News Updates

9 September - 10 October 2019
  • Al-Qaeda's South Asia chief killed in Afghanistan: Officials
    Asim Umar, who led al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent was killed during a raid on September 23, Afghan officials say. The leader of al-Qaeda's South Asia branch was killed in a US-Afghan joint raid in southern Afghanistan last month, Afghan officials have confirmed. (Al Jazeera, October 8, 2019)
  • Afghanistan 'frees' several Taliban prisoners:
    Officials of the Afghan armed group say shadow governors, Sheikh Abdul Rahim and Maulvi Rashid, were among those freed. (Al Jazeera, October, 7, 2019)
  • Taliban to visit Pakistan amid stalled US talks
    The Taliban delegation will reportedly inform Pakistan's leadership of factors that derailed the talks with the US. (Al Jazeera, 2 Oct 2019)
  • Ghani, Abdullah camps claim victory in Afghanistan election
    Official slams victory claims as premature after camps for incumbent president and rival chief executive say they won. (Al Jazeera, 30 Sep, 2019)
  • Afghanistan election: turnout may have been as low as 20% amid Taliban threats:
    Preliminary count suggests lowest participation since 2001, with accusations of fraud (Guardian, 29 September, 2019)
  • Khalilzad testifies before US Congress in classified briefing
    The US special Afghanistan envoy briefs House Foreign Affairs Committee about the failed US-Taliban talks. (Al Jazeera, 20 Sep, 2019)
  • Pakistan, Afghanistan inaugurate 24/7 Torkham border crossing
    Round-the-clock operations launched as the two South Asian countries aim to boost bilateral and transit trade. (Al Jazeera, 18 Sept 2019)
  • Taliban suicide attacks in Afghanistan leave dozens dead
    Explosions at election rally and in central Kabul follow collapse of US-Taliban peace talks (Guardian, 17 Sep, 2019)
  • Russia hosts Taliban delegation following collapse of US talks
    Insurgent group visits Moscow days after after Donald Trump declares US negotiations with Afghan group ‘dead’ (Guardian, 15th Sep, 2019)
  • Trump declares US-Taliban talks 'dead' after cancelling Camp David meeting
    Donald Trump has declared talks between the US and the Taliban “dead” after he called off a Camp David meeting over the weekend, triggering fears of a spike in violence in Afghanistan in the run-up to presidential elections due later this month. Trump announced on Sunday that he had cancelled secret Camp David meetings with the Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, and Taliban leaders, following a car bomb attack in Kabul on Thursday. And he said negotiations with the Taliban, which appeared to have been close to a deal, were at an end. “They’re dead so far as I’m concerned,” Trump told reporters on the South Lawn of the White House. “They thought that to kill people in order to put themselves in a little better negotiating position when they did that they killed 12 people … And you can’t do that can’t do that with me. So they’re dead as far as I’m concerned. And we’ve hit the Taliban harder at the last four days than they’ve been in over 10 years.” Trump’s tweeted announcement on Saturday came as a shock in Washington and Kabul, where there was disbelief that the president would have invited the Taliban to an iconic presidential venue in the same week as the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.(Guardian, 9 Sep, 2019)
1 - 9 September, 2019
  • Taliban Attack Kabul as US Nears Peace Deal
    The Taliban claimed responsibility for an explosion in Kabul late Monday, just hours after a U.S. negotiator shared with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani “key details” of a deal that would see thousands of American troops leaving Afghanistan. The blast in the Green Village compound, which houses international organizations and guesthouses, killed at least 16 people and wounded 119 others, said an Afghan government spokesman. Feroz Bashari said police rescued 400 foreign nationals from the complex and transferred them to a safe place. Earlier, U.S. officials said they had reached a draft framework agreement with the Taliban that will require American troops to vacate five military bases in Afghanistan within 135 days of the signing of the document.
    U.S. chief negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad made the comment while speaking to the largest private Afghan television channel TOLO news. He said that 5,000 troops will withdraw from the bases. Currently, 14,000 U.S. troops are deployed to Afghanistan and there are seven known U.S.-run bases in the country. (VOA, 2 Sep, 2019)
  • Taliban deal would see US troops 'withdraw from five bases'
    The United States is set to pull troops from five Afghan bases under a proposed deal with the Taliban, the US envoy leading talks with the group said in some of the first confirmed details of a much-anticipated accord.
    Zalmay Khalilzad, who has spent about a year negotiating with the Taliban, said on Monday the draw-down would take place within about four months of a final deal being approved - provided the Taliban stick to their commitments.
    "We have agreed that if the conditions proceed according to the agreement, we will leave, within 135 days, five bases in which we are present now," Khalilzad told Tolo News. (Al Jazeera, 2 Sep, 2019)
  • Afghanistan: current US withdrawal plan risks 'total civil war', top envoys say
    The majority of America’s ambassadors to Afghanistan since the removal of the Taliban government have condemned the US approach to negotiating a troop withdrawal, warning it risked a return to “total civil war”. Writing the day after a draft agreement was announced, the nine men, including a former deputy secretary of state, said they supported peace talks in Afghanistan. o
    But they warned the current approach risks spawning more violence and insecurity, because negotiators have cut the Afghan government out of discussions and have planned the departure of US troops before sealing a full peace agreement. (Guardian, 3 September, 2019)
  • The Taliban Has Defended a Kabul Suicide Bombing That Killed at Least 16 People o
    The Taliban on Tuesday defended their suicide bombing against an international compound in the Afghan capital that killed at least 16 people and wounded 119, almost all local civilians, just hours after a U.S. envoy said he and the militant group had reached a deal “in principle” to end America’s longest war.
    Angry Kabul residents whose homes were shredded in the explosion climbed over the buckled blast wall and set part of the compound, a frequent Taliban target, on fire. Thick smoke rose from the Green Village, home to several foreign organizations and guesthouses, whose location has become a peril to nearby local residents as well. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis condemned the attack, “which, unfortunately, ended the life of a Romanian citizen and seriously wounded another one. I reiterate our profound commitment to combating terrorism at the international level.” (Time, 3 Sep, 2019)