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Afghan Govt District Control Deteriorated to Its Lowest Level: SIGAR

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(Last Updated On: November 2, 2017)

The Afghan government’s ability to control its territory has “deteriorated” to its lowest level since the last two years, according to a report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

“The Afghan government’s district and population control deteriorated to its lowest level since SIGAR began analyzing district-control data in December 2015 and population-control data in September 2016,” the report reads.

Based on SIGAR’s report, as of Aug. 2017, the Taliban controlled 13 districts and influenced 41 of Afghanistan’s 407 districts, while the Afghan government controlled 74 districts and influenced 157.

Thirty percent of Afghanistan’s districts remain contested, according to SIGAR.

But the Afghan defense ministry disputed SIGAR’s latest report, saying we reject that 13% of the country’s total districts are now under the control or influence of the insurgents.

“I don’t accept that 13 percent of Afghanistan’s territory is under the control of the enemy,” said defense ministry spokesman, Major General Dawlat Waziri, who added “the centers of only nine districts of the country is under militant’s influence”.

By Hesamuddin Hesam

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Turkey sending Syrian rebel fighters to support Azerbaijan

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2020)

Turkey is sending Syrian rebel fighters to support Azerbaijan against Armenia as clashes escalate. 

Citing two Syrian rebels, Reuters reported the two fighters, from Turkish-backed rebel groups in areas of northern Syria under Turkish control, said they were deploying to Azerbaijan in coordination with Ankara. 

They declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. Reuters could not independently verify their accounts.

“I didn’t want to go, but I don’t have any money. Life is very hard and poor,” said a fighter who had fought in Syria for Ahrar al-Sham, a group that Turkey has supported.

Clashes broke out on Sunday between the two countries over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh territory which is inside Azerbaijan territory but occupied by ethnic Armenians. 

However, Armenia’s ambassador to Moscow said on Monday that Turkey had sent around 4,000 fighters from northern Syria to Azerbaijan and that they were fighting there, an assertion denied by an aide to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

Armenia also said Turkish military experts were fighting alongside Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Azerbaijan denied the reports. Turkey did not immediately comment, although senior officials including President Tayyip Erdogan, who has increasingly been flexing Turkey’s military muscle abroad, have promised support for Baku.

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Abdullah says crisis will deepen if peace opportunity is not seized

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2020)

Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said on Monday that the crisis in Afghanistan will only intensify if the current, historic, opportunity is not used wisely. 

Speaking at a meeting with Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmoud Qureshi in Islamabad, Abdullah said the majority of Afghans want the ongoing war in the country to end and for there to be peace and stability. 

He told the Pakistani officials that Afghanistan today is very different to the Afghanistan of 2001 – after the ousting of the Taliban regime. 

He emphasized that government was “committed to supporting national achievements.”

Abdullah thanked Pakistan for its help to get the Taliban to sit around the negotiating tables but said the level of violence, by the Taliban, in the country was way too high. 

He also said terrorism was a mutual threat for regional countries, and that “lasting and dignified peace in Afghanistan is in the interests of all regional and neighboring countries.”

Qureshi meanwhile said after the meeting that Abdullah’s visit will greatly help to strengthen relations with Afghanistan and forge a common understanding on the Afghan peace process.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s steadfast support to the peace process, Qureshi emphasized that Pakistan had always maintained there is no military solution to the Afghan conflict and encouraged all parties to reach a political agreement through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. 

He said it was now up to the Afghan leadership to seize this historic opportunity to bring an end to the decades-long conflict and secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

He also said there was a need to guard against the detrimental role of ‘spoilers’, both within and outside Afghanistan, who do not wish to see the return of peace in the region.

“The Afghan Peace Process is of paramount importance for both Pakistan and Afghanistan and  its success ensures socio-economic prosperity for all. Abdullah’s visit further strengthens the amity and fraternity between our countries,” said Qureshi.

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TikTok gets temporary reprieve in US after judge blocks Trump order

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(Last Updated On: September 28, 2020)

TikTok continues to remain available for download on iPhone and Android in the United States after a judge on Sunday blocked the Trump administration’s executive order to force Apple and Google to remove the app from their app stores. 

Had the White House order gone ahead, new users in the US would have been blocked from downloading the popular app. 

TikTok became another point of contention between the US and China recently when the US administration raised concerns about the user data storage system and stated they were concerned the Chinese government might use the information.

For weeks, the US government has called for the American side of the TikTok business to be sold. At one point Microsoft had looked into taking it over. 

Now, however, Oracle and Walmart appear to be interested in the takeover.

On Sunday however, a judge granted TikTok owners ByteDance a temporary injunction against Trump’s ban order but it is only a slight reprieve for the company. 

The judge did not block a much broader ban that will come into effect on November 12th, rendering TikTok unusable in the US.

“We’re pleased that the court agreed with our legal arguments and issued an injunction preventing the implementation of the TikTok app ban,” TikTok said in a statement.

“We will continue defending our rights for the benefit of our community and employees.”

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