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ArtLords offer wise words of advice to Afghan peace negotiators

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(Last Updated On: September 11, 2020)

As the political rhetoric ramps up and the world’s focus turns to Doha, Qatar, for the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations on Saturday, Kabul’s much-loved ArtLords posted a message and artwork on Twitter that was fun, inspiring but also quite poignant. 

Co-founder of the group of mural artists, Omaid Sharifi, said in his message: “Sending you all our best wishes and prayers for the start of #IntraAfghanTalks in #Doha #Qatar.”

He then offered words of inspiration in line with what will probably be a tense situation for members on both sides of the talks table. 

He suggested they “paint together during the coffee breaks & on the sidelines of your meetings. Listen to music. Have empathy. Be kind and also smile at each other [from] time to time.”

Devoid of political diction, the simple words carry an important message – a message to all delegates to stay calm, to treat each other with respect, and to show some semblance of sensitivity. 

 

The words are also a true reflection of what this well-known and much-admired group of alternate activists stand for.

ArtLords, co-founded by Sharifi and Kabir Mokamel, are a group of artists who have transformed the grey blast walls that dominate the streets of Kabul into politically inspired murals.

Established in 2014, ArtLords is a movement of artists and volunteers who aim to help social transformation and behavioral change through the power of art. 

In a recent message posted on their website, ArtLords stated that during the Taliban regime, from 1996 to 2001, women were locked in their houses and any form of art was banned. 

This is a perilous time for the people of Afghanistan, especially for the women and artists,” the group stated. 

In line with this, they have called on artists from around the world to contribute a concept, design, play, or a painting in solidarity with the women and art in Afghanistan. 

“Team ArtLords will paint or perform your art in Afghanistan,” they said.

ArtLords are the only organization that advocates for art in the front-line of war against terror and oppression.

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Govt rolls out curfew in 31 provinces to curb Taliban activities

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(Last Updated On: July 24, 2021)

The Afghan government announced Saturday it has imposed a curfew in 31 provinces around the country in a bid to curb Taliban activity.

According to the Ministry of Interior’s deputy spokesman Ahmad Zia Zia, the curfew will come into effect immediately and will be enforced from 10pm to 4am. 

Kabul, Nangarhar and Panjshir provinces are the only three that have been exempt. 

“Based on the security [situation] officials announced a curfew in 31 provinces; the decision was taken to prevent Taliban activities,” said Zia.

Meanwhile, residents of Kapisa province said that a number of families have been displaced due to clashes between Afghan forces and Taliban in Nijrab, Alasay and Tagab districts.

“Due to the war between ANDSF and Taliban in Nijrab, Alasay and Tagab districts, many of the residents of the districts have been displaced. We want to know what government intends to do about this,” said Shamila Mashal, a civil society activist.

In addition to these districts, heavy clashes have been ongoing between ANDSF and Taliban in Ghazni, Wardak, Takhar, Kunduz, Kunar, Laghman, Herat, Helmand and Nimruz provinces.

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Commander of US, NATO forces in Afghanistan is stepping down

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(Last Updated On: July 12, 2021)

The commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Scott Miller is stepping down Monday in a move that marks the symbolic end of the U.S. military mission in the country.

Miller has commanded the military coalition in Afghanistan since August 2018, longer than any previous commanding general in that position and will turn over command of U.S. Forces Afghanistan to the commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine General Frank McKenzie.

NBC reported that as the head of CENTCOM, McKenzie already had authority over Afghanistan and many of the neighboring countries. He will continue to work from CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, Florida, and his forward headquarters at Al Udeid Air Base in Doha, Qatar.

Miller is expected to retire, three defense officials said, NBC reported.

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Biden: US military mission in Afghanistan will end Aug 31

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2021)

The United States’ military mission in Afghanistan will officially end on August 31, US President Joe Biden announced Thursday during an update on the troop withdrawal process.

Biden stated a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan is “not inevitable” because the Afghan military not only outnumbers the Taliban but is much better equipped. 

He also said the US intelligence community’s recent warning that Afghanistan’s government is on the verge of collapse is “wrong”. 

Biden’s remarks during a press briefing at the White House came after he and Vice President Kamala Harris met with national security leaders for an update on the troop withdrawal process.

He also said: “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build, and it is the right and the responsibility of Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.” 

Biden announced that the US is implementing an evacuation plan to withdraw Afghans who assisted the American military.

Biden said Washington would begin flights this month to relocate Afghan interpreters and other personnel who aided the US military – as well as their families – to third-party countries while they await expedited visa processing to move to the United States.

“There is a home for you in the United States if you so choose, and we will stand with you just as you stood with us,” Biden said.

He noted that the US has already approved 2,500 special immigrant visas for Afghans who assisted the US military but said that “up until now, fewer than half have exercised their right to do that.”

There are an estimated 18,000 Afghans who qualify for the special immigrant visas.

 

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