Taliban launches spring offensive; dashes Afghan peace hopes

Afghan men prepare the graves for the victims of Sunday's suicide attack at a voter registration center in Kabul, Afghanistan,on April 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)
Updated 27 April 2018

Taliban launches spring offensive; dashes Afghan peace hopes

  • Group vows to employ ‘new and intricate tactics’ in response to ‘new war strategy of the enemy’
  • The Taliban says it will focus on “crushing, killing and capturing American invaders and their supporters.”

KABUL: The Taliban’s announcement on Tuesday of the launch of its annual spring offensive has dashed the chances of peace talks with the Afghan government

The announcement follows last week’s deadly attack by Daesh on a voter registration center in Kabul. 

“When the Taliban declares its spring offensive, it’s not only rejecting President Ashraf Ghani’s peace overture, but also launching a war against it,” Mohammed Daud Kalakani, a lawmaker from Kabul, told Arab News.

Since the announcement, the Taliban has unleashed a series of attacks, killing dozens of Afghan security personnel and the deputy governor of Logar province, Foreign Ministry officials told Arab News on Friday.

The offensive spells “disaster for the people,” Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammed Radmanesh told Arab News.

“We have our own preparations, and have launched 11 offensives in different parts of the country.”

There have been at least six attacks on voter registration offices, including one in Kabul. The government has acknowledged that many of them are in areas beyond its control, but has vowed to beef up security for parliamentary elections scheduled for October. 

There are fears that the Taliban offensive could escalate violence and reduce the chances of a transparent and secure election.

“So far, only 200,000 people have registered,” Ahmad Saeedi, an analyst and former Afghan diplomat, told Arab News.

“We have 13 million people qualified to vote, so even if we step up security and prolong the period of voter registration, possibly 1 or 2 million will register,” he said.

“Will this be enough of a turnout? Will the election be free, fair and transparent? No. The election will add to the crisis,” he added. 

“Elections are held to bring political stability, but this one will increase the challenges for the government and the people.” Government officials insist the election will be held on time.

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

Updated 22 October 2020

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

  • Abu Dhabi’s Al-Ma’arid Street renamed President Joko Widodo Street

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said it was “an honor” for him and his country that a street in the UAE capital had been named after him.

Al-Ma’arid Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s key roads, was on Monday renamed President Joko Widodo Street during a ceremony that coincided with the first anniversary of the Indonesian leader’s inauguration for a second term in office.

Writing on social media, Widodo said: “It is a recognition and an honor, not only for me, but for Indonesia.” He also expressed hope that the two countries’ relations would be “stronger, mutually strengthening, and beneficial for the people of the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE, Husin Bagis, told Arab News: “The initiative to rename the street after President Joko Widodo came from His Highness (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), who also presided over the street renaming ceremony on the spot.”

The envoy said that the street was near to the future location of the Indonesian Embassy compound, which was currently under construction.

According to UAE news agency WAM, the crown prince has also directed officials to build a mosque named after Widodo, in Abu Dhabi’s Diplomatic Area, in recognition of the Indonesian president’s close friendship with the UAE and his efforts to strengthen the relationship.

Indonesia-UAE relations have grown closer since Widodo’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, during which he secured investment projects worth $22.9 billion in what has officially been described as the biggest trade deal in the country’s history. The visit was to reciprocate the crown prince’s trip to Indonesia in July 2019.

Recent cooperation agreements between the two countries have included plans for the construction of a mosque on a plot of land in Widodo’s hometown of Solo in Central Java.

The mosque will be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated to take place in December.

Widodo is the latest Indonesian leader to be celebrated through an honorific street name in a foreign country. In Rabat, Morocco’s capital, Avenue Sukarno was named after Indonesia’s first president, while Mohammed Hatta Street in Haarlem, the Netherlands, recognizes the Southeast Asian country’s first vice president. Sukarno and Hatta are considered the fathers of Indonesia’s independence.

The name of the country’s third president, B. J. Habibie, appears on a bridge in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in honor of his decision to hold a referendum there which allowed East Timor to secede from Indonesia.