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EU says ‘failed state’ scenario has to be avoided in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 11, 2021)

The European Union (EU) has emphasized the need to avoid a ‘failed state’ scenario in Afghanistan amid a surge in coordinated attacks by the Taliban against the Afghan forces across the country since the beginning of the withdrawal process of international forces.

In a statement on Thursday, the EU Parliament condemned in “the strongest terms” the alarming increase in violence in Afghanistan. 

The organization called on the Taliban to immediately cease their attacks against “civilians and the national forces, and to fully respect international humanitarian law.”

In the resolution adopted on Thursday, Members of the EU Parliament (MEPs) point to “the confluence of the fragile domestic situation, a deteriorating security situation, intra-Afghan peace talks effectively at a stalemate and the decision to withdraw US and NATO troops by 11 September 2021.”

All this could intensify internal conflicts and create a vacuum that, in the worst-case scenario, will be filled by the Taliban, MEPs said. 

“This would be very worrying for the country and for the sustainability of the socio-political achievements and progress of the last 20 years”, MEPs warned. 

The MEPs also stressed that the progress made in the rights of women and girls, which is now under threat and must urgently be preserved and strengthened.

The resolution expressed concern about the fragility and instability of the Afghan Government and its lack of control over much of the country and stresses the need to avoid a ‘failed state’ scenario. 

The Parliament, meanwhile, reiterated its commitment to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process and post-conflict reconstruction as the only credible path to inclusive, long-term peace, security, and development. 

The organization also urged the Council, the European External Action Service (EEAS), and the Commission to “prepare and present to Parliament, as soon as possible, a comprehensive strategy for future cooperation with Afghanistan once NATO-allied troops have withdrawn and urge the EU and its member states, NATO and the US to remain engaged with this objective.”

The statement comes amid a surge in coordinated attacks by the Taliban against the Afghan forces across the country since the beginning of the withdrawal process of international forces.

So far, the group has captured over a dozen districts and dozens of military bases and outposts.

According to the reports, hundreds of members of the Afghan forces have been killed, wounded, or captured by the Taliban since the group launched offensives during the past month.

The peace talks in Doha must resume immediately to achieve a political settlement to the conflict and a permanent, nationwide negotiated ceasefire, EU Parliament members said. 

According to them, only a political settlement offers hope for lasting peace, they underline. They recommend the parties should seek help from a third-party mediator, such as the United Nations, to help them agree on a political roadmap for a prosperous Afghanistan.

MEPs emphasized that European support will remain conditional on preserving and building upon the achievements of the past twenty years, on effectively enhancing inclusive and accountable governance, strengthening institutions, democratic pluralism, the rule of law, combating corruption, strengthening independent media, human rights, and fundamental freedoms for all Afghans.

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Abdullah quashes rumors of districts being abandoned intentionally

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(Last Updated On: June 15, 2021)

Following the collapse of a number of districts across Afghanistan in the past six weeks, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah stated that “the abandonment of these districts (by security forces) was unplanned”.

So far, at least 33 districts have fallen to the Taliban since May 1.

In the most recent development, Anar Dara district in Farah province; Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province; and Gosfandi and Sayyad districts of Sar-e-Pul province were captured by the militants in the last 24 hours.

Sources told Ariana News that at least 40 members of the Afghan forces have been killed in Sar-e-Pul alone in the last week.

Abdullah, however, stated that there had been no plans ahead of time by security forces to abandon the districts. This comes after rumors started circulating a few days ago that security forces have intentionally planned to hand over districts to the Taliban.

Addressing a meeting with Friedrich Ebert Foundation members on Tuesday, Abdullah said: “The consecutive abandonment of the districts by the security forces is not part of an orderly plan.”

“It is not true that the districts are being handed over to the Taliban based on a plan,” Abdullah added.

Abdullah also called on people to support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) amid a surge in clashes across the country.

“We know the situation is bad, but it is the responsibility of all of us to carry the burden and to come up with [support for] the current situation,” he stated.

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Taliban captures another 4 districts bringing total to 33

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(Last Updated On: June 15, 2021)

Taliban militants have captured another four districts in four provinces in the last 24 hours, sources confirmed.

According to the sources, Anar Dara district in Farah province; Khas Uruzgan district of Uruzgan province; and Gosfandi and Sayyad districts of Sar-e-Pul province were captured by the militants, bringing the number of fallen districts to 33 since May 1.

Afghan officials, however, stated that Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) have “tactically retreated” from the districts.

In Farah, the Taliban blew up the government compound after capturing the center of Anar Dara district.

Police said the compound was completely destroyed in the explosion.

In Uruzgan, the insurgents captured the government compound, police headquarters, provincial NDS headquarters, and a number of public facilities on Tuesday morning.

This comes after First Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Monday called the advancement of the Taliban a “narrow line” and warned that the paths into the districts will be turned into a mass graveyard for the militants.

In a statement issued on Monday, Saleh said: “Those who know how to fight with the Taliban, know that this narrow line will become the mass graveyard of this group of terror and ignorance.”

Saleh, meanwhile, stated that the Taliban militants have not changed the way they treat the people of Afghanistan.

“Do not be deceived by [Taliban’s] propaganda. Resisting the Taliban is defending human values and dignity. Taliban has no message for the people of this country other than demanding obedience as a slave life,” Saleh said.

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U.N. readies for more displaced Afghans after troop withdrawal

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(Last Updated On: June 15, 2021)

The United Nations is preparing for a likely further displacement of civilians in Afghanistan after U.S. and international troops leave the country in September, U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi told Reuters on Monday.

Violence has been rising as foreign forces begin withdrawing and efforts to broker a peace settlement between the Afghan government and insurgent Taliban have slowed.

Grandi pointed to a deadly attack last week on an international demining organization in northern Afghanistan, which killed 10 people.

“This is a tragic indicator of the type of violence that may be resurfacing in Afghanistan and with the withdrawal of the international troops this is possibly or likely going to become worse,” Grandi said.

“Therefore we are doing contingency planning inside the country for further displacement, in the neighboring countries in case people might cross borders,” he said, without offering details of those plans.

There are currently some 2.5 million registered refugees from Afghanistan globally, while another 4.8 million have been displaced within the country, according to the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR, which Grandi heads.

After 20 years, the United States has started a withdrawal of its remaining 2,500 troops in Afghanistan and aims to be completely out of the country by Sept. 11. Around 7,000 non-U.S. forces from mainly NATO countries – along with Australia, New Zealand and Georgia – are also planning to leave by Sept. 11.

Grandi said strong international support was needed for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

“It’s political action that should substitute conflict but, of course, the risk (of further displacement) is there and we need to be prepared,” he added.

U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in late 2001 for refusing to hand over al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

“What’s needed is a high level of economic support for Afghanistan humanitarian assistance to maximize the chance the Afghan authorities have to stabilize the situation,” U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock told Reuters on Monday.

“There’s been very good and constructive outreach from the Biden administration, from the White House down, and we have actually had very productive discussions with them on that,” added Lowcock, who steps down from his role this month.

Earlier this month, the United States announced more than $266 million in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan, bringing to nearly $3.9 billion the total amount of such aid it has provided since 2002.

Some 18.4 million people, almost half the country’s population, need humanitarian help, according to the United, Nations, which has appealed for $1.3 billion in funding for 2021. So far it has only received about 23% of that.

Lowcock said that until a few years ago there had been a lot of international attention in Afghanistan. That has “dissipated and weakened and that is a sort of problem when it comes to drawing attention to the needs of Afghanistan and getting support for them.”

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