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US announces more than $266 million in new Afghanistan aid

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(Last Updated On: June 4, 2021)

With the U.S. troop withdrawal well underway, the United States on Friday announced more than $266 million in new humanitarian aid for Afghanistan as part of what it called an enduring U.S. commitment to the war-torn country.

The announcement comes amid unrelenting violence and a stalled peace process that are fueling fears that the departure of U.S.-led international forces is putting Afghanistan on a path to all-out civil war that could restore Taliban rule two decades after the Islamists were driven from power.

Officials of the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, who ordered an end to the 20-year U.S. troop presence by Sept. 11, have vowed to continue U.S. military and civilian aid to Kabul. But they warned it could be suspended if there is backtracking on progress made in human rights, especially those of women and girls.

“As the United States withdraws military forces from Afghanistan, our enduring commitment is clear. We remain engaged through our full diplomatic, economic, and assistance toolkit to support the peaceful, stable future the Afghan people want and deserve,” the State Department said in a statement.  

The $266 million in new assistance brings to nearly $3.9 billion the total amount of such aid provided by the United States since 2002, the statement said.

The funds will help support some of the estimated 18 million Afghans in need, including more than 4.8 million who are internally displaced, 115,000 of whom have been driven from their homes by fighting this year alone, it said.

The funds, it continued, will go to providing shelter, job opportunities, basic healthcare, emergency food, water, sanitation, and hygienic services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also will support protection programs for “the most vulnerable Afghans,” including women and girls “facing particular risks, including gender-based violence,” it said.

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US was losing war to IEA so it turned to negotiations: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: October 26, 2021)

The United States was losing the war to the Taliban (IEA) so it chose negotiations as an alternative, said the former US special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad in an interview with CBS News.

According to him, Washington tried many times to strengthen its position on the battleground but it failed.

“We did not defeat them. In fact, they were making progress on the battlefield even as we were negotiating with them. And the reason we negotiated with them was because militarily things were not going as well as we would have liked. We were losing ground each year,” he said.

Khalilzad blamed former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani for the disintegration of Afghanistan’s security sector, saying his escape triggered the chaos i seen in Kabul as the US withdrew its troops.

“But I believe the biggest difficulty was that President Ghani and a few other Afghan leaders did not believe that we were serious about withdrawal for a long time, and they liked the status quo compared to a political settlement in which they might not have the jobs that they had and- and the resources that the US was providing would not be there.

“They preferred the status quo to a political settlement. And then when it became clear that the U.S. was leaving, then they- they miscalculated the effects of-of the continuing war. They were not serious about the political settlement,” he said.

and did not take into account the real situation in the country.

Khalilzad believes that the US counterterrorism mission in the country succeeded as “the terrorist threat from Afghanistan is not what it used to be” and al-Qaeda has been “devastated.”

He said the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is living up to its agreement regarding al-Qaeda stating “we are convinced that they are not allowing- they are not allowing plotting and planning operations by al-Qaeda against the United States.

“We always would like to see more from the Taliban (IEA), from almost any country that we deal with on this issue. We would like them to do more. We would like to expel- to- to get them to expel any al-Qaeda member who was there.”

“We should press them to do more on the issue of terrorism,” he added.

Asked if he knew where the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri was, Khalilzad said: “Well, the [UN] report that I have seen indicates he could be in Afghanistan or adjacent territories.”

However, he said the IEA members he negotiated with in Doha said they did not know where al-Zawahiri was.

He went on to say he did not necessarily believe this and said: “That’s why it’s very important not to take their word for it, in terms of what they say or what they commit to. That’s why we are saying there has to be over the horizon monitoring of the commitments on terrorism and the ability to strike if we see plotting and planning going on.”

On October 18, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that Khalilzad had stepped down as a special envoy for Afghanistan.

Khalilzad said that he made the decision to resign at a time when Washington is beginning a new phase of policy toward Kabul following the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.

“I was representing the United States to carry out the president’s direction. But I believe the biggest difficulty was that President Ghani and a few other Afghan leaders did not believe that we were serious about withdrawal for a long time, and they like the status quo compared to a political settlement in which they might not have the jobs that they had and- and the resources that the US was providing would not be there.

“They preferred the status quo to a political settlement, he said.

Khalilzad also stated that he would have liked to have seen a negotiated settlement but implied that Ghani did not give this a chance.

He said Afghanistan was close to his heart, especially as he had been born in the country.

“I was born there, and I have spent a lot of my life on behalf of the United States focused on Afghanistan. I helped them with their constitution. I helped them with their first election. I established an American university in-in Afghanistan.

“I was very encouraged by the first years, the enthusiasm, the hopefulness that I observed there,” he said adding that the “political elite of the country made terrible mistakes”.

He said they “allowed corruption, misused elections, democracy, and didn’t treat their security forces perhaps the way they should have been treated.

“And we faced the- the circumstances we did.”

In conclusion he said: “Now it’s time for the Afghans to take ownership with non-military assistance, unless we are threatened, then our military should be in play. But we should not abandon Afghanistan, turn our back on it — use our influence as a country with enormous capability and influence to encourage the emergence of an Afghanistan that the Afghans aspire for.”

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Iranian embassy confirms meeting, outlines agenda

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2021)

Bahadar Aminian, Iranian ambassador in Kabul said Monday that economic and security problems and establishing an inclusive government will be discussed at the Tehran meeting on Afghanistan.

This comes as Iran prepares to host a meeting on Afghanistan on Wednesday.

Aminian said that foreign ministers from Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and China will attend the meeting.

“Countries in the region in Tehran meeting will emphasize responsibility about security, economic stability and an inclusive government,” said Aminian.

The Iranian envoy added that participants will also discuss sending humanitarian aid for Afghans and talk about development projects in Afghanistan.

“Not only is aid necessary for Afghans, but long term projects for development are also important for Afghans to preserve their independence,” he added.

China’s foreign minister will deliver an online speech, while Russia has confirmed it will be present.

Officials of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said that they asked Iran for details but have not received any so far.

“In the past decades, rulers of the country [Afghanistan] have not taken responsibility for independence, dignity and security. We hope that the current people in Afghanistan will solve the problems,” said Aminian.

This comes after the former government accused Iran of interfering in Afghanistan’s internal affairs. Now however the Iranian envoy criticized the former government and called on the IEA to be more responsible.

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IEA welcomes Russia’s stance on removing IEA’s leaders from the Blacklist

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(Last Updated On: October 25, 2021)

The Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [IEA] welcomed the expressions of the Russian president for removing their leader’s names from the blacklist.

Previously Vladimir Putin said that he is considering removing the names of the IEA leaders from the blacklist.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi a Foreign Ministry spokesman said that:” the era of war ended in Afghanistan and called on the international community to bring positive changes dealing with Afghanistan.

Foreign Ministry said the Afghan government wants positive relations with the world.

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