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Germany apologizes for colonial-era genocide in Namibia

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(Last Updated On: May 28, 2021)

Germany apologized on Friday for its role in the slaughter of Herero and Nama tribespeople in Namibia more than a century ago and officially described the massacre as genocide for the first time, as it agreed to fund projects worth over a billion euros.

Namibia’s President Hage Geingob welcomed the “historic” move, but Herero paramount chief Vekuii Rukoro dismissed a deal agreed by the two governments as “an insult” because it did not include payment of reparations.

Instead, Germany will fund 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) of reconstruction and development projects in Namibia, which German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said would directly benefit the genocide-affected communities.

“That’s a black cat in the bag instead of reparations for a crime against humanity,” Rukoro told Reuters.

“No self-respecting African will accept such an insult in this day and age from a so-called civilized European nation.”

German soldiers killed some 65,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama people in a 1904-1908 campaign after a revolt against land seizures by colonists in what historians and the United Nations have long called the first genocide of the 20th century.

While Germany has previously acknowledged “moral responsibility” for the killings, it had avoided making an official apology for the massacres to avoid compensation claims.

In a statement announcing an agreement with Namibia following more than five years of negotiations, Maas said the events of the colonial period should be named “without sparing or glossing over them”.

“We will now also officially call these events what they were from today’s perspective: a genocide,” he added.

“In light of Germany’s historical and moral responsibility, we will ask Namibia and the descendants of the victims for forgiveness.”

Namibian media reported on Thursday that the funds promised by Germany would support infrastructure, healthcare, and training programs over 30 years.

Namibia’s president Geingob welcomed the move as a “step in the right direction”, his spokesman told Reuters.

“The apology on the part of Germany and acceptance there was a genocide is in itself historic and speaks to the moral responsibility Germany has towards Namibia and the communities affected by the first genocide of the 20th century,” Alfredo Hengari told Reuters.

Germany, which lost all its colonial territories after World War One, was the third biggest colonial power after Britain and France. However, its colonial past was ignored for decades while historians and politicians focused more on the legacy of Nazi crimes, including the Holocaust.

Sima Luipert, 52, who identified herself as of Namibia’s Nama people, said Germany should not have directed its apology to the Namibian state, which did not exist at the time of the genocide and was given no mandate to speak to Germany on behalf of traditional authorities.

“Germany must come to the Nama people, and to the Herero people, and to ask for forgiveness,” she said. “It is up to us to decide if that apology is genuine or not.

“This is not about money, it is about the restoration of human dignity.”

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Afghanistan, Kazakhstan sign military cooperation agreement

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(Last Updated On: June 18, 2021)

A bilateral agreement on military cooperation between Afghanistan and Kazakhstan was signed on Friday, the Afghan National Security Council (NSC) said.

According to the NSC, Afghan National Security Advisor NSA Hamdullah Mohib and Kazakh Defense Minister Nurlan Yermekbayev signed the agreement during Mohib’s visit to the Kazakhstan’s capital Nur-Sultan.

The NSC stated that the pact was aimed at paving the way for military-to-military mutual support across various domains.

“The agreement enables joint exercises, military medicine cooperation, equipment modernization, logistical and technical support, battle training, and military intelligence collaboration between the two nations,” Mohib’s office said.

Rahmatullah Andar, spokesman for the NSC stated that “Joint military exercise bilateral meeting about defense policies, medical cooperation, renewing equipment, technical and logistical support, military training and intelligence military cooperation included in the agreement.”

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Another three districts fall to Taliban; gov’t forces retreated

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(Last Updated On: June 18, 2021)

The Taliban militants have captured another three districts in the last 24 hours, sources said.

According to the sources, Dahana-i-Ghori district in Baghlan province; Awba district in Herat; and Shirin Tagab district in Faryab province were captured by the Taliban, bringing the total fallen districts to 37 since May 1.

 In Herat, the Awba district fell to the Taliban early Friday morning following days of heavy clashes between the Afghan army and the militants.

Sources said that an army base was under siege by the Taliban for four days and the Afghan forces retreated from the district this morning.

 In Baghlan, the Afghan forces retreated from the Dahana-i-Ghori district on Thursday night.

Amanullah Sanjani, an army commander, was killed in the skirmish.

Meanwhile, the provincial council of Faryab stated that the Shirin Tagab district of the province was fallen to the Taliban following a heavy skirmish with the insurgents.

The Taliban released footage from the district that appears to show that dozens of Afghan forces have surrendered to the group. No credible source, however, confirmed the footage.

According to Ariana News findings, at least 195 members of the Afghan Security and Defense Forces (ANSDF) have been killed and 105 others wounded in Faryab, Kunduz, Takhar, Herat, Baghlan, and Sar-e-Pul provinces this week.

The Afghan Army stated that at least 256 Taliban militants were killed and 150 more wounded in air and ground operations across the country. 

This comes as the Taliban capturedthe Shinkai district of Zabul province without any clash fighting after mediation by tribal elders and local officials, sources said. 

The footage shows that militants are escorting the Afghan Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) out to the provincial capital Qatal city.

“Its Zabul DG, officials and ANDSF convoy that was escorted by Taliban security from Shinkai district till Qalat city. This deal was mediated by DG, tribal elders. The mediation was that Shinkai and ANDSF weapons are handover over to the Taliban. Big shame!” Haji AttaJan Haqbayan tweeted.

Haqbayan warned that the Zabul province would also collapse to the hands of the Taliban “if the situation goes this way.”

He also shared a video of an Afghan army officer, who was on duty in ANA Battalion of Shinkai district, who is saying that hundreds of weapons were seized by the Taliban,

“Provincial officials of Zabul must be investigated,” Haqbayan said.

Afghan Army, meanwhile, confirmed that the Taliban overrun district.

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Turkey commits to securing Kabul Airport after US withdrawal: US official

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(Last Updated On: June 18, 2021)

President Joe Biden and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan agreed in a meeting this week that Turkey would take a lead role in securing Kabul airport as the United States withdraws troops from Afghanistan, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Thursday.

Sullivan told reporters that Biden and Erdogan, in their meeting on Monday at the NATO summit, discussed the Afghanistan issue. Erdogan sought certain forms of U.S. support to secure the airport and Biden committed to providing that support, Sullivan said.

“The clear commitment from the leaders was established that Turkey would play a lead role in securing Hamid Karzai International Airport and we are now working through how to execute to get to that,” Sullivan said, giving the first details from the U.S. side of the meeting which the Turkish presidency has not provided details of.

Turkey and the United States have been at odds over a host of issues including Ankara’s purchase of Russian weaponry, policy differences in Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean and expectations for a breakthrough in first face-to-face meeting between Erdogan and Biden were slim.

The two leaders sounded upbeat after their meeting although they did not announce what concrete progress they made. One potential area of cooperation has been Afghanistan, where Ankara has offered to guard and operate Kabul airport after U.S. and NATO forces withdraw in coming weeks.

The security of the airport is crucial for the operation of diplomatic missions out of the Afghanistan as Western forces pull out.

Last week, a Taliban spokesman said Turkey should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan under the 2020 deal for the pullout of U.S. forces but Sullivan said the Taliban comments did not deter the “detailed and effective” security plan the United States was putting together.

“Obviously we take seriously the concern that Taliban or other elements in Afghanistan will attack the Western or the international presence…We do not believe that what Taliban has said publicly should or will deter the efforts underway right now to establish that security presence,” he said.

As president, Biden has adopted a cooler tone than predecessor Donald Trump towards Erdogan. Biden quickly recognized the 1915 massacre of Armenians as genocide – a position that angers Turkey – and stepped up criticism of Turkey’s human rights record.

But it was not clear if Biden raised the human rights issue with Erdogan during his meeting and Sullivan provided little details on how, if at all, the impasse over the S-400s, which prompted Washington to remove Ankara from the F-35 fighter jet program and impose sanctions, would be resolved.

“They discussed it. There was not a resolution of the issue. There was a commitment to continue the dialogue on the S-400 and the two teams will be following up on that coming out of the meeting,” he said.

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