• Afghanistan in November 2020; Key News

Afghanistan in November 2020; Key News

10 December 2020

Peace and Politics

A report by the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force Afghanistan has revealed that Australian special forces had killed 39 people in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016. The report was submitted after a four-year inquiry undertaken by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) which had investigated 57 incidents, taking testimony from hundreds of witnesses, and reviewed more than 20,000 documents. The commentary indicated that those killed included prisoners, farmers, and other civilians, and of 25 perpetrators, some are still serving. The Department of Defence has now initiated a process to remove the Australian personnel that were involved in the Brereton report and are still serving. The administrative action will take place before the beginning of any criminal investigation, and will be conducted by a new special investigator’s office.

The historic Afghan peace talks between the government and the Taliban which aimed to end a 19-year-old war have continued without any significant progress after two months of negotiations. Despite the United States demand for a ceasefire, the Taliban have continued with their attacks while the peace talks are still ongoing. The Hebz-e-Islami Afghanistan political party, which was formed in 1975 as a militia force to combat occupying Soviet forces, has announced separate peace talks with the Taliban.

Security

On the 29th of November, at least 30 Afghan security force members were killed in a car bomb in Ghazni. According to officials, the blast targeted a compound of the public protection force, a wing of the Afghan security forces. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Another bombing took place in the eastern province of Zabul which targeted a top provincial official, killing at least one person and injuring 23 others. 

On the 23rd November a famous journalist, Elias Dayee, was killed in a car explosion. Dayee was working for Radio Azadi (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) in Afghanistan. He was known all around Helmand, his voice reached everyone’s homes with stories of war, drug trade, society and culture; he was an indispensable resource for many of the international reporters and researchers who traveled in and out of the province. No group has claimed responsibility for his assassination. 

Humanitarian and Development 

The 2020 Afghanistan conference took place in Geneva, Switzerland where donor countries pledged funding for civilian aid. However, many international donors imposed tough conditions that are dependent both on the progress in reforms and anti corruption measures and on the outcome of the peace talks between Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban. Aid would be subject to annual reviews from now on. The United States and other countries-imposed restrictions on future funding, and some committed only for one year, in the past pledges were made for four years. Donors were almost unanimous in stressing the importance of a vibrant civil society in Afghanistan and an enabling environment for NGOs and CSos. 

Germany pledged 430 million euros ($511m) in 2021 and mentioned that they would keep contributing until 2024 but emphasized that the 20-year war has to come to an end. The European Union pledged 1.2 billion euros ($1.43 bn) over four years, they also stressed that the aid was conditional; “Afghanistan’s future trajectory must preserve the democratic and human rights gains since 2001, most notably as regards to women and children’s rights,” EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said. The UK said it would donate $227m in annual civilian and food aid, France pledged 88 million euros ($104.5m) and Canada 270 million dollars. The money is not free; “donors expected it would be well spent and the Government would be held accountable for how it was distributed” said Deborah Lyons, head of the UN Assistance Mission for Afghanistan (UNAMA). 1

People & Culture

The Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has started work to renovate an ancient minaret in Herat. AKDN officials have collected samples from the 5th minaret in Herat and are sending them to Italy for research. The minaret is one of the five remaining minarets of the former Musallah complex, each of them 55 meters tall. The complex initially had 20 minarets built by Queen Gawhar Shad in 1417.

An Afghan performer in the western province of Herat has received the International Award for Devotion to Art 2020 by Art International. Laila, 65 years old is a transgender artist. “Laila lost 90 percent of sight in one eye when she was beaten up by a man on her way home from the mosque. Laila says she is finally speaking to the media about her identity and her situation.

 

[1] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/11/24/donors-pledge-billions-to-afghanistan-but-with-strings-attached

This report is developed based on media reports. Although BAAG has taken necessary precautions to include only credible sources, it does not take responsibility for incorrect content.