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Armenia retaliates against Kabul’s support to Azerbaijan

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(Last Updated On: October 1, 2020)

The Armenian National Assembly has officially applied to the Secretariat of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to revoke Afghanistan’s observer status after Kabul came out in support of Azerbaijan this week. 

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday expressed its concerns over the ongoing clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh region and said in a statement that the disputed territory has been recognized internationally as a part of Azerbaijan.

Afghanistan called for an end to clashes and said in the statement it “supports the efforts by the people and government of Azerbaijan and other nations of the world in this regard”.

Armenia state radio reported that “the Armenian National Assembly has officially applied to the Secretariat of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly to start the process of depriving Afghanistan of its observer status.”

“The request comes in response to the statements of Afghanistan supporting the Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression against Artsakh,” Armenia Radio quoted that Speaker of the National Assembly Ararat Mirzoyan as having said. 

The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is a Russia-led military alliance of seven former Soviet states that was created in 2002. The CSTO’s purpose is to ensure the collective defence of any member that faces external aggression.

Current CSTO members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan. Afghanistan and Serbia hold observer status in the CSTO. 

Majority Christian Armenia and mainly Muslim Azerbaijan have come to blows periodically in their decades-long conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region that is inside Azerbaijan but run by ethnic Armenians.

On Sunday, clashes flared between the two countries and since then dozens of people have been killed and hundreds of others injured in the fighting, which has since spread to areas outside the enclave’s borders.

France, Russia and the United States have all now called for a ceasefire between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces but both sides have dismissed the demands for a truce in the disputed region, where fighting has escalated in recent days to levels not seen since the 1990s.

Speaking on Russian state television Tuesday, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan both rejected the possibility of talks.

Also this week, the United Nations Security Council called for an immediate end to the hostilities, as did a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the US State Department.

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Kabul University lecturer killed in IED explosion 

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(Last Updated On: February 18, 2021)

A university lecturer was killed in a targeted IED explosion in Kabul city late Thursday morning.

Police confirmed the incident, which happened at about 11.25 am in PD3, close to Kabul University and said another person was also killed in the incident. 

The victim, Mubasher Muslimyar, was a lecturer in Islamic studies at the university.

Muslimyar was killed while driving in a Toyota Corolla which was targeted in a magnetic IED attack. 

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the explosion.  

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Biden says he will never hesitate to use force to protect America

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(Last Updated On: February 11, 2021)

In a visit to the Pentagon on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden said he would never hesitate to use force to defend America but also promised to work with leaders around the world to bring an end to wars that have dragged on “for far too long”. 

“As your commander in chief, I will never hesitate to use force to defend the vital interest of America, the American people and our allies around the world when necessary,” Biden said adding that the “central indispensable mission of the Department of Defense is to deter aggression from our enemies, and if required to, fight and win wars to keep America safe.”

He told DoD staff present at the event that the US Defense Department is essential for the work State Department diplomats do around the world.

Biden promised to work with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and world leaders “to bring a responsible end to wars that have dragged on for far too long, while continuing to ensure that terrorist threats cannot endanger the security of the American people.”

Biden did not however give any indication as to what his decision is yet on the May 1 troop withdrawal deadline. 

An agreement signed in February 2020 by the Trump Administration and the Taliban notes that all US troops are supposed to be gone by May this year. 

So far, indications are that the withdrawal of troops will be based on conditions on the ground, opposed to a calendar date. 

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Facebook to temporarily reduce political content in some countries

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(Last Updated On: February 11, 2021)

Facebook Inc said on Wednesday it would temporarily reduce political content appearing on New Feeds for some users in Canada, Brazil and Indonesia this week and in the United States within the coming weeks, Reuters reported.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in January that he wanted to “turn down the temperature” of political conversations on the social networking site because “people don’t want politics and fighting to take over their experience on our services.”

Reuters reported that the world’s largest social network, which has received flack for not doing enough to remove hateful content from the platform, last month said it would stop recommending civic and political groups to users.

Reducing the frequency of political content will mark initial steps to explore different ways to rank such content in people’s feeds using different signals and understand their preferences, the company said in a blog post.

Facebook will exempt content from official government agencies and services, as well as COVID-19 information from health organizations from the drill, Reuters reported.

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