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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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Afghanistan announces aid for quake-hit Turkey and Syria

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Tuesday announced AFN 15 million (approx. $166,000 USD) in humanitarian aid for people affected by recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Of the total, AFN 10 million (approx. $111,000) will be for Turkey, and AFN 5 million (approx. $55,000) will be for Syria.

The Foreign Ministry in a statement said that IEA stands in solidarity with its brothers and sisters in this time of hardship.

It added that the aid is on the basis of “shared humanity and Islamic brotherhood.”

The statement also said that IEA emergency response and health teams stand ready to participate in rescue operations to assist the affected people if called upon.

The ministry instructed its diplomatic mission in Turkey to not spare any efforts in assisting the victims, and urged Turkey-based Afghan citizens to help with the relief efforts.

Thousands have been killed in Monday’s earthquakes in Turkey and Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced a three-month state of emergency across 10 provinces worst affected by the earthquakes.

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28 million Afghans are in dire need of humanitarian aid: UNICEF

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has announced that Afghanistan needs immediate humanitarian aid.

UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Omar Abdi on Monday said that Afghanistan is experiencing the worst period over the past two decades.

Abdi said on Twitter that humanitarian needs are felt now more than ever before in Afghanistan, and has warned that disruptions of aid will lead to a humanitarian catastrophe in the war-torn country, already plagued with critical challenges.

“Some 28 million Afghans are in dire need of humanitarian aid, which needs the immediate attention of the international community, partners, and Taliban’s caretaker government,” Abdi said.

During his visit with Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore reiterated that the organization is committed to carrying on its much-needed operations in the areas of education, healthcare, and children’s vaccinations in Afghanistan.

Previously, UNICEF announced that Afghanistan is among the eight most hunger-hit countries in the world.

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Iran’s top security official leaves for Russia to attend Afghanistan meeting

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(Last Updated On: February 7, 2023)

The Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani has left the country for Russia to attend a summit that will focus on the political, economic and security situation in Afghanistan.

Shamkhani will join top security officials from Central Asian countries, Pakistan, India and China for a meeting planned for Wednesday in the Russian capital Moscow as part of the fifth round of the multilateral talks on Afghanistan.

The previous edition of the conference had been held in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe in May 2022.

Indian capital of New Delhi had hosted the third round of the initiative in 2021 two years after it was launched in Tehran.

Shamkhani is also scheduled to hold meetings with his counterparts from other countries, including Russia’s top security official.

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