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Pentagon Releases Report on Enhancing Security, Stability in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 4, 2018)

The U.S. Defense Department on Tuesday provided to the Congress its semiannual report titled “Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan.”

The report covers events during the period from December 1, 2016, through May 31, 2017.

“Our purpose in Afghanistan remains to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe-haven from which terrorist groups can plan and execute attacks on the United States, or our allies and citizens abroad,” officials said in a statement announcing the report’s submission.

 “To accomplish this, we continue to support Afghanistan and train, advise and assist its military and police forces.”

This reporting period marks the first campaign season to begin under the conditions-based South Asia Strategy announced by President Donald Trump in August.

In February, U.S. Central Command designated Afghanistan as its main-effort mission and allocated additional combat enablers such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets; attack aviation; fire support; and medical evacuation assets to support Afghan national defense and security forces and coalition forces, officials said. 

Optimism for Political Settlement

“The assets and authorities to implement the South Asia Strategy in Afghanistan are now in place and continue to generate optimism within the Afghan government and [the Afghan defense and security forces] that a political settlement with the Taliban is possible,” the Pentagon statement said.

“The key to success remains sustained military pressure against the Taliban in order to eliminate the idea that they can achieve their objectives through violent conflict. The targeted investment of U.S. assets and personnel have increased the lethality of the [Afghan forces] this fighting season.

At the second Kabul Peace Conference in February, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani offered peace negotiations without preconditions to the Taliban, an unprecedented initiative that opened the door for meaningful negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

During this reporting period, Afghan forces remained in control of all provincial capitals and quickly defeated the Taliban’s attempt to take control of the provincial capital of Farah in May, the Pentagon statement said. The mild winter allowed for sustained military pressure against insurgent and terrorist forces and built positive momentum heading into the 2018 fighting season.

Combined Afghan Special Security Force and conventional force operations demonstrate increasing Afghan tactical and operational ability on the battlefield, officials said.

Afghanistan reaction

Following the Pentagon report, some Afghan MPs and analysts say the U.S. strategy for Afghanistan might be successful for the U.S. but not for the Afghan people who have sacrificed a lot in the ongoing war in their country.

“A strategy should be planned to ensure lasting peace in Afghanistan,” said Zalmai Wardag, a political analyst.

“The government is losing territory every day. The U.S. strategy has not been significant so far as expected to be,” said MP Munawar Shah Bahadori.

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Muttaqi calls on international community to recognize IEA government

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

Afghanistan’s Foreign acting Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi accused the international community on Friday (October 15) of “violating the rights of Afghan people” by not recognizing the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government.

Speaking to Reuters on the second day of a two-day visit to Turkey’s capital of Ankara, Muttaqi said he discussed the recognition of the IEA’s government with Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu as well.

“The fact that all of them are recognized and the new Islamic government of Afghanistan is not recognized is an injustice and oppression of the Afghan people… Afghanistan wants positive relations with the world and the world must respond positively to this message,” he said.

Almost two months after the former Western-backed government collapsed and IEA forces swept into Kabul, the IEA administration has pushed to build relations with other countries to help stave off a catastrophic economic crisis.

But the IEA has so far refused to give ground on allowing girls to return to high school, one of the key demands of the international community after a decision last month that schools above the sixth grade would only reopen for boys.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday he had conveyed Turkey’s recommendations regarding the inclusion of women in the workforce and education of girls.
Meanwhile, Cavusoglu reiterated the importance of government inclusiveness for Afghanistan’s unity.

“We once again explained the importance of including people from all ethnic and religious groups, besides the Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan), in the administration. Especially in these difficult times, this is important in terms of establishing unity and solidarity within the country,” Cavusoglu said.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Kabul after Western countries withdrew following the fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government and have urged those countries to increase engagement.

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Blast targets mosque in Kandahar

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

A large explosion ripped through a mosque in the southern Kandahar province on Friday afternoon.

The blast happened at the Shi’ite Fatimiya mosque during Friday prayers, causing heavy casualties.

Sources said at least 34 people were killed and 69 others wounded in the explosion. Afghan officials have not confirmed the casualties so far.

Qari Saeed Khosti, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, has told Reuters that authorities were collecting details of the explosion.

The blast took place days after a suicide bomb attack claimed by Islamic State on a Shi’ite mosque in the northern city of Kunduz that killed and wounded more than 200 people.

So far, no group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The blast, coming so soon after the Kunduz attack underlined the increasingly uncertain security in Afghanistan as the Islamic State has stepped up operations following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan victory over the Western-backed government in Kabul in August.

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Turkey underlines need for inclusive Afghan government

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(Last Updated On: October 15, 2021)

In talks with the delegation of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Turkey on Thursday reiterated the importance of government inclusiveness for Afghanistan’s unity, Reuters reported.

Turkey repeated its advice to the visiting IEA delegation on girls’ education and women’s employment in business life, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a news conference following a meeting with Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in Ankara.

Muttaqi led an IEA delegation for an official visit to Turkey to discuss bilateral issues as well as cooperation on the future of Afghanistan.

The IEA officials have pledged to provide the utmost support to Afghan refugees who want to return to the country from Turkey, added Cavusoglu.

He also underlined that the IEA delegation conveyed requests to Turkey during the meeting, especially on humanitarian aid and continued investment in Afghanistan.

Last month, Cavusoglu said Turkey has contributed to stabilization and development efforts in Afghanistan, including on the education of girls and empowerment of women since the 1920s, adding that Ankara continues providing humanitarian aid through the Turkish Red Crescent.

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