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White House receives ‘intel’ on Chinese bounties against US forces

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(Last Updated On: December 31, 2020)

The Trump administration is reportedly declassifying as-yet uncorroborated intelligence, that claims China offered to pay non-state actors in Afghanistan to attack US forces, two senior administration officials tell Axios.

The Chinese embassy in Washington DC did not respond to a request for comment by Axios and according to the report outgoing President Donald Trump is not believed to have discussed the matter with China’s President Xi Jinping.

It was not immediately clear whether any members of Congress or President-elect Joe Biden have been briefed, though Biden now has access to the President’s Daily Brief.

The intelligence was included in the president’s briefing on December 17, and Trump was verbally briefed on the matter by National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, officials told Axios.

According to the Axios article, administration officials across multiple agencies are currently working to corroborate the initial intelligence reports.

Axios was not able to visually inspect any reports detailing the intelligence but they reported stated a summary was described by the officials over the phone.

Axios meanwhile stated that if this intelligence were to be confirmed, it would represent a dramatic strategic shift for China, and sharply escalate tensions between China and the US and on the other hand, if the intelligence does not prove accurate, it raises questions about the motivations of the sources behind it as well as the decision to declassify it.

China has long played a quiet diplomatic role in Afghanistan, inviting Afghan Taliban officials to Beijing to discuss plans for a peace deal and encouraging an Afghan-led solution, though Chinese-made weapons and financing have at times also flowed into the conflict there.

But one senior official told Axios “like all first reports, we react with caution to initial reports” but “any intel reports relating to the safety of our forces we take very seriously.”

Another source said: “The US has evidence that the PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempted to finance attacks on American servicemen by Afghan non-state actors by offering financial incentives or ‘bounties’,” and said the National Security Council “is coordinating a whole-of-government investigation.”

He would not say whether he was referring to the Taliban, or give details about who “non-state actors” were, Axios reported.

The timing of the alleged bounty offer is unclear. The source would say only that this happened some time after late February when the US struck its deal with the Taliban.

This latest development comes just days after Afghan security officials announced they had discovered an alleged Chinese spy ring operating in the country apparently seeking to target Uyghurs.

Last week, officials confirmed that Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) detained 10 Chinese nationals on charges of espionage after busting the alleged spy ring.

The Hindustan Times reported that Beijing had tried to persuade the Afghan government to keep the case under wraps as it is a huge embarrassment for the communist country, people familiar with the matter told the Indian daily.

A senior diplomat in Kabul told the Hindustan Times that two of the 10 Chinese nationals were in touch with Haqqani Network and that Li Yangyang, one of the detainees, had been operating since July or August.

The Times reported the alleged spy was arrested by the NDS on December 10.

Another detainee, Sha Hung, reportedly ran a restaurant in Kabul’s Sherpur area, in the city center.

The Times stated that while both Chinese nationals were in touch with Haqqani Network, Li was gathering information about al-Qaeda, Taliban, and Uyghurs in Kunar and Badakhshan provinces.

Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu has reportedly been briefed about the situation by Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who in turn allegedly threatened Beijing with criminal proceedings unless it apologizes formally and admits to the violation of international protocol.

Afghanistan shares its border with China’s Xinjiang, home to Uighur Muslims who seek refuge in the country.

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IEA approves committee to regulate, improve and advance Hajj affairs

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2022)

Enamullah Samangani, Deputy Spokesman of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), said Saturday that cabinet has approved a plan to establish a National Hajj Committee to regulate, improve and advance Hajj-related issues.

Samangani wrote on his Twitter page: “The committee is chaired by Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi, Deputy Prime Minister, and the Ministries of Guidance, Hajj and Endowments, Transport and Aviation, Justice, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Public Health and Interior ministry, the general directorate of intelligence (GDI), and the chamber of commerce are its members.”

According to Samangani, in order to regulate, improve and advance Hajj affairs in the provinces, a committee chaired by the deputy governor with the participation of delegates from the departments of Hajj and Endowments, airport, police headquarters, intelligence and public health should be established.

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UN envoy says Afghanistan’s new rulers have no clear plan for good governance

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2022)

The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons says the new Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) government has an unclear strategy in terms of leading the political and economic situation.

In an interview with CNN, Lyons said the IEA does not have a clear plan for good governance and its economic plan is unclear.

She said she has met separately with the leaders of the new government, but no specific plans have been put forward so far.

“We have tried to find out what their views are on Afghanistan, how they want to develop this country, so far they do not have a clear definition in this regard, so far there is no plan to determine how they want to lead the country, if they have an economic plan, what is that?

“We are still working in separate meetings with the leaders to find out what the plans are for the future and overcoming the problems. We are currently acting as a bridge between Afghanistan and the international community,” said Lyons.

According to her, some leaders of the IEA agree that girls should go to school, but not everyone has yet reached a common decision.

“In my meeting with the leaders of the incumbent government, I found that some of them know that this issue is very important for the international community and they are in favor of reopening schools for girls, but others have the opposite view, a single position has not yet been formed.

“Afghanistan is the only country in the world where girls are not allowed to go to school,” said Lyons.

At the same time, former President Hamid Karzai has welcomed the IEA’s desire to have good diplomatic relations with the United States and other international countries, but said he hopes the new rulers decide as soon as possible on the reopening of girls’ schools.

“Sirajuddin Haqqani spoke of the government’s willingness to have good diplomatic relations with the United States and the international community which is in the interest of Afghanistan. He [Haqqani] also said that the girls would return to school soon, which I hope would happen as soon as possible,” said Karzai.

Speaking to CNN, Karzai said the issue of hijab was clear. “Afghanistan is an Islamic country and the issue of women’s hijab is very clear in Islam,” he said.

Afghan women already wore hijab, covering the face is not a hijab, covering the face by female media workers who appear on TV is also not a hijab; this is not Afghan culture, he said.

He called on the IEA to scrap the decision that women must cover their faces. On the issue of teenage girls not going to school, Karzai stated that girls need to return to school as soon as possible.

“I denounce it in the strongest words and want the Taliban (IEA) to allow girls to go back to school as soon as possible,” he said.

Karzai also confirmed a recent report by a US watchdog organization that the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan led to the military collapse of the republic.

According to Karzai, a number of other issues also contributed to this including, the Doha Agreement, and the more than 3,000 US airstrikes a year.

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World Bank pays over $150 million to boost Afghanistan’s health sector

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(Last Updated On: May 21, 2022)

The World Bank recently provided $150 million to the Afghan Ministry of Public Health to help pay for medicine, medical equipment and salaries, Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) officials said this week.

According to the ministry the assistance was provided by the World Bank in accordance with a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on February 7 in Switzerland, by Dr. Qalandar Ebad, acting Minister of Public Health, and his accompanying delegation.

The money is to be used for primary health care in 34 provinces, including the payment of salaries and training of health workers, the provision of medicine, medical equipment, the fight against diseases, and the strengthening of oversight of health services, said the health ministry.

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