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Biden breaks silence, says leaving Afghanistan was the right decision

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(Last Updated On: August 17, 2021)

US President Joe Biden said on Monday night that the developments of the past week have reinforced that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan was the right decision.

He said Washington’s mission in Afghanistan “was never supposed to have been nation building” nor was it aimed at creating a unified, centralized democracy.

Addressing a press conference at the White House, Biden said: “Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight.”

He said “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”

“We spent over a trillion dollars. We trained and equipped an Afghan military force of some 300,000 strong — incredibly well equipped — a force larger in size than the militaries of many of our NATO allies.

“We gave them every tool they could need. We paid their salaries, provided for the maintenance of their air force.

“We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future,” Biden said.

Biden said when he hosted former president Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the high council for national reconciliation, in June, he had a frank discussion with them about cleaning up the corruption in government and the about Afghan leaders uniting politically.

“We talked about how Afghanistan should prepare to fight their civil wars after the U.S. military departed,” he said.

“They failed to do any of that,” he added.

“I also urged them to engage in diplomacy, to seek a political settlement with the Taliban. This advice was flatly refused. Mr. Ghani insisted the Afghan forces would fight, but obviously he was wrong,” Biden said.

He went on to say that he is clear on his decision. “I will not repeat the mistakes we’ve made in the past — the mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interest of the United States, of doubling down on a civil war in a foreign country, of attempting to remake a country through the endless military deployments of U.S. forces.

“Those are the mistakes we cannot continue to repeat, because we have significant vital interests in the world that we cannot afford to ignore.”

He said the US will continue to support the Afghan people. “We will lead with our diplomacy, our international influence, and our humanitarian aid.

“We’ll continue to push for regional diplomacy and engagement to prevent violence and instability.

“We’ll continue to speak out for the basic rights of the Afghan people — of women and girls — just as we speak out all over the world,” he said.

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Democracy should be used to benefit people, not for decoration: CMG president

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(Last Updated On: December 6, 2021)

Democracy should not be used for decoration since the true function of it is to improve people’s well-being, Reuters quoting Shen Haixiong, president of the China Media Group (CMG), while addressing the International Forum on Democracy in Beijing on Saturday.

Dignitaries and intellectuals from over 120 countries, regions, and more than 20 international organizations participated in the event.

“We have an old saying in China that ‘oranges grown south of the Huai River are true oranges; once transplanted to the north of the river, they become trifoliate oranges.’ Whether one’s shoes fit, only the wearer himself or herself knows. Over the years, the U.S. has ignored the huge differences in history and national conditions of different countries, and tried to impose the ‘U.S.-style of democracy’ in other regions, causing great harm to world peace and stability,” said Shen.

The various social problems and divisions faced by the U.S. have dented America’s image as a beacon for global democracy, Shen noted.

“From the Jan. 6 Capitol riot to the death toll from COVID-19 hitting new records again and again, the U.S. halo as a beacon for global democracy has markedly faded, and the U.S.-style democracy is clearly ailing,” the CMG president said.

Shen also said CMG’s reports on the Afghanistan situation have exposed the hypocrisy of the U.S.-style democracy, Reuters reported.

“In the reports of the recent Afghanistan situation, the exclusive video news released by the China Global Television Network under China Media Group (CMG) have become a major source of information for the global media. These videos have revealed the truth of the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians by the U.S. army and the endless pain brought to the Afghan people. CMG has delivered objective and true first-hand information to the world,” said Shen.

He pointed out that democracy should really work for the people, otherwise it would be useless no matter how good its facade is.

“Now, more and more people with insights around the world have come to realize whether a country is a democracy or not should be judged by its own people, not by a few outsiders. Democracy is not an ornament used for decoration. What really matters is that it actually works. If it can’t truly put people first and improve people’s well-being, no matter how delicate the ornament is or how exquisite the rhetoric is, this kind of democracy is just bragging and deceiving oneself as well as others. Can people like George Floyd enjoy the ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ as claimed by U.S. politicians?” said Shen.

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Kabul’s air pollution a serious ‘threat to life’, say doctors

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Doctors warned Sunday that the air pollution level in Kabul is dangerously high and that it was threatening the lives of many people.

One doctor Mohammad Hashim Wahaj, who spoke to Ariana News, said: “Air pollution is a serious and dangerous problem in Kabul.”

Doctors and resident’s called on government to take measures to stop people from burning fuels such as plastic and rubber and get them to rather use gas or electricity.

“People burn coal and other materials that produce smoke. That should be stopped,” said Mohammad Rasoul, a Kabul resident.

“People should use gas and electricity if they can afford it and avoid burning plastic and coal,” said Sohrab, another Kabul resident.

Kabul Municipality meanwhile said efforts are being made to reduce the air pollution level and that they have closed down a number of bathhouses, that burn fuel to heat the water.

Naimatullah Barakzai, the municipality’s head of public awareness and publications department, said that among the central heating systems used in the city are two that run on gas.

According to him there are at least 1,100 other types but these run on coal and wood.

Barakzai said while the municipality would like more people to use gas furnaces and heaters, most of them are not able to afford it.

He said if the people had the money they would rather use “modern equipment”.

Kabul’s air pollution levels increase dramatical each winter as people make fires to keep warm. But, poverty-stricken residents often resort to burning toxic materials such as plastic, car tyres and coal to heat their homes.

In addition to this, the city lies in a valley surrounded by towering Hindu Kush mountain peaks, which reduces the mixing of air, particularly in winter when temperature inversions regularly form and with little rain to remove the pollution from the atmosphere, this accumulates during winter.

Afghanistan documented nearly 5,000 deaths attributed to air pollution in 2020 – deaths due to respiratory and heart diseases that were considered to be caused by air pollution, a health official said in January.

Kabul meanwhile was also considered the world’s worst polluted city last year and is on track to remain among the most polluted cities in 2021.

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Qatar in talks with Turkey on managing Kabul Airport

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Qatar’s foreign minister said that discussions are being held with Turkey about them taking responsibility for the operational control of Kabul International Airport.

Addressing the Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) forum in Rome on Saturday, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that all issues around fully reopening Kabul airport are being discussed with Turkish officials.

This comes after airlines stopped flying into Kabul at the end of August. However, limited commercial flights resumed in recent weeks, including Afghanistan’s Kam Air and Ariana Airlines, as well as Pakistan’s PIA. Qatar Airways has also had regular chartered flights into Kabul.

Al-Thani meanwhile said Doha officials have been hard at work to get the Kabul airport fully operational.

“We have been working together very closely on the issue of the airport, whether on the assessment of requirements to get the airport operational again, or on the management agreement with the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) government to operate the airport in the future.”

Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) said that in the event of a contract being drawn up with a foreign country, national interests will be preserved.

“No contract for Kabul International Airport has been signed so far. We have made our conditions clear for companies based on our national interests. If company’s respect our national interests, we will sign contracts with them,” said Amamudin Ahmadi, a spokesman for the ACAA.

 

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