Over 13,000 Afghans forced to flee Taliban, Daesh battle

Members of an Afghan family who fled their village in Nangarhar province at their temporary home in Jalalabad. (AP)
Updated 12 June 2019
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Over 13,000 Afghans forced to flee Taliban, Daesh battle

  • Displaced people await aid from the government
  • Daesh has frequently been met with resistance from locals, due to its extremist conduct

KABUL: Hundreds of Afghan families have been forced to leave their villages because of fighting between the Taliban and affiliates of Daesh in eastern Nangarhar province in recent weeks, officials said on Wednesday.

The fighting concentrated in the Shinwari and Khoghani districts of the province, which borders Pakistan, and has served as a bastion for Daesh loyalists since the group emerged in Afghanistan in late 2014.

Most of the displaced, including children and the elderly, have ended up in the desert, where they face soaring heat, lack of water, shelter and food, Aryan Youn, a local delegate, told Arab News.

“These people have suffered casualties and now live in miserable conditions. It is nearly 50 degrees there. A few families have received aid from locals and traders, but the government has not provided any aid for them yet because of bureaucracy,” she said.

Fighting in Nangarhar broke out days before the holy month of Ramadan after Daesh tried to take control of Taliban territory.

Najibullah Qayoumi, head of the provincial department for refugees, said the government has provided aid to some of those displaced and confirmed that families have settled in the desert.

He told Arab News the number of displaced was over 13,000.

“The fighting erupted in one area and then spread to other parts, so like many other people we had to flee,” Tawakal Shah, a displaced resident, said.

FASTFACT

The terrorist organization wanted to gain control of Taliban strongholds in Nangahar province.

Shah Mahmood Miakhel, governor of Nangarhar, told Arab News both Daesh and the Taliban were enemies of the government and that it has used airstrikes against both groups. He added that Daesh had filled the vacuum created after a government airstrike wiped out a number of Taliban leaders in April.

The governor’s spokesman, Attaullah Khogyani, refused to be drawn on whether Afghan forces would be deployed against the two groups. He also refused to answer questions on how the organizations had gained such a foothold in the region, after a series of prolonged operations against them by the US and Afghan soldiers. Washington famously dropped the world’s largest bomb, nicknamed the “Mother of all Bombs” (MOAB) on militants in 2017.

Daesh has frequently been met with resistance from locals, due to its extremist conduct, including forcefully marrying young girls and killing community elders in brutal ways. 

Waheed Mozhdah, an analyst, said the spread of Daesh’s activities in Afghanistan had “raised lots of questions and suspicions not only among ordinary Afghans, but the Taliban too.

“One reason why the Taliban are hesitant about talks (with the US) is that they think America is bringing Daesh to Afghanistan. The Taliban have openly said that America is aiding Daesh here,” he said.

US officials have repeatedly rejected as baseless accusations raised by Iran, Russia and former Afghan President Hamid Karzai that Washington is helping Daesh in Afghanistan to destabilize the region.

Some 1.4 million Afghans have been internally displaced due to the conflict, as well as natural disasters, in the last 18 years.


Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

Updated 26 June 2019
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Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

  • But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues
  • The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
But Pompeo, on a visit to India, gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues ranging from access to Indian markets for leading American companies to New Delhi’s demands for foreign firms to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminum to the United States.
The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.
The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship,” he added.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.
“If you trade with someone and they are your biggest trading partner, it is impossible you don’t have trade issues,” he said.
India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to US sanctions, are also a sore point.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.
Earlier, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks at his official residence in the capital, New Delhi, and they exchanged handshakes in images broadcast on television.
“The Prime Minister expressed his strong commitment to achieve the full potential of bilateral relations in trade and economy, energy, defense, counterterrorism and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
Pompeo is expected to round off the trip with a policy speech hosted by the US embassy, before departing on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Japan.