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Biden claims al-Qaeda leader Zawahiri killed in US strike in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: August 2, 2022)

The United States killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, US President Joe Biden said on Monday, the biggest blow to the militant group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011.

Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $25 million bounty on his head, helped coordinate the September 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. 

US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Zawahiri died after a US drone strike in the Afghan capital Kabul at 6:18 a.m. on Sunday.

“Now justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,” Biden said in remarks from the White House.

“No matter how long it takes, no matter where you hide, if you are a threat to our people, the United States will find you and take you out,” Biden said. 

US intelligence determined with “high confidence” through multiple intelligence streams that the man killed was Zawahiri, one senior administration official told reporters. He was killed on the balcony of a “safe house” in Kabul that he shared with other members of his family. There were no other casualties.

Biden said Zawahiri had been the mastermind behind or played a key role in attacks on the USS Cole and U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

There were rumors of Zawahiri’s death several times in recent years, and he was long reported to have been in poor health, Reuters reported. 

The drone attack is the first known US strike inside Afghanistan since US troops and diplomats left the country in August 2021. 

His death raises questions about whether Zawahiri received sanctuary from the IEA following their takeover of Kabul in August 2021, Reuters reported. 

“The Taliban (IEA) will have to answer for al-Zawahiri’s presence in Kabul, after assuring the world they would not give safe haven to al-Qaeda terrorists,” Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement.

IEA  spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid meanwhile confirmed that a strike took place and strongly condemned it, calling it a violation of “international principles”.

Mujahid said in a series of tweets at first it was suspected that it was an explosion, but investigations by the security and intelligence agencies showed that the attack was carried out by an American drone. 

He said the IEA considers the action to be in violation of international principles and the Doha Agreement adding that it could severely damage relations between the two sides and “have bad consequences”.

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Peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential: Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday highlighted the importance of peace and stability in Afghanistan, saying it is essential in terms of threats and risks.

“Peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential in terms of common threats and risks, beyond our humanitarian duty for our Afghan brothers,” Erdogan said in a joint press conference with Pakistan’s prime minister in Ankara.

Erdogan said Turkey and Pakistan will continue to work together to “eliminate the effects of the humanitarian crisis faced by the Afghan people.”

The Turkish leader also commented on the situation in Afghanistan as he said establishing “peace and stability in Afghanistan is essential in terms of common threats and risks, beyond our humanitarian duty for our Afghan brothers.”

He said they will continue to work together to “eliminate the effects of the humanitarian crisis faced by the Afghan people.”

Erdogan also pointed to the solidarity and mutual cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan and reiterated Ankara’s support for Islamabad’s counter-terrorism efforts.

“We have always seen Pakistan’s pain as our pain, its joy as our joy and its success as our success,” he said.

For his part, Pakistani PM Shahbaz Sharif proposed extending the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), inviting Turkey to join the multi-billion-dollar project.

“China and Pakistan are great friends and we are experiencing and enjoying the benefits of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative of (Chinese) President Xi (Jinping). I would suggest let this be a cooperation between China, Pakistan, and Türkiye,” Sharif said, calling it a “wonderful joint cooperation.”

Sharif also said such cooperation among the three nations “will bring prosperity and progress in this entire region.”

“This will help the alleviation of poverty and unemployment. This will promote education and this is how we can really meet the challenges of today,” the Pakistani prime minister said.

Sharif said he will be “very happy” to talk to his “Chinese friends.”

“If we can move in this direction, I think, this would be a wonderful opportunity to really capitalise” he added.

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UN, Uzbekistan discuss Int’l Group to negotiate with IEA government

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)

Deputy head of UNAMA and Uzbekistan’s foreign minister have discussed implementing an initiative to set up an International Group to negotiate with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government.

“We discussed situation in Afghanistan, implementing initiative to set up an International Group to negotiate with Afghan government to agree algorithm for the earliest fulfilling of mutual obligations of the parties,” Uzbekistan’s Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov said on Twitter Friday.

Meanwhile, UNAMA said on Friday its deputy head Markus Potzel concluded his series of meetings with government officials in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan on additional regional support to the Afghan people.

“UNAMA will continue its work with all regional actors to assist efforts for a meaningful peace in Afghanistan,” UNAMA said on Twitter.

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UN rights agency’s remarks on floggings an insult to Islam: IEA

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(Last Updated On: November 26, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Friday condemned remarks by a spokesperson of the UN Human Rights Office on floggings and said the comments were an insult to Islam.

Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office, in a statement on Friday said the agency was “appalled by mass floggings in public by the de facto authorities of 14 people in Logar province on Wednesday, and calls for this abhorrent form of punishment to cease immediately.”

The statement added that corporal punishment constitutes a form of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, which is prohibited under both the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

The statement noted that Afghanistan is a State party to both.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for IEA, reacted and said that the remarks were an “insult to Islam and violation of international principles.”

“Countries and organizations should not allow self-interested people to make irresponsible and provoking remarks on Islam and its rules on their behalf,” Mujahid said on Twitter.

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