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Ghani meets with US army chief, discusses increase in violence

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(Last Updated On: December 17, 2020)
President Ashraf Ghani met with General Mark Milley, the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff yesterday evening in Kabul, the president’s office (ARG) confirmed. 
 
According to a series of tweets, ARG stated that both sides expressed their concerns over the escalation of violence in Afghanistan and discussed the Afghan peace process and the immediate need for a ceasefire in the country.
 
Milley assured Ghani that the United States will continue to support the Afghan Defense and Security forces.
 
The meeting comes amid a sharp increase in violence in the country, particularly involving targeted assassinations. 
 
A string of magnetic IED explosions, on vehicles belonging to government officials and journalists mainly, as well as shooting incidents, have rocked the country in the past few months. 
 
Such attacks take place on a daily basis across the country, with a high number of incidents in Kabul. Just this week, Kabul’s deputy governor was killed in a magnetic IED explosion while on his way to work.
 
Ghani and Milley’s meeting meanwhile comes just two weeks after Milley stated that the US was in the process of pulling at least 2,000 troops out of the country and that only 2,500 would remain by January 15. 
 
Speaking to Brookings Institution at the time, Milley said: “We’re in the process of executing [the drawdown] right now. That’s happening as we speak.” 
 
He said that the US had achieved only a “modicum of success” after nearly 20 years of working to establish a stable democracy in Afghanistan. 

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Russia mulling excluding IEA from list of extremist groups: Putin

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2021)

Russia is moving towards excluding the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) from its list of extremist organisations, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday, a day after high-level talks between Moscow and Afghanistan’s new rulers.

Russia labelled the IEA a “terrorist organisation” in 2003 but welcomed the IEA for talks in Moscow several times before it seized power in Afghanistan in August.

Earlier this week, Russia called for the mobilisation of international aid to support Afghanistan, as Moscow hosted the IEA for an international conference.

“We all expect Taliban (IEA), those people who undoubtedly control the situation in the country, in Afghanistan, we expect the situation to develop positively. Depending on that we will jointly take the decision on excluding them (IEA) from the list of terrorist organisations. It seems to me that we are getting close to it. Russia’s position will be to move in that direction.”

Putin also raised the question as to how the IEA will generate funds if assets remain frozen and Afghanistan is isolated economically. He implied that unless the new government is recognized internationally, money could be generated through the continued production of opium and heroin.

“The important problem is the drugs. 90 percent of opiates on the global market are coming from Afghanistan, as is well known. If they (IEA) won’t have money how will they fund the social issues?”

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Afghanistan one of 11 “highly vulnerable” countries regarding climate change

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2021)

Afghanistan, India and Pakistan were among 11 countries singled out by U.S. intelligence agencies on Thursday as being “highly vulnerable” in terms of their ability to prepare for and respond to environmental and societal crises caused by climate change.

In a new National Intelligence Estimate, the Office of Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) predicts that global warming will increase geopolitical tensions and risks to U.S. national security in the period up to 2040.

Such estimates are broad U.S. intelligence community assessments. Thursday’s report identifies as particular “countries of concern” Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Iraq, North Korea, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua and Colombia. ODNI posted a declassified version online.

Heat, drought, water availability and ineffective government make Afghanistan specifically worrying. Water disputes are also a key geopolitical flashpoint in India and the rest of South Asia, Reuters reported.

The report identifies two additional regions of concern to U.S. intelligence agencies. Climate change is “likely to increase the risk of instability in countries in Central Africa and small island states in the Pacific, which clustered together form two of the most vulnerable areas in the world.”

The report notes disparities around global approaches to tackling climate change, saying countries that rely on fossil fuel exports to support their economies “will continue to resist a quick transition to a zero-carbon world because they fear the economic, political, and geopolitical costs of doing so.”

The report also notes the likelihood of increasing strategic competition over the Arctic. It says that Arctic and non-Arctic states “almost certainly will increase their competitive activities as the region becomes more accessible because of warming temperatures and reduced ice.”

It predicts international competition in the Arctic “will be largely economic but the risk of miscalculation will increase modestly by 2040 as commercial and military activity grows and opportunities are more contested.”

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Putin says Afghanistan’s financial assets should be unfrozen

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(Last Updated On: October 22, 2021)

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Afghanistan should receive economic support and get its financial assets unfrozen as its stability was in the interest of all its neighbours, Reuters reported.

Washington meanwhile said earlier this week it has no plans to release billions in Afghan gold, investments and foreign currency reserves parked in the United States that it froze after the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) seized power in August, despite pressure from humanitarian groups and others who say the cost may be the collapse of Afghanistan’s economy.

Afghanistan’s new IEA rulers won backing from 10 regional powers at talks in Moscow on Wednesday for the idea of a United Nations donor conference to help the country stave off economic collapse and a humanitarian catastrophe.

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