Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…
The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is planning to fund the development of a small disaster recovery data center in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The agency also plans to fund the IT services and upgrade of an existing data center, both of which will be used by state-owned utility Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS). The potential contract will also see the development of five utility load centers in Kabul, Kandahar, Balkh, Herat and Nangarhar provinces.
In a Request for Information posting on the federal procurement website, USAID states: “DABS HQ Data Center houses the existing IT infrastructure and is the current repository of all data collected by DABS. Currently the data gathered by DABS is not backed up. In case of any interruptions, the business operations of DABS will be adversely affected.
“To mitigate disruption of business operations, DABS plans to establish a Disaster Recovery Data Center at the Tarakhil Power Plant.”
The existing data center is in Chaman Hazouri Kabul, and is used to host DABS’s ‘mPower’ software application suite that automates metering, billing, revenue collection, customer care, mobile workforce, energy auditing, asset registration, and asset management.
The disaster recovery site is set to be located at the power plant, a huge and controversial diesel system known by many as “The White Elephant of Kabul.”
USAID spent $335 million on the 105MW power plant, constructed by the Black & Veatch engineering firm under a contract awarded in 2007. The project faced cost overruns, delays, and operational issues, before being handed over to DABS in 2010.
Board of Directors Chair of Amnesty International USA has mourned for the tragic killing of US soldier in Afghanistan and called on Afghan government to seek justice.
The Board of Directors Chair of Amnesty International USA, Janet Lord in a statement said, “Amnesty International USA mourns the killing of Anil Raj and sends its deepest condolences to his family, friends, and his brave colleagues. Anil served as a country specialist for Amnesty International USA from 2007-2010 and was a member of the Board of Directors from 2010-2011.”
Anil Raj an American civilian aid worker from San Francisco was killed in a weekend attack on a U.N. vehicle in Afghanistan.
“Anil is remembered as a bright and creative individual, who always brought innovation to his work and warmth to his relationships,” the statement said.
“The way that Anil’s life was cut tragically short underscores the grave dangers that human rights workers in Afghanistan face. Threatened by all sides in a conflict that continues to claim civilian lives daily, they are left at risk. Amnesty International USA calls on the international community to remember Anil and on the Afghan government to promptly and thoroughly investigate the attacks and bring those responsible to justice,” the statement added.
At least five insurgents including a local Taliban commander Gul Nabi have been confirmed killed after the security forces stormed the armed outfit’s hideout in Charbolak district of the northern Balkh province, army spokesman in the northern region Mohammad Hanif Rezai said Saturday.
Acting on tipoff, the security forces’ artillery targeted the Taliban group’s hideout in Charbolak district on Friday evening, killing five armed insurgents including their commander Gul Nabi on the spot, the official said.
Without providing further details, Rezai stated that the security forces would continue to strike the insurgents elsewhere in the country.
Qatar has renewed its support for all international efforts to support peace, security, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan, expressing its belief in the peaceful and political settlement of crises, the priority it attaches to mediation and its commitment to achieving lasting peace in Afghanistan.
This came in a statement delivered by the Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN Ambassador Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif al-Thani at the UN General Assembly on the situation in Afghanistan.
Sheikha Alya said that Qatar is continuing its good offices and mediation efforts among the Afghan parties, in order to stop the violence, converge views, achieve reconciliation and lay the foundations for a political settlement.
This will ensure peace, stability and prosperity for the Afghan people, and will positively reflect on the strengthening of regional and international peace and security, she added.
As part of Qatar’s mediation efforts, Doha recently hosted the Afghan Peace Conference from July 7-8 , 2019, under the auspices of Qatar and Germany.
She said that the conference brought together many figures representing the society of Afghanistan, and dealt with a wide range of issues including the rights of women and minorities, the cease-fire, the release of prisoners, the withdrawal of foreign forces and the political future.
Qatar welcomed the report of the Secretary-General and his highlight of the importance of peace talks between the Afghan parties and the talks between the United States and the Taliban that have been mediated by Qatari efforts, Sheikha Alya said, stressing the importance of the role of the international community in supporting the Afghan people to complete the transitional phase and overcome the challenges that still face them, including the challenges facing sustainable development and the Afghan economy.
The commander of Afghan border forces, Gen. Zaher Gul Muqbel was killed in a roadside bomb explosion in Helmand province on Saturday, security officials said.
The spokesman of Helmand governor, Omar Zawak told Reporterly that Gen. Muqbel’s vehicle hits a roadside bomb in Janamo area between the Nawa and Marja district earlier on Saturday morning.
According to Zawak, at least three other soldiers and a local reporter were also wounded in the incident.
He further added that the incident took place when a convoy of security forces along with local reporters was on their way toward the Marja district.
The Independent Election Commission (IEC) in reaction to the protest of “Stability and Partnership” electoral team said that it cannot invalidate the Presidential elections votes before completing the recounting and auditing process.
IEC in a press release on Saturday said that staging protest is the basic right of every citizens in the country, but the election commission is committed to protect the votes of people and observing laws, regulation and procedures adopted for the elections.
“Based on the law and the principles of independency, IEC protects the votes people and do not give the right to anyone to interfere in the election process,” the press release said.
IEC in its press release emphasized that the election commission assures all presidential candidates, parties and people that it would only validate votes on biometric basis.
“IEC called on all presidential candidates and people to cooperate with the commission in the recount and audit process of the remaining seven provinces’ votes until the process ends and the results to be announced as soon as possible,” the press release added.
This comes as the chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah’s electoral team staged protests in various parts of Kabul on Friday, demanding the recounting process of Presidential elections’ votes to be stopped and electoral fraud to be stopped.
At least 11 IS-K fighters have been killed in an airstrike in Nangarhar province, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) said.
MoD in a press release on Saturday said that at least eleven IS-K fighters have been killed in an airstrike in Achin district of Nangarhar province.
While MoD announced the killing of 11 IS-K terrorists that the Special Operations Corps on Friday said that at least 16 IS-K fighters have surrendered the security forces in Achin district.
South Korean blockchain company Fantom has unveiled an ambitious partnership to create a public health platform for storing patient medical records.
Blockchain companies partnering with governments is a regular occurrence, but Fantom’s decision to team up with the government of Afghanistan is highly unusual, given that the country is not known for its tech adoption.
Despite the seeming incongruity of the partnership, both parties are convinced that the arrangement can yield tangible benefits.
“We believe that anti-counterfeiting of drugs and electronic health records on the blockchain are a great representation of what distributed ledger technology can do if utilized by the right people for the right cause,’’ said Fantom CIO Michael Kong.
In a statement, Afghan Public Health Minister Ferozuddin Feroz also spoke positively of the benefits Fantom’s solution can bestow in terms of transparency and efficiency.
One of the stated goals of the project is to reduce the prevalence of counterfeit drugs within the health sector.
The World Health Organization estimates that one in ten healthcare products are ersatz or substandard in some way, bringing with it a host of health risks.
The solution commissioned by the Afghan Ministry of Public Health will entail each drug being assigned a unique hash which will be recorded on-chain.
The Taliban said on Friday they were ready to restart peace talks with the United States, a day after President Donald Trump visited U.S. troops in Afghanistan and said he believed the group would agree to a ceasefire.
“The Taliban wants to make a deal and we are meeting with them,” Trump told reporters after arriving in Afghanistan on Thursday.
“We say it has to be a ceasefire and they didn’t want to do a ceasefire and now they want to do a ceasefire, I believe. It will probably work out that way,” he said.
Trump cancelled peace negotiations in September after the Taliban group claimed responsibility for an attack in Kabul that killed 12 people, including an American soldier.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban group, said on Friday they were “ready to restart the talks.”
“Our stance is still the same. If peace talks start, it will be resumed from the stage where it had stopped,” Mujahid told Reuters.
Taliban leaders have told Reuters that the group has been holding meetings with senior U.S. officials in Doha since last weekend, adding they could soon resume formal peace talks.
The largest concentration of terrorist organizations in the world is in Afghanistan, and unless the Taliban is serious about negotiations, there will not be a long-lasting peace there, US Senator Tom Cotton said Friday.
“Obviously we will have the Taliban be part of any ultimate political solution in Afghanistan,” the Arkansas Republican told Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “We have to remember the Taliban has not renounced violence, has not renounced ties to Al-Qaeda or affiliated groups and does not recognize the government in Kabul.”
If the Taliban are willing to take those kinds of steps and reach a ceasefire, that is something with which the United States can work, said Cotton, but they want only to make empty promises in exchange for concrete concessions, he does not think that would be a foundation for a solid peace deal.
President Donald Trump on Thursday, after a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit with U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said the U.S. and Taliban have been engaged in ongoing peace talks and said he believes the Taliban want a cease-fire.”
Afghanistan joins the countries that are helping Albania after the November 26th 6.4 M earthquake.
The Afghan military members who are serving together with the Albanian soldiers have organized a fundraiser.
“The extraordinary solidarity that Albania is receiving these days is coming even from Afghanistan. Our friends and allies are contributing symbolically for the people affected by the earthquake. They are organizing a fundraiser in Kabul”, the Albanian Minister of Defense, Olta Xhacka Xhacka said.
Germany backs talks between the U.S. and the Taliban aimed at reviving the stalled peace process in Afghanistan, a German official said on Friday.
“Basically, our position is that we welcome these [the U.S.-Taliban] talks and we hope that — we as the international community — can make a contribution to get the peace process in Afghanistan underway. We have repeatedly emphasized that this is our goal,” Rainer Breul, a deputy spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told a regular government press briefing in Berlin.
His remarks came after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Thursday the resumption of peace talks with the Taliban after making a surprise trip to Afghanistan to celebrate Thanksgiving with American troops.
American and Taliban negotiators have reportedly met for several rounds of peace talks since last year, while the progress has been unable to finalize a peace agreement.
Meanwhile, Breul stressed that the main focus should also be on “reducing the violence” in Afghanistan.
The German official also confirmed recent talks between Germany’s special envoy to Afghanistan Markus Potzel and Taliban representatives in Qatar’s capital Doha.
Breul did not provide details of the talks, citing “confidentiality”.
“I can confirm that our representative has met with the Taliban in Doha. I cannot comment on the content of the confidential talks,” he added.
Germany has been at the forefront of Western diplomatic efforts to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan.