The Latest: Iran president calls for election in Afghanistan
TEHRAN — Iran’s president is calling for elections in Afghanistan to determine the future of the country, where he hopes peace will return after Western troops have left and the Taliban have seized control.
Speaking on state TV on Saturday, Ebrahim Raisi said that the Afghan people should vote to determine their own government “as soon as possible.”
“A government should be established there which is elected by the votes and the will of the people,” he said.
“The Islamic Republic has always sought peace and calm in Afghanistan, and an end to bloodshed and fratricide, and the sovereignty of the people’s will. We support a government elected by the Afghan people,” he added.
MORE ON AFGHANISTAN:
— US expects to admit more than 50,000 evacuated Afghans
— Afghan women demand rights as Taliban seek recognition
— US defends strike that Afghan family says killed innocents
— Qatar says it’s not clear when Kabul airport will reopen
— Those left in Afghanistan complain of broken US promises
— Find more AP coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/afghanistan
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
VENICE, Italy — Afghan female filmmakers who fled the Taliban are begging the world to not forget the Afghan people and to support its artists.
The women spoke at a panel discussion at the Venice Film Festival to warn that a country without culture will eventually lose its identity.
Sahraa Karimi, the first female president of the Afghan Film Organization, choked up in telling reporters all that had been lost after the Taliban completed their takeover of the country.
She cited numerous films in pre-and-post production, filmmaking workshops, insurance policies that had all ground to a halt, and film archives that are now in the hands of the Taliban.
“Imagine a country without artists, a country without filmmakers. How can they defend its identity?” She said.
WASHINGTON — The top U.S. military general has thanked members of the 10th Mountain Division for their service in Afghanistan during the evacuation of Americans, Afghans and others over the past several weeks.
Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with military police soldiers at the Rhine Ordnance Barracks in Germany on Saturday.
Standing outside talking to a group, he asked them, “You were there for the bombing?” Heads nodded and a chorus of voices answered, “yes, sir.”
A suicide bombing by the Islamic State group near a gate at the Kabul airport more than a week ago killed 13 U.S. service members as well as 169 Afghans who were crowded around the entry, desperate to get on flights out of Afghanistan.
“You guys did an incredible job, all of you — Army, Navy, Marines, the Air Force — flying out 124,000 people. That’s what you saved,” Milley told the soldiers. He said they “showed enormous courage discipline and capability, working together. It’s something you should always be proud of… This will be a moment that you’ll always remember.”
WASHINGTON — The United States intends to send Afghan evacuees who fail to clear initial screenings to the nation of Kosovo, which has agreed to house them for up to a year, a U.S. official told the Associated Press on Saturday.
The U.S. plan for potentially long-term stays in a third country for Afghan evacuees whose cases require more processing is likely to face objections from refugee advocates. They complain that of a lack of transparency and uncertain legal jurisdiction in the Biden administration’s use of overseas transit sites to screen the roughly 120,000 evacuees from Taliban-held Afghanistan.
Other U.S. officials have said they expect most or all Afghans whose cases may initially raise red flags or questions to pass further screening.
Saturday’s disclosure was first time the U.S. revealed its plans for Afghans or other evacuees who have failed to clear initial rounds of screening or whose cases otherwise require more time.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information was not yet authorized for release, said “transit centers provide a safe place for diverse groups, an opportunity to complete their paperwork while we conduct security screenings before they continue to their final destination in the United States or in another country.”
U.S. officials have given conflicting accounts of whether they are readying for the evacuees a military camp near the Kosovo capital used by the U.S army, Camp Bondsteel, or a site just outside the army camp that was previously used to house crews of road builders.
— By Ellen Knickmeyer
BELGRADE, Serbia — Austria’s leader says any migration wave from Afghanistan should be handled in neighboring countries.
Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Saturday in Belgrade that a potential wave toward Europe must not take place. He adds that “this is why we are in contact with countries in the region.”
Kurz spoke after meeting Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic. Thousands of migrants from the Middle East, Africa or Asia have been stranded in Serbia and neighboring countries situated on the so-called Balkan migration route toward Western Europe.
Kurz has long taken a tough approach to migration issues. He recently said that Austria won’t accept any migrants from Afghanistan because it has taken in a “disproportionately high” number since 2015, when one million people entered Europe from the Middle East, Africa or Asia.
KABUL, Afghanistan — Pakistan’s powerful intelligence chief has made a surprise visit to the Afghan capital of Kabul. That’s according to two Pakistan officials who asked not to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
It wasn’t immediately clear what Gen. Faiez Hameed had to say Saturday to the Taliban leadership but the Pakistani intelligence service has perhaps the greatest outside influence over the Taliban.
The Taliban leadership had its headquarters in Pakistan and were often said to be in direct contact with the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
Although Pakistan routinely denied giving the Taliban military aid, the accusation was often made by the Afghan government and Washington.
— By Zarar Khan
ISTANBUL — An official at Emergency Hospital in Kabul says two people were killed and 12 wounded after Taliban fighters in the capital fired their weapons into the air in celebration.
Taliban in Kabul fired into the air Friday night to celebrate gains on the battlefield in Panjshir province, which still remains under the control of anti-Taliban fighters.
The hospital official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter criticized the practice of firing into the air and called on the militants to stop it immediately
Tolo TV reported 17 bodies and 41 wounded people were transferred to Emergency Hospital.
— By Tameem Akhgar