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US completes as much as 25% of retrograde process in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: May 26, 2021)

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) said this week that it has “completed between 16-25 percent of the entire retrograde process.”

CENTCOM said in a statement United States Department of Defense has retrograded the equivalent of approximately 160 C-17 loads of material out of Afghanistan and has turned over more than 10,000 pieces of equipment to the Defense Logistics Agency for disposition.

The US has officially handed over five facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defense, the statement said.

The CENTCOM did not elaborate on the installations. 

“For operational security reasons we will only be providing an approximate range of the percentage of the exit process that is complete,” the statement noted. 

“As the responsible and orderly exit continues, the size of the range will increase to preserve operational security. This update includes the progress on the retrograde of troops and equipment from Afghanistan, the turning over of equipment and facilities to the ANDSF, as well as the destruction of some equipment,” the statement concluded.

The foreign troops’ withdrawal process started officially early this month. According to US President Joe Biden’s decision, the withdrawal process will be complete by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on the United States. 

Meanwhile, Senator Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was on Tuesday critical of US President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw U.S. forces in Afghanistan by September 11 and warned that this decision is not underpinned by a clear plan to mitigate the risks once troops have withdrawn.

Addressing the U.S. Senate, McConnell said Biden’s decision was “dangerous, wishful thinking”.

He said the decision “is not underpinned by a coherent plan to mitigate the geopolitical and humanitarian risk that our departure will create.”

“When we are gone, after we leave, there’s every reason to believe al-Qaeda will regroup in its historic safe haven.

“Giving up the high ground while the enemy is still on the battlefield is not a strategic move. Neither is banking on conducting so-called over the horizon counterterrorism missions without presence on the ground,” he said.

McConnell said the U.S. had learned that in order to fight terrorists, it was important to have reliable access and local partnerships.

He said the U.S. military currently flies both reconnaissance and strike missions against terrorists from within Afghanistan – adding that the country is not easy to get to as the neighboring countries are Iran, Pakistan and Russian-influenced Central Asian nations.

“They aren’t exactly likely to let the U.S. base significant counterterrorism units in their country. So where will we be basing these forces? How will we maintain sorties from thousands of miles away?,” he asked.

He also said: “How many forces will be required to secure our embassy if a pro-Taliban mob threatens to overrun it. What will we do to protect it? Where will a quick reaction force be based if not in Afghanistan?”

McConnell said Washington had learned about the “tyranny of distance” from the 2012 Benghazi attack against two United States government facilities in Libya , which claimed the lives of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and another diplomat.

“If the Taliban takes Kabul, will the Biden administration recognize it as the legitimate government of Afghanistan?,” he asked, adding “will we shutter our embassy and our aid programs?”

The reality, he said, was “they don’t know. They can’t say. There’s no plan.”

He went on to state that the U.S. was in fact “abandoning” Afghanistan.

“It’s not courageous to abandon our allies,” he said.

“The horrific, horrific reports of the Taliban beginning to reimpose their version of Sharia Law are just a taste of the catastrophes facing our friends in Afghanistan who have borne the brunt of the fight.

“Human rights, women’s rights, counterterrorism, refugee flows – as far as I can tell, the administration has no plan,” he said.

He stated the world “will see it for what it is – retreating from the fight; abandoning our partners.

“This is the president’s decision. He chose a precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan. Unbelievably, he even chose the anniversary of September 11 as the deadline.”

In conclusion, McConnell said he hopes once Biden’s team has confronted the president with the risks, he hopes “the president will think again and reconsider”.

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UN official appeals foreign greater int’l aid after visit to quake-hit region

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(Last Updated On: June 27, 2022)

A top UN official in Afghanistan appealed on Sunday for greater international aid for the country, after he visited communities affected by last week’s devastating earthquake.

“Yesterday’s visit reaffirmed to me both the extreme suffering of people in Afghanistan and their tremendous resolve in the face of great adversity,” said Ramiz Alakbarov, Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan.

The UN and its partners have developed a three-month emergency appeal, included within their humanitarian plan for Afghanistan this year, to respond to the catastrophe.

The goal is to scale up and expedite the delivery of humanitarian and resilience assistance to nearly 362,000 people in the two provinces, Paktika and Khost, that were most affected.

“Notwithstanding the phenomenal generosity that donors have already displayed to Afghanistan over these past tumultuous ten months, I urge the international community to dig deep at this time, as the population confronts yet another emergency, and to pledge support to these life-saving and life-sustaining efforts,” he said.

On Saturday, Alakbarov, accompanied by representatives from other UN agencies, travelled to the villages of Mir Sahib and Khanadin, located in Gayan district, Paktika province – one of the areas worst affected by the 6.1 magnitude earthquake.

More than 1,000 people are reported killed and another 2,000 injured in the earthquake in east Afghanistan. According to UN data, 235 people were killed and 600 others were injured in Gayan district alone.

The delegation met with residents, many of whom had lost family members and friends, including several orphaned and separated children, and whose homes are now uninhabitable.

“In addition to food assistance and emergency shelter and repair, interventions such as the restoration of damaged water pipes and cholera prevention and preparedness activities are absolutely vital, as are the restoration of communication lines, road access, and basic livelihoods,” said Alakbarov.

“Without such transitional support, women, men, and children will continue to endure unnecessary and unimaginable hardship,” he added.

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Former commander of Faryab’s uprising forces returns to Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

A well-known commander of former uprising forces in Faryab province, Nizamuddin Qaisari, returned to Afghanistan on Sunday after fleeing the country.

Qaisari’s returns comes after efforts were made by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’s (IEA) Contact Commission with Afghan Personalities.

Speaking at a meeting after his arrival, Qaisari said the reason for his return is so he can serve his country. He also called on the IEA to form an inclusive government that represents all ethnic groups in the country

“I came for my people; now we have Islamic government; I want to help and work for the government if they want [me] to; I am ready to serve,” Qaisari said. “I am here to unify people, Pashtun, Hazara, Tajik and others.”

The IEA meanwhile welcomes the return of political figures, even those who were once opposed to the Islamic Emirate, the IEA has said.

Experts believe that Afghanistan is the shared home of all Afghans, and the return of political figures and experts in various fields can provide the basis for lasting stability as well as growth and prosperity of Afghanistan.

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Polio vaccination campaign rolls out in western Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: June 26, 2022)

More than one million Afghan children are expected to be vaccinated over the next few days in the latest polio vaccination campaign that was launched in western Afghanistan on Sunday.

Officials said the campaign will run for four days and be conducted across four provinces in the western region.

Waheed Rahmani, head of the vaccination campaign, said that 1.1 million children under the age of five are expected to receive the polio drops, including 720,000 in Herat province.

He said that so far there are no obstacles in the way of rolling out the campaign.

Volunteers said that they hope to reach all the children who need to be vaccinated.

“I along with my team will work honestly to make Afghanistan free from polio virus,” said Fina Nezami, a volunteer.

“I hope that Afghanistan becomes polio-free and we are happy to go door to door for vaccinations,” said Yagana Nabizada, another volunteer.

Local health officials have assured the public that all areas will be covered by the campaign.

“We have not forgotten areas, and while planning vaccination programs, all the areas are reviewed and if any area is left out, it will be immediately covered,” said Mohammad Asif Kabir, provincial deputy health director.

Around 728,000 children received polio drops in the previous campaign in Herat. Around 5,000 volunteers are involved in the current campaign in Herat.

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