World Newsletter

12th Aug 2019

Afghanistan's president on Sunday rejected foreign interference as the  United States and the Taliban appear to be closing in on a peace deal  without the Afghan government at the table.  President Ashraf Ghani spoke during the Muslim holiday Eid-al-Adha and as  U.S. and Taliban negotiators continue their work in the Gulf nation of  Qatar, where the insurgents have a political office.  Speaking after the Eid prayers, Mr. Ghani insisted that next month's  presidential election is essential so that Afghanistan's leader will have a  powerful mandate to decide the country's future after years of war.  "Our future cannot be decided outside, whether in the capital cities of our  friends, nemeses or neighbors. The fate of Afghanistan will be decided here  in this homeland," he said. "We don't want anyone to intervene in our  affairs." 

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is seeking a peace deal by Sept. 1, weeks before  the vote. The two sides are expected to agree on the withdrawal of some  20,000 U.S. and NATO troops in return for Taliban guarantees that  Afghanistan would not be a base for other extremist groups.  Few details have emerged, but Mr. Khalilzad and the lead Taliban negotiator,  Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, have been traveling in recent days to brief  several countries involved in the process on the latest developments.  The Taliban spokesman in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, who has said a deal is  expected at the end of this round of talks, on Sunday issued an Eid message  expressing the hope that Afghanistan "will celebrate future Eids under the  Islamic system, without occupation, under an environment of permanent peace  and unity."  AFTER PROTESTS, RUSSIA TELLS TELLS GOOGLE NOT TO ADVERTISE 'ILLEGAL' EVENTS  Russia's state communications watchdog said on Sunday it had asked Google to  stop advertising "illegal mass events" on its YouTube video platform.  Tens of thousands of Russians staged what observers called the country's  biggest political protest for eight years on Saturday, defying a crackdown  to demand free elections to Moscow's city legislature.  The watchdog, Roscomnadzor, said Russia would consider it interference in  its sovereign affairs and a hostile influence should Google fails to respond  to the request.  Police rounded up scores of people after the demonstration in Moscow and at  another rally in St. Petersburg, and detained a leading opposition figure  before it began. But the response from the authorities was milder than the  previous week when more than 1,000 protesters were detained, sometimes  violently. 

The White Counter monitoring group said up to 60,000 people had attended the  Moscow rally, describing it as the biggest in Russia for eight years. Police  put turnout at 20,000.  SAUDI ALLIANCE STRIKES AFTER ADEN 'COUP'  A Saudi-led coalition on Sunday launched a strike against Yemen's southern  separatists after they seized the presidential palace in second city Aden in  deadly fighting that threatened to push the war-ravaged nation deeper into  turmoil.  The seizure, decried by the Riyadh-backed Yemeni government as a  UAE-supported coup, reflects deep divisions between secessionists and  loyalist forces, both of whom have fought Shiite Huthi rebels.  "The coalition targeted an area that poses a direct threat to one of the  important sites of the legitimate government," a statement said, calling on  the separatist Southern Transitional Council (STC) to withdraw from  positions seized in Aden or face further attacks.  It did not specify the target but residents in Aden told AFP it was an air  strike against separatist camps in the city.  Since the fighting flared on Thursday, around 40 people have been killed and  260 others including civilians wounded, according to the UN.  "It is heart-breaking that during Eid-al-Adha, families are mourning the  death of their loved ones instead of celebrating together in peace and  harmony," said Lise Grande, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in  Yemen.  Riyadh-based Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi is backed by the  coalition - led by Saudi Arabia and its ally the United Arab Emirates - that  is battling the Iran-aligned Huthis.  But another force in the anti-Huthi coalition - the UAE-trained Security  Belt Force - has since Wednesday been battling loyalists in Aden, the  temporary base of Hadi's government. 

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