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Taliban must lower their violence: Miller

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(Last Updated On: October 2, 2020)

Resolute Support Commander General Scott Miller said that the level of violence in Afghanistan is too high, urging the Taliban “to lower their violence.”  

Afghan Security officials and Resolute Support Commander General Scott Miller and visited this week visited Balkh province to review the security situation of northern Afghanistan.

“This an important trip…we did talk about the violence. We are trying to understand, make sure we understand the violence, and really this is about the Afghan security forces protecting the Afghan people,” Miller noted.

He said, “We all acknowledge the violence is too high and the Taliban must lower their violence.”

Despite the international calls for a ceasefire, the Taliban have increased attacks against the Afghan forces across the country since the start of the intra-Afghan talks.

The talks, aimed to find a political settlement for ending the long-term war in the country, have been stalled as reports indicate that there are two disputed points between the teams. 

According to the reports, there was a dispute over the religious jurisprudence and recognition of the US-Taliban agreement signed in February, which is what led to the current talks and on which the negotiations are based – an agreement that the Afghan government was not a party to. 

This comes as this week, the European Parliament condemned the high levels of violence in Afghanistan over the past few weeks and called on all stakeholders to call an immediate ceasefire. 

In a statement issued by the parliament, members said: “We welcome the launch of the direct peace negotiations between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban. A comprehensive peace process is a precondition to ending four decades of death and destruction and to bringing stability, security, and peace to Afghanistan. 

“We, therefore, condemn the eruption of violence during the last weeks and call upon all stakeholders in Afghanistan to put in place an immediate and permanent ceasefire. The responsible for the recent terrorist attacks and the continuous violence need to be held accountable,” their statement read. 

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Passenger flights between Iran and Afghanistan resume

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Iran has resumed regular commercial flights to neighboring Afghanistan following a month-long hiatus, Iran’s state run al-Alam TV channel reported.

An Iranian Mahan Air aircraft landed in Kabul on Wednesday with 19 passengers onboard after departing from the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad.

“At present, this airliner is returning to Mashhad with passengers,” the semi official Fars news agency later reported.

Regular passenger services between the two countries stopped after the Islamic Emirate gained power in Afghanistan a month ago.

Previously, Mahan Air – the second-largest Iranian airline – had operated two flights per week between Mashhad and Kabul.

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Army chief warns against ‘defending American democracy’

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(Last Updated On: September 16, 2021)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Chief of Army Staff Qari Fasihudin Fitrat said Wednesday a strong and orderly army would soon be established to independently defend Afghan territory.

Fitrat also stated that the Islamic Emirate would suppress anyone who tried to defend gains made in the past 20 years and American democracy.

He warned that “such people are violating public order and leading the country towards a civil war.”

“We will not allow anyone to disrupt the security of the people in the name of ethnicity, fear and defending the achievements of the last 20 years and American democracy,” Fitrat stated.

Afghanistan had around 300,000 active military personnel in its security forces that disintegrated on August 15 as the former government collapsed.

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Ghani’s escape derailed latest Taliban deal: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: September 15, 2021)

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s decision to flee the country last month shattered a last-minute deal with the Islamic Emirate that was designed to negotiate a political transition.

In an interview with the Financial Times, his first since the US pulled out of Afghanistan, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said according to the plan, Ghani would have remained in his post until an agreement was reached on a future government – even as the Islamic Emirate’s forces were at the gates of Kabul.

However, Khalilzad said the power vacuum left by Ghani’s unexpected escape on August 15 led to the fall of his government and the takeover by the Islamic Emirate.

He said this, in turn, sparked a chaotic evacuation of civilians and troops and effectively ended the talks in Doha.

“Even in the end, we had an agreement with the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) to [them] not go into Kabul,” Khalilzad told the Financial Times adding that at no time did this include Ghani fleeing the country.

Khalilzad’s comments echo those made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who told US lawmakers this week that he had received assurances from Ghani on the eve of his escape that he agreed with Washington’s plan.

Kabul’s security forces disbanded at the news of Ghani’s disappearance, Khalilzad said.

“There were public order issues in Kabul after Ghani’s flight. . . The Taliban (Islamic Emirate) [then]. . . say, ‘Are you going to take responsibility for the security of Kabul now? . . . And then you know what happened, we were not going to take responsibility,” he said, adding that he attended a pre-arranged meeting that day with the US regional military commander, General Frank McKenzie, and senior Islamic Emirate leaders in Doha.

Khalilzad rejected claims of a tacit or explicit agreement that allowed the Islamic Emirate to enter the presidential palace in Kabul on August 15.

“We didn’t give them any kind of green light or anything like that. What we said is what the mission of the US forces was,” he told the Financial Times, referring to the evacuation of the airport.

Khalilzad first discussed the agreement with the Kabul government on August 12 and reached an agreement with the Islamic Emirate two days later to safeguard the integrity of the city, Financial Times reported, citing US officials.

However, Ghani was unlikely to have been part of any future government because his resignation was a precondition set by the Islamic Emirate, FT reported.

On August 13, Islamic Emirate forces were surrounding Kabul after taking control of most of the country.

According to Ghani, he fled the country as his life was in danger and to “avoid bloodshed” in Kabul.

Responding to criticism of Washington’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Khalilzad said: “The fact that they didn’t [negotiate peace] or one side disintegrated, that is not the responsibility of the United States. It is not my responsibility.”

Khalilzad said, however, that he regretted the failure to reach a political agreement with the Islamic Emirate years earlier.

“There will be a lot of introspection,” he said.

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