Thursday, August 08

Developments in US-Afghan Talks

A spokesman for the Afghan Taliban says September’s presidential elections in the country are being held in an attempt to spoil peace talks. Speaking in Qatar, where the eighth round of talks with the US is taking place, Suhail Shaheen said the vote was neither a remedy nor a solution. Deadly Taliban attacks have continued ahead of the poll which the group is urging people to boycott. But Mr. Shaheen denied civilians were being put at risk. He said killing Afghan civilians was not Taliban policy.

Around 40 killed in Clash between Two Groups of Taliban

Head of the Helmand Provincial Council says around 40 dead bodies of a fractured group of Taliban have been shifted from Herat to southern Helmand province. A commander of Mullah Rasul, an opponent of Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada’s group also confirmed that around 40 fighters of the group were killed in a clash with their rival mainstream Taliban. Sources in Herat told the media that clashes between the two groups of Taliban occurred in the Cort village of Guzara District of Herat Province three days ago. It was said that most of the killed were young men.

Taliban Leader Called on Fighters to protect People during Eid

The Afghan government reacted to Taliban supreme leader Mullah Hebatullah Akhundzada’s Eid message, calling his statement rife with fear, terror, and war. Presidential spokesperson Sediq Sediqqi said the people of Afghanistan do not need to hear the message of Taliban. Sediqqi further added that the message of the Taliban still is a message of fear, terror, and war. The Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada in his Eid message did not comment on ceasefire directly but called on his fighters to pay full attention to protecting, helping and comforting the nation during Eid days. He also commented on talks with the US and said that “increasing blind bombings by America during the negotiation process and attacks on civilian areas has generated a cloud of uncertainty about this process and raised doubts about US intentions.” A member of the Taliban’s negotiation team in Qatar wrote in his tweet, that both teams were working on the technical details of the possible deal with the US.

 

Wednesday, August 07

Kabul Attack and Operation against Insurgents Hideouts

A large car bomb has gone off outside a police station in the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing 14 and injuring 195. Officials said most of the victims were civilians, including women and children. Taliban claimed responsibility saying a suicide bomber targeted an army recruitment center and killed dozens of soldiers. Following security threats in the capital, Afghan security forces targeted three positions in Kabul, apparently hideouts of insurgents in the city. The raids lasted for the whole night in Bagrami in the east and Qasaba in the north-west of the city. The Taliban has continued its campaign of attacks ahead of next month’s election, which it’s urged people to boycott. Violence has intensified in recent months across Afghanistan as the opposing sides in the war try to turn battlefield blows into gains in negotiations over the country’s political future.

Unfair Recruitment Processes at the Foreign Ministry

Findings of Independent Joint Anti- Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee (MEC) show that the Afghan foreign ministry is suffering from a poor HR and database system. MEC findings indicate that 44 percent of the staff of the ministry is recruited without passing an entry test exam between 2011 and 2017. The report also showed that some of the diplomats’ deployments were not based on MoFA policies. MEC has called on MoFA to dismiss those who were illegally recruited.

 

Tuesday, August 06

Taliban Warned to disrupt the Presidential Election

Taliban militants announced that they intend to disrupt Afghanistan’s presidential campaign and September 28 polls. Taliban described the presidential election as a “fake process” and called on their fighters to disrupt the upcoming election. On the eve of Intra-Afghan Talks, Taliban’s statement says holding an election is only a waste of resources. Meanwhile, the Afghanistan Election Commission in a meeting with the member of civil society and political parties insisted that the election will be held on time. The commission says all preparations are underway. The Taliban urged voters to stay away from election-related events, saying it did not want to harm them. In a statement on its website, the Taliban said the elections would have “no legitimacy” because the country is “under occupation.” It called the elections “a ploy to deceive the common people” and said the “ultimate decision-making power” lies with foreigners who it said are running the process.

Zalmai Rassoul withdrew from September Presidential race

President Runner Zalmai Rassoul has withdrawn his candidacy from the upcoming presidential elections scheduled for September in support of Ashraf Ghani. Rassoul had nominated for the presidential elections with Abdul Jabar Taqwa and Ghulam Wahdat being his running mates. Rassoul had also nominated for the 2014 presidential elections and was among the top three candidates who had secured the most votes. Meanwhile, peace negotiations were underway parallel to the election campaigns with reports indicating the elections could be suspended if a peace deal is signed with the Taliban.

 

Monday, August 05

The US and Taliban Qatar Talks Update

The US and the Taliban met to thrash out elements of a deal to bring a close to Afghanistan’s 18-year conflict on the third day of renewed talks in Doha. No more details were available about the possible agreement between the US and the Taliban and with neither side commented on the progress. Meanwhile, some former members of the Taliban group gathered in Kabul to discuss the peace process and the ongoing talks in Doha. The Afghan government said it has finalized the list of negotiator to attend the intra-Afghan talks due to hold in Oslo after the ongoing round of Qatar talks between the US and the Taliban representatives. A list of 15 people is leaked to social media but not officially confirmed.

A Dozen Local police killed in a Taliban attack In the North

Local officials in northern Jawzjan Province confirmed to the BBC that at least 11 local police were killed in a massive Taliban attack in Khanaqa district of the province. The attack has happened the night before in Shahmirza area of the district. In a press release, the Taliban claimed that they have killed 19 and injured 6 other police personnel. A day before, in the southern province of Kandahar a policeman opened fire on his colleagues, killing seven other policemen. The Taliban has claimed the attack.

 

Sunday, August 04

The US, Taliban Qatar Talks Update

A decisive round of talks between the US and the Afghan Taliban was underway in the Qatari capital Doha. Both sides expressed optimism that a deal could be reached that week. It meant a phased withdrawal of US forces in exchange for Taliban security guarantees as well as a commitment to a ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks. The US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad twitted that “if the Taliban do their part, we will do ours, and conclude the agreement.”

Police were urged to remain Neutral during Election Process

The National Unity Government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah called on Afghan police forces to remain neutral during the election process. Talking to Police Coordination Meeting, he told the Afghan interior minister that favoring a candidate will tarnish the reputation of police force among people. Afghan police are playing a key role in presidential election security arrangement while over 900 members of the police force have been appointed for the personal security of the 18 presidential candidates. Earlier, a presidential decree was issued saying that the security forces were not allowed to interfere in the electoral process and nor can they favor a specific candidate.

 

Saturday, August 03

July casualties in Afghanistan highest since May 2017: UNAMA

Aljazeera – More than 1,500 civilians were killed or injured last month due to the ongoing war in Afghanistan, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). The figure is the highest in a single month since May 2017, UNAMA said in a statement released on Saturday. The main driver was a sharp rise in civilian casualties from increased activity by the Taliban in urban areas against military installations. The agency said that the use of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) accounted for more than 50 percent of the casualties. UNAMA said it remained “gravely concerned” by the harm done to civilians. “I call on all parties not to ramp up military operations thinking that doing so will give them a stronger position in talks about peace,” UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said in the statement. The agency also urged all parties to “put in place more effective procedures for them to obtain accurate information about the harm their operations cause to civilians and to be more open and honest with their public statements concerning civilian casualties”.

Talks between US and Taliban Resumed in Doha

Reuters – A fresh round of U.S.-Taliban peace talks began in Qatar’s capital Doha on Saturday, officials said, describing it to be the “most crucial” phase of negotiations to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan. Senior officials privy to the talks said a peace agreement could be expected at the end of the eighth round of talks, possibly before Aug. 13, and would enable foreign forces to be withdrawn from the war-torn country. Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan who has held a series of meetings with Taliban leaders since last year, reached Doha on Friday night. “Just got to Doha to resume talks with the Taliban. We are pursuing a peace agreement not a withdrawal agreement,” Khalilzad wrote on Twitter. “A peace agreement that enables withdrawal. Our (U.S.) presence in Afghanistan is conditions-based, and any withdrawal will be conditions-based,” he said, adding the Taliban are signaling they would conclude an agreement. “We are ready for a good agreement.” Two sources with knowledge of the talks said an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for security guarantees by the Taliban is expected before Aug.13

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