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Ghani’s escape derailed latest Taliban deal: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: September 15, 2021)

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s decision to flee the country last month shattered a last-minute deal with the Islamic Emirate that was designed to negotiate a political transition.

In an interview with the Financial Times, his first since the US pulled out of Afghanistan, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said according to the plan, Ghani would have remained in his post until an agreement was reached on a future government – even as the Islamic Emirate’s forces were at the gates of Kabul.

However, Khalilzad said the power vacuum left by Ghani’s unexpected escape on August 15 led to the fall of his government and the takeover by the Islamic Emirate.

He said this, in turn, sparked a chaotic evacuation of civilians and troops and effectively ended the talks in Doha.

“Even in the end, we had an agreement with the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) to [them] not go into Kabul,” Khalilzad told the Financial Times adding that at no time did this include Ghani fleeing the country.

Khalilzad’s comments echo those made by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who told US lawmakers this week that he had received assurances from Ghani on the eve of his escape that he agreed with Washington’s plan.

Kabul’s security forces disbanded at the news of Ghani’s disappearance, Khalilzad said.

“There were public order issues in Kabul after Ghani’s flight. . . The Taliban (Islamic Emirate) [then]. . . say, ‘Are you going to take responsibility for the security of Kabul now? . . . And then you know what happened, we were not going to take responsibility,” he said, adding that he attended a pre-arranged meeting that day with the US regional military commander, General Frank McKenzie, and senior Islamic Emirate leaders in Doha.

Khalilzad rejected claims of a tacit or explicit agreement that allowed the Islamic Emirate to enter the presidential palace in Kabul on August 15.

“We didn’t give them any kind of green light or anything like that. What we said is what the mission of the US forces was,” he told the Financial Times, referring to the evacuation of the airport.

Khalilzad first discussed the agreement with the Kabul government on August 12 and reached an agreement with the Islamic Emirate two days later to safeguard the integrity of the city, Financial Times reported, citing US officials.

However, Ghani was unlikely to have been part of any future government because his resignation was a precondition set by the Islamic Emirate, FT reported.

On August 13, Islamic Emirate forces were surrounding Kabul after taking control of most of the country.

According to Ghani, he fled the country as his life was in danger and to “avoid bloodshed” in Kabul.

Responding to criticism of Washington’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, Khalilzad said: “The fact that they didn’t [negotiate peace] or one side disintegrated, that is not the responsibility of the United States. It is not my responsibility.”

Khalilzad said, however, that he regretted the failure to reach a political agreement with the Islamic Emirate years earlier.

“There will be a lot of introspection,” he said.

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IEA marks Afghanistan’s Independence Day

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(Last Updated On: August 19, 2022)

Marking 103 years of independence from Britain, Mullah Mohammad Yaqub Mujahid, acting defense minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), on Friday warned against efforts to divide Afghans.

 “They are trying to divide us along regional, religious and linguistic lines and cause infighting among ourselves so that they achieve their evil goals. We should never let anyone do this. We should be vigilant,” Mujahid said.

He said that Afghans have never accepted occupation and have fought invaders throughout the history. Mujahid said IEA wants to engage with the world but not at the cost of the country’s independence being undermined.

“We want engagement, we want the country to develop, we want the economy to grow, we want political progress, we want to have a strong military like those in the region, but not at the cost of our independence being undermined,” Mujahid said.

He said that IEA will not accept world’s demands which are against Islam.

“We cannot accept anyone’s orders and demands which are against our religion and our national interests,” Mujahid said.

IEA in a statement on the occasion of Independence Day also warned against interfering in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

“The Islamic Emirate, as an independent and fully legitimate government, is committed to honor the esteemed value (independence) and wants relations with countries in the region and the world based on Islamic principles. We hope every invader has learnt a lesson from the past and henceforth will adopt a policy of peace, tolerance and non-interference in the affairs of others,” the statement read.

IEA’s acting prime minister, in a message, called on security forces to behave well with people, have coordination and obey leaders.

Khalil-ur-Rahman Haqqani, acting minister of refugees and repatriation, also warned the opponents not to test Afghans again.

 “The East, the West and their hirelings should not test Afghans. Afghans have already been tested. There is no need to test them again,” Haqqani said.

Some participants called for reopening of girls’ schools.

“One issue they (West) are insisting on is and which people also want is girls’ education. As an elder, I ask the Emirate to resolve the issue, otherwise the Western world will not recognize the Emirate, not even in 20 years,” said Farooq Azam, an adviser for the ministry of energy and water.

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Finance ministry increases customs tariff of mineral exports to 25%

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(Last Updated On: August 19, 2022)

The Ministry of Finance says it has increased the customs tariff on unprocessed minerals to 25 percent which was previously five percent.

According to the decision, the customs tariff is set at 10 percent per ton of processed mineral.

However, the officials of Afghanistan Chamber of Industries and Mines (ACIM) said Friday that they are not able to pay the customs tariffs, asking the government to reconsider this decision.

Officials of the finance ministry have added that they set this price according to the position of the country’s exports in the world markets.

Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s mineral exports have a special place in the global markets, including China, India, Britain, Germany, Turkey, America, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia.

In the meantime, officials of ACIM have opposed the decision made by finance ministry, saying that the Tariff Committee of the ministry should increase the tariff based on the calculation of the private sector, adding that because traders will suffer with a 20 percent tariff increase.

Moreover, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment (ACCI) said that as a result of increasing the capacity of mineral processing factories in the country, Afghanistan has been able to export one million tons of minerals this year, adding that if the electricity problems of these mineral processing factories are solved, the export of processed minerals will also increase.

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Afghan weather services issues flash flood warning

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(Last Updated On: August 19, 2022)

The Afghanistan Meteorological Department issued a flash flood warning on Thursday, stating that heavy rain and high wind gusts can be expected across a wide section of the country on Friday and Saturday.

The provinces likely to be affected are Badakhshan, Nuristan, Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Kapisa, Panjshir, Takhar, Baghlan, Parwan, Bamiyan, Samangan, Kabul, Maidan Wardak, Logar, Paktia, Khost, Paktika, Ghazni, Zabul, Uruzgan, Daikundi, Ghor, Kandahar and Helmand.

According to the department, between 15 and 70 mm of rain can be expected in parts of the country over the next two days.

Thunderstorms can also be expected in some provinces, including Kabul.

On Thursday, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a statement that in the past week – between August 11 and 15 – heavy rainfall caused floods and flash floods across several provinces across the eastern, southern, south-eastern, and central regions of Afghanistan, leading to numerous fatalities.

The latest UNOCHA report states that the number of fatalities has increased to 41 people (11 in Parwan province, 11 in Nangarhar province, and nine in Logar province), while 17 individuals were injured.

Across the impacted areas, heavy rainfall destroyed or damaged almost 790 houses (434 in Nangarhar), affecting more than 3,720 families in total.

Floods have destroyed crops, agricultural land, and the local transportation infrastructure, isolating several communities, UNOCHA stated.

A number of international humanitarian organizations are assisting the local affected population with food, emergency shelter and non-food items, as well as conducting inter-agency impact and needs assessments.

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