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Abdul Rashid Dostum officially awarded rank of marshal – Jawzjan

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(Last Updated On: July 15, 2020)

Abdul Rashid Dostum, the former vice president, has been officially awarded the rank of a marshal at a special ceremony held in Jawzjan province on Wednesday.

The promotion was a part of the political agreement inked between President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the Head of High Council for National Reconciliation.

Dostum is the third person in the history of Afghanistan to receive the title of Marshall – the highest official rank within the military – after Shah Wali Khan and Mohammad Qasim Fahim.

Who is Abdul Rashid Dostum? How, why did he become the third marshal of Afghanistan?

Abdul Rashid Dostum, the founder of the National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan, is one of Afghanistan’s most controversial military and political figures and one of Uzbek’s most important leaders.

Dostum, who was a senior military man and ally of Dr. Najibullah, changed direction in the last years of Dr. Najibullah’s rule in early 1992 and began working with the Mujahidin. Before the fall of the Mujahidin government led by Burhanuddin Rabbani by the Taliban, Dostum fought against Rabbani. He even allied with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the Islamic Party of Afghanistan.

At the peak of his power in 1997, he had partially established an independent administration in northern Afghanistan, even running all the affairs of these regions and even printing a separate currency in his name. He had built a strong front against the Taliban in the north. It was during these years that his fans called him “King Dostum”.

After the fall of the Taliban, Dostum ran as a candidate in the 2004 presidential election, finishing fourth with about 9 percent of the vote.

Hamid Karzai, during the first term of his presidency, appointed Dostum as the commander of the army headquarters, but this position was suspended after the claim of Akbarbay, the head of the Afghanistan Turks Council, who said he had been abducted and beaten Dostum. Karzai’s command was suspended, and Dostum went to Turkey.

In the 2014 elections, Mr. Dostum became the first deputy of Mohammad Ashraf Ghani. During this time, Dostum led the northern wars against the Taliban. But after being accused of sexual misuse by Ahmad Ishchi, Mr. Dostum went home and then went into exile voluntarily in Turkey. During his four years as first vice president, he had dark relations with Ashraf Ghani and criticized him many times. He then returned to Kabul from Turkey in an anti-government political coalition. In the most recent presidential election, he supported Abdullah’s candidacy.

According to the political agreement between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, awarding the rank of Marshal to Abdul Rashid Dostum as the third Marshal of Afghanistan was part of the demands of Abdullah’s team. The political agreement states that Abdul Rashid Dostum will be promoted to the highest military rank as Marshall by presidential decree and will also be a member of the Supreme Council of Government and the National Security Council.

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Afghan envoy to UN cancels speech amid uncertainty over seat

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2021)

Afghanistan did not have a representative addressing the annual high-level United Nations General Assembly in New York, after Ghulam Isaczai, the UN envoy under the former government, withdrew on Sunday.

According to UN officials, Isaczai was due to speak on Monday.

Isaczai had been scheduled to address the final day of the general assembly.

Afghanistan’s UN mission in New York posted on Twitter that Isaczai decided not to speak “to preserve the national interests, preserve the seat of Afghanistan in the United Nations and to continue long-term cooperation with United Nations and Security Council on main issues.”

It added that Isaczai would continue “activities as usual” at the global body.

IEA Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi last week asked to address the gathering of world leaders and nominated their Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen as Afghanistan’s new ambassador to the UN.

But Muttaqi was not permitted to do so as the credentials committee has not yet met to discuss the issue.

When the IEA last ruled between 1996 and 2001, the ambassador of the Afghan government they toppled remained the UN representative after the credentials committee deferred its decision on rival claims to the seat.

Eventual UN acceptance of the ambassador of the IEA would be an important step in their bid for international recognition, which could help unlock badly needed funds for the cash-strapped Afghan economy.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the IEA’s desire for international recognition is the only leverage other countries have to press for inclusive government and respect for rights, particularly for women, in Afghanistan.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday that international recognition of the IEA was not currently under consideration.

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Pilgrims from around the world gather in Kerbala for Arbaeen

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2021)

Masses gathered in Kerbala on Tuesday for the religious pilgrimage of Arbaeen and visited the shrines of Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas.

In a normal year, up to 20 million mostly Shi’ite Muslims take part in the Arbaeen pilgrimage in the holy city of Kerbala to commemorate Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, who was slain in battle in 680 by the Muslim Caliph of the day.

In 2020 and due to the outbreak of the coronavirus crisis, Iraqi authorities had barred entry to most foreign pilgrims, including some three million Iranians.

“Last year we were prevented from performing the pilgrimage. But now thank God, it was granted to us”, an Iranian pilgrim, Hamid Muqaddam said in Kerbala.

This year, Iraqi authorities allowed a limited number of pilgrims from abroad to enter Iraq and attend Arbaeen.

On Monday, Iraqi authorities recorded 2,447 new cases of coronavirus infections and 32 deaths.

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Pentagon leaders to face Afghanistan reckoning in Congress

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2021)

President Joe Biden’s top military leaders are expected to face some of the most contentious hearings in memory this week over the chaotic end to the war in Afghanistan, which cost the lives of U.S. troops and civilians and left the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) back in power.

The Senate and House committees overseeing the U.S. military will hold hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, where Republicans are hoping to zero in on mistakes that Biden’s administration made toward the end of the two-decade-old war.

That will follow similar questioning two weeks ago that saw U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken staunchly defending the administration, even as he faced calls for his resignation.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is expected to praise American personnel who helped airlift 124,000 Afghans out of the country, an operation that also cost the lives of 13 U.S. troops and scores of Afghans in a suicide bombing outside the Kabul airport.

Austin is expected to “be frank about the things we could have done better,” a U.S. official told Reuters.

That will also certainly include the U.S. military’s last drone strike before withdrawing, which the Pentagon acknowledges killed 10 civilians, most of them children – and not the Daesh (ISIS-K) militants it thought it was attacking.

Ahead of the hearing, Senator James Inhofe, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s top Republican, wrote to Austin with a long list of requests for information, including on the August 26 airport bombing, equipment left behind and the administration’s future counter-terrorism plans.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, said lawmakers would also press about “a lack of coordination and a real plan for how we were going to get all the Afghans who helped us out of the country.”

“I don’t know if we’ll get answers. But questions will be raised again about why we got to the point that we did in Afghanistan,” she told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Many of the hardest questions may fall to the two senior U.S. military commanders testifying: Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Marine General Frank McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command.

McKenzie called the drone strike a “tragic mistake,” one that critics say raises hard questions about America’s ability to properly identify counter-terrorism targets in Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal.

But McKenzie and other U.S. officials will be under pressure to defend the Biden administration’s plans to address future counter-terrorism threats from groups like al Qaeda and Islamic State by flying in drones or commandos from overseas.

Republicans have accused the Biden administration of downplaying the risks associated with that so-called “over the horizon” capability.

Separately, Milley could face intense questioning over an account in a new book alleging he bypassed civilian leaders to place secret calls to his Chinese counterpart over concerns about former President Donald Trump.

Milley’s office pushed back against the report in the book, saying the calls he made were coordinated within the Pentagon and across the U.S. government.

Senator Marco Rubio has called for his resignation. Senator Rand Paul said he should be prosecuted if the account in the book was true. But some of the greatest concern has come from lawmakers in the House, where Milley will testify on Wednesday.

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