Biden’s advisers: ‘Leave Afghanistan by August 31’
CNN reports how the closest advisers of US President Joe Biden have advised him not to extend the date of withdrawal beyond the date already set of 31 August. Meanwhile, Biden is expected to decide by today on whether to extend the deadline to complete the withdrawal from Afghanistan, including the 5,800 American soldiers guarding Kabul airport, along with their armaments and equipment. Biden is under growing pressure not to withdraw the US troops from Kabul airport to allow more Afghan civilians to be evacuated. The issue will be the main point of discussion in today’s virtual G7 summit. US Vice-President Kamala Harris said in Singapore that the main goal of the United States in Afghanistan is to evacuate American citizens, Afghan allies and vulnerable groups after the return to power of the Taliban. The Taliban have warned “there will be consequences” if the US stays in Afghanistan beyond next week.
In other developments…
- An Afghan soldier was killed and three others wounded in a skirmish between Afghan security forces and a group of unknown assailants at the north entrance of Kabul airport. The German army said its troops, as well as those of the US, were also involved in the clash but were not injured.
- Some young Afghans have reported being whipped by the Taliban for wearing jeans. In a post published on Facebook and reported by the Daily Telegraph, an Afghan boy said the Taliban accused them of “not respecting Islam”.
- The anti-Taliban resistance can count on “thousands of people” ready to fight, said Ali Nazary, head of foreign relations for the Afghanistan National Resistance Front. He told the BBC his group had “thousands of forces ready for resistance,” but wants to pursue peaceful negotiations first. The Taliban claim to have surrounded and besieged the group’s stronghold in the Panshir Valley. Resistance officials also said the Taliban were advancing in the region.
- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz are against accepting Afghan refugees in their countries. Orban said such refugees “must be prevented from leaving the region”, highlighting the importance of supporting Turkey and the Balkan countries to prevent migrants from entering the European Union. Chancellor Kurz wrote that people leaving the country must be helped by neighbouring states. “The EU must protect its external borders and fight illegal migration and human traffickers,” he said.
Zelenskyy vows to take back Crimea
The Ukrainian president on Monday vowed to do all he can to take back the peninsula of Crimea, annexed by Russia seven years ago, and urged international allies to support the effort. President Zelenskyy spoke at the Crimean Platform summit and called to build up pressure on Russia over the 2014 annexation that has been denounced as illegal by most of the world. As a result, Russia’s relations with the West have sunk to post-Cold War low.
Paralympics 2021 start today
Everything is ready for the start of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, with the opening ceremony scheduled for 8pm (1pm Malta time) at the Olympic stadium. Some 4,400 athletes from 162 national Paralympic committees will compete in 539 medal events across 22 sports. Malta will be represented by two athletes: Thomas Borg in athletics and Vladyslava Kravchenkov in swimming. They will both go into action on Friday. The games will end on Sunday, September 5.
Four-match stand closure after French football brawl
French authorities have ordered a four-match stand closure and arrested a 28-year-old man after ugly scenes caused Nice’s Ligue 1 game with Marseille to be abandoned. Marseille’s Dimitri Payet was hit by a bottle and threw it back into the crowd, causing fans to storm the pitch. Nice’s players returned to the pitch after a delay, but Marseille’s did not. The game was abandoned as a result and Nice, who were leading 1-0, were awarded a 3-0 victory.