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Biden signs policy limiting drone strikes in Afghanistan, other countries

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(Last Updated On: October 9, 2022)

US President Joe Biden has signed a classified policy limiting counterterrorism drone strikes outside conventional war zones, including Afghanistan, New York Times reported this week.

The policy requires Biden’s approval before a suspected terrorist is added to a list of those who can be targeted for “direct action,” in a return to a more centralized control of decisions about targeted killing operations that was a hallmark of President Barack Obama’s second term. Trump had given commanders in the field greater latitude to decide whom to target.

“The president’s guidance on the use of lethal action and capture operations outside areas of active hostilities requires that US counterterrorism operations meet the highest standards of precision and rigor, including for identifying appropriate targets and minimizing civilian casualties,” said Liz Sherwood-Randall, Biden’s homeland security adviser.

Only Iraq and Syria — where US troops and partners are fighting the remnants of the Islamic State — are currently deemed to be conventional war zones where the new rules will not apply 

The policy will limit any such operations in several other countries where the United States has carried out drone strikes in recent years, including Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, as well as the tribal region of Pakistan.

The number of US drone strikes in several of the affected countries had been decreasing in recent years. The last US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen were reportedly in 2018 and 2019. In late July, US carried out a drone strike in Kabul, claiming to have killed al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) says US drone strikes are violation of Afghanistan’s airspace, and against international laws.

“No country has the right to intervene in an independent country,” said Bilal Karimi, deputy spokesman of IEA.

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IEA defense minister meets with former generals

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(Last Updated On: February 2, 2023)

Defense Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) Mawluvi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid has met with former senior military officers and assured them that their problems will be resolved and their security will be ensured.

According to a statement issued by the defense ministry on Wednesday, the defense minister and Chief of Army Staff, Qari Fasihuddin Fitrat, met with generals of the former government and several other ex-military officials.

“The whole goal now is peace, security and defense of territorial integrity, and we have to preserve this Islamic system at any cost,” Mujahid told the generals.

The former military personnel included lieutenant general Afzal Aman, lieutenant general Mohammad Zaman Ahmadzai, major general Shaor Gul, major general Nabiullah, brigadier general Farid, colonel Afandi and several other generals and former corps commanders, read the statement.

At the meeting Mujahid said that their only aim is to restore peace in the country and heal the past wounds. He said that bringing an end to prejudice needed sincerity and love.

The minister listened to the problems and recommendations of the former military officers and promised them their issues would be resolved. He also assured them of their security.

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Iran resumes issuing visas to Afghans in Herat

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(Last Updated On: February 1, 2023)

Local officials in Herat say that the process of issuing Iranian visas to Afghans has resumed in the province after a pause of two months.

A private company has been authorized as Iranian visa application center in Herat, but travel agencies which used to offer services to the applicants criticize the move.

They say that this process was put out to tender and seven companies were selected to offer visa services, but this process has been given exclusively to one company.

“We used to do this for 150 afghanis, but this company charges 350 afghanis,” said Abdul Waheed Amiri, the manager of a travel agency in Herat.

Currently, more than 300 travel agencies are operating in Herat city.

Local officials in Herat say that the company that is authorized as Iranian visa application center is an Iran-linked agency.

“Iran has set agents for itself in three parts of Herat city. The agency of the diplomatic mission of Iran operates here,” said Naeemulhaq Haqqani, the head of Herat’s information and culture department.

The process of issuing Iranian visas resumed in Herat since three days ago, but visa applicants are not satisfied with this process and say that they wait day and night for their visas to be issued.

“We have been visiting here for three days. The Islamic Emirate says that the visa is suspended, but it will be opened when we leave here. People are not taken care of,” said Fraidoon, a visa applicant.

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Muttaqi tells Pakistan to stop blaming Afghanistan for its insecurity

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(Last Updated On: February 1, 2023)

Referring to Pakistan’s concerns about terrorism threats emanating from Afghanistan, Amir Khan Muttaqi, Foreign Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), on Wednesday called on Islamabad to stop blaming Afghanistan for insecurity.

Speaking at a ceremony to inaugurate a drug addiction treatment center in Kabul, Muttaqi said that the root of Pakistan’s security problems is in the country itself and should not be attributed to Afghanistan.

He suggested the government of Pakistan do more investigations into Monday’s mosque bombing in Peshawar, especially due to the extent of damage. He said it doesn’t look like it was a suicide bomber or an IED.

Muttaqi said that Afghanistan is not a terrorist haven.

“If someone says that Afghanistan is the haven of terrorism, they also say that terrorism knows no boundaries. If terrorism was in Afghanistan, it would spread to China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran. Today, all these countries are safe. Afghanistan is also safe,” Muttaqi said.

The event was also addressed by Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani who suggested that the international community is exercising double standards over humanitarian aid.

“You claim day and night that you are supporters of human rights. If you can’t provide three billion [dollars] in aid to these people (addicts), provide at least one billion,” Haqqani said.

The administrative deputy of the prime minister also criticized the regional and Islamic countries for not cooperating with Afghanistan in finding alternative crops for poppy cultivation.

“In providing alternative crops to farmers, neither the neighboring countries, nor the Islamic countries, nor the countries of the world, have provided any kind of assistance to the Afghan people and the Afghan government until today,” Abdul Salam Hanafi said.

Thousands of addicts are expected to be treated in the newly inaugurated facility called “Aghoosh.”

Abdulhaq Hamkar, deputy interior minister for counternarcotics, said that the establishment of the facility has cost about 75 million afghanis.

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