Displaying items by tag: Afghanistan
Until 2001 women’s rights in Afghanistan were severely curtailed. Barred from education and work, they were only allowed to leave a house covered head to foot and with a male relative escort. In the last twenty years women have returned to the classroom and workplace and can drive automobiles. Under the Taliban these actions were moral offenses and punished by flogging and stoning. When US troops withdraw many are concerned that the Taliban will roll back any gains women have made. Lawmakers are concerned that Afghanistan may once again become a refuge for extremists, and ‘women in Afghanistan may again be targets of violence’. Pray for lawmakers to refuse to turn back the clock to the previous austere restrictions imposed by the Taliban regime, and for husbands and fathers to stand up for the rights of their wives and daughters. See also
The UK has been in Afghanistan since 2001, with over 450 troops dying during the conflicts with the Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. Defence secretary Ben Wallace said they now plan to ‘drawdown’ the number of troops from next month. Confirming the planned departure of forces, he also warned any attacks on existing troops would be ‘met with a forceful response’. The US has said it will withdraw all forces by 11 September, and NATO confirmed allies would begin withdrawing troops from 1 May. Pray that the patchwork of multiple different competing tribal leaders agree to negotiate territory boundaries and not revert to the violent clashes seen in the past. Pray that the fragile government will successfully prevent chaos in parts of Afghanistan currently strongholds for terrorists. Pray that future negotiations between the government and Taliban will lead to meaningful reductions in violence once foreign troops are out of the equation.
Al-Qaeda is still "heavily embedded" within the Taliban in Afghanistan, in spite of a historic US-Taliban agreement earlier this year, a senior United Nations official has told the BBC.
Earlier this year, the US signed an agreement with the Taliban committing to withdrawing all American forces from the country by next summer if the Taliban ensured groups including al-Qaeda were not able to use Afghan territory to plot international attacks.
But Edmund Fitton-Brown, co-ordinator of the UN's Islamic State, Al-Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Team, has told the BBC that the Taliban promised al-Qaeda in the run-up to the US agreement that the two groups would remain allies.
"The Taliban were talking regularly and at a high level with al-Qaeda and reassuring them that they would honour their historic ties," Mr Fitton-Brown said.
He said the relationship between al-Qaeda and the Taliban was "not substantively" changed by the deal struck with the US. "Al-Qaeda are heavily embedded with the Taliban and they do a good deal of military action and training action with the Taliban, and that has not changed," he said.
Eliminating the threat from al-Qaeda and overthrowing the Taliban regime that had harboured them was the original basis for the US invasion of Afghanistan, following the 9/11 attacks. At the time, President George W Bush vowed to hunt the militants until there was "no place to run, or hide, or rest".
Al-Qaeda's strength and ability to strike the West has significantly diminished over the past decade, but its leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is believed to still be based in Afghanistan along with a number of other senior figures in the group. The Afghan intelligence services announced on Saturday they had killed Husam Abd al-Rauf, a high ranking Egyptian al-Qaeda member, in an operation in Ghazni province. Mr Fitton-Brown told the BBC that despite its lower profile, al-Qaeda remained "resilient" and "dangerous".
How the Taliban's relationship with al-Qaeda develops could determine the future of the Afghan peace process. The Taliban's commitments on international terrorism are the most tangible demands that need to be met as part of the US-Taliban withdrawal agreement. However, the issue is likely to prove divisive, with Taliban hardliners thought to oppose any measures cutting their links with al-Qaeda.
It is feared the Afghan peace process is in any case losing its momentum. Despite the beginning of long delayed negotiations between the Taliban and an Afghan government-led delegation last month in Qatar, violence has continued and even intensified in recent weeks.
The negotiations have stalled amid attempts to resolve preliminary issues, with major issues such as a ceasefire or power-sharing arrangement yet to be discussed. There are fears that if US troops are withdrawn next year, before an agreement has been reached, the violence could intensify and the Taliban push for a military victory.
Mr Fitton-Brown warned that, were the peace process to fall apart, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group could attempt to further exploit "ungoverned space" in Afghanistan.
"Both of those groups have an avowed aspiration to pose an international threat," he said.
Extracts from an email received from a humanitarian organization serving the people of Afghanistan:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
While the Taliban are in Doha now since one month to presumable talk about peace with high officials of the Afghan government, the fighting continues unabated and yesterday the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) reported that 180 civilians have been killed and 375 have been wounded over the last month in a spate of violence across Afghanistan.
Many Afghans were expecting that a cease fire would be announced or fighting would slow down, but the Taliban have increased their attacks on the government, Army, police and civilians throughout the country.
“Where is peace? Which peace? While we are going to Doha for talks, you witness a wave of suicide attacks, there are explosions, soldiers are being killed - we do not need this kind of peace,” said Najibullah Kabuli.
Fighting was also reported close to the capital and to the city where our team from the North East is based and also in the west of the country fighting has increased and many other parts. The Taliban try to get into a stronger position as they negotiate with the government.
Please pray that the Taliban would be pushed back and defeated and they would not make any further success!
Please continue to pray also for the so-called peace talks in Doha/Qatar.
The Taliban will definitely try to get a big influence on the present government which could really change the society again into strict Sharia rules.
Please continue to pray for all our foreign and local workers and brothers and sisters for their protection.
Following the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Taliban Government refusing the USA’s demand for them to surrender Osama bin Laden, the longest war in US history began, killing 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. A Taliban insurgency continues, and its forces now control nearly 20% of Afghan territory. Almost half the land is ‘contested’, and the Taliban is stronger today than at any time since the war began. A large-scale US effort to defeat the Taliban would prove costlier than the American public (and therefore any president) is willing to bear. In February 2020 the Taliban agreed to stop their attacks on coalition forces and Afghan civilians, and the USA and NATO agreed to remove their forces by May 2021. Once that happens, there will be nothing to prevent civil war because Pakistan, India, Russia, Iran and others will back their own proxies. Nobody wants a vacuum of power in the country.
President Ashraf Ghani said Afghanistan had UN values enshrined in its constitution, but the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities. He said: ‘The industrial revolution is a driver of inequality and unemployment and we must think ahead of our time. Violence and warfare are another source of turbulence in the fifth wave of global terrorism. Peace talks with the Taliban are not enough: we must get to the root of the terrorism blighting our region and address it as the global phenomenon and threat that it is. Climate change brings floods and drought needing regional solutions based on international models. Afghanistan is the 17th worst-affected country. All the above culminates as an explosion of inequality. But Afghanistan is in the heart of Asia. Our water ties us together; our cultures and languages give us a common denominator; South Asia needs energy resources, and Central Asia’s abundance of them makes Afghanistan a connector.’ For the full statement, see
Afghan officials say they have released about another 100 Taliban prisoners as part of a prisoner swap meant to clear the way for the start of peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.
Afghan officials have described the remaining prisoners as the most dangerous, accusing them of masterminding attacks on embassies, public squares, and government offices, killing thousands of civilians in recent years.
The release of 400 Taliban prisoners was approved last month at a consultative Loya Jirga in Kabul. Eighty of them were released last month.
The decision came more than five months after Washington and the Taliban made the release of prisoners by both sides a condition for the talks between the militant group and Kabul.
A government official who did not want to be named told RFE/RL on September 1 that the release of the prisoners will be completed in the next few days and that talks between the government and the Taliban will begin in Qatar.
The official said the process could be completed by September 2 and that an Afghan government delegation will immediately travel to the Qatari capital of Doha for negotiations with the militant group.
The release of the prisoners is the last hurdle to opening peace talks between the internationally-backed government in Kabul and the Taliban under a peace deal signed in February between the militants and the United States.
Pray that this release along with reciprocal releases by the Taliban will lead to fruitful peace talks.
Pray that these hardened militants will be supernaturally prevented from taking up arms again.
Pray for all sides to take this situation seriously and for the right people to be appointed to the High Council for National Reconciliation.
Pray for the people of Afghanistan who have suffered for so long, that they will know lasting peace and that their nation will once again prosper.
This prayer update is based on input from a contact of International Prayer Connection who is living in the region (for the full letter click the ‘More’ button). ‘Covid-19 spreads like wildfire and it looks as if the whole country is penetrated by this virus. We received reports that it has now reached the mountainous areas, whereas previously it was mostly contained in the larger cities. Many are dying because of lack of medical facilities. People are poor and cannot afford to buy oxygen cylinders. Many brothers and sisters, expats and locals, have become quite seriously ill. Some are suffering from tiredness, anxiety and depression.’ The UN said the new coronavirus outbreak is casting ‘a huge shadow’ over Afghan daily life. Under the government’s leadership, the UN is supporting a coordinated response that includes setting up a nationwide network of laboratories and the provision of personal protective equipment.
This prayer update is based on input from a contact of IPC’s who is living in the region…
Thank you for your faithful prayers for Afghanistan.
COVID-19 spreads like wildfire and it looks like the whole country is penetrated by this virus. We received reports that it has now reached the mountainous areas whereas it was mostly contained in the larger cities.
Many people are dying because of lack of medical facilities. People are poor and cannot afford to buy oxygen cylinders. A big number of brothers and sisters, expats and locals have become quite seriously ill. Some are also suffering from tiredness, anxiety and depression.
Deborah Lyons, Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told the Security Council on Thursday that the novel coronavirus outbreak is casting “a huge shadow” over Afghan daily life. Under the leadership of the Afghan government, the United Nations is supporting a coordinated response that includes setting up a nationwide network of laboratories and the provision of personal protective equipment, she said.
Pray that the desperately needed medical aid will reach as far as the rural hospitals and clinics. Pray that sufficient oxygen can be supplied to relieve the suffering of all of the patients, regardless of circumstances.
The other great challenge is the strong attacks of Talibans and ISIS against the army and police. They killed and wounded over 400 soldiers in one week. The National Security Council called it the bloodiest week in 19 years. https://aje.io/q3gru
Please continue to pray for an end of the fighting and that the Taliban and ISIS movements would come to an end. Despite these attacks, the U.S. government is committed to withdraw their troops.
Pray that Afghans in their great desperation would call on the Name of the Lord and will encounter and start to follow Him.
Pray also for continued boldness for those in the country to witness and share the gospel.
Sayed Mukhtar 13, an Afghan teenager who was trained by the Taliban for a suicide attack, has surrendered to the Afghan security forces in Kunduz province, the Ministry of Interior said on Thursday.
The teenager claimed that he spent five years in a Taliban camp and pursued military education and tactics for suicide attacks. Sayed Mukhtar was due to detonate explosives strapped to his body in a marriage gathering two days ago, but he changed his mind and surrendered to the Afghan security forces.
“This is one of the examples of how the Taliban has resorted to such brutal acts over the past decade-and-a-half. they could have devastated tens of youngsters and youths,” said Tariq Aryan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior.
Pray that these despicable attacks will be stopped in their tracks and for the youngsters who have been brainwashed – that they will reject the instructions to cause devastation and the loss of innocent lives, like Sayed did.
UN Article More: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/06/1067162
IS has taken credit for an attack on 8 April on the largest US military base in Afghanistan - Bagram airfield, near Kabul. The attack came as 100 Taliban prisoners were released, as a prerequisite for peace talks. More prisoners should be released near the Bagram base. The government is required to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners, with the Taliban releasing 1,000 members of the Afghan security forces. There is disagreement over the procedure, as to whether senior Taliban commanders would be covered by the deal.
Afghanistan has begun its first face-to-face talks with the Taliban on exchanging thousands of prisoners.
Details of the initial meeting in Kabul emerged on Wednesday 1 April, ahead of a planned second day of talks, as Afghans observed tight restrictions on movement because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Under a US-Taliban deal, the government will free 5,000 Taliban prisoners, while the militants will release 1,000.
The talks took place against a backdrop of continuing violence in the country. Authorities blamed the Taliban for an explosion in the southern province of Helmand on Wednesday that killed eight civilians, including several children.
How much progress has been made in talks?
The prisoner swap had been due to take place in early March, as part of a US-Taliban deal signed on 29 February, but there have been a series of setbacks. Until Wednesday, the two sides had only met by video conference.
With talks due to resume for a second day on Wednesday, Afghanistan's Office of the National Security Council said that progress had only been made so far "on technical matters". The talks were overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the focus was on the release of security force and national defence captives as well as Taliban prisoners, the ICRC said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the meetings did not amount to negotiations, telling AFP: "There will be no political talks there". The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo called the beginning of the talks "good news".
The Taliban had been due to send a large team to the Kabul talks, but in the end sent a three-man delegation because of the covid-19 virus outbreak. A spokesman for the militant group said the trio would monitor the prisoner release process and take the necessary technical measures.
Though US troops began withdrawing last month under the terms of the deal with the Taliban, movement on the prisoner swap has been slow because of disagreements between President Ashraf Ghani and his main political rival Abdullah Abdullah.
Pray that these breakthrough talks will lead to a successful exchange of prisoners and that the face to face talks between the government will continue.
Pray for an end to the ongoing violence that is devastating the lives of many Afghans.
Pray that the coronavirus will be arrested in its tracks and that it will not spread.