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Turkey offers to run Kabul airport, but puts conditions in place

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(Last Updated On: June 8, 2021)

Turkey has offered to guard and run Kabul’s airport after the United States and other NATO forces withdraw from Afghanistan, but U.S. officials say Ankara is imposing conditions which need to be resolved as their leaders prepare to meet next week, Reuters reported.

Turkish officials say Ankara made the proposal at a NATO meeting in May when the United States and its partners agreed a plan to withdraw troops by September 11 after 20 years of war trying to defeat Taliban forces.

Turkish and U.S. officials have discussed possible requirements for the mission, some of which Washington has agreed to address, one Turkish official said.

“Following the United States’ decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, Turkey has made an offer to ensure the security of Kabul airport. In this framework, there are talks underway with NATO and the United States,” the Turkish official said.

A Turkish role securing the airport for international flights could help improve ties between Ankara and the West, sorely strained by Turkey’s purchase of Russian defence systems and disputes with European countries over drilling rights in east Mediterranean waters, Reuters reported.

Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said on Monday that Ankara’s offer was contingent on backup from those allies.

“We intend to stay in Afghanistan depending on conditions. What are our conditions? Political, financial and logistical support. If these are met, we can remain at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” his ministry quoted Akar as saying.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they welcomed the Turkish proposal but that Ankara was asking for too many U.S. “enablers” for the mission, Reuters reported.

The officials also cited some U.S. concern about Turkey’s reliability, given their other disagreements, but said Washington would find a way to make it work.

NATO leaders will discuss Afghanistan at a summit next Monday, where Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan will meet Joe Biden for the first time since the U.S. president took office.

Securing Kabul airport could help persuade some countries to maintain a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan. Last month Australia shut its embassy there due to security concerns.

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Kabul municipality drawing up service plans, order removal of T-walls

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

The acting head of Kabul municipality on Sunday ordered the removal of the city’s blast walls and said plans are being drawn up to address urban challenges and to provide effective services.

Addressing a press conference in Kabul, Mawlawi Hamdullah Nomani said the removal of barriers and concrete walls is a part of the plan going forward

Mawlawi Nomani said that the construction of high rise buildings and usurpation of land are challenges that will be addressed in future.

“Investigations about buildings and land grabbing, which were [prone to] corruption will be addressed. We will not allow this, people cannot misuse this. We will investigate this when all institutions resume work,” said Mawlawi Nomani.

According to him, the Islamic Emirate will urge donors to complete projects that have stopped in the past month.

“We are in contact with donors of 100 projects that have now stopped. We have not received a positive or negative answer about the fate of the projects,” he said.

Mawlawi Nomani also said that the removal of barriers and concrete blast walls will be completed soon.

“We will remove barriers that spoil the city, most of these were placed by security institutions. We are telling people who erected barriers to remove them, otherwise we will remove them and the people will have to pay municipality expenses,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of concrete walls, known in Kabul as T-walls, have for years spoilt the look of the city.

Almost everywhere you look in the Afghan capital, you see these tall, thick walls, which range in height from three to seven metres, that surround homes, businesses, schools, embassies and government compounds.

Over the years demand was high and as more walls went up, traffic problems increased as roads were all too often blocked when new walls went up.

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Female teachers concerned about their future

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

Female teachers for grades seven to 12 say they are uncertain about their future as they have been instructed by the Ministry of Education not to return to work.

Many of these teachers say they are the only breadwinners in their families and have asked to return to teaching.

This comes after the Ministry of Education issued a notice calling on male students and male teachers from grades seven to 12 to return to school.

This came into effect on Saturday.

However, the notice did not make mention of female students and teachers, nor did it give any indication of what would happen in future to the hundreds of thousands of secondary school girls.

Khatara, a Grade 12 Pashto subject teacher at the Bibi Sara Khairkhana school in Kabul, said that the Kabul Education Department had asked her not to return to school until further notice, and that the education process for girls in Grades 7 and above had stopped.

Khatara, who is her family’s only breadwinner, has been a teacher at the school for 15 years. However, she is now struggling financially and has called on education ministry officials to allow female teachers to return to work.

“If an educated woman is not represented in society like a woman doctor, then who would treat women? If this issue is not addressed, there will be an education crisis in the country,” said Khatara, the school teacher.

Family members of Khatara are worried about what their future will entail if the family’s only breadwinner loses her job.

“We call on the Islamic Emirate to allow women to continue their work. Many women are their family’s only breadwinners,” said Basharatullah, Khatara’s brother.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s Cultural Commision at the Ministry of Information and Culture said on Saturday that they are working on a way to resume the process of education for women and girls in the country.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund on Saturday welcomed the move to reopen secondary schools in Afghanistan, but stressed that girls must not be left out

“We are deeply worried, however, that many girls may not be allowed back at this time,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore in a statement.

She said it is critical for all girls to resume their education and that female teachers need to resume work.

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UN chief urges action to prevent economic collapse in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called on the international community to urgently inject some cash into Afghanistan, saying it would be disastrous if the country’s economy collapsed.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Guterres said currently “millions and millions of people (are) on the verge of dying because of hunger”.

Should the economy collapse, “it would be a total disaster; it would be lots of people dying and I believe a massive outflow into the neighboring countries with horrible consequences for the stability of those countries, so I think it’s very important to avoid that collapse.

“I’ve been saying that humanitarian aid is essential but at the same time it’s necessary, and of course there are ways to do so even in respect for international law, it’s essential to inject some cash to allow the Afghan economy to breathe and to avoid the kind of collapse that would have devastating consequences,” he said.

Guterres’ statement comes amid a cash flow crisis in Afghanistan. Essentially a dollarized nation under the former government, weekly shipments of US dollars stopped the day the Islamic Emirate took over Kabul – on August 15.

Since then, severe weekly limits have been imposed by banks on cash withdrawals for individuals, foreign reserves have been frozen, and the International Monetary Fund and World Bank also stopped loans.

Guterres said: “It’s our duty to do everything possible to support the Afghan people and to help create the conditions for those concerns that everybody has about terrorism, about human rights, about inclusivity, to materialize.”

He also stated that the “situation is unpredictable” but added the UN is working with the Islamic Emirate to allow for humanitarian aid to be distributed to the people.

He said that is would be a “disaster if terrorist organizations could operate again from Afghanistan.”

Guterres also noted that it was important for the Islamic Emirate to “understand the importance of an inclusive government that takes into account the diversity of the different groups [in the country]” and to respect basic human rights.

Asked about what he thought went wrong in Afghanistan, Guterres said the first problem was the “idea that the Afghan people can be ruled from outside.”

He said the British and the former Soviet Union had both tried to do this in the past, but both had failed.

The Afghan people are “very proud and they have lots of problems among themselves but they have even more problems with the idea that they can be dominated from the outside”, he said.

He also said he felt there had been too much “military action and not enough support to building institutions.”

According to him, the former Afghan leaders were divided – singling out the two past elections that had both been contested.

He said the election system adopted for Afghanistan “that was a unitary system was not the most adequate for a country that is so decentralized”.

“The truth is that there was a huge dysfunctionality in the government and we have seen it in relations of the president; and the international community looked at it without any capacity to really allow things to improve and so all these fragilities accumulated and in the end what we had, and we had it in a very chaotic way that nobody was forecasting.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen; as I said the situation is unpredictable but i think that there is at least a part of the leadership of the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) that would like to have Afghanistan as a country recognized by the international community and would be ready to pay a price for that,” he said.

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