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Ghani adamant about handing over power to elected successor

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(Last Updated On: January 9, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani said on Saturday his basic goal is to be able to hand over power to an elected successor so as to honor all Afghans for the sacrifices they have made.

In an interview with CNN, Ghani said he hopes to do this “through the will of the people.”

“This is crucial to enable us to both honor the sacrifice of our civilians, our activists, and others.”

He also stated that if the goal of a sovereign, democratic, united Afghanistan is maintained then the current peace process will be able to move forward.

“But if the objective of the Taliban is to dominate and give us the peace of the grave, then that will have very negative consequences.

“Our society is united in seeking peace but we want to have a positive peace,” Ghani said.

Also in the interview was First Lady Rula Ghani who said the constructive participation of women at the Doha peace talks was a positive development.

She said the female peace negotiators for the Afghan Republic’s team were actively involved in the talks and had progressed from representing only women, to representing all of Afghanistan.

She said: “The Taliban are our brothers and our sisters and as Afghans, they have the right to come and live in Afghanistan,” adding that the question that needed to be asked was whether the Taliban had the right to bring their own way of thinking and impose it on the rest of the population.

She also said if the Taliban have political ambition “they can do it through the electoral process”.

The president meanwhile said: “We are in an open moment; the incoming [Joe] Biden administration is an immense opportunity – to work with us a) to define what the US security interests in Afghanistan and the region are – no one wants a return to a heavy footprint.”

He said the second point was that it was essential to end 40 years of conflict and thirdly, the peace process needs to be truly owned and led by the Afghan people.

Ghani also said the scale and scope of US presence in Afghanistan needs to be defined. “Here the most critical issue is how to marry a conditions-based approach with a time-based approach,” he said.

“My basic goal is to be able to hand power through the will of the people to my elected successor. This is crucial to enable us to both honor the sacrifice of our civilivilans, our activists, and others,” Ghani stated.

He also stated, “one thing needs to be clear Afghan society is not willing to go back and we are not the type of society that the Taliban type approach of the past can be imposed on us.”

“That was the peace of the graveyard, he said.

Ghani stated the country wants “a positive peace where all of us can overcome our past and embrace each other and rebuild an Afghanistan where all peace and countries can interact.”

On the issue of troops withdrawal, Ghani said: “We are on the frontline of your (US) security,” and stated the key issue is not about charity but about responsibility.

He asked the question of what is the threat of terrorism? Also is it a system or is it individuals?

He also said that since 2015, US lives lost in Afghanistan totals 98, “while we the Afghan people have lost over 40,000 civilians and military”.

But if “US would like to withdraw [troops], all we ask for is a process that is predictable,” and one that is mutually agreed upon, he stated.

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Twitter bans account linked to Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Twitter permanently banned an account believed to be linked to Iran’s supreme leader Friday after it posted a threatening image that included former President Donald Trump, NPR reported.

According to The Associated Press, the account, @khamenei_site, was linked to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s website and the same account had previously posted portions of Khamenei’s speeches and official content.

However, a Twitter spokesperson told the AP that the account was fake, without elaborating on how it determined that.

The image that resulted in the ban, Trump playing golf in the shadow of what appears to be an aircraft, is captioned “Revenge is certain,” written in Farsi.

The same image can be found on Khamenei’s English website. Below the picture is a quote from Khamenei from last month: “Soleimani’s murderers and those who ordered his murder must face revenge. … Both the murderers and those who ordered it should know that revenge may come at any time.”

Trump and other administration officials have said the US targeted Qassem Soleimani — a powerful Iranian general and a key strategist against the U.S. — who was killed in an airstrike last year.

Trump’s social media presence was all but silenced after he was accused of inciting violence at the US Capitol on January 6. As a result, both Twitter and Facebook moved to ban him permanently from their platforms.

“After close review of recent Tweets from the @realDonaldTrump account and the context around them — specifically how they are being received and interpreted on and off Twitter — we have permanently suspended the account due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” a Twitter statement said.

Trump was also banned from the @POTUS account for the last days of his term and from his reelection campaign account.

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Ghani fires finance minister, appoints caretaker to the position

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday dismissed finance minister Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal from his post and approved a new acting minister, said the Administrative Office of the President (AOP) in a statement.

The AOP cited a number of reasons for this move including the delay in the collection of taxes, weak management, lack of commitment to good governance, not obeying Article 77 of the Constitution, violating Presidential decrees and directions, the lack of cooperation in an assessment of illegal appointments at the ministry and for trying to prevent the assessments, the statement read.

The AOP added that Ghani approved Mohammad Khalid Payenda as acting finance minister.

Arghandiwal was a close ally of Ghani during his election campaigns and was appointed as acting minister of finance in March last year. 

He received a vote of confidence from the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) in November last year.

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Biden to keep Khalilzad as peace envoy for now

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(Last Updated On: January 23, 2021)

Former president Donald Trump’s peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad will retain his position, for now, three sources familiar with the matter told CNN. 

This move is not typical as traditionally an incoming administration replaces all politically appointed officials – especially those dealing with foreign policy issues. 

Khalilzad, a diplomatic veteran, has worked on the peace process for more than two years and has been the key official from Washington to meet with both the Afghan government and the Taliban as well as all other stakeholders and regional leaders. 

No further details were released and according to CNN the State Department did not comment when asked about Khalilzad staying on board. 

However, in a statement issued late Friday, the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told his Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib that the United States intends to review the February 2020 US-Taliban agreement.”

He also said Washington would assess whether the Taliban was living up to its commitments to cut ties with terrorist groups, to reduce violence in Afghanistan and to engage in meaningful negotiations with the Afghan government and other stakeholders.

Sullivan also expressed America’s desire that all Afghan leaders embrace this “historic opportunity for peace and stability.”

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