US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has agreed to testify before the US House Oversight and Reform National Security Subcommittee on the Trump administration’s withdrawal strategy in Afghanistan and the impact it will have on women.
Khalilzad will testify on his return to Washington and also offered to provide the subcommittee with a closed-door classified briefing.
The US’s special envoy, who was in Doha, Qatar for the opening of intra-Afghan peace talks this past weekend is currently in Pakistan and is expected to visit India on Tuesday before returning to the US.
Chairman of the national security subcommittee Stephen Lynch welcomed the move and issued a statement late Monday night announcing this new development.
“I am grateful to US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad for agreeing to testify before the Subcommittee on National Security about the United States’ negotiations with the Taliban and the Government of Afghanistan.
“I look forward to examining the Trump Administration’s strategy, including potential impacts for Afghan women and US security interests in the region.
“After nearly two decades of conflict, the American people deserve to hear directly from the Administration about how it plans to bring a responsible end to the war in Afghanistan,” Lynch said.
On August 31 Lynch wrote a letter demanding testimony about the US strategy in Afghanistan from the Pentagon and the State Department after the Trump administration refused to appear before the subcommittee for more than a year.
Last week, Khalilzad however spoke with Lynch and committed to testifying before the subcommittee.
The Committee on Oversight and Reform is the main investigative committee in the US House of Representatives.
It has the authority to investigate the subjects within the committee’s legislative jurisdiction as well as “any matter” within the jurisdiction of the other standing House Committees.
It is unclear if the panel is still seeking testimony from the Pentagon.
UN Security Council to meet over situation in Afghanistan
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday that will focus on the current situation in Afghanistan.
UNSC members are expected to discuss economic, humanitarian and security concerns.
Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) spokesman Bilal Karimi said the IEA welcomed meetings that are held with the aim of cooperating with the government and people of Afghanistan.
He also said that Afghans expect cooperation and that such meetings must be held in accordance with international laws and principles.
However, the IEA still does not have a designated UN representative – one year after taking control of the country.
Instead, Naseer Ahmad Faiq, who assumed leadership of the Afghan mission to the UN in December last year, will address the security council members.
The IEA does not however recognize him as the legitimate envoy to the UN.
In a series of tweets on Monday, Faiq said that he would address the security council meeting and speak on behalf of Afghans.
“On behalf of Afghans, in this important meeting, like always, I would like to raise the voice of my nation,” he said.
In September last year, the IEA asked the UN to accredit Suhail Shaheen, the head of the IEA’s political office in Qatar, as the new ambassador.
But in December, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in which it indefinitely delayed a decision over the rival claims to the representative seat for Afghanistan.
At the time, the IEA criticized the UN’s failure to decide on this issue, saying it was ignoring the rights of the Afghan people.
Influential Muslim cleric al-Qaradawi dies at 96
Senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who was based in Qatar, died on Monday, according to a post on his official Twitter account.
The cleric was an Egyptian Islamic scholar and was chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.
He was best known for his programme al-Sharīʿa wa al-Ḥayāh (“Sharia and Life”), broadcast on Al Jazeera, which has an estimated audience of 40–60 million worldwide.
He is also known for IslamOnline, a website he helped to found in 1997 and for which he served as chief religious scholar.
Al-Qaradawi published more than 120 books, and received eight international prizes for his contributions to Islamic scholarship, and is considered one of the most influential Islamic scholars today.
Al-Qaradawi has long had a prominent role within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian political organization, although he repeatedly stated that he was no longer a member. He has over the years been critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
US spy satellite launched into orbit from California
A classified satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office launched into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 4 Heavy rocket on Saturday.
The NROL-91 spy satellite lifted off at 3:25 p.m. from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California’s Santa Barbara County, AP reported.
It was the last launch of a Delta 4 from the West Coast. Additional launches are planned from Florida before the Deltas are replaced by ULA’s next-generation Vulcan Centaur rockets.
The Delta IV Heavy configuration first launched in December 2004. This was the 387th flight of a Delta rocket since 1960 and the 95th and final launch from Vandenberg.
The National Reconnaissance Office is the government agency in charge of developing, building, launching and maintaining U.S. spy satellites that provide intelligence data to policymakers, the intelligence community and Defense Department.
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