Tolo News: A former Afghan politician, Ahmad Yusuf Nuristani, pled guilty in a US federal court on December 11 to “theft of public money,” admitting that he received over $100,000 in government benefits by concealing foreign travel and residency between July 2015 and December 2018, according to a statement by the US Department of Justice. Click here to read more (external link).
Tolo News: A clash that started late Saturday night in Mazar-e-Sharif, capital of Balkh province, is still ongoing. Security forces have surrounded the house of Nizamuddin Qaisari, the former police chief of Faryab’s Qaisar district, police officials confirmed. Afghan helicopters targeted the house of Nizamuddin Qaisari, and “special forces have arrived at the scene,” said police officials. Click here to read more (external link).
1TV: Addressing an annual anti-corruption conference, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday ordered the acting interior minister to immediately arrest Zmaray Paikan, a former commander Civil Order Police. Paikan had been sentenced by the country’s anti-corruption court to over eight years in prison in late 2017, but he has not been arrested yet. Click here to read more (external link).
December 15, 2019
The US government is reportedly planning to announce withdrawal of over 4,000 troops from Afghanistan as early as next week.
Between 8,000 and 9,000 American troops will be left in Afghanistan after the withdrawal, NBC News reported Sunday, citing US officials.
The report was published after US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad rejoined diplomatic talks with the Taliban on Thursday.
It is not clear when the withdrawal will start but the process is expected to take a few months.
However, according to a statement by a spokesman for US Forces-Afghanistan, “US Forces-Afghanistan has not received orders to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan. We remain fully committed to the Resolute Support mission and our Afghan partners, and focused on our key objective: ensuring Afghanistan is never again used as a safe haven for terrorists who threaten the United States, our allies or our interests.”
Afghanistan is, meanwhile, grappling with insecurity involving deadly explosions.
US President Donald Trump has on some occasions supported pulling the troops back home.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, claiming that it was harboring al-Qaeda, the terrorist group headed by Osama bin Laden that had claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks earlier that same year.
AFP: Gholam Mahaiuddin sighs softly as he thinks of his 14-year-old son, who was killed in the spring by a bomb dropped last century in the hills of Bamiyan province in central Afghanistan. “We knew the mountain was dangerous,” said Mahaiuddin, who found his son’s remains after he didn’t come home one day. “We were aware of mines but we could not find them. They were buried in the soft sand after the rain.” Click here to read more (external link).
Salon: If it disturbs us that the U.S. public was misled, shouldn’t we be even more disturbed by the way that the Afghans themselves were lied to? If the lies to the U.S. public are disturbing, wouldn’t the ones to Afghans be even more so? And, how is it that the cost to the U.S. public is of concern, but not the cost to Afghans? Click here to read more (external link).
December 14, 2019
GENEVA – The UN refugee agency is calling for intensified support for millions of Afghans who remain displaced after more than four decades of war
A record-breaking 70.8 million people globally are forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution. Among them are some 4.6 million Afghans. More than half are registered as refugees and another 2 million are displaced inside Afghanistan.
The UN refugee agency says Afghans represent the longest-displaced and the longest-dispossessed population in the world. UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told VOA 90 percent of Afghanistan’s 2.7 million refugees are in Pakistan and Iran.
“In terms of their hosting countries, 1979 was the first year when Afghans started to flee the conflict, today we are 2019,” Baloch said. ” After four decades and 40 years, Afghans are still being hosted by Pakistan, by Iran.”
Baloch said Afghans are increasingly fleeing to Europe to escape the sharp deterioration in security inside Afghanistan and the growing financial pressure on their countries of refuge.
“Afghan asylum seekers constitute the majority of people arriving in Europe in terms of their asylum applications. This year, we have seen in the eastern Mediterranean around 70,000 in total arrivals by the sea, 37.4 percent of them are Afghans.”
Baloch said this mass exodus highlights the need for continuing protection and support for Afghans both inside and outside their country. The overwhelming majority of these Afghans, he noted, are young people.
He said they are the future of Afghanistan. However, without international support, he warns their ability to create a peaceful, stable society will be difficult. According to Baloch, less than half of UNHCR’s more than $500 million appeal for Afghan refugees and internally displaced has been met this year.
December 14, 2019
ISLAMABAD – Officials in Afghanistan said Saturday Taliban infiltrators have killed at least 25 government security forces in the eastern volatile Ghazni province.
The overnight insider attack happened in the Qarabagh district where a group of seven security personnel Friday night turned their guns on fellow soldiers at a local Afghan army base.
District chief Ghulam Habib Zerak told VOA the assailants collected arms and a military vehicle from the base before fleeing and rejoining insurgents in the area. He said at least two Afghan soldiers were wounded in the incident.
The Taliban claimed in a statement the attack killed 32 security forces and its fighters captured the base, though insurgent claims are often exaggerated.
Earlier this week, an Afghan policeman allegedly linked to the Taliban killed seven fellow officers at a post in the Shahr-e-Safa district in southern Zabul province. Local authorities confirmed the attacker took away weapons of slain policemen and rejoined insurgent ranks.
Afghan security forces are reported to have experienced around 50 insider attacks this year that have killed scores of personnel.
Ghazni has been for months the site of heavy fighting between Afghan forces and the Taliban. The insurgent group controls or hotly contests many districts in the province.
On Friday, at least ten civilians were killed and six injured when their minivan traveling to the provincial capital, also named Ghazni, hit a roadside bomb.
No-one took responsibility for the violence but Afghan officials blamed the Taliban for planting the bomb.