ghani rival boycotts vote recount

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by sayed salahuddin

arab news

november 11 & 14, 2019

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KABUL: Afghanistan’s elections were in deadlock on Sunday after President Ashraf Ghani’s key rival, Abdullah Abdullah, called for a halt to a recount, saying he would not accept “fraud-marked” results. The move adds a fresh layer of uncertainty to the Sept. 28 poll, which was marred by a record low turnout and feuding between Abdullah and Ghani.

Speaking at a large gathering in Kabul, Abdullah, who has shared power with Ghani since the 2014 presidential elections, urged the Independent Election Commission (IEC) to review its decision on Saturday to carry out a recount.

He said that the IEC needed to discard tens of thousands of votes that it had already invalidated because they were not based on the biometric system — the key condition on which candidates and the IEC had agreed in order to minimize voter fraud.

Abdullah said he would not compromise with Ghani as he had done in the previous poll, which went to a second round following a US-brokered deal between the two.

“The election was held on the basis of use of biometric devices. When the vote is not on the basis of biometric, it means there is no credible vote,” he told the crowd.

“Our observers have refused to participate in the recount. We also informed the commission about it. When our observers have no presence in the supervision due to a legal objection and the fact that a legal regulation has been violated, then the results will have no legitimacy,” he said. Abdullah said that more than 2,400 biometric devices either had gone missing or had their chips removed.

A German firm hired to help in data transfer to the server has discarded more than 860,000 non-biometric votes. Two other candidates have also protested against the IEC’s decision to include invalidated votes in the recount.

A spokesman for Ghani, Fazl Rahman, said that the Afghan leader “accepts the commission’s recount decision provided there is no further delay in announcing the result of the votes.”

IEC officials had no immediate comment.

One commissioner for the government-appointed body, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arab News that a recount will delay an announcement of the initial vote result.

The initial vote was set to have been announced three weeks ago, but was delayed until Nov. 14. The presidential election saw the lowest voter turnout since the Taliban’s ousting and was twice delayed because of divisions within the government and US talks with the Taliban.

Of 9.6 million registered voters, less than 2 million people cast their votes due to Taliban attacks and disillusionment with leaders for failing to deliver on their campaign pledges.

Abdullah said Ghani’s team should be held accountable for any crisis related to the elections because the incumbent had pushed for a recount.

Both Ghani and Abdullah claimed victory days after the poll.

The election stalemate comes amid renewed US efforts to resume talks with the Taliban.

“If the result is announced by the commission, it is clear that the other side will not accept it because the two frontrunners have already claimed to have won,” Shafiq Haqpal, an analyst, told Arab News.

“We are reaching a deadlock. People are fed up with so many elections going wrong. It would be better to establish a caretaker government or third person to rescue Afghanistan from a deepening crisis,” he said.

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original story:

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1582141/world

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another district cleared of terrorists!

east afghanistan

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afghanistan ministry of defense

https://mod.gov.af/index.php/en

nov 11 2019

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After clearance of the Andkhoy and Qarghan districts, the Qaramqol district of Faryab province was also completely cleared from terrorists’ presence.

The National Defense and Security Forces in their operations have inflicted heavy casualties on the Taliban terrorists in this district and destroyed their fighting positions, hideouts, the depot of weapons & ammunition.

In the meantime, with the entry of the ANDSF in Qaramqol district, the residents of this district welcomed the Security officials and Afghan Forces.

The people have expressed their satisfaction with the decisive action of the National Defense and Security Forces against the terrorists, and they also promise to support and cooperate with the Security Forces in all arenas.

The ANDSF will not allow terrorists under no circumstances to make trouble for people living in Andkhoy quad districts.

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original story:

https://mod.gov.af/en/node/1236

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islamic state ‘defeated’ in nangarhar

west afghanistan

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cna

jalalabad afghanistan

nov 10, 2019

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JALALABAD (Afghanistan): The Islamic State group’s Afghan branch has been “defeated” in one of the key eastern provinces where it first sought to establish a stronghold, a top Afghan security official said Sunday (Nov 10).

The claim comes after the extremists first burst into Afghanistan’s conflict in 2015, when they overran large parts of Nangarhar and Kunar provinces, near the Pakistan border.

In the years since, they have claimed responsibility for a string of horrific bombings across Afghanistan, including at a wedding hall in Kabul, and have been continually attacked by US, Afghan and even Taliban forces.

IS “were defeated in Nangarhar, their centres were destroyed”, acting interior minister Massoud Andarabi told reporters in Jalalabad, the Nangarhar provincial capital, amid ongoing operations against the militants.

“We will soon destroy their last centres. With the people’s help, we will completely eliminate them. Some of their smaller groups are surrendering, other small groups will be eliminated in other provinces.”

He went on to say that IS were being “completely defeated” in Afghanistan.

US Forces-Afghanistan, which closely monitors the IS footprint in Afghanistan, declined to comment, referring a query back to the Interior Ministry.
Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesman for Nangarhar’s governor, said 32 IS fighters surrendered to government forces on Saturday.
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“They are coming in big numbers,” he told AFP.
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IS have suffered a string of major defeats in recent months, including the collapse of their self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Syria and the death of the group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed in a US raid in Syria last month.

Connections between Baghdadi and the IS affiliate in Afghanistan, better known as IS in the Khorasan, or IS-K, have always been murky.

But Khogyani said Baghdadi’s death has disrupted IS-K’s command and control structure.

“It has affected the fighters on the ground here, they are either surrendering to the government or going back to their ordinary lives,” he said.

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original story:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/is-defeated-in-key-afghan-province-official-12080732

over 50 insurgents left dead on ground

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guest

afghanistan times

october 25, 2019

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KABUL: The Afghan security forces have cleared Darqad district of northern Takhar province from presence of the Taliban insurgents in a larger scale operation carried 16 days ago.

Ministry of Defense on Friday said the operation was launched on October 14 and early on Friday the district was completely cleared of terrorists.

“More than 50 Taliban rebels were killed and dozens of others were wounded during the operation, and the bodies of the insurgents remained on the ground after the clash,” the statement read.

However, the ministry did not provide further details about casualties of security forces.

The Taliban group have said nothing so far.

This comes as recently Afghan security forces cleared Dand-e-Ghori district of Baghlan province from the presence of Taliban insurgents with killing scores of the militants in an overnight operation.

Afghan forces conducted operations in Dand-e-Ghori, Dand-e Shahabuddin and Killagai in Baghalan province, in which dozens of Taliban militants, including the Taliban Intelligence in-charge for Tala-wa-Barfak district, Taliban military responsible for Baghalan and the Qari Bakhteyar replacement, Taliban shadow deputy governor for Baghalan were killed.

71 Taliban fighters, including Qari Ismatullah, Taliban Usher- Zakat (Charity collector) were arrested by Government Forces, the statement added.

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http://www.afghanistantimes.af/takhars-darqad-district-cleared-with-killing-50-insurgents-mod/

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insurgents cleared, killed, arrested

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admin

afghanistan times

October 23, 2019

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KABUL: Afghan security forces have cleared Dand-e-Ghori district of Baghlan province from the presence of Taliban insurgents with killing scores of the militants in an overnight operation, security official said on Wednesday.

Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) conducted operations in Dand-e-Ghori, Dand-e Shahabuddin and Killagai in Baghalan province on Tuesday night, in which dozens of Taliban militants, including the Taliban Intelligence in-charge for Tala-wa-Barfak district, Taliban military responsible for Baghalan and the Qari Bakhteyar replacement, Taliban shadow deputy governor for Baghalan were killed, Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

71 Taliban fighters, including Qari Ismatullah, Taliban Usher- Zakat (Charity collector) were arrested by Government Forces, the statement added.

Afghan National Defense and Security Forces completely cleared the Dand-e Ghori areas from Taliban insurgents and the operations are intensively continuing in Dand-e Shahabuddin and Killagai and Afghan forces are in advancing position, the statement added.

Also many areas of Dand-e Shahabuddin were cleared from Taliban insurgents, mentioned the statement.

Similarly, in these operations, large fighting positions and huge caches of explosives, ammunition, Taliban suicide vests, Taliban training centers, and their bases were destroyed in Dand-e Ghori and Dand-e Shahabuddin, the statement noted.

“The defense ministry is grateful for Baghalan peoples for their assistance and cooperation with the Defense and Security Forces,” the ministry’s statement added.

These operations would continue against the terrorists until fully clearing of Baghalan province, the statement concluded.

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http://www.afghanistantimes.af/baghlans-dand-e-ghori-cleared-with-killing-dozens-taliban-fighters-arresting-71-others/

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drive running-over taliban go-goes

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guest

afghanistan times

october 22, 2019

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KABUL: US Defense Secretary, Mark Esper has said that aggressive military campaign against the Taliban group will continue until peace to be prevailed in Afghanistan through a negotiated political settlement while protecting achievements of the past 18 years.

Esper said this in a press conference on Monday here in Kabul during his visit in an effort to restart peace talks with the Taliban after President Trump scrapped plans for negotiations at Camp David last month.

In a joint press conference with General Scott Miller, NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and US Forces-Afghanistan commander, Afghan Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid, and Interior Minister Masoud Andrabi, Esper said that fight against insurgents would be continued until restoration of peace.

“We are making progress toward a common goal, that is to ensure we and our allies never again face terroirs attacks from Afghanistan, “counterterrorism operations remained critical to our efforts to achieve peace and ensure terrorist organizations can’t find save havens in Afghanistan,” he told newsmen.

He said his country’s security partnership with Afghanistan would remain strong, and their mission in Afghanistan has not changed.

We continue to conduct counter-terrorism operations, while supporting the development of the ANDSF, he said, adding the United States remained fully committed to help Afghans create a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan.

He also expressed readiness to support the Afghans’ efforts, led by the government toward peace. “A negotiated political settlement among the Afghans is the best path to achieving this outcome.”

But until this isn’t accomplished, US would continue to pursue an aggressive military campaign against the Taliban and terrorist groups, who continue to conduct violence against the people of Afghanistan.”

“Together we remained committed to achieving peace in Afghanistan, in a way that protects the achievements of the last 18 years, reinforces our shared security goals, and respects the integrity of the Afghan people.”

He furthered that the situations in Syria and Afghanistan are “very very different” where US have been here since 2001, since the heinous attacks against Americans in 9/11.”

“We now have longstanding commitment to our Afghan partners we have invested billions upon billions of dollars both the Afghan people and the American people have sacrificed treasure and the lives of their soldiers to defend this Afghan government, the people and we stand for democracy in this land… very different level of commitments, very clear policy directions on all these things I think should reassure Afghan allies “So, all these things I think should reassure our Afghan allies and others that they should not misinterpret our actions in the recent week or so with regard to Syria and contrast that with Afghanistan,” Esper stressed.

General Scott Miller, NATO-led Resolute Support Mission and US Forces-Afghanistan commander, said that “unbeknownst to the public as part of our optimization, over the last year… we have reduced our authorized strength by 2,000 here.”

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http://www.afghanistantimes.af/aggressive-military-campaign-against-taliban-will-continue-until-peace-prevails-pentagon-chief

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bucks for anti-drug effort in afghanistan transferred by trump to fund border wall

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by andrew taylor

associated press

october 17, 2019

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has quietly transferred more than $200 million from Pentagon counter-drug efforts toward building his long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, drawing protests from Democrats who say he is again abusing his powers.

The move would shift $129 million to wall construction from anti-drug efforts in Afghanistan — the source of perhaps 90 percent of the world’s heroin — along with $90 million freed up by passage of a stopgap funding bill, top Democrats said in a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.

The Defense Department “was faced with a simple choice: either additional funds be used for their intended purpose, to accelerate our military’s efforts to combat heroin production in Afghanistan; or divert these funds to pay for cost increases of a border wall project that does not have the support of the American people,” the Democrats wrote.

Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Chuck Schumer of New York and Patrick Leahy of Vermont took the lead, noting that the heroin trade is a major funding source for the Taliban and urging the Pentagon to “redouble its efforts to starve the Taliban of a vital funding source and reduce the scourge of heroin abuse in this country and abroad.”

Trump has shifted more than $6 billion from Pentagon accounts to pay for border fence construction, considerably more than lawmakers have provided through annual appropriations bills.

Wall funding has been a major source of conflict between Capitol Hill Democrats and Trump as they negotiate agency funding bills each year. For instance, Trump was forced to settle for just $1.4 billion in wall funding in talks this winter. He issued a controversial declaration of a national emergency shortly afterward that allowed him to shift almost three times as much money from military construction accounts to wall building.

A fight over the wall issue is tying up efforts to begin serious negotiations on wrapping up $1.4 trillion worth of agency appropriations by Thanksgiving.

Separately, the Senate is expected to vote Thursday to sustain Trump’s veto Tuesday of legislation to reject his emergency declaration.

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https://www.militarytimes.com/news/pentagon-congress/2019/10/16/democrats-protest-transferring-200m-in-pentagon-counterdrug-efforts-in-afghanistan-to-fund-border-wall

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khalilzad nation-hops on peace quest

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news report

afghanistan times

october 21, 2019

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KABUL: Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad and an interagency team, whose talks with Taliban halted despite nine round of discussions, is traveling to Belgium, France, and Russia and meet with the its leaderships on ending Afghanistan’s war.

In Brussels and Paris, ambassador Khalilzad will meet with likeminded partners including the EU, NATO, and UN to review how best to support accelerated efforts to reach peace in Afghanistan, the US State Department said on Monday.

In Moscow, ambassador Khalilzad will meet with Russian and Chinese counterparts to discuss shared interests in seeing the war in Afghanistan come to an end, the statement added.

Khalilzad, a veteran US diplomat who was born in Afghanistan, led a year of talks with the Taliban to seek a deal that would see the United States withdraw most of its troops and end its longest-ever war.

Trump said in September that he had invited Taliban leaders to meet but then withdrew the invitation and ended the talks after an attack killed a US soldier.

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http://www.afghanistantimes.af/khalilzad-travels-to-belgium-france-russia-for-afghan-peace-quest/

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u.s. has already pulled 2,000 troops

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monitoring desk

afghanistan times

october 21, 2019

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KABUL: The U.S. is already cutting down the number of troops it has stationed in Afghanistan, according to the commanding officer of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and US Forces – Afghanistan.

Army Gen. Austin Miller said Monday approximately 2,000 U.S. troops had left Afghanistan in the past year, the New York Times reports. That means there are approximately 12,000 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan — a decrease from the roughly 14,000 that were previously stationed there.

The decrease is not connected to a formal withdrawal order, but instead is occurring as troops wrap up their tours in Afghanistan. Those troops leaving the country are then never replaced, U.S. and Afghan officials told the New York Times.

Officials did not disclose further information, however, the New York Times reports that an Afghan official approved the move.

Miller’s remarks come days after Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told reporters traveling with him to Afghanistan on Saturday that a withdrawal of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be “conditions based.” However, he said the U.S. believes only 8,600 troops are necessary to keep up current counter-terrorism operations.

“With regard to a withdraw of forces, as we’ve always said, that it’ll be conditions based, but we’re confident that we can go down to 8,600 without affecting our [counter-terrorism] operations, if you will,” Esper said.

“​But all that — again, we think a political agreement is always the best way forward with regard to next steps in Afghanistan,” Esper added.

When pressed whether the troop reduction would happen with or without a peace deal with the Taliban, Esper said he didn’t “want to get ahead of the diplomats on that front.”

Peace negotiations with the Taliban crumbled in September after a secret meeting with Taliban and Afghan leaders at Camp David was canceled. President Donald Trump said that he called off the meeting after a U.S. soldier and 11 others were killed in a Taliban car bomb attack.

Before the peace negotiations were dismantled, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad shared a draft of the U.S.-Taliban agreement with Afghan leaders. The plan would have required the U.S. to withdraw approximately 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan 135 days after signing the agreement, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. has had troops in Afghanistan since Oct. 2001 because the Taliban provided a safe haven for al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

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http://www.afghanistantimes.af/us-has-already-pulled-2000-troops-from-afghanistan-gen-miller-says

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6,500 people killed/injured in 6 months

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news report

afghanistan times

cctober 21, 2019

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KABUL: The Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission says that 6,500 civilians were killed and injured in the past six months of Afghan year (March to September) in Afghanistan.

The commission on Monday released its new report, which says that 1,611 people were killed and 4,876 more wounded in this period of time. The report indicated an eight per cent increase comparing to the same period of time in last year.

Naeem Nazari, deputy head of the commission, said that 576 women and 634 children were among the dead and injured, adding that there was a 16 per cent increase in women and 26 per cent increase in children casualties comparing to the last year.

The report calls Taliban responsible for 75 per cent of civilian casualties, Daesh terrorist group for three per cent and pro-government forces for 11 per cent, while the remaining 10 per cent is asserted to unknown armed individuals and rockets fired from Pakistan.

It said that civilian casualties by Taliban increased 53 per cent, while casualties by pro-government troops had a 54 per cent increase.

The human rights commission called on the war parties to avoid civilian casualties and observe the international humanitarian laws.

Earlier, the UN office in Afghanistan said that civilian casualties increased in the past three months in Afghanistan.

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http://www.afghanistantimes.af/6500-civilians-killed-injured-in-past-six-months

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east-afghan blast death-toll rises

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source: xinhua; editor: shi yinglun

asia & pacific news

october 18, 2019

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JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — The death toll from an explosion hitting a local mosque in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province soared to 62 on Friday, while 36 wounded people were shifted to hospitals, the provincial government said.

“The explosion occurred during Friday prayers in Haska Mina at midday. Some 26 wounded were transported to a regional hospital in Jalalabad city for treatment,” the government said in a statement.

The nature of the explosion was being investigated. Earlier reports said the blast was caused by two mortar shells fired by militants, killing 32 and injuring over 60 others.

No group has claimed the attack so far, but Taliban and Islamic State (IS) militants control parts of the province, 120 km east of the capital Kabul.

Provincial Governor Shah Mahmood Mayyakhil strongly condemned the attack, and instructed security forces to arrest and bring to justice the perpetrators behind the explosion.

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http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/asiapacific/2019-10/18/c_138483656.htm

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afghan forces evict taliban

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asia & pacific news

source: xinhua; editor: li xia

october 12, 2019

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KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, Oct. 12 — Afghan security forces evicted Taliban militants and retook control of a district in the country’s northern Kunduz province on Saturday, a local official said.

“The Afghan National Army waged an operation at 1:30 a.m. local time Saturday in Archi district, driving out Taliban from the district center,” district chief Nasruddin Nazari told Xinhua.

At least 10 Taliban militants were killed and two security force members wounded during the operation and a search operation was underway on the outskirts of the district in the northeastern part of the province, according to Nazari.

Several Taliban defense positions and hideouts were also destroyed during the operation.

The district chief added that the rule of law has returned to the district as government offices and the local police station reopened after the raid.

“The operation also aimed at disrupting insurgents’ activities in Kunduz, 250 km north of Afghan capital, Kabul,” the official noted.

Taliban militants overran the district early last month.

The Afghan security forces have beefed up security operations against militants recently as the Taliban militants have been attempting to take territory and consolidate their positions in the countryside.

The militant group has not made comments on the report so far.

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http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-10/12/c_138466380.htm

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