Dawlatzai, spokesperson for the Laghman governor, told Etilaat roz daily that the first incident took place late on Friday night in the Narenj Bagh area of Qarghayi district on the Kabul-Jalalabad highway. Dawlatzai said that eight people had been killed and ten others injured in the incident. Among the victims are women and children.

    Also, the spokesperson for the Laghman governor said that the second incident took place at around 6:00am on Saturday in the Aziz Khan area of Qarghayi district. He said that 12 people were killed and eight others were seriously injured in the incident. According to him, the victims of both incidents have been transferred to Mehtarlam city hospital and Nangarhar district hospital. He said the accidents were caused due to the carelessness of drivers.

  • 31 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Two-Way Trade Between Tajikistan And Afghanistan Decreases: Karimzoda

    Kabul: In a report released at a news conference in Dushanbe, the head of the Customs Service under the Government of Tajikistan, Khurshed Karimzoda noted on July 30 that a two-way trade between Tajikistan Afghanistan and transit of goods to Tajikistan through Afghan territory have decreased dramatically due to events that have happened in northern provinces of Afghanistan over the past two months.

    “If in January-February, up to 50 vehicles crossed the border every day, now no more than two or three vehicles, and sometimes there is not a single vehicle for days, Tajik top customs officer said. It is to be noted that the bilateral trade between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is not so large. Thus, the bilateral trade between them last year valued at only 70.7 million U.S. dollars. This consisted of Tajikistan’s exports to Afghanistan estimated at US$69.8 million and Tajikistan’s imports from Afghanistan worth US$900,000. The bulk of this trade is not even tangible items. Fully 65 percent of Tajik exports is electricity. Tajikistan imports some volumes of citrus fruits, bananas, potatoes and sometimes carrots from Pakistan, though.

    Meanwhile, even the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said in a recent report that the United States is working on a new plan for Afghanistan’s air exports. Under the plan, Afghanistan’s air exports will increase by 30 per cent. This plan is designed for the years 2021 to 2025.

    The United States will support the modernization of Afghanistan’s five main airports in Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-e-Sharif, Jalalabad and Herat, according to a report released on Friday. According to SIGAR, the program will create about 2,000 jobs, and in addition, more investment will be made in Hamid Karzai International Airport and efforts will be made to export Afghan air to more countries in the region.

    Afghanistan established the first air corridor for air exports about five years ago by sending a shipment of 60 tons of agricultural products to India. The number of air corridors now stands at 40, and about five traders export goods through these corridors to several countries, including India, the United Arab Emirates, China, Russia, and some European countries, such as Britain, France, and Germany. Commercial cargo planes fly from Kabul, Kandahar, Herat and Maraz Sharif airports. These goods mainly include dried fruits and vegetables, medicinal plants, precious stones, carpets and turmeric. Transportation of each kilogram of goods costs from fifty cents to two and a half US dollars, and the cost varies depending on the distance. Of the total transfer fee, only 20% is paid by the trader and the rest by the government.

    Since the beginning of air corridor exports, the Afghan government has spent about 1.5 billion afghanis, or about 13.5 million dollars. Although some of this cost was said to be paid by international organizations, the Ministry of Finance says it is paid from the national budget. According to sources, more than $170 million worth of goods have still been exported through the air corridors. A part of the SIGAR report also states that the Afghan government is struggling to survive and that it may fall to the Taliban after the completion of the US military withdrawal in August.

  • 31 Jul 2021 Share this post

    Turkey, Afghan Defense Ministers Discuss Kabul Airport Security Plan

    Kabul: In a phone call on Friday, Turkish and Afghan defense ministers discussed the security of Hamid Karzai International Airport, Turkish authorities said. In a statement, the Turkish National Defense Ministry said Hulusi Akar and his Afghan counterpart Bismillah Khan Mohammadi also addressed the regional security and bilateral relations.

    “In the phone call, Akar stated that Turkey and Afghanistan have shown solidarity in the face of the difficulties both countries have faced throughout history,” the statement said. It added that Turkey has been carrying on its activities for the peace and welfare of its Afghan brothers for a long time.

    Turkey will continue to stand by the Afghan people as long as they want, the statement noted, adding that it is important to keep the peace process alive in Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, if Turkish soldiers remain stationed in Afghanistan following the United States-led NATO troops’ withdrawal, the security of the Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport will be the only task carried out by them, security sources said on Friday. Ankara has a clear stance that Turkish soldiers will not have a combat mission in Afghanistan and will not be a party to the conflict.

    After the U.S. decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, Turkey’s continuation of its duty to operate the Kabul airport, which it maintains under NATO, was brought to the agenda. Providing the security of the critically important airport that connects Afghanistan to the world for six years, Turkey notes that this task can be continued if the conditions are met.

    Most recently, no decisions have been made as of yet about the details and scope of the mission Turkey will potentially shoulder in securing and operating Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport in Afghanistan’s capital city, Turkish security sources stated, adding that the negotiations are expected to be finalized in August.

    Turkey, whose forces in Afghanistan have always consisted of non-combatant troops, has offered to guard the airport as questions remain on how security will be assured along major transport routes and at the airport, which is the main gateway to the capital Kabul. The security of the airport is crucial for the operation of diplomatic missions out of Afghanistan as Western forces pull out. The airport is in a strategic location close to the Afghan presidential palace and foreign diplomatic missions in Kabul and is the only place from which to evacuate diplomats in emergency situations.

    The Turkish Foreign Ministry has called for a fair burden-sharing of the task given that the “uninterrupted, safe operation of the airport is indispensable for the continued presence of diplomatic missions in Afghanistan.” However, the Taliban have opposed Ankara’s proposal, saying that Turkey should also withdraw its troops in line with the 2020 deal for the pullout.

    This comes close on the heels of the attack on the main UN compound in Herat on Friday, wherein at least one security guard was killed, according to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, or UNAMA. The United Nations in Afghanistan condemned in the strongest terms the attack on its main compound in Herat that resulted in the loss of life of an Afghan police guard and injuries to other officers. Heavy fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security forces was also seen near the compound. No UN personnel were injured in the attack, and UNAMA said it was urgently seeking to identify the perpetrators and hold them accountable.

    “This attack against the United Nations is deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said Deborah Lyons, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan in UNAMA’s statement. “Our first thoughts are with the family of the officer slain and we wish a speedy recovery to those injured.” No UN personnel was hurt in the incident, in which entrances were attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire. “The perpetrators of this attack must be identified and brought to account,” said Lyons, who is also head of UNAMA.

    The UN expressed its gratitude to the Afghan Directorate of Protection Services officers who defended the compound from the attackers. Also, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also in a statement released said that the US strongly condemns the attack on the United Nations compound in Herat, Afghanistan that resulted in the death of an Afghan guard. “The United Nations in Afghanistan is a civilian entity focused on supporting peace efforts, promoting the rights of all Afghans and providing humanitarian and development assistance. Attacks against civilian UN personnel and facilities are prohibited under international law. We reiterate our call for an immediate reduction in violence in Afghanistan, and for all regional actors to encourage the parties to return to negotiations without delay so that the Afghan people can achieve a durable and just political settlement that brings the peace and security they deserve,” the statement added.

    Spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres also issued a statement stating, “The Secretary-General strongly condemns Friday’s attack against a United Nations compound in Herat, Afghanistan, which resulted in the killing of an Afghan security forces guard and injuries to other officers. He expressed his condolences to the bereaved family and wishes those injured a speedy recovery. The Secretary-General recalled that attacks against United Nations personnel and premises are prohibited under international law and may constitute war crimes. The Secretary-General reiterated the United Nations commitment to support the Government and people of Afghanistan in their efforts to achieve peace and stability.”

    In other news, OCHA in its latest release stated that fighting between Government forces and non-state armed groups continues across Afghanistan. “There has been an alarming increase in civilian casualties and injuries, including women and children, in Kandahar City as clashes have continued in the Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Fighting has also been reported in new areas in the northeast province of Kunar, displacing 20,000 people within the province, and to Nangahar Province. Nine UN and partner organizations’ teams are assessing needs in Kandahar. Last week, about 1,800 internally displaced people received food, relief items, and water and sanitation hygiene support as well as physiotherapy and cash assistance. In Kunar, UN and partner organizations are assessing needs and responding. Urgent needs include food, water, shelter and health services. So far in 2021, 330,000 people have been displaced by conflict across Afghanistan. Another 5 million people remain displaced since 2012,” the statement added.