Taliban say prisoner swap promised by Kabul fails to happen

The three Taliban prisoners included Anas Haqqani (pictured above). (File/Reuters)
Updated 16 November 2019

Taliban say prisoner swap promised by Kabul fails to happen

  • The three Taliban prisoners included Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of the Taliban’s deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the fearsome Haqqani militant network
  • They were to be exchanged for American University of Afghanistan professors, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks

ISLAMABAD: Three Taliban prisoners who were to be freed in exchange for an American and an Australian national, both kidnapped in 2016, are still in custody in Bagram prison, north of the capital Kabul, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Friday.
The three Taliban prisoners did not show up at an exchange site that had been agreed upon with the US, though Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said they would be freed.
Mujahid had no explanation for the no-show.
The three Taliban prisoners included Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of the Taliban’s deputy chief Sirajuddin Haqqani, who leads the fearsome Haqqani militant network. They were to be exchanged for American University of Afghanistan professors, American Kevin King and Australian Timothy Weeks.
Mujahid said the professors are still in Taliban custody.
In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, Ghani said the “conditional release” was a very hard decision to make.
Prisoner releases were a key point during peace talks between the US and Taliban last year. US President Donald Trump abruptly ended the talks in September, following a spate of violent attacks in Kabul that killed more than a dozen people, including a US soldier.
The prisoner exchange was seen as a possible door to restarting the talks. US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has crisscrossed the region in recent weeks meeting with Washington’s NATO allies, as well as Russia, China, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
President Ghani has repeatedly demanded his government be included in talks with the Taliban, who have refused saying the Afghan government is an American puppet.
Ghani is now in the middle of a controversial contest for his job as president following Afghanistan’s Sept. 28 elections, which drew allegations of widespread misconduct and fraud.
Preliminary results were supposed to be released on Thursday, but have once again been postponed.
Ghani had hoped a big win in the presidential polls would solidify his political position, but the recount of ballots has been challenged by his main rival, Abdullah Abdullah, who shares power in Afghanistan’s coalition government.
That government was cobbled together after the 2014 presidential elections, which were so deeply overwhelmed by allegations of fraud that the United States stepped in to broker a power sharing agreement between Abdullah and Ghani.


It's a date: Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia Vision Entertainment join hands on new animated series, 'Tamr'

The new Arabic language television series will feature animated adventures with date fruits. Shutterstock
Updated 12 min 38 sec ago

It's a date: Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia Vision Entertainment join hands on new animated series, 'Tamr'

  • The animated television series highlights the rich culture and historic treasures of the Kingdom and beyond
  • The project is currently in pilot production, while series production is slated to begin in 2020

DUBAI; Film and entertainment company Image Nation Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia-based Vision Entertainment have announced a new joint creative partnership to produce an animated television series that highlights the rich culture and historic treasures of the Kingdom and beyond.

Aptly entitled “Tamr,” the new Arabic language television series will feature animated adventures with the traditional Arabic fruit, dates. 

In an official press statement, Princess Sarah bint Faisal bin Bandar Al-Saud, executive producer and co-founder of the company specializing in producing localized content, said: “We set out to create iconic characters that are rooted in our traditions and culture.

“The palm is such a big part of our history and heritage and the date is a ubiquitous staple in our homes, so we decided to bring the world of dates to life in a fun animated series for the whole family. We are creating this series to embody our rich heritage and culture and hope audiences of all ages across the region will relate to its authentic, homegrown story.”

The project is currently in pilot production, while series production is slated to begin in 2020.