|23 Civilians Killed Last Week: NSC|
|[ToloNews] The National Security Council (NSC) on Saturday released data on civilian casualties, saying 23 and 45 others were in violence over the last week.|
The Taliban has not responded.
Figures by the National Security Council indicate that 16 provinces of the country have witnessed 284 attacks by the Taliban in the last seven days.
NSC Javed Faisal said in a tweet that "the Taliban continue to take the lives of civilians in Afghanistan" and that "this phase of attacks on civilians can only deteriorate the already shaken trust on the will of the Taliban."
According to data from the NSC, the violence happened in 16 provinces, including Kabul, Kandahar, and This comes a day after an official of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights (AIHRC) called for practical steps by the Taliban to reduce violence.
, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation who with a speech closed a consultative meeting on peace with envoys from 20 countries, on Thursday called the level of violence by the Taliban unacceptable and urged for efforts to move the forward.
Statistics by AIHRC show that 86,823 and in 2019 in Afghanistan.
But a Taliban has claimed that the attacks initiated by the group have reduced by 60 percent. In the US-Taliban deal, the Taliban committed to not attack cities and highways in the country.
Critics say that Taliban violence will continue at least until the US elections in November, because of the uncertainty of the fate of the US-Taliban deal signed in February.
|Jamiat Party Votes In New Leader Shadab, Ousts Rabbani|
|[ToloNews] A number of members of the Leadership Council on Wednesday, in a move led by Atta Mohammad Noor, voted in a majority to replace the current leader Salahuddin Rabbani with Enayatullah Shadab, who will now lead the council.|
Based on the council's decision, the Jamaat party will play a significant role in the as well as in the government, but other members of the council's leadership, led by Salahuddin Rabbani, see the decision as an Intra-party conspiracy and added that Rabbani will continue to his job as the chairman of the party leadership council.
Tensions have risen among members of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, led by Atta Mohammad Noor, after Enayatullah Shadab' replaced Salahuddin Rabbani.
"Cohesion is the focus of reform and reconstruction in the Jamaat itself, this decision will stand until a congress of the Jamaat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan. (In the meantime) one of the most respected and founders of party, Professor Enayatullah Shadab, will lead chairmanship of the Jamaat leadership council," said Abdul Hafiz Mansour, a member of the leadership council of Jamaat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan.
A number of other members of the Jamaat-e-Islami party council, led by Salahuddin Rabbani, have called the decision an Intra-party conspiracy and in a statement suspended council membership of Atta Mohammad Noor, Younos Qanoni, Kalimullah Naqibi, Hafiz Mansour, Abdul Shokor Waqif Hakimi, Enayatullah Shadab and Abdul Satar Murad.
"The Jamaat-e- Islamic party of Afghanistan, emphasizing its previous positions on the country's major political issues, considers yesterday's meeting a conspiracy and against the party's principles and the party constitution," said Waliullah Adib, a member of the leadership council of Jamaat-e-Islami party of Afghanistan.
Salahuddin Rabbani headed the Jamaat-e-Islami party after the of late , the former head of the High Peace Council.
"The day before, we witnessed the convening of the congress of the Jamaat-e-Islami Party of Afghanistan, in which the interim chairman was elected, which should have taken place three years ago," said Tawofiq Wahdat, MP.
Tensions between Salahuddin Rabbani and a number of members of the party escalated after an agreement was signed between President Ghani and , Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation.
|Taliban Continues to Back Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan: UN|
|[ToloNews] A UN report released on Friday states that the has failed to fulfill one of the core parts of the US-Taliban agreement, namely that it would break ties with al-Qaeda. The agreement was signed in February in Doha, , after months of negotiations.|
Al-Qaeda has 400 to 600 operatives active in 12 Afghan provinces and is running training camps in the east of the country, according to the report.
"The Taliban regularly consulted with al-Qaeda during negotiations with the United States and offered guarantees that it would honor their historical ties," the report states.
The US-Taliban agreement stated that the Taliban "will not allow any of its members, other individuals or groups, including al-Qaeda, to use the soil of Afghanistan to threaten the security of the United States and its allies," and would not "cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies" and would prevent such groups "from recruiting, training, and fundraising."
The ship of al-Qaeda remains present in Afghanistan, the report says, as well as hundreds of armed operatives, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent, and groups of foreign terrorist fighters aligned with the Taliban.
A number of significant al-Qaeda figures were killed in Afghanistan during the reporting period, the report says.
Relations between the Taliban, especially the and al-Qaeda "remain close, based on friendship, a history of shared struggle, ideological sympathy and intermarriage," said the report.
The report also highlights ’s subversive activities in the country, saying that the UN monitoring team now estimates that numbers are as low as 2,200 in Afghanistan.
The report says that "remains capable of mounting attacks in various parts of the country, including Kabul," but some of those attacks claimed "may have arisen wholly or partly from a tactical accommodation with the Haqqani network."
The authors of the report argue that the Taliban’s credibility as a counter-terrorism partner for the international community will "rest on their success in countering the threat from ’s Khorasan branch," in addition to their handling of any threat posed by al-Qaeda, the report says.
According to the report, the number of foreign terrorist fighters "in search of a purpose and livelihood" in Afghanistan, including "up to 6,500 Paks," will "render this a complex challenge," which will require careful monitoring.
The report come as the Afghan government has expedited its efforts for peace by continuing to release Taliban prisoners from its prisons to move forward towards the intra-Afghan negotiations that , the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said he hopes will begin in the next week.
|Afghan Govt's Release of Taliban Will Continue: ONSC|
|[ToloNews] The Afghan government will continue the release of prisoners to begin intra-Afghan negotiations and to help the announced reduction in violence go on, said the National Security Council on Sunday.|
President on May 24 pledged to release 2,000 Taliban prisoners as a goodwill gesture in response to the Eid ceasefire announced by the Taliban. So far, the government has released 1,700 detainees of this latest pledged tranche, bringing the total number of Taliban released to 2,700.
The Taliban has also released over 420 prisoners, 73 of them during the last few days from Balkh, , Kunduz, Paktia, and s.
"The process will continue so that based on President Ghani’s decree, 2,000 prisoners are released," said Javid Faisal, a for National Security Council.
"The intra-Afghan negotiations will begin when 5,000 Taliban prisoners are released. I don’t think they will begin before that," said Sami Yausafzai, a journalist familiar with the matter.
The Presidential Palace says the Afghan government is ready for intra-Afghan negotiations.
"We are fully ready for the process," said presidential Sediq Sediqqi "The negotiation team is ready, and the High Council for National Reconciliation has been established and we are fully ready for beginning the negotiations."
Rights activists said the prisoners' release should be carried out responsibly.
"No doubt, prisoners will be released to begin the intra-Afghan negotiations, but the issue is that those who are released-- are they accused of war crime and crimes against humanity or not?" said Zabihullah Farhang, head of the media office of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission.
On Saturday, , head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said he hopes the intra-Afghan negotiations will begin in the next week, and he reiterated that the negotiation team and the Afghan government are ready for the process.
Hizb-e-Islami: Top Members in Still Not Released by Afghan Govt
[ToloNews] The Hizb-e-Islami party led by is not "happy and satisfied" with the release of its prisoners by the Afghan government, a process that is part of a peace deal signed between Hekmatyar and President Ashraf Ghani in 2016.
Based on the agreement, the government pledged to release almost 3,000 prisoners of Hizb-e-Islami, and, according to members of the party, at least 600 prisoners have been released, including 164 of them freed on Friday.
"Our prisoners were in Guantanamo as well as in Pul-e-Charkhi and Bagram prison (in Afghanistan). We can say that our top prisoners are still in prison," said Atiqullah Safi, head of Hizb-e-Islami’s commission for the release of prisoners.
Among the 164 prisoners released on Friday, some of them claimed they were arrested on charges of being a member, not a member of Hizb-e-Islami.
But Safi rejected this claim by saying that there are no Taliban members in their list given to the government.
"All those on the list...are related to Hizb-e-Islami. We have taken guarantees from each of our prisoners and they have been introduced to us by their families and provincial members of Hizb-e-Islami," Safi said.
|Taliban Qatar meetings: Taliban meet Iran rep, US peace envoy, who meets Indian foreign minister|
Top Iranian official hold talks with Taliban leaders in Qatar
[KhaamaPress] A top Iranian official held talks with the leaders based in the political office of the group in i capital of Doha, it has been reported.
Iranian Foreign Ministry’s special assistant for Afghanistan affairs Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian in a phone conversation with officials of Taliban political bureau in Qatar reviewed current developments in Afghanistan, according to IRNA news agency.
The source further added that both sides discussed the future of intra-Afghan talks and all-out efforts to prevent the spread of in Afghanistan.
This comes as the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Afghanistan remains one of the main concerns of the Afghan government and the international community, especially Afghanistan’s neighbors.
According to IRNA, Taherian had earlier held separate talks with President , former Chief Executive Officer of Afghanistan , Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Hanif Atmar, National Security Advisor Hamdollah Mohib, former president and some other prominent Afghan officials advised to form an inclusive Government in Afghanistan.
US’s Khalilzad Meets With Taliban Deputy Leader in Qatar
[ToloNews] The US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has met with the Taliban's deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Qatar on Wednesday and discussed the prisoner release, intra-Afghan talks and the US-Taliban peace agreement, Taliban's spokesman Suhail Shaheen said.
The US State Department on Wednesday said that Khalilzad departed on May 5 for travel to Doha, New Delhi, and Islamabad.
“In Doha, Ambassador Khalilzad will meet with Taliban representatives to press for full implementation of the US-Taliban agreement,” it said, adding: “In New Delhi, he will meet with Indian officials to discuss the important role of India in a sustainable peace in Afghanistan and the region.”
The statement said that in Islamabad, Khalilzad will meet with Pakistani officials and will also discuss the Afghan peace process.
Khalilzad and Baradar signed a peace agreement on Feb. 29. The US-Taliban deal called for the Taliban to release up to 1,000 government prisoners, and for the Afghan government to free up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners before peace talks that were to begin on March 10.
But a dispute over the pace and scale of the releases between the militants and the government, which was not a party to the deal, helped delay the talks.
US’s Khalilzad Meets with Indian Officials on Afghan Peace
[ToloNews] The US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Thursday afternoon met with Indian officials and discussed the US peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. Khalilzad was accompanied by the senior director in the US National Security Council, Lisa Curtis, and the US ambassador to India, Mr. Ken Juster.
Khalilzad provided an update on the US peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, saying: “The US side recognized India's constructive contribution in economic development, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan,” the statement read.
“They laid importance to India's crucial and continuing role in sustainable peace, security and stability in Afghanistan,” it said.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India's minister of external affairs and NSA reiterated India's continued support for strengthening peace, security, unity, democratic and inclusive polity and protection of rights of all sections of the Afghan society, including Afghan Hindus and Sikhs.
“India is deeply concerned at the upsurge in violence and supports call for immediate ceasefire and need to assist the people of Afghanistan in dealing with coronavirus pandemic. India remains engaged in extending humanitarian food and medical supplies to Afghanistan to deal with the situation created by coronavirus,” said the statement.
“It was emphasized that putting an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries is necessary for enduring and sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” it added.
|An insight into Adib Fahim’s decision to distance himself from Abdullah|
|[KhaamaPress] Adib Fahim, the former deputy intelligence chief of Afghanistan and elder son of the former vice president Mohammad Qasim Fahim, has distanced himself from , apparently due to an eternal feud.|
Sources privy of the development said Adib distanced himself from Abdullah due to the internal political differences, mainly having links over the title of the Marshal of Afghanistan.
The sources further added that Adib decided to distance himself from Abdullah’s team as he opposed with the decision to confer the title of Marshal of Afghanistan to Gen. Abdul Rashid Adib posted a short statement online on Monday, indirectly criticizing Abdullah for remaining short to respect an ’age-old’ friendship, brotherhood and loyalty, accusing him (Abdullah) of considering political concession against historical values of ’Jihad and ’.
Qasim Fahim, the former vice president of Afghanistan, who died of an illness in 2014, was conferred with the title of Marshal of Afghanistan following the fall of regime.
This comes as reports emerged earlier suggesting a crack in electoral team of Abdullah Abdullah, having links with the political differences. The reports emerged amid ongoing efforts to end the political stalemate which intensified following the controversial conduct and announcement of presidential elections.
On the other hand, Abdullah announced last week that his team has reached to an agreement in principle to end the ongoing political tensions with President Mohammad
|SEALs tried to locate US citizen taken by Afghan militants|
|WASHINGTON (AP) Mark Frerichs, a contractor from Illinois, poses in Iraq in this undated photo obtained from Twitter that he would include with his resume when job hunting. Frerichs was abducted in Afghanistan in January 2020. Early efforts to locate him have been shrouded in mystery and his disappearance has been the subject of minimal public discussion by the U.S. government. |
Frerichs foto at right.
In the days following the capture of an American contractor in Afghanistan earlier this year, Navy commandos raided a village and detained suspected members of the Taliban-linked Haqqani network while the U.S. intelligence community tried to track the cellphones of the man and his captors, The Associated Press has learned.
While the circumstances surrounding the abduction remain unclear, the previously unreported operation described by multiple American officials over the past month shed new light on early efforts to locate Mark R. Frerichs, a contractor from Illinois whose disappearance has been shrouded in mystery and whose case has been the subject of minimal public discussion by the U.S. government.
The new details emerge as violence and political infighting in Kabul threaten to scuttle a Taliban peace deal with the U.S. Last month, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo voiced frustrations after a failed attempt to mediate a power struggle between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and political rival Dr. Abdullah Abdullah. The Trump administration said it would cut $1 billion in aid to Afghanistan.
Washington has urged Kabul to release Taliban prisoners, which is part of the peace agreement, arguing the detainees were at risk of spreading the coronavirus.
But there are no public indications Frerichs, a Navy veteran, has been part of negotiations between the U.S. and Taliban leadership, or that his release is part of any peace deal.
"The Taliban kidnapped my brother in January. In February, the U.S. signed a peace deal with the Taliban. My brother wasn’t part of the deal. Now we are arranging for the Taliban and Afghan government to exchange thousands of prisoners," Charlene Cakora, one of Frerichs’ sisters, said in a statement provided to the AP. "Why can’t we make an American hostage be one of them?"
|NBC News: Pompeo Warned Full Troop Pullout on Kabul Trip|
|[ToloNews] NBC News, quoting two current US s (and one former official) on Tuesday reported that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a trip to Kabul two weeks ago on March 23, threatened President and his opponent that President Trump might do a complete troop pullout, as well as an cut aid, if the dispute continues.|
Immediately following his visit to Kabul, the US State Department released a statement saying that because of the failure of the Afghan leaders to end the political impasse, $1 billion in US aid money for Afghanistan would be cut, and funding in 2021 might also be reduced.
the statement about a complete troop withdrawal was not previously reported.
A former senior US official was quoted by NBC as saying that Pompeo told Ghani and Abdullah they would be held responsible if the president’s peace deal fails.
According to the former official, Pompeo told the Afghan leaders that Trump has followed through on other threats to withdraw troops and pull financial aid, said NBC report.
Pompeo told Abdullah that he must support Ghani, according to officials as quoted by NBC news.
This comes after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 7-hour visit to Kabul on March 23 where he met with President Ghani and his political opponent Abdullah Abdullah, separately, and in a joint meeting. But the meetings ended without a result.
The US State Department in a statement said the United States deeply regrets that Ashraf Ghani and former Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah have informed secretary Pompeo that they have been unable to agree on an inclusive government that can meet the challenges of governance, peace, and security, and provide for the health and welfare of Afghan citizens.
The statement said that "the United States is disappointed in them (Ghani and Abdullah) and what their conduct means for Afghanistan and our shared interests. Their failure has harmed US-Afghan relations and, sadly, dishonors those Afghan, Americans, and Coalition partners who have sacrificed their lives and treasure in the struggle to build a new future for this country."
"Because this leadership failure poses a direct threat to US national interests, effective immediately, the US government will initiate a review of the scope of our cooperation with Afghanistan," the statement said. "Among other steps, we are today announcing a responsible adjustment to our spending in Afghanistan and immediately reducing assistance by $1 billion this year. We are prepared to reduce by another $1 billion in 2021."
The statement said that the US will also initiate a review of all of its programs and projects to identify additional reductions and reconsider our pledges to future donor conferences for Afghanistan.
|Taliban Seeks Release of 15 Key Commanders|
|[ToloNews] The head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), Matin Bek, who is also a member of the negotiation team, said the reason for the delay in the release of prisoners is that the Taliban are demanding the release of their 15 senior commanders who are involved in "big attacks."|
The release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners is part of deal signed by the US and the Taliban in Doha on Feb. 29.
Bek said demands reveal the Taliban’s "stubbornness" and it is "not acceptable" as it will lead to the fall of provinces and the continuation of violence in the country.
"We are ready to release 400 (prisoners) in the first phase. It is the Taliban who do not want this. They are asking for the release of the 15 (commanders). If we release the 15 individuals, their hands are stained with people’s blood," Bek told a on Monday.
This comes as a Taliban statement on Sunday said the US-Taliban agreement had been violated, citing the delays with the prisoner release.
"Americans have fallen short in addressing their responsibilities, and one of them is the prisoner issue," said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban regime member.
In reaction to the Taliban statement, Col. Sonny Leggett, the US forces in Afghanistan, said in a tweet that "The Taliban must reduce violence.
A reduction in violence is the will of the Afghan people and necessary to allow the political process to work toward a settlement suitable for all Afghans. We once again call on all parties to focus their efforts on the global pandemic of COVID-19."
He added: "USFOR-A has upheld, and continues to uphold, the military terms of the US-Taliban agreement; any assertion otherwise is baseless. USFOR-A has been clear- we will defend our ANDSF partners if attacked, in compliance with the agreement."
"The agreement did not mention anything on reduction in violence but it was said that violence should be reduced," said Khalid Asad, an MP.
"It would be better if the Afghan government considers its national interests and ends of the war," said Tahir Yarghal, a former military analyst.
Fraidoon Khwazoon, a for , said the Presidential Palace is seeking advantages from releasing Taliban prisoners.
"They are not thinking about any other thing except seeking advantages. This is not in favor of the process and the country," he said.
Three Taliban representatives are in Kabul to discuss the release of prisoners with the Afghan officials.
The release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners is part a deal signed between the US and the Taliban in Doha on Feb. 29.
|US's $1B Aid Cut Cannot be Compensated: Abdullah|
|[ToloNews] at a on Thursday said the US cut of $1B aid to Afghanistan cannot be compensated.|
On Tuesday, President in a statement abut the US reduction of aid to Afghanistan, said the cut in assistance will not have a direct impact on key sectors in Afghanistan.
But Abdullah said that "there should not be irresponsible comments" over the aid reduction.
On Monday, the US government announced an immediate reduction in its assistance by $1 billion because of the Afghan leaders’ failure to agree on an inclusive government.
This followed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s 7-hour visit to Kabul also on Monday where he met with President Ghani and his political opponent Abdullah Abdullah, separately, and in a joint meeting. But the meetings ended without a result.
|Govt to Release Thousands of Prisoners Amid COVID-19|
Choosing between the plague of coronavirus incubating in overcrowded conditions on one hand, and the plague of masses of Lions of Islam roaming the landscape with malice aforethought on the other hand.[ToloNews] The Afghan government said on Thursday that based on President Ghani's decree, up to 10,000 prisoners-- including --will be released in the upcoming 10 days to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus in Afghan detention centers.
Ahmad Rashid Totakhil, head of the general directorate of prisons, said that those to be released will not pose a major threat.
"The persons that we are releasing --some of them are under the authority of the president. They are not a big threat to society, they had committed small crimes," said Totakhil.
"Because we do not have any vaccine or treatment for the virus, the only way is to implement health-recommended measures. The measures are very easy and can save the lives of millions," said Ferozuddin Feroz, Public Health Minister.
The Attorney General's Office (AGO) said that those will not be released who pose a threat to national security.
"Another issue that is very important for people to know is that crimes against national and international security and terrorist crimes are not included in the decree," said Mohammad Farid Hamidi, head of the AGO.
said that politics should not be involved in the fight against the "This is not a political problem... All of us--poor and rich--need unity regarding the (COVID-19)," said Abdullah.
Officials at the Ministry of Public Health said that six health employees have been infected by the virus in and Kandahar provinces.
Based on the Ministry of Public Health figures, more than 90 people have been infected by the COVID-19 virus in Afghanistan.
|Pompeo Says His Visit to Afghanistan Was ‘Very Frustrating’|
|[ENGLISH.ALMANAR.LB] U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday he was frustrated after a daylong visit to Afghanistan this week in which he failed to mediate an end to a leadership feud between Presidentand political rival "I’ll be honest, it was very frustrating," Pompeo said at a State Department news briefing. he said efforts would continue to convince all the parties in the conflict to embrace peace and reconciliation and that he remained optimistic about the prospects for intra-Afghan peace talks.|