Newsfeed; Saturday, March 7 2020

  • 7 Mar 2020 Share this post

    US-Taliban Peace Deal Doesn’t Protect Rights of Afghan People: European Think-Tank to UN

    The recently-signed peace deal between the United States and the Taliban does not secure the protection of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Afghan people, said Soana Deunier, a Research Analyst at the European Foundation for South Asian Studies during her intervention at the 43rd Session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

    The analyst said that the peace process in Afghanistan was “anything but Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” given that the Taliban “does not represent the Afghan people” and that the terrorists cannot be relied on to establish transitional justice and uphold civil liberties.

    Deunier said that the recently-published “Afghanistan Papers” confirms that the American war in Afghanistan was a “failure from the onset”.

    “Now the US, in its quest to save face, signed a so-called peace deal with the Taliban that only satisfies the interests of both these parties without securing the protection of the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Afghan people”, said Soana.

    She added, “Expecting peace from the Taliban and its allies, Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammed and their benefactor, the Pakistani Military Establishment, while side-lining the Afghan government will go down in history as a momentous blunder on behalf of the international community.”Deunier noted that the Taliban was accountable for 47 per cent of the civilian casualties recorded by the UN last year alone.

    “We cannot afford to be oblivious to history. Can we trust that all warring factions will cooperate, or will we see the failure of another interim government and witness another civil war, like in 1992? Can we trust that the self-declared Islamic State will not rise to power the way the Taliban did in 1996?” she said.

    Soana concluded by saying, “Are we really entrusting social healing, peace and stability to the Taliban? This so-called peace deal legitimises terrorism and leaves the Afghan people at the mercy of merchants of death and destruction?”

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    Pakistan Opens Border With Iran

    Pakistan on Saturday removed temporary ban on transit of Iranian goods and trucks through Mirjaveh Border, spokesman for the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration said.

    Roohollah Latifi said 12 trucks entered Taftan customs which indicates resumption commute of Iranian trucks via the border.

    Pakistani officials first control the driver and the goods and then issue permission.

    He noted that Iranian Customs is consulting with Pakistani officials to accelerate the process.

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    Most of Refugees in Kyrgyzstan Are from Afghanistan

    At least 208 people have refugee status in Kyrgyzstan, chairman of the State Migration Service Bolotbek of Kyrgyzstan Ibraimzhanov announced at a meeting of the Parliament.

    Kyrgyz deputies consider amendments to the Law on Refugees in the second reading.

    Emil Toktoshev asked about number of refugees and what rights they have.

    «Refugees have the same rights as Kyrgyzstanis, with the exception of participation in elections and working for the civil service,» the official said.

    According to Bolotbek Ibraimzhanov, the highest number of refugees in Kyrgyzstan is from Afghanistan (87) and Syria (71).

  • 7 Mar 2020 Share this post

    Russia may send troops to Afghanistan: Kabulov

    A special presidential envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, in an interview with a Federal News Agency correspondent, said that Russia could send troops to Afghanistan to fight terrorism if the country’s official authorities ask for it.

    But for this, Kabulov noted, first of all, it is necessary to wait for the results of the inter-Afghan dialogue and the formation of a coalition government that will represent the interests of all Afghans.

    “As regards the fight against terrorism and military assistance to Afghanistan in this matter, let’s wait until there is a normal government in Kabul and we will discuss military assistance with it,” said the presidential envoy.

    He also noted that Russia had already come up with a similar initiative, but it was not properly evaluated. “We at one time offered help that either the Americans or the Afghans provided with various conditions. We do not impose our good offices, but when we are politely asked, we are ready to do so. The terms of assistance will be determined by the Russian leadership,” Kabulov said.

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    New Special Operations Network Will Serve As Security Backbone in Afghanistan Ahead of U.S. Withdrawal

    A new network of Special Operations forces will serve as the backbone of a smaller U.S. military mission in Afghanistan, hunting Islamic State fighters as the United States withdraws and providing firepower against the Taliban if a peace agreement with the group crumbles, US military officials said.

    As per the Washington Post report, the network was established as Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, prepared to shrink the number of U.S. troops last summer while the Trump administration negotiated a U.S. troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban. The idea was to improve coordination between coalition and Afghan forces in a way that would still be possible if the number of U.S. service members shrinks, relying on WhatsApp to share information.

    The force is designed to “withstand any change in policy, whatever that may be, or a change in any conditions on the ground,” said a senior U.S. military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operations. The force will work with coalition partners, “but the core of it will obviously be U.S.,” the official said.

    The network, which has not previously been disclosed to the public, was detailed to The Washington Post as military officials seek to reassure U.S. and Afghan citizens that the United States can still provide security in coming months.

    The initial version is expected to withstand any cuts as the U.S. military shrinks from about 12,000 service members to 8,600 over the span of 135 days under the terms of a deal reached with the Taliban on Feb. 29. U.S. officials did not reveal how many people the network includes, but the senior military official said it is built to function with a few thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan or fewer.

    The deal, negotiated for more than a year, calls for the United States to withdraw all its service members within 14 months if the Taliban meets certain requirements, including beginning negotiations with the Afghan government to end the war and ensuring that Afghan soil is not used to plot or carry out attacks against the United States or its allies.

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    24 Civilians Killed, Wounded in Taliban’s Attack in Herat

    Afghan local officials have confirmed that at least seven civilians were killed and 17 others were wounded in Taliban’s attack in Herat province.

    The office of Herat governor in a press release said that the Taliban insurgents attacked a village in Khaja Noor area of Kashk-e Robat district on Friday evening.

    The press release added that children and women are also among the killed and wounded.

    The Taliban group has not commented regarding the incident so far.

  • 7 Mar 2020 Share this post

    US, Russia Release Joint Statement on US-Taliban Deal Signed in Qatar

    The United States and Russia in a joint statement have welcomed the signing of US-Taliban peace agreement as an important step towards ending the war and the opening of the door to intra-Afghan negotiations on March 10.

    According to the statement, a comprehensive and sustainable peace can be achieved only through an inclusive negotiated political settlement among Afghans.

    US and Russia reaffirmed that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is not recognized by the international community and at the United Nations, and furthermore, the international community will not accept or support the restoration of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

    The statement welcomed the Taliban committing to join a political process and their prospective role in a new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan negotiations.

    The two countries appreciated the February 22-28 reduction of violence and urged all sides to further decrease violence in order to create an environment conducive to intra-Afghan negotiations.

    In the meantime, the statement called on all Afghans to begin discussions immediately on issues of mutual concern, such as prisoner releases and a ceasefire.

    US and Russia expressed readiness upon the commencement of the intra-Afghan negotiations to review the status of sanctions designations in order to support the peace process, noting that Taliban action to further reduce violence and otherwise cease to engage in or support activities that threaten the peace, stability and security of Afghanistan or other countries will affect the review.

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    Release of Taliban Prisoners Requires Transparent Mechanism: Ghani

    President Ashraf Ghani in his address to the Lower House of Parliament on Saturday said that the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners needs a transparent mechanism.

    “The people’s request is that there should be an executive guarantee so that these people (prisoners) will not return to violence once they are released,” Ghani said.

    He noted that the presence of the US defense secretary and NATO’s secretary general at the announcement of the Afghan-US joint declaration shows a commitment of the international community to Afghanistan.

    In the meantime, President cited that the discussions were made last week about the negotiating team.

    He called on Parliament members to announce a selection of two members from the Upper House (including one woman) and five members of the Lower House (including two women) for the negotiating team.

    President Ghani has also condemned yesterday’s Daesh attack in Kabul and says it was a crime against humanity.

    He further added that the government’s share in funding the security and defense forces has increased and efforts are underway to fully shoulder this responsibility.

  • 7 Mar 2020 Share this post

    Australia to Follow US Withdrawal From Afghanistan

    After 18 years of war, Australian troops will withdraw from Afghanistan amid a hoped-for peace.

    The Australian government welcomed the announcement of a planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and called on the Taliban to negotiate “with the Afghan government in good faith.”

    Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defense Minister Linda Reynolds issued a joint statement earlier this week welcoming the agreement reached between the United States and the Taliban, which will see all American troops leave the war-ravaged country within 14 months.

    “Terrorism will continue to present a threat to Afghanistan. The security and stability of Afghanistan will be vital in containing the threat of international terrorism, as well as addressing people and narcotics smuggling,” the statement reads.

    Around 400 Australian troops remain in the country. More than 26,000 Australian personnel have served in Afghanistan since the war began in October 2001.

  • 7 Mar 2020 Share this post

    Rubio: Troops Needed in Afghanistan ‘Forever’ to Stop Taliban

    US Sen. Marco Robio has warned that the Taliban cannot be trusted, and that its leaders will retake Afghanistan and impose Sharia law as soon as U.S. troops are pulled out, so some must remain “forever” to keep the Taliban at bay.

    “The bottom line is that the Taliban will institute a severe version of Sharia law and no elections,” the Florida Republican told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom,” while reacting to the United States’ airstrike on Taliban forces, coming less than a week after a peace deal was signed

    “That’s what they want, they have the battlefield advantage over the government of Afghanistan,” he added. “No, I don’t think we can trust them.”

    On Wednesday, an airstrike was conducted against four Taliban fighters, U.S. military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett confirmed, saying they were actively attacking an Afghan National Defense and Security Force (ANDSF) checkpoint.

    Rubio said he hopes the deal with the Taliban works out but he thinks that the “likeliest outcome” will be that once the United States leaves, the Taliban will take over.

    The only way to keep the Taliban under control, he added, would be for the United States to keep troops in Afghanistan “forever.”

  • 7 Mar 2020 Share this post

    Report: US Intelligence Says Taliban Plan to Break Peace Deal

    A U.S. media outlet reported Friday that the U.S. government had intelligence that the Taliban did not plan to abide by promises they made in the recent peace agreement with the United States.

    NBC News cited three U.S. intelligence officials, who remained anonymous in the report, saying the U.S. intelligence indicated the Taliban viewed the peace process as a way to secure the withdrawal of U.S. troops. After the troops leave Afghanistan, the Taliban plan to attack the U.S.-backed government of Afghanistan, according to the report.

    The U.S.-Taliban agreement signed last Saturday calls for the Taliban to stop harboring terrorists and to enter into peace talks with the Afghan government in exchange for a U.S. pledge to withdraw troops.

  • 7 Mar 2020 Share this post

    International Reaction to Kabul Memorial Ceremony Attack

    Gunmen opened fire on a memorial ceremony Friday in Kabul, killing at least 32 people and wounding dozens more in the first major attack in the Afghan capital since the U.S. signed a peace framework with the Taliban late last week. Several prominent politicians, including the country’s chief executive and recent presidential candidate, Abdullah Abdullah, were in the audience but escaped unharmed.

    US Chargé d’Affaires Ross Wilson has condemned Friday’s attack in Kabul.

    “We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and thank the Afghan security forces for swift response. We stand with Afghanistan for peace,” he said.

    UNAMA in a press release seriously condemned the attack.

    “I condemn in the strongest terms this deliberate attack on civilians,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto. “Those who have organized and enabled this attack must be brought to justice and held to account.”

    In the meantime, German envoy Markus Potzel said, “Germany condemns today’s attack on the ceremony commemorating slain Abdul Ali Mazari in Kabul which caused so many casualties. Attacks like these are a serious blow to peace efforts currently under way.”

    India has strongly condemned the heinous terrorist attack at an event in Afghanistan capital Kabul.

    The India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement said, “We express heartfelt condolences to the relatives of the deceased and the injured and to the Government and people of Afghanistan.”

    “The international community must unite in the fight against terrorism and hold the perpetrators and sponsors of terrorism to account,” the statement added.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi expressed the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s strong condemnation and denunciation of the terrorist attack that targeted a celebration in the Afghan capital.

    The Ministry affirmed the Kingdom’s solidarity with Afghanistan and its standing with it against extremism, violence and terrorism.

    Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi has strongly condemned the Friday terrorist attack in Afghanistan.

    In a statement, Mousavi expressed sympathy with the Afghan nation and government as well as the families of the victims of the inauspicious terror attack, which martyred and wounded dozens of people.

    On the other hand, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi has condemned the Kabul attack, saying that those who wanted to sabotage peace were responsible for the attack.

    “Those who want to use Afghanistan for their objectives don’t want to see peace in the country,” he said.

    A spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of the Interior said the gunmen retreated to a nearby building, where they were killed during an hours-long standoff with security forces.

    An Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. The ceremony marked 25 years since the death of Abdul Ali Mazari.

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    Uzbek Educational Center for Training Afghan Citizens Establishes Cooperation with KOICA

    A Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation was signed between the Educational Сenter for Training Afghan citizens under the Ministry of Higher and Secondary Special Education of Uzbekistan and Representative Office of Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in Uzbekistan.

    Head of the Representative Office of KOICA in Uzbekistan, Son Song Il, visited this education institution and got acquainted with conditions created for training. He talked with youth from a neighboring country, studying in this modern center.

    The Memorandum provides for making a worthy contribution to social development of Afghanistan by strengthening cooperation necessary for development of professional education.

    Currently, 172 young men and women from a neighboring country are studying Uzbek language and literature, medicine, land transport systems and their operation.

  • 7 Mar 2020 Share this post

    UNAMA Condemns Attack on Civilians at Kabul Commemoration Event

    The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemns today’s attack in Kabul. Initial reports indicate that the attack killed nearly 30 civilians and injured many more, among them women and children.

    In the Mazari Square area of Kabul this morning, armed men opened fire on a gathering of around 1,000 people who had assembled to commemorate Abdul Ali Mazari, the former leader of Afghanistan’s Hezb-e Wahdat-e Islami political party.

    “I condemn in the strongest terms this deliberate attack on civilians,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “Those who have organized and enabled this attack must be brought to justice and held to account.”

    “The United Nations stands with all Afghans in solidarity and remains committed to an Afghan-led peace process that will end the war, enabling Afghanistan to allocate more resources to protect all its citizens from such atrocities,” said Yamamoto, who is also head of UNAMA.

    “Attacks directed against Afghanistan’s civilian population, including religious or ethnic minorities, are serious violations of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes. When committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, such acts may also constitute crimes against humanity,” UNAMA press release said.

    The United Nations extended deep condolences to families who lost loved ones today and wishes a quick recovery to those injured.