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Khalilzad opens up about Ghani and ‘selfish’ political elite

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(Last Updated On: October 28, 2021)

Former US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said former president Ashraf Ghani’s “intransigence,” the Afghan elite’s “selfishness” and Afghan soldiers’ lack of will to fight was to blame for the rapid takeover of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) in August.

On Ghani’s refusal to change his views, or agree to the formation of a new interim government, Khalilzad said: “We were all surprised by the intransigence of President Ghani in insisting on staying in power till his term ended, despite the fact that he had come out re-elected in a fraudulent election that very few Afghans participated in.”

Addressing a webinar organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a Washington think tank, on Wednesday, Khalilzad also acknowledged for the first time publicly that the U.S. had discouraged Afghans from holding the presidential elections that led to Ghani’s winning a second term in office.

According to Khalilzad, the U.S. wanted to establish an interim administration that was acceptable to both sides while Afghan politicians and civil society negotiated a political settlement with the IEA.

Khalilzad said Ghani’s “grand miscalculation” was that he did not believe the U.S. would withdraw from the country.

According to Khalilzad, Ghani thought the U.S. forces and intelligence agencies would stay in Afghanistan as it gave them physical proximity to strategically important countries like China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan.

“I tried to persuade him that President [Donald] Trump was very serious, and he said, ‘No, the intelligence and military told me otherwise,’ ” Khalilzad said.

Khalilzad also stated that Ghani miscalculated his own military’s will to fight.

Once the U.S. announced its decision to withdraw, Ghani told Khalilzad, “now I am free to fight the war the Afghan way. In six months now I will defeat the Taliban because you were fighting it poorly.”

Khalilzad went on to say that the fact that an estimated 300,000-strong Afghan army melted away in front of 60,000 IEA fighters was the result of a lack of morale, corruption and poor treatment of the soldiers on the front lines.

He said this also might have been because the soldiers “didn’t believe” in the cause, while the IEA fighters felt otherwise.

Khalilzad also blasted what he called the Afghan elite’s “selfish, self-centered, corrupt” behavior.

“I am disappointed that the elite that we worked with; they didn’t rise to the occasion; this golden opportunity that the American engagement provided,” he said.

In terms of going forward, Khalilzad advocated a robust diplomatic engagement with the IEA that includes an agreement on a “road map that takes into account the trust or mistrust of each other and the behavior that needs to take place over a time period.”

He also said that many in the US want the IEA to suffer and their government to collapse, because “we did not succeed in defeating them, and that has left a bad taste in people’s mouths.”

But he warned that a collapse of government in Afghanistan would lead to a civil war and a humanitarian catastrophe that would provide space for terrorist groups to flourish.

He said the IEA had shown, in the 18 months after signing the Doha agreement, that they could keep their word by not killing a single American even though U.S. air attacks in defense of Afghan forces killed hundreds or even thousands of Taliban during that period.

Khalilzad also said the IEA could benefit from outside help on how to deal with Daesh in Afghanistan.

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Biden extends US national emergency over humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2023)

US President Joe Biden has extended for one more year the national emergency declared in his executive order with respect to the widespread humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the “potential for deepening economic collapse” in the country.

On February 11, 2022, Biden by an executive order declared a national emergency to deal with the “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” constituted by the widespread humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the potential for a deepening economic collapse in the country, the White House said.

“The widespread humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan — including the urgent needs of the people of Afghanistan for food security, livelihoods support, water, sanitation, health, hygiene, shelter and settlement assistance, and COVID-19-related assistance, among other basic human needs — and the potential for a deepening economic collapse in Afghanistan continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” White House said in a notice released on February 3.

“In addition, the preservation of certain property of Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) held in the United States by United States financial institutions is of the utmost importance to addressing this national emergency and the welfare of the people of Afghanistan,” the notice said.

“Various parties, including representatives of victims of terrorism, have asserted legal claims against certain property of DAB or indicated in public court filings an intent to make such claims. This property is blocked under Executive Order 14064.”

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Kandahar-Dubai flights resume

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2023)

Local officials in Kandahar province say flights between Kandahar and Dubai have resumed for the first time since the IEA took control of Afghanistan in August 2021.

The head of Ahmad Shah Baba International Airport in Kandahar has said that the flights have been resumed by Kam Air, the largest private airline in Afghanistan.

Kam Air officials meanwhile said that the west and south zones have more traders and industrialists; therefore, they have resumed the flights.

It is said that round-trip flights will also soon start between Kandahar and New Delhi and Kandahar and China.

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At least 8,000 Afghan refugees return from Iran in past week

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(Last Updated On: February 5, 2023)

Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities at the Refugee and Repatriation Department of Nimruz province announced that 7,612 Afghan refugees have returned to the country from Iran over the past week.

Sediqullah Nasrat, the director of the department said on Saturday that 519 refugees who were facing serious financial problems, received cash aid from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Nasrat added that IOM – the United Nations agency for migration – distributed food and other necessary items to the remaining families.

He said the 7,612 Afghan migrants returned to the country from Iran through the Abrishum border crossing.

This comes as the Ministry of Refugees and Repatriation on Saturday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with a private organization called ‘Osta’ to create employment opportunities for more than a thousand needy families.

Although many immigrants are forcibly returned to the country, the deterioration of the economic situation in Iran has also caused migrants to return to the country.

A number of immigration experts say that the new Afghan government should try to solve the problems of Afghan immigrants in host countries through diplomatic means, especially on the issue of accommodation, especially as many migrants do not have legal documents.

Although Iran and Pakistan have been hosting millions of Afghan refugees for years, recent developments in the country have increased the number of these migrants. Now, the Islamic Emirate says that they are trying to gradually provide job opportunities to the returning migrants.

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