RSS Feed Tue, 26 May 2015 05:21:28 GMT FeedCreator 1.8.0-dev ( Fierce Fighting in Yemen As Peace Hopes Fade

Rebel forces and loyalist fighters were locked in fierce fighting in Yemen on Monday as hopes of a political solution faded after the United Nations postponed peace talks.

Clashes raged in the country's third city Taez, sowing panic after Shiite Huthi rebels bombarded several districts with rocket and tank fire.

"There's a real massacre going on in Taez, the city that spearheaded the revolt" against former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who now supports the Huthis, one resident said.

"Saleh has aligned himself with the rebels to take revenge," Bassam al-Qadhi added.

Saleh quit in early 2012 after bloody year-long protests against his rule, and was replaced by Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi who has taken refuge along with his government in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

Monday's clashes in Taez came just four days before a new UN effort was to have been held, aiming to resolve the conflict in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula nation.

But there had been growing uncertainty over which of the warring parties would attend the talks slated for Thursday in Geneva.

"I can confirm that the meeting has been postponed," a UN official told AFP on Sunday, without providing further immediate explanation.

The postponement is another blow to UN efforts to broker peace in a country where nearly 2,000 people have been killed since March.

- Hadi's demands -

Hadi had laid out his government's demands in a pre-talks letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, insisting that the rebels must withdraw from territory they have seized.

He reiterated his position on Sunday during talks in Riyadh with Ban's special envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed.

In a bid to restore Hadi's authority, Saudi Arabia has led an air campaign against the Huthis since March 26.

Coalition aircraft bombarded targets across the country at the weekend, including the airport in second city Aden and its northern suburbs, officials said.

On Monday, residents and an official in Taez said fierce fighting had killed and wounded dozens of people.

The clashes, which erupted on Sunday and raged overnight, have killed at least 30 Huthi rebels and allied forces, the official told AFP.

He said a provisional toll showed at least five Hadi loyalists were also killed.

For a second consecutive day, rebels and their allies targeted several Taez neighbourhoods with rockets and tank shells, residents said.

Medics and residents told AFP late Sunday the bombardment had killed 10 civilians and wounded 80.

Officials in neighbouring Daleh province said pro-Hadi fighters had retaken several positions from the rebels, including a military camp, in dawn fighting on Monday.

- Aid deliveries -

They said clashes were ongoing, especially at a now rebel-held base of the 33rd Armoured Brigade where pro-government forces have seized six tanks.

Clashes were also reported in other southern provinces on Monday, including Shabwa and Abyan as well as Aden.

The fighting followed a day of intense raids by Saudi-led coalition warplanes targeting rebel arms depots and positions, witnesses said.

More than 545,000 people have been displaced in the conflict, and although some aid trickled in last week during a five-day ceasefire, people still lack basic needs, including water, electricity and fuel.

A ship carrying 460 tonnes of Emirati humanitarian aid docked on Sunday in Aden.

The shipment, including medical and food supplies, is the second from the United Arab Emirates following the delivery of 1,200 tonnes of aid last week, said local aid coordinator Ali al-Bikri.

Another ship carrying 400 tonnes of diesel also arrived on Friday, said Bikri, who was appointed by Yemen's government in exile.

"Aden needs urgently at least 200,000 food rations for the displaced," Bikri added.

Fierce fighting has raged in Aden between the rebels and their allies and southern fighters allied with Hadi.

Hadi has demanded full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2216 calling on the Huthis to relinquish territory they seized and surrender weapons they took from the army and other state institutions.

Tue, 26 May 2015 04:40:24 GMT
Unknown Gunmen Attack Police Post in Kandahar

At least two unknown gunmen attacked a police post in southern Kandahar province on Monday night. Officials said Tuesday the clash is still ongoing.

The attack took place in 4th district of Kandahar city after the unknown gunmen attacked the police post and then took refuge inside a building near the post. One policeman was injured during the clashes, a spokesman for the provincial governor Samim Ikhpelwak said.‎

"The gunmen are still continuing clashes with the security forces from a building and the security forces have surrounded the building," he said.

But a member of the Provincial Council of Kandahar has said that a woman was also killed in the attack and three policemen were injured.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Tue, 26 May 2015 04:33:49 GMT
19 Police, 7 Soldiers Killed in Taliban Attack in Helmand

Local officials in southern Helmand province on Tuesday said that 19 policemen and seven military soldiers were killed in a Taliban attack on Monday in Nawzad district of the province.

The incident took place after a number of the Taliban insurgents attacked the police and military posts in Nawazad, District Governor Nafas Khan said.

He said that the attack happened early Monday and security forces have asked for supports of more troops.

"After the attack the Taliban insurgents have closed roads into Nawzad," he added.

Local sources also confirmed the deaths of the security forces in the attack.

In the past week, the Taliban insurgents have attacked three areas in the north and the south of the province.

Tue, 26 May 2015 03:48:37 GMT
TOLOnews 6pm News 25 May 2015 Top news in this Bulletin:

Responding to news about the cancelation of a contract to develop the Hajigak mine, Daud Shah Sabah, the Minister of Mines and Petroleum, maintained on Monday that no contract was ever signed and that the Indian consortium leading the bidding process was always allowed to pull out of its bid.

To watch the whole news bulletin, click here:


 A number of MPs have raised issue over a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Afghan and Pakistani intelligence services. The critics have objected to both particular facets of the agreement as well as to the overall process through which the pact emerged.

Mon, 25 May 2015 16:58:01 GMT
Minister of Mines Looks to Clear Air Around Hajigak Mine Controversy

Responding to news about the cancelation of a contract to develop the Hajigak mine, Daud Shah Sabah, the Minister of Mines and Petroleum, maintained on Monday that no contract was ever signed and that the Indian consortium leading the bidding process was always allowed to pull out of its bid.

In his press conference on Monday, Sabah emphasized that all natural resource contracting processes in the future would be handled more transparently.

"Unfortunately, over the past two nights, I have been hearing analysts talk about the contract. But there is no such contract," the minister said. "In 2010, the government of Afghanistan decided to put the Hajigak mine in Bamyan up for bidding, and two companies were selected."

Regarding another controversial mining project, the Aynak copper mine, Sabah assured that transparency would be pursued, if in part in order to avoid further confusion and misinformation about contracting. "The government of Afghanistan is obligated to publish all mining contracts so that the people of Afghanistan know what parties their representatives, as in the Ministry of Mines, have signed the contracts with," he said.

The minister stressed that greater transparency would mean all contracts would be practical and to the benefit of the Afghan people.

At the beginning of the week, Indian media reported the cancellation of an Indian consortium's agreement to develop the Hajigak mine project.

Some analysts have suggested the Indian consortium pulled out of the mine opportunity in response to the signing of an intelligence agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan a couple days prior. Others blame government mismanagement.

Mon, 25 May 2015 16:15:02 GMT
MPs Push For Nullification of NDS-ISI Agreement

A number of MPs have raised issue over a recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Afghan and Pakistani intelligence services. The critics have objected to both particular facets of the agreement as well as to the overall process through which the pact emerged.

Referring to comments made by the head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), a group of lawmakers on Monday expressed outrage at the possibility that the intelligence sharing agreement was never put up for discussion by the National Security Council.

In addition to frustrations about the lack of inclusive debate over the merits of the agreement prior to it being forged, MPs expressed concerns about the level of discord among leaders when it comes to the MoU. Reportedly President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and NDS Chief Rahmatullah Nabil have disagreed over a number of points in the accord.

Parliament's Internal Relations Commission, Internal Security Commission and Defense Commission were directed to review the MoU this week in the presence of the national security advisor and NDS chief.

"In short, I would say that there are serious concerns on four articles of the MoU, such as the training of military cadres, joint combat between the two spy agencies against the enemy, combating separatists alongside common borders and the issue of the Durand Line," Internal Security Commission Chair Mirdad Khan Nejrabi told TOLOnews.

MP Ali Akbar Qasimi, the deputy head of Parliament's Defense Commission, suggested that there should be legal repercussions for those who sought to arrange the MoU in secrecy. "Consultations weren't conducted on the recently signed MoU, and those pushing for the agreement to be signed were trying to keep it secret," he said on Monday. "Fortunately, the MoU was disclosed, but those who did the deal should be put on trial for treason."

Despite the NDS being a central party to the MoU, some MPs claimed the NDS chief had been shut out of the decision making around it. "The things that were recommended by the NDS chief weren't included in the MoU," Internal Security Commission deputy Abdul Hai Akhondzada said. "It was prepared in line with the demands of the National Security Council and even the Chief Executive is now is disagreement."

MP Abdul Qayoum Sajjadi called for the MoU to be redacted right away. However, Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi refused the recommendation and urged for a transparent review of the agreement with the National Security Advisor. "We must value the status of the House," Ibrahimi said. "Let the National Security Advisor come to the House and offer his answers so that we can decide in light of the answers."

But not all lawmakers were appeased, with some, such as International Relations Commission members Dawood Kalakani, who accused the House Speaker of trying to avoid a vote on the MoU. "I think the Speaker of the House made a deal with the government, because the MoU was supposed to be put up for voting today and the majority of the lawmakers were against it," he said.

The National Security Advisor, NDS chief and deputy NDS chief - who all signed the agreement with Pakistan - are expected to appear in front of Parliament soon, though no official date has been set.

Mon, 25 May 2015 16:15:00 GMT
Appreciating Afghan Football for More Than Sport

The rapid development of Afghan football in recent years is considered one of the major feel-good success stories of the past decade. According to officials at the Afghan Football Federation (AFF), the game has played a critical role in uniting the people of Afghanistan.

Football is played in a every region of the country, a consequence of the sport's global popularity, but also its unique trajectory in Afghanistan. Despite war and funding problems, the Afghan National Football Team has made a name for itself on the international stage in recent years, winning its first international tournament title in 2013 at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup.

"Football has brought major pride to Afghanistan and it could even be helpful in building unity among the people of Afghanistan," national team coach Yousaf Kargar told TOLOnews on Monday.

Today, in a country where insecurity and corruption are so widespread, pride and confidence are two things in short supply. However, football has helped cultivate them both, giving everyday Afghans something to get behind.

"I am satisfied with the performance of the national team, they have gained major titles for the nation," a Kabul resident Shafiullah said.

The Afghan national team has faced plenty of trials and tribulations, most often in the form of funding. But their hard-earned success has also paid off at times. Now, the team prepares to head into World Cup qualifiers in order to gain a birth in the next tournament.

"I am proud of the national team players who despite enormous problems play for the team and become victorious," another Kabul resident named Tawab said. "Soon the team will play in an important event in Mashad in Iran, and Afghanistan needs to surpass Syria, Cambodia, Japan and Singapore teams to play in the 2018 World Cup in Russia."

Mon, 25 May 2015 15:51:05 GMT
Analysts Criticize Secretive Peace Process

Commentators on Monday expressed outrage about the government's handling of peace negotiations with the Taliban, which have been shrouded in secrecy despite officials assuring greater transparency.

The reaction comes in response to rumors that the Secretary of the High Peace Council traveled to China recently in order to meet three Taliban representatives and a top official from the Pakistani intelligence service (ISI). Both the national unity government and the Taliban have denied the claims.

Sources told TOLOnews that a three member government delegation, led by former HPC Secretary Masoom Stanikzai, met in China on May 20 with Mullah Abdul Razaq Akhond, who represented the Quetta Shura; former deputy minister of foreign affairs under the Taliban regime, Mullah Jalil; and the Taliban's former governor of Kandahar and an official of ISI.

Analysts have stressed the importance of conducting peace talks openly. Some have said the Afghan government should seek to gather intelligence and get a better understanding of dynamics on the ground before jumping into negotiations.

"We expected that the government would meet the commitments it had made to the people about direct and open talks, but the meetings which are being held between representatives of the national security council, HPC and other individuals in Doha, UAE and Urumqi people, weren't taken into confidence and the whole thing is moving forward in secret," political analyst Syed Eshaq Gillani said.

Meanwhile, Afghan lawmakers expressed a similar sentiment - frustration with the lack of clarity and transparency in the process. "It is clear that the peace process is a national process and should be broad based; the perspectives of the people of Afghanistan, politicians, civil society institutions, MPs, families of martyrs, refugees, disabled and all social segments should be included," MP Syed Mohammad Hassan Balkhabi said. "The president pledged in front of media that he would take the people into confidence regarding peace talks, but instead complicated games are going on and suspicious moves continue."

In response to the allegations, presidential spokesman Ajmal Abidy maintained that no peace talks had been officially held between national unity officials and the Taliban. "So far no talks have been held between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban," Abidy said Monday. "The people of Afghanistan will be informed after negotiations start and talks will be conducted with transparency," he added.

The HPC has also denied knowledge of talks in China, and raised questions about who is in fact taking the reigns on the peace process. "In consideration of the ongoing situations in Afghanistan and the stance of the Ministry of Defense, I think Masoom Stanikzai will not follow his previous approach toward peace," HPC spokesman Shahzada Shahid said regarding the head of the HPC Secretariat. "I agree that his experience will be beneficial, but in the peace process, his role will not be important."

Sources close to the matter have also told TOLOnews that President Ashraf Ghani plans to lead a delegation of 64 members to Qatar on June 10. Members of the delegation are expected to meet with Taliban leaders, many of who are said to believe Qatar is the only acceptable venue.

Mon, 25 May 2015 15:42:52 GMT
Massoud Calls For Urgent Loya Jirga To Resolve NUG Issues

The Chairman of the Massoud Foundation, Ahmad Wali Massoud, on Monday voiced concerns over the direction in which the Afghanistan government was heading and called for an immediate Loya Jirga in order to address the problem.

Massoud voiced his concerns at a conference in Kabul that was titled "In what direction is Afghanistan going?".

Massoud said that the National Unity Government (NUG) has in the past nine months made little progress and is in fact working against the people's wishes.

Conference delegates meanwhile said that President Ashraf Ghani and the CEO, Abdullah Abdullah have been busy negotiating a power share deal but have been unable to manage the country's political needs which has led to minimum progress being made.

"The reality is that the NUG has done little for the people. They are still busy with their own battles and have worked against the will of the people. This form of movement must change," said Massoud.

Massoud also showed concern over the formation of new political opposition fronts against the NUG. In fact he has labeled the current situation in the country as critical.

"Our view is that an emergency Loya Jirga must be called. This must happen now, and everyone must decide what happens. That way a real National Unity Government will be formed," says Massoud.

Conference delegates also raised concerns over the increasing activities attributed to Daesh and other armed groups, criticizing a lack of government action for not clearing these insurgent groups.

Mon, 25 May 2015 15:10:02 GMT
MPs Concerned Over Claims Govt Arming Civilians

Legislators in parliament on Monday claimed that government is arming civilians in some northern regions of Afghanistan in order to help fight insurgents.

According to lawmakers, the government's move could be useful in some instances but the move could also create bigger challenges for government in the long term.

In response to these concerns, the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) has dismissed the claims saying these allegations are untrue.

"The ministry of interior doesn't provide weapons to the individuals who do not work in the structure of police and it is not part of the policy of the Ministry of Interior. We have enough personnel in the ranks of national police and local police who keep an upper hand in eliminating opponents and threats," MoI spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

This comes as insurgents expanded their offensive into the north of Afghanistan during the recently launched fighting season. However some officials claim that former Taliban fighters who have laid down their weapons are now trying to rearm themselves.

But some MPs believe that ex-local commanders have the upper hand when it comes to intelligence and feel they could contribute positively to government's attempts to fight insurgents. However, MPs say a guarantee is needed in terms of these commanders not creating problems further down the line.

"People get arms for sake of their own defense, there is no guarantee that they will not create problems, the whole responsibility lies with the government to main security," MP Rangeena Kargar said.

He is concerned that if such groups are not closely monitored by government, they could create enormous problems in future.

"It is a matter of concern, such individuals and illegal armed groups beside contributing to problems could be a reason for the downfall of the system," MP Najia Emaq said.

Currently, more than 350,000 soldiers serve in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) – enough to stamp out insurgents, say analysts.

Mon, 25 May 2015 15:00:53 GMT
Beach Football Tournament Launched in Kabul

Kabul's beach football competition kicked off on Monday with eight teams taking part. The aim of the tournament is to prepare teams for the beach premier league.

This is first time the teams are playing on a standardized open air field, said officials.

According to a beach football committee member, Rohullah Rastgar, the competition also aims to select players for a national beach football team.

"Playing on such a field will have a good impact on players because it will enable them to prepare for matches," Rastgar said. "We also want to make players aware of the rules of the game, which change often. Also we want to find new players for the national team."

A number of Afghan players who play in the Brazil beach football premier league have also arrived in Kabul for the competition.

"I have played in Brazil's premier league for the past two years and now I am here and I hope to make it into the national team by playing in this championship," Hazrat Gul Baran said.

In the first match of the competition, Sediqqi team beat Omid-e-Afghan 5-2. Baran scored two goals for the Sediqqi team.

In another match, Sabawoon beat Kaboora 4-3. The competition will continue for a week.

Mon, 25 May 2015 13:41:57 GMT
FARAKHABAR: Daesh Recruiting in Afghanistan: Campbell

In a meeting on Sunday with Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, US Gen. John Campbell, Resolute Support Mission commander, said that Daesh was actively recruiting in the country, but was not yet operational in Afghanistan.

To watch the program, click here:


Associated Press quoted Campbell as saying: "It is absolutely a concern." He said the group was using a sophisticated social media campaign to attract Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan who were disgruntled at the lack of progress they were making in overthrowing the Kabul government.

He said Daesh's presence in Afghanistan has grown considerably in the past six months.

In this episode of Farakhabar, host Yama Siavash discusses the topic with the following guests:

• Mohammad Iqbal Kohistani, MP
• Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry

Mon, 25 May 2015 10:58:35 GMT
TAWDE KHABARE: Security Issues in Uruzgan Province

Uruzgan is one province that has seen ongoing clashes between security forces and insurgents. And recently a number of Senators and MPs have voiced concerns over the high number of displaced people in the province due to security issues.

To watch the whole program, click here:


In this episode of Tawde Khabare, host Shapoor Bakhtiyar discusses the topic with the following guests:
Obaidullah Barakzai, MP
Amanullah Azimi, former Senator
Haji Ahmad Khan Muslim, tribal elder from Uruzgan
Mohammad Hanif Hanafi, Senator
Abdul Rahim Ayoubi, MP from Kandahar

Mon, 25 May 2015 10:00:54 GMT
BA REWAYATE DIGAR: Fighting Season and the Capacity of the Afghan Forces

In this episode of Ba Rewayate Digar, host Muslim Sherzad discusses this year's fighting season in the country and the capacity of the Afghan security forces.

To watch the whole program, click here:



• What is your assessment of the capabilities of security forces this year?
• What is the reason behind the increase of insecurity in the north of Afghanistan?
• Is the hand over of full security to the Afghan security forces an opportunity or a challenge?
• Will the security forces be successful in this year's war?


• Mirdad Nijrabi, Head of the Security Commission of the Wolesi Jirga
• Meya Gul Wasiq, military analyst
• Sanjar Sohail, journalist
• Abdul Satar Darzabi, MP

Mon, 25 May 2015 09:19:07 GMT
52 Insurgents Killed in Countrywide Operations

At least 52 Taliban insurgents were killed and 27 others injured in Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) operations in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement on Monday.

One other insurgent was arrested during the operations.

The operations were conducted in Nangarhar, Laghman, Baghlan, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Sar-e-Pul, Logar, Paktika, Farah, Nimroz and Helmand provinces, the statement said.

"During the same 24 hour period, Afghan National Police discovered and defused six different types of IEDs placed by enemies of Afghanistan for destructive activities in Balkh, Logar, Paktika and Farah provinces," the statement added.

However, the Ministry of Interior did not provided details about casualties of ANSF memsbers during the operations.

Mon, 25 May 2015 08:09:36 GMT
Four Killed, 73 Injured in Zabul Suicide Bombing

At least four civilians were killed and 73 people – including children and women - were injured in a powerful suicide truck bomb in southern Zabul province on Monday, local officials said.

The attack took place in Qalat the capital of the province after a suicide truck bomber detonated his explosives near the provincial council building, deputy police chief, Ghulaam Jelani Farahi said.

"Most of the victims are civilians. Women and children were among the injured people," he said.

The explosion caused extensive damage to the provincial council building as well as to other buildings in the area including a hospital and the provincial education department. 

Farahi said that the police have launched an investigation into the attack.

Officials said that no member of the provincial council has hurt in the attack.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

To watch the footage, click here:


Mon, 25 May 2015 07:59:22 GMT
One Policeman Killed, Five Injured in Taliban Ambush in Farah

A policeman was killed and five others injured in a Taliban ambush in western Farah province on Sunday night, local offices said.

The incident took place in Farah city after a number of Taliban insurgents attacked local policemen, provincial police chief, Fazel Mohammad Samadyar said.

"The injured policemen were taken to a nearby hospital in the city and they were in stable condition," Samadyar said.

He said that the Taliban insurgents also suffered casualties in the clash but no details were available.

The Taliban have not yet commented on the incident

Mon, 25 May 2015 07:48:47 GMT
US Says Iraqi Forces Lack Will to Fight Daesh

Washington accused Iraqi forces of lacking the will to fight the Daesh group, which scored a resounding victory a week earlier with the capture of Ramadi.

The jihadists had appeared on the back foot in Iraq in recent months but twin offensives on Ramadi and on the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra have swung the momentum.

On Sunday, a monitoring group reported at least 217 people were executed in and around Palmyra in the last nine days.

The loss of Ramadi, capital of Iraq's largest province of Anbar, raised questions over the strategy adopted not only by Baghdad but also by Washington to tackle Daesh.

Pentagon chief Ashton Carter told CNN that Baghdad's worst military defeat in almost a year could have been avoided.

"What apparently happened was the Iraqi forces showed no will to fight. They were not outnumbered, and they vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and they failed to fight and withdrew from the site," he said.

"That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight Daesh and defend themselves," he said, using an alternative name for the group.

The US-led coalition air war that began two months after Daesh seized swathes of Iraq in June 2014 has led to more than 3,000 strikes.

"Air strikes are effective but neither they, or really anything we do, can substitute for the Iraqi forces' will to fight," Carter said.

- Daesh takes border post -

Analysts usually argue that while air strikes cannot ensure territory will be regained, they have at least prevented Daesh from spreading even further to key cities such as Baghdad or the Kurdish capital Arbil.

The coalition said it conducted another 17 strikes over a 24-hour period straddling Saturday and Sunday, including seven in Anbar.

Several units of Iraqi security forces, including elite troops, defied their chain of command and retreated from Ramadi when Daesh advanced.

The Anbar police chief has already been replaced and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi promised an investigation.

The fall of the city, which lies about 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of Baghdad, was reminiscent of Mosul a year ago, when jihadists took Iraq's second city almost without a fight.

The capture of the Anbar capital together with the Deash takeover of Palmyra in eastern Syria has consolidated the jihadists' grip on the heart of their self-proclaimed caliphate.

Daesh jihadists in different parts of Syria's Homs province have executed 67 civilians and 150 members of regime forces since May 16, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said whole families had been executed, including children with their parents, after Syrian state media said Daesh had carried out a "massacre" in Palmyra, slaughtering some 400 civilians.

On Sunday, Daesh forces crossed from Syria with two suicide car bombs to attack the Iraqi side of the southern border crossing.

Iraqi border guards promptly retreated to a nearby crossing with Jordan, arguing they had repeatedly called for reinforcements, in vain.

"We were ready to withdraw. We had decided that we would stay if any reinforcements reached us and that we would withdraw at the first attack we are exposed to if we received no reinforcements," said one of them, Marwan al-Hadithi.

- Several fronts -

After security forces retreated from Ramadi, Abadi called in the Hashed al-Shaabi, an umbrella for Iran-backed Shiite militia and volunteers which he and Washington had wanted to keep out of the Sunni province of Anbar.

Several politicians within his own camp have accused Abadi of causing Ramadi's fall by failing to send the paramilitary force earlier.

On Saturday, Iraqi forces retook Husaybah, a rural town in the Euphrates Valley seven kilometres (4.5 miles) east of Ramadi.

A fully-fledged counterattack to retake the provincial capital did not appear to be under way however.

Swift action was seen as essential to prevent Daesh from laying booby traps across Ramadi, which would make any advance in the city more risky and complicated.

Iraqi forces were also battling Daesh on other fronts, including at the Baiji oil refinery, about 200 kilometres north of Baghdad.

Officials in Haditha, the last major Anbar city in government control, said Deash executed 16 traders bringing back food goods from Baiji.

Their bodies were found on the road side by residents. A Haditha tribal leader said a paper was found on one of them in which Daesh claimed the executions were to avenge the men they lost in recent fighting near Haditha.

In Diyala province, which the government claimed to have cleared of Daesh fighters in January, eight bombs went off almost simultaneously early Sunday, security sources said.

Intelligence had been received of a possible wave of bomb attacks and only 14 people were wounded in the blasts in the towns of Baquba and Baladruz, a senior official said.

A top official said he feared more attacks and said Baquba was sealed off as a precaution.

Mon, 25 May 2015 03:38:59 GMT
TOLOnews 6pm News 24 May 2015

Kandahar Police Chief General Abdul Raziq has criticized the recent signing of an intelligence Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Raziq asserted that Islamabad has continued to try and expand the war in Afghanistan while appearing as an ally.


General Raziq is one of the most well-known and respected police commanders in the country. He is famous for his merciless approach toward the Taliban militancy, and striking fear into the hearts of the government's enemies in south.

Sun, 24 May 2015 16:29:05 GMT
Raziq Criticizes NDS-ISI Agreement

Kandahar Police Chief General Abdul Raziq has criticized the recent signing of an intelligence Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Raziq asserted that Islamabad has continued to try and expand the war in Afghanistan while appearing as an ally.

General Raziq is one of the most well-known and respected police commanders in the country. He is famous for his merciless approach toward the Taliban militancy, and striking fear into the hearts of the government's enemies in south.

"Some of the actions of the national unity government will have negative impacts on the morale of security forces," Raziq told TOLOnews on Sunday. "For example, the signing of the intelligence agreement with Pakistan will have a negative impact on the morale of security forces, and it will cause the security forces to weaken," he added.

Last week, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) signed the MoU with Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). The accord would supposedly expand operational cooperation and information sharing between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

While supporting efforts at peace talks in theory, Raziq once again referred to his strong distrust toward Pakistan. He said giving Pakistan a role in the peace process is a mistake.

"There are benefits to peace, but we don't want peace talks with Taliban, because it is a waste of time. It is our mistake to extend our hand to Pakistan and ask for help," Raziq said. "This has given Pakistan the opportunity to move the battle from the south to the north and expand the battle from five to fifteen provinces."

Indeed, security conditions around the country, including in the capital, have rapidly deteriorated in recent weeks, each new day seemingly coming with more news of a bloody suicide bombing, insurgent offensive and overrun district. These conditions seem inconsistent with the narratives of slow but steady progress in the negotiation process.

Sun, 24 May 2015 15:49:42 GMT
MPs Question ANSF Effectiveness Amid Growing Threats

Lawmakers in Parliament on Sunday weighed in on the ongoing threat posed by anti-government armed forces in various parts of the country, despite security officials' costly attempts to neutralize them. Clashes with insurgents are reportedly taking place in 15 different provinces.

While the multi-front Zulfiqar operation has come to an end after 60 days, security institutions have said that operations are still ongoing in Sangeen district of Helmand province and in other areas such as Musa Qala of Helmand, Wardooj and Jurm of Badakhshan, Nawa of Ghazni, Shindand of Herat and Baghlan province.

Obaidullah Barekzai, the Chairman of the Lower House's Commission for Reviewing Complaints, was the most outspoken about his doubts regarding the effectiveness of the national security forces. According to him, every day tens of Afghan citizens are killed because of violence between the military, police and insurgents.

"Before starting an operation, the area must be studied by the investigation teams, and the security forces must close the escape routes to anti-government armed forces," Barekzai said on Sunday. "But whenever the government has an operation, they announce it a week in advance on the radio and TV, as they have with operations such as Shaheen, Zulf-e-qar or Uqab, which is a serious problem itself," he added.

As Barekzai sees it, the Afghan military makes it too easy for anti-government armed groups to slip away from forces and transverse provincial borders around the country. "In many areas where the government has defeated the enemy, the forces then leave the area, which shows a lack of government commitment for eliminating anti-government armed groups," he said.

Meanwhile, spokespeople at the Ministry of Defense (MoD) and Ministry of Interior (MoI) maintained that they have made progress and inflicted major damage on militant groups this fighting season. In addition to heavy losses, officials said anti-government groups have also had caches of weapons and ammo confiscated in recent days.

"Today we have 16 planned operations in 15 provinces, and these operations have been moving forward successfully," Ministry of Defense deputy spokesman Dawlat Waziri said. "Wherever we have seen a threat, the Ministry of Defense has prepared plans and eliminated enemies; for example, a major part of Kunduz city has been cleared now, and other provinces where we have had operations," he added.

Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediqi Sediqqi voiced a similar response. "Wherever the anti-government armed forces run, they will be chased down by the security forces," he told TOLOnews. "Every province that they go to, obviously we have security forces there, and one day, all the anti-government armed forces will be eliminated or arrested by the ANSF."

According reports by MoD officials, most insurgent casualties in recent few days have been Pakistani, Arabs, Uzbeks, Chechens and Uyghurs.

Security institutions have said that with the appointment of a new Minister of Defense, Chief of Army Staff and Deputy Minister of Defense, operations will be more precise and effective.

Sun, 24 May 2015 15:42:34 GMT
Security Leaders Called to Answer for MoU With Pakistan

The Lower House of Parliament on Sunday summoned the Director of National Security and National Security Advisor to answer questions about the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Pakistan.

While National Security Advisor Hanif Atmar was unable to attend the session because he was abroad, NDS Rahmatullah Nabeel was in attendance. Nabeel requested the session be held behind closed doors, away from the eyes of the media.

The MoU signed between the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) last week has caused controversy among commentators, many of who see it as a mistake to put trust in Pakistan when it comes dealing with counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency in the region.

According to a number of MPs who spoke with media after the session, the gist of the NDS Director's comments was that the draft of the MoU has been extensively over the past 12 hours. The MPs reported the Nabeel said he had pushed for the most favorable conditions possible within the MoU.

On the other hand, the Deputy Chairman of the Internal Security Commission said he expected the House to vote down the MoU tomorrow. A number of MPs spoke strongly about their reservations and suspicions about the agreement.

For the most part, very little information regarding the origin and nature of the new cooperative agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan. "It must be cleared that who were the main people behind this MoU, the president or National Security Council advisor?" Ghazni MP Ali Akbar Qasemi asked.

In fact, on account of the secrecy surrounding the substance of the MoU, MPs on Sunday spoke mainly about their frustrations surrounding the process the agreement has gone through. "Mr. Nabeel said that one of the betrayals of this agreement was that after its signing, many items were added, but due to the decision of the commission, the names of the people who added parts cannot be revealed," Kandahar MP Shekiba Hashemi said.

Based on the comments made by lawmakers, it seems as if the National Security Council has had a central role in forging the MoU.

In the Senate, there was also strong opposition to the agreement. "Most of the members of the Senate want this MoU to be cancelled," Senate Chair Fazel Hady Muslimyar said.

Sun, 24 May 2015 15:37:03 GMT
‎Ministry To Consider Next Move If India Cancels Mining Deal

If the Indian consortium cancels its investment on the Hajigak mine, the Ministry of Mines and Petroleum has said that a decision will be made regarding their bank guarantee.

Officials at the Ministry of Mines have said that although there are rumors of the consortium canceling the contract the Indian group has not officially cancelled the agreement yet.

Meanwhile, economic analysts have said that the cancellation is due to lack of work from the Ministry of Mines.

After news of the proposed cancellation of the $10 billion USD investment the Ministry of Mines said that the issue has not yet been finalized. The ministry adds that once the issue has been formally addressed, decisions will be made based on the agreement.

"It is still early for us to say what we will do in reaction, because as I said, the consortium has not informed us formally yet," says Abdul Qudoos Hamidi, Deputy Minister of Mines and Petroleum.

Meanwhile, a number of members of Network for Overseeing Natural Resources speak of lack of capacity in the Ministry of Mines for managing the project. This lack of resources has resulted in projects facing major problems, one after another.

"There must be a guarantee by this consortium with government, because at the time, there were a number of other companies who were interested. Now we have lost those as well, and this issue must be seriously taken into consideration," says Ibrahim Jafari, member of Network for Overseeing Natural Resources.

The deal involving Hajigak mine was contracted with an Indian consortium and a Canadian company four years ago, but so far the work on the mine has not started. The Indian consortium has requested $7 million aid from the Indian government, which apparently was not given by the Indian government due to political reasons. Since the Aynak copper mine, this is the second largest project that has faced problems.

Sun, 24 May 2015 15:36:59 GMT
NUG Leaders Resolve Issues On Electoral Reform Commission: Officials

The Office of the Chief Executive has said that President Ashraf Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah have agreed on issues relating to the electoral reform commission and an announcement by Ghani to this effect is imminent.

However, the Presidential Palace is yet to comment on the matter.

This comes after recent comments by the international community that unless government committed to electoral reforms urgently, aid for this process would be scrapped. However at the recent International Contact Group on Afghanistan meeting in Kabul, government committed to this request.

"Both teams (the National Unity Government leaders) need to unify their views regarding elections and both teams must have a united view over reforms. Both teams must focus on the issues that need reform, otherwise no reforms will be brought about," says Naeem Asghari, Director of Programs at the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan.

Some of the other election observing institutions have said that if the reform process does not start soon, peoples' trust in the government will decrease. These institutions add that the failure by the NUG to bring about reforms is jeopardizing both technical and financial aid from the international community.

"The more we wait every day for the commission to start its work to bring reforms, the more damage will be done to the legitimacy and performance of government," says Naeem Ayoubzada, Director of Transparent Election Foundation of Afghanistan.

But the office of the CEO has said that disagreements between the president and the CEO over the special commission for bringing about reforms to the electoral system has ended. Officials at the CEO's office have said that they are waiting for the presidential palace to issue a decree for the commission to start its work, though the president's office has not yet confirmed this.

"All the issues of disagreement have been resolved between president and CEO. Both leaders have agreed on the special commission for bringing reforms to elections, we are waiting for the presidential decree, after issuance of which the commission will start its work," says Jawed Faisal, deputy spokesman for the CEO.

Sun, 24 May 2015 13:03:42 GMT
U-16 Futsal Premier League Kicks Off in Kabul

The U-16 futsal premier league kicked off in Kabul on Sunday with eight participating teams.

The tournament, which will run for a month, aims to select the top contestants who will be trained to eventually go on to be selected for the national team.

In the first day of the competition Roz-e-Omid team beat Omid-e-Etehad 5 goals to 4.

"We want to improve the futsal in the villages to find the talented faces," said futsal coach Abdul Razaq Seyamak. He also said key to advancing the sport was the building of the halls which has resulted in better teams with more fans.

The players believe the holding of such tournaments will go a long way to improve their skills and also provide opportunities for them to gain experience against other teams.

At the end of the tournament, the two teams at the bottom of the log will drop down to the second division.

Meanwhile, the U-18 premier league also kicked-off on Sunday - in the Kabul Football Federation hall.

Sun, 24 May 2015 12:21:23 GMT
Daesh Recruiting in Afghanistan: Campbell

In a meeting on Sunday with Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, US Gen. John Campbell, Resolute Support Mission commander, said that Daesh was actively recruiting in the country, but was not yet operational in Afghanistan.

Associated Press quoted Campbell as saying: "It is absolutely a concern." He said the group was using a sophisticated social media campaign to attract Taliban fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan who were disgruntled at the lack of progress they were making in overthrowing the Kabul government.

He said Daesh's presence in Afghanistan has grown considerably in the past six months.

"We don't want it to continue to grow, so the more we find out about it ... they can tamp this down before it gets to a level that you can see in Syria and Iraq. And again I think the fundamental difference here - Afghans have told me that this will not happen - there is a different ideology of war you see in Syria and Iraq. In fact Taliban and Daesh, there are reports of them fighting each other," he said.

At the meeting he also said that most of the Taliban insurgents have become disillusioned with Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader.

"There is many Taliban that have become disenfranchised with Mullah Omar, where they are going, they see this is as an opportunity to maybe gain more resources and so they've pledged allegiance to Daesh," he said.

His comments come after Taliban insurgents drastically increased the number of attacks across the country – particularly after launching their annual spring offensive in April. The big difference however is that it is the first fighting season that the Afghan security forces are going it alone after the pullback of US troops at the end of last year.

Campbell's comments come after a growing number of MPs in recent weeks warned of a developing threat by Daesh in the country.

"The presence of Daesh is a very big concern. Right now Daesh is in most parts of the country like Badakhshan and holding training especially in placing of roadside mines," Senator Gulalai Akbari said.

Daoud Kalakani, MP said meanwhile that "the Daesh threat is concerning and government should have a serious plan (to deal with them even though) government has said that there is no Daesh in Afghanistan, but now Daesh have activities in here".

Sun, 24 May 2015 11:42:09 GMT
Govt To Review Controversial NDS-ISI MoU

Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) on Sunday said the recent memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan's intelligence service (ISI) is not practical and that it will come under review by a panel of experts who will report directly to the president.

This comes after a major public outcry erupted last week following the signing of the accord.

In a statement issued by the NDS, the agency said that in order to make the accord practical and to legitimize it a five-step process has been implemented. This process includes the following steps:

• Determine the framework, scope and authority of the agreement by Afghanistan's President Ashraf Ghani.

• Refine the draft text agreement by experts from various government agencies – including the NDS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chief Executive Office and the Office of the National Security Council. This team will report directly to the president.

• Discussions will be held on the draft agreement at a meeting of the National Security Council.

• A consultative meeting will be held to create a national consensus with political leaders, jihadi leaders and MPs

• Deposing of the agreement text to Pakistan

In the statement, the NDS said it is committed to putting the best interests of the country first in terms of considering such moves with foreign agencies.

According to sources, there is reportedly a six month deadline attached to this MoU in terms of bringing changes.

Sunday's statement comes after the controversial MoU was signed about 10 days ago between the NDS and ISI committing them to "intelligence sharing and complimentary and coordinated intelligence operations."

After news broke of the move, a widespread public outcry ensued – with MPs, civil society activists, political parties and jihadi leaders all slamming the move.

Even CEO Abdullah Abdullah called for amendments to be made to the MoU. His deputy Mohammad Khan said in the week that the CEO had been aware of the agreement in general but that additional clauses had been added without his knowledge.

"According to my information his Excellency Abdullah was consulted only on the draft agreement, but he remained completely unaware of some articles which were included in the agreement later on," Khan said.

On Saturday India also came out against the move and Indian National security Advisor Ajit Doval told a press conference that the recent move was based on faulty assumptions.

"What Pakistan wanted was to get an assurance and put pressure on Afghanistan, so that they will not allow their territory to be used for any security related work by India," Doval said.

"That is the crux of it. This is based on a faulty assumption that India probably uses Afghan soil or Afghan nationals for its security purposes."

India's reservations about the agreement are shared by many Afghans, who continue to distrust the ISI, which has long provided covert support for the Taliban.

Meanwhile, members of the security commission in the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) on Sunday summoned the NDS chief Rahmatullah Nabil to appear before them and answer questions. The meeting was held behind closed doors.

Related Stories

India's National Security Advisor Criticizes NDS-ISI Agreement
Political Leaders, MPs Meet With Ghani to Discuss Revisions to NDS-ISI MoU
Abdullah Demands MoU Amendment

Sun, 24 May 2015 08:47:04 GMT
38 Taliban Insurgents Killed in Military Operations

At least 38 Taliban insurgents were killed and six others injured in Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) operations in the past 24 hours, the Ministry of Interior said in a statement on Sunday.

Three other insurgents were arrested during the operations.

The operations were conducted in Baghlan, Kunduz, Badakhshan, Sar-e-Pul, Kandahar, Zabul, Uruzgan, Logar and Helmand provinces, according to the statement.

"During the same 24 hour period, Afghan National Police discovered and defused 11 different types of IEDs placed by enemies of Afghanistan for destructive activities in Logar and Badghis provinces," the statement said.

However, the Ministry of Interior did not provided details about casualties of ANSF members during the operations.

Sun, 24 May 2015 07:58:35 GMT
KANKASH: Afghan Currency Losing its Value Against US Dollar

The Afghan currency has been losing its value against the US dollar in the past a week and now one US dollar is about 60AFS.

To watch the whole program, click here:


The issue has raised the concerns of residents as the price of goods could increase sharply.

In this episode of Kankash, host Fawad Aman discuss the topic with the following guests:

• Khan Afzal Headawal, the acting governor of Da Afghanistan Bank
• Munawar Shah Bahaderi, MP
• Khan Jan Alokozai, Deputy Chairman of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI)

Sun, 24 May 2015 05:33:02 GMT
Four Civilians Killed in Ghazni Roadside Mine Blast

At least four civilians were killed in a roadside mine blast in central Ghazni province on Saturday, local officials said.

The incident took place in Abu Jan village of Gailan district while the civilians were traveling to Moqur district of the province and their vehicle was struck by a roadside mine, a spokesman for Acting Provincial Governor, Shafiq Nang said.

"A man, his wife and two of his sons were killed in the blast," he said.

No group including the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the incident.

Sun, 24 May 2015 05:26:36 GMT