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Trump calls Afghanistan collapse ‘most humiliating’ moment for US

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(Last Updated On: August 18, 2021)

Former President Donald Trump described the recent events in Afghanistan as the worst humiliation in American history but defended the agreement his administration struck with the Taliban last year.

“It’s a great thing that we’re getting out, but nobody has ever handled a withdrawal worse than Joe Biden,” the former president told Fox News Tuesday. 

“This is the greatest embarrassment, I believe, in the history of our country,” he said. 

Trump sat down for his first interview since the Taliban marched into Kabul Sunday, climaxing a 96-hour conquest that saw Afghanistan’s major cities and provincial capitals fall with little resistance, Reuters reported. 

While he was full of criticism for the Biden administration, Trump also at times echoed his successor’s address to the nation Monday, which cast blame on Afghan military and political leaders for their battlefield collapse and the resulting scenes of chaos.

“I knew they [Afghan security forces] weren’t going to fight … I said, ‘Why are they fighting? Why are these Afghan soldiers fighting against the Taliban?’” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “And I was told some very bad information by a lot of different people.

“The fact is, they’re among the highest-paid soldiers in the world. They were doing it for a paycheck, because once we stopped, once we left, they stopped fighting … The fact is, our country was paying the Afghan soldiers a fortune. So we were sort of bribing them to fight, and that’s not what it’s all about.”

By contrast, Trump repeatedly praised the Taliban as “good fighters” — at one point telling Hannity that “you have to give them credit for that” — and claimed he got along better with the Islamic fundamentalists than recently deposed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who fled the country as Taliban forces closed in, Reuters reported. 

“I never had a lot of confidence, frankly, in Ghani,” the former president recalled. “I said that openly and plainly. I thought he was a total crook. I thought he got away with murder. He spent all his time wining and dining our senators. The senators were in his pocket. That was one of the problems that we had, but I never liked him, and I guess based on his escape with cash, I don’t know, maybe that’s a true story. I would suspect it is. All you have to do is look at his lifestyle, study his houses where he lives. He got away with murder in many different ways.”

In February 2020, the Trump administration announced a cease-fire agreement with the Taliban that called for the withdrawal of all US combat troops from Afghanistan by May 1 of this year. On Monday, Biden argued that his hands were tied by the agreement, Reuters reported. 

“There would have been no ceasefire after May 1. There was no agreement protecting our forces after May 1. There was no status quo of stability without American casualties after May 1,” the president said. “There was only the cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, lurching into the third decade of conflict.”

Trump said Tuesday that the agreement was forged after what he called a “strong conversation” with a Taliban leader he identified as Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a contender to become the new supreme leader of the new government, Reuters reported. 

“I told him up front, I said, “Look, up front, before we start, let me just tell you right now that if anything bad happens to Americans or anybody else or if you ever come over to our land, we will hit you with a force that no country has ever been hit with before, a force so great you won’t even believe it,’” he recounted.

As a result of the agreement, Trump claimed, “we lost no soldiers in the last year-and-a-half because of me and because of the understanding that we had … In Chicago and in New York and in other cities in the United States, many people die every weekend. We lost no soldiers in Afghanistan because they knew I wasn’t going to put up with it.”

Summing up two decades of American efforts in Afghanistan, Trump described the initial decision to invade in October 2001 as “the worst decision ever made” and argued that the US should have limited its retaliation for the 9/11 attacks to airstrikes, Reuters reported. 

As more grim reports emerged of thousands of Americans stuck in Taliban territory, with checkpoints between them and Kabul’s international airport, Trump said: “ I looked at that big, monster cargo plane yesterday, with people grabbing the side and trying to get flown out of Afghanistan because of their fear, their incredible fear, and they’re blowing off the plane from 2,000 feet up in the air.” 

“Nobody’s ever seen anything like that. That blows the helicopters in Vietnam away. That’s not even a contest. This has been the most humiliating period of time I’ve ever seen.”

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UN chief says IEA must respect human rights in order to be recognized

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2022)

Laying out his priorities for 2022, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) has to respect human rights in order to obtain international recognition.

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Guterres stated that it was “absolutely essential” for the IEA “to have full respect for the rights of women and girls and to have a positive approach to human rights in general” in order to obtain international recognition and “getting international support for their own people.”

“To provide a lifeline of help for the Afghan people, inject cash to avoid an economic meltdown, ensure full respect of international humanitarian law and human rights — particularly for women and girls — and effectively fight terrorism,” he said.

UN Secretary-General spoke about global issues as well. Referring to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, a morally bankrupt global financial system, the climate crisis, lawlessness in cyberspace, and diminished peace and security, he told the General Assembly that “we face a five-alarm global fire that requires the full mobilization of all countries.”

“Now is not the time to simply list and lament challenges. Now is the time to act. All these challenges are, at heart, failures of global governance.”

On the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Guterres said, “diplomacy is the way to solve problems. Of course, any invasion by one country to another country is against international law, and I hope that this, of course, will not happen in the present circumstances. I am convinced it will not happen. And I strongly hope to be right.”

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Salang Pass, Herat- Badghis highway closed to traffic due to heavy snow

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(Last Updated On: January 22, 2022)

Local officials said that due to heavy snowfall and stormy weather, the Salang Pass and Herat-Badghis highway have been closed to traffic temporarily.

Qazi Obaidullah Obaid, head of the Salang Pass maintenance department said they had decided to close the mountain pass in order to avoid casualties amid bad weather conditions.

According to Obaid dozens of motorists and passengers were stranded on the pass but have since been taken to places of safety.

Meanwhile, Mohibullah Asad, deputy governor of Badghis, said that Herat-Qala-e-Naw highway has also been closed to traffic due to heavy snowfall.

He said maintenance crews are working to clear the highway and reopen it to traffic.

Badghis received heavy snowfalls from Friday afternoon, making the highway impassable.

Kabul also received a fair amount of snow overnight which was expected to clear later Saturday. However, temperatures are set to drop to around -12 degrees Celsius during the night.

While Sunday is expected to be sunny, the expected high will only be -1 degrees Celsius, dropping to -15 degrees Celsius on Sunday night.

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IEA delegation due in Norway for humanitarian talks

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Representatives of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will arrive in Norway on Sunday for three days of talks on how to alleviate a humanitarian crisis, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Friday, Reuters reported.

“These meetings do not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban [IEA]. But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

“We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” she said.

Millions of Afghans have been plunged deeper into poverty since last year’s IEA takeover, which resulted in disruption to aid programmes and deteriorating food security, Reuters reported.

The IEA representatives will meet Norwegian authorities as well as diplomats from several other countries from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

“Meetings will also take place between the Taliban [IEA] delegation and other Afghans with backgrounds from a range of fields. These include women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues,” Norway said.

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