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Concerns over slow implementation of Ghani-Abdullah agreement

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(Last Updated On: June 16, 2020)

Following the signing of the political agreement between President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, no significant progress has been made in implementing the agreement.

Nearly a month has passed since the signing of the political agreement between President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, but no fundamental work has been done to implement elements of the agreement.

Arg has so far nominated seven ministers for President Ghani’s share, while Abdullah has not yet nominated any. Also, he has not finalized appointments in the High Reconciliation Council which is chaired by Abdullah. All these have created concerns among politicians.

Abdullah’s associates underlined that fundamental work has begun in the High Council of National Reconciliation, and he will nominate his share of the cabinet within a few days.

“When the political agreement was signed between the two sides, people hoped that a reconciliation council would be formed as soon as possible, but neither the reconciliation council nor the cabinet had been completed,” said Shahzada Masood, a politician. “These two should be completed as soon as possible, so the Intra-Afghan talks, which we hope for, will take place in the coming weeks.”

On the other hand, giving the rank of marshals to General Dostum, Abdullah’s political partner, has not yet been officially granted by the president.

Associates of General Dostum say that the marshall rite will be held in Kabul in the next few days.

“Marshall Abdul Rashid Dostum, one of Afghanistan’s leaders and a member of the Security Council, will be in Kabul in the coming days for a special ceremony,” said Bashir Ahmad Tahianj, spokesman for the Afghan National Movement.

There are concerns about the lack of progress in government structures after the signing of a political agreement between Arg and Sapidar.

The presidential palace has not commented on the matter yet.

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Saleh rejects SIGAR claims of cash being smuggled out through airport

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2021)

Amrullah Saleh, First Vice President has rejected the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s (SIGAR) report over the smuggling of cash from the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

In his daily 6:30 am meeting, Saleh stated: “However a massive amount of foreign currency does exit Afghanistan’s porous land borders by cross-border networks.

“The report on the flight of foreign currency from Kabul airport is not correct and substantiated,” said Saleh.

Saleh added that a large amount of cash was flowing out of the country to Pakistan.

“The strict anti-money laundering regulations have created a dark parallel market. Let’s be real,” he emphasized.

Last week, SIGAR reported that the unchecked flow of cash out of Afghanistan still exits at the Kabul airport due to poor screening procedures.

According to the report, cash counting machines, which were funded by the US government, are not being used for the purposes intended and the only cash counting machine confirmed to be working is in the arrival entrance, instead of the departure area where strict cash controls are most needed to help prevent cash smuggling.

In addition, the machines lack connectivity to the Internet, which in turn prevents Afghan investigative authorities from tracking currency suspected of being laundered.

“The absence of fully functional and strategically positioned cash counting machines, and declaration forms in the VIP section along with the limited screening of VIP passengers – who are most likely to have large amounts of cash – severely limits the Afghan government’s ability to fully implement its anti-money laundering laws at the airport,” John F. Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction stated in the report.

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Taliban delegation in Iran for ‘talks’

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2021)

The Taliban’s head of its political office, Mullah Baradar Akhand and an accompanying delegation arrived in Iran on Monday for talks with Iranian officials.

The Taliban’s spokesman Mohammad Naeem said they would discuss relations between the two countries; the issue of Afghan refugees in Iran; and the current political and security situation in Afghanistan.

Iran’s foreign ministry also confirmed the trip and said in a statement that a Taliban political delegation had arrived in Tehran.

Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said the trip was a pre-arranged visit.

“This delegation arrived in Tehran this morning based on arrangements already made and upon the invitation of the Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and was welcomed by foreign ministry officials,” he said.

“During their stay in Tehran, the Taliban’s political delegation will have meetings with Iranian officials, including the respected foreign minister and Iran’s special envoy for Afghanistan, and discuss the peace trend in Afghanistan as well as relevant issues and topics,” he said.

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Al-Qaeda gaining strength with help of Taliban: US Treasury report

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(Last Updated On: January 26, 2021)

The US Treasury Department has issued a memo stating al-Qaeda is “gaining strength” in Afghanistan under the Taliban’s “protection”.

In answer to inquiries from the US Department of Defense’s Lead Inspector General on illicit terrorism financing, the US Treasury Deparment also stated that despite the US-Taliban deal signed in February last year that calls for the Taliban to cut ties with al-Qaeda, the two groups were still closely allied.

“As of 2020, al-Qaeda is gaining strength in Afghanistan while continuing to operate with the Taliban under the Taliban’s protection. Al-Qaeda broadly still depends on donations from
like minded supporters, and from individuals who believe that their money is supporting humanitarian or charitable causes,” the report read.

“Al-Qaeda capitalizes on its relationship with the Taliban through its network of mentors and advisers who are embedded with the Taliban, providing advice, guidance, and financial
support.

“Senior Haqqani Network figures have discussed forming a new joint unit of armed fighters in cooperation with and funded by al-Qaeda,” the report stated.

The report also stated that elements of al-Qaeda, including affiliate al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), and terrorist groups targeting Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), continue to use the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region as a safe haven.

“AQIS likely receives funding from al-Qaeda senior leadership,” the report stated adding that “as of May 2020, the Taliban and al-Qaeda maintained a strong relationship and continued to meet regularly.”

On the state of ISIS-Khorasan’s (Daesh Afghanistan) finances, the treasury report stated “ISIS-K primarily raises funds through local donations, taxation, extortion, and some financial support from ISIS-core.

“In 2019, Afghan Taliban and Afghan government forces retook ISIS-K’s stronghold in southern Nangarhar, which decreases the amount of money the group could earn exploiting natural resources in this territory.

“As of early 2020, ISIS core was possibly providing some funds to ISIS-K. According to Treasury’s information, ISIS-K retains at least some financial reserves and relies on hawalas, particularly in Kabul and Jalalabad, to transfer funds,” the report read.

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