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German Chancellor Merkel Says Latest Afghan Developments ‘Awful’

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The geo-political map getting redrawn.

Merkel says latest Afghan developments ‘awful’ – Press Telegram

By The Associated Press

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called the latest developments in Afghanistan “bitter, dramatic and awful.”

Merkel told reporters on Monday night that the “breathtaking speed” with which the Taliban have taken over is especially bitter for the “millions of Afghans who supported a more liberal society and who counted on the support of the Western countries when it comes to democracy, education, women’s rights and who also had achieved important progress.”

Merkel said the development was also bitter “for Germany and the other allied nations who fought against terrorism under the lead of the United States and NATO in Afghanistan for 20 years after the terror attacks of September 11.”

The chancellor added that especially in these difficult hours one should never forget the people who gave their lives in this conflict — including 59 Germans who died in Afghanistan and many more who were injured.

She said a thorough analysis was needed of what went wrong and lessons had to be drawn for future military engagement. Merkel also vowed to support neighboring countries such as Pakistan when it comes to helping refugees fleeing the crisis in Afghanistan.



— Taliban take over Afghanistan: What we know and what’s next

— Chaos as thousands flee Afghanistan after Taliban takeover

— Concerns over US terror threats rising as Taliban hold grows

— Biden team surprised by rapid Taliban gains in Afghanistan




LONDON — The office of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday he has spoken to French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the situation in Afghanistan.

Johnson said he planned to host a virtual meeting of the Group of Seven leaders on Afghanistan in the next few days, Downing Street said.

“He stressed the need for the international community to come together and take a unified approach on Afghanistan, both in terms of recognizing any future government and in working to prevent a humanitarian and refugee crisis,” his office said in a statement.

Johnson and Macron agreed that Britain and France should work together at the United Nations Security Council, including a possible joint resolution. They also agreed on the importance of cooperation in helping their citizens and others get to safety.


UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council is calling for an immediate halt to hostilities in Afghanistan and establishment of a new government “that is united, inclusive and representative” and that also includes women.

The council said in its first statement since the Taliban takeover that “institutional continuity and adherence to Afghanistan’s international obligations, as well as the safety and security of all Afghan and international citizens, must be ensured.”

Council members “called for an immediate end to the violence in Afghanistan” and the “restoration of security, civil and constitutional order,” as well as urgent talks to resolve the current crisis of authority and find a resolution “through an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process.”

The council — without singling out the Taliban — also called for all parties to adhere to international human rights norms and standards and “put an end to all abuses and violations.” It also called for immediate access for U.N. and other humanitarian personnel to provide aid to millions in need, “including across conflict lines.”

The statement, drafted by Estonia and Norway, was approved by all 15 council members at an emergency meeting on Afghanistan.


WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s prime minister says the country is sending planes to Afghanistan to evacuate translators and other people who have helped Poland over the years.

“Our priority now is to ensure the safety of all those who are associated with Poland in Afghanistan,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said, adding that “some these activities must, for obvious reasons, remain secret.”

He said that more planes than necessary will be sent and that Poland will be in a position to help other allies evacuate people as well.

He said Poland would do its best to “everyone who has helped Poland over the years, whether as a translator or in any other form of assistance” as humanely as possible.


CAIRO — Japan’s top diplomat has urged all parties in Afghanistan to work on restoring security and order in the country after the Taliban seized power there.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi spoke on Monday at a joint news conference in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shukry.

Motegi also called for all concerned parties in Afghanistan to ensure the protection of lives and property in the country. He said he has agreed to cooperate with Egypt, as an influential power in the Islamic world, to ensure that the latest developments in Afghanistan don’t cause further unrest.


KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.N. resident coordinator in Afghanistan says they will continue to work with the “de facto authorities” to provide humanitarian assistance after the Taliban takeover.

Ramiz Alakbarov told The Associated Press on Monday that the recent fighting had displaced some 600,000 people, and that because of the fluidity of the situation, humanitarian teams are not able to help everywhere.

Alakbarov, who is in Kabul, says he thought the international community should have invested more in health, education, and the future of women and young people, not necessarily so much in security infrastructure, if it had wanted to avoid “the results that we have now”.

He noted that the U.N.’s humanitarian appeal for Afghanistan, 1.3 billion dollars for 2021, is funded only to 38%.


UNITED NATIONS — The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations is calling for a halt to attacks on Afghan civilians, protection of the human rights of all people in the country especially women, girls and minorities, and for all parties to prevent terrorism.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield told an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council on Monday that “we must all ensure Afghanistan cannot ever, ever again be a base for terrorism.”

She reemphasized that “civilian populations, including journalists and non-combatants, must be protected.”

Thomas-Greenfield made no mention of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan but said the role of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the two U.N. envoys — special representative Deborah Lyons and personal envoy Jean Arnault — “is especially vital now as we enter an uncertain and crucial period that requires the international community to speak with a clear and unified voice.”

She called on the Taliban “to permit humanitarian organizations to continue their vital work in Afghanistan,” stressing that in addition to violence the Afghan people “are suffering acutely from the effects of COVID-19 and drought” and their needs must remain a top priority in the “days, weeks and beyond.”

The U.N. World Food Program is reporting that more than 500 tons of aid are currently sitting at border crossings taken by the Taliban, the U.S. ambassadorsaid, urging that this aid be allowed into Afghanistan immediately.

“Finally and critically, all Afghan nationals and international citizens who wish to depart must be allowed to do so safely,” Thomas-Greenfield said, adding that the U,S, promises “to be generous in resettling Afghans” and “we need to all do more.”


LJUBLJANA, Slovenia — Slovenia’s right-wing Prime Minister Janez Jansa has described the deadly chaos in Afghanistan and the handover of modern weapons to the Taliban as the “greatest defeat for NATO in history.”

Jansa tweeted on Monday that leaving Afghan allies to the Taliban “terror” has been a “shameful act.” All this is a “symbol of the end of an era,” said Jansa, who is known as a backer of former U.S. President Donald Trump.

The Biden administration and much of the international community have been stunned at the Taliban blitz and the speed with which the insurgents seized power, two weeks before the U.S. is set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war.


CHICAGO — United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic rerouted flights to avoid passing over Afghanistan amid the Taliban takeover. A United flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Delhi jogged east on Monday to avoid Afghan airspace.

“Due to the dynamic nature of the situation we have begun routing affected flights around Afghanistan airspace,” a United spokeswoman said, adding that the change affects only flights to and from India.

A spokeswoman for U.K.-based Virgin Atlantic said that “following the latest situation reports in Afghanistan, we will be re-routing our upcoming services to avoid Afghanistan’s airspace.”

The airline’s last plane to pass over Afghanistan was Sunday from London to Lahore, Pakistan. The airline’s flights to Pakistan and India typically pass over Afghanistan, but are being rerouted. The airline also avoid flying over Iran.

Neither carrier said how long the changes would last, but said they were in contact with aviation regulators to monitor the situation.

Also on Monday, a Turkish Airlines jetliner landed in Kabul and departed more than five hours later and landed in Istanbul, according to tracking service Flightradar24.


UNITED NATIONS — Afghanistan’s U.N. ambassador says “there is no time for the blame game anymore.” He is urging the Security Council and secretary-general to use every means at their disposal to call for an immediate halt to violence and respect for human rights and to “prevent Afghanistan descending into a civil war and becoming a pariah state.”

Ghulam Isaczai told an emergency meeting of the U.N.’s most powerful body on Monday that he was “speaking on behalf of millions of people in Afghanistan, whose fate hangs in the balance and are faced with an extremely uncertain future,” including “millions of Afghan girls and women who are about to lose their freedom to go to school, to work and to participate in the political, economic and social life of the country.”

Isaczai, who was appointed by Ashraf Ghani’s government that was ousted by the Taliban on Sunday, expressed extreme concern that the Islamic militant group will not honor commitments and agreements it made during talks in Qatar’s capital Doha and other international meetings.

“We have seen gruesome images of Taliban’s mass executions of military personnel and target killing of civilians in Kandahar and other big cities,” he said. “Kabul residents are reporting the Taliban have already started house-to-house searches in some neighborhoods, registering names and looking for people in their target list. There are already reports of target killings and looting in the city. Kabul residents are living in absolute fear right now.”

He urged the Security Council and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to call on the Taliban to stop the violence, targeted killings and revenge attacks and respect their own previous general amnesty offer, and to “unequivocally state that it does not recognize the restoration of the Islamic Emirate.”

Isaczai said the U.N. should also urge the Taliban not to demolish works of art as they did in the 1990s and stress that anyone violating the human rights of Afghans and international humanitarian law “will be held accountable.”

The ambassador also called for the urgent establishment of “a humanitarian corridor for the evacuation of those at risk of Taliban’s retributions and attacks” and for neighboring countries to open their borders to people trying to escape and for humanitarian goods entering the country.


GENEVA — Some two-dozen human rights experts working with the United Nations say countries must not “stand on the sidelines” now that the Taliban — a U.N.-listed terror organization — have seized control of Afghanistan.

A sharply worded statement on Monday demanded action from the U.N. Security Council. The experts denounced the Taliban’s “relentless campaign” against civilians, aid workers and journalists that have included assassinations, illegal restrictions on the rights of women and girls, and “mass executions of civilians.”

“It is unacceptable for states to stand on the sidelines when a United Nations Security Council listed terrorist organization overruns the territory of Afghanistan and engages in acts that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the experts said in a joint statement that drew an unusually large number of signatures.

They cited unspecified reports from 16 provinces in Afghanistan that have shown women and girls have faced rights violations including the requirement to wear full-body burqas, forced marriage, ban on employment and limits to freedom of movement and health care. The experts alluded to similar restrictions when the Taliban last held power before being toppled by a U.S.-led coalition two decades ago.

The experts called on the Security Council – which was holding a special session on Afghanistan on Monday — to be “unequivocal in action.”

“The people of Afghanistan deserve better than to endure the silence and by-standing of the member states of the United Nations at this perilous moment,” they wrote. “We cannot stand idly by as the lives of the Afghan people are treated with contempt, derision, and weariness.”

The experts also demanded accountability for what they said were the deaths of 1,000 civilians who were killed “last month alone.”


WASHINGTON — The U.S. military is sending another battalion of about 1,000 troops to help safeguard the Kabul airport as American forces killed two armed individuals there during a chaotic evacuation.

That’s according to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who briefed reporters on Monday.

The development is a sign of the ongoing turmoil and violence as thousands of Afghans rushed onto the tarmac of Kabul’s international airport following a swifter-than-expected Taliban takeover of the country.

The speed at which the Taliban seized power, two weeks before the U.S. is set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war, has stunned the Biden administration and many in Afghanistan and the international community.


BERLIN — Germany’s foreign minister has acknowledged that the German government — and also the international community — has misjudged the situation in Afghanistan and the speed with which the Taliban would take over the country.

Heiko Maas said on Monday that, “all of us, the government, the intelligence services, the international community, all of us misjudged the situation. Neither we nor our partners and experts did foresee the speed which with the Afghan security forces withdrew and capitulated.”

The foreign minister added that the images from Kabul “are very painful” and that the government is doing everything to evacuate as many people as possible.

Maas said that of the 2,500 embassy staffer who had been identified previously for evacuation, 1,900 had already been brought to Germany. In addition to the 600 still remaining on the ground, Maas added that Germany feels responsible to evacuate another 2,000 people — including human rights activist and their families.

He said one of the biggest problems right now was to get the people from their homes or safe houses to the airport to fly them out.


BUDAPEST, Hungary — A Hungarian official on Monday criticized the pullout of American-led forces from Afghanistan and said Hungary will not take in refugees fleeing the country after its takeover by the Taliban.

Levente Magyar, a state secretary with Hungary’s foreign ministry, told state news agency MTI that the government would not make Hungarians pay for the “flawed geopolitical decision” of the U.S. military withdrawal by accepting refugees “without any kind of restrictions.”

Hungary’s right-wing government is a staunch opponent of immigration, and in 2015 built a fence along its southern border in response to an influx of refugees from the Middle East and Africa.

That fence would be used to deter a potential wave of refugees from Afghanistan, Magyar said, adding that the government is assessing how it can help those Afghans who have worked as interpreters or in other capacities for Hungarian troops.

On Sunday, more than 60 countries issued a joint statement calling for all Afghans wishing to depart Afghanistan to be allowed to do so. Of the 27 member states of the European Union, only Hungary and Bulgaria did not sign the statement.


GENEVA — The head of the U.N. refugee agency says its recent interaction with the Taliban — Afghanistan’s new rulers — has been “relatively positive” and that humanitarian aid teams will stay in the country to help people in need after the Kabul government was toppled.

Filippo Grandi, the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees, said UNHCR discussions with the Taliban “may at times be difficult.”

In an interview at UNHCR headquarters in Geneva, Grandi said the agency would continue to press for respect of the rights of women and girls, who had faced strict rules and bans on school education, for example, when the Taliban previously ran the country — before a U.S.-led international coalition drove them from power in 2001.

Grandi noted that most of the displacement in recent weeks has been within Afghanistan, but appealed to other countries to keep their borders open and take in any refugees who could flee in the future. He said a half-million people have been internally displaced this year, the “vast majority” of which in the last few weeks alone.

He said that while UNHCR and partners have been previously in contact with Taliban leaders in rural areas before its forces swept into cities in recent weeks. Most of the recent interaction has been on issues like security and safety of the sites of UNHCR and partners


UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations chief is calling for an immediate end to violence in Afghanistan and urging the international community to unite to ensure that the human rights of all people, especially women and girls, are respected.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to the U.N. Security Council at an emergency meeting on Monday “and the international community as a whole to stand together, work together and act together.”

He said he is “particularly concerned by accounts of mounting human rights violations against the women and girls of Afghanistan who fear a return to the darkest days” in the 1990s when the Taliban ruled and barred girls for getting an education and imposed draconian measures on women.

Guterres said “the world is following events in Afghanistan with a heavy heart and deep disquiet about what lies ahead” and with the country’s future and the hopes and dreams of a generation of young Afghans in the balance, the coming days “will be pivotal.”

At this “grave hour,” the secretary-general urged all parties, especially the Taliban, “to exercise utmost restraint to protect lives and to ensure that humanitarian needs can be met.”

Guterres said the U.N continues to have staff and offices in areas now under Taliban control, and which so far have been respected. “Above all, we will stay and deliver in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need.”

“We cannot and must not abandon the people of Afghanistan,” he said.


MOSCOW — The Russian embassy in Kabul alleged Monday that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has fled from Kabul with four cars and a helicopter full of cash, Russia’s state news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The report quoted embassy spokesman Nikita Ishchenko as saying that “the collapse of the regime … is most eloquently characterized by how Ghani escaped from Afghanistan: four cars were filled with money, they tried to shove another part of the money into a helicopter, but not everything fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac.”

Ghani left Kabul on Sunday as the Taliban swept into the Afghan capital. Media reports suggested that the president went to the neighboring Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, but there was no official confirmation of his whereabouts.

Kremlin envoy on Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov on Monday described Ghani’s flight from Kabul as “disgraceful,” adding that Ghani “deserves to be brought to justice and held accountable by the Afghan people.”


KABUL, Afghanistan — The Taliban entered Afghanistan’s most popular TOLO-TV compound in the capital on Monday, looking for government-issued weapons,” said the station’s owner Saad Mohsini.

“They sent a bunch of people just to look at the security to check the weapons . . . They are collecting government-issued weapons and other assets, they let us keep our own weapons,” he said.

“They were polite.” Mohsini said, adding that the insurgents offered to keep a watch outside and even offered to provide security inside the compound. Mohsini said the station declined.

There was no mention of the many women who work for TOLO TV.

The TV staff were told to continue with their transmissions. “No mention of the women reporters, Mohsini said. “They just said keep your transmissions, normal programming going. ”


MOSCOW — A plane carrying more than 100 Afghan servicemen landed in Tajikistan on Monday, the Tajik Foreign Ministry said.

Officials told Russia’s state news agency Tass that Tajikistan received an SOS signal and allowed a plane bound from Afghanistan to land in an airport in the Khatlon province, which borders with Afghanistan and Uzbekistan’s Surkhandarya region, where an Afghan warplane was shot down on Sunday.

More than 100 Afghan military disembarked from the plane, the Foreign Ministry said. It wasn’t immediately clear why the plane sent an SOS signal.

The announcement by the ministry came as thousands packed into the Kabul airport on Monday, rushing the tarmac and pushing onto planes in desperate attempts to flee the country after the Taliban overthrew the Western-backed government the day before.


BERLIN — The head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right party has refused to make any kind of commitment regarding the possible intake of Afghan refugees following the takeover of the country by the militant Taliban.

Armin Laschet, who is also running to succeed Merkel in national elections next month, said Monday that, “I don’t think we should send out the signal that Germany can accept all those who are currently in trouble.”

German news agency dpa reported that Laschet added the focus of support for Afghans must be on “giving humanitarian aid locally on the ground in time — different from 2015.”

In 2015, Germany took in more than 1 million migrants fleeing war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq. The influx of migrants helped strengthen the anti-migrant, far-right party AfD.


BRUSSELS — NATO envoys are set to meet Tuesday to discuss security developments in Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of the strife-torn country over the weekend.

The 30-nation military organization said Monday that NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who will chair Tuesday morning’s meeting of ambassadors, will hold a news conference after it, at 1300 GMT.

NATO took charge of international security operations in Afghanistan in 2003 – its first major mission outside Europe and North America – aiming to help stabilize the government, build up local security forces and remove a potential rear-base for terrorist groups.

The U.S.-led military alliance wound down combat operations in 2014 to focus on training Afghan security forces but the Afghan armed forces withered before the insurgent offensive.

The Taliban were emboldened by the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops and wind up the NATO training mission in Afghanistan. The mission numbered about 10,000 personnel a year ago. An official said Sunday that “there are no troops under NATO command in Afghanistan currently.” NATO also has a small diplomatic mission in Afghanistan. An official said Sunday that the military organization continues to “maintain our diplomatic presence in Kabul.”


ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s political and military leadership on Monday called for a political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan, a day after the Taliban swept into Kabul after the government collapsed there.

The appeals comes shortly after Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan, government officials and army chiefs met to review the latest situation in Afghanistan.

At the meeting of National Security Committee, Khan directed that all possible facilities be made available to repatriate Pakistanis, diplomats, journalists and staff of international organizations seeking to leave Afghanistan, according to a government statement.

It said Pakistan would continue to work with the international community and all Afghan stakeholders to facilitate an inclusive political settlement in the country.

The National Security Committee noted positively that major violence had been averted in Afghanistan, the statement said.


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