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IS Takes Control of ‘Tora Bora’, Once Bin Laden’s Hideout

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2017)

The Islamic State (IS)-Daesh group takes the control of Tora Bora, the strategic mountainous area of Nangarhar province that was once Osama Bin Laden’s hideout and changes it to the center of organizing its activities, a number of Afghan Parliament Members claimed on Wednesday.

Tora Bora known locally as White Mountain is a cave complex, part of the White Mountains of eastern Afghanistan which is situated in the Pachir Aw Agam District of Nangarhar.

It was reported that in 2007, U.S. intelligence suspected Osama bin Laden planned to meet with top Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders at Tora Bora prior to the launch of a possible attack on Europe or the United States of America.

Afghan lawmakers voiced deep concern over increase of IS recruiting and activities in Nangarhar, calling on government to take serious measures regarding this issue.

“Daesh changed Tora Bora to the center of its activities to influence to other parts of the provinces,” said Allah Gul Mujahed, Parliament Member.

Representative of Kandahar, Zahir Qadir said, “there are thousands of IS fighters in Ehsarat, Khogyani and Azrah districts who are recruiting there.”

Representative of Maidan Wardak, Ghulam Hussain Naseri also said, “The expansion of Daesh activities in eastern provinces of the country is very dangerous and will have negative impacts on the central government.”

The chairman of the Lower House, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi also considered the concerns people over activities of Daesh understandable. “The security and defensive committee should visit the province and bring the evidences and documents that we share them with people.”

The concerns express as the US has recently dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb it has ever used in combat in Achin district of Nangarhar province on a series of caves used by the Islamic State group.

By: Muhammad ZackArya

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Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan to expand trade ties

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2020)

Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan have agreed to form a joint committee to expand trade and transportation relations. 

The leaders of the three countries in an online meeting discussed the formation of a joint committee that could work on regional connectivity, railway development, fiber optics, and transportation.

In a tripartite meeting between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, the three leaders discussed trade cooperation. They agreed on the proposal of the President of Azerbaijan to form a joint delegation, which includes ministers of transport and other officials from the three countries.

Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani welcomed the proposal of the President of Azerbaijan to form a joint delegation of the three countries

At the meeting, the President of Turkmenistan supported the plan of the port of Aqina and Turgundi to better transmit commercial goods.

“So the first thing is to welcome President Aliyev’s suggestion backed by President Berdimuhamedow that we form a joint task force at the level of heads of transports and other relevant ministries from the three ministries,” said Afghan Pres. Ghani.

During the meeting, Mr. Ghani also announced the development of a railway in Afghanistan, saying that the country needs 4,000 to 6,000 kilometers of railways for economic development and that international partners have expressed readiness to cooperate in this area.

Turkmenistan has expanded the railway network to the ports of Aqina and Torghundi for trade with Afghanistan, which the Afghan government wants to become standard ports.

Ashraf Ghani added: “We are creating dry ports to eight locations in Afghanistan… the finance development cooperation of the United States is now willing and ready to work with us to offer guarantees.”

 In the past, Afghans relied heavily on the Pakistani port of Karachi for trade with the world. With the opening of Iran’s Chabahar port and the opening of new transit routes through Central Asian countries, Afghanistan has been able to reduce its reliance on the port of Karachi in recent years

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Delay in intra-Afghan talks provides opportunities for spoilers: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2020)

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan, stressed that delay in the start of intra-Afghan talks could “provides opportunities for spoilers.”

Apparently, the conditions have not yet been set for the start of the Afghan talks. As Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan has expressed concern about the delay.

Khalilzad, in a video call with President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High National Reconciliation Council, emphasized that remaining issues surrounding the start of intra-Afghan negotiations should be resolved as soon as possible.

“On peace, we emphasized the immediate step is to rapidly resolve the remaining issues surrounding the start of intra-Afghan negotiations. Delay provides opportunities for spoilers,” Khalilzad tweeted.

“People can no longer tolerate insecurity and killings. Taliban and government leaders need to think about peace,” said Wali Safi, another Kabul resident.

One of the differences in starting negotiations between the Afghans is the Afghan government’s opposition to the release of a number of Taliban prisoners, as well as an increase in Taliban attacks.

“As soon as possible, the prisoners should be released and negotiations between the Afghans should begin,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Meanwhile, at the same time as reports of the withdrawal of half of the US troops from Afghanistan, the Defense Committee of the US House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would condition the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

Some former US officials have said that Donald Trump will keep 4,000 troops in Afghanistan until the end of the US election.

US Senator Rand Paul said, “You know I think we have been at war too long and too many places. The Afghan war is now 19 years old… the war has gone on too long, and I don’t think we have a military mission.”

Intra-Afghan talks are expected to take place in Doha this month. But before that, about 20 countries are scheduled to meet to discuss peace in Afghanistan.

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Top US intel officials brief Congress on alleged Russia bounties on US forces in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 3, 2020)

Top US intelligence officials briefed on Thursday briefed US Congress on alleged Russia offered awards to the Taliban militants for attacks on American and coalition forces in Afghanistan. 

CIA Director Gina Haspel and National Security Agency Director Paul Nakasone met with members of the key US Congress members to tell them directly about the report. 

The House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a number of other Republicans were briefed behind the closed doors.

Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives urged the government to impose sanctions against Russia, while others do not believe in the Trump administration’s tough stance on Russia.

“We expect the President of the United States to give them that same force protection, that same priority, and we are disappointed that has not happened. Whatever else happens of this, we must restore those sanctions, and we must act upon them,” said Pelosi.

Earlier, the Taliban and Russia denied the report, but a Russian foreign ministry spokesman said it had only helped the legitimate government of Afghanistan.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said: “Russia supplied arms only to the legitimate government of Afghanistan, which is a well-known fact. If our US colleagues want to have a conversation in this context, it would be appropriate to recall the information circulating in Afghanistan regarding the US special services’ support for ISIS with the use of helicopters, which we covered extensively at our briefings one to two years ago, and shielding them from Taliban attacks.”

US officials have not yet commented on Russia’s allegations.

But US forces in Afghanistan and Afghan officials have previously denied the allegations, saying they are committed to suppressing ISIS and that the group has been repressed in many parts of Afghanistan and will continue to fight them.

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