Kabul Afghanistan Taliban Crisis News Today Highlights, Taliban govt formation news Today September 5 Highlights: Will the Taliban announce the formation of their government on September 11 to coincide with the 9/11 attacks anniversary? This buzz is gaining traction as the group once again postponed the government announcement on Saturday. Taliban spokesperson Zabihulla Mujahid has maintained that the reason for the delay is all factions working to arrive at a consensus. The Taliban is not a unified group with a central command structure. Rather, it constitutes of several factions and former warlords and sympathizers. Now that the group has taken over Afghanistan, these factions are demanding their share in the power structure. As of now, the tentative contours that have emerged from Kabul and elsewhere say that 50 per cent of the government will constitute of the Taliban men. The rest of the 50 per cent will be divided among the Haqqani network, Jamiat e Islami Afghanistan Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. An AP report said that former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s brother is also likely to get some representation. Amid this factionalism, there is an issue of female voices in the new Taliban government. The group has said that though there is no question of women as some ministers, they can get low-ranking jobs.
Cities such as Herat and Kabul are witnessing rare protests by women who are staging sit-ins demanding fair representation in the new Afghan government. While these are the factors within the country, there are many outside Afghanistan who may be playing a covert game. The prime actor is Pakistan. On Saturday, ISI Chief visited Kabul.
Meanwhile, the Taliban and opposition forces battled on Saturday to control the Panjshir Valley, the last Afghan province holding out against the Taliban, as the top US general warned of a “civil war” if the Islamists failed to consolidate power, reported Reuters. Both sides claimed to have the upper hand in Panjshir but neither could produce conclusive evidence to prove it.
Stay with us as we bring you the latest on the ever-changing scenarios from Afghanistan:
Taliban’s Mullah Baradar met with Martin Griffiths, UN under-secy-general for humanitarian affairs, on Sunday at the foreign ministry in Kabul, where Griffiths said UN will continue its support & cooperation with Afghanistan, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem tweeted: TOLO news (ANI)
The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee says some Americans who have been trying to get out of Afghanistan since the US military left are sitting in airplanes at an airport ready to leave but the Taliban are not letting them take off. Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas says there are six airplanes at the Mazar-e-Sharif airport with American citizens on board, along with their Afghan interpreters, and the Taliban are “holding them hostage” right now.
A worker at the Mazar-e-Sharif airport confirmed several aircraft he believes were chartered by the US are parked at the airport. Taliban have prevented them from leaving, saying they wanted to check the documents of those on board, many of whom do not have passports or visas. The airport official did not want to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject.
McCaul, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” says the Taliban have made demands. He gave no specifics but said he’s worried “They’re going to demand more and more, whether it be cash or legitimacy as the government of Afghanistan.” He said the aircraft have been at the airport for “the last couple days.” (AP)
Germany wants to talk to the Taliban about how to evacuate its remaining local contract workers from Afghanistan, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday, adding it was a good sign that the airport in Kabul could be used for flights again.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief has said the bloc is ready to engage with the new Taliban government in Kabul but the Islamist group must respect human rights, including those of women, and not let Afghanistan become a base for terrorism.
“We need to talk to the Taliban about how we can continue to get people who worked for Germany out of the country and to safety,” Merkel said. International aid organisations should also be able to improve the humanitarian situation there, she added.
The Taliban have yet to name a government more than two weeks after they swept back into power. Their 1996-2001 rule was marked by violent punishments and a ban on schooling or work for women and girls, and many Afghans and foreign governments fear a return to such practices. The militants say they have changed but have yet to spell out what rules they will enforce. (Reuters)
The Taliban said on Sunday their forces had fought their way into the provincial capital of the Panjshir valley, their latest claim of progress in fighting against opposition forces holding out in the area north of Kabul.
There was no immediate response from the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRFA), which groups opposition forces. It had said earlier the Taliban “propaganda machine” was trying to spread distracting messages and that it had pushed Taliban forces back from another part of the valley.
Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said on Twitter the police headquarters and district centre of Rukhah, adjacent to the provincial capital Bazarak, had fallen, and opposition forces had suffered numerous casualties, with large numbers of prisoners and captured vehicles, weapons and ammunition. Fighting was underway in Bazarak, he said. It was not possible to confirm the report, which was echoed on other Taliban Twitter accounts.
Earlier on Sunday NRFA spokesman Fahim Dashti said Parian district, at the northeastern end of Panjshir, which the Taliban have previously said they had taken, had been cleared and up to 1,000 Taliban, including Pakistanis and other foreigners had been blocked off and captured. It was not possible to confirm that independently. “The resistance forces are ready to continue their defence against any form of aggression,” Dashti said.
On Saturday, Italian aid group Emergency said Taliban fighters had reached the trauma hospital it operates in Anabah district, within the Panjshir valley. Taliban officials have said previously their forces had secured full control of Panjshir but fighting has been continuing for days, with each side saying it had inflicted large numbers of casualties. Ahmad Massoud, leader of the NRFA, has pledged to continue
resisting the offensive and has called for international support.
Panjshir, a rugged mountainous valley north of Kabul still littered with the wreckage of destroyed Soviet tanks, has proved very difficult to overcome in the past. Under Massoud’s late father, Ahmad Shah Massoud, it resisted both the invading Soviet army and the previous Taliban government. On Sunday, Massoud said hundreds of Taliban fighters had surrendered to NRFA forces, which included remnants of regular Afghan army and special forces units as well as local militia fighters. It was not clear if that was a separate claim.
The Panjshir fighting has been the most prominent example of resistance to the Taliban, whose forces swept into Kabul on Aug. 15 as the Western-backed government collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. But small individual protests for women’s rights or in defence of the green, red and black tricolour flag of Afghanistan have also been held in different cities. Massoud originally called for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and several attempts at talks were held but they eventually broke down, with each side blaming the other for their failure. (Reuters)
Qatar has sent a plane carrying food and medical goods to Kabul, part of an effort to provide badly needed supplies to Afghanistan as the country faces a halt in most Western aid.
Qatar’s Foreign Ministry said the plane had landed at Kabul airport on Sunday with 26 tons of medical and food aid, the second such shipment in as many days.
The tiny Gulf state of Qatar has taken an outsized role in evauation efforts as U.S. forces completed their withdrawal from the country last week. It’s also expected to play an important political role in what comes next for Afghanistan. (AP)
Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers resumed some domestic passenger flights to and from Kabul on Sunday, as the religious militia’s fighters stepped up an assault on the last remaining pocket of resistance being led by fighters opposed to their rule.
The anti-Taliban fighters in Panjshir province, north of the Afghan capital, are being led by former vice president Amrullah Saleh, who has appealed for humanitarian aid to help the thousands of people displaced by the fighting.
A senior Taliban spokesman tweeted Sunday that Taliban troops had overrun Rokha district, one of largest of eight districts in Panjshir. Several Taliban delegations have attempted negotiations with the holdouts there, but talks have failed to gain traction.
Saleh fled to Panjshir after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani quit Afghanistan as the Taliban marched on the capital. The fighters’ lightning blitz across the country took less than a week to overrun some 300,000 government troops, most of whom surrendered or fled. Since the takeover, the Taliban have sought to recast the group as a different from its 1990s incarnation, when they last ruled the country and enforced strict controls across society.
Women and girls were denied work and education, men were forced to grow beards, and television and music were banned. Now, the world is waiting to see the face of the new government, and many Afghans remain skeptical. In the weeks since they took power, signals have been mixed: government employees including women have been asked to return to work, but some women were later ordered home by lower-ranking Taliban.
Universities and schools have been ordered open, but fear has kept both students and teachers away. Women have demonstrated peacefully, some even having conversations about their rights with Taliban leaders. But some have been dispersed by Taliban special forces firing in the air. Kabul’s streets are again clogged with traffic, as Taliban fighters patrol in pickup trucks and police vehicles — brandishing their automatic weapons and flying the Taliban’s white flag.
Still, some signs of normalcy have returned: women are on the streets, schools have opened, and moneychangers work the street corners. Traffic police have returned to duty, and giant cement barriers sealing off upscale neighbourhoods have been removed.
As Taliban leaders hold meetings and promise a government in the coming days, technical teams from Qatar and Turkey are working to get the civilian airport operational. On Saturday, state-run Ariana Airlines made its first domestic flights, which continued on Sunday. The airport is without radar facilities, so flights are restricted to daylight hours to allow for visual landing, said Kabul station manager Shershah Stor.
Several countries have also been bringing in humanitarian supplies. The Gulf state of Qatar, where the Taliban maintained a political office since 2013, is making daily flights into Kabul, delivering humanitarian aid for the war-weary nation. Bahrain also announced humanitarian assistance deliveries. (AP)
A Taliban spokesperson has told a German newspaper that his group wants to establish diplomatic relations with Germany. Zabihullah Mujahid tells the weekly Welt am Sonntag that “we want strong and official diplomatic relations to Germany.”
The newspaper reported Sunday that the Taliban also hope for financial support from Germany as well as humanitarian aid and cooperation regarding Afghanistan’s health care system, education and agriculture. The German government has been reserved about establishing official ties with the Taliban. Officials say talks are needed to get the remaining former Afghan staffers who worked for the Germans out of the country.
According to the newspaper, Mujahid said it was unfortunate Germany had cooperated with the Americans during the war “but that has now been forgiven.” (AP)
Italy plans to move its Afghan embassy to Doha, in Qatar, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday, the latest indication of Western diplomats setting up permanently outside Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover. The announcement follows earlier signals that Western countries and the European Union, which have closed their missions in Kabul, may use the Gulf state as an offshore hub for their diplomatic relations with Afghanistan.
Many diplomats flew to the Gulf state, which has hosted the Taliban’s political office since 2013, after evacuating the Afghan capital late last month.China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey have kept their embassies in the Afghan capital open, increasing their
opportunities to directly influence a new government, which is in the process of being formed.
“I will meet today with the Emir of Qatar and then with the foreign minister because it is our intention to relocate the embassy we had in Kabul to Doha,” said Di Maio, who was speaking in a video call from Doha to businessmen and politicians attending a business conference in Cernobbio on Lake Como.”Qatar has become the centre of diplomatic relations with respect to this Afghan government that is being formed,” Di Maio said.
Sources within the Taliban have said its co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will lead a new Afghan government set to be announced soon.The United States suspended operations at its Kabul embassy on Aug. 31, a day after Washington completed the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, ending 20 years of war that culminated in the militant Taliban’s return to power. (Reuters)
Pope Francis said on Sunday that he was praying that many countries take Afghan refugees and, in an apparent reference to the Taliban’s past restrictions on schooling for women, said it is essential that young Afghans receive an education.
“In these moments of upheaval, in which Afghans are seeking refuge, I pray for the most vulnerable among them,” he told hundreds of people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly blessing. (Reuters)
With Pakistan’s intelligence chief dashing to Afghanistan amidst efforts by the Taliban to finalise a government, former Indian diplomats on Sunday said the situation in the war-torn country was still in a “flux” and India has no other option but to wait and watch, while avoiding any “knee-jerk reaction”. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General (DG) Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed rushed to Kabul on an unannounced visit. Hameed’s visit to Afghanistan comes as pressure is mounting on the Taliban to form an inclusive government acceptable to the international community. Anil Wadhwa, who served as Secretary (East) in the Ministry of External Affairs before retiring in 2017, said India should avoid any knee-jerk reaction to the developments in Afghanistan and follow a wait and watch policy. “India should avoid a knee-jerk reaction because it remains to be seen what kind of government is formed by the Taliban, whether it is an inclusive government or not. No knee jerk reaction (India should), just wait and see how the situation emerges,” Wadhwa said. (PTI)
Angelina Jolie has expressed concern about the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan. The actress, who is also a special envoy to the UN’s high commissioner for refugees, told a German newspaper Sunday she doesn’t think the incoming government in Afghanistan could simply turn back the clock so that everything would be like 20 years ago. But she still has big worries about the situation for women there. Jolie told the weekly Welt am Sonntag: “I’m thinking of all the women and girls who don’t know now if they can go back to work or school. And I’m thinking of the young Afghans who are worried that they will lose their freedom.” (AP)
Pope Francis said on Sunday that he was praying that many countries take Afghan refugees and, in an apparent reference to the Taliban’s past restrictions on schooling for women, said it is essential that young Afghans receive an education. “In these moments of upheaval, in which Afghans are seeking refuge, I pray for the most vulnerable among them,” he told hundreds of people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly blessing. (Reuters)
Italy plans to move its Afghan embassy to Doha, in Qatar, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Sunday, the latest indication of Western diplomats setting up permanently outside Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover. The announcement follows earlier signals that Western countries and the European Union, which have closed their missions in Kabul, may use the Gulf state as an offshore hub for their diplomatic relations with Afghanistan. Many diplomats flew to the Gulf state, which has hosted the Taliban’s political office since 2013, after evacuating the Afghan capital late last month. China, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey have kept their embassies in the Afghan capital open, increasing their opportunities to directly influence a new government, which is in the process of being formed.” (Reuters)
Qatar has flown humanitarian aid into Kabul and said it will operate daily aid flights to Afghanistan over the next few days, providing much-needed supplies following a hiatus in much Western aid due to Taliban’s takeover last month. Qatar has emerged as a key interlocutor between western nations and the Taliban, after developing close ties with the militant group through hosting its political office since 2013. A Qatari aid flight carrying medical supplies and food products arrived in Kabul on Saturday and Qatar Ambassador to Afghanistan Saeed bin Mubarak Al Khayareen was at the airport for its arrival, the Gulf State’s foreign ministry said. Qatar has helped reopen the airport, which closed for several days after the United States-led airlift of its citizens, Afghans and other nationals ended last month. Half of Afghanistan’s 40 million people, including 10 million children, required humanitarian assistance as of the start of this year, the International Organization for Migration said late last month, adding that needs were expected to rise. (Reuters)
A wary China is seeking to strike a common position with Afghanistan’s key neighbour Iran to firm up its growing role in the war-torn country as it waits for the Taliban to form an “open and inclusive” government that makes a “clean break” from all terrorist groups. China is already coordinating its evolving policy on Afghanistan with its “all-weather ally” Pakistan and Russia which also share borders with Afghanistan. Beijing, which has kept its Embassy open in Kabul along with Pakistan and Russia, is awaiting the formation of a government by the Taliban to decide on recognising it amidst firm indications by the US, the UK and other western countries that they will not be in a hurry to endorse the new government. China is also keeping a close watch on the Panjshir Valley fighting between the Taliban and the militias of Ahmad Massoud-led National Resistance Front (NRF) which has reportedly delayed the formation of the new government in Afghanistan. On Saturday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held a telephonic conversation with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian. Iran, which is struggling under the US sanctions over its nuclear policy, has warmed up to China in recent years with Beijing steadily expanding its investments in the oil-rich nation which shares its borders with Pakistan. In his talks with Amir-Abdollahian, Wang said China has noted that the Taliban might announce the formation of a new government in the coming days. (PTI)
U.S. Representative Mike Waltz has called on the State Department to work with non-governmental organizations that he said are trying to clear charter flights to evacuate Americans and at-risk allies still hiding in several Afghan cities. In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday, the Republican lawmaker and former White House official said he had been told by several NGOs that there were manifested charter flights “available, funded, and ready to fly” people out. Groups of American citizens, legal permanent residents, and Afghans eligible for special visas were hiding near airports waiting for clearance to depart the country, Waltz, a decorated veteran, said.Roughly 124,000 people were evacuated last month from Kabul in a massive U.S.-led airlift of U.S. and other foreign citizens as well as vulnerable Afghans as the Taliban took control there. (Reuters)
Washington: The top US military general has thanked members of the 10th Mountain Division for their service in Afghanistan during the evacuation of Americans, Afghans and others over the past several weeks. Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with military police soldiers at the Rhine Ordnance Barracks in Germany on Saturday. Standing outside talking to a group, he asked them, “You were there for the bombing?” Heads nodded and a chorus of voices answered, “yes, sir.” A suicide bombing by the Islamic State group near a gate at the Kabul airport more than a week ago killed 13 US service members as well as 169 Afghans who were crowded around the entry, desperate to get on flights out of Afghanistan. “You guys did an incredible job, all of you” Army, Navy, Marines, the Air Force “flying out 124,000 people. That’s what you saved,” Milley told the soldiers. He said they “showed enormous courage discipline and capability, working together. It’s something you should always be proud of… This will be a moment that you’ll always remember.” (AP)
Some domestic flights have resumed at Afghanistan’s international airport in Kabul, with the state-run Ariana Afghan Airline operating flights to three provinces. Shershah Stor, the airline’s station manager at the airport, told The Associated Press on Sunday that the flights took place Saturday to western Herat, southern Kandahar and northern Balkh provinces. He said the flights were conducted without a functioning radar system at the airport. Stor said three more flights are scheduled Sunday to the same provinces. A team of Qatari and Turkish technicians arrived in Kabul last week to help restart operations at the airport, which the U.N. says is crucial to providing the country with humanitarian assistance. It remains to be seen, however, whether any commercial airlines will be willing to offer service. (AP)
Iran’s president is calling for elections in Afghanistan to determine the future of the country, where he hopes peace will return after Western troops have left and the Taliban have seized control. Speaking on state TV on Saturday, Ebrahim Raisi said that the Afghan people should vote to determine their own government “as soon as possible.” “A government should be established there which is elected by the votes and the will of the people,” he said. “The Islamic Republic has always sought peace and calm in Afghanistan, and an end to bloodshed and fratricide, and the sovereignty of the people’s will. We support a government elected by the Afghan people,” he added. (AP)
Taliban and opposition forces battled on Saturday to control the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, the last Afghan province holding out against the militant group, as the top U.S. general warned of a “civil war” if the Islamists failed to consolidate power. Both sides claimed to have the upper hand in Panjshir but neither could produce conclusive evidence to prove it. The Taliban, which swept through the country ahead of the final withdrawal of U.S.-led forces this week, were unable to control the valley when they ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. Taliban spokesman Bilal Karimi said the districts of Khinj and Unabah had been taken, giving Taliban forces control of four of the province’s seven districts. “The Mujahideen (Taliban fighters) are advancing toward the centre (of the province),” he said on Twitter. But the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, grouping forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said it surrounded “thousands of terrorists” in Khawak pass and the Taliban had abandoned vehicles and equipment in the Dashte Rewak area. (Reuters)
Pakistan’s powerful intelligence chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, who dashed to Kabul on an unannounced visit amidst efforts by the Taliban to finalise a government in Afghanistan, on Saturday expressed confidence that “everything will be okay” in the war-weary country. A delegation of senior Pakistani officials led by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lieutenant General Hameed arrived in Kabul to conduct discussions with the incoming Taliban government, the Pakistan Observer newspaper reported. In a short video clip circulated in the media, Hameed is seen trying to respond to questions by a journalist who first asked: “Will you be meeting senior people in the Taliban?” “No, I’m not clear,” the ISI chief said and looked towards Pakistan ambassador to Kabul Mansour Ahmad Khan, who was standing by his side, to respond to the question. But before Khan said anything, the journalist posed another question. “What do you hope is going to happen now in Afghanistan?” he was asked. “I have just landed,” Hameed said and once again looked towards Khan who quipped: “We are working for peace and stability in Afghanistan.” At this Hameed smiled and said: “Don’t worry, everything will be okay.” (PTI)
Afghan female filmmakers who fled the Taliban are begging the world to not forget the Afghan people and to support its artists. The women spoke at a panel discussion at the Venice Film Festival to warn that a country without culture will eventually lose its identity. Sahraa Karimi, the first female president of the Afghan Film Organization, choked up in telling reporters all that had been lost after the Taliban completed their takeover of the country. She cited numerous films in pre-and-post production, filmmaking workshops, insurance policies that had all ground to a halt, and film archives that are now in the hands of the Taliban. (AP)
The challenges to security emerging from the upheaval in Afghanistan should be a wake-up call for the European Union, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Saturday, urging the EU to be more ambitious on defence and on global leadership.”Europe has to become No. 3 super-power besides China and the United States. Let’s open our eyes, we are facing threats and we cannot rely anymore on the protection of the United States,” Le Maire told reporters during an annual business conference in Cernobbio on Lake Como.”Afghanistan is a wake-up call,” he said, adding Europe also faced security threats in the Middle East and in Africa.
The French minister said Paris had decided to invest 1.7 billion euros ($2.02 billion) more in defence this year and would like to see other European countries to do the same.The minister also called other EU member states to invest and to deepen their single market to achieve technological independence from big overseas companies and third countries.
“EU member states have to build the single market for finance and also they need to reach a political agreement on the banking union, in order to have more funds for new technologies,” Le Maire said.He added that France will work toward these goals when it takes the rotating presidency of the EU Council, in the first half of 2022.”You cannot be sovereign on the political point of view if you depend from foreigners for semiconductors, electric batteries, satellites…” he said, echoing similar comments from Italy’s Innovation Minister Vittorio Colao, who was also in Cernobbio.
Europe should invest to win the leadership in sectors including hydrogen, the digital cloud, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, space exploration, satellites and bio-technologies, Le Maire said. (Reuters)
Pakistan’s spy chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed flew into Kabul on Saturday, sources in both capitals said. It was not clear what his agenda was, but a senior official in Pakistan had said earlier in the week that Hameed, who heads the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, could help the Taliban reorganise the Afghan military.
Washington has accused Pakistan and the ISI of backing the Taliban in the group’s two-decade fight against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, although Islamabad has denied the charges. Analysts have said Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan will be much enhanced with the Taliban in power, although the Pakistani government has said that its influence over the movement has waned. (Reuters)
Taliban and opposition forces were fighting on Saturday for control of the Panjshir Valley north of Kabul, the last province in Afghanistan holding out against the hardline Islamist group, according to reports.Taliban sources said on Friday the group’s fighters had taken the valley, although the opposition denied it had fallen.
The Taliban have so far issued no public declaration that they have taken the valley, which resisted their rule when they were last in power in Kabul from 1996 to 2001. The group regained power three weeks ago. The National Resistance Front of Afghanistan, which groups opposition forces loyal to local leader Ahmad Massoud, said Taliban forces reached the Darband heights on the border between Kapisa province and Panjshir but were pushed back.
‘The defence of the stronghold of Afghanistan is unbreakable,’ Front spokesman Fahim Dashty said in a tweet.
In a Facebook post, Massoud insisted his forces would resist and said Panjshir ‘continues to stand strongly in the fight’.Praising ‘our honourable sisters’, he said demonstrations by women in the western city of Herat calling for their rights showed Afghans had not given up demands for justice and ‘they fear no threats’.
A Taliban source said fighting was continuing in Panjshir but the advance was slowed by landmines placed on the road to the capital Bazarak and the provincial governor’s compound. ‘Demining and offensives are both going on at the same time,’ the source said.
It was not immediately possible to get independent confirmation of events in Panjshir, which is walled off by mountains except for a narrow entrance. Celebratory gunfire resounded in Kabul on Friday as reports spread of the Taliban’s takeover of Panjshir, and news agencies said at least 17 people were killed and 41 hurt in the firing. (Reuters)
Events in Afghanistan could be a catalyst for the European Union to forge a common migration policy, European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas said in a newspaper interview. EU states are concerned that the Taliban takeover could trigger a replay of the crisis of 2015/16, when the arrival of more than a million migrants, predominantly from the Middle East, stretched security and welfare systems and fuelled support for far-right groups.”It is true that we are now in a major crisis, but the EU did not cause the situation, yet we are once again called upon to be part of a solution,” the Greek commissioner, whose brief includes migration policy, told Austrian daily Wiener Zeitung. While not seeing a migration crisis, he said he wanted to “avoid a reflex that takes us back to the crisis year 2015 before it is even clear how the situation will develop”.The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) has said up to 500,000 Afghans could flee their homeland by year-end. The EU was better prepared this time, with stronger external border protection and financial resources to help Afghanistan’s neighbours, while EU states’ policies were increasingly converging, Schinas said.”Therefore, I see now as the moment to agree on a common European migration and asylum policy, as we proposed in the EU Commission in September,” he said.Migration has undermined the unity of the 27-member EU, with proposals to legally oblige all states to host their share of refugees rejected by several former Communist Bloc states as well as Austria. Schinas said differences remained among members, with strong opposition to a deal among “the populists on the right and left fringes”, but he saw a window for one after French presidential elections in May 2022, by when there would also be a new government in Germany. (Reuters)
The United Nations will convene an international aid conference in Geneva on Sept. 13 to help avert what U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called a “looming humanitarian catastrophe”.”We need the international community to stand together and support the Afghan people,” Guterres said in a post on Twitter announcing the conference that he said would seek a swift scale-up in funding for humanitarian relief.
“We also appeal for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to make sure Afghans continue to get the essential services they need,” he said. Many Afghans were struggling to feed their families amid severe drought well before Taliban militants seized power last month and millions may now face starvation with the country isolated and the economy unravelling, aid agencies say.
“The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and is committed to staying and delivering for them,” Guterres said. (Reuters)
Qatar’s ambassador to Afghanistan said a technical team was able to reopen Kabul airport to receive aid, according to Qatar’s Al Jazeera news channel, which also cited its correspondent as saying domestic flights had restarted. The airport’s runway has been repaired in cooperation with authorities in Afghanistan, the ambassador said, according to Al Jazeera.
The channel said two domestic flights were operated from Kabul to the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar. Kabul airport had been closed since the end of the massive U.S.-led airlift of its citizens, other Western nationals and Afghans who helped Western countries. The end of that operation marked the withdrawal of the last U.S. forces from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.
The evacuation of tens of thousands of people came amid the rapid takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamist militant group the Taliban, the West’s adversary in the two-decade war that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Thousands of people wanting to leave Afghanistan, fearful of life under Taliban rule, were left behind when the evacuation operation ended at the end of August. The Taliban has promised safe passage for those wanting to leave.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, speaking at a joint news conference with Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in Doha on Thursday, said the Gulf state was talking to the Taliban and working with Turkey for potential technical support to restart operations in Kabul airport. (Reuters)
The United States has moved most of the 57,000 people it evacuated from Afghanistan to Qatar out of the Gulf state, with fewer than 1,400 still at the U.S. military base there, a U.S. general said on Saturday. The U.S. evacuated roughly 124,000 people from Kabul last month as part of a huge U.S.-led airlift of its citizens, Afghans and other nationals as the Taliban took control of the country.
Brigadier General Gerald Donohue told reporters some of those who had been flown out of Qatar were now in the United States, while others were in Europe, where they are being processed. Many of the 1,400 still at Al Udeid base in Qatar are scheduled to be flown out on Saturday, while a small group needing medical care would stay until able to travel, he said.
Afghan and non-Afghan nationals had been flown to Al Udeid and at the peak there were over 17,500 evacuees on the base at a single point in time, the general said.Nine babies were born at the base during the evacuation mission, he added. Following the scramble to evacuate vulnerable Afghans, thousands of people, some with no documentation or pending U.S. visa applications, others in families with mixed immigration statuses, are now waiting in “transit hubs” in third countries. Afghans must overcome bureaucratic immigration hurdles to
eventually enter the United States. (Reuters)
BJP state president K Surendran on Saturday alleged that mainstream political parities in Kerala are vying to extend support to Taliban after the terrorist group took control over Afghanistan. Both the ruling CPI(M)-led LDF and the Congress-headed UDF opposition were playing a different sort of politics after the militants were back in power in the neighbouring country, he charged. He further alleged that those who take a pro-Taliban stand were the ones trying to whitewash the Moplah riots that occurred in the state in 1921. “In Kerala, mainstream political parities are vying with each other to extend support to the Taliban. Political leaders in the state are nurturing religious extremism by giving milk and honey,” Surendran said here in a press meet. Attacking the Left government and its police force, the BJP leader said they were taking an “irresponsible” stand as extremist forces were gaining strength in the state. – PTI
Pakistan’s spy chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed flew into Kabul on Saturday, sources in both capitals said. It was not clear what his agenda was, but a senior official in Pakistan had said earlier in the week that Hameed, who heads the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, could help the Taliban reorganise the Afghan military.Washington has accused Pakistan and the ISI of backing the Taliban in the group’s two-decade fight against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, although Islamabad has denied the charges. After the Islamist group seized Kabul this month, analysts have said Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan will be much enhanced.Pakistan’s government has said that its influence over the movement has waned, particularly since the Taliban grew in confidence once Washington announced the date for the complete withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign troops. Reuters
The United States has moved most of the 57,000 people it evacuated from Afghanistan to Qatar out of the Gulf state, with fewer than 1,400 still at the U.S. military base there, a U.S. general said on Saturday. The U.S. evacuated roughly 124,000 people from Kabul last month as part of a huge U.S.-led airlift of its citizens, Afghans and other nationals as the Taliban took control of the country. Brigadier General Gerald Donohue told reporters some of those who had been flown out of Qatar were now in the United States, while others were in Europe, where they are being processed. Many of the 1,400 still at Al Udeid base in Qatar are scheduled to be flown out on Saturday, while a small group needing medical care would stay until able to travel, he said.Afghan and non-Afghan nationals had been flown to Al Udeid and at the peak there were over 17,500 evacuees on the base at a single point in time, the general said.Nine babies were born at the base during the evacuation mission, he added. (Reuters)
The Taliban have postponed the formation of a new government in Afghanistan for next week, their spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said on Saturday, as the insurgent group struggles to give shape to a broad-based and inclusive administration acceptable to the international community. The insurgent group was expected to announce on Saturday the formation of the new government in Kabul, likely to be led by the outfit’s co-founder Mulla Abdul Ghani Baradar. This is the second that the Taliban have delayed the formation of the new government in Kabul since they seized Kabul on August 15. “The announcement about the new government and Cabinet members will now be made next week,” Mujahid said without giving further details. Khalil Haqqani, a member of a committee constituted by the Taliban to negotiate talks with different groups over the formation of the government, said the Taliban’s bid to form a broad-based government in Kabul acceptable to the world, in fact, is causing the delay. (PTI)
Qatar’s ambassador to Afghanistan said a technical team was able to reopen Kabul airport to receive aid and that it would be prepared for civilian flights soon, Al Jazeera reported on Saturday. The runway at Kabul airport has been repaired in cooperation with authorities in Afghanistan, the ambassador said, according to Al Jazeera. The Qatari news channel also said two domestic flights were operated from Kabul to the cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar. (Reuters)
At least 17 people were killed in celebratory gunfire in Kabul, news agencies said on Saturday, after Taliban sources said their fighters had seized control of Panjshir, the last province in Afghanistan holding out against the Islamist group. Leaders of opposition to the Taliban have denied that the province has fallen. The Shamshad news agency said “aerial shooting” in Kabul on Friday killed 17 people and wounded 41. Tolo news agency gave a similar toll. At least 14 people were injured in celebratory firing in Nangarhar province east of the capital, said Gulzada Sangar, spokesman for an area hospital in the provincial capital of Jalalabad. The gunfire drew a rebuke from the main Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid.”Avoid shooting in the air and thank God instead,” Mujahid said in a message on Twitter. “Bullets can harm civilians, so don’t shoot unnecessarily.” (Reuters)
Pakistan’s powerful intelligence chief has made a surprise visit to the Afghan capital of Kabul. That’s according to two Pakistan officials who asked not to be named because they are not authorised to speak to the media. It wasn’t immediately clear what Gen. Faiez Hameed had to say Saturday to the Taliban leadership but the Pakistani intelligence service has perhaps the greatest outside influence over the Taliban. The Taliban leadership had its headquarters in Pakistan and were often said to be in direct contact with the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency. (AP)
An official at Emergency Hospital in Kabul says two people were killed and 12 others wounded after Taliban fighters in the capital fired their weapons into the air in celebration. Taliban in Kabul fired into the air Friday night to celebrate gains on the battlefield in Panjshir province, which still remains under the control of anti-Taliban fighters. The hospital official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter criticised the practice of firing into the air and called on the militants to stop it immediately. Tolo TV reported 17 bodies and 41 wounded people were transferred to Emergency Hospital. (AP)
The United Nations will convene an international aid conference in Geneva on Sept. 13 to help avert what U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres called a “looming humanitarian catastrophe”. “We need the international community to stand together and support the Afghan people,” Guterres said in a post on Twitter announcing the conference that he said would seek a swift scale-up in funding for humanitarian relief. “We also appeal for full and unimpeded humanitarian access to make sure Afghans continue to get the essential services they need,” he said. Many Afghans were struggling to feed their families amid severe drought well before Taliban militants seized power last month and millions may now face starvation with the country isolated and the economy unravelling, aid agencies say. “The United Nations stands in solidarity with the people of Afghanistan and is committed to staying and delivering for them,” Guterres said. (Reuters)
US military bases housing Afghanistan evacuees are building their own city-type leadership organizations to deal with sanitation, food and other challenges as the numbers of Afghans coming into the U.S. grows. Air Force General Glen VanHerck, who heads U.S. Northern Command, said there were more than 25,000 Afghan evacuees being housed at the eight bases as of Friday. He acknowledged there have been problems as the bases grapple with language, cultural and other issues. He told Pentagon reporters that he’s “building eight small cities, we’re going to have challenges. He said the bases have designated a military officer as a ‘mayor’ to be in charge of a couple dorms or housing units and an Afghan counterpart who can communicate about any ongoing issues. He said Northern Command has asked the Defense Department for additional linguists who are fluent and can speak with the Afghans. The U.S. military will eventually be able to house as many as 50,000 Afghanistan evacuees at the eight bases around the country and won’t likely need to tap additional facilities, said VanHerck, who is also the head of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), Afghans at the bases are divided, with single males and single females in separate housing, and families walled off in their own sections where possible to provide privacy. So far, he said, there have been few problems with evacuees testing positive for COVID-19, and he has heard of no serious security problems. (AP)
The US and the international community expect the Taliban in Afghanistan to form an inclusive government with representations from different communities and fulfil its commitments like countering terrorism, respecting the rights of women and minorities and not to engage in reprisal, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. Blinken’s remarks came ahead of an expected announcement by the Taliban on the formation of a new government in Afghanistan. “As we’ve said and as countries around the world have said, there is an expectation that any government that emerges now will have some real inclusivity, and that it will have non-Talibs in it who are representative of different communities and different interests in Afghanistan,” Blinken told reporters at a news conference, ahead of his important visit to Doha where the political office of the Taliban is based. “We will see what, in fact, emerges, but I have to tell you that as important as what the government looks like is, more important still is what any government does. And that’s what we’re really looking at. We’re looking at what actions, what policies any new Afghan government pursues. That’s what matters the most,” Blinken said on Friday. The Taliban took over Afghanistan last month at lightning speed as the US withdrew its troops from the country. The US withdrew all of its service members from Afghanistan on Tuesday, ending its military engagement in the country after 20 years of war. “The expectation is to see inclusivity in government, but ultimately the expectation is to see a government that makes good on commitments that the Taliban have made, particularly in freedom of travel, not allowing Afghanistan to be used as a launching ground for terrorism directed at the US or any of the allies and partners, upholding the basic rights of the Afghan people, including women and minorities, and not engaging in reprisals,” Blinken said. “These are the things that we’re looking at. And, again, not just us, many countries around the world,” he said. (PTI)