Monday, 23 October 2017

US 'sanction-threats'' against Iran could put at risk investments already made by Afghan entrepreneurs in the port of Chabahar

The deteriorating relations between the United States and Iran, coupled with the threat of return of sanction regime, have once again put India in a fix. Government officials confide that pace of work on projects such as Chabahar port and building railway and road networks would get affected if the US President Donald Trump operationalises his threats against Tehran. Sources said the issue will prominently figure during the October 24 visit of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. What is worrisome is that ahead of Tillerson's visit, a top US official has asked countries to take a hard look at their business partners in Iran. "What we're asking is for countries to take a hard look at who you're doing business with in Iran and to understand who are the beneficial owners of these companies," the official said, warning against business deals with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-controlled companies. Recently, while deposing before a parliamentary panel, officials conceded that the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline project hasn't moved forward since 2008 in the wake of sanctions on Iran. rime Minister Narendra Modi had prioritised the connectivity project in Central Asia and the Chabahar port in Iran to provide a key route to Afghanistan, while bypassing Pakistan. During his visit to Tehran last May, Modi had promised to accentuate work on Indian commitments and develop two terminals and five berths at Chabahar port located on the Gulf of Oman, within 18 months. India and Iran are simultaneously also developing the International North South Transport Corridor (INSTC) together with Russia, connecting the Gulf of Oman to Central Asia and Eastern Europe. These projects are crucial for India as they present an alternative to China's One Belt One Road initiative and also a counter to Gwadar in Pakistan's Balochistan. But the sanctions slapped by the Trump administration and threats of more sanctions has put India's diplomats in a quandary. Though none of the 12 companies put on the US sanction list recently have any business with India, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) fears that the prospect of their expansion has potential to hit the port as well as the Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) between Iran and P5+1 on Iran's nuclear program and the corresponding easing of sanctions, concluded last July, has provided the long-awaited opening for India. Iranian Ambassador in New Delhi Gholamreza Ansari recently accused the US of trying to ensure that India reduced oil imports from his country. "The US wants to deprive Iran of the Indian energy market," he said. India has cut its oil imports from Iran by approximately 20% in 2017, though its global imports have risen by 5.4%. Some companies, such as Essar oil, have dropped imports from Iran in August by as much as 75%, according to oil industry estimates. The US has made it quite clear that countries doing business with Iran should ensure that their economic relationships with Iran do not lead to the strengthening of the IRGC in particular and their ability to do so much harm to so many people. Under previous Western sanctions, India had devised a barter-like scheme acceptable to Washington that allowed it to make some oil payments to Tehran in rupees through UCO Bank. But since sanctions were partly lifted early last year, the rupee account has been run down by more than 90% to just Rs 2,000 crore ($305 million) because Indian refiners have resumed paying for Iranian oil in Euros. Sources here say as the tensions re-emerge, India was looking at reverting to the old rupee mechanism. Officials here said the government was still in a wait-and-watch mode and closely monitoring Trump's approach towards Iran. But they concede that of late, reports of western manufacturers shying away from supplying equipment for the Chahbhar port for fear the fresh sanctions are hitting New Delhi's strategic ambitions in the region.

The ambiguity of U.S. goals in Afghanistan has turned the country into a staging ground of a war which is escalating day by day

US Senator John McCain (often traveling to Afghanistan),
has been caught with ISIS terrorist leaders in Syria.
There is a serious need to redefine the Afghan-US relations because they are not based on mutual interests since 2001, when the US invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban regime. Since the beginning of this involvement, the United States has been pursuing only its interests, and Afghanistan has not been considered a valuable partner in this equation despite making a lot of sacrifices over the last decade and a half. The US still has the final say in all affairs, and that is mostly against Afghan interests.
US activities indicate the superpower is still pursuing its interests in Afghanistan in the protraction of the conflict. The ambiguity of American goals or at least its non-correspondence with Afghan side has turned the country into a staging ground of a war, which has no end in sight after 16 years of fighting, and is escalating day by day. As per the American design, the war has reached a phase in which all victims are Afghans. Americans are staying safe in their military bases, but Afghan people are caught between a rock and a hard place in the midst of the conflict. On the one hand, insurgent suicide and complex attacks claim their lives, but on the other hand the US bombs their homes, villages and wedding ceremonies. This is the price Afghan people are paying for their friendship with the US.
The more the political and security situation worsens in the country, the greater the need to redefine Afghan-US relations and ask the US to clarify its goals in Afghanistan becomes. There is an ever serious need to eliminate the ambiguities by responding to the questions about American military presence. Unless bilateral Afghan-American relations are clearly defined, and the US stops fishing in troubled waters, it is impossible to prevent bloodshed and violence in Afghanistan.
The upshot of the continuation of Afghanistan’s friendship with the United States in the current form is the protraction of war and changing the country into a staging ground for the showdown of global superpowers. Leaders of the National Unity Government and all political leaders should join hands to steer the country out of the ongoing tragedy. To this end, redefining Afghan-US relations and asking the US to clarify its goals in Afghanistan is the first step they should take. It is an injustice to see the Afghan nation paying a heavy price for ever for friendship with the US, while American troops target their allied Afghan forces besides civilians and insurgents from their safe bases.
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Sunday, 22 October 2017

There is a need for accurate planning to develop Afghanistan’s cities: President Ghani

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The President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, addressed the 12th Silk Road Mayors Forum and said there was a need for accurate planning to develop Afghanistan’s cities. He regarded Afghanistan as the key region in the Silk Road reconstruction and said countries involved in the Silk Road’s route should have more cooperation with each other. “Afghanistan’s role as the Asia’s crossroad should be kept in the reconstruction plan. It is a need to concentrate on urban development, economic development and common points. The railway and the optic fiber network will be established,” the President Ghani said. Meanwhile, Urban Development Minister Sayed Mansoor Naderi said the new Silk Road will contribute immensely to the economic growth in the region. Kabul Municipality hosted the Silk Road Forum which was attended by mayors from the countries involved in Silk Road. The Forum provided an opportunity for Kabul Municipality to build long-lasting relationships with its counterparts in the region and also seek institutional capacity-building support in areas of urban planning and development that meets international standards.
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Thursday, 19 October 2017


If in Afghanistan you put yourself against corrupt officials, you will have few friends, but the right ones.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Turkish Airlines signed a contract with Afghanistan Carpet Union

The agreement will help Afghan businessmen sell their carpets to almost 300 destinations around the world, especially to Europe.
A Turkish airline has agreed to fly Afghan carpets to 300 destinations at a discounted rate of 50 percent. The agreement was signed between Carpet Producers Union of Afghanistan and Turkish Airlines in Kabul. Afghan businessmen will be charged $2.5 USD per kilogram to transport their carpets to European countries. The carpets will reach their destinations within three days. “The goal is to create direct contact between the Afghan businessmen and the company so that their carpets can reach the target market by the given time,” said Jamal Muradian, director for international cargo at Turkish Airlines. Members of the union said the agreement will provide them the chance to increase their turnover. Jamran Qasemi, marketing officer at a carpet company in Kabul, said that they have an online software program for their customers where they can place their orders and choose their colors and sizes. “We are improving. Our customers from around the world are familiar with our products therefore it is crucial for us to use different ways to sell the carpets produced by our company,” Qasemi said. Other members of the union called on government to provide them with further marketing opportunities. “Now the cost of transferring carpets abroad has sharply decreased. Before the agreement with Turkish Airlines, we were paying $2 for each kilogram of carpet just to Dubai but now we are paying 8 cents,” said Sayed Abbas, a member of the union. Officials from the Ministry of Commerce has said they continue their efforts to provide better ways for the export of domestic goods, especially carpets.
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Авиакомпания Turkish Airlines заключила контракт с афганскими производителями ковров об экспорте их продукции

Соглашение было подписано в Кабуле. По его условиям авиакомпания будет поставлять афганские ковры более чем в 300 городов назначения со скидкой в 50%. Срок транспортировки составит не более трёх дней.
"Нашей целью было наладить прямой контакт между афганскими бизнесменами и авиакомпанией, чтобы ковры могли попадать к покупателям в срок", прокомментировал соглашение директор Turkish Airlines по международным грузоперевозкам Д.Мурадиан.
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The World Food Program (WFP) received a US$1 million contribution from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to assist approximately 38,000 vulnerable people in Afghanistan

The World Food Program (WFP) received a US$1 million contribution from the Government of the People’s Republic of China to provide urgent food and nutrition assistance to people affected by food crisis in Afghanistan. 
The contribution will assist approximately 38,000 vulnerable people including Afghan returnees from Pakistan in eastern Afghanistan as well as internally displaced families in central and southern regions. “This contribution is an opportunity to start a partnership between WFP Afghanistan and China” said Yao Jing, Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan. He added that as winter draws near, displaced people in the country are faced with difficulties and as a friendly and close neighbor to Afghanistan, China hopes to work with WFP in helping Afghan people get through the food crisis. “My sincere thanks go to China’s government for its first contribution to WFP’s emergency operation in Afghanistan. WFP Afghanistan sees this exciting development as a foundation for a new and fruitful partnership between WFP Afghanistan and the Government of China that will help achieve our shared vision of an Afghanistan free from hunger” said Paul Howe, WFP Deputy Country Director for Afghanistan. In 2017, WFP plans to assist up to 2.9 million food insecure people in Afghanistan by providing food or cash to those affected by conflict and natural disasters, as well as additional nutrition support, disaster risk reduction activities and school meal take-home rations for girls and boys in food insecure areas. In addition, WFP is providing food and cash assistance to more than 550,000 internally displaced people, refugees and returnees.