Why the UN is confident about clean energy’s future

The Sustainability Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 site. (AFP/File Photo)
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The Sustainability Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 site. (AFP/File Photo)
In 2015, the UN General Assembly set forth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 17 global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” (Supplied/UNDP)
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In 2015, the UN General Assembly set forth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 17 global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” (Supplied/UNDP)
Zimbabwe solar health nurse on a maternity ward in a health center with a solar rooftop. (Supplied/UNDP)
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Zimbabwe solar health nurse on a maternity ward in a health center with a solar rooftop. (Supplied/UNDP)
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Updated 17 March 2021

Why the UN is confident about clean energy’s future

The Sustainability Pavilion at the Dubai Expo 2020 site. (AFP/File Photo)
  • UNDP’s head of energy believes absence of political will is the main obstacle in the path of climate action
  • Marcel Alers, who is at the heart of UN efforts to promote sustainable energy, spoke exclusively to Arab News

NEW YORK CITY: What frustrates Marcel Alers when it comes to energy and its intimate connection with the climate crisis is that the writing has been on the wall for quite some time now. There is not much wiggle room left: Limiting climate change has become a race against time but the world still has a long way to go.

The significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic may well remain a mere blip on the long-term graph if countries do not work hard to get all the way down to net-zero.

“We burn fossil fuels for their energy content: coal, fuel and gas. And in the process, we release greenhouse gases, a major contributing factor to climate change,” Alers, who is head of energy at UNDP, told Arab News during an exclusive interview.

The energy sector accounts for 73 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, endangering the lives and livelihoods of future generations and already causing irreversible damage to the biosphere. Air pollution from burning fossil fuels kills an estimated 7 million people around the world every year.

That is six times the death toll of all murders, wars, and terrorist attacks combined. “It becomes an existential problem for the planet and for humanity. And therefore, we need to do something about it,” said Alers.




A picture taken on January 16, 2021, shows solar panels used to generate renewable energy at the Sustainability Pavilion during a media tour at the Dubai Expo 2020, a week ahead of its public opening, in the UAE. (AFP/File Photo)

For this man who is at the heart of global endeavors to bring sustainable energy for all, it is abundantly clear what needs to be done: “Do we have all the solutions? No. But we have sufficient solutions to do something now. If we want to!” he said.

At a time when the pandemic has plunged the global economy into recession, and when interest rates are low, scaling up renewable energy systems is actually a win-win for all: Not only does clean energy allow for greener, healthier cities, it is also an engine for job creation.

It could create nearly three times as many jobs as investing in fossil fuels, boosting economic recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic. Renewables accounted for 11.5 million jobs worldwide in 2019, and the International Renewable Energy Agency estimates this number could rise to 42 million jobs by 2050.

Renewable energies will lead to cheaper prices for consumers. Alternative sources of energy — solar, wind, water, hydroelectric resources, geothermal, renewable biomass — were so expensive a few decades ago that only space expeditions could afford them. But that has changed.

There has been a major decrease in the cost of renewables and now they are cheaper than coal, which was for a long time considered the cheapest source of electricity. While solar got 89 percent cheaper and wind 70 percent, the price of electricity from coal declined by merely 2 percent.




Marcel Alers, who is head of energy at UNDP, spoke to Arab News during an exclusive interview. (Supplied)

In 2015, the UN General Assembly set forth Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): 17 global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.” The SDGs are intended to be achieved by the year 2030.

Although all goals are interconnected, SDG 7 is particularly central to all the rest: It calls for ensuring access to “affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.”

Alers goes as far as to say that most of the 17 targets — in areas like health, education, job creation and poverty eradication — could not be achieved if the energy target is missed. Put simply, everything needs energy.

But although clean energy is available and affordable, its potential remains largely untapped. “The political will has just not been sufficiently strong to make the difference,” said Alers.

FASTFACTS

Sustainable Energy

* SDG 7 calls for ‘affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.’

* Air pollution kills 7 million people worldwide every year. (WHO)

* The energy sector accounts for 73% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. (World Resources Institute)

While the fear of death from the coronavirus has instilled a sense of urgency that led to quick action and trillions of dollars suddenly began floating around, the impact of climate change is too gradual for people to feel impelled to do something about it.

Also, the transition to clean energy requires large amounts of investment today for benefits that will only be accrued down the line over two or three decades. “There is a mismatch here,” said Alers. “People will say, we’ll be dead by then.

“Report after report confirms that the smart thing to do is to pay money now, and it will pay off many times over. “But even so, we have trouble getting the politicians to really make those decisions and prioritize them.

“Most countries have five-year election cycles in place. So, I understand that, as a politician seeking re-election, you have to take actions that will show benefits while you are in power, so you can collect those votes. You have no interest in doing something now that in 10 years will benefit someone else, because by that time you are out of office.”

Politicians, however, are not in a vacuum. They get voted into office by voters. “So when you boil it all down, it is a societal challenge. You need the society as a whole to reach a level of understanding in terms of the urgency of action needed so they start translating that by voting politicians in place that come with a mandate to do something about the climate.”




This photograph taken on February 3, 2021 shows workers assembling solar panels on the shore of Tengeh reservoir as part of efforts to construct a floating solar power farm in Singapore. (AFP/File Photo)

This is where young people come in. Recently, the world’s largest survey of opinions on climate change, which sought the views of 1.2 million people in 50 countries, found that the majority of global citizens believe it is a global emergency that requires urgent action.

A large number of participants were aged 14-18 for whom the impacts of climate change have become more visible, from record temperatures, to devastating fires, and active hurricane seasons.

“I think it’s up to the younger generation to effect change, and they’re picking it up because arguably for them this is more of a real problem than for people like myself entering the second half of my life. I may escape the worst of it because of my age, but they will not.

“But again: Will it be fast enough? Can we afford to wait? Do we have the luxury of time? I would argue we don’t. I think we’ll get there, but it would be unfortunate to wake up too late,” said Alers.

The science is clear: Countries have a short window of time to take the urgent action necessary to limit average global temperature rise to a safer 1.5 °C. Experts believe that the Paris Agreement on Climate change and the SDGs represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure an equitable and sustainable transition.

The UNDP’s Climate Promise initiative was launched to ensure that any country wishing to increase their national climate pledge is able to do so. UNDP already agreed work plans with 118 countries, drawing upon the agency’s large expertise across various sectors.




Visitors look at screens displaying images of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Solar Park on March 20, 2017, at the solar plant in Dubai. (AFP/File Photo)

As part of the UNDP’s overall support for countries to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, Climate Promise services are being adjusted to bolster government efforts to address climate action within their pandemic response by using their pledges to “green” stimulus packages and longer-term investments and development plans.

Some countries are already taking the lead. Alers singles out the UAE and Saudi Arabia, two nations in a region that is particularly vulnerable to climate change, where heat and the need for cooling have entangled it in a self-reinforcing loop: As climate change leads to rising temperatures, more electricity is needed to run air conditioning, burning more fossil fuels, contributing in turn to further climate change.

“The (Emiratis) are aware that oil and gas is a finite resource and there will be a time where it will be greatly reduced. So, they have taken this forward look, and are now cleverly repositioning themselves to also be seen as leaders on new technologies, solar in particular.

“I see similar things happening in Saudi Arabia. Oil is reducing. When young people come of age and they start the productive years of their lives, they need jobs, they need to start and provide for their families. So, you’ve got to harness these trends in a way that leads to something sustainable, that’s healthy that’s good for everybody.

“The Saudis could be the leaders for the energy revolution of tomorrow if they play this well.”

Indeed, 2021 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for the climate crisis. Alers believes the Climate Change summit in Glasgow in November may be the last chance for the political will to emerge convincingly and translate into real action.

Whatever happens then, he said, decisions and agreements about climate will determine how the crisis will unfold in the coming years.




As part of the UNDP’s overall support for countries to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, Climate Promise services are being adjusted to bolster government efforts to address climate action within their pandemic response. (Supplied/UNDP Sudan)

Even more important is the UN High Level Dialogue on energy in September, the first such event since 1981.

“This will be the first reality check. Are we on track to achieve the SDGs? The answer is clearly no,” Alers said.

“So this will be a chance to correct. With nine years left in the decade of action leading to 2030, the dialogue is supposed to inject a jolt of energy to make energy a centerpiece and live up to our pledges and commitments.

“We really believe that if there’s true genuine political commitment, the other things, such as money and technology will flow from that. And so, of course, people like myself and all the experts who are working on it, we keep hammering on it, keep reinventing the message and trying to find the right words to draw attention to the topic.

“We’ll keep doing this of course. We’ll see what we have to offer.”

---------------

@EphremKossaify


Pakistani scientists bring new hope to dementia patients through virtual reality

Dr. Ali Jawaid tests a program and equipment for VR-based therapy for dementia patients during a study at Lahore University of Management Sciences. (Supplied)
Dr. Ali Jawaid tests a program and equipment for VR-based therapy for dementia patients during a study at Lahore University of Management Sciences. (Supplied)
Updated 17 sec ago

Pakistani scientists bring new hope to dementia patients through virtual reality

Dr. Ali Jawaid tests a program and equipment for VR-based therapy for dementia patients during a study at Lahore University of Management Sciences. (Supplied)
  • Study results show VR could slow disease progression, decline in cognitive function

WARSAW: Two Pakistani scientists have published the results of a study that shows the decline in brain functions of dementia patients could be controlled, or slowed, with the use of virtual reality, offering new hope to sufferers of a neurological disorder that afflicts 55 million people worldwide.

Dementia, which is less a disease and more a group of related syndromes, manifests itself in a steep decline in brain functions. The condition destroys memories and personalities, robbing families of their loved ones and sapping patience and finances. With populations aging, the number of patients worldwide is projected to rise to 78 million by 2030 and 139 million by 2050, the World Health Organization said in a report this month.
There is no known cure for dementia and the focus of therapy has largely remained on slowing its progression.
But now, in a study published in the Brain Sciences journal’s August edition, Pakistani neuroscientist Dr. Ali Jawaid and computer scientist Dr. Suleman Shahid have demonstrated how VR could help those living with dementia cope with their condition.
Jawaid, who is based in Warsaw, Poland, where he leads neuropsychiatric disorders research at the BRAINCITY center at the Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, told Arab News: “Usually, dementia patients progressively deteriorate in cognitive functions, but what we assessed was that during the whole study, which was more than six months, there was no deterioration.”
His collaborator Shahid directs the Computer Human Interaction and Social Experience Lab at the Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan.
At the core of the two scientists’ latest work has been the employment of VR for environmental enrichment, a term used to describe changing a person’s surroundings to make them more complex, dynamic, and challenging in order to stimulate the brain.
Research on animals has variously found that environmental enrichment could aid the treatment and recovery of brain-related dysfunctions, including Alzheimer’s disease and others related to aging.
“In animals, we have discovered that environmental enrichment is one of the strongest protector factors against cognitive impairment induced by aging. The challenge was how to bring this environmental enrichment to humans,” Jawaid said.
He pointed out that exercise and brain quizzes could work but noted that they were stressful and hardly ever engaging enough for dementia patients to do them regularly or for long periods of time.
What Jawaid and Shahid did instead was to immerse their study’s participants, all with mild dementia, in virtual environments depicting real-world landmarks familiar to them. As all those taking part were Pakistani, the three environments used were the Great Wall of China, the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and the pyramids of Egypt.
In each of the virtual worlds, the patients had to perform tasks designed to stimulate different domains impaired in dementia, such as short-term memory, attention, navigation, motor coordination, or decision-making.
For example, in one scenario, a participant would see balloons in the sky as they walked along the Great Wall of China wearing a VR headset. As the sight triggered a childhood memory of shooting balloons, a virtual pistol or a bow and arrow would appear.

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Franco-American tension over submarine deal puts fresh strain on trans-Atlantic ties

Franco-American tension over submarine deal puts fresh strain on trans-Atlantic ties
Updated 18 September 2021

Franco-American tension over submarine deal puts fresh strain on trans-Atlantic ties

Franco-American tension over submarine deal puts fresh strain on trans-Atlantic ties
  • France feels excluded from AUKUS and robbed of chance to land a lucrative submarine deal
  • Macron recalls ambassadors from the US and Australia for consultation in show of anger

LONDON: The French foreign minister’s reaction to the new trilateral security pact between Australia, the UK and the US brings to mind a powerful cartoon published by an American newspaper during the Trump years, when the president was ruling by executive order to evade Congress.

The cartoon, which appeared in the Buffalo News, depicted the Statue of Liberty, a gift from the people of France to the US, stabbed in the back not with a dagger but with the president’s pen. Just like Lady Liberty in this cutting depiction, the French must feel as though a dagger is buried between their shoulder blades.

In fact French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian likened the new Indo-Pacific security alliance, known as AUKUS, to a “stab in the back” and the sort of betrayal that “is not something allies do to each other.”

Because of “the exceptional seriousness of the announcements made on Sept. 15 by Australia and the United States,” Le Drian announced on Friday that Paris would immediately recall its ambassadors to the US and Australia for consultation.

French grievances over the deal relate both to its strategic and financial implications. Paris was not only excluded from the Indo-Pacific strategy but has also lost out on a hugely lucrative contract with Australia to build nuclear submarines. Canberra is tapping American tech instead.

The new alliance, announced during a virtual meeting of US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, has ignited a firestorm of criticism from France.

While many observers in Washington applauded the pact as a clear challenge to China, others warned that the agreement marks the beginning of a new arms race in the region, or perhaps even a strategic blunder following hot on the heels of America’s Afghanistan withdrawal debacle.

US President Joe Biden participates is a virtual press conference on national security with British PM Boris Johnson (R) and Australian PM Scott Morrison on Sept. 15, 2021. (AFP)

Since taking office, Biden has sought to reset America’s frigid relations with its oldest European allies, yet the AUKUS move appears to have had the opposite effect, alienating France and the wider EU.

It has also exposed a potential rift between the US and its European allies on how to handle the growing influence of China. Differing positions on whether to confront or cooperate with Beijing might, as the New York Times recently put it, “redraw the global strategic map.”

The timing of the AUKUS deal could not have been more critical, coming as it did on “the eve of the publication of the EU strategy in the Indo-Pacific, and as Paris has risen as the main EU strategic actor in the region,” wrote Benjamin Haddad, director of the Europe Center at the Atlantic Council.

France's ambassador to the US, Philippe Etienne, has been recalled to Paris for consultations amid a US-France diplomatic row over the sale of submarines to Australia. (AFP file photo)

He predicts the new dynamic will “create a blow to transatlantic strategy in the region and create a lasting hurdle in US-French relations.”

Next week, the White House is due to host the first in-person meeting of leaders of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a strategic alliance between the US, Japan, Australia and India. “The Quad,” as it is known, is another important pillar of Biden’s China policy.

Beijing views the Quad, and the new AUKUS, as a “clique based on a Cold War ideology and detrimental to the international order.” China’s regional rival India, meanwhile, predictably welcomed the new alliance.

Although Biden, Johnson and Scott did not mention China in their AUKUS announcement, the pact was described in the US as part of the president’s policy to “refocus” American national security and to reorient its military posture toward the Chinese threat.

China's increasingly expanding navy and aggressive actions beyond its borders has spurred the US, Japan, Australia and India to form a strategic alliance. (Shutterstock image)

The administration has sought to justify its abrupt departure from Afghanistan on the grounds that it needs to pool its resources to address the threat emanating from China. Critics might have given the Biden team the benefit of the doubt had the new strategic architecture in the Indo-Pacific not come at the expense of US-French relations.

France has good reason to be upset. The new deal with Australia, described as “historic” by the US media and “another step by Western allies to counter China’s strength,” torpedoed the largest military contract Australia has ever awarded — a deal for nuclear submarines worth 90 billion Australian dollars ($65.5 billion), signed in 2017 with the French defense contractor Naval Group.

The US media played down the French reaction to AUKUS and chose not to ruminate over what sort of message the deal might send to America’s allies elsewhere. Instead it focused on the historic nature of the sharing of US nuclear-propulsion technology with Australia.

French President Emmanuel Macron welcomes Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison at the Elysee Palace in Paris on June 15, 2021. (AFP)

Defense News hailed the deal as the first time the US has shared this type of technology with any ally since the US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement of 1958.

Barry Pavel, director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, likewise drew a parallel between the new pact and the Eisenhower administration’s policy of sharing nuclear technology with the UK, a policy that caused French President Charles de Gaulle to decry “Anglo-Saxon nuclear cooperation and propelled France to develop its own nuclear capabilities.”

Indeed, much like de Gaulle, French President Emmanuel Macron might well interpret the AUKUS deal as a deliberate Anglo-Saxon snub that undermines its strategic posture in the Indo-Pacific.

France is not a minor player in the region. It is the only European country with a big presence in the Indo-Pacific, including about 7,000 soldiers on active deployment.

Cutting France out of the new strategic architecture represents a blow both to Paris and to Macron, who had prided himself on fostering a good relationship with Biden. The perceived snub could backfire badly for the Anglo-Saxon trio by pushing the French president to seek alliances elsewhere.

Daphné class French submarine under construction in Lorient, France. (Shutterstock photo)

Defense News hailed the deal as the first time the US has shared this type of technology with any ally since the US-UK Mutual Defense Agreement of 1958.

Barry Pavel, director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council, likewise drew a parallel between the new pact and the Eisenhower administration’s policy of sharing nuclear technology with the UK, a policy that caused French President Charles de Gaulle to decry “Anglo-Saxon nuclear cooperation and propelled France to develop its own nuclear capabilities.”

Many observers had expected more from the Biden administration after its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the damage this caused to America’s global standing and perceptions of its commitment to its allies. Instead, AUKUS looks like more of the same.

Biden’s secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, is a francophone who grew up in Paris and has long enjoyed good relations with the French. This had raised hopes of a new flourishing of ties between the two governments. Instead, relations have hit rock bottom.

US President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron meeting like long-lost friends during then G-7 summit in Cornwall, UK on June 13. (GETTY IMAGES/AFP/File Photo)

The perceived betrayal seems all the more cruel when one takes into consideration how much America has gained from its French connection during the war on terror. In Africa especially, it is French forces who have led operations against Daesh affiliates. Only this week, Macron announced the assassination of Adnan Abu Walid Al-Sahrawi, the leader of Daesh in the Sahara, who had been accused of killing four Americans.

In Washington, foreign policy watchers currently interpret the rift with Paris as a “tactical error and not a strategic mistake.” But the French beg to differ.

When Blinken recently posted a tweet calling France a “vital partner” in the Pacific, Gerard Araud, the outspoken French former ambassador to Washington, responded sarcastically: “We are deeply moved.”

As Washington sets about redrawing the strategic map in the Indo-Pacific, it would perhaps be wise not to take its oldest friendships for granted. Indeed, if America cannot be counted on to stand by its allies, Washington could find itself short of friends when push comes to shove.

 

 


Taliban shut down ministry for women

Taliban shut down ministry for women
Updated 18 September 2021

Taliban shut down ministry for women

Taliban shut down ministry for women
  • Militia bring back vice department

KABUL: The Taliban appeared on Friday to have shut down the government’s ministry of women’s affairs and replaced it with a department notorious for enforcing strict religious doctrine during their first rule two decades ago.
And in a further sign the Taliban’s approach to women and girls had not softened, the Education Ministry said only classes for boys would restart on Saturday.
In Kabul, workers were seen raising a sign for the Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice at the old Women’s Affairs building.
Several posts have appeared on Twitter in the last 24 hours showing women workers from the ministry protesting outside the building, saying they had lost their jobs.
No official from the Taliban responded to requests for comment.
Also on Friday, the Education Ministry issued a statement ordering male teachers back to work and said secondary school classes for boys would resume on Saturday.
Despite insisting they will rule more moderately this time around, the Taliban have not allowed women to return to work and introduced rules for what they can wear at university.
The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution saying that the Taliban need to establish an inclusive government that has “the full, equal and meaningful participation of women” and upholds human rights.
The resolution adopted by the UN’s most powerful body also extends the current mandate of the UN political mission in Afghanistan for six months and delivers a clear message that its 15 members will be watching closely what the Taliban do going forward.
The resolution also calls for strengthened efforts to provide humanitarian assistance to some 14 million Afghans needing aid and demands “unhindered humanitarian access” for the UN and other aid agencies. It also reaffirms “the importance of combating terrorism in Afghanistan ... and ensuring that the territory of Afghanistan should not be used to threaten or attack any country, to plan or finance terrorist acts, or to shelter and train terrorists” in the future.
Russian and China’s leaders urged the Taliban government to remain peaceful to their neighbors and combat terrorism and drug trafficking.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke via video link at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Putin said the organization, holding its meeting in Tajikistan, should “use its potential” to “stimulate the new Afghan authorities” in fulfilling their promises on normalizing life and bringing security in Afghanistan.
Xi said it was necessary to “encourage Afghanistan to put in place a broad-based and inclusive political framework” and to “resolutely fight all forms of terrorism” and live in peace with its neighbors.


France recalls envoys in US and Australia over submarine deal

France recalls envoys in US and Australia over submarine deal
Updated 17 September 2021

France recalls envoys in US and Australia over submarine deal

France recalls envoys in US and Australia over submarine deal
  • Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the rare decision taken by President Emmanuel Macron was made due to the seriousness of the event
  • Earlier on Friday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected French criticism

PARIS/CANBERRA/WASHINGTON: France said on Friday it had decided to recall its ambassadors in the US and Australia for consultations after Australia struck a deal with the United States and Britain which ended a $40 billion deal to purchase French-designed submarines.
Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in a statement that the rare decision taken by President Emmanuel Macron was made due to the seriousness of the event.
The US State Department and White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Earlier on Friday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected French criticism that it had not been warned, saying he had raised the possibility in talks with the French president in June that Australia might scrap the 2016 submarine deal with a French company.
On Thursday, Australia said it would scrap the $40 billion deal with France’s Naval Group to build a fleet of conventional submarines and would instead build at least eight nuclear-powered submarines with US and British technology after striking a trilateral security partnership.
Le Drian described the decision as a stab in the back.
Morrison acknowledged the damage to Australia-France ties but insisted he had told French President Emmanuel Macron in June that Australia had revised its thinking on the deal.
“I made it very clear, we had a lengthy dinner there in Paris, about our very significant concerns about the capabilities of conventional submarines to deal with the new strategic environment we’re faced with,” Morrison told 5aa Radio.
“I made it very clear that this was a matter that Australia would need to make a decision on in our national interest,” he said.
Strained Australia-French ties come as the United States and its allies seek additional support in the Asia and the Pacific amid concern about the rising influence of a more assertive China.
France is about to take over the presidency of the European Union, which on Thursday released its strategy for the Indo-Pacific, pledging to seek a trade deal with Taiwan and to deploy more ships to keep sea routes open.


Pentagon says Kabul drone strike killed 10 civilians in 'tragic mistake'

Pentagon says Kabul drone strike killed 10 civilians in 'tragic mistake'
Updated 17 September 2021

Pentagon says Kabul drone strike killed 10 civilians in 'tragic mistake'

Pentagon says Kabul drone strike killed 10 civilians in 'tragic mistake'
  • "At the time of the strike, I was confident that the strike had averted an imminent threat to our forces at the airport": McKenzie
  • He said he now believed it unlikely that those who died were Daesh militants or posed a direct threat to US forces

WASHINGTON: The US military said on Friday that a drone strike in Kabul last month killed as many as 10 civilians, including seven children, and it apologized for what the Pentagon said was a tragic mistake.
Senior US officers had said the Aug. 29 strike that took place as foreign forces completed the last stages of their withdrawal from Afghanistan targeted a Daesh suicide bomber who posed an imminent threat to Kabul airport.
"At the time of the strike, I was confident that the strike had averted an imminent threat to our forces at the airport," US General Frank McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, told reporters. "Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake."
He said he now believed it unlikely that those who died were Daesh militants or posed a direct threat to US forces. The Pentagon was considering reparations for the civilians killed, McKenzie said.
Reports had emerged almost immediately that the drone strike had killed civilians including children. A spokesman for Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers, Zabihullah Mujahid, had said at the time that strike had killed seven people.