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Rouhani vows support for Afghan peace

Rouhani said that he hoped the peace efforts will work in Afghanistan’s favour and insisted on the implementation of joint economic plans between the two countries…reports Asian Lite News

Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who pledged his countrys support for an enduring and acceptable peace for the people of Afghanistan, an official statement.

According to the statement issued by Abdullah’s office, the meeting took place on Monday, reports TOLO News.

Rouhani said that he hoped the peace efforts will work in Afghanistan’s favour and insisted on the implementation of joint economic plans between the two countries, the statement said.

On his part, Abdullah spoke of recent developments in the peace efforts, the ongoing negotiations in Doha, and stressed Afghanistan’s will to achieve permanent peace with dignity.

He appreciated the “principled” stance of Iran in supporting the Afghan peace efforts and called for the continuation of support, the statement said.

Abdullah further he supports the effort to implement economic plans for the two countries and said that doing such could provide the foundation for peace and further regional cooperation.

The top Afghan official reached Iran on Sunday on a two-day visit, reports TOLO News.

His trip came amid ongoing peace negotiations between delegates from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban.

The peace negotiation officially started on September 12. But direct talks are yet to begin due to disagreements on procedural rules.

Before this trip, Abdullah had also visited Pakistan and India where he discussed the Afghan peace process.

Also read:Iran, Ukraine hold new round of talks on crashed plane

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Afghan Peace Talks Hit Snag Over Ghani Presidency

By visiting Islamabad and New Delhi, Abdullah Abdullah is positioning himself to step in as soon as the opportunity arises. This is not a process that is likely to reach fruition before the end of the year…writes Saeed Naqvi

Donald Trump with Robert O’Brien

President Donald Trump and his National Security Adviser, Robert C. O’ Brien are aching to announce troop withdrawal from Afghanistan as a last-minute sweetener for the American voter, rather like floral touches in an Indian wedding. Gen. Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is probably looking at life beyond Trump, unless there is a second coming. He is talking of ending the Afghan war “responsibly”, which means “not in a hurry”.

When President Barack Obama had set firm deadlines for withdrawal, I made an extensive survey of the country for the Observer Research Foundation. I had concluded that the US is “not leaving Afghanistan today; it is not leaving it tomorrow.” A super power enters a major theatre with one set of interests but, over a period of time, develops multiple compelling interests.

Why would a country, which is directly involved in 14 shooting wars in various parts of the globe, walk away from its longest war ever without any identifiable gain. Withdrawing empty handed would be an admission of defeat. Since this is not on the cards, the only conclusion one can draw is that a plan for the future is not being disclosed for now.

US involvement in Afghanistan has been a great tragedy, but its frequent false starts in a rush to the exit door and announce withdrawal, is material for a spoof by someone like Michael Moore. Take for instance the peace agreement the US signed with the Afghan Taliban on February 29 in Doha. So eager was US negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad to flourish a peace agreement just when the election campaign in the US was picking up that he would have inserted into the agreement anything the Taliban wished. Read the title headline of that agreement: it is patently absurd.

President Ashraf Ghani

“Agreement for bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America.” The fragility of the agreement is transparent in the pulls and counter pulls that have obviously gone into the headline. There is unbridgeable distance on the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s role, for instance. The Taliban will not talk to Ghani whom they describe quite brazenly as a US “toady”.

Ghani deludes himself if he imagines he is being “firm”. He is coming across to the world at large as a leader with a very thick skin. New Delhi wishes to keep appearances. In the trapeze act, South Block does not wish to be seen loosening the clasp of Ghani’s hand mid-air. The zero-sum game with Pakistan may operate as a factor but, in deference to realism, not a defining one.

If New Delhi is seen to be digging in for Ghani, it will only find itself embarrassed down the line because it is clear as daylight that intra Afghan talks will not move unless Ghani steps aside. By visiting Islamabad and New Delhi, Abdullah Abdullah is positioning himself to step in as soon as the opportunity arises. This is not a process that is likely to reach fruition before the end of the year. So, no confetti on election eve.

One of the advantages the US extracts from its position of being a superpower is to keep making mistakes almost willfully without any fear of being called to account. It is almost a forgotten story that in December 2001 NATO, helped by Russia, Iran, India and the Northern Alliance headquartered in the Panjsher valley defeated Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Punjsher was also the operational headquarters for the Tajik hero Ahmad Shah Masoud. So strong was Masoud’s opposition to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda, that he travelled extensively to acquaint various international fora of the danger that Al-Qaeda and Taliban posed to Afghanistan. His address to the European Parliament in the summer of 2001, months before 9/11 was historic by any yardstick.

Afghanistan’s Abdullah Abdullah meets Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi iin New Delhi

Complete silence on this speech of Masoud’s is surprising. His forces had picked up chatter about a possible Al-Qaeda action in the American mainland. He was speaking in Brussels. On September 9, precisely two days before September 11 (9/11) two Arabs, disguised as journalists, visited him in his hideout near the Tajik border for an interview. Their passports, it was revealed much later, had been forged in Brussels. These “journalists”, while saying goodbye to Masoud, detonated their vests. All three died instantly. Two days later, the twin towers came down in New York. Is there nothing here that deserves investigation?

Maybe not before the US elections, but is the curtain about to be brought down on US involvement? Whether Trump or Joe Biden wins the election, China, Russia, and Iran are likely to remain America’s adversarial concerns.

A little over a year ago, just when US military involvement in Syria was winding down, one common chatter was about Jabhat al Nusra and its variants being flown to newer theatres of action. Russia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Morgulov Igor Vladimirovich told a high-powered conference in New Delhi, with Zalmay Khalilzad in attendance, that militants were being flown from Syria to Northern Afghanistan. “Only the Afghan government and the US controls the Afghan air space.” The blame cannot be placed at any other door. Khalilzad mounted a token protest but nothing more.

U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad during the talks in Doha

The following Friday Iran’s Supreme leader, Ali Khamenei was more specific: Daesh groups were being flown to Afghanistan. The distinguished chronicler of the West Asian scene, Robert Fisk of the Independent made similar allegations. The allegation fitted neatly into the thesis that militants, trained to kill, cannot be sent to the slaughterhouse. They have to be deployed in other theatres where they are proximate to Muslim population into which militancy has to be injected to stir up the Islamic cauldron — Xinxiang, the Caucasus and a handful of Sunni enclaves in Iran.

(Saeed Naqvi is a senior commentator on political and diplomatic issues. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached on saeednaqvi@hotmail.com)

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-Top News Afghanistan

Afghan govt accused of misuse of Covid-19 funds

Amid reports of a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases in Afghanistan, the Kabul government is facing mounting criticism over alleged misuse of international funds to battle the pandemic, the media reported

A Kabul-based anti-corruption organization, Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA), on Friday said the government was not ready to provide the details of the money it spent for combating the pandemic, reports TOLO News.

“The Afghan government has not been accountable in spending Covid-19 budget, in many cases, either they provided us incomplete information or refrained from providing details about it,” said Sayed Ikram Afzali, the head of IWA.

The Ministry of Finance said the institutions that were assigned to fight the health crisis have not reported back about the scale and area of the fund spending.

“The overall money provided by international donors and the budget that was allocated by the government for fighting Covid-19 are estimated to 19.8 billion Afghanis,” said Shamroz Khan Masjidi, spokesman for the Ministry.

The Attorney General’s Office said that some cases of corruption against former and current officials of the Ministry of Public Health and a hospital officials in some provinces have been investigated.

“Investigation of the cases related to four provinces has been done. Our colleagues are in the process of concluding them. They will soon issue their verdicts on it,” TOLO News quoted Jamshid Rasouli, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, as saying.

On Friday, the Ministry of Public Health on Friday reported 77 new Covid-cases and two fatalities.

As a result the overall caseload in the country has now increased to 39,639, while the death toll stood at 1,472.

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Afghanistan Asia News USA

Trump pulls all troops out of Afghanistan by Xmas

Reduction of troops and to pull the country out of “endless wars”, have been a part of Trump’s re-election campaign promises…Reports Asian Lite News

US President Donald Trump has hinted that American troops stationed in Afghanistan should be “home by Christmas”. The Decision came following an announcement last month that Washington would withdraw thousands of military personnel from the war-torn country by November.

Taking to Twitter late Wednesday night, the President said: “We should have the small remaining number of our brave men and women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas.”

No were no other details available immediate on Trump’s remarks.

General Kenneth F. McKenzie, Jr., Commander, US Central Command.

Last month, Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of the US Central Command, told several media outlets that American troops in Afghanistan would also be decreased to about 4,500 level by early November.

In August, Pentagon chief Mark Esper also confirmed that the troops would be lowered to less than 5,000 by the end of November.

The previous month, the Pentagon had said that Washington maintained its force level in Afghanistan at mid-8,000s, meeting the conditions of the US-Taliban agreement signed in late February.

WASHINGTON, July 16, 2019 (Xinhua) — U.S. Secretary of Defense nominee Mark Esper testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, on July 16, 2019. (Xinhua/Ting Shen/IANS)


The agreement had called for a full withdrawal of the US military forces from Afghanistan by May 2021 if the Taliban meets the conditions of the deal, including severing ties with terrorist groups.

Reduction of troops and to pull the country out of “endless wars”, have been a part of Trump’s re-election campaign promises.

The war in Afghanistan, which has caused about 2,400 US military deaths, is the longest one in American history.

Also read:Rouhani hopes for durable peace in Afghanistan