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NATO chief says ‘no guarantee of success’ in Afghanistan peace process

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(Last Updated On: December 30, 2020)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said this week there is no guarantee of success in Afghanistan but that the organization will meet with incoming US President Joe Biden’s team in February in order to make a decision on whether to stay in the country or withdraw all its troops.

In an interview with Germany’s dpa news agency, Stoltenberg said: “Whatever we decide, there is a risk. If we decide to leave, the risk is that we will lose the gains we have made in fighting international terrorism to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven.

“If we stay, of course there is the risk that we will see increased fighting, violence, and that we will remain engaged in a long-term military conflict in Afghanistan,” he said.

He stated that “it’s a fragile peace process” currently and that there is “no guarantee of success”.

“But the ongoing talks in Doha between the Afghan government and Taliban is the only path to peace, and NATO strongly supports those efforts.

“We will have another meeting in February with the new Biden administration and then make our decisions,” Stoltenberg said.

This comes amid what he described as a fragile peace process – intra-Afghan negotiations, which are set to resume in Doha, Qatar, on January 5.

However, in February the US signed an agreement with the Taliban agreeing to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by April next year.

Already the US is down to only about 4,000 troops, from 13,000 a year ago, and by mid-January only 2,500 will remain.

According to Military.com, NATO had about 11,000 troops in Afghanistan at the end of November – a figure that includes US troops.

The largest contingents from other nations include Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy. Each had roughly between 900 and 1,000 troops supporting the effort as of June.

Stoltenberg’s interview with dpa comes a month after he expressed concern about the US’s withdrawal plan, saying the Taliban had not kept its end of the deal and a hasty withdrawal of troops could make the country a haven for terror groups.

“As you know, the United States has announced that it will reduce its presence in Afghanistan. But the NATO mission will remain,” he said in November. “And we will continue to provide support to Afghan security forces,” he said at the time.

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IEA expected to unveil plan to get exiled Afghan politicians to return home

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(Last Updated On: May 20, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is scheduled to announce its plan on Saturday on how it will entice exiled Afghan politicians to return home.

The new political commission, which held its third meeting late Thursday, is expected to hold a press conference where they will also announce the names of politicians that the seven-member commission will enter into talks with.

Shahabuddin Dilawar, acting minister of mines and petroleum, who heads the commission, said Friday the plan for the return of politicians has been approved by the IEA’s Supreme Leader, Haibatullah Akundzada.

“Its work has been completed, a plan has been prepared, and the mechanism has been completed. We also met with the Amir al-Mu’minin (supreme leader) on Friday and he approved [the plan]. Our arms are open to those who are abroad and they can return and live with dignity in their homeland,” said Dilawar.

Experts believe this is an important step in preventing further political and military tension in the country.

Politicians and well-known figures of the previous government have also emphasized the need to come together at the negotiating table with the IEA.

“We are optimistic about it. They can contact the coordinator of the High Council of National Resistance, that is in the form of a secretariat, for negotiations between the council and the Taliban (IEA) to be arranged,” said Mohammad Mohaqiq, chairman of the People’s Islamic Unity Party of Afghanistan.

A number of former government officials fled Afghanistan following the collapse of the republic.

Now, however, Hamdullah Mohib, the former national security adviser to ex-Afghan president Ashraf Ghani apologizes to the people for having played a role in the fall of the government and the departure of Ghani, saying that they had no choice but to leave Afghanistan to prevent further bloodshed.

“We had a plan to go to Doha to negotiate, and I personally wanted to negotiate with them [IEA], but that day (August 15) things changed very quickly, and the only good thing we did was to save our city, we were able to save the people of our city. Imagine if many people could not flee the country if the war went from street to street,” said Mohib.

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IEA says progress made on airport contracts with Qatar, Turkey

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(Last Updated On: May 20, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said on Friday that progress has been made in negotiations with Qatar and Turkey to manage the country’s airports but that no final agreement has yet been reached with the two countries.

The IEA’s deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi said an IEA delegation, led by the acting foreign minister, to Doha recently, focused on areas of concern which were identified and that efforts were now being made to resolve the issues.

Among those who met with Turkish and Qatari officials was the IEA’s acting minister of transport and civil aviation.

“The meetings and negotiations were good, and the issues that postponed the negotiations and the points that are complicated were identified as the same points, and the same points will be examined to solve the problems, but no agreement has been reached yet,” said Karimi.

Meanwhile, the First Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar recently met with businessmen in Doha and told them he had instructed transport and aviation ministry officials to prioritize negotiations on airport management.

“In the discussion of airports, especially Kabul airport, we have talks inside and outside with a number of countries, but we have not yet reached an agreement with anyone, and we are considering it and informing the aviation authorities to take this issue seriously,” said Baradar.

This comes after several meetings in the past few months between the technical teams of the transport and aviation ministry and delegates from Turkey and Qatar.

Earlier this year, reports emerged that Turkey and Qatar were trying to deploy troops to Afghan airports, but the Islamic Emirate has denied the allegations, stressing that their talks with Qatar and Turkey are of a technical nature and there is no talk of a foreign troop presence in the country.

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Exiled Afghan politicians form council, call for talks with IEA

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

A number of exiled Afghan politicians recently gathered in Turkey’s capital Ankara where they formed a council and called on the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) to engage in talks with them.

The politicians met at the residence of former vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum and included Abdu Rab-ur-Rasool Sayyaf, Atta Mohammad Noor, Mohammad Mohaqiq, Karim Khalili, Ahmad Wali Masoud, Mohammad Alam Ezidyar and Mir Rahman Rahmani.

Ehsan Nero, a spokesman for Dostum, said that the meeting was held to exchange views on how “we could change the challenging situation in Afghanistan.”

While urging talks with IEA, the politicians issued a statement and declared support for the conflict that is underway in some provinces in the country.

“Such a large meeting was held in Turkey with the Turkish police providing security. They will meet again in Austria two weeks later and then in Geneva. There is certainly something fishy going on,” said Ahmad Saeedi, a political analyst.

Habibullah Janibdar, another political analyst, however, said that such meetings would not help Afghanistan as Afghans have already tested these politicians.

The IEA meanwhile has already formed a commission to encourage Afghans in exile to return home.

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the IEA, said that the “door for talks is already open.”

“We have no problems with any Afghan. We would welcome anyone returning. They would be protected. They would be respected. Their wealth would be safe,” Mujahid said.

“But Allah forbid, if they intend to start a war, then obviously Afghans won’t allow it,” Mujahid warned.

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