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U.S. authorizes some transactions with IEA to keep aid flowing to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: December 23, 2021)

The United States formally exempted on Wednesday U.S. and U.N. officials doing permitted business with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [IEA] from U.S. sanctions to try to maintain the flow of aid to Afghanistan as it sinks deeper into a humanitarian crisis, Reuters reported.

According to Reuters it was unclear, however, whether the move would pave the way for proposed U.N. payments of some $6 million to the IEA for security.

Reuters on Tuesday exclusively reported a U.N. plan to subsidize next year the monthly wages of IEA-run Interior Ministry personnel who guard U.N. facilities and to pay them monthly food allowances, a proposal that raised questions about whether the payments would violate U.S. sanctions.

The Treasury Department declined to say whether the new license would exempt the proposed U.N. payments from U.S. sanctions on the IEA.

Having designated the IEA as a terrorist group for years, Washington has ordered its U.S. assets frozen and barred Americans from dealing with them, read the report.

The Treasury on Wednesday issued three general licenses aimed at easing humanitarian aid flows into Afghanistan.

According to Reuters two of the licenses allow U.S. officials and those of certain international organizations, such as the United Nations, to engage in transactions involving the IEA or Haqqani Network for official business.

A third license gives non-governmental organizations (NGOs) protection from U.S. sanctions on the IEA and the Haqqani Network for work on certain activities, including humanitarian projects.

According to the report a senior U.S. administration official said the Islamic Emirate [IE] would have to take action to prevent Afghanistan’s economy from contracting further.

“What we can attempt to do, what we’re going to work to do, is to mitigate the humanitarian crisis by getting resources to the Afghan people, and these general licenses will allow us to allow organizations that are doing this work to do exactly that,” the official told reporters.

The top Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee criticized the decision by Democratic President Joe Biden’s administration, Reuters reported.

The exemption “could result in using American taxpayer funds to reward, legitimize and enable the same IEA that took power by force and has shown no interest in abiding by international norms,” Representative Michael McCaul said in a statement.

Afghanistan’s economic crisis accelerated after the IEA seized power in August, as the former Western-backed government collapsed and the last U.S. troops withdrew.

The United States and other donors cut financial assistance, and more than $9 billion in Afghanistan’s hard currency assets were frozen, Reuters reported.

The United Nations says nearly 23 million people – about 55% of the population – are facing extreme levels of hunger, with nearly 9 million at risk of famine as winter takes hold, read the report.

“We will continue to support efforts by our partners to scale up assistance and deliver necessary relief during this moment of particular need,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

In a separate bid to address the crisis, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution exempting donors, aid groups and financial institutions involved in humanitarian assistance from U.N. asset freezes on leaders of the IEA and associated entities.

The exemption is “solely for the provision of humanitarian assistance and other activities that support basic human needs in Afghanistan which the council will review in one year,” Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a senior adviser to the U.S. mission to the United Nations, said in urging approval of the measure, Reuters reported.

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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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IEA claims it supports local media but urges them to stick to Islamic values

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) said Thursday it will support and cooperate with media outlets and journalists, both local and foreign, but urged them to observe Islamic principles and keep the interests of the country in mind.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the IEA’s spokesman said: “Today, the Media Violations Commission resumed its operations and the Information Access Commission will start its activities as soon as possible in the near future.”

He said the IEA is committed to supporting media outlets in the country in accordance with Sharia Law.

However, Mujahid urged media organizations to stick to Islamic values and principles in terms of broadcasting and publishing.

Mujahid said: “The government will continue to support media outlets financially and we will work to reduce the media’s problems to zero. We call on media officials to carry on their operations based on the principles of Islam.”

According to the Ministry of Information and Culture, currently, about 198 media outlets operate in the country, however, nearly 170 media organizations have closed down, largely due to financial constraints, since the collapse of the former government.

Many of these media organizations have lost staff who left Afghanistan after the US troops withdrawal while other, that were reliant on foreign donor money, lost all income.

Media support organizations have said that an estimated 6,000 media workers have left the country since the IEA take over.

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US looking to expand ties with Pakistan: Blinken

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(Last Updated On: May 19, 2022)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday told Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari that US President Joe Biden’s administration was looking forward to working with the new government in Pakistan and discussed “expanding partnership” between the two countries.

The meeting took place in New York on the sidelines of the food security meeting that the US is hosting in collaboration with the UN.

The meeting between Bilawal and Blinken came against the backdrop of strained ties between Pakistan and the US. The relationship during the PTI government between the two countries remained tense and there had been further dip in ties when former premier Imran Khan directly held the US responsible for his ouster, Pakistan’s Tribune reported.

Blinken said the US was keen to expand partnership with Pakistan on a range of issues covering economic as well as regional security issues.

According to a State Department statement, Blinken met with Bilawal to affirm the shared desire for a strong and prosperous bilateral relationship.

“The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed expanding partnership in climate, investment, trade, and health as well as people-to-people ties,” the statement read.

It further said the two foreign ministers underscored the importance of US-Pakistan cooperation on regional peace, counterterrorism, Afghan stability, support for Ukraine, and democratic principles.

The foreign minister added that as the current chair of the G77 and China, Pakistan welcomed the support of the UN secretary general to the objectives pursued by the developing countries at the global organisation.

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