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Interior Minister warns against hasty withdrawal of foreign troops

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(Last Updated On: March 13, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi warned on Saturday against a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan of foreign troops, saying that the Taliban’s ties to al-Qaeda remain intact and that a swift pullout would worsen global counterterrorism efforts.

In an interview with The Associated Press Andarabi said that Afghan National Security Forces backed by U.S. assistance have so far put a squeeze on terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, including Daesh. 

Andarabi’s warning comes just seven weeks before the May 1 foreign troops withdrawal deadline as per the US-Taliban agreement signed in February last year. 

No decision has yet been made by Washington, which is reviewing the deal signed by the former Trump administration, 

According to AP, Andarabi challenged U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s prediction last weekend that the withdrawal of U.S. troops would yield territorial gains to the Taliban, saying that Afghan troops could hold territory, but still needed aid and air support to maintain remote checkpoints.

“The Afghan security forces are fully capable of defending the capital and the cities and the territories that we are present in right now,” he said. 

“We think that the Afghan security forces this year have proven to the Taliban that they will not be able to gain territory.”

Since the U.S. signed the deal with the Taliban violence and targeted killings, often unclaimed, have spiked. 

AP reported that Andarabi sympathized with Kabul residents’ complaints about rampant crime, but said nearly 70 percent of Afghanistan’s police force is battling the Taliban, eroding efforts to maintain law and order. Every day the police confront over 100 Taliban attacks throughout the country, he added.

Andarabi said some progress had been made to stem the violence in the past month, with over 400 arrests.

But he underlined that Afghanistan still very much needs continued support from the international community, including the United States and NATO, in both war and peacetime, AP reported.

He said it will take great effort to reintegrate into a peacetime society the tens of thousands of armed men roving the country — regardless of which faction they are from, he said. 

He also pointed out that police face a daunting anti-narcotics battle in a country that produces more than 4,000 tons of opium – the raw material used to make heroin – more than every other opium-producing country combined. 

Peace, said Andarabi, would free the police to fight the drug war that is also fueling Afghanistan’s soaring crime rate.

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Kazakhs told to leave streets to avoid ‘anti-terrorist actions’

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(Last Updated On: January 8, 2022)

A statement broadcast on Kazakh TV on Friday told Almaty residents to stay inside during the security operation in the city.

Video obtained by Reuters showed the broadcast statement, which said: “Respectable Inhabitants of Almaty! A counter-terrorist operation to destroy bandit groups is going on in Almaty. The main goal is to stop terrorists and safeguard the security of the city. If anti-terrorist activity takes place where you live, it is recommended you do not go near by windows or get out in the street. Hide in a safe place, do not leave children or the elderly without supervision.”

Almaty, Kazakhstan’s main city, has seen days of violence, with demonstrations that began as a response to a fuel price hike swelling into a broad movement against the government and ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev, 81, the longest-serving ruler of any former Soviet state.

Security forces appeared to have reclaimed the streets of Kazakhstan’s main city on Friday after days of violence, and the Russian-backed president said he had ordered his troops to shoot to kill to put down a countrywide uprising.

A day after Moscow sent paratroopers to help crush the insurrection, police were patrolling the debris-strewn streets of Almaty, although some gunfire could still be heard, Reuters reported.

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said foreign-trained terrorists were responsible for the unrest, and the interior ministry said 26 “armed criminals” had been “liquidated”, while 18 police and members of the national guard had been killed, figures that appeared not to have been updated since Thursday. State television reported more than 3,700 arrests.

 

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Japan pledges $109 million to Afghanistan and its neighbors to ‘address crisis’

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(Last Updated On: December 21, 2021)

The Japanese government has pledged to donate a total of approximately $109 million to Afghanistan and its neighboring countries “to address the humanitarian crisis” in the country.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said that Japan will provide assistance to directly address humanitarian needs in Afghanistan and its neighboring countries including Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

“The Government of Japan will provide assistance to directly address humanitarian needs in areas such as healthcare, food, and nutrition, protection, water, and sanitation, as well as livelihood improvement to Afghanistan and its neighboring countries,” the statement read.

According to the statement the assistance would be provided through 16 international organizations to improve the humanitarian crisis.

“The Government of Japan will continue to provide support and stand with the people of Afghanistan, and play an active role to realize stability in the region,” the statement added.

According to the statement, $100 million will be allocated for Afghanistan; $4.01 million to Iran; $3.72 million to Pakistan; $0.99 million to Tajikistan; and $0.43 million to Uzbekistan.

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COVID-19

Unvaccinated COVID patients flood French ICUs as cases surge

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(Last Updated On: December 18, 2021)

Pressure on French hospitals has been steadily mounting over the past few weeks as France battles a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections, which has been filling up ICUs with unvaccinated patients.

Of the 20 COVID patients of the Mulhouse hospital ICU, only three are vaccinated while the youngest is aged 19 years old, head of the Emile Muller hospital ICU, doctor Khaldoun Kuteifan, told Reuters on Thursday.

“The Mulhouse hospital ICU is currently at full capacity as patients have been coming in for the past 20 days. Seventy percent of the ICU patients are positive COVID cases.”

France had recorded 60,866 new cases over the past 24 hours on Thursday night, while 78.1% of French people have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, according to the French Health Ministry website.

“The waves keep coming and hitting us, and the more it goes on, the more tired we get,” nurse Aurelie Multhaupt told Reuters.

French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on Wednesday that the government expects to see around 4,000 patients in intensive care with COVID-19 by the Christmas holidays, Reuters reported.

Attal said new decisions on the reinforcement of border rules, the acceleration of the vaccination campaign and travel recommendations for the holidays could be announced in the coming days.

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