US envoy arrives in Kabul to brief Afghan leaders ahead of peace talks

US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. (AFP)
Updated 01 April 2019

US envoy arrives in Kabul to brief Afghan leaders ahead of peace talks

  • Khalilzad took to Twitter following initial audiences with members of the government later in the day

KABUL: US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on Sunday to brief members of the Afghan government on developments in peace talks between Washington and the Taliban.

Khalilzad’s visit is the first since Hamdullah Mohib, a national security adviser to President Ashraf Ghani, publicly accused the Afghan-born diplomat of using the peace process to become the head of a provisional government, referring to him as a “viceroy.”

The incident led to Mohib being summoned by the US State Department and barred from entering the country.

On Monday, Haroon Chakhansuri, a government spokesman, said Khalilzad would hold talks with Ghani following the conclusion of the fifth round of diplomacy between the Taliban and the US in Doha last month.

The chief executive of Afghanistan, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, will also attend the meeting.

“The talks with him (Khalilzad) will be about the peace process, and about what the government of Afghanistan can contribute to it, to bring peace to the country,” Abdullah told ministers on Monday.

Khalilzad took to Twitter following initial audiences with members of the government later in the day.

“Glad to be back in #Kabul. I started my morning by meeting with #Afghan government representatives with responsibility for the #AfghanPeaceProcess, including the President’s Chief of Staff Rahimi & SE Daudzai. We discussed the urgency of making progress on intra-Afghan dialogue,” he said, posting pictures of the talks at the US Embassy.

The previous round of peace talks — described by both the militants and the US as “significant” in terms of progress, focused on the complete withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan after more than 17 years of war, in return for Taliban pledges not to interfere in Washington’s interests overseas.

Fresh talks are expected to be announced in Doha soon, where the group has maintained an office for several years.

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.