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Two female judges killed in targeted attack in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: January 17, 2021)

Two female judges were killed and three others including a driver and a civilian were wounded in an attack by unknown gunmen in Kabul city on Sunday morning, police confirmed.

According to police three gunmen attacked the convoy of vehicles carrying Supreme Court employees in the Qala-e-Fathullah area of PD10 in Kabul city this morning.

Police did not provide further details about the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

This comes as targeted attacks have sharply increased in Afghanistan amid peace talks in Doha.

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CENTCOM chief says Washington still mulling embassy safety plans

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

Commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM) said this weekend that he has provided plans to secure the US embassy in Afghanistan with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin who is still deciding.

In an interview with Military Times, McKenzie said: “We’re in a back-and-forth process, refining them, so unfortunately right now, because of that, there’s not much more I can share with you about the development of those plans.

He went on to state that the US knows “with a high degree of certainty, that al-Qaeda and ISIS, and the version of ISIS that’s in Afghanistan — ISIS Khorasan is what we call it — they both have aspirations to attack the United States”.

“Long-standing, very public track record of wanting to attack our homeland, and the homelands of our partners as well in Europe and in other places. So, this is well established and well-documented from their own mouths.

“We believe that what has prevented these attacks from being developed, both from Afghanistan and from Syria as well over the last few years, is the pressure that’s been put on these groups.

“And so in Syria, for example, we and our SDF partners work very hard to keep that pressure on them so they don’t have — particularly ISIS — the ability to generate those attack plans because they’re busy scrambling around for their own survival,” he said.

“Sort of the same thing occurs in Afghanistan. So, what would concern me the most in the long term would be a future situation in Afghanistan where there wasn’t adequate pressure kept on these groups, because we know left unmolested that they are certainly going to rebuild, restrengthen themselves, and we have no reason to doubt they don’t mean what they say when they say, repeatedly and earnestly over the past few years, that they want to attack us in our homeland,” he said.

He highlited that the US was withdrawing from Afghanistan and that the only thing that will remain, “if we can protect it”, will be the US embassy and its diplomats.

Despite withdrawing, he again noted that Washington plans to the Afghan military from just over the horizon.

“We’re still going to support them with funding. We’re going to try very hard to support the Afghan air force over the horizon; some things will come out of the country to be worked on.

“We will do some televised remote advising with them as we go forward. All those things, we will continue to do that. I don’t want to minimize this, because I think they’re going to be tested, but we will continue to support them, just not in the way we are supporting them now.”

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Khalilzad says US ‘not leaving Afghanistan’ despite troop pullout

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has said the United States will not abandon the war-torn country even after the withdrawal of its forces.

Addressing a press conference during his visit to Kazakhstan’s capital, Nur-Sultan on Sunday, Khalilzad said: “Our forces are leaving Afghanistan, but the United States is not leaving Afghanistan. We will work hard for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.”

“We will continue our security assistance, and we will continue our economic and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan,” he added.

This comes as concerns continue to grown around the uncertainty in Kabul amid a spike in violence and stalled peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan Republic.

In Nur-Sultan, Khalilzad said he regularly discusses Afghanistan with his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin’s special representative Zamir Kabulov, RFE\RL reported Monday.

“Russia and the United States are working well together in promoting peace in Afghanistan,” according to him.

Khalilzad is currently on a visit to the region in a drive to muster support for the peace process ahead of the US and NATO troops withdrawal, which is expected to be finalized by September 11.

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Stoltenberg says many decisions will be taken at NATO Summit

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(Last Updated On: June 14, 2021)

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday he was looking forward to welcoming all NATO leaders to the day’s summit and said the decisions that will be made will send a strong message of unity, of resolve and that “we are making NATO stronger in an age of global competition.”

Stoltenberg laid out a number of key decision areas for the Summit, including strengthening political consultations, reinforcing collective defense, and enhancing resilience for infrastructure and supply chains.

Stoltenberg also said that Afghanistan, Russia, and support for Ukraine and Georgia will feature in the day-long event. 

“NATO is the most successful alliance in history because, for more than seventy years, we have changed as the world changes”, the Secretary-General said.  

“At our Summit on Monday, we will have far-ranging discussions, and take substantial decisions to make our strong Alliance even stronger and keep our one billion people safe”.

Stoltenberg said despite the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan, the organization will continue to support Afghans and provide support to the security forces. 

“We will continue to provide funding for Afghan security forces, that is a commitment that all Allies have made. And then we’re also now working on how we can provide out-of-country training for the Afghan security forces.”

He said NATO is also working on how to maintain and support critical infrastructure, including the airport. 

“NATO is planning to provide support and also some NATO Allies are now in direct dialogue, including the United States and Turkey and others, on how to make sure that we can maintain an international airport in Kabul.”

“This is, of course, important for NATO Allies, but it’s also important for the whole international community for diplomatic presence, and also for continued development aid. 

“So, in essence, we have been there for almost 20 years. The intention was never to be there forever. We are clear-eyed about the risks that the decision to end our military presence entails, but at the same time, we will continue to support the Afghans,” he said.

US President Joe Biden, who has already arrived in Brussels for the summit is meanwhile expected to hold talks on the sidelines of the event with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan said on Sunday his country would be the “only reliable” country left to stabilize Afghanistan after the US pulls out its troops.

Speaking to journalists at an Istanbul airport before leaving for Brussels, Erdogan said he would discuss the issue in his first face-to-face meeting with Biden.

“America is preparing to leave Afghanistan soon and from the moment they leave, the only reliable country to maintain the process over there is obviously Turkey,” Erdogan said. 

This comes after reports emerged last week that Turkey had offered to keep troops in Afghanistan to protect the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul once US and NATO forces have left. 

Concerns among the foreign community have been growing over this issue as the Kabul airport is the main entry and exit point for diplomats and aid workers.

According to AFP, Erdogan said on Sunday that Turkish officials had informed their American counterparts about Ankara’s plans in Afghanistan after the US troop pullout, without providing details.

They are “pleased and happy. We will be able to discuss the Afghanistan process with them,” he said.

AFP meanwhile quoted a Turkish official as having said Turkey’s troops could remain “as long as certain conditions including legal and financial are met.”

“If Turkey is to stay it will do so under which frame: under NATO umbrella or bilateral terms? And if it will be under NATO auspices, under which authorization?” asked the official, who wished to remain anonymous.

The official also confirmed that Western powers were willing to let Turkey stay and protect the Kabul airport.

But, the official added, “why should Turkey try hard if nobody is going to give support? These issues need to be clarified.”

Following last week’s reports on Turkey’s offer, the Taliban on Saturday issued a statement warning against this. 

According to the group, should any foreign country decide to keep some troops in Afghanistan, be it for safeguarding embassies or the airport, they will be considered “invaders”.

 

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