Newsfeed; Wednesday, April 14 2021

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…


  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Loans to 7,000 Afghan Famers Through ADF

    Kabul: At least 7,000 Afghan farmers will get loans from the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock in the current solar year through the Agricultural Development Fund (ADF), a program lead and financed by the United States.

    The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has invested over 1 billion and 800 million afghanis in the ADF, for the current solar year.

    The process to receive applications for receiving loans has been started and will continue until the end of the solar year, the ministry said.

    “The Agriculture Development Fund is planned to grant 1.8 billion Afs (over $23M) in loans to over 7 thousand farmers in the current year (1400),” said Akbar Rustami, MAIL spokesman. He added, “The loan distribution process has begun since the beginning of the fiscal year.”

    The United States’ USAID program each year contributes a significant fund to the Afghan Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Livestock under the Agriculture Development Fund.

    The Academy of Sciences of Afghanistan (ASA), meanwhile, criticized the loan program under ADF, who said that establishing agricultural development bank would support the efficiency of these loans.

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  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Prospect of Peace Low: Warns US Intel Report

    Kabul: A US report on global threats issued on Tuesday said that US intelligent agencies are not keen about the chances of a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government for the coming year.

    The intelligence agencies have warned that the Taliban believes it can successfully use force to shape the political reality on the ground. “Kabul continues to face setbacks on the battlefield, and the Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory,” according to the report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

    This comes even as the United States has announced that it will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by September this year. Following the US announcement, Western media quoted sources as saying that Britain and NATO would also withdraw their troops from Afghanistan by September.

    The US, UN and Qatar are planning a peace summit in Istanbul with the Afghan government and the Taliban to chalk out a future roadmap for the country. Taliban has refused to participate in any peace talks till the troops have been withdrawn, while the Afghan government is ready with a unified peace plan for the April 26 summit.

    Afghan security forces “remain tied down in defensive missions and have struggled to hold recaptured territory or reestablish a presence in areas abandoned in 2020,” the report added. “The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield,” it added, cautioning that “the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.”

    Meanwhile, there is increase in violence comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are involved in clashes and counter-clashes ahead of the Istanbul Summit. There are increasing concerns from human rights group about civilian casualties in the country.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Do Not Miscalculate Peace: Abdullah to Taliban

    Kabul: Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), on Wednesday warned the Taliban that they should not miscalculated peace after the announcement of the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

    “It would be wrong if the group think that they will reach their demands with the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan,” said Abdullah at a joint meeting of the HCNR in Kabul.

    The chairman of HCNR also said he was concerned about the Taliban’s miscalculation of peace. “The Taliban have committed this “miscalculation” in the past,” he added.

    There are concerns that the Taliban will not be willing to negotiate with the withdrawal of foreign troops. However, Abdullah stressed that with or without the presence of foreign forces, the only solution to the current challenges in Afghanistan is to move towards peace, which is universal and acceptable to the Afghan people.

    On the other hand, he said that the decision to withdraw foreign troops from the country is based on the Doha agreement between the Taliban and the United States and the group’s will.

    The chairman of HCNR added that the United States was committed to the agreement, but the Taliban, on the contrary, were not committed to the terms of the agreement.

    He also said that US President Joe Biden will speak to President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday evening about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

    the United States has announced that it will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by September this year. Following the US announcement, Western media quoted sources as saying that Britain and NATO would also withdraw their troops from Afghanistan by September.

    The US, UN and Qatar are planning a peace summit in Istanbul with the Afghan government and the Taliban to chalk out a future roadmap for the country. Taliban has refused to participate in any peace talks till the troops have been withdrawn, while the Afghan government is ready with a unified peace plan for the April 26 summit.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    As Civilian Casualties Grow, UNAMA Raises Concerns

    Kabul: At least 1,783 civilian casualties were recorded in the first three months of the year, as per the first-quarter report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts 2021. UNAMA in a recent report found that the number of civilians killed and injured in the initial three months of 2021 was higher than the previous year.

    The civilian death toll reached 573 and 1,210 others were recorded as injured, which shows a 29 percent increase in the violence since the last year. As violence continues unabated a 37 percent increase was recorded in the death and injury toll of women and a 23 percent increase was reported in child casualties compared with the first quarter of 2020.

    Deborah Lyons, Secretary-General Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA said in the report that, “The number of Afghan civilians killed and maimed, especially women and children, is deeply disturbing. I implore the parties to urgently find a way to stop this violence”.

    Peace negotiations were initiated in September of last year, gave hopes for stable security and improvement in the situation for civilians but during the six months between October 2020 and March 2021 UNAMA a 38 percent increase in civilian casualties compared with the same period of the previous year.

    “Every possible opportunity for peace must be seized. If levels of violence are not immediately reduced, thousands of Afghan civilians will continue to be killed and injured by fellow Afghans in 2021,” Lyons said.

    The same trends drove the overall increase of civilian casualties in the first quarter of 2021, which includes ground engagements, IEDs, and targeted killings, UNAMA said in the report.

    Bodies responsible for the majority a 61 percent of civilians casualties are anti-government elements in the first quarter of 2021, 27 percent of the total civilian casualties were caused by pro-government forces in the same quarter. At least 43.5 percent overall civilian casualties were attributed to the Taliban and the Afghan National Army was blamed for 17 percent of the overall civilian casualties in the UNAMA report.

    UNAMA stated that the organization remains deeply concerned about the continued targeting of civilians by anti-government elements, particularly targeting civilians including media workers, civil society activists, targeted killings of women, members of the judiciary, and civilian government administration.

    The increase in violence comes as the Afghan government and the Taliban are involved in clashes and counter-clashes ahead of the Istanbul Summit scheduled to be held from April 26. Meanwhile, the United States has announced that it will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by September this year. Following the US announcement, Western media quoted sources as saying that Britain and NATO would also withdraw their troops from Afghanistan by September.
    The US, UN and Qatar are planning a peace summit in Istanbul with the Afghan government and the Taliban to chalk out a future roadmap for the country. Taliban has refused to participate in any peace talks till the troops have been withdrawn, while the Afghan government is ready with a unified peace plan for the April 26 summit.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    1,400 Businessmen Left Afghanistan Due to Security Threats

    Kabul: At least 1,400 Afghan businessmen left for Turkey in 2020 fearing security threats, according to Khan Jan Alokozai, the deputy of the Afghan Chambers Federation who spoke to the BBC.

    Each businessman had a minimum capital of $ 200,000 each, and a total capital of more than $ 1 billion. According to Alokozai, Afghan businessmen inside the country spend 25% of their income to ensure their security.

    The Afghan Ministry of Interior has asked Afghan businessmen and investors to contact the police if they face security threats. The ministry said it would take any threats against traders seriously.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Ministry of Health Reports 42 New Cases of COVID-19

    Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Wednesday reported 42 new positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the last 24 hours.

    The ministry also reported one death and nice recoveries from COVID-19 in the last 24 hours.

    The total number of positive cases in Afghanistan now stand at 57,534 while the number of reported deaths is 2,533, and the total number of recoveries is 52,022.

    The new cases were reported in Kabul (19), Herat (3), Kandahar (3), Takhar (1), Nimruz (1), Helmand (2), Maidan Wardak (2), Kunar (9) and Laghman (2) provinces.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Two Afghan Female Climbers Conquer Shah Foladi Peak of Baba Mountain

    Kabul: Tamana Jahan and Nazimah Khairzad, two new climbers, have conquered the highest peak of Baba Mountain (Shah Foladi) for the first time , announced the press office of the governor of Bamyan.

    The statement added that the women climbers had conquered the 5,140-meter-high Shah Foladi peak on Sunday this week. They had been training with the “Peak” mountaineering team for a year.

    According to the Bamyan governor’s office, these women climbers have twice climbed the mountain unsuccessfully in recent years. Six other male climbers from Ghazni, Badakhshan, Kabul and Bamyan provinces, led by Sayed Ali Shah Farhang, technical manager, and Mohammad Hussain Yasa, founder of the “Peak” mountaineering team were present with the two female climbers.

    Meanwhile, Atiqullah Atiq, the financial and administrative deputy governor of Bamyan, in a meeting with the “Peak” mountaineering team, described the conquest of Shah Foladi peak by two mountaineering ladies as an important achievement in the development of mountaineering.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Biden’s Plan To Withdraw Troops By 9/11 A Grave Mistake: McConnell

    Kabul: Republican senators on Tuesday lashed out at the Biden administration after the US announced its troop withdrawal plan by 9/11. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, voiced stern disapproval toward the upcoming move. The Kentucky senator called it a “grave mistake” and “a retreat in the face of an enemy that has not yet been vanquished.”

    Biden “needs to explain to the American people why he thinks abandoning our partners and retreating in the face of the Taliban will make America safer,” he added.

    Even South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham criticized the move. Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the highest-ranked Grand Old Party(GOP) member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, also blasted Biden’s decision as “reckless” and “dangerous.”

    This criticism comes even as there is growing concern that a hasty exit from Afghanistan could leave the country in disarray and that a civil war could take place. Troop withdrawal from Afghanistan should be conditions-based, otherwise, it will once again face the bitter experience of the past. Hasty withdrawal would worsen the situation and lead to civil war, said Afghan parliament speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani on Tuesday.

    However, the US, UN and Qatar are planning a peace summit in Istanbul with the Afghan government and the Taliban to chalk out a future roadmap for the country. Taliban has refused to participate in any peace talks till the troops have been withdrawn, while the Afghan government is ready with a unified peace plan for the April 26 summit.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Biden ‘Paving the Way for Another 9/11’ With Afghanistan Withdrawal Plan: Graham

    Kabul: With the US administration announcing its troop withdrawal plan by 9/11, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said that President Biden is “paving the way for another 9/11” by removing forces from Afghanistan.

    This criticism comes even as there is growing concern that a hasty exit from Afghanistan could leave the country in disarray and that a civil war could take place. Troop withdrawal from Afghanistan should be conditions-based, otherwise, it will once again face the bitter experience of the past. Hasty withdrawal would worsen the situation and lead to civil war, said Afghan parliament speaker Mir Rahman Rahmani on Tuesday.

    However, the US, UN and Qatar are planning a peace summit in Istanbul with the Afghan government and the Taliban to chalk out a future roadmap for the country. Taliban has refused to participate in any peace talks till the troops have been withdrawn, while the Afghan government is ready with a unified peace plan for the April 26 summit.

    Graham criticized the Biden administration this in response to a Washington Post report that Biden plans on a full withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan by September 11 this year, 20 years after 9/11. The plan has been largely celebrated by Democrats while many Republicans have criticized it. Graham even said Afghanistan is “going to deteriorate pretty rapidly” and said Biden is “paving the way for another 9/11.”

    “I think Joe Biden on foreign policy has been completely incompetent and destabilizing. What he’s done with the Iranians is a threat to everything we’ve accomplished in the Mideast, I just hope and pray that I’m wrong, but I know what was going to happen in Iraq and Afghanistan is going to be worse,” said Graham.

    These developments come even as there are reports of increasing violence in the country in clashes and counter-clashes between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Call to Stop Violence in Afghanistan Grows as Ramadan begins

    Kabul: With the increasing number of civilians deaths in Afghanistan, the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) has urged the warring parties in Afghanistan to stop the violence as the holy month of Ramadan begins.

    IUMS Secretary-General Ali al-Qaradaghi called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to let the Afghan people perform their rituals and prayers during Ramadan without fighting and violence.

    “IUMS urges [the warring parties] to achieve a comprehensive and fair reconciliation based on the teachings of the Quran, prophetic principles and references of the Muslim scholars,” al-Qaradaghi said.

    He added that IUMS holds the Afghan government and Taliban responsible for maintaining security in Afghanistan as “they are responsible in front of Almighty Allah, so they have to seek the good for the Muslim [Afghan] people.”

    Violence in Afghanistan has not abated despite the launch of intra-Afghan peace talks last September which aim to end decades of war. There is also an upcoming summit on peace in Istanbul from April 26, however, the Taliban has rejected all talks till foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    20 Yrs & 456 Deaths Later, British Troops To Finally Withdraw From Afghanistan

    Kabul: After nearly 20 years and after suffering from the loss of 456 troops, all British troops will be withdrawn from Afghanistan following Joe Biden’s announcement that US forces would leave by September 11.

    President Biden will withdraw all troops from the country before this year’s 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, finally ending America’s longest war despite mounting fears of a Taliban victory, officials said on Tuesday. Earlier, the Trump administration had set a May 1 deadline to withdraw all foreign troops from Afghanistan, however, the Biden administration stated that meeting this deadline would not be possible due to “logistical” reasons. Taliban had rejected all extension to withdrawal dates and warned of violence if the foreign troops were not withdrawn by May 1.

    Britain has now drawn up plans to hand over control of the ‘Sandhurst in the sand’ academy in Kabul where troops help to train Afghan soldiers to the government, the Times reported.

    A total of 456 British forces personnel or Ministry of Defence civilians have died while serving in Afghanistan since the start of operations in October 2001. Of those, 405 were killed as a result of hostile action. 49 are known to have died either as a result of illness, non-combat injuries or accidents, or have not yet officially been assigned a cause of death

    Most British troops in Afghanistan are involved in a mission in the capital involving transporting VIPs. The announcement comes close on the heels of the upcoming peace summit in Istanbul, which is being organized to draw up a political settlement in Afghanistan to ensure lasting peace in the country. The Afghan government is ready with a unified peace roadmap to be presented at the Summit scheduled to be held from April 26, however, there are growing concerns of underrepresentation of women and other stakeholders in the Turkish summit.
    The Taliban has, however, refused to participate in any talks till all foreign troops withdraw from the country.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    Afghanistan Peace Summit From April 24-May 4: Turkey

    Kabul: The Afghanistan peace summit is likely to be organized from April 24-May 4 in Istanbul, announced Turkish authorities on Tuesday.

    To sketch out a plausible peace roadmap and possible political settlement, the summit is being organized as part of the US-backed push to advance the peace talks, with the inclusion of the United Nations (UN) and Qatar.

    This announcement comes even as the May 1 deadline to withdraw foreign troops from Afghanistan looms large. However, the US administration on Tuesday announced that it would exit the war-ravaged country only by 9/11, the 20th anniversary of the attack on the twin towers in New York. Taliban has not yet responded to the new withdrawal dates.

    Turkey’s foreign ministry said that the Afghan government and the Taliban insurgent group would attend. However, the Taliban said they had not yet committed to those dates. “Our internal discussions regarding this have not been completed yet, the date can’t be specified until our discussions are completed,” said Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem.

    The Taliban, earlier, had said it was unwilling, based on timing, to attend talks in Turkey initially scheduled for April 16. “Participation in the conference and its agenda have been the subject of extensive consultations with the Afghan parties,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said.

    UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that “we very much hope” the Taliban will attend.

    The Afghan government is ready with a unified peace roadmap to be presented at the Summit, however, there are growing concerns of underrepresentation of women and other stakeholders in the Turkish summit.

  • 14 Apr 2021 Share this post

    All Foreign Troops To Withdraw From Afghanistan by 9/11

    Kabul: In a press briefing on Tuesday, the Us administration announced that US President Joe Biden plans to have all American troops as well as their allies out of war-torn Afghanistan by September 11 2021, which marks the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack on the twin-towers in New York.

    “After a rigorous policy review, President Biden has decided to drawdown the remaining US troops from Afghanistan and finally end the US war there after 20 years. We will begin an orderly drawdown of the remaining forces before May 1 and plan to have all US troops out of the country before the 20th anniversary of 9/11,” a senior White House administration official said.

    The decision comes after a review of the Afghan policy, even as the world is gearing up to see the outcome of the Istanbul Summit, likely to take place on April 26 with the Afghan government and the Taliban with various stakeholders at the negotiating table.

    “We went to Afghanistan to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11 and to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack. We believe we achieved that objective some years ago. We judged the threat against the homeland now emanating from Afghanistan to be at a level that we can address it, without a persistent military footprint in the country and without remaining at war with the Taliban,” the official added.

    Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the official said, “We have long known that military force would not solve Afghanistan’s internal political challenges; would not end Afghanistan, internal conflict. We will focus our efforts on supporting the ongoing peace process.”

    The US, the official said, will coordinate with NATO allies and partners about a drawdown of their forces in the same timeframe beginning before May one ending before the 20th anniversary of September 11.

    However, the Taliban had warned the US if the May 1 deadline of withdrawal of troops is not met, then they will escalate violence in the country. To this the official responded by saying, “We have told the Taliban in no uncertain terms that any attacks on US troops as we undergo in safe and orderly control will be met with a forceful response.”

    Over the past few weeks, Afghanistan has been witnessing a surge in violence and also attacks on Taliban hideouts by the Afghan security forces. According to the official, Biden was adamant that a hasty, ill-coordinated withdrawal that puts at risk US forces and those of its allies and operational partners is not a viable option.

    The official added that the US will also look to work with other countries using diplomatic, economic and humanitarian tools to protect the gains made by Afghan women. We will encourage any future government in Afghanistan to expand the sources for refugees and internally displaced peoples. This comes as there are growing concerns of underrepresentation of women and other stakeholders in the Turkish summit.

    The Afghan government is ready with a unified peace roadmap to be presented at the Summit, however, the Taliban had rejected the April 16 date of the conference on Sunday.