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CENTCOM chief ‘developing concepts’ to deal with ‘terrorists’

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(Last Updated On: April 28, 2021)

Commander of US Central Command General Kenneth F. McKenzie said on Tuesday he is developing concepts that will preserve the US’s ability to ensure Afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for terrorist attacks against the United States.

He said these concepts will help enhance America’s “ability to strike terrorists and capitalize on partnerships elsewhere in the region.”

He said his headquarters is also working closely with that of U.S Forces Afghanistan and the NATO-led Resolute Support mission “to ensure that we withdraw our forces from Afghanistan in a deliberate synchronized manner that protects our personnel.

He said the U.S will continue to provide security assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces on a bilateral basis.

“The department [of defense] is working through how we will manage this effort without personnel in Afghanistan, to manage security assistance, we’re also steadfastly supporting ongoing diplomatic efforts to resolve Afghanistan’s long war while holding the Taliban to their part of the February 2020 commitment that they will end their relationship with al-Qaeda and prevent the use of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies,” he said.

McKenzie’s comments coincided with a US Senate Foreign Relation Committee hearing on Tuesday, which saw lawmakers raise concerns about the future of Afghanistan post troop withdrawal.

“How we withdraw and what political arrangement is left in our wake matters deeply,” US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez said.

“If the Taliban were to come back to power, the reality for Afghanistan’s women and girls, I think, would be devastating.”

Menendez said that he doesn’t “believe under any circumstances that the United States Senate will support assistance for Afghanistan, especially under the World Bank’s program which provides budget support, if the Taliban has taken a governing role that ends civil society advances and rolls back women’s rights.”

But US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said any future support of a government that included the Taliban would be conditional.

“If they do want US assistance, they want international acceptance … those things will be all affected by how they treat their own citizens, first and foremost the women of Afghanistan, children and minorities,” Khalilzad said at the hearing.

“We should all remain concerned that those rights could suffer,” he said.

Asked if the US would keep any leverage to protect those rights once its troops are gone, Khalilzad said aid and other types of diplomatic support “would be not available if they did not respect the human rights of Afghan women or others.”

Senator Jim Risch said the US military withdrawal should proceed only with safeguards for the gains the US has made in Afghanistan.

“I have deep concerns about the administration’s rush for the exits in Afghanistan,” Risch said.

“I hope I’m wrong, but I’m concerned that the administration’s decision may result in a Taliban offensive that topples the government.”

But Khalilzad said that he doesn’t “believe the (Afghan) government is going to collapse or the Taliban is going to take over.”

“The choice that the Afghans face is between a negotiated political settlement or a long war,” he added.

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Muttaqi calls on international community to recognize IEA government

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Foreign acting Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi accused the international community on Friday (October 15) of “violating the rights of Afghan people” by not recognizing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government.

Speaking to Reuters on the second day of a two-day visit to Turkey’s capital of Ankara, Muttaqi said he discussed the recognition of the IEA’s government with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as well.

“The fact that all of them are recognized and the new Islamic government of Afghanistan is not recognized is an injustice and oppression of the Afghan people… Afghanistan wants positive relations with the world and the world must respond positively to this message,” he said.

Almost two months after the former Western-backed government collapsed and IEA forces swept into Kabul, the IEA administration has pushed to build relations with other countries to help stave off a catastrophic economic crisis.

But the IEA has so far refused to give ground on allowing girls to return to high school, one of the key demands of the international community after a decision last month that schools above the sixth grade would only reopen for boys.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday he had conveyed Turkey’s recommendations regarding the inclusion of women in the workforce and education of girls.
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu reiterated the importance of government inclusiveness for Afghanistan’s unity.

“We once again explained the importance of including people from all ethnic and religious groups, besides the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan), in the administration. Especially in these difficult times, this is important in terms of establishing unity and solidarity within the country,” Cavusoglu said.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Kabul after Western countries withdrew following the fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government and have urged those countries to increase engagement.

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Blast targets mosque in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

A large explosion ripped through a mosque in the southern Kandahar province on Friday afternoon.

The blast happened at the Shi’ite Fatimiya mosque during Friday prayers, causing heavy casualties.

Sources said at least 34 people were killed and 69 others wounded in the explosion. Afghan officials have not confirmed the casualties so far.

Qari Saeed Khosti, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, has told Reuters that authorities were collecting details of the explosion.

The blast took place days after a suicide bomb attack claimed by Islamic State on a Shi’ite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz that killed and wounded more than 200 people.

So far, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The blast, coming so soon after the Kunduz attack underlined the increasingly uncertain security in Afghanistan as the Islamic State has stepped up operations following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul in August.

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Turkey underlines need for inclusive Afghan government

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

In talks with the delegation of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Turkey on Thursday reiterated the importance of government inclusiveness for Afghanistan’s unity, Reuters reported.

Turkey repeated its advice to the visiting IEA delegation on girls’ education and women’s employment in business life, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference following a meeting with Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Ankara.

Muttaqi led an IEA delegation for an official visit to Turkey to discuss bilateral issues as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

The IEA officials have pledged to provide the utmost support to Afghan refugees who want to return to the country from Turkey, added Cavusoglu.

He also underlined that the IEA delegation conveyed requests to Turkey during the meeting, especially on humanitarian aid and continued investment in Afghanistan.

Last month, Cavusoglu said Turkey has contributed to stabilization and development efforts in Afghanistan, including on the education of girls and empowerment of women since the 1920s, adding that Ankara continues providing humanitarian aid through the Turkish Red Crescent.

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