Merkel: Aid to Afghanistan Needed, Will Deter Migration

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the international community should ensure humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to decrease the migration of Afghans into neighboring countries and to Europe.

Talking alongside her Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyib Erdogan on Saturday in Istanbul, Merkel said Afghans should not become victims of human traffickers and smugglers.

“We also talked about the issue of Afghanistan. So that people from Afghanistan do not become victims of smugglers and traffickers, we must ensure that humanitarian aid is provided in Afghanistan,” Merkel said.

Merkel and Erdogan also talked about bilateral relations and an EU-Turkey agreement addressing illegal migration in Europe.

Merkel’s visit to Turkey follows a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report that accused Turkish authorities of violating international law by mistreating Afghan refugees who try to cross from the Iranian border into Turkey.

HRW, quoting Afghan refugees who returned from the border, reported that Turkish authorities mistreat the refugees who try to seek safety in Turkey. According to the report, Turkish forces collectively expel Afghans in groups of 50 to 300 back into Iran.

“Turkish authorities are denying Afghans trying to flee to safety the right to seek asylum. Turkish soldiers are also brutally mistreating the Afghans while unlawfully pushing them back,” said Belkis Wille, a senior crisis and conflict researcher at HRW.

HRW said it hopes Merkel would push the Turkish government to end the expulsion of Afghans and investigate allegations of collective expulsions.

Following the collapse of the former government in August 15 and the economic downturn in the country, many Afghans are trying to migrate into neighboring countries as well as into Europe.

Merkel: Aid to Afghanistan Needed, Will Deter Migration
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The Taleban’s caretaker Cabinet and other senior appointments

Martine van Bijlert 

Afghanistan Analysts Network

 

Deputy Prime Ministers Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi meet with British Special Representative for Afghanistan Simon Gass. Newly appointed Taleban officials have been meeting representatives from western and regional governments to discuss the international community’s future engagement with Afghanistan. Photo: Administrative Office of the President Facebook page (@AOP.Afg), 5 October 2021
The Cabinet has, in the meantime, started meeting as reported on 4 October by the various Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) spokespersons. The lack of clarity concerning a centralised leadership is also reflected in the fragmentation of communication channels. With the appointment of Zabiullah Mujahed as deputy minister of information and culture, the government has lost what seemed to be shaping up as a principal spokesperson and weekly press conferences. As a result, announcements and statements are released through a variety of channels, including personal social media accounts of several officials and various state media channels. The released statement said that during the Cabinet meeting:
•          The activities and working processes of various ministries were discussed and evaluated and necessary instructions were given to the ministers by the leadership.

•          The Ministry of Interior (MoI) was instructed to resume issuing passports and identity cards.

•          The Kabul Municipality was instructed to consider ways to prevent property usurpation and take legal action against usurpers.

•          It [the council/the leadership?] directed the formation of a joint commission of the three security organs to improve security in the capital and provinces.

These topics are indeed on the minds of many Afghans – the possibility of travel, seizure of houses in the capital (as well as large swaths of land in Gizab), the rise of security incidents including bomb attacks in Kabul and the east, reports of assassinations, beatings and localised pockets of lawlessness, the dire economic situation, the many rumours of external interference and the steady stream of reports – some corroborated, others not – of internal violence and revenge taking.

The situation in Afghanistan feels fragile. The Taleban as a movement is involved in a complicated transition from a relatively lean and loosely organised insurgent movement, with a very rudimentary governance structure, to a complete administration that is supposed to make, clarify and communicate policies, regain control over its own ranks, determine where and by whom decisions are made, establish diplomatic relations and stave off economic disaster. All in the span of weeks, while wrapped in a tight-lipped internal power struggle and disagreements over what it means to be an Islamic Emirate. They feel the heat and psychological impact of scattered Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) attacks and are closely watched and criticised by an impatient outside world.

These internal and external pressures have meant that the Taleban have barely ventured outside their own ranks and are showing a great reluctance to delegate power to people they don’t know well and who might be working against them. This is reflected in the list below, almost entirely from Taleban ranks, overwhelmingly Pashtun, largely clerical and all male.

With the idea of an ‘inclusive government’ – one that includes representatives from other factions, independents and people linked to the previous government – largely off the table, at least in the short-term, the Taleban will need to make other moves to persuade Afghans and internationals that they intend to be a government for all. This includes, most significantly, showing seriousness about controlling and holding the shadowy parts of the movement to account (those who are not responding to instructions and/or are involved in gross violence and abuses of power). For now, it is not clear who would take the lead or whether the movement as a whole can reach a consensus on this issue.

Caretaker Cabinet and other senior officials and commanders (as of 05/10/2021)

Appointed “based on the order of His Highness Amir al-Mu’minin Shaykh al-Hadith Hibatullah Akhundzadeh” in the following three rounds:

  • First round of 33 appointments on 7 September 2021
  • Second round of 17 appointments on 21 September 2021 (marked with *)
  • Third round of 38 appointments on 4 October (marked with **)

The caretaker Cabinet

Prime Minister: Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund

  • First deputy: Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar
  • Second deputy: Mawlawi Abdul Salam Hanafi
  • Deputy for Political Affairs: Mawlawi Abdul Kabir **

Minister of Defence: Mullah Muhammad Yaqub

  • Deputy Defence Minister: Mullah Muhammad Fazl Akhund (aka Fazl Mazlum)
  • Deputy Defence Minister: Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir *
  • Director of Intelligence Affairs of the MoD: Mullah Mohammad Ali Akhund **
  • Director of Personnel and Education of the MoD: Mawlawi Nasrullah Mati **
  • Director of Logistics at the MoD: Timur Shah Akhund **
  • Director of Construction, Property and Infrastructure of the MoD: Mullah Amir Khan Haqqani **

Minister of Interior: Mullah Serajuddin Haqqani

  • Deputy Minister of Interior: Mawlawi Nur Jalal
  • Deputy Minister of Interior (Counternarcotic): Mullah Abdul Haq
  • Deputy Ministry of Interior (Security): Sadar Mullah Mohammad Ibrahim *

Minister of Foreign Affairs: Amir Khan Muttaqi

  • Deputy Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai

Minister of Finance: Mullah Hedayatullah Badri (aka Gul Agha Ishakqzai)

Head of Intelligence: Mawlawi Abdul Haq Wasiq

  • First Deputy Intelligence: Mullah Taj Mir Jawad
  • Administrative Deputy of Intelligence: Mullah Rahmatullah Najib

[Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock: appears to be vacant]

  • Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock: Mawlawi Shamsuddin Pahlawan **

Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs: Mullah Nurullah Nuri

  • Deputy Minister of Border Affairs: Haji Gul Mohammad *
  • Second Deputy Minister of Border Affairs: Gul Zarin Kochi *

Minister of Civil Aviation and Transportation: Mullah Hamidullah Akhundzada

Minister of Commerce: Haji Nooruddin Azizi *

  • First Deputy Minister of Commerce: Haji Mohammad Bashir *
  • Second Deputy Minister of Commerce: Haji Mohammad Azim Sultanzada *

Minister of Economy: Qari Din Muhammad Hanif

Minister of Education: Sheikh Mawlawi Nurullah

  • Deputy Minister of Education: Mawlawi Sakhaullah **

Minister for Hajj and Religious Affairs: Mawlawi Nur Muhammad Saqib

Minister of Higher Education: Mawlawi Abdul Baqi Haqqani

  • Deputy Minister of Higher Education: Dr Lutfullah Khairkhwa *

Minister for Information and Culture: Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa

  • Deputy Minister of Information and Culture: Zabihullah Mujahed

Minister of Invitation and Guidance, Prevention of Vice & Promotion of Virtue: Sheikh Muhammad Khaled

Minister of Justice: Mawlawi Abdul Hakim Shari

Minister of Martyrs and Disabled Affairs: Mullah Abdul Majeed Akhund **

  • Deputy Minister of Martyrs and Disabled: Mullah Abdul Razaq Akhund **

Minister of Mines and Petroleum: Mullah Muhammad Essa Akhund

Minister of Public Health: Qalandar Ibad *

  • Deputy Minister of Public Health: Abdul Bari Omar*
  • Deputy Minister of Public Health: Mohammad Hassan Ghyasi*

Minister of Public Works: Mullah Abdul Manan Omari

Minister of Refugee Affairs: Khalil ul-Rahman Haqqani

  • Deputy Minister of Refugee Affairs: Arsala Khoroti *

Minister of Rural Rehabilitation and Development: Mullah Muhammad Yunus Akhundzada

Minister of Telecommunication: Mawlawi Najibullah Haqqani

Minister of Water and Power: Mullah Abdul Latif Mansur

  • Deputy Minister of Water and Power: Engineer Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Omar *

 

Other Cabinet-level appointments

[Head of Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority: appears to be vacant]

  • Deputy of Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority: Haji Ghulam Ghaws *

Chief of Staff: Mawlawi Ahmad Jan Ahmadi

Head of Da Afghanistan Bank: Haji Muhammad Idris

 

Army appointments

Chief of the Army: Qari Fasihuddin

Commander of the Helmand Corps: Mullah Sharafuddin Taqi **

  • Deputy of the Helmand Corps: Mullah Mohibullah Nusrat **
  • Chief of Staff of Helmand Corps: Mullah Mohammad Khan Dawat **

Commander of the Herat Corps: Mawlawi Mohammad Zarif Muzaffar **

  • Deputy of the Herat Corps: Mullah Abdul Shakur Baryalai
  • Chief of Staff of the Herat Corps: Mawlawi Abdul Rahman Haqqani

Commander of the Kabul Corps: Mawlawi Hamdullah **

  • Deputy of the Kabul Corps: Mawlawi Nusrat **
  • Chief of Staff of the Kabul Corps: Qari Baryal **

Commander of the Kandahar Corps: Mullah Mehrullah Hammad **

  • Deputy of the Kandahar Corps: Mullah Wali Jan Hamza **
  • Chief of Staff of the Kandahar Corps: Mawlawi Hizbullah Afghan **

Commander of the Kunduz Corps: Mullah Rahmatullah Mohammad **

  • Deputy of the Kunduz Corps: Qari Mohammad Ismail Turkman **
  • Chief of Staff of the Kunduz Corps: Qari Mohammad Shafiq **

Commander of the Mazar Corps: Mawlawi Attaullah Omari **

  • Deputy of the Mazar corps: Mawlawi Amanuddin **
  • Chief of Staff of the Mazar Corps: Mullah Abdul Razaq Faizullah **

Commander of the Paktia Corps: Qari Mohammad Ayub **

  • Deputy of the Paktia Corps: Mullah Rohul Amin **
  • Chief of Staff of the Paktia Corps: Mullah Ahmadullah Mubarak **

 

Other key government positions

Head of Afghanistan’s Nuclear Energy Agency: Engineer Najibullah *

Head of the Central Statistics Office: Dr Mohammad Faqir *

[Mayor of Kabul: Daud Sultanzoi (retention, currently working together with Hamdullah Nomani]

  • Deputy Mayor of Kabul: Mawlawi Abdul Rashid **

Head of the National Olympic Committee: Engineer Nazar Mohammad Motmaen *

Head of the Red Crescent Society: Mawlawi Matiul Haq **

  • Deputy head of the Red Crescent Society: Mullah Nooruddin Turabi **

Head of the southwestern zone: Mawlawi Sardar Mohammad **

Head of the southeastern zone ‘Tamiz’ [possibly referring to the tertiary court]: Sheikh Mohammad Hanif **

NB It is unclear (to us) what the last two positions refer to.


 

 

The Taleban’s caretaker Cabinet and other senior appointments
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Putin: No rush in officially recognizing Taliban’s rule

By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
Associated Press
15 Oct 2021
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a virtual Summit of leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (Evgeniy Paulin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a virtual Summit of leaders from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (Evgeniy Paulin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday there must be no rush in officially recognizing the Taliban as the new rulers of Afghanistan, but emphasized the need to engage in talks with them.

Speaking during a video call with leaders of other ex-Soviet nations, Putin said that “the interim government formed by the Taliban regrettably doesn’t reflect the entire spectrum of Afghan society,” but also noted their pledge to hold elections, and their efforts to restore the functioning of state structures.

“We shouldn’t hurry with the official recognition of the Taliban,” he said. “We understand that we need to interact with them, but there shouldn’t be any hurry and we shall discuss that together.”

At the same time, Putin mentioned Moscow’s intention to host another round of talks between Afghan parties next week and underlined the need to restart consultations on Afghanistan between Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan.

“We need to support the process of inter-Afghan settlement and try to help normalize the situation in the country,” he said.

Russia is set to host the Taliban and other Afghan factions for talks Wednesday in a move that reflects Moscow’s efforts to expand its clout.

Zamir Kabulov, the Kremlin envoy on Afghanistan, said Friday that the Taliban confirmed they will attend the so-called “Moscow format” talks in the Russian capital.

Kabulov said he doesn’t expect the talks to produce any breakthrough, describing them as part of a “long evolutionary process.”

He noted that the agenda will cover human rights issues and the humanitarian situation in the country, adding that Moscow sees as a platform for “frank discussions” about ways to constructively tackle Afghanistan’s challenges.

Diplomats from Russia, the U.S., China and Pakistan are also set to meet in Moscow for talks on Afghanistan this month.

The Soviet Union fought a 10-year war in Afghanistan that ended with its troops withdrawing in 1989. Since then, Moscow has made a diplomatic comeback as an influential power broker in international talks on Afghanistan, hosting the Taliban representatives and members of other factions for a series of bilateral and multilateral meetings.

Unlike many other countries, Russia hasn’t evacuated its embassy in Kabul and its ambassador quickly met with the Taliban after they took over the capital.

The Taliban were added to the Russian list of terrorist organizations in 2003, and Moscow has not yet moved to remove the group from the list. Any contact with such groups is punishable under Russian law, but the Foreign Ministry has shrugged off questions about the seeming contradiction by emphasizing the need to engage the Taliban to help stabilize Afghanistan.

Putin on Friday emphasized the security challenges posed by the Islamic State group and other militants based in northern Afghanistan, and noted that drug trafficking from Afghanistan will continue to present a challenge.

Russia has vowed to provide military assistance to its ex-Soviet allies in Central Asia to help counter the threats, and held a series of joint drills in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan that neighbor Afghanistan.

Another sweeping military exercise in Tajikistan that would involve 5,000 troops, more than 700 military vehicles and combat jets is scheduled for next week.

Putin: No rush in officially recognizing Taliban’s rule
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Muslim foreign ministers to make women’s rights plea to Taliban

 Diplomatic editor
The Guardian
Wed 13 Oct 2021 08.07 EDT

Ministers from Muslim-majority nations to travel to Kabul to discuss ban on girls going to secondary school

Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi
Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu (right), and his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, who are planning to go to Afghanistan to meet the Taliban. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

 

Foreign ministers from several Muslim-majority countries are planning to go to Kabul in part to urge the Taliban to recognise that the exclusion of women and girls from education is a distortion of the Islamic faith.

The proposal has the support of western diplomats, who recognise that calls from them concerning universal values are going to have less traction with the Taliban than if the request comes from leaders of largely Islamic states.

The Taliban have debarred girls from going to secondary school since they took power in mid-August, producing a variety of reasons for doing so, and occasionally suggesting the ban is temporary.

The two foreign ministers most likely to go to Kabul are the Turkish foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, and his Indonesian counterpart, Retno Marsudi, arguably the most senior Muslim female diplomat in the world.

“We follow the situation in Afghanistan closely. We are planning to go to Kabul with some other foreign ministers in the upcoming period,” Çavuşoğlu said at a joint press conference with Marsudi.

Çavuşoğlu said he had discussed the plan with Marsudi during their meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York. Some other friendly ministers also “loved the idea”, Çavuşoğlu said, adding: “We will plan for this in the coming days.” The visit would also be an attempt to set the terms for improved humanitarian support for Afghanistan.

Fareed Ullah sits next to his son Taha, a thalassaemia patient, at Hamza Foundation in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Critically ill Afghans suffer as Taliban tighten Pakistan border
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At the G20 special conference on Afghanistan on Tuesday, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, proposed a G20 permanent working party be set up to address the humanitarian crisis and to direct the Taliban to a more inclusive system of government. Turkey has been striving for influence in Afghanistan for months, but its proposal to oversee Kabul international airport ultimately failed due to a lack of security guarantees from the Taliban.

Indonesia is the most populous Islamic country in the world, and prior to the Taliban takeover, the reformist Sunni Indonesian organisation Nahdlatul Ulama had set up a network covering 22 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Indonesian politicians have also been involved in reconciliation talks with the Taliban through much of the past decade, promoting a more centrist Islam.

Within Indonesia, the ministry of religious affairs, hand in hand with the country’s two leading Muslim organisations, Nahdlatul Ulama and the education and social charity Muhammadiyah, have created a nationwide network of madrasa-educated women. Setting aside ideological differences, historically both groups have welcomed female students to madrasas.

Although there has been disagreements over their quality, Indonesian madrasas have achieved gender parity in school enrolment. There are also more girls than boys at the upper secondary level.

The Taliban have come up with a variety of excuses for not allowing girls to return to secondary school, but ultimately their conservative brand of faith debars women from working or education.

One diplomat favouring an intervention from Muslim leaders said: “The idea is that figures like Marsudi would go and point out: ‘You say women are not capable and must stay at home and here I am the foreign minister of Indonesia.’ It would not be a lecture but be the power of example.”

Karim Khan, the newly appointed international criminal court chief prosecutor, speaking at the Global Security Forum in Doha, also urged the Taliban to realise they were pursuing an overly harsh form of Islam.

Khan, who is Muslim, said: “The Holy prophet of Islam said very clearly an individual who educates his daughters will go to paradise (Jannah). He told Muslims learn from Aisha. This is the religion of Islam that is completely against people who say that women should not be educated, who target or persecute women for no other reason than their gender. The holy Qur’an says men are garments for women and women are garments for men.”

 

Muslim foreign ministers to make women’s rights plea to Taliban
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Turkey urges engagement with Taliban after talks with group

Al Jazeera
14 Oct 2021
06:46 PM (GMT)

Turkey has received a delegation of Taliban leaders in a first meeting since the group took over Afghanistan.

Turkey has called on the international community to help the Taliban overcome Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis, officials said after holding talks with the group’s leaders, adding that this does not imply formal recognition.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu received his acting counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi in Ankara on Thursday, as Afghanistan’s new government continues its diplomatic push for support.

Speaking after the closed-door talks, Cavusoglu urged international engagement with the Taliban.

“We have told the international community about the importance of engagement with the current Taliban administration. In fact, recognition and engagement are two different things,” he said.

“The Afghan economy should not collapse. Therefore, we have said the countries that froze Afghanistan’s accounts abroad should act more flexibly so that salaries can be paid.”

The World Bank halted funds to Afghanistan after the Taliban swept back to power in August. The international community has condemned the group’s actions in some provinces, where they brought back public hangings and barred women and girls from going to school or returning to work.

Turkey has sought to use its position as the only Muslim-majority member of the NATO defence alliance to secure a greater role in Afghanistan after the US troop withdrawal.

“We asked them not to see this as a precondition or a demand, but that this is also the expectation of the other Muslim countries,” he said.

Turkey’s foreign minister also stressed the need to ensure security at the airport before regular flights could resume.

“Today, we explained to them once more the expectations on the issue of security – not only ours but the entire international aviation community – for running the airport and especially the start of regular flights,” he said.

Ankara has offered to provide security for Kabul’s airport, which is the main point of access for humanitarian aid, but Taliban leaders have so far rejected the offer.

On Thursday, Islamabad-based Pakistan International Airlines – one of two airlines that had remained operative – suspended its flights to Kabul. Abdullah Hafeez, spokesman for Pakistan’s national airline, said “the situation on the ground is not conducive for international flight operations.”

Muttaqi issued no immediate comments after the talks.

The Taliban representative has been holding talks with foreign officials, warning them that Western sanctions will further undermine security in Afghanistan.

The meeting between Turkey’s foreign minister and the high-level delegation of Taliban rulers was the first since the group’s takeover of the country.

It comes after Taliban leaders held a series of talks with the United States, 10 European nations and European Union representatives in Qatar earlier this week.

Turkey, which hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, has warned European countries that it will not accept an influx of migrants from Afghanistan.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Turkey urges engagement with Taliban after talks with group
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Taliban want to help Afghans who fled to Turkey to return home, Turkish minister says

Taliban acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi speaks during a news conference in Kabul Afghanistan September 14, 2021. Picture taken September 14, 2021.REUTERS/Stringer

ANKARA, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Afghan Taliban leaders said they would do all they can to help Afghan migrants in Turkey wanting to return home, the Turkish foreign minister said on Thursday after talks in Ankara, adding that both sides discussed how to prevent another “migrant wave”.

Turkey hosts some four million migrants, mostly Syrians, and has come under renewed pressure after the takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamist Taliban in August prompted a mass exodus. It has said it will not tolerate a fresh wave.

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan with an iron hand from 1996 to 2001 before being ousted by U.S.-led forces.

NATO member Turkey maintained its embassy in Kabul after Western countries withdrew following the fall of the U.S.-backed Afghan government and has urged those countries to increase engagement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who earlier said he would visit Kabul, discussed migration, humanitarian aid, the economy and other issues with a delegation led by Afghan acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

“We told them again that they need to be inclusive for the unity of the country,” Cavusoglu told Turkish state media. “They conveyed to us their request for continuing aid and investments there.

“We have a certain number of Afghan migrants, irregular or regular. Some of them want to return to Afghanistan. The Taliban leadership said … they would provide all the support they can for them to return home, but we also discussed what we can do to prevent another migrant wave.”

Cavusoglu said he had also conveyed Turkey’s recommendations regarding the inclusion of women in the work force and education of girls.

On Monday, Muttaqi appealed to the world for good relations, but avoided making firm commitments on girls’ education despite international demands to allow all Afghan children to go back to school. read more

The new administration has come under sustained criticism for its approach to girls’ education, considered one of the limited number of unambiguously positive gains from the West’s two decades of involvement in Afghanistan.

Taliban officials say they will not repeat the harsh rule of the previous Taliban government toppled in 2001, which banned most girls’ education and forbade women from going out in public without a male guardian.

Turkey, which scrapped plans to run Kabul airport after failing to agree on security measures with the Taliban, has been working with Qatar to operate the airport and re-open it to international travel.

Cavusoglu said he had conveyed the security “expectations” of Turkey and the international community over the airport, adding they had also discussed counter-terrorism.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Dominic Evans and Nick Macfie
Taliban want to help Afghans who fled to Turkey to return home, Turkish minister says
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Blasts Hit Mosque in Kandahar, 32 Killed

Eyewitnesses said three back-to-back explosions hit the mosque causing high casualties.

A bombing attack occurred at Imam Bargah Fatimeyah mosque in the southern province of Kandahar on Friday, local officials told TOLOnews.

The targeted mosque is in Kandahar city’s police district one (PD1).

The mosque is visited by members of the Shia community.

The explosions occurred during Friday prayers.

Eyewitnesses said three back-to-back explosions hit the mosque, one of the biggest in Kandahar city, causing high casualties.

According to eyewitnesses, three men equipped with guns and explosives first opened fire on the worshipers and then detonated their explosives in three different parts of the city.

Local officials told TOLOnews that 32 people were killed and over 70 others wounded.

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the attack, saying those behind the incident should be brought to justice.

Zabihullah Mujahid, deputy minister for the Ministry of Information and Culture, also condemned the attack and called it a major crime.

Former president Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as well.

No group has yet claimed responsibility.

This attack follows a similar attack that hit a Shia mosque in Kunduz last Friday.

That attack also happened during Friday prayers and killed nearly 50 worshipers, injuring 150 people, according to officials.

Daesh claimed responsibility for the Kunduz mosque attack.

Blasts Hit Mosque in Kandahar, 32 Killed
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UN Chief Seeks Int’l Community’s Support to Save Afghan Economy

Guterres said UN agencies and humanitarian groups should make cash payments directly to the people in Afghanistan.

The international community must find ways to inject cash directly into Afghanistan’s economy to avert its total collapse as a growing humanitarian crisis impacts half the population, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Monday.

Guterres, speaking to reporters at UN headquarters, also accused the Taliban of breaking promises they made after seizing power in August to uphold the rights of women and girls, including allowing girls to attend school.

“Broken promises lead to broken dreams for the women and girls of Afghanistan,” Guterres said, asserting there “is no way” to heal the economy if the Taliban continue barring women from working.

His comments underscored the urgent need for steps to ease the economic and humanitarian crises that have grown since the Taliban took power as the 20-year US military intervention ended.

The Taliban takeover saw billions in central bank assets frozen and international financial institutions suspend access to funds, although humanitarian aid has continued.

Banks are running out of money, civil servants have not been paid and food prices have soared.

“The crisis is affecting at least 18 million people – half the country’s population,” said Guterres, adding that a massive UN humanitarian aid operation is underway in a “race against time” as winter approaches.

Guterres noted that the Afghan economy – kept afloat by foreign aid for two decades – was being buffeted by drought and COVID-19 before the Taliban seized power.

“I urge the world to take action and inject liquidity into the Afghan economy to avoid collapse,” he said, explaining that any measures should avoid channeling cash through the Taliban.

They also should be taken independent of diplomatic decisions to recognize the Taliban government, he said.

One way to inject liquidity into the economy, he said, is for UN agencies and humanitarian groups to make cash payments directly to people, he said, adding the World Bank could create a special trust fund from which money could be drawn.

“This is a make or break moment,” he said, warning that without action, the world will “pay a heavy price” as increasing numbers of Afghans flee their country “in search of a better life.”

UN Chief Seeks Int’l Community’s Support to Save Afghan Economy
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Qatar urges engagement with Taliban amid humanitarian crisis

Al Jazeera

12 Oct 2021

Qatari official Mutlaq al-Qahtani says recognising Taliban government ‘not a priority’ now as Afghanistan faces host of challenges.

Qatar believes that recognising the Taliban government in Afghanistan is not a priority now, and that the focus should be on engaging with the new administration and addressing humanitarian issues, a senior Qatari official has said.

Mutlaq al-Qahtani, special envoy of the Qatari foreign minister, called on Tuesday for other countries to engage more deeply with the Taliban as Afghanistan’s de facto authority, while urging the group to act as a “responsible” administration and respect the right of women to work and girls to attend school.

“We think this [recognition] is not a priority. What’s more a priority as we speak now is the humanitarian, is the education, is free passage of passengers,” al-Qahtani said at a global security forum in Doha.

Al-Qahtani explained why Qatar has encouraged engagement with the Taliban, who for years carried out suicide bombings and killings of troops and civilians. Although the group wants international recognition and agreed on a peace deal with the US, it has resorted to public hangings and other brutal tactics since taking power.

“One of the consequences of that action is 9/11, so I think we should learn from this.”

How to engage with the Taliban remains an issue for nations around the world. During their previous time in power in the late 1990s, only three nations recognised the Taliban’s rule of Afghanistan. No country has yet announced formal recognition this time around, though neighbouring Pakistan has also encouraged engagement with the Taliban.

Qatar, which is hosting talks between Taliban and Western officials in which al-Qahtani said he was participating, is seen as one of the countries with influence over the movement.

The Gulf country was crucial to the chaotic US airlift of more than 100,000 people from Kabul after the Taliban’s shock takeover of the capital August 15, and has hosted face-to-face talks between the Taliban and the United States.

‘More collaboration’

Al-Qahtani said the only way forward was to offer the current Taliban administration “more collaboration, cooperation and assistance” but that Afghanistan should move towards an inclusive government in an internal process whereby Afghans “decide their future”.

At a virtual meeting on Afghanistan by the Group of 20 industrial and emerging-market nations on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the international community should keep channels of dialogue with the Taliban open in order to “patiently and gradually steer” it towards establishing a more inclusive government, he said.

Erdogan said Turkey, which is a close ally of Qatar and which already hosts more than 3.6 million Syrians, cannot absorb an influx of refugees from Afghanistan, warning that European nations would also be affected by a new wave of migration.

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said he wants the G20 nations to set conditions for recognising the Taliban, including ensuring women’s rights. That sentiment was echoed by nations in meetings on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

Almost two months after the former Western-backed government collapsed and the Taliban swept into Kabul, the Taliban administration has pushed to build relations with other countries to help stave off a catastrophic economic crisis.

But the group has so far refused to give ground on allowing girls to return to high school, one of the key demands of the international community after a decision last month that schools above the sixth grade would only reopen for boys.

Al-Qahtani said barring girls from study was “not acceptable from a [Islamic] religious perspective”.

Girls’ education was one of the limited number of unambiguously positive gains from the West’s two decades of involvement in Afghanistan.

The Qatari official’s remarks come a day after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Taliban to uphold “promises” it made to girls and women in Afghanistan when the group took power. He also said the Afghan people should not suffer collective punishment because of the Taliban, urging the continued flow of humanitarian aid.

After a meeting with US officials in Doha on Sunday, the Taliban said the US agreed to provide humanitarian aid to Afghanistan. The US statement was less definitive, saying only that the two sides “discussed the United States’ provision of robust humanitarian assistance, directly to the Afghan people”.

The European Union announced a 1bn euro ($1.15bn) aid package for the Afghan people on Tuesday.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Qatar urges engagement with Taliban amid humanitarian crisis
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In northern Afghanistan, girls’ schools working despite ban elsewhere

Reuters Staff

KABUL (Reuters) – While girls across most of Afghanistan remain at home while brothers go to high school, classes in some northern areas have been open for all students, highlighting regional differences starting to emerge two months after the Taliban seized power.

Secondary schools remain closed for girls in much of the country, but in Mazar-i-Sharif, close to the border with Uzbekistan, local authorities have taken a different approach.

Zabihullah Noorani, head of the culture and information directorate in the northern province of Balkh, said lessons in many schools were continuing for both boys and girls.

“In places where schools are open, they are open, no obstacle or barrier to them,” he said. “Here, there is no obstacle or barrier for girls’ education.

“My view and the views of all other Islamic Emirate officials and leadership is that our women sisters have the right to study just like men,” he said, using the term employed by the Taliban for their government.

Girls’ education has become one of the most sensitive issues for Western countries dealing with Afghanistan since the Taliban government ordered schools above sixth grade to open for boys but told girls to stay home until conditions permitted them to return to class.

Officials deny there has been an outright ban, but as the weeks have passed there has been no sign of all girls going back to school and no clear explanation or indication of when they might restart their education.

The difference between Mazar-i-Sharif and other areas is an example of the wide differences that exist between relatively modern and liberal cities and Afghanistan’s conservative rural heartlands where girls’ education has long been rare.

Maryam, a 15-year-old in the 10th grade from Mazar-i-Sharif, said she had been going to school without interruption, despite strict clothing requirements imposed by the Taliban. She wanted to continue studying and hoped one day to become a doctor.

“We were told by the Taliban several times to wear a hijab, wear a scarf, that only our eyes should be visible and we should even wear gloves,” she said by telephone.

“These restrictions have made some girls lose interest, but still we girls are happy that at least we are going to school.”

Though the Taliban banned girls from attending school during their previous rule until 2001, education advocates say that in recent years the ability of girls to access education in Taliban-controlled areas varied depending on local commanders and the influence and wishes of local communities.

The United Nations’ children agency UNICEF also struck an agreement with the Taliban last year to create informal community-based classes for both boys and girls in some areas with a heavy Taliban presence.

Local residents in Mazar say girls have been able to go to school, and one ex-official of the interior ministry under the former Western-backed government said he had visited several high schools for girls and seen them functioning normally.

“All girls of all age types were allowed to go to their classes,” he said.

Reporting by Islamabad newsroom; additional reporting by Zeba Siddiqi; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Mike Collett-White

In northern Afghanistan, girls’ schools working despite ban elsewhere
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