Newsfeed; Monday, June 21 2021

Latest news and happenings of Afghanistan and region…

  • 21 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Turkey’s Presence At Kabul Airport Necessary: Atmar

    Kabul: Turkey’s willingness to secure the Kabul airport after the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan is a move that is necessary for the presence of the diplomatic community in the country, Afghan Foreign Minister Hanif Atmar said on Sunday.

    “We welcome Turkey’s willingness to sustain the capabilities and the facilities as well as the high-level technological arrangements for the airport,’’ Atmar told the Anadolu news agency on the sidelines of Antalya Diplomacy Forum. The move would be necessary for the “continuous presence of diplomatic community,’’ Atmar added.

    Turkey has offered to take responsibility for securing Kabul International Airport following the US departure from Afghanistan later this year. US President Joe Biden discussed the issue with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at their meeting on the sidelines of the NATO summit earlier this month, but the details of an agreement are yet to be finalized.

    “Turkey has made a bold and very much commendable initiative,” according to Atmar, who added that Kabul would “fully” support the move. “Turkey has an extremely important role both at a regional and global level,” the Afghan foreign minister said. Turkey stations 500 soldiers in Afghanistan, the largest remaining foreign military contingent, and has played a key non-combat role in NATO missions in the country since 2003.

    Turkey’s proposal has been rejected by the Taliban. Last week, a Taliban spokesman said Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under the 2020 deal for the pullout of foreign forces.

    Meanwhile, Beijing has warned Chinese nationals to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible, amid a rapid rise in violence in the country as the Taliban recaptures territories. China’s embassy in Afghanistan has said that Chinese citizens and organizations needed to take additional precautions and strengthen their emergency preparedness in the face of the deteriorating situation.

    “This year, the conflicts in Afghanistan are constant, the terrorist attacks are frequent and the security situation is becoming more severe and complicated,” the embassy said in a notice, urging Chinese citizens to “be more cautious” and to “urgently depart from the country through international commercial flights”.

    In other news, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J Austin III spoke via the phone with Turkish Minister of National Defense Hulusi Akar to discuss bilateral cooperation and maintaining continued diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. This comes after reports emerged recently that Turkey has agreed to provide security for and run the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once all foreign troops have withdrawn. Turkey stated however that there were conditions attached to their offer.

  • 21 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Ghani Holds Consultative Meeting With Political, Jihadi Leaders

    Kabul: President Ashraf Ghani held a consultative meeting with political and jihadi leaders on Monday morning. The meeting discussed the visit of the President and Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR), to the United States, as well as the peace process and the support of the security forces.

    Abdullah Abdullah; Mohammad Sarwar Danesh, Second Vice-President; Mir Rahman Rahmani, Speaker of the House of Representatives; former President Hamid Karzai; Jihadi Leader Abdul-Rasul Sayyaf; Mohammad Mohaqiq Senior Advisor to the President on Political and Security Affairs, Mohammad Karim Khalili, former VP, Ismail Khan, the jihadi leader, Mohammad Younes Qanuni, the former vice-president, Enayatullah Babar Farahmand, and others were present for the meeting.

    According to the Presidential Palace, the participants stressed that the peace process is a priority of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and all subsequent steps in this process will be taken with the necessary understanding and consensus.

    It was emphasized in this meeting that a united line and a strong political consensus are necessary to strengthen peace and stability, strengthen the republican system and support the country’s defense forces, and make strong use of strong popular support for the republican system to strengthen stability.

    The Presidential Palace said that the meeting also discussed the forthcoming visit of the President and Abdullah to the United States and called this visit important. At the end of the meeting, it was emphasized that the holding of such meetings should continue in order to strengthen the single line and strengthen the political consensus as much as possible.

    Meanwhile, a five-member parliamentary delegation announced its findings about the violent protests in Fayzabad city of Badakhshan province.

    Delegation head Khan Aqa Rezayee stated that the protesters had beforehand informed the provincial governor and police chief, about the protest, but the officials failed to provide security and prevent violence. The delegation has found that negligence, mismanagement, incompetence and recklessness led to poor security measures and violence.

    The delegation suggested that a new governor should be introduced and provincial police chief along with heads of the PDs 1, 2, and 3, and the Reserve Unit commander should be dismissed and referred to judiciary for negligence. These officials allegedly gave shooting order, that killed eight protesters and wounded 42 others. Provincial directorate of security blamed the police for lacking preparedness and professionalism to provide security and control the situation. The directorate claimed that members of Hiz ut-Tahrir ignited violence.

    Two weeks ago, a number of residents staged a demonstration to protest the lack of water, electricity and security, that turned violent.

  • 21 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Hazara Diaspora Organizations’ Raise Red Flags Over Condition Of Asylum-Seekers

    Kabul: Brining the spotlight on the deplorable way in which Hazara asylum-seekers are being treated, members of various Hazara civil society and diaspora organizations, on Monday, announced in a statement that asylum-seekers are deprived of their basic human rights, such as the right to education and employment in Greece and Indonesia.

    Given the increased security threats against Hazaras, the statement also called for UNHCR and migrant-recipient countries to take urgent action to address the Hazara asylum-seekers’ condition. “Hazaras in Afghanistan and Pakistan are facing serious security threats and are at risk of genocide. We call on the UNHCR and the countries party to the Refugee Convention to prioritize addressing their concerning situation. There should be support, facilitation and expedition of the relocation and resettlement of Hazara asylum-seekers from Indonesia and Greece to other migrant-recipient countries; deportation of Hazara asylum seekers to Afghanistan and Pakistan should be stopped looking at the deteriorating security situation there. We also urge migrant-recipient countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United States of America and member states of the European Union, to consider the specific situation of Hazara asylum-seekers and make sure that their migration and asylum policies take into account the Hazara people’s specific situation,” the statement read.

    As per the organizations, there are over 7,600 Hazara refugees and asylum-seekers, including women and children, living in Indonesia. However, they are still seeking resettlement as Indonesia has not ratified the 1951 UNHCR Refugee Convention and hence, has put no protection or settlement mechanism in place as is enshrined in international legal frameworks.

    Highlighting the pitiable conditions, the organizations said that due to heavy mental and psychological toll on these refugees and asylum-seekers, 11 of them have committed suicide. In fact, the asylum-seekers have protested the way they are treated by the UNHCR Jakarta Office and accuse it of discriminatory behavior and putting the asylum-seekers under extreme psychological pressure.

    Even more concerning is that thousands of Hazara asylum-seekers are living in inhumane conditions in Greece. Most of these asylum-seekers are families who have arrived in Greece after 2015. “We are deeply troubled about the continuation of this situation in Indonesia and Greece. In Afghanistan, Hazaras have been the victim of historical oppression, systematic discrimination, violence and genocidal campaigns. Despite the presence of international military forces in Afghanistan for the past 20 years, Hazaras continue to be victims of extremist violence and systematic discrimination by the Afghan state,” the statement said.

    Pertinent points to note are that in the past few months, targeted attacks against the Hazara people have increased in an unprecedented way. On May 8, a terrorist attack on the Sayed Shuhada girls’ school in West Kabul killed more than 90 Hazara students and injured more than 200 others. The statement added that despite the continuation of widespread targeted killing of Hazaras, the Afghan government has been negligent and has failed to provide protection and no investigation has been undertaken.

    On May 9, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission requested the UN to investigate systematic attacks against the Hazara and Shi’a community in Afghanistan. On June 6, Shaharzad Akbar, the head of Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, told a news conference that “our assessment shows that the Hazara and Shi’a people of Afghanistan are at risk of genocide.”

  • 21 Jun 2021 Share this post

    MoPH Records 1,847 New Cases Of COVID-19 In Afghanistan

    Kabul: The Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) on Monday recorded 1,847 new coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and 78 deaths in the past 24 hours.

    The total number of cases now stand at 105,749, while the death toll is 4,293. In fact, concerned about the lack of oxygen and medical needs, the Ministry of Public Health warned that the threat of the coronavirus persists in the country and that the number of hospitalized patients is increasing.

    The ministry also warned that all provinces in the country are affected by the third wave, but preparations are under way to contain the virus. Officials at the Ministry of Public Health emphasize that the central, western and southern provinces of the country, in addition to the eastern provinces, are witnessing an increase in cases. Previously, the focus of the health sector was on controlling the virus in Nangarhar, Laghman, Kabul, Balkh and Kandahar provinces, but now the third wave has spread across the country.

    In Ghazni, Laghman, Kunar, Logar and Daikundi provinces, despite the problem of electricity shortage, oxygen generators have been set up, and in Baghlan and Parwan provinces, oxygen is used extensively for coronavirus patients. The Acting Minister of Public Health also spoke at the press conference about the efforts to install and activate 10 oxygen generators donated to Afghanistan by UNICEF and the ministry plans to purchase several oxygen generators from Turkey with the help of the World Bank.

    Meanwhile in other news, the Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) will inaugurate a hospital in the city of Zaranj in Afghanistan, Farid Moradian, deputy head of IRCS for health, treatment, and rehabilitation, has announced.

    Located in Nimroz province in southwestern Afghanistan, the 32-bed hospital is ready for operation, he said, IRNA reported on Sunday. Referring to the services that will be provided in this hospital, he explained that the medical center has a general operating room, gynecology, pediatrics, dental departments, dermatology, maternity and midwifery services, ultrasound, laboratory, nursing services, vaccinations, pharmacy, general practitioner and specialist.

    A hospital has also been set up in Kabul city that is being equipped and prepared, he concluded. The IRCS polyclinic center includes various departments such as laboratory, pharmacy, radiology and physiotherapy, and general practitioners along with obstetricians, gynecologists, internal medicine, pediatrics, ophthalmologists, and dentists.

    The important point in establishing medical centers abroad is that all of these centers are self-governing and earn their income by providing services to patients in the mentioned countries,” Karim Hemmati, IRCS head, had said.

  • 21 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Acting Minister Of Defense Asks People To Mobilize Alongside Security Forces

    Kabul: Acting Minister of National Defense Bismillah Mohammadi has called on the people to mobilize with the security forces wherever they are. He added that the government is ready to provide the necessary facilities to support the people’s forces against the Taliban.

    Bismillah Mohammadi made this request to the people at the ceremony of introducing him as the Acting Minister of National Defense. The Acting Minister of National Defense has assured the people that he is defending the country’s achievements.

    Bismillah Mohammadi said that with his 14 years of experience working at the leadership levels of security agencies, he would turn challenges into opportunities. Mohammadi stressed that his perception of the Taliban was that they had not yet believed in peace. He called on the Taliban to stop “killing and destruction”.

    The acting defense minister warned that the Taliban would not achieve their goals through war and violence, and that if they chose war and violence, they would bury their aspirations. He assured the security forces that he would provide the equipment, facilities and facilities at his disposal to help them defeat the Taliban.

    He says that due to the change in the situation, it is necessary to launch new security and defense programs after analysis and evaluation, and to implement them before the withdrawal of international forces.

    Meanwhile, as the Taliban’s attacks in the country increase and several districts have fallen to the group, Mir Rahman Rahmani, speaker of the House of Representatives, said that the government must make the necessary changes in managing the war.

    Speaking at a plenary session of the House of Representatives on Monday, Rahmani said that in order to manage the current situation on the battlefield, it is necessary for the government to hire experienced and professional people in the security services.

    “Any political-ethnic considerations and group compromises do not cure the pain of insecurity, but war managers should be selected based on their professional abilities and capacities to strengthen the motivation to defend the country in the bodies of each of our brave soldiers and officers,” he said.

    According to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, with the withdrawal of foreign forces, the cessation of peace talks, the escalation of violence by the Taliban and the seizure of a number of districts by the group, alarming changes have taken place on the battlefield that must be managed immediately. At the same time, he welcomed the popular mobilization against the Taliban, saying that the struggle of the Afghan people to preserve their lives, property and values within the framework of the popular uprising was approved by the House of Representatives.

    Mir Rahmani Rahmani called on the government to fund, equip and manage these individuals. He stressed, however, that these forces should be managed by the government so that they do not become “anti-security” currents in the future.

    Addressing the country’s political figures, Rahmani said that territorial integrity, national security and national values are currently under threat and that they are working to strengthen national unity among Afghanistan’s ethnic groups. The allegations come as the Taliban intensified their attacks in various parts of the country as foreign troops began withdrawing from Afghanistan in May.

    Meanwhile, Mohammad Ayub Salangi, the first deputy interior minister, returned to office a week after Harun Rashid Shirzad had replaced him. Mohammad Ayub Salangi was appointed the first deputy head of the Ministry of Interior last winter, at the same time as Hayatullah Hayat was elected acting Minister of Interior. He was previously the Deputy Director of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance.

    The Ministry of Interior previously announced that based on the proposal of this ministry and the presidential decree, Harun Rashid Shirzad has been appointed as the first deputy of the Ministry of Interior. On the same day, he was introduced by Hayatullah Hayat and started his work. Less than a week after his appointment as deputy interior minister, Salangi returned to work.

    The Interior Ministry did not comment on Ayub Salangi’s dismissal or illness at the time. The statement published by the Ministry of Interior about the introduction of Harun Al-Rashid Shirzad did not mention his temporary selection. This issue has provoked widespread reactions on social networks.

  • 21 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Peaceful Afghan Settlement To Pave Way For Refugees’ Repatriation: Qureshi

    Kabul: As the international community observed World Refugee Day on Sunday, Pakistan reiterated its call for greater global responsibility-sharing, redoubling of efforts for durable solutions, and an early peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan.

    Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the peaceful political settlement in Afghanistan could pave the way for dignified, time-bound and well-resourced repatriation of Afghan refugees supported by the international community. He said for over four decades, Pakistan has led by example in refugee protection and had been one of the world’s largest refugee hosting countries. Pakistan still hosts around three million Afghans providing them necessary protection, he added.

    “The people of Pakistan have contributed more than their fair share of shouldering an international responsibility by hosting millions of refugees. Pakistan has also been playing a key role in facilitating sustainable peace in Afghanistan,” the Pakistan foreign minister remarked.

    Meanwhile, Qureshi on Sunday also met with his Turkish counterpart Mevlüt Çavusoglu in Antalya and discussed matters of mutual interest, latest developments in the Afghan peace process and the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan.

    Qureshi lauded Turkey’s valuable efforts and its outreach to various Afghan parties. Underscoring Pakistan’s abiding interest in a peaceful, secure and stable Afghanistan, Qureshi illustrated Pakistan’s consistent efforts to facilitate the Afghan peace process. He expressed hope that the Afghan parties would seize the opportunity and workout an inclusive politically-negotiated settlement.

    Meanwhile, the spokesperson of the Pakistan embassy in the United States said on Sunday that Islamabad will extend its help in the ongoing efforts to recover US national Mark Frerichs, who is reportedly in the captivity of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    Spokesperson Maliha Shahid, who is a press attache at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, told ABC News that Islamabad had “no evidence to suggest that Mark Frerichs is being held in Pakistan” and that Pakistan “remains committed to play any role it can” to reunite Frerichs with his family. She added that, “Pakistan has always regarded any assistance it can provide in helping the United States and other foreign countries with the recovery of their hostages from Afghanistan as a moral and humanitarian responsibility”.

    Meanwhile, Afghan Border and Tribal Affairs Minister Mohibullah Samim condemned Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s comments about the Durand Line, as interference in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. Samim stated that Qureshi’s comments indicated that Pakistan still followed its strategic depth policy in Afghanistan.

    Samim urged the Pakistani government to respect Afghanistan as a neighbor and avoid hostile statements about the country. Samim also rejected Qureshi’s claim that Taliban leaders were present in Afghanistan, and added that the Quetta Shura, which is run by Taliban leaders, is located in Pakistan, and the Afghan people and the world know about it. Samim claimed that Pakistan is afraid of a strong Afghanistan.

  • 21 Jun 2021 Share this post

    Takhar’s Bangi, Khwaja Ghar Districts Recaptured By Security Forces

    Kabul: The Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Monday announced that security and defense forces along with the popular uprising forces recaptured Bangi and Khwaja Ghar districts of Takhar province from the Taliban.

    Fawad Aman, deputy spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense, tweeted that Taliban fighters had fled the two districts as a result of attacks by defense and security forces and popular uprising forces. Aman also added that government forces had also launched attacks in the villages of Abdal and Qarah Percho in Taloqan, the capital of Takhar. He said the Taliban had suffered heavy casualties as a result of the attack.

    At the same time, Abdul Hadi Nazari, a spokesperson for the 217th Pamir Corps, said that the people’s uprising forces had played an effective role in the operation. He stressed that the popular forces in Takhar are currently fighting the Taliban alongside government troops.

    Nazari added that these forces are currently facing a shortage of ammunition and will soon be equipped by the Ministry of Interior and the National Directorate of Security. The Taliban have not yet commented on the recapture of districts by government forces.

    Meanwhile, with the centers of many districts in Faryab now under Taliban control, clashes have begun in the city of Maimana in the northern province, increasing the alarm for Faryab residents and lawmakers from the province in Kabul, who say that urgent action by the security forces is needed.

    Along with fighting in the center of Faryab, the centers of 11 districts have fallen to the Taliban over the last 24 hours, as per reports of Hashte Subh daily. The districts include Chal, Namak Ab, Yangi Qala, Khwaja Ghar and Hazar Samooch districts in Takhar, the Dara-e-Soof-e-Bala district in Samangan, Chahar Bolak district in Balkh, Khashrod District in Nimroz, Manjigak and Khanaqah districts in Jawzjan and Kharwar district in Logar. Faryab lawmakers said the province needs urgent attention to push back the Taliban attacks from the center of Faryab.

    However, good news is that reinforcements arrived in the northern province of Faryab during the early hours of Monday morning to launch operations in areas that have fallen the Taliban, the provincial police said. The security forces have mobilized and will launch the operation soon, Faryab police spokesperson Abdul Hakim Yurish said.

    The police spokesperson said that “four Taliban insurgents were killed and 11 more were wounded in a clash in Pashtun Kot district in Faryab”. He added that seven Taliban insurgents were killed in operations by security forces in Sabz village in Pashtun Kot district. The Dahan Dara village in the district was also cleared of Taliban, he said. Taliban has not yet commented on the operations.

    A statement by Afghan Army’s 209 Shaheen Corps read that the Taliban’s gatherings were targeted by airstrikes in Dawlat Abad and Chahar Bolak districts in Balkh on Sunday in which 31 members of the group were killed and seven more were wounded. The officials said that 11 vehicles owned by the Taliban were damaged in the airstrikes, the statement said.

    Taliban has issued a statement and claimed that they have captured the center of Dawlat Abad and Shulgara district in Balkh province, but local officials have not commented on the fall of the areas to the group.

    However, Doshi, a key district in Baghlan province which connects the capital and central parts of Afghanistan with the northern provinces, has been fallen to the Taliban on Sunday night, an official confirmed to Khama Press. Sahib Dad Ghafori, the district governor for Doshi said that as a result of Taliban’s attack on Doshi district on Sunday afternoon and the lack of enough supporting forces and facilities, the local government forces have set back to Kayan valley. According to separate reports, Jilga, another district in Baghlan has also fallen in the hands of the Taliban fighters.

    Local sources in Baghlan province told Hashte Subh daily that a large-scale Taliban offensive in the Tala Wa Barfak district of Baghlan province has repulsed. Reports said on Monday that the Taliban had attacked the district overnight from four fronts and met with heavy resistance from security forces. Taliban’s attack to seize the district was defeated in a fierce clash that lasted until Monday morning.

    The reports added that the Taliban had twice attacked the district since yesterday, resulting in heavy casualties as a result of resistance by security forces. The source told the daily that the security forces were not harmed in these clashes. Meanwhile, sources in Kunduz province told RFE / RL that the Taliban have taken control of Imam Sahib district in the province. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE / RL that the district fell to the Taliban after noon on Monday. Imam Sahib district has been under siege by the Taliban for two weeks.

    Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesperson, wrote on Twitter that the group had taken full control of the district. The Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) has said that the defense forces are temporarily withdrawing tactically from some districts so as not to harm civilians.

    In fact, security officials in Baghlan province said that the popular uprising forces have too been mobilized in the Khenjan district of the province to support security forces against the Taliban. Baghlan police spokesperson Ahmad Javed Besharat said on Monday that uprising forces in the Khenjan district of Baghlan province, led by a jihadi commander named Jalaluddin Bajgahi, had announced their readiness to support security forces in the district.

    The forces came to the battlefield in the district with light and heavy weapons with the help of security forces. Popular uprising forces said that they will not allow the Taliban to destabilize the district. Khenjan is one of the key districts in Baghlan province, located on the northern Salang route and connecting the northern provinces to the center.

    This move has highlighted how hundreds of residents of Parwan, Badghis, Faryab, Jawzjan, Takhar and some other provinces have been mobilized against Taliban following the fall of the districts. In addition to mobilizing civilian forces, commandos have moved to some of Afghanistan’s northern provinces and are set to launch military operations to clear lost districts.

    Popular mobilization against the Taliban has taken place in the last few days, with seven districts in Takhar, one in Balkh, two in Samangan, four in Jawzjan, two in Faryab, one in Kunduz and several northern provinces of Afghanistan, have fallen to Taliban fighters.

    Meanwhile, it has been about 12 days since the Taliban attacked the Patu district of Daikundi province and residents have been displaced and fear more violence. In the first days of the attack on the district, the Taliban captured the predominantly Pashtun area of Tamzan. After several days of fighting, last Thursday, Sar Tagab and Bari areas of the district were also captured by the Taliban, as per reports of Hashte Subh daily. Many families have been displaced by the clashes and have sought refuge in parts of Kati, Kajran, Qakhoor, center of Patu, as well as Nili, the capital of Daikundi province.

    IDPs from the Patu war now say the government has not paid any attention to their situation and that the displaced, including women and children, are in dire straits. Daikundi Provincial Council also criticized the local government and said that it has not taken any action to reach the displaced people of Patu war. The governor of Daikundi cited the lack of drinking water in the city of Nili due to the drought as one of the problems for the local administration.

    In fact, in a virtual meeting with Provincial Information and Culture Directors, Acting Minister of Information and Culture Mohammad Tahir Zuhair called for the launch of a national mobilization against Taliban propaganda. The call comes at a time when a number of media outlets have reported that several districts have fallen to the Taliban and circles in favor of the Taliban have waged a psychological war against the Afghan people.

    Zuhair said, “Taliban actions are false and they are not able to stand against the people and our defense and security forces, and this group has turned to a propaganda war against the people.” Zuhair urged provincial directors to pay serious attention to the preservation of cultural heritage and historical monuments so that these assets will not be damaged during fighting and violence.

    Zuhair added that the Taliban blow up buildings, target the people, and conduct other catastrophes, which are all signs of weakness, because the group knows that its dominance is short-lived. Zuhair gave assurances that the ANSDF will soon recapture the lost districts, and the people will hear good news in the next three or four days.