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Blinken admits a civil war or Taliban takeover is a possibility

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(Last Updated On: April 28, 2021)

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said Tuesday Afghanistan could be taken over by Taliban or descend into civil war when the US withdraws troops by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

Blinken told CNN a civil war or Taliban takeover in Afghanistan is “certainly a possible scenario” when the US withdraws all its troops from the country.

The Biden administration is “planning for every scenario” but stated the US is “not disengaging from Afghanistan” and will continue to be “deeply engaged” in supporting the country long after troops have left.

But the decision has divided opinion with some officials and lawmakers voicing concerns that pulling troops out of Afghanistan too quickly could lead to retaliation from the Taliban.

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who is on the Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN “it’s difficult to see a scenario that doesn’t end in civil war or a Taliban takeover.”

Blinken addressed these concerns Tuesday, admitting that unrest is a possible consequence. “That is certainly a possible scenario,” he said.

He urged what he described as “free riders” in the region to start using their “influence” to help keep the country stable.

“I don’t think ultimately either the Afghan government or the Taliban do, none of Afghanistan’s neighbors do, neighbors and other countries in the region that have basically been free riders for the last 20 years, as we’ve been engaged there with our NATO allies and partners who are now going to have to decide, given their interests in a relatively stable Afghanistan, given the influence that they have, whether they’re going to try to use that influence in a way that keeps things within the 40-yard line,” he said.

Blinken denied that the withdrawal of troops was the US “disengaging” from the country, saying the nation continues to be committed to “its people, development, economic assistance, humanitarian assistance, support for the security forces.”

“So a lot of people are having their minds concentrated by the president’s decision and besides that – even as we are withdrawing our forces, we are not disengaging from Afghanistan,” he said adding the US remains “deeply engaged in the diplomacy, in support for the Afghan government and its people.”

“We have trained over the years more than 300,000 of them so all to that remains and there are different actors are work now who I hope will keep moving this in a more positive than negative direction.”

He added: “But we have to plan, we are planning for every scenario.”

Blinken also insisted that the Biden administration is working to ensure Afghan locals who “put their lives on the line” working with US forces and diplomats in the country over the last two decades can apply to be expedited to the US.

Thousands of people worked alongside the US on the ground in the country and have been left fearful for their lives once the US withdraws.

“We have had this program in Iraq and also in Afghanistan and we want to make sure that people who put their lives on the line, working with American folks in uniform, working with our diplomats who put, not just themselves in jeopardy, potentially their families as well, can get expedited consideration if they decide that they want to try to come to the United States,” he said.

“We have got about 18,000 people already in the pipeline, 9,000 of whom are relatively far along, another 9,000 are just at the beginning of the process, and you know, clearly more are likely to sign up, so we are working very hard to make sure that we’ve got in place the resources to work that program – to work it quickly, expeditiously.”

Blinken called on the lawmakers in the House and the Senate to “work together and make sure that the program has the resources it needs.”

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Tuesday he hoped many Afghans will want to stay to “contribute to the nation’s future” but said it was crucial the US protects those who feel they need to leave the nation.

“Failing to do so sends a global message – Don’t fight with the Americans, because when they’re finished they leave you behind. That’s not something we can tolerate,” he said.

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IEA’s reclusive supreme leader addresses Ulema gathering in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: July 1, 2022)

The reclusive supreme leader of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Haibatullah Akhundzada, hailed the IEA’s takeover of Afghanistan during a meeting in Kabul on Friday. 

The meeting of religious leaders from around the country was called to forge national unity. 

IEA spokesmen confirmed that Akhundzada, who is based in the southern city of Kandahar, had come to Kabul for the gathering of some 3,000 participants.

After receiving pledges of allegiance from participants raising their hands, Akhundzada praised the IEA’s victory last August. 

“The success of the Afghan jihad is not only a source of pride for Afghans but also for Muslims all over the world,” he said. 

In his speech he said justice needs to prevail, that oppression needs to be prevented and corruption in government must be stamped out. 

He also discussed the need for the implementation of divine law, especially in respect of retribution. He said this decree of Allah has not yet been implemented and once it is, it will spark reaction. 

He also told participants that the people should not wait for foreign aid to rebuild the country. He called on Afghans living abroad to return home and invest in the future of their country. 

Akhundzada did not mention the reopening of girls’ schools. 

On Afghanistan’s foreign policy, he said it was an independent country and that he did not want to negotiate with any country on Islamic issues. 

He called on the world not to interfere in Afghanistan’s domestic issues and said Afghanistan is no longer in the hands of foreigners. 

Akhundzada stated that while the enemy was defeated on the battlefield, the IEA must not allow discord within its ranks especially as the enemy is trying to conduct propaganda campaigns. 

“Thank God, we are now an independent country. (Foreigners) should not give us their orders, it is our system and we have our own decisions,” he said. 

“We have a relationship of devotion to one God, we cannot accept the orders of others who God does not like,” he said.

He reassured neighboring countries that the IEA harbors no ill will towards them. 

In conclusion he called on political figures abroad to return home and to stop waging an anti-IEA campaign. 

The Kabul gathering began on Thursday under tight security.

Deputy Taliban chief and acting interior minister Sirajuddin Haqqani also addressed the meeting on Friday, saying the world was demanding inclusive government and education, and the issues needed time.

“This gathering is about trust, interaction, we are here to make our future according to Islam and to national interests,” he said.

IEA spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that they would respect the decisions of those at the meeting but the final say on girls’ education was up to the supreme leader.

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Turkey awaits IEA response to Kabul airport offer: Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: July 1, 2022)

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that Turkey had offered to operate Kabul airport in Afghanistan with Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and was awaiting the response of the Islamic Emirate to the proposal.

He was speaking at a news conference at the end of a NATO summit in Madrid.

Turkey and Qatar have been negotiating with Islamic Emirate officials for months to manage Afghanistan’s international airfields.

In May, IEA signed an agreement with a UAE company on ground operations at the Kabul, Kandahar, and Herat airports and the deal had a contract period of one-and-a-half years.

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India delivers six tons of medical aid to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 1, 2022)

The Indian government delivered a consignment of six tons of essential medicines to Afghanistan on Thursday, as part of its ongoing humanitarian assistance, New Delhi said.

The consignment was handed over to the Indira Gandhi Hospital in Kabul, Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The assistance follows urgent appeals made by the United Nations to assist the Afghan people.

India has, so far, supplied 20 tons of medical assistance in seven batches, which includes essential life-saving medicines, anti-TB medicines, 500,000 doses of COVID vaccine, etc. These medical consignments have been handed over to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Indira Gandhi Children Hospital, Kabul, Indian foreign ministry said.

In order to ensure food security in Afghanistan, India has provided food assistance of 35,000 metric tons of wheat. Moreover, in the wake of recent tragic earthquake, India supplied almost 28 tons of earthquake relief assistance in two relief flights.

Furthermore, India is in the process to ship more medical and wheat assistance to Afghanistan in coordination with the UN agencies on ground.

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