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Miller warns of increase in Taliban pressure on provincial capitals

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(Last Updated On: May 17, 2021)

US Forces Commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller has said they are closely watching what the Taliban will do following the three-day Eid ceasefire that ended at midnight on Saturday but said he expects violence to increase.

In an interview with BBC, Miller said: “Ideally they would continue with the reduced violence because it is something that the Afghan people want.

“But the expectation is that they will pick up violence in the nearer term.”

He also said he expects the Taliban will increase pressure on different provincial capitals but stated it is now the time for the Afghan security forces to stand on their own.

However, coalition forces are still helping the Afghan security forces – even during their withdrawal.

“And even as we’re retrograding, we are certainly trying to put them (Afghan forces) in the best possible posture that we are able to.”

He said the Afghan forces have the capability to keep the Taliban at bay, adding that “they have to hold”.

He said there is an “emotional aspect” attached to withdrawing from Afghanistan but that the US military has to stay focused on the withdrawal process, which must be done “in accordance with our orders”.

“Our obligations are wanting to make sure our force is protected and that we are able to withdraw coalition forces as safely and as orderly as possible. And at the same time ensure that we leave our Afghan security partners in a position that they are able to pick this up and carry it on.”

He said this was “an obligation that we feel, not just (to) the security forces, but also to the people of Afghanistan.”

On the overall situation after 20 years in the country, and asked if the US had failed, Miller said in response: “I think as we take a look at this thing, history is going to write this story.

“The objectives that we set out I think they’ll be evaluated and I think we really need to take a really honest look at the things that we did not do as well as we wanted to.

“Certainly there were some victories along the way but I think history will judge this and the future will tell the rest of the story.

The US and NATO withdrawal, of a total of around 10,000 troops along with 20 years worth of military equipment, officially started on May 1 and is expected to finish by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

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Four polio vaccinators killed, four wounded in Nangarhar

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(Last Updated On: June 15, 2021)

Four polio vaccinators were killed and four others wounded in four separate attacks by unknown gunmen in Nangarhar province on Tuesday morning, confirmed local officials.

Officials said one vaccinator was killed and another wounded at 7:30am in Chamtala area of Khoqyani district on Tuesday.

According to the officials one other vaccinator was killed and one wounded at 8:30 am in another attack in PD3 of Jalalabad city on Tuesday.

One volunteer vaccinator was killed and one wounded in a third attack in Khoqyani district of the province.

In the fourth attack one volunteer vaccinator was killed and one wounded in Sra-Road district of the province.

Attaullah Khoqyani, spokesman for Nangarhar governor confirmed that vaccinators were attacked in several areas but he did not provide details.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.

This comes after at least three members of a polio vaccination team, all of them women, were shot dead by unknown gunmen in Nangarhar province in March, local officials said.

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NATO to provide provisional funding to help run Kabul airport

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

NATO has not yet decided on who would run the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once foreign troops have withdrawn, the organization’s secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said Monday night. 

Stoltenberg said however that Turkey would play a “key role” in running the airport and that NATO is committed to providing transitional funding for the key facility. 

This comes after Turkey offered to run and guard the airport after the withdrawal of troops. 

However, the Taliban issued a warning and said such a move would be a “mistake” and that any country doing so would be considered invaders. 

“The presence of foreign forces under whatever name or by whichever country in our homeland is unacceptable for the Afghan people and the Islamic Emirate (Taliban),” the group cautioned in a statement.

The Taliban insisted that the security of airports, foreign embassies, and diplomatic offices is the responsibility of Afghans, saying that “no one should hold out hope of keeping military or security presence” in Afghanistan.   

In a communique issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the NATO Summit, it was stated that NATO will retain a Senior Civilian Representative’s Office in Kabul to continue diplomatic engagement and enhance its partnership with Afghanistan.

“Recognising its importance to an enduring diplomatic and international presence, as well as to Afghanistan’s connectivity with the world, NATO will provide transitional funding to ensure the continued functioning of Hamid Karzai International Airport,” the communique read.  

“We will also step up dialogue on Afghanistan with relevant international and regional partners. We continue to support the ongoing Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process, and call on all stakeholders to help Afghanistan foster a lasting inclusive political settlement that puts an end to violence; safeguards the human rights of Afghans, particularly women, children, and minorities; upholds the rule of law; and ensures that Afghanistan never again serves as a safe haven for terrorists.”

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Khalilzad in Kazakhstan to discuss Afghanistan peace process

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in Nur-Sultan on Sunday to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan.

Kazakhstan media reports stated the two discussed prospects for the development of the Kazakh-US relations in the context of ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan especially once foreign troops have withdrawn.

Reports stated Khalilzad and Tokayev also discussed the coordination of bilateral and multilateral efforts for the stabilization and socio-economic reconstruction of Afghanistan.

Tokayev said: “This year we are marking the 30th anniversary of our Independence. During this period, we managed to build relations of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation.

“The United States is a strong partner of Kazakhstan. We are good partners in so many areas, including trade and economic cooperation,” he said.

Tokayev also said the Afghan issue was always a focal point in his talks with the leaders of Afghanistan, Russia, China, Central Asian states and international organizations.

Kazakh media reported that during the meeting, Khalilzad shared his assessment of the current situation in Afghanistan, and the vision of American diplomacy regarding the further development of the intra-Afghan peace process.

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