KW 32: Germany rejects calls to return troops to Afghanistan, Tigray forces reportedly seize control of UN World Heritage Site in Ethiopia, UK and US impose fresh sanctions on Belarus

NEWS

Germany rejects calls to return troops to Afghanistan: German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has rejected demands to stop the advance of the Taliban in Afghanistan by military means. „Are society and parliament prepared to send the Bundeswehr into a war and keep large numbers of troops there for at least a generation? If we are not, then the joint withdrawal with our partners remains the right decision,“ the defense minister wrote. She added that „the reports from Kunduz and all across Afghanistan are bitter and deeply painful. We fought there with our allies. Bundeswehr soldiers died in Afghanistan.“ The liberal FDP party has called for an end to negotiations with the radical Islamists. The Foreign Office in Berlin announced that there would be an ad hoc update of the current situation report, which, according to the interior ministry, will become the basis for decisions on further deportations to Afghanistan.
dw.com, faz.net

Tigray forces reportedly seize control of UN World Heritage Site in Ethiopia: Forces from Ethiopia’s Tigray region have taken control of the town of Lalibela, whose famed rock-hewn churches are a United Nations World Heritage Site, and residents were fleeing, two eyewitnesses told Reuters last Thursday. The United States called on Tigrayan forces to respect the cultural heritage of the town, as Washington’s grows increasingly alarmed over the widening of the conflict. „We’ve seen the reports that Tigrayan forces have taken Lalibela. We call on the TPLF to protect this cultural heritage,“ State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters. In recent weeks fighting has spread from Tigray into two neighboring regions, Amhara and Afar, forcing around 250,000 people to flee. The developments come eight months after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a military offensive against Tigray’s ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), sending in national troops and militia fighters from the Amhara region who were joined by forces from neighboring Eritrea. Senior officials from the United Nations and the United States government who visited Ethiopia this week raised alarm at the widening of the war in Tigray to other parts of northern Ethiopia. Lalibela, also a holy site for millions of Ethiopian Orthodox Christians, is in the North Wollo Zone of the Amhara region in Ethiopia’s north.
nbcnews.com, cnn.com

UK and US impose fresh sanctions on Belarus: US President Joe Biden on Monday said the United States is levying new sanctions against Belarus marking the one-year anniversary of Alexander Lukashenko’s election, which the US and international community have said was fraught with irregularities. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said Monday Britain will take measures to limit the Belarusian regime’s trade on a number of goods that may be used to repress dissidents or might provide a revenue stream. The UK will also adopt measures to stop the provision of loans to the regime, as well as purchases of transferable securities and money-market instruments issued by the Belarusian state and state-owned banks. Belarusian air carriers will be banned from flying over the UK or landing in the country. Lukashenko claimed on Monday that the opposition had plotted a coup ahead of last year’s election. He also denied involvement in the death of an exiled activist in Ukraine last week and said the Belarusian athlete who fled the Tokyo Olympics, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, had been “manipulated” by external forces and would not otherwise have chosen asylum in another country. Iraq, meanwhile, is taking back hundreds of migrants stranded on the border between Belarus and the EU country of Lithuania.
independent.co.uk, politico.eu, euronews.com, politico.eu, n-tv.de

Suspected jihadists kill scores of villagers in northern Mali: Suspected jihadists massacred more than 40 civilians in northern Mali and killed 12 troops in an ambush in neighboring Burkina Faso, officials said Monday, highlighting the security crisis gripping the two fragile states. Terrorists on Sunday invaded the villages of Karou, Ouatagouna and Daoutegeft near Mali’s border with Niger, a military officer told AFP. An official at a fourth village said his locality had also come under attack. Mali, a landlocked and impoverished state in the heart of the West Africa’s Sahel region, has been battling a jihadist insurgency since 2012. The crisis began with unrest in the north of the country that spread to Mali’s ethnically volatile centre and then to neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso.
france24.com

Man runs over two women in Iran for not wearing head coverings: Two women were seriously injured in Iran on Monday after a man allegedly ran them over with his car because they weren’t wearing head coverings, according to local media reports. During the incident in Urmia in north-western Iran, the driver loudly protested the women’s outfit choices, saying they were un-Islamic, according to the Ilna news agency. This led to a dispute and then he allegedly rammed the women with his car, running them over. The women sustained serious injuries but are no longer in a life-threatening condition, according to Ilna. The driver allegedly attempted to flee the scene but was later arrested. Masoumeh Ebtekar, vice president for women’s affairs in Iran, called the attack attempted murder and demanded a harsh punishment.
haaretz.com

„Political hostages in Belarus“: Iraq flies refugees out of Belarus n-tv.de
Accusation of terrorism financing: Gold Star families accuse major banks of aiding terrorists nytimes.com
Mozambique: Rwandan troops help Mozambique recapture key port held by jihadists france24.com
Investigations: KSK commander Kreitmayr allegedly instructed female doctors to inform him about right-wing extremist tattoos discovered on soldiers, in violation of doctor-patient confidentiality tagesschau.de
South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa carried out significant cabinet reshuffle after unrest aljazeera.com

NUMBER OF THE WEEK

Taliban insurgents tightened their grip on captured Afghan territory on Tuesday as civilians hid in their homes, and a European Union official said the militants now control 65% of the country after a string of gains as foreign forces pull out.
reuters.com

BACKGROUND

Nestlé, Henkel or Carlsberg – How European corporations finance dictator Lukashenko’s propaganda: Western companies are airing the majority of their commercials on Belarusian state television channels, thereby supporting the government’s propaganda – although most of the consumer goods manufacturers reject these accusations. A climate of fear prevails in Belarus. On the anniversary of dictator Alexander Lukashenko’s re-election on Monday, the opposition dared not demonstrate after 40,000 arrests and 1800 documented cases of torture. There had been protests by hundreds of thousands of people for months after the obviously rigged election. But the state put down the protests with violence, and there has been no visible opposition in Belarus since then. What has remained the same since the protests were squashed, however, is that Western companies are responsible for the lion’s share of TV advertising, the revenue from which in turn finances the three state television stations Belarus 1, ONT and CTV. According to a study by the German-Swiss human rights group Libereco, 63% of the 874 commercials broadcast in one week came from Western consumer goods companies.
handelsblatt.com

NATO calls on Taliban to end its attacks in Afghanistan: The Taliban seized a sixth Afghan provincial capital on Monday – the city of Aibak – following a weekend blitz across the north that saw urban centers fall in quick succession and the government struggle to keep the militants at bay. Earlier Monday, the Taliban said they were moving in on Mazar-i-Sharif – the largest city in the north and a linchpin for the government’s control of the region – after capturing Sheberghan to its west, and Kunduz and Taloqan to its east. NATO has called for a political solution for Afghanistan. A NATO official said the Taliban must understand that the international community will never recognize them if they refuse the political process and want to conquer the country by force. NATO called on the Taliban to end their attacks and participate in peace talks. An Afghan-led peace process must advance a cease-fire and a political settlement, as well as uphold the human rights of women, children, and minorities, and ensure that Afghanistan „never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists.“ The US State Department said Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy, was in Doha, Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, to help formulate a joint international response to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. Khalilzad would „press the Taliban to stop their military offensive and to negotiate a political settlement, which is the only path to stability and development in Afghanistan,“ the State Department said.
france24.com, spiegel.de, npr.org

Pakistan’s geoeconomic necessities: Pakistan has finally got the opportunity to look towards its economic development after facing internal and external security turmoil during last few decades. It is willing to prioritize economic security and leverage it to protect the national interests. The shift from geo-political confrontation to geo-economic cooperation was proposed by National Security Adviser, Moeen Yousuf. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has also reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to ‘geo-economic shift’ during his physical and virtual contacts with several countries including Germany, and Egypt. The country has started diversifying its economic and diplomatic engagement with states. Domestically, the situation is rather vague when it comes to economic attributes necessary for pulling geo-economic strategy. Pakistan is facing recurrent need of foreign loans, trade deficit, narrow export base, and low international market share. This puts question whether the strategy would ever be materialized or not. To prevent the latter scenario, government should work on the means for successful achievement of geo-economic goals. Pakistan is already working on enhancing its tourism due to the richness of natural aesthetic places with all their diversity. Pakistan should work on maritime tourism as well, which can be a huge industry, but given the poor management of the beaches and limited development, it does not come under global attractive tourist destinations despite having the potential. The lack of attention is not limited to tourism domain. Pakistan has marine area of 240,000 square kilometers which makes up to 36.4% of the country’s territory.
moderndiplomacy.eu

QUOTE

„What we have apparently not achieved is a permanently and comprehensively changed Afghanistan for the better.“
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.
spiegel.de

SECURE?

Brandenburg approves batons for prison staff: Brandenburg was the only German state that prohibited weapons in prisons. However, because prisoners have become increasingly violent, some changes will be made. Several of the employees are to receive so-called batons. The tightened new security concept for the four correctional facilities in the state envisages that in future there will be more task forces with staff specially trained for conflict situations. These groups will carry batons.
berliner-zeitung.de

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