• Afghanistan in December 2021 - Key News

Afghanistan in December 2021 - Key News

31 December 2021

Politics

Hundreds of Afghans took to the streets of Kabul leading to the shuttered US embassy calling on the US to release the frozen assets. The demonstrators held banners reading, “Let us eat” and “Give us our frozen money”, marching towards the US Embassy in Kabul on Tuesday, with the ruling Taliban providing security. The lack of international aid and frozen of Afghan foreign reserves by the United States exacerbated Afghanistan’s already stagnant economy, leading to increasing poverty while aid groups warn of a looming humanitarian catastrophe.

According to a report published by Reuters, UNAMA is proposing to pay nearly $6 million for protection in Afghanistan to Taliban-run Interior Ministry personnel. The proposed allocated fund to be paid next year to pay the monthly wages of the Taliban fighters that are guarding the UN facilities. The fund also includes a monthly food allowance.  According to the UNAMA deputy spokesman Farhan Haq “The United Nations has a duty as an employer to reinforce and, where necessary, supplement the capacity of host states in circumstances where U.N. personnel work in areas of insecurity”. It is worth noting that the Taliban ministry for interior affairs is run by Sirajudin Haqqani who heads the Haqqani network, a faction accused for some of the bloodiest attacks over 20 years of war and carries a US FBI bounty of $10 million. 

The Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) member states convened its special meeting in Islamabad, Pakistan to discuss the grave humanitarian crises in Afghanistan. The meeting unanimously agreed to work "to unlock the financial and banking channels to resume liquidity and flow of financial and humanitarian assistance". After the fall of the US-backed government in August and the Taliban return to power the US has frozen $ 9.6 billions of country’s foreign reserves. 

In a resolution issued after the grand meeting, the OIC tasked the Islamic Development Bank to lead the effort to “free up assistance by the first quarter of next year.” The organisation also called on the Taliban to adhere to the "obligations under international human rights covenants, especially with regards to the rights of women, children, youth, elderly and people with special needs".

Turkey-Qatar poised to ink deal for Afghan airports. According to the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu both Turkish and Qatari companies signed a deal to jointly run five airports in Afghanistan, including Kabul airport. “A Turkish delegation of experts will first travel to Doha on late Dec. 20 and then to Afghanistan to discuss the matter of operating Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport, and then they will submit a proposal to the interim Afghan government,” Çavuşoğlu said. It is worth noting that Turkey has been holding talks on the operation of Kabul airport with Qatar to keep it operational following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan by mid-August.

 

Security

Thousands of Taliban fighters and supporters have poured into Afghanistan from Pakistan over the past four months in the aftermath of Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. A report published by the Washington post’s interviewed half a dozen current and former Taliban members both in Pakistan and in Afghanistan states that the fighters went to join Taliban ranks and files after answering the calls of influential clerics and commanders eager to consolidate control of the country as they gained territory. Expert estimates the total size of the Taliban fighters about 75,000 and according to Taliban commanders the recent influx from Pakistan is believed to range between 5,000 and 10,000. 

Two civilians have been killed and three others were wounded when a bomb exploded on a minibus in the Dasht-e-Barchi district of the Afghan capital. the bombing is claimed to have carried out by the ISIS has targeted the Shiite Hazara community, who for years have been the target of violence by ISIS-Khorasan (IS-K). Taliban's interior ministry spokesman Sayed Khosti told reporters that “two people have been killed and four wounded”. Another bomb blast in the area injured a woman, he said. In November, a similar bomb attack on a minibus in Dasht-e-Barchi killed two people and wounded five others. That attack was also claimed by IS-K.

On 17 December an IED targeted the vehicle of prominent religious scholar Mawlawi Abdul Salam Abed. ISPK has taken the responsibility of the attack which resulted injuring Mawlawi Abdul Salam Abed with two other people and killing Amanullah Safi. Until last week, Mawlawi Abdul Salam Abed served as the Imam of the famous Abdul Rehman Mosque located in the heart of capital. A day before, unknown gunmen attacked another religious scholar Muwalwi Bismillah Shakir at the PD 17 resulted in his killing. Muwalwi Bismillah Shakir was the co-principle of the supreme Arabic Darul Uloom in Kabul. The number of explosions in Kabul has increased since the takeover, and most of these explosions have been claimed by the Islamic State of Khurasan Province (ISKP).

 

Humanitarian

Saudi Arabia has dispatched 197 tons of humanitarian assistance including food, cloths and blankets to Afghanistan’s Red Crescent Society on Wednesday. The aid was delivered by the Saudi ambassador to Afghanistan Mashaal Al-Shammari to the Afghan officials.

“We will continue our aid to Afghanistan and will jointly work with the Afghan Red Crescent Society to increase the rate of humanitarian aid to the country,” added Mashaal Al-Shammari. While receiving the aid, the acting head of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, Matinulhaq Khales, said “we thank Saudi Arabia and its people for supporting Afghans”. 

In order to speed up the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Afghan people and avert any humanitarian crises in the country on Monday, the United States delivered a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that would allow the humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan to be exempted from the US sanctions on the Taliban. In a report published by AFP quoted a diplomat saying that “There are currently no humanitarian exemptions from the sanctions regime" which was imposed on the Taliban in 2015 and for aid workers to carry out financial transactions with ministries headed by people under sanctions would violate sanctions," said a diplomat to AFP. China, however, has blocked the draft resolution and has said it is “against a case-by-case exemption mechanism,” another diplomat familiar with the matter told AFP. China's ambassador to the UN, Zhan Jun, has also said humanitarian aid should be delivered to the people of Afghanistan without any hindrance. “Artificially created conditions or restrictions are not acceptable,” Zhan said in a tweet.

Amid the flow of humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people over the course of past couple of months, dozens of families protested saying that they have not received the aid so far. On Monday, several families that are struggling to survive the harsh winter in the capital said that humanitarian agencies must ensure transparency in the distribution of the assistance to vulnerable people.  “In the last three nights I bought two loaves of bread, my children ate them with boiled water. We have not seen aid and caring,” said Farida, a displaced woman living in Kabul. In response to the allegation of the displaced people, Taliban spokesperson Bilal Karimi told reporters that “the commission is responsible to assess the process of helping, and to recognize who deserves help.”

In a letter to US President Joe Biden more than 40 House Democrats requesting to open up access to economic reserves for Afghanistan in order to prevent “imminent mass starvation.” In their letter sent on Monday more than ‌46‌ ‌Democrats‌ ‌stressed‌ ‌that‌ ‌while‌ ‌they‌ ‌supported‌ ‌the‌ ‌decision‌ ‌to‌ ‌withdraw‌ from‌ ‌Afghanistan,‌ ‌they‌ ‌also‌ ‌agreed‌ ‌with‌ ‌international‌ ‌calls‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌U.S.‌ ‌to‌ ‌avoid‌ ‌imposing‌ ‌economic‌ ‌measures‌ ‌that‌ ‌would‌ ‌contribute‌ ‌to‌ ‌Afghanistan’s‌ ‌collapsing‌ ‌economy,‌ news ‌reported.‌ ‌ In response to the letter on‌ ‌Wednesday‌ ‌Mohammad‌ ‌Naeem,‌ ‌spokesman‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Political‌ ‌Office‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Islamic‌ ‌Emirate‌ ‌of‌ ‌Afghanistan‌ ‌(IEA),‌ ‌thanked‌ ‌the‌ ‌US‌ ‌Congress‌ ‌members‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌series‌ ‌of‌ ‌tweets.‌ ‌ “We‌ ‌are‌ ‌grateful‌ ‌for‌ ‌the‌ ‌move‌ ‌by‌ ‌members‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌United‌ ‌States‌ ‌Congress,‌ ‌following‌ ‌our‌ ‌open‌ ‌letter‌ to‌ ‌Congress,‌ ‌to‌ ‌President‌ ‌Biden‌ ‌to‌ ‌lift‌ ‌sanctions‌ ‌on‌ ‌Afghanistan‌ ‌and‌ ‌freeze‌ ‌the‌ ‌Federal‌ ‌Reserve,”‌ ‌Naeem‌ ‌tweeted.‌ ‌

 

People and Culture

After the fall of the Afghan government on 15th of August hundreds of media organisations have closed down their operation across the country. According to a survey 40 percent of the Afghan media houses have been shut down, and 80 percent of women journalists and media workers have become unemployed due to restrictions. A survey conducted by RSF and AIJA shows “a total of 231 media outlets have had to close and more than 6.400 journalists have lost their jobs since 15 August. Women journalists have been hit the hardest, with four out of five no longer working,” the survey says. The survey also states that of the 543 media outlets operating by the start of summer 2021, only 312 were still operating by the end of November. “More than four out of every ten media outlets have disappeared and 60% of journalists and media employees are no longer able to work. Women have suffered much more than men: 84% of them have lost their jobs,” the survey report reads.

Taliban officials of the ministry of vice and virtue officials stated that listening to music is prohibited and the people should avoid listening to music. Speaking at a media program spokesperson of the Taliban ministry of vice and virtue Hakif Muhajir said that since Afghan society is an Islamic one and thus, for an Islamic society it is imperative to adhere to jurisdictions of Islam and avoid listening to music. 

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