Taliban declares an ‘Eid truce’ after Afghan president’s offer

The statement did not say if the offer was in response to the proposal Ghani made on Thursday. (AFP). (AP)
Updated 09 June 2018
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Taliban declares an ‘Eid truce’ after Afghan president’s offer

  • Taliban said the ‘Eid truce’ doesn’t include the US-led troops, and its attacks on foreign troops stationed in Afghans will continue unabatedly in any area
  • Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in a tweet said that he welcomes the three-day cease-fire announced by the Taliban

KABUL: Afghanistan’s Taliban movement has ordered its fighters to observe a three-day cease-fire with the government during Eid-ul-Fitr after President Ashraf Ghani offered a short-term cease-fire with the militants.
But the group said its attacks against US-led troops stationed in the country will continue unabatedly in any area.
The Taliban made the call in a statement emailed to journalists. “All of the Mujahideen are instructed to halt offensives against local opponents during the first, second and third days of Eid…, but if the Mujahideen are attacked, then they defend from themselves.”
The statement did not say if the offer was in response to the proposal Ghani made on Thursday of a week-long truce with the Taliban which will begin on June 12 or call that was made days earlier by a large gathering of Islamic scholars in Kabul.
“Our cease-fire is only for the occasion of Eid,” Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban, told Arab News. “Afghans are under occupation and ‘jihad’ is an obligation,” Mujahid said when asked if the Taliban would prolong the truce period.
The Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who is on an overseas trip, said that he welcomed the three days ceasefire announced by the Taliban.
“This comes following the bold decision by the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to cease the fight for a period of time," said Ghani in a tweet.
Ghani made his surprise offer in a televised speech on Thursday, saying it would give the Taliban a chance to reconsider their “violent campaign” during the last days of Ramadan. But said the offer did not extend to Daesh or Al-Qaeda.
His offer — the first of its kind since he assumed power in late 2014 — came following recent calls from Islamic scholars in Kabul for an immediate cease-fire between government forces and the Taliban.
He said details of the truce, covering the last days of the holy month and the period of Eid, will be announced later.
Ghani renewed his peace overture with the Taliban in a regional conference in Kabul in February. It involves recognition of the group as a political entity, allow its participation in the coming crucial elections and review of the constitution as demanded by the Taliban.
But he did not touch the issue of presence or withdrawal of foreign troops, a key demand of the insurgents. Ghani’s truce offer was welcomed by the UN, the UK and the US military in Afghanistan, which promised to observe it.
His offer comes amid a rise in attacks by the insurgents, who have gained ground in recent months despite a surge in ground and aerial offensives by US and Afghan forces.
A meeting of more than 2,000 religious scholars from around the country on Monday called on both the Taliban and the government to observe a cease-fire.
The Kabul gathering said “the ongoing war in Afghanistan is forbidden under Islamic law” and described suicide attacks and war against the government as illegitimate.
The religious meeting was targeted by a suicide bomber, who detonated explosives at the entrance of the event, killing several people including seven clerics. The Taliban said it was not behind the attack, but described the meeting as “a US effort.”
More than two weeks ago the top US commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said some Taliban leaders were in contact with the Afghan government. The Taliban, however, rejected the news, saying it was fabricated.
Retired Gen. Attiqullah Amarkhail said the offer of a truce from both sides was the start of a good step, but he called the move a political maneuver. “From a political point of view, war is a game and part of politics itself,” he told Arab News.
“The government announced a truce on the basis of Ulema’s verdict to show to the world and Afghans that it had taken the initiative for peace months back and now is even willing to announce a truce and is pacifist.
“The Taliban opted the very policy. We can be hopeful if the truce is extended for a longer time. This war is very complicated and the truce from both sides seems to be just politics.”


Merkel suffers new trembling spell on eve of G20

Updated 27 June 2019
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Merkel suffers new trembling spell on eve of G20

  • The shaking went on for two minutes, according to a DPA photographer who was present at the event
  • Her previous bout of shaking last Tuesday had been blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day

BERLIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday suffered another episode of uncontrolled trembling, a week after a similar incident that sparked questions about her health.
The latest lapse came hours before Merkel was due to board a plane for the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
The German leader began to tremble as she stood next to President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was giving a speech at a ceremony to formally appoint a new justice minister.
The shaking went on for two minutes, according to a DPA photographer who was present at the event.
Merkel folded her arms visibly in a bid to stop the trembling.
She only finally brought it under control once she was able to take a few steps.
She was offered a glass of water but turned it down.
Her previous bout of shaking last Tuesday had been blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day.
Despite the latest incident, a German government spokesman said Merkel would not be canceling any appointments on Thursday and Friday.
“The chancellor is well,” he said, adding that she will be flying as planned to Osaka for the G20 summit.
Merkel, frequently called the European Union’s most influential leader and the most powerful woman in the world, turns 65 next month.
She has said she will leave politics at the end of her term, in 2021.
There were brief concerns about her health in 2014 when she was taken ill during a television interview. The broadcast was briefly interrupted when she experienced a drop in blood pressure.
Her spokesman Steffen Seibert explained at the time the leader did not feel well for a moment, then ate and drank something and continued the interview.