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13.3.2019    New officials assume charge in Defense Ministry and Afghan Air Force

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) on Tuesday announced that new officials have assumed charge in key positions of the Ministry of Defense and Afghan Air Force. According to a statement released by Ministry of Defense, the commander of Special Operations Corps Gen. Bismillah Waziri has been appointed as new Chief of Staff of the Afghan Army. The statement further added that Dr. Yasin Zia has been appointed Deputy Minister of Defense based on the new appointments. The Ministry of Defense also added that Gen. Fahim Ramin has been appointed as the Commander of Afghan Air Force. The defense ministry has not disclosed further information regarding the new appointments. The Ministry of Defense on Monday announced that Gen. Haibatullah Alizai has been appointed as new Chief of Operation of the ministry. According to a statement released by Ministry of Defense, Gen. Alizai will focus on three key areas as Chief of Operations. The statement further added that Gen. Alizai will focus on minimizing casualties of Afghan National Army, building solid coordination especially in Battalion and Company levels, and turning tide on the enemy by going full offensive.

13.3.2019    Kabul analysts grow upbeat with latest Doha talks

Kabul-based political analysts on Wednesday dubbed the recent peace talks between the Taliban and the US as ‘positive’ and hoped ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue would be agreed in the next round. A fifth round of negotiations between the US and Taliban representatives was concluded after 16 days of discussions in Doha, the capital of Qatar, on Tuesday. US special representative for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad on Tuesday said that both sides agreed over a draft about US troops’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and counterterrorism assurances. The envoy wrote on his social account that “peace requires agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire.” The Taliban also released a statement about the fifth round negotiations with US representatives. The Taliban statement said “In this round of negotiations, two issues which were agreed upon in January were discussed in detail, these issues include withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and preventing anyone from using Afghanistan soil against any country.” The Taliban also said progress was made about the nature and time of foreign troops’ withdrawal in the talks. The Afghan government hailed advances made in the peace talks and hoped future meetings would pave the way for a permanent ceasefire and direct talks between the government and the Taliban. Mohammad Hassan Haqyar, a political analyst, termed the latest US-Taliban talks as ‘productive’ and said the two sides had agreed upon two key issues—foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan and no use of Afghanistan soil against any foreign country. He said withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan was an important issue because the Taliban had always criticized the presence of foreigners and they conditioned intra-Afghan talks to withdrawal of foreign troops. “We hope the sixth and seventh rounds of talks would lead to a ceasefire and negotiations with the government and Afghan politicians,” he said. Faiz Mohammad Zaland, a lecturer at Kabul University, also termed the recent US-Taliban talks in Doha as positive and said: “For the first time, the two sides, who fought for 18 years, sat around a table and talked for 16 days.” He said besides the withdrawal of foreign forces and assurance of not allowing Afghanistan soil to be used against any country, there was also agreements on continuing of such meetings in future. Zaland asked the Afghan government not to spoil the peace process and work honestly for peace achievement. He also hoped the next US-Taliban meeting would be more productive. Khalil Ahmad Shenkar, another Kabul University lecturer, also said that the recent US-Taliban talks were unprecedented. He called peace a major need of Afghans and hoped the next meeting between the two sides would pave the way for ceasefire and intra-Afghan dialogue.

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