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Turkey, Qatar reached preliminary deal on Kabul airport security

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Turkey and Qatar have reached agreement on ensuring security at Kabul’s main airport should they be awarded the mission amid ongoing talks with the Islamic Emirate (IE) government, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Kabul’s international airport is landlocked Afghanistan’s main air link to the world. Following the August takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Turkey has said it would be open to operating it with Qatar but only if its security demands are met.

Reuters has reported that the United Arab Emirates also held talks with the Taliban to keep the airport operational.

The sources told reporters on Thursday that Ankara and Doha had agreed on a security framework for the airport mission, but added talks continued on other aspects such as financing.

“It is expected for the Taliban [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] to ensure security outside, and for whoever runs the airport to ensure it inside,” one of the sources said. “The process is continuing constructively,” the person said on condition of anonymity.

They added that a delegation of Turkish and Qatari officials were holding talks on the issue in Kabul this week, Reuters reported.

Qatar’s state news agency said the IEA government will be in Doha next week to complete discussions with Qatar and Turkey over the operation and management of the airport.

It added that delegations from Qatar and Turkey have held two days of “intense negotiations” in Kabul this week over control of the airport.

Qatar – which helped run the airport along with Turkey after playing a major role in evacuation efforts following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal in August – say that Ankara, Doha, and the IEA have agreed that discussions are going to be completed next week.

Qatar’s role at the Kabul airport has ensured that flights have operated between Doha and Kabul since September, allowing Qatar to become a hub for countries to maintain links to Afghanistan and to meet the IEA government. The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and several other countries have moved their Afghanistan embassies to Qatar, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was sending 700 tonnes of emergency aid and supplies to Afghanistan, without providing a date.

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IEA assures Afghan protesters in Pakistan they will be safe at home

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(Last Updated On: May 25, 2022)

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that Afghans who fled to Pakistan following the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) take over in August last year can return home and their safety will be ensured.

The ministry said that a number of Afghans who have been protesting in Islamabad for some time now want to be evacuated to other countries.

These Afghans have told Pakistani media that their lives would be in danger if they returned home.

However, the IEA’s foreign ministry said this would not be the case and that “the Islamic Emirate reiterates that Afghanistan is the common home of all Afghans, there is no threat to them, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or region.”

“The Islamic Emirate considers ensuring the security of every citizen as its religious and national duty,” the IEA said in the statement.

The ministry also said that many of the protesters are people who have been living in Pakistan for years and are now using the opportunity to try to get asylum in Western countries.

They are an estimated 300,000 to 400,000 Afghans in Pakistan who fled there during last year’s take over. This is in addition to the 1.5 million refugees who have been living in Pakistan for decades.

On Monday, hundreds of Afghan nationals, who have been camping outside the National Press Club in Islamabad for weeks, staged a protest rally in the capital calling to be relocated to the West.

One protester, Alyas Zaki, told Dawn News: “We are here and want to get settled in any developed country. So far, we are not being given the status of refugees here.”

He said Pakistan was also not providing asylum to them, adding: “We know people of Pakistan are also facing several challenges such as unemployment and high inflation, therefore, frankly speaking, we want to stay in any developed country,” he said.

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Russia’s death toll in Ukraine already the same as 10 years in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 24, 2022)

Russian troops in Ukraine have likely suffered as many losses in three months as the Soviet army did during over nine years of fighting in Afghanistan, according to a British government report.

The latest update from Britain’s Defence Intelligence agency claims that “a combination of poor low-level tactics, limited air cover, a lack of flexibility, and a command approach which is prepared to reinforce failure and repeat mistakes” has led to Russia’s high casualty rate among its troops in Ukraine.

According to the latest report from the General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, the Russian military has sustained 29,200 casualties in Ukraine since the beginning of the war on February 24, Newsweek reported.

This number is probably inflated by Ukrainian authorities, but estimates from Western intelligence report a Russian death toll that’s still much higher than the one the Kremlin is officially recognizing.

In the latest official Russian report, the country’s death toll in Ukraine was just over 1,500 casualties.

Newsweek has reached out to the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.

On May 15, the British Ministry of Defence estimated that Russia had likely lost a third of its troops sent to conduct the invasion of Ukraine.

In March, the Russian tabloid newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda briefly published a story claiming Russian troops had suffered 10,000 casualties in Ukraine. The article was later deleted, with the tabloid’s newsroom denying responsibility for it.

It’s likely that Russia has suffered even more casualties than reported by the Soviet army in Afghanistan between December 1979 and February 1989, Newsweek reported.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 turned into a brutal, long conflict that saw the death of an estimated one million civilians, 90,000 Mujahideen fighters and 18,000 Afghan troops. The Soviet Union lost about 14,500-15,000 men.

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UK MPs blast ‘systemic failures of leadership, planning’ of Afghan withdrawal

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(Last Updated On: May 24, 2022)

The UK’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year showed “systemic failures of leadership, planning and preparation”, according to a scathing inquiry by British MPs published on Tuesday.

The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee probe revealed a “fundamental lack of planning, grip or leadership at a time of national emergency” before and during the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) takeover of Kabul in August last year, France24 reported.

“The manner of our withdrawal from Afghanistan was a disaster and a betrayal of our allies that will damage the UK’s interests for years to come,” the report said.

At the time, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed a mission “unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes” with the UK airlifting over 15,000 people in two weeks.

But foreign secretary at the time, Dominic Raab, was heavily criticised for not immediately leaving a beach holiday when the IEA took control.

The report however stated that during the run-up to the IEA takeover, the government and civil servants suffered from an “optimism bias” that the US would change its mind about withdrawing, despite it having been announced by president Donald Trump in February 2020.

“The UK government failed adequately to shape or respond to Washington’s decision to withdraw, to predict the speed of the Taliban’s (IEA) takeover, or to plan and prepare for the evacuation of our Afghan partners,” it added.

“Most damning for the Foreign Office is the total absence of a plan for evacuating Afghans who supported the UK mission, without being directly employed by the UK government, despite knowing 18 months before the collapse of Afghanistan that an evacuation might be necessary.”

In responding to questions from the Committee, which started work on the report in September, the Foreign Office “provided answers that were intentionally evasive and often deliberately misleading”.

Instead, two whistleblowers provided crucial testimony to the committee, France24 reported.

“Those who lead the Foreign Office should be ashamed that civil servants of great integrity felt compelled to risk their careers to bring the situation to light,” the report said.

The committee called on the government to “commit to a serious strategy for future engagement with Afghanistan”, warning that “attempts to isolate the new regime entirely may only hurt the Afghan people and leave a vacuum to be filled by China.

“Failure to do so would abandon women and girls in the single biggest reversal of rights in a generation,” it said.

It called on the UK to re-establish a diplomatic presence “as soon as it is safe to do so, and to work with those on the ground who can support civil society”, France24 reported.

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