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Blinken admits a civil war or Taliban takeover is a possibility

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(Last Updated On: April 28, 2021)

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Tuesday Afghanistan could be taken over by Taliban or descend into civil war when the US withdraws troops by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Blinken told CNN a civil war or Taliban takeover in Afghanistan is “certainly a possible scenario” when the US withdraws all its troops from the country.

The Biden administration is “planning for every scenario” but stated the US is “not disengaging from Afghanistan” and will continue to be “deeply engaged” in supporting the country long after troops have left.

But the decision has divided opinion with some officials and lawmakers voicing concerns that pulling troops out of Afghanistan too quickly could lead to retaliation from the Taliban.

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who is on the Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN “it’s difficult to see a scenario that doesn’t end in civil war or a Taliban takeover.”

Blinken addressed these concerns Tuesday, admitting that unrest is a possible consequence. “That is certainly a possible scenario,” he said.

He urged what he described as “free riders” in the region to start using their “influence” to help keep the country stable.

“I don’t think ultimately either the Afghan government or the Taliban do, none of Afghanistan’s neighbors do, neighbors and other countries in the region that have basically been free riders for the last 20 years, as we’ve been engaged there with our NATO allies and partners who are now going to have to decide, given their interests in a relatively stable Afghanistan, given the influence that they have, whether they’re going to try to use that influence in a way that keeps things within the 40-yard line,” he said.

Blinken denied that the withdrawal of troops was the US “disengaging” from the country, saying the nation continues to be committed to “its people, development, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance, support for the security forces.”

“So a lot of people are having their minds concentrated by the president’s decision and besides that – even as we are withdrawing our forces, we are not disengaging from Afghanistan,” he said adding the US remains “deeply engaged in the diplomacy, in support for the Afghan government and its people.”

“We have trained over the years more than 300,000 of them so all to that remains and there are different actors are work now who I hope will keep moving this in a more positive than negative direction.”

He added: “But we have to plan, we are planning for every scenario.”

Blinken also insisted that the Biden administration is working to ensure Afghan locals who “put their lives on the line” working with US forces and diplomats in the country over the last two decades can apply to be expedited to the US.

Thousands of people worked alongside the US on the ground in the country and have been left fearful for their lives once the US withdraws.

“We have had this program in Iraq and also in Afghanistan and we want to make sure that people who put their lives on the line, working with American folks in uniform, working with our diplomats who put, not just themselves in jeopardy, potentially their families as well, can get expedited consideration if they decide that they want to try to come to the United States,” he said.

“We have got about 18,000 people already in the pipeline, 9,000 of whom are relatively far along, another 9,000 are just at the beginning of the process, and you know, clearly more are likely to sign up, so we are working very hard to make sure that we’ve got in place the resources to work that program – to work it quickly, expeditiously.”

Blinken called on the lawmakers in the House and the Senate to “work together and make sure that the program has the resources it needs.”

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Tuesday he hoped many Afghans will want to stay to “contribute to the nation’s future” but said it was crucial the US protects those who feel they need to leave the nation.

“Failing to do so sends a global message – Don’t fight with the Americans, because when they’re finished they leave you behind. That’s not something we can tolerate,” he said.

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IEA delegation due in Norway for humanitarian talks

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Representatives of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will arrive in Norway on Sunday for three days of talks on how to alleviate a humanitarian crisis, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Friday, Reuters reported.

“These meetings do not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban [IEA]. But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

“We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” she said.

Millions of Afghans have been plunged deeper into poverty since last year’s IEA takeover, which resulted in disruption to aid programmes and deteriorating food security, Reuters reported.

The IEA representatives will meet Norwegian authorities as well as diplomats from several other countries from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

“Meetings will also take place between the Taliban [IEA] delegation and other Afghans with backgrounds from a range of fields. These include women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues,” Norway said.

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IEA says EU reopens embassy in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Thursday, announced that European Union officially reopened its diplomatic office in Kabul.

Spokesman of the Ministry Abdul Qahar Balkhi on the Twitter post said that the EU’s diplomatic office has officially resumed its operations in Afghanistan.

“Following consecutive meetings and reaching an understanding with EU representatives, the European Union officially opened its embassy with a permanent presence in Kabul and practically commenced operations.” Balkhi tweeted.

Meanwhile, Abdul Qahar Balkhi said that the EU announced 268 million euro additional assistance apart from the 220 million euro humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

He added that a portion of the money will be used for teachers and their salaries which he welcomed.

The reopening of the embassy comes as the IEA is yet to be recognized by any country but a number of countries have started consular services in the country.

This comes after Afghanistan’s caretaker government on Wednesday called on the international community to formally recognize the IEA administration which is governing the country after toppling the U.S.-installed government last year.

Mullah Hassan Akhund, acting prime minister of the caretaker government, made the statement at an economic conference in Kabul, which convened IEA officials, some countries’ representatives and UN envoys.

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Turkey, Qatar reached preliminary deal on Kabul airport security

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Turkey and Qatar have reached agreement on ensuring security at Kabul’s main airport should they be awarded the mission amid ongoing talks with the Islamic Emirate (IE) government, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Kabul’s international airport is landlocked Afghanistan’s main air link to the world. Following the August takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Turkey has said it would be open to operating it with Qatar but only if its security demands are met.

Reuters has reported that the United Arab Emirates also held talks with the Taliban to keep the airport operational.

The sources told reporters on Thursday that Ankara and Doha had agreed on a security framework for the airport mission, but added talks continued on other aspects such as financing.

“It is expected for the Taliban [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] to ensure security outside, and for whoever runs the airport to ensure it inside,” one of the sources said. “The process is continuing constructively,” the person said on condition of anonymity.

They added that a delegation of Turkish and Qatari officials were holding talks on the issue in Kabul this week, Reuters reported.

Qatar’s state news agency said the IEA government will be in Doha next week to complete discussions with Qatar and Turkey over the operation and management of the airport.

It added that delegations from Qatar and Turkey have held two days of “intense negotiations” in Kabul this week over control of the airport.

Qatar – which helped run the airport along with Turkey after playing a major role in evacuation efforts following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal in August – say that Ankara, Doha, and the IEA have agreed that discussions are going to be completed next week.

Qatar’s role at the Kabul airport has ensured that flights have operated between Doha and Kabul since September, allowing Qatar to become a hub for countries to maintain links to Afghanistan and to meet the IEA government. The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and several other countries have moved their Afghanistan embassies to Qatar, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was sending 700 tonnes of emergency aid and supplies to Afghanistan, without providing a date.

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