24 May 2019

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Friday February 22, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Design and construction of the 43 km first phase of the fourth section of the railway being built from Iran to Herat was approved by the National Procurement Commission (NPC) at its meeting on February 18.
According to BNA report, the 1 435 mm gauge line is being built in four sections. Work has been completed on the first two sections covering the 76 km from the Iranian railhead at Khaf to Sangan and the border with Afghanistan at Shamtiq. The 62 km third section from the border to Ghoryan is reported to be nearing completion. These sections of the route have been funded by Iran.
The fourth section of the project is to be funded from Afghanistan’s budget. It is to be built in two phases, with the latest approval covering the 43 km from Ghoryan to Rabat Paryan, which the Afghanistan Railway Authority said is to be built by a company from Kazakhstan. The final phase would extend this line 20 km to an industrial area near Herat airport.
AfRA said completion of the Khaf – Herat railway was of high economic importance, as it would provide Afghanistan with a rail route through Iran to the sea and the Turkish network.
M.A.Ansari

Friday February 22, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Russian president's top envoy for Afghan settlement said 2019 will be "decisive" in the peace process. 
"The peace process is developing rapidly," Zamir Kabulov told an interview with Anadolu Agency, prior to his meeting with U.S. counterpart Zalmay Khalilzad scheduled for Feb.22 in the Turkish Ankara.
"This gives us hope that this year we will make good progress in the real restoration of peace in Afghanistan. It will not be easy; there will be ups and downs. It is important for us that the process steadily gets into the mainstream, from which it will be difficult to knock it out," he said.
Efforts to find a lasting settlement to the Afghan conflict have gathered momentum in the last six months with many players, including Russia and the U.S., getting more engaged in the peace process. 
Moscow has hosted two peace conferences within 4 months between the Afghan government and the Taliban aimed at national reconciliation in the war-torn country.
The U.S. envoy for Afghanistan has made frequent visits in the countries involved in the peace process.
Khalilzad "makes titanic efforts to agree on a worthy U.S. exit from the protracted war," Kabulov said.
"But it's easy to say and hard to do. The withdrawal involves a number of conditions imposed by the Taliban movement. On the part of the U. S., too, there are concerns that the transient withdrawal of troops will create a vacuum, a danger. However, those 14 thousand of U.S. military who are in Afghanistan do not fight. Fighting, mostly, their air forces. If these 14 thousand go home, the situation will not change significantly," he said.
Kabulov suggested that the U.S. could take the Soviets' Afghan pullout experience as a model.
"There is a very good experience of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. After their departure, the government of Najibullah held out for another 3 years on its own, because the USSR created a stable regime, armed forces, and security agencies. It would have resisted further if at least some limited economic assistance had continued," he said.
Moscow supports the talks between Washington and the Taliban because, without their agreement, it will be very difficult to find an appropriate Afghan settlement, he said. 
Elections that can change everything
Kabulov recalled that the Taliban do not recognize the acting Afghan government, saying that the issue could be solved if someone respected by the group comes to power.
However, Kabulov had his doubts about whether the militant group would allow holding elections in the territories under its control.
"Everyone would like to know that. Ideally, we would like them to take part in the elections," the diplomat said.
The major obstacle for the Taliban's participation in the presidential race is that the group rejects the legacy of about a quarter of the articles of the Afghan Constitution, Kabulov said.
"They would not want to recognize the government elected under this Constitution. But it is all right, it is just a phase. We must be patient and give them a chance to negotiate, any advice, even friend’s one can be perceived as pressure. Let them choose their own leadership," Russian envoy said.
He said the fact that the militant group controls about 70 percent of Afghanistan does not tell much about the elections for "in Afghanistan, for centuries, those who controlled the capital and the largest administrative centers and regions, ruled the country."
For the Afghan presidential hopefuls, Kabulov spoke highly of the country's former interior minister, Mohammad Hanif Atmar.
"Everyone in Afghanistan knows that this is a prominent politician with a broad base of political support. He has one undeniable advantage: he held high positions in both the government of Hamid Karzai and the current administration. He is brilliant, by Afghan standards, top manager, who knows the problems of Afghanistan and knows how to deal with them," Kabulov said, adding that Atmar also has good relations with Washington. 
Russian-Taliban relations
Russia views the Taliban as "a part of Afghan society, with their political and ideological opinions and beliefs which considers their country as occupied by foreigners who pose a threat to both, the country and religion", Kabulov said.
"They represent a very wide range of Afghans, their main support – the rural population, which is religious, accustomed to ideas of Islam and its laws," he said.
The memory of the Taliban's ruling works against them now, Kabulov said.
ot help promote national reconciliation".
He said Russia is ready to support a possible move to remove the sanctions, but the country will not lead such an initiative at the UN Security Council.
He said Russia's number one priority is to facilitate "the Afghan reconciliation", adding that peace in Afghanistan is "a safety assurance" for Russia itself and its allies.
Kabulov said Moscow will host more meetings on the Afghan settlement but only "when we feel that there will be an effective output, not for show".
Anadolu Agency
Ansari

Friday February 22, 2019
Kabul (BNA) More than 23 armed oppositions were killed during clearing operation led by Afghan security forces within the last 24 hours across the country.
Ministry of national defense press office stated BNA, the military operations have launched to annihilate anti-government militias, protect the lives and properties of people and ensure peace and stability in insecure areas of Nangarhar, Ghazni, Kandahar, Urozgan and Helmand provinces.
Several hideouts, some heavy and light weapons, ammunitions and military equipment belonged to the terrorists have been destroyed during the military operations, the source added.
M.A.Ansari

 

Friday February 22, 2019
Kabul (BNA) The chairwomen of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, Sima Samar, stated that she supports women being a part of the Afghanistan peace talks. Samar presented on the role of women in securing peace at the “Women’s role in ensuring justice and human rights” Conference in Kabul.
Samar pointed out the fear that many women have in the region regarding the Taliban, and argued that women serve an important role at the peace talks because of their special concerns. This was supported by the fact that women have overwhelmingly been the victims of war, but have been excluded from the conversations on how to end what they have endured.
Didpress
Ansari

Friday February 15, 2019
Kabul (BNA) 26th Dalwa coincidence to 15th February the anniversary day of withdrawal of Red Army from Afghanistan, the day is marked as a national rescue day for Afghanistan, Afghans celebrating the day as an unforgettable victory that shows the commitment of Afghanistan people to protect freedom and independency.
BNA analyst commenting on the issue writes, 26th Dalwa the day of withdrawal of Red Army from Afghanistan, it is called the day of national rescue, every year this day is marked as a national rescue day in Afghanistan.
On 26th Dalwa 1367 the latest unit of Red Army forces of former Soviet Union left Afghanistan and ended about 10 years occupation in Afghanistan. Withdrawal of Red Army was not accidently, former Soviet Union stormed on Afghanistan at 1357 H.S. and after a bitter defeat the world’s superpower came in to the knee. Resistance and struggle of Afghanistan people for protecting religious and national’s values have forced former Soviet Union to left Afghanistan, which finally on 26th Dalwa 1367 Red Army troops shamefully and shockingly escaped from the country.
It is mentionable that withdrawal of Red Army forces was not a suddenly event, nearby 10 years struggle and bravery of Afghanistan people have forced former Soviet Union to leave the country, about 2 million Afghans lost their lives and disabled following the aggression and at least half-million Afghans lost their homes. If today Afghanistan is facing activities of terrorist groups, if today Afghanistan is facing android of extremism in the regional, if today Afghanistan fighting against 20 terrorist groups, if today Afghanistan have over 5 million refugees all the issues have relate to the consequence of Red Army troops invasion to Afghanistan. Even though, 30 years have passed since the invasion of former Soviet Union to Afghanistan, but still the country is facing imposed wars and Afghans are suffering casualties every day.
Meanwhile, after withdrawal of Red Army troops from Afghanistan, the country was confronted with a collapsed economic and evidence of a bankruptcy security and stability, which provides a platform for external competitions in Afghanistan and regional powers have continued their vims for absorbency to Afghanistan. Today, all the problems, abnormalities and problems that Afghans are suffering is the consequences of Red Army invasion to Afghanistan, the start of a bad and bloody story that has not ended after withdrawal of the forces, during the 29 years Afghans were not save and can’t live in a safe atmosphere.
Despite of all, withdrawal of Red Army troops from Afghanistan has a clear message, the message is immortal “Occupation of Afghanistan is impossible, Afghanistan is a freedom country and Afghans never surrender to oppression” the message must understandable for other countries, those wanted to interfere in internal issues of Afghanistan, otherwise they will be faced the bitter fate of former Soviet Union.
M.A.Ansari

 

Friday February 15, 2019
Kabul (BNA) In fewer than 20 years, cricket in Afghanistan has gone from being an ordinary sport to holding a special place in the hearts and minds of many people.
Afghanistan is currently preparing to take part in its second 50-over World Cup, set to take place in the UK from June, a remarkable achievement given that many of the players learned how to play the popular sport in barren refugee camps.
“In 2018, we beat Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, we drew with India and we got full membership to the ICC,” says Azizullah Fazli, Chairman of Afghan Cricket Board. "These are amazing achievements for the Afghan nation. We are playing now on grounds where they had never heard of Afghanistan before," he added.
The sport was imported by Afghan refugees who had lived in Pakistan in the 1990s after fleeing the Soviet invasion.
A ban by the Taliban on sport, including cricket and football, meant that many did not practise their favourite sport for fear of reprisals.
That came to an end in 2002 after the Taliban lifted the ban on cricket, making it the only sport approved by the armed group.
The Afghan Cricket Board now has five stadia in the country and a flourishing youth policy.
Assadullah Khan, a former national team player, credits the sport's success to its ability to bridge social and political differences in a deeply-divided country still reeling from years of war.
"We started cricket in Taliban time. They love cricket and they also showed good support for cricket ... So now, that is why we are here."
Aljazeera
Ansari

 

Friday February 15, 2019
Kabul (BNA) The German government has opted to extend the Bundeswehr's mission in Afghanistan for another year. The move defies concerns that the US is preparing to pull out of the country, rendering Germany's contribution futile.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet has decided to extend the military mission in Afghanistan a day after an internal strategy paper showed Germany had offered to host another peace conference, this time with an extra invitation for the Taliban, the fundamentalist Islamic movement currently at war with NATO in the country. The Taliban took part in framework talks with US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad in Doha, Qatar, last month, while further talks, without the US, were held in Moscow.
The Bundeswehr currently has around 1,200 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan, part of NATO's Resolute Support mission, though the whole operation was thrown into uncertainty in late December, when news reports from the US suggested that President Donald Trump was planning to withdraw around half of the US military's 14,000 troops in Afghanistan.
No timetable was laid out for the mooted withdrawal, though several German military experts, most notably retired General Harald Kujat, told the media at the time that a US withdrawal would render Germany's continued presence futile.
Is Trump too naive?
Meanwhile, an internal document leaked to German weekly Der Spiegel on Tuesday (and released on Wednesday) showed the government expressing doubts about the prospects of peace in Afghanistan and apparently criticizing any potential US withdrawal plans as naive and overly hasty.
In a strategy paper addressed to selected Bundestag members, the government said Washington was making an effort to find a political solution quickly in order to pave the way to a military withdrawal. But experience had shown that "such a process can last several years without decisive breakthroughs," especially "in the face of the complex inner-Afghan and international negotiating position."
The document, which was signed off by Angela Merkel's office, the Defense Ministry, and the Foreign Ministry, added: "Should the US withdraw its military engagement significantly, the government will thoroughly reassess its actions in Afghanistan."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Rainer Breul played down the significance of the 11-page dossier at a regular press conference on Wednesday, pointing out repeatedly that the US had not yet communicated any concrete withdrawal plans. "This is not a document about the USA, it's about Afghanistan, and our thoughts for a peace process and how we can support it, either militarily, or on a civilian level, or on development cooperation," he said.
New peace process?
Breul also said that the mooted peace conference, mentioned in passing in the paper, was merely the reiteration of an offer Germany had made many times before. "Our line remains very clear, that we need an inner-Afghan peace process, that we would support if it is desired, no more and no less," he said.
Germany first hosted an Afghanistan peace summit at the Petersberg castle, outside Bonn, in December 2001. The resulting "Bonn Agreement" laid the foundations for the NATO-backed state-building efforts in Afghanistan following the alliance's invasion of the country.
This week's document, however, expressly mentions that the Taliban should be invited, though it added that such a conference should only take place at "an appropriate stage of the negotiations."
Omid Nouripour, foreign policy spokesman for the opposition Green party, welcomed the government's offer, but added "making a conference room available is not enough." He told DW that "the government must also say what realistic prospects it has for Afghanistan, and how these should be reached."
How much longer?
The government representatives were silent on Wednesday on exactly how long the Bundeswehr intended to stay in Afghanistan, where one of its chief tasks is to train the local army. When it began in 2001, the Afghanistan mission represented the first time since World War II that German soldiers were involved in serious fighting on the ground. Some 55 Bundeswehr soldiers lost their lives in the first 13 years of the NATO-led mission now referred to as Resolute Support. Since then, the German military is primarily involved in training Afghan soldiers in the northern region around Mazar-i-Sharif, and performing reconnaissance missions for NATO partners.
Defense Ministry spokesman Frank Fähnrich insisted that Germany had achieved concrete advances in Afghanistan since then, including helping to set up an electricity grid in the region and schools. According to Fähnrich, some 8 million Afghan children now attend school in the country, as opposed to 1 million in 2001. Withdrawing the military from the country now would put these achievements "at risk," he said.
The Cabinet also decided on Wednesday to extend three other military missions: The Bundeswehr's participation in NATO's Sea Guardian mission in the Mediterranean, meant to deter weapons smuggling and human trafficking, as well as contributions to United Nations missions in Sudan and South Sudan.
DW
Ansari

Friday February 15, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Taliban negotiators say they will meet U.S. representatives in Pakistan on February 18 as part of ongoing Afghan peace talks, although a State Department official said the U.S. team had not yet received an invitation to the talks.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on February 13 said the meeting would take place in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, a week before the two sides are scheduled to hold negotiations in Qatar on February 25.
"While we have noted the Taliban's public announcement, we have not received a formal invitation to any talks," a State Department spokesperson said.
Mujahid, the Taliban spokesman, said his side would also meet with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to hold "comprehensive discussions about Pakistan-Afghanistan relations."
As an Afghan neighbor and military power in the region, Islamabad would likely play a key role in any eventual settlement, and some 1.5 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan.
Talks between U.S. officials -- including Zalmay Khalilzad, the special peace envoy for Afghanistan -- have intensified in recent months. Khalilzad and Taliban envoys have both said progress has been made, but U.S. officials caution that much work needs to be done before an agreement can be finalized.
Khalilzad is due to arrive in Pakistan on a six-country trip that also includes Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, and Afghanistan.
Talks have also been held in Moscow with some of the same figures, although Khalilzad has not attended those discussions.
The U.S.-Taliban talks are aimed at finding a negotiated end to Afghanistan's 17-year war.
The United States has been attempting to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with officials in Kabul.
The Afghan government has been absent from the U.S.-Taliban talks, prompting anger and frustration in Kabul. The Taliban considers the Kabul government a Western puppet and has so far refused to directly negotiate with it.
U.S. negotiators are expected to press for a cease-fire between Taliban insurgents and Western-backed Afghan forces before any agreement on the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign troops.
The Taliban has demanded that all foreign troops leave before a cease-fire is declared but have said they would accept nonmilitary foreign aid to help rebuild Afghanistan.
U.S. officials have said President Donald Trump wants to withdraw about half of the 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. The president has already announced that the United States will withdraw all 2,000 of its troops from Syria, saying he wants to reduce U.S. involvement in costly wars.
U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan since an October 2001 invasion that brought down the Taliban government after it refused to hand over Al-Qaida members, including Osama bin Laden, blamed for launching the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The government in Kabul has struggled to contain the resurgent Taliban after a NATO-led coalition turned over military operations to Afghan troops and took a more-advisory and training role in the country.
RFERL
Ansari

Friday February 15, 2019
Kabul (BNA) NATO defense ministers on Thursday weighed the future of the alliance’s operation in Afghanistan and debated how best to use its military presence to support political talks aimed at ending the conflict.
Frustrated with America’s longest war, U.S. President Donald Trump says he wants to pull out troops, raising doubts about NATO’s Afghan troop training operation in the strife-torn country. Around 14,000 U.S. troops are in Afghanistan, just over half with NATO and the rest doing counter-terror and combat operations. Were U.S. troops to leave the NATO operation, allies like Germany wouldn’t be able to do their job as they rely on American air support.
“No decision has been taken about any withdrawal. But we strongly support the efforts to reach a political, peaceful settlement,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said before the talks.
The U.S. and NATO troops are mostly advising and training, but when requested they assist Afghan forces in battles with the Taliban, who carry out near-daily assaults on Afghan soldiers and police. More than 17 years after they were ousted by a U.S.-led coalition, the Taliban control, influence or hold sway over nearly half the country, and the conflict is at a stalemate.
U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is meeting with the Taliban and others to try to end the conflict. He has briefed NATO ambassadors three times in recent weeks, including just before Thursday’s meeting. NATO is wary of setting any timeline for a possible withdrawal as the Taliban have been content to wait international forces out in the past.
“NATO allies went in together in Afghanistan. We will make decisions on our future posture in Afghanistan together, based on conditions determined together with the Afghans,” Stoltenberg said.
Still, the Western allies understand that an offer to leave could be a powerful bargaining chip with the insurgents, even if the U.S.-led forces would want guarantees, or be able to monitor future peace moves. What is clear is that the 29-country military alliance has no shared appetite to shift from training and mentoring to counter-terrorism operations.
For the moment though it is too early to tell. Upcoming elections in Afghanistan will further complicate the picture for NATO, as those polls decide what parties should be involved in peace moves.
Apnews
Ansari

Friday, 08 February 2019 11:56

Air Raids Leaves 14 Terrorists Dead

Friday February 8, 2019
TARINKOT CITY (BNA) Over 14 rebels were killed during a series air attacks conducted by Afghan air forces in southern Urozgan province within the last 24 hours.
The militants have been targeted in various parts of Dehrawoud, Chora districts and Tarinkot city the provincial capital of the province.
Top commander of Afghan national army in the south of the country told BNA correspondent, 14 anti-government militias were killed and three others were injured during the air raids.
The rebels were busy on organizing a series of terrorist and destructive activities that targeted by Afghan air personnel, the source added.
It has been said, four Taliban’s hideouts along with all military equipment have been destroyed during the attacks.
M.A.Ansari

 

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