Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Taliban says ‘way too early’ to speak of resuming talks with US after Trump’s statement

The Taliban said on Friday it was “way too early” to speak of resuming direct talks with Washington. The statement came a day after US President Donald Trump said during a surprise visit to Afghanistan that the US was again meeting with the militants.

“It is way too early to talk about the resumption of talks for now. We will give our official reaction later,” the group’s official spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, told AFP in a WhatsApp message.

However, Mujahid was quoted by Reuters on Friday as saying that the insurgent group was “ready to restart the talks,” which collapsed in September after Trump called them off. “Our stance is still the same. If peace talks start, they will be resumed from the stage where they’d stopped,” Mujahid said, according to the report.

It added that Taliban leaders say the group has been holding meetings with senior US officials in Doha, Qatar, since last weekend and formal peace talks could soon be resumed.

https://www.rt.com/newsline/474622-taliban-resume-us-talks/

Dozens Of Afghans Die In Road Accident In Iran

A road accident in southeast Iran has killed 28 Afghan nationals, the semiofficial ILNA news agency reports.

The report says 21 people were also injured when two crowded minibuses collided near the town of Khash in Sistan and Baluchistan Province early on November 14, some 1,500 kilometers southeast of the capital, Tehran.

The region is a route used frequently by traffickers to smuggle illegal Afghan migrants, usually in crammed vehicles.

Iran has one of the world’s worst road-safety records due to unsafe vehicles and inadequate emergency services, as well as disregard for traffic regulations.

Some 17,000 people die annually on average in accidents in Iran. In July, 18 people were killed and 14 injured in two separate road accidents in central Iran.

https://www.rferl.org/a/dozens-of-afghans-die-in-road-accident-in-iran/30270881.html

Khalilzad in Islamabad, seeks revival of Taliban talks

ISLAMABAD: US Special Envoy for Afghan Reconciliation Amb Zalmay Khalilzad arrived on Tuesday for discussions with Pakistani civil and military leadership on reviving peace talks with Afghan Taliban.

The trip follows voting in the Afghan presidential elections held on Sept 28 that were marred by low turnout and sporadic violence.

Pakistan had, while welcoming the voting in presidential elections, hoped that the new government will enjoy the full mandate to take the stalled peace process forward.

“This is important for ending the 18-year old conflict through an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned negotiated political settlement,” the Foreign Office said vowing to continue to facilitate the new Afghan government in reaching a political settlement of the long-running conflict.

US and Taliban were close to a deal last month when Trump called off a meeting with representatives of insurgent group and Afghan president

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources in the US said that Pakistan was trying to bring Taliban leader Mullah Baradar to Islamabad from Doha on Wednesday (today) for a possible meeting with Mr Khalilzad.

It may take up to three weeks for the counting of the votes in Afghan presidential polls to complete. There are, however, early indications that the process may run into a political row among leading contenders similar to the one witnessed in 2014. Top contenders have already begun making rival claims of victory in polls.

The US and Taliban were close to a deal at the start of last month when President Donald Trump suddenly called off a meeting with representatives of the insurgent group and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at Camp David and ended the negotiating process that Amb Khalilzad had been running for a year over a Taliban attack in Kabul that left 12 people, including a US soldier, dead.

Amb Khalilzad later reportedly told Congress members in a classified briefing that the peace deal with the Taliban was dead.

He had also met Prime Minister Imran Khan during his recent visit to New York. He, on that occasion, gave Mr Khan an overview of his yearlong engagement with the Taliban before it went off the rails.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1508478/khalilzad-in-islamabad-seeks-revival-of-taliban-talks

Afghans begin voting in presidential election

Afghans began voting on Saturday morning in a one-day presidential election to select the country’s new leader for the next five years.

The polling opened at 7:00 a.m. local time (0230 GMT) and will close at 3:00 p.m. (1030 GMT) in the country’s 34 provinces, according to election officials.

It is the fourth presidential election in Afghanistan since 2001, when the Taliban regime was ousted.

A total of 18 contesters are running for the presidency with a five-year term and among the candidates are sitting President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Security remains the biggest challenge for the election.

The Afghan security forces will provide security for 4,942 out of 5,373 polling centers and the remaining 431 centers located in remote districts will not open on the election day due to security threats, according to election officials.

Over 9.4 million eligible voters, 35 percent of them women, registered to cast their votes during Saturday’s polling. 

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-09/28/c_138430501.htm

Taliban Envoys Visit Iran, Russia Following Collapse Of U.S. Talks

A four-member Taliban delegation has traveled to Tehran for talks with high-ranking Iranian officials — the second such trip by militants to a foreign country just days after U.S. President Donald Trump announced that peace talks with the United States have collapsed.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban political bureau in Qatar, tweeted on September 17 that the Taliban delegation led by Abdul Salam Hanafi, deputy head of political office, visited Iran and met high-ranking officials of the Iranian Foreign Ministry the previous day.

Shaeen did not disclose the identities of the delegation’s members.

The two sides discussed the peace process, the latest developments, and economic cooperation between Afghanistan and Iran, Shaeen said.

On September 13, Shaeen said a Taliban delegation had met with Russia’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov in Moscow.

RFE/RL has independently confirmed that the Taliban delegation was in Moscow on September 13.

Shaheen was quoted by the Russian news agency TASS as saying that the Taliban’s talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy had focused on “the recent developments regarding the peace process in Afghanistan.”

The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported that the Taliban delegation in Moscow was headed by Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of the Taliban’s negotiation team in Qatar.

On September 13, Shaeen said a Taliban delegation had met with Russia’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov in Moscow.

RFE/RL has independently confirmed that the Taliban delegation was in Moscow on September 13.

Shaheen was quoted by the Russian news agency TASS as saying that the Taliban’s talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy had focused on “the recent developments regarding the peace process in Afghanistan.”

The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) reported that the Taliban delegation in Moscow was headed by Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanikzai, the head of the Taliban’s negotiation team in Qatar.

It said the delegation also included Shaheen and Qari Din Muhammad Hanif.

Stanikzai told the Kremlin-funded RT network in an interview aired on September 13 that the Taliban wanted to continue talks with Washington, but if no agreement is reached the militants are ready to fight “for 100 years.”

AIP reported that the Taliban delegation was considering a possible trip to China after it concludes its visit in Moscow, but it said a final decision on going to China had not been reached by the Taliban delegates.

Moscow has hosted two previous rounds of talks in 2019 between Taliban negotiators and prominent Afghan figures.

Trump declared on September 9 that peace talks with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad were “dead.”

Earlier, Trump canceled a secret meeting with Taliban negotiators that had been scheduled at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

In Washington, Khalilzad has been called to testify at a U.S. congressional hearing on September 19 about the collapse of the talks with U.S. officials.

https://www.rferl.org/a/taliban-visit-iran-us-talks-collapse/30168805.html

Trump confirms Osama bin Laden’s son Hamza killed

“The loss of Hamza bin Ladin not only deprives al-Qa’ida of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group,” the US president said in the statement, according to the CNN on Saturday.

He did not give a time period for the operation or the death.

CNN previously reported on July 31 that the US believed Hamza bin Laden was dead, citing a US official. The official told CNN at the time that the US had a role in this death but did not provide details.

Terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank told CNN at the time that one thing puzzled researchers who are closely tracking al Qaeda: “If Hamza bin Laden has indeed been dead for months, you would expect al Qaeda to have released some form of eulogy before today. The fact they haven’t is highly unusual, given his status in the group.”

https://en.mehrnews.com/news/150025/Trump-confirms-Osama-bin-Laden-s-son-Hamza-killed

Security tight as election materials land in Afghanistan

Election material has arrived in Afghanistan for the presidential vote which is just over two weeks away.

With the US-Taliban talks over, for now, the Afghan government has scheduled presidential elections on September 28.

But escorting the material safely is a priority for security forces who want to shield it from the Taliban, who is against the Afghan people participating.

Election material has arrived in Afghanistan for the presidential vote which is just over two weeks away.

With the US-Taliban talks over, for now, the Afghan government has scheduled presidential elections on September 28.

But escorting the material safely is a priority for security forces who want to shield it from the Taliban, who is against the Afghan people participating.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/09/security-tight-election-materials-land-afghanistan-190911070921981.html

Ghani spokesman: Taliban leaders receive orders from Qatar to kill Afghans

Speaking at a news conference in Kabul on Sunday, Sadiq Sediqi, a spokesman for President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani, that the Afghan people would never accept an incomplete peace deal with the Taliban that results in their death.

Sediqi said that the Taliban leaders staying in Qatar for peace talks were “having (a) honeymoon in Doha,” adding that the “Taliban leaders receive orders from Qatar to kill Afghans.”

Negotiations in Qatar are incomplete, and the Afghani government has shared its concerns with the US about the “flawed process,” Sediqi said.

Ghani’s spokesperson said that US President Donald Trump’s decision on Saturday to cancel peace talks with Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders proved that the government’s concerns were acknowledged. Trump cancelled the talks after the insurgent group said it was behind an attack in Kabul that killed an American soldier and 11 other people.

“The peace talks provided an opportunity to the Taliban to embrace political life,” Sediq Sediqqi told reporters in Kabul.

“We (the Afghan government) expected an outcome leading to a ceasefire and holding direct talks with the Taliban but we did not see any real effort from their (Taliban) end,” he said.

Ghani’s office said in a statement it was committed to working together with the United States and allies for a “dignified and long-lasting peace.” He added that the country will be holding the presidential election this month.

Ghani is seeking a second tenure in the elections scheduled for September 28, but the Taliban have called for the elections to be cancelled as a precondition to signing a peace accord with the US.

The statement said that lasting peace required “a strong, legitimate and a legal government through the upcoming elections to take the ongoing peace process forward.”

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/08/Ghani-spokesman-Taliban-leaders-receive-orders-from-Qatar-to-kill-Afghans.html

German police suspend training in Kabul after attack

German police have suspended the training of Afghan officers in Kabul in the wake of last week’s deadly attacks by the Taliban, it was confirmed on Sunday.

At least 16 people were killed and more than 100 injured last Monday in a bomb attack on Kabul’s Green Village, a large fortified compound that houses aid agencies and international organizations.

The 22 members of the German Police Project Team (GPPT), in Kabul to train Afghan officers, were in the compound at the time and survived the attack, but their accommodation and offices are “no longer habitable,” a spokesman said.

As a result, German police have suspended the training, with half of the team flown out of Afghanistan while the rest are housed in Kabul’s German Embassy.

“The other half of the members of the… GPPT are flying out for the time being for a lack of accommodation,” an interior ministry spokesman said in a statement from Berlin.

“The question of the continued ability to work is currently being clarified,” the spokesman said.

He said “The continuation of the successful cooperation with the Afghan security authorities also depends on this.”

After another deadly bomb attack killed 12 more in Kabul last Thursday, US President Donald Trump announced that he had called off a secret summit with the Taliban, following a year-long diplomatic push to exit America’s longest war.

https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/world/2019/09/08/German-police-suspend-training-in-Kabul-after-attack-.html

Pompeo Says US Forces Won’t Leave Afghanistan Without Peace Deal

The Trump administration declined on Sunday to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord, which was scrapped after a terror attack resulting in the death of an American soldier in Kabul.

In an interview on Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Taliban had “tried to gain negotiating advantage by conducting terror attacks inside the country.” 

“We’re going to walk away from a deal if others try to use violence to achieve better ends in a negotiation,’’ he added.

Pompeo and other administration officials left open the door to a resumption of negotiations, and so did the Taliban. But any new talks may not happen for several months, as the sides feel mutual distrust, Afghan officials said, cited by the New York Times.

Despite criticism from several fellow Republicans, including national security adviser John R. Bolton, Trump has promised to reduce the number of American forces in Afghanistan, saying two weeks ago that their numbers would come down to 8,600 from the current level of about 14,000 –  far below the 100,000 troops that were based there during the height of the war.

Pompeo laid out two conditions for a withdrawal on Sunday: that violence be reduced and that another terrorist attack on the United States from Afghanistan never be permitted.

“We’re not going to withdraw our forces without making sure we achieve President Trump’s twin objectives,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

In an interview on Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Joseph Dunford, argued that it had been clear for years that the only lasting peace would come from some kind of political process between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

He said that his idea of a successful negotiation would be one that “reduces the level of violence” and sets up an intra-Afghan dialogue.

At the core of the tentative agreement between the United States and the Taliban were assurances from the group that it would not support international terrorist groups, and that Afghan soil would not be used for attacks against the West.

“We had the Taliban’s commitment to do that,” Pompeo said on Fox News on Sunday. “We had their commitment to break from Al Qaeda, publicly. And they would obviously have to deliver on that commitment. So we’ve made real progress, but in the end the Taliban overreached.”

Asked by Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation” if 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan was “where it stays for the foreseeable future,” Pompeo said that “ultimately, it’s the president’s decision.”

Military and intelligence officials cited by the New York Times said that the American forces are chiefly there to provide intelligence to the Afghans. General Dunford said Thursday that the planned reduction to 8,600 troops was based on a Pentagon estimate of how many it would take to assure that terrorist groups were not exploiting the power vacuum in the country.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201909091076755443-pompeo-usa-forces-wont-leave-afghanistan-without-peace-deal/