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US moves Kabul embassy to Doha, Blinken tells House Committee

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(Last Updated On: September 14, 2021)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday night that Washington has moved its diplomatic operations from Kabul to Doha and that it remains focused on counterterrorism efforts in the region.

Addressing the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Blinken said: “We moved our diplomatic operations from Kabul to Doha, where our new Afghan affairs team is hard at work. Many of our key partners have joined us there.”

He also stated that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan has committed to prevent terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a base for external operations that could threaten the United States or its allies, including al-Qaeda and ISIS-K (Daesh).

“We’ll hold them accountable for that. That does not mean we will rely on them. We will remain vigilant in monitoring threats, we’ll maintain robust counterterrorism capabilities in the region to neutralize those threats if necessary – and we do that in places around the world where we do not have military forces on the ground,” he said.

He also said that the US continues its intensive diplomacy with allies and partners.

“We initiated a statement joined by more than half the world’s countries – over a hundred countries – as well as a United Nations Security Council resolution setting out the international community’s expectations of a Taliban-led (Islamic Emirate) government.

“We expect the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) to ensure freedom of travel; to make good on its commitments on counterterrorism; to uphold the basic rights of the Afghan people, including women, girls, and minorities; to name a broadly representative permanent government; to forswear reprisals.

“The legitimacy and support the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) seeks from the international community will depend on its conduct,” he said.

Blinken said he led a ministerial meeting of 22 countries, NATO, the EU, and the United Nations, to continue to align efforts on Afghanistan.”

This comes just hours after the US announced it is providing nearly $64 million in new humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan to meet critical health and nutrition needs.

This additional funding means the United States has provided nearly $330 million in assistance to the Afghan people this fiscal year.

Blinken also gave a full report back on the US troops withdrawal process from Afghanistan and the evacuation process and said the emergency evacuation was sparked by the collapse of the Afghan security forces and government.

“Throughout the year, we were constantly assessing their staying power and considering multiple scenarios. Even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict that government forces in Kabul would collapse while US forces remained.

Quoting General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Blinken said: “Nothing I or anyone else saw indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days.”

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Three national snooker team players off to good start in world champs

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

Afghanistan’s National Snooker Team has gotten off to a good start in this year’s Six-Red World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

National team member Raees Khan Sindzai won his first match against his opponent from Ukraine ending with a score of 5-4.

Sindzai also defeated his Iraqi rival 5-4 in his second match and his next game will be against Bahrain.

Saleh Mohammad Mohammadi, another Afghan team member, beat his Egyptian rival 5-0 but lost his second match to his Belgian opponent, 4-5.

His third game will be against Palestine.

The Six-Red World Championships comes just days after the three team members took part in the Asian Snooker Championships, which were also held in Doha.

The tournaments are part of three major billiards and snooker events – including the GCC Billiards and Snooker tournament – organised by the Qatar Billiards and Snooker Federation.

It is the first time a country hosts these three major championships in succession, separated by only a few days.

The competitions started with the Asian championship from September 12 to 16, then the Six-Red World Championship from September 17 to 21. This championship will be followed by the GCC Billiards and Snooker Championship from September 22 to 28.

President of the International Snooker Federation and Executive Director of the Qatar Federation, Mubarak Al Khayarin, described Qatar’s hosting of the World and Asian Championships as a great challenge, especially after stopping nearly two years of activity due to the repercussions of the continuing outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Qatar’s The Peninsula reported.

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Three brothers killed in Paktia in dispute over land

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(Last Updated On: September 19, 2021)

Three members of one family were killed and one more wounded in a clash in eastern Paktia province, local officials said Sunday.

According to Islamic Emirate officials, the clash happened between two families in Shakar Khel village in Gardez city, the provincial capital, on Saturday evening.

The incident happened after an argument broke out over a land dispute between the two sides, the officials said.

The officials stated that all the victims were brothers.

Mawlawi Hemat, police chief of Gardez PD1, stated that three members of one family have been arrested in connection with the incident.

He said Islamic Emirate forces are investigating and hope to arrest the other culprits.

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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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