Tag Archives: Afghanistan

NATO2030: Foreign ministers focus on future

Brussels 01.12.2020 NATO Foreign Ministers met virtually on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 to discuss key issues for the Alliance. They include an outside expert panel report on how to further adapt NATO for the future, Russia’s military build-up and NATO’s training mission in Afghanistan.

“We have just concluded the first session of this meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers. We had a good, constructive exchange. And I am looking forward to when I can once again welcome all the ministers here in Brussels, in person. We discussed NATO2030 and how to further adapt our Alliance for the future. We also addressed Russia. And the situation in Afghanistan.

NATO supports the Afghan peace process. And as part of that, we have adjusted our presence. While United States has decided to further reduce its troop numbers to 2,500, NATO’s training mission continues. And over half of our forces are, now, non-US. Ministers made clear that all Allies remain committed to the mission. And to supporting Afghan security forces in the fight against terrorism.As we continue to assess the situation in Afghanistan, it is clear that we will face a turning point early next year.

If we stay, we risk continued fighting. And an even longer-term engagement.
If we leave, we risk Afghanistan once again becoming a safe haven for international terrorists. And the loss of the gains made with such sacrifice.

So there is a price for staying longer. But there is also a price for leaving too soon. We will have to take some hard decisions when NATO defence ministers meet next February. But whatever we decide, we must do it in a coordinated and orderly way.

We also discussed Russia’s continued military build-up in our neighbourhood. As well as arms control. We see Russia violating and undermining treaties. And deploying new weapons. Ministers expressed support for preserving limitations of nuclear weapons. And for developing a more comprehensive arms control regime. We all know that the New START treaty will expire next February, so time is running out. We welcome the dialogue between the United States and Russia to find a way forward. Because we should not find ourselves in a situation where there is no agreement regulating the number of nuclear warheads. We are adapting NATO’s deterrence posture to address Russia’s destabilising actions. At the same time, we all agree that we must continue to pursue dialogue with Russia.

We also addressed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. Working together here at NATO, we recently developed a military de-confliction mechanism between Greece and Turkey. A hotline between the two Allies. And the cancellation of specific military exercises. I am committed to strengthening this mechanism further, to build more comprehensive confidence-building measures.

We also discussed the NATO2030 project on how we can make our strong Alliance even stronger. Earlier this year, I appointed a group of experts to support my work on NATO’s continued adaptation. The group, led by co-chairs Thomas de Maizière and Wess Mitchell, has now finalised its work. Today the co-chairs briefed Ministers on their findings. And we have just made their report public. I want to thank all the members of the group for their efforts and dedication.

Their report shows that NATO is agile. It recognises that in recent years we have been able to adapt, both militarily and politically. The report also demonstrates that political consultation and decision-making work at NATO. So we build on solid foundations. he group’s work concludes today, and is one input into NATO2030.

I will continue to consult with civil society, parliamentarians, young leaders, the private sector, and of course with Allies. I will then prepare my recommendations for NATO Leaders when they meet next year. The goal is to keep NATO as a strong military Alliance. Make it more united politically. And with a more global approach”

“Donors have pledged more than $ 3 billion for the first year of the upcoming four-year plan,” running from 2021 to 2024, “with annual pledges expected to remain at that same level year after year, this is expected to add up to $ 12 billion dollars over four years, ” Ville Skinnari, Finnish Minister for Development Cooperation and Foreign Trade said. Afghanistan will receive up to $ 12 billion in aid from donor countries by 2024, under certain conditions, the Finnish Minister of Cooperation said on Tuesday after a two-day conference in Geneva and by video conference on November 24.

Taliban launches multiple attacks

Widespread fighting between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban was reported in 18 provinces across Afghanistan on September 12 while the delegates from representing the state and militants started the peace negotiation talks in Doha, Qatar. (Image above: illustration, MoD Afghanistan courtesy).

The Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) confirmed that the Taliban launched attacks on Afghan security forces in 18 provinces since last night.

However the majority of the assaults were reported from Balkh, Jawzjan, Faryab, Ghor, Badghis, Herat, Ghazni and Uruzgan provinces.

Meanwhile, the Taliban in a statement said that as part of a goodwill gesture, they have on released 22 Afghan soldiers in Helmand province.

Local officials in northern Afghanistan said that last night the Taliban launched attacks in Balkh and Jawzjan provinces.

Fighting was also reported in Faryab:

“The Taliban today attacked the security forces in Shireen Tagab district, but no casualties were sustained by the security forces. In recent days, the Taliban had no military victories on the battlefield,” said Naqibullah Fayeq, the governor of Faryab province.

“The Taliban want to show their military power during the negotiations, they want to show that if you do not accept our demands, then we have the capacity to attack at any time and at any place,” said Lotufullah Mashal, a former spokesman for the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

The Taliban also launched attacks in the following provinces: Ghor, Badghis and Herat.

“Over the past 24 hours, the Taliban group launched attacks on Afghan security and defense forces in over 15 provinces of the country, but the Afghan security and defense forces repelled the Taliban’s attacks and inflicted heavy losses on the group,” said Rohullah Ahmadzai, a spokesman for the Ministry of Defense.

Attacks were also reported in provinces Uruzgan, Kunduz and Helmand.

“The armed opponents launched attacks on the security and defense forces, but the Taliban were repelled by the Afghan Air Force, which resulted in the killing of at least five Taliban fighters,” said Riaz Rabbani, the head of the Kunduz provincial council.

“Armed opponents launched attacks, but the Afghan security and defense forces repelled the attacks,” said Zargai Ebadi, a spokesman for the Uruzgan governor.

Afghan civilians sincerely hope that a ceasefire is announced in the intra-Afghan talks.

The opening ceremony for intra-Afghan talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents began in Qatar’s capital Doha on Saturday, September 11, launching the start of negotiations aimed at ending two decades of war. The ceremony began at 9 a.m. (0600 GMT) with a recitation from the Quran, followed by opening comments by Qatar’s foreign minister. 

Major players in the process, including Afghanistan’s peace council chairman Dr. Abdullah Abdullah and Taliban leader Mullah Baradar Akhund, and U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo are also scheduled to speak. The opening ceremony for talks between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents began in Qatar’s capital Doha on Saturday, September 12, marking the start of negotiations aimed at ending two decades of war that has killed tens of thousands of combatants and civilians. The 19-year conflict is also the United States’ longest overseas military action, vexing three successive presidents. President Trump administration invests a lot of efforts in achieving the peace agreement between the Afghan government and Taliban before November 3 elections in the United States.

Borrell welcomes intra-afghan talks

“The European Union welcomes the launch of the direct Intra-Afghan Negotiations between the Government of Afghanistan and the Taliban mouvement” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell. He described the talks which started in Doha, capital of Qatar, as a “ground-breaking moment”.

It marks the start of a genuine peace process, which should lead to the peace that the people of Afghanistan deserve and have long demanded.

“As the European Union, we urge the parties to accompany the start of the peace talks with an immediate, comprehensive, nationwide and unconditional ceasefire.

“With this new chapter opening, a mere reduction of violence is no longer enough. Now all preconditions are fulfilled, nothing should prevent a ceasefire from being accepted and implemented by both parties” the head of the European diplomacy continued.

“This process must now be truly owned and led by Afghans. International partners must respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence when supporting these negotiations.

It must preserve and build on the political, economic and social achievements of the citizens of Afghanistan since 2001, especially on women’s rights” Borrell said.

“To achieve this, the European Union is working with all parties. We want to ensure that peace negotiations are inclusive and respectful of the wish of Afghans to live in a peaceful, secure and prosperous country. A country with economic development and growth, providing new opportunities for its citizens, where rights are upheld and vulnerable groups are protected”.

“Let the start of these negotiations be the much-needed and long overdue beginning of a new and more peaceful chapter for Afghanistan”.

However, the experts say that assembling all groups involved in the conflict at the negotiating table doesn’t necessarily mean they all believe a mutually acceptable political settlement. It can be tactical for all sides to demonstrate that the situaiton is evolving, and for the government in Kabul to show to the international community the progress they have achieved.

The success of peace negotiations depends directly on the resources of the groups involved and their capablities to continue fighting. However it also depends on them changing their perception of the conflict which in almost two decades has shown that neighter of the sides is capable of the definitive victory.

While all parties express their willingness to end the prtotracted conflict, there are doubts whether the peace efforts could have got this far without US pressure for intra-Afghan negotiations to begin. In spite of the the US diplomatic involvement aimed at the end of the violence, and Trump administration insistance to reach the deal before the US election on November 3, the perspectives of implementing it is not guaranteed.

The talks could be concluded with a de jure peace agreement being imposed on Afghanistan, however there are doubts in sincere will of the envolved parties to respect it on long term, while Taliban has never renounced its ambition to ascend power in Kabul. In some areas the differences are still remarkable: the administration of the President Ashraf Ghani is seraching for preservation of numerous rights, namely women’s rights. Among the delegation of the 21 government negociators, who came to Doha, four are women, while among Taliban they are none.

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, said that “Afghan society doesn’t have a deadline”. Taking into consideration the massive human cost of the two decades of war, these peace efforts must be given a genuine chance – along with the necessary time and space to succeed, the experts conclude.

Jalalabad: IS prisoners at large

A gunbattle between militants and Afghan security forces raged at a prison in the eastern city of Jalalabad on August 3, Monday, with at least 24 people killed after the overnight assault led to a mass jailbreak.

The attack began on August 2, Sunday evening with car bomb detonated at the prison gate, and there were numerous other blasts heard as the attackers gunmen opened fire on security guards.

Some 30 militants involved in the attack on the prison, where some 2,000 prisoners were held, according to Sohrab Qaderi, a lawmaker in the capital of Nangarhar province.

Three militants were killed during the initial attack and gunbattle overnight, while at least 21 civilians and members of security forces died in the fighting, and 43 were wounded, Attaullah Khugyani, a spokesman for the governor said.

Police were forced to divert manpower to recapture escaped prisoners amid the chaos, and by noon on Monday, August 3, around 1,000 had been caught, Qaderi said, without elaborating on how many were still at large.

Afghan special forces arrived to support police, according to officials, and civilians were being evacuated from areas surrounding the prison, where Taliban and IS prisoners were being held along with ordinary criminals.

Meanwhile the city was in lockdown.

“The whole city of Jalalabad is under curfew, shops are closed,” Qaderi said. “Jalalabad is completely empty.”

Some news agencies refer to IS claim of responsibility for the attack, which came a day after the Afghan intelligence agency said special forces had killed a senior commander of the group near Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar.

Local officials in Nangarhar province said Monday that 21 have died and 43 have been wounded in the attack on a prison in PD4 of Jalalabad city that began on Sunday evening and is still ongoing.

The governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told TOLOnews that the clash is still ongoing close to the prison in PD4 in Jalalabad city and has continued for so long because attackers “use shopping malls as cover.”

The attack has continued for 13 hours, at the time of this report.
According to Khogyani, so far 21 civilian’s dead bodies and 43 wounded people have been transferred to the provincial hospital, and the wounded people are in stable condition.
So far three attackers were killed in the clash, and the total number of attackers is unknown, Khogyani said. But the remaining attackers will also be taken out “soon,” he said.

An Afghan commando in Jalalabad said the number of attackers may be “over twenty.”
Another credible source confirmed that the clash inside the prison is still ongoing and said that 700 inmates who fled the prison have been re-captured. A total of 1,500 inmates were in the prison originally, the source said.

A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle full of explosives at the entrance gate of the prison in PD4 of Jalalabad city at 6:44 pm on Sunday.

Emal Neyazi, Nangarhar’s police chief, confirmed on August 2, Sunday, to a TOLOnews reporter in the area that 2 blasts occurred inside the prison.

Eyewitnesses say that the attack began with a car bomb exploding at the prison entrance gate, and the way was opened for the attackers and they clashed with the security forces.

Local media reports say Daesh has claimed responsibility, but this is unconfirmed.
The Taliban denies involvement in the attack.

The attack began on the last day of the Eid ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Afghanistan: explosion at Helmand market

A car bombing and mortar shells fired at a crowded market in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province on Monday, Juin 29, killed 23 people, including children, a statement from a provincial governor’s office said.

The attack could not be independently confirmed as the Taliban controlled area, is remote and inaccessible to reporters. At present both the Taliban and the Afghan military blamed each other for the killings of the civilians.

The statement from the office of the Helmand province governor, General Mohammad Yasin, did not provide further details and there was no claim of responsibility for the bombing.

A Taliban spokesman, Qari Yusouf Ahmadi, denied the insurgents were involved in the attack. The Taliban claimed the military fired mortars into the market while the military said that on contrary it was a car bomb and mortar shells fired by the insurgents targeted the civilians.

The army said there was no military activity in the area on Juin 29 and that two Taliban fighters were also killed when the car bomb detonated at the marketplace. Animals brought for sale – sheep and goats – were also killed.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the “brutal and inhumane act.”

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan once again calls on the Taliban to refrain from war and violence and to accept the will of the Afghan people, which is the end of the war and the start of negotiations,” Ghani’s statement said.

Kabul explosion killed imam

Kabul bomb explosion inside a mosque killed two people, including the imam, and wounding two others an official of Afghanistan government said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Islamic State (Daesh) has been active in Kabul in recent weeks and has in the past carried out attacks inside mosques in Afghanistan.

Taliban insurgents insist they have never carried out an attack inside of a mosque.

Mullah Mohammad Ayaz Niazi was one of the two people killed in June 2 attack, Arian said. He was seriously wounded in the explosion and died later at a hospital.

Niazi was a well known cleric who was active as Friday prayer leader at the mosque. Next to his religious convictions he carried out duties as Kabul University professor in the Islamic Law department.

Tariq Arian, spokesman for Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry, said the bomb targeted the Wazir Akber Khan Mosque at around 7:25 p.m., when worshippers had gathered for evening prayers. The mosque is located in a high-security diplomatic area near the offices of several international organizations and embassies.

Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, tweeted that the government strongly condemned the attack, saying it “reveals the brutality and inhumanity of those who purposefully perpetrate violence against our Ulema and innocent people.”

Attacks against worshippers have increased in Afghanistan: Last month, an unknown number of attackers stormed a mosque in northern Parwan province, killing 11 and wounding several others.

NATO welcomes Afghan Eid al-Fitr ceasefire

NATO has welcomed the announcement of a three-day cease-fire in Afghanistan during the Muslim celebration of the end of Ramadan – Eid al-Fitr.

“I welcome the statements by the government of Afghanistan & the Taliban on a 3-day ceasefire over Eid. All parties should seize this opportunity for peace, for the benefit of all Afghans,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on his Twitter micro blog on May 23.

NATO remains committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security,” he underlined.

In a message preceeding the celebrations, the insurgents made the surprise announcement amid escalating conflict and a fragile peace process, directing militants to stay out of areas under the government control, but adding government forces could visit Taliban-controlled areas.

In a similar holiday truce two years ago, there were unprecedented scenes of foes embracing each other and taking selfies.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani welcomed the announcement, explaining that he instructed the military to comply.

“President Ghani today initiated a process to release up to 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a good will gesture in response to the Taliban’s announcement of a ceasefire during Eid,” Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi announced on Twitter.

Borrell: Afghan people deserve peace

“There are few words that can do justice to the horrors we have witnessed today in Afghanistan. At the same moment an attack was targeting a maternity ward in Kabul, a terrorist detonated his bomb in the middle of a funeral in Nangarhar. Dozens of innocent civilians were killed or injured in these most reprehensible acts of terror” reads the statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell on two attacks targeting civilians in Kabul and Nangarhar.

“To target and kill mothers, newly born babies and nurses, as well as bereaved and mourning families, are acts of evil and show an appalling degree of inhumanity. The attack on the Dasht-e-Barchi hospital maternity ward, run by Médecins Sans Frontières, also seems to have targeted international aid workers. The European Union stands in solidarity with them. These acts constitute clear violations of International Humanitarian Law, for which the perpetrators will have to bear the consequences. Our hearts go out to those who lost loved ones and we wish those who were injured a quick recovery.

“The Afghan people deserve peace. For too long has their country been ripped apart by terrorism and violence that no political objective can ever justify. A permanent ceasefire is absolutely vital, and the European Union calls on all stakeholders in Afghanistan and the region to make it a reality.”

Afghanistan peace process in stalemate

“On Afghanistan, we have discussing the situation where the country is in a political and military stalemate. The peace process is not advancing fast enough, although there have been some positive signs such as the first exchange of prisoners between the Taliban and the Afghan Government” said in his opening remarks the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at the pressconference in Brussels.

“For our part, together with international and local partners, including Afghan civil society, the EU is calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, so that the country can face the current crisis”.

Release of 5K Taliban prisoners

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a decree promising to release 1,500 prisoners belonging to Taliban as a goodwill gesture to get intra-Afghan negotiations started. (Image: social media)

A recent peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban called for the release of up to 5,000 prisoners as precondition of the negotiations.

There was no official response from the Taliban, but the Associated Press news agency claims they saw a letter that Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, the head of the Taliban’s Prisoners Commission, sent to the prisoners, their families and Taliban leaders promising there would be no intra-Afghan talks until all the prisoners are released.

In a letter, sent around last weekend, President Ghani wrote that Taliban would verify that each prisoner released is among those on the list given to an American delegation.

The first round of 1,500 prisoners will be selected based on age, health and the length of their sentences already served. Each released Talib will be biometrically identified, and obliged to sign a written guarantee that they will not return to the battlefield. Taken in condiseration that the majority of them are illiterate, highly likelty that they will use ink to make an fingerpirnt on the document.

The remaining 3,500 prisoners will be released after intra-Afghan negotiations start and 500 will be released every two weeks providing the Taliban reduce violence on the battlefield, Ghani’s decree said.

« Older Entries