Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Masoud Andarabi warned on Saturday against a hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan of foreign troops, saying that the Taliban’s ties to al-Qaeda remain intact and that a swift pullout would worsen global counterterrorism efforts.
In an interview with The Associated Press Andarabi said that Afghan National Security Forces backed by U.S. assistance have so far put a squeeze on terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, including Daesh.
Andarabi’s warning comes just seven weeks before the May 1 foreign troops withdrawal deadline as per the US-Taliban agreement signed in February last year.
No decision has yet been made by Washington, which is reviewing the deal signed by the former Trump administration,
According to AP, Andarabi challenged U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s prediction last weekend that the withdrawal of U.S. troops would yield territorial gains to the Taliban, saying that Afghan troops could hold territory, but still needed aid and air support to maintain remote checkpoints.
“The Afghan security forces are fully capable of defending the capital and the cities and the territories that we are present in right now,” he said.
“We think that the Afghan security forces this year have proven to the Taliban that they will not be able to gain territory.”
Since the U.S. signed the deal with the Taliban violence and targeted killings, often unclaimed, have spiked.
AP reported that Andarabi sympathized with Kabul residents’ complaints about rampant crime, but said nearly 70 percent of Afghanistan’s police force is battling the Taliban, eroding efforts to maintain law and order. Every day the police confront over 100 Taliban attacks throughout the country, he added.
Andarabi said some progress had been made to stem the violence in the past month, with over 400 arrests.
But he underlined that Afghanistan still very much needs continued support from the international community, including the United States and NATO, in both war and peacetime, AP reported.
He said it will take great effort to reintegrate into a peacetime society the tens of thousands of armed men roving the country — regardless of which faction they are from, he said.
He also pointed out that police face a daunting anti-narcotics battle in a country that produces more than 4,000 tons of opium – the raw material used to make heroin – more than every other opium-producing country combined.
Peace, said Andarabi, would free the police to fight the drug war that is also fueling Afghanistan’s soaring crime rate.
Health officials and experts meet in Kabul over spread of lumpy skin disease
A seminar was held in Kabul on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing spread of lumpy skin disease (LSD) in livestock in Afghanistan.
Experts from Kabul University, along with representatives of the Ministries of Public Health, Agriculture and Livestock and municipalities met Tuesday to discuss the dangers of this virus.
Delegates attending the seminar pointed out the need to prevent the spread of the disease in the country.
According to health officials, this virus is transmitted by some species of mosquitoes, ticks and other blood-feeding insects but is not transmitted to humans.
“This virus has spread from eastern and southeastern provinces such as Laghman, Nangarhar and Kunar, but currently, this virus does not have a vaccine, and fortunately, this disease does not transmit to humans,” said Shirshah Sadat, dean of Kabul University’s Faculty of Veterinary Sciences.
Nasir Ahmad, the representative of the Ministry of Public Health also said: “This virus is problematic for food health, especially for people suffering from malnutrition.”
“This virus is transmitted from one animal to another by mosquitoes and flies and the source of its transmission should be eliminated, and quarantine and vaccines are said to be good ways to fight this disease,” said Asadullah Samadi, a university professor.
The representative of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock said that a campaign to curb the spread of this virus will be launched in cooperation with international organizations in all provinces in the near future.
The virus has in recent years been detected in Kunar, Nangarhar, Laghman and southeastern provinces of Paktia, Paktika, Khost, Logar and Ghazni.
The disease was endemic in many African countries for years, but spread to other parts of the world over the years. The disease first appeared in South Asia in July 2019, with Bangladesh reporting an outbreak. A month later, it was identified in India – which has the world’s largest bovine population – and then in China.
The infection is caused by the Capripox virus – which is genetically similar to the viruses that cause goat pox and sheep pox – and has been termed “an emerging threat to livestock worldwide” by health experts.
Two IEA forces and 4 Daesh fighters killed in Kabul clash
Four Daesh militants were killed and a fifth was arrested in an operation in Kabul on Wednesday.
According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), forces had conducted a raid on an “important nest of the enemy” in Karte-e-Sakhi area in PD3.
The operation was launched at about 11.30am but a shootout between IEA and Daesh militants broke out, which lasted several hours. The situation was eventually brought under control and a cache of weapons and ammunition was recovered.
Mujahid said in a series of tweets that the Daesh cell had been planning to attack Shiites in the Kart-e-Sakhi area during the upcoming Muharram.
Meanwhile, the ministry of interior said in a statement that two security personnel, including a policewoman, were killed in the standoff and four IEA soldiers were wounded.
Iranian energy ministry delegation to visit Kabul over water rights
Iran is reportedly sending a delegation from the ministry of energy affairs to Afghanistan to discuss their water share rights regarding the Helmand River.
According to Iran’s IRNA news agency, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi in a phone conversation that he is dispatching the delegation in the near future in order to resolve issues around water.
IRNA reported that Amirabdollahian raised the issue of recent heavy rainfall in Afghanistan and expressed hope that the “artificially created obstacles” in the way of the flow of water towards Iran will be eliminated and Iran will receive its water share from the Helmand River.
Amirabdollahian also reportedly told Muttaqi that receiving their share of water will be an important index for Kabul in terms of showing how committed the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is about meeting “their international commitments”, IRNA reported.
Amirabdollahian said the people of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan and their representatives in Parliament are seriously demanding their share of water and that unless the issue is resolved quickly, “it will affect the other issues in bilateral cooperation negatively”, IRNA reported.
According to IRNA, Muttaqi in turn welcomed the delegation’s upcoming visit and said Afghanistan is committed to giving Iran their share of water from the Helmand River, which flows into the country.
Amirabdollahian said that a joint team of technicians will survey the river’s path and ensure both countries benefit from the water.
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