EU calls for Afghanistan cease-fire

EU Special Envoy for Afghanistan Roland Kobia was at a press conference in Kabul on Sunday. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

EU calls for Afghanistan cease-fire

  • US President Donald Trump last month declared talks with the insurgents “dead”
  • Afghanistan is currently in an uneasy waiting period following the first round of presidential elections on Sept. 28

KABUL: European Union officials called Sunday for a cease-fire in Afghanistan, saying the breakdown in talks between the US and the Taliban presented an opportunity to push anew for a truce.
US President Donald Trump last month declared talks with the insurgents “dead,” citing a Taliban attack that killed a US soldier.
Negotiations had been in the final stages for a deal that would have seen the US pull troops from Afghanistan after 18 years in return for various Taliban guarantees.
But to the dismay of many Afghans and international observers, the deal included no immediate, comprehensive cease-fire, rather it would supposedly have paved the way for a reduction in violence and later talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
Roland Kobia, the EU ambassador to Afghanistan, said the talks’ collapse provided a chance to push for a cease-fire which would, in turn, prove a large enough change in Afghanistan for Trump to consider resuming negotiations.
“It’s the right moment and the right opportunity to maybe go one step beyond a simple reduction in violence and explore ways in which a cease-fire ... will take place,” Kobia told Kabul journalists.
“The idea is really to see how we can move the cease-fire idea forward instead of leaving it for later. ... There is an opportunity here today.”
When asked how the EU, which has only a limited footprint in Afghanistan, could leverage a cease-fire, Kobia suggested that the Taliban might return to power in “one form or another” within months so would entertain a truce to help normalize future relations with the European bloc.
“A cease-fire would be a token, a guarantee of goodwill and good preparation for the normalization of these relationships,” Kobia said.
The Taliban, for its part, has steadfastly ruled out an immediate cease-fire but last year downed weapons for a three-day truce.
Afghanistan is currently in an uneasy waiting period following the first round of presidential elections on September 28.
Results were supposed to be released Saturday but have been indefinitely delayed due to “technical issues,” the Independent Election Commission said.
Pierre Mayaudon, head of the EU delegation in Afghanistan, said a delay of a few days to finalize results was legitimate to ensure votes were fairly counted.
“But not many more days that again will go into weeks and will possibly raise the perception that something is happening,” he told reporters.
Violence in Afghanistan meanwhile continues unabated. On Friday, at least 70 people were killed when a mosque in Nangarhar province was bombed.


Spain set for money laundering trial against uncle of Syria’s Assad

Updated 22 November 2019

Spain set for money laundering trial against uncle of Syria’s Assad

  • Rifaat Assad turned against the government in 1984 after a power struggle over who would succeed his older brother, Hafez
  • Rifaat Assad is also facing trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets

MADRID: Spain is heading toward a money laundering trial against an uncle of Syrian president Bashar Assad, the High Court said on Friday, after an investigating judge finished his probe.
The prosecuting office has ten days to comment on the judge’s recommendation that the case goes ahead, which is considered a formality, after which a trial start date will be set, the court said.
Two years ago, the High Court confiscated over €600 million ($663.24 million) of assets thought to be linked to Rifaat Assad.
He is a former military commander, widely held responsible for crushing an uprising in 1982 against then-president Hafez Assad, Bashar’s father. Many thousands were killed.
Rifaat Assad turned against the government in 1984 after a power struggle over who would succeed his older brother, Hafez. He now lives in exile between France and Britain.
He is also facing trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets.