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Miller confirms withdrawal process in Afghanistan is underway

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(Last Updated On: April 25, 2021)

US-Forces commander in Afghanistan General Austin Scott Miller said Sunday the evacuation of some bases has already started in Afghanistan.

“We will turn over the bases primarily to the Ministry of Defense and other Afghan forces,” Miller told reporters in a press conference in Kabul on Sunday, adding that: “The notification day will be the first of May but at the same time as we start taking local actions, we have already begun that”.

The US is expected to hand over three military bases and one airport to the Afghan forces in the next two weeks as part of the US plan for the full troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, sources said last week.

According to a security source, the bases concerned are the Kandahar airport, Camp Shorabak (formerly Camp Bastion) in Helmand, Camp Eggers in Kabul, and the COP (Dash Towp) in Chak district of Maidan Wardak.

Miller meanwhile said that if Afghanistan reached a peace agreement, we would still to leave Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, CIA Director William Burns reportedly made a surprise visit to Kabul this week to discuss the withdrawal process with Afghan officials.

The Associated Press reported Saturday that two credible sources had confirmed the visit. In Washington, the CIA declined to comment when asked by AP about the director’s schedule and the agency’s role in Afghanistan.

On Taliban relation with Al-Qaeda Miller said that: “Taliban still have link to al-Qaeda.”

He also expressed concern about the escalation of violence by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

“Violence from the Taliban is still high and this is having a negative impacts on the peace process, and if the violence escalates after the withdrawal, it will be dangerous for the whole region,” Miller said.

Miller says the only reasonable way forward is a political path to peace, otherwise “the violence is senseless,” he says.

The Taliban have intensified clashes across the country as the foreign troops are getting ready to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The Defense Ministry, however, claimed that the group has been defeated on the battlefield.

Miller says he has “a set of orders” and “very clear objectives.” “First and foremost, it’s my objective to ensure that the Afghan security forces are in the best possible security posture,” he says.
 
He also said that they would support the Afghan forces remotely if needed.

“We have the capacity to support Afghan forces remotely,” Miller said.

His comments comes after the head of U.S. forces in the Middle East said on Thursday that he was concerned about the ability of the Afghan security forces to hold territory after the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the country in the coming months.

President Joe Biden announced last week that the United States will withdraw its remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks that triggered America’s longest war.

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Kabul’s air pollution a serious ‘threat to life’, say doctors

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Doctors warned Sunday that the air pollution level in Kabul is dangerously high and that it was threatening the lives of many people.

One doctor Mohammad Hashim Wahaj, who spoke to Ariana News, said: “Air pollution is a serious and dangerous problem in Kabul.”

Doctors and resident’s called on government to take measures to stop people from burning fuels such as plastic and rubber and get them to rather use gas or electricity.

“People burn coal and other materials that produce smoke. That should be stopped,” said Mohammad Rasoul, a Kabul resident.

“People should use gas and electricity if they can afford it and avoid burning plastic and coal,” said Sohrab, another Kabul resident.

Kabul Municipality meanwhile said efforts are being made to reduce the air pollution level and that they have closed down a number of bathhouses, that burn fuel to heat the water.

Naimatullah Barakzai, the municipality’s head of public awareness and publications department, said that among the central heating systems used in the city are two that run on gas.

According to him there are at least 1,100 other types but these run on coal and wood.

Barakzai said while the municipality would like more people to use gas furnaces and heaters, most of them are not able to afford it.

He said if the people had the money they would rather use “modern equipment”.

Kabul’s air pollution levels increase dramatical each winter as people make fires to keep warm. But, poverty-stricken residents often resort to burning toxic materials such as plastic, car tyres and coal to heat their homes.

In addition to this, the city lies in a valley surrounded by towering Hindu Kush mountain peaks, which reduces the mixing of air, particularly in winter when temperature inversions regularly form and with little rain to remove the pollution from the atmosphere, this accumulates during winter.

Afghanistan documented nearly 5,000 deaths attributed to air pollution in 2020 – deaths due to respiratory and heart diseases that were considered to be caused by air pollution, a health official said in January.

Kabul meanwhile was also considered the world’s worst polluted city last year and is on track to remain among the most polluted cities in 2021.

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Qatar in talks with Turkey on managing Kabul Airport

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

Qatar’s foreign minister said that discussions are being held with Turkey about them taking responsibility for the operational control of Kabul International Airport.

Addressing the Mediterranean Dialogues (MED) forum in Rome on Saturday, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that all issues around fully reopening Kabul airport are being discussed with Turkish officials.

This comes after airlines stopped flying into Kabul at the end of August. However, limited commercial flights resumed in recent weeks, including Afghanistan’s Kam Air and Ariana Airlines, as well as Pakistan’s PIA. Qatar Airways has also had regular chartered flights into Kabul.

Al-Thani meanwhile said Doha officials have been hard at work to get the Kabul airport fully operational.

“We have been working together very closely on the issue of the airport, whether on the assessment of requirements to get the airport operational again, or on the management agreement with the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) government to operate the airport in the future.”

Afghanistan Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA) said that in the event of a contract being drawn up with a foreign country, national interests will be preserved.

“No contract for Kabul International Airport has been signed so far. We have made our conditions clear for companies based on our national interests. If company’s respect our national interests, we will sign contracts with them,” said Amamudin Ahmadi, a spokesman for the ACAA.

 

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Passport offices to open in another 14 provinces: IEA

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(Last Updated On: December 5, 2021)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Sunday that government will begin the application and distribution process of passports in 14 additional provinces this week.

According to the IEA, the distribution process will start in Farah, Nimruz, Badghis, Paktika, Samangan, Laghman, Uruzgan, Kunar, Takhar, Zabul, Jawzjan, Bamiyan, Panjsher, and Baghlan provinces on Monday.

Alam Gul Haqqani, Head of the Passport Department, stated the department is providing fair services to all Afghans, and urged the public not to pay passport forgers money.

Haqqani added that the distribution of passports in Kabul would be resumed as soon as technical issues have been resolved.

“We have purchased new machines. As I have said before, some of these [machines] arrived, and the rest will be delivered [in the future]. Inshallah, we will resume our work as soon as we receive our machines,” Haqqani said.

The process of issuing passports also started in Balkh, Herat, Kandahar, Kunduz, Nangarhar, Khost and Paktia provinces three weeks ago.

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