Taliban agrees with Russia on gas supplies to Afghanistan

The Taliban managed to negotiate with Russia on the supply of food and fuel. The exact terms of the deal are unknown, in August the Afghan government did not rule out that they would pay with raisins and medicinal herbs .png 673w” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >

The Taliban holding power in Afghanistan (recognized as terrorist and banned in Russia) entered into a trade agreement with Russia. This was reported to Reuters by the Acting Minister of Trade and Industry of Afghanistan, Haji Nooruddin Azizi. According to him, the Taliban government is now working to diversify its foreign trade relations.

As part of the deal, Russia will annually supply the country with about 1 million tons of gasoline, 1 million tons of diesel fuel, 500 thousand tons of liquefied hydrocarbon gases ( LPG) and 2 million tons of wheat, he said. Azizi did not name the exact price of the contracts, but said that Russia offered the Taliban a discount compared to the average world prices for raw materials.

The agreement will remain in effect for an indefinite trial period. After it, the parties will have to sign an agreement for a longer period if they are satisfied with the results.

RBC sent inquiries to representatives of Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak and the Ministry of Energy.

On June 15, representatives of the Taliban visited the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Among the Taliban negotiators who arrived were the deputy head of the Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mohammad Younis Hossein, and the head of the Afghan diplomatic mission, Jamal Nasir Garwal. One of the goals of the visit was to negotiate the supply of wheat to Afghanistan.

In August, Azizi said that the Afghan authorities intend to negotiate with Moscow on the supply of fuel to the country. The Taliban are ready to pay for Russian oil with minerals, raisins and medicinal herbs Azizi said. If such a scheme does not suit Moscow, then Kabul can also pay with money, he noted.

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‘We are erased’: The fight to reopen girls secondary schools in Afghanistan continues

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>'We are erased': The fight to reopen girls secondary schools in Afghanistan continues

This past week, girls in the province of Paktia in eastern Afghanistan went to the streets to protest. The Taliban had reopened their schools but ordered them shut again. Girls’ education in Afghanistan has become a sensitive topic since the Taliban came to power last year. They have closed down nearly all secondary schools for girls in the country.

The WorldSeptember 16, 2022 · 3:30 PM EDT

Student Fereshteh, 11 years old, poses for a photo in her classroom in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, April 23, 2022. Taliban authorities on Sept. 10, 2022, shut down girls schools above the sixth grade in eastern Afghanistan's Paktia province that had been briefly opened after a recommendation by tribal elders and school principals, according to witnesses and social media posts.

Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

For the past year, Matiullah Wesa has been zigzagging across Afghanistan, trying to give teenage girls an opportunity to learn.

Wesa is the founder and president of a nongovernmental organization called Pen Path. He started it in 2009 with the goal of promoting education in remote areas of Afghanistan.

But since the Taliban took over, his focus has turned even more on girls' education.

“I set up classes online and offline because I didn’t want girls in my country to lose hope,” he said.

Wesa works with a team of teachers who conduct lessons in homes, in basements and in secret.

Since August 2021, when the Taliban came to power, they have ordered most secondary schools in Afghanistan closed. A few remain open in the northern parts of the country, but those are exceptions.

There is no clear consensus within the group about girls' education and officials have given different reasons for not allowing teenage girls between grades six and 12 to attend classes.

Initially, it was about girls' safety. Then, about their dress code. And this week, the acting Minister of Education Noorullah Munir claimed in an interview that Afghans don’t want to send their girls to school and that it goes against their culture.

Wesa said every day, he hears students ask: When can we go back? They listen to the radio and watch TV, he said, in the hopes of hearing some good news.

“It’s been more than one year they haven’t been in school and many are suffering psychologically,” he said.

Earlier this week, after negotiations between local elders, educators and the Taliban, schools in the city of Gardez in eastern Afghanistan reopened.

Teenage girls in their uniforms of white headscarves and long dark shirts headed to class. But the euphoria didn’t last long. The Taliban ordered the schools to close again.

One student told local reporters that she just doesn’t understand why the Taliban are treating teenage girls like that. Another, sobbed as she spoke with reporters.

Shortly after the school closure in Paktia, students protested in the streets.

One student, Somayeh, read a poem she had written about the ban.

“If you imprison us in our homes for a thousand years, we will fight back for a thousand and one years. For our right, for science and for humanity,” it read.

Wesa, the education advocate, said he is leading a campaign to reopen schools.

He added that the education minister’s comments about girls' education not being part of Afghan culture didn’t go over well with many. On his recent travels to different cities in Afghanistan, he has been hearing the opposite from Afghan families.

In conservative Kandahar, he said, the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban, fathers and brothers told him they have no objection to girls’ education.

This week, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, spoke about the rollback of women’s rights in Afghanistan.

“There's no country in the world where women and girls have so rapidly been deprived of their fundamental human rights purely because of gender,” Bennett said.

United Nations’ Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris said that approximately 850,000 girls had so far dropped out of school, placing them at risk of child marriage and sexual economic exploitation.

“Policymakers globally need to consider how to address this ban on education as the world tries to deal with the Taliban in power in Afghanistan,” said Rangina Hamidi, Afghanistan’s former minister of education.

Hamidi wasn’t able to continue her work in Afghanistan after the Taliban came to power. She was left conflicted about whether she should leave the country.

“I am a mother of a girl who is in seventh grade today and I had to choose my own daughter’s future over the millions of daughters that I have left behind in Afghanistan and it’s a weight that I carry very painfully in my heart,” she said.

Hamidi, who is now teaching at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University, is hopeful that she can return someday to her country.

But that hope seems more and more distant as each day passes, and as the world turns its attention away from Afghanistan.

Longtime women’s rights activist Mahboubeh Seraj expressed her frustration this week at a UN conference on human rights.

“We are erased,” she said. “Do you know what that feeling is? To be erased?”

What does the site of the explosion at the Russian embassy in Afghanistan look like. Video

An explosion occurred near the Russian embassy in Afghanistan. As a result, two employees of the diplomatic mission and several dozen civilians were killed. What the place of the explosion looks like and what is known about it – in the RBC video.

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Why has polio emerged in the US, UK and Israel? A polio eradication expert weighs in.

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Why has polio emerged in the US, UK and Israel? A polio eradication expert weighs in.

New cases of polio have emerged in the US and Israel, and the disease has been detected in wastewater in the UK. Oliver Rosenbauer, the spokesperson for polio eradication at the World Health Organization, explains how some of them could be linked to the oral vaccine that's long been used to prevent the disease.

The WorldAugust 24, 2022 · 3:00 PM EDT

A worker walks alongside the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant's array of digester eggs in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Officials revealed last month that polio has shown up in New York sewers, suggesting it is spreading, Aug. 12, 2022.

John Minchillo/AP/File photo

The United States saw its first polio case in nearly a decade this summer. The virus has also infected several children in Israel this year and has been found in London's wastewater. Genetic analysis has linked some of these cases to the oral vaccine long used to prevent polio.

To discuss the situation, The World's host Carol Hills spoke with Oliver Rosenbauer, the spokesperson for polio eradication at the World Health Organization, who joined from Geneva. 

Carol Hills: So, how does the oral polio vaccine actually cause polio?Oliver Rosenbauer: Well, they're not exactly caused by the polio vaccine itself. What is happening is the oral polio vaccine that is being used — and that's been used all over the world billions of times, and through which polio has been almost globally eradicated — it contains a live vaccine virus. It's a weakened vaccine virus, but it's live. So, what happens is that you give this vaccine to a child and that child develops immunity, and then the vaccine virus basically multiplies in that child's gut and is actually excreted in the stool, just like a normal polio virus would. And it can actually spread to other children. In 99% of the cases, that's actually a good thing, because you passively immunize other children that way. The problem is, if you allow this vaccine virus to continue to spread in the community and to continue to circulate, and if that happens, it can become, again, genetically changed from a weakened vaccine virus to a strong vaccine virus, able to cause paralysis. And that's what is known as a vaccine-derived polio virus.What's interesting is this oral vaccine has been around for decades. Why are we seeing these cases pop up now?Well, I think we're not just seeing these cases pop up now. We've been seeing them pop up throughout the use of this particular vaccine. It's just that it's popped up in a place like New York, which hasn't had polio in a long, long time. The risk of these things emerging are very, very low. And the reason why we use this particular vaccine is that it has the ability to interrupt person-to-person spread. There's another vaccine that is used. It's called the inactivated polio vaccine — or the Salk vaccine, if you like — and it's injected. It contains an inactivated polio vaccine and it offers excellent personal protection. But the drawback on that is [that] it offers very limited ability to be able to stop person-to-person spread of the virus, and in an eradication effort, that's what we're really after.So, is there any risk of a widespread outbreak in places like the US and the UK of polio now? I mean, should we be worried?I would say the following: I think both the UK and the US did a fantastic job in identifying a public health risk. You know, there's one case in New York, which is a paralytic case — one person paralyzed by the disease, which is tragic — but for the most part, the virus has been only isolated in sewage systems. So, the local authorities have identified this risk and are, right now, doing all the right things in addressing this public health risk. And the name of the game now is to make sure that you do not allow polio to reestablish a foothold in your community. And to do that, you make sure that your population is fully vaccinated.There's been such a push to get people vaccinated against COVID-19, with messaging about how the vaccine is safe and effective, there's no risk of getting COVID-19 from the vaccine. Do you worry about how this news about polio might impact people's decisions to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or other viruses?We're worried about any person who is not vaccinated against polio, because then that individual is not protected. And certainly the vaccine that's being used in the United States, the inactivated polio vaccine, it's one of the safest, if not the safest vaccine that is out there. It is a killed vaccine virus, so there is absolutely no chance of catching polio from it. There is no chance that you would see these vaccine-derived polio cases arise with inactivated polio vaccines. The only thing that it will do, is to protect you from lifelong paralysis. And, most of us have forgotten what polio actually is. It is a devastating, deadly disease. It is an extremely painful disease. And it is so easily preventable, and so, if it's a matter of getting one injection in the arm, which is completely safe, and then be sure and be assured that you're not going to catch this disease, I think it's worth doing, definitely.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Related: An upcoming vaccine drive in Afghanistan is an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to eradicate polio, UN official says

Why are new polio cases popping up in the US, UK and Israel? A polio eradication expert weighs in.

class=”MuiTypography-root-134 MuiTypography-h1-139″>Why are new polio cases popping up in the US, UK and Israel? A polio eradication expert weighs in.

New cases of polio have emerged in the US, UK and Israel. Oliver Rosenbauer, the spokesperson for polio eradication at the World Health Organization, explains how some of them could be linked to the oral vaccine that's long been used to prevent the disease.

The WorldAugust 24, 2022 · 3:00 PM EDT

A worker walks alongside the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant's array of digester eggs in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. Officials revealed last month that polio has shown up in New York sewers, suggesting it is spreading, Aug. 12, 2022.

John Minchillo/AP/File photo

The United States saw its first polio case in nearly a decade this summer. The virus has also infected several children in Israel this year and has been found in London's wastewater. Genetic analysis has linked some of these cases to the oral vaccine long used to prevent polio.

To discuss the situation, The World's host Carol Hills spoke with Oliver Rosenbauer, the spokesperson for polio eradication at the World Health Organization, who joined from Geneva. 

Carol Hills: So, how does the oral polio vaccine actually cause polio?Oliver Rosenbauer: Well, they're not exactly caused by the polio vaccine itself. What is happening is the oral polio vaccine that is being used — and that's been used all over the world billions of times, and through which polio has been almost globally eradicated — it contains a live vaccine virus. It's a weakened vaccine virus, but it's live. So, what happens is that you give this vaccine to a child and that child develops immunity, and then the vaccine virus basically multiplies in that child's gut and is actually excreted in the stool, just like a normal polio virus would. And it can actually spread to other children. In 99% of the cases, that's actually a good thing, because you passively immunize other children that way. The problem is, if you allow this vaccine virus to continue to spread in the community and to continue to circulate, and if that happens, it can become, again, genetically changed from a weakened vaccine virus to a strong vaccine virus, able to cause paralysis. And that's what is known as a vaccine-derived polio virus.What's interesting is this oral vaccine has been around for decades. Why are we seeing these cases pop up now?Well, I think we're not just seeing these cases pop up now. We've been seeing them pop up throughout the use of this particular vaccine. It's just that it's popped up in a place like New York, which hasn't had polio in a long, long time. The risk of these things emerging are very, very low. And the reason why we use this particular vaccine is that it has the ability to interrupt person-to-person spread. There's another vaccine that is used. It's called the inactivated polio vaccine — or the Salk vaccine, if you like — and it's injected. It contains an inactivated polio vaccine and it offers excellent personal protection. But the drawback on that is [that] it offers very limited ability to be able to stop person-to-person spread of the virus, and in an eradication effort, that's what we're really after.So, is there any risk of a widespread outbreak in places like the US and the UK of polio now? I mean, should we be worried?I would say the following: I think both the UK and the US did a fantastic job in identifying a public health risk. You know, there's one case in New York, which is a paralytic case — one person paralyzed by the disease, which is tragic — but for the most part, the virus has been only isolated in sewage systems. So, the local authorities have identified this risk and are, right now, doing all the right things in addressing this public health risk. And the name of the game now is to make sure that you do not allow polio to reestablish a foothold in your community. And to do that, you make sure that your population is fully vaccinated.There's been such a push to get people vaccinated against COVID-19, with messaging about how the vaccine is safe and effective, there's no risk of getting COVID-19 from the vaccine. Do you worry about how this news about polio might impact people's decisions to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or other viruses?We're worried about any person who is not vaccinated against polio, because then that individual is not protected. And certainly the vaccine that's being used in the United States, the inactivated polio vaccine, it's one of the safest, if not the safest vaccine that is out there. It is a killed vaccine virus, so there is absolutely no chance of catching polio from it. There is no chance that you would see these vaccine-derived polio cases arise with inactivated polio vaccines. The only thing that it will do, is to protect you from lifelong paralysis. And, most of us have forgotten what polio actually is. It is a devastating, deadly disease. It is an extremely painful disease. And it is so easily preventable, and so, if it's a matter of getting one injection in the arm, which is completely safe, and then be sure and be assured that you're not going to catch this disease, I think it's worth doing, definitely.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Related: An upcoming vaccine drive in Afghanistan is an ‘unprecedented opportunity’ to eradicate polio, UN official says

Afghanistan marks 1 year since Taliban seizure as woes mount

class=”MuiTypography-root-229 MuiTypography-h1-234″>Afghanistan marks 1 year since Taliban seizure as woes mountAssociated PressAugust 15, 2022 · 9:30 AM EDT

Taliban fighters celebrate one year since they seized the Afghan capital, Kabul, in front of the US Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 15, 2022.

Ebrahim Noroozi/AP

The Taliban on Monday marked a year since they seized the Afghan capital of Kabul, a rapid takeover that triggered a hasty escape of the nation's Western-backed leaders, sent the economy into a tailspin and fundamentally transformed the country.

Bearded Taliban fighters, some hoisting rifles or the white banners of their movement, staged small victory parades on foot, bicycles and motor cycles in the streets of the capital. One small group marched past the former US Embassy, chanting “Long live Islam” and “Death to America.”

A year after the dramatic day, much has changed in Afghanistan. The former insurgents struggle to govern and remain internationally isolated. The economic downturn has driven millions more Afghans into poverty and even hunger, as the flow of foreign aid slowed to a trickle.

Meanwhile, hard-liners appear to hold sway in the Taliban-led government, which imposed severe restrictions on access to education and jobs for girls and women, despite initial promises to the contrary. A year on, teenage girls are still barred from school and women are required to cover themselves head-to-toe in public, with only the eyes showing.

Some are trying to find ways to keep education from stalling for a generation of young women and underground schools in homes have spring up.

A year ago, thousands of Afghans had rushed to Kabul International Airport to flee the Taliban amid the US military's chaotic withdrawal from Kabul after 20 years of war — America’s longest conflict.

Some flights resumed relatively quickly after those chaotic days. On Monday, a handful of commercial flights were scheduled to land and take off from a runway that last summer saw Afghan men clinging to the wheels of planes taking off, some falling to their death.

Schoolyards stood empty Monday as the Taliban announced a public holiday to mark the day, which they refer to as “The Proud Day of Aug. 15" and the “First Anniversary of the Return to Power.”

“Reliance on God and the support of the people brought this great victory and freedom to the country,” wrote Abdul Wahid Rayan, the head of the Taliban-run Bakhtar News Agency. “Today, Aug. 15, marks the victory of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan against America and its allies occupation of Afghanistan.”

During a gathering to mark the anniversary, the Taliban deputy prime minister, Abdul Salam Hanafi, offered congratulations to “the entire nation on the day of the conquest of Kabul, which was the beginning of the complete end of the occupation.”

In remarks broadcast live by state radio and TV, he boasted of what he described as “great achievements" under the Taliban, such as an alleged end of corruption, improved security and banned poppy cultivation.

On the eve of the anniversary, former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani defended what he said was a split-second decision to flee, saying he wanted to avoid the humiliation of surrender to the insurgents. He told CNN that on the morning of Aug. 15, 2021, with the Taliban at the gates of Kabul, he was the last one at the presidential palace after his guards had disappeared.

Tomas Niklasson, the European Union's special envoy to Afghanistan, said the bloc of nations remains committed to the Afghan people and to "stability, prosperity and sustainable peace in Afghanistan and the region.”

“This will require an inclusive political process with full, equal and meaningful participation of all Afghan men and women and respect for human rights,” Niklasson wrote.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said an international responsibility toward Afghanistan remains after the NATO withdrawal.

“A regime that tramples on human rights cannot under any circumstances be recognized,” she said in a statement. “But we must not forget the people in Afghanistan, even a year after the Taliban takeover.”

By Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Ebrahim Noroozi

Kabulov announced a threefold increase in the number of IS fighters in Afghanistan

The number of fighters of the banned terrorist organization has risen to 6,000 under the rule of the Taliban, said Zamir Kabulov, special envoy of the Russian president for Afghanistan. The authorities also failed to reduce poppy cultivation

After coming to power in Afghanistan in August last year, the Taliban the number of the ISIS terrorist group has increased (both groups are terrorist and banned in Russia), Zamir Kabulov, director of the second department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, special representative of the Russian president for Afghanistan, said at a press conference in Moscow (broadcast was conducted on the website of the Rossiya Segodnya MIA).

According to him, “the estimated number reached 6 thousand people, although after the Taliban came to power their number was about 2 thousand,” but before the arrival of the Taliban, the number of ISIS was “more than 10 thousand.” “Even offhand a threefold increase. This is the most negative side of the development of the Afghan situation,»,— said Kabulov.

According to the diplomat, although opposition to the Taliban government continues in Afghanistan, now “there is no force that can create a counterbalance to the current government.” The Taliban, continued Kabulov, continue to learn how to run the country, they “hardly, but understand” the need to create a genuine ethno-political inclusive government, but for now they continue to think in terms of winners and believe that they deserve to govern the country on their own. One of the main challenges for the new authorities of the country, the diplomat pointed out, is the economy. With humanitarian aid entering the country in small batches and international aid funds frozen, the Taliban are cannot cope with the cultivation of opium poppy. Although the Taliban promised to make the country drug-free. “A good goal is shattered by the everyday life. Around the cultivation of opium poppy, 5-6 million people feed, and to deprive them of this production by force, without giving anything in return, this will put the country on the verge of serious internal strife, — Kabulov said. Stop exports to the Taliban unlikely to succeed, he pointed out, since drug trafficking is organized by experienced international groups.

Once again, the situation in Afghanistan was discussed at the international conference “Afghanistan: security and economic development” that ended on July 26 in Uzbekistan. Chaired the conference. Foreign Minister of Uzbekistan Vladimir Norov. It was attended by special representatives of the EU, Great Britain, Iran, Italy, Spain, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, China, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, the USA, Japan, Turkey, representatives of the UN and other international organizations, as well as a delegation led by and about. Foreign Minister of the interim government of the Taliban movement Emirkhan Muttaki. Russia was represented by Zamir Kabulov. According to him, representatives of Western countries tried to divert the discussion towards the “human rights dimension and other hypocritical idle talk”, but regional countries sharpened the need to urgently resolve issues such as the unconditional unfreezing of national assets worth $7 billion.

If at previous conferences of this kind there was a discussion of the intra-Afghan peace process, then at Tashkent, the need for the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan came to the fore, Arkady Dubnov, an expert on Central Asian countries who participated in the conference, told RBC. According to him, the conference revealed the different attitudes of the world powers: “Even if we exclude the Ukrainian background, the atmosphere was very tense. It was not immediately noticeable, but there were no flags of countries in the congress hall, there was no final communique, which would indicate a general consensus, instead a statement was issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan. Nevertheless, the meeting was attended by US Special Representative Tom West, representatives of China, countries — neighbors of Afghanistan, and in the course of discussions there has been a movement on the issue of unfreezing Afghan assets. In the context of confrontation between the West and Russia, it is the Tashkent platform that can become the leading one in ensuring a dialogue on Afghanistan, and Washington, Beijing, Moscow, and the countries of the region, including Pakistan and Iran, have confidence in Tashkent, Dubnov emphasizes. Uzbekistan intends to continue work and contacts with the Taliban government, this fits into the implementation of the so-called “Mirziyoyev Doctrine”, aimed at building good neighborly relations with neighboring countries, the expert says.

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Источник rbc.ru

Fighting breaks out in Afghanistan between Uzbek Taliban militants and their counterparts

Fighting broke out in Afghanistan between Uzbek Taliban militants and their counterparts in another province. The confrontation unfolded in the administrative center of the province of Takhar – the city of Taluqan. According to preliminary data, Pashtun nationalists came to detain militants who were suspected of having links with the Islamic State (an organization banned in the Russian Federation). However, the Uzbeks did not agree with the accusations and put up armed resistance. Civilians were reportedly killed in the shootout.

At the beginning of the year, similar clashes took place within the Taliban in Faryab province. The Uzbek part of the group also turned out to be one of the parties to the conflict.

It was also reported that in Afghanistan, unknown people staged a series of terrorist attacks against Taliban militants. Explosions thundered in the provinces of Badakhshan, Kunar and Kunduz. The terrorists set off roadside IEDs as Taliban vehicles passed by. According to preliminary data, at least ten Pashtun nationalists were liquidated during the explosions, and several more were injured. In the capital of the province of Balkh – the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, two people were killed during the shelling of the car of airport employees, six more were injured. No one has yet taken responsibility for the attacks. IS militants are believed to be behind the attacks.

A day earlier, a jihadist explosion of a roadside IED killed six people working in a Taliban prison.

Источник www.mk.ru

Joe Biden misspoke in interview, confusing Afghanistan with Iraq and Ukraine

Photo: pixabay.com

US President Joe Biden in an interview with NBC called Afghanistan first Ukraine and then Iraq. The American leader confused the countries when answering a question about the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, after a 20-year military campaign.

“We did not have any opportunity to unite Ukraine. That is, excuse me, Iraq. Afghanistan! I emphasize that it was impossible to achieve such results,” Biden said.

Let us recall that after the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the administration of the current President of America was severely criticized. In particular, they were accused of numerous casualties that occurred during last year's withdrawal of military contingent and civilian personnel from Afghanistan.

Earlier, the former doctor of the US presidents, Ronnie Jackson, along with his colleagues in the Republican Party, called on the head of America, Joseph Biden to follow the example of his predecessor and take the Montreal Cognitive Test.

Источник www.mk.ru

“Bridgehead for new invasions”: the secret of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan is named

Expert: Americans left a “clockwork mine” on Afghan soil

About six months have passed since the fall of Kabul under the onslaught of militants and the evacuation of the last American units from Afghan soil. But what is behind the US withdrawal from Afghanistan? And did they really just leave? President of the Russian section of the International Police Association, Lieutenant General, Doctor of Law, Professor, Honored Lawyer of Russia Yuri Zhdanov spoke about the possible interests of the CIA in Afghanistan.

Photo: AP.

“More like a time bomb. I must say right away that in fact the Americans were not going to leave anywhere. The fact that they were kicked out of Afghanistan is just a technical error for them. And they are already trying to fix it. Of course, not by force – a new military invasion is not yet in sight. And why? There are other benefits of being present, albeit indirect ones. It is known that according to the plans of the CIA and the State Department, Central Asia should become an intelligence base.

– Yes, the Americans themselves are trumpeting about it! Like, oh, how they successfully, on time and profitably left this wild country! True, they do not explain why they went into it for two decades. What did they do there and what did they do specifically? Killing and destruction don't count. But this is outside the brackets. And without brackets – there is an interesting report by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) “Working with Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban (the Taliban movement is recognized in the Russian Federation as a banned terrorist organization – MK”). Support for the Afghan people without legitimizing the regime.” It was published in January. It contains an attempt to form a generalized position of American decision-making centers about US plans for Afghanistan. By Lisa Curtis, Senior Fellow and Director of the Indo-Pacific Security Program at CNAS, formerly of the CIA, State Department, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, etc.

– A concentrated analysis of the situation in a number of Central Asian countries and possible conclusions. This should help make some decisions that the US needs.

More specifically, it says, for example, about preventing a humanitarian catastrophe after the collapse of the Afghan economy. After all, the Americans, as stated, intend to cooperate with the Afghan people, but not with the Taliban (banned in the Russian Federation). Like, they will somehow help.

In mid-November 2021, a UN official reported that 23 million Afghans were in desperate need of food and that 97 percent of the 38 million population was at risk of falling into poverty. The economic shock from the loss of international aid that supported 75 percent of the Afghan budget – along with several years of drought and other economic problems – threatens a complete economic collapse that will leave millions of people starving, especially in winter. The International Monetary Fund has warned that the country's economy will shrink by about 30 percent in 2022.

As of mid-January 2022, the United States has provided $782 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and Afghan refugees, more than any other country.

– Yes, the Taliban (“Taliban” is a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) sent a letter to the US Congress asking the United States to release the declared $ 7 billion in Afghan foreign exchange reserves, which were frozen after the Taliban seized power, otherwise they risk facing a mass exodus of refugees from the country. In the letter, the Taliban government's foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaki, says the holding of assets has disrupted trade and business, as well as the delivery of humanitarian aid to the population.

– Most likely. Jesuitically, the report said that the country was facing an economic crisis before the assets were frozen, and that Washington had made it clear that non-humanitarian aid would be cut off if the Taliban seized power by force rather than through peace talks. And so it happened.

By the way, the recent meeting in Moscow of several regional states did not lead to the adoption of any serious commitments to provide assistance. The countries issued a communiqué calling for an international donors conference under the auspices of the UN, so that “the military forces that have been in the country for the past 20 years” – that is, the United States, take on most of the financial burden.

– They are very concerned. Initial signs that the Taliban could improve their record of women's rights have not materialized. Ten days after coming to power, the Taliban ordered women to stay at home until ordinary members of the organization were instructed on how to properly treat women. Young women who organized and participated in local protests against Taliban rule were abducted and killed in Mazar-i-Sharif.

The US report notes that the Taliban backtracked on initial promises to respect women's rights in order to maintain cohesion among their fighters. Otherwise, the rank-and-file members of the militant structures would doubt the leadership of their leaders and would ask what they have been fighting for for 20 years. The Taliban also failed to deliver on their initial promises of amnesty for former government officials. At the end of August 2021, the BBC reported that they had executed two high-ranking police officers. According to the report, more than 100 people have been killed since August 15, two-thirds of them by the Taliban and their supporters.

The document also contains information about extrajudicial executions of at least 50 people suspected of belonging to terrorist group “Islamic State” banned in Russia.

– Yes, and the so-called Haqqani network, which is closely connected both with Al-Qaeda (a terrorist organization banned in the Russian Federation) and with the Pakistani military and intelligence services, plays a particularly significant role. Najibullah Haqqani is Minister of Communications and Abdul Baqi Haqqani is Minister of Higher Education, which is a bad sign for future educational opportunities for women and girls. Khalil ur-Rahman Haqqani, who was originally appointed to lead security operations in Kabul shortly after the Taliban came to power, is now the refugee minister. This is particularly worrisome given fears that foreign terrorist fighters will now flock to Afghanistan as their fellow radicals are in power there. Another character, Sirajuddin Haqqani, the leader of an organization designated as terrorist by the United States, has been appointed Minister of the Interior. The FBI has released a Rewards for Justice program that is offering $5 million for information leading to the arrest of Sirajuddin Haqqani due to his role in terrorist attacks against American citizens.

In general, twenty out of thirty-three high-ranking officials are on the UN sanctions list. Among them is the head of the current interim government, Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, who was foreign minister and then deputy prime minister when the Taliban were in power in the late 1990s. After the organization was ousted from power in 2001, Akhund led the Taliban's military operations in Afghanistan from his hideout in Pakistan. The list goes on.

– Hardly, although such proposals are heard, including from Pakistan.

While the Taliban's efforts to eliminate the ISIS-Khorasan threat are welcome, the Taliban's continued ties to al-Qaeda and dozens of other terrorist groups mean that the Taliban's consolidation of power in Afghanistan over will continue to help revive the terrorist haven, even if ISIS-X is no longer part of the terrorist alliance.

President Biden is right that al-Qaeda has metastasized over the past decade. However, the current situation in Afghanistan gives the terrorist group a unique advantage: Afghanistan is now ruled by an Islamist group with which al-Qaeda has been associated for 30 years. The two groups also became closely related through intermarriage. No other country in the world offers al-Qaeda such a luxury.

“In the past, the US has relied on Pakistan for air and ground access to Afghanistan and for drone attacks. Pakistan allowed this activity, although Washington and Islamabad had fundamentally different goals in Afghanistan. However, while an air access agreement with Pakistan would be necessary, Washington should not fall into the familiar trap of viewing the country as a partner in counterterrorism or a shared US goal in Afghanistan.

Pakistan narrowly assesses its strategic interests in Afghanistan, viewing them mainly through the prism of India. The main goal of Islamabad is to prevent India from gaining a foothold in the country as a strategic foothold. The best example of the irreconcilable goals of Islamabad and Washington in Afghanistan is Pakistan's support for the Haqqani network and the desire to see members of the Haqqani clan in leadership positions in the Taliban government. Islamabad trusts the Haqqanis to support their goal of preventing India from gaining influence in Afghanistan.

– Russia, Iran and China share US concerns about ISIS-X, but each of these countries’ broader geopolitical differences with the United States will likely prevent serious counterterrorism cooperation with Washington.

In November In 2021, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom West took part in a meeting in Islamabad of the so-called “Troika Plus”, which includes the United States, Pakistan, Russia and China. These meetings may be useful in resolving the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, but they are unlikely to bring about positive changes in the Taliban's behavior towards human rights and the fight against terrorism.

The US report argues that there is room for increased US counterterrorism cooperation with Central Asian countries, especially Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, so that Washington can reduce dependence on Pakistan. While Russia and China will object to the United States establishing large military bases in their “backyard”, it is possible that Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will agree to increased intelligence sharing or the deployment of small groups of US special operations forces on their territory.

Let me remind you that both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have contributed to the delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and are ready to play a more important role in this area.

While China has gloated over the withdrawal and hasty evacuation of the United States from the country, Beijing is concerned that Afghanistan is once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists around the world, as well as the possibility of Islamist extremism spreading to China's Muslim-populated western provinces. Beijing has historically been concerned about anti-Chinese Islamist militants, primarily ethnic Uyghurs who have trained alongside the Taliban and have taken refuge in both Afghanistan and the tribal areas bordering Pakistan in the past.

China has a long-term interest in making Afghanistan a key hub for its One Belt, One Road economic project and in developing and exploiting Afghanistan's rich mineral resources. However, a Chinese consortium's $3 billion investment in Afghanistan's Mes Ainak copper mine has been dormant for more than a decade, and China will avoid future investment until the security situation stabilizes.

In September 2021, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid called China Afghanistan's most important partner given its willingness to invest in and rebuild the country. So far, however, China has been reluctant to assume financial obligations to the Taliban government, which is not recognized by the rest of the world.

– Almost the same. India's biggest concern is that a Taliban victory will inspire anti-India militants, now mostly based in Pakistan. These groups are responsible for attacks on Indian soil in recent years that have increased tensions with Pakistan and led to military crises between the two nuclear powers.

The most recent military crisis between India and Pakistan occurred after the February 14, 2019 terrorist attack by an Islamist militant that killed 40 Indian soldiers in Indian-controlled Kashmir. India has also experienced major terrorist attacks on its embassy and consulates in Afghanistan by the Haqqani network.

India held a meeting of regional national security advisers in New Delhi in early November 2021. Pakistan and China, who do not welcome a more prominent Indian role in Afghanistan, missed the meeting.

– According to the author of the report, in order to cope with the threat of terrorism, the United States should invest in improving the technology of unmanned aerial vehicles for foreign CTOs.

The US military should be ready for the foreseeable future to conduct drone operations from bases in the Middle East , because Pakistan and the Central Asian states bordering Afghanistan fear that the US will carry out deadly operations from their territory.

It is recommended to expand cooperation on CTO with the states of Central Asia, especially with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.

There are opportunities, the author believes, to expand the exchange of intelligence data, conduct counterintelligence trainings and other joint counterintelligence activities with the states of Central Asia. In the long term, it is possible that the Central Asian states may allow the United States to deploy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets on their territory, or even allow limited CTOs to be carried out by special operations forces from the region.

The reporter regrets that the leadership of the military and intelligence in some Central Asian countries tend to be skeptical of the Taliban due to concerns about the group's continued ties to terrorism.

If the Central Asian states become more open to U.S. counterterrorism activities deployed from their territory, Americans should be prepared to distribute counterterrorism assets across the region that could act in concert to address threats while reducing dependence on a single base option.

The author of the report, an experienced CIA and State Department official, applied an interesting term – “to carry out their deeds action with eyes wide open. And he directly formulated the main goal – to turn Central Asia into a giant US intelligence base. And in aggregate – a springboard for new invasions.

Источник www.mk.ru

Permanent Representative of Russia to the CSTO assessed the risks of weapons abandoned by the US and NATO in Afghanistan

Photo: pixabay.com

The weapons abandoned in Afghanistan by NATO and the United States pose uncontrollable risks. This was stated by the Ambassador-at-Large, Permanent Representative of Russia to the CSTO.

The Russian diplomat clarified that a large number of modern weapons remained in Afghanistan, which were left by the soldiers of the coalition forces who fled the country.

Recall that in August, The Mirror reported that after the American military left Afghanistan, many weapons remained in the country. This allowed the Taliban (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) to become one of the most equipped terrorist armies in the world.

Источник www.mk.ru

UN announced the presence of IS in almost all provinces of Afghanistan

The UN envoy to Afghanistan said that representatives of the IS cell are located in almost all provinces of the country and “are becoming more active.” She noted that the Taliban are not able to resist the strengthening of the group

The Taliban in power in Afghanistan; (a terrorist group banned in Russia) is unable to resist the expansion of the Islamic State terrorist group; (IG, banned in Russia) on the territory of the country. The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, Deborah Lyons, announced this at a meeting of the UN Security Council, reports Reuters.

'Another negative development is the Taliban's failure stop the spread of the Islamic State, & mdash; she said.

According to her, now representatives of IS-Khorasan (an offshoot of the Islamic State operating in Afghan territory) is present in almost all provinces and is becoming increasingly active.

At the same time, Lyons noted that the Taliban in the fight against IS use extrajudicial arrests and killings of those whom the Taliban suspects of links with the Islamic State.

The envoy also said that the deteriorating economic situation in Afghanistan could lead to an increase in the illegal trade in drugs, weapons and people. “ The continued paralysis of the banking sector will push the financial system towards the shadow exchange of money, which will only contribute to terrorism, human trafficking and drug smuggling, '' & mdash; she thinks.

In turn, Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya, said that the arrival of Taliban representatives to power did not bring stability to Afghanistan, and new challenges were added to the old problems. “ The new reality that was established in Afghanistan after August 15 did not bring either the Afghans themselves or the international community closer to stabilizing the country, creating on its territory a peaceful, indivisible and free from drugs and crime state. New challenges, connected primarily with the lack of international recognition, '', & mdash; he said.

The Taliban launched an offensive against Afghan government forces after the United States announced the withdrawal of its military contingent from Afghanistan. On August 15, the Taliban captured the country's capital, Kabul, and announced the end of the war with government forces. On the same day, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. The Taliban called the restoration of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, a general amnesty and the cessation of drug production as the main directions of their policy.

The Russian side previously promised to support the Taliban in their plans to combat terrorism and eradicate drugs. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointed out that the Taliban it won't be easy stop drug trafficking.

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Источник rbc.ru

What is known about the new opponents of the Taliban in Afghanistan

In the province of Laghman in Afghanistan, unknown people announced the fight against members of the terrorist movement Taliban, banned in Russia. What is known about them, as well as the fate of those who previously challenged the Taliban – in the RBC video

Video

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Источник rbc.ru

‘Everything I am would not be the same without being a veteran,’ says soldier who served in Afghanistan

class=”MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>'Everything I am would not be the same without being a veteran,' says soldier who served in Afghanistan

Matt Farwell, who served in Afghanistan War, says he's glad that US troops are no longer there, but that he's horrified at how the withdrawal took place. He discussed his reflections on Veterans Day with The World's host Marco Werman.

The WorldNovember 11, 2021 · 3:30 PM EST

Color guard retires the colors during a Veterans Day commemoration ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, Nov. 11, 2021.

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Many countries today are honoring service members who fought in wars. The day goes back to the end of World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. In Europe, it's known as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day. In the US, it's recognized as Veterans Day.

Related: Callie Crossley: Women in the military are still fighting the battle against invisibility

Notably, this is the first Veterans Day in 20 years with no US troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

A quick look at the numbers there: The US lost 2,325 service members during that war. Afghan soldiers killed in action number about 100,000. That's the human cost. The monetary cost of the US: about $2 trillion spent on the war in Afghanistan, a conflict that ended with the Taliban regaining control of the country this past August.

Related: World War II pilot Elaine Harmon is finally laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery

Matt Farwell, a veteran of Afghanistan who's written extensively on the war, including his book, "American Cipher: Bowe Bergdahl and the US Tragedy in Afghanistan," reflected on his career and the US pullout from the country with The World's host Marco Werman, from Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Marco Werman: We were thinking about you, Matt, as today approached. How are you spending this Veterans Day?Matt Farwell: Right now, I am chilling on the porch, enjoying some sunshine with my dog and looking at the leaves that are starting to change. And then, I think we're going to go to IHOP and get some free pancakes.I can see you on the porch right now. I'm just wondering, though, does Veterans Day make you reflect on your time as a service member? Is it a different day than other days?I grew up the kid of a veteran, as well, and an active duty service member, so it's always been sort of a different day and almost like a church day, where you go and you think and reflect. And for a while after the war, it was a really bad day for me, where you're overthinking you're overreflecting. You get very maudlin. My battalion did the longest conventional tour in the global war on terror. That was our big distinction. Our other one is that we have one of the highest suicide rates in the army. You mentioned the numbers of people that were lost in Afghanistan. That's a huge number. And the number of the people that were lost because of Afghanistan is even bigger.We never spoke about the withdrawal in August and the chaos and the optics of the US leaving the country in tatters. What has this year been like for you and what are you feeling today, knowing that all the US troops have left?On one hand, I felt since my deployment in 2006, 2007, that the war was not what it was being sold to the American public as, and that we probably shouldn't be involved there in the way that we were. So, I am glad that US troops are no longer in Afghanistan. I'm glad we're no longer fighting that war. I'm horrified with the way that it took place. I mean, three of my interpreters that I'm quite close to, they made it out. These three brothers from a battalion in Paktika [Province], where most of the town supported the Americans, and had since the American invasion. And now, they're here, they're in Fort Worth. They're truckers. They're filling a critical need in our economy. They're working their butts off. They make me feel lazy — and I work quite hard. Meanwhile, all they can worry about is their mom and brother that are still stuck in Afghanistan, that, at like three points during the withdrawal, I could have gotten out, but the State Department wouldn't clear it.Were you playing a role in evacuating Afghans?I was trying to help my interpreters get some of their family members out, and I failed at that.It must have been hard. I mean, I know there was a lot of paperwork.It's still hard. I mean, I'm supposed to … the paperwork wound up being the obstacle. I could have gotten them on a helicopter and gotten them out. I was talking directly with the helicopter pilots and the State Department said no.So Matt, I want us to hear a moment from the last time you and I spoke about America's legacy in Afghanistan. Here's what you said. I think this is back earlier this year: "I mean, I think it's the same legacy that the Soviet Union left, the same legacy the British left, the same legacy Alexander the Great left. We got beaten by the people of Afghanistan. It happens. It happens to everybody." How does that comment strike you today, Matt, even more relevant?Yeah, I mean, still true and relevant. It wasn't for lack of money or anything else. We lost there. People lose there. The Afghan people are tough. There's infighting among themselves, and that's part of why we're trying to get my interpreters' families out, so that they can be safe.So, now we're getting news from Afghanistan about an imminent humanitarian disaster with winter coming. I mean, not much news, though, from Afghanistan. How do you feel about America's attention span with regard to the country?Oh, it's terrible. I mean, the only time I've had writing directly solicited from me was in the actual week that Afghanistan was falling. And then, after that, the attention has completely fallen off.The US right now is not directly engaged in any major war, but the military is always on alert, and it seems the world keeps looking at the US and wondering what the US is going to do about global conflicts. Do you think that is still the role of the US?I mean, I think as long as so many people in the United States make so much money off of war, it'll still be the role. And I don't see Lockheed Martin or BAE Systems going away anytime soon.That's a critique we often hear from the far left in this country. Should we be surprised that a veteran is saying that?No, because it's the critique that you first heard from a veteran named Dwight Eisenhower when he was giving his presidential farewell speech. He warned about the dangers of the military industrial complex, and we just finished out a 20-year war that largely existed to serve them.So Matt, Veterans Day, it's about paying respect to and honoring those who have served. What aspects of that service are you most proud of?I am most proud of the people I got to know, the people I served alongside, or that I've gotten to know afterward because of that service. I'm hard on the army. I still love the army of any American institution. It's the one that I'm the most emotionally attached to. It gets my heartstrings going, you know, so there's a whole lot. My life and my character and everything I am would not be the same without being a veteran. So, it's an incredible honor for me to be able to join that unbroken line in my family that goes back generations and people that have stepped up and served in the military. And just because I happen to do it in a bad time during a bad war, I'm still proud that I was able to do that and was able to do that with so many fine people. And I just wish that it didn't screw so many of us up so badly.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Behind the story: Shirin Jaafari’s reporting from Herat, Afghanistan, in the summer of 2021

class=”MuiTypography-root-125 MuiTypography-h1-130″>Behind the story: Shirin Jaafari’s reporting from Herat, Afghanistan, in the summer of 2021

Shirin Jaafari, a reporter at The World since 2015, shares why she was so passionate about returning to Afghanistan and what it took to get her there — and back — safely.

The WorldNovember 11, 2021 · 11:00 AM EST

Reporter Shirin Jaafari looks out over the ancient citadel of Herat, in western Afghanistan, just days before the Taliban takeover.

Courtesy of Shirin Jaafari

It’s 2018, and after months of careful planning, Shirin Jaafari lands in Kabul, Afghanistan, for the first time. She’s there to collect women’s stories and to make connections for future reporting. Shirin covers a range of stories, from up-and-coming Afghan fashion designers, to students at the American University of Afghanistan who are still pursuing their studies even after a terrorist attack, to a star midwife and health adviser who is working to make pregnancy safer for all women in Afghanistan. 

When she returns to the United States, she continues to report on Afghanistan and often checks in with her contacts who send her photos and videos, giving her a window into what’s happening on the ground.

“I saw how their lives were changing, and how Afghanistan was going through a big transformation as every day, the Taliban occupied more territory.” 

Shirin Jaafari

“I saw how their lives were changing, and how Afghanistan was going through a big transformation as every day, the Taliban occupied more territory,” Shirin said.  

This is a mural on the campus of the American University of Afghanistan.

Credit:

Shirin Jaafari/The World

Shirin wants to go back to Afghanistan, and this time, she wants to go beyond Kabul and into the provinces where little international reporting is done. She pitches the idea multiple times to her editor Matthew Bell, and eventually, they decide she will return in November 2020.

They spend countless hours planning her travel, security detail and route in the months leading up to her return. But right when she should be getting ready for takeoff, the trip is canceled because of security concerns. 

Months later, in July 2021, the United States confirms that they have withdrawn from Bagram Airfield and announces that the deadline to withdraw completely has been moved to the end of August. 

“There was a point in early July when Shirin told me, ‘The United States is leaving. This is happening now.’”

Matthew Bell

“There was a point in early July when Shirin told me, ‘The United States is leaving. This is happening now,’” Matthew said. The team realized how quickly things were changing on the ground, and shifted into gear to get Shirin back to Afghanistan. Another painstaking process of preparations begins, and by July 20, she is taxiing on the tarmac at Kabul International Airport. 

Security concerns in the region change by the hour, so it isn’t until Shirin is on the ground that she makes a plan with her security detail about where to go next. She wants to get out of Kabul and into the provinces, perhaps Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif or Herat.

Reporter Shirin Jaafari took a selfie from the edge of Herat in western Afghanistan in August as the Taliban was advancing toward the city. 

Credit:

Shirin Jaafari

The team decides on Herat for a few reasons. From a safety standpoint, there are more flights going in and out of the city daily, making it easier to leave the city if needed. But it’s also the perfect place to gather information on two potential stories of interest: a small militia group that opposes the Taliban is set up in Herat, and people who have already been displaced by the Taliban are arriving in the city every day. 

One day, as Shirin’s team is driving to the outskirts of the city, they spot a woman carrying a load of firewood on the side of the road in the August heat and wind. The car stops, and Shirin jumps out and speaks with her. She learns that the woman’s name is Salimeh, and that she is carrying the firewood many hours back to her house to feed a few families who have fled from fighting north of the city. They drive Salimeh home, and Shirin speaks with the other families who have made the difficult decision to leave their homes behind as the Taliban approaches. 

Salimeh has been hosting displaced families at her mud house in the outskirts of Herat in western Afghanistan since the fighting began in the north of the country two months ago. Her own family has barely anything to eat given that the insecurity has left many jobless and farmers haven't been able to harvest crops. Afghanistan is also facing a drought.

Credit:

Shirin Jaafari/The World 

Putting together stories in hostile environments is time- and resource-intensive. In addition to the usual costs such as airfare and lodging, reporters often also require producers and translators. Security is another concern: Correspondents work with a security detail, sometimes changing vehicles up to three times a day to ensure their safety. 

The newsroom team must balance the value and cost of trips like these with other necessary and urgent reporting from around the world. Your support enables The World to tell stories like Salimeh’s. 

Later, when the team is preparing to leave Herat, the airport shuts down. They decide to make the most of their time and travel to the city center to speak with more sources. Shirin meets Hamid Soltani, the owner of an antique store. He’s already thinking about how he will have to change his business in order to stay open if the Taliban is in power. 

“In a place like Herat, what do people have at stake? It’s a really important voice. People who have something to lose, sitting there with the Taliban at the gates of the city, wondering, ‘What’s my future going to be like?’” 

Matthew Bell

“In a place like Herat, what do people have at stake? It’s a really important voice. People who have something to lose, sitting there with the Taliban at the gates of the city, wondering, ‘What’s my future going to be like?’” Matthew, Shirin’s editor, said on the importance of bringing these stories to the air.  

Soon, the airport reopens and Shirin leaves Herat. When the stories from Herat air at the beginning of August, Shirin is back in Boston. Still, her thoughts are with her contacts, sources and friends in Afghanistan, and with their fears about what would happen if the Taliban were to regain power. “I’m very privileged to be able to get on a plane and get out. So many people who I talked to didn’t have that option, and some are still stuck,” she said.

Shirin ends up with more material than she can use on the radio broadcast — but she is able to highlight additional voices on the website and on other digital platforms. 

“Whose story do you tell, and whose ends up on the cutting room floor? At the end of the day, we just have five minutes. Whose voices are missing from the general reporting we hear?” Shirin said, on which stories to tell. 

Support The World today, and help us bring you human-centered stories that feature the voices that you don’t hear anywhere else. 

Learn more about Shirin’s reporting from Afghanistan. 

 

The spotlight has faded on Afghanistan, but not the urgency for Afghans seeking safety

class=”MuiTypography-root-133 MuiTypography-h1-138″>The spotlight has faded on Afghanistan, but not the urgency for Afghans seeking safety

There are still thousands of Afghans trying to flee Afghanistan, or who are somewhere en route to a new home, and the US has struggled to meet the needs of this group.

The WorldNovember 8, 2021 · 1:30 PM EST

In this image provided by the US Army, Spc. Alejandro Haro, military police, Task Force Ever Vigilant, scans documents as he checks-in Afghan evacuees at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, on Sept. 20, 2021. Evacuees are provided housing, medical, and logistical support during their temporary stay in Kosovo by Task Force Ever Vigilant. Soldiers quickly deployed to Kosovo in August to assist and coordinate with US Embassy Pristina, Kosovo, while Afghans were processed before approval for resettlement in the United States. 

Sgt. Gloria Kamencik/US Army/AP file

When the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan, tens of thousands of US allies and their relatives were left behind after evacuation flights in the country concluded.

Many at risk in Afghanistan have been hoping to reach the US, one of the world's leading countries for refugee resettlement, but numerous roadblocks to acquiring security visas have left Afghans stuck in limbo en route to a new home.

Related: Sen. Tammy Duckworth calls for a 'real, cold-hard facts look' at US' failed 20-year war in Afghanistan

R., who worked for the United States, and then the US-backed Afghan government, is among those left behind. He says working as a US ally made him a target when the Taliban took over.

Related: Suicide bombings kill at least 37 at a mosque in Afghanistan

In the days that followed, he reached out to all of his US contacts, and he and his family returned multiple times to the Kabul airport, but ultimately, were unable to make it through the crowds outside.

R. — whose full name isn’t being used for his safety — is now in hiding.

In September, R. learned he had received final approval to move to the United States, but this long-awaited news has so far been of little use to the former US government employee.

Instead, he’s been shuttling between offices and homes of friends and family for months with his wife and two children, unable to find a way to pick up their visas from an American Consulate.

He’s unable to plan ahead and gets very little sleep at night.

“Mostly during the night, I check outside. I check around. I think, rethink,” said R., who first applied for relocation under the special immigrant visa (SIV) program in 2014.

Related: 'Why don’t you have mercy?': Afghanistan’s Hazara people increasingly face eviction, violence under Taliban rule

R.’s situation is complicated — with no clear path to safety.

When R. and his family first fled their home in August, he thought they could get on a US evacuation flight and leave within a week, so they didn’t pack warm clothes. But they couldn’t get into the airport after multiple attempts. Now, the weather has turned cold and he has had to use some of the family’s limited funds to buy blankets and jackets.

Since the closure of the US Embassy in Kabul and the end of the formal evacuation in August, virtually all paths from Afghanistan to the United States now include some steps that must be completed in third countries.

But US overseas consulates have not shown flexibility to the exceptional circumstances of Afghans, who may be admitted to third countries on transit visas valid for only a couple of days, explained R.’s attorney, Jennifer Patota, of the International Refugee Assistance Project.

Afghans “don't have the time to enter the country, then contact the embassy to ask for the case to be transferred,” Patota explained. They must then wait for an appointment to go pick up the visa, she noted.

In some cases, she said US overseas consulates have refused to accept case transfers even before an individual has reached a third country or to waive other requirements, like medical exams.

“There's kind of a multitude of issues everywhere we turn. … We've been in this kind of a Catch-22 situation where he can't get a visa to enter many of the countries without proof that he has an American visa in some instances, but he can't get the American visa until he can get into the other country.”

Jennifer Patota, lawyer, International Refugee Assistance Project

“There's kind of a multitude of issues everywhere we turn,” she said, referring to R.’s case. “We've been in this kind of a Catch-22 situation where he can't get a visa to enter many of the countries without proof that he has an American visa in some instances, but he can't get the American visa until he can get into the other country.”

In July, Congress authorized waiving medical exams for Afghans eligible for special immigrant visas in order to speed departures.

“It's this lack of communication and coordination among departments and agencies that is causing life-or-death situations for the people that are caught up in it,” Patota said.

A State Department spokesperson wrote in an email to The World:

“We recognize that it is currently extremely difficult for Afghans to obtain a visa to a third country or find a way to enter a third country.”

“Developing […] processing alternatives will take time and will depend on cooperation from third countries, as well as the Taliban,” the spokesperson added.

Others at risk, including some who have managed to enter countries in proximity to Afghanistan have faced delays and barriers.

Leila Nadir of the Afghan American Artists and Writers Association has been trying to help an academic, who had reached Pakistan, to come to the US to take a short-term appointment at her university in Rochester, New York.

“While [my colleague] is sitting in Pakistan, waiting for this interview, his Pakistani visa is running out. And so, in about one to two more weeks, he's going to have to return back to Afghanistan … Even the progress we’ve made gets reversed.”

Leila Nadir, Afghan American Artists and Writers Association

“While he's sitting in Pakistan, waiting for this interview, his Pakistani visa is running out. And so, in about one to two more weeks, he's going to have to return back to Afghanistan,” Nadir said. “Even the progress we’ve made gets reversed.”

So far, only one person in the group she’s helping has reached the US.

Of the tens of thousands that the US did manage to evacuate in August, many have spent weeks living on overseas and domestic military bases.

Related: How ethnic and religious divides in Afghanistan are contributing to violence against minorities

“Afghan families are basically sleeping outside in tents. It's getting cold, you know, on these military bases in the United States, and so, it's important to get people resettled.”

Yael Schacher, senior US advocate, Refugees International

“Like [at] Fort Bliss, at Quantico in Virginia,” said Yael Schacher, senior US advocate at Refugees International. “Afghan families are basically sleeping outside in tents. It's getting cold, you know, on these military bases in the United States, and so, it's important to get people resettled.”

She says the US government is pushing to get these evacuees resettled in communities before Thanksgiving, with help from the private sector. This should make room for more of those overseas to be relocated to the US, she noted.

But many are entering into another sort of limbo, admitted not as refugees, but under a temporary status known as humanitarian parole — which is faster to grant in a crisis situation than refugee status.

In August’s budget bill, Congress gave Afghan parolees some of the same benefits refugees get, including financial support and access to English classes.

However, humanitarian parole lasts just two years, with no path to permanent residency.

In addition, while focusing resources on processing evacuees, the US government has let other applications from at-risk Afghans languish, Schacher said.

A US Immigration ​​and Citizenship Services (USCIS) spokesperson, Victoria Palmer, wrote in an email to The World that the agency, which normally receives fewer than 2,000 requests for humanitarian parole a year, had received nearly 20,000 applications from Afghans since August. They granted 93.

Separately, more than 67,000 evacuated Afghan nationals have entered the country under humanitarian parole.

“USCIS is actively assigning additional staffing resources to assist with the current parole-application workload,” Palmer wrote, and “issued an agency-wide request for volunteers to help process applications […] The agency will have significantly more staff assigned to this workload in the coming weeks.”

Fast-tracking new legislation to protect Afghans 

For those admitted under humanitarian parole, additional steps will be required to remain in the US, particularly for those who have not already begun the SIV process.

“They're going to have to apply for asylum or other forms of immigration relief through our immigration system, which could take a very long time,” said Schacher of Refugees International.

The asylum application is “very labor-intensive,” she noted, requiring extensive documentation, yet many Afghans were told to destroy their documents back in Afghanistan.

Schacher’s organization and other advocates are pushing for legislation known as the Afghan adjustment act that would create a special pathway to permanent residency for this group.

Stewart Verdery, a political consultant who works with clients including the National Immigration Forum, says it’s difficult to get any immigration bill through Congress.

“I'm hopeful, though, that the bipartisan … angst about how the Afghan pullout … unfolded will allow this issue to be separated."

Stewart Verdery, political consultant who works with the National Immigration Forum

“I'm hopeful, though, that the bipartisan … angst about how the Afghan pullout … unfolded will allow this issue to be separated. Because it is time-sensitive; it is a discrete population.” He also notes that a precedent has already been set with past legislation impacting relocated Cubans and South Vietnamese.

Meanwhile, Patota said that her client R.’s situation is not only a result of a chaotic evacuation, but also of years of problems processing the visas of Afghans in need of protection.

“The US, I know, is working behind the scenes to try to figure out how to get people out, but it's not happening fast enough. And it could have happened in a much more orderly and safe fashion if they had just planned for this in coordination with the drawdown,” she said.

Hundreds missing after Afghanistan prison attack; Iran’s underreported coronavirus death toll; 90 minute COVID-19 test in Britain

Hundreds missing after Afghanistan prison attack; Iran's underreported coronavirus death toll; 90 minute COVID-19 test in Britain

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The World staff

An Afghan security person stands guard near a prison after an attack in the city of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 3, 2020.

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Petraeus on Russian bounties in Afghanistan: ‘We were looking for this kind of activity’

Petraeus on Russian bounties in Afghanistan: 'We were looking for this kind of activity'

By
The World staff

Producer
Joyce Hackel

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US troops assess the damage to an armored vehicle of NATO-led military coalition after a suicide attack in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Aug. 2, 2017. 

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The New York Times reported Friday that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked fighters to kill American soldiers and other coalition forces in Afghanistan. The report asserts that US President Donald Trump was made aware of the intelligence finding in late March. 

Top of The World: Trump denies knowledge of Russian bounties in Afghanistan; pandemic death toll reaches half a million; attack in Karachi

Trump denied that he had been made aware of the situation, saying the US intelligence community told him they didn’t brief him on the allegations because US intelligence agents didn’t find the reports credible. Trump also referred to the story as “Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax,” and to The New York Times as “fake news.” 

The World reached out to Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen, who denied the reports. “I refute this report. It is not true,” Shaheen said. “It is only to create confusion and to derail the peace process.” Russia also denied the allegation; the embassy tweeted that The Times had invented “fake stories” to blame Russians.  

David Petraeus, retired US Army general and former CIA chief, says he wasn’t surprised by the reports of Russian bounties for coalition forces.

“We were looking for this kind of activity, frankly, from Russia also, by the way, from Iran and from some other countries in the region, other entities,” Petraeus told The World. “We looked for any support that the Russians might be providing to not just the Taliban, but perhaps some of the other extremist insurgence organizations. But certainly, according to the various news sources that clearly have been briefed on this by folks inside the community, it appears that this certainly took place during 2019.”

Related: Trump escalates attacks on International Criminal Court over Afghanistan investigation

Petraeus spoke with The World’s Marco Werman about the report. 

Marco Werman: So, based on what you’ve read and heard so far, do you believe the reports of the Russian bounties are true?

Gen. David Petraeus: The level of specificity, the confirmation level of various legitimate, respected news organizations all suggests that this did transpire. There’s quite a bit of detail about the cache of money that was captured in a raid and then followed up with information during interrogations of individuals that were detained during those operations. And indeed, it appears, apparently, that there was at least one American soldier for whom this bounty was paid out. Keep in mind that we are many months after an agreement between the US and Taliban representatives back in February. Since then, reportedly, there have been no Taliban attacks on US positions. So, we’re really looking back at something that took place rather than something that has been taking place recently. That doesn’t mean that it is not absolutely outrageous, unacceptable, reprehensible. And clearly, again, if founded, if the degree of confidence is sufficient, clearly we should have conveyed to the Russians how outrageous and unacceptable this is.

Related: Amb Lute on Afghanistan: The US is ‘taking a very hard look at itself’ 

Intelligence officials told the AP that President Trump was briefed on the bounty matter earlier this year. But Trump is now trying to swat those allegations aside, tweeting last night that the intelligence community told him he was not briefed about these allegations because intelligence officials did not find the reports credible. What do you make of that?

Well, it’s a back and forth. Who knows? And, you know, you can parse words and so forth. [It’s] very difficult to know whether this is in the presidential daily briefing or in one of the actual sessions that was held with the National Security Council or with the president.

Typically, Gen. Petraeus, how does this work? If intelligence of this sort is gathered in the field, how does it move up the chain of command? And at what point is it decided that it should reach the president’s ear?

There is a team that’s literally working all the time on what will be in the next presidential daily briefing. They put it together overnight. It is eventually delivered from the CIA headquarters, where it’s still put together, to the office of the director of national intelligence. The assessments are all locked down because this is from the entire community. And you could have signals intelligence, you could have other forms of intelligence, in addition to what it is that the CIA has gathered in the field.

Related: What can the US learn from the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan? 

If this is true and the Russians were offering bounties for the lives of US troops, how will Washington respond to this?

One would hope that perhaps there already had been a response, but if not, then clearly there are various options that can be employed. Everything from a diplomatic outreach to them about how unacceptable this is, how reprehensible. And then on up the ladder, whether it’s clandestine operations, covert action, and not just in Afghanistan, although certainly if this were discovered there, there should be some pretty substantial targeting against those who were engaged in it. But, of course, there are Russian forces operating in southeastern Ukraine. There are forces in Syria, there are proxies in various other places around the world where, if necessary, something further could be pursued.

Related: After a deadly Syrian battle, evidence of Russian losses was obscured

If there was already a response, what would it have been?

Very difficult to speculate. One would think that there would be a denial, but perhaps also some kind of tacit, “Well, this never would have taken place, but, of course, had it taken place, that would be unacceptable. We understand that and it won’t happen again.” There is some speculation that this is a bit of a payback for what you may recall taking place a few years ago in northeastern Syria, where some Russian proxies, essentially the Wagner group — this is a security contract group with some Syrian forces — crossed in a very menacing formation with some very substantial weapons and so forth, armored vehicles, crossed into what was accepted as the Syrian Democratic Forces zone where the US was supporting them. And there were warnings given. When those forces did not turn around, the US hammered them with precision air attacks and so forth. Again, it’s possible that this is some kind of payback for that, except that, again, that was a violation of what was understood to be respective spheres within Syria.

Related: Is the US ready for the rising tide of mercenaries?  

General, what should US troops on the ground make of all this? What is the message it’s sending to the boots on the ground?

Clearly there’s always a desire and a need to know that those above you, if you will, have your back. And that will be among the factors, I’m sure, as this is evaluated further and as additional actions are taken.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

Trump denies knowledge of Russian bounties in Afghanistan; pandemic death toll reaches half a million; attack in Karachi

Trump denies knowledge of Russian bounties in Afghanistan; pandemic death toll reaches half a million; attack in Karachi

By
The World staff

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks to US troops during an unannounced visit to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, Nov. 28, 2019.

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Tom Brenner/Reuters

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Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Several US service members are believed to have been killed as a result of bounties offered by a Russian military intelligence unit to Taliban-linked militants in Afghanistan, The Washington Post reports. Last week, The New York Times broke the story that US intelligence officials had concluded Russia was secretly offering bounties to kill US and NATO coalition forces in the country, possibly to destabilize ongoing peace talks or as revenge for the death of Russian mercenaries in Syria in 2018, though motivations remain unclear. 

The Taliban rejected the allegations, and Russia denounced the report, essentially calling it fake news. US President Donald Trump echoed the Kremlin’s line, accusing The New York Times of a possible “fabricated Russia Hoax.” According to The Times, special forces and intelligence officers alerted superiors as early as January of the suspected Russian plot, and Trump had been briefed on this intelligence in late March, but the White House failed to take decisive action. The president denied that he was alerted to Russia’s efforts to pay bounties, adding that intelligence officials had not found the report credible and therefore had not briefed him. Trump then claimed on Twitter, “Nobody’s been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration,” and proceeded with an ad hominem attack on his presumptive presidential challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Congressional lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have demanded answers; select members are set to be briefed on Monday. Tune into The World today, as we plan to speak to Gen. David Patreus, former CIA chief, about the implications of this report. 

What The World is following

The global death toll for the novel coronavirus has surpassed half a million, with more than 10 million people testing positive for COVID-19. More than one-fifth of those cases are in the United States, where vast inconsistencies in local, state and federal responses have failed to curtail the outbreak. The pandemic, writes the Washington Post, is also accelerating the “corrosion” of the “golden age of globalization.”  

Several security officers and attackers were killed during a firefight at Pakistan’s stock exchange in Karachi Monday. The Baluchistan Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for the attack. In recent years, the separatist group has targeted Chinese interests in the region, which is a center of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

In France, The Greens party made gains in nationwide local elections marked by low turnout. President Emmanuel Macron followed up the vote, in which his party had a poor showing, by outlining his environmental agenda. Meanwhile, after traveling to the US for a photo-op with President Donald Trump last week, Poland’s President Andrezj Duda failed to get the “Trump bump” needed to secure a first-round win in elections on Sunday; a run-off election will be held in two weeks against liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski.  

From The WorldThis Latina teen says the pandemic will mark her generation — and shape her vote

Marlene Herrera, 18, is a first-time voter in San Diego County. 

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Adriana Heldiz/The World

The mental health impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic will be felt for years — especially by young adults. Marlene Herrera, a first-time voter in San Diego, said it’s shaping how she’ll vote this fall. And when the Black Lives Matter protests began, she finally decided which candidate she’ll support.

As Lebanon’s financial crisis worsens, migrant workers are being dumped on the streets like ‘trash’

Former domestic workers from Ethiopia wait outside the Ethiopian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.  

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Rebecca Collard/The World 

In recent weeks, as Lebanon’s economic crisis worsens, about 100 Ethiopian women have been dumped at the Ethiopian Embassy by their Lebanese employers. Human rights advocates say the migrants have little to no recourse, and that the situation is bound to deteriorate further as more people in the country cannot afford to pay domestic workers. The coronavirus restrictions also complicate matters.

Morning focus

Canceled flights are no match for Juan Manuel Ballestero, who crossed the Atlantic in a small sailboat.

The idea of spending what he thought could be “the end of the world” away from his family, especially his father who was soon to turn 90, was unbearable. So, in a small sailboat, he set on an 85-day odyssey across the Atlantic. https://t.co/gxa7zaX10Q

— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 29, 2020In case you missed itListen: Developing ‘instant’ tests for the coronavirus

A medical worker collects a sample from a woman at a center to conduct tests for the coronavirus, amidst its spread in New Delhi, India, June 25, 2020.

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Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters

A number of so-called “instant” tests for the coronavirus are being developed that could offer results within minutes. That could expand testing dramatically and help hospitals in the most vulnerable of places. And, last week’s Supreme Court ruling blocking the Trump administration from immediately ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was a relief for hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their families in the US. But living with DACA status has forced some immigrants to make agonizing decisions. Also, an American mom has sparked a transatlantic battle of sorts — over tea.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

EU travel recommendations may impede Americans and Russians

EU travel recommendations may impede Americans and Russians

Tourists are seen at a cafe in St. Mark’s Square a day before Italy and neighboring EU countries open up borders for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak, in Venice, Italy, June 14, 2020.

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Manuel Silvestri/Reuters/File Photo

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The European Union is planning to reopen borders for visitors outside of the bloc starting in July, but officials say reviews are underway for the status of the coroanvirus in countries and a document laying out criteria that could keep Americans, Russians and Brazilians out.

The 27-nation bloc is eager to restart tourism, which has taken a massive hit during the coronavirus pandemic, but fears of second spikes have so far only allowed for partial and patchy reopening of borders with multiple health and security curbs.

Draft recommendations from the EU’s current presidency Croatia, seen by Reuters, suggest allowing non-EU nationals in from countries with stable or decreasing infections, and those with a “comparable or better epidemiological situation” than Europe.

That epidemiological criteria is defined as between 16-20 new cases of infection reported over 14 days per 100,000 people.

Nations would also be assessed for their records on testing, contact-tracing and treatment, reliability of data, and reciprocal travel arrangements for EU residents, according to the document, to be debated by envoys in Brussels on Wednesday.

Based on the latest update by the bloc’s European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), the proposed methodology could rule out travelers from the United States and Mexico, most of South America, South Africa, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan, among others.

The United States, where President Donald Trump banned European visitors at the start of the crisis, has by far the highest number of deaths and cases in the world. [nL4N2AY3AS]

EU diplomats stressed, however, that the travel criteria could still change and that the recommendations will be non-binding.

“It seems there is a lot of wishful thinking in these recommendations. They are also causing much controversy. July 1 may slip and many countries may go their own way in any case,” a diplomat said of the proposal by the European Commission.

The proposal, aimed at promoting a coordinated approach, would cover Europe’s Schengen zone of normally-invisible borders that brings together most EU states as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

A major achievement of post-World War Two European integration, it has suffered a major setback in recent months as countries brought back border controls to contain the virus.

By Gabriela Baczynska/Reuters

Trump escalates attacks on International Criminal Court over Afghanistan investigation

Trump escalates attacks on International Criminal Court over Afghanistan investigation

By
Rupa Shenoy

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about a Trump administration executive order on the International Criminal Court as Defense Secretary Mark Esper listens during a joint news conference at the State Department in Washington, June 11, 2020.

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When war crimes happen, and victims can’t get justice in their own country, there’s one place they can go: the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But now, that same court is being challenged by the Trump administration.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order placing visa restrictions and economic sanctions on members of the ICC and their families.

Related: What South Africa can teach the US about racial justice and reconciliation

He said he took that action because of the ICC’s investigation into alleged atrocities by US military members in Afghanistan. In March, judges at the ICC gave prosecutors the go-ahead to look into possible torture and other war crimes.

“As US investigations by the military, by the Congress make clear, United States citizens did commit serious violations of international law.”

Katherine Gallagher represents two individuals who remain detained at Guantanamo Bay without charge

“As US investigations by the military, by the Congress make clear, United States citizens did commit serious violations of international law,” said Katherine Gallagher, who represents two individuals who remain detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp without charge. “But we’ve seen for the past two decades no investigations and no prosecutions of senior US officials.”

Therefore, Gallagher said it’s appropriate for the ICC to be investigating US military members. But the Trump administration has long opposed the investigation, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the president has now taken steps that will hopefully stop it. The administration is also concerned about the possibility of the ICC investigating Israel’s actions in Palestinian territories.

“We cannot and we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” Pompeo said, “and indeed, I have a message to many close allies around the world: Your people could be next.”

Related: Trump proposes harsh asylum rules disqualifying many applicants

Pompeo said the president is holding the ICC accountable for exceeding its mandate, engaging in a politically motivated investigation, and challenging US sovereignty. Attorney General Bill Barr took it a step further, announcing an investigation by the Department of Justice into the ICC.

“The US government has reason to doubt the honesty of the ICC,” Barr said, adding that the DOJ has “substantial credible information” of a long history of corruption and malfeasance at the ICC.

“Worse yet, we are concerned that foreign powers like Russia are also manipulating the ICC in pursuit of their own agenda.”

But that concern was rejected by Stephen Rapp, who was US ambassador-at-large for war crimes during the Obama administration.

“I mean, this is just absolutely preposterous,” Rapp said. “These are allegations with no proof whatsoever.”

Rapp said that the Obama administration held off an ICC investigation into Afghanistan war crimes by showing the court that they were looking into it themselves. But now, by openly opposing the ICC, he said the Trump administration is undermining the global community’s ability to bring war criminals to justice.

“We’re wounding ourselves, frankly, and making ourselves less of a leader when it comes to upholding human rights in the world.” 

Stephen Rapp, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes during the Obama administration

“We’re wounding ourselves, frankly, and making ourselves less of a leader when it comes to upholding human rights in the world,” he said.

Related: Shocked Afghans ask why perpetrators targeted a maternity hospital and a funeral 

Trump administration officials point out the United States isn’t a member of the ICC, but the country has worked regularly with the international court to bring war criminals to justice. And the court has the mandate to prosecute crimes committed in any of the 123 countries that are a part of the ICC, including Afghanistan.

“It boils down to the fundamental of — you can’t escape accountability when you go elsewhere and commit crimes,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “We need to cut through the veneer of what’s really driving what this is, which is a fundamental position of the US government that it should not be held accountable, and its closest ally, Israel, shouldn’t be held accountable.”

The new US sanctions on ICC personnel probably won’t stop the court’s investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan, said Nancy Combs, a human rights lawyer at the College of William and Mary Law School.

“Once the United States comes out with guns blaring this way and tries to intimidate the court in the way that it has, one might expect a counterproductive response; the ICC prides itself on its independence. And so now, if it were to not bring prosecutions against the United States, it might look as though it’s been intimidated,” she said.

Related: Iranian border guards allegedly drowned 45 Afghan migrants. Their families want answers.

The International Criminal Court has released a statement that says it stands by its staff and its commitment to justice. O-Gon Kwon, president of the ICC’s oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, said he’s convening a meeting next week for the group to consider how to renew its “unwavering commitment to the Court.”